"Mitchell is still gone." Nina and George looked around the room with anxious eyes. It pained me to tell them. Nina's hands cradled little Eve. I looked at the two of them with a forced happy look in my eyes. They didn't know what I had to do to bring them back. Sikes had helped me into Purgatory for me to consult with Josie on a way to bring Nina, George, and Mitchell. The only few things that I had been told about the deal was that I was trading my ghost immortality for my friends, but I would gain human qualities.
I was a ghost. I had died, well been killed, by my fiancé Owen in 2007. Even though several Crossover doors had appeared, I had managed to stay on Earth and reject them. I wanted to stay with my friends. Mitchell had been a vampire, infected by his general Herrick in a war, and George was a werewolf. George had been bitten by Tully and during his transformation he had infected his girlfriend Nina. They had mated during a transformation together and Eve had been brought into the world a few months after.
Mitchell had problems with blood lust, and when he and George had moved into my house, he had tried to get a better grip on it. He had romped around with a girl in a hotel room. He had accidently changed her, and she had killed a nurse the boys had worked with. Mitchell had been devastated at the lost he had accidentally caused and deterred from blood again. Now the girl was gone, begged to be killed by Mitchell and getting her wish. But the struggle for blood still remained in Mitchell's heart.
I had understood what I had been told, puzzling over on little I had learned, but then, before I had even took a single step to the Crossover door to go back, Lia had told me Mitchell's request on his journey in his own Purgatory to get me: He had wanted to see the faces and hear the names of all of his victims. He had wanted to suffer, because that was what he felt that he had deserved. Lia told me that Mitchell was still in that process, and was feeling immensely guilty.
"But that is very good," she told me, "one, it means that he'll be able to come back more quickly. And two, he will realize that he wasn't as big as a monster that he feared. Now to the victims, he is the worst human on Earth. But if they learned to forgive him, like me, they will see that he isn't so bad."
When that hadn't been enough, she had let me go with, "He truly does care for you Annie."
I had just smiled and said, "I know."
I got jolted out of my thoughts when George said, "We'll get him back, Annie." I looked up at him in shock. He had been so bitter to Mitchell right before Mitchell had come back -and confessed such a weakness that thinking of it now had my heart clenching in sympathy- and now he wanted Mitchell back?
Tom and Hal came up behind us. "Great," Hal said half joking, "I'll have someone who is like me around here."
We grinned at that. "Well," I walked toward the kitchen. "I'll make some tea." I needed something to take my mind off of Mitchell. I needed some normalcy.
I went to the cupboards to pull out the chamomile and lemon tea packets. I set the water on to boil and called to the bar. "Who wants lemon?"
Nina and Hal asked for chamomile while George and Tom asked for lemon.
The water boiled and I began to pour the water into their favorite cups. Hal likes the blood red cup, to me it is, but he calls it burgundy. Tom likes the cup with the full moon shining over Shark Bay, Nina likes the cup with the Red Cross Foundation symbol on it. George likes the cup with the coffee cup on it, the irony that I felt when he first declared it was his favorite made me laugh every time I saw him drinking out of it, and Mitchell likes the cup-
"Annie!" I jumped, nearly dropping Tom's cup. Hal grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me away from the hot boiling water that I suddenly notice is spilling onto the counter. The hot kettle managed to make a safe landing on the counter. George and Tom yanked the dish towels off of the towel-holder on the oven and began wiping up the hot water.
"Annie," Hal turned me to face him while I looked into his eyes, "are you all right?"
I managed a shaky nod before I teleport to the bathroom. I locked the door with the mental image of my hand turning the lock before I sink down onto the toilet with the lid down. I began to sob. Mitchell, I need you back.
I stayed in the bathroom for a few hours, only leaving when the others needed to use the bathroom. And even then I managed to avoid them by teleporting into a different part of the house. Tom knocks on the door immediately when I teleport back, demanding if I'm okay. I yell at him to go, and then cry harder when he does. I don't manage to be quiet. I was about positive that my sobs can be heard throughout the house.
The thing that kills me about the whole situation is that it has been a month since Mitchell died and I still can't believe it. It was like losing Nina and George only worse. How can the pain of losing your best friend feel any worse?
Memories of Mitchell filled up my mind while I sat there bawling my eyes out. Mitchell twirling me around so fast I almost felt dizzy, then to be jerked to a stop and wait while he puts a multicolored lei over my head. I hosted a dance party where everyone was dancing a Hawaiian dance where everyone is pressed together - everyone but Hal and Tom who weren't in our lives yet. Mitchell's body that is so close to mine that I could almost feel it. I remembered the toast that Mitchell hosted, a toast that was welcoming me back-
Nina knocked at the door, and from the sound of it she has been at it for some time. I considered opening the door, then decided to teleport into the kitchen. I would get her attention in a few moments.
When I peeked into the living room, George is rocking Eve who stared at him with joyful eyes. Does she remember him? Tom is sipping his tea at the bar. George and Tom looked up at me.
"Are you all right-" George began but I interrupted him.
"We're having a toast," I said, beginning to dig into the cabinets for vodka. I froze for a moment and then pulled out red wine.
Nina came down the stairs. "Have you seen-" She spotted me in the kitchen. "There you are-"
"Nina, you're not still breastfeeding are you?" I asked, holding up the vodka and red wine bottles.
Nina looked around self-consciously, her short blond hair tousled, "Annie-"
"Answer the question." They needed this toast, and since I was leaving soon –for a short while- I needed it too.
Nina gave me the tiniest nod and the sight of it reminded me of Mitchell nodding at George when he saw that George had shoved the stake through his chest-
I turned back to the cabinets before Nina could see my face spasm in agony. Mitchell, why did you ask to leave me? Why did you have George stake you and take you away from me so permanently?
I pulled myself together with a small deep breath and pour the vodka and red wine into wine glasses. "Vodka for whom?" I offered.
Tom and Hal asked for the vodka while George and Nina take the red wine. I pour another two cups filled with vodka and wine before putting all the cups on my serving tray.
I took the tray in my hands and paste a smile to my face before I walked out the kitchen. I hand everyone their cups, and take one myself.
"Whose is that?" Hal asked, pointing at the remaining cup on the tray. I thought about it for a moment and realized that I subconsciously poured a cup for Mitchell. I took the cup with shaking hands and looked up with emotionless eyes when Hal exclaimed, "Ow!" Tom flashed an apologetic glance at me and I realized that he kicked Hal under the table.
For whatever reason, I can't bring myself to laugh but managed a small smile. "Sorry guys."
They all take a look at my face then glanced at each other. I wondered what my face looked like. I put on a bigger smile and say, "To George and Nina!"
"To George and Nina!" Tom and Hal echoed me and we all gulp down our drinks. I could almost taste it.
I held Mitchell's glass in one hand while eyeing Nina, who is staring at me without trying to hide it. Swallowing back tears, I gulp down the wine that was meant for Mitchell.
"Annie, what do you think?" Tom said. I looked at his hands that are holding a red and a pink onesie. "Which one? Red or pink?"
"Pink." I managed a smile. Tom nodded and handed the onesie to George who goes upstairs to put it on Eve. Tom glanced up at me, and then froze.
"Tom? What's wrong?" I said, almost getting up to sit somewhere else. Hal has started staring at me! Even George can't help but stare at me sometimes. What's with everyone?
Tom blinked. "You've been fading in and out, Annie."
"What?" Fading? Like I knew how to do that.
"It started when George and Nina came back." Tom stared at me with a gaze that became more piercing by the second. "I swear to God that I can see right through you, Annie. How are you doing it?"
"What do you mean? I can't control it." I pushed my curly hair behind my ear. "I haven't felt off or anything."
"You're sure?" Tom winced. He reached out with his arm to touch my knee. His eyes widened and then he pulled away before he made contact. "I can't believe you're not controlling it. You've been so solid ever since I met you, and now seeing you almost transparent like this, it looks like a parlor trick."
I stood up. "Sorry Tom. Once I figure out why I'm 'fading', I'll let you know. And I'll stop it somehow." This was good. It gave me something to do.
Tom shook his head before standing up. He had a tea cup in his hand and walked into the kitchen. I waited until Tom was out of earshot before I looked around the house. Hal was upstairs sleeping in one of the guest rooms.
"Anna." I whirled around, feeling a warm light reaching out to touch me. A door appeared on the palm tree wall. Sikes and Josie are standing on either side of the door, their skin set aglow of the door. Lia had called me. She stared at me now. "It's time."
Tom pushed the kitchen door open. "Annie, do you want me to make some tea for once? Now even though you can't taste your own, I promise you that it would be half as good as that-" Tom stopped when he saw the door and my visitors.
"I have to go." I said, already edging toward the door.
Tom opened his mouth to protest, looking around the room before realizing that everyone is upstairs. He managed to think of a name to call. "Hal!" Tom yelled, his body stiff. "Hal, wake up! Come downstairs!"
"Tom, I have to do this. I'm going to get back Mitchell." I was almost to the door.
Tom stared at me, realizing that he couldn't stop me. "Don't go." He pleaded.
I shook my head. "Take care of them, Tom." I took another step to the door. "Hal, especially."
I walked in the door, passing the threshold. I turned around, looking at Tom. I put my hand up in a wave, not moving when Josie and Sikes stand in front of me for a moment when they walk inside the door. Tom stared at me with sadness in his eyes. I began to move my mouth to say that I would return before the warmth of the light seems to envelope me. I felt numb and closed my eyes to block out the white light, listening to the door closing.
"Are you ready, Annie?" Sikes's breath is close to my ear. The door closes after he paused. "You know what you're doing?"
I nodded. Lia began speaking, "You weren't informed about the rest of the deal because we needed to see whether you would risk your ghost immortality for someone you cared about –loved- and go in the dark to bring them back." Lia seemed to smile when she went on, "Mitchell is already on his way back now. It has been a week since Nina and George have returned, and now he is on his journey back. He might be back before you begin your journey."
Sikes spoke next, "You are surrendering some of your ghost qualities for Mitchell to return. You must know that Mitchell is coming back as he was when he died: he has the need to drink blood although he is clean. That is really the most important part." Sikes strokes my cheek with three fingers. "The Mitchell you love is returning, Annie."
I felt myself smile when Lia speaks, "You are giving up your invisibility, though you must be happy about that. However, the ability is being surrendered for the need for blood that becomes stronger for you than normal vampires the more you resist blood. You are still immortal but you have a human body now and have human senses and needs. When you are back in the first few years, the senses will feel a bit more intense than when you remember, and they might stay that way considering that you went without your senses for over two years."
Sikes said, "Your ghost powers become more affected like when you teleport and control objects, and become affected by intense emotions. You are a type five; you are part vampire which is a large part because of your need for blood and immortality. You are part human because now you have human senses and needs. The smallest part of you is the ghost part, which only consists of your powers. Annie, is this what you want?"
I nodded. "When George, Nina, and Tom have their next transformation, the pain has been toned down several notches, and they become immortal."
Lia spoke, "The pain, yes. And Eve as well, but they will still age. But age only physically one year every two decades. They will never die though Annie. They don't even gain wrinkles. For the most, they'll just need to work out more." She grinned.
"That's all I want." I said.
Sikes said, "Now, Annie, you do not have the vampire part with you right now. You will encounter one who gives you the bite."
For a moment, I felt such an intense fear that I almost fainted.
"I still want to go through with this." I said, struggling to push the panic away.
Josie has a smile in her voice. "This is all you're getting, but you are getting a lot."
"I know." My voice grew small.
Sikes spoke quietly, "Your injuries will catch up with you."
Lia rebuked him. "She doesn't care, Sikes. Let her go already!"
"Very well," Sikes sounded pleasant, "good luck, Annie. We'll see you around."
They bid me more luck but their voices began to fade away. The warmth and numbness leave my body.
For a moment, I felt the fear again.
I pushed it aside and opened my eyes.