Names? Places? Dates? I'm not telling. You don't need to know any of that to appreciate this story. It might even be better if we remain a little on the anonymous side.

You just need to know two things: My other half was a failed reporter who could never follow through on anything (mostly due to a fear of failure and deep insecurities) and he was also a hopeless romantic who, again, could never follow through on anything (mostly due to previously mentioned fear of failure and deep insecurities.)

So what was I? I was the deadline. I was the nagging sense of an impending due date that he just couldn't meet, or feared so much that it paralyzed him like a deer caught in the headlights.

As you can guess, I had a hell of a field day with him. All those missed stories! All those poor excuses! All that time spent researching the living hell out of something, only to get so sidetracked and sidelined that the project got larger and larger and he had to drop it... on and on and on.

If he'd just learned to set goals and meet them - and buck up a bit, too, I might add - he might have gone somewhere. But he never did. So he was doomed to spend his so-called life working for peanuts at a coffee shop and never quite getting the nerve up to send a CV to anyone.

And it wasn't just his profession, either. He'd have things for women - really have things for women - but he'd be unable to dive in and try to make a move. Failure or insecurity, whichever one it was, there you'd find him, acting like a chaste knight errant to woman after woman. It would have gone over great in Agincourt, but in the here and now all it got him was lonely.

The last girl he only ever saw from afar. She was beautiful. She had pale skin and long, blonde hair and her eyes were little crystal snowflakes - so pale and blue you could lose yourself in them like a house of mirrors. She knew how to dress... how to walk. She was just perfect. Flawless.

She'd come in for coffee at the place where he worked, but he wouldn't dare come close to her. He just watched her from across the room, sweeping the area by the door for way too long just to steal glimpses of her. His boss praised his attention to detail and gave him a nickel raise, but that was just the icing on the cake for him.

There were times when he almost came up and introduced herself. He had the scenarios all worked out in his mind, but each and every time he chickened out. Insecurity. Fear of failure... whatever.

And then came the day he was dragged to his death by a milk truck.

The dumbass driver just plowed right into him after failing to make a turn, and didn't even know he was there. The truck went about a mile down the middle of the city's main drag with him stuck under the right wheelwell, being ripped to shreds and broken on the potholes. He had a whole train of folks chasing after him, trying to get the fatass behind the wheel to stop.

But he was long gone before they did. In fact, I think he was dead the moment he went under the wheel. The next thing he knew, he was in the Shadowlands. More important to our story - at least so far as I'm concerned - he was we.

And that just sucked, to put it bluntly. The kid couldn't even die right. And here we were, condemned to a joint unlife as a restless spirit because what he hadn't done was a stronger pull on his soul than what was beyond all that crap.

I'm sure you know how I felt about that. You've been there, too. And I made up my mind, right from that moment, that I wasn't going to take this horseshit lying down.

I'll spare you the other details in detail. Suffice it to say that he got inducted into the Emerald Legion - right from the pavement, in fact - and tried to get with their program. He didn't get very far, though, for reasons that should be apparent. And then he went and lost a Fetter due to sheer neglect on his part, and down to the Labyrinth he went.

Now... before all that, I'd tried to point out that his lack of goals would do him in. I told him that every fucking step of the way. But he never listened to me. Those damn Emeralds and their silly campfire stories about Shadows. They make it sound like we're the worst thing in the world. I mean, honestly - can you think of anything worse than being a ghost? (Well, okay - being a Shadow, but you know what I mean)

However, that one trip down there - soon to be HERE - changed all that.

Quite a bit, in fact. After that, he got the point. He started to listen to what I had to say, rather than running for a Pardoner the moment I made more than three suggestions in a single afternoon. And we really started to have a reasonable dialogue, for a change. He was still a little unsure about things, of course, and I can't blame him for that, but I think I steered him pretty well...

No, really. I got him out of that damned Legion by encouraging him to fake a Harrowing and not show back up again. I got him in good with the Renegades by having him show up at just the right time to save that one guy's bacon from a sudden attack of Doomshades. I helped him connect some dots he'd have never even seen if he'd stayed where he was.

And, more importantly, I had him trying to make some goals for the future. Chief amongst them was trying to find some way to let that last girl - the one with the eyes you could get lost in forever - know that he loved her. There were some other goals in there as well, but that was the one the others either led to or rotated around.

He was being meticulous about it. He kept loose tabs on her - making sure he knew where she lived and where she worked, but not getting too close. No peeping or sitting in her chair or sleeping on her bed... none of that silly crap that others with a similar problem might do.

Why? Well, that was largely my doing, of course. By this time he'd started to know himself, courtesy of me, and he knew that if he went to watch her, it'd snowball right into a bad situation. He'd go mad with fear and insecurities because...

Well, you know what it's like to see something that you want worse than anything but just can't have, right? It makes you feel like someone's turned your heart into hamburger meat. And, as I'm sure you know, unpleasant feelings make a Wraith do stupid, stupid things...

So he wasn't going to see her until she could really see him: that was the plan. Unfortunately, my other half wasn't running into the right people. He'd learned a little about Shroud-rending from some Joy-Riders who claimed to be real Puppeteers - I have my doubts about their credentials - but he couldn't find any Proctors to save his unlife. We looked all over the damn necropolis for them and didn't find a thing. Maybe they were all in the Skinlands?

And that's about where we were. We had a purpose and a path to get there, rather than just endlessly wandering from situation to situation like a vulture. But we were still dead, and still in hell, and not finding the right people to get us from here to where we wanted to be.

But while he was hanging out with the Renegades, he started hearing rumors about a way to change that. I bet you can guess what way that was.