John hummed as he pushed his dinner into the oven. He had been trying to get back into the rhythms of everyday life after he had gotten involved with the Darkstars, he’d had to find another job working as an architect, and he’d needed to find some way to explain his sudden unexplainable return to health. Most of all, he’d needed to find some way to forget that his old partner had sacrificed his life to bring back the sun, while Batman still dragged his name through the mud.
Hal didn’t deserve that. Hal deserved some kind of peace.
John just wasn’t quite ready to look at his face yet. He’d had way too many pictures posted around his apartment, mostly picturing him being jumped and forced into a cuddle. Hal tended to wrap all of his limbs around you, and he always refused to let go.
John had ended up needing to put all of the pictures face down, just to avoid looking at something he would never get again.
Of course he knew that Hal had been chosen to become the next host of the Spectre, he’d heard it from Guy who had heard it from someone in the JLI who had probably heard it from someone in the main team, but Hal hadn’t exactly made any attempt to make contact with John since he’d taken on the role, and every attempt to get some closure by looking up Spectre sightings had made him feel worse by giving graphic details of Hal’s ‘punishment’.
Maybe it was just seeing someone he loved so utterly destroyed by the world that was the problem.
Maybe seeing Hal’s face reflected in the window was another massive problem.
John shot up straight, burning his fingers on the plate he’d pushed into the oven and letting out a sharp his of pain. He whirled around and found that he wasn’t imagining it, there really was a dead man in his kitchen.
Hal wasn’t wearing his green cloak, which meant that this probably wasn’t going to be Spectre summoning a moving truck in his kitchen as punishment for jaywalking earlier in the day, he was actually wearing a black polo shirt that looked unfairly hot on him, especially since as far as John knew, you couldn’t touch ghosts.
He got tackled against the counter only a moment later, Hal wrapping all of his limbs around him, it was a much colder hug than they’d ever had while he was alive.
John squeezed back, desperately, without thinking, he couldn’t even believe that he’d managed to get this again.
It wasn’t clear who kissed first, they were just suddenly in a mess of clacking teeth, painfully smushed together noses, and more tongue than anyone would know what to do with, John pulled back first, probably because Hal no longer needed to breathe.
His hands kept Hal’s face close so that he could watch his eyes, Hal looked a lot more tired than he had ever done before, like he had the weight of the world forced onto his shoulders.
“Stay here tonight,” John breathed, tugging him as close as possible.
“Hey, John?” For some reason Hal sounded sad, as if he remembered being the kind of person that would make this joke but wasn’t anything close to being that person anymore. “Do you think that if someone walked in on you being fucked by a ghost, they’d just see your asshole expanding and contracting and- mmph.”
John managed to get a hand over his mouth before he finished that sentence.
The next morning Hal woke up when John was still in the shower, he was a little upset that he didn’t wake up to being held close, but then no one would be willing to snuggle up to someone who felt like a block of ice.
So, he decided to head downstairs and make John some pancakes. Carol had complained about them, accused him of trying to poison her too, but he was sure that John would appreciate the gesture, if not the pancake mix smeared over his ceiling.
Hal’s hands brushed against a picture that was lying face down on the table though, and, never having learned that snooping was wrong, he flipped it up.
It was a picture of him.
John didn’t want to look at his face, which was hardly surprising, who would actually want to be reminded of a man who went crazy and tried to remake the universe in his own image.
He’d been stupid. Coming here had been a mistake.
Hal pulled his spectral green cloak around himself, leaving in a puff of smoke before John had even left the shower.