At first he thought he'd just taken a very long nap. He woke up at Ryan's house, a strange place to wake up surely but he's fallen asleep in stranger places. He stood up and brushed his jeans off. He couldn't remember the last couple of days very well, but he didn't think much of it. Just a little groggy from sleep is all. He walked the house, looking for his little friend. "Ryan! Ryan I'm up. I'm sorry I fell asleep here last night. We must have partied a little too hard or some-"
He found Ryan, sitting on his bed, hands clenched together, his chin resting on the resulting fist they made. He was wearing a suit. His eyes were red, and tears were streaming down his face. He took shuddering breaths, and he looked down as his phone started to ring. "He-hello?"
"Ryan what happened!" Shane sat beside him on the bed. "Ryan!" The bed didn't budge.
"I'm hanging in there." Ryan told whoever he was on the phone with. "It's going to be hard, Steven. I don't know how we'll do Watcher without him."
"Without who? What am I missing here?" Shane demanded to know. "Ryan this isn't funny."
"I'm staying strong, I promise. I'm going to miss him a lot. Hm? Oh the funeral. You're right, it was nice. I think he would have liked it..." Then he choked on a laugh. "No, no he would've hated it. He wanted... wanted to be fed to dogs or some shit. Just left in the street."
Shane felt a pit in his stomach. "I really really hope you're joking man."
"Yeah... Rest in peace, Shane. He'll be missed." Ryan's breathing was all kinds of uneven. "See ya Steven." And he hung up.
Shane just sat there, his stomach in a knot. This couldn't be true. No, no he refused to believe it. He watched Ryan get up and shrug off his suit jacket, then undo his tie. Shane got up and left the room. He paced along the living room floor, trying to put together what was happening. It couldn't be true. No, no it couldn't be. He refused.
On the third day, Shane remembered what happened. It took long enough, but he was happy to know. It was real, he realized. Being dead was real. He'd followed Ryan around for three days. His best friend was a mess, not going to work and taking time for himself to grieve. He ate a lot of fast food, McDonalds and Taco Bell specifically. Shane couldn't judge, but he did go. Followed him around and made sure he was okay.
"You know, this means you were right." Shane talked to Ryan. "Ghosts are real. I kinda wish I could've told you that when I was alive though. You'd be so happy about getting me to say it, and mean it." He watched Ryan shove down shoe string fries. "I hope you go back to work soon. You make good content, Ryan. The world needs content creators like you."
Ryan didn't say anything. He never did. Shane had been talking to him like this for days, even before he truly accepted he was dead. Ryan couldn't hear him, feel him, smell him or anything. He couldn't register Shane at all. Which, yeah. Shane should have seen coming. He tried to do ghostly things. Push things over, slam doors, make noise. Nothing worked. Part of him didn't want it to. He didn't want to put his friend through anymore anguish.
"Ryan you're drunk." Shane watched his friend set up a camera, doing a very bad job at it. He pulled down the Ouija board they used on Goatman's Bridge, and got his little spirit box. "You really don't want to do this, Ryan you just think you want to because you feel really bad right now. That's all! Don't do this, please."
Ryan turned on the camera. "Hey everyone! It's Ryan here! I noticed some of you have been asking, very insensitively, if I've preformed a seance to see if Shane is a ghost! Well you fuckers asked for it, so here it is!" He pointed the camera down at the Ouija board. "Hey ghosts! It's me, Ryan Bergara!" He shouted. "Come on, let's play!"
Shane paused, then sat down in front of the other side of the Ouija board. He put his hands on it, and focused all his strength. He moved the planchette, and he could hear Ryan suck in a sharp breath.
"Shane?" Ryan asked quietly. "Is it really you?"
Shane paused. 'B-E-A-R-S D-U-M-B.'
Ryan laughed, but it sounded broken up and sad. "Shane, you're... really a ghost? That's... that's a bit ironic, isn't it?"
"You're telling me." Shane smiled. 'G-H-O-S-T-S R-E-A-L. Y-O-U R-I-G-H-T'
"Can... Can I turn on the spirit box? Maybe we can talk a little bit? I really miss you Shane."
Shane moved the planchette to the yes section.
So Ryan turns on the spirit box, and both boys wince at the sound. "Shane...?"
"Hey Ryan, it's Shane." Shane spoke into the box, and he was amazed to hear it work. It never had before. Ryan nearly fell over. "I'm sorry I'm dead."
"I-it's not your fault." Ryan said. "Wow... Shane... Shane." He started to cry. "Shane I can't believe you're fucking dead. It, it was so sudden and tragic, and I had to go to your funeral, Shane! I had to go to y-your funeral and it was hard! It's hard..."
"I know, Ryan." Shane sighed. "I saw."
"You... saw?" He blinked. "How long have you been here?"
"About a week now, a little over. I don't know, time doesn't really have meaning when you don't eat or sleep." Shane scratched the back of his head. "I've been really worried about you. You don't seem to be handling this well."
"You fucking think?" Ryan snapped.
"Hey, hey easy with the 'tude. I just... I don't know why I'm stuck here, okay? I think... maybe my unfinished business is just, making sure you're okay. I don't want to be a ghost. Can you... promise me that you'll be okay?" He asked.
"If I say yes... will you move on?" Ryan asked.
"I think so. Just... please." Shane sighed. "Please promise me you'll take care of yourself, and of Watcher and Steven and all our friends. Please?"
Ryan paused, and he sighed. "Okay Shane... I-I promise..." He waited a moment. "Shane, are you there? Shane?" He asked. Then, he felt relieved. For the first time since his friend's death, he felt at peace. Ghosts were real. He got to talk to his friend, got to say goodbye in a way, got to make sure he was okay. He turned off the spirit box and then the camera. Everything... everything was going to be okay.
Shane watched his friend sleep, silent as a mouse. He lied, lied to Ryan about the unfinished business crap. But it had been worth it. Ryan was doing better, his relationships flourishing, and he was thriving.
Shane had been stuck by Ryan's side for two years now. Unable to talk, unable to do anything but watch.
And he didn't see that changing anytime soon.
The worst part? He couldn't even tell him he was there.