Witch, 116

It’s Nice to Be Able to Not Worry about Anything for One Evening

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“You want some?”

“No, thanks.”

“Okay. You guys?”

“Sure, what is it?”

“Just greenheart, nothing serious. Ron, are the kids old enough to do drugs?”

Ron shrugged while he gently moved Jay and Tanner’s Parcelbug away from their house. Apparently his roots were poking into their basement. “They’re old enough to tie each other up and pee on each other, I don’t see why not.”

“Toddlers are old enough to tie each other up and pee on each other.”

“I guess,” Ron agreed. “They don’t get boners when they do it, though.”

“Gross,” Micha told Ron, rolling his eyes.

“You’re literally the one who did it,” Ron reminded him.

“To Jed, who is gross, and also we don’t need to talk about it, God.”

“Good luck with that one,” Tanner told Micha, offering him a rolled up joint. “I’ve never known anyone in this forest not to talk about sex when talking about sex could either help or embarrass someone else.”

“It’s fucking weird,” Micha muttered.

“I thought so for a while,” Tanner agreed. “In my family we basically don’t talk about sex when there are other people around, because of like propriety and stuff. We have a basement in our house that’s like the special sex room where we can talk about anything, but everywhere else it’s like, boy you better pretend you don’t know what your dick is for.”

Jed giggled. “That’s weird.”

Micha smacked the back of his head. “Don’t be rude.”

“Sorry, boss.”

He rolled his eyes and didn’t sound sorry, but he’d said it, which was something. Their new rules were working out so far. “Sorry about him. He’s stupid.”

“It’s okay,” Tanner said with an easy smile. They were all out in his and Jay’s garden. Jay had invited them over for supper, and then insisted that they were his guests and he wasn’t going to let Ron cook for him, so everyone but James had been kicked out, because James could be trusted not to help. Which was why Ron was fixing the garden instead. “Everyone’s stuff seems weird to other people. The first time I saw James fucking Ron over the table I thought it was the wildest thing in the world. You get used to stuff.”

“Yeah, I guess.” He sighed. “What is this?”

“Just greenheart, not that strong. Am I allowed to ask Jed if he wants some?”

“You’re allowed to ask Jed whatever you want, I don’t own you,” Micha told him, sniffing the joint. “Oh, it’s birchwing.”

“Is that what it’s called in Kyaine?” Tanner asked. He offered one to Jed as Micha nodded.

Jed also took one, smelled it. He unrolled it and put a little on his tongue. “I don’t think we have this near the Source.”

“It doesn’t tend to do well when it’s super hot,” Ron told him. “It might not like the climate where you’re from.”

Jed nodded, re-rolled the joint. “What does it do?” He was looking up at Micha.

“Well…I don’t know. It’s supposed to be a sedative. I’ve never had any,” Micha admitted.

“So you’re useless.”

Micha smacked him again, and Jed stuck his tongue out. Micha scowled at him. “Behave.”

“Make me.”

“I will after supper,” Micha said, taking a breath. “What does it do?”

“It literally just chills you out a little,” Tanner said. “Not that I think either of you need to chill out or anything.”

It was Micha’s turn to roll his eyes, but he put the joint in his mouth. “Uh…I don’t have any matches.”

“Or fire spells,” Jed added.

“I’m from a riverbank. Do a fire spell.”

“I’m from a very flammable wood.”

“All wood is flammable, you…”

Ron gestured, asking the air to heat up briefly, and Micha’s joint lit with a quiet cymbal clang. “Thanks,” he said.

“No problem,” Ron said, now burying the Parcelbug’s roots in the new hole that was farther from the house. “Tanner, I just assumed you didn’t have any matches.”

Tanner patted himself down. “Nope.” He was butt naked. “They’re in my other pants, I think.”

While the boys snickered at that, Ron lit his joint for him too. “Jed?”

“I don’t know if I want to. I want to see if it kills Micha first.”

“It’s not going to kill anyone, oh my God,” Micha said, sucking on the joint. He immediately started coughing, exhaling a lot of smoke.

Jed snickered and ignored him. “How come you don’t want any?” he asked Ron.

Ron shrugged, being careful not to pack the soil too tight. “Not my thing is all. I don’t really like not feeling in control.” He thought about that a second while every plant within hearing laughed at him. “Well. In that particular way, anyway.”

“It’s not really like being drunk,” Tanner said. “It’s more just like, you’re kind of calm for a while. Not trying to pressure you or anything. Just so you know.”

Ron nodded. “Thanks. I think James might like it.”

“That’s what Jay said too,” Tanner said. “Apparently James told him no because he didn’t think you’d appreciate it.”

“What?” Ron sighed. “I don’t care. I’ll talk to him when we go in.”

“It doesn’t even feel like anything,” Micha said, with another cough.

“I think the other feelings kick in after you’re done dying,” Jed suggested.

“You know what, that’s enough backtalk from you. You’re starting to sound like someone who needs his throat fucked. Get over here.”

Jed did as he was ordered, and not far off, Hunter woke up from the nap he’d been taking and barked at something only he could hear. Then Ron could hear it too, a faery approaching the garden. Just one, he thought. “Hello,” Ron said, as Juniper buzzed into the garden. It was weird to see him by himself; usually Daffodil or Hemlock was with him. He was expending a lot of power to fly with one wing and he wasn’t doing a very good job, swaying back and forth like he was drunk. “Juniper?”

He was coming towards them and Ron stood up, catching him as he fell from the air. “Fuck, are you okay?”

He was half passed out already, but looked up at Ron with deep, almost empty eyes. His wing fluttered in Ron’s palm. “Fear,” he said, audibly and clearly and in a voice that sounded wrong.


“They’re coming back.”

And Juniper passed out, going completely limp in Ron’s hands. And all around Ron, the forest was obeying Juniper, and singing a song of fear.

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