Catherine walked out of the airport, finding two biker studs waiting on her. "Hey, even escorts," she said blandly, looking at the kid beside her. "You rate way high."
"Shut up and get one," one said, sounding like he was teasing. He opened his face mask, looking at the kid. "Let me guess, you shave it?"
"Of course. My parents freaked and tried to wax me the one time they saw it." He walked closer. "I'm Xander."
"I'm Vinnie, that's Throttle. Throttle, get the babe, all right?"
"Sure." He grinned and helped her onto the back of his bike, handing over the spare helmet. She tucked her bag more firmly between them and he took off, seeing Vinnie coaxing the kid onto the back of his bike. "He doesn't ride?"
"Never got exposed to it. That's up to you guys. He's hiding his antenna and tail too. How are my kitties?"
"Fine. Warrick spoiled them and said he kept Chocolate off the bed this time. I'm taking you home, right?"
"Yup, sure are, babe." She gave him a squeeze. "Thank you."
"He said you took a cab." He sped around a corner and she giggled, catching something and zipping her bag up. He sped up more, making her give him another squeeze. This is why he liked riding with her behind him. He pulled up in front of her place, Vinnie and their nephew behind them by a few minutes. She got off and handed back the helmet, waving at the others. "Later, babe?"
"I've got collate information and send it off to the other cities."
"Eww, sounds like paperwork. Remember to eat. We can't lose you. It'd be a tragedy to the rest of the city." He smirked and sped off. She headed inside, startling Warrick. "Didn't hear the bikes?"
"I did, I thought it was more of your friends. One of them handed over the message that Sissy got married, she's knocked up."
"Oooh, cool. I'll have to buy her a chicken." He gave her an odd look. "She's into Voodun." He shuddered. "She had prayed to get pregnant." She flopped down and handed over the new sheets. "It was useful. Vinnie's got a nephew down here. I brought him back too."
"Wonderful." The cats all came over to meow for attention, crowding the mommy and Blair sitting in his lap to get his attention. He handed her the cat when her hand got too close to anything on him, making her grin. "I know you're not my sort, but I'm still not comfortable with you petting the cat in my lap." He went back to reading. "So I take it you found a higher source?"
"More of their libraries. It's being shipped in tomorrow." He smirked at that. "Xander can bring it back with him. He's got dark hair, brown eyes, and atrocious fashion sense. You'll know him on sight." He nodded, going back to his reading. He finally reached over to pinch her. "Ow, what was that for?"
"For not waking me up, woman."
"Not like I was sleeping with you, Warrick. Though you do look comfortable." He snickered and shook his head. "I've got to send that to the others."
"I'll do that. You take the cats into the bedroom and nap. You look like you're tired."
"I am." She got up and took them into the bedroom with her. "Come on, mommy needs a napping buddy." She stripped down and got into bed, letting them curl up around her and get comfortable.
Warrick got up to start the fax circle. First to his office, then to Abby in DC. Then to Miami, Cascade, New York, and then to Montreal and New Orleans. Then he went to integrate it into the folder she had of notes so far.
Blair jumped up and down when he got the fax. "YES! She found more information, including on the significance of the sun!"
"It's that bright ball that you pray to so it'll reappear now and then," Speed said sarcastically.
"I knew that. I meant in the rite, Speed." He snatched them, sitting down to look it over. He smirked at him. "She found someone else within the same organization and bullied books out of them."
"Good. Even with names and authors." Blair took them back, going to see if he could find any of them around Cascade. He smirked and shook his head. "I need a report when you're done!"
"Sure, I'll do the lecture later tonight at dinner," he promised, heading off to the elevator.
Speed shook his head. "That boy fusses nearly as bad as Alexx does about my eating." He got back to work at the laughs. "He does, and he cooks nearly as good too. I never had octopus I liked until last night."
"We figured he was a little wild with all the places he's been," one of the techs offered, smiling at him. "Sandburg's just a bit wild anyway if you're used to the more quiet and normal cops up there."
Speed looked at him. "Most of my department is like Eric." That got a giggle. "Seriously." He got back to work, smiling a bit more now. They had no idea how wild Sandburg was.
Greg went dancing down the halls. "Grissom, Catherine found more information!" he called happily. Their Catherine looked at him oddly. "Not you, the loud one from Chicago." She snorted and took the information to look over. "It explains the deviations allowed and the sun spotting stuff we've all noticed."
"Good. Where did she get it?" She saw the notation page with books and blinked. "I'm betting those are obscure. I wonder how long she left Warrick with her cats."
"He said she left four am yesterday to fly out to Sunnydale." She rolled her eyes. "His top page said she's asleep at the moment." He took it back with a grin. "Gotta give it to Gris and Nickie. Otherwise they might pout." He headed up the hall, pouncing Hodges, just because he could. "Catherine's probably going to be coming back soon."
"Wonderful, hopefully she brought your leash." He looked at the papers. "New information?" He grinned. "Nicks' asleep in the break room, Grissom's in his office." He went to hide again. He had his yearly dose of public contact now.
Greg leaned in the break room. "New information from Catherine!" he called loudly. Nick sat up, rubbing his eyes. "I'm heading to Gris's office." Nick nodded and got up, getting some coffee before following. They were waiting on their body of the day. Greg smiled at Grissom and his visitor Ecklie. "She found more stuff, Gris. I woke Nick up." He handed it over with a flourish. "Including with notations of the books she found in someone's collection in Sunnydale."
"Are they the killer?" Ecklie asked.
He looked at him. "You know, after sixteen years in Vice, I suspect she can figure that out. Warrick's note said she talked to someone from the same organization as her former teacher whose books got us the preliminary stuff came from." He looked at Nick again. "I only got to glance through it. We are right, the sun does have significance. To put it non- crudely, they saw the sun as his seed. That's why it glows." Nick grumbled at that, taking the pages Grissom handed over. "I also saw the word deviation in there?" he prompted.
Grissom nodded, coming to it a page later. "It says here that the deviation was their proof of faith. They bring part of their personality to the God and offer it up as something they're willing to give up to be in his service. At the end of this, all the hints of this quirk will be worn out by the rites. It's draining it from them basically, purifying them in the God's image, making them more like him."
"So, it's like DEVO," Greg said. Grissom looked at him. "Surely you've heard of DEVO, Grissom. Rock band, totally alike? Like little pods in the alien pod pens?"
Nick shook his head. "Something like that, Greg. Way too early for that analogy though." He handed over the sheets he was done with. He got the last one and read it over, nodding slowly. "That explains all the little quirks and that we can look for them by this. What about this organization? Since they've got most of the books on the subject."
"They've got books on most of the cults and obscure legends, Nick. I know a guy who got a scholarship to do his Ph.D. in mythology from them. They're a bunch of boring white guys in Britain who live by Stonehenge and do this for their life's work. He said so."
"Second hand information?" Grissom asked plainly.
"No, he'd met with them and their Council. We're talking they study vampires and demons, they study obscure cults and religions, they study the myths of the various major religions. They study the obscure and occult. That's what the Watcher's council does." He took the last page and read it over, nodding slowly. He put it together and tapped the pages so they were presentable then handed them back to Grissom. "Can that help us with the killer?"
"Hopefully." He looked at Nick. "Go think and rest, Nick. You're exhausted."
"Yeah, but Greg was right, this was important," he sighed, getting up and heading back to his couch, even if he did have to kick Sarah off it. "Mine," he growled, and she moved. "We got new information."
"Yay, go us. I'm not helping on that cult case. I can't wrap my mind around it. I'll handle the rest of the cases, please." She handed him the throw she had folded and put onto the table, watching as he fell asleep again. She headed to check with Hodges, again, for her samples. "Done yet?"
"Do I look like I have something that can make time speed up?" he asked blandly. She grimaced and stomped off. "I didn't think so but if I did, I'd copyright it and sell it," he muttered, getting back to work.
Monroe got the forms out of the fax and frowned at them. "Danny!" she called when he walked past. "New information on the cult."
"Yes!" He snatched it, taking the rest of them until fax had a paperjam. He fixed it as quickly as he could, getting out a half sheet. He'd send them an email to get it later. He took the last sheet, the bibliography, and headed off for the offices. "Mac, new information and we had a paper jam so we need a page again." He handed it over. "Monroe caught it."
"It was doing fine until he got there to snatch it as soon as they came out," she offered.
"Kids, enough," Sheldon complained, taking the sheets. "I'll call Chicago to get that sheet resent." He took it with him to the office to do that.
Mac leaned against a wall, reading what they had, nodding slowly. "Our assumptions were right. It verified that. Not much we hadn't guessed at but it might help us weed it down some. Danny, in the people we interviewed for those purchases, anyone overtly Greek, like a historian or anyone?"
"One of the Crowley freaks who scared Stella in Miami." Mac gave him a dirty look. "He scared me too," he assured him. "It was explained to me as take hardcore S&M, heavy on the sadism and the fun it causes, and add magic." Mac shuddered at that. "Why?"
"It says this quirk is being purified through the rites as is the rest of them." He handed over that page. Sheldon came out with the last page and a smile. "Anything good?"
"The sun is important. It's his seed to be indelicate."
"So we can tease Sandburg about worshiping that?" Danny teased, grinning at him.
"Works for me," Sheldon agreed. "If he's the sort you can tease."
"Aw, yeah. Not a problem with that," Don assured him as he joined them. "Good news?"
"More information that verified what we already knew," Mac admitted. He pulled out his cellphone and called Catherine's house. "Warrick, Mac Taylor. Can we go over the books for more miniscule clues?" He smirked at that. "Tomorrow's fine. I'll send Stella and tell Horatio and Gibbs to send someone too. Yeah, I know, warn them she has cats. Five cats, okay. Thanks." He hung up. "Stella!" She came out of a lab up the hall. "New information and you're heading to Chicago to look for any new information that might've come." She nodded, coming over to get those sheets so she could look them over. She grimaced at the part about the sun.
"Makes you wanna tease Sandburg, huh?" Danny taunted.
"Oh, it so does, but it makes me wanna tease Delko more," she assured him happily. "One of my guys that I had to interview had Egyptian stuff but not Greek that I recognized, but it was all later Egyptian, when it was under Greek control," she offered Mac.
"That makes him a possibility," Mac agreed. "Good work, guys. Let's disseminate this where it needs to go?" They nodded, going to let the others who'd need it read it.
Horatio looked up as his fax machine started to spit out paper. "What now?" he complained, getting up to look it over. He smirked and walked over to the door. "Eric, Calleigh, Wolfe, my office!" he called. He went back, gathering them up.
Eric came jogging in, smiling at the new information. "Cool, more stuff. Anything new?"
Calleigh walked in. "Mac called, Warrick said she's getting the books if we wanted to go search for smaller clues in it. They'll be there tomorrow. He's sending Stella to get more of a handle on that issue."
"That's fine. One of you can go."
"I'll go," Wolfe offered.
"She's got five cats," Calleigh told him. "Mac said to warn whoever goes."
"I don't mind cats. Five?" She nodded. "Mommy and kittens?"
"No, she probably took in strays," Eric told him. He snickered. "Speed was complaining about the lack of sun. Can we tease him about needing that big ball of glowing DNA specimen?"
"Eww!" Calleigh said, hitting him on the arm and taking that page. She read then made a face. "Eww! They do think that." She shuddered and handed it off. "I'm all for taunting Speed about missing the DNA contribution."
Horatio smirked and shook his head. "Children."
"Tough," Eric said. "I missed taunting him."
Wolfe smirked. "He's going to get you guys back when he comes home, you know that, right?"
"Yeah, but we'll be ready for him by then," Calleigh assured him happily. "You sure you want to go?"
"Yeah. It'll give me a better perspective on the ones locally. Plus, I actually read Latin." They nodded, that might help. "Horatio?"
"That's fine, Mr. Wolfe. I can agree to that. I'll make the arrangements in a few minutes." That got a nod. "Anything new we hadn't already learned?"
"Besides the fact that they're purging these quirks of theirs out?" Eric offered, handing him that page. "It verifies our theories."
"Good. Excellent in fact. How are we on the suspects list?"
"Danny said to talk to that one guy who creeped him out again, Eric. The one with the Greek things?" Eric nodded. "With this being a quirk they're letting out, he popped into Danny's mind as someone who talked about Greek things. They've got another lead up there too."
"That's fine. I can do that," he agreed happily. "Not like I don't think he's got others in his closet." He took the last few sheets. "Ooh, and a book list. She's thorough."
"She's a researcher. She's an anthro person who's using it to be a good cop," Horatio noted quietly. "She's looking at this like she would a research topic, Eric. Which means she probably didn't miss any clues but better to be safe than sorry." That got a nod from Ryan Wolfe. "Are we done?" They handed back everything and went back to their current cases to think while they worked, and in Ryan's case to make a list of what he should be packing. That's just the sorta guy he was.
"Oh, Sweet Mother of Mercy!" Abby shouted happily. "She found more stuff." She called upstairs. "Gibbs, she found more stuff and sent it on." She hung up and finished the test she was running for him, handing it over as he walked in with Tony right behind him. She pointed at the stack of things coming out of the fax. One last sheet popped out and Tony checked, then put in more paper. Another sheet came out and it shut off. "Anything good?"
He handed over the pages to Gibbs as he scanned them. "His sperm is glowing, he should get that checked," Tony joked. Gibbs swatted him, making him grin at him. "They think that's what the sun is, boss." He handed over that sheet, getting a look back. Abby giggled at that. "Ah, here, the quirks are something they're giving up and wearing out, purifying it in the rites as the rest of them is purified by the blood. It sounds like they may be keeping some of it to bathe in."
"Or maybe to drink. Like holy water or communion wine," Abby offered thoughtfully, sitting down and spinning around on her stool. "Any more clues?"
"Yeah, the sun is related to the position of the bodies inside the symbols." He frowned and pulled up something then their calendar of who was getting hit where. "Boss, we may've caught a break. Catherine's one in three bodies is during an eclipse." Gibbs came over to look. "I read about the eclipse this morning but it didn't hit me until now." He looked at him. "If we can get a hint then, we may be able to capture them when they dump the bodies." She moved around him and called up the ritual sheets, letting him find that one. "Yeah, see here, got to be fully exposed to the sun." They shared another look. "So he'll either break pattern or have to do something. It's most of the day that they'll be in partial darkness. Then full darkness during the middle of the afternoon."
Abby called up a weather projection. "It's saying it might rain that day too," she offered.
"Another good reason to break the pattern," he agreed, calling out there. "Warrick, Gibbs. Look at the eclipse pattern and yours in three bodies." He waited while he did that, nodding at his observations. "It could be. It could be all the triangle's break the pattern. That's in your neck of the woods though."
"Cascade's is the day before. They're in the rainy season so no sun anytime," Tony offered, going further. "The other is in Sunnydale so they might have sun."
"Get that to Fornell, Abby. He's talking to the Sunnydale people." She nodded, doing that with an email. He listened to Warrick. "She all right?" He grimaced. "She said it was starting to be an issue. How bad?" He nodded slowly. "Then let's hope it doesn't matter. Thanks. Yeah, if we need to I can. DiNozzo, I need you to go out there tomorrow to look through the books for the smallest of clues. She deals in threat assessments. She's not looking as a criminalist."
"On it, boss. I'll go make the arrangements now. Should I take that to McGee?"
"Yeah." He handed it over. "Thanks, Warrick, not an issue for him." He hung up. "He wanted you warned she's got five cats."
"I'm not allergic, McGee is, boss." He headed up to hand those over. Then he sat down to make the travel arrangements. The director came down to look at his computer. "She's gotten new references so Gibbs wanted me to go look over them for the tinier things she would normally skip since she's a normal Vice cop, ma'am," he said as he typed. Gibbs came up. "Boss, was the Hyatt in our range or not?"
"Try the Marriot. They usually give us discounts." Tony nodded, trying that site. He got a nod and booked everything, printing off his arrangements. "Thank you. Good work on that idea, DiNozzo."
"Thanks, boss. I just hope I'm right. I'm tired of this sicko bastard." He sat down again, going back to their current case.
"What new information?" the director asked. McGee handed over the pages he was done with. "About that cult?" Gibbs nodded. "What other things do we have?"
"I sent you the briefing sheets, Director," Gibbs reminded her. "That's in addition to that."
"Make me a copy of these, McGee. That way I have the whole folder together in case something happens."
"Yes, Ma'am." He took back the other pages and went to do that, finishing his reading. He came back. "Boss, why can't I go on the research mission? I'm good at research."
"She's got five cats, McGee. I doubt the books' owner wants to have your snot all over them."
"Never mind, I withdraw my protest," he said happily, handing the copies to their boss. He handed copies to Gibbs and DiNozzo too. "Where is Ziva?"
"Still working with Fornell about Montreal," Tony offered. "I don't know why they don't want to work with anyone outside their city but they're not. He's liaisoning between the three and calming Sunnydale down again. By the way, boss, he said he was warned not to be in Sunnydale over night. He wanted to know why."
"Ask Catherine," he said with a frown.
"He said she didn't explain it just ordered it to be that way."
"Still, ask her. How would I know?"
"I've done some looking at the town of Sunnydale, boss, and it's dangerous there," McGee offered. "A thirty percent homicide rate, mostly by animal bites, knife attacks, and gangs on PCP. They've also had their high school blown up. A military project that's so classified I couldn't find a classification rating on it, and a lot of paranoid people's websites listing it as a bad place to be unless you wanna die. Though most of them mention demons and vampires." Gibbs stared at him, mouth slightly open. "I'm guessing there's some sort of underlying truth in that mix, but I don't know what."
"I'll let him know," he assured him, shaking his head. "Vampires?"
"Yes, boss, lots and lots of vampires, and kids on PCP who bite each other."
Tony looked over at him. "Have *you* been taking the PCP, Probie?"
"No, Tony, I haven't, but that's how it's listed."
"There's not enough PCP in the world to account for a thirty percent homicide rate!" He came over to look at that information, frowning as he read it over. "That's a coverup." He clicked on the military. "Ooh, shit, NSA." Gibbs got up to come over and look. "That's NSA, right, boss?" He nodded, typing in a password he had. It came up restricted. He looked at him. "If your password doesn't work on that, and you got it from one of the top guys...."
"That's a bad place to be. Anything on them?" he asked. "Just out of curiosity."
"Some, boss, but again back to the paranoid and delusional websites that have demons and vampires." He clicked on the links he had made and showed him.
Gibbs groaned. "I'll tell Fornell myself to check into that. It'd give him the best idea of why he was being so careful in that town. Hopefully Ziva won't die there."
"She's in New Orleans making them work, boss," Tony told him. "She emailed a progress report about how they're being stubborn and were told it'd happen in time so they only had to hang on."
"Fruitcakes with a badge?" Gibbs asked.
"Apparently so, boss. Not totally clear on her end. She was typing like she had a hangover." Gibbs growled at that. "I can forward it if you want."
"No, make sure it went to Fornell." He called him to make sure he knew about that problem. He did so it was all right and he was told the same thing. Demons in the military, stopped by a handful of kids. He hung up and put his head down. "They told him the same thing," he admitted, looking over at Tony. "Demons being recruited and programmed in the best military fashion."
"If I was in the service, I'd serve with anyone but a demon," he noted dryly, leaning back. "Gay guys don't bother me. Flaming queens wouldn't bother me. Those who are clearly psychotic and should have no access to guns, much less explosives, wouldn't bother me that much as long as I had a way to protect myself. But a big, scaly, slimy demon? I'd mind."
"You and me both, DiNozzo. Get back to work."
"Yes, boss." He sat up and got back to his searching.
Blair looked at Speed later that night. "Did Eric call and pick on you about missing the big ball of glowing jiz yet?"
"Oh, yeah. I got it from Danny and Greg in Vegas."
"How do you know Sanders?"
"I met him through my mother believe it or not." He grinned at him. "Long story, man." Speed rolled his eyes. "Really. Oh, fair warning, mom got asked to leave Brazil." Jim moaned. "No idea where she's heading yet." He sat down again and piled food onto his plate, then Jim's, then Speed's.
"Man, you're so much worse than Alexx. She just nags," Speed complains.
"I can see why. You've got the sniffles from the rain. Eat the greens."
"Fine, mom!" He leaned forward and took a careful bite. "Vinegar and citrus?" Blair smirked and nodded. "It's better than Calleigh's." He ate another bite.
"Is this my punishment for meeting Daryl at Wonderburger?" Jim asked flatly.
"Ya think?" Speed offered.
"Mr. my-cholesterol-is-five-ninety-three." Blair stared him down and pointed. "Eat or it's tofu."
"My last one wasn't that high."
"It was when I ran it today," Speed assured him with a grin.
Jim moaned. "Have I mentioned I hate you two being friends?"
"Yup," Blair agreed. "Eat, Jim, or it's tofu." Jim sighed but dug in. "Thank you. Did you get the new information?" Jim nodded, eating another bite. Maybe if he was good he could have dessert? "Did you get the idea that came from NCIS that the eclipse coming up could be a crucial point to stop him?"
"I hadn't," he admitted, putting down his fork. "When's the eclipse?"
"The day after three from now," Speed told him, eating another bite at Blair's look. It was good. He dug in, cleaning his plate and got more handed to him. "Yes, mom."
"Good boy. You make me feel like such a good Jewish mother."
"You want me to find you a dress?" Speed asked. "I mean, you've got the hair."
"Not funny, man. I've got more body hair than you do."
"Thankfully. I'd shave if it was hirsute man like you." He smirked at him. "Should we stuff you and put you in a museum as the definition and exemplar?"
"Not," he snorted. "I know guys who're much hairier than I am."
"They probably clean out the shower drain too," Jim reminded him.
"I use the little capture thing, Jim. That means it's your falling locks." Jim growled at that so he smirked back at him. "See, I knew that little plastic basket would save you some aggravation but you never use it."
Jim looked at Speed. "If I beg, would you take him home with you? Him, his dusty books, his skulls, everything?"
"Sure. I'm sure Horatio could find a good use for him and he'd have that big, glowing ball of DNA to keep him warm."
"Unfortunately if you did that, he'd have to follow sometime," Blair told him. "Not that I'd mind. It's warm down there and I could handle hurricanes now and then."
"You'd be one of those idiots out there with a videocamera, Chief."
"Ryan knows one of those, but he calls her a reporter," Speed offered. Jim snickered at that. "Then again, we did have this one idiot who took his surfboard out to surf the biggest wave of his life as one came rolling across the city."
Jim gaped at him. "Tell me you're kidding," he demanded flatly. Speed shook his head, eating another bite of dinner. "Talk about morons," Jim complained.
"It was probably something like a rite of passage to him. To prove he was a real man, we do stupid things for the tribe to applaud and laugh at," Blair instructed. "The same as teenagers in America hang out in groups and menace others at the lesser level, they steal petty things and then they brag about their conquests. It's also the same reason knights went on quests, to prove they were real knights and worthy men. Rituals of passage are a fascinating topic of study."
Speed leaned over and grabbed the serving spoon out of the greens, stuffing it in Blair's mouth. "Not over dinner, Sandburg. Next you'll be talking about those guys who pierce themselves."
"Just another subset or cultural dynamic, man." He licked off the spoon and went to get another one, putting that one in the dishwasher. "That was mean, Speed." He added more to his plate before sitting back down. "Think about how many subcultures each person belongs to in their daily lives. You two share one but then Speed's got a second one in being a criminalist."
Jim stuck in the spoon this time, then looked at Speed. "Good idea, Speed, thanks. Pizza?"
"No, man, I'm full. Maybe you should eat before he thumps you with that spoon."
"No, that was the Tick," Blair said, swatting Jim with his hand instead. He rolled his eyes but got back to eating. "The more you understand about this stuff the better cop you are, Jim. Or haven't you noticed that since I got drug along behind you?"
"If I remember right, you tagged along and wouldn't stay in the truck," he noted dryly, eating another bite. "Dessert, Sandburg?"
"Yeah," he snorted. "With your cholesterol this morning? Fat chance."
"I brought over angel food cake," Speed offered with a smirk.
"That's not fattening, he can have some of that," Blair agreed.
"With jelly or something?" Jim begged. "Plain is boring."
"We'll see. You'd better eat more," Blair told him. Jim sighed but dug in.
"You and Alexx should get together some day, but I'd better be out of the country," Speed offered with a grin.
"She and I talked the other day. She wanted to make sure you were eating and sleeping enough. I told her I was making you eat at least three meals a day and sleeping she'd have to ask you herself because I wasn't your body pillow. She moaned and then cackled and said that's probably a good thing since she wants grandkids from you someday, Tim."
Speed moaned. "That's just evil, Sandburg."
"Just repeating, man, just repeating," he said with a bright, evil smirk. He grinned at Jim next. "She said she wants to meet you too, Jim. Because she just knows I can't handle you well enough." Jim whimpered and shook his head. Blair cackled and got up to get dessert from the fridge and the strawberry jam he had bought earlier when Speed had said he was making an angel food cake.
Horatio looked up as Alexx walked into his office. "What's wrong?"
"I finally met someone who can take care of my boy just as well as I can. That Sandburg boy is a sweetie, Horatio. Even if he does need to get warmer." Horatio gave her an odd look. "While I was talking to him earlier he was resting against a heater and got a bit singed around the edges. He's making sure Speedy eats at least three times a day, he's making sure he finds some nice girls in their clubs. He said he can't be sure he's sleeping all right since he's not sleeping with him but I forgive him for that because it means I'll get grandbabies."
"Are you feeling all right, Alexx?"
"I'm fine. But we do need to bring those two down here, Horatio. Blair could use some sun, it'd do the poor boy good. He's used to jungles and things, not the rainy northwest. Besides, then maybe he'd meet a nice girl too."
Horatio smiled and shook his head. "It never ceases to amaze me how you can fuss over us, Alexx. I'll invite him down once this is done, or sooner if we can. Maybe we can hold our next strategy meeting in person down here."
"That'd be nice. I haven't seen Speedy in a few weeks. I want to know if he's found any nice girls. Or boys, I'm not picky."
Horatio smirked at her. "Go fuss over Wolfe when he gets back. He'll be with Catherine."
"I checked up on her. He's about to get his mind blown. She's not the nicest of good girls, Horatio."
"So I heard," he agreed, still smirking. He stood up and came over to walk her back to her domain. "Ellison said she's a great officer but she leaves him in the dust. I'm hoping they can keep up with her."
"Oh, I'm sure they will." She patted him on the cheek. "Can you arrange that? I heard we've got a plan starting."
"We do," he agreed. "I'll discuss it with the other cooperating cities." She smiled and went back into the morgue while he went to plot and plan, and to warn Speed that his 'mother' was angsting about having him so far away. He sent that in an email, getting a groan back. He almost wondered why he was at work but then he decided it was probably for a good reason, even if Alexx wouldn't see it that way.
Tony smiled at the guys who came out of cabs and rental cars at the same time, beaming at the one guy he knew. "Wolfie, my man!" He gave him a hug, slapping him on the back.
"Tony. You big player. Let go." He let go and brushed himself down, giving him a smirk. "You're in which city?"
"Right on Gibbs' six in NCIS. He stole me from Baltimore."
"Wonderful." He grinned at the guy with them. "Hey, Danny. You were described perfectly."
"Thanks. It would've been Stella but she sprained her ankle earlier chasing some idiot on a moped because he tried to rip her shirt off her at a scene. Frat brother gone stupid."
"I was one of those once," Tony agreed fondly.
"You mean you're still not?" Warrick said from the doorway. "You're very early, guys. I can't let you in yet."
"I don't mind a mess," Danny offered, stepping forward.
"I'll help clean," Ryan offered.
"Still?" Tony demanded. Ryan grimaced and nodded. "You poor man! Do you clean the women you date too?"
"Who said I get to date? Do you know how much time I spend in the lab?" He looked at Warrick again, who was smirking. "What's wrong, cat sick?"
"No, she is and she's got a friend in to help her. I'm not allowed to let anyone in. But we can sit out here and read."
"That's fine," Danny agreed. He came up onto the porch. "What's wrong with her?"
"She's diabetic and they're just now finding out. Plus she had an allergy attack from lunch. He's babying her and making her feel miserable."
"So, should I call our mother, Alexx, up to help?" Ryan asked. "She babies Speed and gets away with it."
"Won't help with this fussy one in there." He ducked back into the house and brought out the box of books and notepads. "Here you go." He caught the meowing beast who had snuck out.
"Awww, aren't you adorable," Danny cooed, letting him sniff his fingers so he could scratch his ears. "You're adorable. What's your name?"
"Blair. He's the only friendly one. He weighs a ton too." He looked back inside. "She good, Throttle?"
"For now. She needs to rest and eat better."
"I've been trying," he promised. "She needs a cook."
"She does. Not like she eats normally even when she's not sick." A new car pulled up and Greg got out. "I know him."
"Oooh, baby," Greg cooed, petting the bike. "Is your daddy here?" It beeped quietly. "Good girl." He walked up and past everyone, glaring at Throttle. "You can't write? Is your tail broken as well as your fingers?" Throttle laughed at that. "Good!" He hugged him. "What's going on?"
"Catherine's blood sugar is starting to take over," Warrick offered. "Why are you here, Greg?"
"I read two of the languages the books are in."
"Oh." He shrugged. "It's mostly in British." Greg rolled his eyes and hugged Throttle again, whispering something to him. That got a nod. "Go." Greg walked back outside.
"You know him?" Tony asked, holding out a hand. "DiNozzo, NCIS."
"I saw." He shook his hand. "I did a light background check to see who I was working with. The bosses think we're going to be redistributing for the eclipse event." He plopped down on the porch, leaning against the railing. "Give me something foreign, Ryan." He got smirked at and a book tossed over. "Danka." He got to work on it. "We're looking for little clues, right?" Everyone nodded. "Cool with me. Do we have anything DNA wise?"
"We found some transexual hairs from an original woman," Danny offered. "The place where that one was killed was a flop house and the hair did show drugs in her system beyond the hormone cocktail."
Greg looked at him. "Our last one we had a sample but we also had a patrol officer who contaminated the scene by spitting. I separated out the strands and I'm hoping it's the killer's and not some random person from the park who was spitting earlier. Whoever it is has phlegm."
"Charming," Warrick told him. "Any other good news?"
"Yeah, Ecklie's still in a snit," he said, looking up at him. "He's yelling at Gris about the overtime and all that. Plus your housing allowance that he doesn't have any paperwork on. I'd file just to get her grocery money but that's just Grissom's and Catherine's advice. Catherine nearly kicked him in the balls accidentally on purpose the other day when he stormed into her office and started making demands."
"I'll talk to them in a few," he promised, smirking slightly. "How's Nickie?"
"Exhausted. He's lead on this one. He's been catching twenty on the couch in the break room the days we're due because Ecklie has him doing full shifts the night before and the night after." Warrick hissed. "I at least brought in a new board to help with the springs, but it's not much more comfortable."
Danny shook his head. "Mac's got some modern pieces in his, not comfy either. It's like sleeping on the locker room benches."
"Been there, done that," Tony sighed. "A few times. We're always on call. I've slept in my desk chair many a night." He turned the page. "This is in medieval english." Greg looked then nodded. "Do I need a dictionary for this?"
"No, you're smart enough to do that, Tony," Greg assured him. He grinned at him. "I'm sure you had to read some horribly long epic in english class in it." Tony shuddered and got back to work. "Same thing only now we're dealing with demons and cults." He got stared at by everyone. "Half the stuff the Watchers deal with are demons and cults, guys. Expect mentions." He got back to work translating. He wrote down a few lines, noting the page, source, and original language used. Throttle hopped down the stairs. "Any instructions, dad?"
"Yeah, calm Vinnie down about his nephew, Xander," he called back, his helmet already on. "The boy's more violent and he can't ride yet. He's feeling confused."
"Sure. Remind him he's had many years with the stupid people. That should help."
"Maybe," he agreed, hopping onto his bike and speeding off.
Tony looked at Warrick. "Was that a tail?"
"No comment." He opened the door more fully. "It's clear. He's the shy one." He nudged the cat back. "No, this isn't an air break, Nessa." Greg got up and headed inside, Danny and Tony following. Ryan tidied up the rest of the box and followed with it. He also came to get a few of the cats to help him. They liked boxes. They liked laps. They could help him read and stay calm. Warrick grinned, sitting down with the Blair cat. He looked down at him, getting a loud meow for it. "Sorry, am I not automatically petting you? Greedy." He got to work petting the poor thing. His mommy was sick and her alpha female was in there with her. "Damnit, I mean Oz!" She quit trying to get around his foot. "Thank you."
"Let me guess, mommy should rename them?" Ryan joked.
"Now and then, but this is the major begger of the family," he assured him. "I've got to order dinner, should I get you guys anything?"
"Food's good," Tony agreed. "Anyone got a favorite?"
"Pizza's nice," Danny admitted, sniffing the book. "Though this smells like chicken and broccoli."
"Pizza's fine with me," Ryan agreed quietly, going back to reading.
"Would the fact that the three chosen would have to be touched and stroked by the hand of their God personally, meaning they had to go to the statue, help us any?"
"Could," Tony admitted. "Depends on where the statue is though."
Greg looked at him. "Cascade. Speed found it earlier in one of their museums." Everyone stared at him. "He put out an all points."
"Fuck," Danny sighed, holding his spot with his finger while he took off his glasses so he could rub his eyes. "We're sure?"
"Just like the little charms and that's where they picked them up. It's part of the museum's gift shop. He's running that down. I know we got it a few hours ago in Vegas."
Danny called home, Ryan doing the same. "Mac, me. Did we get an all points from Cascade about the statues?" He nodded slowly, making notes. "Check the library up at that school for information sources. Well, if they all had ta be there and the only way they could've gotten it is from a library, unless we've got there guys who were there who also went to the same school, and that'd be like a coincidence."
Ryan hung up. "Speed's already on the museum and the local school's files. Plus the one here since this is the only one we know where there's more books." He stood up as Catherine wobbled in. "Need the couch?" he asked.
"No, handsome, I'm good." She headed into the kitchen. "Am I low or high?"
"Last I knew you were low," Warrick ordered. "Eat the sandwich, Catherine. That's what it's in there for." She grumbled something uncomplimentary. "Yay. Watch me get someone out here to fuss for real, like Vinnie."
She shuddered and headed back to her room. "Guys, he's threatening mommy with the big, loud, white one. Come cuddle the mommy and protect her." She heard a meow and petted the cat already in there. "Yes, you guard the mommy very well, Xander."
"You named her after that kid?" Warrick asked.
"After a character on tv," she called, closing the door most of the way. "I'll be better in an hour. Then I'll come help."
"Sure," Danny called, hanging up. "Mac said he went through the libraries online to see if anyone had anything else about this stuff. He accidentally got onto a website that had it, but that was a roleplaying site and it wasn't related. No details, nothing about the triangles. Just about the God. He was used as a name in this set of games." Everyone sighed.
"We have one, Cascade has a few books, NYU has a few, and UTenn Knoxville has some," Catherine called. She came back to her door. "Plus anyone who belonged to that organization in Britain could access it. I'm doubting it's them since they're so stick-up-the- ass they don't even admit they've got information when you desperately need it for a case." She ate a bite of her sandwich. "I asked the local librarian to check through the inter- library loan system. Those are the ones with the noted collections." She went back to bed, two of the cats slinking in there with her. She followed one back out a minute later when she came out and jumped on Ryan's lap. "Huh. She usually hates people. She's very afraid of people. I like you if she approves." She went back to bed. "I'll be nice and put on more decent jammies too." The phone rang and she groaned, coming out to get it. "Demoranth." She listened, then held her head. "Guys, I had an allergy attack earlier. No, like meds. Yeah, well, they're trying to get my brand new diabetes under control and I'm allergic to one of the meds. Do I *have* to come? Is it this cult or another one?" She took the pad and pen Warrick held out, taking notes. "Give me twenty to change." She hung up and went back to her room, finishing her lunch while she changed. She came out in better jammies, velour ones, but still clearly pajamas. She slid into a t-shirt as she walked, then her sneakers. "Yell at me if they call back, Warrick. That was Henderson in Sex Crimes."
"Sure. What's his issue?"
"Ritual markings on a little dead girl. Not ours, but one he's been working on this one for two years." She slammed the front door after herself. She came back and held out her hand. "Keys?"
"Fat chance you're driving yourself." She grabbed him, pushing him against the wall, immobilized him with a arm to his throat and patted him down with her free hand, finding it. Then she walked out again.
"That's...quite a woman," Ryan admitted.
"Who likes girls," Tony offered. He smirked at him. "She might like boys now and then, I'm not sure. I know her last ex is the reason she gained weight. She got depressed after she threw her out for cheating."
"No, I'm not anyone's rebound guy," he said, going back to his petting and reading. "Here, I've got another mention of them having to be blessed by their God personally. Only mine's more...sexual of a blessing."
"Gotta suck off the statue?" Danny asked, leaning over to look. The cat glared at him. "I won't pet you unless you suck up ta me, cat. Calm down."
"That's Chocolate, her paranoid cat," Warrick offered, coming over to look.
"The problem them becomes the author of the book," Greg offered. "Sometimes the people who write these things demonize them by making them have sexual connotations. So let's try for two out of three since we've got one suggestive and one obliquely stated one." Everyone nodded, getting back to work. A few minutes later he sat straight up. "Listen to this guys, the third triangle's soul must be pure, but be unattached and purified that way. His soul must have already joined with the God and his living body must move on its own and breathe to serve his God." He looked up. "Vampires?"
"You said they deal with them," Ryan reminded him.
"Yeah, they do." He made a note, including the original translation, page number, and source, then kept reading.
Someone knocked so Warrick went to get it. "Hey, Xander." He walked in. "What's up?"
"Throttle sent me to make sure she's still in bed and to talk with Greg."
"Greg's researching right now and she got called out on a long-standing Sex Crimes cult case." Xander grimaced at that. "You know the guy who we got the books from, right?"
"Yeah, I hang with Giles all the time." He came in and groaned. "Oh, crap. Not those books." Everyone looked at him. He waved. "Xander Harris, Sunnydale."
"PD?" Ryan asked.
Xander shook his head. "Our PD is fairly stupid and ineffective. They don't like to come out of the station for anything less than spousal abuse and homicide of the normal kind." Greg looked up at him. "I was told to come talk to you." Greg showed him the note and he nodded slowly. "Makes sense but that means he's got to have help planting the body since it's during the day." He sat down next to him, flipping back a few chapters and pointing at something. "That's what they're talking about," he offered quietly.
"Vampires?" Danny asked.
Xander looked at him. "Yeah, and?"
"I work with someone Goth," Tony offered. "How true are they?"
Xander gave him a horrified look. "Is she inviting them in?"
"No, she's not that version of goth."
"Oh, good," he sighed, relaxing. "Let's leave it as there's places in this world where things can happen that don't in other places. Sunnydale is one of them." A letter plopped in front of him. "Case in point. Pouting female friends." He opened it and read, then groaned. "Guys, I need a clear space about a box sized area plus five feet." They got up and moved. He put the letter there. Then he snatched one of the cats with his tail, holding it out of the way when the box appeared. "Sorry, they found more references." He looked at the cat, then pulled it into his arms to pet and calm it down again. "I know, you're confused by my scent. I'm confused by my scent," he promised, letting her down. She ran under the couch. "I don't blame you. Sorry, kitty." He looked at Warrick. Then at Greg. "Can I borrow you before you hit the sack tonight?"
"Sure," he agreed, smiling at him. "I heard Vinnie had a nephew."
"Yeah, and can we say problems?" He grimaced then at Warrick. "I'll come back later, man."
"Stay and help research, kid," he ordered. "You clearly know the sources better than we do."
"You can say that again," he muttered, sitting down in front of the boxes to search through them. "Ah, he sent some just for me. Unless someone here speaks Garblik?" No one said anything, just stared at him. "Didn't think so." He put that one aside and took out more.
"Huh?" Ryan asked.
Xander looked at him then took off his necklace, making them all flinch.
Tony reached over, petting the soft white fur. "Wow. I thought the other guy had fur but I couldn't be sure with as fast as he moved. I did see the tail." Xander's came up and tapped him on the hand. "Hi to you too, tail." He petted him some more. "You're almost as nice as a cat to pet." Xander grimaced and got free so he grinned. "No offense or anything. I doubt I'd collar you and keep you."
"I'd eat you out of house and home," he assured him, handing Warrick two books. "Here, with your name on them."
"Thanks, why?" he asked, sitting down to look through them. "My grandmother knew them?" He read more carefully. "Uh-huh. She used to work for one of these guys. Interesting." He got into the research. "Someone call for pizza."
Xander looked at the cat coming over to sniff him. "You or me?" It meowed and ran for the food bowl. "Ah, you're the one she named after me." He got up to find her food and order from the spot on the menu that was stuck to the fridge.
Ryan looked at Greg. "You weren't surprised."
"Nope. Throttle, the guy from earlier, found me broken down in the middle of the desert one day. He gave me a long ride back to civilization. He's a buddy of mine." He got back to reading that section, his other hand holding the first one while his writing hand made notes.
"Next you'll tell me you slept with a really hot female of their species," Warrick snorted.
Greg looked at him. "The only female of their gang I've met is Throttle's girl. I'm not that low, Warrick. The same as I don't hit on yours or Nick's girls. Or Archie's girl. Or Bobby's."
"Bobby's got a girl? Since when? I thought he had a nice guy."
"Not like I was going to out him," Greg said patiently. "I'm not that low either."
"We don't care," Danny assured him. "I still think Ellison and Sandburg aren't hiding it very well."
Greg looked over at him. "Blair likes his women and Jim's in denial. I had to give DNA results on a crossover case. That's a whole different type of relationship because Jim's special." He got back to work. "And no, they didn't tell me, I figured it out and researched it."
Tony stretched and pulled his laptop out of his bag, firing it up to do a search on Sandburg. Classified by the CIA, interesting. He sent a message to his boss and got back to work.
"Find anything?" Danny asked. "All I got when I tried was classified by the CIA due to insurgent use."
"I didn't get the insurgent part," Tony offered. "I did get classified by the CIA." They both glared at Greg, who just smiled and kept reading. "It might become important."
"If it does, they've got it and ways to cover it, Tony. They've been working together for a very long time now." He turned the page, frowning and tracking the last words on the page before, then back. "Another mention of them fellatimg the statue yearly in supplication and to renew their faith."
Ryan called Speed. "Hey, we keep finding mentions of them fondling and possibly...tasting the statue sexually to renew their faith and to gain the initial blessings. Did you get anything on that?" He grimaced. "Huh. Why aren't they cooperating?"
"Have Ellison threaten them," Greg said loudly. "With the way he causes property destruction they should be wary of him."
Ryan chuckled. "Get that?" He nodded. "He did, they said he's already done it twice to them."
Greg looked over. "Then threaten to let Sandburg lead tour groups, man. He's the only one who can outbabble me when I'm in the mood."
"Oooh, that's some strong babbling skills," Warrick said with a wince.
"I heard that. Next dumpster is yours according to Nick."
"You're the newbie," he snorted.
Greg smirked. "I already bribed Nick with Dwight Yokum tickets. Tag, you're it."
"Kids," Danny warned. "Man, now I feel like Mac," he complained. He ran a hand through his hair. "At least I don't have a buzz cut."
"Yet," Ryan teased, grinning at him. Then down at the cat in his lap. "Hi, precious." She snuck back in and he went back to petting her. "Sure, I like me some Chocolate lovies." She meowed and he did under her chin. "Good girl."
"Just keep her off the bed, man," Warrick ordered. "She's got a nasty habit of punishing the mommy by using it."
"Sure." He went back to work, petting her while he read. At one point she nipped him so he looked down at her and smiled, going down her back with his short nails. She purred and got comfortable with him.
Catherine got back there just as the pizza did so she paid for it and handed it out, taking three slices for herself. She looked at her cat. "The only other person she lets do that is like my little brother, Ryan. Too bad you're in Miami."
"You could be a Vice cop with us," he offered with a grin.
"My cats would go spastic and I hate the sun. Sun and Vice just don't go together very well. Anything?"
"Third triangle's a vampire," Greg said dryly. "Second is a..." He finished translating it again. "Holy man gone wrong, a true son of the faith who came to ...him because I can't pronounce it either, because he saw the disillusioned beings in the other faiths for the fake idols they were."
She flopped down and nodded. "Okay, so we're looking at someone who had faith and transferred. Anything on the statue?"
"It's in Cascade and Speed's working to see who's been near it," Ryan offered. "We keep running into the 'must go to it to renew and to be blessed' thing."
"Ah, the bj of the gold statue," she sighed, looking over his shoulder. She finished off her first piece and started on the second, hearing the meow. "You jump in my lap while I have food and I will have to complain," she ordered. She moved it and the cat jumped up, sniffing. "No begging," she said, staring at her male cat. "No, Blair. Down." He jumped down and went to sniff at the boxes. "Close those." Warrick did. "Thanks." She went back to reading, finishing that piece and eating her third. "Go back." He flipped back. "Huh. Listen to this, guys. He who has been named and chosen may not give up his duty, unless he has died, at which time he will appoint someone, and the fervor of the prior holder shall transfer to him as like a possession. It shall take over the will and spirit of the new priest and make sure he does what is necessary to do the work of our God-I-can't- pronounce-his-name-either." Greg snickered at that. "I can't. I can't even spell it close to how it should be."
"Can we seriously be thinking possession?" Danny asked.
"No, but it's an interesting note that they think their God can transfer the first one's faith onto the second one and make him possessed. I'd warn whatever lawyer that he might try it too." That got some nods. Ryan's phone rang so she took the book to look through, letting him shift just enough to pull it out and disturb the cat, who huffed at him. "Calm down, Chocolate."
Ryan grinned as he answered, soothing the cat again. "Wolfe." He listened, nodding. "Yeah, it's been kinda specific, Speed. They've got to go back to the statue to touch and fondle it. Could they be sneaking in after hours maybe? Or maybe they just ignore it as yearly pranks from one of the frats?" He shrugged. "How far back did you go?"
She took the phone. "Speed, they've got to do it yearly. No matter what. If that's the real statue, they've been in close proximity and their time of year to renew looks to be around June if I'm reading right. Yeah and they've got to suck the essence of their God down at that time through the statue. Well, you could check the local ERs to see if anyone's come in with gold poisoning or anything like that. Or see if that's a replica and where the original one is." She smirked. "Thanks, man." She handed it back. Then she went back to reading. "Where's the Kovarn?"
"It's the one the kid named Xander said is in Giblik," Tony offered, tossing it over. She caught it and flipped through it. "You know that language?" She nodded. "How?"
"Terrance taught it to us one day when we finished classes early as a neat code. I went through all my notes with him so I saw it recently." She frowned, getting a new notepad and that set of notes to decrypt it.
"If we had McGee, he could put that on computer and do it within minutes of having it all scanned in," Tony sighed, shaking his head.
"Scanners won't catch the faint marks on the margins or the raised braille, Tony."
"There are?" He came over to check. "Are they all like that?"
She looked at him. "Secret organizations often keep their secrets the hardest way possible, with a vow of life," she said quietly. He nodded and went back to check his book.
"Mine's got some," Greg offered, letting her feel it.
She shook her head. "That's noting the page and source." He nodded, taking it back. "Also the category, demonic cults." She went back to hers, frowning. "Guys, eat the pizza before I do." They all got up to get their own pieces, Ryan hanging up after a minute. She took the cat back, looking at her. "Like him, princess?" She handed her back when Ryan sat down again. She snuggled back into the warm spot on his crotch and all was right in her world. "She won't even do that for Stan," she said dryly, shaking her head and going back to her reading. Warrick slid her a piece, earning a smile. "Was I a good enough girl, mommy?"
"No, but you puked lunch for two hours straight. Eat now." She ate it, not complaining really.
"I swear to God if you messed up my scene this time I'm skinning you both alive," he called at the two cowering patrol officers as he walked toward the newest one. "I'm going to have your badges, again!" They whimpered.
Catherine patted him on the arm. "I knew you'd get my management style eventually, Warrick." She glared at them. "Was she apparently alive?"
"We were told to check," one whimpered.
"I don't care!" she shouted. They flinched back and one ran for his car. She pulled her gun and he stopped, slinking back. "Stay there!" He nodded, sitting down, pulling the other guy with him. She called the Duty Officer. "It's Demoranth. The two fucking imbeciles ran into our crime scene again! Come get them before I fucking well shoot them for it!" She growled at the quiet question. "Yes, I'm having a peachy fucking day! It's only nine in the morning and I'm on night shift! Come get them now! This makes three they've rushed into and smudged the symbols. That's making sure it goes on longer!" She hung up and within minutes there were sirens on their way to them. She growled and glared at them, making them shrink back against the side of the car.
"It was more dried this time," Warrick offered. "Not as much damage." He knelt down to take pictures of the smudges, making note on his sheet what it was. The Duty Officer parked and got out. "They did it again."
"You're not even one of us," one of them complained.
"Oh grow the fuck up!" Catherine shouted. They squeaked and moved back. "We can't catch the guy if moron one and two there can't stay off the scenes, Chief. So either make them retrain or take their fucking badges and put them on fucking desks on the days we're due. There's a calendar up!"
"Yes, detective. Aren't you in Vice?" She nodded. "Why did you get the serial case then?"
"I'm also the cult and occult specialist," she noted blandly. "These two keep messing up the scene by running and smudging things."
"They're unholy!" the non-speaking one shouted, standing up. "They should be destroyed. They are unholy and an abomination in the eyes of God."
"And how do you plan on stopping them if we can't figure out who did it!" she shouted back. He shrank back. "The crime scene is how we find out who did it," she said, talking down to him. "Obviously you slept through that week at the Academy. Hell, I had the flu that week and even I know that!" He shrank back farther. "Get him the fuck off my scene, debrief them, and bring me the reports, Chief. Now!" He nodded, taking them to his car and taking them off. She groaned and held her head. "I want to kill. Why is that a bad thing again?"
"Prison food sucks."
"Yeah, but I'd at least get a new girlfriend." He snickered at that, shaking his head. Another car pulled in and she glared at them. "I thought you went home, DiNozzo."
"I did, Gibbs sent me back. He said you've had problems with some rookies?"
"Yeah, they just left. They decided this is an abomination and therefore should be destroyed," Warrick called. "You can come help." He came over. "Anyone else head back?"
"No, but we're all heading down to Miami for the next strategy meeting. It's clear some people could use a vacation." He looked right at her.
She snorted. "I'll go race bikes with Vinnie later. I'll be fine after I vent." She nodded at the body. "Any idea where our body haulers are?"
"Nope," Warrick offered, getting back to work. "Concrete chips." She came over to look. "Old?"
"Looks like something you'd get in an abandoned building." She touched it, concentrating on the feel of it. "It's worn smooth on both sides. It's been out in the open for a while now." She handed it to Tony to bag. "This one should've had to do with water. Any indication of that?"
Warrick took some swabs from the exposed skin. "Not yet." He capped them and moved on. The sprinklers came on and he yelped, getting away from them. "Never mind."
"Water," Tony offered, looking at the scene. "She's on see-through plastic?" Warrick nodded. "What if we move her?"
"Suits me," he agreed, taking a few last pictures, then moving everything away from the sprinklers. "I'm guessing that was his idea of a joke."
"Yup," Tony agreed, grinning at him. "Like a squirting flower."
"He's got preteen boy humor," she complained, getting down with a moan for her knees to help. The boys looked at her. "I'm fine. I creak now and then."
"Old houses do the same but they're still sound," Tony agreed, grinning at her. "So, did you like Ryan?"
"I like Ryan a lot, if only because he kept Chocolate from peeing on the bed again. I'm still more oriented toward girls. It's been ages since I had a man, Tony." Warrick looked at her. "I figured out they didn't have what I wanted, namely putting up with me and my emotions." She shrugged. "I haven't had a guy since my rookie year, early in my rookie year."
"I'd ask if I could jump between you and your next one but you said you can't stand cheaters so I won't," Tony teased. She pinched him, glaring lightly. He grinned. She rolled her eyes and grinned back. "See, calmer now." He called his boss. "We got the water one, boss, and had to move it. He put it next to a sprinkler that drenched us. She's on plastic. We moved it all. No more so than the two patrol guys who smudged it on purpose."
"It was an affront to their faith," Warrick told him.
"Warrick said they decided it was an affront to their faith so therefore they had to destroy it." He smiled. "He thinks Horatio's had a few of those over the years. Yeah, those are my notes, boss. Yup. Speedle is in Cascade and checking on the validity of that statue being the real one. If it's not, I don't know where it could be."
"Tell him to get someone to do an image search for that stupid charm and things," she ordered.
"Good idea. Boss, she said to have someone do an image search online for the charm and/or that statue. Yeah. I know we've seen one in Miami, one in Cascade, and one in New York. Thanks. Yes, boss, the books said it had to be a vampire. Right now, I'm worried more about ours and then moving on, boss." He hung up, shaking his head. "He didn't like that the third guy had to be a vampire either."
"Harris deals with those," she admitted. "They've got a whole team in Sunnydale who can deal with that issue." That got a smirk and a nod. "Which is probably known about in New Orleans."
"Possibly," Tony agreed.
"I can't believe you guys believe in that stuff," Warrick said, looking at them. "You're both mature, well educated people. Why do you believe in vampires?"
"Take you out tonight, Warrick?" she asked with a grin.
"After seeing Vinnie and Throttle, you wonder?" Tony offered.
"No, what I'm wondering about is Greg's inclusion," she said, looking at him.
"Greg's always been a bit odd," Warrick offered. "Loud music, loud clothes."
Tony waved a hand. "Please, Abby's our only tech and she's so Goth it's painful for her to see sunny yellow or pink." Warrick shuddered. "We had one goth intern who bowed down to her as the true queen. I'm surprised at the coincidence that he knew Throttle," he offered. She looked at him. "He said Throttle found him broken down in the desert and took him back to civilization."
"I asked him if he hit on their women too and he said the only one he'd met was Throttle's girl," Warrick offered
"Carbine? She'd break him then play with him. She doesn't play nicely and likes to roughhouse as much as those guys do." They both looked stunned. She grinned. "You'd like Vinnie, he's got this same sense of humor, but he's also a speed and tricks guy who thinks he's a chick magnet. He still hits on me now and then even though he knows I go for girls." She smirked. "Makes my week each and every time he does though. It's nice to be flirted with by someone."
Both men shared a look and got back to work.
"So, Catherine, can I talk you into a long cuddle on the beach while we're in Miami?"
"I doubt we'll be there that long," she complained.
"Oh, yeah, we will," Warrick assured her. "The tacticians want to go over things."
"I'm staying for at least a three day weekend," Tony assured her. "Otherwise I might have to go to Cascade and start praying for that big ball of DNA contributions to come back." She snickered at that, leaning on his arm.
"We've all picked on Sandburg and Speed for wishing for the sun," Warrick promised, patting her on the back. "Okay, still no body haulers and there's no way I'm carting a dead body back to the station."
Catherine called. "Dispatch, this is Demoranth. Did our body haulers get eaten? Oh, he did did he? Thank you. Send some now. Thanks. Yeah, the cult case. No, I'll deal with that." She got up with a small moan and hung up, walking back to the car and climbing in. She dialed a number. "Chief, it's Cat. I'm going to skin your fucking people and use them for dildos. Ask me if I give a shit, boss. First we had the people who decided to destroy the crime scene because it's an affront to their faith, then the duty officer I called to come get those two called off our body haulers and said it was a false call. This means we're out here alone, yeah boss. Yeah, well, you better be thankful I won't be reporting this to Vegas. Boss, listen to the words out of my mouth. Destroying evidence means we can't catch the asshole. I see you have been battled by Bethes. Good!" She hung up and called down there. "Get onto the Chief. He's sticking up for the two patrol guys who trashed the cult crime scene again. Yeah, them. The duty officer canceled it, called it a fake call. Please." She smiled. "Thank you, Bethes. Did he? Good. He dead yet?" She smiled. "Even better! Thanks for the great news." She hung up and got out. "Henderson, the call from last night, cracked it finally. They ran the DNA through the stuff you left them, Warrick, and they found him." Warrick smiled at that. "A two year case."
"Glad to have helped, wish it had been sooner," he offered.
"Him too. He's going to throw a fit with the DA's office about our staffing and machine problems." She smirked. "They're on their way. The Duty Officer stuck up for the rookies." They both groaned. "Exactly."
"I was going to ask, Catherine. Why don't they promote you?" Tony asked.
"I'm female and I stick up and yell when these things happen," she said simply. "Either one would keep me from advancement." She sat down next to him. "Either that or it's because I know what Helena went through and that's an embarrassment to the department. The same as I'm one of the last on the job who had to sue the department over some very bad bosses. Warrick, you totally done?" He nodded, closing his case. "Good. Ah, the sweet sound of sirens." She looked back as the ambulance pulled in at high speed. "You guys get lit again?"
"Yes, Detective. What happened?"
"Two patrols who decided this case was an affront to their god so they destroyed evidence. I had them called for it." They moaned. "Fortunately it's only been a half hour." She got up with some help from Tony. "Thank you. It's apparently a bad knee day." She helped Warrick up. "Take the body so we can get the cloth. They know how to reach us."
"Not on this one. We know when and where she died, mostly," she admitted. Another car pulled up and parked. She turned and waved the boss on. "C'mere, boss." He trudged over. She grabbed him by the neck and drug him over, letting him see the marks. "See, they destroyed evidence. If the killer had dropped something like a hair or something, something we can use to help find him and convict him, we can't find it now thanks to them." He groaned. "Yes, we had to move the body when the sprinklers came on. Do I care though? This is the third one they've done it to. I yelled the first time. Warrick got to yell the second time since I was behind him thanks to a traffic stop. This time, I want their fucking badges and I want them the hell away from this case forever more. The same as I want tickets to Miami because we're going to be getting together to plan for the major point where we might be able to catch the guy. Comprende vous?" He nodded so she let him go.
Tony smiled and held out his hand. "Hi, Special Agent Tony DiNozzo, NCIS. We're in the same triangle and I'm her liaison with the people in DC." The boss blanched pure white. He smiled brighter. "Exactly. We've managed to keep most of the FBI out of this and to keep them from letting this drag on longer. Personally, my boss loves Catherine. She came in, told us what was going on, gave us the information, and let us handle our end while she got the majority of the workload." The Chief swallowed and nodded, glancing at Catherine. "Oh, you didn't look at anything in the briefings?"
"No, not yet. I got confused. This is far beyond catechisms for me."
Tony nodded. "That can be a problem. When we get that, we call Catherine, and I'm assured we'll be doing it from now on." Her boss swallowed again and nodded quickly. "Good man." He grinned at Catherine. "Now, we've got a strategy and information session in Miami coming up this weekend since this is going to be a free weekend. Should she bring you back anything? T-shirt, ship in a bottle, anything?" He shook his head quickly. "Pity, I like those little ships in a bottle."
Warrick coughed. "Also, Chief, some of the stuff I brought over helped her on another case last night. She got told Henderson finally cracked his after two years on DNA evidence."
"I'll congratulate him later," he assured him, smiling happily. "Are we nearly done? This is starting to look really bad on us."
"The new information sources I found had a slight profile, boss. It's a matter of checking everyone in each city against it." He slumped. "Which can be done a lot faster by computers. How long did it take McGee, Tony?"
"Nearly an hour. He was pissed it took so long. No direct matches but six on the suspect list Gibbs drew up are gone. That leaves us four and triangle one has about ten."
"Good," the Chief agreed happily. "So, not too many more?"
"We're looking forward to getting to them all before he's sacrificed as the pivot point, boss." He frowned at her. "Our triangle's killer is the last one to be sacrificed in this triangle. It's the pivot point to move into triangle four. I put that in plain english, boss." He sighed and nodded, heading back to his office. "I hate doing that to him, but there's plenty of times when footwork doesn't work. Even in Vice." Tony nodded at that. "Okay, Warrick, want us to accompany?"
"Nope." He bagged the plastic and sealed it, then got in with the body. "Go collate the newest stuff, Catherine," he called as the doors were shut.
"I'll follow you back so I can play with your cats," Tony offered with a grin.
"You know I'm fine, right?"
"Yeah. The same as I know if you get into following one of them, it'll be just you. Warrick will be behind you but he's a CSI, not a cop anymore. He'll hesitate to shoot." She nodded, accepting that. "The boss thinks it'll matter."
"It could," she admitted. "Okay, come on back, but don't nag about the chocolate I'll be eating. I'm feeling faint and hungry." He handed over a candy bar with a smirk. "Stopped there first?"
"Yup, and I already figured out where he hid the rest." She snorted, getting into her car so she could go collate information.
Speed came off the plane in Miami and sighed in relief. "Warmth! Sun!" Blair patted him on the back. "I missed this."
"Not too much longer and you'll be back complaining about the humidity," he promised.
"Horatio said you could stay." He grinned at him. "It'd do you good to get away from Ellison."
"If I did, he could shut down, Speed."
"Yeah, been meaning to talk to you about that," he admitted, walking off with him to the baggage claim. "I got into some of your past work in some journals. He's one, right?" Sandburg gave him a sideways look. "The Burton stuff, Blair. I'm not that dumb." He got a nod. "Okay. That explains a lot, which makes you his helper person." That got another nod and a grimace. "So you get to be a nag for life?"
"Yup. One of these decades I'll get to look back and ask myself what happened to my career."
"Take off on him, Blair. He's got to learn better."
"I do that he can shut down totally."
"Hell. So you can't get that far away?"
"Not without him consenting," he said bitterly. "Otherwise yeah, I'd be staying. I could've already presented my thesis and two others at the very least." He pulled his hair back into a ponytail. "I'm going to be the world's oldest grad student."
"Present something, Blair. Then get ready to hear the fit. He's resistant to change."
"No, ya think?" he snorted.
Speed nudged him. "When was the last time you dated?"
"Been a long, long time. The last time I truly dated, I screwed it up for a case with him. She was perfect, man, and I screwed it for Jim."
"Yeah, time to move onto your own life again. As I read it, I noticed something. You're not his slave, Sandburg. You're his Guide. Big difference. A guide is a teacher, not a pet." They walked into baggage claim and found Horatio and Eric there. "You got through security for us?"
"We were avoiding any possible chance of him being kidnaped again," Eric assured him.
Speed snorted. "It's only happened twice since I was up there, guys."
Blair looked at him. "Three times but I bit one of them and they ran away screaming and crying. One of my students." Speed shook his head, hanging it slightly. "Sorry." He grinned at Horatio. "Are we meeting tonight or can I spend some time soaking up heat from the sand so I can store it for later?"
Horatio smirked. "You can soak up the sun for now, Blair. We're meeting tomorrow. Gibbs' team is in with Catherine but Tony drug her out to the beach once he made her shave too."
Blair grinned. "She hasn't had much of a reason to." He grabbed his bag then tossed Speed his, getting a nod. "Okay, let's go to the hotel. Are we somewhere nice?"
"You are," he promised, leading the way out.
"Did you miss the big ball of glowing DNA?" Eric teased.
Speed pulled him closer and gave him a noogie. "Shut up, Eric. That's already old." He let him go. "Come on. I could use some heat myself. I'm still sniffling."
"I wonder who's watching Catherine's cats," Blair said as he walked.
"She said someone named Vinnie was coming in to feed them. Him and some guy named Xander." He shrugged. "Not a clue. Last time I talked to her she was threatening them if something happened to her babies." He smirked at Eric. "Then again I hear one of them loved Wolfe."
"Oh, yeah," he agreed dryly. "She told him the only one who that cat liked beside her was the guy who might as well be her brother. The little princess laid there all night."
"Chocolate did?" Blair asked. Eric looked over and nodded. "Wow. She ran from me, even when I had food for her."
"She runs from everyone according to Catherine," Horatio assured him, smirking at him. They walked outside and both Speed and Blair tipped their heads up and sighed in pleasure. "To the hummer, boys."
"I'll bend my eco rules this once," Blair agreed, walking with his head still tipped up and smiling brightly. "I'm too close to getting off to care if I have to live in a gas mask for the rest of my life."
Speed nudged him. "Behave."
"I try sometimes." He grinned at him.
"Try harder, mom."
"Gee, thanks, kid. Have you eaten yet today? I'm sure I can make Horatio stop somewhere to get you food."
"I gained three pounds, quit!" He gave him another shove.
"Good, then Alexx can quit nagging me," Eric said, grinning at them. "She's scary."
"Yes, she is. I want to be far, far away when Blair and she meet. How's my place?"
"Doing good. I water your plants when I remember."
"Yeah, me too." He shrugged and they headed there. "Am I going home, H?" He nodded. "Thanks. I could change out some of my clothes."
"Drop things and go to the beach with Blair, Speed. You need to soak up heat too, before she hears you have the sniffles."
"Not my fault, man, it's rained for the last three weeks straight!"
"Now you know why I keep a true Pagan altar to the Gods of the Sun, man," Sandburg noted. "The same as I pray at it every day." Speed nodded, he had a miniature one in his hotel room. "Did you remember to tell her you wouldn't be back for a few days?"
"I did. She said that was fine. They'd go in and air it out, change the sheets and that stuff." He settled in with a sigh in the front seat. "Comfy seats. I'm driving a compact sedan."
"So I take it you won't be staying?" Eric teased as he got in next to Blair, who buckled up and settled in, falling asleep pretty quickly.
Speed looked back as they backed out. "Nope. I'm trying to recruit him to come down here to finish his education and work. He's been in Cascade since he started school, with the exception of going on digs and expeditions. At least until he met Ellison."
"Are they okay?" Horatio asked quietly, heading out of the parking garage now that the car behind him had moved so he could finish turning around. "Ellison called to warn me to take care of Blair for him. Or else."
"It's an odd thing, H, and I've got it." That got a nod. "He'll be fine. Some time off will do him good."
"Good." He headed for Speed's house, and the hotel just up the street from it. "Everyone else is staying up at the Regent," he offered. "Catherine and NCIS are already. Mac and his team are coming in early tomorrow, we'll sit down to brainstorm starting at lunch. With any luck we've got the lists narrowed down a lot more than we had last week."
"I've got ours narrowed down to four names, H." Horatio smiled at him. "Unless they broke the rules."
"Still, it's good to have so few. What about the Sunnydale thing?"
"She's briefed some people in Sunnydale who can handle that stuff and they're hunting him. They'll get him right after we do probably since we've got a member of their team with us for the moment. Since we've got all the research materials and he's guarding them for the owner."
"Interesting. I want a full briefing, Speed. Everything."
"Dinner? I'll cook," Horatio offered.
"Sure, I can do that. Can I bring the beer?"
"Works for me," he agreed, smirking at him. He pulled up in front of his house and held out his keys. Speed grinned and snatched them, then jogged up to his house. He was home! At least for a weekend. Horatio drove on, taking Blair to his hotel. "Eric?" He nudged Blair, waking him up. "We're nearly there, Blair. Speed's place is just up the street. Catherine and the team from NCIS is already in. The Vegas crew is getting in tonight. New York tomorrow morning. Sleep on the beach for a while."
"Remember to apply sunscreen," Eric teased.
"Not a problem. That's one thing a hairy chest is good for."
"Down here the girls like shaven guys." He shrugged. "It's a local thing."
"I'll think about it." He slid out and waved, taking his bag inside. "Hi, reservation under Sandburg?" They pulled it up and smiled at him, getting him in within moments and handing him a key. "Nearest beach?" They pointed. "Thanks." He headed up to his room and went to shave. He could use some female adoration.
Catherine looked up as someone laid down beside her and grinned. "Hey, Blair."
"Hey, Cat. Tanning?"
"Finally!" He grinned and laid down on his front. "Anything good?"
"We're down to three on our list."
"I'm down to two and I'm about to go all me on them." He laughed at that. "I am." She shifted some. "This is nice. I needed this."
"You and me both. God I miss the sun."
"How do you know the eagle can fly if you don't push him out of the nest, Blair?"
He looked at her. "You sound suspiciously like a wolf I see now and then." She just smirked. "You're human right?" She handed him the bottle of sunscreen and she was definitely warm and human flesh. "Thanks. It could shut him down."
She looked at him. "Call him tonight, tell him I set you up with the local department to talk about teaching down here after you've done your presentation. Which, by the way, do soon. I'm tired of watching you mope over your career, Blair." He nodded at that. "Good boy. You do that and present something. Anything."
"I've got three topics I can type up this weekend," he admitted. "If I'm not interrupted I can have it fully finished within the month."
"See, you have a plan. Present it. Start looking at the opportunities going this summer."
"Anymore I'm not even asked," he complained.
"Yeah, and point that out. Heavily. Guilt the asshole, Blair. Your life isn't on hold for his nor are you wearing a jeweled collar or cock ring. He's worse than some abusive spouses I've seen." She relaxed again. "End of the lecture. The sun feels too nice to go on."
He chuckled weakly and nodded. "I know. I'm thinking. Speed wants me to move down here. I have had an offer from New York."
"Did we find the real statue?"
"Yeah, it's in your city."
"Fuck me. Did I check the reports already?"
"Warrick did. He said you were napping. Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. He's treating me like I'm a baby. Nice in some ways but I'm still a fully functioning cop, even with the new diabetes they tell me I have."
"That's gotta be interesting. The last time I saw you at work, you lived on Ben and Jerry's." She nodded, smirking slightly. "Catching up to you?"
"My weight. With the wonderful addition of me being allergic to one of the pills."
"Eww. You good?"
"I'm fine. I'll be chasing someone down soon." She glanced around. "You're facing behind us. Who's spying?"
"Gibbs and DiNozzo."
"Hi, guys," she called, waving a hand. "We take worshipers."
Ryan sat beside her. "I would but you like girls."
She smiled at him, then patted him on the head. "I used to like guys, but they refused to listen to me complain about bad days."
"No, I've had those, but I'd have to clean on you, Catherine."
"Hey, clean all you want. Kitty fur is ubiquitous. You'll be cleaning forever." She grinned at him. "But I would expect oral sex at least nightly."
"I could live with that, but you'd have to move. I like Miami, hurricanes and all."
"Right about now, I'm ready to punt Chicago. Ask me in two weeks, dear." He grinned and nodded. "You can help me sedate the kitties too." He nodded stronger at that, making her giggle. "She does miss you."
"I miss her. She fit very nicely in my lap." He looked up as Tony joined them. "No boss?"
"He went for coffee." He sat down on Blair's other side. "We're worried. He's got to be in town and the boss thinks that he's going to try to steal someone."
"Is this like Clue?" she asked. He nodded. She sighed. "If anyone he'd be taking one of the few females, Tony. It's our turn this time. The next body might be Blair's since it yearns for the sun. This time it's our turn. If it does happen, then I'll do what I can to help. My people have ways."
"That stuff works?" Blair asked. She stared at him. "Sure. Can you find the killer?"
"I need something of his, Blair. I also need to know him. I can call in a major favor to get someone down here to track any of us who're missing. If it becomes me, well.... Call Helena and have her call one of my contacts. She'll know who to call who'd know me." He nodded at that. "Personally, I'd take Abby. She's the one not carrying the gun."
"Which is why she's got a bodyguard in Delko," Tony assured him. "Danny when he comes in."
"Good." She closed her eyes again. "I'm still baking."
"Good. You could use some more sunscreen," Tony offered. He tossed Wolfe the bottle. "You're closer."
"Thanks." He got her oiled up again, only getting a few moans. "Hey, Blair, Speed said you're thinking about coming down here. I know someone in the local Anthro department if you want introduced."
"I might. I'm still thinking." He grinned at him. "It's all right, guys. Really. I'll be fine." Speed flopped down at his feet and gave him a nudge, pointing at the bikinis up the beach. "Oooh, nice," he moaned.
She looked and shook her head. "Too skinny. Give me a real, healthy woman any day." Ryan nodded at that. She grinned at him. "Does that mean we should put one between us?"
"You are, Catherine. Your sugar going off isn't going to change that." He grinned. "Besides, down here you'd sweat most of it off and your diet would be easier and filled with more fruit naturally." He finished up on her ankle and tossed the bottle at Speed. "You're pale."
"Thanks, Wolfe." He got to work on his own chest, arms, and legs. Tony got his back for him. "Thanks to you too, Tony."
"Not an issue." Gibbs came back and he grinned at him. "Bikini watching, boss."
"I can see that." He sat down beside Wolfe and sighed in pleasure. "It's been too long since I got to enjoy the sun."
"Yeah, it has," he agreed. Of course, his pager went off. "That had better be my mother," he warned, pulling it out. He pulled out his phone. "Yeah, Alexx?" He grinned and nodded. "No, we're on the beach by Speed's house with Catherine and Blair, plus Tony and Gibbs. Thanks." He hung up. "She's at your place with cookies, Speed." He groaned and shook his head. "The new weight does you good, man." He grinned at him.
"It's three whole pounds."
"I'm an excellent cook and I made him eat," Blair said sleepily. By the time Alexx got there he was snoring.
"Awww, that poor baby," she said, kissing Speed on the cheek. "You gained weight, I'm so proud!" she praised. He pointed at Blair.
Catherine looked from Alexx to Speed and back. "Really young accident?" she teased.
"Oh, you know it. You got any?"
"Five cats. It's enough."
Alexx laughed. "If you say so, sweetie. You are?"
"Catherine Demoranth." She shook her hand limply. "Basking. Move slightly? You're in my sun." She moved and Catherine smiled, drifting off.
Ryan looked at Tony. "How many cases is she working?"
"Four, five, something like that. She's still on call for consults from Homicide and Sex Crimes, plus the struggling people in Vice. Last night she snuck out to some leather club to bust someone in there. Vinnie and Throttle drug her back home."
"Wonderful." Alexx sat down, smiling at him. "Which one are you again?"
"Tony, Gibbs' second at NCIS." He shook her hand. "You must be Alexx. I've heard good things about you from Ducky."
"He is a sweet old coot." She smiled at Gibbs. "I guess that would make you Gibbs?"
"Yes, ma'am. Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Boss to that insanity and the other insane ones." He grinned at her laugh. "You think I'm kidding? Abby's walking around somewhere with a black umbrella."
"She went for tea, boss." Tony looked at the sleeping people, then at Speed. "Why is it that they do so much more than us?"
"Because they've let others know they can do things like that." He gave him a wise look. "Sandburg is yelled for throughout the building for consultation about the college, the college's clubs, how to break someone in interrogation. All that, plus Ellison's cases, plus a full course load, plus his thesis. Plus babying Ellison."
"You know, he's probably listening somehow," Blair complained, looking down at him. He looked around. "Yup, thought so. Up by the hotel. Come on down, Jim, before I start he flashing lights." He looked at Alexx. "Did you teach him to shut me up when I'm lecturing by putting a spoon in my mouth?"
"No, sugar, I didn't. I'll spank him for that."
"Alexx, it's been like a year's worth of college in the last few months. He explains *everything* to me."
"We should get him and Ducky together, boss."
"Last time they were, they got lost for two days talking about some obscure tribe Ducky treated as a doctor and Blair studied with while he was ten," Gibbs offered. He shrugged at the amused looks. "It took us two days to find them in the same spot we had left them in. We're not sure if they ever left that booth since they were in the same clothes and needed a bath."
"Picking on Ducky means his harem comes after you," Blair assured him. He grinned at Alexx again. "I made him gain weight but the constant rain we've had is giving him sniffles. He should clear up before we've got to go back, and hopefully we'll get to import some sunshine with us."
"I'd hope so," she agreed, smoothing through Speed's hair. "You got it trimmed too short, baby."
"I know, mom. Quit." He shook her off. "How do you expect me to pick up women when you're playing with my hair? Play with Tony's hair. He could use it."
"I'd rather not be hit on by the married women, I might forget and be blinded by her brilliant mind and humble beauty." She chuckled and hugged him. "Thanks, Alexx."
"DiNozzo, can you *not* pick up women now and then?" Gibbs complained.
"No, boss, they're drawn to me like magnets."
"Don't say that around Calleigh. She'll try to knee you," Ryan offered.
"I've seen her. I'd never get anything done for the first month since I'd be blinded by her."
Speed looked at him. "I'm telling her you said that." He looked at Catherine, then at Alexx. "How's her diet, Tony?"
"She's fine, Speed. Leave it alone. She's adjusting already."
"Newly diabetic," Blair offered, taking one of the cookies from the tin in her lap. He moaned at the taste. "You do this so much better than I do." He turned and looked then pulled something out of his hair and stuck it in the sand, activating it. Up the beach, a few dogs started to howl. Jim came jogging down and turned it off, wincing in pain. "I told you to get down here, Jim. Quit being an asshole." He looked at Alexx. "Sorry."
"Not a problem, baby. Eric said you've been mothering my poor Speedy for me." He nodded. "Has he been good?"
"Very good and I kept all the sleazy women off him. He's only met the nicer women." She smiled at that. "Been on a few dates."
"I have, and they were smart and nice," Speed agreed. Apparently Blair was going to cover up the few women he'd brought home, which was what friends were for. Jim gave him a look. "Jim Ellison, this is Alexx Woods, our ME and my adoptive mother. This is Ryan Wolfe, the other member of our team." Ryan waved. "I'm sure you've met Gibbs and DiNozzo recently?"
"I've talked to them," he admitted, shaking hands all around. "Quit trying to take Blair, all right?"
"Then let him have his own life," Tony said simply, staring at him over the top of his sunglasses.
"DiNozzo, we don't get into the middle of domestic issues," Gibbs said quietly.
"We're not together that way," Jim assured him.
"No, Blair's his faithful puppy," Speed told him. He stared Jim down. "Remember, some of us are the sort to protect people if they need it. That means we'll be fussing over Catherine's diet and we'll be fussing over Blair too."
"Fine." He sat down. "He can't go that far."
"He could but you'd have to go with him," Speed corrected. He nodded at that, looking at the sand. "So, time to make some decisions, Ellison. Remember, he's got a career too."
"Yeah, I know. It's not fair to him to keep him chained to my side." Blair looked at him. "I got the second leash comment, Chief." He looked at Alexx. "Can I have a cookie? Blair's a holy terror about my cholesterol." She smiled and held them out, letting him have one. "Thank you, Alexx."
"You're welcome, but someone will be explaining this to me." She looked over Catherine. "She looks tired."
"She is," Tony agreed. "Case last night. Case the night before. Consult the night before that." Alexx stared at him. He nodded. "They abuse her horribly. Oh, boss, forgot to tell you, I warned her boss off her six again. She had to yell at some patrol idiots who intentionally kept damaging the scenes." Gibbs moaned. "He backed the patrol guys."
"She's got enough time in to retire and move departments. She's still pretty young," Jim admitted. "She could move somewhere like here and be wonderful in the department. Even in Vice since I heard down here works in teams and trios. Unlike her home department that hasn't had partners in years." Gibbs glared at him. "Truth. She hasn't had one in years due to the budget."
"Fuck," he muttered under his breath. Horatio came down to join them. "They let you get free?"
"My boss demanded I come recruit." He grinned. "Anyone want to come work here?"
"I'm thinking about it if Blair is," Jim offered quietly, looking at him.
"I realize why that is, Jim, and you'd be under us. You'd be with Frank and Yelina." That got a faint smile and a nod. "Is she actually sleeping?" Gibbs poked her and she grunted, shifting onto her side and curling up. "I guess she is tired."
"She is," Tony agreed. "I can't keep up with her."
"I can't keep up with her and I ran Speed and Ellison into the ground last week," Blair admitted.
"Unfortunately, crime doesn't stop for any of us," Horatio placated. "Their Vice department is horribly understaffed and they're missing her greatly. That's why they've been having her come back to help between drops."
"Which is why she's tired and sore," Gibbs agreed. "She could use some time off."
"Her boss said she can't," Horatio admitted. "I talked to him about the cases up there."
"He's got not a clue; Warrick and I had to point out that he had all the information already and he hadn't looked at it." Horatio moaned. "Plus, he took up for two patrol guys who were ruining scenes because it was an affront to their God. I'm sorry, Horatio, but Warrick had to import DNA scanners. It solved a two-year-old cult out of Sex Crimes that was hurting little kids. They're not using her correctly."
"To them she's like a water buffalo. She'll keep going until the day she dies, either from gunshot wound or not," Blair agreed bitterly. "They do the same thing to Jim."
"Simon tries to soften it and I do get to have those weekends off, Chief," he noted patiently.
"Jim, everyone but you gets standard weekends off. They switch off which weekends they get. You're the only guy there who has to *ask*. The same as she doesn't get time off, ever. Her or Helena."
"I wouldn't mind having Helena down here," Horatio offered, "but she'd have to leave her boyfriend at home. I don't think I could put up with him in town."
Catherine gasped and sat up, holding her head. Ryan took her hand to hold, speaking quietly in her ear. She nodded and relaxed again. "Sorry, flashback."
"Not a problem. I have them too," Gibbs promised, patting her on the shoulder. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Are they supposed to come more often when your blood sugar is swinging?" He shrugged. "I need to find that out. I haven't had that one in years."
"Catherine, my boss said I was to come be pushy and offer you a position down here," Horatio offered with a slight smile. "All the sun and humidity you could want. All the time to ride your bike that you want. Homicide or Vice." She blinked at him. "Really." She sniffled and hugged him, nodding. "Shh, we'll work out the details." He patted her on the back. "Go back to sleep, but flip over before you burn." She nodded and did that, letting Ryan oil her back. He smiled at his guy.
"Don't even think about joining the group, DiNozzo," Gibbs warned.
He grinned. "Would I do that, boss? Get someone's hopes up?"
"Yes," he said. "You're a merciless tease."
"Well, yeah, but not at work, boss. I try very hard not to tease at work." He grinned at Alexx. "See what I have to put up with to watch his six?"
"And a fine six it is," she agreed, making him blush and shake his head.
"You don't think so?"
"Boss, pretty sure I've proven over the years that I like my women," he squeaked.
Horatio chuckled. "Nice one, Jethro."
"Thanks, Horatio." He smirked at his underling. "Go find a bikini to torment, DiNozzo."
"Fine." He got up and hauled Speed with him. Speed did get a cookie before they went hunting together.
Alexx sighed. "It's good to see him that playful. He needed it."
"We all needed it," Horatio assured her. "Some more than others. Mac's team is very tense."
"Does that mean we're expanding, boss?" Ryan asked. "We could use some more techs too."
Horatio chuckled. "You're very greedy today, Mr. Wolfe."
"Well, yeah," he admitted. "Then I won't be the new guy on the team anymore. Just not Monroe, okay?"
"Please. I'd stay in Cascade if you hired her," Jim offered.
"No, I'd never do that to Mac," Horatio promised with a smile for them. He stood up. "I'm going back to the hotel. Anyone want to come with me?" He helped Alexx up and took her arm, Jethro following.
Blair moved his towel further away to give each pair of people some privacy so he could talk with Jim in private.
Danny came off the plane and sighed in pleasure. "Warmth!" He headed for the sign saying 'baggage claim'.
"It's not like it's winter, Messer," Flack said from behind him. "Slow down."
"You'd yell if I bit you and then I'd get in trouble from Mac."
"Children," Stella said fondly. "Quit!"
"Yes, mom," they complained, then Flack grinned at her. She swatted him. "You're going to be on the beach with us, right, Stella?"
"If we get any beach time," she agreed.
"We worked it into the schedule," Mac promised from behind them, rolling his eyes. Sheldon and Lindsey had offered and fought to stay home from this since they weren't really involved in this case. Apparently she hated to lay on the beach and he had an open case he wanted to finish immediately. He applauded that mentality but sometimes you had to have two days off in a row. He followed them into the baggage claim, finding Speed sitting there with the paper. "You just got back and you're already here?" he teased.
Speed looked at him. "Horatio got sucked into a meeting with his boss over a few of the others wanting to leave their versions of hell." He shrugged. "Eric's picking up someone outside." He pointed at the belt. "That one's yours." He went back to his newspaper.
Danny sat down next to him, hugging him. "Hi, Speed. How's Cascade?"
"Dreary again." He showed him the weather report, getting a grimace. "Three weeks of rain. I know why people keep shrines to the sun up there now. I've still got the sniffles." He turned the page and went back to scanning for something to read. "I'm taking you guys to the hotel so you can have breakfast. We're starting at lunch, which means one around here. Promptly."
"Sure," Danny agreed, going to get his bag. "I ate on the plane."
"Yeah, and I had to make you share," Flack complained.
"You could've stopped to get real food," he complained back.
"Boys, it's undignified to start this conference off with childish bickering. Just kiss and grope to make it better," Speed said, lowering his paper to look at them. "Really. We don't care. We're the second highest gay boy capitol of the world." Danny blushed at that and Don gaped. "Then I suggest you quit unless you want me to sic Sandburg on you two. I'm sure he's got a great lecture somewhere on gay culture." He went back to his reading, accepting Stella's kiss on the cheek. "Thanks, Stella. How's New York?"
"Tense. We had an officer shot in our precinct recently. It became our secondary case."
"I understand that. I've been helping pick the new lab head for Cascade since their two heads were suspended pending the outcome of the indictments against them." He stood up and folded up his paper, looking at them. "Did it eat the rest of your stuff?" Mac pointed at the cart. "Good, then let's pick up Eric and go."
Danny found Eric chatting with the woman and slid up to him. "Eric," he cooed.
"Don't even try it, Messer." He gave his head a shove. "Sorry, counterpart from New York. They're in for an information switch. Gotta go," he said with a wink. "Tonight?"
"If you're sure you're free."
He nodded. "Oh, I will be."
"Delko, quit picking up women," Speed ordered. "Especially wearing your badge, man!" He walked off shaking his head. "I'm telling Horatio."
"You do that, he'll ask why you're not."
"I did pick up a few very nice women in Cascade, thank you. They're smart, funny, and charming. One's even offered to relocate." He smirked at his best friend. "Top that."
"I got offered a proposal this morning." He grinned.
"How drunk was she?"
"Very. Alexx was complaining about lack of grandkids, decided she might have to have another one soon." Speed moaned, shaking his head. "She offered to give my mother someone to coo over instead of me, I thought it was really sweet."
"Eric, remember, vodka and Alexx, bad combination." He got them into the hummers and slid in to drive. "Who's riding with me?"
"Oooh, I am," Flack said. He slid into the front seat. Danny pouted but got into the back.
"Oh, no, you two will play the whole way in and annoy him. He'll drop you into the ocean," Stella said, hauling him out. He got handed to Eric. "Keep him. Please." She got into the back.
Eric looked at him. "You get shotgun then." Danny grinned and got in, letting Mac get the back seat of that one. "Welcome to our rolling labs, boys." He started the engine and backed out, heading for the exit. "That just leaves the Vegas crew. They caught a multiple and were made to handle it. We know Warrick and Greg are coming down. We're not sure about Nick yet."
"That sucks," Danny agreed. "Nick okay?"
"Yeah, he's okay. Tired but okay from what Greg said last night. The boss over Grissom is an asshole but he's okay."
"Language," Mac said patiently. "Ecklie isn't that bad."
"Ecklie's the one who makes Nick work full shifts the night before they get the body dump. They're all night shift."
Mac hissed. "Okay, that I can agree with him being an asshole." Eric nodded. He looked in the back. "You've got sampling equipment?"
"Some, but we've also got computer gear and fingerprint-sending capable systems. Plus we've got a way to download video and picture from here to the office."
"Bet the paperwork to replace one is more than ours is to replace our SUVs," Danny teased.
"You have no idea," Eric moaned. "Wolfe got hit broadside by an officer in a chase, an unannounced traffic chase. Wolfe had pulled over and he missed the corner, slamming into him. Wolfe didn't make it out of the office for two days." Danny moaned at that. "It wasn't even his fault but IAB came down to see too. It's insane if you even scratch one. We've all bought touch up pens for things like parking lot dings."
Danny snickered. "I guess it could be worse. You could be sneaking around at night to pull out the smaller dents."
"No, nothing dents this thing short of a real crash. That's why we drive the hummers, that and the times we have to go into the Everglades." He pulled into the hotel's parking lot. "Here we are. There's a nice place inside so you can make up for what Don stole, Danny. We'll be in the meeting room at one. If Horatio gets out early he might join you guys earlier, but he's still probably at the stupid meeting." He shrugged.
"Why?" Mac asked.
"Warrick and DiNozzo had to stick up for Catherine, again. She's also working multiple cases in addition to this one. Plus she's just found out she's diabetic. By the way she's touchy if you try to help her with her diet. She snapped at Blair last night and made him pout. Speed took the direct route and smacked her upside the head, told her to quit. She's got some medicine allergies and things so she's had a crappy month."
"Understood," Danny agreed. "Subtle encouragement?"
"Nope. She was eating eggs and ham for breakfast. She's doing okay, it's just that she slips now and then. She'll figure it out when it starts to make her feel bad." They nodded and got out, and he parked the hummer once they had their bags, heading down to browse the beach. He saw Catherine down there with her 'I read therefore I am smart' t-shirt on and the shallow people giving her odd looks while they stayed far away from her. "Do they think literacy is a communicable disease?" he teased.
"Apparently." She closed her book and looked up at him. "What?"
"The guys from New York are in."
"Good. Did someone warn them not to take the muffins from my hand?"
"I warned Danny and Mac you were touchy about that. You're doing okay and you'll figure what's making you feel bad and how to balance it out." He sat beside her, looking at her. "I'd be testy too. All of a sudden you're sick, people are pushy, and then you have to go off on them when they take your food. We do it to Marisol now and then and she smacks the hell out of us for it." She smiled at that. "You okay?"
"I'm good. Kinda wobbly. I was going to go up for early for lunch. Join me? Since I know you won't steal my food."
He grinned. "Sure." He stood up and helped her up, letting her gather her things. "You didn't burn yesterday. Most people do their first day out here."
"I'm good at tanning. It's nice that you guys have sun." She smiled at Horatio when he joined them at the edge of the beach. "Looking for me?"
"Of course." He pulled her away, speaking quietly. She squealed and hugged him, making him smile and pat her on the back. "Once this is done. Give us a week's warning, Catherine, all right?"
"Sure. It's going to take me longer than that to pack everything and haul the cats down here. Especially since most of the guys I know ride bikes." He smiled and led her back to Eric. "We're heading to an early lunch. Join us?"
"No, I'm eating with Marisol," he admitted with a smile. "I'll make sure she's not jealous." He winked and walked off, going to gather Eric's sister.
Eric grinned at her. "It's odd, he's dating my sister, but it's making them happy and him blush now and then. I'm good with that alone." He walked her back to the hotel, running into Danny. "Sunscreen, Danny, and remember to come back at one."
"I know. I've got a watch alarm," he agreed, heading for the beach.
They passed Don, who was heading the same way. "Danny's down there," Eric called.
"That's fine, the beach is big enough for both of us to watch the pretty girls walk."
He let her go up to her room to put things up then led her into lunch, finding Ryan in there. "Wolfe. Nothing going on at the office?"
"Nope. The other newbie has it today and Speed's on call today to mentor him. Thankfully. He's sucking all my energy out." He smiled at her and got up to help her into her seat, pushing it in slightly. "What did you feel like?"
"Something with chicken and bacon that doesn't come with a salad."
"Doable. They make a great chicken club," Ryan offered, handing her a menu with a grin. He grinned at Eric. "I saw Horatio and Marisol. They looked happy."
"They are. That's the only reason I'm not butting in," he admitted dryly, taking his own menu. Stella walked in and he stood up, Ryan right behind him. She smiled and joined them, sitting between the guys. "Stella, not heading for the beach?"
"I missed breakfast. I got up late."
Catherine looked at her, then at Ryan. "Someone took my muffins from me."
"Sorry." He grinned cutely. "I'll be a better boy."
"You do that, precious." She patted him on the cheek, then nodded. "I like your idea and it comes with baked fries."
Stella stole Eric's menu, looking it over. "Ooooh, real food. I haven't had real food in a few days. We've been living on takeout while we weed down our suspect list."
Catherine looked around, frowning. "Someone is watching us." She nodded at Jim when she spotted him, noticing he was scanning too. "Crap." She frowned, going on. She and Jim were both looking the wrong direction for the gunshot however. She ducked, and pulled, heading toward them. She saw the person running. "Police, freeze!" she yelled, heading after her. "Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck me!" she chanted as she ran. Jim was right behind her. Tony had joined them sometime, taking point. They ran out into the parking lot, firing on the car she was speeding away in. Tony hit a tire, impressing the hell out of her, and Ellison hit the other one. "Okay, I need range time. You two are much better than me," she admitted as they headed after her. "You know, we could probably use the local PD," she joked as they came up to where she was resting against the airbag.
"Damn you're fast," Eric complained from behind them. "She alive?"
Jim looked and nodded. "Breathing, unconscious. Tony, cuffs?"
"I was headed out to bikini watch."
"Here," Ryan offered, handing his over.
"We really should do this part, guys," Eric offered, coming over to cuff her and assess her. "She's going to need the paramedics. She hit it pretty hard. Her nose is dripping." Ryan called it in. He looked at them. "Did you teleport, Tony?"
"Not quite. I was coming down the stairs when I heard someone shout 'police, freeze'." Eric pointed at Catherine. He looked at her. "Did *you* teleport?"
"She shot at us!" she defended. "Is Stella okay?"
"She's fine, she's saving us a table," Ryan admitted, waving the paramedics over. "She's a suspect. She shot at us. I consider her very rude." He got out of the way, letting them have her. He looked at everyone, staring at Eric, who shrugged and headed with her. "Thanks."
"Yeah, you owe me," he called back, climbing into the back of the ambulance with her. "Secure the scene."
"Yes, mother." He looked around, then handed her his keys. "I'm driving the Corolla over there. Can you please get my kit, Cat?"
"Sure." She walked off, ignoring the use of the pet name for now. She found it in the trunk and brought it back, handing it to him with a grin. Then she handed back his keys. "Even restarted the alarm."
"Thank you." He kissed her on the cheek. "Tony, take her back inside. If we need a statement we can get it in there so she can eat."
"I'm fine, Ryan. You fuss horribly." He gave her a look that made her feel funny and she relented, letting Tony drag her off. "Should I order for you?"
"Get me whatever you're having if it's that club. Chips instead of fries. I'll order a water when I get back."
"Sure." She smiled at Tony. "Hi again."
"Hi." He put an arm around her shoulders, running into Gibbs and hotel security. "Ryan's got the car. Eric's got the suspect who shot at her and Stella."
"We were with Eric and Ryan," she offered. "It could've been one of Delko's many women I keep hearing about."
"Guys like him don't make them psycho. They keep themselves ready for his pleasure." He walked her inside. "We're going to lunch." He walked her back to the restaurant and over to where Stella was sitting with another woman. "Hi, Tony DiNozzo, NCIS. You?" he asked, smiling and shaking her hand.
"Marisol Delko. Big sister to the brat."
He chuckled. "He went with the suspect." He sat Catherine down then sat between her and Stella. "Well, this is a lunch I can starve during. Three pretty women."
"I'm taken," Marisol said quietly.
He shrugged. "You're still beautiful enough to stare at, Marisol. Horatio won't mind if I stare, only if I touch." She blushed and looked away, smiling.
"Tony, food. Please, before you make my sugar go up," Catherine complained. He just grinned and got them a waiter. "Hi. I'm ordering for two. The other will be here soon. He wants the chicken bacon club with chips to be waiting on him. I want the same thing only with the baked fries and a coke, no ice." He nodded, writing that down. She saw Tony's look. "You, quit, now."
"Not saying a word. You'll find your spot of balance," he assured her. "But the first time I have to inject your insulin for you, I get the right to nag."
"Fine. Then you can nag. It hasn't happened yet."
"True. So far you've over done it and ridden low. I'm impressed, Catherine." He winked. "Or should I call you Cat too?" he teased.
"You want stabbed?"
"No. Not today. Girls don't go 'aww' and go gushy over new injuries."
Stella elbowed him. "Behave." She looked at the waiter. "I still want my salad. Marisol?"
"The chicken caesar salad and a water please," she said with a faint smile. "Twist of lemon." He nodded, taking that down. "Tony?"
"I'll have what Catherine is. I'm hungry after chasing that woman down." He nodded and wrote that down, heading into the kitchen. He grinned at the ladies, then Horatio came over. "Eric went with her. Ryan's doing the car."
"How did you get involved, DiNozzo?"
"I was coming down the stairs when I heard someone yell 'police, freeze'." He pointed at Catherine.
He smiled at her. "A part of us for not even an hour and already chasing down suspects for us," he teased, patting her on the shoulder. He did it again. "You're shaking. Are you all right?"
"Fine, it's time to eat."
"Good. I'm glad you've got that part down already." He smiled at Stella. "Could you see who they were aiming for?"
"She was aiming at Catherine and it went past my hair," she admitted, holding up a few broken pieces. Mac came strolling in. "We're fine, you're late."
"I heard, that's why I came in." He looked her over. "You can get that trimmed later. Are you all right? Everyone?"
"We're fine, Mac. You make a very good daddy," Catherine said, looking up at him. "I am a cop too, guys. Really."
"I know," he agreed. "Doesn't keep the testosterone imperative from popping up and making us feel like we fail when the women out-gun us."
"Uh-uh. No way. Ellison hit one tire, Tony hit the other. I hit the trunk, guys. I'm not a marksman. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I admit and freely so to all my faults."
Horatio smiled. "Even better." He smirked at Mac. "I managed to snag us another detective. She'll be working with Yelina." Catherine grinned at them.
"Hey, that means Ryan can pet your cat some more," Stella agreed. Marisol squeaked and blushed, ducking her head. "Not that one, Marisol. She's got five cats. One of them took to Ryan's lap like it loved him already." She patted her on the hand. "Though I see Eric's dirty mind is genetic." Marisol blushed brighter red.
"A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste," Catherine assured her. "I'm blunt beyond speculation. I embarrass many people and take great pleasure in it."
"Frank's going to love working with you," Horatio said happily, heading back to take control again.
Mac pulled a chair over. "Can I have a menu? Better to eat now and then again when Horatio's paying. I didn't get breakfast. I slept in."
"Funny, Stella said the same thing," Catherine teased. Mac blushed at that. "Not that I care, guys."
"Not even close, we're only partners on the job. He snores," Stella said with a grin for her. "Nice try though. Wanna guess any of the others?"
"You and Flack are buddies, like you could make him go bra shopping with you. I've never met a boyfriend who'd do that. Now, some of my former girlfriends I could take, but not either of my boyfriends. Danny might but he's a very private guy so if you were, you'd never know it from him." Arms went around her neck and she looked up, smiling at Jim. "What?"
"At least you're not speculating on Blair and I. Anything good here?" He pulled a chair over. "You need range work, woman."
"I never claimed to be infallible, just damn good, Ellison. Jump off the high horse before it bucks you off. Because I heard what your cholesterol count is. They can nag you just like they do me." She grinned at the others. "His cholesterol is near six hundred."
"So he's eating a salad for lunch?" Tony suggested. Jim groaned, shaking his head. "Good boy, Jim." He reached behind Marisol to clap her on the arm. "Good man!"
"I thought Speed and Blair were bad when they teamed up," he complained to Mac. "Do you get this?"
"No, I'm fairly healthy. Catherine, do you take glucose pills? You're shaking. I can feel it through the table."
"I've got a regular soda coming. Jump off my blood sugar."
"Just asking," he defended, backing down. "We don't want to hold this meeting in your hospital room and it'd be a shame to spend all weekend there instead of on the beach."
She grimaced, staring him down. "I'm fine."
"Okay." He smiled at the waiter bringing out their food and drinks. When he was done he pulled out his pad. "I'll take the BLT, no mayo, and a side of cheese fries. Water, no lemon, just ice."
Tony poked Jim, making him moan. "He'll have the number two, the low fat version," Catherine ordered. "And whatever he wants to drink."
He looked then at her. "They make that in low fat?"
"Of course. They make low fat cheese, Ellison."
He hugged her. "I can defend that!" He grinned at the waiter. "Milk's fine. Two percent if you have it." He handed off the menu to Ryan when he joined them, but his plate was already there. All he had to do was pull over a chair.
"Can I have a water, just ice," he requested. "Bring me the bottle?" The waiter nodded and left to get those. He grinned at her. "You're so bad."
"He's not exploring the wonderful world of no fat. I tried that when I tried to diet." She smiled before taking a bite. "You know Chocolate moped since you left, right?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to steal the kitty's love." He stroked her hand, looking at her. "We'll have about an hour after lunch. Walk on the beach?"
"I could do that."
"Cool. You can tell me how much Horatio had to sacrifice of his spleen to get you down here." She whispered in his ear, earning a moan. "About time." He kissed her on the cheek. "Eat, I'll still walk with you anyway." She nodded. "Oh, Eric said she's fine. She's already lawyered up, refused to even give her name. So he'll be late to the meeting."
"I'm sure we can tape it for him," Mac promised. He smiled at the person he didn't know. "I've seen your picture somewhere. You're not a model, right?" She blushed and shook her head.
"This is Eric's sister, Marisol," Stella told him. "She's being terminally shy since her boy is watching, Mac."
"Oh, well, he knows I won't poach." He ate a fry off Stella's salad, getting stabbed for it. "Ow. I'd share."
"You will be," she agreed.
"You two play more than most newlyweds," Marisol teased.
Stella nodded. "I've got to keep him from getting stuck in a rut somehow. It's either me or Danny and Don have to play with him. I'm the less addictive one." She ate a bite, looking at Catherine's speculative look. "No comment," she said when she swallowed. "Really."
"Sure. Was wondering why he'd go bra shopping with you if you asked," Tony teased. She elbowed him again, making him laugh and hug her. "I wish we worked with you."
"No stealing my staff, DiNozzo. Besides, your team is full. Gibbs said so."
"Yeah, but Ziva's been having an issue with New Orleans," he pouted. "Plus, she won't play. I can only play with McGee."
Gibbs walked in and pulled a chair over. "We need a bigger table." He looked at Tony. "Behave. You can't pack her in your suitcase. Taylor would miss her almost immediately."
"She'd keep me from being bored on the paperwork days, boss. She's a good investigator too."
"No," Mac warned. "I will have him spank you, DiNozzo."
Don and Danny walked in and hugged Catherine, then Stella. "So, who do we get to threaten?" Don asked happily.
"She's lawyered up, won't even tell the nurses her name," Ryan told him. He handed over his phone. "Call Eric and see if you can help." Don walked off to talk to him. He grinned at Danny. "Pull a table closer." He went to do that, letting Tony switch to his table to uncrowd them. Horatio came back and sat with them, letting Marisol change to sit with him too. Don came back and sat in her former seat. "Anything?"
"Not yet. She's claiming she speaks Mandarin and is requesting a lawyer. She's not speaking Mandarin but she says she does in very passable Auzzie."
"Phone," Catherine said. It was handed over and she hit the send button, getting Eric. "Ask her if she's like Rupert Giles for me. Yeah, and they're the people I got the information off of, but they're freaks about their security and information." He asked her that and she threw a fit. "Huh. She was aiming at me. Tell her why, Eric, without the details. Thanks." She hung up and handed Ryan back his phone. "I was wrong, she was aiming at me." She shrugged and dug in again. Ryan gave her a sideways look. "Not the first time this week, Ryan. Just the first time this weekend. I nearly got shot two days ago busting in one of the leather clubs."
"Have I mentioned that I'm going to have to get possessive and check you over every night for injuries?" he asked with a cute, sweet smile.
"As long as you follow through and rub any aches and pains out," she shot back with a smirk.
"I can do that." He took a bite of his dinner. "So she's a friend of Greg's too?"
"Apparently," she sighed, shaking her head. "Where is the little goofball?"
"In the ocean surfing," Horatio offered. "He's got his watch on." She smiled at that and nodded. "He knew about them?" She nodded. "Anything else?"
"He knew my buddy Throttle, who's a bit odd."
"Ya think?" Ryan asked dryly. "What is he?"
"A big, huge mouse." She stuffed her mouth, chewing slowly and carefully. He just stared at her. She whispered it in his ear once she was done, making him sigh and nod. "Sorry, Ryan. Not like I don't live that life now and then."
"No, I fully get that. Not what I expected, but okay. So the Xander kid...."
"Is Vinnie's nephew. His former brother had a drunken fling when he crashed one night near Xander's mom. All he said was 'earth alcohol is evil'."
"Depends on what you're drinking, but yeah," he admitted, making her grin. "Let me guess, you're a wine and tequila sort?"
"Occasional wine, some vodka after the bad nights."
"Understood. We've all had those, but Marisol, relating back to cases." She nodded at that, slumping some. "Bad week?" he asked quietly. She looked at him and nodded. "How many cases did you work?"
"Seven, eight? Busted a brothel of runaways two days ago. I'm still pissed at the owners who took in the really young runaways." He stroked her back, letting her calm down. "Sorry."
"Not your fault. You're a Vice cop. You've seen some of the worst that humanity can do to each other. The same as nightmares are expected. We all have them." She nodded, giving him a hug.
"They're adorable," Marisol told Horatio, who smiled and nodded, patting her hand. "How long?"
"Just recently," he offered back. "Her cats like him."
"Which makes up for the dirtbag ex-girlfriends." She looked at Ryan again, sitting up fully. "You realize it's been my rookie year since I had a *boy*friend?"
He shrugged. "That's fine. We'll rediscover it together. Because I've never been with someone who owned five cats, ten zillion books, and read instead of eating. Or who's as blunt as you." She grinned and dug back into her lunch. Mac gave him a look. "She does own ten zillion books. Mostly fantasy and textbooks." Tony nodded at that. "Warrick taunted her about having to sleep on the books the first night he stayed with her. That and how the Blair cat came and used his chest for a pillow since he was in the way and stuck his tail up his nose." Mac snickered at that. "He did."
"He did," Catherine admitted. "I heard him complaining and had to come out to rescue him. He had no idea what to do with a cat." She ate another bite. "Anyone get to help me find a place to put my library?"
"There's a nice one up the street from me," Ryan offered. She smiled at that. "That'll give you the space you want while we work things out and that way I don't have to clean and dust every time the cats shed." Stella laughed. "I admit I have OCD," he promised happily. "She needs to dust, a lot. She's got five cats. There's hair everywhere in her house."
"Plus when she's at home she wears cute jammies," Tony told him.
"No, usually I'm a nudist. I put on clothes because you guys were there. Normally I wouldn't care but Warrick went to hide outside when he caught me coming out of the shower that first morning. He claimed he's just a simple boy and I'm much more worldly than he is." She looked at Horatio. "Does this mean I can't wear leather to work anymore? I might miss wearing leather to work to bust guys."
"As long as it's tasteful I could care less," he admitted. "There may be a dress code but I'm sure you'll find that out." She grinned at his devious mind. "As long as you're comfortable and don't embarrass the department, Catherine." She cackled and finished her sandwich, digging into her fries and the ranch dressing that came with it. Horatio looked at his watch. "We might as well hold this in here," he noted. "Everyone else should be here in the next few minutes."
Gibbs called McGee. "McGee, we're in the restaurant eating. Bring everyone down here. No, Sanders can dry off and leave his surfboard in his room." He hung up. "Greg just wandered in and put his board against the wall."
"He's probably missed it. He's a beach baby and he's in the desert," Mac reminded him.
"I've never been one of those," Catherine admitted, then she grabbed her head. "I'll be right back." She walked out, taking her phone with her. "Emmy, why are you answering the phone?" The nurse took the phone from her with a gentle rebuke. "Not like I mind, Helga. I got offered a position in Miami," she said quietly. She listened, then nodded. "I know that. Bring her down here? Will the change be bad for her? You said yourself she gets bad in the winters." She nodded. "Thank you." She hung up and headed back there, whispering in Horatio's ear.
He nodded, looking at her. "There's a few good places."
"She's got a nurse."
"There's an excellent place with a step-unit. It's out on Bay." He wrote out an address. "Check there." She nodded, tucking that into her pocket with her phone. "How long?"
"From pre-birth. Someone shot mom."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"The winters aren't good for her anyway. Is there woods? She loves the woods." Ryan gave her a curious look. "My sister, Emerald."
"I saw her picture." He stroked her hand. "I don't mind. I'll help you if I can."
"She's got a nurse. I don't have the patience. Besides, she likes Helga better than me." He smiled at that. "She's good, she's about mentally six. I just realized I'd have to move her. I'm wondering what to do about the bigot's house. Should I burn it?"
"No, don't burn it. Sell it to someone who can use it as a retreat for neopagans." She beamed and nodded. "Does it need work?" She whispered in his ear, making him shiver and tense up, letting out a soft moan. "Yeah, that needs work." He looked at her. "Really?" She nodded. "I never would've guessed."
"It's a shock to everyone." He nodded, he could see that. "Still like me?"
"You're not your grandparents, Catherine."
Gibbs looked over at her. "Definitely not your grandparents." She nodded at that. "I doubt your grandmother would've made the statue blow job jokes you did last week."
"True. She'd never have thought of it because only naughty girls did that in her day."
He laughed. "Yeah, and I so believe that," he shot back. "It was the only acceptable premarital sex in her days." She nodded at that. Everyone but Greg came in. He came strolling in a few minutes later with Eric. "We all here?" Gibbs asked, counting heads. "McGee?" He popped up from reading his menu. "Yeah, everyone order."
Horatio smirked. "I had a platter of sandwiches sent up," he offered, waving at the waiter. "We're holding it down here since so many of us are here and no one else is." That got a nod and he went to retrieve the food from the meeting room. He looked around. "Okay, we've had new information recently. Has it helped?"
"It has," Greg admitted. "My suspect list is down to two. One of Catherine's I weeded out because he was out of the country during one of the bodies being dumped." She smiled at him. "Also, the one for triangle one is breaking the mandates for who he is. He's a little rich boy with delusions of having the God pleasure him as a concubine and right hand guy." He leaned on the table, taking a few sandwiches when the platter came. "Thanks, man. Can I have a mountain dew?" That got a nod and he went back to passing it around. Greg ate a bite, then smiled. "This is nicer than at home. We need better delis." Warrick coughed so he glared at him. "We do." He looked at Catherine. "I've talked to Throttle and Xander, since he put him on the phone. They can get the guy in Sunnydale. They've got a whole network out there for their hunting squad."
"Why do they need one?" Tony asked.
Greg looked at him. "How far do you want to suspend your disbelief today?"
"Why?" Gibbs asked.
"Sunnydale is something called a hellmouth. It's a portal of energy that draws shit like the weirdos and undead. Unfortunately, we know people who deal with that."
"Staked a few," Catherine admitted patiently.
"Me too, in Philly, boss," Tony offered.
Eric nodded. "We had one hanging around the house that Marisol staked," he offered. Horatio looked at her, getting a sheepish nod. "I told her to call me, she didn't." He shrugged. "She's stubborn like that. Have fun with that, H." Speed reached over and casually slapped him on the back of the head. "Hey!"
"Shut up, Eric." He looked around. "Okay, speaking as someone who's seen a few of them attacking others in the clubs, they're real. So Sunnydale's like that, they're going to handle it?" Greg nodded. "They're sure they can?"
"They've got a well-oiled and long-lasting team out there. They know what they're looking for and the local cops are being ridden by Fornell. They'll get him out there during the eclipse. He's the only one that should be out." That got mass nods, even from those who didn't believe. "Speed, did you get my notes on my suspect?"
"I did. Ellison? I handed that to you?"
"I'm watching him. He does smell like the same ingredients. That's not definitive. I've smelled a few of the local Druids and Wiccans who smell the same. I left Simon on watching duties this weekend. He's not due to do anything but they're watching him to see where he goes. So far we don't have enough for a search warrant, much less an arrest warrant." He leaned on the table, nibbling his lunch. Blair looked at it. "It's low fat, climb off that ladder."
"It had better be."
"I made sure, Blair."
"Thank you, Catherine." He smiled at her. "Eat more." She rolled her eyes but took another sandwich to pick apart. "Thank you." He looked at the rest of the group. "Jim thought he found his usual working area but it was cleaned out and we couldn't prove it when we went in to check it out. It's another abandoned building so we wouldn't need a warrant."
"Think about how much easier this would be if the cities tore down the abandoned buildings," Ryan quipped.
"Then they'd have to do more about the homeless problems," Catherine said quietly. "Helena's doing more for Chicago's than we are." She looked at them. "Which one of mine did you weed out?"
"Your last one. Tyler whatever his name was?" She nodded at that. "I had Tony and Gibbs check through Immigration. He was out of the country in Britain at the time of one of the dumps. If it was him he knows he'd have to do it in person."
"Okay. Could someone have had his passport?"
Gibbs nodded. "It's possible. He's got one of the older ones. The pictures can be changed out." He leaned on the table, looking around. "If so, that only leaves us three suspects in our triangle. When can you guys move, Ellison?"
"As soon as we get proof that'll stand up in court," he admitted. "Just buying that stuff isn't definitive. Him going to pick up more cemetery dirt isn't. The judges say that's still too circumstantial, even put together. They want him caught in the act of doing *something*. They want no chance of any lawyer getting this guy off."
"Agreed," Gibbs assured him. "It's still inconvenient. Can you at least get a wiretapping warrant?"
"We would but he only uses his computer. We do have a warrant for that to be tapped," Speed offered. "I arranged that with computer crimes. They're hesitant but doing the best they can. I was going to ask you to borrow McGee to check over their shoulder Monday."
"Done," Gibbs agreed. He looked at Catherine. "You scared our boss."
"Pity. What does she have against strong women?"
"Ones who went rough instead of staying cultured."
"Again, pity. I'd like to see her do my job. I'd love to do hers instead. It'd be easier." He nodded that was probably true. "Okay, what about our suspects? Do we have surveillance on them?"
"They're all in Chicago and your city isn't cooperating, yet again," Greg admitted. She moaned and put her head down. "I had Gris call and request it and they won't."
"I'll call Fornell. Get his guys to do it," Gibbs offered. "What if we're totally off?"
"Then we've got one more body until the eclipse," Greg offered. "I know that the Sunnydale crew can stop theirs. That's not an issue. The other two have to be stopped nearly at the same time. That's the problem. If they hear one's been stopped, they'll go underground and just go back to torturing women."
"How did we compile the suspects?" Horatio asked.
"The books gave the profile of what each killer should be. The first one is breaking it in minor ways, like his interpretation issues. That's his quirk that he's giving up but he's adding too much too it." He got up. "Let me head upstairs." That got some nods so he went to get his materials he had forgotten.
"Greg's always been good about presenting things," Warrick offered. "Grissom hates it when he does things like puts a formula up on a board and makes him guess." Gibbs snickered at that. "Abby does that?"
"Now and then, yeah." He looked over at Abby. "You're quiet."
"I'm tired. I was up all last night in the club." She smiled at him. "Thank you for having me followed, Gibbs."
"His next one is female and we're a tempting target," Catherine reminded her. "Which is why I'm not much moving from the group. You're our lead female tech. Calleigh's done some of the scenes, but you're the one processing the most evidence with Speed. I'm one of the knowledge sources, but Greg's blowing my ass away today with some of his contacts." Greg came back in and kissed her on the head, grinning at her. "How did you get this information?"
"I translated some of the books the others couldn't and I called in a few favors from the kids I tutored and taught to skateboard or surf." He grinned at them, laying out the lists. "Okay, here's what I have so far." He laid out the characteristics above them. "We can't find an online list of faith and who has which and how devout they are. That's a given, but the other characteristics are pretty clear cut. Also, we tracked the places he uses. One of them we have a fairly grainy ATM photo of a guy with short dark hair in Chicago, then again in DC. We can't get enough to do a match, but we can do enough to tell some things. He's male. He's got black hair. He hunches over slightly when he walks. He shuffles slightly on his right foot, just a slight limp. I'm thinking a hip issue but I'd have to ask someone like one of the ME's for sure.
"Going through databases of licenses and then weeding out names by the other characteristics I came to a list of ten. Since then, through interviews and other things, Catherine and I weeded hers down to three with Warrick's help. Frankly, some of Chicago's labs hold dinosaurs inside to test the matter and spit out reports. I fully expect to open the mass spec and find some sort of flying dinosaur in there tasting things and squawking into a speaker, which is translated and then typed by the turtle inside the printers. He's been helping them with the backlog now and then." He tapped the list for triangle two. "This one is bothering me. I can't weed it down between them. They both creep me out and I can't get past that."
"We had that problem with the Crowley people," Danny offered.
"I thought about that but neither one hinted that they knew anything and both of them fit the quirk. They've had some small press leaks thanks to their issues with the patrol guys recently. No clue if they're quoting. This is the best I can do."
"So far I've agreed with the people we've weeded out," Catherine admitted. "But I liked that last one."
"He's still there, just lightly crossed out with why next to it," Greg offered. "Customs and Immigration can make mistakes."
Gibbs nodded, looking at the lists and characteristics. "Do we have backgrounds on them?"
"As much as I could do," Greg admitted, handing over what he had. "You guys can get deeper than we can. Now the one for the first triangle, it's a bit more firm. He's had multiple trips through Delta to each of the cities."
"He works as a stock broker so it's not unexpected that he go to New York and Miami, but not that often," Jim offered. "I asked some of the others in the business that the guys around us knew and they said once a quarter, not once a month. Even if they had family in the other cities, that wouldn't explain it. That'd be weekly."
"I did a background on him," Speed offered. "I emailed it to everyone in our triangle. Did we get it, H?"
"I did, and I've begun checking on him on this end," he admitted. "He's looking very promising but there's a gut feeling that something's not quite right. He's very polite and seems to have an excuse for traveling, he's setting up one of the local departments."
Eric shook his head. "When I went to ask, the secretaries said they were pissed with him because he kept showing up. Always. It's like he was showing up to micro-manage the painting and things. He came in a few times to check on the decorating scheme. No one's that anal, are they?"
"Yes," Ryan offered. "I know a few, thank you."
"Yeah, but this guy isn't OCD," Speed assured him, looking over at him. "Have I mentioned yet that you two are *perpetually* cute?"
"No, but it's nice to hear," she offered with a grin. "I don't mind flirting but I'd never take you up on it, Speed."
"Good, I don't need another mother. I've got Alexx and Sandburg."
"Always happy to help," Blair assured him happily. "Still got the sniffles, son?"
"No. Thankfully. Alexx dosed me with stuff last night. Made Calleigh hold me down to do it." He looked at Horatio. "If he comes down I might have to run and hide."
"You can hide behind Catherine. She's going to be working with Frank and Yelina." Speed's mouth opened for a moment, then he burst out in high-pitched giggles, doubling over.
"See, he thinks I should go in wearing leather my first day too," she assured Ryan, who grinned and shrugged.
"Kids, we've got plenty of time to play," Gibbs ordered. Speed calmed himself down. "Thank you. Do we have a plan in place yet?"
"No," Greg said, grinning at him. "I need to abuse your people shamelessly to get a better background done. Then we can do that easier."
"Done," he agreed. "When should we meet to go over the capture plans?"
"How are we dividing up?" Tony asked. "With the problems in Chicago, they might need more help and I'm not going to trust Fornell. Not when we're taking the Sunnydale bust out from under him."
"They can capture him and let the guy burst into flames," Catherine offered. "It wouldn't be his fault. After all, they're the X-Files guys."
"That's mean and I occasionally respect Fornell," Gibbs told her. She shrugged and grinned meanly. "Do we need to add more people to Chicago?"
"Yes," Tony agreed. "I'd rather have our team there, boss. Catherine can lead, you can lead, but someone's got to be behind her. The patrol guys were crashing scenes because it didn't agree with their faith. Their Chief was letting them and letting them pull shit."
"Agreed," he decided. "Sanders?"
"I'm still a lowly CSI and former DNA tech. I know jack shit about going into something like that. I hide behind Brass, Warrick, or Nick." Warrick nodded at that. "I'm not ready for that yet, man."
"You still need to learn," Warrick reminded him.
"That's fine and I'll take the lessons whenever someone wants to teach me. Until then, I'm not qualified."
"Point," Warrick agreed.
"The Cascade one?" Horatio asked.
"You're welcome to come up and help, Horatio, but Simon wants to kick his ass. His ex called up to make sure he wasn't involved and then Blair's mother called up to berate him for making her darling, innocent baby boy deal with such nastiness. You'll get full credit for solving but they'll get the arrest paperwork and the DAs can fight it out," Ellison offered.
"Less paperwork for us," Speed agreed. Horatio looked at him. "It'll be listed as all of us cooperated."
"I think Greg should get some major credit with researching," Catherine offered, sipping the soda the waiter had put in front of her. She smiled and he nodded. She looked at Horatio. "I don't care who goes to bust in each city, as long as I'm not left alone. 'Cause if I am, they're going to be doing funeral paperwork. I will shoot him for how many times I saw daybreak from the wrong side."
Horatio smirked. "That's fine. I'm sure we can work that out." He looked around. "Anything else?" No one said anything. "Gibbs?"
"We shouldn't need more than a few hours."
"Then after dinner, and dinner would be somewhere around here?" Horatio suggested.
Stella smiled at him. "Are you getting dinner or are we?"
"I'll get this lunch, except what you guys ordered for a snack, and then dinner," he promised. "You guys get brunch tomorrow and then you're leaving once it gets dark." Stella nodded, smiling at that. "Okay, everyone go play." Ryan let Catherine have more of her soda, then took her out for a walk.
"I hope he doesn't get hurt again," Eric said quietly. "She'll go off on someone."
Speed nodded. "Ya think, Eric?" he asked, looking at him. Eric grinned. "But it'll be exciting following her around until she's used to normal things again."
"I'm more worried that she's so cute it'll give others diabetes," Marisol offered. Everyone still there laughed.
"Not cute, guys," Greg said, standing up. "She deserves it." He walked out. "Heading back out to surf some more. Page me, it's inside my wetsuit." He headed up to get his board and go back out again.
The others looked at each other.
"She might but it's still nauseating," Speed offered, getting up with a groan. "I'm going to enjoy the sunshine. If it rains, I'm killing someone." Blair snickered but followed him out. "Mom, I don't need my hand held," he called. "I'm a big boy!"
"I want sun too! Greedy, share the sun!"
Horatio moaned and shook his head. "It'll take us weeks to get him used to the heat again." He stood up. "Marisol?" She smiled and took his hand, letting him lead her off.
"Speaking of cute," Eric sighed, shaking his head. Everyone else snickered. "She's my sister, I can moan in misery."
"And Speed calls Sandburg a Jewish mother," Ellison teased.
"No, I'm only a concerned brother. I don't feed anyone," he taunted back.
On that note, Gibbs left with his team to get to their miniscule work. Before things got out of hand and he ended up rolling on the floor with laughter once Tony chimed in.
Catherine stepped off the plane and looked up. "Fuck me," she sighed. The guy behind her laughed and moved her out of the way. "I know, but it's a letdown after Miami." She walked off with him, going to get her bag, finding their faithful cab service waiting on them. "Hi, Vinnie." She kissed him on the cheek. "Why did you come up?"
"We heard there might be an announcement," he teased.
"I'm moving to Miami." She got on behind him, giving him a squeeze. "Sorry, but it's warm, it's sunny, and Chocolate loved Ryan on sight. Plus I'm getting a raise and my proper badge." He still pouted. "Don't start. You can come down. It's warm and sunny there. Charley might like warm and sunny sometimes."
"Fine," he pouted. "You don't love us?"
"I do love you but if I stay up here, I'm unsupported at work and I'd hate to be shot some night." He nodded, taking off, accepting that. "Let me shift my bag." She put the strap around her shoulders and snuggled it between them. "Besides, Ryan even said he'd help me shave and look cute in a bikini again, plus he threatened to clean."
"You've got weird tastes," he called back.
"I know but it's adorable. Chocolate even liked him. And hey, I'm not the smartest in the group this time."
"You're bragging about that?" he complained.
"Yup, means I don't have to be the one everyone relies on for everything."
"Point. Not like I have that problem," he laughed, then howled, speed off into the night.
"Fine, spoil our fun."
"Yup, for tonight at least. This momma needs a nap."
"If you get pregnant, can we come see the mouse cadet?"
"Sure! Since he saw you two."
He laughed and called that back to the other bike, making Modo laugh too. "We love you guys!"
"I love you too, Studly, how are my cats?"
"Fine. Cranky but fine. Change the bed, dear."
"I figured as much." They pulled up outside her place and she hugged him. "Wanna help me pack books?"
"No way in Plutark, sweetheart. I love you but not enough to lift and tote your books into a U-Haul. Sorry." She laughed. "Hire someone."
"It's going to cost tons to move me."
"And?" He looked back at her. "You can do that."
"I've got to move Em."
"Ooooh. What about the house?"
"Oh, they gave me a very nice idea," she said with the sorta smirk that usually made him run. "Speaking of, if they need more help, can you help Xander in Sunnydale?"
"Sure. Not an issue. We're going to be doing that anyway." He nuzzled her. "Go rest after you remake the bed, babe. Have a better night." She nodded and got off, heading inside. He nodded at Warrick, getting a grin and a wave. "Remember us when you're home in case we pop in."
"Yeah, they'll just think you're a stage act," he assured him, grinning back at him. He noticed the neighbor looking out her door. "We're nearly done with the case that drug me here," he shared. She smiled at that. "Then she's moving. To Florida." That got an even bigger smile. "They howl?"
"The whole first night. She okay?"
"She's good. Thank you." She nodded and went back inside. Warrick went inside and locked down the house again, finding Catherine remaking the bed, or something. She was presently across it and one of the cats was stomping on her. He walked over, checking her pulse. "You weren't that tired," he complained, reaching for the phone. He heard a movement behind him and pulled his gun, pointing it at the doorway. "Vinnie. Come move her?" That got a nod and he came to lift her off and onto the couch. He called the ambulance. "Thanks, man. We've got it."
"Sure. Someone ran out the side window."
"Even better. One less idiot I have to club or shoot." Vinnie nodded at that. "Ambulance is coming."
"I'm headed. Let us know, okay?"
"Of course." That got a nod and he disappeared, their bikes heading off into the night, more quietly than usual since it was nearly midnight. He got down to pat her on the face. "Catherine?" She moaned and wiped at her face. "Yeah, let me get a washcloth." He went to do that, letting the answering officer in. "The guy who hit her was seen jumping out the window by the person dropping us off. She needs an ambulance."
"I'm trained, sir."
"Warrick, CSI, Las Vegas."
"Ah, you're the guy in on that case." He came back to look her over. He pointed at the bruise on her wrist. "Is that where her medic alert sits?" He looked and found the chain in the bedroom, bringing it out. "By any chance you don't know what's wrong with her, do you?"
"I do," he agreed, going to get the forms. "She's diabetic, allergic to one of the meds. She's got a few other drug allergies. They know her real well at St. Mark's." He handed over her copy of the Medic Alert forms. He nodded, calling that in. "Vinnie, the guy who gave her a ride home, said he saw someone jumping out the window. I was talking with the guy who drove me."
"Oh, okay." He checked her head. "Small lump, she should be fine, but they're fairly busy tonight. There was a gang thing on the West Side." Warrick hissed. "Yeah. So it's going to be a few minutes."
"Ice is good." He went to get some, bringing it back to rest against her head. She flinched at that. "Detective?" She groaned and batted at him. "Detective, I'm a paramedic. I need you to wake up for me please?" She blinked up at him. "Did you see the person who hit you?"
"Grimes," she whispered, blinking harder. "You're fuzzy."
"Only part of the time," he promised, smiling at her. "I heard you knew about that stuff. I promise I'm one of the safe ones." She nodded and passed back out again. He checked her pulse and the ambulance finally got there. He filled out what he knew, including what was on the forms, making note of the number off it. They took her and the forms, and Warrick, while he got one of their local CSI in to deal with the house. All while he went to shoo the cats back inside. He had heard about her cats.
Horatio moaned as he woke up, reaching for the phone. "Caine?" he asked quietly, holding his head. "Is she all right?" He nodded slowly. "Then I'm going to suggest you call Tony. Ah, don't have the number. Fine, I'll call Tony. Dispatch him there. Stay with her, Warrick. I want her healthy. She's mine now." He hung up and dug out the number, dialing it slowly and carefully. He heard the displeased grunt. "DiNozzo, Caine. Someone just tried to bash Catherine's head in." He woke up suddenly. "Can you find her?" He nodded and sighed. " Good. Thank you. No, Warrick said the guy jumped out the window before he realized there was a problem. Bashed in the head. He was in the ER already. Thank you." He hung up and laid back down, getting comfortable again. "I hate serial cases. They always make my head hurt." He closed his eyes, letting himself drift off again.
Tony closed his phone calmly and stood up, grabbing his jacket. "Boss, I'm needed in Chicago. Someone just attacked Catherine. Warrick was outside and didn't see who it was. He called Horatio."
"Go," he agreed. "I can handle this without you." Tony nodded, heading for the elevator. "Stay and help her pack. I want you on that assault team."
"Yeah, boss. On it." He yawned, heading down to his car. He had been more tired before and he could nap on the plane. He ran into Fornell down there. "Catherine got hit by an intruder."
"Crap." He followed him. "I'll drive."
"Gibbs is waiting on you. I can handle that. If I have to, I'll call Ryan for backup." He slid into his car and started it before buckling up and pulling out.
Fornell headed upstairs, looking at Gibbs. "She okay?"
"I didn't get the call, he did. Since he said Warrick called Horatio, I'm sure she'll be okay. What's wrong?"
"The Sunnydale triangle, of course." He walked over, standing in front of him. "Tell me they don't think it's a vampire." He handed over the copied pages, copied in Greg's scrawl. He read it and grimaced. "So?"
"I'm told Sunnydale is like that."
"I realized that after one tried to eat me and a blonde brat saved me. How do I explain that?"
"Leave him in a cell and when he bursts into flames the next morning it was a self barbeque," McGee said tiredly. "Boss, still no answer at Abby's place."
"She's down in my car, fast asleep. I saw her on her doorstep asleep," Fornell admitted. "I know he's still trolling for his latest female victim. Do we think it's Demoranth?"
"Not a clue," Gibbs offered. "She thought it'd be her or Abby since they were more important to the case and it says an important woman." He shrugged. "I don't know."
"Fine. I'll get her from the car. DiNozzo can handle her on his own? I heard rumors she's been sick."
"She just got diagnosed as diabetic and she's fine," McGee assured him blandly, glaring at him. "She proved it by going off her diet all weekend and being fine. She's got someone to worry over her now and she's transferring out to Miami."
"Even better. I don't like how Chicago did that to her. If I knew where her near-little brother was, I'd call him for backup but he's undercover at the moment. Another agent is handling that." He grimaced. "I'm locked out of that since I'm working with you guys, again."
"Could be worse, you could be doing this on your own," Gibbs said with mock, hard cheer. Abby wandered up and he got up. "Are you all right?"
"Partied out," she grumbled, giving him a hug. "Need a nap."
"Nap in Tony's chair," he offered, turning her around and giving her a nudge. She nodded, stumbling that way and curling up in it on her side. McGee came over to put his jacket over her, earning a sniffle of it and a faint smile. He went back to his desk. Gibbs looked at him. "Can we narrow it down further, McGee?"
"Not yet, boss. They're looking equally bad in my book. Any word on who the Sunnydale guy is?"
"Yeah, one Leitch DeGree?" McGee shrugged. "Contemporary of Mr. Harris's. Pretty much a background figure, nothing special in high school. Disappeared, assumed dead, last year." He looked at him, watching him type. "I can do a background, McGee."
"That's the name of one of our guys online," he admitted. They came over to look.
"That's DeGree," Fornell agreed, pointing at a picture. "Any idea where the statue is?"
"Chicago," Gibbs admitted. "They're checking the records of those who tried to touch it and got thrown out of the museum." That got a silent nod. Gibbs yawned, making McGee yawn. "Long day."
"Very long day," McGee agreed, but he was smiling. "It was nice to sit and do nothing today," he said happily.
"It was. It was very nice to sit on the beach and watch the others plan the assaults with only minimal input. It was even better that they had a clue what they were doing." Fornell smirked at that. "They do. Caine had bomb squad experience and he's led the charge plenty of times. Ellison's a former Ranger and he led his tribe into combat and hunting. They've got Cascade sewn shut if they can catch the guy and our guess of suspect is right."
"By process of elimination, our guy is a Chicago native," McGee offered, putting it up on the big plasma screen in the middle of their bullpen. "We need to put surveillance on him to make sure but that's who Sanders came up with."
"Sanders?" Fornell asked. "We're relying on the minor hippie punk?"
"He got more information than Catherine did and he knows some of the people in that organization," Gibbs told him. "He's been invaluable. I'd write that to his boss but they might think it odd coming from me."
"His boss's boss is a political asshole, boss. Greg said Ecklie's been making Nick, the CSI on this case, work full shifts and then the body dump, which happens around ten. Then a full shift the next night too." Gibbs grimaced at that. "Apparently he's decided it's not that bad."
"He used to be a CSI," Fornell admitted. "Pity about the politics." He looked at Gibbs, then at Abby. "Can you handle her tonight?" That got a nod. "Then I'm heading home and I suggest you do the same. You look good with a tan." He headed back to the elevator, heading home.
"Note our findings so you can't forget, get back here the usual time," Gibbs ordered. "He's right, I need a nap and so do you." He went to shut down his system, then looked at Abby again. He walked over and picked her up, letting McGee get the elevator and his car door for him. He got a nod of thanks and then McGee headed for his car while Gibbs started his to go home. Abby could nap on his couch tonight.
Catherine woke up to a very bright light and immediately swatted at it. "Nasty light. Shit, people."
"No concussion then," Warrick noted in a deadpan from beside her. "Lay still. You got hit in the head." She growled but relaxed. "Thank you." He looked at the doctor, who finished up. "She's sorry, she's like that."
"We've had others." He looked at her once his penlight was put up again. "Anything blurrier than normal, detective?" She shook her head. "Head hurt?" She nodded. "Good. I want you on your couch and resting for the next two days."
"Can't." She sat up, holding her head. "Cases."
"We're not due a body in those two days and you're resting," Warrick assured her. She glared at him now. "Tough. Tony's napping in the car." She whimpered. "Again, tough. I'll even go remake and flip the bed for you."
"I wouldn't subject anyone to that torture." She swung around and looked at the doctor. "I'll have them watch me harder than usual." He shook his head. "I'm a Vice cop. I'm tougher than the average woman. I've chased down suspects with concussions this bad, doc. In heels." She slid off the bed and looked at the gown, then at him. "Not that I care, because I am a nudist, but if you're squeamish, I'd move." He got out of the way while she found her clothes, finding them bagged, tagged, and sealed. "That's fine, I can wear this out. Papers?" He went to get them, bringing her back a pair of scrubs. "Thanks." She signed herself out and headed home with the instruction sheet. Tony was indeed sleeping in the car. She climbed in next to him and napped on him, getting cuddled. It was nice. "I hope Ryan cuddles."
"I'm sure he clings," Warrick said as he got in to drive. Tony flinched as the car started. "Just us. She checked herself out. Look down." Tony looked at the person on his chest, then grunted and closed his eyes again. "It's only a ten minute drive, then you can have the couch. I'll redo her bed." That got another grunt and Tony drifted off again. He drove them both home, going to do things for her. He found a note in a very careful penmanship, smiling at the contents. "She loves you too, Modo. Thank you for dealing with the bed and the Chocolate." He looked, Chocolate was leashed right next to her litter box with the water bowl near enough to her. He undid her and watched her run and hide. "That's why you don't pee on the bed, cat." He headed back out, getting her and putting her to bed, which woke Tony, who went into the bathroom.
"I'm up, take a nap. Hospital chairs suck."
"Yup. Coffee?" Warrick pointed and he went that way, going to sit on her porch while they napped. You deserved a good nap after a concussion, even though no one ever let you have one. He smiled as Modo came back. "She's napping. Thank you."
"Not a problem. How is she?"
"Not serious. They let her check herself out." He sipped his coffee. "Don't wake Warrick if you sneak in." He grinned and went to do that, bringing the Chocolate kitten out. "Again?"
"No, glaring at Warrick and poised to pounce." He handed her over. "She really likes this boy?" He nodded. "Is he a nice guy?"
"He is. A bit anal about cleaning but a nice guy. He does the same job Warrick does but in Miami. He was in patrol until then. He's smart, he makes her blush and giggle. Chocolate likes him. Holy mother of God, who is she?" he asked, staring at the woman who had just pulled up.
Modo looked, nodding her up, then back at Tony. "Helena. Her buddy. Helena, love, this is Tony. He's working with her on the serial thing."
"Nope, I'm not a Fornell and I hope to never be a Fornell." She laughed at that. "DiNozzo, NCIS," he said, shaking her hand.
"Helena Nichols, Violent Crimes." She smiled at him. "What happened?"
"Bashed in the head and the guy ran out," Modo told her. "Vinnie and I gave them a ride back last night. Oh, she's moving."
"She emailed me. I've already talked to Ryan and threatened his life," she assured him, stroking his natural arm. "When are you guys leaving for Sunnydale?"
"Two days. We're taking the books back with us." She nodded, smiling at that. He gave her a hug. "It'll be lonely with just you and us."
"And Stan," Warrick said as he came out. "Wherever he is at the moment. You are?"
"Warrick Brown, Vegas," he said, shaking her hand.
"She say who?"
"He's so getting my foot up his ass," she growled. She smiled sweetly. "Thank you, Warrick."
"No proof one way or the other," he warned.
"He'll confess if he did it. No one in this city wants to fuck with me." Tony giggled at that. "What?" she asked, looking hurt.
"You remind me of my boss sometimes."
"Who's your boss?"
"Jethro? I know him through her. I had to talk to him once to cancel one of their lunches when she got shot in the arm. Tell Ryan to watch out for her, okay? She worries people sick." Warrick nodded, grinning at her. "What?"
"Horatio was recruiting. He even said she could wear leather now and then as long as she didn't embarrass the department."
Helena giggled. "Yeah, but he'd hate having my boyfriend around. He probably hates Jigen with every bone in his body." She stroked Modo's arm again. "Race you home?" He grinned and waved, heading off with her. "Tell her I'll be back later." The guys nodded. "Watch out for her. She's prone to taking a lead position. It's that nasty habit they have of not backing her up. Thinks she's immortal." She climbed on her bike and raced off, Modo following her. He was too much of a gentleman to ever really race her and beat her. Maybe she should've warned them to watch out for the hyper, bouncing blond man. Stan had a way of information getting back to him, even if you didn't tell him.
The day finally came when the assaults were going to take place. Jim was on watch that morning so he got to follow him to where he was working. "Got him," he radioed in. "He's going inside his work area. He's in one of Cyclops' old offices."
"Crap. That restraining order kicked in last week."
"I'm not letting him kill her, Simon."
"I'm coming. Just wait."
"Nope." He hung up and sniffed. He could smell blood. He looked at Blair, who was frowning. "What?"
"Can you hear anything?"
"He's got her gagged but I can smell blood."
"Okay, I hear a scream." He coughed and raised his voice to a high falsetto. "Help! Help!"
"Good enough." Jim led the way out. "In the truck, Sandburg! Follow orders this time." More cars came screaming up and he looked at the private security. "He's got a victim in there. We followed our serial killer." They looked at each other. "Fuck it." He headed that way again and they rushed in ahead of him, making him smirk in amusement. He had an idea of what was in there.
"Oh, my god!" someone yelled.
Jim rushed in, finding what he was doing. "Well, that's sickening. Freeze, Cascade PD!" Somehow someone had messed up. Their victim was already dead and was just now being bled out. Someone had missed him coming here before. "Don't move!" Jim ordered. "Try not to mess up anything, boys. You don't want Speed on your tails for messing up his crime scenes." He glared at the killer, who was chuckling. "You, don't move! Cascade PD."
"Yay! I only answer to a *higher* power," he sneered. He picked up a knife and Jim shot him in the arm, making him scream and fall down, rolling around in the blood that was being spilled. "How dare you touch me!" Simon and the others ran in. "He dared touch me!" He raised a hand and a ball of flame appeared.
Sandburg walked in and calmly pointed the trucks' fire extinguisher at it, freezing his hand with the CO2. He grinned. "Got you. And yes, we're lesser mortals. How very cute of us. But that's okay, you're going to give me a *great* academic paper!" Then he grinned his thousand watt bullshitting grin.
"Sandburg, your career comes after we arrest him," Banks ordered. "Get me Speed in here!"
"Already here, tell the big, muscled people I'm a nice guy before I shoot him in the balls," Speed called.
"Let him in!" Banks snapped. They got out of the way and Speed walked in shaking his head. "You okay?"
"Feeling less than macho but that's okay. I can type faster than him, I'm smarter than him, and I'm a better lover than him." He smirked at Simon, who pointed at the body. "Hmm, yummy, slight decomp." He walked over, taking the handcuffs and delicately cuffing him then dragging him out of the blood puddle. "You're messing up my crime scene. I kick asses for that."
"Defiler!" he shouted, trying to get up. Funny thing about having your hands cuffed behind your back. It was kinda difficult to do that. He ended up back in the blood, splattering it on Speed.
"Eww! You're paying to clean this." He went to start with the outer ring of the rite. "Not fully completed. Must have needed to seal yourself in." He looked at him. "By the way, Sunnydale is already gone. He went whoosh this morning in his cell. Flambee."
"I heard that it was pretty," Blair agreed. Everyone gave him an odd look. "Guys, I've seen funeral pyres before," he said patiently. "I've seen shit that would curl your short and curlies tighter. Doesn't mean I like the sight of guts though." He got out of the way, helping Simon haul him out. "Ah, nicer. And hey, he can mess up a cruiser totally. Who's not in favor now?"
"The guy who kept Speedle out," Banks said, glaring back at him, getting a sheepish look. "Officer, take him with you."
"Yes, Captain Banks." He drug the guy off, muttering the whole way.
"I heard that!" Jim snapped. "I'd apologize quickly, officer." He flinched and nodded, ducking and walking faster.
"What did he say about me?" Speed asked patiently.
"Something about you, a sheep and a dog or a sheep dog, couldn't be certain, and a strap- on."
Speed looked out there, then at Jim. "I say let Catherine have him."
Blair nodded. "Works for us," he agreed happily. "Need help?"
"NO. Out!" He backed outside. "Bag those clothes for me too, Sandburg! Just in case!"
One of the security guys looked at Speed, then at Blair's back. "Either you're younger than you look or he's older than he looks."
"It's a joke, he fusses," Speed said flatly, getting back to work, shaking his head the entire time. Some people had no senses of humor. It almost made him miss Eric's sense of humor. Almost.
"You know, you could stay. The Chief said you could have the lab supervisor's spot, if you wanted," Simon offered casually. "Ten grand more than what you're making now. You could afford a tanning booth at home." Speed glared at him. "It's possible for him to negotiate up too."
"Tell Horatio that, Simon." Simon laughed, going to call and talk to him about that. Even Speed could hear the yelling from across the room, it made him have the warm fuzzies. It really did.
Jim snickered at some of it. "Man, Delko's got a mouth on him. He took the phone from Horatio a minute ago. That's him yelling." Speed chuckled too. They all knew Eric had the temper in the lab. Well, until Catherine got there.
Catherine got the call they'd been waiting on, putting her gun in her holster. "We're on." They headed out, her and the NCIS team. Which was nice. She appreciated backup. A lot. They ran into Helena, who had been doing surveillance for them. And someone she didn't expect. "Stan?" He glared at her. "Oops?"
"Ended last night. I broke his neck."
"On purpose?" Gibbs asked.
"He was trying to shoot me, I didn't have a weapon, it seemed suitable at the time. Shall we?" That got a nod and they headed inside after their target. She was still alive and screaming into her gag. He saw the guy bolt and Catherine sprint after him, going after her. "If you get hurt, I'm screaming!" he called. "Like a bitch in heat!"
"Yes, dear. You'll like Ryan."
"Ryan?" he called. "A boy? Damn!" She took a flying leap and tackled the guy onto the stairs, letting him get there and cover them. "Freeze! Don't you listen the first two times?" The guy started to laugh. "No, no psychotic shit allowed outta you. Catherine, cuff him?"
"Sure." She cuffed him and hauled him up, then stumbled down the stairs. Stan caught her and the guy tried to move but the rest of the team was there. "Sorry. Tripped."
"Had that happen," Gibbs admitted. "Feeling all right?"
"Yeah, I'm just fine. I didn't quite hit the stair dead on." Tony took the guy from them and walked him off. She looked at Stan. "Yes, a boy."
"Boys are nice," he admitted. "When do I get to meet him?"
"Probably soon. I'm moving to Miami as soon as I file this shit." He blinked. "Horatio offered me my proper grade, fifteen grand more a year, and the ability to wear leather at work as long as I don't damage anyone mentally." She took his arm, leading him back. "Warrick?" He was checking the victim for trace, her mouth was free. "Need help?"
"Paramedics are coming. I'm doing the preliminary stuff on her but I can't get her down. The winch is padlocked." Stan patted their suspect down, finding the keys and tossing them over. Warrick smiled as he caught them, letting Gibbs help him get her down onto the tarp he had laid down earlier. The paramedics came in. "On the tarp and only on the tarp!" he ordered. "You mess up this one and I'm kicking asses." They nodded and quickly got her, heading out with her. "Expect a CSI to finish processing her and take her statement," he called after them. He got back to work. "Shoo! You're in my light!"
Stan called the usual CSIs in. "Bethes. Kowalski. Found the serial killer. Found his last victim alive. Paramedics just now. Warrick's got the kill scene. Thanks." He hung up and looked at Helena, who was green. "You good?"
"Fuck no," she complained, walking outside to get some air. "Eww!"
"That's why they're called psychopaths," McGee offered, handing her a small roll. "Breath mint to take the taste out?" She smiled and took one. "You will like Ryan. They're so cute it's sending the rest of us diabetic and her cat likes him."
"I heard that part. Stan?" He came out with Catherine. "Chocolate *liked* him. Snuggled up in his lap first time they met liked him."
"It took her an hour to crawl into mine."
"Took her maybe thirty minutes to get into his," Tony offered as he came out with the guy. "Anyone got a squad car?"
Helena dialed dispatch. "Has it been missed that an NCIS team and three of your best detectives, plus one cranky CSI who needs coffee, have brought down that serial killer who was plaguing the city? Well, the victim was taken but we've still got him and I want to shoot him. No, this is Nichols." She smiled sweetly. "Thank you! Yeah, and not the guys who ruined the crime scenes before if possible. Thanks!" She hung up and rolled her eyes, getting a quiet chuckle from Gibbs. "I hate this city sometimes."
"Horatio's hiring. There's plenty of cute men and women, beaches, sunlight, bookstores, gun dealers, and drug runners," Catherine offered happily.
"A, too much sun is bad for me. B, Jigen would bother him. C, I'd almost rather move and pester Ellison. I like dark. Dark good."
"Ellison may be moving too," Tony offered, grinning at her. "Sandburg's starting to stick up for his career."
"He can do that from Cascade and nowhere else would allow his mother to routinely show up for two weeks at a time."
"I can call," Catherine offered. She grinned at her. "You know, Sandburg's still free, and now he's mothering one of Horatio's other CSIs. Or there's Vegas."
"Oooh, they would hate Jigen," she moaned, looking back inside. "Hey, Warrick?"
"If I move to your town would you not discriminate against my boyfriend?"
"Depends, what is he?"
"A really great jewel thief and marksman?"
He came out, looking at her. "Huh?" She beamed and nodded. "Who're you dating, woman?"
"Lupin's Jigen?" She beamed and nodded. "Let me ask Brass first. He's our Union rep." He went back to processing, shaking his head as he made the call. "Greg, put Brass on. No, we got him. Victim still alive. Waiting on that now. It's been twenty minutes and they're teasing her about Ryan. Hey, Brass. Helena Nichols wanted to know if she moved to our city would you guys discriminate about her boyfriend. No, he's not sick or an alien, though they are nice. No, she's dating Jigen, Lupin's Jigen," he said, finishing before he could get the part about the aliens being nice. "Yeah, him. Because he supported her when she was undercover, Brass. Catherine said it's been a long-time thing. Like decades. Sure." He hung up. "Brass said to call and negotiate that, but he's got to leave the city alone where we'd have to investigate it," he called. "Still no patrol?"
"Nope," she said, leaning in. She beamed. "I can do that. Thank you, baby love, and you're right, they're very nice." She winked and headed to her bike, dragging him with her. "Come on. We'll go for a nice, long ride." She called dispatch. "Since there's been a failure in the chain of command again, I get to give the poor bastard a ride in on the back of my bike." She hung up and got him on, handcuffing his handcuffs to her seat. Then she straddled the bike. Two patrol cars pulled up. "Oh, come on, you're no fun!" she complained. "I never get to ride anyone in."
"That's because they end up fearing for their lives," Stan called, smirking and waving. "Love you anyway. Come help us pack her books."
"Sure, then we can do mine. Maybe. Are you going with her or me?"
"You'll have fun. You'll like the Greg," Catherine offered.
"Oooooh, a Greg too? Not just a Ryan?"
Tony snickered, shaking his head. "Greg's a little geek boy. He's fun though. He plays. He let Catherine tease him about being a bigger brain than she is. Throttle knows him."
"I'm so going to pump him for information then. Thanks, baby love. Thank you too for the nice morning, Gibbs. I needed that rush." She winked and sped off, heading to do her reports then to the garage to pump the big, tall, furry ones for information. Of course, they were still in Sunnydale but Charley knew some and she hadn't gossiped in a while.
Stan looked at her, then at her ankle. "Sit, bitch." She sighed and sat down on the hood of her car. "Thank you. Phone?" It was handed over. He paged through the numbers. "A few new ones. Mac?"
"New York's lab."
"Hmm. New ones for Ellison and Sandburg. Must've broken their phones again. That probably makes ten or twelve for Ellison." Gibbs snickered at that. He looked at him. "Ellison is an action guy. Delicate electronic stuff annoys him and makes him think. Thinking is Sandburg's job." He got to Ryan's number. "Hmm, boyfriend. And a Horatio?"
"And a Speedle?"
"His coworker, he's with the Cascade team right now."
"Other coworker. Very cute and Cuban. Playboy of the year down there."
"Very interesting." He hit send when he got back to Ryan's name, listening. "Hi, Ryan." She shrieked and made a grab for the phone but he wasn't limping. "No, this is Stan. If you get her, you get me. That's fine. Fair warning, my man. Fair warning. Remember, I've been doing the undercovers I hate for years now. I used to be married to one of our bitchiest ADA's. If I have to, I can have her tell me what she wants to do to me and do it to you if you ever hurt her." He listened to the quiet words and nodded. "Good. I like that about you. I'll help her pack up and move. Your boss there? I could use a tan."
Ryan looked at the phone then around. "Nope, he's at another crime scene. Sorry, Stan. Can I have him call you?" He grinned. "Of course you have her phone. Sure. Is Helena coming too? I won't warn Greg then. See you soon. Pet the Chocolate for me and tell her I miss her and her mommy. Also, watch out for mommy's recent concussion." He hung up and called Horatio. "Incoming from her end of the world, another one who wants to switch, it's her little brother, kinda, and he's already threatened me," he said quickly then hung up, getting back to work.
Calleigh looked at him. "That was probably your shortest briefing ever, Ryan. I'm impressed." He grinned at that. "When is she coming down?"
"She's got to give fair warning and clear up some last few cases. Hopefully within the month. Hopefully without another injury." She smiled and nodded at that. "They caught their guy, I could hear Tony talking about it in the background. How they'd be doing paperwork for the rest of the day."
"Good! Can we go question him?"
"Probably not. Horatio might get to though." He shrugged and got back to work.
She smiled at him. It was so cute that he was in puppy love!
Horatio hung up and stared at his phone, making Eric laugh. "What did Wolfe want?" Eric called over.
"To warn me another call's coming from another detective wanting to come down here with Catherine." His phone rang again. "Caine." He listened to the hyper male voice. "Ryan said you'd call. You are?" He listened, blinking. His had been an associated file. "I'd be more than willing to talk to you about it, Stanley, and I don't see how you'd have to go undercover if you didn't want to. No, she's switching to homicide, she'll be working right beside my CSI lab." He smirked at his assertion he would be too. "If I can arrange it, Stanley. Definitely. Send me an email with your present salary and grade. I'll see what I can do to get your records and talk to my Chief. Thank you, Stanley." He hung up and smiled brightly. "Another one. He said Helena's going to Vegas." Eric bent over, snickering at that. "She's not that mean."
"Yes, she is. Oh, she so is," he laughed, sitting down on the sidewalk to laugh.
"What's so funny!" Frank complained as he rejoined them.
"We're getting not one, but possibly two new detectives to help you, Frank. The other of that trio of friends is going to bother Grissom in Las Vegas."
"Uh-huh. Do I know these people?"
"One's Wolfe's girlfriend," Eric laughed. "Booknerd, cats," he gasped, breaking out in new peals.
"Eric, the dead wait for no laughing man," Horatio said tolerantly, smiling at him. "They got them both and the one in Sunnydale earlier this morning."
"Great!" He smiled at him. "So, Wolfe's got a girlfriend?" Horatio smirked and nodded. "Is she cute?"
"Somewhat. She's a bit older," Horatio offered. "She's a sixteen year veteran of Vice." Frank hissed at that. "She's a very good officer and she's been instrumental in this case. Her, Sandburg, and Sanders. Plus she was down here before on a crossover with our Vice department, Frank." He smiled slightly and raised an eyebrow.
"They're perpetually cute," Eric said once he had calmed himself down and stood up again. He dusted himself off. "Sorry, H."
"That's all right. I can't imagine Catherine Willows dealing with Helena either," he assured him. "At least not for the first week." Eric snorted and nodded at that. "So, Frank, anything?"
"Mute, deaf, and dumb, like a trio of monkeys."
"Pity. Guess the evidence will have to speak for itself."
"Can I get Speed and make sure he comes back?" Eric begged.
"That's fine, Eric. He'll probably be coming back Friday."
"Thanks, H." He grinned at him. "It'll be good to have him back and normal again."
"You never know, he could bring Sandburg with him."
"He's small enough, he might be packable." Eric grinned at his joke.
"Yes, but Ellison would sniff him out," Horatio reminded him, patting him on the back.
"See, those two I've heard of," Frank complained. "Why is Speed in Cascade? And is he hating the rain?"
"A lot, Frank, a lot. He's got a pagan shrine set up to the sun." Frank snickered at that, batting him on the arm.
"Who's kidding? We got him back for a weekend and all he did was bask like a cat."
"You two are so bad," Frank complained, going to find more suspects for now. He didn't want to look at the victim this time.
Speed opened his door at the knock, frowning at his friend. "Why are you here?"
"I'm handcuffing you to make sure you get on the plane to come home." He pulled out his cuffs. "Come on."
"I'm almost done packing." He went into the bathroom to get his shaving and toiletry kit, coming back to pack it, letting Eric do a last search for him. He smiled and took the receipt from the little Chinese mothering woman who ran the motel. "Thank you. It was delightful to stay here," he said in her native language. "I learned a lot and you're an excellent cook. I'll miss your cooking." She tittered and kissed him on the cheek before going back to the office. He hefted his two bags. "Get my scene kit and the other one, Eric. Come on, I need sunlight." He walked down to Eric's rental. "You went all out."
"I wanted to drive one." He put down the scene case to open the trunk, letting him put the bigger things in first. "Does one of those have Sandburg?"
"No, he's flying down next weekend."
"Oh. That's good. He and Alexx can get together." He grinned at him, letting him get the other two bags too. "Go make sure you cleaned up." Speed sighed and went to do one last check, coming out with a t-shirt he had missed under his pillows. He handed back the room key, getting another cheek kiss and some food in a fabric package. He bowed and she giggled, swatting him, so he left, going out to the sports car. He slid in and looked in the package. "Ooh, she made me good food." He tucked it into his carry-on bag and looked at Eric. "No handcuffs needed. I need sun."
"Good." He started the car and checked around him, then backed out and sped off. They did get one speeding ticket but the guy recognized Speed and joked about him running from the rain and the pouting Ellison he was leaving behind, so it was all good.
Frank looked up as Speed's flight was called, grinning when Eric came off and got out of his line of sight. Speed walked off and lifted his face up to the sun, sighing in pleasure. "What? You didn't like the rain?"
"Hell. No. I liked some of the people. I hated the rain. No sun for weeks."
"Did he really have a shrine?"
"Yeah, it's packed in his carry-on," Eric agreed, grinning at him. "Come on, he's got two bags." Frank nodded, going to help gather them. "Let me guess, we rate a Hummer?"
"Yes you do. Horatio is looking forward to having you two back." He smiled at Speed. "Glad to be home?"
"I liked the motel's family. It was kinda nice. Sandburg's a great cook, even if he can lecture you on *everything*. I stopped it most usually by stuffing food in his mouth. Ellison is apparently pouting. I'll miss some of the lab crew too. They were pretty cool and their new boss is good. More like me and Horatio than uptight and like Grissom can be. Greg said he's a nice guy too."
"Does Sanders know *everyone*?" Eric asked.
"What's really scary is this guy used Greg and Gibbs' Abby as references, plus Ducky," he noted dryly, looking at him. "He came in looking like a former mortician or a hitman. All black suit, black shirt, black tie. Hat. I made a joke about that guy on the SVU show and he said he's his role model. The other guys decided he was cool and voted him in. I told the Chief, who was very happy that he had *real* lab credentials; he's getting a good crew." He grabbed the first of his bags, then the second one. Their carry-ons were on Eric's shoulders so it was all good. "You have my scene case, right?" Eric patted it. "Thanks." They walked out to the hummer and Speed sighed in pleasure when the full force of the sun hit him. "Ooh, thank you, Goddess Sun."
"I thought most sun gods were male," Eric said, looking confused.
"That's only among the Mediterranean cultures. Plenty more native tribes believe she's female because she gives life and nourishment. Most of the time as sister to Mother Earth. They work together very well to make the crops grow, the trees grow, and them healthy and sound."
"You spent way too much time with Sandburg," Eric sighed, shaking his head sadly. "Club tonight?"
"Blair and I did plenty of that, Eric." He smirked at him. "I got plenty of nice women there." He headed for the hummer he could see in police parking, smiling at Horatio. "You too?"
"No, I'm here to meet our two new detectives." He hugged him. "Welcome home."
"Good to be home. I'm still bringing Blair."
"Sure, if you want. I'm sure we can find a place for Ellison too." He gave him a pat on the back and let him go. "Go home, go lay on the beach, Speed. Start on Monday." That got a nod and Frank drug him off to his hummer. "You'll meet her Monday as well, Frank."
"Sure, Horatio. Thanks. Been wondering."
Eric and Speed both looked at him. "Don't have a preconceived notion," Speed offered. "Really, just don't."
"I told him she liked books, has cats, and is dating Wolfe."
"Yeah, that's a diabetic shock sort of cuteness there," he agreed dryly, getting into the front seat of the hummer. "Frank, he got a corvette as a rental in Cascade."
"It's a classic, the boy's got taste," he agreed happily. Their team was back together again and Horatio would quit being so tense.
Horatio looked at Catherine as she limped off. "You could've waited until you were healthy."
"Not my fault the patrol guy tripped and had his gun go off accidentally," she said bitterly, kissing him on the cheek. "No Ryan?"
"No and he's on-call this weekend so it'll be tonight. Sorry, the schedule was set so Eric could make sure Speed came home." He smiled and nodded at Stan, who had his hands full of howling things in two cages. "I see they didn't make tranquilizers?"
"Didn't last long enough," Stan offered. He let Horatio have the heavier one. "That's Blair and Nessa. I've got the three other girls. Her place?"
"All set up and her spare room can hold you, Stan. At least until you can find somewhere." He walked them to the baggage claim. "Anything?"
"One bag," he admitted, going to grab it. He heard the growling start and looked inside. "Do not start, Xander! I mean it!" He looked at the drug dog. "Back her off, officer. I've got cats."
"She's friendly," he promised.
"The cats aren't." That got a laugh and the dog sniffed them but moved on. It looked at Catherine and sat down. Stan groaned. "She's a Vice officer. She busted open a drug ring last night and got shot during it."
"I showered off the stuff I fell into." She smiled at him. "You can search me if you want. I don't like drugs. I like to hurt people who sell drugs." She handed Horatio her crutches and knelt on the floor in front of the dog. "Do the front first, then the cast. That's the most likely source." He nodded, getting the dog up to sniff her, then her cast, which did get hit on. The dog sniffed her neck then looked at his master again. She got helped up. "One of our patrol officers so thoughtfully tripped, pushed me onto the counting table, and then his gun went off accidentally." He moaned. "I'd offer to let you strip search me, but I'm kinda taken."
He smiled. "That's fine, Detective?" She nodded, producing her old ID. He looked at Horatio, who nodded. "I'll leave it in his hands. If he finds something he can do the paperwork and spank you."
"I'm sure he'll try," she promised with a naughty grin. He laughed and moved on. "Have a better day officer, and you too, poochie."
Horatio handed back her crutches. "Was he arrested?"
"And beaten," Stan offered as he came back. "My fist slipped just as much as his gun did." Horatio nodded, accepting that. "It was covering her. They were doing a cut. I'm not shocked."
"The cast is coming off tonight anyway. It's not like it's broken, they put it on because they said I was too stubborn to stay off the sprain."
"You'll do what you're ordered to do by reasonable medical professionals, or I'm telling Mr. Wolfe," Horatio said calmly, walking them out. He looked at the shifting cats. "We're nearly at the hummer. Calm down." It meowed pitifully. "I know. We're nearly there, cat."
She looked. "The big one is Blair, the little one is Nessa."
"The others are Xander, Chocolate, and Oz. Oz is the darker small one. Chocolate's the lighter small one. Xander's just big and loud." Xander let out another howl of misery. "See?" Horatio laughed at that. "So, everything's set up?"
"Yes, the moving fairies helped immensely. Though your neighbors are probably wondering why they always wore their helmets, even inside." He looked at her.
"They're nice guys who took two grand, gas and truck money, and cookies and hotdogs to move me."
"You paid them in hotdogs?"
"They love hotdogs. That's about all they eat."
He rolled his eyes. "Thankfully you eat better than that." She smacked him on the arm, earning a smile. "You just missed Frank. He was picking up Eric and Speed."
"That's fine, you can send Alexx next weekend to pick up Blair for him." She grinned as they walked outside, lifting her face up. "Sunlight's nice sometimes. I'll have to get used to daylight again."
"We'll reset your biological clock by letting Wolfe wear you out for a few nights in a row," Stan offered dryly, smirking at her. "As long as I get to threaten him in person first."
"Sure." She smiled at Horatio. "Car?"
"Hummer, Catherine. Hummer. I drive nothing else." They chuckled and followed him.
Ryan knocked and was let into the new apartment later that evening, still early. He looked at the blond man standing there. "I'm assuming you're Stan?" He nodded, shutting the door and shaking his head, nodding at the bedroom. "She's asleep?"
"Comforting the loud brats. We've got the baby gate up." Ryan nodded, heading to check on her first. It was a good sign. Stan went back to making coffee and smarties, his speciality, and brought in two plain ones for them. He flopped down next to Blair, stroking his back. "Hey, pumpkin. You good now?" He purred and put his head back down, content for the moment.
"Where is the litter box going after tonight?" Ryan asked quietly, kissing her again.
"One in the bathroom, one in the hall closet." He nodded, going to do that and let the cats out. They all stayed but this way they could get curious. He smiled and sat down next to her, stroking through her hair. "I missed you too."
"Good. Eric told me I was a miserable prick this week." She laughed at that. "What happened to your foot? Horatio warned me you'd be taking your cast off already."
Stan looked at her, then at Ryan. "More like she was tripped by one of the patrol guys going to bust with her last night at a dealer's place." He sipped his coffee, noticing the cold stare. "She's fine. A slight graze, a sprained ankle. The cast was because she doesn't listen."
"Remember how I said I'd be checking for injuries?" Ryan asked her. She swallowed and nodded. He kissed her and moved to check her for injuries, which drove Stan and the cats, mostly, off. Blair huffed and gave them more of the bed. It was the comfiest of sleeping spots and it was nice and new. "You left the old bed?"
"Didn't want to move that piece of trash I had." She kissed him again. "I'm fine. I'll be working Monday morning."
"Good." He kissed her again, running a hand up her side. "Want to order dinner now or later?"
"Already did, it's in the fridge getting cold as all Chinese food should be." He grinned at that and took another kiss. Stan came in to move the litter boxes but they didn't notice. He rolled his eyes at the perpetual cuteness, not able to stand it anymore. It was going to make him mushy and coo. He couldn't stand it when he went mushy and cooed. He let the cats lead him around the apartment, then to his bedroom, where he removed Chocolate before she could do something. "Tough, bitch, get used to Miami. She likes it here, it's warm here. You might even get to go outside onto the balcony now and then." He walked her into the bathroom and shut her in there, then went back to his bed to make sure she hadn't done anything. Not even a spot so he was good.
Ryan's head popped up at the pitiful meowing and scratching. "Sounds like Chocolate's stuck."
"More like Stan caught her starting to pee on something and put her in the bathroom by herself again."
"Ah. Well, time outs work for some toddlers."
"Not for her, but we'll be fine." She took another kiss and went to search for injuries on his body, finding a few ticklish spots, a paper cut, and a bellybutton that made him howl in laughter when she played with it.
"I'll be outta your hair within two weeks," Stan called. "Before I get married again."
They laughed, it was good to inspire others.
Catherine strolled into work Monday morning. Dress pants, leather bustier, dress jacket. She smiled at Horatio when she ran into him. "Do I look okay?"
"Can you run in that?"
"I have many times."
"Then that's fine. Did he tighten that for you?"
"No, Stan did. He's behind me somewhere. I rode the bike in and he drove his car."
"That's fine." He smiled as Stan joined them, nodding at his outfit of choice. Colored jeans and a nice shirt worked for him for a first day. He led them to their coworkers, watching their reactions. "May I introduce Catherine Demoranth, Detective Third Grade, and Detective Stan Kowalski, Detective Second Grade, both from Chicago's Vice department."
"Man, Wolfe has taste," Frank said, then shook his head. "Sorry."
She laughed. "I dressed to impress this morning, Frank. But I have heard all about you from Eric and Ryan." She shook his hand then the woman's. "Hi. Catherine."
"Horatio's former sister-in-law," Frank shared, shaking Stan's hand. "You've got cat fur."
"I'm staying with her and she's got five," he admitted, grinning at him. "I don't do the suit thing very well."
"You're within dress code, don't worry about it," Frank promised with a smirk. "We dress up so we don't look like slobs next ta Horatio." Horatio smirked at that. "So, why did you come down, Stan? Needing sun? The same problems she had? Eric said she had some problem with some of the cops up there wrecking crime scenes on her."
"I'm her might-as-well-be little brother. There's some big brothers but they're shy and stay out of the spotlight and out of most police stations."
"That happens. Anyone else coming?"
"Nah, Helena's starting in Vegas tonight," Stan said with a wicked smirk, making Yelina laugh at that. "Met Helena have you?"
"No, but I've heard of her and what happened to her." She looked at Catherine. "That would make you their Bitch Queen of Death." She smirked and nodded, leaning on a wall. "Sit. Please. You look tired."
"Bad bust right before we came down." She pulled over a chair and sat. "Am I dressed okay?"
"As long as you don't care that others will stare at your chest, it's fine with me," Yelina admitted. "Would Ryan mind?" she asked with a faint smile.
"I'll know about lunch time. He's off today. He's bringing me something to eat. Oh, I should note this." She pushed up her medic alert bracelet. "I'm diabetic and I have drug allergies. Newly diabetic. I tend to overcompensate." They both nodded at that. "Which is why Horatio turns into Mother Hen, Eric helps, and Ryan takes muffins out of my hand at breakfast."
"This morning he gave them back after taking a kiss," Stan reminded her. "He promised he'd never take food from you again, Cat."
She looked at him. "I'm still not small, furry, and meowing pitifully at Ryan about the mommy being gone. I'm the mommy of the pack."
"I noticed that. Hopefully Chocolate behaves for him."
"You closed your bedroom door, I closed mine," she reminded him. She looked at them. "One of my cats has issues with getting pissed at me and making it known on the bed."
"Cats can do that, so can sons. I have one of those. A teenager," Yelina sighed.
"He's not that bad, Yelina," Horatio offered. "I'll let you work out how to get them used to the city and the local department." He walked off, still smiling. It had been a good decision to bring them down and recruit them.
Yelina looked at Stan. "Can you work with other females or just her?"
"Usually, our department hasn't had partners. In years really. Budget cuts." She groaned at that. He nodded. "Yeah, that's how she kept having problems with the patrol guys." He leaned back, looking at Frank. "I don't care either way. We're good on pulling our own weight and all that. She clears faster and I'll be damned if I'm doing another undercover this century."
Frank nodded. "Then we'll start out as mixed pairs. Change if we get more than one each today, or tomorrow." He nodded a patrol guy over. "Jessop!" He came over, looking attentive. "These are Detectives Demoranth and Kowalski," he said, pointing at them. "Treat them well, they're down from Chicago's Vice department. Horatio used the serial killer thing to recruit."
"I'll spread that around, Detective." He smiled at them. "Welcome to Miami. We're not judgmental like they are up there. I could care less who dates who, ma'am." He winked at her. "Your lab techs called our lab techs to warn them and it got spread that way." He walked off, going to spread it further. She was kind of pretty and made Wolfe happy. That's all that really mattered.
She smiled at Frank. "I'll bring the car tomorrow so I can learn the streets, but I brought the bike today."
"You ride?" Frank asked.
"Very well," she agreed happily.
Stan coughed. "Let's not go there."
"Your dirty mind is even worse than mine," she complained, swatting him on the arm. "Next time, don't listen."
"Kinda hard not to, I had to tell the cops it was sex and drive 'em off," Stan complained back. "Next time, buy him a damn gag, Cat."
She stared at him. "Who said it was him?" Stan blushed bright red at that so she smirked. "He's good, what can I say?" She stood up. "Anything yet?"
"Soon," Yelina promised. "Don't rush them. Give the weekend stupidity time to calm down and let them have the time to dump the bodies. We'll be called very soon. Do you have local cellphones?"
"Ryan arranged them," Stan agreed, pulling his out. "We came down to them already programmed with all the better numbers, including three Chinese places and two good pizza places. Plus an Italian place that didn't deliver but apparently was good enough to drop in on the way home." They smiled at that. "He's probably still got the cats in his lap."
Horatio walked past them. "Someone forgot to turn on their phone, Yelina."
"Crap. Where?" She stood up and grabbed everything she'd need, taking Stan with her. They could follow Horatio if need be.
Frank checked his, then shrugged. "Mine's on." She snickered at that. "So, Vice. Drugs, pros, and gambling?"
"Drugs, pros, and clubs. My early career was a lot of ho strolls and a lot of busting in clubs."
He sat up straight. "You're the one from the salsa dancing thing. Horatio said you'd been down here before on a case." She smirked and nodded. "Your whole career that way?"
"No, in the last eight it's been more threatening, running, shooting, being alone, a lot of paperwork. Things like that." Her phone rang and she answered it. "Demoranth." She smiled. "Em. How do you like it?" Her sister squealed and babbled at her. "Yeah, I thought you'd like that. I'll be over this weekend, Em. Five sleeps, okay?" She squealed again. "With a visitor and if I can sneak Blair in I will." Helga took the phone and told her her sister was excited and happy, especially about the pool and the woods. "That's good. I thought she might like that place. It came highly recommended. Sure, this weekend and I'm bringing someone to meet her." She smiled. "And Blair if I can sneak him in." She grinned. "Thanks, Helga. No, I'm at work. Yup, days now. That's me. Thanks." She hung up. "Sorry, my sister's in long-term care."
"Not an issue. Crash?"
"Someone shot mother." He winced and hissed. "Exactly." She stood up when his phone rang.
"Jumpy," he teased. He answered it. "Tripp." He wrote down the address. "Have me and Demoranth there. She's on a call with Kowalski. Yeah, new detectives, just transferred down. Ask Jessop for the gossip." He hung up and handed her the address. "Come on, let's go." He grabbed his jacket and followed her outside, then led the way to his car. "What do you normally drive?"
He stared at her. "I can't imagine you as a pimp, I'm sorry."
She smirked. "You never saw me when I was single and dating women, Frank." He blushed at that and she punched him on the arm. "You'll learn, it'll be okay." He shook his head but let her in and got in to drive.
Ryan parked her car and got out, staring at it. "I can't believe she wanted me to drive that." He walked inside, bringing her her lunch. He found her doing paperwork and kissed her on the cheek. "Hi. I brought your car like you asked."
"Thank you." She looked around then gave him a proper kiss. "The lunch I needed," she said with a wink. "How are the meowing babies?"
"Good. I went to the store earlier and they mobbed me when I came back but this time it wasn't so much a fight to get out the door. How's your day been?" he asked, leaning on the corner of her desk.
"Already had one body, and one guy running from said body. Pounced him, scraped my hand." She showed him. He looked it over, then kissed it, making her grin.
"Enough," Frank complained. "You two are cutesy. Way too cute to be real."
"Shut up, Frank. He brought my car too. We can take the comfortable thing."
Ryan looked at him. "You have to see her car to believe it. She drove something more sedate most of the time on the job, but that one broke down with the shot engine." He looked at her. "Does that mean I get to ride your bike back?"
"Think you can handle it?"
"I did some time on a bike in patrol." He stole another kiss and winked. "I'm going to check on my last case. You eat." She nodded, digging into the lunch he had made her. He smirked at Frank. "You knew it'd take someone special to be with me, Tripp. Didn't realize she was that special?" He walked off smirking. He came back and looked at her outfit, then at her. "Can I dress you tomorrow?" She shook her head. "Shoot." He walked off, pouting just a bit.
Eric looked out of his lab at him. "Let me guess, you saw the leather top?" he called.
"Yup. She won't let me dress her. Oh, I had to drive her caddy over. I'm taking her bike home." Speed came out of his lab. "She rode her bike in and Frank wanted to use her car."
"She brought her caddy?" he complained. Tony had told them all about the caddy and her prettier Lexus. "What happened to the Silver Lexus?"
"Someone thoughtfully shot her engine. That's why she went in to bust that drug house."
He shuddered. "If Frank Tripp can ride in the pimpmobile, more power to him, man," he decided, going back to work. "Horatio's in a meeting."
"I came to check on my case." Besides, the caddy had makeout possibilities for after work.
Stan came in and right to the cause of his discontent. "You had Ryan drive over the caddy?"
"Yup." She licked her fingers and grinned at him. "I was going to let him drive me around later."
"Uh-huh. Going to the beach to make out?"
"You complained." He grunted, that was true, he had complained. He sat down and shook his head, then went to find the snack machines and the coffee machine with Yelina's help.
"Do I wanna worry?" Frank asked.
"You shouldn't. It's a very nice caddy."
"Uh-huh." He went out to look. There was only one in the lot and a lot of officers were gathered around it. "The owner used to be in Vice, guys. Demoranth drives that and her bike." He looked inside. Black leather with black velvet seat covers. Baby blue exterior. He called inside, getting her. "Can I turn on the stereo?" Her 'Ryan probably turned it down' was a good sign. "You hung with the wrong crowd in Chicago, woman." He hung up and turned on the radio briefly, then groaned and turned it off, heading back inside. "No way in hell I'm taking that on a scene, Demoranth."
"I thought it was cute," Yelina offered, smiling at him. He gave her an odd look. "She was in Vice, Frank. She had to fit into those sort of places."
"No, the rappers hated me," Catherine assured them. "I'm way too pale for the rap scene. They said so." She finished her sandwich and wiped her fingers off, sipping her diet soda with a grimace. "I hate diet."
"Maybe you can go back down to where your diet alone is doing it, Catherine," he offered. He looked at Stan as he came back. "You don't have one of those, right?" He shuddered and shook his head. "What do you drive?"
"Pretty black GTO."
"Ah. Good! If we get another one, we'll take your car." Stan smiled at that, mixing his smarties into his coffee. Frank gaped. "How can you drink that?"
"Easily. It's my sugar and caffeine fix."
Catherine looked at him. "Never drink after him. It's a bad thing and he pouts if you take his special coffee." He nodded at that.
"What did you add?" Yelina asked.
She shuddered. "You're worse than my son. I should tell Alexx on you."
He grinned at her. "She single?" She shook her head. "Then don't bother. I don't do mothering very well." He finished stirring and took a drink, sighing in pleasure. "Better. Now I've got my sugar rush for the moment." Catherine threw a balled up napkin at him. "Sorry, I know, not around you." She nodded, finishing her soda and tossing everything. "So, Yelina, questioning people?"
"We usually go out with the CSI." He stared in horror. "What?"
"We don't do footwork?"
"We do plenty," Frank assured him. "We just do it when they tell us who to bug the shit outta." Stan was mollified by that. "Finish up, they'll be done with their first run of tests soon." Stan gulped his coffee and logged onto his computer, finding where everything was. Catherine had already done that, he was sure.
Yelina and Frank shared a look. It definitely wasn't going to be any less boring in Miami.
Helena walked into the precinct her first night, stopping at the front desk. "Hi, I'm new." The receptionist smiled and dug out her packet. "Nichols." That got a nod and her ID and badge were handed over. "Thank you, sweetie. Brass?"
"His office is first down this second hallway," she said, pointing at it. She looked her over. "The locker room is down that same hallway, all the way at the end, and take a right." Helena smiled and nodded, going to put her helmet and jacket up. It was a wise idea. She even pulled out her nicer shirt and put it on over her tanktop. It was black silk and went well with her black jeans and black boots. Greg came in and stared, then walked over to hug her. "Aww, you poor baby, did you miss me even though you don't know me?"
"I love individualists. They're my favorite people and I was all alone here until you came." He grinned at her. "Greg Sanders."
Helena smiled at him. "I was told to take you and mold you in my esteemed image, baby. Helena Nichols." He beamed at that. "Catherine said you were smarter than her and more geeky but that's okay. I'm used to her." He laughed and opened his locker. "Good enough?"
"I'd pull your hair back. It's going to be a windy night."
"Good idea." She smoothed it back and put it into a ponytail, then closed her locker, looking at him. "We're all good but don't let my man catch you groping. He is a shoot first and then growl later sort. I've already told him I was offered you as my mentoree." She pinched him on the ass, making him yelp and her smirk. "Not quite champion reflexes yet. We'll work on that." She walked out, walking past the guys standing out there.
"I thought you were threatening, not actually coming," Warrick called without having to look. He had heard she was there and knew the sound of biker boots with metal taps.
"Not like I'd stay there without her and Stan. Horatio recommended and Cat said to watch Greg for her." She walked into Brass's office, watching him look her over. "Do I do good enough for a first night?"
"I wondered who the bike belonged to." He smirked at her, standing up. "Jim Brass," he said, shaking her hand.
"Can you run, jump, play, and climb in those?" She nodded. "Then you're fine. Let me page Grissom so you can get to know his crew. We're their pet detectives."
"I'll miss Stan, he would've made a bad joke there."
Brass smiled. "It happens to the best of us. Now you've got Sanders."
"Cat said I should mentor him."
"Fine with me. His practical, cop side, education is a bit behind. He's new into the field."
"That's good." She smiled at the blonde woman leaning in. "Hi, Helena Nichols."
"Sophia," she said, shaking her hand. "Do you go by Helena?" She nodded. "That's fine. You might want to move your bike, it's in the way of the ME's van and he's got a handicap accessible one."
"Sure." She walked out with her, smiling at the older guy standing there. "Didn't know, Doc, I'm sorry."
"That's all right. Can you give me an extra foot?" She nodded, getting on and backing her bike up, then walking it forward on the other side of the parking spot. "Thank you, dear." He climbed out and closed the door. "I'm Doc Robbins."
"Helena Nichols." She shook his hand and took his arm to walk back inside with him. "I know I'm doing homicide so I'm sure Sophia, Brass, and I see a lot of you?" she asked, looking at Sophia, who nodded. "Relax, people, I'm very taken. He's not in town right now but I'm very taken." They smiled at that little lie. He wasn't in to work so they didn't have to know. "I'm all play and happiness until someone shoots at me and then I'm going to hurt someone." She smiled sweetly. "We spent a long time in Chicago."
The doc looked down at her. "You're their Angel of Mercy," he said quietly. She nodded once, smirking at him. "Where's your other two-thirds?"
"Miami. Working with Horatio." He smirked back and she let him go, waving for him to proceed them. "There you go, Doc. Safe and sound. I always let the pretty go first." He laughed as he walked off. She looked at Sophia. "I don't normally hit on women but you can go first if you want. I'm lost already." Sophia looked like she wasn't quite sure if she should laugh or not. "Yes, I was teasing. I'm like that. I learned from Cat Demoranth."
"Her I've heard of. Where is she now?"
"Miami. With Horatio." They walked back into Brass's office together, finding another semi-older guy in there. "Oooh, more candy, Brass?"
"Yup, this is the other boss. Gil Grissom, this is your new detective, Helena Nichols." She shook his hand. "Formerly of Violent Crimes. She's the one I had the word with you about her boyfriend."
"That's fine. Are you the reason Greg's humming?"
"Probably. We recognized each other as strong individualists and I told him that Cat told me to mentor him. Also," she said, pulling an envelope out of her back pocket and handing it over. "From my former boss, he who hurls thanks to losing three of his best."
Grissom opened it and smiled at the praise for his CSIs. "Thank you. I'll make sure a copy gets to him and into his file." He tucked it against the file he was carrying. "Do many homicides?"
"Unfortunately not. I did a lot more homicides that happened as an oops during a robbery or a kidnaping."
"Not much different," Brass promised. "Only less clear cut in reasoning sometimes."
"That works for me. And just think, all the kitty fur went to Miami." Grissom laughed at that. "Warrick have to lint roll?"
"Twice. Our Catherine is slightly allergic." She nodded at that. "I'll warn her you were in close proximity to the same source. Want a tour of the lab?"
"Sure, that way I don't get lost again. I made Sophia confused when I teased her."
"It's not often I'm sure if women are hitting on me or not," she admitted, sitting down. Helena just smirked as she walked out. "Ten bucks on Hodges taking one look at her and snorting in disgust."
"He'll run," Brass said. "No bet, I have inside information."
Grissom walked her around the lab, showing her where the necessary things were. "And this is our Trace lab, with our CSI Greg, who you know, and David Hodges, our Trace tech.
"Davy," she cooed, walking in to hug him. He yelped and backed away from her. "I promise I won't have to spank you this time." He whimpered. "Poor baby, and I just moved here too." She gave him a careful hug. "It's all right. You'll calm down soon."
"Shoot me?" he begged.
"You're not a bad mafia guy, Davy. It's not gonna happen." He gave her a pathetic look. "It's all right. Cat's got a boy in Miami, a Ryan, who her cats adore. You only have me and Cat told me to mentor Greg."
Hodges glared at Greg. "You will listen to her in the field, Sanders, she'll make sure you come home alive, even if it is against the rules. Just don't turn into her." He looked at her again. "You're making me feel unmanly again."
"I always considered bigger brains to mean more manly. So you and Greg are right up there with Jigen for me, baby. Now, are we good again?" He nodded, swallowing. "Good." She smiled. "Go for a ride after work?"
"Hell no, woman! Out!" She hugged him again and walked out with a punch to Greg's arm. "You could've warned me, Sanders!"
"I didn't know you were going to have a fight or flight response, Hodges. Geez, what was that?"
"She and Catherine came out on a case to LA. I was new in the lab."
"Ah. I remember how things were when you first started," he agreed fondly. "I was so confused. I kept getting lost."
"You probably kept walking into the women's bathroom on purpose."
"Well, yeah, but how did you hear about that?" David just gaped. He smirked. "Tit for tat, Davy."
"Don't call me that."
"You run I'm letting her chase you."
He pouted. "That's mean."
"I know. But I'm a good boy *most* of the time." He smirked. "What can I say? I worked with Sandburg and Cat on that serial case."
"And you got a letter of praise," Helena called as they walked past again. "Sorry, Dave."
"Not a problem, don't do it again!" He glared at him. "Go away."
"You have my test results."
He handed them over. "There, now go away!" Greg nodded, walking out, still humming happily. Hodges sat down and held his head, jumping when someone knocked on his door. "Nick. Sorry."
"Who is that?"
"Helena Nichols. Chicago. I met her on a crossover case, no I'm not telling you, she won't give you any information either, and she's trying to warp Greg from what Cat and she are doing." He handed over a sheet of papers. "Go."
"Sure. Are you all right? Need some aspirin or something?" He shook his head, so Nick went down the hall to ballistics. "Hey, Bobby?" He looked over and smiled. "Can you keep an eye on Hodges? He's jumpy and snappy. The new girl spooked him."
"What new girl?"
She leaned in behind Nick's back and waved. "Hi, I'm Helena, new pet detective."
"You're Jigen's Girl," Bobby said in awe. She smirked and nodded, winking at him, then she walked off again. "Wow, she's a great detective. Had to fight to get her badge back from being undercover so long. You'll like working with her. She's very straightforward and the one you want at your back in a shootout, Nick."
"Good to know." He went to track her down and introduce himself. "Hi, Nick Stokes," he said, catching up to her in the break room.
She grinned and held out her hand so he could shake it. "Helena Nichols."
He grinned. "I have heard of you."
"You should have, your father did one of the cases that toasted my department."
He nodded. "That's what I remember. You going to be okay?"
"Yeah, I'm just looking for the dark goddess caffeine." She hit a button on the soda machine. "Brass said I'm going out with him tonight to learn the town." She looked at him. "If you come across anything Lupin related, you don't know me, you don't talk to me, and you sure as hell don't come to me about the case. Unless you're checking to see that they didn't do it." He nodded slowly at that. "I'm dating one of them."
"That makes more sense with Bobby's comment. Okay." He nodded, grinning again. "We can put a Chinese wall up if something like that happens. You all settled in?"
"Yeah, I had a moving crew of slaves." She sipped her soda, making him laugh. "Who said I'm kidding? The guys owed Lupin their life, he had me moved." She smirked and walked off, heading back to Brass's office. "I talked with Nick. Laid down the law about Lupin and that stuff."
"Good. I've made a note in your profile to keep you out of anything related to him." He looked at her, then at the soda. "You might want to stick to water and coffee."
"Too hot for coffee." Someone walked into the room, handing her a large box. "Danka. Tip?" He shook his head, then bowed and walked out, going away. She put her soda on the desk and opened them. "Awwww. He sent me roses." She held one up, sniffing it. "Even black ones. One of my former contacts is going to be toasty by morning." She took a picture of them, then of the card, sending them both to her apartment and her boyfriend, who was lounging around. She looked inside, finding a second card. "Hmm." She sniffed it, then shook it, hearing the hiss. "Know anyone who wants a baby snake?"
"Grissom does bugs. He might have a spare cage." He picked up her soda, walking her that way. "Grissom, do you have a spare cage? Someone just sent her a baby snake in an envelope." That got a long blink then one was pointed at. She pulled out a bootknife and carefully slit open the package, dumping the snake before it could strike. "What is that?"
"A baby asp. They're very poisonous." She grinned at him. "They had good taste in snakes." She walked back to Greg's area, smiling at him, handing him the flowers. "One of my former admirers and adversaries thought I needed roses and I hate getting flowers. Have some."
"Ooh, black roses. Thank you." He kissed her on the cheek. "Need the card?"
"No but if you find any other baby asps, they can join the first one in the boss's office."
"Sure." He went to check them carefully then arrange them in his workspace of the day.
Warrick looked at them then at Greg. "Who sent you *black* roses?"
"Some people like black roses," he defended. "Can you really see me getting pink or white or red ones? Well, some red ones are better than others, but not usually." He shook his head. "I got them from Helena. She hates flowers and they came as a threat. They also sent her a baby asp." He finished arranging them in the vase and handed over the box and card. "We should probably fingerprint that since it was a threat."
"Sure," Warrick agreed. "I should be used to this by now," he complained.
"No, it usually takes longer to assimilate someone fully, Warrick. It was only a few months. You probably got out in time if you can see this as slightly abnormal. Or else we'd have you driving Catherine's pimpmobile."
Warrick shuddered. "That's just a bad image, Greg. Nearly as bad as Ryan driving it." He shuddered and went to get the gear to fume the box and card for fingerprints. It was the least he could do, send the information back.
Greg cackled once he was alone. "I will be the Catherine Demoranth of my generation!" he said proudly. Then he looked around and calmed down his mirth in case someone might hear it and try to stop him.