The Grey Edge: Chapter Thirteen
‘What did you do?’
Taylor released the fairy’s neck and stared at the corpse. ‘It’s obvious.’
‘Taylor, you killed him.’
‘He deserved to die.’
‘That wasn’t the question I asked.’
‘It’s the answer I’m giving you.’
Grigori waved a hand in front of his face. ‘Tell me you understand what’s going on here. You just killed a man, for no according-to-duty justifiable reason, in an area where we don’t even have jurisdiction.’
‘I am aware.’
He simply stared. ‘I am aware.’
‘What do you plan on doing?’
‘Was it worth it?’
‘I thought she was just a recruit.’
‘So…’ the Russian said, ‘you’d do this for any recruit?’
It had a moment of weakness. A moment of-
‘He deserved it.’
‘You did this for Magnolia,’ Grigori said.
‘This has nothing to do with her.’
‘You’re in fairyland, in the office of a man who exploited her on video, and then fucked her, a man who was going to mass-distribute the video, made you angry enough to kill him, and this has NOTHING to do with her?’
He just stared.
‘Tell me how you feel about her.’
‘I don’t feel anything.’
Grigori swept a hand towards the director. ‘I can make all of this go away. I’ve done it before, I can do it again.’
‘I generally do not inquire after your secrets, do not inquire after mine.’
‘I don’t feel anything for her. She’s a recruit, that’s all.’
Just a recruit. Just a recruit. Nothing more than a recruit. Nothing more than…
‘Are you going to help with this or not?’
‘You feel for her, that much is obvious, was obvious even before you had blood on your hands in her name. Just tell me how you feel. I just want to know, do that little for me.’
He looked to Grigori.‘She’s loyal, I appreciate that.’
‘You’re in love.’
He gave a quick, manic laugh. ‘You belong in Madchester.’
Grigori sat on the desk. ‘I’m not going to save your life until I know there’s something there worth saving.’
‘You’re supposed to be my friend.’
‘And you mine!’ Grigori hissed. ‘So just tell me.’
‘I don’t feel anything.’
‘You just killed a man.’
That much was truth.
‘It was an…involuntary reaction.’
‘And you don’t want to think about why you had that reaction, do you Taylor?’
Complicated. He was making things complicated again.
‘It doesn’t matter,’ he said, wondering what was below the window, and if the body would be discovered there. It probably would. In parts, however, there was the possibility of quiet removal.
Grigori stood and pushed him up against the wall, his body holding him in place. ‘You feel, you just don’t want to think about it.
‘I don’t feel.’
‘If you aren’t going to help, I have a body to dismember.’
He stared at Grigori, then all thoughts of dismemberment left his mind.
Grigori was kissing him.
Strong lips moved against his, and a strong arm wrapped around his neck to keep him in place.
Questions formed, and questions died, he didn’t know what to say, he didn’t know what to do, and nothing in his repository of contingency plans had prepared him for an eventuality like this.
Grigori withdrew after a moment and smiled at him. ‘Listen, Taylor, you are the furthest thing from a passionless husk, well, you were before anyway. So much of you has changed, but I refuse to believe that anything, even death, could have killed that much passion.’
Passion was a waste of time. A waste of effort. It was a weakness. It was-
‘Do that,’ he said, ‘again.’
Grigori grinned, grabbed a handful of his shirt, and kissed him again, lips pressing against his for another moment, before sliding across his cheek to assault his ear. There was warmth breath, and the centre of his world fell away. He was glad of Grigori being so close, holding him in place, otherwise, he would have fallen to the phalli-covered carpet.
‘Do you trust me?’ the Russian asked, his lips against his ear.
‘You know I do.’
‘Then come with me after this, we need to have a conversation. A long conversation, where you talk, and it isn’t just me filling the silence.’ He pulled him away from the wall, and pushed him into the nearest chair. ‘Now sit there while I work, I have a lot to do, and very little time to do organise everything.’
Grigori pulled a phone from his pocket, dialed a number, and held it to his ear. ‘Mario, I need you. don’t care where you are. I need you in fairytown, downtown, in twenty minutes else our deal is off for good, and I’m blacklisting you. Yes, it’s that fucking serious. Can you do it? Good. Twenty minutes, or you’re dead.’
‘That was familiar…’ he said, as the Russian pulled the body from the chair and began to strip it.
‘Yes,’ Grigori said. ‘It is, or at least, it should be.’
‘You’re an intelligent man, Taylor,’ he said, ‘do I really have to explain?’
‘What? I was one of your lovers?’
‘No,’ Grigori said, ‘we were exactly what we are now, except a hundred times closer, and we would fuck for fun. If you were just my lover, my life would have been so much simpler, I would have let you go, I would have never attempted to be your friend again. But…you were my friend, you are my friend, and for better or worse, I love you, my friend. It’s as simple, and as complicated as that.’
‘Later, everything will come later,’ Grigori said. ‘Find me a bag or something, we need to get rid of these clothes.’
He looked in the filing cabinet, and in the desk, and tossed Grigori a small overnight bag.
‘This will work,’ Grigori said, pulling the body across the office. ‘Check the computer, see if there was a list of where the video was going to be sent, just in case this is bigger than it seems.’
‘It’s Magpie,’ he said, ‘that’s big enough.’
‘Check the computer,’ Grigori ordered. ‘You can do that, can’t you?’
‘I’m not a scholar,’ he said.
The Russian gave him a smile. ‘It’s simple, I know you can do it.’
He sat on the now owner-less chair, and pulled the keyboard towards him. It was a lot different to the one that appeared when he had reason to require a computer. Sleek, slick, needlessly attractive. He pressed a hand to his mouth, and opened the fairy’s email program.
The program stared back at him, giving him a hundred different places to look.
On impulse, he clicked the “Sent” box.
‘Grigori,’ he said as he stared at the screen.
‘It’s already been sent.’
‘Where did it go?’
He stared at the list. ‘To my entire Agency.’
Grigori let out a low whistle. ‘Forget about that for the moment, what’s done is done, we need to concentrate on this.’
‘Unless there is a lot I don’t know about you, my friend, you can’t turn back time.’
He stared at the screen, watching the minutes tick by as Grigori finished stripping the body, placing the bag of clothes on the desk in front of him.
Grigori’s phone rang. ‘Ok, you’re here? Where? Ok, Applenut Road, number 379, we’re up on level six.’ Grigori slipped the phone back in his pocket, then turned to look at him. ‘You trust me?’
‘We’ve been over that.’
Grigori smiled. ‘Stand up.’ He did, and the Russian rounded him, pulling his jacket and his shirt off, loosening his belt and unzipping his fly. ‘Go outside, tell the girl at the desk that we Mister Assail requires lunch for three from the little place over on Redcap, and that there’s no need to hurry.’
‘And the reason I can’t be dressed?’
‘She likes you,’ Grigori said, ‘she kept staring at you while we were in the office. While I was flirting with her no less, so if you go out there, like this, it will put her off-balance enough not to question our request for lunch.’ Grigori grinned. ‘A bit of subterfuge, you can appreciate that, I’m sure.’
He looked down at his half-naked self, then back at Grigori. ‘I bow to your expertise in these matters,’ he said, walking over to the door, opening it only wide enough for him to slip out without the chance of the corpse being seen.
The receptionist sat, legs resting up on her desk. The legs were there to be seen, but they weren’t as good as-
There weren’t as good as Magnolia’s.
He underlined his mental note to investigate emotion-wiping techniques.
He stared at them for a few seconds longer. They really weren’t as nice as Magnolia’s.
The receptionist caught him staring, smiled, then returned the stare, eyes roaming over his exposed chest. ‘And what can I do for you, “Agent”?’ she asked with a giggle.
He thought of Grigori in the next room and did his best to channel his friend. He leaned on the desk, and thrust his head forward, bringing it closer to hers. ‘Mr Assail requires lunch.’
‘He already ate today, you boys getting him that riled up?’
‘From the little place on Redcap,’ he continued, hoping he wasn’t going to have to improvise that much.
The receptionist stood and walked around to stand in front of him. ‘That isn’t part of my job description, “Agent”,’ she said, ‘what’s to stop me from walking in there and just quitting?’
Her temperature was raised. Her pupils weren’t at in a normal state of dilation. She was much closer to him than she had to be. She was interested. She was…aroused. A normal enough state for a fairy, but he was the cause of it.
He panicked, and put a hand to her chest, the soft curve of her breast beneath his palm, his thumb resting on her exposed cleavage. ‘I’d be grateful,’ he said, dropping his voice to the rumble that Grigori used on wait staff to convince them to do something for him.
She pressed herself up against him, grabbed his free hand and pushed it to her arse. ‘How grateful?’
‘Grateful,’ he clarified, applying pressure with both of his hands, hoping it was the appropriate way to proceed.
‘I’ll hold you to that,’ she said as she shrank to six inches, rubbing her now-tiny flying body across his cheek. ‘Lunch for three, coming up, but you’d still better want dessert afterwards.’
‘Of course,’ he said, assuming it was the response she wanted.
She blew him a kiss, and flitted out through a small access window. He shook himself, then returned to Torgon’s office, where Grigori said, smoking a cigar.
‘Mario’s on his way up,’ Grigori said, ‘you get rid of her?’
‘Yes,’ he growled as he put his shirt back on.
‘Good, looks like we can get away with this. I’ve prepped a little email, telling her that he’ll be gone for the afternoon, so that buys us a few hours. We used fake ID, and this place doesn’t have cameras, we should be safe, if not, I know a few people to bribe.’ Grigori blew a smoke ring. ‘Congratulations, Agent Taylor, you just got away with murder.’
He put his jacket back on, and stared out the window.
There was a knock at the door, and Grigori stood. ‘Close your eyses.’
‘Just do it, Taylor.’
He did as instructed, and was led out of the office.
‘He’s in there,’ Grigori said, ‘do you thing.’
He was pushed into a chair.
‘You can open your eyes now.’
‘Keeping your contacts a secret?’
‘The less you know, the better it is for all concerned.’
‘What is he?’ he asked to fill the silence.
‘He’s a cannibal. That’s all I’m telling you.’ Grigori said. ‘Let him work.’
‘Why do you know a cannibal?’
‘Our line of work? Haven’t you met a few?’
‘He should be locked up.’
‘Then how would I deal with situations like this?’
‘You shouldn’t encourage this kind of-’
‘He owes me,’ Grigori said. ‘I’m keeping him free, and I’m helping him recover.’
‘By feeding him bodies?’
Grigori turned to him and smiled. ‘I don’t love him,’ he said, ‘and understand, that I will encourage the bad habits of others, to their detriment, if it helps to protect the people I love.’
‘This is the quickest way not to leave any evidence,’ Grigori said, ‘and his silence is guaranteed, as there’s no one else who will keep him safe, no deal he could cut that could incriminate me. And…as you said, the scum deserved to die, so focus on that.’
‘After this, I want you to go home, tell Magnolia to stay in bed, you need to make sure she needs her rest, she’s going to need it to deal with the outpouring of shit this is going to cause. And then, we’re going to talk. You tell me when you’re done with Magnolia, then I’ll shift you in, ok?’
Grigori dug into his jacket, and handed him a small, brown bag. ‘And give this to her. It’s new hair, though she’ll have to supply the new feathers for her look, I couldn’t swing those.’
The door to the office opened. ‘I’m done,’ a voice said. ‘And I hate you, Grigori.’
‘Give us five minutes, Mario, then you can leave.’ Grigori pulled him to his feet. ‘Come on, you’ve got a recruit to see to.’