Thanks to everyone who read and narwhayley for reviewing. Almost done (I think)…probably one more chapter after this one.


Where the hell could he be? Prophet crossed his arms over his chest and sighed. He hated to bother Garcia with this given that Emily had been found safe—and it wasn't like they weren't back in the middle of a stack of cold cases that actually needed to be solved—but it was a loose end, and it was irritating.

He was still staring at the board, debating whether it was worth bringing up with Cooper, when an arm looped around his neck, and he slammed an elbow back even as he threw himself sideways into a roll that would break even the most determined grip. Someone who had a weapon wouldn't have gone for his throat first, or at least he wouldn't have grabbed him by the throat, but that didn't mean he was in any less danger.

"Stop!"

Prophet heard Cooper's barked order, but he didn't fully process it until he was on his feet again, centered and twisting back on the threat. Except that it was a threat that wasn't because the only one anywhere near him was Mick, and he was on the ground with one arm clamped down over his ribs. Shit. Shit, shit, shit.

Cooper got to Mick while Prophet was still trying to calm the blood pounding in his ears, which was probably just as well, and the glare that Cooper shot him was more than enough to make Prophet decide to sit tight for a few minutes. Given the right angle he was more than capable of breaking bones, and while he hadn't gotten anything like his full weight behind the strike since his instinctive reaction had been to get away and didn't think that he could have done worse than knock the wind out of Mick….

After a few quiet words from Cooper, Mick moved the arm he was using to protect his ribs away to let Cooper to check them, and Prophet felt himself relax a little as Cooper's expression calmed after a few minutes of probing. And he breathed a sigh of relief as Cooper got to his feet a moment later, pulling Mick up with him. No way Cooper would have let him up if there was the chance he was actually hurt.

"What was that for?" Mick asked, turning towards Prophet, and if his words preempted whatever Cooper had planned to say, there was still more than a hint of accusation in his tone.

There was no point in trying to explain, and Prophet shook his head. "I'm sorry. I am so sorry. I didn't mean to do that to you."

"Well, you did." Mick's scowl wavered slightly. "Why?"

"I didn't…." Prophet shook his head again, running a hand across his face. "I didn't know you were there. I don't mind roughing around, I really don't, but I have to know you're there first. Grabbing me from behind, especially around the throat…it's not going to end well." Lashing out under those circumstances was survival instinct pure and simple, and he wasn't sure that it was something that he could quash at this point. Hell, his heart was still beating faster than it should be, and it wasn't just because he felt like crap for putting Mick down like that.

Understanding flashed across Mick's face a moment later—Mick's and Cooper's both, which was probably good for his long-term employment prospects although that wasn't exactly his major concern at the moment—and Mick flushed slightly. "Oh. I guess that probably wasn't the most intelligent thing I could have done."

"It's not your fault. I should have said something earlier." Because he and Mick had roughhoused before, it just hadn't occurred to Prophet to warn him about attacking without some kind of advance notice. Why would it when he'd been looking right at Mick on every other occasion? "Are you all right?" he asked.

Mick waved a hand. "I'm fine. Really. Just got the breath knocked out of me for a second. Lunch might have taken a bit of a hit, though."

Mick gestured behind him, and Prophet recognized the logo from the deli just down the street from the FBI campus on the bag on the ground. He shook his head. "So the salads will be really tossed."

Mick snorted and leaned over to grab the bag, and Prophet's eyes narrowed as he tried to see if he was favoring any ribs. He didn't seem to be, which was something, but….

"So what were you so focused on that you didn't hear me come in, anyway?" Mick asked as he straightened.

"Hm? Oh." He shrugged and tried to pretend that he hadn't been staring, waving a hand at the board behind him. Most of the other chalkboards had been erased and refilled with other notes, but this one still held some of Mrs. Addison's schedule. "I was just wondering where Mr. Addison was. I know Garcia was tracking down the rental car he got, but then we found Emily, and…." He shrugged again. "I guess it probably doesn't matter now, but I was thinking about it earlier, and it was bugging me."

"I can ask Garcia the next time I talk to her," Cooper offered, obviously making an effort to push past what had happened. "She's usually got a pretty heavy caseload, but if the trace came back with anything it wouldn't hurt to send the information down to Kentucky."

Prophet nodded in thanks—for both the offer and the effort—and then turned back to Mick and made his own effort to move on. "So did you get your results for the law exam back?" Mick had been cautiously optimistic when he'd gotten back from retaking it the other day, and Prophet had figured he'd done fine as long as he hadn't second-guessed himself too much, but he'd still had to wait for the official results.

"Oh. Yeah." Mick broke into a grin. "I didn't ace it, but I damn well passed. And I got my name right too."

Cooper snorted at that, and Prophet grinned. "Always a bonus. You're all caught up, then?"

"Well, I did get my hand to hand out of the way this morning—and let me tell you, man, he didn't make half as good an attempt to break ribs as you did—but there's still the driving test before I'm back even with the rest of them. Although I think I'm ahead of most of them on the web stuff. There's only the one we haven't done yet, right?"

Prophet nodded.

"Good on that, then." He smiled slightly as he dug their lunches out of the bag and passed them over. "No offense, Coop, I know you got as much of my stuff waived as you could, but I'm more than ready to be done. Didn't really like being stuck in this office while you were out there."

Cooper nodded. "It'll be good to have both of you in the field."

Prophet shot him a quick smile but didn't comment as he popped the top off his lunch. He was more than ready to be done as well, and hopefully he and Mick could knock off that last course after the game Saturday so he would be, but until he had the badge in his hand, he wasn't going to tempt fate. Part of him was still expecting someone to show up and veto it—and they legitimately could, too, despite the work he'd put in, given FBI regulations—and an incident like earlier didn't exactly make him feel any better about things. He had a feeling that his nerves were going to be raw for the rest of the day at least.


Prophet grinned down at Mick. "Well, the point is generally to end up touching the base, but I suppose it could have been worse. Last time you didn't go much of anywhere at all."

"Shut up, mate."

He shook his head and offered a hand to pull Mick to his feet. "Come on, how about one more try and then we call it for the day? If you get much dustier, no one is going to let us in to eat lunch."

"One more try as long as it ends with me touching the bloody thing," Mick said, catching the proffered hand.

"Fair enough." It hadn't occurred to Prophet until Mick had nearly wiped out the other team's second baseman—who, at a few years past sixty, was one of the oldest players in their league and not someone who needed to be taking body slams from twenty-some year olds running full speed—but although Mick must have seen people slide, he had no idea how to do it himself. Fortunately Mick had realized what was about to happen and had pulled himself up before they'd slammed into each other, but it had been close, and Prophet had ended up dragging him off to an unused kiddie field at the back of the park after the game for a lesson. Teasing aside, Mick was picking it up as quickly as anyone he'd ever seen.

And, fortunately for Prophet's lingering sense of guilt over putting him down the other day, he really didn't seem to be having any issues with his ribs.

"I'm fine," Mick said with a roll of his eyes, apparently catching Prophet's stare. And obviously interpreting it correctly. "You know, I don't really remember either of my grandmothers, but if I did, I'm sure I'd remember them worrying much less than you."

"Smartass."

"Well, yeah." He shrugged. "Seriously, man, I didn't think about it until later, but no way would I have tried that with Coop, at least not without expecting to wake up in hospital. And odds are I'd do the same if someone tried it with me. There's no reason to think you'd react any different."

Prophet wasn't sure what he could say to that—if he was even supposed to say anything—but Mick obviously considered the subject closed as he shrugged again and then backed up and took another run at the bag. This time he managed to make contact, possibly a little harder than intended, but definitely better than his previous attempt, and Prophet nodded. "Think you've got it. It's just a matter of sorting out distances once you've got the technique down, and that's experience as much as anything."

"Food, then," Mick agreed, holding up a hand.

"Right," Prophet agreed, tugging him to his feet again, and after a second of thought he wrapped an arm around his shoulders. "But if we just walk this way first, there's this nice little pond…."

"Oh, hell no." Mick obviously recognized the reference because he squirmed away almost immediately and darted back a couple feet. "Nice try, but I'm not going in any pond." He paused. "Besides, they definitely won't let us in if I'm soaked."

Prophet grinned. "Was worth a shot. And anyway, they'd let me in."

Mick snorted and then bounced back close enough to shove him. "Chinese? I thought I saw a little place next to the pizza shop."

"Sure, why not? You still coming over so we can finish that last web course this afternoon?"

"Hell, yeah. Wasn't joking when I said I wanted everything out of the way. But I tried testing out of the driving course yesterday and it didn't go so well, so you mind if we swing by the FBI course for an hour or two first?"

Prophet shrugged. "Fine by me. You might be better off running it with Cooper Monday, though, if another case doesn't come in. I did manage to test out of the course, but it was closer than I'd have liked. Apparently I drive a little aggressively for their tastes."

"Why?"

He shrugged again. "Just how I drive, I guess." Well, the fact that the person who'd originally taught him hadn't been an entirely upstanding citizen probably hadn't helped, but there wasn't much point in going into that. Mick had already gotten one up-close look at what the darker part of his past had left him with this week.

"Eh, it wouldn't kill me to run it twice," Mick said with a shrug of his own.