Disclaimer: I do not own.
Notes: Just a little fluff for the holidays, Sanctuary style. Set somewhere between 'Hero II' and 'Animus'.
Snow fell silently outside the Sanctuary in drifts, piling against the first floor windows and doors. The night sky shone with twinkling stars and a crescent moon.
Helen Magnus was eternally thankful for the snow, which had stopped yet another nubbin outbreak in its tracks. The nubbins had destroyed the heating and nearly froze to death when the windows had been opened, letting the cold air and snow in.
She wandered from room to room searching for more escapees, leather jacket buttoned up completely. Now was certainly not the time to get sick.
No nubbins in the library. Five were in the kitchen; they had been trying to devour the bread left on the counter when the cold had come in. Helen stuffed them into a trash bag and dropped them in their enclosure.
All in all, a very quiet day at the sanctuary. Kate and the Big Guy were searching the second floor. Henry and Nikola were working on the heating. Normally Will would have been at her side, but Will was already coughing; she had sent him to bed with cold medicine and a bottle of hot water.
She peeked inside Henry's disused bedroom. Besides a signed Star Trek poster on the floor, nothing out of the ordinary was in there. She closed the door quietly, not wanting to disturb the peaceful silence of being the only person on the first floor.
Nikola's bedroom (even less used than Henry's) and Kate's messy room both had no nubbins. By eleven, Helen heard the telltale sound of a generator clicking on and a rush of heat from the ceiling vents.
Her radio crackled.
"Magnus, the heating's back up. Kate and the Big Guy reported no nubbins on their watch and I haven't sneezed in a couple hours."
"Excellent," she said, thankful mostly because she'd reached the end of the hall. The whole floor had been searched, and her feet were beginning to hurt from wearing heels all day. "No nubbins here either."
"Great!" Henry said. "Just in time for Christmas!"
She checked her watch in surprise. It really was Christmas Eve.
"The generator fixed?" she asked, trying to cover up her forgetfulness.
"Yeah. Tesla zapped it with a flashlight and it came back to life." Henry paused. "After I fixed it."
Helen smiled. Those two were really something.
"Nice job you two. I guess that wraps it up."
She arrived in her office and sat at her desk. She looked out into the snowing night. Frost covered the windows. She stood and went to the window, leaning her forehead against the cold pane of missile proof glass.
Looking out to the shining lights of Old City felt dreamy, as if she was back in Oxford and imaging the future.
She looked down to the garden and courtyard. That was more like Oxford. Quiet, old and peaceful, to some extent. At least until the Five had been formed. Then Oxford had become a place of excitement and danger, especially where John and Nikola had been concerned.
Standing and looking into the garden, it was easy to imagine it was the winter of 1884. It had been nearly the end of the fall term. She, Nikola and James had known each other for just a short time. Nigel and John hadn't even entered the picture yet. The source blood had been an unknown. It had been uncomplicated that winter.
She was so absorbed in memories she didn't notice the door open and shut behind her.
"Helen, if you-"
She turned around with a start, to face Nikola.
"Yes?" she said quickly, trying to cover up her surprise.
He smirked. "I didn't think I was that quiet."
He stood beside her and looked out the window. "I didn't know it snowed in Old City."
"Usually it doesn't. It's snowed perhaps once every twenty years since I arrived here."
She looked where he looked, to the distant city lights.
"So quiet. That certainly says something for the absence of young William."
"You'd better be careful Nikola," Helen said half seriously. "Or else you might be the one with the cold."
He turned to face her, smiling in that breathtaking way of his. "I'm not too worried. After all, I have you, good doctor, to nurse me back to health."
He leaned in closer. She could feel his breath on her face, warming it even more. And that grin…oh no, she was blushing…
"Very funny Nikola. What do you want?"
He held up a bottle of wine.
Three minutes later, they were seated on her couch, sipping wine from fancy glasses. Helen kicked off her high heels and drew her chilly feet closer to her body.
Helen felt happier than she had in days. Admittedly, she felt happier than she had felt since Nikola had sent his SOS from the autotype machine.
She took a sip of the wine. It tasted warm, yet light. She swallowed, and smiled to see Nikola was already refilling his own glass.
Wineglass full, the ex-vampire leaned back on the couch with a contented sigh. Half-closing his eyes, he muttered, "This would be a little slice of heaven if you just leaned over and kissed me. An early Christmas present, if you will."
He opened one eye hopefully.
She shook her head, still smiling. He sighed and closed his eyes again.
Helen became aware that the clock behind her desk was beginning to count the seconds very loudly. Then it rang quietly. Midnight. Christmas day.
She glanced over at Nikola. He looked like he was fast asleep; neck bent slightly to the left. It made her slightly sad to see him looking defenseless. Like he was simply a human.
Helen placed her half-full wineglass on the nearby table, debating internally what to do. If he was just faking…that would be very embarrassing.
Quietly, Helen got up and snatched a paper clip from her desk drawer. She held it a foot from his face and let go. It zoomed toward him, coming to rest gently on his cheek.
He definitely was asleep, or he had taken acting lessons. Though when he woke up, Helen wasn't sure how to explain how a paper clip had gotten stuck to him.
She sat back on the couch and took another sip of wine. On impulse, she leaned over and kissed his cheek, taking care to miss the paper clip.
"Merry Christmas Nikola." She whispered into his ear. She tried to pull away, but her necklace – she had forgotten about that – had stuck to his neck. The thing was made from nickel. Nickel was magnetic.
Something like this always happened when Nikola was around. Helen began to reach for the clasp, but certainly couldn't do it without hitting him in the face. She shuddered. That would be an interesting conversation.
What was she supposed to do? Gently, she tried to pull her necklace free with her right hand. It didn't give way.
Helen thought for a moment before scooting as far away from him as possible.
She gave a sharp jerk. The necklace came free, pulling Nikola comically down to rest his head on the seat of the couch. He awoke with a start.
He gave her a grin. "Must have fallen asleep."
"You certainly did."
He thought to himself for exactly six seconds.
"Have you thought about my Christmas present yet?" he asked cheekily.
What was she supposed to say to that?
On another impulse, she leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek, internally wincing as her lips brushed over the paper clip on his cheek. Thankfully, the necklace did not stick this time.
Surprisingly, he didn't turn as he had in Rome. He was playing nice.
When she broke away, she noticed his hand had somehow migrated from his lap to her knee. Not such a gentleman, then. She pushed his hand off her knee, smiling as she did so.
Ever stubborn, his hand took hold of hers.
"Nikola, let go."
He smiled, leaning a bit closer. "Don't you want your Christmas present?" he mumbled into her ear.
Without waiting for an answer, Nikola pressed his lips against hers. An icy tingle ran up Helen's spine as for the briefest of seconds, and an electrical current passed between them.
They broke away, and Helen couldn't help but wish it had been for just a little longer…
She managed another smile as she realized they were still holding hands. Nikola seemed to realize it as well.
He leaned in closer yet again, his breath brushing her ear. "I think I love you."
"It's a little too early in the morning for declarations of love, Nikola."
He smiled unabashedly and used his free hand to cup her chin.
"Do you love me? Honestly, or I might as well leave right now, into the dark and stormy night."
Her heart pounded.
"Don't try to guilt me."
"Do you?" their eyes met. Until now, she had been careful to avoid his gaze. Those haunting blue eyes were too much. Even with a paper clip stuck to his cheek, Nikola Tesla never failed to look handsome.
"What if I do?" somewhere distant, in the back of her mind, she heard the click of something turning off. Possibly her common sense.
His smile widened. "Then you'd never admit it. You do love me!"
She fought to control her blush. She'd never said that. Or rather, unsaid it.
"We have the entire city to ourselves tonight Helen." His voice went lower. "No children to supervise, no abnormals on the rampage…"
City…the city! She hadn't shown him the three dimensional model of the city yet. With the nubbins breakout and Walter's suit, she'd completely forgotten her father's 'gift'. But not just yet, she decided mentally. She was a bit too comfortable right here, right now.
"What?" she nearly shouted; interrupted rudely from her thoughts.
"I was merely suggesting you put something else on. Because I think the heating has failed again."
It was getting colder. Helen involuntarily shivered. So that had been the click.
"Of course, if you'd rather not move, we could always share body heat."
With another click they both heard the generator switch back on; perhaps it had been a temporary thing.
Nikola's free hand had moved from her chin to her other hand. How was he able to do that without her noticing?
"So you do love me Helen. On Christmas morning." He sighed. "I suppose you want to go to bed now alone."
Helen blinked; she did feel a little tired. It may have been due to the lateness of the hour, but suddenly, curling up on the couch with Nikola didn't seem like such a bad idea. But she couldn't make it too obvious, as if she just wanted to sleep, which she did, but was far too unsubtle for her liking.
Her hands were still captured by Nikola's. She didn't mind just now. Leaning in closer to his warm body until her head rested on his shoulder, she felt him tremble at the contact.
There was another click, and the radio switched on, blaring static and a faint cheesy Christmas carol.
"New parlor trick?"
"No idea." He replied. "Where do you keep your radio?"
"I didn't know I had a…oh."
She felt unbearably sad for a long minute. "That's Ashley's radio." This was the first Christmas since Ashley's death. It was probably why she'd blocked it out of her mind until now.
He let go of one of her hands. Holding his hand outstretched, he said, "Watch."
After a very long ten seconds, a small portable radio flew into his outstretched hand. Nikola grinned and fiddled with the dial. Then, as clear as day, the overly cheerful radio announcer said,
"Well, looks like a snow day for Old City folks! If you're still up, holding your girlfriend and listening to me for some reason, give it up for 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer!"
Obeying the voice in the little black box, Nikola placed the radio on the table with the forgotten wine and wrapped his arm around Helen's shoulders. She shook her head.
"And for all you Brits drunk and enduring a breakup, here is Coldplay's 'Christmas Lights.' Merry Christmas to you all!"
Christmas night, another fight
Tears we cried, a flood got all kinds of poison in
Of poison in the blood
Nikola met her eyes, then turned to look out the window. "A little creepy."
Took my feet
Down Oxford street trying to right a wrong
Just walk away, those windows say, but I can't believe she's gone.
Helen felt tears beginning to form in her eyes. It could have easily been Nikola this writer had written the song about. Suddenly, she was glad for the warmth of his arm around her shoulders.
Like some drunkard Elvis singing, I go singing out of tune
Saying how I've always loved you darling and I always will
"I love you." It was a quiet statement, as if he hadn't really meant her to hear. Perhaps he thought she was asleep. He was staring out the window, lost in the swirling snowflakes.
Her eyes closed as she let the song that was just too sad for Christmas wash over her. That, and the presence of Nikola was one of the most calming things she'd ever experienced. She was pretty sure he didn't intend it to be like that.
The song finally came to an end, and by that time, she was half-asleep. Nikola must have done something to the radio because it didn't play another song.
It was barely a minute later, Helen would calculate that afternoon, that she fell asleep.
Nikola moved his gaze from the snowy window to Helen's sleeping form. Had she heard him declare his love? Again?
He could faintly hear her breathing in the silence. Had he been a vampire, every breath, every heartbeat, would have been audible to him.
Gently, he shifted her body against his. She mumbled something in her sleep. Was it his imagination, or did it sound like 'Nikola'?
His heart began to pound as he realized he was sitting with a sleeping Helen Magnus who was leaning on his shoulder. One of his cleaner fantasies, but it did exist…
He placed a soft kiss on her forehead before joining her in dreamland.
-Shall this be continued?