Just a quick fanfiction before I go to bed. Basically an extension of my other fic ROTA. Hope you enjoy and please leave a review.
The alarm goes off at exactly 5am, but I have already been up for the better part of an hour. Unable to move and switch it off, my hands manacled to the bed frame. During the night I have kicked off my blanket, leaving myself exposed to the cold coming in from the unblocked fireplace. The alarm continues to ring noisily, making me enraged beyond reason.
"ALEX!" I bellow.
"Keep your knickers on," Alex replies rentaghosting into the room, a key in her hand. She unbuckles my manacles and I sit up, switching the alarm off and rubbing my cut wrists. She switches on the lamp, before moving across the room. Alex likes to wind me up in the morning, not like Annie who would happily make a cup of tea and bright smile to light up any dark day. Alex moves towards the curtains, drawing them open letting the streetlights in. She sighs and sits down on my chair as I move around the room gathering something to wear. Alex isn't watching, she's wrapped up in her own thoughts.
I lean down and begin to do my press-ups. Alex steps over me towards the book case and looks at them thoughtfully. We can't turn on the radio because Tom is still fast asleep so in the mornings, she reads to me, despite not really understanding the language.
"Which one?" She asks, staring at them thoughtfully.
"Continue with Paradise Lost," I reply, staring at the floor.
"Urgh!" Alex flops down onto the bed and pulls the book open. "It's so boring though."
"Read," I order.
She clears her throat. "These disobedient; sore hath been their fight, as likeliest was, when two such foes met armed; for to themselves I left them, and thou know'st, equal in their creation they were formed, save what sin hath impaired, which yet hath wrought – Okay, this is just bullshit. What the bloody hell are they talking about?"
"It means what it says," I reply, half-way through a press-up.
"Aye, well, it makes zero sense."
"Continue," I say.
Alex clears her throat. "Insensibly, for I suspend their doom, whence in perpetual fight they needs must last – Are they fighting? What are they fighting for? Is it the devil that's making them fight?"
I'm grinding my teeth as the exercise wears me down. My wrists and elbows are now aching, red raw and shaking slightly. I continue. I need to continue.
Alex begins to read again, realising that I am not going to answer her. "Endless, and no solution will be found – Eternity? Fighting forever? War wearied hath preformed what war can do, and to disordered rage let loose the reins –"
"With mountains as with weapons armed, which makes, wild work in Heav'n and dangerous to main, two days are therefore passed the third is thine, for thee I have ordained it, and thus far, have suffered that glory may be thine," I finish.
"See I don't know why I read to you if you know all of it already," Alex says sighing, pulling up her feet. I grunt in protest, feeling sweat drip down my face. Alex rolls her eyes before picking up the book and beginning to read from it again. I stop listening, my mind drifting off to memories.
I remember it clearly. The smell, the sights. The iron tang in my mouth as I woke, screaming at what I had seen when my body transfigured itself to the new way of living. I had been out for a total of three days. My comrades beside me were dead and their flesh frozen from the wind and the cold. The new senses bombarding me in ways I couldn't imagine.
I remember the way I reached for their faces and stroked them before having an overwhelming urge to bite them. So I did. Their skin crunching under my teeth and liquid gold pouring from their already dead veins.
I remember being pulled away. The army surgeon had stayed with me during the three days that I was out. I pushed him off and ran out of the army hospital, confused and alone and half naked. Not knowing what I was or how I was still alive, just remembering that there was a pain in my gullet and a burning in my throat that I had never experienced. A hunger amplified a thousand times to what I had experienced as a human.
I remember stealing a dead body's uniform and walking barefoot in the snow for twenty miles. I was cold, I don't deny, but not as cold as I would have been if I was human.
I stopped at the nearest town, shaking and shivering all over. I never felt so confused. A kindly young woman let me into her home, giving me beer and a blanket. Never did I know such generosity. Her home was small and well kept, a young mother and good woman who had lost her husband to the battle.
You always remember your first kill. I remember the smell of her neck, the feel of her hair, the temperature of her skin, the taste of her veins.
I don't remember what happened after I fed from her. I remember waking up in another house a few days later, killing the owners of the house as I escaped and ran, confused at what I had become.
I never saw the surgeon after that week.
"And the third sacred morn began to shine, dawning through heav'n: forth rushes with whirlwind sound." Alex looks over. "Hal, that's forty-five minutes up."
I stop my press-ups, stretch and get up. Alex hands me a towel and I pat myself dry. She closes the book and puts it back on my bedside cabinet before climbing off the bed and making the sheets. It's not perfect, nor the way I like it done. But I let her do it anyway. She rentaghosts out of my room and I hear the faint click of the lock outside. Tom doesn't trust me enough to let the key be left in my room.
I open the door and slide into the darkness of the corridor towards the bathroom. Alex follows, holding my clothes for me.
Despite being more or less a reminder of how far I could fall, she does her best to be friendly and open and honest. She's not stupid, despite her claims. She cannot hold well a conversation, but tries to anyway. And she serves as a piece of light in an ultimately dark predicament. She sets my clothes down to the side, getting me a towel.
"Why do you do this?" I ask.
She looks up at me, her eyes sparkling as if she still had so much life left in them. I feel guilty again.
"I have nothing else to do," She replies.
I look away and she disappears, closing the door behind her. The shower is cold to begin with but it warms quickly. It feels nice on my skin. I don't take too long, worrying what I might think of if I stay. I get out, dry myself off and pull on the fresh clothes, a black shirt and black jeans. No socks. Bugger. Forgot them.
I gather up the laundry and push it into the basket. I look around the bathroom and quickly organise it, opening the window slightly to let the steam of the shower out. I pick up the laundry basket and make my way downstairs.
Alex is on the barstool, spinning slightly as I push the laundry into the washing machine and set it to spin. I return into the living room and she pushes a plate in front of me.
"Made ya toast," She says.
"Thank you," I say, sitting down and taking a bite out of it. It's a struggle not to think about just getting up from the stool and leaving the house. Leaving into the street and taking the nearest early morning dog walker for a victim to satisfy the thirst. It's constant and nagging, like a child trying to persuade his friend to do something incredibly naughty and vicious.
I know I cannot draw comparisons between what I am going through and what a child may or may not do. But that is the best way I can describe it.
Alex has moved around the bar, looking wistfully at the drinks and picking up the cassette cases. "God I haven't seen these in over ten years," She says.
I nod, pretending to listen, but feeling the hunger rise. Alex leaves for the kitchen and returns a moment later with some water.
"What happened to the rentaghosting?" I ask.
"Oh?" Alex smiles slightly. "Its fun, but god, I like to feel human now and then."
I nod, understanding what she means. She puts on the TV, flicking to the news. "Still no word on my body." She says. "I don't even know if dad and my brothers know I'm gone," she clears her throat, pretending not to be hurt by the idea. She smiles slightly. "I wonder if they miss me at all. More to the point, I wonder if Ryan has got that bloody tattoo fixed."
I look over at her. She sits on the coffee table staring at the screen. She puts the remote down and continues to watch.
I get up and leave her in peace, knowing that she need a moment and not a friend.
I finish with the dominoes just as Tom comes downstairs, rubbing his hair dry with a towel and throwing it into the wash. I begin to take down the dominoes piece by piece. He makes himself a bowl of cheerio's and sitting opposite me, sniffing slightly. His eyes are red, as if he has been crying. He doesn't say anything as he switches on the radio. Loud heavy bass music fills the room and he switches the channel immediately to the more appeasing sound of James Naughtie and Justin Webb.
"Are you going to work today?" I ask, taking down another domino.
Tom looks up and nods. He doesn't say anything.
"Are you okay?" I ask, stopping.
"I'm a'right mate," Tom replies, finishing his cheerio's. "You feel ready to go back to work?"
I shake my head. No, no, God, if I'm so much as near a human I will cause so much carnage – "No." I say. "No, I don't think I am."
"That's a'right," Tom says. "Just take your time. We have a bit of money to keep us going for a while. And I'm sure Alex isn't going to hold the moral high ground if we steal a few things from the shop." He stands and moves towards the sink, rinsing the bowl.
I stand. "Let me do that," I say.
"No, you're a'right," Tom replies. "Finish your dominoes."
"Please, Tom, let me do it." I say.
Tom looks over. "Finish your dominoes Hal," He says.
I stop and look at him. Over the last few months Tom has had to grow up so much. I never wanted that from him. With my rehabilitation, it meant that I could no longer look after the young werewolf. Alex certainly was not much help after just finding her footing being a ghost. And the deaths of Annie and Eve were sure to have put more weight on an already considerably heavy strain on the young boys mind. I watch him as he washes the bowl and spoon. Taking time to make sure that they are clean. Keeping me in line and becoming the head of the household was how he was coping with all of this, I theorise. I had heard from Annie how Tom had already lost a considerable number of families. His real family when he was merely an infant. His second with McNair's death, his third with Nina and George passing and again with Annie and Eve.
For such a young man, he had experienced more death than most 50 year old vampires. And this was how he coped.
Or perhaps, I am over thinking it. I tend to do that nowadays, barely finding myself saying a word nowadays. Not that I was such a chatterbox to begin with.
Memories drift to the surface again and I wipe them away, not wanting to think of them. Tom sniffs again, wiping his nose.
"Feeling okay?" I ask sitting down and returning to the dominoes.
"Yeah," Tom says. He stops as he puts the dish away into the cupboard. "No." I look up. He sighs. "You probably don't want to hear."
"You'd be surprised." I reply.
Tom sits and plays with his fingers. "I were just thinking is all. About Annie and Eve."
"Do you think they're happy? Wherever they're at?"
I realise that Tom needs to hear that they would be happy. He can't imagine them not being and needs reassurance that the baby he loved and the woman who took him in after his family had died were happy and in a good place.
"I think so." I say.
"With George? And Nina? And Mitchell? And…" He closes his eyes and takes a gulp. "With dad?"
"I suspect so," I say.
"Mitchell didn't like dad very much." Tom says. "Is it heaven they go to?"
"I don't know where they go," I reply as honestly as I can. "But I hope so."
"Do you think Leo an' Pearl are up there?"
I nod. "Yes. And I hope they are happy."
"Do you want to join them?"
"When I die," I take a shaky breath. "Yes. They were truly the best of me."
"And you," I say.
Tom sighs. "I can stay here for the day," He says. "I can pull a sickie, make sure you is a'right."
"No," I say. "I shall be fine. You should go to work. Be away from me."
"I can easy stay,"
"Tom," I look up. "Go to work. Get away from… This!" I gesture at my obsessive domino spiral with a mix of pride and utter disgust at what I am. I was LORD HARRY! Henry fucking York. Look at the petulance I had become!
Tom looks at me, his eyebrows knotted together.
I sigh. "Alex will take more than good care of me."
Tom nods and dips back into the living room, telling Alex to lay off winding me up. Alex makes a vague protest but Tom says something to her that makes her agree. He calls his farewell to me before leaving. I pile my dominoes back into their box in numerical order before storing them above the kitchen cabinet. I then gather up a pair of bright yellow marigolds and cleaning equipment, filling up a bucket of water and disinfectant. I carry the items upstairs to the attic, Alex following me.
We have barely been near the attic since the debacle with the Old Ones. Tom could bear dismantling the cot or taking down the mobile and taking it to the charity shop along with the rest of the baby items. In the end, Alex did it, having no real emotional attachment to either of them.
Now the items sit in a cardboard box at the edge of the room. Alone and disbanded. I ignore them for now and start by cleaning the windows.
Alex chats most of the time, keeping my mind occupied. Occasionally she helps when I have to perform a two person job, such as moving the couch so I could mop the floor boards. I found an empty baby bottle that must have fallen down one afternoon. I stare at it for a moment before putting it in the box with the rest of the baby things.
I mop the floors and nail down a floorboard that has come loose. I notice that it has a hole that looks down into the bathroom below and realise that I will need to get Plaster of Paris to cover it. I ask Alex to text Tom, since I have never really gotten the hang of it. Alex disappears then reappears with my mobile phone in hand and texts for me. I finish with the attic, not even bothering to go near the baby box. I rearrange the cushions thinking that a new throw would be required.
Alex is still talking, about what I do not know. She helps the best she can, disappearing with the bucket of water and reappearing with the same bucket with new water and more disinfectant. I sigh, and close the door to the attic and move to the next room and repeat the process.
The last time I did such hard work as this was back in the 1600's, during an outbreak of the bubonic plague. Bodies were piled high around, stinking and sweltering, pus and blood pouring from every orifice. But we had to do it firstly to earn a wage, and secondly to feed off the ones that were not fully dead. Then came the startling realisation that being what I was, was not all feasts and glory. It was difficult, and pitiful.
Not that cleaning the entire house could be considered a comparison by any means possible. But the sweat rolling off my brow drew into sharp relief that I am not as young as I once was. I can literally feel my bones crumbling and my insides rotting. I am a walking, talking corpse. Reanimated into life by some cruel twist of fate, the fist of God and the handshake of the devil.
I collapse on the sofa, exhausted from cleaning the entire house from top to bottom. Alex has promised to create havoc once more whilst I am asleep tonight, so I can repeat the process tomorrow. She recognises that it keeps me busy and that I somewhat enjoy it.
It has taken longer than I initially expected, almost missing You and Yours on Radio 4 whilst cleaning out the kitchen and reception room. I realise that the carpets will need a clean, but for now I am exhausted.
Alex hands me a glass of water. She got bored half way through my cleaning and disappeared. Perhaps to watch something on the television. She never left the house though. I do think that she should. I need Tom to realise he can trust me to be left on my own. Alex also needs to get herself out of the house. She cannot stay here.
Then the overwhelming sense of guilt and shame kick in.
Tom can almost certainly not leave me on my own. I need someone to constantly supervise me until I get my cravings in check. Alex and Tom are the support I need and I feel guilty for saying that I need them as much as I do.
I finish the glass of water then go sit in the kitchen, laying out origami paper of all colours and shades. I begin folding carefully, but am able to do it at great speed. A crane takes centre of the table.
The door clicks open and Tom enters, back from work during his lunch break. He puts a bucket of Plaster of Paris on the bar work surface along with the tools needed and smiles as he makes his way through to the kitchen where I sit.
"A'right Hal?" he asks, fetching a bottle of water from the fridge. "Finished cleaning the house? Did you have your nap?"
"I haven't had time," I reply. "It took a long time to clean the house completely."
Tom nods. "Why don't you move Antiques Roadshow for today and go to bed?" He asks. "Alex can lock you in and you can call on her when you wake. Or do you want to set a time to wake up?"
"It's fine," I say. "I'm fine."
"Mate you look exhausted."
"Hardly the most flattering term you could use Tom," I say.
"I'm just saying." Tom replies. He picks up the crane and looks at it.
"An old legend." I say. "Those who make a thousand cranes may be granted one wish. They are given as presents and hung from string. They are a symbol of luck."
"How many you made?"
"I can give a rough estimate of over 24290." I say, raising an eyebrow. "I have had much time to kill."
"That's a lot of wishes," Tom says. "What you wish for?"
I smile tentatively. "I think you already know."
Tom sighs and pats my shoulder. "Got to go mate," He says. "I'll be back around four. Who's making supper tonight?"
"I believe that would be Alex," I say.
"Hey!" Alex appears. "Why have I got to make the supper? I can't eat!"
"It's on the rota," Tom says. "We have to stick to the rota." He finishes his drink before rinsing it out and putting it aside for the recycling box. "Just make something easy. Hal clears up and washes the dishes afterwards. I clean the oven."
Alex makes an inaudible huff noise before returning to watch the TV. I smile sadly before continuing. I stand and put the radio on. An upbeat tune from the fifties is playing and I can't help but hum along.
My mind drifts again to the first moment I met Leo and Pearl. Leo in the filthy disgusting cellar that I kept him in for 6 months. Escaping with him just as he was about to transform. I think I have never been more scared. Terrified about what I was doing and if I was actually going to make it out there alive. Worried for the man who was going to help me and scared if Cutler, the man I had initially chosen to be my heir would find me.
I remember the first time we met Pearl, a few weeks after we had escaped from the other vampires. We were viewing the property that would become Leo's barbershop and our home for the next fifty-five years. I spied her out of the corner of my eye, hiding from us and the realtor. She was certainly a vision.
She never explained why she died. Or how she had died. She saw it as undignified and would change the subject automatically when it came to her human life or death. The only thing that mattered to her was the here and now.
Pearl didn't like me to begin with. She saw me as seedy. She had heard about vampires from other ghosts she had met in passing. She didn't like that I was so dependent on Leo, especially going through my detox in a while. She hated the idea that I had done this before and still returned to the monster I was. Naturally she was distrusting of me and vampire's natural hatred towards werewolves.
Leo took it as just a trait that she had carried on from her human life.
Gradually Pearl began to accept me. She was not as ready to as she had been with Leo. She always remained at a considerable distance with me. That is until Leo fell ill one time in the 1970's.
Then, she realised that I would kill anyone that tried to hurt them. That I loved them and cared for them like no other I had known beforehand. Pearl then started to accept that I was here to stay.
I returned to the present with a thump as the song changed. I looked down at my fingers, bleeding slightly from the paper-cuts I had given myself. But amongst that were a flurry of cranes all different sizes and colours. I stoop over the sink and wash my hands. They sting.
I put the cranes away, filing them on top of the kitchen cupboards along with the ones that I had made the day before. I then think about what I should do next before checking the rota. It was still a while until Tom finished work and we could settle down for supper.
I sigh, and move into the living room where Alex is watching Jeremy Kyle.
She turns. "Yeah?"
"I want to go to bed."
She starts up. "Right." She grabs a key from the mantelpiece. "Do you want me to wake you up?"
"Just when it is time for supper," I say.
She nods and follows me upstairs. I get into my bed and hold out my wrists. She cuffs them to the bedframe and smiles sadly.
"If it weren't so sad, I would make a very awkward sex joke at this point," She says.
"Please, don't." I say.
She smiles. "Don't worry, I wasn't going to. Other wrist,"
I let her also manacle that one to the bed frame. I am going nowhere. Alex leaves and I lie there.
I don't fall asleep. I can't. Vampires only require a few hours to recuperate their strength, at the most three is a good number. Sometimes after a big feed a vampire can sleep for days on end. Usually because we are blood drunk.
I think about… Well nothing. There is nothing to think about. All the things I have done, I push back, away from my memory. That wasn't me. I am not that person anymore. I don't want to be reminded of what… What I am or what I can do.
Tom comes home around quarter to 5. He runs up to my room and I pretend to be asleep. He looks at me for a moment before sighing then makes his way downstairs. I hear him talking to Alex.
My mind drifts again. It drifts far. I close my eyes and the world around me engulfs in blackness.
Someone is shaking me awake. I look up and see Tom standing over me with a plate of food in one hand and a key in the other. He smiles before putting the plate to one side and helping me out of my restraints.
"I brought ya something," He says proudly. "Not perfect, but its food. I were going to wake you at five to say dinner was ready but you were fast asleep so I just left you to it."
I rub my wrists.
"Thank you," I say.
Tom nods and sits opposite me.
"Did you have a good day at work?" I ask.
He shrugs. "it were a'right. Not the same wi'out you though."
"Well," I clear my throat. "We have to continue like this until I am safe."
"How were your day?" Tom asks.
"It was productive," I reply, thinking of the box of Eve's baby things stored away in the attic and Annie's room which I didn't really have the heart to tidy.
"What you reading?" Tom pulled forward Paradise Lost and flicked it open. "What's it about?"
"It's about Lucifer's fall from heaven and the consequences of God's decisions. The backlash on humanity, the fight that endures between the angels and the demons of the world." I look over cutting up the food on my plate.
"McNair said we can never trust the devil." Tom says.
"There are always two sides to the story," I say.
"Not if you're evil like," Tom says.
"Is that you talking, or your father?" I ask.
Tom falls silent. He flicks open the book and reads from what he thinks is the middle but in reality is the beginning, since the copy has a large preface and introduction to the book. "Is this the region, this the soil, the clime –"
"Said then the lost archangel, this the seat that we must change for heav'n, this mournful gloom for that celestial light?" I finish. I look over at Tom. "I'm sorry, it's one of my favourite lines."
"It's a poem?" Tom asks.
"An epic one at that," I explain. "It is quite long."
Tom puts it down. "Not sure I'd understand it mate."
"You underestimate your intelligence." I say.
"And I think you overestimate it," Tom replies as I finish my supper. He puts the plate to one side. "Hal?"
I put the book to one side and sniff. "Yes?"
"Nothing." Tom says. "I just…" He stops and smiles sadly. "You're a good mate."
"As are you," I say.
Tom shackles me to the bed again and picks up my plate. "Goodnight Hal,"
"Goodnight Tom," I say.
He closes the door behind him and I lie in the dark, knowing that tomorrow the same process will occur. I smile at the thought. It is comforting. I turn as much as my restraints let me and close my eyes.
"Their place of rest, and Providence their guide, hand in hand with wand'ring steps and slow, through Eden took their solitary way,"