My fingers examined every inch of his face, slidin’ down onto his shoulders, carefully down to his hands–to the tips of his fingers. I put my hands on his waist and wanted to explore every inch of his body, because it was still so hard to believe he was here. It was so odd staring into his eyes and seein’ the glowingness and when I brushed my fingers along his chin I could barely feel the hair that used to be there. Some of what made him look like him had seemed to fade a bit, blendin’ in with the rest of his transparent face, but there was no question it was him.
“Hen.” I placed my hands on his cheeks and carefully put my forehead against his. I wasn’t even sure if my heart was beatin’. Maybe I was dead. I couldn’t really tell for sure at this moment. I felt so happy… but so scared. I wanted to run, to run and cry. “Oh Hen…”
“Serenity,” he murmured, his nose brushin’ against mine, his lips against mine. “You are as beautiful as ever. I’ve been waiting, and hoping…”
“I never thought–I never even imagined,” I gulped. “I heard… rumors… of ghosts but… of ones who had–who were–like Ashe said he caught murders–not.. natural… disease… how did you not…?”
“Cross over?” he asked and I nodded. “I’m not sure. I haunted my family’s mausoleum for a while. I felt so lonely. I was aware that I should cross over but I didn’t want to, I don’t know why. And then after I somehow wound up in Zephyr Hills, I met–” Henri stopped and looked down rather quickly.
“Sunny?” I asked and his head shook very slightly. “Who did you meet?”
His lips pressed together. “Myself. My own ghost. I know,” he added when I started to protest at the impossibility of it. “But it’s true. So I think at some point I go to Zephyr Hills and tell myself… tell myself to just be patient and keep hope. That’s what I said. Be patient, and hold onto the hope of being with you again. If I… if I hadn’t known that… then I probably would have been able to become like this, since it was the hope that made me want to be like this. Otherwise I don’t think I would have. I–I didn’t want to burden you with me like this, I wanted you to have a life with–“
I kissed him, shuttin’ him up. “I had a life,” I replied when I was done. “It was fine. But now you’re back in my life. Ghost or not. You’re not a burden. You’re–you’re my Henri.” I stroked his cheek gently then kissed him again. So many thoughts ran though my head durin’ this kiss. Besides the surface ones of happiness and shock and amazement, part of me felt so scared. I knew–I knew what, I just didn’t want to think about it. Because it was the fear that this had been a mistake. That… he and I should not have been put back together. He had died… so was this a second chance? Or was this flyin’ in the face of death and fate? Or was this fate itself? Could this be our destiny, to be reunited, or was it supposed to be what it was before: him dead, and me alone.
And if it was the latter then… would destiny try again?
Or maybe I had just been watching too many horror movies. Yeah, that was probably it. Too many horror movies. I shouldn’t think of what should have, or could have, or whatnot. The point was Henri was back in my life. I needed to be happy, not afraid.
“I love you.” His voice was soft, right in my ear. I shivered and moved a bit to snuggle against him.
“I love you too,” I answered. But what if I didn’t? Was I just in shock and happy to have him back? Did I still feel love for him, the same as before? No stop thinking that, Serenity! “Are you hungry?” I suddenly asked, sittin’ up. “Or–or thirsty? He said you need the same things like–“
“I’m fine right now,” he laughed, squeezin’ my hands. “I am a little hungry but I don’t think I can eat. I haven’t tried. I don’t even know how that will work.”
I touched his middle. “Huh. I wonder if I’ll be able to see it going down.”
“EW!” Henri laughed. “That sounds so gross!” Then he stuck his lips out.
I eyed him and then grinned. “You want to try it now, don’t you?”
“Maybe,” he said, shifting his gaze. I just waited and he snickered. “Okay, yes.”
I led him into the kitchen and he hovered close by as I made some toast. As we waited for the microwave, he put his hands on my waist and I leaned back, closin’ my eyes. “It’s a miracle,” I sighed as he slid my arms around my belly. I put my arms over his. “It really is.
“Yes,” he agreed. “It is.”
We just enjoyed the feel of holdin’ one another for a while and then I set out plates. When he ate, it seemed like as if anyone else was eatin’. I couldn’t really see the food goin’ down or anything and I think Henri was a little bit disappointed. I laughed and said how relieved I was that death hadn’t taken away his personality. Henri grinned and said I needed to buy a game system soon, and all the new games. I giggled, noddin’ and agreein’ that I would do just that, and I’d whip his transparent butt.
“So tell me about your life since–since I died,” he said after our laughter settled.
I shrugged and bent over the toast I had made. “There’s not much to tell.”
“You have horses,” he pointed out.
“Yes… The stables in town went out of business. So my family helped pay for me to build a barn and I took in Ducky. And bought another horse. Night At The Opera. He was trained in jumping so that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing, taking care of Night, Ducky, their foal–well, gelding now–Storm and also entering shows.” I looked up at him and suddenly felt an extreme stab of guilt. I could never tell him how I won so much. I was suddenly very glad I had tossed out so many of the awards.
“How about your family?” he inquired.
“Oh! Duncan is divorced and a father. I’ll show you a picture of Amy, she is so adorable. And River is married–and also has a daughter. Kesley is so cute too I’ll show you her picture too. Duncan’s a policeman, Kaylee’s a masseuse, River works part-time at the bookstore, Simon is currently traveling, and Mal is going into medical school.”
“Mal?” Henri snorted. “A doctor? That’s scary.”
I smiled and shook my head. “Yeah, it is.”
“So… any… boyfriends?” he inquired. “I mean, any, uh… well…”
“Not really. I went on dates, but none of them interested me.” I finished off my toast and took my plate, and Henri’s, over to the sink. “It’s pretty much me and the horses here. And now… and now you.”
“And now me,” he agreed and kissed me gently. I stared up into his eyes and then looked away. “What’s wrong, darling?”
“It’s so strange–not feeling your feelings.” I touched his jawline, just under his ear. “I’m not used to not feeling someone. It’s kinda creepy. Like, you’re here but I can’t–I can’t–“
He kissed me again. “Try not to worry. I’m sure you’ll get used to it. You don’t feel what your horses are feeling, do you?”
“N-no, but you’re not a horse.”
Henri moaned and his shoulders drooped. “You do realize how many dirty things I could say right there? Temptations.”
After I snickered and pretended to be outraged for a while, we got rather quiet again. What could we talk about? There was so much time lost and yet, it seemed as though there was nothin’ to say. But Henri finally took my hand and we returned to the livin’ room where he began tellin’ me more about his life, or non-life, as a ghost. Once he was done, I told him more about my horses and the sorts of shows I was in. By the time I was done, it was gettin’ light out and I was feelin’ pretty tired. He said he was as well, and I was about to say he could have the bed when I stopped. I didn’t want to be on the couch, I wanted to be by his side, even while we were asleep.
“The bed might be a bit cramped,” I finally muttered.
“I think I can manage,” he answered and we went into my bedroom. He sort of floated there, staring at the bed as I took off my clothes and put on some pajamas. I didn’t really care of he saw me in my bra and panties. He had seen most of me anyway, though it had been ten years and I probably wasn’t as nice to look at as I once was. But he didn’t look, he just stayed starin’ at the bed.
“You okay?” I asked, puttin’ my hand on his shoulder.
“Yeah I just–I’m still not sure how to change my clothes.” He looked down at his body. “After I became like this I managed to change into–into these clothes, instead of my hospital gown but I’m not a hundred percent sure how I did it.”
“You were haunting graveyards in a hospital gown?” I asked, arching my eyebrows.
“It got rather breezy at times.” He flashed me a grin and I laughed. “I’m glad to hear your laughter again, Sen.”
“We have lots of time for that,” I said, climbin’ into bed and then lookin’ up at him. He just let out a grumbling sound and floated over, gettin’ into bed in those clothes. He promised he’d be fine, they were uncomfortable. I couldn’t argue since, well, I had no clue how comfortable ghost clothes were. We settled down and he put an arm around me.
“I will have to wake up in a couple hours,” I whispered, eyes droopin’. “To take care of everyone… I don’t want to wake you up, though.”
“I’d rather be awake, with you.” His voice was in my ear and sounded so sweet. “Goodnight, Sen. I love you.”
“I love you too, Hen…”
I had nightmares, as I slept. I was surprised by that as I had expected to have good dreams or just no dreams (at least, forgettin’ about them). But no, I had horrible nightmares and woke up with tears on my face. Henri was still asleep, curled up on the edge of the bed. I hadn’t woken him up, thank goodness, but I was on the inner side of the bed so I couldn’t get out. So I wrapped my arms around my chest and tried to breathe slowly. The nightmares had been awful. Reliving the day Henri died came up more than once, but worst of all, I also had nightmares of this just not working out. Of all this, the wish, the time travel, everything–was for naught. As I stared at the wall and listening to Henri breathin’ I became terrified that… that was what was going to happen.
What if… this isn’t… I dared not form the words in my head. But they were there, pressin’ in on my brain. I wanted to cry more but managed not to, cause I didn’t want to wake him up. Or what if he didn’t wake up and just slipped away from me again? But what if I wasn’t right for him anymore? What if he found out what I had done to win shows and thought less of me? So many ‘what ifs’, it became real hard not to break down again.
Bleepebeepbeeeeep! My alarm went off and I jerked, knockin’ into Hen who fell off the bed with a light thudding sound. I bent over, bittin’ my bottom lip. “I am so sorry!”
“It’s okay,” he muttered and then his eyes went huge, their glowingness taking up quite a bit of his face. “I had a nightmare.”
I sucked in air, a sharp pain in my chest. “Was it bad?” I asked and he looked down.
“That all this didn’t happen, that I wasn’t back with you. I–I’m so glad it was just a nightmare.” He got to his feet and then swayed a bit before comin’ to a floatin’ stop. “Heh. Good morning…”
“Morning,” I replied, slidin’ out of bed. “Are you hungry already or–or do you want to come and meet the family?”
“I’m not hungry, but if you are I don’t mind waiting. Do you think it’s safe for me to be around them? You don’t think they’ll freak out, do you?” he asked.
I pulled some clothes out of my dresser and frowned. “They might. Maybe it would be better if you wait outside, and I can bring them out one at a time to meet you. Oh, do you mind waiting in the, um, living room?” I suddenly felt very embarrassed. I must have been real tired the night before to not care cause right now, I didn’t want him seeing me.
Henri leaned in and kissed my forehead. “I’ll be waiting.”
Ducky, the most placid of my horses, had a little freak out when I brought her out of the barn and I quickly took her back inside, decidin’ not to introduce the two boys to Henri quite yet. I felt bad, but Henri assured me it was fine. “After all, I am a ghost.”
After I took care of the horses, Hen and I went over to the waterfall and sat down, arms linking around each others’ backs. We watched the water cascadin’ down and talked about various things. Sometimes we just sat in silence. Eventually we grew hungry so I fixed a meal which we ate outside until it started raining. Then we curled up on the couch, watchin’ some TV. Was this right? Should we be doing other things? Wallowing in the bliss of being together again? What was the decorum for somethin’ like this?
Whatever the decorum was, we took things real slow. We talked when we felt like it, and didn’t when we had nothin’ to say which was often. He stayed in the house when I went to take care of the horses and then when I went into town to buy groceries and also splurged on a game system, which he was delighted to see when I came home. It was like old times, playin’ video games and pigging out on pizza.
My nightmare had to be wrong, because this had to be right.
“WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!” I held the phone as far as I could from my ear as my sister’s voice rang out, sharp enough to pierce a diamond. “SJ! SJ! SJ!” she continued to shrieked. “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?! You must be sick with a fever, I’ll be over right away!”
“No–Kaylee–” She hung up on me and I sighed. “Hey Hen, Kaylee will be over soon.”
“I know, I think even if I was still in France I would have heard that,” Henri said with a smirk. “But perhaps it is best for her to see in person.”
I began pacing around, feelin’ nervous about Kaylee meetin’ Henri’s ghost. I hoped she’d take it well. I needed to tell the entire family. I also needed to start makin’ plans for more room in the house. My little single bed was not enough room, for us to sleep, cuddle, or–or more, if we… when… if we… when we… did… that. Hoo boy. Maybe it was a good thing I was a virgin and didn’t have anything to compare it to, when we did it. I wondered how different it was–ghost sex from… living… sex?
“You’re red,” Henri noted. I reddened even more and threw a pillow at him. “What was that for?” he laughed.
“Because you’re giving me dirty thoughts!” I complained.
“OH! Am I now?” He grinned and came a little closer. “What sort of dirty thoughts?”
“N-nothing! Stop it. Don’t look at me like that, you pervert.”
“If I recall, you were the one to try to jump my bones.”
“W-well now you don’t have bones, so there.”
“But I do have the strangest bo–“
I smacked him, but couldn’t stop laughing. “YOU are SUCH a pervert!” Then I stopped and tapped my chin. “Though it does make me wonder… I mean… how…” I began blushing again. “How do we…?”
Henri folded his arms. “Well, darling, here’s how it is. When a man loves a woman very much–“
I shrieked and then began pummeling him with pillows. He tried his best to dodge them and soon I was out of pillows and he had them all. Now he gave an evil laugh and went after me, and I ran through the house, pretendin’ to protest. Okay, maybe we weren’t exactly mature. But it was just like pickin’ things up right where we left them, and made me full of so much happiness that it wasn’t until Kaylee came in and stared at Henri in complete shock that I remembered ‘xactly what the situation was.
“Uhhhhh…” I was standing amongst pillows, one pillow raised, about to smack Henri who had a pillow danglin’ from on of his hands. “Ummm hello, Kaylee,” I said. “You remember Henri, right?”
Henri lifted his free hand in a small wave and Kaylee whimpered. “Oh Grim Reaper’s dirty laundry, you–are–you are–“
“I am,” Henri said gently.
“I get a call from my sister, think she’s totally delusional and come in to find her pillow fighting with her dead boyfriend.” Kaylee reached up and rubbed her temples. “This is going to be one of those days, isn’t it?” She eyed Henri and then rolled her eyes. “I suppose it’s a lot better than coming in and finding you helping her make pottery.”
I groaned at that, but was relieved she wasn’t takin’ this worse than I expected her to. So as she and Henri sat down on the couch and he told her what was going on, I brought her a glass of water and some chocolate. She practically inhaled the chocolate and then when Henri was done, she said, “This is all just so weird.” Then she stopped and squinted. “I should be Fiona. I’d need to dye my hair though.”
“At least you didn’t go up on your back legs and kick your front hooves while whinnying very loudly,” I said with a smile.
Kaylee grinned. “I could, if you want me to. No, I mean, wow, this is a shocker, I am seriously in shock right now. But I just–what can I say? Words are not exactly the most helpful right now. Maybe it would be better if I whinny.” She rubbed half her face and then slumped back. “I guess all I can really say is, um, welcome back from the dead. Except you’re still dead. At least you’re not a zombie.”
We talked a bit more and I expanded on some stuff Henri left out, like some of what Ashe said, and then I fixed us all dinner. Kaylee was slowly startin’ to relax which was good. I was just super worried about how the rest of my family would take it. I hoped, hoped, hoped they would be okay. I knew it would be worse than Kaylee. I had spoiled myself by tellin’ the one who would be most acceptin’ of what was going on first. Please be okay, I thought in my head, wonderin’ who was gonna be the worst to tell. And how I was gonna tell any of them.