Will's voice was hesitant, the single syllable word drawn out and Helen didn't look away from her monitor at first, she continued to scroll through data, aware of his almost nervous presence a few feet behind her. She smiled to herself, and waited for him to carry on talking, to ask his questions. He had plenty, which didn't surprise her, but did please her. He needed to ask questions, to do what they did, to be prepared for the next patient, the next abnormal.
"Aside from the mo-" he stopped, knowing she didn't appreciate her patients called monsters, "abnormals," she turned then, smiling at him, "what else have you come across?"
He came a little closer, resting one lean hip on the console, face serious, glasses needing to be pushed up his nose. Not that she'd ever do anything like that, but the thought came, flashing through her mind.
"I mean, what about alternate realities, time travel, all that sci-fi stuff?" he continued.
"Time travel certainly," Helen said, leaning back against the console herself, arms crossed loosely, one long booted leg crossed over the other. Casual but defensive, against what though, she wasn't sure. "You've seen it, or something akin to it."
She tried to school her features into neutral, tried not to sigh, but felt the escape of air and sound, the twitch of her facial muscles all the same. Slight, but there and more than enough for Will to notice.
Not enough for him to mention, she noted.
"As for alternate realities, I haven't seen anything to prove or deny their existence."
She watched him take the information in, and decide his next question. It was interesting to watch his mind work, his expressions changing minutely as he thought things over.
"Have you ever travelled through time?"
"Do you think I need to?" she asked with a raised eyebrow and a grin.
"No, I guess not." He smiled back and relaxed, his whole body loosening up, and he seemed to shrink an inch in her presence, as if he had been holding himself up. Trying to look taller as if it would scare away anything he came across in the Sanctuary. Or in the world outside it.
She wished she could relax.
Though to relax would to be to let her guard down, which could be dangerous for everyone.
"What about your parents, did they know about your...thing?"
Thing, she thought, very scientific Dr. Zimmerman, but she held her sarcasm back. It was neither polite nor, becoming.
"No, they died long before it was apparent that I would live this long," she paused, "my father would've accepted it, and me, regardless."
"Was he...abnormal?" he asked, tone tentative, careful and she smiled.
"No, not in a physical sense, but people thought it of him," she said, "he was a genius beyond his time. He started the Sanctuary."
She smiled again, uncomfortable with the way her skin stretched with the amount of smiling she had done since Will had joined her. She couldn't say for sure why she liked him so much, why she always had.
"The family business," he said.
She smiled to herself this time. Her father hadn't wanted her to be so involved, had been reluctant. If he had known she'd still be running the Sanctuary over a century later he might not have minded so much.
"You have full access to the database Dr. Zimmerman, all the files," she said, "there are no secrets."
"Between us at least," he said, spotting Ashley entering the far end of the large room. "Sorry," he said, when she turned to see Ashley too. "I just like talking to you, about these things," he continued as the young woman walked up to them. "Makes it seem more real then reading it from a file."
"Even though you're surrounded by the reality of it?" she asked.
"Even though I'm proof myself?"
"Just because you say you're one hundred and fifty seven years old doesn't make you proof," he joked.
"I'll show you some photographs later."
"What photographs?" Ashley asked, kissing Helen on the cheek.
"Of your mother, when she was younger," Will answered.
"Whoa, clear your schedule, that's a big photo album," she said grinning.
"Such cheek," Helen said softly.
The younger woman simply laughed and started to fiddle with some of Helen's instruments.
"Any ghouls?" she asked.
"Then, I'm going to party," she said. "Later mom."
"Be careful Ashley," Helen called, trying not to sound like she was pleading, if only because she knew it was pointless to do so. The younger woman threw her hand up in the air in reply. "Please?" she added.
When she was gone from her sight, she sighed, and across from her, Will had tensed up again.
"No offence, but I hate to think about what sort of people she parties with."
"So do I," Helen said, but with no humour.
They were silent for a little while, facing each other but both looking at the floor. Will was fidgeting a little, and Helen was about to turn back to her streams of information when he spoke again.
"Got anything to drink in this mansion?"
"Plenty." She wasn't much of a drinker, couldn't risk getting caught out even slightly inebriated, and knew Will wasn't either, but enjoyed good wine all the same, and understood the need for it from time to time.
"You'd better show me," he said, "I have more questions and the answers will need some alcohol."
"Such as?" she asked, straightening up and taking a couple of steps towards him, before they walked together across the room.
"Vampires?" he asked. She opened her mouth to speak but he put her hand up to stop her. "No. Alcohol first, the truth about blood sucking creatures of the night second."
She laughed and led him through the large dark building to where she hid the wine from her daughter and her patients.