"Danny, get back here!"
Danny stuck his head out of their office and peered at Casey, who was shouting at him from the newsroom. "You yelled for me?"
"Damn right, I called you. I had Charlie last night." Casey frowned at Danny, whose face immediately fell.
"So, I guess this means he told you, then?" Before Casey could continue shouting, Dan raised his hands. "Listen, I think you should know that it was his idea, he came to me and asked for my help. I did not volunteer or offer my services in any other way than letting your son know I am always there for him, whatever he might need. I mean, you never know when he's going to get into trouble with hookers and blow, ten is a little young admittedly, but with you as a father, well, I'd rebel..."
Casey marched into the office with Danny following at his heels. "Daniel, you have been coaching my son. You have been tutoring him in sports. That father-son bonding ritual that has been passed down through the generations has been interrupted. And it was done without telling me. Without even mentioning it to me. You have usurped my position and taken over my parental duties."
"Whoa there, Coach Hayes, let's not take this too far. I've just given him some helpful hints on form and psyching out opponents. Nothing major, no usurping. Breathe and try to remember you're a normal human being."
"Are you insulting my parenting skills?" Casey started glaring again. "Hold on, we've totally got off track here, I will come back to the calling me a crap father thing, what's important is the coaching."
"Casey, I think the issue we have in calling it coaching is that to do so would imply that what Charlie, and you know how dearly I love your son, right? Well, if we call it coaching, that firmly implies what he has been doing is a sport. And I think if nothing else, we can both agree it's not."
"How is it not a sport? There are balls and hoops and two teams and, and other stuff," Casey said, arms folded over his chest.
Dan smirked. "The 'other stuff' to which you refer is broomsticks, Casey, broomsticks and silly hats. Your son wants to be a professional Quidditch player, and I think we both know that's your influence right there."
"I'm only not punching you in the mouth because I know you do have his best interests at heart."
"Interests like getting him laid before he hits forty," Dan interrupted.
"I just don't understand why he didn't come to me," Casey said.
"I think the baseball thing might have left an impact. You know, he didn't want to disappoint you again."
"He told you that? He knows I was never disappointed by him in the first place."
"He's ten, Casey, he's not going to say that out loud, besides, I bet you're regretting that big ‘you will never embarrass me' speech now". Dan grinned and grabbed a baseball off the nearest table, tossing it from hand to hand.
"I'm not embarrassed by him!" Casey said.
"You say that again when you see video of the games. He's running around with elves." Danny smirked and threw the ball at Casey, who snatched it out of the air with a scowl.
"Yup, the school is using house elves as umpires or referees or grand high adjudicators or whatever they're called." Dan wasn't really doing all that good a job of containing his glee at this point as his grin widened.
"Well, that's just ridiculous," said Casey seriously.
"Now you see my point."
"I mean, everyone knows that house elves aren't real elves."
"That's right! Hold on, what? Not real elves? Would you care to enlighten the class on ‘real elves' Casey?" Dan gestured to their non-existent audience.
"You know, proper elves. With pointy ears, tall and beautiful and mysterious."
"Seriously? You're joking right now aren't you? You know that there's no such thing as real elves." Danny looked concerned. "I mean, I know you have some deep rooted feelings about Legolas, but still..."
"Legolas is a Mirkwood elf! He's meant to be dark! Not this blond skinny thing!"
Dan put his head in his hands, "Seriously man, I thought we'd been through this and you were past it."
"I'll never get past that travesty. And you've changed the subject."
"You know there's a Quidditch World Cup don't you?"
"Are you kidding me?
"It's a college sport. One hundred teams in the last one, over 2,000 people playing with broomsticks. And they had some serious representation there, Harvard, Texas A&M, USC. These are kids who could be playing football or rowing crew or just you know, having lots of sex and smoking pot. Instead they are playing a fictional game. I despair of the youth of today, Casey, I really do."
Casey rolled his eyes at Danny who continued, grinning more widely as he got into his flow.
"And you've raised a kid who plays this game. I told you teaching him to read would lead to trouble. Also you have no idea how I've suffered for this. Did you know there are over 7,000 official rules? Rules which I have had to learn so I can advise your son on how best to proceed if he is knocked off his broom before completing a snitch snatch. Also, if you ever make me say ‘snitch snatch' again I will make you regret it."
"I think that you're enjoying this."
"What? That's ridiculous! I am merely helping out a child who needs guidance. And we all know how well you fared at contact sports."
"I thought we'd agreed never to talk of that again."
Natalie popped her head into the office, "Guys, you're late for the rundown. Dana's on the warpath."
Dan and Casey followed Natalie into the meeting room, and as they entered Dan looked around the rest of the crew. "So, show of hands, Who here thinks that Quiddich qualifies as a sport?"
He tossed the baseball to Jeremy who fumbled and dropped it to assorted applause.
"Dan, are you planning a segment on Quidditch? Because if not, we have a show tonight and I'd really like to just how much empty air I'm going to have to fill." Dana said, not even looking up from her notepad. "Natalie, where are we on the 30s?"
"I think a segment would be a great idea Dana," Casey interrupted. "This would actually be perfect. I could do play-by-play on one of Charlie's games..."
"Charlie's a Quidditch player?" Natalie interrupted.
"Yup, Dan's been coaching him but I'm sure he's succeeding regardless."
"Have you had to run around with a broomstick too, Dan?" Jeremy chipped in.
"Dana, am I allowed to ask Dan whether he likes having a big stick between his legs, or is that considered workplace harassment?" Natalie asked cheerfully.
"How did I end up getting mocked here? I've been doing a perfectly nice thing for Charlie and all of a sudden my manhood is being maligned."
"Dana, I don't think Dan likes it when we talk about his broomstick, someone should make a note so we don't do that at every available opportunity," Natalie said.
"Right, so lets get this straight." Dana put down her papers and looked at Casey across the table. "Casey, your son is being taught how to ride a broomstick by Dan and you're not even slightly worried about what this will do to his developing psyche?"
"He's more concerned about the realness of the elf umpires at this point," Dan said with faux solemnity.
"You know, it's an interesting concept," Jeremy said. "How do you properly express the spirit of the game without magic. And also you're trying to render a multidimensional playing field on a flat surface and that can't be easy to conceptualise."
"Before I have to go and find a quaffle and beat you all over the head until you shut up, can we please get back to the show that we are going to be airing to a rather large audience tonight?" asked Dana sarcastically.
Three hours later as Dan and Casey sat at the anchor desk, techs scurrying around them and Alison doing the finishing touches on their makeup, they were still bickering.
"Listen, if you've got the beaters coming at you from that angle you have to go with a reverse Muggle bump otherwise you'd trip up your own seeker," said Dan. "This is why Charlie chose to come to me, I just have a vastly superior grasp of strategy than you."
"Thirty seconds to VTR"
"Stand by animation"
"I'm just saying that, having read the rule book, I don't think that any sane referee would let you get away with the reverse in this situation."
"Sixty seconds live, and I personally would prefer it if no-one mentioned anything rooted in fantasy tonight, unless you're talking about the the Cubs making the playoffs."
"Dana, tell Casey about my vastly superior grasp of strategy?"
"Dan, Casey, listen carefully. This is a sports show, my sports show, and not the Harry Potter book club. I just need you to focus until at least the bottom thirty, when I, for one, will be drunk enough not to care what you say."
"Thirty seconds live."
"Natalie, I bet you $50 that I can get broomstick, snitch and seeker into the show tonight and no-one will notice anything out of place."
"I'd love to take that bet Dan, but Dana is glaring at me and she looks mean tonight."
"Don't worry guys, I don't need the money, I'm going to do it anyway."
"Not a bad plan, Danny, I'm going for keeper, elf and golden, myself."
"Don't you even dare!"
"It'll be fine Dana, these things never go wrong."
"We are men of sports Dana, we've got this all under control."
"In three, two..."