Disclaimer: None of the recognizable settings and characters portrayed in this store belong to me (I wish!). They are all creation and property of that grace and genius of the paranormal and angsty mystery named Stephen Volk. I won't mention Clerkenwell Films and ITV because they are mean unworthy people cries for axing such a wonderful show after only 14 episodes and when it's received the applause of the international critic, in Europe as well as in the rest of the world. Golden Nymph Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress and Actor for a Drama Series credited the success of the show as it competed with some of today's finest actors and actresses starring in USA's most popular hits. Oh yeah!
The song that gives title to this fic belongs to Missy Higgins and the discographic paraphernalia around her. I think that this ballad contains such beautiful and powerful lyrics that it cannot reach deeper into one's soul only because souls are bottomless.
The other song does not need further presentation, born from the tandem Lennon/McCartney: Hey, Jude.
Spoilers:Basic idea from the season finale but, since I hadn't watched the last two eps of series 2, it's really an AU-fic that starts at the point where the episode 2x06 ('Mind the Bugs don't bite') ended. I assure you I did not change anything from the original in Spanish. Any coincidence with what was portrayed in canon left me speechless :lol:
Genre: Angst-Tragedy. Romance. Friendship.
Rating:I'd say K or K+, just in case, so read at your own risk 'cause I have a thing for the dramatic factor and I won't take responsibility for any hysterical breakdown. ;)
DedicationsTo all the followers of Afterlife and the many supernatural series that were swept away from TV before their time: Millennium, Mysterious Ways, American Gothic, Brimstone… To the fantastic people at thespiritschooseyou board for welcoming me so warmly as one of their own since the first day and encouraging me to publish my first piece in English; Laura, Belle, Jo, Fi, Kim, Cate, Kaye, Steph (and everyone I surely left behind due to my amnesia)… thank you for everything. To my girls, they know who they are, whether they dare to read this new fanfic or not. To Paulino: the only Uncle capable of queuing to get his hands on HP7 and getting custom-made avvies for his oldest niece. To my mother: mum, thanks for coping with my sarcastic comments about your dearest Melinda and not resenting them so much that you did not introduce me to Afterlife. I don't know what I'd do without you. But, above all, I dedicate Nightminds with all my heart and enthusiasm to Stephen Volk, Lesley Sharp and Andrew Lincoln. I'll never forget the stories and the breathtaking acting you offered us for two series. A million thanks.
Note:Please, forgive the mistaken facts that will appear in this fic and that may differ from canon. I tend to forget details when watching the episodes and I'm too lazy to re-watch them so soon, even to look for the info I need for a fic. [/size
Tenderness showed in his eyes, embarrassed like an innocent schoolboy caught red-handedly in the middle of mischief. Suddenly, he looked younger than he really was. Little Josh's shy smile when he waved goodbye at the end of the tunnel, a smile so radiant as the blinding brightness that enveloped the nothingness around them, rescued from the past and drawn briefly across his father's lips.
When he confirmed her suspicions that he was heading to his once again family home, to Jude… jealousy splintered under her skin. She swallowed the irritability that was struggling to be unfairly unleashed against Robert, and gave a nod with a spiritless smile. She was sincere when urging him to return to his wife. He deserved the best and looked exhausted, in need of almost as much quiet sleep as herself. Robert was a good man, charming, with a long life ahead of him, and deserved to rebuild his life with his family. With the woman he had never stopped loving (proven by the eternally faithful wedding band that had never left his ring finger even after the loss, their rupture and her second marriage). With the child that would rapidly settle down in the share of his heart next to the one that was occupied with Joshie's memories, in spite of not being biologically his own.
Alison decided that it was the right time to retire herself, before the Rioja wine that flowed through her veins (she had drunk more than what was usual for her) finally collapsed her brain with more foolish ideas, letting her tongue loose to the point that it dared to say aloud what was really boiling in her guts and scratching her insides. She had to let him go, with all the pain in heart. Now that they had vanquished her demons and they were both free to give themselves the second chance they wished for, she had to allow him the peace of mind to meet the love of his life, who (she was convinced of that) waited wide awake and clinging to the phone for his arrival. She owed him that.
Yes. She needed him. And reproached herself that attitude, her possessiveness over him when Robert had never been hers to begin with. Alison censored her own stupid platonic romanticism, her naiveté, her thoughtlessness, when she forced her jaw clenched to endure the stinging behind her lids every time he mentioned Jude's name. Sometimes she was nearly caught in the act of changing her grimace for an obviously faux smile whenever Barbara interrupted one of their meetings in his office. Nevertheless, she had got quite good at faking and disguising her tantrums (or at least that's what she prayed for) under the mask of polite detachment she wore in front of the other two women who orbited around him like satellites. Their bestest and truest friends, his lover and wife, mother of his only son, and his mentor, colleague and boss.
And there he was. Fixed to the spot at her entrance, under her unwavering stare, while she waited for him to unbolt the door and be gone for the night. Be gone to return to the peace and comforting normalcy of his daily life. But then, the improbable, the impossible, the unthinkable, happened.
It was brief, touching, chaste and almost childlike but feeling the warmth of human touch, of Robert's touch, kindled her spirit. She thanked again to whichever force responsible for making their paths cross two years before for keeping her alive and allowing her to sense the synchronic inertia of their beating hearts, like butterflies flapping their wings ever so delicately inside their chests.
The few seconds his lips remained on the curve of her blushing cheek were enough to make the Shiver return. That pulse of electricity that had chilled her while he held her merely hours before, as desperate as herself to unearth her darkest secret, the one that had fed of her guilt and took root in the desolated purgatory that would become her soul. That terrible piece of her past that had made her who she was now, torturing her for years beyond her wildest and most petrifying visions, bringing her nearer and nearer of delirium and the ultimate self-destruction.
A flash of light blinded her from inside her head, without being projected in her retina. Whispers. Screams. Crying. Heart-wrenching weeping. The unmistakable odour of antiseptics burned in her nostrils, so strong that she recognized it easily as the unique and nauseating smell of a hospital ward. Death in the air, She entertained herself by playing with the threads of life, tangling them up, severing them without mercy. A shrill beep reverberating in her ear threatened to perforate her eardrums.
Alison Mundy jolted awake.
Those… damned premonitions. Strange, unnerving… isolated pieces of a macabre puzzle that she could not figure out, that was never complete until it was too late. Incomprehensible and misplaced images that both tormented her and kept her restless just because she could not ignore the push of her conscience towards the obligation to put those images together and decipher the meaning behind the greater picture. Meanwhile, the visions hammered her sixth senses tirelessly without her being able to identify their origin or the message they tried to communicate. With no clue as to whether they referred to him, herself, whoever's future, his car crash, the derailment she survived… With the uncertainty that those flashes before her eyes could be telling her the story of another person she did not know still, another person that was currently living an undisturbed and merry life somewhere far from her red-painted bathroom.
Frustrated and helpless, that's how she was. Night after night she had been reliving once and again the same fragmented scene. She awoke drenched in sweat in the middle of the coldest night, shaking from the tips of her toes to the wild blond curls of her hair. Her burgundy duvet found her way around her hips or was twisted around her legs, imprisoning her in the suffocating pool of darkness of the bed. She still had the echo of the screams in her ears when she heard herself calling out his name with a broken voice. The sweet caress of his lips lingered exactly over the same trail tears were using to roll down her cheeks. Automatically, her fingers flew of their own accord to the phone but then hesitated above the memory button when she checked the time. Waking a baby up when he had just fallen asleep after his bottle would not make things easier to anyone…
She had not received news from him for days. His mobile phone seemed disconnected or out of service all the time. Was he trying to avoid her? And then the tape of his recording machina had probably rewinded a couple of times with the volume of messages she had left. At first, the situation had not worried her too much. He had done more than enough for her already and she couldn't bring herself to visit him so soon, afraid of being accused of suffering another episode of obsessive-compulsive neurosis. Perhaps he was claiming the space he needed from her, to distance himself from her unsettling and contagious madness.
However, as days went by, fear possessed her. Fear of abandonment, of the thousands of increasingly gloomy explanations for his absence that were growing like weed inside her head during her waking moments. Her dad had stayed enough time to check that she was really okay (that is to say, sane) and that their reconciliation hadn't been a figment of his imagination. They shared a nice touchy-feely afternoon as father and daughter painting her bathroom back in a more conventional fashion of immaculate white. As they cleaned the last and most dramatic remains of her mother's messy artwork they had the chance to reacquaintance with each other and put an end to two decades of disappointment and self-deprecation. Unfortunately, Stan Mundy had to return to Manchester to prevent his landlord from reporting his absence as a way of not paying his rents. Before climbing the bus he embraced her in a tight bear-hug like the ones he used to give her when she was a little girl, making her promise that she'd call regularly and come visit him at Easter.
Her heavy sigh broke the silence in the room. Alison looked at the time on the alarm clock on her nightstand for what seemed like the hundredth time in less than half an hour. 03.14 a.m. Great.
Finally conceding that sleep was not coming back any time soon, she took out a new packet of smarties from the first drawer of the bedside table. Underneath the candy, the shocking headlines in a newspaper cutting cruelly mocked the team of Ghostbusters of Bristol University. She anxiously curled and uncurled a strand of hair in her finger at the memory. After that fiasco, she had convinced herself that she kept the press clipping as a reminder of her naivety and stupidity, the proof of how lowly her gift or curse could fall under the cleverest suggestion and manipulation. It was something to remember that not long ago somehow a twisted journalist enjoyed herself playing games with her mind. That woman had pulled her leg so that she had dragged Robert (and his credibility in the academic community) down with her into the epicentre of the utmost public humiliation. But there was another reason, apart from reprimanding herself, that made her cherish the damned piece, so full of lies and shameful truths. The illustrated feature included the only photo (stolen, of course) she had of him. He looked seriously pissed off and ready to punch the camera out of his way. His brow was frowned and his lips pressed into a thin line. His spine was straight, his head high and he forced his shoulders into that proud posture, full of respectability and efficient professionalism, that he used to adopt around her at the beginning of their… acquaintance. Nothing to do with the humble man, caring and courteous she had got to know over the last two years. A universe apart from the perennial and kind smile he wore in private. Alison traced her index finger over the frameline around the photograph. It was hard. If he hadn't had the support of his greatest friend to mediate in the board of professors, he would have been sacked in no time for devaluing Bristol's University good name.
She shook her head, saddened, and withdrew her longing gaze from the snapshot with reticence, returning her attention to the packet of the colourful round pieces of chocolate. She took one smarty at a time and, placing them into tidy parallel rows, began to classify them carefully by colours following the order of the rainbow spectrum. She realized that she did not have to keep on with that silly ritual but, in some twisted way, that compulsive quirk inherited from her mother had become a part of herself and gave her a sense of the familiarity and the normalcy she longed for. She found that she missed the presence of her mother, after all, and this was her only comfort with every other living person – Robert – out of her life. Old habits die hard, especially when it helped to release the tension and calm down her anxiety. Cleaning, putting in order the perfectly well-organised pieces of décor in her living-room, classifying smarties… kept her busy. Busy and awake, for she did not want to sink in the restless sleep filled with nightmarish visions in which she relived that night in full-colour cinematic motion. The flashes slowed down and froze in time and space to show her details she had not been able to notice at the time due to her emotional block or because they had developed far from her perception field. Like the frailty and weekness in Robert's always serene and educated tone of voice, his inner fight against that constant migraine. The dead sound of an empty pill bottle as it crashed on her kitchen worktop because it clumsily slipped from the sweaty and trembling hands of its owner. She saw it rolling on and on and Robert's despair when he found the missing pills. Hear head was plagued with snaps of the aghast expression that contorted the normally restrained countenance of her friend when she spitefully proposed that the only plausible explanation for her father's sudden wish of meeting his hopeless daughter was that of a terminal illness. That her dad was desperate for putting a closure to their wasted father-daughter relationship and clear off the weight of his conscience. Alison had believed (not without satisfaction) that the darkness that crossed Robert's features that night had been caused by the venom and bile she had injected to her black humourless joke. Now… she was not so sure. She caught the trace of remorse in the depths of his green-eyed gaze. Pig-headed as he was, she doubted very much that his shame derived from the fact of not having respected her wishes, the space and the distance she had kept from her father for years. It was not because she had violated her trust. That new emotion that shadowed his all-mighty confidence was beyond all of those trivialities…
In truth, she knew now that she would be eternally grateful for his royal busy-body attitude. Nevertheless, when she reflected on those tense moments, frightening suspicions arose in her mind. Alison tried to ignore them, to elude the random possibility that they might be real. She hadn't the strength to search for clues and verification, even though a lifetime of experience told her that the dreams would not abandon her until she looked for the truth. On the contrary, the nightmares got more precise and vivid every night. Colours were brighter and shadows thicker than those she could relate to memories or usual dreams. Incoherent mumbling and soft whispers pronounced now words she could identify. Her pulse raced and pounded in her ears, made her hand shake as she fumbled with the smarties. Most of them were pushed from the perfect rows into mayhem of colours and the red ones were thrown from the nightstand. Their fall was soundless and then scattered in every direction onto the maroon fitted carpet, like drops of fresh blood on a coagulated puddle.
Alison did not take the trouble to pick up the mess. Shivering in spite of the central heating, she got up from bed. The chocolate candy crunched under her feet. She could not have cared less for the poor carpet. Screw the carpet. Screw order and normalcy. She needed out. To breathe some fresh air. A walk through the docks would surely clear up her head. Perhaps. No. She couldn't. She was going crazy. That… that could not be healthy. She had never been a lovesick, easily infatuated schoolgirl. Alison Mundy had adapted herself to solitude. Over the years, she had got used to being a walking oddity, a freak of nature whom no man could endure a long-lasting relationship with. Her… husband, the one who cherished her so much, that overwhelmed her with trustful words of affection and 'till death do us apart promises, proved her the point when he left her early one morning after only a year or so of their pathetic and failed marriage. She ran a hand through her frizzy and tangled curls. Somehow, the feeling of imminent danger did not go away but she would take shelter in her lonely armchair in front of the TV. Hoping that the sun would come out quicker that way, while she faked interest in the hundredth midnight re-run of I, Claudius.
As always, she descended the steps one by one, slowly, tentative, as if she expected something unpleasant to assault her at the end of the stairs. The touch of her hand as it slided down the banister both chilled her fingertips and sent intense bolts of electricity in the form of images through her nerve ends to her defenceless brain.
The sudden bitterness of his detachment, the acid scepticism a couple of days after he had confessed he was beginning to really understand the magnitude of her gift, to see beyond what he could feel, touch and measure with his psychotechnic tests. Robert's astonishment as he nearly tripped down her stairs, trying to escape the madness of observing her mother's artwork. Red tiles and porcelain, red applications, red towels and red mirror. Red all around, clouding his already blurry vision, scratching his retinas. The moment he made the decision to contact her father in her stead. His concern for her, as he followed the trail of despair up to her bedroom with the intention of talking sense into her, of persuading her that she should try to have an open discussion with her long-missed dad. The hesitation when he invaded the sanctuary of her privacy, brave and responsible enough to face in person her exploding rage. The dizziness that stopped him in his tracks and forced him to grasp the wooden banister, like a castaway clinging to his lifeboat, until his knuckles turned whit and sweat broke in his brow due to the effort of sustaining his weight on shaky weakened legs.
The efficient voice, sweetly compassionate and committed, of a woman speaking to him. Educated but obviously tactless when communicating the bad news that started the gears of catastrophe.
You have a brain tumor. It's located on your brainstem. Malignant. Incurable. Inoperable. Intractable. Worst pronostic of all.
Everything spinned in a macabre merry-go-round. The universe collapsed in an endless spiral, prepared to collide against the absolute nothingness.
The epiphany was like a chill that crept up her spine and made her eyes open wide. Tears did not find obstacles anymore and flooded the bluest blue of her shocked stare.
No. No. Nononononononononono. Couldn't be.
Couldn't. Just couldn't.