The Evolution of Nature
Chapter Two: And now the conclusion
Based on Sanctuary, created by Damian Kindler
Please do your very best to read all of Nigel's lines with Vincent Gale's lovely accent. I considered trying to write his lines phonetically, but I decided that would be awful for all involved.
- . - . - . - Weeks Later
Helen felt James roll over and reach towards the kerosene lamp on the bedside stand and turn the wick up. While the rest of the Sanctuary had long ago been modernized, he still liked the natural flame light for his late night reading lamp. Light slowly filled the room and they both sat up, looking towards the large wardrobe in the corner, which now stood open and rustling.
Even though they could not see him, Helen was sure Nigel turned to look at them. They watched a pair of trousers come out of the wardrobe and seemingly fit themselves onto a pair of invisible legs. Once they were around an invisible waist, the waist and the man it belonged to became visible.
Nigel looked embarrassed.
The dozens, hundreds, of times Helen had seen Nigel partially or fully undressed, he never looked embarrassed. Except, well, of course, the first time it had happened. But they both had been embarrassed.
She studied his gaze for a second.
"Helen?" he finally asked in disbelief.
She lifted her chin in understanding. He was embarrassed on witnessing a couple in bed together. Fully dressed in night clothes or not, it was an intimate setting, and Nigel felt like an interloper.
James, ever the witty conversationalist, ignored the elephant in the room. "Run into some trouble this evening, Nigel?" he asked.
Nigel shook his head and turned to James. "Well, I won't bore you with the details," he answered, donning one of James' shirts. "Suffice it to say, a stealthy retreat was required. I would've gone home, however the Sanctuary was closer and it is bloody freezing out."
Peering at him through the dimly lit room, Helen couldn't help but notice his normally pale skin was deathly white. He was right, it was freezing out. She tossed back the bed covers and reached for her robe. "Come, I'll make you some tea. We have a room on permanent reserve for you."
He held up his hands. "Helen," he tried to protest.
She shook her head. "No arguments." She turned back to James, who was adjusting the device that regulated the rhythm and strength of his heartbeats. "Stay, sleep. I know you've been tired recently, and don't try to convince me otherwise."
He gave her a sheepish smile. "Of course not, my dear. Good evening, Nigel," he big them good night as they left the room.
Helen and Nigel walked down the hall to the staircase. "He's been tired?" Nigel asked.
Helen nodded. "I believe his device will need some upgrading, perhaps some respiratory regulation. I need to run some tests to be sure."
Nigel nodded and silence lingered on their way to the kitchen.
She put on a kettle. "Would you like something to eat?" she asked.
Nigel shook his head. He pulled up a chair for the two of them, his quite close to the stove, his skin feeling starved for heat. "So," he said once she sat down across from him, "what's this, then?"
She knew exactly to what he referred, however she didn't answer immediately, not knowing the answer. What was this? Were she and James a couple now? She wasn't sure. They shared sleeping quarters now and had for several weeks, at least. There was a new dimension of intimacy to their relationship, not that of a married couple, but intimate none-the-less.
"Well?" he asked again.
"I'm not sure, Nigel," she answered, realizing she had kept him waiting a short while.
"How long?" he asked.
"Several weeks, at the least. A few months at the most." The steaming kettle caught her attention, making her aware of exactly how long she had contemplated his question before he asked her again. She poured the steaming water into a teapot and retrieved two cups and tea leaves. She poured them both a cup, acutely aware of his constant gaze.
"And?" he asked once she had sat down again. Despite the simple nature of the question, she knew exactly what he was asking.
"We find comfort in it," she answered. "Respite, solidarity. A productive and rewarding partnership."
Nigel set down his cup. "You talk about it like you've gotten new dog," he said with the hint of a laugh in his voice.
Helen took a sip of her tea. "Not quite, however I have not been this satisfied with companionship in a long time."
Nigel nodded, turning back to his tea. "Things are good, then? You're happy?"
She smiled softly. "I am, we both are."
There was comfortable silence for a moment. Nigel, again, set his tea down, preparing his words. "Forgive the brashness of this statement, it does come with all the respect and love in the world." They smiled at each other. "However, I feel this is an argument your father would make. Your father and James."
Helen placed her cup on the table, signaling him to make his point.
"You've gotten pregnant out of wedlock before."
Her eyes slipped closed, considering the statement. "It hasn't come to that, not yet at least."
Nigel's eyebrows rose in surprise. He had expected there was more between James and herself, he had no reason to expect otherwise. He did catch them in the same bed in the home they shared, for heaven's sake.
"Will it?" he asked.
"Likely as not," she replied in a non-committal manner. She had considered it before. A physical relationship between James and herself was not completely unimaginable, that was sure. Whether or not one would actually develop, only time would tell. "We will cross that bridge when we come to it, I suppose."
There was another moment of comfortable silence. Feeling the conversation had been satisfied, she changed the subject, "You're always welcome here, Nigel," she said, offering him again a permanent place to stay and work for the uncounted time.
He smiled his boyish smile. "I know, but my place isn't here. It's not my nature to live by all the rules." He chuckled. "Though, I suppose, it's not your either." He stood after finishing his tea. "I guess I'll turn in, then. Thank you for your hospitality.
He paused at the doorway and turned back to her. "For a long time, it appeared as if you and James would never fully recover, never forgive yourselves." Recover from John's betrayal, he meant, and forgive themselves for their part in it. "I don't think that's true anymore."
She smiled softly again. "You may be correct, Nigel. You just may be correct."
She watched him leave and poured herself just a little more. Nigel was right, he could never work for the Sanctuary, he and Nikola were alike in that aspect. He could never be confined by the specificity which grounded her organization, at least not permanently. He had been volunteering his assistance on occasion, and more so in recent years.
Perhaps people could change. Perhaps she could learn to let go of the guilt of the past and move on.
She was happy with James. Perhaps nearly as happy as she had been with John. She paused, no, they were too different to compare. She did love them both. She loved them differently, that was sure, but she loved them both, none-the-less.
John had changed her, all those years ago. And in the interim, James had changed her as well. Like the Ixodiodea Cnidos, Helen was no longer who she once had been. That itself was a concerning thought. But, at least, she had James.
She made her way back to the room they shared and joined him in the bed they shared. Her movement didn't disturb his sleep. She watched him for a moment, asleep with a device regulating his heartbeat. Helen leaned over and placed a kiss on his temple.
She had James, and he had her.
- . - FIN - . -