"Who's that kid with the new guy?" Lester asked Paulina, dowsing the muddy circle of rocks once more to be completely sure it was out. She shrugged, stirring the mush with a thick branch.

"Donno, probably some homeschooled looser invited with his grandparents or something." She glanced up through her thick wavy hair to see the two making their way up to the porch. The group had stayed out until the fire had burned away and people had gotten fidgety. Not willing to take the chance of someone stepping out of the circle and doing who knew what to the magical energies they were gathering, because in the movies bad things always happened when people stepped out of the circle, they had dowsed the flame and closed the circle. "I didn't even see him come out with us, strange."

"He's dressed all weird."

"Its Halloween nitwit, he probably just came from a costume party, probably has a kid brother or something." Tossing the big stick aside she grabbed him by the arm and tugged him in the direction of the house. "All right, we're all done; let's go get something to eat. My Dad's probably flipping anyway."


Dash had long since tucked the shivering brunette under his arm, enjoying the feel of the lithe body against his firmer, thicker one. "You really should have brought a jacket," said Dash, "it's like, fifty degrees out here."

"I didn't expect," Danny bit his lip, looked up at Dash and contemplated, "to be outside this long." He finished.

"Yeah, me either." He chuckled, "But look," he hugged the boy closer, "warmth."

Danny glanced at the hand squeezing his shoulder and frowned "Mop-molly." he muttered lower than Dash's ears could pick up. If he had known, he wouldn't have spent the fifteen something minutes in circle plotting out exactly how he was going to nab the key now that he was corporeal. His own arm snaked around Dash's waist and he pressed his head against the shoulder behind it. "Hmm." He hummed a pleased sound, willing the ramrod out of his spine. Maybe it wasn't the most acceptable thing to do, but it was the easiest access to the infernal key, and it was damnably cold out here.

Dash laughed, a ridiculously pleased expression on his face. Danny resisted the urge to dig his knuckles into a specific point along the larger boy's back. "Well," Dash tried, "My name's Dash, Dash Baxter. I live here."

"I hardly thought you were dead here." Danny retorted with a tight, cruel grin Dash didn't quite notice, but he did flush rather well in embarrassment at the jab and that brought Danny's mood up a notch. He wondered if he acted so familiar with other strange boys he'd only met, then discarded it as not being his business.

"You're not a people person are you?"

"It's been said." Danny replied, feeling the shift in the arm around him. Dash was no longer comfortably intimate with the smaller teen.

"Glad I guessed before you let it be known." He attempted a laughed.

Danny didn't answer. Dash saw his attention had been caught, for some reason, by a falling leaf.

It was mud brown, hardly a pretty color for an autumn leaf, and twisted in the air as though it were having trouble staying afloat. The other leaves blew around it tauntingly, their artful perfection, something to behold during the day, had turned into a shivering shadowed performance. Somewhat sinister if one angled their dark poetic thoughts just so.

A warm, solid Danny was less for the angst at the moment then the lonely brooding astral version of twenty minutes ago, and so rather than let the poor deformed outcast flutter helplessly to the ground as any cynical ghost would he extended his hand and allowed the husk to rest in his palm.

This was all a very important character millstone, complete with slow motion actions and thoughts whirring by at unmeasured speeds, within his own mind but to his companion he simply halted mid conversation to reach his hand out and catch a falling leaf. A dried, chipped, unattractive falling leaf.

"Well what's your name?"

"My name is…" he glanced up at Dash's face, a smiling curving his lips, "Danny…and we just caught a leaf on Halloween."

Dash blinked, confused, letting his arm fall from around the teen. This was an unusual boy. "You caught it." He curved Danny's fingers around the exposed item with his own before the wind took it away. "I'm told its good luck."

Danny looked down at their touching hands and felt a bit of embarrassment sting his cheeks. He was behaving like a giddy loon. What kind of poetic symbolism could his ancient mind find in a tattered old leaf? "Nonsense, what do I need of luck?" or good health for that matter. He was dead! And no matter how suddenly besotted Dash acted he was merely responding to their unexplainable familiarity due to spending so much time together. What did the body know of life and death other than its own?

They had been standing still so long that the Hispanic girl and her boy now past, looking queerly at them, Danny particularly, before climbing up the front steps and entering the anteroom to rejoin the party.

Dash watched them go, mind lounging idly in some rather interesting instances were a bit of luck might be useful. Not that he believed a leaf could be lucky; his teenage mind had simply latched onto the phrase. His curved lips spread wider.

"You're really quite perverse." Danny thumped a hand onto the boys shoulder, but before Dash could answer he shoved his hands under his own arms, effectively crumbling the leaf in his fist, and scowled. "Can we go inside now? I swear I'll have frost nip on my ass by the time this conversation ends." He clomped up the stairs in his shiny leather boots.

Dash admired the back of dust colored breeches for a moment before joining him.

"That's better." He breathed in the warmth of the house, closing the door, and the chilly night, behind him.

"If by better you mean squished," Danny crowded closer to the blonde, "how many people are here?"

"I don't really know," he glanced around the room, surely there hadn't been this many before, "but we've got the upper story closed off so it only looks like a lot." He paused. "I think." He turned his attention back to the kid practically clinging to him, eyebrow raised. "There aren't any people upstairs."

Pompous presumptuous pig. That the peawitted boy would think he would be carted off like some debutante whose chaperone wandered a bit too far, it was plain madness! "Lead the way." He linked his arm through Dash's and allowed himself to be pulled towards the staircase. Could he pass by such a suspiciously convenient offer of seclusion with the object of his affliction? Surely a mad dash down the hallway would halt whatever sodomitic activities that tiny brain of his may be planning.

Oh if he were still alive he would be throttled good for letting himself fall into such a cabbaged situation. His sister at the very least would have boxed his ears.

But he wasn't, he was simply solid again. Never mind the intake of breath or the beat of a heart, he couldn't still be alive, and wouldn't make the faithful, hopeful leap to such a conclusion until he also discovered he could bleed as red as before. And his sister and family were just as long gone as his original body.

He could still see the sway of their corpses from the gallows, particularly his sisters, whose light weight had prevented her neck from snapping like his parents had. It had taken forever before she strangled. At least, it had seemed like that to him.

"Oh Dash! Come here a moment, I want you to meet someone!" Danny felt Dash's muscles beneath his fingers tighten as his mother came into view.

"Mom," Dash turned a bright smile to his mother, who halted in her charge towards him to stare at the two mixed into the crowd. "I'd like you to meet someone too."

"Daniel." Danny offered, and dipped his head in an acknowledging manner. "Your party is going nicely Mrs. Baxter."

"Yes." Mrs. Baxter blinked. Danny wondered if she would place a hand over her breast like the women of the hamlet always did when he pinned them with his eyes. His mother and sister never did such a thing, and Danny quickly acknowledged it as a technique used by ladies most likely to swoon. He sternly avoided contact with such weak women. "Thankyou, well I'm Dash's mother." She gave an uncertain grin, somehow uneasy with the hard edges of the boys smile. "I'd thought I'd met all the parents, but I suppose I missed yours."

"I've only recently arrived." He explained, not relinquishing his hold on Dash's arm though Dash looked clearly uncomfortable in this position. Danny was getting a bit of perverse pleasure from the exchange. "My parents are deceased I'm afraid, but my guardians wanted me to get out and become reacquainted with our neighbors." Who said powerful guardians were he couldn't fathom, but surely the universe had some kind of reason to place him in this blundering mess.

"Oh my dear, I'm so sorry to hear that!" The emptiness of the phrase was not lost on Danny, but that was admissible as simple human nature. He wasn't one for empathy either, and didn't begrudge another their false statements of mourn.

"I had no idea." Dash said softly and Danny glanced out of the corner of his eye, assessing this sudden change in demeanor. Dash looked a bit ashen at this declaration, understandable as he had just realized he had tried to tup an orphan, Danny entertained a fantasy of his realizing said urchin was in actuality an apparition. His lips twitched in amusement. Dash was no longer holding his arm in a limp polite interweave as he had been doing since his mother approached, but subconsciously triangled his appendage against his hip and locked their elbows together with a bit more possessiveness then he had previously.

"It was long ago." He found himself waving off the surprisingly genuine condolences, even if it wasn't in a condolence form. The sad note in Dash's voice was enough to know he had stepped into a sensitive area of conversation. Better to maneuver out of this quickly.

"Yes, well Dash I wanted to introduce you to some of your little friends' parents." She latched onto his other elbow and attempted to steer the two of them in some odd direction that pointed away from the staircase.

"Mom, can we please save this for some other time?" Dash complained, he dug his heels in a bit, causing the perky blonde to halt.

"Dash, we discussed thin." She said sternly.

"Mom." He glanced down at Danny, then back up at her, clearly trying to communicate his torn priorities. "Please."

Mrs. Baxter narrowed her assessing eyes at Danny an instant, but didn't answer verbally. Instead, she simply let go of Dash's arm and held up her hands in defeat, purposefully turning her back and marching away to her chosen destination.

Danny didn't quite know how to react. Shouldn't he be a bit more downtrodden that he was now free to be alone upstairs with a male with questionable taste? He stomped down the pleasure of seeing the woman retreat and instead turned his attention to the collar of Dash's turtleneck. It was all simply for the key. That was it.

"Shall we?" Dash asked softly, and began leading him once again through the thick crowd.

Danny wondered why he wasn't just a little bit apprehensive of what would no doubt happen next, apparently after several hundred years he wasn't the bashful youth he had once been.


It hadn't taken even his slow mind long in realizing leaving an orphaned antisocial in the middle of a crowded house party was a very bad idea. Danny had already confessed to not being a people person, and with him having no family, it was hardly a wonder why. He had said "guardians" not sister, uncle, grandparents, or even brother, so he was either not on good terms, or in foster care. Most likely the later, so being around people he didn't know possibly would be the worst thing for him.

"Dash." Danny said, stumbling to keep from falling back down the stairs "Dash will you stop please you're pulling my arm at an angle it wasn't meant to go."

And the way he talked! This kid was hardly likely to get many friends at a social gathering that required both people skills and careful wording and-


"Wha? Oh sorry." Dash unlocked his arm and let Danny take his own back. "Guess I was kind of preoccupied." Danny snorted at that. "Hey, you could at least pretend to be friendly, you are at my party, and I did just save you from being overcrowded and pecked at."

Danny did his part to look suitably contrite. "Sorry, I just really don't like big gatherings." Considering the last one he attended was his family's execution. And on the subject of things he didn't like, overzealous, arrogant sexual deviants should really be on that list.

"Forget about it." Dash grumbled. "I don't like them either, yet my mom's always throwing parties and making me schmooze. I hate it." They stopped their walking. "Heh, um this is my room." Dash pressed a hand to the partially closed door, but hesitated, glancing back at Danny.

"Don't smirk at me." Danny scowled. "It's impolite and arrogant."

Dash blinked. He hadn't even noticed he had been smirking, thinking more of how familiar those blue eyes were and where he may have seen a pair like them before. In fact, everything about the teen was oddly familiar; hell for all Dash knew he may have just found his soul mate. The idea brought a bit of the giddy romanticist out from that locked "unmanly" door in his mind.

Danny just stared up at him through his dark bangs. "And why exactly," he asked softly, "did you bring me up here to your room?" A shrewd smile slit his lips, "You don't even know me."

Perhaps his reason lay in the intensity of those pretty blue eyes, or maybe the slight cruelty in his bright smile, or maybe it was because out of all the people he had met in his entire life and all their hardships Dash had never met someone whose past actually made him care, and he didn't even know a damn thing about Danny's past.

Dash blushed, realizing he was staring. "Maybe I'm just attracted."

Cool fingers touched the nape of his neck. Dash let out a breath, adrenaline humming through him. Ice cold. He looked back at the predatory change in the teen's facial features. Really, really attracted.

Danny hadn't warmed at all since they came inside, he noticed it as well, the fire beneath the pads of his fingers reminding him that he could not create his own heat. He edged his thumb across Dash's pulse idly in thought, listening to the hitch in the teen's breath, a reaction even through the fabric of his shirt. It was as he suspected, he wasn't really returned to life.

The thought should have saddened, at the very least disappointed, but instead Danny felt some strange curiosity bloom within him. He rubbed his thumb against Dash's vein again and delighted in the increase of thumps between the first and this second caress.

Why did such a simple act as this cause Dash to react as he was when they had been all but embracing throughout most of their walk up here and he had done nothing but talk? Did the sudden seclusion increase his desires? He had heard of some who enjoyed being watched while in the throes of passion, was Dash not one of these? He had believed all deviants were pretty much the same, did they enjoy different things? If so, what would Dash like, surely not animals, he didn't even have a goldfish. And how would that work exactly? Did he only favor those of his own gender, but he hadn't reacted to the other young men, particularly the well built Asian? Perhaps Danny was just emasculate enough for the man to convince himself he was not being perverse.

Or, perhaps his neck was just a supersensitive spot.

Danny wondered if all scientists scrutinized and calculated their moves as he was doing. Somehow breaking it all down to questions and experiments made it all the more intriguing. It was almost acceptable.

Dash stared at the contemplative boy, "You know we should really," but he never finished the sentence.

Danny had practically had to jump to breech their distance in height, but when he got both arms around his neck and their lips found each other the little attempt at a leap didn't matter, neither did the fact that the door behind Dash was slightly ajar so when he thumped back against it, momentarily off balance, it swung open noiselessly and allowed them to topple into the room.

Dash didn't know if it were the kiss or the hard thunk his head had taken when he hit the floor that made his breath catch and his eyes roll back, but whichever it was Danny's moist tongue slipping between his lips kept it that way. His small, cold body sprawled on top of him, hands entangled in his hair, Dash could feel his pants tighten as his own hands found narrow hips and gripped them firmly.

His skin was hot, his heart thudding wildly between their chests, but Danny's own body was cool and calm, his pulse a constant steady beat. His curiosity piqued he broke the kiss, breathing heavily while the brunette attacked his cheek, his ear, nuzzled up near the corner of his eye. A light butterfly kiss grazed against his flushed face, the painfully soft sensation tearing a moan from him. Eyelashes like baby rabbits fur, just like his hair.

Danny finally allowed himself to be pushed back, exhaling softly, finger touching his lips.

"First kiss?" Dash asked voice hoarse. Danny nodded. "Wouldn't have noticed," if not for the bleary look in his eyes and the tentative way his little pink tongue slipped out to moisten his lips. Not that Dash had such a deep well of experience either. Dash touched a finger to Danny's soft black hair; it stirred beneath his fingertip as if the disturbed air around it were ripples in the water, pulling at them.

"You're so pretty." Dash breathed.

Danny leaned into the touch, settling his weight fully onto Dash's torso and off his knees, crossing his arms across Dash's chest and staring up at the flushed teen. "Pretty?" he asked, incredulous. Dash nodded, smiling that stupid lopsided grin fondly as he continued to stare. "You sir, are no sweet poet."

"I can live with that." Dash couldn't understand how hair could be so dark it drank up light, or skin so pale it glowed, but it was there beneath his fingers and all the romance novels in the world wouldn't give him the words to describe the vision the boy created. Still, if he could have it in his hands what need did he have of the pen? "I can live with you too."

Danny pulled back suddenly, his petite bottom dropping into Dash's lap. Dash, surprised at the sudden movement, propped himself up on his elbows to stare curiously at the boy.

"Heh," Danny snorted, "you really think so?"

Dash cocked his head. "Well yeah, I mean we've got all this chemistry. I thought that instant attraction crap was all in books but, I like you." Danny's eye twitched, he looked a little between incredulous and sickened. Dash gave him a sincere pleading look. "I like you." He repeated.

"Yeah, well it goes unrequited," Danny hissed, "because I know I can't live with you."

Dash tried to sit up but Danny wasn't moving from his spot. "What are you talking about?" Dash looked up at the irate little brunette, beyond confused. This was practically a love at first sight relationship, the guy had literally jumped on him, and he was HOT! Dash had always figured he'd end up with some thick lipped emo with dyed hair and a piercing or two. How could he just toss it aside?

Dash groaned internally, sure he had just walked into one of those clichéd romance plots where the main character's love interest tried to cry ignorant of their obvious compatibility. Figures he would have to be among the real life examples. "You can't tell me you didn't feel the connection." Dash complained.

"Hardly." Danny sniffed. "My apologies, but I don't consider myself one for sodomy."

Sodomite? Dash wrinkled his nose, hardly anybody says sodomy anymore. "And yet here you are straddling me." He retorted. "You can't honestly think you could just kiss a guy and then say you're not gay, you don't even have the helpful excuse of alcohol to fall back on." A pause, "Do you?"

Danny's jaw fell. "I don't dip into that well thank you." He snarled.

"Which one? The gay or the drink?"

"Neither! And to even suggest I do is so, you're such a, I can't even think of a name!" Danny gripped his hair but, Dash noticed, didn't move to get up off his lap. "You are so infuriating, I can't even begin to describe you."

"Hey," Dash interrupted, noticing something. "What's that in your hand?"

Danny blinked, his fists coming down to his neckline. "What do you mean?" He played.

"Don't toy Danny, what do you have, I just saw it shine." Dash reached out but Danny swatted his hand away, effectively smacking Dash loose the balance he had placed on his left elbow. Dash's head hit the floor for the second time that evening.

"What do you mean saw it shine? There's no light here?" Danny challenged.

"That's stupid, of course there's light, I can see just fine there has to be light." Dash paused, realizing for the first time that Danny was right. There was no light. No wonder his hair had appeared to be nothing but bottomless darkness, it had no light to reflect. But he could swear he could see perfectly, even make out the details of Danny's glowing eyes. "Oh, wow." Dash's eyes widened.

"What?" Danny snapped, irritated and trying to hide his full fist by crossing his arms.

"You're glowing." Dash muttered. And was it just his imagination, or was he also a bit…see through?

Danny glanced down at himself to discover that he was, indeed, glowing. It wasn't a magnificent shine, in fact it didn't illuminate anything around him, bit this kind of luminescent pallor in his skin. He stared at his hands in astonishment, he hadn't been glowing before, or at least it had been too bright to notice, even outside where the bonfire and moon could be used as an excuse.

Hey, there was dirt under his nails.

And, if he concentrated, he was fairly certain he could see Dash's shocked face beyond his palms, or rather through his palms. Was he reverting back to his astral form? Awe, but he thought he'd at least have until freaking daylight. That was less than an hour, what a total disappointment.

His slow, cruel smile sent a shiver through Dash, making his spine straighten, the muscles in his shoulders and neck tighten, and the hairs on his arms rose to attention. None pointing to anything good.

"Sorry, looks like I'll be leaving sooner then I realized." Danny dangled something in Dash's face, it gleamed metallically in the rising glow of his near translucent flesh.

"The key!" Dash cried shoulders and neck rising from the floor.

"My key." Danny corrected, using one near invisible finger to push the boy back down by his forehead. "And you aren't ever going to find where it goes."

And then he was gone.

Just gone!

No more weight in Dash's lap, no more glow in the room, no more totally cute potential boyfriend, and no more key!

Dash took in a few deep breaths, wide eyes dancing wildly across the dark room, then let out a yell.

Poor Dash, you really should have used those last few minutes with him getting some, instead of arguing over stupid stuffs. Just goes to show you, when Dash opens his mouth, nothing good comes out. Now he gets to spend a good part of the next chapter looking like a loon claiming he just made out with a ghost. His friendship making skills so are not improving.

I love Danny's way of speaking. Obviously since he's been hovering around and interacting with Sam and her grandmother and on the occasion Tucker, he should know how to speak appropriately, but like an out of style parent he still uses terms from his own generation.

Now the real fun starts, because once you find out you have a ghost, and that you and that ghost have some (ahem) things in common, and that the ghost is around near all the time, you tend to not want to do some personal stuff. You know, like dressing, bathing, masturbating, and sleeping.

It's this whole voyeurism phobia.

See you when I update Photo Opportunities (Because I swear I will!)