Usual disclaimer - Being Human doesn't belong to me, blah blah. I'm not making any money from this, just having fun, blah blah. You know how it goes, now. Anyway, I'm not worth sueing.
This fic was meant to have Annie as the MC, but apparently no-one told Mitchell this, so if you lot wouldn't mind distracting him with a bottle of Archers and some cigs while Annie gets to play, I'd be obliged.
Thanks to mogue for beta reading.
If you like it please leave a review. Favouriting it is lovely, and I appreciate it, but reviews are best - thanks!
It was the school holidays, so the queues weren't as long as they might have been, mostly commuters sitting in the traffic jam in the run up to the accident. Christina and her daughter had set off early, taking advantage of a forecast of fine weather to have a nice day out in the New Forest, just the two of them. Their picnic was in the boot – a wicker basket and tartan travel rug that screamed Enid Blyton and long hot days in the great outdoors.
They hadn't got far from home when it happened: run off the road by a driver who thought the law banning the use of mobile phones while driving didn't apply to him, their car landing upside down in a ditch.
Eight year old Rosie was in the back. They had found her hanging from the lap belt with her long frizzy blonde bunches dangling down. She had slipped the shoulder strap off to get more comfortable as she read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for the third time – a fatal mistake, although the emergency workers hadn't given up on her yet. The faces of the firemen were grim as they struggled to release her from the mangled metal of the crumpled car. They had seen this played out too many times before to be outwardly moved, yet as they went about their jobs with their usual professionalism each one thought of his own children safe at home.
Her mother was in slightly better shape – she at least had been wearing her seat belt correctly – but blood was dripping from a gash in her head and the emergency workers were worried about possible neck damage: the car had dropped several feet after it rolled.
It was a weird feeling, Rosie decided, watching herself being cut out. She had found herself standing on the soft verge, her trainers mud-splattered and the reek of diesel in her nostrils, watching curiously as the activity went on around her. The roadside looked like a scene from a TV show: firemen with cutting equipment and paramedics working feverishly to save her and her mother; two ambulances with blue lights still flashing, although the sirens were silenced now. Rosie vaguely remembered hearing them as their banshee wails wove their way through the queues of traffic to the accident. She didn't remember much after that; she had felt suddenly sleepy.
She gingerly crossed the verge, cautious on the slippery mud and watched the paramedic work on her mother. She was pale and there was a lot of blood; Rosie didn't like blood much, but she couldn't tear her eyes away from the sticky streak down her mother's forehead. They had strapped her to a body board and there were tubes everywhere. Just like Casualty, but a lot scarier in real life. A lot scarier when it was mum underneath all those tubes.
Rosie gulped and moved away. She felt a bit woozy. Once someone had had a nose bleed in assembly and she had thrown up all over Danny Westbridge. Maybe looking at the blood hadn't been a good idea.
The paramedic working on her mum looked up and said, "This one's ready to go, Tom. Let's get her in." He checked the oxygen mask over her mother's mouth and nose, double-checked the line from the drip he had set up, and they slid her carefully into the yawning mouth of the ambulance.
Rosie made to follow her mother into the vehicle, but pulled up short as she felt a sickening lurch and the ground seemed to shift beneath her feet. There was another heave and a pull at the base of her abdomen as the efforts of the emergency services seemed to be paying off and her body tried to reclaim her spirit from wherever it had wandered to. She couldn't go back now – not now – not with her mother so pale and frail on the stretcher. Rosie concentrated as hard as she could to bring the scene back into focus, anchoring herself with an enormous act of will. She looked at herself in the back of the car. However she was doing it – being in two places at once – she had to carry on, at least until she was sure that her mother was safe.
Rosie tried to force herself to run to the ambulance, but her feet stayed rooted to the spot. She couldn't seem to get any closer than she was – or was it herself that she couldn't move away from? Could she only go so far from the figure in the back of the car?
The door of the ambulance slammed shut with her mother inside and the vehicle drew away, the eerie wail of the siren cutting through the morning air once again as it began its desperate journey back to Bristol General.
"Noooo!" Rosie watched despairingly as the ambulance drew away. How would she ever find her mum again now? She slumped to the ground, not caring about the mud she was getting all over her jeans. Her head was spinning, but she wouldn't fight it this time. She was tired...so tired. Maybe if she just laid down for a moment...
"We're losing her. Oh jeez, we're losing her."
The door that appeared in front of Rosie was white and panelled, just like her bedroom door at home, even down to the white plaque with "Rosie's Room" on it. She stepped hesitantly forward, fingers outstretched in wonder to touch her name. As if she had triggered it, the door swung open, a blinding white light shining from the other side. Rosie thought she could hear voices whispering to her from beyond the door. It was creepy: creepier than Dr Who even, and it scared her.
She screwed up her eyes and retreated a few paces. She wasn't sure that she should go through this door to who-knew-where, no matter how much she was drawn to it. Mum had bashed it into her from when she was tiny that she shouldn't go anywhere without telling her first and mum was... Well, she couldn't tell her right now, that was for sure. She shuddered, suddenly cold, wishing she had had the chance to grab her coat from the back seat. She chafed her hands and wrapped her arms about herself; the Jack Wills t-shirt that had been comfortable in the car with the heater on now didn't seem like such a good idea by the roadside on a cool April morning.
The compulsion to go through the door was almost overwhelming, but Rosie was a stubborn little girl. "She knows her own mind," her teacher had said to mum last parents' evening; she had heard mum telling dad that on the phone afterwards. She had to find her mum – make sure she was alright.
"You can whisper all you want, I'm not going through," she said out loud, and the voices stopped for a moment, before resuming their chattering – imploring her, pleading with her. "I'm going to find my mum."
She had been freed from the seat now and the paramedics were gently placing her in the back of the ambulance. This was weird – how could she see herself over there but walk and talk over here? She jumped up into the ambulance and perched on the bench seat along the side. That was weird, she thought, she could have sworn the ambulance door closed through her. She shivered again, not just from the cold this time. What on earth was going on?
They wheeled the trolley in quickly, applying chest compressions and talking in staccato bursts as they walked. "RTA. Driving licence in her handbag gives her name as Christina McNally, age thirty four. Possible neck and back injuries. Went into asystolic arrest en route. Intubated. She's had eight milligrams of adrenaline and three milligrams of atropine so far. The little girl in the car with her has been called at the scene."
George watched the scene from afar, catching odd bits of the conversation. How did that work then? Dying at the roadside? Did a door open up beside the M32, or what? Doors must be opening all the time around here - ICU, geriatrics, SCBU – but the thought of a door appearing from nowhere and hovering in mid air on a hard shoulder freaked him out. How did babies get through their doors, he wondered? Did someone have to come through to get them? Doors wouldn't just open for the very young and the very old, either. There would be others going before their time. Young, fit and healthy – taken by accidents or... he shuddered...taken by people like him. Him and Mitchell. He turned the wheelchair he was pushing and headed for the lift. Better not to think about things like that. That way lay madness.
The ambulance had gone straight to the rear of the hospital and Rosie had been put on a trolley and wheeled swiftly into the mortuary entrance. She had tried to follow the trolley – this was confusing, there being two of her, she wished she could work it out – but the door had slammed shut and there was a keypad on the door. She tried a couple of numbers – her birthday, her mum's birthday – but they didn't work and she followed the path round to the front of the hospital and made for the main entrance.
She got quite flustered trying to dodge round all the people bustling around outside the hospital and along the corridors. She'd been polite, remembering her "excuse me"s and her "after you"s, but all that had got her was angry and frustrated. All these adults were obviously too busy or too important to help a little girl find her way back to where she was meant to be.
Even when she tried stopping someone and asking, "Excuse me, I've lost my mum, can you help me find her?" they ignored her and carried on walking. How rude, she thought. I'm not going to be a doctor or a nurse if they are all this rude. Mum would have killed her if she'd just ignored someone like that.
She tried various corridors, trying to read the signs on the walls, but most of them meant nothing to her. Haematology? Obstetrics? Gynaecology? What on earth did they all mean? She was a good reader, but she couldn't figure out where her mum would be at all.
In the end, she sat on a seat in the corridor and cried. Surely someone would help her if she did that and if they didn't at least she'd feel better after a while. "Nothing like a good cry," her mum always says, usually when she and Rosie are unhappy about daddy being away. So she sat by herself and let the scared, lonely tears fall.
Mitchell pushed his bucket down the corridor. He did that most days. A drunk had puked up and it wasn't even the evening yet. That happened most days too. He sighed and checked his watch. Still a while before he could go home and drink his own beer instead of mopping the regurgitated stuff off the floor tiles, but at least he was due a break soon. Not for the first time he wished that his need for anonymity, for a job that required the minimum of qualifications and references could have led him somewhere other than the shitty job of hospital cleaner.
As usual, he had shut most of his brain off, wiping the floor mindlessly and blocking out his surroundings – it was the only way he could get through the day. It helped him tune out the sounds of humanity too: the hearts beating, the blood rushing. Sometimes he feared his nature would overwhelm him and then the pulse of the hospital pounded in his ears like a single organism taunting him with its life force.
As he swish, swish, swished with the mop, a noise gradually wormed its way into his consciousness. It was the sound of crying – a child by the sounds of it – and when the muffled sobs finally became a mournful wail, his mental processes clicked back in and he started to pay attention.
There was a kid sitting on one of the seats in the corridor: a little girl, not very old, eight or nine maybe – small enough that her legs dangled from the seat without touching the floor except by the very tips of her toes. She had long hair in bunches that were coming loose, the odd strand of hair falling over a face that was wet with tears.
Why was nobody helping? He looked up and down the corridor. There were two or three nurses milling around a notice board, a porter pushing an elderly patient in a wheelchair and a couple of people visiting nearby wards. All of them close enough to help – why was nobody seeing to the kid?
Damn it. Since Bernie he was wary of having anything to do with kids, far less unattended small girls. Too many people accused of doing stuff to children when they were only trying to help. He looked around anxiously – no, he wasn't prepared to risk it. The nurses at the notice board – one of them looked familiar. He racked his brains. Vicky, that was her name. He wandered over.
"Hey, Vicky. There's a kid down the corridor crying for her mum. I think she's got lost somehow. I'd go and help but I'm just off on my break and... you know... might be better if a woman sees to her."
"Sure, Mitchell," she tilted her head to one side and smiled at him, "I'll go and see if I can help."
"Yeah... thanks," and as he strolled down the corridor he was aware of three pairs of eyes following him. If they wanted to ogle his arse in regulation hospital scrubs then good luck to them – they were hardly what he'd call flattering. Despite that, he was aware of a certain swagger creeping into his walk; he was a vampire after all, he was meant to be arrogant. And trying to remain inconspicuous among humans didn't mean he didn't like female attention every now and again.
Up in the intensive care unit, Christina McNally was also the subject of much attention from nurses. The steady bleep, bleep of the monitor was testament to the success of the medics in bringing her back from the brink of death, but she wasn't out of the woods yet - not by a long chalk.
The doctors were concerned about her head injuries and were keeping her sedated while they scheduled MRI and CT scans for her and the admissions people went through her records and her mobile phone searching for contact details. Whoever the search threw up was about to have their day ruined.