Chapter 10 - Part 1

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When Desi returned from his car with the old pack of rolling papers he always kept in the glovebox, Casper was cross-legged on the floor, already at work.

He was using one of the ouija boards as a flat surface on the carpet, and on it he had a wrap of dried leaves, a black candle set in a messy holder covered in used wax, and a needle. He was also rummaging in an old Converse shoebox that Desi could see was filled to the brim with small bottles and bags, all herbal teas and dried plants. Desi smirked, the box reminding him too much of one of his own, hidden away in his closet for all of junior high, filled to the brim with smoking paraphernalia.

With the thought, Casper pulled out a grinder to add to the set up in front of him. "Cigarettes, in the drawer by my bed," he directed distractedly, still digging through the box, a fingernail between his teeth.

Desi collected the cigarettes obediently before joining Casper on the floor, a teasing comment as he handed them over. "I didn't take you for a druggie."

Casper lifted his dark eyes to offer a sharp look. "They're herbs, not drugs."

"Pot's a herb also," Desi countered, arching a brow. It didn't stop people from calling it a drug, though.

Casper hummed in agreement, retrieving a box of matches from the bottom of the herb stash. "And it was used for its healing powers just like other herbs for a long time. Marijuana has been a part of pagan rituals for centuries. It's our monotheist government that has demonized it as a dangerous narcotic."

Desi chuckled a little, surprised to find they agree on something, albeit slightly differing reasoning. "There's a lack of marijuana in your little herb box, though." He couldn't help sounding somewhat disappointed with this observation. It'd been a couple rough days and he could definitely use a hit to smooth his nerves.

Casper struck a match and lit the candle between them. "Illegal herbs are obviously more difficult to obtain. I've never exactly had the connections required." There was a particularly self-deprecating note to this comment.

Desi responded with a chuckle, giving an understanding nod. Casper's general lack of friends for most of junior high and high school was a fairly valid reason for never dabbling in anything illegal. "Once the cops are off my back I'll help you flesh out your stash."

Casper was still preoccupied, lighting the end of the dried bundle of leaves with the candle flame until they smoked, but Desi was almost sure he saw the corner of the boy's lips quirk up just slightly. "You'd be surprised just how effective some perfectly legal herbs are."

"Is that so?" Now Desi was just curious. "Ok. You going to tell me what all this is for, then?"

He propped the bundle of leaves up against the herb box to let it burn between them like the candle. "I'm making a safe working space. The black candle is to ward off bad energy. The sage is for spiritual and emotional cleansing. If this is going to work we can't have whatever negativity is possessing you interfering."

Desi tried to stifle his laugh but it came out as a snort despite himself.

He received a glare. "If you're not going to at least try to take this seriously, I'm not going to help you."

Desi held up a surrendering hand. "I'm sorry, totally serious from now on, promise." He offered an earnest expression with the swear, motioning a cross on his heart. Casper's annoyance softened after a brief pause, and he leaned over to light a cigarette on the candle flame like he had with the sage. When he handed it over to Desi after a drag, Desi couldn't help adding a last teasing question before taking an inhale of his own. "Does that mean this smoke is cleansing also?"

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