He was asleep, finally, only an hour from port but it was something. His book had dropped onto his chest and she pulled it from his hands, pulled his glasses from his face and placed both of them out of the way on the top bunk. He snuffled at the changes, letting out a snore before settling down again.
She had to agree with her daughter's assessment that Will was cute, though it wasn't quite the word she would use. She wasn't sure what word she would use, all she could really think about right now what that he was alive. Had the parasites succeeded, and she had killed him, she would've died herself shortly afterwards, but this didn't give her much comfort from what she had done to him, what she had almost done to him.
She had almost lost him in losing herself.
Will was one of the few people she was sure would outlive her, could outlive her. It was a feeling she'd had while watching him over the years, and losing him, she realised, wasn't just a blow for the Sanctuary, but for her too. It had been so long since she'd allowed herself to feel anything beyond the basic for anyone outside of the immediate circle she had now, she wasn't sure how it was supposed to work.
Except she was not going to deny the desire to crouch down and stroke his head, run her fingers through his hair.
It was dry now, so was hers, it had been slow going once they'd gotten the sub moving again. Dry and soft, and she let her fingers run from the back of his neck to his forehead and he shifted his head, giving her better access without even realising it.
She wanted more. To be more than this young man's mentor, and his history lesson, but there was so much uncertainty. She was rarely uncertain. She couldn't afford to be in this line of work, hesitation came with a high cost.
"Helen," he mumbled. She smiled.
Adorable, she thought, was a little more fitting that cute, but for her vocabulary rather than an accurate description of him.
He opened him eyes and she pulled her hand away feeling guilty. Just because she wanted more gave her no right to grope him as he slept.
"Sorry," she said, moving to stand.
"Are you okay?" he asked, reaching out and grabbing her wrist.
"I'm not-" she paused. "I lost control."
"We talked about this Magnus."
"I can't explain it."
"You feel guilty," Will said yawning and shifting to sit up a little in the bunk.
"Yes, but I can understand that."
"Than what's wrong."
"Helen?" He rubbed her wrist gently with his thumb.
"I feel love."
"It's been some time."
"For you," she interrupted. He was blushing and that was adorable and she smiled at him. "I should have kept that to myself."
"No!" he said, jumping a little and pulling her towards him. "No." He shifted across in the little bunk and patted the small space beside him. "Lie down."
"Excuse me?" she said, with a raised eyebrow.
"We've been through hell over the past few hours Helen, I'm going to sleep and we can talk about this when we get home."
"You believe it's because of the trauma we've experienced?" she asked with a sigh.
"No. I believe I feel something too, but would like to be able to talk about it without yawning. And I'd like to do it somewhere better than this sardine can."
She laughed and climbed into the bunk next to him, lying half on the thin mattress, half on Will, the touch screen on his lap so she could keep an eye on the readings during the end of their journey. She settled down, one hand up between them so she could stroke his hair and realised it had been even longer since she had done something like this with anyone. That probably said everything that needed to be said.