Title: From the Honolulu Heights Guestbook
Fandoms: Being Human, Jewish Folklore, Torchwood, Merlin
Characters: Annie, George, Mitchell, OMC, Suzie (Torchwood), Freya (Merlin); Annie-centric with a bit of Annie/Mitchell
Contains: Reference to canon character deaths; spoilers through Being Human 3x04, Torchwood 1x08, Merlin 2x09
Notes: Set of three Being Human crossovers written for kaizoku for the purimgifts challenge, originally posted in 3 parts at the AO3. Thanks to slightlytookish for betaing!
Summary: Some other people who turned up at the B&B, and what Annie thought of them.
Part I: In the Attic
Ladder leading to the attic of the Old New Synagogue in Prague, where Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel is sometimes said to have hidden the body of the golem he created
Annie was tidying up in the attic when she saw it, a movement, a shadow, out of the corner of her eye, and dropped the rag and the wood polish she'd been carrying.
"Oh!" she screamed, wheeling around to face a large man, with stocky limbs and coarse features, ruddy skin and a mud-brown mop of hair.
"Oh!" she said again, trying to put a cheerful note in it this time. "Hello, didn't see you there!"
The man stepped back and lowered his eyes. "You startled me," she explained. "Not that there's anything scary about you, in particular," except that there was something terribly frightening about that blank face, not to mention that, if she still had a body, he could easily crush it with his hands. She smiled determinedly. "It's just, we rented this place, my friends and me, and we weren't expecting anybody else to be hiding out in the attic."
He lifted his eyes to stare at her again but otherwise didn't move. "And you can see me? So, are you dead too then?" He shook his head. "Vampire? Werewolf? It's all right, you know, nothing to be embarrassed about! Not with this group." She paused. "Which is not to say that you'd necessarily be able to be part of our group and stay here – or that you'd want to! I just mean, the others sometimes get nervous, about who could find out about us, that kind of thing, but it's nothing against you, personally, or what you are, in case that's what's got your tongue."
He pointed to his mouth and shook his head again.
"You can't speak at all?"
"Okay, that's fine. Could you write, do you think?"
The man shrugged while Annie glanced around looking for a pen and paper.
"Right, you stay here, don't move a muscle, back in a tick."
She popped down to the lobby and grabbed the old Honolulu Heights guestbook from the counter.
(It didn't make sense that they should hold onto it, but Annie didn't have it in her to throw it away, not with the memories people had left there. The newlyweds who couldn't afford a real island getaway. The lonely business traveller who wished the newlyweds wouldn't make so much bloody noise. The teenager who wished he could have his own job and be done travelling with his parents.)
"Here you are," she said brightly as she reappeared in the attic, and the man's face startled but the rest of him kept still, as if he were restraining himself with great effort. "I brought –" Annie started. "Say, you…you can move if you want. When I said…" She laid a hand on his broad shoulder and only felt it tense more. "It's all right, go ahead and relax," she said, and finally he slumped and breathed a deep sigh.
"Look," she said, "here's the guestbook, and it seems you're our guest, at least for the moment. Try writing your name. That is –" she was starting to realise she needed to be careful with the instructions she issued – "if you don't think it'll harm you, try writing your name."
He gripped the pen clumsily and made some marks on the page.
"No, other way round, see? Start on the left…" She took the pen from him and wrote her name neatly underneath what he'd done. "I'm Annie, and you are?"
But he made the same three marks again – they weren't just a random scrawl. Peering more closely Annie realised that the symbol on the right looked familiar. "Oh, but that's – hold on, I'll get George."
She stopped herself and added, "Hold on, or sit down, or lie down on the bed, whatever's comfortable, that's all I meant. Make yourself at home."
George's mouth and face twisted up as he tried out different sounds, complaining that he hadn't practiced this since his bar mitzvah, that he'd have a much easier time with French or Croatian, before he finally came up with Emmett as a name and their guest smiled and nodded in recognition. He parted the fringe on his forehead and Annie gasped to see the same three letters marked on his skin.
The next day Annie asked Emmett to wash the dishes and he kept on washing, clean ones as well as dirty, for two hours, before Nina finally noticed there was no hot water, and Annie went back to the kitchen, turned off the tap, and led him by the hand back to the attic.
He also took making himself at home to mean defending the house against anyone he thought didn't belong there, including Adam, Tom, a pair of missionaries, the gasman, and even Mitchell.
They took to locking the door to the attic.
George sat on the sofa with the guestbook and a book of folktales from the library open on his lap. He covered up the aleph with his thumb and said, "Take it away and you get met. Dead."
"This doesn't even make any sense," said Mitchell. "It's just a mark, it's not even –"
"If it worked for the Maharal of Prague –"
"We can't kill him though," said Annie. "That's not us, that's not what we do."
And Mitchell and Nina looked at the floor, but George said, "He was never alive. The golem was created just to be someone's slave, and that person's abandoned him already. Keeping him like this is what's cruel."
Annie had never seen Emmett look so calm and relieved as when she told him they were going out for a picnic at the seaside. Annie wrapped her arms around his great torso, leaned against his chest, and listened to the waves. Emmet gently guided George's hand as George rubbed the aleph off his forehead, and there was no scream of pain, no door, no static and no forms to sign. Just a mound of sand and clay among so much other sand on the beach. The tide was starting to rise.
Porthkerry Beach near Barry, Wales
Part II: Out the Door
Annie was lying next to Mitchell while he slept, watching him breathe, feeling his warmth. That was weird – she used to think vampires were cold to the touch, but of course that would arouse a lot of suspicion, wouldn't it? Well, that was just stories anyway, and Annie hadn't given it much thought. She hadn't really believed in vampires back then, back when she was alive.
Annie closed her eyes and concentrated on Mitchell's warmth. She tried to be like that, warm and present, the kind of woman he could feel sleeping next to him. The kind of person who would bring him comfort, even when he was sleeping and didn't actually know she was here.
When she opened her eyes there was another woman kissing her on the lips.
Annie didn't scream this time. She gripped Mitchell's arm with one hand and shoved the woman away with the other, and shuddered with her whole body. Mitchell woke up with a cry. (He'd felt her! If she weren't trying to figure out what this woman was doing in Mitchell's bed she'd be excited about that.)
"Who are you?" Annie asked, while Mitchell shouted, "Get out of here!"
"I'm nobody, I'm nothing."
Then Annie noticed that Mitchell's hand went right through the woman's chest, the white fabric of her trench coat.
"Oh hey!" Annie said. "You probably just think you're nothing because you're not used to this yet, but don't let it get you down."
"Annie," said Mitchell, "we can't keep going on like this. Just because we have empty rooms in this house doesn't mean it's a good idea to take in every monster that shows up in our lives."
"Oh, Mitchell, don't talk like that. How would you feel if you'd just died and no one even wanted to take the time to explain it to you?"
"I'm not dead," said the woman.
"Oh, sweetie, I know it takes some time to get used to the idea but –"
"No," and her voice was suddenly much colder, "I've been dead before, I know what that's like. I came back. I can't die now."
"Not this again," said Mitchell.
"And don't call me sweetie."
"Who, me? Excuse me, you're the one who just crawled into bed with me and my boyfriend and started kissing me."
"Oh don't flatter yourself. I was just trying to –"
"What?" Annie demanded.
The woman shrugged. "Thought maybe I could get at your life energy that way."
"Ha!" said Annie. "Well, it just so happens I don't have any life energy, 'cause I'm dead, see? My boyfriend killed me. So there!"
"And you're still sleeping with him?"
"What? No! Mitchell wouldn't – Mitchell is –" She took a breath. "Er, no, my previous boyfriend. Threw me down the stairs."
"Ah. Fair enough. I do generally prefer women, but I used to have kind of a thing for my boss – he was the kind of guy who defied categories, you know how it is – but he shot me. Sort of a lot of times, actually…" Annie was pleased to notice she didn't see any bullet wounds and the woman didn't smell. "Still, I don't think you're in any position to be giving me advice."
"Oh, no, but I am!" Annie sat up and turned on the light, feeling more confident now. Mitchell glowered and she decided to ignore him. He'd come around, or not, but their new guest didn't seem to care either way. "See, I used to be a pretty mousy little ghost, but then someone else who was more experienced helped me figure some things out. So it's a lot to do with, what are you still here for? Are you just looking for a way out, or is there something else that's keeping you here?"
"Keeping me out of there, you mean." The woman frowned. "So you're saying I'm a ghost now and it's, there's something… No, it's not that I care about being – where is here, exactly?"
"Barry's finest supernatural B&B," Mitchell grumbled.
"Oh, no, that is not acceptable. If I'm going to be stuck on earth without corporeal form, it's not gonna be in bloody Barry."
"What, sorry, our home isn't good enough for you? I'll have you know this was a very desirable place once. Before…"
"Before you freaks moved into it, right. Have a good time sleeping with the boyfriend who didn't murder you, though I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out he'd murdered someone else. They all let you down in the end."
Annie got up to follow her out the bedroom door, adjusting her top around her shoulders. "So that's it? You're leaving now?"
"I'll haunt Cardiff at the very least. See how team Torchwood feel about that." She sighed and added, "Stopwatch," with a bitterness Annie couldn't even begin to understand.
The woman walked down the stairs and through the lobby without turning back, but once she'd opened the front door she lingered for a moment.
"I thought I wanted this," she said softly, "or something like it anyway. To stay at the edges. In the doorway, on the rift."
"It gets tiring," said Annie, standing next to her, not touching. "But if that's where the people you care about are…"
She laughed unhappily. "Does that include the people I hate?"
Annie swallowed. "That can be a reason to stay too, I suppose. I can't think it would be very fulfilling…"
The woman stepped outside. "That's all right," she said. "I'll take my chances in the dark."
Part III: At the Foundations
"No, you can't. I won't go down there. I can't go in a cage again." She wouldn't even stand near the stairs to the basement, pulled back to the lobby and curled up on the sofa with her arms around her knees. Annie knew the feeling.
"Freya," said Nina, "you need to stay calm. George and I have done this lots of times. It's just for a few hours, really no big deal." Nina had a good voice for a nurse, Annie thought, very calm and soothing, though it was a good thing Freya wasn't looking too closely, with the way Nina was rolling her eyes.
"Listen," said George, in the manner of someone who would give her a hug if she didn't look quite so terrified. "You've been through some bad stuff before. That doesn't mean all cages have to be bad."
"Cages can be what keeps you safe," said Mitchell. "Annie and I spent the last full moon inside a cage with four werewolves outside, trying to break in and kill me."
"That was a bad cage," George said quickly, as Freya started to shake. Annie swatted at Mitchell's arm as George continued, "And that happened because someone wanted to hurt us, but see, I got this cage so Nina and I can go on with our lives without anybody getting hurt."
"Isn't that what you want too, Freya?" said Nina. "That's all we want, is to help you."
"Anyway," said George, "it doesn't have to be scary, or even sad. There's all kinds – some people put each other in cages just for fun!"
Freya looked puzzled and Annie mouthed, "It's a sex thing." Freya covered her face with her hands.
"Look," said Nina, gently pulling at her wrist and meeting her eyes, "we're not gonna try and convince you it's fun. It's just something you…it's part of who we are now, and we've got to live with it. I wasn't happy about it at first either."
"It's different for you though," said Mitchell, and Nina glared at him. "Freya, when you transform, you're the bastet, but you're still you, aren't you?"
She looked at him.
"You've hurt people. You've killed people."
"And you remember it all, don't you?"
"That's why you don't get it," said Mitchell, looking to George and Nina. "We can't put it away, like it's just a few hours that happened to someone else. It's us, and we have to live with it, every fucking –"
"All right, thank you, Mitchell. Obviously, we know you feel bad," said Annie, and she smiled at Nina, who wasn't even trying to hide her impatience now. "But you see, Freya, that's what everyone here has in common, whether the killer is you or something else that lives inside you, whether or not it's under your control. Someone put a curse on you, you said?"
"And that wasn't your fault," said Nina, "but it is your responsibility now. There's just no getting away from that."
"That's why we want you to stay with us," said Annie. "At least until you figure out how to get this under control and live with it on your own. You can do this, love. We can't stop you from changing, but we can stop you from hurting anyone. I know that's what you want."
Freya insisted on going down alone and locking the cage herself – she'd be able to let herself out once she got her own hands back, she said. She didn't want anyone to see her.
But when Annie jumped down to the basement and sat beside her in the cage, Freya didn't tell her to leave.
"I brought some books," Annie said. "I could read to you if you like. We've got…let's see, The Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague, Le Morte d'Arthur, and, um, Twilight: New Moon. That's the second in the series, but I can catch you up if you haven't read the first. Oh, and then sometimes when I can't concentrate that hard I just page through this –"
"Annie, how did you die? Is it true it was someone you loved?"
"Ohhh… Oh, but that's a bit of a depressing story, isn't it? Why don't I tell you about Bella instead?"
"I didn't think anyone would understand," said Freya. "I still don't – I mean, the last person I was with, he was sure he was just like me, but he didn't know anything, not really. And with you, the four of you, it's different. Because none of you are quite like me but then, you're not like each other either, and you still…you still help each other get through it."
Annie set down the books and came to sit close to her, clasping her hand. "Yes," she said. "Yes, that's exactly what we do."
Freya smiled and then let go with a shudder. She shut her eyes and stretched forward, bracing herself with her hands on the floor. "It's coming," she warned.
"I know," said Annie. "I won't leave. You'll still be you, and I'll be right here."