Credit for these headshots goes to MoonDuckSamurai at DeviantArt, and I can't recommend him enough!

Jeff Allero placed his hand gently on another patron's shoulder and muttered a quiet "Excuse me," as he pushed past him without making eye contact. He finally reached the bar and smiled at the aging barmaid. "Couple Firewhiskeys?"

The aging barmaid smiled back at him, nodded, and turned around to get the drinks. Meanwhile, Jeff looked over his shoulder and took in the scene.

It was storming outside, the crashes of thunder and lightning making it difficult to hear the person next to you, and yet every now and again he could still make out bits of conversations from the other patrons. Three large men sat at one table, discussing their jobs, which judging by their muttering and complaining, entailed a good deal of heavy lifting.

In a corner were two men and three women, who were constantly looking around the room, a dead giveaway they were involved in something illegal. Jeff didn't mind the storm, not tonight, anyway. It was his night off and he was going to enjoy a drink with his friend without worrying about anybody trying to curse him off the face of the earth. It was a night to forget about the war. He turned back to the bar as the woman handed him his drinks.

"That'll be eight sickles," she told him. The information was unnecessary though, as Jeff had long ago memorized the drink prices at Wanda's. He handed her the coins and sighed as a loud yell came from a table in the corner.

"Hey you trying to get lucky? At least drop off my drink before chatting her up."

Jeff shook his head, "Two drinks and he's off his ass?" But both he and Wanda laughed as he said it.

"At least you know I don't water down my drinks," Wanda sympathized. "Well, go give baby his bottle then."

"Right, thanks."

As he turned and walked away he heard her call, "But I still want to hear about that mission to Taiwan, then maybe you'll get lucky!" He raised the bottle in his right hand in acknowledgement as he crossed the bar to his friend at their table.

Jeff caught a pair of eyes watching him as he walked. He knew he seemed out of place here, but that was how he preferred it. At eighteen, he was significantly younger than most of the other patrons. His youthful face, sandy hair, and lack of three foot beard set him apart from the other Wizards at Wanda's, yet standing out was fine here. He and his friends had chosen this particular spot due to the characters that frequented it, not despite them. Jeff knew several of them were probably contemplating robbing him at this very moment.

But that was fine. They could think whatever they wanted. The important part was that no one ever said anything. It was an unspoken rule – no questions. Jeff, like many of his friends, had a difficult time explaining what he did for a living, as well as the bruises, cuts, burns, and scars that came with the job.

Here, no one asked. No one cared. And that suited the young STRIKE agent just fine.

He sat down across from his friend and handed him his drink. He said, "Thanks" and quickly uncorked it and drained nearly half of it.

Apparently, Kevin Remmer was going to enjoy his night off too. He glanced out the window, at the same time a bolt of lightning illuminated the street outside.

"Man, I'm glad we have tonight off," Kevin muttered. "Death Eaters are bad enough, and I really don't feel like fighting them in a hurricane."

Jeff took a sip of his drink and looked out the window too before saying, "So you think Michael can handle that mission alone, then. You don't think we should have gone?"

Stung, Kevin told him "Well I offered to go to, but he said that he could be stealthier alone and that he would do it himself."

Smiling at hearing the answer he expected he said "Well, if there was one person I would trust to take out a building full of Death Eaters, steal some stone, then get away with it, it would be him…unless he breaks his damn collarbone again, the jackass."

Sitting down his now empty bottle, Kevin asked "So do you actually know what this stone does then? I've heard a bunch of rumors, but I don't know what to believe, and Michael didn't tell me before he left. It was odd, he usually tells us about his missions before he leaves. Well, at least the ones where we aren't running the risk of coming home in pieces too, that is," he added thoughtfully.

Jeff turned slightly red. In all honesty he knew exactly what their friend was out doing tonight. But he knew Kevin was not one of the few who knew the details of the mission he, Michael, and their friend Sarah had been set. He decided he had to lie.

"You're right", he finally said, "it's weird he wouldn't tell us what he's doing. I think it may have something to do with our next mission. You know, the one to the school," he added significantly.

Kevin smiled as he signaled for anther drink and said "That's right, Michael Jacobs, youngest person ever to be made Captain, is going back to school. I honestly thought he was just going to tell the other Captains to shove it, it wouldn't be the first time."

"Yes…but the alternative was 'looking for' escaped 'Death Eaters' in Antarctica…" Jeff said, before mentally adding, "there are other benefits too though…."

Jeff also raised his empty Firewhiskey and saw Wanda nod and grab second bottle. He privately knew why Michael had accepted such a boring mission, but after all Michael was doing to keep his cover, he supposed he had better do something too.

"You know why he accepted that assignment right?" Kevin said. Jeff narrowed his eyes. Kevin looked very certain of himself…. "He's after a girl." Jeff flushed a little.

"What makes you think that?"

"Well, he just broke up with Tilly out of the blue," Kevin said slowly. Jeff said nothing; Michael had only trusted himself and Sarah with his secret. Kevin was a good friend, but if word got around STRIKE of what Michael had done…being demoted would be getting off easy. Did Kevin know? "I think he just wants a new girlfriend. Course, that won't be easy, dating someone outside the organization never is…but I think he's looking to find someone in a place where he hasn't run all the girls off yet!" He laughed as Wanda delivered their drinks.

Hearing Kevin's tone and words relaxed Jeff immensely. "Well then," Jeff said as Wanda walked away, "let's just hope he doesn't get caught by Bellatrix and end up turning into her boy toy or something."

Shaking his head, Kevin said "Yeah I know she's a monster and all, but I don't think she can do that mate."

"Then you just don't know her that well."

"Thank God I don't."

"Cheers," Jeff said as they clinked their bottles and turned their thoughts to something other than psychopathic Death Eaters.

"By the way..." Kevin said ominously. Jeff looked curiously at him. "Speaking of ever gonna get together with Sarah?"

"Yeah, I'm stopping by her house to fool around after this," Jeff replied sarcastically. He snorted. "Me and Sarah? Why?"

"She's hot," Kevin shrugged. "And cool, why not?"

"I don't know," Jeff said iritably, waving a hand at Kevin. "We're just not... Hell, me and her are friends, okay? Plus she yells…oh and her parents think I'm a bad influence. I'm not!" he added, taking a large gulp of the alcohol.

"So I can date her then?" Kevin asked, smirking and raising his eyebrows.

"Don't see why not," Jeff said indifferently, taking another drink and shutting his eyes.

"Brilliant," Kevin said quickly, standing up and brushing his shoulder off. "Seeing as how you don't care."

"You can ask her out if you want," Jeff said easily, his eyes still closed, though his wand was now pointing up at Kevin. "But she probably won't go for a guy with tentacles for arms."

"Checkmate," Kevin smirked, dropping back into his seat. "Little tip though. If you do want to end up with her, you should probably stop commenting on her boobs and butt every time you see her."

"Why?" Jeff asked in surprise, opening his eyes and staring blankly at Kevin. "They're nice compliments..."

"Yes, 'nice rack' is such a nice thing to tell a girl," said a sarcastic voice. Sarah Crystalake pulled a chair out from under the table and fell into it next to Jeff, holding a drink and taking a sip. "Even if it is true."

"Hey Sarah," Jeff muttered. "Don't drop into that seat so fast, you might damage your best asset."

"Do you want me to remove your mouth again?" she asked menacingly, waving her wand in front of his face.

"I'm bored," Kevin grumbled. He set down his empty bottle hard on the table. "Let's go do something."

"I just got here," Sarah said indignantly. "What the hell?"

"It's not our fault you took twenty minutes getting here," Jeff said, standing up.

"No, it's my parents'," Sarah said, sounding deeply annoyed. "My mom dragged me to one of her stupid 'get togethers' again. I seriously don't get why she always makes me go to that crap.

"It's so annoying! I have to get a Portkey to America and back, just so I can go to my mom's waste of time get-togethers and find a husband..."

Jeff and Kevin both choked on their drinks. Jeff blinked, looking furious. "A WHAT? You're seventeen! Why the hell are you getting married?"

"I'm not, calm down," Sarah said coolly. "My parents are just from that generation, Purebloods their age are used to that stuff. My mom's just got it in her head that 'a respectable young lady should have a suitor,'" she said scathingly.

Kevin kicked Jeff under the table; Jeff outright hit him in the arm. But then his face relaxed and he laughed. "Well then, there shouldn't be a problem. I see no 'respectable young lady' anywhere."

Sarah rolled her eyes. "'s not like my parents are really pushing it or anything, it's just annoying."

"Hey, your mom's a classy lady!" Jeff said angrily.

Kevin rolled with laughter, but Sarah snapped, "What the hell? You just think she's good looking, which is disgusting, by the way."

"We're not related, what's bad about that?" Jeff demanded.

"So it's okay if I 'accidentally' give your brother a show in that skirt you always comment on?" Sarah asked coolly, raising her eyebrows.

"I will hit a girl," Jeff seethed.

"Two things," Kevin said quickly, trying to keep the peace. "Yes, Jeff, is the fucking worst, we all know that. Sarah, you could beat Jeff like a Death Eater in Ministry custody, so calm down...or else you'll really go off when I tell you why Jeff had been practicing Disillusioning so much lately."

Sarah spun to look at Jeff, her face furious and her wand pointed straight at him. "And why might he do that?"

Jeff looked desperately around for an escape, but the only way out was past Sarah, who was glaring a death sentence at him. He grinned very weakly. "Because, uh, cause..." He looked urgently at Kevin, who was still laughing. "Cause...I like boobs?"

"I think I can help you there," Sarah whispered.

Jeff and Kevin exchanged stunned, nonbelieving looks, then Jeff turned to Sarah and said tentatively, "Um, okay... Let's see em."

"You got it," Sarah whispered dangerously. And she waved her wand sideways across Jeff, still seething. Jeff looked down in horror. Kevin laughed even louder.

"He he," he said, pointing gleefully at Jeff. "You've got boobies!"

"Am I supposed to be mad about this?" Jeff asked mildly, admiring the new additions, or at least appearing to.

"Maybe not that," Sarah shrugged. "But there are other things you may miss."

His look of glee changing to one of horror, Jeff quickly looked down. "Wait... wait... you didn't... you couldn't..."

"I did," Sarah said lightly. "So what do you guys want to do?"

"Have all my... stuff!" Jeff said angrily, brandishing his wand at Sarah, who looked at it coldly.

"You don't have the balls to hex me," Sarah smirked, knocking his wand away with a small smile. "Literally."

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