It had been a few months since John had been in the Sanctuary. He and Helen didn't seem to work well together over long periods of time any more. But he was here now, at Christmas, wondering if he should stay until the morning. It was late now. Too late for anyone to be up. He was studied the tree that Helen had put up. Specifically, he was studying the angel that he had given her on their first Christmas. "I remember the night you gave that to me," a soft voice said.
John was startled but he hid it quickly as he turned. Helen stood there in a nightgown and robe. He averted his eyes for modesty, despite having seen her in much less before. "I'm sorry for intruding," he murmured. "I'll go now."
"Please don't," Helen said. Then she smiled as she recalled the words she'd used so long ago. "We haven't had a moment to be alone."
She could tell by the look in his eyes that he knew what she was really talking about. "It would have hardly been appropriate," he stated. "But I suppose a few moments couldn't hurt."
"Come sit by me on the couch," she gestured. John gave her a brief smile and slipped off his coat before moving to obey. She noted that he still kept his distance now. It made her hurt inside, just a little.
"I'm surprised," he said. Helen gave him a curious look. "That you kept it I mean," he explained nodding to the angel.
"The memories of our love were not always painful," she told him. "I used to look on that angel and remember all the best parts of our time together." Her smile turned wistful and just a bit sad. "Ashley loved to hang it near a light so it would throw rainbows through the room."
"Did you tell her where it was from?" he wondered.
"Oh yes," she said without hesitation. "Do you know I believe that was Ashley's favorite ornament?" Her smiled became happy again. "It still is my favorite."
John studied her in the dim light given off by the lit up tree. "I still have the key," he announced suddenly.
Helen turned to him. "Do you really?" she asked, interested.
"Of course," he agreed. "I said I would care for it for the rest of my life, did I not?"
"That is true," she allowed. "But I remember certain other promises you made that were not kept. I just assumed Jack wouldn't want it near."
John shrugged. "Maybe he didn't," he replied. "But I did."
Helen could feel sleep tugging at her again. She tried to find a position on her couch that was even slightly comfortable. That was the problem with Victorian furniture. It looked so lovely but you couldn't be comfortable in it for very long. A polite cough caught her attention and she turned to see John holding his arms out. With a smile she curled up deep into them like she used to years ago. John pressed a kiss to the crown of her hair. For a few long minutes they sat in silence, regarding the tree with John carding his fingers through her hair. He used to like doing that too, she remembered. "Oh John," she sighed, "How did we let it get so wrong?"
She could feel the rush of his breath across her skull. "I don't know," he murmured. "I suppose it started with things beyond our control and we just never managed to fix it."
"We should have," she said quietly. They lapsed into silence again. "Ashley would have liked having you as a father," she commented drowsily.
John could tell that sleep was nearly over taking her. "I would have liked a chance to be a father to her," he said.
Helen shifted to look him in the eye. "Let's make a promise John," she decided.
"A promise?" he asked.
"Yes. Let's promise to fix it this time around. We've been wrong for such a length of time, it's just too tiring. We have another chance here. We should use it." She studied his face. "Will you promise me?"
John smiled as he cupped her cheek. "I promise you my love," he agreed. Then he leaned in to brush his mouth against hers. "But it is late, angel. You should rest while you can."
"You'll stay with me?" she asked, burrowing back into his arms. She was so tired, and his yes was so light, that she almost didn't catch it. But she did catch it and she drifted off to sleep with a smile.
It wasn't long before John followed her. He had meant to move them to a bed somewhere but the effort seemed to require more energy than he really had. So together they slept on the couch, watched over by a crystal angel that had waited over a century for this moment. And that is how they were found the next morning by questioning assistants and technicians. But that is a different story for a different day.