“You know that old farm outside the village?” Andy started, looking excitedly around his group of friends. “They say it’s haunted.”
Robert rolled his eyes.
“Shut up. It’s not haunted. It’s just some story people made up so idiots like you wouldn’t go hang around it.”
“It is.” Andy insisted. “A girl died there ages ago and her ghost still haunts the place. People have seen her and sometimes you can even hear her.”
“Andy don’t be so creepy.” Katie Addyman, Andy’s crush and sort of girlfriend told him.
They were on the bus home from school and Andy was trying to impress her by telling scary stories.
“I’m not. It’s the truth!”
“It’s you being full of shit.” Robert was bored of the show.
“No, it’s not. Aaron you live around here too, tell me I’m right.” Andy said and suddenly Robert was all ears.
He’d had a crush on Aaron for ages and when double maths had gotten cancelled a while back, he hadn’t been able to believe his luck when Aaron had agreed to go get some chips with him, and then kissed him behind the chippy.
Though because of their parents’ hatred of each other, his dad and Andy’s homophobia, and Andy’s big mouth, nobody but the two of them knew that they’d become more than just friends.
“I don’t know, mate.” Aaron shrugged. “I reckon Robert’s right and it’s just a story.”
Andy rolled his eyes.
“You’re just agreeing with him because you’re his mate.”
“No, I’m agreeing with him because he’s right. It’s just some old farm. I heard they’re going to tear it down and build cottages to rent out to tourists.”
“I heard that too. My dad mentioned something like that the other day.” Katie commented.
“See? Even your girlfriend agrees.”
The word girlfriend caused enough of a distraction that neither of them really noticed when Aaron moved seats to sit next to Robert and put one of his earbuds in his ear so they could listen to his music together.
They kept sneaking glances at each other and trying not to smile too brightly when they caught the other looking.
They never kissed or even held hands in public, but sometimes, on a crowded bus like today, when nobody was paying attention to them, Robert felt adventurous and put his hand on the seat between them, and waited for Aaron to do the same so they could link their pinkies together.
When he felt Aaron’s hand brush against his own he had to bite his lip to stop himself from smiling.
Almost a week passed without Andy mentioning the old farm again, and Robert had forgotten about it completely.
He and Aaron had been paired up together for a history project and he’d just spent a blissful afternoon kissing him under the guise of doing homework, until Andy suddenly walked into his room and sat down on his bed.
“I think we should go check out the old farm.”
“What? Who is we?” Robert held his phone against his chest, worried his brother might see his text thread with Aaron.
“You and me. Maybe Katie too. And Aaron if he’s up for it.”
“Right. And why would we do that?”
“Because it’s haunted!” Andy said like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “And we’re going to prove it.”
“We? I’m not going anywhere near that place. It’s been empty for years, it’s probably a death trap.”
“Oh come on Rob, don’t be boring. We could be famous if we can prove there’s a ghost there.”
Robert rolled his eyes.
“I don’t care. I’m not going to risk my neck pretending there’s something there other than maybe some birds or bats.” He decided. “Now get out of my room.”
“Fine.” Andy got up. “Just give me Aaron’s number then so I can ask him.”
“No.” Robert said right away. “Just drop it. Katie is dumb enough to go out with you without this stupid ghost story.”
“It’s not stupid.” Andy insisted. “And I’ll just ask Aaron at school tomorrow. You’re just afraid he’s going to realise he’s friends with the boring Sugden brother.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Just get out and leave me alone. I have homework.”
Andy narrowed his eyes.
“Since when do you care about school?”
“Since I need it to get out of this place and far away from you.”
Andy left, ignoring his brother’s demands to close the door on his way out.
Robert groaned, getting up to close it himself, and leaned against the closed door to text Aaron.
- Andy won’t shut up about Wylie’s. He still thinks it’s haunted and wants to go out and prove it.
Prove it? How?
- Don’t know. Guess he wants to go out there.
Do you think he knows? About us?
Robert thought about his boyfriend’s question for a moment.
- Probably not. He’s too dumb. But he’s going to ask you to join his little project at school tomorrow.
Let him. The only person I’m going to abandoned farms with is you.
Robert smiled. He and Aaron were very familiar with the old farm. Over the summer they’d discovered one of the barns was still mostly in one piece, and met up there often when they wanted to be together without having to worry about either of their families catching them.
It had become their spot and the last thing they wanted was Andy poking around there looking for non-existent ghosts.
A few days later, Robert lay in bed listening to his dad going through his night time routine and waited for him to go to bed himself and fall asleep. He checked the time on his phone and realised he was going to be late meeting Aaron.
Of course his dad would pick today of all days to go to bed later than usual.
His phone buzzed in his hand and he saw a text from Aaron.
I’m outside. Lights are still on?
- Dad is having a late night. I’ll be out as soon as I can.
Fifteen minutes passed until he finally heard his dad’s bedroom door open and close. He waited another fifteen to make sure the whole family was asleep before carefully opening his bedroom door and making his way downstairs.
He tiptoed through the house with his shoes in one hand and his phone in the other until he reached the back door, where he slipped on his jacket.
He slowly opened the door and the cold October night hit him and made him shiver.
He stepped outside and closed the door behind him and walked over to his bike where he knew Aaron would be waiting behind the bushes.
“Finally.” Aaron said when Robert had reached him and sat down on an overturned bucket to put his shoes on.
“I know.” Robert sighed. “He usually goes to bed way earlier than this. I don’t know why he didn’t now.”
“Do you think he knows?”
“No. That would mean he actually cares about me or pays attention to me.” He finished tying his shoes and got up. “Hey.” He quickly glanced around before pressing a chaste kiss to Aaron’s lips. “Missed you.”
“You saw me at school today.” Aaron pointed out with an amused smile on his face.
“I know. But it’s not the same when I can’t do this whenever I like.” Robert grinned and kissed Aaron again. “I think we should work on our history project again tomorrow.”
“We should probably actually work on it though.” Aaron reasoned. “It’s due the 25th.”
Robert shrugged as he unlocked his bike.
“That’s ages away. We’ll be fine.”
They walked over to the back wall of the Sugden farmyard and first Aaron climbed over it, taking Robert’s bike from him, before Robert himself climbed over. After almost getting caught in the summer because of the old and noisy gate, they’d found this new, quieter, way off the farm, and hoped Jack wouldn’t notice the broken wall and fix it.
“I managed to get away this afternoon and drop some supplies off at the barn.” Aaron said when they were far enough away to speak without being heard.
“Supplies? What kind of supplies? Food?”
“No not food. I can’t leave food out there all afternoon, it would get eaten by animals in five minutes flat.” Aaron told him, resisting the urge to call him an idiot. “I just… managed to nick a few beers… and blankets.”
Robert stopped to look at his boyfriend.
“Yeah… I just… figured it would be more comfortable… than the hay… and we wouldn’t be picking hay off our clothes… after…”
“Are you going to repeat everything I say now?”
“No. I mean… you want to… tonight?”
“I don’t know… Maybe. If you want to.” Aaron replied, looking anywhere but his boyfriend’s face. “We don’t have to if you don’t…”
“No. Yes. I mean… I.. I do. Want to.” Robert stammered, suddenly nervous.
They awkwardly moved their bikes closer together and leaned in for a quick kiss.
“Let’s go then.”
They made it to the old farm faster than they ever had before and dumped their bikes in the usual spot, hidden from sight from the main road, but close enough to the barn to make a quick escape if they needed to.
Robert felt giddy with nervous energy as he followed Aaron into the barn.
“I put the beers in a cooler but it’s been cold enough I suppose…” Aaron trailed off, using the light from his phone to find his secret stash. “It’s the good stuff, not the cheap crap from the shop.” He took two bottles out of the cooler and proudly showed Robert the bottle opener he’d brought. “I came prepared.” He uncapped the bottles and handed one to Robert.
“So I see.” Robert replied, looking at the blankets spread out on the hay not far from where Aaron had hid the beer.
“We don’t have to…”
“No, I want to… I’m just… a little nervous I guess.”
“Yeah… me too.”
They settled down on the blankets and finished their drinks.
Robert took a deep breath and decided to make the first move. He moved closer to Aaron and pressed a kiss to his lips.
They kissed for a while until Aaron lay back on the blanket and pulled Robert down with him. Robert smiled and slowly lowered the zipper on Aaron’s jacket, putting his hand on his chest and slowly moving it down to the hem of his shirt and slipping it underneath.
“Is this ok?” he asked as he softly stroked Aaron’s side with his thumb.
Aaron nodded and leaned in for another kiss.
As they kissed, Robert got more adventurous and started pushing and pulling at Aaron’s jacket until he took it off.
“You too.” Aaron said breathlessly and Robert quickly took off his jacket and went back to kissing his boyfriend.
It wasn’t long before both of them were feeling more confident and hands started disappearing under clothes and wandering over warm skin.
Suddenly they heard noises of stuff falling over and someone stumbling and they jumped apart.
“What was that?” Robert hissed.
“How should I know?” Aaron replied. “Maybe some drunk idiot who got lost on the way home from the pub?”
“Maybe. Should we get out of here?”
“I don’t really want to go home… Maybe they’ll go away.”
“Yeah.” Robert agreed and reached over to turn off the little battery powered camping light Aaron had brought along with the blankets.
They held their breath as they listened for more noises from whoever was out there.
“I think I hear footsteps coming closer.” Aaron whispered.
Robert nodded and put his jacket back on, suddenly cold.
“Maybe we should hide… aren’t we trespassing?”
“I don’t know… I don’t think this place belongs to anyone?”
“Let’s not risk it. I don’t want to have to explain to my dad why I was arrested with you in an old barn in the middle of the night.” Robert said and started to get up when the barn door opened.
They both froze in shock, not sure what to do or where to hide as the person pushed the old door open far enough to come in.
They used the light from their phone to see where they were going and Robert reached out for Aaron’s hand as they watched the light beam come closer.
The person stumbled again and dropped their phone.
“Ow shit.” The person said and Robert did a double take when he saw their face lit up by the phone light as they picked it up.
“Andy? What the hell are you doing here?!”
Andy shone his phone in their direction.
“Me? What are you two doing here? Are you trying to find the ghost too? And steal my idea?”
“Your idea? What idea?” Aaron asked.
“I’ve been telling you both about it for weeks! I’m going to catch the ghost on camera and become famous. And you kept telling me to forget it because you wanted the fame for yourselves, didn’t you?”
“What? No. That’s not why we’re here at all.”
“Don’t try to deny it!” Andy said. “I caught you!”
“Oh my god Andy don’t be so stupid!” Robert sighed. “There are no ghosts here, you idiot.”
“How do you know? Are you an expert all of a sudden?”
“We’ve been coming to this place for months.” Robert looked at Aaron for permission. “To be together. We were making out on these blankets when you came crashing through that door!”
“We’re together you idiot. Aaron is my boyfriend. We’re dating. Have been for months.”
Andy looked back and forth between them.
“What? But… you’re not gay… are you?”
“I am…” Aaron admitted quietly.
“And I… like both I suppose.” Robert told him.
“So now you know. No ghosts. Just the two of us.”
“Right.” Andy said again. “I uh… I guess I’ll just… go… leave you to it…”
“Forget it.” Robert sighed. “Let’s just go home. You ruined the mood anyway.”
They put their jackets back on, picked up their bikes and made their way back to the village. None of them saying a word until they reached the broken wall of the Sugden farm.
“Sorry for tonight…” Robert said, turning to Aaron after he helped both brothers lift their bikes over the wall.
“It’s ok. Not your fault.”
“Still… another time, yeah?”
“Yeah? If you still want to?”
“Yeah. I still want to.” Robert told him. “I want to even more now.”
Aaron bit his lip to stop himself from smiling.
“Yeah. Me too.”
Robert leaned in for a quick kiss before climbing over the wall.
“Text me when you get home ok?”
“I will.” Aaron promised and left.
“So… you and Aaron?”
“Yes Andy, me and Aaron.” Robert said, annoyed. “And if you tell anyone about this I will murder you in you sleep. And that’s a promise.”