(1938-12-24) You're Antagonizing Me
Details for You're Antagonizing Me
Summary: Zack comes looking for help with finding his missing research, only his priorities aren't the same as the Aurors he meets.
Date: December 24, 1938
Location: Department of Magical Law Enforcement

If there's anything the Auror's office has learned since Shelley has returned to work since her accident - it's don't give her the filing. She may not be cleared for active duty, but find something - /anything/ - else for her to do. Just not the /filing/!
When she's not giving younger Aurors tips on their dueling, introducing them to her contacts, or helping them look over their cases for missed clues, she often finds herself taking witness statements. It's /something/ at least. It's useful. It uses some of her skills. It's not /filing/. She's just finished speaking with teenage girl and is showing her out into the waiting arms of her parents. The girl runs to her mother, wrapping her up into a tight hug, while Shelley puts on her best reassuring smile. "If we have any further questions, we'll contact you. For now, just take her home and fix her some tea."

Zack wanders into the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, wearing robes of midnight blue rather than his usual shabby ones. He looks quite uncomfortable, as he keeps tugging and pulling at them as if trying to get them to fit better, even though they're tailored to a perfect cut for him. As he walks through the department, his eyes dart about in search of someone. He probably shouldn't be bothering the Aurors, especially on Christmas Eve, but he spots Shelley and walks up to her. "I'm looking for someone," he announces without any sort of greeting. "But I've forgotten her name."

"Yeah?" Shelley asks, eyeing Zack down and then up again. "Which department she with? What's she look like?" She leans her weight back onto her right foot as she waits for his response, her posture taking on a slouch.

She has blonde hair and looks like a girl," Zack says. "I mean a woman. She works in this department. That's why I'm here. If she worked in another department I'd be on another floor." He looks around Shelley as if he thinks the person he's looking for might be hiding behind her. "So, have you seen her?"

Unfortunately for those in the MLE, duty constantly calls. Even on Christmas Eve. Cooper is currently standing before a large cork board of mugshots and secretly taken pictures, all of them connected to one another by various lines that also have notes about the relationship. She runs a hand through the blonde mess of hers and pushes her thick glasses up her nose until someone comes by and hands her a stack of papers, speaks some inaudible words to Cooper, points to Shelley and walks off.
One last glance at the board is taken and off she goes to pass off the papers to the consultant. "Merry Christmas, Shelley. I've got your favorite thing here," she grins at the woman, waving about the filing work. And suddenly realizing Shelley's talking to another, Cooper blinks and points to Zack in recognition, "Oh it's…uhm…you!"

"Well, yes, but there's the Aurors, the Hitwizards - even those numpties over in Misuse of Muggle Artifacts." Shelley's clearly in a tactful mood today.
As Cooper approaches, she eyes the papers in the woman's hands, then looks up into her face. "Hello - Connor, wasn't it?" Something like that. "Who was cowardly enough to pawn off the job of giving me /that/?" she asks, before reaching out to take the papers with a sigh. Well, a few more hours and she'd be going home, anyways.

Zack runs his thumb under the collar of his robes and twitches his shoulders with discomfort as he looks around. "What?" he asks Shelley, distracted. "That's too many titles. Oh, there she is!" He turns to Cooper and nods his head once. "Yes, it's me. I'm back. I went to St Mungo's like you said and I'm fine, just like I told you I was. So it was a wasted trip. Have you found where any of my research is? When can we go?"

"Close. Very close. It's Cooper," the auror corrects with a subtle half-grimace. Shouldn't she be used to this by now. But she a bright smile she replies, "It was Cohen. I do believe he's not too fond of flobberworms and his lunch bag may be in the lounge cupboard. Just an extra bit of information that perhaps may be useful to you." Okay, so she's falsely blaming it on Graham, but she would, for no reason other than her own amusement, like to see a bit more practical joking going on around here. "You can always leave filing for after Christmas."
But Zack utterly confuses her, those big blues of hers blinking away behind the thick frames. "I'm sorry…you're research? I thought you merely wanted to be accounted for as alive…Grotto hasn't been helping you?" Grotto being the hitwizard on Zack's case, who is unfortunately a lazy son of a bitch.

"Close. Very close. It's Cooper," the auror corrects with a subtle half-grimace. Shouldn't she be used to this by now. But she a bright smile she replies, "It was Cohen. I do believe he's not too fond of flobberworms and his lunch bag may be in the lounge cupboard. Just an extra bit of information that perhaps may be useful to you." Okay, so she's falsely blaming it on Graham, but she would, for no reason other than her own amusement, like to see a bit more practical joking going on around here. "You can always leave filing for after Christmas."
But Zack utterly confuses her, those big blues of hers blinking away behind the thick frames. "I'm sorry…you're research? I thought you merely wanted to be accounted for as alive…Grotto hasn't been helping you?" Grotto being the hitwizard on Zack's case, who is unfortunately a lazy son of a bitch.

"Cohen, huh?" Shelley asks, crossing her arms over her chest, paperwork still in hand. "He's a right disingenuous git, ain't he?" She shakes her head, and lets out a sigh, before giving Zack an odd look. The man just seems /off/. Still, she doesn't comment on his research - who /cares/ about research, anyways? Not Shelley, at any rate.

Zack, having informed one Auror about his research, assumes that all of them just know somehow. "Yes, I am alive," he says. "You should have noted that by now. But the Ministry always takes so long to do everything, so maybe not. Who's Grotto? Oh, that's the useless wizard that was supposed to work with me. I don't like him. Can't you help me instead?" He pauses with a frown, oblivious to any of the confusion or strange looks he's getting. "Cohen!" he says all of a sudden. "I've heard that name before. I don't remember where. It's probably a last name. I hate last names. They're so confusing. Who is that?"
Shelley has partially disconnected.

Cooper affirms Shelley's statement with a nod, "The most disingenuous." Step one, planting the seeds of in-office tension, complete. She is now just a tad closer to the MLE prank war she so dearly covets. A frown however graces her face when Zack mentions his displeasure at Grotto. "Yes I'm not surprised. He's not exactly the easiest person to work with. I wonder though if I'm the right person for the job …" AKA, Cooper doesn't want to be the one to handle the weirdo. She avoids his gaze only to be confronted with holiday cheer and the spirit of giving all around her.
There's a tad bit of reluctance to the way she bites her lip, but Cooper does indeed give in. "Right…I guess…I guess I can see what I can dig up. We'll likely need to update the information and re-question you about some things. Do you have time now?" And turning to auburn-haired colleague, she asks, "Shelley, you're rather good at research. This is Mr. Fudge. You may or may not remember, there was big to do about his disappearance last summer. Can you bring out his file and meet us in conference room one?"

"I have to admit - I wasn't paying too much attention to current events over the summer. But - well. I suppose it's good to see you more appeared than disappeared, Mr. Fudge," Shelley remarks. She studies the man a moment, thinking for a moment. Wasn't there a Fudge that Alis had spoken to her about occasionally? "I'll get the file," she agrees, turning away to ditch her pile of filing. And where was that damned Graham? Turn his nose purple - and see how long it took him to bloody well notice.

"Yes," Zack tells Shelley, "but don't call me Mr Fudge or I won't know who you're talking to. Yeah, like that. Don't do that. My name is Zack. I was declared dead in June. Or was it July? But I wasn't really dead, I was alive the whole time and living in Siberia. And now I'm back, but my research is missing. You're going to help me find it. Or someone from the Auror office is. Oh, yeah, Graham said he would." He nods at Cooper. "Yes, I have time. I have to go home later because it's Christmas tomorrow, but I have time now. You are the right person for the job. You knew about the protocol. Where's Graham?"

"Right. Zack…," Cooper clears her throat and throws Shelley a wide-eyed look when her colleague is corrected. After mouthing a quick thank you to the consultant, she says to Zack, "You can come with me." And through the maze of desks and paperwork they travel all the way to empty conference room one - a simple and small room with a table and a few comfy chairs. "While we wait for Shelley, may I get you anything to drink? Water? Tea?" Being a true gentleman, Cooper pulls on out and offers Zack to sit. "And also, you know Graham Cohen? Did you meet with him here before?"

"Zack. Alright," Shelley agrees, glancing back over her shoulder to address him. Yes - this was probably the same man she remember Alis talking about - a few years younger than them, as she recalled. "And he's hiding from me, if he knows what's good for him," the woman remarks, before she starts walking again. She drops the filing on her desk, and continues towards file storage to find what she could about Zack Fudge, and his supposed 'death' some months earlier.

Zack disappeared at the end of June when he blew up his secret laboratory, leaving a giant hole the size of a block in Ottery St Catchpole. He was presumed dead and only resurfaced a few weeks ago. Once he declared himself alive to MLE, he was sent off to St Mungo's to make sure he was okay, which he was. He now follows Cooper to the conference room, lost in his own thoughts. He sits down in the chair without any compunctions, folding his arms on the table and leaning forward on them. "You have tea? I'll have that. I like it with milk and sugar. Can you make it blue? I like it blue. Oh, yeah, I know Graham. He's the same person as Cohen? I met him in the Leaky Cauldron. He's Rhyeline's brother. I had blue cocoa there. At the Leaky Cauldron."

While the pair await Shelley's return with the files, Cooper head to the corner of the conference room where a small table is set up to provide anyone minor refreshments. "Tea it is, only I don't believe we have blueberry tea. Just English Breakfast, will that be a problem?" she assumes he was looking for the flavored tea and not actually blue liquid. A tap of her wand, water fills three teacups. Another tap of her wand, the water heats up in the cup. But the name Rhyeline is mentioned and Cooper drops one with piping hot water on her hands and herself. "Shite!" she exclaims at the burning sensation. "I apologize … , " she says anxious and grimacing at her hand, "I'll clean this up immediately … "

Shelley has long since learned that you don't go looking for files. No, that's too much of a bother. Instead, she enters the file room and pulls out her wand. "Accio Zack Fudge file," she says simply, instead. See? Much faster. She catches the file that flies towards her, and opens it for a quick glance, giving a curious look to the clippings from newspapers - both wizarding and Muggle - about the explosion and collapse. "Pretty impressive," she remarks to herself, before starting towards the conference room.

"Blueberry?" Zack asks, confused. "No, I don't want that. I want regular tea. With milk and sugar and colored blue. It doesn't have to be blue if you can't do it. So it won't be a problem." He watches Cooper fixing their tea, not really paying her much mind. "Why'd you do that?" he asks when she spills hot water on herself, as if she hadn't just likely burned her hands. "That's not how you make tea. Oh! Do you need to go to St Mungo's?"

An in the midst of the spill and the burn, Cooper quirks a brow at the particular request of color. "N-no, I'm fine. Just a slip of hand that's all," she says with some irritation, and is somewhat glad to see Shelley back. "Oh yes, his case right? He was just gone one day and now he's back," she says holding her non-burnt hand out to Shelley in order to get a closer look at the files. "Apparently, he's met Graham while off duty, and being the chivalrous man he is, offered to help Fudge here with this case. Zack, do you have a preference as to who helps you?" She pulls a chair out for Shelley to sit next to her as she talks to Zack, "Thanks for fetching these. You can help me hash this out with him. Can you set up a notepad and a self-writing quill while I read up on this briefly?"
And for a moment, Cooper sticks her head out the door to fetch the winter apprentice. "Eileen. Three teas. Bring the milk and sugar. Transfigure one blue. Don't ask me why. Just do it."

Shelley is happy to hand over the file, though she does take a moment to eye the spilled water, and give Cooper a curious look. "Have a spot of trouble Con- err, Cooper?" she asks. There. That was the name, wasn't it? And why are they transfiguring a tea- you know, she doesn't even want to know. Instead, she pulls out a notepad and one of the quills. It doesn't take long to activate the charm - just a simple flick with her wand, after all - after which she turns her want on the spilled water, getting it to evaporate before anyone can slip and knock their head on the conference table. That is /just/ what they would need today, and with Zack being how he is, it'd be almost guaranteed to happen.
In fact, she may count herself lucky if it doesn't happen even with the water cleaned up.

"I'm not chivalrous," Zack states, misunderstanding Cooper. "I don't understand chivalry. I'm not a knight. Weren't you going to clean that up?" He blinks as Shelley steps in and does it instead. "Oh, she wanted to do that. Too late. Oh well. I can spill some more for you, if you want." He stares off at the door for several seconds before remembering that Cooper asked him a question. "Oh, no. It doesn't matter who helps me. Actually, you should all help me. That way it'll get done quicker. I met with one of the members of my research team. They're getting impatient and want me to give it to them. My research, I mean." His brow furrows.

"Graham is chivalrous, not you," Cooper idly corrects him as she flips through the pages of the file, "And thank you for setting that up Shelley." Though he does manage to remind her to cleanup, and so not looking up from her papers holds her wand up to say, "Arificus." And the area where the water was spilled is dried up easily with a bit of a whirlwind.
Out loud, she internalizes the facts. "So something had gone wrong in your laboratory, causing the facility to be splinched to…Siberia, was it? There is now a sink hole on Harper Street." She pulls out an aerial photo of the area and sets it on the table, a deep dark spot to where the building used to be. "What project were you working on when the splinch happened?"

"Siberia's pretty high on the list of places /I'm/ never going," Shelley remarks quietly, before slipping into the seat she was offered, at last. She reaches over to the file, and starts helping herself to the papers, glancing over them with curiousity, her head resting on her hand and her elbow on the table.

"Oh," Zack says. "Yes, that makes more sense. He's more likely to be chivalrous, being an Auror. They're like knights. Except they don't carry swords or ride horses." Yes, I was sent to Siberia. So was half my lab. The half I was in. A lot of my notes and books landed up there too, but there are a lot more missing. And the team wants them back. They're getting very insistent. I didn't even know they knew I was alive, but they found me." He blinks at Shelley. "Well, you don't have to. I already know where that part of the lab is. It's the others I need, and they're not in Siberia. Well, they might be. It's a big place. Oh!" he continues to Cooper. "I was trying to develop a spell that would transport entire buildings and their contents to another location. Only it didn't work properly."

Cooper quirks a brow. "Your team … found you?" She frowns and flips through more and more pages, handing any of interest to Shelley for her to peak at. "This team of yours, were you all working on behalf of the ministry … or is this a private enterprise?" However, a nod in agreement goes to Shelley on the comment of Siberia. "Agreed. Seems like there's nothing there except snow and cold. Though let's not assume. We have someone who can tell us first hand about the place himself. Why did you stay in Siberia, Zack? Couldn't you have apparated to a nearby city of some sort? Asked for a portkey to be set up. Or you could have at least owled back to your team."
Young apprentice Eileen quietly slips in, set the tea, milk and sugar before the group - Zack gets the blue drink - and then disappears.

"Ya don't say," Shelley remarks dryly, when Cooper announces it doesn't work. /Ravenclaws/. They're always so… odd. "We probably should send a team to survey the area where part of the building appeared - to see if the rest wasn't too far off. And you, Mis- err, Zack, could see if there's any way to triangulate based on what you were doing, where you started, and where you reappeared, and predict the best places to search for the remaining building. Maybe the two halve sof the building shot off in opposite directions, but went the same distance?

"What?" Zack says, staring blankly at Cooper. "Why would I do that? I had to stay and secure my research. It took me months to search the area. Most of it was very close to the lab, but I didn't know that. So I had to figure out what I was missing and make sure I didn't leave anything behind. I have priorities. And that was only the stuff that went with me. I don't know where the rest is. That's what I've been saying. Oh, it's blue!" Pleasantly surprised, he picks up his cup of tea with both hands and drinks. "That would be a waste of time," he tells Shelley. "Sending a team to where I was. I already checked. You can if it's protocol, but it will still be a waste of time. Triangulate?" He pauses to consider that idea. "Oh, yeah. I could do something like that. I didn't think of that before. Oh, but it might not be in halves. It might be in more than two pieces. I had about a half, but who knows what happened to the rest of it." He peers at Cooper again. "Yes, they found me. My team. I don't remember them being so unfriendly when I worked for them. I need to get the notes back soon."

Cooper quirks a brow at his delight of the blue tea. Whatever makes him happy right. "Yes but it may have been easier to summon your team to help you collect what was missing." The idea of triangulation is a good, and Cooper peers over to the notepad to ensure the quill had caught it. "Anyhow Shelley, I'll have to take a closer look at the M.A.C. files and our own to see what they found on Harper Street when the scene was fresh. It'll give a good place to start figuring things out" Flip, flip, flip the pages, but pauses curious to know more about Zack's team. "Oh you never explained, Zack. Who do you work for?"

Shelley gives Cooper a look. Is this man /real/? Is he playing some sort of elaborate prank on them? She looks from Cooper, to the file, and then back to Zack. She's silent a moment before asking, "Did you try 'Accio Research'?" Yes, it's something blatently obvious, but he seems like the sort that would overlook blatantly obvious. "And, as Cooper said - and for future reference, if you ever find yourself on your own like that… The first thing you do is let people know you're alive, and that you need their /help/. We'd be months further along on this if you had." She picks up her tea and takes a sip, to prevent herself from mumbling under her breath.

"It would have?" Zack asks, surprised at Cooper's suggestion. "I didn't think of that." He frowns for a moment, drinking his tea. "I don't work for anyone. Not since the accident. Oh, do you mean before that? I'm not supposed to talk about it. We were secret. The man on the Committee for Experimental Charms introduced me to them. There were three of us. I mean three of them. And one of me. That makes four." He stares at Shelley in turn. "Yes. Isn't that what most people do when they want to summon something to them? That's how I collected most of it. But I didn't know how far it had gone. It could have been anywhere. Russia's a big place. So I had to search. And there were also the wards to deal with. The protective wards on the lab." He pauses. "Oh, is that the protocol? I didn't know. I haven't been trained in dealing with situations like this. I'm not a knight. I mean Auror. I'm not an Auror." He looks around the room. "Do you have a map? A big one?"

Cooper practically chokes on her tea when Shelley suggests the charm. A snort and then a clearing of her throat and she's back to business. "Man from the Committee for Experimental Charms … so does that mean you would have worked for the M.A.C. then?" she frowns, a finger pushing up her glasses again, "I mean it would have indicated in your papers if you a ministry employee." She purses her lips and looks at Shelley to see if she was hearing this mess about a secret.

Shelley can only grin at Cooper when the Auror splutters on her tea, shrugging her shoulders. It had been worth a try.
"Damn," she remarks simply.
"Well, did you catch the names of the three men?" she asks in a sweet tone of voice, while starting to rise to go get the map - she stops only halfway up, though, and takes a seat. She pulls out her wand, gives it a flick, and states simply, "Accio map."
From the other room they hear a protesting, "Hey-! Who just-!" A map flies into the room. It is, indeed, rather large. Large enough to take up most of the table when Shelley lays it out, at least, and showing the span of the entire globe.

"Who, me?" Zack says, confused. "No, I never worked for the Ministry. My father tried to get me to, but I didn't 'fit into that sort of life' or something. My team was private. I don't know all the details. I wasn't allowed to. I just did research. You'd have to ask the others." He continues to sip at his tea, staring into the cup where his eyes are reflected in the blue liquid. "See, it's an easy spell," he tells Shelley when she summons the map. "Even you can do it. Oh, their names? Yes, I know them. I worked with them. Only their first names though. I don't like last names." He stands up and, forgetting about the two women for the moment, places his hands on the table and leans over the map, studying it intently.

Cooper presses her lips together and rises to grab something from a cabinet in the conference room. Returning, she slides Zack over a tin of something that looks like chess pieces only the wooden shapes look different. She also gives him a tin of quills and an ink well. "Feel free to make whatever marks or place whatever pieces you need on the map in order to best illustrate what you mean," she says, sitting back down. "What're the three names of your team. And also, do you have any idea what measures your employer is taking to recover your research? Other than sending you to us, of course."

"Descriptions would also help - since you only know first names," Shelley remarks simply. She takes a moment to lean back in her seat, sipping her tea, curious to see what he would place on the map.

Zack scrutinizes the map, particularly over Russia. As he studies it, he absently reaches for the tin of wooden objects, as if he had expected it to be there all along, and pulls out a block-shaped one. "Their names?" he asks vaguely as he considers where to place it. "Giles, Piers, and Rupert. I don't know what they're doing. They didn't send me. I expect they'd be upset if they knew I'd come to you. It's supposed to be secret." He places the block in the far northeastern part of Siberia, quite close to Alaska. "Descriptions of what?" he asks Shelley without looking up. "Oh, my team? One had brown hair and a moustache. One had black hair and a moustache. The third had grey hair." He pauses and, perhaps unsurprisingly, adds, "And a moustache."

Cooper's tongue runs over her lips in thought, and a hand runs combs through her hair as she quietly lets Zack work out where is where on the map. "Now are they averse to working with the ministry in general? Or will they just be miffed that you came to us first without consulting them?" She stands moving around to the side of the table where Zack was working so that she too could have a look at the map. "Also, we'll likely need to gather a more detailed description of each member some other time. But in the meantime, which team member had which color hair?"

"Yes, but we're /aurors/. I'm sure it's not supposed to be a secret from /aurors/ - we're like knights," Shelley supplies helpfully with a smile. "And - yes. Definitely some more details. Fat or thin? Tall or short? Any distinctive marks or scars? What sort of wands did they carry?" Knowing the length and type of wood from a wand can be useful, after all.

They said I wasn't supposed to talk to anyone about them," Zack says as he takes up a quill and dips it into the ink well. "The Ministry falls under anyone. I assume they'll be upset that I told anyone. And the one who spoke to me the other day seemed angry already. And that was before I told him that I don't know where some of the research is." His brow furrows as he pulls the quill out of the well, leaving a big glop of ink somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. He doesn't seem to notice. Then he draws a line from England to the block he placed in Siberia. "Hmm? Yes, knights. That's why I came here. If I'm allowed to tell anyone, it'd be you. We can get to that nonsense of what they looked like later. This is more important. What other places are about the same distance from here to where my half of the lab landed up, do you think?" He points at England and his block in northeast Siberia respectively.

Cooper blinks a beat, unsure on how to react to those words. Her brows rise, and then furrow with irritation. "Wrong," she lays it down blatantly. And immediately, she plucks the the quill from Zack's hand before he can continue any further, "This map can wait." The quill instead goes back into the holder, and stepping forward, she crosses her arms to look at the eccentric wizard straight in the eye. "Let's make something clear. We are not knights. We are not some charity service that will help you recover you shite because it's the good thing to do in our hearts. We are human though. And we do get hurt. The safety of our people is a key priority in what we do. Therefore, if we're going to talk logistics and geography and agree to help you, you need to be able to tell us everything you know about your employer and everything about your team. That information is not nonsene. Because we not only need to make sure your arse but ours as well."
The usually bright and warm auror is straight-faced and heavy handed in this moment. She takes another step forward to point a finger at him, "Furthermore, sir. You are wonked. I don't know if you were always this way or if something happened to your in your accident. Regardless, I'm going to need to review the medical records at Mungo's for when you were checked out. Did you see a spell damage specialist? Perhaps someone who focuses on the mental effects of spell damage? If not, you need to see one. And an auror should be there accompanying you." Cooper leaves it ambiguous as to who. Because…she hates hospitals. Though she might end up being the one suckered into it.

It'll probably be Shelley accompanying him - though, at the moment, is leaning back into her chair, snorting, and hiding her grin behind her cup. It takes her a moment to get it back under control. "Alis was in his house," she remarks finally. "Just a few years older, if I'm not mistaken. Class of what… 31? 32? Unless I'm remembering wrong," which is always a possibility with Shelley, truth be told, "he's always been like this. I didn't have any first hand experience with him, though - didn't have much exposure to Ravenclaws in younger years."

"Hey, I was using that!" Zack complains as Cooper snatches the quill out of his hand. He takes a step back from her and bumps into the table and stumbles. As he listens to her, his brow furrows and his eyes settle on her left shoulder. "Yes, I know all that," he says to the first half of her tirade. "But-" But before he can continue she jabs her finger at him and he flinches and turns his body sideways to her. "What? I'm not wonked! You're wonked! I'm fine! I already went to St Mungo's to prove it. Yes, I saw a spell damage specialist. It was a spell that caused the accident. But it didn't do anything other than put me in Russia. Listen to her. She knows." He gestures in Shelley's direction, as the consultant has the right of it. "Thiry-one," he confirms. "I don't know who Alis is." He looks back to Cooper, frowning at her. "Why are you being so mean? I thought you were nice!"

"Because you're acting crazy," Shelley offers helpfully.

"Shelley, I don't care if he graduated in my class, in my house. We still need to make sure that he's been thoroughly checked if we're going to work with him," Cooper practically arm flails at Shelley. Her lumpy sweater seems to look even lumpier with all the frowning she's doing to Zack. "Let me present this situation in another light to you, Fudge. A man comes into the office telling me that he works for a secretive research organization that is angry with him for losing some work somewhere in the world. On top of that they may be angry at him for even coming to us about this - because you know it's a secret! But then he tells me that getting to know those secretive details are rubbish and that we simply need to just get to locating his work. Am I wonked for insisting that I know more? Or is the man wonked for thinking the rest of the information is preliminary nonsense?" She gives Shelley a look as if to say 'Am I the only one who thinks that's ridiculous?'
"Zack, I'm being better thank nice. I'm being real with you, which is much more than what any nice or mean person would ever do. So you need to tell me who it is you were working for, and whether or not coming to the Ministry will put you in any danger." There's some skepticism to this however. Somehow Cooper believes he wouldn't be aware if he was in any actual danger.

"I'm not arguing. It's a good idea. I'm just saying - sending an owl over to St. Mungo's to confirm he /was/ seen by spell damage specialist is probably sufficient, because the answer's probably going to be 'yes, saw him last week. Isn't he a strange bloke?' Remembering what Alis told me about 'Fudge' - this is pretty spot on for him." There's a brief pause, then a wide grin before adding, "She told some /really great/ stories about Fudge."

"I'm not acting crazy," Zack says, frowning. "You're antagonizing me." His shoulders twitch in an uncomfortable shrug when Cooper phrases her point-of-view another way. "I don't know. That's a hypothetical situation. I don't know who that man is." He keeps his face angled away from Cooper as he talks to her, as if he's afraid to even look in her direction. "Okay, fine. I'll tell you. But the rules are I'm not supposed to talk about the details. That's the rules. I didn't make them. I don't know what will happen if I break them." He fiddles with the collar of his robes again. "Alis sounds like a loudmouth," he remarks in response to Shelley. "What did she tell you?"

There are three in the conference room - Cooper, Shelley and Zack. A large map is spread out on the table, and Zack has been making marks on it - or had until Cooper snatched away his quill and started shouting at him. Shelley has been leaning back in her chair - trying not to laugh too hard.

Cooper pouts, in an almost child-like tantrum and insists, "I'm not antagonizing-" She inhales, sighs and pulls her glasses off to massage the bridge of her nose. Oh the Hufflepuff in her! "Okay. I'm apologize if it seems like I'm antagonizing you. But have you ever dealt with anyone who was likely under the Imperius curse?" And this question is directed out to both of them. "Because I have and it's led to a mess that could have been avoided if we had just done some necessary preliminary research." Placing her thick frames back on her face, she leans one handedly against the table to turn to Zack. "Technically you've already broken the rules by coming to us, right? May as well throw the rulebook out," she shrugs. "Who are you working for?"

Raised voices and excited discussions might be frowned upon as a rule in the MLE, but they are certainly not unheard of. However, the slight ruckus in the conference room is just about enough to cause one of the youngest Aurors a bit of concern. Rena was merely on her way back to her desk when she heard the heated discussion taking place - and she could scarcely help overhearing Cooper's words. Frowning slightly, the redhead timidly makes her way to the door and then pauses just outside for a moment. It doesn't exactly sound like an official meeting… Biting her lower lip, she raises her hand and raps softly with her knuckles. "Everything alright in there?"

The mirth in Shelley's features disappears in an instant, and she pulls herself abruptly half out of her chair and towards Zack, an angry expression on her features while allowing her tea to tumble to thr ground and spill. She doesn't quite make it fully to her feet - but she does pause in her half-raised position, glaring at the man, before she forces herself back into her seat. Her gaze remains fixed on Fudge for a few moments longer, before she forces her attention to the cup of spilt tea - a welcome distration. She pulls out her wand to deal with it.

"Apology accepted," Zack says. "You were antagonizing me. But it's okay because you said you're sorry. No, I haven't worked with anyone under the Imperius Curse. I'm not an Auror. And I'm trying to do research. That's my job. That's what I was trying to show you." He waves his hand at the map. "Research." He frowns again when Cooper throws a technicality at him, but he can't argue with it. "I don't have a rulebook," he mutters. "But okay. I'll tell you. The leader of the team was called Giles. He was the one with the grey hair. And he had a beard. And he sometimes wore glasses, and he usually wore forest green robes, and he was older than me. Much older. And his wand was brown and long and bendy." He starts when Shelley almost seems to lunge at him, and he staggers away from her in alarm. "There's someone at the door," he says, unsettled. "And you spilled your tea."

Cooper stiffens her jaw, the desire to sock Zack in the kisser very much apparent in her eyes, but at least he's cooperating now. "Okay hold on a moment. I want to do want to hear details about your team, but not yet," she nods, crossing her arms and sitting on the edge of the table now. Progress finally. "I want to know who you spoke to at the Committee on Experimental Charms, and the name of the company or entity that hired your team to do research. We already know that you were working on a spell that would transport entire buildings and contents to other locations. What's their interest in such a spell?"
Although she can concentrated on taking some sort of forward step with this, Zack's recognition of Rena's entrance also calls Cooper's attention to the door. "Yes, we're fine. What is it?"

Still concerned - but possibly not so concerned with raised voices as treading on people's proverbial toes now, little Rena creaks the door slightly ajar and peeks around the edge quite timidly: "It's just me, Cooper," She offers lamely in a small, uncertain voice. Stepping more fully into view, she glances over Zack and Shelley furtively, adding quickly: "I was afraid something bad 'appened or a fight, I…" Rena's gaze falls embarrassedly and she shakes her head, seemingly ready to withdraw from them: "I'm sorry I disturbed you."

With a wave of her wand and a quiet word, the cup floats back to her hand, and the tea refills it. She sets the cup down, however - now that its contents have been all over the floor. Ugh. "No need to apologize, Miss Lee. Thank you for checking on us," Shelley replies simply, as she tucks her wand away out of sight.

Zack frowns at Cooper, confused. "You just said you wanted me to tell you!" he complains. "I don't remember who I spoke to on the Committee. I only spoke to them once and it was six years ago. My father introduced me to him. I can ask my father what his name was. After that I just spoke to Giles and the rest of the team. I don't know who hired the team, and I don't know why they wanted a spell like that. No one told me. I just worked on making the spells, which was my job. That's all I cared about. That's all I still care about! I just want to find my research. You have to ask Giles. But you mustn't. I'm not supposed to have told you." He looks around at Rena when the door opens. "Something bad has already happened. But we're trying to fix it. Apology accepted."

Cooper purses her lips once more in thought as Zack divulges the details. Though she does let him talk and in turn she spends time quietly listening with her arms crossed, letting the self-writing quill capture the conversation. "Okay, yes. Please find out who that Committee member's name is and tell us," she nods and continues to listen. An informational dead-end, unfortunately, when Zack admits to not knowing something. "We will likely have to talk to Giles if possible. Also, if we help you find your research, we will end up knowing what your work was about," she mentions.
And suddenly another head obtrusively pops into the conference room above Rena's but this time it seems it for something dire. "Coops, you're on the Lachance case right? You're needed now," a plump and ruddy middle-aged man says to the blonde auror, who grits her teeth at the news. Turning to her company she says, "Excuse me, I'll need to step out for some time. Shelley, if you could get physical and wand descriptions of Ruper and Piers that would be excellent, as well as more information on Fudgey's research here. And I don't know, anything else you find pertinent." She gulps down the rest of her tea and begins to head out the room, "I'll be in touch, Zack." And out the conference room she goes, throwing a bright 'scuse mee' grin as she passes Rena. Looks like she back to regular impish Cooper mode.

Still quite uncertain as to whether she ought to stay or go, Rena edges indecisively out of Cooper's way as she makes her own exit, offering a weak half-smile. Despite Shelley's reassuring thanks for checking in, the young Auror is rather troubled (to say the least) by Zack's remark. Maybe it's none of her business and she'll be booted from the room unceremoniously for butting in, but she has to ask: "Is there anything I can do to help?" She dares to inch a little closer now.

"Do you have a shoelace?" Shelley asks Rena - without offering any explination for a question. "How are you at drawing?" She's settled comfortably into her chair again, showing no sign of her brief fit of anger, and just as happy to pretend it never happened. She regards Zack in silence for a moment before asking, "Why don't you go ahead and describe - in the most detail you can - anyone else you came in contact with through your research, who may have been associated with your employer in any way."

"I'll ask my father," Zack tells Cooper. "He should tell me now that he's talking to me again. But yes, you should help find my research. You'll learn a lot that way. And I'll get my research back. You shouldn't talk to Giles. It's not allowed." He looks around again when someone else sticks their head in the door. "We're having a meeting," he mutters, pacing back and forth on his side of the table. "Can't they see we're having a meeting?" He glances at the remaining two Aurors after Cooper has left. "Yes," he tells Rena. "You can help me track down my secret lab. Or parts of it. I'm trying to figure where else in the world they could be based on the distance they traveled." He pauses, frowning at Shelley. "I told you, there were only three of them on the team: Giles, Piers, and Rupert. I already described Giles. Piers was the one with the black hair and moustache. He was dark-skinned and looked very athletic. He didn't do any research, he just lurked about the place, watching. Rupert was another researcher, like me. He was older than me, but not as old as Giles. He had the brown hair and moustache. And a lot of stubble. And he liked to drink. His robes were like mine. My other ones, I mean. The ones I work in. Not these." He gestures irritably at the midnight blue robes he's currently wearing, which actually look quite dapper. "The other ones are brown and patched and faded. Good for wearing while experimenting."

Now, Rena almost regrets having asked.

Instinctively, she looks down at her shoes and realizes that she hasn't any laces to offer. Also, she has no talent for drawing. However, she does remark to Shelley: "I've got a friend who is quite a talented one for sketching and drawing. But…wh.." She begins to ask. Then Zack lets loose a flustered torrent about what seems to be an extremely complicated and confusing case at first listen. Blinking, she has to take a moment to consider her words carefully before formulating a reply in her somewhat stunned state. "This sounds as though a formal case ought to be opened. All the details worked into a file. It sounds serious."

"We have his file from when he went missing. Finding him, finding his lab… All part of the same case, since they went missing together," Shelley explains simply. She glances at Zack, while the quill keeps scratching away without anyone's attention. "How tall was each of these men? Did they have any distinguishing marks - scars, moles, tattoos?" As she talks, she leans over and starts removing the lace from her /own/ book.
She'd just wanted to see if she could get Rena to hand over hers. Pity the girl doesn't have any.

"It is serious!" Zack says. "That's what I've been trying to tell you! I know where half of the lab is, it's in Siberia where I left it. It's the other half I need to find. I'm not giving my research to Giles until I have all of it. He has to wait, but he's getting impatient." He glances at Shelley, distracted. "What? Oh, I don't know. Giles and Piers are taller than me. Rupert is about the same height. That's all I know. Oh, and Rupert has a cut along the left side of his face, near his eye. He says it's from one of the spells he was working on. Why are you taking off your shoes?"

Rena remains nonplussed and confused - doubtless to the frustration of Zack and Shelley if they begin to realize it by her expression. "It it is an open case then?" She asks uncertainly. She doesn't quite seem to know what's what anymore. "Is it your case to follow up, then?" She then asks, shifting her glance over to Shelley as the woman begins to remove her boot from her foot. Needless to say, her brow furrows a little at the action, wondering what on earth her senior officer is up to.

"Technically - I don't get to have cases of my very own quiet yet," Shelley responds - carefully keeping the bitterness out of her tone. She'd wanted to break his nose, just for calling Alis a loudmouth. Maybe there was a good reason she wasn't allowed out on active cases. With her shoelace off, she takes one end and pins it on London - where Zack's labratory had disappeared. She stretches it out to Siberia next, picks up a quill, and draws a large circle on the map. A /very/ large circle. She eyes it with a frown on her features.
"Now. If we work on the assumption that the other half stayed intact, and was thrown an /equal/ distance… Then that's where we search. That line." She eys the parts that cross over oceans. That could pose a problem. "On the other hand, magical theory - not my strong suit. So I need you to tell me, Zack, if this little theory of mine even has any merit."
Circle accomplished, she unpins her lace, and starts putting it back into her boot.

"The case belongs to someone called Grotto," Zack says. "But he's useless, so I need someone else to help me. Or more than one person." He watches Shelley draw a circle on the map, his brow furrowed. "I can think of two ways it could work. Distance, where the other parts are in some place equally far from Ottery St Catchpole, or similar environmental characteristics. It depends on how the caster framed the spell and how he thought of the destination in his own mind." He frowns at the circle Shelley's drawn. "That's not right. The world is round, not flat. Those distances look wrong. Can't you transfigure it into a globe?"

Well, that answers that question. Now they all know what the bootlace was for. Rena feels quite foolish..deservedly so.

The younger Auror moves in closer to watch and listen to the others as they attempt to plot and theorize about the situation. Concerned eyes drift between Shelley and Zack, and Rena finally remarks: "I'm sure that the case can be transferred. I would be glad to volunteer - unless of course the boss wants to assign someone else to the case. Maybe Ms. Prewett can 'andle it so long as someone else is along to assist?"

"Mmm. Maybe," Shelley answers Rena uncertainly, before looking at Zack with an almost horrified look on her face. "Oh, /damnit/. Yer right." She stops lacing her boot and stares at the map in thought. With a muttered word and a flick, the map rises up, forming itself into a neat little globe which hovers just over the table - and shows how terribly malformed her line is. "Ugh. That's horrible. Another motion has her 'circle' fading out from the map. "Why didn't I think of that? And also - weren't /you/ the caster? So was it based on distance, of the characteristic of the place of your arrival? It if was just supposed to go to somewhere 'cold and snowy' we might be stuck checking the damned south pole."

"Yes, I know," Zack says when Shelley tells him he's right. He watches her fix the globe, and his eyes study it as it takes form. "Yes, I was the caster. But it was an accident. I didn't intend to blow up the lab or land in Siberia or lose half of the building. I'm not an idiot. Obviously, since I landed up in the cold tundras of Russia, I was either thinking of a far away place, or somewhere chilly. Or maybe both at the same time. It's experimental magic. Do the shoelace thing again." He looks to Rena as he waits for Shelley to draw. "I want someone competent to handle it," he tells her. "Otherwise I'm just going to go looking by myself. It's probably better that way. I'm very smart." This time the circle will cut through Siberia, western China, northern India, central Africa, diagonally across the United States, and southwestern Canada and Alaska.

Zack appears to be somewhat focused and yet very absent-minded in many ways. Maybe he didn't mean it as an insult when he voiced his need for someone competent to take over the mission, but Rena's expression becomes quite crestfallen.
Abashed, she takes a step back and gives the others their room to work, folding her hands before herself meekly. It's tempting to just turn and sneak out the door. Nobody would notice - probably. But… no. Determination shows in her dark eyes, and she quips from the sidelines suddenly: "'Ere, well, at least you didn't cut any 'igher up north. Elsewise, we'd 'ave 'ad to nip up to the pole and ask Father Christmas for directions."

"You can't remember what you-" Shelley starts, then cuts herself off. "You know what - forget. I am entirely the wrong person to ask that question." She pins her shoelace onto the map-now-globe, draws a new line, and admires the results. "Well. What if you were thinking of distance /and/ cold? Maybe we should check Alaska and Canada? I hear Canadians are lovely - not so sure about the Americans, but I suppose we'll see." She glances up at Rena, then lets out a snort. "I wouldn't mind his help."

"The North Pole is closer to England than Siberia is," Zack informs Rena without taking his eyes off the globe, oblivious to the idea that he might have insulted her. "It would have to have been a much higher circle. And I don't think it would have ended up in the ocean. That wouldn't follow any logic at all, unless the ocean environment was like the Siberian tundra." He glances at Shelley. "Yes, that's possible. You should have your people examine each of the regions this circle passes through and make a list of which environments are similar. Alaska and Canada would be first on my list, but it's better to be thorough." Then he abruptly turns away from the globe. "I have to go home now. It's Christmas Eve and I'm supposed to be with my family." He starts for the door without saying goodbye, intending to just walk out of the place unless anyone stops him.

"I say," Rena begins to speak, somewhat excited now (and completely ignoring the pointed geography lesson given by Zack.) "I know a Canadian gentleman! A magizoologist. E's a very good friend of mine." How this is even remotely helpful is difficult to say… not that there's any point. Zack is already on his way out the door before she even has a chance to finish her train of thought. "Erm - Goodbye, sir. The case will be looked into, you 'ave my word!" She offers by way of trying to sound reassuring, however, she quickly turns to Shelley with a nonplussed shrug, quirking one eyebrow questioningly.

"Hey!" Shelley calls after him. "Fudge! It may be safer for you if you stick around!" If these friends of his are starting to get /angry/ about the missing research… But they certainly don't have the authority to force him to stay. It is his life, after all.
She glances at Rena, catching her look and shrugging in response. "He's always been a little…" she twirls a finger near her head. "You can't take offense to a thing he says."

"My name's Zack!" Zack calls as he walks out the door. "I'm going home now!" And then he's gone.

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