The church walls are stone, a few translucent ones serving as windows, sourceless light filling the small interior. There are no religious symbols, no pews, just old pale stone as an altar with unlit candles on it. The church shudders slightly, as if the ghosts of earthquakes touch ghost buildings, but Charlie doesn’t look back as I enter, not even when I close the church door.
“I had wondered where you would be; the Grey Lands is an interesting place to hide. I did not know a god-eater could enter this place.”
“I have a friend who is a ghost-eater, and gods have ghosts as well.” Charlie does not turn about, the god inside her still; whatever she is feeling, it is too complicated to be mere rage. “He sent you, then.”
“I was not sent by anyone.”
“Heh.” She turns at that. “I don’t know you well, fae, but I know the wandering magician. He’d want to know if I was safe, and how I was hiding from Jay finding me.”
“You planned to run away from Jay for some time, then.” I don’t make it a question.
The god inside her flares up with her anger, burning in her eyes as monster’s sometimes do. “No, Dana,” she snarls, as if using the name I use in this human form would somehow wound me. “He is my friend.”
“He waited for you to return for over a day, not leaving the motel room.” Charlie goes still, trying not to show how deep that wounds. “He does not understand why you left.”
“He wouldn’t.” Her voice isn’t steady at all. “Sunday night, we were an hour late to a showing of Jurassic World. The movie, with over two hundred people in the audience. The movie started an hour later than it should have, and no one even realized that: he did bindings to cause that without even thinking, without even trying to, because he didn’t want to miss hearing part of a movie we’ve been to over a dozen times already.”
“You are scared of him.” I do not even try to make it a question.
She shakes her head. “I am scared for him. He would have been so guilty if he’d realized what he had done, that he’d broken agreements made with the wandering magician in letter if not spirit by manipulating people on that level. He isn’t human, Dana. But he’s trying to be a little kid, acting like one, hiding his nature. Wanting, as kids do. Obsessing over movies, as they do, and I’m not sure even Jay knows how much of that is real. Fuck. At least the wandering magician can reason with him, can technically bind Jay if he has to. I can’t do anything like that, for all that I am. I can’t protect Jay from himself, no matter how hard I try. No matter how necessary it might be.” Charlie pauses as the church floor shudders. “He’s trying to find me, isn’t he?”
“He is your friend; he is concerned. What he will be when he realizes you abandoned him, I am not certain.”
“I didn’t –.” And she spins back to face me, the god inside her burning claws of darkness about her fingers.
I do not move. “And you are certain he will see it that way?”
The claws gutter out like candles on a birthday cake; I am not certain the god-eater notices. “No. It’s hard to know, with Jay. I just couldn’t manage anymore, not alone.”
“We did not consider that.” I smile, or try to. True smiles are hard for most fae, and I am not exception. “We do not always consider matters as deeply as we should. But he will miss his friend, Charlie.”
“He’ll be happier with Honcho.”
“I imagine so, but you are his friend. The wandering magician is many things, and not all of them are a matter of choice on Jay’s part. They are bound together very deeply, in ways even the fae do not understand.”
“You want me with Jay instead?”
“We do not know why Jay was placed with that magician, and there are few things that can be hidden from our power. He is safer with others, though I imagine he does not see it that way. You know he will forgive you,” I add.
Charlie snorts. “I know. That’s part of the problem, sometimes. I’m going to need time. To think. To do things on my own.”
I nod and walk back out of the church. “You will be given some time, yes. We would rather not make remaining with Jay part of the payment for us hiding you from him, but we will if we have no other choice.”
I close the door behind me, and walk back into the world before the god-eater can think of a suitable reply to that.