Horatio looked around his new lab with a smile. Tony Stark had outdone himself with adapting existing lab equipment for them and Horatio was fairly certain they would be able to handle almost anything their assignments threw at them. One of the dwarves, small robots controlled by two of his new lab techs, FitzSimmons, buzzed past his head, heading somewhere to do something. Horatio was curious to find out how well they would be able to be adapted to crime scene work. Everything he'd seen of them so far impressed him.
"Hey, Horatio, Director Fury is here," Ryan Wolfe, his second in command at the lab said, poking his head into the lab. "Tony get things finished up in here?"
"A few hours ago," Horatio said. "I've been calibrating everything with JARVIS's help."
"He left you JARVIS?" Fury asked, striding into the room.
"Hello, Nick," Horatio replied with a smile. "He did, both here and at my house. I think that Tony's worried that some of the people out to hurt the Avengers might get wind of us down here and try something designed to hurt Clint."
Fury sighed. "I swear that Stark is attempting to take over the tech world with JARVIS," he said. "I'm here to give your new people a talking to and then I want a tour of the base."
"Easy enough," Horatio said with a smile. "Everyone is in the break-room finishing up their paperwork. It's down the hall this way."
"Is Grant's office up and running too?" Fury asked as they started down the hall.
"Last week," Horatio replied. "They've already had a couple of teams go out to check on reports, but nothing came of them. I think Grant had an easier time starting up because he didn't have to wait on lab equipment."
"I'll be interested to see how Stark's modifications work," Fury said. "Is that one of the dwarves?"
"They're getting the lay of the land," Horatio said with a smile. "Hello Dopey, where are you off to?"
"You can tell them apart, Horatio? I'm impressed," Fury said. "They all look the same to me."
"Fitz and Simmons have been teaching me more about them," Horatio said. He caught the dwarf gently. "I think that the pair is onto something that will be a new step in crime scene investigation if we can get things fine tuned and the price of construction down a little. Jemma, I found one of your boys in the hall."
She looked up. "Thank you, Horatio," Simmons said with a small smile. "We're just letting them fly about for a bit, though Grant wants us to take them over to the vegetation at the edge of the base and make sure there's nothing hiding in there that shouldn't be. Oh, Director Fury, Sir, I didn't see you there."
"You enjoying your posting here, Simmons?" Fury asked.
"Oh, yes Sir," Simmons said. "Horatio and Grant have been wonderful, and the new teams are great."
"Good, I'm glad to hear it," Fury said. "This everyone, Horatio?"
Horatio did a quick headcount, and noticed how many of the new staff were staring at them. "We're missing Fitz," he said.
"He's just outside," Simmons said. "I'll get him for you."
"Everyone have their paperwork finished and ready to go back to the human resources department?" Horatio asked. "I need that by the end of the day so we can declare ourselves officially open for business and ready to travel. Stack it on the table there by the door. Ryan, will you make sure it gets to my office, please?"
"Sure thing, H," Ryan said with a smile.
Fury looked over the group. He didn't smile, no one seemed to expect him to, but he wasn't frowning nearly as deeply as he usually did. "This is something new for SHIELD, something I've been debating for a long time, but never had cause to bring into play until recently," he said. "You are working for my office directly. Your orders will come from either me or from one of my two hand; Stephen Green or Phil Coulson. Anyone else tries to give you an order, you tell Horatio and he'll tell me. Your job is to work out what's happened whenever you get sent in. Horatio showed how it works when he investigated an assault against two of my top operatives. You follow his lead, learn from him, and you'll all do just fine. You will all be receiving training in fire arms and self-defense. Horatio's partner will be teaching you fire arms over the next three weeks. Then a series of self-defense instructors will come through, including the Black Widow. She'll be the last one and if she doesn't like what she sees, you don't qualify. If you're one of the field teams, you will be receiving additional training that lab staff does not, but everyone in this room will be receiving the basics. There is no discussion available on that one." He looked around at everyone and nodded. "All right, you turn in your paperwork by the end of the day, this lab is officially in business. Horatio, show me around the base."
Horatio waited until they were well clear of the lab building before he looked over. "Nick, I think that you're going to have to take a different tactic to train FitzSimmons in weapons and self-defense," he said softly. "Would you be willing to let me work with them for a couple of weeks before you even think about trying to put them on the sparring mats with an instructor?"
"We can't handle them with kid gloves, Horatio. I need to know they'll be available for assignment when I need them to be."
"That's all well and good, but you could hurt them worse and lose them before you have them in the new initiative you're planning," Horatio said. "Give me two weeks, Nick. Let me see what I can do before you put them in with the rest of the group."
Fury glanced over at him. "Do you know how many people would ask me for a favor like this, Horatio?"
"No one, I would imagine."
Horatio smiled. "Nick, for this to work, you're going to have to trust my judgement on some things," he said. "You're the boss, but you've got a lot going on every day. If you don't want to agree right away, ask Phil what he thinks about it."
"When we said we needed someone that is good at politics, I never thought it'd be used against me," Fury sighed. "Fine, two weeks, but not a day more. I have plans in place and I need to know they can be implemented in time."
"Two weeks," Horatio said. "Thank you, Nick."