Written to fit with the Being Human pilot episode, though re-imagined with our OT3 of Lenora, Aidan and Russell. The details in the story are drawn from the pilot, so although it doesn't seem possible from later episodes that Annie was ever invisible to them, it's clear from the dialogue in the pilot that she remained so for a few days before they found her. I guess, as her determination to get them out of her house increased, her power and her corporeality did too. I think parts of the dialogue I took from the pilot (maybe not in this part but later parts) but it was only snippets.
I hope you enjoy!
She watched them, from her hiding place at the foot of the stairs: two young men.
That had surprised her, actually. Previously, it had only been couples: a couple, another couple, then a group of students who were also couples and lastly another couple. Did her house say 'coupleyness' to others she wondered? It had to her and Owen, of course. Once, a long time ago….
The last couple had been pregnant, which she felt had just been adding insult to injury. Fatal injury. They'd even begun measuring up the spare room to turn it into a nursery for their imminent sprog - the room that she and Owen had talked about turning into a nursery of their own.
Well, she couldn't let that stand. She'd seen them off in the same way she'd done for all the others, her freaking-people-out skills perfectly honed over the last year. She knew all the tricks best designed to drive them slowly crazy with terror. Not that she did them any real harm; it was the natural human aversion to things they could not explain, and also to the Undead, which she played on. She made sure the 'nursery' became a no-go-zone. And the staircase. She had felt no pity for them. The man, she congratulated herself, had been on the verge of a nervous breakdown by the time he had finally given in and got himself and his heavily pregnant partner out of the house. Which was good because she didn't think she could have taken on a baby. She was not, after all, heartless. Well, technically she was, but that didn't mean she didn't have feelings, didn't mean she didn't ache with longing for Owen, didn't feel the pain of their separation.
Where was he? Why didn't he come back? Why let their house out to these strangers? Their house! Their little love-nest… Could he not bear to live in the place where she had died? She supposed his heart had been broken too, poor Owen. If only he would come!
But he never did.
Instead, two days ago, two boys had moved in.
The stupid letting agent woman had thought they were a gay couple, but watching them now, laughing and goofing about over the washing up, she did not detect any … thing between them. No kissing, and no touching. And anyway, they had set their stuff in separate rooms. Strangely, they had both decided to leave her room untouched, though that may have been to do with the pink walls. Definitely not gay.
One of the boys was Irish. His name was Mitchell. He had chosen to spread his belongings about the nursery. He had wavy, dark hair, and dark, sort-of-brooding good looks. You might even say he was pretty, and perhaps he thought so too, as there was a kind of laid-back arrogance about him. Yet he was not vain, as many handsome men are. He didn't preen in front of the mirror, or hole himself up in the bathroom for hours in the morning. He was more a roll-out-of-bed-and-pull-on-yesterday's-keks-kind-of-guy: scruffy, untidy, with big boots and tight black jeans. There was also some curious penchant for fingerless gloves, but that might just be because the house was cold.
The house was always cold, she thought wryly; she saw to that.
The other boy wore glasses and an air of awkward, excitable geekiness. This boy's name was George. He wasn't 'cool' like the Irish lad. He bounded around the house in jeans and Berghaus fleeces and the kind of trainers preferred by Engineering students. His ears stuck out, ridiculously so. All the better for hanging his glasses on, she thought with a snigger. George had taken the poky little room at the back of the house, the one with the gnome-wallpaper. In contrast to Mitchell, his room was very tidy, almost neurotically so. He had even alphabetised his bookshelves. She suspected that he might be a little anally retentive. He was younger than Mitchell, she thought, from the way he seemed to defer to Mitchell like an older brother, the way Mitchell appeared to indulge him like a fond parent. There was a kind of innocence about George, a naivety, which made him seem rather endearing.
Mitchell and George. Boys.
She watched them, and she listened to their conversations. They didn't see her lurking in the shadows of the house, watching and listening. They seemed … well, sort of nice really. Kind of sweet. Different to the others, though perhaps that was just because they were boys. She shook herself. What was she thinking? They might be – nice – but they had to go! Just like all the others! She didn't want to share her house with them. She didn't want them invading her space, putting their things where hers should be, making it seem like the house belonged to them. It was her house. And besides, if she did not get rid of them, then how could Owen ever come back to her? No, she would just have to get on with it and get them out, just like the others.
In the meantime, she would watch them. Watch them and find their weak-spots, find out the things that made them fearful, the things that made them twitch and tremble, doubt their sanity, the things that had the power to reach around their hearts with an icy claw. Yes, she would watch them.
The kettle boiled.
"Tea?" George asked Mitchell, removing two mugs from the freshly-washed-up pile.
"Thanks," replied Mitchell, and reached for the biscuit tin before settling down at the kitchen table. "What time does your shift finish?" he asked between mouthfuls of biscuit.
George placed a mug of tea in front of Mitchell. "Eight," he sighed, dropping into a chair beside him. "You?"
A silence followed in which they both sipped their tea and contemplated the tablecloth.
"This is nice," said George, after a little while.
"Nice, how?" asked Mitchell, regarding him with amusement.
"You know - here, us, living like – well, like …" he made a helpless gesture.
"Like we're just ordinary human beings?" suggested Mitchell, grinning over the rim of his mug.
"Yes. Like we're … human. Nothing … else." He wore a look of triumph.
Mitchell gave a low chuckle.
This was a puzzling conversation, thought Annie. What else could they be but human? They were certainly not ghosts: they ate, they slept, they washed and went to the loo and they farted just like humans. Ghosts did not do any of those things.
"How is the, er, the not-killing-people-thing coming along, anyway?" George asked in a casual tone.
"Pretty good, pretty good…" Mitchell answered, nodding, though not quite meeting his friend's eyes.
"And you're not – you haven't been tempted to, er, bite anyone recently?"
"You're perfectly safe, George," said Mitchell, rolling his eyes. "We've been through this. Your blood is cursed. It holds no – attraction for me." He shot George a roguish grin.
"I didn't mean me!" George protested. "I meant – well, we've just moved in. It could become very awkward if any of the neighbours should start dying mysteriously."
"I've told you," Mitchell replied with a note of irritation in his voice. "I'm through with that. I can fight it. It's just a matter of will power." He drained the last of his tea and replaced the mug on the table with a little more force than he perhaps intended.
"But you said to me that it was like an addiction," George persisted. "This is like cold turkey for you and unfortunately there's no twelve-step program for blood-addiction, it is just you and your will power. I'm just worried that you might have a … a relapse, that's all."
"Well don't," said Mitchell, pushing his chair back and standing up. "Don't worry. I've got it under control." He reached for his coat. "C'mon. We'll be late."
George gathered up the mugs and placed them in the sink, then followed Mitchell. The door slammed behind them.
Annie was alone again. Alone with some very unsettling thoughts….
So, Mitchell was a killer, with an addiction to blood? And George had been frightened that he might bite one of their neighbours! What, like a vampire? she scoffed. And George was safe from his friend's bloodlust because his blood was somehow cursed…? What the hell did that mean? She had liked these boys! She had thought them nice. But one of them was a killer and the other his accomplice! Of course, they couldn't harm her, she was dead already, but she was not going to let them violate her house with their murderous ways.
She went upstairs. Now they were gone for the day she had nothing to occupy her, except snooping around in their bedrooms. It would amuse her for a while, and she might also find some clues about who or what they were. Detective Inspector Annie Sawyer, on the case!
She walked through the door into Mitchell's room. The curtains were still drawn, lending the room a gloomy, cave-like appearance, an effect added to by the slightly fetid smell that lingered there. She wrinkled her nose. Despite not actually breathing any more, her sense of smell remained perfectly in tact. The room was a tip, with discarded clothes and magazines, coffee mugs, even a (mercifully empty) pizza box, strewn across the floor and bed. Briefly, she considered tidying up, but then discarded the idea when she spied a pair of boxers amidst the debris. She gave a snort of disgust. This boy needed a mother! Instead, she flung the curtains wide and opened the window to give the room some air.
She was just turning to leave when she glimpsed a battered shoebox under the bed. Something about it roused her curiosity. She knelt down and dragged it out. An elastic band had been used to secure the lid. Yanking it off, she lifted the lid. She didn't know what she had expected to find in there – mementoes of his murder victims perhaps – but she was pleased with what she did discover: photos. Most of them old, very old. None of Mitchell, though, nor of his family, whom he had presumably left behind in Ireland.
There were some of a lovely girl in sixties garb – mini-dress and knee-high boots. She had bobbed brown hair and large blue eyes. In every picture she was laughing and smiling into the camera, her face touched by an expression that Annie knew well. She was posing for her lover, Annie was sure of it. On the back of these photos was her name in faded blue ink: Josie, 1969.
Then there were some very old black and white photos of a family who, judging from their clothes, had lived about a hundred years ago. They were formal, posed, studio-shots: a man standing, with one arm around the shoulders of a seated woman and another of two girls, sisters probably, with thick, dark ringlets, and laced-up boots. There was also one of a young soldier, posing proudly in his uniform. On the back was written: Lance-Sergeant J. Mitchell, 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, June 1915. So, 'Mitchell' was a family name, then. Perhaps this was the ancestor he had been named for; she thought she detected a likeness.
Another was a portrait of a young woman, very beautiful, dressed all in black, with a high collar like they used to wear in the late Victorian period, and holding a sleeping baby in her lap. The woman's expression, however, was not one of joyful new-motherhood, but was solemn and sad. Annie could not draw her eyes from the picture. Something about it held a fascination for her, though she could not explain what. She turned it over. There, in very faded ink was written: My mother. Whose mother though? Someone long dead, she imagined. But why would Mitchell want to keep such a photo? What connection did he have to the sad lady?
She sighed. There didn't seem to be anything here to connect Mitchell with murder, only a peculiar attachment to old photos of people who had lived and died long before he was born.
She had been about to tidily replace the shoebox under the bed when another idea seized her. The floor was too messy for Mitchell to notice if she scattered the photos there, so she peeled back the duvet and tipped the shoebox photos over his sheets. Then she pulled the duvet back over them again. He would get a surprise when he got into bed that night, and he would know that someone had been amongst his personal things. That should creep him out!
She went into George's room. He kept it scrupulously tidy. The bed was pristine, as if he had not slept in it at all, though she knew he had because she had watched him sleeping last night. Only out of boredom. And actually it had proved quite entertaining as George was a fitful sleeper: he thrashed around all night, muttering feverishly all the while, wrapping himself ever more tightly in his bedclothes until eventually he had actually tumbled right out of the little single bed and woken himself up. (Mitchell, in contrast, slept like a man with a clear conscience: he was as quiet as the grave all night).
She poked around at his things. He didn't keep any pictures of his family either. Maybe they'd fallen out. She considered rearranging his books, just to annoy him, but it seemed that Mitchell had beaten her to it. She thought about upending his laundry basket all over the floor, but decided she did not want to have to look at his pants. Instead, she settled for dragging all his crisply-ironed clothes from their hangers and dropping them on the floor. That ought to wind him up, she thought with grim satisfaction.
On a nail by the dresser George had hung a calendar: a lunar calendar. She had seen one of these before: at college, her housemate Megan had had one. But Megan had been a hippy, earth-mother type who had been convinced that her periods were influenced by the moon's gravitational pull (Megan had never been able to satisfactorily explain why the women of Britain were not all 'on' at the same time, though, if this were true).
Strange that a man would be interested in the lunar cycle. Perhaps he was an amateur astronomer? Or a burglar! Burglars liked to work on the nights of the full-moon. She remembered Owen telling her that once. Perhaps this was connected to Mitchell's killing-people-thing… Did they work as a team? Or simply cover for each other?
She huffed a sigh. So much for detective work! On its own, the lunar calendar did not add up to much, but she decided it was the most useful clue she had uncovered.
She went to the pink bedroom. This used to be the room she shared with Owen. They had chosen the paint together in B & Q. She could still recall the Sunday afternoon they had spent decorating it. There was no bed in the room now, but there was a big squashy armchair, her own chair, left here by Owen. Her clothes he had given away to a charity shop; her personal things, her memory-boxes and her stuffed toys, he had given to her parents and sisters; but the few items of furniture she had chosen, her books and cds (the ones he didn't want), the crockery she had bought, and the stone ornaments she had arranged about the garden, he had left here. They were all she had left now of the life she used to live, of the life she had planned with Owen, of all her hopes and dreams for the future… These pink walls and this armchair. She curled herself up within its cushions and planned her next move…