The End Is Where We Start From
Disclaimer: The angst-whore muse is all mine. Everything you recognise from Sanctuary is not. The title is a quote from the last episode of Torchwood season 2.
A/N: I hope you enjoy this one. Helen finally speaks. And I got to write another love-letter! *grins*
Sorry this is late; internet access is spotty at best and I forgot to upload before I left. I'll be home Monday night, but I go back to school Wednesday...
Anyway, please enjoy, and I'm leaving an important note at the end of this chapter, so don't miss it!
Chapter Four (2060 words)
The funeral is a quiet mess.
As if it weren't enough for the Sanctuary Network to lose its head, a violent and destructive abnormal turns up roaming the streets of Old City, followed by a relatively harmless abnormal who is using his ability to weaken the structural integrity of heavy metals to break into bank vaults. Coupled with this is the discovery of a new abnormal species that looks like puffed-up, air-breathing puffer fish, reproduces like Nubbins, and creates a static EM field that causes any and all communication technology operating on usual wavelengths to pick up and broadcast nothing but static.
Will slips quickly and easily into the role of leader, and everyone follows him with a combination of personal respect and the knowledge that Dr Magnus would not have left them in anything less than capable hands. Within moments of each alarm, a group of well-qualified people head off to attack each problem on its own. Such is the demand for resources that, within ten minutes of the first alarm, Nikola finds himself alone with Helen's casket but for an old couple and the hairy butler.
Bigfoot grunts something about needing to set up rooms for the new guests and disappears back to the haven of somewhere he knows well. Nikola couldn't care less about the two old people, holding hands and gazing sadly at the casket while they sit in wooden pews almost as far from Helen's broken body as they can be.
Nikola walks slowly forward, happy, for once, that her people are so anxious to jump on taking care of abnormal issues even in the midst of her funeral. The upper half of Helen's casket is open, like the empty one was for Ashley not that many years ago. This casket, however, is filled with more than simple trinkets by which to remember a lost daughter.
The twice-turned vampire takes one of her hands in his and squeezes tightly. It's near ice cold – but then again, she is, well–
Unwilling to even think the word again, he presses his lips to hers. After the icy chill of her hand, he's surprised to find that her lips don't feel nearly as cold. Perhaps, though, it's simply a matter of his lips being colder. His solution to the problem of lonely immortality should be coming into effect just about now. That's one of the wonders of slow-release poison, coupled with his strength of will. He can look and act perfectly normal until suddenly, the man they had no reason to fear would die is dead.
"This is for you, my love," he whispers softly to Helen's prone form, slipping an envelope with her name on it under the hands resting peacefully on her chest. "It's a response, of sorts, to the one you left me."
He presses another soft kiss to her lips and then to her forehead, and with the last of his strength, he whispers quietly, in her ear, "I'll be seeing you soon."
Then, the twice-turned vampire, immortal and outliving all those around him, collapses in a heap on the stone floor next to Helen's casket.
My dearest Helen, he had written only hours before, when the serum he had derived was already beginning its slow and arduous process towards his death.
I know you would never approve of my methods, but then, there was so much you seemed not to approve of in regards to my behaviour. And yet, if your letter is to believed, those secretive smiles and hidden glances you thought I didn't see weren't only products of my overactive imagination, as I'm certain you would have claimed had I ever called you out on them.
Since Rome – and, with your own intellect, I am willing to give you many, many years beyond the ones we've shared since then – you have known my true feelings for you. In Rome, I said it in as many words: I love you. I love you, Helen Magnus, and I always have. It was as much of a leap of faith for me to respond to your questions about my friends the pigeons as it was for you to ask them. Perhaps you never saw it, but I was just as shy as you professed to be. I had no faith that a beautiful young woman like you were could have an honest interest in my affiliation for such simple-minded creatures, and that your words to me came not out of jest but rather of curiosity. I remember that moment clearly, because it so defined our later relationship: it was a leap of faith that opened the door to the most wonderful of possibilities.
I could never once blame you for your actions in regard to admitting something you felt was difficult. In fact, I'm amazed that you left such a sensitive letter somewhere I might easily find it, if I were ever left the time to pick just two simple locks. But no matter. You knew my love for you; I know your love for me.
One day, my dear, we will find our happiness together. I love you, and until then I will be with you in whatever way I can manage, even death.
With all the love in my heart,
"Nikola?" a soft, familiar, and concerned voice asks. "Nikola, can you hear me?"
His eyelids feel like they're made of lead, and internally he lets out a ferocious growl like only his vampiric side can. This was supposed to work, dammit, not leave him in a state of paralysis with his overactive mind well at work. It was supposed to kill him. How hard was it for Nikola Tesla to make an effective vampire poison? He had managed to create a death ray with the technology of the '40s, for goodness' sake!
"Nikola, it's Helen. If you can hear me, I would like you to please open your eyes."
This is more than enough to break the spell of his paralysis. His eyes blink open, and he can practically feel his pupils contracting as he adjusts to the bright, sterile white of the Sanctuary infirmary. He pushes his upper body off the bed with sheer force of will, and the movement causes a prolonged sense of vertigo – something rather remarkable for a vampire. A hand flies to his head, and he rakes it through his hair before immediately regretting the movement. His hair is oily and he can feel the oil sticking all over his hand and he really would love a shower before his hair becomes too monstrous to control, which must be really saying something because he can go for weeks without his hair feeling like this, now that he's back in his vampire form, so–
"How long have I been out?" he asks suddenly.
Helen looks at him sheepishly, and he wonders what he's done wrong. There was a reason he was trying to kill himself, and Helen was involved, and something about admitting things that she wouldn't say easily, but it's all a jumble of confusing half-memories that he can't quite sort out.
"Three weeks," she says softly. "How much do you remember?"
He sits and stares at her lovely face while he's thinking. It's somewhat distracting, because though she blushes under his intent gaze, she doesn't look away. "Do you have anything for me to eat?"
She turns around and grabs a tray with the standard hospital fare on it. Nikola gives it a look like it's poison. With a sigh, she hands him a quart of their blood mixture and a bottle of wine.
"Take it slow–" she begins, but it's futile to continue when he's already gulped down half the blood and taken a long sip of wine. She sighs.
He begins to feel his mental facilities coming back online. He tries to remember what's happened by going backwards, but that yields no results, so he starts from the last thing he can clearly remember. He's speaking aloud, reciting a story that Helen remembers or has heard from her team, remembering more and more of it as he goes along, until he gets to his own "death".
"What I don't get is what happened after that. Or, how you're here. We are alive, aren't we?"
She grins at him, warmly, smiling like he's silly for expecting that they wouldn't be. "Whose story would you like first," she asks; "Yours or mine?"
"Yours please, love."
She smiles hesitantly, like his kind devotion to her is something she can get used to. "Apparently, my 'longevity' is not as simple as it appears. In your story, you included that in order to get us to safety, you had to feed on me. In the weeks that you've been unconscious, I've been running tests on my blood and yours, and the combination thereof. It appears that your feeding on me, while not enough to turn a normal human into a vampire, was enough to kick-start the preservation ability of the Source Blood in my veins. It was slow to work, but it worked eventually – coincidentally not long after you collapsed."
It's not the most ridiculous thing he's heard in his life. And since he managed to make the most ridiculous thing he ever heard in his life work, he's sure this is a suitable explanation.
"And me? Was my poison ineffective?"
Her reaction to his words is strong and startling. He wants to reach out and reassure her that he's here, he won't do that again, and he'll never do anything to purposefully hurt her.
"It was all too effective," she answers quietly. "In the end, I was afraid that I was going to lose you. In the second week, we were close to it. But then, the serum that I made from my own blood managed to bring you back. I've been watching you closely, and you were giving the closest to normal brain activity when I came in earlier."
"You saved me," he says softly. "What is this, three times now?" he jokes, but it's with a remarkably serious undertone that she doesn't miss.
"Only two, you cheeky bugger," she replies.
He grabs one of her hands, which is nearly lying on top of his own. "Thank you," he says simply and honestly.
"You're welcome. Oh, and Nikola?"
A gently teasing smile is playing at the corner of her lips, and he can't help but smile with interest. "Yes?"
"I love you."
Meanwhile, in a distant place, a young man stands on the edge of a tiny cemetery. This is not his first visit, nor is it his first alone, but something in his heart is coming dangerously close to settling into acceptance at this latest loss, and he has a sinking feeling that this will be his last visit to the cemetery for a long time. It's not that the trip is long, or hard, but the memories are long and hard and painful, and everyday living has enough of them at every turn. When he goes through a day without sensing her in every move he makes, or hearing criticism he's almost ashamed to admit he misses, then and only then will he return to this place, and make sure the memories last.
For now, however, there are no memories that are not painful, and he's had more than enough suffering for the time being. In order to start a new chapter of life, a chapter with new responsibilities and rules and leadership, he'll have to leave the last chapter of his life here. It was a wonderful part of his life, but it had to end one day. One day, the little boy had to grow up.
He walks forward, clutching the bouquet of flowers as a lifeline, and navigates the simple cemetery to the only double-wide headstone.
He wipes away the vines that are threatening to creep up the side of the headstone, and clears off the engraving from dirt. He leaves the bouquet on the ground that is slowly growing grass again and reads the inscription one last time, searching for closure he's scared to admit that he's already found. He had found it when he chose the words to write below their names:
Two immortals, fated to love, doomed to die.
A/N: So, I have a proposition. I am personally a huge fan of ambiguous endings. (Yes, I loved the end of Inception, before you ask.) That being said, in response to this final italicized part, my beta suggested that it would be the perfect opportunity for a twist. Of course, at first I dismissed the idea, regarding it as foolish to impinge upon the lovely ambiguity. However, it was an idea that sprung up in the back of my mind, and I have the beginnings of a deeper explanation. They're only beginnings, and it would probably take me a lot longer to write the rest than it did this, because I had more or less figured out everything I was going to write so far after I had finished a little.
So my proposition: Should I continue with this storyline? Or should I leave the ending ambiguous?