Chapter 10 - Part 2

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The mix was harsh. Desi coughed on his first drag, but quickly grew accustomed to the dryness, taking smaller inhales to train his lungs. It definitely wasn't something he'd smoke more than once. Something about the flowers tasted more like they suited a perfume over a joint. That being said, the sage added a particular woody aftertaste that he didn't mind all that much.

Desi laid back on the floor, curious if, like pot, the effects would be quicker with the blood more easily migrating to his head. He occupied some time with smoke rings and watching Casper from the corner of his eye, finding himself gradually more pensive as he inhaled.

"Why are you doing all this?" he asked, when the silence had stretched and he couldn't stand the curiosity anymore.

Casper twisted to give him a look over his shoulder. "Doing what?"

Desi smirked and shook his head at Casper's dismissiveness. "This. Picking me up at the station yesterday. Letting me shower and giving me a place to sleep. Making me this weird ass smoke that I know is a bigger deal to you than you're letting on. Last week I was thinking about grovelling to get you to draw me that logo and now you're handing out favors likes the damn Salvation Army. I'm not complaining I just... Don't get it."

He didn't get a response right away. In fact, Casper didn't say anything for a long while, turning back to his computer and clicking through pages, making Desi assume that he wasn't going to receive any kind of answer.

When Casper finally spoke, he prefaced it with a inhale through his teeth, like it hurt to even attempt an answer. "I don't know. I guess I feel guilty."

Desi scoffed. "None of this has anything to do with you, though. You don't have anything to feel guilty about."

"Maybe," Casper conceded, but his tone held objection. He leaned his head on his palm, shifted his knee up closer to him in the chair. "If I had just kept my mouth shut that night though..."

"I would have found out eventually," Desi countered bitterly.

Casper sighed, annoyance leaking into his voice as he served back. "Yeah, but if it happened differently, maybe she at least wouldn't be de—"

He stopped himself, but the damage of the word was already made. It sat in the air like poison. He'd made clear the sentiment earlier that day, in class when he didn't deny thinking she'd been killed, but something about the word "dead" was different. It lingered with heavy finality, taking the oxygen from the room and leaving Desi's lungs feeling shallow.

Somehow, he took a drag before asking. "Do you really think she's dead, Cas?"

The ghost boy sighed again, this time less out of frustration and more like disappointment. Disappointment for maybe being unable to give Desi the answer he needed. Instead, Casper didn't say anything.

Desi had been struggling with the idea for nearly forty-eight hours now. Denying it. Making excuses. The fact was though, the longer she stayed gone, the more the terrible thoughts festered doubts inside him. He would have heard from her by now, if she was just fucking with him. She could me a drama queen but... Not like this. This was different. This was... Serious.

The smoke must have been taking effect, because Desi felt weird. He couldn't quite express the reaction he should be having. He felt it, the ache of trying to accept an unfortunate truth that was easier to ignore, to deny. The pain was dull though. Like it was sitting on the sidelines, separated from his body. A specter of something that he might feel later, but was currently being kept at bay, suppressed by Casper's magic herbs.

When Desi admitted the hard truth he'd been trying to avoid for the last two days, it slipped from his lips easier than he expected.

"I think she's dead too."

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