Alexa had spent more time in the Doorways than anyone else she knew, more than, as far as they could tell, anyone in their world, possibly in any world. She was, much to Aerich’s continual annoyance, the resident expert on the things. And yet, every time they went through one, she had to swallow a surge of panic.
They held hands when they went through the Doorways. Roping off would be too obvious if, as they often did, they landed in the middle of a population center. But Alexa wasn’t certain that they would all end up at the same place otherwise, and Aerich couldn’t say yay or nay to that with any certainty, so they held hands.
They made sure it was Cole, or Josie or Xenia, who held Alexa’s hand – her left; she Opened with her right – and kept Aerich on the other end of the chain. And they all pretended they couldn’t tell she was white-knuckled, palms-sweaty, clinging to that hand for dear life until they were all through the Doorway.
She was grateful for the fiction. It allowed her to hold her head high and walk tall into strange worlds, to maintain the cool, perfect Lady Diplomat façade that had held her so well for so long. It allowed her to lie with her body, and smile, and act as if nothing had changed.
Everything had, of course, changed. Since the day she’d stormed out of Aerich’s house and ended up in the desert, both her public persona and her internal self had taken a bit of a beating. The Lady Diplomat, Alexa Bianchi, darling of the US Foreign Services, was missing, presumed dead. While the team had thoughtfully provided her a new set of credentials, as far as their homeworld was concerned, she no longer existed.
And in something closer to reality, Alexa herself wasn’t totally certain of her status, or, on bad days, of her existence. She tried not to think about that, though, as much as she could avoid it. She had a job to do. They all had jobs to do.
They had made it through the Doorway, intact, safe, and not falling through mid-air. She felt the hard soles of her boots click on pavement, took in a lungful of sooty air, and, with the rest of the team, took quick assessment of their surroundings.
“Carriage,” Josie warned, and they stepped back out of the road as the brass-and-iron contraption- not, technically, a carriage, but calling it a car would be entirely inaccurate – clattered by in an amazingly tuneful ringing of pipes.
“Steam and soot,” Aerich commented, brushing off his sleeves. “You take us to the most lovely places, Alexa.”
We met Cole from the Facets of Dusk team two weeks ago, and now we meet Alexa. Stay tuned for more!!
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