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Bewitched

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The man at the bar has bewitched him, Josh is almost certain of it.

There are two ways of using that term: 'bewitched'. The first means to fascinate or have captured the attention of someone. The second means to cast a spell over someone—and quite literally.

Josh himself has never been bw'd before, but he's heard tales of it. You go to some public place where people tend to hang around—a bar, a restaurant, a movie theater. You feel normal, and everything's fine and dandy until you suddenly notice this person across the room. They're stunning, and you can't look away. How have you never noticed them before?

The next morning, you wake up in the bewitcher's bed, and the strange attraction you felt last night is gone as suddenly as it appeared. You've been bw'd—a spell was cast on you by a witch or wizard when your head was turned, to make you deeply enamored with them, so you'd sleep with them. It was kind of like slipping something into a girl's drink at a bar, and it was highly illegal.

Mostly, it was witches who were bewitchers, rather than wizards. A wizard was an official practitioner of the magic arts, someone who went to school for it and was given a license to buy a wand and other special items. Witches, on the other hand, were people who didn't go to school, or who had only gone for a little while before dropping out. These people swapped their spells and potions and had to get by without a wand and most other magical objects. They were less accepted by society, either cast aside or ignored.

Josh himself is neither a wizard nor a witch—like his father and brother, he's a non-magic, or NM. His mother, on the other hand, is a certified wizard, and his sisters are in school to learn the same things she did.

Growing up in a family with wizards, you learn a few things, and one of the things Josh had heard plenty about was bewitching. He knows all the symptoms—sudden attraction to a stranger, a desire to approach them without knowing why, and an inability to look away from them.

These are also the symptoms of genuine attraction, but Josh knows this must be a case of bewitching, because he isn't gay.

He doesn't have anything against gay people, of course, it just isn't him, is all. Josh likes girls, not boys.

That is why he's almost certain the man across the bar had bewitched him. Josh doesn't like boys, but here he is, staring at this stranger a few seats away.

He doesn't want to stereotype, but this stranger looks like a witch, too, rather than a wizard. He has no visible wand, and he wears a large black jacket that seems almost crowded with pockets—witches have to have pockets for all of their magical ingredients, whereas wizards can just conjure them up with their wands.

Josh doesn't want to stare, but he's been bw'd, so he can't really help it. The stranger has fluffy brown hair and dark eyes—Josh can't tell what color from where he's sitting, but they're dark. It is clear that he knows at least a little magic, you can tell by his fingernails. They're electric blue, but brighter and more eye-catching than any regular nail polish ever could be. Not only do they gleam, but every time the man taps them against something, whether his beer bottle or the bar counter, tiny flecks of blue light come off like sparks. That is definitely magic.

To be truthful, Josh has been staring at him from the moment he arrived at the bar. He tried not to be too obvious, but every once in a while, the stranger would glance in Josh's direction, and he'd have to quickly look away to avoid getting caught. Once he was sure the stranger wasn't looking anymore, Josh would resume his one-sided staring contest.

He probably should have called the police by now, but he hasn't. That's another thing about bewitching—you're so intrigued by the person in question, you can barely look away to do anything else.

Suddenly, the stranger slaps a few dollars on the counter and stands up. Josh's heart leaps up in his throat, though he can't tell if it's from terror or excitement. This is it—the bewitcher is going to approach him, ask him to come home with him, and Josh won't be able to say no.

As the stranger walks his way, Josh quickly forces his eyes directly in front of him, staring at the old wood counter like it's the most interesting thing in the world. He knows the bewitcher is standing behind him, can practically feel his electric-blue nails running down his back...

And then he walks out of the bar without so much as a word.

What the fuck?

 

• • • • •

 

“I think I got bw'd last night,” Josh says. It's the next day and he's at home with his roommmate. Brendon's laying on the floor—maybe he's weird, maybe he's high, maybe both—and Josh is just sitting on the couch, staring at the blank TV screen. They lost the remote yesterday and still haven't found it.

Unsurprisingly, Brendon frowns, seeming at least a little more alert than he was just a moment ago. Bewitching is a serious topic. “You were here when I woke up this morning.”

“That's the thing,” Josh begins, frustration in his voice. It's not like he wanted to sleep with the stranger—no, of course not—but he's deeply confused as to what happened. “There was this guy across the bar--”

“Ew, that's gay.” Brendon interrupts. Josh reminds him of his boyfriend, Dallon, and Brendon waves his hand dismissively. “Alright, go on.”

“There was this guy across the bar,” Josh starts over, “and I couldn't stop staring at him. Y'know? It was just like how being bw'd is supposed to be, except he got up and left the bar. Didn't even talk to me once.”

“Really?” Brendon squints up at the ceiling like there's a hidden message in the shitty paint job. “That's fucking weird.”

“I know.” Josh wants to turn on the TV but the remote is still missing and he doesn't want to look for it, so he just sits there, back against the couch, eyes staring at the black screen. “What should I have done? Should I have called the cops?” he adds, just the slightest bit of frantic feeling in his chest.

Brendon shakes his head. “Nah, not if he didn't try to take you home. They'd never believe it.”

“Then what do I do?” Josh runs a hand through his dyed blue hair, a nervous habit.

His roommate thinks for a moment, eyes still on the ceiling. “I don't know, man. I really don't.”

 

• • • • •

 

Josh doesn't know what compels him to go back to the bar that very night, but he does. “Call my cell if I'm not back by midnight,” he tells Brendon before leaving, but Dallon is there and they're sloppily making out on the couch. His roommate, from underneath his tall boyfriend, manages a thumbs-up, but he seems too...ahem, occupied to have even heard what Josh said, much less understood it.

Just to be safe, he writes a note and leaves it on the fridge before heading out.

It's cold and dark out, and Josh is glad he brought his jacket. He stuffs his hands in the pockets, walks swiftly for a few blocks before making it to the bar.

Almost the second he walks in, he sees him—the stranger from last night. He's sitting at the bar again, beer in his hand and Josh is drawn to him like a moth to a flame. This can't be right. Bewitching is supposed to wear off after twelve hours. So why is Josh still entranced by him?

Feeling almost angry at this stupid, stupid situation, Josh walks right across the bar and pokes the stranger in the shoulder. He turns, leaving his beer on the counter and swiveling on his barstool to face Josh. “Can I help you?”

God, even his voice is hot. Josh has to be losing his mind.

“You bewitched me,” he manages to say in a steady voice. He was going for something deeper, more intimidating, but this is all he can manage with the man himself in front of him.

The stranger blinks. “Excuse me?”

“You bewitched me,” Josh says again, a bit quieter. “Last night.”

He expected the man to look guilty, but he only looks puzzled. “I don't bw people. I don't even know how. These here,” he adds, tapping his sparking electric-blue fingernails on the counter, “are about the fanciest thing I can do.”

Now it's Josh's turn to be confused. “Seriously?”

“Seriously.” The stranger gives him a hint of a smile, and it looks really good on him. “I did see you last night, though. You were staring at me.”

Embarrassed, Josh shoves his hands in his pockets, looks at the floor. “Sorry,” he mumbles.

The stranger laughs. “Hey, don't worry about it. I thought it was cute.” Josh's heart leaps in his chest, a little like last night, but maybe it isn't so bad after all. “I'm Tyler,” the witch says, holding out his hand.

“Josh,” the other man says, and they shake hands.

“Can I get you a drink?” Tyler offers. Then his smile disappears. “Sorry, that's probably a bad idea. I get it if you don't--”

“No, no, that sounds great,” Josh promises, and Tyler's smile comes back.

They sit together at the bar for a few hours, drinking one or two beers and talking. Josh doesn't know why, but he finds himself telling Tyler everything—how he thought he'd been bw'd by him last night, the conversation with Brendon, all of it. Tyler doesn't get offended, though; he laughs, actually laughs, and Josh's heart flutters around frantically like a moth trapped in a jar.

Tyler tells Josh plenty, too—he learned a little magic from his neighbor, a girl named Jenna, and it intrigued him. He can't afford to go to school for it, because “it's hella exspensive”, in Tyler's words. However, he does have some other people in his apartment complex who are witches, and one wizard who's willing to teach him some minor spells. He's been learning from them for a few months now, and just beginning to grow confident in his abilities.

Josh has grown up around magic all his life, his mother being a wizard herself, but he finds himself fascinated by Tyler's story anyway. The witch goes on to list some of the things he's learned, and talk about the ones he's working on now.

Finally, neither man has a desire to drink anymore, and Tyler puts some money on the counter for their drinks. “It was nice getting to know you, Josh.”

“Likewise,” Josh says, feeling a little nervous for reasons he can't quite place. It's a little bit dumb, a little bit crazy, but—he kind of wants to kiss Tyler. He's just got one of those mouths that looks so kissable, you know?

Or maybe, he would like to do more than kiss him. Maybe a lot more.

Josh is probably a lot gayer than he thought he was, at least when it comes to Tyler.

“Do you want to go back to my place?” Josh blurts out.

Tyler stares at him, and Josh is so sure he's said the wrong thing, so sure that he's not into him that way, and he's about to apologize, but Tyler kisses him square on the mouth before he can get out a single word.

Having only ever kissed girls before, this is a new experience for Josh. It's similar, but different at the same time; he can feel Tyler's scruff against his face, for one. For another, most of the girls Josh has been with were shy, stepped back to let Josh be in charge. Tyler, however, quickly takes control of the kiss by swiping his tongue over Josh's lips, and Josh likes it. He likes it a lot.

Tyler breaks the kiss all too soon, however. Josh finds himself disappointed, but only briefly. “Mine's across the street,” Tyler whispers, and grins as Josh's neck goes red.

They hold hands as they leave the bar—which is really cliché, by the way—and it's just starting to rain outside. Grinning like a pair of idiots, they race across the street, resulting in a few cars honking at them, but they don't care.

They make it through the lobby and up the stairs at record speed. Josh is practically hanging all over Tyler as he fumbles with his room key, and it'll probably be embarrassing later, but at the moment, it just doesn't matter.

Almost the second the door is opened, it closes with them on the inside, and Tyler slams Josh against the back of it. The witch's fingers are tangled in Josh's blue curls, knee between the other man's legs, and Josh is clinging onto Tyler's shirt like a lifeline, mouth refusing to separate from the witch's even though he probably needs air.

Josh is so glad he 's the other kind of bewitched.