Mitch shifted uncomfortably as he slid off Lindsay’s shoulders when they touched down on Delta’s island headquarters. “Look, I hate to be the cliche guy who says the obvious expositional line in the movies, but…are you sure about this?”
Lindsay spun around to look at him. “Look, you want to go up against the Fae, right? How do you plan on doing that?”
Mitch backed away from her intensity and shifted his gaze away from her. He shrugged wordlessly.
“Exactly. We don’t know the first thing about these little buggers, but we know someone who does. Look, Drake taught us everything we know, so he’s the obvious person to ask—but we don’t exactly have his personal phone number, all communication between Delta members has been restricted, and last I checked, the Legendary Mister X wasn’t listed in the phone book. If we can’t find him here, chances are we’ll find someone who can.”
She crossed her arms. “Look, we can do this the easier way. Marcus’ sister is basically best friends with—”
“No,” Mitch stated flatly. She wasn’t wrong, it would be easier. But whether it was stubbornness or pride—probably both, if he was honest with himself—he didn’t want anyone else to know he’d been taken by a fucking fairy. In a perfect world, Drake wouldn’t know about it either, but at least he could count on the man to be discrete. Hell, in a perfect world he wouldn’t have misplaced two people like they were gaming console remotes.
Lindsay gave him a look that said she clearly disagreed with his decision, but before she could protest, they were approached by a security guard who looked like a reject from a military movie aimed at fifty-something men going through a mid-life crisis. He had the kind of powerful physique that would translate well to an action figure, only this real-life version was easily six-foot-two. He was fully decked out in combat gear and armed with a large gun that he cradled like a particularly deadly child. Mitch reflected that he might have been intimidated if he wasn’t capable of lighting the man’s flak jacket on fire with his mind. As it was, he felt annoyed, both by the man’s very presence, and by the fact that he seemed to be barring them from a place that had been their home not even a month ago.
“This area is restricted. I would advise you to leave.”
“Kiss my ass,” Mitch snapped before he could help myself.
Lindsay shot him a look. “What he means is, I’m sure we have some kind of authorization. Delta might have been disbanded, but the names Spryte and Inferno have got to mean something.”
The talking department store toy was not impressed. “While your previous services are appreciated, it does not grant you access to this area. Leave or appropriate action will be taken.”
Mitch clenched his fists. “You gonna make me, bitch?” Heat surged through him, and he would have ignited into a flaming ball of fury, except that Lindsay grabbed hold of his arm.
“If you light up, Mitch, so help me god,” she snapped. “You’re not stupid. Don’t act like it. It doesn’t matter what powers you have, don’t threaten the police.”
It took all of Mitch’s willpower not to lash out in fury, his rage combated by the tiny voice in his head that said she was right, you fucking tool. For all intents and purposes, his fire was a weapon, and all of his training pointed out the obvious fact that you never pointed a weapon at someone unless you intended to shoot. Besides, anybody with a child’s understanding of logic could point out that he was a volatile mess, and he should let Lindsay do the talking.
He shut his mouth and took a step away. Anger gave away to self-loathing. How could he lash out like that against the one person willing to help him? Lindsay didn’t need to get involved. She had every reason to walk away and leave him to hack out his own miserable attempt at finding the family he knew he had but didn’t even remember. “Sorry,” he mumbled, feeling like an asshole.
Lindsay gave him a smile he didn’t deserve and put a gentle hand on his shoulder before turning back to the action movie prop. “Look, we’re just looking for Drake.” She gave a charismatic grin. “If you have a way to reach him, tell him we need help with ‘Little Miss Muffet’.
Mitch did a double take at her before he got the reference. When Drake was training them to keep a Fae out of their heads, he gave them the advice to find a nursery rhyme to focus on and repeat. Ideally, if a Fae was going to skim for surface thoughts, all they would get was an obnoxious ditty. Lindsay had once told him that hers was Little Miss Muffet, so that had to be her way of surreptitiously letting the omniscient legend know that they were dealing with his arch-nemesis.
“We’ll be good and stay right here if you can deliver that message,” Lindsay said with her most charming smile.
The guard gave her a wary look, but he passed the message through his comms. This turned out to be the most effective idea Lindsay had come up with yet, because of course Drake was monitoring the security guards’ communication. He blinked into existence with a teleportation device in hand, gave the guard an unimpressed look, and clapped a hand on Mitch’s shoulder. Apparently he was in one of his taciturn moods, because he teleported both Mitch and Lindsay away without a word. They ended up in an underground bunker god only knew where.
Mitch resisted the urge to run for the nearest toilet, his stomach violently protesting the sudden shift in location. Mitch rather agreed with his stomach’s assessment. Fuck if he knew if he was still in the same goddamn country. “What the fucking shit?” He exploded.
“You tell me,” Drake said evenly. “You’re the ones who chanted my name three times in front of a mirror, metaphorically speaking.”
Lindsay was busy straining her neck to look around at the computer set-up with multiple monitors, piles upon piles of unfinished gadgets, and a dark hallway lined with locker-like compartments as high as the ceiling, which Mitch could only assume hid a robot army. “Whoa. This isn’t just something you built in the last week or so.”
“Of course not. Do you honestly think I’d keep all my important stuff in a giant tower that practically begs for some insane villain to plunder? Not to mention, it was just a matter of time before bureaucratic bullshit happened, like, I dunno, our fearless leader perpetuating a Bond villain cliche and sending the government into a tailspin of paranoia.”
Mitch rolled his eyes. It was hard to argue with that.
Lindsay nudged him and shifted her gaze pointedly toward Drake. “Tell him.”
Mitch crossed his arms and shuffled from one foot to the other. He didn’t want to say it out loud, afraid that in the sifting reality that had become his life, speaking the truth would make it real. If he didn’t say anything, he could just pretend it was all just some fucked up dream. He’d been fine for fuck knew how long without realizing a family existed. He could go his entire life just believing that everything was normal.
But even though he couldn’t actually remember these people, he felt a strange attachment to them. Every time he thought of that empty, too-big house, his heart ached as if something was missing. “A Fae took my family,” he mumbled.
The effect was instantaneous. Drake stilled like a predator on the hunt, and Mitch could feel the gravity shift, making the hair on his arms and the back of his neck stand on end. “I don’t even remember them. I guess I have a mom and a sister, but I don’t know their names or how old my sister is, or—or my mom’s birthday. I should know that. I should know that, right?” His jaw quivered, and he hated himself for it. “They—they could be dead and I don’t even have any memories of them. I mean, that’s supposed to be the consolation when you lose somebody, right? Your sister’s laugh, or your mom feeding you chicken soup or some bullshit, but i-it’s all blank!”
Mitch ran his fingers through his hair. “I can’t take this,” he muttered. “I’m going insane.”
Drake’s hands on his shoulders steadied Mitch. “You’re not going insane. What happened to you isn’t right, and it isn’t fair. I’ll do what I can to help, but I won’t bullshit you, it may not have a happy ending. Can you accept that?”
Dull hatred burned in Mitch’s eyes. “Do I have a choice?”
Drake sighed. “You really don’t. That’s what sucks the most. Well, except for just curling into a ball and ignoring it, but then the little bastards win, and that’s not really an option, now is it?”
Mitch felt his lip curl. Disgust rose in him so powerful that a shudder ran down his spine. “Those little shits aren’t getting away with anything.”