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15 November 2009 @ 01:26 pm
Sanctuary Fic: His Mother's Son  
Title: His Mother's Son
Rating: K+
Characters: Helen, Henry, Kate, Tesla, Will
Pairing: None (gen)
Spoilers: 2x03
Summary: It's Henry who finds her first...

Author's Note: A follow on of sorts to 'His Mother's Pupil', looking at the family relationship between Helen and Henry.

"Magnus, Druitt, come in..."

Henry waited, giving them plenty of chance to respond.

Still nothing though.

"God damn it!" he barked sharply down the radio, communication protocol out the window. "Where are you guys?"

But there was only more silence and he huffed, a mixture of concern and frustration. Okay, maybe not so much concern for Druitt. He had no major beef with the guy but they weren't really chummy. Druitt wasn't exactly part of the team either and so Henry didn't feel overly surprised that they hadn't heard from him. He'd probably just teleported himself god knows where and was having to make the slow way back.

But Magnus? This wasn't like her. If she could, she would have responded, letting them know that she was okay. The fact that she hadn't made Henry sick to his stomach, his brain going into overdrive; she could've been hurt, he reasoned. Or knocked out. Or kidnapped before he'd got the EM shield back up. That was assuming she was even still alive...

He'd tried not to think the worst but it didn't help when he'd looked at Will and the Big Guy and saw the same grim concern on their faces too.

They'd split up, each heading off in a different direction to search. Henry had run into Tesla, the vampire complaining indignantly about the hole in his suit before adding a snide remark about how long it had taken to repair the EM shield. Henry had ignored both complaints but couldn't hold his temper, snapping that Magnus was missing and that the other guy should get off his preening backside and go look for her. He didn't think that Tesla felt exactly reprimanded, but the one positive thing Henry could say about him - apart from the fact that he really was as smart as he made himself out to be - was that he genuinely cared for Magnus. He'd hurried off to join the search without wasting time on further comment.

Henry's own search led him down to the labs. Their silence was eerie and he convinced himself that that was the reason why he jumped when he first heard the sound, not because he was a coward and his nerves were shot to hell. He instantly paused in one of the massive stone corridors, listening carefully, trying to figure out exactly what it was and where it was coming from. After all, he didn't know what had gone on down here and one of those super-abnormals could still be around.

Deciding that it didn't really sound dangerous, he followed the noise, although still not about to take any dumb risks. He stepped cautiously up to the next junction, peering round the corner and hoping not to be seen if anything sinister was waiting there, his eyes quickly adjusting to the brighter lighting in the room ahead.

When they did, he fumbled at his belt for the radio as he set off at a run. "Will, I found her. Down in the lab."

There was a muffled reply but he'd already stuffed the radio back onto his belt and so didn't get a word of it.

He'd found the source of the sound all right; Magnus was sitting on the floor of the lab, sobbing uncontrollably.

He reached her side, dropping to his knees next to her. They bashed sharply against the solid floor but he ignored the shoot of pain, concentrating on his boss instead. Her arm was slashed and bleeding and he went to check for other, more serious, injuries but immediately she was clutching at his shirt, knuckles white, burying her face into his shoulder, still crying her heart out.

Henry sat there frozen, stunned into inaction and numb as to what to do. It wasn't as if he didn't care that she was upset, but this wasn't something he was used to dealing with. He'd know her for twenty five years and he'd never seen her like this. She'd seen him cry; because he'd lost blue ted, because he'd fallen and broken his wrist, because that ass-wipe Billy Minchin was picking on him...Sometimes he'd seen her sad, had even seen her eyes red rimmed with tears, but he'd always pretended not to notice them.

There was no getting away from this though.

He felt painfully awkward as she clung unrelentingly to him, still sobbing. This wasn't what they did, he kept telling himself. This wasn't their relationship. She'd been his tutor and he'd grown to respect her more than anyone he'd ever met, but they weren't the huggy, 'let's share our feelings' types. She had her daughter for that.

But the nice guy in him got the better of the uncertain one, and he hesitantly wrapped his arms around her, patting her back. It was lame but it was the best he could do right now.

Glancing around the room, trying to figure out what had happened, his eyes caught sight of Kate lying on the floor.

Shit...

"Kate?" he called out hopefully, knowing he was going to have a hell of a job prising himself away from Magnus to go check her.

To his relief though, the other woman groaned in irritation, rolling onto her back and waving a hand to signal that she was okay.

Satisfied that she wasn't just putting on a brave face, Henry turned his attention back to Magnus again, sobs still wracking her body, her breath all fast, uncomfortable sounding gulps.

"Hey, it's okay," he soothed, hating the fact that instead of comforting he sounded positively disturbed by seeing her in such a state. "Are you hurt? What's wrong?"

As soon as the words left his mouth, he was struck with a sickening realisation of what her answer would be and he wished to god he could take them back. He didn't want to hear it.

But she spoke, her words like a gut punch.

"Oh god, Henry..." she choked out. "It was her...It was really her...and then...She must have known the shield was up..."

She didn't make total sense, but she didn't have to. No explanation was needed, it was quite clear what she was saying.

Ashley had teleported. She was dead.

A lump rose tight in his throat, threatening to choke him, his eyes burning hot as he rapidly cycled between not quite being able to believe it and knowing deep down that it was true. There was nothing else he could imagine that would leave Magnus like this.

He tried desperately not to think about his little Ash, but he was assaulted with unwanted memories. He could still recall so clearly how he'd been kind of angry that Magnus was having a kid and how, even when she was born and was just an innocent little thing, he'd called her a brat when her mom wasn't in earshot. He remembered how, as a toddler, she'd broken that dumb plastic doll she used to drag around behind her and Magnus had insisted she give it to him to fix. And yeah, he'd sulked, but he hadn't been capable of willingly upsetting a sobbing four year old. He still recalled vividly that stupid beaming grin she'd given him when he'd returned Sally-Ann to her, head firmly reattached. He'd felt almost frustration that he'd grown to care about the kid. Magnus really hadn't helped matters by telling Ashley that she should give Henry a hug to thank him. He'd complained afterwards, saying that she'd left snot on his jacket and had told her to get out of it and go play. Things had never been the same again though. She'd been his little Ash after that.

They'd been a family; him, Magnus, Ashley and the Big Guy...

And, damn it, now he was crying too and that wasn't going to help anyone.

Hurried footsteps saved him, announcing Will's arrival, Tesla close behind him. The Big Guy was nowhere in sight; perhaps somehow he already knew.

Henry looked up at them, viciously rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand, Magnus still crying next to him. She didn't sound like she was ever going to stop.

Will was good with people, he knew how to read them. That was probably why he looked kind of sick when he took in the scene in front of him, apparently guessing in an instant what it meant.

"Ashley?" he asked quietly, seemingly more in hope than expectation.

Henry slowly shook his head. He couldn't say it.

Will bowed his head a moment, pinching the bridge of his nose and muttering something under his breath. Then, with a grave look on his face, he hunkered down beside the pair of them, rubbing Magnus's back with a comforting hand, telling her how sorry he was.

Kate, now sitting up, looked awkward, as though she believed that she had no right to see this but had nowhere else to go.

Tesla took in the scene for a long moment, his eyes fixed on Helen before he turned and walked away without a word. Apparently he couldn't stand to see her like that.

For once, Henry could sympathise with him.

*****

It was several days later when Henry first stepped into Magnus's office, alone with her for the first time since he'd found her in the lab. He knew she'd be there, all of them having retreated to their own private sanctuaries in the past few days; Will to the library, the Big Guy to the kitchen and Kate hiding back in the infirmary. Druitt had left, storming out in a quite epic fit of rage and grief when he'd found out what had happened. Tesla had been more composed, but had followed him out the door. Henry didn't know where they'd gone but he really hoped they were kicking some Cabal ass right about now.

Henry himself had run away to his lab, surrounding himself with the familiar equipment, keeping busy by making sure the security system was up and running again. The EM shield needed resetting, but he was reluctant to do the shut down required for that; after all, they hadn't completely accounted for all the super-abnormals. No, a few more days of precaution were needed before he considered risking it. In the meantime, he'd fixed the graphics bug he'd found on one of his tablets, put back together the PC he'd stripped in order to tune it up, finally oiled the squeak in his chair and finished up a dozen other jobs he'd put aside in the last few months. But , all too soon, he'd run out of things to distract himself and that was why he was at Magnus's door, finally feeling like he had no choice but to face up to things.

Upon his knock she called out for him to enter, giving him a sad but kindly look when he opened the door and she saw who it was.

"Henry," she greeted quietly. "How are you?"

She looked pleased to see him, but at the same time drawn and haunted, like her one hundred and fifty odd years had suddenly caught up with her. For the first time in her life, Helen Magnus looked old and it chilled Henry, making him extremely uncomfortable.

"Just wanted to tell you that security is all back up and running," he said, self consciously rubbing the back of his neck with his hand. "I haven't reset the EM shield yet. There's a few anomalies in the signal but it's holding and I don't want to risk leaving us exposed again."

He hesitated, the resurfacing guilt hard to take. It made him blurt out the confession he'd meant to ease into.

"I'm sorry," he sighed with a shake of his head, not sure if he was looking for forgiveness or reassurance. "If the system had been better in the first place..."

"It wasn't your fault."

But in his eyes it had been. If he'd been better at his job, then they wouldn't have been forced to take such drastic measures to stop Ashley. Tesla could've had more time, could've perfected the stun gun...

"I raised the EM shield," he said grimly, "I-"

"Did what you had to in order to protect this facility and the organisation it houses," Magnus cut in without hesitation. "Just as I asked you to."

Her voice and manner were stronger than they had been in the last few days, more composed. But, even when she was trying to be firm with him, there was still a fragility in her tone that made him feel even worse than he already did.

"I wish I hadn't," he said, finding that he couldn't stop talking now that he'd started confessing. He struggled through the lump in his throat, having to swallow hard to keep going. "Ashley would still be..."

For some reason he still couldn't bring himself say it, especially not in front of her.

Magnus sighed heavily, maybe sympathising with him, maybe a little frustrated that he'd feel that way. "Sometimes we have to make the hard choice for the greater good."

It came out like a mantra, too rehearsed and too collected. He knew that she must be feeling like he did only a hundred times worse. It was her own daughter, for Christ's sake. Her earlier show of emotion had unsettled him but this calmness was almost worse; like she felt she needed to hide things from him. To put on a front.

"Magnus, Ashley's dead," he stated with blunt anger, voice cracking with the emotion of having finally said the words.

It was cruel, making her face it head on like that, but he didn't want her to hide from him. He wasn't a kid any more who needed protecting.

He half expected her to angry at him, but she just gave him a look of pained sympathy, rising out of her seat. She stepped up to him, taking him by the shoulders, looking directly at him.

"I am always proud of you, in all you do, Henry" she said. And although it didn't seem to quite fit with what he'd said, she appeared to understand the deeper feelings behind it; the sense of uselessness, of having failed everyone. Of letting his family down.

"But never more so than in the last few weeks," she added, laying her hand on his cheek for a moment. "You've exceeded everything I ever hoped for you."

He watched her swallow hard, something flickering beneath the surface of her gaze. She hesitated a moment before speaking again.

"If anyone's to blame, it's me," she said with a heavy sigh of confession. "I allowed the two of you to go on that mission when I wasn't certain about it. I should have trusted my instincts."

Henry immediately shot that idea down, hating to hear her blame herself. That wouldn't do anyone any good.

"Me and Ash would have snuck out and gone anyway."

Magnus gave him a slightly watery smile. "I know. Don't think I didn't realise you used to sneak her out of the house so she could go to concerts when she fifteen."

Even though he was caught out, Henry smiled a little in return.

"Neither of us were known for our subtlety," he admitted with a small shrug. Wasn't that the truth? He sometimes didn't know how Magnus had put up with the pair of them when they were kids, all the stupid crap they used to get up to...

It caught him then; how much he was going to miss the little things. How he wasn't going to see her any more, how they wouldn't chat about dumb stuff and wind each other up because they could. His resolve crumbled without warning.

"Oh shit, I'm gonna miss her..."

He didn't even hesitate as Helen held out her arms with a soft 'come here', hugging him gently whilst he properly cried for the first time since he was eleven.

She wasn't his mom and had never tried to be. But even so, when she held him and whispered that it was going to be okay, he believed her in a heartbeat.

He could just hoped he could find the strength to say the same thing to her.
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Aislynn: Sanctuary - Helen/John soul slidesageless_aislynn on November 15th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, that was beautiful! Such a very sad (but in the good fic way ;) ) look at their grief and all of the ways they would handle it. Henry and Helen both sound exactly as they should. Great job!

*sniffles a bit more* Poor Ashley... :(

;) ♥!
verseblackverseblack on November 15th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
What a nice look at the relationships here! Lovely, and painful.

And as a Tesla fan, I especially liked the line about him complaining about a hole in his coat :)
Tacit_Hooligantacit_hooligan on November 15th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
Brava!
Thank you for writing this fic. One thing I've absolutely hated about Ashley's death and its aftermath is how the writing never showed us any of the characters except Magnus and Druitt displaying any sort of grief for her outside the memorial ceremony where it would, of course, be expected of anyone who attended. That has made it seem as if none of the characters except Magnus ever actually knew Ashley, and only Magnus and Druitt cared about her. That's lowered my opinion of the characters and the writers. It's great to see that someone else thinks there ought to have been some reactions to Ashley's death worth writing out of Henry, at least.
tiwtin: Ashley/Henrytiwtin on November 15th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
That made me cry. Brilliant writing.