Annie knows.

How could she not? Now George has moved out (officially, if not really), she's here with Mitchell the whole time. Except she's not, because he's never here.

She knows where he is.

Well, she'd have to be pretty stupid not to. She knows what his shifts are, often better than he himself does. He's been rather distractible of late. And if he were with his Lucy, she would definitely have heard about it. Be they vampire, werewolf or plain old human, boys never fail to boast about girls.

(That, she has decided, must be the one universal constant, since death and taxes don't exactly apply to her anymore.)

So he's not at work, not out dating, and certainly not home with her. He's not with George, since George is either with her or Sam, and Mitchell doesn't approve of Sam.

He's with the vampires.

At first, Annie doesn't want to believe it. The vampires terrify her. She doesn't honestly believe they can hurt her, but they can hurt Mitchell or George. Worse, they can drag Mitchell back.

Annie's not a fool. She knows Mitchell's killed before, and she knows the blood still tempts him horribly. She remembers him coming home from a day working in the emergency room and collapsing on the sofa.

"Oh thank God," he had muttered.

"Hello to you too," she'd chirped. "What are you going on about?"

He'd had his eyes closed as he answered. "You don't know what a relief it is to be in a house where one occupant doesn't have blood and the other isn't human enough to smell tasty. God, I nearly killed about twenty people this afternoon."

She'd been so shaken that she'd used up all the teabags in the cupboard.

Annie sometimes wonders why it is that Mitchell first considered going clean. She's heard a little about Josie, the girl from the sixties as she thinks of her, but it seems to her that Josie was just the final push. Where did the original thought come from? Where did he get the idea that he could even survive without blood?

She knows that he clings to the ideal image of humanity. She knows that he doesn't like that image tampered with, and that he needs that image to give him something to work towards. Consequently, she's horribly afraid that it would be all too easy for him to decide that humanity wasn't worth it, and he was going to revert to being a proper vampire.

Although he's over a hundred years old and she's barely twenty five, Annie knows beyond all doubt that he needs her and George. They ground him. He needs someone on the outside to know what he is and accept it.

That's not enough for her to confront him about his whereabouts. Because she's just a girl in the grand scheme of things, because she's scared, because she's got her own problems to deal with, because he's Mitchell and she wants to believe that he can take care of himself and of her, as he always has done, she does nothing. She buries her head in the proverbial sand and hopes he knows what he's doing.

Then there's George, and although in her heart of hearts she thinks he's going too fast with Sam, she hasn't actually got the heart to tell him so. In a way, she thinks it's a good thing that he's moving on with his life, the way that she never can. If this relationship falls flat on its (potentially hairy) face, then at least he'll have learned something, the way that every human does when they come out of a disastrous relationship.

In contrast to Mitchell, she doesn't think George needs them. Or at least, she thinks he doesn't think he does, even if that sentence is a bit complicated. She reckons he would quite like to leave them behind, the ghost and the vampire who constantly remind him that he's a werewolf. All he wants is to be human, and they're not letting him do that. Sure, he likes them as people, but not as, well, as a ghost and a vampire.

Even the house feels less and less comfortable, and more and more restricting. There is nothing here that she hasn't seen. When George brings home a new book or CD, she actually gets excited just from deciding where it should live. She's almost forgotten what it's like, being able to go out to the shops and interact with people, or go out to the pub and interact with people, or pop round to a friend's and interact with people, or go to work and interact with people.

There's a theme to that train of thought.

Her whole world is George and Mitchell, and they're drifting away. Even though Mitchell will be here for eternity, he's not a constant. Even though George always understood what it was like, losing everything twice, he doesn't understand this endless ennui.

And all the time, she's tiring. She feels less like a restless spirit and more like a weary one, becoming more and more alone. She starts to see what Sykes means about watching the world through a glass wall. She feels like the ghost she was a year ago, alone and unseen. She feels like what she always imagined a ghost to be, before she became one.

Perhaps it's time for her to go.

She wonders why she isn't afraid of the door anymore. Maybe because it's her choice, maybe because she knows it's a natural progression, maybe because she's missing the idea of moving on.

Whatever the reason, George and Mitchell won't miss her. Not for long, anyway.

For once, Annie doesn't make any tea today, while they're both out at work. Instead, she hunts the house for abandoned mugs, collects them all, washes them up and puts them away. It's not a beginning. It's not even the end of a beginning. But it is, perhaps, the beginning of the end.