So here's a (short!) tag to 'End Of Nights pt 2', with slight spoilers for 'Eulogy'. Maybe unoriginal, but hey, I've got to start somewhere! ;)
Til Human Voices Wake Us
Sometimes he wonders if he’s even still human.
Sometimes he hopes he isn’t.
That’s his first thought when he steps into the wide stone room, and half-notices Kate motionless against a wall, black hair fanning to hide her face, but he mostly only sees Helen in the centre, motionless in another way entirely, and knows instantly that he never wants to have to feel what she’s currently feeling.
She stares at the empty air with tears drying on her face, and her lips shape in silence one word, over and over again, and she doesn’t turn towards him at his entrance, and he thinks it’s as if she’s not there at all; as if the Helen he’s known for a century and a half has stepped right out of her body and left the useless husk of it behind.
He doesn’t ask what’s happened, because it’s obvious. Her hand (not the one over which rivulets of blood from a slashed arm are carving their dark paths) is still holding the handle of the weapon which he designed.
And, apart from them, the room is empty.
If John had reached her first, he would have come out with platitudes and useless emotions, but Helen’s never set much store by those, so Nikola skips them. In any case, he doesn’t know how he would conjure them up, should he want to. “You had to,” he says, and his usually sharp voice is blunt as it cuts the air.
She turns her head at last, and her eyes are wide and dark, and totally empty. “Had to what?” she asks, and her voice, too, is devoid of… anything.
“The weapon,” he says, because Helen’s always appreciated straight talking, and not dancing around tough subjects, and has always treated death almost clinically. “You didn’t have a choice. It was the right thing to do.”
She’s immediately on her feet, almost without there having been any noticeable transition to get there, and both her hands are empty, the fingers curled as if searching for something to grasp onto. “The right thing?” she asks, and her voice is still flat, but now hard as well. Somehow, he’s said something wrong.
He’s always admired how logical her approach can be, past what other people may consider a fault, and he appeals to it now. “Helen, she wasn’t Ashley any more. You know that.”
For the first time, her eyes flash with emotion, but it isn’t the heat he’d expected. They’re cold, like ice. Chips of obsidian. “How dare you,” she says, very, very quietly. Glacially. “My daughter.”
He’s not sure how, but somehow this conversation is careering off the safe path he had wanted to guide her along, and is racing unstoppably towards somewhere else entirely.
“She was Ashley,” Helen says. “She knew me.”
“You did the right thing – ” he begins again, and then stops, because her voice had begun trembling on the last words, and emotions aren’t something he can relate to, and so he doesn’t know what else to say.
“You think that I killed her. My own daughter.”
“No!” He takes a step forward, but her eyes freeze him to the spot before he can take another. “You may think it was you, but it was the Cabal. Believe me, I know how it feels – ” And he stops again, because his past while he was human is still locked away, and he won’t share it unless he has to. But he can see that she’s hurting, aching, maybe in agony, shaking as if she’s about to break apart, and he’s on the verge of disregarding everything he thinks he knows about her logic and dislike of extreme emotions, and begins to reach out to her with the awkward intention of trying to comfort her.
But just then Druitt enters at a run, and hardly pauses to for the scene to soak into his eyes before his arms are around Helen, and she’s clinging to him as if he’s a rock in a turbulent ocean, and the only thing which can save her from drowning.
“What happened?” Druitt asks, softly. “Helen, what happened?”
Suddenly, it’s as if Nikola’s not there at all.
“She saved me,” Helen says. “Ashley. She grabbed the other one, and…”
And finally Nikola realises what did happen. And realises that all he’s managed to do is to say completely the wrong things.
“The EM shield?” Druitt asks, and suddenly the ice in Helen’s eyes begins to melt and trickle down her cheeks.
“Yes,” she says, whispers.
Druitt holds her tighter, and Nikola isn’t noticed when he leaves. He walks out of the room and out of the Sanctuary and into the shadows with his hands clenched tightly and his jaw clenched against the urge to bare his fangs and scream.
And he thinks that maybe, after all, he’s still too much of a human, because he’s still in love with her, and it’s still just as doomed as it ever has been.
He doesn’t look back.
The Cabal are still out there. He thinks about them, and this time his fanged mouth curves into a smile, although it would hardly be recognised as such by an observer. He breathes, in, and it’s as if he can already smell the blood.
This, he can do for her.
Eta: Thank you, people on the Tesla GW thread, for your lovely feedback on this! :D