Under the Bed
Emil let himself into Josefines apartment with a quick spell to unlock the four deadbolts on the door, static shocking across his ring in the process. He rounded the partition into the main part of the apartment and came to an abrupt halt; Josefine always wore her sleeves down to her wrists no matter how hot the weather got and now he couldn help but suspect he knew why. She leaned over the table that took up most of the room, long sleeves rolled up for once to reveal pale skin patterned by far too many scars like someone had carved into her flesh with purpose, faded some with age, but still clear even from where he stood.
Josefine seemed to feel his eyes on her because she paused in her sorting through papers, seeming to hesitate a moment before she took a deep breath.
e gifts from my mother… ” her voice was soft and matter of fact despite the bitterness one might expect from her words and she spoke without looking up at him, ”My fathers are mostly on my back. ” Emilius swallowed hard as he realized this little piece of information explained a lot about her including, he suspected, her severe aversion to physical contact. She said nothing more on the matter and he expected she would appreciate no further questions.
”Ive come to set up protections. ” Josefine finally looked up when Emil broke his silence, grey eyes skating over the wooden briefcase in his hand.
”What happened to the keys I gave you? ” He flinched, Josefine was one of the few people with the innate ability to read magic, so she probably knew how hed gotten in and had already come to the conclusion hed lost his keys to her place.
e around, ” he began slowly, soft German lilting over the words, ”Im just not sure where. ” Josefine hummed quietly as if to say she didn really believe him but let it go anyway. ”Which room is Miss Bates staying in? ” She pointed to the room on the right as she took a sip of her coffee. Emil didn actually care which room was which, he planned to place protections in both because even if Josefine wasn the target, he didn want to risk the demon taking it out in her when it couldn reach Bates.
Josefine looked up from her notes—the papers spread neatly across the table—when she smelled sage. Emil was just finishing up in Batess room and started to open hers with his tool kit still in hand.
”Emil, ” she broke the silence and he flinched, though his hand still lingered near the knob, ”thats my room. ” He turned to face her, taking a deep breath before meeting her gaze.
”Id like to do your room too. ” He held her gaze, even when Josefine had started her unconscious tapping—counting the seconds, ”Demons can be unpredictable and Id rather not risk it taking it out on you when it can get to Miss Bates. ” He made a good point, or at least it sounded like a good point when Emil was the expert in that field.
”Alright, ” Josefine said after thinking it over for a moment, ”thank you. ”
e welcome, ” and with that, he turned the handle and went inside. He was back a moment later with one of her shirts, distinctive red staining the fabric. ”Is this blood? ” She looked up from her coffee to see what he meant.
”Its not mine. ” Emil looked down at the shirt.
e right, the stain is all wrong, ” he breathed a sigh of what Josefine assumed was relief, ”I saw the blood and thought youd been stabbed again. ” She took the shirt from him, setting her coffee aside.
”Ill deal with this while you work. ” Emil started to return to his task but paused, checking his watch—an antique pocket watch in silver, harder for haywire magic to break it that way.
”Would you like to have lunch with me once we
e both finished? ”
”Dubickis? ” Emil smiled.
”That would be fine. ”
”Alright, Ill be quick, ” Josefine set about treating the bloody shirt with peroxide and scrubbing it clean.
Still smelling of sage and peroxide, Josefine and Emil ducked into Zaftigs Deli out of the rain. Dubicki looked up from ringing up another customer and his smile bloomed from customer service to delight.
”Doc, ” he said as the other patron left and Josefine approached the counter, ”I get to see you twice today? And you brought your friend, ” he turned to Emil, ”Your name was Emilius, yes? ”
”Emil is fine, ” Emil said, a little on edge now that he knew Dubicki remembered him from his last visit.
”Go ahead and choose a table, Ill send Maggie over with menus. ”
”Thank you, ” Josefine said before taking off her has as they made their way to her usual table in the corner.
”I didn think hed remember me, ” Emil said as they pulled out their chairs, hanging his overcoat and scarf over the back of his. His sleeves were rolled up beneath the coat and almost in a mirror of Josefine, pale scars patterned his skin like lightning burns up from his palms. Josefine could feel the static of dormant magic even across the table.
”Hes good with names, ” she paused, ”Are you going to be alright? ” Emil started to ask with what so she raised her fingers and brushed along the edge of the worst of the static.
”Don do that again and Ill be fine. ” Josefine flashed an innocent smile and sat back, folding her hands together.
”Oh, Doc, ” Bates sounded cheery as she approached the table with menus, ”Did you come for lunch? Whos your friend? ” Josefines smile vanished without a trace as she straightened up in her chair.
”Maggie, this is Solomon, hes helping me with your problem. ” Bates beamed at the words.
”Really? Thank you so much Mr. Solomon. ” Emil for his part looked a little overwhelmed by her energy.
”N—No, its alright. ” He shrank a little in his chair and tucked his hands under the table as if to hide.
”Ill give you two a couple of minutes to look over the menu but while I have you, my shift ends in an hour, would you mind giving me a lift home, Doc? ” Josefine was focused on the menu in her hands and barely looked up at Batess question.
”We walked, ” she spoke distantly, ”but yes, I planned to walk home with you. ” Bates looked mildly disappointed for a brief moment—it was a long walk from Zaftigs Deli to Josefines apartment, especially in the rain—but she recovered quickly.
”Ill be back in a few minutes, ” and Bates took off back to work, leaving them to their menus.