[identity profile] mollivanders.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] prefer_my_life
Title: for persephone had slipped through his fingers
Fandom: Being Human
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Hal/Alex, Tom
Author's Note: Word Count - 2,295. Set Post-S5, so beware spoilers. I take the four traditional elements of fire, earth, wind and water and apply them to Alex re-entering the world.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to the BBC, as always.

Heat

The first thing she does is take a scalding hot shower.

While Tom and Hal get rid of Rook’s body, she makes a beeline for the shower on the top floor, the one with its own water heater. It takes her all of five seconds to knock off those torturous boots, her jacket and dress following close after. She chucks her ripped tights at the bin – misses – and turns the shower knob all the way to the left.

(It burns, perfectly.)

There’s still dirt in her hair from when she climbed out of her grave and she scrubs at it with Hal’s fancy seven quid shampoo, shaking the dirty water off her in cascades. She buffs her skin until it’s rosy pink, sore as the rest of her, and only reluctantly turns the water off.

It’s only when she steps out of the shower that she realizes she doesn’t actually have any clothes here.

She ventures downstairs tentatively, peering around the corners, and jumps a bit when Hal and Tom come back through the front door. Clutching her towel a bit tighter and feeling her cheeks flush, she gestures at her towel with one hand.

“You wouldn’t have any clothes I could borrow, do you?” she asks and avoids Hal’s wide eyes.

“I think some of Nina’s stuff is still upstairs,” Tom says. “Would you like me to fetch it for ya?”

“Yeah, thanks,” she says, edging to the wall to make room for Tom as he hops up the stairs. The carpet is squishy under her feet where she’s dripped a bit and she curls her toes against the woolen surface. It’s rough against her skin and she drinks it in.

(She needs a new list, she thinks.)

“How are you feeling?” Hal asks, leaning against the kitchen post. He’s actually painfully close in her present state and she takes a backward step up the stairs.

“Ah, pretty good,” she replies, wondering where the hell Tom has gotten to. “Fresh. Relieved.”

“I see you’ve discarded your boots,” he points out and she laughs, an exhale that deflates her body. “Tom mentioned an outburst,” he adds.

“Here they are, Alex,” Tom bursts from behind her, carrying a very small stack of clothes. “I think George got rid of most of it, but there were some night clothes in her drawer.” He hands them over, passing her on the stairs to stand next to Hal. “What are ya talking about?” he asks.

“Nothing,” Hal mutters, turning away as Alex flies up the stairs. “Thanks Tom!” she calls back.


Rush

The train back from Scotland rumbles heavily under her feet as she steals from their compartment and heads to the caboose, not wanting to waste time on sleep. An attendant nods at her as she slips past her in the hallway and finally makes it to the end of the train. The door there is unguarded and with a little effort, she shoves it open, stepping through before it slides shut behind her with a heavy thud.

Outside, the cold, crisp Scottish air fills her lungs and she breathes deep. She feels intoxicated by it all, the way it hits her face and tugs at her jacket; the way it whistles in her ears and almost instantly chills her to the bone. She never wants to smell this air again. She wants to smell every air. Maybe she’ll chase after Lady Mary and terrify some loggers in the Amazon; ex-ghosts with a vendetta.

After a few solitary minutes, the door slides open and shuts behind her with a bang again. Hal steps up next to her, leaning against the rail guard.

“Enjoying yourself?” he asks, gripping the corner post and swaying with the motion of the train.

“I thought you two were asleep,” she tells him, hanging onto the railing as the train takes a languorous turn. “Didn’t want to wake you.”

“I’ve always had trouble sleeping on trains,” he says. “And planes. And ships.”

“Maybe you’re not the travelling kind,” she answers and he shrugs. “Maybe I don’t know yet.”

It was easy to shove thoughts about them to the side with the prospect of seeing her family again, but now that’s done, she thinks maybe their being left alone is –

What, dangerous?

“Penny for your thoughts?” he asks and she uselessly brushes her hair from her face, buffeted by the wind and the rock of the train. “I was thinking about us,” she says, just loud enough for him to hear. “I don’t suppose there’s much point in avoiding the subject now.”

“No, I suppose not,” he replies, stepping closer to her. There isn’t much space back here and she shifts closer, following his lead. It hardly seems the time – she’s dressed in jeans and her favorite leprechaun green shirt, and her makeup’s probably long worn off – but then, they’ve fought the bloody Devil. They're a little past date nights.

“Penny for your thoughts?” she replies, anticipation in her voice. He’s close now, very close, and though he seems lost as only Hal can be, she feels confident enough to rest her hand on his chest.

(The pounding of her heart matches his - knock knock).

“No,” he says, and closes the distance between them to kiss her.

It’s nothing like their first kiss. It’s not tainted with blood, and she’s got all her five senses working overtime. The train shakes them back and forth until Hal pulls her closer, his hand firm at the crest of her spine. They hang on to the railing and each other, his lips gentle but insistent against hers before the kiss switches and suddenly she’s not holding the railing at all; her hands have flown to his face, making her stumble backward to the rail post. He catches her, steadies them both against the guard, and she really doesn't care about the details with his mouth hot against her own. He's sweet, sweet like the tea they’d all had; heady in the way he sucks at her mouth, centuries of detail in his movements; torturous in the way he leaves her unsatisfied when he trails kisses down to her throat; and absolutely necessary in the way she pulls him back to her, his body stitched to hers, and nips purposefully at his tongue.

When he hoists her up, just enough, she wraps her legs around his waist, leaning into him, and in that moment, with the wind in her ears and Hal her only anchor, she feels like she’s going to take flight.

Suddenly Hal’s setting her down, concern in his eyes as he surveys their setting, and ruffles his hair nervously. “I’m so sorry,” he stumbles. “This isn’t safe at all, we shouldn’t have –”

“Hal,” she interrupts, slowly recovering her breath. “Don’t worry so much about shouldn’t have.” She wrinkles her nose a bit, taking in the railing and the speed of the train. “You have a point about the location though. I’m definitely not ready to die again.”

His shaky laugh releases the tension from her shoulder and she offers him her hand. “But you really need to stop apologizing for kissing me.”

The rest of the train ride home is close to exquisite torture –

(So she crosses that off her list as well.)


Currents

Three months after she’s come back to life, her body gets the memo. Rather, her menstrual cycle gets the memo.

It fucking sucks.

She spends the first day of Horrible Very Bad Cramps curled up in front of the television watching reruns of The Fades because the characters and the décor fit her world view right as of this moment. Tom politely asks her if she’d like another cup of tea and she bites down on the urge to tell him where to shove his chivalry.

“That’d be great,” she says thinly, eyes stuck on the television. Another extra drops dead and she feels some of her annoyance at the world dissipate. This was better than pain drugs, definitely.

A week later when she’s finally free she gets a scathing text from Lady Mary.

You couldn’t have warned me about these bollockings tampons, could you? Whose bright idea was this? Shoving a --

Alex stops reading after that and sends her a quick apology text with a link to WebMD, cackling in the process. Poor Lady Mary.

“What’s so funny?” Hal asks, turning away from the washing up to stare at her. He’s up to his elbows in soapy water but his undershirt is somehow spotless. “You’re not taking video of me again, are you?”

She grins and hops up on the counter next to him. “We’ve got to get you caught up on social media embarrassment, Lord Hal,” she teases. “That’s not – wasn’t my name,” he stutters and she smirks, flicking water onto his shirt. “Oh dear,” she intones. “That shirt’s all wet. You’ll just have to take it off, won’t you?”

“Alex, this is completely unnecessary,” he says, objecting only in words as she undresses him. “Pictures should capture only the most important moments in life."

“I’m fairly certain taking photo evidence of you shirtless is important,” she argues but by now, Hal’s peeled off the Marigolds and stepped between her legs, resting his hands on her waist. She lowers the phone, relenting at last, but when she leans down to kiss him Tom bursts into the kitchen.

“‘Scuse me,” Tom says, reaching behind Alex for a clean mug. Hal’s eyes are squeezed shut and she’s doing her best not to laugh as Tom pours a cup of tea. “You have rooms, you know,” he adds before leaving again.

When Hal opens his eyes again she kisses the tip of his nose and hops off the counter. “Come on, handsome. I’ll buy you a sock.”

(Slowly, she remembers the whole rhythm of her life, and not just being human.)


Grounded

The job in the bookstore pays the rent, and it’s still amusing to find Hal rearranging books by their height, but she knows that even though this is life – it’s not everything. As much as she loves her little corner of the world, she wants more.

“Is there anything you wanted to do, but couldn’t?” she asks Tom and Hal during a house meeting. She looks at Tom. “Before, I mean. Like get a rabbit, or go travelling, or meeting a nice girl?”

“I’ve already met nice girls,” Tom says. “Two of them.”

She shares a look with Hal, who calmly changes the subject. It builds a frustration in her body, like she’s fallen into one of Hal’s rotas and can’t get out.

(What are second chances for, anyway?)

One night when she can’t sleep, she steals downstairs and slowly, almost reverently, sits at the organ keyboard. One note, then two, is drawn from the old instrument but even still, she can tell it’s horribly out of tune.

“Taking requests?” Hal asks at her shoulder and she jumps out of her skin. “Sorry,” he says, grinning at her in the gloom. “I was dozing on the couch.”

“Good episode of Restoration Home?” she says glibly before he rests his hand next to hers on the keys. “Do you play?” she asks, surprised, before he slides on the bench next to her.

“I used to,” he tells her. “A long time ago.” He pauses, considering. “My favorite was always the Blue Danube.”

She doesn’t think anything of it, not for weeks, until Hal springs two tickets on her for a National Orchestra of Wales concert two cities over. It’s just an excuse to dress up, to act like a grown-up who never died and didn’t live with supernatural beings - as a supernatural - and she jumps at it.

“It’s not Paris,” he says. “But it’s a start.”

After though – after a live performance by Llŷr fucking Williams, of all people – Hal leads her downstairs.

“Where, exactly, are you taking me?” she asks, having a terrible flashback despite herself. The suits and the fancy clothes are all coming back to her now and she takes a deep breath as Hal squeezes her hand.

“I just thought you’d like to play on a proper instrument,” he says. At her shocked silence, he pushes the stage door open. “I called in a few favors.”

The theatre is empty except for the cleaning crew, picking up rubbish and concert programs as Hal walks Alex over to the piano. Her legs are shaking and gooseflesh has broken out over her body, but the moment she sits down, it just feels right.

“Why did you do this?” she asks Hal, not taking her eyes off the keys. He’s leaning against the piano, hands relaxed in his pockets as he watches her. Somehow the one thing her brain is focused on is how there’s nobody to take a picture of them right now.

“Because one day, you’re going to be sitting here with a full audience,” he says. “It’s going to take time, but I know it.”

She doesn’t answer – there is no answer to give – but rests her hands on the keys and glances at the sheet music in front of her. It’s a piece she doesn’t recognize and suddenly Alex doesn’t give a shit. She shuts her eyes, rests her foot on the pedals, and launches into the Blue Danube Waltz, slowly, until he joins her. Their hands moving in practiced strokes, together and then apart, and then together again. It’s easy to lose herself, the tempo increasing as the music evokes a scene, filling her body with promise. There is nothing but the keys, the pedals, Hal and her –

(Playing to an empty theatre, she's never felt more alive.)

When they finally go, she leaves the rest of her demons backstage.

Finis

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