For every plan they came up with, there was always a reason to discard it; too complicated, too many people involved, too little chance of success, too much risk to Samuel. The list seemed never-ending.
It was almost midnight when Wolf rang Declán with an update. As usual her brother cut to the heart of the matter and asked why they didn't just do the blindingly obvious of standing in the middle of the mall and seeing who took the bait.
Wolf couldn't argue with the logic of the plan and Craddock was quick to get the ball rolling with his people. With something solid finally in place, it was an easy matter to get all the necessary personnel briefed and ready for deployment.
A WPC was assigned to be Samuel's shadow for the duration, which was the one thing that managed to throw a spanner in the works. As soon as she entered the abandoned warehouse where the boy was sleeping, Declán took the opportunity to slip out the back.
He'd barely had time to walk around the front of the building, when Declán heard Samuel kicking up a ruckus inside. He ran inside and found the WPC trying to keep the kicking and screaming boy at arm's length. From the rapid-fire mix of French, English and the boy's local West African dialect, Declán managed to figure out that Samuel blamed the WPC for scaring off his dog.
Declán couldn't suppress a chuckle and the sound of his muffled laughter distracted the boy from his tirade. Samuel ran to Declán and attached himself to one of the man's legs, glaring mistrustfully back at the bemused female police officer.
It was strange that Samuel would take such an immediate liking to him when he'd never seen Declán walking on two legs before, but his was not to reason on the thought processes of small boys.
A quick introduction and exchange of credentials later and Declán found himself back on babysitting duty as Samuel's personal guardian, which meant breakfast was the order of day until word came through that Mzizana and Ngema were on the move.
It didn't take long for Declán to discover that Samuel appeared to be a bottomless pit when it came to new and interesting food, as the boy insisted on trying everything he saw. It was the first time he actually had a chance to talk to the boy and all of their suspicions were confirmed; Samuel had been taken from his family and shipped as cargo to London where he was hidden in Mrs Mzizana's house. Declán just hoped that events would get underway before digestive havoc destroyed their carefully laid plans.
A quick phone call gave them the signal to get into position by the statue in the centre of the plaza.
Samuel was his usual talkative self until Mrs Mzizana loomed into view. The boy clung to Declán, hiding his face until the woman was arrested and taken away. As scared as he'd been, he was still determined to wait for Mr Ngema. That arrest was also handled swiftly and smoothly.
Wolf saw the second police car off and joined Declán and Samuel, she crouched in front of the boy.
"Hey, kid." Wolf offered the boy a bag of jelly frogs she'd pinched from Craddock's office, Declán was surprised the boy still had room for anything. "You know you won't be going back to Mrs Mzizana's house?" Samuel nodded. "Until we can find your family, you'll have to stay with people who can look after you."
"Can I stay with Declán?" Samuel looked up at the man.
Wolf shook her head. "No, mate. There's a foster family who'd like to meet you and they live near Dec, so you'll be able to visit him whenever you like."
Samuel nodded, sniffing back tears.
"Come on, Samuel. Let's go check this family out." Declán held his hand out to Samuel and let the boy lead him over to the waiting police car.
Wolf sighed. It was going to be a rough few months for Samuel, with court cases and interviews with the police to find out more about his family. She didn't think it would be much better for Declán, with any luck they'd help each other get through it.
15minuteficlets — word #99: gourmet
moonbeamsfanfic — challenge: declán and a child
Part of the Sangoma!verse and the Wolf&Declán!verse