Wanted to write a Being Human fic, then realised that the old Candlelight story was crap, so here is a new one, with the new characters and a better structure. One-shot.
Annie sat down between Hal and Tom just as the Antiques Roadshow began. In her arms was a tiny gurgling Eve and a bottle tightly latched to the baby's lips.
"Turn up the volume," Tom said, stretching his legs up on the coffee table. Annie slapped him and Tom grudgingly retracted. "Hal?"
"No." Hal said simply. "The volume stays at an even number."
"Wha-er you say man," Tom grumbled. "What's for tea tonight?"
Annie turned to look at him. "I thought you were making it."
"No," Tom replied. "It's your turn innit?"
"Well, considering that I am already dead," Annie said. "And I don't need to eat, it might be a bit redundant me even trying. It's on the rota, Tom."
"No it ain't." Tom looked puzzled.
"I rather think it is," Hal said. "Now be quiet!"
Tom sighed and got up moving towards the kitchen and looking through the pots and pans. Hal straightened himself and cleared his throat. Annie sighed and got up too.
"Here," She said, handing Eve over to Hal. "Feed her and then make sure she's burped. I'm going to make sure that Tom doesn't destroy my kitchen."
Hal held Eve at arms-length, still uncomfortable being around a human so young. Annie gave a big grin before a clatter made her bright face turn into a dark scowl.
"TOM!" She shouted, walking through, swinging open the door. "WHAT ON GOD'S EARTH ARE YOU DOING?"
"Makin' supper." Came Tom's reply.
"Well it sounds like a bloody war zone in here."
"I couldn't find the cheesy pasta," Tom said.
Hal perked up. "I do not eat cheesy pasta on a Sunday!" He cried, standing up, Eve still at arms-length. She seemed quite amused at what was going on and gurgled happily.
Annie turned viciously and put her hand on her hip. "Why?"
"It's bad for the digestion," Hal said simply.
Tom looked over. "Do you mean all digestions, or just yous?"
Hal winced at the appalling grammar. "It is just not the way I eat. You know this."
"Yeah, but I ain't ever cooked on a Sunday mate," Tom replied. "I dunno you're bloody rota thing." He dropped the pan onto the stove and turned the gas on. Annie promptly removed it and put it to one side as Tom moved around the kitchen trying to find something to eat.
"Now, don't get into a fight," Annie warned simply. "And Hal, she's a baby, not a plant. Cuddle her."
"I don't think she likes me," Hal grumbled, knowing that he was missing Antiques Roadshow.
"Nonsense." Annie replied. "If you held her like a proper creature instead of some germ ridden goose, maybe she'd like you a bit more."
Hal's jaw muscles tightened.
"Okay, Hal," Annie sighed. "Go sit down. Give Eve over."
"Thank you," Hal muttered pushing the baby into Annie's arms.
"The big old mean vampire do to you?" She cooed slightly as Hal rushed off to see how much the crystal Royal Dalton vases would sell at.
"Right, so what should I make?" Tom asked. "If no pasta?"
Annie sighed and opened a cupboard. "Here," She said. "Make that." She flung it at Tom's arms.
"Shepard's pie?" Tom asked. "You having a laugh at me?"
"Just follow the instructions." Annie hissed. "It's easy enough."
"Can't I nowt just run down to the chippy."
"No," Annie said. The lights began to flicker and Annie looked up. "I shouldn't let my temper get the better of me," She muttered. "Come on Eve, we have feeding to do." She patted the child on the back before making her way back through to the front room where Hal sat watching the TV intently.
"They say it would have been up to 5 thousand pounds," He said.
"For?" Annie looked confused. "For the Crystal vases?"
"You sure you don't have anything old and expensive that you don't need anymore?" Annie giggled.
"Aside from myself?" Hal looked up, vaguely amused. "No."
"All righty then," Annie sat down and popped Eve on her knee, bouncing her up and down. "She'll need to go to bed in a minute."
"Then why don't you take her?" Hal asked, his eyes still focused on the TV screen.
"Well, I don't want Tom to burn down my kitchen," Annie grinned.
"What's he making?" Hal asked. "I'd say about £200-£300 for that,"
Annie looked over at the TV screen where the presenter held an old model train set still in its box. "Really? It looks kind of tatty."
"No," Hal insisted. "You'd be surprised."
"Tom's making Shepard's pie," Annie said.
"Marvellous," Hal said. "Okay I was almost right."
Annie looked back at the screen. "Sorry, wasn't paying attention. How much did it go for?"
"£350," Hal replied.
"Weren't that the crystal vases?" Came Tom's voice, poking through the doors of the kitchen.
"No, an old model train set." Annie replied. The lights flickered again and they looked around. "Hal, could you go check and see if the fuse box is working?"
Hal flexed his fingers and picked up his domino, twirling it in his hand before walking calmly over to the airing cupboard. He clicked it open and sighed in despair over the poorly arranged bedding and towels. He flicked a spider out of the way.
"There's a green light," He called. "What does that mean?"
Annie appeared beside him. "It means its working fine." She frowned as the lights flickered again. "I'll get some candles in case there's a blackout."
"A blackout?" Hal asked. "What do you mean, blackout? Are there often blackouts? How long do they last for?"
"Well in case you hadn't noticed," Annie said. "We are in Wales and sadly that means we get the forty days of wind rain sleet and snow when everyone else gets sunshine and daisies. So we have to grin and bear it. Power-cuts happen. Besides, I thought it would be nothing to you! I mean, you've lived through the middle ages, and the WW2 blackouts… Unless that was a myth. I always used to argue with my primary school teacher over that."
Hal frowned. "Over blackouts?"
"Yeah, well, my 6 year-old self believed it wasn't very safe with all those men and women running around, and probably knocking into each other. Apparently I was right when I found out in High School that in World War 2 there was a major baby boom after blackouts." She grinned as the lights flickered.
"What's goin' on?" Tom asked, returning from the kitchen with a novelty apron on and an oven mitt stuffed down into his trouser pockets.
"Hal's freaking out over the likely event that the lights will go out," Annie replied.
"I'm not freaking out." Hal said.
"Tom, mind holding Eve whilst I fetch some candles from the bathroom?" Annie asked.
Tom took Eve from the ghost and Annie disappeared in a flash. The lights flickered more violently this time as the wind outside picked up and battered the window panes.
The lights went out completely, along with supper and Antiques Roadshow just as Annie returned.
"OW! Hal! Yer on my foot!"
"Sorry!" Hal hissed. "I thought it was a rat."
"We have rats?" Annie asked warily, leading them back into the front room lighting candles along the way until the entire room was bathed in a fiery glow.
"I hope for all your sakes, you do not." Hal said, peering out the window. "Yes, it appears the entire street's lights have gone out."
"Bloody 'ell," Tom muttered, tucking Eve into his arms and joining Hal. "I was right looking forward to that pie."
"Well, we'll just have to sit here and wait it out." Annie said cheerily, sitting down. Tom and Hal joined her and sat patiently for a moment. "Okay, I'm bored already," Annie muttered. "Anyone know any good games?"
Tom was bouncing Eve on his lap. "Nowt that I can think of."
"Hal?" Annie tried desperately. "You must have had something to slave off the self-harm when there was no TV or radio."
"Yes," Hal replied.
"Oh, good." Annie grinned. "What was it? Perhaps we could do it."
"It was ripping people's throats out," Hal said dryly, tapping his domino on the arm of the couch.
"Ah, that does put a downer." Annie sighed. "What about you Tom?"
"Killing the vampires," Tom replied. "Or preparing to kill 'em. Or y'know burying bodies."
"Not something I can do then." Annie chuckled. "That's it," She slapped their knees and got up. "I'm breaking out the scrabble."
"Do you have a 'y'?" Tom asked, holding out a tile in front of him.
"What on earth are you spelling?" Annie asked, manoeuvring herself with Eve on her lap.
"Here," Hal said. "I hate having even consonant's, they make me unhappy."
"There we go," Annie said putting down her word. "'haggard', hello triple word score!" She grabbed the pen and paper and scribbled it down excitedly before reaching into the bag to draw out more tiles.
Tom began to put his word down. "Here," He said proudly. "'yabby,'"
"Now, Tom, you can't just make words up," Annie said.
"But it's a word!" Tom cried.
"Not one that I've ever encountered," Hal said, Annie nodded and pointed at the vampire in agreement.
"See!" She cried. "It's not a word."
"But it is!" Tom cried. "I'll prove it to you! Where's the dictionary?"
"I'm surprised that you even know that word." Hal muttered, Tom started towards him before Annie interrupted.
"Behave," She snapped. "The pair of you."
Tom grabbed the dictionary from the book shelf and looked up his word before proudly presenting it to Hal and Annie. Hal read off the page where Tom pointed with satisfaction and glee.
"'Yabby, noun, is a small Australian crayfish, of the genus Cherax, inhabiting streams and water holes.'" Hal looked up."You're smarter than you look Tom."
"What that supposed to mean?" Tom asked.
"Nothing!" Hal defended himself.
"No, fold it left," Hal was becoming quite irritated at having all his origami paper wasted on people who had no clue how to use it. Tom flustered and tried again but the crease was already too big to restart.
"How am I doing Hal?" Annie asked as she folded the piece of paper again. Hal leaned over her shoulder.
"Not bad," He replied. "Fold here." He pointed it out to her.
"Where'd you learnt this from?" Tom asked.
"Japan in 1634," Hal replied, looking disdainfully at the poor attempt of a bird that Tom was trying to make.
"That makes you over 400 years old," Annie said, looking up, her eyes wide. "I've never met a vampire that old."
"And thankfully, you never will after me," Hal replied sitting next to the baby basket where Eve slept soundly. He picked up a red thin piece of paper and began to fold it carefully and quickly producing a tiny elegant crane. He held it out to Annie who picked it up and smiled at it thoughtfully.
"Back at my old home," She said. "In Bristol, we had a guest for a couple of weeks. Or months I should say. He was a right arsehole in the end, but I'll glaze over that. He was supposed to be helping George with his transformations – the guy was a werewolf too… His name was Tully… What kind of a name is Tully anyway?"
"Annie?" Hal said, looking up as he completed a yellow rose. "Is there a point to this story?"
Annie blushed. "Yeah, well for weeks on end he would leave me tiny origami birds to find in the kitchen. I had an obsession with making tea back then…"
"You still do." Tom said holding out his attempt to Hal, who closed his eyes and wished for inner strength.
"Oh, I was a lot worse back in Bristol," Annie said. "George got so pissed off with me. I never left any tea or coffee for him to make and apparently that was important to him." She folded the paper again. "Oh, I think I've done this wrong." She said.
"No," Hal replied, picking up and gently pulling at it. It began to look a lot more like a lotus flower and Annie smiled. "It's not perfect," Hal said. "But as your first attempt, I think you did rather well."
Tom sniffed and held out his second attempt, which was a vast improvement. Hal smiled.
"Practice makes perfect." He said. "Shall I show you how to make a jumping frog?"
"He did not!" Annie snorted with laughter.
"Yeah, he did ana!" Tom cried. "He comes up to the bar and acting big and tough like, and says to McNair 'you sitting in my seat mate', and McNair is like 'I don't see your name on it!',"
"So what happened next?" Annie asked, enthralled.
"Well McNair got out his knife and carved his name onto the seat like," Tom said. "I were told not to say a word. An' the bloke right, he decided that he ain't having it, so he asks the gay boy from the next table over to chat him up!"
"Still waiting for the punchline," Hal said, rocking the baby basket gently as Eve began to stir.
"I'm getting to that!" Tom said. "McNair has nowt of that so he gets me to go up to the boy, smack him in the face in front of his girlfriend and say 'that's for the fucking worms dickface!',"
Annie cascaded into laughter, wiping tears from her eyes. Eve gurgled slightly and Annie restrained herself.
"That is brilliant!" She said. "Tom, you've lived more in your 21 years than anyone else has."
"Really?" Tom looked amused. "You think?"
"Well who else has done all the things you've done?" Annie asked.
Tom looked over at Hal, who had gotten up, taking a candle with him to fiddle with the radio that sat on the bookshelf unused and dusty.
"That's no good man," Tom said. "That radio don't work right."
"That's because it is FM," Hal replied, twisting the dials. "Kids today, everything has to be digital otherwise it doesn't work properly."
Anne snorted. "You sound like my dad."
A burst of static leapt from the radio and they covered their ears. Eve started crying at the noise and Annie picked her up, cooing her softly. Hal lowered the volume and began to look for a channel that was broadcasting.
"So," Annie said getting up and patting Eve on the back. "What stories can you tell us? Regal balls? Dining with the Queen… Elizabeth the First of course. Met Shakespeare?"
"Yes, no, yes," Hal said.
Annie stopped. "Seriously, you've met Shakespeare?"
"Oh, Annie," Hal turned slightly to smile at her. "Every vampire alive wanted to meet him."
"Oh," Annie grinned. "What was he like? When did you meet him?"
"Oh, it was just in passing," Hal said, trying the dial again. "I went to see Midsummer's Night Dream in… Oh it was either 1595 or 96."
"You don't know?"
"Well, Will never dated his work and days weren't recorded as religiously as they are now," Hal replied.
"I bet he was gay!" Annie said. "Just to prove my English teacher wrong. No way could a man write those scenes knowing that they were intended for blokes playing women."
"What? Blokes played women in Shakespeare's day?" Tom asked.
"Yeah!" Annie said excitedly. "They made them dress up in women's clothes and everything!"
Hal wasn't listening. He turned the dial and a voice blurred through the static. He twisted a bit more, but the static grew louder. He turned the dial back and the broken voice came through again.
"Most of south England… Wales… In total darkness without power. Local authorities are trying to get the power up again. There are further indications of storms getting gradually worse over the next day and a half. People are encouraged not to go out unless absolutely necessary…" The presenter paused and the static grew louder before she began to repeat what she said in Welsh "Mae'r rhan fwyaf o dde Lloegr ... Nghymru ... Yn tywyllwch llwyr heb bŵer. Mae awdurdodau lleol yn ceisio cael y pŵer i fyny eto. Mae arwyddion pellach o stormydd gaelraddol waethygu yn ystod y diwrnod a hanner nesaf. Caiff pobl eu –"
Hal switched the radio off and slid down on the couch, his fingers tapping the leather slightly.
"So?" Annie asked. "Was Shakespeare gay?"
Hal blinked. "Oh? Yes. He was exceedingly so."
"How so?" Tom asked, leaning back on his chair.
"Think of the gayest man you can." Hal said.
Tom frowned. "Paul O'Grady? John Barrowman?"
Hal nodded. "Yes, think them, only worse."
"Wow," Annie said.
"I need to go exercise." Hal said, getting up.
"Oh?" Annie looked up. "But I thought it was nice having just family time…"
"Yes but unless you haven't noticed," Hal said. "My rota has been ruined for tonight. If I don't do something now… I fear I might do something I will later regret."
Annie bit her lips and nodded, letting him go.
"I just want a taste," Annie said. "It's been a while!"
"Annie, you are never touching my head," Hal replied as he settled back down onto the couch. He looked exhausted but happier and in control again.
"Oh go on!" Annie said.
"Why not ask Tom?" Hal asked, as Tom downed another bottle of beer.
"Because he already smells like a bar," Annie said.
"What?" Tom cried. "You said I could have a few drinks!"
"Yes, a few. Not a few hundred." Annie said. She turned back to Hal, her gin and tonic in her hand. "Please? Just one?"
Hal sighed and took the drink from Annie's hand. She grinned and moved to touch Hal's head.
"Promise you won't pry?" He asked, carefully.
"Promise. Cross my heart and hope to be dragged into purgatory by the hooded men carrying sticks and rope." Annie laughed, miming crossing her heart, tugging at her cardigan.
Hal didn't seem reassured, but he brought the drink to his lips as Annie pressed her palm on the back of his head. She sighed as he drank.
"Oh, god, I miss drinking," She muttered. An image flashed in front of her. Blood and carnage and bones. And Hal standing amongst them, half-naked and dangerous. She jolted back, holding her hand. Hal was up, furious.
"I asked you not to pry!" He cried.
"I didn't!" Annie said. She clutched her hand as Hal stormed.
"Hal," Tom said, standing up. "Calm down mate."
Hal's jaw clenched and he looked over. His hands tucked behind his back and he nodded respectively. "I am sorry you had to see that." He said.
"It's… Fine." Annie said. "Just scared me that's all."
Hal looked away. He looked saddened. "Maybe we should do that again." He said.
"Yeah, maybe we shouldn't." Annie agreed. "Sorry, something like that happened with George. It just caught me off guard."
"I thought George was a werewolf?" Hal said.
"He were," Tom said.
"Yeah…" Annie stared at her hand caught in the memories.
Tom fell asleep on the sofa about half 12. His head toppled back and forth as Hal placed a gentle blanket over the werewolf.
Annie was looking for more candles to use. Hal called her through.
"There's not much point," He said. "I can see pretty well, and shall be going to bed myself soon."
"I thought vampire-" Annie stopped. "Rota?"
"Rota." Hal smiled.
"What I saw…" Annie said. "That's not you know is it?"
"No, I promise that much," Hal said he leaned down, the candlelight glowing on his face. And with one soft puff, blew the flame out.