A/N: My first 'Being Human' fic, hence how ridiculously short it is (1100 words). And, since I haven't seen the pilot, it ignores everything from that universe. Set pre 1X01, nonetheless.
'Never go to sleep on a quarrel.' Said someone. My gran, I think; it was certainly the sort of crazy-useless thing she would say. Never mind that; I'd gone to sodding eternal rest on a quarrel, and I couldn't even remember what it was about.
Sleep never struck me as a sociable activity while I was alive. But now I realise how wrong that was. Sleep, even alone, binds people together. It's part of that whole richness of being, that unity of shared experience that keeps things moving, keeps things sane.
You wake, you eat, you work, you fuck, you argue, you sleep.
At least I could still manage the arguing.
Last night's one had originated, as usual, over the kitchen sink. It was growling again, and spitting at us, and no-one wanted to risk doing the washing-up in it. So Mitchell tried to draw lots, and George pointed out he had to be out by nine, and why the hell couldn't I do it, seeing as how I can't even burn. I told him that I didn't sign up for this so I could be his bloody housemaid, and George said actually no-one signed up for this, and wasn't 'this' what I'd always wanted anyway, a normal life in this house doing normal things, and- well. Things were shouted. Crockery got thrown. Platitudes were offered, mostly by Mitchell. In the end I wound up on the sitting-room floor, watching University Challenge and crying over my failed arts degree while Mitchell did the dishes. At around five he joined me for breakfast- I made the toast, he ate it- before dashing off to his early morning shift, telling me to apologise when George got in.
I cleared up, and formulated several caustic remarks about returning with your tail between your legs, all of which sounded better in my head.
The sink growled. The post arrived.
And George didn't come back.
For the first few hours I rationalised things. He's fine. He was angry. He's still angry. Probably went straight into work to avoid me. Probably already there. But that's the thing. About being dead. Rationalisation sort of goes out the window.
By eleven o'clock I was frantic. Mitchell's mobile kept going to answerphone, whereas George's was still on the hall table. I rang it anyway, just to make myself feel better. Every time someone walked by outside I froze, expecting the police, or maybe a mob of villagers with pitchforks, but no-one stopped. That's another thing. Death pretty much removes you from most social circles. People just give up.
At long last there was a tap at the door. I ran to open it and George sidled in, wrapped in a baby-blue dressing gown and clutching his right arm. A crimson stain was already spreading down his side.
"No, George," said George, but his face was so pale I didn't even think to smile.
"Wait there, okay? Don't. Move."
Thank God one of us is paranoid about personal hygiene. The bathroom cabinet was crammed with disinfectant, along with a good-sized roll of gauze and a box of surgical tape. I grabbed the lot and staggered back downstairs.
"The TV wasn't saying anything about animal attacks, so I thought you might have been locked in somewhere, and I kept trying to call Mitchell but he didn't pick up, and…"
"Annie. We discussed this. No calls from beyond the grave. They make you turn your phones off in hospitals anyway."
"You know, no-one actually believes that."
I dumped my load on the sofa and grabbed a wad of cotton, upending the bottle of Dettol into it. George threw me a dubious glance, wrinkling his nose.
"That smells horrible."
"Stings like hell too, as I recall. Ready? One, two-"
George made a noise somewhere between a snarl and a yelp. For a moment I thought he was actually going to attack me, but he just shut his eyes and muttered "Bugger" through gritted teeth. Underneath all the blood were at least three shallow gashes; below those, a cluster of deeper puncture wounds, still oozing.
"…bit myself, yeah. Which, in retrospect, was probably a, a bit of a stupid thing to do, but anyway."
"George, what the hell?"
"Wh-what d'you mean, 'what the hell'? What the hell else should I do? Let it roam free? Cos we all know how well that works, don't we…"
I'm not going to get drawn into this. I'm not.
"You should phone Reception. Get Mitchell to meet you in A&E…"
"And tell them what? That I-I shut the car door on it? Nononono. I'm staying here."
"Well, you've got to show up sometime. Say that you've- just bought a pit bull or something."
"Weirdest-looking pit bull I've ever seen."
I sighed. "Trying to help here."
"Sorry." George glanced down at his knees. "And, you know, sorry. For…last night."
"S'okay." There was a pause. My attention turned to George's attire.
"Where'd you get the…?"
"Someone's washing line."
"Well it's nice. Matches your eyes."
George blinked. "…Thanks?"
After about five minutes I peeled back the wad of gauze, wincing as a fresh trickle of blood ran down his forearm.
"Jesus Christ, go easy on yourself next time, okay?"
George laughed shakily, pushing up his glasses with his good hand.
"M…maybe I should put it all in a shot glass, we can leave it out for Mitchell when he gets home."
"That," I said, "is gross."
Mitchell returned about five hours later, as I was pondering the best way to get bloodstains out of leather. He put both hands on my shoulders and pulled me into a tight embrace.
"George didn't come in. Is he…?"
"He's okay. Chewed most of his right arm off, but he's okay."
"Mm. He's sleeping it off right now, so…" I put a finger to my lips, gesturing to where George lay curled up on the sofa, twitching a little in his sleep.
Mitchell dropped his keys on the hall table and stretched.
"I'll get us some dinner. Has he eaten?"
"Apart from his arm?"
Mitchell crossed over and tapped the unconscious George on the forehead. "Hey, Moony. Come watch Newsnight. Curry to follow"
George opened one, groggy eye. "'Moony'?"
"What, you never read Harry Potter? C'mon, it's that politician you hate."
Mitchell grinned. "Does it matter?" From across the room, he caught my eye and mouthed, it'll be alright.
I smiled back, feebly. Thank you.
One more thing. About being dead.
You learn to live with it.