‘You actually showed,’ Tian said as he slid into the booth across from Enid.
She shrugged sipped her coffee. ‘I didn’t get a better offer.’ Tian put his feet up on the seat, and she kicked him under the table. ‘Bad enough you’re only wearing half a glamour, do you have to draw attention to us?’
‘If you dislike the attention, do something about it.’
She pulled out her mobile phone, flipped it open and began to search for a number. ‘Good idea, how about I call one of Remy’s bitches and I deal with him instead? Madchester doesn’t give me what I want, but you’re easy to deal with, stop being easy and I’m going with Remington.’
He reached across the table and closed her phone. ‘Don’t.’
She slapped his hand away and opened the phone again. ‘Don’t ever think you can tell me what to do, goblin. Remington’s…Remington, but at least he doesn’t remind me of some life I can’t even remember all the time, do you know how fucking annoying that gets?’
She held up the phone, her finger hovering over the call button. ‘So, you gonna play nice, or what?’
She snapped the phone closed and returned it to her pocket. ‘Good. But don’t forget I can go running to him whenever I want.’
‘He wants to fuck you,’ Tian said quietly.
‘He wants to fuck anything with a hole, recruits in suits are a sometimes pleasure, so he makes it out to be far more of a fetish than it really is. Plus, really, I think it’s more of some power-trip fantasy about screwing the system. He’d do an agent if he could get his hands on one.’
Tian raised his bushy eyebrows. ‘Oh, remind me to tell you that story sometime.’
‘Remy fucked an agent?’
‘Let’s just say, people will do almost anything for a handful of Starbright.’
‘You can’t leave it at that.’
‘Sure I can,’ the goblin retorted, ‘especially when her majesty is waiting.’
‘Remind me why I don’t use the nuke in storage against you.’
This surprised him. ‘Why the hell would the angels need a nuke?’
She shrugged. ‘We’ve only got one, it’s small, and kinda faggy purple. I think it’s a nuke, could be the gay bomb.’
‘Do you really have to be such a bitch?’
‘Yeah, I do actually, it’s like that sharks and swimming thing. We doing this or not?’
‘Well either we’re doing this,’ Tian said, ‘or Remy’s doing you, your choice.’
She held up her hand. ‘Madchester this time, for what it’s worth. Just don’t take me to the Court, I don’t want too much fey-stink on me.’
‘She’s not in Court,’ Tian said as he reached across and grabbed her arm.
‘Good, because-’ She shut up as they disappeared – the store around her became more and more real until it overtook them and they were pushed away. Ghostly ground appeared under their feet and rushed by as they traveled, and then everything faded back in.
It was a hotel room. All of the windows were blocked with dark curtains – apparently to both block the light to stop her from judging the time of day and therefore the time zone, and therefore the location. She snorted, this was typical behaviour of “the queen” – typical paranoid behaviour. Mad behaviour.
‘Sit,’ the goblin said, awkwardly pointing his finger at the lounge.
‘Whatever Tian, whatever.’
The goblin disappeared into one of the other rooms. She sat on the couch, the white leather couch squeaked as she sat on it. She was impressed – for the Queen, the room was – security precautions aside – strangely sane.
‘Who dares enter my chamber?’ the Queen’s voice reverberated through the room. The first time she had heard it, it had been frightening, such a loud voice, seemingly without a source – it spoke of a powerful fey.
The illusion had been shattered when she had found that it was nothing more than a series of speakers.
She stood and the couch squeaked again. ‘The one you invited.’
The Queen stepped out of what she could only assume was the master bedroom. She was dressed as a contradiction – one short sleeve, one long sleeve, her dress had a tall frilly collar, but it had been tamed and was stitched down onto the velvety fabric – fabric, which in places had been replaced with vinyl. The colour red was prominent though, and that meant she was happy, at least for the moment.
‘Why were you sitting on my mouse?’
She turned to look back at the couch, to see if either kind of mouse where she had been sitting. The couch squeaked again – she didn’t react, this wasn‘t the strangest thing that had happened in the Queen‘s presence.
The queen grimaced. ‘Call me Queen, Enid.’
She shook her head. ‘You need my services, not the other way around.’ She thought back to how Tian had told her to talk around Madhe. ‘I pay no fealty to the Madchester Court.’
‘At the moment no. You will one day,’ Madhe said, ‘when your profession drives you to become one of mine again.’
She narrowed her eyes. ‘I was never one of yours, Madhe. The favour that was done was not done for me. It was a boon granted for another.’
Madhe swayed her head back and forth. ‘Those who have tasted madness will always return to it.’
‘Doesn’t your thief mind you telling people about that which was forgotten?’
‘You threw yourself into the life again, it’s fate that you’ll come back to me.’
She scowled at the goblin. ‘We’re here to talk about the mirror, Queen.’
The queen walked past her and sat on what she was beginning to believe was a mouse with a severe glamour disorder. ‘I am a Queen, I deserve a magic mirror. It always turns out for the worse when the Liars get a mirror, and Remington got a partial from the last one. The Lost do not seek them. Madchester is not only a Sanctuary for people.’
She made a neutral noise – not wanting to bring up the rumoured armaments of Madchester. The only thing more dangerous than crazy people were heavily armed crazy people. ‘It’s yours,’ she said. ‘I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t giving it to you.’
‘I know your price,’ the Queen said.
Madhe beckoned to Tian. ‘Get out of here, my court calls to me.’
‘As you wish, my lady, shall I-?’
‘Just get her out of here.’
Tian nodded, then grabbed a hold of her. She had time to grumble at him, before they faded away. ‘So what do you think?’
‘My loyalty is determined by the size of my pay check,’ she replied coldly. ‘Nothing more, nothing less.’
‘Doesn’t that tire you?’
‘No, it’s freeing. All I know is: loyalty gets you hurt. It’s best to be flexible.’
‘Will I meet you tonight?’
‘You’ll be there anyway, that’s your way, right? Try and get it yourself, then you don’t have to pay the finder’s fee?’
‘Even if it fell into my hands, I’d make sure you got paid.’
She crinkled her nose. ‘That almost sounded like…Watch out of the leech, he’s a big, tough bastard.’
‘I know,’ Tian said, ‘I was watching you talk to him. Woulda stepped in if he’d gotten dangerous. You aren’t actually going to…’
‘Give him some? Hell no. Just want his help, this big bastard is strong. I just trust his motivation to make him loyal. The freak wants his fuckbuddy back from the dead, and who am I to judge?’
‘You could have told him the truth.’
‘Mirrors can’t bring people back from the dead. All he’d get is a soulless replica.’
‘It won’t matter, he’ll be dead by the end of the night.’
‘It’ll matter if he gets his hands on it first.’
She shook her head. ‘Well, that’s not gonna happen.’
‘See you tomorrow, Eeeny.’
‘Whatever,’ she said and turned her back on him. She felt his presence disappear, then started the walk back to the Agency.