As a rule, trying to kill a magician before six in the morning is unwise. Not that it is ever wise, but trying to attack a magician BC –before-coffee – means we tend to act without thinking. The would-be killer is curled up in the doorway sobbing as my shadow untangles from his own. The hotel room door is a complete loss and I can hear Charlie shouting at someone in her room. Nothing from Jay’s room, even though the door has been broken open.
I step over the man with the machine gun and cheap suit, glancing about the hotel room. The killer who had intended to shoot Jay comes out of the bathroom, levelling a machine gun at my chest.
I hold his gaze with my own. Any competent magician learns to hide what they are, but also when to let it be visible. The gun hits the ground, his face as pale as the countertop.
“.. stupid,” Charlie is snarling from her room. “Do you even grasp what Jay would do if you shot me?”
I leave her to keep lecturing the would-be killer, gesture to the island and walk toward it. The man follows me. Big, poorly made suit, hat, gun.
“I am the wandering magician, and it’s been years since anyone actually tried to kill me with a gun. Which doesn’t mean your friend didn’t run into my wards, and your other friend met the god inside Charlie. And Charlie. I think it might be for the best if you explain why you are here.”
The man gulps loudly. He’s dangerous, but only in crude ways, and has some idea of what I could do to him.
“Jay. The boy with you. He was in a poker game last night. He cheated; boss wanted a lesson sent to cheaters.”
I snort. “Jay does many things, but he definitely wouldn’t cheat at cards. Cheating isn’t jaysome, after all.”
“It was a poker game. He used Pokemon cards.”
“And won, of course.” I shake my head. “Jay is eleven: if someone let him into the poker game, that’s not my fault. He won because it wouldn’t even occur to him that he wouldn’t win.” I reach through the bindings I have with Jay, a question getting a happy answer. “He also gave the money out to a dozen homeless people he ran into. Because Jay.”
“We were told to teach him a lesson.”
“You can start by calling a company about the doors and helping fix them. Fixing mistakes is an important lesson for Jay to learn. You made a mistake. You own it. You fix it.”
“But –.” The man stops dead as Jay appears in the middle of the room with a tray from Starbucks. “I got coffee for you and Charlie, Honcho, and – do I need to get more coffees?! Because I can!” The pride behind the smile causes the man to somehow turn even paler than when we’d held gazes.
“We – uh – we came to the wrong house for a party, so we’re fixing some doors. Coffee would be nice?” he says.
“Okay!” Jay vanishes again.
The hired killer Charlie lectured bolts out of her room into the bathroom, throwing up violently as Charlie comes out and goes to her coffee.
“I explained what Jay would do if I got shot. In detail. Idiots,” she says.
“They won’t stay that way. Jay is bringing them coffee,” I say as I undo the wards on the one in my bedroom. He wisely elects to stay in the room for now. “We’ll take Jay out for breakfast and give them time to fix the hotel room and explain things to their boss.”
The pale man nods frantically, saying nothing.
“What happened?” Charlie asks, resigned.
“Jay. Poker game. Pokemon cards.”
“Oh, good. It took hours to fix the time he played Go Fish and War with a tarot deck.” Charlie shudders a little at the memory as I get my own coffee.
Jay returns with coffees for all three hired guns, each one just the way they like it.
They, wisely, say nothing at all as we head out to breakfast with Jay. Which will also be an adventure.