Final chapter and once more we flash forward, this time to the present day. I've set it post the series 4 finale. It's set after the explosion at Stokers and Hal has detoxed yet again. All errors are my own.
Thank you to those who have been reading this and commenting, your thoughts are always appreciated. Once more, thank you to Lady Athenais for the idea.
Everything is in utter chaos.
Kate surveys the blackened blown apart hull of the building that houses the obliterated remains of several Old Ones. The explosion pulverised them, they were gone as in completely proper dead. The most shocking revelation is the fact that Mr Snow had been there and now he is in the ether with his other compatriots.
He's left behind a world balancing on a knife edge.
London is threatening anarchy; Bristol is close to falling apart and Barry itself…well…
Rumour has it that an old friend of hers has taken up residence in Barry and she wants to see for herself whether those rumours are true or not.
The little bell above the door jangles with annoying jocularity as she enters the café. She glances irritably up at it as she pauses and looks around at the empty tables, at the neat collection of ketchup bottles and salt and pepper cellars on each surface. She barely represses a shudder. It all seems to depressing, so...pathetic somehow. This is where he works? As she returns her attention to the counter she sees him emerge from a back room, an expression of hesitant welcome on his face that promptly fades when he sees her.
"Kate." he greets neutrally. He doesn't seem surprised to see her.
"Hal…or are you going by another name now, you don't look like a Harold to me somehow." The faintest of smiles crosses Hal's face as he comes around the counter.
"It's Hal. It always was. What are you doing here Kate?"
"Catching up with old friends. Join me for a coffee old friend or is it too busy for you?" she makes a show of looking around at the empty tables. His answering smile is faint.
"No, not too busy. Take a seat." Kate watches him disappear briefly from view.
He returns carrying two squat white cups. He places one in front of Kate and then slides into the seat opposite her. For a moment they just look at each other. She has to admit, he looks good.
"Last I knew you were in Southend."
"I was. We ended up here a few months ago."
"To do with the War Child?" Hal just shrugs.
"Then Mr Snow found you?" she watches how Hal's gaze flicks over to the corner of the room for a moment before looking back at her.
"As I discovered, he never really misplaced me. He knew where I was all along and just let me have the time off." he looks down at his cup.
"Hmm…he's a sly one or at least he was." Kate comments and takes a sip of her coffee. It's hot and not too strong, how she likes it.
"So why weren't you in that warehouse?" she asks. Hal looks at her.
"I could ask you the same question."
"Unavoidable delays I'm afraid. London keeps me busy. Plus between you and me, I wasn't all that interested in what a baby had to offer us good or bad, they're noisy messy things." she pretends to shudder and Hal smiles faintly.
"Well it saved your life. What are you doing here Kate?"
"I heard you were here and I have a proposition for you." She watches the wary expression that crosses his face. She leans forward, resting her elbows on the surprisingly clean table top.
"We're losing order in the major cities Hal. Bristol is teetering and London is threatening anarchy. They need someone like you to step in and uphold it. They need a figurehead again. We need you to help to take control."
" We? London is yours Kate, completely yours. You're the oldest one left am I right?"
"You are and despite that I can't do it by myself. I need you Hal. We could do it together. It could be like old times." She hears him sigh and he sits back in his chair. He shakes his head.
"What do you mean can't?" Kate demands and Hal frowns.
"I mean that I don't want to." he elucidates.
"It's been over fifty five years, close to seventy since…"
"The cycle is still on-going Kate and I won't do anything to jeopardise it. Nothing has changed."
"Except that the life you lived in Southend is now here, the arse end of South Wales. Are you really satisfied with your lot? With your jailer and his warden watching your every moment. Where are they by the way?" She sits forward and glares at him.
"You don't have to do any of this, you could walk back today and you'd be immediately accepted…lauded even." she retaliates irritably but Hal's gaze is steady.
"I know and to answer your question then yes I am. I'm as happy as I'm ever going to be here in South Wales. London is yours, it always has been and I'm sure you'll find someone else to take control in Bristol, I'm sure they're chomping at the bit. I'm not interested, not anymore. I want to be left alone."
"You're making a big mistake, you do realise that don't you?"
"Then it's my mistake to make." He gets to his feet.
"It's been…interesting to see you again Kate but I must request that you don't come back." She frowns.
"I remember you telling me about your cycles, of how long they last and by my reckoning this one should be coming to an end, it's why I came here."
"Then you've had a wasted journey. I'm sorry Kate but the answer is still no."
"I won't be the only one to pay you a visit with the same request you know." She watches as Hal retreats to behind the counter. He seems to take a deep breath as he faces her.
"I know. My answer will always be the same."
"You're awfully confident about that." Hal shrugs nonchalantly.
"So that's it?" Kate exclaims and he regards her calmly.
"That's it." he confirms.
Hal watches her leave and he knows that he won't see her again. He feels a faint pang as he remembers their times together.
Hal is close to dropping with exhaustion by the time he walks through the door. Last night was a full moon and working by himself at the café today while Tom recovered at home was almost more than he could handle but he didn't want to let him down and in turn he didn't want to let Leo down. As he closes the door, Tom comes into view, happy, smiling Tom who several months ago he despised. Now he considers him a friend.
"Dinner'll be ready soon if yer 'ungry." he tells him and Hal quietly sighs.
"I've already eaten thanks, I think I'll just…" he points to the staircase and he sees Tom's expression change.
"Oh…okay…" he answers and it makes him feel guilty.
"I'll have something later then, save me some." he compromises and Tom smiles that childishly innocent smile that is a contradiction in terms given what he turns into once a month. It makes Hal feel marginally better.
Hal climbs the stairs with heavy footsteps and heads to his room almost gratefully.
Every muscle in his body aches and he just wants to sleep but he knows that he can't, not right now or he won't be able to sleep when he needs to.
He wasn't completely shocked by Kate's reappearance at the cafe today. To be honest he's been expecting her to show her face since the explosion at the docks. He's been expecting her to make a bid for absolute power or to ask his assistance while she did. Kate doesn't need his help; she'll do well enough by herself.
He remembers what he told her about his cycles and how this one was a cycle still in progress.
He wasn't being completely truthful, for the last few weeks he's been sensing a change inside of him, a change that unsettles him.
Someone is clawing their way to the surface.