by Hashinaka Choko (橋中蝶子)
The doorbell rang again, and this time Nick waded through the crowd of party guests, most of them with alcohol of some kind in their hands, to get the door. He swayed sideways, tripped over the hem of his robe, stumbled, and caught himself on the doorknob. Somehow, it was unbearably funny, and he answered the door laughing like a maniac.
“Trick or treat!” The kids said, extending their bags. Nick groped for the candy bowl and deposited a generous handful in each of their buckets, smiling goofily at the kids’ parents… who were staring past him into the house incredulously.
“Happy Halloween!” he said brightly, as the kids and their parents turned away from the door.
“Dude, shut the door,” Alissa said, putting her hand on the door and shutting it firmly. “How many times to I have to ask you sloshed idiots not to answer the door on trick-or-treaters?” She tried to look stern, but with her rabbit ears falling down into her face, it was difficult. Nick burst out laughing again, only laughing harder when she shoved his shoulder. “What the hell is so funny? The last thing I need is the cops busting my party, ok?”
“I’m, I’m fucking getting a lecture from the Playboy bunny, man,” Nick gasped. “Lighten up, Liss, it’s Halloween. It’s not like the cops don’t have five million other parties to bust tonight. Who says they’ll hit yours?”
“You morons keep opening the door and exposing innocent little children to drunken revelry, that’s what says the cops are going to come here. I have half a mind to throw the lot of you out and tell you to find your own way home.” Alissa pushed her ears back on top of her head. “Besides, we can’t have this many people here later when we do the thing, right?”
“Oh, oh yeah, the thing, with the ghosts,” Nick said. He had forgotten all about it – no surprise, really, with the amount of alcohol he’d consumed. Alissa was a real witch – she did that Wicca stuff and everything – and she had promised they would have a Halloween seance after the party, just him, her, Jessie, Dan, Marie, Kevin and Joey. She had said something about the mystical significance of seven and the spirit realm being thin on Halloween, but really, those seven were the closest friends out of everyone.
Nick glanced around at the rest of the party, puzzled for a minute. “How are we going to get rid of everyone? It’s almost midnight.”
“It’s cool,” Alissa said. “I have a plan. I’ll pass the word along with everyone that’s supposed to stay. Come here.”
The plan was great. Nick couldn’t wait to see everyone’s faces. He meandered back to the kitchen and spotted Dan mixing another drink. “Hey, don’t get too plastered,” he said, reaching out to steady himself on the countertop.
“Speak for yourself,” Dan said. “I haven’t had any. This is for someone else.” He tapped his swizzle stick on the side of the glass and passed it off on a girl Nick didn’t know, who appeared to be wearing a catsuit and a collar. She giggled, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek with a wet smack. Before Dan could shove her off, she turned around and staggered away. Dan scrubbed his cheek with the back of his hand, making a face.
“Dude, slut germs,” Nick said. “Gross.”
“No shit,” Dan said. “Apparently it’s kiss-a-bartender night, and I wasn’t informed. Someone should have told me so I could have grabbed Joey.”
“What would you do with Joey, man?” Nick asked, blinking. The only thing he could think of probably wasn’t what Dan had in mind. At least not with Joey.
Dan gave him a look. “Use him as a human shield. Quit thinking with your dick.” He shook off another guest who had latched herself onto his arm and was babbling about pink martinis. “You want a Cosmo, darling. It’s pink, and it tastes like watermelon.”
“Yeah!” she squeaked. “They’re like, all, pink and fashionable and they taste good.”
“Sorry, no watermelon mix.” Dan poured about half a glass of vodka and added another half glass of orange juice. “Have yourself a screwdriver. It’s got vodka in it, too.”
“Dude, that thing was half-and-half,” Nick said as the girl took a big gulp and swayed off.
“Yeah, I know. Why do you think Alissa always asks me to mix at her parties? By the time she wants everyone gone, they’re either all passed out or their DDs have cut them off.”
He had been expecting it, but he still jumped about a mile in the air when Alissa’s bellow came floating over the party, “COPS!”
There was a mad dash for the back door, and within minutes the party – with the exception of those seven with prior knowledge – had escaped out the door, out Alissa’s gate or over her fence. Dan pushed up his glasses and busily poured himself a scotch. “Now that they’re gone,” he said defensively when Alissa glared at him, “and I know I won’t have to drive anyone home.”
“Is it ghost time?” Marie asked, busy holding still so Kevin could pull her angel wings out of her corset. Marie always went pretty all-out for Halloween, and this year was no exception with her white-and-cream ensemble and gold halo.
“Is it ghost time,” Alissa said, disgusted. “It’s Samhain. The ghosts have been around all night – you’ve just been too busy to notice.” Her voice dropped, and she somehow looked mystical and intimidating even if she was wearing nothing but a bunny suit.
Joey and Dan helped her set up her candles – four black candles at the four cardinal points of what would be their circle, and Alissa pulled her Ouija board out of the closet. Kevin finally got Marie’s wings off her back, and propped them up in a corner next to Nick’s scythe and Jessie’s bow. “You think I should take out my fangs?” he asked. Kevin had come as Lestat, complete with contacts and press-in fangs, the really good kind that moulded to your teeth.
“No,” Nick said quickly, which of course made Kevin raise his eyebrows. Nick cursed silently. I can’t be the only one who drank tonight, seriously. But he couldn’t help it – the fangs were hot. Really. “It, uh, adds to the atmosphere.”
“Yeah, ok,” Kevin said, like he didn’t really care one way or another. Nick winced – maybe this seance thing wasn’t going to be good for Kevin, especially because –
“Sit down,” Alissa ordered. The candles were lit, and Nick had to step over them carefully so he didn’t set his robe on fire. He settled in his place in the circle – just to Alissa’s right and Jessie’s left. “Everyone hold hands.”
She grabbed Nick’s hand tightly. Her palm was dry, and she looked confident. She had done this a million times before. He reached for Jessie’s hand. She took it, and he took a deep breath, settling down in the buzz of his intoxicated state –
“Wait a second,” Jessie said, shaking her hand loose. She reached up and itched at one of the prosthetic ear tips she had used for her elf ears. “My ears itch.”
“Take them off then,” Alissa said. “I want to start casting, and I can’t unless I know you’re not going to let go in the middle of it.” Jessie sighed and pried the elf-ear tips off, scratching underneath them for a moment.
“Okay,” she said, and grabbed Nick’s hand again.
Alissa took a deep breath and let it go. “Everyone take a few deep breaths,” she said. Nick breathed in slowly and let it out, listening to Jessie do the same thing beside him. “Close your eyes, and listen to my voice. Listen to its rhythm. Breathe. Relax. Open yourself up to the energies of Samhain.”
Nick was sure it was just because all the lights were out, they were in a circle of black candles and Alissa was about to start a seance, but he felt the small hairs at the back of his neck prickle.
“Oh, spirits of the night,” Alissa said, raising her hands, Nick’s and Dan’s still held tightly. “We call upon thee now, on Samhain, when the veil between this world and the world of the dead is the thinnest. We call upon thy echoes of the past, that we might hear what has gone before. We open ourselves to thee, and open our circle to thee. Welcome! Join us in this night, when thy souls walk among us.” She dropped her hands down slowly. “Everyone can open their eyes now,” she said.
“Liss, that was full-on creepy,” Joey said. He had never seen or heard her do anything like this before. Neither, apparently, had Marie, who sat across the circle from Nick and stared at Alissa with wide eyes.
“Don’t be afraid,” Alissa said, sounding a little distracted. “I brought stuff to keep anything bad from coming in.”
“Who are we going to talk to?” Jessie asked. “I want it to be someone serious, not like Elvis or something.”
“Everyone and their mom is calling Elvis tonight,” Alissa said, disgusted again. “He wouldn’t be able to talk to us anyway.”
“That’s even disregarding the fact that Elvis is totally not dead,” Joey said, completely serious.
“Uh, well,” Marie said. “Um, when I heard that we were doing a seance, I kind of wanted to talk to, uh, my gramma?”
“Sure,” Alissa said easily. “Here’s how this will work. The Ouija board needs three hands on it at all times. One of mine, one of the person who decided to call this spirit’s, and one more person for support – and because three is an important number. The other four of you will move to sit between the candles – those are the circle’s weak points. A body there will make it less likely for something we don’t want to come in.”
Marie moved forward to take touch the pointer with Alissa, and looked around nervously for someone else to hold it with her. “I’ll do it,” Jessie said.
Nick stopped paying attention after the first few garbled messages from Marie’s grandmother. Alissa kept having to gently tell her that her gramma had been old and frail when she died and it probably took a lot of energy to move the pointer, so it was best just to ask yes or no questions. Finally, Marie got tired of talking to her gramma.
“Thank you for coming to visit with us tonight,” Alissa said. “I release thee from my call. Rest.”
“Dude!” Nick yelped. As soon as Alissa had said “I release thee,” all the candles had flickered. “She was really here!”
Alissa graced him with a disgusted look. “Who’s next?”
They sat in silence for a little while, until one by one they all looked at Kevin.
He shook his head. “You guys, that’s way too heavy, I don’t want to bring everyone down-”
“Kevin,” Alissa said gently. “You’re the only one he’ll probably talk to. And we all want to know why he did it.”
“He left a note,” Kevin said, hushed. “He said-”
“We all know what he said,” Dan said. “But Trey – he wasn’t that kind of guy. I don’t think he would have done it just because of that.”
They were all silent for a few long minutes. “Okay,” Kevin said, hushed.
“I’ll hold it with you,” Nick said. They switched places with Marie and Jessie at the board.
Alissa took a deep, slow breath. “I call thy spirit, Trey Warner. Come, wake from thy sleep and be with us, thy friends, and most of all Kevin, thy lover.”
Everyone leaned in to watch the Ouija board, and Kevin dropped his head. “Trey, are you here?” he asked.
Nick held his breath, watching as the pointer slowly moved from its spot in the center, painstakingly shuddering across the board until it finally landed over “yes.”
Kevin flinched, raking loose hairs out of his eyes with his free hand. “Hey, baby,” he said, choked up. “Hey. I. Um. We miss you.”
Nick heard Marie’s sharp intake of breath, and felt Alissa’s hand start to tremble next to his. Trey Warner had been the eighth person in their circle of friends – and Kevin’s boyfriend – until last year, right before graduation, when he had slit his wrists. It was still painful for all of them, and Nick almost took his hands off the pointer and switched places with someone else.
“Don’t,” Alissa said. “He’s here now, with the three of us. If we change this combination we might lose him.”
“I guess we called you, because, well,” Kevin messed with his hair again, “Baby, I am so mad at you,” he said. “I just – fucking – why?”
“Why’d you do it, Trey?” Alissa asked, quieter. The pointer began to move again, slowly, highlighting the letters as it went.
“S,” Nick read, choked. “T. U. P. I.”
“Goddammit, we know you were stupid,” Kevin said, even before the pointer landed on the D. “That’s not what I asked. Why?”
“T,” said Alissa. “O.L.D.” Then the pointer stopped.
“Told what? Told who?” Nick said.
“One question at a time,” Alissa said. “Told who?”
“Oh, fucking hell,” Kevin said. “That’s why he didn’t want me at the funeral. You told your dad about us?” The pointer swerved to “yes.”
“What did he say?” Marie burst out, forgetting that she wasn’t one of the ones at the pointer.
“What did he say?” Alissa repeated.
“Oh, baby,” Kevin said, his hand shaking on the pointer. “Baby, you were seventeen. Seventeen! You only had to hold out for one more year – I – You could have lived with me, why’d – Oh God.”
Things happened very fast after that. Kevin’s hand slipped off the pointer, and Alissa grabbed for it to put it back on. Marie, sitting directly behind Nick, screamed, and Nick rocked backward the same instant as all the candles went out.
Alissa leapt to her feet, yanking a bell and a dish of salt from behind her. “Dan, come with me, help me get the doors.” She ran toward the front door, jingling the bell frantically. Nick felt something in his chest move strangely, and suddenly he lurched to his feet.
“I’m gonna throw up,” he gasped, grabbing for the first stable thing – which happened to be Kevin.
“Okay,” Kevin said. “Okay. Just let’s get to the bathroom first.” He slipped an arm around Nick’s waist and helped him limp to the bathroom, holding his hair out of the way as Nick threw up just about everything in his stomach. “Shhh. I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry, I knew it was a bad idea. This is my fault. Marie’s freaking out and Alissa and Dan are doing some kind of witch stuff with the doors, man, it’s my fault.”
“Shut up,” Nick said miserably. “Gimme the toothpaste.” He brushed his teeth with his finger, spat that into the toilet too, and stood up. “I’m okay. I just felt like I had to hurl all of the sudden. Something fucking weird-”
His stomach did a somersault, and he got cold all over. Suddenly, he was staring at Kevin, but he couldn’t look away.
“…Nick? Something fucking weird?” Kevin prompted.
Nick – or whatever was controlling his arms, because that wasn’t Nick – reached out and pulled Kevin into a hard hug.
“What the fuck?” Kevin said. He tried to pull away, but Nick’s arms wouldn’t let go.
“Shh,” Nick’s voice said. “It’s ok. Hey, this’ll sound weird but… smell me.”
“What? Dude, what the fuck?” Kevin tried to push Nick away again.
“Just do it, okay?”
Kevin went still, taking a deep breath of Nick’s costume. Then he froze. “Nick… when did you start wearing Ralph Lauren Polo?”
“Baby, it’s not Nick. It’s Trey.”
Trey?! Nick thought, now thoroughly freaked out. What the fucking shit?
“Fuck you, Nick, don’t you even try to do this to me-”
“Kevin,” Trey said gently, “I called you ‘babydoll’ for the first time at Homecoming and you punched me.”
“I don’t like ‘babydoll,'” Kevin said hoarsely. He wrapped his arms around Nick – Trey – and squeezed tightly. “How the hell…?”
“Alissa had the right idea,” Trey said. “It’s Samhain. The walls are thinner. A disruption during the seance – emotional disruption – that’s all I needed. Nick, well… It kind of helps that he has a massive crush on you.”
Fuck you, that’s not something you should tell him!
“I know,” Kevin said. “Oh, God.” His knees buckled, and he collapsed to the bathroom floor, sobbing into Trey’s shirt. Trey went down with him, holding him, tears running down his cheeks. “I miss you so fucking much.”
“I know, I know,” Trey said. “I’m so sorry – so sorry. If I had just waited – I’m sorry, I was so stupid. So stupid.”
Jessie appeared in the doorway. “Are you guys-” she took in the situation in an instant, turned right around and shut the door. “Sorry.”
Trey lifted Kevin’s chin up, wiping away his tears. “Hey. I only have until dawn. Then I’ve got to give Nick’s body back. We could spend this whole time crying and blaming each other…” he cupped Kevin’s cheek and slid his hand around to cradle the back of his neck.
“Trey!” Kevin hissed. “That’s Nick’s body!” A vivid blush spread over Kevin’s cheeks.
“Oh, please,” Trey said. “It’s not like he’ll mind.” He leaned in close. “It’ll be another year before I can try this again, and I’m not even sure if I’ll succeed.”
Well, not really, but dude! That’s my body!
Kevin blushed harder. “You aren’t seriously considering-” Trey didn’t wait for him to start protesting again, but closed the distance between the two of them with a hard kiss. Kevin gasped a sharp breath through his nose, and all of the sudden it was like a switch flipped, and he squirmed into Trey’s lap.
“Okay?” Trey asked, already working on the buttons of Kevin’s vest.
“Yeah,” Kevin said. “Yeah -” he laughed, a little choked up still. “You still remember exactly how to kiss me.”
“It’s not the kind of thing you forget,” Trey said. He kissed Kevin again, sliding his vest off. “But you seriously have got to lose the fangs. It makes this really awkward.”
“The fangs make it awkward?” Kevin asked, nevertheless reaching in his mouth and popping them both out. “You’re -”
“Dead,” Trey supplied when Kevin stopped short. “Yeah, there’s that.”
“And you’re in Nicks body! This is beyond awkward already.” Trey answered that by sliding his hands up Kevin’s shirt, pulling it off.
“Forget why. Forget how. This is the only night I have with you, maybe forever.” He leaned Kevin back onto the tile floor, kissing his way down Kevin’s neck to the pulse point, making him shiver.
“Okay. I can do that,” Kevin said. He bunched the grim reaper robe up, pulling the whole thing up over Trey’s head. “I can do that.”
Trey trailed one hand down Kevin’s chest to the front of his pants, unbuttoning them and pulling them off. He settled over Kevin with another long, lingering kiss as he took Kevin’s cock in his hand, stroking slowly. “Besides,” he said. “Nick’s not bad-looking. You could do worse.” He twisted his hand, stroking faster when it looked like Kevin was about to protest, driving the breath from his lungs.
“God, Trey, baby – I-” Kevin grabbed desperately at Trey’s shoulders, pulling him close, burying his face in Trey’s shoulder. “Please. Please, I need you.”
“I know,” Trey said. He slipped out of Nick’s underwear and nudged Kevin’s legs apart with his knee, settling between them. He looked up, trying to find something – lotion, something, goddammit it was a girl’s bathroom-
“I don’t care – don’t care,” Kevin said. He grabbed Trey’s hand, pulling it off his cock and up to his face. Keeping eye contact with Trey, he licked the palm, then sucked two fingers into his mouth, rubbing his tongue over the pads. It was Trey’s turn to lose his breath, watching as Kevin pulled his hand out of his mouth, a strand of spit following until he licked his lips and it snapped.
“You’re going to have to do better than that,” Trey said hoarsely. “I don’t want to hurt you-”
Kevin flinched, glaring. “Yeah, okay, wish you would have thought that a year ago.” Awkward silence fell between them, and Kevin sighed. “I’m sorry. I just. I’m still so mad.” He sat up, pushing Trey over, and bit down on his shoulder hard enough to bruise.
“Ow! I’m sorry, baby. So sorry, you can’t even imagine-” Kevin bit him again, this time on his chest just above his nipple, and Trey grabbed his hair hard. “God.”
“Shut up,” Kevin said, and then slid his mouth down over Trey’s cock, making it completely impossible for him to speak at all. Trey tightened his grip in Kevin’s hair until Kevin made a small noise and scraped his teeth over Trey’s cock. He cursed breathlessly, trembling with an effort not to thrust up into Kevin’s mouth.
Jesus, you’re a fucking saint. I never knew he was so good at this!
Kevin relaxed his throat, taking Trey in deep, swallowing around the head, until Trey babbled something stupid and pulled him off. “Not gonna – I need-”
“Yeah, yeah baby, I know,” Kevin said, laying back. “Do it.”
Trey reached down between Kevin’s legs, letting spit-slick fingers circle around his entrance. “Relax,” he said, placing a soft kiss on Kevin’s chest. “Breathe, baby.” Kevin let out a shuddering breath, and Trey pushed one finger in to the knuckle. “God, so tight. You haven’t…?”
“Not since then,” Kevin said, his voice trembling. “More, God.”
Trey cursed, slipping his other finger in, stretching them slowly. He curled his fingers like he remembered and Kevin grabbed his shoulders again, gasping. “Ready?”
“Yes,” Kevin said quietly. Trey slipped his fingers out, slipping his hand up Kevin’s thigh to the back of his knee, pressing him open, and guided his cock in with his other hand, slow, gentle. He rested his head on Kevin’s chest, listening to him gasp.
“Trey,” Kevin said, stroking his hands down Trey’s back. “Move.”
All at once it was like something snapped in both of them. The slow, gentle pace disappeared, and they both became frantic – hard, sloppy kisses, their teeth clicking against each other. Short, stuttering thrusts that drove soft noises from Kevin’s chest, puffs of breath and voice that were swallowed in Trey’s mouth. Kevin took Trey’s hand, guided it down to his cock, and Trey stroked in a fast counterpoint rhythm, desperate. Kevin grabbed at his back, his hair, and finally laced his fingers through one of his hands, holding on like he would never let go. He tilted his hips, changing the angle, and then all of a sudden it was all over, come covering Trey’s hand as he stuttered out, “I love you.”
“I love you,” Trey echoed, moving his hand to Kevin’s hip, his thrusts ragged. “Oh God – Kevin – I’m losing it,” he said, and then his back arched and he lost his breath, panting, as he came.
He brought Kevin’s hand up to his lips and kissed it softly. “I’m sorry,” he said, pulling out of Kevin’s body. “I’m sorry – I thought I could hold it-”
“What – no, you can’t – you said you had until dawn!” Kevin pulled him back down, grabbing his face in both hands, kissing him desperately. “You said… you said dawn.”
“I’m sorry,” Trey repeated. He kissed him again, slowly, gently, cradling the back of his head. “I thought I did. I’m – Kevin – I -” His voice sounded strange, like it was cutting in and out – “love you,” he said.
Kevin pulled him close, inhaled deeply, the scent of sweat and come and fading, distant, Ralph Lauren Polo.
“I love you too,” Kevin whispered.
“Uh, Kevin, it’s uh. It’s Nick,” Nick said.
Kevin let him go abruptly. “Oh.” He was blushing again, bright red to match the red on Nick’s own face. “Sorry.”
“No, it’s ok,” Nick said. “I mean, um. Really. Not like, uh, I’m not-”
Kevin blushed harder when he noticed that they were both still undressed. “Sorry! I’m really sorry!”
“Dude, it’s ok,” Nick said. “Seriously. I mean, anytime.” He paused. “I don’t mean that the way it came out.”
Kevin looked up at him, still blushing but not quite as badly. “No, you really do, don’t you?”
“Uh, I was talking about the possession part, Kev.”
“I wasn’t,” Kevin said simply. He stood up, grabbed a spare washcloth and started cleaning himself off. “Really.”
“You mean, really, seriously, about the sex part? Dude, I don’t want to butt in-”
“Nick,” Kevin said, pausing. He looked over at Nick, who had drawn his knees up to his chest like Kevin hadn’t seen it all before. “He’s. Trey’s dead.” His voice cracked, and Nick could see his tears filling his eyes again. “He’s not coming back – not more than once a year – if then – and really – I should have – you were always waiting-”
“No, don’t,” Nick said. He stood up, forgetting for the moment that he was naked. “I don’t want you to do that – don’t try so hard to move on, not if you aren’t ready-”
“I am ready,” Kevin said. “Seriously. I got to say goodbye, and that’s all I wanted. Was a goodbye. A reason. A reason besides some bullshit about failing exams. I got it.”
“Are you sure, I mean, really sure-” Nick still looked hesitant.
“Really sure,” Kevin said. He stepped up into Nick’s space and kissed briefly, closed-mouthed. “I’m ready to try.”
“I – if you’re sure,” Nick said. He slipped his arm around Kevin’s waist. “If you’re sure you’re ready. I’m ready.”
“Okay,” Kevin said. He tucked his head against Nick’s chest, holding onto him. “Stay here until dawn.”