Greg's vision :
Hodges merlin crystal thermal ice shivering hostage arms-wrapped-around-chest hair- hood-that-covers-ears bright-flash, cave, darkness, changing. Heartbeat sounds, flying, spinning, shooting colors. Psychic flashes.
Greg had his second flash and Emilia and Grissom were waiting on him to come back out, tape recorder ready for whatever he saw. He shook his head. "Why am I seeing him? Usually it's only my personal safety, or that of the family."
"I don't know, Greg, maybe it'll impact the family," Emilia said gently, stroking his arm. "What did you see?"
"It was kinda abstract. I saw Hodges. I saw someone taking him... to a cave I think. Somewhere nearby. They were like us, doing magic on him. He was supposed to change somehow, not sure about that part or why, but they wanted to make him change. If he did then they'd have a way to get psychic flashes of their own. I got a lot of psychedelic looking flashes this time. Lots of colors, a hood that looked like fur or hair that covered his head. I saw sparkly wings like on fairies in the stories." He shuddered. "That's just too odd."
"When, Greg?" Grissom asked gently. "How soon?"
"Um, this week sometime, right before the full moon. They'll have to start the process during the full moon. Thursday maybe? That's the first night and they wouldn't be able to keep him for very long in that cave. For some reason I think they're changing him more than once, like setting a baseline change and then changing him so he can switch back and forth."
"That's fine, Greg. Did you see who was going to do it?" Emilia asked. Greg shook his head. "Did you get a sense of the kidnaper and wizard at all?"
"It's someone I know," he offered. "Not real well but I've run into them in the past." He looked at her. "I think that they're singling him out because there's someone or something magical in his past. I can't be sure where though."
Emilia gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek. "Any other details, Greg?"
"No, that's all I'm getting. Oh, a crystal. There was some sort of crystal involved."
"That narrows down how they'd do it," she offered. "Anything else? Even things that you'd expect?"
"A feeling of heat. Like the change put off thermal energy, which it'd have to. Um, I kept hearing a heartbeat sound I think. Or it was mine maybe?" He shrugged. "Why am I seeing him?"
"It's probably going to impact your family if he is stolen," Grissom reminded him. "How do you think you know this wizard, Greg? Was it someone you went to school with? Was it someone you met here? Is it someone you've dueled with maybe?"
"I knew his magic and what it felt like so I'm guessing I dueled with him, and it was a him," he offered, his face scrunching up as he considered it. "I don't remember where I know it from. We've got to warn him though."
"We should," Grissom agreed. "I don't know how, though. He doesn't usually get involved in this stuff."
"Oh, he does, he just snorts and walks off, filing it all away for a rainy day of blackmail," Greg said dryly, looking at him. "Trust me, he does watch it." He summoned over the phone, pulling out his cell to find the number. "Hodges, it's Greg. Need to speak to you today, at my house, before work. Drop by." He hung up. "His machine." He put the phone aside and looked at his wife. "I don't duel all that much, I don't know how I'd know the guy's magical signature."
"Either it was the poser who got Penn that time or it's the dragon guy probably," she offered.
He considered it, then nodded slowly. "Maybe. Now, how do we ward the uptight and panicking guy?"
"I can easily scent him with veela stink," she offered with a small smirk. "Mating scent is easy to trace. He might get hit on a few more times a day, but it should be fine."
"We can put a tracing spell on him too," Greg agreed. "You get to tell Penn."
She snorted. "Not a chance."
"Oh, come on," he complained. "I only ever go see him when it's a problem."
Someone came out of the fireplace and dusted himself off. "You do, that's why we put the spell on the house to summon me whenever there's a problem," Penn said dryly. "What's going on?"
"One of you is going to kidnap one of my lab techs and turn him into something with sparkly wings," Grissom said plainly.
"Looked like a fairy, slightly pointy beaked nose, pointy chin, sparkly, rounded wings on his back," Greg offered. "I know the guy's magical signature but not that well and I don't remember where."
Penn looked at him then shook his head. "Why?"
"I *think* it's because of someone in his family's past," Greg offered. He checked the phone when he heard noise. "So that's what you meant about it not hanging up." He hung up and grinned as he took out the battery. "He'll be over soon since he's now up." He looked at Penn again and shrugged. "I don't know why I saw it."
"Ooooh," he winced. "Okay, well, if you need help hunting him when he's taken, let me know. There's been some stronger magic out in the desert recently but we're not sure where. We think one of the miniature stature potion masters is doing something temporal maybe. He's taken a spot and hidden it totally from view."
"Can we get a map to that spot?" Emilia offered. "Sounds perfect to me."
"It might, but we can't tell where. The first thing the guy did was make it unplottable and screened from view. You can walk past it and not realize it with how he's got it set up."
"Would a tracing spell on something in there work?" Greg asked.
Penn shook his head. "Probably not, but some tracing spells have went past the unplottable issue. There's one on Potter that even found him inside Hogwarts if you're in Hogsmeade. Or so I heard," he offered with a grin. "Have Emilia scent him. If and when, Greg, let me know who you hurt that badly." Greg nodded. "Good kid. Wanna give me the tots for the night?" he asked hopefully. "We're doing a show for some kids."
Emilia snorted. "You want the cranky boys and 'San to help?"
"Well, the twins can watch but I want Cassandra to help me," he offered sweetly, grinning at her. "I'll watch 'em. You know I will."
"Cranky and Cranky are napping and so is 'San. When's the show?" Greg asked.
"In about an hour."
"They'll be up by then," the parents agreed.
"Go ahead," Emilia offered. "If you want them, you can change them and all that." He beamed and went to gather his best stage helper since Teller and the twins he was hoping to provoke to magic. She smiled as he came down the stairs with the kids. "You guys be good for Uncle Penn," she said firmly.
"No magicing the other kids into cats, 'San," Greg told her.
"Yes, daddy. I watch out for brovers too," she promised boldly, hugging her uncle. "Can I play on stage again?"
"Sure, 'San, that's why I brought you, so you could help me today." He grinned and winked, heading back to his place.
Greg got up, going to open the door for whoever had just pulled in so abruptly. "Hey, Nick." He grinned at him. "Get in here."
"Sorry, you left this," he said, holding out Greg's sunglasses and journal. "Thought you'd want it back."
"Sure." He pulled him inside and sat him down at the table. "Hungry?"
"Nah, I just ate a few minutes ago," he assured him. "I just got tired of my walls."
"Well, Penn just stole the kids," Emilia offered. "He's got a show to do for a bunch of kids and likes to use Cassandra as a stage helper."
"He's trying to provoke magic in the boys," Greg offered, heading into the kitchen. "Is Hodges a chicken or ham guy, Grissom? I don't remember."
"I never pay that much attention to what he has for lunch, Greg." He looked at Nick. "Just now hitting you?" He nodded. "I understand. It can be a scary thing but I'm sure it'll be fine. When are they calling?"
"I've got my cellphone on me," he said, patting his pocket. Then he groaned and sighed. Emilia pulled her wand and summoned it, laying it in front of him. "Thanks. I don't know why I forgot it. It's always on me."
"It's classical human psychology. You don't want to know so you forgot," Grissom said with a small shrug. "It makes sense. It's like denial." Someone pounded on the door. "I guess that's Hodges." Emilia opened it with her wand. "That's very handy."
"Especially when you're having a lazy day," she quipped, grinning at him, then at Hodges. "Get in here. You might as well. Close the door behind you, you're letting the air conditioning out."
He walked in and shut the door, leaning against it. "What's going on?"
"Come get some food," Greg said from the kitchen. "I had another vision and it was about you." He carried out a few plates, putting one in front of Nick. "Eat again. You'll need it." He looked at Hodges. "Yours is on the stove. I know you too well for you to be considered a guest." That got a snort but the tech did go to get his lunch. He came back and sat facing Greg, taking a bite of the sandwich. "Okay, earlier today I had a small vision, concerning you, Hodges."
"You're psychic now too?" he asked dryly. "Should I expect you to suddenly fly in some day?"
"I don't really want to broom to work, it might cause problems, and seers are well known among us. It's taught at the schools for those who have the gifts or want an easy elective." Hodges shook his head quickly. "Anyway, I've got about a ninety percent accuracy rating, I had a problem with a timeline once." Hodges nodded slowly on that. "I was off by a few days. Not this time. Someone's going to kidnap you." Nick choked. "Calm down. It's not a fatal one. Someone's going to turn him into something with sparkly wings." He looked at him again. "Full moon starts on Thursday. If I'm right about the time, it's this month. If not, it could be next month. I'm pretty sure it's this month though."
Hodges swallowed, coughing a bit. "Why me?"
"I figure they found someone in your background that wasn't quite unmagical. Either that or they figured out you'd be a good candidate for the change. I'm pretty sure I've met the person doing it before. There was a sense of limited familiarity with the person stealing you. I haven't figured out yet where it comes from but I'm thinking it's someone local. Once I figure out who, I'll try to stop them before they can steal you. There's not that many of us in town."
"So I do what?" Hodges asked. "Sit home with a gun?"
"No, you're coming to work," Grissom told him. "It's harder to take you from the station than it would be your house, where you'd only have a few neighbors around, or even somewhere crowded, where no one would be specifically looking out for you. So I want you in your lab bright and early on Wednesday and Thursday."
"Also, since we're thinking that this same person decided to make part of the desert unplotttble," Greg offered, "we're going to do multiple means of tracking you."
"Unplottable?" Nick asked.
"That means it can't be found on any map, you can't do a tracking spell into it, you can't do a tracking spell to find it, and it's basically an area hidden in plain sight. We think the person doing it may have created that area as well, or it was one of the other potion masters who really didn't want Penn to know what he was doing."
"But how can you track me into it if you can't track it," Hodges asked.
"Easy," Greg said with a grin. "We can track some things that aren't attached to it. So Emilia's going to be rubbing you with some veela mating scent. It may get you hit on a few times, and we can't promise it won't be men hitting on you instead of women, but we can track that easily since there's so few of us around here who've been exposed."
"Like a scent hound instead of a sight hound," Nick said. "A sight hound can track in an underground cave as long as there's a trail but he might not notice a hidden room off to the side. A scent hound follows a much softer trail and will find the room if there's any scent in it."
"Exactly," Greg agreed. "We can track Emilia's mating scent. There's only six or seven people in town who've been exposed to a veela in heat at all." Hodges nodded at that. "Just in case you're not hitting the unplottable piece of desert, I'll be doing the normal tracking spell on you as well."
"Plus we'll be putting a tracking device on you, Hodges," Grissom offered. "That way no one can say anything. Will dogs be able to scent her on him?"
"Yeah," Greg said, nodding. "Very well. It'll smell like he's in heat to them." He looked at Hodges. "So, probably this month, Thursday. Possibly as an outside chance next month on the full moon."
"The moon is Friday, Greg."
"Full moon is more than one day, Hodges, and it's starting on Thursday," Greg said dryly. "That's why Gris backed it up to Wednesday as well, just in case they snatch you early to hide you."
"Can I resist it if they do capture me?" he asked bitterly.
"Sure, please do," Greg agreed. "Also, keep track of what they've done in case something starts to happen so we can undo it. I saw a largish crystal, but that could be natural. They'd only need some quartz probably. It'd act like a prism to bend the magic somewhat. If they bought it, we may be able to track it."
"There's not that many places in town that sell crystals," Nick agreed. "I had to track one once for a db case to figure out who he was. That was my first year and there were only eighteen then."
"A crystal the size of a cooler would be harder to find," Greg agreed. "I'm thinkin' it's about chest sized. Not much bigger or it couldn't be carried. When I 'saw' it, I was pressed up against it, and it was bigger than my head, but I got the spatial sense that I was very close. So looking from a casual level I'd say about chest sized."
"You could probably ask if they sold any crystals over ten pounds," Emilia offered. "We can check with our suppliers too." Nick and Grissom both nodded at that. "Okay, let's get Hodges scented for the first time. I'll lay more over it Wednesday or Thursday before work, that way it's very fresh."
"Sure," Hodges agreed. "Will it soak into my skin through my shirt?"
"It's better against your skin, but I'll understand if you blush," she offered with a small grin. He snorted and shook his head, eating another bite. "Okay, stand up, take off your shirt." He did so and she did the same, coming over to hug him from behind, wrapping her arms around him while she concentrated and pulled up her mating scent. She saw Greg start to drool and figured it was good enough, rubbing herself against his back. She felt his energies react and grinned, patting him on the stomach. "Don't worry, it's a usual thing." She let him go and sniffed. "Well, anyone but a veela will probably hit on you for a few days." She put back on the shirt Nick held out, without looking, and kissed him on the cheek. "You look good in purple."
"Gee, thanks," he said dryly, frowning at her. "They had to mark all the bad spots."
"Oh, honey," she offered, hugging him. "Did you want to call your family while you're here?"
"I was gonna wait until I knew." He looked up at her. "I don't wanna make Greg jealous."
"Why would I be? She hugged you, you didn't grab her," Greg said, shrugging. "She's a hugger, it's one of those things I like about her." He ate another bite of dinner. "Sit and eat, Hodges, and put that shirt aside in a plastic bag later so we can track you with it."
"Uh, yeah, sure, Greg. Thanks." He put back on his shirt and sat down, eating. Nick leaned over to sniff him. "Don't do that."
"Just seeing if I could tell the difference," he said with a grin. "I can't."
"As long as my neighbor's dog doesn't try to hump my leg more often it'll be fine," he said dryly.
"No, I don't usually attract dogs, just guys who think they're better looking than they are," she offered smugly, smirking at him. "It should be fine. Hey, go out to a bar tonight if you've got the night off. See if it works with the chicks."
"I'm not that sort of guy," he assured her.
Greg shrugged. "Many people aren't."
"You were," Hodges snorted.
"Yeah, but I knew I wasn't going to go for anything permanent until I could get her. Therefore I could play a little bit."
"Besides, he doesn't do it now," she assured them. "I'd spank him in an unfun way if he did." She grinned at Greg, who chuckled.
Even Grissom blushed at that. "I'm sure you keep Greg in line very well, Emilia."
"Oh, I do," she said, winking at him. "Has he been giving you fits at work again?"
"No, he's been very helpful. Our new swingshift person starts next week. He made all the calls, weeded it down to three people and did the pre-interviews to let them know what the lab was like. He gave me copies of the tapes so I could hear them. The one he picked I interviewed first and I liked her best out of the four. Ecklie's cousin had to be interviewed too, Greg."
"He wasn't qualified."
"I know, but I had to anyway when Ecklie pushed me. I did point out that he wasn't qualified to do DNA work. He wanted us to teach him."
"Fat chance I have the time," Greg said bitterly. "I have a life. I'm enjoying my life." Someone knocked. "Who is it?" he yelled.
"Me," Brass yelled back.
"It's open." He looked at Grissom again. Then back at Brass since he was walking in with a girl. She had flame red hair, dyed that shade obviously, wore a purple leather corset, a black silk shirt and a teal and purple flowered skirt overtop of her black hose and black biker boots. "Hey," he said, grinning at her. "Our new intern?" Brass nodded, shutting the door behind them. "Welcome to my home. I'm Greg, this is my wife Emilia, our coworker Hodges, he's another labbie, and the supervisor Grissom. I take it Brass picked you up from the train station?"
"Yeah, he was really cool when I called and got him instead of the dayshift people. Someone transferred me to his phone."
"Ecklie decided they were rather busy."
"What else is new," Greg snorted. "Busy with what?"
"Not a clue," Brass admitted. "No kids?"
"Penn. He's doing a show for some kids so we let them go."
"That's so liberal of you," she offered, smiling at them. "By the way, I'm Holy."
"Holy, like holy artifact?" Hodges asked.
"Or like Holy Gee, Batman?" Greg teased.
She laughed. "More like Batman, or at least I hope I can be." She grinned at Hodges. "Yeah, my mom forgot the second 'l'. She was really upset when she figured that out once the painkillers wore off and it cost too much to fix. So I'm Holy." She shook everyone's hand then sat down. "So, when do I start and can someone help me find a spot to park my few things?"
"Sure," Emilia agreed. "I can get with you on that tonight. Does she work tonight, Grissom?"
"We probably should give her the tour tonight, do all the paperwork and things, then let her start tomorrow," he offered. "I thought you were coming in tomorrow."
"So did I. The tickets came for today though so I wasn't going to argue." She grinned around the room. "This is nice."
"Thanks, I just bought it last year," Greg told her. "Gris, did dayshift find a new DNA guy?"
"No," he snorted. "Ecklie told me to find them one too. Told me to hire my second choice for your spot."
"Wonderful," he said dryly. "Well, I gave you mine for my spot and it's someone who can do a few different jobs in case you send me back to the lab now and then. She passed her scene tech and does computer hardware as well. Recent graduate," he told Hodges. "Fairly nice but a bit uptight around new people. Kinda reminded me of you in some ways so I think you and Bobby will get along okay. She's a perfectionist as well but does have an odd sense of humor. Mostly to the odd, dirty, and redneck jokes from what she said during her interview. Likes classical music in the lab, but does jazz and light rock at home. Has a thing for eighties metal now and then." He looked at Grissom. "My second choice was way more uptight and much more a social climber sort. Ecklie would love him and that's why I put him second. My third choice would be better suited to do the work though."
"I'll look them over tonight. Are they on my desk?"
"In your locker. Your desk had piles of folders the last I knew. I didn't want them to get lost."
Grissom smiled at that. "Thank you, Greg. You've been a big help during this."
Holy smirked at him. "No wonder you got to preinterview me."
"Yeah, well, we've had some problems. Our swingshift guy just retired. Our dayshift guy had an accident with some samples and got fired. We called in the old guy to come help sort things out and he had a heart attack in my desk chair. I'm getting ready to move out into the field so I needed someone to replace or share with me. We desperately needed you, even before the dayshift guy made that fatal mistake. That's why he made it actually." She smiled slightly at that. "We were a bit backed up."
"Messed up samples with cases?" He nodded. "I've heard that can happen when you're going too fast. I don't do that. I like slow, steady, methodical pacing."
"Good, we like that," Grissom agreed. "That's why I hired you. You answered that question about how to do three hundred samples the best."
"Have we had days like that?"
"We've had weeks like that," Greg told her. "With just the two of us, that's why he made his mistakes. Having you here will definitely cut down on that."
"I'm fine with that," she agreed. "Is tomorrow looking to be another butt scorcher?"
"At the moment, we've got about a two sample backlog," he offered. "I left two running and I'm sure someone pulled their results from the printer." She smiled at that and nodded.
"I did, Greg, and thank you for starting those. I know it made you home late for breakfast."
"Not an issue, I understand those things. That's why I don't start cooking until he makes it home," Emilia said dryly. "Greg, how many are going to be like you in the lab?"
"None," he said with a small shrug. "None of the ones like me wanted to come out here. They said it'd too hot. The one on my final list decided Vancouver was nicer or she'd have been my second choice."
"Interesting," Hodges noted.
"Then again, I'm the sister to a Wiccan who does have some powers," Holy noted, grinning madly at him. "Screwed with my mind for months after she turned me into a cat for Halloween. Greg here just nodded and hummed, apparently understanding it?" she asked, looking at him. "I don't practice."
"We do," Emilia told her. "But not that form. Not chaos either but we do have a few friends who are chaos incarnate."
"Alex isn't *that* bad," Nick teased.
She snorted. "I was thinking Luna and Tipsy and her boys, but yes, he is. Oh, big news. I heard it from Sev while you were sleeping, honey. Alex found Malgadesh and was given the duty to excavate it."
"Oh, that's so great!" he said, grinning madly and bouncing a bit. "He's got to be so stoked! That's a great find!"
"It is," she agreed. "Sev's making all their healing and necessary potions for them since Draco's so busy with Bill learning preservation at their present site. Bill's going with him and the kids."
"He's an archeo person?"
"Kinda," Greg agreed. "A small subset. Ancient writings and the like."
"Cool. I'm sure they run up their sunscreen bill very high."
"Oh, they do," Greg said dryly. "I made them some the last time they were in town. Speaking of, Nick, did you remember?"
"No," he moaned, shaking his head. "I forgot. I guess I'll start once they start fixing things." He looked at his phone as it rang. "That's Cath." He answered it. "Yeah?" He listened. "No, not yet. Probably not until around six they said. Thanks, Cath. Yeah, I'll tell Gris so he can announce it. Sure. Tell Lindsey that I love her. Sure." He hung up and shook his head. "She wanted to know if I'd gotten results yet."
Greg looked at his phone. "One voicemail." He handed it back. "Probably while you were driving. It's after six."
Nick dialed his voicemail box and listened, then sighed and hung up, nodding. "It was cancerous but not very advanced. It hadn't moved down to the lower tissues yet." Greg and Emilia both hugged him. "I'll be fine. They said they can still laser off the others and watch me very carefully. Gris, any word on the insurance stuff? They think it'll cover it."
"It will," Greg assured him. He tipped Nick's face up. "It will cover it," he promised. Nick nodded at that offer and Greg sat back down. "Holy, if you want a sandwich, we can make you one."
"No, I'm good. I nibbled the whole trip. Soooo," she said, looking at Nick. "I won't be working with you for a while?"
"Skin cancer. They did the biopsy this morning. You'll be working with me in a few months." She gave him a hug. "Thanks."
"I hope you're okay. You seem like a good guy to work with. And no, I'm not hitting on you. I like girls. Mostly smart women with great legs, but I like girls," she offered with a grin, making him laugh and nod. "So you and I can go out some night and check out chicks in the bar if I don't creep you out too much, 'kay?"
"Sure," he agreed, patting her on the arm. "I do it with Warrick, we can bring you along."
Grissom shook his head. "We should probably head in soon. Hodges, are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm still processing. I'll probably be upset later and go corner Greg in the lab."
"My replacement's coming in sometime this week," Greg told him.
"You hired her?" Grissom asked.
"Ecklie told me to," he defended. "I told her she had a two week trial and you had the final say at that time."
"That's fine, Greg. What about dayshift?"
"The third person in the folder," he told him wisely. "All the official application stuff is in there as well. I'm very thorough."
"Thank you, Greg. I'll look them over when I get in. What day this week?"
"Depends on when she can get her mother to quit crying on her. She was hoping for tomorrow but her mother's one of those clingy, saran wrap mothers so it might not be until Friday. I had her come in before Sunday, that way she could do the tour and be up and running on Monday."
"That's fine," he agreed, smirking at him. "Ecklie told you to hire her?"
"No, Ecklie told me to hire someone, get them here by next monday, and have them be as competent as I am to replace me. He said the dayshift guy would be found within a week afterwards, probably from my castoffs."
"Fine," he agreed. "I'll look them over when I head in. Which I should probably do. Need a ride, Hodges?"
"No, I drove. I'll be right in." Grissom nodded, kissing Emilia on the cheek before walking off. He looked at Greg. "What happened? Did everyone just quit?"
"The swingshift guy was the guy who had the heart attack. The dayshift guy got fired after he made that mistake. Grissom was going to talk to him but Ecklie saw him first. Oh, honey, his wife's threatened to sue me because I said that Grissom wasn't firing him immediately but Ecklie did. I did tell her that Grissom hadn't been planning on it and Grissom backed me up, but then he pointed out Ecklie saw him first."
"Gee, now you tell me," she said dryly. "Fine, I'll be on the lookout for people with legal papers."
"Can he do that?" Brass asked.
"Probably. Personal pain and suffering," Greg told him, shrugging a bit. "It's not like he's going to take the family money." Brass and Nick both snorted at that and Hodges moaned. "What?"
"The former dayshift guy went to the FBI, you know that, right?"
"Yeah, and I also know that they came to ask me what was going on and I told them and they left satisfied. They did say they were watching my interest payments from my friend, but that they couldn't really stop it." He shrugged. "The guy's ruined. I'm surprised he didn't try to sue me."
"I think the agent in charge had a talk with him about that," Brass offered with a smug look. "Something about no evidence and his own stupidity. If he had went to them first, they might have done something but now there's no evidence."
"Yeah, because we're storing the backlog in the safe," Emilia told him.
"You probably shouldn't do that," Hodges warned. She looked at him. "You might get broken into again or have to justify things."
"True," Greg admitted. "I'll call him from work tonight." He got up and kissed his wife on the cheek, heading up the stairs. "Let me change, Holy, and I'll drive you in. Brass, you can stay since the kids are gone."
"Sure." He ate another bite of his sandwich. "Where did your story monsters go?"
Emilia grinned. "Penn and Teller are doing a show for kids. They're there with a reasonable adult." She casually started to unravel the spell she felt kick in, making it snap after a few moments. Then she smiled again. "They'll be fine."
"I'm sure," he agreed. "I'll pop around there on my way in, make sure that they can get home okay. The twins were being watched the last I knew."
"Oh, they were," she sighed, waving a hand. "But it's okay now because that person felt my wrath quite well. Let's just say that a virtual foot up the ass sideways works well as discouragement." She smiled sweetly. "Among other things. Luna helped me talk with the stupid person."
Brass snickered, shaking his head. "Yeah, she'd be enough to discourage me too." He ate another bite. "What's going on?"
"Greg got ...word that someone might try to steal Hodges during the full moon this month, or possibly next month if he's thwarted or got the timeline wrong."
"Interesting. I'll try to hang around more this week."
Hodges looked at him. "You hate me."
"I don't *hate* you, Hodges, I just find you annoying, but I still won't let anyone steal you." He smirked. "I did take an oath."
"Fine," he said sarcastically. "I should head in too. Holy, want to ride with me instead of Greg?"
"No, that's okay." She yawned. "This way I know how to get back here and we can chat about his lab on the way in. But I'll eat lunch with you if you want." He nodded, smiling at her and shaking her hand.
"Welcome to the lab. You'll do okay here." He stood up and headed out after patting Emilia on the arm.
"He likes you," Brass told her.
"Of course he does. I'm very likeable and I'm not after his job," she reminded him. "I'm a neutral person who talks to him like an adult and doesn't try to play politics with him. That puts me in the likeable category for him. Especially since I occasionally bring him in snacks too." She grinned at Holy. "Usually he's a bit grumpy in the lab. But he's an okay guy out of it."
"I'll remember that," she agreed, smiling back. "Lots and lots of departments are politically oriented and very push-and-shove to get a spot. Greg said most of his shift wasn't like that."
"It's not," Nick promised. "None of us could care less except for our next step up and next raise. None of us want to be Grissom. Though, most of us don't like Ecklie."
"I'll introduce you later, after you've had the tour," Greg said as he came down the stairs. Nick looked at him. "What? Not good?"
"No, you look like a normal CSI in the field. Are you heading out tonight?"
"I don't know yet, but I thought I'd try to make a good impression." He unbuttoned his shirt and showed off one of his usual t-shirts. "Not too far off, but coverable," he said smugly. He kissed his wife deeply, hugged Nick. "Hog the wife to talk if you want and call your family from the couch. It's more comfy for long chats." He helped Holy up and out to his car, checking that he had everything in the back. "Okay, I'm good." He frowned and patted himself down, but Emilia tossed his wand from the doorway. "Thanks, honey. See you for lunch?" he asked with a grin.
"If not, I'll send something in for you and Hodges." She smiled and went back inside, closing the door.
"So you're one of those," she said, looking at him.
Greg nodded, grinning at her. "Only one in the lab actually. That's why I wasn't that upset with your cat story. I know others who use that form." He got in to drive, then had to summon the keys off the board. He shook his head. "It's going to a night," he warned. She buckled up and he buckled up, then they headed to the lab to start the tour. Ecklie was waiting on them at the front door. "Hey," he said, nodding at him. "Our intern." He waved at her. "Holy McNamara, this is Director Ecklie, he runs the lab."
He looked her over. "Well, you're like the others in the lab, very colorful and unique." He looked at Greg. "Your replacement?"
"Here by Sunday. She has to get away from a crying mother."
"Oh, good. What's she like?"
"Serious. Likes classical music in the lab. You'll like her, I promise." He grinned. "When she shows up, I'll introduce her and I also gave Grissom two other people that you can use to fill the dayshift slot. The third one would be my choice. I think she'd fit better on your crew."
"Fine. I'll look those over later. Where were they?"
"In Gris' locker. He had a lot of files on his desk so I slid it inside there."
"Fine. Did he get to talk to her?"
"I told her a two week trial to make sure she could handle the stress and Gris would make the final decision then. That way she could back out after watching us for a few days."
"Even better. Thank you. My cousin...."
"Wasn't qualified, Ecklie. If he goes to somewhere like where Holy was, at Marshall, and does their graduate degree in forensics, he'd get a spot in no time."
"I told you about that," he reminded him. "Gave you their web address and all that stuff."
"I'll have to look it over more closely. A real degree?" Greg nodded. "Fine. Welcome to the lab, Holly."
"Holy, sir, my mother forgot an 'l' while on pain killers from labor."
"Oh. That's fine. Sorry." He shook her hand. "Good luck. I hope you can hack it here."
"I don't see why I shouldn't. Greg's said a lot about the workload and I was working on the CODIS project at Marshall." She walked in with Greg, getting her badge from reception, then followed him back. "Is he always like that?"
"He's an asskisser who likes the press," Greg said, glancing around.
"I heard that, Sanders," Ecklie called.
"It's the truth, sir. You know it is." He smirked and leaned closer. "I've got some material on him so he's leaving me alone as long as I don't generally air my views." He led her back into their section and found Catherine waiting. "Ah, Catherine, this is Holy. She'll be our swingshift intern starting tomorrow."
"Welcome to the lab," she said, shaking her hand. "Nick?" He nodded quickly. "Bad?"
"A few layers down. They said they'd be able to still do the lasering. He's at my house calling his folks."
"I'll call there later," she promised, giving him a hug. "Why does Hodges smell like sex?"
"Oh, someone's going to snatch him so we scented him with something pretty easily found. Emilia helped," he offered with a grin.
"Oh, okay," she said, shrugging a bit. "So, Holy, any family?"
"A few brothers, a sister who's a Wiccan turning towards chaos now and then."
"Ah. We have Greg for all the chaos we need around here." She grinned at him. "Warrick's in the lounge, Sara's in the garage, and Gris is locked in his office."
"We already ran into Ecklie and she met Hodges and Nick at the house with Brass and Gris. Brass picked her up from the train station."
"Wonderful. Want me to do the tour?"
"No, I can. Unless I've got stacks?"
"No, nothing yet," Warrick said as he walked up the hall. "Hi. Warrick Brown." He shook her hand.
"Holy McNamara. Swingshift DNA intern," she greeted with a grin.
"Welcome to the lab. Greg, Nick?"
"My house. Call there." He nodded briefly. "The first few layers were."
"Shit," he said bitterly. "He'll be fine though, right?"
"Yeah, they said they have it in hand. Go ahead and call my house. I'm sure he's on Emilia's shoulder by now." They nodded, heading to do that. "They're both CSI's in the field. Let me introduce you to Sara first then we'll tour the labs." She nodded, following along behind like a trotting puppy. "Sara!" he called from the doorway. Her head popped out from the trunk. "This is Holy, she's our swingshift DNA tech."
"Hey," she said, nodding. "I'll have a few for you soon, Greg."
"That's fine, mark 'em and lay 'em in there if I'm not." He walked her off. "She's very dedicated," he said quietly, leading her to the coroner's office. "Hey, David," he said with a grin. "This is Holy, she's our swingshift DNA intern. Holy, this is David, he's one of our coroners. Doc Robins in?"
"Not yet. He's probably not coming in tonight. He had an appointment at the doctor's." He shook her hand. "If you want to watch one, just let me know. Most of the lab techs don't but most CSI's have to now and then." He grinned. "We've seen others pass out before so don't worry about it."
"That's cool, but I did that in school when I did a summer at the local house of the dead."
He nodded. "Good. Well, if you need us, yell. If you see the old guy with the cane, it's Doc Robins, he's the head coroner, he's pretty cool. Just a bit growly now and then," he said with a wink. "Later, Greg."
"Later, David." He steered her away. "We do ours in-house and you may have to pick up samples from in there now and then." She shrugged and nodded. "Good. My first time I wanted to puke, it was a burned body. But David and Doc Robins are pretty cool." He tapped on a lab door. "This is AV." He stuck his head in at the yell. "Hey, Archie, the new intern's in. Where's everyone?"
"Um, cake for Western. Secondary free lab."
"Sure." He nodded. "You coming?"
"Sure." He came out to join them, smiling at the young woman. "I'm Archie, the AV guy."
"Holy, DNA." She shook his hand and let him lead her off to the party. At least she'd get to know everyone and get a new look at how the lab ran. "Do you just do AV or do we switch off some? Some crossing over?"
"Not much," he offered. "We're pretty much specialists around here. Of course, if you wanted to learn something from us, if we're not too busy, we'd probably teach you on the side. All but Hodges, he can get a bit...grumpy."
"I met him earlier at Greg's."
"Well, if you're looking for strange and odd, Greg's is usually the place to find that," he admitted, grinning back at Greg. "Sorry but you know how it is."
"Oh, I do," he agreed dryly. He opened the door and ushered them in. "I'm here, the party can start," he announced, cracking the others up. "And I brought our new swingshift DNA intern. Guys, and ladies, this is Holy. She's from Marshall. Brass picked her up earlier. She starts tomorrow."
The group pulled her in as one of their own, talking to her about her training and some new things going on in the field. It would be fine, she'd fit right in with their oddness, even if they did embarrass him by telling her how odd he was.
Greg looked up at the polite cough and grinned. "She let you go early?"
"I snuck out," she offered. "I'm assuming you're Greg and this is our lab?" He nodded, waving her inside, taking a sip of his coffee. "This is nice. My last one wasn't this nice." She looked around then grinned at him. "So, what's on for tonight?"
"Meeting everyone and Gris and possibly Ecklie if you can't avoid it. Filling out the rest of the paperwork, then you can start tomorrow," he said with bright grin. "Come on. We're still kinda gathered around the cake for our departing dayshift guy who recently had a heart attack."
"Sure." She put her briefcase and bag down, following him out and down the hall. She looked around. "This is a great looking department."
"It is," he agreed. "With you here, the ratio of males and females is a bit more even. We only had a few women working here before. Of course, I didn't even ask you your gender or your first name," he reminded her with a grin and a wink. "I didn't want that to come into play."
"I appreciate that." She smiled and nodded at the person they were passing, turning to look back at him and he was doing the same. "Hi, I'm Nicole. I'm taking Greg's spot."
"Wow, two in one day." He shook her hand. "Warrick Brown. Field CSI."
"Wonderful. I look forward to working with you." She smiled and walked off with Greg. "Many of those here?"
"Nope. Nick's on leave. Catherine and Sara are in the field. Warrick and Grissom are the only two hanging around at the moment." He tapped on the door and stuck his head in. "Everyone still in here?"
"It's been a slow night," Bobby from Questionable Documents offered. "Why?"
"My replacement is also here. I didn't really expect her this early." He opened the door fully and let Nicole enter. "Guys, this is Nicole Brandert. She's my replacement and I'll be timesharing with her now and then when she's got to do computer stuff."
"Hi," they greeted, grinning at her.
"Before anyone says anything, I didn't ask her her first name or her gender, it just happened that the most qualified people were women." He grinned. "Which gives Sara one less thing to complain about around here." He walked her further into the room, letting her get to know everyone. "Where's Holy?"
"At lunch. She said she promised Hodges she'd eat with him," their fingerprint tech called, pushing her hat off. "Sorry, small party for a departing guy."
"No, that's okay. I'm sure my department had one after I was gone too," she said with a smile. She let herself mingle and mix, relaxing slowly to the group.
Greg snuck off, going to find Grissom, who had Hodges in his office. "Nicole's here," he said, sticking his head into the office. "Hey. Nicole, my replacement's here."
"Wonderful," Grissom said, smiling at him. "Ecklie complained about you again."
Greg shrugged. "And? I'm wearing a shirt over the t-shirt today." He grinned brightly. "Where's Holy?"
"At her hotel room. She'll take a cab back to your place so Emilia can help her with apartment hunting. Where's this new wonder-tech?" Hodges asked.
"Thank you, Greg," Grissom said, getting up and leading them back there. He walked in and focused on the new woman. "Well, Greg has good taste in hirees. Your resume was impeccable, your credentials were wonderful, your list of accomplishments was nearly as long as his, and he obviously picked for brains," he said, shaking her hand. "Gil Grissom, graveyard supervisor.
"Nicole Brendert. I look forward to working with someone of your stature, Mr. Grissom. I attended one of your lectures at UCLA three years ago. Very interesting."
He smiled. "I always like to hear that. I try, rarely."
She laughed and nodded. "I feel the same way most of the time. That's why I stayed in LA for so long." She looked back at the group and grinned. "No, he didn't insult me. I'd rather be known for my brains than anything else."
Hodges stuck his head in. "We've got a case that just got called. Brass said so. Sorry, guys."
"What was it?" Greg asked.
"Multiple homicide with attendant car accident after the shooting."
"Oooh," Nicole winced. "Driveby?"
"We don't get many of those here. More like run-by's," the ballistics tech offered. "Grissom, are you taking Greg now?"
"I can. Greg, let's go." He nodded, buttoning up his shirt as he followed him out to the Tahoe, grabbing his case from the back of his car on the way. "Good, you're prepared."
"I've had it in the back of my car of the last week, Gris. I'm probably over-prepared." He slid into the passenger's side. "Where?"
"I got the slip from Hodges," he promised, putting it on the dash. He started the Tahoe and backed out but Greg suddenly cut the engine and slid out, grabbing his case. "Greg?"
"Out, Grissom, before it blows."
He hurried out and they watched, checking their watch to see how long it took. About two minutes later, their hair was messed up by the small explosion. "What was that?"
"I put a check spell on all the Tahoes last month," he said quietly. "Ever since Sara had hers vandalized on a scene." He looked over as Brass came running. "We're fine. Remember the address?"
"Yeah, why?" he asked, looking confused.
"Just because the SUV blew up doesn't mean we don't have a job to do," Grissom reminded him, taking Greg's keys to his car. "That'll work." He headed that way, it was a nice car.
"What happened?" Brass yelled.
"The SUV blew up," Greg yelled back. He turned and grinned then turned back around and hurried off, getting into the passenger's seat. His case went back into the backseat with Grissom's and they were off, carefully going around the new mess in the parking lot.
Brass glared at the back of the car. "I will get him one of these days," he muttered as the fire department drove in, lights and sirens going. "No casualties," he called. "Just the SUV. They weren't in it."
"Why not?" one of the fireman asked him. He shrugged. "Oh. Who drives this one?"
"Ah. Probably found a clue in it and hopped out just in time." He went back to report to his boss. Who could only shrug. CSI were like magicians in his book too. They'd tell them what happened once they found what had caused it to explode.
Warrick came jogging out with his case. "What happened?"
"Greg said it exploded," Brass said grimly. "Then he *grinned*."
"Did he make it explode?"
"No. From the security footage I was staring at while waiting on a fax to go through, they got out, stood there, and the thing exploded."
"So Greg probably knew," he said, shrugging a bit. "Where are they?"
"Shooting and car wreck in front of the college."
"Fine. I'll check in with them later."
"You do that and let me know," he said grimly. "That way I know how far to kick Sander's ass this time."
"He was doing something to all the Tahoe's last month after Sara got her radio stolen from hers."
Brass looked at him. "He can do that?"
"Yeah, he can about do anything. I'm guessing the burglar alarm or whatever he did showed him something was wrong."
"If it was, I'll only knock him around a bit for that stupid grin he gave me," he said dryly.
"He's in a good mood. His replacement came today, the swingshift girl came today. The dayshift guy's been narrowed down to two from what I heard Ecklie muttering about in the halls."
"I picked up the swingshift kid," he admitted. "I didn't know his replacement was in."
"Yeah, Nicole. She's *fine*," he hissed, glancing around, "but I hear Greg didn't even ask if she was male or female or first name. Her accent said LA to me."
"I'll have to check on her later," he noted. She had to be less annoying than Greg was. "Any other good news?"
"Yeah, Holy and Hodges get along. They had lunch and he came back laughing happily."
"She likes girls."
"That's fine, I'm sure I can go hang out at the bar with her while we both look at women," he said dryly, smirking at him. "What about Nicole?"
"Haven't heard a thing about her other than Greg said she does computers too."
"Good! That means she can fill in an area we're temping on at the moment from Dayshift. Sounds like he picked someone good and reasonable for the job."
"Ecklie told him to pick her." Brass shrugged as Ecklie stormed out. "We don't know what happened yet. Grissom and Sanders are fine, they headed off to their crime scene once I got here."
"They went to a scene!" he demanded. "Why?"
"Multiple shooting with a car wreck."
"Oh. Eww." He shook his head. "Fine, get a statement from them later. I want to know what happened. We don't have a budget for this."
"Isn't that what insurance is for?" Warrick suggested. He heard one of the engine's radios start off. "Guys, the truck radio is going!" he yelled. "You've got another call!"
One of the firemen jogged back to answer it, taking down the particulars. He paused and looked at them, then said something, getting the same answer. He hung up the radio. "Station 12 is getting that one. One of your other vehicles just exploded."
"Why?" Ecklie demanded.
"We're not sure yet, sir, but there was a report of no injuries."
"Sounds like someone wants you guys to walk," Brass said, sounding unhappy with that. "Who else was out?"
"Cath and Sara." He pulled out his phone to call them. "You guys all right? Gris and Greg were going out on a call when their Tahoe exploded too. No, they're fine. Yeah, sure. Thanks." He hung up. "Catherine said she saw a small flashing spot on the display and got out since she didn't know what it was. She had Sara take the evidence out while she got their cases, and then it exploded."
"Was someone watching them?" Ecklie demanded.
"No, Catherine said Sara found a piece of a digital display throw from the explosion. I'm guessing they saw the blink from that."
"That's good then. It's a good thing," Ecklie agreed. "Brass, where did you hide the insurance forms?"
"Top cabinet drawer, left hand side, folder's marked insurance."
"Thank you." He went to find them.
Brass looked at Warrick. "Flashing spot on the display? It wouldn't radiate up that far. Even in the dark."
"Well, I guess we know what Greg did," Warrick said dryly. He looked at the steaming pile of metal. "Whoever wanted us to walk has got another thing coming. Most of us do have personal cars and we're more likely now to get them for this."
Brass clapped him on the back. "Keep me informed. I'll take statements once everyone gets back. Or better yet, I'm going to go find Sanders and ask unofficially what he did." He went to find his car and head out. He started his car and a blinking light started to flash urgently so he grabbed what he wanted and got out, backing away. "Um, guys, flashing display on mine too!" he yelled, ducking when the explosion went off.
"Oooh," the firemen said, then went to put that one out too. Maybe they'd get this one faster so there was some evidence left.
Brass pulled out his radio. "Dispatch, this is Brass. I want SWAT at the CSI building now. We've just had two cars explode and I want a check of every car in this lot." He put his radio up and looked at Warrick, who was shaking his head. He called Sanders himself. "What other cars did you charm besides the Tahoe's and mine?" he asked simply. "Mine just exploded. Catherine's exploded. Yours exploded. I need to know, Sanders." He gave him a list of who's cars got the special treatment and he made a list to have the SWAT team check them first. Just in case. It showed logical thought. He had the official vehicles, then their personal cars done before anyone else's. Then he called Nick to have him check his own truck, just in case. He didn't need this today, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
To Part 15