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Lestrade drove up to the house with a sinking feeling. White picket fence, daisies in the yard, an inviting front porch with a swing… the scene was idyllic, like someone had made themselves a cozy little home. And now he was going to upend it.

But for a good cause. And once they understood it they would agree with him. But he still hated to do it.

He walked up the sidewalk and onto the porch, and rang the doorbell. As he waited he glanced around, checking in with his people mentally. The scene they were monitoring was not looking good. Impatiently he reached for the doorbell again, when he saw a shadow behind the door. It opened to reveal a maternal-looking woman in a flour-covered apron—who was not pleased to see him. Let her be the first of many.

“Oh dear,” she sighed, with deep disappointment.

“Hello, Mrs. Hudson,” Lestrade replied, trying to be cheerful.

“The boys have been very good lately,” she protested loyally.

Lestrade noted she had not opened the screen door for him. “I’m sure they have,” he promised her—he’d not heard otherwise—“but I really need to speak to them. It’s important.” With the door open he heard music drifting from the house, a tentative piano mixed with fragments of singing.

“And there’s the child to think of,” Mrs. Hudson warned.

“S—t.” Lestrade had been too busy dealing with his crisis to check what Magnus and Bay had been up to in detail. “Adopted?”

Mrs. Hudson nodded. “A little girl. Lily. Such a joy! But not an easy time of it, poor lamb,” she added sympathetically. “They’re very good for her.”

“I’m sure they are,” he repeated, “and I’m sorry to disturb them, but—“

“Was that the doorbell, Mrs. Hudson?” asked a familiar voice, slightly altered by an American accent. “Is it a salesman—“ Bay stopped short as he saw who it was, then proceeded forward warily. “I suppose it is, in a way,” he corrected with a dry smirk. “Hello, Greg, how’ve you been?”

“Do you mind if I come in?” Lestrade finally asked, as they’d kept him out on the porch this whole time. “I need to speak to you two. It’s important.”

“Of course, that goes without saying,” Bay agreed. “There’s the door.” Lestrade grasped the handle of the screen door, opened it, and stepped cleanly over the threshold, indicating his sincerity and goodwill towards the occupants of the house. A sensible precaution to follow, really. “Come on, he’s back here,” Bay added. “Maybe some coffee, Mrs. Hudson?”

The housekeeper left, still talking to herself, and Bay led Lestrade through a house that was as charming and comfortable inside as it had been out. Every wood panel and wallpaper flower seemed to ooze a quiet satisfaction. Was it too much to hope that they were bored here?

Lestrade saw that it was when they reached the sun room at the back of the house, where Magnus sat at a piano with a little girl. She had red hair and freckled skin, and his smile was warm as he guided her through the notes of a song, his large hands spanning keys her small ones struggled with.

Bay cleared his throat and Magnus glanced up, and once again Lestrade watched an expression fall at his appearance. Just once it would be nice if someone could be happy to see him.

“You’re doing so well, Lily!” Bay praised the girl. “Mr. Lestrade was just remarking on it.”

Well, he might’ve been, if he hadn’t been preoccupied. “Yes, you’ve got quite a talent there,” he agreed nimbly, and the girl smiled shyly.

“That’s enough for right now,” Magnus told her, his accent also American with a slight Southern inflection. “Why don’t you go see Mrs. Hudson, and ask her for a snack?”

“Okay,” the girl replied cheerfully. She gave him a hug before leaving the piano bench, and Magnus’s arms clasped her preciously. Then she gave Bay a hug too on her way out, as if such things had been discouraged before and she was trying to make up for it.

Once Lily was gone Bay shut the door to the sun room and gestured for Lestrade to have a seat on the couch. Magnus turned around on the piano bench to face him; the usual icy hauteur was absent, but he narrowed his eyes at the visitor in sharp disapproval.

“Cute kid,” Lestrade remarked awkwardly. “Didn’t realize you’d gotten one.”

“Would it have made a difference?” Magnus asked darkly, folding his arms across his chest.

“No,” Lestrade admitted. “Look, I’m really sorry to bother you—“

Magnus rolled his eyes, a gesture forceful enough to interrupt. “I’m sure whatever Greg has to tell us is quite important,” Bay encouraged. Magnus clearly disagreed.

“Yes,” Lestrade insisted. Might as well get it out. “We’re having some problems with Ruby.”

Their attitudes changed immediately, both of them straightening up alertly and fixing Lestrade with intense gazes. “Ruby?” Bay repeated in disbelief.

“Where is she?” Magnus demanded.

“Paris,” Lestrade replied. “She grew up without remembering—“

“We didn’t even know she was here,” Bay worried, sadness in his tone.

“Abnormal development,” Magnus rephrased for him, sounding more like his usual self. “What’s happened?”

“She was living in Taipei,” Lestrade described, “and she was pulled into a drug smuggling scheme, quite against her will,” he assured their shocked faces. “She was carrying this super-powerful drug in a capsule in her stomach, and the capsule broke—“

Magnus stood suddenly, darkening the sunny room with his furious pacing. “You’re supposed to be keeping an eye on things!” he snapped at Lestrade. “Especially if she doesn’t remember!”

“You know Greg tries,” Bay insisted, which was meant to be supportive but actually made Lestrade feel like even more of a failure.

“It’s not that we weren’t doing our jobs,” he promised, defending his people, “but there’s a lot to do, and it all happened rather quickly. She was fine most of the time,” he went on, “and by the time we realized something was wrong—“ He broke off ominously.

“Has she—has she been hurt?” Bay asked softly, not daring to suggest worse.

“Well, it’s gotten rather complicated,” Lestrade sighed, and Magnus scoffed like this was a deficiency on his part, being unable to explain. “The drug in her system kick-started her memories and abilities,” he tried to describe, piecing together coherently what had been extremely confusing to them for quite a while. “She started to… change, rapidly, without understanding why. Speaking new languages, being dangerous physically, impervious to pain.”

“That must have been very frightening for her,” Bay empathized.

“Have you banished her to the island, then?” Magnus asked icily. “For using her abilities in an uncontrolled way?” As if that somehow was unfair.

“Um, no,” Lestrade admitted uncomfortably. “We’re having some trouble. Well, the drug dealers are trying to steal the drugs back—they’re quite violent, lots to clean up there,” he explained. “And Lucy—her name is Lucy—she’s got it in her head that the drug is making her evolve into a super-being, or something.” He shrugged—it was such a huge mess, the laws of physics being broken left and right as they spoke, lives imperiled, and her not fully understanding the consequences—

“You need our help,” Bay stated simply.

“To contain her,” Magnus sneered. “To muffle and muzzle. To smother and extinguish.”

“To help stop her from hurting people!” Lestrade snapped. Magnus always thought he was out to get them; never considering why that might sometimes be necessary, how what they could do posed a danger to every world. “Someone she might recognize, who can talk to her as an equal—“

“Which you certainly aren’t,” Magnus retorted, and Lestrade sighed. He knew, in the end, they would help; it was just how painful they made it before then. Well, Magnus.

Bay stood and went to his partner, hands soothing down his tense arms, intertwining with his long fingers. “Of course we’ll help save Ruby,” he said, speaking to Lestrade but looking at Magnus.

“Well, of course,” Magnus agreed. He fixed Lestrade with a cold stare. “But we won’t go to the island. We’ve got a life here—“

“Lily,” Bay murmured.

“We’ll bring Ruby back here, if it’s safe,” Magnus planned. “She might just need—“ He wasn’t sure what word to use; all the ones Lestrade could think of, like rehabilitation, would sound like euphemisms for prison to him.

“Someone to look after her,” Bay supplied, more kindly.

Lestrade hoped that would be possible. At this moment, he just didn’t know—to banish her to the island alone was cruel, but his first priority was, as Magnus had said, containment. Minimize the damage her superhuman abilities were doing on a world that had no experience with such things—not just physical damage, but the contamination of people witnessing things that were not supposed to happen. And right now, there was a lot of damage occurring.

He stood as well, just as Mrs. Hudson came in with the coffee. “We’d better get going,” he prompted.

“We have to say goodbye to Lily first,” Magnus informed him coolly. “We’re just going on a little trip,” he added to Bay, as if practicing their cover story. “We’ll be back soon.”

“To see a friend who’s sick,” Bay suggested, and Magnus nodded. “Please, have some coffee, Greg,” he invited, as Magnus pulled him out of the room. Lestrade accepted the cup from Mrs. Hudson—it might be the last restful moment he had for a while.