Synopsis, chapter 4: Will tries to help Henry communicate better with the wolf, Henry tries to let him.
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 what to know what happens.
A/N: This is the last chapter of this story, though there may be a sequel if people seem to want it. Feedback is very appreciated.
Part 1 | Part 2 |Part 3
There was something about this part of the Sanctuary that Will didn't like. It had never bothered him at first, at least not since after his first encounter with the place. Recent experiences though – his own transformation into something out of control, as well as what was happening with Henry – had made him reconsider. The creatures that were housed here were the most dangerous, the ones that couldn't be trusted anywhere else. And Will couldn't help but wonder whether they had always been like that, or whether something had changed.
The room was empty, containing nothing but one wooden chair that Will had liberated from a storeroom. The rooms were kept empty until they were needed, it was easier that way to customize them as and when necessary. This one wouldn't need any customization, its occupant wouldn't be there long enough to worry about the decor.
Will stepped inside the room and looked around. The Sanctuary wasn't a prison, but there were some things that were simply too dangerous to be allowed to roam free. Nonetheless, the idea of being trapped frightened him, and he left the room much more quickly than he entered.
“Ready?” He asked the other man, who was leaning against the wall opposite the door, looking as though he were deciding whether to run.
Henry closed his eyes and took a deep breath. His arms were wrapped so far around his own body that he wasn't so much folding them as actually hugging himself. “No,” he replied.
“If you don't want to do this, you don't have to. Or if you want to leave it a few days until we can tell Magnus about it, we can do that.”
“No,” Henry took a reluctant step closer to the door, “I'd rather not tell her about it until we know how it goes. I don't want any more of an audience than necessary. Lets just get it over with, okay?” He took another deep breath and released it slowly, then strode forward purposefully and entered the cell.
Will tried to suppress the feeling that they were sneaking around behind Helen's back. Henry was, after all, an adult. He had the right to make his own decisions. Although in this case, Will suspected that Helen might disagree. Inside the cell, Henry turned around and nodded to Will, who closed and locked the door behind him. “Are you okay?” His voice came over the intercom, the walls and door were too thick to allow sound to penetrate.
“Oh, yeah.” Will noticed Henry's breathing rate had increased as the door closed. “Great. Can't think of anything I'd rather be doing on a Saturday afternoon.”
Will chose to ignore the sarcasm. He watched Henry for a few moments as he paced quickly up and down the room, eying the locked door with something like distrust. Will wondered whether his discomfort came from the idea of being locked in, or of what would happen if he were to get out. The door was strong. The shoe was designed to keep things in. It shouldn't be a problem. He hoped.
“Okay Henry. You need to relax. Stop pacing, sit down.”
Henry did as he asked, sitting on the chair that Will had placed in the center of the room. He smiled nervously, “I knew I'd end up locked away down here eventually.”
“It's not going to be for long, Henry.”
Henry nodded, “Let's hope not. So, what do I do?”
“Just try to relax first, take a deep breath. Just try to slow down your breathing before you hyperventilate.”
Henry nodded, closed his eyes and took a deep breath, filling his lungs and holding it for a few seconds before releasing it slowly, “Okay. Bring it on.”
Will leaned back against the wall and watched him, “You're going to have to help me out here, Henry. I don't know a lot about how this works. If we'd had Helen here it might be easier. Just try to...” He faltered. There were questions he should have asked before they began. He should have taken the time to do more research, convince Henry to tell Dr. Magnus what they were doing. He knew that he should stop this now, but curiosity and the likelihood that Henry wouldn't agree to try it again spurred him on. “Are you aware of the wolf all the time? Is it there now.”
Henry drummed his fingers on the underside of the chair and nodded.
“I want you to just reach for it. Try to communicate with it, if that makes sense. You don't have to let it take over if you don't want to, just let it know that you're acknowledging it.” He rubbed at an itch on the side or his face and frowned, “Is any of this making any sense?”
Henry smiled, “You really don't know what you're doing, do you?”
Will shook his head, “When I first suggested this, I thought...”
“That Doctor Magnus would be here,” Henry finished for him.
“And I don't understand why she isn't.”
Henry got to his feet and walked around the room before sitting back down and focusing his gaze on the ground between his feet, “It's complicated,” he said. “Look, you're doing fine, even if you are just blundering through. Keep going.”
Will stood up and took a step towards the door, “I want you to close your eyes,” he said, “Imagine you're somewhere you know well, somewhere you feel comfortable. Reach out to the wolf. Think about how you feel when you change. Think about how things look and sound, how they smell.”
To the wolf, scent was everything. Its eyesight and hearing worked much better than a human's, but the world was defined by smell, everyone had their own, unique scent, easier to tell apart than their faces. Emotions too, sometimes even the slightest change was accompanied by a difference in the way a person smelled. Just like seeing the difference in someone's expression, but easier than that, more intuitive. And you didn't even have to be in the same room with them.
Even through the thick, soundproof walls, he was aware of Will. The room wasn't airtight, he could smell him, his curiosity, his excitement, his... Henry gasped as he felt the wolf rise closer to the surface, making a dash for freedom. Instinctively, he pushed it back down. His eyes remained squeezed closed as he wrestled back control for his human side. He was aware of his heart pounding in his chest, feeling every beat. He drew in as much air as he could, filling his lungs, fighting for control as the wolf tried to break free. “No!”
His eyes opened to see Will's face staring at him with concern through the window of the cell door. He could still feel the wolf, clawing restlessly at the underside of his consciousness. He ignored it.
“Are you okay?” Will asked.
Henry rubbed his hands briskly up and down his arms, shivering, “This was a bad idea,” he said.
“You were almost there,” Will told him, “Why did you stop? What happened?”
“There's no controlling it,” Henry told him, “It's not rational, it doesn't think like we do. It's just not possible for us to co-exist without fighting.”
Will shook his head, “It is,” he insisted, “There have been stories of lycanthropes for thousands of years, communities of them. Most of them aren't violent, they can live alongside human communities, among them sometimes, with no one suspecting. How could they do that if they couldn't even co-exist with themselves?”
“I don't know, Will. I just know what it was feeling when it tried to break free, and it wasn't good. Just let me out, okay?”
“We will do this, Henry. It's just going to take a while.”
The wolf was scratching at his defenses, looking for a weakness, some way to break through. Henry pushed it further down, “I'm not sure I can.” Will opened the door and Henry emerged looking thoroughly exhausted. Free of the cell, he leaned against the wall for support. “I'm not sure I even want to.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his bottle of Valium and swallowed two without water. He ran the back of his hand along his brow.
Will passed him a bottle of water, and Henry gratefully swigged it down. “Next time...” Will said.
“There won't be a next time.”
Will sighed and took back the empty bottle of water, “I'm sorry,” he said, “I think I might have ended up doing more harm than good. But honestly, Henry, I'm sure you can do this. That fact that you didn't grow up around other people like you is getting in the way, you were probably supposed to learn this while you were a kid, but I know you'll get there.”
Henry shook his head. Exhaustion had worn down his defenses and the wolf had been given strength by its near brush with freedom. It gave one final scratch, a bid for control, and caught Henry off guard. He gripped the wall hard and shoved Will away hard.
Will staggered backwards and only narrowly avoided landing on the floor. He watched in horrified fascination as his friend's face began to morph with that of the creature. Henry looked him straight in the eye, “Run!” he said.
Will tried, but found himself rooted to the spot, unable to decide between trying for the door but running past Henry, or going in the other direction and hiding. He chose neither. “Henry. Don't fight it. Just let it happen. Let it out. Just relax, okay, don't fight.”
Henry shook his head from side to side and let out a sound somewhere between despair and frustration as he rushed back into the cell. Will staggered forwards and closed the door behind him. It was only then that his mind was able to register how much his body was shaking. He sank to the floor and sat there for a moment, eyes wide open and focused on the locked door, concentrating on his breathing, riding out the wave of unused fight-or-flight adrenaline.
When he was able to stand up, he crept to the door and looked inside. Henry was slouched on the ground, leaning against the wall. He was human, in appearance, at least. He glanced up at Will and gave a weak smile.
Will waited a moment before he opened the door again.
Henry stayed on the ground as the door opened, pressing his back against the far wall, “Are you okay?” he asked as Will stepped halfway inside.
Will nodded, “Are you?”
“I'll get back to you on that.” Henry did a mental check for the wolf. It was still there, still scratching at the back of his mind, but it was quieter now. The drugs taking effect, maybe. Or maybe not. “I stopped fighting it,” he said. “I gave it a bit of leeway, and it didn't come out. I didn't change all the way, and I was still on control. Kind of.”
“Good,” Will noticed that his voice was shaking and wondered whether it was audible. “I'm...glad.” He offered Henry a hand, which he took gratefully as he pulled himself to his feet.
“I'm sorry I scared you,” Henry told him.
Henry laughed and squeezed the hand that he has still holding before he let it go, “I know it sounds a bit like a line from a cheesy sci-fi movie, but I can smell your fear.” He winced, “Wow, it sounded even worse out loud than it did in my head. Creepy, too.”
Will smiled and turned to leave, “Are you ready to get out of here?”
Henry followed him, but paused at the door, “If you weren't too freaked out, Will, I'm thinking maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to try it again. Just, maybe not for a while.”
Will nodded and shut the door behind them, “Maybe not for a while,” he agreed.