Annie isn’t frightened by the door, despite everything she’s been through with it in the past. There weren’t men with sticks and rope waiting for her, nor was there a long, stretching hallway with wooden and velvet walls. No one was dragging her in by her hair. It was peaceful and serene, like it was in the movies.
She hadn’t ever seen the white before—not for her door at least; it was never this bright. Maybe this was the door; the one she had to go through—her proper door. She had just saved the world, and God damn, she deserved a nice door.
Annie stepped in, eyes squeezed shut; the bright light had blinded her as she stepped inside. All she could see was red, as if she was looking up at the sun with her eyes closed. When the red vanished, she opened them and found herself back in Bristol.
Eve shifted in her arms and cooed. Annie looked down at her adoringly. Annie hoped she wasn’t alone here. What if older Eve lied? She hated calling her older Eve; she wished she had come, too, so Nina and George could see how their little girl grew up, with her mother’s hair and sharp attitude and her father’s soft face.
George and Nina were there though, thankfully, sitting on the black couch. Annie handed Eve over to them, and they almost burst out in tears. George never really got a chance to play with Eve after Nina’s death. This was his chance—their chance.
There was a feeling in Annie’s stomach, a terrible churning of some kind. Something was missing, and it was screaming at her, but she didn’t know what it was. Everything seemed to be in order, just the way they left it. Someone was missing, that was it.
A terrible wave washed over her; she became pale.
Mitchell, she sighed.
Annie turned to the couple on the couch who were happily cooing and poking at the little baby in Nina’s arms. They sensed Annie and looked up, eyebrows raised. Nina had Eve’s hand in hers, bouncing it.
“Something wrong, Annie?” she asked.
Annie shifted uncomfortably. He isn’t Voldemort, she told herself. You can say his name. But his name brought up too many forgotten and stashed feelings; his memories brought up too many gut-wrenching and bittersweet memories. But she squeaked it out.
“Is…” she began; her voice was thin and strained. “Is he here?” It was like a whisper. George blew out a breath and licked his lips; his eyes moved up.
There was a clacking sound, and Annie turned on her heel, facing the kitchen.
There he was, right in front of her.
He stepped through the beads that hung over the door frame and came closer to her. She saw that he had a cup of tea in his hands; steam rose from it and she breathed it in. She always thought that the smell of tea was therapeutic.
He handed it to her. “Take it.” He said, and she looked up at him, almost scared to take it. His face softened even more; he seemed a little hurt, actually. He licked his lips. “You can drink it now. Come on, take it. You’ve probably missed the taste of it.”
Annie took the cup and lifted it to her lips. Her hand trembled slightly; she almost expected it to drip onto the floor and right through her like it usually would. But it didn’t. It flowed into her mouth smoothly.
It burnt the top of her mouth, yes, but it was worth it.
A whirl of emotions went through her, and she was about to cry and drop the cup. Three and a bit years without drinking or eating anything, and now she had the power to have it. No more mutual feeling, no more holding hot cups of tea as replacements—she was able to drink it straight.
It was peppermint. Not exactly her favourite flavour, but she would have to make do. Annie placed the cup aside on a nearby side table. Blinking back up, she met Mitchell’s eyes and watched him for a moment.
His lips were twisted, as if he was waiting for her to say something; his hands were in his pockets. He was wearing what he died in, and a sting of pain went through her—the memory of it. But he was here now; her Mitchell was there in front of her.
It seemed that colour had returned to his face. He wasn’t as pale as he was before. He was more colourful, as if blood was flowing through him again. His cheeks were red. Annie wondered if, since they passed through Purgatory, they were human again, or to some extent human. If Annie as able to drink again, and if Mitchell looked alive, could it be possible? Truly?
“I’ve missed you.” He finally said.
“I’ve missed you, too.” Annie said, biting back a sob.
There was a pause, but then she couldn’t hold it anymore. Annie practically jumped on him and buried her head in his neck, breathing him in. He chuckled and held her up, sniffling.
“Aw, look at them.” Annie heard George snigger. Annie heard Nina slapping his arm, too, shushing him.
Annie removed her head from his neck and looked at him. Biting her lip, she pushed back some of the hair that was in his face and kissed him. Hard. Like she hadn’t ever before. It was nice and warm. Mitchell, before he died-died, was warm, yes, to a certain extent—warm enough for Annie to enjoy since she had little to no body heat herself. But now, he was like a furnace compared to before. And Annie felt like she was on fire. Every inch of her being was being swallowed whole by him. And she loved it. Every single second of it.
“Eughk!” They heard George cry out. “Not in front of the child!”
Annie and Mitchell had enough strength to rip away from one another and they looked over at him, making faces.
“Oh, leave them be.” Nina sighed, going back to playing with her daughter.
“Take it upstairs, at least.” George muttered before following suit with Nina.
“Gladly.” Mitchell murmured against her hair. His breath tickled her and she giggled as he jogged up the stairs, his fingers curling under her thighs to keep her from slipping from him.
Mitchell shouldered his bedroom door open and dropped Annie onto the bed. She bounced and squealed.
“God, your mattress is really uncomfortable.”
“Yeah,” he shrugged, closing the door. “The bed I had in Barry was much better.” Annie looked at him. “I’m an old man; my back hurts from time to time.”
Mitchell feigned shock and crawled onto the bed, giving Annie a peck before sitting beside her on the bed. He grabbed a pillow and held it to his stomach. There was a pause between them; an uneasy feeling in the air, as if they were magnets that were opposing each other—that raw force splitting them apart. Maybe it was because of how they left off. When she found out that he killed those people, and that she had to hear it from someone other than him.
But he was different now.
He couldn’t hurt anybody now.
But was she just feeding herself the same excuses she did before?
Annie decided not to spoil the moment right now. All she wanted was Mitchell. Right now; as he was. No supernatural bullshit creating a wedge in their relationship.
He turned to her. “Yeah?”
“How did you get here?”
“How’d you mean?”
“I mean,” she began. “I saw you turn into ashes on our floor. You were gone—properly gone. Did you have a door? Does it work differently for vampires?”
He breathed out, shrugging his shoulders. “It’s…complicated, I guess.”
“Complicated? Complicated how?”
“I don’t remember a door. I remember getting staked, and how that felt. And I felt myself, like you say, turn to ash. But I wasn’t a ghost. I didn’t walk through a door or anything like that. I just…ended up here. And I was alone here for a while. I didn’t know anyone in Purgatory. So, I just kinda stayed in here until Nina got here. It was just us for a while.”
“How did you keep busy, then?” Annie asked.
“I watched you.”
“You can do that here?”
“Yeah,” Mitchell’s smile was goofy. “It’s pretty cool.”
“Did you see…everything?”
“Yeah, pretty much. God, the company you kept, Annie.”
Annie scoffed. “Well, you know Tom.”
“I’m not talking about Tom.” Mitchell said. “That Hal guy. Seems like a real prick.”
“Rude!” Annie poked him.
“’M only speaking the truth, Annie.” Mitchell’s hands went up in defence.
“Hal’s very nice, and you’re really mean.” Annie looked up in thought. “I wonder how you two would get on. You’re polar opposites.”
“Yeah, I figured.” Mitchell sighed heavily. There was a pause. “But enough about that Hal guy.” He said. “I wanna know how you feel.”
“Me, Nina and George all had different feelings when we got here. I found it kinda interesting. I wanna know how you feel.”
Annie had her mouth open as she thought; tossing her head aside nonchalantly. “Kinda peaceful, I guess. Like a weight had been put off my shoulders—like…like in the movies.”
“Hm,” Mitchell said, shifting. “I felt that, too.”
“So,” Mitchell began, tossing aside the pillow. “Where does my ‘saviour of the world’ want to go first? Hit the Purgatory clubs? Watch a Purgatory movie?”
“I don’t want to go anywhere,” Annie said.
Annie nodded. “I wanna stay here,” Annie looked him up and down. “With you.”
And Mitchell smiled at that.