Charlie looked at the computations he was doing, feeling a sense of deja vu. "I know what they're doing," he said finally. His guard, Agent Ian Edgerton, looked over from his reading. "They asked me to look over a formula someone kept screwing up. I just figured out what it was for."
"What's it for?" he asked. Charlie looked at him. "Come on, you know you want to share what your math voodoo showed this time."
Charlie grinned. "Someone's working on how to make men pregnant. It was a simple case of not carrying a negative that was screwing up the formula but I had to work it out completely to be able to figure out what they were going for."
Edgerton shuddered. "I don't want to know. Those women are scary creatures. Make sure they don't try it on us. Your brother would scream if they got you pregnant."
"Dad might like it," he teased, grinning and walking over to send an email to Don. He went back to his own research after taking a picture for the sister he was working with on that formula, making a note on the index section to see if Don wanted to help test it for them.
Don looked at his email when it beeped. It had been a totally shitty week. He had so many cases he couldn't see his desk. He'd had court that morning and yesterday and probably again tomorrow since the lawyers were fighting over a motion. His father was being grumpy because Charlie wasn't there for him to nag. He opened the email, staring at it in horror. He checked the header, it was blank. It had to have come from Charlie and Ian. He considered calling but decided his brother probably needed a nap if that email as any indication. He looked around. "Hey, Megan, the ladies are trying to warp nature again."
"What this time? Getting their shorts shorter?" He printed the email and handed it to her, making her gasp and whimper. "No. No, this is wrong! This is very wrong! They can't do this!" She got up and stomped off to call them from outside. "You can't let whichever demented one is warping Charlie this time do that to us, Miss Disher. Yes, this is. No, they had Charlie working on how to make men carry the babies. Because humanity would die out if whiny men had to carry them!" she said frantically. She heard the comment Charlie had included and had to shudder. "Eww, no. No, that's wrong. That's so very wrong! Can't you make them stop? Please? I'll even lend you Larry to help make them stop if you'll make them stop." She smiled. "Thank you!" She hung up and called Larry. "Log onto Teacher to help Charlie stop a very bad idea unless you want to be able to bear children." He spluttered and she hung up, going to get some coffee to take that image out of her head.
Upstairs, Don was happier now. He was kicked back and smiling, ignoring the files for a five-minute rest break. His boss gave him an odd look so he handed over a copy of the email, making him shudder. "They asked Charlie to check their math."
"There are some very strange scientists in the world, Epps. Be careful, they might suck him in."
"He's probably suggested himself so Dad will get off his back about having a family." He grinned.
"Uh-huh. Just keep it away from me." He handed it back and walked off, going to shudder in private. He did not want to know what sort of strange and demented things came out of science labs at colleges. It was probably too much drugs while they worked.
Ryan looked at his phone when it beeped then he looked across the meeting at Horatio. "Charlie's turning strange. One of the ladies gave him her unworking formula so he could check her math. They're trying to make us have the kids."
Speed looked at him then shuddered. "I can see you being their guinea pig there too but tell them I'd make a crap daddy. Get Eric instead. Or H." Ryan obediently texted that back.
"Can you also text back that the scanner is still not working?" Horatio asked. "I know they're busy with the upcoming convention." Ryan nodded and did that as well. "Thank you. What about your current case?"
"Stalled," Ryan admitted. "Totally stalled." He passed down his notes. "I've got no clue, the trace was so minimal a few things wouldn't register on any equipment. I'm almost starting to think in terms of magical assassination."
"Magic doesn't exist," Eric snorted.
Ryan looked at him. "Prove it." Eric gaped. "Prove it doesn't exist." He looked at the very tolerant boss. "Not saying I can do it but how do you know it doesn't. Just being scientific."
"You are," Horatio agreed, giving him a look. He went over the notes. "Chalk and granite dust?" Ryan nodded. "That's all you have?"
"That and an ID. The victim's family all work in the quarry on the edge of the county and he worked in a bar that had a pool hall. Nothing there is going to suggest anything but passive transfer, especially at those small sample sizes. The pool chalk was under his fingernails and the granite dust was in his hair." He shrugged. "I'm stuck. His family said he's the sweetest guy ever, volunteers everywhere, all that stuff, but has no enemies, bad exes, or anything. Therefore I'm going to start with magical assassination."
"We've all had cases like that," Calleigh assured him, smiling. "You'll find something."
"I hope so. The family's not acting strangely. No present girlfriend. All his exes started to bawl when I told them, they all said if they could get him back they'd dump their present guy and swear themselves to God if he'd come back to them."
"I'll look over your shoulder later, Ryan, see if you missed anything," Horatio offered, getting a nod and a smile. "Any other concerns?"
"Yeah, one," Speed offered. "The new lab for the Teacher program here. It's outsourced, right?" Horatio and Ryan both nodded. "We can use it?" Ryan nodded again. "But it'll only pull up one or two classes at a time?"
"Tiff said three when she was outlining it," Ryan offered. "Why?"
"Because someone could hack into it that way," Speed pointed out.
"That's why they're putting a server in the way with an AI doling out the information," Ryan assured him. "That way no one can hack back into the major servers."
"That's good at least, but someone will try and we do have that one enemy."
"Who, and don't quote me on this, was doing some housekeeping or is moving out of the city by the amount of crap they had in boxes the day before yesterday," Ryan countered. Speed looked stunned and Ryan nodded, smirking a bit. "I swing by there on my way to work most days, it's usually the shorter path in so I take the chance and go by there to make sure there's no military build-up in front of the building or anything. They were hauling boxes of stuff out by the truckload."
"That's very interesting, did you tell them that?" Horatio asked. Ryan nodded. "What did they say?"
"Probably files going to storage. They do it about once a decade. She said they're too entrenched in the city to ever really leave. If they appear to be leaving they're either going to fix their building or blow it up. Stephni also said she got a look at their failsafe devices once somehow, she only grinned and wouldn't share how, but she said it'll blow most of the block at the very least, if not down to the waterway."
"It's five blocks from the nearest beach," Calleigh said, looking confused. Ryan nodded. "Isn't that illegal?"
"They're the government, they can probably sign their own forms," Horatio pointed out grimly. "I should warn someone about that. Does the lab have one?" Ryan nodded. "Is it that strong?"
"Building and only that building. Down to the water table but only that building."
"That is good to know," Horatio decided, making a note on that. "I'll let someone know so we can keep some more delicate surveillance on them. Do we think they're upgrading?"
"Not a clue," Ryan offered. "They've got a parking garage so any contractors probably would've parked in there. I haven't seen signs of contractors if that's what you're asking, Horatio."
"It was. We'll figure that out. Okay, anything else that needs to be addressed?"
"I'm going to march down the aisle to get papers in two months," Ryan reminded him. "Also, you wanted me to go to the tech fair this weekend?"
"I would since we haven't seen the ladies recently."
"Sure, I can do that. My leave got approved, right?"
"The Chief sent back a letter saying congratulations and yes, it was approved for you to go. The rest of us are still trying to see if we can go. If not, maybe we'll get better vacations."
"If their blast radius is that strong...." Calleigh started.
"We're six blocks on the other side of their building if you measure going straight instead of by streets," Eric finished. "We could be damaged by it if they hit the failsafe."
"That's why I'm going to warn someone," Horatio said, smiling at them. "Let me handle that stuff, guys." They all nodded. "Good. Hit the labs." They left, going back to their cases. He went to make a few calls then look over Ryan's shoulder. He was sure he had missed something...
Well, apparently not but they'd figure something out sooner rather than later hopefully.
Ryan spotted his prey, who was looking a bit uncomfortable in her real clothes. She was wearing a black skirt suit. He was mentally snickering because Stephni was even wearing *heels*. That was not her normal attire. He wondered if she had her usual tight t-shirt and cutoffs under it, but probably not. He could see a panty line and her shorts weren't usually *that* short. He snuck up behind her and pounced, grabbing her. "You haven't answered us and one of the scanners went pooft," he said in her ear.
She wiggled free and looked at him. "Tiff's disappeared into her thing," she said with a small shrug, straightening herself out. She saw the amused looks. "Someone testing some stuff for us," she said happily, hitting him where no one could see. "Ryan." She glared at him once that group had taken a brochure and walked on. "Trying to do business stuff here."
"Horatio said I was to pounce since you didn't answer." She groaned. "He even gave me permission to mess up your hair." She gave him a look then rolled her eyes. "Who was Charlie doing the math for?" he asked quietly. "I heard he figured out what it was for."
"He was fixing someone's equation and he found out it was to switch some innate reproductive roles," he said in Russian. He knew she spoke it, she had taught it to him one long weekend in the lab.
Her eyes went wide. "Matilda!" She shook her head. "She's wanted to do it for years. Hates going into heat and stuff." She held her forehead. "I'll have Mom make her stop. I've been in the storehouse getting ready for this thing for the last few weeks. Tiff's been doing her thing. No wonder no one answered. Just a scanner?"
"So far. The hummer quit working for a day after a really bad bounce but it restarted just fine after another jostle."
"I'll dig in there this upcoming week." She patted him on the cheek with a smile. "Why are you here?"
"Horatio said so."
Someone walked over. "Caine? As in head of the local crime lab?" she asked.
Ryan smiled and nodded. "Yes, ma'am."
"We're letting the MDPD labs test a few new programs for us," Stephni said with a smile. "Including something in the mobile crimelab class with their hummers. A few new pieces of scanning equipment. With this going on this week I haven't been attentive enough so he came to tell me what happened when it got a bit bounced around on a back road."
"That's very good of them. Are you planning on farming anything else out?"
Ryan smiled at her, getting a nod. "Their Teacher system is looking to expand to some other schools. They're in talks right now to provide a satellite link to their system for some of the officers to do continuing education."
"That is a wonderful use," she said happily. "Does it still do elementary levels?"
"It'll go from preschool helpers all the way to advanced college courses. Ryan's been on Teacher now for a few years. He's just recently earned his Ph. D's. from us," Stephni said happily.
"I did." He grinned. "It's been great and I did my lab specified classes as well on it."
"Interesting. When are you thinking about making that more available, dear?"
"Within the next two years. We're starting a higher phase out process at the moment. We're looking at it being readily available to everyone within five years, that way the artificial intelligence in it has a full time to finish growing up and gives us time to find more teachers to expand our base education areas."
"That's great. I work with a small research lab up in the Great Lakes area." She pulled out a card and handed it over. "We'd love to talk to you about that sort of idea. There's a number of schools around us that we liaison with."
"I'll pass that on to Amanda, she runs the company and does all the pimping of the programs to the labs and schools. I'm in weapons design mostly," she said with a sheepish grin. That got an understanding nod and a pat on the shoulder. "But I'll have her schedule to come out. Is there a better month coming up? I know some labs work on a deadline around this time of year for various projects."
"This month is going to be fairly hectic with graduation season coming up. All of our cheap labor from the grad assistants is going to be gone again. We're usually picking out new ones over the summer so we're a bit slower."
"I'll make note of that," she said, writing that on the back of the card. "I'll pass that onto her tonight, Doctor."
"Thank you, dear. Which one are you?"
"Stephni. Amanda's little sister."
"Ah. I've heard a bit about your recent urban assault robot model."
"A whimsical choice but I don't want to see any family grieving for a child lost unnecessarily in battle when a robot could've done it." That got a nod and she walked off. She put it into her briefcase and smiled at him. "Thank you."
"Welcome. I'm always happy to get others hooked into Teacher. More classes for me to take." He grinned. "I'm off to hunt and gather for the bosses over Horatio's head. They wanted to see what else was going on." She pointed in a direction. "Thank you. See you soon." He walked off, going to browse the table for freebies and brochures. He knew which tables to stay away from and one even tried to intercept him but he looked at them and smiled. "Looking for the crime lab I work with, guys. You're not offering in my field, sorry." He walked around the military person trying to talk to him and kept going.
Stephni opened the door, finding Ryan and his pizza there. "Blessed Goddess, thank you, pookie." She took the pizza and let him walk in while she put it on her table and found a slice. "I missed lunch."
"I figured you probably should've had a helper here." He checked the hallway before closing the door and walking over, giving her a real hug. "Want me to help tomorrow?"
"Your boss will shit green elephants. They probably won't go with his hair at all."
"Probably not. He knows I'm a prodigy of your program."
"True." She ate another bite and thought about it. "If Red doesn't mind."
"I already called and he said that was fine as long as my primary mission was accomplished." He gave her an extra squeeze before letting her go. "How's my project going?"
"Well enough. Still on hold. Studly and Salette are both staring at it in consternation. Salette isn't sure it won't bubble up and eat her some day soon."
"I'll go work on it this week. Did you get the head's up that the assholes were moving boxes?"
"Really?" She finished that slice and pulled out another one. "Did you want any of this?" He got his own piece and sat on the foot of her bed, looking at her. "It's not time for them to do a storage dump. Maybe they're renovating." She ate that slice pretty quickly. "If not, we're all in deep kimchee."
"Yeah, Eric pointed out the lab is only seven blocks from them if you don't follow the roads." She gave him a horrified look. "I told Horatio about what you said about their failsafe."
"I'm hoping for renovations," she decided, grabbing a third one. "How's Charlie?"
"Doing okay. He's still talking to everyone back at home. He's been video teaching his classes from a secure location. That's all he told them. Apparently Edgerton didn't like it but he had to agree that Charlie would go nuts without his math." She nodded, understanding that. He finished his slice and got a second. "The rest is yours."
"Thanks, baby." She blew a kiss. "Soda?"
"Machine's up the hall."
"Blessed be." She went to get them two each and came back to go over what had went wrong with the scanner and the hummer so she knew what she needed to do. That devolved into talking about their projects, him helping her with her shrinking some standard weapons designs for Tiff's bike project. Then to Ryan's most recent experiment. Then back to the usual subject - their sucky social and dating lives. Sometimes being a geek was a lonely field. Geeks never got enough love.
Horatio answered his home phone Sunday night, frowning at it. "Horatio." He listened. "Mr. Wolfe. What happened?" He listened to his rambling story. "Are you all right?" He winced at the 'in jail' giggle. "Are you drunk?" He groaned. "I'll be right there." He hung up and put back on his jacket and shoes, heading down to the station he was at. It was only in the next county, and it was a pleasant night for a drive. He walked in and the desk sergeant pointed. "Thank you."
"Welcome, sir. We know he didn't do it to himself."
"I'd hope not." He walked that way, finding Ryan handcuffed to a chair in the Captain's office. "What happened?" he asked calmly.
"Your boy is giddy and bouncy." The Captain gave him a look. "Before you ask, someone broke into his room. We got him from the ER when they found a substantial bit of drugs in his system. We also found his badge since he was unconscious when they found him."
"What room were you in?"
"Stephni and I were going over the next step in my project," Ryan said, blinking at him. "Horatio?"
"Yes, Ryan. You called me."
"Ooops." He giggled, then shrugged. "I have no clue what happened, man."
"I can tell." He looked at the man behind the desk. "Is he in trouble?"
"Has he had a history of drug abuse?"
"Not that I've been made aware of. I know who I can ask."
"Stephni was with me," Ryan pointed out. "I don't know where she is." He shook his head. Then he belched. "Eww. Sorry. I usually have better manners but the guy in the BDU's broke in and then I got the really nasty headache."
"That's a part I hadn't heard yet," the Captain said, sitting up straighter. "What happened, son?"
"We were going over my project, which is kinda neat," he offered with a goofy grin. "It's part chemical and part electronic to take over someone and make them do what you need them to do, like in an accident scene or for PT and stuff." That got a smile and a nod. "Or, well, for some unethical people to do other things, but I'm not Lupin so that's not a problem. Oooh, and boyfriends and stuff. She thinks she spotted a hottie who wanted her phone number. Anyway. Big crash, door slammed inward. Two guys in desert camo BDU's stomped in. Then I blacked out." He shook his head. "Sorry."
"That's all right, Ryan," Horatio said quietly. "Did you recognize them?" Ryan shook his head so hard he had to grab it to make it stop. "Did you see their name tags?" he pressed.
"One said Scott. They didn't fit very well either. The shirts were loose and the pants looked like mounted patrol pants. Balloon butt pants with the huge thighs."
Horatio didn't smile, but he knew what he meant. "All right. Did we see Stephni?" he asked the Captain. "She's got very dark hair, very pale skin?"
"She's still in the ER," he admitted. "They found her down in the basement."
"She doesn't like tight spaces," Ryan pouted. "That's why she doesn't sleep in a coffin." He looked back as a woman wearing pale gray robes and a pale gray veil walked in, standing up. "Sister."
Horatio and the Captain both looked and nodded. "Sister," Horatio said respectfully.
"They said Stephni's in the ER still and the guys in the BDU's didn't take her," Ryan reported. "They just gave us stuff."
"I know, Ryan," she soothed, coming over to look him in the eyes. "Were they the ones who came after Tiff or you in the past?" He shook his head quickly then grabbed it. She smiled and stroked his cheek. "Less action, dear. Did you recognize them?"
"I don't think so."
"That's fine. We'll ask again when you come down." She sat him back down and patted him on the shoulder, looking at the Captain, then at Horatio. "I will be kept informed."
"Are you family, Sister?" he asked.
"I'm one of the Sisterhood's guardians, Lieutenant. You either keep me informed or I'll tell you when I've found and made them beg God for forgiveness."
The captain blanched. "The Sisterhood?"
"Stephni and our dear Ryan here both work for DragonTech. Her mother is the head of La Mer and yes, we do come when they call," she assured him, sounding almost regal. "Now, what do we have?"
"Two men in desert camo BDU's," Ryan told her. "Kinda big on them. They were wearing balloon pants." She stroked his shoulders. "One had a nametag that said Scott. I don't remember the other one. I'm sorry."
"I'll make sure she remembers more, dear. It's not your fault."
"They could've taken her."
"Not without someone becoming the righteous hand of God to save her." She smiled at him. "Now, relax, Ryan. You've got to have a headache."
"Oh, I'm starting to. It's making my stomach ache too," he agreed, looking at her. She smiled and gave him another pat then stroked over his hair, making him moan and tip it toward her.
"I should probably take him somewhere quieter," Horatio said quietly. The Captain nodded and handed over the handcuff keys. "Do you need our help?"
"Which department do you work in?"
"That's Horatio Caine, one of the best CSI in the country," Ryan said proudly. He even beamed.
"I won't tell Eric you said that so he can't pick on you," Horatio said, giving him a look back. Ryan just grinned. He looked at the Captain again. "Do you need our help?"
"Um, no. Our boys and girls are okay. We'll let you bug the shit outta them for clues." He nodded while he called them. "It's Hendrix. Wolfe's one of Caine's boys. He's here to pick him up. Along with a Sister. Like nun, boy. Yeah. My office if you're done. If not...." Horatio put down a card. "I've got his card and he does want to be kept informed." He smiled at him. "They said he can come pack his room while they watch."
"That's more than reasonable. Thank you, Captain. Come along, Ryan." He got up and kissed the nun on the cheek before following him. He looked at him once he got him into the hummer. "How high are you?"
"More than enough to say stupid crap that I'll groan about later?" he offered, resting his head against the glass. "I stayed on her couch."
"I don't care if you two got ...comfortable all weekend, Ryan." He started the hummer and drove them to the hotel. "Good call."
"They found my badge on me in the ER and hustled me out of there."
"Do you need to go back?"
"No. If I need to puke, I'll tell you."
"We should probably make sure she doesn't need to be guarded tonight."
"I'm sure she's fine with the Sister there."
"She's a Guardian, boss. They guard the Sisters in the order. They're also the ones who go to rescue nuns who've been taken by those who shouldn't have them."
"I did some research when I found out they were associated with the Sisterhood's schools," he admitted, turning a corner and parking at the hotel. The valet moaned when he saw the official car and Ryan getting out. "Yes, he is ours. Are they still up there?" That got a nod so he followed Ryan to the room, even letting him knock. "He can pack his things?"
"Of course, Lieutenant Caine. Are they ...together?"
"Friends. I camped on her couch. We talked about a lot of our current projects," Ryan said, rubbing his forehead. "This stuff reacts faster than usual."
"She said the same thing when she woke up, son," one of them noted. "Which is your bag?"
"The black and green one." It was looked through then his toothbrush and shaving kit were gotten and handed over. "Thank you. Do you need anything else from us?"
"Nope," the other scene tech said, smiling at him. "Go have a headache, kid."
"He's my CSI. I would like to be kept informed," Horatio said, offering one of his cards. She smiled and tucked it into her shirt pocket. "Thank you."
"Were they the attendees who're military or not?" Ryan asked. They both looked at them. "Oh, damn." He stepped inside and shut the door, letting Horatio guard it. "Stephni works at DragonTech. I'm one of her lab assistants/torture victims/test bunnies." That description got a smile. "I know there's someone here from their rival. I avoided him a few times. I also saw some uniforms among the attendees. I don't know if they were with them because the uniforms weren't that well fitted." That got another nod. "They had on balloon pants."
"Like jodhpurs?" the female tech asked.
"Yeah, like those. Only without the reinforced seat and knees."
"Interesting. I'll find 'em and ask...."
"Oh, sorry, Ryan Wolfe. New to the CSI lab out there." She smiled. "Also, there's a member of the Sisterhood here to protect Stephni."
"Even better," the older guy said, nodding. "They can protect their own. Works for us. Saves us on manpower." Ryan smiled and nodded at that. "Anything else we should know?"
"Probably not." He looked around. "Her briefcase?"
"Already taken to her," the female assured him. "Go ahead and go. If we've got questions we'll come ask."
"Any idea what they gave us?"
"Yup and we'll forward a full report to your boss so you don't get hit with a drug test." Ryan nodded and left so he looked at his CSI. "This is going to get messy."
"Not really. If the uniforms didn't fit I doubt they were regular military."
"I hope not."
"We'll see." She got back to her carpet sample.
Tiff looked up from her spot at the reception desk sorting the mail as someone came up to the door a few days later. She buzzed them inside when she saw the ID being held to the reader. "Yes, Agent...."
"Gibbs, NCIS. I was told some of ours were involved in an assault?" he asked. "Is there someone I can talk to?"
"That would probably be me. Sis is back in Cali making sure our friend in the FBI doesn't get paranoid." She stood up and he stared at her outfit. She smirked. "Yes, I'm a researcher. I'm like this. Get over it." She strolled off. "Follow." He followed her into the elevator and up to the residential floor, letting her lead him to a small apartment. "Charlie, is Steph in here?" she called before knocking.
Ian opened the door and looked. "Gibbs."
"Edgerton. Why are you here?"
"Guarding Charlie Epps."
"Math voodoo genius. Has NSA clearance. Got the wrong attention from Paladin Resources." Gibbs shuddered. "Welcome to DragonTech, Miami edition." He let them inside. "She's playing with Charlie's hair while she's thinking up evil things to put on your new test bike." He pointed and they walked into the living area.
"Ma'am," Gibbs said respectfully. "Some of our military boys were involved?" He didn't let himself stare at her outfit. Didn't these girls wear clothes?
"I didn't get that good of a look," she admitted. "Ryan did. He'll be here in about two hours."
"Can we get him here sooner?"
"Sure, if you want to pull him out of court." Gibbs raised an eyebrow. "He's a CSI with the local felony lab."
"Oh. That's acceptable. Can I look over what was already found out?" She nodded, patting herself down until Charlie handed her the file from the table. "Head still hurt?"
"Yup." She smiled at him. "Ryan's worse." She went back to finger combing Charlie's hair. "You're very good as a muse, Charlie."
"I still have to teach in an hour and my students would want to help you if they see you doing that. Amita and Larry might mind, especially if they went after his hair too."
Tiff giggled and nodded. "Quite a lot." She looked at Ian. "Lunch?"
"Sure, I'll go get food for us. Burger, Charlie?"
"Whatever's fine as long as it's not the chili again. I shouldn't belch in front of my students."
"Sure." He left, going down to the basement to get them food, and Gibbs coffee. Even he had heard about the man's need for coffee and how much more reasonable he was with some in hand. One of the security guards frowned at him. "What's wrong?"
"Who did Tiff let in?"
"Special Agent Gibbs, NCIS. He's here about the stuff with Stephni."
"Oh. That's fine I guess. They up in your suite?" He nodded. "Even better. Thank you." He called that to the desk and went back to his rounds.
Ryan walked in and found someone waiting on him. "What? Did I lose my ID?" he asked, looking a bit worried. They had threatened to torture him with new test formulas if he did it again.
"Special agents waiting to talk to you," the guard behind the desk said, handing over his badge. "We never lose it for you, Wolfe."
"Thanks, man. Where?"
"Sure." He headed down there, nodding at Studly, frowning at him. He pointed. "Cute artwork."
"Thanks. One of the nieces caught me napping, fortunately with a sheet on." He looked down at the drawings in marker on his chest then showed him his back. "She got very artistic today."
"I can see that. Well, you do kinda look like Priapus in that one, don't you? I wondered why Tiff warned me about the giant penis drawing." Studly walked off snickering. He shook his head and walked over to the shared table, sitting down. "Hi. CSI Wolfe," he said, holding out a hand for Gibbs.
"Special Agent Gibbs, NCIS." He shook his hand. "He's always like that?" They all smiled and nodded. "Doesn't that worry anyone? Things hurting him or contamination?"
"That's why he shaves," Tiff said like it explained everything.
Gibbs just nodded. "Abby is never going to meet you guys."
"Too late," Stephni and Tiff said in a sing-song voice.
"She's in Teacher, right?" Charlie asked. "She took one of my advanced math classes. I remember her talking about you."
Ryan grinned at him. "Cute braids, Charlie." He pointed at Stephni. "Did she take a picture for Don too?"
"Only if I can make Ian spank her."
"She'll enjoy it too much," Ian said dryly.
She blinked her big, dark eyes at him, giving him a small pout. "But we love you, Ian."
"Keep it up and I'll have to hide Charlie from you guys too."
"Yeah," Ryan snorted. "Like they couldn't find him."
"Point." Ian ate a bite of his dinner. "Hungry, Wolfe?"
"Stomach's still upset. The crap they gave us was nasty." He looked at Gibbs again. "What can I help you with?" He slid over a diskette. "My report, preliminary and the one Horatio took when I came down."
"Thanks, kid." He tucked it into a pocket. "Describe the uniforms?"
"Jodhpurs. Fairly loose fitting shirts. I remember one nametag, Scott. They were desert camo BDU's." He shrugged. "I don't remember seeing hair or hats. I was pretty well staring at Scott's chest from what I remember. They woke me up when they broke in. I had been on the couch." That got a nod. "I'm still not sure it wasn't related to the bastards down the road."
"Nope, we know they're not related," Ian told him. "Unless it was more covert than usual. I helped them go through the convention's tapes. There's no signs that they knew each other."
"So it was either a quiet operation or a payoff situation," Gibbs noted. "Who were they working with?"
"Some sub-Pentagon weapons program out of Alexandria."
"Know their name?"
"I've got brochures from most everyone back at the lab," Ryan offered. That got a smirk. "Horatio's supervisor sent me to see what else we could pick up for the lab since the nightshift and non-felony labs are pouting about the test equipment these wonderful ladies gave us."
"You suck up very well," Gibbs said dryly, staring at him.
"I've known them since my second week of college, Gibbs. I've done more than that in the past." That got an amused look. "I did. I'm a test bunny."
"You have a very fluffy tail too," Charlie teased.
Ryan beamed. "You're still too smart for me, Charlie. We could never date. We'd clash at work."
Charlie blushed and ducked his head. "Not an issue, Ryan. Amita would get very upset with me."
"She's a beautiful woman, make her squeal later on."
"I can't do that until I get home."
"If we were sure Paladin wasn't sniffing for you we could go home," Ian reminded him. "Unfortunately they were asking your boss about you."
"Which does suck," Tiff agreed, nibbling on her dessert. "Are you sure you're not hungry, pookie?"
"No, and frankly I know how women feel when they've got morning sickness." He looked at Gibbs again. "So, what else can I help with?"
"Not hardly. Not with our caseload."
"Good point. Come on, we'll talk away from things that'll turn you green." Ryan nodded, going to get some soda for his stomach then following him out to the lounge area.
Tiff looked at Stephni, raising an eyebrow. "You think?"
She shrugged. "What's your gut telling you?"
"He's very pounceable."
Charlie got up. "Don't need to hear this discussion. Think Studly would let me take pictures to send to Don?"
"I think you'd embarrass him enough to make him take a vacation," Ian said dryly. Charlie grinned and went to ask Studly if he could take pictures of the artwork. Then he'd send them to his father to brag about all the neat stuff they were doing in the labs down here. His father would complain to Don, who would come down to visit so he wasn't lonely. Ian went to put his plate up, weathering the scowls. "I'm not a genius, I can clean up after myself," he reminded the worker back there. "Men can do table clearing." He walked off, going to help Gibbs.
Stephni looked at her poor sister. "Yeah, he's one."
"Damn, I want to fly so bad," she moaned, putting her head down.
"I know." She stroked her back. "Pin him out of the way later on. That way he's not embarrassed or too shocked." She let her suffer n peace before Tiff's heat set off her own and then they'd be in competition. Though she'd probably just wear Ryan out for a few months.
Tiff shifted so she could look out into the lounge, watching what was going on. Gibbs looked back at her and she grinned, going to find something evil to show off with. One always impressed potential flying mates. It made the flight better.
Gibbs walked into the lab. "Charlie told me to come this way." He looked Tiff over. "I'm much too old for you," he said quietly. She gave him a look and let him see what she was working on. "Is that a motorcycle?"
"Yup. It'll break the speed of sound once I finish installing the engine." She grinned. "I'm not sure you are, Gibbs."
"I'm sure I am, Tiff." He moved in. "I'm also not your family's class."
She looked at him. "Not like I'm looking for a mate or eggs." He gave her a look. "Have you seen what our mother flew a few times?"
"Unfortunately so, mostly in rumors." He moved closer, sniffing at her. "How have you been handling it?" The mating scent was very strong on this one. She'd give an excellent fly.
"I've worn out six dildos and one that plugged into the wall," she admitted grimly.
"I've got a stepson I'm working with. I can ask him. Just flying mates?"
"Yup, I'm not looking to mate in a permanent manner. I'm not even really looking forward to laying an egg or three."
"I can see that." He called up there. "It's me. What do you have?" He listened to the update. "Is that McGee?" He frowned at Abby's assertion he was helping her. "No funny stuff in the lab, Abs. Put me through to DiNozzo." She transferred him. "Update, DiNozzo." He listened then nodded. "That'll work. Do we have an ID from the tape?" He smirked. "Even better. No, I'm not ready to come back yet. Actually I'm talking you up to one of the Princesses down here," he said quietly. He smirked at the shocked gasp. "Exactly. Flying. Not mates, just nestmates."
She took the phone. "Hi. I'm Tiff. Does he always think he's too old to do anything?" She giggled at his response. "Sure. Find a reason, come down to Miami. Not like we'll mind. Or maybe I'll have to come up since I'm the overprotective bitch queen of the family here in Miami. Well, SuBeth is worse but she's a lawyer and a whole different version of mean and nasty. Yup, am. Mundane means. Not helping but I've been trying really hard." She grinned. "You should come down. The people down in our lab know, they're mostly family and our bonded. See you soon then." She handed the phone back. "He's coming down tonight to coordinate on another case. Paladin was sniffing around you guys too." She gave him a look. "Any idea why?"
"My boss likes them," he said grimly.
"I'm so sorry."
"Me too. Former chosen, still a pain." He patted her on the head. "You and DiNozzo will be decent nestmates." He walked off, going to work on his report. They had offered him a bunk in the guest quarters and he had a secure internet line up there.
Tony was let into the lab once they scanned his ID, nodding at the guards. "I'm Gibbs' senior agent. He around?"
"Caf, Agent DiNozzo. Take the elevator to the basement." He nodded, smiling as he headed that way. "Watch out for Studly," he called. "His niece was into her artwork again. Got him while he was sleeping."
"Thanks for the warning." He grinned at him. "I work with Abby."
"Studly's a different sort of weird. Watch out for the mumbling math geek too, Agent DiNozzo. He's stuck at the moment."
"Sure." He got onto the elevator when it came, heading down to the basement. He walked off and saw a guy covered in little kid's drawings from the waist up. "She's got a good hand," he said, smirking at him. He could see the glow that meant he was definitely *family* of a sort, but born from a human/dragon crossbreed.
"She does but she drew me bigger this time. Now she's just bragging." He grinned and went back to game of Mrs. Pacman.
DiNozzo walked into the caf, getting out of the way of the mumbling man walking around with his nose in a book. He grinned at his boss and the beautiful women he was surrounded by. "I thought the beach was full of pretty women," he teased as he walked over. "Hi, Tony DiNozzo, Gibbs' senior agent." He caught the mating scent and inhaled, looking at the women. Tiff shone at him and he grinned at her. "You're adorable. What do you do?"
"I'm working on a few projects, including a motorcycle that'll break the sound barrier." Tony smirked at that. "Some things are better fast."
"Some things are." He sat down next to her, soaking in her scent. She smelled so good to him, like a gourmet buffet after a two day fast due to a concussion screwing up his stomach. He looked at his boss, handing over the envelope he had carried in. "For you from Abby and the rest of us. We tracked the one that they couldn't identify but the other guy is in the wind. We've got out a BOLO for him. Yes, he does wear jodhpurs for some reason. No one's sure why but that's his off-duty uniform. They let him at the lab so he's all good. He's a mechanical engineer. His buddy is a chemical engineer. We're not sure what they were looking for. Ziva still hadn't broken him when I checked in from the airport."
"Yeah, Abby said they're stymied on their current project. I think she called it a crack bear project?"
"We have a few of those around here," Stephni said happily.
"Some of them are ours," Tiff agreed with a bright grin for them all. "Then again, I like our crack bear projects."
Charlie quit pacing and looked over at him. "Would I have done the math on one of those recently?"
"No, her arms get tired and she hated to be pregnant the first time so she avoids it like the plague."
"Don't say that word," Tony begged quietly.
Tiff looked at him. "You did?" He nodded. "How!" she demanded.
"Bad lab people."
"Oh, them." She nodded. "I read about that." She gave him a hug. "It'll be okay. You can hide down here."
"Thanks." He grinned. "Why does Paladin want Abby? She told their guy to get out of her lab before she ate him. Not us, her." Gibbs looked at him. "She did. Madam Director brought him down to introduce them."
"She's to stay away from those snakes," Gibbs said quietly. "I'll make sure she understands that and talk to our director." He got up to do that. "You finish getting any information we might need, DiNozzo."
"Sure, boss. Leave me with the smart, beautiful women." He grinned. "I'm used to smart or beautiful but not both," he teased. "I should probably be intimidated."
Ryan snickered. "They're the medium smart ones in the family. The really smart ones are people phobic and out in Cali."
"Good to know but I'm more comfortable with mild sorts of brilliance. That way I can keep up sometimes," he teased.
Tiff smirked back. "I'll gladly explain anything I'm doing to you as long as you're a good boy and don't leak."
"I haven't leaked in years," he teased back. "I've been potty trained for a very long time."
Ryan got up. "On that note, I'm going to go work on my mind and body control experiment. Excuse me before the nastiness from the drugs comes back to haunt me again." He walked off with a smile for Charlie, pulling him with him. "Come see what I'm doing. It'll take your mind off your problem."
"I'm working on something for Don."
"Still, a bit of a distraction now can only help with the stuck part."
"Hopefully. I don't know what I'm not seeing. I'm used to Larry saying something that sparks it off."
"Well, I can be wise and you never know what'll come out of my mouth." Charlie grinned at that. "Besides, this way we don't have to learn the mating rituals up close and personal."
"True, but I would like to see a flight."
Ryan grinned. "They're really hot." He let them into the lab he was working in, looking around. "Sal?" No answer. "Cool," he said with a wicked smirk. Charlie patted him on the back but let him show him what he was doing. Halfway through Charlie got that look on his face and rushed back to his blackboards to get back to work, and the white boards they had put up for him when he ran out of room earlier that week. Ryan patted himself on the back and got down to work on the control mechanism. He even had the perfect test subject in mind. Speed would even help him use Eric because they could make Eric run and jump and play and be an ass or a clown. It'd be amusing for everyone.
Horatio looked over as his phone rang, grabbing it from his position laying down on his couch at home. "Horatio." He listened. "No, Calleigh, it's not a UFO," he promised. "Ignore it for now." He hung up and went back to his journal, then decided to go outside to see if he could see them flying. It was something he had wondered about. He found his binoculars and the entry to his roof, going up there to look over the city. He could just barely spot one light purple and one darker green dragon flying out by the beaches on the edge of the ocean. He watched them head out across the water, smiling a bit. It was very...energetic. It's also was arousing. He let it soak into his soul, needing the happiness to cure the day's hecticness. The purple one shot up higher into the air and the green one flew lower, outpacing her. Then he suddenly shot up and grabbed her around the middle with his tail, flipping her over while he continued to fly them further out over the water. He hoped they could swim as well as fly.
Ryan put down his binoculars and looked at Charlie, who was panting a bit. "Go hide," he ordered. Charlie gave him a stunned look. "They'll see and you'll get pounced. Go hide." Charlie nodded, going back to his suite to deal with his thoughts in private. Thankfully Ian was still helping Gibbs. Ryan smiled and strolled back to the lab. "He flipped her over," he told Studly. "It was cute."
"It usually is." He gave him a cuddle. "Want to help me scrub off the artwork?" he teased.
"Studly, you'd have to cuddle since it'd be my first time and I'd expect to be treated like the shy virgin I was." He laughed and gave him a squeeze before letting go.
Stephni came around the corner and grabbed Ryan by the wrist, dragging him off. "I know you're not a virgin to us, Ryan. Therefore I can cuddle and be naughty." She slammed her lab's door, shoving him against it to make them both happy people.