Verrix answered the door reluctantly. He didn’t want to talk to or to see anyone he didn’t have to, or have them see and talk to him, and now he was out of the military he could refuse more often. Except that knock was Caprock’s and his old school friend was amazingly persistent for someone who hadn’t, allegedly, persisted with anything in his adult life.
“Hey, mate,” Caprock gave him a big, dumb, friendly smile through the unopened flyscreen door, “put some going-out clothes on. We gotta get you out of here before your arteries start hardening from immobility or something.”
Verrix sighed. “Where are we going to go?” He unlocked the door and let Caprock in.
“To start looking out a new familiar for you,” his friend said bluntly before forestalling Verrix’ objections with, “I remember enough of those magic classes I dropped out of to know that, aside from anything else, a mage’s familiar is important for energy regulation. Yes, you’re only just out of hospital and yes, you’re still grieving, but I don’t want you blowing up or spontaneously combusting. If you don’t care about yourself, think about your neighbours.”
Verrix wanted to refuse but Caprock was right, those things could happen if he didn’t replace poor dead Halloch soon. “So where’re we going?”
Caprock grinned. “I thought we’d dip your toes in the water with no pressure to make a pick today. There’s a dragon lizard show at the Arena, all pedigrees and fancy types, so you can see what might appeal since you’ve got Veterans’ Affairs’ deep pockets to call on. And if you can’t stand the idea of another lizard, there’s a cat show at the Town Hall.”
“Cats!” Verrix didn’t quite spit.
“And if neither lizards nor cats will do, then we can cruise past the animal shelter over by Baroda Avenue and check out the unusual.” Caprock smiled that dumb smile again and added, “Just so you can say you’ve started looking.”