Disclaimer: Sanctuary and its characters do not belong to me, I just play with them. My words, however, are my own.
Author's Note: Angst ahoy! Don't kill me! Remember, "forever" is relative ;) Thanks to MajorSam for her beta.
Eye for an Eye
Chapter 4: Endings
(Copyright 2010, NoCleverSig)
The blows to Helen's ribs had caused fractures, bruises, but hadn't punctured her lungs. The hit to her face with the ring required stitches, but was so expertly mended by her friend and colleague Dr. Padma Shiriz that the scarring promised to be minimal. The surgery to her hand was another matter.
Magnus' left ring finger had been crushed as had some of the bones in her hand. Surgery took hours. Healing and therapy would take months.
John Druitt waited throughout it all.
He lingered outside the operating room, stayed with her during recovery, and remained with Helen throughout the long days and nights that followed in the infirmary. Later, when she was released and began therapy on her hand, he went with her, learning the exercises too so he could help her perform them properly at night.
There was little to do for the ribs except to let them heal with time and to endure the pain of the process. But Helen's movements were ginger, and John was there to help her get up, get dressed, fix her hair, take her to the toilet, whatever it was she needed.
Weeks followed, and he remained. His actions stemmed from love, but Helen also knew they emanated from guilt. It was a guilt she believed was unfounded, but one he wouldn't let go, wouldn't discuss with her. Not yet.
Since the kidnapping, they hadn't been intimate. Helen wasn't physically able to do so without intense pain. John didn't push. He simply lay by her side and held her as gently as possible.
Mostly they were silent, lost in their own solitary thoughts. Together, but apart, and the fact that they were so close but so far away from one another frightened her.
She had talked to Will about what had happened, extensively, but not to John. Tomorrow she would go back to her responsibilities as head of the Sanctuary network. She was still off the mission list, would be for several months to make sure she healed properly, but she was ready to resume her duties, her life, and to move on.
John, however, was another matter.
He'd been unusually quiet all day. Helen assumed he was upset with her returning to her job so quickly, but if he was, he didn't say so outright.
They sat in the room they'd shared for months eating dinner together in silence, neither one saying a word to the other. Finally, when she couldn't stand it any longer, Magnus broke the wall that had been growing steadily between them brick by brick by brick.
"John, this wasn't your fault," she stated simply.
He put down his fork and stared at her, as though he was seeing her for the first time.
"Helen, how could it not be?" he answered softly.
She didn't have an answer for him. In a way, he was right.
She started to respond when he stood up, walked over to her vanity, and picked up the engagement ring that Garavilla had taken off her hand and used to hit her, crushed against her finger. The sight of it caused her to tremble, a reaction that made her extraordinarily sad.
John returned to his seat and held it between them, gazing at it. The opal had been destroyed when Garavilla had struck it with the hammer. Several diamonds had fallen out from their settings, lost somewhere on the floor of that horrible room. The band had been cut to remove it from her hand so they could perform surgery. Since then she'd left it on her vanity, unsure what to do with it.
John held it up and stared. "It's been destroyed, hasn't it?"
Magnus looked at him and tilted her head, unsure whether he was talking about the ring or them.
"It's been crushed, brutalized, but it's still here, John. It can be repaired. And if not, it's only a ring. We can get another."
He looked up at her. "Can we?"
"Yes," she nodded.
They ate the rest of their dinner in silence.
That night John held her tighter than usual. So tight it hurt, but Helen didn't complain. The last time they had made love was the night before the kidnapping. She'd been asleep and he had slipped into the bed and into her and it had been a dreamlike, sensual experience. At the time, she felt the need to savor it, to remember it, to acknowledge that it was somehow extraordinarily important. Tonight she felt a similar need. To hold and be held so tightly, the pain was secondary.
They didn't talk, just clung to one another. As she drifted to sleep, John murmured something in her ear, but she couldn't make out the words.
In the morning, when she awoke, the sheets beside her were cold.
She usually woke up first, watching him sleep. Early mornings were when he slept the deepest, tossing and turning throughout the night keeping them both awake. There had been no such turbulence last night. Last night had been peaceful.
She pulled herself up and onto the pillows gingerly, her sides still incredibly sore. She looked around their room. Something was off. It was quiet. Empty. His jacket, which he always laid neatly over the chair of the desk, was gone. The closet door was open. Helen swung her legs over the bed carefully, balanced herself, and got up, walking slowly to their wardrobe. She turned on the light, and her heart pounded. Her clothes were there. The space she'd made so many months ago for his, however, was empty. Her heart sunk.
"No…," she caught herself whispering painfully. "John…"
She turned to the vanity and saw it. Handwriting bold and precise, unmistakably his, on an envelope that simply read, Helen with her ring set on top. She closed her eyes to steady herself, feeling her body start to shake, knowing without opening it what would be inside. She sat back down on the bed and let the tears fall.
Will Zimmerman rounded the hallway toward Magnus' office door. This was her first full day back at work. Actually, he hoped she'd take it easy and make it a half day, but knowing Magnus, that was probably wishful thinking.
Still, he wanted to be the first to welcome her back. It had been a tough road for her, for all of them. He'd been trying to help her cope with the psychological aspect of it and the damage it had inevitably done to her relationship with Druitt. He was making progress. The two of them would get through this. They would all get through this and move on.
He started to walk through her door and almost clocked himself. It was closed. Not like Magnus. He knocked.
"Come," she said, her voice small and strained.
Will opened it, saw her and smiled. She was standing beside the window, impeccably groomed as usual. She wore a lovely lavender dress with tear drop earrings and her hair was pulled back away from her face. The bruises were barely visible, the small mark on her upper cheek healing nicely. But something was wrong, terribly wrong. Will could see it her eyes, the way she carried herself. She had the look of a person who'd just suffered a tragic loss, a death. He panicked, his heart thundering in his chest. He rushed toward her.
"Magnus? What's wrong?"
She turned to him, her eyes vacant and red. She'd been crying. She reached down and handed him an envelope she held in her hand. He recognized John's strong handwriting on the front. He glanced back up at her.
"He's gone," she said softly, and nodded to him. Will pulled the letter out and read it.
My Dearest Helen,
Words cannot express my sorrow for the pain I have caused you and so many others. I know you, and I know as you read this you will argue with vehemence that I was not to blame for my crimes, that the creature that controlled me was at fault. But the truth, my dear, was that I was the conduit for the death and destruction that befell so many. My crimes are countless, as is my guilt. The blood on my hands is not such that easily washes. And now that blood has touched you.
I love you too much to ever let it do so again.
Therefore, I am leaving, and am saddened beyond measure to do so. I cannot live with the possibility that my crimes would touch you again or those in your stead for whom I love and care for equally.
You are surrounded by good people, people I trust to support and protect you. I leave you in their very capable hands.
Helen, the time we shared together these past few months was a gift, one I thought never to receive again. One I was not deserving of but shall always treasure. I shall remember you always, for all eternity, but I shall not return. I have plagued your life too long. You deserve more. You deserve to love another.
Please forgive me for not telling you this in person. Had I seen your face, I would not have been able to do so. I am a coward in that way.
My love for all eternity,
Will looked up from the letter and at Magnus. She stared out the window, her eyes lost, her beautiful, bruised face in profile. How many times had this man hurt her? She must have lost count by now.
He walked over to her and put his arms around her silently. He had no words of comfort to offer. She held him tightly in return, her body shaking with tears in his embrace. Under her blouse she wore the shattered ring, which she had tied to a chain about her neck.
It wasn't Jack that was lost to her now. It was John. And this time Helen knew it was forever.