Warnings: language warning, lack of editing warning.
In the movies, it’s romantic. Boy (or girl) realises they’re an asshole, boy (or girl) rushes to make amends. It’s always been my favourite part of the story, that moment you see that it’s not one-sided, that there might just be a happily ever after.
This? This isn’t romantic. It hurts. The sickest jokes, even the accidental ones, always hurt.
He stands just the way I wished he would, stands like the dashing hero I used to think he was, pounding on the door like his life depends on me throwing it open. Maybe it does. He’s standing like it’s taken every ounce of strength he’s ever had to show up and start the conversation, looks desperate in a way that’s just the bad side of wrong for the situation, though it’s easy enough to miss if you’re not looking.
So much is easy to miss if you’re not looking.
Like the way his hands are shaking, his left held tight at his side in a way that certainly can’t be comfortable. Like he doesn’t know what he’s meant to be doing with it, and is waiting for someone to let him know. It’ll cramp if he doesn’t move it soon, but he won’t.
Or the way he’s on my doorstep, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans like he hasn’t just walked through the snow to get here. He’s not even wearing shoes, just socks. Like he was sitting at home by the fire before the mad urge to run here struck him.
Or like he can’t feel anything but the all consuming need to be here.
His lip is bloody from being bitten, the only sign of his dissent, and he worries it between his teeth as he knocks. Is it fear of rejection, or does he know something is wrong? Is he fighting, and losing?
He’s breaking my fucking heart.
He pauses in his knocking a moment, stopping and resting his head against the screened door. He’s crying, shoulders shaking with sobs I can’t hear from upstairs. Or as I run downstairs to get to the door. You’d think my name was a prayer, the way he says it as he raises his head again, soft and low as a whisper as he meets my gaze. It would be easy, so easy, to open the door, and end this. So easy to throw myself into his waiting arms, to capture his lips and pretend the last weeks haven’t happened.
Gods, I want to.
It’s his eyes that stop me. I’ve spent far too long staring into those warm brown eyes not to notice the change. There’s a green glow to them, barely there in the dim light, easy to overlook if you haven’t spent a lifetime around witches and their games.
This? This isn’t him. This isn’t his choice. If I lay a finger on him, I’m just as guilty of stealing his free will as the witch who enslaved him. He’d have been here by now if he’d wanted to resolve things, surely. Five weeks, and nothing. But one night of drinking with my former best friend, and suddenly he’s banging on my door, deadened eyes glazed the wrong colour?
Oh, love. This isn’t what I wanted. And you’re never going to forgive me.
‘Andy? Andy, love, you need to go home. Sleep it off. Try again tomorrow, if you still feel you have to… please.’
It’s not going to work, and it’s stupid to try anyway. The problem with this kind of spell is that there’s no talking him down, no going off the script that she’s chosen. The script I told her I wished he’d use. I should know better than to drink and whine to witches. They have funny ideas about helpfulness. He shakes his head, a dog unable to get to the itch, to stop the pain. Like a man who has no idea what he’s hearing, only a desperate need to say what he’s been told to say. It’ll hurt him, eventually, if he doesn’t say it. What I want to do is throw open the screen, throw myself at his mercy, hug the living hell out of him and promise to get Cait to fix the damage she’s caused. But instead, I gesture for him to speak, the screen between us while I try and slow my heartbeat, and coax my brain into figuring out what the hell to do about all this.
‘Baby, I’m so, so sorry. Please, forgive me.’ He gestures, wide and wild, pacing outside my door, the safety screens making him look caged even though there’s nothing to hold him there. Nothing but her will, at least. ‘I was stupid, so stupid. I can see that now. I’m worthless, stupid. You’ve got no reason to forgive me, I don’t deserve it. I know I don’t. But please, please tell me there’s still hope.’ Trust Cait to ramp up the cheese factor, and add a touch of melodrama to the scene.
My fantasy had been far simpler: he arrives, we talk openly and honestly. A few hours of deep and meaningful, where he promises to do better and I promise the same. And then, we fuck until I can’t remember why we ever stopped. But then again, my fantasy had a lot more free will than the current reality has on offer. I just wanted him to love me, to stay, or at least tell me why he’d just suddenly abandoned me. I wanted to know why I was suddenly not good enough. Not this. Never this.
‘Why don’t you come inside? You must be freezing.’ He looks baffled at the idea of cold, like he’s never heard of snow before and has no clue how it’ll impact his body. But that’s the problem with toying with people- controlling them means controlling everything about them. He won’t remember to eat, to sleep, won’t even remember to go to the bathroom unless the witch controlling him specifically tells him to remember those kinds of things. And witches like Cait? They might love humans, but they’re not human enough to remember the finer details of tending to their pets.
One of many, many reasons this kind of magic is forbidden.
‘Come, Andy.’ He obeys, like a dog, like he’s bound to simple orders, made childlike by her interference. This? This isn’t Andy. This isn’t the man I love, but the broken shell my best friend left behind. I want to hide, and cry. Want to ask Andy what the hell to do, because fixing up random problems has always been his specialty more than mine. I don’t want to lead him like a pet into their new home.
‘Can I get you a drink? Something to eat?’ He follows me, silent, into the living room, sits at the couch I gesture to far more awkwardly than I’m used to seeing him move. Andy has always been graceful, but now, he falls into sitting like he’s never quite mastered the movements. Now, the person controlling his actions doesn’t know the first thing about working a human form, and it shows. He doesn’t answer, because he doesn’t know what the correct answer is. She hasn’t told him.
‘I just need to make a call, okay?’ He’s studying me, looking to see whether I’ve accepted the apology or not. ‘I just need a moment to think, alright? Just… don’t go anywhere. I’ll be back in a minute. Stay.‘ He doesn’t move as I bolt for my bedroom.
Oh, I’m gonna kill that damned witch.