DISCLAIMER: Sanctuary belongs to Amanda Tapping, Damian Kindler, and the SyFy Channel. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is for Ingrid, who sent me the most delightful feedback and asked for answers. | You need to read Undone in the Flesh. | The title and cut text for this story come from a Matt Nathanson song.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Vague mention of Ashley.
FEEDBACK: To ceej4[at]yahoo.com
Fall to Pieces
Will lurked in the library as Helen worked at the large desk in the middle of the room. He pulled out one book, flipped through it, replaced it, and repeated the process with another book, all the while trying to surreptitiously watch his boss.
"What is it, Will?" Helen finally asked after Will went through the routine for the fifth time. He glanced at her, but she was still writing, her focus firmly on the documents in front of her.
"Uh." He hesitated for a moment longer before rolling his eyes at himself and crossing the space between him and the object of his interest. He took a seat in front of the desk, and casually as possible, he said, "So, uh, it's been three weeks since Samantha left."
"Yes," Helen agreed.
"Have you heard from her?" he continued, undaunted by her lack of attention on him.
He waited, but she added nothing.
"She made it safely back home?" he prodded.
"Yes." Helen met his eyes. "She is safe and sound in England."
"Oh. Well, good."
She smirked. "You have been patient. Three weeks and not a single question. I didn't think it was possible."
The color rose in his cheeks, and he looked away. "Yeah, well, I got the feeling she's personal."
"That she is."
The admission surprised him. "Oh, uh, you've known each other a long time?"
"We first met in 1961. She was seven years old."
Will nodded. "Yeah, that's in the file."
"What you really want to know is what happened when we found each other again."
Will grimaced, caught in his curiosity despite his best intentions.
Helen sat back in her chair and studied him. He tried not to squirm under her intense gaze but knew she could sense his discomfort. Finally, she turned her stare to the books lining the shelves behind him, and with wistfulness he was unprepared for, she began telling him a story.
"I had watched her from afar for years, but it took me several months to find her after her father ordered her to leave their home."
"Yes, and she wasn't the same, sweet little girl I had known. She was frustrated and angry, much as you would expect. Still, she accepted my offer of assistance under one condition."
"She would be allowed to travel with you?"
Helen nodded. "She did not want to stay here. She insisted she needed to be away from this continent to reinvent herself. I knew she was fragile, and I enjoyed her company, so I did not argue. I knew she would return when she was ready. I was traveling throughout Europe frequently during that time, and she took to the atmosphere." Helen smiled. "She rather enjoyed herself actually. Watching her relax was a pleasure and slowly the child I had adored reemerged."
"So all was well for two years?"
"She developed a keen interest in marine biology and engineering while we were visiting the Australian Sanctuary. As a result, she preferred to travel by boat despite the extended time it took to get from place to place. I'm afraid I indulged a little too often."
Will sat forward in his seat and propped his elbows on his knees. "She said she decided to settle down in London in 1973. Why did she choose to stop traveling with you?"
Helen sighed and picked up her pen, twirling it absently between her fingers. Will watched in fascination, sure he had never seen her do something so futile.
"After two years of wandering, I would like to say she'd had enough."
"But, in truth, she would have remained a nomad forever. She practically has."
Will scrunched his brows. "I thought she went to school and bought a house."
"She did. She has a quaint country cottage on the outskirts of London. She also earned doctorates in science and engineering at Oxford."
"Wait. She's a scientist?"
"Quite the accomplished scientist."
Will leaned back into his chair. "She led me to believe she was not interested in science."
Helen smirked. "Samantha has an interest in virtually everything." At Will's chuckle, Helen added, "I told you she is no longer the sweet child I had once known. She matured in the two years she saw the world with me. By the time we had returned to London, she was certain she knew what she wanted from life."
"So what was the problem?"
"She was also certain she knew what I wanted from life."
"Oh," Will said as the implication hit him. "I Were the two of you "
"No. She was still a child, Will."
"Yes, of course," Will said, a bit flustered. "But, she thought "
"It was a difficult and painful life lesson for us both."
**********flashback to 1973**********
"Really, Samantha, I need to finish cataloguing these specimens."
"It's a beautiful day, Elle." Samantha leaned into Helen's shoulder and whispered into her ear. "Come play with me."
Helen sighed, but then she smiled. "Only for an hour," she said, trying and failing to sound stern. Samantha's grin was worth the sacrifice, so Helen allowed the younger woman to pull her from her chair and outside of the Sanctuary, the sun warming her skin and making Helen glad of her brief respite.
Samantha interlaced their fingers as they walked along the garden path behind the Sanctuary. They were safe within the fence but seemed alone, and Helen relaxed into the tingling sensation that always came from Samantha's touch. It was an effect she could explain with physics but always chose not to, drawing comfort from the feeling for reasons she could not rationalize.
Instead, she allowed Samantha to guide them and lost herself in the peacefulness that surrounded them.
"Penny for your thoughts," Samantha said, drawing Helen from her introspection.
Helen glanced at her companion but remained quiet for several more minutes. Finally, she said, "It's time we return to the Sanctuary."
Samantha stopped in her tracks, forcing Helen to stop with her. "What?"
Helen turned to face her, squeezing Samantha's fingers in reassurance. "Samantha, I must return to Old City. I cannot stay here forever, and you cannot hide indefinitely."
"Hide?" Samantha pulled her hand from Helen's and took a step back. "I'm not hiding, and I'm not prepared to follow your every whim, especially when you keep yourself locked away from me."
Helen shook her head. "I'm afraid I don't understand."
Samantha once again reached for Helen's hand. "Elle, I love you. I want to be with you, and I think you want to be with me, but you won't acknowledge anything other than your work. I need more."
"I " Helen faltered and stared at Samantha in barely-concealed surprise. Sighing, she pushed a strand of Samantha's hair behind her ear. "Samantha, I care for you deeply but as a friend. Nothing more."
Samantha laughed and pulled away. "No, that's not true."
"It is. I'm sorry."
"No," Samantha said, anger warring with grief in her voice.
"Please." Helen took a step forward, but Samantha moved out of her reach and turned her back to Helen's regret.
"We should talk."
Samantha shook her head. "Just go."
Helen stopped herself from arguing and acquiesced. "When you're ready, come find me."
Without another word, Helen watched as Samantha dematerialized, fearful it would be for the last time.
"I returned to Old City several days later. Samantha remained in London. She agreed to work at the Sanctuary but only if our contact was minimal. Under the circumstances, I consented. It took five years before she would once again allow me to be a part of her life."
"Wow. How did you finally convince her?"
"I attended her graduation. She had dedicated herself to her studies, earning four degrees in five years. She focused her anger at her education." Helen's voice dropped. "However, it was almost more than she could handle."
"Let's just say before she could completely control herself stress was not good for her system. She found it difficult to maintain her composure when she became overwhelmed."
"Wow." Will leaned forward in his seat to study Helen for a long moment. "There's something you're not telling me. Did she blow up her school lab or something?"
Helen smirked. "Nothing so dramatic." Her expression sobered and her voice cracked as she said, "We almost lost her. She disappeared for several weeks. None of my attempts of finding her were successful. I worried she had given up, de-atomized or just lost control."
"She appeared two nights before her graduation ceremony, exhausted and babbling about monsters in her closet, the same as she did when she was a child."
"Monsters in her closet?" Will said, skepticism heavy in his tone.
"When she younger and her powers were just starting to gain strength, random thoughts would become reality. It would be worse at night when her nightmares of monsters would suddenly appear from her closet."
"Talk about childhood trauma."
"Indeed. As she grew older and we began our work together, she learned how to prevent such occurrences, but the stress of final exams and a spiraling personal life shutdown her mental control system. Even though she knew she had created the monsters herself and could vanquish them with a thought, she still became overwhelmed with the constant barrage of negative stimuli."
"She had a nervous breakdown?"
"Of sorts, yes. I had to put her into an induced coma, slowing her brainwaves to near fetal levels in an effort to reboot her systems."
Will exhaled loudly. "It seems to have worked."
"For the most part, yes."
"What does that mean? She seemed normal to me. Well, as normal as a person can be who can manipulate molecules with just a thought."
"Samantha is in control of herself, but that control has taken years to perfect."
"Was that the reason she welcomed you back into her life?"
Helen nodded. "She had little choice though it was not the easiest of reunions. She was between the person she was and the person she is today."
"She has certainly grown up well," Will said, appreciation evident in his tone, but at Helen's raised eyebrow, he looked chagrinned. "Your relationship seems to have suffered no damage."
"We have made an effort to repair our friendship. Still, there is a reason she does not live with us here, Will, just as there is a reason you only recently met her."
"Is she stable?"
"It is a delicate balance, but she is too far important to our work to jeopardize that balance with trivial matters."
Will scrunched his forehead. "I'm confused. Does she work for the London Sanctuary?"
"Not directly. Please understand, Will, she is not the only one of her type," Helen said. "There are others."
"A race of beings who can control matter?"
"Yes. Most of them are benign, yet there are those who would use their power to destroy and control."
"Is vital in ensuring those who would wreak havoc do not."
"She's a spy?"
Will sat back into his chair with a loud thud. "How does she know she's ever really alone?"
"It's complicated to explain. Simply put, she can sense others of her kind." Helen's features softened as she added, "She is quite powerful in her own right."
Will caught the pride in Helen's voice, but he knew it was mixed with a bit of sorrow as well. He thought he understood why.
"She doesn't have a lot of freedom, does she?" he asked gently.
Helen briefly met his eyes, but then she turned back to her work. "No. Her presence is required in many different locations at once."
"What does that mean?"
"That she is an ally of whom we can rarely rely," Helen said without looking at him. She had begun to write again.
Will watched her for a long moment before finally standing, knowing without being told his boss was not going to further elaborate on any matter relating to Samantha. He left the library with more questions than when he entered. In his office, the journals of Samantha's medical history still littering his desk, he laughed as a thought occurred to him. He wondered if Samantha knew she had gotten what she wanted: Helen Magnus was in love with her.
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