Greg stumbled in the next morning, giving Horatio a very bleary look. "Coffee?" He pointed. "Bless you, you saint you." He went to stare and sniff the pot, then snorted and poured it out, making some of the stuff he pulled out his pocket.
Eric gave him an odd look. "I make good coffee."
"I drink Blue Hawaiian, Eric."
"Never mind." Ryan stumbled in. "Long night? Is that a chimp on you?" Greg looked then nodded. "Yours?" he asked hesitantly. Greg beamed and nodded. Juliette cheeped at him so he went back to making coffee while Ryan leaned his head on the counter. "No rabbits, right?"
"She's hopping around the deluxe bunny ship today," Greg promised. "She'll come to the bike demo later." He tapped his foot while the caffeine started to drip, smiling when its aroma filled his nose. "That's good coffee."
Ryan looked at him. "I couldn't get the flavors right on the potion."
"I know but it was decent. Starbucks decent." He patted him on the head, then petted his poor sleepy chimp. "It's all right. You can play with George later tonight." He poured them both mugs. "I'd share but it'll be gone in a few minutes." He sucked his first cup down, going to his second within a few inhales. Ryan did it slower but he had a second cup too, straightening up after that. They split the bottom of the pot together and finished it with sighs of pleasure. "Okay, now you can go back to your mediocre coffee." He walked Ryan out. "Horatio, want me to help Ryan? Or should I go blow up the other lab for a bit? We got some *wonderful* ideas from the tequila."
"No, I'd rather you and Juliette went to have a nap, Greg. I know you work nights."
"I'm a field CSI now, Horatio. I supposedly work nights. The same way you guys supposedly work days."
He smiled. "Still, you should probably rest up for the demonstration later."
Greg grinned. "We created a new pheromone complex. The ladies are going to be a bit late." He walked off happier, going to find someone to give him the tour. He ran into a detective and grinned. "Hi, CSI Sanders from Las Vegas."
"Is that your evil pet?"
"She is. This is Juliette. She's a therapy chimp." He let her be seen. "She's a bit sleepy."
"Went to work just now, Detective. Does he often goof off?"
"No, but we're worried about his mental state."
"Well, last night we started on something to help with scent memory recall issues and then we got kinda drunk and created a new pheromone solution so Ryan could get a really hot chick or six or seven of his own. He needs a harem to round out the evil genius image."
"They'd drive him nuts," Speed said from behind him. "Hi, Juliette." She waved at him, then went back to clinging to her father's neck. Greg pulled her around, cradling her in his arms so he could pet her stomach. "Awww."
"It's her favorite sleepy position." He grinned. "Show me around? Horatio wanted me to take a nap."
"Now and then we all get that order from him," Speed admitted. "I'm off today so why not. This is Detective Tripp. He's very scenic."
"He is. Thank you for making sure I'm still sane too, Detective." He walked off with Speed, going to take the real tour. He waved at his DNA counterparts and then peeked in on Alexx, who smiled and hugged him. Then Speed took him off to go play since he had the day off. "The demo's going to be a bit late. He and I got to work on my newest creation, which is a pheromone spray."
Speed looked at him. "I got a call from the grunting and moaning society. Did you let it loose?"
"No, DiNozzo wanted to test the coffee solution. So Ryan made him some to go home with while I tinkered and then Ryan built something to help with the sprayer for the pheromones. Then we built a super bomb for it. Plant it on any campus and instant orgy," he admitted happily. "Or on Ryan that way he can have evil genius mojo with the ladies."
"He could use it." He shook his head. "Come on, we'll let them work. Though I should probably warn Calleigh."
"We showered with the neutralizer."
"Even better." He took them with him to play in the sunshine. Greg did have a fine appreciation for the female form. Plenty of those forms even came over to coo at Juliette, who only gave sleepy waves until the one she tried to cuddle and got a bit frisky. It was like she was a miniature Eric or something.
Ryan looked at the defense attorney, frowning some. "Excuse me?"
"Do you believe in dragons, Officer Wolfe?" he repeated then smirked.
Ryan cleared his throat and shook his head. "Being scientific means that I don't believe in or not believe in anything unless I have the proof of it's existence or unreality. That is part of having an open, scientific mind. Though I have *no* idea what it has to do with a double rape and homicide case."
"I'm asking the questions here."
"Then please ask ones that are relevant."
The lawyer sneered at him. "It was told to us that you had some ...non-standard beliefs."
"Of?" Ryan asked calmly.
"Dragons. That you're an evil genius?"
"Actually, I am a genius. I call myself an evil one when I'm working in my other lab. It's an in-joke among me and my friends."
"Yet you bought what you call an evil genius pet?"
Ryan smirked. "Every genius needs a pet. Besides it's good stress relief."
Ryan leaned forward. "I have OCD," he said slowly and clearly. "Normal pets would drive me insane and I'd never make it out of the house to go to work. Rabbits are uncomplicated, they can use a litter box, and they don't need constant care." He leaned back again. "It's a soothing and calming pet."
"Yet you call her... It is a her, correct?"
"George? Yes. She's a female. She was named by the three kids who helped me pick her out. She's a shorthair pygmy rabbit. She's white. She's over her small bout of fleas she got from a friend and coworker's ferrets. Why? Again, her being an evil genius pet would be an in-joke among my friends," he finished blandly.
"Have you ever created anything?"
"Yes, a few things."
"In a lab," he said facetiously.
"The crime lab?"
"No, though I did come up with a good idea there recently. It led to a super coffee solution so you don't have to drink the whole pot to wake up. I added vitamins to it as well. I live on the stuff first thing in the morning," he finished blandly. The lawyer glared. "Why? Did you want to test some?"
"Watch your tone," the judge warned. "Though I do not see the relevance?"
"We are looking at his credibility here, Your Honor," the defense attorney assured her. "How can someone who believes in things like dragons be a reputable, well trained crime scene investigator?"
"I didn't say I believed in dragons. I said until I had scientific proof in front of me I was withholding judgement, as is proper for a good scientist to do. That is part of being a scientist with an open mind." He shifted. "Ow, sorry, banged my foot on the wall. I still don't see whether or not I have a belief in dragons has any bearing on my work at the lab. It's not like I drag a stuffed one around with me to scenes or anything."
"This other lab you work at?" he demanded, crossing his arms, staring him down. "Where is it?"
"Where is it, as in what company is it?" he demanded.
"Classified." The judge and lawyer gaped. "I'm sorry but I signed a confidentiality agreement with them. I have a federal security clearance because of some of my work with them. While I might like to talk about my new coffee solution I can't divulge anything about the lab, their protocols, or what else I'm working on. I don't want to be arrested in the middle of the night by some very unhappy federal agents. It also has nothing to do with this double rape and homicide since the two labs in my life don't really coincide."
"They're doing test equipment for your lab?"
Ryan sat there staring at him. "I could've sworn I just said I signed a confidentiality agreement. One that can have me arrested if I break it. I'm not doing that for this case. If I did, you'd have ammunition to discredit me. If I don't, all you can do is ask more pointless questions." The judge coughed. "Sorry, Your Honor, but they really do not have any bearing on this case." He looked at her. "There's nothing going on there that would point to my skills as a CSI or as a forensic scientist."
"We are not going to participate in breaking federal laws in this courtroom," she ordered. "Move on, Counselor."
"Your Honor, this is directly related to his credibility. How would we know what sort of scientist he is without knowing what he does there?"
"It has no bearing on my work at the crime lab," Ryan told him. "Except when I double dosed on my coffee solution a few times after a long night, and this case came well before I invented it."
A woman walked in, glaring at the judge. "Your Honor, I'm Officer Wolfe's personal counsel, SuBeth Alander." she said firmly. "I'm advising him to stick to his confidentiality agreement as we do not need him to be arrested for breaking federal matters of secrecy." She presented the bailiff her credentials.
The Judge looked at them then at her. "Just his?"
"His and the lab's. He trusts us to watch his back."
"I see. Why are you late?"
"We had to hear this was going to happen from him."
"He has a recorder on him?"
"No, as part of his anti-kidnaping monitor he's wearing a device that calls our security systems if certain code words are said. Including him being in pain just now."
"Interesting." She handed back the credentials. "This agreement?"
"Officer Wolfe has a fourteen security clearance through the federal government, ma'am. If he breaks that to talk about anything he does in the lab he can go to jail."
"I mentioned the coffee solution," Ryan admitted.
"That's fine. It's not classified materials. It's going on the market soon." She looked at the judge. "We have made very sure nothing of his work carries over onto his cases. Even if a few people in his present employment are aware of his connections to our lab."
"Is he paid in yours?" the judge asked.
"No, ma'am. He's actually one of our test subjects for some educational software and we taught him forensics," she said, glaring at the defense attorney when he huffed. "That's how we started our affiliation with Officer Wolfe." She looked at the judge again. "Since then he's went from test subject to lab assistant to full blown researcher. He's only paid for his crime lab work and if he offers something of his on the open market after we approve of it being handed out. His coffee solution will be the second one I do believe." Ryan held up three fingers. "Three?"
"The coffee, the cube, and the fun foam," Ryan said calmly.
"I forgot about that cube. It's a gaming add-on," she told them. "Popular in Japan where VR is more popular." The judge just nodded. "Beyond the fact that he used our educational products to learn forensics, the worlds really don't collide."
"His boss has been a frequent visitor in your lab," the defense attorney stated. "Your lab is letting the crime lab test equipment."
"Ryan wasn't with the lab when we signed the testing agreements," she said bluntly, staring him down again. "He got hired after that. We let Lieutenant Caine oversee what Ryan had learned to see if he needed more skills than he already had. He got hired about a month after the testing began. As we had cleared him and a few others in his lab through the testing agreements we have let them come in to test other equipment for us and some friendship bonds have been forged. Plus Doctor Wolfe does fall asleep at the lab and forget to call off now and then. His boss gets handed him when security finds him crashed in the lab." She looked at the judge. "Doctor Wolfe has a very good reputation among the scientific community."
"I heard he develops weapons," the lawyer said dryly, sneering at her.
"I have worked as a lab assistant, helper, and muse for someone who does develop weapons within the company," Ryan admitted. "I learned a lot about mechanical engineering from her."
"Her," Ryan agreed.
"Doctor?" the prosecuting attorney asked. "I wasn't briefed on that part."
SuBeth pulled out papers, handing them to him. "He's recently completed his Doctorate in chemistry."
"I see." He looked it over, then handed it back. "Thank you. Do you prefer Officer or Doctor?"
"For crime lab and similar things, Officer will do," Ryan said, giving him a small smile. "Thank you for asking."
The judge looked at the documents then handed them back. "How did he get it from Cambridge?"
"We do have a distance education pact with them and a few other schools," SuBeth told her. "We're finalizing details to offer a computer based educational system that goes from preschool all the way through the doctorate level in many fields. It's already being mass tested at a few schools at various levels. Ryan was one of our first testers and has been with it for a while now."
"It's fully accredited?" the defense attorney asked.
"It is," she agreed, staring him down again. "Even by whoever tipped you off that he works for us." He backed up a step. "Your Honor, as this is going to be a problem I would like to remind Doctor Wolfe what he can and cannot say fairly quickly. May I have a quick recess?"
"I think we were done with that line of questioning," she admitted, looking at the defense attorney. "Weren't you?" He sat down. "Does the prosecution wish to rebutt?"
"I only have a few for him, Your Honor. Officer Wolfe, to reiterate, you do not bring crime lab information to this other lab?"
"No, I do not."
"You don't bring the other lab's materials into the crime lab?"
"My coffee solution. A few books, some ideas now and then. I do not bring my experiments. Though my boss has seen a few in action."
"Not to my knowledge. He saw something I assisted the creator with as part of the testing agreement."
"Your other lab work has no effect on your crime lab status?"
"Other than being tired now and then when I get a new idea and work myself to sleep? No."
"Thank you. I'll call him back if we need mor from him, Your Honor."
"Agreed. Thank you, Officer Wolfe. And your attorney for keeping us from making you break the law."
"You're welcome, ma'am." He walked down, walking out with her. "I'm sorry," he whispered once they were outside the courthouse. "That's why I kicked the wall."
"It came on when he asked you about dragons. That's why I was a bit late." She patted him on the cheek. "You did good." He grinned. "Very good. We'll see where the leak is."
"Paladin?" he asked quietly.
"This isn't their style. Why would they want you if they discredited you, Ryan?" He nodded. "Now, I'm going to go be a bitch to whoever our leak is. I'm going to have fun destroying them," she said happily. "You be a good boy and let Horatio know what happened. I'll be getting transcripts for Amanda and the others later." She walked off, talking to the person over her earpiece. "It's me. Close call. We have a leak. I'm going to do that tonight," she agreed. "Thank you. Let me know what you find out, or what Ian finds out," she agreed quietly. She got into her Jaguar and backed out of her parking spot, heading back to the lab. They needed a security meeting.
Ryan walked up to where Horatio was waiting. "Did you hear?"
"Hear what, Mr. Wolfe?"
"The defense attorney asked me about my other lab work," he said quietly. "Including that he heard I developed weapons."
Horatio took a deep breath and let it out. "I'll call the other lab tonight, see if the leak's on our end."
"Could it be our mole?" he asked quietly.
"I don't know, yet." He gave him a pat on the arm. "Was it handled?"
"SuBeth showed up to stomp the defense attorney after he asked me if I believed in big flying reptiles. That's apparently a codeword to my monitor and she did tell them that I did have a monitor on but not what sort or where."
Horatio moaned. "I'll handle it, Ryan. Go back to the lab."
"Is at six," he reminded him. "Yours and Gregory's experiment last night made everyone late today."
"Actually, Tony played with it," he admitted sheepishly. "He came in to see what we were doing." He looked around, feeling someone staring at him. "Um, problems," Ryan said, nodding at the man in the conservative silk suit walking his way. "Doctor Edges."
"Doctor Wolfe. I'm happy that you finally joined us."
"I hate writing papers."
"You wouldn't have that problem with us."
"No, I'd have a suicide problem," he said bluntly. "I'm not coming to work for Paladin. Ever. I don't care if you drug me, kidnap me, whatever, I'm not going to work for you."
"Even if we do have some of your friends working for us?"
"I doubt that. Even if you stole Greg we'd get him back. We always do." He looked at Horatio. "I'm going to log back in." He got a nod and headed inside, calling there. "Edges is in town. He's out with Horatio. At the lab here. Yeah, crime lab." He hung up, hovering just out of sight but where he had a pretty good view. He pulled Frank over. "That guy is with Paladin," he said quietly. "Warn the rest of the guys upstairs?"
He nodded, grabbing his phone to do that while he walked outside. Frank put his phone back into his pocket. "Hey, Horatio, could use your help inside. I've got a suspect that won't break."
"In a minute, Frank." He looked at him again. "I would rather that you quit distracting my CSI, Doctor Edges."
"I'd rather pay him six figures so he can work for his country."
"I believe he'd rather work for the whole world." He walked away, going with Frank. They ran into Stetler. "Do not go out there."
"Why?" he sneered.
"Someone from the guys who keep trying to kidnap Wolfe just showed up," Frank told him.
Stetler stormed out there to talk to him. He met him at the side of his car, sneering a bit as he demanded to know what he wanted with Wolfe.
Ryan slumped, getting onto the elevator with his boss and Frank. "Thank you. Are you okay? Did he threaten you?"
"Subtle pressure, Mr. Wolfe. He thinks you'd do better working for your country. I told him you were working for the betterment of the world."
Ryan nodded. "I try." He looked at Frank. "Thank you."
"Welcome." He patted him on the back. "Any more of that coffee solution?"
"Yeah, it's in my locker. Oh, it's going to marketing next week," he said proudly. "They'll decide how to best market it - pills, liquids, whatever. I'll let you have what I have." Frank nodded, following him to the locker room.
Horatio went to his office so he could watch the parking lot. He frowned. Rick wasn't out there. Hopefully he was back inside, fuming in his office. Speed walked in with Greg. "He shouldn't be here."
"He should be. It's safer." He smiled as Juliette hopped down and went to climb up Horatio, petting his hair gently. "Aww, she thinks you're an evil genius pet too, H." He ducked out before Horatio could swat at him.
Greg took his chimp back. "It's very good of you to try to calm him down, Juliette." She smiled and grabbed a treat while he sat down. "Who?"
"A Doctor Edges?"
"The zombie master over their biochem labs," Greg told him. Horatio gave him an odd look. "His own people blew up his car with him in it and he survived, Horatio. There's no way that man's normal. Maybe he's the Terminator under his expensive suit, but there's no way that man is normal. He's survived being poisoned, stabbed, and blown up."
"I'm thinking silver bullets to the heart," Ryan said as he walked in with a file. "It was at the front desk for you, boss." He petted Juliette. "Hi, baby girl." She waved and beamed. "Good girl!" He headed off to get back to work.
Greg looked at Horatio once they were alone. "We got told to reappear back here for our own safety?"
"Ryan was asked about his belief in dragons and his other work while on the stand."
"Aw, crap," Greg muttered. Horatio nodded. "So somewhere there's a leak," he decided. Horatio nodded again, sitting down. Juliette hopped over to go back to petting him. "Honey, he needs his hair to be unmessy. It's not supposed to look like mine."
"She's fine, Greg." He petted her arm. "You're a good girl and a very good helper, Juliette." She kissed him on the cheek and went back to petting him. He smiled at him. "So we're waiting on a security report."
"Are we moving the demo?"
"With Mac and all the security personnel we have available?" Horatio countered.
"Then probably not." He stood up with a stretch. "We were about to go for lunch. Do you guys have a caf?"
"That'll work. Come on, Juliette, I'm hungry." She hopped over and leaped onto his back, climbing up to his shoulder. "Good girl." He handed her another treat. "All you have to do is call, Horatio. I'll stay down there and out of the way."
"Thank you." He watched them leave together, waiting until she was gone to straighten out his hair. He hadn't been able to pull off casually messy in over a decade.
Tiff looked at the security guys around her, then at Ian and Charlie, who had followed them down to the meeting area. "Charlie, I love your math but we know who they're after and who's behind it."
"I can predict his next target," he reminded her, going back to his equation.
"Okay, that would be helpful," Stephni agreed. "SuBeth's in her office chewing her assistant a new one. Her assistant apparently hit on her son." That got a mass shudder. "Okay. What do we know for sure?"
"The defense lawyer's background check," their head of security said, tossing it out. "He's a dweeb. A talentless dweeb who Public Defense couldn't stand so they fired him. Someone paid him ten grand for his current defendant, not the defendant or anyone he knows from what I've found." That got a nod and Charlie frowned at him. "This is Ryan's first time on the stand as a CSI."
"Did we have this problem when he was on as a regular patrol guy?" Ian Edgerton asked.
Stephni snorted. "Once someone asked him about his degree in chemistry and Ryan babbled for about ten minutes. Nothing conclusive, just BS babbling. The judge suggested he drink more coffee." That got a few smirks. "Anything else we know?" The head of Security threw out something else. "What's that?"
"The full transcripts. SuBeth asked the judge and she agreed she could have a copy of today's testimony. He was trying to subtly lead him but Wolfe was avoiding the easy traps he started with. Until he bluntly asked about dragons it was okay. Then Ryan paused and went scientific geek on him."
"I have something to add," Charlie said. "I got a call from Speed. There was a Doctor Edges there he said? Tried to talk to Ryan and Horatio." He looked back at them. "And they're not sure but Rick Stetler out of IAB went to talk to him and they haven't seen him coming in to bother them about it yet." He finished his equation. "They're going to try for something more public than the demonstration." He sighed and smiled. "We're clear tonight."
"Burning Ryan's house?" Stephni asked.
"No, I don't think it's going to center on Ryan. They're going to try to hit the crime lab itself to get him pushed out so they can scoop him up." He turned around for real. "Who's the weak link at the lab that they can put pressure on?"
"Delko's got more girls than a national sorority," Stephni said, leaning on the table. "What was the zombie doing there?"
"Speed said he was told by one of the patrol guys that Ryan told him off and headed inside. Horatio stayed for a moment longer but Frank went to save him at Ryan's urging then they went back to the lab together. Where Juliette decided to pet Horatio like she does George."
That got a few snickers. "She's is one amazing chimp," Ian said dryly. "Better than most of the partners I've worked with." He looked at Charlie. "You're sure it's the lab?"
"Yeah. If they're after Ryan it's his weak spot. He's often alone there. He's the youngest member of the team. Now and then he has to go out to scenes by himself or with only a few patrol officers. He's barely out of his probationary period. Here he's got strength behind him. There he's got some but they're not exactly warriors. Except for maybe Horatio. Speed's got a few weaknesses but none that I'd think were exploitable. Nothing blackmailable I'm sure. Eric might with some of the women he's dated. Calleigh has her father, who's an alcoholic, but that's only a lever. Horatio's background?"
"Has some blackmail," Stephni admitted. "He'd never go for it though. He might play along to trap but he'd never hand over Ryan."
"I didn't say he would, but we need to see who they'd use to get to him. That way we might be able to predict it and keep it from happening," Charlie said. "Think of it like blocking a dam for a while with a big rock. It'll eventually overflow but not for a while."
Tiff leaned back, looking at Ian and her head of security. "Who?"
"One of the lab techs didn't clear the background but she's not involved in the testing of stuff so they left it alone. Two more have histories that could lead to blackmail." Mac walked in. "Sorry, Detective, we're having a security meeting."
"Someone tried for Ryan on the stand and then at the lab," Charlie told him.
"Is he okay?"
"He's fine," Ian said, smirking a bit at him. "We're trying to find the link they'll use to get to him."
"One of the lab techs would be more discreet. Most of them wouldn't think about going to Internal Affairs. Most cops would or a buddy on the force if they're being blackmailed," Mac pointed out. "Lab techs are often left out of the brotherhood. They form their own. Who's the lab outcast?"
Charlie considered what he'd seen. Then he looked at Tiff and Stephni. "Cooper?"
"No, the new girl in DNA. Valera might be a target of it but she's a smart girl," Stephni said. "Cooper's got a big mouth but he's not too easy to get to."
"I'll get to work on a deeper background on her," their head of security agreed. "Charlie, are you sure it won't be tonight?"
"No, they're going to go for something to embarrass, something to make Ryan want to come to them. He said he'd never do it, even if kidnaped, drugged, whatever they did he wouldn't ever work for them. He said that the last time they approached him and probably again today."
"So they want to break him and make him do it, that way they have his loyalty," Mac said. "Arrange it so he looks guilty for something?"
"That's a bigger ploy than they usually seem to use," Charlie said. "They seem to go for undercurrent things. Working behind the curtain."
"Then why did the zombie show up at the crime lab today?" Stephni asked.
"Showmanship," Ian said quietly. He looked at her. "Waving the red flag. Issuing a challenge if you want. Perhaps to get some more information on who Ryan talks to?"
"No, they know," Charlie assured him. "They've been watching him."
"On the stand today they did ask Wolfe about George and him calling her an evil genius pet. They asked about him calling himself an evil genius. They asked about him making weapons," the guard said.
Ian smirked. "They think he's Stephni?"
"Now and then he does create weapons," Stephni said, grimacing over at Tiff, who shrugged. "This goes no further. Pull up a chair, Mac." He sat down. "Ryan has sixteen things in storage. He's had three go to market and the rest are lying around somewhere or aren't dangerous. A few upgrades here or there, working with Greg's stuff now and then. Greg's got four things in storage. He goes for the bright and big bangs. Ryan goes for subtle. We need to talk to Diego," she realized.
"Avery's been dead for two years," Tiff said.
"Yeah but his work with Ryan was what used to get their attention. Start with that file," she told the guard. "Find out what they want. Let Charlie help if you can." He nodded, making notes on that. "Ian, be very careful with him. They only truly go after Ryan when they find something they want badly. Otherwise they'd go after the design, not the creator."
"Did Ryan design them?" Ian asked.
"No, most of those things were Avery's ideas. Ryan took the pipe dreams and turned them into working realities, including updating and fixing things that would never work the way he wanted. His idea file?"
"Is in filing cabinet two," the guard said. He called someone. "Bring me the Avery idea file that Wolfe gets into." He hung up and looked at them. "What's in storage that they could've just now found out about? The body armor was all Wolfe."
"It's not the issue, they've known he has it," Stephni dismissed. "No, this is something that's giving them wet panties. That's usually something that Ryan got off Avery's ideas." The folder was brought in and the guard left again. "What's he been working on?"
The guard handed it over. "Doesn't look any thicker."
Tiff took the bright path. She called Ryan. "Pookie, it's us. What're you working on that they heard about?" She waited while he got somewhere more secure to run down his projects, letting her make notes. "That's it? Nothing from the Avery files?" She winced and wrote down something. "When did you start to have that dream?" A few others around the table groaned. "Okay, I'm calling Diego. I don't care if he does hit on you." She hung up and looked at them. "He's having those special creation dreams about the gun again." She found it and handed it over. "If they've been bugging his house it's about that. If not, it's somewhere on this list," she said, handing it over to her sister.
She looked. "Pheromones. Lube and coolant project with Greggy. Sensory what?"
"To help recall lost sensory, specifically smell and touch, memories," Charlie explained. "That's what he came in to work on last night. He got it over dinner."
"Okay." She wrote that beside it. "The body armor we just put back. Oh, oh, no." She held it up toward her sister, pointing at something. "Isn't that the stupid bubble gun?"
"It is. It works."
"Too well," she agreed. "Was he pulling it out?"
"No, he said he was trying decrease the power on it. It's still in storage. Someone call Diego?" she yelled. Tiff looked at the other things on the list. "Are we sure it's not the body armor or the Wire?"
"I'm not," she admitted. "The wire thing would be useful to them."
Charlie started a new equation. "What does the wire do?"
"It's a new composite material to facilitate inter-body communications with electronics," Stephni said. "You'd use it to hitch your body to a robotic prosthesis. It's meant to be used for communication channels. It's also a kick ass wire for computer and other electronic signals. We're working on marketing it soon."
Charlie nodded, writing down that on one side of the board, giving it a variable letter. "What else?"
"The bubble gun. It shoots a sticky acidic substance that can basically wipe out anything organic," Tiff said quietly. "He's trying to power it back down so the acid's not so strong." He nodded, doing the same thing. "We've got the body armor, the body controllers, which are now together in one application and separate in others. The pheromone thing Tony accidentally let loose last night. The sensory thingy whatever. I'm not sure what form it's taking."
"It can't be the coolant and lube project," Stephni told them.
Mac shook his head. "Probably not. Is that bubble gun available?"
"It's too strong. He ate through a wooden wall and it kept going until it ran out of organic matter," the guard told him. "What about the bouncy ball? I know it's a bit odd but he was working on it and it's new."
"Why would some entity like Paladin want that?" Ian asked. "It's a toy."
"The chemical properties behind it could expand into body armor theory, bullets, maybe even other forms of weapons," Mac offered. "Kevlar came from the polyester theories. So did the coating on frying pans to make them non-stick. From the same lab and people."
"With it's ability to deflect energy it could be theoretically used in body armor," Charlie agreed. "Maybe as a coating over the standard armor. I wouldn't want to only be wearing it. It also conducts electricity. Sal found that out a few days back when it zapped her after being in contact with an outlet." He kept working then nodded. "It's either the bouncy ball or the gun," he announced a few minutes later.
"Okay, we can handle those threats," Stephni said. "Up Wolfe's levels, Peter." He nodded, going to do that, taking his notes with him. "We're sorry this had to intrude on the demonstration, Mac."
"Not a problem. These things happen. We've had fun wandering around today." Ian smiled at that. "If you wanted, you could do that and we'd watch Charlie while we're down. I'm a former Marine."
"I've had plenty of wandering. I was assigned here at one point in time," he admitted. "Back then I had no idea Paladin existed either." Charlie gave him a shoulder squeeze. "We should get ready for the demo, ladies." They nodded, going to talk to their brother while he got Charlie ready to go. They met the other lab at the race track, letting Charlie bounce over to talk to Horatio and Greg, and Juliette since she was once again petting Horatio like he was a bunny. "Cute look, Caine," he called, grinning at him.
"She thinks I need messy hair." He patted the chimp. "She's a good girl."
"Girls like messy hair," Greg said with a fond grin for his helper. "That's why I get so many women."
"I'm not growing my hair to have messy hair," Ryan complained as he walked around them. "Hey, Stephni, did we figure anything out?"
"Yeah, Sal's project or your diminishing one."
"Damn. I'm sorry."
She gave him a hug. "I have ten things on their want list, Ryan," she pointed out gently. "You only have three. You're doing good." He grinned at that. "Hey, Speed, Eric, come look at the engine?" she called. They came over to look, letting them show off the bike and the weapons. The others trailed over to see too. Mac's team cooed over it: Mac over the weapons, Don over the bike itself, and Sheldon over the theoretical principles.
Horatio stared at Speed. "If you get hurt you are in serious trouble."
"I wouldn't want to get hurt. Though, if she demands I'll still bend Eric over something and let him beg for one of the engines for my Ducatti." He grinned at the ladies.
Tony came over. "That's a mean image. Would Eric beg well enough?"
"He would because he wants one for his Lexus," Speed said with a grin for him. "You okay? I heard you knocked into the new mating scent stuff."
"I did and I had to take an extra long nap today." That got some snickers from Stephni and Tiff. "But they didn't mind."
"Diego's here," Greg called.
"Great, let me find my chastity belt," Ryan called back.
Horatio looked at the new man walking up to them. He was just at six foot, maybe a few centimeters over. He had wavy hair that was a bit less wild than Charlie's was, but it was down to his shoulders and looked like he ran his hands through it all the time. He was slender, but muscled, and he moved like he was about ready to break into a dance number. His tight jeans and bright shirt accentuated his body and face. His lips were a bit on the pouty side. You could tell they were natural and not collagen implants. His eyes were dark but a bit colder than the rest of him. They were definitely watching everyone. He held out a hand. "Horatio Caine."
"Dominic Diego Montclair," he said, shaking his hand. "White Knight, Security division."
Horatio smiled. "Welcome to Miami. We're going over the bike now if you wanted to join us?"
"I wouldn't mind picking on my big sisters again," he agreed happily. He swatted Greg's butt on the way past him. "Hey, baby."
"Hi, Diego," he said patiently. "Still straight. Try Ryan."
"I'm going to put on a chastity belt if he does," Ryan said, giving him a look. "Hit on Horatio or Speed or Eric. Someone other than me this time, okay? I had a crappy day."
"I heard." Ryan gave him an odd look. "Who better to find out the information they need, dear?" He gave him a short hug but Ryan wiggled away. "Awww, do I make you wet?" he teased in a coo.
"No, you make me confused. I want a good man my first time, one who won't love me and then dump me." He went back to looking it over. "We've got a loose wire in the radio, ladies. Want me to ...." They fixed it and he pouted. "I can help."
"Of course you can. But for now we're going to warm her up," Tiff said. Stephni got onto the bike, grabbing the helmet. She put it on. "Okay, guys, move into the grass." She started the engine, letting them appreciate it while she revved it. They got out of the way, letting her use the track to slowly speed up. She stopped, letting the engine rest while she adjusted something under her right knee. Then she revved it and it sounded higher pitched. She gave a hand signal and Ryan pulled out the speed gun, following her as she took off. He was paying attention to it instead of her ride. She switched gears, you could hear it, and then the bike leapt at her command, speeding up.
"Second," Speed said, watching her take another loop. He winced at the shift. "Late into third, engine's revving too high." She went up again, more smoothly this time. He glanced at the radar gun's readout, smiling at the numbers. She hit fifth and the bike leapt again, seeming to almost shimmer. They heard the crack of the sound barrier being broken and clapped. She stopped on the next lap and they went over to congratulate her. Speed waited patiently, for him. "Okay, my turn," he demanded. She laughed and gave him the helmet, letting him try it. He was used to fast engines but his racing bike's engine only went into the range she had for second gear. He took off, accelerating smoothly through all of first, second, and into third gear. He felt a slight moment of panic around a corner. He was going too fast to do more than shift to counterbalance. That'd take some getting used to. He shifted it up, smiling when the people became trailing blurs instead of just blurs. He hit fifth, heard the crack, felt the wind resistance change and hit the throttle for more. He finally wobbled so he slowed it back down and stopped in front of them. "I want one," he pouted once he had the helmet off.
"You'd never get it out of first in Miami's traffic," Horatio reminded him.
"New York's either, which is a pity," Don pouted. "Can I try? Not that fast but at higher than normal bikes?" They let him have the helmet to ride around for a few. Then Mac got it. "So, can you use the weapons at that speed?"
"You can. We've got an automated targeting system that'll anticipate what speed you're at for a lock," Stephni said proudly. Ryan grinned at her. "He was very helpful." They all laughed at that. Mac came back. "She's a smooth looking ride."
"Little shimmy in third gear," Speed told her.
Stephni nodded. "Yeah. At the higher speeds you don't have the time to correct for corners either." Ryan handed over the tallies, making her smile. "Okay, I'm impressed." They all clapped. "What's the gas gauge say?"
Mac looked. "Half."
"Used more than I expected going that fast," she decided.
"Can you make one that runs on the same chemical mix that goes say, hummer in pursuit speeds?" Horatio asked.
"Our older version does that but the chemical mix smells," Tiff told him. "This one?" She looked at Stephni, who shrugged. "We can try, Red." She beamed and he let her hug him. She petted Juliette too. "Hi, dear. You've been very good." She got a chimp kiss and she lunged to get Greg to cuddle her.
"If you do, I'd like to test that too," Mac said. He got off the bike, handing back the helmet. "Thank you, ladies." They all smiled. "Are we doing the weapons tests tomorrow?" They all smiled and nodded, walking him off to talk about those. Speed gave the bike one last pet before walking away.
Ryan looked at everyone's back then at the bike. "Okay, I'll ride you back the lab, baby." He got onto it and sped off at closer to normal speeds.
"Not another one," Horatio complained. Mac snickered at that, batting him on the arm. "Speed's going to get hurt someday soon. We don't need Ryan to do the same thing."
"He's taking her back to the lab," Stephni promised. She looked at Diego and Charlie, who were talking math. Then at her sister. "They're cute together."
"They are," she agreed happily.
Greg nudged Ian. "Diego's smooth as sin into your bed," he said quietly. "He nearly got me there and I didn't do more than consider it for about a minute as a teenager. By the time I realized I was naked and on my back he was ready to slide in and I had come twice."
"I'll make sure Charlie's okay," he agreed, heading to follow his assignment. Diego gave him a look back, then a grin. "I'm paid to follow him around so no one can take him."
"I think you'll find he's got a visitor back at the lab," he said with a small grin. Charlie beamed and hurried to the car. Ian trotted after him. "Oooh," he said, sucking in a breath. He gave Horatio's butt a test look too and nodded. "I should move to Miami too."
"They'd miss you in London," Tiff called without having to hear what he had said. She knew that look on his face.
"They can miss me all they want. I can work anywhere." He was definitely enjoying the view. At least until Juliette pounced him and shrieked for him staring at Greg's ass.
"She's a very protective evil genius pet," Greg said happily. "Keeps the skanks off me too." He clapped his hands and she came back, climbing up to cling to his neck, waving smugly at Diego.
"She's nearly as good at that as Pookie's iron underwear is," Tiff told Stephni.
"I can't believe he's still got that thing."
"He does?" Speed asked, starting to cough and laugh at the same time.
"I thought Wolfe was bi," Eric agreed, smirking some. He had blackmail now!
"He is, but not for Diego. Baby bro back there has had half of England and three husbands. If you give him a kiss you don't know where you'll end up but you'll end up on your back howling."
"I don't know how Greg got away from him," Tiff agreed.
Greg looked over. "He took too long finding something for lube. I started to wake up from the drugging power of his kisses. Hey, Diego, can we take sweat samples so we can mimic what you're putting out? It'll go well with our pheromone project."
"That would ruin my magic, Greg."
"It'd make the new formula too strong for normal mortals and you'd have to hide it," Tony added. "Last night was wild."
"So Ry and I heard," he teased back. Tony just smirked and shrugged, grabbing Tiff to walk her off. "Come on, guys, I'm hungry. Let's go eat in celebration." They piled back into the cars and security van, heading back to the lab.
Ryan walked up to Horatio, handing him over a small gold key. "Hey, the key to the greatest treasure in the world. That way Diego can't steal it." He walked off again, not really walking funny but slowly like there was something he was sitting on.
"You *do* have a spare key, Mr. Wolfe?" Horatio called after him.
"Yeah, George has it." He grinned. "It's an evil genius' pet's job to guard their evil genius."
"Mine certainly did," Greg agreed, giving him a hug. "You okay? You're walking funny."
"I should've gotten a smaller size on the plug." That got a laugh and Greg walked off cackling. Ryan pulled something out of his back pocket, looking at it then Diego. "You still trying to grow your hair?" He nodded slowly. "I can help." Stephni gave him a horrified look, backing away slowly. "Turn around." He did that and Ryan wet down his hair, watching as it started to shine and then slowly grow. "Chemical accelerator." He opened the bottle and put on a new nozzle, spraying his shirt and pants too. Then he walked off smiling.
"Ryan!" he complained, looking down at his chest. "I hate shaving there. Meany!" he called after him. "I should forge a key to that chastity belt," he complained, huffing off to go change.
"Does that really work?" Horatio asked. Stephni nodded, hiding behind him. "Doesn't wear off?"
"You'll get about an inch of growth per application. For thinning hair it'll make it thicker and help regrow some of the baby fine hairs." She peeked around his arm up at him. "Not that you need it."
"I do have a few spots that could use it."
She snorted. "Please, Red! Your hair is a siren's call for fingers." She looked around then ran to find Tiff. "Ryan pulled out the Super Grow."
"Aw, shit," she complained, heading to stop Ryan before they had to listen to someone else complain.
"So this stuff works?" Speed was asking Ryan.
"Yeah, it works well. It accelerates the growth process for up to an inch of new growth. It used to be part of the clothing eating foam's formula. That's why Greg's got such thick hair."
"It's also why Greg has to shave every day," Greg said as he walked past them, snatching the bottle. "Thank you. This should still be in the safe. It was mean of you to pull it out when you pulled out your chastity belt."
"But it's fun," Ryan complained with an evil smirk. He pulled out a smaller aerosol can. "Now in a more convenient applicator."
"Will it mess up H's hair?" Speed asked. He shook his head. "Not like Rogaine where you've got to keep using it?"
"No. It'll work until he trims that part off."
"Cool." He took the spray can, going to hit Horatio with it. The redhead ducked. "Hold still." He finished up. Then he smiled. "Happy birthday, Horatio!" He handed it back to Ryan, watching as Horatio's hair shone and got a bit thicker. A little longer in the back.
Ryan handed him the can. "You can apply it to the front but I'd wear gloves. It'll do it to any body hair. I used it on a hairless dog once to make it quit shivering. Greg got hit with it when it was part of the clothing eating foam." He walked off much happier. His boss would be happier with the hair.
Horatio went to the bathroom to check his hair. It was thicker. It was a bit longer. He sprayed the front, watching as his hairline changed and went down by a few centimeters. He put that into his inner jacket pocket and walked back out.
"Don't use Dawn or any other seriously heavy cleanser on it," Greg called. "And don't use Prell or it'll change your hair to purple."
"I'll do a strand test later with my normal shampoo," Horatio promised, smiling at him. "You still have to shave every day?"
"Otherwise my pubic mound ends up engulfing most of my thighs. The first batch was a bit strong. I have had one girlfriend who liked the hunt for me but most don't mind that I shave or trim every day. Sal and Studly made him take it out of the clothing eating foam compound before they got hit again. Studly did not like shaving that much."
"That's okay, I let little Amanda wrap his head in a towel while he was asleep," Ryan called.
"Isn't she the marker niece?" Ian asked. Ryan beamed and nodded. "You're going a bit too evil, Ryan."
"He has very pretty hair."
"WOLFE!" a male voice screamed a few minutes later.
"He woke up early." Ryan took off running when Studly got off the elevator, and everyone got out of his way. His black, shoulder length, spiral curls bounced as he ran after him. "Do not give my niece any more ideas! She's evil enough as is!"
"Looked like she dropped some too," Don quipped, cracking the people around them up. There had been a teardrop shaped blot of fur just above the crack of his ass.
Horatio shook his head. "How long does it take to dry, Greg?"
"Few hours." He grinned. "Wear gloves if you're going to play with it, Horatio. You having yeti hands would get some gossip started." He handed over the other bottle. "Here, for more precise application, use a cotton ball." He walked off to gossip with Mac and Don about their lab versus his.
Horatio slid the other bottle into his inner pocket, making sure it'd stay safe.