Summary: Will is more than just a passive observer in the world of abnormals. The Cabal wants him (again) and, while Magnus knows she should have seen this coming, she's not about to take it lying down.
Author's Note: Okay, I started this fic more than a week before Will was actually kidnapped by the Cabal in the series. My friend Kameka says it's a function of great minds thinking alike (it was her plot bunny in the first place, lol). All I know for sure is that I had to go back and rewrite seven chapters to not conflict with "Warriors". Enjoy.
Timeline: After "Warriors" but I would say before "Instinct".
"Oh, good evening, Will," Magnus greeted him as he entered her office. Her desk was piled high with ancient-looking books, one of which she was reading when he came in. She shut it and smiled up at him. "You're up rather late, aren't you?"
"I could ask you the same thing," he answered, grinning.
She smiled back. "So you could, if you felt like being cheeky. Did you need something, Will?"
"Just got an email from Kelly Simonson." He handed her a printout of the message.
"The pyrokinetic? How is she?"
"Reintegrating really well. She hasn't had a spontaneous expression incident since she left the Sanctuary. I thought you'd want to know."
"Well, that's the best possible news we could have from her. I can see the biofeedback and relaxation techniques you went over with her are working. Very well done, Will." She smiled. "Congratulations."
"I could get used to this, treating patients who actually have a normal, free life ahead of them."
"It must make a wonderful change over working with killers. Sit down, Will. This calls for celebration. I've been saving a bottle of wine for just such an occasion."
"Oh, that really isn't necessary," he assured her.
"Don't be foolish, Will. I do my best to recognize the accomplishments of my associates." She patted his shoulder and left the office. "I'll be right back."
Will shrugged and walked over to her desk, picking up one of the books and sitting down, leafing through it to kill time until her return. He was a little surprised to find that it was not one of her typical scientific treatises.
"The Arabian Nights?" he asked when she returned.
"I'm reviewing all of Richard Burton's work, translations as well as original work. The ethnologist, not the actor," she clarified.
"I kind of figured that. Old college chum?"
Magnus shook her head, her expression tolerant. "We met in passing a time or two before his death. He was a man ahead of his time." She returned to the desk, carrying two glasses and a bottle.
"Ah," he answered as she put down the wineglasses and started on the cork.
He leaned around her and picked up another volume, only to hastily put it down. Burton's translation of the Kama Sutra. He tried to pretend that his face was not bright red over having found that particular volume on his boss' desk. Especially not since the words "To the ever-intrepid Helen" had been inscribed on the cover. Whoa…
"Have you read his work in any detail?" she asked, filling glasses. There was something subtly off in her tone, but he could not quite place it and he was unwilling to challenge her over something so minor. A line had probably been crossed when he picked up the sex manual.
"Uh… I'm only up to the mid-As in the library."
"I see." She handed him a glass.
"You okay, Magnus?"
"Trying to profile me again, Will?" she asked, perching on the edge of the desk and taking a thoughtful sip from her own glass.
"Hey, I've learned my lesson about trying to analyze the Magnus girls," he assured her with a grin. "This is good wine."
"It should be. I've had it laid by longer than you've been alive." She leaned forward and tapped the rim of her glass against his. "However, you're worth it."
"Whoa, so… you're saying that bottle is probably worth more than I make in a month?"
"Probably. However, that's one of the few advantages of living as long as I do. The wine was dirt-cheap when I purchased it."
He smiled in response to her laughter, feeling content. Home, family. Things he had been missing for a lot of years. Helen Magnus had given him all that back again and he loved her for it.
"Are you happy here, Will?" she asked, regarding him thoughtfully.
"What? Of course I am!"
"Good." She nodded. "I'm glad."
"Any particular reason for asking?" he wanted to know.
"You're analyzing again."
"No, just curious."
"Hmm." She shrugged. "I want you to be happy here, Will. I would naturally be worried if you weren't. After all, I introduced you to this world, this life."
"Funny, thought that was the monster that killed my mother when I was a kid."
"Be serious, Will," she suggested.
"A lot of people don't adapt to these truths very well. I'm just happy that you're of the other type. It's better for everyone that way."
"I think I'm settling in pretty well. Don't you?"
"You're doing an outstanding job," she assured him. "I'm proud of you, more than I can say. I just… wondered if you felt there was anything you needed to discuss with me."
"Not as far as I know," he answered. "Why? Do you think there's something we need to talk about?"
"I'm sure if there was, you'd be the first to know," she told him, refilling his glass. "Just know that, should you ever need to talk, my door is always open."
"Well, I appreciate that, Helen." He smiled up at her. "Everything okay? You seem… preoccupied."
She smiled down at him, draining her glass and setting it down on her desk. "I usually am. Over something."
"Well, that offer goes both ways," he assured her. "You ever need to talk, I'm there for you twenty-four, seven."
"That's much-appreciated, Will. I'll be sure to take you up on that, should I ever need to."
It felt like a brush-off, so he told her, "Even the boss needs someone to talk to sometimes. It kind of helps if that someone knows roughly what you're going through."
"True. If I were to see a typical psychiatrist, he'd probably section me before I knew what was happening. You, on the other hand, have already displayed great patience with me at even my most psychotic."
Will gave a nervous chuckle. He really did not want to think about what it felt like to be tied to a chair, trying to talk Magnus down while she veered wildly between the desires to kiss him and to kill him. It was just too freaky.
As if reading his mind, "I would like to apologize again for that. My behavior was unforgivable."
"Yeah, but brain parasites forgive a lot of things," he pointed out.
"So they do," she agreed quietly. "You're a forgiving man, Will." She leaned forward and grasped his shoulder. "It's comforting knowing that, no matter what I do, I'll always have your forgiveness."
"Do you need it?"
"I sometimes wonder."
"We do need to talk, don't we?" he asked. "There's something going on."
"No, not right now. I'm just thinking about the future and what it might hold."
"Nothing that Doctor Helen Magnus can't handle."
She smiled sadly. "And Doctor William Zimmerman?"
He frowned. "What's this about, Magnus? You have a case you don't think I'm going to be able to handle?"
"You expecting to?"
"It seems likely," she admitted.
Will considered this, climbing to his feet and refilling her glass. He pressed it into her hands, watching her carefully as he spoke.
"I'm not going to back down, not from any challenge you say I'm capable of facing. I trust you, Helen, I do. Nothing's going to change that."
"I hope not." She took a small sip from her glass, then put it down again. "Forgive me, Will. I promised a patient I would meet with him this evening. I'll see you tomorrow. Good night."
"Night, Helen. You know where to find me if you need to talk."
"Enjoy the rest of the wine," she suggested as she left the office. "It doesn't keep once the bottle's been opened."
Will stood alone in the office, frowning after her. Something was up, that much was obvious. What, though?
He leaned across the desk and retrieved the book Magnus had closed on his arrival. Perhaps something she had seen there had troubled her. Burton, Mecca, her father's disappearance. Related? It was entirely possible. Or perhaps it was not related and she was simply still upset over his reintroduction and then abrupt retreat from her life. It might be something much more personal, too. She always seemed so in-control, but she did have a personal life and, presumably, personal troubles as well.
He sat down and started skimming it for references to immortality or longevity, although there were numerous references to individuals with enhanced senses. Hours later, he had found nothing remotely close to anything Magnus had admitted to experiencing. Sighing and not wanting her to find him still in her office, going through her things, he headed towards his room.
He stopped on his way there, switching direction and heading for Ashley's room instead. He glanced at his watch and decided to take the chance before knocking.
"Come on, Mom, you can't have a job for me at this h-- Will?" Ashley stood in the doorway in a pair of sweatpants and a sleeveless tee, looking a little confused by his presence. "Everything okay?"
"Yeah, but can we talk for a minute?"
"Uh… Sure? Come on in." She stepped back to allow him access. "What's going on?"
"I'm worried about your mother."
"Yeah? I thought it was just me." She sat down, frowning up at him. "Something's obviously bothering her, but she denies anything's wrong. Ideas?"
"Not really. She was kind of evasive. But I found her in her office tonight with every book Sir Richard Francis Burton ever wrote or translated. That mean anything to you?"
"Erm, he wrote a little about abnormals as they existed in tribal societies. Shamans and things, mostly, I think. You don't think Mom plans on sending us up against a witch-doctor or anything?" she looked uneasy with the idea. "They're just nasty."
"I'm sure it's nothing like that. Look, I'm sorry to bug you. I'll let you get to sleep. Night, Ashley."
"Night, Will. Let me know if you figure out what's up with Mom. And I'll keep my eyes and ears open, too, and let you know what I find out."
"Good deal. Night." He nodded to her and left the bedroom. "Okay, well, that told you nothing useful," he muttered to himself, heading for his own room.