"Come on, Will, tell me! Where are we going? I thought we were going to the park…"
Will pulled Abby into the library, ignoring her giggling protests. She could drag her feet and ask questions all she wanted, so long as she kept her eyes closed. So far, she had.
Unlike Magnus, Abby liked surprises.
"No," he corrected with a grin of his own, "I said we were going to go on a picnic. As you can see…" Abby's eyes opened right on cue, quickly spotting the checkered blanket and basket spread out across the floor of the library.
She didn't make anything of the old phonograph sitting on the nearest table.
"I've kept my end of the bargain."
To his surprise though, Abby's excitement faded. "Will…"
"What? What's wrong?"
She looked at him, her features a mask of infinite patience. "I thought you might want to get out of the Sanctuary," she said softly. "I mean, I hardly see you as it is, and—don't you want to get away on your day off?"
Will turned to face her, letting his hands rest on her upper arms. The contact helped stave off the flutter of butterflies in his stomach. "Look, I know I've been like a hermit these past few weeks, but I promise, there's a reason I set this up—"
"Don't even try to tell me it's going to rain," she giggled, temporarily dispelling the growing tension. "The forecast said it was going to be sunny all week."
Will chuckled. "No, not rain—though, I happen to know a guy…"
He didn't—weather altercation was an Abnormality he had yet to run into. Still, Abby laughed, and he grinned in his success.
"The reason I set this up here is because in the park, I couldn't do this…"
He let himself trail off as he crossed to the table, and with careful deliberation, his fingers set the old phonograph in motion. He'd borrowed it from Magnus, on the express condition that he took the utmost care with it—her words.
With a little flourish, he gently let the needle rest on the similarly borrowed record, and the crackling strains of Frank Sinatra drifted from the plumed speaker. Turning back to Abby, will let a self-satisfied smile curl his lips.
"So? What do you think?"
Stunned awe flushed her cheeks, and her eyes crinkled with warmth. "You remembered?"
"That you wanted to go dancing? Yeah, I remembered." Will closed the distance between them, taking up the proper stance. Abby accepted his hand, and he pulled her close. "But since we don't really have time to go dancing properly, I figured this would be a good practice run."
"Yeah," he affirmed with a self-effacing grin. "So you can get used to dodging my two left feet."
"Nikola, please, enough!"
Tesla almost grinned at her obvious agitation. As it was, he let a smirk pass over his lips, knowing full well she wouldn't be able to see it from where she was storming down the corridor in front of him.
"Come now, Helen, surely you wouldn't make a liar of me," he pressed. "I promised your friend… Alfredo, was it?... that I'd bring you by his restaurant for a visit."
That stopped her in her tracks. She turned on her heel, and came stalking back down the hall towards him.
"You had no business making any such promises," she delivered sharply. "And you know full well that you promised him much more than a simple visit."
"Oh, yes, I'm counting on it," he returned undauntedly. When blue eyes cooled to an icy glare, he spread his arms in a shrug of innocence. "Helen, what harm could a decent meal possibly do?"
"I don't have the time for it, Nikola." She turned once more and continued her path towards her laboratory. "The sclerodopteryx needs its bi-annual physical, I have meetings with the heads of the CIA, NSA, and the FBI all in the next three days, and I've heard reports of chupacabra sightings in New Mexico."
Nikola's browed furrowed in consternation. "The chupacabra is extinct."
"I agree," came the terse response, "which makes the reports coming out of Albuquerque rather troubling, considering they are nearly identical to my father's notes. But it all stands as proof that I have too much to do to spend six hours at a restaurant."
"All it proves," he countered, "is that you're working yourself into a nervous breakdown."
He was following a little too closely—when she spun to glare at him, they nearly collided.
"Questioning my state of mind will not get you what you want, Nikola She was interrupted by a burst of high, giggling laughter.
It surprised them both, and it was only then Nikola noticed that they had drawn to a stop outside the library. The low voices of conspirators could be heard from within, and the familiar crooning of Sinatra could be heard in the background, faint but enticing.
He shot a look to Helen, whose gaze held just a much curiosity as his. He smirked.
"Oh, after you."
He gestured to the familiar door with a flourish, which she followed with a roll of her eyes. He trailed a few paces behind, glad for the distraction. The longer he kept her from working, the better his chances of wearing her down about dinner.
Upon entering the library, Nikola realized he wasn't the only one hard at work wooing a lady friend; for there was young Wilhem, wrapped up in the arms of Abigail the quaint little FBI agent, both flushed and wincing from their mutual clumsiness.
Helen cleared her throat, bringing the children's attention to her with enough force to give them whiplash. Instantly, Wilhem reddened, and his spine went ramrod straight.
"Oh, hey, guys," the boy stuttered in his typical fashion. "We were, ah… we were…"
"Dancing?" Helen supplied, less irritated than bemused. Nikola recognized the tone; she was an adult among juveniles.
"Trying to, at the very least," Nikola observed drily.
The two shared a sheepish glance. It was Abby who took up the blushing explanation.
"Yeah," the agent hemmed. "Sorry if we disturbed you, Doctor Magnus. We were just trying to teach each other to dance…"
Nikola glanced at Helen, and found her features warming into a smile. "Well, I'm always a fan of working to better oneself," she huffed lightly. A sculpted eyebrow arched gracefully. "However, if neither of you know how to dance…"
Huggy Bear and Snookums both grimaced sheepishly.
The sweetness oozing off of them was sickening, but Nikola had to admit that they might not have had the wrong idea. In fact, as his mind began to turn, he grew more and more certain that they had absolutely the right idea.
The phonograph clicked then, and the song restarted. The beginning measures drifted from the nostalgic old player, and Nikola grinned when he recognized it.
If he recognized it, so would Helen.
Making a split second decision, he turned towards her and, with a gentle roll of his wrist, extended his hand.
Abby stared in fascination as the pale scientist waited for the doctor's response. For a long moment, Dr. Magnus didn't move, and her eyes narrowed ever so slightly, as though she was looking for a hidden agenda in the offer. Whether or not she found one, Abby didn't know, but in the end, a slender hand settled deliberately in the proffered palm.
Mr. Tesla instantly broke into a triumphant grin and pulled Dr. Magnus close to him with a confident tug of the hand. She came easily, and as soon as she had situated herself in his hold, they fell seamlessly into easy tandem.
Their steps were light and graceful, sure in their movement as they glided across the smooth floor of the cavernous library. They kept it basic, at first, with Doctor Magnus glancing pointedly at her audience as though to say, watch carefully.
But as they continued, Abby saw Will's boss soften. Those startling, sometimes cold, blue eyes brightened, and then started to sparkle as she relaxed in her friend's arms.
A moment later, Abby knew she wasn't the only one who noticed, because as soon as the doctor's lips began to curl into a smile, Mr. Tesla swung them both into a series of twists and steps that would have made Abby dizzy if she were in Dr. Magnus' place.
True to form, though, the dark-haired woman took it in stride, matching the scientist step for step with the ease of a natural dancer. Abby loved to watch others dance—she had her guilty pleasure trove of celebrity dance competitions on her DVR to prove it.
But watching the two of them took her breath away.
A glance to her right showed that Will was watching with similar awe. A smile played at his lips, but the wide, stunned stare in his eyes sent a jolt of unease through her.
Will had never mentioned that held any sort of desire for his boss, nor had the enigmatic doctor ever been anything other than a consummate professional in Abby's presence. Still, the first tendrils of jealousy were making themselves known, working their way deeper into her thoughts even as she tried to push them away.
Magnus was attractive— gorgeous, even— and there was something about her that drew people to her like moths to a flame. Abby had accepted that as a fact of life the moment she'd met the woman.
But the look of wonder on Will's face made her wonder: if he had a choice, who would he pick?
The slithering little voice in the back of her mind whispered that it wouldn't be her, the small town FBI agent trying to fit into Will's crazy, spectacular world. She'd always been on the outside of what he did here, even after he'd read her in on the basics of the Sanctuary Network, and watching the doctor with her longtime friend only widened the gap.
There was something deeper going on here, and she, in all her glory of her skills in behavioral analysis, had no idea what it was.
Will didn't realize he was staring until his eyes started to sting. He blinked the burn away—and then continued to stare.
It had been months since Magnus had smiled. At least, it felt that way. It'd been even longer since she'd looked so relaxed, so happy.
She was beautiful. For a few short minutes, the ever-present burden lifted from her shoulders, giving the woman beneath room to come out to play.
And play she did.
She grinned, and more than once she laughed as Tesla spun her this way, twisted her that. Their movements were effortless, born from decades of practice and a cultured upbringing. And for a brief moment Will knew he wasn't watching two immortals, a vampire and a veritably timeless woman.
They were simply Helen and Nikola. Two friends, enjoying a song and sharing a dance. It was a glimpse into the past, into the future.
It was magic.
But all good things come to an end—even magic. The music faded to a raspy static from the phonograph, and the two slowed their dance until they stood breathlessly still in the middle of the library.
Magnus was still smiling, her eyes twinkling with delight, but Tesla's features had darkened.
Will was surprised at first, but then he saw how close they truly were. Cheek to cheek and leg to leg, the tip of Tesla's nose just brushed the foremost locks of Magnus' hair.
It was intimate, he could see now, far more intimate than either of them had intended.
The shadow that had settled over Tesla's countenance was not irritation or annoyance—it was desire.
Almost as soon as Will connected the dots, it seemed Magnus did so as well. Her eyes widened, and she froze like a deer in the headlights. Swallowing thickly, she stepped out of her friend's embrace. Tesla let her go, but his gaze never faltered.
Will saw the emotions play out over her features. Lingering delight clashed with the sudden guilt of having put her friend—whose affection for her she well knew—in such a position. Her mouth worked silently for a moment, before she gave up the effort with a short huff of a sigh.
Will had never seen her so flustered, and Tesla looked positively tickled at the effect he was having on her. Magnus' cheeks reddened even further.
"Cheers," she blurted, bobbing in place ever so slightly.
Will choked on a laugh—was that a curtsy?
Before he could think any harder on it, Magnus spun on her heel and escaped the suddenly silent room. The rapid clicks of her heel on the tiled floor echoed long after she was out of sight, and all three of them stared after her with wide eyes.
For an instant, Will thought Tesla might go after her.
When he didn't, he thought the man would be angry at her dismissal. But to his surprise, Tesla turned to face them, his features creased in a familiar, toothy grin.
Will rolled his eyes, as clearly the man was no worse for wear.
"And that, children, is how it's done."