Written for nextgreatadventure who "wants all the helen/will ever" :) as part of the Sanctuary_Santa lj community.

This is clearly an AU now is it was written before the finale.

Originally archived at AO3/Archive Of Our Own ... Which is where you should look me up (samantha_mckay) if you want to read all of the really lovely explicitly smutty fic I write. Or on lj under the name dr_helenmagnus (incredibly tacky of me to use that name I know lol)

I own nothing of Sanctuary unless you count the name Helen because it does appear on my birth certificate. You don't count that? Yeah, I thought not.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Helen Magnus stood atop the one place of her Sanctuary that was indeed her sanctuary. Arms crossed she leaned against the parapet and gazed into the lights of Old City in the distance. This was her place of refuge, but this time it felt anything but.

Both she and Will had crossed lines, and their confrontation over Abby's treatment had been far worse than any previous fight they had had.

She had watched him walk out of her office far more angry than she had expected and she couldn't help but feel both hurt and guilty.

She was a woman who was used to getting her way. 'No' was not a word that Helen Magnus was often told, and while she believed that she was right in her course of actions she also knew he had not been wrong. It was the reason she had chosen to bring him into her world, he was as uncompromising in his beliefs as she was hers.

The conversation, and not quite apologies spoken in the hallway did little to mend them. She could still feel the sharp sting of his angry words about not being able to save the ones they love. The suggestion that their work wasn't worth the pain had stung. She had to believe it was, that it always would be.

He certainly wasn't the first protégé she'd taken. Though he had been the only one she had hoped would one day take over her own house, perhaps the head of the network. It's days like this when she's unsure why she'd wish it on anyone. Once she had thought he was perfectly shaped for this, now she realizes that maybe he didn't want any of this, how could he?

He deserved a real life, a family, something without the threat of danger at every turn. She'd give it all to him if she could. It hurts, and she knows she should let him go, but she's selfish and won't push him further away. She wants, no needs him there by her side in the heat of whatever battle they face for however long he stays.

...

Will wonders if it's all worth it some days. Seeing the woman that he loves nearly die at the hands of the woman he would once follow anywhere. Now he can no long look at her without feeling bitter resentment.

She's changed, he thinks. Harder, darker, far more battle scared than he remembered. He thinks that maybe that's exactly it. She left to chase down Worth and came home a different woman, she's not the woman he knew. That woman is gone now and he's not sure how he's supposed to come to terms with that.

She says that most everything is the same, only small things have changed. The couch in her office has been rearranged, pictures hang in different spots on the walls. The kitchen paint is different, and the button to the basement in the south lift no longer sticks.

He wants to believe her, and if she were his Magnus he might. But 113 years have passed for her and she's not his Magnus any longer.

When he had joined the Sanctuary he had told her "If we're gonna work together, the first rule, the only rule is that you're straight up with me." He realizes now, she gave mostly non answers then. Though she's certainly lived up to her promise of the adventure of a lifetime. He just wonders how long that lifetime might be and at what cost.

He's been trying to make things work. He's gained so much since starting work at the Sanctuary. Some days however, the losses tip the scales. He thinks if he stays that he might turn into Magnus, but he pushes that thought far back in his head. There is a war brewing, how can he walk away now? So he does what he's always done. He packs his bags, boards the planes, and follows her once more into the breach. He starts to regret it again about the time he's laying covered in his own blood on the floor of a collapsed cave in Bolivia. The bullet is really not helping convince him that he should stay.

...

By the time they scale back down the mountain and reach the rented jeep he's crashing again. Will feels the mineral laced water dribble into his mouth and the energy surges through his body once more. The trip passes in a blur of bickering until the reach they small airport and Magnus arranges for a pilot to take them home.

By the time the wheels touch down in Old City there is just enough water for another dose and a sample for tests in the lab.

Exhausted he slips into a fitful sleep and wakes later to find that he has been moved into his own room. She's sitting in a chair reading a stack of papers which he finds out later were the results of the tests she'd been running. The IV in his arm itches and his mouth is dry.

They try and speak, they both have so many things to say. In the end nothing is really resolved. Magnus doesn't offer up her secrets and Will is left once more wondering how much longer he can take any of it.

The IV stays in for a couple more days and he's relieved when he's finally weaned off of the mineral solution she's been dosing him with. He's tired of being angry, it's left him feeling hollow and tired. He was so sure he was angrier than he feels now. But the anger isn't entirely gone, she's still hiding something big and in the end she still made all of the decisions that he thought were bad in the first place.

...

It comes as a surprise, the day after she releases him from her infirmary, when he snaps at her again. Her face falls slightly and he can see the hurt he's just caused before her usual mask is put in place. He's promptly kicked out of her office and the cloud of anger he leaves in his wake hangs heavy in the room.

It's been miraculous that they haven't killed each other by now. The dust of the caves is long washed away and the physical wounds have mended, but still when it's just the two of them it reminds her of being on the sub with him. Like all of the air is being sucked from the room and it's only a matter of time before shes suffocating.

The tea on her desk grows cold and she gives her pen a workout. She starts six times before she's happy enough not to drop the letter into the paper shredder by her desk.

Will,

A single set of years laid out before you. I think about that every day .

You can no more imagine the heartbreak of five lifetimes worth of pain and anger than I can imagine what it must be to pack everything into a single life span. I've lived more than everyone I know, yet sometimes I think I've lived less. Truly lived. Time is a fickle thing, and though it stretches out before me seemingly endless, for many years my life was not my own. I am a keeper of time now, destined to watch it scroll by like a silent movie.

You are not the only one. I've paid for the education of many children, many people who didn't join me in my work. I brokered no deals, they made no promises. And in fact most were never approached with the option to join let alone know me or my work with the Sanctuary. I offered my life's work to you, and more than that, the personal secrets I had not shared with anyone before you. You have always been more than just a protege to me, you always will be.

You're angry with me now for something that happened just a few short years ago for you, for choosing to open the paths you would take. For me it's been more than a century, more than all the years you will ever live. I cannot regret it, we have shared far too much for me to do so.

We are so very alike you and I. I can only hope that you'll still be here to discover that for yourself. That you will perhaps one day train your own protege and pass on the importance of our work here...

The words on the paper had long since dried yet she was unsure that she would ever finish or send it.

She's not sure she can, she's also not ready for World War Will, and she's fairly certain that that fight will be the one to break her.

She misses the simplicity of who they were when she had first brought him into the fold. There were no complex and messy emotions then, only wonder and excitement.

Now they pretend to be fine, do the work and try not to push so many buttons.

She doesn't finish the letter, but she does slide it onto his desk a few nights later. She can't take this anymore. She misses him.

...

When Will reads the letter he feels like an ass again, but he's unsure what to do about it. Eventually he takes tea to her office in an offering of peace. When he enters he catches a look on her face that he's pretty sure matches the one she wore nearly everyday in Carenten. The one full of sorrow and frustration, and the littlest bit of hope.

Her words pierce the silence. "I'm sorry, I wish I could have changed it all you know."

He knows, her losses have left her a shell more often than not. It was never fair for him to accuse her of using them all. Sometimes he forgets that she's as human as he is. That she's just trying to get by in the endless sea of events that will one day be her history long since passed.

"I know," his words are quite as he sets the tray at the edge of the desk. "I'm sorry too, it's not fair to blame you for the choices I make, you don't control me "

He collapses into her couch and closes his eyes. "So what do we do?"

He feels the couch dip down with her weight and opens his eyes to look at her face.

Now he understands the strange hesitant look she gave him that day in the cave when she demanded he stay awake. When she leaned in and turned her head to press her lips to his cheek.

She swallows thickly and her words are a whisper.

"No more secrets? Full partnership? You can't take it back once you decide."

He's not sure if she's speaking to him or to herself. He realizes that this was most of the anger. The secrets she's been keeping from him, making him feel like a pawn.

He surprises himself when he reaches for her hand and clasps it in his own. "No more secrets," his statement leaves no question that this is what he wants.

Her other hand comes up to cup his face, her thumb brushing against the stubble on his jaw. She nods softly and he realizes that she's nervous, and that perhaps this is the first time he's seen her like that. He doesn't have time to contemplate that before she leans in and presses her lips to his before quickly pulling back.

"I don't want to lose you Will. I haven't been honest with you since I came home. For you it was merely a day, for me... Will, I held my breath for a lifetime hoping that I'd be coming home to the same people. I've already lived without you Will, I don't want to risk that all again."

His pulse is erratic and he's unsure as to what exactly it is that she's confessed.

"I'm not going anywhere."

She's sure he doesn't yet realize the gravity of that statement. "You wanted to see what I've been hiding Will, you can't make that a promise."

The idea that she's holding something big enough to change that scares him. But for the first time he realizes that he doesn't actually want to leave their work, he wouldn't know what to do with himself if he did. And now he's fairly certain that their feelings have been a part of the secrets for awhile now. He doesn't know where he's following her to, or what lies ahead. What he does know is that this is the Helen he remembers, the one he's always been more than a little bit in love with. The one he would give everything for.

"I'm ready."

She smiles a sad smile and reaches for him again. This time when she makes contact he can taste the tears forming as she whispers against his lips, her forehead pressed against his own. "You're not, but secrets don't make for a great partnership, and I need you for this one."

He thinks that he should perhaps feel guilty somehow, but he can't recall why. He brushes aside everything that isn't her, and with hands still clasped allows her to tug him to his feet. She switches off the cameras in her office with a few taps to her keyboard before she starts her story.

"I wasn't honest when I said I changed nothing in the past..."

A/N:

Many thanks to my husband for beta reading this one. You know it's true love when...