There was no point in denying it: Julia was angry with herself. Trying to find ways to connect with people, she let herself trust Bailey. Now, it appeared that that trust had been misplaced. Jason would tell her not to give up after one failure, but it wasn’t just one. It was merely the latest. Finding Bailey was all she could think about. It wasn’t so much to help Rebecca as it was to confirm the betrayal. She hadn’t really opened up to them, but even the idea that it had been possible irritated her. Having gone along with Bailey staying at the house, she felt some measure of responsibility for their actions.
Outside the house, she retrieved the green crystal from a pocket. Jason had used them as keys to open portals. While that was their main purpose, Julia discovered, after playing with it for awhile, that she could also use it for detecting the use of spatial magic. Jason’s notes hadn’t mentioned that function, perhaps because he lacked Julia’s affinity for such magic. Unfortunately, the crystal uncovered no recent travel by magical means, so wherever Bailey had gone, it was by mundane means.
If she was right about when Bailey had left, Julia was nearly two hours behind. If they had stayed on foot, they were probably in an eight mile radius, large but manageable. If they used a vehicle of any sort, things became much harder. Hoping that Bailey might still be relatively close, Julia closed her eyes and began expanding her awareness.
In the house, as large as it was, she had essentially created most of the space. It was thus a simple matter to know where anyone might be. While she still had power outside, it wasn’t her domain. She could search, but it was a much slower, more arduous process. The bigger the area, the more effort it took. Given enough time, she might be able to search the whole world, but the power it would take to do so was prohibitive.
Of course, the search would be much easier if she had something with a strong connection to Bailey. Even if she hadn’t set out before looking, she wasn’t sure if they had left anything at the house. None of these thoughts were getting her anywhere, so she pushed them away.
Every time she found someone, she had to stop for a moment to verify it wasn’t Bailey. Luckily, the house wasn’t located in a densely populated neighborhood. Still, there were enough people to slow her down. Ultimately, Bailey was nowhere to be found. Discouraged, Julia was about to widen the search when a thought occurred to her.
Getting from the dining room to the front door wouldn’t take long, but it still required going through a hallway. Without Sarah’s guidance, Bailey would get lost. It would have been difficult to get out, unless they had a badge. If they had a badge, Julia could use that to track them down instead of sifting through every person in the vicinity.
Filtering out everything except badges, she found one nearly ten miles away, just outside the area she had searched. It was Thomas’s, which meant that he could easily be lost inside the house. The idea gave her a bit of perverse pleasure. Telling herself that finding Bailey was more important, she left Thomas’s fate for another time. Maybe Sarah would find him.
Opening a portal near the location, Julia stepped through to find herself in a park. There was a figure sitting alone on a bench. Trying to seem casual and non-threatening, she approached.
A clap of thunder startled her, but she tried not to let it show. The figure on the bench looked up. It was indeed Bailey, with a look of profound sadness on their face.
“I’m sorry,” they mumbled. “I didn’t want to.”
All her feelings of anger and betrayal drained away. Bailey was still an unknown, still someone to be cautious around. Yet Julia was unable to deny the evident pain in front of her.
“What happened? What did you do?”
“Nothing.” Bailey’s voice cracked under its own weight. They didn’t try to hide that it was a lie. Another clap of thunder and the rain began to fall in sheets.
“Can you tell me anything?”
They shook their head without saying anything.
“Come on. Let’s go back to the house and out of this rain. Maybe Sarah can help, now that we know there’s a problem.”
“Why? Why would you do that?”
“We need information. Even if you don’t believe we want to help, surely you can believe that.”
Julia opened a portal and made certain Bailey went through first.