Kelvin cleared his throat, catching Fumiko’s attention. “Jamie may be bound by debts into your service now,” he said a little stiffly, “but they’re still my friend. Keep that in mind, Fumiko. I won’t get in the way of Jamie’s need to balance things between you, but I will take exception if you use that obligation to abuse them.”
Fumiko glanced at him, then back at Bonbon. She frowned, but when she spoke it was to Kelvin and not the faerie. “Noted,” Fumiko said. Bonbon just looked like she wanted to curl up and hide.
“Good,” Kelvin said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me — I’ll let the three of you figure out what you’re doing while I make those calls.” He stood, but waved for us to stay seated, for Bonbon to take his chair. Then he pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and walked to the far end of the room, already pulling up numbers as he did.
Fumiko’s scowl sharpened slightly with Kelvin’s absence. “So,” she demanded of Bonbon. “Your way for us to travel into the faerie lands. What is it?”
Bonbon looked up at Fumiko meekly. “Do you know much about portals?” she asked. On the other end of the room, I heard Kelvin making his calls. It sounded like he was being true to his word and telling people to forget about Lewellan’s rogue vampire hunt, so I ignored him to focus on Bonbon and Fumiko.
Fumiko shook her head. “Other than that there is one and that it is heavily guarded on both sides? Not enough.”
“Okay,” Bonbon answered. “Well, there are lots of ways between the worlds,” she said. “Places where the weave of leylines on this world is thin enough for someone to force their way across from ours, or where the two worlds have been deliberately connected. Fae can use the first, but those portals are one-way, for the most part, and the act of stepping through twists the weave such that no one else can use the same location until the first faerie’s presence has been removed from this world. The sort of portal you need is one of the latter: one that has been anchored in both worlds deliberately. Those portals can have any number of properties, but the most important one is that they will allow people and things from this world — physical people and things — to travel into ours.”
Fumiko nodded. “Then we might not have even been able to use the portal that Archarel used to attack this world previously?”
Bonbon shook her head. “No,” she said, “you would have been able to. It was established when Archarel’s changelings were exchanged, so it had to be stable enough for a mortal child to be brought back to our world. Since the connection between the two changelings was already running through the location, he reused and reinforced it when staging his bid for power in this world. You need another portal like that one, and I know where one is.”
“Where?” I asked.
Bonbon fidgeted nervously. “There’s a witch that Kelvin is friends with. Katherine.”
I stopped breathing. I stopped my heart from beating. I kept myself from making any sort of reaction at all.
“We were at her place a few months ago when I noticed it,” Bonbon continued. “She’d established a portal into our world. It would have corresponded to Archarel’s kingdom, since he holds claim over this city from our side. Anyway, Katherine was using it for summoning: she was nurturing a few informants by feeding them trace amounts of fear or worry in exchange for letting her know if Archarel was planning anything untoward again. But it was the sort of portal that a mortal could step through, if they cared to. When I mentioned that to Kel, later, he figured that was just the only sort of portal she knew how to craft… but luckily for us, that’s the kind that it is. We could use it.”
“Katherine,” Fumiko breathed. I could feel the tension radiating off of her. “You know, I owe that bitch for hexing me.”
Bonbon recoiled in surprise. I leaned in to explain.
“Katherine is a traitor. She’s the one who turned Megan over to Archarel,” I told her.
Bonbon paled. “Oh,” she squeaked.
I glanced at Kelvin. He was still on the phone and didn’t seem to have overheard us. But if he was a friend of Katherine’s… “I think it’s time for us to be going,” I told Fumiko.
Fumiko stood. “Agreed. Jamie, if you’ll lead the way?”
Jamie nodded hastily and went to the door we’d entered through. Fumiko followed close behind her. I glanced at Kelvin again and gave him a goodbye wave when he glanced back at me. He was scowling at the person on the other end of his conversation, but nodded in acknowledgement of our departure. I guessed he didn’t have anything else important to say, so I left him to being yelled at by the person he’d called and went to follow Fumiko.
In the next room I almost didn’t see Bonbon. It took a moment’s focus to find her: she was back in shadow form. “Can you see her?” I asked Fumiko.
Fumiko nodded. “Strange effect, though. I take it this means you’re doing something?”
Bonbon nodded hastily. “I can’t walk out among all of our… of Kelvin’s patrons without feeling the weight of their disbelief. So I stepped… well, not back to the fae world, but just slightly out of this one. You and I are linked, though, by my oath to you. I can’t hide from you, Fumiko.” She glanced at me and moved closer to Fumiko. For protection, I guessed. “I don’t know how she sees me.”
I arched my eyebrows and feigned innocence. “We’re connected, too,” I said. “You owe me, remember?”
Bonbon shivered and clung to Fumiko’s shoulder. She had to lean around Fumiko to look at me. “Not that much,” she said with firm certainty. “Especially since I indebted myself in an attempt to make sure you didn’t wind up owned by some truly cruel fae of Archarel’s. I’d say that should make us even.”
I shrugged. “And yet it clearly doesn’t,” I commented.
Bonbon scowled at me. “Only because your aura was overwhelming mine when you made the claim,” she snapped. “Besides, even that was paid in full by your geas. ‘No escaping,’ remember?”
I smiled. Fumiko looked back and forth between us and frowned.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” Fumiko growled. “Jamie, you aren’t going to figure out Abby. She’s insane. Abby, stop trying to psych out Jamie. She’s mine. Now can we go collect Mr. Kallaher and rescue Megan?”
I laughed. I was a little too close to hungry to be upset with being called insane — especially since I knew Fumiko was sufficiently drained to not be watching what she was saying like she normally did. And besides: Bonbon made an adorably contrite face when she was called out by Fumiko.
The blaring noise of the club precluded any continued conversation. That was no big deal since we were hurrying our way out of the club and Fumiko was clearly getting impatient, anyway. I had to wave away Thomas and the Nameless Bouncer when they tried to scurry over to join us, but then we were outside. Bonbon remained in shadow form as we walked rapidly toward the parking lot.
Before we got there, however, I caught Fumiko’s arm. “Fumiko,” I said, “I just thought of something.”
“Alright,” she said without slowing. “What?”
“If this portal is going to be inside of Katherine’s home,” I said slowly, “then I don’t think I can get in there without an invitation.”
That made Fumiko stop. “Son of a…” she stopped. “Alright, fine,” she said. “I’ll go without you.”
“No!” I hastily protested. That wasn’t what I wanted at all.
“Why not?” Fumiko snapped back. “It’s not like you’d be going into Archarel’s kingdom as part of the rescue, anyway. It’s supposed to be perpetual day over there, remember? How long do you really think you’d last like that?”
I frowned at her. I’d been thinking exactly that, but… “I’d manage,” I said. “Bonbon is the only one of the fae who owe me that are currently in this world. The rest must have gotten word from Pipsqueak somehow and fled. But that means they’d all be there if I went into Archarel’s realm, and I could feed on them to keep my aura intact while we went for Megan.”
Fumiko spun around to face me. “Oh really? That’s your plan? Great. But what do you propose we do about getting you into the house in the first place, then? Because there’s no way Katherine is going to invite you in, even if she was there to ask. Especially if she was there to ask! The two of you hate each other.”
I straightened and glared back at Fumiko. “I wasn’t going to ask Katherine,” I said. “I was going to ask Emma.” Emma and Katherine had lived together. Even though Katherine had thrown Emma out, I figured that couldn’t really matter. After all, if Lewellan could go into Salvatore’s house because it still thought of itself as belonging to its previous owner, then surely Emma hadn’t been gone long enough to not extend an invitation to me on the same principle.
“Emma,” Fumiko said, “is in a coma. I don’t think that will work.”
“Emma is unconscious,” I countered — and I hoped that was still true — “and she doesn’t have to be. We needed to rescue Megan because she’s our friend, yes, but also because we needed a faerie to push aura into Emma. Well, we have one now.” I looked meaningfully at Bonbon.
Fumiko followed my gaze thoughtfully. Bonbon backed away for the first time since clinging onto Fumiko back in the club.
“Wait,” Bonbon said. “I can’t do that!”
I took a step toward her. “Why not,” I growled. If I showed a hint of fang it wasn’t entirely on purpose. I was slightly surprised that I could get as angry as I suddenly was while my aura was as thin as it was.
Bonbon held her hands up in front of herself, as though if I got pissed enough to attack her it would matter what I latched on to. “I know who you’re talking about,” Bonbon said hastily. “I’m not close enough to her to share my aura with her. That’s… that’s intimate. And she and I just don’t have that kind of a connection! She’s never even heard of me.”
I scowled angrily. “You pushed essence to me,” I pointed out.
“Well, sure,” Bonbon agreed. “Your aura. Essence I hadn’t subsumed yet. And when I pushed it our leyline was totally warped from when you did whatever you did to dump it all on me in the first place! But my aura is going to want to stay mine. I’m not going to be able to just…” she waved her hands abstractly. “…give it to someone that I don’t have a real, deep connection with. It’s just not possible.”
Fumiko stepped between Bonbon and I. “Sorry, Abby,” she said. Her voice was cold, but I knew she actually meant it on some level: she wasn’t self-censoring, and hadn’t been since I’d fed on her earlier. “It looks like I’ll be going alone, then. And you and Mr. Kallaher can stand guard in case Archarel sends anyone after us when I get away with Megan.”
Fumiko waited until I nodded weakly, then she turned and marched into the parking lot. Bonbon hesitated a second to look at me, then darted away after Fumiko. I took a deep breath that I didn’t need. Emma will be okay, I told myself fervently. And then I followed them back to Mr. Kallaher’s hearse.