Xander walked in and looked at Calleigh, who smiled and nodded, taking the wire off him.  "Anything good and helpful come up?"

"Yup, he left a partial label on one of the skin mags."  She bundled up the wire.  "I erased the first part until I heard you ask the bouncer if the boss was in."  She patted him on the cheek. "Good job, Xander."

"Thank you."  He blew a kiss.  "Am I doing dinner?"

"Um, no.  Tim said if you ever tried to cook again he was going to handcuff you to the bed, remember?"  He nodded and grinned.  "He went out to get dinner and to look at a few of the apartments. He'll be back in an hour with Horatio."  That got a grin.  "You like him," she teased, swatting him gently.

"He's a nice guy and he wants to help me when I get stuck. It's not often I meet people who want to help me do things."  He sat down, getting comfy.  "Anything I can know?"

She nodded, smirking at Don. "His label came up with a New York zip code.  Mac's calling Stella with what we have to she can track it.  She said she misses you guys a lot and to give Speed hell for coming back."  Don smirked at that and headed into the kitchen.  She looked at Xander. "Do you have a crush on him?" she asked quietly.

"Don?"  He shook his head.  "No.  He's a nice guy."

"I mean Horatio," she muttered.  He slowly shook his head this time, giving her a look like she was insane.  "Are you sure?"

"He's hot but he's protesting a lot.  I could only be with someone who wanted me.  Sorry."

"No, that's okay.  I just needed stuff to sleep to tonight.   You make him smile you know."

"And growl.  He growled at me earlier."

"Well, yeah, since you magiced the neighbor," she teased.  Don came back and she grinned at him.  "Danny's back at the lab right now with Mac, Eric, and Speed.  It's just us."

"That's fine, I like you, Calleigh.  Even if he doesn't like me like that."

"Hey, I think you're hot and you'd be good, but I doubt you'd feed my chocolate habit or cuddle.  I like to cuddle."

Don laughed and nodded.  "It'd be like dating Aiden, kid, it'd never work," he promised.  He popped open his beer and took a sip.  "You had some crappy day dancers."

"He was new," he offered.  "Only been there a few days. I was that bad my first week too until I went to one of the best dancers and pleaded with him to teach me something.  He spent his day off working with me.  I'm damn happy he wanted to improve the quality in the club.  Most of the guys are really jealous."

"Some can be, yeah, and so are the women," Don admitted. "I've dated a few."  He took another drink and put the beer down at Xander's look.  "Sorry, forgot."

"Just don't get drunk around me please."  He nodded at that.  He looked at Calleigh.  "Which one did he go look at?"

"The really nice four bedroom for the cost of an efficiency around her," she promised, sitting next to him and letting him cuddle into her. "You don't like blondes?"

"No.  They tend to be scarier," he offered, pouting a bit at her. "I like you as a buddy. You're a nice lady."   She smiled and stroked his hair.  "Ooooh, right there."  He tipped his head and she scratched the spot for him.  "Thank you."  He let out a happy moan.  "Now all I have to do is go through my clothes to separate out the stripper stuff that I can't wear daily and the rest put away."  She giggled and he shrugged a bit.  "I have a lot of clothes since I haven't thrown anything out.  I got my stuff out of storage in Sunnydale and had it sent to me."

"You did?  We didn't even know."

"I had the vampire moving company do it," he admitted. "They work under cover of dark.  I paid the next month's rent on the space and then let it lapse."  He tipped his head a bit more and she smiled, working on that spot. "Thank you.  I could use a trim."

"You could," she agreed.  "Tim seems to think you look more dangerous with really short hair."

"He thinks I'm dangerous all the time," Xander quipped. "And he's not often wrong about that but I don't.  It depends on how short I go."  The door opened and he looked out, seeing the disgruntled look.  "That bad?"

"No, that good.  And it's in a good neighborhood.  You can't hunt unless there's an emergency and especially not in the building."  Xander shrugged. "You sure?"  Xander nodded.  "Okay."  He called the new landlady. "He said he'd only hunt in emergencies or warn me first."

"I'd hit Tentacles anyway," Xander offered.  "There's always someone down there who's hurting others."

Tim repeated that and smiled, nodding at him.  "We can move this weekend...."  He blinked and nodded.  "Sure.  I can do that," he agreed.  "Thank you, ma'am."  He hung up.  "She said there's a kraken down on the beach and if you can kill it, she'll give us two months free rent and no security deposit."  Don moaned at that and he nodded. "Yeah, big savings."

Xander got up and nodded, heading into his room. "I need the big thing of salt and my longer hunting blade," he called. He came out in stuff he could get wet in, taking the knife from Speed's hand carefully, tucking it into his waistband.  Then the sea salt was handed over. "Which beach?"  Tim wrote it out and he nodded, heading out to do that.  When he came back, Tim was bragging that they got free rent.  "I hate those things," he complained, heading right for the shower.  He had black ooze in his hair. It was as close to blood as those things got.  You had to keep cutting off tentacles until you got to the mouth and then pour salt in it and stab it a few times too.  His knife went on the sink and the shower was turned on full.  He wiggled out of his clothes and dropped them on the tile, then got in with a sigh of relief.  Ooze itched when it dried. He didn't care if he used all the hot water for the building.  He had his eyes closed and rinsing out the third dose of shampoo when he heard the movement in the bathroom.  He opened an eye partway and saw a shape outside the doors.  Not a silhouette he recognized.  It was bulkier and wider than the cops he knew.  Unless it was Frank Tripp, but he was taller than this guy.  The guy's hand reached for the door and he tensed himself to attack or defend, using a heel strike to pin the arm with the knife against the wall and knock it out of his hand.  "Out!" he shouted.  "Now!"  Horatio came running and grabbed the guy.  Small bathrooms were a blessing at times.  He bent down and picked up the knife, handing it over.  "I want that back."

"What's on it?" he complained.

"Kraken blood.  Ooze.  That'll stain."  It was carefully held away from his suit and the man was marched out to the living room.  Xander went back to his shower, not caring that the bathroom door was open.  He was good with some supervision at the moment.  He turned and found Anya behind him.  "I don't like females," he told her, opening the door and shoving her out.  "Laters."  He went back to cleaning up. He was content now.

Danny peeked in at the sound of crying, helping Anya up and out to the living room.  "You know her?"

"Anya," Tim said dryly.  "Morning.  Back again to do more harm?"

"You turned him gay!" she wailed, collapsing to cry some more. "How could you!  Xander gave very good oral sex!  It's not fair!"

Danny patted her on the back.  "Women's loss is men's gain," he told her.  "Go for a sex change."  She glared at him and he shrugged.  "It's an option, that's all I'm saying."  She burst out crying again, hugging Tim's legs.

"Get off!" he complained, shaking her free.  "Damn, woman.  Go let Eric do you or something.  He'd sleep with nearly anything."  She looked happier at that.  "Delko.  Cuban guy I work with?"  She perked up even more at that.  "Go jump him."   She disappeared and he sighed.

"That was mean," Calleigh said sweetly, grinning at him.  "If you help me check the calibration tomorrow I won't tell him."

"He'll enjoy it.  Xander did until she nearly killed him."  He went back into the kitchen then went to check on Xander.  "Xander, food?"

"Let me finish scraping off the ooze."

"Sure.  Ten minutes."

"There's not that much hot water left anyway.  Can you get me a pair of sweats or something?"

"Sure.  Are these black velvet pants yours?"

"Yeah, from my bedtime story set."  He turned off the water and got out, taking the towel to start on his hair.  The pants were handed to him. "Thanks."

"Welcome," Horatio offered.

Xander looked up at him. "Hi."  He went back to drying off.  Wet velvet was not fun for anyone.  He finally got done and wrapped his hair up and put on the lounge pants, heading out to look in the washer, then get his clothes and put them in there on soak.  They could soak all night for all he cared.

"You're soaking on cold?" Tim asked.

"Yeah and I need to add vinegar in an hour.  Remind me, okay?"  Tim nodded, smirking at him. "Food?"

"Kitchen."  Xander nodded and went that way.  He looked at the velvet pants.  "You wore those on stage?"

"Yup.  Started out in 'em for my bedtime story set.  Then I got down to the fuzzy velvet thong and danced to that and then, well, Montreal is a full monty city," he admitted dryly. He came out with a plate of food. "I took the last of the chicken."

"As I knew you would," Tim agreed patiently.  "Sit, eat."  He saw Xander look and wiggle between Horatio and Danny, it was the only place to sit. He got his own dinner and came out, sitting on the floor against the wall.  "Was that him?"

"That was the killer but not the present giver," Don sighed.  "He's giving him up.  We hope."

"He will," Horatio assured him.  "Yelina is cranky today at this man for trying to hurt Xander."  He looked at him.  "You're getting another mother."

"At least I'm a good example of what not to do," he said before taking a bite.  "You can use me as an example to keep your nephew off the stage and away from hunting."  He ate another bite. "Plus Tim said she cooks very well."

"Why do you call him Tim most of the time?" Danny asked.  "By the way, do you know the girl that popped around to hit on me today?"

"She's from Sunnydale, she followed Buffy.  She's mostly sane.  She's good in bed."  He grinned.  "She won't complain at anything you could want to do."  He stuffed his mouth before it could get him another dirty look from Tim.

"So why do you call him Tim?" Calleigh asked.

"That's his name."

"I was doing a bit of moping myself and didn't want to hear my nickname so I said to call me Tim," Speed offered. "He still does most of the time."  He smiled at her.  "I wasn't completely happy when Aiden prayed for some help after being in Sunnydale for two weeks and I got sent," he admitted. "She did hug nice when I landed in the church behind her."

"Gee, she had only barely met us then.  She was in for worse than just meeting Buffy," Xander said dryly, shaking his head and finishing his dinner.  He put the plate down and weathered the shocked looks. "I'm doing dishes later," he assured them. "I often do."

"He does, and then he complains when I do his laundry."  Tim smirked at him.  "The next place has a dishwasher."

"I love that invention nearly as much as I like the microwave," he said happily.  "I'll gladly take loading and unloading."

"That means you've got to do the pots and casserole dishes by hand," Tim pointed out.

"So?  They can soak overnight."

"Good point.  I do that too.  We'll see. You know how fussy I am about some things."

"Yes, and you're turning me into a fussy person too," he pointed out gently.

"All good CSI have a neat streak," Horatio assured him.  "Speed's comes out in different ways."

"Ryan Wolfe has OCD," Calleigh offered.  She smiled at Speed.  "Where's your gun?"

"I clean them for him," Xander told her.  "Military precision and all, dear.  While I watch cartoons every single Saturday morning.  I had to go back and find a spring because I was laughing so hard it rolled off the table but I realized it was gone and went looking right away."

"Can I see anyway?"  Xander shrugged and looked at Tim, who nodded so he got up to get them for her.  She smiled as she broke down the first one, blinking at it.  "These are cleaner than Ryan's.  I'm impressed, Xander.  Now teach him how to do it when you're too busy studying."

"It's calming for me. I sharpened all the knives and swords at the same time," Xander assured her.  He heard his phone go off and sighed, looking at Speed, who got up to answer it. Anyone who was calling him from Sunnydale he didn't want to talk to.  "I like cleaning and fussing over the weapons.  It's one of the best things I ever got out of that possession."

Speed came back. "Mac, did you give Stella Xander's cellphone number?"  He handed over the phone.

"I hadn't but if she's talked to Aiden maybe she did."  He heard the squeal and listened to her babble.  "No, she was here, she left really early this morning."  He saw the kid's pout and smirked at him.  "She said she's popping around during spring break, Xander."   He listened to his coworker happily chat.  "No, Xander is Tim Speedle's adopted kid.  He's nineteen and serial killers like him.  No, stripper."

"I'm the one you caught that guy in Montreal over," Xander offered.

"I knew I knew you from somewhere," Don said, frowning at him.  Xander just smirked back. "The last time I saw you, you had an ice bag on your head."

"I needed it, I had skull fractures."

"Have skull fractures," Tim noted dryly, sitting down again.  "X-Ray's next week, Xander."  He watched as Mac got up and headed into the kitchen, then looked over as the door slammed open and Eric walked in, slamming it closed. "Careful, the neighbors complained earlier.  Not that we're not moving but she seems like she's a nice old lady.  She knits cat sweaters."  He pointed at the kitchen. "There's a little bit of food left."

"No thanks.  Who sent me the nympho?"  He looked at Xander.  "She looked an awful lot like one of your friends."

"Well, she was from Sunnydale," Xander admitted with a shy grin.  "But I'll damned if I'm sleeping with her again."  Someone upstairs pounded on the floor.  "Am I being loud?"

"No," he said, shaking his head.  "She's being fussy.  We must be interrupting her knitting."  Some more thumping.  "We're not being noisy, Mrs. Palmer."  He went back to looking at Eric.  "What'd she do? Jump you in the station?"

"In front of Stetler!"  Some more thumping.  "Are you sure she's not having a seizure?"

"Fairly, it's not rhythmic," Speed noted.  "Like I said, she complained earlier.  I hope the next one likes heavy metal at dawn."  Xander snickered at that. "Or Yanni, nearly as annoying."  He looked at Eric again.  "It was a group consensus that you needed some fun and she was looking for fun.  But no one ever said she had tact or discretion.  Did you sic her on Stetler?"

"Well, yeah," he admitted, grinning at Horatio.  "Anything we can bug him over?"

"She's demonic," Xander said sweetly, smiling at him.  "A vengeance demon who does happen to be a nympho."  Eric gave him an odd look.  "She's the one I took to the prom, Eric.  She pressured me into it.  The one I had to call to be saved from."

"I remember Speed saying something about that."  He headed into the kitchen. "You sure no one wants seconds or anything?" he asked.

"No, go ahead," Speed promised.  "You can use Xander's plate, he didn't lick it this time."  Eric came out and got it to rinse off then use it.  "One less dish for you to do," he offered smugly.

"Love you too, dad."  He looked at Horatio.  "I've got to go through my clothes tomorrow.  Where's the nearest drop box for a thrift store?"

"There's a church downtown that takes clothing donations for a homeless shelter," he offered.  "They're not that far from the office."

"I try to donate there myself," Speed noted.  "I should go through some of mine too since so much of my stuff ended up in storage.  Thanks, guys."

"Not a problem, Speed.  We had problems believing you were dead," Calleigh offered sadly.  "We just couldn't go through it."

"Where were my parents?"

"I couldn't get hold of them," Horatio told him.

"I tried too when he called up and asked us to let them know ," Don admitted.  "They hung up on me."

"Oh, good to know," he agreed.  "Sure."

"You still had better parents than I did," Xander reminded him at the look on his buddy's face.  "No one had to run yours out of town for you."

"Good point," he agreed with a small grin.  "Yours were worse and Aiden and I did run them out of Sunnydale because of how bad they are.  I did tell you they're in Colorado, right?"  Xander nodded, grinning at him. "Good.  I didn't remember."

"Too much more of that and we'll have to take you back to Sunnydale for the three days," Xander said dryly.

"No thanks.  Not yet.  They said the anniversary of me coming back."

"Um, which would be....." Xander reminded him.

Speed checked the calendar.  "This weekend.  Good point.  The convention's when, Horatio?"

"Two weeks.  I can give you the weekend off, Speed."

"Please.  I'll be able to come back sometime on Monday.  So I'm having a migraine that day," he warned, grinning at him.  "That good?"

"That's fine," Horatio agreed.  He looked at Xander.  "Are you going back?"

"I promised them I'd be back sometime in about a year. If he wants, I'll go with him," he assured him, looking at Speed, who shook his head. "You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm going to lay low at the motel and do nothing for those three days.  I might call Joyce and tell her you're doing okay and how well you're doing. If I run into the others, I'll deny it.  Say you ran off with Danny already."

"Stella said she'd heard rumors," Mac admitted.  Danny blushed and groaned. "I straightened her out.  Told her it was to get an ex and a few former friends off the kid's back.  She said she wants pictures of you two together just in case it comes up again."

"You know, there is that digital camera lying around somewhere," Eric noted. "Even if you do have to remove the battery to erase images."

"I think you should bring that to Tyler in AV," Horatio offered.  "It might have a backup memory."  Eric looked stricken.

"It's on his dresser," Don offered.  Eric jogged that way then out.  "I haven't seen anyone move that fast in a while.  I wonder who he was making out with."  Everyone looked at Xander, who shrugged. "I'm sure you know, kid."

"Yes, but I'm not in the mood to blackmail the guy who sneaks me into the good clubs.  Tim, am I allowed to go to Masquerade?"


"It's supposed to be a nice place and no scary women would hit on him," Calleigh offered with a grin.  "Well, unless some lesbians wanted to put him between them, but it's a very nice anything goes gay club."

"No," Tim said more firmly. "If he wants to try gay sex, he can date, like the rest of us do."

"Not all of us tried it," Mac pointed out smugly.

"Not the point," Tim told him, shaking his head.  "That was an image I didn't need, Mac."

"Sorry," he said with an unrepentant grin.

"That's okay.  I get plenty of that from Xander.  If Xander wants to try gay sex, he can find a nice boy to date and do it that way, which is the only acceptable way I want to hear about sex.  No more sex in the clubs.  Don't take up Eric's bad habits."

"Yes, dad."

"Thank you."

"You know, if he ever gets a girlfriend again, you'll have to give up that bit of teasing," Calleigh said, smirking at Xander.

"I wouldn't date her if she didn't understand, Calleigh.  It's like him calling H mom."

"I still like how Aiden shot back in the mommy versus mom shootout," Danny joked.

"Hey, at least I ended up as stepmom," Calleigh complained.  Someone tapped on the door before coming in.  "Hey, Alexx.  Anything good?"

She shook her head, sitting down.  "They were human and we're running DNA samples to see if they match anyone in the system and each other."  She made Xander look at her.  "I want you to be very careful, baby.  That guy hasn't given up the present giving person yet."

"I'm usually careful," he reminded her.

"True, but I mean extra careful.  How did they catch him?"

"He tried to jump me in the shower.  Apparently the boyfriend rumor got back to him because he came at me with my own knife I had out to clean."  A thought hit him and he looked at Horatio.  "It could be symbiotic or whatever that word is.  Two of them sharing the pool.  He's handed all the non-innocent ones by the other guy."  Horatio blinked.

"It could be," Don admitted.  "If you're hunting in a shallow pool you either take out the other predators or you end up working with them so you all eat.  That's why packs form.  But you'd still have dominance battles, right, Xander?"  Xander nodded quickly.

Horatio got up.  "That's a very good point, Xander, and I know just how to break him.  I'll be back."  He left, going back to the station to taunt him about going for one of the innocent ones.  How the boyfriend was only days old and nothing had happened yet, not even cuddling.  Then he pressed for who the pack alpha was. It went much faster.


Xander came home from depositing his check, finding Horatio in the new apartment, looking at the view.  "If you tell me he got shot again, I'm going to have to spank you too," he said in greeting.

"No, nothing like that."  He looked at the boy, seeing the wariness.  "He's fine, Xander.  Cranky today but fine."

"He wouldn't let me move any of the books around to help him."

"He can be a bit particular about that," he agreed, smirking a bit.  "He's also worried that he's stifling you somehow.  Like you won't get to date by living with him and being around us.  Is that something you worry about?"

"No.  It's not like I've found anyone worthy to date.  A few to screw in the bathroom that I haven't but no one to date.  I'm not sure I even know how to approach someone to date."  He grimaced. "Besides, with school starting in two weeks, I'm not sure I've got the energy to date at the moment.  And I'm not about to bring a date back here either. I'm not a first date sex sort and that'll take us getting more serious."  That got a good smile and it made him happy.  "I can easily date and so can he. I can duck out and borrow a couch some nights if he really needs to bring someone back too."

"He's not the sort to do that usually," he admitted, moving closer.  "You're sure you're fine with it?  I know some people have been showing interest and he's...hesitant to take them up on it because he doesn't want to bother you."

Xander shrugged.  "The guy can date, Horatio.  It's not like I can't crash on a couch or find a motel for the night.  If it's the same girl more than three times I'll expect to be introduced," he offered dryly, earning another grin.  "Then he's hiding me and I get to pout."

"No, that's fine.  Eric brought it up earlier and it's been worrying him most of the day."

"Moron.  He could've come talked to me about it."

"He was going to tonight but I needed him to focus so I said I would."

Xander sat down and pulled out his phone, calling him.  "Father, if you bring home some piece of tail, go for it. I can borrow a couch somewhere or find a motel.  If it happens more than three times with the same girl, I will expect to be introduced or else I'll pick on you mercilessly until I am.  And yes, I'm more than capable of finding a motel and having cheap sex that way but I'm not in the mood to date at the moment.  I wouldn't even know how to approach someone down here for a date.  I'm waiting until I see how much of a drain classes are.  Got it?"  He smirked.  "Tough."  He hung up and shook his head.  "Now he's worried that I'm being run out by going to a motel for sex.  I personally think it's safer in most cases, that way they can't stalk you back to your house."

"That is a consideration with some of the women you've dated," Horatio agreed, sitting across from him.  "Have you registered for classes yet, Xander?"

"No.  I'm supposed to do that tomorrow.   He's supposed to help me and if not, I'll do it the next day, they said I could if something happened since I said I was in protective custody over a serial killer at the moment. I know cases come up."

"True," he agreed quietly.  "I could help.  I did go as well."

"It's nothing that serious, Horatio.  If he can't, I'll come to you."

"You know you can come to me at the same time you would normally go to Speed, right?  That I can be on the same level of mentoring?"  Xander nodded.  "As long as you know."

"He knows me a bit better.  That's why I'm going to him to help me.  They want me to take my gym elective now and some 'appreciation' classes, which means I'll hate it and quit.  I told her that and got the horrified preppie look.  She was not a happy failed cheerleader."  That got a small smirk.  "She was and she was going on about time management workshops and how we have an orientation class that's mandatory and all that stuff.  I have to buy a special planner that has school sports stuff, which I don't need because I'm not into football.  But if you guys want tickets I'll use my ID to get some for you. I'm already dreading this one."

"That's fine," Horatio agreed quietly. "It's usually the easiest class.  They do things like make you redo your notes a few ways to make sure you've got at least one good way."

"I take notes," he said with a shrug.  "I write things down in barely legible handwriting and then squint at them later."  Horatio shook his head but he was smiling.  "I'm still not sure this isn't a big waste of money.  I'm not the college sort. I don't do well in lectures."

"You'll be fine as long as the subject speaks to you," he reminded him. "We'll be checking on you and all that as well.  Did you get the health insurance letters yet?"

"Yes, and they want me to get another shot, which I'm not taking.  I had a bad reaction the last time."

"Did you tell them this?"

"Yes, and called my...the health department out there, who sent them my shot records and agreed that I shouldn't take the measles booster, but they weren't sure about the meningitis booster.  Which I don't think I need."

"You shouldn't.  That's mostly for those who live in the dorm."

"Oh, they don't like that either.  'Living in the dorms provides you with a better chance of graduating and moving onto an excellent career'," he mimicked, making Horatio crack again.  The door opened and he looked back at Speed.  "I met with the orientation ditz again."

Speed shuddered.  "Failed cheerleader, H.  Really horrifying mid-thirties failed cheerleader.  With way too much eyeshadow.  What was the DT this time?"

"I should be living in the dorms, the orientation teacher will demand I get a special day planner with the school's sport schedules, and ooooh, you really should join a fraternity.  For a guy like you, they have many rewards," he said in that same mimicking voice.  "Fraternities provide a lot of contacts and good memories.  I had to point out that most of them can't remember from the alcohol poisoning and she pouted and said that was a stereotype.  So I told her I'd seen plenty of frat brothers and sorority sisters in my former job who couldn't remember.  I'd worked with them and worked for them.  She didn't look impressed.  She wanted me to take my gym elective and all my 'appreciation' classes this semester.  I told her if I did I'd be quitting by halfway through the semester.  She pouted at me.  I walked out, dad.  I'm sorry but I was going to smack the bitch.  I'm not some cookie cutter little teenage boy who just wants to get drunk and party."

"You're not, which means that hopefully you'll get more out of college.  Remember, you've got to endure some of the classes to get to the stuff you like and graduate.  Orientation was one of mine."

"I'll use my ID If you guys want to go to any of the sport games."

"Sure.  Thanks."  He patted him on the head.  "Okay, I'm home for lunch.  What're we having?"

"Not a clue.  I just got home."  He got up to look in the kitchen and decide, and glanced out the window.  "Huh.  Horatio, your favorite person's outside," he called sweetly.  He turned away and went back to looking in the fridge.  "What'm I taking this semester?"

"Psych 101, Sociology 101 or Anthro 101.  An easy English class, and find something fun," Speed reminded him.

"I tried that, she refused to agree."

"I'm going with you when you go back," he said dryly.

"Go tomorrow," Horatio said as he joined them.  "Did he follow you?"

"Probably."  He shrugged and got out the stuff for sandwiches, including the brick so he could fry them.  Xander grinned at that and pulled down the pan and the oil, warming it up.  "Paninis, Horatio?"

"Sure, I could eat."  He watched the boys work, smiling at the easiness they had together. Speed may worry about the kid not liking him dating but Xander seemed okay enough with it.


Speed looked up as Stetler walked into his lab and closed the door.  "Something you needed?"

"Are you and Horatio sharing your whore?" he asked bluntly.

Speed put down what he was doing and looked at him.  "First, Xander is a nice kid.  He's always been a good kid.  I met him in Sunnydale and took him in after I ran his parents out of town for being shitbags.  Secondly, I consider him my son.  There's no way I'm sleeping with him.  His room's too messy."  That got a stunned look.  "Third, he looks at Horatio like a mentor.  He calls him mom.  I seriously doubt he's sleeping with him either.  Yes, Xander can strip, he does it very well and he made good money doing it, but he's quit now.  He was also clean and sober while he did it.  If you don't believe me, ask Frank Tripp."  The man took a step back. "Now, you've just insulted not only me and Horatio, but that boy.  I would fucking well run for your life before I tell Yelina."  He walked out, going to find Horatio.  He found him, Yelina, and Frank together bent over a file.  "Got a sec, H?"  He looked at him and stood up, walking him away.  "Stetler just asked if we're sharing Xander now.  I pointed out that I'm his dad, you're his mom, and we're not like that."

"Thank you, Speed.  I'll handle it from here," he said more calmly.  "Just relax.  Think about going to help Xander register for school tomorrow before you've got to head out in the afternoon."  That got another nod and he left, going back to his lab.  Horatio walked back to the group.  "Rick just asked Speed if we're sharing Xander," he said dryly.

"Can I watch the kid beat his ass?" Frank asked.

"As much as I'd like that, it's probably not acceptable," Horatio offered dryly.

"Don't worry, I'll be doing it for him," Yelina said, walking off.  "Rick, how dare you accuse that boy of sleeping with the man who took him in and protected him and Horatio!  How much of a mentor would he be if that was going on!" she yelled when she found him, making him back away from her.  "Xander is a perfectly nice young man with a bright future and Timothy and Horatio are his mentors!  Nothing more!"  He took another step back.  "Unlike you, I've been in their house and he's got his own, very messy, room.  He's a good boy!  If you make one more dispersion on the boy I'm going to report you!"  She stomped off, going to tell Calleigh and Alexx.  Rick sneered at her back, unaware of the danger he was now in.


Xander walked into Horatio's office the next afternoon.  "Dad's left for Sunnydale.  I dropped him at the airport," he said quietly, handing over a tape.  "I will hurt the mother fucker if he ever comes near me again."  Horatio looked alarmed.  "I went out with dad and Eric last night, right?"  Horatio nodded, Eric had told him.  "He came up to me in the club.  Fortunately Calleigh still had the wire we used for the serial killer at home in her kit.  I noticed him stalking us and called her to bring it."  He crossed his arms, glaring at him.  "I want that man's ass begging and pleading for mercy, Horatio.  I want him gone.  I doubt he's going to do anything on that tape without me killing him if he tries."

"Just calm down, Xander," he said quietly.  "Let me listen?"

"You won't want to have eaten yet.  I didn't."  He walked out and went to find Calleigh, giving her a hug.  "I gave him the tape."

"Good boy."  She patted him on the cheek.  "It's the unedited version, right?"

"I can't edit that stuff."

"Just checking, dear.  Now, go get me a soda?"  He nodded and did that, coming back with it for her. "Thank you, Xander," she said with a smile.  "How did registration go?"

"Dad ripped the cheerleader wannabe a new one for thinking I'm some dumb jock.  I ended up in Psych 101, Geology, which is a jock's class, my first English, and a Humanities orientation instead of the other one."  She smiled at him.  "I only have two days of classes because he got me afternoon ones."

"Good.  I always liked those."  She pinched him.  "You should go home."

"No, dad told me to come here and stay here until after Horatio has listened to the tape and probably confronted him.  He didn't want him able to pull in a favor from another cop to harass me in the open."

"Okay.  Go wait in the break room or out by reception then."  He nodded, going out there.  She called Horatio.  "I sent him to the break room since Speed said to stay close by until you've listened."  She hung up and went back to work comparing samples.

Horatio found him eating cookies in the break room.  "Are those all you eat when you're here?" he asked quietly.

"It's the only really good thing in the machine."  He held up the package so he could have one.  "Let me guess, you listened?"

Horatio made an assenting noise and patted him on the shoulder.  "Are you willing to press charges?"

"Yup."  He ate another cookie.  "Dad didn't know it happened, I let him listen this morning.  He puked breakfast, which put him in a bad mood for the cheerleader wannabe."

"That's fine, I feel a bit ill myself."  He pulled the boy up.  "Come on, I've got someone you need to talk to."  He went to get a cleaned up version of the tape and the other one.  The background noise in the club was fairly loud.  The AV guy gave Xander a pitying look. "That's why he turned it in."  He let Xander walk beside him, glancing at him.  "Are you sure you're okay?" he asked quietly.

"I'm fine, Horatio.  I've heard more disgusting things from drunks before.  I had one guy who wanted to gut me and wrap himself in my intestines because I was so pretty and hot."  He shrugged.  "I shrug off most of this stuff.  I saw worse in Sunnydale."

"Sometimes humans can be worse than any demon," he reminded him, opening a door down a short hallway.  "Inside."  Xander walked in and he led him back to a back office, tapping once before walking in. The man looked stunned to see him.  "This is Alexander Harris, the one Tim Speedle adopted."

"I've heard rumors.  Including that he's helped us capture two serial killers who were after him for being such a good stripper."  Xander nodded, sitting down.  "What's going on?  Did something at the club impact your team's job, Caine?  You don't usually come to IAB."

Horatio handed over the cleaned up tape, then put the other one in the center of his desk.  "Rick Stetler came up to Tim yesterday to ask if we were sharing Xander between he and I," he noted calmly, getting a moan.  "Now, I won't complain about that accusation or the way he stalks me around the office and interferes in my cases. I will complain that he stalked the boy last night and he had to call Calleigh to get a wire to tap him."  He pointed at the one on the desk. "The unedited version and a cleaned copy, cleaned only of background noise by my AV tech."

"Eric and Speed never saw me talking with him," Xander admitted.  "We were out together but I made sure Speed didn't see him with the way Stetler pissed him off yesterday.  I haven't seen him that angry since he made my parents run away in fear for trying to give me away to someone."  Horatio looked at him and raised an eyebrow. "They did. You can ask him when he gets back."

The officer turned on the tape and listened to it through his headphones, then the original copy.  He slumped and looked at him.  "The boy will press charges?"

"I want him nowhere near myself or my guardian, or my mentor," Xander said, standing up.  "I consider Horatio one of my closest friends and go to him for advice and support.  Hell, I call the guy mom jokingly."  That got a weak smile.  "He's clearly got it in for him and I'm sorry, but if he comes near me again I'm going to deck the guy. Hell yes I'm pressing charges and I want a restraining order against him going near Horatio's team or me."

"I think I can do that," he agreed calmly.  "Will you press charges, Horatio?"  That got a nod.  "What about Speedle?"

"He's out of town on an unavoidable situation," Xander admitted.  "He's just about to leave the airport now.  You want me to call?"  That got a nod so he dialed his cell, getting him.  "Hey, me."  He handed over the phone.

"Detective Speedle, are you willing to press charges against Rick Stetler for what's on that tape Lieutenant Caine handed me?"  He smiled.  "That's fine, when you get back on Monday then."  He hung up.  "He growled and agreed.  Let me get the correct forms, Lieutenant.  Relax and sit for a moment please."  He went to get them, coming right back.  He wanted every inch of this documented, even if his in-office recorder had been started by the press of the button under his desk when he saw who had come in.


Xander leaned into the morgue.  "Fair warning, there's going to running, shouting, and screaming.  Horatio said to tell you you might be needed."

"Why, sugar?" Alexx asked, looking at him.

"Rick Stetler's about to be arrested for threatening to rape me to allow Horatio and Speed to keep their jobs in peace."  She glared and he nodded.  "On tape.  I saw him stalking and called Calleigh.  It made Speed puke this morning.  So  mom thinks you're going to be needed."  He withdrew and snuck back up to Horatio's office to watch from in there.  He found Stetler hiding and looked at him.  "Get out.  You know better!"

"What are *you* doing here?" he sneered.

"Easy, I was told to come.   Horatio!" he yelled.  "Stetler's in here!"  Someone came running, Eric.  "He's going through his desk," he said bitterly.

"I have the right to."

"No you don't."  He grabbed him and Xander pushed the guy against the wall, patting him down first.  "You do that very well, Xander."  The kid handed him a few things and he glared.  "Okay, into the hall."  He pulled his handcuffs.  "This is going to please me to no end.  Rick Stetler, you are under arrest for the distribution of illegal pornography," he said happily, cuffing him.  He walked him and the kid out, closing the door.  "Horatio!  We need you and a scene tech at your office!  Now!"  More people came running so he handed the top IAB guy the photos.  "Xander here found him going through H's desk.  He also frisked him when I grabbed him, taking him out of my hands to do so, and found that on him."

"I see."  He took the baggie Frank Tripp held out and put it in there.  "Thank you, young man.  Horatio told you to wait in his office?"  Xander nodded.  "That's fine.  Why don't you go wait in the break room with someone you trust."

"I trust most of you guys.  Whoever's not working on the scene is fine. Or I can wait alone.  I'm a big boy now."

"I'd rather not take a chance that someone might hurt you for that.  Did you Miranda him, Delko?"

"Not yet, sir.  I thought it more important to get to this scene faster and I know we can do it in interrogation just as easily."  He handed him over.  "Those are my cuffs."

"That's fine.  We'll be in Interrogation.  Detective Tripp, take charge of this scene please?  With one of the techs you trust.  You can have the boy tell you which drawers he was in."

"Second one down on the right side," Xander told him.  "Break room?"  Frank nodded.  "Sure."  He headed down there, sliding past Ryan with a grin. "Hi."

"Thank you for breaking the boredom," he said with a grin.  "Detective, I'll wait with him."  That got a nod so he followed the kid down there to take his statement.  "Did you like her?  Even a little?"

"I did. I'm not that picky," he admitted with a shy grin.

"Hey, doubles your chances," he agreed, understanding the covert answer of 'I'm bi'.  "I know a few others wanted introduced but they were thrown off by the 'I'm with Danny' thing you had going to throw Buffy."

"Danny's very cute and I wouldn't mind, but New York is too far away for cuddles."  Ryan chuckled at that and nodded.  "So, what'cha wanna know, bright boy?"  He sat down and leaned on his elbows on the table.

"Well, first, how did this get started?"

"Oh, he came up to Speed yesterday in the lab and asked if he and Horatio were sharing me."

Ryan blinked.  "Excuse me?"

Xander nodded.  "Yeah.  Speed's on a plane to Sunnydale at the moment for the three day thing he couldn't get out of.  He's supposed to spend three full days there so he'll be back sometime Monday."

"Okay."  He went to find a notebook and a pen, coming back to take notes.  He hadn't realized this was going to be so bad of an event to document. "How did you learn how to frisk someone?" he asked as he returned.

"Doing it to the vampires while hunting them," he admitted.  "Giles made me."

He blinked.  "Okay, so work related?"  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Gotcha."  He wrote that down.  "Why was he in there?"

"We pressed charges since he said I was going to let him rape me and do whatever he wanted to me, including carving his initials on my ass so no one would ever want it again.  If I let him, he'd leave them alone here at the station unless they did something really, obviously bad and wrong.  He came up to me in the club last night when I was out with Eric and Speed.  I saw him first so I called Calleigh.  She brought a wire.  The tape made dad puke for breakfast."  Ryan moaned.  "Horatio looked paler than normal due to it.  It's not a pretty thing."

"I'll make sure I don't have to listen to it without a trashcan nearby," he promised.

Eric walked in.  "When did we get a tape of him threatening you?"

"When you and dad were off with the blonde twins."

"Why?" he asked, glaring at him.  "We would've backed you up."

"I doubt he would've spoken his mind with you two hovering. That's why I called Calleigh for a wire."  Eric smirked at him.  "You notice she wasn't a happy camper?"

"It was a self-taping model?" Ryan asked.  Xander nodded.  "Okay.  How bad is it?"

"Horatio was snarling at him, like Speed growls sorta snarling," Eric told him.

"Like my girl snarling?" Xander suggested.  Eric nodded.  "Hmm.  Good.  He probably needed to let it out.  Anyway, Ryan, when I brought Horatio the tape, he listened to it, had a cleaned up copy made for background noise and we brought it down to a little office down a short hallway, where the guy took a statement about twenty minutes ago."

"Good, excellent even," Ryan agreed.  "So IAB knows and already suspected him.  That'll make this easier."

"Ooh, yeah," Eric agreed, smirking at him.  "Yelina's in there right now."

"Hey, at least I'm not a janitor here," Xander said sweetly, grinning at him.  "Speed's on a plane."

"I figured he was.  Did he have fun telling off the cheerleader?"  Xander nodded. "You in stupid classes like I was?"

"English, Geology, Psych 101, and a humanities orientation.  I already told dad I'd use my student ID for game tickets."  Eric beamed at that.  "He dead yet?"  Eric looked and shook his head.  "Pity.  Horatio had me warn Alexx she might be needed."

"Oh, she's going to be needed," Ryan assured him.  "Even if they just kick him off the force, he's going to need medical support."  He made another note. "So, you went from the morgue up there?"  Xander nodded, getting back into the swing of things.

Eric stood guard, nodding at Ray Jr when he showed up.  "You two can wait in here.  Your mother and uncle are yelling at Stetler for threatening Speed's adopted kid."  He let them inside.  "Xander, this is Ray Jr."

"Hey," he said, smiling and waving.  "Expect to hear my name used as a bad example of what not to do.  I've already given your uncle permission."

"Sure," he agreed, smirking at him.  "What did Rick do?"

"Threatened me and tried to plant disgusting shit in Horatio's office."

"Ah."  That got a nod.  "He hit my mom, once.  Uncle Horatio nearly took his head off."

"Your mom would've taken his head off but I'm guessing her temper got in the way," Eric suggested.

"Yeah, she was incoherent, I had to stop her from going for her gun," Ray Jr. admitted.  "Guys, this is Layla.  She's my lady."  Everyone smiled and waved at her.  "Layla, this is Eric Delko, Ryan Wolfe, two of Uncle Horatio's CSI guys, and Xander, who another one of them, Tim Speedle, adopted."  Xander beamed and shook her hand.  "No flirting, Xander."

"I'm not, kid.  She's too young for me anyway."  He went back to the statement, but handed the kids a five.  "Get soda and snacks.  I was always starved at your ages."

"You still get an allowance?  I hope my parents are that nice," Layla said.

"No, I was working until recently," he admitted.  "I'm starting college next week."

"And we will be expecting great things from you," Eric teased, smirking at him.  "Especially with your three parents."

"Don't expect too high, Tim's the one who got me through high school," Xander warned.  "Aiden made Buffy do homework and Tim dumbed down the stuff for me."

"You'll do fine," Eric assured him. "I passed and I was a jock, you can too."

"Sure."  He looked at Ryan again.  "Sorry.  I'm a bouncy ball of energy today."

"I noticed but that's fine.  You should try interviewing a tweaker."  That got a grin and he went back to it with the kid.


Xander looked up as Speed finally came home.  "Three full days?"

"Yeah," he said tiredly.  "Next time I'll arrive sooner."  He fell down on the other end of the couch, looking at him.  "How did it go today?"

"My psych teacher hates me.  Said that real world observation isn't realistic because you can only get a small sample of humanity."  He shrugged. "I told her that was good enough for me at the moment.  She kept going on about the majority of people so I smarted off and asked what the average person was because I'd never met an average person since we were so diverse."

"Don't alpha dog the teacher, Xander.  It leads to problems."  He smiled though.  "How was orientation?"

"She's a flake.  A crystal pyramid wearing flake.  But I understood her 'waves of concentration' speech and had to translate back into normal person for a really confused looking jock.  He wants to be a teacher so he's in there.  We'll see about tomorrow.  You missed Stetler trying to mine mom's office with disgusting snuff porn."  That got a growl.  He nodded and grinned. "I caught him in there with his hand in a drawer and found it on him.  Right after we went and filled out a complaint.  He made a deal to lose his badge and never try to work in law enforcement again, or else this report would surface at his new job within days, but he's not going to jail.  I'm guessing the IAB guys have their own conventions?"  Speed nodded.  "Cool.  I guess they need support and love too sometimes.  It's gotta be a hard job."

"It is but they're all suspicious people.  He was escorted out?"

"Oh, yeah, and Yelina and Alexx stood there and watched him pack everything, both of them with their arms crossed and scowling.  They were the only ones who wouldn't have killed him for it.  Frank Tripp heard the cleaned up tape and after a few minutes apparently he went for his throat."

"It was enough to make me do it," Speed agreed. "What're you studying?"  Xander held up the psych book.  "Mandatory reading?"

"Seeing if I can stand it."

"Good idea."  He grinned at him. "Okay, so I'm whole for another year.  I communed with the powers in the park one afternoon, with Willow showing up at the end.  She said she's straightened out Buffy, who had a small breakdown due to the changes and stresses in her life.  I'm guessing Giles said that.  I warned her of some of the things I saw, and she agreed with me about that.  She's on the watch."  He leaned over and stroked his cheek.  "She's happy, don't worry about her.  Next year she wants you in."  That got a grin.  "I told her you're studying now and she liked that idea, said maybe you'll go to the same graduate school."  He patted him. "You should be in bed."

"I don't have classes tomorrow and Horatio is off on mandatory leave. The IAB guy ordered it so he wouldn't go off on a suspect because he snarled at Stetler after he found him planting snuff porn in his desk. Said it was going to take that long to finish processing his office."

"Good, we can have lunch with him if he wants, just to keep him busy.  Or I can go to work and you can go annoy him."  He grinned at him.  "You're sure you're okay with me dating?"

"Go ahead.  I can bum a couch, idiot."  That got another smirk.  "As long as you've told her by the third time you make me sleep on someone's couch, I'm good."

"Oh, yeah, long before then," he agreed.  "We'll try not to keep you up."

"If you do, I'll go ask someone more witchly than I am to soundproof your room."

Speed laughed and pulled him closer for a hug.  "That'd be fine, do the same to yours so you can bring guys home."  He kissed him on the head.  "Any of your clients in your classes?"

"No, but one of the other psych professors was.  I waved at him and grinned.  He blushed and nodded back so we talked for a minute. He agreed, it was going to be fine and that teacher was a bitch."  Tim laughed at that.  "He said my other two seemed nice but he only knew my Geology teacher casually from faculty events.  They mostly hung in department clusters."

"That makes sense. We'll see on Wednesday.  Any word from New York if you'll have to testify?"

"Not yet.  I did email Don and pointed out I needed to know that to arrange for tests and stuff.  He said he'd write back if he heard and he said Danny was doing okay and Mac was still relaxed so it had been a good vacation."  He snuggled in against him.  "I still don't feel comfortable in the classroom. I felt like Snyder was going to walk in any minute or the floor was going to open up into a hellmouth."

"Snyder died and there's no hellmouth here.  It's in the Keys."

"Good to know."  He cuddled.  "So far it's not a lot of work."

"No, taking twelve hours isn't.  Technically you should expect about twelve hours of homework a week, that's what that means, but usually it's cut by a third except around tests and finals. Any papers?"

"Yes, and I need an MLA and a Chicago style guide book.  The flake said I'd need both as reference tools."  Tim nodded.  "I didn't know there were different ways to write papers."

"There are, it's mostly about how you quote and how you do the reference page, plus your headers."  He gave him a squeeze.  "I should go to bed."

"Okay."  He let him go and Tim kissed him on the head. "I won't stay up too much later."

"Good.  No sneaking off tonight.  What did you eat when I was gone?"

"Sandwiches.  We're out of the thick ham."

"That's fine, I can pick more up tomorrow on the way home."  He smiled as he went into his bedroom, finding a sandwich and a bottle of milk in there for him.  It was still cold even.  He smiled. "Thank you, Xander."  He sat down to eat his dinner, then set his alarm and crawled into bed.  It was going to be a long day tomorrow.


Xander flopped down next to Horatio on the beach, who gave him a sideways look.  "Your nephew said you were moping and dad said I was to come cheer you up, drag you all over creation to help me shop for something decent to wear, and make you buy me a tie for some reason.  I have no idea why."

"He wants you in a suit?" he asked with a touch of humor.  That was a new one from Speed; he barely owned a whole suit.

"He said I have everything but that in my closet and if I start dating I should have a decent one to wear on dates.  I told him I look horrible in them, I can't pull off a casual suit look like you can.  He just rolled his eyes and said to make you help me since you're so clearly bored today."

"I was?" he asked, sounding fully amused now, like he was trying not to smile.

"Yeah, he said you were bored without having anyone to hunt down and stare at.  Besides, he said you'd keep me from buying more trashy jeans."

"I think you have enough of those."

"All I used to have were baggy ones and then I tried to go tighter and ended up with the gray ones.  By the way, my psych teacher said that personal observation isn't good enough for her class and my orientation teacher is a flake on a wave high.  I met with my Geology teacher and he's making my skin crawl.  He reminds me a lot of a fishing worm I refused to touch."  Horatio did laugh at that.  "But my other teacher is calm.  He's used to dealing with freshmen and them not knowing a thing. He assured me he can help me with my first few papers when I think they sound really stupid.  I just have to bring in a style sheet for him."

"Good."  He stood up and helped Xander up, watching as the boy dusted himself off.  "What were you shopping for today?"

"New sneakers.  Maybe some jeans that were somewhere between porno tight and loose."  He shrugged.  "I got ordered to find a suit.  Not a clue otherwise."

"How is your bank account?"

"Better than most people's, and I have to stop to pick up my last paycheck later," he admitted, shaking his head.  "Was Jack involved?"

"As a spotter.  He only gave information.  I can drop you off for that and take you to the bank."

"We can take my car."

"I like the hummer.  No one cuts me off in traffic," Horatio said, smiling a bit.  Xander giggled at that.  "Do you think you're going to want to work while you study?"

"Probably not.  Maybe workstudy for pizza money but nothing else."  Horatio nodded, letting him into the hummer.  He took a deep breath and heaved himself up.  "It is getting easier."

"Just like riding the motorcycle is."

"He doesn't let me."

Horatio walked around and got in.  "He hasn't given you lessons?"

"Nope.  He told me I touch his bike in a covetous manner and I die.  I had to look up covetous, it made him smirk at me and spell it out."  Horatio shook his head and started the engine, backing out and heading toward Xander's old job.  "What do I do if I run into another one?"

"Tell us and give us reasons or proof so we can check him or her out," he said calmly.  "The geology teacher?"

"No, I think he's a worm.  I think my psych professor moonlights as a professional submissive too.  She's got that attitude that someone above her told her she could go so far and no further and she's following it to the letter. Well, that and she looked very wary when I asked if we could do our observation paper in a club environment since it was closed society."  That got a small smirk.  "Turn left."  Horatio nodded and did that.  "There was a wreck on Flagler again."

"That seems to be a place for it," he agreed.  He parked and Xander bounced inside, coming back with his check and a bright smile.  He caught sight of it and snatched it to look at it, then at the boy.  "How?"

"That last night I had three platinum card members and one guy who had a special diamond studded card.  Plus the usual drink sales of my favorite cranberry slushies.  I got about fifty of them that night.  I sold drinks for an extra hour after I got ordered to go home.  Jack didn't mind and it gave me time to be able to move properly again.   I still like my foreign guy with the diamond card.  It was very pretty."

"A European diplomat," he said, smirking a bit.  "Very nice."

"Very, and he paid me two grand just to redo that number in a private just for him.  Which was really painful because by then my back was killing me.  I went from that to my third set and ended up on my knees."  He took the very high check back and grinned.  "Since it went on a credit card, I didn't get it that night or my tip until now.  Jack told me I had some credit card charges on this one, he'd try to get the rest of them for me."  Horatio smiled and drove off.  "National."

"I know.  Do you have a deposit slip?"

"The nearest branch knows me pretty well," Xander admitted sheepishly.  "I never have one with me.  I never have my checkbook on me either.  I live on my debit card and cash."   They pulled into the drivethru and he signed the back, then dug out his wallet and ID, using the piece of paper in there to note his account number.  Horatio smiled at that.  "I don't remember things like that too well."  They pulled up to the window and he handed it over with his license.  "Just cash it and can I have a balance check?" he requested.  The girl behind the glass smiled and nodded.

"You should deposit part of that," Horatio told him.

"Horatio, I was making A-level stripper money in gay boy city.  I made more since I moved back to Miami than you do."  The slip came back with the cash and he showed him the balance, getting a stare.  He looked at it.  "Who else deposited?" he asked.

"Financial aid it looks like, Mr. Harris."

"Thank you.  Have a nice day."  He handed Horatio the lollipop with a grin.  "Okay, we're good."  Horatio nodded, driving on thinking about that. "The club wasn't the high roller place, but it was affiliated and a starting place for a lot of the anything goes clubs.  The higher end clubs don't let you get nearly as close to their products as Jack did and he often passed people onto the anything goes sex clubs.  Hell, I escorted a few very good customers to one and then dumped them later that night, getting yelled at the next day for leaving them there and not following along for more tips.  I pointed out I wasn't comfortable with them doing that and watching me dance, so I left."  He checked the money then put it in his wallet, balling up the envelope and putting it into the small plastic bag in there.  "You sure you won't get into trouble for going with me in the company car?"

"I take it everywhere else," he admitted.  "The purchasing manager handed me the keys with a smirk and told me it was mine until I retired or it blew up."  That got a giggle so he smiled.  "Anywhere you need to go for jeans?"

"The only place I know is the mall and I wouldn't torture you that way.  So pick some spot.  I'll even treat to a late lunch or dinner."


"Just not a sports bar.  I don't want to have another shudder in horror moment at watching more hockey with Eric."

Horatio smiled and shook his head.  "Me either.  He took you to one?"

"Oh yeah.  He was going to introduce me to one of his sister's friends and she liked sports. I swim but I'm not a big sports guy and she was gushing over the Rangers so I was mostly lost.  I saw some in Montreal but it was the off-season thankfully.  The other guys suggested that if I was there during the season I'd have to bone up a bit to seem knowledgeable while I talked and sold drinks. That alone nearly made me come down here again."

"You should've.  Speed got very upset that you walked off that way."

"Really, I wandered off after the fight and woke up in front of the bus station.  The urge hit me, Horatio.  I had no idea where the bus was going, I just paid for the full ticket and got on. Three and a half days later I'm in Toronto.  Which was nice, but fairly stuffy.  I spent a night there and complained a bit that I couldn't find the nightlife like I had in LA.  He suggested I go to Montreal.  It was my first train trip but it was kinda neat," he offered with a grin.  "Two days there and I found the ad for the club, going in to apply for the bouncer position.  I got hired as a dancer for some reason, even though I sucked.  I'm thinking the boss was desperate.  He set me up with the guy I rented off of and the rest is pretty much history."

"Do you want to go back some day?"

"Sometimes I feel the need to show off and make men pant," he admitted quietly, leaning back to look at him.  "It's not often and I'm sure I can find other, safer ways to do that.  I was always on guard for what my customers might do.  Drunks don't sit well with me and I knew what they were capable of so I was pretty wary and controlled around them.  It'd be nice to let loose and enjoy myself while I was showing off."

"It sounds like you could do it in a club."

"But that's even more dangerous," he pointed out. "Many more people, no rules against touching, more drunks, fewer bouncers that want to intervene or watch for stuff.  How many rape cases have you worked in the clubs versus the strip club average?  Even if we don't often report it because most of us know we won't be taken seriously due to the reputation of a few of us."

"Some officers would listen."

"They're in the minority, and they're not in Vice," Xander said dryly.  "One of the Vice officers who came in to do a supposedly subtle bust in there offered me fifty to blow him and I sneered and walked away, reporting him and getting him thrown out.  He wouldn't have listened if one of the guys got attacked.  Most of them wouldn't in that department.  The same as prostitutes don't get to report theirs.  That same perception that we're doing this, so therefore we must consent and we're out for the money."

"It is a problem but if you know someone who needs that, there are a few I could give you the name of."

"Dad walked up to one of the guys after my first night and handed him three names and said they'd listen if necessary and if I ever got hurt, he was going to come in and kill everyone involved.  I know one of the guys went to one of them about his domestic issues.  Of course, his girlfriend was the one I threw into the wall when I threw her out one night.  She wasn't a happy camper when she tried to hit him in the head with a metal chair."  Horatio looked at him.  "I pulled him out of the way, blocked her next hit, knocked her ass out and threw her out into the alleyway, slamming her into the other wall.  Then I left her there and went to tell the bouncers and get him an ice pack.  He went that night. Apparently the cop helped, we never saw him and we didn't see him in the papers as a mutilated corpse."

"Should I check?"

"No.  He should be fine.  I've seen her in there panting over another one of the guys and warned him and the bouncers that I'd seen her. The bouncer and the boss asked her before they blacklisted her in the city and the state.  She sneered and said he was hiding from her.  So I'm guessing he went home.  He was from Chicago I think."  He shrugged.  "He got the help he wanted and I'm sure the numbers are still floating around the back office and so's Speed's cellphone."  That got a nod and a satisfied looking smile. They pulled up in front of a suit shop and he looked at him.  "You're going to help me in here, right?"

"Definitely.  Besides, I could use a new shirt."  He got out and walked the boy inside, taking him to where he should be, just this side of trendy and cute suits for teenagers. It only took six for him to find one he liked on the kid, then his own shirt.  It was fitted and could be picked up in a few days once Xander paid for it, and they left again, heading to where Eric said he shopped, which was trendy and cute, but nothing was Xander-tight, which was now a word around the office.  Horatio looked at him when he parked.  "Some of the females have decided that your black and gray jeans are now the standard for too- tight," he offered with a smirk.  "Xander-tight is now a word."

"Eric teased me about that," he admitted with a shy grin.  "I have tighter pairs."

"Can you get into them?"

"Oh, yeah, easily, but I'll never wear them in public."

"Thank you."  He got out and walked the poor boy inside, letting him look.  He watched the boy shop, he was very picky.  "How did you find jeans tighter than those black ones?"

"They were fitted to me by someone.  She was up and coming and did the club's clothes in Montreal.  She's the one who made a lot of my stuff, including the black lounging jammies I wore that night after I got rid of the ooze."  He grinned at him.  "She fit them exactly to my body.  As long as I never gain weight, they'll do and I can still sit and breathe in them.  Which is better than my black ones if I ate too much lunch."  He blushed a bit.  "My rust colored ones are highly indecent."  He pulled out a shirt and held it up.  "Doesn't this look like Tim's?"

"It does.  And he spilled ink on his the other day."  Xander checked the size and got it in a bigger one, then put it in his stack, making Horatio smile.  "He had a bad week last week."

"It happens to the best of us. Even I had my bad weeks.  Head injuries are like that."   Horatio made a noncommital noise.  He looked at him.  "Really."  He grinned. "I still have to go through my stuff."

"You probably should."  He handed over something and Xander beamed, putting the dark purple t-shirt into his stack.  "You said there's a dichotomy in your clothes?"

"Um, definition of the big word?" he asked hesitantly.

"A split?" he tried again.

"Yeah, all my Sunnydale clothes are really baggy and loose. I was trying to hide in plain sight according to Tim.  That and thrift shopping."  The woman behind the counter gave him a long stare and he smiled back.  "What?  I had no idea what my body could do until last summer."

"You're from Sunnydale?"  He nodded, raising an eyebrow.  She smiled and walked him into the back area, saying something quietly and handing him something.  "There you go, Mr. Harris," she said as she came back.  "Feel free to try any of that on."

"Where did that come from?" Xander asked.

"Rupert sent it via Ethan Rayne."

"Should I trust it?" he asked.  She nodded.  "No slimy chaos intentions to get me possessed again or anything?"

"No," she assured him with a smile.  "Rupert made sure he didn't mess with it."

"Thank you."  He put it in the corner of his basket and went back to shopping.  He glanced at Horatio and shrugged. "What do I know?" he muttered.

"Fredro, er, Ethan, did say he was going to leave you alone for a very long time under penalty of a beating by his ex, again," Horatio offered.  He watched the boy go into the changing area, coming out in his t-shirt choice and a pair of jeans.  "Are they comfortable?"

"New jeans are never comfortable," Xander reminded him, turning to look at his ass. "Are you sure these aren't too baggy?  I'm not sure what normal people pants look like."  He looked at the saleswoman again.  "I either get too baggy or skin-tight.  Are these okay?"

"They don't do much for your butt," she offered.

"They're fine, Xander," Horatio promised.  "You said nothing that tight.  Eric's are usually just a bit too snug if that's an indication."  Xander shrugged and agreed, going to get the rest since they were in the same size.

The saleswoman looked at him. "It must be tough to be surrounded by the prettiness of that one, Tim Speedle, and Eric Delko all the time. I saw them in the club a few nights ago and they made everyone pant."  He blushed at that and she giggled. "Not that you're not pretty and I'm sure the women you work with are too, but those three are to drool on. That's why they were born.  To be sex toys of the Great Ones."  She winked at him.  "Don't you agree, Lieutenant?"

"Delko showed you my picture?"

"Group picture and he was in a chatty mood," she admitted, smiling as Xander came up and let her check him out.  She looked at the overshirt, then at him.  "Present?"

"For Tim since I heard you mention him.  You hit on him that night after the twins went to find someone to play with them."

"I did," she agreed happily. "He seemed very nice.  Tell him to call me, I was the one with the red wig."

"Sure," he agreed. "I love being his secretary."  She giggled and winked as she gave him a discount, then took the money and handed the change and the bag to him.  "Have a nice day."

"You too."

Xander waited until they got in the car.  "Like I'm going to let Tim date a chaos witch," he snorted.  "Yeah.  I'm sure."  Horatio laughed and he looked at him.  "Are you okay?  I heard her very subtle hint that you start dating at the office."

"I'm fine, Xander.  She didn't try anything.  What's in that ball of fabric?"

"Clothes.  The note said someone sent them to me there.  It was the clothing person who thought I went back to Sunnydale.  The rest'll be appearing tonight wherever those end up."

"Ah.  How many more stripper outfits are you getting?"

"None.  These were dual duty stuff.  That's mostly what I picked out, except some things, like the PVC pants.  She helped me design that routine."

"It was good," he admitted.  "Home?"

"If you're bored and wanna watch tv.  We have cable."  He grinned at him.  "You're driving and I can always buy lunch to go if you wanna dump me."

"No, that's fine, Xander.  I haven't been shopping in a while."

"You still haven't been shopping," Xander said, pinching him on the bicep.  "I took Danny shopping and he giggled and rolled around that night."

"I remember," he agreed fondly.

"Good, then turn, um, right at the light three from now.  I do have something on order that I have to pick up.  Even if I probably won't be using it."  He nodded and headed where he was told, ending up outside a store painted black.  He drug Horatio inside, past the doorman with a nod, and up to the counter.  The girl behind it looked at Horatio, then at him. "This is Mom."

"And I thought the other guy was bad."

"Which one?  I've brought in two others."

"The Latin honey you drug in the other day who just stared."

"Oh, Eric," he said, nodding.  "He works with mom here."  He grinned at her.  "Is it in yet?" he pleaded.

"Of course.  I heard you quit."

"Dad wanted me in college and I threw my back my last night.  I have the option of doing some special events."  He grinned as she went into the back, pulling Horatio over to look at the things he liked.  He handed him two button up shirts, since no one he knew had ever seen Horatio in a t-shirt, and looked him over, then picked out three pairs of pants, pushing him toward the changing rooms.  "Try those on, my treat."  He went back to the counter, stroking the package.  "Are we sure?"

"We're sure.  I unpacked them myself.  They're made to your measurements exactly, baby."  She leaned over to kiss him on the cheek.  "My poor injured boy," she cooed.  "You need a nice ma....."  She trailed off, seeing Horatio coming out in the blue silk shirt and the black leather pants.  "Maybe he'll do," she said weakly.

Xander looked and grinned.  "I like you in that.  Now you can work."  He beamed.  "Try on the others.  Those were probably the tighter pair but just in case."  He turned back to her, then back to Horatio.  "Do you think he'd mind if I got a nipple ring?"

"I don't know," Horatio offered.  "Call and ask.  I'll find out how long he spluttered later."  These clothes made him feel very naughty.  It was something he missed in his life now and then.  He went back to try on the others, having a bit of fun.  He came out in the other outfit and Xander came over to take the shirt off him and hand him another one, making him chuckle at his antics.  He was definitely a ball of energy.  "What did he say?"

Xander reached over the counter to dial the phone, smiling at her.  "Hi, Eric, where's dad?"   He was put on. "Daddy, can I get a nipple ring?  No, I'm picking up a special order and making Horatio wear silk.  Payment for helping me buy a suit I don't look like a dork in.  Yeah, no, nipple ring."  He smirked and pulled the phone away from his ear when he started yelling 'no, hell no'.  He hung up.  "He yelled.  Eric was giggling."

"You know, there are less noticeable but more fun piercings," she offered.  "My boyfriend's got two and he loves his."  She wrote down a name and address. "If you decide you want one, go here and talk to him about an in-between stud.  He likes his a lot."

Horatio stalked over, it was more natural in the leather and silk.  "In-between stud? That's one I haven't heard of before."

She grinned. "It's between your cock and balls.  He loves his and it's very delicate and easy to tease. He's got a very delicate silver hoop there."

Horatio blushed and nodded.  "I've heard of those but I never heard them called that."

"Yeah, he called it his Hidden Treasure."  She looked him over and blatantly wiped her mouth off. "That's a good look for you," she assured him, nodding slowly.  He smiled and went back to change into his suit.  "It should be a crime that you hide that," she moaned. "Especially behind a suit."

"They wouldn't let him work in the police station with Dad if he wore leather to work," Xander said.  "Besides, he does cool menace so much better that way."

"Plus the dry cleaning bill is less," Horatio agreed.  "It was written into the dress code a few years back for everyone but Vice when they've been out on the job."  He looked at Xander.  "If you do that today, I'm going to wait in the hummer."

She moaned and rang him up, letting Xander pay, then she waved and walked into the back.  "I'm going to have a happy moment.  Xanny, please flip the sign?" she called as she shut the door.

Xander did flip the sign for her and grinned at the bright blush. "She's a very nice lady.  Tried to set Eric up with her sister.  I'm going to try that again for her."

"She looked familiar."

"Her sister works in the labs," he admitted, climbing back in more casually this time.  "Ha, got the knack of it now."

"You do," he agreed, checking the bags.  His was handed over and put into the back seat.  "Are you going to do that?"

"Not today," he decided.  "I wanna think about it a bit more and let dad yell at me for it.  Even though *he's* got one and I know Aiden has a new one."

"She does?"

"Yeah, she does."  He grinned at him.  "She didn't say where though.  Maybe a belly button one."  He shrugged and sprawled casually in the large, comfy seat.  "If you want, I can take you to my other favorite place.  I do have to warn you that they do sell some limited sex toys there as well so you might be really embarrassed."

"I'm having fun and we can go."  He let Xander navigate and pulled up in front of a store he had never imagined was in the city.  It was purple and pink outside, and it was very blatantly open, but no one seemed to notice it.  It wasn't in the 'gay' section of town.  It was in a fairly conservative neighborhood and no one seemed to notice it was odd.  "Magic?" he asked.  Xander nodded and let him inside.  "Are we covered?"

"Just as soon as you parked and the whole parking lot is covered," the man behind the counter said, looking him over, then at Xander, shaking his head.  "Dear."

Xander grinned and winked, leading Horatio off by the hand to the racks he wanted.  He handed him a few things and had a longer hunt for a pair of pants, then handed those over.  "There, go try it on."

"Are these worse than the leather ones you just got me?"

"Hey, she got happy afterwards and you looked good."  He gave him a gentle nudge and bounced back to the counter.  "Is the book in?"  It got pointed at so he went to get it down and flip through it.  The gasp and moan was enough to make him grin and look up.  "Those are my sort of tight," he admitted dryly.  "Maybe the next size up."

"Oh, no, he needs those," the guy behind the counter moaned. "Oh please get those."  He checked them out and took a few of the things off the shelves to tease himself with openly while they left.

"I'm not used to that reaction," Horatio admitted as he climbed back in.  He looked at Xander's book, which was on gay sex.  "Learner's manual?"  Xander nodded.  "You could date and have them teach you."

"That means I'd have to go expecting to find someone who had a clue.  Besides, I'd like to know where I'm going when I start a trip."  He flipped to a page, showing it to him.  "I can't do that, but that's good because I know I'm not going down that street."

Horatio swallowed.  "That is good to know.  Shut that please?"  It was closed and put into a bag.  "Thank you.  I wouldn't let Eric find that.  He'll tease you mercilessly."

"Calleigh said if I bought one, I had to share with her."

Horatio blushed again.  "I don't need to know why."  That got a giggle from the young man next to him. "You didn't have to buy me clothes."

"Yes I did.  You bought me clothes."  He grinned at him. "Lunch?  Or whatever the brunch equivalent of mid-afternoon snack is?"

"Sure," he agreed, heading for one of his favorite places.  "What are you doing tonight?"

"Eric demanded that we go out with him.  He's horny and lonely so we're his protection posse in case he ends up being hit on by someone gross. Again.  So I'm guessing something fitted and from the Montreal clothes.  Eric said I had to look hotter than him to lead off any dangerous or ugly women."

Horatio just snickered at that, that was so Eric to get the boy to play bait so he could be choosy.

"You should come with us."

"I never really clubbed like that."

"So?  I can teach you how to dance if you don't know how.  Hell, I had to teach Tim a few new moves the last time."  He grinned at him.  "Come on!  You can wear the new stuff, no one'll know you, and you'll get to relax and let loose.  It'll be fun.  It's not like I drink and it'll give me another voice in the sober person's club since they're both going to get mildly buzzed and I ended up tossing Eric into a cab the last time."

"All right, if they don't mind."

Xander pulled out his cellphone and called Calleigh, she could pass on a message until Tim calmed down about the piercing issue.  "Hi, sweetie.  I got the book and tell daddy that mom's coming with us tonight.  No, I've got clothes for him to wear.  Tell us where to meet them."  He grinned at her comment.  "Still?  No, he yelled when I asked if I could have a nipple ring.  Tell Frank I'm sorry he got worried.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "He yelled so much Frank came to see what was wrong.  He's still throwing a fit."

"He'll probably think I'm a bad influence on you."

"I doubt it."  He grinned at him.  "If we can stop by the house so I can get my gel and deal with the clothes; we can meet them later so you don't have to hear Eric whine about being fat next to me.  After lunch."  Horatio nodded and pulled into the place they were going.


Xander paid their cover and led Horatio inside.  He was in full slut mode at the moment, but he was happy and having fun.  He hadn't done his hair this way in months and it felt good to get back to it.  He looked back at Horatio, who was in the jeans and the blue silk shirt.  Xander was in his rust colored jeans that had been molded and fitted to his body, and a t-shirt that showed very well his dedication to his morning PT.  He found the other two at the bar staring and grinned.  "Hi."  He hugged Tim.  "I was a good boy and didn't do it anyway."

"Good."  He looked him over, then back at his son's face. "Please tell me you didn't put those on wet?"

"No, the nice lady in Montreal fit them to me.  She did my gray ones too, but they were the first trial."  He pulled Horatio closer.  "See?  I dressed him."  He grinned and smiled at the bartender.  "Can I have a virgin cranberry ice?"  That got a nod and someone down the bar smirked and paid for it for him.  He winked and led Horatio out, going to teach him how to move once he had it.

Eric looked at Speed.  "Are we going to have a problem with a crush?" he asked.

"I don't know," he admitted, watching them move together.  They were basically the same height and Horatio seemed to be able to understand what he was being taught.  They moved well together and were getting a lot of looks.  "Do you feel odd thinking that H is hot?" he asked finally.

Eric swallowed a large gulp of his beer. "I am.  I'm almost freaking out.  Call Alexx and Calleigh?"  Speed nodded and did that, getting them some help.  Calleigh showed up alone.  She had threatened to bring Ryan Wolfe, but apparently hadn't been able to.  She sidled up to the bar and stared at the two on the floor.  "Yeah, that's why we called," Eric agreed. "Xander dressed him."

"Those pants give new meaning to the word 'Xander-tight'."

"He said some lady in Montreal fitted them to him."

"Very well I might add," she agreed weakly.  The boy in question saw her and beamed, bouncing over to drag her back to put between her and Horatio.  "Hi," she said, grinning at him.  "Speed and Eric invited me."

"That's fine," he agreed, looking a bit sheepish.  "He dressed me."

"Horatio, you look hot," she said honestly.  "I'm going to drool on you soon.  Just forget I did that tomorrow, okay?  Like Vegas, what happens in the club stays in the club."  She danced with him and someone got the kid from against her back, making him growl.  She giggled and poked him, making him look down at her. "That was a possessive sound," she teased.

"He's going to get into trouble."

She winked at him. "I won't tell if you won't that I drool over your butt in those jeans."

He leaned down next to her ear, feeling that streak of naughtiness again. "You should see the leathers he found me."  He went to steal Xander back, leaving her to dance with Eric and Speed. He watched as Speed took his spot and the boy came back to him at his stare, giving him a grin.  "Thank you.  We don't want you taken."

"You won't let me be taken."  He went back to dancing with him, making the other man shiver.  "Let it go, Horatio," he ordered as quietly as he could in his ear.  "Let the animal out.  That's what this is for."  He got a nod and let his own beast out.  "What got you?"

"A tiger at the Brooklyn Zoo," he admitted.

Xander grinned.  "That's okay.  They're very pretty creatures.  Very protective and very fierce."  He looked at the person who dared touch his backside and they backed off.  He went back to dancing with his buddy.  When he went into the bathroom an hour later, he was nearly jumped but the person decided to regret it fairly quickly.  He got done and washed his hands then came back out.  Horatio was at the bar, getting them both something to drink and he went back to playing with him.  He understood and it was nice to have that.


Speed flopped down on Xander's bed when they finally got home, pulling Xander closer to talk to him.  "We need ta talk, son."  Xander grinned at him.  "Eric thinks you've got a crush on H."

"He understands but crush?"  He wobbled on it. "He's hot and even you drooled tonight, but he protests that he's too old for me.  If he came to me, then that's up to him."

Speed considered it.  "That's reasonable," he decided, kissing him on the forehead.  "You were damn good tonight. By the way, nice save in the bathroom, son."  He got up with a moan.  "I don't see how you dance all night with H.  By the way, you two looked hot enough to send Calleigh running for cover at least twice."

"You should see him in the leather pants I bought him," he offered with a grin.  He got up and wiggled out of his pants and thong, then his shirt.  He climbed under the sheets with a sigh and was soon out.

Speed grinned and went to his own bed, finding Calleigh in there.  "Hi," he said casually.  "Snuck in?"

"Hell yes.  I need it, Speed," she whimpered.

"I know."  He closed his bedroom door to keep down the noise. It had always been a casual, friendly, easy thing now and then between them when the need got too great.  Hell, he was straight and he would've jumped Horatio himself.  Eric said the same thing but he went home with a set of triplets.


Frank Tripp looked at Horatio as he walked in the next morning, smirking at his tired looking face.  "Long night?"

Horatio looked at him, just staring for a moment.  "Where were you?"

"I was out getting some dinner when I saw you coming out of a club with the kiddies.  By the way, Delko called off.  Too much sex with the triplets from what Speed said."  He smirked at him.  "Did he paint those pants on you?" Horatio blushed and shook his head. "You sure?"

"I'm quite sure, Frank.  They're on the foot of my bed at the moment."  He took off his sunglasses and looked at him.  "It was fun.  I had a night off; even I need one now and then."

"I could tell, you're grinning.  Now, I want details so I can blackmail Delko.  Triplets?"

"Triplets, Frank," he agreed smugly.  "I was keeping Xander out of harm's way."

"Yeah, I saw him when I drove around the second time.  By the way, Alexx slapped a vice guy for asking if he was an escort a few days back.  Then she ripped her a new one, which Speed ended up breaking up to save the woman's life.  Everyone now knows that Speed's son used to be a stripper but he got him out of the business and into college.  He made *real* sure they knew he thought of the kid like a son too.  Then Wolfe popped up and suggested the kid could use a good, steadying influence to date.  Just ask the one he had set him up with."  He heard the low growl and looked at him.  A light dawned, you could almost see it.  "Horatio Caine, you have lust!" he accused, beaming at him. "It's about time!  And hell, the boy could use you.  Someone a bit possessive and he's not exactly the normal nineteen-year-old.  Oh, Alex wanted to know when his birthday was and Speed admitted he didn't know."

"Why do you think I would?" he asked quietly.

"Because I figure you had the boy researched and if you don't know, Calleigh probably has it in the stuff she got from her friend from when he first showed up."

"It wasn't in there."  He walked inside.  "You're wrong, Frank."

"I'm not wrong and think about it.  He won't come asking for what he needs."  He smirked at the look over the shoulder.  "Watch out, Wolfe's wandering this way.  He's having another tripping day."  He smirked as he went back to his desk.

Horatio went inside, going to talk to Ryan to see what was wrong.  Apparently his was cold medicine and the rest of the shift was just tired.  He looked at Calleigh when he ran into her.  "Frank said Alexx wanted to know when Xander's birthday was."

"No one's sure, we can't find out," she told him.  "He won't even tell Speed.  So why don't you ask, Horatio?  You're basically his best friend."  She walked off, happy and bouncy.

Horatio watched her go, then went to talk to Speed.  "The rumors...."

Speed shut the door and looked at him. "I talked to my son. He's not adverse to the idea, but he's mature enough to realize this isn't the normal thing for you, your job could be in jeopardy, and he said you'd have to come to him.  That's all I want to know if you two get together and if you hurt him, I'm siccing Willow on your ass.  By the way, why does he have more stuff he can't wear in public?"

"Leftover from Montreal that got sent to Sunnydale.  Rupert sent it to a local contact, who gave it to him while I was helping him shop.  He's very young."

Speed looked at him. "Horatio, his parents were shitbags.  Drunken, yelling, abusive shitbags.  He came running to me the day his father came up with an idea to sell him to get some extra cash.  He was going to sell him to a Master in LA who was known for training and then killing people.  That's the day Aiden and I made them leave the town fearing for their lives."  Horatio nodded at that, sitting down.  "Now, the boy was in combat from the time he was sixteen until we made him stop hunting.  He's not exactly the normal, average kid.  Let's face it, the kid gets on with Mac Taylor like they're former military buddies.  He's more mature than Eric is. Whatever age he is, depending on when his birthday is, he's more than capable of understanding you and me and your job and my job.  He may not have the science brains that I have, but he gets my job.  We've talked a lot.  That's how I know he's not dumb and he's very mature.  He and Buffy's mom used to have long talks.  Yeah, his body's overriding his mind sometimes in the sex stuff, but not that often.  Think  about any other nineteen-year-old with his skills, H.  Where would he be?"

"Bent over and taking it from a sugar daddy," Horatio admitted.

"Or out getting it every night, at least twice a night, in the clubs," he agreed. "You notice he's not?"  That got a small nod.  "He had *no* self-esteem when Aiden first met him.  I mean none.  We're talking lower than zero into the negative numbers on his meter for that.  She got him up and the girls would tear it down or Rupert would. I got called back and we both worked on him and it took him nearly committing suicide by bomb to see that we were right.  When he faced down the zombies and told Jack he liked the silence and could live with it.  Now, the boy's got some based on his physical attractions, and it took stripping to get that far. His self esteem for his intellect still need nurturing.  This semester ain't gonna help much since his Geology teacher is accused of sexual harassment of three girls and is under investigation and his psych professor is a fucking bitch.  Plainly."  That got a half- smirk.

"The boy needs someone who can appreciate all of him and for some reason you understand him.  That's one thing he did say, that you understood all of him, which can be a tricky thing. I don't understand some of his instincts and I don't want to know how you do since all the other times it's been some sort of psycho serial killer who understood his more wild instincts."  That got a nod.  "So I don't wanna know.  Really.  We'll never catch you if you are and I know you'll cherish my son or else."  That got another smirk.  "So, make your decision carefully based on the real Xander.  Not the happy Xander, not the bouncy Xander ball of sex and lust that, once he learns how to do it, will probably be the best lover in the city.  Anya moaned for months about her few hours with him and how good it was.  That's why she nearly killed him getting more.  I figure it'll transfer to going down on a guy and being under him or over him.  I don't see him on top very regularly but then again I don't see you much as a bottom slut anyway," he said bluntly.  "So you two would be fine with me, but when I *asked* him about it he said you're still protesting that you're too old for him and that you'd have to make the first move.  Though the spoiling he did yesterday was cute.  Can we see you in the leather pants?  That one pair at the strip club were pretty decent."

"The next time he drags me out with you guys," he promised, standing up.  "I don't know if it's a good idea, Speed."

"So?  Who cares?  Or when did you care what others thought?" he asked. He shrugged.  "Those who know the boy like him and like you.  They all know you won't hurt the kid.  And hell if it won't take some patience to calm him down and teach him to clean his room."  Horatio snickered at that, shaking his head.  "Just promise to be gentle the first few times.  Then you can probably be however nasty, kinky, and slutty you want with him.  He's kinda looking forward to having a lover he can trust, because he doesn't trust anyone to be close enough and not hurt him after a while. It took him *months* to trust that Aiden and I weren't going to end up trying to kill him like the others have. You don't have an uphill battle but there's a few anthills in your way."

"Thank you."

"Not an issue, but if you make him cry on my shoulder for being mean, I'm siccing the ladies on you.  By the way, Yelina told me this morning that if you take up with the boy, let her tell Ray Jr. first.  That he wasn't really aware of gay people before he met Xander."

"I will take it under advisement."

"Good.  Now, can we tease Eric about the triplets and calling off for too much sex?  Hell, I made it in."

"Sure," he agreed smugly.  "You and Calleigh can tease him all you want."

"Thanks, son-in-law."  He grinned and opened the door.  "Now let me get back to work, H."  He coughed. "Oh, watch out for Vice.  Since they learned he's a good guy and helpful they want his help to bust someone."

"No way in hell," he noted, going to his office to start his day and think. He needed to think.  Everyone was being so pushy and he wasn't sure if he wanted to dig his heels in or not.


Xander looked up as someone joined him at his table, pushing out a chair with a foot.  "Who're you?" he asked when he saw the badge.

"Detective Salazar."  She sat down, looking at him. "Vice."

"Okay.  And you want what?"

"Your help catching someone."

"Are they after me?"  She shook her head.  "Are you sure?"  She nodded.  "Then you've got to ask Speed."  He ate a bite of burger.  "He said so when he called earlier."

"He's going after young men who work the clubs, kid."

"Which I don't."  She looked stunned.  "I don't. I don't have easy or tawdry sex.  I go to the clubs to dance.  I'm not a club whore and I duck the club whores."

"You stripped."

"Yeah?  So?  That doesn't mean I'm one of the five percent that pro in there either. For that matter, I did it without liquor and without drugs and I still made more than most of the others in there."  She just gaped.  "I know public perception is strong on this point, but we really wish like hell the people in your position had a real fucking clue what went on in there.  So you wanna get a good point of view, go work in one.  Yeah, there's a few who turn tricks.  There's plenty who retreat to drugs and alcohol to get through the night.  Not all of us.  Plenty of us drink very minimally and drink virgin drinks on the floor.  The same as I don't care what perception is, I still haven't spread my thighs for anyone, nor will I put myself in danger by doing so for the PD.  How in the hell should I know if this is the guy if you don't even know what he looks like?"

"We do, sort of.  We have a description."

"That's not good enough.  What happens if it's not the right person?  I'm expected to go through with it and you just look the other way?"  He snorted.  "Fat chance.  Talk to one of the actual club whores and promise them some protection for doing it for you.  They'd love to.  Until then, please, take off the perception specs and find reality.  Now, anything else?"  She slowly shook her head.  "Good, then I've got orientation."  He got up and headed back toward his next classroom, nearly stomping back when he realized he had left his backpack.  He found her looking at his wallet and snatched it.  "Thank you.  I got paid yesterday.  My last paycheck.  And hey, the diplomatic guy was very nice and tipped me heavily."  He walked off, tucking it back into his pocket as he walked then he pulled out his phone and called Speed.  "I wanna slap the bitch who just showed up and asked me to whore for the PD so they could catch a person going after club whores.  They don't even have a full description, dad!"  He calmed down.  "No, I told her off and to find reality because the perception specs she had on were jaded.  No, I'm calm.  I refuse to let someone call me a whore.  I'll be damned if I spread it for anyone for less than a lot of dating."  He calmed himself again.  "I know.  I know and I should've expected it.  No, I told her first off to ask you.   She's not exactly happy with me.  Salazar, Vice.  Thanks."  He hung up and went to his classroom to wait, finding the teacher already in there.  "Hey."

The orientation teacher smiled at him.  "Peaceful days, Xander."

"I doubt it."

She frowned.  "What happened?"

"I just accused of spreading it around in the clubs."

"Aww.  You poor baby.  I heard you used to strip but I know not all of you get paid for that stuff."

"I didn't even drink and I'm tired of the perception that we're all whores, especially from the officials in the world."  She nodded. "So I'm sorry if I'm a bit angry today.  By the way, your note taking strategy is something the Geology teacher said sucks and that if I use in his class he'll flunk me for it.  My English teacher said I'm not going to be taking many notes in there."

She nodded.  "It could still help you in the other classes."

"I don't take notes like that.  I take it down as much verbatim as possible and then go back over them.  When I do it, it works for me."

"Of course.  It's good that you know what works best."  She smiled and closed the door.  "How was your day off?"

"Okay.  I got paid and did some shopping with a friend and then we all went clubbing last night.  Why?"

"Oh, nothing."  She smiled at him and moved closer.  "Did you have fun?  I know a lot of the nightlife around here is very good."

"Yeah, I went out with some good friends and we had fun.  One of them left with a set of triplets and I got to bed around two."  He shrugged.  "It's clubbing, I'm good with that.  It's not unheard of in my life."

"Sure."  She smiled more sweetly at him and noticed him take notice. "Something wrong?"

"No, not really," he said dryly.  "Who do I have to give my excuse to when I have to testify against two serial killers in New York?"

She blinked and backed off. "I knew you were involved with the police."

"My guardian is a CSI here in Miami and I had two tracking me."  She backed off further. "Does it go to each teacher, the Dean?  The Admin?"

"I'd say the Admin and each teacher just in case," she offered.  "When do you have to go?"

"They're figuring that out.  I thought I'd ask since we have the moment."  Someone opened the door and he nodded at his classmate.  "Hey.  How was your day yesterday?"

"Boring.  I had gym."  He came in and sat down, looking at him.  "Some of us heard your rant at the cop."

"Yay," he said dryly.  "Then some of you know the truth versus the perception.  It's like racial stereotyping; it's bad."  The guy nodded and grinned at that.  "But I feel better now that I'm not being asked to be a whore for the department to catch another killer."

"Hey, I'm with you, man.  Stripping's got to be hard work."  Xander nodded.  "How many hours did you work?"

"Eight hour shifts.  In the club I was in, depending on how many dancers showed up when I was dancing, I went four or five sets a night, plus selling drinks to the customers.  I don't drink so I had them buying me stuff I could hide that I wasn't having liquor in. Anyone who just wanted me to do shots I said I had a problem with them.  Those ones I volunteered to go dance sooner."  He grinned at him.  "You'd be surprised at how many times I heard the same stupid lines."  That got a laugh.  "But yeah, the dancing for three to four songs, fifteen to twenty minutes, four or five times a night is really hard, plus you've got to stay in shape anyway. Ask any dance major how they ache when they get home at night and multiply it by wiggling funny so it's your whole body instead of just your arms and legs."

"Wow," the guy agreed.  "How much does the average stripper make?"

"Down here's pretty high rent in the decent clubs, like the one where I worked was.  In Montreal I made the equivalent of six hundred a week.  Down here I was making a grand easy a week," he admitted.  The boy looked stunned.  "All for being in really good shape, talking to really lonely people who have the wrong idea about you, and then ripping your body apart for five sets a night."

"Wow.  I know a dance major and she said it can't be that hard."

"I'd like to see her do it," he retorted.  "I can show her some stuff if she's interested.  I can prove to her that it's not as easy as what she does.  We've had a few dancers who did ballet who complained this was harder than all day at a dance company.  You also have the same limited shelf life.  Injuries and staying pretty make you money.  Wrinkles and sags don't get it and you get fired."  The guy nodded at that.  "But yeah, I'll gladly have her do one of my sets and see if she thinks it's not that hard."

"I'll suggest it to her."  He grinned at him.  "She said guys just wiggle."

"Bullshit.  Only if they're the sort on the posters.  They get to wiggle.  They're specialists and they're there to be ogled by the masses.  Real strippers, the ones in the club, we still dance.  We don't use the pole as much as the female dancers do, but I used it as a prop.  No spins, but as a substitute lover and things.  And hey, I did a show in drag for a special convention and I salute the ladies who wear those heels.  They killed my feet."  The guy giggled at that.  "Seriously.  They killed my damn feet."

"I'll tell her you said that to warn her."

"Is it as stressful if you're in sneakers?" the teacher asked.  Xander nodded. "Really?"

"Yeah, guys don't wear heels most of the time."  She nodded, getting that.  "I came home with some ripping muscle cramps some nights."  He shrugged. "It happens."  He looked at his fellow student.  "If she wants, let me know.  What's she studying?"


Xander snorted.  "Tell her it's more like ballet for the whole body.  That's how it's explained by dance people usually."

"I will. Thanks, man."

"Not an issue."  His phone rang and he sighed, looking at it.  "It's my dad."  He answered it, taking it out into the halls.  "Yup."  He listened to the calm voice. "No, I was just countering the stripping is easy dancing myth.  A few people heard my rant at her, including one of my classmates.  No, I'm fine.  Why?"  He listened and snorted. "Then I'm definitely not going out alone, even though I'm not like that.  And I'll be damned if I'm going to spread it like that for anyone.  You know I don't do casual sex."  He leaned against the wall.  "Dad, chill.  She isn't going to use me.  Even if you came up and begged me I wouldn't do it for her.  Even if you, Horatio, and Eric came up and begged I probably wouldn't help her now.  Yeah, and they still don't have a full description or picture of him.  It's not like I can go and just start something and then walk away when he doesn't try to kill me.  That'll get me killed anyway or worse, attacked.  There's no way in hell.

"I suggested she find one of the real kids who's in danger and ask them.  To give them some protection.  Maybe even a 'slip past the net once' card or something.  They're doing it anyway and putting their lives in jeopardy, it should be them who do it.  They know who's wrong in those scenes and I wouldn't.  No, I'm not.  Because she can't guarantee my safety or me remaining unraped.  So no, I'm sorry.  You can tell her I said that and suggest again that using one of the natives means that they'd have a better feel for it."  He hung up and went back inside, sighing a bit.  "I hate disappointing people."   A few more students came in and he sat down again, getting as comfortable as he could.  "What're we doing today?  And when do we get a list of teachers to watch out for because they're under investigation?"

"Usually that's word of mouth," the teacher told him simply.  "Do you have one?"

"I'm in Geology."

"Oh."  She winced and hissed.  "Well, at least he's only going for the females."  He shrugged.  "Just tell the Dean if he approaches you, or if any teacher approaches you.  Let's go over that today," she decided.  She counted heads.  "Someone see if the others are coming."  She perched on the front of her desk, looking at them.  "I know we went over the handbook, but we should go over what to do when you have a serious problem with a teacher.  Because I know some of the teachers can be biased and I know there are rumors about some teachers who have problems with certain types of students, and some who are just really bad and harass students."  She smiled at the remaining students came in.  She gave an extra ten points a day if they all showed up for class.  "Good job."  She marked her book with the extra points.  "Now, as I was saying, we're going over what to do when you've got a problem with a teacher."

One girl raised her hand. "Is that like the swim teacher making fun of my weight?" she asked.

"Yes, that's one problem," she agreed.  "Are you okay?"  She nodded.  "Did he call you fat?"

"And then some," she admitted bitterly.  "It's not like I'm on the team or anything, I'm in there for an easy gym grade."  She looked at Xander. "Why aren't you in gym this semester.  They made most of us take it."

"Because I'll use it as stress relief later and my guardian agreed that I could do that.  He wanted me to get a real feel for the college, not take stuff that'll bore me to tears.  I'll take one of those every few semesters for the misery quotient."

"Most orientation leaders do want you to have an easy first semester," the teacher agreed.  "That's to let you feel your way around campus, join the frat or sorority of your choice, and get the partying out of your system.  By the way, there's going to be a presentation by the various Greek organizations next week during our Wednesday class."

Xander raised a hand.  "Can I sleep through that?"

"Just don't snore," she agreed. "You don't want to join a fraternity?  You're the sort they like and we do have a very nice gay and bi frat here on campus."

"And while that's nice, I don't drink.  I don't like being around people who drink, and I hate the party atmosphere.  If I wanna party, it's not with stupid kids who pick on the other drunken idiots.  Nor do I want to talk about cheerleaders and their spankies or anything like that.  I grew out of high school."  She smiled at that.  "I'm sure you've had other, older students who said the same thing."  She nodded.  "Then I'll nap, just poke me if I snore since I know I do."

"That's fine, Xander.  Thank you for being honest.  That's important.  How did you do your last job?"

"With gritted teeth and a lot of nodding and pleasant smiles, plus escaping and not going near anyone *that* drunk.  I've seen plenty of the local fraternities at my former job."  That got a giggle from the guy beside him.  "Not just the bi frat either, man.  Trust me, they all came in."

"What did you used to do?" the first girl asked.

"Up until about a month ago, I stripped for nearly a year.  First in Montreal and then down here when my guardian found me and drug me back."

"You ran away?"

"I walked off after a fight to rescue him from someone and got a bit lost," he said dryly.  "I woke up in Toronto and I like to travel so I went to Montreal.  It's a pretty city, you should go."  She smiled at that. "Just know some French because everything is in French there."  She nodded at that and smiled.

The other female student looked at him.  "You're in my psych class. You and the teacher get into it all the time."

"She's got a pretty sheltered view of reality," he agreed. "I've never met a person like she describes."  That got a small smirk.  "I haven't and I've met some strange and odd people over the years.  Like the cop earlier, I invite her to go do research into reality versus her perception specs."  That got a full giggle for the whole class.  "It's not my fault.  Maybe she comes from somewhere that couples don't fight and don't divorce and things, but the rest of us?  We come from realityville."

"I've noticed her thing against anything not Nixon-era normative," she agreed, looking at the teacher again.  "So, if we have a beef with this teacher, we do what?"

"First, you take it up with the teacher," she instructed.  "Or if the teacher is making rude, sexual, or dangerous comments, then you take it up either one of their coworkers if you trust them or their Chair.  From there, they might send you to the Dean or they may just ignore you and you end up going to the Dean if it's that bad.  Now, going to the dean is for very *bad* things.  Things like sexual harassment.  Things like the teacher threatening you with violence."

"And to be totally realistic, half of them are going to want to protect the school first so you might need proof," Speed said from the doorway. "Xander, you got a letter bomb."  Xander raised an eyebrow and packed up his stuff, leaving with him. "Sorry.  Former friends."

"That's fine. I hope everyone's okay."

"Oh, yeah, the post office brought it to us.  Someone realized we knew him.  Thanks. I can fill in this talk."  He walked the kid off, taking him out to the hummer.  "It came from New York," he said quietly as they walked.  "I've already called Don Flack.  We sent him pictures of it and they managed to disarm it without letting it explode so we can get forensics off it."

"One of the psychos?" he asked as he got in.

"You're getting better at that."  He got in to drive, getting comfortable.  "Backpack?"  Xander kicked it.  "Good.  By the way, next time don't screech at her.  She's trying to do her job."

"You can't do the job if you think everyone around you is getting paid to do bad things.  I'm sorry but you can't.  She still should've went with one of the natives."  He buckled up.  "Do we have any clues?"

"It's in fingerprints and Frank wanted you closer, just in case.  We've already alerted our mail carrier, the landlord just in case one comes UPS, and the college PD."  He pulled out, heading back to the station.  "I'm not sure this is related to them and not the lie we told to get Buffy off your back," he admitted as he drove.  His phone rang and he handed it over.  "Get that for me."

"Speedle's phone," he answered.  "Nope, this is Xander, he's driving.  We're on the way back.  Why?"  He listened and pulled out some paper to take notes.  "Sure, I'll tell him, Yelina.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Yelina said, and I quote, Don called back, the fingerprint matches in their system, and it's a problem so they're sending Danny back down for his own safety.  We're heading to the airport to pick him up.  He just got dropped off and he'll be down here within an hour and a half.  They put him on as priority and a temping air marshal."

"Great. I wonder what's going on."  He changed lanes and headed that way, not using the lights since they had time.  "Did she say why?"

"No, and she said Don wouldn't say why.  That Danny could tell us."

"Uh-huh."  He considered it.  Then he nodded. "Okay.  Where's Horatio?"

"Pacing."  He looked at his notes. "She said Frank's worried sick, Horatio's growling again, and Eric's in and looking at the explosive to see if he can eliminate it out.  It was very tiny, just enough to cause some minor disfiguring damage according to Horatio.  We were lucky the scanners picked it up.  She also said to pick her up a sandwich at that place she likes on the way back since Danny should probably eat, and Ray Jr. thinks it's cool that I'm bi and he's good with that so I'm to come over for dinner Friday night and she's unsubtly inviting Horatio and making his favorite dishes."

"Good.  Everyone wants to know when your birthday was."


"May?  We didn't do anything for it."   He looked at him.  "For some reason that doesn't really surprise me.  License."

"Sorry, officer, I don't have the registration with me," he said dryly as he handed over his license.  Speed looked at it then at him, shaking his head and handing it back.  "What?"

"Now that I know, we're doing something this year."  He took the exit and headed for the airport.  "Alexx wanted to know and she's been bugging everyone.  I realized I didn't know it, Aiden didn't know it, and no one else knew it either.  I should've searched the DMV."

"They fingerprinted me too."

"I don't doubt it."  He pulled into the complex, going to the police parking spot.  The other guys there nodded at him.  "Hey.  Messer in yet?"

"Not yet, sir, but we were told to be here if you didn't get here in time."

"That's fine, I've got it," Speed promised.  He grinned at them.  "Guys, this is the adopted son, Xander.  Xander, two of the local assigned here."  Xander waved and grinned.  "He makes good backup and he got a letter bomb."

"We heard, sir.  Any idea why yet?"

"Messer's bringing that information."  He shrugged.  "That's why he's not in class."  That got some laughs and he walked the kid inside, using his badge to get them past security so they could wait at the gate.  "Did they get him on the flight just before it left?"  She nodded. "Okay.  I'm going to get some lunch and come back.  How long?"

"About another thirty minutes, sir."  She looked at Xander.  "Is he an officer too?"

"No, he's the other witness.  I'm not letting him out of my sight."  She nodded, accepting that.  He led Xander off, going to feed him since he knew the kid would be hungry.  Ranting took energy, or at least it did when he did it.

"We're getting a lecture from the Greek societies next week. I was told I could nap through it."

"I'll give you my I-Pod so you can have tunes to sleep to," he promised dryly. "You don't wanna do a frat, right?"

"No way in hell," he said, grimacing.  "Not my thing."

"Good."  He grinned at him. "See, I knew you had some common sense."  He gave him the bag and there was a branch of the sandwich shop here so he got Yelina's lunch too, then went back to the gate to wait.  Danny came off first, looking morose.  "Hey."  He got a hug and so did Xander.  "Come on, let's head.  You can explain in the hummer."

"Oooh, Horatio let you borrow his?" he teased, walking out with them.  The security guards nodded, smiling at the lunch the kid was eating.  He looked back at Xander.  "Hungry?"

"I left part of my lunch when I ranted at one of the Vice cops who wanted me to go help her catch the guy hurting the kids who hand it out cheaply at the clubs."

"You're not like that and they couldn't guarantee your safety," Danny said.

"That's what I pointed out, at the top of my lungs there for a moment, and told her to go with one of the natives.  She didn't like that."  He shrugged and ate another fry.  He saw someone stop and stare at them. "Um, dad?"  He nodded in that direction. "Problems?"

"Bad ones."  He steered them down another hall so they could get an escort out.  The person followed.  "Oh, shit."  He pulled his gun.  "Xander, nothing stupid," he warned quietly.

"Sure."  He hurried on ahead, going in the office of the transit cops.  "CSI Speedle and Detective Messer from New York need some help," he ordered.  "In the halls.  A guy's following Messer and he's a witness from New York."  They came out to help and he followed. Like the idiot he was since someone started to fire.  "Oh, fuck me," he muttered.  One of the cops looked at him.  "Calling home."  He called Horatio and held up the phone at the continued shots.  Then he put it up to his ear.  "We're by the transit cop office by the baggage claim," he said, then hung up.  One of the cops near him fell and he grabbed his gun, pointing it at the guy aiming at him. "I'm not the weakest one here, buddy.  I've killed, I'm a fucking combat veteran.  Put it the fuck down.  Now."  The man backed up and he saw more cops running.  "Officers down, and I already called the others," he called.  They got the first guy and he gave the officer he had poached from his gun back, going over to check on Speed.  "If you die again, I'm so going to bring you back to kill your ass."

Speed held onto his arm.  "If you get that deeply into magic, I'm going to let Horatio paddle you," he groaned.  "Check on Danny."  Xander moved to check on him.  "He good?"

"Knocked out.  Non-fatal.  Stomach shot."  He pressed on it, looking at the cops staring at him.  "I'm Speed's adopted kid, Xander.  Caine's on his way in.  Just get him here!  And get the fucking paramedics, don't just stand there!"

"Xander," Speed snapped.

"Tough shit, dad!"  He heard more running feet and looked at them.  "Stomach wound. I only checked him and my guardian."  They went to check the others first.  Horatio came running down the halls.  "Hi.  Please tell them I'm not the cause of his?  Or am I the cause of this?  Do we know why that guy stared at Speed and Danny?"

"Not yet I don't but I will soon.  Speed?"

"Grazed, I think," he complained.  "Danny's got a stomach wound."  He moved when the paramedics came back. "Check him."  He kicked Xander.  "No more standoffs, kid."

"Sorry, dad."

"He did what?" Alexx demanded as she came up.  The paramedics gave her a panicked look.  "Sugar, explanations?"

"The guy in front of me fell and I took his gun when the idiot aimed at me.  We had a pissing contest until someone else came."  He moved so the paramedics could get to him.  He was hauled up by Horatio and handed to Eric.  "Hi.  Can I clean up?"

"Sure.  H?"

"Go ahead.  Take a statement.  Meet us back at the station."

"Of course."  He walked the kid off.  "That was fucking dumb. Do you even know how to use a gun!"

"Yes, in many different forms and shapes," he said dryly.  "I'm very good at weapons, Eric.  It's what I do."  Eric stared at him so he stared back.  "What?  You think I haven't?  I trained my own ass and Aiden made sure of it one weekend on the Sunnydale range.  I would've wounded him."  He walked off, him behind him.  "Calleigh, I had one of the guns for a moment. The last officer in the hall fell and the guy came towards me so I grabbed his for a few."  She nodded, taking note of that.  He went into the bathroom to clean up, and to get sick, then came out and headed back, Eric giving him sideways looks.  "Really, I'll be fine."

"I'm sure you will.  You get to talk to Tripp."

"Sure.  I'm good with that."  He got comfortable for the ride back, calming himself.  Once there he got out and was walked inside, Eric right beside him.

"How fuckin' stupid are you!" Tripp yelled when he saw him.

"You'd rather I got shot?"  He shrugged. "I'm a weapon's person, Frank!  What the hell did you expect me to do?"  He looked stunned.  "Really!  I've always been a weapon's guy.  Search my background, Frank, and see what I have in storage."  He walked past him, heading for the interrogation area.  "Which room?"

"Three."  He followed, looking at Eric.  "Find that for me."  He walked in and slammed the door, turning the tape recorder as a formality.  "Okay, let's start this.  Where were you?"

"The gate. Danny came off.  We greeted, we walked him back toward the baggage claim. I noticed someone stopped to stare at us, I thought he was staring at Speedle.  Guy was taller than any us by about three or four inches, dark blond hair, kinda messy.  He had really strong lips, like they were dark but not lipstick kinda dark?  He was wearing a green cable knit sweater and khakis, plus dress shoes.  I'm not sure if there was a shirt on under the sweater.  I pointed him out to Speedle subtly.  Speedle changed directions, taking us down the halls toward where the transit cops' office is.  We realized he was still there and I went ahead since they're armed.  I told the guys in there that CSI Speedle and Detective Messer from New York were in the halls being followed, they needed help.  I followed.  Shooting started, the guy in front of me fell.  I saw the guy aiming his gun toward me and he took a step so I grabbed the weapon off the officer next to me and pointed it at him and told him he was going to get it, that I had some combat experience and I would fire if he tried anything.  Other cops came up and got him, I dropped the gun and went to check on Speedle and then Messer, holding his wound down since it was a more serious one."

Frank blinked at him.  "Okay, slower this time."  He paused the tape.  "You have combat experience?"

"Okay, hunting experience and memories from a soldier possession.  It was all macho bullshitting, Frank."

"Okay."  He turned it back on.  Eric came in and he paused it again, taking the notes he had made, then he looked at the kid.  "Where in the hell....."

"Giles," he moaned, putting his head down.  "I go to do a weekly inventory Tuesdays.  Like I said, I'm a weapons guy and no dad doesn't know, though I have the feeling Horatio might.  He gave me this knowing look when Calleigh was checking Tim's gun."

Frank turned off the tape completely.  "That'll do."  He shook his head.  "Range scores?"

"Ask Aiden."  Frank blinked at him. "I was going for proficiency, Frank, I didn't care about scores as long as I was good enough I my own mind.  I'm fairly a good shot.  It's been a while since I did any targets, but I'm a good shot."  Horatio walked in.  "Do not start yelling," he warned.

"That was still stupid.  Which you are not usually."

"I'd also rather not be dead today.  I have something to look forward to," he said, staring him down.  "Including sleeping through the frat lectures next week."  That got an eye roll from Eric.  "You knew I knew weapons."

"I did.  Aiden told me.  She also mentioned that Giles gave you some and that they're in my city."

"In a locked warehouse that I check weekly for inventory.  Because if I find something missing, the report and the picture would be on your desk within minutes of me finding out.  When it got moved down here, someone added to it," he offered. "That's also where the swords are."  Frank moaned and rubbed his head.  "I'm sorry, but you knew I was gonna protect myself, guys.  Hell, it's a good thing I wasn't in front!  Plus, hallway, no hiding spots."

"At least he did get help and he called," Eric pointed out.  "Directly."

"He did," Horatio agreed, staring the kid down.  "This doesn't make me happy."

Xander stood up.  "A moment of macho bullshitting with the officer's gun in hand kept me from being shot and kept him from finishing off anyone he hadn't killed the first time, Lieutenant.  Did you want me to just run away screaming?  You know damn well I'm not like that.  You know me better than that.  Anyone in this whole building knows me better than that except for a few Vice officers apparently."  That got a slow nod.  "I did what I was supposed to do.  I got them help, I was in the back, protected position.  When the officer in front of me fell I took steps to protect myself and awaited backup.  Isn't that textbook?"

"It is," he agreed calmly.  "How would you know?"

"I read it on your shelf while you were getting dressed," he said, staring him down.  "How do you think I knew it?"

"Aiden," he said dryly.  That got a nod.  "He's going to scream at you."

"And I'm going to tell him the same thing.  The same as you know that I'm not smuggling those weapons, selling those weapons, and it might as well be a collection and a hobby with those weapons.  Technically, I'm just guarding them and I do have my firearm's license. I did that without dad knowing.  I did say that I protected and guarded a collection while the owner was out of town and told them the location of it and gave them the inventory list, complete with the ballistics workup that Aiden did for me and packed."  That got an amused look.  "I also noted that I had a relative in the PD and they would be notified immediately if anything were touched.  I even gave them the list of the unusual weapons, like the sixteenth century katana."  That got another nod.  "Now, if you'd like to see it or talk to Aiden about my proficiencies, I'm good with that.  I'm okay if you want to test me.  But you can't yell at me for protecting my ass when a guy was shooting at us when I did it by the book."

"I can't," Frank agreed, looking at him.  "He's already given a statement."

"I want those weapons moved somewhere safer."

"You've got to have a passcode to get in, it changes monthly.  There's a fingerprint scanner to get into my portion of the storage area and it's got six locks, Horatio.  Where do you want me to store it?  I'll gladly move it."

Horatio nodded.  "Fine.  We will be looking at this tonight."

"Okay.  Is Danny okay?"

"He's fine," he said calmly.  "Speed's been treated and released, he's on his way back.  Danny will be out tomorrow or the next day and we've got officers on the door.  Once he's in a room you can go hang out there and make sure he's all right.  You did the right thing but you still shouldn't have grabbed the weapon."

"It's not like I'm carrying one," he pointed out. "I've only got my switchblade one me."  He shrugged.  "It wasn't going to help much."

"No, it wasn't," he agreed.  He relaxed some.  "No injuries?"  Xander took off his shirt to let him check.  "Fine.  Thank you."  He put the shirt back on and looked at him again.  "Go to my office and wait on your father."

"I just saw Calleigh stomp past with bags," Eric offered. "I'll go help her."  He escaped at the nod. He found Speedle coming in and got out of his way.  "Interrogation three."

"Thank you," he said dryly, heading that way.  He slammed the door open and looked at his son.  "I'm going to kill you, you know that right?"

"You wanted me to die?"

"No!"  He slammed the door closed.  "Macho bullshitting, Xander!  He can say you said you had combat experience."

"I do and I can still say it's macho bullshitting.  Eric saw me puking afterward.  I wasn't about to let him kill me or finish anyone off, Dad.  Get over it!" he snapped, making him step back.  "Aiden made sure I can use guns.  I'm very good with guns, the same as I am with knives and swords and stakes and battle axes and staffs.  Hell, Giles gave me some!"  Speed frowned at that and Horatio nudged him, handing over the list at the warehouse.  Frank took the opportunity to escape.  Xander looked at him. "I filed everything legally.  I have my permit to use and carry, but not concealed. I don't carry. I do a weekly inventory.  When I went in to file, I said I was watching over someone's collection and I gave them that list and the ballstics workup Aiden did on it and included.  Then Giles added some as I found out when it got moved down to a secure storage location here.  I'm sorry if you're upset, but I'm not fucking well letting you die!  I finally have something to look forward to and I'm not dying either.  If only so I can sleep through the annoying 'come join us, we're fun' frat and sorority chick lectures!"  Speed snorted and looked at him.  "Tough. Sorry, but tough.  I did what I had to do, and I did it textbook.  Even if I did pick up a weapon off someone who had been shot.  I protected myself, I held the suspect until backup arrived and then I rendered aid to those I could, focusing on those I knew.  I'm sorry if you're disappointed in me," he said more quietly, turning and starting to walk out.

"Catch him," he ordered.  Horatio caught him and walked him back inside.  "Anything else you want to tell me now?"

"I puked in the bathroom?"

"I heard that part."  He moved closer.  "It was still dangerous.  He still could've shot you.  I wasn't able to fire anymore but I wasn't unconscious.  He could've shot you."  Xander swallowed and nodded.  "I'm not disappointed in anything but you not telling me about the stash."  He patted him on the cheek.  "I'm proud you managed to protect us, but I'm going to be livid and I'd expect Don and Danny to both yell since Don's on his way down now."  Xander winced.  "So, calm down, get over it, get a soda, and we'll talk tonight."

"No."  Xander shook his head.  "I never planned on using the weapons, dad."

"So?  You still should've told me you had them."

"You don't like weapons.  I cleaned them all every week while I did the inventory."

Speed looked at him, then at the list, then back at him.  "You weren't planning on telling me, were you?"  Xander shook his head.  "Were they going to stay there?"  He nodded.  He groaned and sighed.  "You still should've told me."

"After how you flinched when I asked you to teach me how to shoot?" he asked quietly.

Speed sighed and leaned on the table.  "Okay.  I can agree to that.  I don't like guns.  I don't like to carry my gun, still.  I take better care of it thanks to you but I hate the thing.  I'm more a science guy than a field guy, I fully admit to that.  That's why I'm not allowed in the field alone, and I agree with that.  I can get people, including myself, killed."  Xander nodded.  So did Horatio.  He looked at him. "You knew?"

"That you still didn't like to carry your gun?  I had noticed, yes," he admitted.  "I also knew about his.  When he came back I updated the profile I had in my desk and that showed up.  We are all going to the range this weekend," he ordered calmly.  "I need to make sure Xander can protect you if something happens and I want to make sure you can still use yours, Speed."

"I agree," he promised, holding up a hand.  "It's not my thing and I know that and you should ride my ass about it."  He heard the muttered comment from his kid and gave him a head shove.  "Stop that."  He looked at Horatio again.  "Is he in trouble?"

"No.  Even though he touched an officer's weapon, it was in the best interests to protect the fallen officers."  He shifted closer, moving just slightly.  "He said Aiden taught him."

"I figured she would when I had a bad reaction and nightmares for three weeks."  Xander nodded.  "The Sunnydale PD range?"  That got another nod.  "Scores?"  Xander snorted and shrugged.  "Technically proficient?"

"Of course.  As well as I am with the battle axe.  I didn't even know you could score those things."

"Fine," Speed agreed.  "You get to explain this to Flack."

"Yes, sir."  He walked out, heading down to catch a cab to the hospital.  Yelina looked at him and gave him a dirty look.  "What?"

"You have weapons?"

"A few, yeah.  Giles gave them to me.  I'm a weapon's guy.  I always have been."

"You clean Speed's guns," she said quietly.  He nodded.  "All the time?"

"I make him watch most of the time since I do it during cartoons."  She smiled at that and gave him a hug.  "Any update on Danny?"

"He's out of surgery and he'll be fine.  Are you heading over?"  He nodded.  "Then I'll take you.  Did you give a statement?"  He nodded and followed her out.  "Good.  If Horatio says you're good enough, you can help him teach Ray Jr. how to use one.  I want him to have a repeat of the gun safety lectures, the full version this time."

"Tell him.  He's vowed to get me onto the range this weekend with the stash I've got."

"That's fine."  She patted him on the back of the head, letting him get in to drive, he was so macho sometimes.  "Are you all right?" she asked as they headed off.

"I try very hard to be.  I'll shake and finish puking after dinner."

"Good boy.  You'll make a fine officer."

"I can't follow rules that well," he noted dryly.  She laughed and swatted his knee.  "I can't.  Speed thinks I'd be a good profiler though."

"I can see you doing that. You do watch people."

He nodded, glancing at her. "Yelina, among your people, there's rumors of shaman, right? Those who take animal spirits to learn from them?"

She nodded.  "There are.  I've often thought Horatio was one in his youth somehow.  Then I figured it's where he watches people."

"I was accidentally possessed by a hyena back in tenth grade," he admitted quietly.  "The zookeeper was trying to do what the shaman did and a few kids drug another in that house to bully the one. I followed to help the kid since I don't like the bullies.  The bullies and I ended up being possessed. They ate the old principal."  She gasped and he nodded. "I helped 'em eat a pig, the school mascot.  So that's where mine come from."

"And Horatio understands," she said, finally understanding it.  "Do you like him?"

"I could but he's the real catch here.  I'm leaving that up to him.  I could easily like him, a lot.  Very much.  But he's hung up on his age and I'm not.  Besides, I hate that part of the hunt. I would rather be the courted than the one courting.  It's an odd quirk in me.  I don't mind being dominant in some areas but in love I'd rather be the one chased."  He pulled into the parking lot. "I'm assuming, but here?"

"Here," she agreed.  She unbuckled and looked at him.  "You hunt very well, Xander.  I've noticed it in the past.  You are a very strong protector, but that does explain some other things I've seen.  Does Timothy know?"

"Yeah.  Willow warned him when he caught me growling and eating rare chicken one night," he said dryly, smirking at her. "I was a bit frustrated.  The weapons were about the last secret I had from Tim."  She smiled and patted him on the hand again.  "So, you're okay with this?"

"No, but I realize you are and it's not my son or me."  He grinned at that.  "If something like that happens to him, I will expect you to handle it."

"Sure, but I'm not much one for magic. I've never studied.  I had a bad example in Willow."  He got out and tossed her the keys once she was out, letting her lock the doors so he could escort her inside.  "Messer," he told the receptionist.

"Are you family?"

"Coworkers," Yelina said.

"Upstairs, two west, officer."

"Thank you."  She took their visitor's passes and headed to the elevator, handing him his.  "You can use a sword?" she asked.  He nodded, grinning at her.  "Hmm, not easy to manage with paws."  He pinched her and she grinned.  "Just teasing, Xander."

"I know.  Aiden said the same thing when she caught me teaching myself."  He let her get onto the elevator first and put on his badge once he was inside.  He also let her walk into the room first since he was going to be scared now.  Danny's and Don's opinions meant a lot to him.  Danny stared him down. "Speed's already yelled about me grabbing that gun."

"I'm not," he assured him.  "The macho bullshitting, that I'll yell about."

"It killed enough time for backup to arrive."  He stroked the hair off his forehead.  "You okay?  They at least giving you good drugs?"

"I'm fine.  It didn't hit nothin' and I've already talked to Don.  He's still swearing but he's calmer."

"So, what was the bomb related to?" Yelina asked.

"One of the officers up there wanted to make him back off since I was having a hard enough time being seen as a good cop.  My family's got a...history and there was an incident when I had ta shoot at a dirty cop."  She nodded, understanding that.  "So they wanted Xander ta back off and let me be seen as straight.  Mac yelled up and down as Don got me outta there about it being a ruse but they thought more might try me.  So here I am."

"Did you recognize the man in the airport?" she asked.

"Nah, not a clue," he said tiredly.  "I thought he was starin' at Speed too when Xander nudged us to point him out."

"Then Frank will see if he knows him."  She stroked his cheek.  "When are they letting you out?"

"Tomorrow afternoon.  It wasn't very deep.  He was usin' a pop cap gun."  Xander nodded at that.  "You know guns?"

"Aiden taught me when I asked."

"Ah."  He nodded. "Yeah, she knew how ta use hers," he admitted.  Someone came to the door and he looked at Don.  "You made good time."

"I commandeered a seat," he said, walking in.  "You good?"

"Been better."  He shrugged and winced.  "Weak weapon."  Xander helped him shift up some.  "Thanks, brat."

"Welcome."  He looked at Don.  "I don't think dad would mind if you guys had the spare room."

"He said we could so I guess not."  He cuffed him upside the head.  "Protect what's mine more."

"Oh, really?" Yelina asked with a smile.

"Not like that," he said, shaking his head.  "You've infected her with your smut now, kid?"

"I'm trying hard not to," he admitted.  "I was in the rear, Don, after the transit cops.  I did pull one of their guns up and use it to hold him and keep him from shooting me or anyone a second time."  Don blinked at that and Yelina nodded.  "I've been yelled at for that already.  A lot."

"Good!"  He looked at him.  "You can use a gun?"  Xander nodded. "You never said that."

"You never asked and you saw the knife collection," he pointed out.  "I'm a weapons guys.  I like weapons.  Giles gave me a stash of them that the Council gave him."

"You don't carry?"

"No, I don't want to resort to shooting someone.  That's a method of last resort in my book," he noted dryly.  "I'm licensed to."

"How good are you?"

"Proficient as I want to be.  I can shoot to kill or wound.  Aiden taught me."  He looked happier at that.  "I clean my collection every week to make sure it's all there and okay.  She did the ballistics workup before I moved it down here and it was handed over when I told the state.  I also have my battle axe, two other axes, and about eight swords in the same spot."

"Wow," Yelina agreed. "If I ever have to protect myself because I'm falsely accused of something, I'm coming to you."

Xander burst out laughing.  "Like they could do that to you."  He hugged her.  "It's all right.  If you are, I'll protect you."  He let her go at the cough from the doorway.  "Hi, mom."

"Xander."  Horatio walked in.  "Danny, what was the bomb about?"

"One of our guys wanted Danny ta have a real shot at being seen as a good cop so he wanted ta scare Xander off," Don told him.   Horatio groaned at that.  "Mac about slapped the guy before he was arrested formally.  Stella did after he was arrested."  Danny grinned at that.  "We sent 'im because he said there were others with their own ideas. When's he getting out?"

"Tomorrow, it was a fairly small caliber weapon," Horatio told him.

"Popcap gun," Danny told him.

"It still coulda killed you, dumbass," Don retorted.  "Then who'd I talk to for fun?"  Danny smirked at that.  He looked at Horatio again.  "I take it we got him?"  Horatio nodded.  "Good.  The kid in any trouble?"

"No.  His actions were to protect the officers.  Xander, your father has already ordered the chief of police to leave you alone when he first called to check on the situation."

"So, no one died, he saved some lives, it's medal and commendation time?" Danny teased.

"Exactly," Horatio agreed, smirking at him.  "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, barely got past my shirt."  He lifted the sheet to show him the bandage.  "It only took a half hour to close.  Nothing too serious.  Was still in the fat."

Xander hugged him.  "If you ever get shot again, I'm going to yell and scream and spank you too," he whispered.  Danny grinned and hugged him.  "Good."  He stood back up, looking at Horatio.  "Let me guess, you're done checking on things," he said, noticing the look in his eyes.  "And you want to see my weapons."  Horatio nodded.  "Where's Dad?"

"At the house.  He said he didn't need to see them.  He'd seen most of them before.  He did want you to bring back the prettier sword for decoration."

"Sure, which one?"  He looked at Don.  "You can come if you want.  Or you, Yelina."

"No, I'll stay here and brighten up Danny's room while I take the statement."

Don shrugged.  "Since I don't get ta shoot anyone, hunt anyone down, or hold hands, I'm good with it."  He nodded at Danny.  "We'll be back with real food later."

"Thank you."  He grinned at Yelina.  "If they gave us nurses like you, we'd all wanna stay."

She blushed and swatted him.  "You're so bad."


Xander undid the last lock and opened the door, then turned on the overhead light, letting them inside. He closed the door behind them and walked over to open the various cabinets and the few sword cases.

"Jesus, kid, you weren't kidding, this is a collection," Don told him.

"The Watcher's Council sends over a standard set of weapons," he explained.  "Giles hates guns more than Speed does.  He only likes the archaic and the really useful, like crossbows.  Which I don't mind.  I love me a crossbow now and then.  But when Aiden bragged that I had shot a perfect card my second day he gave me the key to the storage spot with the weapons in it.  It became mine.  When I moved back here the second time, I had it moved down here with his help and he included a few more practical things, like the swords and my battle axe, which Buffy said was too masculine."  He shrugged and pulled out a sword to check it.  "Did he say anything besides pretty, Horatio?"

"No."  He moved forward to check one, noticing it was clean and well maintained.  "You really do clean them all every week."

"Yup.  I also check sharpness and things."  He put the sword back and looked at them.  "I can use everything in this room."

"What's behind the blockade of the cabinets?" Don asked.

"Um, stuff you probably shouldn't see," he realized.  "We had a few more...big things that couldn't be taken down that easily.  The rocket launcher got used in a mall on one.  Um, the LANS system was left back there.  So that means it's a flame thrower and probably the bomb making stuff.  I never looked.  Help me shift one," he offered.

"Bomb making?" Don asked.

"Don, high school, graduation," he noted dryly.  "The thing was a hundred foot long snake demon that was so thick it broke the doors when it dove inside the school.  How did you think we killed it?  And did you never wonder about that explosion?"  He closed one of the sword cases and climbed over it, shifting one of the cabinets out to look.  "Hmm, a claymore system.  I didn't even know Giles had one," he admitted.  "Interesting."  He looked out at the shocked silence.  "Yes, I'll hand it over," he said.  "I haven't trained on a claymore system.  I'd probably blow myself up."  He put it on top of the sword case and Don helped Horatio shift the cabinet fully out of the way so they could all get back there.

Horatio looked at the explosives, then at Xander.  "You know how to use these."

"Giles taught me," he agreed dryly.  "Then I found a few online manuals for SWAT teams.  So I can somewhat."  Horatio sighed and shook his head.  "Tim saw me building the one for the high school," he offered.  "Aiden helped me measure.  It was a no-other-way situation."  He shrugged.  "At least I know what I'm doing with it."  He looked in one small silver case.  "Garlic bombs.  Interesting."  He handed those over.  "Come on, I will gladly hand thee over, Horatio.  I didn't even realize he sent them."

"Thank you."  He went outside to call someone he knew to do this quietly since he couldn't get a signal inside.

"Any other skills you wanna mention?" Don teased.

"I got Horatio into leather."

Don grinned at him.  "You've got it so bad," he taunted.

"Yeah, pot, kettle," he said dryly.  Don looked horrified.  "I'm not saying anything.  Like it matters to me?  As long as you're both happy.  I like you two."  He grinned at him.  "We good?"  Don nodded, relaxing again before Horatio came back.  "We moving this to the hallway?"

"We have the rest listed, right?" Horatio prompted.

Xander looked around, then nodded slowly, then suddenly shook his head and pulled out three things and a rifle case.  "Not these.  Giles sent them the other day.  The Council sent an updated kit."

"Is that a sniper rifle?" Don asked, looking at it. "It is.  That's a nice one too."

"It is," Xander agreed, stroking over the handle. "I trained with the old one but it was a piece of crap.  The rifling was making go really wide."  He shrugged and closed that one, handing it to Horatio.  "I don't need it."  Horatio handed it back.  "Are you sure?"

"You will add those to the list," he ordered.

"Yes, sir."  He got the rest of the stuff out of the corner and helped haul it out, then checked the back of the cabinets and the hidden compartments, finding the fuse cord and the timers.  He found the old sniper rifle and handed it over.  "Please, get rid of that thing."  He checked the other's hidden compartments, staring at something.  "Really."   He pulled out something and bounced it in his hand.  "I wondered how Giles got through the bad days."  He walked out and put it on the top of the plastique, smiling at the officer standing there. "Did Horatio call you?"  That got a nod.  "Horatio?"  He came out.  "I guard and watch over this collection for a friend in California.  I took the list he gave me, and what I knew we had, with me when I went to register my license and stuff.  Horatio wanted to look and I found out he had sent some other stuff in that I hadn't noticed because it was behind the cabinets."  He let him see in there, and Don was messing with a sword.  "That is sharp enough to cut you in half.  Please be careful.  Mac would kill me if I let you kill yourself."  He looked at the guy.  "Both cabinets were facing this way originally.  Don Flack, that guy, noticed the space I hadn't."

"Okay, so this is what was back there?"  Xander nodded.  "Anything else not on that list?"

"I found a sniper rifle and I just found the drugs while searching the cabinets."

"Sure."  He came in to look around, finding another small baggie of something.  He sniffed it.  "Not pot."

Xander sniffed it.  "Tea.  He's a Brit.  Hence me looking after it for him," he said at the sideways look.  He shrugged.  "It got sent from the mother country by some of his friends. He's not a terrorist or anything but he's into paranormal research and so are they and they're all flakes, that's why *I'm* watching the weapons.  He kept the crossbows and the other swords."

"Okay then," he agreed, happy enough with that explanation.  "It's probably safer this way.  Who taught you how to use them?"

"One of my former coworkers," Don said, pulling out his badge "She's in Seattle now."

"She came to work in our town and we became buddies and I asked her to teach me because I like weapons," Xander told him.

The officer nodded, grinning at him. "You're Speed's kid, right?"  Xander nodded, grinning his most goofy grin at him.  "I heard you had a few knives."

Xander nodded and took the katana, giving it a few practice swings.  "Very well.  The same guy taught me this."

"Ooohkay," he decided.  "So he's a royal flake?  Thinks he's a knight?"

"VanHelsing, vampires," Don told him.

"Ah!  That sort of flake," he said, getting it.  "And the explosives?"

"Big snakes.  We're near the desert out there," Xander offered. "He used to mine their tunnels and things."

"Understood.  Then it's definitely safer.  You didn't realize the space?"

"The other's still where they both were," Xander told him, pointing at it.  "From the front, I couldn't.  They're taller than I am."

He stepped back to look.  "Yeah, I can't either.  Well, you won't be in trouble."  He looked at the case and he knew what it was. "May I?"

"You may, I just found that today and I was hoping to put it on the list. It's a beauty.  The other one has crappy rifling," he offered, opening it.  "She taught me on it and it always went wide and to the right."  The guy looked at the pieces, then nodded. "Can I add it to the list?"

"Sure.  I'm sure Horatio can have the ballistics reports done up by his people.  Anything else not on there?"  Xander waved the sword.  "No, those wouldn't be, but they're not illegal to have."  He looked at Horatio, who shrugged to say it was his call, he wasn't going to interfere.  "Okay, kid.  Truth.  What is he?"

Xander closed the door most of the way.  "You remember the blonde I got into it with?"  He nodded.  "He's her trainer.  She's the one who takes down the vampires.  His organization, who trains girls like her, sent this out in his supply kits.  The new stuff that just came this week, like that sniper rifle, was his updated kit."

"So, he's a Watcher?"  Xander nodded.  "You're from Sunnydale?"

Xander grinned. "I'm Harris.  The supposed tagalong?"

"Ah.  I'm married to a Watcher's sister," he complained.  "I've heard about Buffy."

"I'm sorry.  You should try being her friend."  That got a laugh.  "I seriously didn't know about the explosives or the drugs.  Rupert's just odd sometimes.  He did teach me how to use it but I don't wanna run that risk and I respect Horatio and his team.  I'd never do anything to upset him and that would."

"Sure.  We can do that.  So, you're pretty good."  Xander nodded.  "Who trained you with guns?"

"Aiden, Don's former coworker.  She came out to help the death rate be handled as a detective."

"Oh.  That's cool.  I can take that stuff.  We need to finish the hidden areas search.  Get that sniper rifle registered just in case it's taken out of here.  This is safe and good but even here things can happen and it's stolen and used, you'll be looked at first."

"I know, that's why I registered the ballistics stuff that Aiden did of the original set."  Something else thumped and Don jumped, making a squeaky nose.  He looked at it and snorted, opening the case.  "Uh-huh."  He handed it to Horatio.  "Magic stuff.  Willow's altar."  He looked at the amused looking cop.  "Willow's in deep shit magically," he admitted quietly.  "She's been using the darker arts and it's getting in over her head."

"Understood.  Okay let's lock this baby up and move this to my truck.  Horatio, go ahead and confiscate that sniper rifle to test it.  Just in case.  We had something stolen from an antique dealer last week from up the hall.  He had a mini-cannon stolen."

"Sure," Xander agreed, handing that to Horatio as well.

"Xander, you will carry one gun with bullets back to the house," Horatio ordered.

Xander nodded and loaded one, grabbing everything he'd need and putting them in his pockets.  Then they left, Xander coming back to get a few of the swords, which amused Don to no end.  "He said to bring the pretty one."

"He did," Don agreed, taking one to carry.  "Damn that's heavy."

"Yeah, but you get to used to the baby," he said with a grin. "I did."  They put those in the back of the hummer and he hopped in the back seat, waving at the bomb squad guy before they left.  "Thank you, Horatio."

"You're welcome, Xander.  You generally do the responsible thing.  Let me drop this off at the station and tell Calleigh where it came from."  They nodded. "Don, headed back to the hospital?"

"Sure.  I need the address of the new place."  Xander handed it over.  "Thanks, kid.  Order a good dinner tonight and I'll pick Danny up something on the way in."  That got a smile and they dropped Don and the rifle at the station, he could go in with someone.  Then they took the other stuff home while Horatio talked to Xander about what he wanted him to do to hide the gun and how they were going to start going to the range to work on Speed together.

Don walked the gun into Calleigh's lab, smiling at her.  "Giles sent another one to Xander and the bomb squad guy who came to get the explosives we found today suggested we get this tested and registered since another of the storage spaces there were broken into."

She blinked at him.  "He's got weapons?"  Don grinned and nodded.  "Na-uh!  Eric!"  He came jogging in.  "Xander has weapons?"  He held up a finger and went to get the list, bringing it back to her.  He grinned as he handed it over.  She looked and just stared for a moment.  "He has weapons," she said.  "Some not very good ones."

"Giles' bosses sent it in the survival supplies," Don said dryly.  "That came in the updated supply cabinet."

"Ah."  She nodded, opening the case and stroking it. "Oooh, this is pretty."

"It is," Don agreed, grinning at her.  "It's going on the list of stuff he's got."

"Sure."  She put it together, smiling at the easy movements as it clicked into place.  "This is new."  She took it to fire it, then brought it back and took it apart.  "I'll trust him to clean it."

"I'm sure he can," Don agreed.  "He also did what Speed ordered and brought back a few of the swords."

"Speed said the pretty one."

"They're all pretty," Don assured him. "He brought home six and an axe.  That way he has a choice."

Eric chuckled and shook his head.  "If we say so."

She looked at the bullet under the scope.  "Do they buy used?"

"I don't know," he admitted.  "Why?"

"Because this is coming up with a match," she said, opening that case.  "Random bullet found in an exploded building in England.  That could be their testing grounds.  Speed," she called.  He came walked in.  "What's Giles' number?"  He wrote it down.  "Thanks.  That new sniper rifle has an odd match."

"Used?" he asked.  Then he shook his head.  "Sniper rifle?"  She pointed and he rolled his eyes.  "Only Giles and the Watchers," he muttered.

"Hi, Mr. Giles, you don't know me, but I'm Calleigh Dusquene in Miami, and Xander just had to register one of his weapons that you recently sent.  No, a sniper rifle in a case.  It came up with a match to a bullet found in an abandoned building in England.  No, Priory Road.  Yeah, there."  She listened.  "Really?  Then how did he get it?"  She nodded at that, making notes.  "Thank you.  No, I will but he won't mind, much.  Thanks."  She listened, then looked at Don.  "Did he get magic stuff?"  Don nodded.  "Yeah, he did."

"Horatio has it."

"It's in safe custody."  She smiled. "You're welcome."  She hung up and looked up another number.  "Hi, Scotland Yard, no, this is CSI Dusquene in Miami, Florida, in the US, and we just had a guy who watches over a gun collection that turned in one for ballistics testing to be listed on his list and it matched with a case of yours."  She smiled.  "That'd be great, thank you."  She was on hold for a second.  "Hi, yes, this is she.  No, it came up with a match to a bullet found eight years ago on Priory Road.  It says case 5165-247B.  Yeah, yeah, that's the name.  No, a sniper rifle in a case.  He watches over the collection of a person who's not all there and some of his friends aren't all there either, so we have him watching over it for the friend, and the owner of the collection somehow sent this one to him so he was turning it in for testing so he could add it onto the list he filed with us.  No, but he did it just in case because it's in storage at the moment.  Not a huge one but the person he lives with doesn't like guns.  So anyway he turned it in," she said, ignoring Speed's hurt look, "and I matched it, but I'm not sure if you guys want the gun or not.  If not, I'll go ahead and fill it out on this end and let you guys handle the paperwork."  Horatio came in, looking amused.  He still had some paperwork to do so he had dropped Xander and come back after their discussion.

"Hold on."  She put him on hold.  "It matched a case at Scotland Yard but it's from a stray bullet found in an abandoned building so I'm seeing what they want to do."  She clicked back to him.  "Sorry about that."  She hit the button again and smiled. "Sorry about that, my boss just came in.  No, the collection's owner is Rupert Giles.  He's an ex-patriot who's in California at the moment."  She raised an eyebrow and nodded.  "Yeah, he's one'a them too.  No, one of his helpers handles the guns since he doesn't like 'em so he's registered them with us.  Yeah, so I need to know if you want it or not."  She smiled.  "Thank you."  She hung up.  "They've dealt with the Council before," she noted dryly. "That's a quote.  He understood, it's Xander's.  It was probably used as a firing range but I can't be sure.  He can't be sure because they're, as he put it, secretive bastards that're worse than the IRA at having secret cells that can pop up to bollix things up."  She smiled sweetly.  "He said to keep any and all weapons away from them and if the boy got away from the Watchers, more power to him and to let him keep whatever he took with him when he left."

Horatio snickered at that.  "It confirms what we already knew. Go ahead and file it.  We'll put it back this weekend."  He looked at Speed.  "He's at home hanging swords."

"I said the pretty *one*," he complained.

"He said they're all pretty so you can make a choice," Don offered with a smile.  "You sure you want us there?"

"Yeah, I'm sure.  The kid needs someone to pick on."  He walked out shaking his head.  He'd go home and undecorate later if it was too much.


Horatio looked up as Xander walked into his office, taking the bag he handed him.  "Bad day at classes?"  It had been a few weeks since everything had been cleared up and went back to normal.

"Yeah, I suck at geology under the new teacher."  He shook his head.  "The psych teacher isn't a happy camper with me either since I don't believe in a superior race of beings among the human."  He sat down, looking at him.  "Are you sure I can't quit?"

"I'm sure," he agreed patiently. "They're not all like that."


"I do."

"Then I won't have another teacher who hits on me?"

"No," he said, sipping his water. "Who hit on you?"

"The orientation teacher."  He grimaced.  "I told her I was leaning more toward men at the moment but that she was very nice."  He shrugged.  "She waited until the class was mostly done to ask me out but I wasn't going to date her."  He shuddered.  "Eww."

"I understand."  He smiled at him.  "Eric is trying to get all of us to go out together again tomorrow night.  Would you like to go?"

"I could stand that," Xander agreed happily.  "I could use a stress break.  Before I scream at the nazi."  That got a smile.  "Should I worry about your clothes for you?"

He shook his head.  "I'll wear something that you got me."

"Sure."  He grinned.  "Where are we going so I know how to dress?"

"Not a clue and he's on a scene."

"Damn."  He shrugged. "Okay.  Have him give me an idea if it's a jeans and t-shirt night or a leather and t-shirt night, or something else."  That got a smile.  "I need someone to sign off on my midterms since I'm a freshman and you've been keeping dad busy."

"Good point."  He held out a hand and they were taken, letting him look at the comments.  He looked at Xander.  "Impossible to teach?"

"He's a fucking moron.  I correct him about earthquakes.  I lived with them.  You can so feel a three-point-oh tremor, it's just really weak.  You don't notice them after a while, but you can feel them."

Horatio nodded and went down the list.  "I see your psychology teacher really doesn't like you."

"She's a nazi.  I'm not a blond."  That got another half-smirk.  "Please."

"Should I forge his?"

"If you want.  Or just yours.  I don't care and I doubt the orientation teacher will but I get out of that class after another week."  Horatio picked up his pen and signed his own name.  "Thank you."  He took it back and tucked it back into his backpack.  "What's been keeping him here all hours?"

"Calleigh," he said dryly, opening the bag to find lunch, but handing over the chewed-on apple.  "Finish that."  Xander blushed and finished his own lunch.  He looked over the boy.  "You quit working out?"

"No, I changed it to add more swimming and my waist is compensating by retaining water for the last week."  He ate another bite, looking back at the coo.  "Midterms."

"Speed's just come in," Calleigh assured him. "Speed, Xander's here with his midterms."

"How bad are they?"

"Guess," she said, noticing the look on their faces.

He came in and Xander handed them over, then snorted and patted him on the back.  "Decent grades, crappy remarks. I can accept that."  He handed it back.  "I don't like your psych teacher anyway.  She's a nazi.  Anything else happen today?"

"The orientation teacher asked me out.  I turned her down."  He ate another bite.

"Good idea," Speed agreed, smiling at him. "Were you polite?"

"I pointed out I was leaning more toward men.  I told her I wouldn't mind otherwise because she was nice and all but that I was really looking for a boyfriend."

"Hopefully she won't tank your grades," Speed said happily enough.  "What's with the new geology teacher?"

"I corrected him on how you can feel a level three earthquake."  He ate another bite and grimaced, tossing the rest of it in the trash can. "Sorry, bruised."

"That's fine. You need to drink more water and figure out why you're retaining again."

"Swimming. They've got some odd chemical mix in the pool."

"Are we talking fish people odd chemicals?"

"No.  Other odd ones.  This started after I swam the other night."  He looked at his stomach, then up at him.  "You'd better hope it's not a chemistry experiment gone wrong and I'm pregnant."

"If it is, I'll only laugh until you go into labor," he assured him.  "Then I'll yell afterwards."  Horatio choked and he looked at him.  "I'd have the right to yell if he were pregnant."  Yelina stopped and backed up to look at him.  "He went swimming the other night and now he's retaining water around his stomach and thighs."

"Xander, take a day's worth of midol, it should cure that."  She walked off shaking her head, thinking about the thought of Xander's future kids.  It would be enough to scare her son off ever having any.

"Not a bad idea.  I'll stop and get some on the way home," he decided, getting up.  "Well, that's the happy news of the day.  I'm nearly out of orientation.  Midterms have come and went, I still suck at writing papers and the nazi hates me."  He shrugged.  "Horatio promised it'd be better."  He looked at Speed, then glanced at Calleigh, then back at his guardian.  "Should I bother with dinner tonight?"

Speed blushed.  "Um, yeah, we're dating, and no, I'll be home tonight but so will she.  We were going to tell you tonight anyway."

"Sure, like I mind.  Do I need to move?"

"You move out and I'm going to hunt you down and spank you myself.  Unless you move in with Horatio," she offered, smirking at them.  "Where are we going tomorrow night?"

"Eric hasn't said," Speed said grimly. "I'm not sure how slutty I should let Xander dress."  Xander whispered in his ear and he looked at him. "You do that, you stay with one of us all night, kid.  I mean it.  There will be no way you're getting out of our sight if you wear that outfit."  He cuffed him on the head.  "Plus Horatio may have to go armed.  Or Calleigh."

She shrugged. "I usually am."

"No, not the bra derringer armed, really armed.  Like Xander armed."  She beamed at that.  "I'll have him show you later."  He looked at Xander, who had danced off.  He looked at his boss once Calleigh had gone.  "If you're going to make your move and he wears that outfit, we won't wait up."  He walked out shaking his head.  His son was such a slut some days.  Especially in that outfit.


Horatio showed up at Speed's since they were taking a cab tonight.  He smiled at Calleigh's little dress.  "You look cute.  Am I underdressed?" he asked as he walked in wearing decently tight pants, but not the leathers he had been planning on since Eric said they were going more upscale than that.

"No, you look good," she assured him, looking over his outfit.  "You look very good.  Xander?"  He poked his head out of his room.  "Tell Speed to hurry up and dress you."

"We're trying."  He disappeared, then came back.  "Hi, Horatio."  He grinned then ducked back in.  "Why is Eric taking us upscale?"

"So he gets the less scummy pretty women."  He looked at all the clothes, then sighed and shook his head.  "Nothing here's really upscale. You don't usually do upscale."  Someone knocked.  "It's open and he's at least partially covered."  Horatio walked in and looked at Xander, coughing a bit.  Xander grinned at him and Speed pointed at the closet.  "He doesn't really do upscale."

"I've noticed. Are you wearing that?"

"No, but I've got to go change.  Here, you help him."  He escaped, he could feel the tension in the room coming off the older man.

Horatio closed the door and came over to look, glancing at Xander, who was fairly unconcerned in his briefs.  "No thong tonight?"

"Eric said upscale and he told me to wear real underwear," he said dryly.  "Of course I had to go buy some.  Or steal some but Speed wouldn't let me."  Someone rang the doorbell.  "That's probably Eric and he's going to complain too."  Horatio smiled at that.  Someone knocked.  "I'm getting there."

Eric stuck his head in, showing his black eye.  "Didn't you buy real clothes?"

"Where would I wear dress pants?" he countered.  "I bought real Xander clothes."  Horatio laughed at that and pulled out the suit, handing him the pants.  "Are you sure?"

"I'm sure.  Put on that and the button up purple shirt."  Xander nodded and did that, then slid on a pair of black socks and shoes.  He watched him fuss with his hair and smiled, he liked it spiked up like that. Then he followed him out.  The pants hinted instead of being so blatant as to show what was going on under them.  It was a nice show from where he was walking.  Speed came out and Calleigh whistled, fussing with his collar for him.  "Are we ready?"  Everyone nodded.  "Then someone call a cab."  Eric called and they went down to wait. When they finally got to the party, because it was a party, the couples split up.  Horatio noticed Xander's unease and leaned closer.  "What's wrong?" he asked quietly.

"Clients, lots and lots of clients."  He looked at him.  "Can we go now?"

"He'll be upset."

"He'll be even more upset.  Shit."  He smiled at the woman walking up to them.  "Good evening. My name is Xander, yours?" he asked in his best polite manner.

"I know, dear.  Why are you here?"

"A friend drug me," he admitted with a shy grin.  "Since I'm going for my degree, he thought I should mix and mingle a bit to be around people who talk to me."

"Ah."  She nodded. "I understand."  She stroked his cheek.  "You always were so polite."  She smiled at Horatio, then back at Xander.  "Through the kitchen and down the stairs, that leads to the beach," she said quietly.  "Because Emery and Taylor are both here, dear."  He winced.  "Through the kitchen and down the back stairs."  He nodded and kissed her hand, then slid off using every skill he had.  She smiled at Horatio.  "You're the friend?"

"No, ma'am, one of my officers is.  He brought both of us."

"Ah.  Eric.  He should've known better.  I'll have a discreet word with him.  Go down the balcony stairs, dear.  You'll meet at about the same place but you can walk past the fighting women who wanted to keep him as their toy."  He nodded and smiled, heading that way while she went to find her own toy.  "Eric, lovely to see you again," she cooed, kissing him on the cheek.  "You brought Darkness to where two women want to keep him as their sex toy, my little toy.  I helped him escape your blunder."

"Shit, I forgot," he murmured.  "H?"

"Oh, was that him?  He seemed so charming.  I think he went down to the beach for a bit."  He smiled and kissed her on the forehead.  "You be a good boy. Did you bring anyone else?"
"I did.  I brought two of my coworkers," he said, nodding at his conversation partner and walking her that way.  "Timothy Speedle and Calleigh Dusquene, this is Erma Wormth.  The hostess this evening."

"This is a beautiful home," Calleigh said with a smile, "and I love the beach view you've got."  She smiled.  "Thank you," she mouthed.

Tim shook her hand.  "Nice to meet you, ma'am."

"Such polite young people. That's always so pleasant.  You have a good evening, dears.  Eric, may I have a dance later?"

"Of course," he agreed, smiling at her.

Tim waited until she was gone to nudge him and look at him.  "She's not your usual type of friend, she seems nice."

"I've known Erma for a few years now.  She is very nice."  He moved closer.  "I didn't realize a few of his clients would be here, especially not the ones who got into open society cat fights over keeping him," he whispered.

Tim laughed and punched him on the arm.  "It's okay.  We've run into a few of those.  I'm sure they'll be fine."

Calleigh sipped her wine.  "They should be."


Xander found Horatio waiting on him and nodded at the front of the house, slipping that way past most of the people and out to the main street, walking with him. "That was close.  Emery and Taylor got into it at a gallery opening about a month after I started dancing down here about who would get to offer me boytoy status and what I could expect from their generous attentions."

Horatio smiled and shook his head.  "Did either one?"

"Not after I heard they were both married and I made it very well known that I don't date married women with my next two days of sets.  I don't think Emery saw me dance until then and I think Taylor may've seen me in Montreal.  I've turned down a few of those offers politely."  He looked at his buddy.  "So, where should we go now?"

"Wherever you want."

"I'm open. You got a good place?"

"Walk on the beach?"

"I like the beach, I always have," Xander admitted, smiling at him.  They headed for a nearby beach to walk and listen and experience the nighttime ocean. It was quiet for a while and then Xander sighed.  "I like this.  Why would I want to leave this?"

"Why would you?" Horatio asked.

"College stuff.  I talked to someone about the profiling thing and they said they couldn't teach me more than experimental design and counseling anywhere in the state."

"So take the counseling and then take the special courses the FBI offers one summer," he suggested calmly.  "I know Speed doesn't want you to leave."

"Yeah, but he won't go insane this time. He's got Calleigh, and I'm not sure there's a Masters program in the city for that.  If I can even get that far."

"Xander, what is the one thing you learned from your former life in Sunnydale?" he asked quietly.

"Don't make long term plans, you won't be around to see them," he said automatically.  He heard the footsteps beside him stop and turned to look at him.  "It's true and I know I shouldn't worry about the future, but since I now have one...."  Horatio pulled him closer and kissed him.  He pulled back to smile at him.  "Thank you.  Couldn't wait?"

"Not now."  He kissed him again, then let him go. He walked beside him for a bit longer, feeling the hand take his and smiling.  "You know I'm nearly twice your age."

"I did, not that I care.  With the way I attract trouble, I'll probably die first anyway."

"Don't...say that," he sighed.  "Please."

"Sorry."  He gave the hand he was holding a squeeze. "So now what?  Dating?"

"Dating is nice," he agreed.  "I haven't been on one in a while."

"Me either.  My last one was the prom I think."  That got a smile.  "I'm not real sure how to act on one."  Horatio gave him one of those smiles again and he grinned back. "I'm guessing you can teach me that too."

"That and how to clean your room.  Did you throw all those clothes around tonight?"  Xander nodded.  "Want to go change?"

"And do what?"

"I don't know, go to somewhere else?"

"Sure. I have an outfit you haven't seen yet."

"Really?" he asked, shifting closer.  "Are we talking...stage clothes?"

"Something I never got to use on stage.  Way too hard to get off gracefully."  That got another grin.  "Easy enough to get off, just not gracefully."  He led the way back to the street, letting the hand go when he flagged down a cab. Horatio took it back. "Are you sure?"

"I'm too old to hide."

"Okay.  But I get to beat up any of the assholes that you work with who try something."

"If the scary women I work with don't get there first," he agreed, letting him get in first, then climbing in.  He looked at Xander's back pocket.  "Where's your wallet?"

"Crap," he said, patting himself down.  "Hopefully either in my room or in the other cab.  Can you get this one and I'll pay you back at home?"

"Sure."  He gave the cabby the address and got a nod, and they went.  He followed Xander up the stairs and into his apartment, finding the wallet on the floor.  "We need to make sure this won't fall out again," he said, looking inside.  "You've been taking money out?"

"No, that's still from my last paycheck," he admitted.  He leaned out and grinned.  "Stay there, baby.  I'll be right out."  Horatio sat down in the recliner and the wallet went on the table in front of him.  Xander came out three minutes later in some pants that were just...velvet stretch straps. They wrapped around his groin solidly, but then wove their way down his legs in some semi-braided pattern.  He moaned at the sight of them and the black tanktop over it, shifting his hips out some.  "How do you get out of those?"  Xander undid the opening and then wiggled.  "Belly dancing," he said fondly.  He pulled him closer to kiss him again. "Are those the ones she'd have to go armed if you wore?"  He grinned and shook his head.  "They should be."

"I never wore these outside.  He doesn't know I have'em."  He sat in the lap and stole a kiss, smiling at him.  "You wanna see that one?"

"I wouldn't mind."

"You don't have a weak heart, right?"  He shook his head. "Okay."  He slid off the lap, the velvet trying to grab onto the fabric of his pants and he winked back.  "We'll see which ones you like better.  Thankfully I didn't put on the arm bands or the wrist bands."  He disappeared into his room, coming back about five minutes later wearing a pair of stretchy denim pants in black, and a button down shirt, also in the same black denim. You could see that it clung to his muscles on his arms and pecs and the way the pants clung made Horatio drool.  He turned and moved a bit and the clinging got worse.  It made him look less dangerous somehow, not quite fragile or delicate, but as near as you could come with a guy of Xander's build.

"She can go armed for this one, I'll go armed for the other one," he offered, pulling him closer. This time Xander straddled his hips and sat down, earning a smile and a longer kiss. You could tell he had no practical experience with a man but it was still good.  Tim's words to him about Xander's abilities came back and he smiled.  It was a good forecast.  "Did you want to go further tonight?"

"I'm ready whenever you are," he replied softly.  He stole another kiss and nodded him at the bedroom.  "I cleaned up."

That got a smile and Horatio followed him, leaning against the door as the boy stretched out on the bed.  He moved closer, watching the buttons be slipped open, noticing the shy look.  "You can do it," he promised.  "Or I can for you."  Xander raised his arms above his head, letting him have the full field to do whatever he wanted.  He laid down beside him, starting gently, teasing kisses and slow nibbles of his lips and chin, then down his throat. That got him a shiver so he nipped that spot harder, getting a true moan.  The phone rang. "If that's Speed, he'll get worried if you don't answer."

Xander answered it with an, "It had better be an emergency."  He squeezed his eyes shut.  "Willow, not a good time," he groaned, arching up at one hard nip.  "No, like really not a good time.  Willow, boyfriend, kissing, not a good time."  He frowned.  "Eww.  I don't want the image of a Buffybot in my head.  Tomorrow.  I promise, tomorrow.  Unless it's attacking, tomorrow."  He hung up, then pulled him up to kiss him.  "Bad, scary mental places," he offered with a grin.

"Yes, that was," he agreed, taking another kiss.  Xander was still pliant beneath him so he got back to his teasing and playing, making him wiggle in ways he hadn't seen since he'd last seen him dance.  "You only dance for me, understood?" he whispered.  "No more working special nights at the club or special events.  Only me."

"Only you can be teased," he agreed, smiling and stealing a kiss.  "I don't mind possessive.  I consider it protective most of the time."

"That's good."  He stole another kiss, then got down to make the boy really moan and give in, to let himself be taken and loved properly.  "Take them off."  Xander wiggled out of the clothes and tossed them aside then got to work on his clothes for him. "Good boy."

"Should I bark?"

"Only if I spank you."  He moved down to tease the chest, making him yelp.  "Close enough for me."  He did it again and moved to tease a nipple. Xander tried to press his head down but he got free and put them down beside him.  "Don't do that or I'm going to introduce handcuffs much too early."  That got a loud, deep moan and the cock twitched where it was laying.  "You like being tied down?"

"I had this great fantasy the other night where you took the stretchy bands from that outfit and used them to tie my hands so I couldn't stop you from teasing me."  He closed his eyes and bit his lip.  "Horatio, please," he moaned.  "I don't have your control yet."

"If you have to come, go ahead.  You'll have another one later."  He stroked the smooth cheek. "I like normal sex."

"So do I but it came to me after reading that section of the book."

"Ah.  How far have you gotten?"

"Halfway."  He looked at him.  "I have to keep stopping."  That got a smile.  "Sometimes it takes me days to get through a single page of reading, sometimes it takes most of a chapter to make me blow.  I'm impressed it's not a sticky book since they've got a redheaded model."  That another smile and a kiss.  Then suddenly a finger was teasing him and it had been too long so he came.  Horatio chuckled in his ear and moved down to go back to what he had been doing, driving him insane. He was lost in this haze of touch and teasing tastes and the scent of his lover, which was almost enough for him to flip him over to get to work on him.  "I'm doing this to you in the morning," he moaned. "All day if I have to."

"That's fine.  Tonight let me do this, Xander.  Just enjoy it."  He went back to his playing, liking the reaction he was getting.  It wasn't often he had a lover who'd just lay there and take it so he could make them fly into orgasms, but Xander would and then he'd probably die tomorrow when the boy returned the favor.  When he came to it, he licked up the spilled fluids, tasting him.  It was dark, musty, but it had higher tones as well.  Like the lust he was putting out.  It was like he could smell it and sense it at the same time.  So when he made it to the hard cock, he got his first real taste and the boy nearly went nuts at that gentle, cleaning lick he had taken across the head.  He shifted backward, getting into a better position to tease and play in that area, and that's when he saw the small silver ring.  He looked at him.  "Buried treasure?" he asked softly.

"It hurt like hell but it's worth it," he assured him.  He bucked and squealed when ring was touched, trying to clamp his tights shut but the body in the way wouldn't let him.  He let out a pained moan as a gentle, sucking kiss was used on it.  "New.  Very new."

"How new, Xander?" he asked, teasing the area around it.

"Four days."

"Then I'll be very gentle."  He got back to work teasing it, watching as the cock started to leak, then he switched back to teasing it.  He came up for a kiss.  "Supplies?" he whispered.  Xander pointed a shaky hand and he smiled, moving to look.  There was more than enough in there, and a few types too.  He found what he wanted and went back to playing the taut body like a baby grand piano.  The high and the low moans just rang out and echoed around the room.  He went back to teasing the ring, using a slicked up finger to enter the panting, wiggling body.  Xander shouted and came at that.  "Sensitive there?"

"Yes!  More, please!" he pleaded, pushing back. "Now!"

"Gently, Xander.  Slowly and gently this time.  Faster is a later skill."  He teased the ring while he stretched him, and the boy's body was vibrating and wiggling above him.  He was like a bowl of jello in an earthquake.  He finally got him where he wanted him and prepared himself, then moved up.  "Deep breath," he ordered quietly.  Xander tried and he smiled, pushing in at the gasp.  He inched in, slowly, carefully, and Xander just bucked up and tried for more.  Yes, Speed had been right about this one being a good bottom slut.  He finally hit the full depth and rested but Xander forced him over onto his back so he could take over, taking control, taking what he needed and using everything he could to get there.  All Horatio could do was hold on for dear life.  All that bouncy energy had come back and now he realized where it was all going to be focused for the rest of his life.  He waited until Xander was close, then pulled him off and put him back onto his back, kissing him gently, stroking his stomach, but not going back in, making him calm down.  Xander pressed up into his hand, arching and pleading, making begging noises and whimpering for more.  "Trust me," he reminded him. "I'm not going to leave you."

"Please," he begged.

Horatio let himself be swayed this time and went back to what he had been doing, he was still too close and the boy was going to have a stroke if he didn't finish him soon.  It didn't take very long, just a few gently moving thrusts and Xander came, the squeezing making him shoot off as well.  He leaned down, resting his forehead against the sweaty shoulder.  Xander lifted his chin and stole a kiss, staring into his eyes.  "You're going to kill me in bed one of these days," he offered with a tired smile.

"Nope.  You'll die of old age on the beach.  Unless the paperwork monster gets you at your desk one day," he offered tiredly.  He pulled his lover down, cuddling him, just soaking up his presence.

"We should shower."

"We should, but I don't mind sleeping sweaty.  Not the first time."  Horatio laughed at that and he snuggled in under his chin, allowing himself to be held and pampered this time.  "After breakfast, you're mine."

"If that's what you want," he agreed, stroking the loose muscles in the back. He got a hum and then a soft snore.  "That's a good idea," he admitted, falling asleep surrounded by octopus Xander. He really did like to cuddle.


Horatio woke up to a tongue going across his knee and realized where he was when he smelled smoke.  "You cooked?" he asked.

"Yeah, and dad's not happy with me.  Oh well. You slept through fire alarm.  He finished breakfast for you."  He gave him a sheepish grin and pointed.  "You can eat while I play."

"I'll eat after you play.  That way I don't choke."  Xander nodded and went back to his teasing, making him grip the sheets when the boy found the one sensitive and ticklish spot on the inside of his thigh.  Then he tortured it with teasing licks and nips before finally giving it up and moving on.  He found another high spot on his hip and used it for a while then kept going.  His stomach, his chest, his ear, the spot behind his ear.  Finally a kiss and that he could let go of the bed for.  Xander pulled back finally and he felt like he was drugged, his head was swimming.  He got another one and it cleared up some but not enough.  Then the mouth moved back down his other side and more spots were found.  Another brain altering kiss and his nipples were found and teased, the hair around them gently yanked and combed through, almost like he was being kneaded.  Then Xander went down to try something he had only read about, sucking him off.  Oh, that mouth had such promise.  Slow, long licks up and down, covering every inch of him, tasting everything, then little kitten licks across the head and around the base.  A sucking kiss in the same spot as that new earring and he understood how good it felt now. Then the mouth slowly, ever so slowly, sank down over him.  A hand came up to tease what wasn't engulfed in that warm, soft spot.  Slowly going down, further and further, until the hand got in the way.  Then a swallow, and he was sucked down all the way.

Horatio arched up, trying not to hurt him but he felt the chuckle and had to watch.  Xander pulled back and went down ever so slowly again, one fingernail gently scratching that sensitive spot on his inner thigh.  The other hand now free to tease the spots on his hips or his nipples, whichever it could reach.  He guided that hand to one nipple and arched his back at the playing going on.  Then Xander came up again.  He silently thanked God for swimmer's breath control.  He had to be lightheaded with how he was doing that.  "Swallow," he moaned when the head went back down.  "Play with it."  He got the point and with that bit of instruction his eyes rolled back in his head and Xander's attentions were now firmly on his body.  He felt the wiggle going on in the legs and tried to move.  "Let me touch you?"

"No," he said when he pulled back off.  "This is my turn."

He blew across the wet head, making him ache with need.  Then he went down to play with the balls, making them come back down to be played with and suckled.  It was so good.  "Xander," Horatio ordered.  "Please."

"Soon."  He got back to work teasing him, finding every single spot he could on Horatio's front that got any sort of a response, mapping it all.  Then he flipped him over and went to work on the nape of his neck, making him moan and rub against the sheets.  "If you get off anywhere it has to be in me," he whispered.  He found a few more spots, kissing and licking the scratches he had inflicted last night, finding a good spot to suck a possessive mark on the flat buttcheek.  He sucked the identical one on the other side and then looked at the hole in between.  "Am I ready for this?"

"No," he whimpered.  "Can't, not much more," he complained.

Xander slid up the warm back and bit him on the nape of the neck.  "It's a good thing I put a condom on you and I'm ready then, huh?" he whispered, teasing the ear he was talking into.  Horatio moved and pinned him under him, taking him in that position, riding him hard, fast, burying his need in his ass until all that happened was an explosion and Xander followed for him, crying out his name loudly.  He didn't care who knew, he was his.  He leaned down and bit the trembling shoulder.  "Yours," Xander agreed weakly.

"Mine," Horatio agreed.  "You only wear the slutty clothes for me."  He flopped back down once Xander's body had pushed him out, pulling him down to let him rest on his chest.  "How much did I sleep through?"

"I found a great spot on your ankle that made your cock twitch and dance," he said with a tired smile.  He yawned.  "I'll show you when we get up again."  He closed his eyes.  "Told you I'd get you back."

"You did, Xander.  Very well."  That earned him a sleepy smile and the boy fell asleep on top of him.  Horatio thought about the food next to him, but he was too tired to eat.  It wasn't a good thing to only be up for forty-eight minutes and need a nap but with Xander in his bed, it was worth it.  He let himself drift off as well, clutching his new boy to him.


Horatio woke up and there were now two plates next to his head, the second one had quesadillas and french fries.  On the other nightstand he could see two glasses of soda and the bottle of pain reliever, plus a muscle rub.  Someone was being thoughtful and making a point. He nudged Xander, who blinked up at him then smiled brightly.  "I think it's time we ate."

"Eating good."  He sat up with a moan and looked at the plates, pulling them both over.  He stole half of everything and loaded the other plate full, giving it to his lover.  "Eat, you'll need your strength to show me what some things I couldn't imagine were."  Horatio blushed at that.  "Not the super kinky stuff.  I'll probably stop at blindfolds and being tied down most of the time."  He winked.  "Some day."  He dug in, eating quickly, and leaning over every now and then to lick his lips for him.

Horatio had never had a more clingy lover but it was fun.  He finally got done with his brunch and took two of the pain killers for his poor back.  Xander saw the wince and flipped him over, carefully giving him a backrub, inch by inch releasing the tension and the stiffness from earlier. "If you keep that up, I'm going to need a third nap."

"If that's what you need," Xander promised, grinning brightly. He heard the moan and got back to it, but Horatio turned over underneath him and started to tease him, making him shiver and grip his shoulders like they were the only solid thing in the world.  "I promise not to be this bad in a few days," he panted.  "I won't."

"That's fine.  You can be clingy the first few days.  I am."  He got him off and Xander smiled sleepily at him, leaning down to kiss him and clean up the mess he had made.  Then he got another deep, tongue sucking kiss that made his week.  "Is it still Saturday?"  Xander nodded, stealing another kiss before snuggling in beside him.  "We should shower and change the bed."

"We probably should," he agreed.  "Share or separate?"

"Share," he allowed, getting up with a moan from his poor, abused body.  Not that he wasn't hard and ready to pounce Xander in the shower.  His poor baby had other ideas though, giving him a fast, exquisite blow job while the water warmed up.  Just enough to take the edge off but not to leave him limp and needing a fourth nap.  They got cleaned up, helping each other with that so they could touch and stroke all they wanted to.  Horatio finally made them quit playing in the water before he turned Xander around and had him against the wall for his teasing.  He made him get out and dry off, then allowed him to help him dry off, and then back into the bedroom.  "Put on the velvet stretchcord pants," he ordered in a purr.  He got the bed stripped while Xander put them and a t-shirt on, then Xander found clean sheets and put them on while he found something to wear.  Xander's looser clothes fit him well enough and a pair of jeans were found for him and a t-shirt was good enough for today.  He also stole a pair of socks because the wood floors were cold somehow.  It was Miami, nothing was cold but these floors.  He walked out, Xander holding his hand.

Calleigh looked over.  "You're louder than everyone we know, Xander.  Especially when you wake us up by cooking."  She got a good look at his outfit and her eyes bulged, making her grip Speed's thigh with her nails.  He yelped and pried them off, then caught sight of it himself when his son curled up against Horatio's side. "You don't plan on going out today, right?"

"I didn't make any plans for today," Horatio noted.  "I'm sorry he woke you."  He stroked through the damp hair, getting a tired sounding purr.

"She drowned out the noise the old-fashioned way," Speed assured him.  "Music and sex."  She swatted him and he grinned.  "You did, thank you for letting me wake up for lunch."  Xander giggled at that. "You will keep my boy happy, Horatio, or I'm siccing Alexx and Yelina on you.  You know that, right?  And then I'll give him to Don Flack?"  Horatio let out a small growl at that so he smirked.  "Then you're going to keep my boy happy, right?"

"Very.  He'll be very happy,"

"Then I got no problem unless I walk in and see it on the couch."  Calleigh swatted at him again.  "I don't.  They can be as noisy as they want.  He can come over whenever he wants,  or Xander can go over there, and they can do whatever they want as long as it isn't a snuff act and my boy stays happy."  He pulled her down to kiss her.  "The same as your father would tell me when you tell him."  She nodded and curled up against his side.  The two older men shared a content smirk with each other.  "You look good in my t-shirt, H."

"I stole it legitimately," Xander reminded him, stroking Horatio's stomach.  "Thanks, dad."

"Not an issue.  Do I have the same blessing?"

"Sure, but if there's babies I get to help pick the name and babysit occasionally."

"There had better not be for quite a while," Calleigh assured him. "Or else he'll be one fixed puppy dog."

"And then you'll send him to Don Flack?" Horatio teased.  She blushed and nodded.  "I wonder if he knows we're thinking this way about him."

"Probably not," Xander assured him.  "If you tell him, he'll splutter all over Danny and Stella."

"So you tell Aiden so she'll tell him," Speed agreed, and those two shared a smirk.  "Anything good happen besides sex?"

"I heard from Willow.  Someone made a Buffy sex robot."

Speed paused then kissed Calleigh to get that image out of his head.

"That's about what he did," Horatio agreed.  "He said unless it was attacking she could call back today."  He looked at the pants, then at the other couple.  "He showed them off last night."

"I'm not sure how he gets into them," she complained.  "But they make him look nice."  Horatio undid the first snap and she blushed.  "Okay then.  I don't wanna watch you two either and I'm guessing the same applies for us?"  Horatio nodded.  "Good deal.  Anywhere off limits at work, boss, besides the labs?"

"Back archival room, they just put cameras in there thanks to Eric and his DNA lady," Speed said dryly.  "Some day he's only going to have one woman and then he'll have to keep her very happy."

"I'll give him tips," Xander said smugly.

"He's a horrible tease," Horatio sighed, shaking his head and looking down at him.

"Yeah, but you enjoyed it, the same as I did when you did it to me."

"Yes I did," he agreed happily, stealing a kiss.  Xander moaned and arched up for a second one so he let him, then stroked through his hair.  "I still need some recovery time, Xander.  Even you do."

"I'm ignoring it.  It'll be there when I'm ready."

"Old guys take longer, Xander.  It gives you more time for foreplay," Calleigh assured him with a bright grin.  "Right, Speed?"

"I'm going to get you for that later.  Remember, I still carry handcuffs too."  He watched as Xander got up and went into his room, coming out with something and handing them over.  He held up the cuff with the stretchcord attached.  "What's this?  Or shouldn't I ask?"

"The arm and wrists cuffs from this outfit.  Since I realized I don't have a headboard to use them with."

Horatio considered it then nodded.  "Neither do I.  I have a solid one."  He looked down at him.  "We'll figure that out when you're ready to try that."  That got a bright grin and a sucking kiss, plus a tongue moving down his throat.  "Not in public, Xander."

"Sorry."  He went back to being curled against his side.  "I haven't felt like this before."

"Sore?" Speed suggested. "Open?  Like a tunnel?"

"Sore yes, open a bit, but tunnel?  Not at the moment.  That's later."  He grinned at him. "He was very gentle, Speed."

"Good.  I don't wanna know if he isn't unless he hurts you. Got it?"  Xander nodded and beamed.  "Good.  No sharing stuff over breakfast either.  Not like you did after the night I had to rescue you from Anya."  He looked at Horatio.  "You know that mischievous look he gets sometimes?  If you see that over a meal, put down the utensil and swallow before you choke.  It's the best piece of advice I can give you.  That and he likes to spring out and pounce you when he's in a playful mood."  He looked at his kid, then at Horatio. "Did you give him caffeine?"  That got a wide-eyed look and he went to check the lube.


"It does?" he called.  "Is that normal? I asked the lady at the store and took her suggestion on what I should get."

"We're buying normal stuff," he said as he came out.  "I take it his playful nature calms down without the stimulant?"

"Most of the time. By the way, he's got a geology test Tuesday."  Horatio nodded.  "I have no idea where his backpack is."

"Under the bed. I kicked it earlier while we changed the sheets."

"Good.  I'll give you a list of his test schedules."  That got a smirk and a nod.

"You know that broom closet on the third floor, do you think it's still empty?" Calleigh asked.

Tim looked at her.  "No sex at work.  I'd never hear the end of it when you squeal like that and Eric hears, or worse yet, Alexx hears."  The phone rang and he groaned as he reached over to get it.  "What?" he asked, sounding cranky.  "Hey, Willow.  No, he's presently teasing his boyfriend's bellybutton and driving him insane."  Xander grinned and did that but Horatio spanked him and shook his head.  He got the naughty smirk of doom and pounced.  "No, that thump was him driving his boy to the ground.  No, we're doing the Olympics of watching here.  No, I don't think he needs one. Thanks anyway."  He hung up and got up, going to remove the Xander from his lover's chest and throat.  "Sorry, now you know why giving caffeine to the horny Xander is bad."  He helped him up and watched him sit, then looked at Xander.  "She wanted to know if you wanted a Xander sex bot made."

"I don't think I need to have sex with myself but I guess we could use it to bait the psychos that want me."

"A stunt double?" Calleigh teased.

"I'll tell her that.  Go take a nap, alone, and sleep off the caffeine."  He nodded and stole a kiss then went back to bed.  He looked at the lube, then smirked and tossed at Calleigh.  "Once he's asleep, get the rest and I'll hide it for you."  He went back to cuddling, seeing the slight frown.  "He's gotta sleep it off.  With how much natural stimulant product you used...."

"No wonder I needed three naps."  He sat down, getting comfortable.  "He asked the other day why you hadn't been home."

"Did you tell him me?" Calleigh asked.  He nodded.  "That's fine.  We were going to tell him that night anyway."  She smiled up at Speed, then at him.  "It was kinda an on-again, off-again thing for a few years now."

"I figured it was.  So, when are you telling Alexx?"

"About the same time you do," Speed offered.  The phone rang and he groaned, answering it.  "Hi."  He listened then shook his head.  "No, Willow.  He said he doesn't need one and neither does his boyfriend.  No, not Danny.  New York's a long way for cuddles."  He tossed the phone to Horatio.  "Here, you tell her you don't need the Xander sex robot."

"Willow," he said dryly.  "No, one Xander is more than enough.  He can't.  Because he accidentally ingested one of those herbal stimulants.  No, not caffeine, herbal.  No, but it does come in various products," he noted dryly.  "I thank you anyway, but he really doesn't need it."  He smirked at Speed.  "No, he doesn't need the housekeeping Xander robot either, Willow.  I promise, we're fine with just one.  Why don't you call Aiden and ask her?"  He hung up on her happy babble, shaking his head.

"That's mean," Calleigh told him.  "You need a nap, Horatio."

Speed poked her gently on the side.  "Knowing Aiden, she'll suggest she send it to Danny so he doesn't miss the Xander."

She looked up at him.  "If so, we *really* need to warn Don."

He nodded.  "We should.  Maybe send him an email saying 'beware of fake Xanders'."  She giggled at that and he looked over, noticing Horatio was asleep sitting up.  She got up to help him get comfortable and Speed went to confiscate all that lube, and find a new use for it.  He knew Calleigh was sensitive to that stuff and if something could make Xander make Horatio make the noises he had, he wanted to try it out.  He'd have to send that email later.


Eric answered Horatio's phone, listening to the tired voice.  "H, are you sick?" he asked bluntly.  "Headache.  Un-huh.  Should I send Alexx over, H?"  He heard a moan and smirked.  "So, how is she?"  The phone got hung up and he wrote out the second set of 'not coming in, I'm sick' notes for the day. Then he called Alexx.  "Either Xander cooked or there's an epidemic at their house," he said when she answered.  "N o, H just called in complaining of headaches.  Speed said he was dizzy and couldn't ride.  Calleigh's already bounced up the halls like a Xander on way too much caffeine. I don't know, I didn't want to call him, Alexx.  Yeah, even H called off."  He leaned back and smirked at Frank as he leaned in.  "Hold on, Alexx.  Hey, Frank, H and Speed both called off.  H has a really bad headache he can't shake and Speed said he's too dizzy to ride."

"Is anyone else affected?"

"Calleigh's bouncing like she's on a pogo stick.  Should I send Alexx over?"

"Go ahead if she's not busy."  He walked off to check on Calleigh.  Everyone knew she was dating Speed, but you couldn't say it in the office.  He found her bopping around the office like a blonde Xander and the comparison made him stop for a minute.  "Calleigh, did something happen this weekend?" he asked, walking in and closing the door.  "You know H and Speed called off, right?" he asked when she gave him the too-bright smile.  "Are you on something?"

"No, just a natural high.  I don't know why Speed's so tired. I mean, I scrubbed his house last night.  Xander and I both."

"Oh, shit, you're on something," he muttered.  "Come on, honey, let's let Alexx take a blood sample."  He called down there.  "Before you leave, come draw blood from Calleigh," he ordered. "No, she cleaned Speed's apartment all last night with Xander.  Please."  He hung up and got her sitting down but she was wiggling and bouncing and dancing and smiled and waved when Alexx came in, starting to hum.

"Um, Frank, give us a minute, would you?"  He nodded and ducked out, closing the door and standing in front of it.  "Calleigh?" she asked, moving closer.  "Herbal stimulant lubricant?"

"Yeah, someone suggested Xander buy it and Speed confiscated it after Horatio's fourth nap.  I don't know why I'm so happy today, I'm damn sore."

"Oh, I do," she promised.  "How much did you use and how many times?"

"Just a bit twice."  She beamed and nodded. "Then Speed got really dizzy because the condom broke."

"I understand.  Frank?"  He came in.  "Take her to her house.  There's been a small warning issued about a certain brand of lubricant that has a natural stimulant in it.  Calleigh is sensitive to that stuff. She'll come down tomorrow sometime."  He nodded and helped her up and out to his car.  She called the Chief.  "Sir, this is Alexx Woods.  Yes, this is," she said with a smile.  "You know that new herbal stimulant stuff that's been going around?  No, somehow, and I'm thinking it was at a club since they all went clubbing together, Speedle, Caine, Dusquene, and Speedle's charge all got affected by some.  The two men have called off and I had to send Calleigh home on medical leave.  Can I go ahead and just write their orders?

"No, if I had to be honest, there's a new lubricant going around with it in it, and, well, Calleigh's sensitive and I'm sure the boys got hit on by some woman at the clubs who spread it on theirs hands or necks or something.  No, Delko's fine so far but he's not sensitive to this stuff either.  Sure.  Thank you, sir.  I'm sure they won't appreciate it but that's not something they can really pick on someone about."  Or else she'd kick their asses.  "No, I'm taking about an hour to go check on them.  Thank you, sir.  You have a better day.  Probably sometime tomorrow.  So that leaves you with Delko and Wolfe here and working.  We can run on skeleton crew today.  Thank you, sir."  She hung up.  "Boys!" she called.  They came running.  "We know that new herbal stimulant is bad, right?"  They both nodded, looking scared.  "Somehow the others got exposed."  Ryan burst out laughing.  "What?"

"Xander was buying lube the other day and he probably picked up a bottle."

Eric groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose.  "Speed would've noticed the effect and confiscated it and probably used it on Calleigh," he said quietly.

"But then why would Horatio have it?"

"Accidental?  Maybe he got called for dinner or something," Eric offered.  Ryan gave him an odd look.  "What?" he snapped.

"You haven't seen it.  Xander's in serious lust mode over Horatio," he noted dryly.  Eric gaped and he nodded.  "Like, buying books to tell him what to do, dressing him in leather, being possessive of him, serious lust mode.  I know Speed had a talk with both of them in the last few months about it."

"No way.  Not Horatio.   He's protective of the boy and Xander taught him how to dance at the club that time, but not together."  He shook his head. "The kid's got a crush, he'll get over it."  He looked at Alexx.  "Need help looking in on them?"

"No, that's okay.  The Chief is calling in a few of the night crew who had it easy last night.  Do what you can today.  I'll be back in an hour.  Frank took Calleigh home."  She went to get her bag and go to Speed's, where she got the shock of her life.  She let herself in, smiling at the neat and clean living room.  "She does good work on that stuff," she noted, going back to check on her baby first.  He was clutching his head so she moved a hand, looking down at him.  "It was the lube, baby," she told him.

"Condom broke," he agreed. "How long?"

"A few more hours probably, maybe into tomorrow for her.  You just nap, sugar."  He nodded, closing his eyes and letting her tuck him in.  Then she went to check on Xander and found Horatio enjoying the blowjob of his life by the look on his face.  She backed out of there and walked off shaking her head.  They were wearing it out of their system, they'd be fine. With any luck, she'd never see that again and he hadn't seen her. By the time she got back to the station, she had finally quit blushing but she had mental images she did not want.  Eric came jogging out to stop her.  "Horatio will be fine.  He's wearing it out of his system."

"So he left that party to protect Xander and found a girl?"

"No, honey, he found Xander.  The boy was about throat deep on him.  They'll be fine soon enough."  She walked off, wishing she drank so she could drink away that mental image.

Eric rubbed his eyes, trying to make anything take the place of that image she had forced on him.  "Oh, God," he moaned.

"Is Horatio all right?" Ryan asked, coming out.

Eric looked at him.  "You were right," he said, looking confused and really tired.  "She caught 'em going at it."  He walked off to bang his head against a wall a few times.

Frank came out to stop him. "What's wrong with you?" he demanded.

"Horatio and Xander."

"Yeah, they're cute.  So?"  He shrugged.  "The boy's got a crush on him.  It's adorable."  Eric gave him this look and he knew.  He just knew.  "Oh, no."  Eric nodded.  "We sure?"

"Alexx," he told him, then hit his head a few more times. "I can't get that picture out of my head!"

Yelina came up behind him and stroked the back of his neck, making him tense up then relax.  "Better?"  He nodded, looking at her.  "Some of us knew a while ago.  Go back to work, Eric."  He nodded and trudged off.

Frank looked at her. "How long?  I knew about the crush Horatio has."

"I can't be fully sure but I know he realized it the day they went out together with everyone."  She shrugged.  "He'll treat him well and spoil him rotten."

"Which one?"

"Both.  Especially Xander.  He seems like a spoiler."

"I'm too old for this."

"Well consider this.  If the other two get together, some day Alexx will be a grandmother to baby Speedles."

Frank grinned. "They'll be so cute little scruffy blonde things with a bad mouth."  She nodded and grinned.  "Okay, I can accept that, but really."  He stepped closer. "You know that herbal stuff going around?" he asked quietly.

She smirked and nodded. "He bought five different types with it.  I didn't even realize when he asked my advice when I went with him."

"You went with him?"

"Yes, we were taking Ray Jr to discuss that stuff and this way he doesn't have to surf for porn and things.  Let me guess, the stimulant got them?"  He nodded, grimacing.  "Those poor boys.  I'm hoping Xander's enjoying himself and Horatio eventually gets a nap."

"Calleigh was bouncing and singing."

"So Speed probably confiscated it," she agreed. She smiled at him. "They'll be fine and my son now has no questions about sex."  She went back to her desk, finding an email from New York.  She opened it and read it, then smirked.  "Frank?"  He came over and read over her shoulder, looking confused.  "I don't know, I was hoping you understood why he wanted us to come and get the robotic Xander out of his city."

"Who would make a robotic Xander and send it to Mac Taylor?"

"Poor Don, he's got to have the hiccups and be in pain from the laughing he's doing."

"If they're not defending Danny from it."  He walked off shaking his head to tell Eric that one.  That got the Horatio sex scene outta his head.


Speed woke up to someone pounding on his door and got up, going to let whoever it is in so they'd quit.  "Don?" he asked, watching as he drug something in. "Um.....  We told her no."

"Who in the hell sent us a robot version of Xander so I can shoot them!" he demanded, letting the robot go.  It slinked over to the couch and laid down, purring at him.  "I mean it!"

"Willow," he said, writing down her phone number and giving it to him.  "Here.  Was it okay or did it rip down things? Someone made a Buffy one but we all tried to discourage her from making a robot Xander."

Xander came out, naked, and looked at Don, then giggled.  "Hi, let me put on clothes."  He turned around and headed back to the bedroom.

Don frowned and shook his head. "He's built better than the robot."  He looked at Speed again.  "She sent it to Danny to take the place of him missing his Xander.  Instead, it decided Mac was Danny and attached itself to him, all day!  Even when the Chief came down to see what was going on.  He got growled at and we had to pull it off Mac again.  He's traumatized and the Chief *personally* paid the airfare to get the thing down here. You, sit!" he ordered the robot.  It sat and pouted, just like the real thing.  He looked at Speed again.  "I don't care what you do with it.  Send it to Aiden, send it back to her so it can fuck Buffy up the ass and straighten her out.  I don't care!  Just keep it outta my city!"

Speed nodded and held up a finger, going to get the rest of that lube.  He handed over the four bottles and swallowed.  "It's got a very strong stimulant in it.  Calleigh and Xander both got high from it.  Horatio hasn't been able to sleep in a day and a half."  Xander came back out and he looked at him.  "You cleaned up, I'm impressed.  Do NOT go in the kitchen again.  Not after you woke me up with the smoke detector yesterday!"  He looked at Don again.  "We'll handle the Xander bot, you take and hide those.  Deal?"

"Sure, I'm getting the better end of it.  If he's that pouty in real life, someone's gonna die from it."

"Horatio hasn't yet," he admitted.  "Or has he?  Is he still breathing, Xander?"

"And napping," he said tiredly, sitting on the couch next to himself. "Hi, me.  What did Willow tell you to do?"

"Go take care of the Danny Messer because he lost his Xander," it said.

"Cool."  He yawned and stretched, then curled up.  "Be a pillow for now, me."

"Of course."  He looked at Speed. "I can cook.  Should I?"

"Hell no.  No Xanders in the kitchen."   He looked at Don.  "Did you hurt yourself laughing?"

"For about thirty minutes because we thought it was a prank.  And then Mac tried to slug it and said 'damn' because his hand was now broken, that's when we realized there was a problem.  Stella liked him.  She said she'd like the real Xander if he was like this one, but hopefully less pouty."  He put the lube in his coat pocket and looked at the robot.  "I don't know what to do with him.  He seems too alive to me to turn off."

"We'll figure it out or give him to Alexx to take care of.  Maybe Ryan.  Or maybe Ray Jr. since I caught him watching Xander's ass the other day."  He shrugged.  "He come with a manual?"

"No.  And tell Aiden that it was mean to suggest she send it!  I like you guys."

"I know.  We agreed to send you the real thing if Xander does something like jump him at work so you can straighten him out."

"Gee, thanks.  Mac's still probably babbling his name.  It's gonna be a while before any of us want to deal with Xander."  He walked out, going back home, via the airport bar.

Speed called Eric.  "When you're off, stop by and see if Calleigh's normal and bring Ryan, Alexx, and food with you."  He hung up.  Then he went to check on his kitchen. There had to be something to eat.  He had worn himself out on Calleigh.


Ryan Wolfe looked at the robot boy and grinned at the real one.  "Can we keep him?"

"They don't care as long as he doesn't go back to New York and traumatize Mac again," Speed offered.  Horatio snorted and shook his head. "You called him, is he okay?"

"Mostly," he admitted. "Now.  A broken hand, a few nightmares, he'll be fine."  He looked at the real Xander, who was being good and playing solitaire, checking for a pulse yet again just to make sure.  He got bitten for it this time and winced.  "Don't bite."

"I like to bite," he said, smirking at him.  "Biting is good otherwise you can't eat and I'm starved.  Can I at least make myself a sandwich, Tim."

"No!  No Xanders in the kitchen!  Ever!"  He looked at Eric.  "That one woke me up with the smoke detector by trying to make breakfast."

"That's a skill," Eric agreed, smirking at Xander.  Then at Horatio, who only raised an eyebrow.  "Did Alexx get to see you earlier?"

"Oh, shit," Xander sighed.

"Uh-huh.  And I had that damn image in my head all day until this."  Ryan laughed so he slapped him across the back of the head.  "And he didn't help, H.  He kept coming up and reminding me of it.  Make him behave!"

"Why?  Delko baiting is a fun and rewarding pasttime," Speed said with a shit-eating grin.  "Be thankful Aiden isn't here."  Eric moaned.

"Who else knows?" Horatio asked calmly.

"Yelina, Frank, us two, and Alexx," Ryan assured him. "She pulled me aside before we came out to get me to tell you she's sorry she suggested Xander buy those lubes."

"You went lube shopping with Yelina?" Speed asked, looking horrified.  "Why?  I would've went with you!  Hell, you could've drug Eric with you!"

"No he couldn't've," Eric said firmly.  "I don't wanna understand gay boy stuff and I don't care to see it.  I like women. I like women a lot.  Thank you."

"Yelina wanted to bring Ray Jr. to answer a bunch of his sex related questions and asked me to come along," Xander told everyone.  "He had some questions about the gay stuff, and some that I couldn't answer except out of the book I have, which I let him borrow for a few days."  He looked at Horatio.  "He's decided he likes girls."

"I almost suggested that we give the metal Xander to Ray Jr to give him someone to play catch with," Ryan offered.

"Mr. Wolfe, I'm not mean to your family," Horatio reminded him, staring him down.

"I wasn't being mean. It'd give him a big brother."  He shrugged.  "Every kid could use a big brother."

"Not necessary."

"Sorry, Horatio."  Calleigh and Alexx came in and she stopped, looking horrified at the two Xanders on the couch.  "Because of your hyperactivity earlier, they made you one."  He grinned at her.

She looked at Speed.  "Tell me she didn't send you a Xander robot.  Please?" she pleaded.

"No, she sent it to Danny to give him something to take the place of missing Xander.  Of course it decided Mac was Danny."

She burst out crying and hugged him. "I'm so sorry you had to put up with that girl!" she sobbed.

"It's okay. Maybe the Xander and the Buffy robot would like to be together."

"I have taste," the Xander and the robot said together.  Man looked at machine and raised an eyebrow.  "Danny's a blond with glasses.  He's smart."

"I'd rather have tits," it told him.  "Small tits, but still tits."

"I'd smack you but I'd hurt myself," Alexx said firmly.

"I was programmed by a teenage boy," it defended.  "It's not my fault."

"Do you have a power down button?" Eric asked.  It nodded. "Would you please use it and take a nap?"  It nodded and then went limp.  "Thank you!"  He looked up then sighed and looked at Alexx.

"That's what he would've turned out like without me and Aiden," Tim told her.  "Only dating Anya."

"Again, I have better taste than that," Xander said dryly.  "She may have forced me to take her to the prom but after needing rescued...."  He looked at Tim.  "That's a good idea and he could keep up with her."  Speed smirked evilly at that.  "Anya?" he called plaintively.  She appeared, looking pissed.  He pointed at the robot. "Someone made a Xander sex toy robot.  Yo, metal me, wake up."  It woke up and smiled at Anya, getting up to kiss her by bending her backwards.  She ended up wrapped around him.  "He's yours but you have to keep him out of New York forever and ever," he ordered.  "And out of Miami."

"I can do that," she agreed.  "I don't have to come here or New York.  You get plenty of vengeance without me, like Chicago does."  She smiled. "Thank you.  I love my birthday present."

"I'll buy you anything you want," the robot Xander assured her.  "I just have to have a job first."  She squealed and hugged him, taking him home with her.

"Hopefully she won't wear *him* out too," Speed said dryly, hugging her.  "I gave Don the rest of that lube when he showed up with the Xander bot."

"Sure.  Better safe than here."  She looked around, then at him. "By the way, I used your toothbrush to do the floors."

"Thankfully I noticed before I tried to use it," he assured her, sitting down with her in his lap.  "Get over it, now," he ordered at the amused looks.

"Does that mean squealing will happen in the broom closet on third?" Eric teased.

"Better than the twins in the archival room," Xander said dryly. "By the way," he said, looking at him, smirking evilly.  "There are ways around that impasse you had.  That's why tongues and fingers can move independently of each other and wouldn't have brought other cops running, or me with popcorn."  He grinned and went back to his card game, letting Ryan Wolfe snicker and have to lean against the couch.

"I wonder who had been in there and got it closed down for everyone," Alexx said as she came out of the kitchen.  "Is the demon ho gone?"  Xander nodded, moving a card.  "Grandson."  He looked at her.  "You are going to be good to Horatio, right?"

"I'm always good to him," he said with a slight pout.  "Aren't I good?" he asked.

"He is, he even tried to cook," he assured her.  "Now that we're back to normal, he's going to treat me very well, the same as I will him," he promised.

"Good.  Now, when you adopt my great-grandbabies, I wanna know right after the granddaddy Speedy there."

"Don't, just don't," Speed told them.

"Hey, I promised to babysit yours," Xander reminded him with a smirk. "If and when the birth control fails."

"Far, far in the future," Calleigh agreed.

"That's fine, honey.  I can be an old and gray grandmother, but I'd better see at least one grandbaby before I go and my kids are much too young."  She went back to dish up more food.  "Here, you all need to eat," she ordered, handing out food.  She made Horatio scoot closer to Xander and the boy snuggled up next to him, giving him this gentle, sated smile and getting a content one in return.  "Peter gives me that same look," she whispered at Horatio.  "You be good to him or else."

"I will be, Alexx. You know I will be."  He took a bite and smiled at the couple feeding each other.  "No more cuteness today."

"If you conceive while we're here, we get to be godparents," Eric reminded them.

"And if we're in the same room, we get to pick out part of the name," Ryan finished.

Calleigh looked at him.  "I never knew you were a pervert, Ryan, but I don't like this side of you very much," she said with a smirk.  "Besides, I'm a good girl.  The bad boy is the baby of the family and my stepson."

Xander looked at her and grinned wickedly.  "I could go put on those pants again."

"Do it and be spanked," Horatio said simply, eating another bite.  "Either of them."

"Oh, I don't know, that stretchy cord pair was kinda cute on him."  She looked at Speed.  "Can you borrow those?"

"My ass is too big, I won't fit into them."

"They stretch," Xander promised.  "As long as you have them washed, you can borrow them."

Speed blushed.  "I don't think she needs to see me in those."

"How bad are they?" Eric asked, looking at Horatio.  "Worse than those rust colored jeans?"

"Much," he sighed, nodding, then looking at his boyfriend, who just smirked at him.  "No one sees you in those but me.  You can hold them up."  Xander went to get them, handing them to Eric and then cuddling up again to finish his dinner.

Eric looked at them, then shook his head. "I can't even imagine them on someone."

Alexx looked at them.  "I can."  She looked down at Xander. "They've got an open spot when you bend over."

"They stretch," he said with a small smirk.  "Besides, Montreal was a full monty city, Alexx.  That was for a special act where I was pretending to be a puppet but I couldn't get out of them gracefully enough."

"He almost has to bellydance out of them," Horatio admitted, shaking his head.

Ryan looked at them, then at the kid.  "If I ever get a really hot date, I'm coming over to borrow them.  I'll dry clean them."

"Sure."  He shrugged.  "I've got plenty of clothes. But the arm and wristbands are Speed's."  He ate another bite and then dug in, eating quickly until he sighed in pleasure and put the plate aside.  Horatio finished up so he stacked theirs, then held his hand and just watched the sun go down out of the window.

Ryan looked at Eric.  "We're the last two single guys left, we need to stick up for each other."

"You want some of my castoffs?" he asked.

"I wouldn't mind a few since you've pretty muchly slept with half the city that aren't of college age.  Just a few?"

"Not everyone," he defended.

"Yes you have.  Your little black book is like a phone book," Calleigh reminded him. "You were weeding names out of your blackberry the other day, Eric."  She ate another bite then fed him one, getting a grin.

"I saw the delete file, man, there must've been at least twelve hundred names in there," Speed taunted.

"There was not!" he said, looking upset. "I haven't slept with over two hundred women, much less twelve hundred!"

"You sure about that?" Calleigh asked. "I mean without checking your bedpost?"

"Yes, I remember each and every single one of them, all one-hundred and eighty...."  He shut up.  "Not one word," he warned Speed.

"Sure, if you leave me alone about her at work."

"And don't remark on any hickies where others can hear," Calleigh finished.

"I don't give you hickies," Speed said.  "If you find a hickie on her, I wanna know."

"You may not, but Xander does," she said, smirking at Horatio.

"He tastes good," Xander said with a strong blush, ducking his head down.  "I was hungry.  I'm not allowed in the kitchen anymore so I had to snack on something."

"The day he disappears, we'll know who to ask," Ryan said, patting him on the shoulder from behind.  He walked around and sat in the other chair, grinning at Eric.  "So, can I have some of your castoffs?  I'm looking for brains and sweetness mostly, but cute is good."

"I'll start compiling names," he snorted, sitting on the floor next to Alexx.  "Kick him, Xander."

"He might pick on Horatio."  He yawned and snuggled in.  "Sorry, still need a nap."

"You could go to bed," Speed promised.

"That'd be rude; I can stay awake."

"Sure.  If not, we'll put you to bed."  Eric shook his head.  "Did you guys get any sleep today?"

"No, I took out and regrouted my bathroom," Calleigh admitted.  "Horatio?"

"Short naps.  Speed."

"Long, bad headache," he admitted.  "Then a short nap.  I'm surprised you two are still awake with how much more you got than we did."

"He'll have the bed spins tomorrow," Calleigh assured him.

"Can I have a hickey before I go to my last orientation class," Xander asked Horatio.  "Just so she can't try again?"

"If you want," he agreed smugly.

"She hit on you?" Eric asked.

"Asked me out," Xander admitted.  "I don't want to give her another chance."

"I remember her, she was a flake," Ryan admitted.  Everyone stared at him.  "I did my masters there."  He shrugged.  "I still had to take it."  He looked at Xander.  "Can you understand her synchronistic waves and things?"

"I'm from near LA.  I've seen plenty of that.  I understood it and can easily translate it."  He looked at Horatio.  "The fellow classmate's friend wants me to prove stripping is harder so I'm going to prove it to her by teaching her one routine Wednesday."

"I'll make sure you get a backrub when I see you."

"Teach her the kissy face one you did in Montreal," Speed said.  "And I don't remember you getting down that far that time."

"I worked at two places up there.  The first one got burnt."

"Ah.  Okay."

"Another psycho?" Calleigh asked.

"No, insurance."  He grinned at her.  "You look comfy."

"So do you."

"Does he let you cuddle?" Ryan teased.  Horatio gave him an odd look.  "The one date I set him up on, she complained that he liked to cuddle."

"I was only holding her hand while we walked on the beach," he complained.  Ryan gave him a look.  "The first time she complained."

"You're getting a blood test this week," Speed ordered.

"I had one last month.  Would you like to see it?  I have one every other month because you don't know the sorta shit you're gonna find on a stripclub floor and what might accidentally come in contact with your body when you're out front."

"True," Calleigh agreed.  "Even the one here in town was nasty."

Speed nodded.  "It was.  It was not the best."

"No, nasty was the Raven's Cage.  Nasty was also the Pier."

"How in the hell do you get into all the anything goes clubs?" Eric asked dryly.

"The club I worked in was a starting point and a feeder spot.  So I could use my work pass.  It was good advertising for the club when we went to the others and hung out or dance or stuff.  I never did stuff there, the only thing I ever did was stare in fascinated horror a few times."  He shrugged slowly and grinned. "Perk of the business, man.  We got into most any club by flashing our work pass. I should probably give that back to him too."

"Why? He didn't ask for it," Speed noted dryly.  "You pretty much get in anyplace anyway."

"Yeah, except for the one Eric took me too with the women who were fighting over me.  That's two now, Eric.  You're never picking the clubs again."

"Amen," Speed agreed.

"Good with me," Calleigh agreed.

Horatio nodded.  "It's probably safer if he doesn't."

"It was a nice party," Eric defended.

"It was, but there were still two women who got into a fight at an art gallery a few months earlier over trying to have me," Xander reminded him.  "No more picking the clubs until everyone else forgets I exist."

"Then I take it you're not going back for any more special nights?" Eric asked with a smirk.

"Nope.  Horatio doesn't like it and I'm really tired of dancing most of the time."  Speed opened his mouth.  "I told Eric, he brought a date to make sure I was okay.  Sixteen special performance calls and the two he couldn't get to, Ryan did."

Ryan nodded. "I brought a date to the second one and she tried to leave with him too."  Eric moaned and nodded.  "Did you get a lot of that?"

"Every damn time, but I always got called back and asked if we could go again."

"Aww," Alexx said with a smirk.  "Did they use you to get close to the Xander?"  He nodded, pouting at her so she patted him on the head, ending in a smack.  "Good.  Next time don't bring a woman to a place like that."  She looked at Xander.  "And I'm glad you're out of the business too, honey. That's dangerous."

"I know," he agreed.  "But I got to tease and tempt and then walk off leaving them aching  and doing things I didn't wanna see under the table.  And hey, a few couples used me to conceive.  I'm the proud conception agent of seven kids, one's a set of triplets."  They all laughed at that.  "I'm helping repopulate the world here.  Give me some credit."

"You did tease very well," Horatio agreed quietly, stroking through the dark hair.  "You may have one final performance, and I will be there."  Xander nodded.

"Can we invite Frank back?  His wife called Yelina to ask what case had gotten him so worked up.  She told him they had a bust at a male strip club and he had been teased," Calleigh offered.  "She wants him to go back."

"I don't care.  But he didn't tip," Xander said with a wicked smirk.  "And I have just the number too."  That got a low growl from the man beside him.  "I promise, you'll like it."

"I probably will but that doesn't mean it'll make me happy."

"Even if you get to walk me out at the end of it?"

"That would make me more pleased, yes," he admitted.  "Will I get to see it first?"

"Nope.  No one in the city has and I only need to work on the ending a bit.  I can call Jack for the next night we all have off."  He looked at Alexx.  "You can come if you want.  Eric can guard you or Frank could."

She smiled and shook her head. "I don't wanna see you take off your clothes, dear. I might look at you funny afterward.  You know what they say about morning afters."

He nodded.  "I've only had three of those but I understand."  He got comfortable again. "You'll like it, Horatio, don't worry about that."  He entwined their fingers again and smiled at him.  "I can even work on it with my little pupil."

"That's good."  He stroked his hair.  "Do you need anything special?"

"No.  I only needed a prop for the 'cop to motorcycle beefcake' act."  Ryan choked and he grinned at him.  "Long gone and I don't even remember half of it. You'd have to ask Audry in Montreal if there are any tapes of it."

"I have her phone number," Speed announced.  "I'll start cleaning up those loose ends, Horatio."

"Thank you.  It's appreciated.  You might ask Inspector Ferris as well.  I know Danny said they talked to him recently."

"Sure," Calleigh agreed.  "We don't want anything like that online or something.  Someone might come after him again."  Xander blushed at that.  "Let's try to have a normal year, okay?"

"I do try."

"Try harder," Eric and Alexx ordered. They looked at each other and he stuck his tongue out then grinned.


Xander swayed to the music, tantalizing everyone, giving teasing looks to a few but he always came back to Horatio's eyes.  He winked at one point and turned, going back to his pole/lover, moaning against it as he shifted and rubbed.  Then he came back and looked at his lover, who smiled and stood up, holding out a hand, leading him out so the last three bars of music followed him out.  Behind him the club went nuts!  Applause, tips, people swearing and throwing glasses down, a few crying, like the owner.  He knew the kid had been serious now.  He had proclaimed his spot in front of everyone.  No matter how much he teased and taunted in the past, no matter who else he bedded, he came back to his lover and his lover ended up with him.

Speed walked up to him and smirked at the bartender, getting another beer.  "I told you he was taken."  The owner glared at him and he smirked back.  "He takes very good care of him, he loves him completely, and he lets Xander spoil him," he said quietly.  "No matter what, he goes to him."

"I'll have the tips, the checks, and the credit cards done by tomorrow," he sighed, shaking his head.  "He made me money out the ass.  I like the kid and I wish him well, but I wish he hadn't found love."  Speed just grinned at that.  "It's going to get rowdy in here, you might wanna take your friends and go.  I'll send his check to you at the station, Speedle."

"Thanks, Jack, but I can pick it up tomorrow on my way home.  Have a better night, man.  He worked for days getting that ending timed right."  He walked back to his spot, pulling on his jacket and nodding at the others to follow him out.  All of Xander's posse, but Alexx, had been there.  They had even invited the New York guys down since it was so special and a weekend.

"Maybe we should've kept the Xander robot," Danny said as they walked out.

"No," Mac ordered.  "I don't want that thing anywhere near me."

"It went to his almost ex, Anya," Speed called, making Aiden cackle.  "She's probably still worn out since it's got a nuclear battery."  He stared his bike.  "Guys, I'm betting they went to his house so mine's probably open and getting food."  That got a cheer and they all went to celebrate that.  Xander was out of the business, he was safer, less chance of psychotic people wanting him, and he was loved by a very good man. They all headed back together, making for one loud, cheerful party.

The Chief of Police came out pouting a few minutes later. "I'll miss him," he told his wife.

"I will too, dear, but you know Horatio deserves it.  Think of giving Darkness to him as a reward for all the good he's done in the city," she prompted, patting him on the back.  "Maybe he'll use some of those stored up leave days you complained about last month for a honeymoon or something nice like that," she offered.  He smiled at that thought and she earned a kiss.  "Darkness is a good reward for all the help he's given the city.  Even if that boy will kill him in bed when he's older."  He nodded and walked off with her.

Inside, Jack turned off the camera and ejected the tape, putting in a new one.  That one would only go to Xander and he'd have the only copy.  He had promised him, even if it had been so good they'd be scraping the floor clean for days.  He hesitated but he knew the Wrath of Caine would come down on him and he'd heard enough about that from the underworld connections he had to know he didn't want it focused on him.  He called the two people he knew were interested in the boy and warned them that he had a cop for a boyfriend, to leave him alone because he'd given up the business.  Then he called the guys in Montreal and their connection, giving them the same information so they could clear out any of their connections who might want the boy.  He knew at least one Middle Eastern gentleman wanted the boy for his own personal harem slave.  They would get word back to him that it was now impossible.

Outside the club, the wire tapping Vice officers high fived for all the information they were getting and all the dots they were able to connect, plus the foiled kidnaping plan that would get them back in the good graces of the CSI team.  Now they understood why Caine had backed Speedle on not using the kid to catch the club killer.  There was no way someone like Caine would let anyone touch his boy.  The man defined possessive - just look at how he treated his Hummer.  Hopefully the boy at least got to sleep inside in the bed instead of the car was the general consensus, but if not they were sure Caine made it a comfortable bed for his toy.


Speed pulled up and nodded at the bouncer as he stopped his bike, parking it.  The guy held up a hand and went inside, coming back with an envelope.  "We've been banned?" he asked with a grin.

"Yeah, Jack's depressed.  The Middle Eastern guy committed suicide and left Darkness something.  It's being routed to the station so expect it in a few days."

"What Middle Eastern guy?" he asked.

"He didn't tell you?  Jack was approached about the kid going to work for this guy in his native country, at his personal palace, and Darkness said no and walked off insulted. He was really huffy that day.  He even played the angry, gonna whip your skin off you set that got the masochists happy. By the way, we're keeping the picture of him with the bullwhip on the wall."

"What picture?  I at least want copies of all the pictures and at least the majority of the copies of his tapes.  Jack made a deal."

"Sure, we can make you copies of the pictures," he promised with a grin.  "The tapes will be delivered to Caine personally in three days.  The last one will have no copies made, as promised.  He said to reassure you if you asked."

"Good, now what Middle Eastern prince was this again?"

"Darkness caught the eye of this guy while he was in Montreal.  He wanted the first club he worked at in Montreal to ...procure him for them.  Darkness left up there before it could go off and they approached Jack through their local club, the Raven's Cage."  He scratched the back of his neck.  "Anyway, Jack called around last night to make sure everyone knew that Darkness was off the market and he was now protected by Caine, because we've all heard of the Wrath of Caine, especially if you touch his hummer and we figure his boy's at least equal with the car, if not slightly better.  Oh, we're taking bets.  Does he have to sleep in the hummer or does he get to go inside?"

"Horatio has a palatial bed and Xander's presently snuggled under a huge quilt after a great massage and more sex than even he could handle," he said smugly.

"Damn, I lost the bet.  Oh, well. Philip's going to be happy. Does he have to wear a collar too?  We know he got a piercing for his boy."

"Um, no he doesn't."

"Yeah he does.  One of the guys saw it when he was stretching in his thong the other day because he slipped out."  He grinned at him.  "Anyway, when Jack called around, the guy heard, he committed suicide because now others would know and he couldn't have his toy stripper but he left Darkness something. It was being routed to Montreal and they're sending it to us so we're sending it directly to Caine.  Anything to do with Darkness or someone who wants Darkness we're sending to Caine.  Is he going to become a cop now?"

"He's studying to be a profiler."

"That'll be good.  He understands people.  Especially who he picks to stalk for his hyena set."  He grinned at him.  "Thank you for letting us keep at least a few pictures of him.  Think he'd autograph one for me if I can get a copy made?"

"Send it to me at the station and I'll ask.  You can send anything like that to me or Caine since he's basically my son."

"Sure, thank you."  He grinned at him. "You're really nice for a cop."

"Not a problem."  He looked at the check and his eyes bulged. "What the fuck?" he asked. Then looked at him.  "Did he...mistype or something?"

"No, that's the other reason why he's so depressed, but the credit cards came through already so he's fine.  That's his forty percent plus the tips we collected for him, plus we'll be sending back the clothes he left on the stage too."  He moved closer.  "After you guys left, the Police Chief came out pouting.  Darkness was his little blue pill if you know what I mean."  He nudged him with a grin, getting a nod of understanding and a small smirk from Speed.  "Anyway, he was pouting that he was off the market and his wife pointed out that your son was good compensation for Caine for all the good work he's done in the city.  She was hoping he'd do the romantic thing and take some of his extra leave time that he's got sitting around for a honeymoon. You might wanna suggest it since I know how big that check is."

Speed nodded, smirking at him. "Sure, I'll suggest that to him when I drop this off," he promised.  "Thank you.  Any other good gossip?"

"Yeah, man, Vice guys raided the Raven's Cage last night.  Totally blasted it open and arrested everyone but a few dancers.  They were *pissed* apparently.  I don't know why but oh well.  Glad we're classier than that place.  Be careful on your ride, Detective."

"You be careful too," he said with a smile.  He tucked the check inside his shirt and waistband, then took off again, heading for Horatio's beachhouse.  The door was opened when he pulled up and Horatio nodded him inside so he parked and put his helmet down.  "Did you know that the Wrath of Caine is feared down there, and I had the feeling there were capitol letters in that phrase."  Horatio gave him an unimpressed look.  "Really.  They figured he was at least as dear to you as the hummer.  They had a bet going at the club about whether he had to sleep in it or not. Most bet in it."  He walked in and the door was shut so he handed over the envelope.  "In the next few days, you're getting copies of all his tapes, his pictures, and some stuff some Middle Eastern guy who wanted to kidnap the son left him after he committed suicide.  Apparently Jack was lamenting that he retired and the guy realized now others would know of his obsession so he ended it all.  Oh, and Vice raided the Raven's Cage.  The bouncer, Steve, said that they got everyone but a few dancers."

"Good, why?"

"I don't know.  But did you see the Police Chief last night?"  He slowly shook his head.  "Me either.  Apparently Darkness was his viagra and he's now your reward for all you've done for the city.  And Steve said that if anyone ever came near Darkness again, they were sure the Wrath of Caine would come down because you at least loved him as much as you do the car."

Xander came out with a yawn, naked.  "Of course he does.  Were they still on that stupid bet?"  Speed nodded so he shrugged.  "I haven't even gotten to have sex in it.  Who died?"

"The Middle Eastern guy who offered you a spot over in his palace."

"Oh, yeah, him.  He had some emerald handcuffs or something he wanted me to wear too. He was into oil and I didn't care.  He was slimly and I didn't want to leave there to be with him.  Especially after he said he'd have to castrate me so I couldn't touch his wives."  He shrugged and hugged him.  "So, anything else of good gossip?"

"Steve wants you to autograph a picture for him."

"Sure."  He yawned again.  "Not a problem.  Anything else?"

"I don't see an earring."

"Hidden treasure," Xander said simply.

"Ow," Speed said, wincing and crossing his legs.  "Very ow.  Thank you for not making me come."

"It came as a shock to me too," Horatio noted calmly.  "How did they know?"

"The night I got it I was stretching and fell outta the thong," he admitted with a small sheepish look.  "Then I had to swat two of them away."  He stole a kiss and his envelope, then smirked.  "Wow.  He really did get all the credit cards and didn't stiff me."  He looked at him.  "Why did you talk to Steve?"

"Jack was moping and we're banned."

"If we need to go back in there for a case I'll get us back in."  He handed it to Horatio.  "I'll let you march me into the bank tomorrow."  He grinned and bounced off.

"Xander, that can't be right," Horatio called, holding it up.  "Can it?"  Speed nodded. "You made sure?"

"Yeah, I about had a heart attack when I saw it."

"I had one higher but I gave it back because he wanted to use me as a body model to cut his boyfriend up," he called from the kitchen.  "Need a soda, dad?"

"No thanks."  He looked at Horatio.  "Everything has been sent to you at the station over the next few days.  That way no one had to ask where you lived.  I told Steve he could use me as well.  And the Chief's wife thought you should use some of those extra leave days for a honeymoon since he's the reward for all your hard work for the city.  That's one hell of a gold watch, Horatio.  Remember what I said about proper maintenance.  Or else."  He saluted him.  "Take tomorrow off to walk him into the bank and spoil him.  I have no idea why Vice was pissed but Steve said they were highly pissed.  Have fun hiding the check tonight too."  He grinned and left, going to tell Aiden, Danny, and Flack.  Calleigh, Eric, and Alexx would sigh at the thought of him being the reward and Flack would laugh. Aiden would cackle.  Danny would probably sigh and look at Flack for that.

"Xander," Horatio called, heading for his office to hide the check.  "What Middle Eastern gentleman was this?" he called, coming out to chase down his reward.  It was a good reward, but a very naughty one.  Not that he didn't enjoy the challenge, but apparently his reward needed to be worn out again.



Ryan Wolfe watched all the videos in order, seeing the progression from normal guy to super hot/wanted man of the world.  He was trying to figure out why.  He had no idea why but there was something mesmerizing about the way the boy danced.  If he could figure it out, he could probably win a Nobel Prize or something.   Someone knocked on his door and he turned off the DVD player and hid the tapes under the towel he'd been using to clean something, going to answer it.  "Eric?" he asked, letting him in.  "What's wrong?"

"I can't get a date," he complained, walking in.  He looked at the tapes. "You had copies made?"

"I'm trying to figure out what's so hypnotic about him so maybe we can replicate it, man."  He sat down and nodded.  "You can help.  You saw more of him than I did."

"I think it's his scent or the animal instincts or something.  It can't be anything else.  He's a normal, goofy guy."

"Yeah, but see this," Ryan said, switching back to the first tape.  "That's the first club in Montreal."  Eric frowned, watching it, shaking his head.  "Yeah, that's him."  He let that one finish and changed it to the last one in Montreal, letting him see that.  "See, better, but still not as hypnotic."

"So the change came down here?" he asked.  Ryan nodded and put in the first one down there.  "Whoa.  Big difference."  He frowned and leaned forward. "What was the difference?"

"The only difference was city, Speed being there, and Horatio.  Do you think it has something to do with him, even though he didn't even have a crush on him yet?"

"I don't know.  Go forward about a month and a half.  That's when they hypnotized the kid."  That one was found and put in and he pointed.  "Yeah, see, back to the original but not quite the same.  What about the next one."

"That one it's fully back," he admitted, putting that one in.  "Could it be the hunting instincts?  He gave up hunting, right?"

"Yeah, fully.  Speed even followed him a few night to make sure. See, I was there that night," he said as he watched.  "He was good but not sparkling.  I thought it was the hypnosis.  But what if...."

"What if the hyena spirit that he's infected with realized Horatio's its mate," Ryan agreed. "Which means he's not baiting bad guys, he's baiting his mate and whatever quality that it is in Horatio that drew the hyena to him also drew those other guys to Xander."

"Which means that it's somewhere between subconscious personality and chemical?" Eric suggested.

"It could be.  They all have that air of danger. Horatio has it but it's buried.  You can see it when he puts on the stuff that Xander bought him and in a few of his suits, but not the more mild mannered ones.  Speed was laughing about the rumors of the Wrath of Caine coming down on them for even breathing on the hummer or one of us, and they were taking bets to see if Xander had to sleep in the hummer."

"I heard about that," he admitted with a small grin.  "So, there's some underlying thing that draws all these guys to Xander and somehow his hyena or whatever picked Horatio as the best mate? If so...."

"If so, then we can predict the next psycho and keep them from hurting others getting to him.  Which is why I've been watching these back to back and figuring out how in the hell you'd prove it."

Eric relaxed, watching the boy move.  "Does it change with his moods?"

"Some. There's one that they called his 'angry' set and that one definitely seemed defiant and challenging in basic body language but also threatening and dangerous.  You gotta remember, Xander's not exactly the nicest of nice guys when threatened."

"True," Eric agreed, still watching.  "You know, this doesn't come through half as strongly on tape."

"It doesn't," Ryan agreed. "I still think if we can figure out the root cause of the obsession then we can figure out the lesser attraction model and make it more generalized so others can use it."

"Which would be nice," he agreed, looking at him.  "I still have no idea how in the hell you'd prove it."

"Me either.  I'm wondering if another stripper doing the exact same thing would trip things in a different way maybe?  Maybe call to different instincts?"

"It could be," he agreed, shaking himself clear again. "That's definitely him challenging his mate to step up.  Even I feel it."

"Yeah," Ryan agreed, falling back into the spell, Eric right beside him.  They didn't even realize they were helping each other out until they came, then they gave each other guilty looks and went back to trying to solve this mystery.  "Maybe he makes a man want to be gay," Ryan suggested.  "After all, I thought Horatio was totally straight."

"Me too," Eric agreed. "I know I'm not gay but you're not too bad."

"You either."  They went back to watching to figure this out.


Horatio looked up as Ryan walked in and closed the door.  "Mr. Wolfe, are you having a problem?" he asked.

"No, I'm having a quandary," he admitted.  He sat down in front of him. "Eric and I have been trying to figure out *why* the guys who wanted to maim, kidnap, and kill Xander wanted him.  We think we've found an underlying reason and why, but we're not sure.  Now, if we're right, then it's applicable to figuring out the next person who might come after him fairly certainly if we can find a math geek to do the odds."  Horatio leaned back, staring him down.  "Even without one, we can go on the underlying assumptions and see a lot more about attraction than we knew before. The problem is, there's three tapes missing and two incidences that skew the graph.  One was the October 16th sets.  One was the Christmas Eve sets.  The three tapes are his third one here, his one from right after the bust of the guy he spanked, and then his final one."

"So you want to view those?" he suggested.

"And we need to know if anything important, emotionally or physically, may have happened on those dates.  If so, we can predict, we think, what's going to happen with the next guy.  We do think the attraction he had, that thing that drew others to him, was the hyena looking for certain...qualities.  One of them being someone who would be strong and skilled enough to protect him."  Horatio nodded slowly at that.  "Even the psychos had that same underlying hint of predator, danger, and charisma that you do.  I'm not even going to guess why you do, it's not really important and Xander already told me point blank not to worry about it."  He grinned at him.

"What I'm trying to do is figure out whether the signals he's sending are subliminal, chemical, or a combination of both.  We have repeated episodes of the same set but only some of them are the type that're hypnotic and drawing.  Xander's tried to help.  He can pretty well gauge what sort of mood he was in by how he was moving that night.  We've already figured out that he was, for lack of a better word, horny those nights that it got more hypnotic.  But even then, the ones from Montreal were *nothing* compared to the weakest from down here, and only *after* he figured out he had a crush on you.  They got noticeably more drawing and hypnotic after that time he spoiled you rotten, dressed you up as his toy, and you guys went dancing with everyone.  Not to be insulting or anything but that could be pack behavior of some sort.  Gifting of necessities, bringing food and arranging the den aren't unheard of for the attraction of a mate in nature.  There was also a shift the night that Speed showed up to retrieve him.  As soon as he saw Speed, and you could see it in his eyes, the dance shifted.  It went from his slightly captivating at the time to almost whipped puppy levels of 'feel sorry for me' pouring off the tape."

"Which would be consistent with your theory," he agreed dryly, enjoying the hell out of this.  He already knew what his team member was trying to figure out.  "I can tell you that on the Christmas Eve one, which was a special night, we had dinner with Speed and it was a nice night.  There were some emotional moments that night, like Willow sent him a card and an ornament.  He was also feeling emotionally needy that night."  Ryan beamed at that.  "October 16th I don't know.  I don't remember anything happening. What case was that around?"

"The bunny paper.  About a week after he wore the wire in."

"He was still insecure and wondering if the person was in the audience. I suggested he go in and draw them out, because if anyone approached him it'd be then.  It's also when the thoughts changed because of the boyfriend rumors nearly getting him killed by the second killer.  We didn't catch the second killer until about a week after that if I remember right."

"Which would explain those.  The other thing Eric noticed, having been there a lot more than I was, was that the final show, you felt like you could get close, like you could almost connect to the haze he was creating, but you couldn't quite do it and it was clearly a claiming dance; you could tell that he was drawing someone out sexually but it didn't quite connect to anyone.  Which is because, we believe, you were there."

"You're right, Mr. Wolfe, it was."

He sat up.  "You already know," he realized.  Horatio smirked and nodded. "Can you tell me?  Am I on the right track?"

"You are.  The hyena was summoning anyone who *could* be her mate. He was possessed by the pack leader and pack leaders are always females among hyenas."  Ryan hit himself on the head.  "So, while in Montreal, she was drawing anyone who could do it but she wasn't very hopeful to put it nicely.  She was alone in foreign lands hunting for pack members and it wasn't working out too well for her.  Coming back here brought her back to pack lands with more of the pack around, but there was still danger.  The hypnosis freed the hunting urges and assured her she could hunt, and therefore the attraction, for lack of a better word, did pick up.  You are also correct that what she was searching for is partially chemical and partially a personality or a subliminal condition.  She had to have someone who would fit in with the hyena."

"Someone who could hunt, protect the pack, and stand up to her if necessary, but not overrule her," Ryan agreed.  "And most of the psychos fit the first three but not the last one."  He nodded at that and smirked again.  "But you fit all of them?"

"I do."

"Can I ask why?"

"No you may not."

"Sure.  I get that, it's private and none of my business anyway.  Now the big question is, can it be extrapolated out to normal people, those who have to look up what a hyena is and who don't understand pack behavior?"

"I think it can," he admitted.  "I'm not sure how you would prove it however."

"Which is where Eric's stuck," he admitted dryly. "Do we have your permission to study this as well?  Xander's already given his."

"You do, Mr. Wolfe, but you will keep it out of the office," he ordered.

Ryan agreed.  "Agreed, sir.  Not a problem with that."  He stood up and smiled. "You know, when I first came, you reminded me of the cat from the Jungle Book for some reason."  He grinned and left him alone.

"Not quite, Mr. Wolfe, but relatively nearby," he said quietly, smirking a bit.  He smiled when Xander came in.  "I take it you've been pounced by Mr. Wolfe?"

"Twice and Eric once."  He closed the door and leaned against it.  "Can you open my grades?"

"If you wish."  Xander nodded and handed them over.  He opened them and smiled, handing them to him.  "Congratulations, Xander."

"Thank you."  He looked and blinked.  "How in the hell!"  He sat down and pulled out his phone, calling the college.  "This is Xander Harris.  I just got my grades and they're all F's and I know damn well I got a B in psych 101.  She has it on her door!"  He listened to the report of computer problems and grades were being reprinted the next day.  "Thank you.  Sorry to bother you."  He hung up, "Hacker, they had to reload everything."

Horatio motioned him closer and canceled his screen saver, letting him see the college's online transcript file for Xander.  "I always go online whenever I have to take classes now.  Less worry and anxiety."  He stroked his back.  "You did good."

Xander beamed at him.  "I did.  Thank you."  He looked around then stole a kiss.  "Should I buy dinner tonight?"

"I think you'll be dinner tonight," he said smoothly, "but we're going out to eat first."  That got a shy grin.  "Go find something to wear, we're going somewhere nice.  I want to peel the dress shirt and tie off your body."  Someone knocked and Frank leaned in.  "We're looking at his grades."

"I heard about the hacker, they announced it on the radio.  What'd he get?"  He came over to look then smiled at him. "Congratulations, Xander."

"Thank you," he said proudly.  "I have to find a suit.  I'm told I'm going out to celebrate tonight."  He beamed at Horatio and winked then at Frank, who blushed. "You know, Ryan and Eric are trying to figure out why I draw psychos so they've got copies of all the tapes but three."

"I'll tell my wife, thanks."  He patted him as he walked past, waiting until he was gone.  Then he smirked at Horatio.  "You old dog."

"Frank, I don't know what you mean.  He did good, he deserves a reward."

"Horatio, you're dating a man half your age.  You can't tell me it's not a reward for both of you.  But a suit and tie?"

"Sometimes I like to see him dressed up.  It's more tempting to sit there and know what's hidden.  No one else can see what I know is there.  Speed!" he called.  He backtracked and came in.  "The grade printing got hacked but I've got the online one up."  Speed came over to look, then grinned.  "As far as I know, unless they upload them wrong, those were final as of last night."

"He deserves a good reward for that. What're you getting him?"

"Dinner out tonight and then dessert."

"Yeah, which means he's getting a ride in the hummer?" Frank teased.

"Frank, I don't know what you mean," he taunted back with a smirk.  "I'll have him back to you tomorrow night once they reload them," he said, giving them one last fond look before hitting the reload button.  What came up was nicer in one spot. "Even better."  Speed grinned. "They said by tonight at midnight."

"I'll expect a call."  He clapped him on the arm. "Make sure he can walk tomorrow when I get him back."  He handed over the report and headed back to work.

Horatio smirked at Frank, who walked off smiling.


Horatio sat down across from his mate, handing over the piece of paper he had carried in.  "Reloaded and verified.  I made sure when that one changed."

Xander looked and squealed, hugging him.  "Thank you, Horatio!"  He sat back up and smiled at the people looking at them.  "My grades."  They turned away with indulgent looks. "Thank you," he said more quietly, eyes shining.  "You helped me study, they're just as much yours as mine."

Horatio smiled.  "I didn't take the tests or notes, Xander. They're all yours."  He covered his lap with the napkin. "What did you want for a treat tonight?"

He blushed and glanced around then leaned closer.  "I heard what Frank said," he whispered.  Horatio smirked at that. "At the beach?"

"If you want," he agreed, smiling at him. "Did you order?"

"No.  I didn't know what you were in the mood for so I only got salads so far."

"That's fine."  He caught the waiter's eye and he came over.  Horatio said something quietly and the waiter walked off.  " I hope you're hungry tonight."

"Oh, I am," he agreed, smirking at him.  "Very hungry."  That got a subtle wink and a nod.  "I haven't decided if I'm working this summer or taking classes."

"Take the first session off."  Xander nodded.  "Then make that decision. We'll see what you end up doing."  Xander nodded, swallowing.  "What did you want to do if you do work?"  Xander shrugged one shoulder. "Bouncer, bartender?"

"I wouldn't mind either," he agreed quietly.  "But I'm not sure."

"We'll see what's available at that time," Horatio assured him.  The waiter came back with their salads and he nodded his thanks. The waiter also poured glasses of wine.  "You earned it."  Xander looked at him but he nodded. "You've got to get past that."

"I know."  He took a sip and forced himself not to grimace. "I'm not used to drinking."

"You shouldn't be," he reminded him.  "Take another one.  That's all I'm allowing."  Xander smiled at that assurance and took another drink and this time it was better.  "Good.  Now, tell me about that frat party Eric drug you to."

"He said I had to get used to it, that people around me drink but don't get violent and drunk."

"They do. I have a beer now and then, so do Speed and Eric."  Xander nodded.  "Are you okay with that?"

"Most of the time, just now and then it bothers me, especially when I have to pour someone in a cab."  He took another sip and dug into his salad, looking at him.  "Let's talk about happier things?"  Horatio nodded.  "Can I get a new bathing suit this weekend?"

"Tempting," Horatio agreed. "Only if I go with you.  Why don't you take up jogging with me, Xander?"  He ate his first bite, liking this place's food.  "We can add it to your usual regimen."

"Sure.  I've been cutting down on my situps since I nearly got stabbed."

"I noticed.  Is it healed?"  Xander nodded. "Then I want you to start working out again.  I don't want you vulnerable."  Xander looked at him.  "I know you realized that a normal person might get you after that, but still. You're safer if you keep up with your training.  You could take some time this summer to add to it."

"I can," Xander agreed, relaxing again.  "Can I still have a new bathing suit?"

Horatio nodded.  "Of course. We'll go Sunday since I'm off this weekend.  Speed wants you tomorrow."

"Cool."  He gave him another shy grin and dug back in.  He was hungry and he'd be needing the energy later.  This had been a fantasy of his for a while now.  Mussing up Horatio by giving him a blow in the front seat and then being taken hard by a partially dressed lover.  Horatio had liked that one too.  This was a reward system he could appreciate.  Horatio looked at him and he blushed at the heat in his eyes.  It was good having a mate to understand you.

The End.