The Grey Edge: Chapter Forty-Eight

Shift. Shift to safety. Shift to safety. Shift to safety.
You’re already safe, genius.
Not far enough away. Totally not far enough away. He could probably still smell her. Shift to safety. Shift far away. Shift to the strange and mysterious land of Canada.
Why is Canada always your go-to spot?
I dunno.
The chair was pulled away from the desk, and her small hidey-hole exposed to the light. Light which would make her easier to find. She smushed herself further against the inside wall of the desk, trying to prevent any of the light from actually touching her.
The size of the hidey-hole expanded, the desk slipping and changing, growing enough for a grown man to hide in the safety of the desk as well. The desk stopped changing, and Ryan joined her in the not-quite-dark.
‘He’s going to kill me.’
‘No he’s not.’
She looked up at him through messy hair. ‘He’s going to kill me,’ she said. ‘He’s going to get his legs back, he’s going to get a band-aid, and he’s going to come after me.’
‘He’s not going to go after anyone for a while.’
She shrugged. ‘Doesn’t matter. He still will. This is why you don’t fight people in the wrong, cause it only ever turns out badly.’
‘Fighting those in the wrong is…pretty much our job description,’ he said. He pushed the hair away from her face. ‘Or did you forget that?’
‘You said I didn’t have to sign up for the save-the-world stuff.’
‘So what is your job then, Miss Mimosa?’
‘I swear if one more person call me Mimosa today, nah, it’s you, that one doesn’t count, with you it’s more like a meme than anything else.’
‘You didn’t answer my question.’
She shrugged again. ‘I don’t really know. I sort of bumble my way through every day and you pat me on the head and tell me I’m doing a good job. So…I guess I’m a professional bumbler. And we’re the good guys, I know that.’
‘You’re a lot better at this than you give yourself credit for.’
‘You showed me the dungeon-’
‘-and I showed you my lunch. I’m not great at this.’
‘And what about what you just did.’
‘Yeah, I’ve got so much conviction about that, that I’m still shaking.’
He wrapped his strong, warm hands around her small, shaking ones. ‘You’re ok.’
‘How much did you see anyway?’
‘All of it.’
She buried her face in her knees again. ‘It wasn’t me doing most of the talking.’
‘Were you quoting?’
She rested her chin on her knees and stared up at him. She slipped her hands free of his. ‘No, I mean…’ She felt her face scrunch up, and she slapped a hand against the side of her head. He knew. Still too hard to say out loud. Still too hard to normalise it. Accept that he didn’t want to lock her up.
He grabbed her hand to stop the slapping, then gave her a nod.
‘I still can’t believe I did that,’ she said. ‘Taylor. I mean. I did that. How’s Canada this time of year?’
‘You’re not moving to Canada.’
‘You’re not the boss of me!’
This made him laugh. ‘Yes, actually I am.’ He smiled. ‘And I can ground you.’
She felt herself smile. ‘You’d ground me?’
‘If you deserved it.’
‘Better than not deserving it.’ She looked up at him. ‘So, what happens now?’
He sighed. ‘In all honesty, I have no idea. Given the circumstances, I don’t think any decisions need to be made right now.’ She nodded, and the desk disappeared from over their heads. ‘Their return, however, has generated a lot of paperwork.’
She snapped a lopsided salute. ‘Okies, I’ll let you work.’
‘How’s that pile on your desk?’
‘Last of it disappeared this morning,’ she said with a smile. ‘I’m up to date for the first time ever.’
He stood, and offered a hand down to her. She grabbed it and jumped to her feet, and stepped out of the way as the desk, covered with all of his papers, reappeared.
* * * * *
Ten Hours Later
Someone was watching her.
Magnolia felt herself wake in a second, her eyes open, ready to fight whatever attacker was coming for-
Mimosa sat on the end of the hospital bed, a clipboard in one hand, a can of drink in the other. She kicked her leg, but the movement was slow, sloppy, sedated, not enough to knock the experiment from her perch.
‘Good morning to you too, Recruit,’ Mimosa said dryly. She waved the clipboard. ‘According to this, you aren’t supposed to be moving, and that includes trying to attack your superiors, so don’t do it again, k?’
She scowled. ‘You aren’t my superior.’
Mimosa reached into her pocket, retrieved her Agency ID and waved it about. ‘This says I am.’
‘And that means-’
‘Wow, zero to bitch in less than ten seconds, you are kind of impressive.’
‘And when did you grow a pair?’
‘You really should be nice to me,’ Mimosa said as she hung the clipboard back on the side of the bed. ‘I’m the reason you can walk and talk. I’m the reason you woke up at all.’
‘You mean you used an Agency resource for Agency reasons, congratulations on doing your job,’ she spat.
‘Oh yeah, cause there’s totally a paper trail about this. If this were all formal, your boyfriend would still be filling out the request paperwork, and the Parkers would have stuck you in the morgue.’
Her head pounded. ‘Just leave me the fuck alone, Mimosa.’
‘I only gave him a little bit of mirror to wish with, just in case he decided to do something…stupid. It was only enough to give you any chance at all.’
‘The Parkers did what they could, you should get them a gift basket or something-’
‘For doing their jobs?’
‘Tell me something, are you at all capable of gratitude?’
‘I’d be grateful if you-’
‘You can’t have kids.’
She shut her mouth, and glared at the girl. ‘What?’
‘It was one of the things the Parkers couldn’t fix. Sorry for being so blunt, but at least you’re fscking listening to me now. You had an egg inside, it shattered and ripped everything apart in there. Sorry.’
‘So long as I can walk and fight then-’
‘It’s not a choice that should be taken away.’
‘I’ve got more important things to-’
Mimosa shook her head and dug into her pocket again. After piling the bed with sugar packets, coffee beans and big lumps of lint, she held up a small silver sliver. A piece of mirror. ‘Practically everything else is going to heal with time, so much as your chart says,’ she rolled the small piece of mirror around in her palm for a moment. ‘Here’s your choice back.’
‘Why are you even here?’ she asked after the faux agent went silent.
‘Because this is the only time we’re going to have something in common,’ Mimosa said quietly.
‘Not sure if you’ve met Grigori,’ she said, layering the sarcasm heavily into her voice, ‘but agents can have-’
Mimosa lifted her shift, exposing the mass of scar tissue that ran across her abdomen and continued below her belt. ‘What part of this,’ Mimosa said, her voice cracking a little, ‘looks like I have a functioning reproductive system?’
‘Is this also why you look like a little kid?’
She put her shirt back down. ‘Says the girl who dresses like a doll? Yeah. I was twelve. I basically never went through puberty. I never had the choice. You should. You decide not to have kids, I don’t care, but you should get to choose.’
‘But I hate you.’
‘Yeah, well, duh. It’s mutual by the way.’ Mimosa took a step closer and dropped the small piece of mirror onto her chest. ‘But you’re on my crew.’
‘Ask Merlin.’
She lifted the small piece of mirror. ‘I could kill you with this.’
‘No,’ Mimosa said, ‘you really couldn’t.’
She held the piece of mirror for a moment, thought of trying to kill her anyway, then made the suggested wish.
‘I have one question, Recruit,’ Mimosa said.
‘Aide,’ she snapped, ‘and what is it?’
‘Do you actually realise you’re floating right now?’
She looked down at the bed, and found that was indeed, floating a foot off the mattress.
‘What did-’
‘You were floating before I came in,’ Mimosa said, ‘so don’t even think of blaming me.’ With a sour look, the faux agent shifted away.
* * * * *
‘I want a baby.’
Ryan signed off one more form, and watched it disappear. ‘A baby what?’
‘Baby baby. Regular kind. If there’s a regular kind. I just want one.’
He looked up at her, there were already tears streaming down her face. ‘Stef-’
‘I want one and I can’t have one.’
He shifted to her in a second, and wrapped his arms around her. ‘I highly recommend adoption,’ he said as she hung limply in his arms.
‘It’s not the same.’
He lifted her shaking body and carried her to the couch. ‘How can you say that?’
‘It’s what I was told,’ she said, ‘that it made me useless, that I wasn’t a real girl, that I didn’t get to be people if-’
‘Whoever said that was wrong-’
‘I don’t get to fix myself if I can’t-’ She wiped at her tears with the back of her hand. ‘I always wanted to have a kid, so I, so I could do it right…so I could make up for all the crap that my parents put me through. I thought that if I was good, if I made it up, if I…loved a child, if I gave it all the…that it would make up for it, and that it would fix me, and then I’d be people, and I wouldn’t be…me, I’d be better, I’d better, but I can’t, and I’ll never be and-’
‘You’re fine the way you are.’
‘I hate it when you say that,’ she said, ‘because I know it’s not true.’
He required a handkerchief and wiped at her tear-stained face. ‘Having children doesn’t define you, it doesn’t take away from the other things you have achieved, and it doesn’t, or shouldn’t, change the other things you want to achieve. Having a child is one aspect of life, of the lives of some. Do you think Patty is less…people because she has horses instead?’
‘Nope, but she’s not-’
‘Nothing you can do will make up for how your parents mistreated you, that’s something you can’t change. Having a child for that purpose is unfair, it’s using them, it’s an ulterior motive, and there’s more than a chance that they will feel slighted for it.’
He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. ‘With all of the magic in the world, when you grow up, and you decide then that you still want children, we’ll look into it. There’s also at any one time, dozens of children that the Agency has to find homes for, so you could take one of them in. There’s options, there’s always options.’
She wiped her face again. ‘How the hell do you do that?’
‘Do what?’
‘Take one of my massive problems and just make it GTFO like it was nothing?’
‘I’m your father,’ he said as he handed her a cookie, ‘it’s my job.’
She crawled into his lap. ‘Need moar hug.’
He wrapped his arms around her again. ‘Of course.’ He stroked her hair. ‘Besides, I’m not ready for grandchildren yet.’