Meeting of the Minds
Summary: Watson makes Will two different offers presented with similar motives. Watson/Will pre-slash.
Disclaimer: Own nothing, turn no profit.
Author's Note: I don't write a lot of slash. Maybe it's just that Watson was played by Peter Wingfield (anyone who's seen a lot of the Highlander fic out there knows exactly what I mean), but when I watched "Revelations" I picked up some serious Watson/Druitt subtext and some minor Watson/Will. If nothing else, you know that Will would be intrigued by Watson's mind and the possibility of learning the art of observation from him.
Meeting of the Minds
Magnus looked up from her computer as Watson entered the office. "Hello, James. Settling in well? Comfortable in your room?"
"As always," he answered, closing the door and approaching the desk.
"Problem?" she asked, frowning. Closed doors meant private conversations.
He shook his head and sat down across from her. "Not at all. I was simply curious about your new protégé."
"Will?" She smiled. "Every bit as brilliant as I've been telling you he is."
"So I see. He shows extraordinary promise. He'll do great things for the Sanctuary one of these days." He smiled. "I'm almost tempted to try to steal him away from you."
She laughed and shook her head. "Hands off, Jimmy. This one's mine."
He chuckled. "Are you a couple, then?"
She frowned slightly. "James, don't be ridiculous. Will's a child."
"Which has never stopped you in the past," he noted. "In the past two decades alone, you've taken lovers as young as twenty-two. Age has never mattered to you in the past. So what's stopping you now? He obviously has feelings for you."
"It's complicated, James. Let's just leave it at saying that I wouldn't want to be perceived as taking advantage, shall we?"
"If you like." He held up his hands. "Is he seeing anyone?"
"To the best of my knowledge, not since joining the Sanctuary, no."
"Hmm," he answered, looking thoughtful. "And how does he feel about other men?"
"Depends on the man," she answered, shrugging. "As with any of us."
She looked up at his tone of voice. "Oh! James, I wasn't aware you still indulged."
"I typically don't. Not since John, in fact."
She pursed her lips. "Hmm, yes, well…"
"I was never a threat to your place in his heart, Helen. You know that."
"Naturally, or I should have objected to the affair in the strongest terms. It was another time; the rules were different. You could never have had a satisfying relationship with a woman at a time when most women were intellectual infants. You required a deeper connection, some meeting of the minds. It was a logical arrangement under the circumstances."
He frowned curiously. "And you were never jealous?"
"Of course not. John had those urges. A romantic relationship doesn't need to be strictly monogamous to be emotionally satisfying. Better he satisfy his taste for other men with a close friend and in a safe environment. The risk of disease, or worse, would have been unacceptable to me if he had sought out a string of anonymous strangers. Which was really the only other option in those days."
"Pragmatic as always," he answered, smiling and shaking his head. "I've always appreciated that about you."
"Especially where John is concerned, I should imagine," she countered, leering at him.
"Well, yes." He shrugged unapologetically. "I don't believe you've changed at all, Helen. You'd share Will with me even if he were spoken for," he accused.
"Having a physical relationship with an individual does not make them your property. My chief concern would naturally be for Will's happiness and well-being."
"Then you wouldn't object to me approaching him?"
"It would depend entirely on your intentions. I will not have you turning Will into a casual fling when he's so clearly in awe of you."
"I'm not interested in the boy's body, Helen," he answered. Grinning, he added, "Well, not exclusively. As a man who notices everything, it can hardly be lost on me that he is rather well put together."
She laughed but quickly grew serious. "Don't break his heart, James. Just as the one thing I was never able to forgive John for was breaking your heart, I could never forgive you for breaking Will's."
"You really love him, don't you?"
"He's a fine young man. He'll do great things with the Sanctuary."
"That wasn't my question."
She smiled and nodded. "I know. I love him very much, James, but it isn't sexual, even if you're right about how nice he is to look at."
"And this isn't the first time you've noticed that fact, either. I read your report on the incident in the Triangle with great interest."
She shook her head, smile widening. "One more thing likely to preclude his ever taking an active interest in me…"
"Unless he enjoys being tied up. Shall I find out for you?"
"James," she laughed, shaking her head. "You are incorrigible."
"Frequently," he agreed. "As you well know, having now put up with my antics for more than a century and a quarter."
"True. There's something endearing about you. I've yet to put my finger on it, but I imagine it's the reason I keep you around."
"Not my razor-sharp intelligence and deductive wizardry?"
She circled the desk, sitting on the edge of it and leaning towards him. "I have Will for that now. Make him the next James Watson for me and I will grant that request you've been making of me since we lost John all those years ago."
His eyes widened. "You'll marry me if I turn Will Zimmerman into the 21st century's new Sherlock Holmes? A better model than the original, I should think, having observed his baseline potential. My dear Helen, what are your plans for him and how much blood would be involved?"
"I won't say it's never occurred to me," she answered, leaning back. "These are troubling times, James. The Sanctuary needs more like you and Will. Unlike me, you may not be able to cheat death indefinitely. I must have a back-up in place."
"Well, I can hardly argue with the opportunity to train my own eventual successor up in my image. Our relationship could be very… Greek."
Magnus smirked. "And it's right back to sex, James. Try to focus."
"He has tremendous potential already. Injected with the Source Blood…"
Magnus shook her head. "I forbid you from so much as suggesting the idea to him. He knows what the Blood is capable of, for better and for worse. If he makes the decision to take it, it has to be something he comes to on his own. I won't be ethically responsible for ruining his life, not even for the sake of the Sanctuary and its mission."
"A valid enough argument." He nodded. "He won't get the idea from me, although I imagine he'll get there on his own."
"And, if he does, that will be a different matter. I will abide by Will's wishes in the matter but I shall, of course, counsel him against such a course of action in the strongest possible terms."
"Don't forget to show him those brain-scans you took of John, then," he muttered, shaking his head. He regarded her curiously. "You want this from him, Helen. Why fight it?"
"Because, sometimes, I like to pretend that I'm still a human being."
"Ah." He nodded. "I understand. And, I suppose, if I hadn't approached you about Will myself, you would have nudged me in that direction?"
"Your interest in each other was rather obvious. I'll leave it to the two of you to figure out whether that interest is also physical as opposed to purely intellectual. Just… be gentle with him, James. Giving him over into your hands is not a decision I reached lightly. I've spent the better part of a year debating myself as to whether he should be exposed to you ever."
He frowned at her. "And why is that?"
"Because I don't want him ending up like you, mostly."
"I see." He nodded. "Is that to say that you don't want him turning into a heart-broken, burnt-out shell of an old man who only continues to live because he is afraid to die? Or that you don't want him falling in love with Helen Magnus?"
"Either would be tragic."
He closed his eyes, his expression pained. "Then I'll do everything in my power to make sure he never feels for you as I do."
"Thank you, James."
"Well, I should be going," he said after a moment, climbing to his feet.
She smiled and got to her feet as well, taking both of his hands in hers. "I do mean that. Thank you. Take good care of him for me," she requested, pressing her lips to his cheek.
"I'll return him to you in better shape than when you gave him to me," he promised. "But I do require one favor first."
Magnus smiled and shook her head. James Watson and Will Zimmerman. And why not? Really, it solved several problems.
"What favor, Jimmy?"
"You asked to see me?" Will asked from the door of Watson's temporary quarters.
He was still wearing that awed, boyish smile of his. It made him look young, vulnerable. Inviting. Watson could teach such an eager, wide-eyed young man a great deal beyond the physical. As it had always been with John Druitt, that aspect seemed entirely secondary to the intellectual journey that they could take together.
"Come in, William," Watson directed, filling two snifters with brandy. "Close the door, would you?"
"Sure," Will closed the door and entered. "So, uh, what's up?"
"Helen has requested that I take over your instruction myself for the time being," Watson told him, handing him a brandy and nodding towards the couch. "Oh, don't look so alarmed! You're still her favorite protégé ever. She merely thinks exposure to my abilities might prove most instructive to a man of yours."
Will let out a shy chuckle and sat down, nodding. "Well, she's probably got a point there. And, obviously, it would be an honor to learn from you."
He laughed and sat down, conceding the truth of that with a shrug. "Helen believes that, one day, the student may surpass the teacher."
Will made a nervous sound in the back of his throat, shifting and coloring. "Oh, I honestly don't think…" He trailed off when Watson lightly touched his forearm.
"You have great potential, William. You're really a most remarkable young man, and I would be quite pleased to teach you. Assuming you're agreeable?"
Will stared at him, mouth hanging open. "Well, uh, I mean… yeah! Obviously."
Watson smiled. "Splendid. I'll undertake to see to it personally that you don't miss Helen too much while you're in London."
Will grinned. "She's an amazing woman, but you're Sherlock frickin' Holmes! I'll probably temporarily forget Magnus even exists."
"Oh, now that sounds promising. And I'll be sure to help you forget her with any number of… diversions. If it's something you'd be interested in, not all of those diversions need be purely intellectual in nature."
Will frowned blankly for a moment, then tensed just a little. Not defensive, Watson thought, just cautious. Promising.
"Uh, was that an… offer?"
A single nod.
"You're… hitting on me?"
"Does that offend you? I'll be happy to stop. Helen would flay me alive if I tried to impose against your wishes."
"Uh, it's not so much that I'm offended, just… a little confused. I… kind of thought I was getting a vibe off you about Magnus."
"Oh, Helen's a lovely woman, to be sure, and I'd be happy to go to bed with her. But, really, the bond between a man and a woman can never be as powerful as the bond between two men. Especially when those two men are intellectually equal."
"Oh, I get it," Will said, nodding. "This is a Victorian Englishman's take on romantic love and male bonding. Because you can't consider a woman your equal, you can't develop an emotionally satisfying bond with one. You're forced to seek out male companionship to fill that void."
"Well, I wouldn't say forced, but basically, yes. The only woman who even approaches being intelligent enough for me to respect is Helen herself, and she's never loved me in quite that way."
"Which is really just as well for you because Druitt probably would have…" Will trailed off, staring at him with wide eyes.
Watson waited in silence, watching the young man's mind work. It was impressive how fast he got there.
"Oh. My. God. Well, I guess it explains how you can still stand to be in the same room with him, but… does Magnus know?"
"The Five were always very open with each other." He smirked. "In all things."
"And it didn't bother her?"
"Helen is remarkably liberal in sexual matters, William. Does that surprise you?" He smiled. "Or did you, perhaps, begin to suspect as much in that submarine? Or during the Nubbin incursion?"
Will colored and looked away.
"She is both beautiful and remarkable, William," Watson told him, resting a hand on his shoulder. "But, unlike most women, she's not made for any man. Try to forget her. It could never be…"
"Under the circumstances, that could be considered pretty self-serving advice," Will pointed out.
Watson laughed and conceded this with a nod. "Perhaps so, but it's true, nonetheless. Helen has a very casual attitude towards her lovers and she expects them to return the favor. There's no permanency to it, not even any real bond beyond the physical."
"Oh," Will answered, looking disappointed.
"You'll find that I offer a far different experience. We could learn so much from each other, William."
"Look, I'm not saying that I'm not considering it, 'cause I kind of am. But, if I said yes, how do you know that I'm not just some crazed fanboy intellect-groupie?"
Watson laughed. "Which is more admirable? An attraction based purely on the physical or one based solely on the psychological? Besides, true groupies seldom stop to point out that they are groupies."
"I take it you've met enough of them to know?"
"Naturally. But that was mere sex. With you, it would be different. I could teach you a great deal."
He considered this in silence for along moment, then asked, "You're saying you want to be my erastes?"
Watson smiled, delighted. The boy had studied his Classics! "I'd like that very much, yes. I'll teach you regardless, of course, out of respect to Helen, and I could hardly hold it against you if you declined. But I think we have great potential beyond the academic."
"Wow," Will whispered, shaking his head. "Sherlock Holmes is hitting on me…"
"Is that a bad thing?"
"Not sure. Don't think so."
"Good." Watson lifted his hand to cup Will's cheek, prompting the young man to freeze but not pull away. His expression was strained but not resistant. "First time?" Watson ventured.
Will shook his head. "There have been a few people."
"But no men?"
He closed his eyes. "No."
"Is this in opposition to your natural inclinations?"
"Uh… Don't know. Never really thought about it before."
"Should I stop, William?"
"I don't know," he whispered.
"William, look at me," Watson directed gently.
Will opened his eyes and stared into Watson's eyes, swallowing hard.
"They're good things you're feeling, yes?"
"Yeah," Will whispered, giving a shaky nod.
"Then tell me how this is wrong," he suggested.
"It's not wrong," he answered. "It's strange as all hell, but it feels right."
"Good," Watson answered, smiling reassuringly. He had never been with an inexperienced male. A fair number of female virgins, but no men who didn't know what they were doing. Druitt had been not only inventive, but well-experienced. "Is this what you want?" he asked Will.
"Yeah. Not sure how I feel about that, but yeah, I want this. I kind of don't mind this at all."
"Good." Watson smiled and sidled closer, taking the brandy-snifter from his hand. "You haven't touched your drink," he noted, placing the glass on the coffee-table.
"I can't do sex drunk. It's just… not good."
Moving closer still, Watson placed a friendly arm around his shoulder. "How is it 'not good', William?"
"I… start crying and it's just kind of ugly." He shook his head. "Doesn't matter."
"Does alcohol in general make you feel depressed?"
"Yeah." Will shrugged. "I think it's the Post-Traumatic Stress."
"From when your mother was killed?"
"Your inhibitions go down and those memories come flooding back?"
Will turned his head to stare at Watson. "Are you doing this for a reason?"
"I like to understand a man before I take him to bed."
"You've read Magnus' reports. You know about me."
"Through her eyes when it's yours I am currently gazing into."
"I don't talk about my childhood, not to anyone. Period. I won't change that even to get into bed with Sherlock Holmes."
"Don't call me that. My name is James Watson."
"The past obviously still haunts you. This is something we should discuss in detail at the next convenient time. Given your profession, I'm sure you acknowledge the validity of such a suggestion."
Will's answer seemed a non-answer, but Watson knew better. "If we get involved, is that going to involve one bed or two?"
"Very bad nightmares, then?"
"Yes. Women have left just because they couldn't handle that one aspect."
Watson sighed at the slightly pained admission. "Have you ever considered therapy?"
"Did it for twenty years, actually. I'm sure it did help, I'm just not sure if I ever noticed any difference."
"Well, we'll find the appropriate footing for you," Watson promised. "Much of mental health seems to involve settling into a position in the world that the patient is comfortable with. We'll find one for you."
Will smiled weakly at him. "This really isn't just a booty-call for you, is it?"
Watson's own smile was wider, more amused. "There are, perhaps, a half-dozen individuals in the world whom Helen has explicitly forbade me from having casual sex with. Along with Ashley and Henry, you are on that list."
Will's eyes widened. "Have you…"
Watson laughed and shook his head. "Ashley is equal parts niece and daughter to me, and Henry not much different. I assure you, I am prodigal with my sexual favors, but by no means indiscriminate."
"Fair enough," Will agreed. "But I'll still need a clean STD test."
"How fortunate, then, that I thought to have Helen test me this very afternoon," he answered, climbing to his feet and going to retrieve the results of the blood-work.
Will stared after him, eyes wide. "So this is pretty much premeditated on your part?"
"Well, I certainly wouldn't have approached you without Helen's express permission. It's hardly my place to interfere with her personnel without her authorization," he answered, bringing the readout back to the couch and handing it to Will.
"The Five think of everything, don't you?"
Watson smiled and inclined his head, but admitted, "It's an only sensible precaution. Have you been tested recently?"
"Yeah, clean as of about three months ago and haven't been with anyone since. I don't have a hard-copy of the report, but I can get on the computer and retrieve the results for you."
"I trust your word. Helen assures me that you're an honest man. I would imagine that extends to your love-life. But, tell me, do you require an STD report from all lovers, or only from the male ones?"
Will shook his head. "Full mutual disclosure's the only way to go. Among other things, having to stop and take time to go get the test and wait for the results gives you time to think about whether it's something serious. If you can't go through the trouble to get the test and wait for the results, the relationship probably shouldn't be happening anyway."
"What a remarkably pragmatic view on love," Watson chuckled.
He shrugged. "I honestly don't have a lot of luck with my love-life. But I think it would be a lot worse if I didn't stop to think about these things."
"Quite possibly," Watson agreed. "I approve. And, quite obviously, share your views on the issue of disclosure or I wouldn't have bothered to have Helen test me."
He smiled and laid the sheet of paper down on the coffee-table. "So, how does this work?"
Watson sat down again, close enough that their legs touched. "How would you like it to work? We can be spontaneous or deliberate. Whichever is more comfortable for you."
"I'm honestly feeling a little nervous," Will told him.
"I had noticed. You're shaking. And displaying some rather defensive body-language in spite of the understanding we appear to have reached."
"I can't be the initiating partner right now; I'm honestly just too freaked out…"
"Fair enough," Watson agreed. "Would you have me be aggressive or gentle?"
"Uh…" Will swallowed hard and cleared his throat. "I don't know. Things have always been pretty mutual before for me."
"He doesn't know whether he prefers to be treated roughly or tenderly?" Watson mused. "Well, won't this be interesting?"
His question was answered by a nervous grin. Too nervous.
Watson reached up to touch the boy's face, lightly tracing the lines of his cheek and jaw with one fingertip, then his lips. Slowly, Will relaxed under the attention, eyes drifting shut.
"You're doing fine," he assured him, resting the other hand on his knee. "It's always a little awkward at first, but that passes so quickly."
"Yeah," he agreed in a shaky voice.
"Do you want me to teach you this?"
"I'm glad." He leaned forward and caught Will's lips for a kiss. It was clumsy, awkward. Shaking his head, he pulled back. "No, William," he sighed, shaking his head. "Don't try to be the woman in this. Just kiss as you normally would. You'll find that what starts as a battle for dominance quickly becomes something else entirely."
Will looked like a man who had just been hit low. "That's pretty much how I always kiss. Granted, I'm a little out of practice, but…"
Watson sighed. "You have to be willing to try to control the situation. This is, of course, strictly mutual, but it's mutual pleasure. Worry more about what feels right for you than what pleases your partner."
Will shook his head. "I can't do that. I don't enjoy a physical encounter unless I know that my partner is, too."
Watson considered this for a moment, then caught Will by the front of his shirt and drew him close. "Then make it thorough. I know you can at least do that."
Will hesitated for a moment, then leaned closer and kissed the older man. It was definitely thorough. Watson thought he could get used to having a lover who seemed as concerned with the pleasure of his partner as with his own enjoyment. Not bad for a complete noob, either. When Will broke away, they were both panting.
Watson laughed in delight. "Oh, very well done, William!"
Will gave a shaky laugh of his own, leaning back and shaking his head. He looked dazed. "Damn. That was… different."
"Different but, I take it, still rather enjoyable?"
"Oh, yeah. And knowing who, what you are…"
Watson's smile widened. "Intellect as an aphrodisiac, William?"
"Pretty much," Will agreed sheepishly, coloring yet again. "God, I am an intellect-groupie…"
Watson rested his hand on Will's thigh this time, making a point of letting his fingertips brush the sensitive inner leg. Will's breathing quickened and his pupils dilated. His expression was nervous, but by no means unwilling. Well, Magnus had always claimed that her young protégé was open to all manner of new experiences.
"I think we can make this work, William."
"I'm pretty sure I'd like to try."
"Splendid." He smiled. "We'll take things slowly, naturally. Once this nonsense with the Cabal is all handled, you'll transfer to the UK Sanctuary and we can begin your training. I assume you'll be more comfortable with your own bedroom to start?"
Will's eyes widened. "Um…"
"It's a sensible precaution against professional jealousies." He smiled at Will. "On the other hand, it might be worth some teasing for both of us if you were to share my room?"
"Did I mention the nightmares?"
"What makes you think I wouldn't want to be right there to soothe you after them?"
Watson smiled. "There's still time to decide. But think on it."
"Um… I will." He smiled weakly.
"What's troubling you now, William?"
"Nothing, just thinking how much I'll miss Magnus if I move to London."
"Put her out of your mind, William," Watson advised, leaning close and grasping his shoulder. "She'll still be available professionally and, I should imagine, personally for you. In the age of Cyberspace, is geographical separation really such an impediment to friendship?"
"No, but it won't be the same."
"My earlier promise to help you forget her by any means necessary stands."
Will grinned. "I'll just bet it does."
He laughed. "I would offer to help you start down the road to forgetfulness tonight, but I imagine you need time to think about all of this." His smile widened at the look on Will's face. "I suppose you expected me to ravish you like some rustic virgin under the attentions of Jupiter himself? Come now. That's hardly my style. Time is something we both have in abundance. There's hardly any need to rush."
Then it was Watson in Will's arms as the younger man breathlessly admitted, "Maybe rushing wouldn't be such a bad thing…"
Watson smiled and kissed him tenderly before pointing out, "A great deal still lies before us, for tomorrow and beyond. I assure you, I'll help you experience all of it. But in your own time and on your own terms. Go to bed, William. Come to me again tomorrow night, when we actually have something to celebrate."
"And from there?"
"Oh, once I've initiated you, nothing will have changed." He smiled and amended, "Except where you spend your nights."
"I think that's a life-change I could get used to."
"I imagine you could. After all, as numerous modern analysts claim, the human brain is the ultimate sex-organ. Between the two of us, being so utterly over-endowed…"
Will chuckled and picked up his untouched brandy, draining it in a single go. Then doing the same to Watson's.
"Watch yourself, William," he warned. "You'll need a clear head come morning. One more reason not to indulge in any vice tonight."
Will stared. "Is it a vice? Do you really think so?"
"Well, the idea that homosexuality is a vice is what I was always raised to believe. But I never felt quite as comfortable as when I was in the company of a close male friend, either."
"Did you love him? Druitt?"
"I'm afraid I still do. I cannot, nor would I, refrain from loving one I had once loved. But, physically, nothing more can pass between us. Too much has changed, too many insults have been given, too many trusts betrayed. I will never become involved with him again, but I will always love him. Do these facts stand between us?"
Will shook his head. "It makes me hurt for you, especially having seen how you are with him even after that betrayal, but, beyond that…" Another shake of the head.
"Thank you for understanding."
"If you ever want to talk about it…"
Watson sighed softly. "I very much imagine I will at some point. But not to you if that might come between us."
"It won't. I seriously doubt there's anything you could tell me that would be worse than what I've heard from some of my previous patients. And some of my previous girlfriends." A weak smile.
"Thank you, William." He took his hand.
"You know, everyone calls me Will."
"I do. Which makes 'William' rather an endearment than otherwise. A name just between the two of us, hmm?"
Will grinned. And blushed slightly.
"Now that is a response I could get used to provoking in you."
"I'm sure you'll have plenty of opportunity…"
Watson leaned over and clapped him on the back. "Good man, William!"
"You know, it's kind of weird how fast you get used to same-sex flirting."
"It's only natural. Did not both Freud and Kinsey present research suggesting that all humans are inherently bisexual? Do you not see it even in other higher-order primates?"
"Yeah, but I'm not a monkey or a statistic. Seriously, this is not an inclination that I've ever experienced in the past."
"Well, now, that only means you've never known the right man before. I consider myself lucky that you've waited for me. Have I mentioned how much I can teach you?"
"Yes, in both an innocuous professional and an innuendo-laden personal way," Will answered, grinning.
"Good man," Watson repeated, smiling and climbing to his feet. "Off with you now, before my desire gets the better of my common sense."
Will allowed Watson to help him to his feet but asked, "You really sure you want me to go?"
"If I have my way with you tonight, neither of us will be fit for a thing tomorrow. Which is hardly desirable under the circumstances. When the Source Blood is retrieved and Helen has a cure ready, then we may explore each other in good conscience. I assure you, it will be worth the wait."
"I believe you," Will whispered.
"Then, one more kiss and to bed with you. Dream of me and wonder," he drawled.
"Oh, I'll be wondering, all right!"
Watson laughed and drew Will close for a final kiss. When they separated, he repeated, "Good man, William."
Will smiled. "Good man, Watson."
"Sweet dreams," Watson answered, grinning. "Off with you now, before instinct overtakes common sense!" He made shooing motion with both hands and Will fled the room laughing.
Watson found himself laughing freely as he got ready for bed. It was not just the prospect of what would be some very pleasant interactions with young William. It was the very idea of Magnus giving her most promising pupil ever into his hands to teach and train. Will was an amazing boy with tremendous potential. Watson had no doubt that, in the teaching as with the physical relationship, the pleasure was going to be all his…
Will staggered back to his bedroom feeling a little turned on and a lot dazed. Sherlock Holmes wanted him for a lover. Wow! His affection for and, as long as he was being honest with himself, his crush on, Magnus aside, that was just amazing beyond words. The smartest guy in the history of history wanted to remake Will in his own image.
In more ways than one…
He turned a corner and nearly bowled into Henry and Ashley. Which would not even have registered with him tonight, except for the fact that Henry had his arms looped around Ashley's waist and they were leaning together with their foreheads touching and Ashley was murmuring, "It's going to be okay. We're going to be okay."
Which, while not entirely unexpected or surprising, was not a pose that many were ever likely to actually catch them in. If they were involved, they kept it a lot more private than embracing in public hallways.
They jerked apart as quickly as if burned, Henry's expression alarmed and embarrassed and Ashley's just plain defensive.
"We're going on a mission tomorrow!" she was quick to explain. "We were just discussing the details."
"I'm sure you were," Will agreed, nodding. And, presumably, grinning like an idiot.
"You okay, man?" Henry asked, frowning at him. "You look a little out of it."
"Uh… I just reached a sexual understanding with Sherlock Holmes."
Ashley laughed and smacked Henry on the arm. "Told you James was bi!"
Henry held up both hands. "Okay, okay, I owe you dinner. Lay off the arms. I may need them tomorrow."
Ashley turned her attention from Henry to Will. "Is it going to last?"
She smiled and shook her head. "Come on, Will. You and Uncle James? Was it a one-time thing, or…"
"No, he seems to want to make it pretty much permanent," he admitted. "And I want to let him."
Her smile widened and she threw her arms around Will. "Guess that makes you my honorary Uncle now, huh? He's a real sweetheart, Will. I'm sure he'll make you happy."
"Man," Henry muttered, looking like he really did not know what to think.
"We have a lot to learn from each other," Will ventured. Which made Ashley grin and Henry turn red.
"You'll be fine with him," Ashley assured Will, kissing his cheek. "Just remember, his favorite flower is heather, his favorite day of the week is Tuesday, his favorite snack is chocolate-covered cherries, and his favorite abnormal is the human psychokinetic."
Will grinned. "Thanks for the advice. I take it this means you approve?"
"If it makes two of my three favorite guys happy, I approve," she answered, giving Will another kiss on the cheek, then catching Henry by the arm and leading him off. "Night, Will!" she called over her shoulder.
"Night, Ashley! Night, Henry!" he called after them, smiling and shaking his head.
And, since Magnus apparently approved as well, which would have been more than half the battle anyways…
Chuckling to himself, he headed for his bedroom, for a night of preparing for a pivotal struggle and, alternately, wondering what would come after said struggle. It would be interesting, he had no doubt.
Watson was, without a doubt, the most amazing man he had ever met of ever imagined meeting. He looked forward to seeing what the older man could teach him.
In every important respect.