Ryan looked back into the warehouse, making sure there were no more people moving, no more Solstice waiting to make a move, no more fae fading through the shadowed areas. He forced himself to look into each corner, each patch of darkness for far longer than he should have, in an effort to make up for his limitations.
His HUD was little more than functions he couldn’t access and worthless attempts to reconnect to the system.
He took one more look, finally satisfied that he was safe enough to turn his back, then hurried to follow Stef up the stairs.
There was a shot.

It was close, and it was from an Agency-issued gun. Stef had fired at something, or someone. He took the steps three at a time, listening for any other sounds of a struggle, of a fight, of–
He made it to the door that led out to the roof and stopped still. Stef had her back to him, her gun pointed into the air.
Time slowed. Every action seemed to take an eternity. He swore as he looked up, feeling each blink as though it took a minute. The mirror was hanging in the air above them, an amorphous blob of silver, a puddle of mercury. A blob that had a very thin, sharp point on one side – where the bullet from her gun had gone.
The mirror began to crack what had to be less than a second later.
He tore his eyes away and looked to the little girl.
He took a step towards her, feeling as if he was trying to move against gravity, and he heard a crack of lightning.
Gods, no.
The mirror shattered.
He threw his hands up on instinct to protect himself but pulled them away just as quickly.
A wave of magic rushed over him, empowering him and overwhelming him in the same moment. His legs shook as shards of mirror fell to the ground around him. The magic seeped away, and he steadied himself.
Stef lay on the ground.
He ran towards her, no longer feeling as though time had stopped, and slid to his knees beside her. She lay on her side, a sharp, blood-covered point protruding through the back of her vest. His heart seized as he slowly rolled her to her back, and saw the large shard of mirror that had torn through her chest.
He shook her, his hands moving to check for a pulse.
‘Stef?’
Little dead blue eyes stared.
He looked around, hoping to see the edge of the blackout zone, hoping to see a way back into system territory. The doctors could– The Parkers–
He shook her again, a useless gesture, and her head lolled to the side, taking her unseeing eyes off him.
She was dead. The Parkers could work miracles, but not miracles like this. He let her go and fell back onto the roof, his hands sliding across gravel. She was dead, again. He’d failed her, again. He’d promised to look after her, and he hadn’t kept his promise for even a day.
Tears welled up in his eyes, and he brushed them away, then got back to his knees to close her eyes – it was the least he could do.
As he leant over her, he saw his reflection in the mirror.
A thought flashed in his mind, and he wrenched his hand away from her face.
It was the directive to destroy all pieces of mirror. It was his duty to follow his directives.
His reflection stared at him for a moment, then reached for the mirror.
It was his duty to destroy it, no matter the cost. She was already dead. She was dead, but he hadn’t seen her soul – she couldn’t have fallen more than a few seconds before he’d seen her, and there’d been no soul. With the amount of magic the broken mirror had expelled, it should have lingered for longer, long enough to have glimpsed it.
‘Stef?’ He shook her again, searched for a pulse again, then looked to the mirror.
It was his duty to destroy it, no matter the cost.
He’d promised to look after her. Promised to–
He had his duty. Duty to his directives. Duty to his recruit. Duty to his new child.
He cleared his mind as he wrapped his hand around the piece of mirror. The magic flowed beneath his fingertips, a tangible sort of static, far more powerful than blue, far more powerful than any fae magic he’d been exposed to.
Duty to his directives and to the Agency weren’t the most important thing in the world. The decision solidified easily in his mind, far more easily than the decision to follow her into death’s realm.
He gently pulled Stef up from the cold, hard roof and held her gently – coming back to life hurt, and thrashing around on rough concrete would only hurt her more. He ruffled her hair, then reached for the mirror again.
Ryan closed his eyes and made a wish.
[table id=15 /]