Fictober, Prompt 17 – “There’s just something about them.”
Warnings: none. Urban fantasy.
It turned out that this was a continuation of Prompt 13, which I was not expecting. I really like this world though!
With that specific group of United Wizards Legion members thoroughly removed, thanks to the help of my new…friend from elsewhere, the next few days were calmer than I had anticipated. There were more of them out there in the world, but this loss would be a blow to their group, and this had been the most immediate threat.
We were lying low at my small house in Oak Hill outside the city, which mostly consisted of trying all the different foods we could find take-out for, and me buying new subscriptions to both the electronic and magical entertainment services so that we had something to fill our time other than the internet. The former was more than I anticipated, and the latter was probably a bad idea, since it wasn’t going to give my friend the most realistic view of things. Still, he seemed almost as interested in how the technology and magic worked (sometimes separately, sometimes together) as in the content of the shows and movies we watched.
On the second day, I made the mistake of saying, “Um, is there something I can call you? A name, or title, or anything?”
He blinked those human-but-not eyes at me, then smiled. (Like his laughter, it made my spine crawl, but…not in a bad way? Or maybe I was just getting used to the feeling.) “My native tongue is not one that humans find easy.”
I almost said, “Try me,” but managed to hold my tongue. For now. I was pretty good with languages.
“But,” he went on, looking thoughtful, “I would be happy to pick a human moniker, if that would suit.”
“Sure,” I agreed, and then promptly made my second mistake by introducing him to a few baby name sites on the internet.
“Are you sure that I cannot use Enguerrand?” he said after I had fervently vetoed his first half-dozen choices. “It has such a nice resonance to it.”
“What does that even mean? Never mind,” I shook my head when he opened his mouth to explain. “You’re trying to blend in a bit, right? If I’m going to call you by this name in public, then it can’t be too unusual.”
“I suppose you are right,” he sighed, and eventually settled on Alexander, to my relief. I was never going to be able to think of him as an “Alex” or otherwise shorten the name, but at least it wouldn’t sound weird.
Grocery shopping on day four was an experience.
“You provide each other with food? Peaceably?”
“Well, we have to pay for it,” I pointed out, “and that’s hard for some people at times. But yeah, farmers all around the world grow food and harvest it, and then it gets shipped to wherever and grocery stores stock it and then the rest of us can come in and pick what we want. It’s pretty cool, actually. A couple centuries ago, most people had to be farmers, because everyone could only really grow enough to feed themselves, plus maybe a little more.”
We finished in the produce section and moved on to meat. He seemed willing to eat a wide variety of things and hadn’t yet had any adverse reactions that I was aware of, but I had noticed a marked preference for meat. I wasn’t a vegetarian by any means, but figured I should probably at least pretend to eat some green things once in a while.
“It is an…unfamiliar concept,” he said, gazing around with that same expression from the first night, wonder and curiosity on a face that didn’t seem used to either of those things.
He did not elaborate, and I did not ask. He had made similar comments over the last few days, apparently impressed by the degree to which we humans were actually able to live peacefully together much of the time.
It was clear to me that he was not necessarily a fan of however things were done “back home,” so to speak, or at least was tired of it for now.
The conclusion following that – that Alexander had no intentions of returning to said home anytime soon – was unavoidable and (surprisingly) not unwelcome.
I’d been alone for a long time myself.
After the furor over the deaths of the wizards started to die down, I didn’t mind venturing out a little more. Thanks to Alexander’s power, no one had any idea that we were the ones responsible, fortunately, but I still hadn’t wanted to take too many chances.
“There are more of them out there,” I told Alexander as we drove back into the city on the seventh day.
He looked at me, attentive. “You wish to see them destroyed as well.”
I nodded in answer to the not-question. “I don’t think it’s as…urgent, for now. I’ll try to keep track of them like I’ve been doing.”
“We could easily go, and come back,” he suggested after a few moments’ thought. “When you find that they are an immediate threat.”
I wasn’t entirely sure what made my breath catch more: the implied immensity of power that could teleport us anywhere in the world at moment’s notice, or his clear offer to stay with me and to help.
“You— You’d want to do that?” I asked, hesitant.
“Hmm,” he hummed, another not-human sound that sent shivers up and down my back, nearly familiar after a week. He looked out the window at the crowds we were passing, people walking into the stadium to see the basketball game – the same game we were on our way to as well. “There is just something about them. About all of you, and about this place. I think I would like to stay for a time, and a little excitement now and then would not go amiss.”
The sharpness of his grin was deliberate. I glared at him for the shift, but my heart wasn’t in it. It was fluttering too rapidly for that, too glad of his words.
“That’s fine with me,” I said, honest but not too serious, matching his tone as we pulled up to a red light.
He turned to look at me, and I did the same, watching as the not-human eyes flickered back to not human, just for a moment.
“You would want that?” he echoed my previous question.
“Yes,” I said immediately, trying not to sound as breathless as I felt. “And when it’s just us, at home, if you want to, you know, just be you then that’s- that’s fine too.” It would take some getting used to, but it wasn’t as if I didn’t know what his real form looked like.
Wonder lit those eyes again, just for a flash, and then he had resumed his fully human appearance just as the light turned green.
“Very well,” Alexander agreed, smiling just a little.
We watched the game, and then we went home, and ordered pizza, and I ran some scrying spells to make sure that none of the remaining units of the United Wizards Legion had moved to harm anyone else unexpectedly, and then we watched an action movie with lots of explosions, which Alexander appreciated.
Then I went to bed, and Alexander settled in with my computer and a book on human magic, content to entertain himself through the dark hours (his need for sleep, or at least anything that looked like sleep to me, was apparently minimal).
And in the morning we would go find our next adventure, together.