The penthouse suite of the hotel has a private kitchen for our use, which is a little silly. The jacuzzi, bathtub, shower and bath are a lot of silly, but Charlie figured we should use the last of the money we gained from getting Edward Hillary in trouble on something spectacular. I've given away over half of it to small book stores and some Entities in the world in need of money while Charlie is using most of what's left to buy us all new clothing and find a cheap vehicle to buy.
I decided to leave her to it and bought some fruit for a salad since I haven't made a real meal in weeks. I'm halfway through chopping up the apples when Jay walks into the kitchen. He still looks to be about ten and too pale but at least passes entirely as human: if I didn't know what he was, I'd have no clue he was anything other than a quiet kid rather than an entity from Outside the universe in humanoid form. Even the binding he did to make himself my servant is hard for me to sense.
"I thought you were watching the TV?"
He shrugs, studying the counter top. "I could help?" he says carefully, having made sure there were no esses in the sentence before speaking it. It drives Charlie a little nuts but I don't push him on it.
I give him a paring knife and leave him peeling potatoes with it for dinner. He offers up no conversation, his contentment like a cat sleeping at the edge of a bed. I'm almost finished the salad when the paring knife hits the tiled floor.
He looks up from the counter, his eyes too-pale and wide, holding up his right hand where the blade sliced his index finger. "It hurtth!"
I put my knife down and walk over. "Jay. Focus on me."
He does, vibrating with panic. A small wound like this should have sealed up instantly, even as weak as he is.
"Bathroom." He follows without a word, finger stuck in his mouth until I pull it out. I get bandages, peroxide, clean the wound and bind it. "You don't need the peroxide, but humans will wonder if if isn't used," I say as I wrap the cut up, trying to keep my tone calming.
He just bites his lower lip and whispers my name in a small, scared tone afterward.
"Come on." I lead him to the couch and sit. He sits as well, crowding in close. "Try and relax."
He tries, fails. I press my right hand over his chest and relax, letting my senses drift into his body and then add a small bit of magic to go with the will before opening my eyes. My relaxing has relaxed him a little but he still looks scared.
"Jay. The remote on the couch; can you get it quickly?"
He doesn't ask a question and is gone from the couch and back to it in a blur almost too fast for my senses to follow.
I reach my senses into him again as I take the remote. He sits without asking, trying not to tremble.
"I told you to hide your nature, didn't I?" A nod. "You're doing it so well that you're hiding you from yourself as near as I can tell, at least when it comes to small wounds."
"Oh." His gaze flicks away from me to the kitchen counter.
"And you're not going to inflict a deeper wound on yourself to test that, okay?"
He scowls and lets out a sigh. "Fine."
"It still hurts."
"Yeth. Yeah," he corrects, flushing a little, a little better if he's trying to avoid any esses again. Each one reminds him of how damaged his body really is.
"Okay." I flick the tv on to cartoons. "The salad can wait."
Jay blinks, then curls into my body when I don't move away and just watches the tv and trembles in silence for a good half hour before falling asleep.
I wrap the sleep tighter about him and stand, heading into the kitchen to finish the salad. Charlie comes in two hours later with over a dozen bags in either hand, a bare hint of god-claws and a glint of red in her eyes as she drops them all around the other couch.
I raise my eyebrows as she lets the god-monster inside her slip back within, power folding in on itself. "You could have asked someone to help you."
She shrugs. "Half of it is mine, most of the rest for Jay –" and pauses, gaze flicking over to him. "Sleeping? He didn't exhaust himself trying something, did he?"
"He cut his finger open and the wound bled without healing."
"It should have healed?" I nod. "Okay. Why didn't it?"
"Pretend you're going to eat him like you can eat gods. What he is?"
Charlie sniffs, sniffs again, eyes unfocusing. "Human. The hell?"
"Even to my senses he passes as human. I can barely sense the binding between us."
"So he's, what, so good at seeming human he fakes himself out?"
"I think so. If you'd asked before today I wouldn't have said it was possible. I don't think he has any trace of vampire left in him: no fangs, no damage to his nature from sunlight. Just speed and hiding, which I imagine his real form was made for."
"Huh." Charlie sniffs again, then walks over and snags a strawberry. "You're the magician: what's it mean?"
"I have no idea. I'll need to make some phone calls to old friends and see if anyone has heard of this happening before." I dump salad into a bowl before Charlie can pick out all the strawberries and shake Jay awake with a small flick of power.
He gulps down the food, eyes straying to the bandaged finger a few times but he says nothing at all, determined to be brave.
Charlie coughs and hands me the local paper. "Thought you might want this."
I skim the feature article about odd events in the town: mostly weird things happening at the local high school. There are few things as dangerous as new magicians. "Eat first; we'll look into it after."
Jay looks up at that. "Eating is definitely first," he says firmly.
Charlie rolls up the newspaper and he just grins and goes back to eating.