|AIR DATE 2011.08.13|
|Synopsis: A year older, both the ACRU and its co-founder Captain Shea, celebrate with cake, and a less happy present.|
|HAPPY BIRTHDAY ACRU|
Decorations have not made the ACRU HQ any less of a halfway house when it comes to the recent construction, the dubiousness of the drab architecture, but they do gain mileage in making it look like a home. One currently enamored of its own self: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ACRU is strung across in some haphazard construction paper. Somebody brought a balloon or two — one's already been popped. Nobody claimed the detectives of the Abilities Crime Response Unit were artists. But it's a buoyant good mood that takes care of the rest, exercising itself over the main meeting room where the thick steel door panels have been flung open.
Sitting on the table is the one masterpiece; already stood, admired, and sung over, the double-decker, one layer chocolate, one layer vanilla, separated by a thin layer of ice-cream, cake is about to be cut into by the very man whose name it bears: Congratulations on being old, Captain Shea! 50. The newly ordained 50-year-old, Captain of the ACRU, Nicholas Shea is grinning, as he has been for the last twenty minutes, as he brings down the knife cleanly and perhaps overly cautiously between the 5 and 0 of his new bearing. "The real accomplishment here," he comments lightly, while taking agonizingly long to deliver this slicing blow to the confection, "is that you all got out of Gideon's training long enough for this."
"The only reason I made it through anything was for a piece of that cake," Harry mutters to whomever is standing next to her. It's said particularly good-naturedly because she's very excited to get a piece of that cake. It looks sugary and delicious - two things that the CSI find hard to pass up. Plus, she genuinely wishes the Captain fond wishes and is glad that the party is going well so far. "Happy birthday, Captain!" she says louder, that comment meant to carry. "I definitely want a slice of vanilla and a slice of chocolate so I can eat both flavors in one bite. If there's enough for everyone, that is. Do you think there will be?"
Standing a few feet away from his partner in captaining, posed in stark contrast to the festivities, is Gideon. With his muscled arms crossed and his stance militaristically perfect, Captain Ramsay perpetually appears as though he's wearing ACRU's body armor even without. Closer inspection on his strong face, however, would show a hint of a gentler smile at the corners of his otherwise straight mouth, and amused glimmer here and there in dark eyes that goes from Shea to Harry — and the cake. "They haven't escaped my training," he corrects in a matter-of-fact rumble. "This is a team-building exercise. In sharing."
"Mixing flavors is a delicate operation," pipes up the CSI's occasional shadow, intern Ronny, with a swipe of her hand through her brightly colored hair, "There's the eating one after the other so they mix in the mouth," a tick off on one finger, then each following, "Taking two bites at once. Swirling them together on your spoon. Of course — my personal favorite — just mashing everything into one mixture from the get-go. It becomes like it's own, new, creation rather than the two separate elements. Though there's something to be said for those working together in unison— " The only thing that seems able to stop Ronny, as running out of fingers clearly did not detour her, is a glance not even meant for her. Indeed, the second Ramsay looks even slightly Harry's way, the younger girl stands up straighter and her jaw snaps shut eagerly.
"Sometimes I think sleeping at night is one of your training exercises," remarks Elliot, not unkindly. He isn't immune to the festive mood, though it helps that Shea is one of his favorites in the unit. The New Englander is sprawled in one of the rolling office chairs, walking a pen between his fingers and smiling. "I keep expecting you to pop up at the foot of my bed."
The expression Ramsay gives Elliot can hardly be called an expression at all, and in that becomes a pokerfaced stare that might show up one night for a surprise exercise in emergency preparedness.
"Think you should stop thinkin' about the Captain in your bedroom." This off-colour but wholly nonchalant remark comes courtesy of Kev, who also sprawls — in a metal fold-up chair unfit for anyone to inhabit too long, most likely rummaged out of the storage closet of odds-and-ends and hand-me-downs from other units. As he lazes around waiting for cake — to add to the sugar rush of Coke he's been drinking out of a can — he squints half-alertly at Elliot's chair, as if trying to figure out how the probie got a better one.
"It'd probably be good for you," comments a lazily baiting voice nearby, from the drawling mouth of the also seated Valerie. If Ramsay is always armored, then the weapons expert is always armed. She arcs a perfect eyebrow at Elliot. "I bet you snore, probie. Yeah. You look like you snore." Relatively light, as far as jabs go; huzzah, the party atmosphere has gone full-circle to even this one. Though that doesn't much stop her from guffawing, and leaning over to offer Kev the underhand of a possible highfive.
From the head of the table, Shea, paused in his rather pacifist style of cutting, angles the top of his gaze at the two, then over at his peer. "Oh," he concurs without — for humor's effect — conviction. Down goes the knife, finally. Up, then down; a piece defined. A rather generously, large piece. "Riiiight." Then another is formed beside it with quick cutting motions as he eases into dividing the massive bakery construction, seemingly unable to stop from making the portions unhealthily sizable. "You know," he says, delicately, despite an enduring friendliness between the two captains, "Not everything need be about training… though I can hardly fault you the cause, can I… ummm." He eyes the cake, now cut, and all in front of him… but who gets first; he seems to be stalled in.
With a well-meaning grin shot at Ramsay's quip, Harry beams and moves her gaze to the really important conversation piece - the cake. "I got an A+ in sharing, Captain!" she says quite readily. "I'm sure that's a part of my personnel file somewhere - Harriet Parker, promoted to Field Agent due to her remarkable sharing skills." Ronny's rambling is one that the brunette is used to. It's interesting when the two work on cases, as they have the tendency to just talk at and over and around each other the entire time with observations and quips. The sudden stoppage garners attention and the woman tilts a head slightly when she sees what it is that stopped her conversation train so easily. "Personally, I prefer the double bite. You get the flavors of both and then they mix together in your mouth! Perfection!" As she sees the Captain's dilemma, she grins. "First one should be for you, sir! It's your birthday, after all."
Talk of Ramsay in bed doesn't much help oil Ronny's mouth, and she spends an odd amount of time patting at her non-standard hair she's usually proud of. Waiting a couple of seconds after Harry's finished, the intern suddenly loops an arm around the older woman's with a hasty conspiracy of stealth. "It counts as sharing when I gave you that blood sample, right? I mean— I could've done it all myself— but that's just a little thing, isn't it… stupid, Ronny, stupid!" Detaching just as fast from Harry, she aims a little shin-kick at her own… other foot. "That wasn't important. It wasn't even a spatter…"
Tsk-tsking good humoredly, Elliot fixes Kev with a lazily sardonic smile. "And start thinking about you there instead? Don't sound so jealous, Kev." He even puckers his lips for good measure, but his attention has soon turned to Val instead. "Feel free to drop by and find out sometime."
Kev secures the high-five with an approving slap of his palm, a grin, and a chuckle — but still retrieves his hand a bit too fast, as though he's slightly afraid it will get caught in Valerie's crossfire when Elliot's retort comes along. "I'm stayin' outta this one." An inelegant snort leaves him, but, shaking his head, his mood is jovial, and he lazily hauls himself off the chair to hover by the cake.
"She is right," Ramsay says of Harry, officially stamping the birthday celebrator with first cake rights. He's said his part and nearly even made a joke to go along with the celebration, and now he falls into silence again. Though he cuts a stern figure, his observation of the party continues to be one of general approval.
In all the ladylike fashion she embodies, Valerie blows Elliot a nice fat raspberry. "You couldn't handle the toys I bring, probie. You'd definitely be better off with tank-boy," hi Kev, where'd you go, "In fact— I think you two are pretty well-suited. One of you's a big dumb animal— " she sways, just so, as if to indicate Kev a second time, only to finish smoothly, "and the other one goes ape for adrenaline." A beaming smirk parts her lips and, rising, she also slides into line for the eating, leaving Elliot by his little, trainee self.
"Why, thank you, Harriet," Shea exudes the graciousness sincerely, despite a touch of hesitance. It leads him to dip in and, very quickly, angle a tinier slice off one of the biggest ones. This he catches on a plate, claiming it further by picking up a fork and backing steadily up. "Have at, have at…" He may be half of their leadership, but he wisely chooses not to get between the team and their cake fix. Jovially, but with a subdued smile that is his own — both gentle and conveying of all his happiness, he watches each person until movement at the open doors distracts his eye, and his hand from a first bite. The team's occasional forensic psychologist hovers there, Gary O'Nealy, winding his fingers nervously together; he shakes his head a little sheepishly when Shea tries to beckon him in.
Unaware that Ronny may be using her for stealth or any mission of any sort, Harry blinks at the suddenly looped arm around her. That doesn't mean she minds it. With a grin, she shakes her head. "That's not exactly sharing. I think that may be correctly be called pawning work off on others." It doesn't sound like the woman minds, however. As her eyes sweep over toward Elliot, Valerie and Kev, she can't help but snicker. Poor Elliot keeps striking out against both men and women as far as she can see. Though, the idea of Captain Ramsay standing over her bed trying to train her to sleep more efficiently is quite a sobering one. All of that, however, is pushed aside when she realizes cake slices are up for grabs. Immediately she slips into line to grab a piece she's been waiting for.
The rebuff simply rolls off Elliot's hide and he grins. When he finally does rise from his chair and set the pen aside to queue up for cake, he manages to fall in behind Ronny and Harry and remains patiently silent while awaiting his turn for sugary confectionary.
With food in his line of sight, it takes Kev awhile for Valerie's voice to sink into his ears. "Hey," he defends — though it doesn't distract him from grabbing up a slice of cake. Or from forking it into his mouth. His method is 'shoving it in without paying attention', which distracts him, in turn, from Valerie and Elliot. He wanders far enough to slap Captain Shea on the shoulder instead and amble past. "Yo, happy birthday again, Cap."
Silence might be Elliot's rebuff, but another voice springs up on the heels of the … conversation, feminine and curious. "What's this about toys? What did I miss?" Angie shuffles in next to Valerie, cheerfully returning to the party from— wherever she was. The shiny red gift bag in her hands might be a clue; the negotiator comes bearing presents. Her head tips around the line-up for cake as she notices the psychologist, lowering her mood just a dose. "Dr. Nealy doesn't look like he's here for the party," she asides quietly to Val.
"Only the Couch potato thinking he's one of the team already," assures Valerie, who can't be said to exactly brighten when the negotiator comes near, but something in her gruff demeanor always lifts. A hand drifts comfortably between them, just casually brushing near Angela's hip to encourage her closer. "And something I'll let you in on later…" Curious eyes on the bag lift to find the doctor at the door. Since she always looks slightly dour, she doesn't change much at the sight. "Yeah, well, what's new; you want some cake, hun?" Because she'll shove this person in front of her out of the way the instant you do.
Slapped, Shea startles from eyeing that same doorway to smile affectionately at the passing Kev. "Much appreciated, Kevin— excuse me…" Everyone's busy with cake; it's easy for the man of the hour to slip past — pardon him, Harry and Elliot — towards where O'Nealy hovers. Shea's greeting, though generally inaudible in the gentle ruckus, is companionable. He receives slightly less in kind. A few hushed words and darkening brows. With a glance towards the others, Shea puts a hand on O'Nealy's shoulder and they take a few steps away so as not to burden the party atmosphere.
Consider the atmosphere burdened slightly. At least for Harry. While she grabs a plate of cake and immediately starts to eat it, her eyes follow Shea to the doorway and the man who stands there. Swallowing her confection, she asides to Elliot, "I don't think someone brought a birthday present. And he certainly doesn't look like he wants cake, either."
It isn't until Harry draws his attention to the disappearing birthday boy and the forensic psychologist that Elliot notices; he was rather fixated on acquiring a thin slice of cake for himself. He watches the pair's retreating backs for a moment, frowning. "Oh, I'm sure he's brought a birthday present," he replies dryly, "but it isn't a happy one."
Business is always afoot. Serious things for a serious job— even when it's their birthday. Still, like Harry, Angela has eyes on Shea and Nealy for a few moments longer, even as her bearing leans in slightly toward Val. When the form of Gideon becomes on the move, turning to leave everyone (mostly) capably unattended in order to address the psychologist as well, Angie leaves it be. Beaming as though there was never an interruption, she replies, "Cake! Yes."
Kev has exactly no commentary or care over the visitor; he's busy simultaneously stuffing birthday cake in his mouth and hooking his foot around Elliot's former chair and rolling it closer to himself to flop down in. In falling onto it, his momentum rolls him and his overly amused face past the cake-goers.
Scuffles are small around the table; everyone manages to escape with an oversized piece of cake and the chatter carries on amiably after the quiver of disturbance created by the unexpected guest. Ronny ducks out early — no one's surprised, leaving behind a plate she managed to have time to scrape clean, without even a trace of the very strange appearance of her cake after she smushed the top white and bottom brown into each other. There's just a slight dribble of ice-cream to tell the tale. Valerie doesn't have to fight anyone for Angie's cake, but does stand like a guard-dog beside her chair, militaristically eating. It's a familiar pattern running through every person.
So it's the soothing lull after an enjoyable evening that Captain Shea and, behind him, Captain Ramsay, walk back into. Amusement has been chased off the gentler captain's face, and he's picked up somewhat O'Nealy's worrisome finger twiddling. Of the psychiatrist, himself, there is no sign. What news weighs Shea's shoulders is not immediately said, but has to be drawn out by attention as it falls on him returning — a few pointed questions, Angela straightening as if to pursue the doctor.
Waving her to stay, Shea gives a tiny shake of his head, and out peeks a purposefully encouraging smile; all's well. "I'm afraid Dr. O'Nealy can no longer offer us his services. But he, uh— he wished us well." A flicker of his eye to the decimated cake, and the hanging letters above. "Happy Birthday, ACRU."