Unfinished Business

Chapter Eight

Going through walls and barreling through ceilings were much the same. There was that sound of air being sucked out like a vacuum, an understated pop for a brief second, and then the feel of cool air not unlike the sensation of resurfacing out of water.

Kaetlyn tumbled through the sky like a rag doll, trying desperately to concentrate. Her body jolted in fits and starts, materializing and then dissipating into fog. She muttered beneath her breath, "Please please please please –" and then she felt the air shift behind her.

They both let out an "Oof!" as he materialized behind her and she careened into his body. Tucking an arm around her waist, he twisted them around and they plunged back down to the earth again. The air whistled around them as she mumbled, "Sorry again."

"No biggie," Haden responded easily, looping his other arm underneath her chin against her collarbone. "It's only what? The fifteenth time?"

"Sorry," she could only repeat, embarrassed. It was actually the eighteenth time and by now, she had already grown accustomed to getting retrieved by Haden. At least this time, he'd turned them around so that she could stare up at the sky. Above the city, the night was full of stars, white pinpoints of light that came in different sizes and different intensity. It would be even more stunning if she didn't feel so sick with humiliation and worthlessness.

The view grew foggier as they dropped down to the roof and before she knew it, they were leveling off, touching ground before Cian.

He waited, blowing into his cupped hands. Shifting in place, he pulled his jacket tighter around him and nodded at them.

Kaetlyn didn't meet his eyes, stepping lightly upon concrete and then speeding past him with her head ducked low to take the stairs back to his apartment.

Haden stretched, yawning. "I think the girl needs a leash."

"We're not leashing her," Cian snapped, squinting against the wind as he turned quickly to follow the girl.

"What's wrong with a leash? When it comes to toddlers gone wild, it's a godsend for some parents."

"Shut up."

"A leash could be very comfortable. We could even get those buttery soft leather ones and have some Harry Potter spell it to hold on her."

"Not listening," Cian retorted.

"Unless you want it to be all chains." Haden's crimson eyes widened and he dipped in fast to nudge Cian in the ribs. "Damn, boy, never knew you had it in you."

Cian's teeth gnashed as he shoved the other man away.

"Ooh, kinky." Haden held up his wrists together and in a high falsetto voice, breathed, "Yes, teach me real good, Mr. Mortal Ghostbuster. You can bust me anytime!"

Cian slammed his fist into the side of the man's head and Haden staggered, clutching his temple. "Man! Going deaf here!"

Cian ignored him and bit off, "No jokes like that around her. You already know that she's a bit sensitive."

Haden leered, quirking his brow sensually. "How sensitive?"

The death glare Cian threw him wiped off Haden's grin. The latter dragged his fingers through his spiky hair and shrugged, "Fine. Whatever. Prude." Haden hummed softly as he sent Cian a sly, sidelong look. "Besides, it's no sweat off my brow to be able to help a girl like that." He closed his eyes, pulling his arms close around him to mime a passionate embrace. Then his hands moved up and down in slow, circular caresses.

"Yeah, about that," Cian scowled furiously. "I don't think we need your services anymore. She seems to be getting the hang of things."

"Yeah, right, just define hang." Haden sauntered after him, bobbing his head slightly to some tune in his head. "If by hang, you mean she's hanging from the clouds, then good job, my man, you've never been more right."

The other man's features darkened ominously. "Shut up," he hissed. "She might hear you."

"Or if you mean hang as in she's hanging with the stars, then whoa. You should go on Jeopardy! or something," Haden continued as if he didn't hear him.

"Don't make me –" Cian patted around his pockets and then fished out his weapon. Brandishing it, he prodded the fork in Haden's direction.

Haden keeled over, wheezing in laughter. "Eat me?" He arched his head, whooping to the sky.

Grimly, Cian's arm lashed out without breaking a step in his stride and caught the man neatly in the neck. And Haden started to wheeze again for a completely different reason.

All the same, it wasn't the lessons that really bothered Kaetlyn in the end. No, it was the moments in between when she was left all alone while Cian had to go to classes in the morning or when he had to attend to his part time job or when he had to run errands or when he had to waste time sleeping.

Those were the times when she had utterly nothing else to do but to sit on the couch and twiddle her thumbs in the dark. Those were the times when she had nothing to occupy her mind but the thoughts of what her family was doing at that moment, what they might be thinking, what they might be feeling.

Was Mom walking through the supermarket, pushing her cart aimlessly as she try not to think of Kaetlyn's favorite food? Was she planning on keeping Kaetlyn's old room the same way or was she working on packing away her daughter's stuff, banishing them to the basement within unmarked cardboard boxes?

Was Dad trying to get to sleep, preparing for another long day at work? Would his coworkers still be tiptoeing around him, offering polite condolences?

The light flickered on and she gave a jolt, turning around as Cian appeared in the doorway, rubbing his eyes. Dressed in a white T-shirt and a pair of grey sweatpants, he leaned against the doorway with his arms folded before his chest. He stared at her with a sleepy smile and hooded eyes, dark hair rumpled, and she smiled back, too uncomfortable to really meet his eyes.

"Bored?" His low voice was scratchy from sleep.

She shrugged. Then, looking down at her folded hands, she nodded.

"Want to watch TV or something?"

"I thought you wouldn't want to waste electricity or something," she answered.

He coughed, embarrassed. To be honest, he was a bit neurotic about his expenses, but he thought everybody would be like that too if they had to deal with bills coming everywhere. There were just certain rules and standards you should abide to when your wallet's traumatized. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Limit yourself to computer usage for only two hours a day. Picture clearly in your mind about what you want from the fridge so that you can grab it in a second and shut the door just as fast. Turn on the air conditioner in the summer only when you're close to fainting. And – and okay, he might be a tad too concerned about his finances. Just a bit.

He didn't want Kaetlyn to know that though. "I'm not that much of a miser." And he laughed to punctuate that. And then he scoffed, "Silly."

"Oh. Okay. I see." Hesitantly, she rose from the couch and crouched down before the television. Pausing, she threw another concerned glance over her shoulder at Cian and he slapped on a hearty grin of encouragement.

Without paying much attention, her thumb ran across the video tapes (apparently, Cian didn't believe in the unnecessary costs of a DVD player) that were lined up in the plastic case next to the television and she focused hard on materializing her hand to pluck a random tape out to pop into the VCR.

Pressing the power, she shifted so that her legs were curled beneath her and she turned around slightly to appraise Cian's reaction again. Her mouth went dry at the expression of horror on his face.

Oh god, he was just being kind and there she went, overstepping her boundaries –

Chills swept down her spine when she felt a clammy arm clamp around her neck. It felt like frozen slime and her skin crawled at the touch. The arm started to drag her backward and desperately, she reached up to grab hold of it. It felt waxy, her fingers making indents in what seemed to be putrid clay.

She let out a shriek even as Cian, with his eyes wild, bounded over the couch and leapt over the coffee table.

Her head had just dipped into the television and she could literally see the black and white static surrounding her when she was wrenched forward into Cian's arms.

She went still at the expression of brutal rage on his face and then he jerked her to him, cupping the back of her head as he pressed her face against his neck. He backed up a few steps with her still inside his arms and she could feel the vibrations of his throat against her eyelids as he snarled over her head at the television, "Don't even think about it!"

There was a soft hissing sound and then the television wiped out, going blank. Easing Kaetlyn away from him, Cian jabbed his finger at the VCR's eject button and the video tape slid out into his hand.

Banked fury still lingering in those hazel eyes, he turned back to her and she could only blink up at him, hands limp in her lap.

"I still can't believe it." She touched her neck, trying to rub away that cold, clammy feeling.

"Sorry." Cian filed the videotape into the proper storage case and then locked it with a key. "It wasn't supposed to be there. I think it's one of Haden's practical jokes for me again." He cursed underneath his breath, elaborating on just what he was going to do when he gets his hands on the overheated bastard.

Kaetlyn ran her hands up and down her arms, huddling into the side of the couch. She exclaimed, "Why is there a ghost on the tape in the first place?"

Cian waved a hand. "It's nothing. Something left over from back in the old days when we didn't have everything upgraded to the computer and CDs."

Kaetlyn eyed the case, disturbed. "Really?"

"Yeah, plans are in the works to transfer the data from the tapes to CDs now, but until then …" He scratched the side of his jaw. "They're staying on tapes."

"How long have they been there?" she asked.

He snorted. "Long enough. This whole process is endless. You delete unfinished business for one, five more pops up to take its place."

Skimming her fingers through the couch's arm like it was made of water, she murmured, "Ghosts aren't it."

Cian winced. "Ah, right. Sorry." He rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably and stood before the case, staring down at the wide black rectangle box. "It's just … everything gets old after a while and by now, all we care about is how to make our job easier." He cast her a sidelong look. "Believe me, it was hell when one of our hunters –"


"Uh, mediator. Your, uh, ghostbuster. Whatever."

"Oh. You guys sure have a lot of names."

"Well, there's not really a set label. It's not like it's a title we need to file on for taxes."

"Hmm." She made a noncommittal sound.

He coughed, stroking the stubble on his jaw. "Anyway, yeah, it was hell when one of our hunters caught a ghost on tape and then lost it somewhere. It was complete chaos afterwards, especially since our video tapes' security systems are much more lax than the CDs."

"What happened?"

He shrugged. "Something about the ghost being able to crawl out of the television and wreak havoc."

Sighing, he crossed over the room to take a seat beside her, taking care to avoid the singed leather. Doing so, he was nearly halfway in her seat, but she didn't point that out since it didn't seem to matter. Technically, if he wanted to, he could probably sit in her seat what with her being as tangible as steam.

And then there was the fact that she liked the heat that radiated from his body. Barely a month and she'd already forgotten how warm being a human could be.

Cian let his head drop back against the couch's headrest with a soft sigh. Closing his eyes, he murmured, "Damage control took nearly two months. The ghost killed some people and of course, their ghosts had to be picked up as well. Man, those video tapes were heavy."

"But why would she kill so many people?"

He shrugged. "Some ghosts, not unlike humans, are just twisted. Maybe the power got to their heads. One thing was certain though - it got out of our hands and it turned ugly real fast. For a long while even after she was retrieved, we still couldn't keep the case locked down. Bits and pieces of the story definitely seeped into the public." His smile turned rueful. "Inspired a few movies, I believe."

Slowly twirling a lock of hair around her finger, Kaetlyn leaned into the curve of the couch's armrest, concentrating slightly to make sure she didn't tumble right through it.

"You could turn on the television now," he mumbled drowsily.

Her attention veered over to the black box, eyeing it with some apprehension. "It's okay. I'll pass."

Eyes still closed, his lips curved into a dreamy smile. "Guess we'll just have to get you some books, huh?"

Turning her head, she leaned the side of her cheek against the couch and studied his profile. As she curled up her legs, they brushed through his body in a wave of warmth and she shivered at the sensation. A small smile touched her lips and she softly affirmed, "Probably."

He didn't answer. His breathing gradually evened out into a low and steady rhythm until she was sure that he'd fallen deeply asleep. Shifting in her seat, she watched his mouth fall half open as he breathed, his long eyelashes curling against the dark shadows beneath his eyes, and she smiled. As quietly as she could, she clapped to turn out the lights. He didn't even stir and she realized that once again, she was left to her own devices for the rest of the night.

Except this time, with his body next to hers, she wasn't quite so alone anymore.

Author's Note

I was recently notified that I've been nominated in the Some Kind of Wonderful Awards Round Six under the category of Amazing Wordsmith and that Unfinished Business has been nominated for the story category of Most Humorous (Incomplete). The new theme is Fairytales whoa (minus the whoa) so it's given me quite a buzz.

That being said, if you have time to kill, please take a look at all the nominees there! Please take the chance to check out some new stories and vote for your favorite when voting begins. They make a great reading list if you're especially sick of waiting on crappy authors who take years to update (ahem) and you want to devote your attention to someone who deserves it better than said crappy author.

All I've got to say is … forgiveness is a virtue?

And that I love you all. Desperately. Passionately. Red velvet a la cake passion.

Haha, happy reading and voting, everyone!

- Maeven

© Copyright 07/07/2008 Maeven (FictionPress ID:349779). All rights reserved. Distribution of any kind is prohibited without the written consent of Maeven.