Skinny-Dipping with Sally

Disclaimer: I wish, but no, I don't own the characters/show.

Spoilers: Anything/everything up to Season 2's episode "Penance."

Author's Note: I just couldn't help but wonder what might've happened if Will had taken Magnus' suggestion on how to thank Sally for helping save him in "Penance."

It wasn't one of the strangest or grossest things he'd done since coming to work for Magnus, but skinny-dipping with Sally, the resident mermaid, in her very open enclosure was by far one of the most exhibitionist in nature.

Standing on the metal platform that ran across the massive enclosure in nothing but his swim trunks, a towel draped around his neck and goggles in one hand, he watched as Sally poked her head out from the water's surface just slightly in curiosity. He saw her nearly everyday, but suddenly he felt himself understanding just why sailors had found these Abnormals so enthralling.

Shaking himself after a moment of staring, however, he reached out a hand in greeting, feeling the slight shock of the mental connection being made as her webbed fingers made contact with his.

"Hello, Will. Helen told me you might come visit."

The first time he had "talked" with Sally it had almost felt like an invasion of privacy, but he had come to understand that she was only projecting her thoughts into his mind, not reading any thoughts of his own except for what he had to say back. To a creature so fluid and open as her environment he supposed the concept of privacy was something that had been an early roadblock when communicating with humans, but as Sally had proved earlier today, she was no ordinary mermaid.

"Yeah, I figured she might. I wouldn't be surprised either if she tipped Henry off so that he could be ready with a video camera."

He feels her laughter more than he hears it. A bubbly sound, like the bubbling water created by lava flow on the ocean floor.

"You need not worry. Henry is currently occupied upstairs. I believe he is playing a 'video game.'"

He smiled at the face that Sally made at the term, obviously not understanding the resident Sanctuary technician's obsession towards that particular form of entertainment.

"I forget sometimes just how strange things like video games can be to some Abnormals, how such 'normal' things to one can be considered foreign to the other and vice versa."

"And yet we can still learn, and accept. Helen taught me that."

"Yes, we can. And as I learned today you were instrumental in saving me from getting my insides fried. What do you say I try and thank you?"

Sally smiled at that, quickly releasing her mental tethers and submerging herself once more, waiting patiently just below the surface.

Taking a deep breath, he quickly put his goggles on, placed his towel on the platform, shed his swim trunks, and jumped in before he could psych himself out.

The water was warmer than he was expecting it to be, but the shock of it encompassing him all at once without the usual barrier of a swimsuit or a wet suit or even clothes for that matter quickly sent him scrambling for the surface once more.

Finally managing to slow his breathing, he smiled with more than some chagrin at Sally as she surfaced next to him.

Her own smile he figured was to supposed to convey understanding, but as the shock of the first plunge was starting to wear off he realized just how long it had been since he'd actually swum for fun, and was suddenly eager to get going.

Indicating his intentions with a finger pointing down and a thumbs up he took a deep breath, diving once more in to Sally's domain.

It had never occurred to him just how extensive her tank really was until he saw the inside of it himself, the marine life around him took up some space to be sure but there was still plenty of room to maneuver. From the Sanctuary file on Sally he remembered particularly that the mermaid was one of Magnus' oldest and most trusted residents next to the Big Guy, which he had to figure came with such privileges.

He struggled to remember more, however, as when he'd read it it had been at the very beginning of his newly appointed position, and he'd had the overwhelming task of playing catch up with the sizable Sanctuary Employees Manual. He was a quick study, he probably wouldn't have lasted long if he hadn't been, but after scanning so many files on so many Abnormals specific facts about the individual tended to slip through the cracks. He made a mental note to himself to review Sally's file later that night if possible before seeing movement out of the corner of his eye, and said mermaid's playful smile as she offered her hand.

Taking it curiously, Will suddenly found himself flying through the water with a speed and grace he would have never been able to accomplish on his own. It was amazing.

"Helen thinks so too. It is something, she says, that in all her years she will never be able to do herself, which makes it special."

He nods, trying to focus on the whirl of colorful sea life as it flies by him, but the feel of the water moving over him, the sense of freedom it instills, makes him care a lot less about what exactly is in the water with him. It doesn't matter. All he needs to do is feel, enjoy. Somehow, it doesn't take much to understand what makes this so special to Magnus. Several times of resurfacing for air and joining Sally again, however, combined with the day's events to finally drain him of energy, forcing him to say farewell for now with a promise to come back again as he swam up to the surface once more, resting against the platform as he caught his breath. What he didn't expect though, was to see a pair of heeled feet standing next to his towel and trunks.

"Enjoying your swim?" Magnus smiled cheekily, her arms folded innocently behind her back as she looked down at him.

Deciding that he was too tired to let her embarrass him this time, however, he grinned mischievously back before waving good-bye to Sally and hoisting himself up onto the platform. Pulling his goggles off and grabbing his towel, but making sure to dry only his hair, he wrapped the cloth around his neck once more, grinning at Magnus' startled expression. She was also, he noted, having a hard time keeping her eyes at face level, something that amused him more than a little and thrilled more than it probably should have. Only when he bent down to retrieve his suit did he finally take some kind of pity, grabbing the towel to wrap it around his waist, because walking through the drafty mansion to his room in nothing but a towel was so worth the look she was giving him.

Moving to leave, however, he stopped just short of running into Magnus, that same grin still on his face.

"I did enjoy it, actually. Maybe you can join us next time?"

And with that, he was gone, leaving a properly stunned boss in his wake. Will 1, Magnus 0.

As she recovered from the shock of her protégé's audacity, however, Magnus could only think of one thing to say.

"Cheeky monkey."

That, and looking down to her Abnormal friend, she rolled her eyes, walking off the platform as she saw bubbles rise from the water where Sally was laughing silently.

"Oh shut up."

Author's Note: Hope it was fun! P.S. I have no idea how verbal Sally is when "talking" with other people, so I guess just chalk it up to creative license on my part if you want. –shrug-