DISCLAIMER: Sanctuary belongs to Amanda Tapping, Damian Kindler, and the SyFy Channel. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I am a Helen/Will shipper, so this story is as much a surprise to me as it is to you. Also, the title comes from a Druitt quote from episode "End of Nights 2." This was an entry in the The FemSlash Advent Calendar :: Dog Days of Summer 2010. For geonncannon, who I hope has received his copy of Sanctuary season two on DVD.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Vague mention of Ashley.
FEEDBACK: To ceej4[at]yahoo.com
Undone in the Flesh
Helen shifted on the couch, her focus momentarily broken by a disturbance in the air around her. She glanced about the room, but nothing seemed out of place. Still, she understood. With a smirk, she returned to her reading, Will's curious smile unanswered as she offered no explanation for her brief lapse in concentration.
Walking across the main foyer of the Sanctuary, Will was lost in a file, his head down in resolved concentration. Turning a page in the folder he was carrying, he was surprised when the folder landed on the floor as he ran into something solid.
"Oh, I..." He bent down to retrieve his papers but stopped as he realized he was bowed in front of a stranger. He took her in slowly, sweeping from her brown leather knee-high boots to her jet black hair. Her fine honeyed skin and grey eyes momentarily distracted him until he remembered she had appeared out of nowhere. "I'm sorry. I...Wait. Where did you come from?"
She only smiled. "You must be Will."
"Uh, yeah. Who are you?"
"She is Samantha West."
The woman's gaze never left Will, but she addressed Helen as she said, "He's cute. No wonder you like keeping him close."
Will felt the heat rising in his cheeks, but he turned to the approaching doctor, whose eyes were locked with Samantha's.
"She's an old friend, Will, one who refuses to grow up."
Samantha laughed. "Like you'd want me to. And don't call me old. I'm still younger than you." Her smiled faded into something more tender. "I've missed you, Elle."
"And I you."
Will looked from one woman to the other and then cleared his throat in an effort to discreetly interrupt the seemingly private moment. They both turned to him, Samantha looking amused, Helen contrite.
"I'm sorry. How did you get in here?"
"I imagine she walked through the door," Helen said.
"Yeah, but, I mean, she just seemed to appear."
Helen chuckled. "That's because she literally walked through the door."
"Well, more like slipped under it," Samantha corrected quietly.
Will's confusion was plain. "Okay."
"Show him," Helen instructed.
Samantha closed her eyes and began to glow, becoming a mere shimmer of particles. Will watched in fascination as she disappeared completely before reappearing less than a minute later.
"Wow. How...How do you do that?" He turned to Magnus. "I thought Clara was the only invisible abnormal?"
"I'm not invisible, geek boy. I transmorph."
"You were gone. You were here, and then you were gone."
"She only seemed to be gone, Will," Helen said. "In fact, she only became something else."
Samantha laughed. "I control molecules, turn them into basically become anything I want, like dust, which you can't see unless you know what you're looking for."
Will shook his head in wonder. "Wow. Can you do that again?"
"How about something a little more instructive? Helen tells me you like to learn."
She held out her hand, empty and palm up. Suddenly, a shape began to take form and an apple materialized. She offered it to him, and he took it hesitantly.
"It's solid," he said, surprised.
Samantha nodded. "Go ahead. Taste it."
Will did as instructed but then cringed as he chewed. "Has no taste."
"That's because it's made of air," Helen explained. "She pulled the molecules from the air and gave them a form."
"It has weight," he said, lifting the apple as if in demonstration.
"But no substance or texture. It doesn't taste or smell or feel like an apple," Samantha supplied.
"Can you change already-formed entities or just create something from nothing?"
Samantha raised an eyebrow at Helen. "You weren't kidding about the questions," she said. Helen just smirked.
"At least they're directed to you this time."
Samantha sighed. "I can do anything with molecules, including turning you into a soup."
"How?" Will asked, nonplussed at the conversation between the two women or the idle threat.
"That's for you scientists to figure out. Hey, there's an idea. Elle here has a journal all about me. She's run every test imaginable. Why don't you go read and I'll catch up to you later?"
Will turned to Helen. "I, uh, I guess I was being a little rude." He gave Samantha a sheepish smile. "I'm sorry. I guess you would like to settle in, maybe get something to eat?"
"Sounds like a good idea," Samantha said, affection morphing into something else as she glanced at Helen. "Something to eat sounds perfect."
"I'll just take you to the kitchen," Helen said as she motioned for Samantha to precede her down the hallway.
As they walked away, Will was almost certain he saw Helen's face flush.
"How long are you prepared to stay?" Helen asked as they walked along the hallways of the Sanctuary.
"Just tonight. Maybe tomorrow." Samantha stopped just as they entered the kitchen. Placing her hand on Helen's arm, she forced the other woman to look at her. "I'm sorry about Ashley."
"Thank you. I know to never ask where you've been, but we could have used your help."
Samantha just nodded but turned her attention to the cabinets lining the wall. "I'm sorry," she said again. "It...I was unavailable."
"One of these days that won't be acceptable," Helen said evenly. "Now, I do believe we have a few of your favorite cookies stashed around here somewhere."
"You had the Big Guy make a batch last night, didn't you?" Samantha asked as she took a bite of the cookie Helen offered. "You got my message."
"I did. It was late. Will and I were working in the library."
Samantha jumped up to sit on the counter. "You really enjoy his company."
"You need that," Samantha said as she pushed an errant strand of hair behind Helen's ear.
Helen's smile was sad, but she interlaced her fingers with Samantha's and tugged the younger woman from her perch.
"Come. I'll show you to your quarters."
"I guess that means I won't be sharing your bed tonight," Samantha teased.
"No," Helen said. "It means I will be sharing yours."
Two hours later, Will was in his office when he heard a knock on the open door. Samantha was leaning against the wall and greeted him with a smile.
"Thought I would give you warning this time," she said.
"Reading about me?" she asked as she moved further into the room. Picking up one of the journals littering his desk, she flipped through it before adding it to a growing stack.
"You weren't kidding when you said she'd run every test possible."
"Yeah, Elle likes to poke and prod. Learn anything interesting?"
"Your molecular structure doesn't seem to be bonded. How do you keep from dispersing?"
"I don't know. Doesn't Helen explain?"
"Magnus believes you create some kind of EM field in order to control each molecule, but there are billions of molecules in a human being. How do you create something so powerful? Do you direct the energy? Where does it come from? And, when you change into something else, how do you put yourself back together?"
Samantha shrugged. "Just do. It's not so hard anymore. When I was a kid, I used to make things appear and disappear at random. If I wished for something, it would materialize, kind of like Tabitha on Bewitched. It was fun until I became a danger to myself and others."
"That's how you met Magnus?"
"The first time, yeah. She came out of nowhere and helped me learn how to harness my power."
"You were seven?"
"The records indicate she worked with you for only a few months."
Samantha nodded. "My father put a stop to the lessons. He wanted me to be normal and felt Helen's influence was only reinforcing my peculiarity."
"I had learned enough to continue teaching myself. I struggled with identities for years until my father grew tired of making excuses for me. He threw me out. I was 17 and living on the streets." She cocked her head to the side, a playful smile on her lips. "Well, sort of. I was using my power to do whatever I wanted."
"That's when Magnus brought you to the Sanctuary."
"Elle found me hiding out in San Francisco. She brought me here, and then we traveled all over the world visiting the other houses."
Will lifted one of the journals. "There's very little here after that."
"Yeah, well, I wasn't the same person when she found me the second time."
"She doesn't seem to have given up on you?"
"She does have a history of perseverance."
Will scoffed. "That's an understatement. So, did you part ways then?"
"It was 1973, and I was 19 years old. I guess you could say I decided to try something different. I stayed in London, began university, worked my way through two degrees, and bought a house in the country. I wanted a safe, peaceful life."
"Do you still live there?"
"Sometimes." Samantha grew reflective. "Not enough I suppose."
"Where do you go when you're not in England?"
"Here and there. Doesn't matter."
"Okay," Will said, realizing Samantha was clearly not going to share more information. "Do you use your power often?"
"Only when necessary," Samantha hedged. "There's more to the world than you know, young William. Helen Magnus has not yet begun to show you what wonders this universe holds."
"You sound like a Jedi master."
Samantha laughed. "So I do. A long life and a love of all things Carrie Fisher will do that to a person."
"Don't listen to her, Will. She'll lead you into temptation and then abandon you."
Both Will and Samantha turned toward the door where Henry was standing. Samantha beamed.
"You'll enjoy every minute of it though," she said as she made her way to Henry's side and pulled him into a hug.
"If you survive," he answered. "When did you get in and why didn't you come find me?"
"I haven't been here long, and I followed the routine."
Henry rolled his eyes. "Always the doc first but don't tell me Will has taken my place as the number two guy."
"Never," she said as she ruffled his hair.
"Does the Big Guy know you're here?"
"Yes, but I haven't seen him. I've been busy."
"You'd better say hello before you leave."
"She will," Helen said. All three of them turned to the new arrival. "But, she's not leaving until tomorrow, so she has time to visit with everyone."
"Ah, yes, maybe I should split myself in several pieces. Let all of you have a crack at me."
"I take it Will has been investigating?"
"Something like that."
"Good luck," Henry murmured.
"Whatever he's doing will have to wait," Samantha said, a smirk forming as she looked Magnus up and down. "For now, we have some business to attend. Gentlemen, if you'll please excuse us."
"Sure," Henry said even though he was certain Samantha was not listening. He and Will watched as she wrapped her arms around Magnus, pulling the doctor close to her body and transforming them to ashes before they vanished all together. "That's so mind-blowing."
"Yeah." Will came to stand next to Henry. "So, who is she?" he asked.
Henry shrugged. "I don't really know. Did you read her file?"
"Yes, but there's only basic info on her past, all general. It's mostly medical. Her file lists her as being born in 1954."
"That's about right. She's been coming around since I was a kid. She looks pretty good for a 56 year old, huh?"
"You're telling me," Will said, appreciation clear.
"She stops by every couple of years. Never stays long. She's fun while she's here." Henry paused in thought and then added, "Sometimes, I think Magnus goes to her. Every seven years or so, the doc goes on vacation."
"To a villa, yeah, I know. She meets Samantha there?"
"I think so."
"What's the nature of their relationship?" Will asked. "They seem...close."
"Your guess is as good as mine. You know Magnus. She doesn't share the personal stuff."
"Yeah," Will repeated as he stared at the spot where the women had been.
"Come away with me."
Helen sighed. "You know I can't."
"Should I try to influence you?" Samantha whispered as she nuzzled just below Helen's ear. "Elle."
"Proper names, Samantha."
Samantha laughed, carefree and kind. "Does that mean Will is an exception?" She kissed Helen's neck. "Should I be jealous?"
"Stop being ridiculous."
Samantha unbuttoned Helen's blouse to expose milky-white skin and then nipped at Helen's newly revealed breastbone. "He has a lot of questions."
"Hmmm," Helen almost moaned. She tangled her hands in inky black hair. "He always does. Makes him good at his job."
"Will you answer them?"
"Not all of them." Helen gently tugged, and Samantha kissed her way back to Helen's lips.
"And if he asks if you're in love with me?"
"I'll tell him the truth," Helen answered.
"Good. Maybe then he can tell me."
"Do you really want to know?"
"No," Samantha said as kissed Helen again. "Never."
Forcing Helen to sit up, Samantha pushed her shirt off her shoulders, lips ghosting across the uncovered skin. Helen tilted her head back giving Samantha better access to her throat. Samantha smiled against Helen's jaw as she felt Helen's fingers slipping under her T-shirt. Fisting the material in her hands, Helen tugged the garment up and over Samantha's head just as Samantha went to work on the buckle of Helen's trousers. Growling in frustration, she ran her hands over their remaining clothing and it all fell away into nothingness. She grinned and moved down Helen's body, her tongue leaving a hot trail that cooled in the sticky air surrounding them.
"I knew there was an upside to having this power," she said into Helen's bellybutton.
Helen just laughed.
As they lay tangled in the sheets, Helen on her back with Samantha draped over her, Helen ran her hand over the smooth skin of Samantha's thigh.
"You'll need to stop that if you intend for us to get any sleep," Samantha said, drowsy and contended.
"I don't require much sleep," Helen replied, but she pulled Samantha closer and kissed her forehead.
"Hmm. I remember." The silence settled over them until Samantha leaned up. Putting her weight on her elbow, she looked down at Helen. "I really do miss you."
Helen traced Samantha's cheek, her fingers lingering over Samantha's lips. "You have a lovely smile."
"Is that your way of saying it's my own fault?" Helen smirked, and Samantha twisted until the other woman was under her. "I would stay, Elle, if I could. Do you believe me?"
"The sun is rising," Helen said. "You'll be leaving in less than six hours."
Samantha kissed Helen softly, once and then twice. "I can't stay," she whispered. "But, I will always come back."
Helen closed her eyes to the promise but relaxed into Samantha's touch, believing only what she could feel and refusing to acknowledge, in a rare occurrence, the truth.
Samantha woke alone close to 11 a.m., just as she expected. She stretched lazily and grinned as the tension in her muscles pulled in pleasant ways. A note on the pillow next to hers requested her presence at lunch, and she shook her head fondly at the politeness of the demand between the lines. Getting up to take a shower, she hissed in pain at the red welts rising on her back when the water hit them. Concentrating, she deadened the nerves not needing any more pain but she didn't take away the marks. She would let them fade naturally, allowing them to serve as a reminder of her time with Helen. Once they were gone, she knew the loneliness would return, but she also knew she had no alternative. Instead, she dressed, pulling together an outfit from her mind and then making her way to find the few people she needed to see before leaving the Sanctuary.
After saying goodbye to the rest of her friends, Samantha found Will in the library. He glanced up at her when she entered.
"Hey, are you avoiding Kate?" he asked when Samantha dropped onto one of the sofas.
Samantha laughed. "Yep. I can only take one new person at a time."
"And, I'm the lucky one this time around?"
"Gee, thanks. You know, you'd like her if you met her."
"Maybe," Samantha said with a shrug. "I'll find out next time."
"You're leaving? What about lunch?"
"I'm not really hungry."
Will sat down next to her. "Can I ask you a question?"
"Can I stop you?"
"There's so much I still don't understand. Like, you're 56 but you look 30. How?"
"You forget I control every molecule in my body. Looking younger than I am is easy."
"Uh, yeah. Okay."
"You said you parted ways with Magnus in 1973 yet here you are."
Samantha sighed. "I stopped travelling with her. I obviously didn't stop seeing her or talking to her or being a part of her life." Samantha leaned forward to put her elbows on her knees and run her hands over her face. "I was a kid. A foolish, stupid kid who thought I had all the answers to all the questions. Elle " She shook her head. "Helen never gave up on me, but I gave up on her. I needed to."
Samantha met his eyes with a sad smile. "Now it's the other way around."
"No. Just walk me to the roof. She'll meet us there."
Helen was waiting when they arrived. She had her back to them, but they both knew she was aware of them.
Samantha turned to Will. "It's been great," she said. "Get a list of questions ready for next time, huh?"
"Already working on it," he answered. He glanced at Helen. "Should I go?"
"No. Not yet."
She gave him one last smile before making her way next to Helen. "It's a beautiful day. Try not to spend all of it in the lab."
"Did you say goodbye to everyone?"
"When will I see you again?"
"I don't know. Soon. Your boy wonder has more questions."
"You won't answer them."
Shrugging, Samantha said, "You're probably right. You usually are. Still, it gives me an excuse." Helen smiled. "I should be going."
Helen finally faced Samantha. "There is always a place for you here."
"Life is complicated enough," Samantha teased but added more seriously, "though I will try to be available the next time you need me."
Nodding, Helen said, "Take care of yourself."
Samantha caressed Helen's cheek before taking a step away from her. She watched as Samantha dissolved, turning into a shimmering puddle before being swept away by the wind.
"I'll never get used to that," Will said as he came to stand by Helen.
"No," she agreed. "Neither will I."
Will turned toward Helen to say something else but let the words go at the wistful look dancing in her eyes. Instead, he touched her shoulder lightly and then went inside, leaving Helen to stare at the disappearing mist, the breeze tickling her skin just as a lover would.
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