"Come on," Faye says with a sigh, one finger twirling around the ends of her hair, the air of boredom apparent. "It's just us. No one will care."
Adam shakes his head, the disbelief coming clear.
"Last time you played with fire the school almost burned down."
"That was last time," she shoots back falling into a seat on the floor, directly across from the candle lit in front of him, an open palm reaching out to tease the flame. "Besides, you're here. You won't let it get out of control, now will you?"
His eyes narrow, the pro's and cons volleying back and forth in his mind, but Faye knows he'll cave eventually. He's never been very good at saying no to her. Even if she occasionally cheats with a bat of her lashes.
"Fine," he says, pushing aside the book of demons our lady of darkness managed to con off her sorcerer supreme of a deadbeat dad. "What did you have in mind?"
Reaching for both of his hands, she tells him to concentrate on the lit candle between them.
"Fire and heat," she starts, eyes reflective of the flame. "Dance for me."
It takes repeating the mantra twice for Adam to catch on and join, but once he does the orange yellow hue begins to form an image. A man and a woman with hands clasped together, slowly spinning to a song they begin to hear. The image grows bigger the more they concentrate, hearts suddenly in beat with the tune, as Faye notices how old the clothes on the dancers are. Like something she saw in a movie once, a grand ball in some royal court.
She and Adam keep staring, the dancers keep dancing, as the flame flickers and burns.
Only when Melissa shows up to check on her plants with Cassie in tow, does the image fade away, the flame dying down to normal.
"What was that?" Melissa asks the same time as Cassie tosses out "What are you doing?"
Adam only shrugs.
Faye can't stop smiling.
The thing most don't know, or have forgotten if they did, is that Faye has known Adam the longest.
Yes they're all the same age, same grade, whatever. But out of the circle, they were the only two in the same kindergarten class, paired up due to alphabetical kinship. Chamberlain-Conant. The teacher made them say hello, and tell each other something about themselves.
Faye told him about the dock at her grandfathers lake house. Adam said he lived on a boat.
But he always shared his crayons. Told her funny stories. Made sure she got the red car she loved at playtime.
And when her mom suggested she invite her classmates to her birthday party, he was the first person she gave an invitation to, but that didn't make them friends or anything.
He was just the boy she sat next to at school.
She sits on a stool at the bar of the Boathouse.
Playing with her phone while Adam turns all the chairs up to sweep under the tables. Melissa is off with Diana planning for the next overzealous school function, her mom isn't home, and she's only here because the thought of sitting alone in her empty house wishing she could do a spell on on her own is so depressing she might as well throw herself off a bridge.
Adam is noticeably more willing to play with their power now that he's not tethered to a high and mighty control freak, or following around dark magic Skipper like a lost little puppy. Proving once again how right she can be in retrospect. How is he better off without Cassie to fawn over or throw himself in front of a bus for.
God, the guy hasn't been without a girlfriend since seventh grade. How screwed up is that?
Finally done with his chore, he walks over to her, leaning with his back against the bar.
"Not that I mind the company," he says, keeping his eyes focused purposely forward. "But I can think of a dozen other places you'd rather be than here, watching me clean up."
It's true. The fact the she is here isn't any less depressing that sitting home alone would have been. But he's mopey and she's kind of been mopey lately, so why the hell not? It isn't like they both have other friends so easy to reach these days. Ugh, how pathetic does she sound right now? This is ridiculous.
She grabs her bag without a word, heading straight for the door, not even the slightest bit surprised when he gives chase.
"I wasn't telling you to leave," he says, hand on her elbow. "I just-this isn't something we do, is it?"
Faye looks down at his hand. "What is it you think we're doing?"
"We don't exactly hang out, Faye."
"And whose fault is that?"
He doesn't have an answer. She doesn't leave.
"Want to do a spell?"
For a second she isn't sure she heard right, not expecting it to be that easy. She turns toward the window, looking out at the overcast night. No stars, no moon.
"Lightning flash," she says, focusing her thoughts. "Thunder boom."
Adam is a little quicker on the uptake this time, joining the mantra and standing next to her as electricity forks through the sky, thunder crashing just seconds later. It's addictive this feeling, this power, accomplishment coupled with the thrill that she can create anything, do anything.
Funny that she doesn't even notice their hands have somehow entwined.
Adam pretends he doesn't either.
They're best friends at an age where such a thing can be questioned.
Because boys are stupid and girls are gross.
She can see the exasperated look on her mother's face every time Adam knocks on the front door. Like it's just another one of those things Faye makes such a point about being different. He brings along Nick sometimes, but mainly it's just the two of them. Watching cartoons, endless rounds of tag or hide and seek in the backyard, that is probably just him making up for the fact that he doesn't have one.
Adam reads from all the books her mom had gotten and she hardly ever bothered with, in funny voices and play acts most of the action.
One day Mom has a friend over. His name is Charles, and is tall with eyes that try so hard to look kind, who has a daughter he's brought along with him. Faye knows her, Diana, the girl who raises her hand in class all the time just showing off.
Mom is so sure they'll be fast friends.
Faye is immediately rebuffed by how much Diana smiles. How nice she tries to be. How many interests she insists they have in common. It's too much too soon, and comes off so fake Faye can't help but try to bring the girl back to Earth.
Adam comes by one Saturday when Diana shows up with her own friend in tow. Melissa is a little shy at first, the quiet sort of girl, but Faye kind of likes that about her. Adam is friendly to both, annoyingly so, almost to the point where Faye wants to pull him aside and get it to stop.
"What?" He asks. "They're nice."
Faye knows the goo goo eyes when she sees them, and that's all Diana's been doing since she got here, but when she tells Adam he just laughs.
She absolutely hates the burning flush of embarrassment at the sound.
Almost as much as she hates the way Diana can't stop looking at him.
"You've been spending a lot of time with Adam lately," Melissa comments, as she blows cautiously onto her coffee.
"And?" Faye replies with a challenging arch of an eyebrow.
"Well, you and him aren't exactly besties."
Melissa sighs as she leans back into her seat, eyes finding Cassie who is on the other side of the shop running back and forth like the busy little bee.
"He's reeling from back to back break ups," she goes on. "One of them heart wrenching and the other tragic. I don't know what you're doing but-"
"No you don't," Faye interrupts, clinking her mug onto the table for emphasis. "But whatever it is must be helping, because he's not off crying in the rain somewhere or trying to punch out random hockey players."
Melissa looks down at her hands.
"It's just Adam, okay? He's sad. And as pathetic as I find the circumstances, it still sucks. So we hang out and maybe it sucks a little less."
"Yeah, still not the super slut everyone thinks. So do me a favor and don't act so surprised."
When Adam and Diana officially start 'going out' she doesn't talk to him for a week.
Something he might actually have noticed if his bossy, control freak of a girlfriend, hadn't pulled his puppet strings so hard with her feminine wiles. And no, she's not jealous no matter how many times Melissa tries to throw that ridiculous accusation in her face.
It's just that... They were...
She doesn't know.
Her and him, she and he, since they were little. Faye and Adam, the weird kids with single parents hardly anyone ever wanted to talk to. The texts on her phone are always informative of plans not involving her, or apologies for canceling the ones that do. The knocks on her front door become less and less frequent, before halting altogether.
It's stupid, sad, and she hate hate hates how it makes her feel. If she was the bitchy girl with an attitude before, the trait multiplies ten fold at Adam's sudden absence in her life.
Melissa is in the same boat with Diana, and the two pair up due to mutual abandonment and lack of an alternative.
She doesn't talk to Adam for nearly a year.
Not until Diana finds that book.
Later she's sitting on Adam's boat, staring blankly up at the night sky, when he emerges from down below with a glass in each hand.
"To what do I owe the pleasure this time?" he asks, handing her one.
"Boredom and desperation," she replies before taking a drink. "Your two most desirable attributes."
"Funny," he smirks, taking a sit on one of the chairs.
"Seriously," he starts after a beat, looking over to her. "I don't think we've spent this much time together since-"
"Since you ditched me for the promise of seven minutes in heaven and maybe some heavy petting?"
Brows furrow a half second before he tilts his head back to laugh.
"You always did hold a grudge."
"Yeah, I'm special that way."
He looks at her pointedly.
"I know what you've been doing."
"Oh really? Well, by all means enlighten me."
Smiling grimly, he looks away.
"I'm trying to say thank you."
She takes a drink before another catty remark comes spilling out, some of it goes down the wrong pipe, and ends up spitting most of it overboard. He gets up from his seat to pat her on the back, laughing at her stupidity, as she gasps trying to take in air.
"Sappy talk about feelings is not what we do," she says once she can breathe again, shifting slightly left because he's sitting a little too close.
"Then, what do we do?" He asks.
"It doesn't always have to be about that, you know."
She turns her head up to him, with a patented look that would wither any man, and bats her lashes one- two-three.
The concede to her request is inevitable.
He's never been very good at saying no to her.