Each year since 2004 I've had a story to share for Halloween, because it's a significant date for me. This year is no exceptions, although I'm posting a little early because circumstances will prevent me from getting online on the day, and I'm determined not to skip.

This year's tale is a Tawnholme story, which means it's a contemporary, roughly 'real world', story set in a fictional UK town, and I think it's a little smoky and a lot sweet - a good pair to 2007's Favour, in fact. Many thanks to Pen for last minute editing services; any remaining mistakes are entirely my own fault, especially as I've worked on this since she saw it last.

Here Comes The Rain, by Alex Draven

He was tired, he was stressed, he was soaked to the skin, and when he saw something taped to the door of his room, his first thought was that his rent cheque must have bounced and the guys were kicking him out.

Overall, Miles was not in the best of moods, and grimly, desperately, certain that this wasn't how things were supposed to be. The ghost of a voice whining 'I'm not even supposed to be here today!' floated through his mind as he pulled the folded sheet of paper off his door.

It wasn't an eviction notice.

It was an invitation.

Miles shared a run-down ex-Vicarage with, at the last count, one silversmith, one artist, one DJ, three guys who were trying to make it in various bands, and Matt, who mostly seemed to write gig reviews for fanzines and paid his rent by playing computer games during every other waking moment. Almost all of them had at least one additional creative sideline, as well as a shifting collection of day jobs. Invitations to their various gigs, exhibitions, showcases, and launches were fairly common currency, but never failed to remind Miles of exactly how much he didn't contribute to the bohemian stock-pot, except maybe allowing them to tick 'bisexual bloke' off their rainbow house checklist.

Miles had a regular job—the kind with commission targets and human resources training, and a manager who expected him to show up, on time, for every shift on his schedule, and not disappear on tour or up his own arse on some kind of creative quest.

Miles kind of hated his job, but he liked being able to pay his rent, so he put in the hours, and tried not to suck, and not to think about the fact that he was twenty-seven and his entire life appeared to consist of working split-shifts driving car loads of charity muggers to their destinations through universally shitty traffic and then cold-calling charities to try and sell them charity mugging services, then coming back to a messy shared house that he could barely afford, where he could decide between eating off his lap watching tv sitting on the end of his bed, or sitting in the kitchen hearing about other people's sexual and creative successes as a counterpoint to his not having any.

He crumpled up the invitation without really reading it, and lifted his bedroom door on its hinges so he could get the lock open.

This was so not the plan.

His whole fucking life was not the plan.

It wasn't supposed to work out like this.

That litany kept going through his head while he stripped off his wet clothes and took an indulgent shower, standing under the steaming water until the little gas boiler in the kitchen couldn't keep up and it ran cold. Everyone seemed to be out, so it wasn't like he was causing anyone else a problem, and he felt that he deserved some kind of treat.

The long, hot shower helped a little. Warm, dry, and dressed in worn jeans and a soft, aged hoodie, physically he felt more human, but his head was still bleak, like the cold grey rain throwing itself at the windows.

He was flipping through his music collection, unable to settle on something to listen to, when someone knocked on his door.

"Who is it?" he yelled, without getting up.

"Becks," came the reply, and then the door opened a crack.

"Oh, hey. I didn't know anyone else was in." Miles turned sideways on the kitchen chair that served as his desk seating. "Crap—I didn't stop you getting a shower did I?"

Becks tilted her head and looked at him like he was an alien. "What? No—I just got finished with a piece in the studio, and noticed the time."

Becks was their silversmith, who had the smallest bedroom, up in the attic, in exchange for having the use of the brick-built shed in the garden as her studio space. She was few years older than him, short and curvy with choppy pixie-cut hair, and a pick-up streak that made it hard to believe the stereotypes about lesbians and domesticity.

"The time?"

"Kicks' gig? I know he left you an invite."

"Oh, God, was that what that was. Um, yeah. I'm not really in the mood for guitar solos..."

Becks scowled. "Jesus, Miles. Do you ever listen? He's been talking about this stand up gig for the last couple of weeks, and the fact it's at a comedy club might also give you a clue. This is a big fucking deal for him."

"Stand up? Kicks is doing stand up?"

"Earth to Miles—yes. And he really wants some friends there for moral support. Are you actually doing something tonight, or are you going to put your boots on so we can get going and hopefully make it in time for his set?"

Guilt trip duly applied, Miles reached for his boots.

*****

The comedy club was small, but not as weird as Miles had anticipated. More like the sort of room-above-a-pub he was used to from his housemates' various gigs, exhibitions and launches. He probably wouldn't have found the pub without Becks, but the buses played nice, and she knew where they were going, so they pelted up the stairs a few minutes before the stage time Kicks had helpfully noted on the invitations.

Alongside all the other information Miles hadn't really taken in, like the fact that it was a benefit gig with a 'suggested donation' which no guest list was going to get him out of. He hadn't noticed the line about 'costumes encouraged', either. Apparently this wasn't just a random stand up show at the end of October, it was a Halloween Zombie Revue.

Miles mood took another dive back towards bleak. How had he missed that? He loved Halloween. He used to mess around with SFX makeup and monster masks all the time, helping the film studies folks shoot videos, and the theatre crews with stage paint, and here he was, at the closest thing he was probably going to get to a Halloween party this year, in his oldest jeans, a faded hoodie under his soaked army-surplus jacket, and not even a nod towards a costume. Yet another missed opportunity, and yet another evening spent feeling out of place and under-dressed on the sidelines of his housemates' lives.

Still, Becks was standing right next to him, and they'd pelted across town in the pouring rain to be here for Kicks, so—no bail out option available. Miles mustered a weak smile for the faintly familiar lass on the door as he dug his wallet out and handed over a soggy ten pound note.

Inside, the room wasn't packed, but wasn't so empty that their arrival was obvious. The rainbow house and associated friends had staked out a couple of tables in the far corner—Pete spotted them and stood up to wave them over. The group were a riot of colour and costumes, from Phil's 'Zombie Hunter Chap's Chap', complete with monocle and cricket bat, to Fee's subtly creepy zombie drag. Becks sank into the last remaining free seat, surrounded by hugs and laughter, while Miles hung back, taking the excuse of getting a drink to cover up how out of place he felt.

The show was, predictably enough, running late, so Miles got his beer, and found a spot to stand, leaning against a pillar just behind the house's tables. He was pretty sure that 'zombie ukelele' wasn't a musical style that was ever going to hit the charts, but the act on stage did have a certain amount of style, and finished with a Jonathan Coulton cover that had the audience clapping along and joining in the chorus, so at least Kicks wasn't going to go on in front of a totally cold audience.

Kicks had played in at least three bands just in the time Miles had been sharing a house with him, and had never been noticeably troubled by stage fright, but Miles still wasn't sure how much of the greenish tinge to his skin was make up when the lights dropped once more and the spots settled on Kicks. Miles could well believe that stand-up would feel different from being on stage with a bunch of mates with an electric guitar to hide behind.

Miles bit his lip as Kicks' opening lines fell flat, delivered in a sort of Marvin the Paranoid Android-esq monotone and earning polite smiles rather than laughter.

Fortunately, the next stanza of his in-character monologue moved on to how hard it is to get a date when you're not only gay but undead, and someone—maybe the barman—called out 'Oh, I still would', and Phil yelled back 'Necro!",and, on stage, Kicks glumly said "You see?" and the whole exchange had the rest of the room in stitches, and somehow on Kicks' side. Miles found himself chuckling a time or two himself, and Kicks' slot went by in a flash, and he was able to applaud and holler 'bravo' honestly, which was a relief in and of itself.

The next act was a pair of burlesque zombie strippers. Miles was torn between genuine admiration for their creativity and embarrassment that their make-up and prosthesis just weren't a match for their flexibility. He could see, absolutely, what they were going for—a riff off that Robbie Williams video as the guy zombie's striptease extended to tearing chunks of fake pectoral muscle off his chest, and a literal take on that Tom Lehrer song which required a fake hand—but the props were just lame.

Clearly Miles' libido had been beaten to death by his miserable work routine, because there he was, with a pair of beautiful dancers mostly naked on stage not twenty feet away, and all he could think about was how he could have done a better job on the detachable hand in his sleep.

He was contemplating just how extremely depressing that was when Kicks appeared out from wherever 'backstage' was, and his path towards the house corner took him straight past Miles.

"Hey, dude—good show!" Miles clapped Kicks on the shoulder, and got a slightly dazed grin in return.

"Are you just being nice?"

"Yeah, because I'm always so nice—I mean it. That was cool."

"Could you tell I was bricking it?"

"Nah—you did good. Do the band need to worry you're going to switch careers?"

"Shut up! But you enjoyed it right?"

"Yeah, I'm glad I made it. Get you a drink to celebrate your debut?"

"Oh, man—lifesaver. Pint of Pride?"

"Coming up."

He sent Kicks on towards the table with another pat on the back, and headed back to the bar himself. This unplanned night out was going to kill his budget for the week, but as he was here, he might as well do it right, and he'd had enough drinks out of Kicks' band's rider in the past.

A surge of applause and catcalls said that the zombie skin show was done, and the background music faded up, so Miles assumed the show had reached the intermission. The crowd at the bar suggested the same thing, so he joined the scrum of bodies and prepared for a wait, as it was still just the one barman on.

He'd kind of tuned out the fact that there were people all around touching him, focusing on catching the barman's eye and keeping track of who was getting served and who was next, so it took a moment for him to realise that the hand on his shoulder was specifically on his shoulder.

"Hi," Miles was greeted by a stunning smile when he finally looked around. He didn't recognise the guy flashing it though.

"Um, hi?"

"I know this is a bit cheeky, but you couldn't get me a glass of water when you get served, could you?"

"Um, I guess. Are you ok?"

"Just not so good with crowds. I'll be—over there. Is that ok?" The guy was looking at Miles with wide, slightly desperate, eyes framed in eyeliner, and just a hint of scarlet eyeshadow—enough to suggest recent un-death, rather than a campy costume.

"Sure, yeah. Just water?"

"Thank you. Thanks."

The guy let the press of bodies push him away, and Miles watched him go. The guy was short, slight, and impeccably dressed, with shoulder length hair curling against the collar of a sharp military jacket. Pretty. Beautiful. Slightly weird, but…

"Hey! I said, what can I get you?" The barman snapped Miles back to reality.

"Oh, crap, sorry. Two pints of Pride, and a glass of water, please."

He fished out his wallet, and handed over his last tenner for the beer. Pocketing the change was a challenge in the crowd still waiting for the bar, but necessary so he could have both hands free to gather up the trio of glasses.

Holding the drinks up high, Miles twisted his way free, and then looked between the rowdy crowd around Kicks, and the quiet corner where his mystery water fan was leaning against the wall.

It took a certain amount of effort to elbow his way close enough to a table to put down the drinks and separate out Kicks' pint, which was received with an absent 'thanks' mid-way though a sentence in Kicks' high-energy deconstruction of his performance. It was significantly easier to fall back, letting the house crowd back in, and go to deliver the water.

"Thank you!" The guy's greeting seemed heartfelt. "I am parched, but—" he shuddered visibly. "Yeah—not good with crowds. Hi, I'm Aiden."

There was a little juggling, so they were holding one glass apiece and then a slightly awkward moment where Miles didn't quite know if he was supposed to shake hands or what, until Aiden seized his spare hand and gave it a warm squeeze.

"I'm, um, Miles. So—what brings a solitude-preferring officer like you to a dive like this?"

Miles had to bend down and lean in a little to be heard over the Monster Mash on the PA, and he winced at the sound of his own cheesy attempts at small talk.

"You noticed the jacket, then? One of the good things about being a shrimp—being able to find vintage stuff that fits. The tailoring on something like this—you just don't get that kind of detail on a modern piece." Aiden frowned suddenly. "But I should have just said 'thank you', shouldn't I? Sorry. I'm moral support tonight. Didn't really get a choice about coming out."

Miles found himself smiling. "Yeah—who are you the cheering section for?"

"The burlesque pair—the last act? I kind of helped them out with the music. What did you think?"

"I... really liked the idea. That Lehrer song is such a classic—and a perfect fit for tonight!"

"I wasn't sure how many people would recognise it! Points to you." Aiden's smile was back at a thousand watts, creasing his eyes, and making Miles want to do whatever it would take to keep it there. The guy really did have the most expressive face. "Although—" Aiden's smile faded. "You liked the idea—that means something about the execution didn't do it for you, right?"

"I was just—the effects didn't really live up to the idea." Miles tried not to wince at his own faux-pas, and tried to blunder through and out the other side. "I mean—they're gorgeous, both of them, and they obviously know what they're doing, and like I said, the idea is perfect for tonight, but—the hand? Really? And when he was tearing his chest open to give her his heart, I probably wasn't supposed to be thinking that the pectoral pieces looked like freezer bags, and the texture of the fake blood was all wrong. But, you know, that's just me. I'm a stupid geek for stuff like that. I bet no one else even gave that a thought..." he trailed off, and took a hasty gulp of his beer to give himself something—anything—to focus on apart from the fact he was dissing the cute guy's friends' performance to the guy's face. Way to make a positive impression.

"Oh man, where were you three weeks ago when I was trying to get Mike to listen to me saying that exact same thing about the blood! Way too liquid, right?"

Miles choked on his drink. "Seriously?"

"Seriously, although it's not like I could do any better. I sent him a bunch of recipes from the internet, but I've never actually made any of them, so who knows if they would have been an improvement. I should try some, though. I was thinking of doing the vampire thing for Cal's Halloween bash, and having little blood packs to burst on people's necks as I bite—that would be so cool, don't you think?"

Miles was so distracted by the idea of Aiden pulling him down and biting into the side of his neck that he almost missed his cue.

"No—yes. Really cool. I did something a bit like that for a friend's video once—shot packs rather than bites, but same idea. It would be a neat way of upping the ante on a vampire costume, for sure, although you'd have to be sure your victims were up for it. That stuff is sticky, kind of messy."

"You've been to Cal's parties, right? People would be up for it."

"Um, actually—I don't think I know Cal." Yup, suave and debonair and a social butterfly, that was him.

Aiden crinkled his nose. "Huh—I thought everyone knew Cal. You're with Dave and Kicks and that lot, right? And they didn't invite you? Dicks!"

"We're just, you know, housemates. I don't know them super-well." Miles had the automatic urge to defend Kicks, at least, even if not bothering to pass on an invitation to an open party on Halloween was kind of a dick move—if you were mates with someone, which he kind of had always thought he and Kicks were.

"Still—unless. Are you already doing something? Because I would totally invite you. Hell—if you could help me figure out how to do the blood packs thing before Halloween, I'll invite you to the party as my special guest, and bring a bottle of whatever you want with your name on it."

"Yeah?" Miles found himself smiling.

"Hell, yeah."

"Deal!"

Aiden stuck his hand out, and they shook hands again, Aiden's hand warm and dry against his palm, a point of connection suddenly filled with all kinds of possibility. "So, that means I get your number, right? So we can sort out meeting up, and what I need to do? And also because I kind of want your number, which I know isn't the sort of thing you're supposed to say, but—I really think things go better if you don't play games with people, and just say what you—I'm babbling again, aren't I?"

Miles could feel his grin stretching his cheeks, and didn't let go of Aiden's hand. "Yeah, but I like that. I kind of suck at knowing what people are thinking if they don't tell me. Plus I like what you're thinking."

Aiden's answering smile was perfect, and then he lifted Miles' hand and pressed a kiss to the back of it, which was even better. A little weird, but charming and romantic, and, honestly, Miles had been off balance ever since Aiden had grabbed his arm in the scrum around the bar, but unexpected chaos seemed to be leading to good things, so he was going to go with it.

Miles twisted their hands together, and gave Aiden a bow and a matching kiss to the back of his fine-boned hand. It ought to have felt awkward and ridiculous, especially given how he was dressed, but the way it make Aiden's cheeks flush under his make-up, and made him bite his lip and look away for a moment, Miles didn't feel ridiculous.

So, of course, that was when someone clouted him on the back, and yelled "Aiden! Long time, no see!" in his ear, and generally ruined the moment.

"Dave. Hi." Miles couldn't keep the sharpness out of his voice as he recognised the guy hugging Aiden enthusiastically. Dave was one of Kicks' current band mates, and his relationship with Miles had never really recovered from Dave trying to drunkenly tell Miles that bisexuals were inherently untrustworthy, under the mistaken impression that Miles was one of the minority straight guys at the house's New Year party. Kicks had made Dave apologise the next day, but he hadn't ever been one of Miles' favourite people, and the current invasion wasn't helping.

"Hey, man. I didn't expect to see you out." Dave looked him over vaguely, and then turned back to Aiden, and bent over to whisper something in Aiden's ear. Whatever it was, Aiden didn't seem happy to hear it. He looked patient at first, then irritated, then twisted away from Dave's hand on his shoulder.

"Yeah, okay Dave. That's—your opinion."

"I'm just sayin'!" Dave protested.

"Yeah, I heard you."

Dave finally seemed to realise he wasn't going to get the reaction he was evidently looking for, and backed up, hands raised to placate the irate Aiden, who looked about ready to deck the guy.

"Well, then, yeah, I'll, um..." Dave trailed off, and made his way back into the crowd. Aiden glared after him.

"Are you ok?" Miles asked.

Aiden shook his head, and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry—would you mind if we went outside for a bit? I could use some air."

"Sure, of course. Do you want company? Or should I..."

Aiden grabbed his hand and squeezed. "Your company, yes."

They threaded themselves between the crowd around the bar and the crowd around the stage without Aiden letting go of Miles' hand, until the narrow stairs made it essential to part. Outside the pub, Aiden walked a few yards down the pavement, away from the cluster of smokers getting their fix around the door, and then turned. He had that slightly desperate look in his eyes again, and despite the fact he had his arms tightly crossed over his chest, Miles could see he was breathing fast.

"Dude, what did he say? Because—you don't look okay."

Aiden's smile was tight and brittle. "Don't worry—I'm just not good with crowds, so any little thing … shit." He bit his lip. "Sorry. This isn't how I wanted this to go."

"It's okay—I mean, it's okay by me. You needed to get out of the crowd, so we're out." Miles shrugged. "It's stopped raining, I already did my supportive friend duty, and you were the only person up there I wanted to be talking to anyway."

"Yeah?" Aiden's expression was hopeful and pleased and slightly less tense.

"To quote a phrase, hell yeah!" That made Aiden smile, more like he actually meant it. Miles held out his hand, and Aiden took it once more.

"I don't suppose I could persuade you to go for a walk with me, could I? I get kind of—edgy. With the crowds and that. Walking helps, and—we can walk and talk, right?"

"Absolutely." Miles squeezed Aiden's hand gently. "Do you know this area, or should we just see where the street takes us?"

"I know what's down that way." Aiden gestured back towards the pub. "So let's go this way instead."

They didn't do much talking at first. Aiden seemed to be focused inwards, and Miles was noticing how it felt to walk hand in hand, find a match for Aiden's shorter stride, keep an eye out for anyone who might give them trouble. It wasn't that late, but the residential side streets were quiet—curtain-coloured squares of light where people were at home, watching tv, or having dinner, or playing with their kids. It looked like the kind of place where families with kids would live—little gardens, and doors with only one doorbell, and cars parked in a double row up and down the street.

They walked around three sides of a block, then wordlessly turned left instead of right to avoid going back past the pub. They saw one woman walking her dog, who was too busy trying to keep her enthusiastic lab from towing her down the pavement to pay them any attention at all, and an older gentleman locking up his car, who just plain ignored them. Every now and again Aiden would squeeze his hand, and look up at him, and then away.

At the end of the next partial loop, with the brighter lights and busier traffic of the main road just a few yards ahead of them, Aiden slowed to a halt, and used Miles' hand to guide him over to the pavement's edge, where they could lean, side by side, against a damp garden wall. Miles could feel the damp soaking into his jeans, but didn't really care that much. Not when Aiden was right there, still holding his hand.

He couldn't actually remember the last time he'd had this much skin-on-skin contact with someone he wasn't sleeping with. It had been months since his last hook up, longer since his last girlfriend, and longer since since he'd had a relationship with a guy. Walking the wet streets hand in hand felt more boyfriend than anything else. Not that he wouldn't have done that, and more, for the chance of a hook up with Aiden, but that wasn't the vibe he was getting.

They didn't make out. They could have, probably. There were enough hedges and shadows to hide them from the traffic on the main road, and no sign of passers-by on their side street, but they didn't.

Instead Aiden asked him questions: how he ended up sharing a house with Kicks, what he did with his time, how he'd gotten into monsters and why he'd stopped doing it, the brief outlines of a relationship history—and here Miles braced himself, because not everyone reacted well to the mix of girlfriends and boyfriends on the list, but Aiden just nodded and bit his lip, and said 'yeah, well, some people are idiots'. He asked about Miles' family, what sort of music he liked, what he'd do if he won the Lottery.

Miles talked more openly and honestly than he could remember doing with anyone. Aiden answered Miles' questions too, usually with rambling explanations, stemmed with a 'but I want to know about you, so' and another question. The whole time there were little touches, hand to hand, shoulder to shoulder, and it was good.

Then Miles forgot himself, reached out and tucked a length of Aiden's hair gently back behind his ear. Aiden froze, and then reached up to mirror the gesture, stroking one chilled finger across Miles' cheekbone, up, behind his ear. Miles leant into the touch, and then somehow they were kissing, soft, and gentle, chaste and closed-mouth, for just a breath or two before Aiden pulled back.

"I so have a rule not to do that with people I've just met, but—you might actually be irresistible. And we already have plans, sort of, so—yeah. But we should stop now, even if I really don't want to, because I do want to call you tomorrow, and I don't think I can deal with it being all weird because I'm mad at myself for breaking a rule. God, I hope that's ok. Not too weird?"

Miles blinked, trying to clear his mind. "So, no making out on a first date, but you want a second date?" he summarised.

"Well, not before the first date, if you see what I mean, but yes. If you still want to—"

"I want to!" Miles rushed to reassure. "Really want to, and, um, I kind of want to be worth a second date, too, so—yeah." He stopped talking, with no idea what to say.

Aiden's fingers wrapped around his. "Cool. So we should probably do the numbers thing, right?"

"Yeah—I want to be able to call you—for you to call me. Whichever way."

"It's all good," Aiden assured him, and then had to take his hand back in order to extract his phone from its pocket inside his ornate jacket. "Except, I can never remember my own number. You tell me yours and I'll call you so you have it, yeah?"

"Sure," Miles agreed easily, and rattled off his mobile number. "You want my email address too?"

"I'm not really online much, to be honest. I'm better talking than typing. Here, this is me."

Miles' phone buzzed in his jeans pocket. He fished it out, and saved the number. "Aiden Officer," he said slowly as he typed. Aiden raised an eyebrow, and stuck out his tongue briefly. "

"I think I like that. Better than my real name, anyway."

"Which is?"

"Clark—couldn't get more boring if you tried."

"I see your Clark and raise you a Smith." Aiden raised both eyebrows at this. "Really," Miles confirmed. "Miles Clement Smith. The only reason I go by Miles is because it's better than Clement or Smithy! Why my parents couldn't give me at least one regular name, I don't know."

"So, do you keep Clement for your dapper but evil alter-ego? I can just see you with a smoking jacket and pipe, plotting world domination."

"I didn't, but now you've planted the idea … "

The conversation continued, spinning from evil masterminds to crime-fighting super heroes to films and books and cartoons, until Aiden's phone rang, with an old-school phone bell ring tone. He looked guilty as he saw who was calling, and answered immediately with "I'm sorry."

"Crap, no. I hadn't realised. I'm fine, just—meet you at the bus stop? Yeah, sure. Five minutes. Cool." He slid the phone back into his pocket. "That was Mike. The show finished a little while ago, and the last buses back our way are any minute now. I guess we should..." He nodded towards the main road. "I completely lost track of the time."

"Me too. And I've got work tomorrow! I don't care, though. Can I walk you back to your bus stop?"

"I'd like that." Aiden smiled.

They walked back, briskly, but still hand in hand. The show really must have finished a while before, because there weren't that many people still hanging around outside the closing pub. Miles couldn't see any of the folk from his flat. Fortunately Dave wasn't there either, so he stopped bracing himself for another confrontation. Instead, Aiden was swept up in a hug by a tall blond girl Miles recognised after a second as the female zombie stripper.

"Hey, Mike, Chris—this is Miles." Aiden made the introductions, and Miles could see both of his friends catch sight of their clasped hands, and give each other a quick look. "He's been keeping me company. I think he's good people."

"I try." Miles smiled at Aiden's friends, wanting them to approve. They clearly felt kind of protective, unlike his own housemates, who had apparently just buggered off without him. "I enjoyed your show, by the way. Loved the idea for a zombie evening."

"And he figures he could help us with the special effects if you do it again," Aiden announced.

Miles was saved from spontaneous combustion through embarrassment by the arrival of their bus—going to opposite direction to the one he needed to take. Instead of trying to frame a diplomatic reply, he pulled Aiden into a brief hug.

"Call me?" he called as Aiden followed Mike and Chris onto the bus.

"Will do!" Aiden called back, waving.

The doors shut, the bus pulled away, and Miles just stood for a moment, listening to the hiss of tyres on wet tarmac, and rubbing one hand with the thumb of the other. He hadn't expected to meet anyone tonight, let alone anyone like Aiden, let alone have them show every sign of liking him back. He might ache for more than kisses, but the conversation and the skin contact had left him with a warm sensation in the base of his stomach, and a disorienting sensation of un-reality. This was so not how his life went!

He stuffed his hands back into his pockets, and crossed the road to wait for his own bus home, just as a cold drizzle started to fall.

His phone buzzed.

Two new messages.

The first was from Kicks: "Figured you went home without us—see you back at the house."

The second was from Aiden. "So—Halloween prep? What time can I call you tomorrow? X A"

Miles smiled up at the streetlights and the stars and the rain. Maybe life didn't suck after all. Maybe things were going to work out for once.

** END **



If you're interested in more, here's a list of the past stories.

Dream Come True (2004)
Thirteen Kisses (2005)
All Souls (2006)
Favour (2007) (for sale) & Soar and Raining Cats (2007)(free sketches)
Tradition (2008)
Everything changes (2009)
It’s not the dead that haunt graveyards (2010)

You'll find these and other seasonally appropriate snippets under 'seasonal : autumn' in the tags list

(If I was doing this as a promotional thing, I would have picked a less popular date, because there's an awful lot of fabulous fiction being released for Halloween - more of it every year - so, thank you, everyone who reads this, and twice thanks to those of you who let me know that you did.)
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