Don reappeared in his right time in the London bank and glared at Gruinth when he came running. "You are in so deep with the family." He stopped and stared. He handed over the wooden tube he carried. "For you. From Garieth and the Ruling Council of that time." He looked horrified. "I'd read it. I know there's another copy around here somewhere." He sat down to read it, then called out in a shaky voice to find the matching one so he could compare it. It was brought in and he read that one over, then nodded. "We done with this stupidity now? 'Cause I'm really tired of this shit and it don't make me wanna work for this bank at all."
"We are." He looked at him. "They had no intention of killing you."
"Bullshit. By the way, reinstate my automatic payments, okay? That way I have time to decide if I want to keep money here or work for you." He felt the jingling in his pockets and pulled out the iron keys he was carrying, plus his usual vault key, and then summoned the small gold one that was on him. "I need one of our permanent rings."
Gruinth looked at them. "That gold one isn't ours."
"So? It still goes on the same ring. That way they can't be taken." The goblin got one out of his drawer and handed it over. "Thank you." They put the keys on there, arranging them in number order.
"What do those go to? I know they're locked."
"They are. They're the stuff I found back then." He gave him a smug look. "All by myself too." The gold key was held up. "Yes, it goes on there. That way I remember." It got slid on and the keys moved until the keyring locked. It wouldn't open without a special goblin charm. He took them back. "Thank you. Now I've got errands." He walked out, heading up the alley. He walked into Ollivander's smiling at the older man. "Mr. Ollivander, if I bring you something great, would you fix my wand cheaply?"
"Of course. Now, let's see. You're a cursebreaker, newly found. You have two wands."
"Three now," he admitted, pulling the first two out. One had a major split down the side that showed the core. "That one broke while I was opening a door. I got this one to take its place," he admitted, putting it down.
"Ivory and river snake demon's venom," he said, smiling at that. "Very good work. Bombay?" Don nodded. "I can easily fix your first one, Cursebreaker Flack."
"Don, please." He pulled off his pack and pulled out a small tube of cloth, taking that wand back to expand it. "Ended up trying to escape someone who had me and ran into a pegasus. Their tails have barbs, did you know that? I ended up getting caught and pulled out about a quarter of it trying to get free so it could fly off. But it got me away from the guy who had me hostage." Alex popped in and hugged him. "I'm fine. I went back six hundred years." Alex gave him a harder squeeze. "I'm fine and the goblin then took it to the Ruling Council. It's ended," he promised quietly.
"Don't ever mess up like that again, Don. Please. Danny nearly killed your boss since you didn't make it back for two days." He pulled back to look at him. "How long were you back there? You're tanned."
"Six months. I agreed to go traipsing around for them." He pinched him on the chest. "For you, I found something but you can't have it until I die."
"Don, you know they're not certain."
"I am. I've got the map to the last place on your list. You'll get it when I die, Dumass."
"You have the map to Aphrodite's Temple?" he asked, looking awed. Don nodded. He squealed and hugged him. "I don't care if I do need elixir of life! I love you!" He pulled back to smile at him. "If it wasn't for that pesky curse, I'd bend over and let you take me here."
"Like you didn't remove it," he snorted.
"Well, yeah," he admitted, smiling at him. "But Draco doesn't know." He hugged him again. "Don't do that to us again, Don. Please."
"I won't, Alex. I didn't want to do that last time." That got a nod and he was let go. "I got stuck in the tail hair of a pegasus. Did you know they had barbs?"
"I did," he admitted, smiling at him. "I caught a ride on one once while escaping this demon in Kuwait."
"Yeah, that's who had me too," he admitted bitterly.
Ollivander unwrapped the tail hairs, smiling in joy. "Even with skin tags," he said happily. "Hold these down please. They might float." He ran into the back to get storage for them. The boys leaned on cloth so they wouldn't contaminate it. A few broken pieces managed to float. But that's what butterfly nets were for in his line of work.
Don looked in his pack and handed over something. "Found this in a trap too. Not sure if you can use it or not."
"A black phoenix tail feather," he said with awe, putting that carefully into its own storage container. "Oh, I do thank you, Cursebreaker Flack. Those are wonderful! I'll make very special wands with them!" He hurried his new materials into the back and came back to get his wand and fix it. "I can fix this for free and make sure it shouldn't split again."
"It was the strain," Don admitted. "It happens or so I'm told by Alex here."
Draco's head came up in the floo fireplace. "You're back?"
"I am," Don agreed happily. "I went back six hundred years. I took it to a head goblin who took it to the Ruling Council. They left a note for Gruinth that's chewing him a new one. Plus I brought Alex a map back but he can't have it until I die."
"If it wasn't for the curse he removed from my family, I'd let you have him for a night. But Danny might mind. I'd expect pouncing when you get home tonight." Don grinned at that. "He's been bouncy and twitting, plus angry at the world since you had to disappear."
"I'll call him," he promised, concentrating on Danny. He brushed love, reassurance, and safety at him, getting back love and happiness. "He's better now." He grinned at them. "I got caught in a pegasus' tail."
"No, mostly scratches. Wish I could've flown on her instead of having to climb out. I need more time in the gym." Alex grinned and hugged him again. "Did someone dose you with something?" he taunted.
"I'm happy, learn to like it." He patted him on the back of the head. "Your boss said you have no leave time left."
"My boss and I are going to get into a screaming match," Don said with a fond smile.
"Danny already did once," Draco assured him. "Stella said she got quite ill."
"Good." He smiled as Ollivander came back, taking his wand and trying it out. "It's great, thanks, Mr. Ollivander. You sure I don't owe you?"
"No, my dear boy. I haven't had any of those in a while now."
"There's a breeding pair in Kuwait," Alex offered. "That's how I got you the last ones." The older man laughed. "Don, we should bring you home."
"We should so the others can pounce me." He winked at his mentor. "I've got to unpack anyway."
"Might help, yeah," Alex taunted. "What else did you bring back?"
"Seven iron keys and a small gold one that went to the handcuffs I was in when the guy who had the pegasus had me. Speaking of, I need to replace the ring since I snapped it when I took the gold key off it." He held up the ring. Alex moaned, looking at the numbers. "My next free day I'll let you see."
"Thanks, Don. You're a great apprentice." He walked him out with a wave to Ollivander. "Need anything before you get pounced?"
"Yeah, I need a new ring. He hooked the key to my handcuffs to a guiche piercing and I broke the ring to get the key off just now."
"How did you get free without the keys?" Alex asked.
"I finally got what you were trying to teach me about house elf and wandless magic. Do wands automatically go for openings in their way when you summon them wandlessly?"
"No, that's a matter of aim and a smutty mind," Alex assured him, patting him on the back as they walked down to the sex shop. "We'll work on your focus later." Don grinned at that. "You're sure you're okay? Don't need major medical, nothing?"
"No, I'm okay. I got a week to recover." A goblin came running and he looked at him. "What?"
"Gruinth wishes to see you both," the goblin said respectfully. "He also wants to know if you still have the book on temporal magic you borrowed from the library."
"Somewhere in my bag and he can wait," Don told him. "I'm not happy with the bank at the moment."
"He is going to correct that publically, cursebreaker. Please? It will allow us to save honor."
Alex groaned. "He's got to pick something up and have it put in, then we'll be there." The goblin nodded and headed back to the bank. "We should probably go," he noted quietly. "It'll ease the fears of the others."
"I'm still mad at them for trying ta kill me," Don noted.
"So am I. Trying me is one thing. Trying my apprentices is another entirely. Coming after you was evil." He looked at him. "Still, we should. Doesn't mean we have to accept anything from them." Don nodded at that and they still went to get his ring first. "So, how much did you make?"
"They spotted me ten gold after I produced my key. There's spells on there to show the balance, did you know that?"
"I didn't but I figured there probably was. Not like they're computerized at most branches." He let him into the sex shop. "He needs a guiche piercing."
"Do I need to pierce it as well?" the owner asked.
Don shook his head. "I snapped the ring getting the handcuff key off it. It's thin and gold."
"Very. Thinner than the key." He summoned the ring and it slid into his hand. "That's what was in there."
He looked before leading him to the case of jewelry, finding a similar one. "We have white gold, silver, platinum, and regular gold, or goblin gold."
Don looked and considered it, sending a thought at Danny, getting back a laugh. They were comforting him. "Danny said regular gold." He put down a few coins, then sighed and took them back since they were old money and put down one of the modern ones he had with him when he had went to the bank to do that box. The man looked at the other ones. "I accidentally went back in time."
"Interesting." He gave him change and the small case for the earring and the old one. "Do you need help putting it in?"
"I've got three lovers waiting to pounce on me," he promised with a grin. "I'm sure I'll have help." That got a wink and he and Alex headed back to the bank so they could make the nice formal announcement.
Danny nearly collapsed. "He's back," he said, sending it to the others. Stella rushed in to help him into a chair. "He's back, he's happy. He's all right." She gave him a hug. "He'll be home soon."
"He will be," she agreed, cuddling him. "He's all right." She felt Don's reassurance and the one Danny sent back, smiling at him. "We'll cuddle him later." Sheldon walked in and shut the door. "Problems?"
"Lindsey was wondering if you two were going to need reported. I'm in here to make sure she doesn't suspect anything," he said quietly. "Freeze me if you're going to do anything."
"Thanks, Doc," Danny agreed. "Petrificus Totalis." He grabbed Stella to pull into his lap. "I can't figure how to do this and get the hug I want. You mind getting hugged from behind?"
"Put me on the table, Danny." He grinned and helped her up onto it on her back. She wiggled out of her pants. He slid between her and her clothes, pushing into her and letting her wrap around him. He groaned and went to town, wearing out the energy he needed to before he popped to London and took Don in the middle of Diagon, then spanked him for worrying them. Mac slipped in, leaning Sheldon back against the door. "The other one?"
"Told her it was about the case that Don got trapped by. That he's back and we're going over what went on." He kissed Danny since he was loud. He pushed him forward and took his rightful spot behind him. "Let me," he whispered in his ear. "You need it and so do I." Danny nodded and let him do the lubricating charm so he could have him. It wasn't his ideal spot for the first time he had Danny this way but they were too desperate to care. The need was being hyped by the release of the worry and they all needed this. He pulled a chair over with his wand and sat down, pulling Danny down with him, which pulled Stella down so she could kiss him and keep him silent while they worked to hold and let him release it in a healthy way. Danny came with a moan against her mouth. Mac was nice enough to reach around to help her while he finished up in Danny's body. They slumped together, cuddling Danny. "He's fine," Mac whispered, stroking Danny's stomach. Danny nodded, relaxing against him. "I promise he's fine."
"He's got some scratches and things. I can feel them."
"You're pushing the bond toward him," Stella soothed, making him pay attention to her by petting him. "Let him go for now. He's safe. Alex just appeared. He's safe and Alex has him, Danny. Let it go." Danny nodded, letting go of the intense grip he had on the bond. He went limp between them. "Shh, we've got you." He nodded against her shoulder. "Once he's done with the few errands, he'll be back here."
"Welcome." She stroked his hair and kissed his forehead. "You can get all new stories tonight." Someone tapped on the door. "We're not done yet," she called.
"Okay. Mac's got a visitor," Lindsey called.
"Tell them it'll be about five minutes," Mac called.
"Sure." She walked off.
"I told her it was about a case that had happened before she got here," Mac admitted quietly. Danny chuckled at that. "Let's get straightened out and unfreeze Sheldon." Stella climbed off after she untangled Danny, mostly because he went to snake form and slithered out of the way. He popped back and his clothes were done back up. She pulled back up hers. Mac stood up and straightened himself out too. Then they unfroze Sheldon. "Sorry."
"I said she could." He shrugged. "He's all right?"
"He's fine now," she said happily. She hugged him. "Thanks, Sheldon."
"Not a problem, but I'd go clean up a bit more. You kinda smell like Danny's aftershave and sex." She giggled and went to do that. The boys got a look over. "Mac, shirt." He retucked his shirt. "Okay. Go. Be happy. Pounce Don." They smiled and went to do that. He went to calm himself down. It was good that Don was fine.
Mac walked into his office, finding Don's father there. "He's back."
"Where was he?"
"Back in time apparently. The bank tried to get his trainer for knowing too much and used Don as bait. He escaped by slipping time."
"I see. He's fine?"
"He's just gotten back and he's fine," Mac assured him. "He's in England getting his wand fixed since it snapped. Alex is guarding him for us."
"Alex. The one who's training him?" Mac nodded. "Isn't that more dangerous?"
"No, because Don sent over a thought saying he took it to a higher goblin power, the people who made the rules for the bank."
"Why was Alex wanted?"
"The case we went to help with was a major theft ring. Alex figured out how they did it and was able to duplicate it."
"Ah. Paranoid beings?"
"Goblins? It's part of the definition," Danny said from behind him. "Don said they're having to do a formal announcement that things are back to normal now and they're very sorry for targeting him and Alex." He grinned at Don's father. "He's fine. He's in a good mood, playful and happy. He was taunting Alex with something he found back then."
"Good. He'll be back when?"
"Within an hour. It takes about forty minutes to get this far." That got a nod and his father sat down. "I'll let him know you want to see him before he goes to chew his boss a new one."
"The news only reached me today for some reason," he said once Danny was gone.
Mac nodded. "We knew he was safe, just not available. We were hoping he'd be back yesterday and didn't want to worry you or his mother."
"I can understand that. Will we have to explain anything?"
"No, we let it be known it was about a case that turned out to be a trap, that his boss knew it was a trap. Danny assured her no one else would know she had made him walk into a trap on purpose and nearly got him killed as long as Don came back."
"That works for me," he agreed. "It'll make sure the other boys trust her." Mac nodded at that. "You're sure he's all right?"
"Danny's had a checking spell and a tight hold on the bond to Don since he disappeared. That way he'd know the minute he got back. He's got a few scratches and a tan." That got a small smile. He sent a thought at Don, getting back a sigh and a 'tell him I'm good, I'll be over for dinner'. "He said he's good and he'll be over for dinner."
"He'd better. His mother is not happy that someone told her and not me." He stood up. "I can wait, right?"
"Of course. You want to wait here, over at his desk, or in our break room?"
"His desk is fine." He went that way, and the other detectives gave him odd looks when he walked in. He sat at his son's desk and glared at a few who gave him curious looks.
"He's on his way back?" someone called. Don's father nodded. "He okay?"
"He's fine and the people who did it are being dealt with. It leads back to an older case and the proper people have them." That was as close as he could get to the truth because he knew his son wouldn't let the people responsible get away with this. His lieutenant came to her door and he looked at her, silently telling her he knew. She nodded at him and went back to her desk. Don strolled in.
"You get captured and have to escape, and you get a tan?" one of the detectives complained.
"I was outside for the whole time," he complained back. "Of course I got a tan. I'm a pale person and we tan very easily after being outside all the time." That got some snorts. He looked at his father. "What? Dinner's not good enough?"
"No. Your mother got told, son."
Don shuddered. "Well, tell her you saw me and she can fuss tonight when I come home for dinner. I've got to straighten out how she apparently put me on vacation time for this." The other guys laughed and he walked into the office, slamming the door. "So, did Danny chew you a new one good enough or should I start?" he asked dryly.
"I didn't know they wanted to kill you."
"I told you it was a trap and that it was very easily my death. You still sent me." She nodded. "Now, about this vacation time stuff?" She groaned and pulled out the paperwork to fix it and the one for the federal case. "Thank you. We gonna have issues or are you gonna leave me alone now about the other stuff?"
"Your other stuff is your other stuff," she promised quietly, looking at him. "I'm sorry, Don. They said it was vitally important."
"Yeah, well, I got it fixed after being six hundred years ago." He took the papers to read over and sign, then handed it back, getting his copy. "Thanks. I'm going home. I've got shit I need ta do. Including take a real shower. Bathed in a river last time."
"Go," she agreed. "Thank you for coming back."
"Yeah, well, next time, I'm bringing you with me," he assured her. She nodded, getting that. He walked out, looking at his father. "Let me go shower and change clothes. It's been a while since I had a shower."
"Fine, son. I'll drive." Don shrugged. "You going to see your other friends?"
"Yeah, then I'll go shower and change so Ma can fuss." He went over there to the CSI portion and found Danny pacing. "Hey, I'm brilliant," he reminded him. "Of course I got free. Alex taught me how. Even if I did kinda mess it up."
"Ya think?" Danny demanded. "Just a bit!" Don pulled him closer and gave him a hug. Danny relaxed. "You're really all right."
"Of course I am." Stella came out and piled on, and Mac gave him a pat on the back. "Thanks, guys, now get off." They got off him with a laugh. Sheldon smiled at him. "At least you guys tried to keep Danny sane."
"Try being the operative word," Lindsey teased, smiling at him. "Are you all right?"
"I'm good. A bit crisp from being outside the whole time, but otherwise okay. I'm headed to shower, go let my mother scream and rant at me, then I'll be home tonight for our friends to drop by and help me do some laundry and stuff." He sent a picture of Danny replacing the ring to him, getting a smirk. "We clear?" They all nodded. "Good. I'll see you guys tomorrow and some of you tonight." He walked off with his father.
"I still say someone's going to say something about your extremely close friendship with Messer, son," he said sourly as they walked.
"Fine. I'll leave off it." He led him out to his car and drove him home so he could shower and change. The landlord came up and he looked at him. "We just got him back."
"How long was he missing for?"
"Two days," Don called. "Did you get it?"
"I did. Thank you. Plus next month's. You do know your lease is up at the end of that month?"
"I hadn't but we'll make plans so I can let you know." He headed into the bathroom. "Thanks."
"Welcome." He left.
Don's father closed the door. "Are you moving in?"
"The only thing here is some clothes and furniture. My broom." He turned on the shower and sighed in pleasure as the hot water flowed over him. "Oh, nice after bathing in a river for months on end."
"Will what you did cause problems?"
"Nope. Find my backpack?"
"It's at Danny's," he called. "Speed called to say so."
"Thought I had sent it there, guess that proves it's home to me." He got to work scrubbing, because at least some of the tint to his skin was river mud. He came out pink and a bit less dark, but happy and clean everywhere. He found a pair of jeans and a t- shirt, then his spare running shoes, coming out to see his father standing there with Gibbs. "Who sent you up?"
"McGee. Tony's worried sick but he can't get free since he's testifying." He looked him over. "Have fun?"
"Mostly did a lot of what Alex was teaching me in the desert and jungles of India." That got a small smirk. "They wanted me to keep out of sight and out of trouble. That made sure of it." He stretched and groaned. "Oh, better." He fingered his pendant. "I'm fine, Gibbs, but thanks for worrying." He grinned at him. "You can tell the other worrywarts I'm fine too."
"I will. Send me back to the office?" Don did the camp moving spell around him, letting him appear in the small park off to the side. Gibbs called Tony's phone to leave a message. "He's fine. Tanned, fit, smiling. His father has him." He hung up and went inside, nodding at their temporary director. "Ran out for coffee and they were out."
"I don't know. They said it'd be an hour." He went back to his desk, looking at McGee. "He's fine." He slumped. "It's apparently fixed since he's smiling and happy. His father has him."
"Oh, good." He smiled and got back to work after IM-ing Abby to tell her the good news, and Harry since he was down there working on something.
"What'd you bring me?" Stella asked when Don walked in. "We didn't touch your pack. I figured you might have booby trapped it somehow."
"I only got a present each," he offered, opening his bag to undo the packing spell. It landed around him, Danny banishing the tent and supplies to the front closet. "Thanks. The tent needs a hole patched too. Remind me this weekend?" They all nodded. He looked at the first one. "Well, for the really smart one I brought a book back but he's not here. So I guess he doesn't want it?" Speed popped in and took the book, then disappeared. That got a laugh. He came to Mac's, tossing over the sacrificial knife. "Nearly got me with that one. Please keep it away from my chest, okay?" Mac smiled and nodded, testing the edges, cutting his thumb. "Yeah, damn sharp." He handed Danny the new ring and a small, fabric wrapped bundle. "Your book. This one is Tony's book, and Horatio's capturing box," he said, putting that aside. Speed reappeared and got those then disappeared again. "He's good."
"He is, but he's being like a jack in the box," Stella complained. "Don!" He grinned and held up something. She looked at the necklace. "Shells?"
"Mother of pearl. They scraped the other end of the shells off to make those." She smiled. "It's very fragile. Very, very fragile." She nodded, going to put it up safely. He sent something else at her head, getting a squeal.
"How come she gets two?" Danny pouted.
"The other I picked up since you're going to put my new earring back in for me," he said dryly. "And blow me."
"If that's what you want," Danny agreed with a smirk.
"Yeah, that's what I want. Haven't had any in six months. C'mere." Danny moved over to undress him and looked at the new hole. "The desert demon that had me put the handcuff keys there. That way he could always get me undone but I couldn't. I snapped it earlier taking the key off." Danny kissed it and put the new ring in, making Don smile. "Thanks, Danny."
"Did he hurt you?"
"No. He came in and taunted me. Had his harem come in to tempt me. He pressed against me a few times, but nothing else. I never wanna end up with my knees and hands cuffed to the same spot on the headboard."
"Not a problem with us," Mac promised, coming over to kiss him and make sure he was all right. He had a few scratches but nothing that would scar. One new scar on his thigh but it was fully healed. "Claw?"
"Tree," he said bitterly. "I slipped in the end of the monsoon season." Mac smiled at that and gave him another kiss while Danny laved it then got down to his blowjob. Don tensed, then relaxed. "This I missed. That and the kisses and the cuddling." Stella piled into his side to cuddle, sucking on her chocolate lollipop while she watched Mac and Danny play with him. He opened his mouth and she let him have a lick then kissed him. He smiled. "I missed you guys. The horse I was on heard a lot about you guys." They smiled at that. "Even if he was fixed and had PMS due to it." She laughed and kissed him again, then shared on with Mac.
"I used to eat those all the time when I was in school," he teased, kissing her again. "It'll run in a few minutes." She got back to it while they kept Don relaxed and happy.
Don finally came and sighed in pleasure. "Oh, nice, Danny, thank you. And not even a tree in sight." He pulled him up to sit in his lap for a minute. "I missed you. You would've made jokes about the rainforest in India. Mac would've told me how to camp easier, and Stella would've kept me cheered up, but I missed you guys." They piled in to cuddle him. Her lollipop tried to climb off the stick and she bit the head off, making it scream then die. It was still good, just not wiggling. They stayed on the couch, even when Speed popped back in with a dish of food and then left again.
"Someone ate hyper candy," Danny joked.
"Hmm, you," Don taunted, kissing him. "Mac said you bounced all day in happiness to have me back." He took another kiss then stood up. "I wanna dive into someone's ass. Who's up for it?"
"Not that part of me," Stella teased. Mac kissed her and gave her a look. "What?"
"Why? They're in a naughty mood. "I can be."
"Behave," he ordered, pulling her closer. She smiled and they followed, watching Danny and Don wrestle for who got on top this time. She pounced Don and Danny 'ha'ed before grabbing the lube while they kissed.
Greg Sanders, out in Vegas, heard Alex whisper his name over the bond that night and moaned. It was his only night off this week. So he was cranky when he called back his 'what'. He moved it to a more private location, their cellphones. "What's wrong, Alex?" He listened to him, blinking. "They can't tell?" He heard how all cursebreakers showed up a shadow of death on the life meter system that they used to see if he was going to continue to live. It was an older technology and all cops registered the same way. "Let me see what I can work up. We'll see." He hung up and went down to his lab to work and think. He hadn't thought that Alex's biological clock mightn't have been reset to his new age. No one probably did. At least Alex had a good reason to want to live in Draco. And whatever Don had tempted him with. Alex had told him Don had said he could only have it if he outlived him but he was mostly worried about leaving Draco alone. He was a strong enough wizard to live into his two hundreds but so was Draco and he did have a long head start on him. He found a reference to life meters in one of his books and read it over.
It was a problem he'd be figuring out. None of the Banes wanted to lose Alex. He was dynamic and fun, plus a great backup if something happened. Besides, they didn't want to lose his library either. He followed the sources and asked Alex to borrow some books, getting two cases next to him a few minutes later. "Thanks," he called out loud.
"If those were alchemy books, I'm skinning you alive, husband," Emilia called. "Your boss as well as your children and I would like your sunny presence now and then."
He got up and went down to kiss her. "I know, but they're not strictly alchemy. They're to help Alex figure out if his biological clock got reset when he got deaged or not." She looked horrified. "We're not sure if his body is set at eighty-seven or twenty-three. It's a big difference in life expectancy, even for us."
She nodded, hugging him. "Need help?"
"Please. You're my favorite research assistant." He led her back up there. Their kids were with the nanny elf for the next few hours. Maybe they could find a way to tell for him. Because none of them wanted to lose Alex.
Speed heard the question Don asked Danny and groaned, answering that there wasn't a way to tell in their magic. That he had done some research on that curse for a paper back in college. Don had apparently done some when he was stuck back in time and injured after the pegasus drug him. He looked at Ryan, who was in the lab with him and Eric. "You know what happened to Alex, right?"
"The curse," he said quietly. Ryan nodded, looking at him. "Is there any way for someone to tell if his body still thinks it's eighty-seven or not?"
"Huh?" Eric asked.
"Way back when, when Harry was about six months old, a curse went off that deaged him," Speed said quietly. "That's why he's the age he is even though he's not. I know there's no sure way to do it in what I do."
Ryan considered it, then nodded. "There is. There are creatures that can see fates. Bribe one of them to look at him and see how long he lasts."
"They don't like him," Speed reminded him. "Not with where he regrew."
"Point. I'll check into the sources I know, see if there is. Do you guys work with any wiccans?"
"Holly, Snape's wife. Lovegood. Dawn."
"Let me call Dawn. She can get the other sources and the library." That got a nod and Speed got back to work. Ryan called her, getting her voicemail. "A research question has come up. I need you to get me some sources, Dawnie. I need sources on the reaging rate of deaging curses because we may have had one down here and we're trying to see how fast they're expected to regrow." He hung up. "Not a lie," he said at Eric's look.
"We've had two or three who've done that to themselves, but they wore themselves out and they died of exhaustion," Speed admitted.
"I'm not surprised. Willow said she looked at the place where it happened and it's still resonating on our bandwidth."
"At least he'll have Draco for however long," Eric said quietly.
"Yeah, but Draco's twenty-one and Alex is nearly ninety originally," Speed said quietly. Eric groaned at that. "Even though we live longer...."
"Why?" Ryan asked.
"It preserves us. You guys wear yourselves out so you don't get the same benefit."
"Crap," he muttered. "Well, there goes that hope."
Eric looked at him. "How long have you been doing that stuff?"
"Fourteen." He bent back down to look in his microscope.
"Care if we ask why?" Speed asked.
"Okay. Anyone we should be aware of if they come to town after you?"
Ryan looked at him. "I've lived here all my life, Speed. They're still here and it was for a decent enough reason." He got back to work as Calleigh came in. "Got anything for me?"
"Not a thing. No matches and the bullet was in itty, bitty pieces when Alexx pulled it out. Sorry."
He looked at her. "Not your fault they use cheap ammo. Got any idea of size?"
"That narrows it down some," he said pragmatically. "Was it cheap ammo?"
"Melted at home and there were air bubbles. One of the pieces had the outline. I'm surprised it didn't break in the mold." She handed over the pictures for him. "For Eric, however, I hit the motherlode." He grinned back. "Many uses and owners. It's like a mythical gun. Whoever has it is somehow compelled to rob and shoot a liquor store owner or do a home invasion and shoot someone there or while getting away." She handed over that report and smiled at Speed. "I don't have a thing for you."
"That's probably good since mine was a hit and run," he noted dryly. She hit him on the arm and he grinned. "Don's back home."
"Good! It's only been two days. Where was he?"
"Way far away. He even managed a tan," Speed noted dryly. "I popped up to feed him and get my present."
"You expected a present?" Eric demanded, looking amused.
"Of course. He went on a trip. I get presents when my friends go on trips," Speed assured him. Eric just shook his head quickly. "If you go on one I'll expect something, at least a post card."
"Sure, Speed. If I ever take a real vacation I'll bring you back pictures and see if I can pack a woman for you."
"No thanks. Your tastes and my tastes in women are vastly different." Alexx walked in with a report. "I thought you were going to page me."
"So did I but your phone's saying it's dead."
He pulled it out and frowned, going to pay his bill again. "Sorry."
"That's fine. Here, have the report. She was run over. I took pictures of the tire tread. It was a heavier vehicle with small tires. It shoved her intestines out of her body."
"Is there any way to see how heavy based on the amount spurting out?"
"Nope." He sighed. "Sorry, Speedy." She stroked his cheek. "Is everything all right?"
"Just fine. Don's home and the bank thing is all fixed." He grinned. "Thanks, Alexx. Anything else I should know?"
"She had bruises in the shape of a ring."
"Someone said she was running, looking like she was running from someone."
"Probably someone who was abusing her with the bruises. Come see for yourself when your phone starts working again." He nodded so she walked off.
Speed went to call his phone people and see what had happened *this* time. This was the third time it had been shut off because they decided he was still dead. When he was done he walked up into Horatio's office. "The did it again."
"I tried to call you earlier and it was off." He looked at him. "Apply for a new social security number."
"I tried, they said it wasn't a good enough reason." He shrugged. "One of them said it was the duty of the person who brought me back."
Horatio looked at him. "We'll work it out, Tim. Have a bit of patience. Is it back on?"
"No. Even with the letter they said I'm still dead and this is fraud. Even talking to one of the supervisors." Horatio moaned. "But at least I'm not going to be held liable for the early termination fees."
"That's one bright point," he noted dryly. "Get one through the city."
"This one is." Horatio gave him a look. He held it up. "Really."
"Go home, let me make some calls in the morning."
"Call the house if you need me. Not like I'll have any other way." Horatio nodded. "Or call Tony and have him call me, or you call me that way." He walked off shrugging. "My phone's officially dead," he announced.
"Again?" Calleigh called.
"Yup. They don't believe I'm alive either." He looked at her, then at Tony when he appeared, leaning against a wall. "Cute."
"Thanks." He grinned. "Gibbs is tired of listening to me rant. He said we can help." He motioned him closer. "All we need are certain...favors," he offered with a wicked smirk.
"Sex for a working phone? I'm not quite that desperate, Tony," he taunted.
"Not that one." He put an arm around his shoulder. "Gibbs wants to see Kate," he said quietly. "Just to talk to her."
"We can summon her. Boss, going home with Tony. They're fixing it."
"Thank you," drifted down from the office.
"Let me get my stuff from the locker room." Tony nodded, following him that way.
"Again?" Frank complained. "How often are you down here on cases?"
"I'm picking up Speed. We're helping him with the fact that no one believes he's alive." He pouted at him. "I'm being good. Even my boss said so."
"Uh-huh. Yank the other one, I bark." Tony smiled wickedly and punched him on the arm as he walked past him. He went to talk to Horatio. "He's really a Fed?"
"NCIS," Horatio agreed, still filling out forms. "Under Jethro Gibbs." Frank shuddered, he heard it. He looked up. "Tony's very focused on the job but the boy can give Eric a run for his money in the dating game."
"Ooh, goodie." He walked off shaking his head. Another bad influence on Speed, just what the kid needed.
"We've been friends since we were eleven," Speed said as he walked past him. "He was a bad influence a long time ago and I made Tony this way. Consider the implications." Frank stared after him, looking confused.
"He did. He's such a bad influence on me," Tony agreed as he walked past him. "After all, I nearly settled down once. Speed kept me from killing my father when he drove her off but he never made me try that hard again."
Frank shuddered and went back to his desk to find his painkillers. Because the thought that it was *Speed* who was the bad influence was a bad one.
Speed finished setting up in Tony's apartment and lit the candles with a flick of his wand. Tony settled in to focus and chant. Gibbs was on the couch. Speed flopped down next to him, taking the identification folder. "Thanks. This'll hold up to phone companies?"
"It will. There's one in there," he said quietly. A mist started to form. "Tell me it gets better?"
"It does." Speed looked at the table and tossed something into the middle of it, something that said 'Kate' to Tony.
"You just *had* to use the bikini, didn't you?" a female voice complained as she coalesced. "Gibbs, can't you smack him harder?"
"I nearly gave him a concussion one day. Didn't help, Kate." He smiled at her. "Are you okay?"
"I'm pretty good. Kinda bored." She smiled at Speed. "Hi, I didn't get to see you on this side."
"Tim Speedle, Miami."
"Kate Todd, who is going to kick Tony's ass for even *thinking* about that spell."
"Hey, I let Gibbs talk me out of it. I even started off with asking him to tell me no," he defended, looking up at her.
Gibbs nodded. "He did, Kate. Are you okay? Really okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Actually, I can come back as someone's kid if I want. So, let's use that spell on Tony and then you can steal me and raise me properly."
"The one to make men have babies," Speed reminded him. Gibbs winced at the very thought.
"But he'd be cute when he's all fat and pregnant, Gibbs," Kate whined. "That way I'm sure to come back for your team."
"Make Abby be a mom," Speed offered.
"Can't. I'd end up a witch and then really odd. A goth witch at that." Tony nodded. "Yes, she and Harry are for real. It's cute. Really, really cute." She smiled at them. "So, why the callback?"
"I wanted to see you and talk to you. Make sure you weren't lingering, bugging McGee since he said he saw you, nothing like that."
"I kept him from having a worse accident, Gibbs. I like the kid, but I don't want joined yet."
"Then he'd probably thank you even though you messed him up for days," Tony agreed. "So, Kate, did you ever know about me?"
"I saw the wand but I thought it was your date of the day's hairstick or something. Floored me when I got up here and found out that you're really powerful and smart. Could've fooled me on the smart part especially." He stuck his tongue out. "You *had* to use the bikini?"
"I had to use something that said you to me." He grinned smugly. "So, how's the afterlife? Speed said his patch of grass was boring."
"It is kinda. That's why I look over your shoulder. Oh, did you look at Hersdt's father?"
"I did and he's a dirtbag but he's got an alibi."
"Pity. The system should've gotten him earlier."
"I'm sure someone up there will," Gibbs said quietly.
"Oh, there's a receiving line *especially* for people like him," she assured him with a sweet smile. He smirked back. "I might just go join it soon if I can't get Tony to do the spell. Oh, did anyone think to warn Don that it was in the open?" Speed and Tony both moaned and started to call him mentally. She smiled at Gibbs. "Needed a hug?"
"Needed to know you're not mad and you're okay."
"I'm not mad and okay is relative. I'm bored senseless about half the time. They don't even have board games where I am." He cracked a smile at that. "We had naked limbo once but we got in trouble for that." Speed looked at her, raising an eyebrow. "Yeah, I know, your section started it, Speed." She smirked at Gibbs again. "Think I could go haunt Abby? She's having a moping day."
"Why not, you did right after you died," Tony reminded her.
"No, that was your imagination."
Tony gave her a look. "Fat fucking chance, Todd. Not like you're my first ghost." She blushed at that. "Liked the outfit?"
"When you die, you're getting a special welcoming committee of me and a few of your past girlfriends." She looked at Gibbs. "On second thought, can *you* have that spell done so I'm *your* kid?"
"I'll ask my girlfriend if she wants kids," he offered.
"I saw her. Very nice taste, boss." He coughed and blushed a bit. "She is. Amanda's adorable. I like her a lot and she appreciates all of you, boat and all." She looked up. "What?" She rolled her eyes. "Guys, I'm being told I'm in trouble."
"Tell them I summoned you back," Tony reminded her.
"That'll get you in trouble."
"No, only if I trapped you down here." He gave her a look. "If it becomes necessary to do so to save Gibbs or Probie, expect it."
"Sure, Tony. I'll come haunt the office like you had your room haunted in your third year."
"She may not have had a head, but she was cute."
"Yeah, well, I was fourteen, Kate. What did you expect?" She snorted and smirked at him, then blew a kiss at Gibbs before disappearing. Another form started and Tony looked at him. "I know I didn't call you, Toby."
"I wanted to say hi."
"Yay," Speed said, wiggling his fingers. Toby glared at him. "Watch out for Kate for us, okay? She's like Tony's sister. Only non-magical."
"Fine. Where's Danny?"
"New York," they said together.
"Throat deep on his current boyfriend with the other boyfriend and girlfriend behind him," Tony added.
The ghostly Toby, a friend from school, moaned. "Why does he still get all the ass?"
"Because he's Danny," Speed reminded him. "Just think, Dumass was married when they ran into each other." Toby groaned and faded out. "Anyone else, Tony?"
"I was trying not to," he assured him. "Audry's still living and she's on my mind at the moment." He blew out the nearest candle, breaking the diagram. He picked up the bikini and tossed it back to Gibbs. "There, it can go back in your closet, boss."
"Thanks, Tony." He stood up. "At least I know she's happy."
"She is and she doesn't blame you," Kate's voice called. "It's not like it wasn't going to happen that day somehow. Better saving you than another pointless auto accident."
Gibbs smiled at that and it lasted most of the way home.
Speed looked at his new identity and the new phone. It had all the nice bells and whistles. His social security number was from the same state by the first three numbers. Everything was in there. He grinned at Tony and went to pop in on Horatio, finding Yelina in there petting Taps. "If you steal the house elf, you have to go pick out a new one. I'm not going back there." She smiled at that. He handed the packet to Horatio, getting a smile. "Gibbs wanted to talk to Kate so he arranged it."
"That's fine, Speed." He checked the number and put it into his phone, then texted it to the number that sent it to all the lab. "Make sure I fix the paperwork in the morning." He handed it back and Speed put what needed to go into his wallet. "Is Kate all right?"
"Just fine, H. She's not mad at him. We had a suddenly appearing former classmate too. He managed to blow himself up brewing an illegal potion after hours." Horatio smirked at that. "Heard about Toby?"
"Back then we still had an alumni newsletter. Did Danny get to the thug?"
"Yeah, and told him he wasn't a real man. Mac agreed he wouldn't arrest him while he helped those two kids of his but if it lasted any longer he was a goner. Mac got told he donated the bone marrow earlier today, he'll be leaving the country tomorrow."
"Good. One less dirtbag on our soil."
"They're going to let him escape?"
"No, we can get him back," Speed assured her. "Besides, technically he's still listed as dead. The Chief ME decided it wasn't enough to have a conversation with the dead guy who supposedly committed suicide." She groaned. "Exactly. So we'll be warning wherever he goes to watch out for him. Especially if they have a ministry since Danny's father told him."
"Mexico?" Horatio suggested.
"Probably as first stop." He yawned. "I'm tired."
"You should be. Go home."
"Sure." He popped home and curled up on his couch, secure and comfortable there. His new phone landed on the table in front of him but he was already asleep by then.
Horatio looked at Yelina. "We took some unorthodox shortcuts in Ray Jr.'s education, Yelina. I'm not going to lie. The day they broke in here, he skipped realms and the terrible trio taught him while in their teens. Before they were split up by college."
"Was that dangerous?"
"Slightly but now that he's trained, it can't happen again without specifically training himself to do that."
"Good. He'd better not." She leveled a look at him. "Is he considered fully trained?"
"He is. I made him take the Canadian equivalency exam and he did pass. He told them how and why. He's still under my careful watch however. What did he do this time?"
"Turned the person trying to sneak into his room into a turtle. I made him turn him back so we could call the police."
"Eric turned Rick into a fish, don't feel bad."
"No, Eric had an accident," he admitted. "He's like Willow but he doesn't practice and he doesn't use it. It's dormant in him."
"Rick said something about his sister?"
"Apparently. Eric nearly exploded the next time and we had to sedate him for an hour."
"I saw the nap. It's under control?" He nodded. "Good." She smiled at the house elf napping against his side. "He is adorable."
"He's a house elf."
"I read the books. Is he free like Dobby was?"
"Dobby wrong and bad," Taps said, waking up and looking at her. "Good house elves serve, like Taps does. Dobby *bad* and *wrong*!"
"Calm down, Taps, she doesn't understand," Horatio said quietly. The house elf slumped. "We'll never give you clothes." He nodded and smiled at him. "Can you get me another bottle of water?" He nodded and went to do that. "They were bred and born to do this, Yelina. This is what they want to do, what they feel they're right doing. There's a shortage of good homes at the moment as well."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. I only read those books."
"Taps understand. Missus Yelina is not a witch, not raised with having house elves. Missus Yelina will learn." He looked at Horatio. "Taps clean the bathroom?" he asked hopefully.
"Go clean Ryan's place but be careful. He's a wandless wizard. He might have things in progress." He nodded and disappeared with a snap of his fingers. "That's their favorite thing to do, clean." He sipped his water.
Willow squeaked when the thing appeared next to her, staring at it. "You're not the demon I was trying to call to eat my keeper."
"No, I is being Taps, the house elf. Master Horatio sir said to come clean here."
"Oh, okay. Sorry, I've only seen one of you."
"It is being all right. Taps is used to strange Americans now. Taps is being petted by those who aren't wrong and all sorts of strange customs." He went into the kitchen and frowned. "No messes."
"No, Ryan's a clean person by nature." Ryan walked in and looked at her. "Hi," she said with a sweet grin.
Ryan looked at the little creature. "You are?"
"Oh, you're a house elf. Man, the thing they had on the movie doesn't look a thing like you." He patted him on the head. "Clean up the magic ingredients in front of Willow, put them back properly, and vacuum please." He pulled her up to look at her. "You can't summon something to eat me. It's wrong. That would make you a bad Willow again." She pouted. "It was an accident that I left you handcuffed."
"No buts. Try it again and I'm bringing you back to Angel. Or worse, sending you to Spike." He had heard all about them through Speed, who had talked to Aiden.
"Fine," she said with a pout. "You still left me handcuffed."
"It was still an accident." He sat her down and looked at the house elf. "Can you do laundry tonight?" He nodded. "Thanks." Ryan took off his shirt. "I spilled sucrose solution and something that's like superglue." The house elf cooed and took it to clean it. He looked at her. "You're being bad."
He held up a finger. "You're being bad. You promised Nick and them that you were going to stay good. I think you need to meditate and find your center again. Before I have to get in on the bindings." She pouted but went to do that. He tightened the watcher he had on her magic and went to make himself something for dinner. The house elf came out and washed his hands before taking the food from him and making it himself. "Okay, I'll go read." He went to do that. Taps brought him his dinner and a bottle of beer then went back to doing laundry. "Hey, Taps, is it hard or expensive to get one of you and upkeep you?"
"No, sir. House elfs are being kept at the house elf shelter when they are being given clothes." He came out. "There was many house elfs at shelter in Britain. Taps was there for nearly three whole years."
Taps hung his head. "Taps was a bad house elf. He only did seven loads of laundry one day and dishes. Not scrub toilet or bathtub every day like Master wanted. Taps was given shirt for it." He sniffled, looking at him. "Taps made many baby clothes at shelter but Taps wanted to serve another family. This is strange American family but Taps will serve faithfully. Would Master sir like Taps to scrub bathroom again? Walls are being smelly with chemicals."
"I bleach it."
"Taps uses natural cleaners but much stronger."
"Go ahead if it makes you happy," he assured him with a smile. "Is there a shelter in Miami?"
"One in LA, one in Chicago and one in New York, Master sir."
"I'll have to think about that. Do you guys eat a lot or cost a lot to rescue?"
"No, Master sir. Small fee that goes toward cloth so freed house elfs can serve someone while waiting for families. House elfs live on scraps. We very cheap to keep."
"But most of you guys like to clean?" Taps nodded so hard his ears flapped. Ryan smiled. "I'll definitely have to think about it. Would they mind serving me since I'm a chaos wizard?"
"No, master sir. Most of us not care as long as masters or missuses is being good to house elfs. House elfs only want to serve. As long as they're not wrong people who touch us bad ways."
"I'd never do that. I don't even touch Willow that way. Thank you, Taps, and you did a good job with dinner." Taps beamed and went to finish the shirt and dry it so he could make sure the stains were gone, then he went to scrub the bathroom and take that nasty bleach smell away.
"House elves are for rich wizards," Willow said patiently. "Xander's probably got three or four."
"Hey, Taps, how many house elves does Dumass have?" he called.
"Fifteen or twenty at all houses." He came out wearing a fume mask and long rubber gloves. "House elfs is not being helping with unicorns though. They are sacred to us." He went back to his cleaning, whistling happily.
Willow moaned, hiding her face. "He's collecting house elves now instead of comics. They've got to be bored."
"Not with the size of his library," Ryan said dryly. "The castle is bigger than the station and it's got a joined tower system of libraries that's got more books than the Miami Public Library system." She whimpered at that. "They've been collecting books for a long time." She shook her head and went back to her meditation while he ate and thought.
Ryan walked into Horatio's office and shut the door. "Horatio, is it wrong of me to want a house elf of my own?"
"Probably not. If they'd serve you I don't see why not."
"Taps cleaned my shower the moment I got out. The whole house is so spotless my OCD is happy. I only had to shift two things back into position and I had dinner made for me. It's better than a wife and I wouldn't have to give out sex."
Horatio smiled. "I'll find out where the shelter is for you."
"Thank you. Oh, I've got to send Willow to see her friends before she drives me nuts. She tried to summon a demon to eat me at work yesterday."
"Bring her here, Ryan. Let me have a talk with her."
"Thank you!" He summoned her, making her squeal as she fell onto the couch. "Tell me where the one in LA or Chicago is since I might have to end up there?"
"Just don't go alone. Even Gibbs nearly came home with one."
"Sure." He went to consider that and see how much it really cost to keep a house elf. Speed should know.
Horatio glared at Willow, making her shrink down. "What would have happened if the demon had gotten loose in the station?"
She whimpered. "I wasn't going to let it."
"It's clear you're not as reformed as you think," he said patiently. "I cannot let you harm Ryan, Willow, or anyone else."
"No. You're a present danger to Miami," he said firmly. She slumped again, looking down and nodding. "I'm going to talk to a few people to see what we are going to do with you this time. You are not to move." He pulled his wand and stuck her there. "Am I understood?"
"Good." He sat back and called Danny and Don to talk to them. Alex had been too soft on her the last time. Friendship was like that. He watched her pout but he didn't care. She was endangering his staff and his city. It was not allowed. Tony suggested a boot camp situation but he pointed out she probably couldn't make it through. Besides, she didn't need to learn how to hunt better, just needed a heavier hand. Danny said to send him to Chicago after a brief absence. That Spike and Sirius were waiting to deal with her for a bit. She'd be surrounded by kids half her age who were twice as powerful at their weakest and could serve as a good lesson. Horatio nodded at that. He looked at her. "You're going into the custody of Spike and Sirius for a few weeks," he said calmly. "While there, they will drill you in control and you will be helping them with their students who share the same lack of impulse control as you do." She opened her mouth and he froze her. "Tough, Willow Rosenburg. I cannot allow such a menace to stay in Miami. Off you go to Chicago." He sent her that way with a flick of his wand then put it back. He sent a text message to Ryan to tell him what had been decided and got back a 'thank you' and a 'can you go to the shelter with me'. He sent back a 'no'. Then he got back to work.
Ryan frowned at the last one and looked at Speed. "Are you sure I can't go alone?"
"Do you need three hundred house elves?"
"No. One would be really great though." He looked around. "Think I could bring Eric?"
"He'll stop you from bringing home ten or twelve," Calleigh said as she walked in. "Why do you want one?"
"Because I woke up this morning, my house was perfectly clean, everything but my shampoo and my brush were in place, and I had breakfast waiting on me. It's like having a wife but I don't have to put out for sex or buy anniversary presents. My OCD purred in happiness because Taps cleaned without using the bleach but even with a swab and a microscope I couldn't find anything on the bathtub." She rolled her eyes at that. "Sorry!"
"Actually, a house elf might help your OCD calm down," Speed admitted. "You will have to teach them about guns. We had to with Taps when he found Don's." That got a nod and a shrug. "Okay. Ask someone else to go with you. I've had my heart-wrenching moment of the year already." He turned puppy eyes on Calleigh.
She looked at Ryan and shook her head. "No, I'd come home with one or two of my own. I did the last time I went to the pound."
He slumped and went to find Eric. "Can you go to the shelter with me?"
"Like getting a pet?" Eric asked. "Would your cleaning thing allow that?"
"Like the big, floppy eared one that Speed has now and then. He cleaned better than I can."
Eric patted him on the back. "We'll go after work," he promised. Ryan smiled and went back to work. A few hours later he looked at Speed. "Should I worry?"
"It's pitiful. The pitiful is so strong it seeps into your bones. Gibbs nearly cracked and brought home a house elf. H nearly cracked and brought one home." Eric shivered. "Just be strong and remind him he doesn't need more than one."
"Sure. Thanks." He'd keep that in mind.
Don was stopped in the corridor of the station by his cult member. "What's up? New problems?"
"More a question of faith," he said quietly. "I know some have asked you to finish their transformation."
"And I'm nearly ready to do that. I've studied up on it and I've done all the backgrounds, all that stuff." The officer smiled. "What else was going to be asked?"
"The most glorious spell has come to us, one that would allow us to fully serve you, Father. We were wondering if it was wrong."
Don blinked. Then held up a finger. "Come to dinner with me and Danny, bring it." He nodded, going off to tell the priests that. He went off on a mental blue streak. His cult had picked up the pregnancy spell somewhere.
Stella's 'well, that would allow them to avoid women' made it worse. He went to sulk at his desk thanks to that.
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