Happy Halloween! My favourite holiday of the year (: To celebrate, I’ve written a little m/m romancey thing. Enjoy!
The sound of rattling metal filled Kyle’s ears as the fence reverberated against the force of his boot. He kicked the fence again, and the lower link broke. Kyle pushed the panel back, leaving a gap just big enough for him to crawl through. The fence clanged back into place once he was clear, but he wasn’t worried about noise. He knew well enough that no one would hear him out here.
The old hospital loomed just beyond a thin smattering of spruce. Kyle had always thought it an ugly building, squat and grey. It had been built in the late 60s for pure functionality, but it hadn’t stayed open long. Just 40 years later budget cuts had seen the hospital close. Plenty of people in the neighbouring towns had lost their jobs, and others had lost a much needed lifeline. Kyle wasn’t complaining though. He’d gained a home.
Or at least he had until the guardian scheme had moved them all on elsewhere. The building now was marked for demolition, and no one cared if it was looked after or not. Kyle thought maybe the same thing had happened to him and Ernie. They’d stopped caring, stopped looking after each other. Still, he wasn’t ready to bulldoze everything they had, even if Ernie thought so.
Heading around the corner of the building, Kyle made for the side door. The lock had been broken the month after he’d moved in and never been fixed. He pushed the door open and stepped into a hallway blanketed with dust. Cream linoleum and off-white walls were tinged grey, decorated with the odd graffiti tag. Kyle recognised his own name scrawled in marker, half covered by a painting of a basset hound smoking a spliff.
It was dark in the hallways, and Kyle found himself surprised by that. There had always been lights before, bright enough to detract from the fact that there was no natural sunlight. His shoes squeaked on a patch of almost-clean linoleum, the sound echoing in the empty corridor.
Finally he came to the lobby with its reception desk full of desiccated flowers and pot plants. Those had been Laura’s, mostly. She liked to keep things cheerful, she said. Ernie had told her cheerful didn’t belong in a place like this, and Kyle had agreed with him. None of them had been there because they wanted to be. They were there because they couldn’t afford to live anywhere else.
He crept up the stairs, avoiding the one that creaked more out of habit than anything else. There was no one left to disturb here but dust. And maybe the ghosts.
His and Ernie’s room had been on the third floor, on the East side of the building. It had been quiet then, but it was even quieter now. He pushed open the door, unsure what he’d find there. The room was empty. A bare metal bed frame sat pushed against one wall. A light bulb hung naked from the ceiling. He tried the switch, but of course it didn’t work. The electrics had been shut off years ago.
There was no one here.
Kyle sighed, scuffing the carpet of dust with the toe of his trainer. He’d been so sure he’d find Ernie here. This was, after all, where they’d met, where everything had begun to fit itself together, the pieces of their lives lining up. This was where Ernie would go once it all started to fall apart.
But maybe Kyle had been wrong about that. Maybe he didn’t know Ernie as well as he thought he did.
A reverberating clang jolted him from his thoughts, and he spun around. The sound had come from down the hall.
Kyle walked towards the sound, the hairs on the back of his neck prickling. This place had once been home, but now it was home only to ghosts. At the West side of the hallway, a door was ajar. Light flickered from within. Kyle pushed the door open.
The room was full of candles, light casting shadows in the corners of the room. Ernie knelt at the centre of it, a candle held in his hands. He seemed to be concentrating deeply.
Kyle cleared his throat, and Ernie jolted. He looked up, a serious expression on his face. His mousy hair was tousled and looked knotted in places. His face was streaked with dirt, like he’d fallen in mud. “Where have you been?” Kyle said. It wasn’t what he wanted to say. He didn’t want to sound angry, but he was angry. “It’s been almost a week. You didn’t think to call me?”
Ernie shook his head. “It doesn’t matter,” he said, and Kyle resisted the urge to march across the room and slap him. What did he mean it didn’t matter?
“This is where you first told me you loved me,” Ernie said, and Kyle’s anger began to wilt under the softness of his voice. “Do you remember that?”
“I remember you freaking out because you thought you saw the ghost of an old nurse.”
“I did see her, but that’s not important. You were nice to me then. I think you’ve forgotten how to do that, but that’s okay. You’re going to relearn.”
Kyle scowled. “Maybe when you learn not to scare the shit out of me by disappearing for days on end.”
“I’ve seen the future. I always could see it better in this place. You will relearn, and we’re going to be fine.”
Kyle resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He never had believed much in Ernie’s ‘gifts’. It was just one of those flaws he’d learned to live with, because even if Ernie was delusional, he was still Ernie. Kyle guessed he probably still loved Ernie, even after everything. He’d come all the way out here to make sure he was okay, hadn’t he? That had to be love.
“I’ve seen us,” Ernie said, pushing himself up to stand. He still held the candle, the wax dripping low, almost reaching his fingers. “We’re going to be fine. There’s still love here.”
Releasing a breath, Kyle felt his shoulders sag. Maybe that was enough, then. If Ernie believed it, Kyle guessed he could too. As Ernie crossed the room towards him, Kyle opened his arms, letting Ernie half-fall into him. The candle dropped to the ground, rolled, and went out. “Come on,” Kyle said, lightly brushing Ernie’s hair back from his face. “This place gives me the creeps. Let’s go home.” Right then, Kyle wanted nothing more.