Jensen had never been alone. Even as a child there was always something there and he’d known it even when his parents tried to convince him that it was all in his head. The thing never spoke but he could feel eyes on him when he moved through the dark corridor that connected the living room to his bedroom. Sometimes, at night, cold fingers brushed against his skin, sending him retreating beneath the sheets even though he knew that they couldn’t keep him safe.
When Jake turned twelve he fell out of the tree in his backyard and broke his arm.
He could remember the crack of the bough beneath his feet and the sensation of gravity yanking him down to the earth. But before the darkness and his screams obliterated what was left of his consciousness he remembered dark eyes watching him.
Jake was fourteen when he met Susan Chambers. She was a transfer student from Oklahoma and he’d loved her the moment he laid eyes on her.
The first time he’d invited her over she’d blushed and taken his hand. Jake had felt like he was floating on a cloud until he got home to an empty house and a stifling presence that almost made him retreat. He never did get around to bringing Susan home with him and soon she lost interest but that was for the best.
The presence seemed to settle after that but Jake was careful of who he talked to and interacted with because he had felt the thing’s anger, seeping into his own mind like tar. The cold silence that followed that episode was better than the fiery heat of the thing’s rage so Jake withdrew and he pretended to not notice the looks his parents sent his way.
The morning of Jake’s seventeenth birthday he found a boy in his room.
The other teen was shorter than he was and his dark eyes were so familiar that the shout of surprise that had been building in Jake’s throat faded into nothing and he found himself reaching out before he’d even thought about it.
He couldn’t tell who’d been more surprised him or the kid but before he could say a word the boy vanished like he’d never been there.
“Fuck me,” Jake whispered in the silence that followed the kid’s departure.
Standing he turned in a tight circle but the window and his door was shut tight and even if they hadn’t been it wouldn’t have explained how the boy had just disappeared. There was an explanation here, one that had hysterical laughter bubbling in his throat but Jake clamped down on that because the last thing he needed to do was make his parents think he was even crazier than he was.
So he was haunted….and while that wasn’t exactly a normal statement it wasn’t like he could claim ignorance. He’d fucking felt the kid before this, he just hadn’t had a face to put with the feeling and now he did.
Somehow he’d thought it would have helped more than it actually did.
Jake didn’t see the boy again and the presence faded until he started to think that he’d been imagining the entire thing. His parents smiled more when he didn’t spend all his time holed up in his room and when Jake enlisted the pride on his father’s face made his chest ache but he didn’t look back as he drove away from the old house and all the memories it held.
Jake was twenty three and no one called him Jake anymore when he saw the boy again.
Basic had been the type of hell that made Jensen wonder why the fuck he’d signed up in the first place. He was nursing a black eye, a sprained wrist and feeling damn sorry for himself when he felt someone’s eyes on him.
The boy was sitting in the only chair at Jensen’s bedside, his wide eyes flickering around the room as if he had no idea how he’d gotten there and Jensen sucked in a sharp breathe when the kid turned his head and stared directly at him.
“Ok, I’m ever going fucking crazy or you’re a really persistent hallucination,” Jensen muttered, shuffling away from the boy because he wasn’t going to call the kid a ghost. Jensen was a grown ass man and he didn’t fucking believe in ghosts!
The boy opened his mouth but no sound came out. The teen shook his head and tried again but only silence followed his attempt. Jensen licked his dry lips when the boy rose to his feet, his brows furrowing and that stifling anger was back, just as sweltering as it had been that day after he’d talked to Susan.
Before Jensen could say a word the boy’s image blurred, dissolving into a plume of smoke that surged upwards and slammed into the ceiling before fading away.
“I’m going to get a fucking ghost whisperer for your ass….or an exorcist!” Jensen snarled before swiping a hand across his face because he was talking to a figment of his imagination. If his CO caught wind of this shit he’d be fucked and not even in the good way either.
Jensen was twenty eight and bleeding out in a dirty run down warehouse when he saw the boy again.
The last thing he remembered was an explosion that took out several houses and his entire unit. He could still smell the smoke and hear the screams as the fire consumed everything in its path. The whole thing had been a fucking set up from the start and they’d been pinned down under gunfire when the bastards set off the explosives. He’d barely managed to drag himself out of their safe house and into the woods before everything came crashing down.
Cold hands pressing against his face made him open his eyes and Jensen cracked a tired smile as he stared up at the familiar face.
The boy’s eyes were red and his face was stained with tears. Jensen couldn’t help himself as he reached out and tried to brush them away but the boy flinched as his hand went right through him.
Jensen curled his fingers into a fist as he pulled them back.
“Sorry, buddy. I don’t think we’re gonna be seeing each other again and here I don’t even know your name,” he joked because he taken two bullets to the gut and he knew there wasn’t a damn way that he was coming back from this one.
The boy shook his head sending his curls flying and Jensen wished that he could at least give the kid a hug because ghost or not this wasn’t somewhere for a kid to be.
A wrack of pain arched through his body and Jensen’s vision blurred for a moment. When he refocused the boy’s lips were moving, the same words being formed over and over again. Jensen blinked as he tried to push back the darkness creeping in on his vision and everything seemed to slow around him as he made out what the boy was trying to say….
The words were the last thing that Jensen knew as the world around him faded away.
Dying had a strange way of throwing things into perspective but as his memories coalesced Jensen barely paid them any mind because he had a mission now, one that he would be damned before he failed.
Carlos had always been a sickly child. At the age of seven his mama had to pull him from his school because all the days spent at home had put him so far behind his other classmates. Maria Alvarez couldn’t stay at home with him because she needed to work but Carlos was never truly alone.
Carlos never told anyone about the blond boy that he could sometimes see even though the boy didn’t seem to be able to see him.
When the pain of his illness grew too great and he was confined to his bed Carlos watched the boy’s life unfold in an attempt to distract himself from the sorrow in his mama’s eyes.
The doctors had used words like cancer and terminal but Carlos didn’t know what any of those meant. All he could do was lay there and hope that the boy would come back and he always did.
Sometimes the boy looked older but at other times he was even smaller than Carlos was. But it never truly mattered because as long as the other boy was there Carlos didn’t feel as afraid.
Carlos was eighteen when his abuela came to visit for the first time. The woman was his father’s mother but Carlos had never laid eyes on her. His mama said that she couldn’t see him because he reminded the woman of the son that she’d lost. Carlos had never known his papa but he’d seen pictures and he couldn’t truly blame her because he did look like the man.
His abuela was a small woman with shrewd eyes that made Carlos want to duck his head to keep from meeting her gaze but then she smiled and Carlos couldn’t help but copy the action.
“You look like my Jose but I can feel the Santiago blood in your veins,” she whispered when Maria was gone, her fingers gripping Carlos’ as she glanced around the room. “So where is it? I can feel it lingering in this place.”
Carlos frowned at her. “Where is what?” he asked but his abuela just sighed, wrinkling her nose.
“You are sick, you have been sick since the moment you were born but here in this place it does not get worse, si?”
Carlos nodded, uncertain of what his abuela was trying to say but before he could ask the boy was back again except this time he wasn’t a boy.
The only thing of the boy that remained in the soldier before him was the colour of his hair and eyes. This man carried himself with none of the uncertainty that the boy used to wear like a cloak and when he smiled Carlos’ heart thundered in his chest.
The sound of his abuela’s laughter drew him back to the present and Carlos frowned at her but the woman wasn’t looking at him, instead her eyes were glued to the soldier who was slowly fading.
“This is what you give your energy to…..I cannot say I disapprove, he is muy guapo.”
“My energy?” Carlos asked in confusion because his abuela could see what he did, something that not even his mama could.
The woman nodded as she patted his hand. “There is much I have to tell you, Carlito but you must remember that there will be a choice, you or him. Choose wisely, my little brujo.”
When Jensen opened his eyes he was standing in his old room but it wasn’t his room anymore. It hadn’t been his room for over fifty years and he knew that know, he knew that the only reason that he was here was because of the boy lying on the bed in front of him.
His uniform felt stiff with blood and dirt but Jensen’s focus was only on the rise and falls of the teen’s chest and as he knelt beside the bed the kid opened his eyes.
“Hey, kiddo….” Jensen whispered and the boy’s lips curled into a slow smile.
“Hola,” he croaked, his voice faint and Jensen’s chest ached because he’d done this. If the kid hadn’t been here, hadn’t been pouring his energy into him he wouldn’t be dying, not now. He couldn’t believe that he’d been scared of this boy once when all the teen had been doing was keeping him from fading away.
Cold fingers pressing against his face made him glance up into brown eyes that held more knowledge than they should have and when the boy reached out Jensen grabbed his hand.
Around them the room seemed to shimmer and then between one breath and the next the boy sat up, leaving behind an empty corpse, when he tried to look back Jensen pulled on his hand keeping the kid’s focus on him.
“Hey wanna see something nifty?” he asked and the boy nodded as his fingers tightened around Jensen’s. Jensen grinned and reached down beneath his skin for the energy he could feel now that he knew what was going on and then he shoved it into the link.
The world exploded into a kaleidoscope of colours that seemed to flow through and around them until it stopped and Jensen was looking down at the body on the bed again as the boy sucked in a sharp breath and then another.
A hand on his shoulder made Jensen glance behind him and he frowned at the strange old woman that was smiling down at him.
“You made the right choice, he deserves to live,” she murmured and Jensen bit his lip as he looked down at the boy again.
“So I guess this is the part where I get sent to wherever people go after they’re dead, right?” he asked but the woman just snorted.
“For your kind death is not the end….all you must do now is wait,” she responded and Jensen frowned.
“Wait for what?”
The woman’s smile shifted into a smirk. “For him.”