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Lay These Storms To Rest

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PK's never thought about Carey Price much. He's been an Auror for three and a half years, ever since graduating from the Ontario School of Magic (Canada is an awesome place full of creativity and great people, but their magic schools aren't very creatively named at all), and Carey's been one of their top field Aurors for at least half that time. But PK doesn't work in the field much at all despite supposedly being fully classified for it, so he doesn't see much of Carey. Aside from noticing he's hot - which PK thinks is perfectly normal, really, because he is - PK doesn't see much of Carey at all.

The one day Martin pulls PK into his office and says, "You're twenty-one."

"Yes?" PK says. He's learned it's best to anticipate what Martin's going to try to say and say it before him, but he has no idea where this is going, or how it'll end with anything but PK being fired.

"Putting you in the field at seventeen was a mistake." Martin purses his lips. "But if you're not ready now, we might as well retire you to a desk job. Saves us money."

The Montreal Auror Division is one of the worst-funded in the country, despite their storied history. PK nods. "I'm happy to go out in the field," he says. "Put me where you need me."

"Excellent." Martin snaps his folder shut. "I have an assignment for you, and Price has just scared off another partner. I'm putting you two together. We could use your case-building skills on this. And maybe someone as congenial as you will make Price pull his head out of his ass."

It's the most words PK's ever heard Martin say at the same time, and he's a little terrified. He blinks at Martin and says, "Um, sir?"

"Spit it out, Subban."

"By Price, do you mean Carey Price?"

"Who else? I've moved your things to the desk next to him. Have fun." Martin pauses, then smiles a little. It looks kind of evil. "And good luck."

"Thank you, sir," PK says. He does his best not to look afraid as he leaves.

He knows where Price's desk is, mostly because half the time when he passes it, Price is there and muttering to himself. The other half, he's not there at all. It occurs to him just as he arrives that he has no idea what the assignment Martin mentioned is.

"Um, hi," he says. "I'm PK."

"Carey," Price says. He's got an amorphous blob between his hands that he's slowly moving around. He doesn't look away from it to acknowledge PK at all.

"Okay," PK says, half to himself. He sits down and says, "So, new partners, eh?"

"I don't know why they gave me a desk jockey. Do you even know what I'm holding?"

"Uh."

Carey looks up. His eyes are - wow, PK thinks. Intense. "It's a listening device," Carey says. "It takes the shape of an innocuous object, and sends everything to this." He picks up a small earpiece.

"That looks like Muggle technology," PK says, curious.

"It's not," Carey snaps.

"Okay," PK says. He holds up his hands. "I know you mostly go undercover, but Martin wants to try me in the field, so -"

"I get it," Carey says. He closes his hands together, compressing the blob. When he opens them again, it's a small ball the size of a marble that he sets on his desk.

It's cool, but it's not cool enough to distract PK from his main goal, which is fact-finding. "So what's the case Martin has us working on?"

Carey's mouth twists. "Human trafficking, British Death Eater smuggling, and other things that point to some pretty creative attempts at organized crime."

They manage some dark stuff: murder, abuse of power, sometimes systematic enslavement of Muggles, because someone always thinks they'll be able to get away with that scot-free. This is the first time PK's heard of actual organized crime, though. "I'll need to go through the archives," he says. "Make sure we have the full picture before we start investigating outside the office."

"You would," Carey says. "You know why Martin put me on this case, right?"

"Your good looks?"

As a joke, it falls flat. Carey gives him a Look and then says, "We're going to have to go undercover at some point. I'd say I don't know why he's putting a rookie on an assignment like this, instead of supporting me with someone legitimate when we go into the field, but it's Martin. So." Carey stands up. "I assume the next step is going into the archives."

"You got it, buddy," PK says. "To the archives we go."

Carey glares at the rows of parchment like they've done him some kind of horrible offense. PK keeps trying to convince Gauthier, who manages the Auror offices in Quebec, to try to modernize; even Great Britain is starting to integrate magic with Muggle technology enough not to need massive rooms full of parchment. Gauthier's usual argument is that it doesn't really matter, since they can add as much space to the records room as they want. Sometimes PK really wonders about him.

"Okay," PK says. "So, the record rooms are organized by division and then date. There's an organized crime division, but it's, I don't know, three rolls of parchment and that's it. We haven't had a lot of it. That's usually Muggle police work. Conspiring with Dark wizards, though..." PK leads him to the right section. "We'll want to look for any connected with Voldemort, and any who were involved in the organized crime cases. For starters."

"Merlin's beard," Carey says. "This is what you do all day?"

"Part of it," PK says. "I mean, the challenging part is drawing connections and actually making a case field agents can act on." He pauses. "Though I guess that'll be us, this time."

"Apparently." Carey's voice is bone dry. PK's kind of impressed.

It takes PK a minute to realize Carey's just hovering, waiting for PK to say something. "You can go look at organized crime. I'll check out the connections with Dark magic, especially connections with Voldemort."

"So you're saying I should do the easy work."

"Or the work that's most likely to get done," PK says.

"Right." Carey looks, for a second, like he's going to protest; PK's not sure what he'd say if he did. But then he stalks back to where the organized crime records are kept, and PK turns to the rows and rows of parchment about Dark wizards.

He can't use indexing charms; they won't work in the records room because they can be too easily perverted to tamper with the records. He searches through them by hand, keeping his own piece of parchment handy to take notes. After awhile, he has about twenty records that might have some significance to the case. He's about to start looking through the records again, just to be sure, when Carey comes back with three rolls of parchment.

Carey stops dead and stares at PK.

"Hi?" PK tries.

"Right," Carey says. "Okay. While you were, I don't know, working...really quickly." He shrugs. "I got these. I think they might help."

"Cool, just set them down on our desks. We should have a board up to build the case with." PK flicks his wand and the scrolls levitate, following him out of the records room.

He and Carey have a lot of space, luckily. PK spreads the scrolls out and begins examining the ones Carey brought over. "Hmm."

"Is there anything I can do?" Carey says.

He looks dry, PK thinks when he looks up. "Um." He tries to think. "Coffee? I've never worked with anyone before, not since Hal trained me. I think I can handle it. We should be ready to start recon in a day or so."

"Right. So I'm useless right now."

"Not if you get coffee?" PK offers him a smile.

Carey frowns a little, but he just says, "Yeah, okay," and walks away.

He brings coffee after about fifteen minutes. PK's copying the important parts of cases onto the boards; he's only doing it semi-manually, since he can't enchant the parchment to lift words off of it. Carey sets his mug of coffee down - office coffee, one of the few things their office does right. "Here you go."

"Thanks," PK says. "None for you?"

Carey shrugs. "It's two in the afternoon. I'm going to drink water for now."

"I guess if you want," PK says, and drinks his entire mug in one gulp.

"So what have you found?" Carey eyes the board like he's never seen an investigation board before.

"Not much," PK says. "But there are a few wizards in the area with a history of trafficking in Dark magic - cursed objects, sure, but the occasional house elf or human smuggling too. We should probably start there."

"Their names?"

"Jacques Badeau and Garrett Morgan."

"Are they both native to the area?"

PK nods. "They both went to L'Academie de Magie de Québec. They have roots, contacts...it's what makes them good at what they do."

Carey nods. "And I assume you can find them."

"We can," PK says.

"So it's a we now?"

"It always was. Come on, Carey, we both have things we're good at."

Carey's mouth twists, but he just says, "Right. So, tomorrow morning we'll activate a tracking charm and hunt them down."

"Um, right," PK says. "Except we don't have anything of theirs to track, so we're going to have to do it the Muggle way."

"Right," Carey says. He manages to sound amazingly put-upon in a single word. "Of course."

"Pretty much," PK says. "Anyway, I'm going to go over the information again."

He doesn't realize what he's unleashed on the office until it's nearly five and Hal comes up to him. "PK," Hal says in the heavy tone PK's used to associating with his first few years of bad arrests and impatient Auror work.

"Yes?" PK does his best to look innocent, despite not being sure what he did.

"Isn't Carey your partner now?"

"Uh-huh."

"He's been wandering the office for hours, terrorizing rookies."

"Oh no?"

"PK."

Hal sounds more like a dad than PK's actual dad. "I'll go get him," he says grudgingly.

He finds Carey leaning against the wall, glaring at everyone coming out of the break room. He wears Muggle clothes, like PK does; PK notices that they look good on him.

"You're not normally this dour," PK says.

"Dour?"

"It's a good word." PK shrugs. "It's almost five and we're both dressed for it. Want to get an early Muggle dinner?"

"Do you know of good places?"

"Tons," PK says. "I love to eat." He pats his stomach.

Carey's eyes flicker down and then back up again. "Grab your coat, let's go."

They end up at a Chinese place run by Anglophones; magic schools in Canada teach French as a matter of course, but PK's pretty sure they're both more comfortable not having to speak it. And he kind of wants to see Carey in a Muggle environment. He seems so...traditional, in a lot of ways, only he's comfortable in his Muggle jeans and t-shirt, and he orders lo mein with ease.

He turns up his nose at PK's sweet and sour chicken, though. "Really?"

"It's good," PK defends himself. "I like it."

"You would, I guess," Carey says.

PK's not sure how he knows, because Carey's expression only changes a little; but somehow he gets that Carey's messing with him. "You're funny," he says. He doesn't manage to keep the surprise out of his tone.

"And you're not boring." This time Carey smiles, a slow curl of his mouth that has PK momentarily fascinated. "It's nice. Quebec has a lot of boring Aurors."

"Quebec has a lot of bad Aurors," PK says.

"True." Carey winces. "We've fallen far."

"Are you planning on staying?"

"I'm committed," Carey says flatly.

PK doesn't push. Instead, he chews his chicken, grinning at Carey when Carey rolls his eyes again.

They end up hanging out for almost two hours, talking about their history with the Quebec Auror division, their school differences. They talk quietly about school, given the need for secrecy; it means they lean into each other enough that by the end of the night, PK has to admit to himself that he's pretty into Carey.

It's not a big deal, really. He's been attracted to plenty of coworkers and usually doesn't do anything about it. He gets what he needs elsewhere, where it's less complicated.

But he can't help but notice, as they say goodbye before Apparating home from the first wizarding store they find, that Carey doesn't step away when PK grips his shoulder.

He's definitely not going to go there, he reminds himself as he gets ready for bed. But it's nice to think about.

He meets Carey at the office at eight the next day. It's early enough that he has a travel mug of coffee. Carey eyes it when he shows up, but just says, "I already had some," when PK offers him a sip.

"So," PK says. "Invisibility cloaks?"

Carey wordlessly hands him one. "We're Apparating to Parc Leroux," he says. "We'll walk from there."

PK still gets kind of a thrill out of walking, invisible, among Muggles. "They're using the Muggle world to hide, so that makes sense," he says. "Ready to go?"

"Absolutely," Carey says. He smiles narrowly and Apparates.

PK follows, and appears next to Carey in the locked fake storage building that wizards use to apparate to. He says, "No invisibility cloak yet, right?"

"Not yet," Carey says. "I have to follow you. Or the other way around."

They're about three blocks from their destination once they get out of the park. They walk quickly and silently. PK keeps glancing at Carey out of the corner of his eye; Carey's got this weird attitude, this really drawn-in kind of professionalism that's making PK realize why he's so good in the field, and so great undercover.

"Here we go," PK says when they get close.

Cary puts his cloak on and then reaches out and grabs PK's wrist. PK looks at him in surprise.

"You really haven't been out on the field much, have you?" Carey says impatiently. "Put your cloak on. Keeping track of each other like this makes more sense than see-all spells; this kind of bad guy probably has detectors set up to catch that kind of magic."

That makes a lot of sense and sounds like something Hal would tell him. "I mostly went on arrests," PK admits, and puts his cloak on.

They walk towards the building together, leaning against the wall across from the entrance. Right now they're just on a stakeout; PK knows they have to observe the suspects' movements enough to establish a pattern before they do anything too extreme. But he'd underestimated how boring stakeouts are. Hal only took him on one before declaring them a PK-free zone. Carey doesn't say anything, and his hand on PK's wrist doesn't twitch. But after he gets used to the feel of Carey's calloused hand, the whole thing is pretty boring.

Finally, though, past lunch (Carey produces two sandwiches, magically kept cool, which PK is pretty relieved about), Jacques Badeau walks into the building.

"Excellent," PK says. "So he was out somewhere."

"Now we wait for Garrett," Carey says.

PK does his best not to groan.

Garrett doesn't show until nearly six PM. He's leaving the building, looking incredibly suspicious, with a very obvious wand bulge.

"Follow?" PK says under his breath.

"Follow," Carey confirms, and they set off after him.

They're equipped with trackers that will let them follow Garrett if he Apparates; all Auror divisions in the field have them. But Garrett doesn't Apparate. He walks several blocks north, then ducks into a seemingly innocuous office building.

Even PK knows that "seemingly innocuous" doesn't mean much - but right now, they can't follow. "We could get the Rights," PK says. Right to Search is pretty important for Aurors.

"Or we could break in," Carey says. "Not right now, though."

PK blinks.

"Martin won't expect a report for at least a week," Carey says. "And he'll question where we get the evidence only if we don't have enough legally gotten for a court case. If there's something worth investigating in there, we need to know."

"And you think there is?"

"I think there's no reason he couldn't have Apparated if he has nothing to hide."

"Okay," PK says.

There's a suspicious pause before Carey says, "That's it?"

"Sure." PK shrugs. "I mean, I assemble evidence people bring back to the station, normally, but it's not like I don't know how it's gotten."

"Good," Carey says. "We should head home, then."

"After we drop the cloaks off at the station."

"Right," Carey says. "Of course."

They don't go get dinner or anything; they leave their cloaks locked in their desks and then Apparate home individually. But as PK eats his poutine (he deserves it, he thinks, after that stakeout), he can't help but think he'd really rather eat with Carey.

The next week is stakeouts, stakeouts, and more stakeouts. PK's starting to get kind of annoyed; obviously he knows this is how Auror work goes, but usually he's busy researching three or four cases and using the information brought back to him. Now, though, it's just him and Carey, over and over again.

PK is really starting to doubt the whole invisibility cloaks, holding onto each other plan. Carey grips his wrist like he thinks PK is going to run away or something, and PK's vacillating between really wishing he'd stop and being kind of into it.

He's surprised when, after a wasted Friday of watching shipments arrive at another warehouse and gritting their teeth over how they can't interfere yet, Carey says abruptly, "I've put in a request with Martin to begin undercover work."

"Under..." PK locks the drawer with his invisibility cloak and says, "Sorry, I thought you said undercover."

"I did." Carey looks grim. "I tried to petition for a different partner, but I couldn't."

PK tells himself it makes no sense to feel kind of hurt. "Oh," he says. "Okay, well, I mean - that's cool."

"PK." Carey rolls his eyes. "If you want to go, then I'm glad."

"Yeah?"

"You're not completely terrible," Carey admits.

From Carey, that's a hell of a compliment. PK grins and says, "Awesome. Guess I'll see you on Monday, then."

He almost turns to go, but Carey opens his mouth and visibly hesitates. "Yeah?" PK says.

"My sister's in town," Carey says. "If you want, we could hang out."

PK blinks. "Oh, okay. Yeah, sure."

"We can Apparate to the Sparkling Wand from here," Carey says, naming one of the few Anglo Wizarding bars in the area.

"Sounds good," PK says. "Uh, I'm not really dressed for a bar, though."

Carey raises an eyebrow at PK's dark jeans and tight shirt with a Muggle slogan. Then he looks at himself, in his worn-down jeans and plaid shirt. "We're not English," he says. "We can afford to dress down a bit."

"Okay," PK says. "Sure. Let's go, then."

They Apparate together, arriving next to one another just outside the bar. It's a trick they've practiced a bit in the last week or so, partly because it's good for partners to be able to communicate like that, and partly because it looks cool. Carey waves an arm at PK, half-bowing ironically. "After you," he says.

PK grins at him and goes into the bar, pushing the door out so Carey can catch it as he follows.

Kayla is sitting at a table in the corner. PK knows her name because Carey brings her up a ton; now, PK sits down and says, "Hey."

"Hi," she says brightly. Her smile is wide and happy when she looks at Carey. PK ends up smiling too, just because it's cute, and also he's really digging Kayla's dress and the way she flicks her finger at Carey and says, "Do you work in a barn or something?"

"Very funny," Carey says. "This is PK, by the way."

"I guessed," Kayla says. PK laughs at the look on her face. When Carey glares at him, he says, "Sorry, it's just - your expressions are exactly the same."

"I smile more."

"But still, sarcastically. Must be a family trait." PK looks at the menu. "Hmm. Chicken fingers?"

"Thought you were watching your figure," Carey says.

PK rolls his eyes at him. "I'm in the gym every day," he says.

"Well, I'm getting chicken fingers," Kayla says. "And, hmm. Fried mushrooms."

"Fine," Carey says. Or grumbles, rather; it's kind of cute, PK thinks fondly. "I'll get foie gras poutine."

"Fancy," PK says, even though it isn't, really. He taps his order spot and tells the table, "Chicken fingers and grilled cheese, please."

"Grilled cheese? Really?"

"You shut your mouth," PK says. He doesn't really mean it, though, and Carey mostly just looks kind of smug.

Once all their orders are placed, PK leans forward and says, "So."

"So," Kayla says.

"I think it's only fair that I get the lowdown on Carey here."

"Well," Kayla says, leaning forward with a conspiratory expression.

"Kayla!"

Carey looks mortified. PK's really tempted to keep teasing him, but he's starting to feel kind of sorry for Carey; he's all twitchy and looks like he's worried Kayla's going to tell PK about his murdering childhood, or something. "Okay," PK says. "We can drop it for now. How about the Gryffins, eh?"

"They're not going anywhere this year," Carey says. "You can't tell me you actually root for them."

"Better than rooting for - what, the Orcas?"

Carey glares. "I'm from BC."

"Sure," PK says. "And you're not that good at winning in hockey, eh? Wizarding or otherwise."

Carey huffs a breath. "Montreal isn't all about the Gryffins."

"Bet I can teach you to love them."

"You definitely can't."

"Bet I can."

If anything, Carey's glare gets even worse.

"So," Kayla says. "Please tell me this isn't what you do all day. I'd like to feel, you know. Safe and protected."

"Montreal -"

"Has old glory," Carey says. PK honestly can't tell if he's talking about their Auror station or the Gryffins.

"Anyway, Carey and I are on the case," PK says, and tries for a smile.

They spend the rest of the night with small talk. Carey and Kayla talk about people they know back in BC a bit; PK doesn't mind, since it gives him glimpses into Carey's life that he knows Carey wouldn't otherwise give him. It's still not clear to PK how he ended up in Montreal. PK loves Montreal and has wanted to be a Montreal Auror for ages. Sure, the reality is a little different, but for Carey, it's like he just happened to end up at one of the most storied, and currently most troubled, Auror stations in Canada.

But PK keeps those thoughts hidden from Carey - or as hidden as they can be, anyway. Carey has the habit of glaring at him suspiciously even when he's not doing anything, but PK's pretty sure Carey doesn't think he's as interested in Carey's life as he actually is.

After a long night and a lot of firewhiskey, Kayla says, "I'm staying with Carey."

"Too bad," PK says, and laughs at the look on Carey's face. "Relax," he adds. "It's fine." He leans forward and hugs her, then thumps Carey on the shoulder. "I'll see you," he says, and Apparates.

It's a little hard to fall asleep that night. He keeps thinking of the look on Carey's face when he looks at Kayla - the sort of restrained pride and happiness he almost never gets, otherwise. PK doesn't know if Carey likes being an Auror. He's never really asked, and anyway, he's not sure it matters. Carey's one of the best they've got, the first person they come to for undercover work. And even more importantly, PK knows there's no way Carey's going to quit. Whatever he thinks about the job, PK's put enough cases together to know when someone's not going to crack.

PK goes to sleep still thinking about Carey's ambiguous smile, and how much he wishes it was directed at him.

 

Those thoughts are scrubbed clean when he wakes up in the morning. He's not hungover, but he is a little slow. He doesn't have to go into the office that day, luckily, so he's settled in in front of a his drawing pad with a giant glass of water when someone knocks on his door.

It's Carey. "Did you Apparate into the hallway?" PK says blankly. When Carey gives him an exasperated look, he moves aside and adds, "Um, come in."

"It's a Wizarding building," Carey says by way of answering. "Kayla's gone."

For one horrifying second PK thinks Carey means gone as in disappeared; but then it occurs to him that, no, Carey actually probably wouldn't be sort of calm and morose if his sister was missing. "Okay," PK says. "I was going to read."

"I don't really read."

"Right."

"You do?"

"It's good for the work I do," PK says, shrugging. "I have a Muggle TV?"

"Great," Carey says, and walks into PK's living room.

PK thinks this might be Carey's version of being lonely. He goes back out to the living room, where Carey's sitting on the end of the couch that doesn't have PK's giant glass of water. He's kind of curled in on himself, so PK sits down at the other end and starts reading - sideways, so that he can prop his feet up close to Carey's legs. He's starting to get used to poking at Carey like this, just a little, to make him a little less weird about stuff.

They hang out like that for hours, barely speaking, before Carey says, abruptly, "I'm hungry."

"I order a lot of stuff," PK admits. "I also have meals you can heat up."

"That works." Carey clicks the TV off and turns to look at PK. "Where's your kitchen?"

"Through the hallway," PK says, then hops to his feet. "I mean, I can do it."

Carey flicks his wand at PK, sweeping his feet out from under him and making him sit back on the couch heavily. "You'll just steal bits of it while you do it."

PK laughs. "Okay, fair," he says. "It should be in the fridge."

"I'll get it," Carey says, and disappears down the hall.

PK feels sort of weird about someone else cooking in his apartment. It's not huge, and smells start coming into the living room after just a minute. Even PK doesn't cook here often. He takes his parents out to dinner when they visit, and anyway, half the time he's working late.

Which is beside the point, he thinks, pulling his mind back on track. The point is, Carey's alternately prickly and too familiar, and PK's starting to think maybe he should settle this like he did with John, and just sleep with him.

Not that there was really anything to settle with him and John. Back at Auror training they were easy; they worked so well together. They came up through wizarding school together, too, but it was after a hard day of physical training that they collapsed together and ended up fucking. PK liked it, mostly because he likes John and sex with his friends is easy and simple. And it did resolve the kind of frisson between them, that stuff PK figures John would've denied if PK had actually tried to talk to him about it.

He's not sure that will help with Carey, though. Carey's still an unknown in a lot of ways.

In the end, PK tells himself to stop trying to put together the puzzle of how Carey acts. He's not on duty, and PK's not a Dark wizard or even a Muggle criminal. Instead, he enjoys the steaks and vegetables Carey feeds him, and afterwards says, "I was thinking I'd meet Hal at the bar."

"You still spend time with Hal?"

"Hal's awesome," PK says. "Come on, Carey. You've been here all day. You should come with."

Carey narrows his eyes at PK. PK smiles back, doing his best to be charming.

"Fine," Carey says. "Okay. Let's go."

"We're going to walk," PK says. "The Kettle is just a few blocks away."

"I said okay."

PK doesn't laugh at how cranky Carey is, because he likes his balls where they are on his body. He does put his coat on, though, and say, "Here we go, then."

Hal's hunched over a table when they get there, engrossed in conversation with a waitress. As they get closer, PK hears him saying, "...really should make sure people know. I don't mind pickles, but for people who do, product descriptions are valuable. PK. I didn't know you were bringing a date."

The waitress makes her escape as PK and Carey sit down. PK doesn't have a chance to respond to Hal's implication before Carey says, "I'm an Auror. I know you. We're partners, not dates."

"Of course, some people tend not to make the distinction." Hal glances at PK, who does his best to smile innocently. He's pretty sure Hal can see straight through him, but there's no need for them to have that particular conversation right away.

"I do," Carey says flatly.

"Mhm." Hal takes a sip of water, then waves the waitress over. "Burgers okay?" he asks PK and Carey.

"Sure," Carey says, more than a little challengingly.

Hal nods briefly and orders. While he's doing it, PK gulps his water down. If he knows Hal, then Hal's about to start grilling them on going undercover. He remembers PK's...not very impressive undercover career, PK's pretty sure.

"So," Hal says when the waitress leaves. "I heard you put in for some work in the field."

"We need to get moving," Carey says. "The case -"

"I can explain it," PK says quickly.

Carey gives him a look, but PK refuses to try to interpret it. This kind of thing is his job; he'll explain it better.

Carey, to PK's surprise, gives in. "Right," he says. "Okay. Shoot."

So PK explains the case. The shadow of Death Eaters doesn't and never really has hung over Canada; they have their own issues, but Voldemort's name holds a lot less sway on this side of the Atlantic. But Hal is old enough to remember some of the conflict, and his mouth is set grimly as PK runs through the human trafficking, the drug issues, the remnants of Voldemort's reign trying to get a footing in North America. When PK winds down, Carey jumps in and says, "So I'm going to try to set us up and get us an in with the crime ring. It shouldn't be too difficult."

"Shouldn't be too difficult? You're dealing with Death Eaters."

"Everyone has weaknesses."

PK knows that tone. Carey's pretending he doesn't care, but he does - a lot. PK really should've predicted this would take a turn for the weirdly competitive.

"Anyway," he says, "Carey's awesome, and he's going to keep me from making an idiot out of myself."

"A mammoth task," Hal says.

PK grins at him.

Conversation gets a little less strained after that, especially once Carey clues in to the fact that Hal making fun of PK is just normal, and not something Carey needs to get all angry about. They talk for a couple hours, until the waitress starts heavily hinting that they should leave; then Hal Apparates with a terse, "I'll see you in the office."

"Gonna have a quiet Sunday?" PK says.

Carey nods. "You?"

"Same."

They blink at each other. PK's about to say something way too flirty when Carey says, "See you Monday," and Apparates.

PK feels like maybe he should be doing some introspection or something, only that's not really his thing, and he knows he's not going to magically figure out what's going on in Carey's head. He Apparates back to his apartment and goes to bed.

He gets into the office Monday morning and has just long enough to hang his (old-fashioned but really nice) cloak up before the comm at his desk says tinnily, "Martin would like to see you in his office."

"I'll be right there," PK tells it. He takes a deep breath, double-checks to make sure he can't see Carey anywhere, and then goes.

Carey's sitting in Martin's office. Judging by his posture, he's been there awhile. "Sir?" PK says.

"Ah. Good. Sit down." Martin frowns at him a little. "Quickly, please."

PK sits promptly, then says, "Our application went through?"

"I review all requests for field work promptly," Martin says. PK can't help but notice that's not exactly a straight answer.

"He's been telling me about the funding we'll be granted," Carey says.

"This is a high-priority assignment, and Price is the best man we have," Martin says. "Good enough that I trust him to guide you, since you're not used to field work."

PK will bristle about that later. "Sure."

"You'll be undercover as a Wizarding crime couple from the States."

If PK had a drink, he'd be spitting it out. "Excuse me?"

Martin doesn't blink. "You'll be from Minnesota. They probably won't notice the accent difference."

"I'll have a Minnesota accent," Carey says. PK gets the vibe he's offended.

"Okay," Martin says. "We'll get you papers, a house, all that."

"Won't they have a problem with it?" PK says. "You know, being gay."

Martin shakes his head. "Our intelligence indicates they don't care about Muggle standards like that. It would be a problem if you were purebloods who needed heirs, but you're not."

"So we're supposed to be married," Carey says flatly.

Martin looks at him. For a second the room gets really tense, and it occurs to PK that Carey probably really doesn't like being one of the best undercover Aurors in Canada at one of the worst Auror stations in North America.

"Yes," Martin finally says. "I'll have someone bring you details for your cover later." He flicks his wrist and his office door opens. "Good day."

It's a surprisingly hostile way to let them out, but PK's not an idiot. He books it, ignoring the way Carey all but stalks after him.

"I'm going to go hit the punching bag," Carey says when they get back to their desks.

"Okay," PK says. "I'll let you know when we have our cover."

"You do that," Carey says, and leaves.

PK fiddles with some papers and goes over the details of the case again. He'll have to pretend he doesn't know any of the faces of the crime organization, that he doesn't know about all the horrible things they've done. It's not like PK is completely new to subterfuge; he's pretty sure he can do this without serious incident. Hal did train him, even if PK ended up being more of a desk jockey than anything else.

His nervousness covers all other possible emotions for so long that it's not until the details of their cover appear on his desk that he realizes how excited he is.

He almost jumps when it occurs to him, but catches himself at the last moment. They have a modern, open floor plan, which means everyone would catch him acting like a complete lunatic. Instead, he taps his communicator frog statue and says into it, "Carey, the cover's here."

A few minutes later, Carey comes out from the back. He's dry and clean, but PK's pretty sure it took a lot of spells to make him that way. The way Carey's flexing his hands helps with that.

"Here you go," PK says, passing the papers over.

Carey scrutinizes PK as he takes them. "You look weird," is his verdict as he sits down.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," PK says, biting back a smile.

"Sure you don't," Carey says. "It's not going to be a walk in the park, you know."

PK's not offended; he's pretty aware of how Carey sees him, and PK can only partly blame him. "I know," he says. "But they keep me at the desk, mostly, so this will be cool."

"They shouldn't," Carey mutters, flipping to the second page of the cover document.

"What?"

Carey blinks at looks up at him. "They shouldn't," he says more clearly. His voice is kind of deeper than usual, PK thinks. "You're good."

"Oh," PK says. "Well. Thank you."

"We're moving in tomorrow," Carey says.

"They move fast."

"Part of the job." Carey shrugs, then stands. "We should go pack."

PK laughs, but he stops when Carey looks at him blankly. "Wait," PK says. "You're serious?"

"Don't you pack?"

"I just, you know, Apparate things," PK says. "I guess I put them in bins. Why?"

Carey takes a deep breath, nostrils flaring. "We're adults," he says. "Adults doing illegal shit, so we have to act like it. That means boxes. You can spell them to pack themselves all you want, but you need to use them."

"Huh. Okay." PK stands and stretches. "Guess I'll see you tomorrow?"

"No," Carey says.

PK waits for him to elaborate, a strategy that works on his little cousins and Carey about equally well. Sure enough, after a minute Carey says, "I'm moving my stuff to yours tonight. That way when we move in tomorrow we'll be coming from the same place."

That seems kind of elaborate to PK, but then, he's not the one who's a decorated hero when it comes to undercover work. "Sure," he says. "I'll make up the couch."

He Apparates before Carey has a chance to say they have to share a bed, or something. PK's managing this thing for Carey, but that involves not thinking about it too closely.

He succeeds, heating up one of his pre-assembled dinners and eating it before the crack of Apparating signals Carey's shown up. "Hey," PK says. "I put some sheets on the couch."

"You're not going to transfigure it?"

PK shrugs. "It's just for one night."

"Hmm," Carey says. "Well, here." He indicates the boxes. "This is it."

"Seriously? This is all you own?"

"No," Carey says. "This is all I'm bringing. The place is pre-furnished."

PK's never been so glad he doesn't show blushes. "Sure, okay. Let me go box some stuff up. You can watch TV or whatever."

He's not really surprised to see that when he comes back out, after boxing up some essentials including clothes and some true crime books, Carey's taken the sheets off the couch and has propped his feet up on PK's coffee table. He's watching TV. "Muggles," Carey says thoughtfully as PK sits down next to him.

"They're sure something," PK agrees.

"Then again, to listen to my Hogwarts friends talk, North American wizards are almost as bad."

"Hey," PK says, "at least we're not Americans."

Carey laughs. It's kind of a startling sound, all slow and...charismatic, PK decides. That's a way safer word than the one he was thinking. "You're not wrong."

"I know," PK says.

They're mostly quiet after that. PK's biting down on his natural tendency to talk both because he doesn't want to force Carey to answer questions for him, and because he's kind of nervous and knows if he talks it'll just turn into babbling. So they sit there until the clock hits ten thirty, and then Carey says, "We should go to bed early. We move in at eight."

PK groans. "That's so early."

"Moving in at nine would be a little too on point," Carey says.

"Fair enough," PK says, and stands. "Here, get up and I'll put the sheets back on."

"No need," Carey says. He flicks his wand and does the bed up. "You're weirdly shy with magic."

"I keep forgetting we can use it," PK admits.

Carey looks amused. "It's been, what, six years?"

"Five, but yeah. My brothers still can't use it on their own."

"And you keep forgetting?"

"I'll remember more around you," PK says. He grins at Carey, because Carey's making fun of him and PK feels way more on an even footing with this kind of thing.

Just like that, Carey's good cheer disappears. "See you in the morning," he says, turning around and casting a cleaning spell on his mouth.

PK's not going to think about Carey's pearly whites. He goes to bed instead.

Moving in is surprisingly uneventful. PK's moved house a few times, and it's mostly just a matter of getting stuff to make its way from one house to another without Muggles noticing. Once their boxes are safely trotting to the new house, shrouded in eye-diverting magic, PK and Carey Apparate into their new quarters.

It's a nice house on the outskirts of Montreal, in an affluent and heavily Francophone area. PK was initially dubious, until Carey explained, "This is where the bosses live. Trust me on this." They've had a few people, both plants with the Aurors and people of a less savory reputation, send out feelers about the crime-inclined couple moving in. Carey and PK's covers don't place them as anything like British Death Eaters, but they're definitely supposed to be Dark wizards.

PK's still not sure how he's going to pretend to be evil, even though he does know Dark magic. He'll leave that to Carey, probably.

No one rolls out the welcome wagon as they settle in. It's kind of anticlimactic, actually. Their stuff goes in their room - the single room, which PK's pretty sure is going to be interesting - and then they stand in the living room, staring at each other.

"Well," PK says.

"The house is impervious to listening charms," Carey says. "But we should probably still use each other's cover names and act married. Just in case there's visual surveillance."

"Okay," PK says. "That's good to know, um, Kev."

Short for Kevin. PK's not sure how he feels about this.

"Thanks, Jake." Carey's sly smile tells PK all he really needs to know about why Carey likes going undercover. Apparently, the challenge of it all really gets him going.

PK might not be really experienced with undercover, but he knows how to rise to a challenge. He moves over to Carey and puts one arm around his waist, leaning his head in. "There's movement in the bushes outside," he says when it catches his eye.

"I know." Carey kisses the top of his head, the hand that's not around PK's arm on his wand. "I'll go to the front door, you take the back."

PK does, but nothing happens. He spends a few tense minutes with his wand out, waiting to start hurling curses, when Carey calls, "We have a package."

He walks back to the living room and sits down on the couch. Carey takes the floor, though, magic holding the small wooden box in front of him like it might burn him.

Which, PK thinks, it really might.

PK scrambles to the floor. "That could be a problem," he says, looking at the box. "Can we get a squad on it?"

He pretty much knows the answer, so he's not surprised when Carey shakes his head. "Montreal's Dangerous Artifacts division isn't known for its competence."

"Gomez -"

"That's the argument you're going with?"

"Fair point," PK agrees. "So, what are we going to do?"

"Attempt to disarm it ourselves."

"You're sure it's a curse?"

"Why do you think I'm out of the sightlines of the windows?"

"Good point." PK sighs. "I guess it's asking a little much for things to be simple."

Carey looks amused. "This is simple." He glares at the box for a minute, then mutters something.

PK doesn't clearly hear him, but it doesn't seem to matter. The box sparks a little and stubbornly stays shut.

"You could try a speaking spell," PK says. "Though hitting it with magic is probably almost as unsafe as touching it."

Carey nods absently. "It's old-fashioned," he says.

"Because it's not in an iPod?"

Carey looks wry. "There's that. But also, look at the carving. This is old, European by the looks of it."

"Death Eaters," PK says, catching on.

"Death Eaters," Carey agrees.

PK thinks it over for a second. "Probably Mortimer," he says, tapping the box with his wand. "Those carvings were burned in, and this etching looks like a tradesman did it. Mortimer's known for being a naturalist, and he wants everything to come from the earth. He binds his magic in it a lot, too. If Mortimer's sneaking Death Eaters into Quebec, this could be a worse problem than we thought."

He stops when he realizes Carey's staring at him. "This is a weird habit of yours," he says.

"You put that together quickly."

PK shrugs. "That's what I do."

"And I think you're right," Carey says. "I wouldn't have made the leap, but I'd be surprised if it was wrong."

"Aww, thanks," PK says, grinning at Carey.

Carey rolls his eyes. "So. How should we disarm it?"

"That's not my field of expertise," PK says, but he's already thinking. "We could try opening it."

"You don't think that'll trigger it?"

"I think whatever's in there isn't meant to kill us. Woo us with Dark magic, maybe, but not kill us."

"Fair enough." Carey flicks a shielding charm at PK, then puts one up around himself. He points his wand at the box and commands, "Open yourself."

The box flips open, and both their shields shatter like they're made of cheap, old glass. PK ducks instinctively, but he doesn't manage to do it in time; the curse hits them both square on.

For a second PK can't breathe. He stays calm, clutching his wand like a lifeline, but in the end that doesn't matter much. The curse constricts around him and then settles into his skin, leaving a feeling like soap scum behind.

PK raises a hand. His skin looks the same as ever, except when he shifts it, at which point little red bits of curse catch the light. Even as he watches, the red fails - but the curse is still there, no mistake.

He looks over at Carey. Carey's doing the same thing with his hand. When he catches PK looking, he says, "So that was a stupid thing we just did."

"Yeah," PK agrees. "But we're not dead, so I was right."

"I don't think getting hit with a curse Death Eaters and other Dark wizards intended us to get counts as being right."

"I just said it wouldn't kill us."

"So for a really narrow definition -"

PK feels a weird slow swell of amusement that feels like it doesn't belong to him. He ignores it - one thing at a time - in favor of smiling brightly at Carey and saying, "For a reasonably broad definition, I'm right."

"You're disgusting," Carey says. He doesn't sound that mad, though. "Since we're still alive, I should probably get rid of the box."

PK shakes his head. "These things are Mortimer's pride and joy. Put it on the mantle, Kev."

Carey glares, but he stands up with the box and sets it on the mantle. He leaves it open, which PK thinks is a nice stylistic touch.

Carey looks back at him, and PK feels a weird tug in his stomach, similar to a minute ago. He frowns. "Hey, Carey?"

"Kev."

"Okay, fine, Kev. Do you feel weird?"

"How do you mean?"

"I'm getting these weird mental...feelings." Lame finish, PK tells himself. "Things that don't belong to me."

Carey frowns. "And you think it's because of the curse."

"I think it logically follows."

There's a snap out back. Carey's head jerks up and he pulls his wand from his pocket. "Be right back," he says, creeping towards the back.

PK follows, because it's not like he's going to leave his partner to face danger alone. But when they get outside, they see a cat sitting among pieces of a shattered pot.

Carey sighs and pockets his wand. "What are you doing out here?" he says. PK half expects the cat to claw him, but it just meows inquisitively as Carey scoops it up. "Whose are you?" He lifts the cat's leg, then adds, "Little lady?"

PK likes animals, but he knows he doesn't like Carey does. He watches as the cat meows earnestly at Carey, doing his best to ignore the affection he feels for the cat, which he's pretty sure is only partly actually his. "Let's get inside," PK says when Carey starts scratching behind her ears.

"We should be fine," Carey says. "We've already been cursed - they'll let it go for now."

"I know," PK says, "but tempting fate doesn't seem smart, you know?"

"You're not exactly a Divination expert," Carey says wryly. He goes inside, though, taking the cat. The affection PK feels won't let him argue.

They check the perimeter with ruthless efficiency, not even bothering to double check which parts of the house each of them should do. Once it's secure, PK goes back out into the living room - to see Carey dangling a makeshift cat toy, a bit of string with a quill tied to the end.

PK leans against the doorframe, watching. He can tell from the way Carey's eyes flick in his direction that Carey notices him, but he keeps playing with the cat anyway. She has to be young, PK thinks - she's transfixed by the feather, leaping up in the air and batting at it. Carey laughs when she falls, then says to PK, "You know, I'm really more of a dog person."

PK's pretty sure he likes the cat because it's a tie, however weak, back to his life as an Auror who Apparates to BC on a lot of weekends to ride horses and, probably, pet a hundred dogs. PK doesn't mind it, or anything, but if one cat is enough to make Carey go stupid, then maybe he should get a dog of his own or something.

Now's not the time to have that talk, though. Especially since PK still knows Carey's file better than Carey himself. Instead, he settles on one of their two armchairs while Carey plays with the cat.

He should at least pretend to be doing something else, but he can't. They learned about bonding spells in Auror school; of course they did. It's a Dark way to tie two people together, usually with distance limits built in, along with a whole other host of ill effects if the two people involved try to resist the bond. They can be broken, PK knows, but in order to do so they'd probably have to be hospitalized for awhile. PK doesn't need to ask to know Carey will refuse.

It's probably useful, anyway, PK thinks. They're tied together now, and the Dark mob will know it. It will signal that they're all in, and if this lasts long enough, PK's pretty sure he can come up with a way for them to break the bond themselves. That will signal that they're powerful enough to be bothered with, which could get them in the inner circle, which in turn might mean they can stop Voldemort's supporters being smuggled into the country.

He doesn't realize Carey's stopped playing with the cat until she bumps her head under his chin. PK laughs, petting her.

"I can feel you thinking," Carey says. He's sitting forward on the couch, hands together and hanging between his knees.

"Sorry," PK says. "I can go somewhere else."

Carey gives him a 'give me a break' look. "I mean I can feel you thinking. Mentally. Don't bother pretending you don't feel it too."

"I figured we were avoiding talking about it."

Carey shakes his head and leans back. "Bonding spell?"

"Bonding spell," PK confirms. "I'm not happy with it."

"I'm not surprised."

"Was this meant to be this complex an assignment?"

"Sure," Carey says. "We're infiltrating a crime ring. These things happen."

PK's pretty sure Carey's trying to convince himself as much as anything else, even though it doesn't really make sense that Carey would be freaking out, considering that he's done way more dangerous things alone. "Sure," PK finally says. "So, what, do we bring our criminal friends a pie?"

"Nah," Carey says. "We get seen tonight at La Nuit."

PK groans. "Dark wizards have their own bar?"

"They have an entire street of storefronts in England," Carey points out.

"It's just so corny. I bet they wear the traditional hats, too."

"Probably," Carey says. He's perked up as suddenly as he got weirdly serious, and is eyeing PK speculatively. "You look too wholesome," is his verdict. "But I can probably work with that."

"You sound like a makeover specialist," PK says, but he's laughing. He does his best not to think about the warm, not-his feeling in the back of his mind.

"Don't worry, there aren't any montages in your future." Carey kicks PK lazily. "But we do need to get ready to go soon."

They go to their bedroom together and get ready to go. PK wears a dark shirt and jeans, trying to keep in mind what Carey said about not looking wholesome. Carey wears his usual going-out clothes; he's missing only the cowboy hat to be really dressed up. PK gets distracted for a worrying amount of time by Carey's belt buckle, but after that he locks in and does his best to focus.

"Remember, they're all Francophones," Carey says. "I hope your French has gotten better since your time as a trainee."

"I didn't know you as a trainee."

"I've heard stories," is Carey's kind of terrifying response.

"Well, it's better now," PK says. "I graduated, didn't I?"

"Guess you did," Carey says. "Let's go, then."

They both Apparate to the front of the building. It looks different than it did in the location picture Carey showed him before they left - more intimidating, PK thinks. Also full of people in robes and pointy hats. PK would groan about traditionalism, but Carey's busy getting them inside, and he's changed so much it's all PK can do not to boggle.

Carey's kind of smirky in general, but now he's laying it on so much it's pretty much smarm. He bribes the bouncer and struts in with as much of a fuck-you attitude as PK's ever seen on him, and in between being completely stunned, PK thinks he might really get it. This is Carey in his element, faking people out. By the time they leave, PK's completely sure they'll have an in with the Dark wizards they need to nab.

It kind of makes PK want to blow him. But then he remembers their bond and notices the way Carey's shoulders have gone a little stiff, and he stops thinking about it.

He wasn't sure what to expect from the night, which he thinks Carey did on purpose. It starts out like a normal night at a bar: they get beers and sit down, surveying the room. But instead of talking about his rodeo days or office news or something, Carey says, "Our plans should work out."

This, PK knows. Their cover is that they moved out to the suburbs to try to begin a business of selling enchantment-laced drugs. It's probably the most mundane thing the higher-ups could have thought of, but in PK's estimation, that's good. It makes them look small-time, and more importantly, it's easy to remember.

So they chat about drugs for awhile, and then a burly white guy sits down and says in French, "Did you like our gift?"

"It's a little inconvenient," Carey replies. His French is perfect; but then, PK thinks, of course it is. "But we're working with it."

"I'm sure you'll get rid of it eventually."

"Maybe we will," PK says cheerfully. "But it's kind of cool. I always wanted to be psychic."

Burly Guy frowns. Carey smirks.

"Anyway," PK says. He feels like he's warming up, and also a little like that feeling in the back of his mind is guiding him. "We're just here to have a few beers, make some business plans."

"No one makes plans around here without my boys knowing about it," Burly Guy says.

"Your boys?" Carey says.

Burly Guy glares.

"We're not idiots." Carey shrugs. "Come back with someone more important. I'm not interested in arguing with a lackey."

"We could end you where you sit."

"You could," Carey says, "and this building would come down around you. Do you think we didn't take precautions?"

PK doesn't let on that they didn't. Well, he didn't. Carey might be bluffing, but then, he might not be.

"Fine," Burly Guy snarls, and leaves as abruptly as he came.

"Precautions?" PK says.

"Later," Carey says.

PK can take a hint. He kicks back with his beer and surveys the room; if he does it really obviously, then Carey can do it subtly. He half expects them to get approached again, but they finish their beers without anyone coming up. PK does his best not to notice what people are doing in the many shadows of the bar; it seems to involve a lot of illegal-looking Potions ingredients and money changing hands over magically locked boxes of who knows what.

"That felt wrong," PK admits once they've Apparated back to the house.

"Oh?"

"Not doing anything about all the trading and stuff going on."

Carey shrugs. "You can't stop every crime you ever see."

"I can try."

"Sure," Carey says. "And you'll fail, inevitably. Let it go."

It's probably technically good advice, but PK's bothered by it. He knows Carey can tell, too, by the way Carey draws away from him just a little.

But it's unfair to do that to Carey, especially when they have so much work to do. PK sighs and says, "You're right." Carey is; PK just doesn't like it.

"I'm going to bed," Carey says. "We have to go sell some drugs tomorrow."

PK laughs, but Carey looks as serious as he ever looks. "Wait," PK says. "We have authorization for that?"

When Carey snorts, PK realizes he's been had. "We do have to pretend," Carey says. "But no, we don't have authorization to sell magic-laced drugs."

"I didn't know," PK says. But he kind of likes how amused Carey is. It's like -

Carey looks away and stands up from the couch. "Don't worry about waking me up," he says in clipped tones, and goes back down the hallway.

PK sighs and makes a face at himself. He's never had to keep it in his mental pants before, but it's kind of annoying that he's so bad at it.

He resolutely thinks of everything but Carey when he goes back to bed about an hour later. It's hard when he's ready to actually get into bed, though, because Carey's snoring a little and is spread out all over the bed. PK pushes his limbs to the side enough that he can get on the bed. Neither of them is small, and PK does actually need room. Despite his best attempts, though, he still ends up at the edge of the bed, and Carey's still touching him all along the length of his body. They should've gotten a bigger bed, PK thinks. Why bother with king beds when you can magically grow or shrink any bed as needed?

Still, it's kind of nice; PK's not the one who would hate any physical contact with Carey. He falls asleep quickly and doesn't dream.

He wakes up with what feels like thirty pounds of fur purring on his chest.

"She likes you," Carey says, so close to PK that PK smiles and enjoys the feeling for a second before opening his eyes.

The cat stares back. "Maybe we should name her," PK says, reaching up and scratching behind her ears.

"I've just been calling her Cat," Carey says.

"Oh, come on."

"You're welcome to name her." He feels Carey shrug. "She likes you better, I think."

"Nah," PK says, making kissy noises at the cat.

"She does. She's been staring at you for at least an hour."

PK laughs a little, then pauses. "Wait. Have you been staring at me for an hour?"

He barely manages to not react to the wave of indignation coming from that spot in the back of his mind he's already coming to think of as Carey. "Of course not," Carey says. "I've been drifting in and out."

"What time is it?"

"About seven."

PK stretches, then lifts the cat off and plops her in the narrow space between him and Carey. "We should get up, then."

"We won't hit the clubs until eight or so."

"Suburban drug dealing," PK says. "Kind of lazy, don't you think?"

"We're not actually going to be selling."

"Too bad. I could use some extra money."

"You get hazard pay," Carey points out. "And after Plekanec's front actually ended up being a real business..."

"I know, I know." PK sits up. "I was mostly joking, anyway. My father's a teacher. He'd be ashamed."

"I knew that," Carey says. He sounds so cranky that PK laughs.

"I'll make coffee," he says, pulling on some sweatpants and going out to the kitchen.

He could do it magically, but PK's dated enough Muggleborns that he kind of enjoys actually filling the coffee maker. Plus, some paranoid part of his brain wants to remind him that conserving magic is probably for the best right now. Burly Guy is likely not the most dangerous person they're going to encounter, when all's said and done.

When Carey doesn't come into the kitchen, PK takes both mugs of coffee back to the bedroom. Carey's sitting at the cheap-looking desk, reading through PK's notes.

"Thanks," he says, taking the coffee and tapping the rim to cool it off a little. He runs a hand through his hair, an action that makes it obvious that he's done it before in the past few minutes. "I don't know why I keep going over this information," he adds. "I know it all already."

"It's not bad to make sure," PK says. Carey doesn't look satisfied with that, though, and on top of that, PK can feel how discontent Carey is. So PK reaches out and tries to just kind of - nudge him, just a little, trying to make him feel better.

But Carey jerks upright and stares at PK, face pale. "Don't do that."

"Sorry," PK says immediately. "I thought it would help."

"It doesn't."

"Clearly." PK does his best to look contrite and not excited that he could even do it. "I really am sorry."

"Sure." But Carey looks grim, and PK knows he hasn't exactly won any points with him.

"Anyway," PK says. "Should we do some reconnaissance?"

"How do you think we'll do that? There are spells to detect most cloaking spells."

"Sure," PK says. "But if we send a few birds around, who's going to be the wiser?"

Carey looks at him with new consideration. "Go on."

PK grins, then taps his wand on a napkin and watches it change into a bird.

"It's not alive," PK says. "That's way too powerful an enchantment. But it looks alive, and if we make it listen..." He flicks his wand, then waves it. These days he can say the enchantments in his head, but this is quicker, and PK's never been tied to tradition the way the Death Eaters are sure to.

"Good point," Carey says. He sounds grudging, but PK grins - he knows Carey means it.

"Fly away," he says, lifting the bird. It flaps out the window, not lifelike at all, but close enough that PK's pretty sure no one will notice it.

"Have you always been good at that kind of thing?"

"What kind of thing?"

"Listening - or recording charms."

"Sure," PK says. "I mean, it's part of Auror training, isn't it?"

"Most people are pretty shitty at it."

"My dad's a teacher," PK says again. "He's pretty cutting edge when it comes to revamping how we think about magic."

Carey nods. "That makes sense."

PK waits for the sarcastic comment or implication that PK's going to fuck up, and it doesn't come. Carey's just looking at him, honest and open, with warmth coming through the bond.

This time, it's PK who metaphorically blinks first. "Okay, come on," PK says. "Be sarcastic or something."

"I'm not sarcastic that much."

"Liar."

"I just look sarcastic."

"That's so much better?"

"I think it is."

Carey looks so content, right here in the middle of an open investigation that could get them both killed by Dark wizards, that PK thinks he's going a little crazy. He pulls himself away, doing his best to dampen their mental link, before he does something stupid. "I'm going to go to the store."

"Manually?"

"A Wizarding-heavy community means there's still some Muggles around," PK points out. "Also, I need to clear my head."

"Keep a level one. This is just beginning."

"Well, we're already cursed." PK's smile isn't even forced; in a way, that really is good news. "How much worse could things get, really?"

As it turns out, a lot worse: this suburban grocery store has ten kinds of crackers and PK wants to buy all of them.

That wouldn't really be a problem, except Carey's kept him from buying too much junk on more than one occasion. He's hilarious about it, to the point where PK thinks he might be bribing PK's mom to tattle on him or something. How else would he know that the Auror trainers keep PK on a strict diet so he's as physically fit as possible? The spying and getting PK's mom to tattle is a fun side of Carey that PK finds himself thinking of wistfully, because the more this case winds him up, the more he turns into kind of a sarcastic asshole.

Well, and the curse is probably affecting him too.

PK picks out some groceries and makes it all the way out to the parking lot before the pain starts. It's acute and radiates out from his chest, shocking him so much he almost drops his bags.

No one in the parking lot is doing it. PK would be able to tell, not in the least because he's been on high alert this entire trip. PK makes it to his Muggle car, putting the groceries in the back and collapsing in the driver's seat. The back seat is empty, the car is warded, and the locks are down: it's as safe as PK knows how to make it. Which is good, because he's hurting so badly he can barely think.

He can't imagine what triggered this. It's a component of the curse, PK's pretty sure, but why it would be happening now makes no sense to him. Binding magic works to tie two people together, which means Carey's probably experiencing it too, but -

PK suddenly sits up straight, still shaking with pain. He's an idiot. It's binding magic, and PK's five miles away from the other target.

He drives back to their house in record time. The car has a cloaking spell on it, so it's not nearly as obvious to any potential Muggle police that he's speeding as it otherwise would be; but PK still feels like he's getting away with something when he puts the pedal to the floor and speeds for the house.

The pain starts receding as he gets onto the main road; by the time he's pulling into the driveway, it's entirely gone. PK's still shuddering as he takes his bags in, though (spelled so they won't weigh as much, because PK knows how to use his strength). He's not surprised to see Carey standing rigidly in the kitchen, with a white-knuckled grip on the counter.

"You're not still hurting, are you?" PK says, unable to stop the concern he feels.

Carey glares at him. "No."

"So. That sucked."

"We should've thought of it."

PK's not going to offer an excuse. He knows there's no one. Instead, he starts putting everything away, avoiding Carey as much as possible.

"We will next time," he says finally. "Don't say we won't. I know that look on your face. We will. We were thinking of it as an inconvenience; it's not. It's hostile magic. If Montreal were any other Auror department, we would've trained together before going into the field like this. But they're not, and they figured you being good would be enough."

Carey keeps glaring, so PK says, "Fine, me being good too. But we're both, you know, young, and we fucked up. It won't happen again because we'll make sure it won't happen again. That's a risk we're not going to take in the future."

He doesn't usually say things that long, so after that he clicks his mouth shut. He's kind of surprised when Carey's expression softens and he nods.

"You're right."

"I know."

"And an asshole."

"I know," PK says again, just quieter enough that Carey knows it's an apology to match Carey's admission.

Carey shakes himself a little, then says, "I'm going to go shower."

"Cool," PK says. He goes back out in the living room and pulls out a Muggle laptop. It's magically enhanced, of course, but the important part is it has all his files on it. Martin would never approve - he's strictly a parchment and, in a pinch, paper kind of guy - but Martin doesn't need to know about it.

He's going over the names. Mortimer, the right hand man; Touchette, the Potions expert; Savoie, an Animagus and generally nasty person; and Daraiche, the ringleader and man who directs the illegal movements of nearly fifty illegal businesses in Montreal and the surrounding areas.

It's not, on the surface, that impressive a list. PK knows that Muggles have much more impressive lists, for one. But it's a list that still gives him pause. All of these men have killed people, and all of them are really, really skilled with magic. PK would take him and Carey in most fights, but they haven't been at their best lately.

He really wonders if Martin is crazy, sending them out like this.

But that kind of thinking will just lead to them screwing up more, so PK pushes the thought aside and focuses on making plans. Burly Guy was, undoubtedly, a lackey; if they're going to pretend to sell drugs, the best they can probably do is to lure Touchette out. PK makes a note to have them go to whatever other underground, Dark wizard meeting places Carey knows of, and sow the seeds of rumors that they're working with previously unknown magic. He knows about many of Touchette's experiments, and it won't be hard to imbue the pills Touchette will undoubtedly demand to see with similar magic.

He's still mulling it over when Carey comes out. "Shower's free."

"I'll go in a minute," PK says absently. A touch of hypnosis, mixed with Touchette's modified Imperio, should get him what he wants.

"Are those our placebo pills?" Carey says.

PK glances up at him. He's standing there in a worn shirt and even more worn jeans, feet bare, hair wet and sticking up in spikes. PK's definitely not thinking about how hot he is when he says, "Yeah. I'm going to put some magic in them."

"That's illegal."

Carey doesn't look too mad about it. "I know," PK says. "It's also necessary. When Touchette finds out we've been selling drugs..."

"Potions," Carey says. "Right. But you're just using spells."

PK shrugs. "He used potions to achieve a similar effect. He doesn't need to know I didn't."

Carey whistles. "You've been busy."

"It'll be your job to really sell it to him," PK says. He stands up and stretches. "Okay, I'm going to shower. Then we should probably get caught doing something coupley outside before we leave to sell the pills."

"Sounds good," Carey mutters.

PK leaves him to be moody. He wants a shower so badly he's practically itching with it.

When he's dressed and ready to go, Carey's standing at the door. "Let's get a dog."

PK blinks.

"I'm serious," Carey says. "Cat left, so let's get a dog."

"You let her out?"

Carey shakes his head. "But she's not anywhere. I did a couple searching spells."

PK feels bad about it, even while he's wondering how she left. But Carey looks genuinely upset, so PK says, "Okay, sure. That's coupley, too, so it'll work out."

"That's what I thought," Carey says. "I can take her home when we're done with this."

"Sounds good," PK says. "I'll get my coat."

The adoption place isn't that far away. Carey, PK can see, is a little nervous. He can tamp all that down and not betray a thing when he's in Auror mode, but he relaxes a little around PK. PK's flattered, in between it making him nervous, too.

When they get to the shelter, the woman at the desk takes them to see the dogs. PK hangs back for the most part, watching as Carey goes from dog to dog, speaking to them in a low tone. He's so sweet like this that PK wants to make a joke about getting cavities - or he would, if he didn't think Carey would take it ridiculously seriously. As it is, PK just watches as Carey goes from cage to cage until he stops in front of a big mutt.

They look like they're going to be friends for life from the second the mutt gets out of the cage. She slobbers all over Carey, and Carey laughs, scratching behind her ears saying, "Hey, sweetheart, what's your name? Lacey? That's a good name for a monster like you."

PK's grinning when Carey signs the papers to take Lacey home. "This is going to be awesome."

"You're awfully optimistic."

"Optimism makes the world go round, Kev."

"Some of us don't believe that, Jake."

The shelter employee looks between them with barely disguised anticipation. "Everything appears to be in order," she finally offers.

"Great." Carey smiles at her. "Thanks."

It's not until they're in the car, with Lacey in the back seat, that PK says, "She seems nice. Lacey."

"Shelter says she's six months old." Carey smiles to himself as he pulls out of the parking lot. "I like her."

He sounds, hilariously, like he's confessing to some kind of crime. PK punches him in the shoulder and then reaches back to scratch Lacey.

They stop at the pet store and get all kinds of stuff for Lacey, then go home, careful to hold hands as they go up the steps and laugh like a couple as they haul all the stuff inside. He doesn't notice their company when they get back, not until she jumps up on the table PK has his notes on and meows angrily. "Whoa! Cat, I thought you'd gone."

She meows again, staring at him.

"You left," PK says. "You have to have left. How'd you get back in?"

She jumps off the table and looks up at PK expectantly. PK's not sure he wants to follow a cat's direction, but it can't hurt. He gets up and follows her out of the kitchen, through the living room, and down into the basement.

"Oh, boy," he says. There's a broken window, one that definitely wasn't there yesterday. He flicks his wand at it; the edges glow with magic.

It's a good thing he's not in the habit of using Carey's name much. "Thank you," he tells Cat, and casts reparo on the window.

After that, it's a matter of going around and disabling any listening charms. But there aren't any that he can see, and he knows that Daraiche and his gang aren't that good. He's pretty sure the broken window is either another test or a leadup to something, not the main event.

At least, he thinks that until he flicks his wand up to the ceiling, the last place to check. There's a small nail driven into the ceiling, and it glows when he casts the revealing spell.

That's not exactly the best news ever. PK frowns and casts accio, pulling the nail out and into his palm.

The easiest thing to do would be to throw it out the window, but PK suspects it would find its way back inside. Instead, he slowly unwinds the monitoring spell, drawing it out and removing layers of magic until finally the nail dulls and is just a plain nail in his hand.

He unlatches the window and tosses it outside, just in case, then recasts every security charm he can think of, watching as sparks race around the room and up. Carey will realize he's been up to something, then; but luckily, he's done. He pockets his wand and goes upstairs.

"You've been down there half an hour," Carey says. "What's up?"

"Broken window," PK says. "Did Cat come up here?"

"I thought she - no, there she is." Carey nods. PK turns around and sees Cat sitting at the top of the basement stairs, licking a paw.

PK laughs in spite of himself. "They really, really want to catch us out. Kev."

"Well, Jake, they're more than welcome to keep trying." Carey smiles narrowly. "It's almost three."

"Five more hours."

"Or thereabouts."

They look at each other awkwardly, then Carey says, "I'm going to go check the mail," and all but runs away.

They spend most of the next five hours playing with the animals in front of windows, making sure to touch each other just enough, and breaking for an amazingly domestic dinner. At eight sharp, Carey stands up.

"Time to work some magic," he says. He flicks his wand, and when the green light of a secure room flares, says, "At least you're dressed for the part."

"Oh, so we're playing to stereotypes now?" PK says, nettled. He's just wearing jeans, a v-neck, and a blazer. He'd like to think he doesn't look like someone who sells ecstasy mixed in with something a little extra.

Carey raises his eyebrows. "This is the assignment Martin wanted us to do. Anyway, give it a day and we won't be pushing pills. Hiding bodies, sure, but our days in the clubs will be over."

PK sighs. "Okay," he says.

"Good." Carey pauses, then adds, "Seriously. Just for a day. Maybe two."

"I know," PK says. "Believe me, I do."

Carey looks suspicious, which PK guesses is warranted. But he nods and goes outside.

PK takes a minute to think about just how little he's willing to compromise for a role compared to Carey. Then he pockets the baggies of pills and follows.

 

The club is nothing like the Dark bar they went to. For starters, this one is full of Muggles. But also, there are strobe lights and neon everything and a ton of really, really almost-naked people.

"Is this a rave?" PK yells over the thumping music. He likes it, and everything, he's always down for some Muggle rap, but still.

"Try to look like you've been here before," Carey yells back. He leads the way past the dance floor, past a bunch of tables, past the bar, and all the way back to a dark corner currently occupied by a really attractive pair of guys making out.

"This is it?" PK can almost speak at not-a-shout. Almost.

"Yep." Carey moves, and PK's eyes widen. He hasn't really done anything, just opened his legs a little, slouched, and lowered his eyes. He looks shady, sure, but he also looks hot.

PK barely has time to react before someone's passing them and Carey says, "Hey, you buying?"

The girl stops, the beats on her halter top jangling. "Who's asking?"

Carey smirks. His lips are full, PK thinks - then tamps down on it when Carey glances at him. "Why don't you show her," Carey says to PK.

PK pulls the placebo, non-magic pills from his pocket. "Ah, here it is. All the uppers you want."

He's sure he sounds ridiculous, but the girl just holds out a $50.

They did, at least, go over pricing. PK hands her five tablets and says, "Take one."

She rolls her eyes. "Thanks, Mom," she says, and leaves before PK has a chance to splutter.

He hears a laugh, and turns to glare at Carey. Carey just grins back. He looks so happy PK's a little offended. 'A little' turns into 'a lot' when Carey says, "That was cute."

"I'll get better," PK says.

"Uh huh."

Carey's flushed, PK can tell, and somehow it puts PK at ease. If Carey's enjoying himself, PK can probably relax, at least a little.

He sits next to Carey and watches people dance and go to and from the bar and the bathroom. It's not exactly exciting, but PK thinks he gets the appeal. Even more so when people come up and they sell them the placebos, until finally two burly guys approach them.

PK doesn't recognize one of them, but the other - looking uncomfortable in his jeans and t-shirt, shoulders tight in his blazer - is Mortimer.

"Well," he says, accent so heavily French PK suspects it's deliberate. "You have my attention."