Title: No Hope for the Haunted
Fandom: Being Human
Disclaimer: If I owned anything related to Being Human, people would actually be happy with the spoilers for Series 4.
Rating: T for some bad language
Pairings: Annie centric, implied Annie/Mitchell
Spoilers: Takes place after the Series 3 finale.
Summary: One-shot that follows Annie after Mitchell's death.
Author's Note: I've never written something quite like this before. I'm not sure if it turned out how I originally planned, or if I completely like it, but I started this back in July and with all the new (and unfortunate) details being released about Series 4, I just had to finish it.
The first time she sees him, she's not even surprised. She thinks maybe she's actually fallen asleep, or is at least in some state of dozing. It is the middle of the night after all, and she's been curled up in his bed for hours; it seems to be the only place where his scent still lingers in the air.
Any previous thoughts drifting through her mind slip away quickly as she notices his outline in the shadows, feels the familiarity of his presence in the room.
He doesn't speak and she doesn't know what to say. After a moment she shuts her eyes tightly, willing herself to wake up because now she just wants out of his room and out of her head.
When she reopens her eyes he's vanished but she doesn't feel any more rested.
She's staring out the front window at a figure in the distance, just up the street and across the road.
This isn't the first time there have been mysterious people watching the occupants of Honolulu Heights; she remembers all too well the night Wyndham made clear his plans to keep track of them.
Annie has seen lookouts on the corner, Nina at the hospital, George at the market.
Annie's staring out the front window at a figure in the distance, just up the street and across the road. She can't quite make out his features, but she swears he's looking back at her as dark curls dance in the slight breeze.
When she finally gets the nerve move, to open the door and step out for a closer look, he's gone.
"That time of the month" arrives quickly for the resident werewolves, and Annie prepares to spend her first night alone in the former bed & breakfast.
She's trying to come up with things to keep her occupied, thinks maybe she'll put on Pride and Prejudice out of jest and because it's her favorite. She considers making tea but with no one around to drink it she resists.
She considers making tea because she could use the comfort of false warmth a steaming mug provides her.
The house is too quiet and too dark with all the lights on and her skin is tingling in a way that reminds her of when she was alive and could get goose bumps.
Fuck it, she finally thinks and heads into the kitchen, where she finds a steaming mug of tea on the counter that does nothing to provide her with comfort.
"Do you believe in ghosts?"
George looks at her like she's gone stupid and sighs to confirm his annoyance. "Annie, in case you've forgotten, you are a ghost."
That's not what she means but she doesn't dare ask again.
There's something wrong with the chair. Annie stands in her bedroom at Honolulu heights and she stares at the chair, and stares and stares and stares.
She hears Nina pass and calls out to her, needs confirmation that something's not right, but she receives no acknowledgement and there's just something so wrong with the chair.
The realization hits her suddenly and if she was breathing it'd feel like a punch to the stomach.
The chair is hers.
Not the cream-colored one given by her friends when they showed her around their new home just months ago, but the red and yellow paisley one she'd purchased at a secondhand shop for her first flat while at university. The one she'd spent countless hours reading and dreaming her life away in. The one she'd insisted to Owen she had to bring along when they moved into the pink house.
Annie stands in the bedroom at Honolulu heights and she stares at her chair, and stares and stares and stares.
Annie has a headache, which doesn't make sense because Annie hasn't been able to get a headache in nearly four years.
She hasn't gone back into the bedroom in days and she needs to get away.
Only she doesn't know where to go so she pops without a planned destination and somehow finds herself standing in the living room of Windsor Terrace.
The house is locked up and the shades are drawn and the furniture is still in the same place. Nothing has been touched since her friends left it all behind but this doesn't feel like her home.
It's haunted without them.
She runs her fingers over the bookshelf, lightly grazing the knick-knack box left next to a stack of forgotten books. "That belongs with the house," she had told George the time he had tried to move out, the time he had tried to move on, and so with the house it had stayed.
Annie doesn't look down at the cracked tile on the floor but she's hesitant as she walks up the stairs. She doesn't want to go into his room, can't stand to see the things he left behind or even worse to find it empty.
She goes to her room instead and is more stunned to see her chair back in its rightful place than she is to see him sitting in it.
He's faded at the edges and she wants to reach out and touch him but she's so afraid she'll go right through him she can't bring herself to lift a hand.
"I don't know if this is real" is all she says and she doesn't wait for a response before she pops hastily back to the living room of Honolulu Heights.
Nina and George are eating breakfast at the kitchen table, drinking mugs of tea that she didn't make.
"It's too quiet without Annie around," George says somberly, and he picks at his toast while Nina rubs her growing belly absentmindedly.
Annie's baffled at the comment because she's been sitting at the table with them for ages. There's an empty mug of tea growing cold in front of her. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"What's what supposed to mean?" George looks at her in pure confusion. Nina doesn't look at her at all while she rubs her growing belly absentmindedly.
"You said… I… Never mind," she mumbles awkwardly, then disappears to the bedroom where she curls up in the cream-colored chair.
This time it's intentional when she rent-a-ghost's back to Bristol. The house is locked up and the shades are drawn and the furniture is still in the same place.
She pauses by the front door and takes a moment to look around in uncertainty; it's funny, she doesn't remember there being a palm tree painted on the entry wall before.
Annie finds her chair empty today but she still doesn't go into his room.
"Why doesn't Nina speak to me anymore?"
"What are you talking about? She speaks to you all the time."
"No, she doesn't. Sometimes I don't even think she sees me anymore."
"You're being silly, Annie."
"There's something strange going on around here. Nothing is making much sense and it's doing my head in."
His face shows a flash of bewilderment at her comment, and George blinks in her direction for a moment before he carries on reading his newspaper in silence.
There's someone pacing in the attic and Annie listens from the edge of Mitchell's bed. She wonders how George and Nina can sleep so soundly when the footsteps are echoing throughout the whole house.
Annie worries that it's one of Wyndham's henchmen, someone who broke in and is finally going to take action against the supernatural inhabitants. She makes her way to the stairs, fearing first for the safety of her friends and their unborn child, and puts on her bravest face before she reaches the landing.
The door is open and the lights are dim but he's easy to make out. She almost wishes it was one of Wyndham's men, because at least that would make some sort of sense to her.
There's someone pacing in the attic and Annie listens from the edge of the doorway.
"I see you sometimes," he says out loud to the room, but he hasn't looked at her once.
It's the first time he's spoken and now she can't find her voice. She buries her face in the sleeves of her cardigan and the pacing comes to a stop.
"Do you believe in ghosts?"
George doesn't look at her or sigh in annoyance. George doesn't say anything.
She doesn't know what she means but she doesn't dare ask again.
Visiting the pink house has almost become a second nature now. The house is locked up and the shades are drawn and the furniture is still in the same place.
She finds him at the kitchen table, in the same seat he was in the last moment they both called this place home. But this time he's not blood-drunk and she's not scared and she would give almost anything for him to corner her against the wall and kiss her senseless.
She peers at him through the curtain in the doorway, not knowing if either of them will speak first.
"I miss this place."
She jumps as his voice breaks the silence and their eyes lock across the small space.
This is encouragement enough for her, and she steps through the drapery and into the kitchen, though she doesn't dare to move past the fridge.
"I miss our friendship," she replies, because it's the truth and he reminds her of every good memory made in this house.
"I miss you," he says simply. She edges closer at this confession, resting her hands on the back of the chair opposite his.
Her heart is stinging and she doesn't know what else to do now but be honest. "I loved you, Mitchell, but I don't know who I was in love with."
His voice is low as he rises up from his chair and moves achingly closer to her. "You loved the only parts of me that matter."
She closes her eyes in anticipation and waits to feel his touch, waits to feel his fingertips on her skin and his lips pressed hard against her own.
An awkward amount of time passes before she opens her eyes again and discovers he's nowhere to be found.
It seems harder than normal to pop back to Barry Island but she blames it on the renewed sense of grief washing over her.
Someone's fucking with her head, messing with her so she'll be too weak to fight. Either that or she's completely gone mental, snapped at the first true test of sorrow, but she doesn't like that option so she chooses to ignore it.
She doesn't remember what she's supposed to be afraid of anymore.
In the living room she discovers George and Nina on the couch in a quiet moment, smiling sweetly and murmuring softly to each other about baby names.
Annie would feel like she's intruding but they don't see her anyway.
The house feels emptier than she ever remembers and it doesn't sit well with her.
Annie tries to make tea and the kettle gets warm and the whistle screams and screams and screams.
Something's tugging at the far corner of her thoughts, nagging at her like an overlooked anniversary or an appointment she's missed or that time she forgot her fiancé had killed her.
She fills four mugs out of habit before pouring them out in the sink.
She begins to entertain the idea that maybe it's not just her mind that's fading.
It's almost funny how this makes her feel better than thinking she's gone crazy, but maybe it's like the time she learned if Herrick burned down her house she would be like smoke in the wind.
Maybe Mitchell had been her true anchor in the end.
Annie has an overwhelming need to feel grounded so this time she visits the one place where the term is most literal.
The stone has always been too simple for her taste (originally picked out by Owen, no doubt), but she's never really been there anyway so that's not what's bothering her now.
No, what's bothering her today isn't the stone, but the snatch of green fabric she finds resting on top of it.
She doesn't have to pick it up to know what it is and she tries to remember the last time she saw him wearing the pair because it certainly must have been a long time ago.
She tries to believe it was left here while he was missing for those couple of weeks. Before he came back and before...
Never mind the fact that it's clean and dry despite the recent winter weather. And never mind that any wind should have easily swept it away to hide amongst the other graves. Never mind any of that, she thinks, and the stone isn't quite so plain to her anymore and she feels more detached than ever.
Annie pops back to Windsor Terrace for a final time.
The house is locked up and the shades are drawn and the furniture is still in the same place. She leaves the glove on the coffee table because she feels like it belongs there and she feels like she doesn't belong here anymore.
She can't decide if she's trying to cut ties with the house or Mitchell or the past but her hands won't stop shaking. She thinks maybe she's ready now, though; ready to say goodbye and ready to let go and perhaps ready to move on.
Everything around her feels curiously static and she has an odd sense that something big is about to happen.
There's a moment of unnatural silence, of perfect stillness and contemplation, and then there's a loud buzzing in her ears so sudden she moves her hands to cover them in fright.
A change sweeps over her being like an ache, and it's quick and it's heavy and Annie doesn't like it. She suddenly feels incredibly tired, as if every limb is made of lead that could sink her at any second.
Fear jolts up her spine and she tries to pop back to Barry and to the cemetery and to anywhere else and she doesn't understand how she keeps ending up back in the living room of the pink house.
A deep panic begins to seep through her and into her chest and her head is fuzzy and her hands won't stop shaking. Annie doesn't understand what's happening to her but she somehow knows where she can find the answer.
She's determined this time when she ascends the stairs, and she throws open the door to his room before she gives herself any more time to think about what she expects to find. There are bits and pieces of his personal effects left behind, things that were once important enough to keep but not important enough to take.
He looks up from where he's sitting on the bed, holding a lone green glove in his hands and all she's feeling right now is anger.
"Why are you here?" she demands. It doesn't sound as harsh as she means it to be but she thinks she's already mad enough as it is. She can see the tears brimming in his eyes and despite her best efforts feels one or two escape from her own.
"I told you once that I couldn't live without you," he reminds her, and she remembers all too well because didn't it turn out that he couldn't live with her, either?
"I'm sorry," he continues when she stays silent. "I shouldn't have taken you for granted. I should have shown you how much I love you. I should have been honest."
He's telling her everything she's ever wanted to hear from him and now she's positive this isn't real and everything just feels so damn heavy. She has a headache, which doesn't make sense because she hasn't been able to get a headache in nearly four years.
He takes a moment to wipe at his watery eyes but she resists moving to comfort him and her hands won't stop shaking. "Losing you a second time is hell in its own right, Annie, and I am paying my price. I just wish I could tell you all of this."
She clenches her fists in an effort to stop the trembling and her forehead wrinkles up in confusion. "I don't understand what you're saying."
"I'll find you again, Annie. I promise."
Annie doesn't understand what he's saying and she startles when she hears a noise from downstairs. Someone is knocking at the front door.
She knows this time he won't be there when she looks back at his bed but there's still a twisting in her gut when she confirms it's empty. Someone is still knocking at the front door and Annie does the only thing she can think to do.
She answers it.
If Annie thought she was confused before, she's thrown completely for a loop at the face she finds behind the door.
She lets the woman in without saying anything because for a moment she doesn't have anything to say.
"Aren't you even going to tell me hello?" The voice is sweet but the tone still drips with something that rings familiar.
Now Annie's just annoyed.
"I don't understand what's happening. Why are you here? And why can't I leave?" She watches as Lia plops down on the couch like she belongs there and puts her feet up on the table where a lone green glove used to be.
"It seems the powers that be are in no hurry to pass you on. You know - the men with the sticks and rope?"
Annie's throat tightens at the memory but she forces herself to stay focused. "What do you mean pass me on?"
"Come on now Annie, I know you're brighter than that."
Their eyes lock and in one swift motion everything hits Annie like a push down the stairs.
"But I don't understand. I went back and I saved Nina, and then Mitchell…" She lets out a sob and covers her mouth but there are no tears. She suddenly doesn't feel so heavy anymore, instead feels something akin to a rapidly deflating balloon.
"No, Annie, you didn't. Did you really think they'd let you leave purgatory for a second time?"
It's almost funny, all this time she thought she was floating away but it turns out she's been grounded all along.
They've been staring each other down for hours now or possibly just seconds and there's a silence stretching between them that hurts her ears until she can't stand it anymore.
"How long have I been here?"
"For some time now. Not that time exists here, really, so I suppose that's just a figure of speech anymore."
"So what, did I just make everything up then?"
She doesn't know if it's genuine or not, but Lia manages a look of sympathy as Annie continues to work it all out, starts to put all the broken pieces together. The overlapping, the fading, the strange happenings. Her seeing Mitchell and their friends not seeing her.
"It was all in my head." It's not a question.
"A projection of sorts, like an alternate reality," Lia confirms. "Or maybe a dream, if you like that better. A way to handle the stress of everything, living out life as you imagined it would go."
"But why would I make that stuff up? Mitchell died… I've been grieving for him!"
"Perhaps it was your conscience's way of getting justice for his actions. It's hard for the murdered to love a killer, isn't it?"
The comment hits home, and Annie's mouth goes dry for a moment before she's able to speak again. "What happened to Nina and the baby? And George?"
"Well they must be alive if they're not hanging around these parts. Can't say for sure about the baby though," Lia shrugs.
She wishes she could feel nauseous because she wants to throw up.
Lia almost appears to be enjoying the fact that Annie can't seem to voice her next question, and Annie briefly wonders if this is some sort of weird payback for not giving her a hug the last time they parted.
She chews on her nails as she paces - a nervous habit from her living days, only now it's just annoying the fuck out of her that they never get any shorter.
Finally, she takes an unnecessary breath and clears her throat. "What about Mitchell then? If this has all been some sort of made up life on my part, does that mean he's still alive?"
"Have you seen him?" Lia has obviously been expecting this but seems genuinely curious to hear her answer.
"I… I don't know. It's like he's haunting me."
"I suspect you've been haunting him as well. Probably thinks he's gone mad, what with seeing you but not really seeing you. Can't say he doesn't deserve it."
Annie doesn't respond, doesn't want to say anything because Lia tends to only speak in puzzles and manipulation anyway.
"Can I go back?" she asks instead.
"No," Lia says simply. "I really did try to let you go back, Annie, but that world doesn't concern you anymore. Not to mention you lot have caused some strict policy changes around here."
"Is that why he hasn't found me yet? Come to purgatory the way he did before?" There's a desperation in Annie's voice that she hopes Lia doesn't notice.
"I would assume so. I can't imagine they'd want him around here again; I'm guessing if he actually died that Hell wouldn't have to wait very long for him."
She wonders briefly if Lia was also this bitter in life or if death really just fucks with everyone. Lia must be able to read the thought in the glare Annie's wearing.
"They're not happy with me either, you know. For letting you two go to begin with." Her eyes flash briefly, a reflection of the revengeful Lia she'd encountered previously. "At least you get a whole house; I'm still limited to my childhood bedroom."
"How are you here then?"
"Part of my task to move on, I suppose." Lia waves her hand nonchalantly in indication of the Great Beyond.
"So tell me what am I supposed to do now then?" Annie demands and her arms cross unconsciously in defense of what she knows she'll hear next.
"What we all do around here. You wait."
There's a feeling hovering in the room now that tells them both it's time for Lia to go.
Annie has a million more questions to ask but she seems to inherently know all the answers, though this fact does nothing to provide her with comfort. She doesn't move as Lia rises from the sofa and makes her way toward the entry.
She watches Lia open the front door, behind which Annie can now only see an old familiar darkness. Lia turns to leave but hesitates for a moment, trying to decide if she wants to voice her last thought.
"You should consider yourself lucky, you know. You've actually spoken with Mitchell. I couldn't do that with my family even before – I've only ever been able to watch." Annie can hear the sadness hidden behind the girl's voice and remembers just how much she can relate.
"I'm sorry, Lia," Annie tells her, and there's no blame or guilt or anger behind the words.
Lia gives her a final parting nod. "You have a true connection with him. Wherever he is, he's trying to find you."
It's the first sign of kindness she's ever shown regarding Mitchell, and then the door slams closed behind her and Annie is left completely alone.
She didn't even know you could go crazy after you were dead, and now she was dead dead. And she was lonely. And she was stuck. And there are four mugs that sit empty on the counter next to the kitchen sink.
Annie tries to make tea but the kettle just won't get warm and she screams and screams and screams.
When Annie finally thinks to try the TV, all the screen will show her is Pride and Prejudice on repeat.
She wonders about the baby and hopes that the last time she had seen Nina and George, happily together on the couch of the B&B, was an overlap of reality and not a made up projection.
Besides, she doubts she would ever think to suggest naming a baby Dorcas.
She takes her time in roaming the house but she knows his room will remain empty so Annie tells herself she's never going to enter it again.
Annie finds an old hospital ID of George's and a hairclip of Nina's and a grocery list in Mitchell's scratchy handwriting so she puts them in her pocket and carries them around with her.
Annie sits in her little pink house on Windsor Terrace, where everything is locked up and the shades are drawn and the furniture is still in the same place.
Time doesn't mean a thing to her anymore but the house is cold and the mugs are empty and Pride and Prejudice flickers on the television while she waits endlessly for her promised eternity to appear.
She remembers his words so clearly in her mind she almost doesn't question if they were real. "I'd tear the world apart," he had told her, just before she found out that he had torn their world apart already.
Sometimes now she can hear his voice echoing throughout the house. "I'll find you again, Annie. I promise." She doubts a promise to a shadow means much but there's still a part of her that hopes there was that bit of truth amidst all the lies.
Mitchell only ever gave up in her world, after all.