Work Header

Being Real

Chapter Text

He is bodiless, and therefore shapeless. He doesn't know what he is, except that he's not what he used to be. He remembers - if the flashes of knowledge that pass through him at odd times can be called memory - being different. Being solid, being real. He recalls the scent of the scarlet flower, although he can't remember the name of it.


It looks like blood pooled atop the thorny green stem. He remembers blood, too. The sight, the smell, the sound of it dripping onto the floor.


The sun is walking down the street. It's odd enough to catch his capricious attention. He follows a little closer than he ought, and realizes it's not the sun after all - it's a man with golden hair. Heat beats off him like a fire.


He hasn't felt heat in…


“Stop following me.”


The man's voice is rough, and for a long moment, confusing. There's no one else on the road, not even traffic.


Then, abruptly, he realizes: the man is talking to him.


He swirls away, alarmed and distorted.



He can't keep track of days. He doesn't know how much time passes, only that it does. Again and again, he returns to the same street. The flower has died, petals drooping and dropping away one by one until there's nothing left. Sometimes he feels like the flower; he wonders if pieces of him are disappearing into the void, falling off and rotting away to nothing. It would explain a lot.


He feels the heat before he sees the man this time. He's just discovered that he can touch things - there's a single petal on the asphalt, brilliant against the dull grey stone. He's hovering, condensed, above it, and reaches out, astonished when he can feel the velvety texture against the nothing that is his existence.


He turns/shifts/folds into the heat from the other side of the street and watches the man cross, a blank expression on his face that does little to hide the irritation he's feeling, given away by the tense set of his shoulders and the way his hand clenches at his side. The other hand is occupied with - something.


It's round, doughy, flaky. There's a smudge of darkness at the edge of the man's lip.


“You again? Go away.”


Ignoring the voice, he drifts closer.


“I said leave me alone,” the man warns. He can't possibly be talking to him. He doesn't exist the way this man does. In the world, but not of it.

The man throws his pastry at him. It passes through him, and he feels it. He feels it. It leaves a sticky residue behind somehow. Sweetness surges through him, and with it, the name of the pastry. Doughnut.


“Fuck off,” says the man, irritably, and he dissolves into nothingness.



He coalesces again inside a building. It's sparsely decorated, and clearly someone's home. He's never appeared in a house before. It's startling enough that he nearly implodes, swirling with enough energy to ruffle the pages of a book on the table nearby.


Questions race through him. Where is he? How did he get here? Why is he here instead of the park, or the zoo, or the other places he spends what passes for his time.


The door opens and admits the blond man. He stares straight through him, and scowls.




He cannot reply because he has no words, much less a body to form them. Instead, he projects his overwhelming confusion.


The man seems to understand him. “Can’t you find someone else to haunt?”


He doesn't know the word 'haunt.’ His confusion increases.


“Fantastic. Of all the ghosts in the world, I get the stupid one.”


Ghost. He knows this word. He tries it out on himself.


I am a ghost.


But it's terrifying. Ghost implies dead. He's not dead. He's not .


“Life sucks and then you die,” the man says, unhelpfully. “And apparently that sucks too. Better luck next time.”


“Fuck you.”