Tom had in a vain attempt try to wind Hal up over the dishes being left to drip, even though the vampire was already obsessive enough as it was over them. He had been in the kitchen for over two hours, washing and cleaning every dish, cup, glass, knife, fork, bottle and anything else that they ate or drank from. Tom hadn't expected this and when he was about to tell Hal, Annie stopped him, reminding him that he needed to go to the shop and pick up the groceries. As the door slammed, Annie wandered into the kitchen, holding Eve in her arms.
"Obsess over things quickly do you?" She asked, smiling slightly.
Hal did not answer, straightening the forks and knifes with precision.
"That was me when I was alive," Annie said. "I could never go out unless I knew that everything that needed to be done was done. I hated leaving the house thinking I had left the stove on, or the dishes weren't dry, or the freezer hadn't defrosted properly. I suppose its worse for you, since y'know you're so old." She grinned. "Can I ask, did you have your OCD before you became a… vampire, or was it something that just sort of happened?"
"OC- What?" Hal looked over. "Is that some sort of Television show that I have not yet heard of?"
"You… Weren't listening, were you?" Annie asked.
"Apologies," Hal replied. He straightened himself and pulled off the yellow marigolds. "Please, explain."
"I was just wondering… Your OCD…" She caught a glimpse of his baffled face. "Sorry, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,"
"That does not give a wide description of it Annie," Hal smiled.
"Well y'know, how you have to have things straight, and can't leave things messy and you always have to be precise…" Annie shrugged. "I don't really know how to explain it, other than you remind me of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang… A TV show character who has the same sort of thing. And I was just wondering…"
"If it developed because of Leo and Pearl, or if I was born with it…" Hal concluded. He chuckled slightly as Annie passed Eve over to him, so she could warm up some milk.
"Yeah," She smiled, switching on the kettle.
"I can't remember much from my human life," Hal replied, miserably. "All I do know is that something was always wrong with me. Whether it was… OCD, or not, I cannot be sure."
Annie jumped up and sat on the kitchen counter, her boots knocking against the doors of the cupboards.
"I do know that a strict regime did nothing to help it," Hal replied, smiling, bouncing the infant on his lap.
"You've really taken to her, haven't you?" Annie said.
Hal looked up, ignoring the throbbing pain of the burn on his right arm. "Like a duck to water," He smiled, hiding his true emotions well.
"She likes you," Annie said as the kettle reached boiling point. She poured some water into a bowl and waited for a few minutes. "So, how are you finding everything?"
"The house, the chores, the work, Eve…" Annie said. "I realise that this must be a strange transition."
"I don't mind." Hal said. "I thought I did, but I forgot with Leo and Pearl the fragility of humans. Leo's… Death reminded me of that fact. And has kept me in line."
"Well, that's good," Annie grinned, shovelling formula into a bottle and sticking some water into it before submerging it in the bowl of hot water. "Because Mitchell and George didn't take too well to change. Goodness, they were such babies!" She laughed.
"Tell me about them," Hal said looking up, Eve playing with his hand.
"What? George and Mitchell?" Annie looked over. "Not much to tell really. Biggest pair of idiots I've ever known." She took the bottle from the bowl and wiped it down with a dry wash cloth. Hal held out his wrist and Annie dapped a few drops on.
"That's fine," He muttered, licking it off before taking the bottle and letting Eve nuzzle at it. "Come on, you knew them for three years, you fell in love with one of them. It will be a burden off your mind,"
Annie sat down opposite Hal and stretched her jumper. "I'm not sure if I'm ready to talk about them just yet." She whispered.
Hal wanted to reach out and comfort her, but with Eve in his arms and his own personal discrepancy not to come into close physical contact with anyone, ghost or not, left him in a tight situation.
"Okay," He said. "Tell me how you died."
Annie laughed. "You don't want to hear that old chestnut do you? God, I have repeated it so many times!"
"Not to me," Hal reminded her.
"Not much to tell really," Annie laughed again, always so careful not to let her mask slip. "Got a boyfriend, moved house, he was abusive, accused me of cheating, shoved me down the stairs then I died! Not much else."
"Not this house?" Hal asked as Eve burped. He put the bottle down and wiped her face with her bib smiling slightly.
"No," The ghost said. "Our old house in Bristol." She looked saddened, but brightened up quickly so Hal wouldn't notice. "Tea?"
"No thank you." Hal replied.
"It's all I'm really good for nowadays," Annie said. "I can't go out and work, I can't earn a wage, the only people that can see me are you and Tom and other supernaturals, I've turned down death about…" She counted silently in her head. "About six times, I lose count." She sighed. "Sometimes I think that I should just pass over."
Hal looked up. "No, we need you. Eve needs you."
"Yeah," Annie replied. "But not for much longer. Mitchell, George and Nina said that they needed me. Then they died. You and Tom will leave too, eventually. You'll get bored of me, Tom will want to move on to better things… Then what? I don't even know if Eve can see me. If she can't, then what's the use in me? She'll get older and won't need to depend on me. And then I'll be gone." Annie looked away. "Sorry, getting teary eyed over something that hasn't happened yet."
Hal was uncomfortable. He didn't let Annie know this was the case. "I won't leave you." He said simply.
Annie wiped her face with her sleeve. "I dunno. I just think… Maybe Sykes was right."
"Sykes?" Hal looked up.
"You know him?"
"World War 2 pilot?" Hal clarified. "Died in the blitz?"
"Yes! Sykes!" Annie said excitedly. "Did you fight in the war with him?"
"I never fought in the wars." Hal clarified. "Too… Well, what I thought was boring. I preferred stalking the battle grounds."
Annie stayed silent.
"And I have scared you now." Hal said.
"No… I mean… Did you use to… Stalk…. The trenches of the First World War?" Annie asked.
"On the Eastern Front, sandwiched between Germany and Russia," Hal replied. "Yes. Why?"
"That's where Mitchell was turned."
"By that bloody invertebrate-d twat Herrick?" Hal asked. "I knew he looked for new recruits on the Western Front."
"You know Herrick."
"Knew," Hal corrected. "Vaguely. Never really liked him."
"He's dead," Annie said.
"Well I'm not really surprised," Hal muttered, adjusting Eve.
"Hal?" Annie said, blinking.
"Do you think, that if you guys all… Disappear…"
"We're not going to," Hal replied.
"Let me finish." Annie said holding up her hands. ""If you and Tom and… Eve… All leave me, do you think that I could summon my door? Or am I just stuck here now?"
Hal cleared his throat, thinking over his answer carefully. "I think… That, if Tom and I and… Eve," He looked down at the baby. "Leave or die, and you choose to move on, it will be a black day for the world. However," He sighed. "I do know of ghosts who have summoned their doors, when they feel no longer needed. Truth is, most of the time they are wrong and we have needed them to stay on a lot longer. But yes. I suppose you could."
"And will Mitchell be there? And George? And Nina?" Annie asked.
"I do not know about Mitchell," Hal replied. "But I would assume George and Nina will be there."
Annie nodded. "Goodness, this is a grim topic." She said brushing herself down and getting up. "Now, what would you like to eat tonight? I have some chicken roast… Potatoes, vegetables, gravy. What do you think?"
"Sounds divine," Hal replied, taking the bottle back to Eve's mouth. Annie smiled and began to look for ingredients. "You're not planning on leaving any time soon are you?" Hal asked.
Annie looked up. "No! No! My work is still undone. I have Eve to look after. Until she doesn't need me."
"If you did not have Eve, would you have left?" Hal asked.
Annie stopped. "Maybe," She said. "I don't know Hal."
"Please," Hal sighed. "Annie, we need you. I need you. And Tom, well, the boy thinks you are the older sister that he never had. He loves this messed up little family we have created." He licked his lips. "As do I."
Annie turned. "I think I need you too Hal. You two came along at the right time."
Hal smiled. "If anything," He said. "I don't actually think that you are a ghost anymore."
"What?" Annie grinned. "Hal, there's a fine line between joking and lunacy. Don't get them mixed up."
"I'm serious," The vampire replied. "Truly, I do not believe that you are a ghost any more, you are more than that Annie, you are something else."
"What? An angel?" Annie scoffed. "Hal, you sound ridiculous."
Hal shook his head.
"Besides," Annie sighed. "Who ever heard of an angel in leggings?"
The door clicked open and Tom entered, throwing his keys into the dish on the bar table. "I'm home!"
"You won't say any of this to Tom, will you?" Annie asked.
"I'm absolutely knackered," Tom cried. "Hope we getting something nice for tea."
"I promise," Hal replied, as Tom entered.
"A'righ'," Tom said. "Give Eve over Hal, you don' need to do that,"
Hal handed the infant over to the young werewolf and stood up. "Annie, if you please, I am going to go and read for a little while before supper."
"Okay Hal," Annie smiled. "And thanks,"
Hal nodded respectively and left the room.
Tom turned to Annie. "What weres you talking about anyway?"
"Nothing," Annie said. "Don't worry about it. Tea?"
"Oh, Annie, you're a angel!"