Chapter 14

When Magnus entered Will's bedroom three days after his rescue, the first thing she noticed was the gun pointed at her chest. Well, it would have been hard to miss. And poor Will's hands were shaking so hard. She stopped in her tracks, carefully holding her hands away from her body.

"It's okay, Will. It's only me."

"Sorry." He put the gun down, twitching a few times as he did so. "Thought you must be Cabal…"

"Here in the Sanctuary?" She sighed and approached him. "Your paranoia is a function of withdrawal. If you'll just allow me to increase your thorazine dose back to it's previous level, we can ease you off more gradually…"

"No! No drugs than I need to stay healthy." He shook his head. "Can't be like that again. Won't be."

"Fair enough. What about an anxiolytic?"

He shook his head again, more violently this time. "No more drugs. I can't. Helen, please don't make me?" he pled, tears in his eyes.

She bit her lower lip at the pain in his voice, poor man. "No, Will. Of course not. I didn't mean to upset you; I just wanted to see how you're holding up."

"I've been better." He let out a hysterical little laugh that made her heart ache for him. "But I'm me again. I think."

"Of course you are, Will," she agreed, walking over to the bed where he sat. "I know this is difficult for you."

"You must think I'm some kind of…"

"No, Will. Of course I don't. What's happening to you now is a purely physical reaction to the removal of thorazine from your system. And I know it's uncomfortable for you, and probably embarrassing as well, but it's nothing I haven't seen before."

He stared up at her, his expression shocked. Horrified, she imagined, to think she could employ the same tactics as the Cabal.

"You must remember how long I've been in practice. And, before anything better came along, thorazine was the most efficacious medication we had for the relief of severe anxiety, agitation, and psychosis. I've seen people on this drug, and I've seen people trying to come down off of it. And you're doing fine, Will. I've witnessed far more adverse withdrawal than yours."

He closed his eyes, nodding weakly.

"It's late. You should try to sleep. Would you like a sedative?"

He shook his head.

"No, no, of course not. I'm sorry. But should you require anything, no matter what the hour…" She turned towards the door.

A whisper met her ears. "Stay."

She froze with her hand on the doorknob. "Will?"

"You chase away the monsters. You have since I was a kid…"

In the past hundred or more years, she had made a conscientious effort to harden her heart. It still melted at his plea, the pain in his voice so like that she had heard from his as a frightened and bereft child.

Without turning: "You poor man."

"Right now," he told her, his voice shaking, "I am not myself because of the withdrawal. I know that. I could probably even handle it if that's all there was to it. But I think I've got post-traumatic stress over this whole nightmare, and I don't think I'm going to be able to handle that. Not alone."

"No, of course not," she agreed, walking back to the bed and sitting down next to him. "My own training in psychology is rather wanting, but I'll do what I can to help you. Between the two of us, we'll be able to figure something out to help you through this."

"We can start with Inderal. It shows decent efficacy for PTSD."

"The beta-blocker? I'll get you some now."

"No." He caught her hand before she could climb to her feet. "Please, just stay."

"Of course, Will. If that's what you need," she agreed, awkwardly looping an arm around his shoulders. "I'm here for you. Considering that this is my fault…"

"None of it's your fault. But I still don't understand why you didn't just tell me I was an abnormal."

"By the time I realized, I assumed you must have known. How can an abnormal grow up and not know that he's abnormal? I thought that the fact that you never mentioned anything to me was a function of… some sort of fear or… lack of trust."

He stared up at her with red, puffy eyes. Wide, anxious eyes, still as gentle and open as he always was, but also skeptical.

"I had no way of knowing otherwise. I blamed some deficit in myself for your lack of openness. I could hardly believe that you might be completely open with me and simply unaware that there was anything worth sharing. I am sorry."

"So am I," he answered, staring bleakly into the open space before him. "I always knew I was different. I just never thought…" His whole body shuddered and he drew in a broken breath. "Sorry," he managed, half-choking on the word.

"If anyone should be apologizing, Will, it isn't you," she answered, lifting her other arm and wrapping it around him, turning slightly and drawing his close.

Will let out a sob and wrapped his arms around her, weeping into her shoulder. Magnus sighed and cradled him close, exactly as she would have done for Ashley or even Henry, should either be this upset. He clung to her, his whole body shaking, and she just patted his back and rocked slightly, doing her best to focus on projecting soothing thoughts to the poor man.

She did not tell him not to cry, knowing that this was something he needed, physically as well as psychologically. The value of a powerful catharsis was not to be underestimated. It was why upset children felt better after a good cry, why Ashley always felt better after an intense monster-hunt. If he exhausted himself in this, he would be able to sleep deeply afterwards, quite possibly for the first time since his rescue.

Very slowly, she felt the body clinging to her begin to relax, and so she allowed her mind to relax as well. He would be fine. He was stronger than most, certainly stronger than he knew. And, having the Sanctuary staff there for him every step of the way…

"Ready for bed?" she offered.

He shook his head, not lifting it from her shoulder, and let out a whimper of protest.

"There, now, Will," she murmured sternly. "You must rest."

"I will. Just not now."

Magnus frowned at this. She knew for a fact that he had not gotten any sleep the night before, because Henry had shown her security footage of the young psychiatrist walking the halls of the Sanctuary all night long.

Poor Henry desperately wanted to help his friend, but was afraid of making things worse trying to help. So he had gone to Magnus, told her that he knew that she of all people could make it right. Ashley had voiced a similar sentiment, which put no small amount of pressure on her. But it was mostly her own desire to make things right that allowed her to persist.

"Will, I'm afraid I must insist."

He lifted his head enough to look her in the eyes without surrendering any of his body's proximity to hers.

"I can't be alone," he confessed, looking mortified by the admission.

"Then you shan't be."

His eyes widened and he tensed, pulling away.

"Now, Will," she chastised, reaching out and touching his cheek lightly with one hand. He closed his eyes and leaned into the contact, a man desperate for reassurance, psychological or physical. "You know me better than that. But, as I would with Ashley or Henry, I will stay here tonight with you for as long as you need me. You've been through an intensely traumatic experience and I won't leave you alone with those memories if that isn't what you want."

He shook his head, pulling away from her and jumping to his feet, pacing the length of the bedroom. "I don't know what I want any more!"

"No, I imagine you don't," she agreed.

She beckoned with a hand-gesture and he moved to sit on the bed again, looking frankly confused as to why he was doing what he was. When he was next to her once more, she slid an arm around his shoulder, smiling and radiating thoughts of peace.

"Just you relax," she directed.

"For some reason, I can't seem to do anything else," he admitted sheepishly. "I don't know what it is about you."

She chuckled softly. "Surely you didn't think that longevity was the only ability I gained from my experiment?"

He tensed, but only for a moment. Before long, he was leaning into her shoulder and breathing deep and slow, obviously fully aware of what he was doing and still drinking deeply.

"That's better," she murmured. "You don't have to be afraid, Will, not of me. What I'm about to tell you is something I've never told anyone, not even John although he probably suspected as much. There are gifts that vampires possess beyond the obvious and the flashy and the incredible. One is simply this: when it comes to emotions, they see and they understand and they react accordingly."

"What, like empathy?"

"Almost precisely, although the perception is sensory rather than supernatural and the influence exerted pheromonal rather than hypnotic. But this has been my gift to many of my more fearful patients. Simple peace, at least for the time being. Accept it now as my apology."

Will threw his arms around her, burying his face in her shoulder again. Magnus sighed and held him close until he relaxed once more. Her presence was just one more drug, a way to forestall rather than prevent the inevitable aftermath of his imprisonment. But it was better than letting his suffer. He deserved at least one night of peace.

Ultimately, he let her maneuver him down into bed, eyes shut although he still gave the occasional shudder as a fresh wave of emotion tore over him.

"There now, Will. Just you rest," she urged, pulling his quilts up and tucking him in. "I'll be right here."

"You don't have to stay. I'll be fine."

"Hush," she whispered, bending down and pressing her lips to his forehead. "Rest, Will."

"Thank you," he whispered, smiling weakly up at her.

"Rest," she repeated, rising and drawing a chair close to the bed. She settled down in it and offered him her hand, smiling when he grasped it. "It won't be easy, Will, but you'll get through it. We're here to help you."

"I know. And I appreciate it."

"Get some sleep, Will. We'll talk in the morning. Things will make a lot more sense in the light of day."

"I tell my own patients that a lot. Wonder if it's true?" he added plaintively.

"Well, if you go to sleep now, you'll find out in good time."

He smiled weakly. "Thanks, Magnus. For everything."

"I only did what any friend would have done under the same circumstances."

"No, you didn't. You've been my guardian angel since I was a kid. So thanks."

She smiled and nodded. "My pleasure, Will. I knew then that you'd grow up to be something special. Glad I was right. Now sleep."

"Yes, ma'am." Yawning, he closed his eyes, but his hand retained a tight hold on hers.

When his grip loosened, indicating sleep, she freed her own hand, resting his carefully on his chest, and sat back to guard him in his sleep. He was right. When he was a boy, right through to the present day, she was always there to chase off the monsters.

The End