Horatio looked up and smiled as Tiffany walked into his office a few days later. "Did we get the other one fixed? Speed's pouting about missing classes."
"We did. Amber's putting on a security system for verification. Also, Amanda wanted to know if you've looked over that one guy's classes." He handed over the thumbnail drive, making her smile. "How is he doing?"
"Excellent. He's taken a few classes he didn't need to and he needs to take two of the mandatories I require. I added a text file with my notes."
"I'll put it into his file tonight," she promised, smiling at him. "Ryan's one of our favorite guinea pigs. Even though he's a bit uptight and things." She crooked a finger. "Come on, let's go see." He followed, smiling at the small box next to the laptop. "I see you know what that's for."
"With a bloodflow sensor so they can't use a fake hand," Amber said, smiling at him. "Do I need to add classes to Ryan's list?" Horatio nodded. "I can do that in a second." She finished installing the new software then plugged in the wireless antenna again, locking it back in. Speed leaned in right after the loud, shrill beep. "Hi, sweetie."
"I love you two." He came in to get his own laptop back. "Thankfully I've got tomorrow off." He walked his laptop off, going to lock it in his locker and the backpack in there. He'd take it home later. He came back and Horatio was uploading a list of cleared personnel to use the computer. He looked it over. "You included Alexx?"
"I figured it might come up sometime," he admitted, finalizing the list as he had been told to. The computer went searching, coming up with them out of the fingerprints database. "Everyone but Calleigh's for some reason."
"They spelled her name wrong," Speed reminded him. "She's been trying to get it fixed for three years. Calleigh!" She came walking in. "They can't find your fingerprints."
"We can upload you manually," Tiff promised, getting into the proper screen to do that. "Come here, sweetie." She came over and let her little box read her fingerprints from both hands. "There we go." She smiled and clapped her hand. "Okay, we're good, now we have to check calibration. Speed, go easy on Teacher tonight, she might pout about missing you for so long."
"I did a few things during lunch," he admitted. "She does miss me." That got a smile from Horatio. "She's very life-like."
"She is," Tiff agreed. "Even my husband liked her and he hated the whole family." Calleigh let out a small smile at that. "One of my less than normal brothers has offered to use him as a sacrifice." She shrugged. "I didn't want to pop for airfare to Mexico." She turned and kissed Speed on the cheek. "You need to calm down. You're vibrating and it's shaking the floor." She walked past him, spanking him on the ass. "Going to see cutie."
"He's off today," Speed told her.
"Pity." She came back and checked everything Horatio was doing. "Cool. Amber, have you seen what they've got in the hummers?"
"I haven't. I should. I've got to figure out how to update the mobile lab stuff." Horatio smiled while he was typing then led her out so she could look one over. "This is impressive," she decided, running a hand over the built-in scanner. "What's your gig size?"
"Three here with sending capabilities."
"Hmm. And ours are so much smaller and more compact." She shrugged and got to work looking at the programs installed and what they had. "Damn. This stuff is nearly ancient." He gave her a look. "I know, I work in a futuristic lab. I work with stuff that the Jetsons would marvel at. This is still a few years old." He nodded. "So we'll fix that for you, love." She crawled backward once she was out of the system, letting him help steady her as she got out of the back of the hummer, then let him close the doors. "Do you take them off-road a lot?"
"Now and then into the Everglades. Some rough back roads now and then."
She nodded. "Then I'll get to work on shock proofing a laptop system for the hand-held units. "We good with keeping it at one for now?"
"That's what I'd expect," he assured her. "How is Mac doing theirs?"
She grinned. "They're getting a travel case." He smirked at that. "I know, but they've got more miles of road than you do. No Everglades." She took his arm and walked him back inside. "What capabilities do you absolutely need if I have to pick and choose?"
"The ones in the tester lab are about what I'd want. If you could add something to detect radiation and things that would help as well. Just as a secondary action."
"Of course." She smiled at him, letting him get the elevator button. "You're single, right?" He smirked and nodded. "Good, I've got sisters out the ass who'd love to debauch you and mess up your hair. And a few who're nicer and wouldn't touch your hair, but the rest of you would be fair game." He chuckled, getting on with her, and she smiled and waved at the guy watching them looking confused. "Who's the grandpa?"
"That's Detective Frank Tripp. He's a good man," he assured her, still smiling. "Try to set Speed up first. He could use a good woman or whatever."
"Well, I do have a few sisters who're basically whatevers." They walked off the elevator and he was still laughing. "We're really not sure what species their fathers were. Now and then Mom has some really strange taste. Not counting the guy who took her hostage on safari to take care of his daughter for him since his wife had died." He smiled at her. "She did! We love the half-sister and her two siblings that Mom had with him but still!" She walked him back into the tester lab. "So, we up?"
"We are," Tiff agreed. "How're the hummers?"
"Three gigs. They want the hand-helds with a geiger."
"I think we can do that," she admitted. "Plus processing capabilities?"
"Definitely." She gave Horatio's arm a squeeze. "Has Rachel been hanging around? Horatio said that Speed could use a good woman or whatever."
"Rachel is definitely a whatever," she agreed dryly, giving her a look. "Behave. You suck at matchmaking!" She got back to calibrating things, ignoring Speed's red hot blush. "Then again, maybe we can set her up with Eric so he can figure out if she's female or not."
"We could," she agreed. She looked around and went to find him. "Eric, if I asked would you date a sister we're not sure is female?"
"Did we do surgery on her?" he teased with a small smile.
"No, but she best fits into the category of whatever."
He snickered. "I've dated a few women who could be described that way," he admitted. "We'll see. It depends on her."
"I'll let her know." She walked off, swishing her hips. She saw the same bald guy looking around. "Awww, you look like you're in awe of the technology. There's no need to be wary of technology, it can't really eat people. Yet." She smiled and took his hand, towing him to where Horatio was. "I found this puppy wandering around and he was so pitiful so I brought him home, Mom. Can I keep him?"
Tiff looked at her. "I thought you gave up on strays after that one idiot."
"No, I gave up dating guys because they were *pretty*, not because they're lost or strays."
"It's always better to date for personality and brains," Horatio agreed with a small smile for Frank. "In awe of the new technology?"
"I am. Is that laptop running all this?"
"Each one's independent; the laptop's the interface," Tiff told him, smiling at him. "Hi, Detective Tripp."
"Do you own any regular pants?" he asked.
She grinned and shook her head. "Nope. Sorry. Be thankful I'm not my brother Studly. He walks around naked in the labs." She got back to work. "All right, that's got it." She smiled and let Speed trade places with her, letting her pause teacher for him. "You can finish that at lunch, sweetie." She spanked him again then walked Frank out. "So, what're we doing today, studly?"
"Waiting on results."
"Ah, waiting for words from the lips of the Gods," she teased. "That's always a fun pastime." She walked them around someone staring at them. "Red should be done soon. One of the mean bitches on night shift erased the laptop so we had to fix it and install some security stuff." He smiled at that. "So give him an hour probably."
"Sure, I can do that. Thank you, Tiff."
"Welcome, studly." She walked back and got the fingerprint scanner, going to put it outside the door. It got affixed in place and she fiddled with the lock on the door. "Ah, there, self locking. We can hook it into the sensor." They all smiled at that. "Bam, no more problems and not even a frying pan in sight to hit the bitches with." She went to get the stuff she'd need and came back to fix the door. "Red, studly's waiting on some information to drip from your lips like wine passed to your lover."
"I'll get that for him," he assured her, going to do that so he wouldn't get more embarrassed. They were quite...dynamic. It was a bit overwhelming.
"Wait until you guys come in for the ballistics tests," Amber called after him.
Speed looked at the ladies around him. "Calleigh will coo. How soon?"
"Within a few weeks. We're still digging one out of storage." Tiff grinned at him. "Go play." He went to work in Trace for a while. The sisters shared a look. "Red did say to set Speed up first, that he could use a good woman or whatever."
"We can have Steph there." She shrugged. "She's in weapons research. She'd probably coo over them with the cute blonde one."
"Amber, she's straight. She said so."
"And? You can never have enough friends to coo with."
"Point. Or shop with. Speaking of, he burned all my pants. Do we realize this?"
"Did you tell Mom?"
"They just got her back and awake."
"Good point. Tell Philip?"
Tiff looked at her. "Do I look like I want to hear so many 'I told you so's?"
"No," she admitted. "But it'd be fun to watch him smack the shit out of your soon-to-be- ex."
"Oh, the judge thinks I should be supporting him." She put one hand on her hip, using the other to wave around and make her points with. "I pointed out that I work for the family company. I don't make half as much as he does. My patents are things that can get him killed because people want them. Ooh, and since *I'm* keeping our kid no way in hell am I paying him to sit on his ass and do nothing all day while I'm taking care of Miffy."
"Miffy?" Speed asked from behind her.
"Muffin, our daughter." She shrugged. "It was good drugs. We decided Miffy was a better name after her second day of school."
"I bet. You might also point out that if he tries to sue you for support that means it'll be cut off if he ever gets married again and then you'd have to be able to check up on him. Frequently."
She squealed and hugged him. "Thank you, I needed that!" She called her ex. "You do know that I'll have to check on you *frequently* if I pay you support? Yes, I would. Oh, yes, I would. I'll make sure it's part of the agreement, baby, plus remember, you'll lose it when you marry your ho next month." She giggled. "So, anything else?" She hung up when he started to splutter. "Bastard. God, the boy was stupid enough to tell me he slept with his brother once on purpose!" Amber looked at him. "After the wedding. Otherwise I would've taken Horace up on his offer to use him as a blood sacrifice."
"Would've made an interesting honeymoon to Mexico," Amber agreed happily enough. "Please start showing better taste than Mom, okay?"
"I'm trying," she complained. "It's hard! No one can keep up with my brains!" She walked off pouting. Then she came back. "Think the cutie in Vegas who went to Croans? Him I could pounce a lot and mess up his hair."
"Well, he's cute, hyper, smart, and thinks like you. You could try. He's a nice guy." She shrugged. "If he's single go for it. Can't be worse than what you're dumping."
"True." She went to call their older sister. "Dear, did you offer anything out to Vegas? Because one of the school kids from Croans is out there and he's cute, hyper, funny, and thinks like I do." She beamed. "Him, yup. Thanks, Amanda. No, he wanted support." She giggled at her sister's very loud laughter. "Exactly. Fank you, sweetie. Putting a fingerprint scanner on the door should fix it. Amber's looking at the hummers. When's the ballistics test?" She beamed. "Thanks. Love you." She hung up. "Hey, Blondie and Red?" They both came out of ballistics. "The bang-up stuff is coming in next week. Going right to the lab. We can arrange it sometime in the week after that but the guys from New York want to come down and be ignored by half the lab for not supporting them when they got broken into up there."
"None of the lab was there at that time," Horatio told her.
"I know that and you know that, but they're still holding a grudge."
"I'll get with Mac to see when he can come down," he promised. She beamed. "How long should it take?"
"It depends on what sort of testing you want to have from the laser weapon." She shrugged and went back to installing the security system to make sure no one would be touching their stuff again without permission. "Sis laughed, Amber. I told her he wanted support."
"I did too," she agreed. "See if Steph can come down?"
"Sure!" She texted her. Then she got back to work.
"So, what's this other sister like?" Eric asked.
"You read Harry Potter?" He nodded slowly. "Think a goth Trelawany. Kinda. She mediates to her crystal ball and scrying pool to get new weapons ideas." That got a slower nod and Eric walked off nodding a bit faster at that. "She's not the strangest. She just likes explosives." She finished tightening things and closed the door then got back into it. She pulled Speed out and made him do it. It worked. "There, that should help." She pulled Cooper over. "You try." He did and he got shocked. "Hey, it does work." She kissed him on the cheek and bounced off. "There ya go, Red. I'm off to blow up the lab. Call me if you need me." She skipped out, smiling at Frank. "I could bring you back to the lab. Someone wants a body model for a new robot."
"I'm too old for that," he teased back. "So, how's the ex?"
"Wanted support but I'd get our daughter Muffin."
"They were good drugs!"
"I can tell," he joked, smiling at her. "You need someone to take you shopping?"
"No, I'm content. Oh, you might wanna warn Red that my brother Studly is in and he's never worn clothes in the lab."
"Doesn't that risk contamination?"
"No, he shaves all his body hair," she said seriously. She shrugged. "He's just like that. He works in germ warfare prevention too." She beamed and headed for her Corolla, her music coming on nanoseconds after she turned the key. She backed out with a beep and headed off.
One of the patrol guys coughed. "Who is that?" he asked.
"The tech support girl for the lab equipment they're testing. Her sister's the brunette up there in khakis."
"Oh. Interesting family. Did she just say they have a biochemist in the family who works naked?"
Frank looked at him. "Does that really surprise you?"
"No, not really," he admitted, walking off again.
Frank considered it. He wondered if that was the guy's name but then again all lab techs were strange to him.
Mac smiled as Amanda walked into his office. "So far it's all working very well," he promised.
"Good, I like that." She leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. "The ballistics tests will arrive in the Miami lab within a week," she said quietly. He moaned. "I can you get passes in for that event."
"I'd like to see that. Most of us?"
"Whoever wants to go. One's a laser weapon."
"Laser guided?" he asked.
"No, I meant what I said, Mac. It's a working prototype of a vehicle mounted laser system." He moaned. "I told Calleigh that she could blow up whatever she wanted."
"Oh, I'll be there," he said happily. "With bells on."
"I'll make sure it excludes bells then, dear. Talk to Horatio about when's a good time so we only have to blow up parts of the lab once, okay?" He nodded eagerly. "Have I mentioned that I like that Flack boy? He's sweet."
"He is and his mother would swat me if I didn't point out he's single."
"I couldn't put up with the in-laws," she teased back. "He can go. Tell me who by tomorrow."
"I will." She smiled and handed over a review sheet. "Questionnaires?" She nodded. "I can do that. We've been running double on a few different type of cases."
"That's more than reasonable. Copy those for the next set next month." He nodded at that. "Good. Now, how are you doing on the quarantining? I heard some of Horatio's nightshift idiots went after the equipment down there out of jealousy. One of them was even in the same group as Miss Monroe." He frowned at that. She nodded. "They do hate us. Spread all sorts of lies about the Sisterhood subverting the world, having world dominance plans, and on and on and on until Mom really just wants to beat the lot of them." She smiled. "Not that we *don't* help some girls who can't go onto great things find decent husbands they can manipulate to encourage more women to be strong women, but we're not really trying to take over the world, just give it a bit of civility."
He smiled at her. "It could use it now and then. I've run into a few Sisters out on aide missions while I was in the service. I was always happy to eat with them. They always had good intel, they always listed things that were relevant, even if some did want to emasculate some men so they'd quit stealing the women and children's food, and they did it without a sermon for my guys."
She nodded. "Those on aide missions are forbidden to give religious sermons to any but those who ask. We're more worried about giving medical care, education, and farming help. It pisses off some of the local men when they come in with new farming skills and ideas that go against tradition but work better when their fields are tired and can't produce. We usually end up doing a tester garden for the school kids and the clinic. Then we let the guys watch and come poach food. It works." He smiled at that. "Then again, some of you guys have had to save some of our sisters from some mighty idiots who went after them for taking care of women and children. And a few who meddled in greater fields. Including one who did emasculate a few generals for daring to starve his village's women and children so the men could glut themselves, then blame the women when the kids started to die. But he got what he deserved," she finished with a sweet smile. Mac nodded. "Sorry, I'm having a bloodthirsty day."
"They happen to the best of us," he assured her. "I'll let you know by tomorrow. We like working with Horatio's crew."
"They are adorable," she agreed. "Well, I'll leave you to the all-important paperwork. I know Horatio always seems to have a lot on his desk."
"I go into the field more than he does," Mac admitted grimly. "Do you have an automated secretary?"
"No, but I can have someone plant a chip in someone's head if you want."
"No thanks. I'd probably get in trouble for that." She smirked but nodded. "I'll let you know. Go have fun for a change. You still look tired."
"Tiff's getting divorced and the idiot wants her patents," she said grimly. "Wanted her to support him too." She walked out to his laughter. She found Danny and Sheldon in the hall, hugging them both. "Weapons demonstration?"
"Not my thing," Sheldon reminded her. "Why? Something new?"
"Then I'll stay that weekend," Sheldon promised. "Danny?"
"Weapons are definitely not my thing," he admitted.
"Then let Mac know, darlings. Have a good day. Mac thought I should go spend some time off."
"Go find a better boy to take dancing," Danny offered. That got a smile and a nod and she left. "Hmm." They went to talk to Mac. "Not our thing, Mac."
"The demonstration?" he asked. They both nodded. "That's fine, we'll let you guys be on-call during that time."
"Um, not this weekend I hope?" Sheldon offered. "I have that medical continuing education conference."
"I forgot, but I don't have you on." That got a smile. "It'll be down there in about a week, boys."
"Sure," Sheldon agreed. "We're your clean up crew, Mac." He smiled and walked off.
"Did you want to see the Teacher program?"
"I wouldn't mind. Bring it over for dinner tonight?" Danny grinned and nodded. "Can we bring Don and Stella?"
"She cleared 'em for other stuff so I guess." He walked off, going to make plans on how to run home and get it then show up at his house for dinner. He heard Don squeal and snickered. "Someone's going to play with the pretty weapons." He continued to smile but quit talking to himself when he ran into Lindsey.
Horatio looked up as a young officer in a patrol uniform knocked on his door. "Yes, Officer?"
"Lieutenant Caine, I'm Ryan Wolfe, sir." That got a smile. "I did get your notes. I knew they were quirky choices but they were fun."
"That's fine. Your scores have been very good so far. You have applied?" A typed application was put down in front of him, including recent credits and a full set of transcripts from everything he'd done for science classes. He looked it over then at him. "This is fairly comprehensive."
"She said you were a bit fussy."
"OCD actually," he admitted, glancing around then back at him. "I know you don't have an opening at the moment, but please do keep me in mind for the next one?"
"I can do that. It might even be within the year." Ryan smiled at that. "So, you work in the labs?"
"I do. They're doing a cleaner study and I'm one of their favorite local guinea pigs. One of them's been working on food science stuff for the last few years so I've been taste testing and those things as well as working in the labs as a gopher or assistant."
"Interesting. We'll be going in for a weapon's demonstration." His face lit up. "If you can get clearance you're more than welcome to join us."
"I'd like that. Who's using Teacher in the lab? Tiff said someone was but she calls everyone pet names."
"I've noticed," he offered with a small smile. "Speed is. Speed!" he called. He came jogging up the stairs. "This is Ryan Wolfe. The one who they've been testing the forensics classes on."
"Hey. You going for a job here?" Ryan smiled and nodded, not trying to shake his hand since he was wearing gloves. Speed gave him a look so Ryan looked at his hands then he looked. "Yeah, that happens now and then," he admitted. "I was doing fluid samples." He pulled them off and shook his hand. "How long before you finish?"
"I've finished all the ones Lieutenant Caine suggested and a few other quirky choices. Right now I'm doing CE credits and just goofing off at night."
"That's about what I'm doing. Where are you in physics?"
"Doctor Wallendorf. Though I'm also trying my hand at a higher math from some new teacher out at Cal Sci."
"I looked at that but it's not my strongest suit."
"Mine either but they say he's a decent teacher in person and it's all taped lectures."
"Hmm. I might try that. Did you know some of the guys in the New York lab were working on it as well?"
"I have talked with Sheldon. He's in one of my classes and we conspired on a joint paper over the last few weeks. There's also a guy out of Vegas' lab that is on the system as another guinea pig. He went to one of the Sisterhood's schools. One I heard was *incredibly* hard. It's all taught in Latin."
"That's hard," Speed decided, nodding. "Which guy?"
"His name's Greg."
"Their DNA guy," Speed said, nodding at that. "That works for us." He smiled as Tiff squealed and pounced Ryan. "He came up to introduce himself."
"Plus to hand in my application and transcripts personally," Ryan admitted, giving her a squeeze. He looked her over then into her eyes. "You can drag me shopping," he sighed.
"Okay." She beamed. "Does that mean I can put you in pleather again?"
"Please don't. I looked like a dork."
"Fine. Meany. Make me set you up with Steph or someone." She spanked him and looked at Speed. "You've completed a class. Your final analysis is waiting in your inbox." He hurried off to do that. She looked at him. "You passed your last one with a B?"
"It was incredibly hard," he complained. "Not even in my usual field."
"I guess that's all right. Are you coming for the weapons things?"
"I am if you want and the Lieutenant wants."
"Please?" she asked Horatio, batting her eyes at him.
"That would be fine," he assured them both. "You won't have to wear a uniform that day, Ryan."
"Thank you, Lieutenant. Oh, watch out for Studly. He's a naked lab tech in germ warfare prevention." He saluted then walked off, going back to his post.
"I like him. He's so sweet. Even if he is a bit mixed up and he has this one horrible brat who keeps making him say stuff he shouldn't now and then. Cousins and she's a bitch. Even worse than some of the ones in my family." She hugged Horatio. "I'm so proud of you. That's why you get the questionnaires." She pulled one out of her back pocket and handed it over. "Photocopy it for next month before you fill it out." She danced off to check everything then go work on the hummer they were outfitting. They had to do a *lot* of wire upgrades before they could implant machines.
He looked it over. Simple enough. Yes/no, ten point scales, and a comment section. He got up to copy it then settled in to fill it out. He had no complaints with anything but Tiff's short shorts and those he'd take up with her in person the next time Cooper ran into a wall watching her butt wiggle while she worked.
Horatio walked up to the very bland looking industrial building, waiting in front of the unmanned doors for the others who were supposed to be here today. Mac, Stella, and Don Flack had come in last night. They'd had dinner with his team. He saw Speed park and get off his bike, smiling at him. "I thought you weren't coming."
"Teacher reminded me I should."
"Someone got to her?" he teased.
"Yup. The ladies are very proud so they wanted to brag." He looked over as a loud car pulled in and parked, looking stunned. "Sanders."
"Hey, guys. The beauteous ones invited me down for this." He beamed. "Me and Bobby. He's asleep in the back of the car." He opened a door and nudged someone. "We're here." He yawned and got out, heading up to the growing group. "Sorry, we're still on midnights."
"It happens," Horatio promised, shaking their hands. "We're waiting on the trio from New York, Calleigh, Eric, and Ryan Wolfe, who has been learning forensics through the Teacher program."
"Cool. I did too," Greg assured him dryly. "I've chatted with Ryan many times and conspired quite a bit on projects." He looked over as a few other cars pulled in and it looked like everyone else was here but Ryan. He frowned and counted heads. "Just Ryan missing?"
"It appears so," Horatio agreed. He looked up at the building, then used his pass to get himself inside. They each had to use their pass before the door opened. They met Ryan inside, finding him already lab coated and gloved. "Already working today?"
"Yup. It was my day to gopher. This way, guys. I can lead you to the ballistics section of the lab." He smiled. "You might want to keep your passes in hand even though you should be wearing them. We've got to go through six more checkpoints and only one has humans." He led them into the bowels of the building, giving them the short tour. "This floor is mostly computer stuff and other physical projects. The tester garage. New computer programs," he said, pointing at one section. "Anything coded blue like that doorway was and you'll be going through an air vent and airlock process." He got them through the other checkpoints, ending up with the human one. "Hi, guys. Here for the ballistics thing."
"Amanda said you'd be by," the guard checking them over said. "Flack, huh?"
"That asshole was my father, I'm not," Don said patiently. "If someone breaks into your lab, please get them so we only have to clean things up as long as it's for a good reason."
The guard smile. "You suck up very well."
"Thanks," he said with a grin. "I keep hearing about all the pretty sisters in the company."
"Oooooh. You haven't met Tiff and Steph, right?"
"I like Tiff," Speed said dryly. "She gave me a Teacher laptop, I adore the woman. Especially because she fixes things very quickly." They let them through even though they were laughing. They all paused to stare at the naked guy walking casually up the hall. Totally shaved. Only wearing gloves. "Huh. I thought they were joking," he said quietly.
Ryan shook his head. "Nope. Studly, quit showing off to my future bosses," he complained.
Studly just looked over and grinned. "I could use a gopher today, Ryan."
"I know you could but they've got the ballistics thing and I've been invited too."
"Pity. Anyone else want to come help me in the lab today?"
"Most of us are straight but you might convince someone," Don offered, still staring. He was six-four or so, very well muscled, and very well built. He nudged Stella to make her quit drooling. "Mac won't let you bring him home."
"Mac, are you sure we can't bring home a new tech?" Studly walked off laughing. "Maybe we should offer."
"You could replace Monroe," Don agreed.
"Just don't wish her on us," Greg muttered, making the others laugh. "Yes, we've heard. I've got Catherine, Nick, and Warrick, plus the ever-uptight Sara on my shift. She might feel at home but one more stick-up-the-butt person in the lab and I'm heading out screaming for mercy."
Bobby patted him on the back. "We'll let Hodges reprogram you," he assured him gently.
"Ewwww! Ickickick!" He full body shuddered. "I just saw the picture of him that he showed around at the picnic again. The one with the sparkly thong. Ewww." Ryan hugged him. "Thank you," he said weakly. "Can I send Hodges to you guys?"
"Ask Mac, we don't need anyone else in Trace, especially not someone that mean and snarky, I might feel overshadowed and have to challenge him," Speed said. "Mac?"
"He'd have to be on the other shift, but I can see if he wants to change," Mac offered. "I'm all for poaching and Gil doesn't growl half as well as Horatio does when I try his people." Horatio gave him a look. "I've got to try to steal Calleigh, you know that."
"Then we'd have to switch equally with yours," Horatio reminded him.
"You can have Messer, he's pouting," Don offered. "People keep throwing his family back at him."
"There's an easy solution to that. It's called a molitov cocktail," Greg said blandly, giving him a look. "Boom, no more problems. You even get a cheery bonfire to tell stories around for a few hours."
Ryan looked at Greg, then took him by the wrist and drug him off. "We'll be right back." He walked him into the break room and pointed. "Look, , Greg, coffee. Go get the coffee, Greg. Get the coffee."
"I'm still not your bitch, Ryan." He went to get some coffee, inhaling and moaning. "Oooh, nearly as good as my usual."
"It's a blended mix," Ryan admitted. "Tiff drinks it. A lot." Greg smiled and took a sip, getting a blissed out look on his face. Amanda walked in and got her own cup. "He was in caffeine withdrawal."
"It happens to Tiff now and then too. The lids are in the top cabinet, Greg." He finished that cup and got another and a lid, following her and Ryan back to the main group. "We all here? Anyone need a potty break? There's none inside the lab." A few of them headed for the bathroom Ryan pointed at, then rejoined her. "Okay." She used her ID card to get them into the lab, letting them proceed her. She smiled at Ryan. "Good of you to come out of the biochem lab."
"I'm still playing with that new bouncy ball someone made." He looked at the three things in front of them. "We actually found the old prototype?"
"We did." She beamed at him. "What do we want to play with first? First prototype laser, last prototype laser, or the new rocket system?" Calleigh let out a small whimper and so did Bobby, who was petting the newer rockets. "Let's start there then." They grabbed safety equipment and she showed everyone how they worked.
"Ladies first," Bobby said in his gentle southern accent.
"Thank you." She kissed him on the cheek and stepped up to aim at the wall in front of her then fire the rockets. It exploded then two minutes later the wall started to melt. "Ooooh," she moaned, squeezing her knees together. Bobby whimpered, but he was right behind her back. "I like this," Calleigh told everyone. "We might even be able to use this in SWAT."
"Only if it was more carryable," Horatio told her, shaking his head. The two gun geeks were so cute. Greg giggled and sipped more of his coffee, but Ryan smacked him on the shoulder. "How fast does it reload?"
"It's not hard. It's already got missiles made," Amanda promised. Calleigh and Bobby broke, crawling all over the rockets and the launcher, loading and unloading, checking the size of the rockets. "We did think about making that in a more efficient form, like a regular paint-can sized bomb but we weren't sure."
"It could help," Horatio agreed. "Especially if you could muffle the first explosion so it can't be heard from inside the building."
Mac nodded. "If they could do that I could see it used in a strike team as well." Amanda looked at him. "I know the military and you have a lot of problems. There's other good countries who could use it. Britain. Maybe Japan."
"They could," she agreed. She made a note on that. "I'll see what they can do. Steph mostly plays with the bombs. She likes explosives."
"Where is the goth divinations teacher anyway?" Ryan teased. "You guys, there's still two lasers to play with too." They bounced over to look at the older prototype. Always start with the older then go to the newer to see what advances had been made.
"Steph is upstairs napping in her hammock." She walked over to a console and typed into it, smiling when Horatio followed. "We have video chat set up all over the building. It's the only way you can speak to some of my people. Steph, we're doing weapons and suggestions are being made about the acid bomb."
"I'm coming! Let me put on clothes!" she complained, just out of sight. "Give me ten."
"Thank you. We're in demo 3, Stephni." She hung up and looked at him. "She'll get coffee too." She looked at Greg, then called her back. "Bring in an extra cup if you can and Tiff if she's around."
"Tiff crawled in with me an hour ago. She found a slutty toy last night, I doubt she'll want to get up," Steph retorted, coming into view. "Who's down there with a coffee habit?"
"Greg Sanders. He went to Croans."
"That's more than enough reason to need coffee." She signed off and disappeared.
Amanda led him back so they could go over the other weapons and what they did. Bobby and Calleigh were babbling like a two-headed person. Greg got his coffee handed over his shoulder, earning his lust and a happy grin from him. "Greg, dear, that's my just littler sister Stephni."
"Hi. Greg Sanders."
"I figured hair like that could only come from someone who was rebelling from Croans." She gave him a real, deep, with tongue kiss. "Tiff said to give that to you," she said with a wink, walking over there. "Did someone fire my baby!" she demanded.
"We did," Calleigh said, looking at the black haired, pale skinned, never seen the sun untanned, black jeans shorts and tight black t-shirt with a scary looking little girl on it woman and grinned. "You must be Steph. They said you were a bit goth."
"Just a bit. I don't sleep in a coffin anymore." She beamed. "So, what can we do with the rockets?"
"How about make them portable and muffle the sound?" Horatio offered. "SWAT could use that."
"Hmm. Explosions are pretty."
"Yes but with the delay it gives the bad guys time to run and hide," Mac told her. "I can see it for use by strike forces as well, like the British Special Forces teams." She looked at him. "I know. I heard."
"It happens." She patted him on the cheek. "You were in the lab or not when our break- in happened?"
"I started three weeks afterward. Don's father got yelled at by his son for that stupidity too."
"Good! I like that! Can we set you up with Mom? She's got bad taste usually. Oh, Sis, she went back to Uncle Mal."
"I heard. He's never been a bad guy to us, just an asshole to Mom." She shrugged. "If mom wants to nest with him, that's her thing."
"How many siblings are there?" Stella asked. "I've heard of two working as tech support for Miami, met the one brother earlier, now this one."
"Some of us are adopted, some aren't, but we're a fairly large family," Amanda offered. "Before anyone asks, yes, Studly named himself that. The family has a long tradition of the kids picking out a name they like when they're old enough to be up and wandering around, plus able to make rational decisions. Everyone always told him he was cute but not cute enough to be a movie star so he made his name Studly."
"Someone wanted to know if he was a porn star," Ryan said with a grin.
"I heard his response of 'they don't make tapes that go for as long as I last'," Steph said, grinning at him. "Ryan." He waved. "Poor snookums. How's Teacher?"
"Good, I'm finally finished with what I need for the lab. Now all we need is a lab opening." He nodded. "That's Horatio, my hopeful future boss. The blonde on the laser is Calleigh. Speed's watching them play and Eric's watching your butt in those shorts. They shrink again?"
"Just out of the wash, sorry," she said with a shrug. "I did the profile for the security badges for the others," she admitted. She waved. "Yes, I'm mostly nice. Sometimes." She looked around. "Okay, let's look over this dinosaur. Man, I haven't seen this since the early eighties." She checked over the old laser. "Someone put the crystal in upside down." She got a tool and fixed that then turned it on to warm it up. "It'll take a minute or so."
"We can wait," Calleigh promised, beaming at her. "Do you do regular weapon's research or esoteric stuff?"
"Mostly esoteric stuff but I'm a designer. The rockets were my baby and one of my other brothers developed the launcher for them." That got a grin from Bobby. "He likes explosions too."
"Explosions are pretty," he agreed happily. Greg moaned and he looked. Then the rest of them stared at the goddess coming into the lab. She was pulling her brunette hair up into a sloppy bun. Her knit pants and t-shirt weren't really attractive, but she had a glow around her and she was stunning to look at. "Wow," he breathed. "Does she like weapons?"
"No, she's the one using Ryan as a guinea pig. Sal, think you can turn down the glow before I get a tan?" she complained. Her sister blushed and smiled at everyone, then drug Ryan out into the hall. "He'll be back in a minute. He probably stole the new prototype ever bounce ball again."
"The last time I knew it was down in the gym," Amanda told her. "That was Salette. Bigger sister. Yes, she has that effect on everyone. A few of them do. You should see Studly when he has hair. He's turned some guys who said they'd never even think about looking at men into begging puddles of drool."
"Nearly did it to me without the hair," Stella offered.
"Gay, sweetie, very gay," Stephni offered, patting her on the back. Ryan came back in. "What's she want this time?"
"Am I doing okay with my studies, where's the ball right now, can I still help her with the body armor she's working on. The usual." He grinned. At least until the alarm went off. "Guys, stay in here," he ordered when the ladies left. "That's an uninvited guest alarm. Someone's trying to get into the building."
"I know a few of those happen a year," Horatio agreed. "Can we monitor to see if we should go arrest someone or call Alexx directly?"
Ryan walked over to the communication panel and opened it up, typing in something. He nodded him over. "That's the main door. Let's switch until we find it." He typed in something else, letting it rotate to where the alarm was. "Huh. Fuzzy so someone else is patched in as well. It's the guy from Paladin Resources. Not a nice guy. Trying to blackmail Amanda into selling one of the subdivisions to his company." He walked out, going down there to smile at the guy, who was ranting at her. "Honey, is there a problem or can we get back to planning the honeymoon?" he asked, sliding against Amanda's side. "Who're you?" he asked, staring at him and sneering. He kissed Amanda on the cheek, getting a smile. "I know you said I could be over that one. Are we still okay?"
"We're just fine, pookie. This man is delusional."
"Well, we do have the testing crew in the lab and one is a cop," he reminded her. She beamed at him. He looked at the guy again. "So *you're* the one who's been trying to blackmail her because she was horny in her youth. Pity I don't care. After all, it made her better for me." He kissed her for real and smiled at him. "Now, shouldn't you get on your segway and scoot?" The guy stomped off, nearly a cloud over his head. "Just let me know and I'll gladly arrest the putz on breaking and entering charges," he offered, looking at his boss, grinning at her. "You do kiss very well."
"Thanks, Ryan. Been a while since I had such a good snog." She kissed him again then hit the comm panel. "Before anyone gets their hopes up, Ryan wants to work for the local felony lab. The other guy is gone. It was the guy from Paladin. Again."
"I still say we should hurt him a lot," Stephni said grimly. "Please? Can't I just ask Mary? Or even Tricia? Or maybe even SuBeth? She'd torment him but he does deserve it."
"His bosses deserve it more and I had her go after them legally," Amanda reminded her. "No siccing the dangerous ones on them, Steph." She patted Ryan on the head. "You're a good boy, Ryan. Just like a puppy." He beamed at that. "Now, go play with Steph or Sal. They like cute geeks."
"Which I am," he agreed happily. He headed back up there, giving the guys a look. "Continuing problem with them trying to force their way into the archives. Pity but still ongoing at this time."
"You play very well," Mac told him.
"Thank you." Both ladies came back in. Stephni pinched him on the ass, making him yelp. "Be gentle! I'm still a fragile man!"
"You're a man, therefore you should be a toy," Stephni reminded him with a wicked grin. "Speaking of, toy, we're going out tonight. Dancing?"
Ryan nodded. "We can do that. I'm not good at it but we can do that." She smiled at him then gave him a wink and got back to work on the new laser, firing it at the test subject they had set up. The brick wall smoked then burst. The team looked then went to examine the damage. That was why they were there after all.
Stephni looked at Speed. "Ryan really is more of a stick up the ass when he's working," she offered quietly. "But he's good at it." He nodded at that and pointed at Horatio, making her smile. "I don't like redheads. He'd clash with my favorite shirt." Speed snickered, turning to laugh in Stella's shoulder, getting patted for it. "He would."
"You can have Don, his mother would kill us if we didn't assure everyone he was single."
"Nah, couldn't stand the in-laws," Stephni assured her.
Amanda looked at her. "I said the same thing recently."
"Guys, I can find my own women, even though my mother did nag you guys to help me."
"No you can't," Mac said with a grin. "Otherwise she wouldn't have sent the memo to all of us."
Don moaned and whimpered, shaking his head. Stephni patted him on the cheek so he looked at her. "Is your mom that pushy?"
"No. She just has bad taste." That got a small smile. "Still can't stand your father."
"I love my dad but some days he's an asshole."
"Everyone has those days, it's when they're out of proportion that you have to worry," she quipped back. He grinned a bit at that. "Now, cheer up and help the cooing ones destroy stuff, dear." He went to help. This was fun.