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Illusions of Sunlight (Nothing but Stars)

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Magnus comes out of sedation slowly. The doctor Declan brought in had warned them about this. Between the cocktail of drugs and the ozone beetle, no one can be exactly sure when Magnus will wake up. It doesn't matter to Will. He will wait. He perches on the edge of the bed, holding Magnus' hand and leaning back against the wall. The doctor says she'll most likely be confused when she wakes up, and Will wants to make sure she at least doesn't feel alone, too.

She squeezes his hand almost an hour and a half after they take her to what serves as the recovery room for the Sanctuary. Such a little gesture to cause such a big impact: relief floods his gut, washing away the terror and worry of the last week.

"Hey," he says and squeezes back.

Magnus' eyes flutter open and she tries to say, "Hey," in return, only for her voice to break halfway through. He grabs the glass of water off the nightstand left there for just that purpose and helps her navigate the straw to her lips. She takes a tentative sip.

"It's good to have you back," he says.

"Back," she says in reply, sounding uncertain. "What happened?"

"You put an ozone beetle in your own head and then let us think you killed the Big Guy. We did figure out who was behind the leaks, though. You were right about the telepath."

"Telepath?" she says, stumbling over the syllables. "Will, I think something is wrong. Something has been done to me. I don't remember."

***

They do every scan the Sanctuary is equipped to do and a couple that require Henry to do some jury rigging. Magnus squints against the light, but she doesn't say anything. Will turns the lights down anyway.

Magnus stays quiet through most of the testing, watching as Henry and Declan fiddle with machinery and Will and Kate just try to keep out of the way.

It is disconcerting. Magnus may not babble like Henry, but she always has incisive questions and instructive comments, especially in situations like these. Today, she is quiet, and that combined with the sterile medical rooms puts Will on edge. Magnus doesn't seem much better than she was in hiding in the warehouse basement.

Declan's phone rings, startling both Will and Magnus. He answers it in hushed tones, as Will soothes Magnus back on the infirmary bed.

The scans bare out Will's fears. Either the beetle or the surgery has caused brain damage, that much the equipment can tell them. No machine can tell them if Magnus will ever heal.

***

"The political situation is poor," Declan says. Kate is sitting with Magnus, but the rest of them have gathered in the parlor to discuss the situation at hand. Declan's phone has been ringing off the hook since this afternoon, and Henry has intercepted six separate attacks on the Sanctuary's security systems.

"I've been confirmed as interim head," Declan continues, "but I don't have the same pull Magnus did. People are testing the boundaries, trying to grab for more power now that everything is up in the air."

The Big Guy grunts in agreement. "Someone is provoking this."

"You think this is something more organized than a settling-in period?" Will asks.

Henry nods. "We've been looking into the incidents, running some analysis. It looks like all the incidents that involved tech are getting their tech support from the same person."

"So we're looking at an organized attack," Declan says.

"Against you or against Magnus, that's the real question," Will replies.

Declan sighs. "No idea, mate. Probably both of us."

"Who've you pissed off? Besides me?" Will asks lightly.

"There is a faction that is questioning my judgment in allowing Magnus to stay here, instead of having her immediately moved to a secure medical facility," Declan says.

"I am listed as her primary physician. And in my medical judgment it would be better for her to stay here," Will responds.

"Your medical judgment doesn't mean a lot to these people. Half of them think I'm keeping Magnus here so she won't get better, and the other half think I'm keeping her here so that I can hide the extent of the damage and play the power behind the throne. The chief of surgery at the Norway facility is starting to feel snubbed as well. And he's not wrong. We aren't getting anywhere and they are trained for this sort of thing."

***

Kate sits with Helen because she can't stand listening to the guys talk about Magnus like she's a problem to be solved and not a human being in pain anymore.

She's dragged one of the overstuffed armchairs up from downstairs and positioned it in the far corner, so she can see Magnus and the door at the same time. Whatever drugs Will has her on, they've knocked Magnus for a loop, though she does seem more in touch with reality than she had had when she first woke up.

Today, Kate's on lunch patrol anyway, so she brings up food for both of them. Magnus sits up in bed, which is an improvement from yesterday when she didn't even move when Kate came in.

"Jell-O again?" Magnus asks, poking at the blue, jiggling cubes.

"Henry swears it has healing properties. He insisted I bring some up, and I figured, in this place, well, maybe that is how Jell-O works here."

"It doesn't. I just told him that when he was a child. He was running such a high fever, I'm surprised he remembers," Magnus says fondly. She eats a piece voluntarily, and then pushes the tray away.

Kate sighs. "You've got to eat."

"They're going to keep me here forever, aren't they?" Magnus asks. "Locked in a room, fed Jell-O and oatmeal, never allowed outside again."

Magnus has been paranoid, but Kate thinks that this is just a logical extrapolation of the situation Magnus has awoken to. The guys are downstairs arguing about whether Magnus should be kept locked up here, or at the Sanctuary's secure medical facility in Norway. None of these arguments allow for the possibility that Helen Magnus will feel the sun on her skin any time soon.

"The scans they did showed brain damage. They're just worried that something will hurt you," Kate says, thinking that the guys are more worried that Magnus will hurt someone else.

"This is my home," Magnus says. "I am safe here." She trails off, going slightly unfocused as she stares at the covers of the bed. She runs her fingers across a blanket Kate had last seen in Magnus' room, handwoven with a dozen bright colors.

"Where did you get it?" Kate asks, knowing that there must be a story behind the blanket.

"Cabal," Magnus spits at her, suddenly. "I will not answer your questions."

Kate should be used to the rapid changes, but she's not.

"I was," Kate says calmly. There's no point in lying. Magnus hasn't become forgetful and she hasn't become less intelligent, she's just confused, paranoid. As far as Kate understands it, the scans show damage in places in Magnus' brain that discern fact from fiction and regulate emotion. On top of that the beetle caused permanent changes in how Magnus' brain regulates its chemical balance. The drugs are supposed to be fixing that, but as far as Kate can tell, they aren't doing that much.

***

"She's not getting better," Declan says.

"She's getting worse," Kate adds, pacing behind the back of the couch. She can't keep still, even though she can tell her pacing is driving Will around the bend. It's true, though: Magnus is having mood swings, bouts of paranoia and violent outbursts. There is damage to her visual cortex, so even the sensitivity to light has not abated.

"I can try a cocktail of drugs," Will says, "but I can't do much more than treat symptoms. I've got the Big Guy digging up every reference to ozone beetles and brain damage I can find in hopes that something will turn up, but nothing yet. This wouldn't be an easy thing to handle even if it was straightforward brain damage or typical schizophrenia."

"Maybe we should send her to Norway," Declan says again. "At least they have the time and staff to devote all their energy to her care."

"They're strangers and they don't know anything we don't," Will says.

"Guys, it's this simple: Magnus wants to stay here, so she stays here," Kate says.

***

They have to put Helen back in restraints when she grabs Kate's gun and tries to shoot Declan.

They take turns sitting with her. Henry spends his shifts rambling on about tech upgrades that he's looking into for various Sanctuary systems. Kate tells stories, ones her mother told her when she was little. The Big Guy chants. Declan talks about James. And Will? Will mostly sits quietly and hopes for a miracle.

Magnus rarely ever makes eye contact. When she does, it's most often a precursor to accusing them of kidnapping, of sabotage, of betrayal. Sometimes, though, she looks at Will and lets him hold her hand. Sometimes, when Will is holding her hand, she's Magnus again, wanting to know how her Sanctuary is running, how her people are doing. Sometimes she promises that the drugs have worked, that she is all better, that they can release her, and when he won't, the screaming begins again. And sometimes, so very rarely, Magnus looks at Will, squeezes his hand and admits to being scared.

Those times are the worst. If Magnus was always gone, Will wouldn't have to hope that the next doctor or shaman or healer abnormal that Declan tracks down will be the one who can fix this.

***

John Druitt teleports himself into Magnus' room with Nikola Tesla in his grasp. Kate pulls her gun, ready to shoot if need be, but Will doesn't even get up. The new drugs aren't working yet and Magnus is still in restraints and neither Will or Kate is sleeping, so supposedly-dead, teleporting Oxford grads really aren't on his top ten list of worries right now.

"Helen," Nikola says, rushing to the bed, totally oblivious to the gun. John doesn't rush, he just teleports the two feet so he is on the other side of Kate and her gun, close enough to take Helen's other hand.

"I'm here," Druitt says so softly Will's heart almost breaks for him. "I'm here," Druitt repeats, "and we are going to get you out of here."

Druitt's fiddling with the Posey restraints, and that's when Will pulls his gun. "Druitt, you can't. Step away," he says.

Nikola's claws are at his throat in seconds. Kate's still got her gun trained on Druitt, but he leans down and says, "Don't worry Helen, we're not going to let these children hold you prisoner any longer."

"No, you are going to kill me, just like you killed Ashley!" Helen yells at Druitt, shrinking away from his touch. Druitt reels back as if she had punched him.

"Helen, what have they done to you?" he asks in horror.

The whole tableau is enough to shock Nikola out of his claws, though not before they leave ragged, red scratches across Will's throat.

"Helen?" Nikola asks, and there is no snark in his voice, no arrogant overtones, just concern and confusion.

"She's been like this since they took the beetle out. It was in for too long. There's permanent damage," Will says.

That's when the Big Guy and Declan crash through the door.

"Welcome to the party, boys," Kate says, just as Nikola asks, "Beetle?"

***

"She is my responsibility," John growls.

"She was never anyone's responsibility but her own, Johnny," Nikola hurls back. "We were just here to facilitate a rescue."

"You know that was never why I agreed to help you. And now, I'll see to it that she's cared for."

"The bylaws clearly state that she is the Sanctuary's responsibility," Declan interrupts. "James would want..."

"Fuck your bylaws," Nikola says, and Will has to step in before John takes off Declan's head. Will's had bad days before, but refereeing a fight between Jack the Ripper, the only living Vampire, and Sherlock Holmes' widower is not exactly good for his health. Especially since Declan is probably the only person in the room who would think twice before killing him.

"She's staying here. This is her home. This is where she is most comfortable. You can't take her away from her life, not when there might be the slightest chance she could get better. Tesla and Druitt are both welcome to free use of the guest rooms," Will says, even though it kills him to give John Druitt the run of the place.

"You don't have the authority to do that," Declan says.

"I may not have the authority, but I have the power," Will says. "If these two here suspect that you are going to take her away from them, what do you think is going to happen? Do you think the Cabal has anything on the army that Tesla and Druitt would raise to get Magnus back from you?"

The way Declan's face pales, Will is sure the man has some imagination left. That, or Watson had told enough stories about the good old days to sink in.

"Fine," Declan says. "But neither of them are allowed to be unsupervised when they visit Magnus."

***

"Why would she do this to herself?" John asks, slumped in the parlor chair.

Nikola is in no mood to sit, so he answers mid-pace, "This is Helen we're talking about. It was a part of some grand plan."

"She would never endanger herself."

"Johnny, really? Helen has absolutely no problem endangering herself. You were there in Normandy, and I have it on good authority you showed up at the Somme, as well. You've watched Helen do her thing on the front lines of battle."

"That was war. This? This is putting an abnormal inside her own brain."

"Were you not paying attention when she insisted on being the first to use the Source Blood?" Nikola demands.

"That was for science," John says, and Nikola sighs.

"Does it matter why she did it? She did, and now we need to deal with it before these incompetent boys send her off to a facility and ruin everything she has worked for."

"So you want to take over the Sanctuary?" John asks.

"If it will keep Helen safe, I will do anything," Nikola replies.

"What if we use James' machine?" John says. "We could raise the settings, increase the healing factor..."

"The healing factor doesn't work like that," Nikola says.

"You can make it work like that!" John roars, and Nikola actually takes a step back.

"If it would work, I would do it. You of all people know that."

John shoves Nikola up against the wall and wraps his hands around his neck.

Nikola sighs and then breaks the hold with a massive dose of electricity. "We're fighting now?" he asks, as John lays on the floor gasping.

"No," John says once he catches his breath.

"Good," Nikola replies, and then offers John and hand up.

***

"She won't die of old age," Declan says softly. "We'll be long dead, and she'll still be here. Her and Nikola. John, too, if he can work out a way to stay alive."

"Maybe her brain will heal, given time," Will replies, swirling the alcohol around his glass just to have something to look at.

"And maybe a few hundred years from now, Magnus will be just as brain damaged as she is now, and with no one but a vampire and a serial killer to look out for her."

"If we let the Sanctuary take over her care, it will be just as bad. Worse. At least she knows Druitt and Tesla. You want to leave her with strangers."

"Doctors who know what they are doing. Doctors who have protocols written for continuity of care for long-lived abnormals."

"Protocols that Magnus wrote."

"Exactly. She wrote the protocols knowing that she could be subject to them, just as she wrote the articles and the bylaws. I can't think of any reason not to follow her explicit rules, just because it's Magnus," Declan says.

Will raises an eyebrow.

"Fine, besides the fact that Druitt and Tesla would have me killed."

"Kill you themselves, more like," Will comments.

"Magnus does have the most bloody-minded friends, doesn't she?"

"You were the one who basically married Sherlock Holmes."

"His vices mostly lay with drugs and alcohol and being right all the time, not so much blood and murder."

"Point."

***

There is something so very wrong about watching Jack the Ripper tenderly cradling a woman in his arms, so Kate doesn't think of him like that. He's just John Druitt: angry bald guy. Will swears that Druitt and Magnus have been together on and off for a hundred and fifty years, and Henry was the one who told her that Druitt was Ashley's father. Kate trusts Magnus, even now, and she's never seen Druitt kill anyone, though she knows he and Tesla cut a swath through the Cabal.

On the worst days, Magnus picks John over all the rest of them. She screams and she hits him and when she can do nothing else, she curls up into him and he reads to her. Sometimes it's poetry and other old British stuff Kate doesn't recognize. Other days he reads her the stories of the Five. The Invisible Man, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes. He doesn't read them as is. Every once in a while she catches something she knows isn't in the original, and it finally dawns on her that he is changing the stories to reflect the truth, to make them more like the escapades Magnus might remember.

Today Kate brings files, and sits in her corner, trying to give them as much privacy as she can, especially since Magnus is lucid at the moment.

"I'm sorry about having to be here," Kate says when she walks Druitt out.

"In our youth, you wouldn't have been quite the proper chaperon, but it is not that much different." His tone is almost fond.

"I've never been known for my propriety," she says with a smile, and when he smiles back, just a bit, she realizes she's coming to like John Druitt.

***

Nikola put himself on the mission list a week after he and John discuss exactly how this is going to play out. For Helen, they can have a unified plan, at least for now. Once they take over the world, well, that might be different.

Still, Helen's Sanctuary needs looking after, especially now that James isn't around to do the job. It is also a tremendous resource for bending the world to his will. That's not how Helen saw it, of course, but Helen stuck a brain-eating beetle into her head, so who is she to talk?

He doesn't even get his mission before they all see action. Terrence Wexford's strike team is fully prepared to take on Helen Magnus' best defenses. It is easier to attack a place when you know all their security procedures, he supposes. They aren't prepared to deal with Nikola Tesla or John Druitt or even Helen Magnus herself.

Once the fighting is over and Declan and Kate are overseeing the prisoners, Nikola makes a beeline back to Helen's sickroom.

He is unsurprised to find Helen, still in pajamas with a gun in her hand and three dead bodies around her feet. One of them is Wexford, himself. Helen hands Nikola the gun, and he just pulls her into his arms, laughing.

***

John eventually admits to being the one who gave Magnus the gun. "She obviously needed it," he says.

"And it wouldn't have bothered you if she had shot the rest of us while she was at it," Will says under his breath.

John shrugs, with half a smile on his face. He clearly wouldn't have cared if Magnus had taken out the entire world, let alone a few of her underlings.

Will walks out of the meeting and goes to wander the halls in hopes of clearing his mind. He has seen so many wondrous things in these halls. Creatures that the outside world has never seen. A vampire, a werewolf, and Big Foot. Terrible things too, death and greed and destruction. Even so, this place is his home now, and it feels empty without Magnus here to run it.

He wanders through the SHU and down past the labs. The hallways lose a bit of their splendor as he goes, changing from Persian rugs and ornate side tables to gray paint and concrete floors. Utilitarian hallways lead to storage but Will is drawn by the commotion down at the loading dock. They get deliveries all the time. Their food consumption alone requires a weekly semi-truck load, so the fact that a delivery is being offloaded isn't surprising. It's the contents of that delivery: Declan has had his things shipped from London.

Will starts to give up hope.

***

John is stalking the halls, throwing angry glances at everyone who passes him. Nikola should have seen this coming, but Helen is having a good day, and she asked for him in the morning, so he's been walking around locked in his own head ever since.

John has been even easier to anger since the attack, and all that blood on his hands hasn't done anything for his stability. Nikola can see the cravings returning, even if all anyone else notices is John's anger.

It is very apparent when John corners Declan in the library and the yelling escalates from there.

"Let me take her away from here. I will keep her safe," John growls.

"We keep having the same argument, and I keep giving you the same answer," Declan says. "Magnus expressed her wishes to stay her, so Magnus stays here."

John looms over Declan, and for a moment Nikola thinks this is all going to descend into fisticuffs. Kate must be thinking the same thing because she reaches out and puts a hand on John's arm to calm him. He flinches away from her.

John storms out, but Nikola sees his eyes when he looks at Kate, like he'd enjoy taking her apart bit by sinewy bit, and so Nikola follows.

As soon as they are safely out of sight of the children, Nikola slams his fingernails into John's chest and lets the electricity ride them down into John's heart.

John spasms for a second before sinking to his knees. Nikola lets him alone for a moment, letting John regain whatever composure he can.

"Sorry about the shirt," he says finally.

"The shirt? Not the holes you just put in my chest?" John counters.

Nikola leans down to help John to his feet. "It was either that, or watch young Miss Freelander put a clipful of bullets into your chest when you went after her with a knife."

John scoffs. "I'm a bit faster than that, dear Nikola."

"Be that as it may, the whole thing would have been an unnecessary distraction."

"A distraction that didn't figure into your plans."

"That, too." Nikola shrugs, like it makes no difference to him, but they both know it does.

***

Declan puts down the mutiny through pure force of ill and a little rumor that Druitt and Tesla are backing him. It helps that Wexford is dead.

He and Will hatch the plan over one of the few bottles of red Nikola hasn't gotten to yet,

"They aren't the two members of the Five that everyone wants, but Watson and Magnus are indisposed at the moment, so Druitt and Tesla will have to do," Will says.

"They did wipe out the Cabal between the two of them. No one can doubt the amount of firepower they bring to the situation," Declan replies, leaning back in the leather arm chair.

"Just as long as there's no call for diplomacy.'

"True."

Will shifts, staring at the flickering flames of the fireplace. "I'm getting the feeling that Tesla has a plan and Druitt is in on it."

"Better Tesla's plans then Wexford's. He would of had us at all out war with the rest of the world in less than a month," Declan says before sipping his wine.

"Tesla did try and revive the vampire race to take over the world."

"He might do a sight better than the current governments seem to be doing. He'd split his time between the lab and the wine cellar and let everyone get on with their lives."

"And also craving blood."

Declan smiles. "Okay, maybe we shouldn't let Tesla take over the world."

"Deciding is the easy part. Actually keeping him from doing it..." Will trails off.

"It really is more Magnus' department, isn't it."

"Yeah."

***

This time it's a shaman. She's been flown in from somewhere in Eastern Europe; Will wasn't exactly paying attention.

The woman is a professional, explaining to Magnus exactly what she is going to do and when. A good half of the people they have brought in don't bother to talk to her at all. They pretend like Will is the only human in the room and Will assumes up front that they will fail. He's been right so far.

"You won't feel anything. You'll just gradually fall asleep," Dr. Fieraru explains to Magnus as Will listens.

She begins chanting and Will watches. There is nothing else he can do. Magnus falls into a deep a peaceful sleep, and if this does nothing else but that Will will be appreciative. Magnus hasn't been sleeping soundly since this all began and some decent rest can only help.

Dr. Fieraru chants for almost an hour, her skin glowing orange as she does so. She's an abnormal, someone Magnus rescued a lifetime ago, someone who owes Nikola Tesla a huge favor.

"We'll let her sleep for a while, and then do a new set of scans when she wakes up. With her unique physiology and if everything went well, we may be to see new growth in the brain tissue in as little as two hours. We also may not get anything at all. I cannot say. You will stay with her?"

"I will," Will answers.

Whatever she's done, it's taken a toll on her body, and she shuffles out the door like a much older person.

Once they're alone again, Will takes up his spot on the bed, leaning against the head board with his feet hanging off the side. Magnus has opinions on shoes on the furniture. Someday, he's going to put his feet up on a coffee table and she's going to deliver her lecture and then they are both going to laugh together again. Will is still holding on to that day, even as he's beginning to believe Magnus will never be the same again.

Will sits with Magnus, and waits for her to wake up. Maybe this time the cure will work. Maybe Magnus will wake up and take her Sanctuary back, put down the rest Wexford's splinter group, and knock Tesla and Druitt back into line. Maybe she'll wake up and smile and tell him he's done a good job, but that's she's got it from here. Maybe. He believes in hope, after all.

"Please let this work," he says out loud.

There is no response.