Joss never admitted to anyone just how often he wished he was still on the road.

He'd been getting sick, he knew that. He hadn't been eating right or sleeping well and that way of life was... unsustainable. But was life now really any better? The food was, but he didn't give a shit about food really.

In the back of Kenzie's van he'd found something few people ever found: a love that crossed all boundaries, even death. And he'd discovered Teagan, and fallen half in love with her too. Those girls were forever entwined in his mind. Did he love Teagan, or was it Kenzie he was seeing? Joss lay away in his nest on the couch and contemplated this question, but he never got any closer to answering it than he had on the road.

... )
Teagan’s parents car rumbled down the highway, smooth enough as highways went, but to Teagan it was unbearable. The constant movement of the car made her feel sick, every slight bump threw the bile in her belly up her throat and she had to choke it back down. Her head ached; she thought she could ignore it to begin with, when they first started driving. Within the city limits of Liverpool the traffic was relatively slow, and the motion sickness wasn’t as bad. But out on the highway it was a nightmare. Sickness crawled up her body, clogged her brain, made her feel utterly miserable.

Being in her head without Kenzie was almost worse, though. As if every good aspect of Kenzie that Teagan shared had been torn out of her as well. All that power, that feeling she was something special, was gone, and had been replaced with grief, and hatred, and anger. She’d loved Kenzie, Kenzie was family, Kenzie was closer than her own sister, Kenzie was all the brightest bits of her, and Kenzie was gone. Not just dead, but gone.

Teagan had killed her.

... )
Teagan lay on the ground, her cheek pressed against the concrete, arm outstretched like she was reaching for Kenzie to come back. Kenzie was supposed to stay with her. Kenzie was supposed to protect her. There were too many ghosts in this city, too many had followed them here and she could feel them watching her or watching Kenzie.

Had Kenzie really killed Leon?

Had Kenzie really slashed open Merry’s arm?

Had Kenzie really shattered every window in the motel?

Had Kenzie really left her?

Was she, Teagan, dying?

... )
Joss had been almost asleep, his eyes closed, leaning against Leon as the sounds from the TV wound themselves into his half-dreams. Leon too had started to drift off, and Ellie and Geordie had gone to bed over an hour ago. Merry was the only one still properly awake, still feeling like she had to watch over them all, still too worried to relax, and she was curled on an armchair sipping peppermint tea, when all the lights went out.

Joss heard Teagan’s scream through his half asleep state, and jolted himself awake. Disorientation spun him for a moment till he saw Leon, recognised him even in the dark. Leon was there. Leon he thought, looking at his brother in the glow from the streetlights outside. Leon is here.

“JOSS!” Kenzie screamed from outside, her voice hoarse. “JOSS I NEED YOU!”

Too much, too close )
Grace had told her once that possessed people were dangerous.

They were unpredictable, and freakishly strong. Ghosts had no concept of how hard they could push a human body. Possessed people had been known to leap off buildings and survive, to be hit by a truck and walk away.

Teagan hadn’t considered herself possessed till now. She was just a girl, sharing her body with the soul of her cousin she was trying to save.

... )
In a couple of weeks, Joss would turn twenty, and he’d finally be older than Kenzie when she died.

Kenzie lay with Teagan, who was half asleep, thinking about this, her thoughts influencing Teagan’s dreams. Joss would grow up, Joss would continue to grow up, and so would Teagan. Did ghosts grow up, Kenzie wondered? Had Joy, the ghost inside her grandmother’s head, felt like she’d gotten older as Grace aged? Why was this something she’d never asked Grace?

... )
Geordie walked into Teagan’s room. She was lying on her back, watching the ceiling. “Hello,” he said, from the doorway. “My name’s Geordie.”

The girl moved her eyes to look over at him. She was still in her neck brace. “Are you Teagan? Or Kenzie?” he asked.

She moved her mouth. Her lip was split, it looked painful. “Both,” she said faintly.

... )
When mid-morning arrived in Liverpool, it bought Matt with it, pulling up in the hospital carpark on his bike. He'd driven all night, eager to get back into the action after two weeks of nothing major happening in Aberdeen.

There'd been some odd stories come out of Aberdeen in the last few years, and Matt had been up there a couple of times before to deal with things. There'd been a highland werewolf pack, really feral, about six years back that the Grenadiers had managed to get rid of, and of course there were the usual number of hauntings for a city that size and age. Still, the last fortnight he hadn't had much to do except catch up with his Scottish Anabella, which was not a hardship.

... )
Wrenched from sleep by a crash of thunder and a creature clawing at his leg, Joss hollered in surprise.

The world came into focus, out of the black of deep and dreamless sleep; Teagan’s face all pale as the moon. It was her hand, not that of some animal, on his leg, and the thunder was the dragging metal screech of the van door as she rolled it open.

“Wake up,” she gasped, her eyes wild and wide. “We have to go.”

... )
"'m not sure I can drive today," Joss said, clutching his coffee like an exhausted man clutching coffee. His head throbbed his brain throbbed and his eyes were burning dry. They were supposed to be heading up to Aberdeen today but all of Joss's sleep deprivation had caught up with him at once. He was seeing crawling things out of the corner of his eye and he wanted to punch them all.

They'd checked out of camp and were sitting in a cafe after a trip to the supermarket. He'd been fine up till now, till he stopped moving. (Okay, fine might have been an overstatement there...)

... )
While Teagan was at her appointment Joss trudged across the park to the public library. He hadn’t slept the night before; this time because Teagan was so worried about ghosts that he promised to stay up and guard her. There was nothing he could have done, and both of them knew it, but somehow it had helped.

Kenzie was awake too. They’d parked under the orange light in the camping ground which was too dark to read by, but light enough see the patterns Kenzie drew in the fog on the windows.

His life felt more like a dream every day.

... )
Teagan was getting a little worried about money. She had a little saved up from working at Mr A’s music shop, just like Joss had a little saved up for working at Mariposa’s, and neither of them paid loads of rent at home but there was still groceries and power and the rest. Still, before they left London, neither of them had been great savers. Joss spent a good chunk of his money on the pub and coffee and books and his motorbike and Teagan couldn’t stop buying CDs from work and gourmet sandwiches every day for lunch.

Now she had no income and her savings kept going down with every petrol station and every camping ground and every meal. And now she was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room jiggling her leg in nervousness and worrying that something was dreadfully wrong with her and how much was it going to cost to fix and she kind of wanted her mother and she was a bit scared.

... )
They’d paid for the night in the campsite but Teagan said there was absolutely no way she was going to sleep there tonight so Joss gave the rest of their milk to a young family then climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine.

Teagan was wearing Joss’s jacket, as if it was a layer of protection; someone else’s borrowed armour. But the truth turned out to be that Kenzie was a better suit of armour than any leather jacket; the ghosts that had been grabbing at her and crying for attention drew back when they noticed Kenzie behind Teagan’s eyes. Kenzie snarled at them to leave her cousin alone, and to greater or lesser extents they listened, and kept their distance.

... )
Joss still wasn’t sleeping much and this was a problem.

Teagan slept loads. Teagan was out for eight or nine hours at a time. Teagan was asleep every night, as well as the occasional nap during the day. There were nights Joss only got to sleep before dawn, and as soon as Teagan woke up she accidentally woke him up too. She couldn’t help it – they were sleeping in a van.

... )
A few days after Stonehenge, Kenzie had taken the driving seat in Teagan’s mind and was speaking to Joss. Teagan let her, practising the talent of keeping her mind quiet, her body relaxed, so that Kenzie could, for want of a better word, drive. It was a windy day in Bristol where they’d decided to stop for a while and check out the city. Today Joss had found a pirate tour of Blackbeard’s (supposed) early life, and they were following the piratically dressed guide around the town, holding hands at the back of the tour, and giggling to each other.

Teagan found it impossible to quiet her mind completely, though. She felt every move Kenzie made with her body, felt her feet hit the ground, felt the movement in her hips and her shoulders and the tension in her back and her stomach and felt the turn of her neck and heard the sounds of her own voice coming out – and every time Kenzie spoke Teagan felt the urge to close her mouth, not because of the things she was saying, but simply because she wasn’t used to her own voice coming out of her own mouth without her knowledge.

... )
Teagan woke with a startled shudder, her whole body flushed with warmth.

She did not move, taking a moment of stillness to settle in to where she was. In the van, yes, in the middle of the night, and in Cornwall, somewhere. Rain was pouring down the windows, and outside the van it was pitch black. She was curled into her sleeping bag, her face close to the wheel of the van, her back to Joss, who was reading to torchlight.

... )
They left in the summer, at the end of July.

They left London the day after Joss had slept with Teagan, who was also Kenzie. The day Flick and Matt had almost exorcised Kenzie for good (almost murdered her a second time). They left town after rushed and hungover packing at both of their houses, after a stop at the storage unit to take Kenzie’s van.

Teagan left her family without saying goodbye. She didn’t consider how long she might be gone, or how much damage her leaving might cause. So she didn’t leave a note. She didn’t respond to April’s text demanding what had happened in her bed the night before. Teagan winced at the memory, embarrassed. She did wish it hadn’t happened in April’s bed.
... )

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Darker London

October 2014

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