Charlie loved coffee. The smell of the beans, the smell of it as it brewed, the creamers, and the first sip that was always too hot. His coffee maker was on an automatic timer, always ready as soon as he woke up, needing at least two cups before he could even think about starting his day.
So he’d always take his first cup back to bed with him and sit there as he enjoyed it, half naked, trying to pull his blankets back up without actually getting off of them and trying to procrastinate getting dressed as long as possible. By the time he got up for his second up, his new pet fox, Vulpa, was usually up and intertwining itself between his legs, trying to trip him in an attempt to be noticed for breakfast. And the only reason he fed it in the mornings was to keep its nose out of his coffee mug.
At one point, he had thought it would be nice to have a bird in the small room. Something to sing and make noise to liven up the empty and silent place. But him and Vulpa had quickly realized that birds don’t just sing in the morning, they chirp and screech through all hours of the night and when he woke up one morning to a silent room again, bloody feathers scattered across the floor and a satisfied looking fox curled up on a tipped over birdcage, he wasn’t that upset about it.
Vulpa never came downstairs, and he wasn’t sure if it was because it was scared of strangers or it just couldn’t figure out how to get down the spiral staircase, but he wasn’t complaining. He opened the store with his third cup of coffee and sat behind the counter, flipping through one of the old books he had taken off the shelf.
It seemed like an ordinary, simple and boring life that he had sentenced himself to. A regular job that lacked excitement and a pet that was sometimes smarter than the owner. He hadn’t thought about Jay or bothered Fate in ages and the only human interaction he had was from elderly people looking at trickets of their past or the rich artsy type that thought having something old would make their home seem classy.
He couldn’t admit to himself why he had been avoiding Fate. When he had checked on her in bed, he had seen her brunette hair. That day of the fire in the building, he had only been positive it hadn’t been her because of the different hair color, but now he couldn’t be sure. It couldn’t have been her, not his best friend, his only friend. And if it had been, she couldn’t have known he had been in there, right? He wasn’t sure if he could handle another one of his friends turning on him, trying to kill him, especially not one that had saved his life before.
So he had found excuse after excuse to stay away from her, letting his new job consume his life instead, silently hoping that everything was ok even if his mind would never admit that anything was wrong*