Notes: Tiny bit graphic in the descriptions of what's on the tape but not a blow-by-blow graphic.  Good R for that just in case.

Ryan walked up to Horatio one morning, a small package in his hand.  "Can I have a few minutes?" he asked quietly, glancing around.

"Something wrong?"

"Very.  I think you need to see what I got sent last night, Horatio."

"In my office, Mr. Wolfe.  Can it be played on the computer?"

"VHS."  He showed him the envelope.

"Go to AV, tell Cooper to take a break."  Ryan nodded, heading that way.  Horatio finished the gathering he was doing and walked in there, closing the door behind him and putting down the shades.  "What did you get sent?"

"I had this left on my doorstep.  Before you ask, I could tell it was a tape and not a bomb."  He hit 'play' and let him see the screen.  They both watched as eight young men carried out a familiar looking blonde woman on a pallet.  "I think you know why I thought you should see this.  I only got to the point where they put her on the altar and broke her in with the stone sex implements.  I'm not sure if someone gave this to me to discredit her or for another reason."

"Fast forward."

Ryan did that, showing him that it was indeed a sex tape.  At least until the end.  Then she was on one male and she cut him.  Ryan frowned and slowed it back down, muting the volume slightly.  She was drinking the blood from the cut she had made on his chest.  Then she was strangling him.  "Oh, damn.  I should've watched this all the way through," he moaned.

Horatio nodded.  "Perhaps but it's best that this be handled quietly."  He waited, watching while the snuff portion of the sex tape finished.  "Okay."  It was ejected and handed over once it was back inside the envelope.  He considered his options.  "I want you to take her to lunch, Mr. Wolfe.  Very quietly, no tapes or anything.  I want you to warn her that someone sent a tape of her to you.  Do not mention the last scene.  Mention that it had a few  young men.  Mention she was probably in college."  Ryan nodded.  "Let me handle the rest.  That could have been acting."

Ryan looked at him, shaking his head.  "I doubt it."

"As do I, but there could be extenuating circumstances.  Erica Sykes does not strike me as the sort to go in for dark Satanic sex rituals.  At least not of her own free will.  See if she'll admit to anything."

"Got it, boss."  He walked out, calling her.  "Meet me for lunch.  No tapes, no nothing.   Yes, you."  He hung up and went to start on his last case so he had something to do while he thought.  That was not the Erica he knew.  She wouldn't have been in an orgy.  She didn't like sex from what he knew.


Ryan looked at the woman sitting across from him.  "I got given an interesting tape last night, Erica," he said quietly.

She stiffened.  "Define interesting."

"You and a few young guys."  He ate a bite of his burger, staring at her.  "You were pretty young yourself."

"Just because we're distant cousins," she started.

He held up a hand.  "Erica, I saw the tape because I was wondering why someone sent it to *me*.  Including how young you were," he finished quietly.  "Like college or late high school."  She swallowed some of her tea.  "Now, I don't know what I should do here."

"It was a prank."

"The sex on an altar was a prank?" he asked.  She went pale.  He stared at her.  He decided not to tell her that he had handed it to Horatio.  "I would like to hear your side of the story."

"It was a harmless party, Ryan.  What do you want me to say?"

"That I didn't see you drinking someone's blood?" he suggested.

She glared at him.  "Just butt out!  I want that back."

"Erica, think for a minute, all right?  Did you send it to me?"  She shook her head, still grimacing and glaring.  "Then who did?"  She went still.  "Do you have their names so we can check?"

"I'm doing that."

"Erica, that tape looked a lot like it was a crime film," he pointed out.  "It's my job, I have to do that."  She stormed off.  He turned off his tape recorder and finished his burger on the way back to his hummer, heading back to the office.  He handed over the tape.  "She claimed it was a prank."

Horatio nodded.  "I doubt that. Thank you."

"I didn't tell her I had turned it over but I did want her to give me the names so I could check and see which one it was."

"That's reasonable.  You're....."

"Distant cousins," he sighed.  "We played together as children."

"It's nothing you did, Ryan."  He walked off, going to listen to it in his office.  The tape wasn't that enlightening but the video did make him worry.  He finished running the face recognition of the still he had pulled off through the DMV's old files.  It took nearly an hour for a match to come up.  That name went through their files.  It came up listed as an accidental death.  "Oh, Megan," he sighed, leaning back to look it over.  He paged Alexx, bringing her up to his office.  "This was before your time," he said, handing over the file they had in the computer.  "Can you give it a thorough look over?"

"What am I looking for?"

"I don't think it was accidental," he admitted.  "New evidence just came to light, Alexx."

"Okay, I'll look it over."  She took down the name and case number then went to look it up.  She frowned at the pictures, then paged Horatio down to her morgue.  "You knew it was mislabeled?"  He nodded.  "How?"

"Someone sent someone a sex tape that included his homicide," he admitted quietly, glancing around.  "But it's very sensitive.  Was any bloodwork done, Alexx?"

"A bit."  She looked at that part.  "Toxicology points at cocaine and PCP. The PCP was earlier in the day from that concentration."  She read it over again then looked at him. "This was before I got here.  Was it someone in the lab?" she hissed.  He shook his head. "One of Eric's friends?"

"One of Mr. Wolfe's distant relatives."  He frowned.  "Thank you.  May I?"  She handed it over.  "How would we reclassify it?"

"I don't know.  Should we after all this time?"

"With this person, I'm not sure," he admitted, walking off.  He ran into a lurking Ryan and let him have the file to look at.  "Clearly a homicide," he agreed quietly.

He looked at him.  "So the options become blackmail, turn it in, or ignore it."

"I want to know who sent it first."

"Fingerprints say it was this person," he said, handing over a report.  "They were on the outside and inside of the envelope and the DNA matched from saliva."

Horatio looked over the report.  "Past arrests for violent actions."  He looked at him.  "I want you to let me handle this."

"If I do, I'm going to kick my cousin's ass," he assured him.  "I don't want to be involved, Horatio."

"I understand.  I want you to go tell Speed quietly.  I want you to let him tell you who to go to for a statement to be taken.  Am I clear?"  Ryan nodded.  "Let me handle this, Ryan."  He headed for his hummer.  He had to talk to a spousal abuser about sending his CSI things improperly.

Ryan walked into the lab where Speed and Eric were working and joking.  "Um, Delko, I need Speed for a few minutes."

Eric looked at him and snorted.  "Screwed up a test?"

"No, someone sent me a sex tape," he said.  Eric walked out snickering.  Ryan slammed the door.  "With a homicide on the end," he finished.  "One of that reporter who keeps bothering me and is my cousin."

Speed looked at him.  "What?"

Ryan moved closer.  "I came home last night to a tape laying on my front mat."

"Uh-huh," Speed said slowly.  "Keep going."

"It ended up being my distant cousin Erica, eight guys, one high priest, a stone statue and altar, and them breaking her in every way, including her cutting one guy and drinking his blood from the wound on his chest and then strangling him.  Horatio said to come to you to keep me out of it.  He's got who sent me the envelope."

"Sure."  He nodded at that.  "Okay.  This is going to look really bad."

"I know.  It's not my fault, she's a third cousin."


"Yeah and from the hairdo she was about seventeen at the time."

He shuddered.  "All right.  First, let's see the tape."

"Horatio had it.  I watched the first ten minutes then brought it to him this morning.  He's the one who had me fast forward through it and we found the assault and homicide together."

"Damn.  All right.  I need you to page...  Never mind.  I'll page Frank Tripp.  He wanted a statement taken?"

"I want my ass thoroughly covered in case IAB comes."

"More than happily."  He paged someone then called Horatio.  "Tape is where?"  He nodded.  "Good deal."  He hung up and walked Ryan up to the office, closing the door.  "Tape's in the player he brought up."  Ryan rewound it and Speed let Frank in when he knocked.  Then he pulled all the curtains.  "Ryan got sent a sex tape."

"Charming.  How old were you?" Frank teased.

"Not mine," he said, hitting play.  Frank and Speed both watched and gaped.  "At the end is an assault and homicide."

"Oh, damn," Frank sighed.  Ryan nodded.  "When did you get it?"

"Last night.  I watched the first ten minutes, brought it in to Horatio this morning, and we found the homicide together when he had me fast forward through it."

"So we need a statement to cover your butt.  Right?"

"She's my third cousin," Ryan told him.


"Yeah, Sykes."  He handed over the folder he had been carrying.  "That's the homicide report.  It was mis-classified.  I found who sent it from fingerprints and DNA tests.  Horatio took that and headed out."

"Okay.  Can we get a transcript of it?" Frank asked.

"I can do that if I can get some privacy," Speed noted.  "Will it help?"

"Yeah," he said dryly, looking at him.  "Think about Stetler getting hold of this."

"I'm not sure if we should blackmail her to leave us alone or not," Ryan admitted.  "It'd be nice to have a harpy with informants on our side."

"Bad thoughts," Speed warned.

"I know.  It's been years."  He flopped down on the couch.  "I'm lost, guys."

"Which is why Horatio sent you to me," Speed agreed.  "Okay.  Frank, we need a statement from him.  A fully CYA statement.  One that even Stetler can't say a thing about."

"I can do that.  Get me a transcript for it?"

"I can do that.  I'm not sure if H is going to let this go or not yet."  That got a nod and Frank walked Ryan out and down to his desk.  Speed sat down to rewind the tape and do the transcript.  Though some of it was freakier than anything Eric had ever dated.  She was a virgin sacrifice?  Sykes?


Horatio met his second target at a small parking lot near a fairly deserted beach.  It wasn't the time of year for many tourists and this beach wasn't that popular.  It had bad views.  "Erica."

"He handed it over!"

"He had to."  He looked at her.  "There was a homicide on the end, Erica."  She went pale and stomped back to her car.  "Right now I'm trying to decide if I should push to reclassify his death."  She turned to look at him again.  He took off his sunglasses to stare at her.  "Are you still part of the group?"  She glared.  "It's your choice."

"It was a stupid prank, Lieutenant.  I was a dumb kid who had no idea what sex was and I wanted to know."

"So they used you as a virgin sacrifice?" he asked dryly.  She glared even more coldly.  "I see.  Are you still in contact with them?"

"No," she ground out.

"I did hear the prayer you made when you were...broken in."

"And I managed it.  If you ruin this I will expose your lab to some very harsh lights."

"Erica, making threats is not the thing to do at this moment," he said, putting back on his sunglasses.  "I am all that's standing between you and a very dim, confined future."

"What do you want to bury it?"

"I haven't decided yet if I can bury it or not."

"We were high!" she said bitterly, almost smiling with her grimace.  "I don't know what you want!"

"I want the truth," he said, tipping his head a bit to look at her.  "Since they sent it to Mr. Wolfe, that could implicate him as well."

"He wasn't there.  He was a strange and nerdy little cousin I used to like.  Since then he's there to be a source and used like a toy."

"I see."  He stared at her. "And now?"

"Now, I'm going to kill the little dweeb for turning me in."

"He's an officer of the law, Erica.  His duty is to find out who did bad things and make them pay.  You do qualify with that tape."  She stomped off and got into her car, driving off.  "That...was the wrong answer," he noted calmly, heading back to the station.  Speed handed him an envelope when he walked off the elevator to the lab.  "Report?"

"Transcript I did, Ryan's statement.  Doubles of the reports from DNA and fingerprints.  I had Tripp take the statement.  He saw the first few minutes.  Some of it, even without the sound, was freaky.  With the sound, she was a sacrifice.  She was praying that she'd become a famous reporter and the whole world would know her name."

"As they do," he agreed.  "I did listen to the audio track."

"I'm sorry.  Want some aspirin?"

"No, I took some before I went to see what she had to say.  Who else knows?"

"To get Eric to go away Wolfe told him he got sent a sex tape.  He walked out laughing."

"I'm sure he's got a few of his own."

"Red box under his bed."  Speed walked off, heading back to the other case he was working on.

Horatio smothered his smile and went up to his office.  Where he called his boss.  "I have a dilemma."  He smiled.  "An ethical one.  A very young, annoying reporter caught on tape doing very bad things."  He smirked.  "That's what my dilemma is.  Mis-classified as accidental.  Clearly not.  Please.  I'm in my office."  He hung up and settled in to look over the statement.  Frank had been very thorough.


Horatio looked at Ryan later that night when he opened the door.  "It comes down to blackmail or making her miserable."  He walked inside when Ryan moved.  "I need to know how bad this will be for you."

"Can I have some of Tiff's relatives eat her?  Before I get in trouble with my mouth?"

"Have you asked her?"

"No.  I didn't want to take this outside the lab.  She's already called and threatened my life for giving the tape to you."

"Did you get it on tape?"

"She left it on my machine, Horatio."  He replayed the message.

//Ryan, you know who this is and I am going to eviscerate you and toss your used, bloody body on the steps of your beloved lab for turning me in to that bastard you work for.// Beep.

Ryan looked at him.  "As you can see, she's a bit upset."

"Do you want protection?"

"I'm not sure."  He sat down and looked at him.  "What do I do?  I feel like I'm betraying someone but I don't like her.  I'm very confused."  Someone else knocked and he got up, looking out the peephole, then opening the door. "Stephni?"

"Tiff said you hadn't logged on today so we wanted to make sure you're okay."

"I'm good," he admitted.  "Embroiled in something personal that's going to make me scream soon, or take bleach to the sidewalk again.  I've got a new brush even."  She gave him a hug.  "Thanks."  He gave her a squeeze.  "I'm okay.  It's been a bad twenty-four."

"Okay.  As long as you're okay."  She smiled at him.  "Horatio, your hummer?"

"Later tonight.  Call me," he ordered.  "I need it for this."

"Okay."  She smiled and kissed Ryan on the forehead.  "Feel better and I hope it stops."  She bounced out, going back to the lab.  She didn't notice the person parked across the street.

Horatio looked at him.  "Mr. Wolfe, do you have an opinion?"

"I hate her but when we were younger we were very close.  I couldn't keep myself from telling her everything.  I told her graphic details of my first everything with a girl, then she got popular and became a cheerleader.  She dumped me for new friends."  Horatio nodded.  "I feel really torn, boss.  I don't know what to do."  He sat down and then had to hit the floor when gunshots came through the door.  "Never mind.  I want her dead."

Horatio rushed out, gun drawn.  The car was speeding away and he managed to get two shots into the trunk but nothing else.  He called it in.  "This is Lieutenant Caine.  I am at Palm Street.  There was just someone shooting at one of my CSI's houses.  I fired on the car.  Red SUV.  Driven by one Erica Sykes.  She is to be considered armed and dangerous, possibly mentally unstable."  He hung up and went back inside.  "Pack.  I have a spare room."

"I can stay at the lab," Ryan promised, packing a laptop and a few other things.  "Can I get a ride?  I don't trust mine."

"You can."  He looked at the bag then at him.  "Clothes?"

"Locker."  That got a nod and Horatio walked him out to his hummer, taking him to the lab's building.  Ryan knocked on the glass, getting one of the guards, who let them in.  "Someone shot at my house."

"Any idea who?" the guard asked, looking concerned.

"Erica Sykes.  Someone sent me a sex tape with her committing a homicide on the end."


"Basically.  Can I have the couch?"

"Let me tell Sal but go ahead.  Lieutenant."  Horatio walked inside.  "This way you can make sure he's safe."

"I'm sure he'll be very safe here," he assured him.  "I would like to brief someone."

"Of course.  This way, Lieutenant."  He handed Ryan his pass.  "There you go.  I'm assuming you're heading to the locker room?"

"Yup.  I want to clean something."  He headed that way.  "Please shoot my cousin, boss.  Pretty please?  I'll even let Speed and Delko both pick on me," he called as he walked.

Horatio smiled at that.  "Sal or who?"

"How about Tiff, Sal, and security?"

"That would be fine.  Stephni was just there but she left approximately five minutes before the shooting."  He paged them and his boss.  The ladies came jogging off the elevator.  He pointed.  "Ladies.  We need to talk about the woman who just shot at Ryan's house."  He walked after them and the guard, going to brief them on everything.  He might've used her before but not now.  Not with this.  She had nearly killed his CSI, plus him, and had scratched his hummer.

Ryan ran into Studly in the bathroom portion of the locker room.  "Ignore me, I'm cleaning."

"You can scrub my back," he offered.

Ryan looked at him.  "My cousin was doing sex magic to a dark god and killed someone after drinking some of his blood.  I'm cleaning non-human things."

"Whoa," he said, blinking.  "Sex magic?  You're sure?"

"Altar, dark god, making prayers as she was broken in every way possible.  She cut him to get rid of her blood innocence, drank it, then killed him while having sex with him."

"Oooh."  He got out and called down to someone.  "Go butt in on the conference with whoever Ryan's briefed."

"Horatio is."

"Caine's doing the briefing.  Dark sex magic culminating in death.  Thank you."  He hung up and went back to his shower.

"Magic too?" Ryan asked.

Studly stared at him.  "You know."

"I do.  Now and then Tiff has a problem with her skin getting very dry and light green."

"Ah, yeah, she's going into heat," he sighed.  "The offer's still good to scrub my back."

"You like bleach that much?"

"No, but I can break the stress other ways."

Ryan looked at him.  "Studly, I love you, but you're not the sort I want to bend over the first time for.  Okay?"

"Sure.  I'm not insulted.  Know that the offer stands to crawl into my bunk tonight."

"I can do that."  Ryan found the cleaning supplies, the gloves, and the brushes and got to work in the farthest shower. He needed this.


Horatio stood up as someone else entered, nodding politely at the young woman.  "I'm Lieutenant Caine."

"I know.  Dark sex magic?"

He looked at her.  "You know about the occult?"

"I can slam you into the ceiling if you want," she offered.

"He knows, Cathy," Tiff assured her.  "Yes, we can do some limited magic, some of us.  None of us are good at it, but she's excellent at it."

"The tape is locked in my desk drawer," he told her.  He pulled out his phone.  "Speed, I'm at the DragonTech lab.  We need the tape.  Erica just shot at Ryan's house."  He hung up.  "It'll be here in a few minutes."

"I can wait.  How bad?"

"She was praying to be a household name and a famous reporter," Tiff offered.

"She's got one, she's getting the other," she decided, going to wait for the tape.

Horatio looked at them.  "I would appreciate it if Ryan could stay for a few days, at least until we can capture her."

"Of course!" Tiff agreed. "He's staying, he can crawl in with anyone he wants.  He's our boy."

"Good."  He smiled.  "Thank you for protecting him."  They all nodded. "I'll leave his protection in your hands while I catch the woman."

"Do be careful.  She's panicking," Stephni pointed out.

"I know."  He put back on his sunglasses and headed back to Ryan's to work the scene.  He found Eric joking about sex and Ryan being a bad combination.  "It wasn't his sex tape, Eric.  It was someone else's."

"Then why did they send it to him?"

Horatio looked at him.  "Because it had his cousin Erica on it at the ancient age of seventeen having sex with eight guys, one of which she stabbed and then killed," Speed said as he walked in.  "That's a scary sister."

Horatio smiled.  "She knows a bit about the occult."

"Good to know, I'll hit her up the next time we need a clue on something."  He looked around.  "Want me outside?"

"Please, and bag the answering machine.  She left a threat on it, Eric."  He nodded and did that while Horatio went back to his hummer.  He found it missing and a note in its place saying the ladies had taken it since they had others there.  He sighed and went to get back to work.  At least until Rick Stetler got there.  "Rick."

"What happened?"

"Ryan Wolfe got sent a sex tape of his cousin."

"Who is....."

"Sykes," Eric complained.  He shuddered because not even he would touch that.

"I see.  How damaging was it?" he demanded.

"She killed someone," Horatio said quietly.

"No wonder she shot at his house.  I'm sure you've covered him already?"  Horatio handed over the envelope Speed had given him.  "Thanks.  Really."  He read it over, then looked at him.  "We didn't arrest her right off?"

"It had already been mis-classified.  It happened before Alexx Woods got there.  I was taking opinions about doing that.  The Chief thought it'd be useful for a few more months.  She did know that we had it.  Ryan told her at lunch."

"So, this just happened today and she's overreacting?"

"She's panicking," Horatio corrected.  "She was seventeen at the time.  There was evidence of drugs.  She still stabbed the young man then strangled him.  The transcript is in there.  I had Speedle do it."

"I can tell."  He read it over, looking sick.  "That's just gross."  He walked off shaking his head.  "Is he in protective custody?"

"The people protecting him are more protective than even I can be," he agreed.  He went back inside to help gather evidence.  "I'll need a ride back, Eric.  The ladies are updating my hummer this weekend and stole it from the driveway."

"Sure," he agreed with a grin.  "Soon you'll have all the good toys."

"Then I'll get to steal his hummer now and then," Speed called.

"No you will not," Horatio noted.  "Or else I will spread around the plans for your new bike engine."

Speed looked at Eric.  "Tiff said if I pounced you for her pleasure she'd let me test the new super engine once she got it ready for bikes.  So if you beg *really* well while I've got you on your back maybe she'll upgrade your car when she does my bike."

Eric gave him a hurt look.  "You'd use me for a bike engine?"

"Eric, the thing does two hundred in third gear," he said blandly.  "It runs on a chemical mixture that probably won't run out.  She gets three hundred miles a gallon.  Hell yes I will make you scream like a soprano at the porn opera for one.  I will turn you into a puddle of moaning goo for one and then go out and find a great lady to celebrate with."

Eric shook his head. "If you try I'm going to kick your ass."

"So, beer, vodka, or tequila first, buddy?" he asked with a grin.

Eric glared at him.  "None of the above.  I firmly like girls."

"So do I but for an engine like that I'll make an exception.  At least I won't have to put a bag over your head or anything."

Eric glared harder. "Pounce H or Wolfe!  Not me!  You'd ruin my rep."

"Be honest, I'd ruin you for women."

"Boys," Horatio said patiently.  "Enough."

"Yes, dad," they sighed in unison.

"H, make him let me pounce him for a new engine?"

"Speed!" Horatio warned.  "I said stop it.  You may not pounce Eric for something as trivial as an engine."  He glared at him and Speed slunk off, getting back to looking in the bushes for spent cartridges.  "Thank you! I've had enough nightmares about that scenario to last me a few lifetimes."

"You think it wouldn't be hot?" Eric asked with a grin.

"No, I think he'll kill himself on the bike once it's fixed up and then what would you do?" he shot back.

"Maybe," Eric agreed.  "At the very least he'd get hurt.  Then we'd have a whining Speed on our hands."

Horatio nodded.  "I'm not sure which is worse."

"Me being dead would kill you all.  You'd miss me a lot," Speed called from outside.

"We would," Horatio agreed. "Which is why I can't let you pounce Eric for a new engine, Speed."

"Damn it," he muttered, walking off once he had handed over the bag of shell casings.

Horatio smiled.  He had finally broken it.  He was so happy.


Amanda came off the plane in New York and found Mac waiting on her.  "You're bored?" she teased.

"Greg called and said you'd had a bad week."

"We have but they didn't get in the building."  She took his arm and walked him out.  "So, what happened?"

"Lindsey snuck up there once to look.  Danny caught her peeking in a doorway and drug her down to my office.  Also, one of the scanners won't work at all."

"I can deal with that."  She smiled at him.  "How's it been otherwise?"

"Decent.  The tests are all going extremely well.  How's Horatio's stuff doing?"

"Excellent.  They had a member of the group your Lindsey belongs to that tried to sabotage things but we were able to fix it quickly."  She turned on her phone and grimaced. "Email from Tiff."  She opened it and read the short message, then blinked.  "I see.  Huh."  She called her. "Send it to Don or go give it to Don.  Are they out in LA?"  She nodded.  "Give it to Don. Thank you.  New York.  That's fine, Ryan can clean the lab all he wants and he can curl up with anyone he wants, Tiff.  I don't mind.  It's safer for him.  Thank you for the head's up."  She hung up.  "Someone shot at one of Horatio's boys because he got given incriminating evidence."

"Charming.  Who's Don?  Another lab tester?"

"No, he's the federal agent we have approved to come in and investigate any allegations.  They all know this so hopefully they'll quit trying to break in."

"I head about the death in the Las Vegas biohazard lab.  Connected?" he asked as he opened a door for her.

"No, thankfully not.  Strange person trying to cover up that they wanted him for themselves but he refused because he was married.  A very stand-up guy.  Greg had to butt in repeatedly to help us.  Professor Sandburg knew the ritual and pointed out where the falsehoods were so they could catch her within a day and a half."

"That's a good thing," he agreed happily.  He let her into their official SUV and walked around to get in and drive. "You didn't have a bag, right?"

"No, I didn't pack one to go help Greg."  That got a small smile. "I can always shop."

"New York is a good place to do that," he agreed, backing out of his spot and heading off.  "What do you want me to do about Lindsey?  I don't feel right firing her.  I already suspended her for a week without pay."

"Can we put a fingerprint scanner on the doors?  That's how we solved it in Miami."

"I can see us doing that.  Hitching it to the lock?"  She made and agreeing noise while she yawned.  "Sleep on the way in.  It's a forty-five minute drive, Amanda."

"Thanks, Mac."  She shifted onto her side and snuggled in to rest for a while.  It had been a hellish week so far.  She'd deal with selfish people later.


Don Epps looked up as a t-shirt, tiny shorts, and sneaker wearing young woman got off the elevator.  "Don't they let them wear real clothes at work?" he muttered, walking out to stop her.  "What's up, Tiff?"  This one and normal people were not a good combination.  Normal people came out crying after a while with her.  He didn't need crying agents today.

"Amanda said to pop up from Miami to give you a copy of this.  Apparently at least two have moved here to your city.  It's a bit shocking and it's a sex tape so you might not want to let others watch it.  It deals with dark sex magic and killing a sacrificial victim.  We think there's probably more than one that's been done that way."

"Charming.  Okay, let's go find a tape player."

"We copied it off VHS to DVD for you.  That way you won't wear out the tape."

"Hmm.  That good?"

"Virgin breaking in by eight guys and a stone statue, then she kills someone."

He moaned and nodded leading her to his desk so he could run the tape.  He stared.  "You weren't kidding."

"I'm not and if I'm right, they've got other victims somewhere.  The head guy, the old one they're presenting her to, and two of the acolytes, for want of a better word, have moved out this way.  The others are in Miami at the moment and Horatio's livid because the woman in the video shot at one of his guy's house after someone dropped that off on his doorstep last night."  He looked at her.  "That is a Miss Erica Sykes, Channel whatever news.  Ryan Wolfe's third cousin.  Ryan's one of Horatio's boys, she panicked and shot at his house after Horatio had a talk with her about it.  It happened when she was seventeen according to Ryan.  He's estimating based on haircut."

"Okay, so the old guy's really old.  The others are probably my age?"

"And probably preying on high school and early college kids," she agreed.  He sighed and went back to watching it.  "Fast forward to the last twenty, Don.  After this point it's just the eight acolytes doing her for the next hour."  He shivered but did that, ending up where the one acolyte was told he was going to be sacrificed to their God for his pleasure.  He saw her knock him down and mount up, then pick up a knife to make a shallow cut in his chest.  Then she licked it and sucked it until nothing else would come out.  The noises were incredibly loud and he was fighting against his body.  His body liked the noises, his mind wanted bleach.  Then she put her hands on his throat and braced herself.  He groaned and turned it off.  "Cause of death was mislabeled according to Horatio. They're going to reopen it based on this tape.  Since she's a nosy bitch he was going to play her for a bit but then she shot at Ryan's house.  He's in the lab down there if you need anything from him," she finished.

"No, this should be more than enough.  I'll have AV pull of facial shots to go through databases."  She handed over an envelope.  He looked at her.  "Does she let you wear clothes?"

"I can't crawl around in a skirt, dear.  How am I supposed to work on my engine, which will break the speed of sound on my motorcycle, in a skirt?"

He smirked at her.  "Good answer.  You get pinched?"

"A few times and I kissed one until he was drooling and stupid in the elevator.  I hope he wasn't yours."  She nodded at one guy and he nodded that he was indeed his.  "Pity.  He's cute.  He single?"

"Very.  Fix that if you want.  I don't care."

"Thanks, Donnie."

"Don," he said firmly.

"Sweetie, usually I use pet names but I'm running short.  There's too many hotties in Miami's lab.  You could be my second pookie."

"No thanks.  Don's fine."  He waved and she skipped off.

"Hi, Tiff," Charlie called from the breakroom.  She squealed and ran in to pounce him and Larry, making the women in there very jealous.  "Amita, Megan, this is Tiff, she's Amanda Disher's little sister.  She's working in the Miami lab at the moment on some test equipment they're doing."  He grinned at her.  "Behave."

"Why?  I'd be bored and then you'd have to come up with whole new formulas for what my engine can do."  He smiled at that.  "I've got it designed.  I can shrink it down onto my bike.  I'll be able to break the sound barrier," she said proudly.  "You can come down to Miami for the test run if you want.  Stephni would love to see you again."

"How is the scary one?" he teased back.

"Good!  She's babying Ryan Wolfe at the moment."

"I remember him in one of my classes."

"He's a CSI down there.  Someone dropped off a sex tape that showed dark sex magic rites and a homicide at the end."

"Charming," he said dryly.  "They're out here now?"

"Some are.  Some aren't.  I figured if you guys didn't handle that stuff you'd know who did and Amanda said to give it to the cute one out there."  She beamed at him then kissed Amita on the cheek.  "I don't poach, sister.  I just got divorced.  Speaking of, is he still missing?"

"Probably.  How's Miffy?"

"Good.  Tired but good.  She's about to go into hibernation.  So yeah, tired but good. Eating everything in sight again.  So, gotta go."

"Come over for dinner some night?"

"If you want but I insist on helping cook."

"Sure.  We work well together on Teacher.  Oh, the kid did it again.   I got a pickup line when I logged Larry in today."

She whimpered and shook her head.  "I'm going to beat the little toad.  I really am."  She walked off, kissing that guy again.  His slack-jawed look of awe was very comforting.  She hadn't lost her touch yet.  Maybe she'd snag her a Ryan pillow tonight after all.  She headed back to Miami's lab through the portal her sister had established and went to find Ryan, making him rinse off the bleach so she could snog him in her hammock in her lab.  "Shower, sweaty.  Then come nap."

"I'm wound up," he complained.

She kissed him and stared him down. "Shower, Ryan, and join me in my hammock," she ordered.  He swallowed but nodded and went to do that.  "Good boy."  She strolled off, her hips swishing all the way up to her personal lab.  It was going to be a better night for them all.  Even if her sisters would complain about the noise.


Horatio looked at his watch, then outside, before shaking his head and calling Tiff.  "Are you hiding my CSI from us as well?"  He laughed at her 'yes, we're doing mean experiments on him that involve body paint' then she hung up.  He called back.  "We do need Mr. Wolfe on shift today, Tiff.  Please."  He hung up on her and got back to signing off on others' reports.  Ryan wobbled in a few minutes later, herded by Frank Tripp.  "Mr. Wolfe."  Ryan moaned and collapsed face first onto his couch, starting to snore.

"Sounds like the strange ones kept him up last night," Frank joked.  "Too much stress relief?"  He looked at the young officer.  "Why is his neck blue?"

"Tiff said something about being mean with body paint."  He got up to come look, waking Ryan, who mumbled something.  "Do you have a good reason to be late, Mr. Wolfe?"  Ryan mumbled something a bit louder and he groaned.  "Are you all right?"  Ryan shook his head and started to snore again.

"Did he say those girls used him as a teddy bear?"

Horatio looked at his friend and nodded.  "He did."  He got a blanket and covered Ryan up.  He could give him a few more hours of leave to sleep it off.  He'd be working late tonight instead.   "Why did you escort him?"

"He hugged one of the guards and thanked him for saving him from the women in tiny shorts.  Guy thought he was drunk on duty."

"No, that's exhaustion and I'll have a word about being nicer to him later on.  Thank you, Frank."

"Welcome."  He left, going back to his desk so he'd have a long-distance view of the action when the ladies showed up to do something this time.  A few hours later he saw Alexx walking the boy out to a cab and putting him into it then stomping back inside.  "He good?" he called.  She looked over.  "I walked him up to the office."

"No, he's not.  He had one of the few bouts of flu he gets a year, Frank.  Poor boy needs his bed, not Horatio's couch."  She walked off again.

Frank smirked at that.  Horatio came over later.  "Flu?"

"Flu.  He didn't drink anything.  They cuddled him all night, even after he started to get sick. He wanted saved from all the mothering he was getting."  Frank snickered at that.  "They're incredibly caring women, Frank."

"Yeah but it's cute that he wanted saved from it."

"Hmm.  Next time Speed or Eric complain about their morning afters maybe they'll help.  That way we won't have to hear those complaints again."  He walked off, finishing his trek to the coffeemaker.  Frank's laughs could still be heard behind him.


Larry watched Amita watch Charlie with the young ladies from DragonTech.  Most of them were very nice.  A few of them were very cute.  One of them was so stunning it made him want to cry and beg to be hers.   They were all treating Charlie like a little brother by giving him hugs, pats, and teasing him until he blushed.  "He's family to them," he pointed out to her.  Because she was looking upset and jealous.

"It's good for his career."

"Not at the moment.  At the moment it's still listed as mostly secret project."  She looked at Larry.  "What we work on for them is a bit odder than some things but it's a new educational system."  She smiled at that. "We've found a few child prodigies among them as well as letting some shoot ahead at their own pace.  We've found some similar leanings that reflect back to our bad classes when we were younger."  He let out a small chuckle. "There's a very nice twelve-year-old girl who calls him a Math God and pretends to bow at his feet for teaching her the higher maths."

Amita smiled at that.  "A crush?"

"Somewhat but mostly just the love of a student to a mentor."  He gave her a nudge.  "Go save him before the pale one pinches him again.  Oooh, there's Don."

Don watched his brother be the center of attention for a lot of very nice, pretty women.  Charlie was definitely liking the attention and it was good for him.  He smiled at the ones he knew.  "Can I repossess him yet?  He's bright pink, ladies.  I'd have to be very mean and get very upset if he died of embarrassment."

"No," Stephni said, hugging Charlie around the chest.  "Our fellow geek is staying.  But you can join our land.  We're a very open kingdom."

He snorted.  "I'm not that smart."

Tiff swatted him on the arm.  "Don't put yourself down.  Just because it's not physical, bookish education doesn't mean that you're not smart.  You're smart about other things."  He smiled at her for that.  "Now, come into our world," she said, pulling him down there.  One of the sisters who usually stayed in Europe bounced over to get Larry and Amita for her discussion with another one of them about possible leaps from fantasy novels and what might be possible.

Megan walked up to where the group was meeting, shaking her head.  She didn't like to be jealous.  It was bad for her.  Bad for her relationship.  Still, her boyfriend was surrounded by a lot of very pretty vixens.  A male strolled up to her with a picnic basket, staring at her until she looked at him.  "More family?"

He kissed her on the cheek.  "They don't want him the way you think.  They admire his mind.  It's geek love, not sex love, baby.   Now, go down there and be cute with him.  They'll like that.   Most of my sisters can be a bit mushy now and then.  Look at how they're doing the other guy."  He took her hand and walked her to the gaggle of women and their victims.  "Guys, can Larry's girlfriend come play too?"  A few squealed and pounced her, pulling her into their little group to chat with her.  He went to set out the plates and blankets.  A few of the others brought food, one brought beer, and another one brought sodas.  They were set for a full picnic.   He saw an older man and smiled.  "Come on over, Alan.  We don't discriminate against fathers of our friends."

"Thanks.  Charlie invited me out."  He shook his hand.  "Which one are you?"

"Nick.  The big brother who teaches out of Yale."

"Ah.  Charlie's said your classes on Greek Literature were very good."

"Thank you.  He said he'd ask you if you knew how to fix my roof."

Alan laughed and nodded.  "Hire a contractor to replace it.  It's about all you can do.  Since it's the support beams they can replace one at a time and shouldn't have to undo the roof itself if they can get in to work in the attic."

"Oh, good.  Thank you.   Food!" he bellowed.  The gaggle split up and came over in conversation groups.  He noticed Megan looked a bit scared so he settled her near him and the other brothers.  He saw Amita's look at the others, the clear 'did they drown the ugly ones at birth' look.  He grinned at her.  "We're the plain ones in the family," he assured her.  "Except Salette."  He pointed at her.  She blushed and looked down.  "Remember, we don't want to do more than mother Charlie.  He forgets to eat."  He handed her a plate with a smile.  She went back to Charlie to talk to him and get to know his friends.  Don smirked at him.   He winked back and got the others served.  "You guys."  Everyone looked at him.  "Tyler and his girlfriend were due to be here.  He got stubborn and they're not.  Mom's about to spank him so if anyone wants a pouting little brother on their couch, say the word.  Also, our guinea pigs are due in tonight for that conference, right?"  They all nodded.  "Good deal!  Who's going to beat the little bastard from Scotland?"

"Me," Don said.  "I was watching Charlie grade and even I had to blush at what the kid made her do."

"Greg and I have both talked to him," Charlie admitted.  "Repeatedly."

"The boy needs a human girlfriend," Don agreed.

"He's in a school with ten other guys and a hundred-twelve girls, Don.  He's not trying," Tiff assured him.

"Maybe he doesn't really like girls, he's trying really hard to cover up or make himself like girls," Megan offered.  They all stared at her and suddenly she was very afraid of what all the brains could come up with.

"If so, maybe we'll redesign the Teacher for him," Stephni decided.  She ate a bite of salad then looked at it.  "No dressing?"  A bottle was tossed to her.  "Thanks."

"Poppyseed, bad for drug tests," Larry reminded her.

Stephni looked at him then snorted.  "Do you think that Sis is going to randomly drug test us, Larry?  She knows which ones of us use recreationally and which ones of us are straight.  The few who use it to get in touch with their inner weirdo aren't allowed to use it at the lab or to brag about it, but she knows a few do use it.  We only drug test non- family."

"Inner weirdo?" Charlie teased.

She looked at him.  "Yes, that's how some of them put it.  Because they can't get it out any other way.  Then it becomes an infection and we get more pranks like the clothes-eating foam Ryan likes to play with so much."  He cackled at that.  "I see you've seen that foam."

"In action," he admitted with a grin.  A few of the others giggled.

"It literally eats clothes?" Don asked.  Most of the family nodded. "Does it eat things in the pockets too?  Because if not, I could use that."

"It'll eat anything that's got polyester or anything unnatural," Salette told him.  "Even the most natural clothes have some unnatural things, like tags."  He shivered.  "It can eat what's in pockets as well.  Shines discs too."  She ate a bite of her salad then stole the dressing from Tiff.  "Thank you."

"Welcome."  She looked at him.  "It was a lab accident but it was fun.  We played tag in the hallways with Ryan once.   He got most of us."  Charlie giggled at that.  "He did!  Ruined one of my favorite pairs of shorts."

"Did Horatio ask you to wear something more substantial?" Salette teased.

"Yup, so his boys would quit walking into doors from the staring.  He thought Cooper was going to break his nose the last time."

"Hmm," another said, swallowing her present bite of food.  "Poor men."

"You should come to Miami, Gail.  Even you could pick up a hottie down there."  That sister swatted her.  "Charlie, you and Don want to switch?"

"No thanks.  I like LA," Don assured them.

Charlie smiled.  "I have too much here, ladies.  Now, behave and pick on Don for me?  He was mean and wouldn't let me sleep."

"It's payback for all the times you woke me up."  They ganged up on him, pouncing him and dragging him to the ground.  "The last time I had this many women on me I was playing ball," he almost-complained.  What guy complained about having ten beautiful women trying to play with his body?  Even if they were trying to tickle.

"Ladies, I need him able to work tomorrow," Megan pointed out.  "I'm not doing his paperwork for him."  Larry grinned at that.  "I'm not."

"It's mean to save a guy from that," Nick said, grinning at her.  "He'll pout."

"Not if he knows what's good for him," Alan said.  "Ladies, if you take my son I'll expect you to at least date him for real."

Tiff looked back at him.  "Does that mean we can have Charlie if we do?  We'll keep him safely in the lab and make sure he eats and everything, dad."

Charlie coughed and shook his head, nodding it at Amita.  Who was growling very quietly.  "I don't think she'd like that."  All the ladies squealed and pounced him.  "It's still new!" he complained but they continued to babble and cuddle the couple.

"Wow, quick turn around," Don said, sitting up and dusting his chest off.  One of the brothers gave him a beer.  "Thanks, man.  Which one are you?"


"Hey, I'm Don."

"I know."  He grinned.  "I do the security checks for Amanda."

"Work at White Knight?" he asked.

Gary snickered and nodded.  "I do.  I'm on the security staff there."

"That's good.  They could use it."  He saluted him with his beer.  "Ladies, don't embarrass Charlie too much, he won't be able to do any problems later and he's got a test to grade tonight."  He took a sip and watched the gaggle of giggling girls back off from Charlie.

"It's mean to rob your brother of that," Alan said quietly.

"You should've seen it earlier.  They had him blushing so brightly I was worried he'd have a stroke," he retorted.

Tiff snuggled into Don's side. "Some of us are just like that, pookie."

"Don," he said firmly.  "No cute names.  Even if I were dating you."  She pouted.  "Tough.  Or else I'll let the guys at the office spank you."

"That one's not too bad," she mused, considering it.

Megan looked at her.  "Which one?  I'll introduce you to Colby or David," she promised. That got a wicked smirk.  "Or both if you need both."

"She got David in the elevator," Don told her.  "That's why he was so stunned for an hour."

"I got him on the way out too," she assured him.  "I'm not usually that strong.  That's Salette and that branch of the family."  She grinned up at him.  "Are you coming out for our conference tonight?"

"I don't care to.  If you need me I can."

She pinched him on the stomach. "You'd have fun and get to meet some of the guys out of the other labs. Ryan's up with Speed.  We've got Sheldon out of New York's labs.  He went to school with Amanda this last time at Sistema.   We've got Greg coming in from Las Vegas.  He went to Croans."

"I heard that was an incredibly hard school," Alan offered.  "I thought about sending Charlie there."

"They teach about half the classes in Greek or Latin," Tiff told him.  Alan gaped in horror.  She nodded.  "It's for people like Nick, who come out in the Classics' fields.  Or Archeology.  Greg's parents sent him there even though he was a science geek.  That's how we got him hooked into Teacher, getting him his science stuff he wanted.   It was still a baby program then."  Don grinned at that.  "It was.  We got Ryan in a few years later.  His college wasn't being too helpful and things were going badly in his personal life at the time so we adopted him into the clan.  Some more than others."

Stephni looked over.  "That's because you're loud!"

"Someone shot at the pookie," she complained.  "He needed the stress relief and so did I!"

"Ah, going into heat," Nick said fondly, smirking a bit.  "Have fun with that, Tiff."

"Keep it up, I'll find some way for you to experience it," she taunted back.  He just smirked at her.  "You know better than to challenge me.  I will find a way to prove you wrong."

"I'm sure you will.  Then again I might be taking a sabbatical to go overseas and see if I can find something new to get into.  Or someone new to get into."

"Consort looking," she teased.

"Hmm.  Someone's recently approached me about meeting in person."  He sipped his beer as he looked around the park.  Someone was watching them.  "Speaking of others....  I do believe that your career is calling, Don and Megan."

"Not exactly," Colby said, looking at Tiff.  "We found a body we need you to identify."

"Yes!  The ex is really dead!" she shouted, getting up to dance around about that fact.  "Is his ho dead too?"

"Was he really renting her out?" Charlie asked.

She looked at him and nodded.  "Yup, sure was.  To three of his friends, including that scuzzy one Ron."  She took the picture and beamed, showing it to the others in the family. "Look, he's dead!"

"No ho?" Nick asked.

"Not yet.  LAPD has it."  He took the picture back.  "This is your ex-husband?"

"Oh, yes, and I'd like to give whoever did it a hug, even if it was his ho."

Gary coughed and looked at her, then nodded.  "Probabilities do indicate it was her.  She was in it for your money."

She snorted and waived a hand.  "Of course she wasn't going to get my shit.  She knew that."

"She thought she'd get it from him and then off him once he got it."

"Charming."  She looked at Colby, then kissed him. "Pass that on for me, okay?"  She beamed and sat down, hugging Don again.  "He's finally gone.  I've got to call Miffy so she can dance around too."  She pulled her phone out of her pocket and dialed.  Colby left to let whoever know it was him.  "Dear, good news!  He's dead!  His ho killed him, we think."  Her daughter paused then giggled and hung up.  "Okay.  She's laughing."

Don patted her on the back.  "You're slightly insane.  Eat, it always helps Charlie when he's in the wrong frame of mind."  She stuck her tongue out but did go back to eating.

Alan shook his head.  "You guys are a lot of fun to be around."

"They're like this all the time," Charlie assured him with a smile.  He swatted the hand playing with his hair.  "Grow yours out."

"Mine comes out looking like a white woman 'fro.  Yours is better than mine."


She grinned at Amita.  "Can we admire his hair?  We're mostly all straight haired and those who have curls tend toward white woman 'fros."

"Sure.  If he doesn't mind."  She beamed and went back to petting his hair, making Charlie shake his head.  "Straightening it didn't work?"

"No, not really.  Relaxers either.  It's why Tiff doesn't have hair.  She was trying to relax the white woman 'fro."

"I had a perm, thank you," she defended. "I cut it because I looked like a poodle; even Charlie said so."

"Well, you did have two big poufs of hair over your ears, then a small pouf in front, and the back was one big pouf that day," Larry offered.  "The real problem was the poodle shirt you were wearing with the ear and front poufs of hair.  We all had a moment's thought because you looked like your pet."

She looked at him. "You don't like my snobby bitch of the block shirt?"

"I didn't say that.  I said with the perm you looked like a poodle."  Charlie nodded, dislodging the hand in his hair but it came back.  "Laria, please.   You're embarrassing him."

"I need to take in a picture of his hair and have my hairdresser curl it the right level of curls."

Charlie looked at her.  "That would ruin the texture."

"There's conditioning treatments," she assured him with a smile.  She even hugged his arm.  "Thanks, Charlie."

"Welcome, Laria.  When is the conference tonight?"

"Around dinner, whenever Amanda gets back from New York."  Don snickered.  "I know, she said she fell asleep on the drive in and Mac had to carry her to bed.  It was probably very cute and good for her since she needs a new man."

Tiff leaned forward.  "They've had some problems with that same group," she announced.  They all hissed at that.  "Yuppers.  Lindsey Monroe tried to catch a peek."  That got another hiss.  "So we're at the point in time where they're going to be installing security devices on their doors too.  That's what worked in Miami."  That got smiles.  "Speed's single by the way, ladies.  Horatio said he has to stay down there but he is single.   Horatio also said he had to quit promising to pounce Eric for my pleasure to get a new engine for his bike."

"You got it done?" Charlie asked, looking happy.

"I need to install the puppy, but yeah."  He beamed at that.  "Then I can break the speed of sound on my bike too."  Don gave her an odd look.  "Really.  I'm going to take it out to a track and let it go down.  Speed wanted a ride."

"Damn," he said in awe.  "You like speed that much?"

"Its not fun if it's slow.  Well, some things are fun if they're slow," she admitted to the giggling going on.  She swatted one sister.  "But most of the time, yes, I do drive fairly fast.  Traffic is still a bitch though."

"Invent a flying car," Charlie told her.

"I have.  It works well.  FAA won't let us use it."  He sighed.  "Sorry, we use it on the island."

"I'd like to see it some day."

"We'll see what we can work out, baby."  She kissed him on the cheek.  "But I might make you teach another class."

"I'm already doing a double classload," he chastised.  She pouted.  "No.  I like grading my own tests instead of letting Teacher do it for me."

"Fine.  Can you find someone to take over Willa's place?"  He pointed at Amita.  "Ahhhh, so not just to introduce your girl to the clan.  Very sneaky, Charlie."  He grinned at that and they pounced Amita to talk up the Teacher program.

"Good job, Charles," Larry teased.  "Now she'll be as insane as we are."

"I liked the class I took last time."

"Me as well.  It's very interesting.  It's also a lot less tiring to teach these classes than normal ones.  Speaking of, your protege did contact me on your request and we did go over her project.  It is going to be marvelous if she can figure out which of the eighteen variables she wants.  I did advise her on which I thought would be easier and which would look better as a future colleague.  I haven't heard back from her yet."

"She might be grounded," Don reminded him.  "She's only thirteen."

"Turned thirteen two days ago," Charlie agreed happily.  "I'll write her and her mother tonight."  That got a nod.  "We've been talking.  Her mother wants to let her do college early but she doesn't want her to have too many problems.  So I told her about what I went through and how a few things would've went a lot easier in some ways.  They're thinking about moving so she can go to Rutgers with her mother living with her."  That got nods.

"She can come to New Haven or MIT.  We're used to child prodigies," Nick offered.

"I suggested MIT.  Her mother hates the state."

"Oh."  He nodded.  "That can be a problem.  Will Rutgers have it?"

"It will and they had a child prodigy there a few years back that started at fourteen so they're used to it."  That got mass smiles.  "I did also suggest she could go somewhere like Sistema, be around kids nearly her own age?" he asked Salette.

"La Mer would be better for that.  Or even St. Gabrielle, which is in Hawaii.  It's a boarding school as well.  It's a larger school but doesn't have as many advanced credit options.  It's an education, math, and science school.  At the very least it'd give her another year before she went off to college.  We could very easily work out a scholarship thing so her mother wouldn't be strapped financially.  Plus the year in Hawaii would do her good.  There's about four hundred students and it's about an equal mix of boys and girls.  She'd get a lot of the socialization without the pressure you got to be like the much older kids.  From there we could work on her college admittance and she could go nearly anywhere, including nearer to you."

"That might help her a lot," Larry agreed.  "We'll get on and chat with her tomorrow, Charles?"

"We can," he agreed happily.  "Or I can call.  Don, can I borrow your phone?"  Don snorted but handed it over.  He called out there.  "Hi, Laurel, it's Charlie Epps.  No, she hadn't.  We figured she was grounded, but I'm here with some of the brilliant women over the Teacher program and they suggested an intermediary step for her.  St. Gabrielle, which is in Hawaii.  It's like Sistema but it's a little bit larger and a math and science school.  Not as many advanced credit options but it'd give her a year with kids around her own age.  That's what they were thinking, then she'd be older, which you said would be easier to let her go.  We can even get her into our school here to work with her personally if you wanted that.  No, Cal Sci doesn't admit anyone under sixteen.  Because we had one kid commit suicide a few years back.  Definitely and it'd be a good thing for her.  One of the big things I had was a lot of pressure to be like the bigger kids so they'd like me.  This would remove some of it and give her a good intermediary step.  I can do that.  Hold on.  This is Salette.  She's partially over that."

"Let me," Nick said.  He took the phone and walked off.  "Hi, ma'am.  Nick.  I'm their brother and I teach in the Classic's program.  I'm the stand-in for my mother at La Mer so I know the best about most of the schools."  He smiled.  "Exactly."  He wandered off telling her about the school and how they could easily get her a scholarship for that year.  How it would benefit her to get over that awkward first year without her parents but they'd still be closer and there'd be a lot more people watching out for her.  Plus it was Hawaii and she'd love it there.  He came back ten minutes later and handed Don his phone. "They'll go out on a tour in a few days, so someone call Philip out there."  Tiff did that.  "Thanks, Charlie.  That was a great idea.  We want that one to be very safe."  Charlie smiled at him.  "She'd be sixteen that spring semester, right?"  Charlie nodded.  "So she could probably go a year and a half, then right to Cal Sci if we worked it right.  Or go home for that one semester and then hit college.  Give her a chance to show her parents she's more mature and able to handle things, plus to get the updated 'don't drink/have sex/do drugs' talk they'll want to give her."

"I remember mine to Charlie.  Don't do what the big kids do so they'll like you.  Their opinion doesn't matter and it'll only end up bad.  If I have to come out there to bail you out of jail, you'll be very sorry.  So just be yourself and if they can't appreciate you, then screw 'em, they're never going to be friends."

"I still got into a few frat parties in my very young freshman year, dad," he admitted.

"I figured you did, Charlie.  It's part of college.  Figured it out after the first one?"

"Oh, I did," he admitted.  "The hangover was terrible."  Larry snickered and nodded. "You too?"

"Yes, I found the frat from that one movie.  Not Animal House, the other one with the jocks verus the geeks.  I found their house and I had quite a lot of fun there on occasion."  Charlie shook his head but he was smiling.  It was a good picnic and the family was more than happy to expand by a few members.

The End.