The cafe still smelled like coffee, but now a metallic undercurrent of blood lurked below. The staff and customers had all been cleared out, some of them being interviewed by DSA agents outside. Khaki Suit’s body lay where it had fallen, a medical examiner crouched over it. Moreen was standing over the examiner, arms crossed as she oversaw his work. The Illusionist sat in one of the booths across from Lightblade. She’d wiped Khaki Suit’s blood from her face, but there was a messy red stain on the front of her T-shirt. She’d given up on keeping the illusion of her costume intact, and Dave couldn’t say that he blamed her.
“It happens.” Lightblade’s rough voice was surprisingly gentle as he spoke to her. “No matter how good you are, no matter how long you’ve been doing this, people die, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. You can shoulder the blame for each one until the weight pins you to the floor, or you can put it behind you and do your best to save the next one.”
It was good advice. Dave should think about taking it. He leaned against the brick wall, watching the medical examiner work. He wasn’t sure why they even needed one. It wasn’t like the cause of death was hard to figure out, but these things needed to be official.
“Let’s get a coffee,” said the Black Valentine.
She stood next to him, a little too close than he was comfortable with. A hint of her honey-scented perfume mingled with the smells of blood and coffee beans.
“I think they’ve shut down for the day,” Dave said.
“There’s another place right down the street.” She gestured out the window.
“We’re staying here.”
“Come on.” She somehow managed to make the two words sound almost musical. “They won’t miss us. You standing here all sullen isn’t exactly a critical part of the investigation.” Continue reading