"Are you into kinky stuff? You look like the guy that would be into kinky stuff." The brunette boy's green eyes stared intensely into mine. He had a smile on his freckled face, and his teeth, albeit pearly white, were slightly crooked in the front, giving him a childish appearance, though he looked to be more about twenty-three. "Ya know, I dated a guy that was into the kinky stuff. It was fascinating." He paused for a minute, looking thoughtful. His index finger moved to his lips, and his eyebrows bunched together, clearly mulling over something. "Um, hey, you don't happen to have gum, do you? Like, not the mint kind, but the fruity kind."
He was seated on the bench beside me, his right leg crossed over his left one. His tight black pants made me wonder how he could comfortably sit like that, and made me wince at his position. He had an oddly colored green shirt on that would only look good on him, but not anyone else, and a vibrant orange jacket on over that. The weirdest part about him, though, was that he was barefoot, which no sane person would ever attempt while walking around the city.
"Hey, did you hear me, or are you gonna keep staring at my wardrobe? God, you people here, I swear." He puffed out a heavy breath of air and stretched out his arms along the length of the back of the bench, right along my shoulders. "I'm Bastion, by the way. Pleased to meet you. You're the first person I've spoken to since I got here, which was about four days ago. I flew in from Houston, and from Denver to Houston. I'm a very busy man!" He laughed to himself while I sat there, wondering why it was then that I had decided to sit down to rest my feet. This man was nuts! "So how 'bout that gum, hmm?"
Not sure whether or not to fear for my well-being, I searched frantically for gum in my pockets, coming up with nothing but a few coins. "No, I'm sorry, I don't have anything," I told him, not sure if I was sincerely sorry or if I just wanted him to go away. I was leaning towards the latter the more I looked at him. By now, he had his legs criss-crossed in the seat, looking around curiously at the cobblestone roads and brick buildings.
"Oh, that's fine. I'll find something else to nibble on." He turned his attention to me, sucking on his lower lip some. After a moment of staring at me with wide eyes, he finally tipped his head and opened his mouth. "What's your name? It's polite to introduce yourself after someone introduces themselves, yes?"
"Um, y-yeah, sorry. My name is Bryan," I announced, even holding out my hand for him to shake, which he did with a grin on his lips. His skin was warm, much warmer than mine was. I flinched at the hot touch and almost jerked back, but stopped since I didn't want to appear rude. "If you want something to eat, there's a few bakeries around here, and quite a few restaurants. Is this your first time visiting St. Augustine?" It seemed like it was since his eyes were filled with a curious delight, much like a child's when visiting a theme park.
He shook his head though, still looking at me with a grin. "No, definitely not, but it has been a while. It's so pretty, though, just like I remembered it." The way he said it was so dreamy, and it was then that I decided that this was not a man, but a boy trapped in a man's body, and it was somewhat mystifying to see such interest in someone his age.
"Well, I hope you find whatever you need, Bastion," I told him, standing to my feet with my shopping bags. I didn't want to tell him that, in one of the bags, I had a slice of cake from my favorite bakery, especially since it was a fruity flavored cake, which I'm sure would have piqued his interest. I waved to him once and started off in my own direction, abandoning the curious man, hoping that it would be the last that I saw of him.
"Hey, Bryan, wait!" I heard him call after me, and soon, there he was, his hands on one of my shoulders, his head tilted to see me better. He was a good seven inches taller than my five foot nine stature. "Your name is really nice, you know. I like it a lot. Um, you…." His voice trailed off as we paced past one of the bakeries I had mentioned, and he even stopped to stare through the window where they were making fudges and cakes and cookies. "Ooh, Bry-Bry, look! And, mmm, doesn't that smell delicious?" With the way he was staring through the window, I thought he was going to charge into the bakery and try everything.
I was too stunned that he had called me a nickname to answer him. Already, he had confused me with his first question about my sexual tendencies, and now he was calling me pet names. It was like I was dating a stranger, and pushing my black hair away from my face, I decided that I never should have left my house today if I knew I was going to run into him.
Before I could stop him, he had my free hand in his and was dragging me into the warm and chocolate scented bakery, waiting in line behind a little girl and her mother. He checked his back pockets, probably for money, and when he materialized a ten and a twenty, I knew he had a mean sweet tooth, one that would put mine to shame. When it was his turn to order, he was bouncing on the balls of his feet, his cash gripped tightly in his hands and his lips curled into a grin.
"Oh, Bry-Bry, what am I going to order? Okay, um, I want…" He hesitated, and the cashier glanced over at me, an inquiring look on her face. I shrugged and made a face, trying to announce to her that I had no idea what was going on. "I want two cheese Danishes, one slice of your Cheery Cherry Cheesecake, one slice of the Death by Chocolate cheesecake, umm." He stopped again, his eyes racing over the menu board. "Uh, one apple turnover, six cookies, three of which need to be chocolate chip, and you can surprise me with the three others. Let's see. One large frozen caramel mocha, and…oh! Bry-Bry, get what you want!" His attention was back to me, and I felt like I was put on the spot.
"N-No, I'm fine, Bastion," I told him quietly, putting up my free hand as a gesture to stop him. Instead, he saw it as an invitation to give me a high five, laughing smoothly when he did. I was utterly confused and now formed the theory that this man was regressing into childhood. Either that, or he had completely missed the entire part of his life from puberty onwards. "What…what are you doing?"
He frowned and seemed embarrassed. "I was giving you a high-five. I thought that was custom when someone put their hand up like that." Quickly recovering from his mild chagrin, he tipped his head again, but that grin wasn't there, nor was the light in his emerald eyes. "What would you like? Not even a drink?" It seemed that he was going to be upset if I didn't anything, so when I told him to double the order on the frozen mocha, a smile appeared on his face again, and he gave the woman his money when she had finally gotten his complicated order.
We didn't say a word to each other while we waited for his food to be prepared, but I was curious about him now. Everything about him screamed weird, and that's what kept me interested. Questions were in order, particularly why he had ordered so many sweets and how he managed to stay so thin if he ate like this all the time. But why was he so strange with his gestures and that constant smile? It seemed as if he belonged to another time, possibly one where adults acted like kids.
Sucking on his lower lip again when he finally got his order, he glided over to a corner seat that could fit the both of us. It was sort of isolated, perfect for my questioning. If I was going to dine with this man, I demanded to know more about him.
Pulling out the two slices of cheesecake, Bastion groaned in happiness. "Oh, it's been so long since I've had something like this! Wizards and witches aren't used to these sorts of delicacies, so when I come here, it's wonderful!" He produced the fork from the bag while I stared at him, my mouth slightly agape. Yup. This man was nuts, and it was probably for the best that I got out of there as soon as possible.
"Look, Bastion, I have to go. I have things to do," I lied, bolting out of my seat. Again, I was stopped by him. His right hand wrapped around my wrist, while his left hand held a fork that was balancing a piece of cheesecake oozing cherry sauce. "Let me go. You're…I think you need to get looked at, man. Something is obviously wrong with you." I tried pulling away, but he wouldn't allow that.
"No, please don't go, Bryan. I knew there was something important to tell you before I started talking to you." There was that grin again, and it lured me back to my chair. Stuffing the hunk of cake into his mouth, he chewed and swallowed, all the while holding eye contact with me. He waited a minute, probably so that he could collect his thoughts. His eyes searched for another sort of distraction, but every time that he looked at me, I was staring hard at him, waiting for him to talk. "Fine, then, I'll tell you. I'm a wizard, from another world that is almost like yours, but-" He stopped and ate another piece of cheesecake, getting cherry on his pale lips and moaning at how good it was "-but all of the habitants are on a strict diet, so we don't get to eat things like this all of the time." Seductively, he licked his cherry covered lips, and I felt my face get warm, hoping that he didn't mean for it to be so risqué looking. He instantly lost the childish appearance.
Suddenly noticing that the floor looked like a wonderful thing to gaze at to avoid eye contact, I shook my head, not chancing to look at Bastion. "You're totally joking right now. People like you make me sick of St. Augustine, I swear." Some part of me wanted to believe him because of his childlike innocence, but common sense told me to ignore that part. "We always get crazies like you, saying you're a wizard or a psychic and you can contact all of the souls from when this city was first established. It's really goddamn annoying," Now I was angry at him, and I did what any angry, thirsty young guy would do: take a long sip of my frozen mocha.
Sucking in a deep breath, Bastion shook his head. "No, Bryan, I swear that's not why I'm here! I used to live here, and I wanted to come back to visit." With his fork, he made designs with the cherry sauce on his cake, resting his chin in his palm. "I really can use magic, and I'm actually really good at it," he added with a sniff. Gasping, like he had a realization, he slammed his open palms down on the table. "I can prove it to you! Watch my fork, please. This is the simplest trick in the book." He smugly smiled and let his fork fall down into the cake container.
At this point, I was too beyond mad to allow this to go on for much longer. Sighing, I allowed him to try to show me what he wanted, then I needed to escape him. His fingers danced around the fork, though, like he knew what he was doing, and with those long fingers, he very well may have had something figured out, even if it was a trick. Before I lost faith in him, the fork began to quiver on its own, slowly rising to stand up right. Bastion even removed his hands from the table in an attempt to show me that he didn't have any strings or magnets.
"Watch," he whispered, keeping an eye on the fork. I observed it as the fork sliced another bite of cheesecake and hover above the plastic container by a good foot. "Open up," Bastion demanded sweetly, his eyes now moving to me. Not wanting to disobey him now that I knew what he was capable of, I opened my mouth, just enough to allow the fork to dispense the little sliver of cheesecake onto my tongue. My counterpart grinned cockily from ear to ear and jerked back his head, and as though he had called it back, the fork went directly into his waiting hand. He observed me as I slunk into my seat, sucking more mocha out of my straw as I sat there and thought about what I had just seen. "I'm a wizard, Bryan, and a damn fine one at that. If you need any more proof, I can certainly levitate you. It may weird out the other patrons, though." There was no more teasing light in his eyes even though the smile remained plastered to his mouth.
Staying home would have been a much better option than going shopping that day. There was a deep sense of dread in the pit of my stomach, and I knew that I had just been invited to join a world that was wholly new to me, one that I had never wanted to experience, and I had no say in it.