‘Two of your recruits are dead, correct?’

‘Yes.’
‘And two of the others will be in the infirmary for at least a few days?’
‘Yes.’
‘How much of the mirror has been recovered?’
Ryan looked from Clarke down to a report on the desk. He flipped it open and looked at the clean-up crew’s report. ‘What is estimated, based on previous recoveries, to be just over a third. It’s only been twelve hours though, and the recovery teams are still searching for shards.’
This earned him a disapproving look. ‘Yes, the shards.’ Clarke sighed and required a cigarette, the end came to life and he took in a lungful of smoke. ‘That’s another issue.’
‘Not one we can do anything about.’
‘It’s one you caused. That recruit shouldn’t have been in the field in the first place.’
He opened his mouth to protest, but Clarke shook his head. ‘Yes,’ he said tersely, ‘I did read Jones’ report. However, you know you were in the wrong. Recruits without sufficient field experience should never be on a mission of that caliber.’ He tapped the ash from the end of his cigarette. ‘Ryan, there are those who watch your recruit statistics with interest.’
‘Meaning?’
‘Meaning, Agent Ryan, that some of your peers think you aren’t always looking out for you recruits’ best interests.’
‘I had thought that it would be good field experience for Mimosa.’
‘Well, the only field experience she’s going to get now is the one her body is buried in. Have you made the arrangements?’
He gestured to a report. ‘I submitted my report on the matter.’
‘At least the leech has been dealt with. So one thing went right.’
‘Am I excused?’
‘Yes – but this matter isn’t being dropped, though.’
He stood, nodded at Clarke and walked from the conference room. The halls were quiet – they usually were after such an event – his remaining recruits were sleeping it off. Stopping outside Mimosa’s room, he required the door open and stepped inside.
She hadn’t been there long enough to make much of an impact – the fridge was slightly emptier, and there were a few personal possessions that had been brought there – such as her laptop. He lifted it and required the room back into a zero state – it was clean and new again, no sign that anyone had ever occupied it.
With a sigh, he shifted from the Agency.
Slightly stale air met his nose as he appeared in Stef’s apartment. He stepped into the kitchen and pushed the curtains open, letting some light into the dark rooms.
He opened the fridge and required away all of the perishable food – it was no longer needed, and would only rot.
There was a knock.
Suddenly, he felt like an intruder. It was a ridiculous thought – he had every right to be there, legally and morally – but he still felt out of place.
He walked to the door and pulled it open. The spirit on the other side of the door looked him up and down and sighed. ‘Damn. What’d she get herself into?’
‘And you are?’
‘The landlord.’
‘Funny,’ he replied dryly, ‘you don’t look like a hob.’
‘What’s your business with my tenant, angel?’
‘Your tenant, my recruit.’
‘Is she here? I loaned her a master key the other night and I’d like it back.’
‘No,’ he said with a note of finality, ‘she’s not.’ He paused for a moment. ‘I’ll be needing the lease signed over, organise it.’ He waited for the spirit to understand what he was saying.
‘Solstice, you, or the starchild that was supposedly running around?’
‘Solstice,’ he said without blinking.
The landlord sighed, looked up to the ceiling, then nodded. ‘Bastards. Yeah, sure, I’ll…organise the paperwork.’ With that, he turned and left.
He closed the door and walked into the apartment – he pulled open the curtains to the balcony and opened the sliding glass door to let some air in. He reached over the to the bookcase and pulled the doll from it.
The doll he’d tempted her with all those years ago. The thing responsible for her being able to live the truncated life she had. Its dress was old and faded, even if the porcelain felt like new – he hadn’t though to require new clothes for it when he’d fixed it the second time, only the parts that couldn’t be fixed by human means.
He held it at arms length and contemplated it for a long moment – it was so out of place with the rest of the way his recruit acted and carried herself, but she’d acted as though the doll somehow defined her. It had been a strange incongruity.
Pulling the doll closer to him, he walked into the bedroom and pulled open the black curtains there. He placed the doll on the bed and crossed to the wardrobe, pulling open the sliding door. The sunlight bounced off the wardrobe’s door, and reflected off the piece of mirror buried in his recruit’s chest.