An End And A Beginning

Catherine looked up when someone came up to her desk, taking the message she held out.  "What's going on?" she asked the Internal Affair's officer.  "Dad on a rip again?"

"Well, we are worried about his mental health," she admitted, taking the seat in front of her desk.

"I ordered some of his buddies to take him to the doctors.  He refused to go and nearly shot the ones who got insistent.  We know his memory's going, we don't know why yet."  That got a nod.  She read the note, then looked at her.  "Someone still knows about all the things that went on."

"He's retiring in about a year and he suggests you do the same," she said quietly.  "I'm being his lackey today since all his normal ones are busy."  She shifted closer.  "Catherine, he's worried that when he leaves you're going to be stuck here without anyone having a clue."

"Plenty of people have a clue," she reminded her firmly. "Including Don and Taylor."

"Point.  There's one other option."  She handed over something.  "Federal evaluations are in a year and a half.  No one, and I do mean no one, has been keeping up with the CE paperwork.  That would get you back where you love and solve the issue of you and Flack working together," she offered quietly.  "I checked what classes you need. Your CE paperwork has been flawless. You're already well on the way to this one.  You could handle this job easily and it would get you over all the labs in the city."  She stood up.  "The main Chief, the big guy, wants a call about this. Someone tipped him off that we're in deep shit with that missing paperwork."

"Done," Catherine agreed calmly.  "As long as Timmy gets his gold and he gets a good mentor in whichever department he wants."  She nodded and walked off.  Catherine got up and looked into the office.  "The main Chief wanted me to call about Timmy and some lab issues," she said quietly.

"I heard we had one but not what it was."

"The continuing education stuff," she admitted.  "Which can take us off the Federal Level list."  That got a shudder.  "So I need to do this for a few.  Good for you?"

"Fine with me.  Have fun with that."

"I'm fully up to date and then some."  She sat down and called over there, looking at the list.  She marked out the ones she had.  "Chief, Cavanaugh.  Yeah, that's why I'm calling. What did you need me to do, or was it a want me to do situation?"  She listened to his idea.  "We need one anyway," she admitted.  "That works for me.  Who do I apply with?"  She wrote that name down.  "You're sure you want me?"  He listed his reasons and she smiled. He knew she wanted back in the lab, it was her heart and soul.  "No, I can use the bio- hazard lab for that stuff and training, plus that would reopen it to those who wanted to do some private research.  Thank you."  She hung up and looked at Don's empty desk, then called the other guy.  "Hi, this is Catherine Cavanaugh, out of Manhattan?"   She smiled.  "Yes, that's me.  No, but the Chief and I were just talking and he said we needed an oversight officer and someone to make sure the CE's were being done.  I want that job.  Truthfully, I'm fully current with mine and two hours ahead this year.  I'm only missing three on the list he sent me."  He mentioned another one.  "That's a Fed one and they just finished a section.  It won't be offered for a year.  Can I get my license for this provisionally, providing I take the classes in a good amount of time?"  She smiled and relaxed.  He had been briefed about the problems.

"What do you need from me?"  She made notes and nodded.  "On your fax within the hour, sir.  Thank you."  She hung up and turned on her computer to type up the papers she'd need.  Then she printed them off and went to talk to her boss.  "Heading downtown on this stuff, then Albany-ward.  Tell Don?"  That got a patient nod.  "Thank you."  She walked out, her cane tapping loud.  "Tim?"  He looked over and smiled at her, standing up.  "You're staying, help Don and pick a new mentor."  He looked stunned so she showed him the forms.  He hugged her, bouncing a bit.  "Quit, pain."  He stopped and pouted at her.  "That means you get a new mentor and your own job.  Pick someone."   He pouted worse.  "Sweetie, you're still family and all that, but if I get this job, then I won't need you to back me up.  That means you can move on with your own life and find your own niche instead of looking like my chauffeur."  He nodded.  "Now, do the heavy thinking while I'm gone.  I'm probably not going to be back for a while."  She headed out, driving herself downtown to the main building.  It was a pain in the ass to find a parking spot but her handicap sticker did help with that somewhat.  She got out and headed inside, nodding at the people she knew until she got to the Chief's office.  "He's expecting me.  It's a read and sign deal," she told the secretary.

"You are?"

"CSI Cavanaugh."

"Oh.  All right."  She called her boss.  "Chief, there's a CSI Cavanaugh here with some papers for you to sign?"  She looked at her.  "He wants to know why you didn't send them the normal route."

"Because I need them signed so I can fax them on and it's his idea."  She walked in and put the forms in front of him.  "I don't care that you have Kara under there," she noted dryly. "By the way, she's parked her bike in your spot.  I took the Bronx Borough chief's spot."  She smiled.  "Read, sign, I fax, it's a done deal hopefully."

He read it over then looked at her.  "You only need four classes out of the twenty?"

"I've kept up on my continuing education," she said dryly. "I'm actually two hours ahead this year and the one is a federal CE class for managers.  I have had it in the past and I've paraphrased it in the past.  Besides, I want my old life back," she complained.  "I like homicide, but I'm *happy* in the lab.  Plus, with Gwen being pregnant, I might need somewhere I can babysit now and then."

"True," he admitted.  "Where would we stick you?"

"Bio-hazard lab," she said with a shrug.  "That's where my old office went.  I'll need to arrange one of the rooms as a meeting area but I can do it up there.  That gives the lab more energy and I can let some people who're working on personal research have time in it.  I would need to update it," she offered dryly, smirking at him. "But as you know there's grants for that."

He reread them then looked at her.  "You're sure?  This is going to put you back in conflict with Taylor."

"I know.   Then again, he's not watching me now to see if I'm going to be a dirty cop.  He's finally realized how bad it was and switched targets."

"Messer?" he asked.  She nodded.  "Who's over him now?"

"Me.  He's my mentoree.  I don't care what his family did and what youthful stupidity he had, I expect him to know his shit, come to me with problems, and move up the ranks as far as he can and wants to go. Anything less than that and I'll kick his ass."  That got a smile and a nod, and the Chief signed them.  "Thank you.  How long before I know?"

"I'll call you this afternoon.  Have my secretary fax those to Westfall's office."  She nodded. "Then sit your ass down, Catherine. You look tired."

"Don's father is begging and pleading for grandchildren," she noted dryly.  "He woke me up to nag this morning before my doctor's appointment."

"Did you tell him who he should be nagging?" he asked dryly.

She smirked at him and nodded.  "He said that was fine as long as I gave him a true Flack to carry on the name and the badge."  He laughed at that.  "It's not funny.  Think about how old I am!"  She walked off, handing them to the secretary once she had signed all the pertinent places herself.  "This needs faxed to Westfall's office in Albany.  Please.  It's important or else we can lose our lab status."  She looked at it, then at her, eyes wise.  Catherine smirked.  "Yeah, that's me."  She looked up the number and faxed it right then and there.  "Thank you.  I'm heading back to my desk at the twelfth.  Let me know if something comes back?"

"Of course.  I hope you can fix it."

"I know I can, but I'll be tapdancing on toes for months."  She grinned and headed back out, finding someone writing out a ticket for her car.  "The sticker means I can park any damn where I want," she called as she walked.  "That is Federal law."  The officer gave her a dirty look, then he saw her badge.  Another officer came over and pulled him off, hissing at him.

"Sorry, Cavanaugh.  He's new."  He smiled at her.  "Good news?  Filing change of status paperwork for you and Flack?"

"Possibly good news, not that yet."  She got into her car and started it, backing out carefully and heading back to work.  She found Don and Mac outside, grinning at him.  "Hi.  I have possible news coming."

"Wonderful.  Why?" Don asked, smiling at her.  "Good news?  Like dad's off his kick?  Like the doctor said he has something for your knee?"  She whispered in his ear and he looked stunned, then at her.  "Wow.  Okay, good news, and it'll make you happier.  And hey, still nearby, right?"

"Right where you'd expect me to be," she said happily.  "We faxed over the paperwork just a few minutes ago."

"Ooooh, I hope so.  Can I help?"

"You can help and you can call Horatio to see what programs they use, just in case I have to pull off the miracle within the month.  We're behind.  Way behind."  He shuddered at that.  "But I can let you help when you can."  She grinned.  He kissed her gently. "Don," she moaned.

"Not like they don't all know," he reminded her smugly.  "Go inside and sit.  I ordered lunch."  She nodded and headed in there.  He grinned at Mac.  "How's your paperwork issues, Mac?"

"Paperwork?  I do it pretty muchly as it comes in."

"Evaluations and yearly checks and all that?"  He nodded slowly.  "You sure?  You might wanna rethink that answer since they just came to her about some."  He smiled and went inside to wait with her.  Of course he had a case nearly as soon as he walked in but that was fine. He'd end up bouncing around the office if he had to do paperwork.


Catherine picked up her phone.  "Cavanaugh."  She listened and relaxed, then nodded.  "I can do all but that Federal class in that timetable.  I checked, the next one is next year.  Oh, I talked to Horatio, he had no idea what I was talking about.  So maybe a cooperative alliance there?  That way I can help the other one?"  She smiled and nodded.  "Thank you, sir.  I'm not sure.  The person he took over from had just lost her husband and Horatio's a lot like me.  Smoother, but blunt and forceful at times.  Some of the political machine down there don't like him very much.  Thank you."  She beamed and stood up.  "Love you too, sir.  Please tell Sr. to quit whining about the need for a grandson?  Thanks."  She hung up and walked into the office, leaning on the desk.  "Boss."  Her lieutenant looked up.  "I'm moving back upstairs.  Oversight."  Then she beamed. "Taylor's my trainee bitch again."

"Oh, god," she moaned quietly.  "That's fine.  Get more keys made to the bio-hazard lab."  That got a nod.  "Thank you for the warning.  How bad?"

"Taylor hasn't filed continuing education credit reports in the last four years.  We're due for our eval in a year and a half."  She whimpered.  "The Bronx and Brooklyn will be on their second citation for this same thing and a few other training problems this time if I can't fix it.  So bad.  I might also need to borrow the local hubby to help with some stuff and end up in Miami helping Horatio since he doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about."  That got a wise nod.  "So I love you dearly and I loved working with you, but I'm moving back to my sanity.  I'll be on the top floor."  She grinned and walked out, finding Don in the doorway with Stella, smirking at him.  "I'm in."

"Ooooh," he said, grinning at her.  "Where to now?"

"Upstairs. Come along, Stella."  She took her arm.  "We're going to have a talk with the lab."  She got a sideways look.  "A necessary talk with the lab."  They headed up in the elevator, getting out next to the emergency switch.  She hit it twice and headed for the area outside Mac's office.

"What the hell?" someone yelled.

"That means it's a meeting," Mac called.  He went into his office and used the phone to get everyone else there.  He came out and looked at her.  "Was that really necessary?"

"Yes.  Because you haven't filed Continuing Education paperwork in four damn years, and we're going to lose Federal Level status next May."  He gaped then Lindsey had to help him sit down.  "Didn't I tell you about the forms you filled out in five parts, you mailed pages here and there?"  He nodded slowly.  "You have to fill those out.  Every year.  You haven't.  Fortunately we're still on top of that and it's possible to fix.  Brooklyn and the Bronx are going to be on their second citation."  He whimpered.  She looked at everyone.  "Hi.  For those of you who don't remember me from before, I'm CSI Cavanaugh.  I ran the lab before Taylor and I trained his stupid ass.  Now, I'm Oversight and Quality Control."  That got a moan.  "I'm also the one doing the Continuing Ed stuff.  Sorry to say, you're all behind.  Way behind."

Stella opened her mouth and she held up a hand.  "Hold on.  Who here knew that you're *required* to do Continuing Ed every year?"  The lab techs raised their hands mostly.  "Field techs have to as well and theirs are more hours.  Now, we have a year and a half to make up four year's worth.  For those of you who have credits to claim - meaning you've taken classes that you can claim, went to conferences and symposiums that you can claim, that stuff - we've got a form for you to fill out so we can do that.  That'll lighten your loads a lot.  For those of you who *don't* have any, expect to see a hell of a lot of me."  That got another moan from Taylor.  "You especially."  She looked at Sheldon Hawkes, who was their former ME and was now a field tech.  "You've been keeping up on your medical CE, right?"

He nodded.  "Yeah, but I didn't know anything about field CE.  I've filed my ME stuff every year."

"Good, that'll help.  Since you're new, you don't have to take nearly as many as everyone else.  By law, the last time I knew and I'm getting an updated list tomorrow from the Feds over this issue, field techs needed eighteen hours across the board per two years of CE.  Lab techs only needed twelve in their speciality and one other."  That got some nods. "So, we'll start doing that.  That'll give us a way of getting the whole city up to speed.  Because if we don't, we lose Federal Level funding.  Losing that means the lab about closes, people."  That got a smaller moan.  "Fortunately this isn't the worst.  For those of you who think you have credits from conferences or classes, bring me the class descriptions or the information from the convention that lists the hours and what it was on.  Within a week I'll have everything I need and the schedule planned out so we can see who needs what.  Agreed?"  Everyone nodded.  "Good.  Stella, I need you to call and find out who I get more elevator keys from.  You have one, I have one, but we'll need at least three more to the bio-hazard lab.  Also, I'm planning on what I need to update that lab and open it for those of you doing private research.  Like I did my Masters in DNA down here."  That got some smiles.  "Okay?"  Everyone nodded. "Good.  Until further notice, I'm going to be up there.  Stella, get more keys, put one in the office down here, hand out a few more to Flack and a few others.  I'm calling a supervisor's meeting tomorrow at eight pm, Taylor.  All of us, all shifts."  That got a slow nod.  "Good.  Any other questions?"

Lindsey raised her hand.  "You're a CSI? I thought you were a detective."

"I was a CSI for thirteen years and even when they moved me, I still did the work.  I did it in Bronx Homicide when those guys got tired of me.  I did it in SVU to spare some of you guys the pain and misery.  So I really never gave it up.  I'm the one who remodeled the lab.  I'm the last one who updated it, unless Mac's suddenly getting all new computers, and I'm the one who trained Taylor.  Okay?  Any other questions, ask Taylor."  That got a nod from her and she stepped back.  "Okay.  Taylor, let it be known that I am Oversight and Quality Control. I need any and all problem personnel folders on my desk within that same week. Evaluations, brief statement, and if the supes are dealing with it already I need to know what they're doing.  As of now, I am now the keeper of the updating paperwork for this and all the other labs.  I'm your go-between for the Chief's office and yours.  Got me here?"  He nodded again, standing back up. "Good.  Don's agreed to help where he can.  Also, Horatio had *no* idea what CE credits were.  So I'm guessing we're going to be managing that as well or helping him a hell of a lot. Possibly even video conferencing if we can. That way they get it at the same time.  Any other questions?"

Danny raised a hand.  "Sheldon's only first year."

"Yeah.  It's mandatory before he starts his second year.  How are yours?"

"I'm about a year behind but I'm up ta date for last year," he offered. "I've got the forms at home."

"So do I," Stella admitted.  "Good thing."

Catherine smiled. "Imagine doing all this on typewriters.  I used to.  This isn't anything.  Okay.  I'm heading up to make sure my office is still in one piece.  I'll start making calls; Taylor, bitch about this so everyone knows and understands how bad this situation is."

"What's Federal Level anyway?" Don asked.

"A Federal Level lab means they can ship stuff to us or do processing on site if necessary," Danny told him quietly. "It gives us extra funding, opens doorways ta grants and stuff, and then we keep a higher rating for training and other stuff.  Losing it means losing all that plus honor since this is big shit in the world of labs.  There's only about twenty across the country, and a third are their own labs."

"Us, Miami, DC's, Seattle, LA, some small town in Oregon," Catherine added with a grin for him.  "Federal level basically means that we can and may be asked to sub in if the FBI or other federal agency's labs blow up, have a quality issue like the FBI's labs a few years back, or they need on-site processing.  That's why I pushed so hard for the bio-lab.  Too much happens in New York not to have one.  NYU's is good again, but ours is still better, even being so out of date."  That got a nod from him.  "If we lose this, we fall to the bottom of the fish tank in the hierarchy.  Plus we lose federal money and grants.  Including some of our 9-11 grants for the lab and the PD."  That got a stronger nod.  "Okay?  Anyone else?"  Everyone shook their heads.  "Good.  Hopefully the office will be more easily reached tomorrow.  Find out if you have any of those.  Let me know.  Then the semi-boring seminars begin."

"Can you do one for detectives?" Stella asked.  "I had to work with one the other day who spit phlegm on my scene."

She nodded. "Not a bad idea and they could probably use it yearly."  She grinned at her. "Get onto someone about those keys.  There's a way back to the office without going through the lab."  She headed for the elevator, going up to check on her old office.  She had seen it a few months back but it could still probably use dusted and an area for the meeting room found. She pulled the elevator key off her neck and used it, heading up there with Don silently beside her.  "Problems?"

"Cameras up there?"

"No," she said, smiling at him.  "But I did promise the Chief I wouldn't make out in the lab with you."  He grinned at that and shook his head, taking a kiss before the elevator landed.  They got off and she led him through the unsealed doorway, taking him back to the office through the hallway behind the bio-lab.  "I need to take four classes," she told him once she was in there.  "Also, Timmy needs a real job now.  And a mentor."  He nodded at that, smiling a bit.  "Up to you if you offer or not."

"I'll think about it."  He took another kiss. "Meeting room?"

"There's that small secondary office next door and the tiny break room behind it.  If I remember right, there's a moving wall in there somewhere.  So I'll have to get us a table and comfy chairs."  He smiled and nodded, sitting across from her and putting his feet up on the edge of her desk.  "I'm thinking that the lab techs can run their own sections.  Each of them get their time to brag and show off their areas, plus make sure the field techs have some idea of what they really do."

"Sounds good.  What about ballistics?"

"That one...."  She sighed.  "I'm going to incorporate gun maintenance and making sure everyone does their range qualifications.  Taylor forgot to do his."  Flack snickered at that.  "I'm supposing he's been busy but Danny hates his.  Sheldon doesn't carry one."

"I can help with that part of the lecture, Kate."

"I know.  I wouldn't mind at all.  Can you talk to Sheldon and get him outfitted with Supply?"  He nodded, standing up.  "Kiss?" she asked with a grin.  He leaned down and kissed her deeply, making her moan.  "This also means I can babysit if I have to."

He smiled. "Or if Dad finally wears us down."

"That too," she agreed dryly.  "Not like I want to remember going into labor on a scene and the ME nearly panicking.  You did panic and shouted at everyone to make me quit hurting, which I thought was cute and nice, but way too much, Don."

"Not like I was used ta childbirth," he complained, but he was smiling. "Take Sheldon now, take them to the range Saturday?"   She shrugged and nodded.  "Okay.  Tell Horatio I said hi and to cuddle me in his dreams tonight."  He walked out, heading back down there.  The elevator key got left in.  "Taylor," he called.  Mac looked at him. "Two issues.  You didn't do your range this year?"  He sighed and shook his head.  "She got told. You need to requalify ASAP.  Also, Danny and Sheldon need it and she said I could help with that."

"Are you qualified to do that?" Stella asked as she came out of Mac's office.

He nodded. "I am. I'm more than good enough to qualify to teach it."

"I can do that," Mac admitted.

"No you can't.  You didn't qualify this year."  He stared him down.  "This is my part to keep you guys moving smoothly.  Got it?"  That got a nod.  "Good.  Everyone's qualifying during the first ballistics lecture."  He went to find Danny and Sheldon.  He found Danny first. "Danny."  He got a sideways look and then the young guy went back to work.  "You, me, Sheldon, range Saturday."

"I'm on call."

"It's within call distance."  Danny looked at him.  "It's time you did and she said so."  He walked in and shut the door. "I noticed you hesitated," he said more quietly.  "That's normal.  But it's gotta be looked at and she wanted you to practice. Sheldon isn't even carrying one so we're going to be working on his at that time."

"Sure," he agreed.  "Any other commands from her highness?"

"Only if you can make my dad lay off about babies."

"Have you and Horatio go to him and be all lovey and cuddly," he said dryly. "That'll get him horrified and he'll leave you three alone.  I don't need it."

"Danny, have you done any range time since the shooting?" he asked quietly.  He shook his head. "Then you missed qualification this year and that means you're not supposed to be in the field.  Mac either," he admitted dryly. "He apparently forgot.  So we'll do this officially Saturday while teaching Doc how ta shoot, even if he doesn't like it."

"He won't."

"Not my issue, it's mandatory."  He clapped him on the back. "I'll give you a call when we get up.  Should be around ten."  Danny nodded. "Good boy."  He went to find Sheldon, finding him down in the morgue.  "Hawks."  He looked up and smiled so Don motioned him over.  "She noticed you're not carrying," he said quietly.

"I'm a doctor."

"Now you're a field tech and it's mandatory," he said quietly.  "Because it'll come down to you or someone else dying some day.  Even if you don't like it, you have to qualify on the range in case that day comes so we can trust you out there."  That got a silent nod.  "Good.  We're going Saturday, Danny has to qualify and needs some time too."

"I'm free all weekend."

"Good.  Now, do you even have an issued piece?"  That got a slow head shake.  "Then we need ta do that.  Grab your shit and let's go."  Sheldon went back to the new ME and got the report from him, making notes on the pad he had with him, then followed him back up to the lab.


Catherine looked around at her minions, smiling at them.  "Hi, guys, yes, I'm back again.  And I have bad news.  We're about fucked on the Federal Level standards."  She looked at the Brooklyn contingent.  "Unfortunately there's no way your people can make it up.  I've offered to get you to five year levels and they're thinking about it.  I'll know in a few days."  She looked at the Staten Island supes.  "You guys are doing okay, but you've got some procedural issues you got cited for before.  Were they fixed?"  That got nods.  "Good.  Because if you're cited twice for the same thing, the lab can be closed if it's a bad enough thing."  That got nods all around.  "Now, who brought in their estimations and forms?"  They were passed down and she flipped over the dry-erase board she had used earlier.  "These are the present federal levels, in green are the ones they're moving to by the eval date. Notice they went up.  They're getting back to me to tell me if we're supposed to be at the old levels or the new since we're getting evaluated three months after the new go into effect."

She looked around the table.  "Okay, this is how I'm planning on the issues here.  The lessons, symposiums, whatever you wanna call 'em.  We're gonna have the lab techs themselves doing the main lectures in them.  Show off their areas.  A sorta 'hi, this is what I do, can do, and this is the neat stuff my field has' sort of lessons.  That'll give them a chance to show off, get some of their own hours in, and feel appreciated.  Anyone got a complaint?"  No one said anything.  "So I would actually like our techs to talk to each other.  I know one of our AV guys is also a computer hacker.  The computer guys in headquarters aren't as good as he is.  If we have a case that needs hacked, I'd rather he did it and the tech he's subbing for did whatever he was working on.  That'll mean it's more efficient.  Can we work with that?"  Everyone nodded, making notes.  "Then I need lists.  Have your lab techs write them out.  You can use a questionnaire or whatever works for your techs.  Now, during the first set of ballistics ones, we're going to do gun maintenance reminders and how-tos, because we're all geeks and not many of us love our guns like our ballistics techs would like, and then we're going to do range qualifications.  Therefore I'm putting ballistics first on the priority list.  I don't care if your people did it just last week, I want everyone to qualify and if we have to, correct any faulty thinking.  I know Hawks, downstairs here, used to be the ME and he didn't want to use one because it went against his oath."

"You sicced Don on him?" Mac asked.  She nodded.  "Did he qualify?"

"Barely.  Danny did as well. Supervisors are included in that qualifying run even if they hardly ever get into the field."  She looked at the one that was applicable to.  "Where's your second shift?"

"Retired, we're still hiring.  I've been doing their paperwork."

 "Okay, send the routine stuff on the list I'm going to be giving you to me.  I'll expect the mass quantity and some lateness for now."  That got a nod.  She reached behind her and grabbed the list of what she was supposed to get, tossing it down the table. "That's what you send to me.  You send them to me here.  They said I'm now the records keeper.  Got it?"  Everyone nodded once they had their lists.  "That's another reason why I want the qualification scores on file here instead of at the Academy.  It'll be easier to find in case something happens. We've had a lot of shooting reviews recently."

"Did Messer have any problems with his last qualification?" one of the Bronx people asked.

She shrugged. "You'd have to ask Flack.  He did that for me.  So I'm thinking two or three lectures or whatever we wanna call 'em for each area.  That way even the on-calls can get whatever they need to.  We may have to tape the first one and show it.  We might also be video conferencing with Miami since Horatio didn't know a thing about this."  That got some smirks.  "Wipe it, people, fantasize about us on your own time.  The sooner we get this done, the sooner you can go home or back to your offices and do that."  That go some more smirks and one odd look. "What?"

"You know that's borderline sexual harassment, right?"

"No it's not.  You smirked as well."

"About the thought of Caine coming up and running one of our labs," she complained. "Is he?"

"No, dear, he and I are dating."  She looked horrified.  "Everyone else here knew but you apparently.  I'm sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable.  I could care less who's sleeping with who, who wants who, if you're doing it in the broom closet at the station.  As long as it's not compromising a lab, it's not compromising a scene or evidence, and as long as I don't have to personally watch the show, we're good.  I'm a blunt person most of the time.  And yes, I wouldn't mind Horatio coming up to run a lab around here either."

"You may get your wish," Mac told her dryly, staring at her.  "He's on his way up tonight."


"He didn't say, just to tell you he'd meet you here sometime during this.  I thought I'd let him surprise you."  He grinned. "I like you two together.  He calms you down."

"No, my back and knee injuries calm me down," she noted dryly.  "He makes me bouncy and giggly."  That got some smirks and a few chuckles.  "He does. Okay, back to the meeting at hand.  Someone suggested that we do a one hour thingy with the detectives.  That way they know a bit and know how to act on scenes.  I like this idea and I want to do it as a yearly thing. Considering I had one that was spitting chewing tobacco last year at one of mine, I think it's needed."

"You were working cases when you weren't in the lab?" one of the Staten Island supes asked.

"She used to nag my guys and point out shit until they just let her do it," the dayshift Bronx supervisor said bitterly.  "We all loved working with her, she did half our job for us and worked with us whenever we needed a hand.  Too bad the old, white guy parade up there drove you out."

"She moved to SVU," Mac told him.  "The Chief was trying to get her to retire."  That got some laughs.

"Yeah, and then they were told how bad we're looking for evals," Catherine said dryly.  "Personally I think that's why they moved me back to here from SVU, giving me a chance to defrag before I got the summons back to my labs."  She looked at Mac.  "Your night counterpart?"

"Maternity leave for two weeks. Her second's on a case and I'll fill them both in later."

"Good.  Thank you."  She looked around.  "Any other issues we have to deal with?"  She smiled as Horatio came in.  "We're talking about video conferencing in with your group to get them some of their hours."  She handed him the list she had made up for him.  "Our joint Chiefs decided I can do your CE stuff too, Horatio, that's what I'll need from you, what they'll need, and what papers I'll need sent up to keep me updated."  He nodded at that so she smiled.  "It'll be easy enough to do.  Most of your crew was working on it already behind your back."

"Calleigh wanted to know if she had to do field tech and lab tech hours or just the higher number," he offered.

"That's going on my questions for my call tomorrow," she said, smiling and writing that down.  "We don't have any of those up here except for Sheldon."

"Messer does Trace," Mac offered.

"Not totally.  Calleigh is his ballistics tech most of the time.  But she's also a field tech.   Her junior tech is a trainee and really stupid and lazy. Reminds me of Palmer."  He shuddered at that.  "Any other issues we can see?"  No one said anything.  "Then I wish some of you a good night and those of you going on shift an easy and safe night.  Meet back here in three weeks, time to be determined as either this time or lunch?"

"Lunch," everyone said.

"Night shift is up by then and days could use the break," one of the Harlem supes offered.  They walked out chatting and looking over the lists.

She looked at Mac, who hadn't moved.  "Issue?"


"Is my mentoree.  Not an issue."


"Mac, I don't care.  You're going to destroy the boy like you tried to do to me.  I won't have it.  I've mentored kids who were full blown Crypts in the past and changed their lives to fight their former impulses. Danny's got much less to fight and if you actually *asked* him he might tell you how involved he was and it would probably ease your mind.  Consider Danny to be the mini-me of the lab and leave it there.  Got it?"  That got a nod.  "Good.  Any complaints about his level of work, his level of concern, or his interpersonal skills?"

"No.  But I'm seeing one brewing."

"You always were one to see the organization and not the individuals, Mac," she told him.  "You work better when you see the whole instead of the cogs.  That way you can't see when a cog is starting to get rusty or out of joint and focus.  I deal better with the individuals.  That's part of why I'm here, to make up for where you lack.  The same as most of the supes see the whole instead of the smaller and more minute parts.  Running a staff isn't quite as bad as slide identification but it can be at times. There's got to be some trust on your shift and you need to heal this rift since you're causing it.  You didn't ask," she said when he opened his mouth.  "Like with me, you assumed and you're violating his space and making him paranoid and jumpy.  You're bringing down his morale and you're going to lose a really good CSI over this.  Now, think about how you treat him and act like a good supervisor, Mac.  Remember, your team looks at you to lead them.  Your attitude changed toward him and then theirs did.  It's up to you to heal it."

"Yes, ma'am," he said, getting up. "Should I salute?"

"Not unless you see me in uniform," she shot back, staring him down.  "Think, Taylor.  What drove me so paranoid I was having a breakdown when I got forced out of the lab.  Then think about what you're doing the same now."  He nodded and walked off.  She looked at Horatio. "Sorry."  He shrugged.  "What happened?"

"Don't ask."

She took his hand and squeezed it.  "It's not like you to suddenly take off, Horatio.  What happened?"

"Yelina was pinned down on the way from picking Ray Jr. up from school," he said quietly, squeezing her hand back.  He felt arms go around him and looked up at Don.  "You're sneaky today."

"I try.  It's how I get the best cuddles," he offered.  "You backed her up?"

"I did. I left a scene to do so," Horatio agreed.  "It was the right thing to do but it could've jeopardized a homicide.  Therefore I got sent up here on vacation."

She pulled his head over, kissing him, then Don.  "That's fine.  We can work out how we're doing the CE stuff for your crew. Plus give you good cuddles."  That got a faint smile.  "Leave it to us, Horatio.  You did the right thing.  Where was everyone else?"

"Supposedly busy."

"Then call Frank, let him watch your kids," Don said in his ear.  "Relax and take it as the blessing it is.  She's fine, your nephew is fine, and Catherine is going to kick their ass if they try it again."  That got a brighter smile.  "Good enough?"  Horatio nodded.  "Good.  How soon before we know what we need and have a schedule so I know when I'm going to be teaching range skills lessons to all the geeks?"

"I have the forms from most everyone.  I should have a schedule within three weeks," she offered. "That's our next meeting, three weeks from today at lunch."  He smiled at that. "You'll be there for the specifics of how we're going to do this and we'll call Horatio if he's back at home."  That got her a smile from her redheaded lover.  "Any other questions before I get cuddles on the way home?"

"Timmy wants to stay here in homicide," Don told her.  "He wants Benny ta mentor him."  She smiled at that.  "They do kinda think alike and Benny is his uncle and getting ready to retire.  The lieutenant said that was fine and Timmy got handed his gold shield today."  She beamed at that, making him a happy guy.  "Horatio, you wanna call the family on the way home?"

"I should.  I want to know what's going on."

"Could it have to do with Ray?" she asked, gathering up everything, making sure he had his list.  He shrugged a bit.  "Horatio?"  He looked at her.  "I know what you found, dear."  He opened his mouth and she smiled.  "Toni and Ray Jr. talked while he was a bit drunk down in Brazil."  He rolled his eyes. "At least she's making sure he's fine."  She stole a kiss with a grin.  "I'm a good girl and the Feds are seeing if I can do what I want efficiently."  Don grinned at that.  "Okay.  Home.  Now.  I need cuddles.  Is Timmy coming home with us tonight or heading home?"

"Heading home.  Mirin wanted him home since you don't need him like that anymore," Don told her.  He let Horatio put an arm around her waist and walk her back to the office, where she checked her voicemail, printed off four emails, then closed and locked the office, then the elevator once they were down in the main lobby.

"Catherine," Sheldon called, jogging over to catch up.  "Do you need a copy of my medical CE paperwork?"

"I probably should but I was going to leave that up to you, Sheldon."  He smiled and handed some over.  "Thank you.  Any other problems you're seeing?"

He nodded, leading her off to the side.  "Yeah, a few.  Mostly from Lindsey."  She groaned.  "She likes Taylor as a boss and as a person," he said quietly.  "She's got a small crush on him too."  She shuddered at that.  "I know, but still. You set her off with how you treat Danny like one of your kids sometimes and now she's mentally thrashing against your issues with Mac.  Are they going to come back?"  She shrugged. "Do you think so?  The year I was here before you left was bad enough on the rest of us, most of us ended up in the therapist's office over what he was doing to you."

"I'm hoping he finally grew up," she admitted quietly.  "I ripped him a new over his new project of the moment too."  He nodded.  "Get Stella to clue her in, please?"

"I don't know where she is.  I think she went to Sullivan's.  You could try there."

"Anyone with a parental cop who had to leave the job for reasons like my dad did or because they were dirty aren't allowed anywhere near Sullivan's or any other cop bar in this city," she said blandly.  "I almost walked in there once as a rookie and Sullivan himself told me why, even though he knew my dad was a good cop.  It's an old, old rule, Sheldon.  I'm over it.  She have her cell?"


"Then I'll call her on the way home.  Thank you for the warning.  Is your replacement any good?"

"Very good.  I'd want him doing mine."  She smiled at that.  "Are you going to back me reupping my full license?"  She nodded.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  I want you to carry a fully stocked bag, Sheldon.  We might need it some day."  He nodded, backing away from her.  "Good.  Now, you'll still have to requalify during the ballistics classes but Don'll be doing that part," she offered.  "If you ever need to talk, that's part of why I'm here too."  He nodded, grinning at her.  "Good boy. Now head wherever you're supposed to be.  I'm going to get cuddles."  He chuckled and headed back to work.  She looked at her men and they walked over to lead her out to the car.  "I've got to call Stella while you guys talk to Yelina and Ray Jr.  Then we'll switch."  Horatio smiled at that.  "Are you going to work or just play while you're up here?"

"I thought about playing but you're bringing home paperwork."

"Not that much.  It's more correlating to figure out what's needed most desperately and which tech does which lecture."  She smiled at him, getting one back.  "Don, what am I cooking tonight?"

"Steaks?  I've had a long running day."  He got in to drive and Horatio shoved him over.  "You can't call your family and watch traffic."

"Guys, figure it out peacefully or *I'm* driving."  Horatio handed Don the keys and got in the back with her.  "Thank you."  She smiled.  "Maybe we should try uniform sex again?"

"No way in hell," Don said dryly.  "Especially not a chauffeur's uniform."  He pulled out of the parking lot.  "What's up with Stella?"

"Actually it's what's up with Lindsey."

"I noticed she got pissed that you're treating Danny like one of the kids.  I think it's good for him."

"I think she wants that spot and she's got a small crush on Taylor."  She dialed her phone at the spluttering, getting Stella.  "It's me and it's a favor.  No, not babysitting the little slutty one.  No, she's at home doing dress research for the prom.  No, I got told that Lindsey is pissed that Danny's being treated like one of my kids, which is very, very well, and that she's pissed with Taylor and my fight.  I was wondering if you could have a discreet word with the little brat and show her that she's going to get trashed soon.  Yeah, that sort.  Thanks, dear."  She hung up.  "She'll have a talk with her."

"Good," Horatio said.  He liked Mac, a lot, and he respected him, but the way he treated Danny and some of his other techs did irritate him the more he watched him undermine Danny and try to turn Sheldon into someone less intuitive and more toward his own areas.  "Do you think he reciprocates the crush?"

"I have no idea," she said softly, looking at him.  "It might make him happier again if he did."

"Nope," Don told them.  "I don't think he's aware of it and she seems like the sort to want to mentor and cuddle others who need it.  She's a bit squeamish too."

"Wonderful. Think I should do mock drills as part of the classes?"

"Could work," Don admitted.  "Are we gonna use the resort?"

"I don't have to hide it from anyone but I'm not sure I want everyone to know where it is.  It's like the family's vacation spot."

"I like it up there," Horatio assured her, kissing the back of her hand then entwining their fingers. "If you do, make it a game for points or something.  Make them go outside their usual areas as a pop quiz."  She smiled at that. "I'm sure it'd help them understand a bit easier."

"I'd hope so," she agreed, stealing a kiss.  "Okay, I need to collate what's needed tonight and how many hours for each borough.  Because one's already in trouble unless they can provide paperwork showing they went and did some before.  I'm not having a failing grade my first evaluation."

"Miami's last one was pass/fail and we did fail," Horatio offered.  "Not by much but we did because Speed wasn't supposed to fill in when he had a hunch.  They're getting stricter."

"Yes, but I know what I'm up against.  I got our lab through three others.  Even if they have upped the difficulty, I know what they want to see."  She stole another kiss and smiled.  "Your next one you're passing with no question.  What was your score?"

"Ninety.  Ninety-five was passing.  They said only one lab passed, one of the Federal labs in DC."

"Wonderful.  We'll have it."  He smiled at that.  "We will.  Even if I have to drill it into their heads yet again we will pass and we will get as near to perfect as possible."

"We had points taken off for Megan being on grief leave," he told her.

She nodded.  "I know.  I went into labor during our first one and they counted that against me."

"The analyst stood there and took notes counting the ME off for delivering the babies when the ambulance couldn't get there in time," Don assured him.  "Did he appeal those?"

"Yup.  The same as Megan could've hers.  It's not like you *plan* on having your spouse die."  He nodded that was true. "So we'll be fine."  They nodded, reassured by her reassurance.  "As long as we keep it at eighty-five or above we keep Fed Level status.  They want an ideal situation and it's not like that in life."  She shrugged.  "It happens that real life gets in the way of ideals.  Even communism was a good idea at the start until people got involved."  That got a snort from Horatio.  "No, it is.  That sharing, no one's better than the other stuff was the basis of the Free Love movement too.  Yet again, a decent idea until people got involved and messed it up.  People like to shit where they eat and it shows."  He kissed the back of her hand again.  "Don's doing range stuff this weekend if you wanted to go or we could head up to the resort."

"I'll see."  He smiled at her.  "How's the barrage of demands?"

"Don's dad said he didn't care if we had kids, but if I had one, there had better be at least one true Flack to carry on the name, the badge, and his line.  So I can be your broodmare but I'd better be one for his son at least once."

"Dad needs his head examined," Don said in a sing-song voice.  "Danny's idea was for me and studly there to go be cute and snuggly in front of him to make him drop it."

"Your dad doesn't realize you used ta play at the clubs," she reminded him.  "He's gonna freak out and it's gonna get around, Don.  Right now they've decided you're sharing me and tolerating each other like males dogs sharing their bitch in heat.  If you do that, it's gonna be looked at a bit differently."

"I know.  I didn't say it was a good idea, just that it had been suggested," he offered, pulling onto the turnpike.  "Kate, Stella asked me earlier. With the problems in your knee and back, are you sure you wanna stay somewhere your bedroom's upstairs?"

"I love the house, Don.  I've had it since before the twins came."

"I know, I helped you find it, but she's got a point.  If your knee or back get much worse, we're gonna have ta carry you up to bed now and then, Kate."

"Point.  I don't know."  She looked at Horatio, who only stroked her hair.  "No opinion?"

"Not at the moment.  I'll consider it later.  I know you could probably sell it to another officer since it's in a decent neighborhood and not that far out."

"Call Yelina.  Make sure she's still okay."

"I tried, I got a busy signal."

She took her phone back out and dialed, smiling at the young guy who answered it. "Did you steal your mother's phone, Ray?  No, it's Catherine, Horatio, and Don.  Yeah, he's next to me actually."  She poked him then grinned.  "You didn't tell her you were coming up here?"

"I was ordered to come up here," he noted dryly, taking the phone.  "Hi."  He smiled.  "No, the Chief ordered me to come up here and arrange for the Continuing Education classes.  Yes, that stuff.  No, I'm suspended because I left a scene to back you up.  I'm up here under orders during it to arrange all the details and to smile again according to him."  He grinned and nodded, kissing her on the forehead.  "There, delivered for Ray Jr."  She beamed back and nuzzled his neck.  "She send back a hug."  She giggled at that and he looked at her.  "I'm not doing that to my sister-in-law."

"Point."  She snuggled in, listening to the rumbling going on in his chest while he talked to her.  His voice was deeper and soothing, and it made her fall asleep right there.

Don looked back when Horatio hung up.  "She okay?" he asked quietly.

"Catherine's fine.  Just asleep."

"I meant Yelina."

"She's fine as well, Don.  She sends her love and invites you down to get a tan."  He grinned at that and took the right exit.  "Should I wake her?"

"Nah.  I'll do dinner, she can nap on the couch as long as Toni doesn't get too loud about the ugly dresses.  Her school's got a dress code from hell about formal events and dances."  He shrugged.  "It happens.  She considers them all ugly."  He changed lanes and turned at the light, glancing behind them.  "Ah, our tail is back," he said fondly.  "I have no idea who that is."

Horatio looked back then at him.  "I do.  That's Stetler. Apparently he's decided I'm coming up here to be a bad cop.  Can we pull over so I can shoot him?"

"Sure."  He pulled into a small park and parked, watching as Horatio got out.  Catherine woke up yawning so he turned to look at her.  "One of his anti-buddies from Miami was following us."

She looked over and growled. "IA."  She got out and walked over to join them. "Horatio?  Introduce me to this snake?"

"Rick Stetler, this is Catherine Cavanaugh," he said patiently.  "I'm fine," he said, looking down at her.

She shrugged.  "Yay.  I don't care."  She looked at him again.  "What brings you to our urban sprawl of a city?"

"I was told to track Horatio and see what was going on."

"Well, tonight, I'm going to make dinner.  I'm going to help my daughter find a prom gown while he and Don tell her she'll be stunning in it, I'm going to let Horatio give me a backrub while Don works on my legs and especially my knee, and then we're going to either watch tv, cuddle, or have sex.  Then in the morning we're going to get up, arrange for me to do your lab's CE stuff for you so you don't get taken off the Federal Level list, and then I'm going to arrange New York's.  Any other questions?"

"Horatio's with you and Don Flack Jr.?" he asked dryly.

"I'm a bitch in heat, what can I say?" she noted blandly.  "It takes 'em both to get me going well enough to get off.  Anything else?  After all, they've got to flip the coin to see who I wear out first."  He looked stunned at that so she smirked.  "What?"


"That same one who came down on that crossover serial case.  Yes.  If you were a good detective, you'd have recognized me."  The IA guy glared at her so she glared back.  "Why are you up here?"

"I was told to investigate his illegal sexual relationship."

"Really?"  She looked at Horatio. "Why is it illegal?"

"I'm not sure."  They looked at Rick again.  "Why is it illegal?"

"A trio is not legal in any state.  That would be like polygamy."

"Only if we filed for marriage licenses," she noted dryly.  "Since we're not, that's not illegal."

"You have an answer for everything, don't you?"

"I should.  I've been a cop since I was nineteen."  He looked horrified.  "Yes, I went to college at sixteen.  Gordon's my son."  He backed off with a shudder. "Do you have a problem with my son?" she asked, following him.  He took another step away.  "You do know that's from his paternal line, correct?"

"Catherine," Horatio said quietly.  He pulled her back against his chest.  "Why are you really here, Rick?"

"I'm here because we think you knew something was going to happen to Yelina."

"If I had, I'd have been in her car with her and my nephew," he said coolly.  "I would never harm my family, Rick."

"Is he the guy who slugged her?"  Horatio nodded, kissing her on the back of the head. "Well, that ended any respect I might've had for him."

"He's earned less over the years I've known him," Horatio assured her.  "Rick?" he asked impatiently.

"Did you know?"

"No.  If I had, I'd have been in the car with her.  Do we know who it was?"

"All we know is that the bullet found a match in the system and Calleigh won't say who," he said bitterly.  "I need you to find out for me, Horatio.  That way I can do what I need to do."

He pulled out his phone and called down there. "Calleigh," he said patiently.  She babbled quietly about what she had found.  "Repeat that please."  He handed over the phone.

Rick listened, then sighed and handed it back.  "Thank you."

"Not a problem."  He listened to her yelling at him.  "Calm down," he ordered.  "He's trying to actually do his job, Calleigh.  That's why he bothers us.  Why he's up here bothering me instead of you I still don't know."

She looked at him.  "I do.  He's jealous," Catherine said, heading back to the car.  "Don?"  He got out and smiled at them.  "This is Rick Stetler."

"Ah.  The guy who hit Yelina?"  She nodded.  He walked over there and stared him down, then tipped his head to the side.  "Funny, you don't look that stupid."

"I'm not.  I lost myself," he ground out, glaring at him.  "Stay out of it."

"We're family now and my father is thinking about retiring down there."

"Don't plague me like that," Horatio joked, patting him on the back.  "Calm down.  She's safe and he's never gone near her again."  He looked at Rick.  "Did you need anything else?  Photographs?  The stuff she's handed me about the continuing education problem we've had that no one told me about?"

"Videotape of us giving her a backrub later?" Don offered.  "Or other stuff?"

Rick shuddered.  "No.  But I will be watching, Caine."

"You do that, Rick," Catherine said dryly.  "After all, he's not doing anything wrong.  Nothing illegal.  And nothing that would draw your attention.  Of course, if you continue in your harassment, he can and will sue you and the department who hired you to stop said harassment.  I know a few very good lawyers.  My daughter just made Austin cry for trying to make her abort her child."  He took another step back and she followed him.  "Are we crystal clear why doing your job and harassment are two *different* things?  Because trust me, I know harassment.  I got it for ten years from my trainee on orders of the former Chiefs.  I had to sue the department to get what I had earned, and I can help him through that pitfall and come out beautifully and calmly on the other side.  If you don't believe me, go see our IA contact at the twelfth.  She knows me *very* well after so many years of working with me."  She walked her men back to the car.  "We're heading home.  If you *really* want to watch the house to catch peeks of my backrubs, feel happy but do watch out for my youngest daughter.  She's been a bit vicious about the prom thing recently."   Don got back into the car beside her, letting Horatio drive from here.  This way he got cuddles and Horatio got to calm down by concentrating. At least for now. Then she could help him calm down later.


Catherine looked out at the gathered homicide detectives from all across the city.  Next she'd get the SVU detectives, and then on down the line to those they were less likely to work with on a scene.  "Okay, this is an hour long lesson for you guys," she announced.  "Get comfy.  Do not sleep or you get to do it again tomorrow with those of you who couldn't be here today due to cases and other things."  That got a groan.  "Like I said, an hour, that way you guys can work with the CSI teams more harmoniously and happily without getting chewed out, cussed out, or given odd looks.  First, let me make this very clear.  Just like you, we are cops.  Some of us may be smarter than most in some areas, like laboratory sciences, but we are cops. We went to the Academy, we passed, some of us scored highest in our classes."  That got an amused look.  "Like me."  She stared her former coworkers down, watching as they fidgeted.

"Good.  I'm glad you remember me," she said happily.  "For those of you who don't know, I'm CSI Cavanaugh.  I'm over Oversight in the labs, all the labs. For those of you who do know me, feel lucky it's me and not one of the more *boring* CSI up here.  Now, today we're going to go over what you do on a scene, what you don't do on a scene, and why I'm going to be haunting your nightmares the next time I find one of you spitting chewing tobacco on a crime scene.  We good?"  She smiled.  They all nodded.  "Good. At the end I give out donuts and pastries and coffee."  That got some smiles.  "Hey, I'm one of you too, I live on the same sugar and caffeine diet."  She pointed at the screen behind her.  "Okay, first.  Let's go over some basics of what you *do* do on a crime scene.  If you're first there, what do you do?"

"If we're the first on the scene, we put up tape approximately four feet from the edge of any blood or body remains?" Don suggested.

"Four feet is good," she agreed.  She sat on the front of the desk, her cane resting beside her.  "Now, what if it's a car?"

"Bumper plus a foot if possible," one of the Harlem homicide guys offered.  "On either side."

"And on the street side?" she asked.

"A foot at least," another offered.

"Good.  The whole lane if it's more than a two lane street is always helpful.  I'm sure we all remember how to do that from our mandatory stint in traffic?"  They all groaned and nodded.  She smiled.  "Good.  And why do we do that?"

"Because you'll make us all girls if we get one of your precious geeks hurt?" one of her former coworkers suggested.

"Exactly," she agreed happily.  "Of course, if you call us geeks, I'm going to get you anyway, Henderson.  Working with us is why *some* detectives have such a good solve rate."  He glared so she smiled sweetly.  "My daughter can and she's still a rookie.  She's already past your solve rate and she's pregnant, working in SVU."  He shuddered.  "Exactly.  This is one of those situations where we can call each other geek, but you'd better not do it from outside the hierarchy."  She looked around again.  "Sorry, they moved me to Queens homicide for a few years."  They all laughed at that.  "Okay, so we know what to do.  What do we do when we have the tape up or if there's tape up and no CSI there?"

"Take statements and if we absolutely must walk past the tape to stay as close as possible and not touch anything," one of the older detectives offered.

She smiled and nodded.  "Excellent.  What else do we not do?"

"We do not drop anything, we do not leave anything, and we do not touch anything until someone has said it's all right," Don offered.  "You should've heard her yell when I accidentally spilled coffee," he told them.  "She's worse than Taylor.  All I did was trip."

"Yes, and you potentially contaminated evidence," she shot back.  "Now, what happens if his DNA or worse ends up on the body?"

"He becomes a suspect until ruled out," one of them answered with a smirk for Don.  "Happen a lot, Flack?"

"Hell no.  I tripped."

"Yeah, over your tongue," one of the Queens' guys noted. "Must we do this?"

"Yes, because you spit chewing tobacco on a body last year."  He blushed and slid down in his seat.  "You could have thrown the whole case out.  Thank you for admitting you had done it when we caught you.  You are one of the reasons we hold these speeches yearly now.  So let's get back to it.  What's the one thing you put on as soon as you cross the tape?"  They all looked clueless.  "Gloves, people.  Gloves."  She held up a pair.  "These things?"  They all nodded.  "Okay, let's give the short lesson on how to put them on."  She showed them how to do it.  "You do not want to touch the outer surfaces on or off.  Doing so leaves your epithelials alllll over everything. You can blow into them before you put them on, some of us do that, some of us shake them out.  Some of us just slide into them.  Powdered or not inside is your choice and you do have the right to carry your own pairs, especially if you're allergic to latex.  If you are, I would suggest you carry a supply of them.  Because if you touch something, we may make you change them to keep any contamination down.  Now, to take them off, you do this," she said, showing them how to do it.

"In the little foil packet in front of you is a pair of gloves and a cheat sheet of information you'll need if you're at a scene and something happens - it's ID case sized just in case you want to carry it.  Let's practice how to put on and take them off.  Then we'll move on once you've all got it."  They all ripped the packets open, some using their teeth, a few using a pocket knife.  "Those of you who used a knife, good idea, but do make sure you don't slice those things.  Like opening condoms with your teeth, it can damage the internal things."  She gave one a long stare and he blushed.  "Okay?"  That got a nod.  "Those of you who used your teeth, we can use that to test for DNA now.  But don't worry, yours are already in the system.  Right beside your fingerprints and addresses."  That got a few groans and a few snickers, especially from Don.  "Okay, you all have it?"  They nodded.  "Good.  Now, what's the next step?"  They all looked clueless again.  "We take statements?" she prompted. "Why they call you and us."

"When the CSI shows up, we give them all the information we have," Don offered.  "Anything from witnesses, names, IDs, anything."

She nodded.   "That's true.  Taylor and I trained you well, Flack.  Then what?"

"Then we stand back and watch in awe," one of the smartasses in the group offered with a sweet smile.  "You seeing him finally, Cavanaugh?"

"Personal questions later," she said patiently.  "For now, let's get back to the fun stuff, okay?"  That got a nod.  "Thank you.  Ask him later."  She smiled.  "Okay, second thing.  What do we not do at a scene?"

"We do not drop things, touch things, or backtalk the CSI unless they need it or deserve it," one of the guys from Staten Island offered.

"True. And that's the second point of being a CSI.  We are human as well as being cops. There are times when we make mistakes or fuck up majorly.  I've sneezed on a body.  I've coughed on a body.  I nearly puked on a body when I was pregnant with the twins.  Three times if I remember right.  Dumpster jobs while pregnant are never a good idea."  That got some snickers from the men in the audience and a look of understanding from the few women.  "Also, we're human and we like to know more about who we work with.  If you've got a speciality you guys love to help with, tell us.  If you're an avid bird watcher, let us know.  If you're like Don and you like weapons, tell us and we might let you help when we come up on strange things.  Let us know if you have something like that.  Not all of us are receptive. The Staten Island guys know that for a fact."

One guy raised a hand.  "I've been doing subtle hints to mine about my interest in birds."

"Yeah, if you're talking Danforth, she doesn't do subtle.  Ever.  Never heard of it, doesn't know it exists.  Walk up to her one time and say 'I like birds, do you have anything that I can help with' and watch her look really clueless and then smile and nod and ask if you can identify them by their droppings.  She has in the past."  He smiled at that.  "Also, if you guys have a speciality, we're running a lot of CE stuff for all of us.  If it can help, we'll let you know.  The Academy is also looking for people to do information seminars so you can do that," she told the bird guy.  He smiled at that.  "We're all human.  We like to get along for the most part.  A few of us have broomsticks up the ass sideways from reading too much Harry Potter and trying to make theirs fly, but again, that's a human thing to do."  That got some giggles.  "Okay.  Let's get back to this.  Then you guys can recharge your sugar and caffeine stores and go back to work."

One guy raised his hand.  "How do you stand the smell at some scenes?  Can you tell us that?"  That got a lot of nods.

She smiled and opened her kit, pulling out a small jar. "Vicks Vapo-rub.  Right under the nose, blocks all the other smells.  I often put mine just inside my nose if it's really bad.  But then again, after your thirtieth really nasty smelling body you start getting a little more immune."  The guys took notes on that.  "Also, inhalers that stink really bad help.  Shower as soon as you can.  Body stink clings.  It'll cling to your hair, to your skin, to your clothes.  I've had bodies that were so bad, I had to cut all my hair off and then burn my clothes.  More than one.  And the longer they ferment the worse it gets.  We had one inside a wine barrel.  So not only did you have soured wine, you had fermented body and dissolving body stench.  Even Taylor got sick at that one."

"Hell, I couldn't get within a block of either of you," Don reminded her. "After her sixth bath.  There's some bodies you just can't get rid of.  That's one."  She nodded at that.  "Also, there's another trick. You know something that'll make you stuff up and sneeze?  Carry a little vial or jar of it in your car.  Use it on the bad scenes. I have in the past.  It worked well."  The others took notes on that too.  He grinned at her.  "Am I doing all the boroughs for the requalification?"

"Yup, sure are," she said dryly.  "You, you, and only you unless you can find a helper."

"Joy.  But okay.  At least some of you guys use your guns and some of you guys look at your guns funny but respect them."

"Most of us respect our guns but we respect our brains more.  Most CSI think that we're going to think our way out of things.  We're there to be the brains of the outfit.  Most of us are arrogant enough to concede that using our weapons is an absolute last resort.  That's why you guys don't leave us alone at scenes.  We die when you do that because we don't go for our guns first.  We go for our brains and our wits.  That is why you *never*, *EVER* abandon a CSI alone at a scene without calling dispatch and alerting them to send at least a patrol guy out to help.  Because we get focused on what we're doing.  We handle minute, tiny little things that make people go 'ooooh, how did you find that' a lot.  We concentrate and we get lost in the job.  To most of us it's like a big jigsaw puzzle.  To some it's a compulsion.  We will work on something until we solve it.  Even if we starve, we don't sleep, we're grungy and filthy from lack of bathing, we will work on that until we are done.  That's why we count on you guys and the patrol guys to do the normal people things and watch our backs.  We don't remember we're three-dimensional unless we're crawling into a tiny space where we can get stuck, and most of us would do it anyway."

That got some smiles. "And if you tell us that, you'll get dirty looks, hurt looks, or yelled at.  But that's why we have you normal guys.  So I hope you guys don't dismiss us as just being geeks, and you don't fuck with our crime scenes, but you also start to respect us for what we do.  After all, you guys had to have some degree to get in.  For CSIs, we have to have a Masters usually and we have to be near the top of our class to make it out of the Academy and into a good lab, like we have here in the city.  In the Manhattan felony lab, six of us out of twenty-eight scored in the top two percent of the Academy class we graduated in.  I scored, until this last class, second highest final test grade since we built the new academy.  One person tied with me finally so we're tied for second and Don Flack Senior got a point higher than we did.  The other kid wants to be a CSI too."  That got some smiles.  "We may not be the strongest, the fastest, or the bravest, but if you touch our evidence, we will rip you to shreds.  As some of you have found out."  She gave a few knowing looks and they laughed and nodded.  She checked her watch.  "Okay, we've got about fifteen more of this hour.  Any questions?"  She smiled.  "Come on.  I'm not that scary today."

"Any chance of you and Flack having baby cops?" one of the females asked.

"Only if my father gets his way," Flack said dryly.

"What about baby Caines?" one of the Manhattan guys asked smugly, smirking at them.

"Talk to Horatio about that," Don ordered, holding up a hand.  "My father said he didn't care as long as he got a true grandson to carry the badge and the family name."

"Which means the kid would be a hippie, druggie musician and he'd be crying," Catherine offered dryly.  "I meant about our interaction, scenes, anything like that?"  They all shook their heads.  "Then refill and chat for the next ten minutes.  Coffee and sweets are on the table by the wall."  They headed over there and Don came over with a cup for her.  "Thanks."

He smiled.  "You don't get lost as often anymore."

"Yes I do and I forgot I was three dimensional the other day during a knife fight."

"I noticed. We're going over your self-defense again, Catherine."  She sighed and nodded.  "Good.  Any good news?"  She handed him the schedule she had worked up.  "Wow.  That's ambitious and time consuming."

"Stella and some of them only need a few hours.  They can pick and choose.  Some of them need to attend every session and even if they're on call," she sighed.  "You're welcome to come to any of them you want.  Oh, guys?"  They all looked at her.  "As part of the continuing education drive going on that we have to catch up on, if you're interested in an area, I don't see a problem with you guys coming to listen to the CE lectures. I'm planning on having the techs run them for the most part.  The ballistics ones will include gun maintenance and qualifying on the range the first few times, but they'll evolve from there.  They're mostly on weekends, you can come even if you're on call.  Some of us will be," she noted dryly.  "So if you're interested in an area, like weapons or AV or computers, come and join us.  We don't mind.  Some of us may wonder but just say it's fascinating and leave it there."  That got some smiles.  "We like working with you guys.  That's what makes it such a good thing to be one of the team.  So let's act like the team we are.  Go us, and go catch some bad guys."   She got some smiles and most everyone left.  She looked at Don.  "You too."

"Thanks.  I plan on it.  Otherwise I'd never see you on the weekends."

"Most of them are afternoon lectures.  Around that nice 'nap time' in the afternoon."  She smiled.  "It's a slow time for us."  He smiled and nodded, stealing a kiss before heading back to work.  She gathered up everything and made notes on what she had done for the SVU lectures coming up.


Mac and Stella looked at each other as the screaming match started, then walked off.  Catherine was part of it, she could get herself out of it.

Catherine watched them go, then smirked at Danny.  "Feel better now that you let it out?"

"Yeah, I do."  He frowned at the empty hallway, then at her.  "Are you ever going to forgive him?  You said yourself he's grown up."

"Only in relation to me," she said dryly.  "You're like my kid now.  Get over it."  Then she smirked.  "As a matter of fact, you can help Don talk Toni out of the slutty prom gown that she can't wear anyway."

"Gee, thanks.  Didn't quite go to my own."

"Yeah, well, she's debating about four offers," she noted dryly, shaking her head.  "Okay, so what was the problem?"

"Lindsey said you're abusing me, mom."

"Yeah, she said I'm mean to Taylor too."

"Hmm.  Wonderful."  He moved closer.  "Does she not get that you're watching out for me?"

"I have the feeling she thinks she's your mother and Mac's your daddy."

"No, I'd be worse than myself if that were the case."  He shook his head to clear that thought.  "Can I let her know some of it?"

"I asked Stella to."  She shrugged.  "You can ease up on it if you want."  He nodded and grinned at her.  "The other problem?"

"DNA came back with two matches to one sample."

"Ever hear of those twins who basically absorb their malformed one?"  He slowly shook his head.  "Okay, let's head to the library."

"Should you be walking this much?"

"I'm fine."

"I ask because you're leaning worse than usual."

"Yeah, well, not my fault Don had nightmares and pushed me out of the bed last night," she said quietly as they walked. "He wouldn't tell me why either.  You can pressure him to tell me if you want.  I won't make you betray a confidence if he comes to you about it."  He nodded at that, smirking just a bit.  "Hell, I've held plenty of his secrets over the years.  I'm the only one who has pictures of him with Flock of Seagull hair."  Danny burst out laughing and she grinned impishly.  "Yeah, it was my idea.  We were going to go clubbing and I did his hair for him.  We ended up in the Village because our original target had a homicide and I had to repeat repeatedly that I wasn't working it before they let us go.  That was almost nearly as cute as Gwen having to come to work with me the next morning because we had only gotten out of the clubs at three and picked her up, then I got a call out on the way home.  He was too drunk to slur by that time so I drove us there, put Gwen into one of those handy backpacks, and we went to work together that day."  Danny chuckled about that.  "My boss threw an absolute fit, but I reminded him that day shift started at dawn and what did he expect since I didn't have a live-in sitter to call at four-thirty.  He put me on report for doing it, but the borough chief agreed I had showed proper conduct and kept her drool and diapers from contaminating the scene. Then he reminded the boss that day shift started at sunrise."

"High profile?"

"Yup and he was such a poser," she complained, opening the door into the library.  "Ah, Sheldon.  Book on absorbed twins?"

"Green shelf, third up," he said absently.  "Am I doing the ME lectures?"

"You or him, figure it out among yourselves.  There's three of them coming up in about two months."  He looked up.  "Brooklyn and the Bronx are so far behind they'll never catch up.  The Feds over the lab evals said we could do it as long as we got them at least five years' worth. You'll pick and choose from among some options and mostly take what you want.  The only mandatory one for you would be an advanced field techniques seminar."  He smiled at that and went back to his reading.  "And the ballistics one.  Sorry."

"I understand why now.  Don got it through my thick head."  Danny found the book and sat across from him.  "That sexual assault and homicide case?"  Danny grimaced and nodded.  "You think it's one?"

"Two DNA signatures, one sample, and it came up as one donor."  He shrugged.  "She thinks so so I'm lookin'."  He found the part he was looking for and skimmed it.  "That happens?"

"Yeah, that happens.  Pretty rare but it can happen.  I know Vegas had one of those a few years back.  It was mentioned at a conference."  Danny looked up at her.  "Find the list of conferences and apply to go to one.  You're allowed and it's a good way to meet others in the same field, get updated information and new theories, and have some fun.  Because you always cut loose at a convention.  My last one I don't remember too much of it after the meet and greet but I was only there for fun.  Not CE stuff."  He grinned and went back to it.  "Yeah, Donny knew I went.  I called him and told him how much fun I was having apparently.  He's still nagging me over whatever I did."  She sat down next to him and pointed at something. "Isn't that basically what you got?"

"It is."  He frowned then looked at her.  "Can we test specifically for this?"

"You know, I'm not sure if you can or not.  I've never heard of anyone trying.  Usually they find out in situations like the one in Vegas.  Where you get two different samples from one person."  She scratched the back of her arm.  "Ask the tech, see if it's been covered in any of the journals.  Then let me know.  I'm not going to claim I'm infallible."

"I heard about your talk to the detectives," Sheldon said with a grin.  "It'd be nice if some of them with fascinations in particular areas did pop up when we needed them."  He shook his head.  "Birds?"

"Birds can be part of a case.  We've had to identify what sort of bird left droppings before and all sorts of stuff."  He shuddered.  "So it's a handy thing.  And hey, we might even have a pocket entomologist in the department so we don't have to hire out that duty."  She stood up with a grin for him. "Go back to DNA, see what he says."

"Thanks, Catherine."  He got up and headed back there, taking the book with him.

"Nice work," Sheldon said quietly once they were alone.

"All my mentorees become like my kids.  Maybe he can talk Toni out of the slutty dress she wants for the prom."  She headed for Mac's office, hearing someone yelling about her that way.  She rolled her eyes when Mac looked her way, leaning into his office a few seconds later.  "Hey, do you have those reports yet?  I'm still finalizing the schedule.  What did you want to teach?"

"Military and inter-department cooperation."

"Okay, you can do that.  We'll add it specially as an elective one.  Danny just caught a case with dual DNA signatures from a single donor specimen."

"Interesting.  Absorbed twin?"

"That's what they're trying to figure out.  I haven't seen it written up so I showed him the source and referred him to the higher power of the actual tech."  She shifted and grimaced.  "Anything else coming up I should be aware of?"

"You had a box of files delivered earlier for personnel problems."


"I've only got the one and you're handling it," he admitted.

"That's fine.  No drunken techs at this time?"

"Thankfully not.  Anything you wanted to mention?"

"Conference schedules?  Maybe we should put them up in the break room again.  Most of the lab techs do their journals but not all the field techs do.  We don't all have time to."

"I'll see if I can find the main list from the Forensic Academy journal."  He smirked at her.  "Anything else?"

"Deciding on who's paying," she noted dryly.  "Also for classes."

"We're still on tuition reimbursement and the Chiefs said it's a good idea.  I'll put forward conference participation at the next borough budget meeting.  We could all use the relaxer and talking to others in our field. I was planning on hitting the main one in Atlantic City this year. You?"

"I usually hit the one in Atlanta, and I was planning on the one in Austin since Gwen was down there but I don't have to go if someone else wants my reservation."  He nodded at that, making a note.  "If I remember right, it's a fluids and trace emphasis one."

"Danny might like that."

"Danny would die in Texas heat."

"True," he agreed with a small smirk. "It won't hurt to put up the notice.  Did you do the grants for the computer update?"

"They're on my desk and about half done.  One's a severe long shot though.  The person I talked to asked why we didn't use 9-11 money to update at that time."

"Because it went for better equipment other places," he reminded her.

"I know, I'm on the purchasing board, or I was at that time.  The same as I was on the response panel.  Lindsey, can you give me a minute?"  She nodded and walked out, leaving them alone. "Mac, did Claire ever tell you the outcome of an exam she had about two weeks before she died?"  He slowly shook his head.  "Don found my old journal last night and saw where I noted she called me to talk about a small lump biopsy, to see what they were going to do.  She said she'd ask you but she didn't want you to worry."

"I remember her having one.  Why?  Did she tell you it was benign too?  She told me that about a week later."

"No, according to the journal entry, she told me it was pre-cancerous and she'd have to have another check in six months."   He stiffened and she nodded.  "When he found that it jogged my memory; we went over the procedures the lab was going to do to the sample.  It had the name of the doctor and the lab if you wanted it.  He suggested I ask."

"I...I wouldn't mind," he admitted.  She nodded and pulled it out of her pocket, handing it to him.  "Thank you," he said quietly.

"Knowing Claire, she didn't want to worry you, Mac. She told me a few times she hated it when you ended up looking human and normal, like the rest of us."  He nodded, looking at the note.  "I'll let you see the journal if you want," she offered gently.

He looked up.  "Please. I understand why she did it."

She sat across from him.  "Have you thought about grief counseling?  Just to see where you are and see if you're ready to take the next step?"  He nodded.  "Did it help?"

"I thought about it but I haven't went.  I've talked to our shrinks a few times.  They think it's PTSD on top of it."

"With your service record?  I'd be surprised if you didn't have flashbacks now and then.  But I would suggest going to someone whose whole reason for having a job isn't to patch up the battle wounded and send them back out again."  He looked at her.  "That's what our shrinks are for, Mac, and even you've got to realize that.  They're there to make sure we're ready for combat and the next bad scene."

"One's a vet."

"Then he knows it's his job and if he's honest with you he'll agree with me."  She stood up again.  "There's a support group for people who lost loved ones during that.  It meets Saturday nights at ten in the Village."  He nodded.  "Maybe you should try?  You're miserable, even more so than usual."

He nodded.  "I'll think about it."

"Good.  And if you see my daughter, please send her upstairs so we can talk about her desire to piss off every nun in the school by wearing something that shows cleavage."   He smirked and nodded.  "Tight dress restrictions on the prom.  She wants something to show herself off, they won't let her."  He nodded again.  "So send her up.  The elevator key is in place as long as I'm up there."  She headed back up to her office, smiling at Lindsey.  "All yours again."

"Do you enjoy humiliating Danny?" she demanded.

"I'm not.  Danny is one of the guys I protect and watch over.  They become like my kids.  As far as I know I haven't humiliated Danny yet and if I did, he's more than capable of coming up and chewing me a new one for it."

"You're always undermining him with Mac," she said more forcefully.

"Lindsey, there is history there you cannot comprehend because you weren't there. Did Stella give you any sort of a clue about what happened in the far distant past?"

"I tried," Stella called.  She came out of the lab.  "Danny said they can't directly test but one of them came up a match in CODIS so they're going to go on the assumption since it's the only reasonable one.  He's going out to get the guy now."   She moved closer.  "Lindsey, she trained Mac, but Mac was told to watch her very closely because of who her father is.  It got to the point where she had to leave the lab to get away from him. I was just barely hired when she left.  Besides, her mentoring of Danny is doing him good.  He's a lot more assertive when he needs to be and he's broadened his outlook and range of possibilities working with her.  That's not a bad thing.  Danny benefits a lot and earlier she was letting him vent his frustrations."

Danny came out and leaned on her shoulder. "Don't talk about me behind my back."  He looked at Lindsey.  "You, drop it.  I like the new mom there.  She trusts me to know my limits and to learn new things and pushes me to make it to level three some day.  She's mentored a bunch of cops who needed a gentle push and they mostly came out okay."

"Mostly?" she demanded.

"I had one who kicked a drug habit back when he was fifteen but when he went to Vice he got exposed to them again and he had to test once," Catherine said quietly.  "He couldn't keep it from taking over his life, no matter how often I went with him to meetings, held his hand as the flashbacks started, or helped him however I could.  He ended up deciding he couldn't go back to being hooked on heroin and couldn't go forward taking it and fighting his addiction because it would endanger lives.   He committed suicide by liquor store robbery about eight years ago."  She went pale.  "All but him have turned out very well.  I have two of my kids in SWAT.  One's in Vice and doing great things there.  The actual kids are doing great.  Gwen's doing very well in SVU as a plainclothes officer and helper there.  She's always had a real fine touch with victims. My son's working on mastering his sixth language and is working with Horatio because he wanted to. He made that decision and forced the rest of us to deal with it.  I'm very proud of all my kids, adopted or not.  Danny's just a bit older than I usually adopt.  But again, that works in his favor because if he thinks I'm being unfair, he can come to me and we'll talk about it."

"That's what mature people do," Mac agreed from behind the group.  "Any luck, Danny?"

"Hit in CODIS from one of the profiles. I'm on my way to pick him up now, just stopped to correct an assumption."

"This isn't a job for assumptions," Mac agreed.  "Keep me informed on this one please.  It's not often you get cases like these."  Danny nodded and headed out. "Stella? Your last case?"

"Going like clockwork, a stopped one," she said bitterly.  "Trace can't match anything at the moment."

"Computer issues?" Catherine guessed.  She nodded.  "We need that damn update," she complained.  "Oh, Taylor, about the eval, you remember the drill right?  No leave time, no sick days, nothing like that because we will be passing this time."  He nodded.  "Good.  Make sure your people understand that.  The last one in Miami was right before Horatio took over and they took points off for the former director being on grief leave.  I want us to be one of the few that pass without an appeal. I may settle for having a good enough failing score to keep our level, but I don't want to."

"We'll do our best.  Textbook and to the letter."  He smirked at her.  "Didn't we get cited for you being in labor three evaluations ago?"

"Yeah, and the ME got cited for having to deliver the twins since the ambulance was over a half-hour too late.  We ended up appealing that one as well.  I'm tired of the appeals."  He nodded, walking Stella off.  "See if we can reload the databases or something," she called after him.  "I'll finish the grants today."  She looked at Lindsey again.  "This one time I will excuse you doing this in the halls, Lindsey.  From now on, the proper protocol is to come to my office if you have a concern about something that I'm doing.  Or that someone else is doing.  I've even got an anonymous tip box if you want to do it that way.  These things are best kept private and out of the public so no gossiping can happen and hurt those you feel the need to protect.  Next time, either come up to the office or find me outside of the station.  That way Danny isn't hurt by more thoughtless people watching him for aberrant behavior.  After a while, that gets very wearing on your spirit."  She walked off, heading back to her office and those grant forms.  She also called Computer Services to find out about maintenance contracts and who would be responsible for coming out to check the systems.  They couldn't afford Trace to be down for very long.


Lindsey walked into the lieutenant's office a few hours later, tapping quietly on the door.  "Do you have a minute?  I'm conflicted and it's a personnel issue."

She put down her pen.  "You can't go to Taylor or Catherine?"

"She's the issue."

"Ah.  Close the door."  She clasped her hands on the desk.  "What's the issue? Her blunt way of speaking?  The occasional swear?  An off color joke?  She and Flack going at it in her office?"

"The way she treats the staff.  She treats Taylor like he's a naughty toddler and she treats Messer like he's mentally feeble and has to walk him through stuff."

"Okay, first, she trained Taylor.  She can talk down to him all she wants.  Now and then he could use the ego blow."

"He's still grieving...."

"Yeah, but that doesn't count for when he rips into one of you for not being superhuman," she interrupted.  "Taylor has a very strict code of ethics and does his best to never appear human.  You are unfortunately human and therefore will let him down.  It causes tension.  She's right to twit him on that, Monroe.  That's what a supervisor does. A good one works on your weak areas to make them stronger and encourages you to keep up the good skills you already had. Mac's a great criminalist, but he makes a lousy boss at times unless you're Stella and you can stand up to him. I'm more than happy that she's straightening out that misconception about him being an alien being running around in gaudy spandex tights."

Lindsey opened her mouth so she held up a hand.  "It's something you see a lot of from former military personnel when they reach management in a department.  They're taught that any weakness must be eliminated or hidden.  There's no room in there for being worked on or works in progress. Mac has had this problem since he came in.  For his first three months, he about 'sirred' everyone, even her.  He was uptight, and we were all growing ulcers because of it until she started to work on him. Now, Taylor usually brings on her ire anyway, just because everyone decided that her daddy having to leave the force to protect the girls from his family by taking it over again was going to make her turn too.  She proved everyone wrong by going past her old man and Flack's old man by leaps and bounds.  She had to sue the department to get her gold shield because she's female and her father.  Her father was one of the best detectives in this city during his tenure.  He made detective young and earned it.  His daughter had to fight for hers and she had earned it years before she got it.  Now, why do you think she's harming Messer?"

"She's always looking over his shoulder.  Always there just handing him stuff, watching him in the lab, instructing him on doing things.  He's a good CSI, he doesn't need that."

"Did you ever think she was enhancing his skills or teaching him new things he could use?  I know the first time they met she got him into a database we hadn't even thought to search for a case."  Lindsey glared at her.  "Also, I know that Catherine helped him on a very painful rape case, someone close to him.  No questions asked, she offered.  That's the sort of CSI she is.  It's like looking at Stella, only older and more mouthy, but now with a limp.  Catherine was one of the few people who made it to the academy at nineteen.  She once took on the Cardinal over her grades being tanked by the school's headmaster.  She's made some incredible cops through her mentoring, Monroe.  Including a gang member who changed sides so dramatically he went from fifth in line for the top dog spot in the Crypts to a supervisor just this last year."  She looked horrified at that. "He wanted it and she offered. We send her people like that kid all the time. The same as we send guys like Danny, who can do the job but something's stopping them.  She makes them into her adopted children and let's them fledge when they're ready.  Messer will make Level Three some year and she'll clap him on the back, give him a smile and a hug, and remind him when family dinners are.  That's her gift, getting the best out of her people."

Lindsey shook her head.  "She's not.  She's stressing Danny out horribly."

"No, Taylor is stressing Danny out horribly," she countered dryly.  "The same way he nearly sent Catherine to the mental ward with a breakdown by doing the same thing to her that he's doing to Messer.  Right now, she's what's best for him.  He's gained a lot of skill and confidence working with her.  It's good that she can pass on those skills to another generation.  Just like she did with her natural kids.  Because Gordon is still only sixteen, just like his twin sister."

"You can't tell me he's not trans-op," she scoffed.

"No, I can, but it's a genetic quirk from his biological father," she said patiently.  "His whole line has an extra sex chromosome and so does he.  He chose to be male when he was younger and they've upheld that for him.  Besides, I respect anyone who can graduate college at sixteen with a Masters in two different languages and their thesis was the link between them, one that's understandable by normal people.  Right now he's working on Korean from what I've heard.  He's a great cop, Lindsey, and it would be stupid and cruel to taunt her over how her son was born, especially since it came from his father.  Now, did you have any other concerns?"

"She's still hurting Danny.  They had a screaming match in the halls."

"Yeah, I heard.  That was to blow off stress.  She'll play along when he'll need it.  That's a Cavanaugh woman for you.  Her daughters are the same way.  Toni and Don got into a screaming match out in the alley a few weeks back when he was stressed, then she suddenly gave up and he realized what was going on so he hugged her.  They're all like that.  You could use the mentoring yourself.  Level Ones with mentors do better in the long run, and generally make it further up the chain.  That's why they assigned Taylor to her when she was barely a Level Two herself.  She was that lab for thirteen years, Monroe.  Yes, she's cocky and mouthy.  She comes by it naturally.  You see the same thing in Flack.  They grew up together so it's very natural."  She smiled gently.  "Now, do you have any other concerns?"

"Mac looked like he was going to cry when she got done with him earlier."

"Then it was probably something about his wife," Don said from behind her, looking at his boss.  "Gwen's in.  Catherine had to leave early to go with her.  She's having expansion pains?"

"Growing pains for the uterus," the lieutenant offered.  "She okay?"

"So far.  Catherine said it happened to her too but they're going for ice cream and to be checked over. She said she's got her cell if it's something important.  Messer's back with his suspect, fortunately they only lived about four blocks away and they were home. Lindsey, Mac's looking for you for a scene."  She stomped off.  Don shuddered a bit.  "I found her old journal last night and it had an entry about Claire, she told him today."

"I figured it had to do with his wife," she agreed quietly.  "He all right?"

"She had a biopsy a few weeks before she died," he offered. She nodded at that.  "I'm taking Sheldon and Danny to the range again this weekend.  Did anyone up here need to qualify?  I've got my paperwork in so I can do that if they need it."

"Taylor.  Benny does.  I need Timmy to be checked over too."  He nodded.  "Are you going to teach?"

"No, but she needed someone who could make sure all the techs requalify."  He grinned.  "She's still the better shot than I am."  He went back to his desk, pausing at Benny's.  "I'm doing range time this weekend.  You and Timmy need to qualify?" he asked quietly.  The other detective looked at him and nodded.  "I'm signed up to do that for the techs, I can do you two," he offered.  That got a small smirk.  "One less reason for her to spend long hours here.  Even if she was always the better shot."  He finished his trek to the desk.  "Ten, range?  That way you can both get in some practice?"  That got a few nods.  "Think this'll get me to the ballistics seminars this year?"

"If you want," Danny agreed as he came in.  "He is one, and boy did he just sing pretty," he said smugly.  "I like it when they're easy."  He handed him the signed confession the guy had written out.  "Who's out?"

"Mac and Lindsey."  He looked at him.  "She's still pushing it," he muttered.

Danny nodded.  "She's like one'a those little yappy dogs at times," he agreed dryly, going back to his lab to finish that case out and start on something else.

"That's putting it mildly," Don agreed bitterly.  He typed up the report and put it with the signed confession, then went to hand them to his boss.  "Messer'll bring up the forensic repots later, like usual."

"That's fine.  Do I have to send her copies?"

"Only if she asks so she can do the quality control stuff."

"Good.  One less place files have ta go."  She looked at him.  "Are you three okay?"

"Just fine.  Horatio's back at home now and we're good.  Why?  More stuff from Monroe?"

"Not yet, but there's a case from us in Miami."  He smirked and held out a hand.  "Think she'd want to go?"

"You know she'll want to go."

"Good.  Go meet your stepkids in the lab down there."  She handed over the notice.  "Bringhold died."

"Awwww, that was so nice of someone to cap our mafia hitter for us.  Whose case originally?"


"Deal."  He walked out.  "Hey, Benny, mind if I take Bringhold since he got capped in Miami?"

Benny smirked at him.  "Have fun and come back with a tan, Flack.  Taking the bitch with you?"

"If at all humanly possible.  Tell Timmy to listen for Toni going off again."  He gathered up everything he'd need and headed up to the labs, finding Danny in one.  "Catherine still upstairs?"

"Yeah, Gwen was still ranting, why?"

"Can you check on Toni now and then?  We're going to Miami on a crossover case."  Danny smirked at that.  "After our range time Saturday, Messer.  Can you maybe listen for the littler bitch to whine?"

"Yup, sure.  What's wrong with her?"

"Her slutty tendencies.  The nuns want Victorian style prom gowns and she's more a show than tell girl about her body so far."  That got a small smirk.  "It's bad.  They want necklines near the neck and sleeves.  Do you know how rare that is?"

"Yeah, and mostly it's for older women," he noted dryly.  "Think she'll go designer?"

"Probably and we've got an old buddy who could help her with that, but I don't think Catherine's called her yet.  So anyway, tomorrow morning, we're still on and then we're leaving for sun and capped mafia hitters."

Danny nodded.  "Have fun with that."

"You know, she was talking about her convention reservation in Austin not going to her this year," he offered quietly.

Danny nodded.  "So Mac told me.  I wanna look at what they're offering first.  If not me, then maybe Sheldon.  He could use it."  That got a grin.  "Go, talk to your bitch."

"Thanks, Messer."  He headed up there, tapping gently on her door.  "Horatio caught a crossover with us.  You wanna come with me?"  She smirked and nodded.  "Bringhold."


"Hitter got capped on his way to Brazil.  He was stopping in to have some fun first."

"Wonderful.  Sure.  Do I need to make travel arrangements?"

"I'll make sure.  I figured tomorrow after range practice?"  She nodded.  "You need ta go?"

"Not really.  I can go if you want me to."  She smirked at him. "Or I could drag Toni to Belynda's about her clothing issues."

He walked in and shut the door.  "You know she's got it bad for Danny, right?"  She sighed and nodded, leaning back to get comfortable.  "Have him take her to Matilda.  Let Matilda show her how to be less slutty and more hot.  Plus he'll reinforce the decisions and she'll preen and do it for him.  It'll be easier."

"That's not a bad idea but we should warn him."

"We can," he agreed.  He opened the door when Mac knocked.  "We caught a crossover."

"So you're taking her to see Horatio on the Bringhold case?" he asked dryly.  Don smirked and nodded.  "That's fine with me.  Can we talk, Catherine?  I've got a personnel problem and I need some advice."



"Ah.  Yeah, I've noticed that.  Someone told me it's like Danny's her kid and you're her mate."  He shook his head. "Sheldon's noticed her crush too."

"I noticed, that means it's severe," he offered, sitting down.  "How do I stop this?"

"For now, you don't work with her," she offered.  "You let her know that you've noticed she's not exactly objective about your mentoring.  Give her to Stella to work with for a few months.  Don't go back to stiffly formal with her, but just don't be quite as approachable.  Remember what you used ta do to Ronnie in Fingerprints when she got that crush?  Same thing."  He nodded at that, relaxing some.  "She got onto me in the halls and I corrected the assumptions then pointed out she should have come to me up here or outside the station so that no one would go watch Danny over this."

"She complained about you to the Lieutenant too," Don told her.  "And Danny."

Mac looked at him.  "You listened?"

"Yup.  After the gossip about the fight in the halls?  Hell yeah.  She thinks Kate's undermining Danny by working with him so often and treating you like a toddler."

"Well, I can't say as she doesn't talk down to me but I've come to expect it from her anyway," Mac said, standing up again.  "You think this'll work?"

"Yup.  And let Stella know if she doesn't already," she advised.  "That way she can work on the 'interoffice relationships are bad' lines before she has to use 'em."

"You two are the only two I've seen make it work and you're not really working with him," Mac admitted. "Thank you.  Should I fill out a complaint and leave it in my desk?"

"Not yet. People snoop in desks, including janitors, and I'd rather not have the gossip starting yet.  Also, let's do a background on her."  Mac nodded and Don smirked.  "You have?" she asked patiently.  He nodded.  "Can I have it?"  He shook his head.  "Then give it to Mac as soon as you can."

"Sure."  He smirked at Mac.  "It's real enlightening in some spots.  You're not the first crush."

"Oh, good."  He nodded.  "Wonderful even.  So I just go on with it and work around the problem?"

"If she's making you uncomfortable, tell her," she advised.  "I'm not comfortable with this conversation/topic/whatever.  Don't try for subtlety.  Be kinda blunt and like me."  He nodded and smirked a bit.  "Just don't growl at her, she might find that cuter.  She did when you did it at Stella earlier.  I caught her giving you a 'cute puppy' look."  He shuddered and walked off.  She looked at him.  "When did you do this?"

"When she came in and tried ta take Danny's place and show him up the first time, and then intruded on Mac's free time playing bass."

"She did what?" Mac called, coming back.  "When?"

"After the guitar case she found out where you go when you go and she brought Danny there to prove to him he doesn't know you as well as he thinks he does."

He shook his head.  "There's a reason I don't tell you guys that stuff."

"Yeah, well, I had a beer in there one night and caught it by accident.  I haven't been back since.  That's clearly your way of destressing."

"Thank you.  Catherine?"

"Stalking is bad," she agreed.  "Be blunt but kind.  Be firm, and be somewhat avoidant if possible."  He nodded, going back to the elevator since it was finally there.  She looked at Don.  "Watch out for that."

"I have been.  She's been trying to move Danny out of his niche and take it over.  She's a climber."

"Good, ambition is usually good, but I'm not going to let the lab be ripped apart by ambition for a promotion."  He nodded at that.  "Okay, go see if we have travel arrangements, get me the case file so I can review it on the plane, and I'll call Matilda and then Danny."  He nodded and walked out smiling.  She called her former friend.  "Matilda, Catherine Cavanaugh.  Yeah, long time.  No, daughter issues. Are you still designing?  Because my youngest looks like a ho.  Literally.  No, what we were thinking is that she's got a massive crush on my newest mentoree and she's got prom coming up.  I was hoping to use your common sense and his common sense to make my poor youngest daughter sane and less slutty looking.  Hot is fine, cheap alley way blow isn't.  No, as in she walked out wearing one of those spandex miniskirts this morning and a halter top.  Yeah, classic street ho.  Thank you.  Anytime tomorrow afternoon good for you?"  She smiled.  "Even better.  Thanks, dear."  She hung up and called Danny.

"It's me.  No, not case related so sit for two.  No, Toni related."  She heard the sigh and chuckled.  "So I take it you've noticed her crush?  Well, exposure can defeat girlhood crushes. She needs wardrobe help badly and I have a friend who designs clothes.  So I was kinda hoping you could take her there, encourage her to get less slutty looking things, and give the crush a death blow.  I wouldn't mind having you as a son-in-law, Danny, but it might get awkward at breakfast at times."  She grinned at his snort and groan.  "Please?  Tomorrow afternoon?  I'll pay for everything, all you have to do is push a bit toward less slutty.  Hot is fine, slutty and street ho aren't.  This way she gets to see the real you and can figure out it's not what she really wants.  Hopefully.  Well, we both know this idea has backfired in the past.  Please?  Thank you.  No, we're heading down on a crossover case around then.  Don's making arrangements for us.  Thank you.  Of course.  I'll get her one of those prepaid Visa cards and hand it to Don in the morning so he can give it to you on the range.  And hey, if we need more CSI support, you're first on my list to be called, okay?"  She smiled.

"Thank you, Danny.  I owe you one.  No, I wouldn't care, but I also know that she's not seeing reality on her part.  If you like her, be honest with me.  It'll be awkward when you and Don meet at the cereal cabinets some mornings, but if that's what makes you both happy then we'll see."  She smiled.  "Thanks, man."  She hung up and called Don's phone, getting his voicemail.  "We've got to hit the bank on the way home.  Don't be too late."  She hung up and got back to work.  Paperwork waited for no woman.


Danny walked Toni into the shop that had been given to him, smiling at the woman in there.  "Hi.  Danny Messer and Toni Cavanaugh?"

"Her mother called.  She mentioned the prom and some regular clothing issues?"  She looked the girl over.  "You're really not dressing to impress, dear."

"I thought she looked like a common whore," Danny agreed dryly.

"I do not!" Toni complained.  He opened the door and pointed at the ones across the street, who were wearing about the same outfit.  She blushed and closed the door.  "I just wanna look hot and good. Is that a crime?"

"No, just the way you're doing it.  You can look hot in any number of ways," the designer pointed out.  "You've got the body to be hot in a guy's button-up shirt and shorts, or in a business suit that's tailored just right, or even a decent formal gown.  Now, what did you want for prom and what's the restrictions?"

"I liked this one," she said, handing over the photos she had taken of the gown itself and of her in it.  "This is what the school gave us."  She handed over the clothing boundaries sheet.

"So, you think you want to look like a lounge singer?"  She looked at her then shook her head, looking at the boundaries.  "Okay, we can do this.  You're not the first from this school that I've seen.  Another of your mother's former college buddies has her daughter there too."

"Got any good gossip I can use as blackmail at work?" Danny offered.

"Oh, I *so* have her and Flack nailed if I ever need to blackmail them," she assured him happily.  "Donny used to be a 'try it' guy.  He'd try everything if it was offered."  Danny's mouth fell open.  "Yeah.  She was his partner even back then and she always had his back to make sure he was okay and safe, but yeah.  Like the time his sister got given heroin by her boyfriend.  She was starting to OD when Steph called Catherine to help her. Pure panic.  We were at the club.  She took Donny back and dosed her with stuff to get her back down and keep her from ODing.  Then they talked to Steph a lot the next day.  Donny had just barely started college.  Katie was a rookie cop.  Donny beat the shit out of her boyfriend for giving it to her, then Katie arrested the guy.  On the arrest report it said very simply 'he gave Detective Don Flack Sr.'s daughter heroin'.  That's all it needed to say.  No one mentioned a bruise.  No one thought about the bruises he had.  No one asked her if she did it.  Her Watch Commander did ask if he got bruised before or after he was in cuffs and she said it was before she placed him under arrest.  She hadn't broken up the fight since she didn't want to get between them and get hurt since she was without backup as an officer."  Danny closed his mouth and swallowed.  She nodded and smirked.  "She and Donny have always been very tight.  She's the reason he got such good grades in school and college."

"Uncle Donny's plenty smart," Toni told her.

"He is, but he's a hands-on guy, not a lecture sort," Matilda told her.  "Lectures and classes put him to sleep.  I was in the same graduating class as he was, dear. He and your mother pulled a lot of all nighters where she helped him study for tests.  She's also the one who gave him his first beer and shot too."  Toni just gaped.  She smirked. "Seriously.  Your grandfather Flack told her to watch his back, keep him from being arrested if it was stupid or illegal, and make sure he made it home okay in the end.  That's what she did.  Which is why your mother sent you to me instead of my ex, Belynda."  Toni just nodded.  "Now, you want hot, we can do hot and sultry. We can do hot and sexy, or hot and pouty, or even hot and smart.  We are not doing slutty any longer, young lady.  Come with me.  Mr. Messer...."

"Danny, please.  Her mother's my mentor in the labs."

"Good.  Catherine loves the lab.  It's her sanity.  She used to spend extra time in high school chemistry just to be closer to the chemicals.  A few people wondered if she'd end up making drugs instead of working for the PD. She had it in her to do that."

"Illegal or legal?" Toni asked.

"Your mother could probably mix up a batch of anything illegal she ever wanted, even when she was your age, young lady.  You notice she doesn't?"  She led her back to the back area.  "Come on, Danny.  I've got a comfy chair so you can watch and give opinions."

"Thank you."  He followed her back, looking around the shop.  He had no idea those two had been the life of the party in their youth.  "Did they do the hard-core clubs too?  I heard something about a club called Hardware the other day."

"Oh, yeah.  Kate used to play at being a domme. She was very good at it, but didn't have the patience with the kids."  Toni gave her a horrified look. "Yeah, you nearly ended up wearing leather diapers."

"Eww."  Matilda smiled.  "Can you fix it so he drools?" she asked quietly.  "I'd like that."

"I'll see what I can do.  How much did she send you with?"

"Three grand."  She handed over the card.

"Good enough. For that I can definitely redo your wardrobe."  She took down a few things and handed them to her.  "Go ahead and try those on. You're a size eight, right?"  She nodded.  "Then they shouldn't need too much fitting.  After all, the details are what makes the look in their eyes."  That got a nod and the girl went into the changing room.  She got Danny a soda.  "Here.  Range time today?  You smell like gunpowder."

"Yeah, I had ta qualify, Don took me and a few others."  He popped the soda open.  "She wore that outfit into the station earlier," he offered quietly.  "Someone thought Don was going to arrest her."

"Her mother might but Don's not that subtle.  He'd have yelled.  He's good at it."  She went to find some other things and bring them to the girl, then got to work on the prom dress.  Those restrictions were pretty tight but she could do something with it.  The right fabric and tailoring would make up for the neckline clause and sleeves.


Catherine smiled at the receptionist at Horatio's office. "Is Lieutenant Caine in or on a scene?" she asked quietly.  "We're from New York on the Bringhold case."

"Let me check, ma'm."  Catherine held up her badge.  "Sorry, detectives."  She called his office, which switched to his cell. "Lieutenant, you've got two detectives here on the Bringhold case?"  She smiled and handed over the phone.  "He wants to talk to you, detective."

"Horatio, it's us.  They got sneaky and offered it to Don.  Want us to drop our stuff off?"  She smirked at Don.  "Okay, we'll wait the hour instead since you think traffic's so bad.  Yup, we'll be good and not startle anyone.  See you soon."  She hung up and smiled at her.  "Where can we wait?"

"There's some very nice benches by the windows," she offered, pointing at them.  "They're comfortable enough for CSI Delko to take a nap on after hours."  That got a grin from Don.  "Do you know him too?"

"No, but we've worked with Horatio in the past so we've heard about his kids."  He led her over there so they could go over the case again.


Horatio hung up and looked around.  "I've got to head back to the lab," he said.  Frank Tripp, the detective on this case, gave him a sideways look.  "We've just gotten the detectives from New York about Bringhold."

"Gotta love it when they send someone down to see who capped their mafia guy," Calleigh said from where she was taking pictures of a footprint.  "Who is it?"

"Cavanaugh and Flack."

"Cavanaugh, the one who came down on that serial case?" Frank asked.  Horatio nodded.  "Wow.  It's been years since she was here."

"She was down for my brother's funeral, Frank," he chided gently.  "She's the brunette who was next to me."

"Oh, holy shit, she's your girlfriend!" he said, suddenly connecting the clues.  "She's the crossover?"

"They probably sent her because of that fact," Eric said from where he was searching the body for trace.  He looked at his boss with a grin.  "Do we get to meet Catherine this time?  When you came back last time you had this really sweet and goofy grin, H."

"You did," Calleigh agreed happily.  "I've got to meet the woman who made you have that smile.  Which you have again," she assured him.

Horatio schooled his features.  "Ask Frank.  She was down here a few years back on a serial case and he worked with her a bit then."  He walked off, going to his hummer.  The smile reappeared when he got in and it was a good thing that he had time to calm down before they got together.

Frank looked at them.  "She is the bitch in the labs," he told them.  "She ran Taylor's lab before he did and trained him.  She knows her shit and then some."

"Horatio said someone just got named Oversight over them," Calleigh told him. "Think it's the same one?"

"I'm wondering if it's the same one that's doing the Continuing Education with us," Eric told her.  She looked at him, mouth slightly open. "You didn't get the memo?  It was in our boxes when I came in.  Horatio didn't know he had to file paperwork so he wanted us to bring him descriptions from any classes and conferences we had attended for her.  Plus it included the tentative schedule of CE stuff New York was doing that we could video conference in for."

"Wow.  I got called from home.  Was there anything good?"

"They're behind too," Frank said dryly.  "I saw the list.  There's years worth of stuff on there."

"Yup, and it looked like she was going to have the techs teach the hours," Eric told her.  "Plus there was one over a weekend for a practical exercise in the woods."

"I wouldn't mind getting into some woods again," she admitted.  "Think we could go?"

"That would depend on who had call that weekend," Frank reminded them.  "I know Horatio will if at all possible."

"A whole weekend with his girl doing what they both love?  Yeah, me too," Eric agreed happily.  "What's she like otherwise?"

"Remember the surveillance detail on Horvats a few years back?" Frank asked.  They both nodded, they had worked part of that on the recordings.  "Those kids who went are her kids.  Apparently her best friend, who is now Detective Flack, broke them up when he found out what he was.  When they came down on that serial case, they stayed in his guest house to save money.  New York gave them nothing for a housing allowance.  As I remember it, she was fiercely protective of what's hers, and she's a feisty little brunette that could hold some beer in her youth.  She got injured on that case and Horatio got his gold badge out of it."

"Wow," Calleigh said.  "So Yelina knows her?"

"Yeah, pretty well."  He pulled out his phone to call her since she was back at the station.  "It's Frank.  Did you hear that they sent down two detectives from New York on the Bringhold case?"  He smirked.  "At least Cavanaugh."  He stopped and listened. "Oh, really?  I hadn't heard that yet.  Interesting.  No, I won't tell the two begging ones with me anything about that.  Let them meet them first.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "The faster we do this, the faster you guys get to be nosy at the lab."  They got back to work and he smirked at Alexx as she came up.  "Cavanaugh and Flack are down on the Bringhold thing."

"Wonderful," she said happily. "Horatio's going to be in a good mood."

"She's doing our CE stuff," Eric called.

"I saw the memo, Eric."  She smiled at him.  "We'll be seeing a lot more of the happy Horatio, and possibly some frustration when he can't get up there for a bit."  She came over to look at the body.

Frank snorted.  "That's an understatement, but they're doing a practical thing in the woods."

"He said she owned this great house in the woods," Alexx agreed happily.  They shared a smile.  The techs were in for a big shock when they got nearer to Catherine.


Don looked up at the squeal, getting up and hugging Yelina. "You grow prettier with absence," he teased, then let Catherine have her.  "Horatio's on his way back."

"Traffic is horrible, it's a game day," she assured them, hugging Catherine.  She looked at the cane, then at her.  "When did that happen?"

"About six months after the funeral.  Perp kicked my knee the wrong direction too hard during an interview while I was in homicide."  She noticed the curious onlooker and took stock of him the same way he was doing of them.  "So, you're one of Horatio's kids," she noted dryly.  "I'd say Ryan by the description he gave us."

He walked over and held out a hand.  "Ryan Wolfe.  You are?"

"CSI Cavanaugh and Detective Don Flack from New York," Don said, shaking his hand.  "Bringhold case."

"Oh.  Okay.  I can have it pulled if you want.  That way you can look at what we have."

"Horatio's on his way in and I wouldn't want to make you late to a call," Catherine offered with a small grin.  "I know my boss used ta hate it when I did that in the field."

"I'm actually heading home for the day.  So if you want, it's overtime for me."

"Sure," Don agreed, grinning and taking Yelina's arm.  "Did you realize Toni and Ray Jr. are chatting after hours?"

"I had seen a few odd phone bills," she admitted, smiling at Catherine.  "What are you doing now?  Homicide again?  Horatio said you got moved back to Don's precinct."

"I just got named Oversight and QC over all of the city's labs," she said proudly.  "I'm also fixing yours and our continuing ed problems."

"I saw that memo," Ryan offered.  "Are we doing it by video conferencing?"

"Or you can come up if you want to do any in person," she offered. "I wasn't sure if you guys had the budget for it or not, but I know you've got an empty meeting room and some spare video equipment for the weekends.  There is a practical exercise that you'd have to come up for if you wanted that.  It's going to be a hunt in the woods and taking you outside your usual comfort areas.  An easy way to gain trust and ease with your team and others who do the same work.  Did I do your CE paperwork for stuff you've had and didn't get to claim yet?"

"I only had the one and it's probably on his desk. I dropped it off there earlier."  He opened a lab door and let them in.  "Let me get that case."  He went to pull it up for them and get the evidence.  When he got back, the three detectives were chatting like old friends.  He put the box down. "This is only from the homicide.  There was a question about whether or not he was down here working."

"He was fleeing from the country but he stopped off for a few days," Don said, exchanging folders with him.  "That's what he was recently charged with and his full record, including juvie stuff."

Ryan pulled out a stool to sit and read.  "He wasn't a minor guy by any means if you caught him this often."

"No, he was more stupid and careless," Catherine told him.  "I put his suspected-in-doing list in there too. Did you come straight to CSI from the Academy?"

"No, I did patrol and then went back to college," he said, looking at her. "You?"

"College, Academy, undercover assignment, and then CSI for thirteen years before they decided I needed a break.  Not that I didn't do it anyway while I was working Homicide and SVU."  She shrugged when Don smirked and nodded at that.  "Hey, it saved them work and kept me saner.  It's not like I wanted to deal with the old, white guy parade that was my homicide posting."  She looked at Yelina.  "I was youngest there by at least two decades.  The only female to sit at their hallowed desks.  They had driven off their last minority detective.  The Chief wanted me to retire badly."

"When she did good there, they moved her to SVU," Don agreed dryly.  Yelina moaned at that.  "Yeah, so, lots and lots of problems after they took her out of the lab for her safety and sanity."

Catherine looked at him.  "I would have gladly sent Taylor to another lab."

"We know but he needed that one.  He had more contacts and they used you to find out what complaints there were about the other labs," Don reminded her.  "The more you bitched out the Queens' lab, the more it got fixed.  Remember?"

"I remember doing the fixing mostly.  I swear, my first week in homicide was spent weeding out the idiot techs and those who were drunk, Yelina."  She nodded, patting her on the hand.  "How is your son?"

"Good.  Doing well in school.  Happy enough with the girl he's trying to date.  He's bordering on stalking her at the moment while he works up the nerve to ask her out, but that's normal for a teenager.  How's Toni?  Gordon hasn't talked about her recently."

"You're Gordon's mother?" Ryan asked, blinking at her.  "Wow.  Did you send him down here to Horatio to work with him?"

"Gordon's only had a few excellent male rolemodels and he liked Horatio more than Don so he made that decision and told us," she told him, shrugging a bit.  "My baby boy is every bit as stubborn as my girls are."  She grinned at Yelina.  "Toni's been having a sluttiness problem so we had my new mentoree, Danny Messer, take her to a buddy who designs clothes since she's got a bit of a crush on him," she offered sheepishly.  "That way he can show her what looks good on her, and she gets a taste of the real guy so she can get over her crush.  Hopefully. Otherwise it'll be really odd the first few times he and Don meet at the cereal boxes in the morning."  Don moaned and shook his head, moving away from her.  "Sorry, Don."

"No more thoughts like that, please?"

"You two are married?" Ryan asked.

"Not exactly," Horatio said as he came in.  "I see you've already pulled the case for them.  Thank you, Mr. Wolfe."  He hugged Catherine and Don, smiling at them.  "Have a good flight?"

"Yup, and we left Toni in Danny's hands with a designer."  He smiled at that.  "No, she was wearing a very short spandex miniskirt, that blue one, and a halter top.  She went street ho this morning, Horatio."

He smiled and nodded.  "She has that problem now and then.  You sent her with Danny?"

"She's got a crush on him.  This way she figures out what the real guy is like and she has a good judge of pretty and hot from his looks."  She grinned.  "It should work to wear out her fascination with him."  She winked at him, then grinned at Yelina.  "Your son there has the folder we brought down.  I notice he got taken in the club parking lot.  Is it mafia related?"

"Not that we could find," Ryan said, looking at her. "No obvious ties or indication that any of the local people hang out there.  Was he into the club scene up there?"

"Mostly he went for the bathroom action," Don told him.  "That's how we arrested him this time, balls deep in some young girl out for a cheap thrill."  Ryan blushed a bit at that.  "Sorry, we're pretty blunt around the office at home."

"Calling it like it was leaves no room for interpretation or odd thinking," Catherine agreed.  She looked at Horatio.  "You might want to call Mac.  Lindsey's got a crush on him. She's protesting how I treat him and Danny."

"You treat them both how I'd expect," he noted calmly.  "Is it that bad?"

"She went to my lieutenant about it," Don told him dryly.  Horatio shook his head.  "Fortunately she knew some of the background."

"She faced me down in the middle of the hallways by DNA," Catherine told him.  "Told me I was undermining Danny by treating him like a kid, and that I was condescending to Mac."

"I can agree with the later, but you're teaching Danny, aren't you?" he asked.  She nodded.  He sighed and shook his head.  "I didn't much work with Aiden when I was up there, and she came later, but I can't say as I'd put up with it."

"We're weaning her of it now," Don assured him.  "So, any indication of him hitting the local talent?"

"There was," Ryan admitted. "One girl saw the body and said very loudly, 'oh, my god, and I just sucked him off'," he imitated with a smirk, "to the patrol officer taking names and statements."  He got back to reading, shaking his head.  "If he was heading for Brazil, why didn't he wait until he hit Rio?  I hear they've got some excellent clubs and brothels down there."  Yelina gave him a look.  "Articles on Carnivale," he offered sheepishly.  "Besides, any big city has them."

She nodded. "Rio has more than it's fair share."

"He was a borderline Klan member," Don told them with a bright grin.  "He only liked 'em Nordic or redheads. Smaller, tight bodies, small chests, and blondes or redheads."

"Which is so shallow of a viewpoint," she complained.  Catherine shook her head.  "If you're going to appreciate the opposite sex and have a preference, the tighter you make it the less chance you have of scoring."

"Catherine, male sex metaphors coming out of your mouth are still creepy," Don reminded her, patting her on the back.  "Please quit before you embarrass poor Yelina.  Or Horatio."

"Sorry, dears."

"It's the truth," Yelina said with a shrug.

Horatio smiled and shook his head.  "Her bluntness is her best feature."

"I thought it was how I gave neck rubs," she said, giving him a look before going back over the evidence.  "How many DNA saliva samples did we weed out?"

"Three," Ryan offered, grinning at her. "The DNA tech wanted to know if he knew what a condom was."

"The arresting detective's trainee twitted him on those and his words were something to the effect of 'that's for guys who have stuff'," Don said blandly.  "Again, not real bright of him.  I'm surprised there's only three."

"He was only in there for two hours," Ryan offered.  "Straight off the plane into a cab and there."

"Did this guy take viagra to do that?" Yelina demanded.

"No, guys like that are compensating for having no style and only being able to go for five seconds," Catherine told her.

"At least you don't have to worry about that," Frank said from the doorway. "Cavanaugh and Flack, and no kids?"

"Gwen's only six months along, Frank," she noted dryly, holding out an arm.  He came over and gave her a hug.  "Thank you, baldly.  Did a perp rip it out by the handful?"

"What about you, limp along," he teased with a smirk.

"No, mine was a perp.  Kicked my knee the wrong direction.  I keep getting pinned by these big, heavy assholes of guys."  Don gave her a look. "I do!"

"You do.  And you keep getting hurt, which pisses the rest of us off, Catherine," he noted dryly.  "Please quit that."

"Please," Horatio agreed.  "I don't need another bedside vigil."  She smiled and gave his hand a squeeze.  "Thank you."  He looked at Frank.  "Are they done?"

"Yup, heading to log evidence as we speak.  So, what's this about Bringhold?  Boy was a slut."

"Who had no stamina, style, or brains," Catherine agreed.  She pointed at something.  "Ryan, about the bullet.  Any matches?  It's not in here."

"Calleigh said no.  She's got it for reference."  He shrugged.  "Can't always be lucky."

"No, we can't," she sighed.  "I haven't been that good this life."  Ryan smiled at that and sat up, putting the folder on the table.  "Okay, I'm seeing one of two possibilities.  It's related to his career or it's related to his slut tendencies.  Do we have any indication of another motive?"

"Not that I can see," Ryan told her.  He noticed someone staring.  "Stetler's back."

She smiled and waved.  "Oh, come on in, Detective Stetler.  We're down on the Bringhold case."

"Wonderful.  No PDA in the lab," he sneered.

She looked at where she was still holding Horatio's hand, then let it go and shrugged. "Sorry, he was creeped out with the thought of me getting hurt protecting your mangy ass this time.   Unlike last time, when it was an officer who deserved my respect and protection."  He stomped off.  "Cunt."

"Catherine," Horatio warned.

"Sorry, calling it like I see it.  Not like he has a set."  She got back to work.

"Just think, she's over allll the labs now," Don said fondly, smirking at him.

"I noticed," Horatio agreed dryly. "Some days I almost feel sorry for some of them."

"She could always come down here where it's warm," Frank suggested smugly.

"Then we'd be on different shifts since I'd take over the nightshift position," Catherine said, glancing back at him.  "Not exactly conducive, Frank.  Thanks anyway though."

"Heat and humidity make her crankier," Don told him.  "Don't wish that on your city.  The old mafia families used ta go in hiding when she got that cranky as a CSI."  Yelina burst out giggling.  "Not kidding.  If she got called on a homicide on days like you guys had the last time we were down here to work, she got crankier and the suspects sometimes cried.  We got a lot of different crimes but the true underworld hated her being cranky."

"I liked that slight drop in crime back in '88 when they thought I was pregnant again," she noted dryly.  "No non-relationship homicides in my district for a week when your father thought I was."  They shared a look and Don shuddered.  "Yeah, so let's not go there or wish that on Miami."

Horatio nodded.  "Thank you."

"My father is still vowing to come down here to retire," Don assured him with a sweet grin.  "He said he'd be the conduit between us if you hadn't retired by then."

"Don't wish that on our city either," Horatio said blandly, staring him down.  "Please."

"Better you than me and the grandkid rant," he shot back, blowing a kiss.  "So, we got a jealous spouse or jilted lover who got disappointed he didn't reciprocate?"

"Possibly.  Either that or they decided he was a liability and snuck someone into his lineup that night and did him that way.  Autopsy report said he was stabbed ten minutes before he died probably.  Inner thigh so he had to have known.  Did he flee the club or casually walk out, Ryan?"

"Reports said he fled like there was someone chasing him for doing their girlfriend but no one saw anyone chasing him," he offered.  "With his past history, anything is possible."

"With his past history, anything but the demonic is possible," she corrected.  "Some things he was too smart to dabble in."  She turned the page.  "Drugs was not one of them.  Eightball in his system, Don."  She pointed at it and he grimaced.  "So he was flying well.  Probably less pain but the realization of what happened.  Can't say as I blame someone.  If I remember right, the last time I ran into him he wasn't exactly a bather."

"Benny and Timmy said he had taken a recent one and looked clean.  Refused to do up his pants too.  Timmy had to do them up for him so he wouldn't trip on the way to the squad car."  She snickered at that.  "Do we have any suspects?"  Everyone shook their heads.  "Then at least we get a small vacation while we work on this."

"The Mayor wants me back by Friday but I can do the meeting via phone," she noted.  "Horatio, did you get the second list I faxed?  The first had errors."

"I did. I included it in a memo today."  He looked at Don.  "Are you two staying in my spare room?"

Don punched him on the arm. "That's why we love you, Horatio, you believe in turnabout being fair play."  Horatio gave him a tiny smirk for that.  "Where's the son?"

"Downtown today.  I didn't even think to call him and tell him you're here."

She pulled out her cell and hit a number without having to look.  "Baby, we're down on a case.  Yup, here now."  She hung up on the squealing.  "Sorry, he's excited.  He's learning to swear in Mandarin today from one of the officers and a gang member."  Her phone went back in her pocket. "Did any one get the names of who blew him in the bathroom?"

"We got one and we have the club's security tapes," Ryan offered.  "We're still trying to see if we can identify the third one.  The second was identified but she's on a ship.  Coast Guard on leave."  That got a sigh and a nod.  "We've called about talking to her and they said they'd get her back here within the week since we couldn't be sure she was involved or a material witness."

"That's fine," Don agreed. "Even if she has ta leave, I can stay for a few extra days."  That got a grin from Yelina.  "But only if I get the good brownies this time."

"Of course," she assured him, pinching him on the cheek.  "I'll make a batch of that and the fudge tonight." Catherine moaned.  "That way she can soak in the hot tub and have some."  She left the room with a, "I'd better get back to work before rumor spread that I'm with Horatio again.  Call me when you have something."

"You'll be second," Catherine called after her.  "I love her fudge," she said with a goofy grin for Horatio.  "Can we hog the hottub tonight?"

"If you want," he agreed.  "It's supposed to be a very pretty night to watch the ocean."  She blushed a bit and got back to work.  "Frank, any ID on the body yet?"

"His wallet said Franklin Ortega-Jones."

"Kid of a mixed marriage or changed it?" Catherine asked absently.

"Mixed marriage.  His stepfather adopted him from what Eric found on the ride back through the system.  He worked in our Computer Tech department, Horatio.  So expect a few calls."

"I always do, Frank.  Keep me in the loop please."  That got a nod and Frank left them alone.  "Behave," he whispered in her ear.

She gave him her most shit-eating grin.  "I always *try*, Horatio, you know that.  I'm not going to usurp unless I can't help myself.  You've seen the urge to jump in and help up close and personal before."

"I have," he agreed dryly.  "Try."  She nodded and went back to her studying.  "Don, did you want a tour?  We remodeled just a few years back."

"I could stand that.  Let these two speak Geek at each other.  Then again, she wanted to meet your kids."

"Most of my kids are in today.  You've met Ryan, he's the quiet one," he noted dryly, making Ryan snort and shake his head.  "Compared to Eric you are."

"Compared to Eric, teenagers can be, Horatio."

"Good point."  He led Don out, only letting his hand brush her back and butt as he walked past her.  Don got to steal a real pinch.

"So, how many years have you known Horatio?"

"Since I was twenty five and Don was twenty-three.  His first serial and my first crossover case. A year and a half after he joined up and my sixth."

"You graduated the academy at nineteen?"

She smiled at him.  "After doing a double major in chem and biology for my undergrad.  I did my masters starting when I was pregnant with the twins and presented my thesis right after that case.  Horatio proofread it for me and helped me design my presentation."

"Wow.  How old did you graduate high school?"

"Sixteen.  I got skipped twice."

"You did a double major in three year?"

"Two and a half. I went at the end of my nineteenth year."  She smiled at him. "It was the premed track at Columbia.  They had it worked out for the ambitious and doing twenty- one or twenty-four hours a semester except the summers, and then doing max then, paid off.  I got my gold at twenty-eight. Almost ten years now."

"Wow.  Are you going to retire at twenty years?"

"Probably not.  It depends on how bad my knee and back are at that time and what's going on in my life.  With a grandchild on the way," she sighed, "it might be necessary."

"I know Gordon's sixteen.  How old is your other one?"

"Toni's his twin and they've got an older sister, Gwen.  She came when I was twenty.  She's about six months along now."  He looked stunned.  "Yeah, her rookie year.  She had to sue Austin over their policies about it so she's working SVU in Manhattan right now."

"Wow.  Does the other one want to join us?"

"No, she wants to be pretty and popular.  She didn't want skipped more than a year and made sure of it after that first time.  She's presently angsting over the prom and things."  She shrugged.  "She'll be whatever she wants.  Maybe business or med school."  She got back to work, hearing the chattering in the halls.  "The other kids?"

"Yup, the other kids.  Alexx, get the other two and smack them on the head," he called.

Alexx squealed like a little girl and came in to hug Catherine.  "I heard you and Donny were down, baby!"  She pushed her back to look at her.  "Oooh, you look tired."

"Gwen's six months pregnant and I'm now Oversight, QC, and CE for the labs."  She laughed and hugged her again.  "Ooh, I missed you, Alexx.  You'd enjoy the hell out of New York if we could poach you."  She got free.  "Remember Sheldon?  Your former trainee that you recommended?"  She smiled and nodded. "He decided to leave the morgue and is doing field tech now."

"That stupid little boy.  I'll call him later."  She patted her on the cheek. "Get a tan, baby, you need it.  You're pale and too skinny."

"Don cooked last night," she shared with a wicked grin.  Alexx chuckled and hugged her again.  She smiled over her shoulder.  "Hi, I'm Catherine Cavanaugh."

Alexx let her go.  "Eric Delko and Callie Dusquene, Catherine Cavanaugh, CSI extraordinare.  She ran New York's lab that Taylor has now for ten years."  They smiled and shook her hands.  "Where is the other son?"

"Taking the tour with Horatio."

"Uh-huh.  We'll see about that.  Come see me tomorrow, baby.  We'll swap pictures of our babies."  She pinched her on the cheek and went to find the other adopted kid.  Don squealed and hugged her before she had a chance to.

She grinned at Eric and Calleigh. "Horatio talked about his kids quite a few times.  I hear you were going to mount a rescue the last time he was up, Eric?"

"He didn't check in.  We worry about H.  He gets into trouble."

"No more than I do," she assured him. "It's the telling factor of the best CSI that were ever born, we're always in the middle of something."  Calleigh laughed at that and nodded.  "See, she understands."

"Then Eric should be great some day," Ryan said with a grin.

"I'm good," he defended.

"I remember working a fire at a club," he started.  Eric glared at him so he grinned. "Weren't you there?"

"Yes, unfortunately I was."  He shook his head. "Ignore him.  So, any leads coming down?"

"It's either where he was a slut and someone didn't like it or it's from his choice of career as far as I can tell," she offered.  "You can look."  They came in to help.  "All done on your last body?"

"Everything's running," Calleigh told her.  "I couldn't find a match anywhere to the bullet."

"Yeah, but that's not what killed him," she said, pointing at the autopsy report.  "That's what killed him and it's a dagger by the traits.  Double edged blade and small.  Maybe a bodice dagger or something like a boot knife."

"Which is what you'd expect in a stabbing at a club.  The clothes leave little concealing areas," Eric told her with a grin.

"Oh, I remember my own wild youth.  I closed down many a club in New York before I joined the Academy, dear.  Trust me. I've been places that make Horatio blush as bright as his hair."  That got another giggle from Ryan.  "Seriously. I used to hang at a lot of the leather bars."  She got back into it with them, Calleigh pointing out a similarity to something that had happened when their victim/criminal had been younger.

Horatio and Don came back.  "Are we working on this one while everything else runs?" Horatio asked.  Eric looked at him and nodded.  "Have we checked on the results yet?"

"We told everyone to page us," Callieigh said with a bright smile. "It's not often we get competent people from other cities coming in to help us, Horatio.  We wanted to work with her."  She smiled at Don.  "Hi, Calleigh Dusquene."

"Horatio's said a lot about you being so good in ballistics," he offered, shaking her hand.  "Don Flack."

"Wow.  I'm guessing the younger unless our Fountain of Youth moved?"  He smirked and nodded.  "I've heard great things about your solve rate, Don.  Do you mind if I use your first name?"

"Not a problem, Calleigh. Did you hear about the serial the last time we came down to work?"

"Not really but some.  Mostly thirdhand. Serials have a special methodology all their own that sometimes drives me nuts."

"All great CSIs are always a bit there anyway," Don assured her with a grin.  "It lets you guys see the stuff the rest of us miss and think in those special ways that drive the regular joes nuts."  She giggled and punched him on the arm.  "Well, not quite as hard as Catherine usually hits, but okay."  He punched her back with a smirk.  "I grew up with her.  She said it was okay to hit back."

"Can we keep him, Horatio?" she pleaded.  "Both of them?"

"I'd have to take over the nightshift and that would piss him off," Catherine said dryly.  "Then you'd get a grumpy Horatio stomping around most of the time."

"Which is best avoided," Eric agreed, looking at her, then at their boss.  Almost no one got away with teasing Horatio Caine, except his sister-in-law.  So there was something deeper going on there, even though it seemed like the other guy was paying her a lot of attention.  Maybe he and Alexx needed to have a talk.  "Are we having any luck with identifying who the DNA samples might belong to?" he asked Ryan.

"We're trying really hard on the third.  We've got the second but she's on a ship at the moment.  The Coast Guard is saying she'll be back in a week and can answer questions then."  He looked at him then smirked. "Catherine's going to be a grandmother soon and she graduated the academy at nineteen."

"Bragging again?" Don teased her, pinching her on the arm.  "Don't do that.  You'll get another stalker."

"I haven't had one of those in years!" she defended.

"Years?" Horatio asked.

"Years," she assured him. "Since my fourth year.  It was the other reason Timmy became my backup."  She got back to work, blushing a bit but sending him sneaking glances when she felt him staring at her.  "What?" she asked finally.

"I'm surprised the daughter didn't come down to help."

"Danny's taking her clothes shopping to make her quit being so slutty," Don assured him happily.  "Since she's got a crush on him and all.  We thought it might discourage her and he'd be able to influence her easier than we would.  You know how sixteen-year-old girls are, Horatio."

"Very well now," he agreed blandly, smirking at him.  His team gave him questioning looks.  "The last case we worked up there, Gordon got us the right to stay in her guest room."

"Ah."  Eric grinned. "Were you mobbed by the teenager?"

"No, just had to stop the slutty princess from walking out in the bad clothes," Don assured him.  "She's been on that kick recently and it's bothering us."

"Well, hopefully Danny can solve that," she noted patiently.  "I think I have an idea."  She pointed at a spot in the autopsy report.  "Can we trace that down here, Horatio?"

He looked and nodded.  "We can."  He patted her on the back, letting his hand linger a bit.  "Ryan."  He leaned over to look.  "Trace this point down," he ordered.

"Yes, Horatio."  He took it back to his usual lab to use the computers in there.

Horatio looked at his guests, then the rest of his team. "Let me get them to my place."

"Oh, take off a few hours early, Horatio.  We can handle this," Calleigh assured him.

"Thank you but I do have a job to do," he noted patiently.

"We can play at his house once he drops us off. I might even be talked into cooking dinner for us," Catherine offered with a grin for him.  "Either that or we'll be napping in front of the tv.  Alexx did order me to get some rest and eat."

"I'm sure you'll have plenty of that while you're here," he said, staring into her eyes.  She grinned back, a wicked, naughty grin.  He looked at his team, that fond expression gone again.  "I'll be back in about an hour.  Call me if something comes up.  Don?"

"Sure."  He followed him out, stopping to grab their things from reception.

Eric looked at Calleigh.  "Something's going on there."

She nodded.  "Yup. Ryan?"

"I was thinking Alexx or Frank."

"Frank said she was Horatio's girlfriend, but she looked awfully chummy with the detective," she pointed out.

He snorted. "I've been less friendly on dates after sex.  Given some of the women the same look too."  She giggled at that.  "Really.  Frank?"

"Frank," she agreed.  They headed off to find the detective after cleaning up.  Ryan was already there pumping him for information. "So we're not the only one wondering if she's with Horatio or Don Flack?" she asked.

"Both," Yelina said from her desk, looking at them.  "That does not get outside of the group."

They all nodded once, looking very stunned.  Horatio Caine?  In a threesome?

Frank grinned at her.  "When did that happen?"

"The time Eric wanted to go up there to rescue him.  Don got shot along with Danny Messer.  I heard they ended up hiding at the resort and they worked it out then."  She smirked at them.  "She and Horatio dated since that crossover case."

"Back when she was twenty-five," Ryan offered.  Yelina smiled at him and Frank gave him an odd look.  "She told me.  About her double major too and how old she was when she went through the system."  He looked at Eric.  "Two and a half years to do a double major undergrad in bio and chem."

"Wow.  Smarter than I am."

"Smarter than anyone but Speed was," Calleigh sighed.  "I have the feeling they'd have gotten along very well."

"Yeah, they would have," Frank agreed dryly.  "And they did that one case they worked together on.  There's a reason why the chief sends Horatio up for any New York cases. Not only because he's from there but because those three are hell together on a case.  Four months on that serial case and everyone thought a year at least with us losing cops every month. Four months and they had it.  She protected the target, Don and Horatio got the site and the second guy. She got badly injured and they stayed with her the whole time."

"Wow," Eric said quietly.  He suddenly straightened up. "I heard something about that and H being part of the Terror Problem."

"Yeah, that's what some of them call them.  Those three are terrors when they work together.  Just let them have their own lab and leave them alone.  They'll work it out and drag the person in crying between them."

"What was her speciality?" Calleigh asked.

"Fluids," Frank said with a grin.  "It's said she had a way of making semen talk to her now and then."

"Which is good considering googling her name came up with her presentation of her thesis on semen DNA sampling methods and their failure rate," Ryan offered. "It also came up with an article about a lawsuit about badges and some commendations, plus how she ran the lab and then switched over."  He looked at Yelina, who just smiled and went back to work.  "How do we treat this?"

"Just like they're CSI from another city.  Flack works closely with their department and Catherine is one," Frank assured him.  "Treat 'em like you do everyone else, just make sure you don't step in it around them.  Horatio is very protective of his bitch, and he has called her that when they were fighting in the past."

"She and he have stood toe-to-toe and had a few very loud fights, that she usually wins," Yelina offered quietly.  "She's more stubborn than both Caine brothers together and even Don can't win against her when she's being stubborn."

"She's the only Italian Irish offspring I ever met," Frank admitted.  "But she got it from both sides of her heritage and then from Flack's family too."

"Anything we should know?" Calleigh asked.

"Yeah, the stubbornness includes her work habits.  She came to work when she was having pre-labor contractions with the twins.  Delivered in the back of a squad at the scene according to Don," Frank said smugly.  "I heard she actually ran after some suspect with her knee brace on last year."

"Like I said, more stubborn than both Caine brothers working together to cause trouble for the world of crime and driving me gray," Yelina joked. She looked at them.  "Just ignore it.  We like them together, children.  She makes Horatio smile and relax.  That's always a nice thing."

They all nodded.  "Okay," Calleigh agreed.  "I'll pinch them if they get nosy or anything."  She looked at Ryan.  "Any luck on that search yet?"

"I'm waiting for it to finish running."  He went back to his lab while they went back to theirs to look at their current case.

Frank and Yelina shared a look and grinned.  Catherine would bring a breath of air to the labs.  Horatio would relax and it'd be like Speed was around again for a few days.


Horatio came back from his last few hours at work and found Don sweaty and Catherine asleep under him.  "What did I miss?" he asked, coming over to give them both a kiss.  "It looked like it was fun."

"It was," Don said with a smug look.  "She was grilling."  Horatio moaned and went to check on his precious grill.  He found dinner already ready and on the table, then gave Don a look.  He smirked.  "You were running late, I had to fill in and she was nicely sweaty."  He got up and strolled over to take another kiss. "She can eat when she wakes up.  We'll need the energy to follow her around your city."

Horatio moaned and nodded.  "We probably will.  Think she'll insist on us going to the club tomorrow night?"

"Probably," Don agreed smugly.  "She made me start going out with her again too.  The guys at Hardware miss you already."  He stroked up his arm and helped him out of his sport coat.

Catherine lifted her head and smiled.  "Finally.  Another case?"

"No, subtle questions from the trio about our sex life," he teased back.  He came over to kiss her, making her moan and go limp under him.  "Did you want to eat or relax?"

"We should eat now. I was promised some time in the hot tub under the moon watching the stars."  He swallowed and nodded, helping her up and over to the table and their laps.  You didn't let a woman like Catherine in a good, sated, happy mood sit on a cold chair and ruin it. That way led to not getting cuddles in the hot tub later.  He had learned that early on.

Don smiled and handed over the food he had cut up for them.  It's not like Horatio had two working hands at the moment.  She was nibbling on one of his fingers.


Catherine got back from her lunch and found Don with her phone waiting on her outside to soak up some sunlight.  "What happened?"

"Someone called Tim. Your father's still refusing to go to the doctor's."

"We'll see about that," she assured him.  "Any breaks while I was off spoiling myself with good seafood at a decent price?"

"Bring me a doggy bag and I'll tell you," he offered with a smug grin.  She handed over the box she was carrying.  "Thank you."  He peaked and gave her an awed look. "It's not that good.  But we traced what sort of knife it was and the marks on his thigh."  He walked her inside and up to the labs.  Horatio said they could use his office since he was on a call.  He pointed at the desk and sat on the couch so he could watch the scenery while he ate.

She opened the file, taking one of Horatio's antacids while she read.  "Watch out, the red sauce is spicy."

"Figured that out and I was craving spicy food anyway."  He ate another bite and sopped up some of the sauce with the rolls that had been in there.  "Where was this and think they'd ship to New York?"

"Up the street, Calleigh turned me onto them, and I already asked.  They don't ship food but suggested we could move down here for good food.  He suggested we go to the Puerto Rican sections of the city to find good food."

"I would but it's murder getting there at lunch time."  He ate another bite.  "Think it'll be easier to track the knife?"

"Well, it's recently sharpened and the marks on the inside of the wound indicate an off- center blade so it wasn't done by anyone overly experienced.  It's small, the small filings she found on the rubber cement casting came out as silver.  I'm think it's one of those goth bodice blades."  They locked eyes.  "Either that or someone has really strange tastes."

"I always thought Goths were strange people," he noted dryly.

"Really?  I know a great one out of DC.  We pal around at some of the conventions."

"I don't wanna know," he sighed, shaking his head and going back to his lunch.  Someone knocked.  "We're awake."  He glanced back to find Stetler in the doorway.  He waved his fork. "Hey."  He ate another bite.  "Who would we ask around here where we could find that sort of blade?"

"I'm thinking Calleigh might know who to go to," she admitted.  "Eric doesn't seem like he likes the stranger girls but I think Calleigh might know someone who knows."  She looked at Stelter.  "Is she in or on a scene?"

"She's down in ballistics."

She dialed the phone.  "Calleigh, dear, the rubber cement casting of the wound came up with a double edged, silver blade that had been off-centered sharpened.  I'm thinking a goth bodice dagger.  It's fairly slim and narrow.  Where would we go to find the local sources?"  She wrote down a website. "That'd have all of them?"  She smiled and took down a name.  "I thought you might know someone who knows.  Thank you."  She hung up and turned on Horatio's computer, typing in his password.  "What did you want, Stetler?"

"I came to see why you're in Caine's office."

"So we're not taking up valuable lab space while they're trying to solve crimes about people who deserve to have their killers found faster," Don told him dryly, glancing back at him again.  "Plus, lunch time."  He finished his lunch and sopped up the rest of the sauce, catching the antacids when Kate tossed them without looking.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  That way I can prevent hearing you belch for the next four hours."  She paged down the list.  "There's nowhere near the level of goth subculture as we have.  A good number but not as bad as we have.  More like what Gwen said Austin had."  She clicked on the link for blades, comparing the pictures of the casting made to the pictures.  "Here, come look at this one, Don.  I think I've narrowed it down to three types."

He came over to look over her shoulder.  Then he pointed at one.  "Go there."  She went to that link and clicked it.  He compared the picture to it. "I think it's that one.  It looks more like the casting than the others did," he said quietly, frowning a bit.  "It's a bit big for a bodice dagger but for a belt or a boot one it's perfect."

"Most boot daggers are guys," she argued.  "I don't take Bringhold as one to entertain a guy in the bathroom."

"Why not, Flack is?" Stetler sneered.

"No I'm not.  Anything like that I did in the open when I was experimenting," Don said as he considered the description.  "What about a belt dagger, like a decoration?"

"Not at that club.  That's too fashionable and non-goth. They'd have stopped her for carrying it openly and most of the shirts you wear clubbing you can't conceal something like that.  They're too flimsy or tight."  He nodded and sighed, standing up again.  She printed out the description and then the shopping guide.  "They're mostly in one area," she offered.  "A few spread around but mostly around the goth clubs."  They shared another look.  "We can look at the tape again, see who was wearing something substantial enough to cover up a dagger like that.  Maybe we'll even see where she was wearing it."

"I'm still thinking a boot dagger," he admitted.

"Yeah, but this wasn't a country bar, so no cowboy boots probably, and not a biker or a leather bar, so unless you're wearing stripper boots, this isn't the area for that like we get in the winter. Down here it's strappy and clear.  Now I will give you a thigh holster," she offered.  "And for a woman that's practical.  Her skirt could cover it and it'd be easy enough to get to, especially when on her knees.  Just like I used to carry the derringer when we went out clubbing."

"That could be," he agreed, leaning against the wall. "Do we know who clubs around here?  Eric and who?"

"Um, the DNA tech.  Beauavista or whatever?"  He nodded, he had met her.  "I took her as someone who enjoyed that sort of thing.  Eric?" she called.  He came back to the doorway, walking around Stetler.  "We think we found a dagger, but with the local version of clubbing clothes we're not sure you could hide something that size.  I club differently than the pretty people down here."

"You're still pretty and not fat, Kate," Don said patiently.  "I'm tired of your feminine low self esteem.  So quit."

"How did you take the casting?" Eric asked, looking at it.  "It's not the usual substance."

"Rubber cement," she said with a grin.  "That way it picks up any trace elements from the wound as well.  It won't stick to the wound and it won't bend out of shape later. That's how we know it's silver and it was off-center."

"Wow."  He nodded, looking at the picture.  "I've seen a lot of those recently.  Mostly worn on the thigh."

"That was her idea," Don admitted.  "She used to carry a derringer there when she went clubbing."

"That way if I got pinned I had a better than average chance of getting to it as long as no one pinned my arms above my head," she explained. "It's a practical spot for a woman in a short skirt and if it's jeweled, it draws the eye up the thigh."

"It makes me look," Eric admitted with a grin.  Horatio came in and moved Stetler out of his way.  "They think they found the weapon.  We're trying to figure out a clothing style that could hide it."

"Good work.  How did you cast?"

"Forensic rubber cement," she said dryly.  She showed him that picture.  He smiled at that and nodded. "It's silver, off-centered on the left side from sharpening, and whoever did it didn't sharpen the tip properly either. This is the one we found on the website Calleigh suggested," she said, handing that over.  "Don thought it matched more precisely and he's more into weapons than I am."

Horatio came around to look at it on the screen, holding the casting picture beside it.  "I can see that.  Where would you find one?"

"We've got the shopping guide but if we can identify what she might have been wearing, it'd narrow down the thousands of people in the club to look at."

"Good thinking, kids.  Eric, can you work with Ryan on that?"

"Sure, H.  You know that."  He grinned at them.   "You guys are good."

"We try," she said with a grin. "Or else we get swelled heads and people with big, sharp, pointy things."  He laughed and left.  She looked at Stetler, then at Horatio.  "I think he went into voyeur mode.  He's been mostly silent except when he accused Don of being a bathroom whore."

"Ah. Charming."  He glared at Stetler, making him walk off in a huff.  "You two all right?"

"We had a very nice lunch," she said happily, smiling at him.  "Do you realize your whole team knows?"

"Yelina admitted she told them," he offered dryly. "Do you want to go with anyone in particular to the stores?"

"That depends, we need to see if you can buy them anywhere else," Don reminded him.  "Eric said he's seen a few of those recently in the clubs."

"Worn on the thigh, it would draw attention up further," Horatio agreed.  "We'll see what we can find.  There's a few other clubbers in the department we can consult."  He smiled at them.  "Did you volunteer to help with our former computer tech?"

"I did," Don admitted wryly, grinning at him.  "I got a bit bored while she and Alexx did the casting.  All morgues give me the creeps."

Horatio nodded.  "They can do that to me as well."  He gave them a gentle smile.  "Let's head to DNA first.  My techs down there are both clubbers in the same social circles as that club was."  He led them down there, letting them tell her what they wanted while he watched.  He loved watching those two work together.  It also got them the name of a few more shops to look at and a few styles that were popular to wear such decorations with.   On the way out to the hummer, he stroked up her back.  "Have you thought about the housing problem?" he asked quietly.

"I'm still wobbling like a weeble."

Don grinned at her.  "I can't carry you up those stairs too many times without doing my own back harm," he teased.  "They're too narrow and you hate going over my shoulder for easier carrying."   She stuck her tongue out.

"Children," Horatio said patiently.  They both stuck their tongues out at him. "I'll spank you for that later."  He got in to drive.  Don got in next to him and she got the spot between the seats behind them.  "Where to first?"

"The normal stores," Catherine decided.  "I doubt he'd have picked up a goth girl since he likes blondes and redheads."  She stroked the back of Horatio's head as he backed out.  "I like redheads but I'm more a personality sort."

"Hey," Don complained.

"I remember when you dyed your hair blond, Don."

"Never mind," he said weakly.  "Do you think Matilda told the kid enough to blackmail us for more money for new clothes?"

"Yup, Toni already called about that.  Mentioned my time as a domme and that undercover not being really hard for me."  He looked back and laughed.  She shrugged.  "It wasn't."  Horatio glanced back at a stop sign then moved on.  "With you I plead the fifth.  He was there."

"You can tell me, I won't be upset," he assured her.

"I know, but it's hard to explain that stuff if you haven't seen it.  Then again, Toni has made me want to pick up my whip again.  I'm hoping Danny got through to her."

"Knowing your daughter, she laid a serious lip lock on him right before she got out of the car, leaving him stunned for about five minutes and hating himself the rest of the night, so he's going to swear at you when you come home," Don said with a fond grin.

"Talked to him earlier?"

"Yup.  He hissed it from inside the break room while alone.  He's protesting really hard too, but she did fix her clothing issues.  She has a stunning dress coming for the prom and even a few business suits that make her look hot and leggy, his words."

"Hmm.  So, awkward moments over the cereal boxes soon?" she suggested.

"Quite possibly," Horatio agreed dryly. "She'll be seventeen when?"

"Three weeks," she sighed. "I'm feeling really old."

"Don't let Dad hear you say that," Don teased.  "He'll push harder for new babies. That way you're still young enough to chase them around when they start to walk."

"I don't want to nurse another one," she complained.  "My tits hurt enough from the bras these days.  Let's not talk about mamograms or anything like that.  The squeezing vice torture starts next year and Don, you get to start doing the finger up the ass test soon."

"Yay me," he said blandly.  "Can't wait."

"Yearly.  Physicals."  Horatio and he shared a look. "They're mandatory for us too, Don.  My doctor is not happy with me and threatened to turn me in for not complying fully."

"Well, yours wasn't enlarged and it didn't feel like it was funny feeling on the surface or unusually hard," Catherine offered with a sweet smile.  "But I can check again later if you want."  Both her men moaned at that.


Catherine drove up to the gate at her father's house on her first day back.  The guard at the gate gave her a horrified look so she shrugged.  He let her in and she drove up to the house, parking and walking inside with the small card in her hand.  She nodded at the guys she knew, walking into the office without knocking.  Her father stood up, eyes wide.  She put the card in front of him.  "You will go or I will shoot you and drag you there, father.  I don't care if you don't like it.  If I have to come get you for the appointment I will.  I will come with handcuffs and my service piece.  Your choice."  She stared him down until he sat with a moan.  "You're upsetting Mirin horribly and everyone in your circle is worried enough to contact Sr. and I though some pretty unusual channels about your memory issues.  Your going to be a grandfather again soon and a great-grandfather.  Now, get over whatever fear you have.  If you could face down Billy Blood's gang in an alleyway with just Sr. behind you, you can fucking well go to the doctors.  If I have to shoot you, I will, and then I'll handcuff you and drag you in anyway.  He can stitch you while he's checking you for the other stuff and before he sends you for x-rays or scans, or whatever.  Are we clear?" she asked quietly.

"Crystal," he said, looking up at her. "I have a doctor."

"Who you refuse to see.  He's a specialist, I want him to see you.  Your choice how you get there, father."  He nodded.  "Now, about my youngest daughter?"

"I have a heir, I adopted the son of one of my top guys," he admitted quietly.  He stared into her eyes.  "Are you happy?"  She nodded.  "Truly happy?"

"Horatio has always made my heart sing and Don has been my soul for quite a while, dad.  You knew that."

"I did.  I like them, princess.  Are you having another one?  You mentioned grandchildren."

"Mirin looked green the last time I saw her. You might ask her, dad."

"What about when people come to you about being here?"

"There's been a recent lot of worried looks about your health and mental status.  If they ask, I'm a daughter coming to force you to go to the doctor's.  I'll tell them the same thing. You either go or I'm shooting you, handcuffing you, and then dragging you.  You're disappointing your daughters and sullying our mother's memory by not taking care of yourself as best you can.  Mother wouldn't have wanted you to suffer or be such a coward about this."

"You have no idea...."

"You'd be surprised what I've dealt with forensically, father.  Do you know how many people have alzheimers in this city?  How many of them end up on a slab in my morgues?"  He slumped and nodded.  "I don't think that's what this is.  You don't have the classic symptoms.  You're not regressing in time, you're forgetting time.  Therefore you will go and be honest.  I've already faxed him reports from many people who sent them to me.  Including from Timmy's family and some of your guards.  I won't say who so you can't get upset.  Your choice if I have to go with you."

"No, I'll be fine," he assured her, smiling a bit.  "Do you want more kids?  I know Don's father wants you to have at least two more."

"Don's father can have the kids if he wants more.  There are women who're working on how to let the men do it for us."  He cracked a smile.  "Now, you've taken care of the major problems, father.  Do you have anything else I should complain about?"

"You need a new house."

"I'm still thinking about it.  My knees may be bad but there's ways around that in the present one, including a seat lift."

"Which you'd never use because then you'd have to admit you're handicapped.  It took you nearly three years to apply for the parking permit."  He smirked a bit.  "There's a nice place down by work," he offered quietly.  "It's got an elevator and stairs. The house is handicapped capable since the former owner was a car accident paralysis later in life."  He pushed it over.  "You have more than enough in your trust and Don's trust that I set up can go for it too."

"Don doesn't have one."

"He has since he was sixteen and firmly decided to go to the academy, since you two nearly got together after the pregnancy scare."  He grimaced a bit.  "You're in my will."

"Okay.  I hope I'm getting most of the photo albums."  She shrugged. "Any other depressing topics you want to cover?"

"Give me more grandchildren?" he pleaded.  "I'd like to enjoy them if I have to retire."

"Dad, career, that thing I worked so hard for?" she pointed out. "I can't do that if I'm pregnant and with my knee and back, a pregnancy would be very hard on my body.  Besides, I've had three.  I don't need more.  If they want one, I'll gladly donate an egg and they can do a surrogate."

"You liked being pregnant," he offered quietly, leaning back.  "You glowed and you were happy most of it."

She sighed.  "Dad, think about it.  What's the first thing Don would do if I told him I was pregnant?"

"Make you quit."

She nodded.  "And I've worked way too hard to get where I am for that.  I've had three. You're getting a great-grandchild from Gwen.  Enjoy that one without tainting her mother's career, okay?"

He nodded, looking pitiful.  "I just want to enjoy having my family if I have to retire."  He looked off to the side as a door opened. "Not yet, Brad."

She looked and blinked, then at her father. "The adopted son?"  He nodded, grimacing a bit.  She nodded at him again.  "I'm Catherine, the oldest sister.  He's going to his appointment or I'm shooting his stupid, stubborn ass, handcuffing him, and dragging him anyway.  Feel free to help me with that."  He grinned at that.  She looked at her father again.  "Talk to Don, dad.  Or to Horatio.  Just make sure his phone's not tapped again."

"You know Horatio Caine?"

"He's one of my guys," she said, looking at him.  She recognized him.  "Tell me, was Timothy a cousin or a brother?"

"Older brother," he admitted with a shy grin.  "My uncle took me in a few years ago when I ran away, that's how I ended up here.  Tim said great things about him."  She nodded.  "You treat him well?"

"As well as I can and he spoils me rotten."

He grinned. "Good.  A woman like you should be spoiled so you don't work such long hours.  If he needs to be shot, I'll tie him to the bed for you first so you don't have to chase him down."

"I'm a very decent shot.  He won't get far," she noted dryly.  He chuckled.  She looked at her father.  "I will be checking, father."  He nodded patiently. "Good.  If you wanna nag them, then do that.  Personally, I've had three already.  I'm not a cow to produce yearly offspring and we're about to have the last one out of the house finally."

"Unless Gwen isn't you," he reminded her.  "Then another one won't make a difference."

"Dad," she whined.

"Sorry.  Putting out an alternate argument."

"Well, don't."  She walked off shaking her head.  One of the guards gave her an odd look.  "Begging for more grandkids."

"You were happy and pretty while pregnant."

"I'm assured I'm still pretty," she said coolly.

"You are but you outshone all the other pregnant women in the city with the twins."  She stopped and looked at him. "I followed you during that for him.  Can't say as it was a hardship.  You're brilliant and watching you work is better'n any movie or tv show."  He grinned.  "Maybe you should have another one for one of your guys.  Make 'em happy daddies to their own kids."

"I'm nearly thirty-eight," she said quietly.  "We still have very active careers.  Having me being pregnant would definitely slow down my life and worry them so they couldn't do their jobs."

"In some circles that would be considered a plus," he offered with a smart smirk.  "Plus, didn't crime go down a bit when you were having the twins?"

"Don't start, that's an urban legend."

"Not around here it's not."  He nodded and backed away.  "Have a good day at work, Catherine.  Which one you gonna go official with?"

"We're not yet."  She continued out to her car, getting in and plugging in her hands-free set before even starting the car.  She dialed Don and Horatio's number.  They'd still be at his home getting ready.  "Why the hell am I suddenly the world's most wanted broodmare?" she demanded as she drove off.  "My father, the guard he used ta have following me.  His father.  Am I missing some cue that's sending out subliminal signals saying I want more kids?  Or that I'm going to have a bad bout of empty nest in a few years?"  Horatio's calm voice over the speaker phone made her calm down and Don's calmed her down farther. "Yes, he just got onto me on it, trying to guilt trip me into having a few so he could enjoy his eventual retirement, and then the guard told me I outshone the other pregnant women in the city and suggested crime would go down.  I pointed out that you two would turn into jailers should I ever get knocked up and they just smiled at that.  The guard asked me which one of you I'm marrying!"  She took a deep breath on Horatio's orders.  "You guys don't want kids, right?"


Don and Horatio looked at each other. They had talked about this already.  Both of them wanted more kids but they weren't going to upset her with that and they liked the ones they had so far well enough to settle.  "You've always know the three you had were enough for me," Don assured her.  "If it happens it does, but I'm not going to sabotage your career to make it happen."

Horatio nodded.  "I'm too old to be a father now," he agreed quietly.

"You're not old," her voice came over the speaker. "You're only a year older than me, Horatio."

"I know.  But I still feel older."

"It's all the sun you get every day," Don teased with a grin.  "Ages you faster.  That's why you've got those smile wrinkles when you only smile at her."

"I smile at you," he reminded him patiently.  "Catherine, we'll leave that up to you. We don't mind one way or another but if it happens it's your choice.  You'd have the worst time of it and the most problems with your career."

"I have the feeling I'd get a desk spot and be driven insane if there was suddenly a little Flack on the way," Don admitted.  "Dad's hinted he'd suggest it strongly so I had normal hours and I could spend more time than he did with me."

"I have one of those and I'm still out all hours of the day and night," Horatio said dryly, earning a swat from Don.  "One of these days she's going to yell at you for abusing me."

"If he hits you for real I will.  Swatting you the way he probably did just gives me new bruises to kiss and make feel better," she said patiently. "Guys."

"It's your decision, Catherine. You know both of our attitudes on this matter," Don reminded her.  "Besides, you're gonna be a grandma soon and Gwen's showing bad signs of stress at the moment."

"Point.  Dad also suggested a house near the station."

"I'd rather not live downtown," Don noted dryly.  "Further out is fine, downtown is nice but noisy and dirty."

"Yeah, that's what I think too.  He said it had an elevator and stairs.  A late-in-life accident victim."

"They happen to the best of us, and I wouldn't mind one way or another," Don reminded her. "We won't need somewhere that big when Toni's gone and even if we get Gwen's little hellion we won't need somewhere that big."  He grinned at Horatio.  "Just think of the bathroom we could have at the new place."  Horatio moaned. He liked to play in the shower and the bath with them.  "If it wasn't so far out, we could move out to the resort full-time for all I care.  I'd miss traffic but we could do that."

"Does that mean I should start casually looking?"

"That would be fine," Don agreed.  He heard the squeal of brakes.  "What was that?" he asked patiently.

"Ambulance without lights cut me off.  Hold on."  You could hear sirens in the background.  "Apparently we're chasing the guy who stole one.  Six squads and a few others."

"Wonderful.  Better them than me."  Don rolled his eyes heavenward.  "If we do look, let's look for a house again?  Not a condo or a townhouse? Somewhere with some room to roam and play?"

"Sure, Don. You know that."  You could hear the smile in her voice.  "So I'm officially to start looking?"

"You can casually look and see if anything nice is open," he offered. He and Horatio shared another look.  "What did the doctor say about the birth control stuff?"

"He wants me off the pill.  He said I'm getting too old and there's more risks."

"Then you're stopping and we'll go back to condoms," Horatio promised.

"With a really high failure rate," she complained

"Kate," Don sighed.  "If it happens, it was meant to be.  If it doesn't, it won't.  You were on the pill when you got knocked up with Gwen.  You were using condoms and a diaphragm when you got knocked up with the twins.  Now, talk to the guy about some options. I hate using condoms."  He hung up and stole a kiss.  "Even with you I hate 'em.  They don't feel right."  He went back to the mirror to fix his tie and tuck in his shirt, then fuss with his hair.

"If it happens it does," Horatio reminded him.  Don nodded.  "Or are you caving to pressure?"

"Hell no.  I can out-stubborn my father and hers."  They smiled at each other. "And her if need be.  We're gonna be late."

"You're the one who doesn't have his shoes or jacket on."  Don grabbed his jacket and stepped into his shoes, bending down with a small moan of complaint to tie them.  "Are you all right?"

"A bit sore from the tossing and turning last night.  I missed having her there as a pillow.  You're not nearly as soft in the same spots.  Thankfully.  You'd look odd with tits."  Horatio laughed and nodded, taking him out and down to the hummer.


Catherine sat down behind her desk with a sigh of relief.  She got about two minutes before Danny came in with paperwork. "Mac hiding?"

"Yup.  He's got a hickey and he doesn't want picked on. He said it's because his feet hurt - he was on them all night last night dancing - but it's because of the hickey she sucked on him."  He handed over the papers.  "How was your vacation?"

"We have a suspect and are looking for her. Well, they are.  I'm dodging the various requests for more grandchildren."  He snickered at that, sitting down.  "I'm sorry she kissed you.  I didn't intend for that to happen."

"She wrote me a nice email later and apologized for being so forward but a man like me robbed her of her brains and her common sense and she was so stunned she had to worship at my lips."

"How did she get your email?"

"Don's address book," he said dryly. "What does she want to be when she grows up?"

"Not a clue. She hasn't told me yet."  She looked at him. "I leave it fully up to you because I know you'll be nice to her and for her.  The same as I know you'll respect her and the fact that she's probably still a virgin.  We'll handle any awkward moments over the morning cereal when and if they happen but I'm leaving it up to you."

"No threats?" he teased.

"Not unless you treat her wrong.  Then there won't be a need for any.  They'll never find your remains.  Nor will Don.  He'll wonder and mourn you for the rest of his life.  Which will be very short if I end up pregnant."

"She's damn young," he pointed out.  "Even for being brilliant, she's still emotionally sixteen."

"Seventeen in two weeks," she told him dryly.  "That Thursday.  We're having a big dinner and Stella's coming so you can too."  He nodded, grinning a bit at that.  "Now, onto more pleasant matters. How was Gwen since I'm sure you saw her too?"

"Stressed and ready to cry.  The baby's driving her insane and she doesn't have maternity leave time yet.  Not for another month.  She's taken a few days here and there but she can't do it much longer."

"She's strong and she'll be going on maternity leave in another month."
"I reminded her of that.  Suggested she talk to Cragen about going on unpaid medical leave, even if she had to move home again.  She said you'd nag and tell her she was stronger than that."

"No I won't," she complained.  She dialed her daughter's extension. "Put her on, Stabler."  The phone was handed over.  "If you need to go on medical leave, go on fucking medical leave.  Even if you do have to move home.  Just because I'm superhuman does not mean you are, Gwen.  You're going to do whatever is best for you in your case.  Every pregnancy is different and I took leave time with you, where I didn't at all with the twins. Therefore if you need it, you shall take it.  Even if I have to shoot you in the foot to make it so.  Got me here?"  She heard the small sniffle.  "Understood, daughter?  Most women take leave time.  Ask Stabler about his wife and how much she took.  You're almost twenty.  Your body is still settling into the final adulthood configuration. So deal with it and quit snapping at people. That's my job and you're taking it.  They won't remember me fondly as the bitch there with you being so cranky."  That got a small chuckle. "Talk to your doctor and then have him conference in with Cragen.  Follow instructions.  That's why he's your supervisor and you're a rookie."  She hung up and looked at him, frowning a bit.  "She was crying over being given coffee."  She made sure the phone hung up when it beeped.

"You didn't take any leave time before you had the twins?"  She shook her head, going over the papers and signing the ones that were complete.  "Most women at least take the last few weeks and the few weeks on the other side," he complained.

"I did take the after-birth leave.  My doctor wouldn't sign my release."  She shrugged. "I didn't have much of a choice.  Not even the ME would sign it.  He just blushed every time he looked at me for the next year."

"I'd do it too," he agreed dryly.

"Hey with my past experiences, I'd probably give birth on the job," she noted dryly, glaring at him.  "Ask and you shall receive is a tenet of your faith as well I believe?"  He shuddered and nodded. "Good.  Oh, watch out for Mirin.  I'm pretty sure she's having number three."  She signed the last one and handed them back.  "Stick these with the receptionist for the stack going uptown please. Anything else I should know?"

"Yeah, your daughter looks damn hot in a few of those outfits, but no longer trashy."

She smirked.  "At least you dressed her to suit yourself."  He blushed at that.  "All up to you, Danny.  Don will pout, I'll just roll my eyes the first few times, but as long as you make her happy, keep her happy, and help her finish being an adult and finding her niche, I'm good.  She has more than enough of a trust fund to be whatever she wants to be and more than enough brains as well."

He nodded and stood up, picking up the paper he dropped.  "Thank you, Catherine."

"Welcome.   We like you like an odd son anyway, Danny. It'll just be strange for the first few weeks."  He nodded, leaving it at that.  She waited until he was on the elevator to call Mac's office.  "So, dancing?  A good sign?"  He groaned and hung up, making her laugh.  She called back. "If Mirin comes, watch out for the mood swings.  She was green the last time I saw her so she's probably having another one.  So beware since she's married to Timmy now."  She hung up again and got back to work arranging everything by description for the federal evaluators while she waited to see what her youngest daughter would do about her lust.

To Part 2