Chapter 3: Brothers and Mint Smoke

He stared into the mirror of the bathroom. It was one of those large tile bathrooms with the weird greenish florescent light that gave off a slight buzzing sound.

Magic, Monsters, the Dark and the Light…

This wasn’t the normal stuff from the world. This was all too much. He stared at his hand and watched how the shadow drifted forward. He felt like he was going to be sick. He continued to stare at his hand and the drifting shadow. It seemed to beckon him into the darkness…it was hypnotic. It waved and lingered like a woman asking him to come closer. The vertigo had vanished as he allowed himself to fall forward. There were sounds that seemed to grow distant – calling him or something. The word seemed to shift into a tranquil color. There was almost an onset of peace.

The world exploded into sound.

He felt himself yanked back and tossed into tile wall of the bathroom. The shock of pain and the cold tile brought him out of his daze.

“WHAT THE HELL were you trying to do you idiot? Did you WANT to kill yourself?” shouted one of two new men in room. The speaker looked furious. He was a lean built Asian with a tattoo of some sort of character on his face. He couldn’t tell the difference from Japanese or Chinese but it was distinctly Asian. The man was a rage of anger and for a second – Jonathan almost thought his eyes were yellow. The man next to him was a tall black man who made Ving Rames look small. The main difference was he had a kinder face.

“Come on Phi! He doesn’t know up for down right now. Cut him some slack, will ya,” said the larger black man.

Phirun and Ricky, Mar..Savannah’s older “brothers”.

The Asian walked up to Jonathan and grabbed him by his shirt – lifting him off the ground and staring into his eyes with such intensity, he could not look away. “Locke said you threw yourself in front of Savannah – WHY!?”

“I…I saw it was her. I mean I knew it was her…and then that thing came and I…I just couldn’t let her be hurt,” he said.

“Who the fuck do you think you are, huh!? A NOBODY forcing my trainee to go toe to toe with a Dark Magician who has been around longer than your shitty county! Do you realize what you have done to the potential within her? NO! No you fucking don’t and you know why? You’re fucking NOTHING you little worm! You could have gotten her killed by whatever you did to catch the Dark One’s eye! You are so fucking lucky that she was there to save your ass and pull you out of the Gloom,” he said as he shoved Jonathan into the wall and then dropped him. Phirun turned around and stormed out of the bathroom.

Ricky stood there and just shook his head with a sad look on his face. Offering a hand to Jonathan – he helped him up. “Listen man – I’m sorry. You walked into the shit, and I know it’s all warped and confusing. Let me start with this – Phirun is angry – and its not you. You are just the most convenient. He blames himself. He is Savannah’s mentor as a battle magician. For all his perfection and harmony – he goes to shit when someone he is close to is hurt. Believe it or not – he is well over hundred years old and he doesn’t look a day older than thirty – yet he still acts like a teenager when it comes to his family.”

Jonathan gave a confused look, but Ricky just led him out of the bathroom, “It’s after hours for you son. Questions in the morning…for now…sleep.”

The world went black.

He felt the warmth of the morning sun on his face. Something was cooking in the air. He slowly opened his eyes and saw the room was in a haze. Was it…smoke – no, it wasn’t that. It didn’t smell like cigarette smoke. It smelled almost minty and bitter? He slowly opened his eyes and blinked. Across the way from him was a man who looked like he was in his late thirties watching him. He had greying sideburns and retro-looking glasses. He reminded Jonathan of an eagle or a hawk. Something sharp about his features and the way he watched him was unnerving. It was like a raptor waiting to descend on its prey. He took a sip of the convenience store coffee that was in his hand. An elegant looking object was in his other hand. The only word to describe it would have been the hilt of a light saber. Putting one end of the object to his mouth, he pushed a finger down on an unseen button and then blew out a long stream of the minty and bitter smoke.

There was a silence between them as they looked at one another. It was slightly awkward until the stranger broke it by speaking and exhaling, “Well…did you need me to leave the room so you can get a morning spank in or are you ready to get out in the world?”

This was the first conversation with the man named Walling.

Walling waited as the newbie washed his face in the bathroom. He looked out the window into the morning sky. It was too damn early to be awake. He was a night owl normally and preferred neon to natural lights. The Boss had called him from the babysitting gig in Los Angeles. A Dark Other was caught influencing some of the clubs in Hollywood. The law there though was too damn gray and fluid. There were times that it was difficult to tell the difference between the actions of the Light and Dark. Nevertheless, he was called in as an extra hand due to the multiple implications by both Day Watch and Night Watch Officers. He realized the larger lesson at hand was for him. Not all things were black and white, they never were – even as an Other. After everything was said and done, he stayed on as an instructor until last night. It was all part of the so-called rehabilitation. Normally offenses like his called for harsher suspension – sometimes thrown into the body of an animal or worse. Looking down at his hand, he could still see the stitch marks that ran all the way up his arm. The shirt and jacket hid all of it obviously – but the arm never really felt the same. He still felt justified in the duel, even though the other magician had cheated – he still won. He knew the Boss had called in some sort of favor to keep him out of the fryer, and he felt bad that she was forced to use one to save his bacon. Yet he refused to allow himself to be painted in the wrong light He thought about sending in a form to appeal the final ruling and try for a record reversal. If he could get the Boss to sign off on it, it would a small victory in the long run. There was a buzzing in his pocket – his phone was ringing.

He looked down and saw the familiar phone number. Without a word he answered it.

“Consider this part of the requirements to have the petition signed by me. If your new charge is trained well and survives through it – then consider it done,” she said.

He sighed, “Yes Boss…”

“Oh one last thing Walling – until then – watch what you say,” she said with a hint of warning. She didn’t have to say it but all he heard was ‘I will be watching you’. He focused and took great pains to shield his mind from the Boss’s senses. He knew that the effort was futile – but it was more for his own self-assurance.

“Was that the same lady from last night?” Jonathan asked as he dried his face.

“Yeah, that was the Boss. So he’s the deal – for lack of a better term – you’re a noob in the game of life. What you thought you knew yesterday means jack and shit today. I will be taking you downstairs to meet an old friend who will be dealing with your academic learning. I on the other hand will be dealing with the physical aspect of your training. According to the report, they found trace residue of a shield spell. Normally that is pretty basic for seventh level magician. However, you did it on instinct – which means you have a talent. The question is where to direct that talent. So that is why I was called in – to cultivate and hone that talent into something that so that you won’t get your ass handed to you. So basically – I’m Obi Wan and you red shirt Padawan number 3,” said Walling with a bit of a smug grin.

“Man – you are mixing up two genres like cheap booze,” said Jonathan.

“Listen slick – I will mix metaphors, cocktails and what-the-fuck-ever I want because I’m teaching. You are the student. You Daniel-san and I am Mr. Miyagi. You will listen and you will live to bitch about it because of the training that I will give you. You can fall asleep and snore through the academics portion of this – but as far as what I teach you, it’s the goddamn gospel – got it?” said Walling as he jabbed a finger into Jonathan’s chest.

For half a second, Jonathan’s instincts kicked in and he really wanted to ‘nut’ his would-be instructor with his knee until he heard ‘Do you think you really want to try that slick?’ in his head. He knew Walling hadn’t said anything but he heard him clear as day as he heard Boss last night.

“Now if you are done putzing around…time to see Tee,” he said with a smile as he motioned him out the door.

She watched them get into a golf cart. Locke was standing next to her as they drove away. He shook his head and mumbled about about Walling’s inability to walk anywhere. She broke his train of thought, “Let me know when Savannah wakes up. Also tell Phirun to meet me in my office in an hour and to pack a bag. He is going to learn some temperance.” She looked to Locke, “You did not initiate him into the Light and I am guessing Savannah did not either. This means it was chosen for him when he fell in. It isn’t unusual or exceptional – but there is meaning behind it. He is a wild card and the Dark Ones aren’t going to like it.”

“What about his father?” Locke asked.

Talia was silent and then turned away to the elevator.

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