Hard At Work
Don answered his phone. "Flack." He listened, then he groaned. "No, I'm at my other job," he said dryly. "Why?"
"What are you doing?" his boss yelled.
He looked at her. "Seeing if this is a problem for now or later," he noted dryly, going back to listening to the goblin. "Uh-huh, and why is this *my* problem?" He smirked. "Well... Think about who's training me," he said dryly. "Do we think I *want* to help you guys? Of course not." Someone tried to take his phone and he shoved her away. "If it's that bad, you'll send it to me tonight, at home, and I'll see if we can help. Anything else? Good." He hung up and glared at his boss. "See, thirty seconds and it's an after work thing." He stood up and gathered his things together. It was a game night and he could leave early. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go bug Danny for a bit about a case."
"You're not leaving early tonight," she said.
He moved closer. "I know who you're dating," he whispered. "I also know that Danny and I can snap his head off his neck with a bludger for not supporting the PD team. So yes, I'm going to go play with my broom and you're going to quit trying to tank the team before I have to tell Stella." She shuddered at that. He smiled sweetly. "Agreed?"
"You know he won't be hurt?"
He snorted. "Have you seen us play?" he countered, walking off. "Going off to bug the smart people."
"I still need paperwork from you," she yelled after him.
"Of course you do but I was wrapping up older cases today. Check your inbox, boss." She huffed and stomped off. He ran into Stella and smiled. "I told her I know." He patted down a bit of hair sticking up. "Run into some current?"
"Something like that." She grimaced. "Lindsey is doing an experiment to see how he got electrocuted with a low voltage current."
"The guy who died from his fan?" She nodded. "Huh. Water? Just a guess." He walked past her. "Going to bug Danny."
"No, don't. He's glasses-deep in his case. He's on his top lead."
"Fine," he pouted. "I needed him to wrap up something on my case." She looked at it then groaned and nodded, walking him off to find those reports for him. She found all but one and had to go bother Danny anyway. Don leaned in. "Danny? I need one report for this case to be handed on and you're the only one....."
"Right corner of my desk. Blue folder."
"Thanks." He went to do that, closing him in the lab again. He sent warm fuzzy feelings toward him, getting a mental slap on the head for it. He left him alone and found the report, and two others related to his case. He frowned as he read them. "No," he moaned. Danny hit him on the head again. He asked him about them. It ruled out his suspect who had just confessed.
Danny walked out and took those from him and turned to the page, pointing at the case number and type of case listing. "Robberies. The other ones he was liked for," he said slowly and clearly. He put them down and went back to his lab. "OUT!" he snapped. Lindsey got away from his microscope and scurried off. "Thank you!" He slammed the door and got back to work.
Don finished up the report and tossed it at his boss, making her scowl. "That's what you get for dating someone who doesn't like your guys," he said dryly. "I'm off for the game. Have fun. You wanna come watch?"
"No," she said, glaring at his back. "I could make you work tonight."
"No you can't. I've put in my twelve for the day." He grabbed his jacket and headed out, going home. He called his sister on the way. "You coming out today? Danny's deep in a case. I don't know," he admitted. "Where is our backup? I haven't seen her in weeks." He nodded. "If that's good. No, I'm scared to interrupt him. No, real deep. He growled at me deep." He grinned. "Going to change now. Sure." He hung up and parked in front of his place, getting out to go up and change clothes. His landlord gave him a dirty look. "What?" he demanded.
"It's been how long since you've been here?"
"Probably about three weeks. Sorry, I'm dating heavily. Anything go wrong?"
"Small leak from your tub."
"I left it on?"
"No, we had a pipe break," he admitted dryly. "Speaking of breaking...." He held out a hand. "Rent?"
"I pay it automatically. Didn't you get it?" He shook his head. "Let me talk to my bank and we'll see why."
Stella walked in and leaned on his shoulder. "The bank is mad at you for learning from Alex. They canceled all of our automatic withdrawals and payments."
"Oh, good. Let me find my checkbook. You'll have it by tomorrow."
"I'd better." He went back into his apartment and slammed the door.
Don headed upstairs, going to find his uniform and brooms. Stella followed and he grinned. "Share a shower?"
"We don't have time and Danny's too deep. He's at the stage where he's muttering at the microscope and he's about to explode into action."
"I called my sister, she's off tonight. What happened to our other backup?"
"Not a clue." She pulled her uniform out and put it on the bed, then stripped and headed for the bathroom. "I need new deodorant." He followed and she squealed, slapping him when he kissed the back of her neck. "No time for that either, Don."
"Pity. After the game?"
"You work me up before the game and the coach will scream, again." He grinned and she glared. "At me!"
"No he won't. I'll tell him it's my fault." He kissed her and then went to slick his hair back then grabbed his uniform to put on. She came out with her hair braided and tied back, putting on her uniform. She sat down to tie up her shoes, he propped a foot to pull up his shin guards. Don looked at their brooms. "We should steal Danny's."
"Only if you want paddled. Call your sister."
Don called her. "It's me again. We may need you. No, I can't even hear him he's so far down. Game's in about a half hour? Sure, she can sit in the stands. She's old enough. She can sit with the team's kids." He grinned. "Thanks." He hung up and grabbed their brooms, tossing her hers. They walked out, her taking the keys to lock the door and drive while he stretched his arms and relaxed. When they got there, he walked in first. "Called my sister in case we need her, coach."
"Thanks. Where's Messer?"
"Deep on a case," he admitted. He grinned at him. "Hi."
"Hi, Flack. Did you yell at your boss?"
"Told her if she didn't quit trying to mess with me because she's dating someone on the team we're playing today, we'd knock his head off with a bludger," he said honestly. Danny's mind exploded in swears and he sent calming thoughts. He felt Mac going to check on him. Danny finally spit out one last phrase and then stormed out of the station with Sheldon after him. He told him his sister was playing in his place and Danny grunted, mind on the case. "Danny's not in a good mood. His temper just exploded on this one."
"Wonderful. Okay. You two warmed up?"
"Could use some stretching time," Stella offered, handing over the brooms so he could check them. She and Don helped each other stretch while the others warmed up. His sister walked in with his niece, earning a smile from them. "Hi, pumpkin."
"Hey, Miranda," Don said, giving her a hug. "What's up?"
"My father deserves to die," she said dryly. "I'm going to tell Grandpa on him."
"Call Grandpa and we'll have dinner after the game." He looked at his sister. "We use this to wear out stress too. What did he do?"
"Don't ask." She looked at the coach. "Where is the other backup?"
"She moved to Texas somewhere. I told the others."
"I've been busy helping Alex," Don admitted. "Oh, and he pissed off Gringotts to the max this time," he shared. "He knows too much. They tried to lock him away and he got free."
"Wonderful," the coach said flatly. "Are you in trouble?"
"Nope. They're trying to put pressure on us to make him give up," Stella offered. "Personally, I'm starting to like the thought of going to Scotland Yard now and then. You, Don?"
"I'm leaning more toward going down to Miami, be with the guys," he admitted. "The 'rents could come, Miranda could come. My ungodly heathen sister could come." Stephi hit him on the arm then went to change. He looked at his niece. "He did what?"
"Told me I'm not allowed to have friends, he tried to kill the owl bringing my letter, and called his religious buddies to come remove me from the house so that they could hide me from the tainting things."
"Ah. Well, fat chance you're going. What happened?" he asked at her wicked, evil laugh. "You know, your Ma did the same thing once."
"They came to the house, and about ten minutes later, the fire department had to show up. I kinda, um, set one's pants on fire and his lighter exploded. He's probably still in surgery. The police officers who responded called Grandpa. Grandpa told them what was going on, so I'm not in trouble. They thought it was his lighter that leaked due to me fighting to get free."
He hugged her hard. "You are to stay in the stands with the other family members. Got me here?" She nodded. "We'll work out how to keep you safe tonight."
"They're in jail."
"We're hoping they're the only ones," Stella told her.
She nodded. "I hadn't wanted to think about that."
"Me either," her mother offered as she came out. "She's going to stay with Dad and Mom, Don."
"They're older, Stephi."
"And I'm warding that place with things that would make Momma scream and call a priest," she said simply. Don smiled and nodded. "Can I borrow Tony?"
"He's working but I don't think he's got a case. We can call after the game." She nodded. "Coach, take my niece, put her with the other family members."
"Of course. This way, kid." He walked her that way, putting her down beside Horatio since he was there. "Poaching?"
"We don't have enough young players in Miami for real games," he said grimly. He looked at Miranda. "You're Stephi's daughter, right?" She nodded. "I'm Horatio. I'm Speed's boss."
"Wow." She shook his hand. "My name's Miranda. My father's an asshole."
"I know that feeling," he admitted. She giggled and punched him on the arm. He looked up as the teams took the field. She gaped in awe. "Just watch. When you're in school, you can play." She nodded, watching her mother and uncle be *mean* and *like* it. "I play keeper," he offered, pointing at his usual position.
She smiled at him. "I want to play like Uncle Don. He's pretty cool." She went back to watching, cheering her family on. Danny flopped down beside her and pulled her back into her seat, making her glare. "Get off!"
"Sit down. You're blocking the people behind you, Mini Flack." She sat and went back to watching. "He can teach you how to fly. I helped teach him," he promised. She beamed and nodded. "Your ma's not bad for being out for so long. You'll be better." She giggled and hugged him. He caught Don's eyes and nodded, getting a smirk and the bludger being hit at his boss's boyfriend. He laughed. "His boss is dating him."
"Pity for her," Horatio agreed, smiling at him. "You get him?"
"Saw us, ran into traffic, nearly got hit by a bus, but he's in custody and singing. Didn't even make me break bad. Too bad. I wanted to make him cry."
Horatio patted him on the back. "You'll make the next one cry." The game ended on a foul against the PD team's seeker, but they still won. They walked Miranda down to hug her uncle and mother.
"You're really sweaty and gross," she complained.
"You'll think it's okay when you're playing," Danny promised, patting her on the head. "So, who's celebrating tonight?"
"Stella and I were since you're not playing today," he taunted, smirking at him. Danny gave him a look. "But we might let you help." Stella pounced him with a whoop and hugged him. "You were magnificent."
Danny took a kiss. "Inspiring," he said, shooting a picture of her making a goal. She smiled and got off Don's back, giving him a hug too, then hugging Miranda and Horatio. "We heading to which house after we go make your parent's house sing with wards?"
"Can we get Tony?" Stephi asked.
Danny smirked at her. "Already there. Pissed your dad off to no end. He said he's more than enough. Oh, Don, your cult was there when Tony showed up. They've vowed to protect the family, even the female members." He walked Miranda out with a wink, making her giggle. "Okay, we're going to portkey, but I don't know what their living room looks like." Don sent over the picture he needed. "Is that from today?"
"Nope. Ask Tony."
Danny nodded and asked him, getting a time-spot mental image. He created a portkey and sent them off together, landing between the couch and the tv.
"Can we do it again?" she squealed, hugging him.
"Sure, when you're older." She laughed and went to hug her grandparents. "Here to help Tony." He went to do that, getting a grin. "Need help?"
"Please. This window's got an unbreakable charm and it doesn't want to take the wards."
"Hmm." He stepped into the 'ignore me' field that Tony had set up, helping him anchor it on the other side of the window. Then he added his own touches, getting an evil smirk.
"Boys?" Don's mother asked dryly. "Are you nearly done?"
"Nearly," Danny agreed. He added one last mark then hid them all and let them sink in. No one would ever break into this home again. The house flashed them went quiet. He walked Tony inside. "Done."
"Good. What did you do?" Don's father asked patiently.
"If someone tries to break in, they're going to be miserable, dead, and eaten," Tony said honestly. "Even when she's not here." That got a small smirk from Don's father. "She's too precious to waste on wastes of their mother's times like her stepfather."
"Amen," Danny agreed quietly, looking at Don's mother. "It's to protect you and the old guy too, that way Donny doesn't have ta worry."
"Then I probably won't protest. Can my priest bless over it?"
He nodded. "Sure. Unless he's like us, he won't even notice it. It won't come up unless it's needed."
"Thank you, boys. Want a brownie?" They shrugged and went to get one in reward. "Who won?"
"Our team," Danny said proudly. "I was in the middle of a case so both your kids played today."
"They were *amazing*," Miranda told her. "They nailed the balls at the players, they kept it going all the time, it was like the ball was alive."
"Bludgers are," Danny assured her. "They like to hurt people. Beaters are there to make sure they only hurt the other team." She gaped. "I've got a beginning quidditch book at home Don can steal." She beamed and nodded, hugging him and going to help her grandmother cook while they talked about the game.
Danny and Tony looked at Don's father. "We're going to celebrate the win. Stella needs an arm and shoulder rub. You need us, you call us. Any of us. Wackos like that should be gotten gone." They disappeared, taking their brownies home. Tony moved to work on Stella's arms and shoulders for her, making her moan and arch back into his hands. "Done. Everything from passive wards to something demonic coming out to eat someone if they're there to hurt an innocent in the house." He snuck a bite of dinner and a kiss with a grin. "You two did look good. I promised you could let her borrow my beginning quidditch book."
"I'll get it later for when I go check on her." He snuck another kiss. "Go sit. Let us cook." Danny nodded, going to do that.
Mac hung up the phone, making sure his mental shields were fully up and it sounded like he was doing paperwork. Something had been nagging him and it had come last night when he remembered they had promised to check Sonny's grave to make sure it was really him in it. He grabbed what he needed and headed out, going out there. The cemetery was a peaceful spot. A few other families and single people staring at their loved one's headstones. He found the one he wanted and noticed the recent flowers to it. Not carnations or roses. Lilies. He stared at it then quietly cast the spell, concentrating. He walked off a few minutes later, going to talk to Sheldon. That wasn't Sassone, that was his number three goon's body.
He did not want to tell this to Danny, not yet.
Danny looked up and shook his head. "Idiot," he muttered in Italian. "I already knew that, his kid's momma came up to see if I could find him for her. She knew he's not dead." He got back to work, contemplating what he was going to do. He finally decided and sent Mac a blistering fit of temper for trying to protect him, making him flinch and hold his head suddenly where he and Sheldon were eating, telling him what his lunch had been about and why he had been in such a foul temper most of the day. Mac sent back his apologies and Danny pointed out they could track him. He had told her he would. Then he cut off contact and finished cooking.
"Want a hug?" Stella called.
"No. I'm good. It was more the fact that he was trying to protect me, again." He brought the food out to the table then went to get plates. Don walked in and hugged him. "I'm fine. He obviously thought I wasn't going to hear?"
"Probably thought he had his mental shields high enough," Don suggested, kissing him on the cheek. "You sure you're all right? What happened anyway?"
"One of the junior thugs at the school called me for lunch. So I went. He's Sonny's boy but he sounded like he was in mental agony. I thought maybe he was having to decide which side ta go to, ya know?" He handed over glasses. "So we went to lunch, he tells me Sonny's got another kid, a sick one. Needs something from Sonny to be well. Set up the meeting between me and the mother. She's not one of us but she knew. Somehow. She asked if I could find him. I told her there were tracking charms but I needed something of his, specifically of his, something that he had touched and worn a lot, something that was personal to him." He handed over the bundle of handkerchief from his pocket. "His ring. Don't touch it. I'm doing the tracking charm tomorrow since I'm off." Don handed it back. "Since the kid needs it, I won't even kill him on sight."
"I will," Tony called, sounding sweet and nice.
"You do, his kid dies."
"Tony!" he snapped.
"All right! I'll let him live that long, but you're not going alone."
"Not like we can't switch the bodies out," Horatio offered dryly.
"True," Mac agreed as he walked in. "I didn't want to upset you before I had proof, Danny." Danny glared at him. "You didn't mention the lunch."
"I told you I was going to lunch with one of the junior thugs. You didn't listen. Stella, didn't I tell him?"
"I heard you say it. Lindsey was wondering why, thought it was them trying to pull him back into the family stuff," she reminded Mac. Who groaned and sat down holding his head. She worked on his neck. "I know. We like to try to protect Danny but sometimes he likes to remind us he's tougher than you." Mac and Danny both gave her dirty looks. "You do try. I would've went with you. Don would've."
"Don was busy with the suspect from hell," Danny reminded her. "Besides, I figured what he wanted. Sonny's got three kids. It had to be about one of them or they'd have asked one of the others." He finished putting food out. "Dinner. Eat or don't." He sat down and dished out some food, Don beside him getting his plate filled. Horatio came over, looking at him. "I'm good with it. It's about the kid's life. Least we can do is help."
Horatio nodded. "Do you need backup?"
"No, I need someone to remind me I can't hit 'im."
"No, that's my pleasure," Tony reminded him. He walked the others over. "Where's Taps?"
"My place," Horatio assured him. "He was grouting the shower last I knew." He handed food down to Mac. "If he's willing to cooperate, you can wait to hurt him, Tony."
"But, dad," he whined.
Horatio smirked at him. "Making him do something responsible may very well eat him," he noted.
"Nope," Danny said dryly, eating a bite of dinner. "He's the last in the family. His ancestors will come back from the dead and kill him if the kid dies. Besides, she's a sweet kid. Plus he's got another one in trouble. She went to someone abusive after him. Hard to believe but she considered him easier to deal with." Mac moaned at that. "So we can catch him doing stuff for his family or else." He ate another bite and chewed. "It won't be that hard and he's a muggle."
"You'll call?" Tony asked.
Tony gave him a long stare then suddenly smirked. "That's not what you used to call me, sugar."
"No, but I'm with people who like to let me not cuddle, honey."
"Please don't. Saw enough of that from Tony and Speed's minds, guys," Stella complained. "I don't even want the thought of all you guys sharing me to occur."
"Now that you mention it," Tony teased. She kicked him under the table, earning a wince. "Ow, meany."
"I'm telling Gibbs and Abby."
"She'll applaud and he'll want to smack me upside the head. No big difference there," he noted with a smirk before nipping his next bite of food.
"Maybe if you weren't so bad, he wouldn't want to smack you on the head so often," Mac taunted.
"No, he likes to play with my hair," Tony shot back with an evil grin. "Lots and lots of people like to play with my hair." Horatio put his phone on the table and he laughed. "I've got tomorrow off."
"Not now you don't," Gibbs' voice came out of the speaker on the phone. "We'll be seeing each other very soon, DiNozzo."
"Nope, I know that's why you play with my hair. By the way, you never answered Don's and my question. How many hits before I get a ring?" He ate another bite.
Gibbs moaned. "The only ring you're getting is the one I'm going to use as a marker when I castrate you, DiNozzo." A female in the background giggled. "Don't encourage him."
"But he's cute," her voice came across fainter.
"Yes, but he knows it," Gibbs reminded her. "I'll see you bright and early, DiNozzo."
"No can do, boss. Gotta help Danny threaten Sonny. Again."
"No you don't."
"Oh, yes, I do. Not like you're going alone, dear. Or else I'm letting Stella into my photo album." Danny went pale. "Comprede vous?"
"If I've gotta have one. You get to stay in the car."
"Fine with me," he agreed. "That's close enough. Night, boss and Amanda." He hung up and handed the phone back. "That was nearly evil, Horatio. You really are meant to be one of us." They shared a look. "He'll smack me extra hard and I'll ask about his sex life. And?" He finished up and got up to get more water. "Anyone need anything since I'm up?"
"Can I have a beer? I deserve a beer," Don called. One was handed over. "Thanks." He sipped and grimaced. "Transformed?"
"Yup, he doesn't have any on hand."
Stella took it and did a better transformation before handing it back. "There, better beer."
"Thank you. Knew you loved me."
"Of course I do or I'd never let you hog me for cuddles all night. Or let you curl up as the dog next to my stomach."
"Sometimes it's comforting to nap in animal form," Tony said. "You and Mac have fussy forms, but I curl up as a kitty now and then in the sun. It's a great feeling, very comforting."
"He likes to drool in my bellybutton," she told him. Everyone at the table laughed. "Mac and I are there as barriers to keep Don from cuddling Danny and while I appreciate it, it's your turn tonight, Danny. The puppy is yours."
"That's fine," he said with a small grin. "My fault for being so wrapped up earlier. But hey, I got the guy he and tried to run in front of a bus."
Mac smiled. "I heard. The ADA down to make the deal shrugged when he claimed you chased him in front of it on purpose. Told him not to run next time." They all laughed.
Speed showed up and knelt beside Horatio. "Got a call from Ray Jr.," he noted quietly. Horatio stiffened. "He's fine. Ran into Taps. Thinks it's fairly odd, but cool enough. He came over to talk to you about his girlfriend and he's waiting for you whenever you get back home. He's having scary monogamous thoughts according to him. He scared Taps nearly half to death popping in that way. Then, he said, Yelina called." Horatio let out a quiet moan. "He told her he was talking to a house elf that was cleaning your place and she came over to see. She's not sure if it's a pet or not but she called him so ugly he's cute. So you might want to finish dinner quickly before we have to go *back* for another one."
Horatio wiped his mouth. "Let me handle that. I'll see you guys in a few days." He disappeared.
"Eh. Taps asked Don if he was one of those 'wrong people' who touched house elves funny because he petted him. Said he'd defend himself."
"I'm sorry, but if I had to peg one of this scary group to be a molester of house elves, it wouldn't be Flack," Speed said dryly, taking Horatio's seat. "Willow maybe, but not Flack."
"I still like how Angel got his," Stella said with a small smile at Don.
"How?" Tony asked. "Or are we going to be sick? That smile is scary."
"Alex sent Angel a house elf strip-o-gram. Freed her as long as she finished it and she became Cordy's house elf."
Tony blinked, then looked at Speed. "Didn't I send you...."
"Yup, remind you to pay you back for that too. I didn't get around to it before I died."
"Um, sure." He nodded. "For that sort of idea I do deserve it."
"There are people who sleep with house elves?" Mac asked.
"Yup," everyone else answered.
"I don't know but we could make Calleigh go find out," Don offered brightly.
"How many times did your sister hit you with the bludger?" Stella asked, looking concerned. "Should you go to the ER?"
"I'm fine," he said with a scowl. "Not like I suggested I send her a stripping and molesting house elf."
"I'd suggest sending one of those to her ex with an order to stay invisible while he tried him, but that'd give him too easy of a way out on an insanity plea," Danny offered.
"Is it contagious, whatever's wrong with you two?" Stella asked, starting to look really concerned now. "Because if it is, I'm going home tonight."
"You're in our heads, it's much too late for you to run," Tony said with a fond smirk. She shivered and slumped down some. "Don't worry, Danny will make you think his insanity is normal. He did it to us and look at us now."
"Yeah, that's what I'm worried about, turning into you, Tony," she quipped back.
He pulled his wand. "You'd look just like Speed's little brother," he offered.
"No, I like her girl parts," Don said firmly. "Leave her girl parts alone."
"No," Don said more firmly. "I need her girl parts. They're nice."
"They taste good too," Danny muttered under his breath. Then he sipped his water. She gave him a shocked look. "What? They do!"
She groaned and shook her head. "Speed, can I have your couch tonight?"
"Only if you're sleeping with Ryan. He's hiding from Willow since he handcuffed her and left her that way for her charmed toys to attack. Oh, and she didn't even buy, she made her own." Tony and Danny clapped at that. "Yeah, it's so much easier when you can buy them precharmed and not have to go looking it up." He looked at Tony.
"The librarian thought it was sweet that I wanted to give my girlfriend a toy that would make up for my inadequacies. I told her it wasn't for that reason."
Don looked at him. "You found it in the school's library?"
"Yeah, in the mid-level charms sections."
"Of course, the vibrating charm he found in the restricted section," Speed said with a smirk for his buddy. Tony nodded at that. "If I remember right, you bought a few and charmed them to send to his sister."
"Yup, that way there was no chance she would spawn."
"Her present spawn isn't too bad," Danny admitted. "Miranda's kinda cute. We turned her into a quidditch player today." They all beamed at that. "What did the little creatures who wear real clothes want?"
"Me to come in and look at a box that was going to be inherited."
"Nope," Speed said. "Not a chance you're going alone, Don. That could easily be a ploy to get Alex to come rescue you." His phone rang and he looked at it. "Speaking of..." He answered it. "Hi, Alexx. What's wrong?" He smiled. "No, I'm with the gang. Sure, I can do that." He hung up. "Gotta go. She wants to talk." He finished up Horatio's dinner then disappeared.
"At least he's eating tonight," Stella said dryly. "She won't have to spank him for not eating again."
Speed popped back, looking confused. "That wasn't her. I asked, she said it wasn't her."
"Then he's definitely not going to the bank alone," Danny agreed. Everyone nodded at that. "How are we rewarding our players tonight?"
"On that discussion, I'm taking Speed home to check on Stan." Tony and Speed disappeared to his place.
Mac looked at Stella. "I think she needs more shoulder and arm rubs personally."
"I could," she agreed happily. Danny grinned. "No, Don promised me sex, you were too wrapped up to play. Therefore you only get to watch tonight."
"If that's what you want," he agreed happily enough. They finished up and headed into the bedroom to do that.
Don walked into Gringotts. Against his better judgement he was here, but they had called his boss and she had ordered him to. He had explained the situation to her and she said he'd be fine and was being a big baby. So here he was, not a happy cursebreaker. He walked up to the goblin-in-charge's office. "You called me to look at a box?" he asked.
"You couldn't come last night?"
"I was playing on my team last night."
"Oh. That's fine." He got up and led him down to the vaults. One was opened and he pointed at the box. "That one, Cursebreaker Flack."
"You wanna bring it out?"
"For legal reasons we can't."
Flack looked at him. "Not like I'm going to steal it. I am a cop. I'm also not going to let you guys trap me like you did Alex."
"We have no intention of trapping and holding you," he said patiently. "You're not a threat to the bank." Flack stared at him. "I have no intention of holding you in an inheritance vault forever. That would make the inheritors very upset."
Don considered it, but pulled his wand and mentally started to chant the spells he would need. He could release them if he didn't need them, but there was no way he was being trapped. He stepped across the threshold and the vault door snapped shut. He finished the spells and was gone before it locked. Of course, he had misjudged. He had only gotten to the temporal matrix crafting part of the spell. That's why he landed ten feet to the left and back a few years. He had to cast a quick floating charm when he found himself without a ledge to stand on, but that was fine. Once he was steady, he apparated to the Paris branch, walking into the head office. He ignored the mechanicals. Alex had told him about that. He shoved open the door. "What year is it?"
"You are?" the goblin in charge of the bank at that time asked.
"Cursebreaker Flack. What year is it?"
The goblin blinked. "I've heard some of you misjudge spells and come back now and then. Your position hasn't been created yet." Don blinked back then snorted. "It's the year 1406, Cursebreaker Flack. A few of you have made it back this far but not many. Where are you from natively?"
"America." The goblin looked confused. Don went back over his history. "That place across the Atlantic that Columbus hasn't run into by accident yet," he admitted. He walked in further. "Okay, I've got a problem and it's leading back to the goblins in my own time, and I can't go back until we can fix it."
"Because I'm an apprentice under Cursebreaker Dumass, Alex Dumass. They decided to lock my teacher into a seclusion vault for figuring out how someone who broke into the bank did it. There was a case three." The goblin shuddered. "Alex is a knowledge person. He's the guy you send on book and library jobs because you know he'll make a copy of anything he finds, but that's what he's in the field for. With as much time as he's spent injured, he's gotten to read a good portion of them too. Since he's naturally about 87 or so, even though he was deaged by a dark curse, he's learned a lot."
"And they were scared he would be a threat to the bank," the goblin finished. Don nodded. "Since you're his apprentice, they tried the same thing with you?"
"Just now, but I obviously did the parallel universe and time slip charm he learned off them wrong."
The goblin looked alarmed. "What?"
"That's how they did it. Alex said it was highly theoretical. Talked about quantum mirroring a power key and things."
"That's not even in our present science," he said. He calmed himself. "Most cursebreakers wouldn't be sharing this much."
"I was never a big fan of fantasy novels, but even if I told you, he said that theory won't come out until a few years ago my time. Therefore I don't think I can change too much but you might be able to make a small change that won't affect anything and keep all your cursebreakers from leaving out of fear for their own lives. Including me. Because if I go back to my right time and they try again, I'm going to have to destroy the bank."
"I understand. I would do the same," he assured him quietly. "You don't shed assets that way."
"I'm not a house you foreclosed on," Don said dryly.
"To the goblin mindset, it's about the same," he offered dryly. "Your skills and training are assets to us. The goblins over this must be fearing for their souls with what they're doing."
"The worst thing is that the guy who ordered it is Dumass's orderer. He's the guy who gives out our assignments personally. They've been friends for over sixty years."
"We don't usually covet or become friends with our coworkers."
"He fussed and worried when Alex got deaged."
"Then I stand corrected. Can you tell me about that?"
"Something about a lot of power. It was a trap to retrieve one of the Lost. He and his apprentice at the time went in to retrieve the body and his apprentice got knocked out. Alex was blinded by the power for hours until someone found him. It deaged him from just over sixty to five." The goblin moaned. "There are various theories about who, but he said it was light power. We were at the time when a dark lord was supposedly falling and someone knew it wasn't over with yet according to what we found out later. Alex thinks it was one of the good guys, who later ended up looting his house on him." The goblin put his head down, shaking it. "Yeah, long and complicated but only Alex knows all of it. He's keeping some stuff personal. Not even his consort knows."
The goblin raised his head. "I will help you. As long as you stay out of trouble and remain an asset to the bank."
"There's a whole list of places considered mythical in our time. They might still be around here."
"That would be more than acceptable. Do you know them?" Don nodded. "Why?"
"Because Alex made me memorize the list when he crossed Malgadesh off it after we cleared that city." The goblin moaned. "There is one that I only want a map on. It's Alex's dream job. He's worrying about the deaging not extending his life. This way I've got something to make him keep going. Because this has depressed him."
"Agreed. If I can get you a map to there, I will. Where?"
"He called it Aphrodite's Temple?"
The goblin looked at him, then smirked. "Mr. Dumass is free with his attention?"
"He screwed a different boy or girl almost every single night of his life until he met Draco five years ago," he agreed. "And that short time when he was too young for his body to work. His black books of liaisons are like directories." The goblin smiled at that. "And then there were the interesting nights when it was triplets or something."
The goblin nodded. "I will get you that map. You will work quietly for the bank to raise our assets. Are we in your country?"
"A few minor branches. America doesn't have a ministry." The goblin gave him a horrified look. "From the history I got taught, we never managed it. Never got it together. We're pretty independent and a pain in the ass for other countries that way. The Canadian and Mexican ministries step in when we need major help. We have a loose group of aurors and some supposed decency groups. Nothing else. Some cities have overlords."
"The early goblin prophets said that the goblin race would encounter some of our least profitable times when the structures of the world started to go, but we would recover with some careful tampering."
"We make you guys hellish money," Don said dryly. "Even Alex only makes fifteen percent of what he brings you."
"I will work to draft the help you and your mentor need. For now, let us set you up in a guest room and let you into the library." He rang a bell and a lesser goblin came running.
Don looked at him. "I didn't realize Gruinth was that old."
"That's Gorth. Gruinth may be of his line later," the head goblin offered. "This is Cursebreaker Flack. He accidentally slipped time back to us due to a problem in his current time's bank." The goblin looked horrified. "We are rectifying it. He is to have access to the guest house and the library."
Don pulled out his key. "This is mine in the future if it helps you figure anything out," he offered, handing it over. "They even tried to play with his other friends by stopping all automatic payments out of our vaults."
The goblin looked at the small brass key. He could feel the goblin signature that told him which branch it came from the relative balance. "Extend him ten gold for supplies," he said, handing it back. He looked at Don. "Inflation is bad?"
"A buck now is good if you can buy a beer in a bar with it," he offered. "That's usually only on sale."
The goblin looked at him. "How much would an average house cost in your time, Cursebreaker Flack?"
"Depends on where. In my city? In the suburbs, outside of the main city but close enough to commute," he explained at the confused looks. "Maybe a couple hundred thousand, maybe just under a hundred in a few less decent areas." They both stared. He pulled off the pendant Stella had given him for his version of their bonding ring, letting them see the small diamond. "That was about a thousand dollars, American. Just under that in British Pounds at the time thanks to the exchange rate."
They looked. The younger one moaned. "A thousand British Pounds now is enough to set up a mansion and staff it for ten years," he offered. "That would be enough for a carriage and horses to pull it."
Don put it back on and smiled. "My girl gave it to me."
The goblins nodded. "We will keep that in mind. Inflation is exceptional." He shook his hand. "Thank you, Cursebreaker. I wish you good hunts. Tell me where you're going." Flack nodded and followed the younger goblin. He put his head back down and called his Ruling Council. He went to meet with them, putting this in front of them. They were the only ones who could draft subtle rule changes. Or even set one down for that goblin later in time.
Danny felt Don disappear but knew he was all right. He and Tony shared a look.
Tony called Alex while Danny and the others talked. "Alex, DiNozzo. Don just disappeared. No, he's alive. It's like when you showed him how to jump... Yeah. Just like that. I'm guessing so. He'll come to you first probably. As soon as we feel him back here, I will," he promised. "We are. Thanks." He hung up. "Don said his boss forced him to go."
"Well, she nearly killed him," Danny said grimly. "I'm going to get her for that." He broke off and got out. "Stay." He slammed the car door and walked up to the house, knocking. A familiar man opened the door. "It's a bad thing when the mothers of your children come to me, Sonny. We gotta talk."
"No we don't."
"Yeah, we do. Two of your kids are in danger."
"I don't have kids."
"Yeah, you do. One of the junior thugs you were using at the magic school is yours. No matter what your momma said." Sonny stared him down. He snorted. "Not like that works on me, Sonny. You wanna do this here, fine." He let him inside.
"Last time I saw you, Tony was on my ass and trying to kill me," he said grimly.
"He's in the car. He's a Fed now. Speed and I are both cops." That got a shudder. He handed him a letter. "From Mac, who is honorable. He won't touch you if you're doing something to help these two kids. After that, you're fair game."
"I didn't think I had kids." Danny put three pictures in front of him. He stared at them. He had doubts about the older one being his, but this proved it. Danny had their mother's names and birth certificates there, plus DNA reports. He looked at him again. "Okay, talk."
"The younger girl, she's sick. You're an exact match for her bone marrow. She'll die without it." That got a slow nod. "They'll have to take some from a bone and insert it into her. It'll take a few days but she will die without it."
Sonny nodded. "I've heard of that sort of thing. Cancer?"
"All right. Where is she?" Danny handed over the admittance forms for the hospital that he had gotten off a source. He read them over. "I'll go this afternoon."
"I'd change clothes. The sweats don't really make you look like yourself."
"All I had clean. Can't blame a guy for needing to do laundry since my Ma isn't here to do it for me."
Danny gave him a look. "I liked the lilies. He'd have liked 'em too."
"Thanks. I'll tell him that the next time I visit."
"If I were you, I'd handle it and skip the country, Sonny. Mac was serious. Once these two are safe, he's hunting. He's the one who found out that wasn't you. I think he mentioned letting you two share the coffin." Sonny shuddered at that. "I'm here because their Ma's came to me, and he does know. The kids are more important."
"Understood. You were a bad card to play with the PD. The other?"
"She left you and went to someone who's friends with a lot of cops. Unfortunately she's also being abused by this guy. She's left him but he knows enough cops to get the address of all the shelters. He's drug her and her daughter out by her hair more than once. Right now he's got her locked in the apartment with the daughter. He's hurt them both. She needs saved. Doesn't want you to help but needs saved. He even knows another like me and got her away from some other cops like me who tried ta help. If we can get her hidden more safely the other cops will get him this time. She's agreed to testify and things."
"I can arrange that. Address?" It was handed over. He looked it over. "I know this guy," he said bitterly.
"Wonderful. Because she's gonna die soon and so will your daughter."
"She wants me back?"
"I get that," he decided, looking at him. "Thank you for coming to me like a man."
Danny stood up. "I did last time. You didn't listen. Neither did my dad. He's in a cell in Venice and you're here. So who won?" He walked out, leaving it there.
Sonny got up and went to get dressed. He had funds hidden from everyone. Now was a good time to slip into them and his alternate identity. He found a pair of jeans and a shirt, heading back to the living room to make a few calls while he put on his shoes. "Connect me with Peters," he said quietly. "He'll know. I need a favor. Tell him it's Sonny. Yeah, I know I'm dead. Just tell him, buttfucker. Now." The phone was handed over. "It's me. I need a favor. I just found out I have kids and one's being beaten by her new daddy. Yeah, that one. You couldn't tell me? I had to hear from *Messer*," he said bitterly. "Yeah. Heard about that too. However I can. Get my kid and hide her. Set her and her momma up somewhere safe and away from him. Messer said the cops can't. That he knows too many of them and apparently at least one's like that himself. Thank you. Yeah, as soon as I can get to the bank to transfer it." He hung up and headed out to go to the hospital. Plus to make plans to move out of the country. He had to kill one of his people to get away from Taylor last time. This time, it was only him. He wasn't going to underestimate him this time. Then again, Mexico had pretty women.
Mac looked up as Danny walked in, handing over the tape. "Thank you."
"Not a problem. Proof enough?"
"Much more than proof enough." Danny nodded, heading back to work. Mac listened to the tape and then nodded. Danny hadn't said anything wrong. The 'cops like me' could be interpreted a few ways. He sent it to the Chief ME to have him exhume the body for proper identification and start the ball rolling for a new warrant to be issued for Sonny's arrest. He sent reassurance at Danny. Danny sent it back.
Danny walked into Flack's squadroom, finding the lieutenant out gathering paperwork. He grabbed her by the arm and walked her into her office, slamming the door, realizing that most of the detectives had went silent. Even the perps went silent at that move. "You sent him into a trap that nearly got him killed. He's presently missing. Not even we have any idea where he could be." She sat down, looking pale and shaky. "You were told that they wanted to hurt him to get our friend Alex and you sent him anyway. He managed to escape just before they sealed the airtight room. You sent a damn good cop to a probable death and if it wasn't for him being so damn good at his studies, he wouldn't have escaped. A normal one of us can't." She swallowed. "Now, I think maybe someone needs a burst of reality. Because if he can't come back, I'm very much going to make sure your reputation is trashed for sending him into a trap knowing it was a trap. No CSI in this city will *ever* help you. Probably not most of the cops once they start talking. And you know how much we like to gossip down there with Monroe."
She swallowed and nodded. "I thought it was just a holding trap to get your friend."
He leaned on the desk, bracing on his hands so he could get closer. "They wanted Alex because he got too smart. The federal case we got called on? It was for them. Because he knew how they did it they tried to lock him in an airtight space forever. Even took his wedding ring off him." She started to get sick. He stood up and kicked the trashcan closer. "You sent Don to his death. You're damn lucky he's better than average and managed to get free of it. He's damn lucky we trained him our way instead of the normal school methods or else he would be dead." He turned and walked out, heading back to the labs. Their cult member stopped him. "He's fine. We're not sure where or when but he's fine," he said quietly.
"His powers misfired?"
"He had to escape someone trying to kill him to get a friend of ours. He made an unplanned jump. All we know is that he's fine."
"I'll tell the others to pray for him. Thank you, Protector."
"Wish I had been there," Danny admitted. "She...." He trailed off and shook his head. "Just pray really hard now. Okay?" That got a nod and he headed off, going back to work. Stella walked in and patted him on the back, the most she could do in the labs to calm him down. "We know he's fine but it still sucks. I have no idea if he skipped realms or time."
"Time," she said. "Mac, Speed, and I tried a tracking spell, it said time not realms." Danny slumped and nodded. "He'll be fine. This is Don. He thinks on his feet and he's a great detective, among other things. He's probably at the bank screaming at them for what happened. So maybe it'll be stopped."
He looked at her. "Have a vision or just a strong feeling?"
"Strong feelings." She gave him a gentle hug. "Don will be fine, Danny. We'll find him and get him back." He nodded. "As soon as we feel him return we'll go to him." He nodded again and hugged her back. "Now, get to work. You okay with this morning?"
"Not really but I know I'm the better man since I take care of what's mine."
She smiled. "You do. You spoil me rotten." He laughed and patted her on the back of the head. She pulled back. "Better?"
"Much. Thanks, Stell."
"Welcome." She walked off, going back to work. She noticed Lindsey watching them. "Even he needs some reassurance now and then. Especially with Flack missing."
"Do we know if he was kidnaped?"
"No, he was sent into a trap. We think he's gotten out of it and he's hiding," Danny said, coming to the doorway. "That's why I went to rip his boss a new one." She nodded. "No gossiping yet. Unless we don't get him back."
"Of course." She went to think about that.
Danny looked at Stella. "Did Mac tell his dad?"
"Not yet. He's waiting to see if he comes back today." Danny nodded, going back to work. She went to check on Mac, finding him staring at the phone. "Don's boss?"
"One of his coworkers. He wanted to know what was going on. I told him Don had managed to evade a trap to kill him and was hiding. Told him to keep it quiet unless Don didn't come back. That Don had said so before he went out because he didn't want his parents to worry." She nodded. "Did anyone tell Alex?"
"I heard Tony doing it."
"Good. He'll go to him first. Alex will call us as soon as he sees him if we don't feel him return," Mac admitted. "Thanks, Stella."
"Not like I'm not worried too. I got Danny calmed down."
"That's what the thanks was for," he said with a small grin. "Go work." She nodded, going to do that. He pulled out his open case. He had to concentrate on that for now. It would give his mind time to worry in private. The bond snapped closer and he remembered he wasn't alone. He called Horatio. "Is Speed all right?" He nodded. "Good. Thank you, Horatio." He hung up and got back to work. The victims needed him and he would be there for them. He would worry about Don tonight, when they were all curled together in bed.
to next part