Horatio walked into the kitchen the next morning. "Morning, Alex."
"Morning, Horatio." He grinned at him. "I heard the kids had begged and pleaded for you to play keeper against the other Banes. Good job." He smirked a bit. "I'll need Don for about an hour after breakfast, then you can have most of them for however long you want. Afterward I'll expect Danny to run an exercise on casting while flying. I'll only need Gibbs and Taylor for the mirror stuff."
"That's fine." He sat down and a plate was handed to him. "Thank you."
"Me says you eat," she said firmly, staring at him. "Flying takes much food." She stomped off.
"She's mad, I only wanted toast," Alex offered. Horatio cracked a smile at that. "Anyone else up yet?"
"I heard Tony's shower going. Gibbs and Taylor should be long up by now." That got another nod. "Danny ran them through a second year potion after they worked with the Don-eating plants and they all died." Alex let a small smirk out. "Your aunt showed up."
"Which one?" He shrugged. "Flexy, which aunt was here?"
"Aunt Cordy was here to check up on naughty Alex," she said, giving him a harsh glare. "Alex worries his elfs."
"It's not like I planned to be hit with a rockfall!" She scowled and a few others got into it. "Did you guys all wake up cranky this morning?" They all nodded. "Damn. Sorry. We'll still have to get the last few shipments later, so I'll need Don's help with that, then we're back for a while." That got another nod and they went back to work. He rolled his eyes. "I'm sorry Draco and I kept you up."
"Squeaky, squealy one did," the little elf in the corner said. Alex looked at her and she blushed, ducking her head. "Parley was kept up squeaky, squealy one," she assured him.
"That was still probably Draco, Parley. Don't you usually work at the other house?" She nodded fiercely. "Then why are you here and where's Bettor?"
"Bettor and Misses marry, Aunt Cordy switch him there and send me from Jamaica." She smiled at him. "Alex not mind?"
"No, I don't mind." She nodded at that. "If you've got questions, ask Me how I like things in this house or Draco." She nodded again. "Good girl, Parley." She beamed. "Go make sure everyone's getting up. Especially Don, Draco, Harry, Ron, and Dawn." She disappeared and he went back to his breakfast. "We have a small vacation house down there. She used to be the only elf down there."
"Aunt Cordy is being sending Fluffer," Me noted, handing him more toast. "Alex ate his own food too much, is much too skinny." She went back to work making breakfast for everyone else. "Is Danny sir liking scrambled or fried?"
"I don't know, ask him," Alex ordered. She disappeared then came back to go back to cooking.
"It's got to be nice coming home to a hot meal every night," Horatio said quietly.
Alex nodded. "It can be. Now and then they play 'what's in the cupboard that we can scare Draco with' but it's nice most of the time. Especially when you've just spent the last month in the field. Those night, I end up eating in the bathtub." Horatio nodded at that. "Sand really does get everywhere when you're in the desert." He ate another bite, nodding at Don when he came in. "Eat fast, we've got to pick up the rest of the stuff I pulled out." Don nodded, sitting down to do that. "The others are up and getting ready?"
"Master Draco is being saying he not getting out of bed yet," Parley offered, reappearing. "Master Draco is being tired after Master Alex made him sane. Master Draco is being saying to be safe and Master Draco will see him at lunch."
"That's fine," Alex agreed, smiling at her. "The others?"
"All but one in rooms and getting up. That one is being outside." Alex nodded. "Master Alex wants Parley to dust libraries?"
"Go ahead if you want to." She beamed and pulled a feather duster out of her dress, going to do that. He looked at the other junior curse breakers as they came in. "Libraries?" he asked Harry.
"Your old one ran out of room, Alex. Of course Draco added on." Alex groaned. "It's very tastefully done. It's a small joining hallway and then another tower." He sat down to eat. "Why did we have to get up so early?"
"Because we've got to heft the last of those boxes back here." Everyone groaned. "Then Dawn should go back to her suspension." She looked at him and shrugged. "Why did you bite the Runes teacher?"
"I corrected him on something, we got into a screaming match, I produced the book the goblins are making me learn from. He kicked at Midnight, I bit him on the arm."
"Fine," he agreed, shaking his head. "I can only bitch about that one." She smiled. "You've been doing the portkey spell, right?"
"Yup, I even found out how to do it inside the school to send naughty notes to Luna at night."
"Good job, tell Philip before the end of the year."
"Yes, Alex." She smiled and accepted her plate. "Thank you, Me. Very nicely done." Me smiled and got plates for the rest of them as well. Don grunted and held out his plate, getting seconds. She waited until he had put it down to swat him. "Manners."
He finished chewing and swallowing. "Thanks, Me. I was going to, my mouth was full." He glared at her and she sneered back. "I've seen worse, Dawnie."
"Children, way too early for this," Alex said firmly. "Or else I'm spanking all your asses."
"I was being good," Ron complained.
"You and Harry have deserved it and gotten missed before," he noted patiently. "Harry, when we get back, help Draco go over the family heirloom books to see what's still missing."
"Draco's been seeking for us," Horatio told him.
Alex smiled. "Thank you. He missed playing." Horatio nodded at that. "That's fine, they can do that after practice then." He shrugged and finished his breakfast, leaning back. Me looked at him and he shook his head. "I'm good until lunch. Make a nice, big lunch."
"Yes, Master Alex sir. Beef, chicken, quail, deer, or moo?"
"What's the difference between beef and moo?" Dawn asked, looking a bit confused.
"Moo is hamburger," Harry told her. "No matter what it's made of, it's moo."
"Oh!" She nodded, digging back in. "I had wondered about that."
"Remember that beef and veggies dish with the noodles?" They all nodded, that had been a good dinner. "Make that for lunch, make sure we've got bread for those who like the gravy sauce you guys put with it, make the gravy on the side since Stella and Don are watching their waists, and make something soothing and puddingy for dessert." They squealed and got to work. "Then make a real dinner tonight." That got another squeal and they ran around to check the cabinets, making a list and sending someone out for groceries.
"I'm going to be fat," Don complained.
"It makes them happy to spoil us," Alex reminded him patiently. Don nodded, he did like that stuff. He looked up, noticing the owl coming toward the house. "Mail." The door was opened and he held up a hand, letting the owl land on it. He saw the black letter and moaned, taking it. "Thank you." It flew off, heading back outside. He looked it over, then opened it, frowning at what was inside. "Damn it! I'll be right back." He got up and headed upstairs. "Draco?" Draco sniffed and raised his head. He held up the letter. It got snatched and Draco moaned. "What was your mother doing that would create a 'missing and probably dead' letter?"
"I don't know," he admitted, sitting up to reread it. "It said she was on her way to the house in America for some reason. She would've portkeyed. Maybe it malfunctioned and dropped her off?" He looked at him. "I'll check later, Alex." He stole a kiss. "I'll be up in time for practice and think about it while I fly." Alex looked at him. "Fine, I'll do it now so I'm not distracted so I won't fall." He got up with a moan and headed into his dressing area to clean up and put on clothes for the day.
Alex headed back down the stairs. "Guys, Draco's mom is missing. The bank sent him a notice." Harry moaned. "Black letter. They don't know anything yet but he's checking. So make sure he doesn't crash during practice. You guys ready?" The curse breakers all nodded and ceded the table to the others. "Good, let's go finish the cleaning up."
"Hey, Alex, I wondered something," Don offered as they came out. "If we're caught, is someone going to yell?"
"Probably more about taking the treasure they think they've earned than not," he admitted. "The actual owners of that crap have been dead for centuries and even the local desert tribe who might be able to claim kinship agreed it was mostly dangerous stuff." Ron gave him a sideways look. "Yes, I talked to them."
"I knew you had but I didn't know what was said."
"They said much of that was worrying and they wanted certain things to stay, things that were native to the area that they guarded. I found those that night and put them in the blue house first."
"Oops, I think I moved that stuff," Ron admitted, going to check and send it back if he had. "Meet you there!" he called. "I did get that vase!" He disappeared with it and the small statue, landing inside the house. "Sorry, got this stuff by accident. Did I get anything else? I'll pop home and get it." They all stared at him so he put those down. "Accident. Really."
One of the younger men cleared his throat. "There was a ruby necklace." Ron nodded and concentrated, summoning it. It was held up. "That's the one. Thank you."
"Sorry about that. Alex told me to port anything unmarked on this side of the town home and I got this stuff too. It was stored in a cavern overnight but it wasn't damaged, hopefully. We're here to finish the cleaning and there's military people coming soon." They all nodded at that, getting up and heading out. Ron popped down to the remaining cavern. "We didn't mark a few of those things."
"Oops." He shrugged. "Are they back?" He nodded. "Okay, there's this, then there's the trap infested hell of the other room. Clean this one out first, using portkey spells." They did that and soon it was cleared out, all but one box. He went to look at it, noticing he had marked it as directly to the culturally sensitive bank vaults. He sent that one himself and then looked at the other room, biting his lip. "Okay, we're going to go this way. Dawn, you and Harry take the first layer, Ron you back them up because it's like a cork." They nodded. "That'll wear you two out and then Ron and Don will take the shield down while I cover and get the rest." He felt someone behind him and looked, nodding at the ghost standing there. "Hi."
"Who are you?"
"Alexander Dumass, Gringotts." He turned to fully look at him. "I was reraised on the Boca hellmouth." That got a smirk. "Not my fault or idea."
"I can see your taint. You may pass. Only those with a taint may pass."
"Yeah but it's the getting back out that I'm worried about."
"There is that. That is the source of the opening."
"I realize that. Thank you." The ghost faded out. "Tell the others I sent the culturally sensitive stuff to the bank so they can haunt them."
"That's mean," Dawn complained. "The goblins hate dealing with ghosts."
"Sometimes they've got to," he pointed out. "Okay, we ready?" Everyone moved into position and the first cork was popped, then the one behind it, then Don and Ron got the shield. Alex got the evil coming out contained and then compressed back into the opening. He got it closed but he was sweating by the time he was done. That allowed him to go in and turn off the traps, only getting stung by one of them and that was over his boot. He found a single necklace and picked it up, looking at it. "Oh, shit. Dawn, school, now." She disappeared and went running up until she was in the office and safe. He looked at the others. "Out! Home! Ron, no doing another turn around the caverns." That got a nod and they left together.
He concentrated, taking this to Egypt's bank. The goblins gave him a panicked look when the sirens screamed around the bank when the unholy nasty was felt inside the bank building. "I need it contained," he shouted. "The hellmouth there was open!" A few other curse breakers came running and Bill brought a containment box, letting him drop it inside carefully and arrange it as it should lay. Just in case it decided to fight being twisted. It was shut and the alarms stopped. He sighed. "I was on the Dregan hellmouth. That was in front of the slightly open hellmouth." Someone wrote that down.
"Dregan is cleaned out but there's a problem with the military that I've already reported to a wizard I know who works with them. They're working on it from the castle." He held his head since he was dizzy. Bill moved forward and he waved a hand. "I'm fine. Scorpion to the boot. Minor poisoning." He looked at them. "That was the only thing I saw in front of the hellmouth. There were some things left because the local desert tribe protects them. They're mostly marked, all but about three things as Ron found out. They're back in their possession. Do not touch them." They made another note. "I swore and vowed we would leave them alone." They all groaned. "They're the keepers of the enhanced statues and a shrine. I don't touch holy shit and in this case it's the tribe's purpose. I made that vow easily."
"As you should have," the goblin walking over agreed. "Are you all right, Breaker Dumass?"
"A bit dizzy. The Dregan hellmouth was still very strong in that room." That got a nod. "I'm heading home. It's cleaned as far as I could tell. We'll do another turn once the military's gone, just in case." That got more nods. "Tell Gruinth I'm off duty for a week. Draco's wraith-like at the moment." He held his head and concentrated really hard, using the camp moving spell to get himself home. That got him past the wards since only he and his trainees used it and the wards knew that. He collapsed in the middle of the library floor, looking at Harry. "Can you get me the scorpion anti-venom?" He took off his boot to look at the mark on his calf. "I need thicker boots." Harry went running off for that, bringing it back. "Thanks." He slugged it down and laid down right there, looking back at the hallway. "Why didn't he put that on the other side of the study?"
"This way all the books are together," Ron reminded him, leaning down to look at him. "You're severely magiced, Alex. Go clear yourself out before you set off the books." He helped him up and outside, watching as he drained all the magic out of his body, collapsing so he could recharge from the native magic. Alex gave them a goofy grin so it was all good by the time he was done.
Draco walked out with his broom over his shoulder. "Tell me you didn't just close a hellmouth," he said bitterly. Alex waved a hand. "Yes, hello to you too, idiot." Alex pouted so he kissed him, then walked off shaking his head. "Let my idiot sleep there, he'll be fine."
"Thanks, Draco," Ron called, looking down at him. "Me, can you bring him a blanket? He's got to recharge." Alex disappeared from that spot, and he felt the warning in the caverns go off but that was okay. It'd be like one of those pressure chambers Bill told him about that you went into when you surfaced too fast from diving. He went back into the library. "Don, they're running a practice," he said, taking the current project from him. Don got up and ran upstairs to get his broom and gloves, then out the window from in there. He shook his head. Don could be very good when Alex got finished with him. He sat down, going over what Don had been doing, smiling as he got the puzzle box unlocked. Harry stunned it and took it from him, heading to take it to the containment chamber they had set up.
Horatio smirked at Draco. "I thought we were going to play."
"We might. It depends on who's up later." He floated up next to him. "I'm sure Alex collapsing from being stung will bring others to fuss, which means we'll get a game going by this afternoon."
"We can't use the school's pitch, Philip said Ravenclaw and Gryffindor are playing," Danny offered, looking at Don as he flew over. "Did you get lost again?" he taunted. Don nodded, smirking at him. "What was it this time?"
"Metal puzzle box." He smiled at Horatio. "Where's Stella?"
"Bathroom. Speed and Tony?"
"Getting changed," Danny assured him. "Tony spilled his orange juice when Gibbs told Abby she had done excellent." That got some laughs from Horatio, and a head shake. "So they'll be right out too."
"Who gets to tell Speed he's too evil?" Draco asked. Everyone stared at him. "He is."
"He is, but it's a fun evil," Danny agreed with a grin. "Dawnie got plenty of backrubs after the last game."
Draco shook his head. "It is a *fun* game, not a real, pro game."
"Point," everyone agreed. They shrugged. He'd calm down within a few weeks. Probably. Tony and Speed flew out, Stella behind them.
Draco went down to get the balls and open them. "One bludger or two?" he called.
One was released, he released the snitch and then brought the quaffle back up. "There you go. Someone trace rings in the air." Don did that and they went to their spots, practicing to make Stella more evil as a chaser and on some strategy stuff. Draco smirked as he flew around, ducking the occasional bludger Danny sent at him. It was nice. He zipped after the snitch, finding it just over the boundaries of the valley but that was okay. No one lived on that side within seeing distance. He brought it back, holding it up. Horatio whistled and brought an end to practice. Don got one last hit of the bludger, sending it into the ground, then they landed to take care of the balls, going to clean up and see how Gibbs and Taylor had done this morning.
Abby bounced over, hugging everyone. "That is so much cooler than it is on the movies!" She beamed and ran inside to tell Harry that.
"Movies?" Draco asked, looking at the muggle-living members.
"They made the first book into a movie," Stella admitted.
"Shit, Potter's going to freak." He shifted himself in there, giving Abby a glare. "Potter, calm down."
"Why?" he asked cautiously, looking up.
"That quidditch stuff is so much cooler than the movies," Abby said happily, hugging him. "I bet you look so hot on your broom."
"Movies?" he asked weakly.
"It's playing right now." She stroked his head. "It's all right. The kid they got does look like you, kinda." He blinked at her. "I know," she sighed, hugging him. "It'll be okay and you can watch it with me. They skipped some of the stuff in the book." He shook his head. "I'm sorry I made you pout."
He stole a kiss and blushed. "That's recompense enough for it." She beamed. "Did you want to go out this afternoon or tomorrow?"
"Are you going to be busy?"
"It's not anything I won't get up and do when I can't sleep." She cooed and Draco walked out with Ron right behind him. He smiled at her. "Ice cream for lunch or dinner, Abby?"
"Lunch." He beamed and they headed up to change so he could take her to Diagon and show her around, then feed her ice cream before they went to look at the unicorns at the other house.
Upstairs, Draco called the other Banes to let them know the whole other team was up again this weekend, but that the school's pitch was taken. Philip laughed at that and said they could play later in the afternoon, when the sun would be more forgiving. "YES! We're playing this afternoon!" he called out the window. That got a round of very evil smirks.
Gibbs walked into work Monday morning with the tapes they had made of the mirror's contents. Abby had set it up to tape but not show the mirror itself. She had even edited it. He found someone standing in front of his desk. "Jen."
"Jethro. What's that?"
"Proof that some people over there are basically taking slaves and selling them." Her face tightened. "I've already passed on a copy as well." He handed her that copy. "Yours, Madam Director." He sat down and put his coffee cup in its usual spot. "Anything happen while we were gone?"
"Not yet." She glared at him. "One of our satellites caught something interesting." She put a picture down in front of him, Draco catching a snitch. "Would you like to explain that? No one else can."
"No." He looked at her. She put down another picture and he looked at it. Harry flying around, but it was very ghostly. He shrugged and looked at her again. "CGI, like in the movies?"
"Off a spy satellite?" she demanded. Tony walked in. "Agent DiNozzo," she said, stomping over in front of him. "How do you explain these?" she asked, holding up the pictures.
"I don't, ma'am. Nor should I." He shrugged. "Why would I know?"
"You were there. That is the young man who security said came up to see Abby Scuito the other day, which prompted all of you to investigate an incidence in Iraq, yet you didn't file any travel vouchers."
"Why would we, ma'am? We got it off video conferencing at an undisclosed location for security reasons." She looked stunned. "Not like we're going to announce that ten people in one unit are taking civilians hostage and using them as slaves." She backed up. "Therefore we went somewhere undisclosed, talked to them over video conferencing, taped some of what they sent us via live feed, and then handed it to the appropriate people last night."
"I see." She stared him in the eyes. "I can tell you're lying."
"No, I'm not." He shrugged. "Lying would be saying that your hair is spiky and lively today, ma'am. See, big difference."
He held up a finger. "We were told a hacker got into that satellite last night," he told her, staring into her eyes. "They ghosted images somehow over a few of the more harmless scans thanks to that movie that's out." She grimaced. "Is that not Draco Malfoy in that one?" She looked, then nodded. "And is the other not Harry Potter?"
"It's that young man who came up to hand over something you were sent."
"Well, yes, but actually his name is Potter. That's the kid from the film however." She stomped off. He called Speed to warn him and then Danny got involved. Mac told him it was covered, all they had to do was cove their own asses. He passed on the story he had used and it got mass agreement. He rolled his eyes and called Alex's cellphone. "Strengthen the shields," he said quietly. "There's satellite piccies of a Draco Malfoy looking person near your house. Along with one of someone who looks a lot like the guy who played Potter in the movie. Yeah, hackers ghosted them over the image. One of them looks very ghostly. Thanks." He hung up and called Greg. "Talk to Alex," he ordered, then hung up. "Not the first one. A few months back, Alex said they got another satellite that showed Greg going into something that looked like Diagon."
"Wonderful," Gibbs said quietly. "How are the hackers doing this?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe that new digital filter?" He shrugged and sat down, turning on his computer. "We'll have to see if we can fix it, boss."
"Thank you. Nice job." Tony smiled. "I meant at the game."
"I know. I looked hot while I was playing." He smirked at McGee as he came in. "Director's on the rag," he offered quietly. McGee groaned. "How would hackers ghost an image of Draco catching a snitch or Harry flying around over satellite scans?"
McGee looked at him. "What?" Tony summoned the pictures and handed them to him. "Holy shit." He nodded and looked at him. "I can help Alex figure out how to block it and he can spread it around." That got a nod. "Thank you, Tony."
"Not my doing. At least they didn't catch the game," he said tiredly. "We're wondering how the hackers might've ghosted the images from the movie over the satellite's images."
McGee smirked. "It's nearly impossible but if you can break into the feed and buffer it long enough it's hard but not impossible." He sat down, getting to work to find out which satellites had taken the photos.
"Call Greg about the last one. Someone did it before and made it look like he and his wife were disappearing into something they sculpted to look like Diagon."
"Sure. Gotta love the HP fans," McGee agreed. "Especially the technopagans who're using it like a joke." He shook his head and added that search string in as well. It ended up classified but his boss got the feed to him when he emailed that to him. It was a matter of personal security.
Alex looked at the goblins later that day, then put down three pictures that had been sent to him by Gibbs. "We've got anti-satellite wards on the castle," he noted. "The muggles in America are moving further ahead. We need to call a research council."
"That's a bit drastic...." He looked at the second one. "Inside the castle's wards?" Alex nodded. "Your's are stronger than Hogwarts'."
"Yup, and guess what, they think that's just a wreck. We don't have that shield over the house nor do I want to try to put it on again. I've got a muggle-born with extensive computer experience already thinking about how to block it and why it happened but we're going to have to intercede in Seattle's domain."
"I'll call the goblins out there, see if we can get an appointment."
"Good, because back before the purge they got pictures of Greg and everyone going into Diagon." The goblin swore in human as it walked off, showing its extreme emotional stress. Alex sat down and waited. The goblin came back a minute later. "We in?"
"We are, they agreed. They said there's a new digital filter that's been causing a great number of problems."
"I knew about the Minolta filter that could catch vampires." The goblin gave him an alarmed look. "You forget where I regrew."
"I had." He nodded. "All right. Take all this information to that branch, they've called in their overlord."
"Thank you. I'll take my technogeek with me. Give me thirty more than the port takes." He took the photos back and headed to get McGee. He looked up at the outside of the NCIS building and sighed, heading inside, giving them his most winning smile. "Hi, I need to see Agent McGee? On Gibbs' team?" he requested politely.
"About what, sir?"
"A friend said he's working on a satellite hacking issue and I think I know who he needs to talk to. I've set up a meeting for him to attend with me." She called up there and McGee came jogging down the steps a few minutes later. "Got a few hours?"
"Yup, and I've got it on DVD." He led him outside and away from the grounds, heading for his car. "We can move from inside there, right?"
"Yup. Not a problem. We're heading to technopagan land, Seattle." McGee gave him a look. "I learned long ago, you bring this to the bank, they get you meetings if it's important enough." He smirked at him. "It pays to be their lackey at times."
"How much are you getting for your last job?"
"Haven't figured out what I'm sending them yet. They're still cranky that I'm not clearing out the storage vaults. See, really old guys in my job are like dragons. We collect stuff." McGee laughed. "Especially if we're really strong." McGee opened his car doors and let them in, then he took his hand and made the pictures into a portkey, taking them to the bank's waiting area.
"That's neat," McGee admitted, sinking into the soft leather couch.
"I try. Most of the time. Draco hates it when I do that and he lands on his ass." The goblin walking over to them gave them an odd look. "Dumass and McGee to see the overlord? London's branch sent us."
"This way," he ordered. "You're a bit later than we had hoped."
"I had to stop and pick him up. I told them thirty minutes longer than the portkey would take." He walked into the office, nodding at the woman behind the desk. "Overlord."
"Dumass." She sat up at that. "The castle's wards were hit by satellite and seen through. The only reason they haven't gotten Hogwarts is they don't think anything's that way." He laid down the images. "Harry's was inside mine and I've got anti-satellite wards on the castle."
"It's not the first. We had a ping a few years back, before the purge started that caught some people going into Diagon. They've set up a warning since then, but it was still caught," McGee offered, handing over that DVD. "I'm Tim McGee, NCIS. I work with Tony DiNozzo, trained in Chicago, ma'am."
"Thank you, Timothy." She ran it on her laptop, frowning a bit. "Well, that doesn't make me happy. Penn knows?"
"Yeah, the X-Files Fed knows and showed him as far as I know," Alex assured her. "Greg was shown them first. He explained it off. Then again, they're not supposed to be snooping on Great Britain."
"No, we're not." Tim looked at him. "It's a mapping satellite. Part of the GPS system that's mapping the globe as close to inch-by-inch as possible."
"Which means they'll get the other schools since Hogwarts seems like a wreck. Are they using the new Minolta filter?"
"Abby told me about that. I couldn't find that information. It was custom designed in a lab at MIT, but that's all I had time to find out this morning." He looked at the overlord again. "Most of our team was there when that was taken."
"At least they're only getting air-bound ones so far. Draco was clearly just past the boundaries, but there's no muggles on that side."
"Damn it." She looked at him. "Minolta filter?"
"Minolta's come up with a filter that can film vampires."
He gave her a look. "Yes, the vampire show is real. I'm actually Xander Harris. That's were I grew up the second time." She pouted. "Don't. Please. I get enough of that from Dawn."
"Which?" Tim asked.
"Both really but Dawnie is the worst. Can you imagine giving field orders? Don, Ron, Dawnie, and Harry. Plus Draco." He chuckled at that.
"What is Mr. Potter doing about the film?"
"He sued the author, not much he can do but pout," Alex offered. He shrugged. "We've checked. We can't sue in muggle courts. He sued her in a wizarding one. She had already sold the rights and we can't sue the studio since they're muggle." She nodded, accepting that, going back to the images on the DVD. "We need a research council."
"I'll gladly help with it," Tim promised. "I'm a hacker myself." She smiled at that. "For the good of the job, ma'am, not generally. Oh, Alex, ran into your buddy the other day."
"Willow?" He nodded. "She's supposed to be in protective custody of the Legacy."
"They exist too?" she asked. They both nodded. "Since when?"
"Since they split off from the Watchers Council," he offered, shrugging a bit. "I don't know the exact date. I know current and former members however."
"Oh." She pouted a bit more. "We can call a research council starting tonight," she said, looking at him. "Can you attend to brief everyone?" Alex and Tim both nodded. "You're sure?"
"Unless I've got a new case coming in, yeah," Tim promised. "Then I can do it by cellphone as long as I can have a few quiet minutes in the truck. My boss knows since he was married to one of us back in the past."
"She didn't erase his memories?"
"She wanted the alimony and to make him miserable."
"Oh." She nodded. "Understood." She sighed and turned off the images, looking at them again. "All right, you're right, this is important. We'll have to convene a full research council meeting tonight. No one will be happy."
"I'm not happy," Alex assured her.
"We told my director it was hackers ghosting an image from the movie over a satellite feed," Tim told her.
"That's nearly impossible to do," she noted.
"She doesn't have a clue about that stuff." That got a faint smile. "My coworker, Tony, thought it up. It seemed plausible on the surface and you could loop one for a minute if you had everything already prepared to cut and paste."
"True." She nodded. "All right, I'll convene a research council tonight. Just these?"
"The Minolta filter," Alex offered. "It may be that they're using it, if not, we need to find out how to stop that one too. It can take pictures of the school." He looked at him. "Tell him about Abby's work."
"He found some stuff going on in Iraq that had to be stopped, ma'am, and sent some wizarding photos as proof since Gibbs knew. That way he would know where and who to watch. My team's lab tech, who is a nature path person, figured out how to turn them into MPEG films." She sat down again, staring in horror. He nodded. "It's like recording from a movie showing, like how they get the movies before they're out and spread them online."
"Holy Goddess," she moaned.
"She's dating Harry and Abby'd never use it against us," Alex noted. The goblin behind them coughed. "It was necessary, I uncovered a slave trade operation."
"I heard. It was necessary. Is she a practicing witch?" Tim nodded. "Nature path?"
"Just like Tara Maclay," Alex assured him. The goblin smirked and nodded. "She's a nice lady and she's dating Harry. The aunts are very pleased."
"Your aunts scare dragons, it's a good sign." He looked at her. "You may use our conference center if you need to."
"Thank you. I think we might. Either that or take over an arena." She stood up again. "Thank you, boys. We've been watching technology for a while now but we had no hint of some of this. We've got to get someone in Japan to watch them more closely."
"Japan has its own Ministry," Alex pointed out. "Or ask the Goblins to ask them. That's how I got the meeting with you."
"Not a bad idea," the goblin admitted. "I'll send a missive to our branches over there to intercede." She nodded, heading out. He looked at them. "That was dangerous, Curse breaker Dumass."
"Had to happen to stop them. They're not using the pictures as proof, but it was enough to get the right people into the right spots. We did a two-way mirror and they taped it off that."
"Tony told the director they taped it off a live feed from an undisclosed location," McGee offered. He leaned against the desk. "We're all intense on covering this up. I'm working at NCIS in DC. I haven't been keeping in practice until Tony found out I was one and made me." Alex nodded at that. "It's not what we had planned but the proof was needed for wizarding courts as well as muggle and military ones."
"Plus, they already knew something was up. There was a prior satellite capture of people going into Diagon a few years back. There's the purge that's still going on. We should've called one five years ago. I asked to have one called then when imaging systems started to pick up a radiation signature off the photos."
"We heard and we warned."
"Yes, and now they're moving ahead of our charms. Now it's necessary. We need to keep it ongoing, not just when there's an emergency. How many little sisters of witches have figured out how to tape their sister's photos from school onto their laptops?"
"Point. I concede the point. We should keep it ongoing. Thank you, Curse breaker Dumass. How was the Dregan hellmouth?"
"Open. I had to confine something in Cairo's branch because it was right in front of the open portal." He shivered at that. "Yeah, the sirens screaming around me were a clue." They shared a look. "Other than that, it was fairly profitable. I did leave the tribal guardians some things that they were guarding and doing an excellent job at hiding. I had them make that note in Cairo and I did vow."
"I understand. That is only correct." He let them out of the room. "He needs to go back to DC?" Tim nodded. "We can send you to that branch, which is near your office, Wizard McGee."
"Thank you. I have no idea where your bank branch is there. I've stayed mostly out of the life." That got a nod. "I'm not really comfortable with it. I'm much more a techno person."
"As many muggles are," he agreed. He sent him through the special floo to that bank branch, then it'd be a short walk back to work for him. He looked at Dumass. "That was still dangerous."
"Yay. Necessary danger is still necessary. Not like I could kidnap some generals without them realizing magic existed and make them not put up a fuss when I stuck them there to watch it. They were taking locals and using them as slaves." The goblin shivered. "We have an obligation to stop that. We always have. Humans are not a commodity. Plus, I only gave it to people who could reasonably know. A nature path witch, someone who was an ex-husband of one of us. People who already had a clue."
"Good point. Well done as well. Head home. You look tired."
"Scorpion got me," he admitted. "Way many traps around that hellmouth but I left them off in case we need to go back in and close it again." He disappeared, taking his camp moving spell back to the London bank, filling in the hole he had taken the last time. "Okay. One last thing," he told his boss. "Draco's mother?"
"Was portkeying to her house in the Hamptons, in the US. She disappeared and never landed."
"That can't be done."
"Voldemort did to Nick." He straightened up at that. "You can ask him."
"I shall. Thank you." He looked him over. "You look tired, go home."
"Yes, dear." He blew a kiss and headed home, going to take a nap in his study since it was quiet in there.
Danny walked into work, smiling at Sheldon. "You look content and happy," Sheldon teased.
"Great food, good times, and laughing at Alex being a nut all weekend," he agreed happily. "We were horribly spoiled by Alex's staff. It made them happy to overfeed us. Don said he had to roll home last night." Sheldon grinned at that. "How was your weekend?"
"Quiet. Except for the Chief, who came to see Mac this morning." He pointed at the office. "He was yelling a minute ago."
"Happy happy joy joy," he said dryly, heading that way after signing in. He leaned in the door. "Mac, I've got some pain killers in my locker if you need some."
"No thanks, I already took some." He looked at him. "Come in, shut the door." Danny raised an eyebrow but did that. "The guy who's in the top spot is retiring," he said quietly. "The Chief is in a blind panic that we're all going to go uncontrolled." Danny flinched and shook his head. "Exactly. The overlord is having us meet tonight. I'm not sure how bad it's going to be."
"It'll be pretty bad. He's former military but he's loyal. He's the sort they could call him up tonight and he'd be on the next plane asking who he got ta whack this time." Mac nodded at that, smirking just a bit. "He's already tried to push the purge as a good thing."
"Okay. Get ready to head into the field. I want you to work with Sheldon today on the next case that comes up. Be very careful."
"Sure, boss." He headed out, smirking and looking happy as he went to grab a case and get Sheldon his. "We're on for next case."
"Oooh, fun." He grinned at him. "What's up?"
"Retiring person up the chain is causing some cramps. We'll be fine, just a warning to watch our back tonight at the union meeting."
Sheldon nodded at that. "Have fun with that."
"Oooh, yeah. Great fun." He shook his head. "Not." He saw Don come over. "You got one for us?"
"Do I ever. I just got called and am heading out so I thought I'd stop and offer you two a ride," he said with a smirk.
"Which means we should get coveralls, huh?" Don nodded. "Crap."
"Yes, it will be. Up to your hips, boys. Sewer outflow pipe."
"I'll get the hip waders, you get the coveralls, and I'll stop in the morgue to get the masks with filters," Sheldon promised. "Flack?"
"Please. Thank you." He grinned sweetly as they headed off. Stella gave him an odd look as she walked by. "Sewer outflow pipe."
"Glad it's not me. Last time I had to cut my hair. Have fun with that, Flack."
"Yeah, sure I will," he said, shaking his head. "Not in this lifetime." Danny came back with his gear, Sheldon a minute later with his since they were kept together. "We ready?" Danny handed him a spare coverall and Sheldon the extra hip waders. "Thanks, guys. My dry cleaner will appreciate you greatly." He led them out to the car.
"Sorry!" Mac called. "Better you than me," he muttered. One of the nearby techs gave him an odd look. "Sewer pipe body."
"Better him than me," Mac joked.
She nodded. "Or Stella. She had to cut her hair the last time." She walked off shaking her head. Well, things were mostly back to normal. Mac had made Danny grin and he was cracking jokes. So the tension between the two was over with. That little bit got shared around with where the newest body was from. Once it got to the morgue, special precautions were taken, including extra air freshening tablets laid out.
Don looked up at the mansion they were supposed to go to. There was no gate. "How in the fuck," he muttered. He looked at Danny, who nodded and walked him over to a hidden one, letting them in. "You know we're really late, right?"
"So? At least we made it." He walked them up to the door. "Work sucks," he told the guard.
"Which department are you two with?"
"You're Taylor's boy." He let them in and showed them where to go. "A few more stragglers, boss."
"That's fine. What kept you two?" he asked across the crowded room.
"Bodies, what else?" Danny asked dryly. "You ever try ta haul one out from under an unlit bridge in the park at night?" That got a quick head shake. "We did." He looked at Mac. "Suicide, she got caught in her rope when she climbed down and ended up inside the beams thanks to the wind. Security camera nearby confirmed."
"Thank you. The one this morning?"
"Fuck if we know, Hammerback can't even clean the body off yet," Don complained. "It's still in decontam since it came up radiated."
"Let me know when you find something. Any ID found?"
"Yeah, glowing pink. Once it's cleared up, we'll go for it."
"Good." He clapped him on the back and pulled them both over since he was in a group with most of their quidditch team. "They were training with Alex this weekend," he said proudly. "Another fun game against Alex's other friends."
"Which we won because we're meaner," Don said happily. "Danny taught me that corkscrew move, coach."
"Good! Not that it's not too mean for the local league, but good."
Stella snorted. "We've been playing me, Tony, and Speed as chasers with Horatio our keeper." He moaned at that and Danny beamed and nodded. "He's really good. He's got a lot of focus and it all plants squarely on the quaffle."
"It's what makes him a good CSI," Mac agreed, looking at Danny. "You have that now and then when you're obsessed."
"It happens more often than you think," he taunted. "You don't spend a lot of time watching my ass work, Mac."
"Point. I don't tend to watch asses, Danny." He sipped his drink. "Anything from the others?"
"McGee's headed over now for the tech research council. Seems some satellite or another caught pictures of Harry flying inside the wards at Dumass castle. It also caught Draco just outside them. So they're going to go over that, the one that got a hit with people going into Diagon, and then the new Minolta filter. Oh, did Abby tell you? She figured out how to capture wizarding photos as digital video."
"Damn," the overlord said behind them. "Who's this Abby? One of us?"
"A nature path that works with a few of us in DC," Don offered. "She's a sweet girl. It was for a case. A curse breaker found a small slavery issue in Iraq and sent them back." He moaned. "The actual pictures weren't used, she downloaded and put them together into one seamless video, then they taped a two-way mirror showing for the proof that would be given over to the Pentagon."
"Mostly civilian workers," Don offered. "Two military guys in the same unit and support staff. From what Tony said, Gibbs called their commander. Who had them detained, where they got the hell beaten out of them by the rest'a their unit. Tony's one of us, Gibbs was married to one of us. The goblins agreed it was a necessary risk and only those who already had a clue realized it."
"Oh." He shook his head. "I still wouldn't allow that in my city."
Danny stared him down. "Really? Since when have you lorded over curse breakers?" He backed off at that. "The goblins said it was fine."
"Yes, Mr. Messer." He backed off and walked the other way. "We've got most of us here, we should get this meeting underway," he announced. Everyone faced him. "As you know, Deputy Chief Maxim is retiring." That got a few hoots. He glared at that section. "You probably deserved the attention." He faced the main group again. "As such, this means that there will be no wizard in the higher levels."
"Mags, isn't Donatella up in the CoD's office?" Don yelled.
"Yeah, she's his assistant, Don. We've got a witch as an assistant in the Chief of Detective's office in Manhattan." Their union rep smiled at that. "We can route anything paperwork through her most likely."
"You can," Donatella offered, waving from her spot on a windowsill. "His niece is a working nature path witch so he's got a clue. If we need to, I can give him more of one." She looked at the overlord. "Then again, we've got four or five supervisors. What we really need is someone in IAB. Internal Affairs gives us most of the issues we've got, except for time off for training stuff." She looked at Flack. "You good?"
"Better. I don't leak half as often." She smiled at that. "Alex was very helpful." He looked at their overlord. "I second her suggestion. We need someone in Infernal Idiots." That got some snickers. "They came down on us because we had ta hide a wizarding photo once."
Mac nodded at that. "That was about a year ago, but we've had a few of those." He sipped his drink. "So we need to get together to spread some out. We've got the major areas covered in all the boroughs, but almost none in the unit near the school or the shopping area."
"Only two guys in the park near the wizarding area," Danny offered. Everyone stared at him and he waved. "Yes, they left me." That got some shudders. "Thank you, now we know why. Kinda proved I'm not like the old man, huh?"
"Danny, calm down," Mac ordered, clapping him on the back. "You're good with me." Danny smirked at him. He looked around again. "We should do that. Also, is anyone in Long Island?" No one said anything. "Anyone?" Nothing. "Then we should get someone out there since we've got a major coven who has been known to call things up by accident."
"Don't remind me," Danny moaned, holding his head. "By the way, is the guy who hyped the Fyarl demon still in jail?" Mac nodded. "We sure?" He nodded. "'Cause I got sent a warning he was buying stuff today."
"I'll check on it in the morning," Mac promised. He looked around. "I know we're clumping around our safe areas, but we've got to have some spreading in some areas."
"Especially around the shopping area and the school," Danny agreed. "How many of us got brought home by cops in the old days?" He raised his hand and a few others did too.
Don laughed. "Horatio told us half his year went to the strip club and got brought back," he told them. More hands went up, including a few female hands. "We don't have anyone near there. How are we handling that?"
"The school calls whoever's got union rep at the time," their current union rep admitted. "You're right, I would like someone to transfer there. I know it's a patrol only unit but it's fairly quiet most of the time."
"It's either this or the next time something happens in our Garden Street area, the curse breakers are going to have to solve it again, which means more people needing a healer," Don agreed. "I had ta help the last time." That got a few moans.
"I'd be more than willing to transfer but my boss won't let me," one female offered. "I'm about to obliviate him anyway since he keeps hitting on me."
"Bring the paperwork to me, I'll get it through," Donatella assured her. "Put on there why so we know." She shook her head. "Just put down that you're moving because you feel uncomfortable in the precinct. That's the standard reason when you don't want to make a complaint. He'll accept it." She smiled at that. "Anyone else, that's what he wants to see if it's a problem that you're not reporting." That got a mass nod. "That still leaves an understaffed precinct. Some of those weekends are going to be tough and I know we've all obliviated some of those officers all ta hell and back." Danny nodded at that. "You did?"
"Yeah, one of them wandered in while tracking some kids while we were shopping. I stunned him, checked his ID, saw where he was from, and sent him home without more than the thought he had forgotten to pick up some new milk." She smiled at that. "Least I could do since I was there and the others were giving him horrified looks for coming in."
"We could use a gatekeeper like they have in Diagon," an older detective pointed out.
"No room for it," Danny reminded him. "I'd love a gatekeeper. Even just a bookstore, a fast food place, anything."
"There's not enough room between the gates and the second garden exit," Mac agreed. "We need the garden space though, and if it's made private we'll have problems getting in unless we all move onto that block and make it private for residents."
"The whole block is marked clear for muggles," Don told him. That got a moan. "So yeah, we've got that problem, or can we move the entrance? Create a new one someplace that one of us own?"
"I have no idea how you'd do that," the overlord admitted, smiling at him. "Can anyone find a good research library?" Mac's whole team nodded. "Where?"
"I'm training with Dumass," Don told him. "Since the school missed me and all." That got some gapes.
"Me too," Stella agreed. "He took that complaint to the bank and the Vinese I believe." Danny nodded. "They intentionally missed a lot of folks." Some people moaned. "So we're training with Dumass and his buddies, he's got a huge library; I'll see if we can find it in there or in the goblin library, Don?" He nodded, he could do that. "It might take a few weeks."
"I would appreciate that," the overlord admitted.
"Also, a tech research committee meeting was called tonight," Don offered. "There's a satellite that got pictures past Dumass Castle's wards." That got louder moans. "If any of you guys are techno geeks, that's the place to head to right now." That got some nods.
"I've got a friend who works at MIT, I'll see if they're willing to help," one female in the corner offered. "Who was caught?"
"Potter, flying around. Draco just outside the boundaries as well," Don told her.
"Plus there was one of people going into Diagon a few years back," Danny offered. "Not to mention the Minolta filter issue." They all stared at him. "Dumass, in his regrowth life as Xander Harris, found out the hard way that they could film vampires on that hellmouth with a certain brand of Minolta digital camera because it's got a special filter." Some people slumped and some money changed hands. "We have it on good authority Angel is real and is a whiny ponce, just like Spike claims."
"Aiden says he's a pain in the ass ta work with too," Don agreed.
"Angel?" someone asked.
"No, Spike." That got some laughs. "She's teaching in Chicago. He came with Sirius and Remus." He shrugged. "He's constantly hitting on her."
"He's got good taste," someone called. Then they laughed with a few of their buddies.
"I'll tell her you said so," Stella promised, staring him down. He shrank back into the wall. "Also, someone who's a nature path figured out how to put wizarding photos onto the computer as digital film."
"Yeah, my sister figured that out last year but I made her stop," one woman admitted. "Where does she work?"
"NCIS. DC," Danny offered. "With Tony." She smirked back. "McGee works there and he's briefing the tech council tonight. So, we've got to get stuff moving. Any one else willing to shift?" No one said anything. "Okay, then how're we gonna deal with the next huge demon in the park? Or mysterious appearances of creatures?" No one said anything. "We might as well figure it out now, people. We're on the front lines of that shit, even if the larger community likes ta ignore us."
"He's right. Most of us were caught without our wands when the demon blew up in the park," the union rep admitted. "Where was yours?"
"Home, safely stored in my sock drawer. I'm kinda glad Alex was over here for some reason. The local school was throwing 'finites' and stunners at it." Some people slumped. "We've got to assign people to handle those things. I carry mine all the time now."
"Ditto," Don agreed.
"Mine's in my desk," Mac offered.
"Mine might stay in my locker once I'm finished catching up," Stella admitted. "I can't carry it without it showing."
"Inside of your jacket, Stell," Danny ordered. "Quick draw holster like Greg's got. Then we'll deal with the skimpy clothes months after that." She nodded, accepting that.
"I'm out in Harlem and nothing happens but I've usually got mine with me," one guy offered, shrugging a bit. "You can call and see if I can help."
"We have a city defense council," the overlord noted. "That really needs to go in front of them, Mr. Messer."
"Yeah, well, that's nice, but half of them are in Miami at the moment." He gave him a look. "Besides, then they'd dump it on us. I want us to be prepared beyond and above that. It's what we do anyway and we'd be called there first."
"Have we worked out who we're calling in other boroughs for crime scenes that have one of us dead or participating?" Don asked Mac. Who shook his head. "Then what happens?"
"I get called, hopefully, by a local officer and then I handle it," the union rep admitted. "Mac, I could use some help with that. You obliviate better." He nodded, accepting that. "Thank you. Usually we stick to our own."
"Yeah, but that multiple a few weeks back ended up being a duel that went wrong. She was defending her boyfriend from the man-stealing idiot." That got a mass groan. "The others were collateral. Thank God Sheldon got it instead of someone like Lindsey."
"I would've reassigned it as soon as I saw the wand," Mac promised.
"Hawkes knows?" Donatella asked. Everyone in their group nodded. "How?"
"His sister, like I did before I got tapped," Don told her. "Can we recruit them?" he asked the union rep. "There's gotta be more of them than us. At least give them a number to call if something like this happens?"
"I'm thinking about that. I do carry a pager that can do text messages. I can pass that onto whoever gets the job after the next vote." That got a mass nod. "I'm trying, guys."
"You're doin' good," Danny assured him. "This is just stuff that should've been brought up before but we're playing catch up. We thought we had the time." Everyone nodded at that. "Can we agree? Those of us who have siblings that can know, we give them his pager if they run across something that could be magical in nature? Or have them call us so we can check?" That got mostly nods.
"That'll ease it some. I know at least one other guy near the shopping area had a sister who went. He was telling some girl he pulled over for being an annoying bitch and shrieking at the top of her lungs about her new cauldron that he had one when I walked past 'em," Don admitted.
"That would at least double the watching force," their union rep agreed happily. "Thank you, guys. I like you guys. You guys handle stuff in-house and you make my life easier."
"The defense council needs your pager number as well," the overlord ordered. He handed over a business card, then put a stack down in front of every one. "Thank you. Why wasn't this brought to us before?"
"We thought you guys had it," Danny noted. "Plus, I know someone did," he said, staring him down. "For some reason, they seem to have left the city." He sipped his drink. The man shivered. "Anyone got any new information on the purge?"
"It's not a purge!" their overlord shouted. "They're not being put to death! They're being put to work! They need us in the ranks!"
"I did my time," Mac noted calmly. "The military lifestyle is not for everyone. You can't put a group of free-thinking, artistic people into the military and expect them to do more than die emotionally and creatively. Too many of us are like that. Yes, the military could use more of us, but there's already people who were working on that before it became a critical desire to own all of us and they started attacking schools."
"That's a lie," he hissed.
"No it's not. I know the kid who had to be rescued from the one in Chicago," Don told him. "The same as Alex and his buddies had ta get her out of there and she's in Canada now. Hell, they didn't even have wands from the report I saw."
"They didn't," Mac agreed. "I called a few of my former classmates who've went back to teach. They were basically a military school and your senior year you got a wand, when they taught you all the spells you'd need to know in the military." He stared the guy down, making him back off. "Unfortunately some of the same people have seen some of the same signs starting here. They're not forced, but they're heavily encouraged."
"Which sucks," Danny noted. "Makes kids feel guilty for wanting a life of their own." He looked at the others. "Do we have anyone overlooking the school?"
"They've got a board," Donatella noted. "I've talked with them a few times over my daughter being pressured. They said it's federal law."
"Only if they get federal funds," Don assured her. "That's the way that law was written." She smiled at him. "You can quote me and the papers."
"Oh, I have. They've scared them into agreeing." She shrugged a bit. "I don't know what to do about that. We don't even have an equivalency."
"No but we do know what should be taught. What do we do when we find late teens who're magical but suppressed?"
"We tutor them to the point where they're skilled enough to survive in the wizarding world and talk to them about their options," another man offered. "Why?"
"We've been missing tons of people," Danny told him. "We found a fifteen-year-old in Miami a few weeks back. The academy's rolls were light by about ten percent." That got him some horrified looks. "They intentionally missed anyone from a lower class neighborhood. Even the blooded ones in some cases."
"How do you know?" the overlord sneered.
"Easy, Gringotts investigated on the urging of a few curse breakers. Including the one that got missed," he said, pointing at Don. "We're all damn lucky Flack here didn't blow us up at times." Don nodded at that. "So sorry, but they missed a lot of people."
"They couldn't afford to go," he sneered.
"So!" Danny shouted, moving forward. "It doesn't matter if they can *afford* it or not. That's why those of us with the higher money and family status contribute more tuition."
"They still can't afford to send half of those children for free!" he snapped.
"Ya know what?" Don offered calmly. "If you don't, then there's a higher incidence of cancer and suicide. I doubt any of us wanted our families vulnerable and I doubt your buddies in the military would consider that a good loss of manpower." He backed up. "Isn't he voted in?"
"He is," Donatella agreed. "That'll change." That got some agreement murmurs. "Anything else?" No one said anything. "Messer, you done being the highest ranking pureblood in the room?"
"No, not yet." He pulled his wand. "I challenge you to a duel." The man shrank away from him. "You don't even carry your wand, do you?" he sneered. "You're so far out of practice it's not funny." He stepped closer. "You can't defend yourself and there's no way you should be counted as one of us. You're a weak and pathetic puppet to your masters and I'll be *damned* if you're getting those kids."
"Danny, back down," Mac ordered. Danny shot him a glare. "They won't get the local school. Their little project is already failing . They can't train them to follow orders. I've asked around about it. They'll end up failing except for the ten percent of us who want a military life. Just as it was." He moved closer. "They won't end up hurting the kids."
"What about the ones they've already got?" Danny asked. "Are they going to be let go? Or is someone like Greg gonna find another dump?"
"It won't happen. They'll let them go." He moved closer. "Let him go."
"He's hurting kids."
"Yes, but he'll get his," he said calmly. "Remember that. There's always a higher power." Danny nodded and backed down. He looked at the overlord. "I'd run." He stomped off. "We done?" They all nodded and got one last drink, taking them with them. He looked at Danny. "No one's going to kill those kids."
"Some day that could be my kids, Mac. It's already Horatio's nephew. It could've been any of them."
"You're right. Now it'll be stopped. We've already moved to stop it. Just give us more time to work on it. We're doing it, but it's slow." Danny nodded. "Now, need a ride home?"
"Please, I came with Don."
"Sure." He walked out with him, taking him out to his car. He found Don and Stella out there. "Are we gathering?"
"Please, I could use a beer after being leered at," Stella agreed. She looked at them. "Does Danny have the nicer house?" Everyone nodded. "Why is that?"
"I don't have the need or energy to do mine," Mac offered.
"I only gave myself another three rooms," Don told him. "I didn't need more."
"I thought about giving myself a palace but then I'd have to clean it," Stella told him.
"I thought about getting a house elf," Danny told her. "If you do and I do, you can borrow 'em."
"How does one get a house elf? Are they hatched?" Don asked.
"Three ways: adoption agency, homeless shelter, or direct placement like inheritance or them showing up on your doorstep asking if you need 'em."
"There's a house elf shelter?" Stella asked. Danny nodded, leaning against the side of the car.
"They have ta have somewhere to put the ones that get clothes," Don pointed out. "They can't all live under bridges."
"True, and it's the most pitiful place. They give you these big eyes," Danny said, shivering. "They all give you this pitiful look and you feel so pathetic for not taking them all home with you."
"I'll remember that and bring backup," Don said, shaking his head.
"Greg had to bring Hodges," Danny told him. "He went for one, came home with two and one for Penn."
"Okay, I'll bring a lot of backup if I go to the shelter." He looked at them. "Danny's?" They all nodded. "Meet you back there." He got in and Stella got in with him, earning a grin. "Much prettier than the guy I brought with me."
"Of course I am, but Danny's hair was so tousled and cute this morning. Have fun messing it up?" He blushed as he started the car. "We don't mind, Don. It's all good. You're making Danny a happy guy."
"Yeah, but he still won't let me do a lot of stuff."
"Speed and Tony both said he's got a lot of trust issues," she pointed out gently. He nodded, pulling out to take them to Danny's house since Mac had already left. "I'm not sure Danny could ever let anyone behind him."
"Me either, but I'd still like some reciprocation, ya know?"
"Very well," she agreed.
"He's very firm about being on top and in control. But I'm pretty good about taking some control now and then. He's not letting me yet."
"It'll come," he advised.
"I know, but I'm not the patient sort." He grinned when they paused at a red light. "I know, big shock."
"Not really. Some women do like to lay there and take it. You two serious?" She shook her head. He moved on, turning the corner.
"You're heading to the old place."
He groaned and turned around, going back in the right direction.
By the time they were done that night, everyone was severely drunk. The Suddenly Sober charm had been taught to them but no one wanted to apparate home with a hangover. So they all piled into Danny's bed, making him pout. He had to climb over Stella to get an outer edge but she didn't seem to care too much. When they woke up however, Don found out that Danny had shifted during the night. Now he was between him and Stella, allowing Don to hold him while Danny slept on her chest. Mac was holding her from behind. Don looked over, finding Mac awake. He gave him a tired looking smile and snuggled in tighter against Danny's back.
"We don't mind," he offered quietly. "You make him happy."
"Thanks, Mac. Means a lot to me." He stroked Danny's stomach when his breathing changed, allowing him to drift back off. "You and her?" He shook his head. "Ya think that might be a mistake?"
"No. We have to work together. I can't mess that up." Stella shifted and he squeezed her, making her go back to sleep as well. "Besides, she's got Horatio."
"That's a stress relief thing." He looked down at Danny. "It's just us. I've got you. You're safe." Danny opened his eyes to glare at him. He nodded at the pillow, making Danny shift back with a moan. "You're okay," he offered quietly, letting him go when Danny wiggled. Danny got up and headed to the bathroom, going to start his day. "Sorry."
"Not a problem." He closed the bathroom door quietly, not wanting to wake Stella.
Don stayed where he was. "You two are all-but married at work anyway, Mac." Stella let out a small moan and pushed her hair back. "Hey, did Danny wake you when he fled?"
"No, him swearing at himself did," she admitted sleepily. "Go stop him, Don. He's mad at himself." He nodded and slid out to do that. She looked back at Mac. "You cuddle very well." He gave her a squeeze and let go. "Horatio and I are stress relief, Mac, nothing further. He said he'd gladly hand me over to you the other day."
She smacked him upside the head like Gibbs had shown her. "Shut up, Mac. She'd kick your ass for pouting this way. You know she would." She closed her eyes and put the arm back over her, going back to sleep now that the noisy people were out of her head. "I need better shields," she complained before succumbing.
Mac smiled and sniffed her hair, thinking about what she had said. His wife, Claire, had been his life before she died. Now he was putting things back together again. He had begun to date casually but didn't allow anything to get serious. He saw Danny come out of the bathroom. "You okay?"
"I'm fine. Want food?" Mac shrugged and tried to move but Stella sank her nails into his arm. "Never mind. When you're ready, there'll be coffee." He went to do that, finding what he wanted for breakfast. Don joined him a few minutes later. "I'm good."
"No, you're fantastic, but I'm hunting the darker god of lust at the moment." Danny snickered at that. "I am. You make it strong?"
"No, I made it my usual."
"Damn." He poured a cup anyway and added some milk, then drank slowly. Then he went back for seconds. "You're eating hot pockets for breakfast?"
"It's food, it works."
Don groaned and kissed him on the cheek. "You're strange at times." He got into the freezer to get his own food, putting it in the microwave once Danny's were done. "They're cute together."
"They are," he agreed. "It'd be good for Mac."
"It would be." He looked at him. "We should probably talk about the serious stuff too ya know."
"I know. I'm avoiding it."
"I figured as much. That's why you were swearing at Speed this morning after he asked if she was comfy." He took another drink, looking at him. "If you're good, I'm good," he told him. Danny shrugged at that, eating another bite. "Even if you wanted to be more or less causal I'm good."
"I'm good with where we are," he assured him, eating another bite and looking at him. Flack stared at him for a minute then nodded. "We done with the touchy-feely talk?" Don nodded. "Good." He poured some coffee into a clean cup and went to deliver it to his bed, where Stella was snoring pretty loudly, but her nails had drawn blood on Mac's arm. Mac was allowed to shift because she laid on his stomach instead, allowing him to have almost every cop's morning habit. "Who's on today?"
"You, me, Sheldon, new kid." He sipped. "Stella and Don are off."
"Cool. Let me get some clothes." He went to find something in the closet.
"Wear the blue ones," Mac said quietly. Danny gave him an odd look. "You seem happier when you're in them."
"It's a Thursday. We won't be that busy today."
"Point." He pulled that out and a black shirt, then went to change in the bathroom once he had underwear and socks. He came out adjusting his collar, then strapped his wand onto his back waistband, then his gun and badge. "See you there."
"Sure. Be careful on the subway." Danny nodded and headed out, gathering his jacket and shoes, plus his keys, by the doorway. Then he headed out with a smirk at Don.
"You had ta make him wear that outfit?" Don complained, coming in with the coffee pot to refill Mac's cup. "Everyone'll stare at his ass all day, Mac."
"You get used to it," Stella complained. "It's my day off. Quit." She thumped her head down and shifted her hair out of the way, going back to sleep.
Mac and Don shared a smile. You had to obey Stella when she was in a mood, or else she'd make your life miserable later on that same day. It was a rule they all lived by. Mac let Don trade places with him since he had today off and Mac didn't, going home to change and head into work an hour late. He could make it up later. He usually stayed late doing paperwork on Thursdays anyway. He got there and found Danny already out on a scene with Sheldon, and the new kid bouncing up and down waiting on him. "Eager?" he asked. The kid nodded. "Calm down. You can't bounce on a scene, Scotty." He went to get his kit, just in case it was a call soon. It only took them a half an hour and then the new boy was bouncing up the hallway with the paper and they were off as well.
Don went home, finding a package waiting on him. "What are you?" he asked, picking it up. It was warm. He frowned and pulled out his pocket knife to slit it open at the side, in the cooler spot. It got upended onto the table, and out rolled an egg. "Okay." He searched, finding a note. "Please protect little Beufort for me, I can't do it myself. Don't worry, he'll be harmless and cuddly as long as you're good to him and he'll protect your things like they're his." He looked at the large egg, realizing what it was by the size alone. The defense textbook had pictures of dragons eggs. He went to get it and brought it back, reading over that section. "Okay, I can do that."
He thumped it like it said, hearing and feeling something shift. "You'll be out soon and the heating charm should be enough to keep you warm." He closed it and went to get what Hagrid had done in the books when he had hatched Norbert. He thought about calling someone but who would believe someone sent *him* a dragon's egg? He found a small box for the egg and put it next to the radiator, turning it on to keep the air around it warm too. "I'll be right back, little Beufort. I need to get you some brandy and meat." He grabbed his wallet and headed for the nearest grocery store, hoping they had both. He considered the bottles of brandy, going for the good stuff. He wasn't sure it mattered but he didn't want to feed his pet the nasty, mildew tasting stuff. The meat was a harder decision. "Cow, pig, or chicken?" The butcher looked at him, giving him a curious look. "I'm feeding a new pet, I was advised to give it raw meat for the first few days. Any ideas?"
"Cow's a pretty safe choice." He pointed at a cut. "I can cube that up for you if you want."
"Small cubes please," he agreed, handing over the package he liked. He thought about Keelian and how much he ate, then added another three. "Just to be safe." If not, he was sure he could turn it into a stew or something. He checked out and headed home, going to check on his new friend. It was still warm and toasty so he had time to marinate the meat in the brandy. He thought about calling Alex to get a dragon guide but he wasn't sure he'd get in trouble with it. After all, the US didn't have a Ministry to say you couldn't keep dragons and Greg said that one of the potions guys out in Vegas had one for ingredients....
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