[identity profile] mollivanders.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] prefer_my_life
Title: radio silence
Fandom: Being Human
Rating: PG
Characters: Hal/Alex, Tom
Author's Note: Word Count – 2,175. Set Post-S5, a little AU from the extra DVD scene but still the same general idea.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to the BBC, as always.



The longer she lives, the brighter the world seems to get.

“Are you seeing this?” she asks, stopping midstep as she and Hal carry groceries back home. He shifts the paper sack in his arms uncomfortably, heavy from the long walk. She’s not the only one having trouble adjusting to not being supernatural anymore.

(She’s walked into three walls this week alone.)

Hal squints up at the sunset, then back to her drinking in the mix of the orange and purple glare.

“The sunset?” he asks, his confusion clear, and Alex nods. “Yeah,” she says, and tears her eyes away. “Though I suppose you’ve seen so many,” she adds, “you don’t notice them.”

“No,” he says, and they keep walking in silence.

(There’s been a lot of that lately.)

+

Everything is harder, brighter, clearer. It becomes more difficult to fall asleep, to stand in crowds of people. The jangle of life is a powerful drug, and Alex remembers her mother’s chide when she was a young girl, gorging herself on spaghetti.

“You can have too much of a good thing,” she’d said, her voice now nothing more than a wisp of a memory.

Tom and Hal, on the other hand, sleep like logs. One morning, when Tom hasn’t shown up even after the bacon has crisped and the kitchen is thick with the smell of breakfast, she knocks on each of their doors to rouse them. When Hal’s door swings wide open, she catches a glimpse of his deathly pale face.

“Hal!” she yells, frightened, and he wakes with a jolt.

“There’s no need to shout,” he says, blinking at the bright sunlight cast across his bed, and swings out of bed with a shiver.

“I thought you were dead,” she says, still shaken, and backs away towards Tom’s room.

“That’s not likely,” Hal replies, and shuts his door.

+

They put off visiting her dad and brothers for a week, then two, then a month.

“Do you not want to see them?” Tom asks and she flinches, Hal covering her hand with his own.

(Hal particularly seems less aware of his touch, of his personal space, of all the details that once defined him as a person.)

“The transition is difficult,” he says, and Alex snaps her hand back. She can feel his voice rumble through the lightest skin contact, and sleep deprived as she is, she can’t disguise it.

“Alex,” Hal says in surprise, and she puts on a bright smile that mollifies them both.

“I just need a walk,” she says, but sneaks back in through the rear door and slips into her room, shutting the light.

The darkness envelops her, and she sinks into it with relief.

+

She dreams – dreams of Annie calling out to her, of a baby crying in the dark, of a wolf snarling at the door –

She doesn’t dream for long.

+

By some tacit agreement, they all stop mentioning her family.

They stop mentioning a lot of things.

+

One night, well past midnight, Alex finds Hal scrubbing dishes, up to his elbows in suds.

“Can’t sleep?” he asks conversationally and Alex shrugs, hugging her arms to her chest. She leans against the counter, well within his personal bubble, and jumps at the electric tether that has snapped into place. It’s a tether that has nothing to do with their unresolved…unresolvedness, she thinks, unwilling to entertain more noise in her already crowded mind. It’s something more, and when she shifts uncomfortably, he seems to feel it as well, jerking his hands out of the water.

(Somewhere, a baby is crying.)

“No,” she says, her voice gravelly. She picks up the brand of soap he uses, the faint sheen of sweat on his neck, the crisp detergent scent on his shirt, and the subtle rustle of his hair. She raises a tentative hand to touch it and when he doesn’t back away, she slides her fingers through the cropped hair.

(Every nerve of her body is wired and jumps at the contact.)

“I can’t sleep at all,” she says, eyes stuck on her hand, but as Hal begins to reply, she hears the faint bark of a dog – just the neighbor’s, this time – and she falls back, the spell broken.

“Sorry,” she fumbles, the shape of the words uneasy in her mouth, and leaves Hal alone with the dishes.

+

She dreams. She dreams of the Devil.

He appears as an old man in his crisp black suit, wearing a red tie to match the red stains on his teeth.

“Wake up, Alex,” he purrs, stepping closer.

(She doesn't want to sleep, does she?)

“Wake up, Alex,” he hisses, his teeth sharpening and his breath foul as he breathes on her. She’s choking in her dream – if she dies in her sleep she’ll die for real – and as his jaw unhinges like a snake’s she knows he’ll swallow her whole.

“Wake. Up.,” he gurgles, and she does. She wakes screaming, Hal and Tom shaking her, plain fear in their eyes.

“Alex, Alex,” Tom repeats, “it was just a dream. Just a nightmare.” His wide, honest eyes are full of worry and she falls back on her bed with a frustrated sigh.

“Alex,” Hal says, his voice impossibly low. “Are you alright?” She slides her eyes open again and finds Hal watching her with too much understanding. An unspoken agreement emerges between them.

“I could do with a cup of tea,” she says, and her fists unclench from the sheets.

+

They talk the next morning, outside in the garden while Tom is at work. For the first time in weeks, Alex tries to appreciate the sounds, the smells, the sights.

(It will only be this hard, this bright, this clear, for so much longer.)

“How long have you known?” she asks Hal, and she stares into her breakfast tea, now gone cold.

“Known?” he echoes. “Last night. Suspected?” He breathes out heavily. “It’s been hard to think clearly for a while now. My thoughts are…fuzzy.”

It’s an odd word choice for him that makes Alex glance over. “Like being on the blood?”

He shakes his head. “No, just the opposite.”

She considers this a moment and then tips the contents of her mug out on the grass. “It seems a few things got lost,” she theorizes. “In the…translation.” He smiles with a sense of the irony. “Any ideas on how to defeat him this time?” she asks, leaning back. “Maybe not give him any bright ideas?”

He huffs, leaning back as well, and their legs stretch out from the shadows into the sun.

“We have to tell Tom,” Hal poses, and she nods. “He doesn't know?”

“He can’t remember what being a human is actually like,” he says quietly.

“We’re all adjusting,” she echoes.

+

It’s not like the Devil doesn't know that they’re coming, that the game is up, and yet – the world does not dissolve around them. If anything, it seems to clench tighter, as though to trap them in this corner of Wales forever, in the house they each of them loved differently. Alex cannot sleep at all now, though it no longer seems that she needs sleep, and she forbids Tom and Hal from sleeping at all, fearful that they will never wake.

“Have another Red Bull,” she says, passing each of them a can, and actually laughs at the look on Hal’s face.

“Come on, mate, it’s not that bad,” Tom says. “I’ve eaten things far worse.”

“That does not, by definition, make this not bad,” Hal argues.

There are problems to overcome, issues to address: how to not get stuck in another dream, how to not forget what they’ve learned, and how to handle Hal or Lord Harry or whoever would wake up in the real world.

“There’s not much we can do about the last one,” Alex muses ruefully until Hal leans forward, lacing his fingers together. “Alex, Tom,” he says, looking at each of them in turn. “I only let him in because I thought I had no reason not to.” There’s a pause that echoes in Alex’s ears until he finishes. “I have a reason now.”

“Besides,” Tom interjects. “I’ll just kill you if you misbehave.”

“You wouldn’t be able to,” Hal says, clearly peeved and Tom scoffs. “I had you last time.”

“I let you have me –”

“Boys,” Alex interrupts. “Honestly.”

+

The question of how to break the façade remains, however, until Alex remembers something odd. There had been no mementos of her death in this dream house, no newspaper clippings or files from Rook’s office. It’s as though – as though in erasing her death, the Devil had wanted to make her forget what her death took from her.

She finds Tom and Hal on the couch, making a list of contingency plans in the event they remember, and sits cross-legged on the floor in front of them.

“What if,” she says without preamble, “it’s my family?” This doesn’t seem to translate for them so she tries again. “What if going to see my family is what breaks the curse? It’s the one thing we never did, that we never got around to. It was so important, especially at the start, but we never did it. Because we weren’t meant to, because even the Devil can’t fake my family believing I’m alive again, because – .” She’s rambling, but Tom and Hal seem more concerned than intrigued.

“Do you want to see your family?” Hal asks cautiously. “Before we leave this place?”

“Of course I do,” she interrupts. “I have this whole time. What if we tried it, though, just to see? Worst case scenario, I actually just see my imaginary family.”

“Right then,” Tom says. “Guess we’re going on a trip.”

+

There’s nothing to pack, nothing to do but walk to the train station, but as soon as they start, they can feel a force – a presence – bent against them. Not this way, it insists, but there’s no mistaking it for a good intention. Tickets to Scotland are sold out, even though the red eye train is empty, so Tom nicks a set of tickets from a harried looking dad and they slip on board without any more fuss.

The further north they go, the more obvious it is that this is the way out, or maybe it’s just the way the wind howls outside their compartment. It tempts her, and if it’s the last time she’s going to feel alive – well she may as well feel alive.

(It’s not like she can die again, after all.)

She heads out to the caboose deck, arms wrapped tight around her body, and watches Wales fall behind them in crests and troughs of hills. A pink and grey sun is setting against the landscape when she feels Hal step up behind her, his scent, his sound more overpowering than ever.

“I see what you mean,” he says, sharing the view. “It’s beautiful.”

Her mind is a thousand miles away, two lifetimes ago.

“The past can seem that way,” she replies. She turns, facing him, and his face is cast half in shadow. Soon, he’ll be a vampire again, a dangerous monster that she won’t mistake for anything else.

Soon, she’ll be just a ghost.

As the train lurches forward, dragging them on, she tilts her head up, just a fraction, and he leans down to kiss her.

(It’s nothing like their first.)

She hasn’t touched him in weeks, or anyone else for days, and the still-human contact sends a shock through her body that roots her to the spot. Her toes curl in her boots as he closes the distance between them, bringing them flush, and the tether becomes a sharp burn between their mouths, heady and safe and fleeting.

For the first time in weeks, she hears nothing, feels nothing, and smells nothing, except within the small space connecting them.

When Hal breaks away, he ducks his forehead against hers and casts his eyes down. “I just thought –” he says, and struggles with his words. “Once, before we go back,” she finishes. Her arms tighten around his waist and they sway there, counting the moments.

+

They disembark in the dark town Alex once called home and walk the empty streets to the house where no father, no brothers, are waiting for her. Every step is an uphill struggle, the cobblestone streets unsteady under their determined march. By the time they reach the house, there’s a leaden feeling in her stomach and she steals a last hopeful glance at Tom and Hal.

“See you on the other side,” she promises, and turns the doorknob with a flash of courage.

A flash of light hits them all – she hears their voices calling for her – and then –

+

She wakes in the dark, buried deep, to the sound of muffled yelling. Home sweet home.

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” she mutters, and begins to punch her way through the box.

Time to save the world.

Finis
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