Part 4 – Witches

I drifted slowly to consciousness, and turned to look at my clock, worried that I’d slept past the alarm.  Instead, I realized that it was a full hour before I would normally wake up.

Running the events of last night through my mind, I realized why I was so remarkably well rested.  I remembered Erik playing with my nipples, and the crazy sense of fire it brought up inside me.  Realizing the effect, he’d rather forcefully pushed me onto my bed, and we’d had a pretty wild time.

I’d enjoyed it thoroughly, and if orgasms like that were going to be a common thing, this whole magic deal could be pretty awesome.  I’ve only had sex a couple times before I’d done it with Erik, but I’d fooled around with guys a handful of times, and gotten myself off plenty.  That was the first time I’d ever orgasmed so hard I’d actually passed out.  I was pretty sure that wasn’t normal.

As I rolled over, my legs objected to the activity of the night before, but they’d learn to deal.  I threw off the covers, realizing that Erik and Stacey must have tucked me in.  I was naked from the waist down, and it felt strange to wake up without my skirt on.

I’d been thinking about that a lot yesterday, actually.  Every time I ran the thought through my head, wearing a skirt to bed seemed like the most natural thing in the world.  I’d talked to Stace about it, since she was now in on Erik’s little harem, and she’d assured me I was the only one.  She had at least mentioned that she could understand why he’d given me the command.

It felt so weird to know that Erik could alter my memories, and my thoughts, in such a complete manner.  It wasn’t even like it felt glued on, or like a foreign thought.  The entire thing felt completely natural.

The fact that I was ok having sex with him was part of the same set of commands, of course.  Even though I knew my parents had adopted him, I still mostly thought of him as a brother.  What we were doing would be pretty awkward, but I didn’t feel a thing about it.

I stood, not tired after the extended sleep, wanting to get a start on my day and maybe a little practice on my magic.  As I did, the shirt I was wearing shifted, and brushed up against my nipples.  The explosive burst of arousal made me gasp and I collapsed onto my bed.  Apparently, Stacey had left them set to high.

She would have to turn that off, there was no way that I could function with them like this.  I just hoped I could make it until she came to pick me up.  I summoned all the will I could, and pushed the arousal down.  After a moment, it subsided, and I was proud of myself for the accomplishment.

Being a lot more careful the second time I moved to stand, I managed to get out of bed.  I looked over at my desk, the book still sitting out where Stacey had last had it.  She and Erik must have decided to retire to his room, although it was pretty unlikely she would have spent the night again.  Even though her parents were really cool about that sort of thing, she would have wanted to head home.

I also noticed something else, sitting in a bag next to my desk, that I hadn’t remembered there the night before.  I reached over, grabbing the bag, and pulled out another book.  It was nowhere near as old as the unnamed book that had granted us our powers, but it still looked a little weathered.

The Inner World

It looked harmless enough, and a quick skim showed me that it must have been something that Erik had found to try and figure out more about our newfound abilities.  I realized I should probably help him with that, the story he’d told me about how the book had just been left for him seemed too good to be true.  I was now willing to believe that magic was real, but it wasn’t something that a stranger would just hand out without reason.

I glanced at the receipt and saw the name of the store at which he bought the book.  I figured I might check it out later, in case they had something that might help with my own powers.  Never hurts to diversify, and especially given that none of us could do anything without the book, a second source couldn’t hurt.

I’d tried using my magic the day before without the book, while Stacey was practicing, but nothing had happened.  I couldn’t even get the candle to spark to life, let alone play with the fire.  I figured Erik had a similar restriction, although since he’d already bound us, he could then command us at any time.  I supposed that gave him flexibility, in a way.

A sour smell filled my nostrils, and I realized just how much I smelled like last night’s sex.  A little disgusted by the smell, I decided it was time to wash off the activity.  I opened my door and glanced around, figuring I could make the dash to the bathroom half naked.  Nobody else was ever up this early.

I started the water running as I carefully removed my shirt.  I took a moment to examine myself in the mirror as the water warmed, checking to make sure that my breasts were, in fact, a bit bigger.  Stacey had been right that it was only up by about half a cup, but it was a start.  Erik had spoken the truth, of course, I had been a little ashamed of my breasts before, and so I was glad that they’d be a bit bigger.  Once Stacey finished taking them up to a C cup, I really would be a hot little firecracker.

I giggled as I remembered Erik’s nickname for me yesterday.  It seemed appropriate.  No shame in taking a little pleasure at my good looks, especially in private.

Stepping into the shower, I let the water run down my back first, enjoying the feeling of hot water starting to wash away the past.  I carefully wet my hand, and let some water drip onto one of my breasts, letting it glide down and over my nipple.  Thankfully, the sensation wasn’t too unbearable.  I wouldn’t be fully washing my newfound assets this morning, but at least I wouldn’t have to worry about passing out the first time the water hit them.

I grabbed the body wash and washcloth and started my usual routine, top down.  Zoning out, I went through the familiar ritual.  I finally made it to the halfway point and went to start lathering my crotch hair, when I noticed that something was wrong.

Something was missing.

All the hair from my nether region was gone.  I bent over and looked down, and confirmed what my hands had been telling me.  All the hair was just gone.  It wasn’t even like a really close shave, or when I cleaned up my bikini lines, I was completely bald.

I ran my hand down my leg, and checked the rest of me, and my legs were completely smooth as well.  There wasn’t even any stubble, and there were no bumps or burn that could indicate I’d shaved and not remembered.

Looking at my stomach, I saw that even the tiny bit of hair I knew about up there was gone.  I double checked, since it was so light you couldn’t see it if you weren’t looking, but it wasn’t there.

I reached up and jammed my hand into my armpit.  I hadn’t been paying attention, since I’d had the washcloth, but sure enough, my pits were likewise bare.  After a full inventory, the only hair on me that wasn’t on my head was the extremely light hair on my arms.

Everything else was completely bald.  What the hell happened?

Stacey!  I remembered she’d said something to Erik last night, before things got really heated.  She’d joked that she’d included something more, even beyond my nipples.  Apparently, she’d used her powers to strip off all my hair.

I sat down in the shower, leaning against the wall of the combination bathtub. My breathing started to get ragged, and I wasn’t quite sure what was happening.  There was a burning sensation in my eyes, and it took me a moment to realize that I was starting to cry.  Why was I starting to cry?

All Stacey had done was remove my hair, that’s nothing worse than a little practical joke, and in fact if she’d asked me, I’d have been all for it.  Maybe not quite so thoroughly, but who wants to shave their legs every week?

Then it hit me.  It wasn’t just the hair.  That had just been the last straw.  I looked down at my nipples, which were currently set to ultra-high, and I realized that what had me so upset was the fact that there was nothing I could do to change it on my own.  Unless Stacey turned the effect off, my nipples could end up being ultra-sensitive forever.  What if she hadn’t just been messing around with me, and hadn’t been my friend, and done something horrible, like twisting my body into a malformed shape.

What if Erik wasn’t the kind of person to just use his mental manipulation to have a little fun?

I shuddered at the thought.  I knew Erik and Stacey weren’t the problem.  As far as I could tell, Erik had held up his promise and kept his control reasonable.  Stacey probably just thought it was a joke, and hadn’t intended for me to freak out about it all.  It wasn’t what they’d done that bothered me, it was the fact that I was so utterly helpless to stop them that had me upset.

My power consisted of being able to play with fire.  If I ever had to stop them, my only option would be to ignite them.  It hit hard that my only way of saying no forcefully was something violent.

Plus, somebody had left the book for Erik to find.  That meant there were other people out there who had powers.  What would I do to defend myself if some guy at school snuck one of my hairs and bound me, and just wanted some blow-up sex doll?  I’d be helpless, and he’d probably be way worse than Erik.

I thought back to the book I’d found in my room this morning.  Maybe I should pay a visit to that shop, and see if I could find something that would help me defend myself.  That started to sound like a really good idea.

Standing up, I finished my shower, my mind a lot heavier than it had been a moment before.  Turning around, I let the water run over my head, my long-time go-to pose for comforting myself.  The feeling of the water, splashing down hard on the top of my head before it ran in countless rivers down my hair and body, had this awesome soothing effect.

While I wasn’t feeling good, I’d at least pulled myself back up to neutral by the time I turned off the water and stepped out.  I wrapped my towel around myself and retreated to the bedroom.

I spent a little while flipping through the old book, trying to find if it said anything about resisting bindings, but nothing seemed to come up.  I found the section that Erik must have used about sacrifices, and a quick skim told me that body parts are really valuable when it comes to magic.  If you had a piece of somebody, you could do all sorts of things to people and there wouldn’t be much they could do to resist.

Maybe I should give Stacey some of my hair in a locket or something.  At least then I could shoot her a text message to turn off effects she might have forgotten about.  Also, I should leave an emergency supply for Erik too, in case anything happened.  At least then he’d be able to do what he needed.

I looked down at my brush, and made a point of cleaning off all the hairs on it, since Stacey had used it as well.  That task done, I started running it through my hair, working out the various kinks and getting ready for the day.  There were more than a few stuck to it when I was done, and I peeled them off and looked around for somewhere safe to deposit them.  The best I could find was a sandwich bag I’d brought up but not used, but that seemed good enough.

There was a black permanent marker in my desk, so I grabbed it and wrote “For Emergencies Only” on the bag.  I underlined the words as well.

It was the best I could do, but I at least felt I’d done something.  I needed to get to that store and find out about more serious protection.

I started digging through my closet, looking for something to wear.  I found my softest bra, and put it on, glad that it didn’t seem to irritate me too much.  I even forced a smile about how tight it was.  I would need bigger bras soon.

Not feeling anywhere near as sexy as before, I grabbed a pair of panties and my favorite pair of jeans, sliding both up my legs.  I finished with just a plain tee shirt, not really feeling like aiming higher.  I grabbed a hoody and wrapped it around my shoulders, stopping the zipper halfway like I usually did, before I realized that would probably cause the fabric to rub the wrong way.  I finished zipping it, knowing I probably looked a little less put together than my usual.

Still, I was dressed, and that was the most important part.  I grabbed the book, put it into my backpack, and went out the door, heading down to the kitchen.  When I got there, I found an unusual sight.  Erik was making pancakes.  I put my bag down and sat at the table, since he’d put out two plates already, and I figured one was for me.

Even though I was still feeling kind of bummed, now that I was smelling food, I realized that I was actually really hungry.  In fact, surprisingly so.  I heard a beep from the kitchen and realized I was also smelling bacon, and my mouth started to water.

“Hey Casey, nice to see you up.”  Erik called from the kitchen, after he noticed me.

“Hey.”  I called back, not really sure what to say.

Apparently, he picked up on the lack of enthusiasm, and stuck his head around the corner.  Not really sure what else to do, I raised a hand and gave a half-hearted wave.  He narrowed his eyes, but didn’t say anything, instead returning to his work.

He came out a couple minutes later, a plate stacked full in his hand.  He set it down in front of me, and stood, giving me a look.

Since I didn’t feel like talking, I grabbed half the pancakes and bacon, and started shoveling into my mouth.  I was actually reaching for another piece of bacon before I even realized that I’d eaten everything I’d taken for myself.

“Wow Casey, you’re really hungry this morning.”

I nodded.  “Yeah.  Dunno why.”

“Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you’re now a growing girl?”

I looked up, and the expression on his face told me that he was hoping the joke would lighten the mood.  I gave him a smile, trying to at least let him know that I appreciated the effort.

Erik’s shoulders sagged.  “Ok, something’s clearly bothering you.  Am I being too boyfriend/girlfriend?  I figured making you breakfast would be good, and I remembered what you said about making sure you knew I appreciated your company.”

I looked over at him.  I actually hadn’t thought about it.  He was right that our relationship was weird, in that we had sex, and it wasn’t meaningless, but we weren’t dating.

I shook my head.  That wasn’t what was bothering me.

“Then what?”

I spent a while searching for the words.  Finally, I settled on something simple.

“Just, I dunno.  Feeling helpless.”

Erik raised an eyebrow.

I sighed.  “Look, I know you wouldn’t ever use your mind mojo to do something mean, or hurtful, or anything, but what if you didn’t have that restraint?  What if you got really angry and said something mean, like, ‘If you’re going to tease me, then fine, you can’t orgasm ever again’ or something.  Or you misspoke and made me forget something really important, or that I really cared about.  There wouldn’t be anything I could do to stop it.”

He nodded, thinking about what I said.  Since I was venting, I decided to continue.

“Or Stacey, she can change people’s bodies.  How would you feel if she got mad at you and made it so you couldn’t get an erection ever again, or made it tiny?”

“Well, I could just make her undo it, but I get why you’re worried about yourself.”

“What if she made it so you couldn’t talk?”

He thought about that for a moment.  “Shit.  You’re right.”

I made a point of stopping and eating a few bites.  I really was very hungry.

“I just.  I’m just worried that maybe we should have some way to defend ourselves, to keep accidents from happening or things from getting out of hand.  Or worse, what if whoever gave you the book gave them to other people.  What if somebody at school decided I was going to be his new girlfriend and didn’t give me any say in the matter, what then?”

Erik stood and walked around the table.  He put a hand on my shoulder, and I reached up to cover his hand with mine.

“I’m trying to find out more about the books, and I’d appreciate your help with it, Casey.”

I nodded.  “Yeah, I found your other book.  I figure I might stop by that place and see if they have anything.  I’m not saying I don’t want you to be able to use your powers to help me have a little fun, but we need some way to deal with people who might not have such innocent uses in mind.”

Erik laughed.  “Right, because sleeping with my little sister is totally innocent.”

I looked over at him, wanting to be angry that he wasn’t taking what I said seriously, but then I realized he was just trying to make me feel better.  After a moment of trying to stay mad, I joined in.

“Well, you are a guy.  It’s all you think about.”

Erik put a hand on one hip.  “Recent history shows it’s all you think about too.”

I shook my head.  “Nope.  I also think about shoes, and clothes, and shopping, and makeup.  You know, important stuff.”  I gave the most fake giggle I could muster.

Erik and I both shared a laugh at that one.  I was glad he’d managed to pull me out of my funk.

I made a point of double checking my hoodie, making sure that it was zipped halfway.  I liked having my jackets open that way, and now that my girls were a bit more worth showing off, I wanted to draw attention to them.

Stacey had practically cried when I told her about my morning, and spent a solid ten minutes apologizing for forgetting to turn off that modification.  I knew she hadn’t meant it to get out of hand, but I was glad she understood my concern.  In the end, she promised that she’d make sure that everything she did would either wear off, or could be turned off by me somehow.

When she’d asked what she could do to make it up to me, I’d told her to give me a ride to the bookstore that Erik had visited.   I wanted to see if there was a charm or something that might help me.

The store looked like it came out of any number of television shows or movies.  It was dusty, a little cramped, and didn’t let in as much light as it really should have.  I spent a while browsing around, looking at the various items that were on display.  A lot of the stuff looked like junk to attract the attention of teenage girls, so I knew I’d have to be careful.

I was sure they got a lot of girls my age in looking for something that would make their skin clear, or help them get back at the school’s queen bee.

“Can I help you?”

I turned to look at the person behind the counter.  She was pretty young, maybe about two or three years older than me, with black hair that cascaded down her back.  She was also wearing a black tee shirt, and dark makeup.  Overall, she looked a bit like a Goth, but not one of the ones who went so overboard to try and freak other people out with it.

Probably the most interesting thing about her were her eyes.  They were this awesome looking green color.  She had this really intense look to her face, which I was sure most people read as harsh but I could see she was just being attentive.  I imagined if she smiled, she’d be a lot prettier.

Of course, right now, she had turned her gaze on me and was almost staring.  I realized that I’d been doing the same, and shook my head to break the gaze.  It had almost been like she was staring through me.  I reached up and scratched my head behind my ear.

“Um, yeah.  Hey, so, this may sound kind of strange…” I let my voice trail off.  I was actually nervous, so that helped, but I didn’t want to let out that I fully believed what I was about to say.

“Well, ok.  So, for the last few months, I was dating this guy.  He was ok, not a huge jerk, but I caught him making out with one of my friends, so I dumped him.  I thought I was over him, but now I’m starting to think about him again.  Every night for the last week, I’ve had a dream about this guy, and they’re getting a little… well… private.  If you know what I mean.  Anyway, I was thinking I was just being weird, but then I remembered this one time I was in his room, he had this book, and on the cover it talked about going into other people’s dreams.”

I sighed, theatrically.  “I guess what I’m saying is I’m wondering if you might have something that might keep him out?  You know, if it’s him?  Like if I try it, and it keeps happening, I dunno, maybe I’m actually just willing to forgive him.  I mean, it was just one time, and everybody gets tempted.  But still, I want to make sure it’s my choice.”  I looked up at her.  “I’m crazy, aren’t I?”

She shook her head, her eyes on me, but her previously harsh gaze softened slightly.

“No, I think I know what you’re talking about.  A lot of guys can have a hard time letting go, so they can do all sorts of stupid things.”  She walked around the counter.  “You like making things?”

I cocked my head.  “You mean like arts and crafts sort of things?”

She nodded.  “Pretty much.”  The girl squatted, and pulled aside a door, reaching in and pulling out a spiral notebook.  It hadn’t been something I’d expected, given what Erik had gotten when he was here, but I was curious none-the-less.

Standing, she walked over to the counter, and opened the book.  Many of the pages had diagrams and figures on them, but a lot of them looked to be drawings of handmade talismans and charms.

“You look troubled, and that’s why I’m going to give this to you.  My sister got this a few years ago, when she was having some problems.  Actually, they were pretty similar to what you described.  Anyway, she made a couple of the things in here, and it turned out that they worked pretty well.”

The girl turned and looked around the room, before walking over and grabbing another book off the shelf.  This one looked a bit more like what I was expecting.

“Use this, I recommend you read through it.  A lot of the stuff in here is crap, so if that says something, believe it first.”  She pointed to the spiral notebook.  “Still, what this does have is a lot of good theory and ideas.  It takes a bit to get used to building charms, but they can be pretty effective once you know what you’re doing.”

I looked around, a little unsure.  “Wait, you said you were going to give this to me.  You mean I don’t have to pay?”

She shook her head.  “Nope.  This kind of stuff should be given freely.  All I ask is that if you figure anything out, right it down, maybe bring a copy back here for my sister and me.  Once you’re done with the book, find somebody else who needs it and give it to her.”

I scratched my head, this time in actual confusion.  “But, why?”

She smiled.  “Because I can see you need it.”  She looked over my shoulder, and I turned, but didn’t see anybody or anything.  She laughed.

I was starting to get a little nervous.

“Relax.  It’s pretty weak, I’m sure you’ll find something in here that will do what you need.  Afterward, take a look.  You don’t seem to be as much of a silly girl as you’re trying to pretend, so I think you’ll find that what you can see when you really look can be worth the experience.”

Now I was really curious just how much this girl knew.  I wanted to ask her about the book, and to maybe try and show her my fire powers, but that would be a huge risk I really shouldn’t take.  Instead, I needed to get out of here, maybe try looking through this stuff, and see if it worked.  She could just be messing with me, or crazy herself, and if I told her about the book it would just make things complicated.

Finally, I decided to settle on just keeping things simple.

“Well, thank you.  I really appreciate it.  This morning it felt a little like I was losing my mind, since I kept thinking about my ex.  He was a decent enough guy, maybe.  I guess if I think he’d do this, maybe not.”

She smiled.  “If he really did send what’s following you, he’s not exactly screaming in your ears or anything.  Maybe he just wants you to think of him a little, and see where things go.  Either way, block him out, then let your heart decide.  I know it might not be my place, but if he was just kissing your friend, he might be worth a second chance.  People make mistakes.”

The look on her face let me know that there was probably a long story behind that comment, but I wasn’t going to be hearing it today.

I nodded.  “Makes sense.  I mean, I’ve already forgiven my friend, after all.”  I looked up and smiled.  “Anyway, I gotta run.  My friend, er, a different friend, is waiting in the car.”

She looked up and smiled, before nodding herself.  “I understand.  If you have any questions, feel free to come back.  My sister is working more than I do, but just tell her about the book and she’ll help where she can.  And good luck.”

I nodded, and turned to leave.

It turned out I was right.  When she smiled and wasn’t glaring, she was pretty.

“Hey Case, you’re getting pretty good at that.”

I winked at Stacey, before I flicked my finger, sending the flame I’d plucked off the nearby candle across the patio into the flower pot I’d set up as a target.  Thankfully, her back patio was entirely made of concrete, so if I missed, odds were good nothing would end up catching fire.  We’d sprayed down the bushes to further prevent any mishaps.

Stacey and I had made a point of practicing every day after school, myself learning to control the fire with more skill, her modifying her own body to just learn the intricacies of how her powers worked.  She’d promised to not experiment on me again, but I told her I’d forgiven her.  Still, it was nice to know she wasn’t going to go overboard.

I’d actually asked her to give me a sensitivity increase yesterday before I left, since Erik had asked if we could make some time for a little more fun.  I’d gotten so wrapped up with practicing that I’d let things between us take a back burner, and wanted to change that.  Erik hadn’t objected when I’d snuck into his room while he was in the restroom and slipped into his bed.  When he’d gotten back, I’d showed him a good time, Stacey’s magic treating me to a half dozen little explosions as well.

Tonight, however, it was easy to go all-out practicing, since Erik had a work thing to attend, so he wouldn’t be home missing his two companions.

Stacey was currently sitting on the patio behind me, doing something with her hair to make it longer.  I’d talked to her about how hungry I’d been, and she said it made sense.  She was currently downing about three times her usual amount of food, just to help fuel her experiments.  I’d joked with her that she must be spending hours pooping, and she’d shot me a dirty look.  Apparently, she had.

“So what are you thinking of for the weekend?”  I turned and looked at Stacey as she finished pulling on her hair.  It looked to be about six inches longer.

She let her hair go, and it fell around her shoulders.  “I dunno.  How’s Erik doing?”

I shrugged.  “He seemed more than happy to have a go last night.  We should probably do something for him over the weekend though.  I think he’d like another chance to have both his girls at once.”

Stacey smiled at that.  It was still weird that she was so comfortable with the thought of a three way.

“I’m just surprised I’m not more jealous of the fact that he’s sleeping with you too.  I’m not that kind of girl.”  I looked over at Stacey, who nodded in agreement.  “Why aren’t you more upset that he’s sleeping with two girls?”

She thought about that for a moment.  “I guess because I’m having sex with you too.”

I laughed in response to that.  “I guess there is that.  When you keep it among friends, I suppose it doesn’t really seem like cheating.”

Raising my hand to the candle, I spoke the word softly to bring it to life.  The flame instantly responded, and I grabbed it, holding it in my hand for a moment before bringing it close to my chest.  My nipples were still sensitive from yesterday, so I could feel the heat through my clothing, and it send warm tingles through me.

“I’ve created a sex addict, haven’t I?  Don’t make me turn that off, Case.”

I smiled over at Stacey, before flicking the fire away from me again.  “Nah, I blame Erik for turning me into the sex addict.  I mean, four times in a week?  Come on, that can’t be healthy.”

Stacey laughed, but shook her head.  “Only twice here.”

“We’ll just have to make sure he does you extra good over the weekend.  You won’t be able to walk for a week.”

She snorted.  “That’s not really possible.  Magic fingers do wonders for sore muscles.”

I joined in as she laughed.  It was fun to be able to talk with her so openly about the changes to our lives.  Even though Erik had broken everything normal into a million little pieces, I still had my best friend.

“Well, maybe you might be willing to use those magic fingers a little on me before I head home tonight?”  I looked over at her and raised my eyebrows.

“Yup, he’s totally turned you into a total pervert.”  Stacey smiled.  “But I think we can come to terms.”

I returned her smile, before returning to my practicing.  I was on a roll, and didn’t want to stop.  Pushing my limits on the next flame I sent forward, I concentrated, attempting to stop it in midair as it flew.  Something went wrong, and instead it did a complete reversal, flying back toward me.  I twisted out of the way, but it still hit my arm, and I felt a spike of pain shoot through me.

“Gah.”  I hissed as I fell to my knees, curling up into a ball.  My eyes began to sting as pain shot through me in angry waves.

Stacey was beside me in an instant, her hand on my arm, turning it to try and get a good look.  I held it away from her, the pain too intense to relax enough for her to pull my arm away.

She muttered something, and my arm went limp, the pain cutting off almost completely.  I looked down as she turned my arm over, taking a look at the wound.  She gasped as she saw just how bad it was.

“Casey, what the hell!  A little candle shouldn’t be able to cause this.”

Whatever she had done hadn’t been enough to block the pain completely, and I could feel it starting to rise up my arm.

“Just a candle flame can’t be flicked.  I heat them up and strengthen them.”

“Just how hot are we talking?”

“I dunno.”  I lied.  I knew exactly how hot it was.  I’d been experimenting with trying to get it as hot as possible.  That last one would have been around two thousand degrees.  What Stacey was forgetting was that a candle flame couldn’t hurt me.  I could stick my hand into a small fireball and wouldn’t feel a thing.  I’d been playing around with making super-hot point fires, which meant that the air around that ball would have slammed into my skin and caused some serious damage.

I watched as she laid her hand next to the wound, closing her eyes and muttering.  I watched as my skin began to flake away, and fluid began to seep out of the wound.  At that point, it was too much for me, so I closed my eyes as well.  Whatever Stacey was going to do, I didn’t think I could watch.

After a few seconds, the pain creeping up my shoulder stopped, before starting to recede.  The rest of my body suddenly started to feel cold, and tired, and it felt as if all the energy in me was being sapped into my still numbed arm.  Feeling began to come back slowly, and with it the pain, but it was nowhere near as intense as it had been before.

When I opened my eyes, the wound had scabbed and blistered over, and most of the surrounding damage had lessened as well.

I expected her to finish healing everything as good as new, but Stacey instead dropped my arm, hers going limp, as she slumped back against the wall of the house, gasping and panting.

“Shit, Stacey, are you ok?”

I looked at her face, nervous that she’d done something too much, but a moment later she nodded, slightly.

“Yeah.  I’ll be ok.”  She gasped out.

She sounded dry as hell, so I bolted up and into the house to grab her something to drink.  When I got back, I held it up to her lips, and she drank greedily.  Since she’d drained the glass in one go, I ran back inside and got her a refill, which she went through a bit more slowly.

“Stacey, what happened?”

Stacey panted for a moment, still needing to catch her breath.

“There was a lot of damage, and I had to stop everything from dying before it got too far.”

I didn’t understand.  “But… you made my boobs bigger, hell, you were growing out your hair.  What’s a little burn?  You looked like you were about to keel over.”

She looked over at me.  “Your breasts, and my hair, are both designed to do that.  Yours might have stopped growing, but they were just waiting for the hormone signal to tell them to start again.  Hair’s the same way, growing is something that it was supposed to do.  Casey, your arm was dying.  You probably would have lost it.”

“Shit.”  I hadn’t realized it was so bad, but Stacey would know, if anybody.  I couldn’t believe how lucky I’d been that she was around.  If I didn’t have her as a friend, I’d be spending the rest of my life down an arm.

I felt a different kind of tears start to form in the corners of my eyes, and before I could stop myself, I leaned over and gave her a full on kiss on the lips.  She was startled at first, but didn’t fight me off, letting me keep going.  I didn’t try to put my tongue in her mouth or anything, but I wanted her to know just how grateful I was.

“What was that for?”  She asked, when I finally pulled away.  Apparently, the message hadn’t been as clear on her end.

“Just making sure you knew how much I cared about you.”  I sat down next to her, my good arm tightly against her.  I really felt like I needed to be close to her right now.

She didn’t say anything in response, so we sat there, quiet, for a few minutes.  Both of us needed time to let our bodies wind down from the extreme adrenaline rush we’d just unleashed in ourselves.

Finally, Stacey broke the silence.  “Hey Casey, what are we?”

I turned to look at her, confused.  “Huh?”

She paused a moment, as if to figure out the way to say what she wanted to.

“My best friend never would have given me a thank-you kiss before.”

I froze.  Had I upset her somehow?

“Was that bad?”

She shook her head.  “No.  I liked it.  But what does that make us?  Friends? Really good friends?  Fuck buddies?  I mean, I ate you out.”

“What brought this out so suddenly?  It’s been almost a week since then.”

Stacey wrapped an arm around me, and pulled me close.

“I just suddenly realized how much I’d hate to lose you.  In my mind, I thought that I’d be losing my best friend, but then I realized just how much else we’ve done recently, so it got me thinking.”

I nodded.  “Yeah, I get what you mean.  I just don’t quite know the answer.  I like to think we’re more than friends, but we’re not girlfriends or anything.  I don’t feel a burning need to take you out to dinner or anything.”

Stacey thought about that for a moment.  “Me neither.  But I would still like to, you know, have fun.  Is that ok?”

I turned to her, nodding frantically.  “Hell yeah.  I can’t wait for the next time we get to do something, with or without my brother.”  I paused for a moment.  “We’re not girlfriends, but we’re not friends either.  We’re partners.  How’s that sound?”

She turned to me and smiled.  “Partners works.  I like partners.”

“Good, because this bad little fire starter totally needs a good witch at her back to get her out of trouble.”

Stacey laughed, and I was glad to see her happy.  Just because I didn’t consider her my girlfriend didn’t mean I didn’t want to see her happy.

The fact that I didn’t consider her my girlfriend got me thinking.

“So what about Erik?”

She didn’t know what I meant.  “Huh?”

“If we aren’t girlfriends, what are Erik and I?  I mean, I don’t think he considers me his girlfriend, and I sure don’t think of him as my boyfriend.  He’s just, you know.  Fun.”

Stacey nodded.  “Yeah, he needs a girlfriend.”

I looked up at her.  “You volunteering?”  She’d had a thing for him, once.  Maybe what had happened recently had reawakened those feelings.

After a moment’s reflection, she shrugged.  “Maybe.  But I’m not sure, either.  It would feel kind of awkward to be this close to you and be actually dating your brother too.”

“So you’re comfortable having a three way if there’s no emotion behind it?”

She thumped me lightly on my good arm.  “Come on Case, you know it’s more complicated than that.”

I nodded.  “Yeah.  Some days, I wonder if it would be easier if he just made us mindless sex zombies, or love-sick puppies.  Then we wouldn’t have to deal with the confusion.  But I am glad he didn’t make me all lovey-dovey.”

She pulled me close, and nipped at my ear.  “Casey, you’d be boring if you were like that, although you’re already loyal enough to be a puppy, just not the love sick kind.  Also, you wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fun as a zombie.  Although I suppose you’d get into a lot less trouble.”

I laughed, and pulled away, reaching down to tickle her stomach lightly.  Now that I didn’t have to worry about our relationship, I could just do whatever came naturally and consider everything else to just be details.

“So, we’ll show him a good time this weekend?  And maybe get him a real girlfriend?  One he’ll have to sell on the idea of dating him while he has at least two fuck buddies?”

I turned to Stacey and laughed.  “Yeah.  As you may have heard, my brother has some mysterious powers of persuasion.  I’m sure he can sell her on the idea.”

Standing, I walked over to the candle.  I heard Stacey getting to her feet behind me.  I wanted to make sure that I didn’t end the evening on a bad note when it came to my powers.  Even though I’d burned myself, I knew it was my own fault, and as long as I didn’t intensify the flame, it wouldn’t be able to hurt me.  I set my hand gently on the book, which was still sitting on the table where Stacey and I had been sharing it earlier.

“Brennen.”

The flame shot to life in response to my command.  I reached over and plucked it off the candle, holding it between my fingers.

“Casey!”  Stacey called out my name from behind me, a hint of panic to her voice.

“Relax, Stace, I’m not making it hot.  It can’t hurt me.”  I reached my other hand up.  “Washen.”  The flame grew in my hand, expanding first to a softball, then doubling in size to be as large as I’d envisioned it.

“Casey!”  Stacey was sounding almost frantic.

“Relax, it’s not hot.  See, unless I make it hotter, it can’t do anything to me.”  To show her my point, I plunged my hand into the fire, before turning around to show her.  It barely even tickled.

“See?”

Stacey didn’t see at all, mostly because she wasn’t looking in my direction.  Instead, she was looking at the door into the house.  I followed her gaze, and a moment later realized why she’d been trying to get my attention.

My hand was still up to the wrist inside the fire I was holding as Stacey’s sister Laura started to scream.