Bumpy Roads To Hell.

Don strolled into the convention hotel, smiling at the desk girl.  "Flack, NYPD?" he said.  She smiled and found his reservation, handing him the packet he'd need and his card key. "Thank you.  Are the rest of us here yet?"

"In the banquet room, Detective Flack.  The meet and greet is going on."

He beamed.  "Thank you."  He headed up to his room to drop his bag and get Stella's present, then back down there, his convention badge on his belt.  He walked inside and smiled at the registrar, letting her see it.  "Where's my homies?"

"By the food table the last I knew. Detective Bonasera was being courted by three different officers."

"Thank you."  He grinned as he walked that way, nodding at some people now and then.  He did stop at the bar to get a bottle of beer, running into Danny.  "Hey."

"You're back!" he said happily, giving him a one-armed hug.  "How was it?"

"I found a lot of shit in the catacombs I can't admit to," he offered happily. "Necklaces that choke people.  Stuff that makes people happy and dancing.  Stuff for fertility on wedding nights.  That stuff seems to be drawn to Alex since he's such a lech.  Your snoring covered up Draco's yelling when we were all there the last time."  He followed him back to where the others were and he put the shrunken package in Stella's hand. "Open it when you're alone later on tonight," he ordered with a smirk.  "Alex said you could have those."

"What are they?"

"Open 'em tonight," he ordered with a fond smirk.

"I'm not sure I should trust that look, Don."

"You can.  It'll be good."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "How was it while I was gone?"

"Mirck was okay.  He's staying to fill Salvaro's spot.  We were bored without the trouble you bring but that's okay."  She smiled at the people staring at them. "This is Don Flack. He's a detective in Homicide that we work with a lot.  Oh, Sal!"  He looked over and smiled. "Don's back!"

He came over, smiling and shaking Don's hand.  He was a huge blond man, with a long braid of hair.  "I've heard much about you, Don.  I'm Sal Mirck."

"Welcome to the twelfth.  I'll be back when we head home."

"Good.  Stella pouts."

"I do not!" she said, hitting him on the arm.  He moaned and gave her a pitiful look.  "It won't help you, Sal.  If you want spanked, go ask Mac."  He nodded, heading that way while the others laughed.  "Don just got back from doing some intense curse breaker training in Scotland with Alex Dumass."

"I found a lot of stuff I can't talk about in his storage areas," he agreed smugly.  "He sent some of them to Gringotts and got a steaming mad goblin call at six the next morning."  Stella giggled at that. "They're demanding he send over more of the stuff like that so Ron and I hefted and toted earlier today with Harry.  Draco, of course, supervised."

"Draco is still a princess," Stella agreed.  "I'm sure you know Paul from the last normal cop convention but this is Drew.  He works in LA.  Also this is..."

"Sandburg," he said, shaking his hand.  "Which department are you working in now?"

"Not, man.  Jim's still freaky."  He shrugged. "I'm sane again though."  The others laughed.  "What can I say, working with Jim is enough to rob anyone of it.  Where's Aiden?"

"I just got here.  I was hoping she was here so I could pounce her."

Sandburg smirked.  "She said the same thing earlier."  He grinned at the others. "Your departments need a slightly used anthropologist who gets hounded by trouble thanks to his partner?"  They all shook their heads and walked off.  Blair smirked at the students of the group.  "The Prof was thinking about offering you guys membership since you're coming along all right.  It'd give you all our memories about magic and that stuff, including Alex's.  It would definitely speed up your learning."

"I could go for that.  That way I'd know what to do when the plant demon comes up and tries to make baby demonic flowers with me," Don said dryly, sipping his beer.  Blair smirked at that. "Does that happen to normal people?"

"I don't know.  Since I started with Jim, I haven't been one.  Somehow, every bad thing in the universe comes for me and him.  Terrorists, hostage taking morons, serial killers.  No demons though.  Cascade must be low on that area. Hopefully."  He finished his drink and smiled again.  "Think about it and let us know, okay?"  Don nodded.  "Cool.  Greg's somewhere.  Probably with Aiden talking potions."  He sighed.  "Greg is such a nerd."

"Coming from you, that's a heavy compliment," Stella teased.

"Well, yeah," he agreed smugly.  "Greg's worse than I could ever be as a nerd."  He walked off, heading to find someone else to talk to for now.

Don looked at Stella and grinned.  "We should go pounce them."

"We should.  Danny's probably back with them and Mac's talking supervisor stuff with Horatio.  He caused a stir when he came in."

"Alex said he was hiding in plain sight.  He also said that Speed had been one."  He shrugged and headed that way, stopping at Horatio to shake his hand.  "Hi again."

"Hello yourself, Don.  How's the training going?"

"Okay.  I just got done with two intense weeks with Alex and his boys."  Horatio smirked at that.  "I'm a natural curse breaker."

"I figured you would be," he agreed.  He glanced around then at him.  "Thank you for letting me decide to contact Timmy myself."

"You said you were hiding in plain sight, it's not my job to out anyone."  He shrugged and grinned.  "We're off to find Aiden.  Find me during dinner to chat?"

"Of course.  I couldn't convince you to come down, could I?"

"Sandburg's looking for somewhere more sane," Stella offered with a grin.

"Horatio, no poaching my staff.  I've finally gotten them broken in again," Mac complained lightly, smirking at him.  "Unless you want Lindsey.  She's a good CSI but she's slightly resistant and I've had to obliviate her three times in the last two weeks because she wants Danny so much."

Horatio moaned and shook his head.  "Not particularly.  You could try with Grissom."

"I know Gil.  I can do that."  He nodded. "I could use one of his new guys."

"Greg's in the field," Don offered smugly.

"I don't think I could take Greg on a hyper kick in the field," Mac assured him.

"No fair, I'm not hyper in the field and they even make me dress like a real person, which my wife hates," Greg said as he escorted Aiden over.  Don squealed and hugged her, getting one back.  He grinned at Stella.  "I'll do a tech trade.  Not an issue.  Emilia said she's tired of the desert for the next six months."

"We'll see if we can do a tech switch that way," Horatio agreed.  "How are you doing, Greg?"

"Okay, Horatio. Emilia is still cranky and hating me being in the field."  He shrugged. "It's my dream but she thinks it's dangerous."

"It is," he agreed quietly.

"Yeah but it drew me the same way potions did.  I don't want to give it up to sit in the lab and run samples all day."

"I understand.  How are you doing on the aging thing?"

"Not too bad.  I've gotten a few looks.  I keep going on and on about this great moisturizer and how I've gotten Nick onto it too now that he's finished his treatments and is using sunscreen again."   He grimaced. "Nick ended up with melanomas.  Maybe you should get checked too, Horatio?  You spend an awful lot of time in the sun."

"I get checked yearly, Greg," he agreed gently, smiling at him.  "You fuss worse than Calleigh.  I've even made Eric get checked."

"Good.  Nick's finally done with his treatments so he's back on duty again.  Grissom might not mind a tech switch."

"I'll see what we can work out.  Lindsey and others might like being out of New York in the winter."

"I'd rather go to Vegas, it's dry heat, you guys have humidity and my hair would frizz," Stella said with a grin.  He chuckled and nodded.  "Mac?"

"I like New York.  We'd have to go in the off season anyway.  Danny and Don are trying out for the inter-borough teams," he said proudly.

"I wish we had quidditch down here," Horatio agreed.

"I wish we had some in Vegas," Greg said dryly.  "I used to play on my house team."  Horatio nodded that he did too.  "What did you play?"

"Keeper. You?"

"Chaser," he offered with a grin. "Sev made me stop so I wouldn't ruin my hands."  He looked at the conspiring wizards.  "A curse breaker and natural trouble with potions," he said dryly.  "Should we run and hide?"

Don smirked at him.  "I only got to talk to Tipsy that once, Greg."

"Oh, damn," Greg sighed, shuddering.  Horatio gave him an amused look.  "The Bane network includes Tipsy Ramvette-Weasley.  Owner of Ramvette Inc.  The guys who make the pranks?  She married the Weasley twins and is helping them run their shop in Diagon."  Horatio moaned at that.  He nodded. "Yeah.  And they have kids.  Two sets of twins."  He saluted him with his glass.

"I brought you a catalog," Don teased.  Aiden squealed and hugged him again.  "I miss you.  Monroe is stiff and no fun.  She's still trying to outdo Danny."

"She's still trying ta hit on me, get it right," Danny complained as he came over.  "Man, it's getting tougher and tougher to get her ta go away!"  He got his own hug.  "Please come back!"

"Danny," Mac sighed.

Danny glared at him.  "She can still teach in the local school, right?"   Mac nodded and backed off at that.  He grinned at Aiden. "Please!" he begged.  "She keeps saying we were dating!  Even Sheldon's pissed at her."

"Now that's bad," Don said dryly.  "Why?"

"She's been bugging him about Aiden there for weeks now.  I don't know why."  He shrugged and sipped his new drink.  "We should do dinner tonight."  She smiled and they all nodded. He looked around.  "I think Sandburg ran everyone off."

"Possibly," Horatio agreed.  He looked at Mac.  "I'm the only one in my lab."

Stella snorted.  "What do you call Alexx?"

"She is?" he asked.

"God, Horatio, you need a conversation starter," Greg said, patting him on the arm. "I can do that."  He grinned at him. "I'll call on Alexx tonight to talk to her, see if she wants to catch dinner."  He winked and walked off. "I won't mention you by name."

"Thank you."  He frowned then shook it off and looked at Mac. "We should do dinner, let the kids catch up together."

"Sure."  He grinned at Stella.  "I'll see you guys later?"  She nodded.  "What did Don give you?"

"He said to open it when I was by myself.  I'm not sure that's a wise idea or not."

"I can be there, just in case," Aiden promised with a grin.  Stella beamed and they walked off together.

Don looked at Danny.  "Greg said they're thinking about offering us Bane membership."

"I'd like that," he decided.

Don nodded.  "Me too.  We should hide before Stella opens that."  Danny raised an eyebrow.  "Alex had a whole *box*, huge box, of charmed sex toys."  Danny spluttered.  "Draco said either he got rid of at least half of them or he was going to charm them to attack Harry and Ron."  Danny walked off shaking his head.  Don winked at Mac and jogged off, heading up to hide in his room.  Stella was just up the hall, he could see her disappear into her room.  He locked his door and waited, hearing the shriek then the giggling.  Someone knocked so he checked, then let Aiden in.  "She good?"

"Those are so cute!  She's a very happy girl now.  The batteries won't be running out, right?"

"Not in the least.  But I did strap down the blue one specially.  It's apparently a boy-liking toy."  Aiden burst out giggling and he hugged her. "I missed you, brat."

"I missed you too, Flackey, but if you turn into the horny curse breaker stereotype I'm handcuffing you."  He gave her a squeeze. "Not even for fun, but there's a few cute girls from the Midwest in the group who're looking for some.  I'll introduce you tonight."  Stella's shriek sounded less than outraged and more like happiness so they left it alone for now.

"I will get you for this!" Stella yelled down the hall.  Then a door slammed.

They burst out in new giggles, collapsing on the bed next to each other.


Stella stormed up to the table that night, swatting Don on the head.  "You mean ass bastard.  Not that I didn't need it, but still!  Some warning would've been nice!"

"I told you to open them in private," he offered, giving her the puppy eyed look.  She grimaced.  "I strapped down the blue one, just in case."

"Thank you for that."  She sat down a bit delicately.  Danny looked at her, then pushed over a small vial. "Pain killer?"

"Yup.  Greg heard what Draco made him bring home with him."

"Then why didn't he keep the blue one?"

"Not like I like boys," Don defended.

"You every try?" Aiden asked smugly.  He shook his head. "Then how would you know?"  She smiled sweetly.  "Remember, it's all good in the community, Don."  She pinched him on the cheek, then looked at Stella.  "How was it?"

Stella smiled.  "Very nice.  It took me an hour to figure out how to stop them, but it was very nice."  Don beamed.  "I'm still going to pay you back for that."

"He got me a catalog from 3W," Aiden offered.

"I've got one of those at home and their special products catalog too," Stella assured her.  Danny moaned at that, shaking his head.  "I won't use any on you."

"Yeah, and I believe you too, Stell," he said fondly.  "Not."

"Fine, I'll *try* to keep you out of it," she assured him, then pinched him on the arm.  "No Greg?"

"No Greg.  He's having tattoo sex with his wife again," Danny agreed smugly.  He looked around, spotting someone he hadn't seen in years.  "I'll be back."  He walked over to the other table to talk to the brunette, tall, fit man, earning a brilliant smile and a hug.  They sat together to chat like old friends, which they were.

Don looked at Aiden.  "Please come back to New York."

"I'll try."  He smiled at that.  "So, what did you learn?"

"Lots and lots about curse breaking.  I learned how to unravel spells and how to warp them.  I learned a lot about shielding and why I leak now and then, and how to cure it easiest, which means finding something to pour some of my excess energy and attention into.  Possibly a girlfriend if I have my way, but I'll need to find something. I did a lot of flying with Ron and Harry, sometimes with Draco.  Draco's got a smoother style than Harry, he's all dart and swoop, like a hunting bird.  Ron showed me what a keeper should do.  Alex worked on my beater skills a lot so I'll be giving Danny a run for his money."  He grinned at the women, who beamed back.  "I've already called Timmy and told him I want to try out for a beater position.  Apparently Danny's done the same thing."  He shrugged.  "We'll see how it goes and Danny promised to take pictures of us in the air during the first game for you, Aiden."

"Thank you. You'll look so cute in quidditch pants."  She pinched him on the cheek, glancing back at Danny.  "He looks so familiar."

Don looked then nodded. "He looks like Danny's chaser buddy from school.  All the posters of him that Alex and Harry found have him leaning on his shoulder.  Said his name was Tony or something.  Ron's the real fanboy of the family."

Stella smiled.  "You two can work on my flying skills the next time we head for lessons, weekend after next."  He nodded and beamed at her.  "You think you'll get to play?"

"Tim said we don't have a shot in hell of getting another beater candidate who's more than pretending.  He said most of them are chasers who want a change so I'm probably going to have a pretty good shot.  Alex did teach me how to play chaser just in case though.  Harry said his team is doing that now in case someone gets injured momentarily."  The ladies nodded at that.  "So I'm okay enough, better than Alex expected me to be with only a few lessons, but Draco seriously put me through my paces every afternoon when everyone else was taking a nap.  He's good, not Harry good, but pretty good."  Danny came back.  "Was that the guy in the poster that Ron found, the one you were leaning on?"

"Yup, that's Tony.  He couldn't go pro thanks to his family."  He sat down and looked at his buddy. "Draco called and said he was getting you up to house standards."

"Alex said I'm pretty good."

"Good.  We'll test you when we get back.  Tim's already said when tryouts are."  He handed him the slip of paper.  "He said Stella could try out too if we got her up to speed."

"We can only try," Don said happily, grinning at him.  "I'm under orders to find something to take some of the passion out of my life by wearing it out."

"You should've kept some of the toys," Aiden teased.

"I'm not like that," he complained.  "Meany."  She just smirked. "I'm not."

"See, in our house we had one guy who kept saying that and he ended up liking house elves."

"Eww!"  He got up and went to the bar muttering 'eww' the whole way over and over.

Danny looked at her.  "Which one was that?  Pigmonton?"

"Bradley, the younger Bradley brother."

"Oh, him.  He's into house elves?"  She nodded.  "Eww."  Don came back.  "The sad thing is that I tutored that guy in herbology."

Don snorted and looked at him.  "You heard the anti-Angel rant, yeah?"  They all nodded, Stella had heard it from Aiden apparently.  "Alex sent him a house elf strip-o-gram."

Danny and Stella paused, then went to get their own drinks.  Aiden gave him an odd look.  "Spike said there was a story behind their house elf Morgan.  That is really good torture."  He beamed and nodded.  "Think we could do that to Mac?  Maybe arrange for Lindsey to catch sight of it?"

"That's mean," Danny called as he came back.  "Don't include us in mean stuff.  We'd get into trouble and have to deal with the pouting person."  He sat down, looking at them.  "He already hates me."  Stella gave him an odd look when she sat down. "You remember when he first found out?  He said pureblood like it's a bad thing.  So that's just another strike against me at the moment."

"Danny, he doesn't hate you.  He's a bit disappointed in you now and then but he doesn't hate you," Stella assured him.  "He's never said anything more than he's disappointed in you."

"Yeah whatever," he complained.  He looked at Don again. "At least wait until right before he fires me first, okay?"

"Sure."  He punched him on the arm. "He won't be, Danny.  I know he won't be."  Danny nodded.  "Why?  Did something else happen?"

"No.  He's been doting on Lindsey again and she's giving me these pitying looks."

"I think that was more about keeping her under control in case she broke the obliviate," Stella offered.

"Really?  Then why is Sheldon doing the same thing?"

"He is?"  Danny nodded.  "Since when?"

"Two days ago."  He took another drink.  Someone banged the banquet hall's doors open and he reached for his wand.  "Who the fuck?" he muttered, looking at the guy standing there.

"This is a robbery!" he said, pulling out a Mac-10 machine gun and firing a few rounds.

"Yo, moron, we're cops," Don called back.  "Low paid and pissed off because you're interrupting our free time!"  The man glared but someone behind him pounced and got him down.  Don shook his head and sipped his drink.  "Moron."

"Horatio will be pleased, his guys won't have to come out at all," Stella offered, looking at Danny. "I'll find out what's going on."

"Thanks."  He looked at Aiden.  "If so, you guys need a flying coach?"

"Well, yeah, but the job pays shit."

He shrugged.  "It happens. That's why the tent spells were created."

"Point."  She nodded, accepting that.   Horatio walked in and grabbed the suspect, hauling him out of there and outside. "Someone's not a happy camper," she said happily.

"Really," Don agreed, nodding. He grinned at her.  "If our team goes into a championship thing, would you come?"

"Of course.  I'll even wear a tight sweater and a short skirt like a real cheerleader."  He grinned at that.  "I should introduce you to some of the ladies I know."  She got up and hauled him up, dragging him with her.

Stella shook her head.  "She said all curse breakers are horny creatures."

"He already gets more'n me anyway.  I can't get jealous over that," Danny said dryly, saluting her with his drink.  "When is dinner?"

"About a half an hour."  She got up.  "I'll be back, watch my purse."  He nodded and moved it closer to him, while she went to find Mac.  She punched him on the arm, making him wince and hiss.  "Why are Lindsey and Sheldon giving Danny pitying looks and why does he think you hate him this time?" she demanded.

"I don't know," he said, shrugging a bit and still rubbing his arm.  "Why did he say?"

"Something about you being an anti-pureblood snob and them giving him pitying looks."

"Lindsey might be because I'm working with her all the time.  He does good with Sheldon.  I don't know why Sheldon would be giving them to him.  Are you sure he's not paranoid?"


"I don't know, Stella."

She took his glass to sniff, grimacing.  "Greg!"  He came jogging over.  "What's in this?"

He sniffed then grimaced and held it away from him.  "A very bad truth potion."  He went to the bar to find the bottle and stop this before it got out of hand.  He didn't want to work this weekend.


Horatio walked up to Stella early Sunday morning, clearing his throat.  "Stella?"  She smiled at him and kicked a chair out so he sat down.  "Have you talked to Eric?"

"No.  I haven't talked to any of your crew."  She looked around.  "Danny's not up yet, but I know he talked to Alexx last night.  Why?"

"Eric never showed up for work and Calleigh's worried."  He glanced around.  "Since I'm part of the spell, I can't leave the hotel until it's canceled. Would you mind going to check on him for me?"

"Sure, not an issue.  Your team can't?"

"Calleigh's swamped in ballistics and he and Ryan don't always get along very well."

"Sure."  She finished her breakfast and wiped her mouth off.  "Address?"  He handed over a small piece of notepaper.  "I'll call Mac or Danny when I find him for you, Horatio."  He smiled at that and tipped his head.  "Tell Mac and Danny I'm doing this and kick Mac's ass if Danny's still sulking.  Lock 'em in a closet if you have to."  She walked off, going to get some stuff from her room before she left, like her rental car keys.  She programmed the address into the little map feature machine and followed the direction, ending up at his place about a half-hour later.  She parked and got out, looking at the building. It was nice but kind of plain, what you'd expect from an apartment building.  She walked up to the front door, finding the buzzer for his apartment, then leaning on it until she got a male- sounding grunt.  "Eric Delko?  Horatio Caine sent me to check on you. I'm Stella, from Mac's lab in New York."  The door opened so she walked inside, heading to the third floor since his apartment had been 3-C.  She found the door cracked and walked inside, smiling at him. "Hi."  He grunted again, nodding a bit.  "He said Calleigh called really worried about you.  Are you okay?"

"Tired," he complained quietly.  He flopped down on the couch, looking at her.  "You work with who?"

"Mac Taylor in New York.  Your lab and our lab collaborated a few years back."  He nodded once at that and drank the shake he had been mixing in the kitchen.  "Want me to call them?  He's at this convention thingy and they won't let him leave.  He said Calleigh was swamped and he didn't want to send Ryan."

"Probably a good idea," he admitted.  He found his cell and grimaced.  "Totally dead."  She handed over hers and he smiled.  "Thank you."

"Not a problem.  Horatio was trying to talk Mac into a tech switch for a few months to give us all a break."

"That could be fun," he admitted, dialing slowly, like he really had to concentrate on the number.  "I'm fine," he said in greeting.  He looked at Stella.  "At least you sent someone pretty and deadly after me.  No, H.  Hangover."  He took another drink.  "I didn't think I was on today, H.  It's Saturday."  He frowned and looked at her. "It's Sunday?"  She nodded, sitting down.  "Damn it.  Sorry, H.  I'll appear as soon as I shower and change clothes.  No, I don't know.  Thanks."  He hung up and handed her back her phone. "Thank you."

"Not a problem," she offered with a smile. "I've called off with a few of them myself after bad cases.  Need a ride in?"  He nodded, getting up to shower and change, then coming back out looking a bit more awake.  She walked out, letting him get his door.  "Got everything?"  He went back to find his badge and gun.  "You going to the station or to see Horatio?"

"He ordered me to see him first."

"That's fine.  That's where we're holding the convention," she offered with a gentle smile.  "Are you sure this is just a hangover?"  She took off his gun and put it on the right way.  "Unless you pull cross-ways."  He shook his head with a small moan.  "Come on.  We'll go see Horatio.  Maybe he'll send you back to bed."

"He probably should," he agreed, following her down to the car.  His eyes were half-open now and she gave him a gentle nudge to buckle up, making him nod and do that, then letting him slowly drift off again.  She gave him another small nudge, making him gasp and flail awake when they got to the hotel, grabbing his head and holding it.  "Crap, that hurts.  I hate the sun."

"It's nice and dark inside," she promised gently, parking and walking around to let him out and lead him inside.  Something was making her very concerned.  Most cops didn't have migraines like this.  She found Horatio waiting on them.  "He grabbed his head when he woke up outside, Horatio.  This isn't normal hangover stuff unless he's always getting migraines."

"I haven't seen any evidence of one."  He tipped Eric's face up, making him look at him.  "Eric, what day is it?" he asked quietly.

"Saturday?" he asked hesitantly.  He looked around, looking confused.  "What'm I doing here?"

"I had you brought here. It's Sunday," he said gently, moving closer.  "Eric, look at me."  Eric stared at him and he shivered.  "What's the last thing you remember?"

"Alexx."  He shook his head, holding it.  "I keep seeing her in the moonlight outside, H.  I don't know what's going on."

"Oh, I do," Greg offered, holding up a hand.  "Having seen this before on Rosenburg."  He came over and knocked him back out.  "He's got backlash, Horatio.  Danny?"  He perked up.  "Go shield your room, all magic facing externally.  He's got backlash."

"On it."  He went to do that, his buddy going to help him.  Stella gave them a few minutes then took Eric with her.

Greg looked at Horatio.  "Call Alexx, make sure *she's* okay."  He nodded, pulling out his cell to do that.  Greg went back to his room, muttering about relaxing weekends off.  On the way he called his Alex, letting him know.  That got him to find Don and drag him up there.  Alex had said Don could break any shields on him. They found the potions he'd need and went to Danny's room, finding Stella standing guard.  "I've got it."  She nodded, letting them inside.  Horatio was there.  "Is she all right?"

"Just fine and perkier than I've heard in months," he admitted quietly. "She said she has no idea why he's got a headache or where he might've seen her doing that."

"Oh, I do."  Greg leaned down and opened one of Eric's eyes, waving a bit.  "Eric, I'm going to make you drink this really vile stuff, but it's going to help so don't puke it up, okay?"

"Who're you?" he asked quietly.

"I'm Greg, I work with Grissom's crew in Vegas."

"With Warrick?"  Greg nodded.  "Where's Speed?"

Greg blinked, then looked at Horatio, who shrugged.  "I don't know yet," he told Eric.  "Give me a few, Eric.  Drink these things for me, okay?"  He mixed the vials together and handed them over, watching as he drank it.  "Okay, Don, I need you to break whatever shield is over him.  Alex said you should be able to feel it like a layer of cotton wool."

Don nodded, sitting next to him to run a hand over his forehead, then his chest.  He pulled his primary wand and then his secondary one, tapping him gently on the chest while he said something.  Eric moaned and clutched his head so he destroyed the second and third shields he could feel too.  "Greg, there's a really old spell on him," he said quietly.  "I'm not sure I can remove it."

Greg came over, testing to see what he felt.  "You can.  That's the lynchpin the others hooked into.  Apparently he saw one of us working in the past and they tried to shield him from the knowledge without an obliviate attached.  That way he could still access it but not speak of it.  Alex does that when he has to gather stuff from archeologists in the field.  This would be just like stripping a spell off something else."

Don nodded and picked up his first wand again, going slower this time, muttering the incantation.  Eric suddenly arched up, then burst out crying.

"Shh, hey," Greg soothed, holding him, moving Don out of the way.  "It's all right, Eric. I've got you.  You're all right."

"Speed," he whispered.

"Shh, tell us when you're ready."

Horatio looked at Danny, who nodded and took the address he wrote down. "Check to make sure he's there," he requested quietly.  Danny nodded and headed out.  He moved closer.  "Eric?"  Eric looked at him.  "What happened?"  Eric latched onto him, hugging him.  "Shh, Eric, what happened?"

"She was raising him, H."

"Who was?"


He swallowed and forced himself to stay calm.  "Okay.  We'll do what we can, Eric.  For right now, use Danny's bed to rest.  We've shielded you so you can rest."  That got a nod and he helped him lay back down.  "You rest. I'm going to be downstairs."  He nodded.  "Good boy, Eric.  You rest."  Eric closed his eyes and Stella moved over to fuss over him for a bit while he and Don walked outside.  "I know one of those was mine.  Could you feel if the others were male or female?" he asked quietly.

"The oldest one was male.  The newer ones were all female, Horatio."

"Thank you."  He looked at Mac.  "Go retrieve my ME please."  He nodded, going to do that.  "Thank you, Don."  That got a nod and he headed off to get something to eat.  Horatio went back down to the lobby to wait on Danny and Mac to return.  Danny came back first, shaking his head.  "No body?"

"No body.  Grass was fixed but no body."  He swallowed.  "We think?"

"I know, not think, Danny.  Mac went to get her."

He nodded.  "He'll yell."  He looked back as the doors slammed open, turning to look at the woman storming in.  "You could have killed Eric," he said quietly, making her stop and stare at him.  "He's got symptoms of backlash."  She shivered.  "Where is he?"  She opened her mouth.  He grabbed her and shook her.

"Danny!" Horatio ordered.

He stared into her eyes.  "If you did it wrong, Alexx Woods, you could have given something much worse an opening, then he'd have to die again.  We need to tie off the energy.  Where is he?"

"Calleigh's house," she whispered.  "She knew but she refused to help."  She looked at Horatio.  "I'm sorry."

He nodded.  "We will be talking.  Danny?"

"I know where it is," he agreed.  "I looked it up on the way over."  He headed out with Mac this time.  "Did you yell?" he asked once they were in the car.

"I forced myself not to.  What thing?"

"The First Evil, Mac.  Resurrections done wrong give her a gateway back.  She can destroy this whole plane of existence and there's not much we can do to fight her.  She was covered under 'odd things to give you nightmares' in Defense."  He sighed.  "He's not the first to be risen, that's why we know," he admitted quietly a moment later.  He found the apartment building and got out, heading to the elevator.  He pushed a button, taking him up to her apartment.  He tapped gently and a blonde woman opened it, glaring at him.  "We need to make sure he came back right.  Nothing further."

"You can't."

"I can," Danny said, pulling his wand and moving her.  She shrieked and he glared.  "Don't even."  He walked past her, finding the man on the bed.  "Tim?"  The man woke up with a moan.  "I've got to cast the checking spell on you."  He gave him the most pitiful look. Tim looked different, thinner, than the last time he had seen him.  He almost looked weaker in some ways.

"Why?" he asked, looking at him.  "Are you dead?"

"No, and neither are you."  Speed sat up, staring at him.  "Alexx resurrected you last night."

"Don't tell him that!" she yelled.

Speed glared at her, making her back up. "You did what to the natural order?" he asked blandly.

"Fucked it all ta hell and back," Danny offered, moving closer.  "Preston told us how to do this.  I've got to.  If so, we'll have to tie down your magic, Speed."

"I know."  He shifted position, getting comfortable.  "You're in practice, right?"

"And taking lessons from Dumass."

"Wow."  He blinked at that. "How old is he now?"

"Twenty-one, just barely," Danny said with a smirk.  "Deaged back to five a few years back."  He pulled his wand, checking him over.  He found one small spot of wrongness and it was easily cleaned out of him, sending the food that had been in his body before he died into the bathroom.  Speed moaned at that.  "Sorry.  Purging."  He finished it and checked him over again, then got up and helped him up. "You're good.  Want to borrow my wand?"

"Please."  He walked to the mirror and checked himself over, slumping in relief.  "Thank you, Danny."

"Not an issue."  He took his wand back.  "She used Eric.  Don Flack Jr. undid her shields on him."

"Damn it," Speed muttered, grabbing his shirt and walking out into the living room.  "We'll be talking, Calleigh."

"I'm sorry, but we had to," she pleaded.  "Speed!"

"Not yet," he said, holding up a hand.  He looked at Mac, then at Danny.  Then back at Mac.  "Where's Horatio?"

"He's anchoring the spell on the convention this weekend. He can't leave the hotel until it's canceled."

"Okay.  Any idea where my wand is?"

"Ask Horatio," Mac ordered.  "I know he checked it on you to see why your natural magic didn't defeat the bullet."

"Because I was working on protection spells around Calleigh and Alexx."  He walked out, slamming the door behind him, heading down to the car.  Danny came out a minute later and Mac followed.  "Her?"

"Horatio said she was to stay there until he got free later.  Eric's on Danny's bed at the moment."

"Backlash," Danny offered in explanation as he started the engine.  He backed out, heading back to the hotel.  "Need to stop for a latte on the way?" he joked.

"No, I'm always grumpy," he reminded him dryly, frowning a bit.  "When did you come out at work?"

"Recently.  The old torture hall missed some people on purpose.  I've been refreshing myself while we train them."

"Good.  You were too good to go down that way."  He looked out the window.  "Take a right."  Danny did that, letting him drive past the office, then back to the hotel.  He got out and walked inside, finding Horatio waiting.  "Hi."

"Speed," he said calmly, looking him over.  "Are you all right?"

"Yes.  Why didn't you tell me you knew magic!" he said, slapping him on the arm.  "Bastard!"

Horatio smirked at him.  "You never told me either, Speed.  Alex Dumass told me."

"Oh."  He frowned. "You should have better sensing than that, H."

"I should," he agreed calmly.  "Alexx is in my room.  Eric is in Danny's."

"Is Eric all right?"

"Fine.  Tired but fine.  She needed someone normal to help her."  Speed nodded at that.  "Calleigh?"

"Still living."  Horatio smiled at that. "I'm still pissed."

"As I would be."  He moved closer.  "It's up to you about staying, Tim.  I'm not going to tell you any differently," he offered quietly.

Speed punched him, knocking him down then walking over him. "That's your damn answer, Horatio.  Where's my wand?"

"On my dresser," he called, rubbing his jaw as he was helped up by Danny.  "He's a bit upset."

"Ya think?" Danny asked dryly.  "He'll be fine.  No wrongness that wasn't the food left in his body from before he died."  He clapped him on the back.  "You wanna go save her?"

"I'm not getting in the middle of that shouting match."  He walked over to the desk to warn them there was going to be a lot of shouting from his room, explaining it as an officer was having a bad argument with his spouse.  Then he went to lurk outside to make sure no one else died.

Danny looked at Mac. "Beer?"

"It's too early for beer, but we're going to be talking."  He led him off by his arm, taking him to his room to talk to him about the accusations he had made to Stella.


Speed sat down next to Eric at lunch time, uncovering the takeout box.  Eric moaned and woke up, blinking at him. "Yeah, I'm real.  It wasn't a nightmare for anyone but me."  He held out the box.  "Dinner?"

"Please."  He sat up, scooting back some. "How....  Speed?"

Speed reached over and pinched the hell out of his arm, making him yelp.  "See, told you I was real."

"But...how?"  Speed pulled his old wand and hit him with it, not with a spell, just a tap on the head.  "Huh?"  He looked at the wand, then at him.  "Like the Harry Potter books?"

"Yeah, and I have it on good authority Harry hates those books.  Danny and Don from New York know him."  He shifted to face him.  "How did she talk you into it, Eric?"

He slumped. "She said it was to make your afterlife happier, to make sure your last rites were done and accepted."  He looked at him. "My grandmother whispered about that stuff," he said miserably.  Speed nodded.  "I didn't think it'd do...this."

Speed nodded again.  "It was a rite of resurrection.  Calleigh agreed that it could be done and she wouldn't say anything about it, but she wouldn't help."

"That's why she came to me."

"Yup."  He leaned closer.  "Now we've got to work on how to torture them since you're about as emotionally damaged as I am at the moment."

"We pulled you back from heaven?"

"Kinda."  He smirked a bit. "I was bored anyway.  There's no motorcycles."  Eric cracked a smile at that.  "So we'll be okay?"  Eric nodded, taking a bite of his sandwich, not taking his eyes off him.  "I'm not disappearing unless I get shot again."

"You get shot again and we're pulling you back sooner."

"One do-over per life, Delko.  No second times after this."  Eric nodded at that.

"Then I'd clean your gun this time," Horatio said as he walked in, closing the door behind him.  "Eric, are you all right?"

"Better now, H."  He looked at him.  "You have one of those. I saw you using one years ago, when I first came on."

"You did, and I blocked the memory from you so no one could hurt you because of it."  He sat down, looking at him.  "Are you all right with that?  I don't use mine anymore."

"Fat chance that'll keep happening," Speed said firmly.  "I'm not the only wizard in the PD, I'm not handling all the strange shit cases by myself anymore, Horatio.  You can have some too."  He glared at him.  "Selfish bastard!"

"Speed," he warned.

"I was working an extra ten or twenty cases a month about the magic stuff."

"Then I'll gladly help," he agreed quietly.  "I'm not in active practice.  I went back to my old life after I found control."

"So!" he said hotly.  "You're back in active practice now or I'm kicking your ass.  I'll make sure you practice, you make sure I clean my gun.  Deal?"

"If that's the only way to make sure you do," he agreed.

"Probably," Speed said dryly.  "It's not like I'm used to that stuff."


"How are you going to explain him coming back to life?" Eric asked.

"That we'll figure out later," Horatio offered.  "Alexx did it so I'm assuming she had an answer to that as well."

"Hell, I can always be my little brother," Speed noted dryly.  "It wouldn't be the first time.  Eat, Eric."  He ate another bite.  "Thank you."  He looked at him.  "Calleigh and Alexx?"

"Are ready to beg for forgiveness.  If you'll hear them out."

"Not tonight I'm not."

"Agreed."  Someone tapped on the door so he got up to answer it.  "Danny."

"Keep the room for a bit, Horatio.  I've got to pack."  He nodded at Eric, then flicked his wand at the dresser. "Restora."  The clothes flew into the suitcase, folded and clean like they had been when he had packed them at home.  He grinned as he gathered them, then nodded.  "If you need us, call. You know where we are."  Horatio smirked a bit and nodded.  "Let me make sure I didn't forget anything."  He did a quick turn around the room, finding the few souvenirs and packing them.  Then he punched Speed on the shoulder.  "Write, bastard.  Tony too."   He left, heading down to catch a cab back to the airport.

"Danny, Stella's got a rental," Don offered from the front desk.  Danny stopped to hand in his key and whisper that Horatio was using his room for that domestic he was solving.  She nodded, making a note of that, then he looked at Don. "You done?  All packed?"

"Of course."  He saw Tony coming off the elevator and smiled.  "Tony, call, man.  Soon!"  He got another grin and a nod.  "Especially if you need help with him.  I would've come to Philly for you."  He smirked and walked out with Don.  "Mac?"

"Already out there.  He called to make sure I made it."  He grinned at him.  "Next time we should apparate or portkey," he said quietly.

"Too much chance of being seen."  He got into the back, his bag on his lap.  "Flying tonight or tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow night. I've got dinner with the folks tonight.  This'll be when they yell."

"You did good earlier," Danny assured him, grinning at him.  "Nearly as good as Ron."  That got a smug look.  "They send you home with more books?"

"Hell yes, especially on transfiguration.  I guess we're back to that our next weekend there."

"It's a fun class," Danny offered with a grin.

"Can you do the animagus thing?"

"Never thought to try," Danny said. "I might now.  Greg said being a lizard is fun."  There were a lot of things about his past life that he wasn't planning on sharing so that little lie was okay with him.

Don grinned. "I can imagine you as some pissed off kitten now and then."  Danny swatted him with a fierce glare. "I can!  Especially right now!"

"Keep it up. Get a bludger to the head during practice," he joked.

"Yeah, yeah.  Blow me," he joked back.

"You're the one who says you're straight."  Don gave him an odd look. "Oh, please.  I went to boarding school.  I tried them both there, just in case.  Doing boys was encouraged so you didn't get some poor girl expelled for being knocked up."

"That's why my mother refused to let me board," Mac agreed.

"Guys, you're giving me thoughts that're giving me a headache and are going to make me crash," Stella complained. "Not even the magical vibrators Don gave me will help with that thought.  Quit until I can disappear."

"Sorry," Danny offered with a bright, wicked grin.  "Draco said if you wanted the rest of the box you were more than welcome to them.  Greg said so."

"No thanks, I've got enough now," she assured him.  "So quit unless you want to walk to the airport."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Thank you."  She shook her head and muttered in Greek the rest of the way there because men were bad things.  It was men like the ones in the back seat who were the reason she didn't date.


Danny walked up to his front door, finding it open.  "Crap," he muttered, pulling his gun before dropping his bag next to the door.  He nudged the door open with his foot.  "NYPD," he announced.  "Don't make me shoot you.  I don't need my coworkers to come over tonight."  He moved in, slowly searching the kitchen, then the hidden areas since the door was open.  He found Lindsey in on his bed and glared, putting his gun up.  "What the fuck are you doing in here!" he shouted.

"I came to see how the convention went," she defended.

"So you decided you were Goldilocks?"  He pointed.  "Out.  Now!"  She pouted.  He pulled out his phone, calling Mac, and as it turned out Stella and Don.  "Get over here.  Now."  He hung up and glared at her some more.  "Out of my bedroom!"

"Not until you explain why it looks like you're making drugs," she snorted.


"Your little lab?" she sneered.

"That's herbal stuff, thank you.  Not drugs. Totally legal and sold in a few nicer shops in the city."  She sneered at him.  "It is.  Mac's going to be checking anyway."  Someone pounded on the door and walked in.  "Don?"

"Me," Stella called.  She walked in and looked at Lindsey.  "Uh-huh."  They shared a look.  "I thought you protected the door against her."

"I did," he said bitterly.  "Specifically I might add."  He stomped off, going to get his bag.  He found Mac and Don coming up the stairs.  "Get Monroe the hell off my bed, out of my apartment, and tell her I'm not making drugs!"

"Calm down," Don said quietly, heading in there.  He found the doorway and walked back there, finding Stella yelling how she could be arrested for breaking and entering.  "Maybe we should," he agreed.

"You're in it with him!" she shouted, getting off the bed.  "You're in on his little drug running business!"

"Excuse me?" Don demanded.  "I don't touch the shit, Monroe!  I never have, I never will."  She backed away from him.

"Don, leaking," Stella said gently, laying a hand on his arm.  "Calm down."

"She just accused...."

"I heard," Mac noted as he came in with Danny, who tossed his bag next to his dresser.  "Lindsey is going to show me what she thinks she found. I've got my kit in the car.  We can test any substance in there," he said calmly. "Then she and I are going to have a talk at the station."

"She accused me...."  Don started again.

Mac held up a hand.  "I heard," he repeated firmly.  "I know you're not.  Now, Lindsey, let's go see this suspected drug lab of yours."

"Not mine," she snorted. "I tested stuff myself. I found opium."

"You may have found poppy tea but it's not illegal or dangerous," Danny said blandly.  "It's basically the same strength as a poppy seed muffin."  He looked at Mac.  "Get her out of my bedroom."  He nodded and walked her out.  He glared and pulled his wand, casting something quietly and making her yelp.  "Wigs," he muttered, going to reset the spell against her again.  Once she left the apartment, one way or another, she wouldn't be coming back.  He walked into the lab with Mac's kit, handing it to him.  "Here."

"Thank you, Danny.  Poppy tea?"

"Everything's labeled, Mac.  Read them."  He crossed his arms, watching him gather samples to test.  He glared at Lindsey when she moved closer.  "You're in so deep for breaking into my place.  When did you get here?"


"How much earlier?" he demanded.

"None of your business."

"It's my fucking apartment!" he shouted.  Someone pounded on the door so he walked out there, cutting Stella off.   He saw a cop out there and pulled his badge.  "One of my coworkers was in here waiting on me when I got home from a weekend out of town," he said dryly.  "My supe is in there with her."

"That's fine, Detective.  We got a report of a woman screaming."

"No, more than one, Steve," Stella assured him. "This is Danny, he's on my shift.  Don's in the kitchen."

"Okay.  I'll leave this in your hands."  He smiled at her. "We miss you at the pool hall, Stella."

"I'll drop by next weekend when I'm off shift," she promised with a wink and a smile.  He grinned and nodded, walking off, reporting back that it was handled and an officer's place. She walked over and closed the door, making Danny look at her.  "Calm down. Don's the one who leaks like a sieve."  He nodded and turned, hitting the wall, then calming down.  "Thank you.  What poppy tea?"

"The purple stuff Greg had us buy for a few lessons?"

"Oh, that stuff.  That's poppy tea?  Mine's dried."

"Yeah, and you add boiling water then strain three minutes later and it's tea," he noted dryly, heading that way again.  Lindsey was opening a cabinet and he snorted.  "You're not going to find anything in there, Monroe."  She pointed at the boxes and he looked.  "I don't take over the counter cold stuff.  I haven't in years.  It makes me puke."  He looked at Mac.  "You know that."

"I do."  Lindsey glared at them.  "He does.  Sheldon had to dose him the last time, Lindsey."  She moaned and slumped a bit, then moved the boxes to show off something else.  "Lindsey, he doesn't make enough to buy that stuff.  None of us do."  She glared at him. "Seriously."

"Maybe his family gave it to him."

"Considering my family kicked me out when I went to college and they're in Italy, and have been for the last few months?  Doubt it," he noted dryly.  "My family hates my ass, Monroe.  They have for many years because I didn't follow the family's plans for my future."  She glared at him.  "Anyone from the old neighborhood can tell you that.  Hell, I can call my mother if you wanna ask her.  She'll swear at you and assure you she kicked me out and tossed my clothes after me for being a bastard and not following my father's grand plans."  She backed off.  "Mac, I want her out of here.  I want that shit she obviously planted out of here as well.  You can dust for fingerprints and won't find mine."

"I've already done that," she sneered, showing him a box.  "See, that's yours."

"How would you have compared it?" Stella asked from behind Danny.  "Danny cleaned before we left for the convention.  I stood here and watched him wipe the whole apartment down, Lindsey."  She shrieked and tried to attack her but Danny pushed her back into the wall, glaring at her.  "Bad idea. That's assault."

"I'm sure someone will listen to me."

"Yeah, crackheads," she said happily, smirking at her.

"You're all in this together!" Lindsey shouted.

Danny pulled his wand.  "You wanna know what this is really about, Lindsey?  What we're hiding from you?"  She sneered and nodded.  "Okay."   He pointed his wand at her and changed her into a small, furry dog.  An ugly dog, but a small, yappy one.  "That's what this is about."  He walked out, going to call Timmy. "Come get the bitch I just changed in my apartment.  Monroe was waiting on me, she planted evidence showing I was making drugs, and now she's a bitch."  Don choked and groaned from the kitchen.  "Don, make me some coffee please?"  He listened to the calming words.  "No, I'm not changing her back!  She was waiting for me on my bed!"  He hung up and looked at Mac.  "He won't be back for a few hours."  He went to unpack and remake his bed.  There was no way he was sleeping on those sheets until well after they were washed.

Stella came in.  "How do I make a muzzle?"  He got into an old trunk in his closet, handing her one.  "What did you used to have?"

"A cat.  It hated to travel."  He shrugged and got back to making his bed.  "If the landlord comes back, tell him it snuck in and that's what the screaming was."

"Sure."  She went to muzzle the dog, it was a bit tight but it worked well enough, then she went to check on the coffee.  "She's a lap dog."

"Wonderful.  What did Timmy say?"

"He's not home yet."  She shrugged.  "You wanna call someone?"

"Nope.  I'm staying out of that one except to support Danny."  They shared a look and he shrugged.  "Not my issue, Stella.  It's his.  I would've picked something without vocal cords."

She smiled and nodded.  "Maybe an amoeba."   Mac coughed and she looked at him.  "It'd be quieter."

"It would be," he admitted.  Someone pounded on the door and he walked over to answer it. "Hi.  Sorry about the noise. One of our coworkers snuck in here with her dog and was waiting on Danny to get home.  He's already had her sent off and we're waiting on someone to take the dog."

"Okay.  It will be gone?"

"Yeah," Danny called, coming out of the door. "Not an issue.  Not like I want the ugly little thing."  He went back in there to retrieve it, bringing it back out. "See?"

"It is really ugly," he agreed.  "If it makes a mess, you clean it up."

"If it makes a mess, I'm making her owner clean it up with her tongue.  Not an issue.  She broke in here."

"Which one?"

"Monroe.  The new girl."  The landlord nodded. "Sorry about the yelling. I came in and she was on my bed.  Then she tried to say my tea stash is drug-making."

The landlord snorted.  "Not hardly.  You're a cop!"  He walked off shaking his head. "Have fun and get rid of the dog."

"Yes, sir!"  He looked at Lindsey. "You cause me more hell and I'm having you fixed," he sneered.  She quit struggling.  "Good."  He put her down and walked off, going back to clean out his lab once he put on a pair of gloves.  "Mac, I stole gloves from your case."

"That's fine.  Better safe than sorry, Danny."  Someone tapped politely on the door and he opened it, letting Timmy in.  He pointed at the dog. "There she is."

"Daniel," Timmy called, walking that way.  He looked around the lab, then shuddered.  "She was setting you up?"

"She was also on my bed reading one of my magazines when I walked in."  He looked at him. "She can stay a damn dog for all I give a shit.  If she gives me more hell, I'm having her fixed."

"Fine," he soothed.  "I can take her home and change her back."

"Mail her to Tony," he snorted. "Or Speed."

"Speed has more than enough on his plate at the moment and Tony stayed an extra day to hang out with him."  Danny grinned at that. "I know.  He was your keeper and your trouble buddy.  I'm hoping Tony doesn't pull what Woods did and resurrects his former teammate who recently died as well."  Danny nodded, getting back to work. "I'm sure we can find out where she bought all this stuff up if something comes of it."

"Yeah, hopefully," Danny said quietly. "You want her back, you change her back, you keep her ass away from me and away from IAB so she can't follow through with her threats," he said more calmly.

"I agree.  Would you accept it if we wiped the past month from her memories in a more permanent way?  Let her prove her intentions without the stress and drama?"

"No," he said honestly.  "I don't think it'd work.  She's breaking free of the oblivious."

"Point.  There's a more permanent way though.  I can get someone from Canada's Mysteries department to help with this."  He looked out at Mac.  "We can remove the last month permanently," he offered quietly.  "Make it seem like she was in an accident or something."

"I'm not sure I can trust her," he offered. "Even with that she was causing stress."  He looked at Stella and Don, then at Timmy.  "I'll be more than happy to write her a nice evaluation and send her on, Tim.  I can't have this drama in my lab."

"Agreed.  Danny?"  Danny flicked his wand with a muttered 'fucking finite incantantum' and then went back to his purging.  "By the way, good work with Speed today, Danny."  Danny nodded at that.    "Old man Prestons would've been proud of you and how you managed to hide it and still keep some knowledge."

"I put it all in a pensieve," he admitted quietly.  "I didn't want to remember and use it when I got too stressed."

"I understand."  He clapped him on the arm and looked at Lindsey.  "We are going to talk, young lady.  Then we'll be finding you somewhere more suitable to be."

"Missouri?" Danny offered.

"That's mean," Tim assured him with a smirk.  "You don't have any of your old pictures?"  He walked her out by the arm, taking her back to his place to call their overlord and see what he wanted to do with her.  Then he called Horatio to arrange for him to find her a spot somewhere nice down there in a small lab where she could have personal supervision. That was right before her last month was taken from her by a more powerful wizard, who had a bit of a sadistic streak with how much he enjoyed it. Besides, everyone wanted to retire to Florida, right?


Don tapped on Danny's door the next night, jimmying the lock when he didn't hear him.  He knew Danny was home already.  "Messer?" he called as he walked in.  "Did you get eating by a unicorn?"

"They're herbivores," he called from the bedroom.  Don walked that way.  "Sorry, I was looking at some old stuff from my school years."

"Yeah?  Let's see."  He sat beside him, looking at the pictures he had out.  "Who's that?"

"Tony."  He grinned at the old shot of the team together.  "My junior year's house team."  He let him hold it.  "Tony was our lead chaser, Speed out keeper, and I'm the great hope of beaters everywhere," he said fondly, picking up another one. "This was taken right before I fell."  He let him have that one.

"How did you fall?"

"Intentional foul from the other team," he said quietly, taking the pictures back.  Don put a hand on his arm so he looked at him.  "Not my family that I could ever find out."

"That's good at least."  He gave the wrist a squeeze. "You never wore wrist guards?"

"Wouldn't have mattered.  I fell from near the top of the middle goal.  I landed on that arm.  It nearly shattered."  He looked in his old trunk, then smiled and pulled something out.  "That's the team I was signed with before I got hurt."  He let him see the old poster.

"I'm sure they're happy you can still play and that you're such a good guy."

"Maybe," Danny agreed, taking it back and putting everything up.  "I found my lucky shirt but it's too tight to wear."

"Can't be too lucky if you were hurt," he offered quietly.  Danny nodded at that. "You were holding a black broom in that last picture."

"I ended up selling it years ago," he said, looking at him.  "I was getting depressed seeing it in the closet every time I took out a shirt.  I couldn't take it so I sold it to a student who came behind me who was looking pretty good.  It's been passed down to the better player each generation in my old house from what I hear.  They symbolically ride it at least once their first year."  Don smiled at that. "Yeah, I'm a big pile of mush today.  Come on, we need to make sure we can play together still.  Dumass is tons better than me."

"He told me how he codes plays," Don offered.

"Good.  We can use that."  He gathered his brooms and let Don get the balls, locking and sealing the door with his wand this time, then following him down to the car.  "Sorry, I was having a bad case of 'I remember when' syndrome."

"We all get it.  I was a pain in the ass when I was that age."

"I was a bastard," Danny admitted with a slight grin.  "I was every bit a thug."  Don smirked at that. "Yeah, the cocky jock with the family to back it up.  Who would've thought, huh?"  He got into the car, letting Don drive since he knew the way now.  "Your dad or sister coming?"

"Dad said he'd come for the first match if I made it onto the team.  Tim called and said we've got one other person trying out.  Stella's going for chaser if we can get her trained so we're picking her up.  I took her to get her broom late last night, after shift."

"That's good.  At least she'll have her own.  I need time on my game broom to make sure it's still up to snuff."  Don nodded at that.  "When's tryout?"

"Tomorrow after work and Mac said you've got tomorrow off."  He grinned at him. "That way you can do whatever fancy jock rituals you need ta."  He turned, pausing in front of Stella's building, honking twice.  She came jogging down the stairs and got into the back.  "Hey.  You ready?"

"As I'll ever be."  She buckled up and Don took off.  Danny grinned back at her.  "What's going on in your place?"

"Nothing much.  I was going through some old pictures really.  I was going to have a few copied and send 'em to Speed and Tony.  Remind 'em of the good days."

"That's cool."  She ruffled his hair, earning an outraged noise.  "Lindsey left for Palm Beach today."

"Good," Danny agreed happily.  "Any memories leaking yet?"

"Not a one.  He totally ripped everything and Mac cleaned her name off any casefiles from that time."   She smiled at them.  "So, Don, find any good blackmail material?"

"Nope.  Some good pictures of him on his broom back in the day with Speed and that Tony guy.  He showed me his junior and senior quidditch pictures."  She beamed at Danny for that.  "Can you clean the brooms out of the picture?"

"I'm not sure you can do that on wizarding photos," Danny admitted. "I'll have to ask, just in case."  He shrugged and slumped down a bit as they pulled into the park.  For some reason he had a bad feeling about this.  "Don, let's get a burger first."

"We'll lose the light by the time you feed your bottomless pit stomach, Messer," he said patiently.  He glanced at him. "You don't have that divination shit, right?"  Danny shook his head.  "You're sure?"  Danny looked at him and nodded. "Good.  Then why the worry?"

"Just a dark feeling."  He shrugged. "I get the same walking into most alleys without knowing who's down there."

"Fine."  He parked in the same parking lot, getting out and grabbing his broom.  "Stella, help me get the balls since he's got both his brooms."

"Sure."  She got out and helped him grab the ball case.  Danny followed behind them.  She heard a muttered curse and looked back.  "What?"

"Some stupid prankster tied my shoelaces together," Danny said patiently, untying them, letting Don have his brooms to hold.  He got done and stood up, turning to look at the kids gathered behind them. "Yes?" he asked calmly.

"You're Messer, right?"  He nodded.  "You're playing again?"

"The PD has a team," he admitted.  "I'm trying out for it.  I haven't played in years because of my wrist."

"Oh."  One of the kids stepped forward.  "You're too old to play."

"Yeah, tell that to Potter's teammate Bear," Don snorted. "He's in his forties, kids.  You mind?  We're practicing for the PD team."

"You're a cop?" he sneered.  "Where did you go to school?"

"Scotland. I have private tutors."  He smirked.  "I'm also a curse breaker."  They backed off at that.  "Danny, we got issues?"

"Nah.  Old house rivalries," he said, nodding at one kid's scarf.  "I graduated that shit long ago, kids.  Have a better night and maybe I'll see you guys at the game."  He turned and walked off with them.

"Sonny says you don't play," one of them yelled.

Danny put up a shield by reflex and turned, barely holding in the thrown hex he wanted to use.  The kid's hit him and he sneered.  "You're how old?"


"Oooh, so he sends a little kiddie after me?" he taunted.  "Yeah, real smart, kid.  Run home to your daddy.  Before I take you back to the school and have them tan your ass for ya."  He turned and walked off again, shaking his head.  "I am calm," he said quietly.  "I am staying very calm.  I will not attack the minor child from my rival house.  He is stupid and I'm far beyond that and I am staying calm."  Stella gave him a worried look.  "I am."

"I'm proud of you for it," she agreed gently, taking off her jacket once they got to the field.  "Are you sure we can leave this stuff down here?"

Don smirked at her.  "Alex knows every single lock spell in existence, Stella.  He's taught me a great many."  He put everything in one of the privacy shelters and let Danny lock it, then locked it overtop of him.  "Let me know when you're ready to change brooms, Danny."

Danny nodded and let loose the bludger, then handed Stella the quaffle.  "Get used ta it and join us, Stell."  He flew up to bat around the stubborn ball, just warming up.  His new wrist guards were slid into between hits and then Don joined him in his own.  "So, how did you practice?"

"Against Ron mostly.  He helped the twins.  Bear came up for a day of practice too. He wanted to play with Alex."  He swooped and hit the bludger with an evil smirk.  Danny laughed and slung it back at him, then switched hands with the bat and hit the next return on that side, his sore one.  It made him wince a bit.  He switched back.  "You okay?"

"Fine.  I can't hit both handed anymore.  Not a great loss.  It was my weaker side anyway."  He dove, hitting the bludger up at Don's tail, making him spin out of the way and hit it back toward Stella.  Danny got in the way and hit it off, then chased it since it was heading toward the kids.  He saved them and continued on.  "Sorry, guys."  He got higher up again,  getting back into the swing of things.  "Stella," he called a few hits later.  "Catch the bludger!"  He hit it at her, letting her dive to catch it and wrestle it back into the box.  "Okay, now join us.  The balls are fine."  She nodded and mounted up with the quaffle under one arm, joining them.  "Okay, three main things.  Passing, carrying, and aiming.  Guys like us will be trying to hit you with the bludger.  Guys like other chasers will be doing anything they can to stop you.  That includes cramming in on either side, nudging, stealing, hitting your broom with theirs, but that's a foul, and then you've got ta shoot."  One of the kids flew up and Danny looked at him. "Keeper?"  He nodded.  "Which house?"

"York."  He clapped his hand and Stella tossed him the ball.  "Not bad.  Most of them throw one handed. Remember, the hoops are big and keepers can only be in one spot at a time."

"True."  She got the ball back and threw it overhand, making him smile. "Better?"

"Much.  Now do it while looping around."  He tossed it back and she got into it, doing as he ordered. "You're pretty decent for being ancient," he said after a few more passes.

"I'm not even old enough to be your mother, kid."  She threw at him again and he dove to catch it, making her smirk.  "Besides, I'm playing with other wizards my age. Not the little kids at the school."

"You guys ever come talk to us?"

"I don't know.  We've got a union rep in Timmy Blastmore.  He ever show up?"  The kid shook his head.  "I'll mention it.  Maybe I'll come instead'a him."  He grinned. "My old broom still hanging around?"

"Blackie?  Yeah. Safely stored in a nice locking cabinet against us.  We try every year, but it's still locked. Any idea how?"

"She was always a temperamental broom," he offered with a smirk, diving to catch the quaffle then hauling it at him.  The kid had to spin to catch it, smirking back.  "You're pretty good.  You going pro?"

"No, not right out of school.  Anyone who does ends up mysteriously being injured."

"Yeah, don't remind me," he said dryly.  "I thought my world had ended."  The kid nodded at that.  "Go for the major tryouts next spring, kid.  That should be long enough to clear it."  The kid smirked and threw the quaffle back to Stella.  "You're good."

"Thanks, old man.  By the way, Sonny said if we couldn't stop you, he was going to be betting on you."

"Yeah, well, Sonny's about to feel the wrath of my foot up his ass," he said dryly. "Remember, people like Sonny die horribly painful deaths at their friends' hands, kid.  You don't wanna be his sort if you want a future.  Been there, nearly didn't make it out to tell the stories."

"Understood.  He's still got a kid in the house right now."

Danny smirked.  "Thank you.  Her mother Daphne, or his mother June?"

"His mother's probably June.  He's a redhead."

"I know his Ma.  She'd be turning over in her grave.  He killed her right after she gave birth because she wanted ta move.  Now think about that."

"He's got a mother."

"No, he's got a stepma.  Tell him to trace it back and talk to Honey about June.  Tell him one of the Boys told you about it.  Then tell him to look up his half-sister Steph.  See what she can't say anymore."  He nodded once and flew down.  "You be careful, kid," he called after him.  He looked at Don, then at Stella.  "Blackmail," he said fondly. "Great things, huh?"

"You sure he killed her?" Don asked.

"I can't prove it, but I know he did."

"Can't prove it magically or at all?"

"At all.  Her dad got paid off and he was the only witness.  House burned right after that so no forensics.  The ME was paid off and said it was a suicide."  They nodded at that.  "The kid'll be a badass some day soon but he's only fifteen.  If he's got his father's brains, he's already got a juvie record."  He stole it then tossed the quaffle to Don, who caught it easily. "Burger?"

"Burger," Stella agreed, wiping the sweat off her forehead.  "This is really a workout."

"Yeah, better'n a treadmill any day," Danny agreed fondly. "Still gotta have strong legs though."  He landed, putting the ball back in the case.  He laid his broom down next to him while Don unlocked the privacy pavilion, taking back his other broom.  "You think I can play on my precious one there?"

"I think you're just as good on either," Don agreed, smirking at him. "Talent makes the player, not the broom."

"Yeah, it can, but a good broom goes very far," he said wisely.  Stella chuckled at that as she put on her jacket.  "Okay, let's be fed and then we'll talk about strategy back at my place?  Since I've got the nicer one and the good beer?"

"Sure," Don agreed, taking the brooms.  Stella got the balls.  Danny kept his wand in his hand, just in case.  It was getting dark and they were in Central Park.

The End.

To Part 4: