The days went by happily and sometimes slow, sometimes fast. My nineteenth birthday came and went. I baked a cake although Specter seemed preeeetty annoyed at me trying to celebrate turning nineteen. But I was nineteen no matter what he said… AND he ate some cake despite his complaints at the reason behind it. AND the next day he threw a video game at me which he said was definitely not a birthday gift just a ‘thanks for being a friends with benefits’ gift. Which if it really was such a gift, I wasn’t really sure what that might mean. But I chose to believe it was a birthday gift.
Sometimes Mr. Fluffy got into the house which I didn’t mind, I liked cuddling with him while watching TV or letting him sit by me while I played video games. I began asking Specter for tuna which I’d give Mr. Fluffy. One morning Specter came home to find me completely invisible while I ran around with Mr. Fluffy in my hands, while I made ‘ooooo’ sounds. I froze as he stared, and then I lifted Mr. Fluffy up higher and said, “Magic floating cat says beards are sexy.”
Mr. Fluffy made a groaning sort of meow sound, leaping out of my hands and taking off out the door. Specter just continued to stare. I slowly became visible and said, “Well. I think beards are.”
I wasn’t sure if he was mad or not but he closed the door, came over, scooped me up in his arms and took me to the bedroom. He was in a very amused mood between then and when he went to sleep, so I was pleased I was able to make him so cheerful. Even if it was a scowly cheerful and he denied being happy in any form. It was actually very cute–not that I’d ever tell him that cause I think that would just make him really annoyed. Sexy, and stuff like that was okay but I highly doubted ‘cute’ would work. Even though one day, a few days after the floating cat incident, he said I was cute. Well, sort of. He told me I was like a puppy, I was too cute to stay mad at.
“I thought you hated puppies,” I said, scratching my head.
Specter growled, his teeth creaking as he ground them together. “I never said that.”
“Did so. First day I was here. You hate kittens too.”
“It’s not what I meant.”
“What did you mean?”
“Just like a puppy!” he said, sounding quite fed up, “Irritating! Noisy. Aggravating, and… and… and…”
“Nothing. If I ever said I didn’t like puppies or kittens, you must’ve heard me wrong.” He folded his arms and gave me a look.
“So, you like puppies?”
“You like kittens?”
“You like me?”
“Y–what? NO! Shut up! I’m going to get a shower, go and play your stupid video games or–or whatever. Leave me alone.” He stomped off to the bathroom and I drifted to the couch to start up the video game. Yes? Was that an almost yes? Or was he just caught up in the moment…? Hmmm, I was going to pretend it was an almost yes.
Smiling, I got into my video game, going on my adventure. I loved this game… this type of game was my favorite type to play. Specter said they were called RPGs. I had 3 so far and just couldn’t get enough of them even though in all three I was having some problems figuring out some of the stuff. Like, I was stuck in some of the quests which was annoying a bit. Anyway, I was so into this one I didn’t even realize Specter had come out of the bathroom until he asked, “Are you going up the steep side of a mountain on a horse?”
I jumped and then looked up. “Uh-huh. Best way in this game.”
“It’s a horse.”
“Uh-huh. You could also sorta… jump up the steep sides sometimes though that’s not as easy as a horse. In the previous game it was running, um, dia–diagonally up. But horses are best.”
“IT’S A HORSE!”
“Maybe horses are trained to be mountain climbers in this world. You don’t know.” He sighed and started heading towards the bedroom when I paused the game, twisting around to face him. “Oh! Specter? I have, um, a favor to ask. I’m sorta stuck on this one quest in this game. Um. And in another one. And the other one.”
“I don’t know a damn thing about video games, ghost,” he spat out.
“I know. But maybe… the Internet does? If you, uh, have time…? Sometimes? Maybe you could, um, look up some help for me? Maybe?”
He didn’t blink for several seconds until he pushed back his bangs, groaning. “I have better things to do with my time then look up stupid help for stupid video games!” We continued staring at one another and he swore loudly. “What? Just–write it down. Write it down.”
I scrambled toward a notepad and wrote down all three games and the names of the quest. He snatched the piece of paper and stormed into the bedroom while I returned to the video game, not sure if I should follow him since I didn’t know if wanted to do anything or not. Eventually he returned to the main room and plopped down onto the couch next to me, reading a book while I played my video game–it was so cozy! I tried not grinning too much but it was hard not to.
“Here.” Three large, thick books hit the couch next to me. I only gave them a glimpse before pausing the video game and rising up.
“What are these? I don’t–I don’t really read.”
“Wait, are these…” I inspected them a bit closer, realizing the names and pictures on the covers matched up with the three RPGs I had. “These are guides? They are! Guides for my games. Ahhh! Thank you!” I flung myself at him, hugging him tight and kissing his cheek before opening the book for the game I was playing.
“I’m sorry, what? You don’t… ‘really’ read?”
I shook my head as I flipped through the glossy pages. “Not really, I’m not very good at it. As you can tell. I’m not exactly… a genius. But I guess that’s cause I wasn’t really a good student, I always played video games instead of–ooooh so you can do this quest a couple different ways? Ahh I should’ve done it this way. If I had known…aw, and you get something cooler this way too. Hmm.”
“Video games instead of?” he asked, his voice a bit sharp.
I looked up at him. “Studying,” I explained. “My, um, aunt would have me do schoolwork and I’d just drift off when she wasn’t looking so I wouldn’t have to. I hated schoolwork. If I had gone to a public school I probably would’ve been expelled for such terrible grades! I just never liked paying attention to that stuff.”
“Drift off? How?”
“Through the wall? I was a ghost, you know. I keep telling you. I’ve been a ghost my whole life. I’ll continue being a ghost. I’m a ghost. I wonder what will happen when I die though.” I shifted the book in my lap and frowned, trying to figure that one out. “Will I become another ghost? A ghost’s ghost? Would I just go to the Nether? You know, I never figured out why some people become ghosts and some don’t. Some ghosts I met had, uh, reasons for staying. Like this one jerk I knew, when I was dating William. He didn’t like me an’ William cause we were guys together. But he was cursed by a witch into death I think, something like–OH MY WATCHER THIS IS HOW YOU DO THE QUEST?” I had found the quest I was currently stuck on, and the answer was so simple I felt stupid. “Of course! Of cou–” I stopped speaking and dove for the game controller to start up the game.
“Did you even graduate high school?” Specter asked, sounding stunned.
“Nope. I left home when I was fifteen cause I couldn’t stand being cooped up inside all day with no hope of really seeing the outside and not meeting anyone.”
“Like you are now.”
I hesitated, biting my bottom lip. That thought hadn’t really occurred to me. The haunted house, and now here. Slowly I shook my head. “I dunno. Kinda, I guess.” I paused the game and beamed up at him. “But I didn’t have you back home. And you make me super happy. So it’s okay.” But now there was this naggy feeling inside of me that I couldn’t quite make go away. Was I really happy? Or did I just think I was happy…? Wasn’t I doing just what I left home for? Staying inside all day, playing video games, not seeing the outside? Only interacting with the people in the house? That’s what I did really at the haunted house. But I was happy there. I had the piano. Music. And here I had Specter. And he made me happy… didn’t he?
He had touched a nerve, and he knew it. I never should have said anything, I just should have kept my mouth shut. Because ever since he pointed out to the ghost that he was just ‘cooped up’ in here, the ghost had been getting more and more down. He acted cheerful most the time, still smiling and being an idiot but sometimes Specter just saw him sitting there, looking at the windows a bit wistfully. And when they slept, the ghost was having nightmares again even though they shared the bed–which had originally stopped the bad dream but now… now Specter was waking up at least once a night to sad whimpers.
“Mama… Papa…” The ghost squirmed in Specter’s arms one morning, his face wrinkled in despair. The way he was sounding the titles sounded strange to Specter. He was putting more emphasis on the second syllables, making it sound foreign. ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’ weren’t very common for him to be saying though. Mostly it was the word ‘mira’ which Specter had to do some research into. Either Chance was having nightmares about the red star (which, due to his admitted lack of education was doubtful), he was speaking Spanish (equally doubtful), or it was someone named ‘Mira’ from his life.
On occasion he would whimper the name William.
Specter disliked that.
Specter disliked that intensely.
In fact, as the days went by he started getting into a worse mood than he usually was. Things were all right when he got home, had dinner, read while the ghost played video games, during sex… but when they slept… when the ghost had nightmares and cried out ‘William’, Specter couldn’t stand it and would be very pissed off in the morning, usually to the point of not even speaking to anyone for hours.
Why am I so angry about this? he thought one night while driving home. I don’t care about him. He’s just… friends with benefits. That’s all. A roommate. A bed partner. Nothing more. In fact, not even much of that–he’s a ghost. My enemy. I hate ghosts. Ghosts deserve to be sent to the Nether. This ghost deserves to be sent to the Nether. Specter clenched his teeth, twisting himself into such an angry mood that he decided he’d just be rid of the ghost completely when he got home. He made sure he had his gun at his hip, and he burst through the door. Time for us to part ways, he thought, drawing himself up to full height as he stared at the ghost.
But the words wouldn’t leave his mouth.
His hand couldn’t move to the gun.
Chance smiled at him in an aggravatingly sweet manner as he held up a pot. “I’ve fixed something I hope you like, it’s tomato soup and some beef and cheese ravioli cooked in it. Oh and there’s some salad too. Or would you prefer fruit salad? I could chop some, um, peaches and stuff up for you if you like.”
Specter finally was able to convince himself to move and to speak. But instead of ‘time for us to part ways’, he said, “Green salad is fine for me.” And instead of whipping out the gun and zapping the ghost, he bent in and kissed the ghost full on the lips.
Chance beamed, and Specter suspected if the ghost had a tail it’d be wagging. Sighing, he sat down to eat. I’ll zap him tomorrow, he decided and out of no where he had a sharp, inexplicable pain in his chest. Heart attack? he wondered, but that idea faded as the ghost put bowls of food down and took the seat next to him, still smiling. Damn it all, the hunter thought, and furiously began eating.
A few hours after dinner Specter and Chance were curled up on bed together, in that sleepy afterglow, both of them hovering on the verge of falling asleep. Chance was snuggled against Specter, one hand casually running along Specter’s beard which sent pleasant chills down his body. He could lay like this forever… except just as he was about to fall asleep a thought popped up in his brain and it wouldn’t go away.
“You are… happy. Aren’t you?” he asked. Chance snuggled closer but didn’t answer. “Are you awake?”
“Did you hear me?”
“Oh… Yes. I’m happy.”
It didn’t sound convincing so Specter sat up, prying Chance’s arms off of him. “What’s the… matter?” It was difficult to talk, to ask these things. This wasn’t something he was used to and it was taking a lot of effort.
Chance stared at him rather sadly. “Nothing.”
“Obviously it’s something!” Specter snarled. Chance flinched and Specter sucked in some air, forcing himself to calm down. “You’ve been mopey for a few days and I just… I was wanting to make sure nothing was wrong.”
Chance perked up now. “You were worried?”
Freaking stupid freaking freak. “A little,” Specter hissed and Chance was smiling again. “Only a little bit. Tiny, teensy, microscopic bit.”
“So tiny you can’t even see it. So, are you–happy?”
“Mostly. I guess I am a little sad. I’ve been having bad dreams. Dunno why. Maybe cause I’ve been…” He trailed off and looked very awkward.
Specter felt sick. “Is it because of me?” he asked without meaning.
“No! Noooo! Nothing to do with you! I l–I like you. A lot. You make me super happy. But I’ve been thinking about… well, I know we’re just… friends with benefits but I do like you and I guess that’s just making me think of… William.”
“Erf. Uh. Well, do… you still… love him…?” He forced these words out, rather scared for some unknown reason that Chance would respond positively.
“No. I don’t. But I think I did.” He rested his chin back down, eyes half-closing, the happiness that usually lit his face had faded. It made Specter’s heart wrench. “He hurt me so much. It’s just been on my mind a lot.” A few ghostly tears slid down and then Chance buried his face in his hands.
Specter was in alien territory. Emotions didn’t come easily to him, besides anger and annoyance. So he really didn’t know what to do to ease the ghost’s pain. And he wanted to. That was the worst part. He wanted to stop the hurt that Chance was going through and in his mind there was only one way to do that. “He really broke your heart,” Specter said, as if needed yet another confirmation.
Chance nodded. “Yes. It still hurts. I l–I like you, Specter. So I don’t know why I should even be thinking about him but–I just… I don’t… I’m sorry!” He quickly began rubbing his tears away. “I’m sorry I’ve gone and made things all sad.” He forced a smile on his face but it was definitely not a real one.
Specter reached out and touched Chance’s cheek. It felt slightly damp from the tears and without any warning, Specter lunged forward and wrapped his arms around Chance. Chance gave a soft gasp of surprise but then curled up in Specter’s hold. “He was in Appaloosa Plains, wasn’t he?” Specter asked, trying to remember.
“Yeah, I think that’s where it was. Why?”
“No reason.” He stroked Chance’s hair and put his head against Chance’s neck. “No reason at all.”
Specter took a few days off of work then told Chance he had a job that was far away so he’d probably not be in till late. Then one day he left early and drove all the way to Appaloosa Plains. It was a long drive, and every fifteen minutes Specter debated turning back. He had no clue why he was doing this. He knew he shouldn’t. He could get in a hell of a lot of trouble if anyone spotted him. But every time he thought about turning back he’d see Chance’s teary face and get more determined to do this (at least, until the next time a tiny part of his brain tried talking him out of it).
He finally arrived, and had to make a decision of which graveyard to go to. The newer one, which housed mostly urns of those cremated, or the actual graveyard rarely touched by any new graves. Judging from what little Chance had said, it sounded like he was outdoors a lot so Specter went to the graveyard. It was late and the place was shut up, but he could easily get in. He parked his jeep, put his goggles and ear enhancers on and then, after making sure his gun was strapped to his hip, went into the graveyard.
There were a few ghosts. Most of them were just blurs. He rarely saw a clear ghost. In fact, when he first saw Chance he had wondered at why he was so easily visible. But it wasn’t rare, it just depended on–well, actually he had no clue what made some ghosts more visible than others. For instance, he could see just a very faint green blur which he assumed was a ghost killed by supernatural means, but the pink blur had an actual shape and he could see it was a teenager girl even though most her features were blended together. I should’ve asked how William died, he thought as he walked along the path.
Something caught the corner of his eye and his head swung around to look over towards some columns. A small smirk spread on his face. Or not, he thought, as the ghost was fairly visible. Not the clearest he had seen but clear enough to make out medieval-looking clothes. Specter went over and the ghost paid no heed to him. Ghosts typically didn’t unless they were particularly violent; and ghosts in graveyards, Specter figured, were cocky. Ghost hunters never bothered them.
Feeling his palms sweat at that thought, he swiped his hands on his coat and then took another step closer. “William?” he asked. The ghost glanced up and then back down, obviously not expecting a human to see him. “William, the knight? The ghost? I can see you, you know.”
Now he looked up again, mouth open in surprise. “How is such a thing possible?” William asked with a strange, long-dead accent.
Specter could make out a few features including stubble on the knight’s chin. My beard is better, Specter thought, rather pleased. No, now isn’t the time to compare beards. “Technology,” Specter said, tapping his goggles. “You are William the knight, correct?”
Now or never. “The one who broke Chance Danevbie’s heart?”
William’s eyes widened and he staggered back, jaw dropped. “Chance…?”
Specter looked around to make sure they were really alone and then he moved closer. “Chance. Happy little ghost, always smiling. Usually smiling.” He pulled out his gun and pointed it at William. “And you hurt him. You broke his heart. Prepare to die!”
The ghost seemed rather unafraid of the gun. “You know Chance,” he said in a soft, amazed voice. Then, after a split second, “Are you his new lover?”
“WHAT?! NO!” He fell back a bit, irritated at that question even though it was a lot closer to the truth than he would admit. “Look, stop talking and–and say goodbye!”
The ghost shrugged. “Fare thee well, then. I welcome eternity away from this world with open arms.”
“You–what?” He lowered his gun a bit at that. “You want to die?”
“Verily. Though, tis not as simple as such as I am already dead. Am I not?” William turned slightly away and looked up at the sky. “Do me away if that is your desire. I have nothing left in this world to hold onto. Ah, but one thing and I know tis unlikely you would do me a favor but if mayhap I have a dying wish?”
Specter raised his gun again, gritting his teeth. “And what is that, ghost?”
“W… what? I–I what?!”
The ghost smiled, spreading his hands out. “Love him. I know you are with him, good sir. There is very little reason for you to approach me with the intent on forcibly removing my soul from this world with the title ‘heart breaker’ if you did not have some feelings towards Chance.” Specter’s hand began shaking with anger at that, the barrel of the ghost-gun jumping all over the place. “I beg of thee. Treat him as I could not.”
“Look. I don’t love him. I have no feelings towards him and I never will. He’s… a stupid ghost. But–that doesn’t mean… that doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve–better treatment. Even if you didn’t–love him–you didn’t have to hurt him as much as you did.”
The ghost let out a soft sigh. “I did.”
“No. You didn’t.”
“I did, good sir. If you would stop and think about such things you would understand, as he never could. Or should. If you do understand, prithee do not speak of the matter to him. It would cause him such unhappiness.”
“Why would you care about his happiness when you broke his heart?” Specter steadied the gun now, aiming at the knight’s head.
“I care deeply for his happiness. Tis why I broke his heart.”
“You make very little sense, ghost! And I am running out of patience.”
“Then remove my spirit.”
His finger twitched just barely but he did not pull the trigger. Instead he lowered his arm completely. “Explain yourself. What kinda a fucking asshole claims to–to care ‘deeply’ about someone’s happiness after hurting them as much as you did. Hmmm?”
William shook his head, making a tsking noise. “You do not understand. If you desire an explanation, I shall give it. On the condition you do not inform Chance.”
“Fine, I won’t tell him whatever lies you’re about to tell me.”
“I loved him. Ah. I still love him. I do believe I shall continue loving him and it is because of my love for him I had to break both our hearts.” The ghost turned completely away now, drifting a little closer to the curve of columns. “You must know of the difference Chance has from I, and other spirits. He is not like one of us.”
“And that’s why you dumped him.”
The ghost’s head bowed a bit. “Aye. I had to. I believed his insistence of difference was merely… babble at first. Stories, as we told one another. His birthday came. His eighteenth. He aged. He became older. I saw, in truth, he was very different. I saw… our future. In that moment when the sparkles consumed him. They would again, and another time… taking him into older ages. He will age.” William twisted his head to give Specter a sad look. “I will not. How… how can I do that to him? He shall continue to age, to grow. To change. While I remain frozen in time.”
Specter swallowed, goosebumps rising up all over him. “You… hurt him… now. To save him from being hurt later.”
“Aye.” They were facing one another now. “I did consider ignoring his difference. I considered just holding onto him and continue to love him, to be with him. But I could offer him nothing. He deserves to be with someone, truly. In all ways. In the ways I cannot give him. I love him… and I desired he to experience life as I cannot give him. Stuck here. In this graveyard. Night in, night out. Always. Until he ages into a second death? I cannot do that to one I love. So I hurt him. I broke his heart, and that broke mine seeing him hurt. But he needed to be hurt… so much that he knew there was not a chance for us to be one. If he knew my thoughts, if he knew why I did what I did… he would not have left. He is a sweet lad. So kind. Gentle. Loving.” William reached up and brushed some of his hair back. “He would have been determined to make it work.”
“But you took that choice from him,” Specter said in a vaguely accusing tone. “Didn’t he deserve the choice?”
“He would have made the wrong choice. He would have stayed with me, and that would have been wrong. He needed… more. More than this. He would have been unhappy here. As a ghost, he is a wanderer. Staying locked up in a cemetery is not for him. You know that. You may not realize that you know that, but you do. For you love him. I can see. I can tell. And I am glad. He deserves happiness, he deserves love. He deserves a true white knight going into battle in hopes of mending a broken heart.” Specter flinched at that very accurate description of what he was doing. “Give that to him. Please. And that, good sir, is the dying wish I beg of you to fulfill.”
There was a stretch of silence and Specter began raising the gun again, pointing at him. “You hurt him. You took away his choice. You… You…”
“And now you are taking away my choice. Of remaining here, or going to the Netherworld. That is what you do. Is it not? You are a ghost hunter.”
“Yeah. I’m a ghost hunter. I’ve killed countless ghosts.” He pressed the charge button, just to make sure it was charged and then aimed very carefully. Just one zap and it would be over. One zap, this ghost would be sent to the Netherworld. One zap. One little zap and another disgusting monster would be gone forever.
Specter swore loudly and jammed the gun back into its holster. Without another word he spun around and stormed out of the graveyard. I can’t do it. He climbed over the fence and jumped down, his coat swirling around his body as he landed solidly on the ground. That little kid… Chance… and now this jerk. He walked angrily, boots stomping on the concrete as he went. Chance. He got to his jeep and punched the door so hard his knuckles hurt. I don’t love him. He yanked open the door, sliding into the seat. I can’t love him. Memories flashed in his head. Screams waking him up, him running out of his room to see his parents lying dead on the floor, their throats ripped out, blood everywhere. Samuel Everett kneeling next to his mother, also covered in blood. Specter remembered his screams and cries, Samuel explaining to him an evil ghost had gotten out and murdered them. Since then his hatred of ghosts, his intense need to destroy them all.
“I can’t love him.” He had never loved anyone in his life. His parents, but that was it. After that emotions had to be a thing of the past. Emotions just complicated things, got in the way of things. He was good at controlling most his emotions except–except now he had been acting strange. Like doing this. Buying the idiot stuff he wanted. Doing things to make him happy. I don’t… I can’t… He gripped the steering wheel as his chest heaved and his mind swirled with strange things. Oh Watcher. Do… is it possible… am I… in lo…
Just as that thought was about to form there was a tapping at the window. He practically jumped out of skin, giving a yelp. Someone was apologizing through the window but indicated for him to roll it down. He did so, partially, only because he doubted it was a carjacker and in the mood he was in anyone trying to do anything to him would regret it. “Can I help you?” he asked.
“Possibly,” the girl said. “Are you a ghost hunter?”
Specter opened his mouth about to respond ‘yes’ but before the first sound even came out he clamped his mouth shut. Within three seconds multiple things flashed through his head. 1. He was a ghost hunter. 2.He was at a graveyard. 3. It was very bad for ghost hunters to be in graveyards. 4. He could cause a lot of crap for EGHB if he was found to be in a graveyard. 5. This could be the last straw and he might be fired. 6. It would be very, very, very bad if he admitted the truth. So, three seconds after he closed his mouth, he opened it again and said, “No. I’m not.”
“Oh.” She sounded very disappointed. “Well, thank you anyway.”
“Mmm.” Specter rolled his window up and turned the car on. He felt sick from the thought of ‘lo’ though deep down he knew, he had the feeling, he had the sense that it was true. He wanted to continue to deny that. He would. As much as he could. Because he simply couldn’t be in love with a ghost. He drove off, glancing in the rear view mirror at the girl still standing in the parking lot. It doesn’t matter if I am or not, I can’t, he thought as he turned out of the lot. He’s a ghost, I’m a hunter. I can’t.