Title: Hal's Family
Spoilers: Maybe a hint too much from 4.4 'A Spectre Calls'.
Disclaimer: Being Human belongs to the BBC.
Author's Note: I initially posted this elsewhere, but have edited it a bit since then.
Three... Two... Four... One... Three...
Hal's fingers tapped their indecipherable rhythm almost subconsciously as he watched the muted picture on the television, waiting for the indent that would indicate that the Antiques Roadshow was about to start. He glanced at his watch. Was his watch fast? Or was the channel running behind?
One... Two... One... Four...
Hal silently cursed the full moon that had taken Tom from him tonight. He'd been struggling lately – though he'd be loath to admit it – and although Tom hadn't said anything Hal suspected he knew; Tom was a clumsy sod, but these past few days he'd been even worse than usual. Kitchen knives found themselves dropped on the floor repeatedly resulting in more washing up for Hal, cups of coffee found themselves overfilled resulting in stained rings needing wiped up by Hal, and – until Tom got fed up of Hal nagging him to toss salt over his left shoulder – salt shakers with mysteriously loosened tops found themselves being knocked over by a stray hand or elbow. Hal smiled fondly. Tom may not be the cleverest of the trio, but he was certainly the most observant.
Two... Four... Two... One... Three...
He examined his watch more closely, holding it to his ear even though he could hear the faint ticking indicating that the watch was working perfectly well from where it sat on his wrist. He jumped as Annie suddenly appeared at his side. Pearl was quite happy to walk from one room to another, but Annie... Annie liked shortcuts. Except when it came to making tea. The corners of his mouth twitched in an unfulfilled smile. There were so many differences between the two, he could be here until Christmas listing them (or until Tom got bored and shoved a stake through his heart!), though he was not unaware of the similarities they shared, their innate ability to assume the role of mother, and their incessant chatter were but two. Annie seemed to pick up on his tightly wound anxiety, however, and remained blissfully silent (for once).
Three... Two... Four... Two... Four... One... Three...
On the television a man was in a barn surrounded by sheep. Hal shuddered. He didn't want to think about the smell, the dirt, the noise...
On second thoughts, silence could be deafening.
"Is Eve settled?" he asked politely, unwilling to talk but unable to stand the silence any longer.
"Oh, yes – I've been playing spook–a–boo with her for the past half hour!" smiled Annie.
"Spook–a..?" Hal trailed off. He didn't want to know.
"Mm, yes! It's like peek–a–boo, only with rent–a–ghosting. Eve loves it!"
Hal nodded awkwardly, wishing he'd held his tongue.
One... Three... Two... Four...
"Don't you have any family anywhere?" asked Annie suddenly.
"I'm sorry?" he asked, so startled his thumb missed his finger.
"You know; any great–great–however–many–other–greats–great–grandkids of anything?"
"I highly doubt it," he replied, a twinge of sadness in his voice.
"You mean you don't know?"
He turned to face her. "Annie, I spent centuries killing anyone and everyone I came across – I did not spend it dropping in on the family for high tea on a Sunday."
Her brow furrowed in sadness. "Well, no, but did you never wonder––"
"No," he cut her off abruptly.
She sat quietly for several moments before she spoke again. "I could help you – you know, if you wanted to––"
"And how would you explain it to them? Hmm? Even if I claimed to be a distant cousin they would soon realise that I never aged. And if… If I ever fell off the wagon, well, I don't think I'd ever be able to get back on it if I slaughtered the last of my family line."
"You don't even have to meet them as family, Hal – you could… Oh, I don't know! It just seems such a shame that you could have family out there and you don't even know it! Aren't you in the least bit curious?"
"Annie, I can honestly say that the idea has never crossed my mind before today." And now thanks to you, I'll probably never stop thinking about it, he added in his head. "Besides, I grew up in a whore house not knowing which of six whores was my mother – and I never knew my father––"
"I'm not just referring to half–brothers or –sisters, Hal. I mean, five hundred years is a long time to be around – I'm sure you've had your fair share of women in your time–– What?" she asked, as he grinned.
"I think it's pretty safe to say I've had more than my 'fair share' of women," he laughed.
Annie let out an embarrassed giggle. "But surely that means you've fathered a child somewhere along the way––"
He held up a hand to stop her. "Most of those women I killed after I seduced them, Annie – I am a vampire. And even if I had left them alive, a vampire cannot sire children."
"Well what about before... you know?"
Hal shook his head. "None that I know of."
"But I can't believe you've never thought about having a family," she said. "Even if it's something you could never have."
"I had a family – Leo and Pearl. Now I have you and Tom and Eve. I don't need anyone else."
Annie positively beamed at him. "I'm so glad you feel that way! When you first moved in, I wasn't sure if you'd want to stay. I mean, I hoped you would, but I didn't think you would. And I know things were awkward between us all at the start, and then just as we seemed to be finding our feet Kirby came along, and, well, I didn't exactly treat you fairly–– No, don't say it," she wagged a finger at him as he opened his mouth to protest. "I didn't. And I thought maybe you'd leave then. But, well, you didn't. And here you are!"
He stared at her in stunned silence. He'd been forced upon her, another burden to shoulder, yet she wanted him here?
"I'll pop the kettle on," she smiled, and with a pat on his knee she rent-a-ghosted into the kitchen.