kageygirl: (sanctuary helen will hug)
[personal profile] kageygirl
Sanctuary, Helen/Will, PG-13, 1300 words. For challenge #7, romance, at [livejournal.com profile] sfaflashfic.


Floriography


"Were you expecting something from Declan?"

Helen looked up from the report she'd been skimming to see Will leaning in through her office doorway. "Nothing in particular. Why?"

"Well, 'nothing in particular' just came in this morning, priority, addressed to you personally."

She stood up as Will ducked back into the hall and reappeared with a cart holding a small shipping crate, labeled for live vegetation transport. She shook her head at his questioning look. "Honestly, I've no idea."

Together, they prised the lid off the crate, and Will scooped out a wad of packing material to reveal a Lucite case. Helen lifted it out, and stared at the little potted flower inside in astonishment. "Oh, my God."

"What is it?"

She turned the case slowly, gazing at the distinctively pointed leaves, the petals of the rosebud as green as the stem. "Rosa angioflora. They're nearly extinct. I haven't seen one in over a century."

There was a small envelope taped to the front of the container. She pulled it off carefully, and read the note inside as Will carried the case to her desk.

And then read it again, blinking quickly to clear her vision.

"Magnus?" Will's voice was soft, as was his brief touch on her upper arm. She drew in a deep breath before turning to meet his eyes.

"According to Declan, James left strict instructions to send me the first seedling, were the London Sanctuary able to successfully induce reproduction in the specimen they'd acquired. And not to inform me about it beforehand." She glanced back down at the note. "How terribly sentimental of him. I should mock him appallingly, had he lived to see this."

Will gave her a moment, his eyes very gentle, and then said, "So, tell me about the plant."

She lifted her chin and nodded, accepting the kindness. "Rosa angioflora is a limited sympathetic polychromatomorph."

She watched his brow furrow as he parsed the phrase. "So, it changes colors in response to..."

"To the emotional state of those around it." She stepped back to her desk and unsealed the case, setting the pot with care on her blotter. Will stopped beside her, eying the flower.

"Really?"

"If left untouched in a room, the petals will gradually change color to match the mood of the occupant. But with more direct contact..." Thinking of James, she traced a fingertip along the velvety tip of a single petal. A pale pink blush rippled outward from the point of contact, washing over the rest of the rose in a matter of seconds.

"Wow. I've never been much of a flower guy, but that is seriously cool. It's sort of like an organic lie detector." He looked back up at her and showed his teeth in a cheeky grin. "Or a mood ring."

"In fact, they were once used precisely that way, by the very wealthy," she said, and smiled as he gave the angioflora a quick, incredulous glance. "You've heard of the language of flowers?"

He frowned in thought. "Red roses mean love, that kind of thing?"

She nodded. "The reactions of the angioflora were the original basis for the system. Very few people knew that, however, and meanings were quickly ascribed to a wide variety of other flowers as well."

He crossed his arms and grinned at her, bouncing on his toes, all mischief. "I'm guessing a young Helen Magnus was on the receiving end of quite a few significant posies."

"I always considered communicating via bouquets to be horribly imprecise, and not a little objectifying."

"That's not a no."

She raised her eyebrows at him without answering, and he gave her a rich laugh. Then he turned to the angioflora and leaned in close, resting his hands on her desk, angling his head to take in the details from different vantages. "All right, show me how this works."

So very like James in that way. And yet James had rarely occasioned her to have to rein in her more feral impulses, as Will did, the urge to coax those grins forth with her hands, to taste that laughter on his lips. She gave in to a more minor indulgence, and took his wrist in her hand, guiding him towards the flower.

"It's not going to bite me or anything?" he said, his tone light, and she turned her head to find that he was watching her, eyes sparkling. They were very close together, now, and she wasn't entirely sure whose doing that was.

"It's a plant, not an animal, and a harmless one at that," she said, and her own voice was quietly bright and intimate. "Just be careful--they're very delicate."

"I can be gentle," he said, and the faint, self-conscious flush across his cheeks told her that the double entendre was deliberate. His skin was warm under her hand, and she stroked her thumb across the back of his wrist to watch his eyes widen minutely, that flush deepen.

She was a terrible person and should have been ashamed of herself, but she'd been told the same thing so many times before that it had ceased to have any effect. Shamelessness was much more fun, anyway.

Taking pity on Will, she turned her attention back to the angioflora. He reached across and brushed the backs of two fingers along the underside of the furled petals, and the rosebud burst into a brilliant, vivid blue.

Genuinely astonished, she dropped Will's wrist, and he drew his hand back, studying her face. "What is it? Is that a bad thing?" He smiled at her, with a tinge of apprehension. "I mean, that's not a normal color, right?"

"No. No, it's very rare." She had to clear her throat. "Mystery," she said, forcing a smile. "A blue rose signifies 'mystery'."

"Well, that's... appropriate," he said, and chuckled, though everything in his bearing said he didn't entirely believe her. He was too clever by half, sometimes, but she wouldn't have it any other way. "Are you all right?"

"Fine," she said, and knew she'd answered too quickly. "I'm fine." But she couldn't quite keep from staring at Will, and she didn't like to consider how her face might have been betraying her.

After a long, charged moment, he wiped a hand over his mouth and gave her another quick smile. "Well, I should probably get back to..." He pointed a thumb over his shoulder, towards the door. "Unless you need me for anything?"

She shook her head slowly, and he headed for the hall. Before he got there, she called out, "Will?"

"Yeah?" he asked, turning back to her without hesitation.

She dropped her eyes to the angioflora again, still vibrantly blue. Unless her eyes were playing tricks on her, it was starting to unfurl. She straightened up, looked Will in the eye, and said, "I never liked flowers in lieu of conversation. But as a gesture of affection, I find them quite eloquent."

"Yeah? I'll keep that in mind," he said, and nodded slowly, holding her gaze, his eyes shining. Then he turned and left the room, and she drew in a deep breath, wondering what madness was overtaking her.

Will was a capable researcher. She had no doubt that by the end of the day, he would have discovered that she had held back other meanings ascribed to a blue rose.

Enchantment.

Seemingly unattainable love.

Achieving the impossible.

She looked back down at the rose, now well on its way to full bloom. "Thank you, James," she murmured, and played her fingers over the tips of the newly exposed petals.

One after the other, they each turned a deep, lovely pink.
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