The Cringe

by Heidi

Warnings: Heidi Humor Fic. Eating and drinking can be hazardous to your health while reading this fic.

Author’s Notes: For everyone else that knows exactly what I’m talking about here, and cringe on a consistent basis. For Cin, and all the hard work she does behind the scenes.

Okay. The clock says it’s been five minutes, but I don’t believe it. It can’t be. Mark that down as a record. Wait, no, it’s fast…4:56, 4:57, 4:58, 4:59 . . .


Heck. I thought they could do it. Five minutes without someone hitting the wrong button, striking the wrong key, clicking the mouse wrong, or generally screwing up his computer. Well, I’m saving what I’m working on right now as I answer. "Yeah?"


"On my way." I leave my desk, trot through the office – lagging’s not a good move when Chris screws something up - and look over his shoulder. He’s done it again. How the heck does he manage to do that so often?

"It did it again."

I refrain from rolling my eyes and going with the obvious ‘I see that’. I chose the more sedate "Uh-huh", and reset the spreadsheet so it accepts his formulas. "Chris."

"What?" He’s already reading another expense report, and I recognize the form as Ezra’s.

"Don’t hit the delete key in the formula box, okay?"

"Fine. Thanks, JD."

I’m leaving because – one - I’ve been dismissed, and – two - I don’t want to be around for the yelling session when Chris finds whatever Ezra hid in there.

Glancing around, everyone looks like they’re doing something. Of course, with this group, looks are deceiving. Oh, crud. Buck’s working on a report. Okay, I’ll get maybe three minutes done before he tries to access the wrong site and the internal system locks his computer. Again. Maybe some preventative measures are called for now. "Buck?"

"Yeah, Kid?"

"Don’t try to access those pages again."

"I won’t. I’ve gotta get this report done." He gives me this wounded look.

"Yeah, right. I know you. Please? The web page has to be done by tomorrow for the Law Department to review."

"Don’t worry, and get back to work. I swear, you should be done with that thing by now."

Now I do roll my eyes. The reason I’m not done is because when I get to the point where I can’t stop, it never fails - someone yells my name. Come on, guys, Nathan, Ezra, and Josiah are just as good as I am, but do you bug them? NO!

I drop back in my chair, and start working on the easy stuff that I can stop at any time. The real meat of the web page I’m updating will take my full concentration, and I can’t do that with –


that happening every few minutes.

"What, Buck?"

"It’s stuck."

"Did you restart?" I quit saying reboot two weeks ago, because Buck’s idea of a reboot is to either kick it off the roof, or put his boot on the main unit and give it a ‘nudge’.


I yell, "You went to the page again."


"Buck." I wait him out.

"Well, yes."

Hitting my forehead with my palm, I shake my head, run, and reset Buck’s system. Resetting’s a five-minute process of three restarts and several illegal commands to get around the Bureau’s block, and prevent them from realizing Buck did it AGAIN. See, he’s the reason we nearly lost Internet access, because he got the system locked in an adult pop-up ring, and it wouldn’t stop until it overloaded.

That gave Chris a headache, Buck a pair of ringing ears, and a scathing lecture for me from Chris to figure out how to block Buck from doing that again. I couldn’t, but the ATF did. So every time he tries to access the page, his computer freezes. I have less than two minutes from the time he locks it up until Tech Support finds out someone did it again. If they find out, they’ll start backtracking, but it takes those slowpokes longer than it takes me to fix his system. Saying I can get to it quick enough. If I get to it within the first two minutes, I can hide him from the main computer, and then unlock his terminal.



"STAY OUT OF THAT SITE!" I whack him in the head and walk away.

I make it four minutes, twenty nine seconds before my name’s called again. It’s Vin. That’s okay.

"Yeah, Vin?" I walk over, squatting down beside him.

"Can I move this paragraph down here, without havin’ ta retype it?"

"Sure. That’s the cut and paste function." I know that if I can get him to do it himself, he’ll remember forever, and he’ll also write down notes after I’ve left. I won’t get this question again from him, unless he can’t read his notes. "Take your mouse and highlight the section you want to move."

"Okay." He did that.

"Go up to the top and click on the scissors."

"’Ey, it’s gone!"

"Not really. Just hidden for now. Now, put your cursor where you want it, and make sure that’s right where you want the paragraph to go."

"Reckon here works."

"See the clipboard?"

"Looks like a suitcase."

"Your choice. Click on that."

"There she goes. Thanks, JD."

"Anytime, Vin." I walk back to my desk, listening to him scribbling down how to do that.

I rub the back of my neck, looking to see where the next question will come from. Buck’s actually typing his report. Wow. Josiah and Nathan are working quietly, and so’s Vin. Ezra’s using his laptop because he swears the computers here are cursed and conspiring against him.

And there’s a yell. I cringe.


Hey, it’s not me!

Ezra’s cringing.


Chris isn’t happy, but Ezra carries himself into the office full of dignity. The door slams. Uh-oh. A closed door means it’s gonna be a good dust up over something on the expense report that Chris doesn’t want the rest of us to hear.

Well, I’m going back to work. I don’t even look at the clock; I just keep working. Eventually, Ezra comes out, but it stays quiet. Hey, it’s time to go home. They went a whole hour without a question. That may be a record.

"Kid? Quitting time."

"Yeah, I know, Buck. I’m staying for a bit."

"The web page?"


"Want me to stick around?"

I smile up at him. "No, that’s okay."

"Need anything?"

"I’m fine."

"Call me if you want a package."

"I will."

Once everyone’s gone, I really get to work. See, the web page was giving me all kinds of fits. First I had to take down the firewall, which didn’t make sense, because I didn’t have to take it down before, but now I do. Then I had to download everything again, and upload it back into the site. Once I changed everything I needed to, I had to check every link to make sure they all worked. Finally it’s all ready to go, but now it won’t upgrade.

I cussed. Long, loud, and fluently, because it’s nearly six o’clock, I’m fighting this system, and I’m just tired of dealing with computers.


My head falls into the keyboard. Chris. "What?"

"You all right, son?" He lays a comforting hand on my shoulder.

"The web page won’t work right, and it’s due tomorrow. I’m sorry, Chris."

"That’s okay. I got you another week."

"Huh?" My head snaps up so fast to look at him I think I gave myself whiplash. His eyes look almost…kind. They twinkle a bit, too.

"Did you think I didn’t notice you work with a perpetual cringe?"


"Yeah. You’re waiting for the next person to do something to the computers and yell for your help. I noticed whenever you have big projects due, that’s when everyone gets on the computers and you’re helping them more than you’re doing your job."

"It’s okay." I half-shrug. "I’m the computer guy. It’s my function."

Chris gives me a gentle smile. "You’re also a highly trained Agent that shouldn’t be babysitting grown men who are in various stages of terror about using new technology. Figure your back hurts every night when you go home from bunching your muscles like that."

"How’d ya know?"

He gives me this look like it’s a no-brainer. "Because, JD, I know my team. And starting next week, six of us are going to a computer class hosted at the college. We’re going to improve our computer skills, so you don’t have to do all these late nights."

"You are?"

"Which means no more cringing."

"I can deal with that. Thanks, Chris."

"Save your thanks for after we come back from class. We’ll know just enough to be dangerous." He pats my shoulder affectionately.

"Is a massage a legitimate business expense?"

He laughs as he walks away from me. "According to Ezra it is."