That Old Black Magic
I get to blame Hi My Name Is UNCOOL for the entirety of this fic. She was the inspiration behind pretty much all of it, including Ethan's crazyness. Characters are not mine, please enjoy! Reviews are awesome!
Benny is unbelievably glad that Ethan's parents aren't home right now. He's low on cash so he's also glad that Jane is staying the weekend at a friend's house and is therefore not around to pester him for hush money. He would be paying her lots and lots of it to cover for this insanity.
And, given that they are not exactly new to the realm of ridiculous insanities, that is saying something.
"Ethan?" Benny dares to ask when his friend finally falls silent. "You okay?"
In response, Ethan offers yet another in a long series of absolutely hysterical laughs while he stares up at the ceiling in absolutely awe, as if the little plastic stars that have been stuck there for years have suddenly started doing magic tricks.
"You're not okay." Benny decides. He waves a hand over Ethan's face, which only makes him laugh more, the normal laughter deteriorating into entirely girly giggles that Benny would tease him for if all of this wasn't his fault.
"Bennnnnny," Ethan draws out. Benny's never really seen anyone be drunk before, but he imagines that it has to be something like this. Which is impressive, since no alcohol was involved in turning his best friend completely loopy. Just some botched magic.
Benny shakes his head as Ethan reaches up toward him, hand curling somewhere around Benny's elbow – he suspects Ethan was actually aiming for his wrist. "C'mon. Up you go, E," he says, using the grip to haul Ethan into what is more or less a sitting position.
Suddenly Ethan's eyes narrow and he's staring at Benny in a mix between confusion and astonishment. Like he hasn't seen Benny nearly every day since Kindergarten or something.
"What? What are you staring at?" Benny asks. For a second, he thinks maybe it's one of Ethan's vision things, but then Ethan has never done that with him before and this would be a weird time to start. Then there's more laughing and he's just all the more frustrated. "What!"
"Dude, your mouth is huge!" Ethan manages in his present state of amusement.
With that decidedly unexpected observation, Benny finds himself rather defensive. Despite the fact that he should be trying to get Ethan back to something resembling coherency, he snaps his mouth shut, biting his lips as a wave of insecurity rolls over him. "No, it's not!"
"I feel like I should be singing that one Glee song at you. Or something. God, your mouth…"
"Okay," Benny says, "you know what?" He pushes Ethan back down so he can stare up at the trippy stars some more. "You stay here. Do not move. Do not touch anything. Do not do anything stupid. At least until I get back." Once he's satisfied that his friend is sufficiently occupied with the plastic constellations, he leaves the room. He pulls the door firmly shut behind him and races down the steps, intent to locate the number to reach his Grandma – who is yet again out of town at some Earth Priestess meeting thing – and punches the numbers into his cell phone.
She answers on the last ring, much to Benny's relief and he's talking before she can come up with some excuse and tell him to fix his own silly messes. "Grandma, hi, yeah, you know how you told me not to go practicing those spells on page 87? Yeah, I might've… not… listened. And Ethan might've accidentally gotten hit with one of them? The 'Rabidus Verum' one? ...It was an accident, I swear. And now he won't stop laughing at his ceiling and making ridiculous, completely untrue claims. Just tell me how to fix him?"
He can hear her clucking her disapproval and despite the fact that he cannot see her – he really needs to teach her how to use the webcams – he can effectively imagine the glaring stare that would be leveled at him were she here. But, he'd be okay with the glaring in person because that would mean Ethan could be fixed without any further risk of his miserable attempts at magic.
Apparently, she can tell what he's thinking. "Stop that! You are merely untrained, not miserable, my dear boy, so do not go turning in your spellbook just yet." She pauses, though and Benny's pretty sure that doesn't mean good news. "As for Ethan's predicament… I'm afraid the counter-spell can be risky. It'd be best just to wait out the effects; it should be gone by the morning."
"But, Grandma, he's-" There's a loud, audible 'thud' against the wooden door to Ethan's room. This is alarming. "Are you sure?"
"Just keep him out of trouble," she says. "As you should be doing right now, I suspect."
The phone clicks off and Benny's off and back up to Ethan's room.
He finds Ethan sitting against the door – which makes it exponentially more difficult to open. "I thought I said not to move?"
"But you were gone so loooong, Bennnny," Ethan whines, and he's making stupid, ridiculous puppy eyes up at Benny from where he sits on the floor and what is he supposed to do with that? How did this become his life? "Are you, are you mad at me? Because I said that thing about your mouth being huge? Which it is. Really. Are you mad? Because I'm sorry. Benny, Benny, Benny. I'm sorry. Benny, are you mad at me?"
Bombarded by this string of repetitively phrased questions, Benny flounders for a response. He is further thrown when Ethan starts petting his leg. "I… Ethan."
Ethan had better not be like this when he is actually drunk, Benny thinks. If so, life as college roommates is going to have its rough moments. Granted, that's assuming they actually make it to college and aren't vampired and/or killed by some other evil force lurking around White Chapel before then.
"Ethan," he says again, once he's reconciled himself to the fact that he's actually going to have to deal with this on his own. "How about we go downstairs and watch TV or something?" He's hoping that the moving pictures on the TV can distract his best friend more efficiently than the non-mobile stars can.
Reluctantly, Ethan releases his hold on Benny's leg, and wobbles unsteadily on his feet once he manages to stand, as if the concept of balance is now more of a theoretical idea than a practical one. Benny resigns himself to letting Ethan grab onto him in a way that is rather reminiscent of a very clingy cephalopod.
"Okay, let's go" Benny sighs, and eventually the two of them end up sitting on the couch. Ethan seems most occupied by the vivid colors that Animal Planet has to offer, so he settles on what would be an otherwise boring documentary about tropical flora and fauna.
They're roughly an hour into the show when Benny decides that nourishment is needed if he's going to get them through the night and into the morning. Ethan is more or less fixated and he doesn't even seem to notice when the taller boy gets to his feet and exits the living room. He's almost to the refrigerator when he is missed.
"Benny! Where are you? Benny!" Ethan's panicked call sounds.
"I'm just getting a drink, E. I'll be right back." He grabs two sodas, rethinks that idea because the last thing Ethan needs is a combination of sugar and caffeine on top of what is apparently a magical hallucinogen, and trades the sodas for water bottles.
Ethan, however, remains concerned by Benny's disappearance. "No! Benny! Nooooo, don't go, come back, I need you! Bennnnnnny, where are you? Don't leave!"
He returns in time to keep Ethan from face-planting in an attempt to climb over the back of the sofa. Barely. Once again in close proximity, Ethan feels the need to bring up a topic that Benny had hoped they'd left behind. "Wow, your mouth is even bigger up close. You have a huge, giant elf mouth!"
"I should've let you hit the floor. Maybe the impact would have jolted you back to normal."
By the time he gets Ethan focused on the TV again, he seems to have forgotten about the whole thing, for which Benny is grateful. Recalling the waters he'd been fetching that started this whole mess, he offers one to Ethan. "Here, man, drink this."
He doesn't even look away from the screen – where vividly colorful tropical fish are defending their coraly homes from other vividly colorful tropical fish – and says, "I can't. It's poisoned. So I can't drink it."
Okay, he hadn't seen that coming. Benny sighs in frustration and unscrews the lid. "No, it's not. I just got it from your kitchen, remember? Look, I'll drink it and-"
"No! Benny, don't do it!" Ethan exclaims, now spinning around to knock the bottle to the floor. Water splashes all over them, and the sofa, and the coffee table, and the floor, but mostly them. Awesome. "Dude, Benny. I totally just saved your life right there."
"Fantastic." Benny's tone suggests his present situation is anything but. "I'm going to change. And then I'm going to clean this mess up." He levels his best friend with the most intense glare he can muster. "You. You are going to sit here and watch TV. If you have moved at all when I get back, I will tie you up or something." Ethan opens his mouth to say something, but Benny can predict it. "No talking. Only breathing and blinking."
With that, he takes off up the stairs and into Ethan's room. He digs through Ethan's closet to find one of several changes of clothes that have been stowed away and ducks into the bathroom. He's in the midst of swapping out his soaked t-shirt for a dry one when a loud, intense pounding sounds against the bathroom door. Of course, it's Ethan.
He sounds quite thoroughly panicked. "Benny! Are you okay? You can't go! Come back, Benny. Benny! Benny, Benny, Benny, answer me Benny. Are you okay? Did the poison-"
Benny throws the door open with enough force to knock Ethan to the floor. He almost feels bad about it. Almost.
He helps a pouty and sulky Ethan back to his feet and counts backwards from ten, and then from twenty, in order to keep from making good on his threats to tie Ethan up.
"You know what, E. We're going to go back downstairs and play Super Ninja Pirate Raiders IV until you are back to normal. Then we are never going to speak about tonight ever, ever again." He drags Ethan along behind him with a little more force than is strictly necessary, but he ignores the other boys complaints all the same.
Ten minutes later and Benny has given up all hope of his video game plan. Ethan can manage to focus on the screen, but he has lost all semblances of the hand-eye coordination required to actually play the game with any sort of success. So much for progress on their co-op campaign.
Instead, and Benny can't even believe it, he reverts back to the methods he used when he had to babysit his cousins for an evening last summer. Ages 5 and 7, he had to get pretty creative in entertaining them while his dad and aunt and uncle all went out to dinner. He'd come up with a game he and Ethan had played when they were really little. Technically, a babysitter had made it up for them when they were hyper and generally uncooperative but it went like this: run around in circles, stay off the tile in the kitchen, stay of the fireplace and avoid the furniture. It was called Airplane and it was generally meant to wear them out as quickly as possible. Sometimes they played it outside, but it was mostly a rainy day game and if they went extra-long without running into the designated 'storm' areas and didn't crash into each other, then they got piggy back rides. It was a good deal.
And, evidently, it still seems absurdly entertaining to Ethan. Benny designates himself as the control tower, the role their babysitter played, and lets Ethan burn off his magically induced energy. Comfortably seated on the couch, he watches as Ethan laps the living room over and over and over again. Maybe it was more interesting with two airplanes, but he wonders if the babysitter ever got bored of watching these shenanigans.
Just as he's thinking this, Ethan executes some sort of Spiderman leap over an ottoman placed beside the couch. This would have resulted in an immediate time out if they were still six, and it should probably still be frowned upon, but Benny's kind of surprised Ethan actually managed the jump with his present state of mind and it's not like those skills won't come in handy for them in the future.
"Whoa, dude, calm down!" He says anyway, because he doesn't need Ethan trying to leap over the couch. A trip to the ER will not make anything better. "Circles. Not in the storms, remember?"
"You're no fun, Benny," Ethan whines, circling the coffee table instead of the room. "You have to play, too." He grabs the taller boy's wrists and hauls him to his feet despite protests about someone having to be the control tower and then there's "Ethan, come on, I'm so tired," but Ethan pays no mind and starts dragging him around the room. He settles for walking slowly in circles once Ethan speeds off ahead and he doesn't even care that he gets lapped at least a dozen times in the next few minutes.
He's not even really paying attention when Ethan circles around behind him and pounces on him. When they wanted piggy back rides when they were younger they were both required to ask permission or give warning and they were significantly lighter, so this comes as an entirely unexpected assault that pretty much immediately sends them straight to the ground.
"What the hell, E?" Benny groans, after Ethan lands hard on top of him. Things ache all over with the impact, but that's hardly going to get him out of seeing this through until morning. "That's not how that worked then, why would that work now?"
"You're supposed to catch me, Benny," Ethan replies and Benny keeps himself from feeling bad about messing it up because his back hurts like mad and there an elbow had dug painfully into his ribs. Ethan is apparently not dwelling on it, though. Once they're both back on their feet – with Benny glancing longingly toward the couch or the floor or any surface on which he might be able to sleep – the other boy taps him on the shoulder, calls out "You're it," and takes off.
Benny follows, for some unfathomable reason.
By the time four am hits, Benny has just about lost his own mind. Ethan is a ball full of energy and Benny is in desperate need of sleep that he will not be getting. He's sprawled across the couch, watching Ethan watch the TV again. Occasionally he gets distracted and tries to do laps around the living room or catch his own shadow. Ethan, Benny has decided, is never, ever going to be allowed near alcohol or any other mind-altering substance because he has no intention of ever doing this ever again.
"Aren't you tired, E?" He asks, hoping this time he'll get a different answer than the last seven time he'd tried this question.
"Why would I be tired? It's early, Benny."
He's about to point out that no, no, it really isn't early. Unless he means early in the morning in which case, it is. But Ethan doesn't let him.
"Benny." He says again, sounding out the word like he's never heard it before. "Benny. Benny, Benny, Benny." This goes on for several minutes, which Benny manages to successfully ignore somehow. Ethan doesn't approve of this. "Bennnnnnny? Benny, can you hear me? BennyBennyBenny. BENJAMINNNN!"
Benny caves and sits up, desperate for this insanity to end. "Oh. My. God. What! What do you want from me?"
"Your name. Your name is Benjamin. But everyone calls you Benny and oh my God, can I live inside your mouth?"
The taller boy flops back down. He considers trying the reversal spell, risky or not. He considers a no-talking spell or an immobilization spell or a please-make-this-stop spell. He resists. Somehow.
By morning, Benny is practically dead on his feet – which is a terrible expression because the last thing he wants to do is think about his time spent among the zombified – but he has been relatively successful throughout the night. He's managed to get Ethan to eat a couple slices of pizza, had him drink some apparently non-poisoned water, and occupy him with various educational documentaries in stunningly vivid color.
All the same, Ethan is still loopy as hell and has only just started showing signs of a return to normalcy. They're subtle, but they're there. Mostly, it comes in the form of Ethan realizing that he is not acting normally.
"Benny," Ethan starts and Benny is fully prepared for another all-out fit of crazy – and God help him if he brings up the mouth thing again, he will not be responsible for his actions on that front – but what he gets instead is far more surprising. "Did you know that I think I'm kind of maybe in love with you?"
This is by far the most ridiculous thing he's heard all night. Even more so than the mouth thing because Benny is well aware that it is, in fact, pretty ginormous. But, it doesn't make any sense. Ethan likes Sara, has a crush on her, has tried to ask her out. He's talked about other girls and Benny is certainly interested in any girl he can find. Really, he's not picky so long as the girls aren't evil. But, maybe he's been interested in Ethan for a long time and never really let himself realize it because it had no chance of happening? Maybe that would explain the weird feelings he gets around Ethan and why he's always backfiring his magic when Ethan's involved. It would explain a lot, about how close they are and how Sara always thinks the things they do together are weird. Maybe this isn't as ridiculous as he thought.
Man, is he tired. That almost actually made sense.
He has to remember that Ethan is still high on his bungled attempts at spell-casting and doesn't know what he's saying. That has to be it because anything else would be far too game changing to let slide.
"No, you don't, E." He says, even though he kind of has to force the words out.
Ethan does not like that answer. "But, I do, Benny. Benny, please," he says and he's pawing at Benny's arm again like that will keep him leaving even though Benny isn't actually trying to go anywhere. "Please. I do. And I know you won't feel the same way but I had to tell you because I just can't stop talking and I don't know why and my mouth won't stop saying things that my brain doesn't want it to say and please say something Benny? Or make me stop talking before I say something else that will make you stop being my friend and make you leave because I don't think I could deal with that and Benny. Benny, please. Please, make it stop, make me stop before-"
He's pretty sure that Ethan meant lifting this horrible, horrible curse. Or covering his mouth. Or something that isn't what he does because what he does is unexpected even on his part. Before he even realizes what he's doing, Ethan's stopped talking and it's solely because he's kissing him.
There's one last, mumbled, "Benny," before things really start to register. He's kissing Ethan, he's kissing Ethan. He's. Kissing. Ethan. He feels like this should bother him, at least a little, but it feels infinitely more amazing than anything else he's ever done. It's better than when Erica kissed him, better than that whole stupid love potion fiasco because this is actually real.
Ethan buries a hand in his hair and hauls him in closer, turning the kiss from soft and gentle to one more intense. Benny's hands settle awkwardly on Ethan's hips – he doesn't really know what he's supposed to do with them, honestly – and lets his tongue slip into his best friends mouth. Ethan makes this noise that Benny really, really wants to hear again and when he bites down lightly on the shorter boy's lower lip, he is so rewarded. He's pretty sure he could kiss Ethan for forever and not get sick of it.
But, he can't do that.
At least not right now.
"Ethan," he says, breaking away from the kiss and why the hell is he doing that? "Ethan. Wait. Nothing else, no more kissing. Not until the magic wears off and you can tell me you still want this. Okay? E?"
He looks more than a little spaced out by the sudden interruption in the amazingly awesome making out, but he nods slowly in agreement. "I'll still want you then. I've liked you for forever, Benny. You and your giant elf mouth."
By noon, the spell has worn off, and Benny and Ethan are both completely passed out in Ethan's bed. Benny wakes first, but he doesn't really remember coming back upstairs, but he was so tired he's not actually sure that's surprising. He's got an arm curled around Ethan's chest and the other boy is curled up against him. He'd be lying if he said he didn't like waking up like this.
"E," he says cautiously, "you awake?"
"Mm," comes Ethan's response as he slowly returns to full consciousness. "Benny? What? Why does my head hurt?"
"What do you remember?"
Ethan sits up slowly, a hand braced against the side of his head. "I, ugh, you were practicing spells? And then… stars? You kissed me and why were we playing Airplane? And you, wait… you kissed me? Oh, God. I said I loved you and you kissed me." He looks something like a cross between embarrassed and mortified by this realization.
"Do you remember why I stopped the kissing?" Benny's a little terrified of Ethan not remembering, or not feeling the same now that he's not under the influence of his terrible, terrible magic. "Ethan?"
"Ugh. You said… You said I had to tell you if I still felt the same. After the magic wore off? Why was there magic?"
Benny could have done without that question. "I was practicing spells. And kind of missed. But, that's not important, because you're back to normal now. Finally. Can we, ugh, can we focus on the important question, though. The 'do you feel the same' one?"
In response Ethan opts for a non-verbal approach because something tells him he's been entirely too talkative for entirely too long. He closes the minimal amount of space between them and this time he's the one initiating the kissing. This answers Benny's question pretty effectively.
He finds himself suitably distracted, but Benny still mumbles out a barely audible "good. Me, too," against the other boy's lips as he curls his fists into the well-worn material of Ethan's t-shirt. And it's Benny who takes the initiative to break the kiss and move his way down Ethan's neck, finding a spot that makes him make that noise from earlier again. And he doesn't really know what he's doing at all, really, but he sucks at the patch of skin for a few seconds and absently wonders if it was long enough to leave a mark. He kind of hopes it does.
"Benny," Ethan whines, arms curling around Benny's frame and keeping him close as he tries to restart the actual kissing.
"Alright, alright," he laughs and reclaims Ethan's mouth, this time letting his tongue press against the other boy's lips in a silent request that is easily accepted.
At some point, they end up shifting so that Benny's hovering over Ethan who's lying down. There's more kissing and some wandering hands and some awkward 'what do I do with my hands?' moments.
Ethan pauses enough to break the kiss as a perplexed look crosses his face. "Why do I remember you threatening to tie me up…?"
"Because I threatened to tie you up?" At Ethan's less than satisfied response, Benny attempts to avoid actual conversation and get back to the awesomeness that is making out with Ethan. "Whatever. Me and my giant elf mouth will make good on that threat some other time."