That's What Friends Are For
Don stretched, standing up to get his whole back. The new detective, Sal Mirck, smirked at him. "Tryouts tonight."
"Good. Better you than me playing, Flack. I'm much too old and stuck in my ways for that." He handed over a case file. "It says you've had him many times. Got any ways to push him?"
Don looked then smirked and nodded. "Yeah. He's a thumb sucker." That got a smirk. "I suspected him of going toward sex crimes once and he gave me this horrified look. He's a prude." He grinned. "I'm off for the day."
"No way!" his Lieutenant called, coming to the door. "No you're not."
"Yeah, I am. I told you I was leaving on time tonight." He gave her a look. "Remember, I have that sports thing tonight."
"You've got to be kidding me," she said flatly. "You've got seventeen case files open on your desk, I haven't seen a shred of paperwork from you, and you want to go play *sports*?"
"I handed you ten reports earlier today, boss, and I've only got ten open." She glared and he shrugged. "Go check your inbox!" He put on his jacket. "Besides, shift's up. You keep yelling about overtime." He gave her a look and she huffed off. He gathered up some stuff to do at home, stuffing it into his bag. "Night all." He headed off, going to get Danny from the labs. He was over a microscope. "Danny, time's ticking?" he prompted.
"Two more slides," he ordered. He made a note about that one and switched out, swearing a bit under his breath. He stood up and rubbed his eyes, then got back to work, making notes. He switched out and smirked, doing that one. He printed out the view and grinned at him. "Get Sheldon up here. Let me give this to him and then we can go." Don nodded, going to get him for Danny. Danny smiled, taking off his coat. "Slide three is definitive. Slide two is irritating. Slide notes are beside the microscope, three's still in there."
"Okay. Thank you. Good luck."
"Thanks." He grabbed his stuff and headed for the locker room, running into Stella. "You ready?"
"As I'll ever be." She smiled as he went to change his full outfit. He came out in boots and a pair of jeans, sliding his t-shirt over his tank-top undershirt. He grabbed his wrist guards out of the locker and put them on, flexing his hands as he walked off, his wand inside his jeans pocket, his keys had already been in his jeans pockets since he had picked out his outfit last night. He ran into Don. "Stella's coming."
"Good." He checked his watch. "Where are we going?"
"The arena. The one we play at." They headed for the car, Stella could follow. She jogged to catch up, getting them at the elevator. "Broom?" he asked once they were safely alone.
"In Don's trunk, same as yours after last night." He smiled and nodded, rubbing his wrists and flexing his fingers. "Bad day?"
"Hefting that body earlier. I'll be fine. Just a bit stiff. I was gentle the rest of the day."
"Danny!" Mac called. The three of them groaned and he jogged to catch up. "You're done with the slides?"
"Yeah, and I gave Sheldon my notes. We're headed for tryouts."
"Okay. Good luck. Let me know how it goes." He clapped them on the back. "Stella, dinner afterward?"
"Sure, thanks, Mac." She left with the guys, weathering the looks. "About the current case, guys. We do it once a week."
"If you say so," Don teased.
"I don't need a man except for trash duties and backrubs with your gift," she snorted, getting into the back. Danny climbed into the front to drive. Don gave him a shove so he scooted over. "Pushy, Danny."
"I'm used to being pushy."
"Yeah, well, my car," Don said as he got in to drive. He stuck the keys in and turned them. A grinding noise. "No!" he moaned. Danny zapped the key with his wand and it started. "Thank you!" As long as it turns off." He put it into gear and headed off. "The arena is the blue spot, right?" Danny nodded. "The one with the star?" Danny checked the map and pointed at the square, making him nod and head that way. "We should get there in time."
Stella did the sensible thing, calling Timmy. "We're leaving work right now. We're at the spot on the map that's marked 'arena' right?" She nodded. "Good." She hung up. "The star. They just moved it last month." Don nodded, turning around and heading the other way. She relaxed and centered herself, going over the tips she had given and read in the book on quidditch she had found with Don. They parked and she got out, looking at the small looking building. "We play in here?"
"Stella, apartment stuff," Danny said patiently. He got out and went for the trunk, hand hesitating over the brooms.
"Play your old one," Don said in his ear. Danny nodded and grabbed it, then his other one just in case, heading inside. Don smirked at Stella, tossing her hers, then grabbing his so they could head inside. Timmy met them inside the door, carrying Danny's new broom. "We good?"
"You're in good time. It's okay. The rest of the team is here." He looked at Danny. "Weren't you off today?"
"Sheldon needed help." He shrugged and worked his hands and wrists again. Timmy gave him a look. "Body hauling out of a dumpster."
"Ow. I'm sorry."
"Me too, but I was good to them all day." He took off his jacket and put it down carefully. His wand went on top of it, then he stretched before mounting up and heading into the air.
Stella looked around the arena. "This is nice."
"It's not legal for pro quidditch but it's good enough for a home league," he said happily. Don grinned and took off. "Tell me Alex Dumass worked with him," he pleaded quietly.
"Plus Ron and Bear," she agreed, taking off her jacket and putting it over top of Danny's then heading into the air herself. She caught the quaffle someone tossed her. "Goals?" she asked, passing it back. The chasers smiled and she caught it again. "Do we have a keeper?"
"We do, she's running late," another of the chasers offered. "Have you played before?" She shook her head. "Then let's run some drills with the beaters running around us." He looked down at Timmy. "Release 'em."
"Fine." The bludgers were both released.
Danny looked at Don and pointed at one, getting a nod. He looked at the other beater candidate, getting a nod. He took off after one of the bludgers, saving Stella from a bad hit. Don swooped around him, rolling over his back to get the one heading for him. Danny aimed at the second string of chasers, getting a shocked noise. "What? You said to practice!" he called. The third beater went after it. "Good, you guard, Don'll guard the other one, I'll shoot at them." She nodded and he went back to it. His bludger got sent at him by Don, he hit it back and switched with him, sending the other one at the beater. Someone blew a whistle so he sent that one into a wall, making it hit the padding and be caught in a net that came up. Don did the same and the net caught that one as well. They landed, looking at the coach.
"Good job by all the beaters." He looked at Danny. "Can you play both wrists?"
"Not really. I'm good enough with one," he assured him. "I'm working on the other."
"Okay. How sore is it?"
"Enough. It sucks badly at the moment. I had to lift a body earlier." He shuddered. "Sorry, part of the job."
"I understand." He looked at them. "Okay, chasers only for now. Beaters relax." They nodded and headed over to sit with the jackets, Danny checking his wand. The coach looked at him. "Not too bad for being out of practice," he said as he passed by.
"Thanks, Henderson." He smirked at the other person. "He hated playing against me in school."
"I hated playing against you but I was only a first year when you crashed." She smiled at Don. "Who're you? I don't remember you at the school."
"Don Flack. They missed me. I'm being tutored privately." He shook her hand. "My sister went."
"Her I remember." She smiled at him. "You're good for being a newbie."
"Thanks. I've been working hard with my tutor and his kids." He grinned at the coach as he sent Stella over. "You okay?" He checked her face. "Bruised?"
"No, I'm good. He wants to test the other guys." She sat down and gave him a nudge with her shoulder. "Even if I only make alternate I'm good with it. Maybe next year."
Danny looked at her. "You're good enough." She smiled at that. He went back to watching the chasers practice. "He's good," he said, pointing at one guy. "Very good." Don watched and nodded. "Pro level good maybe."
"He is," Stella agreed. "Cute too." Both guys grinned at her. "Hey, I can look. I'm single."
"True," Don agreed happily. "Maybe there's still hope for you settling down some year."
"Gee, thanks, Don," she said dryly. The woman with them laughed. "I'm dating," she assured her.
"I made the mistake of marrying my high school sweetheart. It sucks. Date a lot and be very careful." The coach blew his whistle and motioned Stella back, cutting half of the guys out there, including the good guy.
Danny leaned down to him. "You looked good."
"Thank you," he said with a cocky smile. "I practice daily anymore. I made the team last year too."
"Good job." He went back to watching the other chasers. He winced at a stupid move Stella made.
The guy hissed. "How long has it been since she played?"
"The local school missed her. We're being privately tutored," Don said quietly. "She's just learning how to fly."
"Then I'm impressed, guys. Good job." He watched her. "Fly lower!" he bellowed. "Layers in the air!" She switched tactics and got the quaffle, throwing it through the open hoop. "Better," he decided. The coach looked at him, giving him a glare. "What? She's just learning!"
"Bonasera!" the coach yelled. She flew down, hovering in front of him. "You're one of the ones they missed?" She nodded. "Who's tutoring you guys?"
"Alex Dumass and his family. Ron and Dawnie gave me my first flying lessons about a month ago. Why? Am I messing up badly?"
"No, you've got promise," he offered. "Go back to it." She nodded and turned, zipping off to catch up, catching the quaffle when it was tossed to throw it overhand at the keeper, who had to duck since she aimed for his head. It went through the hoop. The coach looked back at Danny, who smirked and shrugged. "She plays like Tony."
"I saw him last weekend. He's NCIS, DC now."
"Too bad they don't have a team down there." He went back to watching, then turned around. "Speed?"
"Ah. Under Caine?" Danny smirked and nodded. "Interesting. If we had more people, I wouldn't mind starting an inter-PD season." He went back to watching. "Bonasera, you're greedy! Pass!" She passed and the other guy took the shot, missed, and the other guy dove and got it before it hit the ground, flying back up to toss it. Stella growled and took it, making the goal. He laughed. Yup, she was trained by Danny. "Selvo, get back in there, change out!" The good guy got out there and pointed one of them out, pairing with Stella, letting the other guy be their third. He saw the smirk and rolled his eyes. "Just as much trouble as Speed and Tony too," he complained. Danny laughed and nodded. "Fine." He traded out the third one for the other guy. That one worked a bit better but not much. He groaned and rubbed his face, calling someone. "Where the hell are you? We've got a good third and you're missing!" He snorted. "I don't care!" He hung up and pouted, glowering at the chasers. "Release a bludger. Flack, Twitchet, you go out together." They nodded and headed up to guard them. "No offensive moves, Flack," he called. He got a nod and Don played defensive instead. She caught the bludger in the stomach and Danny zipped out there to help ease her down, talking quietly in her ear. "Guess I've got a backup beater." His other chaser came in and he pointed. "Tag out the third."
"Her or him?"
"Him. She's decent, just new."
The coach looked at her. "They missed her. That's Bonasera."
"I've heard of her." She flew off, tapping the other chaser and sending him off with a pout. "I believe in passing!" she yelled when Stella stole the quaffle, much to their third's amusement. She flipped him off too. "Bastard. Bonasera?" She threw it at her, letting her make the shot. "We'll work to integrate you," she agreed after doing a few more passes with her. They landed to talk about their brooms, Stella letting her see hers. "That's nice."
"It is," their male counterpart admitted, watching the beaters. Don and Danny were seamless and he smirked. "We need a new keeper," he said quietly.
"Magdaline is in Narco according to Danny, he said to tell Timmy to pass that on," Stella said.
The female chaser glared at their coach. "Magdaline is playing?"
"I called her," Timmy offered. "She said she's a new mother."
"And?" Danny called. He hit the bludger back into the net and landed. "Phone." It was handed over after it was dialed. "Maggie, Danny Messer. Get your ass on your damn broom and get your ass down here. We need a keeper, if I'm playing beater I want the damn best and Speed's in Miami. Now." He hung up and handed it back, then went to do some more work with Don. "Give us the other one or release that one."
"Take a break, kids," the coach called, sounding amused. He shook his head. "Messer, remember, you weren't the coach, you were the team's cheerleader. Speed and Tony co- headed the team."
"Bite me. One's in DC, the other's in Miami. They're not here to run you over."
"Thankfully. Tony took way too much pleasure knocking me off my broom." He looked over as someone appeared, taking the baby she handed him. "Hi. You're small." The baby smiled and farted. "Gee, thanks, kid." He watched as the mother floated up there, going to take Don's bat and hit Danny with it. He ducked and pinned her from behind, kissing her on the neck. "I think she's married, Messer."
"She's my ex, I can congratulate her for getting back on a broom." He let her go with a grin. "That's Don Flack Jr. The other female down there is Stella Bonasera, we work together." He beamed at her. "Go play keeper."
"Fine," she complained, whistling at the chasers. "Get your lazy asses up here!" She took up position and cracked her knuckles, catching the first one and tossing it out. She blocked all but three shots, nodding at the good technique. "You can be better. We'll work on that." She floated down, looking at the coach. "Practice is when?"
"Every Wednesday, eight." She nodded, taking the baby back, then apparating off while on her broom. "She's still good," he said fondly, smirking at Danny. "Thank you!"
"I'll be their alternate," the female beater candidate offered.
"Good. You do what, Messer?"
"Same, level three."
"Homicide. I work with these nuts." He grinned. "When do we get uniforms so I can send Aiden a picture."
"You know Aiden?" the coach asked.
"We worked with her, we were buddies," Danny said with a smirk. "She's in Chicago teaching potions."
"Poor girl. We'll do uniforms next practice, take pictures then." That got nods. He looked at the chasers.
"We're keeping Bonasera, the others can play alternate for days when we get called in."
"Agreed." He clapped his hands. "We've got a team. The fire department and the Bronx team is history." That got some smirks from his team. "Practice, Wednesday! Eight, sharp. You call me if you can't get here on time. We practice here. We play at the other spot." That got a nod and they dismounted, gathering stuff. Danny had to find his wand again but that was all right. "We have broom cabinets, Flack. That way it doesn't get hit in your car."
"Please." They followed, Danny putting both his brooms in there. They were locked with spells that Don hadn't seen yet and that was good with him. Danny came back and got his game broom, taking it with him at the last moment. "You don't trust him?" Don asked quietly.
"I need to polish it."
"Is that a metaphor for masturbation?" Stella asked as she joined them.
"Well, yeah, but I still need to do it. It's like waxing the car." He smirked at her. "The other stuff is all extra stuff for later." He winked and put the broom in the back with him, letting her have the front seat. "We need a shower."
"We do," Don agreed happily. "That is one killer workout. That and some jogging and I'll be set."
"Really," Stella agreed, lifting up her hair to wipe off the back of her neck. "That's a great workout. Too bad Mac's chicken."
"More like air sick," Danny offered. "It makes him sick so he tilts and the broom goes out of control so he crashes." She laughed. "Seriously. I've seen it before. Tony got that for about six months until they fixed his ears over summer break." He grinned at them. "I've got to find the pictures I want to send and pop 'em down to 'em."
"I'm sure they'll like that," Don agreed, heading for Danny's house first. He dropped him off. "See you in the morning!" Danny waved and grinned, heading inside. He looked at Stella. "Off to play with your vibrators?"
"No, shower, long bath, dinner. I got the other chaser's phone number. He's even single." She smiled at him, letting him drop her off. She kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks, Flack." She headed inside, happy with her day. She called Mac once she got in. "I made it. So did they. Practices are Wednesday at eight." She beamed. "Thank you. No, shower. I stink and I'm sweaty. Sure." She hung up and went to take a faster shower than she wanted since he wanted to have dinner and go over that case.
Speed looked over as something thumped on his couch, leaning over to grab the small package. He smiled at the address, flipping it over to open it. He lifted out the few pictures, smiling at the content. "Danny," he said happily. He called Tony. "It's me. Danny found our old pictures. Yeah, I just got three sent to me. Well, my couch but I don't have a desk at work." He beamed. "Junior, Senior, and post-grad." He beamed. "Sure, whenever you get a few days off. I'm bored as hell at the moment while they work out if I can come back or not. I have no idea. I was thinking memory charms really." He chuckled. "Sure. Later. Come down anytime, Tony. Be careful too. You get hurt more than I do." He hung up and got up to put the pictures on his shelf. Then he went back to the couch, sitting so he could watch them move.
Tony walked into his office the next morning, finding a plain brown package on his desk. He smiled when he saw the return address, opening it. They were frozen pictures, but still wizarding instead of muggle photos. He put them on his desk, out of the way but where he could see them.
His boss came over to look. "Cleaning crew?" he asked dryly with a smirk.
"No, school play." He looked at him. "The one time I did it."
"Interesting." He looked at them again then back at Tony. "Was that like that one with the trash can lids I got drug to?"
"Stomp? No, not really." He grinned and leaned back. "A friend who works in New York sent them down, Gibbs." He nodded at Ziva as she came in, then looked at his boss. "Boss, I'm having an ethical quandary."
"If I do something that'll piss everyone I know off but it's for a selfless and good reason, even though it bends the accepted order, is it wrong?"
"Never mind." He shook his head. "I'll figure it out."
"No, give it slower." He moved closer, sitting on the edge of his desk. "I've noticed you've been preoccupied since you got back from that convention. Your friend there?"
"Yeah, both of 'em." He swallowed. "An idea came up and it'd be totally wrong and against everything that you probably believe in, but it'd be for a selfless reason and it'd make some people very happy. Is it still wrong?" he asked quietly.
"You don't have the easy problems do you?" He stood up and looked at him. "Wrong is wrong. If it's a bad thing, even for a good reason, it's a bad thing."
"Thanks, boss. I needed someone to talk me out of doing it."
"Can't or won't?"
"Can't," he assured him. "I can't." That got a nod. "Thank you."
"Welcome. Glad I could help. Report?" It was printed off and handed over. "Thank you." He went to his desk. "So, who are they?"
"Guys from my school days."
"They went to Ohio State?"
"No, school before then. I did attend high school, Gibbs." He smirked and got back to work. He glanced at the pictures now and then, remembering the better days. He looked at his coworkers as they came over to snoop. "From a play in high school."
"You did it to meet girls?" Ziva asked.
"No, I did it because they were my best friends. Ever." He shifted in his seat and McGee moved out of his way.
"I know that dark haired one from somewhere," he said.
"He works in Miami."
"Oh." He nodded and went back to his desk.
Ziva looked at them, then at him. "Quidditch?" she asked quietly. He nodded. "Interesting. I know someone who went, I worked with them. You stay in practice?" He shook his head. "Pity, it could be useful."
"Only if I were like some that were recently stopped, Ziva," he said coolly. She nodded and went back to her desk. "Let's not have that conversation, all right?" She nodded, looking calm, cool, and collected, like always. "Thank you."
"You've seen that play?" Gibbs asked.
"I have," she agreed. "I once worked with someone who acted in it." She smiled at it. "It was amusing."
"It on tape?"
"Nope," Tony said before she could say anything. "Especially not me in it, boss." His boss shrugged and got back to work. He glared at Ziva, who shrugged slightly and got to work on her own reports. He sent up a silent prayer that he wouldn't have to try to obliviate Gibbs. He didn't think it'd work on him.
Danny wandered into work the next morning, looking like hell warmed over. Mac stared at him. "What?" he asked, sounding cranky to his own ears.
"Problematic calls all night. Lindsey called up to talk about the accident. I told her about the car crash." He handed over the notes he had made. "She called at two." He stomped off to get his jacket and head to the lab. Sheldon gave him a long look. "Long talk with Lindsey, Doc."
"How is she liking Florida?"
"She said it's nice and hot, plus the sun gets in the way of everything." He went into the lab, looking at the tech in there. "Yes, I'm going to growl and snap. Give me something ta do." A whole stack of stuff was handed over. "Thank you."
Mac came in a few minutes later. "Do you have an open case?"
"Do you really want me to deal with the citizens of New York today?" he countered sharply.
"No. Good work, Danny. Give us all reports when you're done." He hurried off. Danny sometimes took these moods and it was best just to let him go. He ran into Stella. "Did Lindsey call you?"
"No. Who did she call?"
"Danny." He handed over the notes. "Make sure those get to Don too." He smiled at her. "Danny's having one of *those* days."
"Good to know. He in Trace?" Mac nodded quickly, glancing back that way. "I'll spread around the warning." She walked off, going to warn everyone to leave Danny alone for a while. Fortunately the techs were already ahead of her, Don and Sheldon were talking about their latest case so the notes were given over and copied fairly easily, and she got to go on her first call of the day.
Back in the lab, Danny answered his phone. "Messer." He listened to the foul voice on the other side for a moment, then looked at it and laughed, hanging up. "Up yours." He got back to work, not letting it get to him. He had already warned the coach that Sonny wanted his ass dead. He'd tell Mac later that he had called. Sheldon leaned in. "Your stuff is next," he said before he could ask. "I'm doing Mac's first since it was on top."
"Okay, page me. I'm heading out on a call."
"Thanks, Danny." He headed out. He knew what the temper brewing was going to come to. "Danny was just muttering at his phone," he said when he passed by Mac.
Mac groaned. It was worse than he thought. He headed for Trace. "Danny, Sheldon said you were going to throw your phone?"
"Sonny's not worth the price of a new phone." He tossed it back, letting him catch it. He checked the number while Danny worked. "Yours," he said, printing off something, getting to work on Sheldon's case.
"Thank you." He wrote down the number and put the phone beside him. It rang again, coming up the same number. "Want me to get it?"
"Sure. You cuss the stupid fucker out."
Mac flipped open the phone. "Messer's phone." He listened then snorted. "That's very amusing, Mr. Sassone. He's said he's not really caring at the moment however. No, this is Danny's boss. If you remember, I arrested you." He laughed at the new threat. "Thank you for that. I'll be seeing you soon." He hung up on the laughter. "He just threatened to shoot me. How very nice of him." He walked off humming, going to report that to someone who could arrest him. Some of the officers kept track of those guys so they were easier to pick up. He went to prepare himself for a new confrontation with Sonny.
Danny smiled, his whole mood perking up. Mac was happy threatening someone, it was a good day again. He got done with his stack and went to sign in for street and scene work. No sense in making someone cover for him or staying around when Sonny got brought in.
Don tapped on Danny's door, getting the man himself. "Pizza?" he asked, holding it up.
"I could eat." He let him into the apartment, taking the pizza to where the tv was now. He sat down with a sigh of relief. "Practice tomorrow."
"Yeah, looking forward to it." He sat down beside him. "You wanna talk about some of this stuff?" Danny shook his head. "You sure? You've had some extreme mood swings recently. I heard the ballistics tech saying you had PMS."
Don patted him on the shoulder. "You're not. You're being a girl." Danny glared at him. "Hey, just saying," he said quickly. "You're having some wild mood swings, even just today. Was it Speed? Seeing Speed and Tony again? Rejoining your old life? Bad memories? If you tell me, I can let you talk it out like I'm just a wall."
"You're not fine. You haven't been fine for a few days. So what's wrong? Was it the kids in the park? Calling back your old life or what?"
Danny shook his head, then took off his shirt. "Do you see the tattoo?"
"No, I don't." He ran a hand over a scar. "That's not even in the right spot."
"No, it's not." He pulled away and put his shirt back on. "I'm fine."
"You lie for shit, Messer." He shifted a bit closer. "Talk to me."
"It's just stress and old memories. Speed, Tony, and I used to be the hottest of the hot things in school. I'm old now. I don't have the girls falling over their tongues to get mine. I don't have the future I thought I'd have. Even if I wanted it I can't play pro now. It's not the life I imagined before I fell. It's this defining moment in my life, ya know?"
"Yeah, I've had one of those myself. Mostly about a girl in my life dying." Danny nodded, understanding that. "You still get hot chicks out the ass. They do still watch you, Danny."
Danny shrugged. "It's not the same, Don. Back then, Tony was still in tight with his family. He ended up giving that up. Speed wasn't quite the brood master he is now. Still sarcastic but he was *fun* back then if you agreed with his version of fun. If not, he often made you his fun," he admitted. "Usually with me at his back. Now it's not the same. Those two knew every tiny thing about me. We were bastards," he said fondly, looking at a nearby picture, then at his new buddy. "It's still not the same."
"Of course not, even if they were here it might not be the same really. They've missed stuff."
"Yeah, but they heard about it. When Speed died, it was like the world ended there for a bit," he offered quietly, looking at Don again. "Then suddenly Tony's grieving for a teammate and I see him for the first time in years to cry on my shoulder. I couldn't help him then. I did later because he needed me to. All I could do was hold on and let him cry on me."
"That's what friends do," Don agreed easily.
"Yeah, but now he's troubled with the choice to do that to Kate or not. I can't help him. It's starting all over again. Everything's turning to hell, just like it did after I fell."
"Right after I fell, Tony talked to his dad and got kicked out. Speed left the city a few years later because of some shit in his life that he wouldn't come to us about. It's like shit was spreading us apart on purpose."
"Could it have been someone doing that?" Don asked quietly.
Danny shrugged. "I don't know. I couldn't find any evidence that my fall had anything ta do with anything. Tony chose a bad moment I guess. His old man got pissed that he didn't want to be a businessman like him and other things. Speed went on to college here in the city and then shit started in his life, but he refused ta tell us," he admitted, shifting some so he could curl up more. "Things just went to hell."
"It happens to the best of us," Don agreed. "College changes things for everyone. People who were tight get looser, and kids you thought you knew turn into assholes with the addition of too many girls and too much beer." Danny shook his head. "No?"
"No. We were still the same guys. It's just like something put a pry bar between us and shoved. It feels wrong."
"Then work to get closer, Danny. You can pop around at will, right? No one said you can't pop down to Miami or DC for a weekend." He gave his head a shove. "Not on game weekends, but nothing says you can't do that."
"Tony said he's working alone, magically, in his office," he said dryly.
"So don't show up in his office. Call first, pop down for dinner and drinks, then come home. It's only DC. It's not like it'll take as much time as it did for me to get back from Scotland."
"Point," he admitted. "Yeah, maybe I will. Speed was moping around last I knew. Tony's struggling with the thing with Kate." He picked up the phone to call him. "Tony, me. You wanna get together soon for dinner? Mine, yours, don't matter." He grinned. "Sure, we can invite Scruffy down there too. He's moping." He beamed. "No, I just got a kick in the ass from Flack. Yeah. He pointed out popping around was doable." He grinned. "Just think, neither of us kept in rigid practice. Speed is in more practice than we are, man." He chuckled. "Definitely. No, but Don's here with pizza. Don, you mind if he pops up?"
"Fine with me. I don't mind meeting your old friends. It'll make me understand you better when you turn into a girl."
Danny listened. "No, not literally! They thought I had PMS today." He smirked. "Yeah, one of those. Oh, Sonny called, twice." He moved the phone away from his ear at the yelling. "I know. I let Mac talk ta him the second time so he could threaten him. Yeah, I'm home. Call Scruffy so you guys can get scared that I'm working with Flack." He hung up and looked at him. "Thanks."
"Welcome." He gave him another head shove, looking over at the popping noise.
"No, see, I've learned the secret of that move, it's a slap, not a shove." He smacked Danny upside the head. "Where might Sonny be?"
"Being fucked up the ass in prison?" he offered dryly. "Tony, this is Don Flack. Don, this is Tony 'I am a slut' DiNozzo. He brought pizza, Tony."
"From the good place?"
"They closed a few years back," he offered, moving the box. "Come sit." Tony hopped over and sat between them, giving Danny a hug. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Speed had Eric whining at his heels about magic again so he's going to be later." A pop belied his words. "Send him home pouting?"
"No, he's pouting on my couch. I told him I was coming up to visit Danny." Speed grinned at them. "Hi, Don."
"Hey, Speed. They ever put you back to work?"
"I start in two weeks, unless Horatio bothers someone to death," he complained, coming over to sit down on Danny's other side. "So what's going on?"
"Danny and I made beater on the PD inter-borough team," Don said proudly. "Stella got third chaser."
"Congrats." Speed looked at him. "I'm coming for at least one game."
"Of course you are." He gave him a hug. "I missed you guys."
"Yeah, well, watching from heaven wasn't that cool. No motorcycles, no thrill rides. Just calm, peaceful shit that annoyed me." Tony glared at him. "What?"
"He, um, lost a teammate recently," Danny said gently.
Speed nodded. "Yeah, I met her. For some reason, she read more than I did."
"Kate?" he asked, looking confused.
"Oh, no, sorry, Becky. Kate....."
"Todd? Caitlyn technically but only Ducky ever called her that. Former Secret Service person?"
"They had their own meadow to hang in, sorry, Tony."
"S'okay." He reached over to pinch him. "Bastard."
"Thanks." He grinned sweetly. "So, Flack, I unfondly remember your sister. She used to bug the hell out of us and give us puppy eyed looks begging for attention."
"Yeah, she said you guys picked on her."
"Couldn't really help it. The girl was a horrible flirt," Tony complained.
Don nodded. "Yeah, that's why she's married and I'm not. Oh, Danny, Ma yelled for over four hours at dinner. I ended up walking out when she repeated." Danny groaned. "But that's okay. Dad yelled back a few times so I'm happy enough at the moment." He reached over Tony to pinch him. "Are we practicing besides team practices?"
"Oooh, no, not while you're still learning stuff." He looked at his buddies. "The school said he was powerless. He's a natural curse breaker and they said he was powerless. Dumass took him in and they said he wasn't a wizard."
Tony burst out in giggles, leaning on Don's shoulder. "Oh, man. Prestons test you? Old guy, white goatee?" Don nodded. "He was such a damn flake. Scared of fairies." He sat up, looking at Speed. "Remember the pixie lessons?"
"Unfortunately yes. I also remember cleaning the defense classroom for a month for releasing the pixies on him." Don snickered at that. "Anything you could get up to in a muggle classroom, we got into worse," he assured him.
"Stripping charm our fifth year," Danny remembered fondly.
"And our sixth year," Tony agreed with a sigh of pleasure. His phone buzzed and he groaned. "No, not another case." He pulled it out. "DiNozzo," he said without hint of a whine. "No, boss, I'm with my buddy. Sure. Be right there. Yes, I know, I ran for a change. Be right there. Go ahead inside." He hung up and stood up. "Laters, Danny. I'm on this weekend. You?"
"This and next. Game the weekend after that."
"Cool. See you then. Speed, pop down later." He winked at Don. "You, take better care of Danny. He's stubborn and sometimes does dumb stuff." He disappeared.
"Dumb stuff? You?" Speed taunted with a smirk. "Why ever would you do dumb stuff, Danny?"
"Would that be like letting Mac be threatened by Sonny the second time he called today? Or would that be him hanging up on him the first time?" Don asked.
Speed smacked Danny upside the head. "I thought we agreed the next time he saw you I'd be killing him."
"Yeah, well, you weren't here when he outed our past dalliance to Mac," he said bitterly, glaring at him. "Got me in no end of shit with Taylor, Speed. Told him I was a Tanglewood boy." Speed moaned. "Yeah. After that I had ta shoot someone so I got taken off the promotion grid. You nearly got a new CSI on your shift." He swallowed. "I came so close to calling and saying I was coming down. To get me an application and start working on the personal parts." Speed hugged him. "Thanks."
"If it was that bad, you should've come." He looked at Don. "It's fixed, right?"
"Mostly. Some guys still don't like him greatly since it was a dirty cop." Speed hissed and Don nodded. "Mostly it's okay again. Just now and then something pops back up." He punched Danny on the arm. "I thought this was supposed to cheer you up, not upset you more."
"Sometimes you've got to vent," Speed offered, shrugging a bit. "We let Danny vent and then cuddle him until he's normal and demands that we pick up pretty girls to sleep with."
"Been a while for that," Danny sighed.
"Yeah, me too. Even before I died." He looked at him. "Was there a curse on the school?"
"According to the kids in the park, any good quidditch player who wanted to turn pro got hurt," Don offered.
"You're a curse breaker, can you look at it?"
"I'm still training but I can whine to Alex."
"Please, man. I'll sleep with him."
"No you won't, he's got a very possessive consort veela that no one can even look at funny."
"Who?" Speed asked.
"Draco Malfoy." Speed gaped. "Yeah, Alex got him in a reparation thing that he had against Lucius and Draco's reformed. You never call him a Malfoy. He's still a princess now and then, but he's not a Malfoy. Now he's a Dumass princess and consort to the prince of the family." That got an amused look. "Alex straightened the kid out. He's pretty decent now. Didn't even say the 'm' word about me or Stella."
"Stella said someone tanned his ass over it," Danny offered. "Probably the scary aunts who kept coming in to feed us."
Speed looked at him. "You went with them?"
"Of course. I needed the refresher. Tony and I are both out of practice, Speed."
"Damn. You wouldn't think I'd be the one to stay in practice." Danny nodded. "Are you refreshing okay?"
"Pretty good. I put stuff in a pensieve and retrieved it recently. Oh, the Vinese had a fit on my father."
"Good! Someone needed to beat his ass repeatedly." He gave him another squeeze, looking at Don. "You don't cuddle him?"
"I like girls and he'd kick my ass if I tried."
"Cuddles have nothing to do with sex," Speed assured him, hauling him closer so they could cuddle him. "See?" Don wiggled free so he grinned. "You lasted longer than Calleigh did. I'm impressed."
"She normal again?"
"Yeah, they all decided I had to come back, one way or another, because the team was going to hell and their personal lives were in a shambles, so therefore I could fix that for them. Apparently I gave them something to fuss over and it was good enough." Don nodded, understanding that. "How's your lab?"
"We're looking for a replacement for Lindsey."
Speed made Danny look at him. "You worked with her?"
"I was nearly stalked by her."
"Eww. I'm sorry." The phone rang and Don got it.
"Messer's house." He listened and handed the phone to them. "Sounds like a panicking Tony."
"What happened?" Speed demanded calmly. "What do you mean he found your wand? Excuse it as being a Harry Potter fan, Tony!" He rolled his eyes. "Then put the big grump on." He heard a growl. "Listen, Gibbs, you've got nothing on Alexx Woods, so just quit, okay. He's a Harry Potter fan in the closet. Just let it go." He hung up and looked at Danny. "I'll be back in an hour after we deal with that." He stole a quick kiss, getting a grin, then he disappeared from right there.
"So, you like boys?" Don asked a few minutes later.
"I like girls, but sometimes guys are nice if they understand. Boarding school was like that. We couldn't get into the girls' rooms and being with a boy was preferable since the girl would be expelled if she got knocked up."
"Wow. That's tougher than most Catholic schools." Danny nodded. Don relaxed again. "You three?"
"Shared a room for six years, Don. One night I played connect the dots on Tony's back zits. Came out looking like a Picasso." That got a snort. "Seriously. After that, we all took the cure because Tony drenched me in purple paint that stuck to anywhere I had hair. I looked like one of those tellytubby things without the antenna." Don snickered at that, shaking his head. "We were hard on everyone around us but between us it was a game. I used ta torment Speed all the time by hiding his classwork on him. Then we copied off it and it suddenly appeared when he started to do it over, most of the time. Now and then it showed up just as he got done with the second round, and a few times the fifth round was when they all showed up. He criscoed our brooms and told all the girls in the house that Tony liked house elves, but that was good with us. I did everything with those guys." His phone rang and he sighed, picking it up. "Messer?" He listened. "Are you scared of the growling, stubborn Marine? Sure, I deal with one of those daily." He hung up and stood up. "We'll be back in an hour. Turn on the game and save us at least two slices each." He disappeared, landing in Tony's apartment a few minutes later. "Guys, he can't be worse than Mac," he complained.
"Who are you?" Gibbs demanded, glaring at him.
"Messer, NYPD." He glared back, earning a smirk. "I deal with a stick-up-the-ass Marine every day, Gibbs. You got nothing on Taylor when he's cranky." That got another amused look. "Seriously."
"I know Mac Taylor. I'll tell him you said that."
"Go right ahead, I've said it to his face before and called him a fucking princess." Tony gaped so he shrugged. "What? He was a Marine, yay. Doesn't scare me. Hell, I've seen Stella with PMS and no chocolate and no midol. Nothing's scarier than that." Tony let out a small chuckle. "You'd like Stella, Tony. She's a smartass. When I first met her, I thought we had changed Speed into a girl again." Speed giggled at that, collapsing onto the couch. "You didn't think so?"
"I do," he gasped. "I can see how you thought that. Oh, Gods, I'll have to tell Horatio that. He thinks I'm a stiff guy." He wiped his face off, looking at Gibbs. "If you know Taylor, do you know what he did in the Marines?"
"Yeah, and I married one of you by accident once. Is it natural to come with drama queen tendencies?"
"Was that the one Fornell married too, boss?" Tony asked dryly. Gibbs nodded. "Oops. Does he know?"
"No she took that memory from him."
"Don't worry, we'll be doing the same for you," Danny agreed with a grin.
"Fat chance, kid."
"Bet me," Speed agreed. "Tony's got to have a happy life. We want Tony to have a happy life and have many little DiNozzo babies that we can torment and corrupt."
"I'll turn his babies into suits," Danny said proudly.
"You do that and my father would pay you," Tony said dryly.
"Why? The Vinese took my whole damn clan home ta kick their asses and left me the assets."
"Oooh!" Tony squealed, hugging him. "I'm so proud!"
"Me too." He beamed happily at Speed. "I'm selling the monstrosity I grew up in." Speed came over to hug him too. "Thanks, guys. I miss you."
"Maybe I'll transfer to the New York office," Tony offered quietly.
"You move from your desk and I'll kick your ass, DiNozzo," Gibbs warned. Tony shot him a glare. "I don't care if you're doing Barney and the Teleflubbies or whatever they are. You're staying." He looked at Speed. "I saw the news about you. How did you come back?"
"Really hard spell that could've provided an end to the world."
"That's what I wanted talked out of, boss," Tony said quietly.
Gibbs took a deep breath, then nodded. "She'd kick both our asses if we tried it, DiNozzo. Especially if it hurt others." Tony nodded, relaxing again. "Good call to bring it to me." He punched him on the arm. "We will be talking."
"Tonight, boss? I was catching up with my crew." He pouted. "Please?"
"Fine. Go. We'll talk all day tomorrow. You can come help me work on the boat."
"Yes, boss. Thanks." They disappeared, still in their huddle.
Gibbs moaned and rubbed a hand over his face. "How did I get sucked back into that world again?" he complained, heading for home. He needed a drink. Badly. Before the flashbacks to the fights he had with his witch of a wife started again.
Danny walked into work the next morning smiling and happy, beaming at Stella.
"Who dressed you?" she asked, looking at the fairly tight jeans and button-up shirt. "Speed?" He beamed and nodded. "Why?"
"I missed my crew." He headed for the locker room to grab his stuff for the day, going to put himself on for scenes.
Mac coughed from behind him. "Danny, how do you know Jethro Gibbs?"
"He's Tony's boss and he thought he was scarier than you on a princess day," he snorted, smirking at him.
"I do not have princess days, Danny."
"Yes, you do," Stella called as she walked in the other direction. "Please have one today during the budget meeting." Mac glared after her, she could feel it. Well, at least Danny was happier.
Mac glared at Danny again. "Do you think that's appropriate to wear to a scene?"
"At least it doesn't take dry cleaning and Speed gets away with it," he offered with a cute grin.
"I'm not Horatio."
"No, you don't have red hair," Don agreed from behind them. "Didn't Speed and Tony do a nice job on him, Mac? Nice, relaxed, happy Danny is nice to see again, right?"
"It is, but he's still not dressed...."
"Mac, say one more word and I'm going home since you called me in on my last day off."
"Sorry. Fine. Try to stay away from the general public today, all right?" he ground out, heading to his office.
Danny glanced around then pulled his wand, giving Mac a very nice kitten tail. Then he headed off to the first scene of the day while Don snickered and went to hide.
"Um, Mac?" Sheldon called a minute later. "Are you having a wardrobe problem?" Mac looked down at himself, then his backside, groaning and muttering to clear it up, even though his wand was still in his desk. Sheldon handed him his jacket. "I'd hold it," he suggested, getting out of the way. He knew a Princess Mac day when he saw one. He was even nice enough to warn the other techs.
Mac got to his office and found his wand, removing the tail. Then he sat down to call Miami. "Can I trade Speed for Danny? Just for a few weeks?" He groaned. "Did you get a cat tail too? Alligator? Why?" He nodded once at the brusk 'it's native' explanation. "Apparently Speed, Tony, who works at NCIS, and Danny all got together last night to cheer each other up."
"I was there and it was hilarious," Don called. "I'm not telling though."
"Apparently Don joined in too," he added for good measure, still regretting this assignment. "If you won't take Danny, can you just send Speed up and I'll move down there? You're sane at least." He smiled at that. "Sure. We'll send the three playboys down to your end of the world so they can stare at bikinis all day." Horatio's smart remark about Eric made him smile. "Are you sure? Thank you, Horatio." He hung up and put his head down. Maybe they could arrange it so Horatio came up for a month or so while Danny went down there. Maybe he'd take Flack with him too. As long as it wasn't during the quidditch season. He had been ordered from on high that both of them were to be available and ready for practices and games, no matter what case came up.
Speed walked into work, smiling and happy. Horatio gave him an odd look since he had just been out on a gruesome case. "Find the killer?"
"No, but I found something very interesting. She's smuggling pearls." He smirked at him. "Used them like a sex string to get them past customs. They were too small and too long to be anything else."
Horatio nodded once. "If I asked, would you and Danny like a month together while Mac and I hide in the other city far away from you two?"
"It'd have to be after the playing season, Danny could use a tan so it'd have to be down here, and we'd have to bring Tony too. But sure, have fun on that vacation in New York when you arrange it. Danny might even let you stay at his place. He's fixed it up very nicely." He saw the thorn in his side coming closer. "Ah, Rick Stetler," he said dryly, smirking at him. "Did you need something this fine, beautiful day?"
"How did you survive?" he snarled.
"The Grace of God and some very good friends. Fortunately they love me enough to save my tired ass from things that make me want to hurl." He gave him a pointed look and then his phone rang. "Speedle," he answered, smiling. "Hi, Tony. Why?" He listened and smirked. "Killer. He'll be stoked for that. Thanks." He hung up. "Horatio, you have your wish. Tony's team at NCIS just caught a *major* drugs, guns, sex, and assassination ring that briefly got one of their officers. It'll be all of us and Vegas, plus some work in Chicago."
Horatio nodded. "That's fine. We'll be briefed when?"
"When Tony gets here tomorrow. Well, tonight, but he'll be briefing us tomorrow while Gibbs goes to New York to do Taylor since he knows him." He smirked as the implication sunk in. "Not quite, he married into the family as it were." He walked off whistling, happy to have ruined another of Stetler's moments and given Horatio a reason to swear yet again.
"How do you put up with him?" Stetler ground out.
"I like him being happy, Rick. It makes the day go faster." Anything that annoyed the Internal Affairs asshole who vexed him was a good thing in his book, even if he had to suffer.
"Horatio, he's scaring me, he's smiled at me and he's whistling!" Calleigh called. "Make Speed normal again!"
"He spent some time with his friends last night," he called back, shaking his head. "Sorry, I have to deal with that." He went to calm Calleigh down before she panicked. No one was used to Speed not being grumpy all the time. He got there just in time to hear Speed suggest Eric help him pick up women and watch him change him into a dog. "Change him back," he ordered firmly. "Now." Speed sighed and changed him back. "With permission, off the clock, and no picking up women during your lunch break either."
Eric pouted at him. "I can't?"
"No!" Eric stomped off pouting. He glared at Speed. "What got into you?"
"This is the guy I was when I migrated," he offered sheepishly. "I'm channeling Tony. Sorry, boss."
"I should smack you like he gets. Behave, Speed."
"Yes, sir." Horatio stomped off and he let out another wicked smirk. "For now." He went back to work, enjoying the hell out of himself. It wasn't truly love unless your friends accepted your odd moods too. He wondered how Danny was doing in his 'fuck me' clothes. He put in his ear bud and called Tony. "My man! Are you channeling Danny today?" He grinned at the implications of his 'yes' sounding pouty. "What? No pretty women?" He beamed. "No, I'm channeling you so Danny must be going for brooding and steaming sexuality today at work. What did you dress him in?" He listened to the description and beamed. "Nice choice. That did make him look hot. Maybe he'll get some play at work." He beamed. "I am too. Tell Gibbs I blew him a kiss, man, and that we're ready for the briefing anytime today." He hung up and grinned since Horatio had come back. "Danny said something last night."
"Is it going to send me for my bottle of tylenol or just a bottle?"
"It made me giggle like the time I accidentally took 'shrooms." Horatio put his hands on his hips and stared at him, head cocked slightly to the right. "Danny thought, when he first met Stella, that it was me and that I had been turned into a girl."
Horatio cracked a smile at that. "I can see how he came to that conclusion." He stared him down. "Are you done playing?"
"No. I'm channeling Tony. Danny's channeling me on a happy day, and Tony's channeling Danny today. Apparently if we were girls we'd have synched cycles long ago with how close we are."
Horatio stepped closer. "Remember, should you cause me that much stress, I can do to you what you did to Eric. Or worse," he said quietly. "Since I'm not in full practice, you'd probably get stuck that way. Are we understood?"
"Good. Play more nicely and more quietly. I won't make you quit playing totally just quit picking on Eric and Calleigh. Or me. Be more subtle. You're usually smarter than this, Speed."
"Sorry, I'm having a goofy Tony day."
"I understand that," he agreed quietly. "Just tone it down. Do it during lunch. You've already made Calleigh cry when she caught you turning Eric into a basset hound." That got a nod. "Thank you. You and Tony can pick up all the women you want tonight. Just be safe, be careful, and wear this urge out with them."
"With Tony? It wouldn't be the first time."
Horatio moaned. "Not what I needed to see when I take something for my headache, Speed," he offered quietly. "I remember my own days in school very well." He patted him on the arm, looking at him. "Understand? Can we agree on this?"
"Yes, Horatio. I'm sorry I scared Calleigh."
"Thank you." He walked off to tell Calleigh he was sorry then went to take some tylenol for his headache. He didn't mind playful moods, just not in the lab.
Gibbs walked into the CSI lab, flashing his badge. "Special Agent Gibbs for Mac Taylor." The receptionist paged him immediately. He sat down to wait, figuring he was a busy guy. He came down a few minutes later. "Paperwork day?"
"Second day of budget meetings. Thank you for saving my sanity, Special Agent Gibbs. This way." He led him to his office, closing the door. "Please let Danny, Speed, and Tony be together for a bit, Jethro," he begged.
"Tony's in Miami."
"They have practice on Wednesdays," Mac offered.
"I doubt we can get this solved that quickly, Mac." He looked him over. "Have you been okay? It's been a while since we talked."
"Decent, but I still miss Claire."
"I'm sorry. You can have one of my ex's."
"It wouldn't be the same. Your exes couldn't burn jello salad." That got a small smile. "So who do I owe the pleasure of this visit to?"
"Our director said we're to work with the locals on this case. We've found connections to Chicago, you guys, and Miami." He handed over the folder he had been carrying. "We need to correlate any deaths related to this group first and then work on it."
"I can lend you Danny," he offered.
"Isn't he one of your lead CSI?"
"Level two," he admitted quietly.
"Is he bad?"
"No, but his past came back to haunt him and then he got into a shootout with a dirty cop."
"Ah. Those things happen and usually impede forward momentum for a career." He sat down across from him. "Still, he's valuable in the field I bet. I could use someone who was fast but not terminally new."
"We have an ME who just traded into the field."
"He wanted to see the whole thing instead of just a body. He's in the same position you are with Danny and stuff. His sister is one of us."
"That's fine. How new is he?"
"He's got good instincts and he's pure scientist. I like Sheldon. He'll go far," he admitted. "I can also let you have Stella or Danny when they're not busy." He looked in the folder, nodding a bit. "I know we've seen a few just like this," he offered, looking at him. "We can start with a case search by MO and suspect's name."
"That would go faster. Usually I have McGee do it."
"Can I switch him and Danny?"
"Hell no. He's the only one who can fix my PDA. Plus, Abby likes him."
"You kept Abby?"
"She's our forensics lab."
"Wow. She and Danny might get along."
"I won't let Abby date a wizard, Mac. She's already goth." That got a small shudder. "I like the girl but sometimes she's got bad taste in men." He shifted and crossed his feet at the ankle. "Once we get things moving, we should be able to pop around back and forth to deal with this. I'll try to keep Ziva out of this office." Mac gave him a look. "She's Mossad in on special assignment. I got assigned to teach her."
"Thank you. The last Mossad agent I ran into, I ended up shooting in the ass." He paged Sheldon then got back to briefing himself. Sheldon tapped and walked in a few minutes later. "Sheldon Hawkes, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS. We've got a case that crosses over with them and Miami. Pull all the related cases and start from there, Sheldon," he ordered, handing over the file.
"Sure. Can we take over a lab?" Mac nodded. "Okay. This way, Special Agent Gibbs."
"Just Gibbs is fine," he offered, nodding at Mac before getting up and following him out.
"NCIS. Does Ducky work with you?"
"I thought Ducky's reach was limited to DC," he said dryly. "Should've figured. I do. He's our team's ME. I'll be calling him later if you wanted a minute to chat."
"No, just tell him I said hello and to be well please." He opened a lab door and flipped on the lights. "We haven't used this one today. We can work in here." He got them into the computer system and sat down, looking at the specifics. "Hmm, I remember doing an autopsy like that one." He typed in the method of killing and pulled up the related files.
Tony strolled into Miami's office with a bright smile for all the beautiful women. He pulled his badge for the receptionist. "I need to brief Lieutenant Caine on a case?" he ordered quietly.
"Who can I say is here, sir?"
"Special Agent DiNozzo." She nodded and paged him with that information. A small blonde woman came over and he looked at her. "The last time I saw Horatio, he was larger and a redhead."
"He's in the field," she offered, smiling at him. "He said you can start with me and Speed in his office." She looked at the receptionist. "It's about a case." A badge was handed over. "Thank you." She led him back to Horatio's office, smiling at Speed since he was behind the desk. "What sort of case, Special Agent DiNozzo?"
"First, it's Tony, and it's a sex, drugs, and assassination ring," he offered, handing over the folders. "It crosses into a few cities. We're hoping we can keep it on this coast. Las Vegas and Chicago all have bad enough times keeping down the crimes going on. We'll pull them in if we think one's active out there but we sent an agent to brief them. Actually, Abby volunteered to go to Vegas but Gibbs said no."
"Wonder why?" Speed noted dryly with a smirk. "She was cute."
"She's very sweet," Tony agreed with a grin. "When someone framed me for murder, she worked day and night to get me free." Speed smiled at that. He noticed Calleigh looking at him funny. "Our, well her, assistant hated me because I got him fired for screwing stuff up at another lab so he planted enough forensic evidence for a slamdunk case, but Abby found the stuff that had been kept around it, like lab preservatives. She ended up duct taping him in the lab."
"She sounds like she's quite the girl," Calleigh agreed, going back to the folder. She finally handed it to Speed. "Where did you want to start?"
"Pulling up all related cases?" Speed suggested. "Lets see if we can provide a pattern. Then we'll talk with the other cities once they've got theirs up." He looked at her. "You want or me?"
"You can have Ryan, he's skulking around right now." Speed raised an eyebrow. "I know what Eric told you but he's not a bad guy."
"Eric never said he was. He called him a drama queen when he first got here but that he had settled down some. Come in, Ryan." He stuck his head in. "This is Special Agent DiNozzo, NCIS. We've got a case crossing over into multiple cities. You want to help him pull up related cases or me?"
"I can do it. I took off my tiara a few months back."
"Good. I'm the only princess allowed in this lab," Speed shot back with a smirk. Ryan blushed and nodded. "We'll get along just fine as long as you pull your share of the work." Ryan glared at him for that. "Not that I've heard differently."
"Thank you. Agent DiNozzo, if you'll come with me, we can take over a lab to pull up related cases."
"Thank you." He smiled at Speed as he took the folder back. "I didn't know you still had the tiara, Speed." He walked off with him. Ryan gave him a sideways look. "I went to school with him, that's why I got sent while the boss went to New York."
"That's cool. Was he always so surly and odd?"
"Speed? Surly?" He snorted. "Speed was once named "most likely to brood his lover to death" by our house. I don't think he's quite went that far, but....." He grinned at him. "Before you ask, I don't share blackmail. He's got way too much on me."
"Okay. Can I at least tell Eric so he can ask?"
"Sure," he offered with a grin. "Speed said some great things about all of you. We've got another friend in New York that Gibbs is dealing with today." That got a grin back and Ryan let him into a lab. "This is nice. Abby would adore this. I should take pictures so she knows what she's begging for." He took out his camera phone to send her pictures. He got back a text messaged squeal and a complaint about the director looking over her shoulder. "Hold on. Go ahead and start, I've got to calm her down. New Director syndrome." He called and smiled. "Hi, Abby. You got the pictures of their lab okay?" He nodded. "Any word from Gibbs? I don't know, sweetie, we'd have to find a legitimate reason for you to see the other labs to see what we'd need to update. Ah, hello, Director. We do need Abby on the cutting edge and Miami does have it," he noted patiently. "New York's not that far behind and neither is Vegas, but Miami's a tech's dream." He smiled at Horatio as he walked in. "Abby wanted to know if she could tour the lab to see where we could use some updating, Horatio."
"I don't mind bragging about our labs," he agreed with a small smile. Ryan handed over the folder so he got acquainted with it. "I remember a few of these. Ryan, any luck pulling them up?"
"I'm imputing characteristics now, Horatio."
"Gotta go, Abby. I'll call later with an update for you. Tell Gibbs we're pulling up related case files if he calls from New York. How's McGee?" He looked at Horatio. "Who should McGee brief in Vegas?"
"Grissom. Night shift," Horatio ordered.
"Abby, tell him to brief Grissom and his night shift crew. Yes, tell him it's an order. Horatio trusts them by the look on his face. Tell him I said so, that's why. Yeah, well, some people kiss ass for a living, Abby. It's the way of the world of politics." He heard the director snort. "They do, ma'am. Tell him to brief Grissom's night shift. Gibbs will back me up if they're the best in the city." Horatio nodded at that. "Lieutenant Caine said they are, yes. Thanks, Abby." He hung up. "The director is hanging over her shoulder," he said with a grimace, calling Gibbs. "Get Abby free, make sure McGee isn't being bogged down by asskissers in Vegas, Caine said to have him brief Grissom and his night shift." He smirked. "No, that was an order, boss. The director is on Abby's six and in her lab. She sounded stressed. Like she was going to explode on her for Chip. Oh, she's getting an invite to come look over Miami's labs." He hung up on the groan. "Sorry." He came over to look, frowning at the pattern. "They've either been very active here for only being four years old, or they've copied someone. Can we narrow it down by suspects or those who've been solved?" Ryan typed that in and it mostly cleared the map. "Good job, guys. We've got more open cases than that in our bureau."
"My guys do their best every day," Horatio agreed. "Ryan, take that off and let's look at the timeline issue. Are you sure this group is only four years old?"
"The military counterparts only met four years ago with the thorough background we did. We know two went to college together before they joined but nothing criminal or even vaguely disturbing came up until their partners joined. Then you start seeing petty crap around that area until about two years ago when they started to majorly smuggle because they got moved to foreign bases." They shared a look. "They met with their partners just over four years ago."
"So we can keep it within that timeline." Ryan finished adjusting their timeline and less dots were on the screen. "Nice job, Mr. Wolfe. Can we weed it down by any other categories?"
"Well, we know they started doing assassinations officially two years ago but one of the partners had that as a hobby before then," he offered, looking at the map. "We can't find much on his background. The FBI has it locked for some reason. We've got a call into them but they're being clams. Even Gibbs can't threaten them into giving it up at the moment." He shifted closer. "Where is that big clump centered?" Ryan clicked on one. "Maybe we can weed out that?"
"We did catch that serial killer," Horatio agreed. "That was right before I took over the lab. Can we exclude those, Mr. Wolfe?"
"I can try, I'm not sure if I can or not, Horatio." He typed in a new command and they dropped off. "Okay, the 'not' commands work like I think they should."
"McGee could have many happy nights with this software," Tony said fondly. "He's a geek and a hacker." He pointed at one. "Still a clump." Ryan clicked on one of those dots, bringing up that file. "Interesting."
"What's the case count?" Horatio asked.
"Sixty-three, Horatio. All but six are solved."
"Then we may have to reopen a few of the investigations," he agreed quietly. "Pull the six unsolved first, then we'll go back over the others." Ryan nodded, printing out the database list. He looked at Tony. "At least it's a starting place."
"Which is all we ask for," he agreed with a smile. "I've also got a call in to JAG for any bases in the local area with similar crimes. Just in case." That got a nod. "Any military academies?"
"Two," Ryan agreed. "Non affiliated, just military academies, like prep schools." He looked at him. "Both are just outside the city. The base just south of here does have a base school and there's a community around it."
"Mostly Air Force but I'm guessing they may have some Navy pilots," Ryan offered. "I have no idea how that works." Tony nodded, pulling out a notepad to make notes on that for Abby to look up. "Should I search statewide as well?"
"Please. Is the base in your area?"
"Just outside it," Horatio told him. "Search statewide, focusing on that area first. If they were military it would be logical that they'd do things closer since they've got a limited distance they can roam most weekends." Ryan nodded, adjusting his search string. It came up with a lot more dots, but they found more unsolved cases. "Interesting. That's the base," he said, pointing at a clump. "And that's Pensacola," he said with a glance at Tony. Tony nodded and took down names. "Print that as well so he can fax it back, Ryan. Good work so far."
"Thank you, Horatio. Are we assigning anyone specifically?"
"I'll let you and Speed handle most of this," he assured him. "You both have the lightest case load at the moment." He saw Eric go walking past. "Eric!" He came back. "This is Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. NCIS. They're down on a crossover case."
"Tony, please," he offered with a smile, shaking his hand. "Speed's said some nice things about you over the years."
"You know Speed?"
"We went to high school together."
"Ah. Got any good blackmail?"
"Yes, but he's got pictures of me with monstrous talking zits." Eric snickered at that and nodded. "Sorry."
"No, that's okay. At least you'll get to catch up with him. H, the case this morning, it was a smuggling thing. He tried to come back. Frank got him."
"Thank you, Eric. Very good work. Finish the forensics so it's a sealed case for the prosecutors." Eric nodded and smirked at Tony before leaving.
"Talking zits? I've never heard that expression," Ryan offered with a grin. "Not that mine were any better when I was younger. Should I search out into our files of residents who got killed in other states too?"
"No, if it crosses into that, we'll go there then," Tony promised with a smile for him. "Thank you for your help, Ryan. That list has case names and files, right?" He nodded. "Then I'll fax that back to Abby for her to collate and send on to Gibbs. Then I'll start on the unsolveds with you, if Horatio agrees?"
"That would be fine. Thank you, Tony." Horatio walked off to tell Speed to help them, then went to take some more tylenol. He could only imagine what a talking zit looked like and he knew Speed could have pulled that off easily by what he had done earlier in the week.
Danny looked up as Gibbs walked into his lab, smirking at him. "Need help?"
"Yes, and I just got given you."
"Okay, what do we need today?" He looked at a nearby tech, nodding at his station. "It's running, catch the paper, hand ta Stella please." She nodded, coming over to watch that for him while he walked Gibbs off. "What's up?"
"We've pulled a list of cases. Miami's system apparently runs faster."
"Miami's got people down there who beg to hand the lab money. We don't. They're using some great new software according to Speed."
"So Abby said. She wanted to take the tour."
"I wouldn't mind," Mac said as he caught up to them. "I doubt we could get the budget and grants for it though."
"Mac, can we ask the Gates Foundation maybe?" Danny offered. "Or maybe I'll ask around some of the guys from school?"
"You could do that. I'd like to update the lab a lot." He looked at him. "Need help pulling cases? I'm between scenes. My last one was a heart attack."
"That's fine." He handed over the list. "That's what Sheldon's found so far. Tony reported a bunch of cases down there through the state and in Miami-Dade so he's looking at the unsolveds first."
"That's always wiser, then you can go back to see if we've put the wrong person behind bars," Mac agreed, leading him to the case file room. "Anything older than three years and it goes to a special warehouse for up to twenty years unless it's not solved," he offered. "I can get you in there as well."
"Thank you." He looked at the nervous file clerk. "We need this list pulled and available for us." The length of the list got a moan but Mac glared and the guy hurried off. "I have to do that now and then. That and swat people on the head."
Sheldon came up to them, handing over another, shorter, list. "This one is around the same area, has the same names mentioned," he offered. "I can't be sure if they're related or not."
"Thank you, Sheldon, good work," Mac praised. He checked his watch, then looked at Danny. "Don't forget practice tonight. I don't want to be chewed out."
"I don't forget that stuff, Mac, and my watch alarm is set. Relax. Don'd come get me if I even thought about running late."
"Practice?" Sheldon asked.
Danny grinned. "Stella, Don, and I all made the inter-borough team."
"Congrats. When's your first game?"
"I'll be there," Sheldon promised. He saw the platform being hauled their way. "All in the same general area?"
"Yes, sir. We sort by area of each borough so it was a matter of going through a few shelves. Any that I haven't checked off, I'll bring to you wherever."
"The old lab up on three please," Sheldon ordered. That got a nod and Sheldon maneuvered the cart with Danny's help. "We're going back to the same lab, Gibbs."
"I'll be right up." He waited until they were alone, then looked at Mac. "How do you handle that stuff?" he asked quietly.
"Danny's happier and more effective now," he offered quietly. "Plus it keeps things quiet." He led him up to that lab with the rest of the files the clerk found at that moment.