I knew it would be an ugly morning when the smell of scotch was stronger than the smell of coffee. I stagger out into the kitchen, last night a jumble of drinks and pain. My nose is broken, my head hurts and the coffee is Starbucks, appearing on the table between moments. It's never good to find I paid for a free coffee somehow and don't know why.
Jay is sitting at the table, all small and pale, his eyes filled with waiting. There is no sign of Charlie, but the motel room door rings like a broken bell when I pause to listen with more than ears.
"Charlie thlammed the door and left," he says, fighting the lisp in his voice and failing. It's hard for things from Outside to enter the universe, harder to remain and form bodies for themselves. He was too newly formed to do it, the damage to his Self reflected in his voice. Anyone who knows what he is would just have to hear him speak and know how weak he is.
He is quiet a few seconds after, thinking words over. "The old woman came and talked to Charlie, who growled, and I arrived and the magic-lady went away."
"Vanithed," he mumbles.
"I knew Mary-Lee was following me. She is old, and I thought to confront her in the bar with witnesses to prevent her from doing things. She did something to my drink instead and you and Charlie were left to face the oldest magician in the world."
He shrugs; he bound himself to my service. I could tell him to do anything and he would at least try, which is a terrible power to have over anything.
I reach, and there is a plate of scrambled eggs and a fork in front of him a moment later. He stares at it, then back at me questioningly.
"She could have destroyed you, Jay. That's payment for the food." He begins eating without further prompting and a huge grin.
"Is Mary Lee human?" He shakes his head; his sense of Other is stronger than mine could ever be. I don't point out she was human, or that magic seems to have altered her more than even I expected. I just summon more food and wait to see if Charlie returns.
I leave my nose broken. It won't last and Jay doesn't understand guilt at all, so I head to the bathroom to use the shower and force the rest of the scotch from my system. Sobered, I am left to wonder if I am different than any other magician. Today says no.
Jay finishes off a last plate of scrambled eggs when I come back out of the bathroom, clean and shaved, six plates stacked up neatly beside him. "Charlie wanted me to tell you a thing after you had a bath?" I nod and he frowns, then recites: "'I thought you were better than that."