Changing Minds.

"There's no explosives, at all?" Warrick demanded, looking at Greg.  "How can there be no explosives at all?"

Greg shrugged.  "It could have burned up."

"On a car?  On a house maybe, but not on a car, Greg."

"Think about it.  Cherry bomb in the gas tank.  What would be the residue?"

"Nothing.  The gas would have been hot enough to burn it up completely and would have been the accelerant," he said thoughtfully. "Brass's car had a locking tank though."

"Yeah, but Brass's car shows a trace of acid," he offered, handing that report over.  "On the SUV we were in, and in Cath's, there's no traces of anything."

"What about your way of doing things?" he asked quietly.

Greg shook his head.  "That's part of what I did last month, so only helpful stuff could be applied.  Like something to help them stay in tune longer."  Warrick nodded and sighed at that.  "Hey, I'm just glad I put that check on there, man.  I didn't want to be blown up and I didn't want you guys to be blown up either.  Everyone got out safely and for that I'm really thankful."

Warrick nodded.  "Thanks, Greg.  Got anything other than this acid mark?"

"No. Not a bit, man, I'm sorry.  Bring me more, maybe I can figure out what happened."  Warrick nodded, heading out to report that.

Grissom stuck his head in a few minutes later.  "Could this be about the plot to kidnap Hodges?" he asked bluntly.

"If it was, why would they have come after you?" he asked.  "Or Brass."  Grissom nodded at that.  "Don't worry though, if I find out this had something to do with that, I'll be killing someone brutally.  Very, very brutally.  You'll be picking up blood evidence for months."  Grissom smirked at that and left.  Greg went back to the other samples he had to run tonight.  His replacement was working day shift until Grissom talked to the other two people on his short list.  That left him in the lab and Emilia paranoid.  He picked up his ringing phone, knowing it was her checking on him again.  "I'm still fine, 'Mil."  He grinned.  "Sure, babe.  Come up for lunch."  He blew a kiss.  "Love you too."  He hung up and went back to testing samples, trying to find something, anything, to help solve this one.


Hodges managed to get a soda without anyone trailing him there, and mentally congratulated himself.  Considering someone had followed him to the bathroom earlier, he was really starting to get annoyed at this.  No one could take him from the station.  He saw Sara stop and stare at him and waved his can of soda before opening it and taking a drink, heading back his domain.  Hopefully whoever was doing this would try tonight so he wouldn't have to do this again next month.  They had promised to watch out for him and they were trying, just a bit too hard. He sat down to sip his soda, looking at his newest samples to run.  Animal hairs, wonderful.  He took another sip, and was starting to put his can down when he felt the disorientation happen.  He and his stool were transported away and all he could do was squeak.  He landed in a cave, with his soda in hand and his stool under him, able to look around for now.  "What is going on here?" he demanded.  "Put me back"

"I don't think so," a male voice said smugly.  "Sorry, but I need someone like you and you'll do just fine in my experiment."

Hodges was blinded by a light and felt the can be taken from him before he was put onto a softer spot. That's when he was knocked out.


Greg looked up as someone went running, heading over to Hodges's lab because he knew he had been right.  "Okay," he said, pulling out the book that had the charm in it and Hodges's shirt.  He tried the tracking charm and groaned, looking over as Grissom came in.  "He's in that unplottable spot."

"Can you still track him?"

"Yeah, I can," he admitted.  "Or more precisely, Alex can."  He called him through their tattoos, waking him up.  "Alex, major emergency.  How do I track Emilia's scent on someone else."

"Why do you think I'd know?"

"Because you track and hunt, dumbass. Someone's life is in danger, I had Emilia scent him with mating scents.  We've got a wizard with an unplottable section in the desert."

"Then the easiest way would be to plot the desert and find the blank spot," he offered tiredly.  He even let out a mental yawn.  "Beyond that, in your seventh year charms book is the 'avarico' charm.  Use that.  That's what I usually used when I wanted Draco and he was inside the school."

"How do you know it's in there?"

"It was in his."

"Oh.  Thanks."  He called his charm book from his bookshelf, going outside to catch it with the shirt.  He cut out a piece and handed the rest back to Grissom.  He cast the charm and it worked, so he headed after it, thinking about how bad this was going to be.  "It's fading," he complained through the link.

"You've got to keep a firm thought of that desire in your head or else it'll go to the next desire you want."

"Thanks."  He went back to thinking very hard about wanting Hodges to be found and the sign shifted back, sending him off that way.  He head dogs behind him but that was fine.  They were good and a normal way of finding someone.  He found the edge of the unplottable area and the charm winked out.  "That's fine, there's not much here."  He turned and used his wand to inscribe the Bane's mark in the ground and an arrow, but it faded out as soon as he did it.  He walked off by ten feet and did it again, then smirked and broke the charm on the edges of the area keeping him from marking it.  He even used the purple spray paint in his pocket as an added thing, locking it in the 'on' position magically before tossing it away.  It'd keep going until it ran out in about twenty minutes.  He hurried back to the area, running into a barrier.  "How do I do this?" he asked.

"Bend it inward, pushing with your magic.  Use the 'mangus shove' option."  Greg nodded, bending it inward.  He followed it and felt it crack.  "Watch out, it'll snap back, duck."  He ducked and it snapped over his head, brushing painfully across his back, but he was inside.  "Good job, Greggo.  Now, turn and find the stone anchoring it.  It should be just a regular rock in the ground."

"This is the desert, Alex, there's lots of rocks."  He destroyed a few but didn't find it so he went on.  He'd do that later.  He could always move them out of the area.  He found the old cave and walked boldly inside, glaring at the wizard he had helped save when his dragon had bit him.  "You idiot!" he shouted.  "He works for the cops!  They're coming for you, stupid!  I can't shield you and Penn won't!"  He shocked him, making him scream in pain.  "Good!"  He looked at Hodges, then at the crystal, then winced.  "Okay, not my best area.  I really wish Blair were sensible at the moment."

"Can't do everything?" the wizard sneered.

Greg felt Alex land behind him.  "Can you break that while I kill him?"

Alex shrugged and walked over to check on Hodges, while Greg went to beat the crap out of the other wizard, then handcuffed one wrist and his opposite ankle together.  Alex chuckled at that.  "Well, it's a bit too far gone.  I'm guessing you're gonna need McGonagall for this.  I've already called her for you."  He looked at him and went to destroy the stone holding the barrier up, letting in the cops.  "I'm a friend of Greg's," he said at the drawn weapons.  "Hodges is in there with Greg and the guy who was hurting him by surgically enhancing him.  I've already called a friend who's dealt with this stuff to come help."  He looked at Brass.  "Hey."

"Hey.  Thanks."

"Welcome.  I had to teach Greg how to break the barrier.  How did you get here so fast?"

"Helicopter.  Wonderful things."

"True," he agreed dryly.  "How did he mark it?"

"A continuously running spray paint can."

"Good job, Greg," he called.  He saw McGonagall land and look around in confusion, whistling at her to come over and join them.  She gave him a dirty look. "It's important," he called.  "Now, please."  She stomped that way.  "Clear the cops out, please," he offered.

"Sure."  Brass went to clear out the cops, letting them inside to treat Hodges, while he stood and watched.  "You weren't kidding, shiny wings."

"Yeah.  I'm not sure if we can reverse this or not.  Thank you for helping us, Professor."

"It's not a problem, Gregory.  I didn't think anyone knew of these things any longer."  She bent down to look at him, seeing how far the transformation had progressed.  She patted Hodges's face until he woke up.  "I can reverse it but you may still have some characteristics of the creature.  Or I can move forward and then reverse it next month, young man.  Which would you prefer?"

"Would I be normal again?"

"You would if I reversed it once it was fully completed.  I cannot guarantee it the other way.  Plus, the pain will be incredible that way."

"Then go forward and reverse it later," he panted, clutching at her hand. "I already ache."

"Of course," she agreed gently, working to finish it off.  The crystal embedded his body and she waited, checking her pocket watch until he came back out.  In the meantime, the heartbeat echoed around them.  "Why did he do it, Gregory?" she asked quietly.

"He wanted him as part of his menagerie," he said grimly.  "It's the guy who had the dragon in heat that bit him," he told Alex.

"Good, then I get to kick him once or twice too."  He walked over and kicked him, getting around Grissom to do so.  "That makes twice you've interfered with my life, prat.  I will see you hexed to death for this."  He sneered down at him.  "I am a Dumass."

The wizard started to cry.  "I was only trying to create a Godless Potion."

Greg looked at him.  "Oh, no, you didn't even think about that," he said coldly.  "If you did, you're so damn stupid it's not funny.  It's not workable.  It's not real.  It's also not going to give you the power you wanted, stupid.  Only practice and skill can give you power.  That potion has never worked and will never work.  It was created by the rantings of a mad man and it killed him."  The wizard continued to cry.  He patted him down, finding his wand.  Which he tucked into his pocket.  "If he gets out, Penn can give it back to him."  He looked over as the crystal split and Hodges flew out, landing in the palm of his hand.  "Hey.  Feel a bit better now?"  The small sprite nodded so he let him go with a small blown breath to get him airborne.  "Think about being your normal size again."

McGonagall charmed him and he landed normal human size, then hugged her, sobbing on her shoulder.  "There, there, dear.  It's all right.  Have Greg bring you to me on the next full moon and I'll gladly undo this.  Until then, you'll manage," she soothed.

He nodded, pulling back and wiping his eyes.  "I didn't cry," he said firmly, glaring at Greg.

Greg only shrugged.  "I didn't see any tears."  He grabbed the blanket from Brass's hand, putting it around his shoulders.  "The wings, can we hide them or will they be damaged under his shirts?"

"I'd put them outside his shirts but under a jacket," she offered gently.  He nodded.  "You'll manage, dear.  Greg is very good at hiding things.  He had a tail for nearly six weeks before we figured it out."  She smiled and nodded at them.  "If I'm not needed?"

"You'll see us in twenty-seven days," Greg assured her. She nodded and apparated out.  "Come on, Hodges.  There's an ambulance and you'll need checked over.  If anyone remarks on the wings...."

"Can't you hide them?" he asked.

"Sure."  Alex did the charm with a yawn, then smirked and waved, leaving them there.  He sent a silent 'thank you' over their link while walking him out.  "Here, be gentle with his back, he said it hurts."  The paramedic nodded and walked him off.  Greg looked over as another paramedic drug out the wizard in better handcuffs.  He was put into a separate ambulance and taken off to be admitted to the county hospital's jail section.  He looked at Grissom, then at Brass.  "We'll need about three days off in twenty-seven days."

"Of course," Grissom agreed.  "It can be fixed?"  Greg nodded.  "Good."

"Who was she?" Brass asked.

"Professor McGonagall.  That's her area," he said, nodding back at the cave.  "Alex called her."

"That's fine, Greg.  Could he have done the cars?"

"Possibly.  I didn't find any herbal residue at all though."  Brass nodded.  "Ask him, he'll probably plead insanity and claim it was all to make a potion to make him equal to a God."  He walked off, heading back to the house once he was out of sight.  He needed a hug and a kiss and Nick was still on his couch.  "Hodges is fine.  We can turn him back in a month."

"Good," Emilia said as she came down to hug him.  "I'm glad he's fine."  She kissed him gently, then gave him a long cuddle.  "Go back to work, Greg, and come home on time."  He nodded, disappearing to head back to the station.  "Poor Hodges.  I wonder what was going on?"  A paper landed at her feet and she looked at it, then snorted.  "That idiot!"  The wand soon followed and she called Penn, leaving a message on his voicemail to call her about the idiot trying to hurt others.  She went to fix Nick some soup, his stomach was still uptight from the treatment earlier in the day.


Hodges walked into Greg's lab and shut the door, looking at him. "Do you know how much that hurt?"

"I'm guessing here, but the same pain everyone else feels the first time they change shape?"  He grinned.  "I remember my first time, hurt like a bitch.  I nearly cried for weeks."

"You do what?"

Greg looked around, then phased down to his animagus form, a Desert Iguana.  Then he popped back to normal size, straightening out his t-shirt. "Hurt like hell the first time, and it's very cold in Scotland," he said dryly, smirking at him.  "Fortunately, Emilia and Blair both become warm, furry things so I could curl up with them."

" can do that?"

"Yeah, have since I was sixteen.  There wasn't anything else for us to do around the castle.  We'd already driven three teachers to drink, another one nearly to suicide, had detention roving weekly to try to separate us, and then we had a wonderful early snowstorm that canceled our quidditch practice for nearly two weeks.  We got bored.  It's a hard bit of studying but we got through it - made ourselves go through this.  Of course, I'd be in trouble for telling you this because I never registered and no one but the group knows," he said dryly.  "But if you keep my secret, I'll cover for you when you fly around your lab to try it out."

"I can?"

"Sure.  Think about it."  He grinned.  "It's all a matter of perspective, Hodges.  Sometimes you gotta be little to see the littlest things, and sometimes you gotta be bigger to see the whole picture.  Oooh, and here comes Ecklie," he said, glancing out the window.  "I'd hide.  He's not in a good mood."

"How do I do that?"

"Concentrate, want to become smaller and fly around."  Hodges screwed up his face, then let out a squeak as he suddenly shrunk.  Greg picked him up and put him on top of a microscope's eyepiece.  "Stay," he hissed, pulling over his next sample.

Ecklie stuck his head in.  "Sanders, where's Hodges?"

"I saw him a bit ago.  He may have went to hand someone a report."  He gave him the most sincere and earnest look he had.  "I'm sure he's fine, we got to him in time, long before that wacko could hurt him."

Ecklie walked in and shut the door.  "I know you've got a wand," he said bitterly.  "I know  you do things like Luna does."  Greg nodded, still looking like a young, nice guy.  "You do those things in here, don't you?"

"No.  I don't.  I do things in a way that can be admitted in court.  By the way, before you try blackmail, *everyone* on my shift knows.  I told Grissom first.  I made him taffy from a park bench.  I gave Brass bunny ears," he said smugly, moving closer.  "I don't do magic in my lab.  With two exceptions, one being one to save this lab's reputation and the other to protect the lab when someone came to attack me."  Ecklie winced at that.  "So, get out of my lab, before I have to have a talk with Luna about you.  Because trust me, Luna's one of my kids' favorite sitters.  We've known Ethan since before he ascended.  And if that's not good enough, I can always ask Alex Dumass to come in and politely do a dig here in Vegas, and find all sorts of shit about so many people that the town would collapse in ruin.  Because *we* made this town, not the mob."  He smiled sweetly.  "We financed the mob.  We told some of them where the town was.  We were hiding here first.  Now, if you don't mind, you're probably still shedding demonic cells from your last...prayer session and *my* lab is not going to be contaminated.  Please leave, before I have to start getting mean and dirty.  Remember, I'm a Bane.  It's in the blood."  Ecklie swallowed and left and Greg gripped the edge of his table, slowly mentally counting to a hundred backward in Russian.  "You didn't hear that," he said quietly, glancing back at the door.  "Don't worry about it, he's going to get his soon."

Hodges flew over to the other worktable and reappeared as a human.  "What do you have on him?"

Greg looked at him.  "Remember Luna Lovegood?"  He nodded after a moment, smirking.  "I'm sure you met Wes and Ethan then, right?"

"Yeah, but I don't remember very much being special about Ethan."

"Oh, he's demonic now," he said smugly, smirking at him.  "He likes certain people and wants to hit on Catherine but Luna gets upset whenever he thinks about her."

"Oooohkay."  He shook his head quickly.  "I didn't want that mental picture.  Do you think I can hide from Nick tonight?  I haven't gotten his latest stuff done yet."

"That's up to you, man.  Sometimes it's all a matter of perspective."

"Thanks, Greg, for covering, and for saving me," he said as he slid off the table and headed back to his lab.  He shut the doors and closed the blinds, like he hadn't come in yet, then practiced shrinking again.  It was kinda fun to fly around his lab.  He didn't know there were so many air currents in the place, he'd have to check into that to make sure nothing contaminated his samples.

Greg looked around then went back to animal form and hid under his table.  He needed a short break and he didn't want to be found either.

Warrick stuck his head in.  "I saw that."  Greg poked his head out so he could stick his tongue out, then pulled back into the shadows.  "Fine, you can have ten minutes.  What was up with Ecklie?"  He heard a snort and left it there.  It was probably something really mean and nasty that Greg was going to do to him anyway.   He knew Greg could get mean and nasty when he wanted to be.  He had asked Tipsy what a Slytherin was when he heard Greg was one.  It explained a lot about Greg.

Nick walked up the hall, looking into the DNA lab.  "No Greg?  I was going to take him with me tonight."

"His replacement's working days until they hire a new day person."  He glanced inside the lab, then shook his head.  "He was just there but I guess he had to pop out for some decent coffee or something."

"Man, not again.  He doesn't need that much coffee in a day."

"I heard that," Greg called as he reappeared, giving them a smug look.   "I didn't go out for coffee, I went to get some fresh air.  I have a headache.  I had to talk to Ecklie for a few minutes."

"Wanna head out, Greg?"

"Am I allowed?"

Nick looked at him.  "Good point. Let me check with Gris just in case, man.  That way you can see how all those neat samples get collected in the field."

"Do I need a spare pair of shoes?" he demanded.  Nick just laughed and walked off.  "That was a yes, wasn't it?" he asked Warrick, sounding resigned.  He got a nod in response.  "Wonderful," he said sarcastically.  "Got samples?"

"Not a bit, Greg, sorry.  Have fun in the dumpster though."

"Oh, yeah, wonderful fun."  He looked around his lab, finding a few samples that needed to be run sometime, but nothing critical or time sensitive.  "Aw, man," he complained.

"No, he can't go into the field," Grissom yelled down the hallway.  "I've got stuff coming in for him."

Greg looked up.  "Thank you," he whispered.  "No dumpster tonight please?"  He grinned as Nick walked past, shrugging.  "That's okay, some other time."

"Sure, Greg, make me do the nasty work."

"Hey, pull a cadet and give them training," he suggested.  He grinned at Grissom, rubbing his hands together.  "What do you have for me?"

He handed over a journal.  "You're not ready for that yet.  You owe me."

"More taffy?" he suggested with a grin.  "By the way, Ecklie's trying to blackmail me again.  I warned him I was going to whine to Luna."

"Wonderful.  What's Hodges doing?"

"Finding a new perspective on the world."  Grissom looked confused.  "Think about what happened, Gris."

"Oh!"  He nodded, walking that way, sticking his head carefully into Hodges's lab.  "As long as you don't ignore your work, I don't care if you try it out," he said quietly.  "Just don't ignore things."

"I'm not," Hodges said from behind the door.  "Greg?"

"Hiding.  Nick wanted him to do a dumpster job."


"Basically," Grissom said dryly.  "Having fun?"

"Actually, I am," he admitted, grinning at him.  "By the way, your sample fabric for the shroud is very complex, and it's not pure polyester either.  It's got some cotton and some silk threads here and there."  He handed over the report.  "I never would have noticed that under the scope."

"I'm glad.  Just remember not to ignore things and to eat.  I'm sure this takes some energy from you."

"Thanks, Grissom.  I didn't know you cared."

"Of course I do," he assured him.  "You're my trace guy.  We'd be doing a lot more work without you here."  He walked off, looking at his report.

"Well, that was almost gratitude," Hodges noted, going back to Nick's samples.  He'd need something to cheer him up when he got back. Dumpsters always made him pout.


Tipsy strolled up to the front desk of the station and grinned, leaning on it.  "Is Cat in?"

"Cat, ma'am?"

"Oooh, please don't ma'am me, child," she said in her most regal accent.  "I'm a Tipsy, not a ma'am."

"Oh, then you must want Catherine Willows.  She is in, but she's in the lab.  I could have her paged if you want."

"Please, dear.  I'll go sit over there?" she asked, pointing at a bench.  That got a nod and a grin as the woman picked up the phone.  Tipsy strolled over to sit down, smiling as Brass backtracked to look at her.  "Friendly news, detective, nothing tragic this time."

"That's fine.  Who were you going to see?"

"Cat.  They're paging her for me."

"Oh, okay.  Nothing big and bad, right?"  She shook her head.  "Promise?"

"I promise and swear on my wand, detective," she said with a bright smile.  "Actually it's my birthday and my boys got me a very good present and I wanted to know if Lindsey was coming over for spring break this year."

"Oh, that's good.  Happy birthday."  He walked off, smiling a bit.  It wasn't an emergency.  He ran into Catherine.  "It's Tipsy."

"Thanks.  What's wrong?"


Catherine walked into the waiting area.  "Nothing's wrong?"

"I wanted to brag on my birthday present, invite Lindsey over for spring break so we could totally corrupt her and maybe get her to date Percy, and so we could get her to distribute for us at her school."

"I'm so glad you guys sell pranks," she said dryly, giving her a hug. "What did your boys get you?"

"A weekend in Canada," she said smugly.  She beamed at her.  "Just the three of us with Ginny minding the store. Oh, Luna just called," she said, blinking a bit.  "She said she's not jealous that Ethan likes you but she won't let him hit on you again, and to please leave her pookie stallion's toy alone.  He's got a bad enough mind without Greg messing with it."  She shook her head.  "I don't have a clue what that's about but she just gave Sev a massive headache since she was in Potions."

"I'll pass that back," she promised.  "When is spring break?"

"Up there?  According to what we heard when we called her, he said mid-march.  She'll get a week.  We wanted a few days to finish corrupting her to our side."

"No, she's mine," Greg called as he strolled in, giving her a hug, whispering in her ear.


"My feelings exactly, that's why I was defending myself and I'll leave it there as long as he does," he promised smugly.  He pulled back, looking her over.  "I'll be nice if you will and bring us a new catalog."  She handed them over with a wink.  "Thanks, dear.  I've got to find certain overlords a birthday present."

"Page eighty-six," she said promptly.  "Of the special catalog."  He opened it to that page and burst out giggling before hugging her and hurrying back to his lab.  She looked at Catherine.  "I love doing that.  He laughs so cutely."

"He does," she agreed dryly.  "So, you really want to teach Lindsey?"

"We thinks she's got the evil mind to work in the business, but we agree she'll never be one of the great ones.  She'll definitely sell well though."

"I'd like some of her time too but you can have her come over for a day and an overnight," she offered.

"We can accept that.  Thanks, dear."  She kissed her on the cheek and handed her something.  "Here, to mimic blood spray when you need it.  That way you don't have to suck someone dry."  She winked and strolled out, heading for a dark corner to apparate home.

Catherine looked at the innocuous ball then stuck it in her pocket.  She headed back to Greg's lab.  "I want those catalogs when you're done with them," she called as she walked past there.  They landed on her head a moment later.  "Thanks, Greg."

"Welcome.  I already put in an order.  They're putting in multiple order forms now."

"Good!  They probably need them," she agreed, taking them to look over.  Grissom gave her an odd look so she handed over the ball.  "To mimic blood splatter."

"Oh, good, I could use this," he said happily, walking off to use it right then.  "Are they expensive?"

She looked in the catalog's index, finding the right page.  "Nope, few bucks each."

"Much cheaper than blood then," he said, sounding pleased.  "Can it be used to feed blood eating things?"

"No, that's a different ball," Catherine told him, heading to her garage to get back to work.  "New catalog from Tipsy and her boys."

Warrick gave her a horrified look. "Please don't do that to me.  To Nick or Greg, but not to me."

She grinned at him.  "They want Lindsey to come work for them."

"If she does, warn me, okay?" he asked, going back to his trunk examination.  "That way I can hide from the girl."

"Sure, Warrick, I'll tell her not to prank you too often.  She'll just have to get Nick, a lot."

Warrick looked around the trunk at her.  "Are you picking up on Greg's evil mood?"

"Yup, sure am," she said smugly.  She got to work looking for her samples in the front seat.  "Ooooh.  Semen.  Lots and lots of semen," she reported after a minute.  "I guess he takes the minute-man approach to outdoor life."

Warrick snickered, shaking his head.  "That's so bad.  But at least Greg will have something to do."

"Oooh, yeah.   Um, was our  There's way too much semen that looks really fresh."

Warrick came up to look at it.  "Looks like he had a long, dry spell.  Have fun scooping all that up."


"Hey, consider Greg's job," he said smugly.

"Yeah, better you than me," she said dryly.

"Not a chance.  The only semen I see is my own."  He went back to the trunk.

"You mean you never even tried it in college?"

"My grandmother would have killed me," he said patiently.  "Besides, not my thing.  I like the ladies.  Give me a lady any day."

"Fine."  She got to work scooping up the samples, marking the diagram of where she had gotten it from.  "It's under the seat.  How did he do that?"


"It doesn't do that.  It's not made of plastic," she complained.

"Liquids can rebound."

"If you say so."  She scooped up more, tucking it carefully away in it's own sample jar.  She put that one aside and grabbed another scraper stick to gather more.  "This is really disgusting.  He's not even a teenager."

"Some guys never grow up," Warrick said patiently.  "Found some blood."

"At least it's not semen."

"No, it's not.  Definitely not."  He ran a swab over it to test it.  "Yup, blood."  He cut out the small sample and tucked it into an envelope for Greg too.

By the time Catherine was done she needed a small tray for all the bottles.  She carried them carefully into Greg's lab.  "Greg?"  He appeared from underneath the desk, looking up at her.  "Cute.  Got a bad one for you."  He rehumaned himself and gave her an interested look.  "Okay, this is the diagram of the front seat.  Around, under, over, the roof, on the gear shift, ex cetera.  This is Warrick's blood from the trunk," she said, handing that over.  "Is there more than one sprayer in mine and who does the blood belong to."

He looked at the number of bottles and how full they were, then at her diagram. "You've got to be kidding me.  I couldn't do that when I was sixteen in the dorms and had Emilia curled up next to me due to nightmares."

"Warrick seems to think it's teenage behavior and this guy never grew up.  He's nearly forty."

"Okay, so how many gay encounters has he had?"

"He swears he's straight.  Warrick said his grandmother would have minded," she joked.

Greg snickered. "Yeah, I can see that about him.  How about this guy?"

"He swears he's straight too," she admitted, pushing the tray closer to him.  "Sorry about this."

"Not an issue.  I can easily suck up some and process without getting nasty.  Did you have fun?"

"No, I'm going to go puke up breakfast."  She walked out, going to get a new soda so she could clear her head of all thoughts.  She ran into Nick in the hallway outside the garage.  "You should have had this car, Nick.  That's more semen than I've ever seen before, even the one time I ended up dragging Eddie from the cheap whorehouse."

He gave her a look as she walked past him.  "That bad?" he asked the empty hallway.  He went to check on Greg.  "You missed some fun."

"No, I got some fun of my own," he promised, handing over a piece of paper.

"Whoa, what's that?" Nick asked, pointing at the tray.

"Cat's samples from the front seat."

"No wonder.  I haven't seen that much since the showers after the winning homecoming game in high school."  He walked out shaking his head.

"Maybe I was missing something in school," Greg sighed.  "We never had fun like that after a good game."


David, the assistant coroner, ran into Nick later that night.  "What are you doing back here already!" he demanded, looking upset with him.  "You're supposed to be on medial leave!"

Nick gave him the kicked puppy look that had worked on Grissom.  "I'm going to go insane without anything to do for six weeks," he complained. "I'm only coming in part time between treatments.  Not the day of or the day after.  I spent the first day of and day after on Greg's couch."

"He didn't let you have a bed?"

"No, I flopped down there and fell asleep," he admitted. "Emilia just covered me up."  He shrugged a bit.  "I'm being good. The doctors said I could come in between treatments and as long as I went home if I was starting to feel sick or tired I'd be fine."

"She put you on antibiotics?" he demanded, tapping a foot.

"Two, really.  That way I couldn't catch anything off anybody."

"Fine."  He was still frowning.  "I still don't like it. Your immune system will be weakened here in a few weeks.  I want you to take it easy or else I'm going to report you to Doc Robbins.  Do you understand me, Nick?"  He nodded, hurrying off.  He frowned at his back.  "That's not a good thing.  He'll ignore his treatments for something."

"He won't," Doc Robbins assured him as he came out.  "He knows better and Nick's not one for denial.  Besides, with two antibiotics, he could probably even withstand Greg's annual cold that's due soon."

"I'd forgotten that was coming up soon. I need to stock up on medicine for then."  He walked off, shaking his head.  He'd never let a patient doing treatments, even laser treatments, back-to-back come back to work in this department until they had been cleared.  You never knew what you could pick up from a dead body.  He paused, looking at Greg look at a sample with disgust. "What is that?"

"Don't ask," he said, shaking his head.  "Just don't ask.  Catherine found it.  It's animal."  He ran another sample through and then tucked it away.  He didn't want to think about that.  He'd have nightmares.


Alex walked up the last few feet of the pathway, looking at the demon. "Hey."

"I can't let you in," it said tiredly.

Xander moved closer, leaning against the wall beside where it was stuck.  "You know, they've all moved on.  I can tell spirits and there's none here."  The demon frowned at him.  "I know, my mom's in Vengeance.  This has got to be the suckiest job on the planet.  You're stuck here in the middle of nowhere, on a hidden pathway, in an empty city that is holding you hostage.  I feel for you, man, that's why I came to release your bonds."

"You're not going to try to kill me?"

"Why?  For doing your job?  You haven't shown yourself to be only aggressive.  You're obviously at least somewhat intelligent and you haven't attacked yet.  I don't attack thinking beings unless they attack me."

"What about the city?" he asked miserably.  "I'm supposed to watch it."

"Yeah, but what are you watching?  There's no one here.  No spirits, no ghosts, nothing.  All there is is an empty city that we can learn from again.  Which is what I want to do.  I want to raid the library, copy any and all scrolls or books, and then I want to learn from them.  I'm even teaching others how to learn from the Ancients now."

"Who are you?" he asked quietly.

"Alexander Dumass.  Cursebreaker."

"The Demon Killer of Cairo."

"At one time," he admitted.  "Then again, they attacked me.  You're not."  He winked and grinned.  "I'm decent to those I like."

"I still can't let you in."

"Yeah, but I can release you before you could kill me."

"You can't.  The spell's bound my body."

"Hmmm.  Not quite," Alex said confidently.  "Let me step ten feet inside?"  The demon looked hesitant.  "I'll be within quick grabbing distance the whole time."

"Fine.  I guess it can't hurt since they're all gone now."  He watched as the wizard walked inside and knelt down on a spot, watching as he said something and cast a charm into the ground.   He felt the bond tighten and groaned, grabbing his middle, then it suddenly snapped and he heard a crash.  "What?" he had time to ask before he faded out, heading back to his native realm.  He looked around at the long-missed architecture and grinned.  "I'm home!  He did it!  He released me!"  He grabbed the first demon he saw to hug and kiss on the cheek then went running for his master to report what had happened.  He had been gone a long time, the old apprentice was now the master and he had nearly forgotten him.

Alex stood up and dusted off his knees, checking the demon's former anchor to make sure it was fully closed.  He didn't want the poor guy being pulled back and having to deal with Ron.  No one deserved a grumpy, sexless Ron.  Especially not them.  He finally looked around their town, smiling in accomplishment.  "Oi, Bill, it's clear," he yelled.  Bill was only a mile or so away with the pack animals.  "It's intact too!"  He went to stroll along the main street, looking at the buildings and the wells.  He found a fertility well and drew a big red line around it, just in case Ron didn't listen this time either. Then again, if Ron didn't quit acting so stupid on occasion, he might just polyjuice him into Dawn, push him into the well, then let her polyjuice herself into Severus or Dumbledore or someone to try him out.  "That's a good idea.  I'll have to share that one," he said smugly, heading off to look at more things.  It really was like the people had just stepped out of the village for a few hours and would be right back.   There were even some plants growing in a few gardens.  Wild now, but they were growing well.  One was a well-known trap but it was still a heartening sight.  Bill finally panted through the gateway with their mules and stopped to stare.  "Neat, huh?" he asked smugly. "I released the demon, sent him home.  Pull the mules this way and they can park in the central square."

"Sure, Alex," he said, still staring in awe at what had to be a public building.  "Is that the library?"

"No, that's the main temple.  It has a library, I can feel the magical books in there," he offered.  "The library's in the mountainside," he said, pointing at the end of the road he was on.  Bill smirked at him. "All ours with the students for four months."

"Good!  I could use some new reading material," Bill said smugly.  "How long before the twits get here?"

"Two days.  They're spending a dinner and a shower at home then coming back here.  They'll have to come up the path too.  So an overnight camping then getting up here."

"Wonderful!" Bill agreed happily.  "Then we can mark all the traps and make them find them again.  It'll be good practice for Ron, he's being stupid again."

"It's the lack of sex."

"Then I'm sure Dawn must be driving someone up a wall."

"Actually, Luna's doing worse.  She accidentally sent herself to Greg's while summoning two imps and an incubus into the school.  Professor Armwrench was rolling around for hours from what Severus said," he noted happily.

Bill looked stunned. "Now there's a Bane, mate."  He shook his head and drug the mules to where they'd be setting up, letting them lounge in the shade for now.  They'd put up the tents later, once they got done exploring.  Though he was nice enough to pull up some water for them and take their packs off their backs.  He followed Alex toward the library, just needing a peek for now.  That'd tell him how many years of reading he had in front of him.  Maybe he'd even tell Charlie about some of them this time.  He'd been complaining about boredom.


To Part 16

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