Actions

Work Header

CHASING THE FLAME

Chapter Text


The body had died in a very gruesome manner and it wasn't like any Grissom had seen in his long career as a CSI scientist. He squatted to take a closer look after taking several pictures of it.

The male looked to be in his middle or late twenties, dark haired, pale complected, about six feet, two inches tall and approximately a hundred and seventy pounds......rather skinny actually.....but lean, like a runner. His body lay splayed out on its back but its hands or what was left of them, were held rigidly in the air over his chest as if he'd held something in them originally. What made the scene strange were the hands shouldn't be still hanging in the air like that since death would have caused the body to go limp before rigor mortise took over. So what could have caused his hands to hover like that?

That wasn't the only strange thing, the hands themselves, were severely burned......not in the way a person's would be if they had held something hot, that would leave severely burned skin at least. No, this guy's hands were completely skeletonized. No bit of flesh was left. Adding to the mystery was the fact only his hands had been affected and that was blatantly impossible.

"Okay, I can safely say I've never seen anything like that before," the coroner spoke right next to him making him jump slightly. "If he was burned that severely so should his wrists, arms, face......hell.....his whole front should have at least been singed."

Grissom had to agree. No way could this guy's hands suffer such horrific burns without collateral damage but there was no sign of burns anywhere else on his person....his clothes, though wrinkled.....were untouched by anything but the dirt that had dusted it from laying here in the street for hours. It was creepy.

He looked into the guy's face and shuddered inwardly. The expression was one of absolute terror.

"Wonder what the poor bastard had seen to leave an expression like that?" Robbins asked more to himself than Grissom.

Grissom wondered too. Shaking his head, he waited for Dr. Robbins to finish his brief examination.

"Odd! Except for his hands, I can find no other signs of trauma. There is something in his pants but I'll let you get it. Doesn't seem to be anything else on him. I'll have to wait until I get him back to the lab to see what else I can find to determine how he died. For now, I can only say he may have died of shock from the severity of the burns. I estimate time of death to be some eight hours ago since he's still in full rigor."

"Just before dawn," Grissom murmured.

"That'd be my guess."

"Can I touch the body now?"

"Certainly, I'm done for now," Dr. Robbins said getting up then signaling his assistant to bring the gurney forward.

Grissom searched the body efficiently, finding the object the doctor had felt, reaching into the right side of the pants and pulling it out. Frowning in puzzled confusion, he stared at the smooth stick of wood. It was only about fourteen inches long, made of some dark, well polished wood, and it was thick at one end moving to a much thinner point at the other end. It looked like some kind of wand, like those used by music conductors or magicians.

Shaking his head, he put the stick into an evidence bag then continued his search. After more than five minutes, all he found was a piece of paper with an address on it and nothing more.

Sighing, he rose to his feet and nodded to David to remove the body. The rest of his team, which consisted of Warrick and Nick, were working the dirty alley hunting for clues. The body had been found by a vagrant who normally slept in the alley.

Brass came up to Grissom's side and watched the body be rolled away. "Anything? Because so far I've found no witnesses beyond the one who found the body and he was passed out in a drunken stupor most of the night in his cardboard box home so he wasn't fit to see or hear anything until he woke this morning and fell over the guy."

"Only an address. 1481 Capresse Place. His body was either swept clean or he was the one making sure he couldn't be identified."

"Swell! Well the address is a start but it doesn't help when you don't know who your victim is," Brass grumbled.

Grissom could only shrug in commiseration. That was how things went sometimes. "Hopefully the body will tell us something," he murmured, his mind already going over the few things he seen so far.

Giving a disgusted sound through his nose, Brass left to do a deeper canvas of the area along with Warrick and Nick.

Some eight blocks from the body...............

The hotel was nice and had a wonderful view of the strip.....at least at night it did....right now it looked very pedestrian and plain to the visitor's mind. He turned away from the window where he'd been brooding for some time.

Being in America for the first time should have been an adventure, instead he had to forego the scenery for the grimmer reason he was here.

The door to the hotel room burst open and a young man with red hair strode in. He flopped onto the nearby couch and announced, "the constabulary have found the body."

The black haired young man grimaced. "We should have gotten rid of it but there were just too many witnesses," he growled in frustration.

"So? I don't understand why that's a problem. It's not like they're going to find out anything from it," the red headed male snorted derisively.

A female stepped in from the bedrooms and joined the conversation. "Just because most of our kind think muggles are stupid doesn't make it so, Ron!" She snapped. "They have methods that can ferret out the smallest clue if given half a chance. No.....Harry's right, this is a very bad thing and will only complicate our search even more."

"Ahh, Hermione, you're exaggerating," Ron snorted irritably. Though he found it cool to be in America, the reason they were there made him antsy and worried.

Harry Potter's emerald eyes snapped in angry annoyance at his best friend. "Hermione happens to be right, Ron. Muggles have found ways to solve mysteries in ways we could never dream of and all using only science as their tool. They might not find the answers all the time, but this particular group are well known for having a high rate of success solving crimes."

"Actually, mate, I did know that but what can we do about it? Lactimore is dead, there's no form of identification on his body and none of us are in any of the muggle data bases," Ron growled, surprising his friends with his unexpected knowledge of muggle police work much less about computers.

They gave him an astonished look.

"What? I do read you know and when I learned we were tracking Lactimore to here, I thought I should be prepared for possible encounters with the muggle police as well as the magical community," Ron said, shrugging his shoulders to indicate he thought nothing of it. "Anyway, what's more important this moment is the loss of our known person to have had the Dóiteáin in their possession. With him dead, we've no idea who has it now or where its gone."

"I know, believe me!" Harry growled in frustration as he began pacing their hotel room. The thought of the Dóiteáin in unscrupulous hands made him sick. What it could do to wizarding kind was devastating but what it could do to the world in general was horrifying. It would make World War Two and the war with Voldemort seem like simple altercations in comparison.

They had to find it and soon. Many lives had been lost in the chase to recover the Doiteain over the past twelve months and had taken them through many countries until they finally got close here in America. Unlike Europe, trying to track down the artifact was complicated by being in a country totally different both in magic and behavior than they were used to.

That thought on how different American magic was in comparison to theirs made him halt in his tracks as an old memory surfaced. His face brightened suddenly as a hopeful idea came to him.

"What is it, Harry?" Hermione asked, puzzled by his expression.

"I know of one person who could find it for us and I could kick myself for not having thought of him in the first place. We just might have gotten our hands on the artifact before it was stolen again."

"Huh? Who the heck would that be?" Ron asked, eyeing his friend skeptically.

"Why....Harry Dresden, of course!"

Chapter Text

"What?" Ron shouted in shock. "Harry, you're mental! You know no one outside the Ministry is supposed to be aware of the Dóiteáin existence, especially not an American wizard.!"

"Unfortunately, he's right Harry. It's forbidden!" Hermione chimed in, worry on her face.

Harry gave them both a flat, cold stare which made them flinch and stare at the floor like naughty children.

"It's because of that attitude Voldemort managed to do as much damage as he had," Harry intoned harshly. "If more outsiders had been aware of our war and were asked to come to our aid, we could have avoided years of suffering and death. NO! I refuse to play that game again," he spat, a well of magic filled the room for a moment.

His friends eyed him nervously. Harry had grown in power and possessed a firm resolve to right the wrongs perpetrated by the Ministry. And as his first act as an Auror, he found a way to oust Fudge from office. Rufus Scrimgeour, had been his replacement and was cleaning up the Ministry's dirty little secrets and attempting to bring order to the often chaotic bureaucracy.

This made Harry many enemies and was why many, even honest wizards, were afraid of him. Of course, hunting down and finding nearly all the death eaters and sending them to Azkaban or killing them outright, had increased that fear, not to mention a severe case of hero worshiping from others. That was why he chose many of the more dangerous and away missions from Britain just so he could escape all the adoration and hatred he endured in equal measure whenever he was home. As for his closest friends, they had learned to tread lightly around him when he was like this.

Harry huffed out a breath and calmed himself, drawing his magic back within himself. In a more sedate tone he went on, "Granted, there are many things that should be kept secret like the Dóiteáin but Dresden is a wizard and a warden on the White Council. Who better to be fully aware that there are some things that must never be spoken of. So no more discussion. We don't have the luxury of time to find that item again and who has taken it. We're going to go see him and that's final."

His two companions wisely shut up and waited for Harry to make the next move as he was the leader of this mission.

"Does everyone remember Dresden's place?" He asked preparing to apparate.

"Not exactly. It's been a while!" Ron admitted.

"I do!" Hermione said briskly.

"Hold my hand, Ron. I'll take us both." Ron came over reluctantly and took Harry's hand he held out.

In seconds they were in a place they hadn't seen in more than four years. Surprisingly, it looked the same, if a little more cluttered.

"Mr. Dresden?" Harry called out. There didn't seem to be a sign of the man anywhere.

Hidden in his work room, focusing on a map of Chicago, Harry Dresden was trying to locate a priceless painting a client was trying to get back from the thief that took it more than two weeks earlier. The tiny piece of parchment the painting had been done on was all he had to work with but it looked like he was going to get lucky as the spell began to move his swinging pointer toward a direction.

Suddenly, a voice called from outside his hideaway and broke his concentration. He swore angrily as the spell died. Working to control his anger, he hurried to see who had barged into his office without setting off the wards.

His hand with his protective rings was up and ready when he entered the room, but froze when he saw who was standing there. He gaped in shocked surprise at the sight of a familiar threesome, now older and dressed in normal clothing, standing in his living area. Lowering his defenses immediately, he grinned and asked, "Harry! Is that you?"

Harry Potter grinned back and gave the older wizard a roguish look. "Yeah, its me. All grown up now."

"Wow! Let me look at you! Well you've seemed to have filled out more or less, guess you'll always look like you're starving but at least you managed to gain a little height. You look good!"

"Thanks. Can't say the same about you though, mate. Seems life has been even harsher than when we saw each other last," Harry remarked, staring pointedly at Dresden's damaged hand.

"Yeah, well, you might say I ran into someone who didn't like me much. The feeling was mutual but at least I survived the encounter, the other didn't," Dresden shrugged it off. "So what brings you three here? Business or pleasure?"

"I sincerely wish it was for the chance to see you again, but..." Harry began, a grim look settling in his green eyes.

"Ah, I see. Okay, does this warrant closing my business for the duration?" Dresden asked, understanding immediately.

"Uhm, yeah, sorry. I know how tough it is for you to make a living. Naturally, I'll pay you for your assistance. When you're ready, I'll lay a silencing spell and warding over your office, if you don't mind?"

Dresden's eyes went cold and flat. "That bad, huh? Fine do what you have to." He said, giving permission then went to lock his door, pulling the blinds shut and putting out the closed sign before giving Harry a nod to proceed.

Harry nodded back then laid his protective spells on the room. The spells set the place glowing for a brief moment, revealing Dresden's impressive protective runes before fading once more.

Dresden felt the powerful magic slide across his skin and raise the hair on his neck. This kid had become very strong and skilled in his magic use. No surprise there.

"Nice work. You've learned a lot and seemed to finally grow into your powers, impressive. Now, shall we sit down and you tell me why you are here in America," Dresden said lightly, gesturing to the couch.

His guests sat down in a row on the couch while Dresden took a comfortable chair in front of them. Harry took a moment to compose himself while his friends sat silently and waited.

Dresden noted that and added it to his growing list of things he could see and feel had changed about Harry Potter. The kid was not only powerful but had a purpose he could see burning in those emerald eyes. Harry was now a cold and driven soul, a far cry from the lost and abused little boy he'd met four years ago. He was fairly certain, in a duel, Harry could fight him to a draw or possibly win...a sobering thought that was and one he would heed very carefully.

"We're Aurors now and we've been hunting an individual whose stolen something extremely dangerous from the Ministry," Harry explained.

Dresden grimaced. "That place needs a cleaning out when it can allow such things like that and Voldemort to happen," he observed sourly.

Harry gave him a cold smile as he said, "oh that's been taken care of. There's a new minister in place and he's doing his best to clean up the Ministry. However, this idiot managed to take this item before the new regime took over. We tracked him here and were closing in when someone else managed to kill our target and steal the object away."

By what Harry wasn't volunteering, Dresden had a nasty suspicion this 'object' was more than just the common variety dangerous.

"I'm guessing, by the way you're not saying what this thing is and the feeling of urgency I'm getting from you, it could be a sort of 'end of the world' type of dangerous?" He asked.

Harry gave him a wane smile, "yeah, you could call it that, certainly."

"Oh joy! And that's waltzing around in someone else's hands just about anywhere!"

"You got that spot on. We hoped you could manage to track it for us. I remember you saying that was your 'normal job' in the muggle world."

"Yeah, that's right. I look for things people have lost which was what I was doing for a client when you 'dropped' in."

Harry grimaced and ducked his head. "I'm sorry we spoiled a tracking spell..."

Dresden held up a hand to forestall the apology. "Don't worry, it's not that dire an item that it can't wait. So do you have some remnant of this thing you're missing that I can pin a tracking spell on."

All three gave him looks of dismay. Hermione was the one to respond, "I'm afraid we don't. You absolutely have to have that?"

"Well, either that or the one who stole it from the dead guy. Without that I can't possibly find whatever it is you're looking for."

Harry's face fell. "How are we going to get anything on the wizard that took it?" He asked, frustration creeping into his voice.

Dresden thought about it a moment then asked, "where's the dead wizard's body now?"

"Uh, in police custody," Ron told him.

The older wizard blinked at him in surprise. "Really? Well you've just gotten your first break," he said with a small smile.

The three stared at him in confusion.

"How does that help us?" Ron demanded.

"Those CSI guys are able to tease the tiniest clue from a body, it's clothing and anything else they found at the crime scene. All I need is that tiny clue that may have come from the killer to be able to locate him."

Harry groaned in annoyance. "But that was what we were afraid of them doing," he said, unhappily.

"Why?"

"I know about CSI and how they do their job. As a matter of fact the one in Las Vegas has a rep for breaking cases with a near ninety percent success rate. We were worried they would learn who our thief was and start poking their noses into some seriously wrong places," Harry explained.

Dresden sighed. "Well, that's good and bad news actually."

"Huh, how do you figure that...I mean I think I know what the bad news is but how can there be good news," Ron demanded.

"I'm not so sure your bad news is the same as mine," Dresden snorted. "Anyway, the good news is the reason I already mentioned, they will find a clue if there is one to be found and I can use it to find our killer. The bad news is, you can't just break into such a place."

"Why? We can just pop in and take what we need and pop out and if someone sees us, we just make them forget," Ron said bluntly.

Dresden shook his head. "This place is open for business 24/7. It is never unguarded and has security camera to boot. Our biggest problem is its also a big place with lots of labs. We can't just 'pop' in as you suggest because we have no idea where to look."

"Well just how are we to get this clue they might have found," Ron demanded, getting thoroughly frustrated by Dresden's answers.

"There's really no option but to take the head of the section into our confidence."

"What? We can't do that. Even though I sometimes find hiding our kind to be stupid and pointless, I have to go with the fact muggles just can't seem to handle knowing magic really exists. It's a kettle of worms I'd rather not deal with...thank you very much," Harry objected.

"Harry, this item you're missing could end our world. This takes priority over the fact there is a whole world hidden from the mortal one. I didn't say we would tell everyone, only the lab supervisor. We need this information and simply asking him is really the best way I've found to deal with things like this. There really is no other way to do it. Besides, after we've gotten what we need you can make him or her forget they ever saw us. However, there is one  difficulty in doing that as well."

Feeling truly put upon now, Harry asked, "...and what would that be?"

"Well I don't know about your magic but mine makes anything electronic go haywire. I can only be in the vicinity of a lab like that for about ten minutes max before everything goes bonkers or blows up. That would grab a whole lot of people's unwanted attention and bring security down on us when the security camera goes down," Dresden said, dryly.

"Oh, that's just lovely. So how do you plan on helping us if you being with us can give us away," Ron groused.

"By speaking with the head of the lab outside the building first," Dresden said, simply.

Harry stared at him as if he'd lost his mind. "How do we convince this person we're not crazy and need to speak with him outside his building, no less?"

"Easy, by telling him we have some information on their case but will only talk to him privately. I've done it before...works like a charm," Dresden said, smiling.

The three stared at each other for a long moment then Hermione sighed, saying the inevitable.

"Well, we really don't have any other options..."

"I agree. Okay, Dresden we'll do it your way," Harry said, decisively.

"Great, okay then let me contact my friend Murphy first then we'll be on our way," Dresden said, briskly, heading for his phone. He quickly got a hold of his friend and some time employer.

"Hey Murph, I have to leave town for a bit. Have a job tracking down a lost painting. Just thought I'd let you know."

"Well, thanks for that. I'm pleased to say I have nothing earth shattering going on at the moment. Take care and return safely," Sgt Murphy said, in a more cheerful tone then he'd normally heard from her.

"Glad things are quiet. You deserve a break. Well, I'll speak at you again when I return!" He said warmly then hung up.

He left his guests and went to his lab for a few things he thought he might need. Returning to the living room, he grabbed his wand and staff, locked up his office with a spell, then, pulled on his special coat. Taking a stance before them, he smiled and said, "ready when you are."

Harry grinned, took Dresden's hand in his and apparated them back to their hotel room in Las Vegas.

Author's Note: Had to redo this as I realized I made Harry not know about CSI when I already had him knowledgeable in the first chapter. Surprised no one caught that. Anyway, this redo allows me to segue into chapter 3 more easily.

 

 

Chapter Text

'Well, that wasn't half bad,' Dresden thought, still a bit weirded out by the way these wizards traveled. 'Though, I'd take apparating to port key any day. Really wish we could move around that way, would have gotten me out some really tough jams recently,' he mused.

"You alright, Dresden?" Harry asked, solicitously, noting the American wizard seemed still a bit out of it at the moment.

"Hmm, oh sure, just wool gathering while my mind caught up with my stomach," Dresden said inanely.

Harry smiled briefly. "Okay, we're in our hotel room. Do we try and get the lab supervisor out now or..."

Dresden shook his head both to say no and to clear his still fuzzy head. "Far too busy during the day...night time is a lighter staff and hopefully easier to draw the person we need out. However, I need to do a recon so I can get a name and leave a message which will make our job easier later tonight.

"Good idea, except you just told us you couldn't go in because you would make all the modern stuff go wonky," Ron reminded him.

"And you'd be right, Ron. However, I don't intend being there long enough for that to happen. Trust me, I've done this a lot. You three sit tight while I run over there now. I'll be right back and we'll talk about what's been happening with you since I saw you last."

Harry frowned at being left behind to wait but bowed to Dresden's experience in these things. "Fine, we'll be waiting."

Dresden nodded and left the suite, pausing to get the room number for his return. Going downstairs, he learned Harry and company had chosen a Ramada Inn, eschewing the more expensive hotels, which Harry could certainly afford, for more anonymity. Their room was on the fourth floor.

Pausing in the lobby, he found a phone booth and searched a ratty looking phone book. After paging through the book for some five minutes, he finally located the address for the Las Vegas Police Department. Using the paper and pen provided nearby, he quickly wrote the information down, shut the book and strode across the lobby for the main entrance doors.

He had to stand on the curb only a few minutes before a cab appeared. After letting off its passengers and luggage, Dresden slid inside and gave the driver the address. Soon he was whizzing through the heavy traffic of Las Vegas.

He stared around at the wild looking buildings. He'd not been here before but had seen pictures of it. 'Should be a hoot at night,' he thought, staring at the fountains, elaborate fronts, and huge billboards of some of the major attractions of the place.

They turned off the strip for a more sedate area with office buildings and a line of palm trees gracing the thoroughfare before the taxi finally coasted to a stop before an impressive and new looking building. He paid the driver, got the number of the cab company so he could call for one when he was done then got out.

He stood still looking around for a moment. The building filled a city block. He could see at one end was the compound where the cop cars parked. There was a lot of foot traffic going in and out of the place. Taking a cleansing breath he walked calmly toward the front entryway.

Inside was quiet chaos like most police centers. Ignoring the front desk that was congested with prisoners, visitors, and complainants, Dresden went to a directory board and studied it a moment. He found where CSI was located and headed in that direction. He passed many security cameras and checkpoints but wasn't stopped.

Finally, he reached the outer sanctuary of the labs and was forced to stop. A receptionist eyed him inquiringly.

"Uh...hello...I have some information I want to pass on but I'd rather give it the CSI supervisor of the night shift. Can I get his name and would you leave a message for him for me?" He asked with his best smile. He knew he didn't present a very inviting image but there was nothing he could do about that.

Eyeing him a moment, the woman said, "I could get you someone to speak to right now, sir. I'm sure they can be just as helpful to you."

Dresden shook his head. "No thank you. There's...uhm...a certain amount of security involved with this case...sensitive and need to know kind of thing...the night shift dealt with it and is more familiar than the day shift."

She kept her polite face on but he could see she was annoyed with him. "Very well sir. The night shift supervisor is Dr. Grissom. What is the message you'd like to give him?" She pulled out a notepad.

"If you'd be so kind as to lend me some paper with an envelope, I'd be truly grateful," Dresden said, smiling ingratiatingly.

Letting go a tiny sigh, the woman pulled a drawer open, retrieved an envelope and a sheet of paper, even lending him a pen and indicating a table nearby where he could write his note. Nodding his thanks, Dresden took his stationary away to the table and quickly wrote a note. He stuffed it inside the envelope and licked the seal to close it then wrote 'Dr. Grissom - Urgent' on the outside. Walking back, he handed the pen and envelope to the woman.

"Thank you very much."

"You're welcome, sir."

Turning away, Dresden retraced his steps. Pausing in the lobby once more to use a public pay phone, he made a call to the cab company then went back outside to wait. 'Well that was easy,' he thought with a sigh of relief.

Returning to the hotel, he went back up to Harry's room and knocked on the door. Hermione was the one to let him in.

"Well that didn't take long," Ron commented from his lounging position in a stuffed chair as he watched TV with intense fascination only broken by Dresden's arrival. "This thing is really fantastic. I don't think I'll ever get over how much muggles have accomplished while we muck around in the dark ages."

Hermione could only shake her head and smile at Ron's utter amazement at something so simple as TV.

"Yes, well, I did say it wouldn't take long. Now all we have to do is wait until we get a call from a Dr. Grissom. The night supervisor at CSI."

Harry came out of the bathroom at that last statement by Harry. "I'm still not sure how you plan on getting the cooperation of this man."

"I was thinking that would be something you would be able to do more than me. I did my part already...your turn."

Snorting, Harry shook his head and smiled. "Git!" He said without heat. Dresden just smiled and flopped down on the couch.

"So, can you fill me in on this guy you've been chasing?" Dresden asked, getting comfortable.

Sighing, Harry dropped down on the couch as Hermione did the same in another chair across from Ron who had turned off the TV for the moment.

"Lactimore was one of Voldemort's spies. He was just below Snape in the hierarchy. I was surprised to see he'd managed to survive and keep under the radar when the Death Eaters were being hunted. Anyway, the man is quite cunning but not a zealot. From what I'd been able to gather, he thought Voldemort was the key to making himself a wealthy man as he came from a middle class background. He didn't care about Voldemort's politics, it was just a job as any other and one he was very good at. Before being recruited, he was a thief, but an uncommonly good one."

"Obviously, since he was able to sneak in right under the noses of the Unspeakables and steal that damn item," Ron grumbled.

"That was most likely why Voldemort wanted him. I suspect he was ordered to get the item by Voldemort before he was killed," Harry continued.

"But his leader was dead. Why would he go to so much trouble to get whatever it is now?" Dresden interrupted him.

Harry shrugged. "That is what we don't know. All those connected with it are dead so there's no one to ask. It was thought he might have been following the orders of those that wanted to carry on Voldemort's plans or that he might have wanted it to sell to any wealthy Death Eater or sympathizers that wanted it for their own purposes. We just don't know. I doubt it much matters now, though. Finding it is far more important."

"But knowing the reason it was stolen could lead us to who might have wanted it. Finding that person is very important so finding out why this guy stole the artifact whether it was for himself or someone else is how we find who might have it now," Dresden said, grimly.

"Blimey! We never thought of that," Ron hissed, annoyed with himself.

"That's why it helps to discuss these things. So we now need to discover if this guy had any accomplices, if there was anyone in the Department of Mysteries involved that might have helped him steal this thing, and who might have a lot to gain by owning it," Dresden explained.

Harry frowned unhappily. Dresden was right, though they'd interviewed everyone, they hadn't asked the right questions. He needed to speak with Scrimgeour immediately and have him interrogate everyone having anything to do with the security, management, or had knowledge of the artifact. As for them, they would have to dig a little deeper into Lactimore's past, habits, friends (if any), enemies, associates, and who was his handler. Far too many questions, some of which they had checked but too many more they'd failed to ask.

"Don't beat yourself up there, Harry. You guys are new at this sort of thing...only time and experience will make you better detectives," Dresden comforted Harry. He could see the anger and guilt in the man's eyes and he didn't want that to get into the way of this investigation.

"So, okay...there's lot we have to find out. I'm going to go see Scrimgeour and have him recheck all those we'd question before, then I guess its off to the Vegas CSI to see if we can convince a scientist that we aren't bonkers," Harry sighed, smiling grimly.

"Good idea. It's almost time to do that too," Hermione agreed.

"Alright, I'll hurry and be back within thirty minutes," Harry said, briskly then apparated away.

"Well I guess we'll have to backtrack Lactimore's trail to see what we might have missed along the way," Hermione said to the other two once Harry was gone.

"Unfortunately, yes but first we'll see if we'll get lucky with anything CSI found. If it doesn't lead us to the new owner then what I mentioned will have to be done as the only other option of finding this person," Dresden sighed.

"I just hope it isn't too late by the time we sift through all that before the fool tries to use that artifact," Ron said, gloomily.

No one wanted to even contemplate that happening.

A/N: I hated how this sounded the first time around so I rewrote more than half of it.

Chapter Text


Night shift was busy as ever when Dr. Gil Grissom arrived for duty. Thankfully, no new bodies had shown up during the day as the morgue already had its full complement at the moment. Placing his briefcase on the floor behind his desk, he checked the blotter for notes left by the day shift supervisor, removing the envelope clipped there and addressed to him, with a frown.

He opened it and read the contents, his frown deepening. Catherine Willows, his second-in-command, poked her head in his open doorway.

"Gil, want some coffee?"

He looked up at her, not actually registering the coffee question but the note in his hand. "What do you make of this? It was left for me this morning." He handed the letter over to her as he studied the envelope but he could see it was from their offices and was unremarkable except for the rather stylized way his name had been written. He would have it analyzed as it was linked to the case, taking out an evidence bag from a desk drawer and placing the envelop within it and grabbing a second one for the letter.

Surprised by the request, Catherine took the letter and read it through. Puzzled she handed it back. "We have an informant who thinks they know something about our mystery body from this morning, eh? But why not speak to someone on the day shift...why an outside meet with you?" She asked, thinking aloud.

"That is the mystery question, isn't it?" Grissom muttered, thoughtfully. "Guess we'll find out by seven tonight."

"Want company?"

"No, it said come alone but the meet is in the parking lot with security cameras all around so I doubt the person means me harm."

"Probably. Maybe just uncomfortable in a police station...but I'd feel better if maybe Brass was watching from the door."

Grissom eyed her thoughtfully a moment. "A wise precaution. I'll give him a heads up."

"Good, now about the coffee..."

"Yes, thank you." He smiled at her then turned his attention to the rest of the work waiting for him on his desk.

Sometime later, he was skimming through the reports left by the day shift, sipping the coffee Catherine had left. He noted Brass hadn't got anything good from the address Grissom had found in the deceased's pocket and the day shift hadn't had any luck identifying the man. He'd turned over the envelope and letter to Greg for DNA analysis.

Though he had a feeling the prints would give them nothing, it idn't hurt to check to see if they'd been picked up by the law before. It would give them a starting point at least.

According to Brass' report they were going to need every clue they could find on this case. The man's prints didn't bring up anything on him nor did the odd stick he was carrying, which, though possessing several different prints, also didn't come up with an identity to anyone who had held it. Grissom reread Brass' report and the one done by the day shift.

The victim's last known address had been a medium priced motel in a quieter section of the strip. What was strange was the utter lack of any kind of personal belongings...not even a toothbrush or suitcase.

Despite multiple fingerprints, none but one came up in CODUS and that one belonged to a known criminal. A further check on the individual showed he was presently in jail on an unrelated charge and had been there for a week, so couldn't be the killer. The rest of the prints had been cleared. A dead end.

Sighing, he dropped the file and got to his feet. Perhaps the morgue had something by now... time to see Doc Robbins. He stepped out of his office and headed for the elevator. Reaching to press the button, he halted when the doors of the car opened to reveal Jim Brass, the Captain of the Homicide Squad.

"Going my way?" The man asked, giving Grissom a grim smile.

Grissom raised an eyebrow as he stepped forward into the car. "Only if you're going to the morgue?"

"Well, yes but it was my second stop...you were my first. You see my report?"

"Yes, our mystery man of the morning. Hope Al has something for us as we're coming up dry on anything else."

Brass grimaced. He hated this type of homicide. They were the ones that went cold very quickly and this was weirder than most.

The elevator dinged and the doors opened to a very quiet and cold floor. The two pushed through the morgue doors. Robbin's assistant was working on a body closest to the doors while the doctor himself was further back working on their DB of the morning.

Robbins was examining the man's open chest cavity when they approached. He glanced up at them, a bloody scalpel in his right hand.

"Sorry, gentleman but I have nothing new to report. The day shift left him for me per my request as I wanted first crack at this unusual case. However, except for the hands, this body is not talking to me. There are no signs of any trauma anywhere on the external exam and the internal is coming up with a big fat negative. I've sent the tox off but it will be days before we get that back. This is a weird one alright.

"So, if the tox screen comes back negative you've only got the state of his hands as a cause of death?" Grissom asked.

Robbins grimaced. I just can't see how his hands could have killed him. Sure they were painful but it wouldn't have caused instant death...a lingering one by infection most likely but not instant the way this appears to have happened."

Brass looked at those strange hands that still stood grotesquely in the air as if held up by wire. Rigor mortis had already worn off and the rest of the body was limp and flaccid but not those arms.

Grissom peered closer at the hands too. Shaking his head, he frowned. "There is no way they should still be in the air like that," he muttered more to himself then the two standing near.

"You got that right but when I try to move them they just crumble to pieces which is what happened to his two fingers there," Robbins grunted, indicating the crumbled bits of bone laying on the tray nearby.

"Okay, enough of the creep zone. Where do we go from here?" Brass asked turning away from the body.

"Thanks Al," Grissom murmured, thinking hard as he turned away.

"Sure," Robbins sighed, returning to his work.

Grissom and Brass returned to the elevator each lost in their own morbid thoughts. As Grissom pushed the button to call for a car, he eyed Brass. "All is not completely lost. I received a letter from someone who says they know what went on with our John Doe but wishes to speak with me outside the building in the parking lot alone about it."

Brass straightened, staring at Gill in surprise. The elevator arrived and they entered. "The parking lot? With all the cameras around? I don't like the sound of that but I can't figure out why, after all, it should be a perfect setup with all that security."

"Which may be why he or she chose it...perhaps showing they mean no harm and don't forget there are cops going in and out all the time."

"I still don't like it despite all that," Brass admitted, frowning.

"Well, Catherine doesn't either so I wondered if you'd bird dog me from the door where you can see me but not spook our contact off?"

Brass nodded. "When's the meet?"

Grissom raised his arm to look at his watch. "Seven, in about an hour."

"I'll be there. See you later," Brass said, leaving the elevator when it arrived on the main floor again.

"See you then," Grissom muttered to the officer's retreating back.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Harry looked grim when he apparated into the room from his mission to see Scrimgeour.

"By your expression things didn't go too well," Dresden ventured to guess. He and the others were having dinner, a plate waited for Harry on the side board where the food was laid out.

"Not exactly. Scrimgeour obviously wasn't happy to learn our thief is dead and someone else has the artifact nor the fact we didn't cover more during questioning of the death eaters. He promised to get answers to those questions you mentioned, immediately. So we wait on that. Glad you ordered dinner...I'm starving." Harry grabbed his plate and loaded it up. He knew he'd need the energy boost for what was coming next.

"Thought it better to eat now and not wait until later, in hopes that this Dr. Grissom will have a good lead for us," Hermione said, taking a bite of her chicken salad.

"The food here is fantastic and very different than I'm used to." Ron was eating some kind of meat dish with pasta Harry didn't recognize.

He looked over the choices: sandwiches, hot dishes, salads and cold drinks. He chose what Ron was eating, a small salad, and a coke (which he was becoming positively addicted to).

Dresden was eating what appeared to be a meat sandwich of some kind and drinking coke as well.

"Any suggestions on how I should approach this interrogation of the scientist?" Harry asked, sitting next to Dresden on the couch.

The older wizard looked thoughtful as he finished his sandwich and washed it down with most of his drink. Wiping his mouth, he gave Harry a long stare than said, "As an Auror, I'm sure you've been trained to assess a person at a glance. That's what you'll have to do here. Dr. Grissom's behavior will let you know how to proceed. Just remember, he's a scientist. That means he deals in real things and magic comes under the heading of make believe to someone like him. You'll have a hard time convincing him. Just waving your wand and doing a parlor trick isn't going to cut it as he'll be the biggest skeptic there and have an explanation for nearly everything you try."

"I say we just apparate the bugger to our hotel room. That will convince him faster and keep any witnesses from overhearing anything we say or do," Ron said, bluntly.

Dresden stared at the red head in surprise. "Well, its about time you used that head of yours. Glad to see maturity has landed at last in you," he snorted.

Ron blushed redly, only a little miffed by the wizard's comment. "Yeah, well, it just takes me a bit longer to learn is all."

"At least you have learned to use that shrewd brain for solving problems and left the hormones behind. Uh...all except for one thing that I stupidly forgot..." Dresden said, slapping his forehead in disgust.

"What might that be?" Ron asked confused.

"I forgot that surveillance cameras will be focused on the parking lot too." A look of dismay was exchanged.

"Then we'll just have to use a smoke screen," Harry decided, unhappily. "I hadn't realized just how paranoid muggles could be. Of course, they'd have cameras outside as well so taking the doctor away under the cover of a smoke screen seems our only option."

"Except for causing the cops to go crazy trying to find him when he and us poof out of sight," Dresden warned. "They'll have our images for that split second we're there and that's enough to start a manhunt."

"Dammit! That's very true and it would make trouble for the American Ministry of Magic as well," Harry groaned.

"The White Council wouldn't be too happy either but are less likely to interfere and are more likely to punish me for allowing you to do something like that on their turf," Dresden added, grimly.

"Great! So how will we convince this person to believe us and give us what we need? It isn't like we got the luxury of time here," Ron growled in frustration.

There was silence for a long moment. Then Harry sighed. "Seems I'll just have to be very convincing."

Dresden clapped him on the back. "Don't sell yourself short kid. You're real good at convincing people."

Harry rolled his eyes but smiled wanly at the older man.

Getting to his feet, Dresden took his plate to the sideboard and set it down. "If you're finished eating, I think we need to be going."

There was noises of agreement as everyone rose to their feet. Hermione cleaned up the table with a quick housecleaning spell then they trooped out of the room to take a taxi to the Las Vegas Police Department.

Chapter Text


Greg Sanders hunched over his microscope for more than an hour now trying to identify the John Doe #8 with the creepy hands in the air. The epithelials from the man's body and those found at the crime scene, so far, weren't giving up their secrets. He sighed and straightened up. Rubbing his eyes, he wrote down his findings but allowed his computer to continue searching. It was possible they might never find out who this guy was but it was too early to throw in the towel just yet.

That left hoping his clothing might give them a clue where to start looking for John Doe's point of origin and that task had been left to Nick Stokes.

With careful attention to detail, the dark haired, well built, young man in a different lab, searched every inch of the dead man's clothing, collecting bits of hair, skin flakes, body fluids, dirt, grass, and other debris he could find. Catherine Willows was beside him searching the data base about the origin of the man's clothing.

"Well that's interesting..." Catherine murmured after an hour searching dozens of websites.

"What is?" Nick asked, distractedly.

"This suit was made by a company that hasn't existed since the 1800's."

Frowning, Nick turned his head to stare at her. "Our John Doe likes vintage clothing?"

"I don't know. I need to do a swatch exam under the microscope to see how old the clothing really is," she said thoughtfully.

"Good idea. I'm finished with the jacket..."

"Thanks." She took the suit coat from him and went to another workstation.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Grissom was in a different lab working on the odd stick he'd found. It was 15 inches exactly and made of polished ebony and oak. The ebony part was thick, obviously where one held it, ending in a raised ring of lighter wood that separated it from the oak section that went from wide to very narrow at the point.

It was a wand but what kind, Grissom had no idea. He did know it wasn't a conductor's baton, those were lightweight and very thin. And it definitely wasn't a magician's wand which had tricks installed within them and were slim and black (usually), with white tips at either end.

No, the only thing it did resemble was what was known in the trade as a wizard's wand. Those used in all of those live action role playing games known as LARPing, very popular lately though he wasn't certain if there was one located in Las Vegas. He made a note to check that later.

Returning to his study of the wand he put it under the microscope but could see nothing unusual however, he did get some fingerprints off it. He took minute scrapings of the two sections of wood but examination under the microscope only revealed it was indeed real wood. The polish, however, might yield a clue so he prepared a scraping of that for a deeper scan with an electron microscope.

His work was interrupted by the appearance of Captain Jim Brass who came in behind Grissom and cleared his throat to get the man's attention.

"Sorry, but you did ask me to accompany you for that meeting in the parking lot which is in a few minutes."

Grissom blinked in surprise that he hadn't noticed the time. "Oh, yes...thank you." He carefully placed his evidence in a baggy, sealed it, wrote the date and time on it then added his signature before locking it in the evidence locker behind him. Pulling off his gloves, he tossed them in the can near the door. He paused a moment, wondering if he should remove his lab coat then decided he should and took it off, hanging it on a hook near the door then grabbing his jacket and pulling it on.

"Ready when you are," he said, nodding for Brass to precede him out the lab door.

As they walked down the hall to the elevator, Brass asked, "Find out anything more on our John Doe?"

Grissom shook his head. "Nothing so far but we've only just begun processing all the items taken from the body and you know that takes time."

"Yeah, but you guys are so fast, I'd thought I just check," Brass said, facetiously. Grissom's team was fast but 24 hours was simply too quick to have anything and he knew it. "I hate these weird cases. Too often they end up remaining unsolved."

The other man shrugged. "When it's obvious the goal cannot be reached, don't adjust the goal, adjust the action steps," he said, sagely.

"More quotes? Who said that little gem?" Brass asked, a sarcastic tone in his voice. He was well used to Gil dropping philosophical quotes all the time.

"Confucius." The doctor smirked.

Brass rolled his eyes.

Reaching the main floor, they stepped out and walked the quiet corridor that led to the visitors area in the front lobby. As they pushed through the security doors into the reception area, they noted how very quiet and nearly empty of visitors it was. That was normal for the night shift.

They gave the receptionist and guards brief head nods as they passed by heading for the entrance doors. However, neither man pushed the door open. They split up to take a stance before the long, narrow windows that framed the entranceway and scanned the outside area first before exposing themselves to any kind of danger that might be lurking about.

The parking lot across from the entrance was quiet, traffic on the street between them and the lot was minimal. The sidewalk was empty too. Seeing nothing dangerous or suspicious, the pair pushed their way out the twin doors and stood on the sidewalk, looking around alertly.

"Did they say where in the parking lot?" Brass asked, sharp eyes searching the area.

"No, but I suspect that arriving cab might be who we're waiting for..." Grissom said quietly, nodding his chin toward a yellow cab just now pulling up to the curb by the end of the parking lot sidewalk across and at an angle from them.

After a moment, three young people and one older guy climbed out. The taxi remained waiting while the group moved a little ways down the sidewalk then halted, not crossing the street at all. They huddled together and looked around then spotted the pair standing near the doors of the building. They stared purposefully at the pair in front of the building. No one said or did anything while the air filled with a sense of waiting expectancy.

Brass muttered, "I think you may be right. I'll wait here and watch your back while you go make friends."

"Thanks," Grissom murmured, sardonically. He kept his hands loose at his sides and walked to the edge of the sidewalk, pausing to wait for a gap in traffic so he could cross. While watching the traffic, he also studied the group waiting for him.

The older guy was very tall, about 6'7" and leanly built, possibly around his late 40's. His face was shadowed by his broad brim felt hat though Gil could see some dark hair peeking out from under it. His clothing was some sort of grunge style ... black t-shirt with some design on it, worn black jeans, and a pair of old looking hiking boots. Over all this, he wore a long, black leather, duster that flapped a bit in the light evening breeze. In his right hand was a long staff and the street light above them caught the glimmer of something metallic on his wrist.

A hole in traffic appeared and Grissom walked swiftly across still scanning the visitors as he approached. His gaze shifted to the younger male standing beside the older one. He saw a handsome fellow around his early 20's with messy black hair, old fashioned black rimmed glasses and around 5'7". The guy's clothing, however, gave Grissom pause. It was an old fashioned, casual suit with top coat of a darker color, very much like the one the victim had worn. His feet were shod in old fashioned, black patents.

Next to him was a second male also in his 20's, with flaming red hair that matched his pale, freckled face. He was about 6', broad through the shoulders, and very muscular. His outfit too, looked sort of vintage, though he couldn't be certain from this distance. It was a soft gray in color, paired with a rather old fashioned-style, dress, white shirt. Brown lace up shoes covered his feet.

That made Grissom pause a few feet away in confusion. He glanced again at the older man then back to the young males. Though the clothing wasn't that commonly worn, the older man's outfit was definitely modern, but the younger males...what was with the vintage wear? A new fad? Shaking his head mentally, he continued forward until he was at least ten feet from the four. While they stared at him, he took the opportunity to scan the only female in the group.

The young woman was also in her 20's, 5' 7" with a trim built and frizzy brown hair that went a little past her shoulders. Her beautiful face was troubled which wasn't surprising but what was concerning to Grissom was she wore modern attire...a simple, poplin shirt-dress of green with a black braided belt, a white cardigan over this, sensible brown shoes and a plain colored string bag in her hand. Why not the vintage wear of her companions or was that just a male thing? He felt certain, somehow, that she fit with the two boys but not with the older male so she should be wearing the same type of clothing but she didn't. Why was that?

Too many questions and if he continued to stare at them like a fool, he wouldn't get any answers. He didn't miss how tense they all were and, though he didn't see any weapons, unless you counted the older guy's staff and he did, that didn't mean the three youngsters weren't armed which didn't make him feel all that secure standing out here in the open like this.

"I'm Dr. Gil Grissom. Are you here to see me?" He asked politely, making the first move.

The black haired youth seemed relieved and was the first to speak ... another surprise as Grissom fully expected the older man to be the speaker.

"Thank you for coming out here to speak with us, Dr. Grissom and I'm sorry about all the cloak and dagger stuff. What we have to say to you will be hard for you to believe but I swear to you all of it is true," the young man said, earnestly, a thick British accent reaching Gil's ears and making him blink.

"And this has to do with the case we're here to talk about?"

"Yes sir."

"I'm listening."

Appearing to gather his courage, the young man launched into a tale that was flatly impossible. Grissom frowned. "Real magic is scientifically impossible and I don't appreciate having my valuable time wasted on such nonsense," he said bluntly. The red headed male scowled at that, face flushing in anger as he began to move forward threateningly but halted himself and looked down at his feet, obviously trying to control his temper.

Hit a nerve apparently, Grissom thought, keeping a wary eye on the male.

The others didn't make any threatening moves. The one who had spoken sighed and looked rather distressed as he glanced over at the older man with a beseeching look. The hard-eyed man seemed to be conflicted about something so didn't answer that look immediately.

However, the female seemed to be annoyed by their inability to get what they wanted across so took it upon herself to plead their case. "There are things in this world that can't be explained by science, Dr. Grissom. They have existed since the beginning of man and prefer to remain apart for their continued survival and they are significantly fewer in number than non-magical people. Unfortunately, to prove to you that what we're saying is true, we must take you somewhere private and show you. No one else must see or know what we're about to reveal to you as that is against our laws. It's bad enough we must tell you at all but you're our only hope of finding who stole what the dead man had." She held her hands out to him as she plead her case.

Grissom didn't know what to make of her story but her urgency came through loud and clear and with the same British accent as the young man. However, what she asked wasn't going to be allowed. No way would Brass let him go with these people on their say so. Even he wasn't sure of his safety right this moment.

He eyed them all and felt out of his depth here. These people seemed honestly concerned and worried about what they were talking about and that magic was very real to them. They didn't seem to be crazy but he'd met some unhinged people that seemed totally logical within their own frame of reference. The fact it didn't jive with the rest of the world didn't trouble them at all.

Sighing, he didn't know what he should do now.

"We're not crazy," the older man spoke up, finally. His accent was clearly American which made this whole business even more puzzling. "The magical world prefers to stay separate exactly for the reason you think we're crazy. If your kind were shown that we truly existed, I wouldn't give a fig for our staying alive very long. Non magical people have a very hard time accepting what they can't accept or believe so they kill it, lock it up, or experiment on it. But trust me, we do exist. And we wouldn't be trying so hard to make you believe if it didn't mean the death of all mankind if we don't find what the victim stole. The danger is that real and that big," the man said in a flat, cold tone.

His eyes were a bit disturbing making Grissom look away every time their eyes met. He wasn't afraid but something about the man wasn't right though he was beginning to believe he wasn't crazy. As a matter of fact, he was impressed by the grim seriousness of these people. They truly believed what they were saying. However, that didn't mean he would or could believe in magic.

The man interrupted Grissom's thoughts by introducing the youngsters and himself. "To show good faith, I will give you our names and who we are. I am Harry Dresden, an American Wizard and a Warden of the White Council...that means my duties are similar to a cops. The young man here..." He gestured to the black haired youth, "...is Harry Potter, the red head is Ron Weasley and that is Hermione Granger. They are British wizards and Aurors which is a type of police for their community. So you see we're in the same business but we deal with magical bad guys."

"So you can appreciate my problem with believing what you're telling me. Also, what's to stop me from doing background checks on you all first before going with you?" Grissom asked, cautiously.

In a quiet, non-threatening tone, Dresden said, "Wouldn't help you. Though, you could find me in the system, you'd also see I work with the Chicago Police sometimes. However, these three don't exist in the non-magical world's data bases so it would be a waste of your time and ours. Besides, we have a spell that will render you unable to speak or write down what you've just heard so you can't simply type it into a computer and search anyway. The spell, however, will allow you to retain everything you learn from us. And there is no choice about allowing the spell to be used as it if for your safety and ours. Now please, decide! We are short on time and object is possibly moving further away as we speak. Believe me, if whoever has it decides to use it, the world will be destroyed and this discussion will be moot."

Okay, now that sounded like a threat even though Dresden remained unfailingly polite the whole time they were talking but Grissom didn't forget this was a dangerous man. He oozed it through his pores. And it didn't help that something about all of these people made the hair on his neck stand up. He didn't believe in the supernatural but he did know the human body had unconscious defenses that reacted to danger and those were already activated and giving him plenty of warning.

So he decided to try a different tactic. Nodding his head toward the building, he said, "The man standing there watching me is Captain Brass and he won't allow me to just take off. I'm still not certain I believe you and I definitely don't like the idea of something being done to me but neither of us will get any answers to our questions if I don't make the first move so I suggest you allow me to speak with him first before I come to any firm decision. He may not allow me to leave with you at all."

Dresden stared over at the short but well built male watching them and nodded. "He's a friend, too...yes?"

How did he know that? Grissom wondered, ill at ease. "Yes, he is."

"He will give you hell, just like a certain police detective I know, but if he trusts your judgement, he'll allow you to go as long as you contact him frequently. We can allow that so he won't worry unnecessarily."

Grissom blinked at that. It was almost as if the guy had read his mind. Okay, enough of that. "You're right that would make it easier. I'll go speak with him. Be right back." Carefully, he turned to face the street, saw it was safe to cross and did so. His steps quickened when he realized he was safely on the other side.

Brass walked forward to meet him. "So?"

"They want me to go with them..."

"Hell no!"

"Yeah, that's sort of how I feel too, however, we really can't throw away our chance to solve this case quickly. Surprisingly, the older guy understands how you feel and advised me to tell you that they will allow me to stay in constant contact with you by phone just to prove they mean me no harm. Apparently, he is some form of police but not one we are familiar with. However, he has ties with the normal police but that's all I'm allowed to tell you." Grissom sighed. "Jim, they need my help and though I find what they said exceedingly strange and hard to believe, I can't in good conscious ignore the fact they feel what they have to show and tell me is vitally important. Unfortunately, as part of the deal, I can't tell you anything about what they said."

"I don't like it!" Brass was firm and blunt.

"I know and I don't blame you, I don't like it either but I don't think we have a choice..."

"Of course we do, especially if these guys turn out to be the ones that killed the victim!" Brass cut him off stridently. None of this sat well with him.

"I don't believe they are, Jim. But they are mixed up in all this and know what is going on which we don't. They say they didn't kill him but do have an idea who did and why. The dead man had something in his possession that was worth killing over and this group needs to get it back."

Brass frowned. "What exactly?"

"I can't say."

The Captain rolled his eyes. "I don't like this!

"You said that."

"Don't be smart. You going to do this anyway?"

"Honestly? I'd much rather not, but...I don't know...something about this makes me afraid but at the same time, I feel if I don't do this something much worse may happen and a whole lot of people may suffer. So despite my reservations, I'm going to do this," Grissom said with obvious reluctance.

"That sounds ominous. Perhaps, I should go with you..." Brass began but stopped at Gil's head shake.

"No, they have strict security rules and they are breaking some already by telling me what they have so they won't be allowing anymore breaches to those rules by adding one more."

"This is crazy ... ," Brass paused and stared at Gil sternly then sighed in defeat at the look of determination on his friend's face. "They did say you could stay in contact with me?"

The doctor nodded. "But my phone is on my desk..."

"I'll go get it. Anything else you need?"

"Check with Catherine to see if she's found out anything new. Thanks, Jim."

"Don't thank me. I don't like that you're going off alone but it is what it is. Be right back," Brass said flatly then turned and headed back inside.

Grissom stood quietly, turning a bit to stare over at the four to see what they were doing. They were watching him and talking quietly among themselves but none were making a move toward him which was a good sign.

It took Brass some fifteen minutes to return. He handed Grissom his phone. "Sorry it took so long ... had to find Catherine. She had nothing new to report though she did say the garments the dead guy was wearing was vintage ... like before the 1800's. Don't know if that helps you or not."

"It just might. Thanks. I'd better be going. I'll call you as soon as we're on our way."

"I'll be waiting for your call. Take care, Gil."

"I will." Gil quickly turned away before he could change his mind, saw it was clear to cross, and did so quickly. In moments he had rejoined the group.

"I know this was hard for you, Dr. Grissom. Thank you for trusting us this far. Please get into the taxi," Harry Potter said.

Nodding grimly, Grissom climbed in back. It was fairly tight when the other three got in beside him and Dresden folded his long length into the front seat. He gave the driver an address that would take them toward the desert and soon they were driving off into the night.