"Happy?" I asked. He rolled the ball around in his hand, face alight like a child, then leaned forward again.
"Tell me more about creating and uncreating."
The better part of the day was spent talking my throat hoarse, explaining things best as I could, trying to answer Sherlock's many questions. When he began trying to delve into the science of things, I held up my hands to stop him.
He refused to believe that hundreds of djinn scientists had studied themselves and their kind, doing all sorts of experiments and tests, trying to find out where the power comes from and how it works. We understood that we could control the bonds between things, but there seemed to be limits- we couldn't rearrange the bonds to change one thing into another.
For example, I couldn't use my power to change something's color. I could create something like it, but with the color I wanted, but changing already created things was beyond my abilities.
I couldn't move things with my power, except for myself. Well, theoretically, I could- by uncreating it and then recreating it in a different place, but it would take a ridiculous amount of energy, especially since I could just pick it up and move it with my hands with almost no effort.
I couldn't read minds, I couldn't create or uncreate living things, but I could skip other living things, but it took an extreme amount of effort.
He asked me why I could skip other living things if skipping was creating and uncreating in quick succession. I answered with difficulty. The reason that djinn couldn't uncreate living things was the force of will, which belonged most to humans, but also to other mortal creatures, excluding felines.
But we could skip them because we weren't really overwhelming the force of will, which was impossible. We were simply suspending it for a moment, just long enough to force the dissolved molecules into motion, then allowing will to reassert itself. Also, because of the way willpower was manifested, it could only be done if the living creature wasn't working its will against our djinn power- that is to say, if the human was 'willing' to let the djinn skip it.
Sherlock was interested in the mention of felines as well. I explained that each domain of being had their creatures, just as humans had their creatures. Many djinn scientists theorized that there were once many other djinn-creatures in addition to felines, but had gone extinct. Much like djinnkind population had dwindled, the djinn-creatures lost much of their population as well. Angels might have their creatures too, but if they did, they would be ethereal like themselves.
"Have you ever looked in the eyes of a housecat or a tiger and thought there was something alien and peculiar about it?" I asked him. He nodded knowingly, understanding. "They don't have much control over the power, but they have enough to skip very short distances, and do very small alterations to the world around them. They reincarnate like djinn as well. Some scientist believe that they even keep their memories of past lives, unlike us, who forget all but vague sensations and scattered knowledge."
"How have the djinn been reduced in number, if they reincarnate?" he asked.
"It's like the edge of a knife, if you could excuse the overused expression," I said apologetically, but not sure how else to explain. "Humans on one side. Angels on the other. And djinn are the fine line between, not one and not the other. It's speculated that falling to one side or the other is easy. Between reincarnations, they somehow fall off the edge and become one or another. That's the theory, at least- again, nobody is really certain."
"Is it genetic?"
"It's more commonly genetic, but there are rare occasions when a djinn couple has a human child, or even rarer, a human couple has a djinn child. Usually a djinn child to a human couple ends disastrously." Exorcisms, witch scares, and conspiracy theories cropped up around such children.
It was less often now, though. There were secret sects of djinn who usually stepped in and took the child, and occasionally, mischievous djinn or djinn teen pregnancies (it didn't just happen to humans) would do the opposite, switching a djinn child into a human family. The term 'changeling' came from this practice.
Eventually I stopped him, pleading fatigue and a lunch date.
"Will you take a taxi?" he asked. "Or will you skip?" I snorted, then realized he was serious. Having a human friend who knew of the djinn world was going to get tiring quickly. Not that Sherlock wasn't tiring enough without my big secret as fodder.
"No, I'll take a cab. Skipping is tiring, and it can be alarming if you appear in front of someone."
"What if you reassemble your molecules halfway through a wall or something, or try to reassemble where someone is standing?" he asked.
I grabbed my keys and wallet and left, ignoring him. I could all but feel the pompous, yet somehow endearing smirk aimed at the back of my head.
When I returned home earlier than I'd have wanted, Sherlock was nowhere to be found. I found myself fretting for a moment- his disappearances were common, but I wondered if the new knowledge he'd gleaned had anything to do with it. What if he'd gone djinn-hunting or something awful and very Sherlock-esque?
Where are you? JW I texted to him.
At the lab. SH
Keeping out of trouble? JW
Quell your paranoia. Of course. I'll be back to the flat in an hour or so. SH
I studied his response for a moment, trying to detect any of his beloved sarcasm in it, but eventually decided he was genuine. I was preparing for an early night to bed when the phone rang. Finishing brushing my teeth quickly and cursing bad timing that so often struck, I hastened to answer.
"John speaking," I said.
"John! This is Lestrade. Is Sherlock there?"
"No, he's gone off to the lab. He should be back soon, though."
"Oh, well, if so, then when he gets back can you ask him to call? Not if it's after ten, though, because I'll be in bed. We analyzed the pill we found with the cabbie, like he requested. It's just a placebo, no hints on where it came from, so there's no point in trying to track where the cabbie got it. Looks like a dead end- sorry."
"That's okay," I said with a shrug. Something nagged at the back of my mind. Lestrade laughed.
"You haven't been around Sherlock when he's been without a case. Just you wait, and then say if it's okay or not."
"Sounds bad," I laughed in return. "Good think I've already been through war once."
"And you'll go through another when he gets bored. Don't keep any loaded weapons in the flat." I wasn't sure if he was joking or not- it was hard to tell when it was about Sherlock.
I suddenly realized what had been bothering me. "Did you recover the other pill? The poison one? You could track that, couldn't you?"
"No, we didn't, which is a shame. Not much of a loss, though, because we've already got samples of the kind of poison from the deaths. No point in tracking that either, because it's a very common kind he could've gotten anywhere. But the pill wasn't found."
I felt cold.
"Oh, of course. I hadn't thought of the poison in the others. I'll tell Sherlock you called." I muttered a quick good-bye and hung up.
I reviewed the scene from the night again in my head. It was hard to remember- I had been able to see their raised hands, but the details were blurry. The whole thing had occurred so fast, I'd barely had time to process it. I tried my hardest to envision it again, wishing I had a perfect memory like my flatmate.
Had Sherlock eaten the poison pill?