Witch, 114

Fighting Sucks, Which Is Why It’s Best to Try and Solve Conflicts in Other Ways

Ao3 Link

“That’s new.”

“Yeah, James gave it to me the other day.”

“He gave you a boner the other day and you still have it?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“Unlike him.”

“He’s branching out,” Ron explained, slotting a post into place with a grunt.

“But his branching is only interested in your dick,” said Spike, coming to rest on a ladder rung. Ron was down in what would someday be the cellar of the shed, building the ladder that would lead up to the main shed. He was using a normal ladder to get up and down for now, but once the shed was built it would be good to have a sturdy ladder that was fixed to the wall, so Ron was doing that today before he started work on the ceiling of the cellar, which would be the floor of the main shed, tomorrow.

“I mean it’s still the same tree,” Ron said. He grabbed a board and fitted it into place, then took some nails. He’d taken Tanner’s advice and measured and cut all the pieces he needed for this ladder in advance yesterday, so now all he needed to do was put them all together.

“And one that doesn’t make sap,” Spike teased.

Ron rolled his eyes and started hammering. “How are you?”

“The usual. You should interfere in those kids’ sex lives.”

Oh. “James is pretty sure they can work it out on their own.” Jed and Micha were having a lot of sex suddenly, at a rate of four or five times a day. It hadn’t improved either of their disposition. They still claimed to hate each other.

“Yeah, but can they do it before one of them hurts the other?” Spike asked.

“Good point.” Ron sighed. “I don’t think either of them wants to hurt the other.”

“Maybe, but that doesn’t mean they won’t. They don’t fucking know what they’re doing and have you seen how rough they are with each other?”

“Have you?”

“Yeah, I spied on them.”

“That’s weird.”

“Oh please, they were fucking in your living room,” Spike said.

That was their third time today. “Ew, that’s where James and I fuck.”


“I hear you,” Ron said to Spike, hammering another board in place. “I’ll talk to them.”

“Thank you.” Spike fluttered his wings a little as he kept his balance on the ladder. “Then you can talk to James about the thing that’s bothering him.”

“I have talked to James about the thing that’s bothering him,” Ron muttered. He kept hammering.

“Well, it’s still bothering him.”

Ron picked up another nail. He knew the Sam thing was bugging James. “Sam wants to be a jerk off in his mountains. We can’t change that. James knows that it’s not his fault. He just needs time to get past it.”

“Mm-hm,” said Spike. “You know why it’s really bothering him, right?”

“Yeah. It was the first time he’d thought he’d made a friend and it turns out Sam hated him the whole time. He’s upset that he read the situation so wrong.”

“Right. So what are you doing about it?”

“Right now? I’m building him a shed.” At Spike’s annoyed noise, Ron looked at him. “Spike, you know James. You know I can’t just bully him into feeling better. It’s not like we’re not talking about it, we’re just not talking about it right this instant. It’s okay.”

Spike glared at Ron for a second, then his wings sagged a little. “Fine, fine. I just worry about him. And you.”

“I know, and I’m glad for that. But we’re okay. We’re…” The forest suddenly sent a sharp note through Ron’s head and he looked up, feeling Cameron appear just outside the property. “Uh. I’ll be back.”

“Mm-hm,” said Spike, zipping up ahead of Ron, who climbed the ladder after him. The new ladder was almost finished. Hopefully this didn’t ruin his chances of getting a start on cutting floorboards before the sun went down.

James was standing in front of the house when Ron got out of the cellar, with Micha and Jed, who was holding Ron’s sword. Cameron was there with Bartholomew, and they were talking to James. “We’re telling you as a courtesy,” Cameron said, as Ron came near enough to hear.

“That’s very thoughtful of you,” said James. “As a further courtesy, I’d appreciate it if you could leave.”

“There’s no reason to be antagonistic,” said Bartholomew, in a voice that Ron recognized was meant to be calming and that James was definitely going to find patronizing.

“I agree. Which is why I’m confused as to why you chose to come to my house and behave antagonistically.” James tapped his foot on the ground. He was still looking at Cameron. “It seems rather unnecessary.”

“I am not attempting to antagonize you. I was notifying you of my plans, so that they weren’t taken as trespass.”

“Hm,” said James. “Ron, if I went into your cousin’s castle and told him I was planning to break some of his windows before I broke them, would that still count as trespassing?”

“Yeah,” said Ron, joining James now. Jed kind of held out his sword, but Ron didn’t take it yet. “What are you guys planning to break?” As he spoke, Demon appeared from somewhere and wended his way between Ron’s legs.

“Nothing,” Cameron said, voice arch. “As I explained to James, we are planning to practice the spell he helped us work on out on the god trapped on the other side of your forest.”

“There is no other side of our forest,” Ron said, while the forest said the same thing to him. “And Keden lives here, or he will once he’s awake again. You can’t hurt him.”

Keden will kill every last one of you and level your forest once he’s awake again.” Cameron didn’t move, but gave the impression of being much taller suddenly. “Protecting him is foolish. He doesn’t care about you. He is using this forest and everyone in it as a cover to protect himself while he restores his power.”

“When was the last time you talked to him?” James asked quietly.

“Fortunately I never have. We need a way to practice this spell and there aren’t a plethora of gods around for us to capture and use it on. It’s foolish not to use a resource at our disposal.”

“He’s a god, not a resource,” Jed muttered, clutching Ron’s sword tightly.

“God is only a word, boy.”

“He’s also a person,” said Micha, scowling. “And that’s more than just a word.”

“As I said,” said Cameron, and Ron could feel her thinking about her power, and how big the heavy bass was that characterized it. It was bigger than him, bigger than James. “I spoke to you as a courtesy. This is too important for it to be decided by committee.”

“I agree,” said James, nodding. He didn’t seem worried. Demon was sitting at his feet. “A person’s life is too important to be negotiated. This is therefore not negotiable. I will not let you hurt Keden.”

“James, I respect you more than I respect most people,” Cameron began. “But your power, impressive though it is, is not a match for mine. Get out of my way.”

Micha stepped back, and Jed shifted a little. “Go inside,” Ron told them. “We’ll handle this.”

“Hey, fuck that,” Micha said.

“Yeah, we’re not going to let you fucking fight someone by yourselves,” Jed agreed.

Micha hadn’t stepped back in fear. He’d moved closer to the river. Jed wasn’t uncomfortable, he was burying his toes in the soil. Ron sighed. “Language. Nobody’s going to fight,” he promised. James hadn’t broken eye contact with Cameron.

“Wouldn’t be much of one,” said Spike, from the eaves of the house. “Plenty of people have learned how stupid it is to pick a fight with these two. You want to fight an entire forest, lady?” The forest was gathering around them, the song getting deep. Cameron’s power was bigger than James’s or Ron’s, but Ron didn’t think it was bigger than the forest’s.

“Cameron,” James said. His voice was soft. “You are my friend, and I understand that that doesn’t mean as much to you as it does to me. But you are also a guest here. So please don’t make us revoke your invitation.”

Cameron was silent a moment longer, but her threatening music did recede a little. “You are making a mistake,” she finally said. “Your insistence on being friends with everyone you meet is dangerous. You of all people should know that.”

“I of all people also know how important it is not to default to violence,” James told her. “There are other ways to get what we need. There are other ways to test your spell. Let me help you find them.”

“Fine,” Cameron said. Bartholomew looked surprised. “We will search for an alternative. But if we cannot find one, next time I will not ask.”

“Then next time neither will I.”

“Nor should you. Our friendship matters more to me than you assume.”

Cameron and Bartholomew teleported out with a snap. That was stupid, they should have stayed and talked more. Ron sighed, put his arm around James. James leaned on him. “You did the right thing,” Ron said, while Demon went to sniff around where they’d been standing.

“I know. Thank you for helping.”

“You guys are so…cool,” Jed muttered, and Ron wasn’t sure he’d totally heard himself. “I can’t believe you scared them away.”

“I really thought we were going to have to fight,” Micha agreed, a little distant.

“Most things can be solved without fighting,” James said. He sounded tired. “It’s just convincing people that’s hard. Jed, thank you for bringing Ron’s wand out, but could you please go put it away now? Micha, if you wouldn’t mind putting the kettle on for me I’d appreciate that.”

“S-sure,” Micha said, and he and Jed went into the house. Ron heard Micha whisper, “They totally would have won, though, right?”

“Yeah definitely,” Jed whispered back. “Did you feel how the whole fucking world was getting ready to help them?”

James sighed. “I wish we could all just be happy with what we have.”

“Me too,” said Ron. He kissed James’s cheek. “Maybe we can be, someday.”

A nod. “Thank you, Spike.”

“I didn’t do fuck-all, kid,” said Spike. “Listen, she wasn’t totally wrong about one thing. You can’t just keep putting off conflicts forever. You have to do something before they get worse.”

“I know. I think I’d like to try talking to Sam again.”

“Me too,” said Ron.

“We’ll go to him again. He’ll find that less threatening, I think. I’d like us to visit Keden a little more often. Maybe once a week or something. He needs to understand that we don’t want to hurt him.”

“That sounds like a good idea. Let’s go inside.”

“Yeah. Do you want to go back to your work? You didn’t get much done yet, right?”

“There’s lots of time left,” Ron promised him, walking James into the house. “Come on, let’s figure out what we want to say to Sam. And enjoy Jed and Micha not fighting for a bit.”

“Maybe we can teach them that they’ll enjoy that too,” James muttered, and Ron laughed even though it wasn’t a joke.

Nobody liked fighting with other people. If they could start by teaching the people around them that, they’d be on track.

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