Jack paused as he heard the voice. Wondering who was coming into his house, he headed to the ladder he had erected leading to the room he had just dug up underneath the shack. It was a huge empty room right now, partitioned by a wall. He had to magical cement the room to make sure the shack above it wouldn't collapse. Climbing into the living room, he placed the floorboard back, blocking the entrance before heading to the tunnel entrance. He had installed a door and a doorbell there.
Opening it, he paused in surprise when a woman rushed into the room and hugged him in full force.
She pulled back and grinned at Jack's shocked look.
"Betty?" Jack touched the woman's face. He brushed her back hair behind her ear before looking into her green eyes.
"What are you doing here? If Ross…"
She rolled her eyes and grabbed his hands in hers, "Jack, when dad told me you were here, helping him, I had to come."
"And he agreed to that?" Jack looked disbelieving.
She smiled softly, "He didn't have a choice. Oh Jack!"
She hugged him again and Jack held her close, running his hand through her soft hair. After what seemed like forever, Betty said, "Jack."
He let her go to look at her face, "Yah?"
Betty continued smiling as she ran her hand down his face, "You are so thin, Jack."
Jack rolled his eyes and pulled her into the kitchen and before she could react, she was on the counter, her legs wrapped around Jack as he kissed her in full force. She kissed him back and he lifted her as they kissed against the wall.
She was pulling off his shirt and he was fumbling with her buttons when he felt it. His heart was thumping against his chest. Quickly he pulled away from her, "no… we cant do this."
Betty pressed her hand against his face, "No… its ok Jack, we can."
Jack shook his head and pulled his shirt back on, looking grim, "I cant Betty. My heart rate…"
Betty smiled and put her buttons on as she walked over. She looked at the cardboard boxes still in the living room, "The data?"
Jack nodded, "Yep, Betty… I…"
She shook her head, "No need for an explanation, Jack. I am just glad you are ok."
Jack sighed, "Any chance I can convince you to leave?"
She shook her head, "Not a chance. Dad said you have a lab set up?"
Jack nodded and led her up the stairs. Thirty minutes later, the two of them sat down on the counter in the kitchen with bowls of cereal. Betty grinned at him, "I haven't had cereal for dinner in a long time."
Jack pulled his feet up and leaned back, crosslegged on the counter, "You staying here?"
"Of course. I brought a bag – its in the tunnel."
Jack smiled at her as he took her paper bowl. Throwing it in the trash, he offered her hand. She didn't take it as she jumped off the counter, "Jack, where were you when I came? I was in the tunnel for ten minutes!"
Jack grinned at her, "If I tell you, you promise to keep it a secret?"
Betty laughed lightly as Jack led her to the living room. He showed her the secret trap door and led her downstairs. Betty looked around before asking, "What are you doing down here?"
Jack shrugged, "I am thinking of making one of the rooms into a holding cell of sorts and the other into a workstation. I am trying to figure out who killed my parents."
Betty nodded as she began climbing up the ladder again. The tunnel opened as she got into the living room and she stopped in shock as Onyx padded in, tugging her duffel bag with him.
As soon he saw Jack, Onyx ran over. Jack grinned, "Hey buddy! Here, meet Betty. Betty, meet Onyx."
Betty nodded a bit dumbly before kneeling over and petting the wolf, "You are a good boy aren't you?"
The wolf bobbed his head and licked her hand. Betty smiled before turning to look around, "Jack, this room is where you sleep?"
Jack looked around, "Er… yah. If you are going to stay here, I need to get a bed huh?"
Betty shook her head, "No, I like the floor. Apparently its good for you. I like this."
Jack looked disbelieving but didn't say anything as he said, "I am going downstairs to work on the room some more."
Several hours later, Jack walked upstairs to find Betty asleep on the floor, a hand wrapped around Onyx. Jack thought about his good luck as he spread another blanket next to Betty and lay down on it.
The next morning, Betty stirred when she heard a knock. It took her a second to remember why she was sleeping on the floor before she sat up. Onyx was still asleep next to her and Jack was at the door. He opened it to find Steve standing there with coffee.
"Hey bro, got you a coffee. Any news…?" He stopped as he noticed Betty sitting up, rubbing sleep from her eyes.
Jack shook his head in amusement, "Steve, meet Betty my…" Betty finished the thought as she stood up.
"Girlfriend. You must be Steve, Jack's brother." She shook his hand as he nodded and Jack took the coffee, taking a sip, "Betty is going to help me research here."
Steve nodded before looking at the ground, "Still no bed?"
Jack shrugged as Betty headed up the stairs, "Why do you wake up so damn early Steve? Couldn't you wait another four hours?"
Steve rolled his eyes and handed him the white paper bag, "Donuts."
Jack grabbed a chocolate donut and bit into it. Steve looked at him oddly, "You wont drink coffee with sugar but a donut is no problem."
Jack sent him a smile as he folded the blankets and placed them in the corner, "Steve, I need access to my file."
"Why?" Steve's good mood evaporated.
Jack raised an eyebrow, "Your kidding right?"
Steve frowned, "I don't know what to say bro. I cant release that information… I really cant."
Jack sighed and there was an uncomfortable silence before Steve handed him a manila folder. Jack raised an eyebrow as he opened it. It had mugshots of a white male with a black goatee and a bald head.
"Who the hell is this?"
Betty was walking down the stairs when she heard Steve say, "Jack, this is a man the Order has in custody – Igor Karkaroff. One of my teams captured him snooping around the castle a week ago. He hasn't said a word to us."
"What do you want me to do?" Jack handed Betty the coffee. Steve glanced at her before saying, "Ross and I agree that since you are, well, outside the law, you might be able to interrogate him?"
Jack shrugged, "Sure. My rules, my location. Ok?"
Steve raised an eyebrow, "Ok, where?"
Jack pulled a plastic spoon from the kitchen counter and waved his wand over it "Portus!"
Steve took the spoon with a raised eyebrow, "Do I want to know what you plan on doing to this guy?"
Jack shrugged as he opened the fridge and pulled out a yogurt, "Probably not. How long do I have to break him?"
"A week" Steve nodded and walked to the entrance. He turned to look at Jack, "I will send him to the location immediately. If you lose him or kill him, you are going to be in a hell of a lot of trouble, Jack so don't."
Jack rolled his eyes as Steve walked away. As soon as the door was closed, Betty snaked her hands up Jack's torso, "Everything ok?"
Jack nodded, "Everythings fine. Just got another project. Say Betty, wanna help me run some tests?"
She nodded and they headed up the stairs.
Steve came back six hours later with another white paper bag. He knocked on the door and waited. A few seconds later, he shouted, "Jack! Get your ass here!"
A few footsteps later the door opened to reveal Betty. She was dressed in scrubs and seemed flustered, "Come on!"
Steve looked around in confusion or a second before running up the stairs behind her, drawing his gun. He ran behind Betty into the glass room only to find Jack running on a treadmill, all kinds of wires connecting his body to other contraptions.
Betty was sitting at the computer, typing something as odd graphs popped up on the screen. Steve sheathed his gun and turned to look at his brother who was running on the treadmill rather fast.
"Hows it going bro?"
Jack panted as he spoke, "I feel like I am going to die."
"Heart rate 130. Hows your control?" Betty spoke up.
Jack nodded, "Its … its fine. Go all the way."
"Control? What are you talking about?" Steve asked.
Jack panted as Betty cranked up the speed, "Its my heart rate, Steve. Don't you remember? It gets too high and I turn into the devil?"
Steve rolled his eyes, "Of course I do, Jack. I just didn't realize you could control the monster."
"I can keep it from happening except under major duress but once I turn into him, I cant control him."
Steve nodded and looked at the ECG hooked up, "153. How high are you planning on going?"
Betty spoke, "The maximum heart rate for a person his age is around 180 so we will stop there."
Steve nodded and sat down in one of the spinning chairs. He crossed his legs and watched as Jack grit his teeth, his heart rate speedening.
"Does keeping the monster in hurt?"
Jack didn't reply and instead closed his eyes as he struggled to keep the monster in. Betty sounded concerned, "170. Should I stop?"
Jack shook his head, "No, keep going."
Betty shared a look with Steve but continued. Fifteen minutes later, Jack was sitting on the hospital bed, multiple things still hooked up to him. Steve was standing next to him and Betty was fiddling with a machine.
"So you really are serious about finding a cure?"
Jack nodded, "Yah bro. you were right, I am tired of running."
Steve nodded to him and there was silence. It was broken a few minutes later by a shrieking owl flying up the stairs. It headed straight to Jack and crashed into the glass wall separating them. Behind it, Onyx ran up barking like crazy. Jack snorted and waved his wand, summoning the letter the owl was carrying.
It was an empty piece of parchment. Steve and Betty looked at it curiously before Betty asked, "Who sent it?"
"A friend. I told him to put out the word I was on the market for a job."
"Does this friend have a name?" Steve asked, scrutinizing the parchment.
Jack smirked and didn't say anything. Steve cast a few spells at the paper and commented, "This is empty, no hidden messages, nothing."
Jack shrugged, "That's his style. I know where he is."
"Any chance you would be willing to tell me?" Steve wondered as he headed out. Jack shook his head and Steve walked out. Once they heard the tunnel door close, Jack turned to look at Betty as he stood, "I have to go. What my brother didn't know is that the card was not empty. It has a rfid tracking device that will lead me right to the person who wanted to see me."
"How?" Betty looked curious.
Jack grinned at her as he walked into the other glass room. He opened a drawer at the computer desk and pulled out a black box. He turned it on and showed it to her, "This is a tracker my dad helped me put together when I was ten. He took a rfid tracker with him on an overseas mission and my homework was to locate him through his whole trip until he got back. It was fun."
Betty looked at him oddly before kissing his cheek, "Be safe."
Jack winked at her before walking out. He went through the tunnel in his kitchen to Hogsmeade and apparated to the coordinates in his tracker. He arrived in the middle of five men who instantly fired spells at him.
Swearing Jack dived and ducked avoiding almost all the spells, except for a reducto hitting him in the leg. He bit his lip in pain before standing, looking at the men around him. They were all wearing black robes and masks and Jack mentally grinned, these were the people he wanted.
He looked around at the dark, mostly empty room and dusted himself off before looking at the men with a raised eyebrow, "I understand you have a job for me?"
The men moved aside as another man walked in. this one had blond hair that was readily visible behind the mask and black robe and Jack identified him instantly as the leader. He looked at Jack before speaking in a posh voice, "Mr. Evans, you are a hard man to find."
Jack shrugged, "How long have you been trying?"
"Fair enough. The target is Jonathon Edwards. He was a death eater in the lower rungs of our organization. He was assigned with the task of killing an auror, he didn't deliver."
Jack frowned and crossed his arms. He could feel his right leg bleeding on the ground and he spoke, "I am not a cleaner. I am sure a person of your rank must be able to take care of their own trash?"
The man stepped forward and said, "I assure you this is merely a test. You will have more jobs if you deliver."
The death eater grabbed a small black pouch and handed it to him, "500 galleons up front. 500 more when you finish."
Jack took the pouch, "That isn't my standard rate."
"I assure you, the money will go up with subsequent jobs, Mr. Evans."
Jack nodded and took the pouch. As he was about to apparate, the death eater said, "You have three days. Bring proof of death."
Jack rolled his eyes and apparated. Only after landing in his grove in Hogsmeade did he grab his leg in pain. He had lost a lot of blood and a chunk of flesh and was about to pass out soon. He looked around and only seeing darkness, Jack pulled off his shirt and tied it above the wound, making it into a temporary tourniquet. He waved his wand and cast a complex spell that would wipe any traces of his blood on the ground before crawling through the tunnel to his shack.
Betty shrieked in surprise when the trapdoor opened right next to her feet and Jack crawled out. Seeing the blood though, she calmed herself and instantly helped him into the living room.
"Sit tight, Jack. I will be right back."
Jack nodded to her. He pulled off his pants and winced at the actual chunk of flesh missing from his right thigh. Betty stopped in shock at the bottom of the stairs before rushing over with the supplies she brought.
"What happened Jack?"
Jack shrugged, "Just a reducto. Thanks."
She nodded to him, her eyes concerned as the flesh in his thigh began knitting itself together, "SO you found them?"
Jack nodded, "Yep and I have a target. Jonathon Edwards."
"Who is he?"
Jack shrugged as he stood, "Some low level death eater. Apparently, I have to work my way up the ranks."
Betty watched in concern as Jack pulled his bloody pants back on. Suddenly Jack cocked his head before turning to look at the kitchen, "You making something?"
"Its nothing, just grilled cheese. I made you a plate" Betty smiled as she headed to the kitchen. She returned with two paper plates each with a grilled cheese cut diagonally and a packet of ketchup.
Jack grinned at her and they sat down on the floor.
"You date anyone?" Betty asked a few minutes later.
Jack shrugged, "Some, mostly call girls. You?"
Betty smiled and tucked some hair behind her ear, "A few. You remember Roger Ferris?"
Jack frowned, "Lab nerd? Never liked him much."
Betty laughed, "Typical ex, huh?"
Jack shot her a smile and there was some more silence before Betty fished in her pocket and retrieved the photograph Jack had shown Morris earlier, "I was doing laundry when I found this in your pocket. Your parents?"
Jack looked at the picture oddly before nodding, "Yah, come with me."
They both stood up and Jack led her down the other trapdoor in the kitchen. The first room was no longer empty. There were several filing cabinets, a few desks and plenty of bulletin boards, whiteboards and blackboards. The third wall was mostly a one way mirror with a door on the side. Betty gasped loudly as she looked through the mirror. The other side was still a mostly empty room. But now, it had a few tables on the side with some tools. In the center, chained to a chair was a man.
"Jack, whats going on?"
Jack shrugged, "Igor Karkaroff. I am going to let him stew till tomorrow before going in to see him."
Betty nodded dumbly and turned around. She walked to the bulletin board and looked at all the images pinned on it. They all featured images of Jack's parents, driving, going into shops, buildings, walking on the street, etc etc.
Jack limped a little as he walked over to her and snaked his hand around her waist, "These are all the images I could find of my parents in the weeks before their murder."
He pinned the photo Betty had asked about in the empty spot in the top of the board.
"I have been trying to put together what led to them being murdered. I haven't been able to find anything until…" Jack pulled out his laptop from a desk drawer and opened it. Betty watched over his shoulder as he typed a bunch of code. A few dots appeared on a map in the corner and she asked, "What is that?"
"I am bouncing signals so people cant track me" Jack commented as he opened a program. A password screen popped up.
"What are you going to do now?"
Jack raised an eyebrow at her, "Come on Betty, have some confidence. I am a pretty accomplished hacker."
Betty pressed her cheek against his as she watched him enter lines and lines of code. Then he paused and the password check 'analyzed' before approving. Betty snorted when she saw it read, 'Welcome General Ross.'
"If dad found out, I don't think he would hesitate in putting a bullet through you" Betty commented. Jack smiled at her before turning around and kissing her, "Then we will have to keep it quiet, eh?"
Betty nodded to him before pulling another chair to the desk and sitting down next to Jack. She watched as Jack entered a series of numbers and letters into the search parameter. A few seconds later, a screen popped up with another password.
Jack looked at it oddly and began typing code. Nothing happened.
"I cant hack into this. My dad was the one who taught me to hack and he has built in something against me. It will take me weeks to counter it. I would be better of guessing the password" Jack commented, looking at the screen.
"What do you think it could be?" Betty asked.
Jack looked at her before turning to the screen. He typed in a different set of code into the password box. It far exceeded the six or seven characters that would be normal and was rather long.
"You are entering code as a password?" Betty looked curious.
Jack nodded, "Yah, I remember dad saying something to me when I was ten and he taught me how to play minesweeper on the computer. He told me that the best password wasn't something from your life but something else and as a joke he mentioned using the code for minesweeper."
He pressed enter then and file opened.
"You just know the code for minesweeper off the top of your head?" Betty looked amused. Jack grinned at her, "I liked playing it instead of doing homework and when dad found out, he deleted the program. Then he told me to program it myself if I wanted to play."
Betty looked at him oddly and nodded as they looked at the files. There were thousands of folders there, each labeled only with a number. He opened a few of the folders to see a bunch of redacted pages and images in each. Jack sighed, "This is going to take a while."
Betty nodded, "You need a printer."
Jack groaned, "Yep, need to go to the store again."
"I will go tomorrow. I just need some cash" Betty said.
Jack turned to look at her and tugged her onto his lap, "Why no card of your own?"
Betty snorted, "Dad doesn't know I am here, silly."
Jack grinned and kissed her. They kissed for some more time before Jack pulled away, "no… cant do this."
Betty followed him as he headed up the stairs, "Jack, your control is really good. You can go to 180!"
Jack stopped at the kitchen and looked at her, "No Betty, my control is great when I am only thinking of that but with you… my mind is on other, prettier things."
Betty swatted him at the end of the sentence, "Fine, its two in the morning. Lets go to sleep."
Jack smiled before following her to the living room. Onyx padded over as soon as he showed up and he petted the wolf before lying down.