Author's Notes: Here it is! The pain in the butt chapter that took a year to write....I apologize for the long wait. Rest assured, it will not happen again or I will kill a certain Danny-muse.
"Have you seen Danny?" Mary demanded, approaching Mike from behind. The bald-headed, African American man's eyes were glued to the computer screen in front of him, even after Connell spoke, so she gently turned him around with a sigh of frustration. Frustration that quickly changed to worry when she saw the bags under her friend's eyes. "Mike, you look horrible! When was the last time you took a break?"
"Right before you guys came home." Mike yawned loudly, shaking his head. Now that Mary had mentioned it, he did feel a little tired from the long hours he had put in ever since Danny had been kidnapped. However, upon remembering how important his assignment was, he rubbed his eyes. "And yeah, Danny was up here a little while ago, but him and Ed went down to holding to interrogate someone."
"That someone being the Professor." Mitch interrupted, wheeling himself over to the pair.
"What?" Mike and Mary exclaimed at the same time.
"Ed somehow had someone bring him over from Nevada State." Mitch continued, "Don't ask me how he did it, as we all know that Ed could get the Pope here in an instant if he wanted him. Anyway, Danny overheard me tell Ed that he was here, so of course…" He paused momentarily to grin at Mike and Mary. "So, we going to take bets on how long it takes Danny to kill him?"
"Me?" Danny repeated, breaking the silence that had fallen over the holding room. McCoy figured that he had better speak as the Professor looked to be waiting for an answer and Ed? Well, Ed looked like it was taking him everything he had not to just kill the other man on the spot. "You want me to help you?"
"Yes." the Professor replied, barely containing a laugh that escaped him. "That is what I said, Danny. Although, I'm now considering whether or not it was a good idea as you seem to be slower than usual."
"Eh, that's the kid for you, Teach." Jack Keller shrugged as he walked into the room. Stunned to see the former CIA agent, Danny quickly turned to Ed, who remained the same. If Deline was surprised to see his former partner, he sure wasn't showing it. Whistling a tune to himself, the still grinning Keller clapped Danny roughly on the shoulder and looked the Professor up and down before turning to Ed. "You're losing your touch, old man. He should look a lot worse than this by now."
"Shut up and sit down." Ed growled, thinking that he may have to tap into the migraine medicine he stored in his desk later. "So, Jackie, our friend here has just made us a generous offer that I think you should hear."
"You really think that you can get what you want the old fashioned way. Don't you, Deline?" the Professor replied, folding his arms across his chest. "You and Keller working your old CIA magic until I talk? How would you explain that one to the authorities?"
"See, therein lies the problem." Ed said, resting his arms on the table. "You seem to think that somewhere in this world, there's someone that actually gives a damn about what happens to you. Had you just been reasonable and tell us what we want to know, we could have avoided this little situation altogether."
"So, what's this offer you were talking about?" Keller wondered, sitting down in a chair. It wasn't long before he folded his hands behind his head and casually leaned back.
"I'll tell you later." Ed promised, rising from his seat. "Right now, keep an eye on him while Danny and I have a little chat out in the hallway."
"You sure that we can…" Danny started to ask, turning his gaze from Keller to Ed.
"Do you really think I'd leave them alone if we couldn't?" Ed grinned, motioning for Danny to follow him out into the hallway. When both men cleared the door, Ed shut it tightly behind them. "Well, now that that's all taken care of…"
"What are you and Keller going to do?" Danny interrupted, "And why didn't you tell me that he was coming?" He shook his head in disgust. "First, the Professor and now, Keller? Why…"
"Because you've had enough on your plate this past week or so without getting all worked up about those two." Ed explained, seeing where this was headed. Smiling, he clapped a hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Why don't you go back to my place, huh? I'm sure that Delinda is wondering where the hell you are."
"Excellent suggestion, Ed." Mary agreed as she and Mike appeared from seemingly out of nowhere. She focused her gaze on Danny. "What the hell are you doing here? You know that you should be with Delinda."
"I was trying to avoid bringing her down here," Mike explained, "But…"
That's another thing!" Mary interrupted, turning her attention to Ed. "I know that we need to catch Henderson, Ed, but Mike isn't a robot. He needs to go home and get some rest."
"I'm fine." Mike shook his head.
"No, no, she's right." Ed replied, finally noticing the bags under Mike's eyes. He looked McCoy and Cannon squarely in the eyes. "Go home and get some rest, both of you. Mary's right, Mikey. You're not a machine, and you got bags the size of Nevada under your eyes." He turned back to Danny. "As for you? Well, I'm just surprised that Jillian hasn't driven over here and physically dragged you back home with her yet."
"But Ed…" Danny started to say.
"Go on." Ed waved off, "I'll tell you if Jack and I learn anything new."
"There you are!" Jillian exclaimed as Danny walked into the Delines' kitchen an hour or so later. Setting a plate of food down on the counter, the older woman motioned for Danny to take a seat at one of the bar stools. "I was going to let Ed have it if he didn't make you come home by now." She shook her head disapprovingly at McCoy. "Not that I think you should have left in the first place…"
"Probably shouldn't have." Danny meekly nodded, sitting down. "How's Delinda?"
"She was roaming around here a little while ago," Jillian replied as Danny started into his food. "But I believe that she went back to sleep, which is what I want you to do the minute you finish eating, young man."
"Yes, ma'am." Danny grinned.
"Go ahead and move your things from the guest room into Delinda's room." Jillian smiled, "If Eddie gives you any grief, just let me know and I'll take care of it."
"Danny." a half-asleep Delinda smiled, opening her eyes to see what exactly had fallen into bed beside her, and discovering a shirtless Danny smiling back at her. "Daddy's going to kill you if he finds you in here, you know."
"Ah," Danny waved off, still grinning. "Your mom said that she would take care of that when the time comes, so…" He paused to kiss her on the top of the head. "I'm not worried."
"MMM." Delinda sighed, snuggling up against him. "How were things at the Montecito?"
"It's still standing, and Mystique hasn't burned down." Danny joked, closing his eyes. "That's as far as I got before your father and Mary made me go home."
"I'll have to thank them." Delinda giggled before closing her own eyes.
Leaning his head back, Danny casually let the porch swing move gently on its own volition. It had been two days since Ed had presumably taken off somewhere with Jack Keller and the Professor, and he hadn't been heard from since. As McCoy closed his eyes, partly out of frustration and partly because of the afternoon sun beating down on him, he silently berated himself for not insisting that he go with Ed in case something had gone wrong.
"Well, you look like you've made yourself at home."
"Ed!" Danny exclaimed, immediately opening his eyes and sitting up. "Where the hell have you been?"
"Taking care of business." Ed replied with a tone of his voice that indicated that was all the information Danny was going to get. The graying man sighed as he sat down next to his protégé. "How have things been around here?"
"Well," Danny said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Jillian hasn't been too happy about this whole situation."
"Didn't think she would be." Ed quietly nodded, "I suppose that Delinda isn't exactly tickled pink either?"
"She does think you could have handled it differently." Danny admitted, letting his hand drop.
"I handled it the way it needed to be handled." Ed replied, looking out into the dry, dusty backyard in front of them. "Got a couple of leads from McDougal that some…acquaintances are following up on."
"Acquaintances?" Danny scoffed.
"Former co-workers." Ed confirmed, referencing his CIA days. A smile suddenly crossed the older man's features. "Don't worry, Danny. They're just doing the grunt work. I still plan on us doing the fun part."
"Good." Danny smiled, following Ed's gaze. "And McDougal?"
"Ah, don't worry about him anymore." Ed replied, "Between Keller and me, we made sure that he won't be bothering us again…unless you want to track him down and finish whatever's between you two."
Turning his head away from the sunset lit Vegas strip below him, Danny sighed as he walked back over to his desk and unceremoniously sat down in the black leather chair behind it. Had it really only been six months since that conversation with Ed on the Delines' back patio? So much had changed in McCoy's life that it seemed more to him like six years at times. Due to the circumstances surrounding the death of Mary's father, both Ed and Mary had left the city of Las Vegas, and their friends and family at the Montecito behind. Of course, Ed's departure meant that Danny had been promoted to President of Operations, which he found to be more work than just running Surveillance and Security…and some part of him couldn't help but think that Ed, wherever he was, was having a good laugh at his protégé's expense.
As if work and the still unresolved disappearance of Henderson wasn't enough stress, Delinda and Danny were now expecting their first child, and the thought of the baby to made him yearn for Ed and Mary even more. Ed would probably have some fatherly advice to give the clueless Danny, while Mary would lend a sympathetic ear to both father and mother.
"Yeah?" Danny heard himself answer automatically as the sound of someone knocking on the door registered in his consciousness. The brown-haired man looked up to see Mitch wheeling himself inside the office. "Oh. Hey, Mitch."
"The quarterly reports you wanted, Mr. President." Mitch said, setting a stack of papers on Danny's desk. McCoy detected a hint of teasing in the wheelchair-bound man's voice, but he expected it as both Mitch and Mike liked to give him a hard time about being promoted.
"More paperwork." Danny sighed, "Thanks."
"You all right, buddy?" Mitch asked, "You seem out of it."
"I'm fine." Danny waved off, especially after catching sight of A.J. Cooper, the Montecito's new owner, standing in the doorway. "Don't worry about it."
"Okay." an unsure Mitch replied, turning and heading for the doorway. Cooper simply smiled at him as he passed, heading into the office. Danny got along well enough with Cooper, who like himself was a former Marine, but the dark-haired, moustached man was even harder to read at times than Ed had been.
"So…" Cooper said, sitting down opposite of Danny. His eyes watching McCoy's every move carefully.
"So?" Danny replied, unsure of what he wanted. His question was met by no verbal response; just a long, hard stare. Danny shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "What?"
"So, when were you planning on telling me about the whole Henderson situation?" Cooper asked casually.
"Henderson?" Danny repeated, cursing himself for not telling the other man sooner. However, both he and Mike had agreed that they shouldn't bother him with what they felt was personal business between themselves and Ed. "What…"
"Don't." Cooper interrupted with a wave of his hand, "You know, I have to give Ed Deline credit. He really does live up to his reputation. I wasn't able to find out everything that happened between you, him, and this Henderson guy, but I found out enough." He leaned back in his chair and looked at Danny square in the eye. "Fill me in?"
To be continued....