Training Grounds

Tony walked into work Tuesday morning and looked at Gibbs, then smirked broadly.  "We won against the teacher's group."

"Congratulations. You hung over?"

"Just slightly.  Not half as bad as yesterday morning.  Oh, but Don fixed my old school's issues."  He smirked.  "Boss, got a few for the conference room?"

"Wait until everyone's supposed to be in, DiNozzo.  Is it that important?"

"Depends on your definition."

"To me?"

"Depends on your definition," he repeated.  Gibbs gave him a long stare so Tony smirked back.  He heard the heels clicking before he saw her but he knew the director was coming.  "So, boss, did I miss anything?  Should I start pulling up anything for you?"

"We didn't have weekend call and no new case yesterday.  I did let McGee look over one of your old ones."  Tony nodded at that, sitting down to fire up his computer.

"Agent DiNozzo, welcome back," the director said, looking at him. "Did you have a nice day off?"

"I did.  I spent the weekend reconnecting with some very dear friends and playing a very good game of sports, which our team won.  I also got to know a bit more about some of their coworkers so I feel more comfortable checking on them if I don't hear from them for more than two weeks."  He looked at her, hiding his smirk.  Danny had just woken up to a pouncing by Don, it was fairly cute.  He gave them a nudge out of his direct brain and blinked at her.  Then at Gibbs.  "What?"

"You're smiling," he offered.

"Memory.  Just after the game, at the celebration.  Danny and Don got together to try to outdo each other."

Gibbs nodded at that.  "They okay?"

"Yeah, it was cute."  He grinned, then smirked at Stan as she came in.  "Morning."

"Good, you're back, it'll be less quiet."  She smirked at him.  "Good times?"

"Very, and a great game."

"Congrats."  She walked around the director to her desk.  "Gibbs, do we have a case yet?"

"Not yet, Standa."  He looked at the director. "It is the purpose of vacation to come back smiling and happy."

"It is."  She glanced at Tony then at Gibbs.  "You're next up for a case?"  He nodded.  "Good."  She walked off, heading back to her office.

Tony looked at Gibbs, who pointed at the elevator.  "Standa, you too."  She nodded, following them to the elevator.  "First, less heels."

"I thought so too but the email I got said heels," she complained, taking them off.

"They're not practical in the field.  You dress like we might have to hike a few miles," Gibbs told her.  She beamed and hugged him.  "You're welcome.  Get off.  DiNozzo?"  He pulled up his shirt sleeve.  "That's a tattoo."

"No, that's like a Bane marking.  It links..."  He pulled his wand and sealed the elevator from spying, including Alex's spell against spy gear.  "Sorry, paranoid.  It links Danny, Speed, Don, myself, Stella, and we're talking about adding Horatio."  Gibbs just nodded at that.  "As far as I know, as far as we could determine, if I'm in *that* much danger, they'll feel it and can probably track me using it."  Gibbs nodded again, looking a bit more pleased. "We can communicate and we can share jokes through it.  It's like they're the voices in the back of my head now."

"That's damn cool," Stan agreed.

Tony beamed and nodded.  "It is."  He looked at his boss.  "We've each got one.  It's fully healed. I can cover it with makeup or an illusion if I need to for the job, boss.  I don't have to touch it to communicate, so the grinning this morning was actually Don pouncing Danny for some."

"That's fine," he agreed casually.  "Not that I need information like that about Danny...."  He trailed off when Tony moaned.  "What?"

Tony held up a finger and sent something at Don specifically, calming him down.  Don sent back his acknowledgment and let Danny top him again.  He shook it off and pushed them out of the way. "It does hold up for emotional moments.  Danny almost had a fight with Don about who tops."  He looked at Gibbs again.  "I'm blocking them out but they're still like a hum in the back of my head."

"If you space out for more than a minute I'll expect it to be something like that and smack you harder if we're in the middle of something."

"Thanks, boss.  I knew you'd understand but I wanted to brief you before you noticed something strange."

"Thank you.  Now, Abby?"


Gibbs snorted.  "She said someone's tried."

"She could be like me and know due to life's circumstances," Stan offered sheepishly.  "Blair told me by accident once.  He thought I had been hinting about it."

"Abby's got some power but I think she's a nature path witch," Tony offered.  "Like Darth Rosenburg.  Oh, and she's involved in a case in Miami."  They shared a look and he nodded.  "Exactly."  He looked at Gibbs. "We can explain it that way.  I know she's dabbled."

"Works for me.  I told her what I can."

Tony nodded.  "Then she can come to me as long as she keeps it absolutely quiet.  Even around the office."

"I've made that clear.  Not even teasing.  Does Ducky know?"

"Danny said that Sheldon knew because of his sister but he's seen wands in autopsy before.  So it's possible that most ME's realize its around."

"I haven't wanted to ask."

Tony smirked a bit at that. "Not that I blame you, boss.  See what he thinks about the Harry Potter books and the Vampire show."

"That's real?" Stan asked.

"Yeah, Alex Dumass is Xander Harris.  That's where he went when he was deaged.  Dawn's older sister is Buffy."

"Man!" Stan complained.  "So it works?"  Tony nodded.  "Decent.  Can I go change, boss?"

"Go."  He flipped back on the elevator.  "Leave up the spells, DiNozzo."  That got a nod and they dropped Stan off down at the gym then went back to their desks.  He found the director waiting on them.  "We get called out?"

"No.  I was wondering what he was briefing you on."

"Something that happened this weekend that may relate back to a case. He wanted me to know just in case.  It's what good agent does when something may become important."  He sat down and looked at Tony.  "Do I have all your paperwork?"

"I sent it to you before I left, Gibbs."  He sat down to make sure, finding an email with one.  "Never mind.  What was wrong with that one?"

"You spelled the last name wrong all the way through.  It's IE, not EI."

Tony nodded and opened that email, then the file, doing a search and replace, then sending it back.  "There ya go, boss."  He smiled at McGee as he came in.  "How was your Monday, Probie?"

"Boring.  No funny noises.  No paper balls.  No paper airplanes.  No odd sites being sent to me."  He smirked at him.  "How was your weekend?"

"Good.  We even played against the teaching group's team and we won against them."

"Congratulations," Ziva said as she joined them.  "Gibbs, I got a strange message for you," she said, handing over the folded paper.  "I translated it since I know you don't speak or read Hebrew."

"Thank you."  He looked at it, then nodded. "DiNozzo, your friend is fine but they've finished with that one and they're moving to a new spot?"

"He found a spot like his former hometown and went to check on it, boss.  Still part of the job."

"That's fine."  He balled it up and sent it over.  Tony read it then ripped it into pieces before dropping it in the trash.  "He okay?"

"I'm sure he will be."

"What hometown was he in?" the Director asked.

"Sunnydale, ma'am."  She stared at him.  "Yes, it's a real town."

"I caught that stupid show once," she sneered.

"The person who wrote it was one of his classmates.  He's in Iraq right now on assignment and found a town just like his old one."

"I see.  Is he military?"

"No."  He looked at Ziva.  "Someone in the Mossad called?"  She nodded.  "Why?"

"I don't know.  I didn't understand either.  He also said to tell Gibbs he was very amused by Alex and Ron."

"Everyone is amused by Alex and Ron," he assured her with a grin.  "Alex is the only one I know who can make the stereotypical drama queen gay guy shriek in fear and run the other way by being even worse than he is at times.  Alex can be a princess when he wants.  Then there's times when he can out-macho Gibbs.  All that on top of being a knowledge whore and a book fiend.  His personal library now takes up two towers at his very old home."


"Ancient family home," McGee told her.  Tony looked at him and he grinned.  "Abby said so."

"Abby and I are going to have a talk then.  I want to know what she knows about Alex."  He watched McGee's eyes, seeing him flinch.  "Probie, we should get lunch."

"I brought mine."

Gibbs' phone rang and he answered it.  "Gibbs."  He wrote down the information.  "Thank you."  He hung up.  "Our idiot smugglers hit again."  He glanced at his team.  "Officer David with me.  Tony, McGee, get the truck."  They headed out together and Tony would tell him how McGee knew about magic.

Tony pulled out in the truck, then hexed McGee's body to stillness.  "So, Probie."

"Shit."  He tried to turn his head. "I'll spill!"  Tony unfroze his head.  "I didn't know you were."

"You are?"

"I trained in Chicago."  He looked at him.  "I don't carry my wand, Tony."

"You gave it up?"

"Almost fully.  I like electronics and magic doesn't respond that well."

"Wonderful.  You get to tell Gibbs and we're watching Abby because she caught me apparating home last weekend."

"Sure," he agreed weakly.  "Gibbs is a wizard?"

"Exhusband of one."

"Ewww."  Tony sped up, flipping on the lights to break the speed limit.  "Ziva?"

"Worked with one once.  Why didn't you say anything after you saw the quidditch pictures?"

"I couldn't get you alone.  You were always heading off to play with your buddy Speed or Danny."

"Speed's in Miami.  Danny's in New York.  Part of my group."  That got a quick nod.  He unfroze him.  "I don't mind being the only practicing wizard on the team but you will stay in practice to at least defend yourself, McGee.  The military wants us badly at the moment to work for them.  They took over your old school."

"I heard," he agreed quietly. "The director?"


"Not that, Tony.  I knew that already."  Tony shot him a grin and took a corner at high speed.  "Are we going to make it before Gibbs?"

"Maybe."  He tapped his fingers a few times and then drove down an alley, turning the truck into a portkey since they were going to another area farther out.  He came out of an alley on the other side, making McGee squeak.  "You will stay in practice for defensive lessons, McGee.  Am I understood?"

"Yes, Tony.  Are you being hunted?"

"They don't know me and they won't get me."

"You switched because of that?"  Tony nodded, pulling up outside the base and flashing his ID.

"Sir, second building by the mess, sir."

"Thank you.  Special Agent Gibbs is driving our company car.  Give him the same directions."  He headed that way, glancing at McGee.  "Calm down.  I can get you a refresher set."

"I can go back over my old textbooks," he agreed.  "Are there any good potions people around here?  I used to take this really good one for my headaches and they're starting to come back."

"Vegas has a number of them.  Including the Wizard of Blood."

"Wow.  I heard he was an alchemist."  Tony nodded.  "Is he some really old guy?"

"Sanders?  No."  McGee gaped as Tony parked and got out. "Coming?" he called.  McGee hurried after him.  "Staff Sergeant," he said, flashing his credentials.  "Gibbs got stuck in traffic because our siren is louder.  What'd we have?"

"Sudden shipments that have no paperwork and no reason to be here, Special Agent DiNozzo.  We checked one after having it scanned.  Drugs."

"Okay.  Any paperwork?  McGee, work on that angle until Gibbs gets here.  It'd be computerized."  That got a nod and one of the clerks took him to look them over.  Tony went to take pictures of the contraband and the boxes.  "Are these all of them?"

"We moved them together when we found them, Agent DiNozzo."

"Just DiNozzo is fine," he offered with a smile.  "You've checked every other box?"

"No, sir.  We're doing an inventory right now and the drug dogs are in here as well."

"Good job.  Thank you.  Go wait on Gibbs.  Tell him I'm taking down information and where McGee would be."  That got a nod and Tony settled in to carefully take pictures and count the haul.  He backed up when one exploded.  "Crap."  He walked out shaking his head at Gibbs.  "One of the bags was loose, boss.  I was doing the count when it opened on my hand."  He got into the back of the truck, peeling off his gloves and taking out some sterile water to rinse his hands off.  When Ziva came over, he nodded at the box of trash bags.  "Pick one up, take it in there to carefully contain the spilling one.  We'll empty the box into it.  Put on full decontam gear, including a mask."  She nodded, getting that out to go back in there.  He finished rinsing off and dried his hands off on some papertowels, bagging those with his gloves.  Then he put on more gear, handing Gibbs a mask. "Safety precautions, boss.  It's still cocaine."

"Are you sure?"

"What got on me was.  I was breathing in when the tape broke under my hand."  He gave him a look.  "No drug tests this week, okay?"  He went back to work, shaking his head at his stupidity.  "Ziva, get the next box, *carefully* break the seal without compromising the label, and start the photos then count."   She nodded, moving over to do that while he babied the open container into the trash bag, then used a spare evidence brush to coax more inside.  Then he checked the next one before moving it out to count it, going back to his mental count.  When he got to the bottom he tipped the box into the trashbag and handed it to Gibbs, packing them carefully into plastic bin Ziva had brought in with her after marking them with a blue sticker. "Tag that one blue, boss."

"Did."  He put that one in its own bag and into the back of the truck.  He waved an MP closer.  "Watch that for us.  It's drug evidence."  That got a nod and he stood guard.  Gibbs called McGee.  "Anything?"  He listened to him babbling.  "How many from the same spot?"  He nodded once.  "Good work.  Print it, check for anything else hinky then come back here."  He hung up and went to talk to the ordinance supervisor.  "Eighteen boxes from the same company."

"Boss, this one's got some grease spread inside," Tony called, sniffing his gloves.  "Bacon on this one."

"Okay, we'll check the list to see where the other boxes are.  These were spread around, Agent Gibbs."

"Who did that?"

"I'm trying to figure that out, but the probable person isn't here today.  I've sent Shore Police to pick them up so I could ask and then hand them to you if need be.  I hope I didn't step on any toes."

"Not yet.  I'll let you know if you."  He went back to gathering evidence.  "Tony, how many boxes?"

"Six," he said loudly.

"DiNozzo."  Tony blinked at him.  "What's the chances some of that got into your system?"  Tony giggled.  "Go wait in the truck, DiNozzo."  That got a nod and he trotted that way, taking off his gear to bag.  He called Ducky.  "When we get back, check DiNozzo over.  We're counting drug evidence and one broke in his hand, Ducky.  Thank you."  He hung up and got back to work.  "Officer David, more carefully than that.  They packed these full to make use of all the space.  If you break one open you can be exposed the same way."

"Yes, Gibbs."  She went more carefully.  "Should I peel the tape up?"

"That can destroy any fingerprints when the cardboard rips," he ordered.  She nodded and got back to work.  "Use an exacto blade, that way you don't go too far."

"Yes, Gibbs."  She got one out of the kit and used it instead of her bootknife.

Gibbs phone rang and he answered it.  "Gibbs."  He listened.  "No, one of them had weak tape and when he picked it up, it broke.  Some got on his hands and he may have inhaled a trace amount.  Oh no you're not."  He hung up and looked toward the van, then at McGee as he came in, motioning him closer. "Give him the list, let him check these and get the others. Check on Tony then gear up and join us.  Bring more stickers and another box."  That got a nod and McGee hurried to do that.  He watched him go, thinking hard.  Then he called Abby.  "I'm going to need a sealed spot, Abby.  We've got at least six shipping boxes, standard sizes, of drugs.  Cocaine.  One burst on Tony.  He's fine.  Sleeping it off in the truck."  He listened.  "I know.  Have Ducky dissuade her if possible.  Thank you."  He listened to her.  "Good enough.  I want to have a talk with you and Ducky later anyway, Abby.  Plan on it."  He hung up and got back to work once McGee was back.  "Is he still giggling?"

"Yup, talking to his arm."  He got into the next box, carefully cutting it open.  He glanced at Gibbs who nodded.  "Thank you, boss.  What're we tagging this one?"

"We've used blue, purple, and red.  Go to yellow for that box."  McGee nodded and started to take pictures and then tag and count the packages.  He noticed something sticking out under his decontamination gear.  "Be careful."

"I'm trying, boss."  He glanced at him, noticing where he was staring.   "A bad feeling, boss."

"Does that mean you've got a clue?"

"I'm sincerely out of practice since my days in highschool," he said quietly.  That got a nod.  "Tony said we're having a team lunch later?"

"We are," he agreed.  He looked at Ziva.  "You can duck out if you want."  She nodded, accepting that.  "It'll be us, Ducky, and Abby about the other case we've got open."

"I'll miss then since I doubt I can help with anything. I can put the time to better use searching records on this one."

"That's a good idea, Ziva."  He looked at McGee, who was frozen.  "What?"  McGee motioned him closer.  He looked.  "Bomb!" he yelled.  Ziva got up and took what evidence she could with her.  Someone came running.  "McGee, you have to stay still," he ordered.  He looked at the staff sergeant, who shrugged.  "Your scanner didn't pick it up?"

"No, Special Agent Gibbs.  We used a density scanner."  He rubbed his face.  "Someone get us a portable x-ray and get the rest of those boxes in the clear but outside."  A few more MP's came running.

"Carefully," the guy bending over McGee's box ordered.  "As levelly as possible."  That got a nod and they carried it outside, putting them in the grass.  He finished looking at it, then clipped a wire.  "We're clear on this one, sir."  He lifted it out carefully.  "I need a box!"  One was kicked in.  Gibbs got it and brought it over.  "Thank you."  He put it in there then looked at the bottom of the box.  "That's the trip.  They expected it to be opened other end up, like the sign says. The fact he opened it that side up means he was pretty safe."  They carried the bomb out, going to analyze it for their later report.

"McGee, take five and come back."   He nodded, getting up and running outside.  Gibbs went to check the other boxes.  "Open from the wrong side," he ordered.  "That's how that one was taped."

"We're scanning for electronics right now," someone offered quietly, moving down the line.  He tapped one.  "This one's got one too."  That one was moved off.  "The rest are dense and no hint of electronics or metal."  That got a nod and Gibbs got back to it while they searched the rest of the warehouse.  McGee came back.

"You all right?"

"Fine, boss.  Just needed a bathroom break."  He came over to look at the boxes.  "The rest of mine?"

"Code it, put it in the truck, McGee.  These are cleared."  That got a nod and he went to get back to work.  Gibbs checked on Tony, who was babbling at Danny.  "Let him work, DiNozzo," he ordered quietly.  Tony pouted but let him go after a quiet 'bye'.  His phone rang a minute later.  "Gibbs.  No, he's fine, Speedle.  Drug packet opened under his hand.  Yeah, basically.  He's fine, just out of it.  I'll have Ducky check him in a few."  He hung up and got back to work.


Danny looked up as Mac walked into the lab he was working in, nodding at him.  "Give me ten."  The sample was taken from him.  "I need ta do that unless you're firing me, Mac."

"No, I'm not firing you, Danny."  He closed the doors and the blinds.  "I think we should talk.  Someone's noticed some things and gotten on my ass about it."

"Not that I've asked."

"Yes, well, even Stella's jumped me about it, Danny."  He gave him a very neutral look.  "Do you trust me?"

"I don't trust anyone."

"I see."   He moved closer and Danny backed off slightly. "I have no intention of hurting you."

"I've heard that before."  He sat down and looked at him.  "Why?  What did they chew you a new one about?"

"Horatio said I've ruined our working relationship beyond repair.  Greg happened to agree with him when I called to talk to him about something else and it came out."

"I never asked 'em to talk to ya, Mac."

"I know.  You wouldn't. You'd come face me down, right?"  Danny nodded.  "Then why haven't you?"

"To be honest, I'm thinking about transferring down ta Miami to be with Speed.  At least then I'd have a boss who trusted me."

"I do."

"Bull."  He tipped his chin up some.  "When Sonny told you, did you ask?"  Mac shook his head.  "Wouldn't you have asked Stella?"

Mac thought about that then nodded.  "I would have, but I've known Stella for a very long time."

"You've known me for years, longer than you have Doc.  That told me all I needed to know, and then you tried to keep me in trouble with IAB."

"I was trying to protect you."

"By making me look more guilty?"

Mac shook his head.  "You look guilty when you rush in.  No one volunteers."

"I didn't.  I couldn't stand the hounding so I went.  Not like you were doing anything."  Mac sighed.  "So, no. I trust you on the job, Mac.  As a person, no."

"I should have asked, Danny, not assumed.  You've got me fair and square on that one.  The same as I should have been more supportive after the shooting."

"Yeah, well, don't help now, Mac.  Anything else?  I'm kinda busy."

"I want to make it right, Danny.  I don't want to lose you."

"Someone get onto you about the team again?"

"No. *I* don't want to lose you.   You're a very good CSI.  You're one hell of a coworker.  I don't want to lose you."

"Yeah, well, I'm still thinking.  You nearly lost me the day after the shooting.  I was dialing Speed when I realized it would make me look really guilty if they found out I was thinking about transferring departments."

Mac nodded. "I understand. I want to work this out, Danny."  He moved closer again, seeing the unease.  "You're not usually this jumpy."

"I've had this closeness stuff pushed back at me once today already."

"Sorry."  He moved back again.  "I want us to work this out.  I want us able to work together again and I want you to be able to trust me."

"Like I said, on the job I do.  You're a stand up guy there."

"We were closer before, Danny.  We were friends."

"No, friends stick up for you, no matter how much you fuck up, Mac.  Speed and Tony stood up for me even when I couldn't get away from Sonny.  Even after you'd seen I didn't have the tattoo, even after you saw my father's files, you still didn't trust me because you tried to hide that sheet from the IAB chick.  Even though you saw it said I witnessed things. Not did them, witnessed."  Someone tapped on the door.  "Give him a few."  He looked at him again.  Someone knocked again.  "Quit!"  The knocking stopped.  "What do you want me to do, Mac, clap you on the back and hand you a balloon because someone made you see you were an asshole ta me?  I'm not the sort to do that.  I'm not exactly the cuddly and soft sort.  You want soft, you go find Sheldon or someone.  Not Stella.  But Sheldon's nice and probably gives good hugs."  He walked over and opened the door, finding Sheldon standing there.  "Still working on it.  He interrupted."

"That's fine.  The father's downstairs.  I'm going to interrogation with him and Flack."

"Give me ten.  I'll bring it down."  Sheldon nodded and hurried off.  Danny got back to work, studying the slides he was working on.  He found something that made him frown and bring it over to the mass spec machine to run it.  He got the result and smirked, nodding.  "That's what I thought."  He brought the remains of the slide back to look at it again.  "Yeah, that makes more sense."  He printed off the view and gathered both things, putting the slide back into the evidence case before he did anything else.  He moved past Mac, heading down to interrogation.  He found which one they were in, then tapped on the door, handing it to Flack.  "Two samples on the same slide.  Mass spec Sheldon needs," he said quietly.  He passed on the information over the bond, getting a nod.  "Have fun."  He walked off, heading back to do his next slide. He found Mac still in here.  "No new cases?"

"Not yet."  He crossed his arms over his chest.  "You never told anyone about this."

"No.  Why would I?  I'm not the sort to whine about the unfairness of life.  Life sucks all around and sometimes it's lightened by some blinding lights that leave an afterglow until your eyes adjust."  Mac frowned at that.  "Sorry, life philosophy.  Used ta be pinned on the inside of my bed."

"Next case, we're working together."

"Fat chance.  You're on with Stella again and then the new kid."

"You're helping me with the new kid, same as you did with Lindsey."  Danny quirked an eyebrow.  "You did good with her.  It was her personality that was wrong."  He moved closer again.  "You do good here, Danny.  I didn't mean to make it appear that I don't trust you."

"You don't.  You haven't since that whole Tanglewood case started and you got a hint I might know.  Of course you used it, but still."  Mac opened his mouth.  "I'm not talking about this here."

"We can go to my office."

"Which makes it look even more like you're gonna fire me.  I can almost guarantee it's going to start around again."  Mac shook his head.  "Yeah, it will.  You locked us in here."  Mac's face tightened.  "I don't talk about personal shit for a reason, Taylor.  Especially not at work.  The same as I don't date at work."  He pulled over his next sample.  "Anything else or can it wait until later?"

"It can wait until after work and then we're going to talk."

"If you say so."

"I do.  By the way, you're on the promotion grid."

"Nice ta know."

"You were only off for a few weeks."

"If you say so."

"Danny."  Danny looked at him.  "You have been."

"Again, if you say so.  This is work.  Work is not this discussion and you're keeping me from working efficiently.  Now, you mind?"  Mac walked off.  Danny shut the door and took a deep breaths and then got back to work.  He did send a dirty, nasty thought at Speed for making Horatio jump on Mac about that, but he got back that he hadn't.  So apparently Horatio was a very good person to have watching those around him for faults.  He'd have to remember that.


Abby got a phone call, making her a happy girl.  "Lab," she answered since it was an inside line.  "No, they're in the field.  Do we know what it is? Sure."  She hung up and headed for the elevator, going down to the front desk.  "What's up?" she asked, smiling at the nice looking young man standing there.  He wasn't very tall, maybe her height, but he was stocky and muscled. There was something familiar about him, and the sense that he wasn't as young as he appeared.

He smiled at her, his green eyes showing some seriousness, his dark hair messy like it hadn't seen a comb in a while.  "I was told to give this to Tony but he's apparently in the field.  My contacts said you'd be just as good, at least until he gets back."

"Abby," the guard said, nodding at him.  "He's... you gotta check his ID."

She looked Harry over, seeing the wand in his waistband, then took his ID to look at when the guy handed it over with a grin.  "Tony said he met you over breakfast one morning."  She handed it back to the security guys.  "That's actually his name."  That got a flabbergasted look.  "Tony said he was even carrying around a miniature broom the last time to make fun of it when people gaped."

"When I'm out and about I only have my wand," Harry teased.  He could like this girl.

She beamed at him.  "That's always a good idea."  The guards blushed.  "He clear?"  They nodded. "Okay, Harry, let's go to the lab and I'll see if it's something I should call Gibbs about, because he's the A-number-one grump this morning.  They were out of his flavor of coffee."  She took the fabric-wrapped package he held out, glancing inside as she led their way back to the elevator.  "Who sent this?"  They stepped on once the doors opened, him letting her go first.

"Alex Dumass is my grandfather.  He's still on assignment in Iraq.  He said it had to go to Tony and only to Tony when it was sent.  I got it by owl this morning."  He looked at her.  "I don't usually shrink my broom."

"It was a good reason, Harry."  She looked at him, moving his hair.  "Huh.  I knew about Tony."  She shrugged and they headed into her lab.  "Mind music?"

"I prefer music.  Modern's fine.  Alex has truly widened my appreciation of music.  He listens to techno and house."

"One should always listen to House," she joked.

He smirked.  "The one on the tv or the music style?  The one on tv reminds me of Alex when you interrupt him while he's working, which I try very hard not to do because then I get the shite jobs."  She giggled at that, punching him on the arm.  He grinned back.  "Go ahead and look.  I didn't.  He said it was important Tony get it as soon as I got it."

"Okay."  She sat the package on the desk, looking at the note.  "What language is this in?"

Harry looked.  "I can't tell if it's Arabic or Hebrew.  Sorry, not the one I'm studying."  She shrugged and put it aside, going to the pictures.  Harry whistled.  "Well, it's a pretty framing but a horrible subject."  He took that one to look through. He also unfroze it, and it made him ill.  "I think they're keeping those people."

"They could be, yeah."  She dialed the phone.  "Me, Gibbs.  No, we just had a package dropped for Tony from Iraq.  You've gotta see it, boss.  No, the delivery guy and I are looking at them now.  Thanks.  Yeah, important like first thing when you come back important.  Thanks."  She hung up and took that one back, putting the package back together again.  Then she pulled out that one.  "The faces are too far away, they're kinda blurry.  Can I digitize this?"

"I'm not sure," he admitted.  "I can stick it on whatever moment you want," he offered, moving closer again.  "I have no idea how magical photographs work with computers."  He smiled at her.  "We'd have to try."

"We will once he gets here."  The door opened and she blinked at the director.  "I just got this package for Tony and Gibbs, ma'am.  This is the delivery guy, Harry."

"Hello."  She looked at one of the still frozen photographs, frowning.  "Where was that taken?"

"Iraq. He's on assignment there," Harry said, making sure his voice sounded as cultured as possible.  She looked at him.  "He sent them to me so I could make sure they got to Tony."

"I see."  She looked at the next one.  "Not totally incriminating."  She saw the note and looked it over, then picked up the bundle. "I should...."

"I think not.  Alex said it only goes to Tony or his boss," Harry said.

"This is our director," Abby said helpfully, giving him a look.

"Then I'm sure Gibbs would be more than happy to brief her if it turns out to be something.  Don't want to cause a panic, now do we?" he asked with his most charming smile.  She blinked at him.  "Really, we can handle this with Gibbs' help since I'm about the only one who knows where they are right now."  He took them back then put the note with it.  "Thank you for offering to take some of the burden off your team's shoulders, ma'am, that does show that you're a very effectual boss, rather like Alex is."  On his worst days by the look in her eyes.  Another man came in and he nodded cordially, getting one in return.  "Abby, is there a way to sort those by timeline order?  I think he's got the date on the back and I'm not sure if they're in the right order or not.  Alex said Ron packed them and Ron rather stuffs things into the package usually."

"Sure, Harry."  She smiled at Ducky.  "Ducky, this is Harry.  His grandfather, Alex Dumass, is on assignment in Iraq and sent Tony some photos to check for him."

"I see."  He smiled at Harry.

Harry shook his hand.  "Always nice to meet someone from the homeland abroad, Ducky.  Plus she's much prettier than the whiny ponce I'm staying with."  Abby looked at him.  "Draco, Alex's consort.  Pouting, sulky, blond wraith who moves around the house spreading despair because his husband is working and he couldn't go back after being injured.  Really depressing first thing in the morning when he wakes up pouting."

She blinked at him.  "You guys lead a much more interesting life than I do."  She got to work scanning in one of the frozen pictures.

Harry smiled at the director, another winning one that made most people go gooey in the head.  "It was nice to meet you."

"Are you military personnel?" she asked.

"No but I've rather been in a lot of battles in my time.  More than any sane, normal person should've been.  Lead some, followed in some.  Destroyed some lives.  Now I'm helping with a group that rescues artifacts and natural treasures from areas that would destroy them, that way they can be preserved and handed back once wars and the bad times are over."

" what?" she asked.

"Places like Iraq have many historical and natural treasures.  When they're threatened, my group goes in to remove them to safer locations in Europe until the strife is done and then we hand them back when the area is stable and they want them back.  In the meantime we get to study them but they do go back when asked for."  She stared at that.  "Alex is training me but unfortunately it's the on-season for my team and I've got to train there as well while our adopted little sister is still in school."

"Oh," she said weakly.  "I've never heard of your group.  What's your grandfather's name?"

"Dumass.  Alexander Dumass.  Two 's's.  The author was a sideline to our lineage.  Tony's done some work with us in the past, that's why Alex felt comfortable sending him this one."

"I see.  That's fine then.  Tell Gibbs I want to know if this is anything," she ordered as she walked off.

Harry pulled his wand.  "Oblivius."  She paused then kept going.  He smiled at Ducky.  "You knew my grandfather?"

"He had to identify a body I got sent once," he said quietly, picking up a photo that had fallen to the floor.  "Who are you really?"

"Harry Potter, grandson of Alexander Dumass, cursebreaker and quidditch player," he said with a smile, shaking his hand again.  "Tony's helping us train some wizards who were missed."

"Ah, the time in Scotland."  Harry nodded.  "Where is Dumass castle?"

"Very top of the land mass."  He grinned at him.  "Pretty well hidden as well."

"It figures it'd have to be, Harry."  He looked at the one that had fallen.  "That one doesn't seem to want to be looked at."

"That usually means it needs attention."  He picked it up and uncharmed it, then handed it over and walked off.  "I'm not fond of that sort of thing and I won't stand for it around me.  Alex must've taken the pictures so someone could do something."

Abby nodded, putting that one face down.  "Probably."  She got back to work.  "It's not even picking up an image," she complained a minute later, pouting.

"Love, Draco does that so much better.  There's nothing more pouty than a consort veela who's mate is in another country for at least a month more."  She gave him a startled look and he nodded.  "Yes, that Draco.  Whiny ponce turned blond, pouty, sulky wraith around our library."  He came back and looked at the picture.  "There's one type of digital camera that can pick up a vampire's image but I'm not sure which or why," he admitted, touching his arm to call Alex and get that information and tell him what had happened so far.  He looked at Ducky.  "He said hello."  He went back to it, nodding a few times.  "Yes, Alex," he muttered. He let go of his tattoo and looked at her.  "The digital imaging of a Minolta, a fairly non-known about model," he offered, creating a picture of it in the air.  "That's got some sort of digital filter that we know can catch vampires."

"Wow."  She looked at him.  "Then Angel's real?"

"Another pouty ponce," he agreed dryly.  "Dawn's extended family.  Drives her insane now and then complaining about Wesley and Luna."  He scratched the back of his neck.  "He said it's the 225?"

She got online and searched it out, then smiled and found a shop nearby.  "We can get one and take it apart to see."  She smiled at Ducky.  "So, he had to identify a body?"

Ducky nodded.  "It had been sent to me from the jungles when I was working in Asia."

Harry nodded. "Alex is one of the few who goes after those who're Lost."  He gave him a sad smile.  "He's one of the best so he can get the bodies back for their families.  The field is a dangerous one, but fulfilling if it calls to you.  It does to me but right now I'm also playing my sport so I can't go full time."

"Hold on," Abby said, holding up both forefingers.  "Dawn.  As in Summers?"  Harry smiled and pulled out a picture to show her.  "That is damn cool.  Ducky, look, it's Xander."

"That's Alex.  He got stuck there when he was deaged."  He shrugged and grinned.  "Buffy made the show."

"I remember Miss Summers," Ducky said with a smile. "She's grown into a beautiful woman."  He handed it back, smiling at the questioning look.  "I met her mother once."  Harry nodded at that, putting the picture back. "How is her mother doing?"

"Unfortunately we lost her to brain cancer a few years back.  Buffy's been turned but she's loving it and living with Angel at the moment.  She claims it's a much easier beauty regimen.  Then again she's the one I learned why women had one those from.  She was fairly scary when she did it.  Thankfully she said she doesn't have to apply the various potions and masques.  Being undead agrees with her."  Ducky smiled at that.  "Dawn's in her fourth year at the moment."

"Wonderful," Abby agreed happily.  He nodded at that.  "How is she doing?"

"She and Ron are constantly snogging.  They're engaged.  Fairly nauseating if you're not in the mood for cute and cuddly.  Which I'm not most mornings since I'm rather unattached at the moment."  He groaned and grabbed his arm, hissing back at Methos.  Who yelled at Alex instead.  "Sorry, Dawn just got her butt suspended to her tower for a week.  She bit the professor."

"Why?" Abby asked.

"He attacked her and her dog.  So she bit him."  He shrugged. "She claims she was doing what her sister would've.  Made Philip laugh but Methos is really not pleased with her at the moment.  So Sev's probably rolling around."  She gave him an odd look.  "He's one of my uncles, dear.  Dawn taunts him to lighten up."  She giggled at that.  "Exactly.  Her and her dog Midnight."  She giggled harder, leaning on his shoulder.  He gave her a gentle smile.  "She's a wonderful girl but now and then, especially when she's with Ginny and Luna, she's troublesome and a bit of a brat.  I have no idea why she went after the Runes teacher or he went after her.  I'd ask but Alex is presently yelling at her and we're all hearing it."  He stiffened then nodded.  "There's two more packages coming.  Tony and Gibbs are to come to the castle this weekend if they think it's something and we can set up a two-way mirror to let them watch," he told her, patting her on the back while she calmed down, smiling at the man who came in.  "You must be Gibbs.  Tony's spoken of you."  He shook his hand.

"Gibbs, this is Harry Potter."  Gibbs gave him an amused look so he lifted up his hair to show the scar, getting a raised eyebrow.  "Yes, he's real."  She smirked at him then pinched him hard.  "You guys told me Tony was a nature path person like me!"

"Sorry, Abby, but they do have to keep some secrets."

"Doesn't seem that way at times," Harry said dryly.  "Everyone at Greg's work knows."  He shrugged and pointed at the pictures. "I can uncharm the lot for you to look at but I had to remove this encounter from someone claiming to be your boss.  She wanted to confiscate it and I didn't think she should.  I assured her you would report it to her if she needed to know."  Then he grinned.  "I don't like people who try to interrupt."

"I don't blame you, Harry."  He looked at the unfrozen two then nodded.  "This is definitely something.  Can we get closer shots of the people's faces, Abby?"

"There's one hope with a digital filter in this one camera," she told him.  "Since it can pick up vampires it may be able to pick up these images.  Otherwise it won't pick up at all, Gibbs."  She looked at him, blinking a few times.  "He said he can freeze anything I need in a certain spot.  Oooh, that's an idea," she said, turning back around to get back to work on that one.  "Unfreeze that Harry, please?"  He did and she typed in faster, then 'ha'd' and gave them a triumphant look.  "I can *record* it!" she said proudly.

"Abby, love, for that, want some ice cream?" Harry asked.  "You're bloody amazing, woman."  She gave him a startled look and he gave her an honest one.  "You are.  You're smarter than any woman I've ever met and you're not the sort to take yourself seriously.  I'll even pay since brilliance like you shouldn't be made to struggle with lesser concepts like tips."

She blinked a few more times, then smiled.  "I'd love to go for ice cream, Harry.  Thank you."  She smiled.  "Usually I date older guys but you're okay."  She smiled at Gibbs.  "He said Ron might've just stuck them into the package, but then again it might be in order.  I can record all them and see what goes together."  He nodded, handing that one back.  "It'll take me a few hours."  She smiled at Harry, then at Gibbs.  "He said we've got two more packages coming and you could go with Tony this weekend, they could set up a two-way mirror from the castle."

"I wouldn't mind."  He looked at Harry.  "You had better be nice to her."

"Of course.  I'm not some lech!  I'm a very nice boy, even being sired by the great manwhore Dumass."  Gibbs stared at him.  "He did sleep around a lot."

"Putting it mildly," Tony said as he came in.  "Boss, he's got phonebook sized black books arranged by year.  About two years to a book, except for some really busy years."

"He was healing and bored during those.  That's when he slept with my grandmother.  I'm actually his on both sides.  He's my great-uncle on my father's.  Didn't realize who my grandmother was in the least."  Abby giggled at that.  "Not too close a relation at least."  Gibbs cracked a smirk so he smirked back. "Yes, I'm a nice boy.  I would never harm Abby.  Usually I'm one of those boys who's shy and blushing but she's very comfortable to be around.  Even more comfortable than 'Mione."

"She is," Tony agreed.  He came over to look.  "That's a bad thing."  He looked at Harry.  "He sent it to me?"

"Yup.  You were the only one he knew that could figure out where it was supposed to go."

"Gibbs."  He pointed at him.  "Then he'll go jump on someone with it once it's in digital form.  Where are they right now?"

"The oldest Hellmouth he's ever found.  It's not really leaking or radiating, just enough to cover up a whole host of shit that needs removed before it eats someone.  Like Ron, because then I'd have two pouting, whiny people around me."  Tony smirked at him.  "Dawn just got in-tower suspension for a week.  She bit the Runes teacher for coming after her and Midnight.  So only one pouting person this weekend."

"Draco's doing what's natural, Harry," Tony assured him.

"Doesn't mean I have to like his wraith-like self."

"True.  You could make him play on his broom."

"He refuses to fly with me.  Claims a coach said he wasn't good enough so he'll only fly with you lot for fun games now.  He'll take my spot if there's a Bane game but other than that he won't."  He shrugged.  "I'm at my wits end with dealing with him.  I'll let Stella snap him out of it this weekend since it's a training weekend."

"Get Taylor there too," Gibbs ordered.

"All right, I can do that."  He looked at him.  "Any other orders?"  He shook his head.  He smiled at Abby.  "Tonight, my beautiful one, or this weekend?"

"This weekend, I wanted to see Diagon."

"If that's what you want."  He snuck a kiss to her cheek and blushed, then popped off from right there.

"Abby, he's a very sweet, shy little boy," Tony warned.  "Do not hurt him or Alex will skin you and use your baby fat for skin cream.  Got it?"  She nodded, looking very serious.  "Good!  I mean it!"

She pinched him.  "You made me believe you were a witch like me."

"Sorry!"  He shrugged.  "I'm not supposed to tell everyone."   He looked at Ducky who smirked.

"I've met Mr. Dumass when he was gathering a former coworker."

"He does a lot of that unfortunately.  It's a dangerous field."  He uncharmed the rest of the pictures.  "There you go."  She smiled and gave him a hug then shooed them all out.  He walked out with Gibbs.  "It's a great old castle, boss.  Very calming and relaxing.  I'll make sure they've got coffee too."  That got a smirk and a head smack.  "What was that for!"

"For threatening Abby."

He stopped the elevator, looking at him.  "Harry is one of those boys who can't talk around women.  His first time meeting Stella he froze and babbled for the first hour.  Harry has *no* idea what to do with a woman, beside what Ron's told him he does with Dawnie.  He's one of those nice little boys that never got any play and women have *scared* him.  When it came out that he wasn't dating because he was shy, the *entire* female population of his school ran after him to hunt him down and lock him somewhere so they could mob him.  Twice.  To him, women are a foreign, strange creature that's barely been studied and he thinks might be poisonous.  Abby is very worldly at times.  She could easily hurt him and have no idea she did it.  So yes, I want her to be careful, boss.  Harry's strong but he's damn fragile emotionally now and then."

"I read the first book."

"Good.  It was right."  Gibbs groaned. "Harry sued the author because it was right."  That got a nod.  "So, Abby has to be careful. Not overly careful and she should have some fun, they'd make a very interesting couple.  That's the first time I haven't seen Harry stammer at a female.  He even does it at the quidditch shop when they stare in awe at him.  Which he hates."

"I don't blame the kid.  Who wouldn't."  He turned on the elevator again.  "Where's this hellmouth?"

"I'll have to look it up, boss.  Hold on."  He called Speed, who told him.  He looked at him again. "Just over the border."  He took the map of the area and pointed.  "There.  So they're probably camped right outside it.  There's caves here, I'd camp there but that's just me."

"No, that's strategically sound as well."  He looked at the map, then at him.  "Is this castle shielded like the school?"

"Even from satellites we think.  Alex has been beefing it up."

"Interesting.  I wonder if you can quantify that for us," he said as they got off, him studying the map again.  "We can find out which unit's up that way easily enough."  He ran into McGee's back.  "Do you have anything yet?"

"Yes, boss.  Petty Officer Jorkson was found dead in his apartment last night by local PD.  Their coroner is going to call Ducky and hand it over to him."

"It, McGee?"

"The body, boss.  Also any evidence.  The detective I talked to said that it looked like an OD, cocaine was found all around the apartment."

"He probably got a bag like the one that got me," Tony sighed, sitting behind his desk and rubbing his eyes.

"Go see Ducky," Gibbs ordered.

"I'm down."


"Fine."  He got up and trudged down to the morgue.  "You've got to check me out."

"Well, you are cute," Palmer, the autopsy assistant teased with a smile.

"Did you get into the drugs, Mr. Palmer?" Ducky asked, staring him down.  He shrunk a bit and walked off.  "I thought not.  Apparently it's a playful day," he shared. "Sit."

"Yes, Ducky," Tony sighed, hopping up to let him look him over.  "I wasn't wearing a mask since it was wrapped bundles, but one broke.  I may have inhaled some and I know some got on my skin but I rinsed off as soon as I could."

"Good boy, Anthony."  He checked him over to make sure he was fine.  "Are you down?"

"Fully.  Coke never lasts long."  Ducky gave him a long look.  "An undercover, Ducky.  Not from use."

"I see."  He nodded. "You're fit, but you may have a headache."

"Actually, I've got the munchies."  He headed for the break room next, leaving on the chuckles of their ME.


Danny opened his door at the knock, grimacing at Mac.  "What?" he asked, not letting him in.

"You said we'd talk after work and then you left."  He forced his way in, shutting the door behind him.  "So let's talk."

"Let's not."

"Danny, we need to talk."

"Whoa, let me disappear," Flack ordered from the kitchen. He came out with a bowl.  "Be back later, Danny?"  That got a nod.  "Sorry, game on the WWN."  He disappeared, heading home with his dinner.

Danny sat down and looked at his boss.  "Go ahead, talk."

"Danny."  He glared at him.  "I meant *us* talking."  He sat down across from him, then got up and took off his jacket before sitting down again.  "We need to fix this."


"Because you're angry and it's going to lead to my being shot."

"I'd never shoot you."

"That's not what I meant and you know it."  He stared at him, then nodded once, moving to a closer seat, which made Danny shift away.  "I'm not trying to crowd you."

"Yeah you are."

"Most people don't find me that threatening without a weapon in my hands."

"I'm not most people and I've seen you with weapons."  His eyes crossed.  "Tony said you have to come with us this weekend.  Something Alex sent Gibbs."

"Fine.  I can do that. Why didn't you tell me about Sonny when we started to suspect him?"

"Was I involved on that case?"  Mac shook his head. "Then I only heard rumors and I did tip you off.  I gave you an idea."

"Okay, a subtle clue.  I should've asked how you knew."  Danny nodded.  "Would you have told me?"

"That my old man made me try to join 'em.  Nothing else."

"Which would've alleviated doubt when it was cast.  You're right, none of us caught the clue that we should've asked.  None of us did.  You're not mad at Stella for that though."

"Stella didn't take a stand one way or the other after the shooting. You did.  You chose the lab."

"I had to protect the lab and if you had listened to me...."

"They were driving me nuts and you weren't helping any.  Your way of doing it made me look more guilty and I'll be damned if I want any more of that than I already get from my last name."  Mac's face fell.  "You know what?  The committee for the Academy took *four weeks* to look at my application because of my last name.  Every last one of them called me to make sure I knew this meant I couldn't have contact with my family ever again.  One of them was damn honest about that fact. He warned me I'd have suspicion and distrust from nearly every cop on the force until I proved myself.  Then I did, and then shit happened.  I was on my way back outta the pit when the shooting happened and back down I went, deeper since it was clear my unit didn't support me."  He got up and started to pace.  "Not only did I get it for shooting the cop, and then because my shot was off, which they claim was my guilty conscience replaying a moment when I was a bad guy, then I got it worse because apparently all you guys but Flack weren't behind me.  He stood up for me and that eased it some, letting me have a ladder again.  I'm about at the point where I can start to see a lightening in the gloom when you lock us in the office today, Mac.  So when I went out this afternoon it's like the hole got dug deeper around me.  Now I can't touch the sides either."  He glared at him.

"I didn't mean to give them more ammunition, Danny."  He stood up to make him stop moving and look at him, weathering the glare.  "I didn't.  You didn't give me a choice when you ignored my orders.  It would've been better if you had, cleaner coming out the other side."

"I was already back down in the pit because of my name, Mac.  They'd never believe me and your way was digging the hole deeper and piling it around the top edge of it.  Even Hillborne said that."  Mac slumped and let him go.  "So, no, the only way out of this hole is to work for what I had before, what I busted my ass for, or to change departments."

"You're still thinking about it?" he asked quietly.

"Gee, ya think!" he shouted, glaring more hotly now.  Mac sat down.  "Why should I stay?  Stella doesn't trust me in the field."

"She said that's because you're a bad shot."  Danny glared at him again and he quieted down.  He stood up and looked at him.  "I can help you, Danny.  I want to help you.  Would working more cases with me help?"

He shrugged.  "I don't know.  You ask the others, see what they think," he said, heading into the kitchen and coming out with a beer.  He took a calming drink.  "By the way, putting Monroe with me made everyone wonder if she had the same problems I do."

"No, she was untrained and needed guidance.  I thought you were the best one for the job most of the time.  I trained you and we trained her together."  Danny shrugged.  "All right."  He moved closer.  "I'm not worried about the others and what they think."

"You would be if you couldn't get backup."

Mac paused at that.  "Someone's been leaving you alone at scenes?"

"Not totally. Usually I get one very bored officer who's more interested in protecting Sheldon."  Mac groaned.  "You can't change that.  You'll never change that."

"I've seen it before and I should've guessed."  He looked at him.  "I want to make this right."

"Good luck.  If not, next opening Horatio has I'm going to the sunny beaches of Miami and Speed making me dinner at least once a week."  He took another drink and sat down again.

"I understand.  I have an idea.  Will you work with me?"  Danny shrugged.  "Yes, no?"

"Yeah I can work with you.  Haven't I?"

"You have.  You've been very professional, Danny.  Want more cases with Flack?"

"Might be nice."

"You two okay on the job?"

"Hasn't interfered yet," he said firmly.  "I'm not the sort to let it, Mac."

"Good.  I wasn't too sure about him."

"Didn't when he and Aiden were having their stress relief thing."  He took another drink, staring him down.  "Quaffle's in your possession, Mac."

"I understand."  He picked up his coat. "I'll work on it, Danny.  I do trust you. Even if I have to announce that at a staff meeting, I will."

"Can I work cases alone again?"

"Of course."

"Major ones?"

"Fine."  Danny nodded at that.  "You still want Flack?"

"He's still got a leaking problem now and then."

"I noticed."  He grimaced.  "I'll talk with Stella tonight. I think she's stayed out of it because she knew what was going to happen."

"Probably.  She's been around and seen it."  Mac nodded.  "We done?"  Mac nodded.  "Then we good?"

"We're good," he agreed, relaxing some.  Danny nodded and he left, going to talk to Stella.  He found her outside on her stoop when he pulled up, getting out to look at her. "Date?"

"Not dressed like this."  She looked at her tanktop then at him.  "What's up?"

"Danny."  He came up and sat beside her.  "We're making it seem like we don't trust him," he said quietly.

"I've been quietly moving closer again.  It's about the only way."

"It's not.  How many times was he left alone at scenes?"  She looked at him then shrugged.  "You knew?"

"I chewed someone a new one for it."

"It's going to get him hurt."

"Mac, there's almost no hope of him crawling out after the shooting.  Most guys who end up doing something like that either quit, transfer, or die.  The ones who stay end up bitter old guys who should've quit or transferred.  As much as I like Danny and like working with him, it's an impossible task."

"Others have done it."

"Others being decorated veteran cops. Cops like Flack's dad.  If it had been Flack, his father would have shunned him."  She looked at him.  "I know that look."

"He's back on the promotion grid."

"Does he know this?"

"He has been since things died down but he didn't until I told him this morning."  She nodded once.  "We're a team, Stella.  We stand up for each other."

"I have been when we work together."  She looked at him.  "He'll get more cases alone?" Mac nodded.  "Has anyone made sure he can use his gun?"

"Tony made sure it was cleaned a few weeks back."  She moaned.  "That's a deeper problem."

She nodded.  "Most kids that leave families like his do it because they know they can't live the lifestyle.  To do a one-eighty and become everything they don't stand for means they hurt him."

"They did.  His file said that," he agreed quietly.  "How subtle do we make this?"

"Work a case with him.  Did you realize how many odd looks Lindsey got because she was being worked on by him?"  He shook his head.  "She was.  They couldn't be sure if she was from a similar background or she was that hopeless."

"No, I trust Danny to train someone right.  That's why I gave him Sheldon so often."

"Which got noticed," she admitted. "Sheldon's generally well liked and he's made a lot of the guys calm down about Danny.  The same as Flack did. So now he's back to the point after Sonny but before the shooting.  There's light ahead of him and he can see that it exists."  He nodded.  "More cases alone, more cases with you, and more cases with Sheldon, Mac.  If you announce it to everyone then they'll think he's blackmailing you.  Remember, we're a suspicious group of people if we're good in our jobs."

"Actions instead of words."  He relaxed, she had firmed his course of action in his mind.  "We're all going to the castle this weekend.  Apparently Alex found something and sent it to Gibbs so I was told I had to go too."

"You're on this weekend."

"I can take two days off."  He looked at her.  "Send me a portkey really late Friday night."  She nodded. "Is there going to be another fun game?"

"I don't know.  Maybe Horatio will come up just to come up.  He might as well be part of the group."   He smirked at that.  "He is.  He's watching Speed for Danny and Tony. The same way Don is watching Danny for Speed and Tony."

"Then who watches over Tony?"

"Gibbs."  He chuckled at that.  "If you were a dark lord wannabe would you wanna face down Gibbs?  Tony thinks he might be able to repel a killing curse just by glare alone."

"I'd hate to see it tested," he said dryly.  "But he might."  He patted her on the knee.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  Let him play it, he's been here before, Mac.  He came in having to do it." He nodded.  "He yell at you?"

"Pacing and yelling.  Could've been worse.  Stiff, angry, non-moving Danny is always worse."  She nodded, she'd seen it once.  "Are he and Flack...."  She nodded.  "Is that why he's been so jumpy today?"

"Danny's got some issues about people getting into certain positions around him.  He's not the sort to cuddle or be held really.  Not comfortable with it.  Flack tried that this morning and it didn't work very well.  He got him calmed down afterward."

"Did someone hurt him?"

She looked at him.  "I have no idea and even if they did, he's never going to admit to it, tell anyone, or let anyone even try to talk to him about it.  Not even Tony and Speed.  They know enough to know he's like that.  Speed said he's got trust issues."

"I would too."  He stood up.  "Thanks."

"Anytime."   She watched him drive off then told Danny she had backed up his plan.  It was the only way, but she did say that Mac asked why he was so anti-touchy today.  He sent back a snort and left it there.  She pushed them out of her head again and went back inside.  Her place was a mess, she hadn't wanted Mac to see it like that.  She called Tony and Speed about finding a way to link Mac in without *linking* him in.


Gibbs looked up when they landed, blinking at the castle.  "Dual towers?" he asked, pointing.

"The library, boss.  They just put the outer one on a few weekends ago."

"Nicely done."  He walked off with Tony and McGee, plus Abby.  Ducky couldn't get away.  He heard another pop and tensed, turning to find Stella, Danny, and Don.  "Taylor?" he asked dryly.

"Tonight. He's on today," Stella offered, hugging Tony.  "Hi."

He grinned.  "Hello yourself, beautiful.  Are we playing this weekend?"

"If so, get Horatio up here.  We can all make Draco quit sulking together."

"Harry called him the pouty, sulky blond wraith," Abby offered.  She waved.  "Hi, I'm Abby."  They all smiled.  "I figured out how to digitize wizarding photos."

"Good job!" Danny praised, clapping her on the back.  "You're a nature path witch, huh?"  She nodded.  "That's cool."  He walked her up to the castle.  "Don't be surprised at the house elves."  The door opened and Draco glared at him.  "She digitized the stuff Alex sent Tony."


"We recorded it like a quick film," she offered, holding out a hand. "I'm Abby.  I work with Tony and I'm a nature path witch."

He limply shook her hand.  "Wonderful.  Don't turn out like Rosenburg."

Danny snorted.  "I doubt she's evil, Draco," he noted.  "Probably more like Tara."  That got a faint smile.  "Maybe she can come up so Abby's not totally bored while they lesson?"

"Perhaps.  She's bored."  He let them inside.  "Tea, library, now," he called.

"Abby!" Harry called, racing down the stairs, hugging her.  "Hi."  She beamed and bounced a bit.  "Come on, I'll show you to the library."  He walked her off, chatting about what she had managed to figure out about wizarding photos.

Draco looked at Danny, who looked stunned.  "Then I guess I'm not wrong in my assumption," he said dryly.  "Alex and the aunts will be pleased."  He looked at the others, then at Tony.  "And this is?"

"Gibbs.  The one the stuff he sent to me ended up with.  My boss."

"I've heard you speak of him," he admitted, shaking his hand.  "Library, children.  And you of course, Stella."  She kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you."

"You're pouting," she said once everyone else had walked on, giving him a slightly pouty look.  He frowned.  "That's not much better."

"I need to have Alex closer, Stella.  It keeps me sane and in balance."

"Maybe he'll be able to get a break soon, Draco.  Isn't the bond helping?"

"Slightly but I'm used to getting it at least twice a day and Weasley hardly ever leaves his side at the moment.  It's safer that way."

"Well, maybe it'll be solved sooner.  How long did it take him to clear out Sunnydale?"

"Two weeks with all our help plus some guarding by Buffy."  She gave him a look.  "I know, but it's nearly halfway. Then they had to stop because of what he found."  He walked her into the library, watching Abby and Harry bound around about the books and the portraits.  He shook his head as he sat down, pouring out tea. "Gibbs?"

"Please."  He got handed a pre-filled cup, earning a smile. "Thanks, kid."

"I'm not that young."  He handed Tony his cup.  "Fortunately the guest quarters are ready," he said, staring him down.  He got a sweet smile instead.  "Fine.  Some warning next time?"

"I tried to floo, no one answered."  Draco moaned and shook his head, pouring other cups.  "Abby, Harry, tea?"

"I'm good," Harry called.

"Real English tea?" Abby asked, bouncing back.

"With cream and sugar if you want," Draco assured her, giving her a faint smile.  It was hard not to when she looked like she had a child's innocence in a grown up body.  He fixed her one.  "Which do you like, Abby?"

"Cream please."  He added a bit and handed it over.  "Thank you, Draco.  I'm glad the books got you at least a little bit wrong."  She took a sip and looked then at him.  "What sort of cream is that?"

"Unicorn," Tony told her with a bright grin.  "Alex's family raises them."

"There's about half the herd at the other house at the moment," Harry offered, smiling at her.  "We can watch them after ice cream?"  She squealed and gave him a one-armed hug, then went back to browsing the books. "Draco, can I introduce her to Tara?"

"Of course.  Tara's feeling relatively bored at the moment as well.  She's with Wesley."  Harry nodded and drew her into the other library to call Tara over the floo Luna had set up in their house. He shook his head. "The aunts will be pleased."  Danny chuckled at that.  "They will be.  They despaired of Harry ever finding a nice girl and of the rest of us knowing any.  Then they met Stella and decided nice girls were a bit overrated."  Stella blushed at that.  "Tell them no more firmly, Stella.  Please.  I'm not ready for heirs yet."  She nodded at that, taking another drink.  He checked and got Danny his. "Where's the cohort?"

"Nagging Horatio," Danny told him.  "Are we practicing this weekend?"  Draco gave him a genuine, happy smile.  "Don and I could use some anyway."  Don nodded at that. They had both had to miss practice thanks to a fresh body.  "We've got a game next weekend if you wanted to come, guys."

"I can bring Gibbs," Tony agreed, looking at him. "You'll like quidditch, boss. It's fast, active, and there's a slight chance of you getting hit with a bludger."  He smiled. "A very small chance."

"The inter-borough league plays indoors and there's nets up," Stella told him.  "That way you don't get hit and we can't run into you when Danny knocks another player off his broom again."  Tony chuckled at that.

"Danny, you gotta teach me that corkscrew shot you used," Don ordered, grinning at him. "Please?"

"Sure, we'll do that during practice."  Don beamed at him and sipped his tea.  "So, great one, what's on this weekend?"

"Alex is setting up a mirror tomorrow morning.  Tonight you will be helping the students with Herbology, I'll be helping with another potions lesson, and then we'll go over Transfiguration Sunday."  That got a mass of nods.  "And of course those who aren't in practice are more than welcome to join in," he said, looking at McGee.  "Do you even still have your wand? Your powers are extremely backed up."

"Oops." He pulled out his wand.  "Luminos."  It lit up.  "Nox."  It went out.  He looked at Draco, who shook his head.  "Any better?"

"Not hardly.  I'm surprised you aren't sick with as backed up as you are."  He took another sip then added some more tea to his cup.  "Anyone want any more?"  They all shook their heads.  "Me!"  The house elf popped in.  "Make sure the usual rooms are ready and find rooms for everyone else."  She nodded, disappearing again.  Speed drug Horatio in.  "They're planning a practice session tomorrow.  Tea?"

"Please," Horatio agreed, taking his cup.  He looked at the cream.  "Clotted?"

"Unicorn."  Horatio accepted it and the sugar, then sat down to drink, looking around.  "Yes, he's backed up."

"I've been there.  I got pneumonia thanks to it," he admitted.

"We can help him fix that," Speed agreed, sitting between Tony and Stella.  "Harry at practice?"

"With Abby talking to Tara."  Speed grinned at that.  "The aunts will be quite pleased."  That got a choke from Horatio.  "He's very shy.  The girls at school hunted him down and traumatized him a few times our last year."  That got some chuckles.  "Seriously, they locked him in one of the girls' dorms in Slytherin with the bondage-clad and mutilated dolls in his image, paintings and stories along the same vane, and a shrine to him. I still say it's the shrine that traumatized him."  He rolled his eyes.

Harry came back to the hallway. "Do quit, Draco.  I'm not the princess you are."

"Of course not, you didn't marry Alex."  He sneered at him. "Or else you'd have the family tiara in your room."  Harry snorted and walked off.  "Primadonna."

"I heard that," Harry called.

"Boys!" Speed called.  "Alex would spank you both!"

"Sorry," Harry called.  "Even though he might like that."

"I haven't yet.  I don't need physical violence to get me hot, Potter."

"Kids," Tony warned.

"I don't."  Danny glared and he quieted down.  "Sorry.  It's uncouth and unworthy of me."  He took another sip.  "Are you sure you don't want any tea, Tim?"

"I hate tea."  He shrugged and looked at McGee.  "You, me, Harry, Abby, outside.  Now."  He finished his tea and got up.  "Tonight?"

"Herbology, potions, transfiguration on Sunday."  That got some nods.  Speed walked Tim out after calling out to Harry.   He looked at Danny, then Don and Stella.  "The plants you're working on today are out by the ship."  They grinned and headed that way with Danny and Tony. He looked at Gibbs.  "I'll have a house elf show you to your room.  Then you can wander around for a while."

"Thank you.  I know it's an imposition."

"Alex wouldn't have sent for you if it wasn't important. Even if you did find out about Tony."  He stood up.  "Me?"  She reappeared.  "Show him to his room?"  She nodded and walked him off, taking him and his cup of coffee, which she refilled for him.  He looked up.  "You do vex me, husband," he said quietly.  Then he called him to tell him Gibbs was there and Taylor was coming later that day.  He didn't get an immediate answer but Ron called a minute later saying they were fine.  "Mother fucker."  He tapped into the wider function of the bond, finding Alex unconscious.  Ron claimed it was a rockfall, which he could sense the dust.  That they were fine.  He let him go and went to the potions lab, sending him the emergency bag of healing potions.  Ron sent back a hearty 'thank you, kiss you later for this' and signed off after saying they'd be free by tonight but the mirror was on automatic.  He sighed and went to find the others, finding Speed and Harry going over hexes to wear him out.  "There was a rockfall."

"You need to go?"

"Alex is unconscious.  I sent the healing potions. I'm not sure yet.  He said the mirror's on automatic.  It should load to the one in his study."  Speed nodded. "If not, the one in our bedroom.  It's happened in the past."  He looked around then sighed.  "I should go check."  He walked off, going to call Arens and get his opinion.  "Arens."  His head popped into the floo, smiling at him.  "Bad news.  Rockfall.  I sent healing potions.  Alex is unconscious. I should go, right?"

"You should stay. You're still weak, Draco.  He's on a hellmouth and that could taint you.  If Ron's all right he can get them free, and if there's military there, they'll help."

"He found them doing stuff.  I'm not sure they didn't cause it."

"Yes, but you landing there won't make much of a difference and it could hurt things," he cautioned.  "If they catch sight of you, it'd be a bad thing.  Especially if you pulled the partially trained ones with you."  He looked behind him and disappeared, then came back. "The goblins know.  They said we're not going."

"Bet me."  He clicked it off and called Philip, getting a grumpy headmaster.  "I'm taking Dawn and Harry to help Alex and Ron.  Deal with it," he muttered, then went to their room to change. It wasn't often he did the official curse breaking stuff, but he was just as trained as Harry and Ron, and practiced just as much as Ron did.  He came out pulling on his jacket.  "Bettor!"  She appeared.  "Take care of the house and the guests.  I'll be back tonight. Alex is in danger."  She nodded, going to do that. He jogged down the stairs, walking outside.  Harry took one look at him and swallowed, summoning his jacket.  "Rockfall.  The goblins are refusing to let Arens go.  Pick up Dawn, meet me at Diagon.  I need to pick up something for him."  Harry nodded, rushing off to do that.  "Keep going," he ordered.  "They need the training.  We'll be back before tomorrow with any luck.  The mirror is on automatic and should go to the study, if not, check my bedroom."  He headed for the apparation point, heading off to Diagon to pick up what he needed.  After a quick stop at the shadowy little store in the back of Knockturn, he joined the other two, making the portkey for inside the cave.  It was less risk of being found out.


Speed jogged out to where the others were.  "Alex got pinned by a rockfall.  Harry and Draco went off with Dawn to help. They'll be back tonight."  Tony nodded and Danny looked at him.  "He'd have collapsed if Alex was in real trouble."

"True.  The mirror?"

"He said it's on automatic."

"Good."  Tony considered it.  "Okay, we'll continue with lessons tonight and tomorrow we'll do what we can if they're not back."

"Arens?" Stella asked.

"He told Harry the goblins said he couldn't go."

"Then it's probably too dangerous.  Goblins would never leave one of their own out there," Danny said, standing up.  He unwound the tentacle around his chest.  "Cute, plant."  He looked at him again.  "They'll be fine.  Alex trained them.  Arens said that Ron's as well trained as he was his fifth year in the field.  It's just that Alex is expanding his areas now."  That got a nod. "So we're still good?"

"We're still fine."  He looked behind him.  "Depending on the house elves."

"Me!" Tony called.  She appeared, looking scared.  "Did Draco leave any other orders for us?"

"For Better to take care of guests, Tony sir."  She smiled at him weakly.  "Master Alex is all right?"  They all nodded. "Good.  Me tell the others.  Tony sir want dinner soon?"

"Not until the usual time," Danny ordered.  She beamed and nodded.  "Make sure Gibbs has plenty of coffee and we'll get a snack between this and Potions."  That got another nod and she disappeared to reassure the other house elves, including the ones at the manor.  He looked at the skeptical students.  "I can run a potions lesson and if I can't I'm sure I can ask Tipsy.  Horatio might even be good at them."  He looked at Speed.  "Go unplug McGee with Horatio's help."  That got a nod and he headed off.  "We're going to quit killing the plants, Don."

"Sorry, it's trying to eat me!"

"Of course it is, it tries to eat bunny rabbits," Stella teased.  "Since you're so fluffy and cute it's confused."

He glared at her. "Take that back!"  She giggled and shook her head.  "I'm not fluffy!"  He pounced her.  "I'm not!"

"Get off me, you're heavy!" she complained.  Then she shrieked because he found her ticklish spots.  "Get off!"

"No!  Take it back!"

"Kids!" Tony yelled. They glared at him and went back to it.  "Go ahead, Danny."

"I'm telling Mac," Danny told them.  "And taking pictures."

"Hey, I'll get plenty of kudos and back slaps for bein' on top of Stella," Don taunted, smirking at her. "You're the one who'll get hell."  She tried to knee him but he smirked and pinned her down.  "That's the advantage of chasing bad guys every day."  She wiggled but he went back to tickling her, making her shriek in outrage.

Danny walked over and leaned down, whispering in Don's ear.  He got off with a blush.  "Thank you.  Back to work, kids. Play tomorrow."  He saw Horatio watching and nodded him over.  "You can help."

"Thank you."  He helped Stella up, dusting her off.  "Are you all right?"

"Yes, even though he weighs a ton!" she complained, frowning at Flack. "What did he say?"

Don blushed and shook his head.  "Nothing."  He went back to the Flack-eating bush, zapping it good with a freezing charm.  "Ha!"

"I take it we're killing plants today?" Horatio asked, looking amused.

"Just Don's," Tony assured him brightly.  "Speed did the same thing when his tried to eat him.  Pissed the teacher off to no end because he got the *whole* greenhouse."

"He spent the rest of that month and most of the next planting new samples of everything," Danny agreed dryly. "Try impedimentia, not the one you used to give Tony icy balls, Don."

"I thought you said Speed did that, Danny," he said, shooting a glare at him.

"We did," Don agreed.  Then he took off running.

"Get back here!" Tony shouted, chasing after him.  "You can't hide like the dragon did!"

"I hope not, it's still really weird not having the dragon trying to go down my shirt."  Horatio looked at her.  "Keelian's favorite spot is stomachs.  Mine, Dawn's. Emilia's but she grabbed him by the tail so he hates her now.  Ginny's."

Danny smirked at her and nodded.  "He's a bit like that.  Baby dragons can be that way."  He smirked at her. "I'm surprised he isn't here stealing more for his nest."

"Don freed a good chest of gems for him," she complained.

Horatio shook his head. "Keeping a dragon is illegal."

"He's the school's.  He just adopted this really amusing group of insanity."  He cracked a smile at that.  "He did, he adopted Ron when he couldn't eat him."

"I heard."

"Get back here!" Tony shouted.  "I'll get you for that!"  They were heading for the ship now.  "Don't think you being a curse breaker will help your ass!"

"DiNozzo!" Gibbs yelled.

"He gave me icy balls, boss.  He deserves it!" he yelled as he continued after Don.

Danny and Speed looked at each other, considering helping either of them.  Danny shifted Tony closer to him.  Speed made Don featherlight.

"Bastards!" Don yelled.  He jumped up and onto the ship, then went to hide inside it.  "Holy shit!"

Tony stopped and looked at it.  "Do I want to know?"

"Probably not!"  He threw something at his head then uncast the charm on himself so he'd quit hitting the ceiling.

"Holy shit!" Tony said in awe.  The others came over.  He held up the gold coin.  "Doubloon."

Horatio took it to look over.  "It's authentic."  He looked at the ship.  "Was Alex a pirate?"

"No, but one of his uncles was," a female voice offered.  They turned to look at the woman.  "Hi.  Sorry, I'm Aunt Cordy.  Where are the boys?  Alex is in trouble?"

"Going after Alex and Ron," Danny assured her.  "We're up for some training time and to help with a problem he found over there."

"I had wondered about the muggles," she admitted, looking at Gibbs.  "Are you a nature path witch as well?"  He shook his head quickly.  "Pity, you do have the strength of will to make it work.  Don?"  He came back out.  "Dear, that old thing is riddled with traps and falling apart.  This summer you can help the others take SCUBA lessons to clean up the other ship that's already sank, but please don't get stunned or anything.  Oh, and watch out for the skeleton, dear," she said, pointing behind him.

He turned.  "Severus!"  The head came off and it collapsed.  "Can I clean it up, Aunt Cordy?"

She smiled. "Alex keeps saying he's going to but he hasn't yet.  I suppose there's no real harm in it.  Just don't get too badly banged up.  Now, will Alex need anything?"

"Draco said it was a rockfall," Speed offered as he joined them.  She nodded, accepting that.  "He went with Dawn and Harry to help and bring some potions."

"That's good, I'll trust Draco to bring our baby boy home."  She patted him on the cheek, then smiled at Abby.  "You're adorable!"  She pinched her on the cheek.  "I'll send over some cookies, Don."

"Yes, Aunt Cordy.  Thank you."  She smiled and walked off.  "Guys, have fun with the eating plants."  He ducked back inside, his curious nature coming out. He could feel so many things that he wanted to figure out now.  Alex had warned him about this part of curse breaking but he considered it fun since he wasn't doing it full time.

Danny shook his head.  "We'll pull him out for dinner.  Stella, plants."  She sighed, taking Horatio and Tony that way, making Speed snicker.  "Speed, he clear?"

"Yup, and showering.  What is that?"

"Pirate ship apparently," Danny said with a shrug.  "It's hooked Don."  He walked off with him and Gibbs.  "You can come watch if you want."

"Sure.  McGee's getting changed by now."

"He can come help too," Speed assured him.  "You too, Abby."  She beamed.  "That's one subject that you could really use on your path."  She nodded.  "Are you and Tara meeting up?"

"Tomorrow morning while you guys go over the feed from Iraq and then to watch practice."  She beamed at him.  "She seems very nice and sweet."

"She is," Danny agreed.  "Tara's a sweetheart."  He pointed at the frozen plant. "Go ahead and warm that up, Abby.  I know you can."  She nodded and quietly cast a small heating charm, beaming at him.  "Very well done.  Now watch out, it wanted to eat Flack."

"These like boys more than girls to eat.  Of course it did."

"That's why I destroyed a whole greenhouse full of plants," Speed agreed dryly, staying well away from them.

Horatio smirked at him.  "They refused to go over them in my year.  We had almost no girls."  Speed smirked at him. "That was the year Salem had open enrollment."  Tony snickered at that.  "You remember that?"

"My father wanted to send me but my mother refused the reassignment potion."  Stella looked at him.  "Salem is a girls only school.  It's a good one, but it's still girls only."  He looked at Danny.  "Why didn't Greg send Lindsey there?"

"He said something about elitist snobs.  She's doing really well in Canada."

"That's a wonderful school," Horatio agreed.  He looked at Stella.  "What book set are you using?"  She pulled them out and unshrunk them so he could look them over. "There's only a local tutor in the area.  There's a small school in the Keys but it teaches more nature path ways than Ray's comfortable with and his mother would quickly realize what was going on when he had to disappear every day."

"You tried easing up on it again?" Speed asked.

"She got hysterical again."  He looked at her.  "Can we check to see if she's one?"

"Failed nature path," Danny told him. "She tried and it didn't work."  He shrugged.  "We can tutor Ray, Horatio.  Not like we have a ministry to enforce equivalencies."

"There's actually a Ministry?" Gibbs asked.  Everyone nodded.  "Why don't we have one?"

"Salem tried after the Revolutionary War, but there weren't enough of us," Tony told him.  "They tried every decade for almost a century but the Civil War stopped them for a bit.  After that, we were too far flung and higher wizards were carving out areas of their own to hold and lord over.  If there's anything too serious, we go to Canada or Mexico."

"Canada's still under Britain's and Mexico's is seriously uptight," Speed continued.  "Mexico makes communism look fluffy by how tough they are on their witches.  Especially the witches.  They've taken the old-line Catholic leanings a bit far among that community.  They don't even have voting rights in the wizarding community down there."

Danny nodded. "The overlord system works okay in spots that have one.  Most of the time these days they're voted in.  Las Vegas has one of the coolest of them all.  He's pretty much 'you can handle that' and only handles the big stuff.  New York's is tied to the military and a bastard to deal with.  Los Angeles' girl is perpetually tired because they've got the hellmouth nearby and she's got to keep hiding that.  I'm sure Angel's helping her with that now and then.  Seattle's is pretty laid back too but you get a bunch of techie witches and wizards up there.  Mostly muggle born who try to combine the two for better gaming systems and stuff."  Stella smiled at that, she had seen one of those.  "Makes Doom much more realistic when you're sucked into the game, which is why I don't play."  Tony snickered at that. "I don't need it," he reminded him dryly. "I get enough doom every day at work.  Horatio, do you guys have one?"

"We mostly have retired wizards and witches.  They only cause problems when they feel like reliving their youth.  Then it's things like leaking."

"Which means every single magic case came to me because I'm the one they identified after a homicide," Speed assured them all.  "There's only one other guy in the PD that I know about.  He just moved to Narco to watch that side.  He lets me know when we've got a really strong shield over a drug drop."

"Which we can call Gringotts and have them send someone to shatter it," Horatio agreed.  "I got Alex to do a few for me over the years."  That got some smiles. "Usually it's the injured or bored people."  He shifted, looking at the plant coming near him, pulling his wand.  "Don't even think about it, plant."  The plant backed off. "Good plant."  Everyone snickered.

"And I thought you were imposing, boss," Tony snickered.

Stella looked at him.  "He is.  Abby thinks he could stop a killing curse with a glare."

"He probably could," Tony agreed happily.  "If we ever have to find out, someone's going to die."  Abby nodded at that.

"Call if you need evil thoughts," Danny reminded him.

"Or help," Speed offered.

"Thanks, guys.  I love you!"  He hugged them both, then Stella but she pinched him.  "Ow!"

"No groping, Tony, I'm not one of your harem of easy nights."

"Sorry!"  He rubbed his arm.  "Meany," he said with a pout.  She gave him a look and he grinned.  "Please?"

"No.  I'm not in the mood to be groped after you guys let Don tickle me."  She poked him.  "Get back to work before you get eaten."  He got back to work, slipping her a sideways grin.  She shook her head. "Sorry, Tony, I only like guys who appreciate me for more than my nice boobs and hot ass.  You don't respect me for my mind yet.  When you do I'll let you flirt.  Until then, flirt with Danny."

Tony smiled at him.  "I can do that."

"Unless you're planning on ending up on your back tonight, I'd quit," Danny said with a fond grin for him.  Tony shrugged and kissed him, but Danny squeezed his ass so he let go. "I need that tongue, thank you.  See me after dinner, Tony."

"Yes, dear."

"Damn, that's hot," Stella offered.

"It was worse back in the dorms when we were teenagers," Speed assured her, smiling sweetly. "Tony and Danny had most of the upper years begging after them.  I had my chosen few because I'm a bit more picky than Tony."  Danny snorted at that.  "I am."  He glared at him, then smiled at Stella again.  "The school's official policy was 'better to bugger than to knock someone up, end up suddenly married, and you're both kicked out of school'.  It was written into the handbook for students."  She gaped.  He nodded.  "Yeah.  Can't get a guy pregnant."

"Draco said a Hufflepuff figured out how," Danny teased him.  "When Tipsy first got pregnant and announced it, it somehow came out that the twins were pregnant.  When they corrected it, she figured out how to do it and offered the process to Tipsy."  Speed and Tony both gaped.  Horatio and Gibbs both chuckled.  "Exactly.  So they might wanna change that one soon."

"I can't imagine a school handling that calmly," Stella said, shaking her head.  "Besides, how many guys would do that?"

"Draco," Speed offered.

"Harry would if his girl couldn't," Tony agreed.

"Alex might to freak people out," Danny offered, cracking everyone up.  They could almost see a broody, pregnant Alex Dumass.

"Well, Draco did nag him about cleaning up the store caverns after the game," Horatio offered dryly.

"Aunt Cordy and the others want heirs," Stella agreed.  "Better him than me or Catherine."  Horatio looked at her. "I'm not ready for kids yet."  He nodded, understanding that.  She heard a pop and looked around.  "Something just appeared."

Don walked up the hill carrying something.  "That place is full of crap," he offered happily, his hair singed.  "Sorry, had to get this away from the miniature whale that tried to toast me."  He put it down and went back.

"A fire breathing whale?" Tony asked, looking at Danny.  "Huh?"

"Extinct, wizard-created crossover with a water dragon, looks like a whale, breathes fire, impervious skin, but it's bright purple."  They all nodded.  "So either it's a zombie in the trap or that's the last one."  He hurried after Don.  "If it's living it's supposedly extinct!" he called.

"No they're not! There's a whole bunch of them in the hold of the ship!"  He came back up onto deck.  "Momma and babies."  He grinned at him.  "I'm pretty sure they're alive, the one I fished out struggled to breathe until I put it back."  Danny sighed and nodded.  "Should we call Sev?"

"Can he get onto the ship safely?"

Don shook his head.  "Give me a few more hours."  He got back to work, whistling.

Danny trudged back to the castle and to the communication floo.  "Severus Snape, Hogwarts."  His head spun into the grate, looking unpleased.  "Don just found the old wreck of a pirate ship and he's working on it.  He found some of those fire breathing whales."  Snape blinked at him.  "A whole colony.  He said it'd be a few more hours before the ship was safe to walk onto, but...."  He shrugged.  "We figured you'd wanna know."

"I'll be there momentarily," he agreed.  His head disappeared.  He went to gather the necessary capturing materials then called Charley Weasley.  "Do you deal with the fire breathing whales if they're found alive?"  He looked amused.  "They found some at Dumass Castle in an old pirate ship."  Charley burst out laughing, waving a hand and nodding.  "Then come here tonight please."  He signed off and headed there.  Only his father.  Truly, only a very powerful curse breaker could bring back an abomination like that one and make people laugh with it.  Danny met him and walked him down there.  Don came out and helped him up onto the ship then down to where they were congregating.  "They are," he said.  Danny nodded, staring.  "We'll need to capture some for proof."

"Get some of the water too," Danny said, going down to fill up the fishtank with some of the water and a few of the babies.  The colony got really pissed so he found the female and put it back.  They were still pissed so he put the others back and got two of the older, slow ones.  They struggled but that was all right.  The others were crowding around the young.  He handed them to Snape with a small grin.  "Have fun with the Ministry."

"I doubt I'll be heading there.  They're usually ineffective."  He headed off with the fishtank of proof, going back to make Philip deal with this.  After all, Alex was a Bane. He put the tank on his headmaster's desk and smirked, then walked off.

"Holy Mother of God," Philip said, getting up to get one of his goldfish to put in there with them.  They snapped it up.  He called Methos and Charley, who came running to help.  "Snape brought 'em," he offered.

"They were at Alex's castle," Charley said, dipping in more meat.  They snapped it up and stared at him, one huffing smoke.  "Sure, greedy."  He tossed in more until one piece sank.  "I think they're full for now."

Methos touched one and it flinched but didn't steam him.  "Friendly too."  He looked at Charley.  "This means they're not extinct and Alex will never allow anyone up there to remove more of them."

"How were they found?"  Philip shrugged.  "Snape would know?"

"Possibly."  He pointed at the floo, letting him use it.  "Call someone official while you're at it."  He reached in to stroke the other one.  "Tiny scales."

"Well, they are part dragon," Methos agreed. "Keelian?"

"Not yet."  He opened a window.  "Bring Keelian up for a minute, Hagrid!"  He got a wave and a smile.  He closed the window and sat back down again.  "I wonder if they'd like the lake."  Methos gave him a look.  "We've got other carnivorous beings in there."

"Yes, because of Hagrid.  They should go into their own pond before they throw that one into ecological decay."  The door opened and Hagrid carried the baby dragon in.  It wiggled down and hissed at the cage.  "They're your cousins," Methos said firmly. "Be nicer."  The dragon got up onto the desk, staring at them. One of them stared back and huffed out some smoke.  Keelian smoked back and the whales moved away.

"They're ad'rble," Hagrid said, reaching in to pet 'em.  "I thought they all died."

"Alex found a few," Philip said.  Charley stood up.  "We good?"

"We can set them up a pond up here, Hagrid. We'll have to make sure to get the water the same as they've had up there, but it shouldn't be too hard.  We can even get bits and pieces of the old ship up there."  He smiled at the dragon. "How are you, Keelian?"  The dragon huffed him, the purred and leaned against his hand.  "Yeah, I take care of you lot."

"Alex lent him some nesting materials," Philip said proudly.  "He refused to come back to the school without some."  Charley smiled at that.

"He's got a nice burrow out near the unicorn," Hagrid agreed happily.  "You can come see, Charley.  Ginny's out there making sure it's safe now since she's in detention again."

"What'd she do this time?" he sighed.

"Fighting with another girl who wanted to ride her horse," Philip offered.  Methos moaned.  "It's not her fault the girl couldn't understand that Apple can only be ridden by a Valkyrie.  She did go too far in suggesting she try out to become one."  They all smirked at that.  "She did."

"She did," Methos agreed.  "I only gave her the day.  Did Miss Summers break suspension?"  Philip nodded.  "Are we punishing her further?"

"For going to save Alex's life?"

"When you put it that way," he complained.  Philip smirked at him.  "Fine.  What happened? I wasn't listening."

"Rockfall."  Methos nodded.  "Right on the older hellmouth he found. With some military activity he wasn't sure about nearby."  Methos moaned.  "Harry, Draco, and Dawn all went.  I got told they picked up some new explosives and bullets in Knockturn as well."

"Wonderful.  Thank you for the warning.  Should I prepare Poppy for the worst?"

"Nah, Draco'll fuss him ta death," Charley assured him.  "Consort Veelas are like that.  They get pouty when they're away from their mate and then they fuss when they come back."

"So Harry will be the sane one then?" Methos asked.  Charley and Philip considered that then nodded that it was probably true.  "The world may end then."  The door crashed open and Don walked in carrying something. "More of them?"

"No, hellishly heavy books on the ship."  He put them down and they squished.  "Greg said to bring them here since Philip's such a good book fixer."  Philip smiled at that.  "There's six more of these in the entry.  The floating charm wore out.  One's seriously wet."

"I'll work on 'em for Alex," he promised with a smile.  "Anything else of note?"

"Doubloons," he said, tossing over one.  "Um, a few crates of jewelry.  Anything in the hold is underwater and I don't know how to dive yet."  He shrugged. "That'll be this summer probably."  Philip nodded. "I'll do a check for anything that's got spells running out and take it out but otherwise there was only clothes."  He grinned and headed out.  "Thanks, Philip."

"Welcome," he called after him. " Hagrid, would you mind?"

"Not't'all," he agreed happily, going to heft those upstairs for him.  Then he went to pick out a spot for his new pond.  Another few boxes appeared and he grinned. Then one last one leaking water appeared so he let it drain, hearing something struggling.  He hurried it up there and emptied it into the fishtank, letting the little one free.  "There you go," he said, giving it a fond pat.  "It was in here, Philip."  He handed that one over and went back to make sure nothing else appeared.

Philip looked at the very wet scroll. "It's the deed to Dumass Castle.  It looks like there was a card bet going on and it was the wager."  He carefully unrolled it and blinked.  "Alex's forefather lost."

Methos touched his tattoo to call Alex, who said they had won it back ten years later.  He relaxed then Alex told him about the whales, getting an 'I know' back.  Alex said they'd be home tomorrow with the rest of the city's contents.  He let it go. "They're fine.  He'll be back tomorrow with everything else.  They won it back ten years later.  Apparently his aunt won it back after flogging that uncle."  Philip smiled and rolled it up.  "He said there's another copy of the full scroll in the library somewhere.  He had no idea that Draco was expanding again."

"It needed it," Philip assured him.

"Alex's library at the manor?"

"No, the one at the castle," Methos said, looking at him.  "Two towers now and a floor's worth of books."  Charley gaped.  "He likes library jobs."  Charley shook his head.   "It's good for research."

"I bet.  Well at least those wizards you guys are training are in good hands."  He walked the tank outside to help Hagrid set up the pond.

Philip and Methos shared a look and got into the books.  Another squishy wooden box appeared with a note about the trap next to them busting the charm keeping the water out.  A few more appeared then nothing else, except a note saying Don was done.  They smirked and got to work.  There were always amusing things to find at Dumass' house.

"Sex manuals, what a shock," Methos said when he opened his box.

Philip giggled and nodded, getting into his, stacking the books on the floor so he could do drying charms on them.


Alex was helped into the house, hearing the quiet.  "Must be really late."  He smiled at his mate.  "Bath then bed?"

"Bath, then sex, then bed," Draco ordered, leading him that way.

"I agree," Dawn told Ron, taking him up to their room.  Harry shook his head behind him, going to his own room.  "Thank you, guys."


Don came out of his room to look at them. "Alex, when I busted the trap on the old larder it broke some of the charms on the nearby crates and chests.  I sent them to Philip since the first handful were books."

"That's fine, Don.  Thank you."  He smiled at him.  "We're sorry if Draco keeps you guys up."

"Not a problem."  He smirked at Draco. "You look happier."

"I will be shortly, once he's had a bath."  He walked him that way.

Ron smirked at him.  "That empty cavern? Not anymore."  Don beamed at that.  "Lots and lots of shiny stuff and other stuff too."  He let Dawn help him off.  "We're sorry if we keep you up too."  He closed their bedroom door once they were inside.  "Bath?"

"Bathing then bath sex," she agreed, herding him that way, doing the stripping charm as they walked.

Don went back to bed, smiling happily. It was only minutes before Draco was shrieking like a siren in heat, then Dawn and Ron's room was rocking with moans.  Gibbs and Tony both came out of their rooms, soon joined by Mac and Horatio.  "They're back.  The loud, squeaky one is Draco.  The moaning deeper ones are Ron."   He smiled and went back to his room, closing the door gently.

"I've never been that loud in my life," Tony said with awe.  Gibbs smacked him just for the sheer pleasure of it.  "Hey!"  He glared at him but he and Mac had went back to their room.  Tony sighed and went back to his.  "Kate would've loved this," he told himself.

Stella came out into the hall.  "Permission to do something since you guys are worse than a porno tape?" she bellowed.

"Granted!" Dawn called back, then she squealed.  "Thank you!"

Stella laughed and went back to her room.  She found Horatio in his doorway and smirked at him.  "They are that bad."

"They are," he agreed, pulling her closer to kiss her and pull her inside.  "Are we still on for practice tomorrow?"

"As long as we can pull Don away from the shiny stuff."  He nodded, kicking the door closed behind him. They both ignored the growling outside the door.  It was probably the dragon.


Tony and Speed snuck over to Mac's room at dawn, waking the cranky Marine up, getting glared at.  "You need in on the bond," Speed said quietly, sitting beside his feet on the left, Tony taking his right side.  "We can do that, but it'll be like Stan's gender spell."

"It'll link you in, but not too tightly.  You won't be as close to us as we are to each other," Tony agreed. "We think Danny could use an extra anchor now and then."

"You have Stella."

"Mac, you haven't seen it but when Danny draws shit, he draws A-level trouble.  Not curse breaker level trouble, but A-level, higher trouble.  The last time it was attracted to him, we ended up saving him from a group that wanted to sacrifice him to their Demonic Lord," Speed said quietly.  He shifted closer.  "It happens about every other year.  Year before last was when the case with Sonny came in, right?"  Mac nodded.  "Have you... were you watching Danny?"  He slowly shook his head.  "You should've been."

"I ended up strapping him down after that to make sure nothing else could come for him," Tony said softly.  "I still managed to fight off the attack but it wasn't something that I did easily.  It fed off his misery and it hunted him down.  Fortunately Gibbs accepted my explanation of tripping while I was running.  I was in sorry shape."

"The point is, it's about time again," Speed offered.  "We have to have someone there who can handle it until us, or Alex can get there.  Don and Stella are great, but they're still only a quarter of the way trained at best.  Even if we linked Horatio and Alex in, Don would still have to practice what he got from them.  The same as he does from us."

"We can already feel it building around him," Tony assured him when Mac sighed.  "There's always a slow build and then something snaps."

"The shooting?"

"Wasn't it," Tony assured him.  "I checked to make sure he was on the same schedule."

"Is he cursed?"

"His father cast it when he refused to be like him.  He was shunning some of the violence stuff even when he was really young.  His father realized he'd have to bend him farther because of that.  This meant that Danny had to learn how to defend himself."

"There's a reason why Danny was one of the best in Defense in school," Tony said sadly.  "He came in with the skills to pass up a year but the teacher wouldn't let him and made him help the rest of us.  He thought it was pureblood teaching customs, they always hyped their kids farther before they went to school.  Instead, it was Danny having to study.  Prestons kept that up until his third year, when our school's unicorn went into a blood rage after being tainted by one of the other kids.  From there it went to a minor fall from very high up and Danny having cracked his neck vertebrae."

"While he was in the hospital, a banshee showed up to try to claim him," Speed added.  "We found out then why Danny was so good at this stuff.  She heralds another one coming.  I've felt her watching but nothing concrete has happened yet."

"Did she show up last time?"

Tony nodded.  "It was hell trying to take her on too.  She and the dementor were enough to nearly kill me and I had to call for help.  Fortunately there were a few other wizards in the city."

"His father's said he'll either join the family or he'll be plagued.  The Vinese can't force him to end it and I'm having a quiet word with Alex when this stuff starts this time.  It'll be soon.  Just a sudden snapping sensation.  It'll slowly build and then he'll snap and she'll come back.  He knows it's coming."

Mac nodded.  "For that reason alone I'll accept it, as long as I can shield him out most of the time.  I don't want to hear you five plotting my demise."

"Not an issue," Tony agreed, opening the small test tube he had been carrying.  "Hold still.  I've got to insert this.  It's pure silver."  He used his wand to open a small hole in Mac's shoulder, then tapped the small blade of silver into it.  "I chipped it earlier off the mass we used for Stan's transformation spells," he offered as he healed his shoulder.  "Now, concentrate.  Can you hear me?"  He thought at him and Mac nodded.  "Can you block us out?"

"Yeah, it's like a veil between us."  He rubbed across his forehead.  "How soon?"

"There's no set date for it to start, just when things come to a head.  He'll realize it, you'll start to see the panic again.  The anger will come back.  He'll be very tense and probably pull his wand on someone when he feels it start to build.  When it snaps, he'll try to run."

"It's not always a bad idea," Tony agreed.  "The closer to his home he is, the harder it gets.  We've seen some very bad years until he moved to Queens.  Only three of them have made him run.  So if he doesn't show up one morning, it's a bad one.  Expect the worst."

Speed nodded. "I almost thought my dying was going to set off the last one but it was too soon."

"He only got depressed," Tony told him.  He looked at Mac again.  "Danny's fragile at times but he'll never admit it, show it, or let it have him."  He stood up.  "With that said, you call us when he snaps, Mac.  Immediately.  We both have leave time to take and Horatio knows that something happens now and then.  Speed's had to leave suddenly in the past to help him."

"Danny will beat it or die with his wand in his hand," Speed offered as he stood up.   "We're researching to see if we can break it.  I've already prompted Don toward Blood Curses.  He doesn't understand why yet."

"Those two are really close.  If it happens that they get together, watch out for that being the snapping point," Tony cautioned.  They left him alone, heading back to their rooms.

Mac laid back down, thinking about the last time this had happened.  Danny had been ready to run and hadn't because the shooting had happened.  He had seen the signs of flight in him if he was honest with himself.  He'd have to watch him more closely without setting off his paranoia.  He'd talk to Alex about it in the morning.  He let himself drift back to sleep, he still had an hour before he needed to be up.