Based on the song "Goodnight and Go" by Imogen Heap. Those lyrics are actually terrifying.
They are responsible for this whole creepy mess.
The awkward little shuffles that constituted the teenager's dance steps along the barren, lamp lit street that day on his way home from school was what caught his attention in the evening:
That Auburn hair, bobbing and bouncing as he sang tunelessly, blissfully unaware of his acute tonal deafness beyond gigantic head phones. He was obviously entranced in a woman's song, as his voice strained to reach the higher notes, but he went for it all the same, bathed in the sallow yellow light of looming halogens overhead.
The shadow that perched atop the concrete neck of the light couldn't contain a small, unadulterated grin, never in all his time following the boy had this occurred. He'd seen him other days, occasionally stopping at the local café to apparently collect his usual from a salty hook handed man. Other times the kid would just head home, bobbing his head to the monotonous thud within his ear phones… But this sound. It rose, fell, chimed and was much more up beat than usual, and the mood was apparently contagious. It spread through his stick like limbs until they waved without abandon, clumsy feet rising on to the ball and hopping lightly from paving stone to paving stone.
This sight made the shadow laugh out loud, and he hung by his legs from the lamp post's bar, white spikes suspended in calm winds that let him drift down. He landed silently behind the boy, a good two paces or so. Watching. Following him as he always did, so close but unable to reach out for the youth before him… Always just a touch away. So he did what he did best, and the only thing he could do:
He leaned forward when the dancing teen came to a stop, searching for his door keys, and blew a kiss very lightly against the back of that slender little neck before him. Pale lips pulled back in satisfaction when hairs bristled on the freckled skin, a warm hand darting up to cover the cold patch…
Just like he'd had to in that same spot. For the last two weeks. Hiccup shivered, removing his hand and wondering whether someone had buried a body beneath his porch without his knowledge recently… Or whether someone was repeatedly walking over his grave. This thought chilled him further than any fickle breeze, but the teen sobered, jangling his keys as he headed up the steps and slid them into the heavy lock on his front door. He slipped through the portal, habitually dropping his rucksack next to the shoe rack and slammed the oak door heavily with a reassuring clatter. His shadow didn't follow him, but chuckled silently, slipping up to the first level of the rather grand town house.
The air outside was chilly, but what else was new? He headed upstairs, turned left at the landing and stepped into his fairly tidy room, rubbing ruddy hands together to stimulate the circulation to his cold fingers. It had seemed a little icier than usual, causing him to skid and slide down the hill more than a handful of times, but Hiccup had been determined to keep his balance, especially when he'd met up with his friend Astrid, who would offer no end of ridicule if he face planted one more time on his way to school. She was athletic, kind for the most part, but the Auburn teen's lack of physical prowess was a rich source of amusement for his flaxen haired companion.
The sharp tingle of blood rushing to his fingertips signaled that it was probably safe to get changed into his comfies as he always did after a long, torturous day of academia and Phys Ed. He'd already showered in the locker rooms, so he could forgo one tonight: he flicked on the lamp and reached lethargically into his drawers. A pair of sweat pants were withdrawn, printed with an oddly ostentatious slogan along the leg. He unbuckled his belt listlessly, slinging the pants onto his hastily made bed, yawning as he let them drop easily to the floor and made to pull off his sweat shirt.
It was half way over his head when a tiny creak made him freeze, warm breath quickening against the thick wool that covered his face. A minute wind swept its icy fingers over the prominent vertebrae in his back, causing Hiccup to pull the sweater quickly past his chin and off, rounding to find… An empty window. His heart thudded in a hollow chest, but rounded eyes swiftly narrowed in annoyance at his own stupid paranoia. Since his bed room was higher up, Hiccup often left it open a crack to ensure the space aired through out the day.
Flushed, freckled cheeks filled with air.
Trudging over to the window, he sighed and examined the sash frame, swearing he hadn't left it so wide this morning. Exhaling out of the window, the breath caught in the still air and clouded for a moment before dissipating. A small swallow bobbed his Adam's apple, but he turned away, noting that he had yet to pull on his sweat pants.
The shadow drummed his non corporeal fingers against the wide, inviting sill, leaning against the white painted frame with an easy confidence. Frozen blue eyes lingered on the bold print on the boy's overly large sweat pants, reading 'Dragon Tamer', trailing up and over the slight, freckle dusted shoulders, before they were disappointingly confined beneath the folds of a loose, beige t-shirt.
"OK, Hiccup, keep your cool. It's not like anyone can even reach this floor…"
The boy rubbed his forearms briskly, casting another quick glance out of the window, but shaking off the feeling slunk out of his room and down the stairs.
"May as well catch my show until Dad comes home."
Tracing dents left in the carpet, the silent visitor crept behind Hiccup as he felt his way down the dark stair case, grip tight on a polished, mahogany hand rail, until he hopped off the final step and was unknowingly mimicked. Veering right into his spacious but sparsely decorated living room, Hiccup habitually flicked on the numerous lamps and reaching for the remote, plopped heavily into a plush, leather couch. He finally relaxed and hummed in pleasure when the opening credits of his Reptile documentary faded in. This was what after school was about: unwinding alone, nestled snugly against the thick, furry throws that littered his huge sofa, finally allowed to breathe.
Reclined, comfortable, the boy put the volume up while a soothing British voice set the scene, conveying the habitat of the Komodo dragon with his deep, calm baritone. Lids dropped a fraction over Hazel green eyes, the epitome of contentment.
Carefully, an elegant arm draped over the sofa back, pale fingers careful not to graze his host's skin. Bare feet tucked beneath him, his own lids dropping as he learned about the Komodo's signature venom and vicious claws. The way it hunted, stalked its prey, striking in a way that belied its humongous frame.
The silent guest couldn't help but comment casually to his oblivious companion, stating that he could take on one of these creatures with no sweat. Asking questions about the ageing presenter, why did the boy always watch these things? That, OK, the camera work was pretty cool, but why were all these shows set to classical music?
"Surely Rock would suit a lizard like this more?" He bantered, not expecting a reply. When the credits finally rolled up, streaking white against black while the announcements for the next show blared, Hiccup got up, stretched, scratched the back of his head and flicked off the set, standing in the quiet for a moment. The sky outside had darkened considerably and now tiny pin points pricked the inky blackness with their distant glow.
Hiccup stepped over to the tall windows and drew heavy drapes across them, knowing his Father would complain if they were open when he got home. A buzz vibrated against the boy's leg and he dug into his loose pocket, withdrawing his phone, unlocking the screen to open the SMS. He scanned it briefly, sighed, and shoved the device back into his pants.
"Missed his train… again. Quel Surprisé." Groaned the teenager, traipsing towards the kitchen, knowing he'd be dining alone again tonight, unaware of the willing dinner partner at his heels.
After digging some left overs onto a plate and grabbing a soda from the fridge, the hungry teen settled at his dining table, today's paper opened at the crossword page. He had grabbed a pen from the dresser and now, with his food largely ignored, chewed its cap in contemplation.
"Seven down… 'To be tracked'." Muttered the boy, tapping the pen against his philtrum, humming thoughtfully.
The other party had coiled into a chair opposite, staring just a little longingly at the forgotten meal, trying to recall the last time he ate. He couldn't. A glance was cast over at the monochromatic grid. He quickly leapt up again and circled the back of the youth's chair, as he had a hard time reading upside down.
He spread his arms to rest on the table's polished top, hovering over the boy's hunched shoulders, stretching his brain. The pen left its home between Hiccup's teeth and hesitantly poised over the first blank box, noting earlier answers that overlapped the potential solution twice:
U and D.
Frost bitten fingers raked through icy strands in vexation, feeling useless and ineffectual in this situation… Until inspiration struck like lightning, buzzing behind the giddy little ghost's eyes.
"I have it… I have it!"
Excited, he leaned over and whispered gently into the soft, round shell of his puzzled host's ear, breathing a single word.
"Pursued?" Whispered the teenager quizzically, another chill running down his spine when an alien thought entered his mind from seemingly nowhere. He glanced at the grid, found it fit and jotted down the letters in a broad, clean upper case. Satisfied that the puzzle was complete, he folded the paper and remembered his meal, deciding to take a bite of his cold chicken sandwich, pulling the aluminium ring on a coolly perspiring soda. Its hiss echoed the helpful spirit's wispy laugh.
"You're welcome." He mused, observing the boy while he took a long slug of Appleade, and the sigh of relief when his parched tongue was finally quenched.
When the last of the sandwich was packed away, and his plate took up residence in a brushed steel sink, the boy slunk back upstairs, hefting his discarded rucksack heavily over a shoulder on the way.
From outside his window, the moon shone clear and cold, a silver, pockmarked disk hanging silently in the calm night sky. It had risen a fair bit, indicating that time had slipped away much faster than he had thought. Glancing at his home made alarm clock, the glowing green digits indicated that his assumption had been correct. The weighty bag dropped once again by the foot of his bed, Hiccup sat down on the edge, mattress only mildly protesting under his slender frame. The springs remained silent when his little shadow joined him, lips pursed when the teenager cradled his head in tense hands.
"Something the matter, Kiddo?" Queried the ghost, his voice as light as a moth's wing. Tired green eyes meandered over to the bulky rucksack before closing, and Hiccup flopped back with a huff.
"Aah.. I already finished that essay at lunch," He recalled to no one in particular, within the hearing range of a someone. "And the History test isn't until Friday." He finished with a yawn, knuckles kneading the corners of his itching eyes.
"I think I'll call it an early night for once… Take a break." Hiccup drawled, arms stretched over his head, causing his t shirt to ride up above his outie belly button: Another little quirk the visitor was fascinated to find the first time he'd followed his friend home. Unable to resist, he prodded the navel sharply, causing the boy to double over with an involuntary giggle, bemusement painting his rounded features.
"I'm glad to hear it, Brainiac," commented the shadow slyly, but his eyes were tender. "You work too hard… You know that old saying: All work and no play-"
"-Makes Jack a dull boy." Completed the sleepy teenager as he crawled up his bed, recovered from the odd tingle in his belly. He was honestly starting to get concerned. Maybe he was coming down with something, or had a nervous problem. Most likely it was nothing, but still. He pulled back the blue duvet sluggishly, sliding his tiny frame between the crisp, cool fabric and heavy cover, face moulding itself instantly into a goose down pillow. The Boy spread his spidery limbs, sprawled ungracefully on his stomach. He lay like this for a moment, before suddenly remembering the stuff in his pockets. Grumbling into the make shift muffler, Hiccup fished in his pants until he withdrew his phone and MP3 player, clumsily clicking it into a bedside dock and pressing play, music quietly filling his room on its usual sleep timer preset.
The Phantom youth uncoiled himself from the mild shock he'd experienced, the fact that his friend has completed his idiom still rattling around in his brain. What had it meant? Was he finally getting through to someone? Was he gaining power… Or was Hiccup just more receptive?
A long-bloodless hand dragged itself down an equally gaunt face, craning to see the drowsy teenager fiddle with his iPod and start a chilled, low tempo song to help him sleep. The arm dropped onto the mattress with a tiny bounce and soon an even rhythm had established itself, in both the song and Hiccup's soft breathing. He wasn't sleeping yet, but he was beginning to drift off.
Cautiously, the nervous ghost crawled up the bed, hovering on his intangible hands and knees over the dozing boy, staring intently. He licked his lips with a dusty tongue, voice cracking as he tried to whisper.
"Hey there, Hic. You might not know me, but I kinda know you… But, hey. I'd really like it if you got to know me." He rambled, not sure why he was bothering in the first place. It would be the same, even after centuries of practice, learning the tricks, attempting everything to try and be noticed, but to no avail. Dry lips were chewed with immaculate teeth.
"But, if you'd like to, you know, ever get anything off your chest, I just want you to know somewhere deep down… You're not talking to yourself." He dipped his head down a little closer to his prone friend's ear, making an effort to be heard, for real this time.
"It would be great, if we could meet, face to face one day." He concluded, ready to straighten up... When Hiccup, in his sleep, rolled and actually bumped the ghost's arm, shocking him into stillness.
Blearily, green eyes cracked open and focused on the pale figure above him, a small, lopsided smile stretching his pink lips. "That'd be cool…" Mumbled the boy, still half asleep. "Be nice to… Talk lizards and… Puzzles…Mushrooms."
Hiccup yawned wide and long, showing that despite their crookedness, he took care not to cultivate cavities. A particular little birdy would be pleased to know this, pondered the petrified Spirit briefly, before returning to the current, unbelievable situation. His cold heart sputtered into life, long forgotten, but now thudding heavily against his ancient rib cage. Peppery brows twitched as he leant back down, so the stirring boy could hear his not so silent voice.
"Wait, right now, what do you hear? Do you hear me?" He interrogated gently, coaxing Hiccup ever so slightly from his slumber, but not entirely. Fine lashes fluttered lightly above appled cheeks, his stray hand rubbing his clavicle thoughtlessly.
"MmmHmm?" a non-committal hums, eyes barely slits now, fighting against consciousness for all they were worth. Oh no, Not this time Sandy, not this time.
The Ghost surprised himself when he managed to actually grab a set of tiny shoulders, containing them in his chilly palms. "Can you… Feel this?"
A minute, listless nod as Hiccup tried to settle good naturedly back into his pillow. The sand was taking effect and he hadn't even noticed.
"All right, that's good!" Whispered the distraught spirit urgently, seeing his thread back into the world begin to untwist, threatening to snap at any moment. "But, just before you go… Can you see me?" He choked, barely containing the panic that stifled his pleading tone. Hiccup had settled back, breathing even again, lips parted and inhales smooth.
As his grip loosened on skinny shoulders, the sad little ghost settled back, straddling the sleeper's stomach weightlessly, unsure of what to do. He stared at the peaceful face before him for a moment, lip trembling in a way it hadn't done for countless years. He was so close this time, he could almost taste it. He experimentally (but dejectedly) reached out to try and brush back his unwitting friend's auburn fringe, having tried and failed many times before. What had occurred was probably just a fluke. It wasn't like he hadn't been able to carry sleeping children before. Fingers set to graze thick strands, and he braced himself for the chill of phantom phasing-
When the hair actually moved. It fell gracefully back from the teenager's forehead: A small flicker of eye lids, the slightest tug of his mouth.
A small, golden shimmer shone behind those restless lids for the briefest second, blue eyes trained on the vanishing light like a hawk. The teenager's lips parted just a fraction more to breathe out a muddled but legible sentence.
"Catchya…Pizza… later, Jack?"
'Jack' could not contain the terrified flutter in his dormant belly, not sure of what to do with himself. Fists balled, finding their sudden solid qualities unusual and unwieldy. He took extra care to roll off the boy's body, never having to worry before when any motion would pass through him, not felt by Hiccup. It had been oddly reassuring. But now.. Now. He wasn't sure he could take the real thing.
Jack knelt at the boy's side, watching him sleep from his usual spot, heart heavy. The thing he'd craved for so long, had eluded him all these years… Scared him. He shuffled closer to the head of the bed, looking directly down on to the blissfully unaware countenance and sighed shakily. What would he do?
What could he do?
The steady rise and fall of Hiccup's chest indicated that he was thoroughly asleep now, and Jack bent down, nervously, never having to worry about waking his companion before now when he did this.
He pressed his blue lips chastely against the pink ones, holding them there for a sweet moment before regretfully pulling away. He had expected the boy to fly awake and strike him, Instead, a pleasant reddening of the cheeks informed the boy's dream, possibly translating into something much more normal within his adolescent mind.
"Good night. See you in the morning."
Jack backed slowly up to his ledge, where he would also sometimes wait until dawn, staring upwards at the blinding light that the moon wrought upon him. The promise lingered in the air like a curse, words driving themselves into the ghost's fragile psyche like a mallet would nails.
Not bothering to ask any questions, and expecting no reply, the ghostly youth drew a knee to his chest and watched the stars glimmer up in their lofty homes, wondering whether to return the next day.
This isn't over by a long shot, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. :'D
Thanks so much for reads and reviews are hugely appreciated.