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echo, the echo

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"Um," Kady says, and sets down her bag. "So—weird thing happened to me on my way back from Brakebills."

"Is this the start of a joke?" Alice asks, without looking up from her book. "Because—no offense, but I'm. Not really up to—"

"So I ran into Quentin outside a bar," Kady interrupts. All at once, in a rush; and Alice looks up.

"I'm sorry," Eliot says, practically levitating in from the living room, bagel in hand. Well, practically—for all she knows he actually did levitate. That one's never been. Her strong suit, really. "I could've sworn you said you ran into Quentin outside a bar?" he says, sounding—so fucking hopeful, Jesus, he's embarrassing.

"It's not Quentin," Alice says. "All my research, what Penny and I saw in the mirror realm, I'm—very sure that he—"

"See the weird thing is, it definitely was Quentin," Kady says, flat, and then opens up her bag, and digs out her phone, which is wired up to her backup battery, because Kady never remembers to charge it. She unlocks the screen and shows Alice a picture: that's—it sure looks like Quentin, in a hospital gown, looking sort of stoned and very, very confused: squinting at the camera. "I cast Brookshaw's Revealing. It was definitely Quentin. But I thought you might be more convinced by the picture." Eliot is leaning over, with his whole fucking—construction-crane body, trying to get a better look: and then Kady says, "I thought about having him hold a copy of today's newspaper, but then he started to code, so I didn't get around to it, before he died."

The apartment falls totally, totally silent.

"Wait," Eliot says. "You found Quentin, outside a bar, between here and the Manhattan portal, and you took him to the hospital, where he—"

"Died again," Kady says, "yep! I took a dead naked nerd to the hospital, where he died again. I found him wandering around outside a bar, at eleven AM, which—okay, fine, he's friends with you, but he was also naked, which is really not my thing, and he was—really, really confused, and talking about—I don't know, there was something about fucking—birds, or something, and then he threw up on an Audi, so I took him to the ER, where—about twenty-five minutes later—he asked for a cup of water, and then promptly went into cardiac arrest. Oh, and: then his body vanished, from a hospital bed, with like fourteen nurses watching, and I had to answer some—really fucking awkward questions, okay?"

She stops, breathing hard, a little. "Also," she says, after a second, "he drank my latte."

Alice tilts her head. "Before or after he threw up?" she asks.

"Does that seriously seem relevant right now?" Kady snarls; and Alice considers.

"I mean," she says, "I need to find some books, but—maybe?"