After finishing getting dressed, we tidied up the office as best we could. Everything smelled of sex, and I was pre-embarassed about what the night janitor was going to make of it. So, I closed the door quickly and, taking Valentine's hand into mine, said, "I think we might still be fugitives."
"Did Jack press charges?" He seemed surprised to be walking hand in hand, but he didn't pull away, as we made our way though the Capitol rotunda to the exit.
"No," I said. "Sarah Jane and her gang have been helping me out from the start, and... yeah, Jack was just here, so I think, maybe, we're working together again?"
Stepping out into the heat felt like being slammed with a wet, hot blanket. Though, after the chill of the air-conditioning, I welcomed it.
Valentine, too, seemed to pause to soak in the warmth. "It was all ruse," he said in a matter-of-fact voice, full of authority, like he knew for sure and wasn't making a conjecture. "Someone just wanted to find out if the gold prison they built for me would work on you. Now, whoever that was, knows exactly what you are."
I had to call him out. "What makes you so damn sure?"
"Because Jack is enamored of you," Valentine smiled indulgently. "You could curse him a thousand times and he would never blame you. Besides, I imagine he blames me--or himself--for not teaching you how to control your power."
The temperature seemed to drop ten degrees as we walked under the shade of an ancient, gnarled oak tree. "Do you know how to control my curses?"
"Not in the least," Valentine laughed.
"Do you think Jack does?"
"I think your power is unique," Valentine said.
I noticed we strolled in the direction of the Precinct Headquarters. I thought about saying something, but I didn't want to interrupt this conversation. It was so rare for Valentine to give up magical information, especially about me. So I held my tongue and leaned into him, enjoying the feeling of his hand in mine and the sun warming our backs.
"If you ever agreed to leave this place, we could make it a quest to find someone who does know," Valentine said, giving me a glance, as if checking to see if he'd touched a sore point. When I continued to say nothing, he added, "Werewolves know a thing or two about curses. Fallen angels, too."
I started at that last one. "You mean like my step monster?"
"I know you worry about your father."
"Damn straight, I do." To late I covered my mouth, but the 'damn' didn't seem to have much effect. Maybe the breeze had picked up, rushing past my ears, but there was no massive explosion. No one fell over. Valentine didn't even flinch. "My words don't affect you!"
"We are many other things to each other, but I'm still your familiar," Valentine pointed out. "What good would I be if I was as affected by your powers as our enemies?"
I guessed that was a valid point. "You really think my step monster understands curses."
"I'm fairly certain that angels invented cursing as they fell," Valentine said with a little wry smile that looked devilishly handsome on him.
"You know, unless they're gone, there are a couple of demons still in town. One of them is some kind of Commander in Hell. So, he might know, too, right?"
Valentine nodded. "Given that 'hell' is one of your power words, I would say, yes."
Despite what Valentine had said, I was still fairly convinced that we might be met with guns drawn when we opened the door to Precinct 13. But, mostly people just glanced up and gave us a 'hey, how you doing' hello nod. Jack waved us over to a desk where he and Genevieve were hunched over one of Jack's special laptops, one of his magic ones, the ones he'd cobbled together from abandoned electronics... and gears.
I'd learned early not to try to figure out how Jack's techno-magic worked. He could fix anything electronic and anything he fixed would work better than it ever had before. But, it never looked... normal, after Jack tinkered with it. There'd always be some new knob that looked like maybe had been salvaged from something from the 1950s.
And there'd be new noises.
After Jack had fixed my DVD player, it clanked. Like some kind of heavy machine, it would randomly make a highly industrial noise.
The laptop that sat on his desk hissed, like it occasionally needed to let out steam.
"We found the pattern!" Jack said, "Or, I should say, Henry did."
"Henry?" I asked, glancing around to see who Henry might be.
Jack indicated the laptop. Gennieve shook her head and in an exasperated voice said to me, "Why are all your friends so good-looking and so insane?"
The word insane bugged me, because it was the bludgeon so many people hit me with when I first start to see magic in the world. "Weird," I insisted. "If you have to call my friends something, they're good-looking and weird."
"Good-looking?" Jack wondered out loud, pointing to himself, as if hoping for confirmation.
"Very," I smiled at him.
"About the pattern, Jack," Valentine said. I glanced up at him to see if he was jealous, but he was smiling, like maybe he found Jack a tiny bit adorable too.
"Oh, right," Jack said, covering a little blush with a rub of his face, "So, it looks like there's a pattern to the drops. There are three, always spaced the same number of hours apart. The numbers grow exponentially..." he seemed to sense most of us starting to glaze over at the mere mention of a math concept, " At any rate, if the pattern holds, we should get the next one late tonight."
"Do we know where this is going to be coming from?"
Jack scratched behind his ear and offered, "The sky?"
"I suppose whatever it is might appear out of thin air," I said, thinking out loud. "But, I guess I was wondering where we should have Valentine concentrating his efforts. We found one body near the clock tower and one on the highway. Is there a pattern to where the bodies are dropped?"
A voice in my ear made me jump. "You're supposed to be off this case." I turned to see Spenser frowning at out little Scooby Gang of investigators. His gaze was particularly hard when it lit on Valentine, "Your boyfriend is a suspect."
"Not really, not any more," Jack said. "We're looking for... a stone eagle maybe? Whatever was on the building that was where the clock tower is now."
"Eagle," Genneive confirmed, holding up the picture she's printed.
Spenser's hot glare turned to her. "Who's this?"
"My assistant," I said, introducing her to everyone.
Spenser nodded at me slowly as I went through the crew and Genneive shook hands with everyone. Then, after a glance over his shoulder, "You know I still have two Infernal Affairs demons on my ass, right? I'm supposed to be running this place like a tight ship--by the book. And, now you're just waltzing in here and bringing all sorts of unauthorized personnel? Are you trying to get me fired?"
"No," I said, "I'm trying to keep another homeless person from dying."
He let out a sigh, and I could tell the police officer in him wanted the same thing. "Someone had better get me up to speed, then."
It was all the apology I'd get, but it was good enough.
YOU ARE READING
Alex Connor thought that being the South Dakota Hughes County Coroner was going to be a boring cushy job. She didn't count on the fact that her first case would leave her with a magical, living tattoo and awaken her latent magical powers. Now she'...