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Lingering Shadows

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Will stood in the doorframe with his arms crossed, his lips curled into a frown and his brow furrowed as he watched her in silence; seeing how her body shook and heaved and convulsed until she shuddered to a stop and rested her head on her forearms over the toilet bowl. She sluggishly sat up and ran the back of her hand over her mouth with trembling fingers and brushed back her damp hair from her eyes.

“All right there, Rose?” He couldn’t help but smirk. In the past when she was sick, he was always right by her side until one day she snapped at him to piss off. He didn’t take offense to it but figured it’s best to let her be until she says otherwise.

“Fine.” She gritted. “Just perfect.” She took a few deep breaths and groaned a bit in pain and he felt his resolve leave.

“Come on, Rose. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen you puke.”

“Yeah, but I look bonkers, and I don’t want this to be what you think of for the next week.”

Will gritted his teeth, he had almost forgot, or yet—he hoped she had changed her bloody mind.

“Do you really have to go?” He whined.

She frowned and shot him a death glare, “Yes. I have a mission.”

“You’re pregnant, Rose.

“But not incapable!”

“But I—“

“Will, stop!” She shouted and sighed with resignation and stood on shaky legs, “Please. Don’t let us leave on a row. I’ll be back in a week. I’ll be careful. We’ve been over this.”

“But a full week?” He whispered pleadingly.

“Will…”

He sighed and ran a hand down his face, “You’re right. Okay. Sorry….One week.” He stepped up to her and placed his hands on her waist, “D’ya want anythin’? Tea? Water?”

She smiled and ran her hands up and down his back, “No, I’m fine. Look, it’ll go by quick. Why not have Jamie come round?”

Will shrugged, “Nah, he’s busy at school. Gotta live up to his brilliant dad’s reputation at Oxford.”

Rose chuckled, “Brilliantly mad that is.”

“Oi!”

Rose leaned into kiss him but Will pulled away, “What?”

“Your breath reeks of vomit.”

“Oi!”

~*~*~*

He tapped his fingers at the rim of his mug, frowning as Rose packed the past of her clothes.

“Don’t give me that look, Will. This is my job, you know how important it is to me. Rose sighed, snapping him out of his trance. “Your pout won’t work on me.”

“I’m not pouting!” And Jesus, Rose—you weren’t pregnant then!”

She deflated and went to him, hugging her arms around his waist and pulling him to her. “Will, love, I’m barely three months gone. The baby’s like the size of an orange.”

“I’m still not happy about it—“

“You never are.” She frowned but ultimately knew he was always reluctant because he still mourned the loss of his first wife, Kate.

“Well now, I’m twice as unhappy! Why can’t they just send Mickey?”

“Would you trust Mickey to handle financial and political negotiations with the Norwegian Ministry?”

Will scoffed, “I wouldn’t trust him organizing my files.”

Rose smiled softly, stroking her fingers up his spine. “One week. I probably will be back sooner if all goes according to plan, and I won’t be alone! Jake’s coming with me!”

Will scoffed, “Is that supposed to be comforting? Jake’s the other buffoon I don’t trust.”

“Oh, shush.” She laughed. She craned her head to peck his lips, muffling a laugh when she felt his tongue at her lower lip. She pulled back and he frowned, “Save it for me. I’ve got to go.”

Will exhaled, following her to the door with a deep frown. Rose adjusted her sweater and pulled her bag over her shoulder. She turned to him and hugged him tight. “Just focus on your work. I’ll be back before you know it.”

He scoffed but pressed his lips to her hair.

She lifted her head from his shoulder and pressed little pecks along his jaw until she found his lips and granted him a hard and firm kiss. Running her tongue along his bottom lip and gently biting it between her teeth and relishing in his moan and his groan as she pulled away.

“I love you.” She whispered.

Will didn’t say it back, he couldn’t. He struggled with the words immensely, always had since they first got together. But she knew. She knew.

“I’m gonna be late.” She whispered and he slowly removed his arms from her body. “One week, okay?”

He nodded and pressed his palm to the flat of her belly, “Bye, Orange.” And gave Rose a final kiss to her lips and throat before she left the door and into her car. She blew him a kiss as she drove away and Will sighed. One week.

~*~*~

“Surprised you called me. It’s been, what? Eight years?”

Will rolled his eyes, “Don’t be like that. I’ve been busy.”

“Yeah. Shackin up with a new girl and not even telling me. Who’s idear was that? Yours or that hussy?”

Don’t,” Will hissed. “Don’t take it out on Rose that I didn’t want to broadcast our relationship.” He sighed. “Mum, I’m sorry. I am. But it’s not like I’m keeping Jamie from you. You still talk every now and then, aye?”

His mother nodded, “Aye. I’m sorry. I just…I don’t like, not being in your life, Will.”

Will bit back the retort that she had never really been in his life before. It was Kate’s mum who looked after Jamie after Kate’s murder.

He bit the inside of his mouth and turned his back to her. Rummaging through the box of old nappies she brought over from when Will was a baby. He picked up a sky blue one, that had a little sailboat sewn into the chest and tried to imagine his baby in it. He heard his mother come and stand by his side.

“You know…I’m proud of you…And Rose, even though I havna always been pleasant to her. It’s just cause I miss you. But, I am…happy for you.”

Will looked at her from the corner of his eye, searching for any sort of insincerity but found nothing. “Good.” He said simply, “And for what it’s worth, there may be times where we may need you to babysit since Kate’s mum is gone.” He knew it was unnecessary to mention that, but he felt that she had to know that she was their literal only resort. Rose’s family was too far.

His mom smiled shyly. “I’ll help anyway I can.”

Will nodded. “So, I called you here to help me pick a colour. I want to paint the nursery as a surprise and I’ve only a week to do so.”

“You’re both still keen on waiting until the baby’s here to find out its sex?”

“Yes.”

His mother pondered for a moment, glancing around the bare nursery with only the wooden crib in the centre.

“Ivory.”

“What?”

“You should paint it ivory. It’s a nice neutral and whatever colour furnishing will match.”

Will looked around a bit and presumably agreed. “Ivory it is. You going to help me, or what?”

“I’ll lend a hand. When is she due back?”

“Six days at the latest. But she could come back early so we should get started.”

His mum chuckled, “Surprised you were okay with her going.”

Will groaned, “I’m not okay with it. I never was, but it’s only a few days. She’ll be back before I know it.”

~*~*~

Six days later.

“What the fuck did you just say?” Will sneered at the now quivering Mickey.

“They’ve…they’re missin’. They were supposed to catch a plane from Stockholm to Oslo but they never did.”

Will felt the whole world spin, all words seemed to fail him as he curled his hands into a fist. His voice low and dark, “Where is she?”

Mickey sighed. “We don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?! Where the hell is my wife, Mickey!” Will yelled advancing on Mickey.

“We don’t know.” He enunciated. “But…we think there’s a possibility they may have been captured.”

Will felt ice trickle down his spine. “Captured? By whom? What the fuck is going on, Mickey?!”

“Most likely some radicalists who want to keep things are they are. Vigilanties I s’pose.”

“You s’pose.” Will mocked him and with a sneer, “You’re telling me my pregnant Rose is captured and missing and you’re standing here s’posing things!”

“Calm down, Will.”

“No! No, I will not fucking calm down. How dare you!” He yelled. “It was your fucking team that sent her! It was your idea!”

“Will…”

“Get out. Just, get out of my house.”

“Will—“

“I said get out!” Will screamed, “Get the hell out of my house and focus that insolent little mind of yours into finding my fucking wife!”

Mickey’s shoulders slumped as he turned towards the door. “This is hard for me too. She’s my best mate.”

“Don’t you try and compare.” Will hissed. “She’s my wife! My pregnant wife! And it’s your goddamned fault she’s missing!” Will sighed and placed his hands on his hips. “Do you even know if she’s alive?” He ignored the way his voice cracked.

Mickey said nothing for a long moment and then murmured, “We hope—“

“Hope?! You hope?!” Will ran his hands through his hair and violently tugged. “Don’t hope. Do! Get the fuck out of my house and don’t come back until you bring home Rose!” Will didn’t dare say the alternative which would be for Mickey to come back if they found Rose. That was not a possibility.

Will turned his back and gripped his kitchen table tightly. Barely hearing the sound of Mickey’s retreating footsteps. All the blood was rushing in his head as he bowed into his arms. He felt so angry. So bloody angry, it just kept building and bubbling until it spewed out and Will flipped the table. All its contents, all its glassware shattered on the floor. Picture frames and vases, now in pieces. Will grabbed the next closest thing which was the drawer which he hurled across the room. He picked up a chair and threw it at the antique chifferobe with the mirror inside. Watching glass crack and then explode and shards of glass trickled down the walls.

It was then that Will’s legs gave out and he sunk to the floor with a heavy breath. Panting for air and blinking wildly at the mess he made. He felt like his heart would give out, his knees were shaking and he was sweating.

All the fight seemed to have left him. Leaving nothing but a quake of numbness and agony. His whole body seemed to shut down and he felt nothing but pain. With a shake of his head and a choke on a sob, Will did something he hadn’t done since Kate died years ago.

He wept.

Shaking his head against the burning images of his mind. Every time he closed his eyes feeling exhausted. He saw Rose. Her silhouette. Her shadow. Her ghost.

Her form lingered like a scar.

~*~*~

Will.

Dreaming. 100%.

Will!

He ignored the muffled voice in his head, he cracked opened an eye and sadly realized he was still in his kitchen. Smashed glass all around him as a reminder of what Mickey told him and what had followed.

Knock knock knock!

Will growled, he didn’t want to see anybody, but knew the sooner he did the sooner they’d leave. With a groan of anguish he stood on sore legs and limped to the door. Opening it to see a newspaper on the ground. He picked it up with a grimace and scowled at the headline.

Torchwood Agent Rose Tyler Gone Missing!

With a snarl, Will tore the paper into shreds. Not even bothering to read the rest. He slammed the door shut and muttered, “Fucking dipshits.”

“It’s their job, Will. You know how it is.”

Will startled, his head shot up. That was her voice It was her! Will blinked his scorching eyes and looked around rapidly. He felt nauseous as before, and it took a great effort to haul himself to the bathroom. Leaning over the sink, he cupped his hands under the tap water and splashed some on his face. He then used a single hand to take a sip before shutting off the water. Gripping the porcelain sink his eyes met his reflection in the mirror. He looked so pale. His eyes were rimmed red and his lips were chapped. Had it only been one day?

“Eat something.” Her voiced demanded.

His head snapped up and there she was. In the frame of the mirror her auburn eyes stared worridley at him. Will spun around so fast he thought he might faint. He blinked several times, searching for any indication that she was there, but he felt nothing.

~*~*~

Will groggily blinked his eyes open. Glaring at his alarm clock which somehow unplugged. If Will was late to work, he didn’t know. Didn’t care. He stood up and hastily made the bed and sat down on the mattress. Running his hands over his eyes and feeling his heart break yet again that Rose’s side of the bed was cold.

“You need to eat, Will.”

He groaned into his hands and helplessly looked at her.

“No. Jesus. Come on! Not again!”

“What’s wrong?” She asked.

He stared incredulously at her standing in the doorframe. Noticing her full firm form, looking so real. He almost wanted to look away but at the same time, he didn’t dare blink for fear of her vanishing.

Her lips curved into a melancholic smile and Will’s gut twisted.

“If you’re here, that means. That means….it means she’s dead. She’s dead! She—“ He hiccuped and whimpered and twisted his fingers together.

“I’m not a ghost.”

His eyes widened and his breath hitched. He remembered seeing Kate after she died, but she always looked like ghost. Translucent, dark and untouchable. Standing before him, Rose looked so real. So full of colour and light. It made his heart ache in a way he couldn’t explain.

“But you’re not Rose. I…she’s…”

Her head shook sadly, “No, I’m not really Rose.”

“Then I’ve gone insane!”

“No, no you haven’t! Plenty of people do this. Lots of people go through this.”

“Go through what?!” He gasped.

“Seeing people they miss.” She shrugged. “ ‘S what happens.”

“Jesus, shit. This is all wrong.” Will hit his head with his hands, “Get out! Now! Go away. Leave my head! Get out, get out, get out!” He screamed.

For a brief moment he heard nothing, and when he looked up again she was gone.

That pit of despair returned to his stomach.

~*~*~

Turns out that pit of despair in his stomach is what would wake him up after a few hours. His head was aching and his mouth felt dry. What he wouldn’t do for a bottle of whiskey.

“No, no alcohol! You promised! You’d give up drinkin’ with me until the baby arrived.” She scolded him and he groaned.

He peered his head up from his drool stained pillow and saw her resting on her haunches. Doe eyes and plump frowning lips. How long has it been since he’s kissed those lips?

“You need to eat something, Will! You can’t go on like this.”

He scoffed. “This coming from a ghost.”

She gritted her teeth, “I told you I’m not a ghost!”

“Well, whatever you are. You are not my wife. You, are the unhealthy one. If I just ignore you, you’ll go away.”

She sighed, “Your mind wants me here. I’m a comfort—“

“Comfort?! Do I look bloody comforted?!”

“You’re gonna have to mind that potty mouth when the baby is born.”

“I’m really going mad.” Will sighed.

“Quite the opposite.” She replied.

Just then his phone rang and he somehow prayed it was Rose, and despite his love for his son—he was disappointed to see it was Jamie calling.

“Jamie.”

“Just cause you’re going through a rough time, I’ll forgo reminding you that I go by James now.”

Will rolled his eyes and wondered where this snark came from and glared at her when she pointed at Will and whispered ‘From you’.

“How’re you mate?”

“How am I? Dad, Rose is missing.”

“Yeah, thanks for that. Almost forgot.”

Jamie on the line sucked in a breath, “Right. Sorry.”

Will sighed, “No, I am. I’m just…” He sighed, “It’s all shite.”

“What can I do? Want me to come round?”

“No, James. Stay in school. Focus on your exams. Don’t you have your midyears soon?”

“This is more important.”

“Rose would disagree.” Will said.

“I could still come round, even just for a day.”

“No, mate. Listen…” Will scrubbed his eyes, “I don’t want to see anyone right now, okay? Especially not in our home. I want….I can’t…Not while she’s…”

“You want the next person back in the house to be Rose.” Jamie finished.

Will sighed, “Can you understand that?”

“Sort of, yeah.”

“Thanks for callin’ James. I’ll see you soon.”

“…Dad, she’ll come back.”

Will’s chest constricted, sometimes after Kate died Jamie would make slips indicating that Kate would come back. Will hoped that this time he was right.

After he hung up, Will sat heavily on his sofa, biting back a sound of anguish when he saw her sit down.

“Will, why don’t you talk to me?”

“Talking to my hallucination will help?

“It might.”

Will just sighed and put his head in his hands. Wishing for this torment to end.

~*~*~

Will overestimated his patience and eventually gave in. No longer able to take those ghost eyes peering at him.

“You were so quiet on our first date.”

“I was nervous! I hadn’t gone on a date in over 15 years.”

“Yeah, you’re much older than you look.”

“Ta.”

She smiled, “Oh, you were so handsome, still are of course. I couldn’t stop thinking of you, I wanted to be with you so bad.”

He felt bile in his throat. “Don’t.” He choked out.

She looked surprised, “Don’t what?”

“Don’t say stuff about your thoughts. You aren’t Rose, you don’t know her thoughts.”

“I know what you think her thoughts are.”

“That’s not the same as knowing what her thoughts are!”

“So me saying what I think in your mind is wrong cos it’s not really what you think that Rose thinks?”

“Stop it!” He groaned, he couldn’t help but chuckle, “Now you’re just even more confusing.”

Her giggle, even though it wasn’t real, sounded like music to him.

He looked at her, really looked at her. In his mind, she wasn’t in her Torchwood uniform. No leather jacket and clad pants. No, she was in his favorite dress of hers. White with blue hummingbirds on it.

It stopped just above her knees and when she wore it in summer, twirling around in the hot air, the sun highlighting her already golden features—Will could swore he saw an angel.

“Have…” His throat felt dry, “Have I ever even told you how beautiful you are?”

“Will…”

“No, I’m serious. I know when we’ve gone out or made love I’ve called you fit and sexy, but did I ever once call you beautiful?”

Her face softened, “I can’t answer that. Remember, I don’t really know what’s in her mind.”

“I didn’t, did I? I’ve never once said it! We’ve been together nearly two years and I’ve never once…Oh, God.” He whimpered and angrily blinked back tears.

“Will, I knew—“

“No! No you didn’t! How could you, if I never bloody said it!”

With a cry of defeat, Will’s face crumbled as he buried his head in his forearms and sobbed heavily. Through his haze he noticed how quickly she moved, at the speed of a blink. Further confirming this façade he was living and further heightening his feelings of woe.

“Will,” she whispered, her own voice cracking. “You can’t go on like this. It’s not healthy.”

A sob ripped through his throat. He hadn’t cried this hard since Mickey first told him, how long ago even was that? He hid further into his hands, suddenly wishing the hallucination would disappear. Even in his own mind he never wanted Rose to see him cry.

“What do I do?” He cried, “Dear God, what the bloody hell do I do?”

“Shh,” She whispered. “Go to sleep, Will.”

And for once, he listened.

~*~*~

When Will awoke later, he wasn’t surprised to see her. Which created an odd twinge in his heart, he was however, surprised to see her scowling at him.

“I’m furious.” She hissed.

“Ugh God, if this is about my eating habits you can piss the hell off.” He groaned.

“Not that, although yes you twat, how dare you not take care of yourself knowing you’re gonna be a father again!”

“Look—“

“No, this is about before. When you tried to hide your tears from me.”

“What?”

“When you were crying. You kept shying away from me.”

He turned to gape at her, “You’re not real!” He argued.

She crossed her arms over her white gown, “Still. I do know this—if you can see me puke, I can see you cry.”

Pushing himself off the sofa, he headed to the kitchen for a glass of water. He knew she was standing in the doorway. With a look of sympathy in her eyes and he couldn’t help the sudden burst of rage that coursed through him. With a shout he threw his glass harshly in the sink, relishing in its shatter.

“Keep that up, we’ll have no silverware.”

“Another level of stress.”

“Well in terms of the broken glass, that’s on you.”

His shoulders slumped. “I know.”

“Are you hurt?”

“Yes.”

“Kay, and physically?”

He couldn’t help but smirk. He always knew how clever and witty she was.

“I’m fine.” He looked at her and was instantly drawn to her mouth.

She had her tongue between her teeth. And not in the usual way she did when she laughed or smiled. No, this time she looked concerned and pondering. But that tiny bit of pink still flashed through her teeth and he ached to chase that with his own. That bloody tongue.

“How do I know that you’re not physically hurt somewhere?”

She looked startled at his question, taken aback. She fiddled with with her hands and opened her mouth to speak. But in that moment, Will knew nothing she could say would assure him of anything. With a scoff he brushed past her and moved back to the living room.

He sat on the couch with a groan, running his palms over his face. Hearing her sit down next to him, but not close enough to touch.

“I remember how long it took us to go out.”

“Yeah. After we met, do you remember—“

“You’re the one from my head, you tell me.” He snipped.

She grinned sheepishly, “Yeah, you do. Course you do. You defended me after I nearly ran a bloke over with my car.”

Very nearly.”

“Shut it,” She laughed, “Anyway, throughout our meetings and going over evidence you found my stubbornness quite annoying.”

“You kept giving me dirty looks!”

“You looked like you didn’t believe my case!”

“I didn’t!” He was surprised to feel his mouth curl into a smile, “To this day, I know that I got you off with only 56 hours of service to the community.”

“And how did I spend it?”

“Tutoring at my son’s college where ultimately I’d run into you everyday until he could drive himself.”

“And do you remember what you said when I first asked for a drink.”

Will groaned and blushed, “Oh, God.”

“Come on,” She teased.

“I said, there was no bloody way I’d ever trust you on the road again.”

“And? What did I do?”

“You slapped me.”

There was that sound again, her giggle. He hated how much he loved hearing it. Especially knowing it wasn’t real. It was just too easy to lose himself in these little moments, he didn’t want to let go. Not right yet.

“I despised you.” He laughed, “Perhaps not pure hatred, but God I loathed seeing you.”

She nodded, “Yeah. Till I finally cracked you down.”

“Aye. After weeks of persisting. You cracked my resolve.” He took a deep breath, and felt his eyes water. “Best decision I ever made.” He whispered.

“Will…”

“All these emotions, and feelings I’ve gone through with you. Aggravation, anger, intrigue, friendship, trust, lust…”

“Love.” She finished for him.

He looked at her with despair, “But I’ve never even said—“

“It’s okay, I know—“

With a growl he stood, “Stop fucking saying that! You don’t know! You can’t possibly know!”

“Will…”

“No, stop! You can’t possibly bloody know!” He yelled, “That loving you has fixed me.” His voice cracked and he was panting. “That each day we spent together over time, was my reward. That, loving you was saving me from falling apart.” He started to cry, “And I didn’t even do it properly. I never told you….I….” He sat back down with a sigh and rubbed at his wet eyes and face.

“I love you. She loves you. Rose, she—“

“Do you know when I first realized I loved you?”

She shook her head.

“It was before Jamie took his GCSEs. Poor lad was stressed to the brim. I offered to help but we both knew that I was just the kettle to his pot. I’m an expert and overworking and stress.”

She laughed.

“But you,” he continued, “you managed to get him to sit down. Eat something. Take breaks in between. You made flashcards and quizzed him and were so bloody patient and understanding. It amazed me. Even more so that the night before his exams you stayed with us, even though you had made plans to see your old college mates.”

Her cheeks turned pink, and Will was grateful to his subconscious for remembering how endearing she looked when she blushed.

“I knew then that you weren’t just some crazy girl who nearly ran a man over. You were so loving. To me and to my son, so real with us. I…I knew then I wanted you around for a long time.”

“Till death do us part.” She whispered.

He sucked in a sharp breath.

“Will,” She said, “have faith.”

“Faith?!” He cried, “people like me don’t rely on faith.”

“What people?”

“Bad people.”

“William Arthur Burton, you are not a bad person!”

“I am though! Until you came round! Then I was good again. You made it easy.”

“Easy?”

“Yes,” he hissed, “you made it bloody easy, okay?” Even with few words spoken, his whole chest constricted and each syllable felt like a punch to the gut. He didn’t realize how hard he was breathing until she begged him to stop.

“Please, Will. Take a deep breath.” It calmed him down, “It’s gonna be okay.”

“Each minute you’re not here it all comes rushing back. Kate, the trials, the murders. Jamie. Meeting you, and your case. Eventually failing you—“

“You’ve never failed me!”

“Never telling you I love you.”

“We went over this.”

“You don’t understand,” he whined. “You’re all I have left.”

“You have Jamie and your mother.”

“Not the same.” He gritted through his teeth, “you’re the only one who I’ve ever been real with. You’ve seen every part of who I am. You’re the only one I’ve been completely bare with.”

“Will…”

“I miss you.” He cried, “I miss you so much.”

“I miss you, too.” She whispered and closed her eyes. He saw a tear slip through her lashes and he felt something in his heart extinguish. “Why d’ya keep talking about me like I’m dead? Please, please try and—“

She was cut off by his face an inch away from hers.

“What would happen if I kissed you?”

“I…I don’t know.”

“Will you disappear?”

“….Maybe?”

He took a few panting breaths, and knowing that even though her lips were an inch away from his chin, he didn’t feel her breath.

He took a step back. “Best not then. Kissing air would be a new level of madness.”

She merely shrugged, “We’re all as mad as we need to be.”

“That wasn’t comforting, isn’t that your job?” He smirked lightly.

She grinned, “Yes, well. Part of my flaws is I break the rules sometimes. Whether it’s being your comfort or common traffic laws.”

He stared at her for a moment, if this were her. Really her right now, he would have said it.

“I….”

“It’s okay, Will.” She nodded. Always in his head.

He nodded. “I’m exhausted.” He made his way to his bedroom door, “Be here when I wake up.”

~*~*~

“Will?”

He blinked, groaning at the burning sensation. The first thing he realized was that Rose was nowhere to be seen. And he wasn’t sure why, but that made him angry. Before he would do anything to have her be gone and now that she was, he just couldn’t handle it. The second thing he noticed was that it was nighttime. The house was purely in the dark. The third thing he registered was the knocking and voice at the door.

“Will? Will Burton? Open the door.” A voice called. Female. It sounded so familiar.

With a curse under each breath he made his way to the door and was shocked to see Maggie Gardner, fellow employee and perhaps the other person to ruin his life standing before him.

“What the fuck?”

“Nice to see you too, Burton. Surprised how you never managed to swear in court with how much you do.” She brushed past him into the house, angering him further.

“Maggie—“

“Blimey, what a pig sty. You look terrible.”

He had to bite his tongue, “Maggie,” he hissed. “Why are you here?”

“Well I heard about wife number two—“

“Her name is Rose!” He bellowed.

“And I wanted to check on you.” She said calmly, “You haven’t been at work for a long time. Too long. They may fire you.”

“Like I give a shite.”

“You should.”

“Well, I don’t!” He yelled. “And just who the bloody hell do you think you are? You! Of all people! The self centered, social climbing hypocrite who ruined my life!”

“That was ages ago, Will. You need to get over it.”

“No, you, need to get out of my house!”

“Will—Look. I’ve seen you at your worst. I know how you get when shit happens.”

“Like you know anything.” He sneered.

“Your house is smashed, you look sick, you’ve completely cut ties with people who care—“

“And, you, are way out of line!”

“You need to pull yourself together. This is not how Rose would want you to act.”

“Shut up! Shut the hell up! Don’t you dare!” He gritted and stepped to her, towering over her with a menacing glare. “You first, can look over pictures of the corpse of my dead first wife and then defend the man who murdered her; and now you’re telling me how my latest wife would feel?!”

“I…”

“You’re astonishing!” He growled and stomped over to the door, hurling it open.

“If you are not out of my fucking house in the next 5 seconds, I will call the police.”

“Will…”

“Get! Out!”

She sighed and with her head held high, trotted away from him and out his door. Softly wincing as it slammed behind her.

Will stood with his head against the door. Banging it twice before somehow calming down.

“Blimey, that was harsh.”

He whipped around and there she was.

“Everything I said was true.”

“Yeah, and so did she.”

“Excuse me?”

“She was right. Isolation, smashing glass, looking sick. And now, missing work? Will, you can’t keep—“

“Stop telling me what I can and can’t do! There are no bloody rules when it comes to this!”

“Comes to what?”

“This! Missing you! Feeling lost and alone and…”

“Grieving?” She asked.

He opened his mouth and closed it a few times. “Oh, fuck off.” He growled. He stomped into his bedroom, grabbed a suitcase and shoved random clothes in. Their cleanliness, irrelevant.

“What are you doing?”

“I need to get out of here. I cannot be here anymore.”

“You think leaving this house will leave me behind?”

“I don’t know what to think!” He yelled, “All I know is that being in this house, all I see is you. And being here makes it ten times worse!”

“Well, where are you gonna go?” She crossed her arms.

“Somewhere they can’t find me.”

“Will…”

He shook his head violently and made way to sprint out of the house. But he tripped over the bed frame corner and fell to the floor with an ungraceful thud. Tears flowed down his cheeks and he rested his head against the mattress.

She rested beside him, on her knees. “Will…you have to stop grieving me. You need to have hope.”

“Hope is no good.” He whispered.

“I will come back.”

His eyes snapped over to her.

“Tell me where you are.”

“Will…”

“No, please!” He ground out, “Just tell me where you are so I can find you.”

“I can’t…I’m not her. I’m not real…”

He stopped breathing. As if that very second it all came crashing down full force. How generally fucked up this entire situation was.

“Jesus. Shit. God!” He growled. “Then what fucking use are you? You are nothing!”

“I’m just–“

“Nothing! You aren’t her and I need her. So either tell me where you are or leave!”

“Will…” She shook her head.

He snarled at her, “Then, fuck off.”

“If you’d just—“

“No! Fuck! Off! Get away from me! Get out. Get out! GET OUT!” He screeched.

Something in the air changed. The wind quieted down. The blood stopped pulsing in his ear. He felt nothing. He blinked opened his eyes and saw nothing. Nothing but darkness and emptiness.

And he felt bloody awful.

“Rose.” He called. “Come back, Rose. I didn’t mean it. I didn’t….Rose? Rose! Come back. Please, just…” He wasn’t sure when he started to cry again, but the pressure in his eyes was too bearable. He laid down on the floor and kept calling her name, until his throat ran dry and the air too thick.

~*~*~

“Will? Will! God, can you hear me?”

His eyelids slowly peered open. He met the morning lit ceiling of his bedroom as the recounts of last night entered his mind.

“Will, come on. Look at me. It’s me!” Rose cried.

He looked over at her, kneeling beside him. Hands hovering in the air. He sat up slowly.

“Oh, thank God!” She sobbed and placed both her hands on her mouth and moved closer to him. Stopping when his hand went up.

“Wait,” He sighed, still half asleep. “I’m sorry I…I’m sorry I shouted at you.”

“What?”

“Yesterday. When I told you to leave, I just…”

“Will.” She said and cupped his cheeks.

Her hands.

On his cheeks.

Flesh, on flesh.

A zolt of electricity poursed through him and he blinked rapidly. He sucked in a sharp breath and instantly felt new tears arrive.

“R-Rose?” He whispered astonished.

She beamed back, grinning madly with those lips and tongue. Her tear stained cheeks made her even more the beautiful. And real!

“Oh, Jesus! Jesus Christ! Rose!” He gasped and furiously tugged her into his lap. Feeling her warm firm body against his.

He hadn’t realized how hard he was crying until she heard him whisper, “Shh, it’s okay, Will. It’s over. I’m back. I’m so sorry. Will, I love you. It’s okay.”

“You’re here.” He muttered. “You’re real and you’re here.” He sobbed.

“I am.” She pulled back to look him in the eye. “Oh, Will!” She pressed her lips to his and he moaned at the contact. Aching to do this for so long.

He wrapped his arms more tightly around her, snogging her senselessly. He pulled back and groaned, “Rose, you have to tell me. Everything I…Oh, God what happened?”

She shook her head, “I will. Later. Just lemme hold you. Will, all you need to know is we’re okay. It’s all over.”

With a resigned sigh, he nodded and rested his forehead against hers.

“I can’t believe you smashed our house.” She whispered and he chuckled. Pulling her closer.

“Rose, I…I…”

“No, don’t.” She pulled back to look in his eyes. “If you say it now, I’ll know it took me bein kidnapped to do so.” His arms tightened around her. “Seeing you like this and what you did…I know you love me, Will. I do. I know. So please, say it later. When the mess is cleaned. Just so I’ll know for sure. Okay?”

He swallowed a lump in his throat. “Okay…then can I say something else then?” He whispered.

“What’s that?”

He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and brushed away her tears.

“Rose…. You are beautiful.