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Morning in the city. Streetlights are awake all night and go to bed slowly, reluctantly, as the sun rises, and the sky can be deepening blue with clouds shining yellow and orange in the dawn, you can see where you're going in the greyness, and still, the street lights will be awake, still fighting for that last bit of time before they must sleep.

Mornings in the city, the light hits your wall sharp and bright, and the shadows on the other side are dark, and cold, holding to them the memory of the night. It's always coldest at dawn and the shadows let it go as slowly as the streetlights fade.

Cars and trucks have been out all the night, of course, even at the peak sleep hours of 2 and 3 AM. There's always one car, somewhere in the city, that has been out all night long. Nor has the noise of machinery ever stopped. If the noise were ever to stop, people would stop making things, and if they stopped making things they would stop making money, and the very towers would crumble. Can't have that. One must always have coins to jingle and glitter and toss into the fountain lit by the first rays of sunlight, another wish today that the great mechanical limbs and spinning machines not catch one's own limbs and break them. It's morning, and it's another day to make another dollar.

it's morning, and the bakeries and the liquor stores are lifting their metal grilles, and the food trucks are starting their stoves and the smell of cheap fried burrito is wafting down the street. Eager young professionals are going click-clack in their fancy shoes as they quick-march to their offices. You think them crazy, but then, you're out on the street too. You're having fun, they're desperate to arrive at the office before the boss does. Got to look eager to get that promotion.

The street lamps and the night watchmen yawn and sign off, and go to their sleep.

Students in their dorms rise and wonder if they forgot to complete any assignments last night.

And the wind shifts, and blows in cold from the water.

And as the sun rises, everyone remembers that there is a such thing as time. There is no time beneath the lights of the city of night, there is no moon, there are no stars to mark such a passage. In the city, night is all one time. Morning is when time starts again.

Between here and Heaven is the city of a bright morning.


I'd been reading a page in Jo's textbook in the cloud-obscured morning light. The page lit up as the clouds swept on by, revealing the sun. You know what it's like to try to read a sheet of white paper in direct sunlight? The damn thing practically reflects the light into your eyes. I shut the book with a heavy thump, and placed it on Jo's desk, also with a heavy thump.

A voice spoke from within the makeshift hangings of the bed. "Yawn, stretch," it said, "I daresay I heard someone reading my textbook. Since when do you enjoy waking up early?"

"Since never," I said. "I just stayed up all night finishing the yarn." I jerked my thumb toward 6 fat spools of yarn sitting on my desk. "And then I thought, I wonder what my dear Jo was so worried about comprehending last night? So I read where I thought you'd left off. Fourth layer, eh? A cacophony of music that you have to sort out. Maybe that layer is one where spells are based on what you sing."

"That's...is that it? The author was going on about hermeneutics and the epistemology of sound and the mathematics of melody. I couldn't figure out what point he was making. So you DID grasp the concept before me. Now I am jealous. I am hurt. I am pouting. I am...worried that you're going to fall asleep during today's class."

"Nonsense," I said, "I'm alert as ever. Look at me, I am doing morning calisthenics. Join me." I rose and engaged in some exaggerated stretches. "One two! Feel the burn!"

There was a rustle from the bed, and the cloak bulged outward, and fell upon the shag carpet. It sat there, covering a mysterious mass, and then the mass rose, slowly. A figure, hooded in a great red cloak, stood before me. A tall figure. The kind you'd expect to start chanting "Mea culpa mega culpa" while you go on and on about how you love a forbidden dark beauty. From within the cloak, two hands appeared, and flipped back the hood. And there before me stood Jo.

"You have always been slightly taller than me," I said, rising from my stretch, "but it appears you are hitting a growth spurt. Of two inches per week. At age seventeen. Do you need to get your pituitary gland checked?"

"I told you I was worried about exploding." Jo strode to the window and looked out. She clenched her fist. "I have all this power...and all this responsibility. Am I up to the task? Do I dare disturb the universe? What am I?" She chuckled. "Think of all the drama I could make of this, instead of trying to mitigate any potential problems. I could become...angsty. Brooding. I could stand in the rain and curse God." She glanced at my left hand. "Curse you! You found a ring before me."

"That I did. That settles it, then. Let's get married."

"Oh, no," said Jo, shaking her head. "I still have to find a ring. The hunt isn't over yet. I have to find a ring and then we have to exchange them. That's how it works, right? That's how people get married. They go on a long scavenger hunt."

"Exchange, eh? We should see if this thing fits your finger then."

As I prepared to slip the ring off, I looked closely at it.

It didn't look evil. It wasn't whispering or anything.

I slipped the ring off.


The next thing I knew, I was flat on the carpet, with the ring back on my finger.

"So that's what the ring does," said Jo, removing her Wizard Glasses. "It keeps you up all night, among other enchantments, though i couldn't figure those ones out. Do you know, there are probably students around here who would kill for such a ring."

"So they can party all night?"

"So they can study all night. This is the Wizard Academy, Pat. We study. Well. Most of us do. You get tutored."

"You know, if you're going to keep going on about that, you should remember that you're the one who signed me up for this place. I didn't exactly ask." I sat up, no more tired than I had been before I took the ring off. "I might have been just as well off if I'd...just...come to the city with my family and...flipped burgers. I don't know."

"And lived a life of crushing poverty? And had no place to practice your skills? And kept running from the police, only this time they had all the magic and you had mere brute strength? No, Pat. This is where you are safe. This is where you have a future. This is where you...where I have you. How could I just let you go, into a dangerous world all on your own? This is where you have me. How could I, in good conscience, not have invited you to join my world? You're already a part of my world. How could I let you fall out of it?"

"You could have declined to come to Wizard school, and joined me among the plebians. Among the poor. But you dragged me into this place. Accidentally."

"I...yeah." Jo flipped her hood over her head and rose, turning back tot he window. "That's precisely what I did."

I rose, and joined her at the window. "Why justify it, though?" I said. "If it really was an accident, if you didn't know..."

"It...needs justification. Pat, it wasn't an accident. I read that contract carefully. I knew exactly what I was getting you into."


"As I said -- I would have felt irresponsible if I hadn't offered you the chance to live here. If you had learned that I'd had the chance to hand you a Golden Ticket out of poverty, and that I'd let it go, what would you have thought of me? What would I have thought of myself? " She turned to me. "One of the greatest sins is splitting the congregation. How could I have split you and me? At the end of a long life of brave deeds, as I stood before the Lord of Song, he would sweep aside my shining trophies and ask me why I left you to die. And I would have no answer."

"As I  said, you could have joined me in poverty. Flipped burgers with me, or washed sheets at hotels. You could have...descended, from your class, into mine. Instead you have given me the chance to rise into yours. The magical upper class." I giggled. "Like I'm a hick from the sticks. 'Good news, Ma, I'm gonna be the first one in my family to go to Wizard College!' Good God. We're replicating American class structures even while we have magic at our fingertips. What use is making bread out of thin air if we don't feed the hungry? What use is a fireball if we don't throw it at a racist billionaire? What good is our power if we don't seize the means of production?"

"The Wizard police would get mad."


"So would the director."


"And yet...we supply the police with Wizards, no? Remember what Hurley said in the first morning lecture? This place has an understanding with them. The director resolutely does not want any of us to get any wacky revolutionary ideas."

"Too late. Much too late. Mister Mazigh is currently working with a bunch of beings from outside the universe. We two have already changed the world."

Jo frowned. "Did we? Or did we just save the status quo as best we could? Are we revolutionaries, Pat? Or are we mere superheroes?"

"What do you want to be?"

"I..." Jo looked out the window. "I want everyone to live in peace and freedom."

"I want everyone to live in freedom and peace."

"The difference is which one we try to achieve first, I suppose. Ah, but either way, we have to get around the Wizard Police first. And the Director. And we have to topple everything and not listen to them when they say they were doing just fine. Because we, in our mighty magnificence, know what is best for the people we have never met. Long live the revolution! Where's my military band? I need to hear the Marsellaise right now!" Jo stood up tall and proud in the morning light.

"What a revolution", I said, slouching. "They freed their own country, but Haiti? Never."

"There is that as well," said Jo. "That as well. But we don't have slaves these days, right? That's all taken care of."

I turned to Jo. "I cannot tell right now whether or not you're being sarcastic."

"That...was sincere."

"Well. Let's just say slavery doesn't look quite like what it used to, and leave that discussion for another time. Another time. It is almost time for the morning exercises. We have spent too much time plotting revolutionary terrorism. And I'm supposed to be working for the President! I can't be a revolutionary yet!"

I strode to my wardrobe as Jo ran to hers.

"I'm sorry," said Jo as we donned our track suits. "I really am. I guess I forgot what i said, that I'd follow you wherever you went. I made the choice of where you would go, instead of letting you direct your own life."

"It's not like I was there to speak for myself," I said as I tied my shoes. "And we've been over this, Jo. I did the same thing to you, when I spoke to the Heart of New York. I spoke for you when you weren't there. We're even. Knowing that you knew what you were doing...changes some things. But, hey, we're seventeen. We're supposed to be responsible adults now. Would you rather have been naive and signed a contract you couldn't read, and been a hapless victim? Or would you rather be willing to face the consequences of your mistakes and own them?"

Jo had her hand on the door handle, but she paused, and said, "What are the consequences of my mistakes?"

"What do you think they are?"

"That you're angry, and that you will run away again. That you will sleep in your own bed for a month, or in Aurore's room, or you will stay out all day like before. But you aren't angry, are you? So why am I worried? After all we've said? Why am I still scared that you will hate me for the mistakes I've made? Perhaps I value your opinion highly. Perhaps you are my weakness. I don't know. What consequences do you see?"

I strode over to Jo and kissed her on the cheek. "I see that we remain together."

"For how long?"

"For as long as we both love. Do not fear my anger, Jo. Trust me when I say I love you. Trust me when I say that will never change. We will get angry at each other, surely. But if we break apart, by some circumstance -- if we decide it will be better to part ways, let it be an act of of love as well. Let it be because we think it is best for each other. And though the miles will be between us, and though we lie in the arms of other people, I will still love you."

Jo held me close, and looked into my eyes, her forehead resting upon mine. "I can't imagine being in anyone's arms besides yours. I cannot imagine ever leaving you. Not even at the end. I wish to die by your side, whether of age or of battle." She let me go. "But even if we do separate, somehow, I imagine we will die at the same time anyway -- on the same day, each of us asking about the other. 'Then Pat still lives? Good. Urk.' But seriously -- I'd like to be sure that we stand before the Lord of Song together. Not that I'm suggesting a suicide pact or anything. Unless it's to save the world."

"I'll be sure to consult you before I jump into the Hell Mouth. Shall we get going?"

"Let's shall." Jo let me go and opened the door.

We jogged down the corridor loudly. Whoever was still in their dorms at this hour either needed waking or a reminder. Aurore was always last to the field, judging form the last few days.

Aurore. The girl who could teleport without a sweat.

I resolved to question her at the first opportunity.

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