Chapter 8

Based upon Sanctuary, created by Damian Kindler

. . . ~ ~ . . .

Henry walked up to the mermaid's habitat. He looked around in it for her. First, he looked at the surface, expecting her to be with the Eaglet. He saw neither of them. She swam up from deep within the tank, surprising him a little.

He put his hand on the glass, she did the same. "Hi, Sally." He paused. "You go by Catherine now, right?"

"Whichever you prefer, Henry."

"Okay, um, Catherine." Henry paused, a little embarrassed. He wasn't sure if he could just ask his question, and he certainly didn't know how to ask her.

"You have a question, Henry?"

He nodded.

"You may ask if you're ready."

Sometimes, when he spoke to the mermaid, he felt like he was six years old speaking to his grandmother. "What do you think about Druitt?"

"I like him. What do you think about Druitt?"

Henry released a nervous chuckle. "You're right, that was kind of a stupid question. I guess what I meant to ask is . . ."

"You wish to know if John is safe."

Henry nodded. "Yeah. It's just . . . Magnus has been wrong about him before, but you . . . You're a telepath."

"Even though I never spoke with him before he was freed; but I could sense the presence of the elemental, even though I didn't know that's what it was at the time. Even when it was dormant, I could sense it in him. I can no longer sense it. He is himself."

Henry sighed in relief.

"The news you were hoping for?"

Henry nodded. "Yeah, and it just proves that you always should trust Magnus."

. ~ .

"Hey, Doc, you got a minute?"

Helen looked up to see Henry walk into her office. From his tone, she sensed that that this was not a conversation to have across a desk. She stood. "Of course," she said, rounding her desk and taking a seat on the couch.

He sat next to her, then stood and sat across from her, then stood again to move.

"Henry, sit," she stopped him from continuing to jump nervously.

"I wanted to apologize," he said.

"Apologize? For what?"

He wrung his hands and avoided eye contact, she tried to remember a time she'd seen him so ashamed. It might have been when she caught him filching cookies from the kitchens. "For not believing you about Druitt."

Her eyebrow rose.

"I didn't believe you when you said that he wasn't Jack the Ripper anymore. I was just too worried about Erika and the baby and . . ."

She leaned forward and placed her hand on his. "Concern for your child is never a bad thing."

"I should've trusted you."

"Henry, it's alright."

"No, I should always trust you. If he what he did for Catherine, he's not Jack the Ripper anymore." The confidence in Henry's tone actually surprised Helen a little. If Henry was so sure he was safe, perhaps she could be as well. "You were right, he's nothing like he used to be like. Umm . . . Recently used to be like. . . . You know what I mean."

She afforded him a soft, motherly smile. "I know what you mean, Henry." Henry thought John was the man he had been when they were young. "To be completely honest, I knew he was free from his elemental; but I've been finding it difficult allowing myself to trust him . . . on a personal basis."

Again, he surprised her with his tone; this time understanding and almost wise. "You're the doctor, but . . . That's not because you're worried about him slicin' necks. You've been single for a long time."

She smiled again. "When did you become the adult of this relationship?"

Henry shrugged with a cute smile. "Hey, you got me."

She reached over and squeezed his hand. "Thank you for trusting me, and convincing me to trust myself."

Henry made an exaggerated frown as Helen stood. "I am the adult now, aren't I?"

She laughed as she left him in her office. She had someone else she needed to speak with.

. ~ .

There was a knock on the door of his quarters. His pacing stopped. It was Helen, he knew. He went to the door and opened it. She looked slightly nervous, much less so than he felt.

"Please, come in." She did and he closed the door behind her. She stood in the center of the room, not taking a seat on the settee. "I have said things I regret," he admitted.

"So have I."

"Anyone in your past is your business; you've done nothing wrong. I'll not accuse you for walking the path on which I set you. But, I have always loved you, Helen, and the distance between us now - physical and emotional - is . . . painful."

"John," she tried to speak.

He held up his hand and took a step closer, though it seemed much of the room was still between them. "I know that the things I've done are not easy to forgive; nor do I expect you to forget them. However, as you said, I am a different person now. But, a person who loves you with all his heart and is constantly wounded by our separation."

"John," she tried again. "Yes, there were things that I thought I could never forgive. However, one hundred thirteen years of strategic avoidance does wonders for forgiveness. And you are right, you a much different person now. As am I."

He took another step closer, somehow there was now little space between them. Her breathing quickened. He smiled. "You are not so different. Your body still reacts to mine."

Her eyes drifted closed for half a second and her tongue wet her lips. "I would not be myself if I did not react to your presence," she admitted. Helen turned and retreated from him. "When we were young, you were the cause of," she thought, trying to turn her emotions into words, "curiosity. Because of you, some of my interests changed and I began to wonder what it would be like to be a wife.

"Then, after you first took me in your arms, your nearness caused a shiver in my heart and an overwhelming desire to be with you. And John . . . Things were . . ." she smiled. "I'm sure you remember how wonderful it was.

"And, when you," tears welled in her eyes, but she ignored them and continued. "When you lost yourself, your presence caused a sickening betrayal; but the desire was still there, still prevalent. I was forced to smother it with anger and hatred.

"But, over the years, the wound of betrayal has tempered to a scar and the anger and hatred have faded. All that is left is the all consuming desire, and fear."

"Fear of what?" he asked her, leaving the distance between them.

"I've lived long enough to see history repeat itself; quite literally."

He took a tentative step towards her. "For the first time in my life, I am truly in a position to offer you everything I have and everything I am. The others may come and go as they please. However, for better or for worse, I am confined here. Even if I were not, I would rather stay here and serve you than do anything the surface has to offer. There is nothing for me there; but there is everything for me here." He took another step to recover the physical closeness between them.

"We are not so different, are we John? Abnormal creatures dependant on the environment of the Sanctuary to sustain us."

His hands found her waist. "Ghosts, with only each other for solace."

She took his face in her hands and brought his forehead to rest on hers, her eyes shut. "It's been a long time, John."

"Fear?" he asked.

She opened her eyes to his gaze. "Of how powerful we are together, of how dependent I am on you."

"My soul is entirely dependent on yours. And the power; that is not to fear, Love, but to cherish."

The air was deathly still between them and without a moment's notice, they shared their first kiss in over a century - or two, depending on how one was counting.

"I would," she whispered.

"What?" he asked.

"Have another child with you, were it possible."

She released his face, and slung her arms around his neck as he shifted his grip on her; their bodies pressing against each other.

"As would I."

"I, too, have always loved you," she admitted.

"Then be mine." He placed small kisses starting from her lips to her ear. "For all eternity."

Her fingers ran along the back of his head, where his thick dark locks had once been. "I think I have that time to give you."

. . . ~ FIN ~ . . .

Thanks for hanging in there with me, and please let me know what you thought.