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good enough for any world

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It was almost too simple to break into Lavere’s office. The cops had been in and out of there so often that the lock on the door was more of a polite suggestion than anything. I wasn’t too sure what I would find in here, but it was always possible my own power might find something interesting.

I don’t advertise that I’m a Talent. It’s annoying to demonstrate on command and anyway it’s a nice advantage to keep secret. My power is all internal. It gives me nudges, hunches, sometimes questions to ask, and relying on it rarely steers me wrong, but it can’t do anything without data to work with. Much like the Great Detective, I cannot make bricks without clay.

The office was tastefully appointed, with bookcases lining one wall and a solid mahogany desk taking up a good chunk of the rest of the space. The drawers had been roughly pulled out and all the paperwork confiscated, naturally. I sank into Lavere’s office chair and studied the room.

There were two other chairs shoved up against the bookcases. I figured normally they sat in front of the desk, with Lavere’s guests either sitting or standing behind them, depending on their status with the man. On the far end of the room was a coat rack next to the door, a glass display case in the corner, and a loveseat between them, under a window. The display case was broken now, and anything that might have been on it was long since removed. I kept looking around, waiting for my power to twitch. There.

I got up and went over to the loveseat. It was solidly built, with plush upholstery that had probably looked really nice before a month and a half of dust was allowed to accumulate. I gave it a pull, testing the weight. It really didn’t want to move. I poked at a crevice in the wall, about level with my shoulders. It looked like someone had dug a bullet out of the wall there. The bullet that killed Wallis? No, he’d been a headshot and he was taller than me. There was no good way of telling how long since that bullet was pulled. My power wasn’t giving me anything. It had wanted me to look around over here, though. It must have been for something hidden.

I slipped some latex gloves from one pocket and dug my fingers in between the loveseat cushion and frame. I found a quarter, two pennies, and half a brown Crayola crayon. The crayon certainly pointed toward a kid being present, but all that proved was some kid had sat in this couch since it was installed. I needed more.

I dropped to the floor, heedless of the dust. I kept a little flashlight in my pocket. I flicked it on. Now there was something worth looking at. Most of the way under the loveseat, there was an origami dragon made of simple lined paper. I reached for it, tugging gently. It came freely and I lifted it up to the window to get a better look.

It was a western dragon, with four limbs, wide-swept wings, and a long spiny tail. The folds were crisp and sharp and it hadn’t lost any of its definition from sitting there all this time. I turned it around in my hands and noticed that someone had drawn a little smile on the dragon’s snout in a very light pencil. I set the dragon down, took photos of it from every angle, and then put it back where I found it. I let myself out and closed the door behind me.


I met Jamie in another coffeeshop. It may be a cliché, but only because it’s true. Cops go through coffee like mathematicians do and they’ve gotta get it somewhere. Jamie’s outfit — leather jacket, dark button-up blouse, dark jeans — made her look tougher than she really was. Light glinted off her badge, hung on her hip. A callus showed on her finger where her wedding ring used to be; that was different. I politely ignored it. As a rule, we didn’t talk about our home lives. We helped each other out, she and I. If one of my cases needed a little information from the police, Jamie wouldn’t ask too many questions. If one of her cases was stuck, sometimes a tip from a confidential informant would move things along. It may have been corrupt, but I still slept well at night; our other rules made sure I had no regrets.

“I stopped by the scene,” I told her, fishing out my phone and pulling up the photo of the dragon. “I found this, but I don’t know why it’s important yet.”

She looked at it, shook her head. “Did you unfold it?”

I cast my mind back over the scene. The only marks were on the dragon as a folded object; they wouldn’t have amounted to anything on the unfolded paper. I supposed something could have been hidden in the folds, but my power would likely have given a nudge for that. “It didn’t seem like the right approach,” I said. She didn’t push. I took a deep breath. “I need to know more about Anders and Wallis,” I said.

She gave me a look. “How sure are you this kid even exists?”

“Sure enough,” I said. “I looked up her birth certificate. That checks out, and so does the mom’s story. I’m on the waiting list to talk to Lavere. Until then, all I can do is poke around.”

Jamie sighed. I could almost see her turning it over in her head. Cops closed ranks around other cops; that’s just how it worked. And worse, one of these cops was shot in the line of duty. But at the same time, no kid deserved to fall through the cracks in the system. She sighed again, reached for my phone, and started punching an address into the maps app. “Wallis left a widow. I’ll let her know to expect you.” She handed the phone back and looked me in the eye. “Be gentle.”