Philip Callahan had traveled half the night to be here at this moment. It was freezing and the wind was whipping around his body, but he knew that the only person who could listen to a full confession of his was inside this beautiful, old Orthodox church. He took a deep breath before pushing open the door and walking inside. There was only one other priest within the Legacy who could possibly understand all the things he had been through and everything that he was, so he had traveled overnight to St. Petersburg, Russia. Fortunately, it was after morning mass and his old friend wasn't teaching. "Vostock?" he called quietly once he entered the chapel itself.
"Over here," he called, sounding like he was engrossed in doing something. He looked up, showing he was an older man, his brown and silver hair cut very short and his beard reaching down to his clerical collar. The man's skin was like porcelain because he spent so much time in the library researching. "Philip?" He stood up. "Why are you here?"
"Because I need help," Philip said, walking over to sit next to him. "You've seen the latest artifacts going to the underground repository?" The older man nodded. "They're mine, Dietrich. No one but London's house and Nick knows, but they're mine," he said in a near whisper. He looked down at his hands, then up at the cross behind the altar. "I was trapped and used as bait by something."
Dietrich put a hand on his arm. "We will walk outside. Even here the walls have ears." He stood up. "Come back to my office so I can gather my things. We'll stroll in the park." Philip nodded and followed him back to his office, rearming himself against the cold as he walked. Once they were outside in the bright, but ineffective, sunlight, he looked at his former protégé. "What happened, Philip?"
"I went back for a reunion," Philip told him. The older man gave him a pat on the shoulder. "Things are happenin' over there, Dietrich. Bad things. I had ta help and the local Diocese didn't seem to mind at the moment."
"We have heard *HE* returned," Dietrich admitted.
"It's been two years now, and the attacks have started," Philip said quietly, glancing around. "Dumbledore called us back to get help against him. His champion's a little boy who's already seen enough death and unhappiness."
"So you allowed yourself to get sucked back in. Did you confess that?"
"I did," Philip admitted. "Even though I think that the current Pope is wrong and that God wouldn't care that I'm what I am." He stiffened up some, feeling a little better already. "The old group and I got back together again. We talked, we've made plans to guard the younger generation. One of us even married the younger generation," he admitted with a small smile. "Then the centaurs burned down the house that had been our meeting spot and it broke the charm that bound us and let us hear each other when we needed it." He coughed and stopped, looking at his friend. "I went to check on it and found the remains. When I was walkin' back, I ran into a spirit after being knocked out. She's the one who tainted me."
"And now all those urges that you have fought for years, plus others that make you unsure of yourself come out," Dietrich put in. Philip nodded. "What do you want to do, Philip? I cannot feel a taint to clear it. I am a wizard, yes, but not one of that nature."
Philip let out a bitter laugh. "I have ta confess," he told him. "I can't imagine what would happen if I told all to one of the priests in London. They'd be shocked and horrified if they knew that evil wasn't something metaphysical. That it was something *real* that could come for them and those they protect. I can't do that to someone who isn't called."
Dietrich patted him on the arm. "I will hear your confession," he agreed. "I do understand. You and I have both done things that our churches deemed radical and antithesis of what they believe God is," he quietly agreed. "There is nothing that you cannot say to me."
"I've had urges, Dietrich. Ones that make me leer at married women. Ones that make me want what I know is not mine and can't be mine." The older man nodded. "That and the dreams are starting. I...." He shook his head and slumped again. "I feel like I'm being called to another purpose, to be a Knight."
"It has happened in your family in the past," Dietrich reminded him. "Come, let's get out of the cold and we'll talk in my office before I hear your confession." Philip gave him a grateful look. As they walked back toward the church, the older priest glanced at the younger. "It is a good thing you did not share this with those young men you consider old enough to be wise," he said with a touch of humor. "Can you imagine what they would think if they knew what you had done two years ago? Or how they would cower under their cloaks and wail for God to save them from the boogie men?"
Philip snorted. "I'd be put away before I could say anything about that," he pointed out. "There's a lot more that I need to confess from before then. I've done it on my own but I feel as if I should do a full one."
"Then we shall," Dietrich agreed, giving him a smile. "You know," he said, opening the door. "You might be called to fix all those bad ones in your version of the church."
"Don't tempt me," Philip said dryly, but he was smiling slightly. "I nearly took one's head off last week when I ran into him and he had a collar on. I turned the idiot in myself." He let his friend lead the way back to his office. It was in the back of the basement, behind all the archives, and only someone who really wanted to listen in could get near the office to hear them.
Greg looked at his wife, who was looking miserably at her plate. "You've still got to eat," he said gently, giving her a smile. "Please? I'll pick you up something special tonight."
"I'm not hungry, Greg."
"I know," he soothed, blowing a kiss, "but watching you eat turns me on."
"Me breathing turns you on," she reminded him.
"Well, yeah," he said with a smirk and a leer. "You're just beautiful to me. No matter that you're going to gain a little bit of weight." She smiled at her plate at that pronouncement. So he reached over to touch her arm. "I might have to fight our kid to get at the tasty meals he's expecting," he assured her, sounding perfectly serious. She laughed and shook her head. "I can't steal them from him or her?"
"No, you can't," she told him. She gave him a kiss on the cheek. "How many more months worth of gold are you making?"
"Maybe six or seven," he told her. "We've got a great savings, the house is paid for. All the bills are paid for and paid in advance for the routine ones. I even remembered to pay the property taxes." She gave him a slight smile. "Now all we need is baby stuff."
"We'll have to have a second opinion. The healer said he couldn't be sure if that was an echo off my heartbeat or not."
Greg wiped his mouth. "Come on. We'll go do that now," he said, holding out a hand. She gave him a look like he was insane. "I mean it. Come on." She finished her juice and took his hand, letting him pull her out to the car and carefully strap her into it. Then he got in and drove them to work, leaving her sitting in the car while he went inside to ask a major favor. "Doc?" he called from the doorway.
"Yes, Greg?" Grissom answered.
"Other sort of doc," Greg said, walking in and making sure the doors were shut. "We still need a definitive answer on whether or not Emilia's stuffed up. Can I walk her into a hospital and ask them to do an ultrasound?"
"Pick up the phone and hit the third memory dial," the doctor told him. "Then hand me the phone." Greg did so, holding the phone against his ear so it couldn't add any contaminants to the body. "It's me," he said in greeting. "One of my coworkers might have a pregnant wife, but he's getting mixed results. Can I send him to you?" He smiled. "Sure. Thanks." He nodded at Greg, who put the phone up. "Be at Desert Palms in one hour, Greg. Head to the Radiology department directly."
"Thanks, Doc." He gave him a pat on the back. "You're really nice. We'll add your name as one of the middle names." He jogged out, going to get his wife an ice cream cone first, then take her to the hospital. Sure, they were twenty-five minutes early but the nurse gave them a very understanding look as she led them back into an exam room.
"Take off your shirt and push down your pants," the nurse instructed, handing Emilia a paper gown. "Your husband can stay or not, whichever you want."
"I think he'll pass out," Emilia told her. Greg pouted at her. "I won't deny you the chance to hear it first," she soothed, giving him a kiss. She smiled and the nurse left them alone so she changed into the scratchy paper gown and laid on the table, letting him arrange her clothes for her. "Greg, you're fussing," she said when he shifted her beltline for the third time.
"I'm anxious," he pointed out. "I'm not sure I'm ready to be a dad. I know I'll make a great dad, but I'm not sure if I'm going to be ready to be a dad."
Emilia shut him up by kissing him. "You'll be fine because I'll be there," she promised with a grin. He gave her a look. "Think about how spoiled this child will be."
"Grissom will buy it one of those Discovery Channel kits so it can learn DNA and fingerprinting as soon as it's old enough to spread dust," he agreed, smiling now.
"You know, I can see that. He and Sarah both are *way* too serious for their own good. We'll have to point out that fingerprinting powder is not an acceptable baby shower present."
He chuckled. "I can see Catherine's contribution. She's a mother so we'll get practical stuff like diapers."
"Those are always handy," the doctor said as she walked in. "How are you today?"
"Anxious," Greg told her. "We did nine EPT's and they came out five-to-four for being pregnant. We did one other ultrasound by the doc there said that he couldn't be sure it wasn't an echo off hers."
"Interesting." She smiled at them. "Don't worry, mine's one of the top machines in the city. It's barely a year old and has that nifty new 3-D feature. I've picked out a pea-sized tumor in the past with it. That's why he sent you to me." Greg relaxed and pulled stool over to sit beside his wife's head, holding her hands. "This'll be a bit cool," she warned, picking up the bottle of gel so she could cover Emilia's stomach. Then she picked up the wand and used it to spread the goop out a little thinner. "Here we go," she said, turning on everything. She immediately smiled and turned the monitor around.
Philip looked up as his old friend joined him at the table. "We'll have to pick someone to take my place," he told him.
Dietrich nodded. "I have a few candidates. Will you teach them?"
"One of us will have to," Philip reminded him with a smile. "You're living in a place that's too cold for most of us."
Dietrich laughed. "That is true. Not many like the weather around here. Even some of the natives complain about the winds." He patted Philip on the hand. "If I could, I would retire somewhere warmer when it is time."
"You could ask to switch to Greece or Istanbul," Philip reminded him.
"Bah, heat like that is unbearable to an old polar bear like myself." He patted his stomach. "Down there I would look foolish among so many young and tanned creatures. Besides, none of the good libraries are down there."
"Derek might need one," Philip offered. He had decided to meditate after confession, to see if he would get any feelings on his situation. He felt at peace for the first time in a long time, and the only time he had felt anything like that was when he had gotten his new wand. He had decided to leave the church for good and to take up his studies again. Maybe he would ask Dumbledore for a job. He picked up his spoon and dug into the thick soup. "There's a beautiful church in San Francisco. Plus, both diocese have arrangements to share libraries. There's one researcher out there now but they've gotten stuck on the theory that it's a way of explaining things to themselves."
"I see." He slurped some soup, then he shrugged. "I could ask I suppose. You're not going back to Derek's side?"
"Not yet. I think it would interfere with him and Nick's thing." He winked. "Derek gets so flustered when Nick acts like himself."
Dietrich laughed. "I'm sure he would. He is older by a few years and Nick was always acting younger than his age." He put down his spoon. "I do not feel I could serve that community though. I have no problems with that lifestyle....."
"But you like it a lot better when it's hundreds of miles away and you don't know anyone personally," Philip finished. Dietrich nodded. "That's understandable. We've got ones like that and worse in town. We've got a large segment of those who would hurt others because of their lives."
"Yes, but I would feel uncomfortable. Possibly New York. I hear their library is excellent."
"It is," Philip agreed. "I did six months there to fill in for their archivist. It's extensive and you'd have a large Russian community nearby. You'd have to watch out for the violence though. Both inside and from outside the community."
"The more I hear from the rest of the world, the more I like my own little corner," Dietrich admitted.
"I've felt the same way," Philip admitted. "I'd love nothing more than the simpler times from my youth. Before the fighting and all that." He took another bite of soup. "So, who should we call to take my place?"
"I'd like to tap Notarius. He's very interested in the subject, if a bit too overblown in the ego department."
"He's still young, it'd get knocked out of him," Philip noted, starting to smile again.
"As it did us," Dietrich agreed, smiling at him. "If you told him of your first year of training I'm sure he'd nearly run to the outhouse." Philip laughed at that. "Besides, he has the Sight, I'm sure of it."
"If you want, we can talk to him together," Philip offered.
"It might be for the best. He would not be as receptive if just I or just you came to him." He picked up his bowl and drank some of the soup. The kitchen was very chilly today for some reason. Philip got up and went to add more wood to the fire so he knew it wasn't just him. "Eat. It looks like another one of those nights."
"A ghost or otherwise?" Philip asked as he drank his soup. "Should we call this young boy in?"
"He's in Paris," he said in disgust. "Flirting probably."
"I saw him in London," Philip told him. "He might be transferring." He coughed. "Which side of the spectrum does he use?"
"He comes from a strong Pagan family," Dietrich told him. "Very strong and his mother was wise the one time I talked with her while he was ill last year." He shivered.
"I'm calling London," Philip announced, pulling out his phone. The demonic chill in the room left, leaving them alone. He flipped open his prepaid cellphone and called anyway. They'd need to talk to the boy. "Sloan, it's Philip," he announced. "I've picked a possible successor. Dietrich agreed. Notarius." He smiled at his friend. "Sure, send him up. I'll pay for his room if you don't." He hung up. "Sloan'll put him on a plane tonight. It's a good thing priests don't need paperwork like everyone else, even the Taoist monks like him."
"If we did, we'd spend most of our careers in our own countries. Then what would we do for vacations?"
Philip snorted. "Only you would call that trip to Grand Cayman Island a vacation, my friend."
"It was, even though we spent most of it in the hospital. I didn't have a single mass to perform." He saluted Philip with his mug. "What will you do instead?"
"My Ph. D. maybe," Philip said with a shrug. "If not, I'll go back to my school and talk to the Headmaster. The war's about to begin in the fullest sense of the word."
"I wish you much luck. Tell me how you're doing so I can send information back to my own Headmaster. He'll be delighted it's not his duty to fight it this time."
"Yet," Philip pointed out. "There's every chance that he'll move across the Channel. A few of your own brethren and classmates lived in the dark for too long."
"Hmm. True," Dietrich admitted. "But I'm sure we will prevail. After all, the boy is on our side."
"The boy is on his own side. Things are not like what they say in the papers." He sipped his coffee. "His great-uncle had to take him in. He's training as a curse-breaker."
"It will probably be a helpful skill," Dietrich said with a shrug. "How many wandless does he have on their side?"
"Many," Philip said with a mean grin. "Not only has the Dumass clan waded into this fight, but so have a great number of others, including some of the chaos people who wouldn't stand for his version of order."
"Ah." Dietrich smiled. "That is good to know. People like Sobeieth and Rayne should never find a place in any hierarchy." He winked. "Otherwise the world will end from the mischief."
"Speaking of, I know how much you like pranks and one of the Banes is a prankster and just married twin pranksters who opened their own shop. I brought you a catalog."
"Bless you, my son, for you have sinned but in an amusing way," he said lightly. "Where is it?"
"In my bag."
"Then let us retrieve your bag and show you to your room so I might browse this catalog." He leaned closer. "Though I will make sure none of them go into the room where the sacraments are kept. The last time I did so, the itching powder slipped off the shelf and some got into the jar of blessed wine."
Philip burst out in giggles. "I think that's almost as bad as when I challenged a father to a boxing match to teach my kids about Queensberry Rules because I caught him punching his son," he pointed out.
"Bah, we do what we must to make the world a nicer place," he said with a grin. He stood up and took their dishes to the dishwasher then led his friend out to grab the bag.
Greg danced into his unit and hugged the corner first thing. "She is," he said happily, going to spread it around.
The doctor shook his head, but he was smiling. "That kid will be too spoiled," he noted, finishing writing the note he had started for Detective Brass.
Greg walked into the meeting area and hugged everyone. "She is." They smiled at him. "It's about two inches long and it's already got a really tiny face and fingers and toes," he said happily, taking his place.
"How is she taking it?" Catherine asked.
"She's presently throwing up dinner," he said honestly.
"Gee, thanks for that mental image, Greg," Sarah said, putting down her cup of coffee.
"Morning sickness is something I never want to repeat," Catherine told her.
"As inspiring as this news in, we've still got cases," Grissom pointed out. "I'm sure Greg has pictures we can look at later?" Greg pulled them out and put the envelope onto the table, shoving them down. "Thanks." He looked at Nick. "How is your case going?"
"I can't find a thing," Nick told him. He looked at Greg. "Don't you guys have some way of finding traces of substances?"
"Not that I know of," Greg lied. "Besides, it wouldn't be admissible. Someone will ask you what process you used to find it."
"Good point," Nick agreed, looking dejected.
Grissom and Greg shared a look. He agreed with Greg on this. Magic was not admissible and not a legal tool for them to use. "You got a letter earlier from the town's guardian."
"Cool. I'll pick it up after this." He noticed Emilia walking down the hall and stood up, sprinting to get to her. "What's going on?"
"I drove back to the house and found the door open," she told him. "I called it in and Brass came personally. He told me to come here and wait."
"Lab?" he whispered.
"The door was sealed," she reminded him, giving him a pat on the chest. She let him lead her into the meeting area. "Our house got broken into."
"Damn," Catherine said, giving her the seat she had been resting her sore feet on. "Here, sit. Who's there?"
"Brass," Emilia told her. "One of the day shift guys I think. Some geeky little guy with no desire for his job." She sat down gingerly and then smiled. "Sorry to interrupt."
"You're not the first," Grissom assured her. "We've had Catherine's daughter in here before and Sarah's husband Yun when he locked himself out." He looked at his crew. "Did we have anything else?"
"Greg, test results?" Sarah asked.
"I left a pile with your name on a sticky on my desk," he told her. "It was while you were gone and right before I went home."
"Thanks. I'll go look while you coo at her." She stood up and went to look, finding it right where he had said. She noticed someone coming down the hall, one of the day shift guys, and knew he had been at Greg's house by what he was carrying. "Dirt," she complained, following him.
Greg looked at the guy. "How did you get into my lab?"
"Why do you have illegal substances in there?" he asked, putting a vial onto the table. "That's radioactive."
"It's not," Greg retorted.
"Let me get a gieger," Sarah offered. She went down to their room, giving Brass a look as he crossed her path. "Meeting room."
"Thanks." He walked in and looked at Greg. "Your lab door was sealed but it popped open when he walked by it." Greg raised an eyebrow. "I don't know how."
"Easy, I tried the knob," he said.
"My lab had markings on it that stated it had hazardous chemicals in it," Greg told him. "You shouldn't have gone in without knowing what was in there." He crossed his arms and watched as Sarah came back in and tested the vial. "Uncork it, that's fine," he told her. "It's from my cauldron." She did so and the blips got a little higher but it was still far from radioactive. "See?"
"Still. Why do you have a *cauldron*?"
"It's a family heirloom," Emilia told him. "From *my* family."
"I saw it in his office before he met you," the guy sneered.
Emilia stood up, glaring at him. "We went to school together, dipshit." The man looked stunned. "We were both exchange students at the same British school. That's how and when we met. Just because I was too scared to date him *before* the reunion didn't mean anything. Besides, some of us move for a living and I wanted somewhere to store some very precious family artifacts. Did you need to know anything else about my heirlooms?"
"Yes, what's this?" he asked, pulling another baggie out and putting it onto the table.
Greg looked at the vivid maroon stone, then at the man. "You had no business touching that," he said calmly.
"I knew it, you're doing something illegal!"
"No, because that's the dangerous chemical," Greg said, staying calm. He took the baggie and looked it, noticing the smudges from fingerprints. "You picked it up with your bare fingers I see." He looked at him. "Not only could you have died from it, but you may have ruined years of work." He put it into his pocket and let his wife take the vial. "Was there anything missing, Detective?"
"No, not that I could see," he admitted. "Will you go through it with us?"
"Certainly. Let's do that now," Greg told him, brushing past the arrogant worker. "You had better have more than flights of fantasy and greed," he hissed as he walked past him.
"Greg, work?" Grissom called.
"I'll be back after I'm calm. So I don't hurt someone," Greg told him, leading his wife out.
"I knew there was something off about him. People don't attack a police station because you're working on a new lab technique," he sneered.
Sarah took the direct approach by slapping him. "Greg's got a person in his extended family who does chemical research and he's helping him." The CSI looked shocked and clutched his sore cheek. "You may not think about this, but you may have just lost us our only DNA tech."
"You also may have broken so many laws you're in trouble yourself," Grissom told him. "Go wait in my office while I call in the Sheriff and your supervisor." The man still looked shocked but he did as he said. He looked at the rest of his team. "Tell Greg I want to see him when he gets back."
"If he comes back," Catherine corrected. "That idiot just endangered his wife's safety."
"I'm sure he'll be back soon, if not today then tomorrow," Grissom told her. He went to make the necessary calls, bringing both men at a near-run to his office. These were serious charges. Once everyone was in, he locked the door. "Someone broke into CSI Saunders' house tonight," he started. He looked at the day-shift supervisor. "Your man walked into Greg's marked lab, marked with hazardous chemical signs, and started to test the substances without knowing what was in there. Not only did he remove things and storm back in here to face down my CSI, he made some very dangerous accusations about my man."
The day-shift supervisor looked at his person. "Explain."
"We were called to the break-in right at the end of the shift and I volunteered."
"Why?" Grissom asked. "Nick was already here. Did you have some ulterior motive?"
The man sneered at him. "We all know your little DNA techie is doing something wrong. He lives in a big house, with a gorgeous wife, and spends a lot of money."
"Which he explained to IA before he did any of that," the Sheriff pointed out in all fairness. "So?"
"Greg's doing some medical research on his own," Grissom told him. "Not only did he handle a few of the substances without the owner's permission, and without the owner telling him what they were, he stormed in here and he made a lot of very dangerous accusations about why my worker was attacked last year." He cleared his throat. "He also handled some of them without gloves. Gregory found a few fingerprint smears on some of the things he handled."
"He's lying," the day-shift guy spat. "Saunders is no more a normal and decent tech than that last guy we had to expose was."
Someone knocked on the door and Grissom nodded so the Sheriff let him in. "Come in, Greg," the sheriff said, giving him a bland look. "What did he handle?"
"He handled a chemical substance I've been trying to prefect since I finished my secondary schooling," Greg told him. "It's an ancient version of a pain killer." He held up a vial. "This should be green. It's blue. His touching it messed up *years* of work because he put skin oils onto the stone in the middle of the mix, the one that was filtering it out."
"That sounds like alchemy," the day-shift supervisor said, looking confused.
"Technically, herbal healing and alchemy were both intertwined. It's an ancient herbal healing technique. The stone pulls out some of the impurities while it boils. I nearly had a working version until he messed with them." He looked at the sheriff. "That means I can sue him for millions of dollars in lost revenue. I have three vials I'm testing now and it could take me years to refine the process again now that he's tainted the stone." The sheriff shuddered, they'd be liable for it as well. "Even Hodges knows better than that," he told the day-shift supervisor, mentioning the ultra-geek and bitter person on the night shift, the one who liked to gossip and stir up trouble. He looked at Grissom again. "Brass has the account of what was stolen. Someone broke in and took my pookie's laptop. The Feds will probably be in soon enough. She had some dealings with some State Department officials. I've already warned him."
"What does she do for them?" the sheriff asked.
"She's an advisor," Greg told him. "She gives advice to those who need it, no matter what sort of diplomat they are. She's attended most of the conferences and summits for the past ten years." The day-shift worker swallowed. "I know that there will be some British people coming because of what was on that."
"I only wanted to know what illegal things he was doing," he defended. "He's not a normal CSI."
"No, you're right. I'm a genius," Greg told him. "Full-on MENSA." The man winced. "Not only did you ruin part of my life's work, you endangered thousands of people because you had no idea what was in that cauldron. *If* your suppositions were correct, I could have had a bio-hazard in there and then you would have spread it around the police department by your careless actions in wanting to touch a pretty stone." He looked at Grissom. "I'm still pissed."
"Can you work the last four hours of your shift?"
"Yeah, give me an hour and I'll be back to finish this shift." He looked at the guy again. "It's people like him that make people like me cling to our own kind." He walked out, slamming the door.
The day-shift supervisor looked at his person. "Did you go in ungloved?" The man shook his head. "Did you, at any time during the walk-through, unglove?" The man nodded. "Why?"
"Because I knew it wasn't that harmful. It wasn't in any of the ventilated areas. He didn't even have it in a more secure environment."
"It's his house, why would he have?" Grissom pointed out. "Do you keep all your valuables locked up?"
"Will he press criminal charges?" the sheriff asked Grissom. The day-shift supervisor made a protesting noise. "He broke the rules of appropriate conduct while on a scene. Will Saunders charge him?"
"I think right now Greg's mad enough to kill him," Grissom pointed out dryly. "Charging him might be let go however."
"Can you talk him into it?" Grissom nodded, sure he could. "Then we'll fire this idiot for breaching protocol and endangering the case." He looked at the day-shift supervisor. "That fine with you?"
"Fine with me," he agreed. "If he was dumb enough to unglove and endanger his career and the case, then I don't want him. I'll make sure he's got an accurate set of evaluations before he goes."
"Thank you. If you can talk Saunders out of suing us I'd be really thankful as well."
"I'll do what I can," Grissom promised. "Thank you for handling this matter."
"Saunders does medical research?" the day-shift guy asked. Grissom nodded. "Is that why he was attacked?"
"It was," Grissom admitted. "This new technique, if it works, will give out a pain killer that is not addictive and would take the place of morphine and Oxycottin. There are people who make a lot of money every year off those, and even the legal ones won't like it."
"Interesting," the sheriff noted. "Are you keeping track of him?" Grissom nodded. "If he comes up with something, tell us so we can celebrate him or whatever. People like that bring others into the fold." He walked out, leaving the door open.
The day-shift supervisor looked at the guy. "We'll go clean out your locker. I'll have your evaluations delivered tomorrow afternoon." He hauled his man up and out, nodding cordially at Grissom as he left. "How dumb are you?" he hissed as he led him off. "Saunders is obviously guarded and you had better have full proof before you make accusations. Otherwise, you end up looking like a fool."
"I swear, that liquid was radioactive while I was there," he hissed back. Then he stopped. "Alchemy."
"Isn't real," the supervisor told him. He grabbed him again, pushing him against the wall. "Even if it were, you've lost your chance to prove it. Got it? If Saunders got that gold that way, then he's much too smart to be caught by one of us and he's not doing anything illegal that we can deal with. Even if the Feds touch him, we can't do anything about that. You nearly ruined my career with yours and I won't allow it." He let him go and walked him off.
Warrick Brown stepped out of the lab he had been in, looking down the hall. "Alchemy?" he asked, looking disgusted.
Six days after meeting with the priest who no longer wanted to take over his former spot, Philip limped into Xander's front room, looking around. "I'm back," he called. Grandma Des had graciously offered to put him up until he figured out what he was going to do with his life. Xander's head popped out of the study and one hand came out to wave him that way, though it looked too pale to belong to the head. He limped that way, giving him a smile. "Dietrich thinks the new guy will be fine if he comes out of his coma," he reported at the quizzical look. "I turned in my paperwork today and withdrew my pension from the church's vaults." He sank onto the couch with a groan of delight. The bus's seats had been kinda hard on his aching hip. "Dietrich's retiring too and we talked to the person who asked to take over his spot, he's finding a third in case it's necessary." He grinned broadly. "So I'm now free."
"Excellent," Draco said, giving him a short hug. "Do you feel better now?"
"Much," Philip admitted. "I don't have to worry." He heard a bang from the basement and looked around. "Who was that?"
"Greg." Xander sat on the other end of the couch. "Apparently someone tried to bust his little lab at his house. They were jealous." Philip rolled his eyes. "Word went up the ladder and he's under review for a promotion because he said he was working on an ancient healing potion."
"Which it looks like you could use some of," Draco added. "Let me tell him." He left them there, going down to talk to Greg. "Philip's back," he announced as he walked down the stairs. "He limped in." Greg looked up at him, frowning from his task of ripping apart metal bars. "His hips I think. He said the person replacing him should be fine if he comes out of his coma."
"Good," Greg said dryly, going to mix him something. "I'm sure we'll enjoy having him around more often." He looked at Draco. "Aren't you usually more jealous?"
"If Xander does him, I'll be upset with him, but I know it's been nearly forever since Philip's felt the touch of another human being so I'll forgive him. Xander, of course, will be begging for quite a while."
"You're just looking for more presents," Dawn teased. She was helping because Greg actually explained potions to her. She nearly had one of the first year ones learned now. He had a lot more patience than Snape did.
"It'll happen," Draco assured her. "Xander played the field for far too long to give it up totally. At which time of course I shall receive many beautiful and well-thought-out gifts in apology." He walked back up the stairs and found them kissing. "I knew it," he said.
Xander pulled him closer, putting him on Philip's other side. "We need to regentle him," he told him.
"You want to share me?" Draco asked.
"No, sweetie, I want to share Philip with you," Xander said smugly. "Or no presents."
"You shit," Draco said, pouncing him to beat him lightly until he begged for eavesdropping. He quickly found himself under his consort, looking up at the grinning and wicked face. "Don't I get a reward for being a Slytherin at heart?" he tried.
"No, but you'll get one later tonight," Xander promised him, stealing a kiss before they could be broken up by Philip. "I told you I'd never share you and I meant it. I'm a very jealous lover." He stole another kiss and a subtle rub of their cocks. "Besides, Philip likes freaky stuff."
"I do not," Philip defended.
"Yes, you do," Draco told him. "You like things like soft cuddles in the moonlight and long rides in carriages in the snow." He looked back up at Xander. "Speaking of long rides."
"Oh, you'll be getting a ride," Xander promised.
"You promised to teach me how to ride a horse, Xander, not riding you. I do that nearly every night."
"And sometimes in the afternoon," Xander agreed with a leer.
"Your one-track mind needs to derail," Philip told them. "I'm too tired to watch you two have sex."
Xander looked back at him and grinned. "I'm trying to work in as much as I can so the Hufflepuffs won't try to steal him for at least a month," he explained. He rubbed against Draco again. "Are you sure you want to learn how to ride a horse? It can make your butt sore."
"I'm sure it won't be any more sore than after what we did over spring break. I want to see the horses. Plus, we can pull Dawn with us."
"Sure," Xander agreed, letting Draco roll him onto his back. "Do you like being on top?"
"It is one of my favorite spots," Draco said thoughtfully. "Perhaps I should tie you down tonight."
"Oooh, naughty you, Draco," Dawn teased as she walked in with a steaming cup of stuff. "Here you go, Father."
"Not a father any longer," he said, giving her a pat on the hand. He sipped the foul brew, then gulped it because he'd never finish it if he didn't. "Eww."
"I feel the same way about most potions," she assured him. She leaned on the back of the couch, watching the couple play. "So, whatcha gonna do now that you're not Super Priestman?"
He laughed and patted her on the hand. "I'm gonna talk ta Albus tomorrow and see if he's got something for me."
"Watch out, you might have to join us in Hufflepuff," Draco told him.
"I was a Ravenclaw originally," Philip told him. "I met Nick many nights over there."
"I thought all the prior Banes were Gryffs," Dawn said, looking confused.
"No, not really. We were pretty inclusive in our time. Greg was a Slytherin. He tutored a few of us so we came to like him. Nick, Blair, and Emilia were all Hufflepuffs." He noticed Draco's raised eyebrow. "It suited her nature. She'd be surrounded by sex then and less negative emotions. Since she and Greg were so tight, they used to allow her into the tower, or else she'd broadcast and they loathed those times." He grinned at Dawn again. "Tipsy and most of the rest were Gryffs. We had one other Slytherin but she died."
"It's all right. We've got you lot now and some of you more than make up for their losses. That one we lost to cancer a few years back."
"Then why did Harry's dad pick on Professor Snape?"
"Because he was easy," Philip told her. "James was a great bully who picked on anyone who wasn't one of the Marauders. That's why Tipsy used ta delight so much in puttin' him in the well." He patted her no the hand again. "Now, I need a nap. You're probably havin' fun."
"I was helping Greg break metal. He's using his cute little itsy baby stone since some nasty booger tainted his other one." She gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I know you'll find something that makes you as happy as fighting demons did before," she told him, then headed back to work.
"Ron should probably watch himself," Draco told Xander. Xander nodded.
"She's much too young for me, you loons," he said, tossing a pillow at them. "Am I back in that same room, Xander?"
Xander looked at him. "I have no idea where Des stuck you, Philip. Find a bed and use it for all I care." He grinned. "You could probably use it."
"Yeah, I could," he agreed, standing up with a lesser grunt of pain and heading up to find himself a bed. He found one open door at the end of the second hallway, and found himself in a second one, which had a lot more rooms. He shrugged and found a second open one and went in there, finding a bed with his bag already sitting on it. "Thank you, Des," he called quietly.
"With all his friends, Alex would need the room," she assured him. "Besides, you're less trouble than four teens." She closed his door and walked away, going to tell the house elves that he was there.
Greg walked into Grissoms office after his week off, like the note stuck to his computer had said to do. "You wanted to see me?" He closed the door at the nod. "What's going on now?"
"A few things." Grissom looked at him. "The Feds weren't quite sure what your wife did, but her explanation of her being an advisor and counselor was enough for them it seems." He got comfortable. "They found her laptop for her and made sure her information was encrypted." Greg nodded. "Your promotion was turned down?"
"I refused it," Greg told him. "I don't want to be watched. I'd have to leave then. I made it pretty clear to the sheriff that I felt that way."
"Good," Grissom agreed, smiling at him. "Your lab space was cleaned while you were gone. You managed to drop a piece of gold behind the sample tester. Also, the British people you were expecting showed up."
"Did they fix anyone's memories?"
"Brass asked to have the knowledge of what you do in the lab erased. They looked really surprised when they were shown the gold lump. Apparently you can tell?"
"It's slightly off in the chemical composition because pure water, even after boiling it, isn't that pure." Greg sat down. "So everyone else still knows?"
"Everyone but Nick. He begged to not know anything." Greg smiled. "That means you'll have to be careful again."
"I can do that," Greg agreed. "I've been trying to and if I have to, I can use an 'ignore me' charm."
"That might be for the best. How is Emilia?"
"I checked in with her earlier and she's just fine. She's over her whole 'go away and leave me alone' fit again. I'm assuming it's something to do with her pregnancy."
"Good." Grissom smiled. "Were there any other doubts?"
"What about Sarah? She was about to ask me if I could use my wand to help her case too."
"I've reminded everyone that we have to be able to explain how we found everything we do find. Like that Sandburg fellow's friend, we'd have to do a lot of tap dancing to explain things. I'd rather not have to force myself to lie that way."
"That's cool," Greg said, looking much more relaxed. "How are you doing?"
"I'm fine, Greg. My ears are about the same but I haven't had a sound blackout in a few days." He smiled at him. "Anything else?"
"Nope. Should I get back to work?"
"If you wouldn't mind. We're holding a few bodies pending their test results and Hodges doesn't have the flair you do."
Greg snorted and chuckled. "He doesn't have any flair," he retorted. "He's like a Borg. Whereas I am like that Counselor Troy. Fabulous and wanted by many." He waved and walked out, heading down to do some tests.
"Greg, I've got six backed up waiting on you," Sarah called.
"I've got two," Nick added.
"Guys, let me put on my coat. Come show me what you need and let me prioritize. We'll pull back out the plastic trays for you." He grabbed his lab coat and put it on, sitting down to work at his station. He felt the lump in his pocket and patted it, frowning when it squished. He opened his pocket and looked down, then screamed. Everyone came running and Sarah helped him out of it since that was obviously what was distressing him.
Catherine put on a pair of gloves and opened the pocket while Warrick took Greg to the meeting area. "It's a fetus," she announced. She looked down the hallway, then grabbed the phone before Grissom could, dialing Greg's home. "Emilia? Are you all right? Are you sure? No because someone put a dead fetus in Greg's pocket at work." She relaxed and the room relaxed with her. "No, just be careful. Call over one of your friends or come here for the night. Yeah, he's presently...." She trailed off and looked at the phone as a crack happened on the other end and then out in the hallway. Emilia went running for her sweetie to hold him. "I guess she'll calm him down," she said, handing over the phone and the jacket.
"Whoever did that needs drugs," Sarah told them, walking out to go back to work.
Grissom hung up the phone, then pulled out his wallet and dug out a card he had been given a few days back by that silver and black tabby. He picked up the phone and dialed the number on it. "Hello, this is Gil Grissom." He smiled. "Thank you. Yes, something's happened. No, someone put a dead fetus into Gregory's pocket. We're not sure. No one's been in here in days and it's fresh." He looked inside the jacket. "I'd say simian but I can't be sure. Yes, thank you. No, she's here and fine." He hung up. "Nick Boyle," he told the curious onlookers. "One of his closest and dearest friends."
"He works for the Luna Foundation and does some work like us," Warrick offered from the doorway. "His coworker Alex and I are email buddies. She's more into the art side and Nick does security."
"Yes, but he can call in the others," Grissom pointed out. "Let's give Greg some room. Who wants this case?" Catherine raised her hand. "Are you sure?"
"I'm more familiar with the subject."
"What's going on?" Nick asked quietly.
Grissom patted him on the arm as he walked him out. "We'll tell you about it later, Nick. Don't worry, just know that Greg has some very odd friends."
"But his wife appeared. She had been on the phone."
Emilia sighed from behind him and raised her wand. "Nick?" He looked at her. "Obliviate." He blinked and looked at her. "Why don't you go back to work, big guy? I've got Greg and no one's going to harm him again."
"Okay." He went back to his broken car.
"Nice work," Grissom said quietly, walking past her. "Catherine took it and I called that number." He went to talk to the doctor about looking at the fetus. He didn't like this in the least.