Chapter 1

Toby Moris hadn't even known the boy who died.

According to the information he'd picked up in the days after the boy's death, they ran in two different social circles. Toby was a jock, a football player, and good looking, and so obviously, he hung out with his team mates, and lots of hot girls. Just your average jock. He'd found out that some of his teammates knew the guy, but he personally didn't even know the guy existed.

The boy who had died, whose name was Jonathan, apparently, had not been his kind of friend. He was into music, apparently part of a singing duo with his best friend, who Toby realized he did know, from a class, with apparently hopeful dreams of one day making it big. He was also, if the rumors were to be believed, gay. And while Toby himself had nothing against it, his girl cousin was gay, he wasn't gay, so he didn't exactly know every gay kid in the school. So, Jonathan was not somebody that was noticed often, by the whole of the student body.

In conclusion, he and Toby had never met. Probably would never have met.

Shouldn't have.

*(*)

The day his world was flipped, was a Tuesday. Jonathan had been dead for only a week, so everybody was still talking about him. His body had been discovered in the back of the school, laying down in the grass next to the football field. Toby had been there for that.

He'd been walking with two of his teammates, Cory and Finn, and Finn's girlfriend, Stacy. Stacy had veered away from them suddenly, saying she saw something by the field. The boys had waited, slightly curious, but not enough to follow her. Until she screamed. Loudly. Like she was being gutted alive with a butcher knife.

So they'd ran over, and what they'd seen was still carved into his memory, and probably would be for a while to come.

The body of Jonathan Bell was lying in the grass, cold and pale, staring up into the sky with his eyes open, like he was still staring up at the one who'd given him the marks around his neck. The boys failed at being brave, and they screamed too, scared, terrified, unbelieving.

People had run over, and they screamed too, until finally an adult came, and school was shut down for the day.

Jonathan Bell. He'd been murdered. Strangled. Monday night. No suspects.

Now, a week later, a Tuesday just like that day, Toby was sitting at his lunch table, Cory, who had dark skin and a football player body on his left, and Finn, similar body type, but with dark brown hair, on his right. Toby was similar to the both of them in body type, because after all, you had to be in good shape if you wanted to play football, but his light brown hair was shaved down, like a military cut. His little cousins described it as, "Fuzzy. Like a caterpillar."

The table was crowded by other football players, and some girlfriends, and girlfriend's friends. And of course, the cheerleaders.

Toby was talking with Yuki Fuyu, a japanese girl with pretty black hair, stunning eyes, and a good body. She was the only girl at the table that Toby really wanted to be there, since he'd sort of had a crush on her since the ninth grade. She dressed in cute outfits with lots of accessories, but was also very polite and sweet. She was just the nicest, most interesting girl he'd met.

"It's so sad, isn't it?" she said, turning her head to look across the courtyard. Toby followed her gaze, and it landed on Hajime Noboru, Jonathan's best friend, sitting on the staircase leading up to the second floor, with his face between his legs, his black hair falling around his face to hide it. Hajime was Japanese like Yuki, and he was a few inches shorter than Toby, who was six-foot one. Hajime was skinny though, with one of those lean body's that some girls seemed to prefer.

Toby expected him to be swamped by people, since he was the only link to Jonathan Bell that this school could find. But there was only one boy beside him, a white boy with blond hair down to his ears, the tips dyed brown. He was sitting next to Hajime, looking at him with tender, but sad eyes, like he wanted to comfort him, but didn't know how. He raised a hand, like he was going to put it on Hajime's shoulder, then brought it back down with that same sad look.

And he looked oddly familiar.

"Who's that with him?" Toby asked Yuki, and she looked at him curiously.

"What do you mean? There's nobody with him." she answered, looking back again to check and make sure that she hadn't missed the person that Toby was seeing. But she shook her head and looked back.

"He's alone."

Now Toby was the one looking back, wondering if he'd imagined it, but clearly, there was a boy there, sitting right next to Hajime. How could she miss him? He was as clear as day. Toby looked at him closer, knowing he knew him from somewhere, but not knowing where. Like he'd only caught a brief glimpse before...before he'd turned away.

From the dead body.

His eyes widened, and his heart pounded. This wasn't possible. He'd never seen any kind of ghost before, not even when he and his group went to supposedly haunted places. He didn't even believe in ghosts.

So it wasn't possible.

"Hey...what did that guy looked like?" he asked Yuki softly, and she gave him a look.

"I thought you were there." she said.

"I didn't get a good look."

She tilted her head, seeming to think it over. "Hmmm. He was in my music class, actually. Very passionate about it. So was Hajime." She smiled briefly at the memories, then the smile faded again. "Anyway, he was a few inches shorter than Hajime, and he had blond hair down to his ears-"

"With the tips dyed brown?" he asked, hoping he didn't sound as breathless as he felt.

Yuki nodded. "That's right."

Toby looked back, eyes drilling into the boy he saw so clearly, but nobody else did. To his surprise, he had a cross around his neck, along with a bunch of other necklaces that he couldn't place from this distance. The boy seemed to realize he was being stared at, because he suddenly looked away from Hajime and swept his eyes across the students, until he locked eyes with Toby.

They stared at each other, the boy's eyes growing wider as he realized that Toby wasn't looking away. His mouth moved, and even though Toby couldn't hear him, he could read what he said well enough.

Can you see me?

Toby's mouth fell open, and he blinked, trying to will the boy away. He must just still be messed up about being there to find the body. That had to be it. He counted to five in his head, then opened his eyes slowly, looking back to Hajime, who had moved his head to look at the space next to him, like he'd felt somebody next to him.

But the space next to him was empty.

*(*)

Toby couldn't shake the weird experience. It had seemed so real, and for the rest of the day, he'd got the odd feeling he was being watched. What if that really was the ghost of Jonathan Bell? If so, why could he see him? Why not anyone else, somebody who wanted to see him, like Hajime, or his parents? He shook his head, to try and brush it off, shouting a goodbye to his friends over his shoulders as he got to his house.

As he shut his door behind him, the first thing he noticed was that his cousin, Cody, wasn't sitting on the couch where he usually was, watching television. Maybe he'd actually made it to school today.

Toby went and knocked on Cody's bedroom door, and when he didn't get an answer, opened it a crack and peered in. His eyes swept over the room, which was still trashed from the night before. Cody and his dad, Toby's Uncle Marty, had had another blow up the night before, and from his room next door, it had sounded really bad. That's why he expected Cody to still be home. No way Uncle Marty would let him go to school all cut up like that.

Toby had lived with his Uncle Marty, Aunt Kary, and Cody for as long as he could remember. When he was three years old, his mother, who was Uncle Marty's younger sister had left him with her brother and vanished. She had gotten pregnant with him at fourteen, and couldn't raise him alone. So, she'd given him up, and left him when she was seventeen.

During the times Marty would actually answer one of his questions, Toby had learned that she'd found some other guy and gone with him. Nobody knew who he was, or where they went, just that she left a note apologizing, saying she wasn't coming back.

Before he could dwell on the thoughts further, he turned and went to his room. He didn't want to think about it. He had done just fine without her. Nevermind his uncle, who wasn't shy about how he treated people, or his aunt, who was usually too busy at work to even know what was going on around her or her family.

He went into his room, which was cleaner than it had been when he left for school. What was that about? Had Kary cleaned up? Doubtful. Had Cody straightened it up before he left? But why would he do that? Wouldn't he want to do his own room first? Suddenly, Toby felt something, like somebody had entered his room.

"Excuse me." A voice said, and Toby looked at his bed, surprised to find that there was suddenly somebody on it. He was sure it had been empty when he walked in! Toby's mouth dropped open, and he backed up when he realized that it was Jonathan sitting there, looking as real as the rest of the world. At Toby's reaction, he jumped up.

"I knew it!" he said excitedly. "I knew you could see me!"

Was this seriously happening? Toby watched in open-mouthed shock as Jonathan jumped around the room, making him wonder how he'd gone years without noticing this person. How could he not see somebody jumping around like a jack-rabbit?

"I'm crazy." he mumbled to himself, closing his eyes and counting, the same trick he'd used earlier today. He counted again, up to five, back down to one, then up and down one more time just for good measure. When he opened his eyes, he expected the other boy to be gone again, but to his disappointment, he was still there, standing only a few feet from him now.

"You're not crazy. It's really me."

Toby was quiet for a few more seconds, trying to formulate words.

"Yeah, it's you." he said. "But why can I see you?"

Jonathan shrugged, sitting back on Toby's bed. He'd have to wash those sheets later. They now had ghost germs, or something, he was sure.

"You tell me. Seen any other ghosts?"

Toby shook his head.

"Well maybe you have, and just didn't realize it. I mean, I look solid, right?"

A nod.

"Then you wouldn't really know, would you?"

That wasn't possible. No way he'd been walking around his whole entire life, seeing ghosts, and not even realizing him. But...he was right, wasn't he? He wouldn't know, since he didn't know them in real life, and couldn't tell that they were supposed to be dead. The only reason he knew Jonathan was dead was because...he was the one who had found his body.

Jonathan seemed to read his mind.

"Toby Moris. You're one of the ones who found my body, right?"

Toby gulped. Had Jonathan been around then, and he was just too panicked to see it? Standing in the crowd, watching as kids ran towards and away from his very own body? Slowly, he nodded, and breathed. "Yeah. I was there."

Jonathan looked at the floor, his eyes looking like they had when he'd first seen him sitting next to Hajime. Sad. But who wouldn't be sad to be dead, stuck on earth? Speaking of which...

"Shouldn't you be passing on, or something?" he asked, looking around for his cell phone, which he'd forgotten this morning, and left it somewhere on his floor. He kicked his things around, but couldn't see it.

"I straightened up your room a little. It was a mess." Jonathan said, smiling gently. "Your phone is over there." His finger lifted, and he pointed to his windowsill. Sure enough, there sat his phone. It felt colder, like it had sat in the freezer for a few minutes.

"You can touch stuff?"

"Sometimes. Only when I concentrate really hard."

"Can you touch me?" He was curious. What did it feel like to be touched by a ghost? Would it be cold, like they always said? Or would he just feel like a normal human to Toby, since he saw him so clearly?

"I don't know. Want to try?"

Toby thought it over a few more seconds, then moved forward and reached out his hand. From his bed, Jonathan did the same, lifting his arm, eyes narrowed, like he was focusing all his energy. Right as their fingertips were about to touch, Toby pulled back, frightened. Nothing this freaky had every happened to him. Jonathan lowered his hand, looking sad again.

"It's okay. I'd be freaked out too." he whispered softly, and he seemed more like a ghost now, his words soft and feathery, making Toby have to strain to hear them. He threw his hands up in the air, then covered his ears and shook his head.

"This can't be happening. You've gotta be shitting me." He leveled a challenging glare at the ghost boy. "Prove it to me!"

Jonathan gave a confused look.

"Prove to me that you're ghost, and this isn't just me going insane!"

Jonathan stared at him for a few seconds, considering it. Then he was gone, like he'd he never been there in the first place, except that the air around Toby felt cold. Had it been this cold before? Or was he just too busy noticing the ghost to pay attention to little details such as that? Where had Jonathan gone? He waited for him to reappear, and after a few second, he did, except this time, he rose out of the ground, only about a foot from Toby, making him muffle a scream and leap back. Totally manly.

"There's a boy coming up the stairs. Brown hair, baggy clothes."

Cody.

Toby opened his bedroom door, throwing a look down the stairs, waiting, tense. Sure enough, a moment later, footsteps, the light ones of his cousin, and then he appeared, backpack slung over his shoulder, hoodie pulled over his face. He barely looked up at Toby as he went by, making Toby worry. Cody and him were like brothers. Cody was younger than him by three years, an eight grader, so he looked up to Toby for a lot of advice. Then again, he must still be upset about last night.

"Codes, how was school?" Toby called after him, trying to make things normal, even though there was a ghost standing behind him, looking pretty smug. At his voice, Cody looked up, like he'd only just realized he was there, and gave him a wobbly smile. His young green eyes were wet, like he was about to cry.

"It was fine." was all he said, before vanishing into his room. Toby heard thumping coming from the room a few seconds later, so he figured Cody was putting his room back together again.

Toby sighed and turned back to Jonathan, whose smile was gone. He had sensed the tense mood, seen Cody's sad eyes, and had rightly become more serious.

"Okay. Fine. What do you want from me?"

Jonathan frowned. "Huh?"

"Why'd you come to me? You want me to help you pass on, or something?" Wasn't that what ghosts usually wanted? Something like, tell my family how much I love them, take me to a place I've always wanted to go, ect. He could do that, probably.

"I don't know. I was just lonely, so I came to your house. But now that you mention it." Jonathan answered, laying back on Toby's bed, stretching out. However, the blankets didn't crinkle or crease, as they would if an alive person did the same thing. Freaky.

"Okay, so, what first?"

The ghost was quiet, so quiet that Toby realized he wasn't even breathing. No point. Still freaky.

"I don't know. I'll tell you when I think of it."

With those words, he started to vanish. Slowly, from foot to his head.

"Wait, wait, where are you going?" Toby asked. Way to dump this on him, then ditch out.

"Hajime's." Jonathan said simply, and was gone.

And Toby was left standing his room, the air still chilly, listening to Cody going through the said routine of putting together a room that would no doubt be destroyed by the end of the day.


Hey, I learned how to make the spell check work. How cool is that?

This idea came to me from watching tons of ghost stuff in the summer that had occured.