The Auction

08 – Where There’s a Will

It wasn’t an active wish to die, but every time he went on a mission, part of him hoped he wouldn’t come back.

Curt looked at himself in the mirror, then down to where he’d propped his phone on a stand. The screen displayed a couple of stylish haircuts that Carmichel had suggested to go along with his outfit.

He ran his hands through his hair, feeling the strange static fuzz as it shortened and shaped, following the command of his requirement.

This felt like magic. Having a gun or a burger materialise in his hand had become normal. Feeling it affect his body was something else.

A couple more adjustments, then some gel, and he had a decent approximation of the photos.

The tailored pants fit like a glove, and Sacha had gone to the trouble of supplying socks, shoes and a lapel pin to complete his outfit – though he’d stressed that the pin was just a loan – as it was technically an heirloom.

He’d felt arguments welling up, but then the voice of Mags had stomped on it with her combat boots, and he’d accepted with thanks.

A small step. Even if he got kicked down for it later, he could risk one small step.

A trip to see Parker-2 had granted him another Cinderella spell. Going to a part of Faerie where money made laws was not somewhere to have any visible connection to the Solstice.

Beside his phone was his checklist – one approved by Ryan as to what items he should take – along with reminders of what not to take. Of the three of them, he would likely be the only one unarmed. Carmichel had almost as many weapon licences as existed. If Mags didn’t at least have something basic, then he would have been shocked beyond measure.

He could apply for a weapons licence for Fairyland. The fact that he was a property owner would make some things a lot easier – not as easy as if he were a citizen – but it was some red tape that would have been pushed aside.

It was probably against his best interests to apply for any sort of weapons licence.

The Agency would want to know why. It would give them reasons to look even more harshly at his innocent actions.

It would be logical if it was something prompted by Field, something Ryan asked him to do, or if he started to do a lot more in Fairyland. As things stood, there was no Agency-approved reason to want to carry weapons around fae.

Agency phone. Genie phone. Wallet. A small overnight bag with a change of clothes, in case they stayed. Mags was looking after the supplies for their potential purchase. Clothes, some basic first aid supplies, things that would help if they did take custody of a traumatised agent.

A small book containing the photos of all the missing agents, not just the “high probability” candidates. Those, he had memorised. Names, faces, distinguishing characteristics.

Carmichel had the tickets. They’d be issued room keys when they got to the hotel where the event was taking place.

Other than putting his jacket on, there really was nothing to do to prepare.


He piled his gear next to the door of his quarters and moved to sit at his desk.

For the most part, his quarters were exactly as they’d been issued the day he’d stepped foot in Queen Street. He hadn’t changed the layout, hadn’t changed the colour of the paint, hadn’t hung shelves or put up posters.

It wasn’t home. It was just where he lived. Home was a word without any true meaning anymore. If some witch had him close his eyes, click his heels and wish for home… he’d run for the past. Go back to when the most complicated part of his day was making sure that his mum had made Tara’s dinner in a way that wouldn’t trigger her.

He always had to recut the carrots. The shapes had to be just right; otherwise, they’d remain uneaten.

It hadn’t been happy all the time, or even most of the time, but it had been home.

The desk was the one addition he’d made; he’d needed somewhere to work. He still hadn’t personalised it. No photos. No knick-knacks. The most colour it ever saw was when he left the packaging from a snack out, and if he’d been a real recruit, self-cleaning routines would have gotten rid of his trash.

Since he was a Solstice piece of shit, he had to take care of his own rubbish.

He pulled his will from the bottom drawer of his desk and checked it over like he did before every mission where there was a greater-than-average chance he was going to die.

Nothing had changed since the last time he’d updated it. All of his major assets – really, his apartment and the contents therein – would be returned to Carmichel.

His Agency death benefits were the only thing that weren’t willed to Carmichel, but to his family. It wasn’t something he’d brought up with his friend, but there was no question in his mind that Carmichel would understand

Like he always did when working on his will, he brought up his dad’s social media. Agency access meant that content locked to “friends only” was there at the touch of a button, without his dad knowing he was watching from afar.

His dad, who was raising his daughter.

He’d fucked up. He and his girlfriend had been the example that parents warned their kids about during birds-and-bees talks. One stupid night without protection, and five months after graduating from high school, they’d become parents.

Parents who hadn’t handled anything well at all.

Both sets of grandparents had done more than their fair share. Curt’s dad and his boyfriend had thrown a lot of money their way, bought a lot of baby supplies, and let them rent one of their properties for a fraction of the market price. Hannah’s parents babysat, brought meals around, and tried to share the load when they could.

Even before he’d been taken into Agency custody, things had been heading for a bad end. To Hannah, to their families, it would have seemed like he’d just ditched his family, run from the stress without another word.

He’d been able to figure out things after the fact, when he’d been stable enough to do more than just make it through the day without putting a gun in his mouth. An in-family adoption.

In a long post, Hannah had told the world that he’d fucked off and abandoned his family. Had been open about how stressed and beyond her limit she’d been. And that she had to do what was best for both her child and herself.

So his dad and his long-term boyfriend had taken custody of Sara and had been raising her ever since.

He wanted to reach out. To Hannah. To apologise for being young and stupid. For not being a good partner. For not seeing that she’d been suffering. Wanted to tell her that he hadn’t chosen to leave. Wanted to tell her that she was better off without him.

If you looked at a calendar, it hadn’t been that long since the first pregnancy test. Three years and some change. But… he’d grown a lot since being dragged into the light by the Agency. He’d had to confront so many things, relearn so many things, examine so many things that he wasn’t the same person he’d been a year ago, let alone three.

Things…seemed to be going okay for everyone involved, though.

Hannah’s later posts had indicated she’d started therapy, had moved to Sydney to stay with her sister, and was preparing to go to uni, something she’d put off due to being a mum.

And as to his dad…

Every time he checked his dad’s social media, there were new photos of Sara, of the perfect little family the three made. Brendan O’Connor had failed as a father for him and Tara but had apparently endless reserves of energy to be a good grandfather.

So, if he died, if some fae decided they just didn’t like seeing the Agency in their perfect little town, his dad would have a tonne of money to spoil Sara rotten for years to come.

And it would prove his death was more valuable than his life.

He took one more look at the adorable little girl, grin so wide it seemed like it would extend off her face, and knew she was in a better place than when he’d been in her life.

He had loved her – did love her – but with every passing day, he was more and more certain not being her dad was the best thing for the both of them. It was probably the same thing that people felt when they chose to give their kid up for adoption. Probably something a normal person would work through with a therapist.

It was something that would have to stay within the confines of his head for a long time to come.

He closed down his computer, closed the drawer to hide his will, and headed for the lobby to meet up with Magnolia.

0 0 votes
Article Rating


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
I know you're thinking something, Recruit...x