Slightly Evil Minions
Mac looked over at Danny when he walked into the station. "We have a murder in the Plaza hotel," he said.
"Let me get my case," he agreed, going to do that. He hated working Plaza cases. They always tried to keep things very quiet, including making them go up the service elevators so none of the 'right people' would see that someone had died. He came back with his case and his official jacket, getting a smile. "What floor?"
"36th." He led the way out to the SUV he had checked out for the case, getting in to drive. Danny may get to be alpha dog at home but Mac always got to drive when it was just the two of them. It was a fairly quiet drive. Danny turned on the radio to get updates on the traffic mess that was downtown Manhattan. They parked in the service parking lot and headed up on the service elevator, running into security. "Taylor and Messer, Crime Lab," he introduced.
"Inside please," he said, glancing around. "The resident is waiting on you."
"Sure." Danny walked in and paused, staring at the guy. "Right," he said dryly, smirking just a bit.
"Overlord!" the man said, hopping up and coming over to give him a hug. "You're a CSI?"
"Me and all three of us really," he admitted. "Your room, Rhyse?" He nodded. "You know the vic?"
"Not a clue, Overlord. I feel like I've met him but I don't know who he is. I walked in and he was there." He looked a bit helpless. "I have no clue what is going on. I went down for tea."
Danny looked at him. "You're not lying to me, right? 'Cause this is my case and if you do you're gonna be in deep shit, Rhyse."
"Good. Now, you did what when you came in?"
"I saw him laying there, I ran over to check his pulse. I grabbed the phone on the desk and I said something like 'guys there's a dead guy in my room'. I checked it again, then I sat down until the security guys got here. They checked him then called you while I was sitting down."
"Good," Mac agreed. "You didn't touch anywhere on the body other than the neck area?"
"No," he said, then he looked at Danny. "New minion?"
Danny grinned. "Eeeehhh, no." Because the look Mac gave him said he'd better say no. "Coworker, friend, etc and so forth." That got an understanding smile. "You keep in touch with any of the other minions?"
"Now and then," he admitted, sitting in the chair Danny pointed at. "I heard about Speed."
"Not quite the end of that story. See, there's a really nice lady named Alexx down there who adopted Speed when he went to work for Horatio. He's still working for Horatio."
"Caine? Like the house's keeper?"
"Yup, just like him," Danny agreed smugly, putting on gloves. "We've even got a fun team going on. Me, my two head underlings, him, a few missed students." That got a stare of awe. "One's a student of Dumass so we play against him, his other students, and his friends. Then again, Don and I play inter-city too." His minion whimpered. "You'd like Don."
"I take it you two went to school together?" Mac asked.
"Yeah. My minions of Mildly Evil Naughtiness were inter-house too." He grinned. "We were the second originally cooperative group. The other's the study area." He got down to look at the body. "Slit wrists."
"So he committed suicide?" the guard asked.
"Know who he is?" Danny countered.
"Um, yeah. He's one of our busboys," he admitted.
"That's probably why you thought you might recognize him, Rhyse. You saw him in the hall somewhere." He looked at his minion. "Ordered room service or something."
"Sure. I can agree with that. What's Tony doing?"
Danny snickered. "He's a Fed now. NCIS. He's basically doing the same thing only for Marine and Navy guys."
"Wow. My book collecting pales by that."
"Nah, the world needs book collectors, Rhyse," Danny assured him. "Someone's gotta horde the knowledge and keep it from the stupid people who're scared of it."
"True," he agreed, giving him a sheepish look and a slight blush. "How's your collection?"
"Still intact. It surprises me every time I walk in there, then I realize it was Speed who was the real book nerd. I read 'em all but he bought most of it." That got a higher-pitched giggle. He grinned at Mac. "No ME?"
"Not yet," he agreed. He looked at the cut. "There's something wrong with them."
"Yeah, they go up," Danny pointed out.
"You gonna slit your wrists you do it wrist to elbow usually, right?" Mac nodded, seeing what he was saying. "This guy, elbow to wrist. Not a real sharp blade it looks like either." He looked over. "Either of you see a pretty dull knife?"
"The room service cart up the hall had one but he ordered steak," the security guard offered. Danny nodded, going to collect that one. He looked at Mac. "I'm used to seeing you and Stella. She on vacation, Mac?"
"No. It was Danny's turn to show off," he said with a smile. He smiled at Danny's buddy too. "He's a very good CSI."
"Where did you go to school?"
"Ah." He nodded. "I didn't think I recognized you and I was on the yearbook committee." He leaned over with a hand held out. "Rhyse Parkham-Jones."
"Mac Taylor. I can't really shake your hand with the gloves on."
"Oh, sorry. I collect books, I was never good in anything like this stuff," he said with a hand flick. He looked at the guard. "They can't charge me if he got blood on the carpet, right?"
"Not unless you killed him, sir," the guard assured him.
Danny came in with the bagged knife and one other one from another cart. "Found another one up the hall. Mac, didn't Stella say your last one was in this room too?"
"It was," Mac agreed, thinking back. "Are you thinking the killer likes this room or that they're related?"
"Or maybe he's got a card key for this room?"
"I'll check our records," the guard assured him, calling down to the office on his cellphone, that way no one could overhear that something like this had happened here. He looked at the guest. "Sir, you're staying for how many more days?"
"Three," he admitted, giving him a small smile. "I won't be difficult if you want to move me to another room, nor will I mention it except to my wife." That got a smile and he added that before hanging up. "I'm mostly packed, should I?"
"Let me go through that room first," Danny ordered. Rhyse kept sitting there. "Good boy," he offered with a grin.
"I remember the last time I disobeyed an order of yours, Overlord."
Danny shrugged a bit. "Sorry I was so hard on you."
"My wife appreciates that you broke my snotty brat phase as she calls it," he said with a small grin. "I can't believe Tony's a Fed."
"He's a senior agent, second in command of his team, which is one of the best in the agency," Danny told him. That got a smile. "Still just as fashionable and tells just as many bad jokes too." That got a giggle and a nod. "We really should hold a reunion."
"We should but with the dreadful thing that happened with the headmistress...." Mac gave him a look. "You heard?"
"I made sure of it," Danny promised. "Got it all back too, baby." Rhyse shivered. Danny winked and got back to work. "Can we roll him yet or should we wait for an ME?"
"Let's wait for now."
"They're in the elevator," the guard offered. He opened the door and let them inside, nodding at the body handlers and the ME. "All yours."
"Thank you," Sid said with a smile. "I always love seeing the rooms here." He got down to check on him. "Wrists split up instead of down. Interesting. Dull blade." He checked a few other things. "Petechia in his eyes. Strangled and then bled it looks like." He got Mac's help rolling the body and looked at his chest and the puddle underneath. "How thick is the padding?"
"Inch and a half," the guard said. "We know from past experiments it absorbs at a liter a foot and a half."
Mac pressed around and nodded. "Not much blood." That got a sigh of relief. He smiled at the guard. "It'll be okay. I would like to know how many other murders have been in this room. It'll be faster coming from your office than ours."
"That's fine. Someone's compiling the records now, Detective Taylor. You should have them by the time you go home." The ME got out of the way and the body was bagged up and taken down with him. "If you want the carpet, go ahead and take it up. We'll have to replace it anyway." That got a nod and they did that for him too. That way they knew how much blood had been spilled. "Sir, can he pack his things yet?"
"Yeah," Danny agreed, going in there with him. He looked at everything then at his minion. "Anything look touched to you?"
"No, nothing that I see, Overlord." He stared around, casting something quietly then shook his head. "Everything's in the same spot relative to the picture I took last night for the wife."
"Okay. Pack quick and they'll get you a new room." That got a nod and he did the packing spell, watching as his things floated out of the bathroom. "Even better." He carried one bag out then went to check the bathroom for anything that hadn't come out. There was a rose in there in a small vase. "Rhyse?" He came back to the doorway. "Flower in the bathroom?"
"Ah, a beautiful young escort last night that I bought that for," he said with a smile. "She said it wasn't her thing so I kept it."
"Want it for the wife?"
"Dear Merlin no," he snickered. "She'd kill me." He smiled and walked out with the guard, going to his new room. He didn't even have to go to the desk to get changed out, they did it in the elevator. The manager met them in there. It was first notch service in his book.
Danny printed things in there just in case, then he came out. "Cleaning crew is excellent here. I only got four real prints in the bathroom and bedroom." Mac smiled at that. "Usually you find hundreds."
"The Plaza is like that," he agreed. He gathered one last print and looked at him. "We'll need his to eliminate them." Danny handed over the bagged vase and flower, getting a smile. "That'll work. Minion?"
"Minion. Senior year," he admitted with a grin. He bagged the carpet and padding and sealed it. Mac gathered his things and they headed down to the SUV. The guard met them in the elevator.
"Three days, like usual," Mac ordered.
"Of course, Detective. If we can be of any help, let us know. Here's the information you wanted and the tapes for the last four hours." He handed over that bag, a canvas one with the Plaza logo on it. "I do hope we don't have to see you again professionally for at least a year."
"Us too," Danny assured him, nodding politely. "Thanks for the help."
"Not an issue, sir." He watched them leave then called his boss. "They're gone. They requested we keep it sealed at least three days." He got back an 'okay' and went back to make sure the room was locked up tightly and none of that hideous tape had been left outside the room. Their clientele would not appreciate seeing that.
Tony suddenly started to snicker, leaning on Ziva's arm. "Sorry, Danny ran into one of our minions." He kept giggling even after she pushed him off.
"Minion?" McGee asked, looking at him. "You had minions?"
He grinned at him. "No, Danny had minions. We were his second in commands over the rest of the minions." He smiled as Gibbs came in. "We have a case yet, boss?"
"Not yet," he admitted. "What's the joke this time?"
"Oh, Danny just ran into one of our minions."
Gibbs thought about that for a second. "I can see Danny being an evil overlord sort."
"They were the Minions of Mildly Evil Naughtiness. Only Speed and I got to be Minions of Evil Goodness."
"What year was this?"
"Senior year. After that ...fight in the school, Danny basically pulled a lot of crap to pull us all back together, boss. He got a lot of inter-house cooperation and everything. He just ran into our note-taking and research minion. He's the one that kept the updated library list and the notes we made and translated the ones we had stored from verbal into written accounts. A good quarter of the library is his notes."
Gibbs cracked a small smile at that. "I can't believe you studied."
"You'd be surprised what I studied, boss," he said with a smug look. "There's a reason why we three were on the front lines of the fight when it came to us." He stared him down and got a nod. "But some of Danny's ideas were taken down too. I really should get into the plans for Mild Evil. The truly evil ones were sealed by Speed just in case Danny snapped some day but the mildly evil ones should be just about fun," he said, glaring up at the director's doorway. "Hey, boss, I'm running out for lunch if we don't have anything. Bring you back anything?"
"Sure." He checked the clock on his computer then looked at his boss, who glared at him. "I know it's only eleven." He got to work on his next game of solitaire. He didn't feel like rating college butts today for some reason. Maybe he was going gayer today. It had happened in the past.... Then again, maybe he should get into the truly evil plans with the way the 'boss monitor' McGee installed for them all was going off. "I've got a blinking light," he announced quietly. He kept going. He didn't have any paperwork he needed to catch up on. Gibbs' phone rang and he looked over, smirking at his glower his way. "I'm caught up, boss. What did he want me to do, make up forms?"
"He said yes."
"I can take an early lunch," he said with a smile.
"No, DiNozzo." He listened to the boss complain. "He's caught up, Director. Would you rather have him watching porn or rating college girls' asses?" He hung up on the spluttering. "Don't you dare," he ordered when Tony moved to change screens. He didn't even have to look, he knew how his mind worked.
"I'm not even on a rate my butt site, Gibbs." He did change screens to his email, finding a new one from Horatio, making him smile at it. He answered and then looked at him. "First day of testimony in that mock trial."
"Wish them luck for me, DiNozzo."
"Already did, boss. Ryan's going first." He went back to his solitaire game, making mental plans. Speed smacked him once for thinking too loud so he let him know about the minion Danny had run into, making him cackle in the labs. "Speed's amused by him running into a minion on a crime scene too, boss," he said jovially. Gibbs threw something at him. "Can I go to lunch now, boss? The blinking light is annoying me." He got onto a site he had bookmarked, making the man upstairs probably have a heart attack. "Hmm, he logged off mine. Must not have liked the cows."
"I hate that site," McGee moaned. He heard the first moo from the speakers and moaned, shaking his head. "Please, Tony?" he begged. "Anything but the cows copulating site?"
"Fine," he complained, going back to his game.
"Go to lunch, DiNozzo," Gibbs ordered. Tony cackled and jogged to the elevator to go find that book in their library. He walked over to turn off the cow site himself at the second moo. He didn't want to watch cows copulate either. Or hear them.
Speed burst out in cackles, making Eric and Frank both give him horrified look. "Danny ran into one of our minions of Mildly Evil Naughtiness on a crime scene today," he said happily. "You guys would've liked our minions."
Frank patted him on the back. "Calm down, deep breaths, then go back to the Speed we all know and grunt at in annoyance when you're in a good mood," he said quietly. Speed just smirked and winked at Eric, making him go pale and wobble. "No, down off the evil kick, Speed. Don't make us knock you out." A quiet word behind them made him catch Speed. "Horatio!"
"It's better this way, Frank. Really." He helped him put Speed onto the breakroom couch then covered him up with the blanket in there. "He'll nap and be better in a while." He looked at Eric. "Calm down. Their minions weren't that bad. A few people in my year heard and cheered them on. It brought a lot of inter-house cooperation." Eric shuddered and walked out nearly whimpering. "He'll calm down later."
"Sure," Frank agreed patiently, patting him on the back. "Let's keep the evil thoughts out of the office, Horatio. Please." He walked off, going to hide at his desk. Maybe he had a good reason to leave the station for a bit. Let them calm down off their cackling with evil kick again.
Horatio checked Speed then went back to his lab, going to help Speed's case for a while. Calleigh gave him an odd look when he walked in and pulled on a lab coat. "Speed's napping right now. Danny ran into one of their minions earlier. Speed was cackling."
"Ah. That mood. The last time he did that Yelina nearly cried," she reminded him.
"Eric went pale this time. So apparently he heard since it was before he joined us." She smiled at that and handed over a sample. "Thank you, ma'am," he said with a smile. They got down to work, waiting to hear from Ryan about what had went on.
Tony appeared on the crime scene and handed his boss his lunch. "Food, edible, as requested, boss." He put his book inside the truck and got some gloves, going to help them. "What've we got, Probie?" he called as he walked over.
"Crap," he called. "Lots and lots of it."
"Oh, yummy. Glad I had lunch." He looked at the field then at him. "Horses, cows, or otherwise?"
"Goats believe it or not," Gibbs said from behind him. "The body's on the other side. We're doing a search to see if anyone stepped in one. Take this side."
"Sure, boss. But isn't the easier path from the driveway over there?" suggested, pointing it out. Gibbs nodded. "Work my way over then down?"
"That'll work, then quarter and cover the rest." Tony nodded, going carefully that way to do that. He did not want to slip nor did he want to step in anything. "Should I confiscate that book, DiNozzo?"
"Only if you want to see Danny retrieve it, boss," he called back. "It'll call out to him if you touch it."
"Whatever," he muttered, going to glance at it. "Mildly Evil Plans," he read off the cover. "Written under authority of the Overlord, Our Evil One Daniel. Not to be tampered with outside the Minions or else great harm could fall. Beware ye who are not a minion and have not been blessed by the Overlord." He snorted and reached out but his phone rang. "Messer," he said dryly, listening to the quiet warning about the curse laid on the book for those who weren't part of the group. "Fine, I'll leave it alone. No, it's here. DiNozzo brought it back from lunch." He smirked at his promise to spank Tony later for that. "I think he was planning on needing it." He nodded and left it there, hanging up when he did. Not that he didn't like Tony using the evil plans on the pro-tem director - because the guy annoyed the hell out of him - but it wasn't very correct if he wanted to keep Tony employed on his team. Tony came off the field looking disgusted. "Slip and fall?"
"No, thankfully I was on the driveway when he yelled. I warned you not to touch it."
"Good! Because Danny's the only one who can counter that." He handed over the camera. "Isn't that hummer treads?"
He looked and nodded. "Those are. Driveway?"
"And off into the goat patties." He took it back and went back to noting the trail for the others. This was the exciting work, really it was. It just made his day.
Danny leaned back at his desk, smirking a bit. He was proofing his last report so it could be handed in. Stella peeked in at him and he waved at her. She slowly walked in. "What?"
"Of Mildly Evil Naughtiness. Only Speed and Tony got to be true Minions of Evil for me," he agreed while he read. "You should've seen Mac's face when the one we ran into asked if he was a minion."
"Not really. I saw his face while he ranted for the last twenty minutes," she admitted, looking at him. "I'm not considered one, right?"
He grinned at her, shaking his head. "Nah, you're not a minion, Stel." She smiled at that. "Don maybe but not you." She smiled brighter. "We only allowed three females into the minions and they were all super talented. It was part protection society and part way of getting around the stupid headmistress. Girlfriends were given special seats of honor when they came to meetings." She swatted him on the arm and walked off shaking her head. He went back to proofing his reports, looking over when a book hit his desk. He looked at it then smiled and caressed the brown leather. "My poor baby."
Speed looked up and swallowed. "Crap, someone sent Danny his backup copy of Evil Plans." He got off the couch and headed up there, glaring at him. "We locked that up for a reason, Danny," he reminded him. "You agreed."
"I was thinking the Bunny named Rick and others," he said with an innocent smile.
"No," he said firmly. "Or else I'm telling Tony. Then I'll call Alex Dumass." Danny shrugged and continued to caress it. "Come on, give me the book, Danny."
Mac walked in with Lindsey. "Hi, Speed. Short hop? Horatio's looking for you."
"We hid that book for a reason, Mac, and I can't grab it unless he hands it back. It's protocol," he said, glancing at Lindsey. "I need to hide that copy as well."
Mac looked at the cover then at Danny. "Can I see?"
"No. You're not anointed."
"Are we done playing games now so the rest of us can go back to work?" Lindsey demanded, snatching the book and handing it to Mac. She walked off shaking her head. "Sheldon, Danny's playing some game with a book of evil plans. He said Mac couldn't have it because he wasn't anointed." She heard the thunder and looked up at the skylight. "The weather guy said it was going to be sunny all day," she said, frowning some. "Well, at least I left my umbrella in my locker." She went back to work.
Sheldon looked up at the clear and sunny sky, then shuddered and called Stella the mundane way. "I think we're going to need help," he said quietly. "Something about books of evil plans and Lindsey's apparently hearing thunder." He hung up and went to where he knew Danny was working. Speed was working on Mac. He paused at the door and Danny nodded him inside. "Is she going to die?"
"I don't know," Danny admitted. "I never knew how strong I laid that one. I know the only other person who tried to steal it tried to jump off the school."
"Flack's sister," Speed offered. "She's got to believe in the magic to be uncursed. It's part of the curse." He finished anointing Mac and the curse broke for him. Don came jogging in. "We've got him clear."
Don looked and fixed one thing, making Mac smile and relax again. "Now it's fully unwound." He glared at Danny. "The other one?"
"Monroe," Sheldon said, looking at him. "He laid it as a teenager?" Danny grinned and nodded. "She's doing better."
"I don't care. I told him not to touch it. She snatched it and took it."
"Danny's a bit possessive about his book of Evil Plans," Speed offered. "We had to hide it the last time so he couldn't have it. That way he could only get into the mildly evil plans and the tormenting and evil plans books."
Don gaped. "Evil?"
"I was a good overlord," Danny defended. "Our senior year."
"The meetings I never understood?" Danny nodded. Mac moaned at that. "He okay?"
"He'll be fine. The way I laid the curse on the book, she'll have to believe in the magic to have it removed or swear loyalty to me and be anointed. We've got six hours to do it or else it'll start on her."
"She was seeing lightening," Sheldon told him. Speed nodded. "It does?"
"You start out there for the first six hours. Then you hear a chime, the rain comes, and you're pretty well screwed unless you swear loyalty at that point. Don, go find her, knock her out so we can look her over." Don took Sheldon with him. "Danny," Speed complained.
"Someone sent me the book," he defended.
"Whatever." He took it with him back to Miami, going to Horatio's office. Frank and Horatio both looked at him. "Don't touch the book," he ordered. Frank pulled away. Horatio gave him an odd look. "It's cursed if you're not one of Danny's minions. Monroe just got it. The only way out of it is to swear loyalty to Danny." Horatio pointed at a filing cabinet drawer so he put it in there inside one of Horatio's extra shirts. "I'll move it tonight so he can't have it back. Every few months Danny gets some really nasty ideas and we used to keep track of them for him. We had a whole series of books. Mildly Evil Plans, Tormenting and Evil Plans, Mediumly Evil Plans, Plots, Plans and Terrors. Then the book of Evil Plans that I'm hiding. Because Danny nearly used one and almost got the school and the city shut down." He walked off, going to send up a prayer to Hecate and then get back to work.
"You said Danny was the bad boy of the group," Frank said dryly.
"I'm sure I did, Frank." He shook his head and went back over this case they were going to be testifying in tonight. It had been moved back a few hours because Ryan had been in a small car accident. There was no way he was touching that book. He could hear Don worrying about the cure for Monroe.
At hour two of not being able to break Monroe free he called in the big guns. "Ron, can you please hand the phone to Alex? I don't care if he's shagging Draco on the altar out in the caverns. Please? Because Danny laid a curse as a teenager and part of it is the belief in magic. It's on Monroe." That got a shudder and Ron went to find Alex Dumass for him, yelling out his name first so they could quit going at it before he had to watch him shag his boy. "It's me, Alex. Back when they were teenagers, Danny laid a curse on a book and Monroe grabbed it. I can't break it. I can't even figure out how he did it. It's built on the belief of magic. Please? Even Speed telling me how he did it isn't helping. Pretty please? Thank you. She's got four hours left. The last one nearly jumped off a building for being defiant and doing it anyway. Please?" He smiled and nodded. "Thanks. She's here with me. The book's with Speed and he said only the minions and those anointed to him could touch it. Speed and Tony were both Danny's minions then, Alex," he said patiently. "Yeah, Danny laid it. I can't even tell the weave of it. She's got four hours left. Thank you." He hung up and tried again to see how it was laid.
Alex Dumass looked down at his mate as he hung up his cellphone. "Danny laid an unbreakable curse on a book that Monroe touched."
"Draco," he said, staring at him. "Boys, let's go! We're going to look at unholy curses that're unbreakable. You don't often run into them but when you do they're nasty as shit." He got off his husband and went to clean up and get dressed.
Draco climbed off the kitchen table with a groan, going to do the same. "Damn it." Alex came out and kissed him, working him off so he finished. "Thank you, love."
"Welcome, Drac." He grinned and headed out. "Boys!"
"Outside," Ron called. "Should we call Dawn?"
"No. We won't need her." He walked out and waited while Draco finished getting cleaned up and redressed, then he joined him. "Okay. You're all going to where Don is. I'm going to examine the book because Speed has it." He disappeared.
The three students groaned and went to see if they could help Don with her. "Oh, Monroe, charming," Harry said when he saw who it was. He didn't like her, she didn't like his Abby and seemed to not like Danny all that much. "How bad is it?"
"Danny put it on a book of evil plans so only his minions and those who swore loyalty to him could touch it," Don offered. "It's been two and a half hours since it was cast, she's got a total of six hours before it fully takes effect and then only swearing loyalty will cancel it. He said the last person was being defiant and nearly jumped off a building." He hadn't known that but he'd be asking his sister later. "When it starts to rain on her she's basically screwed."
"Okay," Harry agreed, looking at Ron and Draco. "Can either of you feel or see anything?"
"I can feel the power of the web around her," Draco offered. "I can't see it."
"I can't do either," Don admitted. "And I've been practicing before anyone says anything."
Harry looked and nodded. "The power binding is back here on the back of her head. It's a really complex knot. It's almost a binding." Ron looked and grimaced. "That's really odd."
Danny brought in a book. "If it helps it came from here. Had to get it from the library." That got a grin from Ron and Draco snatched the book to look through. "Blue bookmark. All my minions wore a blue ribbon." Draco sat down to read it with Don reading over his shoulder. "I warned her not to touch the book but I've never been able to take it off."
"I can see why," Harry complained. "How ancient is this?"
"Mesopotamia," Danny told him. "We got into some freaky shit over the years in school."
"I can see that," Ron agreed dryly, giving him an odd look. "It *feels* like the Gringott's curse we all took but I can't see a bloody thing."
Danny flipped her onto her side. "It settles here on the neck and the binding knot it right above it." He tapped a spot. "The stuff around it says here."
"It also said in the soul," Draco offered. He sent that over the bond to Alex, making Methos choke and splutter about that stupid curse. They all pumped him for information but he didn't have more than it had wiped out a priesthood at one point. "Don said another had been afflicted?"
"My sister. She swore loyalty to him after it took effect I guess."
Danny nodded. "She did. To the trio actually. It was close enough. She can't hurt us by word, deed, or action." That got an odd look. "It started out as a protection society and then I started going odd because of the grief. Then I fell and it got worse. In that book are plans to take over whole countries if I wanted to, Don." That just got a nod. "They decided I was going too odd so they took it away from me. It was like a journal so I could get the bad ideas out. That's why there's six or seven of the books overall."
"Like that one?" Ron asked.
"No. We separated them out by levels and shit," Danny offered. "Mildly evil plans that all the minions could touch. Some tormenting ones, things like that. Only Speed and Tony can touch them all. Well, and now Mac because Speed fixed it that way for him." He shrugged. "I was eighteen and grieving, guys. I went really wrong in the head for a while. The boys got me straightened out and the minions made me feel better and helped them hold me together. Even if I did nearly get the city shut down once." He walked off again.
The four apprentices looked at each other.
"I thought Danny was scary for different reasons," Don said finally. "I'm so spanking him tonight."
The other three smiled. Don would handle it and it'd be okay again.
Alex landed inside the police station, in Horatio's office. The filing cabinet got pointed at. "I'll need Speed most likely."
"You can have him if you need him. How is Monroe?"
"I need to look at the curse before we can remove it. If we can remove it." He opened the drawer with the cursed item and groaned, holding up the jockstrap. "This has a fertility curse on it, Horatio." He put it back and opened the other one. He could feel subtle power there. Very subtle power. He used the shirt to flip the book right-side up, reading the warning on it. "Well done of him." Speed came walking in. "Come here." He came over and picked up the book. "You three are soul-bound," he said wisely, looking at him. "When?"
"Second year. We were bored."
"Uh-huh. At least I can see why you can touch it. You'd have been able to without it." He looked over the book, laying a hand just above it, wincing at the power reaching up to try to get him. He moved his hand up and scanned it again, then pulled a wand and got to work. "How bad are these?" Speed opened it to his favorite, making him go pale. "Danny got funny in his grief?"
"That was also just after his fall. The minions started as a protection society."
"It probably helped wear it out. I did something like that," he sighed. "Way back when I lost my first veela mate." He went back to scanning it, then nodded. "Monroe's in deep shit. That's an unbreakable," he said finally. "Come on." He popped up to where the others were. He scanned her and shook his head. Draco handed him the book and he skimmed it, nodding slowly. "Okay. We've got to remove the blocks. She'll never be able to harm anyone in the group." He undid the memory blocks everyone had done on her, leaving her free of all spells but the curse. Then he sat her up and woke her up. "Miss Lindsey Monroe." She blinked at him. "I'm Alex Dumass. I'm a curse breaker."
"Those books aren't real."
He pointed at his apprentices. "Tell that to Harry and Ron, love." She looked and went pale, even moving Harry's hair to see his scar. "Focus," he snapped. She looked at him again. "You touched something that Danny cursed in his youth. It is unbreakable. I cannot save you from this. The only way you can save yourself is to swear fealty to Danny. That you'll never hurt him by word, deed, or action." Mac shoved Danny in and followed. "Nice job. How long did it take you to find that?"
"It was in the storage room at the school," he admitted quietly. "Sorry, Alex."
He stroked his cheek. "When I lost my first veela mate they had to lock me in a special room so I wouldn't destroy the school in my grief, Danny. Then I lost the rest of my family and they moved to drugging me for three months so I could attend classes but not harm others. This is what happens when you lose a soulmate. That's why Willow's still bad. You had parts of your soul held for you and that saved you. I hadn't mated with her fully and it saved me. Only finding another matching soul will ever save Willow." He nodded, looking down at that. "This is the time when we lose ourselves. I'm impressed you got that and the earlier soul binding to work."
"We were young and stupid," Speed admitted.
"You were, but powerful and it resonated perfectly between you three. The original wording of that binding was to make a group as powerful as Merlin ever was in any time of his life." They both looked at him. "Not many even attempt it because the price is so high if you fail. Losing your soul totally or death tends to make people not try it." Don moaned at that. He grinned at him. "They got it perfectly right, Don. That's why they've got that deeper bond you asked me about." He patted him on the cheek again. "You three are very powerful, very strong, and very wise not to use it all the time." That got a nod. "Good boy. Now, she's got to wear fealty or loyalty?"
"I worded it loyalty."
"Okay. First thing's first. Lindsey." She blinked at him and quit staring at Don and Mac. "Do you believe magic exists?" She shook her head. He floated her up and smacked her into the ceiling then put her back. "Now do you believe magic exists?" She whimpered but nodded. "With everything in you?" She nodded more quickly. "Good. Now, swear loyalty to Danny and the trio, plus his current relationship."
"I..." She sighed and looked at him. "I guess I swear loyalty to the group and the trio. I'll leave you alone and won't try to hurt you." She doubled over, clutching her stomach. Danny did something to her neck and it eased. "What was that?"
"It taking hold," Mac admitted. He tipped her face up. "That means you can't bother Danny about the relationship anymore, Lindsey." She nodded. "You can't tell anyone about magic. None of it."
"Is Sheldon like you guys?"
"No, he knows but he's not," Danny said gently. "Do you remember why you ended up in Florida? And the unicorn?" he prompted when she nodded. "You took them all off?"
"I had to," Alex agreed. He patted her on the knee. "You'll be fine."
"Go look out the window. It should look like normal weather," Speed ordered. She went to do that, then nodded that it was sunny and slightly cloudy again. "Okay, good," he sighed. "Do we have to remove it from the books?"
"Hell no!" Alex said dryly. "If you tried to remove that curse others would come for what's in there. I want those books shielded and protected. That way anyone who even *thinks* about touching them is cursed to hell and back."
"That bad?" Don asked.
Alex looked at him. "Losing part of your soul will always turn you wrong until you're balanced back out, Don. Danny lost that with his first girlfriend and then he lost his future when he crashed. These two chuckleheads helped soothe him and the minions were made so that Danny had an outlet for the milder version of the evil. Writing it down got it out of him and let him grieve properly." Don nodded at that. "He's perfectly fine now. He has been since he fully grieved and found new balance again."
"I got an idea the other night," Danny admitted.
"You will. Even I get evil ideas to this day, Danny. Shit, I had one the other week to take over Gringotts and use it to take over the world. Not acting on it is the key." Danny nodded at that, giving him a careful hug. "Good boy." He smiled. "You're a good heir for me." He winked and let Speed hand over the book. "Okay, let's go look at *your* library."
"We need all three of us to get into the hidden sections," Speed offered. "Tony's on a case."
Mac called Gibbs. "We need Tony for a bit, Gibbs. Because we just found out Danny had plans to take over the world when he was younger and Tony was one of the reasons he didn't. Alex needs into their personal library and some of it's locked by Tony or all three of them being together. He'll be with us and we'll consult if you need us to."
"Cells don't work in the library," Speed told him.
"I'll go help them," Don offered.
"Don's offered to sub in for a while, Gibbs. Thanks." He hung up. "Go ahead. Let's go there. Should we bring Stella?"
"She and Don can see it later," Danny said quietly. He looked at Mac. "Are you going as my lover or my boss?"
"Your boss right now. We'll go over the other stuff later." He patted him on the back. "Right now I've got to help protect the world."
"Keep him happy and balanced, Mac. That's the best way," Alex promised. "Boys, go to the local shopping area and find more books for me." They groaned but took his gringotts keys and went that way. "Okay, let's go." Speed created a portkey and they headed off. Alex looked at the outside of the hidden house. "This is nice. How did we get this?"
"It was vacant and never selling," Speed admitted. "It's haunted so we took it over, consecrated it, and hid it under a fidelus charm." Mac gave him a look. "Gotta come from the trio, Mac."
Danny coughed. "The library is at 737 Park Avenue," Tony said as he appeared. The building appeared to them. "I'm the keeper of the charm." That got a smile. "Oh, don't worry. Part of it's under blood key." He looked at the book in Speed's arms. "I hate that thing."
"It served its purpose to get it out of him," Speed reminded him. "He's better now."
"He'd better be!" They walked inside together and Danny had to open the door with the blood key to get all of the books. Speed used his on his sign. Tony sighed and cut his palm and put it onto his sign. The doors opened fully, letting them have full access. The hidden parts upstairs all called to them so they went to open them as well. Once opened they'd stay open until the house was shut up again. They came together in the basement and got open the door down there, letting Alex start there since it was some of the most dangerous works. The book got put next to the original since it was a copy. "How is Rhyse?"
"Good," Danny offered. "Married, no kids, lives on the Island. He's the one I ran into on the scene the other day." That got a nod from Mac. "We ever figure out who killed 'im?"
"One of the guards who he wouldn't sleep with."
"Oh. Good. I knew that day off was at a bad time. What about the room?"
"There was a serial killer who was using it but Don's father got him a few years back, before he retired." He looked around the bookshelves. "Did you guys write all these?"
"We copied a lot of the books around here," Speed admitted. "These were penned during our minion and overlord days. That's why they're under triple blood lock." That got a nod. "We all lost a lot our last year, Mac. That and the summer after were soul rending for all us."
Danny gave him a hug. "We're better now."
"We are," Tony agreed, joining in on the hug. "This is so much better than the body dropped in the middle of the goat patty field. I still say they were too exact so someone was marking them for a reason."
"It could be," Mac agreed. "I saw what you did and it did look like a map grid. Maybe for a firing exercise or something." He shrugged and walked out, letting Danny show him around while the others got Alex.
"I need to copy some of these," Alex said happily when he was done. He sent a list to Draco for him to find him copies. He got a groan and a 'bastard' back. "He's happy too." He grinned at them.
"I'm impressed, boys," Mac offered. "Can the group get in here?"
"You three can because you're with Danny," Speed offered. "Horatio and Eric can get in because they're with me. Tony's can when he settles on someone."
"We have to bring them here, anoint them in the moonlight, and then they can," Danny reminded him.
"True," Tony agreed. "Which means we've got to solve that case quickly since the new moon's day after tomorrow." He waved and disappeared, sending Horatio, Stella, and Don all portkeys to the library. On them he had written that he'd have to see them on the new moon up there but to go up now. He walked off the elevator and looked at Don, who was joking at his desk. "We good?"
"It was a firing range for an ultralight to bomb," Gibbs said grimly. "The body's back and we've got an ID."
"That's cool. What can I do, boss? By the way, I need day after tomorrow night off." Gibbs looked at him. "To let the boyfriends into the library," he said quietly. That got a nod. "Shouldn't take me that long if you have to have me."
"We should be able to do it without you for a few hours."
"Good, because cells don't work there. We did it before cellphones became known." That got a nod and Don slipped away. "Go join them now, Don." That got a nod and he left. "Anyway. Where do you need me, boss?"
"At your desk tracing the ultralight."
"They don't have to issue flight plans but....." He sat down to log into the local radar sites and talk to the nearest airport tower. Some of them did have to have radio transmitters to let bigger planes know they were there.
Stella landed last. "Wow." She looked around the main room of the library and it was a true library like Alex's. A couple of tables, a few reading chairs and lamps, and bookcases full of books. No statues she could see or anything. "I left Lindsey crying on Sheldon tonight, Mac."
"I heard, that's fine. Her impulsiveness led to this and she'll have to deal with it."
"At least she'll have to quit nagging about the quad and quit hitting on you and me," Danny said dryly from his chair. She pulled him up and he stole a kiss with a grin. "Go look. Everything's open." She led him off to show her. "Okay." They gathered Don and drug him with them.
"Who owns the house?" Horatio asked.
"It's a vacant one we took over," Speed admitted, looking at his older lover. "No one wanted it and it's been considered haunted. If anyone actually found it and wasn't us there's a card on the front on how to find us. Someone called last year and we had to memory charm the developer with bad taste. He wanted to turn this whole street into a high rise complex."
"It would be sad to lose this much history," Horatio agreed, running a hand over the wall. "Is the building in good shape?"
"Being held up by magic," Speed admitted, shrugging a bit. "It's been vacant since the sixties, Horatio."
"Maybe we should think about moving it somewhere safer," Mac offered. Everyone in the room stared at him. "Somewhere we legally own?"
"I'd move it to my childhood home when my parents died," Speed offered.
"We could move it to Tony's farm," Eric offered.
"We can't. A few of the books radiate and we do spells and things out there," Speed admitted. "We need it untouched. We had to put up a smog barrier last year over it."
Mac smiled. "Horatio and I both own investment land."
"So does Danny," Don called from upstairs. "This is incredible but we need a card catalog like they've got at the castle."
"We've got index books for the non-special collections," Speed called back. He shook his head. "It'd take us forever to clean, consecrate, and bless a new spot, Mac."
"Ryan would help," Horatio reminded him.
"True. So would Marisol probably," Eric agreed. "Can I borrow the one on healing spells?" he asked, holding it up. Speed looked at it and led him off to find a better one, handing him that one with a grin. "Thank you."
"She's important to you," he reminded him, stealing a kiss with a smile. "That's the daily rental fee. I'll accept it from you instead of her."
"Thanks." He gave him another one. "In case I forget." He went to sit down and read over it. Ryan had given him a beginning magic book that had a lot of theory stuff. He was slowly working his way through it.
Speed came back down, smiling at Mac. "They're in the lone bedroom we left. I think Don's blowing him for the practical joke collection."
"The twins would moan at it," Alex agreed happily, beaming at him. "I'd give you guys part of the castle but Draco would kill me and if something happened thanks to the bank stuff it'd get confiscated."
"Maybe we can get a townhouse," Mac suggested. "We all have some savings."
Speed looked at him. "We'd have to find somewhere with a garage attached for the other stuff."
"Other stuff?" Horatio asked.
"Like most modern wizards in the US we had cars too," he agreed, walking him down there with Eric. Who crooned and petted the Barracuda down there. There was a pristine classic mustang and one motley one that needed more body work. "Danny's," he offered. "Sonny smacked into him our senior year and he was fixing it up when our lives hit the fan." That got a nod and Eric went to look inside them. "Plus we've moved some of the stuff we scavenged here as well."
Horatio gave him a gentle kiss. "Let's move this somewhere legitimate, Speed."
"That'll take forever." He heard a thought from Danny and groaned, shaking his head. "He's got an idea."
"That seems to be his place in the group," Horatio teased.
"Only for the evil things. Most normal ideas came from Tony. I'm head researcher and backup head magic guy. Danny's head magic guy and backup researcher or idea guy. Tony's head idea guy and the guy who does our planning." He looked up and thought at Tony, telling him that the group's mates wanted them to move everything somewhere more legitimate, somewhere that wasn't about to be condemned or fall in, and somewhere easier to get to for all of them. He got back an idea, then he and Danny tossed some back and forth until they came to a consensus. Tony would start looking at real estate, they would all chip in on the cost of it. It'd be fine and they could move everything there. He looked at Horatio, who smiled. "It might not be in the city."
"Would it be more centrally located for you and Tony?"
"It would." He stole a kiss and smiled. "Actually, Tony saw a place in a real estate guide. It's a huge estate with guest houses, an orchard, part of a lake, and a lot of forest that's meant to be saved for future generations. It's fairly cheap and between us we can just afford it we think. It's in West Virginia so it's less expensive than this place would be up here."
Horatio smiled at him. "Then I could like that if you three do."
"We do." He snuck another kiss and goosed Eric, making him yelp and jump. "What?"
"Why didn't Danny get a classic sports car like you two?"
"Danny said he didn't need anything that hot and fast to prove he was hot and fast; that's why he had a broom. His main concern was that the car get him places, could store stuff in the trunk, and he could have sex in it." Eric grinned at that. "So he got something more practical than ours. We used his car to cart books here but Danny thinks we can move it via spell if we have to." That got a grin. "But we'll have to see."
Danny came jogging down the stairs. "Tony looked them up at the office and it's still for sale. It's still only five hundred thousand for a few hundred acres, and he's sent an email to the realtor about going to check on it. If so, we can make one of the guest houses into the library and the others for personal work and things." That got a grin from Horatio. "It'll be handy and keep us from doing it at Tony's farm since it's near a highway now. This place is meant to stay pristine." He kissed Speed. "They wanted into your library. You should go give tours."
"Sure. Heading to my personal hidden library, guys." Eric and Horatio followed to look at what he had collected. Danny petted his car's hood. "It'll be okay, baby. We'll get you fixed pretty again." He headed back upstairs, finding Mac talking to Alex about how to move everything. "Servant spells." Alex gave him an odd look. "You can. Or the camp moving spell since you taught it to Don and then servant spells to shelve."
"You could do that," he agreed. "That's how I shelved the ones in the castle at first." That got a smirk. "The others had only collected a few books here and there. I copied every single book I ever found on the job. The time I came back with so many I pissed off the house elves I used them." Mac snickered at that. "Seriously. They've all complained about dusting the library. They haven't realized yet I've got the other library at the manor house and then the ones in the work houses in Greece and Barbados." He shrugged and went back to browsing, sending Draco another title for his searching pleasure. Draco groaned but went to talk to the clerk again. They had never heard of it so it went to Ron, who was in Knockturn at the bookstore down there. Flourish and Blotts was great but this other place had more rare specimens. Ron called he had found it and how much. It got added onto the tab they were running.
Harry popped into Abby's work and smiled at the guards. "I'm escaping my uncle, the book nerd." The one who knew him laughed. "He just called his husband and my fellow trainee to find him forty rare books he hasn't got copies of yet. The castle has a *huge* library. Two turrets full." He signed in. "Is my heart still here?"
"She is, Harry. Go ahead up, I'll warn her." He smiled and went that way. The guard looked at the confused one next to him. "That's Abby's boyfriend Harry Potter."
That got a long blink. "You're joking."
"Checked his ID. He's involved in some artifact retrieval program that rescues them from warzones. Brought in some evidence for Gibbs once. Whenever he's close by he pops around for hugs and tea. He's a nice guy but the one time someone pinched Abby he about beat the guy senseless then escorted Abby back to her lab like she was delicate." That got a smile. He looked over as Tony strolled out. "Harry's here."
"He's hiding from his uncle, the book nerd." He grinned at them. "He found an ancient school library and he's looking up copies of books that look interesting." He signed out. "Heading off to talk to someone. I'll be back later, guys. If Gibbs wonders, I'm out for dinner and I'll be back in an hour." He walked out and headed to the realtor's place. She blinked at him and he grinned. "You said you knew."
"I'm more used to Wiccans who wanted to look at it."
"I need the same sort of place for the same sort of reason," he agreed. She smiled and took him out to look over the property, letting him feed it back to the others. Speed and Danny both agreed on which guest house got the library, the others they could do magic in. The main house was nice. There was a garage for their cars. The lake was beautiful, the orchard productive. The price was reasonable with their pooled resources, and the guys weren't going to badger him to put in more than a third of the cost. He looked at her. "We'll take it." She smiled at that. "I'm going into it with a few friends who're CSI in New York and Miami. I'm a Federal Agent out of DC." She looked impressed at that and they went back to start the paperwork. Danny and Speed both forwarded them information on their various accounts. Horatio and Eric went in with Speed. Mac went in with Danny. Don and Stella didn't have that much money saved so they didn't ask them.
It was arranged and by the end of the afternoon they had the entire asking price available. She filed the bid and called the present owners, telling them it was a group of CSI and Federal Agents who were Wiccans, but they agreed they needed it for the rest and relaxation, that they'd preserve everything about the land and it'd be special to them. Not used as a safe house or anything. They agreed and she forwarded the money once everyone had called their bank to send the drafts to her. Tony checked his watch and stepped outside to call Gibbs. "Sorry, boss, dinner ran long. No, I'm not in DC. Why?" He smiled. "Actually, I'm buying a place for us to move to when things get too tough but we are not to break the beauty and calmness of the area. No using it as a safe house. It's for the family and friends, which does include you, and the library." He smiled. "You'll adore it. You can come out the night we're doing the new house blessing and stuff."
He snickered. "I left that on your desk, boss. Yeah, that pile. No, according to what I found he picked him up because he was slobbering drunk and decided he was just as useful as a homeless person for his demented experiment. Yup. I had McGee run down his finances and background while I did the rest since Ziva wasn't at her desk when I found it. He used what I found to file for an arrest warrant so you should have it within a few hours. He also dispatched someone to watch the guy's house just in case. Yeah, so it's covered until McGee finishes his part of the background checks and the arrest warrant comes through." The realtor came out to join him. "Sorry, checking in. I'm playing hookey." She smiled at that. "No, the realtor, boss. Yeah, I promise you can see when we come out to do the blessing stuff. Sure. Yes, it's worth it. I promise it's worth the few hours. And hey, I broke the case, all you're doing is the mopup and McGee's doing most of it for you so you can growl at him for a few hours." He smiled. "In two hours, boss." He hung up and looked at her. "When do we think we can move out? We have a library that we need to move out of New York because the building it's in is nearly condemned."
"Within weeks. They've already moved out and we've got to file the title and things, Special Agent DiNozzo. I've got your email for when I get everything back. An arrest warrant?"
"Someone used a victim for target practice with his ultralight and some limited explosives."
"Very. So, yeah, that's what I'm doing tonight. Thank you for your help." He shook her hand. "Let me know if anything comes up and I'll handle it as soon as I get news." She nodded so he left, heading back to the office from some shadows. He appeared in the shadows in Abby's lab, making her squeak. "Harry already leave?"
"Yup. Alex called him back." She kissed him on the cheek. "Gibbs is not happy."
"It's important." He headed up to their floor, getting off the elevator. "I'm back. It's done now all we need is the paperwork." He handed over the listing and Gibbs gaped at him. He winked. "The library's pretty massive, boss. Plus it'll have a place for us to reconnect and *rest*. Even we need a rest now and then."
"It sounds beautiful."
"It is and we've promised to keep evil people away from all the trees. Is the warrant in yet?"
"Being faxed over within a half-hour." He looked at him. "Is your job getting in the way?"
"It's like moving to a new house, boss. Some things have to be settled in. We're settling in." Gibbs gave him a look. "It's the first time it's interfered in months," he reminded him. "If our minion hadn't sent Danny the book, it wouldn't have interfered today and you'd still never know about the library."
"Yup. Can't bother them anymore." Gibbs stared him down. "It had a loyalty out clause," he said quietly. "She's fixed and not very happy." That got a single nod. "In a few weeks we'll be doing the moving stuff but I'll take a full weekend off for that if I can. Hopefully the one we're not on-call during. The old house is falling in."
"I'd like to see that."
"Sure, we can go later. The others are having a picnic in there tonight." He called Miami with a frown. "Calleigh, they're where their cells don't work. Has Ryan gotten back yet?" He nodded. "Thanks. Let me know and I'll pass it on. Yeah, this is Tony. No, they're not doing something like that. They're in a shielded building. Thank you." He hung up. "Ryan's testimony got pushed back because he had a small wreck this morning when a cruiser ran into him for no reason. We're waiting to hear what that is about."
"Sure." He leaned back. "Where is Officer David?"
"Not a clue, boss. She said she was going to dinner. Haven't seen her since four-thirty. McGee?" His head popped up. "Have we seen Officer David?"
"No, not since she said she was going out for dinner. I checked, her car's still in the garage."
"Think she's a bunny named Rick?" Gibbs asked dryly. They both gave him horrified looks and went into the bathroom to do a search for her magically. Tony came out and shook his head. "She all right?"
"Not really. She'll be fine. She's in the ER. McGee's calling, boss." He sat down to start on his reports. McGee came out smiling. "She's fine?"
"Someone tried to mug her. They're wondering why she broke his arms and legs. She's got a broken foot from doing that to him. She'll probably be out in a few hours, boss. They said she's swearing in Hebrew and the nurse who is Jewish is blushing hard at her language. They handed it over and I told her to call in immediately with a report for you." He went back to his desk. "The poor mugger is in surgery to get a few bones pinned."
"Ow," Gibbs moaned. "For mugging her?"
"She's out of chocolate, boss," Tony said dryly. "She's in a mean mood."
"Understandable," he agreed. "Kate had those too."
"Yeah and it usually meant I got picked on," Tony agreed with a small, evil smirk. "McGee, any word on the arrest warrant?"
"Haven't been by the fax machine yet, Tony. Go ahead and check. It's your turn." Tony got up and came back with it. McGee grabbed his gun, following them out the door. "She's going to be sorry she missed this. She wanted to smack him for showering her with goat poo."
"Poo, Agent McGee?" Gibbs asked.
"I didn't want to say something vulgar, boss."
"Say it like it was, McGee. A shower of goat crap," Tony said, getting off the elevator first and heading for the car. "Shotgun!"
"Oh, come on!" McGee complained.
"We're going to the library tonight."
"No thanks. You guys are scary people who make my geekiness look slow."
Tony beamed at him. "That's Speed and Danny, McGee, but thanks. They said so too."
"Speaking of smart people, what about the bunny?" Gibbs asked as he got in to drive. McGee got into the back and he pulled out once Tony was in and buckled up. "Any idea yet?"
"Eric wanted him to stay a rabbit. They're fighting about it." He sent that thought to the group at large, getting a snort from Speed. "Speed wants him to stay a bunny too, boss. Horatio's being outvoted."
"Uh-huh. Someone should do something. That's not good for him."
"Yeah but he can't cause trouble," Tony complained. Gibbs shot him a look before pulling onto the street and heading off like he was in pursuit - the only way he ever drove. "He can't. Miami thinks he's on vacation."
"Fix it, DiNozzo."
"Yes, boss. The group will go over the bunny situation tonight. You still want to come up?"
"Sure." He held onto the door bar when they slid around a corner.
Ryan looked at the attorney in front of him. "What was the question? I don't think I heard it right."
"Do you or anyone in your lab participate in unnatural rituals or occurrences?" the attorney asked.
"No," he said, shrugging a bit. "Why?"
"I'm asking the questions, Officer Wolfe."
"Sure, but I thought this was about a case that our lab never handled." The attorney glared at him. "That's what the summons said," he offered.
"I want that stricken off the record," the attorney demanded.
"Denied," the judge told him. "Please get on with it?"
"Fine. I do know some of your lab's people are of ...alternate faiths."
"Some of them are," he agreed. "So?"
"That doesn't lead to unnatural practices?"
"Praying to the moon or water? No. As far as I know no one in the lab is a satanist, who would be the only ones doing unnatural practices as far as I'm concerned. Putting a food offering on an altar to the Goddess isn't unnatural."
"Are you sure?" he asked with a mean smirk.
"Yet, you've been heard saying that you deal in chaos magic."
"I also role play," he answered, evading the question. Not a lie, he did still do it on occasion. He did play chaos magic users usually. "Why?"
"I'm asking the questions," he sneered.
"Then please ask some that make sense."
"I can have her put you in contempt, *Officer* Wolfe," he sneered. Ryan shrugged. "Fine. Your Honor? Permission to treat as hostile?"
"For playing role playing games?" she said, looking confused. "How does this relate back to that case?"
"It's our supposition that they did handle this case."
"No, if I had handled this case I'd have notes on it and I don't," Ryan told him. "I never heard of this case before we looked it up to see why we were being called. I still have no good idea of what happened in the case, just that it was a federal crossover case and involved a homicide - from what information I found it was an accidental homicide. My playing role playing games and playing chaos magic oriented characters has nothing to do with my lab work."
"Do you have a problem distinguishing between reality and fiction?"
"No," he said slowly and clearly. "Never have."
"Yet, you talked about this in the lab with two of your coworkers."
"They asked." He shrugged again. "They asked so I told them. It's good when your coworkers get to know you as friends as well. The same as they know I have moderate OCD."
"You admit to having a mental issue and say it doesn't affect your work?"
Ryan shifted so he could cross his legs. "OCD is only an asset in the lab. It makes me meticulous and tidy. It means the lab's never dirty when I'm working in it and it means I make copious notes about what I'm doing. I'm in one of the few fields where having OCD is considered an accomplishment." The lawyer looked horrified. "Not that techs without OCD aren't great, they are, it's just I'm a bit more meticulous and neat about how I work."
"Yet this is considered a mental illness?"
"No, I think it's considered a condition, not an illness. It's not caused by a growth, hormone imbalance, or any other physical disease. It's caused by parents and stress," he said blandly. "But I can run home and get the research I've done on it if you want. I've got about ten notebooks of research where I've went over things for my own edification."
The man looked disgusted. "You brag about this?" he sneered.
"No, but you asked."
"You don't brag?"
"No. I've never *bragged* about it. I occasionally *warn* about it when new people come into the lab so they don't get tied up in it. I had to get the cleaning crew off my case once because I scrubbed one of the labs after some dirt spilled from another tech's sample. I've never *bragged* about it."
The judge looked at him. "Please tone down your responses. We want to keep this civil."
"I'd love to, Your Honor, can you make him quit sneering?"
"He's always like that. Unfortunately. Please get back onto the topic or dismiss the witness. His OCD has nothing to do with this case."
"Which I never worked," Ryan added. "Can the record please show that?"
"It does," she agreed. "Get on with it, Counselor."
"Why did your lab not work this case, Officer Wolfe?"
"It wasn't assigned to us. We don't work cases unless they're given to us or they're felonies that're found in the city. Since the agents over the case went to another lab we didn't even hear about it."
"This didn't strike you as *strange*?" he pressed.
Ryan shook his head. "No. Not really. Now and then agents have been known to go to techs they like better instead of the one who'd normally be over the incident. If it's not my immediate case or one in the lab, I never hear about other cases. I'm assuming that's why they went to the other lab but that's the most likely assumption to make." He frowned a bit.
"Yet, your lab should have handled this, correct?"
"Not unless we were assigned to it. The other lab could handle an accidental homicide and has in the past. If it was a full blown murder then yes we probably should have. Again, not our call, that was up to the agents who would've referred it."
"I see." He stared at him. "You have a housekeeper?"
"How do you afford one?"
"I live alone and they're relatively cheap. They're as obsessive about cleaning as I am."
"What's his or her name?"
"His name is Scrubby."
"Scrubby?" the judge asked. Ryan nodded. "Nickname?"
"That's what he told me to call him, Your Honor."
"I see," the lawyer said, looking at him. "What name do you put on his checks?"
"Cash in an envelope and that. I do report him to the IRS. It's nice, I don't have to come home and immediately clean anymore. I can let the day digest and relax. The only thing he doesn't do perfectly is the laundry and we're still working on that. He prefers to let things drip dry and I like dryers. He is great at getting stains out though."
The lawyer stared at him. "Is he human?"
"Do you think he's a dog or something?" Ryan shot back so he wouldn't have to lie. "Do you know many aliens perhaps?"
The lawyer glared. "I do not like your tone of voice or the innuendo, Officer Wolfe."
"The last time I knew the only trained semi-sentient species was some types of chimps. He's not a chimp and he is sentient. There's no other *known* sentient races on the planet. What else would he be?"
"He's how tall?"
"About up to my shoulder so just over five feet."
"He's a midget?"
"He's short but I believe he's above the dwarfism line." He looked at the judge again, who just looked confused too. Then back at the lawyer. "He also has a small hump on one shoulder from a past injury." He had found that a few weeks back and Scrubby had said it was where his last master had kicked him. "It doesn't seem to hurt him, he never complains about it, and he said it's healed. He said it doesn't affect his work at all."
"I see." He stared at him. "Do you know the whereabouts of an Internal Affair's officer named Rick Stetler?"
"No," he said. All he knew was that someone was watching over the bunny. "I heard he was on vacation but that was rumors in the locker room."
"I am. I have no idea where he's presently at. He didn't share his plans with me. We're not friends, lovers, or really even acquaintances."
"Is this relevant?" the judge asked.
"It is, Your Honor. I know for a fact he knows where Sergeant Stetler is." He produced a bagged tape. "I want to enter this into evidence as Defense Exhibit 41."
"Granted, probably. What's on it?"
"A discussion between Officer Wolfe and his boss about Rick Stetler where they call him a rabbit."
Ryan nodded. "Now and then he's like an impotent bunny banging his head against the side of the cage. He's also a harassing and threatening person who's tried more than once to manufacture proof against the lab. He has a well-known grudge against my boss. Just because I called him a bunny doesn't mean I know where he's calling home at the moment. There are days I'd rather have him than the person subbing for him while he's gone. He didn't hit on others against their will, just try to twist evidence." The judge looked at him. "His grudge is well-known within the department, Your Honor." She nodded at that. He looked at the lawyer again. "If I knew where he was I'd tell you. I have no idea where he's presently residing."
"Who's the Tony mentioned on the tape?"
"Probably a federal agent a few people in the lab know," he said cautiously, frowning some. "I got introduced to him through them. He's come down a few times on a crossover case and to spend some vacation time with his friends."
"I see. Does he *role play* as well?"
"I'm barely acquainted with him. How would I know?"
The lawyer glared at him. "That was a snotty answer, Officer Wolfe."
"Then make sense, please. What does Tony have to do with that case or Stetler?"
"It is my theory that there's widespread corruption inside your lab."
Ryan burst out laughing. "Really? Uh-huh. With IAB riding us and watching us closely enough to see if we pick up sand fleas from beach scenes, how would there be?" The lawyer looked stunned. "He's always around. He's hovering, asking badgering questions, making taunting threats to Horatio and Eric. We don't have time to go to the bathroom without him watching. I've walked into the locker room more than once to find him with bolt cutters in front of someone's locker, once mine, and he didn't have a warrant. Horatio had to remind him of that repeatedly. I even let him into mine when he started to badger me about my faith and other matters. He stomped off in a huff when all he found was some cooking herbs I had picked up earlier that day at lunch to take home that night." The lawyer growled. "I'm sorry your theory can't be proven but this still has nothing to do with this case that's mentioned in the subpoena. What I looked up and found mentioned the agent in charge's name and it's a guy who's come to Horatio many times for cases in the past and has again recently. If there was the corruption you thought, why would he?"
"Why wouldn't Stetler leave you alone if there wasn't?" he sneered back.
"Hmm, just a thought but since one of the roots of his jealousy is that Horatio got promoted ahead of him in a way he thinks smacked of favoritism, he'll probably never leave us alone until he retires or is fired. The man had jealousy issues. Maybe that's why he's taking the extended vacation? That's what a few people think around the labs, he's been ordered to take it." The lawyer sat down and he looked at the judge. "I'm sorry if I sounded impertinent, Your Honor."
"No, I was getting frustrated too. Any further questions?" The lawyer shook his head. "Then the other side can go?"
"We have no idea why anyone in the felony lab was called, ma'am, and Officer Wolfe has answered all the questions I could've asked," that lawyer admitted.
"Very well. Thank you for your patience, Officer Wolfe."
"Thank you, ma'am." He got down and headed out, turning off the record feature on his cellphone. He found Horatio waiting on him and handed it over after restarting the recording. "It's not pretty."
"Hmm. It's not. Alex has grabbed Calleigh. We're going up to the trio's library to discuss how to move it. Would you like to have dinner?"
"Sure." He walked off with him, letting Horatio move them both once they were out of sight. They landed and he looked around in awe. "Man," he whimpered, nearly kneeling at Danny and Speed's feet. "Do you guys lend books?"
"Now and then," Danny offered. "Come eat, Wolfe. What's going on?" Horatio replayed the conversation for everyone to hear.
"I'm a bit worried about the bunny issue myself," Gibbs noted.
"As long as we can make sure he can't turn on those of us with skills, I wouldn't care if he came back," Speed admitted. "It's getting annoying with that ho hitting on me."
"She tried with me and I turned her down and walked off shaking my head after reminding her that it would be an inappropriate relationship. I also turned her into the tip line for IAB for trying to do that," Eric told him. "I got asked to fill out the paperwork earlier."
"As did I," Horatio agreed. "She's tried it with you, Ryan?"
"Twice. Once I looked at her and said I was just getting out of a relationship, I wasn't looking for a new one. The other I pointed out I almost rather date a serial killer because at least I knew when they were going to try to hurt my career. She walked off fuming and I called the Chief's secretary to complain." Eric and Speed both looked at him. He grinned. "I dated her back in college, guys."
Horatio smiled at that. "I'll remember that, Mr. Wolfe. Very good work recording this."
"Thank you. Even the judge was confused."
"Good. Did they adjourn?" Speed asked. Ryan nodded. "Even better." He looked around. "All right, family. Looking through some real estate guides, Tony has found us the perfect spot to move the library since we don't own this building and it's about ready to fall in. Which means we need to bless it, clean it, then do the library magics on it so no one can get into the library who shouldn't. It's also an all natural place."
"I did promise that we would not use it as a safehouse and nothing bad would happen there," Tony agreed. "It was fully paid for. The realtor is going to email me when we can move stuff or if there's a problem."
Danny grinned. "Don knows the camp moving spell. The servant spell can pack and then shelve again on the other side. There is enough room for us to play quidditch, right, Tony?"
"There is," he agreed happily. "There's also a main house, two guest houses, an orchard, and a lake." Calleigh grinned at that. "I was shocked at how inexpensive it was. It's in West Virginia." He handed over copies of the real estate guide and the fact sheet. "That's where it is." They all smiled at that. "So we can move everything, all the libraries, all the cars, everything down there once and for all." That got a lot of nods. "It will take a few days."
"Which we can use anyway," Danny admitted. "I don't know about you guys but cases have been killer." He frowned then looked at Horatio. "Have him touch the book." Alex Dumass glared at him. "No, hear me out. He'd have to swear loyalty. To the group. Speed's part of the group, hurting the lab would hurt him. Right?"
"That's a sneaky side effect, but do it without that book," Alex complained.
"Then someone could remove it," Tony offered.
Speed nodded. "I'd rather have him neutralized but not bowing and asking if we needed him to be a surrogate."
"Did Monroe do that?" Danny asked him. Speed nodded. "No, not needed. If Stella wants to use her womb, we've got plenty of ways for it to happen." Stella gave him a look. "We do."
"What about what we did on Willow?" Ryan asked. "A binding. Nice, simple, can be undone sometime in the future. It can work on those not inclined or powered." The trio looked at him. "It would also be easier to do the wording instead of making up a new spell that wouldn't rob his free will and left him able to do the work."
"I can see that happening," Horatio agreed cautiously.
The trio looked at each other, then nodded. Mac smirked at the thoughts Danny slipped out. "Sorry," he said, smirking back at Mac. "We can do that. We can even do it before he turns back from being a bunny." Tony summoned their poor bunny and they got to work on the binding with Ryan's help while Horatio changed Stetler back and held him while he cried and apologized. Apparently eating salad all the time wasn't good for him.
Ryan smiled as Stetler came in the next morning. "Yes, Sergeant, can I help you?" he asked respectfully. "And might I say it's nice to have you back since you arrested the bitch who was taking your place."
"I know what you did," he hissed.
"Hmm, and if you talk about it, next time you'll be a stew."
That got a nod and a calm look. "I understand. It was explained to me. I want to know what happened at the trial." Ryan replayed the recorded bit for him, making him frown. "I see. Thank you. Which attorney?" Ryan got the file he had compiled and handed it over. "Even better." He walked off to look into that. There was no reason for them to have looked into his disappearance and something very wrong was going on with that case. Even beyond his jealousy and desire to ruin them all. He would be finding the root cause of it so they'd let him go someday.