"There's no time to paint my pictures on this medieval wall / when I add the final colors they will crumble up and fall / and the changes are all by me if I stop to blink an eye"
After locking Will in the SHU (competently, temporarily, reluctantly, and by unfortunate necessity) Declan allowed himself a moment to relocate center and collect himself before re-entering the fray. The hallway he was in was not so very different from the corridors of his own Sanctuary, but the differences grated on already stretched nerves more than on previous occasions. He was here because Magnus needed him. Because The Big Guy was not available, on his way to Hollow Earth to visit Kate and see how things were going there. It wasn't often that Declan felt out of his depth or the wrong person for a job, but right now he felt like a very poor stand-in for Biggie. He wasn't a medic, much less a doctor or biologist (he hadn't yet hired someone to do Terry's job, either, and he needed to, dammit), he'd never had Will's unqualified or unreserved trust (which he understood, reasons and feelings both, but…) and Old City wasn't his patch. But Magnus had called and of course he answered; never mind that he didn't particularly fit the hole that needed filling.
And it felt just … wrong … to be using one of his primary skill sets against his own people, his allies, no matter how necessary it was. At least he knew what he was doing with a come-along grip and one of Henry's guns. Declan had no reason to think the same of Gavin, and that wasn't just ex-SAS opinion of civilian training, but what he'd seen of the man so far as well. Yes, Gavin was Abby's partner, and she and Will were a lot more than that to each other, but the entire point of Magnus' mad scheme was to save her. To keep her alive and return her to herself. Not that that was particularly comforting. Declan had known for a long time that needful things, no matter how right, rarely coincided with either easy or comfortable.
Declan took a deep breath and let it out slowly. How he felt about the situation really was irrelevant; just as how Will in his temporary prison felt was irrelevant at this point. There was a job that needed doing, a person to save, potential disaster to avert, and he was the man on the ground. He squared his shoulders and girded himself to find Magnus and see what next she needed done. James would have wanted several cups of very strong tea, were he dealing with this situation. Perhaps Magnus would too. He could certainly use some himself. He'd make a pot, then, to fortify them all for whatever was going to come next.
Tea delivered, advice (such as he had) delivered, surgical assistance delivered — and oh, if there were ever a time when if he could have transmuted himself into James Watson for half-an-hour, that was it. Not just for the medical-surgical aspect, but the make Magnus think (about consequences, repercussions, collateral damages) aspect. James had been one of the very few people on the planet who could get Magnus to listen, to reconsider a course.
Declan found himself taking the still agitated creature down to secure containment hardly more centered than he had been earlier. He tried counting up the positives: Abby was stable and preliminary prognosis good for complete recovery. Gavin was no longer wandering the halls and 'admirably imitating a loose cannon' as James had once dryly opined. Though that had been of a young and wet behind the ears government observer sent by the UN, nominally to assist in a delicate operation involving several diplomatic luminaries and a double-hand of young Hexapedalis Thurberensis. Creatures otherwise known as six-by-bears (or sixbies), though they were not even remotely related to actual bears, an one fitting neatly on a dinner-plate, six legs, silky fur, leathery, many-toed paws, whiffly nose and all.
Somehow it was much easier to think of the colony of sixbies now flourishing in the Norfolk holding than it was to keep his mind on the present situation. Though it did remind him to count the safe delivery of the pod of infant sun-rays as a very definite positive, even if he had had to talk a slightly frantic Olivia through the steps of getting the very temperamental and elaborate oscillating shade arrangement to close all the way, which was a more finicking process than it had any right to be. (Occasionally, Declan really wondered about some of the oldest contraptions in the UK Sanctuary, particularly the ones built by James and Tesla together; more than one of them seemed perilously close to having minds of their own.) Olivia had handled the actual delivery of the babies very capably indeed, once the mama ray was out of the direct light.
Even Will had calmed down and was no longer actively snapping at anyone who crossed his path. All the same, Declan chose to take the creature they'd gotten out of Abby to the secure small habitat area at the other end of the SHU from that particular holding cell, rather than go down that hall again just yet. This part of the Old City Sanctuary was very similar to his own. The larger habitats varied more with the buildings they were in, but the small ones were very much the same the world over. Magnus had designed the basic micro-environment, and James had worked out the specifics of the way the containment fields and the atmospherics worked. Tesla of course had done the overall electrical work, though that system was more idiosyncratic than most. Old City's version had been worked on at length by Henry, and James had never stopped tinkering with things in London. Seeing some of Henry's elegant changes made Declan realize that his own IT person, capable as he was, could use an infusion of challenge, or at least alternate thinking. Perhaps Erica could advise him on that.
There. Vicious engineered mind-and-body-altering creature locked in a suitable habitat, screamer-alarm set as a precaution. Declan resisted the urge to scrub his hands against the legs of his trousers. He'd been wearing gloves when he caught it out of the air as it leapt, and he'd washed very thoroughly afterward. Still, the visceral effect of the creature (and Magnus could totally have the dubious pleasure of naming it — Declan certainly didn't want to) as it nosed about the edges of the space was unpleasant. It felt nasty and unnatural in a way that even the ciliate maw-worms or scaly kraken-fish did not. Constructed to be nasty. Constructed by thinking creatures to use against other thinking creatures by re-writing their very DNA. It went against everything James had taught him, that life should not use other life so. Sanctuary, not destruction. Life, not death.
"So even you get sanctuary," Declan said to the creature, recording the habitat-code and all the other details in the form on his iPad. "Even you." He hit 'enter' and the window closed, leaving the current background image clearly visible. It was a picture he had taken the first year he was at the Sanctuary, still settling into civilian life, still figuring out working with (and for, but the with had always been more important, more descriptive of what was between them, especially when they had been lovers, but afterwards too) Sir James Watson, MD, KBE, &etc. The view was from the bottom of the garden, the little tower perched on the wall near the water-gate that gave onto the river. It showed the back of the house rising over the trees, the attic skylights glinting in the warm light of late afternoon. On the roof were figures, indistinct with distance, but Declan knew who each one was.
His sanctuary, where he belonged. His people, his responsibilities. His sanctuary where the fairy mice still gravitated to him whenever he went into the cellars, where there was a sticky-note in the kitchen next to a button labeled 'bass' and 'treble' that said Caution! in purple permanent marker, where right at this moment there was likely a curious yellow slime-mold lurking in a corner of his office or under his bed, waiting for him to come home. Declan gave the picture another look before closing the cover and heading back to the elevator and upstairs.
Time for him to be going home.