He had failed.

The evidence had been there all along, and, in retrospect, their conclusions clearly faulty. The solution had been simply too easy. Too neat. Yet none of them had seen it. No one had thought to ask why it had been so obvious.

So they had been led, like the proverbial lambs-to-the-slaughter. And the fact that Sherlock Holmes himself had been fooled as well did nothing to assuage his guilt.

Only that wasn't his true failure.

Will looked at the woman standing in front of him, staring sightlessly out the window into the darkness beyond the glass. Her face, pale with shock, stood in stark contrast to the dark halo of her hair, the bright blue of her eyes, the deep gash of the already nearly healed cut which slashed across her cheek.

He had failed her.

Not simply in failing to figure out the Cabal's plot, for they had all done that. Ancient societies and psychosis inducing neurotoxins weren't, after all, his true expertise. His value lay in his understanding of human nature - that of both normals and abnormals. His nearly instinctive comprehension of their deepest fears and desires, their greatest needs and wants.

That was where he had truly failed.

He had allowed her to deflect his questions, and had believed her when she'd claimed to have known better. Yet, if that were true, then why had she sought him out in the first place? She had wanted his expertise precisely because he was better at that sort of thing than she was, regardless of her years and experience.

But he had let his awe of her, and his respect, stand in the way of insisting on what he knew was right. Because she had been wrong, he could see that clearly now. No one, especially not one so young, should have been allowed to cope with such things on her own. She couldn't possibly have the emotional coping mechanisms necessary to adjust to the psychological ramifications of what had occurred.

Not even Helen Magnus's daughter.

But they had all been content to let her try. To accept her quiet as understanding and believe her apparent calm to be more than simply skin-deep. Even the two standing before him who, as he could see all too clearly written on their faces, loved her the most. There had been simply too many things which had needed to be done. The most important reason they were doing them had become lost in the chaos.

Only now she was truly lost. She had rushed off poorly prepared on a mission ill-conceived and now she belonged to their enemy. Along with The Source they had all fought so hard to secure. And Will wasn't honestly sure which was the enemy's greater prize.

But he should have known better. Should have taken Magnus aside and despite her protestations, despite her unwillingness to face her daughter's questions or anger or fears, he should have insisted they talk. Maybe none of this would have happened if he'd just done the job he'd been chosen to do.

Maybe then The Source would still be in the lab, and Ashley still safe at home. And the stricken look on Magnus's face as she silently reached for comfort from a man she still barely trusted, yet who was the only one left to give it, wouldn't have been Will's greatest failure, either.