berseker: (nekomimi)
[personal profile] berseker
Title: A Ghost Story
Rating/Warning: ... free, I guess. Of course, you'll have NIGHTMARES, because, you know. Ghosts.
Pairings: Brazil/Argentina
Summary: Random AU. Martín goes to Brazil, and then he finds a ghost.

Meeting a ghost was just the kind of dumb thing that would happen to Martín in this country.

Really. There was something in the air, that night. He could tell. He considered not leaving, and staying in the room watching TV, but he hadn't paid all that money to do something he could do at home. Besides, he wanted to watch at least one game here, to see how it would feel, if it would be different or what. So staying in wasn't an option. He considered not wearing his Argentinean jersey, but what the hell, he wanted to, and it wasn't like the game was against his country, so no one could complain.

So he went out wearing it, and the rest was history, because he couldn't tell his left from his right, so he took the wrong bus, and asked for directions to the wrong stadium, and ended up in the opposite side of the city.

He wasn't about to admit it, of course. So Martín got out of the bus, acting like this was exactly where he had planned to go, this... really ugly place, with all the trash in the street and the graffiti in the walls and the stupid run-down stadium that looked nothing like the one he wanted to see.

Not that he had to pretend, the bus driver didn't wait to see what he was going to do.

So now Martín was stuck here, with a football game happening somewhere else, some place he couldn't possibly reach in time, and it was already dark and he hated this country. Why couldn't the bus take him where he wanted to go anyway? Was that so hard? He had paid them!

He glared at the Stadium. It was... well, it looked like a stadium. And that was all Martín could say about it. It wasn't impressive or anything. It was actually a little creepy. That could be because of the moon, bright and full, giving everything a sort of silvery golden light, painting shadows everywhere. Anything could be hiding there, and he had read a lot about Brazil's scary nightlife, and the things that could happen to tourists caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Martín looked around, a little anxious, but there was no one else here. Good. That was- good. It didn't make him relax, but hey. Better than to turn and suddenly find himself surrounded by... drug lords or whatever they were.

He really should get out of here.

But now he had to find the right bus stop. This was where the buses coming here stopped, right? So he had to find the one for buses going away.

And that was why he decided to go around the stadium, and how he found the door with the loose chain, and how Martín found himself feeling tempted against his will. It was a Brazilian stadium, and at least he would be away from the drug lords for a little while – unless they were hiding here, of course, but then he would... figure out another plan, yes – and he was curious. So why not. It wasn't like this old decayed place would have any security. And if it had, he'd explain that he had seen the open door and had decided to check if everything was ok.

And that was how he met the ghost.

He was standing in the middle of the field, looking at the other way, so Martin had the chance to see him first. He was wearing some sort of uniform, Martín could see the number on his jersey and the name Luciano all in caps. He could also see the rest of the field right through him, because the guy was translucent. Oh, and he was floating. That was how Martín could tell it was a ghost.

Martín stopped. And froze. And he made a very undignified sound that was almost a whimper.

The ghost turned to him. Then he smiled, a warm, pleasant smile, and said, “Hello! You came to watch me play?”

And then he did this... this super weird incredibly creepy ghost thing because he suddenly was right there, still floating, leaning down to look at his face, and still smiling, and Martín tried to back away and lost his foot and fell on his butt, and then he tried to scramble away and all the time he was saying something that sounded suspiciously like STAY AWAY FROM ME, DAMNED SOUL FROM HELL.

But in a very dignified manner.

The ghost stopped smiling when he fell, and stared when Martín cursed him.

“... I was just going to help you,” he said, when Martín stopped. He sounded hurt.

“You're a ghost,” Martín said. He just thought he should point it out. But the ghost kept staring, clearly waiting for an apology.

And he was kind of making Martín feel a little guilty, maybe. The problem was his eyes. They were huge. It felt like he was hurting a puppy.

Or like he was telling a puppy that it was dead. Or-

He really didn't want to do this.

“So, Luciano-”

“You heard about me?”

He sounded excited. Too excited, considering that he had almost given him a heart attack.

“It's in your shirt,” he snapped, getting up, and pointedly refusing the ghost's outstretched hand, “What are you doing here anyway, shouldn't you be in some graveyard?”

“... you don't have to stay, you know. If you're going to be like that.”

“I'm not being like anything! Who the- what- aaack stay away from me!”

The ghost was floating around him, looking like white mist from the waist down, cold creepy mist that made Martín's skin crawl, and then he was in front of him again, with both hands on his shoulders. Before Martín could react to that – and before he could shriek like he wanted to, because his hands were cold and ghostly and transparent and there was a fucking ghost, a soul from the Great Beyond, touching him – the ghost traced the golden AFA symbol and the blue stripe down his chest, raised his face and smiled.

“But thank you for coming anyway. I was waiting for you! We can start right now, if you want to.”

“... Start?”

Oh God he wants to kill me and drag my soul to hell with him, Martín thought, this can't be happening, I'm too young to die I'm a good person I have so much to give what is this idiot doing-

The idiot was trying, and failing, to hold his arm, probably to proceed with the dragging his soul thing. But every time he tried, his hand would go right through. It felt awful and Martin wished he would stop.

“The game,” he explained, and then he let his arm fall to his side and shrugged, a little sheepish. “I think we should go to our teams and-”

“... What teams, there's no one here,” Martín said. He couldn't help it.

The ghost stopped talking, perplexed.

They stared at each other.

“Look,” Martín said, very slowly, “I can't play with you. If that's what you want. I need to go home.”

“... go home?” he looked even more confused, “You mean, now? Everyone is waiting.”

Martín looked at the seats.

All empty.

But who knew, maybe the place was crowded with spirits. Maybe they were the team too. He shivered.

“Ah. Well. It's urgent, really. I'm sorry.”

“But I waited so much for you!” now he sounded imploring, “And- you're Argentinean, it's a dream match! You can go home later!”

… he had a point. And Martín relaxed a little, in spite of himself. Even dead Brazilians recognized Argentina's superiority.

“But you don't have a ball,” he said.

“... oh.” The ghost's shoulders dropped.“You were supposed to bring one.”

You're so making this up, Martín thought, but he didn't say it. What he said was:

“I'll bring one tomorrow. A nice ghost ball for you”

“... why do you keep saying that? It's some sort of Argentinean weird joke?”

“See you later.”

“If there's no other way,” he said, sighing. But then he suddenly cheered up, “Everyone will want to watch it. Tomorrow it is, then.”

“Oh, you found the haunted stadium,” said the hostel receptionist.

Martín he had just asked if she knew the place. And if some sort of tragic death had happened there at some point in the past. And where he could find an exorcist. Or, failing that, Holy Water.

Apparently, that hadn't been very subtle.

She told him that yes, everyone knew about it, and that was why no one ever played there anymore, because players were superstitious, and anyway all the flickering lights and creepy noises were distracting, and that nowadays sometimes people would leave candles by the gate, or bouquets of red roses and things like that, to ask for a favorable result somewhere else, and she didn't know about any death but there were many stories, and an exorcist wouldn't help because it wasn't a demon, duh, just a ghost, a poor soul lost in its way to heaven, and anyway it wasn't like it was doing any harm, right? Then she beamed at him and went back to work.

So Martin decided that it wasn't his problem. If no one here was upset by it, then why should he? It wasn't even his country.

But he couldn't stop thinking about it. And then, when he was walking downtown, trying to decide what he wanted to eat, he found himself buying a ball.

It's just that Luciano's eyes had been so hopeful. And he couldn't disappoint someone so eager to lose a match to him. Even if the person was dead. And yes, he was being stupid, that idiot probably wouldn't be able to kick it because he had no body consistence, so what, it was his money. And he could buy a ball if he wanted to. So there.

When the night fell, he took the same bus from before, and went back to the stadium. He passed the unlocked door, ignoring the graffiti on the walls, the old plastic bags and empty cans on the floor, looking eerie under the moonlight.

“So, I'm here,” he said, “Where are you?”

Nothing happened for a few seconds, and then he felt the cold light pressure over his shoulders.

“Hi! I was waiting for you,” Luciano said, cheerfully.

“I know,” Martín said, bravely smiling back, instead of screaming like he wanted to. Just his luck, really, that the ghost he would find would be so fucking friendly. “So, I brought the ball.”

“That's great,” Luciano said, and added, with a perfectly innocent voice, “You didn't have any, last night, I remember.”

Martín glared at him.

“What, I'm just saying-”

“You didn't have any either. And shut up, or I won't let you touch it.”

He laughed, then, delighted like a child, raising a few feet in the air.

“I like you! You could stay here with me forever, so we can talk. No one talks to me.”

“... thank you, but no thank you,” Martín said, slighlty alarmed. But Luciano was still smiling, and he just shrugged.

“I just miss talking to people, and no one talks to me. And everyone is always late for everything, so I don't have time for interviews or anything before the game starts, and it gets lonely, and no one gets my jokes.”

“... probably because they're bad.”

“But you get it, and you're talking to me. And you're fun. I like you. Are you sure you don't want to stay?”

He leaned over him, eagerly looking into his eyes, and Martín took one step back. “No, really, I like living. And I have to go back next week. For college. And I have a job. Yeah. So it's really impossible, sorry.”

“Oh,” Luciano said, disappointed. But then his eyes lit up, “I could lock you in. Then they wouldn't get mad at you, and you can stay with me.”

And the stadium changed when he said that, like something from a dream turning into a different scenario, everything blurry and hazy, and he could see the vague outline of the bleachers all around them. And. No door.

Make that very alarmed.

“I, ah- I see your point, but I would feel guilty anyway. So no. Stop that.”

“Are you sure? You like football, I can tell. And I know I'm weird sometimes, but I'm nice, really. And if I talk to much, you can tell me to shut up, I don't mind.”

“No. Stop that now.”

Luciano sighed, but then the stadium went back to normal, with all the exit doors in the right place.

Martín noticed he had clenched his fists. He forced himself to open them.

“Don't do that again, ok? Or I won't play with you.”

“Fine,” Luciano said, “I was just asking.”

He was pouting, now. And glaring at him with those puppy eyes of his.

Just his luck.

“Can we just do this already, so I can go home? I'm tired.”

“You mean, the game? Of course not! We have to sing the anthem first! Don't you know anything?”

“... the anthem.”

“Yes. You should have brought something to play the instruments part.”

“Me? Why? Why do you get to just sit here and be creepy while I do all the work?”

“You're not doing anything, you can't even remember the basic rules if I don't tell you!”

It was Martín's turn to glare at him. He was being extremely nice here, and had just talked this dumb ghost out of kidnapping his soul and holding it hostage in this dump, and now he was being insulted.

“You know what, I don't have to put up with this. I'm leaving.”

He turned, and managed to take one or two steps, before Luciano was in front of him – and around him at the same time, he was being his half-misty self again, apparently - holding his arm with his dead cold ghostly hand.

“No, we still have to play! Are you sure you don't have something to play the anthem?”

Martín looked at him.

Luciano was very close now. He could see the details of his face, in all their moonlit translucent glory. It was a – well, nice face. For a dead person.

“I can bring it tomorrow,” he said.

“Ok,” Luciano said, smiling weakly, “Deal.”

He didn't sound too happy. Martín sighed, loudly, and asked, “Now what?”

“Nothing. I just- you're leaving, then.”

He seemed to deflate, and Martín felt sorry for him. He could understand people's pain at seeing him go.


Could empathize, anyway.

“I can... stay for a while, if you want to.”

Luciano cheered up, rising from the floor again, and Martín hastily added, “I mean ten or fifteen minutes, that's all. Not forever.”

“Ok! Then we can talk! Do you want to sit? Or look around? I can show you the trophy's room! Do you want to see my trophies?”

Martín let himself be led. Why not. Luciano was still holding his arm, but he was getting used to it.

He was also babbling. Martín was getting used to that too.

“Look,” he said, going through a door. Then he came back, laughing, and did something with the handle, and the door opened. “Here, now you can see everything. Some are really old, and sometimes people try to steal it, but I don't let them.”

“... do you kill them?”

“Uh? No, of course not. I talk to them, and it always works. You're so weird. Do you have trophies?”

“A few, yes. Listen, do you- are you-”

… how were you supposed to ask people if they knew they were dead? Was there a diplomatic way to put it?

“Am I what?”

Martín gave up.

“Are you- uh, have you been... playing for- a long time, now?”

“No, this will be the first time,” he said, happily, floating around the room and dusting some of the trophies, “You're asking because of those, right? They're not really really mine, I just like to take care of them. But I'll win some too. Well, not me, the team, of course. But I'll help.”

“The team,” Martín said. But this time Luciano didn't answer, completely distracted by the trophies. Maybe he had selective attention. Or some ghostly equivalent that wouldn't let him notice the lack of teams and fans and everything else.

That, or tomorrow he would say Martín was supposed to bring one.

“So, have you been here for long, then?”

“A while, I guess? I'm not sure. How late were you?”

Maybe he was being mysterious on purpose. Clearly, this would demand a different approach.

“Just tell me how you died, and why you're stuck here. I'm curious.”

“I think it's time for you to go,” Luciano said, sadly, “I'll miss you.”

And then he vanished again.

Martín stared at the place where he had been. Then he cursed. And kicked the door when he left, just to make a point.

After a very exhaustive research - consisting in googling 'luciano+brazil+team' and then 'haunted-stadium' - Martín still had no idea who Luciano was. And the stadium one was even worse, Google had the nerve to give him stories about ghosts in La Bonbonera. Useless.

(even if he had to admit that getting your remains thrown in the field was a really cool idea.)

So he still didn't know.

He added the two national anthems to his iPod, and got the same bus again. This time the driver recognized him. He smiled, and told him to be careful, or he would get stuck there.

Martín stopped. Guessing his curiosity, the driver told him that it had happened once, many years ago, the place was crowded, everyone was cheering, flags and horns and music and confetti and all and it was like a huge party right before the start, and then everything went crazy. All the doors slammed shut, and the lights went out, and the temperature dropped, and everyone was terrified but they couldn't find the way out.

“Did they die?”

“... no,” the driver said, a little disappointed, “But it was still terrifying. And that's why no one will go there anymore.”

Silly, Martín thought. Luciano had probably been too excited to behave, that was all. But at least this dude here knew something about it, so Martín asked him if he knew who the ghost was, and why he was there in the first place, and the man told him about the accident, so when Martín got out at the stadium, he knew exactly what had happened.

This time, Luciano was in the center of the field, looking at the grass.

“It looks really bad,” he said, as soon as Martín joined him, “But I think we can still play, right?”

He sounded anxious. Martín patted his shoulder, then caught himself, and lowered his hand. It was like putting your hand in front of a wind gust – there was something, but it was not solid, maybe not even really there. But something nonetheless.

“We can, if you want to,” Martín said.

Luciano raised one eyebrow, surprised at the kindness. Martín hadn't meant to sound like that, it had just happened. So he didn't explain, and Luciano didn't ask anything either, he just held his arm again – carefully this time, so his hand wouldn't go through.

“I don't know why this happens,” he sighed, “I can hold the trophies, and open and close the doors, and everything else. But when I touch people, it's always like that, and then they freak out. Except for you. Are you sure you don't want to stay here?”

“Why did you do that? Close the doors right before the match?”

“Oh. That. I don't know, it just happened. But I didn't know I could do it, I was just thinking about how nice it was, you know, and how much I wanted it to... keep going. It's stupid, because every match has to end, but that day was so amazing, and it was my first time playing, too, so I wanted it to last. I didn't know the doors would close. I still think calling off the match was an overreaction,” he pressed his lips tightly for a moment, but then he smiled again, “But it's all settled now, right? I mean, you're here.”

“Luciano...” he paused. Oh hell, here goes nothing, he thought, and said, “Do you remember the accident, right? Before the game?”

“Of course I do. I was there. But I'm fine, really. Can we start?”

“Were you really in the team? Really?”

Luciano stopped. He stopped smiling, too. And just stared at him.

“I'm just- you know,” Martín said, “I'm just a fan. I'm very good, but- I don't play for the national team. Or. Any other team. So you can tell me-”

“Then why are you here?”

Martín sighed. And he was trying so hard not to hurt him.

Just his luck.

“I don't have time to talk,” Luciano said, looking like a wounded child, like a kicked puppy, “And you shouldn't be here, then, you should be in the seats with everyone else, I-”

“Everyone else who? There's no one here.”

Luciano looked around, as if he were seeing the empty stands for the first time. Martín tried to touch his shoulder, but he floated away.

“Why are you doing this to me? I thought we were friends.”

“Because you're stuck here, and you don't really enjoy it, do you? And I want to-”

“I'm not! And of course I do! And I'll leave as soon as the game ends, you idiot, that's obvious! I can't leave before, because – do you even know how this works?”

“The game never happened,” Martín said, as kindly as he could, “Not here. You said it yourself, they called it off, and then they went to another place years ago-”

“No, they didn't! They can't- they wouldn't do this to me, someone would have told me, I came here as soon as I could-”

“And you made it in time, you really did, but-”

No, really, how the fuck was he supposed to handle this? You made it in time, but you couldn't possibly play because, see, you were dead, and that's really creepy, and probably against the rules?

“You're lying,” Luciano whispered. “I don't want to talk to you anymore.”

“I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. If it's any comfort-”

“Go away! I don't want you here, and I'll never talk to you again!”

And then he vanished again.

Martín sighed.

“If it's any comfort, I wish they had finished the game. I think you deserved it.”

Luciano didn't show his face in the next two days, but Martín knew he was there. First, because he couldn't leave, and second because the place went crazy when he entered. All the lights went on and off and the doors slammed and the wind whistled – Luciano was clearly still upset.

“Very impressive,” he said. He considered going to the bleachers to wait, but he had never seen Luciano go there, he was always in the field. So he sat down in the grass. “I'm not afraid of noise, you know.”

But nothing happened that night, or the next one, except for the haunting stuff. So the third time Martín brought the narration of the game. It wasn't complete, but he had managed to find more than fifty minutes of it, from random snippets on the Internet, and the part he hadn't found was boring anyway. He sat on the floor and let it play.

He could tell when Luciano sat by his side, but didn't turn to see him. They listened to the whole thing - no one could accuse him of not trying – and, when it ended and the silence filled the field, Luciano said, in a small voice:

“So we didn't even win?”

“No. Sorry.”

“They would have, if I had been there.”

“That's what I thought, too.”

Luciano gave him a weak smile, and then hugged his knees against his chest. Martín patted his shoulder again. He was getting the hang of this. This time it felt almost real.

“I'll still play with you, if you want to.”

It was a little past midnight now, and he tried to remember when the last bus would pass. He had no idea. But it wasn't important. Martín was willing to sleep here and wait for the first one in the morning, if he had to.

Luciano raised his face.

He touched the AFA symbol again, like he had done in the first day, tracing it lightly with the tip of his finger. “A classic,” he said, then poked Martín's chest, and smiled. “We should start now, then. We're already late.”

He got up, the sadness vanishing from his face, his eyes lighting up. He was losing himself again, Martín thought. He was seeing the cheering crowds, the flashes from the cameras, the dream he was stuck in.

Martín didn't try to bring him back. He accepted his hand to get up, and it felt like trying to hold on to wind or water, and Luciano turned into a white misty cloud around him, pushing his back too, and then he laughed, bright and cheerful, just like the first night. And probably every night for the past ten years. They stood side to side, and he played the anthems, and Luciano sang his, and listened respectfully to the Argentinean one, and Martín felt a crazy surge of patriotic pride when he heard it. Like in a real match. He was clearly going insane.

But that was just his luck, wasn't it?

He had been sort of vaguely planning to be gracious about this and just let him win, but as soon as they got the ball rolling, his own competitiveness kicked in, and Luciano was playing for real, and, for a ghost, impressively well. Martín had to admit, he was talented. And annoying. He was playful and merry and stupid, trying to make humiliating dribbles, suddenly disappearing and showing up in different places. But he couldn't take the ball with him, and after a while Martín figured him out, so he started to do the same. And he couldn't kick his shin, or grab his jersey, but Luciano couldn't grab him either, so they were forced to keep this friendly even if after ten minutes Martin felt like killing him all over again. It was beautiful, it was amazing, it was a show of talent like the stadium had never seen before, if he could say so himself, and he totally could.

It was a classic.

He was breathless when they stopped, his shirt soaked with sweat, his hair clinging to his forehead and his face. And happier than he had even been since this vacations had started.

“Are you sure you don't want to stay?” Luciano said, but then he laughed, and Martín laughed too.

Luciano looked tired, and his skin was damp with sweat too, even if it was supposed to be impossible. He wondered what he would look like if he were... well, real. Not this white translucent mist.

“You could visit me again, one day,” he said, smiling. His eyes were soft, and alight with joy. “Then we can play again. You're really good.”

“So are you,” Martín said. His voice sounded weird, wrong and choked. He cleared his throat, “If you practice, you might reach my level one day.”

Luciano laughed, and punched his shoulder.

“Go, you idiot, I don't want you stuck here for the rest of the night, it's not safe. If you leave now, you'll still catch the last bus.”

So Martín shook his hand again, and left, and when he turned to look back one last time, Luciano was looking at him too, standing in the middle of the field, floating a few feet in the air. He waved, and Martín waved back, and he had to run to catch the bus, but the driver stopped for him, and didn't say anything when Martín collapsed in the seat. He just looked a little wary. Maybe wondering if he was a ghost too.

He went there the next night, of course, and the one after that, and the one after that too, and didn't find anything. No flickering lights, no mysterious sounds, no sense of presence.

The stadium was empty.

And Luciano had taken the ball with him. Figures.

So on the fourth night Martín came for the last time, but didn't bother entering. This time he put a bouquet of roses in front of the gate, and left without looking back, trying to convince himself he wouldn't miss him. That all this was just his luck.

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