In general, explosions are to be avoided.

Explosions near you are to be avoided at all cost. It was with this mentality that I rolled to the left and subsequently collided with a boulder. The boulder provided excellent cover from my master's Hex. The rock crumbled under the force of whatever he'd thrown at me. I peeked out from the rubble, waving cheerily.

"You almost hit me that time!"

Poor boy. His face turned a lovely shade of purple.[1] I almost wanted to snap a photo, see if I could recreate that hue with a palette. He rubbed the top of his head with grungy fingers, running them through his short hair and mussing it even more.

It seemed like something of a habit for him. A nervous motion. I pondered whether he'd had longer hair recently, and threading it between his fingers had been more satisfying. In any case, he was certainly nervous. I didn't blame him. Things got hairy if a djinni discovered its master's true name.

This boy was named Alexander.[2]

In truth, he probably considered himself less of a boy and more of a man. Probably in his late teens, he had the look of someone used to being respected. Short, ashen brown hair. It looked almost grayish, despite his youth. I pitied him.[3] Steely silver eyes and a firmly grimacing mouth completed the image of a sullen princeling.

"Bartimaeus," he intoned. Probably trying to impress me with his deep, manly voice.

"Alexander," I replied. My sickly sweet falsetto was almost too much for even myself to bear.

He winced, returning to his normal tone. "Come out from behind there. We've got things to talk about. And I don't mean punishments. I mean compromise."

"Ha! Compromise? You're the magician here. Why not dispose of this unworthy demon with the Shriveling Fire? You don't need to compromise with me.[4] Isn't that what your breed thinks?"

"You almost sound like you'd prefer death."

"You almost sound like you'd prefer compromise."

"Of course I do."

"I don't believe it."


I couldn't be sure, because I was still behind the boulder, but I guessed his face was tending toward the purplish cast again. "Yes?"

He was not going to remove me from behind this boulder. I pledged it to myself. This demon was staying right here.

"I'll use some favors. Remove your name from a few lists."

Ha! He expected that to sway me? I didn't dignify his lie with a response, switching into Ptolemy's form and twiddling my thumbs instead.

"Come out from there." He commanded. I could hear his frustration.

"Say please."


"You heard me," I could hardly contain my glee; I was almost giggling. And spirits don't giggle.[6]

"Please come out from behind that boulder, Bartimaeus. I'd like to speak face to face."

"No thanks." I replied.

I'd had the foresight to switch into a smaller form. He hit the boulder with another Hex. Of the exact nature, I wasn't sure. What little was left of it vaporized from a second hit. An elegant desert cat licked its paw and fixed Alexander with a glare.

"Now that wasn't very nice."

"I'll show you nice." The boy growled.

1. Sort of a red-violet. Really, I wish I'd had some form of documentation of it. Quite impressive.

2. I'd stumbled across it by accident, really. (That's a lie. I was looking for it.) I'd been charged to unearth the truth of his past- who his parents were, where they lived, etc etc. Well, it's a good story to tell. It involves an orphanage, a dress (orange), a pair of glasses, a city bus, and a mansion in Northampton. I'll have to explain it at another time.

3. In later years, it became a good thing for me to needle him about. But now I'm getting ahead of myself.

4. How true. Though the Shriveling Fire was complex, I thought Alex had it in him. And it was certainly less worry than dealing with a rogue djinni that knew a little too much.

5. He sounded truly shocked by this idea. Asking a demon nicely? What nonsense!

6. Much.

Disclaimer: Bartimaeus isn't mine. Never was, never will be. Alexander is.

A/N: First BT fanfiction. Does Bartimaeus seem in character? Let me know if I did well/what I can change. Thanks.