There were several things, Will had learnt, that you never wanted to hear within the walls of the Sanctuary. There was the hallow "click-click" of an empty weapon, the unique heavy slide of a tail which meant that the Gozam-raptor had finagled his way out of its enclosure, and, of course, the (empty) clinking of wine bottles which meant that Nikola had grown bored of the cellar and was seeking further entertainment. Will had experienced all of these first hand, and knew that each meant trouble: the kind of trouble that was usually followed by several painful hours. There was, however, one sound that trumped them all: the wince-inducing sound of Magnus saying "oops".
This was, you must remember, a woman who had endured and stood victorious over more things than to which any one person had a right. She had seen things, done things, known things, that were beyond human imagination. And so was it any wonder that Will had learnt to dread her "oops"?
The last time it had occurred Will had spent six days out of communication range on the side of a mountain. The time before that had him delivering a keynote address on microbial evolution because Magnus had double booked. The fallout of her "oops" were widespread, but always endured by him alone. Never before had he been so afraid by four little letters. It was for that reason, that upon hearing the disembodied "oops", Will halted midstep looking for the nearest exit.
It was late, even for him, and he had been making the trek from his office to his rooms, very much looking forward to his bed. He wasn't so naive as to think this his gentle warning of 'bedtime', uttered several hours earlier, had been heeded by Magnus, but he had thought her smart enough to at least seek less public refuge. Neither her quarters nor her office were anywhere near here; Will had thought himself safe.
As it stood, he had two options: one, he could continue to bed in the hopes of a good night's sleep that would help him survive what would undoubtedly befall him in the morning; or two, he could seek her out now in the hopes of cutting it off at the pass... but more than likely make it worse and be forced to deal with it in his currently sleep deprived state.
Will sighed, hanging his head, he was always a sucker for that dim ray of hope. Honing in on the dull racket he continued down the hall as he pinpointed her location, hoping all the while that tonight's disaster would at least be a quick one.
Discerning that the noises originated from the kitchen did little to assuage Will's concerns. He had learnt early never to assume anything when it came to his boss and mentor; seemingly harmless moments meant nothing – in fact, it usually got him into even more trouble.
Pushing open the door he was greeted with the unexpected sight of Helen Magnus elbow deep in dough and entirely covered in flour. Her once black pants were now a patchy grey, and the white of her blouse did little to hide her uncharacteristically dishevelled state. Her hair, which (he remembered) had been loose earlier in the evening had been drawn back from her face in a haphazard ponytail, tendrils of crushed curls left dangling, framing the earnest eyes studying the bench before her.
The bench, if it were even possible, was worse off than she was, with abandoned utensils caked with batter intermingling with ingredients in various states of preparedness. One spoon, having worked itself into an overhanging position was dripping batter disturbingly onto the floor before him.
The cause of her consternation was obvious, even to Will, whose baking skills were somewhat dormant; if in fact existent at all. Magnus was, somewhat frantically, kneading the 'dough' before her, attempting to work it into the correct consistency. Somewhere along the way, however, her 'kneading' had turned to scooping in a desperate attempt to keep the rather liquidy dough on the surface of the table. She spared half a second to glance at him lounging in the doorway and he was delighted to see the patterns of batter she had imprinted on her face, the result of careless gestures to brush away errant hairs. Will considered stepping in to help, but the image of Magnus failing so completely at something was such a rare one that he decided to (privately) enjoy it.
Crossing the room, Will pulled himself up onto a stool opposite her – carefully avoiding any goo as he did so. With several more wild scoops, Magnus was able to reclaim her liquid dough and contain it within its mixing bowl. She fixed Will with sharp eyes, daring him to say something, anything.
"Soo..." he drawled, "I thought you Victorian ladies were taught all the domestic arts."
She merely rolled her eyes at him, his jab being far lighter than she had anticipated - and, to be honest, far kinder than her own would have been. "My mother was never one for culinary affairs," she explained dryly. "But I could embroider you under a table."
Will snorted lightly, affording her a nod of the head as Magnus scooped all her utensils into the batter bowl, causing Will to flinch as they bounced slightly. It appeared to be hardening, and Will, who had never been one for premonitions in the past, was seeing a good portion of his future going to the scrubbing of this poor abused kitchen.
He watched her move with a fluidity that defied the chaos she had left in her wake. Her hand slipped into bags of ingredients, carefully measuring out the required amounts - and Will was comforted by the knowledge that she had at least began her forays with her usual order. She glided across the room to the pantry effortlessly and he was charmed in spite of himself to see that she had removed her shoes, stacking them neatly under the bench, to parade childishly in stockinged feet, her graceful movement enhanced by all her fallen flour.
"So what bought on this little experiment?" he asked, his sweeping arm encompassing everything from the wet flour caked in her eyebrow to the spatula seemingly (alarmingly) protruding from the faucet.
Noticeably calmer with a new (yet still horrifically crumbly) workstation, Magnus gave him an unusually earnest look, one that had appeared several times during one new chaos that defined their existence since her mysterious return from, well, wherever it was she had been. "Henry has been unsettled lately," she said quietly. "I thought some pie might help."
Will smiled but didn't comment. Henry had been out of sorts lately; he, even more than the others it seemed, was feeling the dynamic shift with Kate's relocation. Normally a private word or two from the 'Doc', a little personal attention, was enough to pull him from his funk. But this, Will noted, was personal in a way Magnus rarely did. It had been Kate who would join Henry in his lab late at night, two more interminable insomniacs to add to the bunch, with slices of pie from his favourite diner tucked safely in hand. Will hadn't realised Magnus had been aware of this, but then, there was little that escaped her keen gaze.
Her eyes turned wary at his silence, her assuredness now washed with new uncertainty. "I thought it might comfort him..."
Will's gentle smile broadened and he fell eagerly into the inevitable, anything to bring back the happy earnestness that had slipped from her face. "I think it's a wonderful idea – can I help?"