Will shuffled down the empty hall towards his apartment. It was damp dim and smelled like too much detergent. It was also the nicest place he’d lived since Kalliope died.
He didn’t use the apartment much; the microwave was the only part of the kitchen he used and the “bedroom” barely fit a twin bed. But it was a place to sleep; and he didn’t have many neighbors.
He reached the door and paused. Someone was inside, sitting on his couch. Only one other person had a key, but he’d hand it over to half a dozen others if they asked for it. But there was only one person he knew who would be taking a nap on his couch.
Will opened the door. “Danny.”
Daniel Licht grunted from his spot on the couch. A mirage of stars danced around him, fading slowly as he returned to consciousness.
“Morning, Will,” he said sleepily. “I was wondering when you were gonna get home.”
Will kept an eye on his cousin as he shed his long coat. Danny barely lifted his head whne Will walked by him to the closet.
“Auntie M was asking for you. This makes two weeks in a row you missed dinner.”
“I’ve been busy.”
“You haven’t been busy in three years.” Danny’s voice was flat.
“And you can’t say any more because…?”
“I have no idea what it is.”
Will glanced around the room. “There’s a step missing. There’s a pair of footsteps that I’m not listening for any more. And I don’t know why.”
“You’re forgetting something. You think your old man’s spook got into your head?”
Will shook his head. “My defenses were up the whole time. Last tel who tried to get past had the headache for weeks. Plus, Warren doesn’t need to get into my head. There’s nothing I know that he couldn’t find out on his own.”
“You’ve called in two favors from him. Maybe he wants you to forget what you did for him.”
Will shook his head. “I’m not missing hours or days, just moments.”
“Then it’s a broader thing. No one attacked you, you’re just collateral damage.”
Will nodded. “That’s most likely. But who would be important enough to erase that completely? I’ve checked my notes, and I’ve looked through my old cases. Nobody’s name is popping out and none of them have been erased.”
Will caught a glimpse of a smile on his cousin’s face. “What?” he spat out.
Danny shook his head. “Just remembering old times. You always worked better with a sounding board. It’s nice to know that you can still be you.”
“Somewhere out there is a power that can get past every defense I’ve built and protection I’ve been granted.”
“And you’re smiling.”
Will froze. The powered down TV showed him with an expression he hadn’t realized he could still make.
“Don’t act so surprised, Will. Sigurd’s noticed you acting like your old self. You willingly made a deal with your father for one of your kids. And if there’s one thing you could never let go…”
“I’m not trying to solve a mystery. Anyone who can pull this off is dangerous or desperate. I can’t ask others to follow a trail that exists in my head.”
Danny snorted. “Maestro’s been back in town for two weeks. The Court needs to see you to check for broken wards. Either of them could have taken this over the moment you noticed something was wrong.”
Will shook his head. “It’s not that simple.”
“Of course it isn’t.”
He’d snuck into the cab’s front seat a few hours back. He didn’t really need the lift, but the cabbie played good music and he was heading the right way.
He probably couldn’t stay long though. The driver kept running his hand through his burnot orange hair and sniffing deeply. Unimportant didn’t know how, but he knew something was wrong with his cab, and he was starting to get nervous.
He snuck his way out of the cab the next time it was stopped. He watched the driver relac through the window. Whatever he’d done to mess with the cabbie’s day, he’d already forgotten about it.
Unimportant glanced around himself. He’d gotten a little over halfway to the next warehouse.
Warehouse was probably a generous term. Asclepios had been hiding his wares in less obvious places lately. This next batch was supposed to be in the storage units beneath some old apartments.
He whistled happily and spun the bolt cutters around in his hand. Even when you can’t imagine your life getting any worse, you had to learn to enjoy the little things.
He turned into an empty alley; it wasn’t much of a shortcut but a few minutes makes a big difference when you can easily get locked out of your own house.
Footsteps scraped behind him and he froze.
After a moment he let himself relax. He half turned and was a woman he had never met. But he’d recognize the costume just about anywhere.
The woman stared straight through him, and straight at him. She didn’t react to his words.
“It’s here.” She said to herself. “But there’s no tear, no doorway. Why would there be so much leaking?”
She stared at the spot for a few more minutes.
“Whoever came through is long gone. I hope someone can track him down.”
Unimportant stared at the spot she had just left. She hadn’t seen him but…
“She was looking for a slider,” he whispered. “She can sense me.”