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Grailhawk

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Grennen, who is five and blue and who even Kate admits is completely adorable, finds the fledgling in the courtyard, wraps it up in his t-shirt, and presents it to Declan with the sure knowledge that Declan can fix anything.

"His wing is hurt, Mr. Declan," Grennen says, and Kate has to use every bit of self control she has not to laugh at the serious expression on the child's face and the equally grave one on Declan's.

Declan takes the bird from the child, and cradles it to his chest like he is holding a kitten. The bird calms immediately. "I'll take him down the infirmary, but wings take a long time to heal, just like arms," he says and Kate knows there is history there that she has missed, as Grennen smiles and nods, and then skips back out the door.

Kate reaches out to touch the top of the bird's head, it's blue feathers look soft and downy. "Don't touch," Declan says, maneuvering the bird so that her fingers just miss the feathers. "This is a baby Grailhawk."

Kate tucks her fingers into her pockets just to be sure. "I like my scars just fine, birdie," she says, mostly to the bird, but she follows Declan down to the infirmary anyway. The staff clear them a table for the bird and Declan goes off to find someone with relevant knowledge for the situation, after transferring the chick to a cardboard box.

The chick clearly has something wrong with its wing, it is bent back and trailing at an odd angle, but Kate doesn't know enough about birds to know if the wing is actually broken. She can tell, though, that once Declan walks out of sight, that the thing gets agitated.

"Shh, little birdie," Kate says, trying not to feel stupid. "Declan will be back in just a minute." The bird looks at her, cocks its head to the side like it is either listening to her, or considering the best way to make her into breakfast, and then plops itself down in a corner of a cardboard box, just in time for Declan to set a hand on her shoulder.

"Thankfully, Dr. Ohara is in the building," Declan says. "She's an expert in avian abnormals."

"Sounds like the right woman for the job," Kate replies, still watching the bird. The London Sanctuary is better staffed than home, mostly, Kate thinks, because Magnus can do pretty much anything, and the few intricacies of modern plumbing that's she's missed, the Big Guy has covered. Will, Henry and she are mostly for guns and decoration.

"She'll probably want me to stay to help handle the hawk. You can stick around if you want?" Declan offers.

"Sure," Kate agrees, and pulls up two stools so they can both sit and watch the bird. "So, are baby Grailhawks just as powerful as their mommies?"

"We don't know. Or at least, I don't," Declan answers. "Grailhawks generally don't like humans or other abnormals. They live on the tops of mountains, and almost everything we know about them is legend."

"But they like you," she says, and taps him on the collarbone, right where the guairai scar should be and isn't.

Declan shrugs. "I didn't know what it was at the time. I thought it was just a large hawk that needed a little help. It was tangled in some microline-netting. James found me there, cutting it lose with a pair of safety shears and went pale. You see, Grailhawks can heal, but they can also destroy. They can touch a person and turn them straight to dust. Dr. Magnus suggested that their powers worked on an atomic level, breaking bonds."

"Trust Magnus to bring the science," Kate says, and lays a careful hand on Declan's knee.

"Once I had gotten it free, James wouldn't get anywhere near the Grailhawk," Declan continues. "Later, he claimed it was because he'd once heard that Grailhawks could cure Vampirism and he didn't want to find out how it interacted with the Source Blood, but he was always hesitant around creatures that could possibly extend his lifespan. I guess, by that point, he figured he'd done enough extending, himself. The Grailhawk didn't stay long after I had freed it. It took off, flew a lazy circle around our heads, and then landed on my shoulder."

Declan pauses then, staring at the little bird in its box. "It just stood there on my shoulder and stared at me. Then it brushed the edge of its wing against my face and took off again. The force of it drove me to my knees, and once I was able to stand, the scars were gone and so was the hawk. This is the first time I've seen another one."

The chick chirps, and they break eye contact to watch as it attempts to communicate something to them. Dr. Ohara makes an appearance at the same time, and Kate figures that is what the bird was so insistent about.

As predicted, the chick won't let Dr. Ohara touch it so, she provides instructions, and Declan provides hands, and soon, the bird is on the road to recovery. Kate watches the whole thing with a curious eye. Usually she sees Declan when he joins them for work that needs another set of experienced hands, or when--and this is just conjecture, but Kate feels pretty certain about it--Magnus misses Watson. Kate makes more UK trips than she used to, now that she and Declan are sharing a bed, but that still generally means there is a crisis brewing. She rarely gets to see Declan just being the Head of his House, taking care of the chores and the tiny, daily disasters of Sanctuary life.

"Come on," he murmurs to her. "If we go straight back to my rooms, we might actually make it before another crisis hits."

As soon as they cross the threshold, the tiny Grailhawk squalls up a storm, letting free with ear-piercing screams of rage.

Kate puts both her hands over her ears, and gently kicks Declan in the shin. "You jinxed us."

Declan sighs, and walks back in the infirmary door. The cacophony dies down into plaintive little squeaks.

"I take it, the bird is coming home with us," Kate says.

"Can it leave the infirmary?" Declan asks Dr. Ohara.

"Have you ever hand fed a baby bird before?" she counters.

"Yes, several times," Declan responds, and Kate files that piece of information away for later.

"Then since she's already bonded to you and none of the people I've sent out to search for her mother have seen hide or hair, she can spend the night with you."

"She?" Kate asks. Bird gender is not on her list of skills, either, but Grennen had called the bird a he, and for some reason, Kate had just assumed that five year-olds were better at this sort of thing than she is.

"Female, probably five or so weeks old," Dr. Ohara confirms.

Kate mimics the tilted head of the chick, staring at her as she stares at it. "I was going to call you Galahad, but the Doc here says you're a girl, so how about Morgan?"

"That's not how the story goes," Declan says, and while they are both distracted, Morgan hops over and headbutts Kate's hand, where her fingers are curled around the top of the cardboard box.

Kate pulls her hand back and quickly pulls up the sleeve of her shirt, checking for and finding the scar left from the bullet Jimmy had dug out of her. She lets out a sigh and only then realizes how relieved she is.

"Still there," Declan says, placing his hand on top of hers, both of them touching the scar.

"Still there." Kate nods and then turns back to the bird. "Thank you for not wiping me clean. I like those scars, birdie."

Morgan cocks her head to the side, and then nods, at least that's what it looks like to Kate.

Dr. Ohara returns with supplies, which end up in Kate's hands, as while she and Morgan may now have an understanding, no one is picking up Morgan's box beside Declan.

The trip back to Declan's room is slow: people want to peer into the box and ask questions and pat Declan on the shoulder. He is well loved here, part of the community. Little by little Kate is becoming part of this community, too. Some of the people who pat Declan on the shoulder touch her arm too, or offer her a smile.

James has been dead for almost two years, now, but Declan is the first new Head of House this Sanctuary has ever seen, and its residents were invested in their relationship. Kate had been hesitant to be in a public relationship with a man whom some might think should still be in morning. It is still a little surprising how much they like her. She's never been the girl you bring home for dinner. Not that dinner at the UK Sanctuary is anything like the traditional family sit down in Chicago. The last time she was here for a full sit down dinner, there were almost thirty people and the menu involved living octopi and something so spicy that even she couldn't enjoy it.

They stop to assure Grennen that the bird will be okay, and Morgan chirps happily at him. "You did a good job," Declan says to the boy with a smile and a pat on the head.

"Thanks," he replies with a toothy grin before running back to his father.

By the time they make it to Declan's room, Kate is ready to roll him onto the bed, but first Morgan has to be fed.

"At this age, it's formula every two hours," Declan says, repeating Dr. Ohara's instruction. "They age slower than normal Accpitrinae, not that Grailhawks are actual hawks anyway, though they are closely related."

"Mr. Veterinarian with the knowledge," Kate teases.

"Before I decided on the Army, James had me apprenticing with the vet staff. I wasn't half bad at it," Declan says with a shrug as he gets everything ready to feed Morgan.

"Then why the Army?" Kate asks.

"I was an idiot." Declan grins and shakes his head. "Don't get me wrong, the Army was the best thing I could have done with myself and I don't regret it at all, but I joined because James and I got into a fight. I wanted to prove I was a man, James wanted me to actually be a man. I was young enough not to understand the difference at the time."

"Don't look at me to judge you, you would not believe the stupid shit I've done to prove something, most of which I do actually regret," Kate says. Morgan ignores them both, happily chowing down on the formula Declan is providing.

"I don't regret that those actions brought you here," Declan says, and leans over to kiss her.

She kisses him back. "You are a sap, Declan MacRae."

"It's been said," he says, and kisses her again.

Morgan chirps, interrupting them, and Declan moves her back to her box, where she snuggles down in the warm next of towels and promptly falls asleep.

"Two hours?" Kate asks.

Declan makes sure that the box is safely out of the way and then pushes Kate down on to the bed and kisses her again. "Two hours," he replies with a grin.