Disclaimer: I don't own The Shades of London nor Ghost by Parachute.

The funny thing is, it's not until your body is lying in a morgue and the manifestation of your vestigial memory is wandering about place to place, that you realize being a ghost is boring.

Mind you, Stephen is an extraordinarily strong ghost; he can pick things up and move around quite a bit (if the confines of Goodwin Court are anything to judge by).

But it's still tedious.

He wanders around Goodwin Court for hours on end, watching the people pass in and out, normal people with normal lives and he finds himself wishing, only for a second, that he could be like that: alive and with Boo and Callum and Rory-

He stops himself there. There's no point wishing for impossible things.

Rory sees him first.

She's at Goodwin Court, and it's an awful, dreary day, with heavy clouds and misty fog and it's cold cold cold (she's been in England for like six months she should be used to this by now) and when she sees him her feet stop and she doesn't know how long she stands there; motionless in a moving crowd.

Somehow though, she gets her feet to move and soon she's standing not three feet from him, watching him watch the people pass by with something akin to ennui, but not quite.

"What's it like, being dead?"

His eyes meet hers and suddenly she's reminded of the feel of his lips against hers, of a world where she wrote letters and he didn't like her seeing him without a shirt on and a world where he went to sleep and never woke up.


She bites her lip and he is struck by the sudden urge to press her body against his and hold on and never ever let go.

Rory takes another step forward, and almost touches him, before remembering you can't do that anymore and lets her arm drop to her side.

You will destroy him.

Stephen knows what she's thinking. She's thinking she can't touch him because he will actually die this time, that she will be responsible and she won't lose him again. He still remembers her voice inside his mind, yelling at him not to leave, not to leave the prison of his mind and his cage of a body because goddamn it you're meant to stay HERE!

His eyes stay on hers, and they don't waver when Rory reaches into her pocket to text Boo.

"goodwin court. now."

When Boo finally gets there there's a lot of squealing and hugging (she's surprised at this: he's almost solid) and a lot of stares from people who don't understand and somehow they all end up at an empty café, sitting at a table, staring at each other and going what now?

Because they honestly didn't think they'd get this far.

After a few days, they run into a bit of a predicament.

Stephen, for lack of a better word, haunts Rory.

It's nothing drastic, because he still talks and he can still move and he doesn't make a complete nuisance of himself (he nearlyalmostdefinitely snorts when Rory asks him why not. "I'm not a poltergeist." He tells her) so really its just like having an extremely smart friend wandering five feet behind her at all times, who can't stop following her. (if he were given the choice, he wouldn't stop anyway, but it'd be the day the Ninth Circle of hell went up in flames when he admitted this)

Rory doesn't exactly mind, it's nice having him around and he helps her keep her wit when she's in the Tube and there's a ghost that needs to die (again) and the scary thing is, it almost feels familiar having him around like this. (Except its most certainly not. She touched him before, back when he was alive).

But one day, his fingers brush against hers when they're back at the apartment (alone. Callum and Boo went to get take-out) she feels the numbing sensation and Jesus not now please not now its not time yet and she gets one glimpse of his broken and almost empty-but-not-quite eyes as bright lights fill her vision.

It wasn't meant to end like this.

After she's sure the flash has faded, she keeps her eyes closed for a minute more and wonders idly if she could stay like that, only see black for the rest of her life because she is absolutely sure that's all she'll see if she opens them anyway; just an everlasting pit of black with no living Stephen and no ghost of Stephen and god she's sure her heart is frozen because she feels so cold and-


Right. She opens her eyes.

Um, okay.

"What the shit."

Because Stephen is there in the flesh, with his pulse beating a rapid beat against his throat and his warm hand over hers and she doesn't know how this works but it's enough for now.

And it's the strangest thing; she never knew how cold she was until he's wrapped up in her and she's wrapped up in him, and she can feel her blood thaw and her heart start to beat and it's like (as cliché as it sounds) someone's turned the sun on again.

Rain howls against the windows and thunder booms in the distance; London's in the midst of a storm and she couldn't care less.

Life after that gets a little bit more normal (translated: as normal as it can get).

It goes something like this:

They still don't know how Stephen-becoming-Stephen-again happened, exactly, but Rory's still their terminus and Stephen's alive so they're okay with it. (It's the nature of the Shades to just go with it, no questions asked)

Rory gets a second chance at Wexford (and promptly drops it. She's far too behind to ever catch up now and coming back again only lead to questions and covert whispering and even Rory can only talk for so long about a family emergency in back home involving her Aunt Diane and four out of the eight freezers her uncle has). Besides, spending time with your dead leader takes precedence over schoolwork anyway, she argues with Stephen.

And they pull some strings to get rid of Stephen's grave (None of them want to go down there, see the coffin and that rectangle of granite with his name on it) and they have to erase his autopsy and the records taken in the mortuary because you can't exactly have an officially dead person wandering around London and doing rounds in a police unit, it sends people into a bit of a tizzy.

And Stephen and Rory continue with their sort-of-kind-of-but-not-really relationship, in which Rory makes jokes that Stephen doesn't really get but still smiles at, and Stephen makes very involved lectures concerning ghosts and how a terminus is suspected to work, which Rory doesn't get at all, but nods along with anyway.

They still don't know where Jane and Charlotte are and Rory is technically missing as far as the parents and the rest of the police force are concerned (yeah, again, sometime after her leaving Wexford for the third time) but the Shades actually have a leader that will hopefully help sort this mess out, because it's really just a huge tangle of coincidences and unfortunate timing and complexity and they don't know what the bloody hell to do.

But it will work out, it always does.

Wow… um, sorry. [Forthishorse-poopexcuseofafanfic]. I needed to do this to combat my stephen x rory feels because it was NOT OKAY FOR MAUREEN JOHNSON TO DO THAT IT WAS NOT OKAY AT ALL.