Synopsis, chapter 3: Will takes a quick break and ends up dropping in on Henry.
Spoilers: Quite a few for everything up to and including Warriors, so don't read past this point if you haven't seen that far and don't want to know what happens.
A/N: I've been playing around with this for a few days now. If I'm honest, I'm not 100% satisfied with it, but I reached the point where I knew if I didn't post it, I never would. Let me know what you think. Please?
Part 1 | Part 2
Will thought often about his life before he came to the Sanctuary. It had been easier, in a way. Not the work, as such, though despite the nature of his job, it had been much less dangerous. Before he came here, he had existed in two separate worlds, he had had a job, and he had had a life. Two separate entities that mixed only rarely with an invite to dinner at a colleagues home or running into someone he knew on his day off. It had been normal.
This, he thought, looking around the room, was anything but normal. On the computer screen in front of him were endless files on creatures – people – with abilities that until recently he never would have dreamed were possible outside of a science fiction movie.
Even putting aside for the moment that aspect of his work, his entire lifestyle, his entire life had changed when he came here. There were no boundaries any more. No work/life balance. No way to draw a line under a bad day and just go home and forget about it. It was strange, but strange came with the job description. Life at the Sanctuary was different from anything he had ever experienced before, but he was getting used to it.
Right now though, he was getting bored. He got to his feet and stretched. It was time for a break.
Henry didn't bother to look up as he heard Will open the door and enter the room. He was aware of him standing just inside the door, apparently just watching him. The smell of freshly brewed coffee filtered through the room. Henry tried to concentrate on what he was doing, his new weapon was nearly ready, but the audience was off-putting. He put his latest toy down on the desk, “If you're going to stand there staring at me, the least you can do is say hi,”
He swiveled around on his chair to look as Will, who smiled, “Hey. Sorry, you looked so intent, I thought I'd wait. You heard me?”
“You're not exactly Mr. Stealthy. You weren't trying to sneak up on me, were you? Because I gotta tell you, trying to make me jump isn't the best idea right now.”
“Just didn't want to disturb you,” Will took a few steps towards the desk, set down two mugs of coffee and pushed one towards Henry. He looked over the contents of the desk, “What is that?”
Henry grinned, “It'd spoil the surprise if I told you. You'll have to wait and see. It's pretty cool. Or I hope it will be, if it works.” He paused for a second, the excitement was clearly evident in his body language, “You want to try it out? I think it's ready, just working out a few bugs.”
Will grimaced, “I think I'll wait until the bugs are gone, thanks. Anyway, if I get to try it before Ashley, I think she might kill me. Literally.”
“Good point,” Henry looked a little disappointed and Will almost changed his mind, until the other man seemed to shake off the emotion and replace it with another smile, “Well, if you didn't come here for the cool toys, it must be the company.”
Will reached down and picked up some other unidentifiable piece of equipment, he spun it around in his hand, looking at it from all angles, “I just needed a break,” he said, “you were the nearest person.”
Henry fiddled tightened a screw in the handle of the gun and turned to face him, “Great, that's really flattering Will, thanks.”
“That's not what I meant. I just thought I'd come and see if you were busy. I brought coffee.” He pushed the untouched mug a little closer.
Henry put the gun down on the workbench and sighed, “Is this something to do with last night?” he asked.
“Last night?” Will frowned in confusion and Henry's eyes widened in panic as he realized he had made a mistake. “What happened last night?” he asked.
Henry's eyes drifted away from his own, staring instead at his own hands on the workbench. “Nothing,” he said, “nothing important, anyway. I just thought you might have heard something... Forget about it, okay?”
In response, Will sat himself down next to Henry. Henry's body visibly stiffened. “I know you're working through things with Dr. Magnus, but if there's anything you want to talk about, you just have to ask.” At Henry's lack of response, he pushed forward, “How've you been recently. Any better?”
Henry turned to face him, somehow managing to smile and frown at the same time, “Better like I've managed to stop turning into a monster, or..?”
“I meant more whether you've come any closer to gaining some control over... the other side of your personality.”
Will took a sip of his coffee and glanced away.
“No, not really”
The reply hung heavily in the air as Will battled against an uncharacteristic bout of hesitancy. He hadn't meant to initiate this conversation. He hadn't planned for it, and although he knew that it shouldn't be difficult, he was struggling to find the right words. He lifted his glasses up and rubbed his eyes quickly. “Not really? Does that mean you've had some?”
Henry shook his head, “Wow, you've got a funny idea of what taking a break means. But yeah, okay, we were bound to end up doing this sooner or later.” He stared into his drink as he spoke, “I'm getting better at holding it back, I think. But it's difficult. When I'm angry, when I'm stressed, scared, that's when it tries to get out.” He took another sip of his drink and closed his eyes, “Trouble is, the whole situation's pretty stressful in itself, so that doesn't help much,”
Will nodded, “There's a state of mind we call anticipatory anxiety. It happens sometimes when people suffer from anxiety, just worrying that they are going to have an attack one can set one off. It's not exactly the same thing, obviously this is something much more extreme, but the principal might be the same.”
“Maybe.” Henry shrugged and looked at him. Will noticed the sheen of sweat on the other man's brow. “You know, when I decided against the surgery, it was party because I wanted to see if anything good would come of this, and partly because I didn't want to wind up brain damaged. But if I'm honest, as much as I'm starting to accept it, there are still times when I just wish it would go away.”
“You're not thinking of changing your mind about the surgery, are you?”
“No, no way. But it would be so much easier if I could just to go to sleep and wake up back to normal,”
“But you are normal. For you,”
Henry cracked a smile, “Yeah, that's kind of the problem, isn't it?” He waited for Will's reaction but when none came, he frowned. “Hey, are you okay? You seem a bit, I dunno, distracted.”
Will sipped his coffee slowly and nodded, “I'm sorry, Henry. I shouldn't have started asking you about this, not at the moment.” He pushed his glasses further up his nose and tapped on the side of his mug with the back of one of his fingernails, “To be honest, I'm not finding this easy. I've had a lot of experience working with abnormals recently, but it's different talking to you because you're a friend. You're not supposed to be a doctor to your friends and family. Normally, I'd recommend a colleague.”
Henry shook his head, “Don't suppose you know anyone with the relevant experience?” He grinned.
“The memory of my own recent experiences aren't helping either,” Will admitted, “You were right when you told me that I understand it now. What it's like to have to deal with something like this. And it's making me have trouble remaining objective.”
Henry looked at him closely. Will looked so confused that Henry wished he knew the right thing to say. He reached across and tapped him briefly on the shoulder, “I'm fine, honestly, I'm dealing with it. I'm stating to see the upside, and Dr. Magnus is helping me. You don't need to keep doing this. We can just talk about normal things.”
“Just so you know, though,” he added, “things are different here. It's not like other jobs, we're a family. A strange one, to be sure, but that's still what we are. And like it or not, you're a part of it now. You shouldn't have to be objective with family. ”
“I'm beginning to realize that,” Will told him, “And it's a very different to any experience to anything I've ever done before.”
“In a good or a bad way?”
“Good,” Will paused, “but it's confusing too.”
The corners of Henry's mouth twitched upwards, “I know confusing.”
Without even realizing what he was doing, Henry edged himself a little closer to Will. As soon as he noticed what he had done, he knew that Will, despite giving no outward sign, had seen. Will seemed to notice everything. The talent was no doubt useful to the psychologist, but Henry wondered whether he knew how annoying it could be sometimes.
He breathed in, slowly but deeply, taking in the other man's scent. He was new at this, still trying to work out the meanings behind subtle changes in scent that he was starting to notice. If, one day, he was able to understand them fully, that would be a useful and probably slightly annoying talent of his own. For now, though, all he detected was that there had been a subtle change that could mean anything.
“Yep?” Henry leaned back quickly, putting a little more distance between the two of them.
“Have you...” Will hesitated for a fraction of a second, “have you ever tried to allow the wolf to surface deliberately?”
Henry stared at him as though he had gone insane, “Maybe I'm missing something, but I thought that might get in the way of the 'trying not to hurt people' part of my life plan.”
“Hear me out, okay? You're fighting it as every turn, holding it back, drugging it into submission, is it any wonder that it's fighting to surface? When it does break through, it struggles so hard for control that it takes it away from you.”
Before he had finished speaking, Henry was already shaking his head from side to side, “No,”
“No to what?”
“No to everything! I don't think it works like that, and anyway I can't do it, I couldn't take the risk.” Henry rubbed his hands up and down his arms as though warding off a none-existent chill in the air. “Dr Magnus said something similar, and I told her the same thing. No.”
Will nodded, he understood the reluctance. The idea of giving up control was a terrifying one in any circumstances, but this was a more extreme example than most people would ever be faced with. He could imagine the thoughts running through Henry's head, the possibility that someone would get hurt, that he would hurt someone. “We could find a safe place, somewhere where there's no danger of you getting out into the Sanctuary.”
“That's not what I'm worried about,” Henry told him.
“I mean...” Henry shook his head, “Yeah, obviously I am worried about that, but I didn't think you were suggesting doing it right now. I figured you'd take precautions.” He sighed and looked away, “I'm worried that if I give up control, I won't be able to get it back.”
Will reached out a hand and placed it on Henry's arm. The muscles there were tense, the tension ran through his whole body, visible in the expression on his face and in the slight tremor underneath his skin, “You will,” he assured him, “I'll help you,”
Henry nodded, “I know you will... would, but I just can't.”
The look in his eyes pleaded Will to change the subject, and he complied. “If you ever change your mind...”
Will let the matter drop. Henry would come around eventually, no one could continue under that amount of stress indefinitely. If anything he was placing himself in more danger by suppressing the wolf than by letting it free. Will decided to complete his research before he raised the subject again, and in the meantime, to be a friend. “Are we still on for movie night tonight?” he asked
Some of the tension dropped from Henry's body and he smiled, “You know it,” he said, “My turn to choose the movie, I'm not going to miss that.”
Will shook his head, but smiled back, “Why does that sound vaguely ominous?”
Henry shrugged, “Hey, my movies are good. Alright, I've got a gun to test out. You sure you don't want to help?”
“Another time, maybe,” Will lied.
“Suit yourself. I'll get Ash.” Henry waited for a few moments before he turned to fully face Will, “Say, erm, Will? Any chance I could have my arm back. You know, if you're done using it?”
Will realized with a start that his hand was still gripping Henry's arm, the fingers curving around the shape of his muscles, holding him fairly firmly in place. Will blushed and let go, “Sorry,” he murmured, looking away.
Henry just grinned, “Don't forget the popcorn tonight. I'll see you later.” With that, he picked up the prototype weapon and left, leaving Will watching him go.
Yes, there was no disputing the fact that life at the Sanctuary was different from anything he had ever experienced before, but he seemed to have traded in normality for something infinitely better, and that was no bad thing at all.