Xander got his diploma, hearing a bunch of teachers saying their 'finally's.  He gave one a smug look and walked off the stage, going to sit down.  He smiled back at his family, getting a smile from his grandfather.  They finished the ceremony and Xander got up, going to bounce into his family to hug them all.  "I made it, finally!"  He looked at the coach.  "When can I pick up all my medals?" he called.

"Next month," he said, smiling at him.  He shook his head.  Xander came over to say his goodbyes to his team, heading out to the limo afterward.  "That award case is going to look very bare," he complained to the team.  "We'll have to fill it again."  They smiled, going to have their own parties.

Xander snuggled into his grandfather's side.  "See, I even made it with a decent GPA," he told him.

"You did."  He stroked through his hair, giving him a weak smile.  Xander kissed him on the cheek, giving him a hug.  "I do wish we could take that trip."

"We can, we have to go slower," Tony told him.  "He's only got one meeting with Emma and I'm sure he can tell her he's going with you."

"She said there's a new campaign, it's not until this fall," Xander told him.  "We can do that one month and then go back to it after everyone's rested."  Everyone smiled at that, shaking their heads.  "That way I have great memories for the last year or so I have him."  He looked at his grandfather, who nodded.  "You're sure?"

"I am.  What are you going to tell Horatio?"

"I don't know.  I was going offer him the chance to come with us if he wanted to take some of his multi-billion leave hours."  They all smiled. "But not make him.  This should be family time and he'll understand that."  They all nodded and he snuggled in again.  He texted Don and Mac, plus Horatio telling him they were done, he had graduated, and now they were going to go party at the house.  "Mine or yours?" he asked.

"Ours," Sire said patiently.  Xander typed that in too, then sent it and put his phone back into his pocket.  "Where did you want to go?"

"Where does Grandfather want to go?"

"Patrick?" he asked.

"I'd like to spend Halloween in Ireland," he said.  "Other than that, I'm not picky."  That got some smiles.  "Xander?"

"It's traveling and spending time with you.  For all I care we can hitch a train car to a train and go wherever."

"That's not a bad idea.  I know someplace you can rent one," Sire said, thinking about it.  "That would give Patrick a comfortable resting spot."  They all nodded and he decided to make arrangements.  "We'll start in main Europe, boys."  They both shrugged and hugged each other.  He smiled.  He loved the long-separated twins.  Truthfully Xander had never really moved out.  He lived at home but he was over all the time to play with Patrick and make him stay alive.  He smoothed Patrick's hair down, getting a content smile.  "We'll bring Ethan," he said quietly.  That got a nod.  They settled into the house a few minutes later, having a quiet dinner in celebration.  Horatio came over later and got fed by Xander, and then they discussed the upcoming trip plans.  Horatio decided he'd join them for a week of it in Italy.  The rest would be Xander and Patrick's time together.


Xander looked at his agent, smiling as he kissed her cheek and sat down across from her at the table.  "What's up and why aren't we in the chatty section?"

"I wanted some privacy, Xander.  There's a new campaign."

"I heard that.  It cannot interrupt my trip with my grandfather."  She looked stunned. "We're going around together.  He's getting too weak to move most of the time.  We're going by train once we get to Europe."

"That's..."  She smiled.  "Very important," she decided.  "When are you going to be back?"

"Next year but I can take *a* month off for this."  She smiled at that.  "We agreed August would be a good one.  It's intolerable everywhere unless we're in Greenland.  He doesn't want to go to Greenland so...."  She laughed and nodded, sliding the pamphlets over.  He looked at it.  "Like I do for the goth shop?"

"Pretty muchly.  Just ads.  More like you did for the watch."  Xander nodded, looking it over.  He pointed at something.  "I know, I wasn't sure if it would bother you."

"I'm not doing the liquor ads."  He looked at her.  "I can't stand the stuff and I don't drink."

"Agreed.  He'll agree to that."  She patted his hand.  "Where are you going?"

"We're starting in Istanbul and going from there.  Horatio's joining us for the week in lower Italy."  She gave him a gentle smile.  "Sorry but I need the time with him."

"I understand.  He's very important to you."  Two of her other models came in.  "Come sit, dears."  Xander looked up and waved.  He passed on the brochures.  "Xander said he can do his part in August but he does not want to do the alcohol parts."

"I don't drink and I hate the stuff," Xander said.  "I'm not going to promote something I can't stand."

The female shrugged.  "We can do those parts."  Emma smiled.  "Why only August?"

"I'm going on a long trip with my grandfather," Xander said quietly, looking at her.  "We're going to be traveling by train over most of Europe and parts of Asia."

"Wow.  So why August?"

"It's unbearable wherever you are in the world," he said blandly, getting a laugh.  "Exactly."  He looked at his agent.  "Is he going to be fussy?"

"I don't know.  I can check.  He's off at the bar waiting on us to talk.  Do you two have any reservations?"

"I really don't like the plans to model animal fur," the female said.  "I'm not Cruella DeVille."  She handed that to Xander, who shook his head at that.  "Didn't think you had seen that part."

"No, if I had I would've turned it down.  Sorry, I'm an adamant supporter of the pound."

"Still?" Emma asked.

"Of course.  Why would I switch?"

"That's a common children's charity."

"Just because I've graduated doesn't mean I don't like animals anymore.  They're some of my favorite people around the house.  Especially the miniature horse that helps the guard dogs."  They all stared.  "She wandered up and she helps.  She's very smart.  She likes to bite reporters."  He was watching someone come in with the press trying to get her to turn around.  "Damn."  He looked at her again, then down at the bark.  "Speaking of animals.  Hi, Burkie.  What's up?"  He picked the tiny dog up, letting him rest in his lap.  "How are you today?  Is Mommy here?"  She barked and whimpered.  "I'm going to take her back to her mommy.  Excuse me for a minute."  He got up and walked her into the other room, smiling at a few familiar faces, most of whom smiled at him.  "She came to find me," he explained.  He found her slumped in her chair.  "Petunia?"  He frowned, checking her neck.

"Crap."  He looked around, waving a waiter over.  "Do not touch anything here," he hissed.  "She's dead."  He went pale.  "Get me the manager.  I'll tell someone.  You're taking her out like she passed out.  Tell him *I* said so."  He nodded, heading to get the manager.  He walked over to another table, handing off the dog.  "Hold her for a few please?" he whispered.  "Her mommy's not taking a nap."  She stiffened.  "They're going to take her out like she's passed out."  That got a nod and he went to tell the other senior matron in the room, getting a nod.  He walked back to the manager's side, nodding the paramedics in.  "She passed out," Xander said firmly.  "Do not let the press know anything different.  It'll hurt her family."

"We can do that," the lead one agreed.  He checked her over, nodding at the other to get the gurney.  They came back and gently lifted her onto it.  "Who do we call?"

Xander handed over the purse.  "A true lady never leaves without her purse.  Her phone book is in there.  Her daughter is Amanda ... what's Amanda's last name?" he called.

"Dupont," someone called back.  They looked and blinked.  "Oh, tell me...."

"She's been sick for ages," Xander said gently.  "As far as anyone outside is concerned, she passed out."  He followed them out, catching the dog when she ran out.  "Hey, Burkie."  He looked at the matron, who waved him off.  "You sure?"

"She left you the dog, Xander.  She even left you his things so you could upkeep him."

He kissed her on the cheek.  "Thank you," he said quietly.

"No, dear, thank you.  Now go clean up."

He nodded, going to wash his hands, bringing the dog back to the table.  "Sorry.  One of the grande dames just passed out.  It's her dog and I'm puppy sitting."  That got a smile from Emma.  "Any other jobs?"

"If you'll be in New York in August it'd be nice."

"We can arrange that," he agreed happily.  She smiled and nodded.  "I've got to go.  We're pretty sure we'll have a funeral soon for her."  He got up, taking the dog home to his grandfather.  Sire gave him an odd look.  "Petunia was at lunch when she died," he said quietly.  "I'm told she left me Burkie."

"Okay."  He let him into the study, letting him see Patrick was napping.  "How did it go?"

"They do liquor and wanted us to model in pet furs.  Not mink but dog.  Not a chance.  She did ask if we were going to break for August that we spend it in New York.  Just in case.  That way you guys could spend time with Don and Stella."  That got a smile from his grandfather, who waved at the dog, getting a bark.  "Petunia died at lunch."

"I'm sorry."  He smiled at him.  "I know she was going to leave her to you.  Plus money for her expenses."  He yawned.  "How's the new shoot looking?"

"Crappy which is why I'm not going to be attached to it.  They do liquor and wanted us in animal furs.  I'm not going to wear a dog."

"Good boy."  He reached over to pet the dog, letting her curl up in his lap.  "Shh, we'll nap together, Burkie."  She turned around a few times then settled in, snoring gently into his stomach, letting him pet her while he fell back asleep.

Xander and Sire shared a look, letting him get the guard who did sketches to capture this moment while Xander went to look at their itinerary and look an idea up in the library.


Xander walked into the small hotel in Istanbul, looking around.  "I'm looking for Drega," he told the manager.  "Where is she?"  A shaky hand pointed at the table in the corner.  "Thank you."  He walked over there, nodding politely when he was stared at by a few.  He stopped in front of her.  "Drega?"

"I do not do things for cash.  It's evil," she said with a small sneer.

Xander sat down across from her.  "If I was offering you money it'd be different.  My grandfather is ill."

"I would care why?"

"Your sire and his is worried."  She stopped drinking at that, staring at him.  He grinned a bit.  "I know, I look a lot like Grandfather."

"Patrick?" she whispered.  He nodded.  "Why?"

"The cancer he had continues to grow  no matter how often Ethan works on it.  We're here doing some traveling and he sent me to find you so you two could see each other again."

She finished her drink.  "Walk me home, Alexander."

"If you wish."  He stood up, helping her to stand.  "Which way?"  She pointed and he strolled beside her, letting her think while they walked.  She finally made it to her house, walking inside, holding up a hand.  "I'll wait."

She nodded.  "It's best."  She disappeared, coming out an hour later with a smoking vial and him sitting on her stairs like a little boy.  "Show me to Patrick."

"Of course.  We're in a train car."  He led her that way, smiling when she took a few shortcuts.  He tapped then walked in with her behind her.  "Sire sent for her," he said in greeting, getting out of the way.

"Naomi," Patrick said, smiling and holding up a hand.

"Patrick."  She came over to look at him then at Xander.  "I need your blood."

"All of it?"

"A few drops would do."  He pulled out a knife and made a small slice on his forearm, letting her gather it.  She sniffed.  "Virginal?"

"Not fully," he admitted.  "I ended up buggering someone in a club one night."  His grandfather frowned.  "He slid it inside, I was content with rubbing.  Then he went to do everyone else in the club."  He moved closer.  "He can clean it off in a few minutes."

"Of course he can."  She fed him the potion, making him drink it.  "Now, finish his arm off."  He did that, making Xander smile.  "Good."  She looked at him.  "Would you turn if it would save him?"

"I don't want to be turned but I'd hate to lose him more," he said honestly.

"No, he's not being turned," Sire ordered from his couch.  "Why would he need to be?"  He turned the page on his book, looking like he was reading. "That will make him better, correct?"

"It should."  She checked him then frowned at Xander.  "Where were you born?"


She gaped.  "A hellmouth baby," she said in awe.  "I know those who would pay good money for your blood."  Patrick smacked her hard on the arm.  "Sorry, I will not harm your grandson."  She looked at him then at the boy. "We need more.  It's powerful blood and can cure him."

"So can a slayer's blood," Xander said, opening up a box and taking out a small vile.  "I asked Willow to ask her and she said she heard you were a good cause."  He handed it over to Sire, who smiled and handed it to Patrick. "There's another two in there.  She sent it by magic with someone named Ripper's help?"

"Riper was one of my boys," Patrick admitted. "Ethan's love.  The very stout and uptight Mr. Giles, dear."  He sucked down the blood, moaning at the taste.  The other two were handed over and he sighed, slumping down.  "I need a nap."

"You do," she agreed, tucking him in.  She found something in her pocket, putting the small doll over his chest, starting to chant.  The doll distorted, Patrick moaned and wiggled, and then the doll burst into flames.  She checked him over, smiling.  "Much better."  She looked at the two staring men.  "It shortened them to nearly nothing."  Sire relaxed and smiled.  She looked at Xander.  "He will live to see your children."  Xander beamed and nodded, giving her a hug.  "Two still remain at an increased size.  It can be taken out however.  Ethan can keep the others from swelling with pus again."  She patted Xander on the back, smiling when he wiped off his cheeks.  "There, boy.  Rest with him."  Xander climbed in to rest next to Patrick, getting comfortable with him.  She looked at her Sire.  "Did you not think to call?"

"Xander pointed it out.  I had forgotten," he said quietly.

"As can happen in old age," she teased.  She kissed him on the cheek.  "I will see you in a few days."  She left them alone to celebrate and get used to the fact that he was going to get better and stronger now.

Sire smiled at Xander.  "Thank you."

"It was an idea that I thought I had seen."  He hugged his grandfather tighter, snuggling into his chest.


Horatio smiled when he was picked up by the bouncy Xander at the airport in Rome.  "Has it been a good trip?"

"It's been the best."  He gave him a hug.  "We found a temporary cure," he said quietly, leading him out to pick up his luggage.  "He's better."

"How temporary?"

"He might live to see my grandchildren," he offered.  He walked him out to the car once he had his things, letting him put things into the trunk of the cab.  Then they got into the front, him leaning forward to give him an address.  He got a nod and hurried off.  Xander leaned back, smiling at him. "Grandsire said that his daughter could help once.  That she could do amazing things.  She's made him stronger."

"I'm glad."  He gave his hand a squeeze.  "Where are we going?"

"Grandsire's house."  He beamed.  "He has a small condo here."  He pointed.  "Look, ancient places.  We can go sightseeing while you're here.  We only got in last night."

Horatio smiled, taking his hand to hold.  When they got to the condo it was miraculous.  Patrick hadn't looked that well since Xander had been a child.  He hugged the vampire, making him smile.  "You are better."

"Mostly.  There's still a few but it did give me at least a few more years.  Though I will not be going back to my old schedule and I will not be going near any other Watchers."  He smiled at Xander, giving him a hug.  "He's been fussing over me worse than he ever has.  Make him have fun, grandson-in-law."

"We're not at that stage yet," Horatio said sheepishly.

"Rome is very romantic," Sire said as he walked in.  "Go play, boys.  I'm going to take Patrick to some of the places we used to roam."  Xander gave him a hopeful look.  "You'll be making your own favorite places, grandson.  Shoo.  Now."  Xander beamed and bounced out with Horatio, coming back to grab his wallet and keys before leaving again.  He shook his head.  "He's still in need of those medicines."

"They never worked right on him," Patrick said gently, taking his hand so they could watch the sunset through the special windows.  "Why have they not consummated things?"

"Xander's scared he'll be driven off by his inexperience and he won't be as worthy of him.  Not that Horatio doesn't feel the same way on his end.  They're very alike.  They both fear that first lover's quarrel that could destroy the relationship.  Besides you did tell Xander to wait for a commitment," he teased.

"If it were legal I'd have picked up a shotgun long ago," Patrick said happily.  "We still have to tell Don."

"We'll see Don in a month, Patrick.  He'll hug you then.  Until then you're mine."  He nipped him on the throat.  "You taste odd.  Like cleaning herbs?"

"I did a purification ritual," he admitted, looking at him.  "Some of Naomi's spells can taint what soul I have left."

Raphael kissed him.  "As long as it didn't hurt you."  He drug his childe outside once it was dark enough, making sure he had his wallet and keys as well.  They had some old haunts to find again.


Horatio smiled, catching Xander when he jumped off the side of the fountain.  "You're happy."

"I'm very happy.  Actually, I'm more than happy, I'm not worried and I'm happy."

Horatio smiled, nuzzling his cheek.  "Then we'll see what we can do to keep that trend going."  Xander beamed.  "This is not the most liberal city, Xander," he said, avoiding the kiss.  Xander pouted. "They've stoned gay men in recent memory."

Xander kissed him on the tip of his nose.  "We'll see what we can do about that."  He took his hand to walk off with him, going to dinner.  "Do you still have my wallet?"  Horatio nodded, patting that pocket.  "Good."  He smiled.  Their phones rang so Xander answered them both.  "What's up?"  He listened.  "Are you two okay?" he asked.  He nodded.  "We'll meet you back at the train car."  He hung up and grinned at Horatio.  "Stupid Watcher," he said quietly, dragging him off to a taxi that had a multilingual set of prices.  He said something in Spanish, getting a nod.   Horatio settled beside him.  "Your things are going with us."

"That's fine.  What happened?"

Xander shrugged.  "I don't know.  Yet."

"Where's Thomas and Tony?"

"Miami.  Where they should be," Xander said with a grin.  "Tony's put himself on-call for your team if they need him."  He smiled at that.  "We'll figure it out.  Remember, I'm partially trained and  you're better trained."  He gave his hand a squeeze, paying the cabby when they got back to the train yard.  He got them out, heading for the car they had rented.  Someone yelled at them and he glared.  "I'm with them."  That got a nod and he pulled Horatio on board.  "We're here," he called.

Sire came out of the back.  "One of the Watchers decided he was a threat for being happy and gay," he said quietly.

"He okay?"

"He had sucky aim," Sire said blandly.  "Hit him in the stomach and not too deep, boys.  Horatio, your bag's being brought.  Ours as well, Xander."

"As long as I get it back sometime soon and his passport wasn't in there, I've got mine on me," Xander said.  "We can shop tomorrow if we have to."  That got a smile and a nod.  "Are we going out into the countryside or on to Switzerland?"

"Countryside.  We'll be connecting with a train in a few minutes."  He patted him on the cheek.  "Let me worry about the mundane.  I've had to leave a few areas quickly."  He went back to babying his childe.  He was going to be fine and he knew that but it was too soon after they had gotten him back for him to not worry himself sick.

Xander looked at Horatio, sitting him down.  "Well!"  Horatio snickered.  "Wanna kick me an ass."  He sat down next to him, cuddling in.  "It'll be fine."  Someone knocked and he went to open the door.  "Yes?" he asked in English.  One sure way to mark them as tourists.  The obvious official said something in Italian.  "I know enough Italian to ask for directions, can you slow that down?"  He repeated it.  He held up a finger, sitting on the stairs so they were the same height.  "How about I give you whatever you probably want to know?  We rented the train car.  We're going on a vacation to celebrate my grandfather getting better and me graduating," he said slowly and clearly.  That got a nod.  "We're American."  That got a grimace but another nod.  "Is this about us moving or our papers?  Passports?"  He nodded at that and Xander showed him his, getting it looked over.  "It was stamped at the border.  We came from Istanbul."  That got a nod and he handed it back.  "Do you need the others?  One of us just flew in today and the other two have been on the train the whole time," he said slowly.

He shook his head.  "No.  Check," he said.  Xander beamed at that.  "Problems?"

"I'm gay," Xander told him.  "Someone complained so we're going a few days early."  That got a nod and he walked off.  Xander got back into the car, closing the door behind him, making sure he had his passport.  "Okay."  He smiled at his sire.  "It's apparently not the first time."

"Hopefully not," Sire agreed.  Someone else knocked so he went to open it.  "Yes?"

"You're the Benis party?"

Xander looked at him,  nodding.  "Yes, and you sound suspiciously like Mr. Giles did in Sunnydale."  The man went pale.  "Hi, Xander Benis, formerly of Sunnydale.  What did you need?"

"Your grandfather."

"Tough shit," Xander said coolly.  The man stepped back.  "My grandfather is resting after someone unwisely pissed me off by attacking him."

"Now see here....."

Xander pulled him into the car, making him squeak.  "My grandfather has never felt the need to kill to hunt," he hissed in his face.  "He was a priest.  He's a very good man who sticks up for people who need it.  You're indiscriminate."  He wet himself.  "Pity about that."  He stared him down.  "You leave my grandfather alone."

"He...he's sick."

"He's still sick, he's just more energetic now," Xander assured him.  That got a fast nod.  "Anything else you absolutely fucking needed to know?"

"No," he squeaked.  Xander let him go, stepping back.  "All my trainee knew was that they were ones."

"Hmm, and still with the pissing me off," Xander told him.  He went pale.  "By the way, since I can see out the window you might wanna call off the person with the can of gas.  It'll look really bad when you tell the cops you tried to burn us out because you think we're vampires."  The man backed up.  "No.  If they light it on fire, you're staying."

Patrick came out.  "They won't care to burn him too," he said quietly, stroking his grandson's back.  "Sire?"

"Xander, go hand that person to someone."

Horatio coughed, pointing.  "Too late.  Let's get out of here?"  Xander took his and Patrick's hands, leading them off the car.  He kicked someone in the jaw and they quit standing there with a stake.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  Sire?"  He came out with the Watcher, dropping him onto the ground.  "Couldn't let him die?"

"No.  I couldn't.  It's unfortunate."  He glared at the skinny, little, preteen girl.  "You can only get hurt, young lady.  Not all of us are the monsters he told you about."

"You are.  You're one of *them*," she sneered.  Xander pulled her over his lap, spanking her until she bawled and screamed for help.

The official came back with the fire department.  "What's going on?" one of the firemen translated.

"She and her buddy there set the car on fire saying we were vampires," Xander said, handing her over, wiping off his hands.  "I thought she needed corrected."  He stared her down until she hid behind the official.  He looked at the fireman again.  "All of us got out.  We're sorry they torched the car."

"We have had such recently," he said, handing her to someone with some rapid Italian.  She was put into handcuffs and someone else came to get the other guy.  "Thank you.  You are staying locally?"

Patrick nodded, leaning on his sire's side.  "We have a vacation place nearby."  That got a nod.  "We'll be leaving tomorrow since this is the second problem."

"I understand.  I hope your next trip is better," he said.  That got a nod and they headed off to get a ride back to the condo to pick up their things and then to hide at a better hotel.  "Vampires," he told the official.   He said something and he laughed.  "Gay vampires?  Not from the stories I've heard.  They'll put them where they belong."  He went to order his people around to make sure nothing else burned.


Xander led Horatio around the next city on their tour, giving him a smile.  "See, so much nicer."

"It is."  He gave his hand a squeeze.  "Are you sure this is all right?"

"If they like us they'll think we're cute.  If not, they'll think you're trying to hold me back while I pull you along."  Horatio laughed, letting Xander lead him into the shop he had been aiming them for.  He sniffed and moaned.  "This is nice."  He smiled at the saleswoman, who squealed and came over to fit them with things.  The 'temptation' ad was on the wall behind her.  It was a lot cheaper than it should have been too.  Even Horatio got dressed in some leather.  Xander walked them and their bags off, going to one of the plazas to stroll around and look at the architecture and sculptures.  Florence was a great city.  He saw a reporter and swore, making Horatio laugh.

"Who?"  He looked where Xander nodded.  "I wonder who else is up here.  Aren't you on good terms with her?"

"Your boss?"

"May mind but I'm on vacation."  They smiled at the reporter, who gaped and pointed her camera at them.  "Not unflattering ones," he called, walking Xander on.  "Who else is here?"

"Shiva and her daughter."

"Tell her I said hi," Xander called, waving a hand.  "Grandfather's having a good day."  He walked Horatio off, going to look at a few other things.  He looked back, finding a native reporter following them.  "Huh."

Horatio turned to look at him.  "Why are you bothering Mr. Benis?" he asked in poor Italian.  He said something, pointing back at the other reporter.

Xander looked at him.  "I think he said Helen sicced him on us."  He looked at him.  "Society reporter?"  He shook his head.  "Fashion?"  He nodded, beaming, snapping a picture of him.  Xander smiled, shaking his head.  "We're going shopping.  It's boring.  I'm on vacation."  That got a shrug.  "Whatever."  He walked Horatio off.  "Ignore him.  We'll lose him soon."  Horatio gave him a sideways look.  "I will."  He winked and walked them into an upscale shop, nodding at the manager.  "Hi.  This one is my very best friend and needs something spectacular for dinner out tonight.  My treat."

The manager looked at him then nodded.  "New York society?"

"Miami," Xander said with a grin.  "Xander Benis."  The man blinked.  "Wow, I have an international following?"  The man babbled something and Xander frowned, looking at Horatio, then at him.  "English?"  He whispered something in his ear, getting a nod.  "I am.  Grandfather's taking a trip with me so we have good memories.  He's feeling a bit better with his new treatment too.  I'll tell him you said to feel better."  That got a smile and he led them to a few wardrobes to look at the things inside.  "He knows about Grandfather's works."

"It's funny how the world keeps getting smaller," Horatio said with a smile for him.  Xander grinned back, holding up something.  "I...."

Xander tapped a foot.  "Complain, watch me spoil you rotten, Horatio."  He called home.  "What's the balance on my card?"  He smiled.  "Horatio's complaining that I'm buying him something for dinner."  He laughed.  "That's what I was thinking.  Thanks."  He hung up.  He looked at the manager.  "I have ten thousand to spend on this stop."  He gaped then nodded, hauling Horatio to another closet.

"The others were fine," Horatio told him.  "They felt like my suits at home."  They went back there and a few were pulled out.  He gave Xander a look, getting a grin and a wiggle of fingers.  "You should be spending this on yourself."

"This is the rest of my allowance from my trip to New York a few years back, Horatio.  Quit fussing.  I look strange in suits."  He sat down, crossing his feet while Horatio was made to try on the new suits.  He came out and Xander nearly drooled.  He wiped his mouth to make sure, earning a blush.  Horatio studied himself then nodded that he liked it.  The fitter came out to fix the tailoring for him.  They walked out four hours later with them promising to deliver everything tonight.  "You didn't have to....  Where's your bags?"

"Back there.  They said they'd deliver them too."  He beamed.  "Now, we were going to look at paintings, right?"  Horatio nodded, giving him another look.  "You need spoiled."

"You do a lot of that."

"I like to spoil.  You're not sick so I can't fuss.  I learned from Grandfather."

"I noticed.  Less spoiling, more personal attention, Xander."  Xander smiled and nodded, taking his hand to pull him into a museum that was up the street, holding onto his arm like a proper escort as they looked at things, talking quietly about what they were looking at.


Sire looked at the bags that had been delivered then at Patrick.  "The boys are where?"

"Xander used the last of his allowance from New York to spoil Horatio so they could have a romantic dinner tonight."  He smiled.  "He has good taste.  The one he came out in made him glow like a pregnant woman."

"I hope he's not, yet.  We'd have to move our primary residence to a country where it's legal to marry or get Horatio a job in Massachusetts."  Patrick snickered.  "We would."

"He's not.  The special silk was gorgeous on him."  He took a kiss.  "Dinner?"

"I'd like a good dinner with you.  Where are the boys?"

"They are staying in another room tonight," Patrick said with a wink.  "I do believe our grandson has decided."

"Which means we'll be inundated with problems if it's a good match," he said dryly.

"It's a great match.  Horatio does understand him.  Even when they're having future fights they'll still be all right.  Xander will win half of them at least because he's stubborn and can pout."

"Just like you do to me," Sire said dryly, pulling him up.  "Go change."

"What am I picking out?" he asked as he walked.

"Something to have a dinner of our own, Patrick."  That got a wink and he went to put on something that would make his sire pounce.


After dinner Xander led Horatio back to their hotel room for the night.  "Sire said he needed time with Grandfather," he explained as they checked in, taking the keys.  "Thank you."  He headed up the stairs, smiling as he let Horatio into their room.  He turned to look at him, smiling when the door was closed and Horatio leaned against it.  "You act like you're the virgin," he teased.

Horatio looked around then at him.  "I thought we were going to wait until we got home."  He came over, undoing Xander's tie and then his own, putting them onto the dresser next to them.  "Are you sure?"

Xander kissed him.  "I'm sure but if you want to...."

Horatio kissed him again.  "I still have some worries about our age gap and what would happen if something happened to me, or to you."

"I have worries about our first few fights," Xander said.  "Our last one nearly had me not coming out of my room."

"I heard.  Tony called to chew me a new one.  He threatened to have someone egg the hummer until I apologized."  He kissed him again.  "Are you sure?" he asked again.  Xander beamed and nodded.  "Okay."  He finished stripping them both down, taking Xander in to shower with him.  It was one of their favorite games to date.  They had gotten as far as blow jobs but never any farther because they were both concerned how the relationship would affect their lives.  Xander was still a bit pouty to his mind but that was looking like something that wouldn't be changed.  Not unless he was in constant danger.  Horatio's own career was dangerous and more than one of the criminals he caught had been tempted to deal with Xander to make him hurt.

Then again, they understood each other perfectly.  It was those minor flaws that created the occasional fight, and like any couple they eventually worked them out.  Not that Tony hadn't offered to put him out of Xander's misery a few times but Tony was Xander's head of security and friend.  He should do that.  He ran his hands over the damp skin, soaping it slowly, making Xander moan and let him do whatever he wanted.  Horatio stepped back and Xander pouted but took control of their shower.  Horatio did like that.  The 'pleasure boy' Xander was a fun toy but not for tonight.  He groaned when the cellphones rang, going out to answer his.  "Horatio.  Tony?"  He listened to the complaint.  "Why?"  He nodded once.  "We can.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "Xander?"  He came out, handing over the spare towel.  "The Watchers."

"Can't I blow them up or something?  They keep getting in the way."  He called Patrick's cellphone.  "Tony called Horatio about the Watchers.  Sounds like it.  Meet you there in ten."  He hung up, putting back on his clothes, walking out with Horatio once he was dressed as well.  He handed over the keys, getting an odd look.  "Family emergency.  Blows all sorts of plans."  She gave him a sorry smile and he shrugged, walking outside to catch their ride.  He climbed into the back, Horatio beside him.  "So, what happened?"

"The one in Rome finally got bail," Sire said, sounding grumpy.

Xander looked at Horatio then at his grandparents, then back at Horatio.  "You go back when?"

"Three days."


"Xander," Patrick chided.  "He does have to work."

"Still sucks.  I had some very nice plans for tonight.  Our things?"

"Being handled by Desmond.  He's been shadowing us to make sure we're safe," Sire admitted.  "Thomas sent him and Tony threatened to pay Gibbs to follow you."

"Then I'd never get cuddles."  Horatio gave him one anyway, earning a gentle smile.  "Rain check until August?"

"Where will you be in August?"

"Bothering Uncle Don."

"You have to decide around then if you're going to the Christmas Lights ball," Sire reminded him.  Xander grimaced.  "You could bring Horatio."

Xander looked at him.  "It's an all white event that's for a few decent charities.  The last time I went we had kidnapers and robbers."

Horatio shook his head.  "Only you could consider that fun."

"No, that was part of the event," Patrick said dryly.  "The planning committee always has something happen in the center to liven it back up.  Plenty of young ladies will be hitting on him if they think he's single."


"Sorry," Patrick said, smirking at him.  "You could pick a good surrogate..."

"I haven't even had sex with Horatio yet," Xander complained.  "Not ready for kids yet.  Besides, now I can wait until I'm twenty-five," he said with a cheeky grin.  "Even if I do have to bop every single Watcher on the head."  He looked out the window, pointing.  "Wasn't that the airport?"

"I've been wondering that myself," Sire admitted.  "Driver?"  The window went up. "Xander?"

Xander sighed and looked then tapped politely once.  No answer.  He shrugged and pulled something out of his pocket, putting it onto the window.  "Dear, shift about a foot please?  Don't want you dented."  Horatio shifted and he blew the window, reaching through the remains to grab the driver by the hair.  "Where are we going?" he asked blandly.   The man stuttered.  "Now, try it in English since you sound British.  Yours or ours please.  Better yet, stop the car.  Before I blow your head next."  The car was stopped and Xander wiggled through the hole to get him out of the car.  "Thank you.  Needed the new ride, even though it does have a pitiful engine.  You might want to tell the others that Grandfather is feeling much better."

"We heard you had one of the girls drained," he sneered.

"Actually, we asked nicely and she donated.  After all, Grandfather does many good things in this world.  Pity you're not."  He started the engine and drove them off, heading back to the airport.  He parked it in long-term parking and got out, opening the back door.  "Here we go.  And there's Desmond.  Did you get everything?" he called, getting a nod.  "Our room too?"

"Of course," he said as he walked over, handing over the luggage trolley.  "Tony said you can't hurt the Watchers."

"Pity," Horatio muttered.

"He's having fun.  He sent Gibbs to talk to them," the guard said, making Sire's eyes go very wide.  "It's a fun trip from what I've been told.  Shall we, Father, Sire?"  That got a nod and they headed inside, buying tickets to go to their next destination.


Horatio made it back to his desk on time, flopping down with a groan.  Yelina leaned in.  "Long flight?" she asked.

"A few."  He smiled.  "I got in at midnight."

"I thought you were coming back at eight."

"I would have if we had been in Italy.  Unfortunately that didn't quite seem to happen.  The other people trying to hurt Patrick decided to keep trying to interfere."

"Is that why Tony was so happy when I saw him last night?"

"Probably.  He sent Gibbs to deal with them."

"So where were you?" she teased, coming in.  He handed over his passport, getting an odd look.  "You went to four countries in a week?"  He nodded.  "Them?"

He nodded.  "Them."  He took it back, putting into his inner jacket pocket. "Xander spoiled me rotten while we traveled and we did get to do some sight seeing at each spot.  It was more frustrating.  We'd be out and they'd come up and do something.  Xander was vowing to blow them up the next time."

"I think that's why Tony sent his old boss," she said delicately.

"Hmm.  They hadn't been bothered in Morocco that I know of.  Xander emailed me this morning from the hotel."  She smiled again.  "It's been a good trip but a bit frustrating."

"Did you two get in any naughty cuddles?"

"We started to and then they showed up."

"That would be frustrating," she agreed.  "Speed's out on a scene with Frank and Eric. Everyone else should be on their way in.  Did you get to shop?" she hinted.

"I did.  Yours is at home, the same as the others are."  She pouted a bit.  "I have pictures too."  She nodded, walking out.  She could be a bit patient.  Horatio called his boss.  "I'm taking some time off during August as well.  Yes, for that reason, sir.  How did you know about the Watchers?"  He laughed.  "I didn't know that.  No, Tony sent Gibbs.  So far they're being left alone in Morocco.  Xander sent me an email."  He smiled.  "They'll be in New York in August.  Thank you.  Whenever's good for you, sir.  Thank you."  He hung up, shaking his head.  "What did you bring me?" he muttered.  "That's all I'm going to hear all day."

Calleigh squealed and came in to hug him.  "We thought you might be calling off today because of the jetlag."

"No, I collapsed at midnight," he admitted, giving her a squeeze.

"How was Italy?"

"Good until someone tried to burn us to death," he admitted.  She gaped.  He nodded.  "There's another group who doesn't like Patrick and his sire so they kept trying to run us out of Europe."

"I wondered why Tony was cackling."  She kissed him on the cheek.  "Did you take a lot of pictures?"

"They're at home so as long as someone brings over food you can come see them."

She beamed and bounced out.  "Eric,  tell your mother she's cooking for Horatio and all of us tonight so he'll share pictures!" she bellowed as she walked.

"Beef or chicken?" Eric called a few minutes later.

"I don't care!  You know that."

Eric leaned into Horatio's office.  "Beef or chicken?"

"Whichever she feels like," he said, smiling at him.  "She doesn't have to."

He snorted.  "I've got a present coming, yes she does."  He walked off telling her that, making her giggle.  He did say he had a lot of pictures as well.  She was delighted at that.  She never got to travel and loved to hear about traveling.


Xander came off the plane in New York, seeing someone waiting on them.  "You haven't suddenly turned into an idiot Watcher, right?" he asked Mac, who shook his head.  "Have they bothered you?"

"Twice, I gave them to Stella."  Patrick smiled at that and Mac gaped.  "You look a lot better."

"I ran into an old friend who had a temporary extension to my energy," he admitted, giving him a hug.  "Sire?"

"Grabbing your book, Patrick."  He brought it out, handing it over.  He nudged Xander and handed him his bag.  "Not the maid, boys."

Xander frowned, looking in the bag then at him.  "It's Desmond's."  That got a groan.  "We'll mail it to him in Miami."  He took Mac's arm to walk him out.  "How is my adopted second city?  And where is my uncle?"

"He's got a headache for a case," Mac admitted.  "A double homicide with very little evidence."  He stroked over Xander's hair.  "You grew it out?"

"I'm having it trimmed tomorrow."  He grinned, sliding on his sunglasses as they walked out of the private terminal.  Flashbulbs went off.  "Get out of my face, I just spent ten hours on a plane!  My grandfather is still very ill and I will beat anyone who hurts him." Xander ordered.  They backed off.  "Thank you."  He nodded for them to go on, leading them a bit away. "Usually I don't get this sort of press so what happened?" he asked, taking off his sunglasses.

"How was your vacation, Xander?" one of them called.

"So far it's been a bit weird.  Someone tried to burn us in Rome.  We nearly got kidnaped in Switzerland.  Other than that it was great."  They snapped a few more pictures.  "Now, what else happened?  I never get you guys stalking us this way."

"Earlier today the Princess Sophia asked you to come have dinner with her tomorrow," one of them said.

Xander frowned.  "Who?"  Someone gave him a picture and he shrugged.  "Why?"  They all shrugged.  "Let me get with Tony and we'll see what's going on.  For now, we're visiting family and resting before we go back on vacation."  He smiled.  "Can we escape?"  They nodded, letting him go.  "Thanks, guys."  He turned on his cellphone as he walked, dialing home.  "Princess Sophia is who?" he asked as he caught up to the family.  Sire nearly dropped the bag he was carrying, giving him a shocked look.  He listened to Tony read it.  "Here, tell Sire."  He handed it over.  "I got invited to dinner tomorrow."  He shrugged.  "We'll see."  He smiled at Mac.  "Horatio call recently?" he asked.

"Twice.  He'll be up this weekend."

"Cool."  He beamed, walking outside with his family, getting into the limo they had up here. "Oooh, not plane seats," he said in pleasure.  Patrick laughed, settling in beside him to cuddle him.  "How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, Grandson.  We'll stop and pick up Don on the way home."  Mac and Sire got in, Mac closing the door for the driver.  "What's going on?"

"Princess Sophia is thinking about sponsoring a gay charity event and she asked for Xander to come to dinner with her tomorrow to advise her.  I did say you were feeling a bit stronger and offered you instead but she said she'd rather ask him since she's younger and so's he."

"As long as I don't get hit on," Xander muttered.  That got smiles.  "What?  Horatio's up this weekend," he said happily.

"You can use the emergency condos, grandson," Patrick ordered.  That got an evil smirk.  "Any shoots?"

"I haven't heard from Emma in two weeks."  He dialed her as soon as the limo started to move.  "It's Xander.  I'm in New York but I'm busy tomorrow night and this weekend, all weekend.  Did anything come up that you wanted me to do?"  He laughed, shaking his head.  "You know I'm not going to model for liquor.  Anything else?"  He grimaced, looking at his sire.  "When do they want to know?"  He nodded once.  "Then have them come see us in Miami, that way I can clear it with Tony helping make plans for my security.  Anything other than the bachelor stud calendar?"  He blinked.  "Excuse me?"  He covered the mouthpiece.  "Emma got an offer for me to do porn."

"Hell.  No," Mac ordered.

"Sorry, dear, I got horrified looks and a hell no.  Besides, still mostly pure.  Not going there.  Anything else?"  He laughed, leaning against his grandfather.  "Sure.  When do you want me to return to working for you?"  He grinned. "That'll work.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "I may end up being asked to host a gay comedian's thingy but there's a host in place and he should be able to handle it.  He did say if he got beaten or something to get me instead since he heard I'd be up here around then.  If not, want to go?"  They all nodded.  "Cool."  He beamed.  "She got us free tickets."  That got a smile from Mac.  "And Lakers versus Knick's tickets for Don and I next weekend for his birthday as long as I go looking cute."

"He'll love it," Mac promised.

"I thought Don liked hockey," Sire said.

"He'll adore going out for his birthday.  It'll mean Stella can't throw him another surprise party where he ends up drunk."

"We'll throw him a tasteful party this year," Patrick promised.  He patted Xander on the knee.  "Nothing else?"

"I got offered a vodka ad on tv but she knows I don't drink so she turned it down.  The porn was from one of the other models who wanted me to break her underaged butt in."  They all gave him an odd look.  "Remember the little redheaded minx in the fur coat ad?"  They all shivered but nodded.  "Her."

"No," Patrick said, shaking his head.  "No, no way in hell."

"She knew that and told her no but she's going to ask again.  I'll tell her I can't act," he whispered, kissing him on the cheek.  Patrick shook his head.  "I can't.  She's not my redhead."

"Who'll be up all weekend; he's getting up here early Friday," Mac told him.  Xander beamed.  "How was the rest of the world?"

"Interesting and pretty," Xander said. "Plus a bit grimy in places but so's New York."

"True."  He relaxed.  "Pictures?"  Xander pulled them out of his bag, letting him see them.  "You have a good eye."  Xander pointed at Sire, who smiled back.  "Okay, you have a great eye for that one statue."  He kept going.  "Stella's going to pounce you for pictures."  They pulled up in front of the station.  "I'll get Don."

Xander waved a hand, getting out and walking inside.  The desk guy blinked and stared.  "Getting my uncle.  He's got to come to dinner or else I'll pout."  He walked up there, finding Don ready to beat something so he did the simple thing.  He hauled him up, then put him over his shoulder, carrying him off.  "Say night, Uncle Don."

"Put me down!" he complained.

"Nope.  You were scowling and making people hot.  You can't be more alluring than I am. I'll get jealous," he teased.  He walked him out, putting him down next to the limo.  "Inside, hug Grandfather."  He gave him a nudge, climbing in after him.  He shut the door and they went on.

Don was scowling. "Mac, he carried me out."

"You needed dinner anyway, Don.  You can go back later."

"He *carried* me out!  I'm going to hear princess jokes for weeks!"

"Tell them I'm the family's princess," Xander said dryly.  Sire laughed, nodding.  "He agrees.  Sometimes the beautiful princess has to kidnap a prince."  Don gaped at him then burst out laughing.  "See, I knew you needed dinner.  You're hysterical."  He gave him a hug then made him look at Patrick, who had moved next to Sire to go over the pictures with Mac.  "Look."

"Uncle Pat," he said, looking stunned.  "You're better?"

"A bit more time, not fully," he said, giving him a smile.  Don hugged him.  "Thank you, nephew.  I would've missed you too."  He gave him a gentle pat.  "It's all right.  I'll see you having children some year soon."  Don laughed, pulling back, wiping off one cheek.  "Now, we're going home and then we'll order dinner, Xander."  Xander beamed and nodded.  "You can have all of us tonight.  Xander has a present for your birthday, and Horatio's coming up this weekend."

"I heard about the princess," Don said, looking at him.

"One princess to another," Xander quipped, making Don laugh.  "See, knew you needed the break."  Don's phone rang.  "You should probably tell Danny you're all right."

Don pulled out his phone, answering it.  "Flack.  No, Captain, that was my nephew Xander," he said, swatting at him.  "He said I needed dinner and they're just now in.  He said he's a princess who felt the need to kidnap a prince.  No, Mac's here with us.   Sure."  He handed the phone over.  "Captain Gerard."

"Hello?" Mac asked, listening to him rant.  "I'll remind Xander not to steal personnel," he agreed, shaking his head.  "I did tell him Don has had a bad case these last few days.  He's been ready to snap and scream for the last day and a half.  No, he's much happier, Captain.  I'm sure.  Possibly tomorrow, maybe later tonight.  I'll make sure he gets there."  He hung up, tossing the phone back.  "He said you're not NYPD royalty.  You need another three generations for that."

"I'll get right on that tonight," Don said dryly.  Patrick smiled.  "Yes, I'm dating someone nice, but it's not gonna last.  She gives me funny looks when I talk about work."  He let Xander cuddle against his side.  "So, you're a lot better?" he asked, sounding hopeful.

"I'm a lot better," he agreed.  Don beamed.  "Xander and Sire conspired to get me to someone who could help and some other things that have healing properties.  Then the Watchers showed up to complain.  Repeatedly."

"Now they're looking for information," Don told him.  "I actually talked to the one I didn't punch.  He said they're looking to verify some information and not to hurt you any longer since it was a voluntary blood draw?"

"Slayer's blood helps cure vampires," Xander said quietly.  "I asked the one I kinda have a connection to and she agreed to donate.  Oh, sent Willow many postcards.  She's squealing in joy at home according to Jesse's email."  He snuggled in again.  "How about a basketball game for your birthday?  All I have to do is be my pretty self."

"How close to the floor?"

"Sixth row.  Far enough away in case they end up in the audience but close enough to be hit with sweat."  He grinned.  "Emma snatched them for me."

Don gave him a squeeze.  "I love you."  Xander laughed.  "No party," he told Mac, who held up a hand.  "You either, guys."

"Fat chance," Patrick told him.  Don gaped.  "I make Xander celebrate his, so can you. We won't let you get drunk."

"Gee, thanks."  He looked down at the sleepy boy.  "Bad flight?"

"Long flight from Russia," Sire admitted.  He looked at his childe.  "Do you still want to go to Ireland for Halloween?"  He nodded.  "Fine, we'll go hide in their backyard."

"I told the one who only wanted information to give me a list of what he wanted to know in writing and I'd hand it over," Don said.  "He said he'd get it to me in a few days."  He shifted, letting Xander cuddle up better.  "So, Horatio and him?  Still together?"  They smiled and nodded.  "How was he when he came over to help you three party?"

"Good.  A bit frustrated now and then with the Watchers.  One of the Miami reporters had followed a debutante tennis star to Italy for a match and spotted them out shopping.  She sicced a local counterpart on them so we have some wonderful pictures of Xander spoiling Horatio with a few new suits and a good dinner out.  It would've been more but we had to leave Florence."

Xander looked at him.  "We went to a leather shop too."

"We saw the new unholy leathers, dear," Patrick assured him.

"They had the temptation ad on the wall.  Horatio giggled the whole time she was gushing over us.  So he got some leather pants too."  He grinned, putting his head back down.  "Are we driving around?"

Mac looked then nodded.  "We're in the park."  He looked at Don, who sighed and pulled his gun, putting it under his thigh.  Mac did the same thing.  Sire did the same thing.  Mac looked at him.  "Been a bad trip?"

"Only with Watchers."  Sure enough they paused and two men got in, one on either side.  "Yes?" he asked dryly.

"We wanted to talk to you."

Xander blinked at him then casually kicked the one behind him.  "You stink.  Get out of the limo now before you make us all stink."  The man looked stunned, nearly ready to cry.  "Some of you have tried to kill us and you expect me to be *nice*?"

"We only wanted to talk," the one he had kicked assured him.  "Rupert has said some things that made us reevaluate how we treat the older ones of your kind."  He looked at Xander.  "That was fairly rude."

"I could've kicked you harder and broken ribs," he offered, sitting up.  "Talk fast.  We've been on a plane for the last ten hours."

"Grandson," Patrick chastised, growling at him.

"They're rude!"

"I do not care.  You may not be rude no matter who is rude to you.  I taught you better."

"Fine."  He glared at the other one but he didn't seem like a threat.  He looked at him.  "We're going to the townhouse for dinner.  If you wish to you can accompany us.  The first threat and *I* deal with it.  Am I clear?"  They both nodded.  "Then let's go."  Mac tapped on the window and the driver went on.  "Ambushing is very dumb with the way we've been attacked by your kind."

"The others wouldn't have let us do it less subtly," the younger one said calmly.  "I am sorry about the precipitous visit."

"Are we in more danger?" Don asked.

"No.  They've decided to leave you alone after two nearly died."  Xander shrugged when everyone stared at him.  "You do protect your family very well."

"They're my family, of course I do.  If I lose them all I have are friends."

"Most of us truly don't want to bother you but we do need some things cleared up.  Including how you knew what to do in Sunnydale."

"I told the one to write out questions," Don pointed out, pulling Xander back against him.  He looked at him.  "What did you do?"

"Made a few take a flying leap," Xander admitted. "You don't grab me and try to drag me into an alley and you don't try to kidnap me coming out of lunch either.  Tony would be proud of me."

"I'm proud," Sire promised, smiling at him.  "You've been an excellent guard for both of us the whole trip, Xander.  For now, relax.  Let Mac and Don do it."  Xander nodded, relaxing again.   They pulled up in front of the townhouse a few minutes later, getting out to head inside.  They dropped their things and came down to find both Watchers waiting patiently.  Xander went to answer the door, smiling at the delivery guy.  "Who ordered already?"

"Tony," Xander said, taking the food.  "Prepaid?"  It got a nod and he signed the slip, letting him have it back once he had put a modest tip on it.  The delivery guy ran off.  He walked in the food, handing it over.  "Forged your name, Grandfather."

"That's fine, Xander."  He took his own small box of food to nibble on, waving a hand.  "What do you want to know?"

"How did your health improve?  Was it simply slayer's blood?" the younger one asked.

Patrick shook his head.  Sire coughed. "One of my other children is a witch and she helped," Raphael told them.  That got a nod and he made notes.  "She removed or shrank most of the tumors beyond what we had been able to do."  He opened his box and looked at Patrick's changing with him.  "Thank you, childe."

"Welcome, grump," he teased.  Raphael gave him that special 'you're getting spanked later' look.  Then he ate a bite of food.

Xander leaned back.  "I asked Willow if she would ask Buffy for some blood.  She and Rupert explained why I was asking and they sent it to us."

"Any special preservatives?" the second watcher asked.

"Magic," Xander told him.  "Faster than UPS any day."  He ate another bite at Don's odd look.  "It is."

"I'm sure it is but that stuff scares me."

"I can barely summon the remote, Uncle Don."

"That makes me a lot happier."  He stared at him.  "Who're we gonna see on my birthday?"

"Lakers," he said smugly.

Don blinked.  "That game's been sold out forever!"

"I know.  Emma got offered them."  He grinned.  The house phone rang and he answered it.  "House 'o Xander lovin'."  He snickered.  "Hi, Emma.  Just talking about you.  What's up?"  He ate a bite, nodding.  "Not this weekend.  Horatio's coming up.  No, I'm not going to dump my best friend or boyfriend for a few hours.  I won't see him again until the holidays."  He smirked when she made shocked noises.  "What?  We've been dating since I moved.  After the open house."  He ate another bite.  She asked something.  "No, that's why I'm a bit frustrated, dear.  Things keep getting in the way."  He frowned.  "We have hidden areas set up in the city for emergencies.  We were going to hide in one.  Why?"  He ate another bite.  "That's really nice.  Why?"  He choked.  "Excuse me?"

Raphael took the phone.  "What do you want our grandson to do this time?" he asked.  He blinked, looking at him.  "Wasn't the bathing suit small enough?"  He sighed, looking at Patrick.  "She wants him to model a new underwear designer's stuff."  He shook his head.  "She's offering them a honeymoon weekend in payment."  Patrick shook his head again.  "Patrick said he couldn't stand to see him in anything that skimpy, Emma.  Dear, we know he's modeled in less.  The first I knew about his second career was when I woke up to a twelve-foot ass across from my apartment in LA."  He smirked.  "Yes, that ad.  I'm sure it was very good for the pound.  As long as he's at least somewhat clothed this time, dear.  Remember, our Xander is more than really great abs."  He smiled.  "Exactly."  He sighed, looking at Patrick.  "One very skimpy thong?  Xander with his hands on his hips or whatever, giving them a 'I'm good and comfortable' look."

"Thongs aren't that comfy," Xander said.  He took the phone back.  "Why me and not someone more famous?  Well, I'd offer Uncle Don....."  Don choked.  "But he's modest."  She cackled.  "He is.  Anything else come up?"  He sat up, listening.  "I can easily do that.  Thank you.  No, not this weekend.  Thank you.  Sure, let me know Monday."  He hung up and looked at them.  "The pound needs me again."

"Am I going to have to shoo more people away from your ad in Times Square?" Don asked.

Xander shrugged.  "Only if I'm very good.  It's good for them.  Did you get the pictures of the horse?"

"I did.  It's so cute I let Montana hold 'em for me for a few days to lighten her mood," Don said, stuffing his mouth again, looking at the Watchers.  "Yes, it's like this when the family gets together.  What're you wearing to dinner tomorrow?"

"My dark gray armani?" he suggested.  Patrick nodded it would be appropriate.  "Can I get a nipple ring?"  Both grandparents shook their heads.  "Please?"

"No," Raphael said. "Or any other extra holes, grandson.  It could limit your career."

"I can take it out for shoots if I have to," Xander complained.  "The one with the fake one went very well.  I looked drool-worthy."

Patrick looked around his sire at him.  "What shoot was this?"

Xander beamed.  "When Emma talked me into not going to the chocolate factory.  On Lake Zurich."

They all shook their heads.  "For who?" Mac asked.

"A jeweler locally.  He was looking for a hipper audience appeal.  I looked damn hot in the emerald ring and all the other stuff they put on me."

"Does that mean you're already pierced?" Don asked.

"No, he laid it overtop of my nipple.  That way he could draw those who had one but wouldn't offend those who didn't.  A bit of titillation for the older crowd. I got to suck on the sixty carat ruby too."  He ate a bite of his grandfather's food, then went back to his own.  "Next question?"

The Watchers blinked, then smiled.  "You're a normal, average family aren't you?" the younger asked.

"Pretty muchly," Patrick agreed with a smile.  "We've raised Xander since he was five."  He stroked over his hair.  "I want to see those."

"They'll be in the magazine you subscribe to starting month after next."

"Your copies?"

"I only got one for the portfolio.  He kept the others."  He leaned against his side.  "Before you ask, I'm not going to be turned.  I don't think I can stand watching the people I care for die.  I was having enough problems watching Grandfather die slowly through the years.  You know, Don could go to the ball this year."

Don shook his head. "No way in hell, kiddo."

"It's an all white ball, there's always a planned distraction, and it's usually fun," Xander offered.  Don gave him a look.  "It'd look good.  You are family and on the board.  I'm sure Mac's been asked."

"Stella was," Mac admitted.  "I'm going to be out of town for the holidays."  He looked at Don.  "The Christmas Lights one."  Don gave him a horrified look.  "You would look good."

"Xander could go with you," Patrick suggested.  "That way he could find you a mentor when you needed it, Don.  After all, he'll be too busy to fly up for all the gay charity events New York has soon," he said at the pout.  "That would be a help to him."

"I hate those things.  They're boring, people talk about stupid stuff, and lie about their mistresses' beauty."

"Beats polo," Xander said dryly.  "That's tailgating and listening to the same things while watching horses run back and forth with riders knocking around a small ball.  Now and then you get to get up and stomp down the field again."

"Sounds ...boring," Don agreed.  He shook his head.  "Can't I let Stella do those?  Or Mac?"  Patrick gave him a look and he sighed. "They'll pick on me.  You know that."

"Then go to the PD events," Mac suggested.  "Go to the major gay events up here or the ones Xander can't get to.  That way you're with the department but doing your family duty."

"Until he has to bear heirs," Xander quipped.

Don gave him an evil look.  "You first.  I'm an heir by marriage, you're the real heir."

"Unlike you, who deal with people who want to make you a fun toy to destroy, I have sperm in storage in case I do something stupid.  I've even been asked how high my stud fees were," he said smugly.  Patrick gave him another look while Don and Mac both choked.  "Prentiss's big sister has a boyfriend who kinda looks like me but he's got little blue pill problems from a motorcycle crash last year," he said dryly.  "I told her I wouldn't care but she'd have to share custody with me.  She didn't like that and went to ask Tony."

Don finally gasped.  "Excuse me?"

"We made him put some  in when he was sixteen," Raphael told him.  "He does stupid things like disarm bombs on crime lab hummers and then not tell anyone."

"When I was coming to save you guys I hit one-eighty," Xander said proudly.

"I'm taking the keys to the porsche," Don said.  He sipped some  of the water Mac got him.  "I might consider storing some.  Dad'll say stuff but it's a wise move.  He's still the heir so it's more important he have kids."

"I'll arrange it while we're up here," Raphael said happily.  "How much do we have of yours, Xander?  I know the stalker took out the first set."

"Six vials.  The doc said it should be enough for at least two kids."  He snuck a bite of his grandsire's food, smiling at the Watchers.  "What else did you need to know?"

"Any new stalkers?" Mac asked.

"Not until the family curse hits me," Xander told him.  "Then I'll hide.  I'll hide a lot."  Both grandparents nodded.  "See?"

"Family curse?" the younger Watcher asked.

"It's on my family," Patrick told him.  "When we've found a good, true mate, male or female, any son of the line is feted for four years to make sure the relationship is strong.  Sire called it 'that annoying money making scheme for the family' a few times when I had mine."  He looked at him.  "It should have already started."

"No sex yet.  Your grandfather's journal said his didn't start until they had sex."

"I'll warn Tony," Raphael promised, putting down the empty box.  "Xander, why don't you call Horatio and make him want to go home?"

"He's got a society kidnaping."  They all looked at him.  "The Lorens daughter.  Not so sure she didn't run off but they're trying hard to find her.  I texted him when we landed."

"Good to know," Patrick said. "He does know...."  Xander nodded.  "Is Tony helping?"

"Yup and he thinks she ran away."  He snuggled into his grandsire's shoulder.  "What else was wanting to be added?"

"We got his account of his turning," the younger one said.  "I read it when it came to Sunnydale.  I was sent to take over for Rupert when he got fired.  Unfortunately."  They all nodded at that. "I did have some questions from that."  He pulled out an envelope, opening it to look over his questions, also taking out a pen.  Patrick took it and the pen, smiling at him.  "You're sure?"

"I can answer them, young one.  Anything else?"  The other one handed over another envelope.  "I'll do that.  Come back Sunday afternoon for tea and we'll talk some more.  All right?"  They  nodded, heading out to go home.  He looked over the questions.  "The young one's questions are much more worthy.  Better thought out, more grammatically correct.  Ripper said he was a young, cocky bastard."

"Probably inexperience in the field," Sire agreed.  He looked down at Xander.  "You should go to bed.  It's been a long day."  He yawned and nodded, going up to his room.  He looked at the two native ones.  "We'll be fine, Mac."

"I've asked the local patrol to do a half-hour check on you while you're here because of Xander's problems.  They agreed it would be better after hearing about his former stalker."  He stood up.  "Don, give you a ride home?"

"Sure."  He grinned.  "I'll be back tomorrow while he's out being a princess with the princess," he teased.  That got a set of smiles and he hugged them, whispering in Patrick's ear before leaving with Mac.

"He is such a sweet boy,"  Patrick said happily.  "They'll be adorable children if we can help him find a worthy woman."

"Xander's will treat you like a jungle gym," Raphael said, putting an arm around his shoulders so he could read the questions too.  He looked at one and snorted.  "That's a bit rude to ask."  Patrick smiled at him.  "It is rude to ask if we can still have sex."

"There's contradictory information."

"Uh-huh."  They kept going, writing out the simpler answers tonight.  They'd do the longer ones tomorrow before Don came over while Xander was getting pretty.


Horatio came off the plane, smiling at the boy meeting him.  "Are you all right?"  His hair was messy in a bad way and he looked like he had been mobbed.

"Boy band up the hall.  I accidentally got between their fans and the waiting area for them."  Horatio gave him a hug.  "Bag?"  He patted it.  "Cool."  He walked him off, smiling at the guard who gave him an odd look.  "The girls."

"Security risk," he complained.  "They wanted it and got the airport to agree to letting their fans in."

"They'll be gone soon," Horatio promised, going on with Xander bouncing beside him.  "You might want to straighten out your hair.  I can smell perfume and cameras."  Xander did that, walking him into the exit area of the airport.  They were pounced by two reporters.  "What's going on this time?" he asked dryly.

"I don't know.  Guys?  What's going on?"

"You're all messed up," one said, taking another picture.  "Snogging session?"

"Groupies," Xander said.  "Not even mine, I got between them and the doorway."  He led Horatio off to his rental car, letting him get in first then walking around to drive, waving at them.  He slid in and locked the doors, looking at Horatio.  "Do I look like we've been kissing?"

"A bit messy but otherwise no swollen lips or any other obvious signs."  Xander smiled, starting the car and pulling out.  "I'm going to have to deal with that at work soon."

"Have you told Yelina?"

"I'm fairly certain she knows but she's not admitting it.  I did tell Ray Junior and he snickered the whole time.  He thought it was cute I was dating a model."  Xander snickered, shifting up as they moved onto the main road.  "No speeding."

"Wasn't planning on it.  Traffic's too bad," he quipped.


"It is."  He grinned.  "So, who hit on you?"

"Everyone," he moaned.  Xander took his hand to hold, giving it a squeeze.  "Thank you.  I got asked when you were coming back."

"The holidays."

"Early or late?  I know there's a number of events you usually hit in December."

"We'll be back the week after Thanksgiving.  Of course, if you'd like to spend it in Sri Lanka with us you're more than welcome to."

"I'll spend it with Yelina."

"How's the other Ray issue going?"

"I told Yelina.  She's a bit huffy.  She wants to fill his grave."  Xander nodded at that, moving around a driver who had his hazards flashing.  He moved back into the proper lane once they were past him.  The driver behind them started to honk.  He looked back.  "What is his issue?"

"I don't know," Xander admitted.  "I passed legitimately.  He's going slower than the minimum speed."  He shrugged, taking the next exit.  "A bit too soon but if he follows us I can lose him in traffic."  He looked at him.  "I have a new ad to show you."

"You got preview copies?"

"I did.  Grandfather thought they were alluring but tasteful."  He grinned, driving them to the house with a small stop for ice cream.  They got out with their cones, Xander taking the bag inside with him.  He had to come back out to turn on his alarm but that was fine with him.  He closed the door and went inside.  "We're back!"

"They're at the museum," Horatio said, holding up a note.

"Good."  He stole a kiss with a smile.  "They're in the folder on the table."  He sat down beside him, letting him look at the ads.  He saw the shiver at the one of the emerald hoop earring circling his nipple.  "I asked, I can't get a real one."  He took another lick of his ice cream cone, cleaning up the dripping.  Horatio gave him a look.  "A few of the others said they feel nice."

"I'm sure they do."  He stole another kiss, finishing his ice cream while Xander finished his.  He carefully put the ads down again and pounced once he had eaten the last bite of cone.

"I've missed you."

"Missed you too," he panted between kisses, his hands going into the red hair to pull him closer.  Horatio ended up on top of him, grinding gently against him.  "Dinner?"

"With the grandparents and then we're disappearing all weekend."  He took another long, deep kiss.  At least until the door opened.  Then he looked at the person standing there.  "Hey, Stella.  No one else is here."  He went back to kissing Horatio, making her blush.

"Okay.  No idea where Don is?"  Xander flailed a hand at the cabinet so she went to look, finding a GPS monitor with his name on it. "Thanks, guys.  His phone's broken and he's broken down."  She scurried out, closing the door behind her.  Lindsay gave her an odd look.  "His boyfriend's down."

"Ooh.  Okay."  They got into the car, going to save Don from the Bronx.


Horatio looked around the emergency condo, smiling at his boyfriend.  "Someone came in to decorate."

"I did that yesterday," he said sheepishly.  He nodded.  "Shower?  I believe that's where we were going to start last time."

Horatio moved closer, pulling him back against him.  "I think I want  you dry tonight."  He kissed him, walking him into the bedroom.  The sheets on the bed were very soft cotton ones.  He lit the two candle jars on the side tables, turning off the overhead lights.  It was barely enough light but he did find the things he'd need later, plus a few other things.  "Xander, were the sex toys part of the emergency plan?" he asked.  Raphael was a bit kinky....

"Not really, not unless I get trapped here without you."  He came over to help Horatio out of his shirt. "I figured we could play sometime later if I wore you out."  Horatio groaned, letting Xander do whatever he wanted for now.  He was definitely good at what he was doing as he nipped his way down to his belt line.  He got his pants undone and off, tossing them into the chair with his shirt.  Xander moved to his knees, gently nuzzling and then sucking on the hard cock in front of him.

Horatio moaned, wrapping his fingers in the soft hair.  "I taught you to do that very well."

"You did."  He moved them, making Horatio lay down so he could strip off for him.  He finally tossed his last piece of clothing onto the chair then pounced, making Horatio laugh until he cut off his oxygen by sucking him straight down again.  Horatio let himself arch up.  They'd done this enough that Xander knew what he was doing even if he thrashed around some.  Xander did something he hated, leaving him hanging, but this time it had a better reason than the phone.  He pulled him up to kiss him, stroking down his back.


"Please?"  Horatio smiled and nodded, pulling the lube closer.  Horatio stopped there, making him stare down at him.  "Did I forget something?"

"Waiting to make sure the phone won't be ringing."

"My cell's back at the house.  Yours?"

"My bag and they all know I'm out of town this weekend."  He opened the bottle of lube, letting some slide out onto his fingers.  "Did you want to play with the toys?"  Xander growled, pouncing him to kiss him.  "It's a good way to stretch you."

"Plastic after the real thing.  Nothing's going to compare to the real thing so why would I want to expect less?"

"That almost made sense," he teased, sliding one finger into him.  Xander squeezed around it then let him do whatever he wanted.  "How do you want to do this, Xander?  Any fantasies?"

"You're on top?" he panted, squeezing again.  "More, please?"

"Impatient," he said, but he did slide in a second finger once it had more lube.  Xander was shifting on his fingers even before he found his prostate.  Horatio kept it slow and gentle even though his boy was losing his mind.  He finally flipped them over, having to hold him down before he wiggled his way off the bed.  "Deep breath," he said quietly.  Xander inhaled and held it, making him smile.  "You can let it out."  As he did, Horatio added another finger.  Xander winced a bit but that eased after a few seconds.  The boy definitely wanted and was ready.  He looked at the condom then at him.  He decided to put it on but Xander threw it.  "Xander...."

"You know very well I'm so clean I squeak and I know you don't have anything.  I know you're not cheating on me.  You haven't been exposed to any funny blood or anything."  Horatio moaned.  "This one time?"

"This one time," he promised, moving into a better position.  He pulled Xander's feet up over his shoulder and shifted a bit closer.  "Push out when I start to push," he instructed, sliding into the carefully prepared hole.  Xander squeezed so he stopped but Xander whimpered and shifted, trying to get him deeper so he finished sliding in slowly, gently making each thrust deeper until he was all the way in.  He paused and Xander gave him a look that said he was going to knock him onto his back and ride him if he didn't keep going.   He laughed and smiled.  "Good?"

Horatio found himself on his back with Xander looking down at him.  "Yes, but I'm bouncy.  Remember, I had pudding."  He slowly shifted his hips, getting a feel for this.  Horatio braced him and he made it most of the way up, letting himself drop again.  Horatio grunted in pain so he calmed himself down a little bit.  Not much but enough so he wasn't going to bruise his boyfriend too badly.  His arms.... well, Xander was holding on there.  He had long sleeve shirts.  He hoped.  He kept going, making himself happy.  At least until he got close and Horatio put him back onto his back, earning a pout.  Horatio kissed him and went back to thrusting into him, making him shriek in pleasure when that little spot was hit again.  "Needed that!" he panted, arching up into the next thrust.

"You'll find out how to hit that on top too," he promised.  "In all the other positions," he panted, speeding up.  "Love me?"

"For years now," Xander said, pulling him down to kiss him.  "Mine?"

"Yours," he promised, smiling at him.  "Ready?"

"Not yet."


"I know but later?"

"You'll be sore but we'll play in the tub."

"With the toys?"

Horatio thrust in extra-hard for the impish grin he got with that suggestion.  "We'll see."  He went back to making Xander brainless.  He loved the moaning, squealing, and shrieking he was doing.  Someone might've knocked on the wall or something from the noise but oh well. Your first time should be great.  He finally came and Xander whimpered but a few good pulls on his cock and he came too, going limp on the bed.  Horatio laid down beside him, stroking over his stomach and chest.  "You okay?" when they had both returned to normal breathing and heart rates.

"You're right."

"About what?"

"Being sore."

Horatio kissed him, smiling at him.  "That'll ease the more you do it."  Xander flipped onto his stomach to kiss him.  "We'll be gentle the next time."

"Hmm.  Why?"  He kissed him again.  "More?"

"I still need recovery time.  We talked about this the second time we played," he teased.

"Pity."  He got up with a wince, pulling Horatio up with him.  "Blow out the candles.  We'll go soak?"  Horatio did that on the way to the tub, finding Xander was even putting in bubbles.  They slid in together, getting comfortable with Xander against his chest.  Xander fell asleep on his chest and Horatio shifted in the deluxe tub.  No jets or anything like that in this tub, unlike the one at the house, but it was comfortable enough.  He yawned, drifting off too.  He loved being Xander's pillow.  It was one of the best ways to combat both their nightmares.


Xander woke up in the morning, looking at Horatio.  "Did Tony call?"

"Thought the problems would start automatically?"

"From a few of the journals?  Yeah."  He snuggled in again.  "No calls?"

"No.  We haven't been out yet.  I'm sure they'll start when we do."  He stroked over Xander's back, making him shiver and give him a squeeze.  "Did you want to order or did you want me to cook?"

"I bought groceries."

"I'll go cook breakfast while you change the bed.  It's sweaty."  Xander smiled, nodding at him.  He got another squeeze.  "That means we both have to get up," he said dryly, smirking at him.

"Tough.  Comfy."  He yawned and shifted his hips, wincing some.  "I think I need the stiff muscle cure again, Horatio."

"Using it again won't make it any less sore."

"Does my shoulder."

"It won't with those muscles."  He gave him a gentle swat, getting a grin.  "Behave."

"Nope."  He wiggled into Horatio's lap, planting himself back down onto him.  He felt Horatio finish hardening as he rode him.  Horatio shifted his hips for him, letting him hit that spot.  Xander let out a shriek of pleasure, hitting it repeatedly until he came.

Horatio kissed him.  "Greedy."  He put him onto his hands and knees, getting behind him to 'punish' him for going off without letting him come.  He slid back in, making sure the muscles didn't look torn or inflamed. A bit too pink but Xander wasn't complaining.  He moved slowly at first, building up to a good, hard, fucking rhythm that was shaking the whole bed.  The sounds were muffled by a pillow but he didn't care.  He could hear enough to make him growl.  He leaned down to bite him on the shoulder. "Mine?" he growled.

"Yours," Xander panted. "Please yours?"  Horatio slammed in, making him come again.  "Horatio!"  Horatio came, he could feel it.  Xander went limp, his lover following to tongue-bathe the mark he had put on him.  "Hmmm.  Nice," he said quietly.  Horatio chuckled.  "Nap now then breakfast later?"

"Nap now, breakfast later," Horatio promised, yawning a bit himself.  He cuddled the strong back, nibbling on the back of his neck until he heard the first snore.  He smiled, adjusting his position so Xander wouldn't have to bear all his weight.  He let himself fall asleep on his back, holding him.  Breakfast could wait until lunch or dinner.


Xander gave the guards staring at them a shy grin, waving some.  "Hi, guys."  It was late Sunday night and it was time to go home for dinner.  Neither one had the energy to cook and Horatio had to leave in the morning.

"Mr. Benis," one greeted.  "Your grandparents wanted you to call when you returned to the rest of the city."  Horatio snickered.  "Going sightseeing?  We can get you a cab."

"I drove," Xander admitted.  "Thanks anyway."  He walked out with Horatio, going to the parking garage.  He knew they were snickering about how he was barely able to walk but that was fine.  He gave Horatio his keys, sliding into the front seat to sit on his hip this time.  Horatio gave him a gentle kiss.  "I can be sore, it was worth it."

"It was," Horatio agreed, starting the engine once they were buckled up.  He drove them back to the townhouse, letting Xander get out but coming around to help him up the few stairs and inside to a softer couch.  Xander hissed as he sat down but Horatio let him cuddle to take the weight off his poor, abused backside.

Patrick looked in.  "Did you spank him?"

"Spankings are a punishment, not fun," Xander said tiredly, yawning.  He fell asleep there.

Horatio gave him a sheepish look.  "I tried to stay gentle."

"Horatio, I remember my first time and being that age.  I'm sure you two had more than one bout of sex.  At that age it's all about the stamina you can show off.  Which I'm sure he has a lot of."  Horatio nodded quickly, blushing now.  "Is he torn?"

"No, I made sure earlier," he admitted quietly.

"Good.  I'll let Tony know to start expecting the problems and presents."  He walked off, smiling at his mate.  "Xander cannot sit," he said quietly.

"Really?"  He smiled, taking a kiss.  "Torn?"  Patrick shook his head.  "Then Horatio's his personal sex god and it'll be cute to watch."  He took him back up to their room to tease his poor childe again.  If Xander had a sexual appetite like Patrick, Horatio would need recovery time.


Tony walked into the crime lab, smiling at Eric.  "Horatio said to tell you he called off today."

"He's coming back tonight?" he asked.

"Next Monday.  Mac ended up with a crossover case and the Chief said to stay up there to help him."  He handed over the information file.  "Speed here?"

"Office growling at the paperwork."

"I've done much of that," Tony said dryly, heading up there.  He tapped before walking in.  "Horatio's taking care of the crossover case."

"Thank God.  He able to walk?"

"Xander can't," he admitted with a grin.  Speed smiled.  "Fair warning, the press caught them out this morning.  Xander was looking at nipple rings according to him."

"Uh-huh."  He smirked.  "Did the family curse hit yet?"

"I'm not so sure the crossover case wasn't."  He nodded.  "Need help?"

"Please."  He let him have a few of the forms. "When is he coming back?"

"Next Monday."  Someone stomped in.  "Morning, Stetler.  Horatio's dealing with the new crossover case.  He sent it to me so I came to hand it over and help Speed."  He filled out a few more boxes, then handed it back.  The next one he had done many times at the federal level so it was quickly done.  "I almost miss doing all Gibbs' paperwork for him," he sighed, shaking his head.

"I'll hire you to do this while he's gone," Speed offered. "Out of pocket even."

Tony grinned. "I've got word from Fed Ex that they're bringing something from Paris today."  That got an odd look.  "From Xander for the house.  Which means it's probably a statue of some sort.  This way the guards don't feel like I'm supervising."  He got back to work.

"How do you know Miami's paperwork?" Stetler asked.

"Not much different than NCIS paperwork," he told him.  "Gibbs hated paperwork.  Whoever looked bored usually got it and I looked bored a lot on paperwork days."  He kept going once Stetler had shaken his head.  He handed back one.  "Can't fill out manpower for you."

"Crap."  Speed filled that out, putting it into the box.  "Any other good news from New York?"

"Don's going to store some sperm too in case something happens to him.  Xander taunted him into it.  Patrick's feeling a lot better since whoever they ran into in Istanbul is better at the healing stuff than Ethan is."  His phone rang.  "DiNozzo," he answered.  He listened. "Is it pretty?"  He nodded.  "Put it in the garden room.  Screw with the potted plants to highlight it."  He hung up.  "Bronze male nude figure, nearly life-size.  Uncut.  No head.  Not solid thankfully."  His phone rang again.  "DiNozzo."  He blinked.  "Huh.  Remember, something that can't get in the way," he said quietly.  "Look around, find something that says the right things to you."  He smiled.  "If he agrees.  Ask him."  He laughed.  "I'm happy, boss.  Oh, the bronze statue is here."  He blinked.  "Nude, uncut male without a head?"  He nodded.  "Conservatory.  Where did you want it?"

He nodded.  "That'll look beautiful.  I'll tell them.  How many more?"  He winced.  "Sure, boss."  He hung up and called the house.  "I was wrong.  The boss overruled me.  He said the big nook in the hallway.  The one we pulled the armor out of for him.  That one.  There's more coming.  Some paintings, some not.  The other bronze one goes into the ballroom and the marble one too.  No, I'll let him arrange it when he gets home at the holidays.  Put them out of the way but in the right room.  That'll work.  Thanks, guys."  He hung up.  "Xander went on a thief's dream shopping trip in Paris apparently."  Speed snickered.  "He's got good taste. I'll have to get the insurance guy out to look at everything."  He shook his head.  "He's not going to be happy when he sees the new premiums."  He looked at Stetler.  "Want to help us move things?"

"No thank you.  You're closer to menial labor than I am."

"The boss can arrange it when he gets home," Tony assured him.  "He's very strong."  Rick walked out snickering.  "And Horatio would probably help," he said dryly but quietly.  Speed nodded.  "By the way, Xander can't walk."

"It's been two years," he complained quietly.

"They both had some worries so they did everything *but* that."

"Wow.  I knew H had self-control."  Tony nodded.  "How badly can't he walk?"

"Sire said he can't walk, can't sit, and had soup for lunch.  It's going to be a few days before he can sit."  Speed snickered, nodding at that.  The phone rang.  "Grand Central Station, smut desk, which pro can I direct your call to?" he answered.  He smiled.  "Hey, Gibbs.  What's wrong?"  He laughed.  "Really?  Why did you get given a diamond choker?"  He blinked.  "That was fast.  Sure, send it down.  Or better yet, send it back.  To the store is fine.  Tell them to call me directly since you're not on staff.  Thanks, man.  The family curse has begun," he said happily.  "Sure."  He hung up.  "Someone sent Xander jewelry."

"That's nice.  H will growl."

"He'll probably sell and donate half of it each year," Tony said, waving a hand.  "He's like that."  He got back to work.

"Sure you wouldn't rather be moving artwork?"

"Yup.  Statues are heavy and paperwork only makes me sleepy.  Sleepy is better than sore for bad reasons."

"True," Speed agreed, putting another form aside.  "No wonder H never makes it home."

Tony leaned over and looked.  "Check the second box, the fourth box on the next page, and then find the one that fits best on the last page.  Sign and date."  He leaned back, going back to his form of the moment. Speed did as ordered and put it aside.  "By the way, I'm forging your name."

"That'll work. I'm using mine too.  That way they know why things were screwed up if they were."  He finally cleared the desk right before lunch, letting Tony go home to look at the pretty new artwork.


Ryan came in the next morning.  "Remind me to resist Tony's charm," he complained to Calleigh.


"I went to help move things.   Tony had to call in favors.  I'm surprised you didn't get a call."

"I had a date.  My phone was off.  How many statues did he buy?"

"Two and four small ones for on top of tables.  Unfortunately nine arrived and an extra six paintings."  He hobbled off.  "Going for the tylenol to empty the box."

"Sure, I'll put you on for last case today," she promised.  She went to find Speed, who was groaning in Trace.  "Did you help Tony too?"  He nodded without looking up.  "Did he forget he bought some?"

"Family curse," he said blandly, looking at her.  "Ryan and Eric?"

"I haven't seen Eric and Ryan went for the box of tylenol."

"He'd better not call off," Speed complained, calling Eric.  "Why are you in an airport?" He blinked. "Why are you in the ER and who's arriving?"  He listened then nodded once. "When you can.  Bring me the papers."  He hung up and called Tony.  "Only ask us to break ourselves on our day off, okay?  Eric's in the ER.  Sure.  Thanks, man.  Tell Xander."  He hung up and put his head back down.  "Eric threw his back."

"I'll take first case.  You and Ryan can flip for the next one."  He nodded once so she went to ballistics to grab her phone. She called Xander herself.  "What family curse?"  He told her and she stared at the wall.  "Really?"  He said something else and she snorted. "Is that why you got the extra artwork?"  He groaned at that but told her about the person who had stolen a park horse and carriage to take him on a romantic ride.  "Tell Horatio Eric's in the ER....  He's actually working?"  She smiled.  "Sure.  Tell him to call me then."  She hung up, getting a call from dispatch before she could put on her labcoat.  "Going on a call," she called as she walked out with her kit.

Ryan looked up at the ceiling.  "I will beg if you make it the only homicide today," he prayed. "Please?  I'll even go back to church soon."   He finished swallowing another tylenol and brought Speed a few.  "Where's Delko?"

"ER.  He threw his back.  They've got him knocked into tomorrow on pain killers."

"Charming.  Head's or tails?"

"I'll go but I'm going to make someone miserable."  He looked at him.  "Four years of this family curse."

"We'll get to sit back and watch Tony go insane."

Speed nodded, looking at his phone when it rang.  "Front desk."  He walked out there slowly, looking at her.  She pointed at the delivery guy.  He looked at the form then at him.  "This is a police station.  He doesn't live here.  We're not a delivery service either.  Send it to his home or to his grandparents' home."  He turned and walked off.  "Tell the any others that show up the same thing," he ordered.

"Yes, Speedle."  She shrugged at the delivery guy.  "Long night moving stuff."  He smiled at her.  "Do you have the address?"

"No, that's why it got sent here.  They knew his best friend worked here."  She wrote it out on a post-it, sticking it on top of the box.  "His?"

"Grandparents' house. He'll stop there first."  That got a smile and a nod then the delivery boy left.  She made a note and taped it on the front of the desk.  Stetler paused on his way past, then gave her an evil look. "Speedle said so.  Someone tried to deliver it to the Lieutenant to get it back to him.  By the way, he's in a *bad* mood because they were moving things last night."

"Who moved this time?" he demanded.

"Xander got sent more artwork than he bought," Ryan said as he came out.  He glanced at the note, smiling.  "If it helps.  Gibbs got sent a few things too.  Freaked out his director badly when the diamond choker came in his name to his desk."  He pushed the button for the elevator.  "I'm on for the next case. Take messages if someone calls?"  She nodded.  "Thanks.  What sort of delivery?"

"The type a girl would love in a velvet box."

"Someone sent Xander a two-thousand dollar painting," Ryan told her.  "A really hideous two-thousand dollar painting of a scruffy dog."  He got onto the elevator.  "Keep track for Horatio if you can."  The doors closed and he headed off.

"Why send them to Caine?"

"He's Xander's best friend.  He'd know how to get it to him," she said simply.  She started a new sheet of what had been sent.  "What should I do if it's food?"

"Send it to DiNozzo."  He walked off shaking his head.  This was already ridiculous.  He went to complain to the Chief, who called Horatio, and they had a long talk about why they were sending Xander things to him.  He agreed with Speed, send it to one of their houses.


Tony was leaned back in his chair with a warm compress over his eyes when someone knocked on the office door.  "I'm going to snap and kill people."

"Abby would be very disappointed," Gibbs said, coming in to lift up the cloth.  "Bad day?"

"Family curse," he said grimly.  "Xander got sent some really ugly artwork and about half a mil in jewels."

"Make it closer to two."  He dropped a few boxes onto the table.  "Including a girly piece."  He looked at him.  "Why am I getting it?"

"They don't have the home address so they send it to someone who would know how to get it to us.  I told you to send it back.  Abby would have fun with that.  Ziva too, boss."

"She did.  The person sent it back after killing herself."

"Huh.  Ziva okay?"

"Abby's pouting.  She said she wasn't that mean, only told the woman Xander was gay."  He gave him a look.  "The director is pissed about this."

"They sent them to the crime lab down here too.  Caine's on a crossover case in New York and they sent it to the crime lab here.  They have a 'go give it to his grandparents' thing going."  He put the cloth back.  "Any idea who sent them so I can send the others back and give that one to her heirs?"

He put down the folder.  "Any idea what's going on?  What family curse?"

"Started back when time was running backwards," he said, sitting up, putting the cloth aside.  "Anytime a male heir of the line finds a good and true mate, by all the journals going back as far as Patrick could find, which is the Middle Ages, their relationship is tested to make sure it's strong and will stand.  Because apparently all Benis men need that sort of relationship to stop them from doing stupid things.  Women have to pick carefully or theirs die within a year if they're not strong enough.  Usually right after she got pregnant."  Gibbs stared. "It lasts for four years.  Before you ask, yes I was told what the family curse was.  I laughed.  I'm so stupid."  He put his head down.  "Who?"  The folder was pushed over.  "You know, if you retire, I can hire you to handle this problem.  You can growl, threaten, and all that good stuff."  He opened up the folder, looking at it. "The director bought him a what?"

"Meal.  Sent it up there to him.  Where is your boy?"

"Today he's on a modeling shoot.  Tomorrow he's going to go back to hiding."  He looked at him.  "He could use some advice on wedding rings if you wanted to."


"His boyfriend.  Horatio."  Gibbs gaped.  He nodded.  "Yeah, finally.  Been dating for a few years now.  The family curse started on consummation and vows.  Patrick is giggling and Raphael is having bad flashbacks.  Someone gave Patrick a tattooed elephant during his.  Raphael calls it the family's income generation method."  He put his head back down.  "Want to go to New York?"

"Put someone in front of you, give them one address to send it to in case there's explosives," he ordered.  Tony waved a hand.  "Beyond you.  He can't lose you, he can lose a guard."

Tony looked at him.  "He and I talked about hiring a detective to do that.  Probably someone who had retired.  So, how about it?"

"Fat chance.  Those sort give me hives."

"Half of them wouldn't really want him.  It's like a compulsion.  I sent some things back and got apology letters, boss."  He put his head back down.  "I have a headache."

"Hangover?" Gibbs asked with a smirk.

"Yup.  Drank myself stupid last night after staring at the hideous artwork."  He got up, taking him out to make him look too.  Everyone deserved a headache for that one.  Gibbs shuddered.  "Some have been really good.  That bronze statue in the hall was one of the gifts that was sent.  We have *no* idea who bought it.  It was purchased online and they sent a money gram from an anonymous name and this address."  The doorbell rang so he went to get it.  "Hi," he said, looking at the man standing there.  "What's wrong, Chief?"

"What is going on?"

"The family curse."

"Crap," he muttered.  "I heard about that.  Someone broke into Caine's house to leave him things."

"I'll sit a guard on it until he gets back."

"Thank you.  How bad?"  Tony let him in, taking him back to the room he was hiding the hideous things in.  He looked and shuddered.  "That's ...bad.  I'm sure Xander did better in first grade."

"Looks like someone puked pea soup on a painting of a woman," Gibbs told him. "I'm still saying hire one person and put them in front of things."

Tony looked at him. "Feel like retiring, boss?"

"Not on your life, DiNozzo.  Not for this.  I'll keep sending Abby and Ziva to threaten the people I get."  He walked out shaking his head.

The Chief looked at Tony.  "That's a good idea."

"We talked about hiring a former detective."

"That'd be a good idea.  I'll get you some names from Stetler.  People who can sneer?"  He nodded, earning a smile. "When is he coming back?"

"The week after Thanksgiving."  That got a smile and a nod, then the Chief left.  Tony went back to his hangover, locking that door.  He didn't want to make anyone else look at the ugly things.  He remembered to blindly type in a text message and one of the guards apparently understood whatever he wrote.  He got a cup of cocoa and someone left the house to go watch Horatio's.


Xander leaned out of the changing area when someone called his name.  "I'm stuck.  The pants are too small."  He pulled back, letting the photographer come in.  "See?  I know I haven't gained weight."

"Not since yesterday when we fitted them."  He looked them over, finding a few pins.  That let them go back to the unfitted state they were yesterday.  "Crap.  We need these."

"We need *these* or we need dark blue leather pants?" Xander asked.  "I can call the house and get my leathers."

The photographer looked at him.  "No wonder they called you.  Dark blue or black."  Xander nodded, calling the house.  He walked out shaking his head.  "The fitter left in pins and didn't do anything else," he announced.  "We'll be getting some of his own pants."  That got some nods.  "Take lunch."  He went to his car to call the person who had sent the fitter to chew them a new one.

Xander came out when he got called to the perimeter, smiling at their driver.  "From home?"

"And one of your presents, sir."  He handed them over.  "They said you ordered that and your grandfather wanted to know."

Xander looked then at him.  "I did.  Thank you."  He looked inside the bag.  "Perfect.  Thank you."  He walked back to the changing area.  "Skin tight, tighter than skin, or looser?" he called as he walked past the assistant photographer.

"Try on the tightest and we'll see," she decided, going to get her boss.  "They're here."  He came out, going to check on the boy.  He drooled.  "He has some that are slightly looser," she offered, peeking over his shoulder to see.  "Those are tighter than skin.  Are they cutting off the circulation?"

"Nope, won't for an hour," Xander told her.  He looked at the photographer.  "Up to you."

"Looser?"  Xander shimmied out of them, his back turned to them, sliding into the other pair.  He moaned at them.  "I like those.  Those'll work."  The black leather pants were God's Gift to his mind.  "What's the box?"

"Something I ordered for my boyfriend," he said with a grin.  "It got delivered to the house."  He stuck it into his bag, locking it after they left.  He walked out, taking the shirt the prop person gave him.  He checked the slogan, smiling at 'come have fun in NYC'.  Then he went where pointed out.  "Against the tree or standing.  Did you decide yet?"

"Tree first.  We'll do both."  Xander leaned against the tree, looking like he was watching people.  He snapped a few pictures.  "Now at me, Xander."  He 'watched people' in his direction.  "Good.  Other side?"  Xander did that.  A few more pictures and he had the boy standing in the middle of the park.  "Okay, repeat that."  He watched him for a minute.  "Less wariness, kid.  We want them to visit the city, not fear for their lives.  You look like an avenging superhero."

"You know, most Marvel characters are set in this city," he said dryly, getting a laugh.  "And I do look hot in spandex, as my turn on the gymnastics team showed."  The photographer smiled and snapped the picture when Xander looked at him. They moved him to the playground, snapping pictures of him having fun there.  Then another one in front of a world class restaurant, where Xander got fed without having to ask.  The photographer gave him an odd look.  "Grandparents are inside."  That just got a nod.  He nibbled and they took another few.  Then they wrapped up the 'come to New York for the pleasure' shoot.  He skipped inside to kiss both grandparents, then took the ride back to the site.  He grabbed his bag, checking the present.  He walked out, waving.  "Need the shirt?"  They shook their heads.  It was a cheap tourist t-shirt.  He could have it.  Xander headed out, hitting a cab, taking it to the lab.  He walked in and signed in, smiling at the receptionist.  "Checking in with my dutiful yet tired bodyguard."  She smiled. "Mac?"

"Office, Xander."  He headed that way once he had the visitor's pass.  She shook her head.  "Young and goofy."

Xander hugged Danny.  "Hi, I'm done for the day."

"Good for you.  I'm on the bad end of a double moving to a quad."

"I'll send you dinner," he said.  "Sleeping pills too?"

"Please don't.  Dinner might be nice.  Nothing too spicy this time?"

"Sure.  Meat?"  Danny nodded.  "I'll do that on the way home then."  He grinned, going to Mac's office.  "Am I sending you both dinner too?"  Mac nodded. "Okay."  He smiled, sitting down to get into his bag.  "I'm done for the day."  He gave Mac a look, making him smile and leave them alone. "The grandparents are safely nibbling real food."  He found the box, glancing inside.  He got up, walking over to look at him.  "I wanted to give you something," he said quietly, handing it over subtly.  He hated glass walls.  He wanted to go down on one knee, do this right, but then someone would say something and Horatio would get rumors started.  His career didn't need that problem.  "I planned on doing this a lot differently but you're here and there's too much glass to be too mushy."  He took a deep breath.  "I know you can't wear a ring or another visible marking that could get you in trouble or get in the way."

"Are you proposing?" he teased.

Xander gave him a serous look and nodded.  "Yeah, I am."  He opened the box, showing him the bracelet.  He took it out, putting it onto his wrist.  It was a strong style that wouldn't catch on his clothes, was fairly manly, and the small diamonds and sapphires were set into the chain itself.  No way to fall out or catch either.  "Someday it'll be legal and at that time I'd like you to consider marrying me.  Or moving to Massachusetts, your choice."

Horatio looked at the bracelet then at him, smiling, nodding slightly.  "I accept."  Xander squealed and hugged him, kissing him on the ear.  "We'll tell them later."

"Sure."  He smiled at him.  "Can Tony burn the ugly artwork he can't find the buyer on?"

"We'll sell it and donate the money," he ordered.  Xander nodded.  He looked at the bracelet.  It wasn't too loose, but loose enough to give it some movement.  "I love it."  Xander beamed.  "Thank you.  Yours?"

"You'd be my husband," he teased.

"That means you should have a ring."

"We'll talk about that when I get home this winter."  He winked.  "That way you can figure out where you want it to go."  Horatio moaned.  "I'll send you meat and good stuff for dinner with Mac and Danny."  He glanced around then gave him a quick kiss.  "Be safe.  I'm heading home."

"Where are the clothes you were wearing?"

"The fitter didn't fix the costume so I had to bring stuff from home."  He zipped his bag closed and winked.  "I'll be waiting when you finally get done.  That way you can celebrate and find some soul's ease."  He walked out, bag over his shoulder.  "Okay, Mac.  Want cow, chicken, lamb...  Name a meat bearing beast?"

"Ox," Danny called.

"I know somewhere I can get that," he called back.

"Please don't feed me ox," Danny said, coming to the door.  "Something normal and not that messy."

"Sure."  He smiled and headed out, going to one of his favorite places.  His wallet was a bit light but he had more than enough to buy them thick, heavy calzones for dinner and then hop the subway home.  He had to take his bag back from someone who tried to grab it and run but his head being smacked into a pole was good for him.  He'd learn better or to be more subtle next time.  An older woman looked at him.  "Martial arts."  She just smiled and nodded, appreciating the view.

Mac came back into his office, spotting the small sparkling thing.  "Anniversary?"

Horatio played with it, shaking his head with a smile.  "He proposed for when it's legal.  Or else we're moving to Boston."

"Congratulations.  It's clear you love him; he drives you insane the way my wife did me."  Horatio smiled at that, nodding.  "Did you dress him this morning?"

"Not in that.  The fitter didn't fix what he was supposed to wear so he got clothes from home."  That got a smirk.  "The t-shirt was new."  They settled down to work.


He got home that night, smiling at Raphael.  "Morning."

"It is, barely," he admitted, looking at him.  "Solve it?  You look happy."

"Not about the case."  He let him see his wrist, getting a beaming smile.  "When it's legal."

"Grandson," he said proudly, hugging him.  "Welcome to the family officially.  Remember, even if you fight you'll make up.  All Benis men are stubborn, strong willed, and do what they feel is necessary.  Patrick's nearly sacrificed himself three times so I wouldn't be beaten."  He let him go.  "Keep us up tonight.  You could use the relief."  Horatio blushed but went upstairs to see his man.  Raphael went to call home.  "Thomas, I know it's early.  No, great news!  My grandson has beautiful taste in engagement bracelets.  No, don't announce it yet.  When it's legal.  I'm not sure if he's officially out or not," he admitted.  "We'll see when we get back.  Thank you.  Platinum, small sapphires and diamonds built into the weave so they can't fall out and nothing will catch on his suits.  Beautiful against his skin," he praised.  "How are things?"  He smiled, nodding a bit.  "That'll work.  Thank you."  He hung up, going to tell Patrick the good news.  He'd be so happy!


Tony grumbled as he answered the phone.  "Emergency or otherwise?" he mumbled.  He sat up, blinking.  "He took my advice?" he asked happily.  "Then it's going to be beautiful.  Thanks for the head's up, Gordon.  Did Thomas like any of them to front for the family problem?"  He nodded.  "Thanks, man.  No, he wants to burn them with me but Horatio wants us to sell them and donate them.  There's always people like my mother who would buy them," he said dryly.  "Thanks for the head's up."  He hung up and laid back down, much happier.  Xander had taken his advice about engagement rings.  He'd have to tell Xander's attorney in the morning, get him working on the prenup.  Just in case they didn't want to wait.

Xander was still young.

He'd want something subtle but spectacular that would be a security nightmare.

Horatio's life was in danger from cases.

He'd want something subtle that hopefully wouldn't be more than family.

They'd have sex to see who won the right to plan the guest list.

Unless he got a bit sneaky if he could get Horatio on his side....


Speed looked at Horatio as he came in his first morning back.  "Solve it?"  He got a nod.  "Tired?"

"Not fully."   He smiled, taking off his sunglasses.  Speed caught his wrist, looking at the bracelet they had sealed on his wrist yesterday then at him.  "From Xander," he said quietly.

"Is that like a ...ring perhaps?" he pressed, moving closer.  Horatio smiled and nodded.  He looked at it again then at him.  "I'm letting him pick out mine when I need it."  He let his hand go. "Congrats, H."

"Thank you, Speed.  How big is my stack on my desk?"

"A few.  Tony escaped the present patrol to come help."  He gave him a look.  "You're telling Yelina and Frank.  She'll squeal and he'll cry on me."  He walked off.

"Probably the other way around," he decided, going to check his office.  Then he went to talk to his family.  Calleigh was easily gotten.  So were the other field CSI and the detectives.  He locked them in a room, leaning against the door.  "There is news."

"We figured something major happened since the family curse activated," Eric said, kicking back.  Horatio pushed up his coat sleeve, letting them all see the bracelet.

"Whoa," Frank said, staring.  He looked at him then suddenly grinned.  "It's a cute engagement ring, Caine."   Horatio nodded.  Yelina sniffed and Frank gave him a back- slapping hug.  Calleigh squealed and pounced him for a hug.  Ryan sniffled a bit but offered a good hug as well.

Eric looked at it then at him.  "As long as it's not contagious," he joked, giving him his own hug.  "Do we have a date?"

"Xander proposed for when it's legal."

"You should be turned sometime soon then so you'll still be pretty," Frank told him.  Horatio glared at him.  "It'll be a while, even your boy knows that."

Calleigh nodded.  "He's right."

Yelina coughed.  "We'll have to help him see it should be sooner.  Otherwise it looks like he's playing with my brother-in-law."

Ryan looked at her.  "It took them two years to finally have sex, Yelina."  Horatio gaped.  "Tony was complaining that Xander told him *way* too much detail, Horatio.  Sorry."

"We had our reasons for waiting."  He looked at Yelina.  "Don't threaten him."

"Only if he treats you wrong."  She smiled.  "When are you telling the son?"


"Tonight's wonderful," she promised.  "We'll have dinner."

"So, which one gets to wear white?" Frank asked him.  Horatio swatted at him, scowling.  "You get to tell Alexx."

"I was going to tell her in a minute.  Speed caught it first."  He smiled.  "It will probably be within a few years.  We won't expect presents.  By the way, the note on the front desk?"

"We got about thirty attempts to deliver here," Eric told him.  "Your house got broken into."

"I saw what was left," he admitted.   "Who did the report?"

"Speed," Calleigh said with a smile.  "He had a headache for two days because of it.  What got left?"

He blushed and coughed.  "You don't want to know."  He smiled.  "Due to the department we are keeping this quiet, people."  They all nodded.  "Thank you."  He opened the door so they could leave, him going last to talk to Alexx.  He found his boss down there and smiled. "Sorry, small meeting about something I heard in New York."

"Caine, you know very well society is a sponge for gossip.  Some of the oldest matrons remember Patrick's family curse activating."  He looked at him, finally spotting the bracelet.  "Tasteful.  When?"

"We haven't, um, set a date yet," he admitted.  Alexx dropped her scalpel, staring at him.  He let her see his bracelet.  "He made a joke about me moving to teach forensics at Harvard."

She squealed and pounced him to hug him. "I'm so proud!"  She smiled and looked at it closer.  "That's beautiful work.  Custom?"  Horatio nodded.  "Sealed I see."  She patted him on the cheek.  "As soon as you know I will know the date.  I'll have some shopping to do."

"No presents, Alexx.  He's being annoyed by the present givers he's already got."

"I heard."  She smiled and pinched him on the cheek.  "You can't take our fun, Horatio."  She gave him another hug.  "Pass that on."

"He's leaving New York in a week and a half," he complained.  "I won't see him until after Thanksgiving.  Unless I wanted to go on unpaid leave to go to India, Japan for some anime festival, and then to Sri Lanka and Tibet to visit temples."

"Speed would kill you," she said seriously, making the Chief crack a smile and nod.  "After Thanksgiving?"

"There's some festival in Sri Lanka Patrick wanted to see.  They'll be in Ireland for Halloween too."  He smiled at his boss.  "How was it?"

"Not entirely smooth.  Close enough though.  The case?"

"Her husband."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Us too.  Thank you."

"From what we saw in the paper and heard from various relatives up there, it was necessary."  He gave him a look, earning a blush.  "I heard about your weekend out of sight."

"His first," Alexx chided.  "Xander waited until it was special."

"It would've been in Italy but they tried to kill us," Horatio agreed quietly.

"Huh."  He walked off smiling.  He liked the Benis boy more and more.  He'd treat his favorite headache very well when he retired.

Horatio smiled at Alexx.  "I'd better clear my desk.  I'll send him your love."  He went to hide in his office, shrugging off Stetler being in there.  "Problems?"

"How was New York?" he asked dryly.

"Wonderful except for the case."  He looked at him.  "Why?"

He tossed down a picture.  "I didn't know you had other brothers, Caine."

Horatio looked then at him.  "It's Ray," he said quietly.  "The Feds took him to work for them.  They arranged for his death.  Before you ask, Yelina does know.  This was taken down here?"  He nodded, sneering some.  "I had no idea until Tony told me.  One of his contacts let it slip."

"Wonderful," he said, his voice dripping ice.  "Now what?"

"Yelina said she's buying a new bat and getting Ray Junior his choice of weapon," he said honestly.  Rick gave him an odd look.  "They deserve to hit him first, Rick.  Then me, then you can have him."  He stomped off.  Horatio sighed, studying the picture.  He knew the building behind him.  He'd search his idiot brother out later, though he did call Yelina.  "The people in DC were right.  He's in town," he said quietly.  "Of course.  If you find him first drag him back in cuffs and we'll beat him at your house."  He smiled. "It's not necessary, Yelina. Really.  We won't need anything."  He hung up, staring at the picture for a few more minutes before turning it over and getting to work on the files sitting there.  Speed had cleared his desk until Saturday.  He deserved a reward and a medal for doing some of that paperwork.


Xander felt that 'someone's following me' feeling and stopped to look at a news stand, scanning around him.  Someone looked slightly familiar but he wasn't sure why.  He bought a magazine that had his newest ad and walked on, flipping until he got to his ad.  The person was still following him. He paused again.  It was the almost-familiar man.  He fingered his emergency switch but decided against it.  No need to worry Don and Tony if he didn't have to.  He leaned against the front of a building next to an alley out of the way, pretending to read an article.  The man walked up to him, giving him a better look.  "I know you from somewhere."

"That's funny, I've never met you."

Xander smiled.  "You're Horatio's brother.  You sound like him."

Ray scowled.  "Who are you to Horatio?"

"He's my best friend.  Why?"

"You gave him some expensive jewelry."

"I'm not talking about my relationship with someone who could be one of the asshole bigots who try to blow me up now and then."  Ray blinked then gaped.  He shrugged.  "What did you want, Ray?"

"For you to leave my brother alone.  He doesn't need the stigma of dating someone your age or of being gay."

"Again, that's between Horatio and myself.  We've been best friends since I was a child."

"You're still a child."

"No, I'm an adult.  I can even vote," he assured him.

"You can't drink?" he sneered.

"I *don't* drink," he sneered back, moving off the front of the building.  "You know, that threat could be turned around on you.  He doesn't need a dead person to come make him or his sister-in-law and nephew ache.  Ray Junior especially doesn't need to deal with you suddenly being alive and all the shit you did undercover coming out."  Ray gaped.  "I would *kill* to protect Horatio, Ray.  Am I clear?" he asked calmly.  "Before you say anything, yes I can.  Just because I have a bodyguard doesn't mean I didn't learn very well how to protect myself."  Ray took another step off.  "If you wanted to get to know me as your brother's fiancee, that's up to you.  It might make him happy before Yelina takes a bat to your head.  I offered her some of the antique weapons we've got around the house.  It's your choice."

Xander turned and walked off, but Ray grabbed him, making him flip him.  "Don't touch me.  You're not family yet."  Ray gave him a horrified look so he stared down at him.  "What did you think was going to happen?  I was going to cry and stomp off, break it off with him?  Fat chance."  He strolled off again, getting into a cab and heading home.  He called Horatio once he got inside.  "Your brother was up here."  He sat down, holding his head.  "He said you didn't need the stigma of me.  Tried to get me to leave you.  No, he's fine.  He grabbed my arm so I judo flipped him."  He sighed, nodding.  "That's what I told him.  I offered to let him get to know me as family even, Horatio, but I'm going to help Yelina beat him if you don't mind.  Up here.  Yeah.  I'm sorry, baby."  He smiled.  "I know.  Thank you.  If I see him again I'll refer him back to you.   Thank you for not being mad at me, Horatio.  Love you.  Have a better day?"  He smiled.  "That'll be fine.  We'll talk the next time I call.  Grandfather's coming this way and I don't want to worry him.  Miss you already."  He hung up, laying down, handing over the magazine.  "Here the newest ad."

"You don't want to worry me about what?"

"Horatio's brother."

"I thought he was dead."

"Tony found out the Feds stole him."

"Ah, one of those.  Did you run into him?"  Xander nodded, giving him a pitiful look.  "Some families can't be accepting, Xander.  It'll be all right.  He'll grow to love you like everyone else has."  Xander nodded, cuddling up to him.  "That's my good grandson."  He stroked over his hair and back.  "We'll let Horatio handle his own family unless we have to step in." Xander nodded.  "Good boy."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome."  He kissed him on the head.  "Go upstairs and find some chocolate.  Make Sire play with you."  Xander gave him a small grin, going to do as ordered.


Horatio looked up from his dinner on his back porch when his brother stomped around the house.  "You're bold for a dead man," he said blandly.

"Your *fiancee* is snuggling up to an older couple?  You're sharing suddenly?  You never used to, even as children, Horatio."

"They're his grandparents, Ray."  He ate another bite, watching his face as it went to mortified and then embarrassed.  "Before you ask, I adore his grandparents.  They've raised Xander since he was five.  They've supported both the lab and me personally when I needed it.  They've always been there for Xander as well."  He carefully put down his fork and took a drink of his water, putting it down as well.  "I will tell you this *once*, Raymond.  You are to leave Xander and his family alone. They are as close to me as you once were and Yelina still is.  I do not care if you can't accept that I'm with him.  As of this moment I think you have bigger things to worry about."  Ray gaped.  "Yelina?"  She came out, putting down her plate, then she hauled off and slapped him.  "Want my cuffs?"

"I have my own," she reminded him, knocking him down so she could cuff him.

"Way to go, Mom," Ray Junior said happily.  "Want me to get my cleats?  You can probably fit in them."

"I have heels," she said with a smile.  "Such a good son."  She stroked his cheek.  "Sit and have seconds, dear."  He sat down beside his uncle, digging in.  "Why did you come back?"

"He came to tell me he saw my fiancee cuddling with his grandparents after he accosted Xander," Horatio told her.

"Excuse me?"  She kicked Ray again, making him groan.  "Xander is the sweetest, most uptight young man I know.  I'm hoping Ray picks up good habits from him."

"He showed me a home movie of his natural parents," Ray told her.  "I know why drinking is a very bad idea."

"Good," she said, smiling proudly.  She kicked her husband without looking, making him groan a bit higher this time.   She did it again.  "This is very therapeutic.  Do you want some of him, Horatio?"

"I'll have him after you two are done and before Hagen," he offered.  She smiled as she dragged the man inside to make him scream and cry.  Horatio called Hagen.  "It's Horatio.  I have someone you need to see.  No, not Xander, John.  I know you heard."  He smiled. "Thank you.  No, you are the last to know," he admitted.  "Sorry, I forgot.  No, there's a Raymond problem here.  It is Raymond, that's the problem," he told him bluntly when he started to complain.  John made a screaming noise.  "I hope you're not in public?"  He smiled at the 'in the car, be there in twenty'.  "We're on the back porch.  I'm sure Yelina will let you in.  Save me some when you get here."  He hung up, looking at his nephew.  "We should probably talk about girls sometime soon."

"Do you know about girls, Uncle H?"

"I do," he admitted, smiling gently.  "I had one once."

"Was she so bad you went to men instead?"

Horatio laughed.  "Not quite.  I found someone who understood me."

"You trained him to understand you," Ray teased.  Horatio nodded.  "Good.  I get to at least be the ring bearer, even though I'm not cute."

"I'd like that."  Ray smiled and dug in.  "Did you want to help?"

"I hate the sight of blood."

"That's a good reason."  He got up to let John in when he showed up, watching as he walked in and picked up Ray by his cuffs, looking at him before punching him.  "Leave him living so he can explain things," he said gently.  "I know many people who are looking forward to this story."

"You do know we're practicing in case Xander ever hurts you?" Yelina asked.  Horatio smiled, walking back outside.  "Give him back, John.  I was married to him, I get to damage him more.  Especially since I have a stepdaughter and her mother that I've adopted because the poor thing was so young."  He handed him over, getting out of the way.


Horatio parked in the driveway, walking around the hummer to get the groaning man out of the hummer.  He walked him to the door, smiling at the man who gave him a very confused look.  "Here, you wanted Ray when Yelina, John Hagen, and I were done with him."  He handed Ray over, then walked back to the hummer.  "Do have fun, Rick."

"Gee, thanks, what do you want for the wedding present?" he sneered.

"No presents but you can donate to any of his charities or any of the PD charities in our names if you want," he shot back with a smile, getting into the hummer to head home.  He felt evil but better.  By the time he got home he had decided to call Xander.  Phone sex wasn't fulfilling by any means but as close as he'd get for another two months.  That would be after he and Ray Junior went over the things that had been delivered to his house so they could be indexed and sent back, if possible.

Stetler looked at the man leaning against him.  "They should've finished you off."  He let him drop, walking over him.  "Get in here before I have you arrested, Raymond.  We've got to talk about how happy your wife was with me after you left her."

Ray glared at him.  "I know she faked it."  He made himself get up and stomp in there to attack him.  No one touched his wife!


The Chief walked into Horatio's office the next morning.  "What happened to Stetler?"

Horatio put the call on hold.  "It turns out Raymond was undercover for more than us," he said quietly.  His boss sat down hard, staring at him.  Horatio nodded.  "The agents set up the death and all that," he explained.  "When he showed up last night to sneer about me having Xander, I let Yelina and John have him.  Then Rick Stetler wanted a word with him so I dropped him off after our talk.  What happened to Rick?"

"He looks like he went three rounds with Tyson."

"The chicken?"

"Not funny," he said, staring at him.  "You're picking up bad habits from your fiancee, Caine."  He stood up.  "You know I'm retiring in a few months?"

"I do and I know that everyone loathes the person you chose even with knowing how much of a racist he is," he said.  The Chief glared.  "You didn't get the folder from Xander?"

"The mayor did.  He picked him."

"Ah, then *he* picked the racist with the fifteen-year-old Cuban girlfriend?"  The Chief groaned.  "The moment he takes office, that file is coming to light.  It's already in SVU, Chief.  I can't keep that information to myself.  It's against my oath."

"The others?"

"I'll get you a copy of the folder," he promised.  That got a nod and he walked out.  Horatio took the call off hold.  "Tony, the mayor kept the information file on the next chief from the current one.  He had no idea he had an underage lover.  Can I get a copy?"  He smiled.  "Thank you. I don't know about the wedding.  I don't want to shove him.  I know he would cry and agree if I gave him a nudge. Where?"  He smiled.  "I can do that.  A small, family only affair?"  He beamed. "That's more than reasonable.  No, Patrick might but he can throw a party for the reception.  Thank you for telling me that.  Anywhere you think he'd want?"  He smiled and nodded. "I've always liked the gardens at the main house," he said happily. "Thank you.  Make preliminary plans.  We'll go over them tonight.  Thank you."  He hung up, relaxing again.  It made more sense that Xander was giving him time to get used to the idea.  Xander still had the idealistic 'bound into things' idea of youth.  If he had been female they'd have been in Vegas within a day of him proposing he was sure.  This way all they'd have to do was call in the orders.  Tony had a good bridal checklist and had checked with Calleigh and Yelina for help.  Plus one of the matrons to make sure it wouldn't snub anyone.  He'd checked with her about timing before making any other plans.


Tony moaned as he ate another bite of dinner.  "Xander goes to the best places."

Horatio smiled.  "He has to.  He'll never be able to cook."

Tony nodded.  "True."  He smiled as the Chief and Mayor stomped over.  "Sirs."

"Agent DiNozzo, how did you find that out about them?" the mayor asked.

He grinned.  "Contacts.  Which is why Xander hired me."

"Fine.  You win."

"Actually, sir, I think you'll find Miami will win," Horatio said gently.

Tony nodded.  "We don't care who it is that takes the current chief's spot as long as he's not going to damage everyone.  On the list was another fairly anti-gay person that we'd still support; as long as it wasn't those first three it's a decent enough choice.  Even though that one has suggested in the past that the gay officers all retire, has stuck up for them being beaten, and those things, both parts of the family agree he'd be better than the member of the Aryan Nation who's blackmailing a child into his bed, the one causing intentional harm on his three lovers, two of whom look a lot like my boss - which is my primary worry, and the guy who's been hiding his four wives and two husbands.  I almost liked him but he's an asshole who reminds me of my former director, a lot, and she made a lot of bad command decisions, sir."

"I heard," the mayor admitted, looking a bit grim.  "Is your boy going to my wife's trial?"

"No, sir, he's in India this week, Japan next week, Ireland for the holiday, and then going to upper India before Thailand and then Sri Lanka."  They both gaped.  "He's spending time with his grandparents, making good memories," he said gently.

"Clearly," the mayor said, smiling.  "So you wouldn't care if we did hire the anti-gay one?"

"Better him than Xander's next stalker or the violent racist.  We'd be more than happy to start an educational campaign for him so he understood things but we can tolerate him if you can."

The present Chief coughed.  "Don't worry about him.  He's retiring next year, Tony."  Tony grinned.  "You saw about his son?"

"And we figured that's why he went after the gay officers that year," he agreed.  "Since then he seems to have calmed down."  He looked at the Mayor.  "Pick whoever you choose, sir, and if you want me to I'll gladly do a background on them too.  I, we, simply couldn't let those three first horrible choices stand without complaint.  They would've sullied the department and I used to be a cop myself.  I don't want that for my newly adopted city."

The mayor nodded.  "Thank you.  What do you have on Burton?"

Tony pulled out his PDA, accessing the home computer.  "Nice guy, clean record, no open stance on gay officers or the quarter of the city that is gay. Seems to have a good working relationship with various ethnicities."  He looked at them.  "We have no trouble with any of the other Chiefs as they stand, sir.  Most of the captains, except for Hodgekiss or Hollingsworth, or was it Hall, Horatio?"

"Hmm.  No, Hall was the one who hit Hollingsworth for sneering at you for going from agent to head of security.  She had a pretty good swing.  It was...  It was the new one, Chief.  The one you gave the badge to the other day."

"Helen," he said dryly.  Horatio nodded. "She's a strongly opinionated woman."

"A quarter of Miami is still gay and another sixth to third is immigrant, depending on your statistic of choice," Tony said dryly.  "She's in the wrong city for her opinions."   The mayor laughed at that, nodding. "The family has said that they would support anyone as long as it wasn't those three.  Even the anti-gay one because we can handle him.  We can't handle the bastards in the the top three spots.  That's probably how they got so high up."  The Chief nodded.   "I'll gladly run a comprehensive background if you want me to."

"I'll take you up on that," the Chief promised, smiling at him.  "Business or pleasure, Horatio?"

"Personal, going over some of the problems Xander's present givers have created.  Like them sending things to the lab."

"Oh, yes, I did promise to give you a list of former detectives who might be willing to help you with that."  He patted himself down until he came to it.  "I was going to give it to Horatio later after the budget meeting."  He gave him a look.  "You *will* be attending?"

"If at all possible," he agreed.

"No skipping off to watch at scenes, Caine.  Remember, you got shot at earlier.  You'd hate for me to assign you a bodyguard of your own."

"I still have one following him around," Tony admitted.  The two higher ups walked off laughing.  He took the list to look over.  "Huh.  A few very tough people."  He tucked them into his shirt pocket, digging in again.  "This is almost sinful.  No wonder Xander comes here."

"His next shoot for them will have to break laws of physics," Horatio complained, digging in again.   "You're sure she said you can't do it that fast?"

"She did have a suggestion."  He pushed over the invitation.  "They need a good thing in the center.  Last year's kidnaping alarmed some people.  Doing a wedding...."

Horatio smiled.  "Don has to go.  Stella got asked already."

"It's not a hardship to get the whole family there, except yours in the lab."

"I think I can arrange that.  Hand off control, claim there's a power failure or something for a weekend."

"Bribe the new boss?"

"Hmm.  Possibly."

"Think he'd like some ugly artwork?"

"His wife would mind.  She has very good taste."

Tony smiled.  "I'll see what I can do for you."

"I'll....  I'll talk to him after the meeting.  You make sure it's possible."

"I've checked, everything's set up.  The reception will make a nice second half.  All you have to do is pick the cake and find a white suit."

Horatio smiled.  "I think I can do that.  Chocolate?"

Tony hummed, pulling out something and handing it over.  "I loved them when I ran into them at a convention.  It's moan worthy cakes the last time I knew.  They need to know within two weeks.  Have Mac taste test for you.  He could use some sweets."

"I can do that.  Thank you."

"Hey, you and the boss being happy is a good thing.  We like the boss being happy.  Even if I do think I'll be losing some of the guards.  They're fine with the gay stuff as long as it's a concept but now and then they look very uneasy when you come over," he explained. "Including Deborah, our dog handler."

"Does that mean you'll lose the horse?"

"No, the miniature horse is staying," Tony promised, shaking his head.  "Gibbs has K-9 experience though.  So maybe he'll come down to do that."  He ate another bite, waving his fork.  "Eat.  Please.  If you get too skinny Xander will have to fuss and you'll hate being tied to the bed while being force fed."

"I would, yes," Horatio agreed, taking a bite.  It was excellent food.


Xander finally came home, smiling at the sight of his house.  "Bed," he said, parking and wandering in.  "Bed," he said, smiling at Tony, giving him a hug.  "Presents in the trunk.  Got you Bollywood and anime film noire since you like the genre.  Something new to try.  Bed."

"It's turned down," he said, smiling at him.  "Go sleep.  We'll talk in the morning."  Xander nodded, wandering up the stairs, weaving the whole way.  Tony laughed once he was out of sight, going to unload the trunk of the car.  Xander had one rolling trunk of clothes he had packed when he had left and three more bags.  He brought them up to his room, coming back to close the car and make sure there wasn't anything else.  There were bags in the back, making him glance inside.  He shrugged and walked them upstairs too.  He'd figure out which one was his in the morning.  He found Cook going through the clothes, sorting them into laundry and dry cleaning piles.  She grimaced at a few things.  "That bad?"

"A bit sweaty, not horrible."  She shook out one shirt.  "Ashes."

He went to call the main house to tell them Xander had gotten home all right, finding a small party in progress.  He nodded at her, getting a smile back.  He went to gather what Xander would need in the morning.  "Gift list and what couldn't be sent back.  Ugly artwork list and the appraisal for an auction.  Current household list," he mumbled.  His phone rang.  "DiNozzo.  Hi, Marigold.  What's up?"  He sat down, listening to her.  "He's back, just wandered in and collapsed with jet lag.  He walked in mumbling 'bed' over and over."  He smiled.  "Really?  I hadn't heard anything about the Christmas Lights ball having a wedding in the center.  Do you have any idea who?"  He smiled at her 'only that it's a gay couple'.  "Well, if so we'll certainly be attending in force.  Thank you for letting me know.  I'll tell Xander in the morning and spread that back to the elder couple. Anything else you've heard?"

He beamed and made notes.  Some of their plans had leaked out.  "Thanks, dear.  I'll tell him you want an interview tomorrow about the trip.  No, we're dealing with the sudden influx of presents actually.  He'll be moving statues tomorrow."  She giggled while hanging up so he added that to his stack for the morning.  His phone rang again.  "DiNozzo.  Hey, boss."  He smiled.  "If you want it's still open.  What happened?"  He blinked.  "Um... didn't hear you correctly?" he asked.  Gibbs repeated it tersely.  "Sure.  We'll be here.  If and when, come jogging down here, boss.  Especially if you can work with a K-9.  Yeah, I've got room for you.  I'm losing between three and five when Xander gets married.  See you then."  He hung up, making another note.  They'd figure that out tomorrow. He added it to the meeting list.  He looked.  Everything on his desk was in one pile.  That was a good job.  Xander was going to kill him for such a long meeting.


Xander looked up from his morning meal and soda, grunting at Tony.

"Wake up more.  Meeting time, boss."

"Fuck," Xander mumbled.

Tony messed up his hair.  "Not all bad.  Gibbs might be coming down."  Xander gave him an odd look.  "The Director tried to tell him he was going to have to retire next year, he had twenty years in."

"Does that mean Ducky's going to come down to work with Alexx?"

"Possibly.  Not sure if she'll succeed yet or not.  He's not at mandatory retirement age yet."  He leaned on the table, smiling as his cup of coffee was put in front of him. "Thanks, Cook. You're taking off in one week, right?" She nodded.  "That's fine.  I'll take over and if we have to we'll have a temp come in."  She pinched his cheek, going back to her fussing over things.

Xander finished breakfast with a belch.  "'Scuse me."  He looked at Tony, then put his dishes in the dishwasher.  "Thanks, Cook.  Great job and I hope the surgery goes very well.  I'll drive you to the airport myself, dear."  She smiled and kissed him on the cheek.  "My office or yours?"

"Yours."  He followed Xander that way with his coffee and Xander's new soda.  He sat down across from him.  "What do you want first?  The staffing, the present situation, or the Christmas Lights ball itinerary?"

"I thought Don was going."

"They're doing a gay wedding in the center.  You're all going."

"Oh.  Okay.  I need a new suit then."  Tony nodded.  "That's in two weeks?"  Tony nodded again.  "I can do that in that amount of time.  Anything I have to know otherwise?"

"Go as hot as you can.  Horatio's coming up for it."  Xander beamed.  "Okay?"  Xander nodded.  "No leather."

"Yes, Tony.  Any other restrictions?"

"No putting tinsel in sexual spots.  It's on the invitation this year."  He tossed it over.

"That wasn't me last year.  It was Fred.  It was hanging out of his pants wrapped very tightly around his cock, which was also hanging out his pants.  He couldn't get it undone and it was cutting off the blood supply.  They had to send him to the ER."

"Poor, stupid, drunk man," Tony sighed, shaking his head.  "He okay?"

"Now.  After rehab."  He put it off to the side.  "Okay, what's the bad news?"

"Gibbs' director is trying very hard to get him out of her way.  If so, he's coming down here.  We'll try to get him to bring the whole team and help them set up locally.  I told him he could use the guest house for a few weeks until he could sell his place up there."  Xander nodded.  "Good."  He crossed that off on his list. "Let's see.  We have ... one social event for the new Chief, who was unnamed.  I'm not sure if that's going on or not."  He made a note beside that one.  "That would be the Wednesday after next.  Right before you'd leave to go back to New York."  He made a note of that as well.  "It says luncheon but with someone new being named there's every chance that'll change."  Xander grimaced but nodded.  "That leaves us with ... Captain Turner doing the present patrol thing for you.  Gibbs came down to drop off some he couldn't send back.  He sent Abby and Ziva to hand it back.  Abby told one you were gay.  She sent it back and then committed suicide."


"No, the present sender."


"Yeah, no heirs.  I offered it to the state tax authority but they said they couldn't do that."  He handed over two lists.  "The first is the good artwork list.  It's mostly in the ballroom at the moment.  The other is the hideous shit and how much it'd bring at auction so you could donate it to charity.  Captain Turner has instructions to find who sent things and send it back.  If not, she's keeping it stored and is doing a list that Horatio made up the form for."  That got a nod.  "Unfortunately she's got a few things, boss."

Xander grimaced, handing it over.  "Is it polite to auction it off?"

"Do it quietly.  Do it in London but do it quietly.  We have someone who can get in touch with someone else who handles those things for heirs who need a sudden influx of cash for various problems."  Xander nodded, putting down the second list.  "The hideous list is just that, Xander.  I had to lock the door before it mutates anything else in the house.  It literally gave Gibbs a headache when I let him see for a few minutes.  After I got done cataloging I went to give myself a hangover it was so nasty."

"I'm sorry.  Did we get him something?"

"Yeah, I did.  Don, Horatio, Mac, and Gibbs have all set up a protocol with their people to send things to Captain Turner.  You'd like her.  She's a squat, rock formation woman sort of woman.  She's very gruff.  She can swear better than you can in three languages.  She used to be Army.  Gibbs thought it was cute she was as growly as he is."

"Um, tact?"

"She tries very hard if they deserve it."

"Good.  That's fine then.  Any people repeat?"

"Twice now. She nearly cried, thought she was losing her touch.  She's nice enough the first time, the second she chews butt and spits it out because it usually tastes fake according to her."  Xander snickered and nodded.  "Your insurance agent has an ulcer and he did suggest a subtle, quiet sale out of the Miami area.  Maybe in LA since nothing's come from there yet."  Xander leaned back, groaning a bit.  "Sore?"

"Long flight.  Still recovering."

"That's okay, I'm sure you'll wake up later on when you move some of the statues."  He grinned.  "We put them all in the ballroom, boss."

"Gee, thanks."

"Not a problem.  We also paid Eric's visit to the chiropractor and tylenol and lunch for Speed and Ryan."  Xander groaned.  "I'll help but I'm not doing it all."

"Anything like a wheeled platform?"

"Yup, that'll help too.  A few are too tall to use it though."

"On the side?"  Tony held up a  finger.  "Lumber to lengthen the platform?"

"That we can probably do.  We'll figure it out or leave those in there."  Xander nodded.  "A few went into the hallway nooks and a few went into the conservatory to highlight the plants.  Captain Turner did giggle at some of them.  There's an eight-foot baby without a diaper for one of them.  Looks like a Nirvana cover."

"Some are going to Grandfather," Xander said grimly.  Tony smiled at that.  "He can use them in the garden since we don't have one."

"You could plant one."

"I'd never take care of it."

"They have gardeners, Xander."

"Another person for me to pay for," he said dryly.  "I already pay for Rebecca and the two part-time housekeepers she uses her riding crop on."

"Point."  He changed the list.  "What do you want to do with the jewelry?"

"Did Horatio like any of it?"

"A few for Calleigh, otherwise no."


"So I'll mark those as probably going too?"  Xander nodded. "When do you want to hold the auction?"

"Would it be crude to say before tax time?  This is my first year paying."

"You're only paying about two grand according to the accountant.  That's including all this stuff.  All your work expenses and donations offset it."  Xander beamed at him.  "Welcome."  Xander got up and gave him a hug then sat back down. "Thanks, boss, I liked that."  He grinned.  "I did like your choice."

"You helped."

"I only suggested a bracelet.  That was a beautiful design.  Custom?"

"Yeah.  He had to set the stones."  He gave him a shy smile.  "He accepted too."

"I noticed it was welded on," he teased.  "Okay, for today, moving stuff, then haircut for the ball?"  Xander nodded.  "Good."  He stood up.  "Then we'll work on things later.  Come get me when you're ready to tackle the problems."

"Later.  Let me get another nap."  He grabbed his pillow and went to the couch to lay down, yawning a bit.  "Night, Tony."

"Night, boss."  He walked out, closing the door behind him.  A few of the guys gave him an odd look.  "He's still got jet lag.  What's wrong?"

"The rest of the statues?"

"Later.  I told him I'd help him."  That got  nods.  "If we need more muscle, we'll call."  They walked off to get coffee and go back to their lounging around.  It was their off-time.  Tony got some more coffee too, heading to check the security monitors and then to his office.   Xander would get up later and they'd figure out where some of them were going.  Even if he did call Ethan to come magic some of them to the main house's garden for him.


Patrick looked out at his favorite view of the gardens, frowning.  "Sire?" he called.  He came walking in with a mug of blood, standing behind him.  "Is that something you bought?"

He looked at the extra-large, naked, crawling, marble baby and shook his head.  "No, I think that's Xander's version of a tattooed elephant, my childe."  He patted him on the back and walked off cackling.

"I didn't ask him for the elephant," he complained.

"It still showed up."

Gordon walked in.  "He still having flashbacks to your own income-generating curse years?" he teased.

Patrick sighed and nodded.  "He is.  He still thinks it's cute I got given a house in Bavaria that was filled with beer barrels too."  He pointed outside.  "Who gave my grandson the naked baby?"

Gordon consulted his PDA then looked at him.  "It was sent anonymously but Captain Turner talked to the artist and found out it came from Marigold's husband.  You know, the society reporter," he said at his boss's confused look.

"Uh-huh.  Well, I suppose I'll let her know that Xander leant it to me for my garden collection since he doesn't have one of his own."

"If you do that, someone will go plant one on him and he doesn't want to have to pay for a gardener, Patrick.  You barely got him able to not kill the plants."

"Oh, I do remember," he said dryly, sitting down shaking his head.  "Did they deliver the baby here?"

"No...Tony and Xander called Ethan to donate some of it to your garden so you could landscape a bit more and make interesting places to sit and look at during the long nights."  He walked out before Patrick could do more than shake his head or mumble the rare curse word.  "Wait until he sees the snake one," he told Ethan when he walked past him.

"I did pick the most tasteful ones I could.  I figured the infant would bring back good memories of Xander and his own children."

"Is Janus laughing?" Patrick called.

"Only half the time," Ethan called back, still smiling.  "Someone got inspired by the Temptation ads.  I picked that one for you too, Father.  It's in the back, by the trees and the emergency gate."

"I'll walk outside tonight," he said, going to get his own mug of blood and take something for his headache.  It couldn't be worse than the baby, right?  He came out and looked at Ethan, seeing the smirk.  "Will I need to bring a bottle of tylenol with me?"  Ethan went into the study and grabbed a bottle of whiskey, handing it over before going back to the kitchen.  "I see.  Sounds like Sire and I need to take a walk together," he decided.  "Sire?  Get the umbrellas.  Ethan picked more than one statue for the gardens."

"Can't it wait?"

"No, I think we should do this now," he called.

"Fine."  He came down the stairs with their special wide umbrellas, handing Patrick his.  "Let's go look at the hideous monstrosities."  They walked out the garden door together, both under the careful shelter of their umbrellas.  They stopped to look at the baby, who had been arranged so it looked like it was crawling to play with the new nymph and fairy statues back there.  Sire walked on at Patrick's giggle.  They were cute little stone creatures.  They came to a granite tree, which was pretty nice as well.  It fit well with the trees around it and the bench around the bottom was useful.  They kept going. The next one was a male nymph that had been placed behind a set of higher bushes so it was peeking out behind it.  They nearly walked into that one so they stopped to look.  Patrick took a small drink from the bottle he had carried out.  "It's male," Raphael pointed out.

"He's built like a child.  No adult male is that small and undeveloped.  Even back in Roman statuary.  Not even _David_ is built that small, Sire."  He walked on, going to find the others.  He found another nymph, this time on his back, legs spread, anatomically correct down to the shaping of the pucker.  "Someone did very detailed bronze work," he said, taking another drink.  "Ethan!"  He came trotting out.  "You couldn't find a better spot for this one?"

"Your next crop of the purple flowers will mostly cover it, Father.  That way it's hidden for about nine months out of the year."   That got a nod and another drink.  "Did you see the other one?"

"And how small he was," Raphael agreed.

Ethan looked at him.  "No, not that one."  He pointed.  "The three that Xander's gothic ads inspired are all grouped back by the back fence.  There's a few more useful benches as well by the fountain."  He walked off grinning.

The couple walked that way, finding the first one.  It was a large snake, coiled and staring at them, an apple in the center of the coils with a hand pushing it up.  It looked like an oversized bracelet really with the hand there.  Raphael took a drink and they walked on.  The next one was, basically, phallic in nature.  It was propped between two trees.  The balls looked like women's breasts.  The penis was highly detailed in the marble.  Patrick and Raphael both took a longer drink. They sighed and went to look at the last one, gaping at it.  It was their grandson, done in copper it looked like.  It was him naked in the same pose as the ad, down to the same little smirk on his face.  Only in his hand this time was a very well endowed sex toy.  Raphael touched it and found a knob, turning it on.  It vibrated, making the whole statue hum.  Patrick shut it off and walked off drinking.

Raphael stared for a moment longer then went to lock Patrick out of the liquor cabinet.  "They did a good job on his body," he offered.

"He's not Priapus."

"Well, no, he's not.  He's better than average but not *that* big," Raphael soothed.  "The statue wasn't either."

"It was a foot long and able to be used!" Patrick complained.  "Yes it was, Sire."

"Calm down."  He gave him a hug but Patrick got free, going to sulk and write their grandson an email about not modeling anymore.  Raphael got up, following him back to his office.  "Ask him if the baby one was inspired by the ads for the pound?"  Patrick threw something at him, making him duck and go hide.  Yes, that infamous temper was back.  He'd have to do something very nice to calm him down later.

Patrick finished his email and sent it.  Tony sent back a list of who had sent what.  That way he knew who he would be getting back for their bad, disgusting tastes in artwork.


Horatio looked at Xander, then at the building in front of them.  "Why are we at the yacht club?"

"I'm borrowing someone's for the weekend," he said sheepishly.  "I wanted to see if I liked boats or not."

"Were we thinking about buying a boat?" he asked, looking at his usually motion sick lover.  Xander shook his head quickly.  "Were we *given* a boat perhaps?"  Xander gave him that same sheepish smile.  "Are we taking it out?"

"I'm not sure I want to look at it.  Tony walked off swearing and calling Gibbs to see what the name of his favorite bourbon was so he could send Captain Turner some."  He grinned.  "But it did come with a membership to the club and I called.  They said I could keep the membership even if I didn't want the boat, and they did laugh about the boat," he admitted in a babbling rush.

Horatio kissed him, then looked at him.  "Let's go see this boat, Xander.  Then we'll see about going for a sail, and then maybe dinner?"  Xander beamed and nodded, getting out with him, walking him back to the gated entrance.  "Xander Benis and Horatio Caine," he said quietly.

The guard looked at him.  "It's good someone came to deal with that party boat you got sent, Mr. Caine."

"I got sent?  I thought Xander got it sent to him."

"No, sir, the card on the bow was in your name.  I'll have you escorted.  Are you going out tonight or staying for dinner?"

"I've never driven a boat," Xander said, looking at him. "Is it harder than the porsche?"

"I know enough to sail around the harbor," Horatio admitted.  "For right now, we're probably going to look."

"That's fine.  I know Misty said Mr. Benis might be taking her boat out for the afternoon.  We can easily move the basket we had prepared to the other one."

"Thank you," Xander said, smiling as he walked in.  "Which way?"

The guard called someone over his radio.  "Xander Benis and Horatio Caine are here about the boat they got given.  They need an escort.  Then they'll see if they're taking that boat out or another one he was planning on borrowing."  He released the button.

"Be right there," a female voice said.

He smiled at them.  "It's all right, we don't bite."

Xander snorted.  "Misty does too bite.  She did me three different times when we were younger at society events."  The guard laughed.  "Really, she does bite.  Well, probably down to nibbling now but she did bite."

The guard smirked, nodding at the young woman who came out to meet them.  "This is Xander Benis and Horatio Caine."

"Xander," she said, kissing him on the cheek.  "I haven't seen you since the pound's event."

"I was out of town for a long time.  Traveling with Grandfather."

"That's wonderful.  Lieutenant.  Nice of you to escort Xander."

"He said we were coming here to sail.  I just learned the boat was in my name?"

She nodded.  "Indeed."  She walked them on with a smile for the guard.  "Do brace yourselves."

"Is it pink?" Xander asked.

"Not outside."  He shuddered.  "It'll be fine.  I promise it will be."  She led them to a slip at the end of the dock, waving a hand and handing over keys, taking the basket from a waiting waiter.  "There you go, Horatio.  Your own boat."  She smiled.  "Can you sail?"

"I've learned some from the Coast Guard," he said, looking at the nice sized yacht.  He looked at her over the rim of his sunglasses.  "Do we have any idea who sent me a yacht?"

"No, but they did purchase the membership in Xander's name."

"So someone knows," Xander said dryly.  "New, used?"

"New, newly painted as well," she admitted.  That got a nod.  "Plus they left you things."  She patted him on the shoulder.  "We've all heard rumors of the dreaded family curse Xander's under.  Do try to enjoy this one and remember, it can be repainted if you want."  She and the waiter walked off.

Horatio walked up to the gangplank, taking a deep breath before walking onboard.  He looked around the deck.  It looked normal.  He nodded Xander to come up.

"Permission to come aboard?" he quipped.

"Permission granted, you never have to ask," he said dryly.

"Aye, Captain."  He walked up the plank, noticing it had an automatic switch.  He tripped it, watching as it pulled itself up.  "That's handy."  He grinned.  "Do I get to tease you when you make it to Captain?"

"You can if we keep the boat."  He led him into the wheelhouse, looking at the controls.  "Someone set it up with all the automatic pilots we could ever need," he decided.  It was very technical and he only knew what half of them were.  Xander opened the door down to the cabin area, letting him follow.  He paused at the bottom of the stairs, right behind Xander's back, looking at the room.  He took off his sunglasses to rub his eyes, then looked around again.  There were still pink marble cherubs with bows at all four corners, bows pointing to the center rug.  Which looked like a lion skin.  The couch was in pink and white tiger striped fabric.  So was the chair.  There were two other doors.  One led to a bedroom, which was in black and white at least.  The bathroom was the other one.  It was black and white marble.  He carefully moved around Xander and the lion skin rug, going into the galley.  It had....  Well, treats would be a bad way of putting the three cases of Cristal champagne in the wine cooler area.  It was stocked with a six-pound box of Godiva chocolates.  It was also stocked with something in a jell-o looking mixture.  He sniffed.  "Jell-o shooters with things."

Xander came over to look, digging one out to rinse off in the sink.  He held up the emerald.  "They matched the jell-o.  How easy is that to do?"

"I'm not sure I want to know," he admitted, putting the bowl down.  He looked in the cupboards. There were many wrapped boxes on top of and between the dishes.  There were a few practical boxes of food as well.  He looked at Xander, who was staring in horror at something.  "What?"  Xander held over the package he had unwrapped.  "Is that human?"

"It's a finger, I'd say."  He carefully put it down and backed out of the way.  "That's your area, I'll watch your brilliance."

"Thanks, really," he said grimly, going to look through the other presents.  "Go get someone?"  Xander put down the basket carefully and went to do that.  The person who had walked them out came back with Xander, letting him show her the contents of a few boxes.  She hissed.  "Let me get someone out here quietly?"

"Of course.  Please do so quietly."

"If at all possible.  It'll look like he's carrying my presents off."  She nodded at that, smiling gratefully.  Xander handed over his phone, already dialed.  "Frank, Horatio.  I need you at the yacht club.  Someone sent me a yacht with treats and body parts, Frank.  Quietly.  Like you're carrying off my presents.  Bring me a kit as well please.  Thank you, Frank."  He hung up and tossed the phone back.  "Is anyone missing?"

"No, Lieutenant.  Not that I'm aware of."

Xander shrugged. "Not that I know of either.  Other than a missing daughter who was snuck off to have the baby quietly."  He looked over as someone came down the stairs.  "Hi, Speed.  Did Frank send you?"

"Yeah, he did since I was out for a ride."  He handed over his kit, looking around.  He looked at Xander. "You didn't decorate, right?"

"I decorated my house.  This is *not* my taste.  This is like Aphrodite from that Hercules show got drunk on ale and decorated."

"Good."  He looked at Horatio.  "I'm assuming you didn't either?"  Horatio shook his head quickly.  "So, should I call Turner?"

"I will," Xander promised.  That got a nod from Speed.  "Are you taking away the icky presents?"

Speed looked at the box then nodded.  "Yeah, I can do that."  Xander emptied out the basket, handing it over.  "That'll work," he decided, lining it with a plastic bag before laying all the presents in there.  Horatio handed over the bowl of jell-o and the cling wrap, dropping the emerald back into it.  "Who dug in to get one out?"

"I did," Xander said.

"Good idea in this case."  He covered it and carefully laid it in there so it wouldn't slosh out if the plastic didn't hold.  "Any others?"  Horatio showed him the wine cooler and the fridge.  "You can dust those."  He walked off with the basket.

Xander looked at her.  "Can I still borrow Misty's boat?  This is kinda giving me a headache.  The small blue and pink paisleys on the wallpaper are hideous."

"Of course, Xander.  There's another basket under the sink there, Horatio."  He checked, dusted it for prints, then handed it over.  "She's on the other pier, slip 12."  He nodded at that, letting her walk Xander off.

Horatio pulled out some more powder to get to work on the bottles first.  You had to touch those to slide them into the racks.  Then he'd make Xander tell him about any other presents he hadn't been able to send back.  Apparently someone needed to oversee this situation more than Tony was.  He called him while he dusted the countertop.  "It's me.  Who sent me a boat?"  Tony looked it up and reported it.  "No, I'm on here now.  Xander told me today.  We found wrapped fingers and things in the cabinets."  He heard the shudder.  "I'm doing that at the moment, Tony.  I would like a list.  Thank you."  He hung up and got back to work.  The sooner he got done, the sooner someone could be arrested and the sooner he could go back to his picnic with his fiancee so Xander could take the hideous decorating out of his mind.


Horatio walked into the current present warehouse, looking at the former Detective next to him.  "This is...."

"Tacky?" she supplied dryly.  "Yes, it is, Horatio."

He nodded.  "I can call it that."  He walked around the carefully separated out things.  There was a large shipping crate with a sign marked 'jewelry' that had boxes inside.  He shook his head, moving on to the next one.  That one had 'clothes' on the sign.  He saw a few names he recognized on the various bags and boxes.  He was led past the 'artwork' section and the 'treats' section, pausing to look at he one large shipping crate in there.  "Do I want to know?"  She opened the panel she had loosened so he could see the marbleized chocolate statue of Xander as Michelangelo's David, making him shake his head again.  "Never mind."

"It's tasty," she offered with a grin.  "One of the fingers fell off so I nibbled."  She led him back to the back section.  "This is the problem section.  Well, this and the jewelry box.  Did you know that the price of diamonds went up last week?"

"I didn't.  Xander's fault?"

"That and wedding season is coming up."  She pointed at the three cars sitting there.  "They're pretty."

"They are.  We can't send them back?"

"No.  They were driven over.  The others I managed to send back to the dealership since they were delivered without being driven.  These were driven.  That means they're used."  She looked at him, seeing the horrified look.  She looked where he was looking.  "Oh, that's Trix, like the cereal."  Horatio sighed, shaking his head.  "I've asked Tony to call the local riding clubs.  I've taken her on daily strolls, she's a good ride."

"He and Patrick belong to the Hollycrest Country Club," he said quietly, feeling that dreaded migraine feeling coming.  "Is it just Trix?"

"No.  Trix has a familiar of her own but she won't sleep without him.  Cocoa?"  The dog barked and looked out, coming over to sniff Horatio, who squatted down to pet him.  The sheepdog lapped his face then went back to his buddy's stall.  She made a note of which country club he belonged to.  "I'll call Tony today to see if he's found Trix a home."

"I'll talk to some people to see if they want a new horse."

"You can't.  She came from a local matron."  She handed over that information sheet.  "She said if we sent Trix back to her or sold her she'd be killing herself in public and would give Xander the rest of her estate."

He looked at her.  "You're joking?" he asked, trying not to sound like he was pleading.

"Wishful thinking," she assured him, pulling out another sheet.  "She said the same thing.  She's the one who gave him a good quarter of the stuff in the jewelry box.  By the way, she'll be at the ball on Saturday."  He sighed, shaking his head.  "I slipped her into the wedding conspiracy.  She said to consider it a wedding present and if he sold it before she died next year she was going to change her will to give him the rest of her estate.  Which means you'd have a good lawn for Trix."

He looked at her.  "Not funny."

"Sorry, Horatio."

"Debra, is there anything we can do?"

"Find Trix a good stable.  I'm working on them.  The other things, the IRS has already been called about.  Tony and I briefed the agent who came.  Now, the three cars we couldn't send back?  They're open for whatever.  Don sent down the Barracuda.  It got sent to him for you and Xander by that tag."  He growled a bit.  "The Benz is just yours and the other ones out back that came today came for you and you alone," she said happily.  "You can probably donate them if you want."   She gave the horse a pat on the way past her.  "She's a good mare.  Very good listener."  She walked him out back.  "These came today," she announced, showing him the four hummers with boxes.  "I'm tracking down their dealerships but again, driven over.  The boxes I haven't gotten into yet.  I had an unfortunate body part sent to me earlier and I had to wait on Alexx to come pick it up."  He nodded once, going over to open the back hatch and see what the top box was.  He looked then pulled out his phone to call someone.  "Alexx again?"

"Yes," he sighed.  He showed her the note that said, //you can catch me if you want, handsome// written in blood.  "Alexx, Horatio.  Captain Turner got sent a few hummers with boxes in them.  At least one has a taunting note written in blood.  Please.  You might want to, yes.  They're full of boxes."  He hung up and looked at her.  Then he shut the hatch and looked at her again.  "Send them to CSI?"

"I can do that.  I'll let them know what I can find on the buyer as well."

"Thank you.  Anything else I should know?"

"Did you get his ring yet?"

"I did.  I'll be picking it up on the way to the airport," he admitted.

"Good."  She punched him on the arm.  "Thank Tony for the bourbon for me.  Have a good honeymoon, Horatio."  She smiled.  "Remember, it only lasts about four years."

"Four years," he said, nodding, walking off sliding back on his sunglasses.  "Xander's worth four years of insane misery," he told himself over and over all the way to pick up the ring.  He walked into the store, seeing the smiling people.  "I'm here to pick up my fiancee's ring?" he asked quietly.  "Caine."  A whole stack of tied boxes was handed to him.  "I only ordered one ring."

"These are wedding presents, sir," the saleswoman told him.

"Those go to Captain Turner.  All I need is the wedding ring.  I'm on my way to the airport."

She pouted.  "Are you sure?"

"Captain Turner is sorting out all the presents for us," he assured her.  An older man walked out.  "You did get the memo?"

"I did, Lieutenant."  He handed over a simple midnight blue box.  Horatio checked, it was Xander's ring.  He got smiled at.  "The other things will be sent to Captain Turner.  When is the wedding?  We hadn't seen the announcement."

"We'll be married publically but it's a surprise when," he said with a small smile.  "Thank you.  Make sure the others get to Captain Turner please."  He nodded so Horatio walked out, going to the airport.  His bag was in his trunk.  He parked and got out, grabbing his bag, but he turned and ran into Ryan.  "Flying up with me?"

"I'm the only one staying," he admitted grimly.  Horatio handed over the keys.  "Thanks.  I'm on my way to see Captain Turner?"

"There were four hummers sent to her earlier today," he admitted quietly.  "They are full of boxes."  Ryan nodded once at that.  "The one I opened had a taunting note written in blood.  Alexx said to bring them in that way and sort them out in the garage."

"I can do that.  I ordered auto pool to join me there.  I'll take good care of your hummer, Horatio."

"Thank you, Mr. Wolfe.  Try to have an easy weekend."

Ryan smirked.  "You too.  Remember, Monday morning is the announcement meeting for the new chief and we've all got to be there."  He got into the hummer, heading back to the warehouse.

Horatio walked his bag inside, making sure the ring was in his pocket.  He had an e-ticket so he didn't have to check anything, just head to the terminal.  He bypassed security quickly enough, getting a few smug looks when they saw the ring on x-ray.  He shrugged one-sidedly.  A quick stop for coffee while he waited for his flight and he was a happier man.  As long as he forgot that his mate had been given a horse and a sheepdog.


Xander strolled into the Christmas Lights ball on Horatio's arm, smiling at the people around them. "There's Mac, Stella, and Don's hiding behind Mac."

"There's Speed and Eric," he agreed, smiling at them.  "Looks like Speed brought Calleigh and somehow John and Frank came together."  Xander gave them an odd look then him.  "We were having that upgrade to the phone lines.  They had it off.  How often do you get to go to one of these if you're not born to the life?  I thought it would be a thrill for them and the sponsors didn't mind when I asked."

"Good point."  He walked over to greet the ones he knew, including a few matrons, who gave him a coo and a smile.  He pulled Horatio with him.  "Ladies, this is Horatio Caine.  He's mine.  I will bite if you pinch him," he teased one, who tittered before shaking Horatio's hand.

"Charmed, ladies," Horatio said, shaking the other hands.  "I should catch up with the rest of the board."  He left Xander, stroking over his shoulder.  He did look very fine in the white silk suit and cream open necked silk shirt.  He smiled at Frank, who nearly squealed and pounced him.  "Calm down."

"Does the kid know?" John asked.  "He looks way too calm."

Horatio smiled but shook his head.  "No."  They all smiled, gathering around to talk when Mac and Stella came over, then Don scurried over for cover.  "Don, they won't hurt you."

"Yes they will.  Mac said they pinch."

Xander came over, walking Don off.  "Come on."  He brought him on his rounds with him.  "Mrs. Yearns, this is my Uncle, Detective Don Flack.  Grandfather married his aunt for his second wife."

"Hi," Don said, smiling at her.  She shook his hand.

"You'll learn, Don.  Relax.  Be calm.  The only bouncy one allowed around here is Xander."  He laughed and nodded at that.  "Now, do you know the curly haired goddess over there?  She's not a trophy wife I've met yet."

"That would be Detective Bonasera.  She's Mac Taylor's second in the lab and on the board of the Benis Foundation with us," Don said.  "She's a great friend.  Likes to fuss and spoil.  I'm hoping she either meets someone very nice very soon or she knocks Mac down and drags him off."

Mrs. Yearns burst out giggling at that.  "We will adore you, Don.  You're very blunt but cute."  She pinched him on the cheek.  She looked around then pointed.  "Come along, boys.  This way you have someone you can check things with if you start getting invitations.  That way you know which ones you have to go to and which you don't."

"PD related events and anything Xander throws," he told her.

Xander looked at him.  "I only host one or two things a year and they're in Miami, Don.  There's two big gay events," he said, walking him over there, "someone in the family has to go up here.  There's three people in society you *never* snub.  Mrs. Yearns is one of them in Miami."  He looked at her.  "I do see a lot of us up here."

"Tony got on the phone and reminded us all it's a beautiful event for a great cause.  The local hospitals really do need the funds this year thanks to budget cuts."

Xander nodded.  "I'm on the board to do the next one for our Children's Hospital," he admitted.  "Patrise."  She turned, smiling at them.  "Mrs. Rockerfeller, this is my uncle, Detective Don Flack Junior.  Don, this is one of the latest in a long line of founding matrons of the city.  Of course she's too young to be a matron but she claims she is one."

"Oh, do stop, Xander."  She swatted him gently.  "He's such a suck up now and then."

Don smiled.  "You should see him when he eats chocolate."

"I have.  Used your handcuffs?"

"Only the once and it was so he couldn't go model something obscene.  Uncle Pat asked me to."  He shook her hand.  "Pleasure to meet you, ma'am."

"Patrise, Don isn't really looking forward to joining us but now and then Patrick or Xander will need him to fill in.  Can I have you mentor him when necessary?"

"Of course!  My own daughter's nearly thirty now and has two children.  I'd love to get him sorted out."  She looked around.  "Who are the group of people I don't know?"

Xander looked then smile.  "The redhead is my fiancee, Horatio," Xander said quietly, earning a squeal and a hug.  "Thank you.  The blonde on his arm is his ballistics expert, Calleigh Duquesne.  She's from New Orleans.  There's a few detectives, his sister-in-law is the Brazilian goddess whose giggling and leaning on her coworker.  The rest of the board's members, both Miami's and the local ones.  I can introduce you if you want."

"Just wondering, dear."  She stroked his cheek with a smile.  He gave her a confused look.  "Relax, Xander.  It's all right."

"Did I do something wrong?"

"No, dear.  You did something very right and we do adore you with Horatio.  We always have adored your best friend."

"He understands me," he said quietly, giving her a kicked puppy look.  "I know someone will care but I don't."

"Good.  That's how it should be."  She took Don from him.  "Let me have my new stepchild and we'll see you in a little while, all right?"  He nodded, heading back over there.  She smiled at her Miami counterpart.  "He doesn't know?"

"Horatio and his head of security, Tony, set everything up," Mrs. Yearns said quietly.

"Ah.  No wonder he's not nervous but he's feeling the anticipation going up."  She smiled and walked Don off.  "Relax, Don.  My father was once Inspector Kingsbrook."

He looked at her.  "You're old Marty's daughter?  I thought she was older."

She pinched him.  "I am older.  I aged gracefully.  Your father is quite a pain in my ass too, always picking on me," she said quietly, earning a smile.  "That's one reason why you were given to me to mentor, dear.  So I can make sure you don't step on the wrong person's ego."  She patted him on the arm, taking him out to a balcony to talk to him about what events he wanted to go to.  They came back in when everyone was rounded up.  "Who's walking Xander?"

"Uncle Pat."  He escorted her to her seat then went to find his, collapsing next to Stella.  "Hi."

"Hi.  You found a new friend?"

"She'll be helping me when I get called on to do this stuff."  He looked at Mac.  "Did you know she was Inspector Kingsbrook's daughter?" he asked quietly.

"I didn't but she's a very nice woman.  I've met her socially before."  He smiled as Yelina and Ray Junior walked Horatio down the aisle.  The wedding march started and Patrick walked in, pulling Xander up out of his seat.  Xander made squeaky, frightened noises.

Patrick smiled at him.  "Do you love him this much?"

"Hell yes."

"Don't swear," he chided, earning some laughs.  "Come on, Grandson.  We set this up for you."  He walked him up there, staring at Horatio for a minute.  "It's a good thing we already love you like family.  Now I can dote on Ray Junior."  He smiled at the boy, handing Xander's hand to Horatio, then taking his spot next to him as his best man.

The justice of the peace, the mayor, smiled at them.  "It's not often I'm called on to do an untraditional ceremony but I think this time it's my pleasure and perfect for them."  He opened the program.  "Horatio Caine, do you take this young man, Alexander Benis, to be your semi-legally lawful mate?"

"I take him as my husband and mate," Horatio told him.

The mayor smiled.  "Do you, Alexander Benis, take this man, Horatio Caine, to be your semi-legally lawful mate?"

"He is my husband and my mate," Xander agreed, smiling, even though he wanted to sniffle.  Horatio gently wiped at his cheek, letting Xander rest against his hand.  "Yours?" he asked quietly.

"Mine," Horatio agreed.  He looked at Yelina, taking the box from her.  "This is also yours."  He slid the ring onto Xander's finger, getting a sated, content smile.  "All mine."

"Yours," he agreed. "I...."  Horatio stroked him with the hand wearing the bracelet.  "You're sure?"

"No spoiling me with another ring.  The bracelet is more ring than I'll ever need."

"Then I'll pronounce you as close to married as we can get at this point in history," the mayor announced.  "We'll leave the sappy speeches about what marriage should be until later."  That got a loud round of applause from the audience and he stepped down.  "Kiss him, Xander," he prompted.  Xander pounced, nearly driving Horatio into Yelina.  "Ahh, newlyweds."  He smiled when Patrick forced them apart and back down the aisle to the buffet table.  The others followed while Xander looked around.

He smiled. "I should have realized something was up.  I know too many of you here."  That got some laughs and he smiled at Horatio.  "I'm so happy, and proud, and a bit scared.  Marriage is scary."  Horatio smiled and nodded.  "But I'll be the best spouse he could want."  He took a gentle kiss.  Then he smiled at the others.  "For the obvious reasons, we're going to cut the cake and then dance, people.  Anyone mind?"  They all smiled and shook their heads. "Thank you all for coming to my wedding.  Wow."  He beamed at Horatio then at his grandfather.  "I'll spank you later for being so sneaky."

"Horatio and Tony planned it, Grandson.  Get on with the cutting so you can dance and then disappear on your honeymoon."

Xander gave him a wicked looking smirk.  "Forgot about that part."  The others laughed at that so he and Horatio grabbed the knife, cutting into the cake, feeding each other little pieces.  He was tempted to smear the icing but he knew Horatio would spank him for it.  Horatio...  He did dot his nose first with a smirk of his own before feeding it to him.  Then they kissed again.  The crowd cheered, letting them go out to dance the first dance of their married lives.  Horatio was even nice enough to wipe the frosting off with his finger, letting him suck it off.  "No wonder Tony wouldn't let me get the white leather."

"Mm-huh," Horatio agreed, smiling at him.

"When are you moving in?"

"Yesterday.   I had all my clothes packed and Tony hired someone to bring them over for me.  The rest of the house, I'll deal with soon."  Xander beamed, giving him a squeeze.  "That's my boy."

"Husband," he teased.

"Husband as well," he agreed, kissing him.  "Very naughty husband since I can tell you're not even wearing a thong."  Xander blushed, putting his head on his shoulder.  "We should escape."

Xander looked around, nodding for someone's benefit, getting a nod.  "We'll see the others tomorrow I'm sure."

"Brunch," Horatio agreed.  "They're at the house."  He walked off, Xander tucked under his arm, heading out to their honeymoon suite.  The hotel treated them like royalty.  They had champagne up there, the good stuff, and a small plate of chocolates as he had requested.  They had their bag already up there and unpacked.  Horatio turned on some music, dancing with him.  "Much better.  No one's giving you teary eyed looks now."

Xander rested his head against Horatio's shoulder.  "Much better," he agreed.  "Thank you."

"You are very welcome."  He took a kiss, smiling at him.  "But I'm still spanking you for going commando to a social function."

"I, um, was kinda sore from earlier," he admitted.  "The thong hurt when it rubbed the wrong spot."

"I'll have to kiss it and make it better," he promised, earning a shiver and Xander stealing another kiss.  Yes, this was much better.  Xander was still his good boy, even if he did drive people insane with lust.




Tony looked outside, frowning as he opened the back door.  "Gibbs, use the dog to herd the terrors," he called.  "One's heading for the cliff again."

"Fetch the kids," Gibbs ordered, sending his dog out to catch the running toddler, who thought it was a great game to be the fetched item.  The dog carried her back by the back of her shirt, letting him take her back.  "Thank you.  Good girl.  Drag the other one inside."  He handed Tony that one, rescuing the other giggling one from the dog.  "Where is your father?"

"In bed with the flu," Tony reminded him.  He put them both inside.  "Go ask Rebecca for cookies for Daddy."  They ran that way, getting the baggies handed over.  "Now, up the stairs!"  They ran that way too.  He leaned against a counter, shaking his head.  "It's hard work watching those two today."

"Their mothers will come steal them in a few hours," Gibbs assured him.  "Where's the other father?"

"In bed with the flu," he said grimly.  "Horatio caught it off Xander."  They shared a look then a smile.  "Did you hear?  Calleigh asked to give them another one.  She's missing being spoiled rotten by Xander."

"I didn't."  He walked the dog off smiling.  It was a cherry assignment being one of the senior guards on staff.  Even if his dog did have to fetch the kids now and then.


Xander woke up when he was pounced, smiling at his little girl.  "Hey, princess."  He kissed her on the forehead.  "Such a good girl."  He took the smooshed cookies she held up.  "Thank you.  I needed cookies to feel better.  Should we watch a movie, Gretchen?"  She beamed and nodded, settling in beside him.  He nudged Horatio.  "Pick Ivy up.  She brought you cookies."

Horatio picked up his daughter, putting her between them, taking the bag of slightly less smooshed cookies.  "Movie time?"

"I think it is," Xander agreed, turning on the DVD system.  He had a 200 disc DVD changer courtesy of his last birthday and Tony.  "Hmm.  Let's see.  We have... Cinderella on the kid's menu.  We have Sleeping Beauty."

"You, daddy," Ivy said, beaming at him.

"That's right, I have been a sleeping beauty," he agreed happily.  "Your Papa and I both."  She stroked over his arm.  "Thank you, precious."  She beamed and fed him a bite of cookie with a giggle.  "Thank you for that too."  He looked.  "How about...  Flubber?"  He looked at Horatio.

"I could stand that."  It was turned on and they settled in to nibble on the bits and pieces of cookies while the girls fell asleep.  He smiled at his husband.  "Gretchen looks so much like you when she sleeps," he teased.

Xander looked down at the little arms and legs that had went around his side.  "Only the best genes," he teased back.  He snuck a kiss over Ivy's head.  "Calleigh called last night."

"I talked to her yesterday."   He took another kiss.  "They are going to their own bed later, no matter how nasty I feel."

"That's why you two have bubbles," Tony said as he walked in.  He looked at the tv, then at the knocked out toddlers.  Yelina had carried Ivy for Horatio, giving him a beautiful redheaded daughter with very dark skin.  She was going to look exotic when she grew up.  Gretchen was going to be pale and dark haired.   Somehow she was as pale as Horatio was, or as Abby was really.  She'd make a stunning goth daughter some year soon.  Both mothers had been bribed by Raphael to give them grandchildren before their first year of marriage was up.  He gathered them up.  "Calleigh's home."  He walked them to the nursery, putting them into their beds.  Calleigh came in to peek in on the kids.  "Flubber."

"Works like a charm," she agreed happily.  "Bed?"

"Bed, probably cuddling."

"I've seen it before," she promised, heading down there.  She had a guest room in the house from when she had been carrying Gretchen.  This time, she wanted her boys.  She walked in and smiled at the cuddling, crawling in behind Horatio, giving him a hug.  Xander looked over the pale shoulder, getting a smile.  "I'm going to do it again."

"John still won't marry you?"

"No, but he growls so prettily when I'm pregnant," she teased.  John Hagen had worked up the most possessive growling routine the last time.  It had been fun to watch.  It had made Xander nervous but Horatio had helped him see it'd be okay.  "I went to the doctor's today."

Xander pulled her over Horatio's shoulder to kiss her.  "I'm going to spoil you so rotten John'll have to marry you to get you away from me."  She laughed and pinched him, giving Horatio another hug.  "I will," he told Horatio.

"I'm sure you will," he agreed.  "We both will.  He even growled over Yelina."

"So did Frank," she teased him.

"Frank decided her having Ivy for Horatio meant that she'd draw Horatio-sized trouble," Xander reminded her.  He sniffed her, then beamed.  "Already?  After one try?  I'm very potent."

Horatio spanked him.  "Bad thoughts.  If you had married her, you'd have ten children by now, Xander."

"Grandfather would ecstatic," he reminded him.  He beamed at her.  "When can I tell him?"

"Tonight.  If we can verify it."  He nodded, crawling over his spouse to hug her between them.  Horatio smiled.  "You're not jealous?"

"No, but if you make Yelina have more mood swings I'm going to spank you," he said dryly.  "Frank's promised to ship her off to one of Xander's former stalkers."

She pinched him again.  "Behave.  It was baby envy.  Ray Junior's getting very old and she wanted a new one."  Yelina strolled in with Tony behind her.  "Hi again."

"Hi.  He said you had some news?"  Calleigh beamed and nodded.  "Got homesick for the spoiling?" she teased.

"Of course.  Who wouldn't want me to spoil them," Xander teased back.  Yelina snickered at that.  "You liked it too."

"I did.  It was very good spoiling."

"Mommy 'Lina," Gretchen said, smiling at her.  "Hi, hi.  Doggy fetched me."

"Again?  We'll have to tell Sheppard that you're not a ball."  She gave her a hug.

"Shouldn't you be napping?" Tony asked.

She beamed at him then nodded. "So?"  Xander snickered.  "See, make daddy happy."

"It was an answer that was one of his originally," Horatio said dryly.  "Go back to your nap and we'll have a family dinner later if we can talk Rebecca into it, dear."  She ran back to her room once Tony let her down.  He smiled at his sister-in-law.  "Did Ray come back again?"

"Yes and he's sober and better this time.  Has been for over a year.  The missionary trip you two sent him on seems to have worked."  She came over to lay against Horatio's back. "Tony, you won't mind a new baby Xander, would you?"

"Not in the least.  When it's born a boy I'll even make sure his future head of security understands what the family curse is really about.  That way he'll be prepared for the hostage taking zombies. Or the  local matrons who'll die and leave him everything, royally pissing off any remaining family they had. Or the suicidal Saudi family.  Or the small, conservative Christian college campus that got together to send the Foundation a donation and named a new math principle and a star after him.  Or even the embezzling Swiss banker who used it all to buy him pretty things so he could launder the money when they got sent back."  He strolled out, closing the door behind him, checking on the girls on his way past.  He would broach the subject of a nanny in a few months.  Even though Xander was the *most* hands-on parent ever seen he'd have his hands full with the new one. He called a quick staff meeting in the back garden, looking at his people.  Gibbs' dog barked at him.  "Hi, Jen.  People, Calleigh has decided she's giving them another one.  She started to try earlier today."  That got some smiles.  "So far Yelina hasn't thought about it."

"That was one strong woman," Jethro said dryly, shaking his head.  He looked at his dog then at Tony.  "She okay?"

"So far.  Just a head's up.  No selection this time so it might be a boy."  They all groaned.  "We've got at least sixteen years after he's born before the family curse comes back.  Remember that."  They all nodded. "Sports should start within a year however. We've caught Xander getting both girls into the pool and teaching them how to tumble.  That means we'll be appointing the girls their own bodyguard as soon as they're going out to things without their fathers.  Also, let's work on the idea of how to fence in the cliff without spoiling the view?" he asked Gibbs.  "That way your dog doesn't have to keep treating the girls like sticks."

"She seems to like that game too," he pointed out, petting his dog.  She barked and he smirked.  "Behave.  You can fetch the girls later."  He looked at his boss.  "New guards?"

"Three new ones start next week," he reminded them.  "Only mildly haze the rookies, guys.  One's a former Feeb and he's probably a bit scared."  That got some nods and laughs.  "Good.  Go back to whatever.  Rebecca's cooking dinner by now I'm sure."  He went back inside.  "Rebecca, dear, Yelina and Calleigh are both here.  Calleigh went to visit the special doctor today."  She squealed and hugged him, dancing him around.  "Plus the guys look starved."

"I'll make a huge meal."  She got back to work, adding more meat to the frying pan.


Eleven Years Later:


Tony smiled at the kids going off for their first day at Pace Academy, waving at them.  "Behave today.  Do not make me spank.  Your fathers won't like it when they hear it from me, kids."

The four kids all waved but shook their heads.  Gretchen and Ivy were now fourteen.  Gretchen looked a lot like her mother, only with her father's hair and stunning brown eyes.  Ivy looked like Yelina in skin tone and overall body shape but had Horatio's features, eyes, and hair.  Their little brother, Patrick Raphael Benis, looked like a blond version of his father at his age.  Same messy hair, same slight slouch, same face.  The youngest one at five waved again at Tony before climbing into the car, closing the door behind her.  Tony loved Elizabeth.  Someone had done some genetic manipulation so she was Horatio's daughter on the maternal side and Xander's on the paternal side.  She had Horatio's eyes and stare and Xander's facial features and hair color.  She had been carried by Yelina at her instigation - as had been the genetic flip - and was the darling of everyone.  She got all the nice, sweet, and evil genes in the family.  She could talk you into anything and then smile sweetly at you when you realized you shouldn't have given in so you felt bad about not wanting to after all.  She was why they had four dogs, two miniature horses - in case the one got lonely, two outdoor cats, and fourteen fish after one had committed fishicide this morning.  Her father was the reason they had two more dogs and one more cat, plus the original miniature horse. He turned and looked at Yelina, who was wiping off her cheeks.  "House is free!" he called.  "Let's party!"

"Whoo-hoo!" Xander called from his office.  Yelina shook her head, walking off, going back to her patrol.  She and Gibbs had worked out...an arrangement while she had been carrying Elizabeth.  They were cute together. She even helped him when he worked on toys for the kids.  She was also training with the next generation of guard dogs from Jen's last litter.  Gibbs was working on training them so he'd have one to replace her when she had to be retired and fell back to breeding bitch status.  Tony smiled as Horatio came down the stairs.  "Kids are off."

"Thank God," he muttered.  "They've been fussing for weeks."

Tony smiled.  "It's a big thing to change schools.  Their two bodyguards have already given me their schedule for later.  Patrick's meeting with the gymnastics coach after school.  Ivy's doing the same thing and Gretchen's going to play with the horses."  That got a smile and a nod.  "What's Xander going to do if she plays polo?"

"Cry but make himself go," he admitted.  "No after school plans for Liz?"

"Grandparents."  That got a smile.  The original Patrick was starting to go downhill again and had been demanding equal time with his grandchildren recently.  Not that anyone minded or would stop the kids from going over.  "They're all staying over there tonight on their orders.  So we've got a free house if you wanted to be noisy."  He walked off smiling. "Board meeting next weekend."

"Thank you."  He went to find his spouse for a kiss, getting a grin in return from Calleigh.  "Need a ride?"

"Please."  She got up, heading out with him.  "John's still growling at me."

"John needs tied down and screwed into heaven," Xander called after her.  "You carry cuffs, Calleigh.  Use them."

She giggled, leaning on Horatio's arm, shaking her head.  "Maybe later."  She smiled at her boss, who was now over all the labs while she had the daytime felony lab and Speed had nightshift.  He had been saved by Raphael a few years back when he had nearly died trying to save Liz from a kidnaper.  He and Danny from Mac's lab were both doted on children by Patrick and his sire.  "Are you redoing your vows?"

"It has been fifteen years.  Next year, when it's legal in this state too," he promised, letting her into his personal hummer.  It had been his first anniversary present from his mate.  Xander had also helped him christen it that night.  Needless to say he hadn't made it to work for a week from the back injury.  She hopped in and they headed off.  Miami still hadn't closed and Xander's good boy reputation was being carried on by their kids.  At least until Patrick started to date.

The End.

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