Just as she had expected, Christein was outside of the Interrogation Department, waiting for her.
Snatching her mask off, she grabbed him before he knew she was behind him, making him flinch purely on instinct. She hugged him from behind, thinking about her mask for a moment and forcing her cousin to turn his head at what had to be an uncomfortable angle to look back and down at her. There was something strange about the way Atlas looked at her.
“Monkey! Darach Devalier. Atlas’ll give me more if I bring him in. But…” She trailed off as she realized what bothered her. Atlas was looking at her the same way he did when they were both at parties and he didn’t know she was looking. Though she didn’t want to believe it was possible, given that Atlas knew that Arne Riff was Lord Phoenagis, proven when he hadn’t reacted to her purposeful slip up in using her uncle’s first name, rather than his title. Atlas knew who she was. That was a rather frightening thought.
She shifted to stand in front of him when Christein gave her an impatient grunt to imply that she should move. She gave a shrug, pushing the situation with her identity to the back of her mind to focus back on the current problem. She gave a meek smile before admitting the problem. “I have no clue where he’d be.”
“Darach? I know Darach. He’s the head of the whole Information Department. I have to report to him a lot.” A man with black hair in a long braid became visible next to them, his headphones radiating soft music. He had a tendency to sneak up on them like that and Amadhay honestly still couldn’t tell how he did it with music playing yet not have them notice. He still refused to tell her, which was just as frustrating as it had been for the past three years, since it had the potential to make her even better at her job. For a moment, Amadhay wondered why he was even in this part of the building, before coming up with the only likely conclusion: he’d been looking for them for some reason.
Christein scowled at him, attempting to grab Amadhay’s arm, though she easily sidestepped him. “Ben, will you shut up? She asked me, not you.”
Benjy turned his music up loudly as he turned on his heel, walking backwards down the hall away from the interrogation rooms. “What? Sorry, can’t hear you,” he called as he headed off, but just as he started to turn the corner, he called back to her, “Info Depo’s this way, Amadhay.”
Amadhay wiggled her fingers over her shoulder in a wave to Christein, calling, “By the way, there’s a puddle of kitten pee I need you to clean in there,” back to him as she caught up with Benjy.
Benjy waited until he was sure she was following him to add, “Which you would know if you actually followed the rules and reported your mission findings.”
She made a face as she grabbed his arm and linked hers with his. “I do too report my findings,” she argued. “To you and Monkey and Lord Phoeganis. I figure if it’s important enough, someone else reports the rest.”
The phantom rolled his dark eyes. “Dolt,” he told her fondly, “Now they’ll think you’re a new recruit or something.”
She grinned up at him. “What they don’t know can’t hurt me,” she teased before giving him a look that meant she needed to pick his brain. “Do most people report directly to Darach?” she asked, wondering if it was strange that Atlas wanted him. She had honestly never heard of a Darach Devalier in the Phoegani, and it bothered her that he would know someone that she didn’t. So, really, this was her trying to determine if Darach was well known, or if she should be wary that Atlas was asking for specific people.
“No,” Benjy answered, tilting his head to tell her to turn left. “He’s under Lord Phoeganis and the same level as Head of Delegations and Head of Procedure.” He paused, giving Amadhay an interested look. “So it’s strange that Lord Palnoki would want him.”
“That’s what I thought,” she admitted, “I’ve never heard of Darach.”
“And the only reason I know Darach is because I’m the Voice of the Masses.” He opened an unmarked door that she assumed led to the Department of Information Requisition. “And, of course because I’m the one they send on all the most important information retrieval missions.”
“Like they used to send me on the good ol’ bloody missions,” she countered, feeling decidedly glum. She was tired of boring missions. It had been three weeks of locating and scoping missions. This was the first mission she’d had since Madra that wasn’t the absolute worst. Which was surprising, considering that she had been pretty sure, going in, that it was a suicide mission.
“Oh yeah,” Benjy said, steering her by the arm down a long hallway with far too many doors. “What happened to Madra? I thought you had to go there?”
She flinched slightly at the reminder of the botched job that had her on interrogation duty. “Noneya,” she replied as good-naturedly as she could, not really wanting to talk about it.
“Oh,” Benjy said, eyeing her closely for a moment before he squinted at her. “So you met someone?” he asked cautiously, turning his music down low enough that she couldn’t hear it anymore, though he kept the headphones covering his ears.
Her first question was why he wanted to know. Her second was why he would assume she met someone from that short of an answer. She didn’t ask either. She really didn’t want to talk about this.
“Maybe,” she said sweetly, giving him a faked giggle and a small shrug. The image of Lizu flashed before her eyes. She hugged Benjy’s arm tighter.
“What does he look like?” he asked casually.
She gave a real giggle this time. “A girl.”
“Eh? Really?” he laughed, “Didn’t think of you like that.”
Amadhay gave him a soft shove. “You know you’re still my only,” she teased.
“That’s a downright lie,” he snorted.
She giggled, letting go of his arm and waiting until he was looking at her to flutter her eyelashes prettily. “Well you’re still my favorite,” she flirted.
“Only because I put up with you,” he replied casually as they reached the information desk.
Amadhay gave him a side-glance. While that was incredibly true, she wasn’t sure that she was comfortable with him recognizing the truth in the statement. “So where’s this Darach?” she asked him, changing the subject. Then she added, “And what should I say to convince him to come with me?”
“I heard my name?”
The duo turned to stare at the tall man who stood in the doorway just off from the empty main desk. He was as pale as Atlas, yet with black hair and eyes. A single gold streak was swept from the front to the back of his hair. His suit was impeccable and when Amadhay gave him an admiring look, she could feel the strength of the distaste Benjy threw at him.
Benjy nodded down at Amadhay. “She has a message for you.”
Darach’s pitch-black eyes flickered over Amadhay and she felt as though she were being carefully categorized on sight. He licked his thin lips. “I’ve never seen you before. But you’re not new, are you?” He gave a smile, but it did nothing to diminish the feeling she got from him. It was like he was missing something. She barely suppressed a shiver at the sight of his teeth, razor sharp and in two perfect rows.
She critically went over her own appearance in her mind, not looking away from him, to determine if she was presentable for him, and to try to decide how he was most likely categorizing her. Tight black sneakpants, creaseless and unwrinkled, she was someone who was regularly in the field, moving around and needed her pants to be more like a second skin so they wouldn’t inhibit her in any way but would save her skin from needing grafts if she went skidding. Black ankle boots, low heeled and zipped to the top with the bottoms of the sneakpants tucked in, she was vain and liked the idea of fashion, while still being functional. She hadn’t been out in her preferred field today, too clean. Red top, long sleeved and tight enough to show off her curves, meaning she used seduction as one of her preferred methods. Sleeves loose enough to hide blades and telltale bumps to imply that she was armed, dangerous. No mask, but a single ribbon, red, holding her hair back in a ponytail at the center of her head. Perfectionist and well-known.
She felt quickly to be sure that the bow was centered, with equal ribbon hanging on either side. She saw him take that in and the briefest lights of knowledge coming to him. She wondered if it was the need for symmetry or the red that gave away her identity, but she knew the moment he knew that she was the Phoegani’s assassin Red Robin and Lord Phoeganis’ protégée, Amadhay.
She smiled. Her crimson eyes locked onto Darach’s and she entwined her fingers together in front of her. “I was hoping that you would come with me to an interrogation room where I’m holding Atlas Palnoki. He asked, specifically, for you.”
Darach’s eyebrows shot up. “Ar-Atlas? Atlas Palnoki? What is he doing here? I’ll come.”
His slip up wasn’t missed by either of the other two. Benjy made a pointed noise for her attention while Amadhay only narrowed her eyes the barest of a fraction for a split click. She kept her smile firmly on her lips. “I brought him in today for questioning,” she alerted the man, turning on her heel.
Darach moved from his doorway to follow her. “Ah…? Really? Interesting,” he paused, glancing at Benjy once more before making after Amadhay, who hadn’t paused. “He’s probably extremely bored now.”
“He is,” she answered, before pouting dramatically. “And he won’t talk to me anymore.”
“But he asked for me? Figures.”
Amadhay wasn’t sure what to make of that, merely looking back to him with a smile. “Mmmhmm. So come along, will you?” she suggested, implying that he could move faster.
‘Don’t trust him,’ she caught Benjy mouth out of the corner of her eye. She turned on her heel and appeared before him, giving him a chaste kiss on the cheek before whispering, “Do I ever?”
And then she was back before Darach, leading him to the interrogation room. Benjy smiled after her and shook his head, but then he decided to follow them, slowly. She didn’t mind.