Don looked at the spell, then at the man in front of him. "Okay, after careful discussion with Danny and others with certain gifts, the only ones who could pull it off would be those like us."
"Those with the pointy things?" he suggested since they were in public. Danny nodded, sipping his beer. "There are a few of us within the order."
"Okay. They'd have to do it all on their own and I'd *insist* on medical people to take charge in case something happened. So far, this has only been used on animals and a few humans."
"I understand and that is reasonable. But it would not bother you?"
Don looked at him. "The very thought bothers me," he admitted. "But I also know why certain same-sex couples would go to this length."
"Are you planning on trying it?" he asked hopefully.
"We've agreed, it'll be a long time before there's toddlers in our lives," Danny noted patiently. "With our lives, it's too dangerous at the moment."
"That, again, is reasonable." He smiled at them. "I'll bring these points back to the highers. Are there any other precautions?"
"Um, yeah, the whole press thing? Can't advertise it."
"We would keep it a mystery of the greatest secrecy."
Don and Danny both grinned. "Then I can't stop you from trying it," Don pointed out. "It's still going to creep me out, just the thought makes me never wanna have sex again, but if they want it that badly I can't stop them."
He nodded. "It is odd, it took our high priest many nights of thought before he was comfortable with even the option of that design." He smiled gently. "Could I get a more personal favor? I can't find a good blue suit, Father."
"You try my guy?"
"I have but I come out looking like a school teacher."
Danny grinned. "Hilfiger." The man beamed and nodded. "Smaller shoulders on the jackets. More narrow in the waist." The man wrote that down. "Any other help we can give?"
"Would Tony be willing to help us shop again?"
"You can write him. I'm not sure how his schedule is coming. Right now his job is really odd. They've got a temporary director because theirs went insane and all sorts of stuff."
"It happens I suppose. What of your boss?"
"My boss? We've handled it between us. It's all good again. You guys leave her alone."
"As you will it," he agreed, smiling gently at him. "How is the changeling's change going?"
"She's doing okay. Your guys with the pointy sticks see the game?"
"He did and he cheered most heartily for you both," he said proudly, looking at Danny.
"I was deep into my case of the day," he admitted dryly. "My replacement was Don's sister."
"Ah, we thought her familiar."
"Taught her everything I knew way back in school," Danny said with a wicked grin. "Including letting her steal books off me. She was the evil woman in the house." That got a quiet giggle. "Anything else we can do for you guys tonight?"
"Well, there is one problem." He looked at Don. "One was not caught. He is in Miami. We cannot give them proof. We can't prove he's done anything. We only suspect but he is one who does shoot off his mouth about women and their inferiority."
"This weekend, text me," Don ordered. That got a happy, beaming grin for that privilege. "I'll get one of the guys from Miami up so you guys can talk about him." That got a nod and he made a note of that as well. "Anything else? If not, I've gotta go spoil Mac. He's asscheek deep in paperwork again."
"No, I thank you for your time, Father. And you as well, Protector."
"It's nothin'. You guys know you can come to us with the big things," Danny reminded him. "Just not when I'm in the middle of a test." That got a happy wiggle and a nod. "Good. Then we're gonna go pull Mac outta the office for dinner. You have a good night. Don, get the check?"
"Why is it my turn?"
"I got the last seven."
"You've got money."
Danny stared at him. "You brought home *what*?"
"Point. Let me get the check," he said, going to find their waitress and doing that. He grinned and waved. Danny smiled and nodded before he left too. Don walked him outside and down the street together, looking like two friends. "That went okay."
"It did," Danny agreed. "Even though it's still odd to you, you're doing pretty good."
"Thanks." He grinned at him. "You really taught my sister demonology?"
"Yup. More like we accidentally left the books out and she taught herself, but we did fill in and solve a problem she was having. Your sister's got a crap hand at drawing diagrams. She nearly got the school eaten twice."
"Huh. I should tell Ma on her."
Danny nudged him, shaking his head. "She's over it now."
"Maybe. Did you notice her ex is missing?"
"I had. I was wondering if he and Sonny were on the same plane to Mexico, with a change in Miami." Don smirked at him. "Hey, Mac only said he was safe in New York while he was helping those two kids of his. Anywhere else?" He cackled. "Totally fair game."
"Cool." He nudged him back. "Buy me an ice cream?"
"Sure, I'll buy you an ice cream," he promised, taking him to do that. He spoiled Don horribly but it was making him happy and a happy Flack gave better blowjobs later.
"I heard that," Don said as he licked. "We'll see. You could ask."
Danny leaned closer. "I'm having thoughts of you, me, your ass opening, and your throat bein' filled," he whispered. Don shivered. "Sound good?"
"So good," he moaned. He let Danny have a lick as they went to pick up Mac. "Think we should treat him first?"
"We should, his birthday's tomorrow and he's still hiding it from us."
"How do you read him so well?"
"Not hard. His shields are down slightly on my side. I'll show you tonight." They headed back inside and down to the CSI section, going to pounce Mac and make him give up on the paperwork for the night. They found one of the female ADAs in there purring at him and smiling with her shirt halfway unbuttoned. "Yo, Mac, drinks?" Danny offered from the doorway, lounging in it.
"Give me ten?"
"Of course." He grinned at the ADA. "Hey. Which case? Am I going to have to testify?"
"No, not about a case. More an FYI," she admitted, gathering up her things and smiled at him. "Dinner next week to talk about the upcoming one, Taylor?"
"If I'm free." She smiled and nodded, leaving it there.
"Fat chance in hell," Don assured him as he walked in. "You charge a hell of a lot." Mac blushed at that, shaking his head. "Put down the pen or else I'm going to have to let Danny have the rest of my ice cream."
"Why?" he asked cautiously. Danny obscured the windows and closed the door, getting that too. Don handed him his ice cream cone and then strolled over, undoing his collar and loosening his tie. "Don, we're at work."
"No one can see. As long as you don't scream, it's all good." He kissed him and then slid to his knees, undoing the tight belt. "Someone's gained some weight too I see." Mac moaned and leaned back, letting him do whatever he wanted. "Good boy, Mac." He bent his head to tease and play with him.
Danny licked the cone slowly, watching him. "So much better than paperwork, right?" Mac looked at him then swallowed. "You know, the more times we have to come rescue you from the office, the more he's going to treat you like our toy." He took another long, slow lick up it. Someone knocked on the door behind him. "In a meeting."
"About what?" Lindsey called. "Is there a case going against me?"
"No," Mac called, hoping his voice didn't sound like he was panting for air, because he was. Don was just too good at sucking on him. "Personal stuff."
"Oh, okay. I'm done with the Gibbons case."
"Leave it there, I'll get it for him in a few," Danny called, taking another lick and smirking at Mac. "See what naughty things happen when you do paperwork all night?"
Mac nodded frantically, stroking over Don's head. He was mentally chanting not to grab his hair, not to thrust too hard, not to choke him.
Don looked up at him. "You're noisy tonight. Grab on. Danny does," he said dryly, going back to it with a slurp. Mac's right hand was put into his hair and it broke him. His hair was carded through by the fingers and his head pushed down, directing him how Mac wanted it this time. The hips lost control soon after, thrusting up, giving him a sore throat but he could handle that. He swallowed and Mac let out a strangled noise, coming into his throat. Don coughed a bit but swallowed. He pulled up and licked him clean before putting him back. "We all go home on time unless it's a bad case," he said patiently, making Mac look at him. "Even you."
"Even me," he agreed, panting slightly now. "I'm sorry. I knew you went to dinner with one of your cult members."
"We did. He had some questions," Don admitted, leaning on his thighs. "Things like that spell getting into the open and if it'd be okay. We talked about all that stuff and we're cool." Mac smiled and ran his fingers through the dark hair again. "You ready to go eat?"
"I don't think I can move."
"If you slept at night it might help," Danny noted. "You sleep less than I do, Mac. On your couch." He groaned but got up and walked over to his couch, letting them tuck him in for a nap. "We'll be here with dinner when you get up." Mac nodded and settled in, letting Don's mind soothe him into a nap. He needed a nap. He deserved a nap after that sort of cell-bursting orgasm. Don came over to sit above his head for a few minutes, making sure he truly fell asleep.
Danny smiled once Don moved to sit in the corner and read, opening the door to get the folder, finding Lindsey standing there, frozen. "Someone hex you?" he asked blandly.
"You... Mac.... He..." She swallowed. "Don?"
"He's reading. We were talking. Your imagination is running wild due to lack of sleep," he said slowly and clearly. "If you don't believe me, go ask Sheldon how bad lack of sleep is on you." She nodded and ran that way, going to talk to him. He grabbed the folder and sat down behind the desk to look at it, frowning some. "Damn it."
"What?" Don asked quietly.
"I don't think she ran this right. I don't want to hand this to him when he wakes up."
"You're not the supervisor and you can't hand Stella files," Don reminded him. This had happened before and Stella had chewed him a new one about usurping her authority. Mac had backed her up. Danny carefully put it in the middle of the desk and leaned back in the chair, dialing for dinner. Stella walked in and Don smiled. "He's sleepy."
"I can tell." She smiled at them. "Lindsey's nearly crying, Danny."
"She stood there. I obscured things but she must've been listening pretty closely to hear it."
"Yeah, Mac's not that noisy. Is that her case?"
"Yup, but if I hand it to you, you'll get mad and I'll have to defend myself again," Danny said dryly. Stella raised an eyebrow. "I'm not sure she ran the right tests."
"Crap." She came over to look, frowning. "Okay, one I can see. One I ...can't." She looked at Mac, then at him. "I don't wanna usurp."
"Me either," Danny admitted. "I didn't the last time." His phone rang and he listened. "Yup, that's us. Taylor's office at CSI. Yup. That's fine. That card work?" He grinned. "Even better. Thanks." He hung up. "Our chinese place takes text orders."
"Wonderful news," Don agreed happily. He looked at Stella. "Will it endanger the case?"
"Probably not." She glanced at Mac, then took it and went to check on Lindsey. "Hey." The girl gave her a scared look. "Whatever you think you heard, forget it." She nodded, swallowing. "Really."
"How... a trio? I thought you and Mac and...."
Stella shrugged. "Your assumptions aren't going to be verified today, Lindsey. Not in the least." She groaned at that. "Drop it."
"Yes, Stella. Is that my case?"
"Since Mac's napping I decided I'd save him some paperwork for tomorrow by signing off on it. I wanted to ask you about two of the tests before I did that."
"Sure, we all know you're second in command in the labs. Unlike the time that Danny got onto my case about a case."
"Yeah, but he was right," Sheldon reminded her. She glared at him. "Wasn't he?"
"This time I wanted to make sure I'm reading what you did right," Stella offered more gently. Lindsey sighed and nodded, walking her back to her desk to go over it with her. She explained why she had done those unorthodox tests and why their results should be considered valid.
Sheldon rolled his eyes. "Hopefully this won't go bad." He looked toward the office and texted Don that he didn't know Mac had a frosted windows setting for his office. The windows cleared like they had only been fogged up. He smiled and went back to work. Danny and Don were going over case files together while Mac napped and they guarded him jealously. Because no one was going to wake Mac up before he was good and ready to wake up with those two guarding him.
Horatio smiled as the plane disembarked, looking at the man coming off. "Sonny Sassone," he said plainly. "Welcome to Miami." He looked horrified. "I believe you know why we're all here?"
"But... No new warrant."
"Oh yes, a new warrant."
"You're not helping your children and you're not in New York, Sonny. Next time, take a direct flight." He waved the officers forward. "If you would please cuff Mr. Sassone on homicide, corruption, bribery, and RICO charges, gentlemen." They nodded, taking him then and there. Then they waited for the other one getting off. It was a regular fun event at the airport. They got the other guy who was jumping bail and drove them back to the station, Horatio sending back happy thoughts to Danny and Don since he could feel that Mac was taking a nap, finally. That man never slept. They got back there and they were taken to interrogation rooms while their fingerprints were checked, just in case. Horatio looked at Sonny, smirking slightly. "Are our accommodations better or worse than New York's, Sonny?"
"Better. You've got sun in yours." He grimaced. "That rat told you where I'd be?"
"No, Mac told me where you'd be. New York and Miami work *very* closely together on many things. Mac's promise was that you would be safe from him while you were helping your two children and that was all he promised. Since you've helped them and you're not in New York, you're fair game." Sonny groaned. "We will have it noted that you recently underwent a medical procedure so you won't be in general population for a while, but that's as nice as we can make it."
Speed walked in and handed over a file. "He's still listed as dead but there's a note saying that there's evidence he faked his death and the body in his grave isn't his. The Chief ME's note said he refused to reopen the case. The arrest warrant was gotten through the judge with the proof that he was alive. Which was taken after he got out of surgery."
"You," Sonny sneered.
"Yeah, me," he agreed happily, beaming at him. "Ain't life grand? I was really dead there for a bit. You didn't even manage that." Sonny gaped. "By the way, while you're in Miami, I'm going to make sure you have a nice stay. Just because you tried to implicate Danny to Taylor." He moved closer. "He didn't even have to tell us. We heard it from Taylor himself." Sonny moaned, he knew that had been a bad play once he had played it. "Exactly, Sonny. Feel really lucky Tony's not down here tonight."
"Why? Gonna miss his dick up your ass?"
"No. I can get anything I want," he said smugly, smirking at him. "You may think you get the bitches but I've got a coworkers who gets them by the handful every night, three and four times a night, Sonny. Hell, I get at least two a night whenever I wanna go out. All that and any dick I want." He went pale. "I'm sure you'll enjoy being the big protector," he cooed, pinching him on the cheek. "I'm sure some little boy will just *love* having you do him for the rest of your very short life. Because they will *all* know that you tried to implicate a clean cop." He stood up again. "Or maybe they'll send you somewhere that you won't have human contact for twenty-three hours out of the day. That way you don't have to worry about retaliation." Sonny shuddered at that. "I know, it's a tough thing being a Tanglewood boy, but yay. Just think of all your boys you'll be seeing." Horatio snickered at that. "Seriously. Mac brought down almost all of Tanglewood." He patted Sonny on the head, nearly getting bitten for it. "Naughty bitch. I don't know where that mouth has been." He strolled off. "I'm going to call Danny and have phone sex with him. Have fun in lockup tonight."
"That was cruel."
"Speed enjoys so few things," Horatio noted dryly. "We let him have the happy moments so he has some lightness in his gloom." He looked at the officer coming in. "Confirmed?"
"Absolutely, sir, and New York is already salivating for this one and the other one."
"Good. Set them in the nicer accommodations. Mr. Sassone here donated bone marrow to his child the other day. He's post-op."
"That's fine, sir. We can stick him in solitary." He hauled him up and saw the wince, checking his shoulder. "I can lead you by the other arm," he noted professionally, walking him off on the other side. They wouldn't let him have any chance of calling abuse on them.
Horatio smirked and sent that back to Danny and Don as well, getting happy thoughts from Tony too.
Tony cackled and saluted McGee with his coffeemug. "Another one for the good guys. Horatio just sent a message saying they got Sassone while he was running for the border."
Gibbs smirked over at him. "Can they hold him?"
"Yup. Mac got a warrant through a judge. The judge thought it was nice they gave him enough time to protect his kids." Gibbs smirked harder at that. "So yeah, and they got a bail jumper too." McGee chuckled at that. Tony hit himself on the head. "Probie, look up past arrests, see if he had any and who bailed him out."
"On it," he agreed happily.
Gibbs nodded. "That's a good idea. That's usually family or close friends."
"Or girlfriends or boyfriends," Tony agreed. "Real friends are in the cell with you."
"Two days in the brig for drunk and disorderly. Our private was singing off key as he walked back to his barracks with two friends. They all got two days and reprimanded, plus the crap jobs according to the report. Stated just like that, boss."
"I'd have made them dig a lot of latrines, preferably while they had the hangovers," Gibbs agreed. "Track the friends. See if they're still alive."
"They are, but they're deployed," McGee said a few minutes later. "One's in Afghanistan, one's in Japan. There's a note here saying the one in Japan left his wife and young daughter here. She's at Norfolk with her family according to dependent records."
"She'd probably know him," Tony agreed, getting up and grabbing his bag and gear. "Let's go talk to her."
McGee nodded and printed out the file, heading after him. "I'm driving."
"If you must," Tony sighed. "At least we won't wreck."
"Yay," Tony said as the elevator opened, nodding at Ziva as she limped off. She had been haunting the office pretending to not be injured for the last few days. "Did Ducky threaten to spank you for coming back early? He did that to me twice this year alone." They got on and headed out.
She growled and hobbled over to her desk. "He won't sign me off either."
"Ducky is a man of incredible sense," Gibbs agreed dryly. Abby came bouncing up and stood at parade rest in front of his desk, drawing his attention. "Good news?"
"Mediocre news but I've got a date tonight." She beamed. "DNA is back in," she said, handing over that report. "It's him, it matched, no other samples. Hair on the body was llama. Gray llama. Peruvian gray llama if I want to get specific. Fungus under his nails were mushrooms, garden variety like you'd get from a store pre-chopped. Do you think the pink thong with the black vinyl skirt or the blue, sparkly thong with the black velvet skirt tonight?"
Gibbs frowned at her. "I doubt he'd do more than blush at either of them," he noted dryly. "Ask Tony."
"I can't, he's gone. Maybe I should call Stella and ask her opinion."
"Well, at least she's female," Gibbs noted dryly. "Wear something that won't make him blush. Is the ballistics done?"
"Yup. No match to anything anywhere that I could find. All the tissue samples are done and back with Ducky, who's having a laugh riot in his lab because he's listening to a comedy CD. Someone sent him a Blue Collar Comedy Tour cd and he's lovin' it. Are you sure the pink one wouldn't go okay? I mean, it's got a bat-cat on it and everything."
"Sorry, Gibbs." She shrugged. "Not like I've got a girlfriend here I can ask," she pouted. "I don't want to traumatize Harry but I do want him to gape in awe and pounce me, maybe with handcuffs and maybe without, but I am hoping for a good pounce again. Last time on the grass at the castle was really cool and the time in the library was great too, but I'm looking forward to a good, long pounce and then a cuddle. That's why I'm going for the thong instead of the normal panties and shorter skirt. Harry likes me in the gothic velvet vampiress look. Then again, Alex has known some. Harry even had pictures and he found me a dress just like Druscilla's. He said she was a flake, but she was apparently a great vamp. Hmm, maybe the red thong and the new purple skirt...."
"Go text Stella," he said, waving a hand. "I didn't need that mental image." She nodded, bouncing back down there to do that, then get dressed in what she suggested. Stella was nearly as good a shopping buddy as Kate had been; even though she didn't really like the goth stuff she helped her a lot.
Gibbs put down his head for a moment. "Why didn't I retire?"
"Because the country needs you," Ziva reminded him, sounding patient. "Can't I help?"
"Find out where Peruvian gray llamas come from in the Norfolk area."
"Yes, Gibbs." She got to work on her computer while he pulled his mind back together again. Because even she was traumatized by the mental images Abby presented.
Mac woke up and most of the lab was dark. He sat up slowly, rubbing his eyes. "What time is it?"
Don patted his hair gently, smiling at him. "Nearly two. Your dinner's cold but it's chinese and in the fridge." Mac nodded at that, letting out another yawn. "Wanna go home?"
"Already sacked out on the couch. Stella drug him off to give her wrists a workout." Mac smiled at that. "She's sore from the body earlier."
"I was too." He stood up and put away the emergency blanket, straightening up. He looked at the folder, flipping through it. "Stella signed off?"
"Yeah. They had a talk about eavesdropping too. Since you were so cutely cuddled up with the blankie and all," he teased. Mac frowned at him. "Come on, let's get you home. It's your turn to put up with the noisy one." He led him out, taking him out to where they apparated from, getting them both home. "Horatio called. He arrested Sonny in the airport when he got off for his layover, plus another guy who was jumping bail." Mac smiled at that. "Need a shower?"
"No, I'll take one in the morning, after you've all gone to work since I'm off." He yawned. "I don't know why I'm so tired."
"Because you never sleep." He walked him into the bedroom and got him undressed, tucking him in then doing himself so he could snuggle between Mac and Stella. "Night."
"Night, Don. Was Danny curled up under the lamp in the living room?"
"Yup. He was basking." He snuggled in and Mac smiled, letting himself be used as a pillow. Stella sniffled and moved closer, glueing herself to his back with one arm over Mac's waist. "Night, Stell."
"Night," she mumbled, blowing a kiss. "Danny?"
"Danny!" she called more loudly. He trudged in and curled up behind her, their backs together. She smiled and went to sleep again.
Mac and Don shared a smile. Danny hadn't woken up but he did respond to orders. They snuggled in, Don shifting so he could put one hand on Danny's waist over Stella's hip. It was all good then. Mac lasted a few more minutes, admiring the prettiness of the trio in his arms. They did look very good together. Stella thumped him on the head for thinking too loud and he quit thinking, letting her go back to sleep and drifting off again.
Danny sat up with a yawn, looking out the window. "Oh, shit."
Don groaned and gave him a hard shove. "No swearing in bed unless I'm buried balls- deep in your ass."
"Don, what time is it?" Danny asked patiently. "I can't see the clock." The sun was way too high, he knew it had to be near ten at least.
"Glasses?" Stella mumbled. She looked then sat up with a swear, heading into the bathroom. "We're late!"
Danny and Don trudged after her, heading to shower too. Don got a look at the clock and winced. It was nearly noon. He even did the responsible thing and called his boss. "Sorry, alarm wasn't set, boss." He listened to her tirade. "Sorry! No, I'm not at home. I'm with my friend. My watch wasn't set." He hung up on the rest of it. He could always claim the call was dropped. He climbed into the shower, taking the brush from Danny's hand to do his own back, and his since Danny was glaring. A morning Danny was not a happy Danny. They all knew this. There was a reason why Danny got the coffee *first*. Even before Gibbs when the whole group was together.
"I heard that," Danny snarled.
Stella hugged him from behind. "It was kinda funny when you growled at Gibbs and he backed away from the coffee," she assured him. "We thought it was cute."
"I don't do cute."
"Especially not before coffee," she agreed, helping wash his front. Don got her back for her and then she got his front while Danny did his hair. They finally made it out and to the closet, staring at the clothes. "Crap," she muttered. "Where's mine?"
"And mine," Don sighed. "Didn't Taps just do laundry?"
Danny looked and opened the other closet, finding their things. "In here." He pulled down clothes for himself, calling Sheldon, grunting at him. "Overslept," he said at the cautious question. "Heading for coffee then there now." He hung up and finished pulling on his briefs, then his pants. Then a shirt, but Don took it from him, earning a death glare.
"Mine," he protested. He handed him one of his shirts and Don put that one on. Stella finished pulling on a t-shirt and her pants, then sat down to put on socks and boots. She went to make the coffee before Danny bit someone this morning. She wouldn't put it past him. She handed him the first cup when he walked in, getting a grunt and a nod while he gulped. Don got the second and she got the last one, then they left with mental pats to Mac's mind.
Mac woke up and blinked at the clock. "Someone's going to say something," he moaned, getting up and going to take a more leisurely shower. He'd miss his showering helpers, but they did have to work.
Stella walked in first. "Not one word," she told Sheldon and Lindsey. "Where am I?"
"In the field," Sheldon said, handing over a slip. She nodded and headed to get her gear and go off. Danny walked in, not looking like he was happy this morning. "Oooh, Danny, coffeemaker in the break room is set up, all it needs is water and turned on. Coffee machine is down again." He handed him a slip. "We just got two calls back to back. You'll have Don and Stella will have Maka."
"Yay," he said flatly, going to get some more coffee and his case, heading out to his call. He grunted at Don as he got there, finishing up before he walked onto the scene. Then he turned and puked.
"Danny, you all right?" He shook his head, getting more sick against the side of the car. "Come on, let's go sit in the car." He walked him back over there, watching as he got sick again and again. "Danny, did you have anything besides coffee?" He shook his head, finally not heaving. "You sit there. Let me call Stella." He did that. "Stella, it's Don. Danny just arrived and puked badly. Yeah, like all over the side of the scene, but not on it. I don't know. He finished his coffee, got out of the car without it, took twenty steps across the street and ran for it." He looked at Danny, testing his forehead. "Pale, clammy, and sweaty." He smiled. "That's fine." He hung up, pointing at one of the patrol guys. "You, drive Messer back to the CSI base, let Hawkes look at him. We're getting Monroe. It'll be a few minutes." They nodded at that and the patrol officer came over to drive Danny back there. Don sent him a worried mental nudge but Danny's mind was blank. He tried again, hearing a faint echo. He sent one to Mac, who had the most experience with potiony things. Something was not right.
Mac walked into the station and confiscated the coffeemaker he had called Adam, their other Trace tech, to confiscate. He headed to do the testing himself, magically, because Adam had already done the more mundane one. He found what he was looking for and sent a question at Tony, who sent back that he'd call Greg. Danny did all their potions. Mac headed out with the reports, finding Sheldon giving Danny worried looks. "It's not permanent but it is a poisoning," he said quietly, handing it over to him. "It's blocked the link as well."
"How?" He looked at him. "I didn't think..."
"Some things can still impede the skill."
"Oh. I didn't know that." He blinked, looking at the papers. "Who's going to come help?"
"They called someone in Vegas with a clue and a cauldron. He'll be calling soon." Hawkes gave him an 'go on, tell me' look. "Sanders."
"I'd never have guessed. I thought he was just strange."
"He is," Mac agreed with a small grin. He heard the stomping footsteps and got out of the way. "Thank you, Greg."
Greg glared at him. "I work graveyard," he noted dryly. "Remember that? Please?" Sheldon handed over the paperwork and he looked then he groaned. "We had a case of this. Someone in Philip's first parish tried it." He pulled out two things and mixed them. "Is he allergic to anything?"
"Not medicine. He's knocked out but not from this."
"Thanks." He got down beside his head, nudging him gently. "Danny? It's Greg." Danny moaned and he gagged at the stench on his breath. "Are we sure that's all this is?"
"Coffee's in my lab, Greg. I did the tests as I knew them and Adam did his. It's cheap coffee. He had one at home and then one here. Then he nearly destroyed a scene."
"Let me test it first," Greg decided, going to do that. He nodded at the tech he ran into in there. "Hey, Adam."
"Greg?" He turned to watch him walk. "What are you doing here? Don't you still work under Grissom?" He'd have heard if they were getting such a great tech usually.
"Yup." He grinned. "Here to do some of the odder tests since some of the herbal and venom poisons won't show up from coffee."
"How did you get here?"
He looked at him and grinned. "National secret." Adam sighed and walked off. "Sorry. Ask Mac."
"He doesn't give out information," he called back. Something was very definitely going on here. Mac hadn't given them good answers when Danny had suddenly appeared injured that one afternoon. Now this. And how had Mac known that Danny had been poisoned with the coffee? Or how many he'd had at home? Well, that last one made him pause and think. Then he shuddered. No, he couldn't imagine Mac and Danny together, he wasn't like that. He didn't care if they were but he wasn't like that and he did not want to have those thoughts. Especially not about his boss. The only scarier thought was that Gibbs guy when he had shown up for a case and any of them together. He went back to his lab, making notes on what he knew so far. He would figure this mystery out soon. After all, he was one of the top lab techs in the country. That's why Mac had hired him.
Greg came back a half-hour later. "Venom as well." He finished mixing the antidote and slowly made Danny drink it, even though it tasted vile. "He's lucky, Mac. He's got natural immunity because of the changing stuff," he offered quietly. Stella walked in. "You okay?"
"I didn't have any of the coffee this morning from here. Danny was still at his glaring and grunting phase."
"Yeah, well, you're all going to hate me but no stimulants for forty-eight hours, just in case, and no raising his blood pressure any." Danny groaned at that. "Sorry, man. Can't help it." He smiled at him. "Feeling less sick?"
"No, the medicine tasted worse than the coffee."
"Yeah, that happens," he noted dryly. "Don't puke it up."
"Don't mention it then."
"Sure, I can avoid that subject. How's the dragons?"
Danny moaned and flipped in the other direction. "Ask me later when I'm not sick."
"Sure." He stood up and closed his bag, looking at Mac. "I'm finding you guys a healer."
"We have one through the union but I didn't even think about it, Greg. I'm sorry."
"No, it's all right. I'm trained to do this just as much as he would be." He patted him on the arm. "For now, my wife is waiting." He headed off again, going back to bed. She grunted inquisitively. "Someone tried to poison Danny in New York." She growled but he cuddled her. "I mixed the antidote. Someone's in deep do-do." She smiled and went back to sleep. He was almost asleep when his phone went off. He answered it with a surly, "I'm not on call, Grissom." He listened to the rundown and groaned. "First, calm him down. Second, take his wand. Third, call Penn." He hung up and snuggled back in, getting comfortable while his boss did as ordered. Grissom was a smart and kind man, he wouldn't make him give up his precious sleep to go deal with a drunk wizard who was hurling colors at the walls. That was what they had an overlord for.
Mac watched the security tapes again. "I can't get a good image of the person," he complained to Stella. "No fingerprints either."
She glanced around. "Mac, I don't want to mention it, but...."
Mac shook his head. "She wasn't in the building when it was put together and didn't go near there. Her first call got her sent at seven, before she got here." Stella nodded, leaving it there. "I'm more worried that it's one of Flack's cult and they wanted to get Danny for some other reason." They shared a look. "Besides, the figure looks male from behind." He let her see.
She nodded once. "I know who that is." She casually strolled off, going to the detective's side. One of them saw her and gave the room a nervous look. "Can we talk?" she asked with a sweet smile. The man shook his head and jumped up, trying to run. Unfortunately, Don was on his other side. "Thanks, Don."
"This who set it up?"
"Yeah, noticed the shirt in the video. Only he's got that ugly shirt." She twisted the guy's ear as she walked him off, making him howl and thrash but he followed. "Feel lucky, it could be your balls," she offered nicely, shoving him into an interrogation room and closing them in. "You've got half a second before I go off," she warned. "We both know you did it. There's no way you're going to talk your way out of it."
"A...a t-shirt isn't enough evidence. Even if it was custom made," he said with a swallow.
She nodded once then lunged and he screamed, running to the other side of the room. "Ya think?"
"He's a bad person! He's keeping Flack's cult intact! He's making them worse! He's bringing us all down! I never meant to hurt him, just make him too sick too take it up the ass! He's dirtying us all!"
She slapped him. "Shut up." He cowered and she moved closer. "Danny isn't keeping his cult alive, he's helping Flack manage it so they're calmer, more rational, and actually very helpful. I like the guy we've got stationed here. He's a nice guy who'd give up his life for Flack." The man started to cry. "Second, Danny's not a dirty cop, nor is he a bad cop. I've seen both and he's not either. I should know." The man gaped at her. "Third, you nearly killed him. If we didn't know someone who knew a lot about herbal remedies we would've missed the venom totally. He would have died. Fourth, what makes you think being a gay cop makes him bad? What? You want Flack's ass for yourself?" He looked horrified. "Answer me!" she snapped. "Do you?" He whimpered and nodded, hanging his head. "Too bad you missed out on the chance. It's been over five months now." She tipped his face up. "Don't worry though, Flack's lovers have him well in hand and very comfortable at night. Tonight they'll fuck him stupid to get any knowledge of you out of his brain." She let his chin go and walked off, leaving him in there. "He moves, shoot his ass," she ordered the patrol guys. "He poisoned our coffee and got Messer on purpose."
"Yes, Detective," he said, snapping to attention.
Their cult member stopped her. "Is the Protector all right?" he asked quietly.
She smiled. "He is. He'll be fine. Greg cured it. You know, I really don't mind you guys most of the time. You're very nice and Don likes you too. Don't let crap like that come after you either." He nodded, blushing a bit. "Good boy." She went to tell Mac to call someone. "Mac, I found our guy, roughed him up to get a confession, and now he's begging and pleading for a union lawyer."
"That's fine, I called Hillborne, he's on his way down. Did you check on Danny?"
"No, I hadn't."
"I did," Don offered as he walked in, giving her a hug. "The offer's great but it's not gonna be that hard. A good backrub should take all that knowledge of him outta my head." She smiled at him. "You're right though, I like my cult members. Most of them are really nice people once I sat down and talked with them." He let her go. "Danny's still asleep in the break room as of a few minutes ago. I can't believe he did that."
"I can," she said, giving him a look. "He wanted you too."
"Who doesn't want me really," he teased, smiling at her. She punched him on the arm. "Ow!"
"Shut up, Don." She rolled her eyes but looked at Mac. "Okay, now what?"
"Go solve your other cases," he said with a fond smile. "We'll do some damage control on the relationship front."
"Hey, I neither confirmed nor denied."
"Well, you kinda did about Danny, but then you mentioned lovers and the patrol guys who overheard gave me looks like I'm The Man," Don said with a really big smirk. "Guess I get the good parking spot tomorrow, huh?" He strolled out, going to check on Danny again before going back to his desk. He found his boss in there. "Hey, boss."
She looked at him. "You two?"
"I don't talk about my 'ships at work, boss. You know that."
"Beers after work?" she offered patiently.
"What? Are you going to ask me for tapes too? I got that from one of the patrol guys who thinks I'm sleeping with Hawkes." Sheldon moaned from his corner of the break room. "Sorry, Sheldon."
"Not your fault. It's nice that people think I'm good enough to get you, Don." He stuffed his mouth again.
"His dance card's already full," Danny groaned, letting them help him sit up. "Who did it?"
"Can I kill him yet?" Danny asked, looking at Don's boss. "Not like we let it out here."
"I've noticed that. I wanted to make sure no one came after my guy for being with you." Danny glared at her. "It happens to gay cops."
"Yeah, but I'm a bi cop, as my girlfriend proved this last night," Don said smugly. She sat down suddenly, staring at him. "What can I say? It takes a lot to wear me out." He grinned sweetly and she whimpered. "Sorry, boss, but go ahead and watch my back for me."
"You, and him, and ...and Bonasera?"
Mac walked in and shut the door. "This goes no further." She nodded slowly. "It's a quad, I'm there too. They think you're sleeping with Sheldon?"
"One guy does." Don grinned at him. "Then again, another few think I'm seeing Monroe."
Mac shook his head quickly. "No that would not be a happy relationship."
"Nope," he agreed, looking at Danny again. "I find I like the anti-cuddly things now and then."
"Go away," Danny moaned. "Not at work."
"Not like you're gonna work today anyway," Don noted dryly. He hauled his boss up, looking at her. "You good enough?"
"I, um, ah, can't quit seeing that." She shook her head and Don helpfully popped her upside it like he'd been wanting to do for months now. "Is this a wizard thing?"
"Cursebreakers are known to be horny things but this is just a me thing," he said with a boyish grin and a wink. She blushed. "So, we good?"
"We're fine. Just make me quit seeing it?"
"Lindsey asked me out," Sheldon offered from his seat, eating another bite.
"That's a worse picture, thank you," she decided, going back to her office. She paused in the squad room. "There will be NO gossiping about this point," she ordered. "Flack's life is his own. I don't care if he's taking it from Godzilla. I don't care if he's banging a centaur. What he does in his bedroom is what he does in his bedroom. It doesn't affect his work life at all."
"Even though he needs to get a new alarm clock at his boyfriend's house?" one guy teased.
She looked at him. "With some of the rumors going around today, he's not the only one. So we're all going to drop this because I don't care who Don does in his spare time as long as they're not doing it on his desk." She looked at the cult member. "You guys creep me out but at least you're protective of Flack. I like you for that much even if I can't understand why someone would worship him." The man blushed and nodded. "So let's just climb off the topic now." She went into his office and closed herself in so she could go back to a few of those images, because they were very hot. Especially the one of her boy topping Taylor and making Taylor lick Bonasera at the same time.
Danny groaned when the healer walked into the apartment later with Stella's cooperation. "I'm good enough."
"You're still nauseous," Don reminded him, stroking through his hair. "Plus sweaty." He looked at the healer. "They told you Greg did the antidote?"
"I did hear that. You have some very powerful friends, Wizard Messer." He pulled out his wand and put down his bag, moving to check him. "Hmm, a bit out of balance. It looks like you'll be fine after all but you do need some rest." He ran a different check over him then pulled out a small tuning fork to use against his wrist. "Hmm, yes, you should be fine." He patted him once the tuning fork was away. "Part of this is caffeine withdrawal."
"Greg said none for forty-eight," Danny admitted. "I'm going to have to hide. I need my coffee."
"I'm sure they'll let you apologize," he said with a small smile. "Now, you should be in bed, not on the couch."
"No tv in the bedroom," Don said dryly. "We won't let there be one."
"I understand perfectly." Someone appeared and he gaped. "Caine."
"Yes, I am," he said with a smile. "Danny, are you all right? Speed's still muttering and pacing. He can't get his mind together enough to come up."
"He will be but he does need to rest for the next few days. He can go back to work the day after he can have coffee again." Danny shook his head. "Yes, young man. This particular antidote does bring with it a possibility of migraines and dizziness. Since you're an officer, you'd be in no shape to use your gun if necessary." He put his wand back. "Three days bed rest and he can go back," he told Mac, who was in the doorway behind Horatio. "It was a pleasure seeing you again, Caine."
"Thank you." He got a smile and a nod before he left. "Huh. I wonder how he knew me."
"Probably saw you fly in your younger days," Stella teased. Horatio smiled at that. "At least we know you'll be fine," she soothed, moving Don so Danny's head could go back in her lap. "Speed can come up once he's calmer."
"I'll make sure he knows that Danny's fine and good again." He looked at him. "You know, we could let you do case reviews from home if Mac's talked into it right."
"Speaking of, this weekend one of my guys is going to call me about one of the cult that's not real good. They're not sure if they've got proof of anything," Don offered, "but they think he's a bad guy and need to turn him over."
"Of course. When you hear from him, let me know," Horatio agreed. That got a nod and a smile. "I'll let Speed come baby him tomorrow since Tony's got the day after off. Those two figured that out earlier." Danny whimpered. "It's one of the good things about having friends. Oh, I must report, Rosenburg's back in Chicago to be straightened out again. She tried to summon a demon to eat Ryan because he accidentally left her handcuffed." He smirked and disappeared, apparating home.
"Interesting," Stella said, smiling down at Danny. "You might even get the good soup from Speed."
"I probably will," he agreed, yawning. "I hate being sick."
"You're not really fun when you're sick from our end either," Don admitted, "but we like you enough to coddle you anyway and wait for you to get fun again." Danny snorted but he was smiling. "Mac, what's for dinner?"
"I figured some pasta would be soothing. Danny, did you want me to make you some broth or do you think you can handle solid foods?"
"Eww. Not eating."
"Sure. I'll open a can of broth." He went to do that.
Don changed to his dog form and came over to curl up on Danny's lap, letting him pet him. "Petting you is going to make me feel better?" Danny teased, but he did it anyway. Flack liked ear scratches way too much to deny him unless he was pissed at him. "How are the rumors going?"
"So far, Don's getting the whole lab, Sheldon and Lindsey included," Stella said dryly. "Since all I said was lovers, there's some wild rumors going around about Don having his own personal CSI harem. Especially about Greg coming out like that. Oh, Adam's trying to figure it out."
"It'll die down in a few days and so will Adam's curiosity," Mac soothed from the kitchen. Speed appeared and he got a hug. "Thank you. I'm making Danny some broth."
"Drop a bullion cube in there to get better flavor." Mac did that. "Where is snookums?"
"On the couch with the other two."
Speed weathered the knowing smile as he walked out there. "Awww." He took a photo then sent his camera home, bending down to give Danny a hug. Don barked at him so he scratched his ears, getting one happy puppy. "Hi, Don." He looked at Danny again. "What was this idiot's problem?"
"He wanted Don," Stella said simply.
"I don't think Don could handle having another of you," he teased. "You three wear him out already."
"It's a matter of stamina," Danny said dryly, smirking at him. "I'm fine but coffeeless for 2 days."
"Ooooooh," Speed winced. "I'm so sorry. We'll love you anyway." Danny swatted at him. "Anything else?"
"Three days of bedrest so the caffeine levels are high enough when he goes back," Stella teased. Danny swatted her too. "Behave or I won't let anyone blow you to help you sleep tonight."
"Yup, very. Greg said no raising your blood pressure."
Don changed back and lounged on top of Danny. "Probably because it'd make him dizzy and give him migraines, like the healer warned. You missed it, Danny and Speed. My boss said she didn't care if I was bending over to take it from Godzilla or doing a centaur. But she wanted private information for her mental porn collection."
"Both of those pictures would be enough to make me celibate," Speed noted. "Possibly Eric too." He clapped him on the back. "I should try that one, see if he can get it up tonight." He gave him a hug, gave Stella a hug, gave Danny another hug, then disappeared. He landed back in Horatio's office. "Hey, Ray. You so missed it, H. Don's boss announced she didn't care if Flack was bending over and getting it from Godzilla or doing a centaur, she didn't want to hear it, but wanted mental pictures for her own pleasure. Think that image is enough to keep Eric from getting any tonight?"
Horatio looked at him and shook his head. "Nothing short of throwing up keeps Eric from going out to hunt women, Speed, and even that hasn't stopped him a few times. You know that. You can try though." Speed cackled and went to torment Eric some more. He shook his head and looked at his nephew. "So, what happened with your girlfriend?"
"She's a brat. We broke up because she's such a bitch." He shrugged from his spot on the couch. "She was cheating on me with another of the cheerleaders."
"Male or female?"
"Both possibly. I asked her if she charged or not. So I got slapped and that got me the detention and why Mom's going to yell."
"Possibly not at you."
"Bet me," he snorted. "She's not looking happy from what I could see when she stomped in."
"It's been a long day, Ray. Give her some slack," Horatio noted quietly. "She had two suspects hit on her and suggest she needed to have a man again." Ray winced and hissed at that. "Exactly." His sister-in-law stormed in. "Yelina."
"Raymond, if that bitch comes near you again, hurt her," she said firmly.
"Good!" She looked at Horatio. "Did he tell you the little brat got him in trouble because she was cheating on him? They put him in detention and wrote him up because she slapped him."
"He did say that," Horatio agreed.
"I kinda asked her why I got it free if she was charging," Ray admitted. His mother glared at him. "Being honest, mom. I deserved the slap but not the detention."
"Why, it's the truth." She started to pace. "I don't like that girls like that come after you, Raymond. I don't want you to see anyone for a while."
"Mom, a boy's got needs," he said calmly. "At least I know she didn't have anything and there's no kids coming from between us." His mother glared at him. "Hey, being honest again. I could be out doing half the club."
"You could be but if you did you would be out of my house immediately."
"Yes, mom. Would you rather I do it myself or date?"
She stared, then moaned, holding her forehead. "I didn't need to know that, son!"
"Mom, I'm a young man. Sexuality is a reality in my life anymore. Remember, you told me not to rush it once because once it starts it never stops." Horatio snickered at that. "Does it?"
"No, not until the day you die, Raymond. Those urges and the ability stay, even if you do end up taking drugs to help you in the nursing home." Ray grinned at him. "Let's hope you don't take it recreationally."
"I saw the guy that did that and they had to take him to the ER because he wouldn't go down. His dick was black with the trapped blood," he said grimly. "I'm hoping they didn't have to cut it off. That's a good enough lesson for me to never try that."
"Thank you, son." His mother gave him a hug. "I don't care if you do it yourself, but I do not want to hear it so do it while I'm at work. Lay off the dating for a while."
"Girls like the wounded hero pout," Eric said from the doorway. "H, make Speed stop. I didn't need to hear about the rumors going around and Godzilla. Please?" Horatio nodded. "Thank you." He walked off again.
"Godzilla?" Yelina asked, looking confused.
"Don's relationship got outed today when someone tried to poison Danny," her son told her quietly. "Don's boss said she didn't care if Don was bending over and taking it from Godzilla or banging a centaur."
"Oh. That is a rather odd picture," she decided, then shook it off. "Isn't Godzilla fifty foot tall or something?"
"Ten stories I think," Horatio offered. "It's been a while since I've seen any of the movies."
"That would be one large dick," Ray said dryly. His mother slapped at him. "Sorry, mom. Teenage mind! Sorry!" He ducked another one and apparated across the room. "I'll keep those to myself."
"Please," Horatio ordered, staring at him. "Or I'm not letting you go with me again." Ray smiled and nodded. "Did you straighten out the school, Yelina?"
"I did. They're cowering and begging for mercy." She walked her son off to try to straighten him out again. This had to have come from the time he went across realms. Her son had been such a good boy before then. He never had thoughts like this before that had happened. She knew this magic stuff was going to hurt him. She saw Ryan growl and head outside, then heard a small explosion. "What was that?" she demanded when she made it to the window.
"I'm not sure," Frank admitted, looking down there. "Looks like a tree combusted." He pointed at the burning palm tree. "Someone's already called it in and Wolfe is not looking happy," he noted, staring at him. "Huh."
"It's handled, Frank," Horatio said from behind him. "He's scowling at whoever did it." That got a nod and Frank went back to his desk, Yelina and Ray Jr. behind him. Horatio walked outside, going to pull Ryan out of the way. "Are you all right?" he asked quietly, looking at his officer.
"No," he admitted. "I haven't done that in years." He glanced at the tree, then back at him. "I'm sorry. It's frustration. I'm slipping. I need to handle it better. I'll work on my control exercises tonight."
"Perhaps you should tell me why you're frustrated instead," he offered.
"They want to bind Willow to me."
"I have. Repeatedly, Horatio." That got a simple nod. "They're not taking the no."
"Can they do that?"
"I'm single. They think I'll be a good teacher and focus for her. I pointed out she tried to have me killed and that didn't seem to matter."
Speed walked out and stared at the tree, then looked at him again. "Nice slip. Better than the fish was. You know, you could demand that they take all her magic. Ethan's bound a good portion of it away but she's still moving around him. They can finish it. Rayne went easy on her. We can get Alex to finish it and I'll help him if I need to."
A middle-aged woman walked up to them and patted him on the cheek. "Dear, don't worry about it. She's not our favorite person either." She looked at him.
Speed looked down, seeing a pair of familiar brown eyes. She looked just like.... "You're Alex's mother."
"I am." She smiled. "And I'm still in Vengeance, dear. You're so cute." She pinched him on the cheek. "You give me such a rush when you pick on that slutty little Eric toy." She smiled at Ryan. "It's not my field but I'm on special assignment with Anya, Ryan. Someone's got to do something about her. We've all agreed, she's taking some of our jobs now and then. It's not making the higher ups happy."
He knew what she was and looked at Horatio, then at Speed, who shrugged. "I wish Willow was safe."
"Wish granted, sweetness." She patted him on the cheek. "Very nicely put as well. She'll be very safe and very useful to some other students." She smiled at Horatio. "You know, I get the best times coming down here to work with the victims. Though I don't get to do much with them since you take a lot of my work from me, but the ones you don't get do give me quite the rush since you try so hard." She winked and disappeared. "Say hello to my baby for me," she called as she left.
Speed called Alex. "Your momma said hi. She and Anya are doing Willow." He grimaced at the gagging noise. "Not like that. Ryan wished her safe." He hung up on the laughter. "Draco's laughing. Alex is calling out to her to stop her."
"It probably won't work," Horatio noted. "I wonder how they'll do it."
"She'll probably be something that gives answers," Ryan offered. "She's very bright."
"She is." A book dropped in front of them. "Wandless Magical Theorems," he read, picking it up. He turned to the first page. "So locked in this book shall she, Willow Rosenburg, be until she has saved one hundred lives from the magic that is impetuous and dangerous for she knows not what she did before. Now, she will learn even as she teaches." He handed it to Ryan, who stroked it then handed it to Speed. "It should be in a school."
"Ours or Dawn's?"
Speed created a piece of paper and wrote a note on it, binding it to the cover of the book with a temporary sticking charm out of sight of the fire crew working on the tree. Then he sent it off. His wand went back into his back pocket. "Gone."
"Thank you, Speed. Ryan, are you satisfied?"
"It can take her decades to get a hundred people off magic."
"It can. But perhaps she'll see what control really should be while she's at it." He patted him on the back. "Less frustrated?"
"Just sorry I had to do it," he sighed, looking at him. "She was nice most of the time."
"She was," Horatio agreed, smirking at him, "but you can do better. Like my nephew can do better, Ryan." He went back to his office.
"Yeah, a lot better. Let Eric set you up with someone. At least then you know it'll be fun."
"I don't need fun. I need calm and peacefulness. I need someone I can read with. Oh, can we go to the house elf shelter today do you think?" he asked quietly. "That new case kept us from going last time."
"You're taking Eric. I've had my dose of pitiful for the decade, Ryan. Go ask him." Ryan nodded, going to do that. Speed shuddered. He did not want to know. Really.
Ryan and Eric walked into the shelter together. "Hi." The keeper smiled at him. "I need a house elf to clean. I'm OCD and the one I borrowed from a wizard friend is just better at it than I am, even without using bleach."
"Of course. You're a wandless?" He nodded. "Which sort?"
"Natural chaos. I don't much practice it, but I'm fairly skilled and powerful enough for my own pleasure."
"I'll make sure they know that. How clean did you want it?"
"I want to be able to take a swab and not find anything. I'm an officer and I do lab work so dirt is not allowed anywhere. My friend's house elf did that for me one day. It was like marriage without having to put out for me. He even cooked and did dishes."
She smiled. "It would probably be a help to you. Let's go see what we can do." She led them back into the waiting area. She saw both men melt. "You have a house?"
"Large enough apartment but I'd let another family borrow mine if it got too bored."
"That's fine." She looked around. "Terpy?" She ran over and stood in front of her, looking attentive. "Gather all the cleaning elves together. This is a wandless wizard who needs an elf who cleans *very* well. He wants things to be sanitized." The house elf nodded and gave Ryan a look, then ran off to gather the others. Twenty-seven elves ended up in front of them. "Go ahead and talk to them."
Ryan glanced at Eric. "Remind me again how many I can take home?"
"One, Wolfe. Just one." He looked at them. "He's a lab guy and he's an officer. He's so OCD he scrubs the labs even after we disinfect. He needs someone to do it at home. You may be borrowed now and then by a young wizard and his muggle mother, who I've heard likes to pet you guys for good work, but it won't be that often."
"I'll want you to clean for me, maybe cook on occasion, and do the laundry," Ryan offered. Most of them stayed. "I am a natural chaos person but you wouldn't be touching anything of my setup." A few more left. "I can only have one, guys. Please don't...."
Eric patted him on the back. "Stay strong, Wolfe." He looked at them again, then at the keeper. "If they could go to muggle families I'd give my mother one. She'd probably scream at me for the first few days but I don't see how you can stand seeing this every day." The pitiful looks were getting to him. He had thought he was made from stronger stuff.
She glared at the elves. "Let them make a fair choice, guys. That's not nice. He's only got a small apartment." A few more trickled off. "Sorry, they wanted to clean bigger places."
"They'll be cleaning mine every day while I'm gone," Ryan assured her. One bounced over and tugged on his pantsleg, making him look down. "Hi."
"Hi. You need bleach clean or better?"
"I clean with bleach but I know you guys can clean better than I can with bleach. One of you proved it to me when I borrowed him. I'm looking for someone to take care of my place when I'm not there."
She nodded and pointed at two. "They clean *very* much better than bleach. Dipsy and Daisy very clean elves."
Those two stepped forward at the keeper's urging.
Eric looked at them. "Neither of you seem happy."
"Daisy very happy with new family," he assured him. "Daisy not happy here."
"Why were you let go?" Ryan asked.
"Daisy's old owner died," the keeper said. "Dipsy's old owner got forty cats and wanted a spotless house. It was too much for even a house elf."
Ryan nodded at that. "I work some really long hours so you'd be alone most of the day with only a radio on." A few of them whimpered at that, covering their ears. "Radios are bad?"
"Most house elves don't admit they like to listen to music," she explained. "They think it's what humans do and house elves aren't humans." She looked at them. "Personally I'd take Mitch. He's a good house elf. He'd be happy to go with you. He's a very good cook. You could work out a way to get groceries with him. Take a list and go shopping or whatever. I would not let him do it alone or let him handle any sort of money." Ryan nodded at that. "Or there's the Cordy elf. Cordy?" The elf looked up at her, looking miserable.
Ryan looked. "That's not a house elf." He concentrated and she turned back into a human. "Hi, Ryan Wolfe. Friend of Alex's?"
"Dumass," Ryan tried.
"Oh, yeah, Xander." She shuddered. "One of the demons trapped me. Sorry."
"Not a problem. Any others?" She pointed at them and he freed the others as well. "There you go. We'll work on getting you back to your own area again since this is Chicago. Though... Spike's around here somewhere with Sirius."
"Oooh, we need to see him," the other female offered. "A whole lot."
"Sure, Fred." Cordy looked at him. "Can we call Spike?"
"I'll take you to the floo," the keeper said. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"We tried to tell the night person but she laughed." They followed. "Thank you, Ryan."
"Welcome," he called, shrugging a bit. "I'm that powerful," the told the elves.
One of them tugged on Eric's hand. "Are you a wizard too? Needing a house elf? I's is Doorstop and Doorstop is being a good house elf for a single wizard. Very quiet."
Eric smiled. "I'm not a wizard. My sister's a wandless witch. I'll ask my mother if she could use you though." That got a smile and a nod. "If so, I'll come back for you?" The house elf beamed and nodded. "Ryan?"
Ryan looked at one, he had a feeling about him. "You. How would you clean?"
"With natural scrubbers and spells. House elfs clean like that," he said firmly, scowling at him. "Yous is too skinny too. Master Ryan sir is not being eating!" He stomped his foot. "Master Ryan sirs is needing house elf support."
"I do, that's why I'm here. You'd scrub everything every day, no matter what?" The house elf scowled and nodded. "Because I'm very obsessive about that stuff. I can't sleep if the house isn't clean."
"Of course house elfs is being scrubbing like that, even ourselves." He scowled at the others and only one stayed. "You is being too nice. You is being one who would not be making him eat." Another couple came in. "You is being going with the others." The house elf whimpered. "Now."
"Wait, let's make sure," Eric ordered.
"No, Toodles is being less cleany sometimes. When feels is clean enough. Toodles is not being scrubbing all the time," she admitted in a high, squeaky voice. "Toodles will go to a sick person instead." She walked off.
"Okay, what's your name?" Ryan asked.
"Scrubby?" he asked, grinning. "Seems like you fit me very well then. Can you cook now and then?"
"Scrubby will be cooking very often for too skinny wizards. Right now!" He stomped a foot and pointed. "You is going to be eating now, right now! Scrubby will fix dinner and then clean." Ryan smiled at that and led him out. The keeper smiled and let him have the paperwork. "Scrubby will not be being back," he said firmly. "This one needs house elfs support."
"He does," the keeper agreed, smiling at him. Ryan let her have his credit card for the fee and she ran it, then let him sign the slip. "Now, remember, you can't give them clothes but you can let them *borrow* clothes."
"Sure. I've got three or four t-shirts with bleach stains he can borrow," Ryan agreed, looking at him. "Is that good enough for you?" The house elf nodded, hugging his leg. "Okay, let's take you home. Eric?" He came out with the house elf for his mother. "Weren't you going to check first?"
"Yeah," he sighed, "but if not, my place could be cleaner." He paid for his elf too and filled out the paperwork. "Borrowing clothes?"
"Is just fine. Make sure she knows you're not going to be giving her clothes, just letting her borrow some. Doorstop will be very happy to clean for you or your whole family. A lot of elves get passed around to siblings these days. Also, she's a great seamstress. Very good at helping alter things."
"My mother and sisters would like that," he decided. "Come on, let's go back with Speed's portkey." Ryan let him have it. "Hold on." The elves grabbed onto them and Ryan activated it, sending them home. Well, Horatio's home. They had left from there. Horatio looked at them and moaned. "My mother could use one," Eric defended.
"Now you know why you shouldn't go alone," Ray noted dryly from his chair. "Because the pitiful will last for months." He looked at the house elf. "Pout at his mother too if she complains, make her feel the need to adopt you." That got an evil smirk. "Good girl. Eric, I'd probably dress her better first."
"Sure." He looked down at her. "We do need to get you better dressed, don't we?" He took his house elf out to his car, going to see his sister. Marisol was at his place so it wasn't hard. "This is my house," he instructed. She nodded eagerly, following him inside. His sister screamed and pointed, backing away. "Yeah, it's a house elf. I had to go with someone to pick one. This is Doorstop. Think Momma would like her?"
Marisol looked at him. "Are you insane!"
"Not usually. Can you quit screaming before the neighbors call someone?"
"Eric, you don't even..." She stared. "How...."
"Speed's group of friends brought one home to share among them. Wolfe borrowed him one night and he cleaned better than Ryan could ever hope to. His OCD purred about it so he went to get one and I went with him to make sure he only brought home one. This one needed a good home too and I thought Momma might like her. Doorstop, this is Marisol, my sister."
"Missus Marisol is being too skinny," she said firmly, heading for the kitchen. "What sort of food does Master Eric want?"
"We eat a lot of different things. Just make something. Our dad's Russian, our Mom's Cuban. We're just hungry." That got a beaming smile and the elf went to whip up some food. He got her sitting down again. "If Momma can't use her I'll keep her but I thought we could share her as a family."
Marisol shook her head and moaned. "You're introducing her to Momma, Eric, alone."
"I've got to get her clothes first. Oh, and she's a good seamstress I was told. Maybe she can help you with that too."
She just gave him a look like he was insane.
Eric walked in the next morning and looked at Horatio, his eye nearly swollen shut from the bruise. "My mother loves Doorstop now. She decided she's as close as she's ever getting to a daughter-in-law out of me." He walked on, making Horatio smirk. "I'm fine."
"Wild swing in fright and I didn't duck fast enough," he agreed dryly. "I'm fine to work."
Alexx saw him. "What happened to you!" she demanded.
He looked at her. "I got my mother a helper for around the house and I didn't duck the wild swing of fright when I introduced her to Doorstop." He shrugged.
"Doorstop?" She moved closer. "A house elf, Eric?" He nodded. "How do you know about house elves?"
"How do you know about house elves?" he countered dryly.
"I went to school where a few were employed."
"Yeah, so did Speed. He brought one home for their group to share." He walked on. "Momma loves her now. They cooked breakfast together and even Poppi loved it. He's the picky eater in the family." He went to get his things from his locker, weathering the look Ryan gave him when he came in. "Wild swing in fright."
"Need some tylenol? I've got some in my gymbag."
"No, I took some already. I may ask for some at lunch though." He closed his locker. "You look happy."
"I woke up to a spotless, germ free house and breakfast. Of course I am. Best two hundred dollars I ever spent." He walked out smiling and happy.
"New girlfriend?" Tripp teased.
"No, just happy with my new cleaning service. They're better at it than I am."
"How can you afford that?"
"They work cheaply." He smirked. "Ask Horatio. He's met another person who works for the same cleaning service." He went to find out if he had a call yet and then went to work on his last case.
Frank Tripp went to find Horatio. "Wolfe looks really happy. How is he affording a cleaning service?"
Horatio looked at him, then shook his head. "Frank, this is one of those matters that will give you a headache."
"What? He got one of those house elf things from the movies?" he joked.
"Taps?" Horatio called quietly. "I forgot my lunch." It and the house elf appeared beside him, making Frank stare in horror. "It's also why Eric has the black eye. He gave his mother one and she reacted. Thank you, Taps. Have a good day cleaning and if you need help, Ryan Wolfe has one now too." That got a nod and Taps disappeared again. "He asked if he could come scrub my carpets. I couldn't refuse. He does pitiful too well."
Frank swallowed. "Horatio. Tell me I'm hallucinating?"
"You're hallucinating, Frank."
"Thank you. I thought I was." He left, going back to his desk.
Horatio smirked and looked in his lunch, putting it in his desk drawer since it was a sandwich. A large sandwich, enough to feed Eric and three others, but still a sandwich. Alexx stormed in. "Yes, Alexx?"
"Speed's a wizard?"
He looked at her. "You hadn't figured that out yet?" She gave him a hurt glare. "Yes, he is," he agreed. "As am I and my nephew Ray. Ryan's actually a wandless and so's Eric's sister."
"Oh." She pouted at him. "Why didn't anyone tell me?"
"We thought you had figured it out," Speed said from behind her. "Sorry, Alexx."
"Speedy." She turned to pout at him. "You never told me."
"I didn't know you were until you brought me back."
"Fine. I can accept that." She walked over to give him a hug. "Are you still mad?"
"No, I'm having more fun now." He smirked at her. "I get to bug Tony and Danny for a lot longer." She swatted him and walked off again. "I do."
"You do," Horatio agreed. "Has anyone seen my nephew?"
"Yeah, Jessup said to tell you one of the other patrol guys carted him back home after he heard Yelina was already here. What was he doing? Jessup was frowning greatly again."
"We went out to the clubs last night and got separated. I'm not sure what he didn't do except drink or do something pharmaceutical."
"At least he's got his head on straight with that much," Speed offered, heading back to work. Eric had warned him he had let it slip to Alexx but it seemed like she was okay with it for now. She'd talk it over with one of the dead bodies and be better with it by lunch. Calleigh stopped him in the halls. "What's up?"
"Can I borrow Taps? I've got wall stains from the last rain storm and I don't have time to paint."
"Sure. He's at Horatio's. I'll send him over tonight so you can have the house cleaned first." She smiled and hugged him then went off again. Taps was the best investment Tony had made in quite a while. It was nice that they were being taken care of while they went out and played hard. Made a wizard feel appreciated. Freed up his time to prank Danny again too.
to next part