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6.

The three of them, off in a corner of the party, put their rings together against the box in Lilah’s hand. They pictured the heck out of Andre: the smooth, handsome face, the daring look of doubtlessness, the nicely groomed little beard, the flash in those blue eyes.

He reminded Lilah of Elio, but then again not. They had the same daring doubtlessness, they had the same fine attention to grooming, they had the same dangerous look in their eyes, those pale blue recklessly shallow eyes. But Andre looked like someone who totally believed in his struggle. Elio didn’t believe in any struggle. He believed in going off and returning with great fanfare, but the part in between, where you have to figure out what the right thing to do is and then do it, no matter how difficult: he wasn’t so into that.

She was remembering more and more about him. She felt like that complex of caverns was opening up to her torch. He thought himself a great lover, but after the first few times, he didn’t have anything more to show her: he couldn’t trouble himself to try anything new, since he was already so very wonderful. He considered himself quite the radical revolutionary, but for all his iconoclasm, he kept high the icon of his own genius; it was really his only credo. He was certainly very intelligent and possessed of a powerful magical skill, and he was an avid learner of new spells and methods, but by the halfway point in their relationship, she had surpassed him, and he had never admitted it to himself Elio’s superiority over Lilah was pars per toto of his superiority over the cosmos, and to doubt it would be to doubt himself. And to doubt himself was weakness.

And that, Lilah was fairly sure, he had in common with Andre.

The other two were looking at Lilah. They were still in the stone hall between rooms at the time travelers’ party. “Sorry,” she said. “Miles away.”

“I’d love to know what you think about,” said Annelise, “when you get that look in your eyes.”

“Just remembering,” said Lilah, thinking of the look in Elio’s eyes when she blasted his neat-o white wand and sent him fleeing her wrath, fleeing into the woodwork. She couldn’t help but smile. “I have a lot more of that to do,” she said. “Ready?”

“Sure, boss,” said Rob.

They focused. They focused the heck out of Andre. Take us to Andre!

The three detectives, their rings together, experienced a moment of dizziness, but they held their position. Then they were gone and back again, the jump taking just a little longer than the zero seconds it normally would take. They looked around.

They were back in the lobby of the Immortal Reserve Bank of Adari. The three of them stood together near the a potted plant. About twenty meters away stood Lilah Bay: there were now two nearly identical Lilah Bays in the bank. This one was looking back toward the giant, still-intact window, where Rob stood watching.

Lilah turned to the right. There was the bathroom. The door swung open, and out came Lucy and her friend Andre.

“This is identical to before,” said Lilah, stuffing the box in her pocket. “Let’s back-jump.”

“You’re sure it’s the same?” asked Rob. They watched Lucy and Andre place the crystal and move forward, throwing spells around.

“Exactly the same,” said Lilah, watching the way they aimed their wands at the crystal. “They’re about to blow that thing up.”

“Okay,” said Annelise. She and Rob grabbed Lilah’s hands and Lilah got her ring to take them straight back to where they had been, that stony hall between lame zones of a time travel party.

“Okay, so,” said Lilah, “is that the only Andre we have or did the box get lazy?”

Annelise got her best crystal out of her backpack. It still had metal gadgets bracketing it. She fiddled a little, then looked at Lilah. “Can I borrow that box?” she asked.

“Of course,” said Lilah. She dug it out and handed it to Annelise, then said to Rob, “Any great epiphanies, champ?”

“Sure,” said Rob. “I think we’re too late to save that window.”

“That window is one of the wonders of the cosmos,” said Lilah. “Bloody terrorists. How they love broken glass.” She looked at Annelise. “So?”

“That’s all the time I get?” asked Annelise. “Okay. So yeah. Nothing. It looks like Andre only exists for about half an hour all told. It’s odd.”

“Could they just have hidden their traces somehow?” asked Rob.

“Not from me they couldn’t,” said Annelise. “But the equipment isn’t the best, these aren’t the best conditions, so maybe we just need to go back to the office and see what George and Mr. Marius think.”

“Marius isn’t there,” said Lilah. “He’s off taking care of some other problem with time and space.” She sighed. “But maybe George can come up with something. Otherwise, this seems like a dead end. Which is odd, if you think about that bank attack. Because that sure seems like it should be important, don’t you think?”

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