Will groaned the groan of the previously celebrating. It was a groan he felt right down to his toes and he wished he could take back the moment he opened his mouth. No, actually, he wished that he were dead. Surely that would be easier and less painful than actually opening his eyes.
It was with this thought that he heard the slightest of chuckles. Slowly prying open one cemented eye (yes, he was right: agony) he saw Helen Magnus, immaculately beautiful as always, perched on a chair at the end of his bed. How dare she look so perfect when he felt like he was falling apart at the seams?
She was sipping from black china, the tea cup easily visible against the backdrop of the blindingly white pantsuit she had elected to wear. Will was cognisant enough to recognise that she had likely made that selection deliberately but lacked the energy to muster an appropriately forceful glare with his one functioning eye.
"Good morning, Will," she chirped loudly, her voice laced with a tangible humour that showed she knew all too well what she was doing to his head.
Pulling himself up from the mattress took a strength he didn't know he had, but somehow he managed it. He felt the quilt drop from his shoulders and pool down around his waist, revealing his bare chest. At Magnus' undeniable smirk, he prayed that he had remembered the rest of his pyjamas last night.
"What – what are you...?" he croaked.
Magnus tilted her head at him in the way he had come to read as intensely hidden amusement at his expense. "What am I doing in here?"
"Yes. Here. In my bedroom. In the morning," he chanced a peek under the covers. "While I'm naked."
Despite her natural reserve, Will had learnt that Helen Magnus had a well honed sense of mischief, one that was right now lighting up her face. She set those twinkling eyes on him and said, with enough concern to fool nobody, "Well Will, I just wanted to see how you're faring this morning."
Faring? He wasn't faring all too well, to be perfectly honest. In the course of very few hours he seemed to have lost all memory of events, not to mention his clothing. In exchange he had gained a headache that was threatening to liquefy his brain, and the presence of a teasing 157 year old woman. In his bedroom. While he was naked...
"I'm – perfectly fine," he assured her, hoping with all his being that his eyes were aligned as he said so.
She grinned. "Of course you are, Will."
Nausea was beginning to settle in the pit of his stomach and, as the ever-calm Magnus lifted her tea once more, he wished she would leave so he could throw up in peace. A man has to preserve some semblance of dignity. Running his hands over his now well-stubbled face his fingers ran into a strange softness atop his head. Fearing the worst – this was the Sanctuary after all – he tugged it gently, only to have the now crumpled Santa hat come away easily in his hands.
He held the hat in his lap looking at it intently. There was something about this hat, he just knew it, something he was supposed to remember. And he was positive it had something to do with the now huge grin on Magnus' face.
Picking it up by the pom-pom he flung it at his boss, marvelling at the unexpected little yelp she gave as she caught it. "Okay, just tell me, what did I do?"
She cocked her eyebrow, "You really don't remember?"
He remembered attending the Christmas party. No. He remembered refusing to go, only to have Ashley drag him there anyways. It is hard, after all, to avoid the work Christmas party when you also lived there.
He remembered Magnus greeting him; she had kissed him on the cheek and thanked him for all the hard work he had done over the year. He remembered that he had liked the smell of her perfume and the way the diamonds at her ears had twinkled from behind her curls.
Then he remembered the Big Guy smacking him for staring.
He remembered Henry cornering Ashley under the mistletoe only to have her laugh and pat him gently on the cheek – a gesture so reminiscent of her mother that Will had to look twice.
He remembered the Christmas tree in the corner that Chuck had decorated – one side amazingly beautiful, the other something out of a nightmare.
And punch. He definitely remembered the punch. It was after that things got a little hazy.
There was music, he was sure of that, Helen may have even graced them with a song or two on her violin. He remembered pudding that Ashley had proudly presented. And then something involving a giggling Henry, the shoe, and the barely touched remains of said pudding.
And dancing, he was pretty sure he remembered Magnus and the Big guy waltzing before Ashley had commandeered the playlist. Yes, he was positive there had been ...
Will's head jerked up, his panicked eyes meeting Magnus', "I danced with Henry."
She smiled, "Yes, you did."
"I danced naked with Henry."
"Well," she said, tossing him back his Santa hat. "Except for this of course. And I'm sorry to inform you that it was not strategically placed."
It all came back to him now. He truly had enjoyed that punch – a little too much, it seemed. He and Henry, not wanting to hurt Ashley's feelings had suck down to the shoe to dispose of her entirely inedible pudding. They had returned to the party giggling like little boys, to find everyone else dancing. Joining them seemed the logical thing to do.
Unfortunately for Will, his logic was somewhat punch soaked and he had thought it appropriate to incorporate a strip tease into his dance moves.
Thoroughly embarrassed, Henry buried his head into the offending Santa hat but, though muffled, it did little to block Magnus' words.
"Now, don't you think you owe Henry an apology?"