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in between

Chapter Text

Rosangela stopped typing and stared at the screen. She hadn't been paying to much attention to the last few paragraphs and could already tell that she would have to rewrite a lot of it – but she felt like she really needed a few answers.

"Why are you so afraid of talking to me, Joey?"

"Whatever do you mean, dollface?" He had been hovering in front of the window, staring outside. Now he was turning toward her, looking unfazed. It had been two weeks since they had defeated the deacon and send him on his merry way and Rosa still hadn' t quite accepted her new.. roommate. She got up to look at him properly. "I mean that, every time I try to get you to talk about yourself, my aunt, my grandmother or what your life with them was like I get a maximum of two sentences out of you before you insist on us hunting down another lead about whatever ghost we are trying to save on that particular day. And you never tell me about yourself, really. I don't know how or why you died, what you did when you were alive..." she trailed of as he had turned his side to her, floating from one side of the room to the other, avoiding her gaze.

"I don't know what you want from me kiddo, I've told ya plenty." he replied, but she could tell she'd struck a nerve. He held his head a little bit lower than usual and seemed a little distressed.

"You told me about aunti alright and that grandma refused to interact with you.. But if this is gonna be my life from now on, if we're gonna be… living together indefinitely, I want to get to know you Joey. I need to get to know you."

"Whatever the hell for?! It's just gonna be the same! We're gonna work together and I'll get even more attached and then something horrible will happen and I'll get to loose you and will have to latch onto a new host and have to care again just to lose that person to. It's always the same. Always." He stuffed his hands back into his pockets and floated refused to look at her, apparently embarrassed that she had gotten him to actually talk about it. She had tried to rattle him most days of the past to weeks, never gotten a proper answer, but today, he felt.. off. It was getting harder. He didn't want to get through that pain again, he didn't want to care only to be hurt again. When Laura had finally died he'd been so relieved. He felt guilty about it too – but how else was he supposed to feel after twenty-five years of watching her suffer? There hadn't been a ghost. Just the quiet exhalation of her last breath and she was gone. After an eternity in a horrible bleak, white, patted prison, both of them were finally set free.

More or less at least.

Rosa was staring at him. What was he supposed to do. Would she stop asking if he just went into a wall and stayed there for a while? She wouldn't be able to find him, he was sure. But that was childish. He wouldn't just behave like a pouty child, oh no, not him! He was Joey Mallone, not some stubborn little kid.

"Joey… being with my aunt all those years must have been hell for you. Probably more than for me."

"You're damn right it was hell!", he couldn't hold it in any longer. "I knew her kid! You barely remember her, I know, but she loved you kid and she wasted away! Wasted away because I couldn't protect her, because she made one lousy mistake and was targeted and then,-" Why did he still have to feel? He was dead, god damn it. Dead, dead and buried for over seventy years, if he couldn't move on, why couldn't he at least stop feeling things? How could he feel so angry and hollow at the same time with no body to produce adrenaline or any other body-produced drug?! "...then she died. After lying there 25 years. They would wake her sometimes, you know that now, and she would cry and scream, scream for me to help her but for some reason she couldn't even see me anymore. I tried reaching out to her so many times, tried to calm her or at least show her I was there, I hadn't abandoned her! But she couldn't… She couldn't sense me. She died thinking everyone had left her. That nobody cared anymore. Not even her lousy spirit-guide." He hung his head and sighed. A painful drawn out sigh, incredibly weary and deep for someone with no lungs. Rosangela looked at him and this time he met her gaze. "You happy now kid? Now you know something more."

He turned and went back to the window, staring at the rain.

Chapter Text

Rosa was walking through the snow, marinating in her misery. She had just escorted Kendra to the light. No ghost had ever been as easygoing as this one.

None so cheerful.

None so sad.


In the four years she had done this thankless job, she had never had to do this. Her back was rigid, the cold gnawed her. Somehow it had nothing to do with the harsh winter.
Lights flashed through the snow. She was walking along the street. Not a living being around.

Only ghosts.

She swallowed thickly, a choked sob escaping her. She wouldn’t allow herself to cry, not now, not out in the streets and in front of Joey (again). She could feel his presence several feet behind her. This couldn’t have been easy on him either. He had done all of the talking right until it was her turn to take her end of the tie. How many dead children did he have to see? If this was a movie there’d be some cliched dialogue about how it somehow gets easier with time or that a part always lingered or something.. Something about that couldn’t be true. She didn’t know what was fitting. Maybe she didn’t want to think about it. Didn’t want to know if the pain was going to go away. Sometimes feeling pain was the only thing you really needed. Not to get going, not to stay motivated or to be reminded of one or the other holy, or in this case, spiritual mission – you needed to feel hurt to not go insane.

“How many children have you saved?”

She didn’t know where the question came from. But she wished she hadn’t uttered it because as she spoke the words she knew she could hardly ask anything more cruel. She hadn’t turned around yet, but she felt that he had stopped, quite literally, dead in his tracks at her question.
She turned. He had his back to her, like he always did when he was upset. She wondered if he did it so she couldn’t see his face or so he didn’t have to see hers. He let out a long, ghostly sigh and looked at the sky.

“What I most envy about the living is their ability to sleep.”, he said. He looked at her, smiling sadly, than turned and started floating ahead of her again.

She followed slowly, thinking about it.
They walked in silence for a bit. It was a long walk to Lia’s house, after all. She wondered, why she’d wanted to know at all, yet considered pushing the issue.

“I saved nine. I encountered fourteen. Kendra included.” His voice was raspy. “And I know where you’re going with this. No, it doesn’t get easier. Yes, I remember each of their names and faces. Yes it hurts every time.. me, at least.”

Rosa looked at him surprised. “What do you mean?”

He sighed and looked towards the overcast sky. Old anger passing ghostly face as he began pacing the sidewalk from left to right. “It’s nothing, it’s just...stuff from long before. Forget about it.” He was tensing, his face scrunched into a grimace. She knew he was trying to swallow his anger, and yet,-

“It’s auntie, isn’t it? You always said she was tougher than I. Did she somehow neglect to,-”

“It wasn’t like that!” He looked at her, angry and hurt. “It wasn’t! It..” He closed his eyes and Rosa couldn’t help but smile. That sad little smile because she had always wanted to know more about her aunts past and her life with Joey, and in instances like these.. she couldn’t help but feel interested. But his pain made her questions seem oh, so very cruel. She nodded to herself. “I’m sorry. Forget I said anything.”

He stopped.

“It was mostly your grandmother, you know.” he looked at the ground. “I mean, sure...there was one kid with your aunt, but in the end she got taken care of and your aunt had a good reason to be somewhere else. And in the end.. you know. She hated not taking care of the kid. She just felt that sometimes, the Universe could exist with out her. Whatever. But no, it was Patricia..” He looked angry and bitter. “Four children Rosa. Four. Siblings. They had died together, across the street – across the freaking street, Red! Her neighbors children, slaughtered by their maniac of a father. And she couldn’t even get herself to acknowledge my existence for them. They didn’t know they were dead. She could hear them a lot. Running up and down the street, playing. Dead children. Playing in the street for weeks! People had a lot of accidents there and more ghosts started appearing and..well. Someone else had to pick up the tab. I don’t know what happened but one day they just kind of disappeared. One by one. It wasn’t another Bestower, I’m pretty sure about that. They were more likely eaten by..something or someone. Like Gavin or some other monster like that I suppose. So yeah. Some people are just.. cold.” He sighed. Turning his head slightly, he looked at her, searching, with one eye. “I envy your ability to sleep because it helps you put things behind you. I might forget them in a couple of centuries but that isn’t the same. It just isn’t.”

They walked the rest of the way in silence. Rosa wondered if ghosts could cry.

Chapter Text

"...I won‘ t become Madeline. Not if I‘ m a spook for a million years. I‘ ll be a good spirit guide, no matter how many hosts I see die.“
"No.. you won‘ t.“ Lightning erupted from her whole body, blinding him first, then engulfing him in blackness. A spark was lit in his core and spread through his body, unbelievable fast and painfully slow at the same time. Excitement like he hadn‘ t felt since he‘ d been alive, pain he‘ d never imagined – an overwhelming sadness. The spark contained any emotion he‘ d ever had, life and death and so much more.
Suddenly he felt cold on his face. The spark was gone. He was dizzy and got up slowly before he realized what had happened. He had legs again. He had a body, a life again! "!“ The surprise was killed when his eyes came into focus and he saw her lying in the snow. "Rosa? Sweetheart?“ He moved closer slowly. She was dead. He could tell immediately. He‘ d seen so many corpses. But it couldn‘ t be true, it couldn‘ t! Not now! Not her! Not after this! "Take my tie Red.. Red!“ His knees hit the snow hard as he grabbed her shoulders, shaking her. "Please wake up Rosa.. Please..“ There had to be something he could do.. It wasn‘ t fair that he got to live and she had to die..
He looked at his tie and remembered how they had defeated Madeline in the end. He had used his tie to infuse the circle and then used it on her. The tie looked like a normal tie now. His normal old tie he had made himself more than seventy years ago.. 'If this isn‘ t my essence..what is?‘ He swallowed an unmanly sob that threatened to escape his throat as he wrapped the tie around his hand like he had done earlier for much different purposes.
He could tell this wasn‘ t going to work. He knew it was hopeless as he touched her forehead with his tie-wrapped hand. White lightning erupted from his hands and enveloped her, encasing her in a muddish brown mold before releasing her again. Raggedly breathing and suddenly shivering in the cold. But alive. Alive! He stared at her for a moment before giving into his shear relief, hugging her tightly. She made a confused muffled sound and let go, slightly embarrassed. Now that everything was more or less okay and also weird and terrifying in the way that only life is, he was beginning to worry about the cops. How long would they stay knocked out? How much time had passed anyway? He had no idea how long it had actually taken for him to get back from the dead, but he knew that they should get away from here before the cops were back on their tail – not to mention that he didn‘t want red to get hypothermia. He started to shake her again, more gently this time. "Wake up sleepyhead, we need to get you away from here before.. before you turn into a popsicle.“ He swallowed hard. He had been about to say ‚before you freeze to death‘. She had only just died. The only person he had any connection left, his only friend had just died minutes before and..
He focused on his breathing. She was fine now. The universe should be gone from her head now. Right? Right?
She stirred slowly like waking from deep sleep. "Joey?“, she murmured confused, finally opening her eyes.
"I‘m here Red. Easy now.“ he helped her sit up in the snow as she stared at him confused. "Why.. Why am I..alive? I saw dad and..auntie… " she stared at him some more "...and wheres your hat?“
Joey chuckled. "I‘ve been wearing that thing for eighty-four years.. I don‘t need it anymore.“ he helped her up and they started walking back towards her apartment in silence.

Rosa caught herself staring at him in between. Everything inside her felt weird. Joey being beside her felt normal. But he didn‘t look normal anymore. Suddenly he wasn‘t blue and floating around anymore. He was a human now. If he didn‘t look so excited about leaving prints in the snow he would almost look normal.
Well, almost.
After all, he was still dressed in, what she could only assume where clothes from the 1930s. The suit looked well enough tailored, but still..odd. And he wasn‘t wearing his hat or the tie, which made him look even more strange.
They were crossing the bridge now and she couldn‘t help but stop and look out into the cold air. This was were it had all started. Here she had scattered her aunts ashes and first felt that echo of Joeys presence before meeting him soon after.
She felt very cold. It had started snowing again and suddenly the sadness came back to her. That brief time when she was dead, everything felt.. peaceful. She had saved all souls in the world, she had brought Joey back to life and she had started to move on. She could still remember that she had been with her parents and her aunt. She had been able to talk to them, actually really talk to them and it wasn‘t just her imagination, it had really been them.
But it was all fading now.
She was staring into the cool blue sky without actually seeing anything at at all. She was cold and sad.
A warm hand was placed on her shoulder and she turned around again. Joey was looking at her sincerely. "Let‘s go Red. Time to get you home.“
She smiled wearily. Maybe things would turn out okay. Somehow.