Greg stopped on his way out of the Barn as he realized he hadn’t seen or heard Spike leave. The rest of the team had departed as soon as their shift ended, all of them eager to head home to families or houses or parties for the holiday season. Still the young tech genius hadn’t made an appearance.
Turning back around, he hefted his gear bag higher and headed towards the locker room. He wasn’t sure if that’s where the younger man was, but he’d look there first.
“Hey, Sarge,” the dispatcher greeted him when he reached the desk. “Thought you were headed out.”
“Just needed to check one final thing,” Greg answered. “I’m going to leave my bag here.”
The young man reached out. “Want me to keep it back here?”
“Thanks… Chuck, right?”
“Don’t call me ‘sir’, I work for a living,” Greg called over his shoulder.
Moving quickly through the halls, he pushed the door open to the locker room, searching it quickly for any sign of Spike. When he didn’t see the younger man, he let the door swing shut again, trying to decide where else to look for Spike.
The briefing room had been empty when he’d gone by so he headed for the only other place Spike could be. “I know Babycakes is your number one girl, but I think even she would let you have one night off,” he commented.
Spike looked up from the circuit board he’d been fiddling with. “Got nothing else to do tonight,” he replied.
Greg grabbed one of the stools and slid it over so he could ease himself down onto it. “What are you talking about?” he asked. “I’m sure you had plenty of invitations.”
“Yeah. No.” Spike looked back down, carefully sliding the circuit back into place. “It’s fine. I’ve been meaning to finish these upgrades and Babycakes always likes a little extra attention.”
“Close it up,” Greg ordered. “Babycakes can get her extra attention later. You’re coming home with me.”
“Come on. Dean cooked. I can’t promise it’s gourmet, but it’s food and it’ll be edible.” Greg got to his feet. “So let’s get going.”
Spike opened his mouth like he was going to protest again, but Greg’s look cut him off. “It’ll just take me a few minutes to clean up.”
“You do that and I’ll give Dean a call to let him know we’ll be a few more minutes,” Greg said. He dug his cell phone out of his pocket and stepped out of the room to give Spike room to clean up.
“Hey, Dad,” Dean greeted him when he picked up. “You almost home?”
“I’m leaving the Barn in a few moments,” Greg answered. “Could you set another plate?”
“Yeah, I guess, but why?”
Greg lowered his voice. “Spike was going to stay here all night, Dean. And work. I couldn’t leave him to do that on Christmas Eve.”
“Good point.” There was some clanking and clinking on the other end of the phone. “I’ll be ready when you get here.”
“See ya soon, Dean-o.” Greg hung up as Spike exited the room. He smiled at the technical specialist as the man joined him. “Ready to go?”
“I’ll go home,” Spike told him. “You don’t have to take me with you.”
Greg clapped him on the shoulder. “Dean’s already setting another plate. Let’s go.”
The two started out of the Barn; Spike still protesting and Greg shooting down all of his arguments. The sergeant was determined to make sure the young man got a good Christmas dinner.