Title: your journey's been etched onto your skin
Characters: Helen Magnus/Will Zimmerman
Summary: he has spent three years trying to unravel her. She has had him unraveled since before they met
Read it on AO3
He has more experiences in 3 years with her than in his previous 35 years of life. He learns more about her and more about himself and more about history, real history then he could ever imagine. There are stories of presidents and queens and people who changed the face of the world. But the ones that he treasures and remembers are the stories of people who will never be in the history books.
When he comes to her office after a particularly uneventful day, she is not sitting at her desk, but instead has curled up in the wingbacked chair with a cup of tea sitting on the small table in front of her. Her heels (black, open toed) abandoned under her desk. Today was not a life-saving, problem-solving day. Today was a paperwork, housekeeping day (He is drowning in his. She, like always, is totally on top of all of hers). She spent her afternoon on a conference call with various Sanctuary’s trying to re-distrubte their budgets (Too much spent on weapons frequently lost in Moscow, not enough spent on repairs in Sydney). He spent his wondering why there were still bits of paperwork on his desk from 6 months ago (The requisition form for official police documents, it’s not like he needs it now anyway).
He wonders how many days like this she has had. How many protégés, friends, lovers have sat beside her after these days in silence. How many have observed her in the same way, wondering all the same things he does. Unraveling tiny snippets about her (Vacations every seven years, how even after 160 years, she still loves Christmas). He wonders about all the things he will never know, but he accepts that she will forever be the enigma in his life.
He sits quietly on the sofa, just observing her. He knows that his watching her doesn’t go unnoticed by her, but it has become a habit that he just can’t shake. He made a life out of observing people, and she is not exempt from that. They sit in silence as she finishes her tea, and he notices that the lipstick that was this morning a pink shimmer is no longer. He watches her tap perfectly manicured nails (when does she find time to go and do that?) against the cup as she drains the last of the cup. He watches her as she goes to the bookshelf and grabs not a book, but an album, and places it in his hands as she sits next to him on the sofa. He flips it open to a page in the middle to find a photograph marked
“H. Magnus & R. Parks, 1957”
He knows the purpose of the album is not for questions, but for answers. He places the closed album on the table next to her empty teacup. He studies her for a moment, and she does the same. She hasn’t changed a bit since that night in the rain outside the hospital (he has changed immeasurably). His whole world turned 180 degrees in the best and the worst way. He brushes her fringe out of her face (her hair had started out in a messy bun during her conference call, and found it's way down), tracing a hand down her cheek and resting it there, and kisses her. It isn’t anything more than lips touching, and he feels her hand over his heart. He is sure it is her that makes it something more, moving her lips (she tastes like earl grey) against his in a way that is nothing more than a kiss at the end of a date might be. It is slow and sweet and there is a promise about the way she keeps her hand over his heart, the other resting on his thigh so she doesn't lose her balance.
He is the one that breaks it apart, but he rests his forehead against hers for a moment, eyes closed. When he pulls back, she is smiling at him. He gathers the album from the table and bids her a goodnight (he won’t sleep yet anyway. Much too early, and there are too many questions that need answers) and he is almost at the door of her office when she finally speaks
“If you pick a few, I’ll tell you about them later”
He doesn’t need to see her to know that this will be a test
He stretches out on his bed (standard bachelor décor) and slowly flips through the album she gave him. The photos slowly go from black and white to colour, and he doesn’t recognize all of the faces and names. There are photos of her with all the members of The Five throughout history. He notices that there is one with James, dated during the war and for the first time sees that her hair is short and a coppery red. He thinks he prefers it as it is now.
By the time he finishes examining all the photos, it is well past 2am. He still isn’t sure what she meant by a few, so he gathers up the album and pads barefoot and in pyjama pants and a t-shirt to her office, only to find the lights out. He passes through all the corridors up to her bedroom (it’s more like an entire wing), and finds her door ajar. He knocks quietly (he does have manners) before entering. There is a light shining out of the bathroom door (also ajar), and he calls out to her.
“You haven’t drowned in there, have you?”
She doesn’t respond, but he hears the movement of the water, and a few moments later she emerges, wrapped in the satin robe he has seen a time or two before (nobody else would purposefully stick an ozone beetle in their brain), and is carrying a small tub of what he assumes is moisturizer. She settles onto her bed (big, four posters and canopy, very regal) and unscrews the tub. As it is, her robe only comes to mid thigh, and he completely misses anything she says, mesmerized by watching her rub cream into her skin (like he’s never watched a woman complete the task before)
“Will, I asked if you enjoyed the album?”
He sits down next to her, back resting against the pillows and bedhead as she’s screwing the lid back on the little tub and placing it on her nightstand.
“There were lots of people I didn’t recognize. And you used to have red hair. I think I like it more now” He reaches out to tuck a strand behind her ear, and she turns into him, closing her eyes. The album lies on the edge of the bed, forgotten as she leans into him and in an instant the kiss is deeper and sweeter than the one earlier in her office. She places the same hand over his heart and leans full into him, her thigh between his legs (fully body contact), and he runs a hand past the curve of a satin covered breast and down to her waist. They stay like that for what feels like an immeasurable amount of time. One of her hands stays planted over his heart (where she always is). The hand at her waist finds the tie of her robe and tugs it free of it’s hold, her robe falls open and he pushes her up, so he can sit up. She already has the ends of his t-shirt in her hands and is tugging it over his head. There are no buttons or zippers or complicated dresses to deal with. The robe slides easily from her shoulders and the most complicated part of this is removing his pants (she has to totally remove herself from him).
There is nothing rushed about any of this, and they are both hyper-aware of each other (she has not been able to have children in a long time, he had his last blood test two weeks ago). He wants to spend an age mapping out every part of her (she has a smattering of freckles on her right hip, and a birth mark on the inside of the same thigh) and a moment passes where he wonders how many others have spent nights like this. He kisses the birth mark on her thigh and moves up slowly, fingers following the same path as his mouth on the opposite side. His eyes meet hers before sliding two fingers into her slowly, and he feels her clench around them, before closing his lips over her clit. It doesn’t surprise him that she is relatively quiet. Not silent by any means, but gives noises of encouragement and want. She threads a hand into his hair as she comes, his fingers pushing up into her. He spots kisses over her hips, stomach, breasts and shoulders as he works up to her lips.
Neither one of them has said anything the entire time. This is beyond words.They are beyond words. He finds himself flat on his back this time, and does not even have time to think before she has her hand wrapped around him and is sinking herself onto him. Her hand is back over his heart, and they move in tandem. He keeps her steady with a hand at her waist and watches her. He thinks that she has never been more beautiful to him than in this moment. There is nothing to hang over this moment except for how exactly perfect it seems to him. He moves a hand down to her clit and she doesn’t miss a beat. He waits for her before coming, and she gracefully (there is no other way for her) collapses on top of him, pressing kisses along his collarbone, catching her breath.
“I think,” she says to him “that I will need to have another bath”