The reality of it hit him with the impact of a subway train.
They hadn’t fully crossed over, they were just... trapped.
In this place.
All this time, when he had given up holding séances at the bar to find them. To make absolutely sure. They were still here.
Logan couldn’t blame them for being upset. For being angry.
Misdirected or not.
KayKay clung to his arm, goosebumps raising where her fingers partially disappeared into his skin. It was for comfort more than anything, but in that moment he wasn’t sure if it was for her sake or for his. They’d both lost Jonah, and he’d lost Sammy... lost them both...
Logan didn’t look down.
He couldn’t tear his gaze away from his brother’s dead eyes.
“Jonah... C’mon, man...”
Whatever Melkhiresa was trying to summon with that spell to fix this, he wished she’d do it faster. It might’ve been irrational, and it wasn’t fair on her – she was new to this, after all.
Logan stood between them, trying to keep their attention off the others, most of all off her. She wasn’t the one who had murdered them. All she’d ever done was try to make it right.
But the specters of their past shrieked for the unrighteous death that had been inflicted on them. Malevolence rolled off the spirits like a thunderstorm... a heavy pressure, boiling over, threatening to shear and crack. So much pain, the cumulative result of which was lash out and share their agony with the living.
The power behind him surged and ebbed, and Logan chanced looking back.
Just in time to see the pale aura of energy surrounding Melkhiresa dissipate into nothing, and the glow fade from her eyes.
The expression on her face was horrified.
Worse than the handful of moments before, when the victims of her body’s past crimes manifested, seemingly out of nowhere.
“I can’t...” she said. Her gaze was on the floor, and she glanced about it as though looking for an answer. Or an escape. “The ba jiao gui... she can... she can help, but...”
Vicki was staring at the ghosts. Or what she could see of them. Eli was staring at Melkhiresa. Logan glanced back, at the distorted Halloween horror show of his dead brother and his dead friend, and risked putting his attention on Melkhiresa.
“What is it?” Eli asked, almost imperceptivity gentle under the screaming of the ghouls.
“If I summon her here,” Melkhiresa tried again, fixing her gaze on Logan, “she can help, but it means... eating them... destroying them.”
KayKay’s fingers dug a little deeper into his arm, and Logan understood the implications before Melkhiresa had even finished talking. It meant death. Of the dead.
“I can’t do that to them, it’s not their fault.”
Melkhiresa sounded panicked. At a loss. Logan’s heart ached in sympathy – for her, for them, maybe for himself.
He swallowed his misgivings.
“No, it’s okay,” he told her. “I get it.”
“I’ll stay here and try to talk some sense into them.” He wrapped an arm around KayKay’s shoulders. Not that he could touch her, but that didn’t stop him from doing it. Glancing down, he nodded to her. “Looks like you’re up.”
The little ghost’s head bobbed as she returned the nod. She ran in a specific pattern around him – and a couple of times straight through him, which even given the he gravity of the situation he was all but certain was just to mess with him, personally – which drew the circle. Then KayKay closed her eyes, extending her hand in the same pose of a video game character casting a spell.
The circle fluttered into existence around him, and the intensity of the ghost’s wrath waned in the space within it. Still palpable, but closer to a humid summer breeze.
With a tight smile, he turned to the others. Eli’s subtly impressed expression wasn’t lost on him. Nor was Vicki’s completely out of her element, but trying and for the most part succeeding to keep her cool stance as she kept her eyes on the threat. Melkhiresa only stared, guilt and concern playing across her face.
“Don’t worry about me; I’ll be safe for a while,” he told them. He tried not to think of how that might’ve been even safer than they would be... provided they did in fact manage to come back for him. “Get going.”
Not at first.
Melkhiresa didn’t move, and so neither did Eli. Vicki did, but didn’t move far.
When Melkhiresa did move, it was to fling herself into the circle with him, straight into his arms, in an embrace that surprised him. Tight, desperate. In that instant, he couldn’t tell if she was seeking comfort, or trying to share it.
“I’m sorry,” she rambled, “I’m so sorry, for Jonah, for Sammy, for everything, I-...”
“It wasn’t you,” he reminded her.
“I know, but I... it’s my fault, and I was there and I couldn’t...”
It could be instinctive.
Caring about someone.
Though he might’ve learned some of it from her. ...or... from her.
The thought soured in his chest, and he hugged Melkhiresa tighter. She surprised him again, tilting her face to kiss his cheek before settling in his arms.
“Ugh,” KayKay protested, the way any given ten year old was liable to do.
“We’ll be back,” Melkhiresa whispered. There was a hitch in her throat as she promised, “I’ll be back.”
“I know you will.”
She lingered, just a few moments longer.
Then she slid away.
And Logan breathed out.
He was mindful of their escape, of Melkhiresa giving what she could see of Sammy and Jonah a wide berth, and the others following her footsteps.
Leaving just him.
Him and two pissed off ghosts.
“I think she likes you.”
And KayKay’s singsong, most know-it-all voice.
She stuck out her tongue.
“Alright you two,” Logan said, shifting his full attention to the ghosts. “Let’s talk about this, huh?”