‘I can’t believe the Agency doesn’t have any cars here,’ Troy said lounged on Raz’s shoulder, as small and light as a doll. ‘You guys are supposed to rule the world or something, and you don’t have any cars stashed on the road to Joxy?’
The restaurant had valets, gilded menus, and quiet, attentive servers.
“Opulent” was the word that sat in the forefront of his mind, and every inch of the establishment made Raz want to cry with anger and exasperation.
Raz took a deep breath, held it, then released it.
He closed his eyes and listened to his anti-anxiety app as it took him through five minutes of breathing exercises, designed to calm him the fuck down.
Raz now knew one new empirical fact: spending the night with company definitely put a spring in one’s step.
Up ahead, Screen’s door opened, and a woman of Amazonian proportions, with vines falling down her back like Medusa’s snakes, walked out and headed for the elevator. Screen saw him, beckoned him, and they exchanged high-fives as they headed for their duty stations.
Raz opened his eyes, the panic disappearing from his throat as he took in the feel of the Agency sheets under his skin. Required sheets. Required bed. Everything so much nicer than it had been in his crappy little bedsit.
The air was clean. The air was always clean. It always so comforting: the faint scent of air conditioning, recycled air, and chemical cleaners.
It was the smell he’d come to associate with the word “home”.
One Year Before Dorian Knocks
The walls were going to talk, and they weren’t going to be nice.
Raz stared down at his hands, at the new prescriptions, and tried to take a breath. His appointment had gone well, so something horrible had to happen. That was just how things balanced out.
The secretary was staring at him – he just knew it. He pressed the elevator button as quickly as he could. The button took a moment to light up. It worked perfectly fine. It was just…old and worn down, like the rest of the building.
The first thing Stef saw upon reintegrating was Jones smiling. She stood at the long metal bench, her hair held up by a purple hairclip that seemed to be projecting holographic flowers into her hair.
She gave a happy sigh. Jonesy was so pretty when presenting as Andrea. Boy!Jonesy was pretty too, but always seemed like he was just on the tipping point where he could become a pretty boy anime villain.
‘I want to poke your hair,’ she said, drifting towards the tech.
‘Poke at your own peril,’ Jones chided gently. ‘And besides, you two have work to do.’
There was a knock at the door.
Curt turned to look – no one came to bother him in his room – especially not on his day off. He didn’t have to go to Magnolia’s masochistic early-morning training; no missions, nothing to do, except drop in on Stef and argue for two hours about Star Trek.
Even with all of those established facts; there was someone knocking on his door.
Magnolia opened her eyes, immediately on guard as bright lights flashed in front of her face.
A tablet lay where her pillow had been, flashing “Panic Mode” in large, unfriendly letters.