Summary: Some losses break your heart. Others shatter it.
Characters: Will Zimmerman, Helen Magnus
Spoilers: through "Revelations, Part 2"
Genre: hurt/comfort, friendship, family, angst
He'd gotten Druitt and, finally, Henry to agree to get some sleep which meant that the hard part was next, finding and comforting the woman who had always been his comfort. She was, not unsurprisingly, on the roof watching the city she protected, a city that didn't even know she existed. Also not surprising was the anguish writ across her features. Not even the tears were surprising even if he'd never seen her shed any before. She was distant but never cold and, right now, that inability to prevent herself from loving was breaking her heart.
"Magnus," he whispered, moving to her side.
She turned her face to him, smiling weakly and making no attempt to wipe away her tears. "The others are resting?"
Will nodded. "I had to sedate Henry."
She raised an eyebrow. "Not John?"
"He'd already hit the brandy pretty heavily before I was able to leave Henry," he answered, clearing his throat and not meeting her eye. "Sorry."
"Hardly surprising under the circumstances. He was already feeling James' passing keenly. Add Ashley's defection on top of that..."
"Yeah, but Watson was your friend and Ashley was your daughter, too," he pointed out gently. "How are you holding up?"
"Still in shock. It hurts, but not as badly as the loss of a child should."
"Probably helps that we're going to get her back and undo whatever the Cabal did to her."
She looked shocked, then just bitter. "Don't delude yourself, Will. The Ashley we knew and loved is dead. False hope benefits us nothing."
He stared. "You're giving up on her?"
"There's nothing to be gained by living in the past, Doctor Zimmerman."
He sighed at her use of his title. "Helen..."
She flinched away as if he'd slapped her, eyes wide. "Will, please don't," she whispered. "I need to remain convinced that I actually feel that way or I will fall apart completely."
"It's allowed!" he told her, grasping her shoulder. "Magnus, you hired me to have your six. I have it now. You're allowed to let yourself be Ashley's mother."
"I can't. It's been too long since I allowed myself the luxury of weakness."
"Trust me." He took a step back, extending his hand to her. "You'll feel better after a catharsis."
"Admitting how badly I hurt right now will break me, Will."
"And I will be here to help put those pieces back together," he promised. "Magnus, everything you've done for me in my life? I want to be here for you now like you've always been for me. Please."
She hesitated for a moment before taking his offered hand. "I didn't think I had a heart left. I was wrong; I do and it is breaking, Will."
He squeezed her hand and closed the distance between them again, just holding her hand and standing close, his heart breaking right along with hers. She bridged the gap, not putting her arms around him, but pressing her body to his and resting her forehead on his shoulder with a broken sob.
He brought his arms up to hug her awkwardly and she was suddenly clinging to him. He'd never had his arms around her and she hadn't embraced him since he was a terrified eight year old but it seemed the most natural thing in the world to hold her and be held by her and, before long, to cry right along with her for everything they'd lost on this terrible day, not just friends and family, but what was left of their innocence.
Her whole body quaked with sobs and his own tears had him too breathless to speak words of comfort, so he just clung to the woman who had always been his emotional storm-anchor, hoping to convey his feelings that way.
Her sobs eventually petered out, well after Will was too spent for more tears of his own. She kept hitching in little gasps of air and, although those eventually slowed and became more regular, she was still shaking. It felt like hours before the trembling stopped and she abruptly went limp against him.
"Are you still here?" she asked, plaintive voice reminding him more of a child than of his mentor.
"Not going anywhere," he promised.
"Did you find all the pieces?"
It took him a moment to make sense of that question. "The pieces of your heart? All safely tucked away in my shirt pocket," he assured her. "I'll start gluing it back together in the morning."
Gee, cheesy much, Zimmerman?
"Let's get a cup of tea into you and put you into a hot bath," he said, steering her towards the stairs.
"You mothering me, Will? That's quite the inversion."
"Well, get used to it," he ordered, giving her shoulder a squeeze. "I promised to help pick up the pieces, remember?"
Forcing a smile, he steered her inside, not bothering to tell her that his heart was as badly shattered as hers. For a change, she needed him instead of the other way around. Time to repay a 24-year-long favor...