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."