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Stefan Bausch nudged his friend Ro. "Wanna play football?"
Ro looked horrified for a moment, his eyebrows scrunching together as he gawked at Stefan. "Why would I want to do that? I hated football when I was alive, and what would we use for a ball?"
"A ball," Stefan said blandly. "Donâ€™t tell me you havenâ€™t learnt how to pick things up yet. Youâ€™re with Conner. Youâ€™d have to know how to grab corporeal things just to keep up with him."
Ro scowled. "That still doesnâ€™t answer the why part."
"Because," Stefan said as he waggled his eyebrows, "think of the way everyone at the park would freak out if they saw a ball shooting back and forth through the air." Itâ€™d be hilariousâ€¦maybe. Or maybe not, since a lot of the townsfolk believe in spiritsâ€”ghosts. Stefan wasnâ€™t interested in being exorcised. Again.
"Sounds like a great way to freak out someone and end up cast out of this world and into whatever comes next," Ro muttered, crossing his arms over his chest. "Didnâ€™t something like that happen before?"
How did Ro know what heâ€™d been thinking? Stefan rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, and it sucked. It was your grandparents who did it, wasnâ€™t it?"
"I donâ€™t want to talk about them." Ro glanced around. "You know I still fear that theyâ€™re gonna pop up just to try to ruin my afterlife."
"Conner would handle them," Stefan informed his friend. Ro had to know that. Conner would never let anyone hurt Ro.
Ro flipped his long black hair. "Sure he would, but I donâ€™t want him to have to. Anyway, Iâ€™m pretty sure they would hang around the other part of the family, not the heathen gay side."
"Maybe." But sometimes Stefan got so bored, he wished someone jerkish would show up. All the spirits he knew were niceâ€”and either straight or hooked up, like Conner and Ro.
"We could go see whatâ€™s happening at Sev and Laineâ€™s place," Ro offered, a hopeful light springing up in his eyes. "Connerâ€™s off greeting newcomers." Roâ€™s joy died down and his expression shifted into one of sadness. "How he knows when someoneâ€™s going to pop up is beyond me. And him, too, actually. He says he just feels this tug in his chest." Ro shook his head. "That sounds creepier than us being dead in the first place. Oh man, I sure hope whoever does show up isnâ€™t a psycho criminal. I always worry, but I donâ€™t know why. Itâ€™s not like a psycho spirit could kill us all over again. I need to quit watching the news. Itâ€™s all bad shit. Why canâ€™t everyone just get along?"
"Thatâ€™s asking a lot of humanity," Stefan scoffed. He thought about going with Ro and shook his head. "You go on. Iâ€™m in a weird mood and should probably just go off and pout for a while."
"Are you sure?" Ro uncrossed his arms and reached for Stefanâ€™s hand. Roâ€™s skin was warm and soft, his grip firm and comforting. "Iâ€™d love to have your company."
Seeing Laine and Sev wasnâ€™t a bad thing, but Stefan didnâ€™t want to hang around another happy, loving couple. Laine and Sev were definitely that. Theyâ€™d been together forever and still acted like theyâ€™d only just met and fallen in love. It was sweet, and caused an ugly spike of jealousy to rear up in Stefan. He hated that about himself.
"Nah, really, I need to just chill out." Sleep, maybe. Stefan could sleep in his ghostly form just like he had in his live-bodied form. It helped to pass the time when he was bored stiff.
"You sure?" Ro asked again.
Stefan barely refrained from rolling his eyes again. "Iâ€™m sure. Jeez, go before I start thinking youâ€™re afraid Iâ€™ll float off to the Great Beyond or whatever."
"Donâ€™t even joke about that," Ro snapped. "Itâ€™s not funny."
"Sorry," Stefan said immediately. Ro had almost lost Conner to the Great Beyond or whatever came after when Conner had gone chasing after a spirit. Itâ€™d been a close call. None of them knew what happened to them once they went up, up and away. None of them wanted to find out, either.
"Really, Iâ€™m sorry. I told you I need to go pout. Iâ€™m not fit company." Stefan pulled Ro in for a hug. "Iâ€™m an asshole."
"Love you anyway," Ro huffed, but the tone of his voice as he said it took the sting out of him not disagreeing with Stefanâ€™s self-description.
"You too." Stefan patted Roâ€™s back then stepped out of the embrace. "Go watch the lovebirds. Iâ€™m gonna head to the cemetery."
Ro shivered. "Thatâ€™s so morbid."
"I donâ€™t think it is. I like seeing the headstones with the long lives carved onto them. Makes me happy those people had a long time with their loved ones." Stefan nodded. "Catch ya later!"
Stefan let himself float up a few feet then he shot up high and fast before angling towards the graveyard. He hadnâ€™t been lying to Ro. He was glad for the folks who didnâ€™t die young like he hadâ€”it gave him hope for his brother and Darren, as well as other people he cared about who were still living. Stefan didnâ€™t want them to die, but if they did, or when they did, rather, he hoped theyâ€™d stay here on Earth with him.
As for being alive, he didnâ€™t miss it. It probably made him a weirdo to like being dead a heck of a lot more than heâ€™d liked being alive, but since he was dead, Stefan figured it was okay. Surely being a spirit in the afterlife entitled him to some quirks.