From:"josette Grover"
            Date:Mon, 11 Dec 2006 10:18:35 -0500
            Subject:[imaginings] Look out, evil bunny on the loose

 Another form of Miami childhood, where Horatio is raising Xander, except he's a teenager (think just before Graduation)

Xander is Ray Sr.'s bastard son from before Ray was born, his mother married another man and moved to Sunnydale.  Xan's parents are killed and he finds out who his real father was. Willow gets online, finds out that Xan's dad is dead, but he's got an uncle living--Horatio. They contact him and send him e-mail, but hear nothing back and Xander shrugs, thinking 'Hey, another family member who doesn't have any need for me' only to have him arrive at Giles' house in person.

(This could be around the same time Horatio finds out that Ray fathered Madison, imagine his reaction to finding out his brother had had two illegitmate children, one older, one younger)

Horatio arranges for Xander to come out and visit him during the summer, watching his younger brother and sister from afar.  Xander decides to take Horatio up on his offer, Xander can move in with him on the agreement that he get a decent job and/or starts going to school.

Xander is at the jewelry store for some reason, ends up saving Speed's life (soldier boy was a trained medic as well as a combat veteran, think Green Beret) by stopping the bleeding long enough for him to get to the hospital.

Also, once the dust has settled and Speed is back at the lab, it's Ray jr. who ends up getting sick, not Madison.  Horatio is forced to admit to Yelina her husband had two illegitimate children.  Madison is too young to be a bone marrow donor, but Xander is a perfect match (and I can't see him letting either kid be hurt if he can help it) and Yelina allows the three to get closer as brothers and sister.

The bunny originally wanted it to be a Xander/Speed pairing (midnight bike rides with Xander holding onto Speed, then making love by moonlight on a deserted beach, but now I'm getting Eric/Xander/Ryan vibes, two men who makes messes for Ryan's OCD to bliss out over, and can you imagine the reaction when Eric brought Xander and Ryan home to meet Momma Delko? World War III, Delko style.)

Josette NC-17

To Be Loved.

Xander looked at the damage the vampires had done this time.  It was his junior year and damn was it bad.  Even to his jaded eye it was bad.  He looked at the other houses in the neighborhood.  Mostly gone too.  He huffed and sighed, looking at the police officer stomping his way.  "Not my fault.  I called you guys when I saw it from up the block."

"Where are your parents, Harris?"

Xander snorted.  "It's Thursday night at seven.  Where do you think they are?"  The officer looked at the house then sighed.   "If I have to I can stay with Willow or Buffy for a few days."

"Social Services...."

Xander let out another bitter snort.  "When was the last time you saw a social worker in this town, Officer Paul?"

"Good point."  He sighed.  "Fine.  I'll escort you over there once I get a statement."

Xander pointed at one of the watching beings.  "His buddies did it and they'll go poof in the jail at sunrise," he said dryly.  "Want us to handle it?"  The officer gave him a look.  "Hey, not like you don't know."

He watched Xander slink over there and tap the vampire from behind.  Then Xander said something and the vampire laughed, bragging loudly about why they had done it, how the souls were going to rejuvenate the Master.  Xander sighed again and staked him.  Then he looked around and waved the stake.  Most of the crowd took off and a few of the normal ones gave him wary looks.  He walked over the pile of dust and came back.  "Thank you.  Tell whoever and I'll do the same."

"Sure.  They're mostly gone.  They didn't realize how much liquor had been soaked into the furniture in my house over the years."  He gave him a look.  "The screams were kinda pretty.  Better than their usual ones."  The officer smacked him on the shoulder. "Sorry, but true.  They probably lit Dad first and he went up in a whoosh from the amount of alcohol on his chest so he caught them too."   He shrugged.  "They said it's a resurrection rite.  Not a clue.  I'll ask around."

"Thank you, Xander.  Come on, let's go.  Where were you when you called?"

"Payphone at the gas station.  I was coming in from patrol actually."

"At least you weren't in the neighborhood so no one can suspect you."  He walked the boy off, taking him Willow's house.  He knocked and Willow's mother answered.  "His house is one of the ones that went up.  Can he stay for a few days until someone figures out if he's got more relatives?"

"Of course.  What about his uncle?" she asked, pulling Xander inside.

Xander snickered. "It's seven, Mrs. Rosenburg.  I'm sure he was in there too."  She gave him a look.  "The ones setting it on fire got caught with all the alcohol spilled around the house.  Trust me, he was probably in there.  His car was in the garage.  I saw the fins go shooting up when it exploded."  She sighed and nodded, patting him on the cheek.  "Thanks, Officer Paul."

"Try to find some other relatives, Harris.  Even if Social Services won't complain you can't stay on your own in this town.  You know better."

"You'd be surprised," he said dryly, giving him a look.  "Thanks for the ride.  Willow, my parents and probably my uncle are no more.  The arsonists were in the house when they lit it on fire and caught themselves."  He walked into her room, nodding at Oz.  "Also, the vamp I got in the crowd said it was a resurrection rite to bring back the Master?" he said more quietly.  "They sent Officer Paul so at least he's got a clue.  He said to tell someone."

"Charming," Oz said.  "Uncle?"

"Probably.  His car was in the garage and it's after seven."  He shrugged.  "I was at the corner and I saw my house go up.  Heard the screams.  I was calling when his car exploded."

"They probably didn't count on the amount of alcohol your parents and uncle would be wearing by now," Willow agreed, grimacing some.  "Well, let's look for more relatives and I'll start a search on resurrection rites for you, Xander."  He nodded, flopping down against her wall.  "You staying here tonight or your bolt hole?"

"Probably there.  It'll be safer and I'll end up having to move in anyway."  They both nodded at that wisdom.  "At least the weapons were there instead of my place."

"Good thing," she agreed, smiling at him.  "Why don't you go eat?  You didn't get much from lunch today."  He nodded, going to beg and browse in the kitchen.  Her mother would feed him.  "Want to do his background search?"

"Sure."  He came over to plug his laptop into hers and get onto the state's database for birth certificates.  It was fairly easy to hack.  He searched for his name, coming up with two.  "Huh.   She amended."

She leaned over his arm to see.  "Xander?"  He came back in.  "She amended your birth certificate?"

He shrugged.  "She did?"  He looked then grunted around his bite of sandwich.  "Not a clue.  Anything different?"

"Later addition of paternal name," Oz offered.  He looked at him.  "She didn't put your dad's name on the original."

"What a shock," he said grimly.  He took another bite.  "Who's he?"

"Don't know yet."  He got into the wider world wide web and typed in that name to search.  "Hmm.  Dead.  Sorry."

"Pity but doesn't really shock me."  He read over his shoulder.  "Hey, my dad was an officer."  Oz pulled up another entry.  "A dirty cop, of course."  He just nodded.  "Charming."  Oz highlighted one section.  "I have relatives.  Apparently a stepmother and uncle.  Should we tell them?"

"You'll have to otherwise social services will eventually," Willow reminded him. "They'll cut your food stamps."

"Point."  He went to talk to Willow's family. "I'm using you guys as payees for their death benefits for SSI," Xander told them.  "Plus giving your addy to welfare if it's okay.  I've got a decent bolt hole."  They both smiled and nodded.  "Thanks, guys.  I'll head over there tonight.  Willow thinks she found an uncle.  So we'll see where that goes."  He finished his sandwich and kissed them on the cheeks. "Willow, I'm heading to my bolt hole to check it over," he called.

"See you at school," she called back.  "I'll tell Giles and them."  She and Oz went back to discussing if they should write his uncle for him or not.  Oz wanted to be more cautious but she wanted him to have good relatives and to be safer.  Even if he did have to leave.

"Thanks.  Hey, maybe I can take tomorrow off school," he said dryly, getting stereo looks.  "I've got to file with welfare and Social Security too, guys.  That's going to take most of a day."  He shrugged at their continued disappointed looks.  "Fine.  I'll wait, look less happy about not living there."  He walked out, sliding into the shadows so he could slink his way to his bolthole.  It wasn't much but it was a nicer home for him.  He found someone had been there and left him a comic book for one of his.  "Hmm.  One of the geek patrol followed me."  He checked the weapons he had stored.  Still there.  He nodded and settled in to watch his hijacked cable on his terribly ancient tv.  It was nice how the mayor had set up the town to hide plenty of demons by giving them underground condos and things.  At least he was on the safer edge of town but the trip to school was going to take nearly forever tomorrow.


Horatio Caine opened up his work email when it beeped at him, frowning at the message that popped up as new.  "You have another nephew," he read.  He clicked on it when he saw it didn't have an attachment.  It gave him two links, one to a high school, and one to a police report.  He checked the sender's name but it was blank and so was the sender's IP.  That meant a hacker sent it.  He called their computer person, bringing him up.  "Tyler, this just came for me."

"Huh."  He sent it to himself.  "I'll see if I can trace it, Horatio."  He went back to his lab.

Horatio stared at the links then clicked on one, looking at the boy's picture.  He did look a lot like his other nephew, but he was older.  He went back to the link for the police report, reading it over.  It was a preliminary on an arson.  The reporter was a Xander...  Harris?  He searched back through his brother's files, the ones he had stolen from his brother's wife before she thought to look through them, claiming he was looking for what case he was working on when he died.  He found that name.  He had thought it sounded familiar.  He read it over.  His brother's first girlfriend had gotten pregnant and left him when he got pushy about her having an abortion.  How did she end up in California from New York?  He kept searching, finding her trail easily enough.  She was in the system, welfare and social security.  He groaned at what he was reading.  "She had bad taste," he decided.  She had been pretty when she was younger. He vaguely remembered her.  Pity about how she turned out.  He got a page from Tyler and went down there, looking over his shoulder.  "Where did it come from?"

"It came from an as of yet unknown hacker who was hacked into the Sunnydale High School server.  The name on the account belongs to a dead teacher when I did a name search through the paper out there."  He looked at him.  "Write back and ask for more information?"

"No, this is a sensitive matter.  I'd rather do it in person.  Thank you."  He got a nod.  "Tell me if you figure anything else out."

"Sure, Horatio."  He watched his boss walk off, going to see if that same address had hacked anywhere else.  He did find it in their system as well, tracing her back.  "Hmm.  He sent that address to his pager in case he wanted it.  This was an interesting case.  He wondered if it was true but it wasn't his place to say anything to anyone about it.  Especially not to the boy's stepmother.


Horatio knocked on a door ten days later, looking at the older man standing there.  "Are you Rupert Giles?"

"I am," he said, standing in his way.  "Who might you be?"

"Lieutenant Horatio Caine, Miami-Dade Crime Lab."

"Oh, dear, she hacked someone down there?" he demanded.

Horatio quirked a small smile.  "Only to find me.  I'm here about an Alexander Harris."

"He's somewhere, I can have him brought here."  He got out of the way, letting him inside.  "How did Xander come to your attention?"

"One of your students sent me an email about a relative dying."  He took off his sunglasses, looking at him.  "I'm told I have a nephew."

"Indeed?"  He found the phone by touch and called Willow.  "Dear, do come here.  I believe you need to talk to someone you hacked in person."  He hung up.  "She'll be right over.  She's only up at Buffy's house.  Would you like some tea?"

"I'm fine for the moment, thank you."  He sat down, watching as a young redhead girl walked in.  It figured, she probably had the redhead temper too.  "Miss Rosenburg I presume?"  She stiffened and looked at him.  "You wrote me."

"I saw your picture, Lieutenant."  She walked over and shook his hand.  "Someone has to sign off on the papers so Xander can be emancipated and live on his own.  His other uncle was in the house when it went up."  She sat down, taking her usual cup of tea from Giles.  "Thank you, Giles."  She beamed at him.  "Xander's at his bolthole."  She looked at him again.  "I'm sorry for your loss."

"I only vaguely remember his mother.  She was fifteen and he was sixteen when they met."

"That explains why she ran away," Willow sighed.  "You'd never get along with Xander if you're uptight."

"We should let the boy make that decision," Giles said firmly.  "It is his family, Willow."

"Like he'd leave," she snorted.  She looked at Horatio again. "Sorry, we kinda need Xander here now and then."

"Then why contact me?"

"Because the state's going to get pushy to find relatives to place him with or someone to sign emancipation papers for him," she said bluntly, staring him down.  "We think it would be best for him."

"He does what here that you need him so bad?"

She gave him a look then smirked.  "I can't tell you."

"Yes, you will," he assured her, standing up.  "Where is my nephew right this moment, Miss Rosenburg?"  She stared at him.  He smirked back.  "You broke the law when you hacked our servers, young lady.  There is a felony hacking charge waiting on you in Miami and I'm the only reason it hasn't been noted."  She went pale.  "Now, where is my nephew so we can meet properly?"

"I'll have him come over," she offered.

"No deal.  Where is he?"

"Show him, Willow," Giles ordered.  "You will not get into a good school with a charge in your records.  Do bring him back here, Lieutenant."  He stared him down.  "It will be a better neutral place for you two to get to know each other."  Horatio inclined his head at that offer.  "Willow."


Horatio pulled out his handcuffs and slid one side open.  "If that's what you choose."  She went pale.  "I do deal with worse people every day and I'm a very good police officer, Miss Rosenburg.  I'm sure others would be more cooperative.  Including his present girlfriend?"  She went really pale at that.  "Now, where is my nephew?"

"Come on," she complained.  "Don't whine if you get dirty.  There's been slime demons recently."  She led him out, slamming the door behind them.

Giles sighed and rubbed his forehead.  "When will they start to think before they act?" he complained.  He took another drink of his tea.  If he had some way of getting in touch with the boy he'd warn him.  His uncle did seem a bit mean.  The boy surely didn't need that.


Willow led him through the airlock into the demon condo section, the unused one.  She led him right to the right door, tapping gently.  "Xander?  Company."  He opened the door with a crossbow in his hands.  "I don't think he's undead yet."

Xander stared at the man behind her.  "Why do I think that she wrote you after I told her no?"

"You probably told her no after she wrote me.  She wrote me the day the fire happened, Alexander."

"Xander, or else I will stake you," he said blandly, getting out of the way so they could walk inside.  "Welcome to my botlhole.  This section of the demonic community was never inhabited."  He checked the hallway for more visitors then closed the door, putting down his crossbow at the continued staring at it.  "Sorry, kinda a habit around here."

Horatio hummed then looked the boy over.  "You're how old?"

"Sixteen.  I won the birthday lottery for kindergarten.  Got to go in at five."

"I see."  He sat down, looking at Willow.  "I'll consider dropping that charge."  She huffed.

"Don't even, she'll have it erased off the books," Xander said dryly.  "She's not the only one in town."  He nodded and she left.  "Tell them I'll be late tonight," he called after her.  He sat down across from him, picking back up his bag of chips and taking a bite, holding it out.

"No thank you.  I try very hard not to pollute myself that way."  He looked at the boy.  "You're technically of age where you could be emancipated.  She said she was hoping for that."  Xander nodded.  "That you're needed now and then?"

"I'm on the city's protection detail."  He ate another bite then put the bag down and opened his soda.  "I don't have much.  I might have some juice if you want some.  Mom tried to have manners now and then."

"Her mother would have been very upset at where she ended up."

"I have a grandmother?" he asked, looking concerned.

"Had.  She died two years ago."  Xander sighed in relief.  "Your father was sixteen when   your mother got pregnant.  She was fifteen."

"Counted long ago," he admitted.  "I figured they had ye old 'have an abortion' fight."  Horatio nodded he was right.  "So how did she end up *here*?"

"She married your stepfather when she was approximately seven months along.  They moved here right before you were born, probably for work reasons.  They had been in Detroit.  I guess that's as much money as she had to get away."  He shifted some, looking the boy over.  "Your father did finally marry and have another son.  A child out of wedlock from an affair while undercover as well," he said quietly.

"Then I'm guessing the second wife is real understanding?"

"His first.  Her first actually."  He smiled.  "You'd like your stepmother.  She's very fierce protecting her son.  Your half-brother Ray Junior."

"Okay, that gives me more of a sense.  She's a whiny person?"

"Yelina's Brazilian.  She's got a temper when things come near her family but no.  She's a very good detective."

"He never told her about me?" he guessed.

"Or your half sister," he agreed.  "I haven't told her about your half sister yet, Xander."  He shifted again, crossing his legs.  "I do think we should get to know each other a bit better before any decisions are made, including the emancipation paperwork your friend wanted me to sign."

"I guess that's reasonable.   So you do what?"

"I head a crime lab," he admitted.

"Do you get many demon and vampire problems?"

"No.  I've only seen one vampire death and it was in New York at the time," he admitted quietly, smiling slightly.  The boy was trying to be very adult about this.  "How are you in school?"

Xander snorted and shook his head.  "You don't want that rant."

"Your father had those years as well.  Mostly through high school."

"I've never not had good years," he admitted.  "The Sunnydale school system is geared to make sheep for later kills, not to raise brilliance.  Willow's constantly complained about because she's ahead and doing things that she shouldn't."   Horatio hummed.  "Believe me, I'm happy enough with my D average.  I'm taking other classes after school that are more important to me.  Like survival."

He nodded once at that.   "No one's turned them in?"

"Sunnydale has this big sucking hole of evil under the school's library.  Everyone pretty well ignores the whole town.  People in the town get some pretty blinders for the most part.  They really don't care unless you die of natural causes or normal people murder around here.  Before you ask, my social worker thinks I'm living with Willow.  I'm not going to counter that notion so I still get my food stamps and things."  He took another drink of his soda.  "I'm okay here...what should I call you?"

"Horatio or Uncle Horatio.  Either's fine, Xander," he said quietly, staring at him.  "Miami could offer you a lot.  Including a decent education."

"I think it's too late for that," he said with a small smile. "I'm a junior, Horatio."

"True, but there's always ways around that."  He stared at him.  "You wouldn't have to answer the door with a crossbow."

"While that might be nice, they need me more than they think.  They don't acknowledge it, they keep trying to protect me from things, but they do need me."

"It's April.  How about we see if you like Miami this summer?" he offered.  "You're out of school in May according to the school's website."  Xander nodded once.  "You could come down, meet the lab's inner family, meet the rest of your family, and see if Miami suited you over the summer.  According the statistics Sunnydale files deaths are usually down over the summer."

"It's too much like hell here then.  Too hot."  He finished his soda, thinking about it.  "I could do that. We're done with our big bad for the year."  Horatio nodded, smiling a bit.  "What would I do down there for support?"

"You can have my guest room," he offered.

"Um, no.  I don't know you.  I also don't take charity from anyone, especially not family. Within a few weeks I'll have their death benefits and things.  It's not enough to bury them and they're already cremated.  The coroner said I could get a used flower pot with a lid for them."  Horatio nodded at that.  "Which I can find at the dollar store around here," he admitted.  Horatio cracked a small smile.  "What can I say, the town's death rate means it's practical because someone always breaks an urn.  So I'll do that or just spread them somewhere like their favorite bar's front steps.  I can live on their death benefits for a while."

"Miami's fairly expensive, Xander, and I'd rather have you where you had support if you got into trouble.  Miami's not like LA.  Well, it can be, but not the parts you're probably used to dealing with."

Xander snickered. "How do you think I afford this place, Horatio?"  He saw the look shot his way.  "Giles has me frisking the vamps before I stake them for things that are necessary or expensive.  I get a forty percent cut.  I've got enough of a nest egg set up to come down and hide in an apartment while I lurk and watch the family."

Horatio tipped his head at that, smiling again.  "That's reasonable, though I don't like your income generation method.  I am a cop, Xander."

"Sorry."  He shrugged.  "They've been drunks as long as I could remember, Horatio.  I've watched out for myself for a very long time.  I've had this place now for over a year."  That got a nod.  "So yeah, I'll be okay."  That got a second nod.  "I might even get a car to drive my stuff down instead of putting it in storage.  Don't know yet."   He grinned.  "What else can we agree on?"

"Can I get into your school and medical records?  In case something happens?"

"Sure.  I don't mind.  Not much in either except disciplinary reports."  He signed the papers Horatio handed over.  "You'll talk to my social worker?"  He nodded, taking the card from him.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  I can guarantee you won't need them in Miami.  I am a decent cook and there's a few people on the staff who would mother you to death if you let them.  Including our ME."

"Your coroner?" he asked, looking confused.

"I run a felony crime lab, Xander.  She's part of my staff.  I see her at least every day.  Unlike here we figure out why people died and make those who caused it pay for what they've done.  I can see you doing that job if you wanted."

Xander shrugged.  "I don't know if I've got a future.  We've got a bigger bad coming next year by the rumors."  Horatio nodded at that.  "That would be non-negotiable."

"If they need you I can see that happening," he agreed. "I know a few people who would probably follow to help."  He smiled at that.  "Now, would you like to get some real dinner?"

Xander checked his watch.  "It's sunset."

Horatio smirked at him and stood up, holding out a hand.  "I grew up in New York, Xander.  Your father and I both did."  He nodded, taking his hand to let him help him up.  "Anywhere decent to eat around here?"

"Eehh, fussy food place or fast food."  He followed behind him, locking his door a few ways.  "I'm not dressed for fussy food."

Horatio looked at him.  "Your father wore the same outfit during his off-hours.  Used to drive Yelina insane."  Xander cracked a small smile.  "That was during the good days."

"I figured it was.  Most people don't dwell on the bad times."  He opened the airlock to let them out, nodding at the mayor's assistant.  "Am I late on the rent?"

"No.  Wondering who your guest was."

"I'm his Uncle."  He shook his hand.  "You would be?"

"The mayor's assistant over these issues, sir.  We've been keeping an eye on the boy to make sure he didn't get into any trouble."

Xander snorted.  "Does that mean I can't go rob the thing with four arms before Buffy kills him?"

"No, he's harmful and annoying us.  The mayor, well, he thinks he's spreading germs, Xander."

"Sure.  We can take him out tonight.  Send Willow an email?"

"Already done."  He smiled.   "We may have someone moving in here next month."

"He'll be gone part of the summer," Horatio told him.  "Then we'll see."

"I'll hold his for him over the summer.  It's not uncommon with how hot it gets around here.   You know of us?"

"Somewhat.  I grew up in New York."

"Ah.  So you would know a bit.  What do you do?"

"He's a cop," Xander said, smirking at him.  "Can we go eat?  He's buying."

"Sure.  Have a good night, Xander, and I'm trying to get him to rent the place underneath you."

"I'll let him hook into the same cable line I am then."  He shrugged and walked Horatio off.  "Just don't," he said quietly.  "The mayor set all this up."  He patted him down, finding his cellphone, calling Willow.  "Check your email.  The mayor's getting germphobic about someone.  Sure, I'll be around.  Dinner.  Thanks."  He hung up and handed it back. "That way you have her number too."

"I already had it.  She's not the only one who can hack.  I had our department ones do her."  Xander smirked evilly at that.  "Indeed.  Lead onto a better place.  Or the rental car.  I left it in the park."

"They'll only drool over it."  Horatio walked him that way, letting him see the hummer.  "Wow.  I thought those were myths."

"No, we use them in Miami in the crime lab.  I'm used to driving one," he said with a smirk.  Xander smirked back and got into the passenger's seat, buckling up.  "They actually enforce that rule?"

"Sure do.  Don't want the sheep dying before they're ready."

"That's fairly depressing."  He started the engine and buckled up, but backed out and went where Xander said.  It was a nice place.  He looked at it then at him.  "You sure you want to eat here?"

"Pizza place at the mall," he offered.  "That way you can find a decent room for the night too."

"That might help, yes."  He headed where the boy pointed.  There was a decent motel halfway there but Xander shook his head.  "No?"

"No, they've got permanent invite spells on the doors.  It's a brothel."  Horatio just nodded and kept going to the mall, which has a Knight's Inn.  He checked himself in then followed the boy to the pizza place he liked.  It was fairly decent.  It'd been a while since he had pizza and it was good.  They talked more about his father and the family he had left.  It was better if he told Yelina first.  Just in case.


Yelina walked into his office the day he got back, smiling at him.  "Hi.  How was your trip?"

"Informative."  He smiled back.  "We should have lunch."

"I know that look.  What else came out of Ray's past?"

"His former girlfriend, before he met you, just recently died.  Left him a few things.  I was out dealing with that."

"Anything good?"

"Some."  He smiled at her.  Xander had asked that he not introduce the subject until he decided if he was ready to stay or not.  "There were some pictures and things."

"Hmm.  Are you going to give them to Ray Junior?"

"I haven't decided yet.  I barely remember the girl.  He was only sixteen."  She smiled at that.  "He was a bit geeky at the time too," he assured her.  "She wasn't a bad girl.  Came from a nice family up the block and things."  She nodded at that.  "But I'm back now."  He took her arm, walking her back to her desk while they chatted.  Then he called Frank Tripp and his team together for a meeting.  "As you can see, I'm back.  What problems did we have when I was gone?"

"Speed's an asshole," Frank told him.

"That's not that unusual," Eric taunted.  "What did he say to you this time?"

"More ugly suit things.  The boy can't complain with what he wears."


"It was!  It was horrifying my witness."

Horatio shook his head and sighed.  "Behave, children."  He looked around.  "Close the door, Calleigh."  She did that.  "While I was gone...."

"Why were you gone?" Frank demanded.  "You never said, just took off in the middle of the night."

"This goes no further but this summer we're going to have a visitor skulking around Miami."  Everyone nodded.  "We will especially not tell Yelina until I'm ready."

"Holy shit," Speed moaned.  "He did?"

"He was sixteen, Speed.  The boy's now his former age."  He looked at him.  "He's asked that I not tell her yet until he decides if he's coming down here or not."  He looked around.  "Xander....  Well he's an interesting teenager.  He's got a combat history for the last year or so.  Calleigh, I'm sure your former contacts in New Orleans heard of Sunnydale?"  She stiffened and growled, nodding slightly.  "He's from there."

"Is he alive?" she demanded.

"He's been handling the things that aren't."

"Oh, crap!  He works with that blonde, yappy thing," she said bluntly.  He nodded.  "Damn."

Frank shifted away from her. Her swearing was enough to make every man duck and run for cover.  "Do I want to know?"

"He's been protecting others, Frank.  Calleigh, I would like to know what they have to say."

She nodded. "I'll call home tonight.  Hold on, how did he get out there?"

"She ran away when Ray didn't want her to have the baby.  Married someone in Detroit and he moved them out there right before Xander was born."

Speed looked at him. "So you've got a new nephew.  Is he cool?"

"Wary.  He answered the door with a crossbow.  He'll come down this summer to see if he wants to live here or not.  Again, he has asked that we not tell Yelina until he makes that choice.  He thought she might get a bit upset or try to mother him.  Which means you can't, Alexx.   I'm not sure he knows what it is.  His parents were alcoholics."  She nodded at that, grimacing.  "He's a nice boy.  He does very poorly in school, mostly due to the school itself, and he runs around with two hackers and the blonde, yappy thing as Calleigh called her.  I would have chosen something less appropriate.  She even made jokes about the hacker who found me being related because of her red hair."

Calleigh held her forehead.  "Okay.  Is she coming?"  He shook his head.  "Thank you, God."  She looked up.  Then she looked at him.  "I will find out everything I can on the boy but let him know someone here knows who he is.  Please.  Otherwise he'll react badly.  I can almost guarantee it, Horatio."

"I will, ma'am," he teased.  "I told him I have a genius ballistics expert who is very sweet and nice, but she's from New Orleans.  He started swearing in a language I can't identify."  She nodded at that.

Frank raised a hand.  "Huh?"

"Sunnydale is like New Orleans' dark side, only quieter," Calleigh told him.  "All those rumors about shamans and voodoo and that stuff?  It happens out there too.  His nephew has been helping someone who stops and hunts those things for the last little while.  He's a bit used to it."

"Miami doesn't have that."

"True," she agreed.  "And he'll probably be kinda bored for a few weeks when he figures that out."  She looked at Horatio.  "When is he coming down?"

"His school gets out May 12th.   He said he'd be down by the end of May.  He'll be staying on his own.  He is very wary.  So if we see the young guy who looks a lot like Ray Junior but isn't, be nice to him.  Please."

"Sure," Eric agreed.  "When you get him used to stuff, I'll take him home to meet the family too.  It'll make him want to stay more.  That way he's normal.  We'll keep him away from geekboy here," he said with a nod at Speed.  "That way they won't interact badly and cause fumes."

"Actually, Xander is a comic book and Star Trek geek," he said, giving them a small smile.  Speed shuddered.  "I know, you and Star Trek are a dangerous combination, but you two may get along well."  He patted his trace expert on the shoulder.  "Any other concerns?"  No one said anything.  "Then let's go back to work and not tell Yelina."  They all nodded.  They didn't want to be in the same building when she heard.  Horatio sat down behind his computer and called up a search on the California Board of Education.  Someone had to do something about that school.  They were letting Rosenburg teach.  He shuddered at the very thought.


Xander came down, looking at the lab while he waited.  He smiled wanly at Horatio.  "There's a lot of glass here."

"It's Miami, it's all about the sun or the pretty people," the guy with Horatio told him, grinning.  "Sorry, had to follow.  Eric Delko."  He shook his hand.   "Don't worry, he warned us but not her."

"Thanks, man."  He grinned at him.  "So, I'm here.  I've got a cheap motel room for the summer.  I've found out that bikini tops are considered clothing.  Even on some of the guys."  Horatio smothered a smile at that.  "I don't mind if guys are gay.  Not sure if I'd want one hitting on me or anything but I guess it's okay."  He shrugged.  "You said I could raid your fridge? Mine has a mini-fridge that won't keep milk cold enough."

"You can but I won't be done for about four hours tonight," he offered.  "I've got a staff meeting with the Chief of Police in an hour."  He wanted to smooth down the fly-away hair but he kept himself from doing it.

"I can scare you totally and bring you home to my family.  They're about to have dinner," Eric offered.  "Momma would smother you to death with attention."

"Not literally, right?" he asked hesitantly.

"Hell no.  We're a nice, normal Cuban-Russian family."

"Okay," he said, shrugging.  "Is that okay with you?"

"That'd be fine, Xander.  Eric can bring you back here and I'll take you to my place for a few hours.  That way you know where I live."  Xander nodded.  "Eric, do tell  your sisters  they may not gossip."

Eric snorted.  "That's like telling Calleigh she can't fire a gun.  Not happenin'."  He walked Xander off, chatting with him about the area of California he was from.  He let the boy take his own car, knowing he needed the feeling of safety.  Plus it gave him time to warn his  mother.  He called her on the way over. "Momma, it's Eric."  He smiled.  "Yes, I'm coming home for dinner for once.  I'm bringing a new person to the city.  No, not the lab, Momma.  Momma, you can't tell anyone but this boy is Yelina's former husband's son.  He was a teenager when the boy was conceived.  Yeah, he's down to see if he can stand H and Yelina as family.  Xander.  He's right behind me in his car."  He checked his mirror and slowed down but Xander turned the corner.  "There he is.  On our way right now.  Tell the gaggle of gossips they cannot tell anyone about him.  He doesn't want Yelina to know until he decides if he's staying or not.  Thanks, Momma.  No, Horatio won't be home in time for dinner and the boy's starved.  He's sixteen, Momma.  Of course he's starved."  He grinned.  "Exactly."  He hung up and pulled into the driveway a few minutes later.  Xander parked on the street behind him, making him smile.  "That's a good spot.  As long as I don't get paged."

"Then I'll move the car," he said with a small shrug.  "I'm flexible sometimes."  He stepped back when three older women came out of the house chatting and grabbing Eric for a hug.

"Sisters, this is Xander."

"Momma said you were coming," the youngest said, taking his arm.  "I'm Marisol.  Call me Mari, Eric does."  She walked him inside.  "Momma, they're here," she called.

"I thought Buffy was loud," he said, trying for teasing.  "She's a former cheerleader.  She's blonde and perky too."

She giggled and hugged him.  "Relax.  We're not mean to anyone but Eric."  She pushed him into a chair.  "You sit there.  Ignore Poppi if he gets grumpy.  He had stupid clients at work who wanted tasteless things done with their home."  She sat down next to him, smiling when their mother and the oldest sister came out with dinner.  "Momma, this is Xander."  He waved, still looking a bit scared.  "She's not the scary one.  That's the middle sister," she assured him.  That sister smirked and waved.  "She's nearly demonic."

"Have you tried an exorcism?  I have a friend who's very good at them," he offered, making her cackle.  "Seriously, she says I get possessed all the time."

That sister beamed at him.  "You'll do just fine, Xander."  She handed him food.  "Here, load up before Grace so Eric doesn't steal it all.  He's bottomless pit."

"I work all day," Eric complained.  "I even had to go into one of the canals today."  He took his usual seat, bending his head and saying grace once his mother sat down.  He took some of the food.  "Where's Poppi?"

"At work with the stupid people who want a roman bath in a New England house," Marisol told him, taking a bowl.  She added more to Xander's plate then her own, handing it over behind Xander's back.  "Eat."

Xander ate, smiling at Eric's mother.  "Can I kidnap you back to Sunnydale with me?"

Eric snorted and shook his head.  "I'd hate to have to hunt you down, kid.  Take Mari. She's single and bored.  No one would miss her."  She slapped him on the arm.  "Ow, wench."  He rubbed it.   "Momma, she's being mean to me again."

"Eat, Eric.  You're so hungry you're being silly," his mother said patiently, eating a bite of food.  "Where is Sunnydale, Xander?"

"California.  A few hours outside of LA."  Her fork dropped.  "Oops.  You heard of us?"  She said something in Spanish and he nodded, replying back.  She just nodded.  "But I'm here for the summer."

"You'd better stay," Eric told him, looking down.  "H quit pouting for the last week in anticipation."  He gave him a look.  "Besides, you have to meet the others and your stepmom."

"Is she a nice lady?"

"Most of the time," Eric agreed.  "Now and then, not so much.  Then again, most of those times someone's trying to threaten her family and she's going to take a shoe to them."

"You can do a lot of damage with a shoe.  Buffy has."

"Heels are dangerous, that's why women wear them," the middle sister said, adding more food to Xander's plate.  "Eat or you'll never be as pretty as Eric is."

Eric gave her a look.  "What's wrong, your husband call my name again?" he taunted with a smirk.  Marisol and his mother both got him that time and that sister growled something in Russian that made Xander cackle.  He looked down.  "He got drunk and did it once."

"Well, you are cute but I've seen cuter today on the beach, even wearing a bikini top."   Eric beamed at that.  "Of course, he looked a little strange in the sparkly halter but oh well."  He ate a bite of food while Eric choked.

The middle sister looked at him.  "We'll adopt you and let Eric go away," she decided. "You mind, Momma?"

"No, he's a nice boy," she assured her.  She ate a bite of food, getting up to get another plate when her husband walked in, giving him a kiss and whispering in his ear.

The father looked at him.  "Well, at least you're small so you'll eat less," he decided.  "Les than Eric anyway."  He sat down and dug into the dinner.  "What do you out there, Xander?"

"I'm presently having a stunning D average in school."  Everyone stared at him.  "They were teaching us simple multiplication in math this year," he said.  That got a hotter glare.  "What?  I've got too many other things to worry about."

Eric just nodded. "We can help with that.  I'm sure we can even call the state school board."

"Why?  It's an evil town.  They like to ignore us."

"That'll change," Eric assured him.  "Yelina will storm their office and scream until they do something.  She did when Ray Junior's school started to teach a sex ed/abstinence program that said sex was only for dirty, wrong people who liked sheep."  He ate another bite.  "I think that rant went on for over three hours."

His mother nodded.  "Indeed.  She brought in one of the older grandchildren as well.  Eat, Xander."  He dug in again.  "Good boy."  She smiled.  "Do you have many friends?"

"Willow and her boyfriend Oz.  Buffy.  She's having some emotional issues at the moment."

"Calleigh, our ballistics expert...."

"Horatio told me," he assured him.

Eric smiled.  "He said he did.  She called her the blonde, yappy thing."  Xander giggled so hard he fell out of his seat.  "Guess she was right."  Someone knocked on the door.  "What!" he called.  Horatio walked in.  "We done early?"

"More or less.  The Feds walked in and sealed the lab.  They've got a case on-going and don't want to ship so they took over for the night."  He patted Xander on the back.  "Whenever you're ready we'll go to my place."  Xander smiled at him and nodded.

"Sit and eat, Horatio," Eric's mother demanded, going to get him a plate.  "Your nephew is a charming young man."

"Yeah, we want to trade him for Eric," the middle sister said dryly, eating a bite of food.  Their father looked at her.  "He said he knew someone who could do an exorcism when Eric said I was demonic."

Eric's father looked at the boy.  "We tried.  The priest said it was too entrenched."  He ate a bite of his own, shifting so Horatio could sit next to his nephew.  "Eat, son.  They'll fuss otherwise.  A Cuban woman fussing is a sight to back away from.  It saves you if you do."  Xander dug in again, making them all smile.  He looked at Horatio.  "How is the lab?"

"Doing good."

"It's a lot of glass," Xander told them all.  They all nodded.  "Isn't that dangerous?  I know you guys get hurricanes instead of earthquakes....."

"We told them," Eric told him.  "They didn't listen.  We usually evacuate most of the station."  That got a nod and Xander ate another bite.  "What were you thinking about doing when you got older?"


"Always a good thing," Horatio agreed.  "Community college?"  Xander gave him an odd look.  "That's like vocational school, Xander."

"I can see me going to Vo-Tech.  They won't let Sunnydale into the regional Vo-Tech."  He shrugged and ate another bite.  "We'll see.  I've got to make it through graduation first."

"True," Horatio agreed, patting him on the back.  "How is Willow?"

"Worried you're going to snatch and keep me.  Though she thinks I'm only good for snacks and comic relief and she's trying very hard to ignore the fact that she's thinking about me like she does her boyfriend Oz.  Things are strange.  Remember Cordy?"


"Somehow I ended up dating her."

Horatio tipped his face up.  "You have better taste than that," he said simply.  Xander grinned at him. "I know it's a desire to have someone there but you definitely have better taste than that thing masquerading as a female."

"She's a cheerleader."

"Obviously.  She's also meaner than Speed is."

"She swore up and down she's coming down in July to check on me," he said grimly.

"We'll let Speed have her," he said with a small smile.  "Then let Calleigh finish her off."  He patted him on the head.  "Eat."  Xander dug in.  He looked at Eric.  "Not even you would date something that mean, Eric."

"Meaner than my sisters?"

"Combined," Horatio assured him.  Eric shuddered. "She's the big fish in a little pond."

"She's not that bad all the time."

"Xander, she put you down because you were wearing baggy jeans.  Yes, she is."

Xander looked at him.  "You're not making me have happy Miami thoughts."

"Which is reasonable but you've still got to see that she is damaging to your self-esteem.  And everyone else's," he admitted.

"So she made one girl go invisible.  She's tortured others for years, Horatio."

"She sounds like the sort the three of us girls would've ganged up on back in school," Marisol said.  The other two nodded.  Her mother gave her a look.  "What?" she said, looking sweet and innocent.  "Can you think of a better way to handle some snotty girls?"

"Yes, but I do loathe the IRS," Horatio said dryly.  Xander gave him another look.  "What?"

"They're auditing them this summer.  That's why she's coming down."

"Then perhaps she'll show manners," Horatio offered gently.  Xander shrugged and started to eat again.  If not, Horatio had no problem introducing her to Yelina, Speed, and Alexx.  No, he'd best leave Alexx off.  Otherwise he was being evil.  He ate a bite of dinner.  "This is great, Mrs. Delko, thank you for inviting us."

She waved a hand.  "I'm used to feeding bigger stomachs.  Eric must be sick, he's not eating that much."  Eric snorted and got seconds.  So did Marisol.  "Do you want more, Xander?"

"Say yes, son," Mr. Delko ordered.  "She'll do it anyway."

"I could use a little bit more of the wrapped stuff," he offered, holding up his plate.  The sister nearest that dished some out.  "Thank you."  He grinned and dug in again.  "I ended up putting most things into storage," he told Horatio.

Horatio nodded, swallowing quickly.  "As long as it's safe."

"It should be."  He ate another bite.  "Does this mean I get to lurk around my half- brother?"

"If you want or I can introduce you."  He smiled at him.  "Ray always wanted siblings, Xander.  He'll be more than happy to meet you."

"If you introduce us, she'll find out."

"Perhaps but he's a teenager.  He can keep secrets from her."  He patted his back.  "We'll figure that out later."  Xander nodded, eating again.  Horatio finished his plate and waved off the offered seconds.  "No thank you.  I managed to make it to lunch today."  That got a smile from Eric.  "Yes, during the budget meeting.  He took us out to eat so he could try a new restaurant."  Once Xander was done and had said his appropriate thank yous they left, him letting Xander follow his hummer to the house.  He waited for him to park, letting him into the house.  "This is my place."

"I'd hope you weren't breaking and entering," he teased.

"Only when I lose my keys."  He looked around.  "Someone was here however."  He went to snoop in the kitchen.  "Ah, Alexx was here.  We'll have something for a snack later so we can tell her how good it was."  He let Xander look around, getting him a glass of milk.  "Here, to kill the spices."  Xander grinned and drank it, going to look out toward the ocean.  "It's a beautiful view," he agreed, following him out.  "That's why I bought the house.  The ocean soothes me."  Xander looked at him. "I help a lot of people in a great deal of pain."

"I guess you would," he agreed quietly.  "You're trying too hard."  Horatio smiled at that, sipping his own milk.  He looked at him.  "Where do you see this going?"

"I'd like to have my family closer," he admitted, staring at him.  "In Miami if possible.  I'd like to see you all get along.  I'd also like to see you have a great future and be able to watch you finish growing into it."  Xander nodded once.  "What do you want?"

"Someone who gives a damn about me."

"I can easily do that.  You're very easy to like."  Xander snorted.  "Talk to me, Xander.  What did the girls do?"  Xander looked at him.  "You don't let anyone else get to you and you mentioned Cordelia.  It looked like you were asking for advice."

"I could use a bit.  It's like we're bipolar.  We fight and then we make out in closets."  He finished his milk and put the glass down.  "I don't know what the hell is going on in my life, Horatio.  I've got the bitchy cheerleader on my butt and Willow keeps giving me the same looks I give to twinkies.  I'm figuring things out and part of that was what Faith and I did felt really *wrong* and I'm not sure if it was because she used me like I was a sex toy or not or if it was because it was *her*.  Plus the crap with Jack."  He sat down, looking at him.  "I'm seriously confused."

"I don't remember hearing anything about a Jack."

"I didn't tell you about the zombies and the bomb?"

"No.  I get the online edition of the Sunnydale Herald and it mentioned a bomb."  He stared at him.  "How were you involved?"

"Jack basically decided to use me and told me I could hang with the cool kids," he said, slumping down.  "We went to raise a few of his friends.  I found out he was a zombie.  It was the same night Faith and I got it on for the whole five minutes."  Horatio stroked over his hair.  He looked at him.  "It was an insane night.  They kept saying they were going to bake a cake.  They broke into the hardware store and got stuff to make a bomb.  I ended up facing him down about it in the basement of the school."  Horatio nodded, staying silent.  "And I realized then that I was so used to liking the quiet and being ignored that I was probably depressed.  I was going to stand there until he blew us both up to prove I was a better person than he was.  Of course, I pointed out he wouldn't get to come back again, but yeah, I was going to stand there."  He shrugged.  "That was an insane night.  The group sent me away because they decided I'm worthless and have to be protected.  Like I'm Timmy on South Park apparently.  Because, you know, I *never* did anything!  Ooh, no, not me.  I only brought her bitchiness back to life!  Nah, I wasn't the only real backup she had!  Because Willow doesn't hunt and Buffy's a crap hunter and I do better when I'm alone but I can't hunt worth a damn with them around.  It's like some sort of spell.  And when I asked that Willow walked off laughing telling me it was because I was a dumbass who was paranoid."

"You're not paranoid.  You're self-conscious," Horatio corrected mildly, sitting them down so he could look at the boy.  This panic was informative but not good for him.  "What happened with Faith?"

"She was on a slaying high and I helped finish off the demons."  He slumped.  "I gave her a ride home and she jumped me.  Pulled me into her hotel room and basically stripped us both so she could climb on top to wear out the extra hormones or whatever."

"That's almost a normal reaction," he admitted.

"Did you do it when you walked into the bomb-filled warehouse?"

Horatio gave him a look.  "Touche, Xander.  No, I had a long time calming down and I shook for a few hours.  Then Speed bought me a beer and I came home to have nightmares."  Xander sighed and nodded, slumping some.  "Was it consensual?"

"I'm sixteen, Horatio," he said dryly.

"Even sixteen-year-old boys can say no, Xander."

"I didn't have time and she was cutting off my airway for part of it," he mumbled.  Horatio tipped his face up.  "It went to hell, Horatio.  And now I'm seeing Cordy!  I'm wondering if I need drugs."

"You're searching for acceptance and a link back to the friends you had last year, Xander.  Nothing more.  The same as Willow eyeing you like you're a twinkie is her way of doing that."  Xander nodded, relaxing again.  "The fact that you were willing to stand there and let him blow you both up bothers me, but with your past I'm not very surprised."  Xander looked at him.  "I'm not.  The fact that you trust yourself was a gigantic revelation we all have sometime.  Most of us don't do it in front of a bomb that's ticking down.  The fact you proved yourself to be a stronger man than him does please me, but not the method you came to that conclusion.  If it happened again...."

"I was saving the school," he said with a near pout.

"Which is admirable but what would the world do without you?"

Xander looked at him.  "The girls think they know."

"I don't."

Xander stared at him. "You're serious?"

"Of course I am."  He smiled.  "I'm very serious, Xander.  I'm your uncle.  I'd say the same thing to Ray Junior if he was here with this sort of problem.  I had that same revelation while I was drag racing.  I was at about ninety miles an hour on a back road outside New York City.  I was very tense and nearly crashed twice but then I realized I had control over the car and didn't run over the old lady suddenly crossing the street.  Won the race too."

"So yours was potentially fatal but not world ending?"

"True.  What else was going on?"

"There was some monster coming out of the hellmouth and everyone decided I was worthless to the fight."

"Hmm.  Sounds like they were trying to protect you and got it wrong."  Xander grimaced. "I'm sure that's what they were trying.  Remember, it's Buffy's duty, not yours.  You chose it and you can choose which battles are yours.  Including the ones with your friends. You don't have to like them to work with them.  I work with a number of detectives I loathe.  I occasionally work with a man in IAB who I want to shoot.  By the way, he's dating Yelina at the moment."

"Poor woman.  Does she have bad taste?"

"She was lonely, he was around."  He shrugged. "I'm sure he can be decent sometimes.  He was the one who went after Ray though and I don't like him.  He's tried to discredit me a few times."  Xander gave his hand a squeeze.  "We'll work on it, Xander."  He smiled at him.  "Next time you decide to try a woman, make it last longer."

"I didn't *choose* to do it that time. She pulled me into the room and stripped me then climbed on top.  It was nice but fast and it made my stomach hurt.  Like I was going to hurl."

"That's because you weren't completely ready."  He stroked over his hair again.  "Eric probably knows someone who has a sister your age so maybe he can set you up with someone nice.  He does date a lot," he said at the curious look.  "You're not old enough for his taste in women but maybe one has a younger sister or friend.  We'll see this summer."

"Then I'd be unfaithful to Cordy."

"That's an unhealthy relationship, Xander.  That way leads to needing bail money."  Xander grimaced.  "Really.  I've seen it before.  It's like Bonnie and Clyde."

"No, I'd never rob something to amuse her.  I might spank her but I'd never hurt someone to amuse her.  I've got ..."  He shook his head.

"The slaying's getting to you," he said quietly.  Xander looked at him again.  "It's battle fatigue, Xander.  It happens to even the best soldier.  Man was not meant to do things like that every day of the year for years on end.  That's why the military gives R&R.  You can consider this yours and a time to see if you want a discharge."

Xander shrugged. "They still need me.  Giles is a crap planner.  Faith's on the edge of turning sides.  Hell for a bit I almost wanted to change sides," he said bitterly.  "It'd be so much *easier*, Uncle Horatio."

"I know."  He gave him a sad smile.  "I've had a lot of cases where I *knew* who had done it but I couldn't fully prove it.  I could have manufactured evidence or tampered or any number of things.  I realized it wouldn't do the families or victims any good if I did.  They'd lose me when they needed me."  Xander nodded, looking at his hands again.  "Come on.  Want to spend tonight in the guest room?  I know you're tired."

"Yeah a bit but I should go back.  The manager said he'd be watching for me to stumble in drunk so he could call the cops on me for underage drinking."

"Where are you staying?"  Xander handed over a card he pulled out of his back pocket.  "Xander, the owner is a suspect in two different killing sprees."  Xander looked at him.  "Did he like you?" he teased.

"No.  Said he wouldn't put up with any funny stuff from me.  Said if he caught me drinking he'd be turning me in.  He thought I was a runaway."

"I'll talk with him tomorrow, make sure he knows to call me if something happens.  Like you get in an accident," he said to ease the frown.  "I'm not going to meddle.  If you need me you're more than mature enough to come to me."  Xander nodded at that.  "Good.  Now, go settle into the spare room."  He pointed.  "In there, and there's a great shower too."  Xander smiled and went that way.  Horatio went to make himself a snack, going to sit outside and watch the water for now.  His soul ached for his nephew.  Xander padded out a bit later in one of his t-shirts and sweatpants.  "Those look better on you than they did on Speed when he got water damage and couldn't stay at home for a week."


"Neighbor's cooking accident lit a shared wall on fire.  The fire department yelled at him for having books."  He patted a seat and shared the popcorn, getting a small smile.  "You haven't asked about Ray."

"Me asking isn't going to bring him back or into my life," he pointed out, eating a bite.  "If I leave him a shadowy person in the mists of the past, I don't have to worry about what he might've done."  Horatio looked at him.  "Willow researched him."

"He was undercover.  He got hooked while he was undercover.  That's where your half- sister Madison came from."  He ate a bite.  "He wasn't always like that, Xander."

"Yeah but I'm betting his son's still mad."

"Often.  He's almost fourteen."  He smiled at him.  "You two will get along fine.  Watch out for some of his friends.  He went through a 'thug' phase recently.  They were torturing homeless people."

"You guys have homeless people?"

"We don't have a vampire menace here."

"Good point."  He nodded, eating another bite.  "Any hotties I can date?"

"Calleigh but she's too old for you," he admitted.  He ate another piece.  "Some of the women in the lab are nice.  Alexx has some nice friends who might have daughters your age.  I don't know.  I'll ask around."

"Would I taint them?  Or go odd with them?"

"Perhaps but you don't want to jump into anything anyway, Xander.  You do not want to be like Eric and only have casual sex but no one to hold you when you have nightmares."

"Sex is nice," he countered.

"Yes, but then there's no one there who'll wake up with you and hold you when you start ranting about Cordy in your sleep."

"That could be a nice thing," he admitted.  "Do you have anyone?"

Horatio smiled.  "Not in a long time," he said gently.  "I tend to let all those urges come out in the work."

"You get to have sex for work?  Are you making the others focus or is that a bonus for good work?"

Horatio smirked at him.  "Smartass," he said dryly.  Xander only smirked back.  "I channel it into other urges, like the drive that makes me work very long hours sometimes."  Xander nodded, getting that.  "The same as you've probably channeled yours into y our hunting duties."  Xander nodded and sighed at that.  "It's the same thing only I don't stake things or behead them."

"That's probably a good thing.  The other citizens might not like that."

"Then maybe they'd quit killing people."  He stole the popcorn bowl back.  "Go dig out some of Alexx's food, Xander."  He went to snoop in the fridge, coming back with a plate and both milk glasses refilled. "Thank you."

"Least I can do."  He sat down, putting his feet up in the spare chair while he ate.  "The Delkos were pretty nice.  Kinda strange though."

"They were normal.  You'll get used to normal."


"Because everywhere but Sunnydale normal prevails," he said wisely.  "Some day you may even get to have a family like that if you wanted and worked for it."

"Eww, kids."

"Your father said the same thing."

"I guess he had good birth control most of the time."

"I think Yelina took away his condoms to get Ray Junior," he admitted, thinking back. "She definitely wanted the baby more than he did.  He wanted to wait a few more years."

"So, he was nineteen when Ray was born?"

"They were both in college before the academy," he sighed.  He ate another bite of popcorn.  "Where did you find chips?"

"Second cabinet from the fridge."

"Then maybe Speed *and* Alexx were here.  Garlic?"  He nodded.  "Those are Speed's favorite.  You'll like Speed.  He's like a nicer version of your Cordy."

"He won't want to date me, right?"

"I'd hope not.  I'd hate to have to bury him for it."  Xander cackled.  "You're too young for him and he'd kill you on his bike."  He smiled slightly.  "Though it would be an *interesting* relationship."  He ate another bite, trying hard to get that picture out of his head.


Xander watched the young man walk out of the school a few weeks later, nodding at a teacher staring at him.  He had watched his brother a few times but today he was going to actually meet him.  "I'm a friend of the family.  I'm here to take him out for the afternoon," he explained to the guard she summoned.  "Ray.  Horatio sent me."


"An afternoon off having fun, man.  He said your mother's stifling you again."

Ray looked at him, noticing ...something.  He couldn't quite figure out what.  "Did he send you with a note?  They won't let you take me off campus."  Xander smirked and handed over the one from his pocket.  He looked at it then at the guard.  "Uncle Horatio sent him."  He put it into his pocket, walking off with him.  "So, Eric sent one saying I should trust you," he said quietly once they were in Xander's car.  "Where are we going?"

"Arcade, pizza place, wherever."

"Okay.  Pizza place is good."  He pointed.  "Six blocks that way then left."  Xander nodded, starting the engine.  He grimaced.  "Ow, that's a bit rough."

"It's used, Ray, I'm only sixteen," he complained, heading the way he ordered.  "What do you think is going on?"

"I have no damn clue.  You look familiar."

"Yeah, relatives do that from what I understand."  Ray gaped at him.  He looked over then back at the road.  "We'll talk in public so you don't feel uncomfy."

"No.  Pull over, we'll talk now."  Xander parked and turned off the engine, looking at him.  "Which side are you related to?"  Xander gave him a look.  "Uncle Horatio?" he asked hopefully.

"Apparently there was a 'you should have an abortion' talk when our father was my age."

"Oh, crap!  Does my mom know?"  Xander shook his head.  "Why not?"

"I said not to tell her until I decide if I'm staying in Miami or not.  He said she's a bit fussy and loud."

"Putting it mildly, dude."



"Yeah, they named Alexander.  Can't stand the full version."

"I guess that's cool.   So, where did you grow up?"

"Hell."  Ray blinked.  "Sorry Sunnydale.  Bad town."

"Like gangs?"

"No.  No gangs.  They got eaten.  We're where cracked out writers go for horror movie plots."

"Is it cool?"

"Staking people you grew up with?"

"Never mind. That's a lot more hardcore than my friends."

Xander shrugged.  "I live in a kill or be eaten town, Ray.  It's not cool.  It's tiring.  I'm dating someone that Horatio said to explain her as worse than Speed if you asked."

"Damn," he said, looking awed.  "Okay.  So, now what?"

"You're my little brother.  I thought I'd start learning what the family was like with you.  I'm an only kid and I have problems dealing with normal things.  If you can put up with me and I decide to stay you can help me with your mom.  Maybe help Horatio tie her down or something."

"It's gonna take more then simple handcuffs or duct tape," he said dryly.   He stared at him for a minute.  "I'm not supposed to know but have you heard about Madison?"

"Seen her picture.  Horatio told me."

"You don't have to call him uncle?"

"We're still working on that."

"I guess that's reasonable.  Pizza?"

"Pizza good."  He started the engine then pulled out into traffic, going to the place Ray suggested.  They talked over a large pepperoni pizza and some breaksticks, him telling who he was and showing off pictures of his girls.  Ray told him about himself and the rest of the family.  It sounded cool so far.  At the end Xander ended up driving Ray home before his mother worried.

Ray walked in.  "Sorry, mom, went home with a friend today.  We went for pizza.  He's having woman problems."

"You're too young, Ray."

"Yeah but I make a good wall to talk to," he said with a shrug.  He gave her a hug.  "It's fine.  We ate, we talked.  He's got some shitty friends."


"She is!  She sounds grumpier than Uncle Speed, Mom."  He went into the kitchen to get an apple.  "When's dinner?"

"Now.  Put it back."

He put the fruit back and went to clean up, taking his usual seat at the table.  "He's okay now."

"Do I know this friend?"

"Not yet.  He heard you're fussy.  He said you'd probably meet him later this summer."

"I'd prefer meeting him before you two started to get so chummy."

"Uncle Horatio introduced us.  Eric Delko knows him."

"I guess that's fine.  If Horatio vouches for him."  Ray nodded, dishing out food.  "Say grace," she ordered. Ray mumbled a quick one and dug in.  "I thought you said you ate!"

"I did, an hour ago.  I'm fourteen, mom!"  He started to stuff his face.  "So, he's from Cali, by LA."  She rolled her eyes.  "He's a nice guy.  From a rougher part of town but not involved in gang things.  He's thinking about writing horror stories."  She shook her head and started to eat.  "He's a really nice guy."

"What's his name?"



"Short for Alexander, Mom.  His parents named him funny."  That got another eyeroll and she stuffed her mouths so she wouldn't comment.  "His middle name is Lavelle."

"That is a bit odd.  Family name?"  Ray shrugged. "You didn't ask?"

"He didn't know.  His family recently died.  He's moving in with relatives."

"I'm sorry.  What happened?"

"Arson.  Lit most of a street on fire."  He ate another bite, watching her.  "You'll like him when you meet him."

"I'm sure I will.  He sounds like you two could have a lot in common."  He nodded, eating another bite.  "How was school?"

"Boring as picking up dog turds in the park."


"Sorry."  He ate another bite, smiling a bit.  "I didn't get detention when the girl tried to give me a wedgie so I smacked the crap out of her again."

She sighed. "I'll talk to your teacher tomorrow.  No more going out with friends without telling me."

"Fine.  Uncle H gave him a pass to let me leave with him."

"I suppose that's fine since he vouched for him.  Call me the next time."


Xander looked down when his phone beeped a few days later.  "That's Willow."  He walked away from the table.  "It's me," he said.  "Dinner, Wills.  What's going on?"  He listened, then nodded once.  "Where did Oz find that?"  He blinked then sighed.  "Thanks for the info.  Yeah, I'm still here.  Little brother, little sister.  A really crazy family in his lab."  Eric snickered at that.  "Who I'm having dinner with.  Sure, soon."  He hung up and walked back to the table.  "Willow and Oz went trolling," he said, looking at his uncle.  "We should talk about what she found later."

"You can say anything in front of these ones here, Xander.  Not everyone else," he said quietly.

"Oz was checking his and Willow's ratings in the FBI."  He swallowed and Horatio put down his fork calmly.  "They found some records that indicate some burials were premature."

"Your father?" Horatio asked quietly.  Xander nodded quickly.  "When?  Or why?"

"Not totally sure.  Oz is trying to see if he can dig more.  She called and said he's working.  That's all she said then she asked what we're having for dinner."  He stared at him.  "I don't know anything but you'll be getting an email with what she finds.  She's like that."

"Thank you."  He made himself relax.  "This is a summer for surprises."

"True, and Ray and I had pizza earlier this week."  That got a happier look from Horatio.  "We talked about a lot of stuff.  I told him about my Cordy addiction."  Horatio shook his head quickly.  "He said his mother was nicer."

"When she's happy," Speed agreed.  He patted Xander on the back.  "Eat."  Xander dug in again.  "We'll help, H.  You know that."

"I do.  Thank you, Xander."

"Thank her in person."

"I can do that."  He smiled at his team.  "Did you and Ray get along?"

"Yup and he wanted to meet her when she comes out in July."

"Ooh, can I help?" Speed asked with a smile.

"Ladies first," Calleigh said sweetly.

Xander gave them a wary look. "She's not that bad."

"We found her online.  I want to help," Speed promised, patting him on the back.   "You can do *so* much better."

"But it's nice when we're in the closets."

"You can do *so* much better," Calleigh assured him.

"What did you guys see?"

"Willow uploaded some files she took," Eric said with a grin.  "Sent H all the links.  Then she sent them to Frank Tripp."

"Have I met him?"

"Big, bald, Texan," Speed told him.

"Oh, him.  Yeah, I saw him when I was lurking before I came to see if Horatio wanted to go to dinner.  By the way, the creepy guy who was watching me earlier after I dropped Ray off?"

"Is probably thinking you're trying to hit on him," Speed said, then he ate a bite.

"I'll talk with Rick," Horatio promised.  "Eat, Xander."  Xander ate, smiling at them.  "Yes, they all saw Cordy.  Including the time you took both of us out to lunch."  Xander gave him a horrified look, dropping his fork.  "Which is why Calleigh and Speed want to meet her."  Xander whimpered, shaking his head.  "Maybe she'll be better when she comes down," he said calmly.

"No," he said, shaking his head.  "Uh-uh.  Not Queen C."  He held his head.  "I have a migraine."

"You don't," Eric said patiently.  "I thought you were kidding, Xander.  Damn."  Xander looked at him.  "What were the others like?"

"Man eating, Xander eating, Faith."


"I'll tell you somewhere private later," he promised, looking at his plate.

"Could be worse," Calleigh offered.  "We kept it away from Alexx."

"Thank you," he said, leaning across Speed to give her a hug.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome.  Now, eat.  You're a growing boy."  He sat back and dug in again.  "So, any sports?"

"I swam for a bit to see who was turning the swim team into slimy things."

Eric looked at him.  "They did what?"

"Another thing I'll tell you later in private."

"Uh-huh."  He looked at Horatio.  "Your couch?"

"Later, Eric.  Eat for now," he said patiently.  "Who else saw?"

"Us and Frank," Speed admitted.  "He called us."

"That was nice of him," Calleigh said happily.  "Thankfully we kept it away from others."  Xander gave her a look.  "We just want to make sure she's the proper girlfriend for you, Xander."

"You don't even know me."

"We will by then.  Remember, it's our job to figure out people within minutes of meeting them."  He raised an eyebrow.  "Besides, over the summer we'll learn to love you like we do Ray."  He nodded, eating again, not giving her the skeptical look.  "What are you thinking about for a future job?  Going into the department?" she teased.

"I like weapons but I like hands-on stuff instead," Xander said.  "Horatio suggested vo- tech.  I'm not a lecture sort."

"A lot of forensics is hands-on," Speed offered.

"Yeah but the stuff to get there sucks ass," Xander told him.

"Language," Eric said.

"Sorry.  It does."

"We'll figure it out with you," Calleigh assured him.  "There's lots of stuff you can do if you like weapons.  Including the military."

"I doubt they'd accept me," Xander pointed out.  "Not with my history?" he said at her look.

"That might be," she admitted.  "I don't know.  Let me do some thinking, Xander."  He nodded.  "There's always pawn shops, gun repair."

"I do a lot of sword and crossbow repair."

"Metal smithing," she said.  "It can be both and all that, plus horseshoes and things."  He smiled at that.  "I don't know how you'd get to do that."

"We can find one and ask if he likes that idea," Horatio assured them.  He smiled at Xander.  "Finish dinner.  We'll go back to my place so you can assure Eric that Cordelia's one of your most normal girlfriends to date."

"Faith wasn't exactly a girlfriend."

"Sounds like someone hit a club," Eric teased.

"No, she yanked me into her room, stripped me, had me, then kicked me out," he said bluntly.

Speed frowned.  "Um, charges filed?"  Xander looked confused.  "Was it consensual?"

"Kinda.  I'm sixteen!" he complained.  "And yes, I heard I could've said no but it was over too fast.  Plus she was kinda leaning on my upper chest so I couldn't breathe really well.  Not like the guys out there would've believed me.  They would've laughed."

"We won't if you need to talk," Calleigh reminded him.

He shrugged.  "It was a pitiful first time.  I'm sure it'll be better next time.  I hope.  Or I'll switch to guys."

"Dating Cordy is a sign that thinking that way might be a good idea," Speed told him.  He patted him on the back.  "It'll be okay.  We can help you with that too."

Xander looked at him.  "You like guys?"

"I'm more a personality sort.  I have dated a guy."

"Was it good?"

"Very," he said with a small grin.  "We'll talk somewhere not in public."

Xander nodded and finished his dinner.  He looked at Eric.  "You gonna finish that?"

Eric looked at him.  "I used to do the same thing."  He handed the kid his roll and finished his dinner before he got asked again.


Horatio walked into his office the next morning and found someone pacing.  "He thought you were watching him."

"Who is that kid?  He took Ray Junior out of school.  He had a note he told Ray was from you."

"I did suggest they meet."  He closed the door, looking at him.  "If I tell you, you can't tell Yelina yet.  We're working on that."  Rick glared at him.  "Ray got a girl in trouble when he was sixteen," he said quietly. "I just found out."  Rick sat down hard, mouth open, staring at him.  Horatio nodded.  "His parents just died due to arson.  They found out because of that and wrote me.  His friends did it for him."  Rick swallowed, closing his mouth finally.  "He's not sure he wants to stay in Miami, but I do know that Ray has always wanted to be a brother.  I thought it would be a good first move if he met Ray.  Ray can explain his mother to him.  He can also give Xander some family history to make him more comfortable."

"Where is he now?"

"He refused to stay with me.  He's in a small motel in the seedier part of town.   We had dinner with him last night."  He moved closer.  "He said he would meet with her when he was ready.  We all know she'll throw a very outrageous fit."

"Ray told her he was a new friend you had introduced him to."

"Basically.  They're both too old to be more than that, Rick."  He turned on his computer and pulled up an email, letting him see the lunch out.  "This is Xander and his present girlfriend Cordelia.  I also thought that Xander might be a positive influence on Ray.  He could use a positive role model who understands the urges he's feeling to fit in.  Plus Xander can get used to normal people again.  His parents were very heavy alcoholics. They were on a check for it," he said at the look in his direction.

"That is one bitch," he said dryly.  "Let them meet first.  Then tell her that Xander is her stepson.  It'll make her feel sorry for the boy."  He looked at him.  "You're watching over him?"  Horatio nodded.  "He's a good boy?"

"Yes, and he's been vital in his town's defense over the last few years."  He got another odd look.  He pulled up a statistics site he had used to look up the town.  "That's where he's from," he said, highlighting that line.  Rick looked then shuddered.  "He's been helping bring that down.  Again, he's a good boy and getting used to normal people and things."

"I won't tell Yelina but you need to tell him to be more subtle.  She's already snooping around.  She asked me what I knew about him.  I couldn't track him back to his hotel.  He gave me the slip last night."

"I will.  That's not a bad idea about letting her meet Cordy first though."  Rick walked off holding his head.  He canceled the replay and sat down to do some real work, including reading Willow's new email.  It gave him everything he needed to know.  It seemed that his brother's death was a coverup.  He leaned back, considering things.  He paged Yelina, bringing her to his office, smiling and sharing a tin of cookies.  "Thank you.  You'll want to sit."  He got up and let her have his chair while he nibbled a cookie.  "You thought something was odd."

She frowned, reading the email.  Then she stared at him.  "Who found this?"

"I can't give you the source yet, Yelina."  She paged down and looked at him again.  "It'll come out later this summer.  I'm still doing some research and they're hackers," he said quietly.  She slumped, staring at him.  "They were searching something else for me," he told her.

"Searching one Caine they found another?"

He nodded.  "Basically."  He ate another bite of cookie.  "I have no idea where he is yet.  Neither does she.  We're still looking."

She nodded.  "Thank you for telling me."  She stood up and he gave her a hug.  "I'll be fine."

"This is going to be a summer for shocks, Yelina.  We'll handle it as a family."  She nodded.  "We'll deal and keep going as a family."  She smiled weakly and let him go, heading back to her desk.  He ate another cookie and went back to the email.  He knew just the federal agent he wanted to chew a new one.  He even brought him over to meet with Xander, watching how he handled it.  After a few passes around the agent, Xander started to ask susceptibly nice questions.  The agent relaxed until Xander asked one with a nice, gentle, feral smirk.  Then he went pale and shaky.  Fortunately Horatio stepped in to ask some more questions while they had an opening.  Though at the end he did hand the agent back his wallet.  Xander shrugged it off as 'instinct turned habit thanks to Giles'.  Horatio shook his head, taking him for lunch then back to the lab to let him help him search for more information.


Ray Junior tapped on his uncle's office door in late June.  "We were supposed to meet for a game of hoops?" he said dryly, leaning on the door.

"Xander's girlfriend came down earlier than expected.  She woke him up this morning.  He called me on the way to the airport.  I left you a message on your phone."

"I'm out of minutes.  That explains that."  He came in.  "So I know the nosy asshole saw him."

"I told him so he'd leave you two alone," he said, looking at him.  "He did suggest that she meet Cordelia first."

Ray paused then shuddered and walked off shuddering.  He ran into Frank.  "Cordelia's down."  He figured he knew.  He and his uncle were tight.

"Why?" he asked, looking a bit sick.

"Early.  She'll be coming here."

"Oh, God, let me take something for my ulcer now."   He went to do that.

Horatio called Xander.  "Bring her in so we can meet her, nephew," he said quietly.  "Thank you."  He hung up and took his own antacid.


Cordelia looked up at the lab.  "Why are we here?"

"My uncle wanted to figure out where we wanted dinner."

"Oh.  I guess that's okay.  I mean, a bit suity and all but not as mean as Willow thought."

"She hacked their system, Cordy. Of course he's mean about it."  He walked her inside, smiling at the receptionist.  "Horatio said we were to stop by to talk about dinner."

"I need your names please?"

"Cordelia Chase and Xander Harris."  She signed them in and called Horatio, who apparently agreed since she gave them visitor's passes and pointed at a spot for them to wait.

Speed came out, smiling.  "Hi, guys.  Horatio's in his office on the phone.  C'mon."  He looked at Cordelia. "I'm Tim Speedle.  I'm Horatio's favorite trace expert and all around lab smartass."  He grinned sweetly.  "You could take lessons from me.  So let's go talk."  Xander moaned and leaned against the wall, shaking his head.  "Willow sent us film," he said at her open-mouthed look.  "Xander didn't know."  He led her off.  "C'mon, Xander."

"I feel like I'm going to my execution," he muttered, following along.  "Speed, be nice," he complained.  He saw Ray and waved, then pointed and shook his head.  He caught up, giving Calleigh a pitiful look.

Cordelia walked into the office and Horatio hung up the phone.  "You have a lot of glass."

"Yes we do.  They didn't listen to us."

Yelina and Ray walked in.  "Horatio, a team dinner?"

"Of course. You're family."  He smiled at Cordelia.  "This is Yelina Salas.  She's one of our detectives and that's my nephew Ray."  Cordelia looked stunned and he smiled.  "You've met Speed and this is Calleigh, she's our ballistics expert and one of my field CSIs."  He stood up.  "Let's go to lunch, family."  He smiled at the two boys.  "I'm sure you two drove so Ray, you can ride with Xander this time?"  Yelina looked stunned and looked at the boy, who smiled and wiggled his fingers.  She did a double take, watching them walk out.  He looked at her.  "Later."

"Now," she growled.


"Right now."  She slammed the door.  "He's not yours?"  Horatio shook his head.  "He's how old?"

"Sixteen.  The same age Ray was when he was conceived.  His girlfriend left."

"The one who died?"

"His very alcoholic mother," he agreed quietly.  She sat down and he helped to make sure she made it into the chair.  "He is not sure he wants to stay.  Cordelia is his girlfriend.  I thought meeting Ray first would be a better idea.  They do have a lot in common and he could tell your stepson what you're like.  Now, we're going to have lunch, where you'll help me keep Speed and Calleigh from ripping Miss Chase a new one.  He's still very wary of you, Yelina."  She gave him a hurt look.  "None of us were sure how you'd react."

"He was from before we married.  I can't blame the boy for my former husband being a bastard."

Xander leaned in.  "She left him, went to Detroit, and married her second cousin.  Guess I know why I'm an only child, huh?"  He grinned.  "We're heading.  If you want *any* say in what we're eating, and therefore what she'll complain about, let's go."  He disappeared again.

"There are other things you should know about him," he admitted.  "Including that he's been fighting in a very harsh town since last year."  He helped her up.  "We'll talk in the hummer."  He walked her out to the hummer, telling her what he had found out on the way.  By the time they got there, Yelina was calm and back in control of her emotions.  She even gave Xander a hug.  Horatio smiled.  "I knew you'd take it better than he thought."

Yelina snorted.  "You've been hiding my stepson from me, Horatio."

"Whoa," Xander said, stepping back.  "He did it because I said so.  I wasn't sure how you were going to react or if I'm staying."

She gave him a look. "You're staying."  She smiled sweetly.  "Or else I'll go out there and kick your ass before I drag you back," she said patiently.  She led him to the table. "Sorry, had to talk to my stepson."

Ray Junior looked at Xander.  "We've got a spare room."

"I've got Showtime porn at the motel," he countered with a grin.  "It's better for me."

Cordelia gave him an evil look.  "You know, I can call on something."

"It means I'm not cheating on you," he said sweetly, smiling at her.  It was a clear 'embarrass me in front my family, bitch, and I'll kill you' smile.  He even blinked his eyes.  She wilted.  "Now, let's have a nice, normal lunch.  Willow sent a lot of photos of you in case I wasn't around when you came down, Cordy."

"So you told me.  You guys do *what*?" she asked, looking confused.

"They're the crime lab.  They find out who committed what crime."

"More specifically who committed what felony, like homicide," Speed told her.

"Uh-huh.  And you want *Xander* around?"

"He is my nephew," Horatio reminded her.

"You were where when his parents were being dirtbags?"

"None of us knew," Yelina said, glancing at Horatio.  "Unless you did?"

"Nope.  Willow found him after my parents died in the house fire," he told her.  "She wrote him before I told her not to."  He looked at Cordy. "Is Faith still around?"

"Somewhere."  She shrugged.  "Not like we hang."  She smiled at Ray Junior.  "You must be the smarter brother."

"Maybe but he's definitely cooler than I am."  She snorted.  "He is.  He can surf."  She rolled her eyes.  That sealed her fate with Yelina.



Xander looked at Ray, who shrugged.  They had talked earlier about the other subject they were both concerned about.  He looked at Yelina.  "You know my friend Willow hacks, right?"  She nodded.  "Well, she hacked our father's case notes and stuff.  Whatever.  Not real sure on what."   Yelina frowned.  "There was a note saying that he had to use someone to help his cover.  Someone who was seen as a pretend girlfriend."

Yelina sat up suddenly.  "That girl!  Horatio!" she yelled.  He came out of the kitchen.  "That little girl!  The one you said was yours."

"I wish you had let me handle that, boys."  He looked at her and nodded.  "Is Ray's," he said quietly.

"She's a sweet little girl, mom," Ray told her.  "She's very sweet.  Her mom is working so hard to stay clean for her.  I'm wondering why she's in the hospital.  Uncle H?"

Horatio looked at him.  "She is?"  Xander nodded.  "You went to see her?"

"Yeah, Ray took me a few days ago.  She's on an oncology ward at Children's.  She wouldn't tell Ray why, just let us introduce me and let us read to her."

"I'm calling her tomorrow then," Horatio decided, looking at Yelina.  "It was easier to let you think she was mine.  You threw a fit," he said quietly.

"Be real.  She gave you these condescending looks," Xander said, staring Yelina down.  "I've seen plenty of them from Buffy and Willow to know before you say a word.  I'm not that much a part of this family for that."  He looked at Ray.  "You looked really good on the soccer field today."

"Thanks. We've got a good team this year.  Come watch movies in my room?"

"Sure."  He fled with Ray.

Yelina glared at their backs then at Horatio.  "You knew how long?"

"Since the first moment I saw her.  She looks exactly like Ray as a child, but she has the other half of the family's hair."

"I was only looking at her hair," she sighed, looking depressed.  "We need to talk to her."

"You cannot be judgmental, Yelina.  Suzy is trying very hard to stay clean.  She's got very low self esteem.  Ray took advantage of her while they were both high.  I made her let me help her.  Am I clear?"

"Crystal.  Why didn't she want me to know?"

"If you were her would you?  She started out scared that would you would try to take Madison from her.  She is still very young and Madison is her whole existence and reason for getting clean."

"I won't take the baby from her.  I would not unless she is going back to drugs."

"Thank you."  He went to Ray's room.  "Ray, do you know her room number?"  Xander handed it over.  "Thank you, nephew."

"Welcome, Horatio."

He looked at him.  "Try the word uncle?"

"Fine, Uncle Horatio," he said with a smirk.  "Think Cordelia feels like she got a chunk taken out of her butt?"

"Hopefully.  Speed was nearly vicious.  Calleigh was worse and then somehow Alexx knew to show up.  We had been keeping it from her."  Ray shuddered and curled up behind Xander.  "It's all right, Ray.  I'm sure she learned her lesson when she tried to keep up with them."  He walked out, going to call the hospital.  "This is Horatio Caine, is Suzy there?  Madison's mother.  Yes, her.  Please."  The nurse asked her and he heard her practically snatch the phone.  "Suzy, what happened?"  He listened and groaned.  "All right.  What does she need?"  He nodded.  "I'll have myself tested tomorrow."

"Us," Ray called.  "We had ours tested today."

"The boys said they were tested?" he prompted.  He smiled.  "Yes, Ray said so.  He told us tonight."  He glanced at Yelina.  "She does know and she's not mad, Suzy.  Slowly," he agreed.

Yelina snatched the phone.  "Suzy, that girl is my stepdaughter, she will stay my stepdaughter.  Am I clear?"  She smirked.  "Exactly.  Now, what can we do to help my stepdaughter?  No, not unless you go back to drugs, Suzy.  If you should, she'll be my daughter.  Am I clear?"  She smiled.  "Exactly.  Now, how can we help?"  She nodded.  "Depending on which boy matches I have no problem with Ray Junior doing that.  Horatio will be tested tomorrow I'm sure.  We'll talk tomorrow.  There is no reason to be anxious.  As long as you're a good mother, you have nothing to fear from me.  My husband was an asshole.  He was no saint.  I found out even more about how bad he was today."  She laughed.  "Then we don't have a problem. That is in the past.  The same as how Xander came to be is in the past.  We'll talk tomorrow."  She hung up.  "You're getting tested?"

"I'm going first thing tomorrow to let the nurses do what they need."

She smiled.  "Good.  Reassure her.  She sounds very young."

"It had to be something bad to send her out of her house and onto the streets," Xander said from the hallway, coming out.  "Probably about the same sort of horrible that sent me to my own apartment at sixteen, Yelina.  The fact she got hooked on drugs is almost typical according to the news.  That's the same sort of self-defeated attitude that you see a lot at work on the wrong side of the table."  She tipped her head at that.  "The same as if you upset her that much with this sort of stress on her I will kick your ass.  Yes, I can do that."  He stared her down.  "Adopt them both.  Suzy could use a decent mom.  She's already got a decent big brother in Uncle Horatio."  He went into the kitchen then came back out.  "I should probably head back to the motel."

Horatio looked at him.  "Wanting to get jumped by your girlfriend?"

"Now or in August, does it make a difference?"  He noticed the faces falling.  "On the way in she told me what the big bad is going to be this year.  They'll definitely need me.  Major demonage."  He saw the stubborn looks.  "If we don't stop it then we're in deep crap and the world could end, Horatio.  Do you want that?"

"No, but I'd rather have you safe and let others fight."

"What others?"

"Point," he sighed.  "Not a good one though."  He stared at him.  "We'll talk about this when they know more."

"If we go by the usual timetable, that'll be Christmas."

"Which you will be here for," Yelina assured him.

"Sure.  I can travel back."  He nodded, grinning at her.  "I'm still going to be needed, even if they don't think so.  Hell, Buffy's still being a flake."  He went back to Ray's room.  "I should head."

"Going to have sex?"

"I'm going to put on a whole different sort of protection.  She uses her nails and her knees, plus her tongue.  I'll be bruised from the yelling."  He shrugged.  "See you tomorrow after practice?"  He nodded.  "Cool."  He winked. "Behave.  Hide."  He headed out, going back to his motel room.  He found Cordelia waiting on him.  "I did not know.  We were keeping that video from Alexx.  She's basically adopted the whole lab."

She looked at him.  "It was still mean."

"Sorry."  He sat down next to her on the bed.  "Speed suggested I try men."

She hit him on the side.  "Asshole."  She stood up.  "I don't like that you ambushed me, Xander."

"I did not.  I did not know that they were going to be that mean.  I thought they were going to warn you off being mean to me.  Not be mean to you."

She snorted, crossing her arms.  "I doubt that."  She stared at him.  "How dare they be that mean to me!  I'm the only one allowed to be mean!"

"Um, Cordy, I think they're allowed.  Everyone told me Speed was like a male you."

"Please!  I have much more fashion sense than that *grunge* thing.  How can you compare us?"

"Similar attitudes?" he offered.  She hit him again, making him wince.  "Do you mind?   I had to give a lot of blood to test against my half-sister."


"She's got cancer."

She snorted.  "That's just like you, jumping in."  She hit him again.  "Why even bother thinking about coming back?  They won't want you there.  They won't need you when it's done with."

"Uh-huh.  And who's going to replace me, Cordy?"

"Any stray mutt we can find," she said meanly.

"Really?  I'm sure that'll go over well.  Especially since you can't fight.  You might get messy."  She shrieked and hit him again, making him duck and get away from her.


Xander limped into the hospital the next morning, making Suzy gasp in horror.  "My ex," he announced.  "Because I'm going to kill her if I have to see her today."  Horatio looked at him, raising an eyebrow.  "Don't ask.  Just don't.  Please."  He looked at the nurse.  "So, any good matches?"

"You are a match, Mr. Harris," she said, smiling at him.  "You look a bit like an assault victim.  Are you all right?"

"My ex is a bitchy little whore who sleeps with football teams and basketball teams.  She started on me and that little fact came out after she decided I'm useless.  She beat the crap out of me because of that."

"Want some tylenol?  We really shouldn't but I've got some in my purse."  He shook his head.  "Are you sure?"  He nodded.  "Okay.  Ice pack?"

"No, I'm fine.  Thank you anyway."  He smiled at her.  "What about Uncle Iron Underwear here?"  Suzy giggled at that, turning around to lean on Yelina's shoulder.  "He got that look a lot yesterday.  Like the seam was pinching."

"I was trying not to add to Calleigh and Speed's offense against your former girlfriend.  We *are* pressing charges?"


"That wasn't a question, nephew."

"Yes it was.  I heard a question mark.  Your voice went up at the end.  Besides, I've had worse.  Nothing's broken, it's just bruises."  He looked at the nurse.  "Walk me through the procedure so we can do it."  She smiled and paged a doctor, who gave him a horrified look. "Ex-girlfriend.  I'm told I'm a good match for Madison.  What do you need, up to but not including a good portion of my soul?"

"Bone marrow isn't quite that holy."  He walked him off.  "Are you eighteen?"

"Sixteen and I'm told I have emancipation paperwork on the way."

"No you don't," Yelina and Horatio responded.

"But we will sign for the surgery if he wants," Horatio assured the doctor.  "I'm his last living relative of age."

"Then we'll need to talk to you both."  Horatio followed him to an office so they could talk about the procedure.  It was going to be painful but good for her.

Yelina looked at her son when he came out.  "Xander's a bit bruised."

"I saw and hissed.  He said his ex was mean."  He shrugged.  "Am I a match?"

"A slight one but he's better."

"Sure, I can see that.  He's good at many things.  Including dating skanky hos."  He looked at Suzy.  "You two go have lunch.  I'll be here entertaining my little sister, and then I'll take Xander out to do something mean and evil to the world so he gets it out of his system since he wouldn't hit her back."

"Fine," his mother sighed, looking at Suzy.  "There's a good coffee shop and deli up the street?"

"I wouldn't mind that," she said quietly.  Yelina smiled and took her arm, walking her off.
Ray shook his head.  "Just don't ask.  Mom went mushy yesterday when she found out about Xander.  Then she met his ex," he told the curious looking nurse.  He went back to her room to go over her workbooks with her again.


Xander showed up the day after surgery, wincing in pain.  "Lunch?" he asked the receptionist.

"They had a kidnaping and everyone's out on it," she told him.  "No one's even here, Xander."

"Pity.  That's more important."  She looked at him.  "Surgery.  I donated bone marrow yesterday."


"Yeah, but I'm okay.  That's why I'm out of the hospital," he said dryly.  "Has Cordelia or anyone called him?"  She shook her head.  "Another pity.  My ex is a woofing dog."  She laughed at that.  "Alexx yelled at me for swearing again.   Yay me."  He shrugged then winced again.  "Okay, I'm going to head back to the hotel.  Let him know he can call to reschedule it whenever he's got time."  She nodded.  "Thank you.  Have a good day."  He walked off, still holding his shoulder.  "I hate hospitals."  He ran into Yelina.  "I'm fine."

"You shouldn't be out yet."

"I'm a fast healer."  He gave her a look.  "I loathe hospitals like I loathe your boyfriend."  She gave him a look.  "I do."  He walked off, going to his car and driving back to the motel.  He paused when he saw the hummer.  It was Horatio's hummer and there was more than one at the same spot.  He looked.  "Is that Speed or Eric?  Speed's supposed to be on vacation," he muttered.  He heard gunshots and ducked, then got out of the car, heading that way.  He looked.  Horatio had just shot someone.  He pulled his uncle's radio out of the hummer.  "Shots fired at CSI location at the jewelry store.  One CSI down," he reported, then hung it up and walked inside.  "Cuff them.  Then ask me to find you some help.  There are plant demons in the Everglades, Uncle H."  He looked at Speed.  "Damn, man."  He heard a groan from him.  "Okay.  You can heal."  He sat down, looking at it.  Then he gathered himself, ignoring the pain.

He chanted, holding a hand over the wound.  He felt it warm.  He fought against it going into his shoulder.  It went down and Speed gasped, arching up. "Lay still or I'll add a dick onto your shoulder."  He groaned and slumped, shaking his head.  "That's all I can do."  Horatio moved him, looking at the wound.  "Direct pressure."  Horatio put pressure on it, calling for more backup.  Xander looked at the perps, glaring at one.  He spat something and one screamed in pain.  "Where is the child!"  He whimpered and Xander walked over there.  "Where?"  He babbled.  "Where, exactly!"  He babbled something.  "Thank you!  Stay!"  He slumped back against the body behind him.  "Good."  He turned at the storming in of the paramedics.  "He'll survive.  It's not that deep."  They nodded, checking it and loading him so they could take him off.  He gave Horatio a small shove.  "Follow.  I'll be here."

"Officers have to hold it."

"Bullshit.  Go.  Now.  I can hear sirens."  Horatio rushed off.  He looked at them.  "You'd better hope the next CSI through the door likes you."  That one tried to move so he kicked him in the throat.  "Stay down!"  Someone else stomped in.  "Hi, nearly-a-stepfather.  Horatio went with Speed.  He'll live."

"What happened?  You were here?  Riding along?"

"No, I was driving home and heard the shots fired.  I'm the one who called it in."  Rick Stetler gave him an alarmed look.  "I'm good at that."  He shrugged.  "Not a clue otherwise yet."  The proprietor mumbled something.  "Oh, ask the guy in cuffs where the boy is and send someone after him.  He knows and he'll tell you again or I'm going to hurt him some more," he said, glaring at him.  The guy mumbled something.  "Did you get that?  I don't do mumble.  I do teenager and demon.  I was going to offer my help finding one in the Everglades to help them find the boy."

"I heard."  He walked off a few steps.  "Have you seen Speedle's gun?"

Xander looked around and grabbed one of the cleaning cloths off the counter, picking it up.  "This one?"  That got a nod.  He looked at it then he broke it down on the counter.  "Huh.  Not dirty."  Stetler stomped back over.  "See, not dirty.  Really, really shiny inside actually."  He handed it over.  "I'd suggest the slide stuck.  It looks like it's got a problem there," he said, pointing at a spot.  "That could be a manufacturer's defect.  Ask Calleigh.  I know I sent back a nine with one."  He shrugged and put it back together, handing it over properly.  "Yours."  Calleigh stomped in.  "Speed's wound was only a few inches deep.  He wasn't bleeding that badly. The guy in cuffs helped greatly.  He asked me why I thought his gun stuck.  It looks like his slide's got a point where it's rocked out so it won't work right."  He took it back apart to show her. "See, clean."  She stared at him in horror.  "He asked," he said, pointing at Rick.  "I sent back a Colt with that problem."  He put it back together and handed it to her.  "Here you go.  Horatio went with Speed.  We have an address in the Everglades.  I can have something go get the boy if we need me to, and then I'm going to quit sounding like Willow after she's closed the hellmouth."  He sighed and slapped his head.  "Magic bad.  I have to remember it does this to me when I use too much.  Sorry about the babble.  Oh, I kicked him."  He looked at Stetler.  "Let's go.  You heard where the boy is and I didn't."

"Duquesne, call Delko, have him meet us there," he ordered, writing down the address.  "I'm taking idiot boy here with me."

"Sure," she said weakly, waving.  She called Eric's phone.  "Xander was apparently here.  He took apart Speed's gun, he said he wasn't that badly injured and he wants you to meet him and Stetler in the Everglades..."  She read off the address.  "There.  Oh, and he was babbling about magic."

"He healed the one who was shot," the proprietor said, looking at her.  "Saved him.  It was a miracle.  He's got to be holy."

"Huh.  Okay."  She hung up and got to work.  "Let's figure out what happened so Horatio can yell at his nephew."  She got to work, letting the officers take everyone to the station.  They had participated in the shooting of a CSI.  They could go to the chair and she'd find her old pompoms.


Rick Stetler watched as Xander talked to something in the bushes, watching it go into the water and over to the boy.  "Kid, don't be scared.  We're here to save you.  We're police officers.  Let him carry you back to us, okay?"  The boy nodded, grabbing onto the plant demon's neck, letting him carry him back.  Eric pulled up.  "Don't ask me.  I'm keeping him from doing stupid shit."

"Is that a plant demon?" Eric asked.  What else would it be, it was a seven foot walking cattail willow looking plant.

"Yup.  Handy things.  Alligators in the water.  It's already eaten someone."  Xander pointed at the floating clothes.  He took the child with a quiet word of thanks.  "Be safe.  If I can help you, find me."  He walked the boy over, handing him to Eric.  "I believe he was missing?"

"He was."  He led him back to the hummer, watching as Xander wobbled off.  "Stetler, he donated bone marrow yesterday and checked himself out.  Horatio said so.  He said to hold him somewhere he can't get into trouble and wait for him."

"Wonderful."  He watched the boy curl up in the back of his car.  "I'm taking him to Horatio's house, where I'm going to wait on a report."

"It's gonna be a while.  At least until Speed wakes up."

"I can wait.  He might be normal by then."  He stomped off, taking the boy to Horatio's house.  Of course, he didn't have a key and neither did the boy so he let the boy break in and let him in.  He pointed at the couch. "Lay down."  Xander laid down with a sigh of relief.  "I said find the gun, not touch the gun."

"Next time be more specific," he mumbled, falling asleep.

Stetler stared, tapping a foot and pacing until Horatio got home.  "Do you know what he did!"

"Saved Speed's life," he said quietly.  "Whatever magic he did lessened the wound enough that he survived."  Stetler stared.  "What else did he do?"

"You left the scene!"

"Officers were supposed to be there by then," he retorted coldly.  "Paramedics got there before backup?"  Stetler gave him a confused look and he nodded.  "They did."

"I'll check into that.  Since he was there he decided to question your suspect."

"Did you find him?"

"We did.  He had a plant demon walk into the water to get him.  The alligators around him had already eaten someone."

"Then it was probably a good thing.  What else did he do?"

"I asked him to find Speedle's gun.  He found it, handled it with a cleaning cloth, broke it down, and told me what was wrong with it."

Horatio looked at his nephew.  "I'll talk to him about proper evidence handling and how he's not a CSI.  Any idea why he was there?"

"He said he was going home and heard the shots."

"The receptionist said he had been at the station.  That is on his usual route home," he admitted.  "Xander?"  Xander moaned.  "Alexander!"  Xander blinked over at him, hissing as he got up.  "You should still be in the hospital, nephew."

"Eat me."  He stood up and looked at Stetler.  "You too.  Not like I let friends die.  I'm not like that.  I'm sorry if I stepped on toes.  I'm sorry if I pulled shit I shouldn't.  I'm the sort to jump in.  I'm damn glad I was there to save his life, but otherwise, don't care.  Not at the moment.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a nap!"  He headed to the spare bedroom, slamming the door.

"He's an uppity little bastard," Rick complained.

"He just turned seventeen and he was doing field combat, Rick.  He's used to worse."  Rick stared at him.  He nodded.  "The death rate out there is demonic in origin.  He's been helping with that battle now for over a year."  Rick swore.  "Basically.  He's used to field decisions and field medicine.  He made one.  I will be yelling at him myself.  You can yell at him for touching his gun.  It doesn't change the fact that he did save Speed's life, however he did it."

Rick took a deep breath.  "This will never happen again."

"No it won't."

"Good.  We will yell at the boy tomorrow.  Together."  Horatio nodded at that order.  "Thank you."  He stomped off, going to get reports on what had happened from the lab and others.

Calleigh saw him coming because what he needed was in her hand.  "He was right.  The slide was stuck on that little piece of bent metal.  I couldn't find a tool mark or anything else to account for it."  He growled.  "Sorry.  It was clean.  It was working otherwise.  I don't know if it got banged when he was cleaning it or what.  All I know is that's what caused the misfire this time."

"Fine.  Are his prints on the gun?"

"Xander's?"  He nodded.  "No.  There was a partial smudge.  I looked so I could yell at him myself."  He grunted and walked off.  "How's the boy?"

"Fine the last time I knew.  Ask Delko."

"Sure."  She frowned and called Eric.  "How's the boy?  Slide jammed.  No, totally clean."  She smiled.  "Tell him I'll be over to fuss in a little while.  I don't know where the smartass is.  Stetler's growling about him.  No, Rick told him to find Speed's gun and the boy did, then he broke it down in front of him to see what was wrong with it.  He was right too.  He's still growling.  Looking ready to swear.  Sure, see you soon."  She hung up and hung up her jacket, sneaking out.  Her shift was done, she was clear.  She wanted to see her friend.


Horatio shoved Xander into Speed's room.  He looked at him.  "Are you going to chew me a new one too?  I've already gotten it because I was on a magic high and did stupid shit."

"No."  Speed raised his good arm.  "Want a hug?"  Xander looked confused.  "You saved my life, Xander.  That deserves a hug."

"You get rewarded for that?"

"Only by normal people.  Now get over here and hug me, asshole."  Xander came over to give him a careful hug.  "Thank you."  He kissed him on the head.  "Even though you fucked up royally, you did good," he whispered.  "I'm proud and thank you for saving me."

"Who else would point out good women?" he teased lightly, hoping he got it right by the expression on his face.  Speed grinned back so he relaxed.  Speed also patted him on the back, making him wince.  "Ow."

"Shouldn't you be in a bed too?"

"Yay.  I hate hospitals."

"Tough.  C'mon.  You can crawl in with me for a few."  Xander wiggled onto the bed, curling up on his good side.  "Hey, H, when can I get out?"

"Unlike my nephew, you can't sign yourself out.  They didn't want to let him."  Xander shrugged then winced.  "I should yell more about that."   Speed tossed over some hard candy, making him smile. "My throat's not sore yet, Speed, but thank you."

"It'll amuse me."  He looked at him.  "What do we not do?"

"He told me to find your gun."

"You shouldn't have even been there.  Why did you stop?"

"I head it was a kidnaping.  One of the officers on the way out thought she might be in the Everglades.  There's demons in there so I thought I'd offer to see if you guys needed help finding him."

"Not a horrible reason," Speed decided.  "You called it in?"  Xander nodded.  "So you were waiting for us to come out so you could offer and get yelled at for being out of the hospital?"  Xander sighed and nodded.  "I didn't know you were a masochist."

"I'm not usually.  Must've been where Cordy kicked my butt and told me I was worthless."

"Hmm."  Speed gave him a cuddle.  "I'm definitely going to have to start pointing out better women for you."  He looked at Horatio.  "Is he in official trouble?"

"Not for saving your life.  Rick won't press charges as long as nothing like this ever happens again.  Too much good to outweigh the bad parts of him jumping into a scene, touching evidence, and questioning a suspect."

"Do I have to move to get away from this coming back at me?" Xander asked.

"If you move I'll have you kidnaped, Xander," he assured him.

"I should still go back."

Horatio looked at him and shook his head.  "No.  If they need you, you can go back to fight in whatever battle there is. You may not go back otherwise.  I won't sign the paperwork to emancipate you if you do.  If you say in Miami I will."  Xander moaned.  "I can call Willow or Mr. Giles to send your remaining things out if you want."  Xander nodded weakly.  "Good.  Now, are you going to move in with Yelina or me?"



He frowned. "No.  I'm not.  Having a family is nice but I'm not used to it and I keep speaking my mind, which gets me evil looks from Yelina."

He put his hands on his hips.  "You can't afford that motel room forever, Xander.  There's no demons down here to frisk."

"I know."

"So, you'll do what?"

"Take my GED and go to Vo-Tech?" he suggested.  "They said you can get financial aid.  Ray thought it would cover a living allowance if I did that."

"You and Ray have been plotting?" Horatio asked.  Maybe Xander wasn't the steadying influence on Ray he had hoped, he seemed to be turning him a bit more evil.

"More him than me.  He gave me suggestions."

Horatio stared at him.  "That's not a horrible idea.  I'd rather have you try to finish high school the normal way."

"He emailed Willow on me for my transcripts.  The local school won't allow me in."

"Too may times cutting school?" Speed asked.  Xander nodded.  "Why did we cut school?"

"No working alarm clock in the house, alcoholics don't often get up on time, and gee, fighting all night?  I ended up sleeping through some classes too."  He looked at him.  "It happens."

"I guess it does.  A GED isn't a horrible thing.  If you wanted to start at a community college later on you could do that."

"Eww.  I hate school."

"Vo-Tech is still school."

"Yes, but it's hands-on school, not sit in a boring class listening to someone pontificate school.  I can even do computer stuff if I'm not too stupid."  Speed pinched him.  "Ow.  Meany."

"Shut up, Xander.  When are you taking your GED?"

"Um, last month?" he said hesitantly.  "Ray checked before school let out.  He got out later than I did."

Horatio stared at him.  "Results?"


"Then we'll see," Horatio agreed. "If not, there's a few decent alternative schools and the Vo-Tech does have a GED program as part of it.  Until then I do want you to move in, Xander."


"Xander."  Xander sighed and shook his head.  "It won't be that bad.  Especially with as many hours as I work.   You can even pay me a minimal rent if it makes you feel better," he said, realizing what some of the problem was.  "There would be some house rules.  You pick up your own messes, do your own laundry, and I get to meet all girlfriends long before the sexual stage.  No sex in the house.  No drinking but I don't think you'll have a problem with that."  Xander shook his head quickly.  "No drugs.  I get to inspect all weapons that you bring into the house.  I'll even help you school shop."

"I have clothes."

"Xander, you dress worse than me," Speed told him, giving him a squeeze.  A nurse came in and gave him an evil look.  "He saved me."

"Wonderful.  He still shouldn't be on your bed."

"But he's my pookie.  We go for long, midnight rides on the beach on his motorcycle.  We sit and watch the waves.  We even tried making love on a beach once but sand in the lube, not comfy."  She went pink and walked out.  He grinned at Speed.  "Better?"

"The other one won't hit on me anymore," he said, smirking just a bit.  "Thanks, dear."

"Welcome, pookie."  He snuggled in again. "You watch Judge Judy?"

"Nothing else on."

"That's one of the reasons why I left the hospital."

Speed looked at him.  "Dumbass."

"Thanks.  Heard that plenty."

"You're my special dumbass," Speed decided.  The nurse came back with another one.  "What?  You wanted to watch us make out?"  He kissed Xander and the younger nurse sighed, smiling at him.  "Anything else?  Gonna be in too much pain for anything but him riding me soon."  The senior nurse blushed again and the younger drug her out.  "Hmm.  Cinnamon rolls?  Did you bring me one?"

"I left the bag in the car," Xander said, grinning at him.  "I'll go get it."  He got free and went to get him his treat.

"If you do start having those rides I will expect to hear about them beforehand, Speed.  He is still my nephew."  Speed grinned at him.  "Besides, I'd almost rather he calmed down Eric."

"Are you getting a temp tech?"

"No, you're getting an assistant and trainee."

"Oooh, new rookies to haze," he said happily.

Horatio looked at him.  "Be nice.  We have him without you for four to six months.  Eric can haze him instead."  He smiled when Xander came back in with the bag, handing it over, icing clearly around his mouth and fingers.  "Finished yours?"  Xander nodded, licking his fingers.

"You don't know what germs you touched."

Xander looked at him.  "With some of the stuff I've seen before?  I'm not worried about a cold virus."  He finished cleaning off his fingers then licked his lips.  "Better."  He snuggled in again, helping him peel the paper off the roll's icing.  Speed dug in, a happy boy with a massive sweet tooth.  He was even happy enough to let Xander have the paper.


Horatio watched as the new lab intern, a Ryan Wolfe, met his nephew for the first time.  They were similar in age, nearly.  Closer than most of the rest of the lab anyway.  They had similar geek tendencies too.  They had babbled Star Trek at each other earlier.  Now, his nephew was asking him to go out with him to the clubs.  His very underage nephew.  He mentally groaned but realized that Xander was no more underage mentally than he himself was.   He only hoped someone had some sense.  Because it definitely wasn't his nephew.  Somehow, he knew that his other nephew was involved in this.  The boys had become partners in driving Yelina to drink, and him to cry some nights.  Ray no longer hung out with the thugs.  He didn't have to, Xander was working on his self-defense and sword skills.  Probably other skills too knowing Xander.

Though he did watch out for Ray, reminding him repeatedly that his girlfriend was a ho and he was going to start dating a Cordelia of his own soon.  That thought the second time had ended their relationship, which had made Yelina drink for other reasons.  Then again, Xander had introduced the two so his bad girl radar was working just perfectly.  Horatio walked down there, seeing how happy his nephew was to be interrogating Ryan for some strange reason.  He wasn't sure he wanted to know at the moment.  He might get scared that Ryan was going to join Ray and Xander's little party of world domination.  "Boys," he greeted.

"Speed sent me with orders to tell him if he touched anything in his lab before he got here today he was going to beat the crap out of him," Xander said.

"I didn't know Speed was cleared to come in today."

"I think he was going to try to scare Ryan into wetting himself."

"How do you know that?"

"He said so."  He beamed.  "I'm going to pick him up in about an hour."  He checked his watch.  "Half an hour.  Then I'm going to go home, check the mail, and then come pick him up to take him home."  He grinned at Horatio. "Okay?"

"If that's what he wants."

"He said no party."  He looked around. "Eric, Speed said you can't have a party when he comes in for a few hours to scare the new guy."  He heard the cackle and beamed.  "There, my mischief for the day has been done.  I'm a happy Xander again."  He nearly skipped off humming.

"That's one odd young man," Ryan said, shaking his head but smiling.

"He's my nephew," Horatio sighed, shaking his head and not smiling.  "Now and then I wonder what genes got warped to create my brother's sons."  He walked off, going to share that news with Calleigh as well.  Just in case she had been in the firing pen and hadn't heard.  "Xander's picking up Speed."

"Does that mean they're dating?" she asked, looking confused.  "Because they'd be cute but Speed would never put up with the bouncy Xander you see when he's had chocolate."

Horatio shuddered and moaned at that mental image.  "Please don't say things like that."  He walked off, going to find something for his headache before his head exploded from that mental image.


Horatio watched Xander later that night.  He was staring mindlessly at the tv, but something in his body posture said he was thinking.  "Problems?"

"No scores yet," he complained.

Horatio stroked over his nephew's hair.  "They'll be in this week, Xander."

"It's Wednesday."

"I checked, they got mailed yesterday.  They'll be in tomorrow."  Xander looked up at him.  "I did."  He smiled.  "They wouldn't give me your score."  He patted him again.  "Why else are you brooding?"

"I don't brood, that's an Angel thing.  I'm not an angsty vampire who wants to sleep with Buffy and has a soul stickiness problem that means he loses it now and then when he gets laid."

"Okay, so you're not brooding.  What are you thinking about?"  He sat next to him and the boy curled against his side.  "What's wrong?" he asked more gently.

"I saw the sperm donor today," he said quietly.  "He was watching Ray."

Horatio took a deep breath.  "Good to know.  How did he look?"  Xander looked up at him. "Strung out?"  Xander shook his head.  "Well at least that's something."

"If he's here...."

"He's probably still in danger."

"Which will put Ray in danger."

"Yes, but we can stop that for them."  Xander nodded, relaxing fully.  He even yawned.  "Dinner's in the oven."

"If I nap, wake me up."

"I can do that."  He smiled, watching him drift closer to sleep.  "So, what do you and Ryan have planned?"

"A night out."

"As in...a date?"

Xander looked up at him.  "I don't know."  He went back to watching tv, letting himself be cuddled for now.  "That's what I was trying to figure out."

"We'll figure it out together, Xander."  He nodded, relaxing again. He smiled when he heard the snore, just holding him for now.  The quiet times made up for the stresses of worrying.  Especially if it was a date.


Xander hung up with Horatio, looking at the warehouse.  "I'm not happy."  He tapped his fingers a few times but he heard screaming.  He heard his little brother screaming.  He got out and checked his trunk.  Horatio hadn't said anything when all his weapons had stayed in the car, just given him a long look over the edge of his sunglasses.  It had fixed the demand that Horatio see and approve of all the weapons Xander had in his room.  Xander found what he wanted and pulled on his bulletproof vest as well.  He didn't have the Suit of Immortality that his uncle wore.  He was still damagable by bullet wound.  That would get him yelled at by Yelina and Alexx - something he tried very hard to avoid.  He snuck up to the warehouse's open point of entry, glancing inside.  He saw three guys.  He saw a car.  He saw another guy near him.  He put the pistol back and pulled something else out of his pocket, snapping it.  The guard heard and came to check on the noise, getting the full fumes in the face once he was outside.  Xander left him there with it on his chest.  He'd stay knocked out for at least an hour.

He snuck inside, carefully keeping to the shadows, letting his mind go back to that comfortable spot where he hunted and fought.  This wasn't much different.  His little brother was tied to a chair blindfolded.  He pulled his crossbow and fired at one of them, hitting him in the stomach.  His screaming brought the others to him and let Xander move more openly under the noise he was making.  He was in a better position now.  He put the crossbow back and pulled his gun, getting them in the thigh, and one guy in the hand when he tried to pull his gun.  Then he shot out the tires on the car.  "Assholes."  He walked out, glaring at them.  "Ray's mine.  Any other questions before we go LA style again?"  They gave him horrified looks so he grinned sweetly.  "Yes, I am that bad."  He walked over and got Ray undone.  "Outside, straight outside.  Call Uncle H."  He ran that way and Xander walked out, gun still in his hand.  "Don't come after the Caine boys again.   You won't like it."  He backed out until his back hit sunlight, then turned and jogged to get into the car.  Ray already had the engine started and was in the passenger's seat.  "So," he said dryly.  "How was soccer practice?"  He drove them off calmly.  "Did you call him?"

"Yup."  He looked at him.  "I didn't know you could carry a gun."  He was shaking and he was trying to calm himself down, but it wasn't working very well.

"Yeah, well, lots and lots of stuff about my past combat history you don't know, Ray.  I don't want to dirty anyone else by making them hear about it."  He glanced at him then pulled over.  "Go, get sick while I take these off."  Ray got out, going to get sick in some bushes while Xander wiggled out of his vest.  He was in the open so he took it off before he got out, putting it into the trunk.  He waved when two hummers went past, closing the trunk and going to help his little brother.  He turned when he saw someone sneaking toward his car.  "I'm from near LA.  I will blow your ass up and then fuck the new hole."  The guy turned and ran.  "Thank you.  Doubt you'd want my crystals anyway!"  He went to shut the door and take his keys, then went to help Ray get sick.  "It's all right," he soothed.  "It's scary the first few times you get taken hostage.  This is a normal reaction and it proves you're never going to be me, Ray."  Ray looked at him.  "Really.  That means you can worry less about dating a Cordy or Faith of your own."  Ray laughed, holding his stomach.  He also broke and started to cry.  Xander got him cleaned up and back to the car, holding him for a while.  "Shh, I'm here.  It's all right, Ray.  Let your big brother and uncle handle it."  Ray nodded, getting comfort.  He saw a hummer pull in.  "Hmm, Speed's pissed."

"Tough.  You saved me."

Xander grinned. "It's what brothers do.  Or so they always say on tv."  Ray pinched him, wiping off his cheeks.  He rolled down the window.  "Hi, Speed."

"Xander.  Ray.  What happened?"

"They kidnaped me," Ray said weakly.  "Xander saved me."

"Uh-huh.  No wonder H called me to talk to Xander.  You did what how?"  Xander moaned and got out, going to talk to him without Ray having to hear.  Halfway through Speed smacked the hell out of his arm, Xander giving him a sheepish look but continuing on.  Speed finally called Horatio, who was apparently growling by the look on his face.  Xander decided maybe being out of contact with Ray for a bit would be safer.  He could call it hiding the boy to keep him safe.  He ran off to do that, going to a motel for the night.  They could all track him, he knew that, but that was fine.  It'd give them time to cool down.  He hoped.  He hated getting that disappointed look that Horatio got now and then when his old instincts came back out in a bad way.


Horatio walked into the lab, finding Ryan waiting on him.  "New case?"

"Xander used his debit card to check in here.  It's a double room.  He ordered them pay- per-view porn."  He handed over the address.  "He's probably hiding from that sigh and look you give him whenever he's managed to do something a bit too old himish."  He walked off again.

"Mr. Wolfe."  Ryan turned around and he motioned him closer.  "Are you perhaps... thinking about my older nephew in a non-platonic way?" he asked quietly.  Ryan gaped.  "Not that I don't understand.  You've made him happy so far."  The boy turned pale.  "I'm not sure how he feels about it and he ducked out of our talk when I asked so I'll ask you.  I'm not going to say a thing about the age difference.  I know Xander is not the average seventeen-year-old boy."

"Um...."  He squeaked then cleared his throat.  "I don't know yet."

"That's not what I wanted to hear."

"Xander's still pretty unsure and I'm not sure if he's sure.  Right now, we're clubbing and dancing buddies, Horatio.  I swear, nothing else."

"Hmm."  He stared at him.  "If there is, I will expect your conduct to be exemplary.  I will expect him not to get hurt.  I will expect nothing sexual to happen in the lab.  Am I clear?"  Ryan nodded quickly.  "Good.  Now, if something should happen, I don't want it brought into the lab at all.   It will not affect your performance and it won't affect our working relationship.  Am I clear in that as well?"  He nodded more quickly.  "Good."  He smirked.  "Now, what is Eric growling about?"  Ryan wobbled.  "I see.  Him, you, or Xander?"

"Not a clue," he admitted.  "Eric was growling because of that?  How did he know?"

"Eric and Xander are confidants.  I'm sure he didn't tell him who you were but that he was thinking about it.  Eric is a good investigator and fairly decent in interrogation as well."  He stared him down. "He's not bothered by the nature of the relationship and I'll find out why.   Now, are both my nephews all right?"

"Speed said Ray looked like he had the dry heaves and had been crying."

"Normal after a kidnaping," Horatio agreed.  "Anything else?"

"Yeah, he's very scared he's going to disappoint you, Horatio.  You're the first person who gave him positive attention."  Ryan walked off, going to talk to Eric himself.  "Hey, Delko, can we have a talk?"



Eric put down what he had been looking at, focusing on him.  "Not in the station we can't. You don't want that to get out, Wolfe."

"As far as I knew, it wasn't going to."

"It hasn't from me."  He gave him a look.  "You will be very good to that boy or I'm going to cheer my sisters on and help my mother kick your ass, am I clear?"  Ryan nodded. "Good.  Then no more discussion needed."

Ryan walked in and closed the door.  "You've been staring at me for the last three days.   You've been growling and bitchy to me like you have PMS or you're jealous."  Eric stiffened, glaring at him.  "I need to know that this isn't going to crimp our working relationship and that you're not going to tank whatever we have started."

"I'm not," he said quietly.

Ryan looked at him.  "Are you sure?"  Eric nodded.  "It won't bother you at work, none of that?"

"I'm cool with you dating him."

"Thank you.  He needs a lot of love."

"You two dress nearly as horribly as each other," Speed said as he walked in.  "No, the boy didn't tell me, he was staring.  Some of us are cops as well, Ryan.  But don't worry, as long as you make the kid happy we won't kill you.  Or ship you out to Cordelia."  He looked at Eric.  "Results yet?"  He handed them over.  "The boy used what?" he demanded.

"I'm not sure what's in that snap tube," Eric admitted.  He held up the bag.  "Wolfe, you got a clue?"

He looked.  "He said that was demonic knock out puss with fumes.  I caught him cleaning his pistol and asked about some of the stuff in there."

"That works.  He's still out as far as I know."  Eric held up the other things.  "One handgun and a crossbow bolt."  Speed moaned.  "So, target practice, Wolfe?"

"He's already a very good shot," he said dryly.  "He's had enough practice.  I'm sure he tried to make a cute quip too."

"Yeah, told the guys they'd go LA style if they came after the Caine brothers again," Speed told him.  "Horatio told me."

"Which generation?" Ryan asked him.  Speed stiffened.  "He was babbling and it slipped out," he said quietly.

"Oh, we saw that today," Eric complained.  "He got there late."  Horatio walked in and shut the door.  "Demon goo with fumes according to Ryan, one crossbow bolt, and a single handgun for ballistics matching."

"Interesting.  You saw Ray?"

Eric snorted.  "I looked over to see who was yelling at you this time."

"Xander was thinking out loud and it babbled out," Ryan admitted.

Speed looked at him.  "I saw him following you around," he offered.  "Your brother has lost his sense of subtle."

"Did Xander have enough sense to wear his vest?" Ryan asked.  They all looked at him.  "He has one.  He said it was necessary since he wasn't wearing a bulletproof Suit of Immortality."  Horatio shook his head, sighing a bit.  "You do upset him when you do those things.  He takes me out to wear out the frustration when you do things that could get you killed.  It usually takes about three hours after things like the hostage situation last week."

"I don't need that information," Speed complained.

"We're not there yet," Ryan said, giving him a look.

Eric looked at him.  "He's seventeen.  Why not?"

"I'm his first guy," he said quietly.  "He's still figuring things out.  We go to the clubs a lot.  Plus that comic book convention last weekend."

Horatio smiled.  "He was very excited about getting tickets to that," he admitted.  He patted Ryan on the back.  "They said he had on a vest.  They also growled that they'd be getting him back for it."  Speed snickered.  "There's nothing harmful in town that could eat them."

"Yes there is but he's laying low," Ryan told him.  "He even knows the vampire.  We kinda ran into him out at a club recently.  We left really fast too."

Horatio smiled.  "Good instincts, Mr. Wolfe.  Eric, I've noticed you've been acting a lot like Speed recently.  Do you have a problem with their relationship?"

"No, I don't care if he dates the boy for a while.  As long as he's good to him.  Momma basically adopted him."

"Thank you.  We'll see less growling?"  Eric nodded.  "Good.  Speed?"

"I'm sure they're talking."

"I called, Xander's explaining what they're doing on the porn film to him.  Apparently they got something kinky and gay."  Ryan blushed.  "I don't want to know if you go that way, Mr. Wolfe.  Really."  He walked out, leaving them alone.

"The rest of us are low on gossip if you do."

"No, not my thing," Ryan assured him.  "I don't even play with my cuffs.  Definitely not my thing."  He walked off shaking his head.

"I thought every cop did that at least once," Eric said, frowning at the new guy's back.

Speed closed the door.  "Is the reason you're growling at Wolfe that you want into his really pastel t-shirts and sweater vests?"  Eric gave him a horrified look.  "Oh, crap.  Work it out, Eric.  We don't need that war on shift."

"I'm not going to go near him while he's dating Xander.  I'm not that low."

"Good!  That makes me happy.  What about the rest of it?"

Eric swallowed. "I don't know.  Xander makes him happy.  If they're not doing anything and he comes in with the satisfied smirk on his face, I can't compete with that."  Speed walked closer.  "I can't make him miserable to get him."

"You can't.  H would kill you if you hurt his nephew."  Eric sighed and nodded, finding a stool so he could sit down.  "So what do we do?  Cheesy threesome some night?  Waiting in the wings and continuing to growl?"

"Xander's like my little brother."

"Bull."  He stared him down.  "He's like your sisters' little brother.  You two talk about more than that."

"He confides in me!"

"Yeah, well, you're going to have to either wait or figure out a way to get around this problem, Eric.  You've been more snarly than me the last few days."  He patted him on the shoulder.  "If you need to talk, I'll listen.  Remember that."  He walked out, going to check on Horatio.  He was gone, apparently going to talk to the idiot boys.


Horatio took off his sunglasses when Xander opened the door.  "Which Caine brothers shouldn't they go after?"

"Um, any generation where there's more than one?" he guessed.  Horatio smirked at him.  He let him in.  "I followed.  I called!"

"You did.  You do know what backup is, Xander.  I've taught you that."

"Yeah but he was yelling."

"Point.  Ray, are you all right?"

"Fine, wondering why gay sex looks like more fun than het sex does."  He shrugged.  "My girlfriend doesn't make those noises.  It's mostly 'get off my hair' and 'ow, not so fast'."

"Do we need to have a talk about sexual matters, Ray?" Horatio asked.

Ray gave him a horrified look.  Then he burst out laughing.  "No.  Nonononono!"  He shook his head quickly.  "I talked to Xander.  Thanks anyway, Uncle H.  I doubt you'd be able to figure out my girlfriend."

"She's a nice girl, but all she wants is to lay there and take it.  It's all she thinks a good girl does."

"Then I need to start dating bad girls.  I'm missing out on stuff."

"Doing so means you get one of me in sixteen years," Xander reminded him.

"Does he come with the nifty weapons pack and bad t-shirts too?" Ray quipped.  Horatio smothered his laugh.  "He does!"

"I've seen his trunk.  Apparently not all of it, but I have seen it."  He looked at Xander.  "We will be speaking."

"That's why I'm here."

"We can have this talk here if you want.  I should probably have it with both of you."  He tipped his head to the side and shifted a bit closer.  "Xander, you are not Rambo.  You know this, correct?"

"It's a better middle name than mine."

"Not.  Funny."

Xander sat down, pouting at him.  "They were hurting him.  I wasn't going to wait.  I couldn't let them hurt him more, Uncle Horatio."

"Which is admirable.  Very admirable.  However, certain people saw you and wondered."  Ray looked confused and he sighed.   "We've been hiding something that Xander's friend Willow found out."

"He told me," he said coolly.  "I'm not happy."

"I'm sorry, Ray...."

"Not with you, Uncle H.  With the bastard sperm donor who can't keep it in his pants."  He sat up.  "I'm still fatherless for all I care.  Is he back?"

"He was there," Horatio admitted.  "He saw Xander rescuing you.  He's the one who ranted about the 'not screwing with the Caine brothers' remark."  He gave Xander a look again then a slight smile.  "I didn't tell him who you were.  I know you wanted to hit him first."

"He hurt Ray and Yelina terribly."

"He said he couldn't tell them."

"And what, postcards are so damn hard to find and mail?  It would've been nicer.  Or hey, not coming back!"  He shrugged.  "Would've worked too."

"It would have, but things have already gone past that point."  He looked at the boys.  "Turn the tv off?  I don't need those thoughts."  Xander blushed.  "Nor do you."

Ray giggled and turned off the tv for now.  "You and Ryan do kinky things?"

"I'm not sure I can do anything yet," he said, flopping back, landing on Ray's back.  "I'm so screwed in the head."

"No, it doesn't go there," Ray teased.

Xander pinched him.  "Quit.  Or else I can't talk to you."  He looked at Horatio.   "I don't know yet."

"We'll talk whenever you're ready."  Horatio looked at them. "You two are staying here tonight.  It's safer."  Ray nodded.  "Then we'll have to figure something else out."

"If they go into hiding, I'm not going," Ray said firmly.

"You're not old enough to stay on your own yet," Xander pointed out.  "Whereas I am."  He looked at Horatio.  "I'll take their house and Ray can stay with you?"

"That is one option but it would put him in danger, Xander."

Xander shook his head.  "How many of his enemies are going to know about him?  The ones who came today will be gone.  If you wrap up his undercover case or whatever it'll make him safer and he'll be with you at the house, therefore more protected.  I can easily take care of their house until they come back or Ray's old enough, which by that time I'll expect to be working anyway."  He pulled something out of his pocket and held it up.  "For you.  You were wrong, the scores take forever to get here.  Your owl mail system sucks.  The birds aren't well trained."

Horatio smiled, looking at the scores.  Then he smiled at his nephew.  "Good job," he said gently.

Xander beamed. "Thank you."

"You earned it."  He reached down to pat him on the cheek.  "We'll talk about that later tonight.  For right now, I want you two to stay out of sight and to stay safe."  Xander nodded.  "Good.  Then we'll figure out where we're going from that point."

"Can I go introduce myself?" Xander asked.  "He'll be safe."

"Maybe.  If I can arrange it."

"Uncle H, he's lost his sense of subtle," Ray reminded him.  "If I saw him and Xander saw him stalking me...."  Horatio nodded and sighed. "Besides, I wanna watch Xander hit him."

"We'll see, boys.  For right now I want you two safe.   No more porn either.  Real relationships aren't like that."

"We're too young for real relationships," Ray pointed out with a bright grin.  "I'm not looking to marry, Uncle H.  I'm looking to get laid.  Or don't you remember being our age?"

"I had a steady girlfriend back then.  That's how good boys did things back then."  He stared at them and they shrugged.  "I know, the world has changed.  We'll discuss that as well."  He walked out, putting back on his sunglasses while he listened to one of them throw the lock and chain on the door.   His nephews were very bright and very tough but he wanted to spank the naughty ideas out of them so badly some days.  He went to talk to Yelina.  She had to know.  Even if she did want a drink when she heard.


"This is my corner," a female voice complained.

Xander looked at her.  "I'm not standing here to work it, sweetie. I'm waiting on someone."  He nodded across the street.  "He's in there.  How much do you charge an hour though?  I could use some stress relief later."

"Fifty for an hour of normal stuff.  Unless you like it kinky?"

Xander smirked.  "Can I have my gun back?"  She huffed and handed back the gun she had lifted.  "Thanks.  Can you get my knife your coworker stole too?"  The girl looked at him.  "Never mind.  You probably need it more," he said, seeing the bruise on her cheek.  "Not going to become a serial killer, right?"  She shook her head.  "Make it subtle."  He looked across the street again. "You know anything about them?"

The girls looked and the one with his knife shuddered.  "We don't mess with that dealer.  He's real cold.  He killed his girlfriend for asking for a taste."  She looked at him again.  "You with him?"

"Hell no," Xander said dryly.  "I'm waiting for his client, the King of Doom over there."  He straightened up when the dealer strolled off, heading across the street.  "Howdy."

"Do I know you?" he asked, staring at him.  "You're not very subtle, kid."

"I could say the same considering I saw you stalking Ray Junior," he said quietly.  Ray's eyes went wide and he glanced around.  "Yeah.  By the way, he knows.  He saw you too."

"You with them?"

"Hell no, Horatio would kick my ass."

"Do I know you?" he demanded.

"No, Jessica walked away."  He walked off smirking.

Ray stared then followed, watching how he blended into the shadows in the alleyway.  "Hold on, kid."  He stopped Xander, staring at him.  "You were the one who saved my son."

"No shit.  Really?" he asked dryly, smirking at him.  "You had a problem with me saving your son?"

"Who are you?  You look familiar."

"Yeah, I'm guessing Mom saw her bad decision to leave and go marry her second cousin seventeen years ago."  Ray hissed, backing away from him.  "By the way, have you not heard about condoms?  They're a really nice invention and a version has been around since ancient Egypt.  I *know* they had them when you were sixteen.  The same as I *know* they had them when you were using Suzy as a cover."

Ray swallowed, staring at him.  "You know Suzy?"

"I do and if you ever go near her again I'll kill you," Xander assured him.  "I am protecting my half-sister."

"You're related to Suzy?"

"Did Horatio get all the brains in the family, dumbass?" he shot back.  Ray growled and moved closer.  Xander punched him.  "Ah, I feel better."  He wiped off his mouth while Xander sneered down at him.  "You clearly weren't that good at your job if you can't take the clues and catch a hint, Ray."


"Monroe originally.  Then she went to Detroit.  Married her second cousin Tony Harris.  Moved to Sunnydale."  Ray hopped back up, staring at him.  He nodded.  "Congrats, it's a boy and I have a half-sister I'll keep you from dirtying ever the hell again," he said coldly.  "She's trying damn hard to get her life back together again.  The same as I've been protecting Ray Junior from your shit since a hacker buddy found you."

"She found me?"

"She was doing research on my father and found you.  What a shock," he said bitterly, staring him down.

"I...  She swore up and down she was going to get rid of you, kid.  I swear, if I had known, I'd have married her."

"Hmm."  He stared at him.  "She's dead.  She died back in March.  Arson to most of the block.  Vampires did it."

Ray blinked.  "I know Sunnydale sounded familiar," he said grimly.  Xander nodded.  He swallowed.  "What did she name you?"


"After her father.  What's your middle name?"


"Her paternal grandfather."  He looked him over again then into his eyes.  "You're a bit tough."

"I had to help on the protection detail out there. I'm the sort to jump in."  Ray shuddered.  "Exactly.  Right now, I'm here to hit you a few times for myself and your other son, and to tell you that Ray doesn't want to see you at the moment."

"I'd rather hear that from your brother.  How did you find out?"

"Willow went searching after my parents died."

"Does Yelina know?"

"Yeah, she also met my last girlfriend."  He smirked.  "She decided me being here is better for me."  He pulled out his toss-away cellphone, dialing the hotel.  "It's me.  You good?"  He grinned. "I like that movie.  Here."

"Son," Ray said once he had the phone.  His son growled something impolite and hung up.  He looked at the phone.

"Hit send twice, it'll redial."

Ray did that.  "Your mother taught you better manners, son.  I only wanted to talk.  I've missed you."  Xander snorted again.  "You, quit."

"You didn't tell them.  You were using drugs while you were with them.  Your wife decided Stetler was a better lay and a better boyfriend.  Don't worry, we got her sanitized afterward and helped her find a more reasonable man who made her squeal."  Ray growled.  "Not like you were here, dumbass."

"Quit calling me that.  I am your father."  Xander cackled and he could hear Ray doing the same thing.  "I am."

"No, you're a sperm donor.  Fathers have to be there."  He moved closer again.  "Fathers don't take meth.  Fathers don't abandon their kids and wives without warning them.  Not like they *knew* you were undercover.  She thought you were just sleeping around instead of doing both.  That's why *I'm* protecting Ray.  Even from you.  Now, you've got ten minutes on that.  I'd use them."  He walked away, going back to his car.

Ray leaned against a wall.  "Son," he said quietly, listening to him chew him a new one.  "I have missed you.  I'd like to talk to you in person, even if you do scream at me."  He sighed.  "I know."  He listened to his plans.  "It won't be safe....."  He sighed.  "That's still not safe.  We'll talk about it with your uncle.  I'm not sure your brother can do that, son."  He heard the cackle again and groaned.  "Fine, we'll talk about it with my brother, see what he suggests.  Does your mother know?"  He winced.  She was going to kill him.  His son had said so.  "That's reasonable.  I'd kill me too."  He smiled at his son's assertion he was going to help.  "You deserve a few good blows too," he agreed.  "Can we meet?"  He sighed.  "That's reasonable.  I'll arrange it through him.  Sure, you can even borrow some handcuffs as long as I can still walk."  The phone beeped.

"I've got to go.  I'll put on more minutes later tonight, Ray.  Thank you."  He hung up and went to find a convenience store that sold minutes.  Then he called his brother.  "My older son is an asshole, do we realize this?" he asked in greeting.  His tongue hit the open spot on his lip.  "Yup, followed me.  Hit me.  Let me talk to Ray."  He nodded.  "That's what he said.  It'll be...."  He sighed, thinking about it.  "Then ask her.  Thank you, brother."  He hung up and called Ray back, getting both boys.  "Hand the younger son the phone, son."  He heard the snort as it was handed over, Xander saying he was going to get a soda from the machine up the hallway.  He went to his own motel room to talk to his son.  He wanted to talk to him.  He needed to talk to him.  Then he'd get his brother to spank both boys for being too-tough little thug assholes.


Yelina looked at the boys coming into the station, smiling at them.  "Boys."  She hugged them both.  "Come, we should talk."  She led them to an interrogation room.  "It's not safe, Ray."

"It is safe.  No one else would come after me.  I can live with Uncle Horatio.  Xander can take care of our house until I'm old enough."

"There's taxes and things to consider."

Xander blew a bubble in his gum.  "I'm getting financial aid from the vo-tech and it's only a year-long program, Yelina.  I'll be working after that."  She smiled at that.  "I can afford the house until I start working.  Not like I'm buying it and you'll want to keep it in case you have to come back.  Not like I'm going to throw wild parties either.  My, um, boyfriend wouldn't like that."  She looked stunned. "What?" he whined.  "All the women I'm attracted to are like Cordy and Faith.   It's safer if I don't date a woman who'll kill me and I like him.  You like him but you don't know we're dating."

She blinked a few times then smiled.  "I don't care that you're gay, Xander.  Is he an officer?"  Xander nodded.  "Then I'm sure it'll be just fine and Horatio will kill him if he hurts you."  She patted him on the cheek.  "How were your scores?"  He beamed.  "That good?"

"Second highest in the state this year," he said proudly.  She gave him a hug.  "Thanks, Yelina."  He pulled back.  "It's really safer if Ray doesn't go.  Most of these guys aren't uni-national thugs.  They have ties other places.  Willow said that terrorists and drug dealers and all those bad guys have ties all over the world like a big web.  Having him here where Uncle H could watch him and I could help watch him would actually be safer for him.  That way he's not associated with the sperm donor."  She grimaced.  "Yes, I hit him," he sighed, sliding onto the table to sit.  "Sorry.  Tough but sorry."

"I'm going to gut him so don't worry about it."

"Can I play with the pretty intestines?" Ray asked.

His mother looked at him.  "You're getting violent again, son.  No more video games for a week."  He rolled his eyes.  "No girlfriend either."

"She doesn't make me violent.  She makes me want to go find a new girlfriend since she's cold and doesn't cuddle and the sex is bad."  His mother squeaked, looking horrified.

Xander hugged her. "It's all right.  I'm keeping him from getting a Cordry or Faith of his own," he soothed.  "Uncle Horatio will have him dating *nice* girls very quickly and all that bad taint from his sperm donor gone too."  She nodded, giving him a hug.  Then she gave her a son a hug.  "Besides, why uproot him to take him there?  He can always travel if it's safe.  If it's not, it'd be uprooting him and then doing it again when it got less safe. Bury the sperm donor in a foreign country so we don't have to help you cover it up."  She laughed.  "Then come home."  He shrugged at Ray's look at him.  "I'm being entirely practical."

"You are.  I'm proud you didn't suggest having Spike eat him," Ray offered.

"He'd taste bad."  They both looked at him. "Suzy said so."

"He probably would.   Where did you stalk him to last night, Xander?"

"Making a buy.  The king of subtle he was not.  It was *real* easy to track him and he didn't have backup.  I checked."  She sighed and nodded.  "So yeah.  I hit him."  He grinned sweetly.  "I promise there won't be any loud parties and Uncle H can pop by a lot to remind me to eat.  Alexx probably will too."

"I'm sure she will.  You're still only seventeen."

"Yeah but I'm very mature for my age.  Uncle Horatio did say he'd sign the emancipation papers for me.  Besides, I could help update the house since I'm going in for electronics and wiring and stuff."

"You're going to be an electrician?" Ray asked.  Xander nodded. "I thought plumbing?"

"Don't want that sort of tan on my ass from my pants hanging down."

"Well, that's reasonable."

"Electricians make more too, plus more work that's not in the middle of the night from a flooding basement.  No sewer calls either."

"Also a good point," Ray agreed.  "You could also get on to consult with the department and fire department eventually, when they needed someone to do that."  Xander nodded.  "Or work for a security company hardwiring systems."

"I thought about that. It's a very good job," he agreed.  He looked at Yelina.  "See, I'm a smart, good boy most of the time.  I'd even cut the grass."

She sighed. "If Horatio thinks it's wise.  I'll leave that in his hand."

Xander called him. "We're having a family meeting.  I'm assuming you've had someone listening if not you directly."  He hung up.  "He's watching."  He came in and shut the door.  "So?"

"Electrician?"  Xander nodded.  "I can see you doing that."  He smiled at him.  "It's also not back breaking work most of the time, Xander."  Xander nodded that he liked that too, earning a smile.  He handed Yelina the test scores, making her smile.  "I've bragged all morning.  Alexx wants to buy you chocolate and let Ryan take you to the club."  Xander blushed.  "Did you tell her?"


"Must've been Ryan then."

"You're dating Ryan Wolfe?" she demanded.

"Kinda.  We're kinda working our way up to it," he said weakly, shrugging a bit.  "His OCD makes fun of my t-shirts.  He's always arranging my closets on me.  He even lets me borrow shirts sometimes."

She sighed and rolled her eyes.  Then she looked at him.  Then at Horatio.  "Do you think he could handle it?"

"He was living on his own in Sunnydale at least part of the time," he reminded her gently.  "I will be checking on him.  I will also be keeping most of the weapons I'm going to be removing from his car."  He looked at his nephew, who shrugged.  He smiled at Yelina again.  "I think it would go well and if they are serious, he could probably talk Ryan into moving in and splitting the bills with him," he said quietly.

She sighed and nodded.  "I wouldn't mind that I guess.  He is a nice boy.  Very clean."  She looked at her son.  "Are you sure?"  He nodded.  "Absolutely positive?   You'd miss me."

"I would but I'll still be able to email.  I'll still be able to sneak down for visits.  We can use cellphones to talk whenever we want."  She nodded that was true.

"Video chatting," Xander pointed out.

"That too," Horatio agreed.  "I will be there for him, Yelina, and if he does decide to come down I can make sure he gets there."  She nodded, looking at her son.  "We'll leave you two alone."  He gave Xander's sleeve a small tug, leading him back to his office.  "You hit him?"

"Yup.  Felt good too.  Was he always that slow?  It took me pointing out I had given him clues for him to figure it out, plus another one."

"He wasn't thinking, Xander.  He's not usually that dim."

"He was last night.  Then again I did catch him making a buy."  He gave him a look. "Without backup."

"We usually wear wires for those sort of things," Horatio offered gently.  Xander shrugged.  "Will you give him a chance?"

"Should I?"

"Perhaps.  You should get to know him for yourself instead of from the rest of us, that way you can decide to hate him for your own reasons."

"Some of the reasons will always be how he used Suzy and how he hurt them."

Horatio smiled at him.  "I understand. That's one of the things I don't like about him, but he is family.  The same as if Ray Junior did something that bad and turned evil, he'd still be your brother."

"Yeah but I don't think Ray Junior will ever be that stupid."

"Hopefully not," he agreed.  "You're sure you want to go this way?"  Xander nodded, closing the door since he heard footsteps.  "Absolutely certain?"

"It'll be good for both of us, Uncle Horatio.  You think I make a mess."

"All people make messes.  I objected to the dried eggs on the plates in the sink that never got washed."

Xander grinned.  "He won't let me do that."

"That's very true and she has a dish washer at the house."  He stared at him. "I will still be around, Xander.  All the time."

"I'm sure you will, but I'm also taking an after-hours cooking class."

"That would come in handy," he agreed with a small smile.

"It'd be like I was subletting without the rent, Horatio.  I'm too old to need the coddling and the constant monitoring.  Ray's not.  He needs you.   His world got turned upside down this summer and he definitely needs a male influence.  I caught his girlfriend shoplifting the other day."  Horatio moaned.  "So yeah, he could use you.  He could use all the attention and love you can give him.  I'm a bit beyond some of that sort of correction.  Besides, I'll still get plenty because you hover."  He gave him a hug.  "Which I like.  It's better than when Willow hovers."  Horatio smiled at that.  "Okay?"

"It's sound reasoning and safer to have a hidden spot," he agreed.  "I might even need to use it to hide a witness some day.  It will be further away from your school."

"No I won't.  I'm going to the one out by there.  The other one had a crappy, drunk electrical teacher.  I wasn't going to go there and have nightmares flashing back to the 'rents."  That got a nod.  He shrugged.  "I also got the insurance settlements yesterday.  They're in my bank account."

"I saw.  Life and what?"

"House.  They had a year left on their mortgage so they had to carry it on the house.  The insurance company paid that off first and then sent me the rest.  Plus Uncle Rory's since he left everything to his brother Tony."  That got a nod.  "Yes, they knew he was my stepfather before you ask.  They said it was the only legal thing they could do.  Apparently Willow threatened them a bit."  He sat down.  "I'm still wondering about the stuff out there."

"Have you called?"

"I've been putting it off," he admitted.  He pulled out his cellphone, dialing it.  "Hey, it's me, Wills.   No, I'm good.  Uncle Horatio wants me to stay and do Vo-Tech.  That's why I'm checking.  I heard from Cordy that this year's apocalypse of the moment is going to be badder.  Will you need me?"  He listened to her babble, licking his lips.  "Absolutely sure you won't need me?  No, I can't transfer back suddenly.  Because I passed my GED?" he said dryly.  "Second highest score in the state in the last year," he said proudly, holding his head when she didn't congratulate him.  "Construction stuff.  There's a big need for it down here with all the hurricanes."  He nodded once.  "So you definitely won't need me or you'll know in enough time to call me back suddenly?"  He grunted.  "That'll be fine.  If you need me for that, call me.  Willow, gee, I don't know why.  Let's see.  Hmm.  I'm the one that stopped Jack, the guy who did the bomb."   She gasped and he heard someone else.

"Hi, Willow's mom.  Yeah, I stopped him.  I was standing there when he pulled the plug too.  I've done a lot of stuff you never noticed, Willow.  No, I didn't help him make it.  I helped stop it.  Since you guys didn't want me and all because I'm a normal guy.  We don't have vampires down here, except for Spike."  She snorted. "He's down on vacation or something.  Ran into him at the club.  Well, gee, having fun?"  He snorted.  "I fit in very well down here in the clubs, Willow.  I don't know what you think or what Cordy said.  Really?  Because there's *so* much better music all the time down here.  No more crappy band nights like the battle of the bands where you only get one good one.  If you're lucky."  He smirked.  "Exactly.  Now, you'll know in enough time to call me back, correct?"  He smirked bigger.  "Good.  Then I'll be here.  You have my cell number. You have Uncle H's office number.  Call me if you need me.  Yeah, I'm having a lot of fun.  Dating, clubbing, Vo-Tech coming up.  I've got people down here who fuss when I eat too much pizza.  It's great."  He grinned at his uncle, tossing over the phone.  "She wants to make sure I'm being a good boy.  Apparently I'm a puppy now."

"Only when you're wiggling from too much chocolate," Horatio said, listening to her.  "He's doing very well, Willow.  My team loves him.  Some of them have adopted him like near-family.  Including the Delkos. I know he's sent you a picture of him.  He and Eric or he and Ryan go out to the clubs whenever Xander wants and can beg them to go with him.  He's doing very well."  He smiled at his nephew.  "Second highest in the state, Willow.  I'm very proud of him.  We were discussing his plans when I reminded him to call to make sure you knew he wasn't coming back unless you needed him.  If it's that desperate I'll see what I can do about sending him back the fastest way possible.  You still have to give us a day's warning at the very least.  Good."  He smirked at his nephew, rolling his eyes at some of what she was saying.  "He's had a lot of luck dating some very nice people.  No one like Cordelia in the least.  Not one incident of problem."  He saw the look on his nephew's face and knew he'd ask him later.  "No, just fine. He and his little brother get along quite well.  Ray Junior's mother adores him.  He's thinking about moving to her house because it's closer to his school.  I'm sure he will.  We'll talk soon, Willow."  He hung up.  "You did have a dating incident?"

"Yup and ran into Speed during it.  We playacted and she stomped off after Speed convinced her I was bi and he was a jealous ex.  He also worked on my sense of rhythm."  That got a smile.  "Since then I haven't dated anything deadly that I know about.  Do you think I'll look okay in leather?  Eric suggested it."

Horatio stared at him.  "I don't want that mental image, Xander."

"Not kinky sex leather.  Leather pants leather."

"That's a better mental image and I'd have to see you in them."

"Can we maybe go shopping?" he asked hesitantly.  "I'll buy but I need new t-shirts and jeans."

"I can take you tonight if you want."  Xander nodded.  "Are you sure you wouldn't rather ask Ryan?"  Xander blushed.  "You want to surprise him?"

"He complains about some of my shirts.  He encourages me a lot to borrow some of his."

Horatio smiled.  "Some of your shirts are a bit toxic, Xander."

"No, I left them in storage.  They're still in storage.  I've got a place on the West Side that I'm renting."  Horatio quirked up an eyebrow.  "A few things I wanted to keep."

"That's fine.  Should I worry about more weapons?"  Someone pounded them walked in.  "Rick."

"You went into a hostage situation by yourself?" Rick demanded, glaring at Xander.

"They had Ray Junior, he was screaming for help.  I called Uncle Horatio but he wasn't there yet.  I injured instead of killing.  I'm a good boy.  I was protecting my little brother and then I got him out of harm's way so Uncle H could arrest the stupid mother fuckers and make them sorry.  You wanted me to let them torture him?"

"No, but you're not a cop."

Xander stood up, getting into his face.  "I've done things that would make most SWAT officers piss themselves," he said quietly.  "Hunting things that eat and kill people for a hobby can be like that.  I am doing my damndest to keep Ray out of that.  I'm trying to make sure he grows up a nice, normal little boy without the instincts I have.  He was screaming.  They had him tied to a chair and blindfolded.  They were hitting him on the stomach and chest.  Not like I killed them and I did call for backup from Uncle H personally," he finished, staring him down.  "What did you want me to do, Stetler?"

"I wanted you to wait for backup."

"I was more than good enough to get in there and distract them.  Hence the crossbow bolt to the stomach."  He got a look that said the man thought he was dangerous.  He walked around to Horatio's computer and typed in a web address.  "This is from Faith.  I'm not in this one.  Other things are.  I used to do the same damn job without the superior skills she has.  I had to learn on my own, including how to fight."  He let him see, watching as he started to look sick and green.  "I used to fight with her, another girl with the same gifts as her, and my buddy Willow, plus Cordelia and Willow's boyfriend Oz now and then for the baddest things.  We had a librarian mentoring us.  I did that starting at the beginning of tenth grade.  Two weeks in actually."  Rick gave him a horrified look.  "So yeah, I have skills.  There's a reason I have those skills.  I like those skills.  We can also talk about prior possessions, including one that was an Army PFC.  I did things that can make SWAT guys piss themselves because I *had* to to protect lives.  I did call for backup but in my opinion I could not wait that long. Therefore I didn't.  I rendered it safe and got the hostage out of there."

Rick swallowed.  "Horatio?"

"He did call me before he went in, Rick.  It took longer due to that accident in our way.  Ray was a bit bruised but nothing critical."  Yelina came in with Ray.  "Close it."

"Eric's outside."

"He knows," Xander assured her.  "I went to him about some odd nightmares recently."

"PTSD?" Rick asked.

Xander looked at him.  "No.  I have other nightmares.  Not 'stuck in the battle' or 'can't win' or 'wrong person died' nightmares.  I have some where I'm the victim because I dated things more deadly than Cordy.  I nearly got killed by my first three dates and/or girlfriends.  I'm keeping Ray from that as well."  He let Yelina see, turning Ray around.  "That's stuff you don't need to see.  That's Faith.  She who popped me."

Rick shuddered.  "No wonder you're so wrong."

"Yeah, now and then.  Horatio has been working on me.  For a whole summer, I'm doing incredibly well.  No hunting, no going out to the 'Glades to hunt things.  No hurting normals.  Well, except the one I punched last night because he deserved it but other than that, no normals."  He shrugged.  "I'm a protector."

"Bomb?" he asked.

"The same night I lost my virginity one of my classmates picked me up because I had a ride.  He needed to go dig up a few of his friends.  They kept saying they were going to bake a cake.  I had no idea they weren't talking Betty Crocker."  Ray gave him a horrified look.  He nodded. "Long story short I ended up stopping him before he blew the school.  No one knew it was me.  I did a lot of hiding in plain sight since my girls didn't appreciate me."

"Willow just said to keep your snack skills sharp," Horatio said blandly.  "I would like to spank her some day soon."

"You can come back with me if I need to go for the apocalypse," Xander offered.

"We'll see."  He looked at Yelina, getting up and making her sit in his chair.  He got into another film on the site, letting her see it.  "That's him.  I wrote Faith and asked her to dig up some of you fighting.  Admittedly in your earlier days.  Before you were fighting well."  He gave his nephews a hug.  "I'm proud you survived and you taught yourself a lot, Xander."  Xander grinned at him.  "You still can't hunt down here."

"No plans of it," he promised.  "You notice I'm staying away from security things for the most part?"  He nodded.  "Unless it's necessary to protect Ray, it's not happening."  He heard Yelina snicker.  "What did she find and upload?"

"About your second month fighting," he admitted.  "I think you fell a few times on that patrol."

"I wasn't the only one," he pouted.  "Buffy fell too but they made fun of me."

"It happens to the best of us.  I did the same thing in patrol on chase a few times," Yelina promised.  She got up to hug him and he typed in something else, letting her see the video from his last month there.  She stared then looked at him.  He shrugged.  "You did get better."

"I'm alive.  Of course I did."  He gave her a look and turned to look at Rick.  "Sorry if I stepped on toes again.  I did what I thought was best."

"Can you fight like her?"

"Nope.  Her gifts come with being really strong for a linebacker and some special sensing abilities."

"Oh."  He came over to watch that replay, then looked at the boy.  "That was you?"

Xander looked then nodded.  "'Twas me," he agreed happily, beaming at him.  "That's why I stopped after two years of it.  Then again, my first anniversary of hunting I had a drink.  Well, a few drinks really but I had my first real drink."  Rick just nodded.  "I know, I'm still calming down.  That's why Uncle H brought me down here."

Ray looked at Horatio.  "Thank you.  I like being the little brother for a change.  He gives good dating advice.  If the girl likes him, she's too dangerous for me."

"Yes, she is," Yelina assured him.  She saw Xander whisper something and her son groan. "Problems with the present one, son?"

"He caught her shoplifting."  He shrugged.  "Guess I'll get to find someone who has more fun during sex, huh?"

"There's more to life than sex, nephew," Horatio told him.

Ray looked at him.  "I'm still a teenager."

"You will date, not have casual sex if you're staying, Ray."

"Yes, sir."  He cuddled in again.  "So, he any good?"

Rick wrote down an address, handing it to Horatio.  "He's the guy I recommend for battle fatigue and those things when officers start to slip.  I'd like to see him evaluate your older nephew, Horatio.  It could do him good."

"Would he understand?" Xander asked.  Rick nodded.  "You sure?"

"He's a combat veteran himself and he does have a strange head above his filing cabinet.  Most of the guys think he had it made so they'd have something to laugh at.  It's green, has four eyes, and a bright pink nose."

"They're not usually harmful unless they're high on caffeine.  That's like cocaine to them."

"He'll understand, kid.  He'll also make sure you heal."  He walked out, going back to his office.

"If you want," Horatio said gently.

"I don't know if it'd be okay or not.  I guess I can try."  Horatio handed over the name.  "Are you sure?"

"I am.  See if it helps.  If not, you can continue to come to me, you can even if you go to him and stay with him."  Xander smiled at that.  "Good boy."  He kissed him on the forehead.  "Yelina?"  She closed the browser window. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine.  Thank you for protecting my son, Xander."  She gave him her own hug.  "Please don't let him do that?" she whispered.

"Never crossed my mind," he promised.  He gave her a squeeze.  "So, are we on for my plan or did we come up with another?"

"No, I like yours," she admitted.  "It would be a lot safer if Ray wasn't with us at first.  Then we can talk about him joining us."  She smiled at her son, stroking his cheek.  "Are you sure?"

"Yup.  I can even get Speed to take pity on us and feed us now and then."  Horatio smiled at that.  "I could."

"You can.  Xander begs for food now and then as well," he admitted.

"Which is why I'm taking the extra, after-hours cooking class," Xander said happily.

"Then I'll look forward to Christmas cookies," Yelina said, patting him on the cheek.  "Be a good boy, take care of my house.  I'll let you send me things when we get there."  He nodded and she hugged them all then left the building.

"We'll get you two switched around tonight," Horatio promised.

Xander leaned out the door. "Eric, wanna help me pack my shirts and stuff?"

"I can do that but I want to throw out all the really loud ones."

"Fat chance," he said with an evil grin. "I could let Ray wear them."

"Don't infect him with your bad clothes.  You dress worse than Speed used to," he complained, coming in.  "What're we doing tonight?"

"Xander is moving to Yelina's and Ray is moving in with me," Horatio said quietly.  "The reason will not be talked about."

"Of course not."  He patted both boys on the back.  "I can probably get Speed and Wolfe to help us, if not Calleigh too."  That got a smile from Horatio.

"Then I'm definitely packing my own shirts," Xander pouted.

Eric smirked at him. A mean, cruel smirk. "Mr. Sweater-vest doesn't like your hawaiian shirts?"

"Nope.  Or some of my logo t-shirts either."  He shrugged.  "Calleigh hates them even more.  Speed and I can pack my things, you guys go pack up Ray?"

"Sure.  I'll ask."  He looked at Horatio.  Then at Ray.  "We're here if you need us."  He walked out happier.  "Guys, Xander and Ray Junior are switching rooms.  They need help moving stuff to the other houses."

"Only if I get to clean out his closet," Calleigh called back.

"Nope," Xander said from the walkway, smiling down at her.  "Nor can you play with my trunk."  He beamed and walked back into the office.  "Uncle H, are you going to lunch with us or are we having sundaes on our own?"

"Eat real food as well," he said tolerantly, watching as the boys left together.  He shook his head.  He could not see Ray Junior in some of Xander's clothes.  Hopefully he never would.  He was hoping he'd get his nephew into a suit some day soon.  Speed leaned in.  "He's moving to Yelina's.  Ray's moving with me."


"I can't tell you."

"Yes you can or I'll spread vicious rumors that he's dating Stetler just to see Stetler flinch."

"That's mean to my nephew and Rick seems to respect him.  Told him who to see about his battle fatigue but he does seem to respect him.  He came to yell at him today for rescuing Ray."

Speed snickered.  "The boy's good.  Calleigh wants to know what's in his trunk."

"So would I.  I thought he only had the one handgun and crossbow, plus a sword or two."  He'd be snooping later.  "He also has a storage area.  He nominated you to help him pack his closet so no one would throw out the ugly shirts."

Speed snickered.  "Even I would complain about some of those shirts, H."

"He did ask me to take him shopping," he admitted.  "T-shirts and jeans he said.  Plus possibly some leather pants."

"Midnight blue on him.  Not black, he'll look mean in black."  He walked off smiling.  Ryan gave him an odd look when the smile was pointed in his direction.  "Xander's moving to Yelina's tonight."

"Why?" he asked quietly.

"We can't talk about it," Eric said as he joined them.  "He nominated Speed to help him pack his clothes while you and I do Ray Junior since he's moving to H's place.  You up for a bit of light moving?"

"I can do that.  Any furniture?"

"Shouldn't be," Speed admitted.  "They can keep the beds there."

"Xander said Ray needed a new mattress," Ryan told him.

"He can order one.  It'll be fine," Eric assured him.

"He also asked H to take him shopping for new jeans and t-shirts."  Ryan smiled a bit at that, going back to work. "And leather pants."  The slide Ryan had been holding cracked and he gave them a look.  "I suggested midnight blue but dark green would go well.  Just not black.  He'd look evil in black leather."  He walked out, his mischief for the day done.

Eric looked at him.  "He'd probably look good in darker greens."  He left, going back to the fingerprints lab to work on his case in there.

Ryan put down the broken slide, picking up a new one while he chanted his 'calm down, I will not pounce the boy in the lab' mantra.  He could pounce him later, if Yelina gave them some time alone.


Ryan and Eric looked around Yelina's house then at Xander.  "Where's Yelina?" Ryan asked.

Eric sighed and closed the door.  "She had to run because Ray Senior was really alive and undercover.  His cover was blown, he had to go into hiding.  I've been eavesdropping recently."

"That's why Ray Junior's moving closer to Horatio, so he can be protected better and Xander's moving here because there's not enough room?"

"I don't need the supervision and raising Ray still does," Xander reminded him gently.  "Let's drop stuff in here.  I'm not sure if I'm sleeping in Ray's room or not.  Depends on how many naked pictures I have to take down tonight for him."

"I took down about fifty," Eric offered, leading him back there.  "See, all clean."  Xander grinned at him.  "Then again, I noticed Yelina packed most of her stuff and left you a note on the fridge."  Xander bounced out to read it, cackling quietly.  "Good?" he called.

"She said I should use her room.  She thinks I'm going to be kinky too.  She said I'd need the better headboard."  He carried his stuff back there, then went out to the car to get the stuff he had in storage.  He carried it inside too, putting it down in the living room since it wasn't bedroom stuff.  Then he flopped down on the couch.  "I'm done."

"Uh-huh," Eric said dryly.  "Guns?  Swords?"


"When will you be stealing them back?" Ryan asked.

"He said I could only have one sword and one gun.  They're both in the clothes."  He shrugged. "It'll be fine."  He grinned at them. "You guys can come watch the dish with me when you want."

"We'll be checking on you often, Xander," Eric promised.  He went to check the car, finding the hidden flap in the trunk.  "Xander?" he called.  He came to the doorway so he held up the flap.  "You wanna come here?"

"Crap," he muttered, walking out there.  Ryan came out to see, gasping in shock.  "What?  I like weapons.  Weapons pretty."  He shrugged and put the flap back.  "I'll move it later since you found that."  He grinned sweetly.  "Now, let's go check the kitchen."  They nodded, heading inside to do that while Eric called Horatio about that hidden stuff. Horatio came over to look, giving him a look over his sunglasses again.  "What?" he said, starting to pout.

"You can't transport some of that across state lines," Ryan said, patting him on the back.  "Should we carry it in?"

"I was going to wait until dark.  I don't want to scare the neighbors."

Ryan chuckled. "They're already scared of you, Xander.  You're young and male.  They think you're going to tag houses and things."

Xander looked at him.  "Houses can't play tag.  They don't move.  Usually."  He went to get the weapons, bringing the bag he packed them into inside then going out for another trip, including bringing his vest in openly.  He smiled and waved at the neighbor on the left.  "Yelina had to go on a long trip.  I'm her stepson Xander.  I'm housesitting."  She smiled.  "That's Uncle Horatio, he's going to be popping in often.  This is Eric and Ryan, they're both officers.  They're going to be here often too."  She smiled even more at that.  "Just let me know if I get annoying and I'll try to work on it."  He beamed.  "I'm a good boy most of the time."  He finished going inside with his things.

"It's good that he's giving you a place to store some extra equipment," she told Ryan, reaching over the fence to pat him on the cheek.  "He sounds like a nice boy."

"He often is," Ryan agreed with a smile.  "I'm sure he'll be a good boy.  Doesn't do drugs or anything like that."  She beamed and went to tell the others.  He went inside, looking at his boyfriend.  "We will behave?"

"Of course."  He beamed. "I'm a good boy."

"Do you need belly or ear scratches?" Eric asked dryly, giving him a look as he carried in the last gun.  "Because you sound like you're talking about a dog."

"Every now and then people compare me to a puppy, I don't know why."  Horatio smothered a laugh and gave him a hug.  "She left me food and told me to use her room because Ray's was probably infected by his skanky clepto girlfriend.  Oh, saw her while we had lunch.  She tried to boost my car.  Ray learned how to spank today."  He grinned and went to unpack his shirts.  "She left her alarm clock."

"I'm sure she can find a new one," Horatio said, looking down the halls.  He looked at his officers.  "Boys, I will expect the utmost discretion while you two are with him.  Ryan, if you wanted to move in, she said she was fine with that as long as you were decent to her house and made sure Xander took care of things like the lawn.  You as well, Eric."

Ryan looked at Eric.  "Is he cheating on me with you?"

"He's like my little brother, Wolfe.  Get some sleep for a change and quit having the naughty dreams that keep you up."  He looked at Horatio.  "We'll be good boys too, H."

"Thank you."  He smiled.  "Where are the rest of the weapons?"

"Probably still in storage, but Speed went with him to there," Ryan reminded him.

"I'll ask him later."  He saw Alexx pull up with a picnic basket and held the door for her.  "He's back in Yelina's old room."

"Making himself at home?"

"She said so," Ryan defended.  She smiled and patted him on the cheek then went to put food in the fridge for him.  He went to check on Xander, finding him looking at the closet.   "Not enough hangers?"

"I think I'm missing a shirt. Usually there's a blue one between the purple and the green one so it doesn't quite clash as much."

Ryan looked in the closet and gasped, covering his eyes.  "Horatio, please take him shopping," he begged.  "Or I can.  Someone?  Anyone but Speed?"  He heard Eric laugh but he came in to see why and ended up moaning and covering his eyes as well.

Horatio walked in and looked then at his nephew.  "Yes, we will go shopping tonight, Xander."  He pulled him up.  "Outside, boys."  They walked out, letting Alexx make sure it was only a headache from the garish clothes.  "How do you feel about suits?"

"Does that mean I get my own Suit of Immortality?" Xander joked.

"If you need one, I will be spanking," Horatio warned.  He led him to the hummer.  "Boys?"  They came out.  "Keys?"  Xander held up the ones Yelina had left him.  "Good.  Alexx, lock it?"  She locked the door when she came out.  "We're going to fix his wardrobe issues."

"It was cheap and comfy."

"You can't wear clothes like that in Miami, Xander.  They'll throw things at you."  He waved at the boys.  "We'll see you later."

"Thanks for helping," Xander said, waving and beaming.  "I'll be back in a few hours if you wanted to come back."  They all nodded and waved.  He buckled up and Horatio drove him off.  The first store was kind of nice, even if it was the Gap.  He picked out a pair of purple jeans, earning a funny look from the saleswoman.  "To go with the shirt I've got."

"Basic black, sweetie.  It's always acceptable and it goes with everything."  She steered him to the correct rack, letting him find his size while she put back the purple pants.  Horatio gave her a look.  "You his sugar daddy?"

"Uncle."  He watched as Xander was let into the changing room, watching what he came out in.  He had to cover his eyes at the shirt he found.  "No, Xander.  Not that shirt."  Now he knew why women wanted to kill him.  It was to make sure he couldn't wear shirts like that anymore.  He looked and Xander came out in a better pair of pants, it made the shirt less bright and shiny.  "Not that shirt," he repeated.  Xander pouted, stroking it.  "No."  He walked him into the changing room and took that shirt off him and took the three others he had in there away.  He went to find him decent shirts, handing some over.  "Those shirts are good shirts that Ryan would like to see you in," he said quietly.  Then he went back to the waiting area.  Xander came out, pouting a bit.  "Nicer.  You match."  He turned him around so he could see himself.  "See, that look attracts good attention," he said in his ear.

"But I've....."

"You may have him but you want him to give you pleased and happy looks, right?  Not want to rip your clothes so he doesn't have to see them again?"  Xander nodded, giving him a shy look.  "Then dress to impress him, Xander.  Plus your bosses at school."  He gave him a pat on the back.  "Dress like that."

"Tighter pants?"

"I don't think you need to wear pants tight enough to be propositioned," he said dryly.  "Save those for clubbing."  Xander nodded, going to try on the next outfit. "Where did you have that shirt hidden?"

"It was in here.  I like print shirts.  Can't I wear them over jeans?"

"Nope," the saleslady said, shaking her head.  "I cannot make myself sell someone ugly clothes.  I'm sorry, but no."  She took it off him and went to put it in the back.  She didn't know they had so many ugly shirts in the store.  She came back and Xander had on jeans and a tighter t-shirt.  "You have a nice body, show it off, sweetie."

"I agree, though that is a bit tight for my preference," Horatio noted. "He can keep that one in the yes pile."  Xander gave him a careful hug and went to change again.  He looked at the saleswoman.  "Thank you," he said quietly.

"My boss complains when I can't sell the ugly clothes but oh well!"  She went to find him more things, bringing them back.  "Here, try these on, baby."  She went to check someone else out, smiling at them.  "Hi.  Find everything you need today?"  The woman nodded, paying with her credit card.  She checked on Xander when he came back out, smiling at that look.  "Get more like that, Xander."  She finished running her card, letting her sign the little automated pad. "Thank you for shopping at the Gap.  Come back to see us again sometime."  She went back to helping him.  The poor boy needed help.


Ryan looked at Xander's new clothes, then at the boy reading on the bed.  He poked him on the side.  "What's wrong with t-shirts?"

"Horatio wouldn't buy me any."

"You can help me pick up a few new ones if you want."  Xander gave him a shy grin and nodded.  "Good."  He leaned down to kiss him.  "I do like that green shirt.  It'll look great in the clubs."  Xander pulled him down to kiss him again.  "As slow as you want, Xander."  The book got put aside and Xander cuddled up on him, touching and stroking, kissing and cuddling for now.  It was nice.  It was very nice.  Even if he did hear Eric's Lexus pull in.  "That's Eric," he said quietly.

"He knows."

"I know he knows.  He also has a key?"  Xander handed him the copy he had made for him.  "Thanks.  Front or back?"

"Back.  That way you can park and come in."  That got a grin and they waited while Eric found them.  "Hi.  Back again?"

"I wanted to make sure you got the clothes all unpacked."  He ignored the cuddling going on.  He refused to be jealous of Xander.  He liked the kid.  He deserved to be happy.  He looked in the closet.  The garish print shirts did look better among the rest of the them.  "No t-shirts?"

"Horatio said not if he was paying for them.  Well, beyond the few that made my abs look fantastic," Xander admitted, getting up to show him one.  He stripped off his former shirt and put the new one on, letting it be seen.  "See?"

"Looks nice," Ryan agreed, smiling at him.  "Next time we go out I'll help you pick out stuff."  Xander beamed and took off that shirt, hanging it back up.  "What is that?" he asked, pointing at his stomach.

Xander looked then at him.  "Appendectomy."

"That can't be.  The scar's wrong," Eric told him.  He frowned.  "That's across, not down.  It's also too close to the center."  He traced it.  "Hernia?"

"Haven't had one that I know of," Xander offered.

Ryan sat up and pulled him closer.  "No, an appendectomy scar looks like that, Xander," he said, letting him see his.  "See, up and down, small."

"Maybe the doc was a quack.  It was Sunnydale."  He shrugged.  "The hospital has a fairly low success rate."

"Maybe but we might want to get your medical records," Eric said, staring at his back.  Ryan noticed and turned him around, popping the huge zit for him. "Thanks."

"It's come back a few times," Xander sighed, sitting down.  "Sorry.  I do wash."

"Sometimes washing isn't enough.  I know I had some bad acne during hormone surges and growth spurts," Ryan offered, patting him on the back.  Eric went back to staring in the closet so he smiled at him.  "I'm good at popping those.  Can't stand to see 'em."  Xander beamed and kissed him then lowered his pants beltline, letting him see his other one. "That's... got a head," he admitted, working on that one.  It popped and he went to wash his hands.

Eric looked at him. "He's learning fussing from Alexx."

"I like it when he fusses.  He's good at it."  He got up and showed him one shirt.  "You think that'll go okay?  Horatio didn't say anything when I asked."

"I'd have to see the full outfit."  Xander went to change into it, coming back in the nice shirt that highlighted his muscles very well, and the pants that made him have a double- take ass.  Eric nearly moaned.  He could see why Ryan was attracted to him.  "I like that.  It looks good on you, Xander."  Xander smiled and went to show Ryan.  He checked.  Ryan's mouth was open and he was making squeaky noises.  "You just turned his brain to mush.  This is a good time to kiss him."  He ducked back to finish looking in the closet.  Staring at the ugly shirts did lessen his desire to pounce.  A bit.  Xander came back and changed, putting those back while Ryan flopped down on the bed.  "We could go watch tv."

"Nothing on tonight," Ryan complained.  Xander snuggled back into his side, getting another kiss.  "Want to go to the kitchen and make dinner?"

"Alexx brought over stuff."

"I saw.  Let's go see."  They got up and drug Eric out there.  Xander had to let Eric have some of it because he had some issues with certain foods.  Apparently mayonnaise was bad to him since he'd had food poisoning from it when he was younger.   The rest was laid out and Xander dug in, eating heartily.  Ryan and Eric shared fond looks and dug in themselves.  She was a very good cook.


Ryan walked into the morgue the next day, giving Alexx a hug since she wasn't busy yet.  "Mayo is bad.  Xander had food poisoning when he was younger."  She looked at him.  "Eric and I were over so we ate the potato salad.  It was good."  She smiled at that.  "Just for future reference."  He gave her a squeeze.  "I need help."

"Why do you need help, sugar?  Tell me."  She kicked out a chair so he could sit down.  "Is he partying already?"

"No," he said, looking around before pouting.  "I wanted to pounce, Alexx.  Oh, God, I wanted to pounce.  I wanted to bend him over the sink and have him there.  Then get him into the shower to soap him up and have him again."  He held his head.  "Horatio got him this really nice silk blend shirt.  It made him look like a god."  She reached over to stroke over his shoulders.  "We're only at the cuddling stage.  He's barely starting to get comfortable with the touching stuff.  I had to do myself twice last night before I pounced."  He looked at her.  "I'm trying but my patience is out."

"Sometimes a bit of pushing is okay."

"I tried to touch him and he got giggly and nervous."  He looked so miserable.  "I don't know if it was me or he was scared or what."

"Did you ask?"  He nodded.  "What did he say?"

"He wasn't used to thinking before jumping in.  He told me about Faith basically dragging him into a room and using him as a big sex toy. She stripped him and climbed on top to use him."  He gave her a pitiful look. "I don't know what to do, Alexx.  I really don't.  I don't want to get pushy.  I don't want to overwhelm him.  I did want to use his chest for a plate for breakfast.  He came out in boxers and nothing else."  He let out a little moan.  "I'm going insane.  Now I know what's wrong with Delko, he's always this horny."

"It'll be fine.  Maybe you should do a bit of taking charge.  Make it good but take control this time.  He'll get used to it.  I wouldn't go all the way but there are intermediary steps."  Ryan gave her a confused look.  "Rubbing, sweetie.  Rubbing."

"Oh, that stuff.  That is nice," he admitted, nodding slowly.  "You think?"

"I'm pretty sure if you pounced and kept it at that level you'd be begged for more."   He grinned.  "Which would let you get that urge to pounce out."  Someone walked in and she smiled at him.  "The poor ones do call but remember, he's used to jumping in. You're giving him the chance to think.  Don't expect him to do anything but think if you give him the chance."  She got up and went to examine the body, signing off on it.

Ryan went upstairs to make some plans for their next night together.  They had planned on going out Thursday night since he had Friday off.  He hoped.  He needed good plans in case Xander wore that shirt again and his brain turned back into mush.  Though he did get an amused look for his scowl at Horatio for buying him that shirt.

"He did need to dress up," Horatio said mildly.

"We saw the black shirt."

Horatio smirked.  "Let him wear the blue one."  He heard a groan and looked back at Eric.  "Saw as well?"

"Jealous.  I don't look like that."  He finished getting himself something to drink and left the break room again.  He was not going to think about it.

"You're welcome," Horatio told Ryan before he left, going to watch Eric figure out what he was doing.  Because this was going to drive Eric insane.  He and Speed were doing a lot of  Eric watching recently.

Ryan pouted.  Horatio didn't like him.  He was tormenting and torturing him.  That was not what nice bosses did.


Horatio walked into Xander's house, finding him on the couch with a hand over his eyes.  "Bad day?" he asked quietly.

"Nearly crashed the car when someone pulled out in front of me suddenly with his really expensive sports car.  Then he got out to scream at me when I stopped to check for damage.  I pointed out I had the right of way and he sneered, called his lawyer, and gave him my plate number.  Told him to sue me."

"I heard.  The officer who responded found five witnesses that said it was his fault.  How bad was the damage?"

"Mild scrape on my part.  He wanted his car repainted."  He uncovered his eyes.  "What's going on?  Checking on me?"

"That as well."  He sat down at his feet.  "I thought you might like to talk about Ryan."

"Is he okay?"

"He's fine but he was looking a bit confused earlier.  Did something happen?"

"He stayed in Ray's room last night."   He shrugged.  "I offered him cuddle rights but he said that was moving too fast because I got a bit nervous."

"Do you want to talk about why you're nervous?"

"I'm... I just expect to be the *guy* doing the guy stuff during sex."

"And with Ryan you don't want to?  I'm sure he'd let you."

Xander looked at him.  "I could?"

"You'd have to see.  Some people can only top but I've never taken Ryan for that sort.   The same as I don't take you for that sort."  Xander relaxed.  "Was it touching him or the thought of him flipping you over?"

"The thought of him flipping me over," he moaned, slumping a little bit.  "I'm so screwed."  Horatio snickered.  "No pun intended."

"Actually, I think there was.  It could have been a Freudian slip."  He patted him on the leg.  "If this was with a girl, what would you be doing?"

"Hanging all over her."  Horatio gave him a look.  "I'm a bit clingy."

"Totally reasonable.  If she was still pure you'd be gentle with her, right?"  He nodded.  "Start that way with Ryan and ignore the end result.  It'll happen when it does and all you should be worrying about right now is if you know what to do when it does happen or that you have all the pertinent safety instructions.  Do you?"  Xander nodded.  "Good.  Then relax and let it happen if it does.  Don't force it.  Don't wish for it.  Just let it go."

"Yeah, I guess.  Think he'd like to pop over for dinner tonight?"

"He's had a long day and he won't be off work for a few more hours."  He patted him on the leg again.  "How was your first night here?"

"Okay. The house makes creepy noises.  I finished unpacking and hiding the other swords from you."  Horatio smirked at that.  "I did."  He grinned.  "I also went to the Vo-Tech and they've done all my paperwork so I can start when school does. They said I'd get my check near the end of the first week, after they took the tuition out of it."  Horatio nodded, still smiling.  "That I should use it to get tools and clothes I could work in."

"Some of your older jeans would be good for that," he reminded him.  Xander smiled and nodded.  "Maybe you should pick up a few extra t-shirts just for work things."  He stood up.  "Want to come over for dinner?"

"Sure."  He got up and grabbed his keys, sliding into his sneakers.  He visually checked the back door then headed out to the hummer, letting Horatio check his car first.  "See, only a scratch."

"It is.  Thankfully you weren't hurt."  He patted him on the back and got in to drive, taking Xander home so he could make Ray feel better.  It had hit him today and he was a bit quiet but Xander and the Playstation would make him feel like normal.  Even if Ray was teasing him about Xander's character humping his during assaults.


Xander slid into the car next to Ryan.  "I can drive us."

"No, my car's safer."  He looked him over, swallowing the extra drool he suddenly had.  "That looks nice on you."  Xander smiled at him, looking a bit shy.  "All ready?"  Xander nodded so they headed off to the club they had decided to hit tonight.  Once there it was an easy matter to get in and let Xander lead him onto the floor.  However Speed had fixed his rhythm problems the night he had saved him, he had good rhythm now.  People kept trying to steal him, which earned a lot of glares.  Xander moved closer to ease his scowl, wrapping his arms around Ryan's neck, letting Ryan put his hands on his hips, earning a smile from his lover.

Xander leaned closer, nibbling on Ryan's ear.  "You're mine, they can't have you."

"They don't want me."  He gave him a squeeze.  "They want you, Xander."  Xander shook his head.  He nodded back, grinning.  "They want you not me."  He gave him another squeeze, letting him brush closer.  He groaned at the rubbing going on.  Xander was turned on, he could feel it, but he was lost in the music.  He nodded back at the bathroom when it got too much.  Xander frowned and looked confused.  "Break," he said over the music.  He led Xander back there.  "Sorry, needed a quick break.  Don't want someone to steal you."  He ducked into the bathroom, going to relieve his major problem.  He was halfway there when he heard the door open, groaning a bit.

"Ryan?" Xander asked, looking into the stall.  He walked in and closed it, kissing him.  "Need help?"

"I don't think you're ready for that yet."

Xander smiled and kissed him again, then he checked the floor before going to his knees.  He stared up at him, touching gently at first.  He slowly got used to it, watching as Ryan shivered, clutched the walls, and moaned.  He slowly leaned forward and took a gentle lick up it.  Ryan's moan carried outside the bathroom that time.  He smiled up at him and went back to playing.  He wanted to play, to learn this part of his boyfriend.  He slowly got braver, ending up sucking on the end.  Ryan looked down and Xander put a hand in his hair.  "Don't pull," he ordered.

"Won't," he panted, letting more slip into his lover's mouth.  Xander took it and kept going, setting a good rhythm.  He kept going, slowly making him take more and more.  "Swallow," he ordered/begged, going further back.  Xander gagged so he pulled back and tried it again.  "Swallow instead of gagging."  He did it this time and Ryan whimpered, pulling back.  "More?"  Xander went down before he could do it again.  "Oh, please swallow," he begged him.  Xander did it again and again, making him grab the top of the stall's walls to hold himself up.  "Close," he panted.  Xander kept going.  "Xander, come on."

Xander pulled off, licking him.  "I want to."  He went back down, letting Ryan set the pace this time.

Ryan whimpered but let himself go.  If Xander wanted it, he'd get it.  "You'll get messy.  Can't swallow it all."

"I wash," he said when he came up for air.  He swallowed him again, nice and slow.  Ryan let go, flooding into his mouth, watching as he swallowed it.  He panted, leaning down to catch his breath, helping Xander up so he could cuddle him.  "Good?  Or at least okay?"

"Excellent," he whispered, kissing him.  "Watching tapes again?"  Xander blushed but nodded.  "No one else looks up like that."  He took another kiss, stroking a hand over Xander's cock.  "Didn't make you happy?"

"That's not me."  He shifted the hand on him.  "That's me.  The other was an underwear roll.  I guess I grabbed your boxers this morning."

Ryan took another kiss, pushing Xander back into a wall.  "I want you so much, but this is not the place for this."  Xander whimpered, pushing into his hand.  "Home?"

"We've only been here an hour."

Ryan looked at him.  "Unless you want your first time to be in this grimy bathroom or against a wall out there, we should head home."  Xander swallowed and kissed him again then he nodded.  "I'll drive."

"Can't walk like this."

Ryan smiled. "Want me to get you messy?"

"You could reciprocate."

"I want to see you naked and sweaty when I do that for you."  Xander whimpered and took another kiss.  "Turn around."  He undid his pants once he did that, aiming him at the toilet, stroking him gently.  "Those are my boxers," he said in his ear.  "I like you wearing my clothes."

"I'll wash 'em," he panted.

"Only if you're keeping them," he whispered in his ear, making Xander groan and get off.  "That's my boy."  He kissed his neck, smiling when Xander picked his hand up to lick.  "Ah!  My treat."  He licked off his fingers, letting Xander steal kisses in between.  "Like how you taste?"

"We taste very good together."  He took another kiss and did himself up, letting Ryan walk them out to clean their hands off so they could sneak out and not attract too much notice.

Ryan led him back out to the car, ignoring the fact that Speed and Eric had been lurking in another corner and Eric had been staring at them.  He got them into the car and headed back to the house, holding Xander's hand.  "Still okay?"  Xander smiled and leaned over to nibble on his ear.  "Don't make me crash.  Horatio would never let me live it down.  Not to mention Speed and Eric."  Xander giggled and pulled back some, letting him have enough mind to drive.  Barely.  He got them back into the house, stopping to kiss him in the living room.  "Are we staying out here or going to the bedroom?" he asked between kisses.  "I don't mind making out on the couch."

"Stuff's in there, might as well."  Xander led him that way, taking off his shirt and tossing it into the chair.  Ryan walked over and folded it.  "Sorry.  Wanna do the rest?"  Ryan smirked and came over to get him down to his boxers, admiring them on the thinner body.  "I pulled them out of the dryer."  He got to work on Ryan's buttons, sliding the shirt open so he could play.  He leaned down to nip his chest, licking over where he had bitten.

Ryan pushed him onto the bed, taking off his shirt and pants and folding them, putting them on top of Xander's.  "Tell me if you get nervous."

"I'm more nervous about being like this," Xander said quietly, stretching out.

Ryan looked at him.  "I have no problem being on the bottom this time, Xander.  Or changing your position."  He laid down next to him, stroking over his stomach.  "If you want to bottom you've got a few choices.  If not, I'll be on the bottom.  I will see you on your knees and another time on your side while I'm curled around you.  We can work up to you being on your back with me looking down and staring at you."  He took another kiss.  "Up to you.  There's lots of ways we could do this."  Xander made an inquisitive noise while flipping them over to learn his body.  "I could take you into the bathroom, clean you out a few times, then have you once you're clean, no condoms," he groaned, yelping and arching up into the spot where he had been nipped.  "Or just like you are now, only with lube."

Xander looked up at him. "I took a shower."

"Clean you inside, Xander."  He saw the confused look.  "On the tapes you and Ray watched did they play with water?"  Xander shivered but nodded.  "I can do that to you. It'll clean you out, let me take you without the condom."  Xander pulled out a small basket from under the bed, letting him see.  "Gloves.  Nice."  He kissed him again while pulling on a glove.  He opened the bottle of lube, sliding some on his fingers.  "We'll do it this way this time, just to get you used to being touched there.  Then you can pounce."  He teased his chest and stomach while he played with his ass, slowly getting him used to teasing it, slipping one finger slightly inside.  "Feel okay?" he asked before sucking on the head of his cock.  Xander yelped and arched up, letting his finger go in further.  "Xander?" he asked when he pulled back.

"Full, kinda different."  Ryan's finger slid in deeper, thrusting back and forth.  "Liking that," he panted, arching up again.  "Ryan, please!" he begged. Ryan chuckled and went back to his teasing and playing.  He eventually got two fingers in there and Xander shrieked when he hit the little spot inside him.  "What's that!"

"That is the best spot in the world.  That's your prostate."  He licked up the bottom side of Xander's cock.  "Come if you want to, Xander."  Xander whimpered and shifted his thighs out more.  "Gently.  Unless you want to go this way tonight?"  Xander growled and he went back to it, before he lost control and made Xander pounce him until he begged.  Xander was writhing and whimpering. "Come, Xander.  I want to see it."  Xander groaned.  "Come on."

"Can't yet," he whined.  "Please?"  Ryan went back to playing with his cock.  Some guys couldn't do that from only having fingers in them.  Some could.  He'd work Xander up to the point where he could get it from looking at him right.  Xander finally came and he slid in three fingers, taking advantage of the tremors and the loose muscles.  Xander flipped them over, staring down at him, blinking.  "More?"  Ryan wiggled his fingers and he hissed, tightening around them.  "Much more?" he begged.

"Want to be on top?  On your hands and knees?  Maybe on your side?"  He flipped them back over, moving up to kiss him.  "Or we can do it this way this time."  Xander nodded, spreading his legs wider.  "You're sure?"  Xander nodded frantically.  "Okay."  He added more lube to his fingers, getting him ready.  Then he took off the glove and put on a condom, letting Xander see him open it with his teeth.  He slid it on and slicked himself up, then moved Xander's feet up onto his shoulders.  "Up here.  It'll be easier."  Xander nodded, linking his ankles together behind his head, earning a smile.  "Good.  I like that."  He slowly moved forward, kissing him to distract him.  "Deep breath then push out," he whispered between kisses, gently and slowly pushing his way inside.  Xander tensed so he stopped.  "Push back, it'll help."  Xander did that, he could feel it.  "Good, that's it."  He started to move again and sank in all the way.  He paused, taking another kiss.  "How does it feel?"

"More full.  Lots more full.  Much more than fingers full," he babbled, pulling him down to kiss him.  "Please, Ryan?"

Ryan smiled and took another kiss before pulling back and pushing back in again.  Xander whimpered on the out-stroke and whined on the in, making him a happy boy.  He kept going, slowly inching his way to a faster pace.  Because Ryan wasn't going to last for that long.  Xander was so tight.  "You're so tight, so warm," he said between kisses.  He sat up and pushed his feet apart, allowing himself to go deeper.  Xander yelped, thrusting back.  "Like that."  He smiled and leaned down to kiss him again, going back to it.  He slammed in once and Xander nearly screamed in pleasure.  "That's my boy.  Keep going.  I want to see you come."

"Can't yet," he panted, but Ryan wouldn't let him touch himself.  "PLEASE!"

"Soon," he soothed, stroking it for him.  Xander rocked back and forth into his hand and onto his cock, making it better.  He still came first but Xander came with a few more strokes, letting Ryan collapse on top of him for cuddles.  He smiled.  Xander grinned and kissed him then snuggled in.  "Better?" he said once he could breathe.  Xander nodded, stroking over his stomach.  "Sore?"  Xander nodded faster.  "Bath?"

"Soon.  Comfy," he said, yawning a bit.

"It's not unusual to not be able to get off the first time," he said gently, stroking his back.

"Scar," Xander told him.  Ryan lifted his head to look down at him.   He nodded.  "It was."  He rolled the condom off carefully and tossed it out.  "There you go.  Cuddle?"

"Love to.  C'mere."  Xander came up and snuggled in, taking another kiss before using his shoulder as a pillow.  "Like that," Ryan admitted, yawning at the end.  "It's been a while since it was that good.  Molest you again tomorrow morning?"

"Or maybe later if I get up," Xander offered, pinching him on a nipple.

"Behave or I'll make you so sore you won't be walking," he warned.  Xander moaned.  "Xander," he whimpered.  "I'm not that young."  His cock was palmed, being stroked by the hand.  "You're evil.  I haven't had three times in a night since college."  Xander sucked on his neck, making him tip his head back to let him.  "Oh, God."  He felt himself respond and that was all it took.  Xander's mouth was on him and he lost it, showing him what he should be doing.  "No teeth this time."  He tapped him on the back of the head.  "No teeth," he ordered.  Xander quit scraping him and went deeper, making him squeal and arch up when he swallowed once he was in his throat.  "Damn it!"

Xander pulled back.  "Swimming," he said with a smug look.  Ryan pushed his head back down and he went back to it.  He let Ryan pull his hips up so he could show him what he wanted more personally, though he did swat the fingers touching the scar on his balls.  Ryan looked at it closer then at him.  "Demon," he said dryly.  Ryan kissed it and went back to playing with him.  It was good.  When Xander came, he fell asleep on Ryan's thigh, leaving him hanging but Ryan came with a few pulls and it was fine, letting him nap where he was too.


Xander woke up sore but to a note sitting next to him saying Ryan had run home to get something for them to play with today.  He also heard voices so he got up and put on the boxers he had worn last night.  He walked out to the kitchen, looking at Calleigh.  "What're you doing here?"

"Breakfast.  I'm off today and I thought I'd make sure you ate and see if you wanted to do a bit more shopping for things that Horatio wouldn't have let you buy."  She looked him over.  "Someone does a lot of situps."  Xander blushed and went to find a t-shirt.  She smiled at Ryan.  "Are you two having a sleepover?"

"Um...."  She caught a clue and gasped, one hand covering her mouth.  "Well, yeah.  We're keeping it very quiet, Calleigh.  Please?" he begged.

"I have no problem with it.  You two are cute together," she assured him, smiling and hugging Xander.  "Want him to come shopping with us?"  He nodded.  "Good.  We'll get you some cute things that'll make Ryan blush."  She patted him on the cheek.   "I brought muffins."

"Muffins are nice," Ryan said, looking at Xander, who nodded and got the milk.  He smiled.  "You sure?"

"It works for me."  He sat down and smiled at her.  "Thank you for not making me cook.  He's a bit fussy."  She laughed and nodded and Ryan swatted him on the back.  "You can be."

"Now and then for good reasons."  He grinned at him.  "Just for that I'm making you do laundry today."  Xander shrugged.  "The proper way.  Sorting and all."

"You're supposed to sort things?"

"How do you usually do laundry?" he asked, looking concerned.

"Soaking the goo or ashes out and then on cold.  That way nothing runs and I don't end up with any pink things."

"That's what I do usually too," Calleigh admitted.  "It saves on the electric bill too."

Ryan looked at her.   "It's not good for your clothes."

"It works."  She dished out the muffins, taking two for herself and giving Xander three.  It was clear they had a lot of fun last night since Xander wasn't quite sitting fully on the chair.  She gave Ryan two because he probably needed the energy.


Calleigh tapped on Horatio's door that night, smiling at Ray Junior.  "Horatio's not here?"

"Uncle H is taking a shower.  He got sprayed with nasty crap when a ceiling collapsed from all the blood and goo on it."  He let her inside.  "Uncle H, it's Calleigh," he called.

Horatio came out of his bedroom with his robe tied tightly.  "What happened?"

"Nothing much.  I took Xander and Ryan shopping for t-shirts and more relaxed clothes.  They're very good today."

Horatio gave her a look and nodded for her to follow, going into the bathroom to get dressed.  "What happened?"

She giggled.  "I brought over breakfast to see if Xander wanted to go shopping for regular, normal t-shirts, teenager clothes.  I found Ryan just coming back from an errand."  Horatio looked out at her.  "They were so cute!" she cooed, smiling brightly.  He grinned back.  "You do know?"  He nodded.  "I thought you did.  Who didn't?"

"You."  He came out once he had his shirt tucked in.  "They all right?"

"Xander couldn't quite sit right this morning but yes."  He smirked at that. "They were adorable.  Ryan was every bit the doting boyfriend.  He even tried to get Xander into t- shirts like his but I made him buy some that weren't pastel."  He smirked at that.  "I did.  He needed them.  We ran into Eric for lunch.  He ate with us and brought Speed lunch back."  She leaned closer.  "Are we going to have problems with Eric being jealous?" she asked quietly.

"I hope not.  I'd hate to hurt him if he made Xander upset."  She looked stunned.  He nodded.  "We had this talk already."

Ray leaned in.  "Eric likes Ryan, Ryan likes Xander, and Xander thinks Eric's a neat human being he can talk to.  At the moment, Xander's being looked at by Eric because he knows he won't break them up unless Ryan does something really stupid, like turn into Cordelia.  Xander has noticed he looked a few times.  He's not quite that naive about people wanting him but he is confused why anyone would want to look at his ass.  Even in those new clothes you bought him that make him look like a sextoy for a rich woman."  He went to the kitchen.  "The roast's done, I'm pulling it out and onto the stove."

"Thank you," Horatio called.   He looked at her.  "Eric is working his own problems out."

"Good.  I don't want it to fracture the team."

"It won't.  They might end up being cute or Eric will find solace in a new young thing some night soon."  She nodded.  "How else were they?"

"Ryan was hovering.  He was handing him things, he was checking him over, and he pulled out his chair at lunch.  If he wants to hide it, he needs to do it better."

"I'll make sure he knows that," Horatio promised.  "Anything else?"

"No, just making sure you know they need to be a bit more discreet."  She gave him a hug.  "Have a good night.  We went to all the decent stores and nothing too bad or too pastel."  She bounced out, going back to her house and her cheesecake for dinner.  She deserved it.  She had kept Xander from buying some shirts that even Speed had vetoed when Xander had texted him.  Fortunately she had the weekend off too.


Speed tapped on the door, getting a damp Ryan.  "Dishes?" he asked, stepping inside.

"Not exactly.  Um, doing something rather private.  Why?"

"Came to check on you two."  He looked him over then nodded once.  "Xander okay?"  He nodded.  "Xander, you good?  Need to talk?"

"I'm fine," he squeaked.

"Good.  I've got tomorrow off, we'll go better t-shirt shopping together.  Calleigh's really uptight."

"She got pinched a few times too," Ryan said dryly.

Speed nodded.  "She usually does.  I'll go distract Eric," he decided.  "You two play nicely.  Remember if you hurt him, I'll help H hide your mangled corpse."  He stared him down and Ryan shuddered, nodding.  "Good.  See you tomorrow, kid.  Call when you get up."  He left, going back to his bike and heading off. On the way he called Eric when he had to stop at a stoplight.  "I'm off, you're off for the night.  Do something?"  He smirked.  "Yes, I'm trying to keep you away from Xander for the night," he agreed.  "Because we gotta talk, Eric.  Your place or mine, man."  He smirked.  "Be there in twenty, traffic being unwilling."  He hung up and started going again, heading for his apartment.  Eric was already waiting on him.  He walked inside, letting him follow.  "What are you thinking?"

"I don't know," he moaned, sitting down.  "I like Ryan."

"You've got it bad."

Eric snorted, looking at him.  "Ya think?"

"Yeah, I do."  He patted him on the shoulder, getting him a beer.  "So, let's talk."

"Must I?"

"Yup.  Before it gets in the way of work."

"I'm good about that."

Speed made his buddy look at him.  "It's already been noticed by Calleigh."  Eric whimpered.  "She also went to take Xander t-shirt shopping today.  They're very tight."

"I saw at lunch."

"And you just *happened* to run into them?"  He nodded.  "Not on purpose?" he prompted.

"No, I was out getting your food and ran into them at the mall."  He shrugged, sipping his beer.  "I don't know what I'm doing."

Speed gave him a pat.  "Ryan and Xander are happy."

"They're cute too."

"They are.  Are you thinking of asking to join in or are you going to try to take him?"

"I'm not going to ruin Xander's happiness.  He's had too little of that."  He took another drink.  "I'm screwed up."

"You probably are," he sighed.  "So, joining in?"  Eric looked at him.  "It would be the only option that wouldn't cause harm."


"You've checked Xander out.  I've seen you do it.  You're very fond of him."

"I'm still his confidant."

"Then we'll figure it out."  He reached over to smack him on the head.  "It'll work out.  Even if we have to make Ryan see it.  Now, we need you to focus.  You're going to get someone hurt, probably Ryan."  Eric nodded, taking another drink.  "You're sure?  Absolutely positive?"

"Enough to make my mother scream if I bring him home."  He laughed, looking at him.  "She'll really scream if I bring home him *and* Xander."

"You've got it bad," Speed decided.  "Is that the way you're thinking?"  Eric nodded.  "Because of this talk?"

"No, I started thinking about that the other night when I went through his closet.   Horatio bought him a few shirts and pants that should be criminal."  He finished his beer and looked at him.  "I've tried to work it out of my system.  I've tried to do it all, it's not working."

"Then we'll work on it.  The first step is to talk to Ryan.  He's on tomorrow. You're on tomorrow.  I'll talk with Xander for you."  Eric shook his head.  "No?"

"No.  Let me talk to Ryan first.  I don't want to confuse the kid.  He's just now figuring out why he likes Ryan."

"With the way he was standing, it's too late for that.  Plus Ryan was really damp when I showed up and Xander was clearly naked and leaning around the corner from the bathroom."

Eric held his head.  "I didn't need that mental image, Speed."

"Sorry."  He got him another beer.  It was the kindest thing he could do.


Eric looked at Ryan the next day, then around.  "We need to have a talk."

Ryan looked at him.  "Yeah, I've noticed some things," he said dryly.  "And?  The conclusion you came to is?"  He leaned against the table, crossing his arms over his chest.

"I'm not sure yet."  He closed the door and looked at him.   "I know right now that my attraction..."

"To Xander," Ryan added when he didn't.

Eric shook his head.  "Not originally."  Ryan gaped.  "Yeah.  Which is the problem.  But now, I'm starting to see what you do and it's screwing with me.  I've tried to work it out.  It hasn't helped yet."

Ryan groaned, rubbing his forehead.  "Okay, so what do you want to do?"

"I don't know."

Ryan looked at him.  "There's no good options, Delko."

"I know that," he said, starting to get pissed.

"Calm down.  Anyone who knows Xander should love him.  In your case too."  He sighed and glanced around to make sure no one was watching him.  "Who else knows?"

"Everyone's caught me thinking recently."

"By staring."

Eric nodded.  "I didn't realize I wanted more than to be his big brother.  That night H took him shopping opened up my eyes."

"You've tried to wear this out?" he asked.  Eric nodded, letting out a small sigh of discontentment.  "So what do you *want* to do?"

Eric looked at him.  "I don't know.  I don't want to hurt Xander.  I don't want to hurt either of you.  He deserves to be happy and giggling and walking funny."

"Which he is, but I'm not sure what's going on."  He uncrossed his arms.  "Can we work together?"

"We have been."

"True.  We have been," Ryan agreed, staring at him.  "How bad is it?"

"If these windows weren't glass and Xander wasn't an option, you'd be walking just as funny," he mumbled, looking down.  He looked up.  "I'm willing to brave my mother to take you home."

Ryan slumped and nodded.  "Then we've got a real problem.  I feel like that about Xander."  He rubbed his forehead again.  "I don't have a clue what I need to do here."  He looked at him.  "Do you feel comfortable and able to work with me?  You've seen other couples who ended up in bed together," he said at the opening mouth.

"Really overprotective and bitchy, yeah.  I don't think that'll be a problem.  H knows.  He's keeping an eye on us."

"Yeah, I got the 'hide it better if I want to stay in the closet' speech earlier," he admitted, shaking his head. "Apparently I'm a very hovering boyfriend.  Calleigh caught me."  He rubbed his forehead again.

"Not enough sleep?"

"Xander had a nightmare and I jumped, hit my head on his."  He looked at him.  "We'll figure it out but I want to keep H informed; he needs to know anyway since it's about his nephew."

"Good point.  I can agree to that and he can easily slap me if I start to hover."

"Would that be like lunch yesterday?"

"That was an accident," he said, grinning at him.  "I went out to get Speed lunch.  He wanted Sophie's."

"Which was up the street.  I can excuse that one as long as you're not stalking us."  Eric shook his head.  "Good.  Then let's sit down with H tonight then I'll talk to Xander later on."

"Xander might know."

"Xander does know.  He said he saw you checking his butt out."  Eric grinned a bit and nodded.  "I don't blame you in that outfit H bought him," Ryan said quietly.  "He looked good."  Someone walked past the door.  "I don't like her."

"Me either."  He patted him on the arm.  "Let me make sure H doesn't have plans."

"Sure."  He watched the woman walk past again.  "I'm really not liking her."

"We'll handle it."  He grinned.  "Like always."  He headed out, going to find Horatio.  He found him in the morgue.  "Can we have some time tonight?"

Horatio smiled at him and nodded. "Might be a good idea."

"Speed wanted Sophie's."

"Which was up the street."

"Who told you?"  He got given a look.  "Calleigh."  He got a smirk.  "Xander?"  He nodded.  "He knows?"

He patted Eric on the back.  "He's very confused.  We're still working on it.  We'll talk tonight."

"Thank you.  What about the new girl?  She's been lurking."

"I think she wants to hit on you."

Eric shook his head.  "I tried that, it didn't work, H."

"Then we'll talk, Eric."  He smiled.  "It'll be okay."

"Did you talk to Speed too?"  He got a head shake.  Eric moved closer.  "I'm serious enough to want to bring them home to Momma," he said quietly, looking at him.

Horatio smiled.  "Then we'll definitely have a long talk.  She'll scream."  He smiled at Alexx when she came back.  "How did our young lady die?"

"Baseball bat."  She stroked her patient's hair.  "Poor baby took a few to the ribs and the stomach.  Broken rib punctured a lung and her stomach, she bled out."

"I'll let you two talk."

Alexx grabbed him by the arm, making him look at him.  "If you hurt my grandbaby Xander, I will kick your hind end into the Everglades and you will *not* be found after I'm done chopping you up into gator food.  Am I clear?"

He nodded and grinned.  "I don't want to hurt him, Alexx."

She moaned.  "Oh, no.  A trio?"  He shrugged.  "Well, you'll work it out but remember, he is fragile.  He was dating girls like Cordelia and thinking it was a good thing."  Eric nodded and got free, going back to work.  She looked at Horatio.  "How is Xander taking this?"

"He's confused.  He likes Ryan quite a lot.  They're very close.  Then again, he's very close to Eric for other reasons."  He shrugged.  "We'll figure it out together."  He smiled.  "Anything else I should know?"

"Hmm, well, yes.  Baby girl here had a ring impression."  She handed over the pictures she had taken.  "That could help."

"I'll let Calleigh know.  Thanks, Alexx."  He walked off reading the chart she had handed him.  He also noted the new tech lurking in the halls.  "Problems?" he asked her.

"Trying to get something done and I can't find out who to ask."  She smiled at him and handed over a folder.  "I found that."

He looked at it then at her.  "I know.  We couldn't prove it."  He handed it back.  "We were told that wasn't enough to hang him."

"Whose case was it?"

"Speed's.  He'll be back tomorrow."  She nodded, going back to her lab.  He watched her walk off, then looked in the lab she had been staring in, leaning in.  "Dinner?"

"Dinner's good for me.  Xander said he'll be worn out from Speed acting like a big brother."   He grinned at him.  "You or me talking to him?"

"I think I will after we've talked."  He went up to his office, calling him.  "We're having brunch on Sunday, Xander.  Call me when you get up and are awake?"  He smiled.  "Yes, about that.  That's what we're trying to figure out.  Of course. I'm talking to them both tonight.  We'll talk to you afterward.  All right?"  He chuckled.  "If you want.  As long as it's not bankrupting you."  He sat up.  "Excuse me?"  He listened to him say something else.  "I didn't see that sort of deposit, Xander."  He opened his computer's search engine and typed in something, nodding.  "There it is.  Thank you for telling me that.  I will.  You be careful and make sure Speed eats lunch.  Alexx would worry."  He hung up.  He looked at the entry again then called an office he hated.  "I'm surprised you haven't been up here to pounce me over certain life insurance settlements."  He hummed at the answer.  "Good.  That was nice of him.  No, I will not answer that question, Rick."  He hung up.  "You do not need to know."


Speed looked up as someone sat down at their table.  "Stetler."

"Sergeant," Xander said respectfully.  "What's wrong?"

"I wanted to know where your stepmother is, Mr. Harris."

Xander stared at him.  "That's on a need-to-know basis because her life was threatened," he said simply.  "Uncle Horatio is handling it and I'm housesitting."

"Is that what they call it?" he said dryly, smirking at him.

"If you hurt Ryan I get to be mean and evil to you," Xander said quietly.  "I've had the *best* role models for that."  He stared him down.   "Now, my private life is private.  I may be Horatio's nephew.  I may be the son of a cop who got hooked on drugs while undercover.  That does not mean you can pry into my relationships with my uncle's friends, who have adopted me.  If you don't like it, I don't care.  I could care less.  If you hurt them over this I will retaliate and I will make this fucking department sorry.  Remember, Horatio can get a job anywhere and take his whole staff with him.  There's labs around the world that would beg to have him.  Willow told me he gets offers from Scotland Yard all the time.  As well as Interpol and a few nations that are starting to rebuild their labs.  Hurting those around him will piss him off and it will make *sure* I react."

"I'm not going to out them."

"It's not beneath you," Speed noted calmly.  "You have in the past."

"I'm more concerned that one of the other techs in the lab is having a problem with it," he said bluntly.

Xander took a sip of his water.  "The only problem he has with it is his perception of what we are to him.  Watching and listening to me figuring things out led to him having a few thoughts of his own.  They all know and are helping him with that."

"So he doesn't want you?"

"Actually, I think he wants someone else in the lab."  Speed smirked at him.  "Sorry."

"Not an issue.  All I know is that someone's confused."  He shrugged. "I'm secure in what I want in a lover."

Stetler sneered at him.  "I don't like you."

"It's a good thing I never wanted to bed you then, huh?" he retorted, glaring at him.  "Anything else?"

"He doesn't have emancipation paperwork yet."

"Yes I do," Xander told him. "It's before a judge this week."  He sipped his water again.  "Now, anything else?"

"Is she safe?"  Xander nodded.  "Horatio knows and she's safe?"

"She is.  That's why Ray Junior lives with him now."

"Thank you."  He got up and stomped off again.

"That is going to cause problems."

"No having him eaten," Speed said quietly.

"Shoot, take all my fun," he muttered. Speed snickered and nodded.  "Meany.  So, where to next?"

"What insurance settlement?"

"Mom signed up for a major insurance policy that was on an infomercial or something.  Half a million for ten bucks every hundred thousand or something."  He shrugged. "It came with a homicide clause.  She got it about three months before they died, too soon for my stepfather to have realized and made her cancel it.  They knew I didn't do it.  She got one on my stepfather too.  Plus the house, the cars, my crap, their stuff."  Speed nodded that he understood.  "It's a nice nestegg.  If I was going to go to college I'd love it."

"You can go to college."

"I suck at school."

"Fine.  I understand that," he admitted.  "You did good on your GED."  Xander grinned at that compliment.  "Really good.  Can you think about maybe taking some higher classes to help you on your job?"

Xander nodded.  "I'm planning on going through the union once I graduate, see what they can send me to so I can help myself."

"That's a good plan," he decided.  "Where is most of it?"

"In the bank.  It's under my name.  Not in my usual account but in my name.  I told the school that it was being put into a trust until I reached majority or my emancipation came through.  They said if it happened before school started I could cancel the financial aid.  If not, the financial aid would cover this semester and then I could take over next semester.  I've been pretty honest with them."

"Good.  I like that.  H knows?"

"Now.  He never went searching for it.  He saw the part I put into my normal account. Which is going to get a better package on her dish," he said with a small grin.  "Does, um, Eric like soccer?"

"He does," he agreed, smirking at him.  "You're thinking?"

"I'm considering what he's thinking.  I don't know."

"We'll all be helping you guys through this, Xander.  It's not going to be too hard."  Xander nodded and dug back into his lunch.  "Wanna hit the bookstore?"

"Does it have comics?"

"A few graphic novels."

"Then I can do that.  Tapes too?  She left the DVD player."

"Yup, it should."

"Cool."  He grinned.  "Thanks, Speed.  Uncle H and Calleigh both picked out fussy, adult people shirts.  I'm used to thrift store stuff.  I won't be dressing up on my job.  Though I wouldn't mind a Suit of Immortality."

"If you need one, someone's going to die."

"Point."  He snuck one of his buddy's fries.  "Does that mean I can come talk to you about this stuff?"

"Sure can.  I'm good with that."  Xander grinned and nodded, munching happily.  "Get the check?"  Xander pulled out his debit card and let the waitress take it.  "Graphic novels and what?"

"Food?  I need food."

"Food we can do.  Especially if you're going to start taking cooking classes."   They walked off, going to the bookstore in the mall.  Speed could find something there and Xander could find some DVD's that suited him, plus some graphic novels.  Then they went to get groceries and some hangers for the poor kid.  His closet was going to be really full.


Horatio sat down across from Xander the next morning, passing something over.  "The judge agreed you weren't the average seventeen-year-old boy, that you could take care of yourself, and that it was a strange situation but it was a reasonable request with what had happened."  Xander let out a small squeal and looked at it, signing at the point where his name was wanted.  "Thank you."  He folded it up and put it back into his pocket.  "Now, what are we going to do about Eric?"

"I don't know," he said quietly.  "Stetler threatened to out Ryan when I told him he didn't have a need to know about Yelina."

"That was the right answer to give him," he said with a smile.  "Do you perhaps like Eric?"

"The thought made me a happy boy last night but I'm not sure it's practical.  Those two drive each other nuts."

"That can be a sign of a happy relationship later," he admitted.  "They drive each other insane in that special way."

"The same way Speed does you?" he hinted.

"Indeed, but that's not my thing."  He looked at his nephew.  "You read people very well.  Thinking about joining the department?"

"With all the school I'd have to do?  And would I really pass the psych eval?"

"Probably not," he admitted.  He ate a bite of his eggs.  "You did a good job."

"Thank you.  Had to learn."

"You'll do very good in cooking class and you can show off what you know to us.  You know that, right?"

"I'm not going to abandon you because I've got the paperwork, Uncle H."  He got a smile.  "What am I going to do?  I'm being courted, kinda."

"I think the only two options anyone has seen is a threesome or Eric being very patient."

"Very patient.  I don't like to let go of what's mine."

"It's a family trait," he teased.  Xander grinned back.   "If they could work it out, would you mind?"  Xander shrugged.  "Are you willing to referee?"

"No.  If they start snapping at each other around me I'm going to spank."

Horatio snickered.  "I can see that.  I can definitely see that."  He reached over to stroke Xander's cheek. "It'll be okay, Xander.  We'll figure it out together."

"What did they figure out last night?"

"That part.  Either you'd have to agree to working it out with them, letting them go first and then bringing you in, or that Eric was going to have to be very patient."  He ate another bite, watching his nephew.  "We'll work on it, Xander.  What do you want?"

"To be loved."

"You definitely would be.  Eric is very caring," he pointed out.  "He's thinking thoughts about telling his mother."

"She doesn't like gay people.  She said mean things about that neat parade."


"Oh."  He ate a bite of toast and thought.  "Does he want Ryan or does he really want both of us?"

"I think he's decided he wants both of you but originally it was Ryan he wanted."

"But now?"

"Now, he's seen you and he's thought.  He's discovered you make him think those same dirty thoughts you got last night."  Xander grinned at that.  "It'll be perfect, Xander.  Whatever you two decide it'll work best for the both of you."  He stroked his cheek again.  "Now, eat.  You'll need energy to beat Ray Junior at that stupid race game again."  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Good boy."  He finished up his lunch and drove him over.  "Also a good job of laying low with the money."  Xander beamed at that.  "I do like that attitude."

"It's not like I'm used to it and I don't want to use it.  I might give some to Ray Junior to make sure he goes to college."

"I think we've already got that well in hand but if you want I'll let you add to it."  He watched the boys babble at each other about Ray Junior's new girlfriend and other stuff while they got out the game gear.  It was a happy weekend for him.


Ryan picked Xander up, taking him to his place for dinner.  "It's my turn to cook."  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Do you want to talk to Eric tonight or soon?"

"Best get it out of the way so we can figure out what's going on.  Because if you two fight like you do at work I'm spanking."

Ryan blushed.  "He might like that.  I'm not into spanking games but he definitely might be."  He pushed some of Xander's hair off his face.  "You need a trim."  He let him into the car and walked around to drive.  "What did you guys do today?"

"Talked about Ray's new girlfriend.  Played some games.  I let my character pounce his a few times to make him giggle.  His new girlfriend likes how he cuddles and kisses.  She makes brownies.  She's good so far."

"Good.  That's a good thing," he agreed.  He turned a corner, parking at the end of the street.  "Here we are."  Xander grinned and winked, getting out and strolling off.  Ryan groaned and called Eric.  "Dinner?" he suggested then hung up.  He followed the bewitching butt to his door, opening it and letting him inside.  "Take off your shoes.  The carpet's safe."  Xander did that and wiggled his bare toes.  "You don't wear socks?"

"Not unless I'm cold."  He shut the door and took a kiss.  "Quit fussing, Ryan.  Please?"

"Sure, I'll quit fussing for now," he agreed, leading him to the kitchen.  He washed their hands and then got to work on dinner.  Something simple, fast, and filling.  They'd need their energy for the talk coming up.  And for anything that might come later.


Eric wobbled into Horatio's office the next morning, flopping down on a chair. "Your nephew was infected by an incubus."

Horatio chuckled.  "I take it the talk went well?"

"Yup.  We only cuddled."  He put his head down.   "He's going to kill me, H.   Ryan agreed, Xander's like the energizer bunny and I'm going to be hopeless to stop him."

"Then maybe you two will gang up on him and make him calm down for a night," he offered patiently, still smirking at his coworker.  "You two have worked it out?"  Eric nodded.  "Including at work?"

"Nothing's going to get in the way of work, H.  I'm already overprotective of him."  He looked at him.  "He needs it, he's just a kid."  He stood up.  "I'm wiped."

"You're still on today, Eric, but you can start in the lab.  Take a nap for lunch."

"Thanks, man.  I ended up sleeping on the couch and heard them last night."  He walked out, going to get to work.

Horatio started to laugh once he was sure he was alone.  That was the sort of trouble Xander should have.  Not women who wanted to kill him for wearing ugly shirts.

He watched Ryan come in and noticed he was perky and hyper.  It was going to be an interesting relationship.  He saw Speed glare at Ryan for being hyper and had to snicker.  Yes, they'd work it out just fine and if not, Xander would definitely be spanking someone. He might even have fun doing it.


Ryan looked up as the detective sat down across from him, pausing his sandwich on the way to his mouth.  "Case?" he asked before taking his intended bite.


"About which case?" he asked, taking another bite.  He stared at him.  He knew the guy was SVU.  He knew why he was here, he was going to make him say it.

"About you actually."  He stared at him.  "I'm aware he has emancipation paperwork, *now*."

Ryan swallowed his present bite and put his sandwich down, taking a drink of his water and putting it down too, then clasping his hands and leaning on them.  "Xander has never been a normal child.  Yes, I know his age.  I helped him celebrate his last birthday.  I also held him when he had PTSD nightmares recently."  That got a harsh look.  "I'm sure you've done some checking on him."

"I have," he agreed quietly.  "Including his former town."  Ryan nodded at that.  "I'm not sure what makes him able to break that law."

"A few good reasons.  He was helping bring those statistics down.  He's been on his own since he was fifteen.  He was fighting in a very quiet little protection society since he was fifteen actually.   His parents were rabid drunks and he's always taken care of himself.  Anyone who knows him knows he's not that young emotionally or mentally.  It was not what I intended to happen when we became friends."  The detective continued to stare at him.  "You should talk to him."

"I have."  Ryan glared.  "You're very protective."

"I'm checking for bruises."

"I backed off when he started to have violent urges.  Why is he living in Detective Salas's house?"

"He's the son Ray Caine had when he was sixteen."  The detective looked stunned.  "When his parents died his friends found Horatio and told him.  That's why he's here with us."  He leaned closer.  "Xander is the best thing that has ever happened to me, Detective.  He's a treasure I'm going to worship for as long as I have the right to."

"What about the other one?"

"That's a more recent thing and something we're working out between us.  He's known all along and he's had the biggest say of all of us.  His uncle is very protective of him."

"I'm sure he is.  He knows?"

"He knew before I did.  He talked to him, I talked to him when I got confused.  We all talked to him.  He's been keeping an eye on the whole situation.  I do know that the issue you asked about feels the same way I do about the both of us.  I would appreciate this not being put around either.  By the way, who talked to you?"

"Don't ask, I can't tell you."

"You can, you won't," Ryan corrected.  "And if this hurts him, I'm going to kill someone."

The detective looked at him again, then nodded. "I said the same thing about my wife once.  You're right, he's not the normal seventeen-year-old.  You're being very mature and so is he.  I also know if you were going to hurt him, Caine would've had you killed by now."  He gave him a look.  "Before you ask, I'm going to him next to let him know that I talked to his nephew."  Ryan nodded his thanks.  "I'm going to lay off it this time but if I *ever* hear about something like this happening again..."

"You can beat my ass to death," Ryan assured him.  "Anyone else know?"

"No.  No one else.  I don't care where you put it as long as it's legal, Wolfe."

"Thank you."

"Not an issue."  He stood up.  "Finish up, lunch never lasts long enough."  He walked off, finding Horatio in the hallway reading a folder while he walked.  "Lieutenant.  May we speak?"

Horatio stared at him for a moment.  "In my office or would you prefer somewhere more formal?"

"Your office is fine.  It's about a tip I got that you should hear."

"Then I'll be right up there."  He pointed.  "That one."  He walked up that way, then looked around, caching Eric's eye, getting a glare back.  He gave him a 'calm down, let me handle it' look and got a nod, but Eric was still gripping the edge of the table very tightly.  He walked up there once he had his other report, shutting the door.  "Who told you what about my elder nephew?" he asked bluntly.

"I can't tell you who."

"You can and you will because Xander has promised vengeance if it was Rick Stetler and I'll need to keep him calm.  My nephew has a combat history."

"I saw.  I went to talk to him first.  That's what I usually do," he said at the look he got.  "You know protocol."

"I do."  He moved a bit closer, tipping his head to the side.  "And you discovered?"

"That your nephew was more adult than a lot of people who have full-grown kids.   You know what I found, Lieutenant.  I also talked with Wolfe.  It was promising that he said your nephew was his treasure."  Horatio smiled at that.  "And that the other one I got told about was feeling the same way about both of them but they were taking it slowly."  That got a smirk and a nod.  "By the way, my source wasn't male."

"Interesting.  From the lab?"  He got a look.  "I see.  Thank you.  Anything else I should worry about?"

"If she spreads it around, there's going to be a few problems.  You know how the department can be to gay officers."

"Indeed I do.  Thank you."

"Welcome.  I'm not going to do anything but watch to make sure it's not going to happen in the future."

"It probably won't.  One of them has a mediumly severe case of OCD.  He's found it difficult to date at all."

"Even better.  I wanted to let you know what I found before you killed me," he said honestly.

"I appreciate that and hearing if anyone else says such things?"

"If I can."

"Thank you."  He held out a hand and got it shaken.  "Have a good and easy shift."

"You too."  He smiled and walked off, heading back to his desk to make notes in his personal and private journal.  That was not going to get out.

Horatio went to talk to Ryan since it was time for him to be back.  As usual he was back a few minutes early.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm going to kill Stetler."

"That would be nice but he told me it wasn't a male who made the tip."

Ryan called Xander.  "It's me.  Stetler didn't make the tip," he said quietly.  He sighed and smiled.  "Thank you."  He hung up.  "He won't go stab him."

"That's probably a good thing.  I'll help him wear it out later."  Speed walked in and slammed the door, making them both flinch at the cracking sound of glass.  "Speed."

"Tough shit.  SVU was here?"

Ryan looked around Horatio.  "Someone called in a tip.  A female someone."

"Oh, really."  He moved closer.  "No wonder Eric's about to go spastic."  He texted him that and Eric stomped in.  "Calm down."

"How can I be calm!"

Ryan cleared his throat but Horatio spoke.  "He talked to Xander first and he agreed, Xander's not the typical boy for his age.  He's very adult and more than capable of making his own decisions.  He came to warn us."  Eric turned and hit the same panel Speed had cracked.  "Boys, if you keep that up, you'll have to pay to repair it," Horatio warned.

"Xander could probably help.  Eric, it was a female someone."

"It's not Calleigh, Alexx, or Valera.  She likes Xander too."  Eric started to pace but Ryan got in his way, giving him a look.  "Who would've done that?"

"Anyone who saw us out?  He didn't say it came from inside the department."

"No, he got silent when I asked if it was someone from the lab," Horatio noted.  "It was someone from here."  He looked around.  "There's not that many females and we will be subtle, boys."

"Subtle my ass," Speed said dryly.  He walked out into the hall.  "Calleigh, Valera, may I have a word?" he yelled.  They came out giving him strange looks.  "Ladies, someone sent a tip about Xander to SVU," he said very quietly.  "He's cool with them.  All we know is that he refused to say if they were in the lab or not and it was female."

"I'll kill whoever tries to hurt that boy," Valera vowed, stomping off.

Calleigh looked at her back.  "I'm going to get her some tea and some chocolate, but I'll gladly help.  He okay?"

"Fine.  They're all in a snit."

"Oooh, someone's going to die," she said, walking off.   She did indeed get her some tea and  some chocolate.  There were only five women in the lab between both shifts because they and Alexx would never hurt Xander.  Alexx would be helping them hunt someone.

Speed walked off smirking, calling Xander himself.  "Calm down, let us handle it.  We're finding out who and Valera's pulling an Alexx.  No, Calleigh's getting her chocolate.  Sure, we can come out for dinner and bring Ray too."  He hung up.  "H, your elder nephew said he wants help fixing dinner, including his brother."

"Sure.  We can do that."  He called Ray.  "Xander would like to have a family dinner.  Are you free?"  He smiled.  "Then you tell him that.  No, minorly bad day."  He chuckled.  "I don't mind but I will be meeting this girl very soon, Raymond.  Thank you, nephew."  He hung up.  "He has a date."

"Hopefully not with someone like his brother would've picked up before," Ryan joked.

"I can only hope so," Horatio agreed, walking off.  He could hear Valera interrogating the female tech who worked in fingerprints.  He almost smiled.  It was very heartwarming how everyone in the lab had taken in his very strange nephew like their own son.


Alexx heard and stormed up to face down Ryan.  "Someone said what!" she demanded.

He held up a hand.  "That I was seeing a seventeen-year-old person."

"Uh-huh."  She put her hands on her hips.  "Are we in trouble?"   He shook his head.  "Why not?"

He smiled.  "Because it's Xander."

She smiled back.  "That's a good answer to a lot of questions.  Are you working on the other problem?"  He nodded.  "Good."  She kissed him on the cheek and handed over an envelope.  "I needed an excuse.  That's a hair I found in a body's ear."  She walked off again.  Someone was going to die.  She wanted a head's up so she'd know how much to fake the tears when they found them.


The family walked in and found Xander sharpening a sword.  "Nephew," Horatio said, smiling a bit.  "Valera found out who it was and reamed her good.  You don't have to kill her."

"It's new and it needed sharpening," he said, swinging it up.  "See, pretty."

"Very pretty," Speed agreed, taking it to hold.  "Heavy too."

"Not really."  Xander stood up and took it back, putting it in the corner. "I've had worse in my hands.  Giles used to have this really bent one that I ended up with because I was the last to get a weapon.  Ooh, and I got the handgun fixed too, Uncle H."  He went into the kitchen.  "I put steaks in the oven.  They're nearly done.  Someone come set the table and pick out veggies to open."

Speed came to do that, smiling at how easy Xander was in there.  It was very easy to work with him.

Ryan walked in and smiled, helping by setting the table.  "No poaching, Speed."

"I like Xander as a friend."  Eric walked in and gave Xander a hug from behind, getting a smile.  "You two look cute together.  How do you and Wolfe look?"

"Cuter and they're noisy," Eric teased.  Xander blushed.  "There were three choruses of 'I'm sore, Ryan'," he mimicked, grinning at them.

Xander turned around in his arms, giving him a real kiss.  "You'll be saying the same thing, Eric.  Don't worry, we'll make sure you make it to work now and then."  He grinned.  "And if you pick on me I will spank.  Last warning.  I'm over my bad girl phase."

"I'm not a girl."

"If you turn into Cordy I'll have Willow turn you into one."

Eric smiled.  "I won't."  He gave him a real kiss and Ryan coughed, letting them both give him one.  "There, yours too, jealous."  Xander spanked him, making him yelp.  "I'm being good."

"Don't worry about him picking on me, Xander," Ryan said, stealing a kiss from him and making him moan.  He grinned at Eric.  "It takes practice and gentleness to get the *good* sounds from him."

"I do not need that information," Horatio noted.  He came in to help with the cooking.  "What do we know about Ray's new girlfriend?"

"She's half Asian and half Cuban," Xander told him. "I don't which side is which or where her other parent comes from.  They were both immigrants and met at the INS office during a meeting for their citizenship classes.  She's in the grade above him.  She's very nice.  Doesn't swear.  Swatted him for swearing.  She's a science geek.  She's a lot like Speed, only nice and sweet and puts out very well from what I understand."

"Hmm.  Sounds like we should have her over for dinner some night soon," Horatio said, smiling at him.  "Steaks?"

"Speed went grocery shopping with me."  He let him see, getting a hum of appreciation.  "If anyone wants something other than medium, speak now for rare."  Eric took his and sat down and the others grabbed theirs when the thermometers said they were the right stage of doneness for them.  "Did Valera get the chocolates?" Xander asked.  Everyone smiled and nodded.  "Good."  He cut and ate a bite, smiling at his boys. And they would be his boys.  Even if they did make him their bitch now and then.  Not that he'd mind, because Ryan made it *very* fun when he flipped him over.  He saw people looking at him.  "What?  Was I thinking out loud?"  Eric grinned and nodded. "Oops.  Sorry."

"We'll talk later, dear," Ryan promised, patting him on the hand.  "Eat more to restore sanity and energy so we can do that to you."  Xander blushed but stuffed his mouth.  "Good idea."

"Very.  Much more than I wanted to know about your sexual habits," Horatio said, stuffing his own mouth.  It was promising but he still didn't need details.  Someone knocked on the door so he looked out the window.  "That is Rick Stetler."

Xander grabbed his new sword on his way to the door.  "Yes?"

"Is that a sword?"  Xander beamed and held it up for his inspection.  "Is that legal to own?"  Xander nodded, still smirking.  "Fine.  I have something of Yelina's that I packed accidentally.  I wanted to know if you'd send it to her."

"Sure, we can do that."  He took the small box.  "We're having dinner with most of the family."

"I heard about the talk you had today.  I didn't turn you in."  Xander gave him a hug.  "Get off!"  He stomped off mumbling.

Xander walked in and Ryan drug him to the bathroom to make him shower while Horatio took the package to have it mailed.  Speed patted Eric on the back.  "Go help."  Eric grinned and went to help detoxify Xander.  "It will not be boring down here," he said dryly, eating another bite.  "H, your nephew is a nibbling person who kept snatching my fries while we shopped."

"I'm he was just hungry, Speed.  He's done it to me a few times too."  He ate another bite.  "Boys, it is dinner time."  They came out with Xander in a pair of sweatshorts and a t- shirt, which made him stare.  "Speed!"

"What?  He's a teenager, not you.  He doesn't need to dress up all the time.  Besides, he looks cute in them and they suit him.  Not like he's going to be wearing the bulletproof suit you do."

"He'd better not need one," Ryan said firmly.

"I'm sure I won't," Xander said, giving him a kiss.  "Eat or no cake."  Ryan smiled and fed him a bite before eating his own.  Eric did the same. Xander grinned and accepted it.  It was nice to be loved.




Xander got the call he dreaded and called his uncle.  "I'm off.  Willow called, Uncle H.  Yeah, I'll be back soon and I promise to be careful."  He hung up and went to talk to the teacher.  "I got the call I was expecting to go help," he said quietly.  That got a nod.  "That means I'll miss the last few days."

"You're good on days, Xander.  Even with the mixup where you signed into the other classroom instead of here it's fine.  Be safe."

Xander nodded, heading out to his car.  The auto shop class had fixed it so it ran very well and had even repainted it for him cheaply.  He loved those guys.  He headed to the airport, frowning as he thought.  Something was very wrong.  He knew they needed help and they were too stupid or stubborn to ask, depending on who didn't call.  He booked himself a seat and went to the gate to wait on the flight to be called.  He was going to be tired soon so he'd nap on the plane.


Horatio hung up with a muttered swear, looking around.  "Eric, Xander just got the call from his former residence."

Eric looked at him.  "You're joking," he said flatly.  Horatio shook his head.  "We're letting him go alone?"

"Are you?"

"Can we con some of the SWAT guys to go with him?" Calleigh asked.  She and Eric were working this scene today.

"I wish."  He made another call.  "Ray, it's me.  Xander's not going to be over tonight.  Sunnydale called," he said quietly.  "Exactly.  I'll be home. We'll start monitoring the news then."  He hung up and stomped off, going back to the office.

Eric called Ryan.  "It's me.  He's off."   He smiled.  "No, those extra days were because he signed into the other classroom.  Yeah, it's where they made him take the six months of construction stuff first, Ryan.  That's already been cleared up.  I'm sure his teacher knows.  Sure."  He hung up.  "We're going to H's tonight to watch the news with him."

"He won't land before tonight," she pointed out.

"Their graduation is Saturday.  He said that's when it's happening."

"It's Thursday.  That's cutting it a bit close," she complained.

"That's what we thought."  He gave her a look and nodded.  "Stupid and stubborn bastards.  Every last one."

"And a blonde yappy thing, don't forget her," she said dryly, making him smile and nod.  "I know you two went back for two days over the holidays.  How did you like it?"

"We had to save Ryan twice.  Someone kept trying to eat him."  He got back to work, thinking about what they could be doing to help.  Maybe some of his hidden weapons?  No, Horatio would kill them if he found out Xander was making weapons travel across the country.  They'd figure it out and pray a lot until he got back.


Xander walked into the library, looking at Giles.  "Okay, you called?"

"No," he said, blinking at him.  "Why are you back here?"

"Because someone called.  Duh!"  He stared him down.  "Did you try to plan anything?"

"We've got an FBI agent in town, Xander."

"Yay me."  He came over to look at the plans, then whimpered.  "Won't work," he sighed.  He looked at Giles.  "Unless you want the families to be a buffet?"  Giles went pale.  "Is he bringing in troops?"  He shook his head.  "I need to see him if he made these plans."

"I'll...I'll get him here," he said, hurrying to the phone.

Xander looked at the plans, glancing up when someone came in. "Hi, Buffy."

"No boytoys?" she said, looking around.

"No, couldn't stop to get them from work.  Sorry.  Otherwise I would've brought Uncle Horatio.  He's better in a battle."  She giggled.  He looked at her.  "Has it escaped your notice that there's going to be about a hundred extra spectators there to get eaten?"  She went pale and wobbled.  "Exactly.  You're too far away to work as a distraction.  He'll be hungry and you're only a nibble."  He went back to it, popping in a piece of gum.  "Crap, this is not going to work," he muttered.  He straightened up when Angel and someone else walked in.  "You vamped him?" he asked Angel.

"No, we were talking.  What's the problem?"

"Spectators to graduation."

The man and vampire both groaned and hit themselves on the head.  "We only expected the students," the agent agreed.  "Okay, what can you do?"

"It's killed how?"

"Has to have it's head cut off," Buffy said.  "It's going to have about a ten foot thick neck."

Xander paced around, looking at the old library then at her. "Let's do it this way," he ordered, coming over to flip the plans and make his own notes.  The agent came over to help.  "Who's on graduation committee, Buffy?"

"Um, Cordy is."

"Get Her Skankiness here."  She nodded, going to fetch her and Willow, plus Oz.  He looked at the agent, smirking.  "Xander Harris, nephew of Horatio Caine."

"Shit," he said blandly, shaking his hand.  "Philip Taylor, FBI.  We heard what was going on and came out to see what we could do to mitigate the disaster in the making."

"So, this is their version of Alaska for you?"

"Basically," he agreed with a small smile.  "I didn't know he had more than one nephew."

"I'm Ray's big brother.  Dad had an oops moment when he was sixteen.  Came as a shock to Uncle H too."  He went back to it.  The ladies walked in and he waved a hand.  "Cordy, can we shift the ceremony any?"

"Nope.  He wanted it in the courtyard."

He looked at her, noticing how pissed she looked. "Oh, whine, bitch'o'mine.  Can we shift them around?  Face the school instead?"  She nodded.  "That'll give us a bit more cover.  C'mere."

"Why should I?"

He looked at her again.  "Do you want to survive this time and make it to the hotty college guys?"

"Aren't you dating two?" she sneered.

"Yes, and the sex is fantastic.  I'm lucky I'm not wobbling with the pre-school sex this morning," he shot back.  "Long flight too.  I had no idea I had that many octaves to my voice."  She went pale.  "You done?"  She nodded.  "Good, come here."  She trudged over.  "Spectators are where?  Sketch out the plans unless you have them nearby."  She sketched out their design.  "Okay.  Have him facing the school.  It seems counter-intuitive but it'll work better because we can use these bushes to break the path for running people."  She nodded, making notes of that.  "Also, can you give us more room?  Add a few extra feet between the students and the podium, and then the students and their parents?"  She nodded at that.  "Excellent.  Now, can we set up a diversion using some of the other students?"  Everyone stared at him.  "People, they won't want their families to die either.  So let's get them to hold a line.  If anything they can probably hold torches or crossbows."  That got a nod and she went to talk to the jocks she hung out with.  "Buffy."  She came over with Willow.  "Okay, if we're evacuating we'll use these lanes."

"It's going to be an eclipse, he's going to have vampires from what we've heard," Angel told him.

"Have fun with that," Xander said, waving a hand at him.  "Spike's in Miami, still, and sulking.  Call him back to see if he'll help.  He misses all the carnage.  He's one of ten vampires in Miami at the moment and he's seriously bored."  He pulled out his phone to call him.  "It's me.  Yes I know what time it is.  Because there's an ascension and we could use some good carnage causing on the other demons coming.  You'd have to work with Angel in the same general area, Spike."  He smirked.  "Then get here.  Grad's Saturday afternoon, it'll be an eclipse."  He hung up.  "He'll be back and he'll work in the same general area but he won't take orders.  By the way, yes he has met and likes my boyfriends.  Considers Ryan cute and Eric loud."  He bent back over the plan, tapping something.  "I'll need the diversion to hold the way out," he told Buffy.  She nodded.  "Willow, anything you can do?"


"Then I want you to do that."  He frowned at them.  Then at Giles.  "Any other method of killing besides beheading?"  He shook his head.  "How were you planning it?"

"Getting everyone away and getting it while it was sleeping."

"It won't sleep for days, Giles."  He humphed and stomped off.  "I did my own research.  We do know he's going to use this as a base to take over the US at the very least?  If he hits LA or San Francisco we're all toast."  That got a look and a nod.  "So, how do we kill it?"

"I don't know yet."

Xander looked at the agent.  "What sort of leeway for destruction do you have?"

"Anything reasonable.  No calling something bigger to eat him."

"Not an issue."  He looked around then back at him.  "Okay.  We need to form a guillotine.  Something to cut him when he passes under it.  That means a lot of work Friday."

"Or we could blow him," Buffy suggested.  "That's what we were going to do."

He smiled at her.  "We could.  That would mean destroying the entire school."  She shrugged.  "Okay.  Then we've got to clean it."

She smiled at Willow.  Then at Angel.  "Go get minions, grab and make an invasion force.  They're moving the books first."  He nodded, going to do that.  She grinned at him.  "Fire pretty."

"Fire very pretty.  You should see Everglade fires.  It's even worse than forest fires out here."  He gave her a hug.  "We'll handle it.  Faith?"

"Bad guy."

Xander grimaced.  "Pity.  We could use another really good fighter."  He tapped his fingers a few times.  "I need to get into my secondary storage area."

"You have one?" Willow asked.

"Not like I was going to put the spare grenade launcher under my couch.  People would find it."  She gaped in horror.  He grinned and shrugged.  "I thought it'd come in handy.  Sue me, I'm practical."  He looked at the agent.  "Are you going to arrest my ass?"

"Hell no," he snorted.

"Good.  Then let's go.  I'm assuming you drove?"  He nodded.  "Follow me then and expect to get a bit dirty."  He headed out to his car, going to his secondary bolthole.  No one had known about this one.  He found it still sealed magically and opened it, looking around inside.  He smiled at the vampire pouting at him.  "Hi.  Did you touch anything?"

"I'm a pacifist.  I'm hiding and keeping others from using it."

"Yippee.  Something bigger and badder is going to come out and eat everyone to take over the world on Saturday."  The vampire whimpered.  "If you want to help us protect, find Angel.  If not, hit LA and spread the warning that there's an ascension."  She nodded, pouting but she left them alone.  He flipped on the lights and looked up, canceling the other spell.  It took the illusion off the weapons crates, making them reappear from the furniture he had been hiding them as.  "Tada!"  He looked around, finding what he wanted.  "This is the one I'll wear," he muttered.  They looked at the other stuff.  Then he called Willow. "It's me.  Ask Giles if he knows how to make explosives?  Research from books.  Okay, we can use what I have here."  He hung up and looked at him.  "What sort of yield do we need?  I'm not up to date on that."  He called Horatio.  "It's me.  Good news, I'll be mostly safe, but I may have to make the demon go ouch by making something fall on him.  Should I overplan the bang or not?  Yes, I'm talking about cakes," he said grimly.  "Not an issue?"  He shrugged.  "I've got about a hundred pounds of semt...  Yeah, that stuff."  He grinned.  "That'll work.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "He said to use it all and spread it around so it traps it."

"Might help."  He looked around then at him.  "I'm going to need to confiscate it."

"Must you?" he begged, looking his cutest.  "Please?  Uncle H knows I like weapons."

"Yeah, I do."

"Can I ship some to my stepmother in Brazil?"

"I can't cover for that, kid."  The door opened and someone came in.  "Who're you?"

"Sperm donor.  Know anything about bombs?"

"A very tiny bit.  Why?"

"Gotta separate a ten foot thick neck from a body."

"Use it all."  He looked around then at his son.  "You're insane and shouldn't be here."

"Shut up."  He helped lug things out to the cars, letting him have everything but a few of the handguns and bullets.  "Cold iron and wood," he said, patting a crate.  "Some horror movie buff does them.  You can order them online."  He got a strange look from both adults and smirked.  "What?"  He locked the door again, sealing it with the magic lock as well.  Then they drove back to the Watcher's house.  "Okay," he said, walking inside since he was there.  "We good?"

"We can move the books by magic for the most part," Willow told him.  "We'll do that tomorrow as a way to put things into summer storage since Giles is going to be in Britain supposedly."  That got a nod.  "We'll have minions that night."

"Works for me," Xander agreed.  "The committee?" he asked Cordy.

"Agreed that him facing into the sun was better than us doing it," she agreed, smirking at him. "What weapons?"

"None of your business."  He looked at Giles.  "He confiscated the other big stuff for your later needs."

"Thank you," he told the agent.

"Not a problem."  He looked at Xander.  "Want to talk to Faith?"

"No thanks.  Last time I did I nearly died.  Not into sex while being choked.  That time was more than enough."  Angel went pale.  "Was kinda obvious.  She kept my boxers, Deadboy."  He clapped his hands.  "Okay, I'm going to the Knight's Inn.  I'll be back like every happily celebrating person tomorrow afternoon at the end of school.   Do we need tickets?"  Cordy handed over one.  "Two."  She sighed and handed over another.  "Thanks."  He grinned.  "Anything else?"

"What do you want them to do?"

"Distract.  Crossbows, torches?  Pull a villager's moment."  He shrugged.  "It's only a distraction to evacuate the people then they can run."  She nodded, going to start the calling circle.  He looked at his ladies.  "So, how's Sunnydale beyond this?"  They both smirked at him.  "I have the feeling that someone family is going to show up," he noted dryly.  "At the very least he can run with the others."

"Horatio wouldn't run," the agent noted.   Xander gave him the patented Caine 'you're an idiot' look and he wilted.  "Never mind. You think he's staying?"

"Probably."  He looked at them.  "Okay, anything else?"  They shook their heads.  "We sure?"  They nodded.  "Then I'm going to go to the motel.  Come see me if you want to catch up or anything."  He left, going to his chosen motel for the night.  His father knocked a few hours later, so he let him in.  "What?"

"You can't be here, Xander.  Horatio would die if you did."

"That was my life for over two years.  What makes you think I can't handle it."  Ray blinked at him and he smirked and nodded.  "Yeah, me.  Sorry.  That's my combat history.  What made Stetler respect me and send me to a shrink for six weeks."  He let him inside and closed the door behind him. "Actually, I just planned the cook-off.   It'll go well and more will survive to the final round."

He shuddered.  "I don't like you being there, son."

"You'd rather have Ray Junior here?"

"No, I'd rather have both of my sons safely out of harm's way in Brazil with me," he said coolly.

"Kinda hard to do.  Ray's doing well in school."  He shrugged.  "He and his mom talked.  He still wants to gut you and play in your intestines for how you left that way."  His phone rang and he smiled.  "Sorry, pookies."  He called.  "I'm still alive," he answered, grinning at the 'you had better be'.  "Hi, Uncle H.  Did you request long-distance backup?"  He smirked and nodded, holding out the phone.  "Here.  Big brother person."  He sat down, finding the porn he wanted for the next few hours.  "Hey, this guy almost looks like Eric.  Though he's with a guy who kinda looks like Speed."

Ray looked at him.  "Horatio said he didn't want to hear that and to change the channel, son."

"You haven't earned that right yet."  He glared at him and he backed off but Xander did turn it down, laying down to enjoy it.  He was always searching for more tips on how to play with his boys.  "Tell him I'll cut the grass when I get back.  Probably Monday after school."  He went back to watching.

Ray walked out into the hallway.  "Horatio, can I ship him back to you drugged?  I don't want him here," he said quietly.  "Yeah, I'm sure.  They were talking *cakes* and things, Horatio. He said this was his past.  You got him to see someone for his PTSD?"  He listened to how Rick Stetler had made him go when everyone started to worry about his nightmares picking up.  "Why does he like him?"  He blanched.  "Really?  Huh.  Eww."  He shuddered and shook his head.  "Whatever.  Can I drug him and ship him back?"  He smirked. "Please?"  He looked at the room then sighed and nodded.  "Okay. I understand that.   From what I overheard, yeah.  He's got the plan going.  Thank you.  If you want.  The more the merrier.  Saturday afternoon."

Xander opened the door and snatched the phone.  "No, you're not coming.  You could die.  Your Suit of Immortality is bulletproof, not claw and demon goo proof."  He hung up on his reminder that the same could be said of him.  He looked at his old man.  "This is the only safe motel close to Sunnydale.  The other is a brothel.  Even if you don't pay for those services."  That got a nod and Ray went to find a room for the next few days.  Xander went back to his porn, thinking hard about what needed to be done.  When it ended he went to Giles' house, finding it in flames.  "Huh.  Hope the agent got most everything out."  Someone tapped him on the shoulder so he looked at Angel.  "They safe and everything else?"

"Mostly," he admitted.  "The Mayor has them."

"Charming."  He walked off.  "C'mon if you're coming, Deadboy."  He went back to his storage area, breaking into one crate.  He came out with the egg and walked off, resealing the door.  He saw the horrified look.  "I found it two months after I met Buffy.  I've always used it.  That and healing stuff."  They walked to the mayor's work area, him putting the egg down and shooting at the shell.  It rumbled then cracked, making everyone staring smirk.  Xander casually walked away, getting behind something.  "Deadboy?  Heel!  Now!" he called as he walked.  Angel saw and blinked, then dove for cover as the firebird came out shrieking and burning all the upright beings in sight.  It dove up and shrieked again, burning the building so it could escape.  Xander came out, dusting himself and his hair off.  "Cool, huh?" he said with a grin for the mayor.  "You're pissing me off.  I had to come from fucking Miami to deal with you."  He walked closer, seeing his fear.  He sneezed.  "Sorry, airplane air with a bunch of people who had the flu."  He turned green and put on a surgical mask, running away.  He looked at the others.  They were lightly singed.  "Hi."  He waved and grinned.  "Are the ropes still there?"  He came over to get Buffy undone.  "There you go.  Get the others.  Good thing I decided to investigate."

"They have the weapons," the agent said finally.

"Both cars are sitting outside.  He headed to the old condos I used to live in.   If not, I'm sure someone can go to LA and get us plenty from the racist movement."  He shrugged.  "Don't you think so, dad?"  Willow flinched and looked around until Ray came out of hiding.  "Liked the pretty pet?  I wanted one but it's much too big and a pain in the ass to cage."  He walked off shaking his head.  "I'm going to watch more porn so I have an idea what to do to my boyfriends when I get back."

Ray finished getting everyone free.  "Did you guys warp him or did Miami?" he asked finally.

"Miami," Buffy and Willow told him.

Faith and Cordelia both snorted.  "He was already warped up here," Faith assured him.  "Boytoy's got a boyfriend?"

"No, he's got two," Willow said grimly.  "He's got a Ryan and an Eric.  Eric is a Cuban hottie and Ryan's a geek with OCD."  She looked at her.  "Why are you here?"

"He said I could have B for some fun."

"Fat chance," Buffy sneered.

The agent held up a hand and pulled out his cuffs, cuffing her.  "There, now it's not a problem.  We should adjourn somewhere.  Rupert, did I see right?  Did he light your place on fire?"  He nodded.

"There wasn't a firecrew around," Ray said.  "I'm sorry."

Giles smiled and patted him on the shoulder.  "They won't come out after dark.  Never have, never will.  It's too dangerous."  That got a small moan.  "I kept everything of importance in another location for safety reasons."  He smiled. "You're Xander's father?"  Ray moaned and nodded.  "Ah, you two still haven't worked things out?"

"I'm hiding for my own safety.  He's warping my son."

Cordelia glared at him.  "Next time, figure out what a condom is, before you make more little Xander's."  She stomped off in a snit.

"He's at the Knight's Inn, girl."  He looked at Giles.  "What's her issue?"

"Xander dumped her."

"Ah.  That's Cordelia?"  They all nodded.  "My son has much better taste now.  At least Eric's cute."  He walked off shaking his head, going to talk to Willow.  He had heard about her from Yelina and his son.  It was time they got to know each other as well.


Xander was marched into Horatio's house by his father, handed over in cuffs.  "Asshole, let me go!" he demanded.

"My son is an idiot who jumps into things, Horatio.  Cure him.  He took on the demon to taunt it so someone else could get out of the way.  He nearly got eaten."  He undid his cuffs and walked into the back yard shaking his head.

Horatio looked at his nephew.  "It's fixed?"

"Easy squeezy fixed," he said cheerfully.  "With my plan no less."  He gave him a hug.  "I'm fine.  I got Cordelia out of he way by taunting His Germiness.  It was the only seventy foot germphobic demon ever created or made."  He handed over a tape.  "Graduation."  He grinned and looked around.  "They're not here?"

"They're at home putting up the restraints," Horatio told him, patting him on the shoulder.  "I don't like you missing school, Xander, but it was for a good cause."

"A lot of the earlier ones were where I had to do a six month stint in the construction class to be eligible and I signed in over there instead of with him.  We got that straightened out, Uncle H.  I swear we did.  I've only missed three days plus these last few.  The teacher knew.  He said he wouldn't count it."

"Good.  What did you tell him?"

"The truth.  My friends would need me to help with graduation."  He shrugged.  "That there was going to be an attempt on a friend's life, something about an inheritance was what I told him.  He knew it was reasonable so he let me go."

"Fine.  Now, about you jumping in?"

"I had to!  She was frozen and about to be eaten.  I didn't like the mayor but I didn't want to give him indigestion."  Horatio snickered at that, giving him a hug.  "I'm fine.  Only a bit singed from the explosion.  I made it a bit strong."  He gave him a squeeze.  "I'm going to go pounce my boys.  Am I off tomorrow?"  Horatio nodded.  "Then we'll have dinner and talk?"

"I'm off all day so we can talk, Xander."  Xander gave him a genuine smile and nodded, heading back to his place.  Horatio sat down to watch the tape, waving Ray Senior back inside.  "Ray Junior went to bed early."

"He's in there chatting on his laptop with someone."

"Probably Willow," he decided, sliding in the tape.  They sat down to watch it, him nodding at his nephew's planning skills.  "He did good planning it."  Ray growled.  "I know it was dangerous but it was necessary."  Ray Junior came out, tipping his head to the side.  "How's Willow?"

"I was chatting with Buffy.  She said Xander was an asshole and took charge over an FBI agent they've had bothering them recently."  He shuddered and walked off shaking his head.  "I've seen less gross gore flicks."  He got a soda and went back to his room. "Before you ask, I'm ignoring the ghost."  He slammed his door.

"His mother gave him better manners.  Maybe he should come to Brazil with us."

Ray walked out and looked at him, shaking his head.  "Mom said I could disrespect you all I wanted since she thinks you're sleeping around on her or getting high again."  He smirked meanly.  "Plus, Rio has a very high demon population so I'd be forced to turn into my big brother if I did come down."  Ray Senior glared again.  "I would.  I know how to use a sword and I'm sure he'll teach me how to stake vampires to protect Mom."  He looked at Horatio.  "Otherwise we'll only have to worry about my eventual children turning into my big brother.  That's beside the fact that the asshole drug dealers who want Uncle H dead and out of the way are firmly centered down there."  He went to get something to nibble and went back to his room, slamming the door again.

"Both my sons need a swift kick," Ray complained.

Horatio smiled at him.  "Thankfully I'll never have to find out what mine would be like."  Ray growled and got up, stomping outside, slamming the porch door on the way.   "I didn't know being a drama queen was genetic," he muttered.  "Good thing I got the good genes."


Eric and Ryan both looked up when they heard the car pull in, getting up to wait on either side of the door.  Xander walked in and they pounced, leading him to the bedroom, where they kindly stripped him, tied him down, and stared at him.  "Hi, guys.  I missed you," he said with a happy smile.

"You're in so deep," Ryan promised, leaning down to look at him.  "Nothing but bruises."

"I made the explosion a bit too strong."  He smiled at Eric, who shook his head.

"Not getting you out of trouble," Eric assured him.  "We're going to make sure you don't run off ever again."

"Cool," Xander said with a manic grin.  "Because if I have to go back there I'm going to do more than make the school explode."

"What happened?"

"More Cordy stuff.  But hey, my father decided to show up."  They both groaned.  "He got to meet Cordy and the others.  He ended up threatening Willow and she vowed to find a vamp in Rio to sic on him, but oh well.  I sent Yelina an email."

Ryan leaned down to kiss him.  "Shut up, Xander."

Xander smiled.  "Is this my reward?  Speed said I should get rewards and cuddles for saving lives and I saved the world.  So I should get really hot sex."

"You will," Eric promised.  "Plus cuddles when the nightmares start."  Xander sniffled and nodded.  They got down to making him feel better.  He did deserve a reward.  After all, he had put up with Cordy for a few days.  They definitely loved him the way he should be.  No need for more evil women, he was safe and home now.

The End.