Wedged between the fridge, which she had managed to move after much grumbling about boys who were useless most the time, and the wall, Annie scrubs the floor and ponders the afterlife, as it were.
She imagines, as a child sitting in church and listening to the pastor rumble on in his gravelly big voice, that she'd focused more on the bits that involved all the ice cream you could eat and getting to stay up as late as you wanted to watch the late night shows on the telly. She grins to herself, picturing that ten-year-old Annie, all babbling and knees and curiosity, and tells her former self you left out the bits were your flatmate accidentally destroys your house and your fiancée tells you with a blissful smile that murdering you was one of the greatest acts of his little life.
"Afraid the dust was going to rise up in the dead of night to smother us all?" Mitchell's voice asks from somewhere in the vicinity of the doorway, all warm humour and exasperated affection.
Annie yelps and barely manages to avoid popping out of sight, a reaction which has been almost involuntary of late. Instead she concentrates on staying there, anchored by the wet floor beneath her, the warmth radiating from the coils on the back of the fridge, the damp sticky feeling of the cleaning gloves against her cold skin. She drops her scrub brush in the bucket near her with a final-sounding thump and wiggles out of her spot to rise to her feet and whirl to pull a face at Mitchell.
"The thing I want to know is, how does so much dust and dirt end up underneath the fridge? Does it all work to get so far underneath there?"
Mitchell shrugs, one of his laconic don't ask me, I'm just an undead vampire too busy to ponder these great mysteries of life shrugs and says, "For a ghost living with two supernatural creatures, you wonder about the strangest things." But he says it with one side of his mouth tilting up into the smile he saves just for her, a mixture of affection and slight befuddlement and amusement.
Annie grins. "Somebody has to think about these things, with you and George off terrorizing the people at the hospital and generally being too busy living." It starts off as a joke, but trails off into sadness, and her face contorts into an expression that is both anger at herself for being so maudlin and sadness for herself for being so tied to this house that she loves so.
Mitchell has his arms wrapped around her before she even notices him crossing the space between them. The flannel of his shirt is soft against her cheek when she presses her face into his chest; she grimaces at the lack of heartbeat against her ear and then smiles just a bit, imagining all those clichés about love coming from the heart. Which makes her wonder, do vampires have clichés? She snorts to herself, the sound muffled by Mitchell's chest. His fingers tighten slightly at the sound, wrapping tendrils of her hair around his cool fingers.
"Are you laughing at my shirt?"
Annie leans backwards, titling her head to look at him. "No, just thinking about random things again." She stops, contemplating, and a slow smile spreads across her face. "Though, now that you mention it, isn't plaid flannel a bit out of the vampire dress code?"
Mitchell rolls his eyes and makes a show of letting her go and huffing off to the counter to prepare his first cup of morning coffee. "Not even we vampires have enough satin capes to last us through laundry day."
Annie snorts with laughter at the mental image of Mitchell, clad in a ruffly top and billowing cape, cursing the old washing machines in the neighborhood Laundromat as they eat his change yet again.
He arches an eyebrow at her and grins, picturing it with her, saunters over to the still out-of-place fridge and takes the carton of milk out, taking a swig of it before pouring the rest in his mug.
"Someday George is going to catch you doing that and get all squealy and then kill you."
"Why'm I killing Mi'chell?" George asks, yawning, as he shambles into the kitchen. His glasses are slightly askew upon his nose, and Annie wants nothing more than to squash him to her, this baby-faced sleepy-eyed version of him.
"Because he's a member of the undead evil hordes of neighbors who don't put their rubbish bins out on schedule?" Annie inquires jokingly of the air around her.
"Hrm." George mumbles, and slumps into a battered chair at the kitchen table, leans his forehead against its wooden top, mumbling something about late shifts and Nina and what sounds suspiciously like jelly doughnuts.
Mitchell and Annie look at each other, neither quite sure whether to laugh at this or be confused, and then decide to write it off as typical early morning George babble.
Mitchell finishes making his cup of coffee and carries it to the table, sliding into the chair across from George. Annie, remembering her own hatred of early mornings before work, takes pity on George and makes a mug of tea and sets it next to his ear.
"Thnks." He says, mashing the word into the table. After a few seconds he raises his head and takes a sip of the liquid, sighing at its familiar warmth and sweet taste. He wakes further after that, adjusting his glasses just so and leaning forward to discuss the day's plans and the foibles of working with the terrifying A&E night shift nurses, while Annie putters about making them French toast because cooking for them is almost as good as cooking for herself.
The three of them sit at the table, the boys scarfing down bites of toast while Annie watches with a half-smile, chin propped in her hand. The discussion turns to the Shakespeare's nightly drink specials and the rumour Mitchell heard that some ghosts on the east of the city are setting up a social club, and an hour passes without them noticing. Eventually the conversation ends when George happens to glance at his watch, yelp "work!," and send the two men into flurries of motion. They set their dishes in the sink and as one say they've things to do, George hurrying to the door and stuffing his arms into his coat while Mitchell wanders upstairs in search of his bags of dirty laundry.
Annie stands and follows after them, and calls, "Could you help me move the fridge back before you go?"
But George just tosses a sorry over his shoulder and disappears into the street outside, door clicking shut behind him. Mitchells lopes back down the stairs, two large duffels thrown over his shoulders. "Mrs. Nolan in number 4 is going to have all the working machines if I don't get there soon." He says, grabbing his keys from their hook on the wall without pausing. And he's out the door, while Annie gapes at his retreating leather-clad back.
"You're useless, you big wanker!" She wails finally, leaning out from the kitchen entrance on the halfbaked reasoning that this will amplify the sound of her fury.
"I heard that!" He replies, the shout muffled by the door and the fact that he's two houses down and moving fast. "I'd cry if I thought you'd care!"
Annie can't help but laugh at that, though she rolls her eyes while doing it, then turns to retreat back into the kitchen. She listens to the radio while she washes the dishes and wipes down the stovetop and counters, singing loudly and off-key.
It's not so bad, this thing called afterlife, really, she thinks, shaking her hips to the song as she moves around the kitchen.
Now, if only her flatmates weren't so useless.