A/n: So, this is the last part. But not to worry! I've decided I'm writing a sequel, and then probably a triquel. Because I love Reese and Sam too much to give them up yet. This turned out to be pre-slashy more than slash, anyway, and I want to develop their relationship more. So, yeah. Sequel will be coming soon. How soon? I don't exactly know. I've got three essays to write and two projects to do, so whenever I have a moment to spare. Just keep an eye out; it'll most likely be up within a week or so.
But in the meantime, enjoy this and thanks for reading, reviewing, etc., etc.!
Update: The sequel is up now. It's called Beast in the Barrens.
That was Evan. And, you know, I quite agree with him. In fact, I would have said the same exact thing if I could remember how to use my voice. But I don't. And I'm too busy staring wide-eyed at Sam to try.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I guess), Gwen doesn't seem to have that problem.
"All right," she snaps. Her voice is so full of exasperation that it almost —almost—hides the tiny note of fear and uncertainty in it. "This is getting absolutely ridiculous, you guys. Knock it off."
Sam—wait, can I still call him that? He's not really Sam if he's being possessed, right? I mean, sure it's his body, but… I don't know—turns towards Gwen and stares at her for a few seconds with his head cocked to the side. And then he lets out a giggle.
I stare and blink at him, because—what the fuck? That is not a sound that I can imagine ever coming out of Sam's mouth. It would be comical if it wasn't so frickin' eerie, what with the way his voice sounds.
But then I notice he's also holding himself differently. His back is straighter, his hands are folded neatly in his lap, and he's sitting primly with his legs bent beneath him. It reminds me of how a young girl would sit. Which makes sense. You know…'cause he's kind of being possessed by one.
"My brother once described people like you to me," Sam (Anna?) tells Gwen. "He used to say that while they were intelligent and book smart, the truth could be right in front of their faces and they would just turn their noses up at it because they're too proud to ever admit being wrong. Pretentious know-it-alls, he called them. Oh—and narrow-minded eggheads."
An affronted and incredulous expression takes over Gwen's face as she stares at Sam. "Excuse me?" she hisses. And then she puffs herself up in the way that she does when she's about to verbally tear someone down. "Well, guess what, Sam. You're—"
"I told you," Sam says impatiently, "my name is Anna. Though…" He flashes Gwen an impish grin. "Sam does agree with me about you being a pretentious, narrow-minded egghead."
Gwen glares at Sam for a moment before she crosses her arm over her chest and turns head away with a haughty little Humph! Sam lets out another creepy, girlish giggle, and then looks back towards Evan and me. For a while, the three of us just stare at each other, not saying anything. Evan's the first one to break the silence.
"You're not hurting him, are you?" he asks.
"Who? Sam?" Sam/Anna shook his head, smiling slightly. "No. I'm just borrowing his body for a little bit. I'll give it back, don't worry."
"O-okay," Evan says, though he doesn't look reassured. Frankly, I'm not either.
"Can…can he still hear us?" I ask hesitantly.
"Uh-huh!" Sam/Anna chirps. "And I can hear his thoughts in the back of my head. Like a bee buzzing around by my ears. It's annoying." He/she (god, this is so freaking confusing and weird) makes a face. But then, he/she blinks a few times and cocks Sam's head to the side, staring at me curiously. I stare uneasily back.
"What?" I ask.
"I didn't know boys could have crushes on other boys," murmurs Sam/Anna quietly, sounding intrigued. "But Sam feels the way I feel about Walter Berkley from across the street about y—"
Evan clears his throat loudly, causing Sam's/Anna's attention to swing to him. I, however, continue to stare at Sam/Anna, gaping incredulously.
Wait…what? What did she—he—no, she—just say? Did I…did I hear that correctly? I mean, I couldn't have, could I? 'Cause that would mean…that Sam has…
No. I must have misunderstood Anna. Because Sam couldn't possibly have a…a…you know…on me.
I'm so caught up in trying to mentally sort this out that I almost miss the question Evan asks Anna. I shake my head a bit, shoving everything to the back of my mind for later consideration (which, come to think of it, I've been doing that a lot tonight), and force myself to focus on Evan and Sam/Anna.
"You're the girl Sam and Reese saw downstairs, aren't you?" asks Evan.
Sam/Anna nods. "Yes." He/she looks back over at me with a slightly sad look. "I was trying to ask for help. But before I could, Sam got scared and I could only make myself visible for so long." He/she sighs. "It takes a lot of energy…"
"Help?" says Evan. "What do you need help with?"
"My brother, Robert!" Sam/Anna says urgently. He/she turns quickly back to Evan, looking at him eagerly and pleadingly. "He's trapped in the basement! I've been trying to get him out, but the doors locked and my mama dropped the key down the drain! You've got to get him out!"
I frown thoughtfully and ask, "Is the basement door the one under the stairs? The one where the banging noise came from, and that burned my hand?"
"Uh-huh!" Sam/Anna nods frantically. "Will you get him out? Please? Pretty please?"
"Of course," Evan says, smiling kindly. He reaches out and pats Sam's hands comfortingly. "I mean, we'll try. But…Anna…" His gaze suddenly sharpens, and his face takes on a very serious expression. "When you say your mama dropped the key down the drain, was it on accident or was it on purpose?"
I stare at Evan, kind of shocked. Is he implying what I think he's implying?
"On purpose," Sam/Anna tells him in a whisper, looking scared. "It was summer—I remember that because it was two days from my birthday; I would've been twelve—and we were eating lunch in the kitchen. But Robert and Mama got into an argument. Robert accused Mama of putting some of her pills in his and Papa's food. And then he told her he was calling the police." Sam/Anna wriggles agitatedly in his/her seat.
"Robert stormed out into the hall, where the telephone was, and Mama went after him," Sam/Anna continues. "I stayed in the kitchen, but I could hear them arguing. Robert told Mama she was sick in the head and that she belonged in the hospital. That was when I heard the basement door open and my brother shout before I heard it slam closed again. My mama then came back into the kitchen and dropped the key down the kitchen drain."
"Where was your papa when all this happened?" Evan asks gently, though his face is paler than normal.
"He fell asleep at the table," Sam/Anna says, now looking confused. "It was right after he had finished the soup Mama had made. But it was strange. Papa had never fallen asleep like that before, and I kept expecting him to wake up with all the shouting Robert and Mama were doing, but he never did…"
Evan glances over at me, and we share a knowing look. It doesn't take much after hearing that to guess the pills were probably a shitload of sleeping pills. Or that Anna's mother had to have been crazy.
Evan turns back to Sam/Anna, taking a deep breath before he asks, "And what did your mama do after dropping the key down the sink?"
"She turned all the stove burners on though there was nothing on the stove," Sam/Anna answers. "Then she went around the house, making sure all the windows and doors were closed." Sam/Anna wraps his/her arms around him/herself and stares down at the floor.
"The whole time I could hear Robert banging on the basement door. But when I asked Mama if I could let him out, she got angry and told me to finish eating my lunch," Sam/Anna says. "After a while, Robert stopped shouting and banging on the door. I asked Mama if she would let him out now, but she didn't answer. She just smiled and sat down in the chair next to me.
"It then started to smell really funny in the kitchen," says Sam/Anna. "It made me feel dizzy and sleepy, and I didn't want to eat anymore. I told Mama and she said that was all right—that I could take a nap right there like Papa. She pulled me towards her and started playing with my hair. The last thing I remember before I fell asleep was Mama saying she was sorry, but she had no choice but to do it."
The air seems to rush out of my lungs as I stare at Sam/Anna. That's horrible. Absolutely horrible. Even worse than horrible because it seems like nobody ever realized what really happened. It's obvious they hadn't or it would have been in the stories about the house. Because, really. People wouldn't keep that quiet if they knew about it, despite how terrible a thing it is. Jesus Christ…
"When I woke up, I knew I was dead," Sam/Anna says, lifting his/her head to look at us, his/her eyes filled with sadness. "Mama and Papa were gone, but I could hear Robert still in the basement. I've been trying to get him out ever since, but I can't do it on my own. And whenever I try to ask for help from the people who come here, they get scared when they see me and don't listen."
Suddenly, Sam/Anna grins at us. "But then you four came!" he/she exclaims. "And I knew—but I don't know how I knew—that you could help me! Sam especially! And I was right!" Anna giggles again, and I really wish she wouldn't do that in Sam's body. It's fucking weird.
"So," Sam/Anna then continues, "can you please go let my brother out now? I really miss him."
"We'll try, Anna," Evan says, patting Sam's hands again.
"Thank you!" he/she says.
Then Sam gives a large, shuddering gasp, and the glazed look disappears from his face and eyes. Looking extremely disoriented, Sam sways precariously for a moment and then starts to fall backwards. Without thinking, I quickly reach out and catch him before he hits the floor. Sam blinks dazedly up at me, and then abruptly flushes. He pulls himself back upright, away from me, avoiding my eyes. I flush too, remembering what Anna said, and look away from him.
"Are you okay?" Evan then asks Sam.
"Yeah," Sam answers, his voice hoarse. He clears his throat and continues. "Yeah, I'm fine. It just felt like I was half-asleep and dreaming. It was pretty damn strange, though."
Yeah, I'll say.
Sam then turns to Gwen, who's been successfully ignoring us this entire time. Which kind of makes me wonder why she can't manage it any other time. What just happened had to have been ten more times distracting than people talking next to her in the library.
"Sorry about indirectly calling you a pretentious, narrow-minded egghead and bitch," he says.
Gwen snaps her head towards him, narrowing her eyes. "Bitch?" she snaps. "You didn't say anything about me being a bitch earlier, Sam. But if that's what you—"
"Oh. I didn't?" Sam says, looking like a deer caught in the headlights. "Well then, never mind." He gives her a guilty smile before quickly turning away from her. Gwen continues to glare at his back, fuming silently. I don't know whether to snort in amusement or shake my head with vexation.
And then I see Gwen start to open her mouth, probably to start yelling at Sam, and I know that the course of action I should take is to plug my ears. But luckily, Evan notices Gwen too and manages to direct the conversation elsewhere before she can even get a word out.
"Anyway," Evan says, standing up. "We should probably start working on getting that door open."
"Yeah," Sam and I say at the same time as we get to our feet as well. My gaze flickers to him without my permission, and it seems his does the same. But this time, when our eyes meet, neither of us looks away. Not immediately, at least. We stare at each other for a moment, and I have no idea what to think about what I see in his face and eyes, because there's so much in them and I already have enough things to sort through in my own head about him later and—
But, yeah…Something's there in the way he looks at me. And I guess—no, I'm pretty sure—there must be something in the way I look back at him, because after a few more seconds of staring at each other, a smile spreads across Sam's lips as he looks away. I blink at him a couple of times, slightly confused, and then turn towards Gwen again. She looks peevishly back at me and I barely refrain from rolling my eyes at her.
"Where's that bobby pin from earlier?" I ask her. "I need it to pick the lock."
"This is so stupid, Reese," she says. Nonetheless, she reaches up and pulls a bobby pin from her hair and hands it to me. Of course, not without voicing her opinion, 'cause when does she ever not do that? "You can't honestly think that the basement door hasn't ever been opened since the Covington's lived here, can you?"
"Sure, it's been opened before," Evan answers Gwen before I can. "But I think it needs to be opened with the intention of letting Robert out." He looks to Sam with raised eyebrows. "Am I right?"
Sam nods. "Yeah. But, c'mon," he says. "I can sense Anna getting impatient."
Both Evan and I nod, and the three of us then head out of the room. We don't bother to ask Gwen if she's coming along; I think all of us know by now that it would be pointless to and a waste of time.
We walk down the stairs in silence. When we reach the bottom, we hang a few paces away from the basement door and just spend a while staring at it. None of us seem to be willing to make the first move. I know why I'm not—the door shocked me earlier, remember?—but I'm not really sure what Sam's or Evan's deals are. I mean, Sam doesn't seem terrified of the house anymore after being possessed by Anna, and Evan wasn't this hesitant before with the Ouija board or talking to Anna. So, I don't know what's going on.
Oh. Wait. I'm the one with the bobby pin and knowledge of how to pick locks. Duh. They're waiting for me. God, I'm an idiot.
Wanting to smack myself in the forehead, I sigh and walk towards the door. And this time, when I reach out for the handle, I know to be a bit more wary.
I tap the tip of my left index finger to the metal knob and then quickly pull it away again, just in case, but nothing happens. Letting out a breath of relief, I kneel down in front of the door and go to work with the bobby pin. It takes a little longer than the front door did, but eventually I hear a click, telling me it's unlocked. I smile slightly and turn the knob.
However, when I try to pull the door open, it doesn't budge at all. I try pushing it, but that doesn't do anything either, not even when I use both hands. I shoot the door an exasperate glare, and then glance over my shoulder at Sam and Evan.
"It's stuck," I tell them. As if they couldn't already tell from my failed attempts. Of course, they could've probably just thought I'm too weak to do it myself.
Which, come to think of it, might actually be the case.
Evan hums thoughtfully, putting his fist to his mouth as he stares at the basement door. Then, after a few seconds, he begins to walk towards it, motioning for me to get out of the way. I do so quickly, going over to stand by Sam's side again. In the process, I accidently brush my arm against his, and—okay, maybe it wasn't completely accidental; but that's beside the point—out of the corner of my eye, I see Sam glance at me in surprise. I don't return the glance, but I do shift a little towards so my arm stays touching his.
Not for any particular reason (well, okay, there is a particular reason, but now isn't the time to get into it), or anything. Just because, you know? Just because.
Evan tries pushing and pulling on the door next, pretty much confirming my suspicion that he at least though it didn't open for me because I lack the muscle. I don't feel bitter about it though, because I'm pretty sure if I was him, I'd think the same thing about me. Oh. And it helps that he doesn't manage to get the door open that way, either. It, however, does creak rather ominously.
"Okay," Evan says, sounding a little out of breath and annoyed. "Obviously that's not going to work. So…all right, then—new plan!" He glances at Sam and me over his shoulder. "One of you better have a cell phone handy. And…be ready to call an ambulance…"
Not liking the sound of that cryptic advice, I'm just about to ask him what he means by it when, without warning, Evan kicks the door with all his strength. I stare at him incredulously (though I have to grudgingly give him credit; he managed to break the door off of one of its hinges). He's ruining a part of the architectural genius of this beautiful house! Not to mention that that definitely constitutes as vandalism.
God, we are so freaking dead if we get caught here now.
I wince as Evan gives the door another kick, this time making it splinter away from the frame completely. The door loudly crashes down the basement steps, and I pray to whatever deity there is that the neighbors are all deaf.
"Well," says Evan, panting a bit and wiping his forehead as he steps away from the doorway. "It's open. In fact, I don't think it can be anymore open than that."
Both Sam and I let out a laugh, though Sam's is actually genuine. Mine, one the other hand, is just a tad bit on the hysterical and perturbed side.
The poor house.
"So…what now?" asks Evan, looking at us expectantly.
But before either Sam or I can do more than shrug, a cool and pleasant breeze blows past us from the basement. Then a familiar giggle, followed by a much deeper laugh, comes from behind us. Immediately, we all spin around towards the sounds, and I stare in amazement at what I see.
There in the entranceway, not even ten feet from us, is the silvery and transparent ghost-girl from earlier. I watch as she—Anna—runs into the arms of an older looking, but equally silvery and transparent, figure of a boy, who must be Robert. They both laugh happily as he spins her around and hugs her.
Then they're gone. Just like that. But faint echoes of their laughter linger in the hall for a few seconds after them, and I swear I hear a whispered "Thank you" before the hall goes completely silent again.
The silence, however, is extremely short-lived. There's an odd choking sound from above us, and all three of us automatically swing our heads in that direction. When I see what's making the sound, I'm almost positive I'm hallucinating. Because, really—that can't be Gwen at the banister, leaning on it like she needs the support, staring wide-eyed and with her jaw dropped at the spot Anna and Robert's ghosts just were.
Oh, but it is. I feel the corners of my mouth begin to twitch upwards, and I have to repress the urge I have to laugh. A quick glance at Sam and Evan tells me that they're holding back laughter as well.
"No way…" I hear Gwen say under her breath a few seconds later, more to herself than to us. "No fucking way! That's—that's impossible! That couldn't have…" She shakes her head a bit, frowning thoughtfully. "It must've been a—no… But maybe—no…"
Gwen then slumps against the banister, all the air rushing out of her lungs in a defeated sort of way, her eyes going even wider than before as she still continues to stare at that spot.
"Jesus Christ," she says breathlessly. "Ghosts exist… They actually exist…!"
"Glad you finally think so!" Evan bursts out cheerfully, apparently no longer able to contain himself. "And I do believe that means you owe me twenty bucks!"
Gwen snaps her head towards him so fast that I'm sure she must have gotten whiplash, and glares furiously at him for a moment before she shoves herself away from the banister. She tries to stalk away in her usual snooty manner, but it's obvious she's still shaken by what she just saw. Gwen trips on her fourth step, and after seeing that, it's impossible for Sam, Evan and I to hold back our laughter any longer. We all roar with it, causing Gwen to shoot us another glare, flushing so much it's visible even in the dim light of the house, and then stomp heatedly back to the room.
But even when she's out of sight, the three of us keep laughing, partly at her, though mostly because it's just a way to get rid of all the built up tension from tonight.
Just over an hour later, (after sitting through another argument between Gwen and Evan and making sure she actually gave him his money) we've all settled down in our sleeping bags. From the sound of Gwen's deep, even breathing across from me, and the soft snores coming from Evan on my right, I can tell they're both already asleep. To my left, Sam is completely silent, but I don't think he's sleeping. In fact, I'm pretty sure he's lying there awake, staring up at the ceiling. I mean, that's what I'm doing…
So, you know all those thoughts about Sam and my reactions to him that I've been consistently pushing to the back of my mind for later? Yeah, well…later has come. And I know I won't be able to fall asleep until I sort through them and understand what's going on. I mean, I think I already know what's going on, but still…I need to make sure.
And if it turns out to be what I think it is, then I need to figure out what to do about it before I leave this house. I doubt I'll have the balls to afterwards.
So, okay. Let's start off with the fact that I now know why Sam sometimes makes me feel awkward. It's because I think he's hot. Yeah…that realization kind of hit me in the face earlier. I mean, I've always thought that, it's just…I never really spent much time thinking about it until tonight. 'Cause, you know, why would I when I didn't have a reason to?
And what I mean by that is that before tonight, I believed Sam to be just another no-brain jock. Obviously, now I know he isn't, but I didn't before. How could I when the only things I knew for fact about him was that he was Evan's friend and that he said hi to me whenever he saw me?
I still don't know that much about him, but I know more than I did several hours ago. To name a few, I know now there's more to Sam than just brawns and an attractive face, and that he's sensitive (in more ways than one). And knowing those things makes me wonder what else there is to him.
You know…I think if I asked, he would give me a chance to find out. I mean, if I'm interpreting what Anna said and the way he acts towards me correctly (which I'm almost positive I am), then I'm pretty sure he would. Gladly, even. And I think…I think I really want that chance.
But before I actually ask for it, I have to be sure that I'm not sticking my neck out on the chopping block needlessly. I mean, what if I'm completely misreading the situation—which I've done enough times before for me to know better than to jump blindly into something like this—and make myself look like a fool? I really don't want to embarrass myself; I do that enough without trying.
So, taking a deep breath to prepare myself, I sit up in my sleeping bag. I glance nervously at Sam out of the corner of my eye, and for a few seconds I just stare at him. And—god, this is crazy. But…I have to do this. I just have to. I have to know what's going on between us, if anything is at all.
I take another deep breath and, before I loose my nerve completely, whisper his name.
"Reese?" comes his almost immediate reply—I knew he wasn't sleeping—and he sits up in his sleeping bag too, angling his body towards me. Without really thinking about it, I copy him and blush a little when I realize it, but I don't let it deter me. We then spend a moment just staring at each other through the dark.
"Um…" I finally say. Very eloquently, I may add.
"So, uh…" I continue, now fidgeting uneasily. "You know when Anna was possessing you…?"
"Yeah…?" says Sam, sounding just as nervous as I feel. Unfortunately, that does nothing to reassure me, and I spend a few seconds chewing my tongue, wondering what the hell I'm doing. After those few seconds, though, I force myself to move on, because really. This is ridiculous, how spineless I'm acting.
"Well, uh, she mentioned…something—and I was wondering…" I smile awkwardly and nervously at him, rubbing my neck and still fidgeting. "Well, um, I was wondering whether or not it was true?"
Sam stares at me wide-eyed, and for a moment I feel like such an idiot since the only reason I can think of for him to be staring at me like that is because I've made the completely wrong assumption about him and everything.
But then he nods slowly. Exhaling hard, I stare and blink at him, both in relief and disbelief that I was right. Because, to be honest, I was beginning to half-believe that I was utterly and wholly mistaken.
I wasn't mistaken, though. Sam actually does have a crush on me. And—wow…um...okay then. That's great and everything, but…I still need more clarification than a nod.
I swallow nervously and then ask, "So…you like me?"
"Um…yeah," Sam says quietly, nodding again with a sheepish smile. "Why do you think I'm here? It definitely wasn't because Evan made me come or anything like that."
"Wait—what?" I stare at him some more, unable to fully believe and comprehend what he just said because he can't be implying what I think he's implying.
Sam chuckles a little and gives me a fond look that makes me flush. "I came along with Evan because I knew you'd be dragged here by Gwen."
"Even though you knew this place was haunted and with you're fear of ghosts?" I ask him, still staring at him incredulously.
"Yeah," he says. "I figured being terrified out of my mind would be worth it as long as I could spend a night hanging out with you."
"Oh," I say lamely, because what else am I supposed to fricking say to that?
Jesus Christ, my face feels like it's on fire.
Unfortunately, it's clear by what Sam says next that he's mistaken my inability to articulate like a normal human being as a rejection. Which is wasn't. At all.
"But if you don't feel like that towards me," he tells me in a rush, "it's o—"
I cut him off before he can finish, not only because I can tell by his putout tone and expression that it's not okay, but also because he he's wrong.
"When did I say that I didn't?" I ask him, raising my eyebrows questioningly. "I mean, you haven't even given me a chance, have you? Which was really the whole point of me starting this conversation—you know, to ask for that chance." I smile tentatively at him, only feeling a little bit awkward.
Sam blinks owlishly at me, looking a bit dazed. "Are you…?" he begins to ask hopefully, but then trails off, seeming unable to bring himself to finish the sentence. That's okay, though, because I know what he was going to ask. I smile more assuredly at him and nod.
"Yeah, Sam," I say. "I'm asking you out."
And I do believe this is the balls-iest thing I have ever done. So, uh…where's my reward?
Oh. Duh. Right in front of me.
Sam smiles widely and lets out a delighted laugh. Then the next thing I know, his lips are pressed against mine and—wow. That's nice. Really nice. I like this…A lot.
But before I even have a chance to start kissing him back, Sam pulls away. Frustrated that he stopped, I frown a bit at him and he gives a small, quiet laugh. Sam then rests his knuckles lightly against my cheek, now looking at me with such tender and adoring eyes that, when I see it, my breath catches in my throat. And by now, I know I'm blushing so much that he has to be able to feel the heat coming off of my face on his hand. But that's okay, because this is all surprisingly fantastic.
We stay like that for a while longer. I would have loved to stay like that for the rest of the night—maybe even indulge in the sudden desire I have to snuggle up with him in his sleeping bag—but no. I know that isn't going to happen.
At least…not right yet, anyway.
"Goodnight, Reese," Sam then says, dropping his hand from my face, and I miss it almost immediately. He flashes me another smile and settles back down in his sleeping bag.
But I stay sitting up for a bit, staring at him as I replay what happened in my mind. And once I'm sure that he did actually kiss me and I wasn't just hallucinating, a grin immediately spreads across my lips. I finally lie back down in my sleeping bag, turning on my side so I'm facing Sam. And for a moment, I just watch him breath, feeling extremely content and even a bit smug.
Maybe…maybe this was exactly how I wanted to spend my Friday night after all. I mean, I didn't realize it until now, but…it works. In a strange sort of way it makes sense, you know? And despite Gwen's stubbornness, her and Evan arguing, the doorknob electrocuting me, the ghosts and everything else that we had to go through, I can't think of a something I would've rather done.
Besides…I'd say the outcome was well worth it. More than well worth it, in fact, because kissing Sam definitely beats staying at home, bored and with nothing to do. By a long shot. A very long shot. So, yeah. This was all definitely worth it.
And at that though, I smile to myself and close my eyes.
Within a few minutes, I'm asleep.