The Chief walked up to where Catherine was getting a plate of things to nibble on, smiling at her. "I've got the results. Congratulations," he said quietly.
She turned to look at him. "We passed?"
"You passed." He smiled and walked off.
Catherine made her way slowly back to their table, her knee brace making her limp but that was okay. She smiled at Don, the only one who was there already. "We passed."
"YES!" he shouted, jumping up to hug her and spin her around. "I'm so proud of you!" He kissed her, making her moan. "Dance with me?"
"Of course." She let him walk her out to the floor, even letting him lead this time. She had enough pain killers in her system that she wasn't going to be hurting until they got home and her knee brace was working well enough tonight, as long as she didn't have to chase anyone down. She leaned against his chest, smiling at the smiling couples around them.
The others in her family stopped in the doorway.
"Daddy dressed her," Gordon noted dryly.
"He certainly did," Gwen agreed.
"Danny...." She looked at her mother's black gown. It was backless, conformed to the good points of her figure and hid the few bulges she had. "Oh, *Dad* dressed her. I thought you guys said Danny did." She smiled at her boyfriend and walked him in there, dropping her purse at the table then letting him walk her onto the floor. She looked magnificent and he had wanted her to wear the red dress again.
Gordon and Gwen shared a look, then shook their heads and went to be table guardians. They waved the rest of the lab over, getting smiles from them as they walked in.
Stella came in wearing a black beaded gown that flowed off her generous figure, making Gordon wink and take her out onto the floor.
Mac smiled at Gwen. "I'll offer if you want."
"That's all right, my feet and back still hurt." He nodded, sitting down across from her. "The Chief has the eval's results. He called to warn me he was going to give them out tonight. That way I could tell Sheldon to bring smelling salts."
"That's a good sign." He smiled and stood as Sheldon and his date showed up, plus their ME and Lindsey without dates. "Good to have you guys here."
"It's nice to be invited to these events," Hammerback said genially, smiling at Gwen. "You should be out there with the younger sort." Catherine let out a loud giggle so he smirked in that direction. "See, even she's not serious tonight."
"The Chief has the lab evaluation results. I'm sure he's slipped her some information," Gwen said dryly. "Besides, my back still hurts." He nodded, sitting next to her. Gordon and Stella came back after the song ended and all the men drooled. "I need to get back in shape."
"It'll happen, Gwen," Stella promised, smiling at her. "No Horatio?"
"Should about be getting in now," she admitted, checking her watch. "Gordon flew up last night but he had court this morning and the Chief this afternoon. They got their results then." She smiled at her, winking a bit. "He sounded happy when he called to say he was heading for the airport."
"Good!" She looked over at Danny and Toni, who were giggling and talking as they danced. "They do make a stunning couple."
"Tell me about it," Gwen sighed.
"Some day you'll have that."
"I'd like something less gropey and cute," she told Mac, shrugging a bit. "So would Grandfather Flack, who I just saw come in with Grandma." Danny and Toni came back at the end of the next song and so did Don and Catherine. "Daddy Horatio should be about landing."
"Good." She kissed her on the cheek. "You look nice."
"I look fat, still."
"You're not fat, Gwen. It's all baby stuff." Don stroked her cheek. "I promise you're not fat," he chided gently. He hauled her up and took her out to dance, being very gentle with her. "How are the treatments going?"
"Poorly. They make me sick and I ache." He nodded, kissing her on the forehead. "Grandma and Grandpa are here."
"Figured they would be since they're honoring your mom." He grinned at her. "At least we found a sitter."
"It was nice of Aiden to volunteer," she agreed, resting her head on his shoulder. "Daddy, I feel miserable."
"You wanna go home?"
"After they honor mom. I think I should probably sit down though." He nodded and led her back there, helping her back into her seat. Her mother raised a brow. "I'm still sick from earlier." She nodded at that, pushing over her plate with crackers. "Eww, food. No. Thanks anyway." Catherine nodded, getting up to hug Don's parents. "Hi, Grandma and Grandpa."
The elder Don Flack smiled at her. "Are you all right, Gwen?"
"No, treatment earlier today." She yawned. "I'll stay through when they honor mom then head home." That got knowing nods from everyone. "Sorry, mom."
"Dear, I wasn't going to make you come tonight," she reminded her.
"I should be. I'm your little girl." She stared her down. "There's my boss. I should go talk to him." She escaped all the people who would fuss and baby her. "Captain. No John?"
She snorted and went to look for him, finding him at the bar. She hauled him back with her, making him dance with her. "Stubborn bastard. If I can get out of bed for this, you can quit hiding."
"Gwen. How are you feeling?"
"Fat. Tired. The usual." She shrugged and grinned at him. "Four more months and I get to go back to work."
"Good." He grinned at her. "You're still going to be riding the desk for the first month, doing all the paperwork for the rest of us."
He chuckled. "Thank you."
Don looked at Catherine once they had moved out of range, shaking his head. "Those two being friends is an odd thing."
"I like John."
"So do I, but it's still odd that he and Gwen are buddies that way." He kissed her on the cheek. Then he looked at his family. "Stella, you look like you should carry a drop cloth for the drool."
"There's an invisible barrier around me so none hits the dress," she shot back, smirking at him.
Danny laughed. "Good. You could use it. Go with me?"
"She'll stab me."
"No I won't. Only if you grope and I know you're not that sort of woman," Toni said with a smirk for her. "After all, real women don't have to poach, they've got a line forming," she said, pointing at the guys who were loudly asking Gordon who the hotties at the table were.
"I get one first," Danny said, getting up and taking Stella with him. "You do look fine."
"I know." She grinned at him. "She looks hot too."
"Yeah, more than. She wore that the night she made her decision and I thought I went blind. So I made her wear it tonight to taunt the others." She giggled and pinched him, making him grin. The song ended and Mac came out to steal her, so he shrugged and went to steal Catherine. "Yo, Mom, you look hot tonight too."
"Don dressed me," she admitted. "We all know I'm not caring what I wear as long as I'm comfortable. Which this isn't, but he drooled."
He chuckled and nodded. "I can see why. I can also see where your daughter gets her deadly breasts of doom from too." She blushed but giggled, hiding her face in his shoulder, making him smile. "Oooh, I made Donny jealous." He surrendered as soon as Don came over. "I was making her laugh."
"I could see that. Go steal your girl from her twin." He danced his lady off, kissing and nuzzling her neck. "I'd still rather see you in the other one."
"I looked like a ho."
"No you didn't." He nuzzled her neck, planting a little kiss on it. "You know, it's in the car." She shivered. "You're wearing it after they take your picture later." She gave him a squeeze. "After this, the three of us are going out for some time alone," he said quietly. "Horatio could use it."
"Good. You can wear that one then." He kissed her for real, making her moan and cling. "Good girl, Kate." They clapped as the music stopped and went back to the table, noticing who was still out there. Danny still had his face in Toni's hair. He threw a grape at them, making Danny glare. "Music stopped," he mouthed. Danny brought her back then got her a snack. Which she shared by feeding him a few grapes and berries of course.
"You two are so cute," Stella told them. Danny grinned at that, shrugging one sidedly and looking at her.
"He's adorable so I have to match," Toni assured her, winking again. "Incoming." Stella looked and the officer stammered and blushed, but asked if she'd like a drink.
"Sure, I could use a drink." She got up with him and headed into the bar, letting him buy it and talk to her. "Where do you serve?"
"Staten Island SVU."
She smiled. "I'm Mac's second in our lab in Manhattan." He beamed. "Didn't think it was me?"
"No, I knew you were you, but everyone always said you were a Goddess like Hera, not a Goddess like Aphrodite. I see they were wrong and misjudged you." She blushed at that, punching him on the arm.
Horatio walked in and looked at his family, taking stock of them. He walked over, taking the empty seat on Catherine's other side, kissing her fingers. She smiled at him. "You're stunning tonight."
"Don dressed me."
"I thought he was going to put you in the other dress."
"I looked cheap."
"You did not." He kissed her, making her moan. "Go change, Catherine. I want to see you in the one I picked out. I'm going to be possessive tonight," he whispered. "Since we passed. My lab above standard, one with an appeal pending." She moaned at that. "Please?" She nodded and got up, nodding at the table before she excused herself. "Sorry, we picked out the other dress specially for tonight. She's making me pout."
"It's always a good wife who humors the horny husbands," Mac agreed. "Chinese proverb," he said at the odd look Don gave him.
"Fortune cookie, Mac?" Danny teased.
"That too." Don and Horatio both laughed at that. "Did she bring the other one?"
"No, but I did," Don assured him. He looked out there, seeing her with the dress bag. "Toni, go help your Ma." She nodded and got up, heading to do that. "I was gonna make her change after the presentation."
Horatio smiled. "My personal lab passed without need for appeal. Perfect score. Only one lab in Miami has to appeal and the only other federal level lab in the city passed above passing but under the official ninety-five percent line."
"Oh, congratulations!" Stella said as she came back. "Good work, Horatio." She gave him a hug around the neck. "Where's Catherine?"
"Changing into the dress he wanted her to wear. He gets to be possessive tonight," Don said with a wink. "Pull up a chair, join us," he offered to the other guy, who did that. "Know anyone else here?"
"More or less." He looked at Danny, who smirked and waved. "I went to high school with him."
"Now I'm in Mac's lab."
"Danny, this came for you earlier," Mac said, pulling out an envelope. "I was going to hand it over and then leave later but now's a good time."
Danny carefully opened it, looking at the notice inside. He blinked, looked at Mac, frowning, then back at the paper. "Wow." He folded it up and put it into his pocket, shaking his head.
"What! Give!" Lindsey demanded.
"I got upgraded to level two," he said happily. She squealed and hugged him. "Hey, easy, need to breathe," he complained, getting free. He grinned at the others. "Thanks, Mac."
"Not my doing and we both know that. It's your work that got you promoted." Danny beamed at him. "Good job, Danny."
"Thanks. Means a lot, Mac. Stella?"
"Now we get to hand you a rookie," she taunted.
"No we don't. I'm not adding another person to the lab until next year," Mac announced. "When you move up, Danny will take over most of your duties, Sheldon will take his, and Lindsey, I got told you wanted to move to Brooklyn?" She nodded. "That's fine. That'll be happening within the month I'm told." He smiled at them. "Besides, we've already got two rookies in the pipe." Stella smiled at that, she and Toni had picked them.
Don gasped and stood up, staring at Catherine as she came back. The slightly shimmering fabric of the dress highlighted her skin and her hair had been redone by her daughter so it was down again. He pulled her closer and kissed her. "Wow."
"Mine," Horatio ordered, standing to take her and kiss her himself. "You look fantastic," he whispered before taking a second one. He sat her down then took his seat again, nudging Don when he didn't move.
Don sat, smiling at Toni as she came back. "Good job, princess."
"Thanks, daddy." She sat down and smiled at her mate, who took his own kiss. "Thank you as well." She took his hand to hold, kissing the back of his. "Can you please get me free of the charity luncheon next week?"
"I can try," he promised, smiling at her. "Aren't you expected?"
"No, but I was invited and bored so I accepted." He chuckled. "I know, but I don't wanna go. I'm sure I'll be fairly more bored since it's a lot of women older than I am."
"You'll do fine and make them stare in awe and relief that someone good is taking over for them," Don reminded her. "The Museum Society will love you."
"Any word yet on your internship?" Stella asked.
"Not yet," she sighed. "I have the feeling it's going to be another case of 'why would *you* want to work here' that'll piss me off and make Danny walk funny the next morning."
"When you do, just call and warn me so I can find things in the lab for the first few hours," Mac said gently. "Is it about your grandfather or your father?"
"Both, mostly my father in museum circles. He did so love to rob them."
Mac nodded. "I remember. He was good at it too." She nodded at that, smirking just a bit wickedly. "Any other family news?"
"I'm going to Switzerland this fall," Gordon announced. "Dad found someone who could fix my anomaly so I'd work right."
"Good job," Don said with a smile. "You need us, you call us." He nodded at that, still smiling. "You get to pick?"
"More or less. He said he couldn't make it *huge* or anything but it could be reasonable for my height and weight."
Danny blushed a bit. "Remember, girls get scared sometimes too."
"I'm not going to be that large, Danny," he teased. "Mom, what was dad like? If that isn't too personal and won't upset the new dads."
She looked at them, getting shrugs. "Long and thin. It's more skill than size, honey."
"Okay." He nodded. "I think I've got that."
"Natural talent runs in your family," Don agreed. "She came in babbling a few mornings while your dad and she were dating."
"She does that now when Horatio's up," Stella teased, making Horatio blush a bit and Catherine blush very brightly. She chuckled. "Got you back for that water balloon."
"I told you to duck," Catherine reminded her. Stella just laughed. "Fine. We're even. Besides, I babble most mornings, they make sure I've got it under control by the time I get to work." Mac blushed at that, coughing a bit so he could duck his head.
"Sorry, she's in a naughty mood," Horatio offered. He kissed her again, making her moan. "Behave," he said quietly.
"Only two weeks and then you're retired," he offered gently. "Then we have one of these where I'm being honored. You can be naughty with Yelina then." She smirked and nodded. "Good girl. Is it dinner?" She nodded. "Pity, I'd rather be dancing."
"Dinner, award and honors, then dancing," Danny reminded him. "The bar opens then too so things get a bit more wild from what I hear."
"They did last year," Mac agreed, smiling as the waiter put his plate down. "Thank you." They all got their plates and those who say Grace said theirs, then they dug in. "Toni, could you come in sometime this week and look over a problem the computer person is having?"
"Of course, Mac. What sort of problem?" she asked before taking a bite.
"Mostly a sealed files one. He can't break the password and he said it's got an automatic destroy function built in if he tries to hack it?"
She nodded, swallowing and taking a sip of her wine. "That means that he's inserted a few lines of code that will trash the harddrive if the correct password isn't given. Can't anyone get it from him?"
"I've tried twice," Don admitted. "Mac's tried. Catherine tried. Stella tried. Hell, even Lindsey tried."
"I got so mad I wanted to hit him," Sheldon offered. "So I'm waiting for my turn to come back around."
She smiled at them. "I'll break him. Leave me alone in a room for ten minutes, dears." They all stared. "My biological father did teach me many things. I can even do it *legally*."
"You're not a cop, it won't hold up in court," Mac told her. "Unfortunately."
"But I am a consultant and having a consultant stop in to talk to him about his system wouldn't be that hard, correct?"
"Let me," Gwen said quietly. "I'm damn good at making men break." Her mother smiled proudly. "It crosses into my jurisdiction anyway, right?" Mac nodded, it did have child porn attached to it. "Then I can do that legally and it won't be challenged." She looked at Toni. "You can help via headset."
"Sure." She ate another bite, then looked at Danny. "Were we staying to close this one down or did you have plans to go out later?"
"I'm still on tomorrow, princess." He kissed her gently. "You were with your Ma earlier, but I got upgraded." She squealed and hugged him, kissing him so hard he saw stars. "Wow."
"You won't be sitting tomorrow," she promised, kissing him again.
"Hey, no porn in front of us," Don complained. "Nothing I can use during the heat of a basketball game."
She looked over Danny's shoulder at him, arching one elegant brow up. "You've been picking on my man?"
Danny chuckled and kissed her, calming her down. "It's all fun teasing, princess. Eat. Apparently I'll need my strength." She winked and nodded, digging in again, but remembering her manners. "Make me dinner tomorrow when I get home?"
"As long as you come home tomorrow," she promised, smiling at him. "Tell me if you're going to be late and I'll make something nice." He nodded, taking her hand to hold under the table.
"You two are so cute," Stella's new friend offered. "How did you two meet?"
"I'm Catherine's younger daughter." She smiled at him. "You?"
"I'm in Staten Island SVU."
"I'm plainclothes in Manhattan's once I'm off medical leave," Gwen offered. He smiled at that. "They found a lump when they found the baby."
"Me too, but he's a nice kid. Not what I expected to be doing at my age, but it's nice." He blushed a bit at that. "Captain Cragen and those guys were across the room if you wanted introduced."
"I've worked with Elliot in the past," he admitted.
"Mom, going to take him to my people," she offered, picking up her plate and glass, leading him over there with his things. "Shove over, Elliot. Mom and Toni are getting cutesy since Danny just got promoted to level two." He smiled and made room for the new additions. "Thanks. Hey, boss, can I cheat and come do paperwork with the kid?"
"No children in the squadroom and no. Not until your doctor frees you," he said firmly, smirking at her. "Why? Bored?"
"Yes. I have no idea how my foremothers did nothing but childcare all day every day for most of their lives. I'm so bored I'm about to dye my hair and go out undercover for Vice or something." They all laughed at that. She smiled at the person she didn't know. "Hi, Gwen Cavanaugh-Richards. You?"
"Olivia Benson," she offered, reaching over to shake her hand. "Your mother and you replaced me while I was out of town."
"Ah. Do I still have a desk?" she asked. Her boss nodded. "Good." She smiled. "I'm learning a lot working with John and Greedy there," she said, nodding at Fin, who just smirked back. "Does he take your music too? He's always stealing my rap CDs."
"We don't listen to the same stuff." She smiled at the guy she knew. "Saving you from the cuteness as well?"
"Definitely. That and so I quit staring down the fabulous cleavage Stella Bonasera has." The guys all nodded at that, understanding it really. Gwen just giggled. "What's wrong with your brother?"
"Genetic anomaly. He's XXY."
"Oooh. So they've got to do some *fixing*." She nodded. "Is he up here?"
"Miami with Daddy Horatio." She smiled gently at him. "He's a nice guy and he's loved mom forever."
"I noticed the trio and that your sister is very young."
"Not really and not mentally," she said dryly. "You can't be that young and be Toni."
Elliot moaned. "First time I saw her, she was off school and the school made the girls wear these tiny, short skirts."
"Daddy Don joked it was their way of paying for a new roof. She got the headmistress fired for that," she agreed fondly, smirking at him. "Wanted to make her change?"
"Definitely. I wouldn't let my daughters out in that even if it was the uniform." They all chuckled, they remembered Toni fondly around the office. "Who is she dating?"
"Danny Messer. Mom's last protege."
"Ah," a few who knew said, nodding at that.
John Munch shook his head. "That's got to be one intense house when they fight."
"He's not moving in yet but yeah. He kept holding her back and making her slow down. By the way, she graduated St. Bart's last year and the other place with the ho-skirt. Now she's at Columbia looking at museum work." He raised an eyebrow. "Yes, she's run into that problem a few times, John. Each time she does, she takes it out on him and he can't walk the next day." He chuckled at that, eating a bite of dinner. "So, anything *good* happening in our neck of the woods?"
"Not yet," the boss sighed. "We're still trying to break the last guy."
"I'm doing one for Taylor tomorrow with Toni. It's got hints of it on the side and they need his password. He's got a destroy clause on his harddrive." They sighed at that. "Toni can break any man and I'm nearly as good. Can I come help with that at least?"
The boss looked at her. "Yes. As long as you don't get too tired or set your treatments back for it."
She shrugged. "I had one today. I'm going home as soon as they honor mom."
"They're honoring your mother?" Olivia asked. "Why?"
"Because they passed lab evals," John told her. "Plus, her twenty was two weeks ago." She looked stunned at that. "Catherine is quite the woman. Like Gwen, she graduated the Academy at nineteen and joined."
"Mom's worked in the lab her whole career, even when she didn't work in the lab she was still working in he lab." Cragen laughed and nodded, his mouth was full. "Let me guess, mom gathered evidence and handed it over to the CSI when they got there?" Elliot moaned and nodded, stuffing his mouth. "Yeah, I heard she did that in Bronx homicide too. Fixed their labs really quickly."
"Fixed ours, fixed theirs, fixed hers," Cragen added, smirking just a bit. "Why didn't you go CSI?"
"Lack of patience for the fine details. Besides, I'd rather be the person who runs a perp down than the one who pulls a sample off something and runs it, then hands over the name. Mom doesn't understand it and she doesn't like it, but it's who I am. I get that from the sperm donor."
"I remember your dad," Cragen assured her. She grimaced. "True. He was like that and he was a bad cop, but he did love the joy of running someone down and tackling them."
"Then he should've played ball and not dealt cocaine to his shift," she said dryly. Cragen nodded. "Did we ever catch him?"
"Nope," John admitted. "He headed through Baltimore and DC but they didn't get him either. Someone thinks he might be heading down to get Horatio since they've been dating forever. We warned his crew behind his back."
"Good! I like his kids. They're good. Eric can easily tie him down and yell until he sees sense." John smirked at that. "He will. After they lost the one, they're all very protective of each other."
"Understandable really," Elliot offered. "What happened?"
"Faulty gun maintenance," she said quietly. "That's why Daddy gets to do that with the techs each year."
"Good. Who does it in Miami?"
"Daddy." She grinned. "Daddy Don is fierce about that stuff. He gets onto me about mine, gets onto Toni about hers, gets onto Danny about his."
"Toni carries?" John asked.
She gave him a long look. "If you were her, wouldn't you? Her dad's got people who would *love* to get revenge on his former body by hurting her."
"True," he admitted. "She good?"
"Pretty much. She wants to do some traveling but they keep telling her it's too dangerous. I have the feeling Mac's going to get a set of leave papers for Danny some morning in the mail, mailed from Greece or something. She'll kidnap him some night and it'll be good for them."
"Is it the same father?" Olivia asked.
"No, she and Gordon are twins. Mine was in jail for nearly killing my mother twice by then. Their daddy was Horvats, the jewel thief." She shuddered. "Exactly. That's why she's being warned to stay in the city, where Mom and Grandfather can protect her. Even though Grandpa Flack doesn't like it." She ate a bite of dinner, grinning at the new guy. "Don't worry, it works for us."
"I'd assume it would. You seem like you've had this routine down pat for years." Gwen nodded as she chewed. "It does make more sense that she's with Messer however. I remember him very well from high school."
"We all change and grow up," she reminded him. He nodded at that wisdom. "Even mom, who used to be a car girl." Elliot snickered and nodded. "Let me guess, you found her tinkering a few times to relieve stress?"
"One time, your mom got so pissed at some guy, she went and stripped his car on him," Cragen said fondly. "While he was waiting on bail. It meant we got the extra three hours we needed for the labs to process his DNA." She smiled at that. "Got her into no end of trouble, but it was enough. Kept us from having to find him. She justified it as searching for other evidence of his misdeeds to the judge. Who only moaned and shook his head. They did that a lot when your mother was with us, Gwen."
"I try very hard to be more reasonable than she is. Most of the time."
"Good, we like that," Elliot assured her, patting her on the back. "You do look nice tonight."
"Thank you," she offered, smiling at him. "I still feel fat." He chuckled and hugged her. "I know, it's new mom syndrome. What can I say, Morgan was a hefty child."
He pulled away, shaking his head. "My wife said that for the first six months every time."
"I'll remember that." She patted him on the arm. "Tell your daughter she can still come to me about questions she was having and that I'll gladly let her babysit Morgan whenever she needs some spare cash."
"I'll do that," he promised, smiling at her. "What questions?"
"She had a question about what it was like to be pregnant and that stuff."
"Not that she's told me."
"Oh, good." He relaxed again. "That would be one loud argument that would probably end with me in a cell and her boyfriend dead."
She snorted and leaned closer, whispering in his ear. "You do know she's not exactly het, right?" He shook his head, looking at her. She nodded, going back to sitting upright. "Yeah, we've talked about that a lot. She figured I've seen it at the very least and I'm closer to her age."
"That's fine with me. Her mother might yell but I'm good with that information," he said, smiling at her. "That does explain some recent comments as well. Thank you, Gwen."
"She's not going to get yelled at?"
"No, but I'm going to remind her she can come to me about that stuff and if something happens between her and her mother, to come to me and I've got a couch." She nodded so he dug back in. "The others?"
"Not a clue, but your son likes to stare at very nice asses as they walk past. Apparently a few rent girls have moved into the neighborhood and he likes to watch them out the windows."
"I'll talk with him about subtlety as well," he agreed. "His mother?"
"Asked that I tell you that when I called over there the other day."
"Thank you, Gwen. When are we going to meet your little hefty one?"
"Ooooh, pick a day." She shrugged. "I'll come over tomorrow afternoon to break that guy? Bring him then? Let her babysit so you two can talk?"
"Works for me," he agreed happily. "Thanks."
"Eeh, it's nothing. I grew up in one of the odder families in the city but I'm good with helping the normal ones."
"Did you get to hang out with their father?" John asked.
"All the time. Especially the year that Mom got Timmy. She hid us up at the resort when she bought it and he came up with a nanny to take care of us. So we saw him and Uncle Don both that year. When they met Uncle Horatio, we stayed in his guest house due to really crappy housing allowances, so I got to hang with all three of them some days. They learned early on to have a truce or Mom beat them all." She grinned then ate a bite. "Last time it was with a foam rod thingy that you use in the pool."
Olivia smiled at that. "I heard your mother was formidable."
"And then some," everyone else agreed, mostly sarcastically.
"My ex said once that God only made one of Catherine because he wouldn't wish more of her on the world at the same time." Gwen choked, laughing at that, nodding as she coughed into her napkin. "Sorry, Gwen."
"Not a problem," she wheezed. "Daddy says the same thing." She sipped her water, slowly calming herself down. She wiped off her cheeks, glad she hadn't worn makeup. "Grandpa Flack said it to a few people too after Mom ripped them a new one from the labs in the early days."
"Your mother used to give us hell anytime we had her on a case," Cragen agreed, smiling at her. "I was over Major Crimes then and it was horrible. Then she got Taylor and he was stiff and uptight until one day she turned to him at a scene and snapped at him, nearly making him cry. He became better then. Before then he was really stiff."
"He can be now and then too, but he's very sorry for watching my mother like she was a perp for years," she noted dryly. "Oh, Stella's moving up, not him," she said quietly. Everyone smirked at that. "Mom said so."
"Good," Cragen agreed. "She'll be easier to deal with when things go wrong. Taylor's got momma bear syndrome now and then."
"Yeah, and then he comes home and chews on the cubs," she assured him. "Badly. Oh, Monroe is heading to Brooklyn sometime soon. So new people to break in and get to know."
That got a mass smile from the group.
The Chief stood up on the dias, smiling at his officers. "Before I get started in honoring those who have given their all this year, and those who've made it their life's work to be here with us, I do have one special honoree that we're all here about, or at least many of us made the special effort to be here when they would normally skip." He smiled at the large table. "We have among us a true gem of a CSI. Someone who has given her all for the department, a few times nearly literally. She has taken down the bad among us, protected those who were falsely accused, and helped mentor a great many of our boys and girls who came in with pasts that shouldn't have mattered but did. She has given us twenty years, as of last week, and is about to retire. Over the years, Catherine and I have butted heads many times." That got some laughs. "I see some of you remember her the same way I do."
"Not funny," she called, smirking at him. "You deserved it."
"I did," he agreed. "You were always very good at swatting the ego of any cop who needed it deflated and ruined. You were also very good at defending the lab no matter what happened to it, making sure it went on when someone tried to attack it. Making sure the search crews had what they needed and calling out-of-state help that was desperately needed when our city was attacked. You made sure the shifts were actual shifts and made sure everyone had a place to sleep on the search crews. You also held the hands of many who were in pain. You held together the lab, and you weren't even in the lab at that time. You were in SVU, which wasn't my decision," he reminded her. "Though I noticed you ran the lab they worked out of as well. No matter where we put Catherine, she was in the lab. Bronx homicide and their felony lab can attest to that. She got them working in an efficient manner while she was there." The people from that department and lab all nodded and laughed. "We moved her to SVU and she got them working better, faster, and helped collect evidence, even though she was supposed to be a normal detective at that time. We moved her back to Homicide in her native precinct, the one she grew up in, and the techs there saw a lot more of her than they planned I'm sure."
"She made it easier on us," Mac assured him with a bright smile.
"I'm sure she did, Taylor. That's why we're honoring her specially tonight. She has been one hell of an asset to this department. She has also managed to help us pass the last four evaluations to keep our Federal standing, plus trained the next person so they could keep up with the next one when it came. I have here," he said, pulling out some forms, "the grades from the last lab evaluations." He cleared his throat. "Four passed with perfect marks. Which is nearly impossible to do from what I'm told. Eight of the remaining twelve in the city passed at the passing line of ninety-five percent, meaning they only had one violation. I believe one was a skirt being too short and being distracting. One was a tech walking down the hall drinking a soda, and one was a guy who refused to shave, plus one where a tech ended up having the flu and having to run to get sick. Of the remaining four labs, all but one passed above the failed-but-high enough level. The last lab is under appeal since it was something they couldn't have foreseen, namely the coffeemaker exploding and burning some people on lunch. She has done something so fantastic that the FBI wants to know who she bribed with what since their labs don't pass that high regularly."
He smiled at her. "She has given her all to this lab. She gave birth to the twins at a scene in the back of the cruiser, mentally damaging the ME who had to deliver them and Detective Flack Jr., who I'm told had a fit about her being in so much pain while he was trying to help. They still managed to pass that evaluation since it was during one." That got a few laughs. "She has nearly given her life to us. She has given us blood, sweat, tears, DNA, new labs, a soon to be updated biohazard lab, and bits and pieces of her sanity at times. She's given us her good health, earning a bad back and knees for us. Yet every now and then she still tries to chase someone down, even with a knee brace and a cane." That got some more laughs. "So we do honor Catherine Cavanaugh above and beyond those others we honor tonight and wish her well in her retirement." The group clapped. "Come here, Catherine." She stood up and he stared. He hadn't realized she could clean up that well.
She walked up onto the stage. "Thank you and I'm sorry I terrorized some of you over the years. Others of you needed it, but I'm sorry for those I was only having a bad day on." That got a few laughs, especially from Stella. "I'm also sorry the kids ended up puking on a few of you over the years as well." She smirked at her boss. "You don't get rid of me that easily, Chief." He gaped. "We're going to retire and fall back to consulting for you and Miami-Dade. Just give me a week off first, please! I haven't had a vacation in a while."
"Of course, Catherine." He hugged her. "Cold cases?" he whispered. She nodded. "We'll send you all the cold files you could ever want. Got a lab at the house so your family still gets to see you?"
"Of course. My old one is going to my former protege. After all, I hired Stella to take my place when I had to leave the lab." She smiled and accepted her certificate, then saluted him. "Thank you, Chief."
"You've more than earned it, Cavanaugh. After all, without you being pushy a great number of our female detectives would still be waiting on their badges. Our labs would've had to muddle through under some uncertain leadership. You've trained the best of the best and I'm sure your last protege will live up to your standards." She smiled at that. "The city owes you a lot more than the cheap piece of paper, Catherine, and we will miss you being there daily to breathe down our necks and tell us to quit spitting on your crime scene." She smiled and walked off. "Since she's the first of our twenty year people, let's move onto the next one." He pulled up that certificate and note he had his assistant write out about them.
Catherine sat down, putting her certificate in the middle of the table. "I'll let you help me pack the pictures and stuff next week, Stella."
"Sure. Not like I've got a lot to put up there." She smiled. "It's getting updated?"
"New computers and machines. Plus a new conference table." Stella smiled at that. "You'll have to requisition or buy a new coffeemaker. Also, we'll still be doing CE stuff to make sure it gets done." That got a lot of smiles from the group.
Danny coughed. "I hope I can live up to your expectations too, but I could never wear that dress."
She punched him on the arm, shaking her head. "That's why I like you, Messer. Never take anything that seriously except baseball."
"Don't remind me," Toni sighed. "He's still trying to explain it to me."
"She learned soccer and field hockey," Don assured her. "She can learn baseball and basketball." They all clapped as another person was honored. He was facing the door so he saw the person running in panting and bleeding first. "Shit, Sheldon!" He looked and got up to go help, Hammerback with him. The Chief paused. "No, go on. We can deal with this."
"Even at play, work calls out to them," the Chief admitted. "That's why they're CSI instead of the rest of us." That got some claps as they dealt with the situation with Flack. He noticed Sheldon went with her and a few of the guys from outside went as well, then Don gave a pointed look at the SVU tables. The Chief watched them play 'rock paper scissors' for who got to leave early, one of them laughing when he won and heading out. "I'll want a report on who had the bad taste," he called.
"Sure, sir," he called back, waving a hand. "I know, you know." He made it into the back of the ambulance before they left. "Hi, I'm Detective Fin Tutola."
Catherine finished packing her last box of stuff and looked around. "I could've sworn I had less stuff."
"If you didn't steal the stationary, it'd be less stuff," Don pointed out from his seat. "Are we taking your desk chair?"
"I've got a massaging one at home," she reminded him. He grinned at that, he had fallen asleep in it already. "I'm getting you your own." He nodded, liking that idea. "Okay, anything else we can see missing?"
Don pointed at the lab. "Out there." He stood up and helped her stand, handing her her cane so he could follow her into the lab portion. The update had happened and Stella had basically slept in there while they were working. She found a small present on the desk, giving him an odd look. "It's yours." He kissed her neck and sat down on a stool, pushing it over. "I promise it won't explode."
She leaned against the worktable, opening it slowly. She gasped, pulling out the locket and chain, opening it to find pictures of both labs. She laughed and hugged him. "I love it!"
"I thought you would." He put it on her, giving her a gentle kiss. "You ready?" She nodded. "You sure?" She shook her head. "You know damn well you'll be back up here within the month on a cold case," he offered quietly.
"We've got the equal of this lab at home, Don," she assured him. He blinked. "You didn't wonder what that room was?"
"I knew it was a lab but I didn't think you had everything out there."
"Some combo machines. The new projection and laser pointer screens Miami got. Horatio planned it." He smiled at that and stole another kiss. "I'm not ready to leave."
"It's quittin' time, Kate. Remember, we're going to spend a week in Miami dodging Frank and Alexx while you take a much needed vacation, and then we've got the event for him. Then we help Horatio behind his back to find the mole so he can join you and my countdown starts." The elevator opened and Danny came off in a t-shirt and jeans. "You helping?"
"Yeah, I figured she had carted a bunch of stuff up here. Stella wanted to remind you to take the condoms outta the desk." He smirked at her. "I still think it was cute how Horatio snuck you off after we took the victim away and had you in the bathroom." He kissed her on the cheek. "Everything packed?"
"I think so."
"Let me do a turn around to make sure. You rest. You'll need it to pounce Horatio tonight." She blushed at that and nodded, looking at Don, who smirked back. Danny gave him an odd look, that wasn't his usual sex smirk. That was a knowing smirk. He went to look around at everything, cleaning up the mess in the conference room that she and Stella had left. Her office had about ten boxes. He checked the desk, finding a few last things. He doubted Stella wanted her breast pump. He found a few more pictures among the books, and a few books he knew didn't belong to the lab. He found another box and got to work, bringing Don. "She forgot her personal reference set."
"I knew she forgot something. She always gets forgetful and blushy right after it's happened. I noticed that with the twins." Danny gave him an odd look so Don looked at the pump, then at him. Danny just grinned and nodded, leaving it there. "She said we've got a full lab at the house."
"I saw and drooled. A lot. Even Toni drooled." He found another picture and laughed. "I thought she was kidding about Flock of Seagull hair!" he snickered, having it snatched. "I can't believe you let her do that to you!"
"Yeah, yeah, anything for my girl," he sighed, shaking his head. "I can't believe you brought that one to the office!" he called.
"It was with the books!" She came in and looked, then moaned. "All but from the red one on are mine," she admitted.
"I can get another box," Don promised, sitting her down. "You stay." He headed off to do that, finding a few spares in Mac's office. "She forgot the reference books," he complained.
"I figured she would." He looked at him. "Did she like the present?"
"She adored it. She's still stroking it." He grinned and went back up there. When they were done, he and Danny each got a handtruck and carted stuff out to his car, Danny letting him come back up to gather her. She smiled at him, looking up from the locket. "You can always visit. We can always have them out, and you're still doing cold cases so you'll be in and out of here all the time," he reminded her gently, snapping it shut. He helped her up, kissing her soundly. "Car's loaded." She nodded, taking his arm to walk out with him. Her first day she had walked in by herself but she knew better now. It was almost symbolic. She smiled at the gathered people, hugging them all. "I'll miss you creatures."
"We'll miss you too," Sheldon assured her. "Don't make me deliver it if you guys have another kid, okay?" Don chuckled and shook his head. "Thank you." He patted her on the cheek. "Remember, we're still going to call you for advice. As often as we can." She nodded, smiling and tearing up. "Go. Before you make Mac mushy."
Danny hugged her. "Be out tonight for dinner," he whispered. She nodded so he let her go, leaning against Stella instead.
"Stella, I'm keeping a key," she promised. "Just in case something happens."
"Good! Make sure Horatio keeps his." She hugged her too. "Oooh, at least you left me the lumpy couch for paperwork headaches." Catherine smiled at that. "Go rest. It's been a long week." She let her go, going back to holding up Danny.
Mac shook her hand. "I wouldn't be half the CSI I am today if it wasn't for you and your foot up my ass now and then." She smirked at that. "Just think, now I'll get to train even more people the same way you trained me, Stella, and Danny." She smirked brighter. "I'll be waiting for the first call about cold cases that you want to see."
"Mine are in Don's desk. They go to Danny."
"Agreed." He opened the door for her. "There you go, Catherine. You deserve it." She smiled as she slid in, letting him get the door. He nodded at Don. "See you in a week, Don. Be good to her. Retiring is hard for everyone, even me," he said wisely. Don nodded, walking around to get in so he could drive them home. The whole team waved, smiling.
"I'm due out for dinner," Danny announced once they were out of sight, looking around. "I figured I'd give 'em an hour to have sex on the couch, that'll lift her mood. Anyone else coming?"
"I got invited when they get back but only if I bring her at least three cases," Sheldon said with a smile.
"Me too," Stella agreed. "Mac?"
"No, I'm expecting a faxed list." He shrugged. "We're not that close. I know why and it was my fault." He looked at the lab personnel. "Back inside. With our luck, crime will pick up."
"Don't say that, you'll make it happen," Danny complained. "Then Toni'll get really mad at you, again." He looked at Stella as they walked back inside. "I checked her desk just in case. You didn't get left the breast pump."
"Thanks, didn't think I'd need it. It probably hurts to milk yourself like a cow." Mac choked on that. "By the way, Mac, I'm still working cases. I'll take fewer ones, but no way in hell am I staying up there all the time."
"If you want," he promised. "I was counting on you being bored within a month and coming down to nag."
"Nope, not yet. My nagging skills are going to be saved for the cleaning crew for the time being. It was dusty." She walked off with Danny, talking to him about the case she was turning over if she didn't get it solved this weekend.
Mac called down to the morgue. "She's gone, Sid. You can break out the party favors," he joked.
"Pity, but I'll be seeing her soon I'm sure. Just as long as I don't have to deliver this next one."
"You know, Sheldon said the same thing. I'm hoping I'm out of the building by that time." Their ME laughed and hung up on him, going back to work. Mac settled in to read reports. He had an open case but he needed more tests to finish before he could start pulling things together.
Catherine came off the plane in Miami, looking around at the nearly deserted lounge area. She looked at the stewardess. "Something bad happen?"
"Someone nearly made it through security, ma'am." She smiled at her. "Did you need a wheelchair or special escort?"
"No, I've got husband number one with me somewhere." That got a smile and Don came off. "Come on, let's go see Horatio." He nodded, walking her toward the baggage claim. "She said someone tried to get through security improperly."
"I'm sure they'll fix it," he reminded her. They got down there and he made her sit since nothing was moving on any of the conveyors. "Looks like it was a bad day," he noted dryly. One down the row started to move and he checked, not their flight. A few people came over to grab things, so he went back to theirs, finding Eric sitting beside her. "You snuck in?"
"Of course. Horatio's yelling at a suspect." He grinned. "He wanted you guys driven in and he gave me his personal hummer." Don snickered at that. "So I'm to drop you off at home. You're having the night off tonight with him, then going to look at the house down here tomorrow, since it's nearly done, then we're having a cookout right before you guys go back. So Frank and everyone will bother you starting tomorrow. We're expecting wild sex and the patrol guys to have to come tell you to be more quiet."
Don burst out laughing, shaking his head. "We're not the noisy ones, that's Toni and Danny." He noticed his wife was blushing so he kissed her. "You're so cute."
"Thank you. Normally I'd be laughing."
He smirked. "You always get forgetful and blushy when you're newly pregnant, Kate. I noticed it with the twins and realized it was happening again with the monster. By the way, why is my mother watching Tim?"
"She demanded. Said a child his age was not allowed to fly and she pouted."
"Understood. So we can sneak up and take him?"
"Toni's sending him down in two days," she said with a wink. He grinned at that. Eric chuckled at that. "Don's parents are getting older and Tim's a holy terror already," she assured him. "He's only a few months old and he's a picky eater. I can't pump that far in advance so he'll start to complain about the formula about then. His dad agreed." Eric nodded, pointing behind her. She looked and waved at the scowling Frank. "I just barely got here, it wasn't my fault."
"Yes it was. They knew you were coming and came out to greet you in their usual psychotic way, Catherine." He walked in and hugged her. "We missed you, you make Horatio happy and laugh. He's pouted for the last week." He looked at the conveyor as it started to move. "Don?" He shrugged and went to wait on their bag. "I'm supposed to take you to the station but Alexx got overruled by Horatio, who said you needed a rest."
"Don thinks Horatio's in trouble."
"She's forgetful and blushing, Frank," Don called. "Just like she was with Tim."
"Ooooh," he said, smirking at her. "Should we stop to get you a test?"
"Yes, we probably should," Don agreed dryly, taking their bag off the belt and walking it back. "Okay. Purse?" She groaned and smacked herself on the head.
"I'll get it," Frank promised. He took note of the flight number.
"Gate 28," Don said helpfully.
"Thanks." He headed that way shaking his head. Apparently he was right. He flashed his badge. "Detective Cavanaugh left her purse on the plane?"
"Oh, yes, Detective, we found it," she promised, going to get it and the briefcase for him. "Here you go."
"He only mentioned a purse."
"It was under her seat." She frowned a bit. "Can you check and if not, hand it to security?"
"Sure," he agreed, walking off with them. He handed her the purse and held up the briefcase.
"Mine's safely back in our office in New York," she said, shrugging and looking at it. "Not a clue. Honey?" Don shrugged. He didn't even own one. "Not mine, Frank."
"That's fine. We'll hand it to security." He walked them off with Eric riding herd. Don ducked into the drugstore, coming out with a small paper bag. "Good idea. I'll even bring it to him." He looked at one of the security guys. "This was left on their flight under their seat but they say it's not theirs." He handed it over. "She left her purse so I'm being nice." The guys took note of his badge and name, then let them out of the airport. "Hummer, Eric?"
"Of course, what else would he have his wife ride in?" he teased. Catherine blushed again. "You never used to blush that much."
"She'll stop in another few weeks," Don promised. "Of course, we plan on going back with an extra bag of stuff since she needs to shop for the formal down here." Catherine nodded. "We wanted something more stately since Horatio still has to work for at least another six months."
"Probably more like a year," Eric sighed. "The mole might be found by then but we just pulled a mafia case." Don hissed and winced. "Exactly. They made him take over for Wolfe when it was found since it's so high profile." He got them into the hummer, putting the bag into the back. "Frank, am I driving you in?"
"Nah, I'll follow and meet you there." Eric smiled and got in to drive, Frank moving so they could head off. Then he went for his car so he could laugh the whole way there. Another baby Flack, that'd be a trip and a half.
Frank walked into Horatio's office without a knock, putting something in front of him. "Your wife and husband said to give that to you."
"Who's that?" someone on the speaker asked.
"Frank, Ray. Give me a few?" He put him on hold and looked at the small device, then at him. "Two lines?"
"She was blushing and forgot her purse on the plane."
"Interesting." He looked at it again, then stood up and put on his jacket. He clicked back to Ray's line. "I've got to head home, Ray. Can we have lunch?"
"Sure, Uncle Horatio. Not a problem. Tell Aunt Catherine I said hi and Uncle Don too. Oh, and congratulations." He hung up with a chuckle of his own.
Horatio took the device, heading home with it. "Thank you, Frank."
"Yeah, I love being the messenger," he called after him, snickering as Horatio practically ran out of the lab. He looked over as Calleigh walked up to him looking confused. "She's blushing, forgetful, and just had me hand him a strip test."
"Hmm, sounds like they're going to be celebrating tonight then. Good." She smiled at him. "I've got a gun match for you."
"Oooh, a good one?" he asked, following her back.
"Not really but it's nice enough." He grinned at that. "Right in your lap too."
"That one someone tossed into my back seat?"
"Went to a homicide three years back," she said proudly, handing him the report. He chuckled and hugged her, then went to find that person so they could have a chat.
Calleigh went to find Ryan and Alexx, who were doing a post. "Catherine had Frank present him with a pregnancy test," she crowed.
"Danny bragged that Horatio had slipped off with her to the bathroom after she was honored," Ryan said with a grin. "The boss still here?"
"No, I saw him nearly running off."
"Good," Alexx agreed. "He should. Hopefully this one is his since Tim's obviously Don's."
"They said they didn't care who the biological father was," Ryan reminded her, grinning at her now. "To Don they're all his and to Horatio they're all his step-kids."
"Step nothing. There's no such thing as a step anything in Horatio's family, baby. You should know that. Timmy Flack is as much his as Don's, even if he's not the biological father. The same as the other three insane ones are." Gordon stuck his head in. "They're in but we think your mother's pregnant."
"Well, Uncle Horatio and she did have a really good moment during the ball." He walked in and shrugged. "Ryan, I need help with my homework. I hate Chem. Can I bug you later?"
"Sure. After work?"
"As long as it's before midnight, sure." He grinned. "I'll even buy dinner."
"That's more than reasonable," he agreed. "Not going to run off to see them?"
"Within ten minutes of Daddy Horatio getting home, she's going to be naked, pleading for mercy, and getting it up both sides. I don't need to see that for real. I've got a pretty good imagination." They all laughed at that. "It helps that I walked in on her and Horatio once when I was younger." He looked at Alexx. "If she is, Sheldon said to warn you that he almost delivered Timmy."
"I heard, sugar. I heard. If necessary, we can do that." He grinned and escaped. "Some days I wonder about his sanity then I figure his daddy gave him that gene too." The others laughed at that, leaving her alone.
Horatio walked in, walking in front of his wife, put his hands on his hips, and stared. "You had Frank deliver it?"
"I didn't even look at the results. Don sent it," she said weakly. She held up a hand. "Kiss?" she asked hopefully.
He pulled her up, handing Don the rest of her candy bar. Then he kissed her and carried her off to the bedroom. "Is this one mine?"
"Most likely since Don threw his back out that night and hasn't been in the mood." She nibbled on his lips, then grinned at him. "I am?" He nodded, kissing her senseless and begging. "Wow."
"Very." He stripped them both and went to worship her as she should be worshiped.
Don came to the doorway, licking off his fingers. "Should I start the jacuzzi or the hot tub?"
"Neither. She'll be much too tired to move, Don." He moved down to taste her, making her moan and grab his head. Don came in to help unwind him and give her something to moan around, leaving him totally free to taste and tease her any way he wanted to.
Both of them ignored the phone when it rang but she tried for it. She panted. "What?" She swallowed air greedily. "Huh? Slower and more clearly, Eric. Busy!" She squealed and twisted. "Horatio!"
He took the phone. "It had better be a national emergency," he warned. He listened. "All right, that's a good reason. We'll go to the new house. Thank you." He hung up. "Someone just called Yelina with a bomb threat for this house."
"Then we head," Don agreed, helping her sit up and get redressed. He zipped his pants and grabbed the bag, then some of Horatio's favorite suits. Horatio added a few more with a look for him. "What? I don't like you in that one."
"It's comfortable, Don."
"Pity." He watched Catherine walk out. "Where are you going?" He followed but she was packing some food. "We can order, honey." She grabbed a special bottle and waved it. He blanched and packed that into the bag, then let Horatio get some stuff out of the office. Including their wedding video. He packed the hummer, doing a check over it. She got under the hood to make sure, she was still better with cars. Horatio hurried out and slammed the door, then moved her and slammed the hood. "In?"
"In now," he ordered calmly. She got into the passenger's seat, he got into the back. They backed out and away from the house, watching as it exploded. "It was in the office." She hugged him. "Shh, I'm okay," he promised, stroking her back. "It's all right, Catherine." She shook her head. "Yes it is. I promise it is. It wasn't even sold yet." He watched as the fire department and officers answered, Frank stopping next to him. "It was in my office, Frank."
"Gotcha. They okay?"
"Tired and sore. We're fine. We were here when it exploded. We're heading to the new house. Call." Frank nodded at that, heading into the scene. Horatio drove them off, heading for their new house. "It has no furniture."
"We can do that tonight," she promised, wiping her face off. "Don, my purse?"
"Shit." He looked behind them and sighed. "In the back seat still."
"Good. Then we can do the furniture thing first?" Horatio nodded at that. "Should we check that one?"
"No one knows it's ours," Horatio reminded her. "We put it under the consulting office's name." He reached over to hold her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. "We'll be fine, Catherine. Just calm down."
"Mafia case most likely. They're not shy down here when they're pissed." She nodded, giving his hand a squeeze. "Don, should we drop you off?"
"No, I'm pretty good. I thought we had all the furniture shipped, Kate."
"I thought we had too. We should go there then shop."
"If you want," he agreed, going the long way so they had time to calm down. He pulled into their newly laid driveway and parked, letting her get out. He grabbed the bags and the boxes with Don, plus her purse. She tapped in the security code with a great big smile, getting out of the way.
"I knew we had sent it," Don said happily, heading for the living room. Horatio dropped her purse and their bag in the bedroom then came out to help them set out the important things, like the pictures he had gathered of the family. He pulled Horatio closer. "You had most of the important stuff in storage," he reminded him gently, just holding him. "We can get into there tomorrow." Horatio nodded, holding him for now. Catherine stripped off and headed for their bedroom, drawing their attention the easy way. "Her cane?"
"I didn't grab it," he admitted.
"Me either. We'll have to go food shopping anyway," he pointed out, heading after her, Horatio smirking and trailing behind him. He pounced their wife, getting her laid out prettily on the bed while he kissed her, moving one of her knees out of the way so Horatio got a good look at what was his. Horatio purred as he joined them, getting back to what he had been doing. He could grieve for his old house and the remaining things later. It hadn't been much. Some clothes, old bank statements. Things he still had to throw out. Food. He looked at his hand and moaned. "My wedding ring was there. I got acid on it the other day," he said at Don's long stare. "Sorry."
"We can get you a new one," she promised, pulling him up to kiss him. "I had to get mine cleaned, I dropped a sperm sample on it." Don shuddered. "I cleaned it off then took it to be professionally cleaned."
"Good!" He kissed her again. "Can they challenge that?"
"No, he made a deal and we told his lawyer and excluded any possible sample that might've been on it. Turns out I had Danny's skin on it from where I scratched him with the new table."
Horatio smiled at them. "We're insane."
"We are," she agreed happily. "Especially for having baby number *five*. Have we realized this?"
"My dad'll throw a party," Don assured her, kissing her stupid. "Horatio, I like to see her blush. Think you can turn her rosy pink all over?"
"I can certainly try." His cell rang so he let Don get it, his mouth wasn't busy.
"Flack," he answered, listening. "No, we didn't bring ours. My boss and everyone up there knows to call Horatio if something happens. What's up, Wolfe?" He sat up, listening, making talking motions with his hand. "Anything survive? No, we're at the new house. It's not in our names, Wolfe, and if they come here, I'm siccing the wife on them."
"Over my dead body," Horatio said quietly. "I'll sic Yelina on them first. She's not getting into trouble this time."
Don smirked at him. "Good luck with that project, Horatio." He smirked back. He listened to Wolfe. "Thanks, man. No, we're safe. I promise we're safe. I'm a decent shot, Horatio's a decent shot, and she's just below marksman." He looked at the wife when she snored. "No, we're fine. Thanks, keep us informed." He hung up and kissed his mate. "Bathtub or hot tub?"
"Hmm, bathtub. I want to try it out since I haven't been in here yet." He stood up and let Don strip him, getting his pants and shirt for him. Then Don led the way into the parlor of his delights. He moaned at the sight of the extra-large tub. "That's nice."
"With sixteen jets and padded backrest," Don promised, patting one. "The only problem we've found is that the drain doesn't always catch." He found the small rubber flat disc and flopped it in there, then engaged the drain. The water came out steamy and hot, and he let Horatio adjust it for them both. He even added a hint of bubbles, earning a smile. "Every guy's gotta have a bubble bath now and then," he defended.
"True," Horatio agreed, climbing in with a sigh of pleasure. "It's not very deep."
"It was depth or width. We went for width and it's plenty deep in the other seat. That one comes up to her breasts." Horatio shifted over, liking that one more. Don snuggled up to his side, turning off the taps with his toes once the tub was filled enough. "If you sit the shallow way your feet hang into this deeper area. If you sit here, you have to rest your feet on the other seat. It wasn't the best but the one we found that we thought you'd like." He reached over, flipping the knob for the jets to the setting he liked. Horatio moaned in pleasure and pulled Don into his lap, earning a grin. "I thought you might like the one that was just under where you were sitting. It's a very good feeling."
"It is," he agreed, kissing him. "For that, I'll even bottom tonight. It can get me ready."
"That's just one thing I've got for you tonight, Horatio. I promise, there's many surprises we had hidden around here." That got another moan and another kiss. "We were thinking about a pool later."
"Not necessary down here. Maybe up there." He shifted Don, giving him better path to mutual pleasure.
Horatio walked around the house, liking the kitchen. It was cosy but not too tiny. It fit the informal table in there with more than enough room to work around. It wasn't a professional kitchen but a family kitchen. He looked out the back door, seeing the stunning view of the beach and the surf. He walked out the back door, finding the baby gate built into the frame with a smile. The hot tub was on a small dias of its own, giving a totally unobstructed view of the water and beach. They had a small table on the other side. There was a small lawn between them and the beach. He walked down there, feeling the sponginess of the grass. He looked at the back of the house, smiling at the third floor. Both houses had their own lab on the third floor, plus an elevator that led up to the other floors. He walked back inside, going to investigate further. The personal office was also on this floor, hidden off to the side by their bedroom. It had a wonderful view of the front yard. He noticed a few of their neighbors had decorated with fountains and statues but he liked a plain lawn. It was nice to watch grow. He headed up the stairs to check the other rooms. They were all furnished just like the other house, then up to their lab. He found his wife in there watching tv on the projection monitors. "The tv downstairs is huge," he teased.
"Yeah, but we've got the instant replay up here. There was a camera crew when we came out." She pointed at the other comfy chair so he sat, letting her rewind the picture. He watched, taking the remote to slow it down.
"Hmm." He rewound it and watched it again. He looked at the remote, frowning. His wife handed him the laser stylus for the more computer oriented applications. He clicked on the computer imaging software, taking that captured picture and blowing it up. He could clearly see who had been beside their house. He tapped on an icon. "Is the email set up?"
"Toni said she got the whole house wired and it was. If not, copy and paste or attach it in your normal one. I know we can get onto the web, that's where I got the video feed from." He nodded, clicking on the email icon. It came up and he took the small wireless keyboard to log in, making her smile at his password. "We love you too."
He smiled at her. "Does this mean we're turning on the other machines?"
"Not yet. Not until the vacation is done unless we need it." He nodded and sent that message to Eric. Who called. "What?" she answered. "No, I'm not grumpy. I'm sitting here watching Horatio blow up pictures from the live feed. Check your inbox, he sent you one already. Sure." She handed over the phone. "The lab kid."
Horatio smiled. "You knew I had stepchildren, Catherine. After all, ours are mine as well. I simply adopted these other ones." He listened to Eric chuckle. "I might as well have, Eric. Check your inbox. I sent you a picture I enhanced. There was someone beside the house right before it blew. Then he ran off so he knew what was going on. It was right before we came out. Erica's station was already there and waiting. I'm sure. Thank you." He hung up. "Do the Feds know you blackmailed them into giving us this system?" he asked as he started the face recognition program.
"Nope. Pity. I thought about filing for the federal level stuff again but I wasn't sure if you wanted to go through that."
"I wouldn't mind, Catherine, but it should be listed as a research-only one." She nodded, agreeing to that. "Even though we will be going over all the cold case files."
"Do you two ever *not* work?" Don complained as he walked in with a bowl of popcorn.
"We were looking over the video feed from the other house," Catherine offered, taking the bowl from him. "Thanks, dear."
He snorted and took it back, then pulled her up and sat down with her in his lap. "If you can share Horatio you can share popcorn." He fed Horatio a piece when he looked their way. "She can."
"She can," he agreed, going back to it. "Ah, that face I know." He sent that to Eric as well, then he leaned back, turning on the massage function. "Where is the other stuff?"
"Hidden behind the cabinets. The Mass Spec is the blue handle. The comparison microscope pulls up from under the counter. The other stuff is hidden but their input devices all either pull down, pull up, or pull out in the case of the firing bed." She pointed. "That's over the other section of the house. You have to go through the closet for it."
"That's fine," he agreed, getting up to look. Everything did either pull down, up, or out so they could use it and put it back when necessary. Someone rang the bell, making him groan but go down to see who it was. "Erica," he said blandly. "You shouldn't be here."
"What is here?" she asked, giving him an impatient look. "You left the scene of a crime?"
"It was my house. I couldn't work on it. Plus my spouse is in."
"Don't you mean your *spouses* are in?"
Ryan walked up behind her, handcuffs out. He grabbed one wrist and pulled it behind her back, cuffing her, then the other one when she jerked. He patted her down and handed over the tape recorder. "Let me put her in her van." He walked her that way. "How stupid are you?" he hissed. "You know damn good and well no one pisses off Horatio Caine about his spouse."
"Which one?" she sneered.
"Both. She's more deadly and their husband is a wonderful cop." He found her keys and got her in, then patted her down again before planting her butt behind the driver's seat. He locked the door, then took the microphone off her earring, and the wire it was attached to, ripping the tape off her chest, making her wince. "Next time, shave. That's how the pros do it." He slammed the door, heading back to hand that over as well. "Pictures? Eric can't get to his email."
"I sent the ID as well."
"His phone won't connect; the PD's server is down, yet again."
"Fine." He let him in and showed him up to the lab. "That's my chair," he warned.
"I can sit on the floor for all I care," Ryan admitted, taking the stuff he recognized from their office. "Where is it?"
"His sent folder. Or the screens in the background. The live feed was paused." He nodded, going into those to make notes. "Can we save that down to CD for him, Horatio?"
"I can," he agreed. "I need to know where the burner is," Ryan offered. He grinned back at her. "You seriously want Danny and Mac to beg, don't you?" She smirked and nodded. "I will if it helps." Horatio snorted but he put a CD into the burner, turning it on. Ryan selected the tag sitting on the front of it, then clicked the 'burn me, baby' button. "Toni?"
"Yup," Don agreed, eating another piece of popcorn then feeding her one. He pulled Horatio down to kiss him when he got close enough. "You, her, hot tub or you, her, bed?" he asked.
"I think we should see if she can sit in the hot tub first," he offered, kissing both of them. "What did Erica want this time, Mr. Wolfe?"
"Not a clue. I locked her in her in van still in the cuffs after reminding her not to piss you off about them." He glanced back again. "We all know you'd get cranky if she tried to say anything openly about them. Therefore she won't if she wants the department's continued good will." He looked at the still, burning it down as well. Then he cleaned up his work area and got up, smiling at them. "If you need us, we'll be there. Horatio, part of your bedroom remained, including most of your closet. Yelina said she'd send whatever she found that was wearable to the cleaners for you. Also, she said your real estate agent called. Said to have you call her." Horatio nodded at that. "She said you were destressing, it'd be tomorrow." He took the CD out of the burner and walked off with it, smiling and happy when he locked the door behind him. He waved at Erica. "Next time, don't pry."
"I have sources I can name!" she called. He waved the CD. "I got it from a hitman!"
He considered it then walked over to let her out and into his car, not taking the cuffs off her. "If you can convince Eric, you can get free." He drove off, leaving her van there. It's not like it'd get stolen from their front yard. He parked back at the crime scene a few minutes later and got out, holding up the CD. "Since our servers are down I copied everything he had, including the raw feed off the web that she found." Frank smirked at that. "Also, she said she has sources. So if she wants unlocked, she's got to convince you and Eric." He tossed over her keys, then put the CD carefully into the envelope Eric held out. "All yours, man, and they've got a sweet lab. Everything's put away but it can pull out. They've got the *big* projection screen like we do in the trial lab." Eric moaned at that. "Plus vibrating massage recliners in front of it." Frank moaned at that. "Yeah, and that's just the lab! They were talking hot tub versus jacuzzi for later pleasure. We won't be seeing Horatio until the dinner unless we catch them shopping." He went to get sucked back in. "Those are my cuffs, Eric."
"Sure," he called, smirking at Frank. "Think she'll get to go shopping? She didn't bring anything formal."
"Horatio will have to. I doubt they rescued most of his clothes." He looked at the wreck of the house then back at him. "He had stuff in storage, right? To move it once the house was ready?"
"He was down to his bedroom and a few things in the office, plus the kitchen," Eric assured him with a grin. "Everything else is over on Broad in storage." Frank sighed in pleasure. "So he'll still need clothes. I saw his dresser on fire out back. I doubt Don would let him go commando very often."
"I don't want that thought," Frank complained, going to talk to Erica. He helped her out and out of the cuffs, rubbing her wrists. He smiled sweetly. "So, you had some information beyond what we got off the webfeed?"
"I know who tipped the station," she said quietly, glancing around. "I did a name search, I think he's a hitman."
"Oooh, more and more interesting. Gimme," he ordered, wiggling his fingers. She sighed and led him off to talk to him in private, away from the other press people. He nodded, making notes. "So, why did you find Horatio's new house?"
"I wanted a statement since he pulled away."
"Not like he was going to stay here. He was moving this weekend, Erica." She pouted at that. "Word of advice. Never get in Horatio's face about his love life. Even those of us who don't like a threesome and think it's wrong, like how happy it makes him. A smiling Horatio is a nice Horatio. A pouting Horatio is hell on the lab and the rest of us."
"You don't like it?"
"Not me. I love those two. They make Horatio happy. I've known 'em since they came down on a crossover years ago. Catherine and Horatio clicked immediately and at that time Catherine was still saying Don was like her little brother. Horatio's just persuasive." He grinned at her. "Anything else?"
"Can I get a quote?" she asked hopefully.
"Later tonight, when we've got a suspect."
"Really. As long as you leave off his spouses and Wolfe."
"Done," she agreed, heading off to bother her fellow reporters and her cameraman. He gave her an odd look. "It's at the other place I went for the quote. Wolfe brought me back in handcuffs for bothering his source. They got into the webfeed and found something."
"Oooh," he offered quietly. "You okay?"
"Yeah, but he's really strong." She rubbed her wrists. "Can we go live?" He nodded, handing over the microphone, waiting while she checked her hair. "This is Ercia Sykes...."
Horatio moaned as they were once again interrupted by the phone. He growled into it for an answer. He heard the babble that they had someone, to go back to what he had been doing, they've already confessed and were going away for life. Then they hung up. He tossed the phone down and went back to making his wife insane with need. He was just about to sink deeper into her body when the phone rang again. "Don, bite them."
Don grabbed the phone. "It had better be a God Fucking Emergency, Danny," he warned. Horatio's phone had Caller ID. "What do you mean someone tried to shoot the station?" He sat up, listening. "Everyone okay?" He nodded at Horatio's worried look. "No, we're cool. We made it out in time and all that. Thanks, man. Yeah, send her and Gwen down with the kids if you have to. Thanks. Or ask Mac. He has a hidey hole or use the resort, man. Thanks for letting us know." He hung up. "Everyone's fine. They tried to firebomb the front of the station with malotovs. Mac is not a happy camper and he's about to go Rambo on someone." Catherine snickered at that mental image. "Danny wanted to know about evacuation procedures."
"What you said," Catherine assured him. "Resort, here, or safety if Mac's got a place. We'll have someone bring the baby down." She held out a hand and Don handed over the phone. She dialed from memory. "Daddy, send my son down here, now." She hung up, tossing the phone onto the floor. "There, done." She wiggled. "Horatio!" she whined. He smiled and went back to thrusting into her. Don got to work making her happy and she fell asleep with a smile on her face right after Horatio finished off, and Don got the blow of his life from their spouse.
Don looked at Horatio, who nodded. They covered her and snuck off, going to the lab to make calls. "I'm worried that it's someone who wouldn't consider coming after us while she was there," he said quietly. "Someone like Sonny Sassone."
"Not an option," Horatio assured him. "He's down here on vacation." He grimaced. "Punk bastard." Don nodded at that. "I'll call Mac, you call Danny back. Get a full account now." They went to different phones, dialing their various contacts. "Mac, Horatio. What happened, who's hurt, and do you need us?" He heard the report. "No, Don was concerned it had something to do with someone like Sonny, who wouldn't have dared to come near the station while she was there." He glanced at Don. "No, he's down here on vacation," he admitted. "Thank you." He hung up and called Calleigh. "You know that imbecile I had you watching? Track him. I want him found and brought in for me tomorrow. I think he knows who attacked the station in New York. No, Mac said no injuries. Stella got a graze but nothing serious. Firebomb, it was debris. Thank you." He hung up and looked at him. "Mac said he'd probably have the information they'd need."
"Good." Don hung up and looked at him. "Everyone's fine. My dad said her dad already had the baby picked up by Justin since he's coming this way next week anyway. He'll spend the night with him then come down." Horatio nodded at that. "Justin told him it wasn't a family related thing but it was case related. That's all they'd heard. You want her or me?"
"I want Toni and Danny actually," he admitted dryly. Don smirked at the evilness of that suggestion. "Think we could?"
"I know we could." He called Toni. "Honey, it's dad. Did you know Sonny's down here? We think he knows who the bomber was and what it was about. No, Horatio wanted to know if you wanted to meet him." He smirked at Horatio and nodded. "We'll be at the new house, baby. Come on down with Justin since I doubt he's not flying first class." He hung up. "She's a rabid bitch to protect her baby."
"Good. She's not pregnant right?"
"No, thankfully she's on the shot Catherine can't take due to age." Horatio smiled at that. "She said it won't happen until she can be called Doctor."
"Good. I like that much better than the early childbearing that seems to happen in this family." He stood up and pulled Don up, kissing him hard. "We should get back down there before she misses us." He nodded so they closed up the lab again and headed down.
Toni walked into the station, smiling at the receptionist. "My father called for me to join him here for an interrogation?" she asked smoothly.
"Who is your father, ma'am?"
"Miss, please. Not that old. Horatio Caine." The receptionist's eyes went wide so she smiled. "I'm Toni, twin to Gordon." The woman nodded and called the CSI labs. Calleigh came out, giving her a horrified look. "Daddy Horatio said to come talk to Sonny personally." She smiled sweetly. "May I?"
"He's not here yet."
"Sonny, or Daddy?" She walked past her. "He's on his way in. Danny had to stop to drop off Tim." She found the interrogation rooms and Frank, who gave her a horrified look. "Daddy asked me to come down, Frank." She tapped on the door and walked in, glaring at the lawyer. "I'd leave, putz."
"You are?" Sonny asked, looking her over. She was dressed in one of the business suits that Danny had made her get. It made her look very hot and very smart. "Besides eye candy?"
"Antonia Cavanaugh." He straightened up at that. There wasn't a connected New Englander who didn't know who she was and what she was about. "You attacked what was dear to me, Sonny. I said leave," she snapped. The lawyer ran out. "God, do you always surround yourself with morons?" She shut the door and sat across from him. "Now then, we need to talk. You know who attacked what is precious to me."
"My mate, Sonny. He was in there."
"A fine woman like you is tied down already?"
"Yup, to the best of the best. Smart, strong, tough, and great in bed."
"I can guarantee you there's better, honey."
She leaned over to pinch him on the cheek. "You're cute, but dickless. Let's not play this game. I know I'm hot. I know I'm skilled. I know I can hack everything in your accounts, give it to my mother, the former CSI, and have her ruin you for bothering her protege."
"Taylor?" he asked.
"Messer." He gaped and she smirked. "She likes Danny a hell of a lot. Considers him family." She tapped her fingers on the table. "Focus, Sasssone. Quit staring at my tits. I want to know who tried to attack what was dear to me. You can tell me and I'll tell Daddy Horatio and Daddy Don, or you can tell them and Mom, who is going to rip you a new one." He whimpered. "I see you've met my mother." She smiled sweetly. "Up to you, princess."
"Hey! I please all the women!"
"Yup, I'm sure you do, but my guy can make me scream for hours on end loud enough to make my family complain from across the house. I'm sure yours just whimper. So even if you're good, mine's better."
"Some cop," he sneered. "You deserve better with your pedigree."
She smirked. "You'd be surprised at what I've got and who said he doesn't have a pedigree of his own? After all, I had to pick someone who could equal me, someone I couldn't run over. Someone strong enough to rein me in when people start to get onto me to use my pedigree. Now, give me a name and I'll leave you alone. Right now, you're an information source unless we find out you had something to do with the firebombing. I can guarantee you Taylor's heard and he's on his way down. Fortunately we had Tim in the plane with Brad so we got here faster. Grandfather was *very* upset." He shuddered at that. "Mom had to stop having sex with her husbands over this. I almost didn't get any last night either. Now, name?"
"If I do, I wanna meet the guy you think is hotter than me."
"Done. He should be here soon. He flew down with me. He's horribly worried I'll go back to the old ways." He blanched at that. "We understood?"
"We're crystal," he said firmly. "I don't nark."
She leaned closer and stroked his cheek. "Sonny, either you tell me who to focus my anger on for doing that and stopping my sex life or else I'm going to have to take it out on you and yours," she said dryly. "Tanglewood will fall under my very tiny stiletto heel. Not like daddy didn't teach me everything he knew, all of them. Not like I couldn't go to grandfather right now and have your whole group undercut by Pelham."
That was a sore spot with him, his rival gang. Then again, she was connected.... "I want them out of my way," he said. "You help me with that, I give you names."
She smiled. "What? You mean like they're double-crossing the Russians?" He looked stunned so she smiled at the man coming in. "Hi, baby. Sonny, I believe you know my fiance." She held up a hand and Danny moved closer. "Like I said, I needed someone who *equaled* my brilliance." Sonny swallowed. "Now, you want help with Pelham, I can tell you who they've fucked with so you can tip them off. They've fucked with two of the Russian syndicates. One of them being Yuri's boys. They double-dealed him and then cut their pipeline there." Sonny moaned and Danny stroked her neck, earning a happy smile and a kiss to his hand. "Thank you, baby." She looked at him again. "That good enough?"
"More than," he agreed quietly, staring at Messer. "You and her?"
"She's mine; I even ended up taking her to her prom."
"I heard she had a thug on her arm." He swallowed at her glare, realizing it was just like her grandfather's. There weren't many people he respected but her grandfather had earned it for being reasonable and fair to everyone, no matter who it was. "You got strings?"
"I go by the honor code," she assured him. "The full honor code. Tit for tat, Sonny. Now. Or else I'm going to have to get pissed and react." She tipped her head to the side. "Capice?"
He nodded and wrote out a few names. "He knows most of them from the old days."
"I know. I kiss that tattoo every night because it means he understands." She stood up. "You've got two minutes, Sonny. Don't fuck with his head. I do thank you though."
He nodded. "Welcome, Antonia. Can we do business?"
"I'm Messer's future wife. What do you think?"
"Point," he agreed, nodding. He understood fully. "I heard you went straight from your seventeenth." She nodded at that, smiling at Danny when he tipped his head in her direction. She kissed him and he moaned a tiny little moan. He knew then. "I release you from me and mine," he said, standing up. "Can I go?"
She looked at him and smiled. "Thank you for the wedding present, Sonny. That was very generous of you." She held out a hand and he shook it. "I'll check." He nodded, sitting back down and slouching. "Play nicely," she whispered, leaving them alone.
Danny looked at him. "You got somethin' ta say?"
"No, man, you're lucky. I heard about her past."
"She told me what she thought I needed to know and about her training."
Sonny nodded. "Good. She tell you about the guy who almost took her?" Danny nodded. "You've got one hell of a girl in her."
He grinned. "I know. Thank you."
"Not an issue. I don't tangle with the Cavanaugh clan. Antonio is known for being fair and his granddaughter is in love. Anything that hurts that, gets both barrels up the ass."
Danny nodded. "Basically. She drug my ass outta bed to come talk to you." He looked him over. "Why are you in Miami?"
"Hmm. Good. You look like you could use a drying out, Sonny. You're pale." He shrugged and backed up. "Remember, they player harder and different ball than we did on the streets. Horatio made sure of it."
"Who is Horatio?"
"Caine. Lieutenant Caine. Her newest daddy along with Flack."
Sonny swallowed. "She's a strong woman, her daughter takes after her. She trained you?"
"Took me in as a pseudo-kid. Even before Toni wanted me."
Sonny nodded. "Good. I heard she mentored some of kids who went straight. She's done you good, Messer. Like I said, I release you fully. I never wanna see you again."
"Good. Works for me." He backed up and then turned, heading out to talk to his girlfriend.
Sonny slouched just a bit more. Having Messer as an enemy was now too dangerous. Even if she wasn't going to use her connections, she was still the dangerous one in that family. Someone else came in and he blinked at them. "Who're you?"
"Gordon, Toni's twin." He smirked. He handed over the list of names. "Aliases or real names? We can't find them in the system so I was wondering."
Sonny looked and wrote out first names, then handed it over. "I tend to go by last most of the time. Your family is everything in my world."
"Yeah, that's why mine's so hard on everyone but us." He grinned. "Being Antonia's twin is just like that. And you're in my town, Sonny." He nodded at that. "Don't play with the drugs down here. If you're here for a vacation, go watch bikinis on the beach. I do nearly every weekend. They're very pretty and very relaxing."
"Thank you. Remember me if something should necessitate you to call us. Grandfather taught us both the honor code."
"If something like that happens, I'll call directly. Your boss?"
"Won't like it. He'll sneer at you for it, but he believes even thugs deserve justice so the streets don't run red. The same as Mom does."
"Agreed. You know about my gang?"
"I've heard. A few of them tried me once and Mom kicked their ass." He grinned. "They were not happy to be kicked in the nuts by the female with the cane."
He shuddered. "I remember that incident. I was indisposed, they were dumb."
"Get smarter people, Sonny."
"Smarter people can turn on you. Dumb ones are always more loyal."
"Yeah, but then you don't have backup in case something happens. Dumb ones react with muscles. Smart ones think their way out and cover their tracks so you don't end up indisposed."
"Point. I'll consider it."
"Thank you. Go watch the bikinis. We'll find you if we hear you were involved."
"Thank you." He stood up and strode out, looking like he owned the world. He did nod politely at Toni. You didn't piss off the person who could hack you and take all your money while eating peanut butter sandwiches. Since she could do banks, she could definitely do his accounts. But hey, she found a use for Messer. His father would be proud of his errant son.
Danny looked at his girlfriend. "I'm going to yell."
She kissed him on the cheek. "It was a fair trade and the Pelham Boys are being a blight. They quit going by the honor code. Siccing him on them means he can't do anything to harm others, like you, dear." He looked stunned. "He's never coming near you again, not to ask for anything, nothing. I will destroy Tanglewood if he does. He got that hint." He swallowed and nodded. "Good." She kissed him again and smiled at her twin. "Got anything I need to handle?"
"Yeah, taking Mom shopping for the reception down here, dear." He looked at them. "Danny, I'll give you what I can within the hour." That got a nod. "Good, go fight outside. Horatio would get really pissed at a screaming match in here."
"No screaming needed," she assured him. "Straight honor code, tit for tat trade. He wanted Pelham out of the way. I want them to quit working near the house. Gets them out of my way and less strife in the streets for a bit until the power vacuum fills. Besides, they've been stupid enough to double-deal the Russians. I'd rather have someone like Sonny do it instead of someone like them do it since some of the syndicate boys don't go by the honor code and they don't care about innocent bystanders or collateral damage. Less bodies is always good."
Danny considered it then nodded slowly. "That would work that way." He looked at her. "You live by the honor code?" She nodded. "Interesting."
"Grandfather made sure all of us did." She kissed him again. "Are you okay?"
"I'm not sure if I'm pissed or scared." He frowned at her. "You knew better. You said you were staying clear."
"I am. All I had to do was state my credentials. He knew very well if I reported a word of that conversation to grandfather both his group and Pelham would be gone within weeks." Danny nodded that was true. "I'm sorry if I stepped on toes."
"No, you didn't. It was nice that he fears you."
She smirked at him. "Daddy spread around that I could hack. He's scared to death I could unravel everything and hand it to someone, like you." He smirked back and kissed her. "Please don't be mad?"
"I'm not mad, princess, but we're gonna have another long talk about you going into stuff where I should be backing you up."
"I knew you'd come in and this way I got to taunt him about you being the better man," she soothed, running her hands up his chest. "I even got in a couple of really good jabs."
"I heard." He kissed her. "No one else had better even try to make you scream like I do," he assured her.
"Ick," Gordon noted loudly. "Outside." Danny gave him a look. "I don't want to listen to you have foreplay with my twin sister. I get enough of that from her and our bond," he said, walking off.
"Within a year you'll have a girlfriend too," Toni called after him. "Or else I'm going to start setting you up with my friends"
"Make sure they have brains. I have an intelligence requirement in my women," he called back. Eric stopped to look at him. "She's threatening to set me up with her friends."
"How do you test for IQ in a club?"
"I talk to them. If they can't carry on a conversation with more than their hips and tits, it's not for me. It's for lesser thinking men who only want sex. I want more than just sex. I'll take just sex but I want more than just sex some day soon."
Eric shook his head. "You're really odd at times, Gordon."
"It comes from being raised by girls," he said dryly, heading off. "Sonny gave up some names to Toni. They're having 'my background' foreplay discussions next to the interview rooms."
"Okay," he said slowly then turned to follow their assistant. Anything was better than watching the cute and cuddly duo. Frank could do that, he had a much higher sugar tolerance.
Catherine walked up to where Eric was waiting on her, sitting next to him. "Can you help me shop so I can stun them both?"
He smirked. "You're being evil."
"Of course I am but it was you or Ryan and Ryan doesn't seem like he appreciates women the way you do. You have an eye for beauty and I'll come out looking like I was made to drool on. He'd dress me so I looked hot, but cute."
"I don't know," he offered. "From what I saw in that one club, Hardware? His picture showed he liked leather girls." He sipped his coffee. "You sure?"
"Can you see me walking into the Police Officer's Ball in leather when my man is being honored?" He smirked and shook his head. "I can but I shouldn't." He laughed at that, nodding. "Please? I'll even buy you lunch since I heard you're a bottomless pit."
"Sure." He waved for the check, letting her get it. "So, anything really important coming up?"
"I am pregnant."
"I figured Don would know." She blushed a bit. "How long will you be doing that?"
"Too long from what he complains about." She took his arm. "I drove."
"The hummer? He lets you drive the hummer?"
"No, but Don's got a bike down here and I did steal it for the day." He gaped and she grinned. "Please, Eric, I've been riding since I was sixteen. I taught Don how to ride." He spluttered. "I know I'm a girl. I can also rebuild an engine nearly as fast as any mechanic in the city." He moaned and nodded, getting on behind her. "I like the classics instead of the racing bikes," she offered, patting the handlebars.
"Speed drove a racing bike, a Ducati."
"Horatio has a picture of him on it at the beach," she agreed, handing him back a helmet. "I know he misses him."
"We all do. That's why we'll kill you and hide the bodies and adopt the kids if you ever hurt Horatio."
"Not an issue. Anytime we had a fight, it's his fault anyway because he's being pushy and thinks I can't handle myself." She started the bike. "I spent all my time defending that I was a real cop and a CSI." She took off, letting him grab on however.
"We get that sometimes too," he called. "Not too often since Ryan came on and they found out we do hire from patrol."
She laughed at that. "I think he'd make an excellent boss some year, once he's got that small issue of control straightened out."
"He's a good kid, but you're right."
She nodded. "I know. I'd have mentored him in a heartbeat. He's got the skills." She stopped at a light. "You know, he could probably use it."
"He doesn't like me."
"That's because you're still trying to make him into Tim."
"Maybe, but he still doesn't like me. Plus he's got that horrible press problem."
"He handcuffed her." She took off once the light turned green. "Get to know him for who he really is, after hours, Eric. The real guy, not the persona at work, not the shield he puts up as a good front because he knows you guys don't like him. Get to know the real Ryan. The guy who goes home and cooks French food and makes really good pastries."
"Yeah, he does."
"He brings some in sometimes but we thought he bought them."
"He might now and then but not always." She pulled up in front of a store and he shook his head. "No?"
"No. No way. Horatio would kill me if you shopped in a stripper store. Head downtown. I know a good place. One of my ladies has a shop." She nodded, taking off, letting him give directions. "What else do you know about him?"
"I know he reads mysteries. I know he cleans his gun nightly. I know about his OCD. That's probably the bigger part of the problem you had when he first came on. OCD can make you feel like you have to assert yourself as alpha bitch of the pack." Eric nodded behind her. She took a corner and he squeezed. "Sorry." She slowed down some. "Eric, he's a nice boy. Underneath it all he's a nice, shy, quiet kid who could use some friends. He doesn't make them easily. He probably never has." He pointed and she parked, turning off the engine to look at him. She took off the helmet and hung it on the handlebar. "Really. You could be friends if you got to know the real guy."
"Think he made those raspberry pastries we got today?"
She nodded. "He does it when he's stressed. The more intricate the work the more stress he's under." He nodded, accepting that. "Plus he's a got a great recipe for phillo dough. Comes out perfectly nearly every time."
"I... you think I should invite him out?"
"I'm not sure if he clubs or not. You could ask. It'd be a start." He nodded. "Really, kiddo." He smirked at that. "I know, you're the same age Donny is, too young for an old woman like me. Here?" He nodded, sliding off the back. She slid a leg over and stood up, taking the helmet and his arm. "Horatio didn't grab my cane. So I've got the knee brace on again."
"I'm good. I'll pick up one on the way home." He smiled at that and let her have his arm. "Thank you, gallant one."
"My mother did teach me some manners. It was hard work according to her, but why she's so strong." She giggled, leaning against his arm. "Come on." He opened the door and walked in, smiling at the homey scents. "Rosa!" A woman came out of the back and squealed, coming over to pounce him for a hug. "Hi. Long time no see."
"You sweetheart!" She patted him on the cheeks, glancing at the woman. "You brought a new friend?"
"Actually, I brought the boss's wife. She married Horatio recently and they've got the big ball coming up where he'll be honored for his twenty years."
"I've got just the thing."
"I want to make the men drool and the women beg," Catherine told her. "I know I'm not that young," she said at the look over her body.
"What's with the brace?"
"It bends the wrong way."
"I can deal with that. We can minimize it." She led Catherine into the back. "I heard the bike."
"She stole the second husband's bike," Eric admitted. "Drives nearly as wild as Speed did." She hugged him again, letting him cuddle back. "Thanks."
"You know we expected you to come down for some attention afterward."
"I was too wound." He kissed her on the temple. "Before you ask, she's my cousin."
"We all got family," she noted dryly, shrugging. "I don't care if she's your mother's lover as long as she's good at what she does. Nepotism is a time honored tradition." Rosa laughed at that. "It is. The world ran on nepotism for eons. Otherwise we wouldn't have pack behavior and bringing home food for the family."
Rosa smiled at her. "I like you. You're blunt and sassy. Too bad you're married."
"He's too young for me," she assured her with a grin. "But I do have a daughter who would be darling with him."
"Please don't set me up with Gwen," he begged. "Please? I couldn't take it if the treatments weren't successful."
She patted him on the cheek. "It's not cancerous; they're only doing it to shrink it so they can remove it more safely." He relaxed and nodded. "If it was cancerous, she'd be at the best hospital in the country for ovarian cysts. I don't care if it did bankrupt me." He smiled and nodded at that.
"Speaking of budget. What's yours for the dress?"
Rosa looked at her. "Got a top limit?"
"Okay." She led her to a chair and went to look at what she already had. "What size are you, dear?"
"Twelve." A few things got pulled down and one got studied, then a headshake and put back. Which was nice considering it was mostly straps and ribbons.
Catherine walked in on Ryan's arm, then patted him and smiled, kissing him on the cheek. "Go play, dear. You make a charming escort." He blushed and walked off. She headed for the table with her mates and the two kids. Horatio stood up and stared, mouth slightly open. Don spluttered his drink, eyes wide. Danny looked back and smirked, nudging Toni, who pouted.
"No fair. I can't pull that off even before having kids," she complained.
"You could so," he promised, kissing her on the ear. "You're just as pretty." She smiled at him. "Besides, she might be pretty but you make me hard and my heart thump." She kissed him and he smiled. He kicked Don under the table, making him get up too.
"Kate," he breathed, taking in the dress. "Wow." He pulled her closer, kissing her hard. "I'm so blessed."
"You and me both," Horatio assured him, pulling her in to kiss her as well. "Catherine. I'm stunned."
"I can see that. I asked her to make you drool." She winked and sat down, letting them both push in her chair for her. "Thank you, boys." They sat, one on either side, taking her hands to hold. "I take it we're not hiding?"
"They can like it or not," Horatio said pragmatically. "The Chief knows, my boss knows, I could care less about public opinion." He smiled at Yelina and Ray as they walked in. "You look handsome tonight, Ray, and your mother looks spectacular."
"I got sent this dress," she admitted, curtsying to them. "Thank you, Catherine."
"Welcome," Toni offered with a grin. "Ray said you wanted to attract some attention." Yelina blushed at that. "What can I say, Danny makes me wanna be naughty and have everyone as happy as I am." She smirked at Ray Jr. "Sit. Help your mother like a gentleman would." He did so and sat beside her. "Daddy Horatio, where's everyone else? I saw Ryan escort her in."
"Eric and Calleigh are running late. He called to see what to do with a stuck and splitting zipper." Toni moaned a bit. She nodded. "So I walked him through it on the way over." She smiled as Ryan came back. "Sit. Tell the kids how nice they look."
"They do look stunning. It's clear they take after you that way," he promised, smiling at her. "I see they did drool."
"Don spluttered and Horatio drooled. Close enough." She grinned at her men, who smiled back. She leaned closer to Horatio. "Remember, no pouncing in the bathroom this time, dear. There's way too many people who will tease you tomorrow."
"Only if they want their cases put onto the back burner," he assured her, making her chuckle. He stood up as Calleligh came closer, the other men doing the same.
"Well, we're a handsome group tonight. I love that dress, Catherine."
"Eric took me to his cousin's place."
"Ah, Rosa. She's dressed me in the past." She smiled at Eric when he helped her into a seat. "Ryan, you cleaned up very well."
"Thank you. So did you. Are those casing earrings?" She smiled and nodded. "Those are beautiful. You make 'em?"
"No, I have a friend who collects brass from the ranges and makes jewelry out of them," she admitted. She looked at Toni. "Oooh, to be your age again," she complained. "I can't pull off that dress."
"I said the same thing about mom's," she noted, saluting her with her wine glass, getting a laugh. Danny gave her a look. "What? This is my first glass. It's the cold medicine."
"I know. That's why that's your only glass." She rolled her eyes. "It could interact."
"I'm fine, dear." She kissed him gently. "No dancing?"
"That's after dinner," Ryan told her. "I came last year. It was almost fun. Lots and lots of drunk officers by the end of the night. A few more drunk detectives, and one really drunk bomb squad guy bragging about the size of the bomb he had gotten earlier in the day. I'm guessing those are like fish stories with the way the guys around him were looking."
"They can be, Ryan," Horatio agreed. "I know him and for him they are." Ryan smiled at that. Music started to play and he looked around, others were dancing. He stood up and held out a hand, making Catherine smile and take it. "Don, next one?"
"If you're sure."
"I'm sure." He led her out there, dancing slowly with her. "You do look drool-worthy tonight," he assured her quietly. She smiled at that. "You're so stunning I might not even remember my speech I'm supposed to give later."
"I am." He kissed her. "I feel like I'm defiling perfection," he whispered. She blushed and put her head on his shoulder. The song ended but the next one was just as nice. "Should I get him?"
"Not yet. He'll come out." Horatio nodded and continued on until Ryan came over.
"May I cut in?" he asked formally.
"If you wish," he agreed, handing his wife over. He went to find Don, pulling him up and out with him, earning a few gasps, but Don just smiled at him and they danced on. Ryan let Catherine go at the end of the song, so she cut in to steal Don. Horatio smiled and took Toni out, making her smile and Danny huff. "Did you tell him he couldn't dance?"
"It's not our party, we're here to support you."
"I know you are. Dance with him anyway." She nodded and left at the end of that song to get her man and dance with him. He relaxed, watching those around him. His boss gave him a look so he smirked back and got up to grab his mates and take them both back to the table since dinner was being delivered. "We can dance more later," he promised. "Maybe we'll even go out instead of being around all the drunks."
"I'd like that," Don agreed happily. He nodded at the waiter when he put down his plate. "Gracias."
The waiter smiled and moved on to put down the other ones. Calleigh looked at the plate, then at Eric's, switching with him. "I'm not watching my weight like you are." She cut into the steak, eating a bite with a smile for him. He just smirked, shook his head, and accepted the baked chicken dish instead.
Ryan looked at his plate, then shook his head. "Who cooked?"
"Professionals," Gordon promised. He tasted his and nodded. "People with lack of salt skills, but professionals. It's good. Enough." Ryan sighed and cut his food up. "We've got the cookout for them in two days," Gordon reminded him before eating another bite.
"Yeah, I heard you can make pastries and stuff, Ryan. What're you bringing?" Eric asked, looking over at him.
"Who told you that?" Eric pointed at Catherine. He frowned at her. "Meany."
She smiled. "He's horribly underestimating you, Ryan, and you had better bring something nice to the cookout. That way I have something to nibble?"
"Fine," he agreed, sighing and shaking his head, but smiling at her. "I'll do my part to spoil the pregnant woman." She grinned at that. The Chief came over and Ryan stood up. "Sir."
"Sit, officer." Ryan sat so he turned his attention to Horatio, Don, and Catherine. "Did I hear the young man correctly? I thought we just had one."
"We did, Eric's momma is watching him," Catherine said with a wicked smirk. "Unfortunately, Horatio got frisky at our ball with all the happy praise and the scores we got in my personal labs, and we celebrated. I'm just barely registering."
"Then I congratulate you three." He patted her on the bare shoulder. "Let me know when you're due so we don't have another mixup like last time, dear."
"Last time I went two and a half weeks early," she reminded him.
"Good thing since you were due during the evaluation week," Don reminded her, stuffing his mouth with a bite of chicken.
"I'll make sure you've got any leave forms I might need personally," Horatio agreed.
"Thank you, Horatio." He leaned a bit closer. "You do know that gossip will start?"
"It already has. I'm not hiding them. Whoever doesn't like it will have to deal with it. Or else their cases get reassigned."
The Chief nodded at that statement. "I understand. I just wanted to make sure. If someone comes at you directly, let me know."
"You'll know when Rick gets them."
"Thank you, Horatio." He smiled. "Also, congratulations on making it to twenty." He walked off, happier now. Horatio would go through the normal channels if something happened, it wouldn't be a political nightmare for him.
Yelina smiled at the trio. "Congratulations from me as well. When did you find out this time?"
"When we came down," Don admitted. "I had Frank deliver it before anyone but me knew the results of the test." He smirked at her. "Catherine was waiting for him to come home and tell her. She gets blushy and forgetful when she's knocked up." She pinched him. "You do."
"Not exactly the elegant way to put it, daddy," Toni reminded him gently. He grinned at her. "I know, you don't do elegant unless it's a punch." Danny snickered at that. "He said so when I was ten." She squeezed his hand. "Are we going back to the house to babysit after this?"
He looked at her. "As much as I'd love to take you out and show you off, princess, you've got the sniffles and have taken medicine that makes you giggly. I want you at home. I'll take you out when we get back to the city." She nodded, blushing a bit at that. "Do we have a destination in mind?" She whispered in his ear, making him tense up and hiss, then nod. "If I must."
She gave him a wink. "I only wanted to know."
"We'll see. Not much different than in the park, princess." She nodded, letting it drop. "The usual places and I get to dress you hot?"
"I'd like that," she agreed, smiling at him, still blushing a bit.
"She had better not be pregnant," Horatio said quietly.
"Gwen didn't blush a bit," Gordon offered. "And no, I'd know first. She's not." Danny gave him an odd look. "The twin's bond, Danny. I knew she had the sniffles first."
"Twins are just special that way, man. No one understands it."
"Good to know. If she is, tell me first."
"Okay." He ate a bite of dinner and looked around. "New York's was more populace."
"It happens at times," Horatio reminded him.
"That and there was a major wreck and bust down at the docks a few hours ago," Eric reminded him. "Eighteen cars, three semis carrying cargo containers from a ship, two of those little hauling golf carts that they use for maintenance down there, and one limo. Plus the drug bust that started off the wreck with an escaping suspect." Horatio moaned at that. "Thankfully, that's where Stetler probably is."
"Good. I don't remember him fondly from his last visit to New York," Catherine admitted quietly, eating a bite. She looked at Yelina, who was giving her an amused look. "He claimed we're in an illegal relationship."
"Only if you filed marriage licenses for both husbands," Ray Jr. pointed out. "Though, the law is written as polygamy. A woman with multiple husbands would technically be polyandry, not polygamy." Everyone stared at him. "I asked the science teacher what it was called when one female had many mates. She said it was unnatural but I laughed that off and pointed out it had happened and they were mostly peaceful societies. So they did leave a loophole." He grinned and bit into his celery sticks. "Why did I get these?"
"I was hoping it was garnish since it's bland and doesn't match the texture of the food," Ryan admitted, eating another bite with a sigh. "I say we go for a real dinner after this. Anyone with me?"
"Certainly," Gordon agreed, putting down his fork. "Ray?"
"Please." He dropped his celery stick. Ryan smiled at him. "I may be a growing teen but it's tasteless and someone put that red stuff you put on deviled eggs on the potatoes."
"Scoop it off, son," his mother advised. "You can always eat now and later." He sighed and dug back in. He was a teenage male, he could eat both times.
"Ah, the cast iron stomach of youth. I remember having that," Gordon joked.
Toni looked at him. "What do you mean *had*?" He snickered at that. "Seriously." She smiled at Danny, who grinned back. "Are all boys like that?" He nodded. "Pity." Gordon just smirked at her. "I still have that picture of you in the yellow sundress with blue flowers."
"I'll pay you to hand it over," he said seriously. "However much you want."
"She'd never show it to anyone but Danny or else I'd have to kick her ass," Catherine said quietly. "Right, daughter?"
"I still don't want it in existence," Gordon said, looking at his mother, who nodded at that. So he looked at his sister, who opened her purse and flipped through the pictures. "Just give me the stack," he demanded. She smiled and handed them to Eric so he could hand them over. "Please, man, I'm begging." He flipped through one side, handing one back to Toni with a blush. "Smut?"
"Danny," she admitted, putting it back into her purse. He gave her an 'oh really' look. "Sorry, couldn't resist." She grinned and ate again. "Good thing I can't taste anything, is the chicken bland?"
"A bit," Yelina agreed.
Ryan handed the pictures to him without looking. "Just don't ask me any care or maintenance questions when the operation's done," he ordered gently. "Please."
"Not an issue. I can embarrass the fathers with that," Gordon said, smiling at him. "Thank you for not looking."
"I understand how difficult that sort of thing is," he admitted. Gordon looked at him. "My sister."
"She through it?"
Gordon nodded. "I thought about it but it doesn't work the same." He handed over two other pictures to Horatio, then stuffed the rest inside his tux jacket's pocket. "Thank you, sister dear. All the ones from the piles?"
"Boxes in the attic. I was going through to put them into scrapbooks." He nodded, smiling and digging in again.
"We left pictures?" Don asked.
"From before we met Daddy Horatio."
"Oh, that stuff." He nodded. "That was probably mostly mine."
"Which is why I got the two pictures of you in a speedo," Horatio agreed.
"Ooooh, that's that stuff," Catherine sighed. "Dear, your second spring break."
"Oops," he said, blushing a bit and ducking his head. "I was trying to be a good boy."
"I left the one of you in the dress, obviously drunk off your ass since you were kissing the burro, there," Toni promised. Danny snickered at that. "I didn't let him see that one either, only the ones of us as kids."
Don looked at his buddy. "Tijuana. Tequila."
"'Nuff said," Danny agreed. "Did she get to go?"
"She did, she rearranged her schedule and mysteriously fell while on a scene to twist her ankle for the extra day so she could fly out with me. She said I needed a hand to hold in my first trip abroad."
"Ooh, someone's in trouble," Toni said happily, smirking at her mother.
"No, I really did fall, dear. Remember, I get clumsy while pregnant." She looked at her. "I tripped over the body if I remember right." Don snickered and nodded. "My boss thought I had done that too until I fell down a few minutes later with back spasms. You two ripped my body a new one."
"Don't wish twins on us, please," Danny said dryly.
"I wouldn't wish those two on anyone," she assured him drolly. He grinned at that.
"Should we be insulted?" Gordon asked his sister.
"No, we were little hellions. Or don't you remember us breaking mom's record and driving off our nanny after a week?"
"Nah, the first one her dad set her and Mirin with, she only took two hours," Don promised. "If that. They had just moved her and your aunt to the house in my old neighborhood. The nanny was making your Aunt Mirin a deb at home and had painted everything pink." Toni and Gordon both shuddered, joined by Ryan. "She threw a fit," Don assured them all, earning some smiles. "We're talking swearing, yelling, brought the neighbors as only a ten-year-old girl screaming can *fit*. She left in a huff after that and the next morning they got the free love addict as a nanny when they woke up. After Kate had my dad and me help her paint her room so she could put up her Harley and Mustang posters."
"She said she taught you how to ride," Eric offered with a grin.
Don nodded. "Oh, yeah. Taught me how ta do it drunk too. It wasn't real often but now and then something happened when we were out and she'd have to run from someone who wanted her dad. I used to be able to drive just as good when I was drunk, her too. It was a necessary life skill."
"Grandpa Flack said a few times you and mom used to drop blotter with beers," Toni offered, smiling at him.
"No, that was me. I was dumb in my youth," he admitted. "I fully admit I was dumb in my youth. It's the only time anyone's ever seen me *giggle* in my life." Everyone grinned at that. "All her fault. I'd go to her house and say I wanted to try something and she'd make it happen."
"Within reason," she amended.
"Within reason," Don agreed. "Every now and then she'd smack me upside the head and tell me no, or that she had ta do homework. How she made Dean's List nine times in two and a half years of her college undergrad, I'm not sure."
"Two summer sessions, two regular sessions per year," Danny counted. "So all but one?" Catherine nodded, grinning at him. "I'm impressed. Nearly as impressed as my girl going to two high schools and passing both near the top."
"I slacked my last year at St. Bart's and I hated St. Eppie's when I was there. I graduated with a 3.8 there and a 3.954 at the other." She flicked a hand. "I wasn't happy. My teachers kept telling me to quit writing such long papers. My current teachers try that too. Only one of my teachers appreciates me."
"One day you'll teach and you'll find a kid like you," Danny soothed, stroking her hand. She smiled and nodded. "Good girl. Eat?"
"I'm almost done. You're the one with food."
"I saw the plate switch," he assured her with a grin. She sighed and switched back, getting back to eating. "Good girl. I'll give you a backrub later." She smiled and nodded, blushing a bit. "Just a regular backrub." He stroked down her arm. "You're chilly?"
"No, I'm sick. I fully admit I'm sick so I'm going to go home after Daddy Horatio says his speech and we'll send Eric's momma home." She ate a bite, then sneezed into her napkin. "Excuse me."
"That's all right, dear. It happens to the best of us," Yelina promised gently.
"Sis, if I ask, can you help Ryan tutor me in Chem?" Gordon asked.
"Of course. I'll send you my textbook and notes. Mine's so much better." He nodded, accepting that. "Why didn't you take biology? You were better in that."
"It's mandatory," he admitted.
"Ah. Okay. I'll tutor you online, sweetie."
"Thanks, sis." He ate a bite and looked down, then put down his fork. "Not better cold," he admitted.
Horatio smiled at him. "So far you're doing all right, Gordon. Do as good as you can, you're already on as our assistant and trainee."
He nodded. "I am. I'm also taking Hebrew and Cantonese since they're offering it." Horatio and Toni both laughed at that. "I never hid the fact that I'm a language person. I get it from father."
"You do because I certainly didn't," Toni agreed happily. "Can I have your Italian book?" He nodded. "Thanks. I can speak Greek but then Danny gives me scary looks like I'm morphing into Stella."
Danny nodded, cracking everyone up. "She goes off just like her. Mac thought it was Stella the other day. He asked where she had went since he wasn't brave enough to come out while she was swearing about stupid men."
"And you did what?" Ryan teased.
"Called her back and let her go off on him to prove it wasn't Stella. He didn't believe me." He shrugged and started to laugh again. His smile fell when someone came in the door with the shotgun and the ski mask. "Okay, I'll accept that ours got crashed by a victim needing help, but that's just insane," he said, pointing at it. The guy looked around.
"Miami-Dade PD," Eric called. "Freeze!" The guy squeaked and wet himself, dropping his gun and going to his knees. "Thank you! Anyone got cuffs?" A few officers grumbled but went to do that. They argued over who got to do the paperwork.
"Let the patrol guys who bring him in do it," Ryan called. "That's why they're on shift tonight. They probably begged to be on shift and miss the ball."
"New York's had a victim crashing and the SVU guys played rock/paper/scissors to see who got to go with her to the hospital," Toni offered.
"Yeah, but it was Fin, he hates those things anyway," Catherine offered, sipping her water. "By then, John was in the bar hiding, Elliot was trying to figure out how to escape. Gwen had made escape plans after I was honored so she took him with her. That way she got a ride home. John slid out with us, I saw him walk around you, Gordon."
"I saw," he agreed happily. "He waved and tipped his hat."
"Some people just don't party," Calleigh agreed.
"This is the most boring party I've ever been to," Eric announced. "No one's having that much fun."
"Hijack the sound system?" Toni asked her twin. "I'll get the food?"
He checked his watch then the program. "Honorees are coming up at ten it says. It's nearly seven. You got music?" She pulled out her I-Pod, making him smirk and toss his over. "Go for it, badass sister."
"Be right back," she said regally, getting up and going over to where the DJ was being bored. She casually ran a hand over his ear, then knocked him out with a quick jab to the pressure point. Then she plugged in both I-Pods to the computer system, set it to play randomly through the speakers, adjusted the volume just a bit higher since it hadn't been able to be heard, then went back to her table as the first strains of something more hip and Trance-techno came out. She sat down and smiled. "Ah, better."
Eric laughed at that, standing up and taking her out onto the floor. "Come on, since you engineered it." She smiled and went with him.
Danny shook his head. "Did I know what I was getting into?" he asked Don, watching the other young cops head out there.
"We tried to warn you," Catherine reminded him, smirking evilly. "You wanted it."
"You got it," Horatio agreed.
"Toyota," Ryan added with a bright smirk of his own. "Anything more quiet on there, Gordon?"
"Mine's got some light pop. I got it from Daddy Don." The song changed and he pointed. "That's okay, right?"
"It's good," he agreed, smiling at Calleigh. "May I?" She smiled and let him help her up so they could go dance.
Don looked at Horatio. "I like your kids, they're nearly as much fun as the rest of ours are. Mac would've thrown a fit and so would've Lindsey. Sheldon would've moaned and Stella would've drug Danny out to dance with her."
"Then it's only fair I do that," Catherine said, standing up and pulling Danny with her. "Since she took my place and all," she offered with a teasing grin. He laughed and danced with her. The DJ woke up and moaned so she walked over and knocked him out again before coming back for the next dance too. Danny just shook his head, smirking at her.
The Chief looked down from his seat at Horatio. "I forgot what your family was like," he mouthed. Horatio shrugged. "It's much more fun, thank you." Horatio smirked at that and got up to dance with his woman, which made Danny steal Toni back, which meant Eric got Calleigh and Ryan went to find another partner among the cops. Then Don joined in, taking Catherine's back and it was all good.
Horatio walked into the office the next morning, taking his sunglasses off when Frank smirked at him. "What?"
"Are those dark circles, Horatio?" he teased.
"Don and Kate wanted to go out to a real club after the dinner. It got them in a mood," he said smugly, heading for his office. "Anyone else in yet?"
"Eric and Calleigh are in the labs avoiding each other." He turned to watch him walk off. "Awww, did he get to top," he teased.
Horatio looked back and shook his head, smirking even more evilly. "The benefits of a hot tub, Frank. Maybe you should invest." He headed off at the laughter. He found Gordon waiting on him. "Morning memos?"
"The Chief said thank you for making it more fun and settling down when the speeches started." He handed over that one. "The Chief's wife thanked you for bringing such lively fun with your family. She asks that she not have to see your daughter again." He handed over that one, which he had written underneath 'I suggest you tell her to fuck off as a possible response'. "Two of the other department heads wanted to know what was going on." He handed over those. "And three death threats, which have been copied and sent to Stetler personally so he could deal with it." He handed those over. "I didn't get into your email this morning since it looked like Daddy Don sent you a dirty email."
Horatio logged on and looked, then smirked at it. "Only the subject line. Timmy got into the mud." He showed him the picture, making him smile. "Why aren't you doing well in chemistry?"
"I suck at chemistry. I always have. Only the girls in the family are good in chem. Since I'm clearly not meant to be one, I'm sucky in it."
Horatio looked at him. "Is that in your mind due to your problem?"
"No, it's how I rationalized it when mom got the first flunking report card from any of us." He grimaced. "I flunked it in high school too. I did okay in biology but not chem."
"That's fine. Not everyone did good in chemistry. Your other father got tutored through it by your mother. I had tutors through it. There's nothing wrong with that, Gordon. With what we do, it's a standard set of procedures that anyone can be taught. If you know the science behind them it's easier to figure out what went wrong or why it's being skewed now and then." He nodded at that. "Do the best you can as long as you pass above a C. I can't accept anything less than that or you'll have to retake it."
"Yes, dad." He stood up at the knock. "Enter and praise be or else." Horatio snickered at that. "Hey, everyone should worship you because you've got mom calmed down. Stetler came in, giving him a dirty look. "What? I'm his assistant, it's the morning briefing." He looked at Horatio. "Need coffee, boss?"
"I'm good, Gordon. Go help Eric or Calleigh for now." He nodded, going to do that. "Rick."
"You were dancing with them?"
"They are my spouses, Rick, of course I was. I could care less what other people think as long as they don't try to hurt my spouses. Otherwise Catherine might get upset again." Rick blanched at that. He had heard the rumors apparently. "Now, did you need to talk about those threats?"
"I need to talk about the one that says it's a dirty email." Horatio canceled his screensaver and showed him the picture. "Oh. Who's that?"
"Our last son, Timmy."
"Both ours. We don't care which one is the biological father, Rick." He stood up. "Is there a problem with you investigating?"
"No, but you should've known it would happen, Horatio."
"Yes, well, I'm still retiring as soon as the mafia case and the mole case is done with," he said quietly. "Then we'll be consulting for both cities."
"Fine. At least it gives you a finite tenure of menace." He grimaced. "Any other threats?"
"Let me check." He sat down, finding a few that he ran off and handed over. "Those." He found another one and looked at it, smiling a bit. "Timmy wanted to help type." He responded to that one and moved on. "Ah, a new one from the mayor's wife." He handed that one over as well. "There you go."
"Thank you. You make my life interesting. Are you going to respond via Gordon's suggestion?" he asked, pointing at the one.
"I'll respond to him and let him put it more politely." Rick snorted and walked off. Horatio leaned back, mentally framing responses. He could have some fun with this. After all, he didn't have to play as much politics anymore, as long as he didn't give Calleigh any problems when she took over.
Catherine walked into the station back in New York their first day back, looking at Mac since he was standing there. "I'm out of the city for four hours and you get attacked?"
"Apparently," he said grimly. "We've got who did it but we're not sure who ordered it. I can't get anyone to name names. Not even Gwen could."
"Pity. Want me to try?"
"No. They've already taken deals," he offered quietly, letting her into his office. "Are you okay?"
"Horatio's still in trouble for that little tete-a-tete during the ball."
He blinked. "You are?" She nodded. "Congratulations."
"I'm having it tied off this time. Okay, I did not have any cold cases waiting on me."
"Danny said we had to check the lab to make sure it was up to snuff."
"I meet FBI standards."
"I figured you did but someone's got to check it over. So me or Stella, your choice. She's out by the way. She had nightmares all night."
"Did she have them before we left?"
"A few, why?"
"Stella's very intuitive."
"I noticed," he said slowly. "Oh. You think...." She nodded. "Then I'll make sure we're secure. Are you sure you should be here?"
"Mac, I've got my gun on me and two spare clips. The only thing I don't have is body armor. Danny's looked over the lab in both homes."
"He said so but he said the prosecutor might balk at having it processed there." She pulled something out of her pocket and tossed it over, letting him unfold it. "Your lab's specs," he said, looking it over. "Wow." He stared at her and smiled. "This is nice."
"Thank you. It's also all hidden. Everything pulls out or up or down. The ballistics firing pen is over the bedroom and down a hall, totally soundproofed."
"That's wonderful, Catherine." He put it down and patted a stack beside him. "You sure you want ten to start with?"
"It's a nice, round number. Besides, we don't have a lot of room."
"True. Where is it, basement?"
"Top floor. I've got two massage recliners in front of the big projection screen as well."
"Can I come borrow yours?" he asked. She shook her head. "Can I send you stuff that I want kept quiet?" She nodded. "Thank you."
"Not an issue. Same as you'd usually send it upstairs." He nodded, making note of that. "What am I getting?"
"Homicides. Three of them Don's cases." He pushed the stack over. "I'll have the boxes pulled and sent over with Don tonight." She nodded, flipping through the names, tossing one back. "Don't like that one?"
"Can't work it. My father's people are accused. Can't have that one until Horatio retires."
"Sure, I get that," he agreed, putting it aside. "Right now, Danny's got a kidnaping from hell. Little girl, non custodial parent. She's been missing now for three days. He walked into it when he came back." She nodded, getting that. "Who has Tim?"
"The housekeeper. Not like I can vacuum, Mac, I can't stand up that long." She smirked at him. "Me and two others in the neighborhood share her salary." That got a small smile. "So, how goes the Lindsey thing?"
"She's not pushing since they've got her buried under work over there. It's nice. The two new rookies are pains."
"What happened to my former helper?"
"He went to Staten Island. He's doing okay from what I hear. Do you want just ours?"
"Let's start off with the cases from this one since I'm so familiar with it and move out from there. Murders always come before drug deals. They come before everything but rapes and kiddie crimes."
"Agreed," he assured her. He smiled as their DNA tech came in with a paper. "Mine?"
"Stella's really." She smiled at Catherine. "Picking up cold files?" She nodded. "Will you need my lab?"
"Nope, got a DNA synthesizer and all that at home. We've got a full lab setup." She looked impressed. "Horatio and I designed it like we would a mobile field unit out into the boonies. That way you could do something on-site. We've got the full lab, mass spectrometer and all."
"Wonderful. How much did it cost you?" Catherine winced. "Ah, that's what I thought."
"Basically, the budget they had for the bio-hazard lab? That was mine for both." That got a nod and a smile. "We didn't need a decontam chamber fortunately. The kid might lock himself in there." She laughed and walked out with a pat to Catherine's shoulder. "So, Horatio's got two main cases left. A mafia case they made him take from Ryan and the mole." Mac moaned. "Then he's retiring. Toni took over the ball down there. They were playing boring music from before my generation and yours. She hooked up hers and Gordon's i-Pods to the system and let it go. I'm sure Horatio's been nagged by a bunch of the old farts. I looked fabulous and Horatio drooled, Don spluttered, and Toni said she wasn't pretty enough to pull that dress off." She stood up. "Send Don home with the boxes. I'll help him lift and tote later. Or you can send some strong patrol guys if there's that many."
"I'll keep that in mind, Catherine. Thank you."
"Not like I wouldn't get into trouble if I got that bored with retirement, Mac." She grabbed her cane, tucking the folders under her arm. "Call me if you have something urgent." She walked out, heading to her car. She smiled at the patrol guys and Don. "You get boxes."
"Oooh, yay," he said dryly, stealing a kiss. "Only nine?"
"One was dad's people they think."
"Eh, better that way," he agreed, stealing another kiss. He smiled and opened the back door. "There they go. Ma have the baby?"
"Housekeeper." She shut the door and leaned against the side of the car, looking at him. "I promise I won't ignore you."
"I know you won't. I know where you'll be sitting." He moved closer, kissing her again. "Are you happy about little Herbert in there?"
"We're not naming it that." He grinned. "I'm fine with it but I'm having myself fixed. I'll be damned if any more are coming after this one." He smiled and nodded. She frowned and looked around, then pulled him down when the car made a sudden turn. "Shit!"
"Inside," he ordered, creeping around the front of the car. She headed back to the entry. "Guys, can we not see the bad guys?" he called, pointing. The patrol guys looked and dropped cigarettes, pulling out their guns. "Someone hit the alarm?" Catherine did that, coming back with Mac and Danny. They threw a flaming bottle, it got shot out of the air. "Hit 'em!" he called, raising up to hit the car. The others did too. They had been told to wait for overt aggression. He heard ones from behind him and saw his wife there. "Catherine!"
"I'm fine." She tracked another car coming in with her gun, then another squad car. She relaxed, looking around, then at Mac. Who was on the ground. "Fuck!" She walked over, going to look at the wound. "Danny! Get Sheldon or someone!"
"On it." He called down there. "Doc, Danny. Mac got shot. Need help." He hung up and came over to help. "Everyone else okay?" A few shook their heads and let their friends help. Mostly grazes. He went to help with them, then came back with some bandages for her to help Mac. An ambulance came up and paramedics rushed over. "He's got a thigh shot!" he called. One broke off to come over and help. He saw Catherine looking around. "What?"
"Quiet." He gave her a dirty look. "No, it's quiet! No sirens?"
Danny looked at the building, then at Don. "Don, where's the alarm?" Don sprinted inside with a few of the standing guys, heading to see what the hell was going on. More gunfire erupted. Danny stopped her. "Not a chance. You're pregnant and you don't have a vest."
"Yay!" She got free and headed inside, moving carefully with the group of officers. A few gave her odd looks. "I graduated top of my class, my score was right behind Flack Sr's. Give me shit, boys." They shut up and left it there. They found the standoff and she took aim. "Drop it!" she ordered.
"Back off or I'll shoot him!" someone called.
They looked, moving into a better position. Don was on the floor, his arm bleeding. Catherine could see who they had, her bodyguard Timmy. She took aim at the guy's head. "I can hit you before you can fire," she warned. "Drop it now!"
"No! Back off!"
"Like fucking hell, that's my family." She glared at him, stepping into a bit more of the clear. "Drop it, now!" He gave her a horrified look so she raised her weapon. "You won't make it alive. You try to hit him, you'll die where you stand. You want that?" He looked around, noticing his friends had already been taken down. "Drop it! Now! Or else! Last chance!" He dropped his gun and someone ran over to kick it and take him down. She went to check on Don. "Donny!" She checked the wound. "Shit, your parents are going to kill me! Someone check the rest of the building, especially the labs and the morgue! Shut the precinct down! Lock it except for EMS!" They went to follow those orders, they knew that voice of command. Even if she had retired. She got Don turned over, checking him for others.
"The pain knocked him out," Timmy offered, kneeling next to her. "I've got it. Go help." She nodded, standing up and grabbing Don's bulletproof vest to put on as she walked off. "Oh, damn." He patted Don's face. "Come on, you've gotta wake up, Don. I can't go with her this time. Come one! Medics!" he called. Someone came running in and he pulled up Don's gun to point at them. The paramedic froze, hands up. "Okay. He's got an arm wound. A few others got hit. Just get them." That got a nod and he called for help, getting down to check Don's arm. Timmy accepted a bandage to put on it for now while he went to check for more serious injuries. They all heard the gunshots from upstairs and winced, but they were stuck where they were. There weren't too many people walking. They heard feet go running past and one guy tried to duck into their office, but the remaining ones had their guns up already. He ran for the door. The guys outside fired and that was all there was of him. Timmy got checked and Don got taken so Timmy went to check on the labs. The officers tried to stop him. "Catherine's in there!" They let him go, pointing in the right direction. He broke into a jog, finding her up the hall with one last standoff. Their ballistics tech was being held hostage. "He the last?" he asked.
"He's the last," she agreed. "Put it down. Now."
"You can or you'll die."
"You'll kill me anyway!"
"You know what," she said, lowering her gun some. "You put it down I can guarantee you
I'll only cuff you and hand you over. That's the best offer you're getting today, kiddo. Let him go. Now."
"You can," Timmy ordered, moving closer. "You can and you will." He slipped into the room, getting out of the way. "All you've got to do is lower the weapon. I'll handcuff you myself. I won't hurt you when I do it. Doing this is committing suicide, man. Just lower the gun and we're good." The guy started to cry. "It's not hopeless. You've got a chance of living. Just lower it." The guy moved the gun away from the tech's neck, letting him run. Now he was the only hostage. "Good boy. Now put it on the table. Cuffs?" A set was tossed into him, making him bend down. The guy pointed his gun at him. "Come on, lower it. They'll shoot you if you shoot me." He moved closer. "You don't wanna do this. Now, drop it." He lunged and the gun went off but it was off to the side, grazing his hip. The guy was knocked back into the table and out by his fist. "You should've put it down." He kicked the gun away. "Safe!" The other guys came in and he stood up, glaring at Catherine. "How fucking stupid are you, woman!" he demanded.
"Shut up, Timmy! How's Don?"
"Arm. Only through his arm." He walked out there, checking her over. "You took a round to the vest."
"Thankfully I had it. I'm fine, just bruised. It didn't hit me in the stomach."
"You're what!" He drug her off, out to the paramedics. "She took a round to the vest. She's pregnant." He handed her over and let himself be checked over again. "I'm fine, just the graze."
"Head injury," Catherine called.
"Okay and a mild concussion." He watched while she was loaded into an ambulance. "Hey, anyone get into her car and get me her purse? Before Horatio storms the city?" Someone went to do that, handing it to him before they went inside. "She was right, close the precinct," he told the nearest guy. "Call .... Call Stella, get her opinion. Let me do that." He brushed off the hands trying to fuss over him. "Stella, Timmy. That Timmy, not the little one. We were just attacked. We need people here for a lab clean up. Ballistics at least got compromised. Yes, ma'am." He whistled. "I've got Stella!" Someone ran to get the phone. The paramedics were getting insistent. "Tell her to call Horatio and tell him she's fine; Don got one in the arm, through and through," he called as he was drug off. "Do it before she shows up!" That got a nod and he went to do that and follow her orders. He got placed into an ambulance. "It's only a graze."
"Shut up." The other cops looked at him. "Catherine?"
"One to the vest." They all hissed. "Don's got one to the arm. Through and through. She's pregnant again." He rubbed over his face. "I called Stella. I'm not sure where Taylor was."
"Outside," one of the guys offered. "He went first. Took a round to the thigh." Timmy hissed. "He's a Marine, he'll survive it and come back to work."
"Yeah, but that's a desk worthy injury," he pointed out. "She's got case files in her car," he moaned, holding his head. It was the little details that were making it impossible to think.
"She can get them later," one of the others reminded him. "She'll get out first and drive Flack home then come get them and make sure everyone's all right. Anyone see Messer?"
"He was beside her outside," the guy who reported on Mac offered. "I don't know otherwise. He stopped her from going inside until we heard shots fired, then she moved with us."
Timmy nodded. "She's always insisted she was a cop as well as a CSI." He swallowed. "I'm going to be sick soon. How much longer?"
"Couple minutes," one offered. "You okay?"
"I got clubbed in the head with a gun and then grazed. Not really." He looked at his fellow officers. "It was much easier following her around as her assistant and fetching boy."
"I would've killed for that job," one of the other detectives offered. He looked at Timmy. "You learned a lot, kid."
"Thanks, Marl. I'm still learning a lot."
"Good point." He slumped and held his shoulder. "Guys, tell them it hurts, okay?" They all nodded and one moved over to help support him.
They pulled in and Timmy hopped out, wincing. "He's having a heart attack." They got that guy out through the other door and inside immediately while they were sent to triage for cleaning and bandaging. He got to puke into a trashcan but it wasn't the first time.
Gordon hung up the phone and went running. "Horatio!" he screamed. He came out of ballistics. "Mom and Dad were at the precinct, it was attacked again. Full out assault this time." He panted as he stopped in front of him. "Dad's got one in the arm, through and through, mom took one to the vest she was borrowing, the guy said to tell you it wasn't in the stomach." He tensed a bit. "She's fine and walking. She went after the guys inside when they went off on the others. There was a feint outside then the action inside, including in the lab. Stella said she wants you there to help. They'll need an independent analysis person." He nodded, heading for his office. "Should I call for tickets?"
"I can do that on the way, thank you, Gordon. I'll call for updates."
"Need help?" Eric called.
"No, you take my cases," he called, breaking into a run. This was not starting out as a good week. Why had she been there! He found his phone ringing and answered it. "Not now!" He heard the chief complaining. "I'm going to New York, fire me if you don't like it." He hung up and gathered two things, then headed out to his hummer. Lights and sirens got him to the airport and he tossed one of the transit guys the keys. "Park her."
"Yes, Lieutenant. It's on the news, sir. Full coverage."
"Thank you." He headed inside, finding security waiting on him. "I need to get a ticket."
"We've got one started," he offered, leading him to a person who was behind a closed lane. "This is him." Horatio put down his credit card and she ran it. "Sir, according to the news, there was a feint with another fire attack, then inside the station there were more people. Outside there were a few injuries, including one of the CSI. I'm not sure which yet. They haven't said. Inside there were some officers injured. The fight went from the main precinct to the labs, where the last one was caught because he had a tech hostage." Horatio nodded at that, signing forms. "This way, sir," he offered once he had his ticket, leading him back through the back ways to his gate. "I did see that the woman on your arm on the newscast about your house exploding was taken but she was walking and complaining it looked like. I did see mostly walking injuries. Only a few were carted off and only one with CPR being done."
"Thank you," Horatio said quietly, looking at him. "You've been a great help."
"Not a problem, Lieutenant. That's wrong what they did. Have a good flight and I hope your family's all right." Horatio nodded, heading for his gate at a jog. He radioed once he was on and the gateway was closed. "He's gone. En route, report it back to transit." He headed back, keeping an eye on any tv he passed. It was on all the stations.
Horatio walked into the hospital room, looking at Don. Catherine jumped up to hug him. "Shh, I'm here," he soothed, sitting her back down.
"She got hit in the lower chest. She borrowed my vest," Don said, sounding sleepy. "Hug?" Horatio gave him one too. "Thank you, babe." He relaxed again. "Take her home. Please."
"They won't tell me about anyone else," she said, looking at him. "Mac?"
"His thigh will be fine. They took the bullet out. They're saying he may limp," he offered quietly. "Stella said Danny's fine, a few bruises. He took one guy down personally and beat him bloody before they pulled him off. Said something about Mac too." She nodded at that, swallowing. "Stella said everyone was all right. They'll all pull through, only a few injuries will retire people." She sat down, nodding at that. "Now, I want your account. I'm here to do the non-personnel analysis of the lab." She looked at him. "Catherine?"
"I was taking the files out to the car. Nine of them." He nodded, pulling over a chair to sit down. "I saw Don so I teased him and got a few kisses. We were against my car and something felt off to me. Like someone was staring. I looked around, which caught his attention. I... I saw the car turn and stop, side facing us. It was an Olds, one of the new four doors with the sloped hood and tapered front. Black. I ducked and pulled him down. He questioned, I pointed out the car. He called to the other guys, who noticed it and dropped cigarettes. Nothing happened so Don told me to go inside and start the alarm. I did that, I came out with Mac and Danny, we got there right before they threw the molotov. Someone fired at it, I know I fired at it. We hit the car on orders. We went to assess injuries. A few of them had fired back. Mac fell during that."
Horatio nodded for her to go on. "I ordered someone to check inside, we heard shots. I headed in there since paramedics were getting there. I followed a group of officers in, taking rear position. We walked into the squad room, it was taken over, we cleared it, I got the last guy away from Timmy." She swallowed and he reached over to stroke her hand. "I got Timmy free, someone else got him. I went to check on Don, who was unconscious." She burst out crying, letting him hug her. "It was only his arm but I saw others and I heard more shots, up in the labs, so I headed that way with officers since they had it well in hand and it was a job for the paramedics at that point. I grabbed Don's vest out of his desk and put it on as I went."
"Good thing you did," Don agreed. "I woke up while there was still shooting, Timmy was taking care of me and trying to get me up."
Horatio nodded at that. "They took you?"
"They took me about when the shooting stopped."
"That's fine. Catherine?" She wiped her face off. "What happened?"
"Danny was right behind me, I could smell it was him by his aftershave. One of the guys with a rifle took off running and he went after him with another officer. I headed for the one in the labs. A few of the other guys already in there were getting down a the last few. We found the ballistics tech being held hostage. Timmy joined us just about as we started to get him free by talking. Timmy walked inside and got him to put the gun down lower. The tech got free, the guy tried for Timmy. Timmy lunged, got one in the hip, and got the guy down." She sniffled and Don handed her the tissues. "Thank you."
"Not a problem. C'mere. You can rest with me no matter what the nurses say." She climbed up on the bed, cuddling him. "I'm here for observation. She should be in here for observation. She's stubborn."
"It hit the vest. Mac probably took the other one for me. I remember he was slightly in front of me and to the right."
"There's cameras, I'll see," Horatio promised, stroking over her hair. She nodded, calming herself down. "You two stay here. I'll send Gwen back to sit with the kids. Toni's got Danny and he's fine. He's got bruised knuckles but I doubt anyone will say anything and if they do, well, none of the guys will." He walked out after touching Don's cheek, getting a nod toward the door.
Don shifted to hold her. "You ever do anything that dumb again and I'm beating you," he whispered, holding her as best he could with one arm in a sling. He wiggled out of the sling and tossed it onto the floor, just holding her. The nurse came in and gave him a dirty look. "Bite me. She's pregnant and took one to the vest. Get over it. Not the first time I got shot." He went back to soothing her. "Shh, the family's okay. No one died," he assured her. "You did good, even if you didn't have a vest until you got Timmy free. You had it when it mattered."
"I don't even remember when I got hit in the vest."
He nodded. "I know. I've had that too." He went back to soothing her. The nurse left, and Hillborne walked in. "She's upset. Not now," he said firmly.
"Sorry, it has to be done."
"Horatio just took one."
"He's your spouse. Not like he can do that," he said bitterly. "I have to."
"I don't remember when I took the vest hit," she admitted.
"What were you even doing there? You're retired," he reminded her at her dirty glare.
"I'm consulting on cold cases for the lab," she said weakly. "That's why I've got files in my backseat."
"Okay. That explains why you were there. You took command?"
"No one else did," she offered quietly. "I ordered the teams to move in and then head to the lab. I ordered the precinct closed. Who called who?" she asked him, looking confused.
"Timmy, your former bodyguard, called Stella. She called your daughter and husband. He's doing the independent analysis of what got tainted." She nodded at that, relaxing again. "Do you remember how many rounds you fired?"
"At the car? Full clip plus two or three. I changed clips."
"Why did you bring more than one clip?"
"Because I get funny feelings now and then," she admitted, looking at him. "I'm a woman. Call it intuition."
"All right, I can do that. I know you didn't plan it." She shook her head. "Good." He moved carefully closer. "Okay, you were outside?" She nodded. "Did you see who shot Taylor?" She shook her head. "I'll get that from the tapes. The officers said you reacted first to the car?"
"It felt like someone was watching me. I looked around, I saw the car stop sideways to us. I pulled Don down since I was getting a goodbye kiss and tease," she said weakly. "He sent me inside."
"You should've stayed inside."
"With the amount of action the lab saw and her without a vest, she could've died," Don admitted quietly. "She wouldn't have had access and it seems like they were aiming for the lab."
"They were. The squad was just a bonus. Their words." Don shuddered. "All right. So you freed the squadroom and like a cop you grabbed a vest and went on instead of staying with your boyfriend?" She nodded. "Why?"
"Timmy had him and he was shaken but the lab needed me. I spent decades defending that lab. Everyone else was too shaken to move from the squadroom."
"I understand." He made notes. "Okay. You put on the vest as you ran?"
"Out of the squadroom."
"So you got hit sometime between there and entering the labs or just after you entered?"
"I don't know," she admitted, giving him a hopeless look. "Danny was right behind me until we hit the lab. Then he went after one, I went the other direction. I think I got hit after then? Maybe? I was a bit focused. I've always been focused."
"I saw in your file. It mentioned that focus from the shootout in '93." She shuddered and tried to curl up inside Don's hospital gown with him. "Same thing?" She nodded. "Okay. I'll get the rest from the tapes. Thank you for your help, Catherine."
"Is Danny in trouble for hitting him?" Don asked quietly.
"No. Not from me. He said the guy had another weapon, he removed it." He shrugged. "A bruise after a tackle onto the floor? I'd consider that consistent." He walked out, still making notes. He found Toni and Messer in the hall. "In there. He's awake and cuddling her. She's fine and lucid, mostly." They ran in and he went on, stopping at the nurse's station. "Don't get in her way. She ran the lab for years. They're her people." He went to talk to Taylor. "Yes, it's me," he said at the groan from him. "Who shot you?"
"Front passenger of the car."
"Yeah, it was like time slowed." He shifted his leg some, wincing. "Everyone okay?"
"They'll live. One guy had a heart attack on the way in. Everyone'll live." He looked at him, seeing the worry. "Stella called Caine from Miami to do the analysis of contamination."
"That's fine. He'd be here anyway. How badly is Flack hurt?"
"Arm. Looked like he should've been in a sling. She thinks you took the bullet for her."
"No, I was too far to the side. I'm not sure they knew who she was. She's been out of the spotlight for a while. If they did, it points to an older motive."
"I'll keep that in mind." He made note of that as well. "Anything else you remember?"
"She took charge. I could hear her barking out orders as she ran and then from inside." He considered it. "I remember she and Danny had an argument about quiet? I was close to blacking out by that point."
"The alarm was turned off by the guys inside. Do you remember who caught it?"
"Her. She said it was too quiet, Danny didn't understand. The cameras should have captured that. They've got sound."
"Good to know." He made note of that as well. He looked at him. "She wanted to know how you were."
"I'll live, but I'll limp. I'll take lessons on how to be a CSI with a cane from her."
"Good." He put up his notepad. "Messer's fine. Bruised knuckles from tackling someone." Mac nodded at that, smirking just a bit. "All your techs are fine. Your ballistics tech is shaken, he was taken hostage and he was still crying when I got there." Mac nodded. "I ordered him to the shrink and told him not to come back until the lab was opened. If Caine or Bonasera had a question, they could call."
"Agreed," he said quietly. "Stella's in charge?"
"Yup. Precinct is closed until this is cleaned up and until the Chief orders it reopened. People in the cells were already moved out and the intake files went with them. Only necessary staff in or out. Looks like you're getting that remodel sooner."
"Not funny," he said dryly.
"Sorry, I tried."
"Still not funny." He looked over as the door opened. "Toni. Is your mom okay?"
"Fine. She took a hit to the lower chest but she had on Daddy Don's vest at the time." She came in to look at him. "I'll let Stella know you'll need help when you go home." He nodded at that. "I'm helping her. Deal with it."
"You're more than qualified, even not being a CSI. You're one of the top science people in the city. You're good for being her assistant on my end."
"Thank you." She looked him over again. "Need anything?"
"I could use my knife so I can stab the nurse the next time she gets stingy on pain killers," he offered.
She smirked. "Let me or Stella handle that." She patted him on the arm. "I'll bring cookies." She left them alone, going to yell at the nurse for him. They could hear it.
"She'll make Messer one hell of a wife," Hillborne offered quietly.
"And then some." The yelling had stopped and the nurse came in with a needle. "Please?"
"All you had to do was ask, Mr. Taylor," she said, glaring at him.
"I did, you said not for two hours." She glared worse and he settled in. Cranky nurses meant you got bad care and he'd end up staying longer. Hillborne left with her. Mac settled in to sleep more comfortably now that he knew his lab was in good hands, no one had died, and the most vulnerable were okay.
Catherine walked into the precinct, looking around at the work going on. "Damn you guys are fast. Horatio?"
"Lieutenant's office, ma'am," someone called.
"Don't ma'am me, kid, this ain't the military," she called back, heading that way. She met Horatio at the door, earning a smile and a kiss. "Don's at home, safely. Timmy's resting with him so he's got to rest and nap. Gwen's on the couch today with Morgan in case he needs anything. Danny and Toni are in the labs with Stella. I came to pick up the car and bring lunch." She held up the bag. "And no one challenged me on the way in."
"They know you."
"I didn't know them."
"Your picture was on the news with everyone else's," he said gently. He kissed her again, hands stroking her cheek. "The lab's fine. We've got it."
"I had to pick up the car anyway."
"I know." He smiled at her. "Go rest."
"I'm not that pregnant."
"I don't care if Don's fussing and twitchy, go rest," he ordered, smirking at her. "Or else I'm calling Eric and Ryan."
"No, leave them. Someone's got to cover for you. How long do we have you for and are you coming home tonight?"
"I will at the normal quitting time of six. You've got me for however long this takes. I used your system to call my boss, sending over the tape. He said I should kidnap you and Don to Miami." She shook her head. "I told him you'd say that. He agreed I had to come, especially since I got nominated to do the analysis. Stella backed me up on that when she came in to get a drink from her fridge." He stroked her cheek again. "Officer, make sure my wife makes it back to her car," he said calmly.
"Yes, sir. I thought she was Flack's wife...." Horatio looked at him. "Never mind, I don't need to know, sir." He walked her out, letting her wave and smile. "Ma'am...."
"I'll break your foot, kid."
"Sorry. Detective?" She nodded. "Oh. All right. Which one?"
"Cavanaugh. I just retired a month ago."
"At least you missed most of it."
"No, I was here to pick up cold stuff to look over for Taylor." He gaped. She nodded. "You guys know you should be using a security checkpoint outside, right?"
"You seemed to know what you were doing and where you were going," one of the guys from the front door told her. She glared at him. "You're right, we should. Sorry, Detective."
"Thank you. We don't want anyone else hurt if they try again."
"They try again, we have permission to open fire on them," one guy offered dryly.
"And if it's just someone who stalls?" she asked.
"I can tell the difference." She smirked at that. "I can. Been here nearly ten years."
"Good. Stay for another ten," she agreed. He smiled at that. "Flack insists he'll be back to help in two days. When his arm's starting to close." They all groaned at that. "At the very least he can help with the paperwork and the lab stuff. Right now he's coddling our son and fussing over Gwen." She checked her car, popping the hood. She frowned. "Get me some duct tape?" A roll was handed over so she ripped off a piece with her teeth, sealing a hose that had split. She closed the hood and got in to drive, beeping as she drove off.
"That's one hell of a woman Flack has," the veteran noted.
"She was kissing that Caine guy. Said he was her husband."
The veteran looked at him. "They're a trio, kid. It took two guys to make her sane, reasonable, and calm down. That's the bitch who ran the lab and trained Taylor. You don't get tougher than that."
"Sure. I only want a nice, sweet girl but if that does it for you." He shrugged. "It's not my relationship."
"Gentlemen," Horatio said from the doorway. "Did we not challenge the wife when she came in?"
"I know who she was, Lieutenant. Been here a while now. Knew she was retired but supposed to be here to see you or the labs." He looked at him. "Not like it's a secret to anyone but the rookies."
"No one else has tried except a reporter or two and I let Bonasera bitch them out. Gave her some stress relief. Along with your daughter with one who couldn't catch a clue." Horatio smirked at that. "Anyone I don't know, I'll stop."
"Fine. Thank you." He went back inside to check on Stella's progress with Danny.
The officer sighed. He could only imagine what sort of uptight, stick-up-the-ass operation Miami had with how uptight he was with them. Those guys probably had to ask to piss in the bathroom.
Ryan pounced Horatio when he came in. "Is she okay? And Don and everyone, but she's okay, right?"
"She's fine, Ryan," he said calmly. "She was wearing a vest when she got shot. Don took one round to the arm that went through it. He's already back at work and she's fussing greatly. No one died." Ryan relaxed and nodded. "She took control beautifully." Ryan smiled slightly at that. "Where is everyone else?"
"With Alexx waiting on you in your office." He walked after him, heading that way. "We brought the coffeepot in. We figured you'd need some."
"Thank you, Mr. Wolfe."
"Yeah, well, your wife's the first one who really stood up for me being here, Horatio."
He stopped to look at him. "If I didn't want you here, you wouldn't be."
"I know that. But she's made me feel like I *should* be here. Like I'm part of the team."
He nodded. "She's yelled at me a few times about that. I know she's spoken with Eric as well. I'm sorry it's been so hard on you."
"No, it's okay, but if you ever leave her I'm taking her from you and Don both."
Horatio smiled. "Understood, Mr. Wolfe. Now, let's get to my office." He turned and walked that way. "Gordon?"
"Leaving as soon as he hears. He postponed his surgery by two days. He's snarling in his corner in his leather pants and jacket."
"That's fine." He walked into his office and took off his jacket, looking at everyone. "She's fine." Eric sighed and slumped down. "She was wearing a vest when she got shot. She grabbed Don's from his desk." Alexx sat up straighter at that. He nodded, sitting down. "She was outside and then the squadroom without one. She was very fortunate. Don's got one through his right arm. He'll be fine, but he's on leave at the moment. He's fussing over Timmy."
"What was she doing there?" Eric demanded.
"Picking up cold cases," Ryan told him. "She had just gotten back. She called Stella and told her to have something for her when she got back." Everyone looked at him. "It was during the cookout."
"She did," Horatio agreed.
"I remember her being on the phone with Stella," Calleigh offered, frowning at him. "Were you hanging on her?"
"Helping her in the kitchen with the dip that wouldn't come out."
"Oh." She nodded, she remembered that part. Catherine had called pitifully for him to come help her.
"It came out good," Eric told him. Ryan smiled at that. He looked at Horatio. "They need more help?"
"No. I did the analysis of contamination while I was up there. No one died. The ballistics tech was still shaky but all right so far. Mac agreed to switch him to another lab until he was ready to come back. The lab saw action but not a lot of contamination. Mac will be back within a few weeks, limping but he'll be back in the office at least."
"Do they need more field techs?" Ryan asked.
"So far they're being told they'll be on light duty," he assured him, giving him a look. Ryan shrugged subtly. "If they do, I'll offer you guys first. Now, what happened while I was gone?"
"The mafia case was starting to spin out of control so I called Toni to get a local source. She gave me the one her father went to. I called, she didn't want to and I didn't mention her name, but I did point out that them helping would save lives. She agreed and gave me what I wanted to know. It gave me a new direction to look. Their head is a figurehead and the real puppetmaster is female. I got her connected back and we've got them on evidence. The FBI is demanding the right to arrest but I've stated we're doing it and they can beg our prosecutor since they don't have the evidence or anything out of state that would make it their case. They tried really hard, H, but I kept it and Frank is off with the arrest team at this moment. We got fully blessed warrants for everyone and everything." Horatio smiled at that. "The bomb came from them as well and we traced it back to the owner, who was a third timer let out just before the law changed. The Feds took him after he sang, figuring he could give them more information. We've still got more than enough to charge them locally and make the DA's office fight with the FBI for jurisdiction."
"Good. Good work, Eric and the rest of you. The mole?" he asked Ryan.
"Going, I know who it is but I can't prove it. I'm stuck on the proving it stage."
"Then how do you know?" Calleigh asked.
"Because I can prove just enough that she's the one putting out the information but I can't prove it's *her*. She's using a blind email account with a fake name. So I'm waiting on computer service records to see if she logged into it here." He looked at Horatio. "I left you a sealed notice in your top desk drawer on it." Horatio nodded, taking it out and reading it. He looked at him and Ryan nodded. "I'm certain, I'm waiting for the last few nails. I'm at two nails in the coffin and waiting for the other three for the corners and center over the heart."
"When will they have that report?"
"Hopefully by tomorrow morning. I asked them to track who had accessed that email address in this lab on what days/times/locations. I know at least once she's used someone else's computer but we can track back via security footage to prove it was her."
"Good work, Ryan." Ryan smiled at that. "You'll be there to interrogate?"
"If you want me to be."
"Thank you." He smiled at his whole team. "Why are we still sitting around?"
"We're making sure you're okay," Calleigh told him. "Your spouses got shot, Horatio."
"I broke down that night," he admitted quietly. "No, I didn't want to come back, but I'll be with them very shortly and she's promised to quit going anywhere without a vest, even to the grocery store. Fortunately she had an odd feeling and carried more than one clip that day." They all smiled at that. "Anything else?"
"Stetler wanted to talk to you," Eric offered. "About the death threats." He looked down at the silent Gordon. "You're sulking."
"Next time you need a local source, do remember I'm Toni's twin," he said, glaring at Eric, who flinched. "Also, he's right about the mole. I can track that as well, Ryan." He stood up. "Mom's shaky but fine or moved into fine?"
"Moved into fine. Your father's driving her insane."
"Good. Then back to normal." He hugged him. "I'll call once I'm out of surgery and off the anesthesia."
Horatio nodded. "Good luck."
"I live a charmed life and I'm a good boy. It'll work," he assured him. He nodded at the rest. "See you guys just before Thanksgiving."
"Email address?" Ryan asked.
"I came to pick you up. Cancel the cab."
"Bad pick up?"
"No, good pick up. Your grandfather wanted to make sure you went. He said you'll be happier and less angry at the world." Gordon nodded and canceled the cab, getting in with him. "It'll fully work? I hear the usual one doesn't."
"It'll work," Gordon agreed as he hung up. "He promised me it'll work fully. Just like a normal guy's would."
"Good. If I can ask, what's wrong with being female?"
"I was born XXY. I've got both. Plus I'm not exactly a girl. I've known I was supposed to be a boy forever. It's clear I'm not like the other two girls. I'm nothing like them."
"True, I did notice that. At least you'll work. You'll be happier."
"I'll be able to date without explaining it," Gordon agreed, smiling at him. "How's classes?"
"I realize that I've got to wade through things, but I'm already bored."
"Offer to help Uncle Horatio or the DA's office with stuff. Either that or do what I did, take half and half. Half stuff you have to take that you hate, like art appreciation and gym, and half stuff that you like and are interested in."
"I can do that," he agreed. "How did you get a Master's already?"
"I realize that," he said bitterly.
"My teachers encouraged me to go as fast as I wanted to go. I got the boring stuff out of the way and focused on my languages. I learned those mostly from the other students then took the classes. Then again, I'm horrible in chemistry. Unlike every other member of the family."
"So, survival is a college sport?"
"Yup," Gordon agreed happily.
"Wonderful. At least there's hot chicks."
"Wait until spring break, Justin. Then all the hot chicks from the other schools come down to party with us." That got a smirk. "This spring, I'll get to take advantage of it too."
"I hope so," he agreed, turning onto the highway. "We're being tailed."
Gordon looked, then nodded. "Yup." He called his boss. "Daddy Horatio? They're tailing us. Can I stop and beat the shit out of her people? Please? No, I'm having a violent moment. I have since I heard mom was shot at. Oh, come on, can't I? Please? Pretty please? No, Justin's driving me. He's in the Caddy."
"Rolls," he corrected, taking the phone. "Horatio, Justin. I'm in the Rolls, plate ADK 546. We're going toward the airport on the highway. Yup, that one. We can do that." He crossed lanes and headed down the next exit, heading toward the nearest precinct. A few cop cars pulled out around them and the other car dropped off. "They just fell back and turned." The patrol cars followed. "Thank you, Horatio." He hung up and headed back toward the interstate.
"Go right." Justin shrugged and did that, smirking when Gordon got out to go into his favorite deli for dinner. "Sorry, I'm still a hungry boy." He settled back into the seat, nibbling as they drove on.
Don walked into the precinct and sneezed. "Who had the cat!" he complained.
"Sorry, Detective. A stray wandered in and got trapped during the renovations. She and her kittens have been removed."
"Thank you." He headed back to his desk, looking at his boss, who was with the Chief. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," she assured him. "C'mere." He walked over. She slapped him upside the head. "Give that to your wife when you go home to celebrate tonight."
She nodded at her office. "I'm being moved. It's yours."
"No way! I don't want it!" he said, backing away. "No way in hell! I don't wanna sit behind a desk. I'll go insane!" He turned and ran.
"It won't help you," the chief called. "Your father suggested it."
Don stormed back in. "I want nothing from my father. I earn my shit here."
"You do and you've earned this one. That's why you're getting it, Flack." He smirked at him.
"Your wife would kill me and she can hide bodies." Don glared again, hotter this time, hands on hips, mimicking Horatio.
"I've seen that move somewhere recently," Danny teased from behind him. "What's wrong, Don?"
"They want me in the office."
"Well, shit'd get done, everything but paperwork." He looked at the big boss. "Mac said he'll be back in starting next week, like it or not."
"He's not allowed by doctor's orders."
"You tell him that." He looked at Don. Then back at them. "Don't you have more senior people?"
"It's him or one of the guys his wife used to serve with in the Bronx, Flack. Your choice."
"Fucker," he muttered.
The Chief blew a kiss. "Your father threw a worse fit when he got his. I was a rookie then."
"Yay. I was barely two." He crossed his arms. "I don't want it."
"I don't care. You can still go out on calls."
"Good, otherwise I'd be insane."
"You'd get a pay raise and step raise to Lieutenant." Don blinked at that. "You did earn it, Flack. A while ago. Unfortunately we knew if we gave it to you, we'd have to bump your wife up to where she should've been, which is Captain. We were holding her back horribly thanks to her internal organs."
Don glared at that. "I knew it."
"Yup," he agreed sweetly. "Now, you wanna decorate, remember not to put up anything that can be made out to be a sexually harassing picture." He clapped him on the shoulder. "By the way, she's getting one post retirement for the assault," he said quietly. "We checked. She should've been a second grade when she got her gold shield. She should've been bumped to third when she got transferred to SVU at the very latest, if not when she got transferred to the Bronx. She should've made Lieutenant when she got the labs." Don nodded at that. "The old Chief was holding it back and I just uncovered it. We're retroactively giving it to her."
"You need it?"
"The labs were expensive," he muttered. "Big, expensive toys I can't play with."
He snorted. "We'll see. For now, go into your office and arrange things, buy some shades in case she comes in to have sex in your office during lunches. Got it?" Don nodded. "Good boy. Now, shoo. That way I can take your old Lieutenant and make her go fix the Bronx Homicide people." Don moaned but headed that way, slamming the door. He looked at Messer. "Thank you for stepping in."
"Not an issue. Does he get to tell her about that?"
"We're awarding her a medal and doing it then." Danny shook his head slowly. "No?"
"She's pregnant and cranky."
"Oooh, I'll call Caine. Flack, let me break it to her," he called. He walked out with the old Lieutenant.
Flack came out. "Sure I will," he muttered, looking at Danny. "She down there?" He nodded. "Why?"
"Boxes of stuff that didn't get sent."
"Wonderful. Guys, listen up!" he called. Everyone grinned at him. "Same old shit, different day. I'm still going on some limited calls. Deal with it, kiss my ass if you don't like it. You guys got a suggestion or know someone who wants my old desk, have them send me forms first. I approve all transfers in or out." That got some polite clapping. "Oh, stuff it, Timmy." He laughed and Don smirked back. "You get ta tell your wife so she can tell her daddy."
"Too late, the Chief and he are racquetball buddies."
"Shit, next time call my ass so I can skip." He looked at Danny. "You need....? Besides sanity?"
"Forms, Don. Paperwork stuff." He waved them. "Yours."
"Desk. Inbox." He went in there to do it. "Nothing changes. We work as a happy unit or I break heads." He went to clean out his desk and move it into there. His new one was bigger with an extra drawer. He opened it, finding a plastic head. "Cute," he decided, putting that on the doorknob. "The last person who pissed me off and made me do paperwork." He slammed the door again, calling Horatio. "Why me?" he moaned. "They stuck me behind a desk, Horatio." He sighed and slumped. "I know, but it sucks. I hate paperwork. At least you still get into the field." He smiled at that reminder he would find a way. "Yeah, maybe. No, small office. No windows. Yup, that one. Thanks." He hung up and leaned back, then had to sit up suddenly to keep from tipping over. "First thing's first, new desk chair." He started on that requisition form.
Catherine looked up as Don came trudging in. "Bad day?" she asked. He nodded, laying down with his head in her lap. "Poor baby, did they make you do paperwork?"
"Lots and lots of paperwork," he complained, flipping over to look up at her. "You look like you need to be milked."
"The baby's not hungry but I need to pump. Which box did I put it in?"
"One of the book boxes we packed." He got up and went to find it, coming back with it already set up and a nice baggie attached for the milk. He laid back down, then suddenly sat up and sucked for a few minutes, sighing in pleasure. "I missed that."
"I know you did." She stroked his stomach while she worked on the other side, getting it to come out. "Ahhhh," she sighed in pleasure. "Less pressure." He chuckled and sat up to drink again. "Remember, the son gets some of that."
"I know. When he finally wakes up, he'll have plenty." He went back to sucking. "Besides, isn't it time to introduce him to solid food?" The door slammed. "I'm busy," he called. "Go away, kids."
"I'm not a child," Horatio offered, coming in and sitting on her other side. He watched his husband, then the pump. He shrugged and leaned down to clean up a small drop. He grimaced but tried the next one. He stopped the pump and removed it, putting it carefully aside so the gathered milk wouldn't get spilled, then he cleaned her up. It was an interesting taste.
"Not that I'm complaining but the baby will need some of that. Tim needs to grow up big and strong, like both his fathers already are."
"Doctor said it's time to introduce cereal," Don reminded her, leaning back to kiss Horatio, a deep, sloppy kiss. "Why're you back so early?"
"My own safety. That mafia case got solved and now they're trying to bomb the station. They told us all to go on vacation. I told the kids to hit the resort. I hope that's okay?" Catherine shrugged. He lifted up his side to lick it easier, making her moan. "I can see why Don has to have this."
"Guys, still need some of that!" she complained. They stopped. "Thank you! The baby'll be up soon and he'll be starved. He missed lunch."
"Is he okay?"
"Yeah, he just slept all afternoon." She shrugged. "I've had the baby monitor on high. He's snored a few times, cooed a few times, but never cried. He hasn't been awake any time I've been in there." They got up and went to check while she cleaned herself off and went back to her pumping before they stole the rest of the milk. She'd mix the cereal with it, making it a very thin mush for him.
"Look who was playin' with his toes," Don cooed as he brought him back out. The baby smiled and cooed at him, leaning forward to nibble on his nose.
"Let me make him some cereal," Horatio offered. She handed him the milk. "In the bottle?" She nodded so he smiled and went to do that, bringing it back and shaking it. "Here you go, precious." Someone rang the doorbell. "We're busy," he called.
"It's me, H. We can't remember how to get there and can't get Toni or Danny on their phones."
"Danny was on a scene when I left," Don admitted, going to let them in. He came back and Catherine had back on her tank top. Horatio had their little sucker, who was hoovering down the food and gurgling happily, waving a hand and a foot. "He's never gonna sit still."
"Toni was the same way," she admitted, calling her daughter. She got her voicemail. "Hers is turned off." She looked at Horatio, who went to get the directions for them. "How long did they give you off?"
"Two whole days," Calleigh sighed. "Which means whoever has weekend call has to go back by Saturday morning, which sucks."
"Unless the Feds call us," Eric reminded her. She nodded, accepting that. He watched Ryan leaning over the back of the couch to play with the baby. "You're good with them, Wolfe."
"I know," he said quietly. "Can I?" She nodded and let him hold the baby. "Hi, Timmy. It's Ryan." The baby spit out the bottle to coo. "Yeah, you're a good boy. Yes, you are. You're a good boy." He stuck the bottle back in and leaned against the back of the couch to hold him easier. The baby smiled around the nipple. "You not hungry anymore? In the mood to play?" He slid down, sitting with him on the floor. He put the bottle aside and stood him up, watching as he wobbled. "Good boy. Bounce." The baby wobbled again. "No, bounce, make your legs stronger." He shifted his hands lower to show him what he meant. "That's the first step to crawling and walking."
"He's only five months, Wolfe," Don said tolerantly.
Catherine looked at him. "I was crawling at six according to my father. Toni didn't crawl until eight. Gwen at seven. Gordon got it at five if I remember right. Trying to escape his sisters." Eric laughed at that. "You too?"
"Six to escape the older sisters." He sat down, smiling at him, picking up the bottle to wave it since the baby was sitting up by himself. "Look what I've got, Tim. I've got the ba-ba."
"That's mean," Ryan told him. "Don't tease him."
"I'm not." He waved it just out of reach. The baby scowled, then let out a small growl and got onto all fours. "Guys." He moved the bottle back slightly since it was almost in reach. "Come on. Come get the ba-ba from Uncle Eric." The baby slowly moved until he could pounce the bottle, giving him such a smug look. "You're so adorable!" He kissed him. "Good boy."
Horatio smiled. "Someday you will both make excellent fathers." He handed over the directions to Calleigh, who could be trusted to follow them. "Don?"
"I saw." He grinned back at him. "Hey, Timmy, daddy's got a *story*." He waved the book. "Come get Daddy and I'll read to you." He looked behind him then down at his feet at the tugging. "Good boy." He picked him up and put him against his side, letting him see the book. "Look, it's a doggy on a train. See, the doggy's taking the train to see the mommy doggy." He cooed at that and patted the book. "Yes, that's the train, just like the subway only above ground." Catherine snickered at that. "It is."
"It is," she agreed happily. "Timmy, is the doggy going to go see the mommy doggy?" He smiled and patted the book. "Yes, in there. Where does the mommy doggy live? Does it live in Queens, with Grandma and Grandpa?" The baby cooed but Don shook his head.
"No, then she'd be nagged by Grandma and Grandpa. By the way, didn't tell them about your promotion or mine, even though dad hinted I should get one."
"Ooh, congratulations!" Calleigh said happily, hugging him around the neck. Tim scowled and pulled on her arm. "Do you want one too?" she asked, picking him up to cuddle him. He pushed at her face, making her laugh. "I know you were named after him, he did the same thing when I tried to hug him. He even ran away once." She settled the baby back beside the daddy. "Maybe the mommy dog lives in Yonkers?"
"That's a bit of a drive," Don admitted. "Could be. That's a good reason to take the train, huh, Timmy?" He beamed and nodded.
"Maybe Momma Dog lives in Manhattan and they had to take the ferry," Ryan offered. The baby beamed at him. "See, I knew I was right. There's a lot of momma dogs in Manhattan."
"And they all bark," Catherine agreed.
Don smirked at her. "You'd know."
"Does that mean we're not celebrating your promotion, Lieutenant Flack?"
"Gee, I don't know, *Captain*. Ever figure out where he hid your paperwork?"
"Down his jockstrap. The same place I had to retrieve my gold shield from," she shot back, smirking at him.
"Kids," Horatio warned. "I'm only here for two days."
"Maybe we should invest in frequent flyer miles," she said thoughtfully.
"I'm already part of one," Horatio assured her, kissing her on the head. "Eat, Tim." He picked up his bottle and went back to sucking. "Good boy. You'll grow up big and strong." He patted him on the head, looking at his staff. "Staying over?"
"Nope, I want to walk in the woods," Calleigh said, smiling at him. "I was waiting for Ryan to quit having baby envy."
"Who said I have baby envy?" He gave her a look, then at Horatio. Horatio nodded at his look. He grinned. "I'll meet you guys up there."
"Fat chance, you'll stay in some fleabag motel and get a hooker," Eric complained, pulling him out by the arm.
"I'm not predisposed to gathering loose women, Eric. I'm not you."
"Funny, Wolfe, I'll get you laid yet."
"Who says I don't have a girlfriend?" he snorted.
Eric stopped to look at him. "You do? You never talk about her."
"You wouldn't listen if I did." Eric frowned at him. "I do have a girlfriend. She's a very nice young woman. She's an accountant. She can't cook worth a damn, and she's the hottest thing in bed I've ever had. I don't need a hooker, I get plenty at home."
"She have kids?" Calleigh asked.
"No, that's my ex." He looked at Eric again. "So, no, I'm more prone to finding a hotel with a pool and going swimming and pampering myself for the next two days via spas and things."
"Why is it you never share this stuff?"
"You'd never listen." He looked at Horatio. "I'm heading out to my cousin's place if that's okay."
"If they want, Ryan. You three could use the time alone apparently."
"We could," Eric agreed, picking him up and carrying him out. That got a few whistles from the neighbors. "We're coworkers. He's taken."
"Pity," someone called. "He's cute."
"Thank you!" Ryan called, waving a hand. "Let me down, Eric. Before I hit you." Eric let him down and opened the door of the rental car, pointing. "I'm a big boy, I can go visit relatives."
"In," he ordered, staring him down. "H is right, we need time to get to know each other."
"I think I know plenty about you."
"Yeah, well, I'm an asshole so get in the car." He walked around to get in to drive.
"I packed the taser, it's safely in my bag," Calleigh assured him, moving around him. She smiled at him. "It'll be okay. You can drown him in the pond."
Ryan closed the door and headed over to talk to someone he knew. "Teeth," he said, hugging him.
"Ry. You poor thing. Did the big he-man carry you off?"
"Yes, and we all know I'm straight. I don't know why he does that."
Eric stomped over and picked him up. "Because you're being a bigger asshole than I am. Bye, Doc."
"Bye, Eric. Come back and visit soon."
"I will as long as you don't bite me this time."
"I told you it was a mistaken identity."
Eric shot him a look. "Yeah, because I *so* look like Flack," he joked. "Who just got a promotion." Teeth squealed and went to congratulate them. Eric opened the back door and this time helped Ryan inside, closing it once he was in there. Then he got in to drive. "This way, we can talk and get to know the real Ryan. I'll be damned if I'm going to keep getting ambushed with factoids I have no idea about." He started the car and backed out of the driveway, putting the car in 'drive' and heading off. "Calleigh?"
"Take the second bridge, not the first. The first is crossed out." She looked back at him. "How long have you been dating?"
"Does she like your job?"
"No. She hates my job but she understands why I do my job, the same as I hate her job but I understand that numbers are her true love." Eric snorted. "Some people love their jobs more than their lovers."
"I know that. Speed was one of those about half the time." He had to stop at a light so he glanced back. "We'd like to get to know the real you, the one who cooks and does all that stuff that apparently Catherine knows?"
"Yeah, she asked. You never asked."
"Okay, so I'm asking." He went on at the honk, heading for the bridge. He'd been out here a few times already, he vaguely knew where he was going. "What do you do for fun?"
"I cook. I paint badly. I read. I clean my guns."
"You have your sidearm and what?" she asked.
"My former backup piece. I don't usually carry it anymore."
"What is it?"
"Smith and Wesson nine mil."
"Sweet," she agreed. "I have one of those at home as a nightstand gun." He grinned at that. "I know, what a shock, a ballistics tech with guns."
He snorted. "You'd be surprised. The guy up here doesn't have any at home. The one in Vegas worships his. The one in Seattle hates guns. He's doing the job so he can get as many as he can off the streets." He settled in, buckling up.
"See, the only one I know in Seattle has enough guns to make some freaky, anti- government rebel in Montana proud."
"I know Charley. He's in their non-felony lab."
"Ah, that's why. I know Suzy in the felony lab. Did you go to our convention?"
"No, just the general one. There's a bunch of us who hang out from those cities. I hang with Danny when we run into him. I hang with Monroe when we run into her by accident. Apparently she switched boroughs because of her crush and Mac never dating an employee or team member. I hang with Sanders and/or Stokes from Vegas. Depending on who came and who's pissed at who. Sanders is usually more fun but Nick shares stories. I've got some friends in the LA labs, the San Francisco labs, and the Seattle labs. I know a few of them. We all email together on a mailing list."
"Wow," Eric said. "Which convention did you meet at?"
"Sanders? About two ago. Back when I was still in training. He introduced me to a lot of them. Danny and I hit it off when we were working on the crossover cases last time. Monroe and I met the same time but I try to keep her and Danny separate because they fight. She was trying very hard to annoy him when they worked in the same lab. He shot back a few good ones. I knew one of the guys who just moved to Phoenix lab, he was in my graduating class. He slacked off horribly for any projects but he went trace. He was my lab partner for a few classes." He shrugged. "I know a lot of people that I'm a bit closer than casually acquainted with."
"But that's good," she assured him. "Friends are nice."
"Friends are deeper. Out of all of them, I'd call Sanders, Danny, and Catherine friends. The rest are nice and closer than casual acquaintances but not *friends*. Friends have your back and listen to you in the middle of the night when you babble. Acquaintances you talk to and you write letters to when you remember."
"Good point. I've never met Sanders. I met Warrick and their Catherine, Willows. Which one was Sanders?"
"Greg. Switched from DNA."
"Oh, I heard about that from Warrick." She smiled at him, shifting slightly more to face him. "I heard he's a big goofball in the lab. Loud music, dirty t-shirts, spiky hair. But he gets results, he gets them fast, and he gets them accurate." He nodded, smiling at her. "He went into the field?"
"Yeah, he wanted to see more than little bits and pieces people brought him."
"I can understand that. That's why I'm not just a ballistics tech."
"A few of us thought he was insane but it makes him happy not to be cooped up in the lab, especially after the explosion."
"See, I read about that," Eric offered. "He's okay, right?"
"Some scarring. Second degree burns on his back and one arm."
"Yeah, well, big lab explosion and he went through a very nice glass window." They both hissed. "He's the nicest guy until you piss him off. Nick did that at the last convention, nagging mostly, and Greg laid into him. Tore him a new one up one side and down the other, quoting from the seminars he had been to. Never test Greg's patience when he's got a hangover."
"I'll keep that in mind if we work with him," Calleigh agreed happily.
"He'll flirt with you. Ignore it. He does it with everyone."
"I'm good with being flirted with. So, how did you meet your girlfriend?"
"Believe it or not, the bookstore. I was picking up a new cookbook. She was looking dazed and confused at some philosophy. I offered a viewpoint and she hugged me for clearing that up. She was taking a class and had no idea what she was thinking. It had confused her greatly."
"I got confused in philosophy class too," Eric admitted. "That was just basic theory. Who said what and why."
Ryan shook his head. "I made flow chart. I can photocopy it for you if you want."
"Not unless I have to take another class. I try to stay away from that stuff." He looked at the directions. "This bridge, right? Second one?"
She read. "Second one, then head north." He nodded. She found the map machine in the car, putting in the coordinates.
"Turn right, three hundred feet," it ordered.
"Ah! Good!" He got into the right lane and did as it said.
"Go thirty miles."
"Eric, do you talk to the talking Elmo dolls too?"
"Only when I'm talking to my niece's. Why? You?"
"None of the kids I have contact with have those. They're too old. One's got a talking diary, but nothing else. I'm not allowed near that because I'm a boy."
She looked back at him. "You said they're your ex's kids. Girlfriend or wife?"
He smiled. "I don't talk about that unless I'm really drunk, ready to cry, and have just been shot. Don't go there."
"Okay. Just wondering if they were *your* kids or not."
"That would be another question I only answer when drunk, just been shot, and am ready to cry."
"Wolfe, the whole point of this...."
"Eric, do I ask about your kids?"
"I don't have any kids."
"You sure about that?" Eric looked back in the mirror. "Because doing a google search of your name comes up with two." He groaned. "Covering for the real father?"
"I have no idea. Did you bring your laptop, Calleigh?"
"Of course I did. You can search later so you can chew someone a new one."
"Thank you, I think I will be." He pulled over at a rest area. "Okay, it'll be a ten minute break." He waited while she got out then turned around. "Technically, neither of them are mine," he said quietly. "I'm covering because their actual father is my cousin and he's a shitbag who left them when they told him."
"Family means a lot to you," Ryan agreed quietly, staring him down. "It does to me too, that's why I protect mine. So drop it and I will."
"Fine. How many?"
"Ex wife?" Ryan nodded. "Why?"
"OCD issues. Hers against mine."
"They living with her?"
"No. They're safe."
Eric nodded. "I understand. You need to cover you come to me. I'll help you."
"Horatio knows and I think Frank saw one of them recently being a little brat. My daughter's the sort you'll attract in ten years in the club."
"No, she's twelve but if she starts partying that way before she's twenty-one I'll kill her. We've had that talk already." Eric grinned at that. "They're safe."
"What did she do?"
"Tried to scrub them clean of germs one night. Took a brillo pad. Got me in my sleep. She went to the hospital with a black eye. I had just been shot." Eric nodded slowly so he sighed and slumped down. "It wasn't pretty, Eric, but it was necessary. She had my gun in the other hand."
"I don't doubt it was necessary. You're not the sort who'd hit a woman."
"I'm not. Neither are my boys."
"Two. One daughter, who's trying to be a slut." Eric smiled at that. "Don't even. She's getting a chastity belt for her birthday."
"Someone I knew who wanted kids that badly and wouldn't screw them up."
"Understandable," he agreed quietly. "You're more than welcome to bring them around, claim you're their big brother or something."
"No, that'd get them near the station and danger. I want them far away from the dangers in my life."
"I can definitely understand that. I know you saw my niece the other day."
"I did. She was very pretty in that sundress you could see through."
Eric nodded. "Yeah, she's that niece's daughter. She's the one I should've had a talk about guys like me with, but I got there too late. Showed up on my doorstep at two in the morning sobbing and cramping. I ended up sitting all night in the ER while they were seeing if they could save the baby or not. Horatio came in to sit with me."
"He's the one who answered mine when I had to bring the kids in. Social services saw that there was something seriously wrong and I suggested they call in a CSI since I'm a cop, even a rookie patrol at that time."
"You must've been really young."
"Sixteen. Stupid. Very stupid." Eric nodded, understanding that. "So, is the reason you can't settle down a trauma or just a disinterest?"
"Mother's nagging. Each time she nags I get this urge to go get another woman." He shrugged. "I told her that, she nagged harder. I came home with twins." Ryan snickered at that, shaking his head. "That was her reaction. It's also why I don't live at home anymore."
"Probably a good idea. At least you're careful."
"Oh, yeah, since the first scare. I was about fifteen then. In catholic school. She came in pasty pale and shaky. We did the test that afternoon."
"Thanks. I've never been a person to settle down."
"That makes for a lonely old age, when you're too old to be in the clubs."
"By then maybe I'll find someone." He watched Calleigh walking back. "You want to navigate?"
"No thanks. I hate maps."
"Okay." He turned back around and started the engine when she opened the door.
"Did you two play nicely?" Ryan nodded. "Good. I'm proud of you boys." She slid in and closed the door, doing up her seatbelt. The next thing she knew was a loud, grinding crashing noise and the airbags.
Ryan woke up and saw a cop flashing a light. He waved and pulled up his badge. "Miami- Dade. Call Cavanaugh?" He passed back out.
Don answered the phone since he was closest, he was using it as a toy with the baby. "Flack," he answered. "Yeah, this is her residence. What's up?" He straightened up. "Where? Thank you. No, they're our spouse's coworkers. Watch them, they're up here due to a threat to their lives thanks to a case. Yeah, they're all three CSI. Thanks." He hung up. "Big monster truck tried to run over their car at a rest stop."
"Hell," Horatio said, getting up and going to find clothes. Catherine following. "I can do this."
"Shut up, Horatio," Don said dryly. He swatted him too. "You were with us, we can be with you." He found a shirt and picked up the baby, who was following them. "You're getting good at that," he praised, smiling at him. "Let everyone put on clothes." He cried, reaching for the mommy when she put on a bra. "She'll let you eat later, Tim." He put him back down, watching him crawl around and try to gnaw on the bed. "Ooh, teething," he sighed.
"Now you think of that?" she said dryly, stepping into a pair of pants. She slid into some sandals, picking up the baby and her cane to go out to the car. Horatio followed, smiling at the picture they made. "Mine, his, or the Hummer?"
"Hummer," Horatio ordered. Don got the baby seat out of hers and put it in, then they were off, letting her hitch the baby in as he backed down the driveway. He flicked the switch for the garage door and the security system, then hit drive and went forward. "Which hospital?"
"Were they still in the city?" she asked.
"The dispatch officer said they were at a rest stop on the highway. I'm guessing someone needed a break." He looked back. "Shouldn't you be calling families?"
"I will when I know how they are. That way I don't have to worry anyone. Find out if it was related, dear."
"I can help," Horatio reminded them.
"Shut up, dear. This is our city. You don't let us help in Miami cases." She gave him a knowing look and he shut up. She called Alexx. "Baby love, it's me. No, but I do need you to send Eric, Calleigh, and Ryan's medical records to St. Luke's up here. Car crash while they were at a rest stop. Yup, there. Not off the top of my head," she admitted. "You should be able to find it in the index I left in Horatio's desk the last time I was down. Thank you." She hung up. "She keeps a copy of all you guys, right?"
"She does," Horatio agreed. "As I'm sure Sheldon does on you guys."
"Oh, yeah," Don agreed tiredly. The baby cooed. "And on you too," he agreed happily. "Thankfully." Horatio nodded. "How is Ryan's eye doing?"
"Good. There's almost no damage or so he says."
Catherine looked at him. "He's worried about his career."
"I know. How much damage?"
"Slight. Some fuzziness in that eye. He's going back next month to have another check done."
"Good. I'll expect an update. Tell your son that." He looked back. "Think he told them about his ex?"
"Hopefully. The same as I hope that Eric's decided he's a human being and is unbending. It'd be about time."
"I know," he agreed. "I also know you've been prompting it each time you see him."
"Yeah, pushing is more like it. Last time I told him he cooked and he looked so confused. He thinks Ryan is this one dimensional guy with OCD issues."
"He can be while he's focused. Then everything else falls by the wayside," Horatio said, taking a corner and heading in the other direction.
"Horatio, the other way," Don offered. Horatio glared at him. "St. Luke's is in the other direction." Horatio turned around and went that way. "Thanks."
"I thought they were doing construction," she noted.
"They are, but he can shift over a street and not hit it," Don promised. He stroked Horatio's thigh. "We'll get you a map, babe."
"Thanks. It's been years since I ran these streets."
"St. Luke's is where we went after the assault," Catherine offered. He nodded, understanding where he was going now. "We're heading in from the opposite direction." She looked at the baby, seeing him asleep. "Poor guy. He was doing so well crawling."
"He can crawl later," Don reminded her. "When we get home. Wonder who got the wreck?"
"With it being out-of-state cops, out on that highway? Bronx Felony maybe? That means Sestrima or Ducat probably. If they're not taking it seriously, Rover in the non-felony lab. Maybe Jackson, or possibly Nema?"
"I like Nema," Don admitted. "She's slow but methodical and does good work. Even if she is slow."
"She's seventy-five, Don. Of course she's slow," Catherine snorted.
"I know the younger one."
"Oh, that's her granddaughter. Level one, graduated three years ago, about to move up."
"That's kinda nice. Maybe some day one of our kids will take over our lab."
"I keep trying but Gwen wants to be you, dear. That only leaves Gordon and he likes Miami too much."
"Which suits me just fine," Horatio promised as he pulled into the parking lot. "No bickering." He parked and they got out, heading inside, Catherine carrying the baby. He pulled out his badge. "Three of my officers were in an auto accident at a rest stop?"
"Lieutenant." She nodded, making note of that. "This is Lieutenant Flack. He's here to back me up. We're up on a death threat situation," he said quietly. She nodded, making an extra note of that and going to get security to talk to them. He shook the man's hand, walking him off to talk to him, getting a few nods. "Can we arrange that?"
"I can, Lieutenant Caine. Flack?" Don smirked at him. "You made Lieutenant?"
"Yeah, today." He nodded. "This is Cavanaugh. She mothers these guys horribly."
"That's fine. Crapper's in." She moaned. "Ooh, so I see you know Crapper."
She nodded, rolling her eyes as she followed him.
"Babies aren't allowed."
"I carry a gun and a badge, woman. Butt out!" she yelled back. The CSI in there gave her a horrified look. "They're Horatio's lab." She smiled sweetly. "That's Eric Delko. The blonde is Calleigh Duquesne, ballistics. The other is Ryan Wolfe, who's like an additional kid in the family. So, what happened? All we heard was car crash?"
"Divita," Don said as he stepped in, nodding behind him. "This is Horatio, their boss. They're up on a death threat. They're in the end stage of a mafia case and wrapping up the arrests."
"All I know so far is a jumped-up pickup truck like you see at redneck derbies ran into them and tried to run overtop of them. They're damn lucky. The guy in the back seat with light hair...."
"Wolfe," Catherine offered.
"Okay, Wolfe, identified them as Miami-Dade PD. That's what got us up here."
"Okay. How bad are we looking at? Like I need to call my personal doc?"
"No, banged up mostly. They were sedated for fighting. This one was the guy driving, who has to be Delko?" They all nodded. "He and the female were nagging at each other like married people."
"Do we nag at each other?" Don asked Horatio, who shook his head. "I didn't think so, I thought I only nagged her." He moved Catherine out of the way. He looked Eric's face over. "Airbag sticker."
"That'll come off with some alcohol," Catherine offered, handing over the baby. "Hold him, he's crawling today." She bent down next to his ear. "Eric, baby, wake up please?" she whispered.
"Goaheadandgo," he mumbled. "Too early for work."
"Not work related, Eric," Horatio called. He sat up and held his head. "Good morning. See what hit you?"
"No, I wasn't looking at Calleigh. Wolfe was looking in her direction, he might have." He laid back down. "Ow. What hit us?"
"Monster truck," Don told him. Eric gave him a dirty look. "She called it a jumped-up pickup that you see at redneck derbies."
"Monster truck in this city? Isn't that overkill?"
"Yeah, like a Hummer is," she agreed dryly, smirking at Horatio, who shrugged.
"He likes his urban assault vehicle and if you ever get shot again I'm making you live in a suit of armor," Don promised. "Where's Wolfe?"
"This way, Detective," she sighed, handing the baby back with a grimace. "I don't need to know anything about those."
"Until a case involves one and he's a Lieutenant now," Catherine told her. "Also today."
"Congrats, Flack." She led him up the hall. "Think we'll get anything useable off them?"
"Probably off the pickup. Unless he jumped out and ran his fingers through their hair?"
"Probably not." She tapped on a door and walked in. "This is Lieutenant Flack, who's watching over these three. He awake?"
"We sedated them."
Don walked over and poked Ryan with his pen, getting a gasp. "Easy, champ, it's me. What happened?"
"All I saw were tires." He held his forehead. "Damn the headrest should have its own airbag."
"It should," Don agreed, moving closer. "Did you see a face?" Ryan shook his head.
"I'm not sure he'd know. We think he's got a concussion," the nurse offered.
"He's a CSI, all three of them are," Don told her. "They're paid to notice things. What type of tire, Ryan?"
"Goodyear, approximately forty inch, low tread left front, right was new. Still had the prongs on the side new." He uncovered his good eye. "I have a headache."
"I know you do. Sorry." Ryan moaned. "How's your eye?"
"I'm not. Alexx sent up your medical records that she had."
"They did appear from the Miami-Dade coroner's office?" the nurse asked.
"Alexx is their shift coroner and friend. She keeps one on them." That got a nod. He looked down at him. "Horatio will make them check it."
"My new antibiotics are in my bag," he admitted quietly. He looked at the CSI. "I need my bag, it's got my antibiotics and my sidearm in it."
"I'll have all three retrieved, Detective." He gave her a weak smile. "Can you remember anything else?"
"The smell of cedar for some reason. I'm not sure why."
"I'll see if we can find out. I've got someone else processing the pickup."
"Check the tires. Right front was new. Still had the things on the side that come on new tires."
"Okay, I will. Thank you. Anything else, you can call me." She slid a card into his hand, getting a nod. "Your boss is up the hall checking on the others. Should I send him in?"
"Please don't. He'll fuss."
"He'll fuss?" Don snorted. "We brought Kate and the baby." Ryan smiled at that. "Kate! Ryan's up and he's got a mild concussion by the looks of his eyes!"
She walked in and handed him the baby, then hugged him. "You poor thing. Of course you're going to come home with us as soon as they let you go." He nodded, pouting at her. "I'll even make brownies, okay?" He nodded. "Should I call Sharon?"
"No, I'll be okay. She knows I'm out of town. Can you straighten out the girl though? I'm having trouble finding a chastity belt."
"I'll have Toni do it, baby. You rest." He nodded, shifting onto his side, still clutching the baby. "You watch Uncle Ryan until we get back, Timmy. You stay with him." The baby stuck his finger in his mouth and snuggled in. "Good boy." She patted him on the head and headed back to talk to Calleigh. "He's up and back asleep. I agree with Don, mild concussion. He said not to call Sharon."
"That's fine. I have called his girlfriend, Eric's mother, and Calleigh's father. Plus Alexx since she's pacing and worrying Frank now. Did Ryan see anything?"
"Forty inch goodyears, left front was worn nearly bald, right front was new, had the plastic tags still on them, and the smell of cedar," Don reported. "Not sure the source of it."
"Anything helps," Horatio agreed. The CSI came in and gave him an odd look. "Calleigh's solved a case on gun sound alone." She gave him another horrified look. "Want me to work it?"
"Can I get you cleared?"
"I'm Horatio Caine, their Lieutenant. You can clear me through Taylor or Bonasera."
"I'll hand it to Taylor's crew," she offered. He nodded at that. "One less case on my load, Lieutenant. Plus, he needs something that won't make him leave the office for a bit."
"I'll call him and have him meet you," he agreed. "Thank you."
"No, thank you, sir. I hope you catch them." She looked at Catherine. "That baby of yours is fierce."
"Of course he is. He's ours. Haven't you seen Toni shooing the sluts off Danny recently?"
"I try very hard not to watch your too-young child make cow eyes at her boyfriend." She walked off, calling her boss. "Boss, Crapper. They're all three Miami-Dade CSI up on a death threat. Their Lieutenant was with Cavanaugh and Flack, who got a promotion today. I offered to hand it to Taylor since he said he knew him and Bonasera. You got an issue? Two tires, one new, one nearly bald, and cedar. They'll be protected I'm sure. All three are here." She stopped. "They're what?" She shuddered. "Eww. Never mind. I'm gladly handing this over. He said something about a mafia case in his neck of the world. I'll hand him the tape. Call and have him meet me here or there." She hung up and went to her car to put her notes into order for Taylor, who would roll over this one, even on his crutches.
Danny walked in, looking at Ryan's sleeping body and the guarding infant. "You make one hell of a guard baby," he said quietly. He walked over, holding out his hands. Tim smiled and held his arms up. Ryan tightened his hold. "Just me, Ry. Taking him to change him." He nodded and let the baby go, letting Danny pick him up. "You're a good boy, Timmy. Yes you are. Now let's change that diaper and let you go back to guarding Uncle Ryan. That way your big sister can throw her fit in the hall." He walked him into the bathroom. "Toni, get me a diaper."
"Sure." She went to do that, finding the diaper bag on Horatio's shoulder.
Her mother looked at her. "Where's your wonder twin?"
"Changing the baby." She found the diaper and wipes, heading back there with them. "Here you go." He smiled and got to work. "You're good at that."
"I learned while your mom puked that night." He even dodged the missile of pee that came out. "Nice shot, we'll make a jock outta you yet," he teased, tickling him. The baby giggled and wiggled for him. "Hold still. Let me hitch this back on." He got the baby rediapered and reclothed, then handed him to his big sister. "Go stick him back, he was guarding Ryan."
She nodded, going to put the baby back on the bed. "Danny!" He came out, watching the baby crawl up the bed.
"Good job, little man!" he said, patting him on the head. "Very good job. You deserve a new toy for that. We'll get you something squeaky to drive Daddy Don nuts." He went back to cleaning up his mess, including the spilled biological fluids. He saw worse at work really. He washed his hands again and came back out drying them on his shirt. "How long has he been doing that?"
"Eric got him to crawl earlier," Don offered as he came in. "He's a good guard baby."
"He is," Danny agreed, grinning at him. "Mac told us to get notes?"
"Crapper's outside somewhere."
"Eeeeeeeh," he said with a shudder. "No wonder." He went to get the notes from her, waving and smiling. "Hey, Divita."
"Danny. Not Rambo?"
"He's waiting on the truck to get towed. I've got this part." She handed over the tape and two pages of notes. "Anything good?"
"Two tires, cedar," she reported.
"I've worked with worse. Thanks. Who saw?"
"Wolfe. The lighter haired guy."
"Ryan. I know him. Anything else?"
"Is she protective of them?"
"They're Horatio's lab. Horatio is hers, they're like his stepkids to her. Ryan's like an extra kid, like I am."
"Wonderful. Happy hunting, Danny. Better you than me."
"They're family, I'll find the moron and put him under the jail." She nodded once and started her engine, pulling out and going back to work. He walked back inside, calling Mac. "Crapper hates us. Still. Yeah, I know. Tire impressions, cedar. Ryan wasn't sure where it came from," he offered, reading the notes. "That might be the biggest clue besides him saying one tire was brand new. Yeah, right front." Mac looked. "How many places sell tires that big, Mac?" He smirked. "You're the one stuck in the lab. You tell me and I'll go question. Yeah, well, Ryan's might-as-well-be family. So tell me and I'll go question while you glower from the car." He hung up and went inside. He found the room Calleigh was in, which was where Eric now was, sleeping in a chair. "Mac's got the truck at the garage, Horatio. I told him what Crapper found from Ry's statement. He's calling to see if we can trace the owner through the new tire they just had put on, and he's trying to find the source of the cedar scent."
"I thought I smelled pine," Calleigh said tiredly. "Hi, Danny."
"Hey, Calleigh." He kissed her on the cheek. "I'd go for your forehead but it looks like it's throbbing."
"It is. Can I have comparison samples?" Horatio nodded. "Thanks. Tomorrow though. I need a nap and Eric needs his own bed."
"He checked out AMA," Don offered. "Said he'd guard you."
She snorted. "He's in no shape to guard me. Besides, I'd shoot someone for waking me up. Go bug Ryan, guys. I'm not moving yet." They left them alone. She hit Eric with her pillow, making him moan as he woke up. "Stupid, you should still be in bed."
"Tough!" he said, sounding cranky. "If they're coming I want to be here."
"I'll have guys here," Danny called. "You can sleep. Go nap in the hummer."
"You sure?" Danny stepped into the doorway. "That won't stretch your unit?"
"No, we're good. I've got rookies who can stand there all night and jump everyone, even the nurses, for ID. Go nap in the hummer. It's in the regular parking lot, not the garage." Eric nodded, wandering that way. Horatio went with him while Danny called Mac again. "Okay, we need some really jumpy rookies here, Mac. Two. Eric checked himself out AMA to sit with Calleigh so he could guard her. She's cranky, Ryan's got a mild concussion from the way he looks. Calleigh too maybe. Thanks. No, jumpy guys. Checks everyone, watches while they take her pulse, jumpy guys. Rookies are fine. Thanks." He hung up and smiled at her. "They'll be over before we go. How were you sitting, sweetheart?"
"Sideways so I could look back at Ryan, who was behind Eric." She put a hand over her face. "They called my dad?" He made an assenting noise. "Call him back and tell him I'm okay. That way he doesn't try to board a plane while drunk."
"I'll tell him that." He went to talk to Horatio. "She said to call her dad back. Something about boarding a plane drunk?"
"I called and told him she was in protective custody because someone tried to run them off the road. That she was fine and all right, just not able to talk to him at the moment." He went to reassure her. She smiled at him and patted him so he left her alone. He came back to find Ryan still clutching the baby.
Catherine got down next to his ear, whispering. He released the baby, earning a kiss on the cheek. "Good boy, Ryan. When you get out, I'll bring you back to my place. You can have Toni's room." He nodded at that. "Should we call the girlfriend?"
"No, I told her I'd be hiding all weekend," he admitted quietly. "Thank you, Catherine."
"Not an issue, baby. You rest. We'll be gone soon and you'll have rookies on the door."
"Works for me." He blinked up at her, then closed his bad eye. "I think it jarred it again."
"I'll make sure they check it," Horatio agreed.
"I thought you would," he noted dryly. "My antibiotics are in my bag, along with my sidearm, Horatio."
"I'll have it brought in, Ryan. Don't worry about it." He nodded and drifted off again. He went to call Mac to get the name and strength, plus warn him about that. He stopped a nurse and handed over the note. "He's taking that for an eye infection. The bottle is in his bag. He's probably taking them standard meal times."
"I'll make note of it. His file mentioned an eye infection."
"Nail from a nail gun. Right into the tear duct." She shuddered. "He just said it was blurry again, thought it might've been jarred. This is his second course. Can you have that checked?"
"I'll make a note for the attending, Lieutenant. Is he yours?"
"One of my team but my wife seems to have adopted him. He's a good kid. Calleigh will be cranky when she wakes up. She's not a coffee person, she's a morning person. She said she was sitting sideways if it helps."
"It does. The paramedics reported that she was sitting with her left side against the seat." He nodded. "All right, thank you." She made the notes and went to note their charts. The shift supervisor gave her an odd look. "He's got an eye infection, is on the second round of antibiotics. They're in his bag, which is still in the car. He told him it was blurry again. He's probably due for a dosage. He's a bit anal about taking them exactly at meal times. She's a morning person but he said she'd be cranky and she agreed that she was sitting left side to the seat to talk to the person in the back."
"Good enough. Will they have guards?" She nodded. "When?"
"Probably soon, they're all the redhead's crew."
"I remember him from when Flack was in here. Flack?" He looked over at her. "When do we get guards?"
"Rookies, jumpy rookies, they're wrapping up a mafia case." She moaned and made a face. He nodded. "Expect to have to show ID's the whole night, ladies. Danny called, they should be here any time now. Don't feed the rookies sugar this time." They smiled at that. "Anything else we need to know?"
"Stubborn's out in the car sleeping." They smiled at that. "We'll take him home. We do know what to do with a head injury." They all chuckled at that. The rookies came in, saluting him. "Good, you're here. Two rooms, both out-of-town CSI with a death threats due to a case that involves Family. That would be capitalized." They nodded. "The blonde in the room next to you is Calleigh Duquesne, Ballistics and Field. Behind me is Ryan Wolfe, former patrol guy, and field. Got it?" They nodded. "No one without a reason is to be in there. Taylor's team may be dropping by. They know them. We've worked together before. The redhead is their boss. They've got a member of their team in the car, he's Cuban, and the other is Catherine. She babies Ryan. Calleigh will shoot you, Ryan will bite you. Got it?" They nodded and took up position. "If they get hurt, my new lieutenant's position means I can make you clean up dog shit in the park," he reminded them. "I'll make you do it without gloves and without masks."
"Yes, sir!" they said loudly, saluting him.
"Good. Stay!" They moved into position and stood like stiff statues. "With some training, you guys could nearly do that as good as our Mounties can." One cracked a smile at that. "Horatio, Catherine?" They walked out. "Their boss, our wife. The pretty blonde is Messer's girlfriend, Messer's got the case and they're friends. Mac Taylor's got the case back at the garage and he's in pain and refusing to take meds so he can work. Any questions?"
"What's the little guy's name?"
"Timmy," she said, letting him see him. Timmy looked at him and burst out crying. "You, quit." She put him back against her shoulder. "Behave, son." She looked at him and shrugged. "He only likes CSI guys for some reason." They both cracked a smile at that. "They get hurt, I break every bone in your body, twice. And I'm going to enjoy it since I'm pregnant and cranky." They shuddered and one guy walked away. "Giving up your post?"
He turned and looked at her. "Ma'am, someone in my family suggested that if I should see any of those people from the Miami-Dade lab I was to call them immediately. I'm going to remove myself from this case and talk to my supervisor to see if he can get me away from my former friends."
Danny came out. "Talk to Taylor too. He's good at that." The guy nodded. "Get a replacement." That got another nod and he walked off. "He's honest," he said happily, smiling at Catherine. "I don't know why they consider you scary though. You're a fluffy puppy of delight."
The roookie coughed. "Sir, they told us about CSI Cavanaugh and how she's taken down more dirty cops than anyone and she's shot some of them. Plus she's broken a few on the way in to be arrested. Not to mention the three who mysteriously disappeared after being arrested."
"It was only two and they got lost in the system. Someone put them into gen pop in Rikers," she said blandly. "I never shoot anyone who doesn't try to shoot me first, and I enjoy the hell out of making them cry since my dad was accused of being one for having a family."
He nodded. "I heard, ma'am. There's rumors about you at the academy. They said if we can live up to your standards, we'll either make twenty or be fondly remembered as a hero who saved everyone."
"Possibly," Don agreed, looking at Danny.
"I'm already at her standards and I will make twenty, if not thirty," he promised. "Mac's at fourteen." He took Toni's hand, smiling at her. "Come on, let's check on Mac, then we can go eat?" She nodded, letting him walk her off. "Anytime you get good advice from a veteran like her, Flack, or Caine, listen to it, rookie. That's what keeps me sane and going."
"Yes, sir." He looked at them. "Lieutenant, can I transfer closer to yours?"
"If we've got a spot I wouldn't care. I only ride my detectives about who gets in." He smiled and nodded. "You want to go up?" He nodded. "To what?"
"I'd like to beat the people in SVU so I can't go there, but I wouldn't mind homicide or Major Crimes."
"You can't beat up on the perps in SVU. Trust me, I moved there for over a year," Catherine assured him, patting him on the arm. "Wish I could have." She smiled at him. "Major crimes is interesting, you get this, that, and the other. Homicide you get dead bodies. Sometimes really smelly ones."
"I'd rather do one thing and do it well than do everything and do it poorly."
"Then transfer in and listen to the detectives," Don assured him. "You'll make it, kid." He looked over as another patrol officer came in. He pulled him aside because he knew him, getting nods. "Got it?" He nodded. "Good. Rookie here wants to be me when he's got tenure." That got a smirk. "He's trying to transfer in. Mentor him, got it?" That got a nod. "Good. Taylor and Messer have this one. This is Caine."
"I know, hi, Lieutenant."
"Greeves. You've got Duquesne and Wolfe here. I've got Delko in the car."
"Yes, sir. On it, sir." He took his position. "First, rookie, relax some or you'll cramp."
"Good boy. Name?"
"Tibbs then." Don smiled. "Congrats, Flack."
"Thanks, news ta me, nearly made me drop my badge and run," he said as he walked off. "Listen for one on Catherine too. Chief found old advancement paperwork."
"Captain," she said smugly, winking at him. "Say bye-bye, Timmy." He waved and babbled. "Good boy." She kissed him and walked them out. "We'll be reached at the numbers I quoted or else," she called. That got some nods from the nurses. "Have a better night. Hope you don't have to see us again."
"If I have to shoot someone to make sure I don't have to see you again, I will," one nurse assured her.
"I wouldn't move to maternity anytime soon then," Don called.
Greeves laughed at that. "The MEs nearly had to deliver her last one," he shared. Tibbs moaned and shuddered. "They're nice folk. A bit creepy in Hammerback's case, but nice folk. Hawkes is a really nice guy. Hardly ever yells unless you do stupid stuff on his scene."
"I'll remember that. Is she retired?" Greeves nodded. "Why?"
"She hit twenty, has two husbands, and a bank account."
"Ah. The good reason." He smiled. "I can only hope I live up to her expectations and legend."
"Yeah, I'm still trying, kid. She's like superman. She gave birth to the twins on a scene in the back of a cruiser. The ME at that time *did* deliver the baby. With her first one, who's working SVU, she was back on shift the day after having her baby. She was working the day of having it." He moaned at that. "You live up to her standard and you'd better pray you don't do anything to get the wrong attention. It can be done by men, but she's the standard for female detectives in some areas. That's why they claim the bar's set too high."
"My uncle said that she had to sue the department to get hers." Greeves nodded so he looked at him. "Just because she's female?" He nodded again. "She made captain?"
"After she retired. They had her on as a detective first grade." He glared at that. "Since she got the shield. She should've sued years ago, Tibbs. Now, what happened to the other guy?"
"Someone in his extended family asked him to call him if he ended up on the watch with these people," he said quietly. "He excused himself and went to talk to our boss about it."
"Good man. Honest of him. We like that. She came from that sort of family too. She used ta mentor all those guys. Maybe Messer will now." He looked stunned. "Yeah, he's *that* Messer."
"Wow. I heard he beat the crap out of one of the guys at the assault."
"Oh, yeah, but it was legal in our book." He smirked at him then winked at the nurse. "Time for meds?" She nodded.
"Ma'am, ID please," Tibbs ordered quietly. "I don't want to die tonight and you heard the scary woman." She smiled and let him see her hospital ID. "Thank you, ma'am." She went into the room, going to give Ryan his antibiotic. "Was she kidding?"
"Nope," Greeves said. "I've seen her eat rookies for lunch. I've seen her eat captains for lunch. I was there when her daughter broke into one of her precincts to check up on her and got caught because she found an arcing wire in the ceiling. She chewed her daughter a new one, spanked her too, but Lord help that Captain who came to join in and he went home crying too." The rookie smiled at that. "These guys are her step-lab. She's with Caine, they're like his kids, so she adopted his lab too. They're hers. She will kill over what's hers. I've watched her take down a borough chief. I've watched her take down dirty cops. I've watched her take down people that make Gotti look cheerful and sweet. Then I saw her laugh at a few. These guys get hurt, we won't have to worry about kids. She'll serve us our nuts for breakfast then she'll fuck us up the ass with a baton before she hands us to Flack to beat the shit out of physically. And I'm being literal here. So you don't fuck with what's hers. Ever."
"I'll remember that. Thank you." Not an issue." He walked over to lean into the room. "Problems, nurse?"
"I can't wake him."
"Poke him." She poked him and Ryan sat up, nearly upending the medicine tray. "Drugs are good."
"I know that," he growled. He glared at the nurse, taking the small cup. "Sedative?"
"Not with your concussion. Antibiotic?" He nodded, taking them dry then laying back down. "If you lay on your back your head might hurt less."
"If I did that, my back would hurt more. I'd rather be comfortable. I've worked with worse pain."
"All right. Call if you need anything."
"Yup." She left, hurrying out. "You are?"
"Greeves. One of the guards. You a poker?" He nodded. "Okay. The blonde?"
"Sweet and sunny but she'll shoot you. She's ballistics most of the time."
"Good to know, sir."
"Wolfe then. You try to rest. I'll try to keep them down."
"Thank you." He curled up again. "I miss the baby. He was comforting."
"Want a teddy bear?"
"I'd never live it down."
"Good point." He smiled and left the room, letting the door close behind him. "He seems like a decent sort," he offered quietly. The nurse came out of the blonde's room in tears. "She's still in pain, honey."
Greeves went in there. "Ma'am, you made the nurse cry."
"Call me Calleigh, but let me sleep. Or else I'm going to rip your head off too."
"You have a concussion, you know what that means."
"Doesn't mean I have to like it and I'm a morning person."
"Okay. You've got two guards on the doors, Calleigh. We'll try to keep it down." She nodded, curling up on her side facing Wolfe's room. "Need a bear?"
"I'd never live it down," she said through a yawn. "Don't poke me. I'll hit."
"I'll let them know." He walked out, smiling at the nurses. "She's a morning person, this is late for her. Don't touch her, she'll hit, and try to be more gentle." That got some nods. "They're curled up facing each other's rooms."
"We'll keep that in mind," the shift nurse said as she walked past. "Wolfe got his antibiotics?" They nodded. "Duquesne got her wake up?" That got another nod from the sniffling one. She looked at her. "You need to toughen up. She's a cop, they're mostly surly in here. Hell, I had to take care of Taylor and give him bed baths. Buck up, there's worse out there." She looked at the officers. "Want chairs?"
"That would mean comfort and napping. Do I look that dumb and suicidal?" Greeves asked her. She snorted and shook her head, walking off. "Good, didn't think I did." Tibbs chuckled. "Learn to laugh it off, kid. It's the best advice I can give you. Otherwise you live in a bottle, live in a drug, or you eat your gun. Your choice."
"I'm trying to keep my sense of humor, sir."
"I'm barely out of the academy."
"I know. Flack called for jumpy rookies." That got a gentle smile. "It'll be fine. Tell me when you need a break. We'll get dinner replacements one at a time. Flack will let her hurt us if they're hurt." Ryan's door opened. "Are we too loud?"
"She wouldn't really hurt you, just taunt you and make you miserable. But yes, you are."
"Just hush." He went back to bed, climbing back in and pulling the blankets over his head this time.
The cops shared a smile and kept it quieter. He could learn to like this rookie.
Catherine slid off the hood of her car, looking at the guy getting out of his. "We have a car registered back to your second in command, Sonny. Would you like to make a statement on him since he tried to run over my extended family through Horatio?"
"No." He stepped closer. "I had no idea." She looked at him, the snorted. "I knew about you and Caine. Remember, I talked to your daughter after that one assault."
"Good point. I'm still getting the lie feeling from you though."
He nodded. "I know he's running. The call came in and I turned it down so they went to individual members."
"I can't tell you that."
"If you turned it down....."
"I did but I'm not torching my business for you."
"Good point. Then I want your second. I can do that easily or I can do that the hard way. Meaning SWAT with Flack and Messer. Your choice."
"He's at his mother's at the moment. If he was stupid enough to touch your protected clan, he's too stupid to be mine."
"I'll tell him you said that. Will I need SWAT?"
"I wouldn't bring Messer with me. Flack could bust in the door. His mother will scream and beat him with a broom."
"I'll let them know. How long of a window?"
"Maybe an hour at most," he admitted. "Not a clue from there. I know he's running. I advised him to run since they're *yours*." She nodded, smirking at him. "Does your father know you do this?"
She nodded. "Yeah. How do you think I took down so many dirty cops in my first five years? That's why they came to me. There's no honor in being dirty in the NYPD. You breach both honors with it. Therefore I'm hunting those who breach the Honor Code."
"I get it. Good luck with that. He's too stupid for words. Anything else you need?"
She smiled. "Think I could get some baby pictures for Toni?"
"Not that I have any, but if I hear, I'll send them your way," he offered with a small smirk. "She's really gone on him?"
"He's the sort I want for her," she admitted. "He knows where she's coming from thanks to her grandfather and father."
"Who is her father? I've only heard rumors."
"Horvats," she said smugly. He moaned. She nodded and smirked. "Yeah, Sonny, I dated him. Didn't know it was him, but I did date him." She shrugged and stood up, leaning on her cane. "Thank you."
"Yeah, well, would've come back to me since I paid to put the new tires on."
"Tire. He only got one."
"I heard the rest went up his nose. Pity." He shrugged. "Think I could get some help with my stuff?"
"For that, ask my husband Horatio. They hate his ass."
"I'll see if I can arrange a meeting then. The ones up here are getting restless and they're making me nervous."
"That proves you have some intelligence. They make me nervous." She walked around. "Scram, Sonny, I never saw you."
"Yes, Captain," he said, saluting her with a smug look.
"That's Captain Bitch to you," she snorted, slamming the door. She started the car and backed out.
He waited until she was gone to pull out the cellphone in his pocket and hit *69. "Okay, I gave up my guy. What's my reward?" he asked. He smiled. "That's a good one. No, but I did mention I might be able to slip her something on the Noches. She said to call her husband Horatio. Yeah, well, I respect that woman, Grandfather. The woman scares the shit outta me and her daughter's a loose cannon but she stared me down. Catherine laughed. I can respect that." He listened. "Yes, Mr. Cavanaugh, sir. You're right, grandfather. Thank you, grandfather. As you say." He hung up and went back to his car, knowing he had a higher reward. The guy who protected Tanglewood was taking over for her daddy and he liked Catherine, keeping her happy made their things run more smoothly. One idiot in the group being given up wasn't anything compared to the benefits Cavanaugh senior could get him.
Don came in the next night, finding everyone but Ryan on his couch. "We got him. He's spilling his guts and swearing at Tanglewood." Danny looked up from his spot on Toni's lap. "Sonny's in bed with Kate's dad now. Giving him up gave him more benefit than protecting his moron." He headed up to the lab. "Kate!" She looked over from her test. "What, Ryan had lab envy?"
"Yup," he said absently. "I heard she went. She taped it, that's how they got the moron, and her father's phone has been tapped by the FBI for ages. Her dad's introducing Sonny up the chain of influence, which gives him more incentive to quit being a street thug. He wants to be a syndicate boss some day."
"He might be. Odder things and all that. But to do that, he's got to stay out of trouble because most of his people in Tanglewood have no brains." She looked at Don again. "I was wearing a wire, Don. Mac was on the other end with Stella. I also dropped a bug there. What dad does is dad's business. It's a dirty business."
"You hunt those break the honor code?" he snorted, crossing his arms to stare her down.
"In my youth, that's what all those dirty cops were. They were dirty to guys like dad and Sonny. Pity about that but they broke the honor code of the families and the honor code of the NYPD."
"Fine." He walked over to kiss her on the forehead. "If you get this house blown up, I'm going to have to protest."
"If this house gets touched, Daddy's going to throw a fit so large the city will be engulfed in the war," she said dryly. "Besides, I'd rather have a reluctant source who's looking for a reward on the streets with real information than one who isn't. Sonny realizes this. Toni told him as much when she told him how we live and roll through life."
"The same as Sonny realizes he can use her to get rid of some of the competition," Danny said as he stepped off the elevator behind Don. "Works for him in all directions, works for us when we want it. Keeps all Tanglewood cases outta our hair and our lab."
Don nodded. "Fine. If you think it's all right."
"Hillborne thought it was a grand idea," she assured him. "Hillborne loved how Toni called him dickless in Miami. Loved how she taunted him over Danny being a real man and him only working his way up to thug. I've done this through the years, Don. I know the drill very well."
"As long as no one gets hurt," he said firmly.
"No one would try, baby," she promised, pulling him over to kiss him.
"No germs on the DNA swab!" Ryan complained. "We'll have to exclude both of you."
She looked at him. "Ease the broomstick out, Ryan, it's got splinters." He blushed but grinned and ducked his head, getting back to work.
Danny sat down to help. "I want your lab," he whined.
"Some day you'll have Stella's desk," she promised, patting him on the hand. "When we die or get too crippled, you and Ryan can have this stuff to consult." He grinned at that. "Good boy. Now help or go away, both of you."
"Ballistics?" Don asked.
"Not this case, baby. But Calleigh's looking over the guns."
"Ooh," he said, heading that way. He knew where they all were. They hadn't moved any downstairs yet thanks to the baby. He grinned at her, getting one back. "I'm still doing qualifying for all the techs."
"Good! I'm doing it in Miami because I'll be *damned* if I lose another one like we lost Speed." He hugged her. "I'm better now, Don, I promise I am."
"I know you are, but even Horatio still hurts."
"Yeah, it sucks. I lost my boyfriend to suicide right behind me right after we lost Speed. That was a bad year."
He nodded. "I know. You know we've got some ice cream downstairs."
She laughed. "I'm not that bad yet. Give me a few weeks of moping. Oh, we got the weekend off too. Seems they think it's connected."
"It is. Someone paid him to ram you guys."
"Joy. He's in custody?"
"Yeah, Catherine's got connections who understand the joy of turning their rivals in get a freer shot at their business. She met one last night with a wire on. Worked very well for her and us." She smiled at that. "He wanted to meet with Horatio today about the Mala Noches."
"I swear I hate those idiots. Then Erica Sykes used a parabolic mic to get Ryan saying they were cowards on film, showing it on primetime news. There's a hit out on the lab," she said, rolling her eyes. "Horatio's steaming mad, steam coming out of his ears mad." Ryan walked in and gave her a hug. "I'm fine."
"I'm sorry, I thought we were clear."
"I know. It's not your fault that time." He snorted. "Do we have the mole?"
"I have the report, I sent it to Frank. He trapped her in it with a sting. She's history." She squealed and hugged him for real, making him smile. "I like it when you're happy. You give good hugs."
"I heard her squeal, where's mine!" Eric called.
She jogged out there, giving him one too. "They caught the mole!"
"Damn it, that means we lose Horatio sooner."
"Not until this problem is wrapped up," he said as he joined them, smirking at Ryan. "Very good work, Mr. Wolfe. I'm told the trap was your idea?" He nodded, smirking at him. "Excellent work and we caught some of her contacts as well. Once we've got the chain unraveled, then I'll go, Eric." That got a smile. "That and as soon as the lab is safe." That got a nod and Calleigh hugged him.
"Then we're going to Jamaica for a month where I'm going topless," Catherine offered. Horatio hummed and kissed her neck. "Trying to work, baby."
"I know. Come down soon. Children, let's go." Ryan got back to work. "Mr. Wolfe, we were going to celebrate your accomplishments?"
"I'll be down soon. This is a fascinating case and she said I could take over for you guys when you retire from this."
"All right." He went down with the rest of them, making Don smile. "That's far in the future."
"Uh-huh. Did you know about Jamaica?"
"Not a hint of it. Not that I'm unhappy about it," he offered with a smile, stealing a kiss. Don grinned back. "Baby?"
"Sleeping with Morgan, who's pouting because his mommy's going back to work this week."
"Hopefully I'll be done before this new one's born, that way I can go to the exams and all that," Horatio offered quietly.
"You can go to any you want. Not like she's doing that with her OB up here this time. She found one down there." He smiled at that. "They're switching back and forth so she can switch back and forth."
"Don't forget, the MEs have gotten together to formulate a strategy of how to get her to the hospital this time," Eric reminded them both. "Too many babies born by those who deal with the dead as Alexx put it."
Calleigh laughed. "True. The twins, nearly Timmy. Who delivered Gwen?"
"I believe she did on the way to the hospital," Horatio admitted. Don looked at him. "No?"
"No one would tell me."
"Ah. Understandable really. You were prone to throwing loud fits back then."
"They knew I was around. I gave her cover depth since I used to come over to drink and drop acid now and then." Eric gave him a horrified look. "That was while I was in college, Delko. I quit before going to the academy. My dad said to use her so I could go wild. I did. It was kinda fun in some ways. I miss going to Hardware again," he sighed.
"We can go tonight," Horatio promised. "I'm sure someone would like to babysit. Toni's having her cycle so it could even be her."
"Timmy likes to play with her hair so maybe," he agreed.
"Why are we out in the middle of nowhere looking for a buried body when you're due to be induced in three hours?" Danny asked finally, looking at his boss.
"Because we have to find the body and they're digging this plot of land up in another week."
"And? I could do this. You're due in three hours." She frowned at him. "Remember, you're being induced, they wanted you to check in today before dinner? That stuff?"
"I remember, he's been kicking all day." He grinned at that. "I'm fine and if I don't get there in time, I'll get there soon enough. It's not like we're inducing due to a problem, just to make sure he comes out."
"Uh-huh. No pains, right?"
"No, Danny, no pains yet," she sighed. "I swear you're getting worse than Don and Horatio."
"Good! Maybe you'll see some sense," he shot back, moving his ground sweeping radar again. "I found a finger." He traced it up the arm, coming to a shoulder, then nothing. "Only an arm."
"Mark it, we were sure he cut the body up in chunks and buried it in the rows he had planted in this field." She moved over to search where the next row would be. "Found a leg." She planted a stake with a flag on top of it, looking at the sheriff's deputies who were waiting with them. "Guys, we're finding parts. Bring shovels!" She moved over with him scanning down the rows. "Head. He's keeping it pretty much level."
"Found a foot," Danny offered, moving over to the next row once had it marked. "Yup, 'nother foot." He moved over again. "Whole little body. Was she pregnant?"
"Not sure. Someone said they thought she might've been but no one saw her after that for a while. A coworker did say she gained weight, then she had to leave due to medical reasons." She moved over. "None here." She scanned around, going back to the last point in case she had missed it. Back and forth, going over. "Second head. Wonderful." The deputies came over. "More than one body, guys. Sorry." He moaned. "Dig at the stakes, do it carefully so you don't crunch into the bones. Otherwise we'll never be able to determine cause of death. Take pictures of anything unusual you find while digging for us." She moved over, planting another stake. "Left shoulder and arm."
"Got a torso," Danny offered. "Two headed lady?"
"Not from what was said."
"Pity." He kept going, making it to the other side of the field faster since he wasn't waddling. He started on a new line, planting another stake. "'Nother little one," he called quietly. He kept going, finding something that made him pause. "Animal?" She came over to look, nodding. "Do we mark it to dig?"
"Yeah, for a comparison we probably should." He tagged that one and moved on. "Serial killers often start with animals and move up. That way they get perfection of their technique without having the problem of screaming and escaping victims."
"Some day, I will be as smart as you," he taunted, smirking over at her. He saw her resting on her machine. "Kate?"
"Do not call me that," she snapped.
"That's a yes," one deputy noted, heading back to his car. He pulled out his radio. "Boss, we've found a few bodies and that one CSI lady is in labor. Yeah, could use an ambulance. No, swore she was okay but just started to swear. Thanks, boss." He hung up. "It'll be a while," he called.
"Last baby came in three hours," Danny called back.
"I was dilated four by then," she noted.
Danny put down his machine, waving at the deputy. "It's like a metal detector. Listen and look at the screen." That got a nod, so he walked over and pulled her away from hers, taking her back to their car. "I'm not delivering this kid, Catherine. I'm not Sheldon. I'll drink myself to sleep for the next year if I have to look at you that way." She hissed and grabbed onto the back of the seat. "Uh-huh. How far apart?"
"I'm not timing it!" she panted.
"Okay, guess I am. Guys, any of you been here before? My girlfriend's barely eighteen and her daughter."
"I salute you, man," one offered with a jaunty wave. "You are the man."
Danny gave him a look. "I knew that. You been here?"
"Had a wife who had two but never anywhere near me. She went to her mother's since the nearest hospital's nearly an hour away from town."
"We're how many hours outside of town?" Danny asked.
"Two," another guy noted. "The next one over this way is another five hours off, other side of the mountains."
"Oh, yeah, this'll be fun," Danny sighed, pulling out the satellite phone Don had stuck into the SUV this morning when he heard how far out they were going. No regular cellphone signal anywhere near this field. He did the smart thing. "Sheldon, my man. It's Danny. We're three hours from the nearest hospital, no telling how long the ambulance will take. I'm guessing she's at about six minutes apart. Ewww." He shuddered. "Sheldon, she's like my mom."
"Oh, fucking get over it. I delivered Gwen on the way to the hospital, I can do this one. Just hold on and cut the cord when it's time. Help me get undressed."
"Oops." He listened to Sheldon's wise words. "Got a chopper we can borrow?" he called.
"Not locally. Hospital has a lifeflight somewhere in the county. She going that soon?"
"That's what I'm trying to figure out." He went to the back, finding the kit Sheldon was talking about. "Okay, I've got the birthing kit. It's got everything, right? Including liquor for when I'm done, good to know. Thanks, Doc. I'll call back in ten." He hung up and broke open the pack, using the hand sanitizer before putting on the gloves and coming back. He looked away as he helped her out of her pants and underwear, then covered her with the thermal blanket he had found in the pack. "I'm so going to get you for this."
"We'll name the baby after you."
"Yeah, and you're buying me the good liquor too." He sighed. "He said I have to check."
"Just do it already. I've been here before. Sheldon had to do it last time. I know damn well you don't want me."
He checked his watch. "Already? That's only five." He looked away and took a feel, then stepped back and shuddered, calling Sheldon back. "It's me again. It feels like a cavern and I felt something bony and hairy. Yeah, five or so. Why?" He glanced, then whimpered. "EWWWW!" He hung up and went back there, taking off those gloves and putting them in the plastic bag, then putting on the sterile gear he had packed. He walked back with everything else, putting it next to her. "Guys, the ME said she's crowning, whatever that means. I'm guessing it means hurry the ambulance the fuck up if possible! Please!"
One of them came over, getting in behind Catherine, helping her by holding her hands and letting her head rest on his thigh. "I'm sure you know about the push mantra. Do it whenever you feel you need to, ma'am."
"Catherine," she reminded him. "You might wanna call Don, Danny."
"I'm in sterile gear. I'll call him when he's out." He looked again. "Toni is *never* going through this. I will adopt first."
"Bet me," she moaned. "She's already said she wants one some year." She bit her lip and pushed. "Incoming."
"I can see that. Much more than I wanted to. Is that a birth mark?"
"You want kicked?" she ground out.
"No." He moved forward, still trying to look away and not look. The baby's head popped out and he guided it, like Sheldon had said. "Nearly at the nose." She shrieked and kicked the seat.
"Deep breath," the officer offered more calmly. "Then push again." She nodded, doing that. "Remember, head and shoulders, then it slides right out." He wiped off her forehead. "Keep going. Almost there." She screamed again and pushed harder, letting the baby out. "Good job, Catherine. Don't name the kid after me." He went to call their dispatch officer. "It's us, it's a boy, it's out. Can she maybe be airlifted? Her coworker needs to get drunk now. Yeah, fully okay," he said at the worried comment. "No, kicking and screaming in their SUV, along with the momma. Thanks." He hung up. "They're finding the helicopter. We'll deliver the bodies and the ground radar thingies back to the lab, sir. You can go with her."
"Good, can you hit redial? I have no clue what I'm doing." The phone was dialed for him and put up to his ear. "Sheldon, it's squirmy, red, and bawling. Now what? Clamps? Belly button thingy? That stuff? Sheldon!" He did as instructed, clamping the belly button two finger width's up, then again another inch up, then cutting between it. The baby let out a loud wail at that. "Yeah, yeah, I know." He wrapped the baby in the towel that had been in there and handed it to the mom. "Okay, she's got him. Now what? The what? Afterbirth?"
"Lump of tissue that's the placenta. Looks like a kidney and a mess," she offered. "Not quite out yet."
"Oh, good. She said it's not out yet, Sheldon. Yeah, they'll bring everything we brought back to their lab so someone can pick it up with the bodies. Thanks, man." He hung up and took off the sterile gear, tossing it out and hitting the pint Sheldon had included in the bag. "I'm doing this. I don't care if I have to sleep in the SUV in this field tonight," he vowed before taking a drink. He looked. "Orange vodka. Why?"
"It's Sheldon and he doesn't drink the cheap stuff. Think maybe you should call Don or Horatio?"
"Nope." He took another drink. "Kid's gonna be a Danny too?" She nodded. "Fine with me. I deserve that and cookies for this." He did call his girlfriend. "It's a brother, I'm getting really drunk. Don't expect sex tonight. Maybe never again because we're adopting." He hung up and leaned against the side of the SUV, drinking merrily along until the helicopter got there. "No nastiness afterbirth stuff," he slurred.
"The ME said he packed you some relief," they said with a small smile. "Ma'am?"
"He's right, no afterbirth yet, but he's a hungry little sucker. His brother won't want to share."
"Can you sit up?"
"It might help, yeah." She sat up with a moan, letting them help her onto the gurney. Then they got Danny into the helicopter as well. "Keys are where?"
"Ignition. No one was going to steal it. Pat Danny down just in case if they can't find them." He nodded, doing that and tossing one of the deputies the keys. "Give that to Taylor, let him jump for joy!" she called, waving. "Thank you!"
"Not an issue, ma'am. Better less bodies being hidden out here." They waved as they took off. "I agree with the CSI guy. Beers after we're done, guys?" That got a round of nods, even from the non-drinker of the group. "Get the rookies to dig?" That got another nod and he went to call in that request. "Boss, us again. We've got parts all over. Could use the rookies to dig. Thanks, boss. No, they just left. He's drunk. Yup. Orange vodka. She said the ME who packed the kit didn't drink the cheap stuff. Thanks, boss. We've got the keys and one of us can drive their SUV back." He hung up and went back. "Take twenty, they're on their way out anyway, figured we'd need the help. They're even bringing sodas."
"Any liquor left in the truck?"
"No, but I've got a pint of scotch in mine for medicinal purposes after a bad thing," one offered, the non-drinker. They all looked at him. "Granddaddy said it was a good thing to carry in my field kit for emergencies. Came in handy as rubbing alcohol too."
"Sure," they agreed, one of them going to get it. Hell, they deserved it.
Don looked up as Sheldon walked into his office, groaning at the look on his face. "She's in labor?"
"It's a boy, he's screaming and eating, they're life flighting her and a very drunk Danny to the nearest hospital from the field. It was well over three hours away. Danny's very drunk on the vodka I left in the kit."
"You can't deliver a baby without looking, Don. It's impossible. Get over it already. That's why he's drunk."
"Good. Thank you. Which hospital?" Sheldon handed over the information sheet he had printed off. "Thank you for helping him."
"Not a problem since I didn't have to deliver this one. Why was she in a field the day she was due to induce?"
"It's Catherine and she's stubborn like that. Watch out for Toni when she starts having some."
"By then I'll be in Miami. I'm moving next month. When did you want notice?"
"Mac gets that."
"Okay, when would he want it?"
"Probably about now. Should I ask Horatio about openings?"
"Already got one, I took care of that." He grinned. "So, next time, it'll be Toni and Danny will know what to do and won't panic."
"I did and I saw the twins being born."
"Uh-huh." He walked out, going to tell Mac that and that someone had to retrieve the bodies and the SUV. He walked into Mac's office with a tap. "Hey." Mac gave him a pitiful look. "It's a boy."
"It's not mine."
"Catherine's. She just delivered in that field. Danny's fairly drunk." He moaned and put his head down. "I put the vodka into the pack just in case, Mac. I'm assuming they'll drive the SUV back to their offices."
"That's fine. We can go pick it up with the bodies. Thank you, Sheldon. Did they call?"
"Danny did. I heard a lot of 'eww's." Mac sat up, laughing about that. "He didn't want to look or check her."
"Wonderful. I wondered why she was going today."
"They're digging it up next week and won't do it without heavy equipment, which would destroy any bodies found."
"Point. Thanks. Don knows?"
"Yup. Did you want my notice now or at the two weeks point?"
"Now please. How long do I have?"
"Month and a week."
"Good enough. I wish you wouldn't leave."
"I love Yelina. I'm not staying when she's down there being hot for me."
"You shouldn't. Love's too precious, Sheldon. You'll be hard to replace and I wish you the best of luck with Calleigh when she takes over soon."
"Thanks." He smiled. "I'll invite you guys down for the wedding." That got a smile. "Take something for the headache, Mac. Remember, she was technically on the job when she delivered." He moaned and put his head back down again, letting Sheldon walk off with a smile.
"Someone talked to his lady," Stella teased when she passed him by.
"No, but I'm leaving in a month and a week. Catherine just delivered. Danny had to help so he's partaking of vodka I put in the birthing pack." She snickered at that, nodding. "They were in the middle of a field."
"Wonderful. Think Don's still here?"
"Depends on if he got hold of anyone in Miami yet. His cell's broken." He headed off, going to finish up his last case. He was at the paperwork stage. He hated paperwork.
Horatio answered his phone, slumping down in misery. "Caine," he said quietly. "Don. Please tell me you're bringing her down here this weekend to relieve my misery from this trial?" He listened to the happy news. "The baby can't fly for how long?" He moaned, rubbing his temples. "I'll try to get up there as soon as I can but I'm in the middle of my testimony when we broke for the day. Are you with her? The middle of a field.... Why was our wife in the middle of a field?" He listened to the reason, then rubbed harder. "Who delivered the baby and therefore he's getting named after? Danny. Well, at least he's family. I won the middle name toss last time. You get this time." He smiled at that suggestion. "I like it. If not, read her the baby book until she relents. Remember, she said she's being tied off. Thank you, baby." He smiled and relaxed, listening to his voice, eyes closed. "I miss you two so much," he said quietly. "Soon. Very soon. I don't know, the defense is trying to stall. She might have to push it back another month. Thank you. I miss you guys. I'll be up as soon as I can, or you two can come down, give Danny time to recover." Calleigh stepped in. "Hold on. What?"
"Judge wants you back. Someone just tried to shoot at our mole."
"He can bite me," he said quietly. "My wife just gave birth. I'm going to petition to leave the city for a weekend." She smiled and went to tell the DA that. "I'll let you know one way or another, Don. Thank you. Love you too. Miss you. Bye." He hung up and just sat there, eyes closed. Someone tapped on his door. "Come bearing painkillers or leave."
"I come bearing happy news," his sister-in-law offered.
"It's a boy, Danny had to deliver him. Don said he thinks they're both okay but it's a four hour trip to the hospital for him. They had to fly her out of the field she and Danny were working in."
"Buried bodies. She decided to work on the day they were supposed to induce her because by the time she got out, the field and the bodies would've been destroyed."
"Ah. I come bearing happier, local news."
"Sheldon's moving down in a month and a week?"
"We're getting married in six months." He opened his eyes for that, looking at her. "He just asked me over the phone and I agreed." She smiled at him. "Help the headache?"
"No, but congratulations. The baby can't fly for a month."
"They can drive." She smiled, walking over to kiss his forehead. "Try to take a nap, Horatio."
"The judge wants me back. Calleigh went to argue on my behalf."
"She's very persuasive." She tipped him forward, working on his shoulders. Alexx came in with a bottle of tyelnol and a bottle of water. "Thank you, he needed those."
"Sheldon called and told me. When's the wedding?"
"Six months after he gets down here."
"Good, gives me time to shop," she said with a grin for her friend. "Horatio, sugar? Take the drugs."
"They want me back there, Alexx."
"I heard, and Calleigh's still arguing hard. She gets the drugs next. Take two, put two more in your pocket for later." He nodded, doing that and finishing the bottle of water. "Good boy." She walked off with the bottle of pain killers for Calleigh, who had hung up and was cursing in her corner. "He has to go?"
"Yup. Judge said he was sorry as hell but she'd survive a few weeks without him. Wants to put him into protective custody." She took two and dry swallowed them, then went to tell him the bad news. "They want you in there to talk about protective custody."
He dialed the phone and put it on speaker. "Torris," a male voice answered.
"I'm not going into protective custody. Anyone who tries me gets shot. You can tell the judge I said that. You can also tell him I'm going to see my wife tonight whether or not he likes it."
"I don't care. This is my son. This is my wife. No one would touch me anyway."
"We have to have you in the city and available. That means alive."
"I'm fairly certain I can take care of myself," he said coldly.
"I will shoot you too." He hung up and called the Judge. "It's Caine. His choice, I leave tonight to see my wife or I blow him up with a shotgun up his ass then I leave to see my wife and newborn son. He can choose which he wants. You can also tell him I don't need protective custody. I'm married to two cops." He hung up on the secretary and stood up, making Yelina smile. "Calleigh, you're in charge. If I get charged with contempt, they can arrest me when I get back in two days." He grabbed his jacket and headed out, nodding politely at Frank. "It's a boy. She delivered in a field with Danny helping her. Three hours from the nearest hospital."
"The judge said to take you into protective custody."
Horatio turned and looked at him. "I'm going to see my wife, Frank. I can't get much more protected than her and Don. If he doesn't like it, I'll gladly stick a shotgun up his ass and fire." Frank gave him a horrified look so he smirked. "Ask me if I give a damn. I told him the same thing." He turned and kept going, heading out to his hummer. He passed by Eric and Ryan. "It's a boy. Danny delivered him in a field."
"If I ever get married, I want a wife like her," Eric sighed. "She's never boring."
Ryan looked at him. "Wives like her give you issues like mine. How do you think I got OCD?" He walked off, heading for the rest of the group to hear the newest gossip.
Eric just stared at him. "That's it, I'm not going to settle down. Ever." Alexx walked past him and pinched him. "Oww! What was that for!"
"For being stupid. You've got a woman under your nose and you keep flaunting your whores in her face. Grow up, Eric." She walked off shaking her head. "Men," she muttered as she passed Frank.
"Some of us are nice," he complained. She snorted loudly. "I am, Sheldon is. He's a good boy. Wolfe can be now and then."
She turned to look at him. "Horatio told the judge's secretary that he was going to shoot him up the hind end with a shotgun, Frank. Eric's just stated he's never marrying. That Y chromosome makes y'all dumb. It's the lack of the extra tail for stability. Some of you approach it but that's because you've been tamed and taught by women."
"I'll tell my wife you said that," he smirked. "I heard what Horatio said, he repeated it to me. He's already gone."
"Good. That's where he needs to be, not here." She went back to her morgue and the uncomplicated dead people down there. They were so much better than living people sometimes.
Horatio walked off the plane and was met by Stella. "They got her back into the city?"
"No. I'm supposed to arrest you for contempt and threatening a judge." She smiled and held up car keys. "I drove your hummer. Escape, Horatio, before I realize you're here."
He smiled. "Thank you, Stella. He's trying to put me into protective custody."
"You can't get more protective than Danny at this time, even drunk." He cracked a smile at that. "Sheldon thoughtfully packed a pint of vodka in the birthing kit, just in case." He laughed, nodding and walking out with her. "I left directions on the seat of the hummer. Don said they've went in to remove the afertbirth since it was stuck and clipped her tubes at the same time. So no more birth control needed. She'll probably be released tomorrow or the day after. I'll call down there and tell them I wasn't fast enough and cite how many hospitals she could have went to. By the way, liked the shotgun remark." He nodded at that, slipping on his sunglasses. "Drive safely."
"I will. Thank you." He headed out, going to find his hummer since the keys had the parking ticket attached. He found it within a few minutes, getting in and heading for the hospital. Stella could always take train or get a ride with a transit cop. He was heading downstate apparently.
Don looked up and put a finger against his lips when Horatio opened the door. The door was closed as silently as possible and Horatio walked over, smiling at their son and wife. "He's a redhead too," he whispered, kissing him. "Good job, Horatio." That got a smile. "I called the judge and told him we'd protect you and it was cruel of him to make you stay down there during this. If he didn't like it you could sue him and the DA's office. I had Mac call to back you up." He got off the bed, letting him have his spot near her feet. "Danny's asleep out in my car. He's thoroughly trashed."
"I would be too," he admitted quietly. He leaned over to take the baby, earning a complaint from their wife. "I've got him," he whispered. She nodded and let him have him, earning a smile from both fathers. "Hi, Danny, I'm the daddy," he said quietly. The baby blinked at him. "I'm the one who came up to bother you all the time after the loud machine." He stroked down his nose. "You're going to be fine. We'll take good care of you, Danny."
"Yes we will," Catherine said, looking at him. "He good?"
"Staring in that fuzzy newborn way," Don promised, giving her a kiss.
Horatio leaned over, meeting her half-way for one of his own. "I should yell about stubborn natures, but I'd probably be the same way and so will Calleigh some year." Don gave him a horrified look. "Eric does love her but Alexx said he's being stupid." He stroked the tiny hand, getting a flinch. "Its all right. Don't do that. Your big brother will love you and touch you all the time. He's a monster about that stuff." Don nodded. "Who's got him?"
"Toni. She had to take him to a test too. Apparently her teacher was not happy but when pointed out that her mother was newly delivered and no one else could watch him, he relented and made her take it in the hall with him. So he crawled up and down the halls of the floor while she wrote her essay test. Then she cleaned him up and took him to make a complaint." Horatio smiled at that. Danny opened the door. "You still drunk?"
"Not enough." He walked in and looked at the baby. "Hey, mini me. You good?" He took the baby to hold, smiling at him. The baby grinned back, then belched. "Good job." He put him against his shoulder. "Toni woke me to complain. Timmy's acting up in the classes so she had to take off. Her teacher gave her an excuse and a retest for the other one. The dean thought it was sweet that she was helping the family. Fortunately she wasn't armed today since she didn't sleep last night." He patted the baby on the back but Horatio took him. "Sure. You do that." He looked at Don again. "Stella was supposed to arrest him, Mac said so."
"They can have him when he sneaks into the courtroom. She can go down there for a few days. We'll have her driven down." Horatio shook his head. "No? You don't want her anymore? Just with us for the baby?"
"If they wanted me in protective custody they must think something horrible is going to happen. I don't want her or him in danger. I'll be retiring as soon as this trial is done. Calleigh can have it. So maybe two months, maybe three?" Don nodded at that. "Hopefully less but it's taking forever and the defense is making pointless motions."
"That's their job," Danny reminded him. "Catherine, you need dinner?"
"They're giving me steak to share with them."
"Cool. I'm going to go back to the car and nap."
"I drove the hummer up, Danny. Go ahead and take Don's car back if you're fit to drive."
"M'not," he assured him. "Not quite yet." He went back to the car to go back to sleep. One of the guards looked at him. "I had to deliver a baby. That's nasty." He got smiled at. "I'm sleeping it off in the car. Leave Cavanaugh alone. She will hurt someone if they try to interrupt and it's not her two husbands."
"You are, sir?" Danny pulled his badge. "Oh, all right then. I know there's another here."
"That's one husband."
"Good enough then." He made note of which car he was sleeping it off in then went to check on the nurses on that floor. They were still cooing over the cuteness. They didn't get many babies being born in this hospital.
Horatio slid into the back of the courtroom, taking a seat. It took nearly two minutes for the judge to notice him. "Lieutenant!" He stood up. "Where were you? I put out a contempt order against you!"
"I'm sorry but my son's first day is more important to me. I told you that. You were being unreasonable."
"You." He stared him down. "It's not reasonable to expect a father to miss his son's first day of life. Not a good father anyway." The judge turned purple and opened his mouth. "I don't care what you charge me with, being there was more important. It's not like I was in danger. I did contact the proper authorities about that."
"You were to be arrested and fined."
"I'll gladly pay the fine. My son's first day is still more important to me than this case. Now, if you need me, I can be here; if not, I've got other paperwork I've got to finish before I retire at the end of this trial."
"Retire?" the DA said, looking pained. "You can't!"
"I am. Deal with it." He glared at him, getting a flinch. "I've reached my twenty, I've got two spouses and a newborn son, plus one who's just now ten months old. I'm going to enjoy myself and consult on cold cases. The Chief already knows this." He looked at the judge again. "How much do I owe?" He spluttered. "That's fine, give me a notice and I'll make sure it's paid. Do we need me today or not?"
"How dare you," the judge shouted.
"Have a heart attack, let them draw this out longer." He stepped forward, looking at the defense team, who wilted. "Are you nearly done?"
"Not quite," the lead one said, looking up at him. "We could go to cross examination today."
"That's fine. I'm back at the court's temperamental disposal."
"Please retake the stand," the DA ordered calmly. He had been warned about this one's attitude. Now he knew why. "Bailiff, please swear in Lieutenant Caine again so we can get this trial back on track."
"I want him in jail."
"That's at your discretion, and I'm well within my rights to sue," Horatio vowed. His phone rang so he answered it. "Caine." He smirked. "No, I can't, Yelina. Why?" He sat up. "Was he on there? No, I'm on my way." He hung up. "Add another day. We just had a small plane crash. All hands are needed." He headed out, going to help on the scene. He left the judge ranting and raving and the DA reminding him that he was on-call and that had to take precedence. The job always came first.
Horatio called them that night. "Bad news. The judge had a coronary after I walked out this morning to help with the crash. So a mistrial is being given and we're starting over next week with a new judge. They didn't want to drag this out." He smiled at the gentle words from his wife, vowing to kill the next one if it ran long. "They're hoping for a plea this time. The DA doesn't want to carry this out any longer either." He smiled at the cooing on the other end. "You could speak to daddy, Timmy." He heard the babbled 'mamamamamamama' and grinned. "Good boy, Timmy. Is your brother okay? I know you're a good big brother." He laughed at the story of Timmy trying to carry the baby around earlier like his teddy bear and smiling grandly at everyone while he tried. "Did we get pictures?" He turned on his computer, finding them in his inbox and a strongly worded reprimand from his boss. "The chief said I was out of line. Pity." He deleted that one, going to the next one. He read it and snorted, then found the picture. "He's adorable," he sighed. "Pray this goes shorter. Please?" He smiled. "Love you too, baby. Yeah, tonight. Love you. Kiss them and Donny for me." He smiled, hanging up, and wrote his boss back since he was in such a mellow mood. For now. They'd see how long he had to put off Jamaica and how bad his mood would be getting.