I almost missed them, which is kinda pathetic when you think about it. Me, fully trained and tested Wizard, not paying the slightest attention to two beings discussing the quickest way to shank a bitch. I kid you not, that was the phrase used, and it was the brat in an oversize button up and suspenders that framed the sentence. There was something about them that caused the crowds to walk past, to ignore what was obviously something supernatural.
I think it was the hotdogs they were eating that did it.
"Minion," The adult of the pair sighed, mustard and relish and jalapeños spilling over his fingers to drip on the sidewalk. One cheek was packed with heartburn inducing goodness like a chipmunk stashing nuts. "You been spending too much time with England. Faeries aren't real."
"Yes! They! Are!" The kid, too young to have dropped if he was boy, stomped his foot and gestured with his free hand, a switchblade popping into it like, well, magic. "And you need iron to take 'um out! Before they steal any more of my theatres! You're my big brother, you have to help me!"
The man chewed his hotdog, swallowed, and ran a hand through his short blonde hair. "So you got a homeless problem, big deal, we all do. They're still your citizens-"
"They are not! They're... they're freeloading invaders! I got hives man, hives!" I veered over to the two and watched as the kid rolled up his sleeve to reveal a bad rash. The blond in the bomber jacket hissed in sympathy and nodded.
I cleared my throat. The two whirled on me and I almost took a step back at the amount of power suddenly focused on my person. Seriously. One second there was nothing but an odd couple, and the next I felt like I had a whole bloody nation scrutinizing my every action as if I was on TV or something. "You got a problem with the Fae?" I asked, because I was a wizard, a representative of the White Council, and if there was a group of Sidhe breaking/bending the Accords I needed to know. I kinda lived here.
The kid snorted and tucked a stray strand of snow pale hair away from his face. "You could say that." He glared up at me, and I was so shocked by the color of his eyes -the same shade as Marcone's eyes- that I didn't look away in time. We'd triggered a soul gaze.
A soul gaze occurs when a wizard meets another human's eyes. We peer into each other's souls. I get to see the very core of what makes someone who they are, and they get to see me. I've never soul gazed myself. I've gotten the impression I wouldn't like it. Still, nothing prepared me for what I saw in Chicago, because that was what he, She, was.
I fell through window after window. I saw through the eyes of mother's rocking their children, I was those children looking up into their mother's faces. I watched parents going to work and going to the drink and running into the arms of their wife or their mistress. I was the woman walking down the street in too-high heels and fuck-me lipstick. I was the man trimming a tree. I was having a baby. I was studying for my math final. I was making love. I was the changeling wondering why he could never get warm. The toddler taking his first steps. The old man trying and failing to remember a tune. The thug practicing his dancing for a girl he wasn't even sure knew his name. I saw Murphy, all the Murhpys, and I saw Mac and the Carpenter's too. I felt their heartbeats, their breaths, and heard their thoughts like the wordless break of an ocean wave. The hopes and dreams, and fears, of an entire city condensed into one child...
Shaking, I came back to myself. The girl, Chicago in human form, slowly broke into a smile and reached for me. Her hands were small and rough, her nails dirty, and I knew that she existed because of me. Or, rather, I made it possible for her to exist. I don't think I was the one that planted the idea in Marcone's head, but I'd been the one to make it possible. My signature was the one that established her borders and gave her shape. In my making of the miniature in my subbasement I'd learned her more intimately than I'd known lovers. "Chicago?"
"Mamma!" She squealed and jumped at me, wrapping her arms around my middle with enough strength I knew I'd never be able to pry her off. "Hi!"
The other, America, grinned like an idiot, pointing and laughing at us. It took another ten minutes of half-assed explanation before we could move out and rout the trolls that had taken up residence in an abandoned Nickelodeon. It was surprisingly easy, what with America ripping seats out of the floor and throwing them as distractions, Chicago zipping in like the Bunny of Caerbannog, and me blocking their retreat with a fire that inevitably burnt down the structure.
But this one was scheduled for demolition anyway. And America apparently had marshmallows on him, so it was good things all around, until Marcone showed up demanding an Explanation. Still, the look on his face when Chicago launched herself at him with a declaration of Daddy was priceless.