colette4_icon.gif tasha2_icon.gif

Scene Title Poltergeist
Synopsis A ghost from the past finds its way to the light.
Date February 3, 2020


Brooks-Demsky-Lazzaro Residence.

Time apart is hard. Time together is short. When they get that gift, the gift of time, it’s easy to be selfish with it, to curl up in one another and ignore the rest of the world for hours on end.

This is one of those times. A weekend with nothing on the calendar for either of them. Even Tamara is out for the evening, staying with a friend. Eventually they might emerge and invite others into their sphere, or step outside of it into the world beyond. But the last several hours have been spent in blissful isolation — much like when they had first met during the unnatural ice age of so many years go.

Now, Tasha lazily flips through the channels of the television. It’s just white noise, something to respond to now and then while they relax in the pile of blankets and a downy comforter. She lands on a rerun of The Office, innocuous enough and removed enough from either of their realities it may as well be high fantasy.

“Never thought I’d ever use those again,” Colette says quietly from behind Tasha, sandwiched between her and the back of the couch, one arm around the smaller brunette’s midsection. She’s propped her head up on her palm, elbow pressing down into the sofa cushions. “The uh, whatchamacallits.” She gestures opaquely toward the glow of the TV, then illuminates the old rabbit-ear antenna with a dramatic and sourceless spotlight. The glow fades, and she cracks a smile. “I’d kill for Yamagato to run cable lines or something…”

She should be thankful. There’s no a lot of homes in the Safe Zone equipped to watch television and only a handful of broadcast stations available in the region. Most entertainment viewing these days is done through streaming on the GhostNet from foreign media sources. But WNYA in Albany is still broadcasting, and broadcasting whatever they can get their hands on, given the gray area of media licensing in the post-war America they’ve found themselves operating in. It can’t last forever, but at least it can for a time.

“Sucks they never got t’finish it,” Colette says down into Tasha’s hair. She means The Office. “Next season was supposed t’be their last one,” she says conversationally over something pithy one of the characters was saying. She’s always like this with television. Always.

‘Antenna?” Tasha says, supplying the word for the rabbit-ears when Colette lands on ‘whatchamacallits’ with a laugh. “Or antennae in the plural, I guess. We had an old neighbor that had them in his apartment, too cheap to pay for basic cable, I guess. He would come over sometimes to watch baseball with my dad when he couldn’t get a good signal.”

She doesn’t mind the chatter over the television, especially since it’s reruns of a show that’s older than their relationship. The episode is early in season 2, so Jim is still pining after Pam, and featuring the will-they-won’t-they moments.

“I had,” Tasha says in a conspiratorial tone, “the biggest crush on Jim.” She laughs, resting her head back against Colette’s shoulder. “Tall, scruffy, goofy… not to mention mad Jello skills. What’s not to love?”

Antennae in the plural I guess,” Colette says in a nasally, mocking voice, pantomiming pushing glasses up the bridge of her nose with one hand. She breaks out into laughter a second later and rests her chin on top of Tasha’s head. Her attention turns away from the tv, down to Tasha as she slouches back against the sofa cushions and pulls her close with that arm around her midsection.

“My TV crush?” Colette raises her dark brows, pressing her nose into the back of Tasha’s hair. “The uh, the show…” her brows crease together, “fuck the one with the— uhh— they’re in the basement? Getting hi— that 70’s show!” She excitedly shouts when she remembers. “Donna. One-hundred percent.” She shakes her head and laughs awkwardly.

“Are you implying I’m a nerd?” Tasha asks, her dark eyes widening as if she’s offended by the implicit accusation.

As if this is the first time they’ve done this little bit.

A bubbly laugh breaks the effect, and Tasha tips her head, trying to remember and picture the show from before she knew Colette.

“Oh, right, the redhead. Tall and curvy.” Not at all like Tasha, but she doesn’t seem to take offense at that. “She was hot. I was, uh, still thinking Ashton Kucher was more my type back then,” she admits, grinning a little as she brushes her lips across Colette’s jawline.

“I have a very, very specific type when it comes to girls, I guess,” Tasha murmurs, tugging a lock of Colette’s hair. “Dark hair…” One hand slides down the other woman’s leg. “Slim… and…”

Whatever the third point is, it’s interrupted by the sound of something falling upstairs, thudding loudly against the floor above their heads. Tasha jumps, looking up; this close, Colette can feel Tasha’s pounding heart and the way she tenses completely.

The sigh that slips out of Colette when the moment is interrupted is palpable. Keeping one arm around Tasha’s shoulders, Colette straightens her back and lifts her chin up and listens for a moment. “Might’ve been Misty,” she says quietly, gently brushing her other hand across Tasha’s side as a comforting gesture.

Colette settles back down and rests her cheek against Tasha’s hair. “Hold on, I’ll check…” That Colette doesn’t get up and move is familiar to Tasha, that subtle crease between her brows, the vein at her temple that becomes visible. She’s too comfortable to get up, so she’s looking remotely. Colette’s vision threads out of the room, light bent in a hair-fine filament on a snaking path to the stairs, seeking out the source of the sound without leaving the comfort of Tasha side.

The jingle of Misty’s collar and tags somewhere close by is heard, when the dog scratches at an itchy spot on her neck before flopping back down on one of her doggy beds with a heavy sigh — as if to refute the implied accusation that it’s her making that racket. Whatever is upstairs doesn’t seem to be bothering her. Tasha’s hold tightens around Colette’s waist and she reaches for her phone — she may already have the police in her house, but she still might call 9-1-1 for back-up.

“If it’s my dad, I’m going to kill him,” she murmurs quietly — a feeble attempt at making herself feel better. An attempt to seem braver than she is.

Before Colette’s light trail makes it all the way up the steps, another thud is followed by a sudden crash that ends in the unmistakable sound of broken glass.

To her credit, Tasha doesn’t scream.

The door to the upstairs bedroom is closed, but that doesn’t keep Colette from weaving her vision toward it, letting that slim thread of focused light creep under the thin margin between door and floor.

At first, there’s nothing — empty bedroom, empty bathroom, empty closet.

At second glance, Colette notices items have been knocked a little out of place. Glass of a broken knick-knack glitters on the ground. A book lies, face down, pages bending under the weight of the splayed cover.

But then Colette sees it:

A loose page, torn from the book. Scrawled in pencil, the words: HELP IM HERE.

Fuck,” Colette jolts, snapping back from her bent vision to her body. She would scramble away were it not for Tasha’s weight on her and their entangled limbs. “Fuck, fuck. Something— someone’s in the house.” She gasps out, twisting and levering herself to disentangle from Tasha and get off the couch, bare feet touching down on the floor with one hand still on Tasha’s shoulder.

After that moment Colette is placid, standing perfectly still and listening with that hand no longer on Tasha’s shoulder but palm out toward her, indicating she should stay still too. Colette points one finger upstairs, then looks back at Tasha and shakes her head, for all her worth looking like she saw a ghost. Without saying a word, Colette turns to face a corner of the room and illuminates the locked drawer she keeps her sidearm in then motions to it with her chin.

Tasha jumps when Colette does, her heart pounding all the faster. She’s reluctant to let go of her hold on the other woman but she pulls herself up into a sitting position as she watches Colette, nodding when she’s gestured to sit still.

She doesn’t need to be told not to go up.

Her brows draw together as she glances to the drawer. She doesn’t like guns. But she nods, rising, fishing Colette’s keys from the bowl on the coffee table where they were dumped earlier, and creeps toward the locked drawer, her gaze darting from the corner to the ceiling to her partner.

Upstairs, they can hear a door flung open hard enough for it to hit the hallway wall, then a few footfalls on the landing above. A voice —


And then nothing.

That shortened syllable was too short to even make sense of — whether it was a person — a man, woman, a child — it simply wasn’t long enough to tell.

Colette presses herself up against the doorframe at the sound of footfalls, her right hand flexing open and closed. She looks left, watching Tasha until the drawer is open and she’s retrieved the pistol, and only then steps out of the living room into the dining room. When she opens her hand again, a disc of light spreads from between her fingers and slowly rotates over her palm as she creeps past the dining room table.

Only once Colette reaches the edge of the kitchen and can see more clearly into the foyer that she signals with one hand for Tasha to move up. It’s been a decade since they’d had to work like this together, since the Ferrymen, since everything. Worry pounds at her heart, nervous looks to Tasha over her shoulder. She fears how hard this is for her.

Colette motions to the foyer, indicating where she’s going, then starts creeping through the kitchen.

Once, Tasha felt comfortable with a gun in her hands. After instruction from Raith and others, she was almost good at it.

The last time she fired a gun, she almost died for that action.

The breath she takes is a shaky one, but she turns the sidearm in her hand, finding the safety and switching it off. She doesn’t trust herself to find it when she needs it at a second’s notice, but hates the feeling of the cold metal in her sweaty palm.

Her dark eyes watch Colette creep forward and when she gestures, Tasha moves forward too, eyes up on the ceiling as if she could see through it, to see whoever it is making the noise

which begins again.

A dull thud sounds, as if someone or something had hit the wall, followed by another yell. This time, it’s clear.

The same words from the crumpled paper upstairs: “Help me! I’m here!” before cutting off, the sound abrupt like someone hitting pause on an audio recording a millisecond too soon.

“Is that… it sounds like a kid,” whispers Tasha, looking down at the gun and sliding the safety back to on.

Colette’s eyes are wide as she looks back over her shoulder to Tasha, an audible swallow coming next. In spite of her tension, she relaxes just a little on her way across the room. In spite of her fear, some of her tension has slipped away in suspecting that it might be a child. Colette creeps through the kitchen, eyes upturned toward the ceiling in reflexive response to the noise. When she passes through the doorway into the living room, she gives the stairs a wide berth, then motions for Tasha to follow.

At the bottom of the stairs, Colette looks up to the second floor landing, flexing the hand not holding light in it open and closed a few times before she starts to creep barefoot up the steps. Her mind is racing to the possibilities, but at the same time she can’t will herself to call out in response to the voice. That tangle of fear in the back of her mind pulls those words back before they can form.

Seeing those wide eyes, Tasha reaches forward to give Colette’s shoulder a tight squeeze. She waits, holding her breath, without really realizing she’s doing so, as Colette moves stealthily through the rooms.

A quick exhale is followed by another quick gasp that’s held again as she follows; the gun in her hand feels heavy and she glances at the safety one more time to make sure it’s on, before moving her hand into the pocket of the long cardigan she wears. Her fingers are still wrapped around it, ready to pull it out if she has to, but if the voice belongs to a child, she’s not going to point a weapon at an innocent.

Colette’s feet on the stairs, light as they are, find the spot that creaks, the sudden noise loud in the relative quietude of the apartment.

Nothing happens, not for a long moment, long enough for Colette to continue the ascent, Tasha below and peering up, her dark eyes wide, reflecting the light in Colette’s hand back up at her in miniature.

Then, up on the landing, faint and nearly invisible, clear, wispy vapors begin to coalesce into a figure — the shape of a person. A child.

Though there’s no noise to indicate it, it seems to be a struggle: the silvery-white plumes of something — gas? — seem to want to pull apart more than they want to unite, and the figure seems to dissolve into nothing then come back together again before their eyes.

“We’re here,” Tasha murmurs up the stairs, her eyes wide, but the fear has turned into something else — anxiousness and worry for someone other than herself and Cole. “We’re here for you.”

For an instant, the wispy silhouette begins to solidify — color and texture filling in where nothing but vapor was before. Yellow shirt. Dark hair. Blue jeans. Dark pleading eyes lock on Colette’s, at Tasha behind her. It’s like being eye to eye with a ghost.


“Col-” he — it seems to be a he — begins to say, before the color drains and the mist pulls apart and dissolves. Like they’re watching the last minute in reverse.

What the fuck?, Colette mouths in absolute silence from the bottom of the stairs. For a few fleeting moments Colette is frozen in irrational panic, shoulders squared and back straight. She keeps flexing that empty hand open and closed, then finally clenches it in a fist as rational thought takes over.

There’s no such thing as ghosts,” Colette whispers to herself, taking a step up. Then another, and another. She doesn’t focus back toward Tasha as she moves; attention locked on the spot that she law saw the poltergeist. But, she does call down to her.

“Tasha, call SESA. Tell them we might have a… a…” Colette’s voice wavers as she stands in the middle of the stairs. “Manifestation accident?” She isn’t sure how else to quantify it, but she’s seen enough abilities gone awry to suspect — now that fear has subsided — this to be the case.

Taking another step up the stairs, Colette calls out. “Hey, can you hear me?”

“Remember Rue thought Samara was a ghost,” Tasha whispers back. “I think he’s just stuck somehow.” Her eyes hold fast on the spot the boy had just been before slipping away into nothingness again.

She pulls her cell phone from the pocket where she’d slipped it and finds the contact. She keeps her voice low as she answers the questions from the dispatcher on the other line; what’s happened, where they’re located, that it’s a kid.

Colette’s question first draws no response. A long moment passes before wisps of air materialize and begin to coalesce into a figure again. The borders are blurred but at the top of the stairs stands — if that’s the right word — the rough shape of a child in nearly invisible mist or fog.

It shimmers there for a moment before the colors begin to fill in — first transparent, then translucent, and then finally as solid as Colette or Tasha.

A little boy locks eyes on Colette and gives her a tremulous smile before he staggers forward, exhausted and about to pitch headlong down the stairs.

Whoa,” Colette exclaims as she drops to one knee and wraps her arms around the kid’s midsection. “Whoa, whoa.” She scoops him up, preventing him from tumbling forward even as she takes a knee to lower her center of gravity and not get taken down with him.

“Easy, easy,” Colette says, taking one of his hands rather hastily in hers and giving it a squeeze. “I’m here. I’m here. I’ve got’cha. You gotta stay focused for me, ok? Focus on your hand, on my hand. I’ve gotcha.” Colette doesn’t need to turn to swivel her focus down to Tasha, making sure she’s ok before turning her attention back to the kid. “You’re here. It’s ok, I see you.”

Tasha stares up, her hands covering her mouth and nose as Colette catches the boy. She runs up the stairs between them to crouch behind, to make sure Colette doesn’t lose her balance and tumble down the stairs.

“He’s so little,” she breathes out, barely a whisper, and louder, for his sake, “We’re here. We see you.” She rests her hand on Colette’s shoulder as she stares down at their uninvited house guest.

The hand in Colette’s squeezes back and the boy’s eyes open again. He looks like he’s just about ten years old. His features are distinctive — a pert nose, arching eyebrows that give his face a perpetual look of surprise. It’s a face that nudges the back recesses of Colette’s memory. It’s the face of the middle Villanueva boy, a child she had thought had been killed at the hands of his parents in an explosion four years ago. She remembers it from the dossiers they had gone over before the mission. She remembers it from the gallery wall in the Vermont farmhouse the day they tried to arrest his parents. War criminals — whose final act of hatred and destruction in the world was to set off a suicide bomb that took the lives of three of their children.

Or just two.

“Hi,” the little boy whispers, staring up at the two women peering down at him. “I see you too.”

How,” Colette croaks out, the challenging memories of that day flooding back. She purposefully looks over to Tasha in a form of passive recognition, then focuses back on “Hugo.” She remembers his name from the dossiers too. “You’re Hugo Villanueva.” She says the name with a breathless exasperation and doesn’t realize she’s trembling.

It had been hard enough telling Tasha about that time, about everything that happened in that horrible house. But the impossibility she’s been presented with here feels all the more unreal. Colette gently bites down on her bottom lip, tries to speak and nothing comes out, then manages to squeak out a tight, “What happened?” For lack of any ability to formulate a better response in the moment.

When she says his name, Hugo’s eyes tear up, and he throws his arms around her neck. He seems too weak to cry as hard as he might if he hadn’t just willed himself into corporeal form, but Colette can feel his shaking shoulders, his thin ribs rising and falling with each broken breath.

“Oh, my God,” Tasha murmurs, her fingers tightening around Colette’s shoulder; her eyes, as dark as Hugo’s, well with tears as well. “He must have escaped with you,” she whispers. “Has he been here all along?”
In Colette’s arms, Hugo nods at Tasha’s words, and sucks in a breath to try to speak. Colette can see he hasn’t aged past the age he was then — caught in that gaseous form, invisible to them, the little boy has been frozen in time.

“When my dad set off the bombs, I just… I wasn’t a person anymore. I could see everything, everyone but I couldn’t talk and I didn’t want to stay with them so I followed you home,” he manages, his voice raspy. He relents a little in the fierceness of his grip around Colette’s neck and shifts to sit his bottom down on the top step once more.

“Once saw Tasha’s dad,” the familiarity seems strange from this invisible roommate, “I thought maybe I could do what he does but it took so much practice. I managed once before but no one was home.” Hugo scowls a little, like a child who managed a trick when no one was watching. “It makes me tired. It’s easier to be air.”

The doorbell rings, and Colette feels Hugo’s hand lose substance in hers. He grows translucent for a second, but takes a deep breath, staring at his hand in hers and his solidity returns. “It’s SESA, huh?”

Tasha gives Colette a wide-eyed look, and rises from her crouch on the steps. “I’ll get it.”

Colette is overwhelmed by Hugo’s story, of his physical disassociation from the explosion. She keeps one hand cradled at the back of his neck and then folds down to sit on the floor with him at the top of the stairs. The wisp in the photographs, a refraction of light through vapor. Suddenly the anomalous shape in all the photographs makes more sense.

Downstairs, there’s an alarmed Rhys Bluthner at the door. “Ms. Lazzaro,” he says with a look past her into the house, spotting Colette at the top of the stairs. “I heard the call go through dispatch. I was just down the street,” he says with a jerk of a thumb over his shoulder. “Is everything alright?”


Upstairs, Colette speaks softly to Hugo. “It’s gonna be okay, alright? You’re safe now. We’re gonna figure this out. We’re gonna figure this out.”

Tasha looks relieved to see Rhys of all people on the doorstep — she trusts SESA, given friends and family work for them, but one that’s less intimidating is a welcome sight — for her anyway — and she’s glad on behalf of the child upstairs.

“You don’t have to be so fancy, Butterfly. Come in. I think it’s okay. Not dangerous,” she says, tugging him by the arm and smiling up at him — the smile is still tense, as she glances to the hallway.

“It’s a little boy. Has some sort of vapor ability that he’s been stuck in for…” Years. Tasha shakes her head in wonder again, as she does the mental math to count backward, remembering too well the awful story, picturing exactly where she was, where Colette had been, when the then-Wolfhound agent explained the events of that horrifying day.

Five years.”

She holds out a hand for him to stay back for a moment, and moves back to the base of the steps.

“Agent Rhys is here. He’s a friend, okay, Hugo? He’s here to help,” she says softly, before beckoning Rhys forward. “Hugo Villanueva, Agent Rhys Bluthner.”

Hugo nods at Colette’s reassuring words before turning to look at Tasha’s voice. He nods again, but his hand tightens on Colette’s to keep him ground. Keep him solid. “Like Reese’s Pieces,” he says with a small smile in an attempt at bravery.

“There’s a long line of very cute people who call me that,” Rhys says in his gentle voice from the bottom of the stairs, “looks like you’re on the list, Hugo.” Colette twists with Hugo in her arms, just enough so Rhys can see her expression. The worry there is evident, and Rhys sees it, as well as so many other things as his pupils draw wide like Tamara’s sometimes do.

Hand on the railing, Rhys looks back to Tasha and nods in a sort of non-verbal confirmation that he is who she thinks he is. “How’re you doing up there, Ms. Demsky?”

“Peachy.” Colette says softly, not letting Hugo go. She turns her attention to the boy, smoothing his hair out of his face.

“How’re you feelin?” Colette asks Hugo in a small voice, searching his eyes with a purposeful reflection in her blind ones. Children have easier tells when they’re lying, but Expressives show the stress of their ability use in their eyes sometimes. Colette knows that well. She isn’t just looking for deception, but broken blood vessels, unusual iris colorations, anything that might indicate burnout.

Tasha smiles at the gentle words from both Rhys and Colette for Hugo. “Let me know what I can do to help,” she says quietly, leaning against the bannister and looking up, eyes soft but still worried.

“I like nectarines better. The fuzz is weird on peaches. Who wants fruit with hair?” Hugo says, wrinkling his nose.

The question makes him shrug. “Tired… like I’m sucking in all my muscles to stay together,” he whispers. “I don’t want to disappear again. I want to be real.” Colette feels his hand squeeze hers more tightly.

The signs of some burn out are there - he’s warm, his hair a little damp. His irises are the first sign each time his ability tries to push him back into ether, as they seem to lose color, then solidify again when he struggles to keep himself grounded.

Tasha’s hands cover her mouth when she hears that, her eyes filling with tears as she looks to Rhys with pleading eyes. ‘Help him’ isn’t said aloud, but demanded, implored with that look.

“You’re real, even when we can’t see you. Now that we know you’re here — no one can take that away,” she says a little more loudly, up the stairs.

To Rhys, under her breath, she murmurs, “Is there a way to negate him so he can rest without using Zodytrin?” He’s so small. But he’s exhausted and terrified.

“Not reliably,” Rhys says quietly, brows furrowed. “I have some in my car, if we want to go that route. But I’ve seen — heard of a couple cases where negation won’t help. Only way to know for sure is to try.” Rhys can only hope that Hugo’s situation isn’t anything like the fate that befell Eve Mas.

“Just hang on a little longer,” Colette says to Hugo up at the top of the stairs. “Try relaxing a little at a time, see how solid you feel. Don’t let go completely, just— ” she leans back enough to make sure he can look her in the eyes. “You ever rode a bike? It’s just like easing off the brake going downhill. Not all at once, just a little at a time. See how that goes.”

Watching this play out at the top of the stairs, Rhys affords a look over at Tasha. “I don’t think he has any family,” he says in the quietest of asides to her, so as to not be overheard. Rhys sounds pretty confident in that assessment. It only adds to the worry in his eyes.

Hugo nods to the question, his lower lids dipping in exhaustion as he leans against Colette. His forehead wrinkles with concentration and he feels lighter for a moment, eyes losing color before he pulls it back again. “Too much, a little less…” he murmurs more to himself than her. He takes a deep breath, then grits his teeth to try again, growing heavier, solid.

Looking up at Colette, Tasha mouths You’re doing good to her partner, giving her a nod of encouragement. She turns back to Rhys, dark eyes wet with sympathy for their orphan stowaway.

“He’s not dangerous I don’t think. I don’t know what he’s made of. Probably should test it at some point but not in the middle of the night when he’s terrified,” she murmurs, her voice as quiet as his.

“We’re probably better equipped to help him right now,” by we, Tasha means mostly Colette, a look of fierce admiration thrown to the other woman as she helps to wrangle the boy’s power, “than CPS for tonight. We can revisit things tomorrow, see what can be done to help him. If you need to make that official, I can call in to my connections over there, just so it’s on record.”

Tasha glances back up the stairs. “If Cole agrees, of course. And for long term…” she sighs, shaking her head. “It’s something to talk about but I’d rather it be someone we know rather than the system, or even…” she trails off, shaking her head.

“Let me check about tonight.” She lifts her phone to type a few words into their ongoing message thread, guessing the other woman probably has her phone on her.

Do we want to keep him tonight? Can’t stand thought of him going to CPS. He trusts us.

There’s a soft chime from Colette’s back pocket, and she shifts herself on the stairs just enough to tuck the phone out and check the message on the lock screen. She turns, looking back to Tasha with a firm nod, then returns her attention back to Hugo, quietly talking him through easing into relaxing.

Rhys nods, angling a look over to Tasha. “I’ll forward this up to Nicole,” he says. It’s helpful that Colette has contacts at SESA that go that high. “If you two’re comfortable with it, he can stay here tonight. I’ll run a background check on what I see in him and figure out if any of those living associations are relatives that would be looking for him.”

Rhys looks up the stairs to Hugo and Colette, then back to Tasha. “Are you gonna be okay?”

The weight in Colette’s arms seems, for the first time, to grow heavier, and she realizes in those few moments he’s fallen asleep, and somehow, even without that consciousness grounding him, he’s managed to hold on to his physical, flesh-and-blood form.

Quiet as he is now, she can take a moment to pay attention to the small details she hasn’t yet — the years-old grass stains on the faded knees of his jeans, the Spider-Man shirt with a tiny hole in the seam at the shoulder.

Tasha smiles, eyes full of love more than worry now, for Colette and her handling of the little boy. She looks back to Rhys, frowning at his words of relatives.

“If they were anything like his parents,” she whispers, her voice soft but her tone firm, “he’s better off without them.”

But the question he asks is answered with a nod. This time, her tone is softer. “We’re Ferry, remember? We can handle this. It’s what we do.” In the past. In the present. In the future that they were once shown.

Rhys’ smile is at once an understanding and conspiratorial one. He nods, looking from Tasha up to Colette at the top of the stairs and back again. “I’ll come back in the morning, probably with someone from SESA’s social services branch to talk to him.” Rhys’ attention levels back on Tasha. “After that, I guess we’ll play it by ear.”

At the top of the stairs, Colette slowly reclines back against the wall, one leg bent and the other stretched down the stairs. She keeps her arms firm around Hugo’s midsection, resting her head against the wall and exhaling a deep sigh out her nose. Her entire body slacks in relief and relaxation, even if there’s still so many unknowns to come. But at least for now she can rest easy knowing that the ghost that’s been following her for all these months isn’t a hallucination, isn’t an artifact in photographs, and isn’t the spirit of someone long dead.

It’s just someone who was lost and needed to find their way home.

Just like sailors lost at sea, looking for a light to guide the way.

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