I originally posted this story on another site, but since it is original fiction, I thought I would re-post it here. It's a one-shot.

-o-o-o-o-

I've always been sensitive to things that other people don't seem to notice. My grandma says it's because I have the gift. She never really explained what that meant; she'd just smile mysteriously and say I was special. But I had my own suspicions, because I would sometimes see people that no one else could see, especially where someone had died. And whenever I walk by the cemetery, I always hear whispering. It frightened me at first, but Grandma told me to just ignore the dead people, "or they'll just keep bothering you."

The other thing about me is that I can always see light around people. Grandma says I can see auras, which makes me very special. "It's the light given off by the soul within," Grandma would say. "You can judge people by that light." I think that part must be true, because everyone says I'm a good judge of character. I just always seem to know who can be trusted and who can't.

But the person I trust most in the world, even more than my grandma, is my best friend Kieran. We met in second grade, when Kieran moved to our neighborhood, and we've been closer than brothers ever since; almost like twins. I always know where Kieran is; we could never play hide and seek unless I was the one hiding. And Kieran always seems to know how I feel. If I'm sad, he'll turn up with a couple of bottles of my favorite soda and sit with me until I feel better. If I'm in a funny mood, he'll start telling jokes until I'm laughing so hard my sides hurt.

Kieran knows I can see things, but we never talk about it. I don't want people to think I'm weird and he knows that. Grandma tells me I'm special, but I know Kieran is special, too.

But one day, walking to school, something really weird happened. Kieran and I always walk to school together, but that day, Kieran was sick, so I was walking alone. I saw a shadow out of the corner of my eye. I ignored it out of habit, like Grandma told me to do. If you don't notice the dead people, they leave you alone. But the shadow wouldn't go away; it kept flicking in and out of my peripheral vision. It gave me such a nagging feeling that I finally turned to look at it.

Whatever it was skittered away as soon as I turned, and all I saw was a dark shape and a flash of shining yellow eyes, the way a cat's eyes look when they reflect the headlights of a car. It was not like any ghost I'd ever seen. It scared me. I looked all around and didn't see anything, but I felt like it was still there, watching me. Anxiously, I hurried on to school. Once I got there and was surrounded by the other students, the feeling of being watched went away. I didn't forget, though. The feeling was just too creepy.

I walked home quickly that afternoon, wishing Kieran was with me. I didn't see the shadow, but I had that nagging feeling again. I kept looking back over my shoulder. I started to relax when I turned onto my own street. Grandma would be home and I could talk to her about it.

Between one step and the next, the air suddenly became so cold my teeth started to chatter and I could feel frost forming on the little hairs inside my nose. A shadow loomed up in front of me abruptly like smoke rising up out of the sidewalk. Luminous yellow eyes fixed on mine and suddenly that was all I could see. The street disappeared; my neighbor's houses disappeared. There were just those eyes, burning into mine like ice.

"Give me your body!"

The voice roared inside my head. It was deafening. I put my hands over my ears, but it didn't help.

"I want your body!"

"No!" I screamed. "It's mine!"

"Get out!"

The eyes flew forward and I felt a terrible impact. I couldn't see anything. Horrible pain lanced through my body. I screamed, but I don't think I made a sound. Stifling blackness crushed me and I passed out.

When I woke up, I was in the hospital. My parents were there and my mother was crying. They were talking to the doctor.

"He's in a coma," the doctor was saying. "We're still assessing the tests to determine why."

That was when I realized that I was not watching them from the hospital bed. I was standing next to it, like them. I looked down and saw myself. I had an IV tube in the back of my right hand and an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. My skin was pale and looked clammy. My breathing was shallow. I looked like I was dying.

"No!" I cried, "There's nothing wrong with me!"

I tried to get back into my body. I could feel the bond between it and myself, whatever this self was. But I couldn't get in. I felt a burning sensation when I touched my own skin that became unbearable if I let my mental fingers slide beneath my skin. I pulled back and stared. I could see a dark aura shimmering around my body. I backed up further. An aura like that was an ill omen. I had only seen one once before, surrounding a man convicted of serial murder.

"I'm possessed!"

The doctor left and my grandma came in.

"Will you stay with Kenny, Mom?" my dad said. "I want to take Angie home."

"No!" my mom said right away. "I'll stay with Kenny."

My father spoke very gently. "You've been here all night, dear. You need to rest. The doctor said not to expect any change."

"But…"

"Come on. Let's go."

My father took my mother from the room. She kept staring back at my body. She looked so sad, I wanted to cry to.

When the door closed behind them, I looked at my grandma. She was staring at me. Not at my body; at me! She pointed at my body on the bed.

"Shouldn't you be in there?"

"Grandma! Can you see me?"

"Of course I can see you. Hmph!" She sat down in the chair by the bed.

I hovered right in front of her. "I can't get in, Grandma! There's something blocking me."

"Oh?" She reached out and poked my body's cheek with one finger. She frowned. "Well, that's not good."

"What is it?"

"Some kind of spirit. Maybe a demon."

"What should I do? I don't want to stay like this. Can you help me?"

She pursed her lips. "You need your soul mate."

"My what?!"

"Your soul mate. That boyfriend of yours: Kieran."

If I'd had cheeks, I would have flushed. "Kieran's not my boyfriend! Don't say it like that!"

Grandma smiled. "He's a boy; he's your friend. What does it matter how I say it? Anyway, you need him. Go and get him."

I stared. "How?"

Grandma waved a hand. "He's your soul mate, boy. You'll figure it out. Go now." She looked at my body again. "You don't have much time. If this creature breaks your bond with your body, you'll die."

"Die?!"

"Become a ghost anyway, and this creature will use your body to do terrible things. Hurry!"

"All right!" I fled from the hospital room.

Of course I knew where Kieran was, the way I always know. He was at home in his room. I flew there as quick as thought and found him sitting on his bed, crying. It was weird enough to see a fifteen-year-old boy crying, but I honestly couldn't remember the last time I'd seen Kieran cry. I floated down in front of him.

"Kieran, don't cry."

His head flew up and he stared straight ahead, but he wasn't looking at me.

"Who's there?"

"It's me, Kieran. It's Kenny."

He looked around, scrubbing the back of his hand across his eyes to wipe away the tears.

"Great!" he muttered. "Now I'm hearing things."

"Kieran!" I reached out and touched his hand.

Kieran snatched it away and his eyes went round. "What's going on?"

"Don't be afraid, Kieran. I need you."

Kieran blinked slowly, staring first at his hand and then looking in my direction. "Kenny?" His voice was tentative and soft.

"Yes!" I touched his hand again.

He flinched, but this time he didn't pull away.

"I don't understand." Tears welled up in his eyes again. "Are you dead?"

"No, but I need your help. I need you to come to the hospital right now."

He shook his head. "They won't let me in. They said only family could see you, 'cause you're in intensive care."

"My grandma's the only one there. She'll let you in. Please, Kieran. This is so important. You're the only one who can help me."

He wiped the tears from his eyes again. "Really?"

"Really. Please come."

"Ok." Kieran slid off the bed. "Why can't I see you, if I can hear you?"

"I don't know. I don't even know why you can hear me."

"But I can feel it when you touch me. It's weird."

"Yeah."

I floated alongside Kieran as he rode his bike to the hospital. Without my body, it was even easier than usual to see people's auras. The air was just a riot of colors. Once I noticed it, I noticed Kieran's aura. It was shimmering blue with waves of violet pulsing through it. I always associated that aura with love and sadness. It was like my grandma's aura when she thought about my grandpa, who died a long time ago.

When we got to the hospital, I said, "I'll take you to my room. If you walk like you know where you're going, maybe they won't stop you." I led the way by telling Kieran where to turn and which floor to go to. "This is it," I said when we got to the door of my room.

Kieran opened the door and we went in. My grandma was still sitting by the bed. She smiled sweetly at Kieran.

"Hello, my dear. I'm glad you're here."

"Kenny said he needed my help."

"He does. Kenny is in trouble. An evil spirit is trying to steal his body. It is, unfortunately, one of the things gifted people must guard against. He's managed to hold on so far, but he needs your strength to expel the spirit and regain control of his body."

"But what can I do? I'm not gifted like Kenny." Kieran stepped to the side of the bed and looked down at my body. His aura flooded yellow with the worry and fear that were showing on his face.

"You have a gift, dear," Grandma said gently. "Your love for Kenny makes you very strong where Kenny is concerned. Evil spirits like this one are repelled by love."

Kieran flushed. "I'm not in love!"

Grandma clucked at him. "What is it with children today? This might not have happened if the two of you would admit your feelings. True soul mates are rare and precious. I am eighty-two years old and you two are the first I've ever seen. Kieran, your love will protect Kenny. Isn't that what you want?"

Kieran stared down at my body. "It's like he's not there."

"He isn't there," Grandma said. "He's standing right next to you."

I touched his arm and Kieran looked toward me.

"He's there," Kieran said. "I can feel him touching me. Why can't I see him?"

"You could see him if you let yourself. Look with your heart, not your eyes."

Kieran closed his eyes and lifted his hand. I put my palm against his and he laced his fingers through mine. Then he opened his eyes and looked at me.

"I see him!" he whispered.

Grandma smiled. "I knew you could do it. Now expel the evil spirit from his body so Kenny can go back."

"How do I do that?" Kieran was still staring at me. His expression was… odd.

Grandma chuckled. "I told you: the evil spirit is repelled by love. It will not be able to bear your touch."

Kieran looked at my body again. Still holding my hand, he leaned forward and slid the oxygen mask off my face. "I love you, Kenny," he whispered and kissed me on the mouth.

There was a horrible cry, that I think only I could hear, and my body began to thrash. My head started to roll from side to side on the pillow, trying to escape Kieran's lips, but he caught my chin in his hand and held me still. He continued to kiss me.

And then that hideous dark aura oozed from my body, flowed off the bed and pooled up on the floor. My body went still. Grandma reached into her purse and pulled out a little tin. She took a pinch of powder from the tin and tossed it into the pool of shadow.

"Begone!"

There was a shriek of anguish and the shadow vanished in a puff of smoke. Grandma took another pinch of powder from the tin and sniffed it into one nostril. She winked at me.

"Evil spirits hate snuff." She sneezed daintily and nodded toward my body. "Well?"

I grinned at her and jumped back into my body. There was no heat or pain this time; just the tremendously complete feeling of being back where I belonged. There was also the wonderful feeling of Kieran's lips on mine. I kissed back without even thinking about it. Kieran pulled away a little and looked into my eyes.

"You're back."

"Thanks to you. I never could have made it without you."

"I guess you're going to have to be real careful from now on."

"I'll be all right, as long as you're with me."

We just looked at each other for a long time. I had never felt shy with him before, but I did this time.

"Will you kiss me again?" I asked him finally. "I missed most of it the first time."

Kieran smiled. "Sure. It was better when you started helping anyway."

He kissed me again. It felt so right, I never wanted to stop.

Grandma stood up. "I'll leave you boys alone for a while. I want to give your parents a call anyway. They've been very worried about you."

Kieran stopped kissing me so I could answer her. "Thanks, Grandma. And thanks for helping me."

She winked at me. "And for being right about Kieran?"

I blushed. "Yeah, thanks for that, too."

She left, pulling the door firmly shut behind her.

Kieran stroked his fingers through my hair and studied my face. "So why is it that old people always know so much?"

I shrugged. "I don't know, but I'm awfully glad I listened to her."

He rested his forehead against mine. "Me too."

"Your aura is blue and green now."

"What does that mean?"

"That you're in love and happy."

Kieran laughed softly. "I guess it must be true, then." He kissed me gently. "I love you, Kenny."

"I love you, too, Kieran."