The first few days of her absence are hideous as Will swings between the agony of wanting her and the spiteful pleasure of his anger but after a while the feeling fades and he starts to relax. He lets Kate and Henry cajole him into skipping work and having some fun. He takes the time to work on some things he's been keeping on hold, he jogs, he cleans his room. He goes out for bagels on the fourth morning when it occurs to him he hasn't done it in a really, really long time. He books his attendance at a psychiatry conference in Copenhagen and peruses hotels on the internet and a week goes by before he realises he's stopped missing her quite so much.
He's standing in front of a filing cabinet in his office one afternoon, flicking through the B's in the drawer when he glances out of the window and sees a long, black Mercedes pulling through the gates. He watches it slowly pull across the courtyard and stop outside the door. Will stays in his office for as long as he can but eventually the compulsion is too strong and he makes his way along the hall to the excited murmur of voices in the lobby.
He stops at the top of the stairs and grips the banister tightly as he takes in the scene. Big Guy and Henry are waddling in and out of the door carrying boxes, no doubt full of finds from the dig. Magnus is standing talking to Kate, pulling her gloves off slowly before slapping them into her palm and dropping her hand to her side. He takes in a deep breath when she glances up the stairs toward him, her face kissed by the sun. An uncertain smile spread across her face and it seems like she's glowing, her eyes that amazing shade of blue in the shaded hall. He smiles slightly in return and trots down the stairs to greet her, stepping across the tiles with slow unhurried steps.
"Magnus," he says quietly, politely.
"Hello, Will," she replies and gives him a little smile, a flash of perfect white teeth, her nose wrinkling adorably. She's happy to see him, he can tell but there's something a little off. She's tense. Will flicks his gaze up and down her, trying to figure it out when a shadow slides across the stone floor towards them and a familiar, unwelcome voice fills his ears. His face falls and he slowly turns his head to see the smirking visage of Nikola Tesla.
"William," he says cheerfully, tilting his head to the side. "Oh isn't this nice! Quite the welcoming committee," he chirps turning to Helen and giving her a broad smile. Will balls his hands into fists by his side and clenches his jaw and Tesla's grin seems to grow even wider at his scowl. Kate folds her arms and looks to the side, worrying her lip.
"Hank!" she exclaims cheerfully as Henry steps through the door, lifting one knee to shove the bottom of the box in his arms. "Let me help you," she offers a little too enthusiastically and Henry's brows shoot up as she grips the box tightly and shoves him backwards down the hall.
Will turns his head back to Magnus to find her giving him a sheepish look. She opens her mouth to speak, dropping her gaze to her feet for a moment.
"Will, I..." she begins but falls silent, her chest rising and falling heavily as Tesla takes a step closer.
"It's soo lovely to be back," Tesla croons and Will meets his eyes with a look of pure hate before snapping his head away to stare down the hall.
"Nikola!" Magnus growls and he purses his lips at her, his eyes going wide. Will presses his tongue against his back teeth hard enough to hurt.
"I'm just being friendly, Helen" he tells her and she glowers at him in response. "Very well," he answers in an irritated tone. "I had better go and make sure the hairy one isn't one isn't being heavy handed." Will grinds his teeth and turns to glare at the vampire. "These old artefacts need such careful handling."
Magnus' eyes go wide and Tesla jerks his chin at her a little, twisting a button on his shirt between his thumb and forefinger before sauntering away down the hall. Will starts towards the stairs briskly.
"Will!" she calls after him, her voice pleading. He stops and takes a few heavy breaths through his nose before turning slowly.
"Welcome back," he sneers, tilting his chin and shrugging his shoulders and before she can respond he's up the stairs and out of sight.
Will slams the door of his office and doesn't come out for the rest of the day. The next afternoon Kate pops her head meekly through the door only to be greeted with an unfriendly snarl. On the third evening, Will is sitting in the chair behind his desk with his back to the door bouncing a baseball heavily off the wall behind him. He doesn't turn around when he hears the door open.
"Yeah leave it on the chair, Henry," he utters idly.
"How long is this going to go on for, Will?" He starts in his chair and misses the baseball as it rebounds. It smacks heavily into his desk, knocking over the remnants of a cup of coffee and dragging his pen pot over the edge to clatter loudly onto the floor. Will swivels suddenly in the chair and stands up, the back smacking loudly into the shelf behind him.
Magnus stands just inside the room with her arms crossed and her eyes watch the baseball roll across the carpet towards her. She raises her toe and catches it under her foot, stooping down to pick it up and tossing it lightly in the air before catching it again, her tongue running across her teeth under her lips in a pout. Will swallows and meets her stern gaze and they stand in silence for a moment before she steps forward and closes the door behind her.
"You're being childish Will," she tells him, setting the ball down beside her as she moves closer. "Hiding away like this, it's not helping anyone."
Will looks away, his jaw clenching. "And I suppose bringing him here, that helps? When you knew, YOU KNEW how it would make me feel?" He glares at her hotly but she stands passively meeting his stare with glittering eyes. He exhales loudly through his nose.
"Yes, I knew," she says, not coldly but not apologetic either. "What was I supposed to say to him? Thanks for the lovely artefacts Nikola but if you don't mind, Will won't like it if you come back with me, he' a little jealous see." Will's mouth falls open and he crosses his arms, twisting his head away in irritation.
"Why did you even have to go? Was the thought of being here with me so repellent that you had to go seven thousand miles away just to get away from me?" His tone is hurt and Helen's shoulders sag, her arms falling to her sides.
"Oh Will, of course not! But what was I supposed to do? I've been looking for this site since the mid eighteen eighties! I HAD to go!" Will stares at her feet.
"You didn't have to sneak away like that. If I hadn't found you in your office that morning, you never would have even said goodbye!" Magnus closes her eyes, a pained expression on her face.
"I...I...knew you'd think I was running away from you," she explained breathlessly. "I don't know, maybe I was." Tears prick at his eyes at her tone but he blinks them away, breathing steadily until the feeling passes and after a minute, Magnus sinks down into one of the chairs across from him. "This is such a bloody mess," she confesses tiredly and Will softens, moving to sit in the chair beside her and slouching back in the seat, his head tipping back to stare at the light fitting above his head.
"Are you ashamed of me? Is that it?" he asks the ceiling and at her soft sigh, raises his head to see her shaking her head and looking at his shoes.
"Never Will, how could you ask me that?" He sits forward leaning his elbows on his knees.
"But you don't want to be with me. You don't want anyone to know and I don't understand it when I know that you want me. Didn't you want me?" She meets his eyes and he feels himself getting lost in the depths of her gaze, her eyes smoky and wide.
"You know I did," Magnus tells him in a low, quiet voice. "But you know, as well as I do, how utterly impossible it is. You said yourself, there is no us and yet here you are! Hiding away in a jealous sulk!" He steeples his fingers and rubs his nose along the crease between his hands, sniffing a little and twitching his nose.
"I...I...can't help it," he tells her gravely and she watches him intently, her eyes following the movements of his mouth as he speaks. She shakes her head slowly.
"You can't hold me hostage like this Will. I'll never be what you want me to be and stewing in a jealous rage isn't going to change that."
"I just want you to be you!" he exclaims. "How could you ever think I wanted anything else?"
She closes her eyes, her expression anguished and grips the armrest. "Will," she says, pausing to swallow before she continues but when she tries to speak she stammers, unable to get the words out. Will seizes on her moment of vulnerability and moves to kneel on the carpet in front of her, clutching gently at her arms. The wool of her cardigan is unbearably soft under his hands and he wants to wrap his arms around her and bury himself in her warm embrace.
"Hey," he breathes, smiling at her softly. "Hey." He dips his chin and chases her eyes with his smile until she chuffs out a soft breath and smiles back at him.
"Oh, Will, my handsome young protégé," she says gently, stroking the side of his face. Will can't help but grin back at her, flicker of hope taking hold within him.
"Careful," he chides playfully. "The other heads of house will think you only wanted me for my body." She chuckles at his expression.
"That's what they will think Will, if they don't already." Her response rather dampens his amusement and he chews his lip.
"I'm not sure that I care." She regards him seriously.
"I do," Magnus tells him and he draws back a little. "Not that I'm ashamed of you, never that. I just...always wanted you to be your own man. I don't want you to feel beholden to me or to feel like my accessory." He nods slowly. "And I can't be hostage to your jealousy Will. I won't." She holds his gaze for a long time and Will feels like he's a fly trapped in a web and wonders if he'll ever get out of it. "Don't think there isn't anything I wouldn't do for you Will," she tells him finally and he nods, dropping his gaze to stare blankly at the floor as she rises from the chair and slowly walks to the door. "Now, will you come out and start being the Will I know or are you going to stay in here forever?" Will looks at her.
"I ah...I'll um...I'll try to do better, okay?" It's the best he can do in the circumstances and for the moment, it seems to be enough for her. Magnus smiles at him gently, sadly and walks out the door.
A couple of hours later and Will summons up all his courage and descends the stairs to the Library, pushing open the huge creaking doors and looking inside to see Magnus standing over the table peering through a magnifying glass as she holds a piece of stone under a light.
"Hello Will," she says pleasantly enough, glancing up at him for a second with a quirk of her lips and a soft flutter of her lashes before looking back to the object in her hands. He smiles.
"Hi," he says, tucking his hands in his pockets and ambling closer. "So this is it huh? Your long lost treasure?" Magnus straightens up and emits a gentle chuckle, a look of glee on her face.
"Indeed, it's really quite exciting," she tells him contentedly with a little shake of her head and Will huffs out a breath, a genuine feeling of pleasure rising up within him at her demeanour.
"What is it exactly," he asks and for a moment she thinks she might have seen a glimpse of the old Will. She rubs her lips together and coughs, looking at the table and gesturing with the magnifying glass.
"These," she begins in a tone that conveys her utter delight, "are from Petra."
"Petra" he says is a gentle, condescending tone as he walks around the table to stand beside her. "I think I've heard of that."
"Oh it's a very ancient city Will," she tells him, a lock of hair escaping her braid and curling adorably across her face to stick to her lip. She puffs it out of the way and continues. "We've actually recovered very little of the pre-hellenistic kingdom, well I mean, there is some architectural evidence remaining but hardly anything by way of written culture." Magnus is animated and her enthusiasm is infectious, magnetic. "And this," she says definitively waving a piecing of stone tablet "is from the Wadi, the Monastery. Well, it's not really a monastery it's actually a tomb and THIS is actually a piece of carbonised papyrus. Isn't it amazing? This thing has been in the ground so long it's actually starting to fossilize!"
"That's...yeah, that's really amazing," he said with a nod, plucking the stone from her fingers to look at it closely.
"Careful now," she stutters, watching him like a hawk and he gives her a look and makes a face. Magnus huffs and steps back a little. "Sorry."
Will turns the papyrus over in his hands. "Hey, yeah, you can see the inscription," he says with a smile. "What does it say?"
"I've absolutely no idea," Magnus says with a chuckle and he turns to look at the gleeful expression on her face and laughs with her. He hands it back to her with a gentle look.
"It's fascinating, really," he assures her and casts his eye across the table, his gaze falling on the two glasses and the empty bottle beside them. "You know I think ah...I think I'll leave you to it, I'm going to...get some shut eye."
Magnus looks at him with a glint of understanding in her eye. "Alright."
"It's ah...you're right. I'm glad you went. Really."
"Thanks Will," she says with a soft smile and he smiles back for a moment before turning and sloping towards the hall.
"Goodnight," he says with a timid nod of his head.
"Goodnight," she tells him and watches him disappear around the door.
Will hesitates outside for a second before stepping forward and starting down the corridor. He raises his head to see Tesla leaning nonchalantly against a tall stand, peering into the eyes of an old bust, a bottle of wine in one hand. Will meets his eyes and Tesla makes a face although Will isn't sure if it's a grimace or a smile. Whatever it is, it's decidedly lacking in the usual venom he associates with the vampire although Tesla rarely lacks an aura of smug satisfaction and tonight is no different.
"William," he says in a tone that belies the urge to gloat that Will can see simmering beneath the cool facade.
"Tesla," Will replied equally passive. They stare at each other for a moment before Tesla coughs and straightens up.
"No joining us then William?" he asks and Will purses his lips, shaking his head.
"Shame. Although I suppose on consideration, it's best to leave these sort of things to someone with a...more appropriates skill set. Wouldn't you agree?." Will tips his head to one side and crosses his arms.
"Is there something you want to say Tesla, because I want to go bed" he drawls. Nikola raises his eyebrows and purses his lips, looking innocently about.
"No, no, off you go young William. I wish you pleasant dreams," the vampire replies and Will takes a step forward. Nikola makes a gentle sighing noise as Will passes and he pauses, turning his head to meet Tesla's gaze for a moment. Tesla smiles at him through slitted eyes and Will watches as he saunters away down the hall and slips inside the room.
"Ah Nikola, you must come and look at this," Magnus voice drifts down the corridor and Tesla turns to grin at Will, a smug, malicious gleam in his eye as he slowly closes the door.
Well, there. It's finally complete. I know a lot of you are going to be displeased at the ending, frankly, so am I but there really wasn't any other way it could go. There just isn't a happy ending for this pair. Apologies. I never really meant for this story to go the way it has, it got totally out of hand. As you can see, it's hard to write this pair because every time you put them together they make you write them getting each other's clothes off. Thanks to everyone who followed and waited so patiently for updates and I hope you are not too disappointed with how it turned out. Namaste!