Bartimaeus was certainly not your stereotypical librarian. With short, stylish, strawberry-blond hair with a touch of black near the bottom layers, striking orange eyes and a thin goatee accompanied by a thinner mustache, the only thing that made him resemble such a person was his round glasses that never seemed to leave his face.

Blinking and staring at his computer screen, the young man was playing his umpteenth game of Solitaire while "waiting" for someone to walk in and ask him where to find a certain book. For now, the few people that even waltzed in here, either found what they were looking for or had talked to him and got no response. Bartimaeus couldn't help it if he blocked out words as he concentrated. He was trying to beat his last record! Who could blame him?

That and the little voice in his head whom so loved to make a conversation with him was beginning to become impatient from the lack of communication while playing with the cards. The librarian paid no mind to the headache that was now so eagerly forming behind his temples. He just kept on playing, sighing when he finished and the computer cards began falling from the stacks once he won. Bartimaeus was anything but satisfied.

Not that the world of one Rahleigh Schindler was much more interesting, considering that she was constantly having to watch out for herself - a pretty tough feat to accomplish, considering her being visually impaired. She had dressed to blend in today, as she had every day of her life for the past four years. Unfortunately, it was very hard to go unnoticed when walking down the street with two white dogs and a long white cane, especially when one is adorned in black.

Her prayer to get off of the streets safely and without debate, however, was answered quickly when she finally arrived at the doorstep of the library, quickly ducking inside as both dogs ushered her in. It was cooler in here than it was outside, thankfully, considering the sun had been beating down on her the entire trip (and the wearing of black didn't help).

Once she had shaken off the shocking sense of heat from the outer world, she walked quietly over to where Bartimaeus sat. The tags on the dogs' collars jingled merrily as they trotted along at her sides, avoiding the swing of the cane as it continued in its pendulum motions across the floor until it tapped against the floor surface of the desk. She cleared her throat quietly and attempted to speak.

"Excuse me..."

Bartimaeus did not bother taking his eyes off of his computer screen and made a discreet "Mmhm" as an automatic response he used whenever he heard something while starting a new game. He obviously wasn't even aware of her presence and even if he was, he still wouldn't acknowledge her unless she had said something no one could possibly ignore.

So while he clicked away at the cards, his eyes drifted away only for a second to glance at her and paid no mind as he took a sip from his Redbull that sat next to him on his desk. Bartimaeus was hardly one to drink so much caffeine, but he hadn't slept in the last few days.

Why? The voice that was once just an occasional intruder who whispered in his mind every so often had decided to chat with him on a regular basis, no matter what the time of the day it was...or night, in his case. Sleep was near impossible. At least now for the time being his card playing lowered the voice's volume to near silence.

Being blind and being dumb are two different things, and while the former was true for Rahleigh, the latter most certainly wasn't. There was an edge suddenly on her when she found he wasn't paying attention, and quite frankly, it was starting to get on her nerves. She wanted to get his attention, but she really didn't know how to without disrupting this rather empty-sounding library.

BLAM!

She whacked the overlarge Braille book that she had checked out the afternoon before on top of the desk - the impact was magnificent.

Bartimaeus' concentration was obliterated when the sound of the book being purposefully slammed onto his desk shocked him into the real world. He looked up immediately. His round spectacles had slanted from his face and he fixed them while gawking at the woman. "Umm, can I help you?"

Judging by the look of things and the obvious sight of two dogs on each side of her, he made the deduction she was blind. The Braille book that had been loudly placed in front of him also gave that fact away.

"Yes," replied a half-exasperated Rahleigh, although her voice was no indicator. "I'm returning this book and getting another one. Which way were the Braille books again?"

Rahleigh, though frustrated, was rather lost. She had only been to this library once or twice; once being a few months prior and twice being the day before today, making this the third time she had encountered him. Needless to say that she was not so approving of his work ethic.

Bartimaeus sighed deeply when he suddenly started feeling the headache he had been neglecting to realize was there. He rubbed his temples. "It's on your left and third shelf on the right," he muttered, warily watching the dogs, "They...are...er...well trained, right?" he asked about them. "And why do you have two, may I ask?"

His temples were pounding and he didn't know why he even asked. He just wanted her to go on her way. The librarian wanted complete silence and some Advil to go along with it. With another gulp of his Redbull, he turned back to his computer, not expecting an answer. At the sound of the directions, Rahleigh began to wander off toward the shelves with both dogs in tow. It irked her that he would ask her such a question when it was obvious she needed them in order to get around. She could feel every vein in her face dying to throb violently.

"I wouldn't bring them in here if they weren't," she replied curtly after her short moment of thought,. "The first one is seeing-eye, and the second one is my guard."

Bartimaeus lifted a dark eyebrow at her reply and shook his head, not bothering to respond. He was not a very social person and he tended to stay that way. Another drink of his Redbull and a swallow of two gel pills of Advil, Bartimaeus went back to his card game he had been distracted from.

He did, however, make a few glances towards Rahleigh whenever he had gotten a straight collection of cards during his game of Solitaire. He did this mainly because he was wary of the dogs taking a dump on the library carpet.

Neither dog did, however, as they were far more intelligent than the librarian apparently thought they were. Having a sixth sense about them that dogs have, though, they sensed this and seemed to bristle whenever they caught him looking in their master's direction. Artemis even dared to let out a growl, being the hostile one.

Rahleigh noticed but said nothing, letting her fingers trail along the spines of the books as she searched quietly for the next title to embark on in the following afternoon. At last, she climbed down with the monstrous tome in her hands, and began to walk back to the desk, cane extended.

Bartimaeus blinked a few times without pausing as she came back to the desk, "Did you find what you wanted?" he asked, trying to sound polite, but his common droning didn't really help matters or his reputation to the young woman.

He cleared his throat trying to act as if he was getting a cold and blaming his tone on that. Anyone who had been here longer would know Bartimaeus' voice was anything but nice. Not that his voice was unpleasant, but his tone seemed to insinuate "I really don't care, so go talk to someone else."

That wasn't always the case, though. The man was just not well practiced on casual conversation, sadly. Well, when it came to the voice in his head--but that was another story.

Unfortunately, being blind, Rahleigh went continuously unable to make these kinds of deductions without the ability to read facial expressions like most. Thus she continued to take his tone as an inflection due to being rude, and she thought even less of him than she had from walking in the door earlier. It was extremely obvious that for an anti-social, fault-overlooking person, she was running out of patience with him. She resisted the urge to sigh.

"I did," came her stiff reply as she put the bulky tome down on the desk to be scanned and cataloged. It appeared to be the second Lord of the Rings book, as opposed to the first one, which she had borrowed the day before. "For a blind girl," Bartimaeus thought to himself, "she is very fast in her reading."

Bartimaeus sighed at her reaction, having expected because of the way he had spoken. "Sorry if that sounded off. I'm having a terrible day," he said in a softer tone as he stamped the card as he told her the date to return it. "You can bring that back on the third of next month."

His gaze wasn't directly on her as he said it, perhaps feeling a little ashamed about his behavior. It was hard to tell.

"It's fine," Rahl replied with a tone that spoke naught of disbelief, but utter numbness in soul. Her fingers gripped the book as she carefully tucked it away into her courier bag. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't used to it."

And it was true. In her life, she had met her share of unpleasant people, few of whom weren't intentional. In fact, it would be a greater lie to say that Bartimaeus was the worst of the ones she had met. There are crueler people out there than the non-intentional, particularly the ones who carried a certain uncalled-for prejudice toward the visually-impaired.

Bartimaeus nodded, but realized once again that she couldn't see that movement.

"Yeah...er...is there any other particular book you are trying to find?" he asked, trying to be a little more helpful. Bad impressions weren't exactly what he needed in this job. He already had less and less visitors as weeks passed by. Well, at least it wasn't as bad as his other profession, if one could call it that.

Being an actual warlock playing a magician wasn't exactly as easy as it looked. Not for Bartimaeus, anyway. He wasn't as talented as his "father" hoped for him to be.

Rahleigh was quick to shake her head in response, closing up the bag and re-gripping her cane. "No, this is all I need for now. I'll have this book promptly returned by tomorrow." Despite being blind, her light perception wasn't gone, so immediately turning to the source of light, she found the door and headed toward it.

A thought crossed her mind as she headed toward the door, however, having to put her long, white guide in the crook of her arm as she attempted to push it open. What if she finished the book early and wanted the other part? No, she doubted that. After all, Lord of the Rings took many people weeks to get through. It was only through the grace of her idle time that she finished fast. In fact, it made her wonder just how quickly she could read in the deficit of blindness. She could only imagine that her fingers would still be faster.

Bartimaeus watched her as she made her way out of his library and yawned, feeling the effects of his Redbull fading fast. He really needed some sleep. It wouldn't be long until his next performance was needed for the city's carnival. He winced at the thought. Bartimaeus was not too keen on it. Especially after last year's incident.

How was he supposed to know that trying to use a disappearance type spell could turn a rabbit inside out? Common mistake, really. Or maybe not. It didn't matter. Bartimaeus would know the right tricks to use this time around.

--

The pull of city life seemed to have its adverse effects on Rahleigh as she went back out onto the sidewalk, the blind girl having to squint from the radiating brightness of the sun as it bore down on her. Today had not been a good day to wear black, and unfortunately, it was far too late to take back her decision in the choice of vestments that she had made. Oh well. She'd have to take it in stride, but she'd deal with it accordingly.

"Come on, guys, let's go," she said in an almost-bored tone as she directed her steps down the street, trying to get her cane in position as she did so. She knew that there were several places in this sidewalk that were decrepit, chipping, and had turned into deep, twist-your-ankle kinds of hole all throughout the path. For this reason, she had to be cautious. Her caution had become extremely evident, too, when she had taken to walking slowly and making slightly-wider swings with her cane.

Her approach to safety didn't last for long, though; the end of her cane caught in a small fissure in the concrete, causing it to bend and flick out of her hand into the street, and suddenly disoriented from trying to turn toward the direction of the noise. Rahleigh found herself on her hands and knees, still outside of the library, now searching the sidewalk for her fiberglass guide. There was a panicked expression on her face as she scanned over the surface with her fingers, Shakespeare now standing directly beside her, free from restraint as she was now using both hands to locate.

"Oh God, please...not today...not here..."

She crawled forward, suddenly sending herself tumbling off of the sidewalk and into the street by several feet, finally laying hand on her cane and being frozen by the sound of a blaring horn and squealing tires. Her eyes were wide, and even the barking of the dogs couldn't snap her out of the automobile-induced trance. Was this it for her?

--

Bartimaeus had kept his eyes on her for the longest time after she left his library. He began to wonder exactly why he felt so strange when she was near by. It wasn't that cheesy "I think I'm falling in love" type of feeling. It was more along the lines of "I'm not normal and neither are you", which caused him to feel paranoid. Bartimaeus had tried to keep his distance from other mystics for years.

Maybe he was just jumping to conclusions. Perhaps the only thing different about her was that she was blind? She certainly wasn't a witch. His thoughts were broken when a familiar, taunting voice made its presence known very, very loudly.

"HEY! DO YOU NOT SEE WHAT IS GOING ON OUTSIDE?"

Bartimaeus flinched and nearly fell out of his seat, ears ringing to no end and the headache now pulsing erratically. "What are you-" he stopped short as his bright, amber eyes widened in shock as he spotted Rahleigh stumbling onto the road. Did no one else see this? Why wasn't anyone going to help?

"Time to play hero, buddy," the voice taunted, as if whispering it in his ear. He always assumed the voice was just a part of him. Lately, though, it seemed it was only a disembodied voice with a mind of its own. It was quite disturbing, really; and with the occasional "possession", it brought him to believe the voice was some kind of demon. Yet, he never studied demonology and he'd rather not. What was important was the blind, young woman.

"Buggar..." he growled to himself, rushing out the door and quickly wrapping his arms around Rahleigh's waist and pulling her out of the road. He heard the blast of the vehicle's horn and the wind brushing past them. It was enough to cause his heart to skip a beat, if only for a moment. His breath caught in his throat and when he felt they were no longer in danger, he let go of her on the sidewalk and stepped away. "Are...you...okay?" he panted, trying to register what had happened and why he had even done that. It wasn't like he didn't want to save people, but it also wasn't something he'd have the gumption to do. "There is something about her…"

Rahleigh gasped, suddenly pulled away from her metal, gas-powered demise by what she later deemed the thread of all chances. She suddenly found herself panting as well, slowly sinking down on her knees and leaning up against a lamppost. She didn't know what had happened, either. Why didn't she immediately get back on the sidewalk like she knew she should.? Something just stopped her in her tracks. She hadn't even been able to budge or blink.

"I... I think so..." She was more disoriented than anything, and she now had a headache from the strain that was trying to work its way out of her system. In fact, Rahleigh just looked plainly unhealthy and unsettled, like someone with the flu who couldn't focus at all. "What happened...?" More than anything, it was hard for Rahleigh to talk over the dogs, which were swarmed around her, licking at her face and whining. They had been terrified for her.

"In all honesty," Bartimaeus began, "I haven't the slightest clue," he said while blinking, his eyes still wide.

"Not surprising," commented the voice. If the voice had a face, Bartimaeus could only imagine it rolling its eyes at him. The warlock clenched his teeth and almost growled quietly, but caught himself.

"You were almost hit by a car," Bartimaeus said while trying to keep his attention on Rahleigh and not the others' words. "I'm appalled no one else seemed to come to your aide. It was pure luck that I saw you at the right time."

A scoff from the voice. Bartimaeus had to roll his eyes this time. That only led to a stronger headache. He winced and closed his eyes tightly, pinching the brim of his nose.

Rahleigh just gave a single nod, resting a few fingers on one temple as she tried to get a hold of herself rather unsuccessfully. "I don't know what happened to me, I just...I blanked out...and...and...wait! My cane!"

It was a needless worry, however, as the white object lay snapped in the middle of the road, run over by whatever car had refused to stop. Rahleigh didn't know this, however, and thus was still in a panic to find it. Her dogs were also in a panic and were trying to keep her from going back into the road.

"Well, look who finally decided to take some action for once," flaunted the little voice in Bartimaeus' head. "Finally decided to stop sitting on the sidelines?"

"Shut up," Bartimaeus snapped back to the voice with his thoughts. He watched the pitiful sight Rahleigh was giving and his gaze fixed on the cane in the middle of the road. Broken. He should tell her this, right? Sighing deeply, Bartimaeus walked over to her, at least closer than he was originally.

He placed a hand on her shoulder and chewed the bottom of his lip for a second, as if contemplating how to tell her this. "I'm sorry, but...your cane...? It has been run over by a few passing cars." He grimaced at his casual way of saying it. He wasn't good at being sociable, let alone sympathetic.

Thud. The raven-haired woman's head came to a remotely rough landing against the lamp post, a very empty look in her eyes as she turned her face up toward the sky for a brief moment of thought. This was the absolute last thing she had needed today, and for as much as she wanted to, she couldn't even bring herself to break down. She'd have to rely even more on Artemis and Shakespeare to get her home tonight. How would she know not to step in a pothole or if some objects weren't avoidable? She might not get over far enough if Shakespeare didn't literally pull her. And Artemis? She was Shakespeare's companion and served as a guard. Both did, however, serve as her best friend, and if she had to trust them to get her home, she wouldn't hesitate.

"Broken..." she sighed, wrapping her fingers around the pole and pulling herself up, suddenly lifting her left foot a little off of the ground in finding that she had given it a harsh twist in stepping off of the slightly-steep walkway. Her depression seemed to take her mind off of the pain, though, if temporarily.

Bartimaeus watched her and began chewing his lower lip again. What was he going to do now? Walk back into his library and let her take care of herself? Part of him really wanted to do that. As for the voice in his head, it had something else in mind.

"Ask her if she needs you to walk her home."

"What? No! She has two dogs, I'm sure she'll be just fine."

"Ask. Her."

The voice's tone sounded almost venomous and Bartimaeus shivered. He quickly got himself together, "Do you...need some help getting home?"

All Rahleigh could think about right now was the fact that she was left without a guide to get her home, and without her cane hitting the usual places, she'd be utterly lost. Still, she felt she had clearly inconvenienced Bartimaeus by suddenly allowing herself to fall into the hands of the circumstance that now clutched her, and for that, she felt terribly guilty. It had been her own fault for not paying attention, not having a tighter grip on her cane, not being somewhere where she didn't have to inconvenience him at all.

"I'll...I'll be fine..." she finally told him, a lie as it was, but a very good one at that. She rubbed the side of her ankle tentatively, "I'll just...be going now." With as much trouble as she had caused him, ripping him away from his solitaire game, she didn't want to put him through anything else.

Rahleigh was trying to keep her guts about her, mentally trying to map her way back to her store as she went along. There was, after all, no way she was going to be able to make it back to the house tonight, and if this was the case of such, she would have to spend the night sleeping on a piano in the shop. It was for this reason that she often kept a blanket and pillow stowed away in a closet in the back.

"Whoops..." she told herself mentally as she walked. "Better not let my mind wander too far, or I'll forget where I have to go..." In truth, she was already quite lost.

Bartimaeus sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, still watching her. "Well, you heard her...she doesn't want the help," he told the voice, which he knew he would regret any moment. He was tired of being pushed to do things he didn't feel like doing. He wasn't lazy, just one who lacked the motivation to help those in need.

Emotionless void much? Perhaps. Insanity could sum him up too. Especially if one had to be told what to do by a little voice in one's head that they could actually hear.

"It didn't kill you to offer, did it? No, it did not," the voice retorted back. "You could certainly do to help a few more people." The voice seemed to oppose Bartimaeus' un-helping attitude and seemed to always try to train him out of it. Unfortunately, there was very little a simple voice could do just by talking alone - especially to this bull-headed warlock. It just let out a sigh. "Go back and play your solitaire while the rest of the world goes on without you…"

"Fine. Then I will," Bartimaeus shot back at the voice, giving one last glance at Rahleigh before heading back inside the library; swinging doors closing behind him. It's not like he would have helped her very well anyway. He might have made things worse. Still, the thought of a blind person without their cane? It did worry him.

He quickly tried to shut those thoughts of emotion out of him before the voice pestered him further. Bartimaeus took a seat at his desk and paused before clicking back to his game. "Wait...when did I ever start caring before?" he winced, "She can obviously take care of herself. Blast, this is annoying."

"You never care...that's why it's my job to care for you..." the voice hissed back, almost seething at him for one reason or another, "and not in the sense of taking care of you, either." If anything, the voice seemed very pissed at Bartimaeus for being a little heartless. "For your information, though, you could have offered again."

It was common knowledge that when someone turned down obviously-needed help, it was more evident of how badly it was needed. The voice had been striving to get him to actually take the needs of mankind into account, but seeing as that wasn't happening, the voice sometimes had to, well...force things along a bit, no matter how Bartimaeus resisted.

"Well, it's a little late for that!" Bartimaeus snapped out loud, sinking into his chair more when a few heads turned to look at him. He closed his eyes and cursed at himself under his breath, crossing his arms. It was in times like these he wished he could see the voice so he could glare at it. "So what else can I do to make you stop bitching at me?" Bartimaeus muttered in his thoughts, if it were possible.

The voice in his head emitted a loud, annoying hum, as though now trying to annoy the person in whose head it dwelt. Actually, it was making a lot of different noises, such as "la la la" and "I can't hear you". It stopped after about a minute or so, though, and made an irritating ticking sound that was reminiscent of a clock.

"Having fun yet, Barty?" it teased before resuming its noise-making regimen. It seemed to love stirring things up in the head of the warlock even more than they already were.

Bartimaeus groaned, holding his head, "Will you please stop it now? You already gave me a headache..." he complained as the Advil was not doing its job like it was supposed to. "What the bloody hell do you want me to do?" Bartimaeus demanded, gritting his teeth to the point that they starting to hurt.

If anyone else were to hear the mysterious voice in his head they would assume it was a "he." After all, the voice's "voice" sounded male, but with a completely different sound of that of Bartimaeus. So with that mentioned, it was hereby now labeled as a "he" until further notice.

What a unique situation, to be stuck with a voice that one had no control over whatsoever. At least, most people would have that thought had they known about it - and the thought would have vanished as quickly as it came as soon as the situation had put similar effects on them. Hopefully that wouldn't happen, considering ill-earned fame was the last thing anyone needed.

"Oh..." the voice mused with a tantalizing sense of slow. "Nothing...forget it. Not like you ever want to listen to me anyways." He went back to his being generally quiet with the occasional rude sound or fart.

Bartimaeus let out an exasperated sigh and resisted the urge to slam his head on his keyboard. Not that being unconscious was any better. The voice had even more of a chance to torture him in that state. "Please, just tell me what you want me to do before you cause my head to explode." Eye twitching, he longed for a reply so that later he could resume his day in silence.

"Hmm..." the voice droned again, the faint sound of a smile barely detectable in the enunciation of his words. "No, I don't think I will..." It was his object now; it seemed, to torture Bartimaeus even more than normal for being indifferent toward mankind.

Then again, when hadn't that voice acted this way?

The answer? Never.

Bartimaeus let out a suffering sigh and decided to get on with his game. It was near impossible to ignore the voice now, but at least he could try. Perhaps if he just listened to his CD player and blared his Queen CD through his headphones he could block out the insufferable voice.

With that in mind, the librarian went under his desk to look for it. He had half a mind to just stay under his desk so no one would bother him for the rest of the day.

A huff of exasperation finally exploded from the voice, who was unable to keep his patience for too much longer. "You need to make a few phone calls, you know. Get her a new cane. Do you realize just how hard it must be for her to get around without it, especially with your instant walking away when she said she didn't need help?"

Again, the voice's infamous good will was showing through like a light bulb in the darkness.

Bartimaeus sighed deeply, his expression showing nothing more than annoyance as he got up from under his desk with his CD player. "Why do I have to get her a new cane?" he snapped irritably, "It's not like it was my fault she got it broken in the first place!" Bartimaeus argued, "Not to mention I hardly have enough money to buy groceries this week, let alone get someone a new cane," he added.

He sat back down on his desk chair and put the headset over his ears. "So stop trying to make me become the Good Samaritan when I obviously can't do anything about it." the voice murmured dryly, "At least three reasons why you should get her a new cane." Unfortunately, the voice stalled him dryly with incoherent mumblings until he could think of them. Babbling, babbling, always blathering some nonsense.

"There are…"

"One," he started, "It may not have been your fault, but it did happen outside of your establishment. Two, it wouldn't kill you to help someone who is obviously having a pretty bad day because of you, and three, don't try to lie to me about that stash in your sock drawer."

Bartimaeus ignored the voice as best he could and blared his Queen CD as loud as the player would allow him. "I'm sorry, did you say something?" The warlock smiled to himself in triumph. He couldn't help but feel he was going to regret those words the minute after he said them, but he showed no sign of it. Yet.

If the voice was going to say something to him now, he would have to scream. Very, very loudly.

There came nothing.

And then, "HALALALALALALALALAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" the voice yelled with all his might, attempting to disrupt any sense of victory Bartimaeus had left. The voice was just rude like that. "Hmph..." he muttered in a barely audible tone, "Ignore me, will you..."

Bartimaeus winced from the voice's interruption and he turned off the CD, "Dear Lord, mate, will you ever let me have any peace?" he asked, closing his eyes tightly and running a hand down his face as he groaned. "I'm not making any phone calls for some girl I don't even know and obviously doesn't want my help! I'm not doing it!"

His statement was meant to be final, but the way he "said" it sounded desperate, almost like a whine or a plea to make the voice stop.

"Just because she didn't seem to want your help," the voice huffed back, "Doesn't mean she doesn't need it!" From the deadly silence that followed after, the voice seemed veritably angry with Bartimaeus' lack of heart.

Again, when wasn't he?

"Besides," he continued with a musing tone of voice, the bare hint of a smirk detectable in his pronunciation, "If you refuse..." He was pretty sure that Barty knew what he meant, thus leaving the fill-in-the-blank scenario wide open for him.

Bartimaeus shook his head, even though he knew that was a futile effort, "No! No, no, no, no! You are not going to make me do anything this time!" The librarian held his head now with both hands. "You're not even real...just shut up and go away..." he thought weakly, knowing it was useless. He should just go on and get Rahleigh the new cane, but his stubbornness wouldn't allow him, nor his pride.

Hmm, how could some one like Bartimaeus have pride?

Well, the "nobody" had to have something on his person. (Besides a nagging voice in his head, that is.)

And that "nobody's" nobody was working at a feverish pace as his conscience, which went ignored most of the time because of the pride. He did have his methods of getting through, even though Bartimaeus didn't appear to like them very much at all.

"I'll do it if you don't," the voice warned stiffly. "It's me or you, and I'd prefer you to just do it."

Bartimaeus made an equivalent of a whimper of protest and continued to hold his head. "Go away..." he said out loud, not caring if anyone was still in the library. If anyone was, they paid no attention to the schizophrenic warlock who refused to listen to the "good" side of him.

He was so frustrated with himself at this point. Was he always like this? Bartimaeus asked that question practically every day and you want to know what's sad? The answer was yes, but he never could figure out why.

A sigh followed by a snapping sound. "Alright then. You've left me with absolutely no choice, Barty. I hope you're ready, because here I come."

As soon as that final word had escaped the voice, a change was evoked, a fuzziness of mind as many emotions blended together in what would have looked like "sick and confused", if indeed such emotions had a visual equal. It might have been a grayish blur streaked with oiled-down blue. Whatever the cause, that's what the voice was bringing with it as it suddenly began to expand and attempt to squash out Bartimaeus' personality temporarily.

Bartimaeus, at least the one being taken over, was then pushed back in his mind, allowing the voice to take complete control. The real Bartimaeus, if one was creative enough to envision this, was sitting in the corner of what looked like a dark, inky blackness that apparently was his mind. The voice's persona was nowhere to be seen, as "he" was temporarily using the warlock's body.

Bartimaeus sighed deeply and tugged at his hair with his hands, his expression nothing but pure frustration and melancholy. No one ever had this type of problem but him. Not only was he flipping schizophrenic with no medication, he obviously suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder and he hated it. Absolutely hated it.

Don't think he hadn't tried to take medications prescribed to him, because he did. The voice just wouldn't let him take them.

Once the voice had taken over the body, the first thing he did was smile cattishly. He loved being able to move about on his own, but hated the process it entailed. No matter, though; it was his body now for the time being.

He wiggled his fingers a little and bent down below the desk to get a national organization directory, flopping it down on the desk surface and turning page after page of toll-free and pay-by-minute numbers. The possibilities were endless, and momentarily, the voice pondered that he should dial all of them on the way to his search just to irk Bartimaeus more than he was already.

He searched for the National Federation of the Blind's number, and finally he hit the jackpot, his finger stopping at the name and running over to the digits. Once he had the numerals in mind, though, his fingers left the pages and picked up the phone, quickly dialing them in before he tucked the phone between his shoulder and ear. Now what was he doing? He was typing in Rahleigh's name to find her address.

Bartimaeus watched after a few more moments of moping, making sure the voice didn't do anything that would ruin his life even more. "Are you finished yet?" the man asked helplessly. "You know I can't stand this place for very long..." he shuddered, warily looking around at the inky blackness that swarmed all around him.

Bartimaeus couldn't help but think this swarming darkness was his soul. It made him feel sick and queasy.

"Just about..." the voice answered mentally after finishing the administration of Raleigh's information. When he did anything, he usually didn't take long.

"Uh...yes, one more thing," he said into the phone to the representative, "I'd like to add a note, in Braille, with the monogrammed cane. Yes, I want it to say this: 'Dear Rahleigh, my apologies for being an asshole earlier and not walking you home after your cane broke; please accept this token of my gratitude of your patience with me.' Yes, yes, thank you. Goodbye." The voice hung up the phone and smiled, reclining back in the chair in preparation for the switch-off.

"I was not an asshole!" Bartimaeus snapped indignantly. He bit his tongue from saying anything further to give the voice more reason to torture him. He waited for the switch and with a strange ear-popping sensation; Bartimaeus was now in control of his body once again.

"Mmhm," the voice obviously replied sarcastically.

He got up from out of his chair and looked at the time of his watch. It was now seven thirty at night. Bartimaeus sighed deeply. Closing time never felt so welcoming. He made sure no one was still in the library as he began turning off the lights.

"I hope this has satisfied you for now, because I need my bloody sleep tonight!" he shouted at the voice irritably while shutting the door and locking it. He put the keys into his pocket and turned to walk home. He had a sour feeling in the pit of his stomach that this too, was going to be a long night.