Djinni in a Bottle

"I am the Djinn of the... that's not a bottle." The djinn peered at the slumped glass vase he had materialized out of.

"Uh, parts of it were." Becca stood there in ash and sweat stained overalls, hair back in a ponytail, polishing cloth in her hand. "I broke it apart and combined it with other recycled glass to create that vase. I didn't realize you were... Why weren't you freed when I broke the glass?"

"That is an excellent question." The Djinn rubbed his face with one hand. "Right, the mage who bound me was probably smarter than I gave them credit for."

"Given that they were a woman, according to the provenance of the bottle, yeah." Becca looked at the Djinn, tall, muscular, dark piercing eyes with a hint of glowing coals behind them, light brown skin that would probably darken up in the sun, and long, wavey black hair. He wore white, blousey, almost robe-like clothing.

"Right." He took a deep breath. "So three wishes. The standard contract. What can I do for you?"

"What's your name?"

"Is that one of your wishes?" He lifted his eyebrows.

"No, it's common courtesy. What am I supposed to call you?" She glared back.

"Oh, Asbat." He looked around. "May I sit?"

"What? Oh, wait." Becca cast about for something to put on a bench for him. "Sorry, I don't usually have company here." She tossed her hoodie over the bench. "That should be cleanish."

"Thank you, mistress. Now..." He began.

"Could we not, with the mistress thing?" She frowned. "It's, uh, not really a form of address here anymore."

"My apologies, how should I address you?"

"Oh, ah, Becca's fine." She leaned against a workbench.

"Becca, then. Yes, three wishes. There are limits, I cannot do the impossible." Asbat settled his hands on his knees.

"So world peace and ending poverty are out of the question." She frowned.

"The first one, yes. The second would take some work, but it could be done."

"Ok, then. For my first wish, I would like you to end poverty, no one should be homeless, not have enough to eat, lack for medical attention, or..." She paused. "This isn't going to rebound on me in some way, like I'll wake up in some totalitarian state or something?"

"That depends entirely on how you word it." Asbat smiled. "A totalitarian state would make it easier."

"Yeah, no." She frowned. "Give me a bit. Can I get you anything to eat or drink? How long have you been stuck in there anyway?" She moved to an old, beat up fridge. "I have soda, water, orange juice, beer..."

"Beer?" He perked up.

"Um, a dark stout, Indian pale ale, a Heffeweizen..." She glanced over her shoulder at him. "I've got some cheese and some bread in here, too."

"I will try whichever beer you enjoy the most. And I would very much like some bread and cheese, though I do not require food to live." He watched as she popped the cap on a bottle and brought it to him.

"Heffeweizen. It's a lighter, crisper beer." She went and washed her hands, before bringing out some cheese, a blunt knife and a half a loaf of round bread.

"I have... I do not know. I have not always reckoned time by mortal conventions. A long time."

"Bummer, dude." Becca hauled up a an old cable spool and sat across from him. She'd gotten herself a bottle of something brown and fizzy.

"What do you do here, Becca?" He glanced around at the kilns and the forge, his eyes lighting up.

"I make glass, I weld metal, I do metal sculpture. The knife is a practice piece for a set I did for a fancy hotel a while ago. They wanted forged pieces to go with their esthetic." She shrugged. "I blow glass. I do ok."

"This is fascinating." He shook his head. "My apologies, back to your wishes."

"That's gonna take a while to make sure I don't get bitten in the ass by it." She sighed. "Sorry, I dropped out of law school to do this. But I know enough to make sure I cover my ass."

"Oh." He looked crestfallen. "Where am I?"

"Portland, Oregon, in the United States of America." She smiled gently when he looked blank. "You knew about the Far East, right, India, China, Japan?"

"I can see in your head what you mean by that, yes." He frowned.

"We are across the ocean from Japan. The far side of the country is across the ocean from Spain... the Iberian Peninsula?" She watched his face.

"It has been a very long time, indeed, then." He exhaled.

"Look, dude. I will not make you go back in the vase, or whatever. If you want, I have a couch in my apartment. You can stay here if you promise not to break anything. But I'm not rushing into this wish business."

"You are most generous, Becca." He exhaled. "I suppose my dress is no longer acceptable."

"This is Portland, as long as you're not completely naked no one will say anything. But you might want something a little warmer." Becca smiled.

"As an Ifrit, I do not fear the cold." He drew himself up.

"I'm sorry, Asbat. I didn't mean to offend you. Dress how you want." Becca shrugged. They ate the rest of the bread and cheese quietly, then Becca got back to work. She set the vase he'd come from on a shelf, and then fired up one of the forges, and set about blowing a set of goblets out of a cobalt blue glass. Asbat walked over to watch her, eyes lighting up at the fire.

After the third failed shape, she growled and set her rod aside.

"What is the matter?" Asbat asked.

"The regulator on this damn thing is out and I can't keep it hot enough." Becca took a step back, a deep breath and exhaled staring at the ceiling.

"If you need heat, I can help." He held out a hand, and it burst into flame, glowing white hot.

"Can you heat that crucible, and occasionally give me a small jet when I give you the nod?" Her eyebrows rose.

"Of course." He smiled.

"Excellent." She grinned back, and they went to work.

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