It is Friday. I celebrate with another chapter. And Mitchell. I love all you guys who are still reading this - your perseverance is applaudable and it's like chocolate fuel to me.
I have also conquered NaNoWriMo, people. It was my first time doing it and I wrote fanfiction. Does this make me a bad person? Anyway, it means that you'll see it when I've got it all cleaned up and this story finished. *excited*
Annie followed George to the kitchen, all but vibrating gleefully. "Oh my God," she said, excitedly emphasising each word. "Drop dead gorgeous and American." She continued to coo over the flirtatious man and George sighed over how predictable she was, yet inwardly grateful that she had momentarily forgotten about her murderer of a fiancé. He set the kettle on and began to pull out various teas from the cupboard to the background soundtrack of Annie happily carrying on about the strangers.
"And the girl, what's-her-name-Rose, ugh. She really needs to give her hair a do over, I mean, her roots are showing dreadfully. Don't they have at least one proper salon in London?" She stepped to her left to allow George to grab a mug from the sink and rinse it out. "It's enough to make my own hair hurt just looking at it. Oh, and the Northern bloke, who was he? What's the doctor's name, George?"
He blinked, trying to rerun the last few seconds of one-sided flowing babble. "Ah…the doctor. Um, well..."
"You don't know who he is?" she said curiously, eyeing her cautious-to-a-fault flatmate.
"The Doctor, that's all he said," George said, slightly helpless. "Just the Doctor." Annie whirled about and peered suspiciously through the inset kitchen window at the three people occupying their living room.
"Right then," she said firmly, "recon."
"What…Annie, no, wait!" George hissed, unable to stop her from marching confidently out of the small room. He pressed his head against the cool surface of the refrigerator with a muffled groan and closed his eyes in frustration. It's an exercise in futility to stop Annie from doing something she's decided to do, he told himself, and her being a ghost and all doesn't help any.
Shoving away from the fridge, he turned back to the teas and surveyed them critically. "Which ones would they like?" he mused quietly and settled down to preparing the hot drinks.
Jack heard George muttering in the kitchen and his ears pricked curiously; either George was used to talking to himself or there was another person in there with him. From what Jack could make out, it sounded like a conversation with one person on mute.
He was about to shoot the Doctor a subtle inquiry, see if it wasn't just him catching the eccentric young man's supposed conversation, when the Doctor shifted. It was small, his left shoulder dipping two centimetres and half-lidded eyes sliding to a spot in the entryway off his lowered shoulder, close-shorn head barely tilted languidly away to his right.
Jack had keen ears, but the Doctor had apparently caught something he hadn't. He swallowed back what he was going to say and watched the lanky alien, aware of Rose rising from beside him on the sofa to look closer at the wooden case filled with books standing in a corner of the modest room. The Doctor shifted again, head ticking minutely to the left as the unseen source of his interest moving from beside him to a point close behind Rose, running her fingers over books, and then his light blue gaze turned to the sofa arm Jack was leaning against.
His eyes flickered to Jack's and the Captain asked Should I look? with a blink, indicating the sofa arm he had propped himself comfortably against. The Doctor's eyes narrowed a tiny bit for a second and Jack didn't turn, knowing that the tall alien would tell him what was so intriguing later. Hopefully. It was hard to tell at times what he'd do, Jack mused, a grin aimed into the unfilled space before him.
Rose exclaimed over a familiar title and Jack's attention focussed on her smile as she turned, holding a dog-eared children's book.
Annie huffed when the American's head turned away from her; she could stare at his absolutely stunning face all day, all blue eyes, ravishing smile and glossy black hair. If American men in general looked as delicious as Captain Jack Harkness, Bristol wouldn't be able to hold her. Well, it wouldn't have been able to hold her, Annie remanded, a wistful expression floating across her face. She didn't exactly have the widest range of choices in places to go.
"Hey, my mum read me this when I was a kid," Rose said happily, her sunny smile all but blinding the ghost perched on the arm of the sofa in Rose's former spot. She held up a small, floppy book and said fondly, "I haven't seen this book in years—I think we lost it in a move. It was my favourite story."
"It was mine too," Annie said, a similar faraway gaze in her eyes, remembering her mother's voice lilting over the words while young Annie eagerly turned the pages. Rose crossed the room to return to her elected seat and Annie quickly moved. It wasn't like the blond girl would have bumped her, but it was nothing short of awkward and really weird for someone to walk through you.
She drifted back to stand next to the lanky doctor, all ears, short, short hair, and leather coat. She watched him watch the younger two on the couch, Rose gently flipping through the pages and reminiscing on the Captain's shoulder. The older man didn't show much emotion on his craggy face except a particular fondness in his eyes when he looked at his friends, and, despite his car wreck of a face, Annie found herself liking the taciturn man.
The smell of tea drew her back to the kitchen and she grinned at George from the doorway.
"So, what's the doctor's name?" George said, an amused sigh slipping between his words. Annie's eyes grew wide and she hastily replayed the light conversation she'd "overheard" between the three strangers.
"Um, I-I dunno," she admitted, colour rising in her cheeks.
George picked up the prepared tea and walked past her with a humourous light in his warm blue eyes. "The American is that cute?" he teased quietly and then called ahead over Annie's indignant snort, "Right, tea for Rose and Captain Harkness."
"Please, call me Jack." Annie groaned. For that lovely leer to be directed at her, Jack'd have to see her first and that wasn't going to be happening. Well, she could at least enjoy it from the sidelines.
Annie walked back into the living room as George handed the second cup to Jack, who took it with a broad, pleasant smile, revealing perfect white teeth, and Annie gave in to the urge to pout like a spoiled seven-year-old. It was really unfair.
"So what hospital are you at, Doctor…?" George went fishing while Rose and Jack finished their tea, looking at the man leaning against the wall by the stairs.
"Not that kind of a doctor." The response was automatic, as though he was asked that often, and George nodded awkwardly.
He'd been asking questions as casually as he could for the last few minutes and they'd replied in friendly tones with genuine, open expressions, yet he couldn't help but feel that they were collectively throwing up a well-practiced smokescreen, fielding him with ease.
Two baffling minutes later, the Doctor straightened and said, "Lovely meeting you, George Sands, hope to see you around—we have to be off."
Jack and Rose didn't trade glances, simply mimicking the Doctor's move. Probably unconsciously, George thought, and rose from the armchair to say bye and show them to the door. Jack shook his hand with the smile that was making George increasingly uncomfortable and stepped out the door, blinking in a rare shot of sunshine and waiting for Rose behind him. She shook his hand with an infectious grin that seemed to hold back a fountain of delighted giggles and George couldn't help but smile back.
George offered his hand to the Doctor, last in line out the door, and for a strange second the man stood there, pale gaze flicking from George's eyes to his hand and back to his eyes.
"Pleasure, George Sands," he said and took his hand, mimicking the moment when they'd shaken hands not too long before. This time George noticed how cool the other man's hand was, after Jack and Rose's warm grasp.
"Doctor," he said, bobbing his head shortly. A smirk passed over the Doctor's face and his glance darted behind George.
"Nice to meet you too," he said cryptically and popped out the door, closing it after him. George's eyebrows collided and he swiveled.
Annie was frozen behind him, eyes doing their level best to burst out of her head.
"He looked right at me, George. The Doctor was talking to me."
George's body refused to move other than allowing his head turning to stare wide-eyed at the closed door.
"Doctor? Doctor! Who were you talking to?"
"There's a ghost, Rose."
The rough, Northern voice was smug, the adage "the cat who ate the canary" popping into Mitchell's head to fit the unseen man's tone. He tucked his hands deeper into his coat's pockets, hunching his shoulders against the sunlight dancing over his back, and continued to listen. Mitchell generally didn't like to eavesdrop, but "ghost" had caught his attention and he didn't recognize the voices.
"A ghost? Seriously Doc?"
"D'you mean Gelth?"
"Nope, an actual ghost. And don't call me Doc."
This was a bit more interesting than having to stay past shift end cleaning up vomit at the hospital. Mitchell's long stride ate up the pavement and he rounded the corner, the last one before home.
"I thought they didn't exist-whoa!" Mitchell jerked his head up and swiftly sidestepped a black-haired man with an American accent, who had been walking closest to the inside of the corner. The girl, Rose, young and blond, caught at the American's sleeve as he also stepped out of Mitchell's way.
"Sorry 'bout that," the American grinned sheepishly.
Mitchell nodded, accepting the brief apology. "S'alright," he said with a quick shrug. He glanced at the one member of the small group that hadn't spoken yet, the tall bloke with ears an elephant would covet. The reticent man had ice-blue eyes and they were fixed on him, sharp and seeing…seeing Mitchell. He barely stopped himself from shuddering, from bristling at the stranger.
"Sorry," Mitchell said and turned his back hastily, hurrying toward the flat. He imagined he could feel the Northerner's gaze on his shoulders, although he'd heard the trio turn the corner and walk away, and his pace lengthened even more, wanting nothing more to walk inside and be home.
He slid the key into the lock and opened the door, stepping up into the entry. One foot in and one foot out, Mitchell saw George and Annie. They looked shellshocked, standing right in front of the door, staring blankly at him.
"George? Annie? What is it?" They blinked slowly, not responding, and Mitchell hurriedly closed the door.
"Guys, what happened?"