Don Epps came off the plane, looking around the very bright airport.  "I thought LA was bad," he muttered as he headed for the baggage check area.  He got his bag quickly and headed to find a cab, finding a car waiting on him and a driver with a sign with his name.  He looked at him for a second.  "Who sent you?"

"Stephni said Charlie's moping, sir."

"Sure.  Let's go."  He handed him his bag and followed him to the car.  It was a nice car, very comfortable in the back.  "We're going to the lab?"

"We are, sir.  The ladies were most anxious to have you down with them."  He pulled out into traffic and headed for the lab, pointing out buildings and spots of interest on the way.  He pulled into the underground parking garage and turned to find Don cocking the hammer on his gun.  "Um...."

"I'm a Fed, I know a Federal building when I see one."


Don called the lab.  "Did you send me a driver and a car?"  He smiled.  "He said you guys did.  Work.  Thanks."  He hung up and put his gun back.  "Let's not do this again.  Give me my bag."  He handed it over.  "Thank you, tell your usual masters that I appreciated the ride this far."  He got out and walked down to the guard station, showing his credentials.  "Someone brought me here instead of where I was supposed to go.  I'm waiting on my ride."

"That's fine, Agent Epps.  Which branch do you serve with?"


"That's an exciting office.  I hear they've got a new program with math geniuses and things."

Don smiled.  "That's my brother."

"Oh!  No wonder.  Are you down recruiting?"

"No, I'm on vacation."

"Even better."  He nodded at a hummer.  "I'd move.  He doesn't look happy today."

"I know him."  He waved at Horatio, who paused and rolled down the window.  "I had a driver waiting on me.  They brought me here."

"Interesting.  I'm here to chew on an agent for interrupting a bust that cost seven lives.  If they're not here on the way out, I'll pick you up and take you to the lab."  He went in to park, and headed up to chew someone a new one.   When he came down, Don was gone so he supposed it was fine.  Though he did think to call them.  "Did someone get Don Epps?" he asked quietly as he pulled onto the street.  "Had to come file a complaint and growl at the agent at the bust," he said grimly.  "Thank you, Tiff."  He hung up and looked around, circling the block.  No sign of Don.  He headed over to where he knew Paladin's people were stationed.  No Don there either.  He drove out to the lab, parking and heading inside with his pass.  "Did Don Epps get here?"

The guard checked then shook his head slowly.  "No, Lieutenant.  I notice he was due in."

"His car and driver diverted him to the federal building.  He said he called for a pickup?"

"Hum."   He tapped his fingers on the keyboard a few times then he tapped into a list of calls.  "He didn't call us.  Who did he call?"

"I don't know.  I called Tiff."

"Interesting.  She's here.  Stephni's missing with Belinda, one of the younger sisters.  She's still in her education.  I thought they were going shopping."  He paged her, not getting an answer for ten minutes.  "Ma'am, Lieutenant Caine was looking for you," he said, staring at the phone's readout.  He handed it over.  "There you go, sir."

"Stephni, Horatio.  Did you pick up Don Epps?"  He hummed.  "Yes, I was there about the bust.  Actually, I was thinking that I'd like to take them to dinner," he admitted.  He smirked and wrote something down, getting a nod from the guard as he started the trace.  "Do you need Ryan's help?  Or even mine?  I do know a bit about dressing in a lab," he said dryly, smirking a bit happier now.  "Of course.  Where would you be?"  He smiled.  "Even better.  I can be there.  I'll have the hummer, Stephni.  It can fit you two and Don.  Oh, not her?  That's fine.  We can even do takeout.  That new place with the red roof?  Ryan recommended it."  He nodded at the coded agreement she was in trouble.  Ryan had taught it to him.  "Excellent.  I'll meet you there in say an hour?  Thank you, Stephni."  He hung up.  "Was it long enough?"

"More than, Lieutenant."  He dialed a number on his desk phone, getting a beep.  "I hate when they do that."  He dialed another number, hearing a smaller beep that time.  "It's Jorge on the front desk.  Stephni's phone is registering Paladin's address.  She gave Lieutenant Caine the coded message that she's in trouble."

"She said her younger sister was at the college," Horatio told him.

"It transcribes it in real time, I saw," he admitted.  He listened to the instructions.  "Yes, ma'am.  There, ma'am.  Of course.  I'll call him personally."  He hung up and called another number, then paged him when he didn't get an answer.  "Agent Edgerton to the front desk please?  Also, security alpha team."  He hung up and smiled. "Thank you for your help, Lieutenant.  Why don't you go watch Mr. Wolfe?"

"Because he's in the lab at the moment," he admitted.  "It'd be very difficult to get to him."

"Not really.  Stephni was up at the college's biohazard lab with her sister the last time we knew her location, sir."


"Remember, a lot of those people are military.  They invented the maneuvers."

"True, but some of us have trained since they invented them.  Should I alert SWAT?"

"I'd hope they won't be setting off the failsafe."

"Us as well."

The man smiled at the agent stomping his way.  "They've stolen Agent Epps and Stephni, Agent Edgerton.  Alpha security squad will let you go with them if you want."

"Please.  Horatio, can you watch Charlie for me?  Don will be livid if I let him fall into enemy hands."

"I can and I can get Ryan here."

"I want Wolfe to finish his experiments.  He's working on a body controller."  He walked off, following the guards stomping his way.  "Going after Stephni and Don?" he asked the on he was following.

The man stared at him for a minute.  "Belinda?"

"Stephni said she was at the college," Horatio called.

"That's not our code," he sighed, smiling happily.  "Momma won't have to come over here today."

"That's always a good thing from what I heard about your mother," Ian agreed.  They went into the garage, climbing into one of the assault vans.  He checked his weapons, still loaded.  "Do we need a sniper?  I'm good at that job."

"I hope not," the lead of the guards said, looking at him.  "If we do, we've got a failsafe device to worry about.  It'll take about seven blocks in all directions out."  Ian gaped.  "They got the forms since they're government."

"Damn," he said finally.

"Caine will be unhappy.  They're only about six blocks from their building," one of the other guards noted.

"Wolfe will throw fits.  He'll go back to doing his little ritual things while he stresses out," the lead guard agreed.  He looked at Ian.  "Wolfe has moderate OCD.  It's mostly under control."

"I guess in that job it's a good thing."

"Yeah, could be," the lead guard agreed.  "He's good in the lab.  They got him past the rituals for the lab chemicals.  Now he's down to gun cleaning ones, food ones, and bathing ones I think.  Now and then he'll break into cleaning the labs or the bathrooms when he's stressed.  Caine lets him come do that to us instead of his lab."  Ian smiled at that.  "Wolfe's a neat guy."

"He is.  Charlie likes him too."  They pulled up near the building.  "Are we going in as an assault?"

The head of the team smirked.  "This is an old game to us, Agent Edgerton.  Just follow along."  He opened the back door and they trooped out, heading toward the building's back entrance.


Ryan looked around his cell.  "Some day soon I'm going to have to up my evil genius wardrobe," he told himself.   "I think it's about time."

"You'd have to get a cat," Stephni called from her cell.  "She'd drive you nuts."

"Not all evil geniuses have cats.  I know one had an evil bunny.  I could stand an evil bunny."  She cackled at that.  "Or maybe an evil ferret?"

"SHUT UP!" a male voice yelled from up the hall.

"Bite me," Ryan yelled back.  "I'm not a cooperative hostage at this point in time."

The guard stomped in.  "You'll shut up or I'm going to kill your girlfriend."

Ryan blinked.  "What girlfriend?  I haven't dated in over a year."  The guard pointed at Stephni.  "That's a friend and coworker, not a girlfriend."

"I wonder why," he sneered.  "Fine, then I'll shoot your coworker."

"Go ahead, piss off her family.  I dare you to piss off her family.  I so dare you to hurt her," he said with a snicker.

"Ryan!" Stephni complained.

"Oh, please!  He hurts you, your family storms this building and destroys the company."

"True.  They will.  Momma will be *very* pissed.  She'll destroy all of Miami.  Horatio will be upset but she'll fund a new lab."  She leaned back on her cot.  "I kinda almost want to see Momma storm the city.  She and Horatio would be a really good match."

"Isn't she dating?" Ryan asked.

"Yeah and some of us like Uncle Mal.  He's not *too* bad.  He even gets the brains of the family now and then.  Doesn't know why they're like that but now and then he tries."

Ryan grinned over at her.  "It could be worse."

"It could be.  She's dated a lot worse."  The guard huffed.  "What?" she asked.  The guard huffed off.  "Bye!" she called, waving after him.

"Want pizza or chinese tonight?"

"I'm good for pizza.  Onions?"

"I'll deal with the onion breath.  We should probably get ready.  They're going to be here soon."

"Think Red'll be here?  He looks hot in the SWAT outfit."

"Um, doubt it," he admitted.

"Pity.  I could use a dose of hottiness."

"You and me both.  Do you realize I haven't dated since Erica and I went on that double date with the twins?"

"I'm sorry."

"Me too.  I need to fix that.  Maybe I'll let Eric help me out with that.  Somehow one of his exes ended up on my doorstep."  She giggled.  "I know, I need to really date, not have sex, but I'm trying really hard."

"I know.  We'll do what we can, Ryan.  You know that."

"I do but it still sucks."

"It does," she agreed.  She sighed.  "Aren't they here yet?"

"Too bad you can't do what SuBeth can and undo the bars or something."

"Magic is not an art I'm great in," she admitted.  "Never interested me.  Now, Charlie seems to be fascinated.  He was asking us how we did that and about flight math.  All sorts of stuff was coming out in his stream of math babble."

"Charlie's the sort of geek I always wanted to be," Ryan admitted.

"You know, with that hero worship he might like you," she teased.

"Haven't gone there yet.  I'd like it to be someone who knew something about gay sex," he said.  "Who also cuddled."

"Cuddling is nice and you do it very well, pookie."

"Thanks.  Now can you tell my next date that if she's decent?"

"Sure, as long as she's decent."  The wall across from Ryan's cell blew in.  "Shoot, no Red in the hottie SWAT uniform."  The guards gave her a look.  "Have you seen him in all black?"  She purred.  "Very nice."

"He's single too," Ryan quipped.

"I'll tell him you said that," Ian said, undoing his door.  "Come on, Wolfe."

"Thanks."  He followed him out.  "So, we were talking about upping my evil genius wardrobe and getting an evil genius pet.  I was thinking about being atypical and getting an evil bunny like that one guy or maybe an evil ferret.  Got any opinions, guys?"

"You need drugs," one said.  "That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it, Wolfe."

"Aww, pookie, you've got a good test subject for your newest design," Stephni said happily.  She patted him on the back.  Someone shot at her so she grabbed a gun and shot back, hitting them.  "Do not mess up my hair!" she yelled.  "I will kill you for that or hurting my clothes!"  She handed back the gun and got into the van.  "I feel better now."

"We'll stop and get you some ice cream, ma'am," the lead guard said, letting Ryan get in last.  He closed the door once he had a head count. "Let's pull through somewhere to get milkshakes, guys."  The driver nodded, heading for the nearest good shake place.

"Ryan, thinking about it, evil bunny, definitely.  Evil ferrets can get into everything and are kinda redundant.  All ferrets are a little bit evil.  Not all bunnies are."

"Point.  That'll work for me," he agreed.  "Long or short haired?"

"We'll do an online search for bunnies when we get back.  And sign you up on a dating site, dear.  Since your last one was that stupid doctor twins you can only go up from there.  I mean, double dating with your cousin is really desperate, even for lab geeks."


Ian looked at him.  "The reporter?"  Ryan nodded.  "She's right, you can't get much worse."  He shook his head.  The rest he didn't want to think about but he would be letting Horatio know, just in case.  "Guys, where was Don Epps?"

"He's with Agent Emillio," Stephni said.  "They're out talking.  He came to get him and take him off to talk in private."

"We can handle that once we drop you kids off," the leader promised.

"We can hike the last block," Ryan offered.  They all gave him looks.  "I am a cop.  They knocked me out while I was looking at biological samples."

"Fine," the leader said, handing him a gun.  "Right inside, kids."  They both sighed but nodded and got out, heading to the lab with their milkshakes while the team watched.  They made it inside so they turned on the locator they had put on Don Epps to find him.  He was inside the federal building so Edgerton walked in alone.  He came out twenty minutes later with Don and his bag, letting them get back inside.  "You okay?  Need medical?"

"They were wondering why I was down here.  I told them I'm on vacation.  Repeatedly."

"You sure?"

"I'm fine.  No drugs, no torture, nothing like that."

"Good.  We'll go help Stephni and Ryan turn back into normal people before they give others bad ideas."

One of the guys shook his head quickly. "Please don't remind me."

"Sorry," the leader said.  He grinned at Don.  "Sorry about that."

"Not a problem," he agreed. "Is Charlie okay?"

"He's back at the lab wandering around mumbling."  They pulled into the lab's parking area.  "Right inside, boys."  They walked inside, the team following them. "Lieutenant?"  Horatio looked over at him.  "We should have a word," he said quietly, leading him off to the side to tell him about the conversation in the van.

Horatio nodded.  "I'll help him," he promised.  "Thank you."  He walked off, going to find Ryan.  He found him soldering something.  "Mr. Wolfe?"  Ryan jumped, turning to look at him. "Your other job?"

"I'm off today."

"You were in the lab."

"I was finishing up a report so I could have a guilt-free day off.  I am off today, right?"

"You were, but you still came in."

"I won't do that next time."

"Good idea."  He moved closer.  "Why is this sudden urge to be an evil genius coming out?"

He grinned. "Now and then it happens.  Has since I hooked up with the ladies upstairs."

"I see.  Should we maybe take a break from our work here?"

"No, I'll go home and destroy the house with my next project.  I did that the last time.  That was right before I created the clothing eating foam."

"Uh-huh."  He looked at him.  "Come on, come back to the lab."  He walked him off.

"Can't I just finish," he said, pointing at his work area.

"Not today, Mr. Wolfe.  You need to focus on other things today."

"Are you setting me up on a date?"

"If that's what it takes," he agreed, taking his wrist and walking him off.  "Come along, Mr. Wolfe.  Let's see what we can do about unwarping you for a bit longer."

"I'm fine, Horatio.  I was playing around.  It was keeping her spirits up.  Really!"

"We'll see, Mr. Wolfe.  We will see."  He walked him out to the hummer, making him get inside so he could get in and drive them back to the lab.  Once there he walked him inside, handing him to Speed.  "His last real date was a double date with Miss Sykes."

Speed looked at him.  "I'm sorry.  Did you catch something?"

"No time or energy to date," he admitted.  "He thinks I'm a bit warped now because I was keeping Stephni positive during the kidnaping by joking about my evil genius wardrobe and how I needed an evil genius pet, but nothing as common as an evil cat.  I was thinking an evil bunny or an evil ferret.  They're thinking a bunny would be better.  She thinks most ferrets are evil."

Speed looked at Horatio.  "We'll handle this, H.  Don't worry about it."  He nodded, leaving him in there.  Speed called Eric.  "Wolfe hasn't dated anyone since he went out with the reporter chick.  In Chem."  He hung up.  "We'll get you fixed up with someone nice, Wolfe."

"I'm fine."

"I'm sure you think you are," he agreed.  "Real date?  Or just sex."

"No, somehow I ended up with one of Eric's exes on my doorstep one night."

"Now and then he's generous and donates.  He's done that to me too."  Eric leaned in and grabbed Ryan by the sleeve, pulling him out.  "He needs real dates, Eric."

"I know a good matchmaker.  It'll be okay."

"I was joking around trying to keep Stephni's energy and spirit up while we were hostages," he complained.

"I'm sure you were," Eric agreed patiently.

"So, do you think I'd do okay with an evil bunny?"

Eric paused to look at him then shook his head and pulled him off faster.  In the elevator he called someone and spoke in Spanish, making Ryan giggle.  "My mother knows more eligible women than any other woman in the city.  She can find you a good one too.  She's tried very hard with me."  He pulled him out to his car and forced him inside, taking him to his mother's house.  He even drug him inside and planted him in front of his mother. "Momma, this is Ryan Wolfe.  I work with him.  He was just talking about needing an evil genius bunny.  He hasn't dated since....   How long has it been?"

"Over a year."

"I even sent one of my exes over to meet him, Momma.  He needs a good girl who'll keep him out of the lab, make him date her, and won't let him work on his project at the other lab he works in.  Please?"

"I know a few good girls," she said, pinching Ryan's cheek.  "We'll set you up with some nice ones for dinner tonight.  Eric, are you staying?"

"No, Momma.  I've got a few more hours of work to do tonight.   I'll be back after that in case he needs saving.  You can even tell them he's a Doctor.  He's got a doctorate in chemistry."  He walked out, leaving Ryan stranded there.  His mother would keep good track of him.  She'd help him.   He wouldn't need an evil bunny any longer.


Ryan walked in the next morning, looking at his coworkers.  "Your mother is a card, Delko.  She really *does* know nearly every single woman in Miami.  Most of who liked me but think I work too hard for them.  But your nieces helped me a lot last night.  I do have a date tonight with one very nice gynecologist and your nieces helped me do a bit of shopping."  He handed over a picture and walked off.

Eric looked at the picture of him with his new rabbit in his arms ala Blowfeld and moaned.  "Wolfe, don't warp my nieces.  They're already bad enough!" he called after him.

"These are the same girls who suggested you get a dog so you could pick up girls in the park?" Speed asked.   Eric handed over the picture, making Speed snicker.  "Oh, that's cute."  He walked it off, giving it to Horatio, who was with Stephni looking at the hummer's equipment.  "Here.  Delko's nieces helped him a lot."  He walked off again.

Horatio looked at the picture, then sighed, shaking his head.  Stephni took it and burst out laughing, using the hummer's fax to send that to the lab.  Horatio looked at her.  "Don't encourage that one."

"He is an evil genius."  She sent it to another number and handed it back.  "I wonder what he named her."

"Her?" he asked, not sure he wanted to know.

"Ryan always picks female pets.  He doesn't want to end up in a dominance fight with a male one."  She crawled into the back so she could get into the computer and scanners, her butt wiggling with the music playing from the headphones around her neck.  "Red, hand me the blue screwdriver please?"

He found it and handed it over, not paying attention to her backside.  "Is it easily fixable?"

"Just a loose screw.  It looks like the screw we used was stripped."  She backed out and climbed off the gate, digging into her bag, butt pointing at the building now.  She heard a laugh and looked under her arm.  "I only date smart men, boys.  Show your IQ and your abilities in bed to get some of it."  She found another screw and climbed back into the hummer, going to fix that one bracing bar.  She came back out.  "There, that's good.  That should hold."  She closed the gate and dropped the screwdriver back into the bag.  "That should solve that rattle you heard too."  She pinched him on the arm.  "Let's go look at the other stuff.  That way I can ask Pookie what his girl's name is since he's got a date tonight."

"He got a date and still needed a rabbit?"

"Scruffy bunny said that cutie's nieces helped him find her."  She walked inside, smiling at Frank.  "Hi, cutie."  She pinched him on the arm.  "Back again."

"No rest for the wicked?" he teased.

She smirked at him.  "Who said I'm the wicked one?"  He laughed.  "Did you get to see Ryan's evil bunny?"  She let him see the picture.  He burst out in louder laughs.  "While they had us hostage Ryan decided he needed to up his evil genius wardrobe and get an evil pet."

"So he got a bunny?"

"One of the biggest evil geniuses ever had evil bunnies.  He did think about getting an evil ferret but there's no way to tell an evil ferret from a good boy ferret."  Frank leaned against the wall laughing, shaking his head.  She stabbed the button for the elevator and got on when it appeared, smiling at the officers in there.  "Oooh, pretty hotties," she said happily.  "Any of you like geeky girls who like to create weapons and things?"  The doors closed.

Horatio looked at Frank.  "It's because he hasn't dated in a while, Frank.  Eric's nieces helped him pick her out."  He took the next elevator up, finding Ryan had gone out on a call and Calleigh was cooing over the bunny picture.  He was going to have to find a way to get Wolfe back to normal soon.  Very soon.  Before he lost more hair from him going strange.


Don found his brother mumbling in a lab, shaking his head as he sat down to watch him figure something out.  He heard the grunt of inquisitiveness.  "No wonder you never date," he teased.

Charlie spun around.  "Don!" he said happily, coming over to hug him.  "I thought you were coming in last night."

"I did, I couldn't find you.  Not even Ian could find you."

"I've been in here all day."

"It's Thursday, Chuck."

"It is?"  He looked at his watch.  "It is.  Oooh, did I miss my class?"

"No, you taped it ahead," he reminded him.  "Amita's still doing Q&A for you after the tapes."  His little brother grinned.  "So, what are you working on?"

"I found a competing theory to what I'm working on and trying to see if I can integrate it or not.  Ian couldn't find me?"

"No.  He didn't try too hard either.  He had a headache that made him go to bed early after the rescue.  He said as long as you were in the building it was fine."

"Usually, yeah.  Have you eaten yet?  I'm starved."

"Not in the last four hours.  I can nibble while you eat."  Charlie smiled and walked him off, taking him down to the cafeteria while he babbled about what he was doing.  He nodded politely at the lunch ladies, who overfilled Charlie's plate.

"I can't eat that much."

"You missed breakfast," one said firmly.  "Now, eat!  Do not make me paddle you, Charles."  He blushed but slunk off with his food and the extra large dessert too.  "Such a nice boy," she told Don with a smile.  "Your father must have to fuss terribly."

"Now and then we all do," Don agreed.  "He keeps getting lost."

The lunch lady in the back scoffed.  "Please, honey!  We've had people around here who have missed almost a whole week working on projects.  He's not that bad yet.  He could be a lot worse.  Or he could be like Studly."  She made shooing motions.  "Go talk to your brother."

Don walked his dessert over there, sitting across from his brother.  "Studly?"

"He's a nudist biochem researcher.  A few days last week his niece caught him napping.  She used her new markers to draw all over him," he explained between bites.


"Fully."  He looked around then nodded at him. "He's apparently stuck on something again.  Mrs. Pacman is his stress relief.  Studly, did you hear Ryan got a rabbit?"

Studly was frowning when he turned around.  "Why?  I can't imagine Wolfe with pets."

"He said he needed an evil genius pet."

He just nodded then shuddered.  "Damn it, I hate him and Greg in those moods.  The last time we got the clothing eating foam."  He pouted, walking off.  "Fair warning, Wolfe's in an evil genius mood!" he yelled as he walked.  "He's picked out an evil genius pet bunny!"

"YES!" a female voice yelled.  "I won the bet!"

Studly whimpered.  This was going to be bad.  Very, very bad.  Wolfe was going to inspire others.

Don shook his head.  "How can you be naked in the lab?"

"I don't know but it works for him."  He dug into his lunch.  "I want to set Rebecca up with Dad.  You think he'd mind?"

"Probably not," Don said, smiling at him.  "Anything else going on?"

"I got to see a mating flight," he said quietly.  "I got to work on some others' research around here.  Everyone's projects are going okay.  The new bike is in testing.  Stephni's got the weapons worked out for Tiffy.  Tiffy's doing okay.  We had a crossover case with a guy from NCIS because they tried to take Ryan and Stephni."  He ate another bite.  "Rebecca, can I introduce you to my dad?  He could use a good woman who isn't my boss."

"Sure, Charlie, baby.  I could use a good man.  Is he adorably smart too?"

"He's an architect," Don offered.  "I've got pictures."  He walked one over.  "That's our dad."

"Ooooh, adorableness!" she cooed.  "I do want to meet that man.  Bring him down for a vacation?"

"I'll try," Don promised, taking the picture back.  He sat down again after getting some coffee.   "Dad could use a vacation.  He's worried sick about you."

"Honestly, I'm having a lot of fun, Don.  I'm surrounded by the same sort of brilliance I have.  Larry would be in heaven with all the discussions going on around here.  No one minds when I babble in math geek.  They understand me.  It's wonderful, but it's not home.  I need to do more work in the lab at home."

"You should," he agreed, smiling at him.  "What other problems are you working on?"

"Ryan Wolfe's working on a body controller system.  You can stick the electrodes on someone and then direct their movements.  I've been using it to validate some of my own research.  I've been helping Stephni and Tiff with the assault bike when they ask.  I've been helping Horatio with a few of his cases so he could see what I've been doing for you.  Mostly I've spent a lot of time working on my own ideas."  He ate another bite, then pointed with his fork.  "I've applied some of my fluid dynamics work to aerial maneuvering.  It's going well."  He ate another bite.  "I think you're right, I missed dinner."

"I know you did, I got here right after dinnertime," Don said, giving him a head shove.  "You need to quit doing that.  That's what makes Dad worry."

"I know but I don't do it on purpose.  I'm sure you've missed plenty of meals."

"Yeah but I could eat at my desk," he reminded him.  "You don't nibble while you do math stuff."

"If I did I'd get fat pretty quickly."

"Amita might not like that," Don teased.

Charlie shrugged a bit.  "Now and then she might.  I don't know."  He stuffed his mouth again.

"Has she been emailing you?"

"She's a bit frustrated," he admitted.  "Not that I blame her.  With them hanging around the campus I can't go home yet.  She's having to take on some of my responsibilities because of them hanging around.  I'd almost think she was ready to beat them."

"She did snap at one of them.  Larry walked her off before they had her arrested for verbal assault."

"I'll send her an email tonight."

"Might not help.  She's very frustrated.  She went to cry on Dad the other day she was so frustrated."  Charlie groaned.  "I had to let David stop them from harassing her that same day."

"They're idiots.  They've got to be.  It should be clear that I don't want to work for them."

"Charlie, if you think some agents have egos worse than surgeons, these guys are worse.  They can't see why anyone wouldn't want to work for them.  They also think they can conscript people."  Charlie dropped his fork, staring at him.  "They tried with Larry but he pointed out nothing in his research would help them.  They had to give up.  He's safe.  I made sure he's safe."

"I'll call them tonight."

"You do that.  I know Larry's spent a lot of time muttering and pacing recently.  It'd do him good to hear from you.  Dad too."  He pulled something out of his pocket and sild it over.  "It's got a local number so you don't have to worry about minutes and it's got free long distance so dad can quit worrying."

Charlie smiled.  "Always looking out for me."

"Someone has to. You get lost in the math and chalk dust," he taunted with an evil smirk.

Tiff leaned into the caf.  "What sort of evil pet did Ryan get, Charlie?"

"An evil bunny named George.  Eric Delko's nieces helped him pick it out and named her.  He came in last night after Eric's mother fixed him up with a nice gynecologist."

"Wonderful.  I look forward to the chaos that'll reign when he's ready to burst."  She walked of cackling.

"No more chocolate for you," a male voice yelled after her.  "Before you warp the rest of us!"

Charlie giggled, dialing his dad.  "Hey, dad.  Yeah, Don finally found me.  I'm okay.  I was in the lab I'm borrowing doing a lot with my research."  He dug into his lunch, eating heartily while listening to his father complain about being all alone in the house.  It was good to hear some normal things.