Speed walked into the massive lab building behind Ryan, looking around. "I thought Miami's version was good sized," he said in appreciation. The girls and the guards waiting on them all smiled. "Hey."
"Hi." One of them waved.
Ryan grinned. "This is Speed. He's just logged onto the Teacher program. Tiff's going to let him help her test her new engine."
"Oooooh," one said, shivering. "Can I watch?"
"Sure," Speed agreed with a small grin. "Let's get out of the way. Are the others here yet?"
"Yuppers," Tiff called, coming out of the open-air elevator. "Guys, log in CSI Wolfe and Speedle please." They did that and gave Speed his temporary passes; Ryan had his on him. "This way, guys. Greg just got here. Sheldon got here with Sis. So we're all good. Oh, the hormonally challenged one is here as well. This way we can give him a *male* Teacher. Before Charlie has to be totally traumatized by her bending over to show off her panties during math lessons. Again. Fortunately not for anyone under the age of consent." She took their arms and led them into a conference room that was equipped with some very nice, soft, comfortable chairs and a soda and coffee machine. "There we go. Bathroom is the blue door and I see it's in use. Where's the young'ne?" she asked Sheldon. He pointed at the bathroom. "Wonderful. Do not make me clean that room after you go off, Eric Bryant, or I will make your life a living hell!" she bellowed. His 'eep' was heard over the snickers. "So, anything before we get down to it?"
"None of the teachers are coming?" Ryan asked.
"They're coming in a few. They're having their own conference about how many offerings we have and who we need to get to fill in for some deceased teachers. With Willa dying and how she did most of the math classes herself, it's going a bit wrong at the moment. The supes are in their own conference about dealing with such cute geniuses." That got a nod. "Need food, right?" She went to get some and brought back in the plate of sandwiches. "I promise, only someone nice made them. Before you ask, Speed, not Studly."
"Studly?" Sheldon asked with a small grin.
Ryan nodded. "He's in biochem and he's a fully nude lab geek. Even shaved his head. Only wears gloves in the lab."
"Mac would scream," Sheldon said dryly.
Greg looked at him. "I've got the uptight brats on my shift. I can't even express the shocked look Nick would have on his face in any of the four languages I know. Warrick would splutter. Catherine would moan and walk off shaking her head. Grissom would go 'huh' and 'please put on something before you embarrass someone' and Sara would scream and rant for days, even after he left."
"Lindsey would scream. Stella would laugh. Danny would give him odd looks then start to ask stupid questions until his mind kicked in. Flack would pout, thinking he was trying to outdo his own handsomeness. Mac would be very loud and very blunt. He has this bad habit of calling people on the carpet in front of others."
Greg patted him on the arm. "How about me and Lindsey switch? She can go be with other uptight people. I can be where it's fun. I can be where I'd get some support because I'm doubting Mac's the sort of guy to let someone go through an inquest alone."
"I haven't had one yet," Sheldon admitted. "He takes the lab's integrity very seriously. Apparently he and Danny have had to butt heads when he was protecting the lab and not him but he was there for Stella and Flack when they needed him."
"Can I move to Miami then?" Greg asked Speed, who nodded.
"Yeah, Horatio would sooner torture himself than let one of us go through that alone. Even if it was our fifteenth one. You good?"
"No. Being sued."
"Me too. I saved the guy's life by rushing in with the Denali. One of the guys in the mob ran toward it and I couldn't stop in time. He died of his injuries. They ruled it reasonable."
"That sucks," Ryan told him. "We'll gladly recruit you, Greg. You know I'd love to work with you." Greg smiled at that. "We make a good team."
"We do." He sat up and grabbed a sandwich to nibble. "I'm still thinking. Hodges gave me another pointed reminder that being in the field means that those things happen."
"No, they don't have to happen," Speed assured him. "I've been shot at, shot, and had other problems. Horatio's walked into bomb scenes, put himself in the way of snipers, and all sorts of macho crap that he shouldn't do but ended up being the right thing at the time. It didn't *have* to happen. Sometimes it does but being a lab tech won't stop it. We've had a lab raided by idiots real-life-roleplaying a video game."
Greg smiled. "I'll consider it." That got a nod and the young teenager walked out. "You had better have cleaned that," he warned. "The rest of us are CSI and we *can* tell."
"I wasn't doing that!" he complained.
Ryan looked at him. "Okay, let's start with you hacking teacher."
"It's not just me. Today wasn't me. I was on a plane."
"Then who is it?" Sheldon asked.
Greg grinned. "I know St. Sebastian has one of the few hacking programs in the Sisterhood's schools. The problem is that school kids use Teacher too. If you guys screw with Teacher, we *all* get it messed up. It misgraded a test on me because you had left a back door open in the algorithm."
Eric grimaced. "It's one of the older kids proving he could do better. I've already told Tiff when she pinned me to a wall and got into my face at the airport about it."
"Then we'll add extra security and lock some of you out," Greg promised with a small nod. "They can do that." That got a pitiful look. "You're in a school full of girls, Eric, why don't you try a living one?"
"Because they all think I'm a geek and unpopular," he pouted.
"Baby, we were all geeks," Greg said dryly, giving him a look. "Shit, son, I went to Croans. Think about how geeky that made me. It never stopped me picking up girls in the clubs." That got an awed look. "Maybe you should switch down to St. Eppie's. I know it's not computer related but it could handle that problem."
"I've thought about that. My mother wanted me at St. Sebastian's because it's so safe. It's eleven miles from the nearest road," he said at Speed's curious look. "We come in every year and have to be helicoptered in for the start of school. Our stuff gets helicoptered in after us."
"That's in the middle of nowhere," Speed agreed. "Where's St. Eppie's?"
"Just outside New Orleans," Sheldon said with a grin. "They have the most trouble down there. There's rumors that the kids go to houses of ill repute as a rite of passage in their first year."
"St. Eppie's is one of those mythical schools where there's not a single *good* kid," Greg agreed.
Ryan snickered. "Plus some of them go to work at SARC later on," he added. He looked at the teenager. "Art classes?" He nodded. "Well, there's the places in New York or St. Eppie's has an art track."
"Mother would never agree."
Ryan looked at him. "I'm pretty sure we can convince her, Eric. Really. A bunch of police officers and those of us in the Teacher program? It'd be easy enough." That got a small grin. "But, we need you to block access to Teacher from everyone else until we can go smack people into walls."
"I've already done that."
"It was a buxom, Jessica Rabbit, looking woman when I logged in an hour ago," Speed offered.
"Aw, crap," he muttered, walking off to go fix that. "Someone else did it," he called as he walked. Tiff came out to let him into the computer lab. "They said I might like St. Eppie's," he said quietly while he worked.
She gave him a hug. "I'd love to see you at St. Eppie's, Eric, or in New York. Sistema has a great art track and it's all classical art, plus the higher ed art school is there too. We'll let someone work on her. What's your areas?"
"I'd like to do some electronic art."
"Sistema is mostly classical. St. Eppie's has anime. Maybe you can transfer in for a few semesters?"
"I'd like that. Please?" he begged.
"I'll see what I can do, baby." She kissed him on the head while a few others came in to help the hacking be undone and fixed. "Thanks."
"Welcome." One moved to get into another system, logging everyone at the school in Scotland off until they could reclear them. "Fixed that problem too." She got back to work on the new security protocols, letting him show her what he was working on. "That's a good idea." She gave him a hug too and they got down to it together. "If you go to New York, we can let Sheldon look over your shoulder."
"He seems like a nice guy. A lot less blunt than Greg." He looked at her, then at Tiff. "Why wouldn't a supervisor support you during an inquest?"
She shrugged. "Because he doesn't understand people and I'm not sure Grissom understood how bad this was going to get," she admitted. "Though I do want to kick his ass and Amanda gave him a verbal one." She walked off, going back to the four guys. "Sorry. They're fixing that." That got a mass of smiles. "Sheldon, if he goes to New York, can you look over his shoulder?"
"Sure. I mentor other kids."
"Thanks." She smiled at Greg. "Amanda yelled at him."
"I heard. He asked me why. I pointed out that no good supervisor would've let me go through that without someone being there for me," he said bitterly. "Then I stomped off having a hissy fit. Which got me into it with Hodges, and it was messy that night. I took a liquor store robbery and headed out before anyone else got there so I didn't have to deal with others."
Horatio came to the doorway. "Gil?" Greg nodded. "He didn't go to the inquest with you?" Greg shook his head, grimacing again. "Did he give you any support, any counseling?" Greg shook his head more slowly. "The department?"
"Is letting me hang. They ruled it reasonable."
"Uh-huh. You're welcome in Miami, Greg. I'll find a spot for you. It might take me a few months but you're more than welcome in Miami." That got a true, bright, happy grin and Greg got up to hug him. "I'll talk with Grissom myself. Mac and I have both talked about support issues in the past." That got a nod and Greg sat back down. "The other one?"
"Fixing the problem he started," Sheldon offered. "Can we help teach classes, Tiff? I might be able to swing a pre-med or one for future ME's."
"I'll see if we can do that," she agreed happily, going to suggest that to that panel.
Horatio looked at his boys. "Behave." He went back to his room, closing the door. "So, Don, how are you enjoying the liaising?"
Don Epps, who was kicked back in his chair with his feet up, smiled. "It's okay. Not a lot of stress. So far they've asked me about a few things. We had one incident where they didn't ask. Two guys died and a few others lost their badges and their freedom in a few cases. They mostly want to know about the drug research division and the weapons that they've let me know about." Horatio nodded once at that. "Drug research is done in the Chicago lab and they've got a pair of detectives out there who handle it for them. She put me in touch with them so they could brief me on the usual idiots who come to get them to do stuff for them. Then they put it around that I'm doing the same thing for this building. Have you guys had an insurgence down in Miami yet?"
"We've had a few in the past. We mostly cleaned it up after the fact. During the weapons demonstration there was a person who tried to get access from another weapons company. Mr. Wolfe played doting fiancee to make him go away."
Don smirked. "I'm sure he's good at it. He looks like the sort to fuss a woman to death. Is he the same guy I got that tape from?" Horatio nodded. "Charming. How'd he know her?"
"The blonde was his third cousin. We're still hunting her. She's being helped by some of her news contacts."
"Even better. Good luck to you, man." He put his feet down when Amanda walked in with Mac. "Late, Taylor?" he teased.
"I had to take a later flight due to court," he admitted, sitting down. "Horatio." They shook hands. "How's Miami?"
"Good. A bit strange with Tiff and Stephni working on our labs. It's shown us where a good few officers needed some work on their personal control issues."
Mac snickered at that. "Stephni came up to help us put in the fingerprint security system on the doors. Danny stared for hours and Stella very tactfully suggested that maybe she should wear something bigger."
"She looked at her and said 'why, am I making you think dirty thoughts' and Stella walked off blushing," Amanda agreed. "By the way, I did have a word with Mr. Grissom."
"What did he do this time?" Mac asked.
"Let Greg go through his first inquest and first killing without support."
Horatio looked at him. "Even worse than you've done to Danny," he said quietly. "I've offered Greg a spot with us or he's suggested he can switch with Lindsey on your team."
"Lindsey would be lost in Las Vegas. She is in New York. I'll talk with the man, see if he needs some supervising tips." Horatio smiled at that. "Did Sheldon tell you I yelled at him in the labs too?"
"Yup. I agree the lecture was necessary at that point but chewing him out in front of others wasn't. This isn't the Corps, where you can yell at guys in front of the unit and it makes them stronger. CSI are strange and fragile creatures who will walk off and all their coworkers will shy away from them, then they won't get backed up in the field and you'll end up with a dead CSI."
"Good." He smiled. "Sometimes I feel like the fatherly one." Mac punched him on the arm. "I do." He shrugged at Don's laughter. "I've got Speed, Eric, and now Ryan squabbling with each other."
"I'm so sorry, man," Don said with an evil smirk. "Good luck with that."
"We're darling little angels," Speed said as he walked past the door. "We're going to go play. Find us later, guys." Greg cackled and Ryan moaned but followed. Sheldon walked behind them looking a bit wary.
"We should save Sheldon's sanity," Mac said. "The other two seem to have lost theirs already."
"For the last two weeks Speed has been taunting Eric about how Tiff said he could have a version of her new engine for his bike if he screwed Eric," Horatio said quietly. "I finally had to forbid him to update his bike." They heard a higher pitched giggle and sighed. "That did not sound good."
"That was...." Amanda looked out the door. "Embry. She's got Greg and Ryan. She's the main programmer over Teacher. She's non-family."
"Do they...." Don asked. Amanda pointed at Horatio behind his back, getting a nod. "Which one of the heathen cult Charlie's picked up is Embry?"
"The one with the red hair, but I don't think she was at the picnic, Don."
"Cult?" Mac asked.
"All the ladies and most of the guys love my little brother," Don told him. "He's a math genius and they found him through me after the first case. They baby him, pet his hair, coo and cuddle him. We got invited to a recent family picnic and they all fought over who got to sit with him. They all love Charlie."
Amanda nodded. "We do. Charlie's a very sweet guy. Very few men meet up to Embry's standards as friends. She's pretty anti-man most of the time." That got a nod from Horatio. "Anyway, we need to discuss how the tests are going." She heard another cackle. "*That* is the bad sound. CHILDREN! BEHAVE!" she bellowed.
"Yes, mommy," Ryan called, then Greg cackled again.
"Hey!" Greg shouted. "I like this shirt!"
"Crap!" Speed yelped then the sound of furniture being moved.
Don got up to look out there, finding them with odd squirt guns. "What are you boys doing?"
"Playing foam tag," Greg said with a grin. He shot a stream at him.
"Don't hit Horatio's suit," Speed warned. "He'll probably spank and he does it really hard according to Eric." Greg cackled and Ryan moaned, taking off running to distract Greg, who followed. Speed grabbed his own gun and followed with a few of the ladies on his team. "We'll go play somewhere else."
"Sure. You boys do that," he agreed. "Sheldon, want to come with us?"
"No, Ryan was gleeful when he saw the foam. I should referee."
"Let us know if they need spanked," Don ordered. Sheldon nodded, following after the boys with their hacking student. He went back to his chair. "They've got some sort of foam and they're playing tag."
Horatio sat stiffly upright. "The clothes-eating foam."
"I heard about that," Don admitted. He looked at Amanda, who sighed and nodded. "Well, the kid'll get some fun lessons. A few of the girls went with them."
"Greg and Ryan together beat a lot of the sisters and brothers at foam tag. Greg used to sneak out of Croans all the time to get into trouble. Ryan has this bad habit of being invisible now and then. Oh well," she sighed. "Eric will probably get his fill looking at the female form as it bounces after the boys. He won't need to do Teacher again." Horatio moaned. "It'll be fine. They'll be naked but it'll be fine. Last year Ryan and Greg managed to get the family at the conference we had in New York in a hotel. He even got Mom. Made her giggle too. She got Ryan into a hug and warned him not to get her again but they managed to tag the whole family that was playing."
"I'll have to remember that," Horatio said dryly.
"Me too," Mac agreed, looking at Don. "There's probably uses for it."
"I asked, it'll eat anything unnatural and the stuff in pockets too."
Horatio nodded. "It still might have a few uses. Unfortunately I can see more black market uses to render forensic evidence gone."
"Depends on what it left behind," Mac reminded him. "It might have hairs in the remaining sludge. I remember the foam battle in the hotel. It left piles of sludge."
"It does not eat blood or hair," Amanda offered. "It would eat gunshot residue."
"Then we would be able to get some residual forensics," Horatio decided. "I need a can of that to take back to Miami. Can it be applied in minute amounts?"
"Yup. Greg applied it to one of Stephni's dresses at the seams. He walked behind her and gave it a little tug, which made it fall in the middle of dinner. Then he took pictures. She still needs to pay him back for that."
"Good to know," Horatio mused.
Mac looked at him. "No more evil thoughts, Horatio. Even if the putz is annoying you."
Horatio gave him a small smirk. "I'd never consider using it on him, Mac. You know me better than that."
"Uh-huh," Don said, shaking his head. "I can think of a few people I'd like to do that to too. Can I have a can?"
"Sure, Don. We can arrange that if the boys don't use it all up." They heard a running person and she got up, finding it was a security guard. "Someone hurt?"
"Car crashed the gate," he panted. "The others?"
He nodded, running off again talking into his microphone.
"Sounds like my job is calling," Don decided, getting up to go see what was going on. He saw the van stop and called his team. "It's me, Colby. I've got a strike team at DragonTech. Conference. Just busted the gates. Looks like six guys in dark clothes and masks, with guns. Thanks." He hung up. "ETA ten minutes for backup," he called. Then he put his badge on more prominently, staring at the guys. One caught sight of him and shot at the windows. "Hey, they are that good," he decided. He ducked a second shot. Power went out but the backup generators came on a minute later. They headed around the side. "Going toward the parking lot!" he called, heading that way. The security forces, Mac, and Horatio went with him, Ryan jogging out to join them. "I don't think the foam gun's going to do you any good, Wolfe," Don said dryly.
"You never know." He shot at one of them with it and his clothes melted. "See? Yours?"
"Nope, no agent I know." The guards attacked the very pale, pasty target, and he helped get the others. One got inside but he ran into Greg, Speed, and Tiff, who knocked him out. Speed handcuffed him while Greg watched and waited for more. Backup got there about the same time as they got the last guy down and injured. He waved his boys and girl over. "All yours. Tried to break in. Cut the power."
"Why is one naked?" Megan asked. "Because that's just pitiful. I've seen better bodies on goldfish."
"Remember the clothing-eating foam?" Don asked. She nodded once. "The geeky boys were playing foam tag."
"Ah." She smiled at that. "Okay. I can make fun of his tiny dick." She walked off to do that. "Any idea who these guys are?"
"Paladin," Ryan called. He pointed at one he had unmasked. "That one's their head of security. He offered me a bribe if I would wear a camera into the labs in Miami."
"Industrial espionage in the morning, nearly as good as coffee," David quipped.
Colby looked at him. "Not hardly. More jealous and greedy bastards. Miss Disher?" She looked over. "This all of them?"
"Can we have the one in the lab?" she asked sweetly.
"You shouldn't," Don told her.
"I can find out what they wanted very quickly, dear." She walked that way, staring down at him. "Someone get Embry back here?"
"She's waiting in conference one," one of the guards noted, hauling the guy up and that way. A few minutes later he came out sobbing. He handed Don a tape. "We made two copies at the same time."
"Do I want to know what you did to him?" Colby asked.
"No," he said bluntly then headed back inside. "Go back to the other areas, boys. You're too valuable to be risked in this." They nodded, going to do that, dragging Mac and Horatio with them. He sent one of their engineers to go work on the electric. Then he did a thorough sweep of the building. Into every air vent and everywhere else. They even found the remains of someone's pet ferret that had gotten free and hidden a few weeks back. By the time Amanda got back in he had a report waiting on her, the remains were boxed up and ready for burial by the parent in the morning, and the boys were all locked in one big room telling their bosses about this new threat to their sanity. He handed over the tape he had someone making copies of. "Here you go."
"Thank you. What did they want this time?"
"Fuck," she muttered as she walked off. "Thank you, Paul."
"Welcome, Amanda." He went back to his post, watching the guys replace the broken window. That new security glass was very good. He made a note how it had held up for the testing panel. That way they could market it faster.
Greg leaned into Amanda's office. "The Pedex or otherwise?" he asked quietly.
"Something that very few people know about, Greg. Though I'm sure they'd like it if they could get to it." She smiled. "Go ahead and brief them further, dear."
He nodded, ducking out to go back to the room they were all in. "She said it wasn't the Pedex drive," he said as he sat down again. "Which shocks the hell out of me. She said it's something that not even all the researchers know about yet."
"What's the Pedex drive?" Sheldon asked.
"You've noticed that Teacher runs on a laptop? Even though it'd usually take a whole mainframe system to run such a sophisticated artificial intelligence program?" Everyone nodded. "The Pedex drive is how they do that. That's their updated harddrive. The one in the laptops is about 20 terabytes. It's a good, working, harddrive and has been for years."
"No wonder they can get the handheld scanners so small," Sheldon said. "Terabytes?"
"If not larger. They've had this puppy working since the early nineties."
Horatio leaned back, considering this. "That is something that a lot of groups would want. What is Paladin's major source of income?"
"Weapons," Tiff said as she walked in. "They want the Pedex drive for a whole different reason. This time they were a different thing, guys. Really. We're not so sure they haven't gotten a look at one of the Teacher laptops." She pinched Greg on the ear. "Behave."
"Is that the new thing that's been worked on in the Las Vegas lab?" Ryan asked. "Stephni said that something pretty important was coming out of there."
"No, that's been going on there and in Chicago. It's a joint collaboration." She kissed him on the head. "They wanted something a bit older but non-working. It's a filament weapon and it's a crack plot waiting to happen."
"How powerful?" Mac asked.
"We never got it to work so we haven't figured out an explosive yield for it yet. It'd take a chemical explosive in liquid form." That got mass nods. "And that is all I can say. It's non-working in the extreme. Stephni and a few others got a bit drunk one night while watching some futuristic sci-fi stuff and a quaint comment from Nick hatched the crack- driven plot from their minds and into reality. No one could remember what sort of fissionable material they needed the next morning so it's got a technical but not a chemical component."
"Paladin's a cover for some of the governmental weapons designers," Ryan offered. "I did some research when they tried for me that first time."
"I don't get those," Greg told him, looking confused. "I get the guys who want me to get into Hals and the lab in Chicago or tell them what they've stolen."
Speed looked at Sheldon. "Have you gotten that yet?"
"No, not yet, and I went to school with Amanda."
"They won't be," Greg assured him. "Ryan and I were two of the first on the Teacher system. They know that the ladies dote on us. They know that we're close friends and that Ryan and I have passes that can get us into nearly any lab in the company, and a few in White Knight if we needed to." Tiff nodded at that. "There's only one other person with the access we have outside the family and that's someone's wife."
"She's dead," she admitted quietly. "Got ran off the road last year by a drunk driver. We investigated thoroughly to make sure it wasn't connected."
"That's why I keep my pass inside the lab," Ryan assured her.
"Pookie, you and Baby can get in with fingerprints and DNA too," she reminded him.
"I know. We both do, but it's going to take a hell of a lot of pressure to make me do it."
"Good point." She looked at Horatio, then at Mac. "No one should threaten Sheldon that way, Mac. Or Danny. These two goofballs have been on Teacher so long they're considered self-made geniuses. They're our *favorite* guinea pigs. They've both got researcher status in the lab and a fairly high security clearance because of what they help us with."
Speed looked at Ryan. "I'm so telling Calleigh and Eric."
Ryan grinned. "They'd never believe you. Who'd believe that I helped Tiff create her last engine? Or that I helped Stephni with the laser weapon? Or any of it."
"Point," he sighed. "Still, we've got to make sure you're safer, Wolfe."
"I don't want special treatment or to be stuffed in a lab, Speed. I never have. This is the work I want to do. If I was a bit more mechanically inclined I'd have helped her with the new testing equipment."
"We can start by taking some reasonable precautions," Horatio decided. "Including wiring you with a GPS sensor all the time, Mr. Wolfe."
"It's on my nipple ring."
Speed stared at him. "Really?" Ryan nodded. "Anything else that can do?"
"Just a GPS chip. I had a life-sensor on a navel ring but I lost it about two years ago."
Greg nodded. "I've got a GPS sensor in my navel. They imbedded the chip itself since I can't stand piercings without scratching it until it bleeds. I've still got my life-sensor chip in my navel." He shifted. "Before anyone asks, no, no one in Las Vegas knows I have it. No one has known I have it." He looked at Don, who walked back in, then at Tiff. "You might offer it to someone else," he suggested with a glance at Don.
"Don, dear, we've wired Greg and Ryan both with a GPS sensor. Can we do Charlie for you?"
"I'd kiss and date you if you did," he offered seriously. "Do you think these idiots are going to come after him?"
"No. This is weapons research people. A front for the government to design weapons and pay itself for it," Ryan told him. "They'd only come after him to help the design teams and they've got others at their beck and call."
"Probably Penfield," Don said bitterly. "He's always trying to discredit Charlie. How invasive is this?"
"Mine's in my navel. Ryan's got a nipple ring with his on it," Greg told him.
"I can see it being imbedded," he decided. "He's got a fairly high NSA level clearance too so it'd probably be seen as a reasonable excuse for it." Tiff smiled at that and went to tell someone to get Charlie there for his own protection and to do it to him. "Any other sensors I should know about?"
"I'm still wearing my life-sensor," Greg offered quietly. "Ryan lost his two years ago."
"We can embed another one," Horatio said, looking at Ryan, who nodded. "Thank you."
"Welcome." He looked at Speed. "I'll show you that headset system for Teacher too if you want." He looked at Don. "Greg and I are the two favorite guinea pigs in the system. We've helped around the lab for years now."
"We want you guys protected too. What do you know about Paladin, Wolfe?"
"I did some checking when they first came up to me with a bribe to go into the lab with a camera. Promised me a spot in the FBI's labs when I graduated." He leaned on the table, his hands clenched. "They're the front the weapons designers in the government use. They contract themselves, pay themselves, then soak up the profits from the sales. These are the people who send out possible ideas to other, better known, designers. They're not all military but the guy over them is. Heartstone?" he asked, looking at Mac, who shuddered. "I see you've met him?"
"Heard of him. One of the other units on my old base tested a tracking system they put up. Two guys died from it but it was considered a success. He's pretty heartless. Don, if they want Charlie, they knew about him before. They recruit out of colleges. He probably got talked to back in his undergrad."
"I'll ask him later." He stared at Ryan again. "Anything else?"
"That one guy was their head of security. He's also one of their recruiters," Greg offered quietly. "They don't come up to me. I'm a chemist first and then a DNA god last. The only time I've seen them they wanted help on a DNA encoded lock system. I refused and told them to go see my former mentor." That got a nod from Don. "I'm not sure what they wanted it for. They wanted it to be carryable. I gave what he wanted to Amanda that night. She said it was an interesting application but they already had one. Those guys are literally two steps behind the people here. It pisses them off and they're behind the lab insurgencies most of the time."
"Okay. So we're talking the big boys in the military and pentagon who're doing the baseline weapons thoughts." He called his brother. "Charlie, me. Did you ever get approached by someone from a company named Paladin?" His brother apparently babbled at him because he was taking notes. "Okay, thanks. No, I want you here, Charlie. Well, because I'm going to let them put a GPS chip in your bellybutton for me," he admitted. "Plus those guys showed up earlier. Thank you." He hung up. "What were they after?"
"A liquid filament explosive system," Ryan told him. "That doesn't work."
"Crap," he muttered. "Anything else?"
"They used to be after the harddrive but apparently they've looked at one somehow," Greg offered. "The Teacher systems are fully on that single laptop, Don."
"They told Charlie that."
"It looks for updates when it logs on but you're not logged onto the larger system unless you're sending information, like tests," Ryan told him. "Each laptop has about 20 terabytes of space." Don gave them an odd look. "It's not Windows compatible either."
"Good thing or Bill Gates would be throwing fits and Windows would never fit on any home computer ever again." He grimaced. "Do we have to watch you two?"
"We've got it," Greg assured him. "I'm sure someone will be telling Ecklie?" Mac and Horatio both nodded. "Then I'll be fine. I wouldn't expect Grissom to understand security protocols like that. The Sheriff either."
"But their SWAT team would and so would their diplomatic and security corps," Mac told him. "That's who we go through in New York. One of their guys liaises with IAB over those issues for officers."
"In Miami as well, but our Chief has a clue. Theirs is appointed by the people." He grimaced at Greg. "I would feel more comfortable if you switched to one of ours, Greg."
"So would I and if it gets uncomfortable there, I'll gladly show up on Mac's doorstep, Horatio." That got a smile from Mac. "That way they can send Lindsey to the other stuffy people. She and Sara can talk about being stuffy together."
"If that's what you want," Horatio agreed. Greg smiled at that. "We do have entertainments that they don't."
"I know. I like to dive and surf. We'll see what comes up. Right now, Paladin doesn't want me, guys. Pscyotech wants me."
"Psychotech?" Don asked.
"Personal pet name," he said dryly, giving him a look. "Their sign's a cyclone and they're a bit like Amanda and them, only not family."
"Oh." He nodded and made notes on that. "Chemical industry?"
"Chemical industry and chemical weapons," Greg corrected. That got a single nod from Don. "They've offered me a very high six figures to go work for them."
"Wow, Paladin only offers me low six," Ryan complained.
Greg grinned. "Its because I'm a DNA God, baby."
"Uh-huh," he said, swatting him. "I'm still better with the weapons stuff."
"Boys," Horatio warned. "Enough playing."
"This is just us, Horatio," Greg assured him with a grin. "We're safe, the threat's over with. It's all good." He looked at Ryan again. "Did you show them your transcripts? I showed the guys in the lab my lab and field credits."
"I gave Horatio a partial transcript with my application." Horatio looked at him so he sighed and pulled over the computer Sheldon had brought, logging in under his ID to find his full transcript. He let the boss see it then looked at Don again. "We are safe. We've been doing this for years. We were in just as much danger five years ago as we are today."
"If not, let me know right after whoever you need to tell locally," Don ordered, handing over cards. They tucked them into their wallets. "Thank you. Horatio, need one?"
"No, I have you in my phone. Tiff took it and programmed in your number with hers," he admitted, looking through the transcripts. He looked at Ryan. "You took biological weapons classes?"
"I got bored when I had a really horrible case of the flu. Anytime I get that sick, I'll go for it to see how whatever strain I had got developed in a lab and was being used to soften the population up for an invasion."
Horatio gave him an odd look but got back to reading. Speed eventually stole it from him to look for himself. Horatio gave him a look as well. "I want to know what I can get into."
"Trouble," Horatio assured him.
Speed smirked. "Me? Trouble?"
"You, definitely in trouble," he assured him, taking the computer back. He finished with Ryan's. "Are you retaking that engineering and the one physics class?" he asked.
"Probably sometime when I'm bored, boss."
"Greg, can I get into yours?" Mac asked. "For future reference?"
"Sure." He logged them into his full transcript, Ryan having to find the button for him when he got lost. "They hid it on us again." He let Mac have the laptop then shrugged at Sheldon. "When I first got mine I slept with it."
Sheldon snickered. "I've done some work in bed and fallen asleep so that's technically true but it's never been under my pillow. Usually in my bedside table."
"I thought that was for sex toys, condoms, lube, and lotions," Greg said, looking confused. "The VR headset for Teacher isn't that good yet."
"Forgive him, he hasn't had any in a few weeks," Ryan joked.
Don snickered. "All young guys hit that phase sometime." Ryan looked at him. "I played minor league ball, guys. I had groupies."
"Ah," Mac said, grinning at him. "Fun?"
"A lot. How many degrees do you have, guys?"
Greg shrugged. "I never went for the paper except for the stuff for the lab." Ryan nodded that he agreed. "Mine was I was bored and it had a new class."
"Mine was the same way," Ryan agreed. "I'm probably close to a few."
Mac found a button and clicked on it. "Greg, you've got two Doctorates and another three Masters in here. There's a button to show that."
"If you file for them someone will find out and I'll be hounded," Greg pointed out.
"I won't. It has a link to it." He went back and went back to work. "This isn't a Windows interface system?"
"No, they designed the operating system too," Ryan assured him. "The Pedex drive doesn't work with Windows at all. Hates the crap. Hates Linux most of the time too."
"Interesting," Horatio said.
Speed got back into Ryan's classes and Mac found that link for him. He looked at him. "You've got four Masters and a single Ph. D. You're slacking, Ryan."
Ryan stuck his tongue out at him. "I don't go for the degrees and I hate writing academic papers or else I'd go further. Hand that back to Sheldon." They logged out and Sheldon put it back into his briefcase. "So," he sighed. "Now what?"
"Now, we figure out how best to protect this new thing," Don reminded him.
Amanda walked in and looked at them. "You two never filed for the paperwork?" They shook their heads. "Huh. Ryan, dear, can you turn some of your research notes into papers? I'm sure we can have someone help you."
"I don't need the paper, Amanda."
"It looks good on us, dear."
They both sighed and nodded. "I'll help him," Greg promised.
"You write crappy research papers," Speed told him. "You said so yourself."
"True. Maybe a grad student would be the best idea," Greg admitted. "I'll proofread."
"I can help him with that," Speed assured them all. "I need to do one for a class coming up anyway and maybe I'll branch off something of his for my own."
"As long as you cite me," Ryan joked.
"Of course. I don't plagiarize. Eric used to get someone else to help him but I wrote all my own, guys." He looked at Amanda. "It done for the night? H and Mac both look pretty shocked at the moment."
"You guys can stay here or I've got a few guest rooms and so does Tiff at her house."
"I'll stay here," Greg said with a grin. "Ryan?"
"I'm all for the dorm," he agreed. "The kid coming with us?"
"He's still blushing at Studly."
"How did he get up here from Miami so fast?" Don asked. "I know he wasn't coming up."
She smiled. "That's a later discussion, Don, but not applicable to yours unless you know the insides very well."
"Something we can't know?" Mac asked.
"We keep it very quiet," she admitted. He shrugged. She walked in further and shut the door, whispering in his ear, then looking at him. He blinked and frowned. "That's the secret you didn't know."
"I already knew," Sheldon promised. "I saw you in heat that one time." He shrugged. "You have very pretty scales."
"Thank you, dear." She patted him on the head. "Mac, would you and Sheldon like to have my guest room or Tiff's?"
"Yours if it's got two beds. I can't sleep with Sheldon, he'd get kicked out of the bed."
"Of course not." She took them with her. "Don, Charlie's here," she called from outside.
"Good." He looked at the others. "Speed?"
"I'll stay here if there's room. Tiff's house might scare me. Have fun, boss." He got up and followed Greg and Ryan out.
Horatio got up and let Tiff lead him out to her car and then to her house. "How did he get up here?"
"We can do limited portals to places we've marked and know very well. It's how we get from lab to lab when time's tight."
"Oh." He nodded. "I had no idea you could get such advanced degrees on the Teacher system."
"Did you want one?" she teased.
"I'll think about it. Mac's just learned."
"He'll be shocked and ask a lot of questions all night. Amanda will come in dragging ass in the morning and nap on her couch. It'll be fine."
"If you say so."
"I do and Stephni's all knowing. She said so." He laughed at that. "The others?"
"There's only three beds. Well, I guess Ryan or Greg is getting a bed buddy." She shrugged and pulled into her driveway. "This is ours." He smiled at the modest house. "Yes, I've saved over the years but I'll be damned if the two boys live with me. I've got twin boys from my first laying," she explained at his curious look. "They're at Princeton. I'm so happy they're gone! They destroy more stuff than I do." He chuckled, getting out and following her inside. "Bag?"
He waved it. "I did come prepared."
"Good boy." She let him inside, letting him look around. "The red door is yours. It's got a real bed. Miffy won't mind if you take her room. It's got a bathroom attached and we have enough hot water for a college." He nodded, heading that way. "Wander into the kitchen if you get hungry, just don't wake me up." She headed into her room and climbed into her hammock to sleep. She was tired after earlier. Assaults always did that to her.
Horatio looked around the house, finding the pictures of her sons. They were adorable. He made himself a sandwich and went back to his room to settle in and read. That had answered a lot of his questions about Ryan's background.
Mac walked Greg back into the station, smiling at Catherine. "Hi."
"Mac Taylor. There's no convention," she teased.
He snorted. "Like I'd get that lucky. No, I'm returning Greg. We were at the same conference and I do believe he needs to speak to someone since a governmental body came up to recruit him and make him talk about what he's done for DragonTech," he said quietly.
"Grissom's having a headache in his office."
"It won't get much better," Greg assured her. "But we should probably tell Ecklie so he can't find out and use it against us, and they're going to brief someone on why I'm wearing a GPS chip for my own safety." She gave him an odd look. "DragonTech does a lot of high end weapons research as well as the Teacher program, Cat," he said quietly. "I've been on the Teacher program since its first year."
"That thing Hodges is working on?" He nodded. "Okay. Huh. I can call someone in the Sheriff's office."
"I know in New York and Miami we call someone in the security people or Internal Affairs. We've all had officers who've had sudden security issues."
"That I can do," she agreed. She went to call them to see who to call. That was a good idea. "Hi, it's Catherine Willows in the lab. We have a tech here who just got propositioned from a semi-government agency and he's taking security precautions. Who do we tell?" She nodded and wrote down the number. "Thank you." She hung up and called them. "It's Catherine... Yes, in the lab. Greg Sanders." She smiled. "Please. He's telling us about that today." She hung up and went to find Ecklie while Mac walked Greg back there, chatting and happy so everyone knew it wasn't a *problem* that was going on.
Greg leaned into Grissom's office after a brief knock. "You'll need to get up, we're having a meeting and you need to attend."
"Why?" he asked calmly.
"Because someone tried to get into DragonTech while we were there and I've got security precautions you and others need to know about." Grissom glared at him. "Tough. They don't want me snatched since I know a good portion of what they've got stored, Grissom. So up and at 'em." He walked in with Mac behind him. Hodges leaned in. "You're not in trouble. I've got years on Teacher and I'm very close to a few weapons designers. There are agents who want my cute butt for their trophy wall."
"Ow," he muttered. "Can I have some help in my current class? The program suggested you had a book for reference."
"Sure, let me do this first." That got a nod and Hodges walked off. He looked at the others who came in, wincing when Ecklie flipped on a light. "Be nicer! He's got a migraine!" He opened his personal laptop and logged into his transcript, letting Grissom have it first. "Those who don't know, I'm working on stuff for DragonTech. They've got an educational system I've been part of since the year it came out. That means I've worked closely with the designers, who also do some weapons, some anti-chemical warfare stuff, and a few other things. Like the artificial intelligence that runs the Teacher program." Ecklie moaned. "Not like I get paid. But I am going to need some time off to go get new degrees. Amanda talked me into filing for the papers to go on the walls. All I need to do is finish one paper and I'm good with a few Ph. D's." He looked at the guy from Internal Affairs. "I know you guys track whoever does have security issues?"
"We do, with the security teams and SWAT. What did they give you?"
Greg pulled off his shirt, showing them his navel. "Inside is a GPS chip and a life-scanner chip." That got a nod and Mac handed over a folded piece of paper. "The stuff to log in?" Mac nodded. "He was there so he came back with me to help explain this stuff."
"While we were at the conference, a semi-governmental company called Paladin tried to break into the lab to steal a new weapon, one that doesn't work yet," Mac told them. That got a small moan from Ecklie. "Greg's been wired like that for years but with this new push we thought it might be prudent to tell you."
"Greg, how many degrees do you have?" Grissom asked.
"By last count, I've got three Masters and two Doctorates through the system plus my mundane Bachelor's and double Masters that you hired me for. Ryan Wolfe, down in Miami, has four Masters and a single Ph. D. plus his mundane stuff." He coughed. "We're their *favorite* guinea pigs, guys. Otherwise you still wouldn't know. I've got a sealed letter in my locker about that stuff if I had been kidnaped but I was keeping it out of the PD. Also, I've been approached to help some greedy bastards break into Hals Labs, which is local, and the DragonTech drug research facility in Chicago. They're mostly after me for what I can do with a test tube. Ryan gets it for being a gopher and assistant to the weapons designers."
"Do we need to tell them?" Ecklie asked.
"No, Horatio, head of their daytime felony lab, was with us," Mac assured him. "I've got a few techs on Teacher and I had a layover here on the way back anyway so I came with him to help him brief you guys." He handed over a folder to the Internal Affair's person. "That's what they have on Paladin and the company Pyric-Tech, which is who keeps coming after Greg."
"Good to know. You're...."
"Mac Taylor, head of New York's dayshift felony lab." He shook his hand. "Horatio and I are both testing some new equipment from DragonTech in the scanner class. That's what the conference was for. We are all proud of Greg and Ryan however. I can only hope my two guys on Teacher get as good of an education as those two have." Greg grinned at that. "Also, Grissom, if he ever quits, he's coming to me. He said he'd give you Lindsey Monroe off my team. She's a bit like Sara according to him." He looked at Ecklie. "This is nothing to be concerned about but something to watch and keep in the back of your mind if he should get taken or otherwise injured. They have tried to hurt him before. He didn't tell Horatio that because he'd lock Ryan in the lab permanently if he knew."
"I can understand that," Ecklie agreed. "Can we brag on your degrees, Sanders?"
"Nope. Teacher is still a classified program."
"You can say I've recently finished some post-graduate work that led to a new degree. You can call me doctor all you want," he teased with a grin. "You can't say how I got it."
"That's fine. What was your dissertation on?"
"One was on DNA mixing and separating. One was on gene repair, cutting and pasting onto a damaged non-unique section so you could get a better chance at a unique profile. My Masters' theses were in a few fields. I've got one in Lit, one in Chem, and one in forensics. I used a case study to explore some updated technology for that one. My one in chem was on something I've been working on in the labs over the years. I basically turned my research notes into a rambling paper. My teacher told me to edit it down from three hundred pages to something readable. My one in Lit was on the effects of reading certain stories and how they showed different interpretations when you're high. I did that one back in my physical undergrad in chemistry. I got bored and my roomie was always giving me a contact buzz."
"None more recently?" Ecklie asked.
"No! Hell no."
"Thank you. Okay, I'll brag in the next bulletin that you've done some post-graduate work and are about to attain the important papers."
"Papers haven't really been important to me," Greg admitted. He shrugged. "It's something to hang on a wall. Though I don't mind being called Doctor Sanders." That got a knowing smirk. "Call me it all you want, Ecklie."
"I'm sure it'll come up." He left.
Greg looked at the Internal Affairs guy. "Need anything else?" he asked with a small smile.
"I'd like to have your transcripts updated with our office, not in the system."
"Nope. It'll be looked at oddly. One of my Masters is from Cambridge. Another from Oxford."
"Can I see it?" Greg pulled out a copy and let him see it. "This is... fairly comprehensive." He turned the page and kept going. "Very interesting." He handed it back. "I'm assuming that DragonTech put in the GPS and life-sensor?" Greg nodded. "Who out there would know?"
"On the back is their head of security's number and the agent who's playing liaison to keep the other agents from trying to raid them and steal things again," Mac told him. He looked then nodded, going to make note of that in Sander's soon-to-be-sealed personnel file. He looked at Greg. "You're welcome whenever you want to see snow, Greg. You know that."
"I do, Mac. Thank you." He gave him a hug. "Have a good flight back. I am going to brag that I have a Ph. D." He walked out, leaving Mac and Grissom to talk. "Congratulate me, I finished some post-grad work. I'm going to get more paper for the walls!" he announced as he walked.
Mac looked at him. "You do know Horatio and I have a support group started, right?"
"I figured you did," he admitted quietly. "Why?"
"Because there's a few reasons why Greg would switch, Grissom. Horatio's offered him the chance to go down there but we're both wary of what he and Ryan would do together. They're trouble together and they play all the time. They had clothing-eating foam fights in the hallways during the conference. Even got Horatio's shoes once." That got a small smirk. Horatio was known to be a bit vain about his suits in the forensics world. "Exactly. Should I make a place for him soon?"
"I don't know why..."
Mac closed the door. "Grissom, think about it. Who was there at your first inquest?"
"That again," he said with a grimace.
"Did you try to talk to him? Or offer him counseling?"
"He had the mandatory one."
"Which is crap and we both know it. They could care less, Grissom." That got a grimace but a nod. "Who was in there with him? My guys would've went together if I let them and if I couldn't make it Stella would've been there and turned off her phone accidentally on purpose so she couldn't be called away. Horatio would've been behind his guys fully. Right behind them and doing their counseling personally. Greg and I talked all weekend. He's still having nightmares from that night."
"Is he fit to work?"
"Yes, but I think you need to look a bit deeper. People aren't like bugs, Grissom. If you can't do it, let someone who can. Let Catherine or even Warrick." That got a nod. "This is why Greg has an open spot waiting for him in both our teams. We'll gladly let Lindsey come here to take his place if you want. She'd be a bit lost but he did assure me she was a lot like your Sara. Catherine could straighten her out too." That got a single nod and a grimace. "Not yelling or anything but you're about to lose a very good tech, Grissom. Las Vegas needs Greg. You need Greg. We could use Greg and he'd adore Miami. All the diving, the surfing, the bikinis."
"Before you ask, he doesn't know we're having this talk. He thought it was solved when he and I talked this weekend about the inquest. He even woke up the hacker kid from
Scotland who was in to be reamed a new one for hacking Teacher with his nightmares. That's why we talked, the kid narked on him." He smiled gently. "Be safe, Grissom." He walked out, finding Greg bragging. He smiled. "Go easier on the ego, Greg, or else they'll have you do something really gross to deflate your head."
"I already get those since I'm the newbie on shift," he complained. Mac smiled and patted him on the back. "See you during the next convention or when I fly to get the papers."
"Okay. I look forward to it. Hi, guys. I've got to go back to New York and see what Stella did to my office this time." He walked off happier. Greg would be safe. Greg would be happier or he'd have to make room in his budget. Then again, that would stop the fighting Lindsey and Danny were doing....
Greg grinned at Nick and Warrick. "It was a good conference."
"It sounds like it," Nick agreed. "Where's the new diploma from?"
"Cambridge." He walked off beaming, going to tell Catherine the good news, and Hodges since he was in his lab when he found Catherine. "I am now a Doctor Sanders."
She smiled and hugged him. "In what field?"
"Chem. From Cambridge. Through Teacher." She smiled and patted his cheek before taking her results and going. He grinned at Hodges. "Just don't play in the labs with them and you'll be fine."
"I figured you'd had to do this a long time."
"Well, yeah, but ...." He shut the door. "Not too many know it's two Docs and three Masters." Hodges whimpered. "I got bored!" He shrugged. "One's from my undergrad at the physical university days. It was on the druggie properties of certain literature. My roomie always gave me a contact high."
Hodges shook his head. "That explains a lot about you now. Going over?"
"I am. Would you like a postcard and pictures from Cambridge?"
Hodges smirked. "I could blackmail you to bring me."
"I could do that if you had the time in and paid your own ticket."
"Then we'll see."
Greg grinned. "You should see Ryan Wolfe's." He walked out, going to get a soda and sign in for the night. Sara gave him an odd look. "What?"
"Need the caffeine boost, Greg?"
"Yuppers, sure do."
"Ah, there's our favorite dumpster monkey, Doctor Sanders," Nick taunted as he walked in. "Got a call already just for you."
"Yummy. Let me finish this and grab my kit."
"Doctor?" Sara asked.
Greg beamed and nodded. "Yeah, I filed my paperwork for my Ph. D. in Chemistry this weekend." He finished his soda and walked out behind Nick, going to the locker room to get his stuff for the night.
"He's really got one?" she asked Nick.
"Apparently Greggo's got some major brains," he agreed happily. "It's a credit to the lab." He walked off, going to drag Greg to his buffet dumpster case.
She frowned. "Maybe I should go back to school. Or look at his dissertation." She pouted all night long about that.
Ryan walked into Horatio's office Tuesday morning. "Yes, boss?"
"Ryan, I'm sure you know Rick Stetler and our chief. Close the door. Or get Speed up here?"
"Speed!" he yelled. "Horatio wants you up here on this conference." Speed strolled in so he closed the door. "My phone's dead," he explained at the amused looks. "I need a new battery. It's in my locker and I haven't gotten there yet."
"You have knowledge and access to the DragonTech labs?" Rick asked.
"Yes, I have for years. That's how I did all my forensic classes. I've been working with them since my last year of high school. I got onto their distance education system during my first week of college."
"Interesting. Have you taken classes that can aid the lab in other ways, Mr. Wolfe?" the Chief asked.
"Horatio's seen my transcripts and if he thinks there's something I can help with he'll ask. I did take some engineering classes for the weapons design stuff I've helped with on and off through the years. I also took some in the fields of virology and viral biochemistry, usually when I got really sick so I could find out who started the strain I had so I could hurt them for making me feel so miserable." He opened the briefcase in his hand, handing over the transcript. "That's the full transcript of stuff I've taken through them. It's for Horatio's private records." Horatio nodded at that. "For the obvious reason of their distance education system is still pretty highly classified, I can't update my records with that or my new degrees. Amanda Disher, the head of DragonTech, encouraged me to file for the paperwork. It looks better on them and they're expanding to more classroom simulations now. It started out being for college level and genius level students."
"I see," the Chief said, blatantly taking the transcripts from his IAB officer's hands. He looked at him. "This is impressive. Are you continuing on?"
"She did suggest I turn some of my notes into a few more degrees since I've done the work already. All I need to do is write the papers and Speedle has agreed to help me polish them since I write crappy papers."
Stetler looked at him. "What else have they had you do?"
"I'm best friends, shopping, and ice cream eating buddies with two of their top weapons design team. Speedle's the same with one of their engineering people. We're both wearing GPS monitors and I recently had my life-sensor put back in. Horatio had the keys to get into those as well. Speed?"
"I've got a GPS tracker too. Just in case. I saw a few things we shouldn't have during the foam tag game we played during the conference."
"Foam tag?" Stetler sneered.
"It's a clothing-eating foam. It's stress relief around the labs," Ryan told him dryly, shrugging a bit. "It's a lot of fun and Speed nearly got Horatio with it. Got his shoes instead."
"I know I'm not immune from spanking if I got his suit," Speed agreed sarcastically.
Horatio looked at him. "I wouldn't *spank* you, Speed. But you would pay." Speed smirked at him for that. "For a very long time."
"I know. That's why I got your shoes. Thankfully they're leather." He looked at their boss again. "This is really just a head's up. You can brag he's now Doctor Wolfe but you can't say how he got the doctorate."
"I can agree to that. How often does this come up?"
"Now and then there's a group that likes to try to get me to work for them or turn on the lab. They tried bribing me, they tried to blackmail someone and make me suffer with it. That's why I didn't get married in college. It's usually handled very quietly. Or else you would've heard about this years ago."
"So we have it well in hand?" Stetler asked. Ryan nodded. "You're being careful?"
"Of course I am. I don't want to be restricted to lab-only duties when they come for me again."
"Fine. Caine?" the Chief asked.
"I was made aware of this situation this weekend. Ryan's handled it in the past and will continue to, but now he'll know to notify me immediately." That got a nod. "I also have the intelligence files they've gathered over the years on the groups that come after Ryan and his counterpart in Las Vegas." He leaned back. "It is well in hand but it is something to that needs to be noted in some private, locked files. In case he's kidnaped or attacked on duty and I can't get there immediately."
"Good point," Stetler agreed. "I'm going to lock your personnel file, Wolfe."
"That's fine. I'm moving so I'll hand you my new address or HR?"
"Me, I'll update it," he noted. That got a nod. "Why are you moving?"
"Because I don't want someone else to shoot at my house and my landlord didn't like that she did."
"Have we found her yet?" the Chief asked.
Horatio looked at Speed, who shook his head. "We think she's down in the Keys hiding with someone," Speed admitted. "We've got a state-wide net for her, boss."
"That's fine and reasonable. Mr. Wolfe, your current safety precautions?"
"I'm fine. I'm a well-trained officer. Even if I don't like to shoot at things, I'm still fairly well-trained. I've handled it in the past and now I'll go to Horatio if they pop up with their annoying habits again. Though I will note that since I filed the paperwork I'll have to go pick up degrees this spring probably. I should hit at least one of my Masters and my Ph. D. ceremony so I can say I went."
"That's reasonable," the Chief agreed, smiling some. "It does look good on the lab when our people get higher degrees."
"Thank you, sir." He shook his hand then Stetler's. "Now, I've got to find my spare battery so if you'll excuse me?"
"What is your dissertation in?" Speed asked. "You never told me."
Ryan coughed. "Um, I used the fun foam to do a chemical and environmental analysis." He escaped the office.
Speed shook his head. "Should've known he had something to do with that stuff's creation. Need me for more?" Horatio shook his head so he escaped.
Horatio looked at them. "It was proper for me to tell you that there could be an issue but I do have it well in hand. I'll even keep the teasing down when Eric and Calleigh find out he's now got a Ph. D."
"That's fine, Horatio. I trust you to know your people and keep them in check and safe," the Chief said happily. "Thank you for warning me." He left.
Stetler looked at him. "On a scale of one to ten, how much danger is he in?"
"Probably about a two and that's only because it's from the government's corporate branch."
"Okay. I'll lock his file personally today due to threats made against him." He went to do that. He knew he couldn't take the transcripts, Horatio would hunt him down and it would only make the kid a bigger target.
Ryan walked into the lab and put his phone onto the charger. "Dead battery. Had to switch to my spare."
"It happens to the best of us," Eric agreed. "How was the conference?"
"Good. Amanda and the ladies had me get my paperwork in order for my class stuff. That way I can go pick up degrees this summer."
"Degrees?" he asked.
"Yeah, I just earned my Masters in Forensics, Eric."
"Oh." He nodded. "Congratulations."
"Thanks." He grinned. Calleigh leaned in. "I heard I got my Masters in Forensics."
"Congrats, Ryan." She hugged him. "What's this I hear about a few others and a Ph. D.?"
He grinned. "I've been on Teacher so long I remember when she was in black and white," he teased back. "They're making me get them."
"Wow. So, three or four?"
"Five Masters, I found out this morning my thesis was accepted for my Forensics degree. I had four waiting on paperwork before that news. Plus my Ph. D. in chemistry."
"Are you going to walk?" Eric asked.
Ryan grinned and nodded. "One of each. That way I can say I went. The others they can mail. Greg and I will both be doing ours at Cambridge and then my Ph. D. is from Yale so I'll be there. The one he's walking for is from Cal Sci so he'll be doing that there. We're going to try to attend each other's if we can. Though I am working on a few others. I got nudged into turning research notes into more paper on the walls."
Eric blinked at him. "How long have you been on Teacher?"
"Since I was eighteen."
"Wow." Ryan grinned and nodded. "How many more are you looking at?"
"Two more. Greg's got one ahead of me in the doctorate race."
"I'm impressed," Calleigh teased. "We should tell Alexx. She'll cry that her baby is a doctor." She went to do that. "Alexx?" She got a smile. "Ryan's going to be getting his important papers this spring."
"Excuse me! My baby's graduating?"
"Yup, he'll be walking a Masters and a Doctorate in two different fields." Alexx dropped her scalpel. "They're making him turn some notes into another diss too."
"My boy!" she said happily. "Oh, I'm so proud! I'll have to have lunch with him later. You tell Eric and Speed to quit picking on him too."
"I will." She headed off. "Ryan, you're having lunch with Alexx," she called.
"If I'm here," he agreed, sounding happy and content.
Don looked at his brother Tuesday afternoon, smiling at him. "So, are you going for another degree?"
"There's not really a higher one in Math," he admitted. "I might do some of the science stuff that Larry's prodding me toward but not for a degree. Just for fun. Why?"
"We talked to Ryan and Greg about theirs. Amanda made them both get diplomas."
Charlie smiled. "They're incredibly bright. They should. It can only help their careers." He waved a hand at the clear board. "I'm totally without work except for midterms or my personal research at home."
Don laughed. "Don't look at me. We haven't had anything today either. Want dinner?"
"Dinner's good," he agreed, gathering things up. "Home or not?"
"Doesn't matter. There's a basketball game on tonight."
"Okay. I'll cook." He headed out with him, letting Don put his bike into the back of the car.