An Unpleasant Surprise
Harry looked up as an owl flew down to land beside him, looking at it. "What?" he asked the small creature. "I'm being good." He took the envelope and let it have a few pieces of his breakfast, but it didn't want the scrambled eggs. "Sorry. Go beg Ron." It hooted and went over there to bug him for some treats. Harry opened the envelope and groaned. "Now that you know about these books," he read, "we would like to talk to you about their truthfulness, their impact on your life, and how you're managing in your new career. Thank you for your indulgence, Hazel Whittington, Editor-at-Large, Witch World Weekly," he finished bitterly. "Hold on, books?"
"Greg said there was a second book but he hadn't gotten his copy yet, it may be back in the Swamp waiting on us," Alex said quietly. "Greg found them in a bookstore where he was."
"Then they're American?" he asked hopefully. Xander shook his head. "Shit."
"Basically," Bill agreed dryly. "How close are they?" Harry gave him a dirty look. "Never mind, I won't ask again," he soothed, giving him a small pat to the back. He'd hug the boy but he might bite him for it. "What're you gonna do, Harry?"
"I'm going to kill the person who did this to me!" he shouted, getting up to walk off.
"Harry, you need to go talk to your coach anyway," Ron called after him. "Head back for the day, pick up that book, and talk to him."
"Yeah, I do," he admitted, running a hand through his hair. "Alex? Bill?" They both made 'go away' motions and he nodded, going to grab his wand and leave. He had mastered the camp moving spell and it was faster and safer than apparating. He landed in the backyard of the house and stomped inside, heading down to the basement passage to their work area, the swamp. He did find the second book and a note for Alex, which he read. "Yeah, it was real," he said bitterly, heading back up the stairs. He saw the aunts looking at him. "Someone wrote a stupid bloody book about my bloody fucking life and I'm a tad bit upset," he sneered, heading to call his coach. He didn't get an answer so he flooed to the pitch, stomping past the guard. "Where is he?" he called back.
"Field, trying out for a new chaser," he called back. "Ooh, the second book's out." Harry shot a glare at him and he wilted, shivering a bit. "Didn't know, Mr. Potter?"
"Hell no and I'm going to kill someone!" he shouted back.
"Harry, no shouting!" the defense coach yelled back. "You know better! You scare people!"
"Do I give a flying fuck at the moment?" he demanded, stopping in front of him, holding up the damn book. "Someone wrote a stupid book about my life, outting not only my past but the wizarding world. Does no one seem to care enough about this to tell me when the *first* book came out!" he finished at a yell.
"They did?" he asked, taking the book. "This says book two. It's not a hoax?" He snatched Harry's wand before it could be used on him. "None of that now, Harry. Calm down. Let us handle this."
"A reporter's already written to ask me how I feel now that I know the books are there."
"Calm down," the head coach said calmly and quietly. "You don't think when you're that upset."
"Bugger calming down!" he shouted. "Someone wrote a very graphic book about my upbringing and how my aunt and uncle mistreated me!"
"Oh." He grimaced. "Do you have the first book?"
"No, I left it back at the camp," he spat. "The second one was waiting on me at the house from the same person who found out about them. I'm going to kill someone! I'm going to rip them limb from bloody limb and then piss on their remains! Then I'm going to find everyone who's read it and do the same!"
"Calm down," the head coach said, taking him by the arm and walking him off. "We can handle this, Harry. It can't be that bad."
"It can so! They wrote about how the stupid muggles abused me!"
"I've seen worse," he promised. "Other players had it done to them too, Harry. You're just a more exciting read because of all the stuff with the Dark Lord. Now, tell me how real it is so we can have our PR people handle this for you."
"I don't want them to handle it, I want them to stop it!"
"I know. I want them to stop too, just so you don't accidentally kill everyone on this pitch," he pointed out gently. Harry glared at him. "I said accidentally."
"I don't care," he growled.
"I know. I'm sorry, Harry. I just need you to calm down. Tell me about it, let me handle it through our people. That's why we have people. Kent is very good. He'll help us handle it for you."
"I just want it to go away!" he moaned.
"I know. Maybe your uncle can obliviate the knowledge from you for a bit." He walked him up to the office so he could call Kent, who already knew and had the books on his shelf. "Why do you have them?"
"The reporters have basically said that they're going to ignore it until someone told Mr. Potter. They said he wouldn't give interviews anyway and speculating wildly would get them in a lawsuit. They didn't want that to happen either." He looked at Harry. "Are you okay?" He shook his head. "Was it real?" He nodded. "Did you read it all the way through, Harry? I need things to refute."
"I only got to the sorting and it was real. Very, very real."
"Fine. Why don't you finish reading it and then we'll discuss it once you're done with your newest project in the desert."
"We've got another one coming," he admitted. "The spirits where we are now told us where Maldagesh is."
"Really?" he asked, his whole face lighting up with his smile. "Excellent news, Harry! Truly excellent. Are you going on that one as well?" He nodded. "Wonderful job, Harry! This will definitely make for good press and it will definitely help both your careers."
"We're going after this one and I'll be there until it's time to come back for training," Harry admitted.
"Next year's a world cup year, lad. You won't have to do much," the coach promised. "Since you didn't play enough last season, you didn't qualify to try out for the national team. You will next time, but not this time." He gave him a smile. "That means we won't need you to do more than practice in your spare time until next fall."
"Thanks," he offered, grinning at him. "I can always practice with Draco and Ron." He looked at their PR wizard again. "I've already been asked by the editor of Witch World Weekly. Hazel something or other."
"That's fine, I can call her directly, Harry. I'll tell her someone told you and you haven't had a chance to read them yet, that you're presently on a job or a dig or whatever you call them that doesn't give you enough free time to read at the moment. Should I let slip about the next one?"
"I'm not sure. Let me call Alex." He touched his arm and thought at him, then nodded. "He said no, the goblins would announce it after we check in the first time from the spot."
"That's fine. I'll tell her you're hard at work and don't have time to read for fun. What are you studying?"
"Preservation techniques with Bill Weasley, he's joined us on this one and the next one. Plus I'm learning a lot about Egyptian and the ancient Arab world's mythology."
"Even better. That won't give you much time to read books like this." He gave him a gentle smile. "Now, go see Ron's mum and dad, warn them. I don't think anyone has yet. They'll let you throw fits and feed you dinner. What do you call those jobs? Digs like in archeology?"
"We usually call them assignments or excavations, but we're not digging much this time. I don't know what you'd really call it."
"That's fine, I'll call it an assignment. After all, you're an apprentice, you don't choose," he offered. Harry relaxed and nodded. "Let me handle this. You go visit the Weasleys and give them Ron's love." He nodded, heading to do that through the other fireplace in the office. He looked at the coach. "Have you read them yet?" He shook his head. "Harry has every right to want to kill someone. He also has every right to sue someone. It's going to get a bit messy. Want my copies?" He nodded. "Then I'll send them over and call the school to make sure someone there knows. Do we know who told him?"
"One of the other Banes probably. He said the second book was at the house where someone sent it."
"Ah. I'll leave that part out. You have a good night and I'll floo the books over in a few minutes, after I call Hazel." He signed off.
The coach went to make himself a glass of soda to wait and read with. He'd probably need something stronger if it was that bad, but he'd start here.
Harry came out of the floo and Mr. Weasley cheerfully cast the dusting off spell for him. "It's not good news," he said bitterly. "Ron and Bill are fine. We're working with him on this and the next site." He looked at both worried parents. "Did you know someone wrote about my life? That there's two books about my first two years at school out in the muggle world?" They both shook their heads and sat down. "There is. It's bad. It's very bad." He sat down next to Mrs. Weasley and she gave him a cuddle. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, dear. I'm sorry someone did this to you."
"Me too, but I'm going to kill them."
"I know, dear," she soothed. "Let me call the others. Let's see who else knows."
"I'm going to call Dumbledore first," Mr. Weasley admitted. "Let's see who knows there."
"Greg sent them to Alex," he offered.
"Then he probably sent one to Severus too," she pointed out gently. "We'll see who has it." He nodded, snuggling into her side. "You poor thing. What did Alex say, Harry?"
"He took me out to help me blow holes in the sand. He even saved me from the scorpions I blew up and sent flying."
"I'm glad he did."
Mr. Weasley got up and tossed some floo powder into the fireplace. "Albus Dumbledore." His head spun into the fire to fill it. "Books, Albus?"
"Minerva has them," he said calmly. He couldn't see Harry, Mr. Weasley was blocking him. "I thought it might be one of her students, that way she could figure out who and warn them of retaliation from Harry. Plus she could report to the Ministry and make sure they liked her as a future Headmistress."
"If she finds out who wrote them, I want to know so I can hurt them greatly," Harry said coldly. "Not have her warn them about me."
"Oh, Harry, I didn't see you there," he said with a small smile. "How are you doing?"
"I'm in a blind and bloody rage, Albus. How about you?" he asked bitterly.
"Now, now, my dear boy, there's no need for that."
"I take it you read them?" he demanded.
"Just the first little bit. That's why I thought it must be a Gryffindor."
"Yeah, well, it's going to be a dead and unlamented Gryffindor when I finish with them," he said coldly. "You can tell her I said that."
"I shall, Harry. How is your learning going?"
"Fine. Why? Needed something from there?"
"Just wondering if you were learning from all the knowledge you were saving."
"Dumbledore, if he's coming back for a third time, just spit it out," he said coldly.
"No, he's not, Harry, but the Dark never ceases. Someone else will take up his position some day."
"Good, then Ron's grandkids can deal with them in their old age. I've had enough of being the hero."
"I doubt it."
"I did do a bit of that myself," he reminded him.
"Yeah, and the press never hounded every little thing you do and asked what sort of knickers you wear," he said dryly. "Tell her I want to know."
"Fine. I shall. I'll have her forward her report to you as well. How about that?"
"Fine," he agreed. Dumbledore smiled at them all before disappearing. "He knew."
"I think he did," Mrs. Weasley said dryly, looking at her spouse. "Probably the whole time."
"He probably knows who it was. Only someone with a spell to see the past, or who saw things in a pensieve, which he keeps religiously, would know about some of that stuff," Harry noted. "That means it was someone who was a student when I was there."
"We'll have to see where she starts getting things wrong to see what year she was in," Arthur Weasley noted. He called the twins, getting their wife. "Tipsy, darling, did you or the twins know that someone dreadful wrote books about Harry's life?"
"Would that be the book two someone was talking about, dad?" one of the twins called from off to one side.
"I remember one of them asking you to autograph her book," Tipsy admitted. She looked at Arthur, then at Harry. "You all right, love?"
"Fine, we'll bring dinner up, Molly. Be there in about an hour, dear." She signed off, calling Charley next. "Charley, did you hear that someone wrote books about Harry's life?"
"No," he said quietly, drawing it out a bit. "Who?"
"We don't know yet," that same twin offered. "We're having dinner at home tonight. Wanna come?"
"Please. Get something spicy for me. We've had nothing but salted pork for days." He signed off, going to talk to his boss to get the night off.
"Do we call Percy?" Tipsy asked.
"Only if you tell Mum first," that twin offered. "Oi, Fred!" he yelled. "Found out something about that book!"
"Really?" he asked, coming in from the back yard with Oliver. "What?"
"It's a book about Harry's life," Tipsy told him. "He's upset enough to swear in front of your mother and not get his mouth soaped." That was saying something, Molly had tried to soap hers once.
"Huh. Oliver, want to join us for dinner?"
"Please. Does the coach know?" She shrugged. "Let me call him to make sure." He headed for the upstairs apartment to change and call his coach, just in case he didn't know. They handled things like this for them.
"We're getting dinner," George told him. "We've got about an hour."
"I'll call up the alley to see who's making what," he promised.
"Charley needed something with flavor and spice. He's had salted pork a lot recently," she offered.
"Then Chinese it is," he agreed, going to raid their stash of muggle money to head out for that. While he was waiting, he noticed a small bookstore up the street and went up there to see if he could find copies of these books. He did and they had both of them so he bought them both and headed back to pick up his order.
Percy looked up as Minerva McGonagall walked into his office, standing up immediately. "Professor," he said with a smile, "how can I help you today?"
"You can find whoever broke into Albus' pensieve and punish them most grandly," she said, handing over the books and a copy of her report. She had already sent a copy off to Harry before he had even asked. He stared at the books in horror. "They were quite correct from what I'm told and what I witnessed."
He took them, shaking his head with a small moan as he looked at the titles. "I'll bring this to the Minister's attention immediately," he promised. "Where is Mr. Potter?"
"With your parents at the moment. Having dinner with the twins and Oliver Wood from what I understand."
"Thank you, Professor. This is a great service to us all. At the very least you're keeping him from killing someone."
"No, I won't," she assured him. "I'll stand there and cheer with Miss Summer's help." She nodded at him and gave him a gentle smile. "Run up there now. I'm headed out for dinner and will be back in my rooms later if he needs anything." She left, going to do as she had said. She needed a drink now, she had no idea things were that bad in the boy's house.
Percy did indeed go running through the halls for the second time in his life. The Minister for Magic was coming out of his office and stared in horror. "The Americans again?"
"Worse, the muggles," he said, handing over the books and the report. "Professor McGonagall was handed the books and wrote that for you. She's off to grab something then heading home. Mr. Potter does know and he's with my parents at the moment and most of my family. She said she'd stand there and cheer as he killed whoever had written them."
"Oh, dear." He looked at the report, which included a synopsis and the facts as she knew them. "Oh, dear Merlin," he sighed, heading off. "Tell your family that I'm handling it and we'll try to track down this author. We don't want them killed but hopefully we can make them stop."
"Yes, sir." He went back to his office to call the Burrow. "Mum, I've handed Professor McGonagall's report to the Minister on her orders, he said he's handling it and they'll try to stop the author from printing anything more. He has both books and the report, and she said she's sent a copy to Harry."
"Thank you, Percy." She glanced behind her. "What do you know of this?"
"This is the first I've heard of it," he admitted quietly. "Those were muggle books though and I don't really associate."
She nodded. "I understand. I'll call you tomorrow to talk about them more, maybe he'll have more idea then." He nodded and signed off. She went back to the table. "That report's on it's way, Harry, and the Minister has it in his hand to help you."
"Wonderful," he said bitterly. "Let's hope he doesn't spread it around more by making some grand speech and making it worse."
"He won't do that," Arthur chided gently.
"Yes he will," Tipsy snorted. "He'll make some grand speech about our way of life being eroded by the muggles and gently slip in how these books had been authenticated by a few sources and how tragic this was to happen. Then Harry's going to kill the birds carrying his fanmail to him."
"Or worse, Ron'll get more and we'll end up with a new niece or nephew when Dawnie reacts," Charley said dryly, taking another bite of his dinner. "This is good. What is this?"
"Muggle Chinese food. There's a new place just opened up down the street from the Leaky. Not that expensive and fairly decent," Fred offered.
"I refuse to go in there," George told him. "Too muggle for me and I never remember the name of anything."
"Fortunately I found the books up in that muggle bookstore on the corner," Fred offered.
"I'd rather be poked in the eye repeatedly with a rusty nail than read them," Harry said bitterly, stuffing his mouth full of noodles. "The food we had in Tibet, in the villages, was kinda like this, only it had goat instead of chicken."
"It's probably what they caught the most recently," Tipsy offered. "I know I've eaten some things I'd rather not think about during some of my travels over the years. Japan was the worst yet, I ate a fish there that nearly killed me."
"Ooh," Harry winced. "What happened?"
"Puffer fish have toxins," she sighed. "I didn't understand when the waiter asked me how much of a shock I wanted. It was more than enough for me."
"Why did you...."
"Go to Japan?" the twins asked.
"To get back the idea someone had stolen and used to hurt others with," she said lightly, smirking at them. "I made them quite sorry as well."
"Well, I knew you were a scary woman," Harry teased with a small grin. She beamed and nodded. At least until one of the younger twins decided to throw his noodle and hit her in the ear. Everyone laughed while she dug it out and cleaned up the mess her children were making.
Professor Snape looked up as someone knocked on his classroom door. No one had detention tonight, and he knew none of his students would be coming to *him* for help. "What?" he demanded.
"It's me," Luna Lovegood said, walking in at his snarl. "Sir, I'm having an ethical crisis. Is it ethical for me to ask Ethan to help me track down the person who so upset Harry, and therefore Dawn, so he can kill them?"
"Why do you ask me such questions?"
"Because I figure you do know ethics better than I do, have more of firm footing on it really, and would know the various cases where murder was more acceptable than not."
He shook his head. "There's not any time it's acceptable except in self-defense or in defense of someone who's unable to defend themselves."
"Oh." She pouted. "Then I can't let him teach me how to track this person down?"
"No," he said patiently. "It would be unethical to do so."
"Pity. Well, I guess we'll just have to go with whatever Wesley finds Dawn on the author. Though he did say what he already knew was that she was a female muggle nearing middle age with a child."
"I doubt it," he snorted.
"Me as well, sir, but that's what her public profile says so far." She shrugged. "I don't know, sir. Who's handling this investigation here? I know the person had to have broken some rules while they were attending to get that information. After all, Dawn talked to Ron and he said even *he* hadn't know some of those specifics."
"Are you thinking someone used Legimens to get into Mr. Potter's mind?" he demanded.
"No, I'm thinking more practically. The headmaster knew because he's avoiding the subject with Dawn. He danced very skillfully about what he knew and how he knew it, but did admit that some of those memories were in his pensieve. I'm thinking someone broke into it, professor."
"Which would have to have been a student at that time," Snape noted. She nodded. "Still, we cannot punish them if they've graduated."
"No, but if we can find out who, how, and why, then we can pass it back to the Ministry and cackle in delight as they punish them."
"Good point," he agreed. "Very well. Professor McGonagall is the one who did the report for the Ministry. You may hand it to her and if she wishes my help, I'll gladly do so. Until then, keep your consorts out of this school."
"I flooed Wesley, Ethan was there cuddling up to him, sir," she said fondly. "So we got to watch as Ethan had sex with him to think." She grinned and walked out, heading up the stairs to talk to Professor McGonagall. Behind her, Professor Snape moaned and shut the door, locking it this time so he could go lay down to get rid of his new headache. She smiled as she walked into the Transfiguration classroom. "Ma'am, Wesley is finding out all he can about this author's public persona but he did say it was probably some sort of illusion since she's supposedly nearing middle age with a child."
"They both are, professor. Ethan wanted to teach me how to find the author myself though magical means so we could hand her directly to Harry. We flooed Wesley tonight and Dawn was a bit upset. Brought Professor Armwrench strolling in as well. I think he was more worried about her destroying the world though." She beamed at her. "I asked Professor Snape if it would be ethical to hunt her down that way so Harry could kill her but he said no. It wasn't in self-defense so it was wrong."
"I suppose he would have the best handle on that," she admitted dryly. "Are you suggesting we start an investigation?"
"Well, the person must have been a student and they must have broken into Dumbledore's pensieve. He admitted to Dawn that he had most of that information in there, especially some of those scenes from Harry's life. He danced around knowing about the books too much so we figured he must have already read both of them. Professor Snape suggested I was talking about Legimens but I think that's too rare and any student with that gift would have been caught using it, so I'm going to probably rule that one out. Though I do believe that it was a student who graduated before Harry did. After all, the first book's a year old. They couldn't have written it while they were here, there's too many nosy brats in this school, and a great number of them are either Hufflepuffs, who would have told Harry to get cuddles from him, or Gryffindors, who would have killed the person on the spot for daring to touch another of them."
McGonagall smiled. "Some of them would have left her alone."
"I doubt it," she snorted. "Harry was seen as a bit off but anything like this would have upset him and possibly made his magic go off without his help, which would have destroyed a lot of people. No one wanted that so they would have fixed it for him and torn up her story at that time."
"So, you think it was someone who graduated in Harry's fifth or fourth year?"
"It almost would have had to of been. Someone closer would still be here, but he had people who talked to him in those years, who might have gossiped a bit and gotten them interested. Remember, Oliver graduated in Harry's third and he was his captain." The teacher sighed and nodded. "He knew more than most people probably gave him credit for. He might not have gossiped, but he might have told another team member, who would have been mostly in the twin's year. Since they were third years during Harry's first, Ron might have told them a lot more about the general stuff, and they probably would have gossiped a bit with the ladies on the team, probably to help them get along with such a young boy on their team. Again, more than enough to whet an appetite and induce someone brave, yet stupid, to steal the headmaster's pensive for a bit. Though, we three girls are in disagreement about whether the author was male or female. Dawn thinks male because of some of the description but Ginny thinks female because of all the food. I'm reserving judgement but for some reason I'm tipped more toward female than not."
"I see." She looked at her. "What would we do with this information?"
"Turn it over to the ministry so they can finish the investigation and punish them while we cackle madly at the sight of their suffering, plus up the security on the head office."
"Oh, indeed, that will happen," she assured her. "Thank you, Miss Lovegood. Ten points to you for your help tonight." She beamed. "Send me whatever your Wesley sends you and go to bed."
"Yes, ma'am. We got to see Ethan having sex while thinking," she said happily, heading out to go to bed alone and be happy with herself, leaving a blushing teacher behind.
"I did not need that mental image," McGonagall said dryly. She replaced it with the image of Dumbledore frying by Harry's hand for knowing about this and not telling him.
"Mr. Sanders," a defense attorney asked blandly, staring at the young DNA tech on the stand. "Read any good books recently?"
"A few. Did you want to know about the last textbook or the last fun reading book?"
"Textbook?" he asked dryly.
"Yes, I recently picked up a copy of _Potion Making Through the Ages_ which is a historical account of Wiccan potion brewing. I'm a chemistry genius and I wanted to see if some of them had any relevance and reality or if they were all folk cures."
"Were some of them?"
"Considering I found the base for aspirin in there, yeah," he said dryly. "There were quite a few herbal remedies, some of which I don't think would work, but some were fairly interesting to see if they could."
"I see." He stared at him. "How about fun reading? I heard you picked up the latest Harry Potter books? That you know someone who may be like that boy?"
"Well, I know someone with that name, but I can't be certain he's not the one in the book. I don't know if he went through everything like that while in school. He's a friend's apprentice and I only know him that way. Scientific logic and reasoning would make me keep an open mind until I had all the facts and then make a decision based on them, as was proper in any case or in research."
"Oh. What field is he in?"
"A subset of archeology. I'm not that familiar with it and what I do know is fairly boring. Something about pictograms and tombs and treasures." He shrugged. "Not my thing. I like chemistry. I basically do what you're doing and sit there and nod when they babble on. Did you have a question about this case?" he asked. The judge coughed and gave him a look. "Sorry, sir."
"That's fine, son. I enjoyed those books myself," he said with a glare to the defense lawyer. "Get on with it."
"Fine. You examined the samples from my client?"
"No, I ran the samples for your client. It's not like I can put DNA under a microscope and look at it to compare. A machine does that for me and spits out a concise report in whatever forms I need it to." The attorney blinked a few times and took a step back. "What we do is we take a swab with a sample on it, in cases like this, and we treat it with a few things, put it into a small sample bottle, put the bottle into the machine, input which tests to run on it, then take the report after the machine does what it took scientists years to do before on a single strand. In this case, we used a comparison model to compare his DNA to someone else's sample to see if it matched or not. Which it didn't at first but the second sample we took from the victim was more clear and it did match that one. I turn over my results to the CSI in charge of the case and they make conclusions and assumptions based on that fact until they find the proof they need to bring in a witness, who is then questioned and either accused or let go. It's the same thing we do with physical evidence, like shoe prints and fingerprints. It works in every city around the globe."
The lawyer's eyes were bulging by this time. "How did you get my client's sample?"
"According to the notes I made, there was a match off the CODIS system, which is the national DNA databank started by the FBI. It matched to your client the second time. The first sample was cloudy and no match could be made."
"Sorry, partially degraded and not fully runable. We tried anyway to see if we could get any legitimate result but it wasn't statistically significant until the second sample."
"Let's talk about your private research," the lawyer said.
"I don't talk about my private research. Since the first time I announced what I was working on someone has kidnaped my wife, broken into my lab, and broken into my home. I don't talk about anything I'm working on privately because I don't want more such incidents to occur."
"Your honor," the lawyer sighed.
The judge looked at him. "What sort of research, generally, are you working on?"
"Pain killers, non-addictive, natural, pain killers."
"I see. That's not relevant, is it?" Greg shook his head. "Do you have any other *relevant* questions for this witness, counselor?"
"No, your honor," he ground out. "I'm through with him."
"Me as well," the prosecutor offered, smiling at him.
"You may go, Mr. Sanders," the judge said patiently.
Greg smiled and stepped down, heading out of the courtroom, where Warrick grabbed his arm. "I'm fine."
"I know you're fine," he said, looking at him. "Was it okay?"
"He asked a few odd questions and I answered to the best of my abilities," he said with a small grin. He looked over as Penn came out, shrugging. "Didn't I?"
"You did," he agreed. "Inference..."
"Is the truth. All that happened since I said anything about my research."
"Point," Penn agreed.
"He asked about your research?"
"He also heard from someone that I know someone named Harry Potter and wanted to know if I thought he was the same one in the book. I pointed out that I hadn't talked to Harry about anything like in the book and didn't know if all those experiences had been his so therefore I couldn't make a logical or scientific note of whether or not he was until I did so," he said with a small grin. "Come on, man, you can buy me some coffee."
"You need to give up that habit, before you pass it on to your kids," Penn complained, walking him off. "That was good," he praised once they were in his limo.
"Thanks. I thought so. I'm wondering who told him I knew Harry."
"Me too." He grimaced. "You've got a lot of political people around you."
"Who I'll kill if they did that," Greg said dryly. "No one on my shift would, except maybe Hodges. Ecklie would. I called him a dictator the other day. Maybe one of the dayshift guys, or he had me staked out."
"Maybe," Penn agreed, handing him a cup of coffee from his onboard coffeemaker. "Here, the good stuff."
"Bless you. I had to make due with Starbucks on the way in." He sipped carefully, smiling at the pleasant taste. "Oooh, that's good," he said, relaxing a bit. "So, why did you show up? To nibble on me about the temporal spell?"
"Kinda, yeah. How're you going to explain doing that in that amount of time?"
"Lots and lots of coffee," he said dryly. "No interruptions, and it wasn't that much more. Everything had a good date on it for when it was run and I was in there longer than anyone thinks since I caught a nap or three." He finished off that cup and got some more, grinning at his old friend. "Did Sascha come out?"
"She did, and I like her. Why was she out here?"
"I'm going out into the field."
"Ahhh, so you need someone to take over?" Greg nodded. "Are you looking at normal people?"
"I am. That's not a deciding factor for me. I won't claim it may not be a tie breaker, but it's not the deciding factor. I want someone who's going to be just as good, if not better, than I am in the lab. They've got to live up to my standards, my goals, and my abilities. No one lesser is allowed." He blew across his coffee. "We're going to have nights where there's going to be three and four hundred samples coming in. They've got to be able to handle the stress and the pressure and not lose it and not mess.... The dayshift guy that just got fired," he said dryly. "It was him. He saw the book when he came in and the spell was down. He's heard me muttering about Alex and them in the past. He wants to hurt me and my reputation because I fixed his mistakes and found his mistakes. I'd say it was him or Ecklie got someone."
Penn nodded. "I think you're right, Greg. Are you in tonight?" He shook his head. "Good, then let's head to your house so I can pick up Teller, who's mooching up to your daughter. Then we'll go to work and you can go play with the kids."
"He's a great babysitter. I had no idea this was going to go on tonight. They were saying I'd be called tomorrow."
"That's all right," he promised. "We didn't miss a show." They pulled into Greg's driveway a few minutes later and he got out after cleaning his coffeecup and let Teller in. "Have a nice night, Greg."
"You two too. Have a good set of shows." He headed inside, smiling at his daughter sitting on top of the twins. "Hey, you're too big for that," he teased, tickling her once she had gotten off them to hug him. "Were you protecting them?"
"Uncle Teller said to," she defended, beaming up at him. "You done?" He nodded, smiling at her. "Good, you read to us!"
"Sure, Cassandra. Let me check the machine first. Did anyone call?"
"Uncle Ray. Uncle Blair there."
"Thank you, princess." He walked over to listen to the message, then smiled. "Good, he'll have him in better shape soon." He grabbed a few books and sat down in front of his twins to catch them if they moved and to read to her. She loved being read to. She was going to be really smart when she grew up, just like her mommy.
Ray Kowalski looked at the guy on his couch. "Where were you?" he asked quietly. "Greg said no one could find you."
"Salem, subbing," he moaned, flipping onto his back. "Can't this wait?"
"I didn't want to wake you," he offered. Blair gave him a long stare. "I'm being a nice guy, give me some nice guy credit," he teased.
"You are a nice guy. Wish Jim had been like you," he muttered as he drifted off again.
"Someone's got to come look at you, man, you're not a normal Sandburg," Kowalski said, sitting down to stare at him. If he knew anyone but Greg out of that group, he'd call them. Or maybe Greg would be calling back tomorrow. He did work nights. He'd just make do until then because Blair was not normal. He was quiet, he was unmoving, and he was mumbling. Not a Sandburg thing to do by any means.
Greg looked over as his wife walked up to where he was leaning against the side of the police station, giving her a lazy smile. "Bored, babe?"
"No, but we've got a sitter," she said smugly. "Luna's having a fit with some homework and accidentally sent herself over here. Severus said to keep her for a few hours so they could send away the things she had called in her place accidentally. Apparently Professor Armwrench was rolling around on the floor about it for nearly an hour and no help at all," she finished with a slight grin, stealing a kiss and leaning against his chest. "How's Blair?"
"Still not Sandburg-like. We've got to get his notes. If I'm right, he's on a long slide downward and about halfway to the end," he said grimly, cuddling her. "That means I've got to call Jim."
"Want me to go check on him?"
"Would you?" he pleaded, grinning at her. "You're so much better with people than I am. I'll even get his notes for you so you can read them to him if it helps?" She smiled and gave him a gentle squeeze. "Thanks, babe." He gave her another kiss. "I've soon got to go back to the lab of doom. We've narrowed down the intern list for swingshift to three people and Ecklie told Grissom to hire someone, he didn't care if it was Satan. So I made a joke about Ethan," he admitted with a smirk. She chuckled and pinched his back, making him smirk harder. "Not my fault."
"I know, but you know better." She gave him another kiss. "Let me get to Chicago to check on Sandburg. You be a good boy and I told Luna how to call on the phone when she got ready to leave so you could get the kids." He nodded, stealing a deep kiss. They pulled apart and found Hodges and Nick standing there smirking at them. "I'm married to him, I can get him sweaty and make him have dirty thoughts if I want," she said smugly, heading off.
Greg winked at Nick. "She's off to deal with the quiet, non-bouncing Sandburg and see what's wrong with him."
"Got my samples done yet?" he asked hopefully.
"Nearly an hour ago, when I paged you," he said tolerantly, walking them inside. "Hodges, yours ran too." He handed him that paper and handed Nick his. "Not a match."
"Crap." He started to scratch a spot on his neck, groaning a bit.
"Hey! Quit that! Let me look at it for you," Greg ordered, moving the hand before he could start flaking off skin, or worse, puss in his lab. "It's a sore, Nick. You can't scratch that. Let me get some alcohol for you."
"Sit down and shut up, Nick," he ordered. "It's me or Cath." Nick sat down, she fussed worse. Greg knew he was going into parent overdrive, but that was fine with him. He was a daddy, it was normal for him to bandage scrapes and cuts. He came back with an alcohol pad and dabbed at the edges, then tested it. "No infection," he offered. "This looks familiar...." He realized where he'd seen a sore like that before, because it wasn't looking like a normal sore to him. He stood Nick up and dragged him off by the arm, all the way to the coroner's lab. "Doc, do you have about thirty seconds to look at a sore on Nick's neck?" he asked from the doorway.
"It's nothing," Nick offered.
"Shut up, Nick," the doctor said firmly. "If Greg thinks it is, he's probably right." He came over to look at the small sore right under Nick's ear. "That's not a sore, that looks suspiciously like skin cancer."
"That's what I thought. We had a coworker when I was interning who found a few of those," Greg admitted.
"Skin cancer," Nick said blankly, just staring straight ahead. "Cancer?"
"It's probably fine, Nick, but I'll call a group I know, a dermatologist, who can get you in pretty quickly. For right now, I want you to go home, just in case they want to do the biopsy tomorrow. Usual stuff, no heavy alcohol, no really hard food since it might take a bit of anaesthesia for the surgery. Greg, drag him down to Grissom and make him look at it, tell Grissom that I'm sending Nick home until someone more competent in that field looks at that sore. If he doesn't want to listen, make him."
"It's probably nothing," Nick complained.
"Hush, Nick. It's not nothing. It's an open spot on your skin that looks like a lesion. Until you get that looked at, I don't want you around the various nasties that you can pick up in the labs and in here. Now, Greg."
"Thanks, Doc." He tugged on Nick's arm and Nick ran into a tray of waiting implements. "I'll come back and pick that up."
"It's my fault," Nick offered, getting free to do that. They both cleaned them up and Greg found a piece had went under something else so he floated them out using his wand. And got a finger as well.
"I was looking for that," the doctor said, grabbing it. "Very helpful, thank you, Greg. Drag him off now."
Greg grabbed Nick by the arm and drug him off again, going to stop Grissom by standing in front of him. "Grissom!" he shouted.
"Not now, Greg."
"Yes, now," he said, getting into his path so the man had to stop. "The doc is sending Nick home. I was looking at a sore on his neck so I could alcohol it because he was scratching only it's not a sore it's some sort of lesion and the doc agreed that it looked like skin cancer so Nick's being sent home until someone like a professional can look it over," he babbled. "He said so."
"I'm fine," Nick complained.
"Excuse me, skin cancer?" Grissom asked. "Where?" Nick and Greg both pointed at the spot. He looked at it. "That does look like a skin cancer lesion I saw on a patient recently. If Doc Robins saw it and said you should go home until he can get you in somewhere, go home until he can get you in somewhere. Follow whatever orders he gave you, Nick. I don't want to see you in his office for any non-work reason."
"I'm sure it's nothing. It's gotta be nothing," he complained loudly, well whined really.
"If found and treated at this stage, skin cancer is ninety-percent survivable," Greg said firmly. "They may not need to do anything like radiation treatments. They've got a lot of options when it's that small. So you'll do as ordered."
"Did you need a ride, Nick?" Grissom asked. "I don't want you to drive if you might go into shock and have a wreck."
"I'm fine!" he complained loudly, bringing Warrick and Catherine. "I'm fine, tell them I'm fine."
"You were earlier, why aren't you now?" Warrick asked.
"He was scratching a spot on his neck that looked funny to me so I brought him down to the doc and he said it looked like skin cancer too," Greg told him. "He's being sent home until someone can do a biopsy."
"Oh, man," he hissed, patting Nick on the shoulder. "It'll be okay. This stuff is pretty easily dealt with early on."
Catherine looked at the sore. "Yeah, that does look like most of the skin cancer I've seen on sun bunnies. It'll be okay. Usually they can remove the spot, watch you real closely from then on. Maybe some minor treatment if they find more spots advancing. I hear they can laser them off now."
"I'll find you some really good sunscreen," Greg promised.
"I'm in the middle of a case," Nick complained.
"I'm on two," Warrick offered.
"I'm on one but it's a homicide," Catherine told Grissom.
"I'll take over your case, Nick. Don't worry about. Worry about yourself. We don't want you to die from this and I want you to get better. So I'm going to agree with the Doc Robins. Until you bring me a note from whoever he sends you to, you can't come back." Nick's whole body slumped. "I know that's rough, but he'll try to get someone to see you within the next few days."
"Maybe I should go to the ER?" he suggested.
"It's Friday night right after the first of the month," Catherine told him. "It's packed with accidents and bar brawls. Besides, they'd probably tell you the same thing." She looked over as the doc came down the halls. "Did we bother you?"
"No, actually, I called the group I know of and talked to the on-call for the evening. He said to call the office tomorrow during normal hours and he'd gladly work him in during a lunch if possible." He handed the card to Nick. "Call them first thing in the morning. They get in at nine, so they'll be up and there by ten after." Nick nodded, tucking that into his front pocket. "Don't forget, Nick."
"I won't. Grissom said I needed a slip to come back," he complained.
"Nick, I've seen people die of this if not treated," the doctor said firmly. "Do you really want to end up on my table?" He shuddered and shook his head. "Then this time follow orders and don't whine. It's for your own good. Now, shoo. You've dealt with decomposed bodies and I don't want to think what could have transferred into that lesion." He nodded and trudged off.
"I can drive you home if you need me to," Warrick called after him.
"No, I'm good. I'll stop and get a beer, then head home," Nick called back. "Thanks, Greg."
"Better you healthy than dead," he offered. "I'll get that sunscreen I know about for you." He looked at Catherine. "Is that shop on South Eastern still open?"
"Yeah, it is. Lindsey gets hers from there. I just sent her some recently." She stared at Nick's back. "I hope he's all right."
"The doctors there are some of the best in this city of the overly-large sunball," the coroner offered. "They can even do the biopsy in-office so he won't have to wait too long."
"Good," Greg agreed. "I've got to start wearing some too." He shook his head. "I used to and then I quit when the kids came. Too much trouble."
"Yeah, but you oil those kids down enough that they're slippery every morning," Warrick teased. "Just take some of their extra to do your own skin."
"Mine's in my foundation and my moisturizer," Catherine admitted. "That way I don't have to put on something else in the morning." She looked at Grissom. "Who's covering for Nick?"
"I will or Sara can."
"Sara's got the night off."
"Like she minds coming in," Greg snorted. Grissom gave him a look. "She never does."
"Point," he agreed. "Did I hear Emilia earlier?"
"She went to check on the mumbling, non-bouncing, non-rambling, sleeping Sandburg on Kowalksi's couch. That reminds me, I've got to call Jim to get his notes." He headed for his lab, going to do that. He closed the door and dialed, putting it on speaker. "Jim?" he asked at the irritated grunt.
"Do you know what time it is, Sanders?" Jim Ellison, Sentinel to Blair's former Guide, asked, sounding a bit upset.
"Sorry, man, for me it's the middle of the morning. We just found Blair."
"How is he?"
"Non-bouncing. I need his notes."
"I have them in storage but ...."
"I don't want everything, you can keep the personal stuff, but I need his notes. If I'm right it's going to take a heroic effort to save him now."
"What?" he asked flatly. "What's wrong with him?"
Greg put it as delicately as he could. "Jim, what would have happened if you two were in the jungle and you had sent Blair away?"
"You did. You repudiated him. I'm sure there's some nicer ceremony in the jungle since you'd be the one more likely to live on, but yeah, you did. No one blames you for it," he assured him, "but now we've got to stabilize Sandburg and we'll need his notes to do that." Someone tapped on the door. "Five minutes!" He looked at the phone again. "So I need them tomorrow, all of them. Send them Fed Ex or however."
"Have you seen Darryl yet?"
"No, not yet. Why?"
"He left home after yelling at his father about how he treated Blair."
"Good for the kid," Greg agreed. "We *all* agree on that. So, notes, books, that stuff tomorrow. You can keep everything else. Right now he's in Chicago and I'll be figuring out how to get him back here with Emilia."
Jim went silent for a moment. "There was something said about some legends, where Guides had wandered off after being sent away and coming back with a new sentinel. They were considered spirits, solid ones, but still no longer human. The rest of the legends Blair found said that they basically went off into the jungle and never came back."
"That's the hazards of the jungle, this isn't and we can probably help him somehow. For right now, I'll be on the lookout for Darryl and you send me those notes for Emilia. She's great at research."
"Sure, Greg. Thanks. Let me know?"
"Yeah, we'll keep you informed. You kick Simon around for us though, okay?" he asked with a small smirk. "We really wanna do that ourselves."
"Sure. I have in the past. Thanks, Greg. Night."
"Night." He hung up and opened the door, looking at Catherine. "We found Sandburg. He's on Kowalski's couch. He's not bouncing, he's mumbling, he's not reading. I sent Emilia to look him over and Jim's sending us his notes."
"That's fine. I've got a sample." She held up the swab.
"Ooooh, my favorite present," he joked, going to run it for her. Thankfully it was a slow night for samples. "Can you call the house? See if Luna's still okay?"
"Sure." She dialed the house, but got a busy signal. "I think someone knocked the phone off the hook." Greg stepped away from the equipment and concentrated, putting the phone at home back on the hook with a touch of magic. Then he shrugged and went back to doing her sample for her. She tried again, getting a startled Luna. "That beeping sound is a busy signal, it means try again," she said in greeting. "Greg wanted me to check on you. Yes, it's Catherine. No, the children aren't demonic."
"And they shall stay that way or Luna will find herself in a very bad way," Greg said dryly.
"Greg said they'd still better be non-demonic." She listened. "No, that's a normal toddler, Luna. Be thankful he's wearing clothes." She laughed. "One of the twins learned how to get his diaper off. He's trying to crawl around naked and she can't figure out how to put one on."
"Tape goes in the back," he said dryly. "I'll be home on lunch break. Tell her it'll prepare her for having some of her own."
Catherine snickered. "Greg said to think of this as preparation for your own eventual kids, Luna. No, the brown stuff that says peanut butter goes on bread with the stuff in the fridge that says jelly. Then make a sandwich and cut it into squares and put 'San in her high chair. She'll only eat in it. Put the twins in those carrier things so they can have a bottle. Yeah, I know, it's hard. I raised Lindsey all by myself, and I was working." Luna sniffled something. "It's not that hard. Kids younger than you do it every year, Luna. Sure. Of course. I'll come back with Greg for lunch if I can. I'm sure it'll be fine. Remember, the tape starts in the back and goes to the front, okay? Yeah, like that. Good girl!" she praised. "Sure. You sit down and read something to them."
"They all like potions and transfigurations," Greg offered, pulling out the results and smiling at them before handing them to her.
"Thank you, Greg. I've got to go, Luna. Don't worry about it, they're not demonic, they won't kill you, they'll just get on your nerves. Think about the stories you can tell back at the school. Sure, I'm sure he could do that. See you soon." She hung up and shook her head. "She wanted to make sure there was a potion to make her infertile permanently."
"Yeah, there is, but she'd have to take it every ten years or so," he admitted with a small shrug. "If she asks Sev, I'm sure he'd have some made within days for her."
"Lindsey said there's a teen mother in her school," Catherine offered.
"We have a few but ours aren't allowed to bring their kids with them unless no one else can watch them," he told her. "It's thought to be too dangerous."
"I can see why. Thanks, Greg." She smiled and walked out, going to share the gossip that had calm and nerdy Luna Lovegood pulling out her hair because of Greg's kids. "Hey, Warrick, guess who's babysitting back at Greg's?" she asked as she walked into the garage.
"Lovegood?" He looked confused. "Why is she here?"
"She apparently sent herself here by accident, or so she babbled. She claims Greg's kids are more demonic than her Ethan." He laughed. "Apparently one of the boys figured out that no diapers are fun and was crawling around that way. It upset her greatly." He snickered, shaking his head. "So I said I'd go home with Greg for lunch to save her. Should we bring you back anything?"
"No, I'm good," he admitted. He grinned up at her. "Did she figure out diapers?"
"I told her how to put a new one on."
"I'm sure she'll have as much fun as I did my first time babysitting."
"Actually, she asked if there was a potion to make her permanently infertile."
Warrick smirked. "Is there?"
"Yes, but it needs to be renewed every ten years."
"I'm sure she'll have some within days of getting back then," he said smugly. She nodded and handed over the results, getting another smirk. "I believe we have our suspect."
"I think we do." He got up and they went to talk to the detective in charge of the case. He'd like this quite a lot.
Nick sat on the table in his paper gown, looking at the nurse. "I swear, I thought it was a bug bite or a scratch or something. Our DNA tech and our coroner both saw it and nearly yelled at me for it."
"No, it's not a sore," she offered gently. "It is a lesion but it's fairly early on in the phase it's in. This is a good time to find it and get it removed. You're not far enough along for chemo or rad if it is cancerous. And you're not too soon just to watch things. Though we are going to have to check your body for other spots. Now, will we have to check under your boxers?"
He shook his head quickly. "My swimming trunks are about the same size as these, that's why I wore them. I've never been a speedo guy or a skinnydipper, except a few times at night," he admitted sheepishly. "Wild youth and all."
"That's not a problem," she assured him with a smile. "I'm not much of one myself. So let's start with your arms, chest, and back. Remove the gown to your waist?" He nodded, doing so and bracing his arms on the table so she could look at them without his body interfering. She had to pull out her marker a few times. "You've got some smallish brown spots in unusual areas that are at the stage we'd keep a watch on," she offered as she marked the first one. "This will wash off within a few days. It's not permanent." He let out a nervous chuckle. "I did this earlier on a fifty-year-old woman, Mr. Stokes. The fact that you're not is worrisome, but you did state you are very athletic and like to do things that would draw sun to you. So we'll teach you how to protect your skin as well." He nodded at that. She moved on to look at his other side, finishing on his chest since he looked like someone who'd blush. She was right, he was. "No steady girlfriend?"
"No, not in a while," he admitted dryly. "No time. I work really crazy hours with a lot of overtime."
"Pity. You seem like the sort of guy girls would go for by the boatload." She finished marking a new spot on his stomach. "Okay, let's do your legs." She looked at the newly shaven spots. "You didn't have to do that," she teased. "But it's helpful," she finished at his blush. "Saves us some work." She worked from his right thigh down and then his left foot up, finding another spot, which she marked in a different color. "I think that one may be farther along so I'm marking it in a different color," she noted. She found one more spot just above his knee and marked that. "There we go, all done. Unless you think I should look under your boxers?" He blushed bright red at that. "Just move the legs up a bit, Mr. Stokes. I promise to be proper and I can get a male in here if you'd like."
"No, I trust you," he offered, moving his boxers up against his hips. She did find another spot and he moaned. "That makes twenty."
"That makes twenty-two with the one on your ankle and on your neck," she corrected. "Not the worst I've seen," she promised, putting away her pens. "I've seen people coming in with those lesions all over their body saying that they're just having an allergic reaction and it won't go away." He shuddered at that. "You should be fine," she promised. "There's treatments to kill the cells at the funny mole/dark spot stage. Our doctors are saying that lasering them does kill them." He perked up at that. "Plus, since it's non- cosmetic, your health insurance will cover it." He shook his head. "By Nevada law, they have to cover cancer treatment. Anything non-controversial or in testing, but they do have to cover it."
He nodded. "I'll have to make sure of that."
She smiled. "We can file those forms for you, Mr. Stokes. We're good at that." He smiled and nodded. "Let me get the doctor. You can cover up if you're cold or embarrassed." She finished writing notes on the chart and walked out, going to find the doctor and tell him about the second spot and all the marks she had made.
The doctor, an older African-American man, walked in smiling. "Mr. Stoker, I'm Doctor Altshire. How are you today?"
"I feel like a jigsaw puzzle with as many marks as she made." He gave him a long look. "My insurance really will cover this?"
He nodded. "By law they have to cover treatments for cancer, even pre-cancer like the new purple marks you have. Let me see where they're concentrated please." Nick took off his gown and let the doctor look. "You play a lot of shirtless sports?"
"Yeah, and I used to play football," he admitted. "I should kill my coach for having us shirtless outside in summer in Texas."
"He probably didn't know any better, Mr. Stokes. Some coaches don't." He patted him on the arm. "All right. What we're going to do today is get our practice's plastic surgeon in. He's going to do the biopsies here and send the samples off to Desert Palms. He's going to excise some skin from a few of those other marks too, just to have them checked, then we're going to talk about how you remove them and how to care for your skin. We'll call you with the results and at that time make your follow-up appointment. If the lesions aren't cancerous, we'll let you know then and you'll be back in about six months so we can look at those spots. If they are, you'll be back here to have them removed. Our group has had tremendous success using a CO2 laser to get rid of marks like those and kill the pre- cancerous cells."
"Like they use when they laser off wrinkles?" he asked.
"Exactly," he agreed, smiling at him. "You'll be sore, it'll be like first degree burns for a few days, but you shouldn't have to worry about sick leave. We can do maybe three or four sessions, you'll take that day and the next three days off."
"I work in a crime lab. I do a lot with bodies and samples and sometimes decomposing bodies."
"Ah." He nodded. "Then we might have to talk to your boss about the risk of infection. You might get to take a few weeks off in a row in that case. Do you have his number?"
Nick got up and went to his pants, pulling out his cellphone and finding the number. "Here, my direct supervisor, Grissom. Um, Gil Grissom. The director of the CSI unit is a putz and he'll try to fire me."
"Then you can sue the city," the doctor assured him. "They can't do that to you." He wrote down the number and smiled. "I see he's an alternate contact number?"
"Yeah, our boss is a lot like a father or a teacher. He's always around somehow." He slid back onto the table with a yawn. "Sorry, didn't get much of a nap."
"It's all right. I understand." He patted him on the knee. "For right now, I'm going to take pictures of all your marks, our plastic surgeon is a bit backed up. She had a showgirl in with a ruptured breast," he admitted quietly. Nick nodded quickly at that. "So, let me get the camera, and I'll bring in the pamphlets you'll need to start the education portion of your visit today." He got up and went to do that, bringing back the camera to film Nick's body and to take stills of it for his file. Why hadn't someone seen these before? "Have you been to the emergency room in the last six months, Mr. Stokes?"
"No, sir. Well, I did, but it was a head injury. They didn't do more than look in my eyes."
"Ah. No wonder no one saw those."
"Actually, one of my former girlfriends asked me about a mole on my shoulder," he admitted with a small sigh. "That was about a year ago. I should have had it checked then but I thought it was just a freckle or something."
"Many people do. Now you know better," he reminded him. "You can help others. The nurse said your DNA tech and your coroner both looked at the lesion?"
"Yeah, Greg caught me scratching it. I thought it was a bug bite or I had opened a spot while scratching. He made me sit down so he could clean it, that way he didn't have to disinfect the lab or anything I guess." He shrugged a bit. "He stopped while alcoholing it and drug me down to the coroner's office. Doc Robins said it was skin cancer, not a spot. Greg said he saw some on someone he had interned with." He shrugged again.
"Hold still." He took that picture again, shaking his head. "At least they got you in here immediately."
"I almost went to the ER last night but the one I cruised by had a pile of bodies in the waiting room."
"Last night was a night for it," he agreed. "First of the month so you've got all those who just got paid and just got their social security checks, so everyone was out last night. I imagine my brethren were very busy last night." He took few more stills of Nick's back, then filmed it, moving onto his right arm.
"Only if it's not treated," he assured him gently. "You got here in more than enough time. You're going to be one to watch but nothing else." Nick nodded, relaxing again. Someone knocked on the door. "Occupied."
A dark-haired woman walked in and shut the door behind her, smiling at Nick. "That's what I was counting on. I heard I have lesions to take off this specimen of a man?"
Nick grinned. "Hi."
"Hi, Mr. Stokes. I'm Cathy Le. I'm going to be your surgeon. I'll try to make any scars as small as possible." He nodded, still smiling. She looked at the other doctor. "How many?"
"Two. One on his neck and one on his ankle. He's got twenty other marks and I found a small one I'd like to include because it does look like it's starting to form." She nodded, handing him the special purple pen, which he used to mark another, very faint, spot. "His shift's DNA tech and coroner both figured out what this was. Doc Robins called me last night."
"Good!" she agreed firmly. "The faster you take care of these things the healthier you are," she agreed. "Now, to the practicalities. Have you eaten?"
"I had a beer last night, around two, and I tried to eat but I couldn't do more than force a piece of bacon and a bite of eggs, and maybe a glass of juice down."
"How long ago was that?"
"Maybe four hours?" he offered.
"Okay. I'm going to be using a local anesthetic on you. Do you have strong reactions?" He nodded. "Then we're going to have to wait two more hours to do that and you might need a ride home. Fortunately there was someone out there to do that for you." He shook his head slowly. "Brown hair, t-shirt, looked like a daddy with the spitup stain on his shoulder?"
"Your DNA tech?" the doctor asked. Nick nodded. "Apparently he's a very good friend." He moved on to tape and picture his chest. "There's another very faint one. I'm guessing she only used the room lights?" Nick nodded at that. "That's fine. These are very faint, just starting out."
"I used to play football," he said at the other doctor's pitied look. "In Texas."
"No wonder you have so much damage. Let's look at these two spots. Then I'll go prepare the in-house surgical suite to bring you in. It won't take too long and it shouldn't hurt too much. I'll also be taking off a few of the darker ones to have them tested as well."
"The nurse said you might."
"Good. Then she's very efficient for us. And this guy here told you we'd be calling later today with the results?"
"Yeah, anytime's fine. I work nights."
"I saw in your file," she agreed, smiling at him. "The damage to the lesser spots will indicate how we'll have to treat the rest of them. If we can laser them off or will have to use another method. Do you know much about laser treatments?"
"Only what I've seen on the discovery channel when it's my night off and nothing else is on."
"Okay, that's fine. It's always better to not have preconceived notions. The laser is basically going to burn the top few layers of your skin off inch by inch through a few treatments. I'm guessing about five or six with how many spots you have. That's as long as these dark spots come up as pre-cancerous. If they're showing cancer cells then you might have to go in for some mild radiation treatments."
"Which doesn't really make sense since isn't it radiation that did it?"
"Yes, but radiation will kill the cancerous cells. It's a different form of radiation. But that's a very good question. Not one I hear often," she admitted with a small smile for him. "Since you're not fully at the lesion stage, you shouldn't have to do chemotherapy. It's much more damaging and harder to make it through. Have you had your other checkups?"
"We're required to get yearly ones for the job," he admitted. "I had my first prostate check last year for some reason. I think maybe my doc enjoyed doing them a bit too much since I'm only thirty-two."
She patted him on the chest. "He was probably setting up a baseline. At your age, I'd probably expect one every three years until you're forty, then every year." He nodded at that. "Do you use any sort of sunscreen daily?"
"No, ma'am, but I'm guessing that's about to change." Both doctors nodded and he was handed a pamphlet on what he'd need to get. "There's more than one brand? I thought there was only Coppertone."
"No, there's many brands. As long as they fit into the general guidelines there you should be fine. Now, after your laser treatment, you'll want to be careful. It can make your skin very sensitive and some people have suddenly discovered that they're allergic to some chemicals," she warned. "There's a good place on South Eastern that sells some good all- natural sunscreen for you to try. Plus, if you use it all the time, it's not like you'd have to switch." He nodded again, looking at the pamphlet. "What about your work environment?"
"I talked to him about that," the dermatologist offered. "He deals with dead things and dead bodies."
"Ooooh," she winced. "So I'm guessing a full leave of absence once we start treatments?"
"Probably would be for the best," he agreed. "You're thinking five or six?"
"Depending on how deep they are. I'd schedule eight just in case, but if you only need five then you only have to come in for five," she promised him. "Again, fully payable by your insurance." He nodded at that. "When was your last physical?"
"Um, I'm due my next one in about a week," he admitted. "Why?"
"Did your doctor not say anything about these spots?" He shook his head. "Who is it so we can chew him a new one?" she asked plainly.
"I know him, he knows better," Dr. Altshire said firmly. "I will be having a talk with him when we get your files. That way he knows that you had to have these treatments and he'll get copies from us after you're done for your yearly exam." Nick nodded. "I'll also be chewing him a new one for you. Don't worry about that." He smiled at him. "Okay, onto your legs now please." Nick moved his boxers out of the way. "Not as bad as it could be."
"We had to devise a way to laser off a nudist's melanoma's," Doctor Le told him. Nick shuddered in horror and covered himself. "Exactly. He should have known better." She smiled at him. "I'm going to prepare and then I'll give you the pop quiz when you're over there, okay?" He nodded, and she shook his hand before leaving.
Doctor Altshire waited until they were alone to grin up at him. "She's single, but picky," he noted. "Works really long hours too. Probably about as many as you do."
Nick grinned at that. "She's a stunning woman with a beautiful mind."
"She is. If I didn't have my wife, I'd take her home tonight to make sure she ate." He went back to work, carefully examining the mark on his ankle. "Yes, this one is much more advanced. It would probably have looked like the one on your neck within a few more weeks." He took a close-up of that one as well.
Nick came out of the back of the office, spotting Greg sitting on the chair reading a journal. "Chemists have one of those?"
"Of course. How else do we brag to each other?" he asked dryly, standing up and tucking it under his arm. "I figured you'd need driven home, just in case they had to use anesthesia. Emilia said she didn't mind and the boys are actually napping for a change. So let's go. I'll let you order me to pull through anywhere you like." He handed over the bag he carried. "One from me, one from Cassandra and the boys, and one from 'Mil.," he offered with a grin. "We couldn't decide on how you'd like the delivery."
Nick smiled at the small packages, letting Greg walk him out to his truck. He got in and unwrapped it. "They come in spray bottles?"
"Yup, sure do," he agreed happily. "The kids like those. It's easy to get them as they're running."
Nick laughed and opened the moisturizer with sunscreen. "Emilia?"
"Of course. My darling uses it every day. She hates the sun here, that's the only bad thing according to her. I got you the normal method of delivery, figuring that you'd be more used to it at first." He shrugged and held out a hand. "Keys?" He suddenly stopped, shook his head, and shivered. "Hodges."
"Huh? What about Hodges?" He looked at him, seeing the vacant look. "Greg?" He gave him a nudge. "Greg?" he asked more loudly. He came back and shook his head. "Maybe I should drive."
"No, I'm fine. It was a pre-flash. I get those sometimes but only about my own family. So why am I seeing Hodges?" He shuddered again. "Eww." He wiggled his fingers. "Keys? I'm good for about another four hours."
Nick shook his head. "Not a chance. You might have another one." He looked behind them. "You brought Brass and Grissom?"
"No, we flipped a coin and I won, they're cheating," he said dryly.
Nick rolled down his window. "Grissom, Greg's having something he calls a flash."
"Again? Another raid?" he asked, pulling open the door and pulling Greg out. "I'll drive you, Jim can drive Nick and make sure he gets lunch." He handed over the basket he carried. "Here, more stuff you'll need. Soothing stuff for when they do the laser treatments."
"Thanks, Gris. The docs will probably be calling you about whether or not I'll need to take off work."
"You will, I've already filed your forms with Ecklie, who's upset for some reason."
"Not about you of course," Jim offered dryly, his usual delivery.
"Of course," Nick agreed. "I need fattening stuff. Steak Escape?" He accepted the paper from Grissom. "I don't need that long."
"That'll give you a week beyond the expected end of treatment, Nick, in case something happens," Grissom told him. "Have your yearly while you're down too." He walked Greg off, talking quietly with him about what he had seen. It had to be bad somehow.
"Steak Escape, that's by Circus Circus, right?" Jim asked as he slid into the seat. He looked at the bench, then shifted forward.
"You can move the seat up if you need to," he offered.
"No, I'm fine. No uphills so it'll be fine." He started the truck with the keys from Nick's hand, shutting the door so he could get the poor guy home.
To Part 14