Swimming And Guns
Xander walked into Willow's apartment, slamming the door behind him. "I've officially had enough!" he announced.
"Why?" Willow asked calmly. It wasn't often she got to see the drama queen Xander could become but when he came out to play it was best to simply watch and not participate. Participation led to conspiracies and other bad things that would make her husband freak in a bad way.
"She touched something sacred," he said as he sat down and pulled the kids into his lap to calm himself with.
"One of the hummers?"
"NO!" He looked at her. "My nemesis tried to have Horatio fired. She talked to Brousard's wife; she complained about having *working* people among them and how she was sure I had enough money to support us both, even without the foundation." She nodded slowly. "One of the other matrons told me," he finished, nearly pouting. "That means the chief's wife might go to him about that and then Horatio would end up leaving Miami for another city."
She considered it. "Have you warned him yet?"
"Not yet. I hate that I'm hurting his career. I feel like I'm destroying it by being married to him. First my stalkers, then the bigots at the station, and now this." He was certainly pouting now. Willow's son Todd was hugging him because he looked so pitiful.
"Okay, let me warn Ryan about this so he can tell the others. Then we'll see what we can dig up on the society slut. Okay?" Xander nodded, hugging the kids tighter. She text messaged her husband then got to work digging up dirt.
Ryan looked at his phone, frowning greatly at it. "Xander is making the kids sad. Warn Horatio someone's gunning for him through the chief's wife," he read aloud. He looked at Speed. "Does that make sense to you?"
"Sounds like one of the bigot patrol went to the chief's wife to get him fired so Xander went to pout at your wife again."
"Unhappy, vengeful wife when I get home then." He called Horatio. "It's Ryan. Willow just texted me. Xander's apparently depressing my offspring due to someone trying for you through the chief's wife. She wanted you warned. Not a clue, Horatio. You might check at my place and ask your spouse before I have a pissed, vengeful, and pouting wife instead of my scheming brat." Speed laughed. "She is! I pity any girl who dumps our son." He listened then nodded. "Sure, Horatio. If you need me to." He hung up. "I've got to distract Willow."
"I don't think even Xander could have that much sex," Speed joked.
"I've got ways of calming her back down. Any good husband or boyfriend does. I'm sure you can calm Calleigh down when she's in a snit."
"No, I duck and cover until she's done and then work on her. The smart man runs from her in those moods." He smirked at the head shake. "What do you do?"
"Willow's a natural fusser. I'll go home needing fussed over and talk her into sex."
Eric pulled up and got out of his hummer. "Ryan, H said to go stop her. She's hacking a rehab facility. He also said to send Xander to him." Speed snickered. "What happened this time?"
"We think someone's trying to get Horatio fired for being with Xander again," Ryan admitted. He gathered everything and headed to his car. "I'll be back after lunch."
"Don't tell her I was mean to you again," Eric called. "Last time she tried to hit me."
"You're a good excuse."
"Don't you dare, Wolfe!" Eric yelled.
"Fine, mother." He got into his car and drove away.
"Does he do that to you?" Eric complained to Speed.
"Willow knows you deserve it when I pick on you. You have that whole frat boy thing going."
"Welcome. We were done here anyway."
"Is Xander still cleaning your gun?"
"Yup. Every week. He does mine, Horatio's, and whatever he's carrying in the office."
"At least it's getting done," Eric decided. He looked around. "We're not looking at the bags of trash over there?" he asked with a point.
"According to our single witness, the other guy shouted 'you whoring bitch' and shot our vic. He didn't mention them carrying trash. Said it looked more like two friends out for ice cream. Then the sudden shouting. So either they were together or our vic told him something." He shrugged. "She wasn't paying attention to them, she had her constipated dog to cajole." Eric could only nod at that. Only in Miami. "Help me get everything inside the hummer." Eric did that so they could both go back to the labs.
Ryan walked into his house, zeroing in on the candy wrappers. "Are we teaching the kids bad habits?"
Xander grabbed the wrappers to throw them out. "Sorry, Ryan."
"She let you eat three candy bars?" His wife was usually less torturous to them than that. So apparently he had to put her into a really good mood to counter it.
"No, one was mine, he's trying to protect me," Willow admitted with a grin for him. Horatio had made it clear Xander had a two candy bar limit and Ryan had seen why up close and personal once. It was more than enough. He still had nightmares about little Eric bouncing around the way his daddy had taught him and their son Todd that day.
He took the laptop, checking before he shut it down. "Horatio knows what you were doing. He said to stop it." She pouted. "No hacking. You promised it was only for emergencies and we've still got options to stop the brat." He hauled her up, taking a kiss. "Xander, can you babysit?"
"Sure. Come on, Toddy. Let's go terrorize the Percy dog." His nephew squealed, running for the diaper bag and his shoes. "Maybe we'll go snatch Eric too." He waved at them before taking the kids off.
Ryan looked around, sighing as he led Willow off to help him clean. Then she could tease him so they could have sex. It was odd but it worked well for them and he realized she was slowly retraining his OCD issues, but that was okay too.
Xander frowned as he opened the door, finding his husband there. "It wasn't locked."
"I was giving myself time to calm down. When did you get a new car?"
"My other was a lease and it was up. Ray Jr. got to switch out too." He looked at the more modest coupe, then at his husband. "You don't like the green interior with the silver body?"
"I was more worried that we had a fourth car." He came inside, staring at the napping children. Then at his mate. "Teaching them how to destroy a socialite with attitude?" he joked.
"No, teaching them about animals. They're too young to help me do more than create chaos for her. Before you ask, I haven't talked to Ethan yet." He sat down, earning a look from the dog. "Go back to sleep, Percival. Daddy's home." The dog barked at Horatio before dropping his played-out head back down. "We played before we went over the animal book again. The landscaper you found did a really good job."
"I thought you hired him," Horatio said. He frowned. "I said we should think about one."
Xander shrugged. "I'll call tomorrow to make sure." He twitched the throw back over Eric's feet. "They did a really nice restoration job."
"Good. That's good. Any more incidences?" Xander shook his head. "Even better. Can we drop them off at their homes so we can go to dinner?" Xander grinned and nodded, calling the parents before going to get dressed. The suit he came out in got a smile and a nod.
"Rebecca called to see if we'd like to come watch her son at his debut event."
"Which sport is he in?"
"Gymnastics. They said he's pretty good. They offered him a scholarship position."
"We can go if you want and I'm not on a case," Horatio agreed. It wasn't his sport of choice but he knew Xander wanted to support his former athletics department. "Do we need to get tickets?"
"I'll check in the morning." Xander grinned at him. "You think I'm being silly, huh?"
"No, I know you want to support the department that supported you." He took a kiss as Taylor walked in and gathered the kids and diaper bags. "Willow's not coming?" he asked when he broke free.
"She asked me to drop them off. Ryan is making her clean her car or else no sex for a month," she said with a catty grin.
"Sounds like she went too far in her teasing," Xander said happily. "I wonder if he needs my riding crop from that one act."
Taylor gave him an odd look. 'I'm sure he can handle her, but when were you an actor, Xander?"
Xander beamed. "I'm not. I used to be a stripper. Di and I met in Montreal because she did most of my outfits." She blushed at that, shooing the kids out. He looked at his husband and shrugged. "I guess Di never told her."
"Apparently not," he agreed, taking another long, slow kiss. "Ready?"
"Wallet and keys." He grabbed them so he could follow wherever Horatio would lead.
"Xander, dear, have you never heard of a nanny?" Rebecca asked. She was a petite redhead who was married to the head of a mortgage company.
"Yeah, but we do n't need one. Are others complaining that I'm bringing Eric around again?"
"Not really. It's usually seen as an endearing quirk."
"I like being an active father. The times I can't, he's got two great mothers and some tolerant aunts and uncles."
"It would keep you from wearing out their good nature when you suddenly have to be out of town, like last month," she offered gently.
Xander looked at her, then snorted. "I had chicken pox, Rebecca. His mother went out of town during that convention and I broke out just after we got home. One of the board members up there had some sort of adult relapse and I was exposed by him when I got trapped up there. Di took the time to take a vacation with her lady. She left us a message on the machine. I'm really glad we didn't have to rely on Willow since she was pregnant then." He pulled Eric out of his stroller, waking him up. "Watch the talented people, Eric."
"No, your mommy didn't design them. Someone guy in a gym did," he told him with a pat on the back.
Rebecca smiled at the cuteness of Xander's son. "He's an adorable baby but a nanny would give him more stability."
"We tried that. She never got him. I get him three afternoons a week and at least 2 full days. More when his mom's coming up on a show. It's better than most couples get after a divorce. Besides, he's happy, content, and very stable. Even if I do occasionally have to go to one of his aunts. Marisol considers him like her stepson. She threatened me if I didn't let her watch him this last week. She pouted and everything."
She shook her head. "I know I invited you a week and a half ago. How long have you had him this time?"
"Nine days. His mother's humoring me," he said with a wicked smirk, turning it into a pleased smile when Horatio sat down next to them. "Hi." He stole a kiss. "Done?"
"Solved, confessed, the DA has him now."
"'Scuse me," Eric said politely.
Horatio looked at their son. "What did you feed him this time?"
Horatio stared him down. "I thought we agreed not to feed him blatant sugar rushes that would give us the child from hell."
"We did but we ran out of Life and he hates your granola cereal. So we had cookie crisp this morning. He's napped so far, Horatio. Quit worrying." He glanced at Rebecca. "She thinks we should get a new nanny."
"Why? The last one kidnaped him and she never had anything but laundry to do."
"See, told you so," Xander said happily.
"Horatio, dear, wouldn't you like to spend more time alone with Xander?" she asked.
He nodded. "I would, but people keep killing, kidnaping, and selling drugs to each other."
"Yeah, a nanny won't help the homicide rate at all," Xander agreed. "We're red and silver, right?" She nodded so he gave her a smile. "If it comes down to a choice between our kids and my obligations, Don can pick up some of the slack. Ray Jr. is my assistant until he graduates; he was raised closer to the circles I now run in than I was. I'm thinking about keeping him on while he's in college if he goes somewhere close by."
"Your grandfather didn't help you any?"
He shook his head. "My father ignored that he wasn't from immaculate conception. He was a foreman at a casket company."
"According to Patrick, he walked away when he realized he wasn't going to be spoiled for his entire life." He grinned. "I'm sure you heard how I came to Patrick's attention."
"I heard about a few wild nights when you did an open pole night," she hissed.
Xander grinned and shook his head. "Heard of Darkness?" She groaned but nodded. "'Twas me before I gave it up for Horatio. I met Patrick after we got together but he found me in Montreal while I was working up there. Said I looked just like his first son with his first wife."
She stared at him, then giggled. "You're kidding, right?" They both shook their heads. "Then... the money?"
Horatio looked at her. "He was very heavily courted by some," he said quietly. "Mostly by the delusional rich."
"I got given an estate in Dubai once," Xander added dryly. She gaped. He nodded. "I thought everyone knew after Mrs. Winter tried to snub me publically for it."
"If it was, I was out of the gossip circle," she said finally. Some things made so much more sense now. "Those two who had the fight that landed them in the pool?" Xander moaned but nodded. It explained why some of her friends blushed when they saw him. "Do you know Chastity's new girlfriend?"
"Casually. She worked at the female club associated with my old one. She was pretty good but they said her ankles were going. After the one show I had to do in drag in Montreal for a trannie convention I salute every woman who can do anything in four inch heels or higher, especially a job like that one."
She burst out laughing. "You're kidding?" He shook his head. "Please tell me you're kidding?" she pleaded. Horatio shook his head, giving her a look. "I...can't... imagine...." Xander pulled out his wallet to show her the picture, making her blush and stammer some more.
"You carry that one?" Horatio asked.
"I look at it when I have the urge to do stupid stuff." He tucked it away again. "It's kept me from going after Lorel for her last stunt."
Rebecca patted him on the knee, this was mental territory her mind could find a grasp in again and pull itself away from the pit of images she did not want to have. "Let Melody handle it, Xander. She's working on it."
"She's trying to get Horatio fired," he said impatiently. "He's one of the few sacred things in my life. My husband and my family. The foundation. The lab. You touch those and I do react. Strongly. She's about to find herself in a very bad position. Even if I have to burn every contact I have I will get anyone who comes near my husband or family."
"I'll let that be known, Xander."
"Calm down," Horatio ordered quietly. He patted Eric on the back, getting a squeak of surprise. He smiled at their son. "It's impressive," he agreed.
Xander stared. "No wonder the coaches wanted me to take tumbling lessons to help my diving," he agreed.
She looked at him. "You dive?"
"He was on the swim and diving teams," Horatio said proudly.
"I still train three days a week for the city events," Xander told her. "I also run five miles twice a week. Once with the dog and the other with Horatio. Speaking of, are we going out tomorrow, honey?"
"If you want. I'm off tomorrow," he promised, glancing at his mate. He was still staring in awe. "Which one is yours, Rebecca?"
"305. He's in line for the vault." He looked and she smiled at the cute picture the family made, Xander leaning slightly against Horatio's arm, the baby snuggled firmly into daddy's lap and playing with his other daddy's fingers.
Horatio's phone buzzed so he took it to the bathroom for some privacy. "Diana, is there a problem?" He listened to her rant. "We're watching a gymnastics match with a friend of Xander's. Her son is in his first match." He let her rant on. "Nine days? If you want him back, I'll pry him out of Xander's arms," he joked. She complained some more. "As far as I know, we'll only be stopping to get some dinner before going home. Seven should be fine," he agreed. I'm sure he wasn't stealing him, Diana. You know Xander wanted to be a hands-on father. No, he's staring in awe. That's fine. Seven." He hung up and went back to his seat. "Diana's coming to pick him up at seven."
"I was thinking about taking him to that new animated movie," he said with a pout.
"You can take him in a few days," he soothed.
Xander sighed, leaning against his side. Horatio kissed him on the temple. "Fine."
"Think of all you can do without him in the house," Rebecca suggested.
Xander looked at her. "The same stuff we do after he's in bed?" he countered.
She smirked t that. "Probably." She clapped for her son's performance.
Eric hung up, looking at his mother. "Di wants to know if you can help her keep her son for more than three days in a row."
His brother-in-law snorted. "They need her to babysit again?" he asked bitterly.
Eric shook his head. "She's last on the list of babysitters. No, she got him back for all of a night when Xander picked him up again. That was nine days ago. She's claiming kidnaping." Marisol snorted. "She is. Xander never lets anyone watch his son unless it's an emergency or a dangerous situation."
"But that week," their other sister started.
"Xander caught chicken pox," Marisol said firmly.
"Um-huh," Eric agreed. "I spent two weeks trapped over there bored out of my mind while H took care of him. Di was in Barbados but unreachable. That's why Momma had Eric that long." That couple looked stunned. Eric snickered at the looks they gave them. "Xander's so hands-on with all the kids around him Willow had to take Liz home to get custody of her. Marisol's will probably be over there all the time too." His mother shook her head. "He'll pout."
"Let him," she snorted. "I can steal the baby back for us."
"We'll watch you to see how you do it," Eric joked. "I know I can't. He pouted Speed to swearing when he wouldn't let him babysit. Wolfe had to repossess his earlier today too. I'm not sure if H knew they Toddy and Liz for the last two days. Cases have been insane." He yawned.
Marisol's phone rang. "Hello?" She smirked. "Hi, Taylor. I don't know, let me ask Eric. Where's the gymnastic's meet?"
"College. It's a home match. Probably padded the basketball court again. Why?"
"They want to take him to dinner with them."
"Check the sports stadium complex."
She repeated that, smiling. "Not a problem, Taylor. You be careful and have a nice dinner." She hung up. "Xander snuck him off?"
Eric shook his head, giving her a look. "Di was probably busy so he told her then. She knew where he was."
"True, not like he was really kidnaped," Marisol agreed.
"Been there, done that," Eric agreed bitterly. "Her sentencing is next month."
"Hopefully Xander can hold his temper," Marisol offered.
Their mother gave them a long look. "His husband will have him well in hand," she promised them. "That's what spouses are for. If you two had one, you'd know that."
"Hold on," the brother-in-law said, stopping his nibbling. "Xander, goofy, cute, former stripper Xander, is dangerous?"
The two siblings and their mother shared a look. Eric finally looked at them. "Xander's got a lot of experience protecting himself," he said carefully.
"That's wise with how many deranged people he draws," their sister agreed.
Their mother tutted. "Remember those stories I told you about that place near LA?" Their sister nodded slowly.
"Xander grew up and learned to hunt there," Eric told her. "He's also good in explosives, tactics, and survival with how bad his parents were. This was before he was a stripper. Speed came back there. That's when he took over dad duty for Xander and Willow."
"Xander's cute and cuddly until someone tries for his family," Marisol offered, stroking her stomach. "I almost pity the clique of socialites who are trying to work against him. Especially the one who tried to get Horatio fired."
"Horatio made Willow stop hacking her life," Eric told her. His sister gave him a 'get real' look. "I know. Everyone's trying to keep Xander calm. So far we think he's still plotting."
Marisol patted him on the cheek. "He's already started, Eric. Her reputation won't last that long." He grinned at that. "It's going to be brutal. Willow was joking about giving vengeance demons lessons." He laughed. "I think they were serious."
"They probably were," he agreed happily. "Xander considers Horatio sacred. His whole family and the lab too." His mother smiled at that. "I heard he had to shoo someone away from Marisol at the spa." She nodded. "General picking or something else?"
"Called me a faghag concubine." She smirked. "Xander verbally spanked her quite well and made her cry."
"I was proud of him," their mother agreed. "He stopped when she started to cry." She put food in front of them. "Eat."
"Momma, dinner was only an hour ago," Marisol complained. Her pout made her start eating but she and Eric shared a look.
Willow looked up as a looming presence walked closer, smiling. "Thank you for coming down, Agent Fornell. Can I get you lunch?"
"I wouldn't mind a nice salad," he agreed. The waiter materialized, poured water, and gave him a look. "That salad with the orange pieces please." He disappeared. "Okay, you called," he offered once they were alone.
"Some of the society twats have been bothering Xander so I did some research. I have one making illegal trips to Cuba to buy cigars. I wouldn't care if she were bringing refugees but she's doing it for cigars."
"Any drugs?" She shook her head. "Then ATF would probably handle that. What else did you dig up once Caine ordered you to stop?" he asked tolerantly.
"One giving the CIA false information. One's dating an assassin. She may not know that but she is. Two do enough coke to keep a whole village at work by themselves. The other seems clean but something's off with her. Since Horatio and Ryan both told me to let Xander handle it, I thought you might be able to use it instead." She dimpled at him, making him smirk. "All right, NO ONE hurts my Xander-buddy or else I go from witch to bitch in nanoseconds flat. They tried to get Horatio fired and everything. I also told his sponsor that he wasn't behind any downfalls they might have. I was. She thought I was nice and cuddly too."
Speed sat down next to her. "This could make things really difficult for him, Willow," he cautioned.
"I told Melody I was behind it. I also told her Xander was my first son and I'm the definition of overprotective mother about him. She laughed. Oh well. Am I getting your lunch too, Timmy?"
"I already ate. Horatio told you to let them handle it."
"I will. Any of them left he can have."
Fornell chuckled. "What she found were federal crimes, Detective Speedle."
Speed looked at him. "Aiden and I took over parenting her and Xander in Sunnydale. I'm supposed to worry if she gets him shunned. Or ruins her husband's career." He gave her a pointed look. "Isn't he getting sworn in about two months from now?"
Willow huffed but pulled out her phone, calling Xander. "Put Melody on." She waited. "Melody, Willow Wolfe. While I was helping Xander extract his vengeance I came across evidence of some fed-level crimes. My husband's a cop and will soon be a judge. I'm sorry but I can't not turn them in. Xander had no idea. I'm meeting with a fed I do some computer consulting work for. Don't let him be blamed, okay?" she finished in a cheerful tone. She hung up. "Done," she told Speed. "Go tell the bigger nag." Speed groaned but left them alone so he could warn Horatio and Ryan.
"Cute," Fornell offered. "Let's see the proof." He moved so the waiter could put down his plate, nodding his thanks. She handed over the individual folders, letting him read through them while they ate. "Very thorough, Willow. Good work. I agree, there is something odd about that one girl. The others....." he trailed off with a cruel smile. "Probably think they're above the law."
"Pity," she agreed. She ate one last bite then wiped her mouth off. She smiled, saluting him with her glass of water. "People who hurt Xander get the short end of the stick up their hiney. Only I get to upset him that way." He laughed at that. "I don't do it on purpose but only I get to."
He nodded. "He's lucky to have a friend like you at his back, Willow. I can even ignore you hacking into my email."
"I've got to stay in practice," she offered with a sweet grin.
"Quit doing things you can get caught for," he ordered tolerantly.
"Has Gibbs looked those over?"
"Yup. They caused his geek to get very drunk." She beamed proudly. "Have any more?"
"Not that I'm willing to turn over. Oh, and I let you catch that persona so you know when it's me." She put down money before leaving.
Fornell smirked. "Check," he called. The waiter brought I over. He covered the extra dollar and tip. It was the least he could do since she had given him things to torment a lot of people above him when they got calls about freeing their children.
Horatio looked up as Fornell and two flunkies came up to his door. "I heard she hadn't given up."
"If she wasn't married, I might make her my third wife," he joked, smirking evilly. "We're having to redecorate our interrogation room due to a suicide. I'm borrowing yours. Do you want to watch the fun?"
Horatio moaned. "This will cause hell with the foundation," he complained.
"She called someone to own up to it; said your boy wasn't involved. He has deniability. Coming?" Horatio nodded, following him to where seven young women were waiting in an interrogation room. The other was by herself. "There's something odd about her. I'm doing her separately." He walked into the room, leaving his guards at the door. "I am Deputy Director Fornell of the FBI, ladies. We are here because someone called us about your bad habits."
"That *gayboy* narked, didn't he?" one sneered.
Fornell shook his head. "No, someone who was trying to protect him did. Nearly one of his stalkers but not quite that psychotic." They gaped. "The fact is Mr. Harris draws a great many people who want to cuddle, protect, or own him. I know a few agents in multiple agencies that want him. One of his...fanclub did some research on you ladies. They called me to have lunch and handed over the files on the table. One of you has already been taken by ATF for many trips for cigars. One of you is suspected of helping her assassin boyfriend. Two of you are so far up your dealer's asses that the DEA is *begging* for you. The rest have various minor penalties on your heads." One girl started to cry. "Good instincts, girl. I am *all* that is standing between you and some really horrible prison attire. There's no such thing as designer prison jump suits," he sneered. "Or prison spa time."
Another started to cry. "If we tell you, do we have to do time? I couldn't handle prison."
He shrugged. "That depends on your charges and what we can work out, young lady."
One shook her head slowly. "Am I dating an assassin?"
"No, you're here because you carry illegal things into the country and across state lines." She turned her head to get sick. He looked at the girl second on the left, who was still looking shocked. "You're dating the assassin."
"Benjamin?" He handed over the file and she got sick too. "Oh god, oh god, oh god oh god oh god," she muttered over and over. She started to rock in her seat, crying as she read it.
Horatio walked in, taking her to a separate room. "May I?" She stared at him. "If you didn't know, didn't help him, and cooperate, they can't hurt you," he offered. "I'll help you if you didn't know."
"I didn't! I swear I didn't!" she said, heading toward hysterics. "I didn't know anything, Horatio! I promise I didn't and I'm *SO* sorry I was helping them pick on your husband."
He nodded. "I'll tell him, Hillary. For now, let's see what you can tell us. All right?" She nodded, calming back down again. He brought out some paper and a pen. "Let's start with the name he's using with you."
Xander bounced up as his husband walked in. "What did she do?" he demanded. "Melody said she got someone in trouble and some suits came to raid the charity luncheon we were at for the pound."
"She found evidence of drug smuggling and one young woman who needed our help." He took a kiss. "She did what she was supposed to by turning them in, Xander." He grimaced. "Have you seen any overt drugs?"
"Not like I hang out with the nightlife crowd," he pointed out. He followed him into the bedroom, helping him change. "They're going to think I put her up to it."
"Fornell told them she was one of your usual fanclub of stalkers and near-stalkers." He took a second kiss. "It'll be fine. They know you're married to an officer of the law."
"Un-huh. Which is why I get glared at whenever someone gets arrested in the group." Horatio frowned at that. "They do."
"The more I hear, the less I like you being around them, Xander." He pulled him closer. "Too many of them only like you because you have money now."
"I can start to cut back to the charity and a few notable things starting next month. I already planned to cut back so I'd have more time to spend with baby Horatio," he promised with a grin. "Plus classes."
Horatio cuddled him. "I like that idea. I know you're enjoying the positive attention but a number of them are spoiled brats. I don't want to have to deprogram you from their cult." Xander chuckled. "You'll cut it back to charity events and the occasional polo match?" He nodded, making Horatio relax. "Thank you, Xander. I don't mind everything. Events like the meet with Rebecca are fine. I also know that there's some things you *have* to go to because you can't snub the one throwing the event. I'll try to be at those with you so they can't try their crap again."
"She's avoiding me now," he noted philosophically. He smiled. "I'm doing the All-City meet next week."
"I thought Eric said you two couldn't because you had to win or place high enough at one of the three earlier ones," he said, pulling Xander onto the bed to sit beside him.
"You do. I won one, got third in another." Horatio stared at him, making him fidget. "What?"
"I expected to still come to your matches," he complained.
"You were busy. I'm telling you because I want you at this one. It'll mean taking a few hours off since it's on a Saturday afternoon and you don't have that one off, but I thought I might be able to bribe you," he offered, playing with his mate's hand.
Horatio pulled his hand away, making the pouting man look at him. "Xander, I *want* to come to *all* of your matches," he said firmly. "That's one of the things a husband is good for. We do more than change lightbulbs and get you juice."
"You were working. The victims needed you more," he assured him quietly. "I'm telling you now because this is an important one. I don't need a cheering section at the more minor ones. The important ones I want people there. I even made invitations so you can tell the others and brag." He kissed him then stood up. "The job has to come first, Horatio. I know that. I'm not disappointed. I will be if you can't make this match since it's an important one. I need it to get to the state meet."
Horatio swallowed. "If at all possible," he promised. Xander smiled and it warmed his insides. "We didn't celebrate your win?"
Xander shrugged. "We had the good chinese that night." He grinned again. "Think Di, Taylor, and Eric would come watch? I know she's mad that I kept the baby so long last time."
"I'll call her tomorrow." He pulled Xander back into his lap. "Does bigger Eric know?" Xander shrugged. "You didn't brag?"
"I didn't break a record. Besides I thought it might be mean since work kept him from going."
"He might be a little jealous, but I'll try to get him and Speed off that afternoon." He took another kiss. "You didn't tell me, for that I should be upset." He took another one, getting a smile back. "You know I'll always try to be there, right?" Xander nodded. "You didn't even leave a clipping around. Did Ray go?"
"To the one I got third in. I have no idea why your brother was there." He looked startled. "He disappeared before I could ask him and I haven't seen him since."
"Maybe we should have a family dinner."
"I don't want to make Eric feel bad," he protested.
"I'm sure he won't be. It'll make him want to train harder for next year." He pulled the phone over to call everyone. "Eric, Horatio. Want to come over for dinner tonight? No, Xander was keeping an achievement from us all." He grimaced. "That's fine. I'll tell you tomorrow. Have fun and be safe." He hung up. "He and Speed are already in the club."
Xander shrugged. "That's usually how it happens. You want to brag and they're busy. We can have dinner after the match. I'll have some really powerful competition so I'll probably need it." He snuck a kiss. "Should I warm up the frozen lasagna?"
"That's fine," he agreed, watching his mate head off like this was nothing to him. He knew better since he told him about *this* one. He went into the office to look up anything in the papers about the other meets. Plus to call his brother so he could throw a fit about not being told about this.
Horatio walked into his office the next morning, scowling. Eric took one look at him and followed up to his office. "What?"
"Xander is selfish." He took off his jacket and put it on the back of his desk chair, turning to look at him. "He didn't want you to get upset so he didn't tell any of us he's been in two competitions you couldn't make due to work." He handed over the invitation. "Manipulate yours and Speed's schedules so you can watch him."
Eric opened it, staring. "He competed without us knowing?" he demanded. "I'm coaching him!"
"He thought you'd get upset, Eric. You couldn't make those events."
Speed leaned in. "Is this why Xander called to warn me about yelling?" Eric glared, handing over the invitation. Speed nodded once. "Did we protest not knowing?" he asked Horatio.
That got a nod. "I did. He said we were busy and he didn't want Eric to feel bad. He said they were minor matches but he wanted us at this more important one."
"If he can get one of the five spots from State, he can go to the Nationals," Eric said more quietly. "Last time I timed him he was the bottom of the upper pack for speed. A decent diver but not Nationals' quality." He glared at Horatio. "I'm taking the day off." Horatio pulled out the articles he had printed off, letting him snatch them.
Speed looked. "Wasn't that your old time when you went to State?"
"Yeah," he agreed. "I'll be back tomorrow, guys." He walked off, well stomped off but he would never admit to throwing fits. He drove out to the house, finding Xander getting ready for his run. "Grab your gear and let's go," he ordered. Xander blinked at him. "If I'm coaching you, I should have been there. Now, let's go!" The dog growled but a glare ended that. "Xander."
"I didn't want to upset you because you were working," he said weakly.
"You also didn't mention it since then either. I want your swim journal and we're going to make sure you're ready for All-City." Xander sighed but went to gather that for him, letting him read his journal on the way to the pool they used. "Your first was All Around?" Xander nodded silently. He hit him with the book. "I don't care if you thought I'd turn into a frog from the jealousy, that's something you brag about! The same as the third in All Around was since it was in your weaker area!" Xander flinched. "How could you not tell us! We're *family*, Xander!"
"You guys were really busy and I thought it'd make feel bad, Eric."
"You're my student! Not only do I *need* to know this, we all *want* to know this!" He hit him with the journal again. "You celebrate any medal performance and let me tell you how to improve."
"Yes, Eric," he agreed quietly.
Eric snorted, glaring at him. "I want to see what you can really do, Xander. Nothing cute. Nothing funny. I want a State or National level performance." Xander nodded, parking so they could head inside. "Yes, before you say it, you *are* going to Nationals." Xander glanced at him. "Suck it up." Xander swallowed but nodded. He signed them in, leading the way to the dressing room. They got changed in silence, Xander going out to warm up while Eric got his stopwatch out of his locker. He calmed himself until he was Xander's coach, not a jealous rival. Then he went out there. "Warm up." He sat on the edge of the pool, watching him.
Eric found Ray Caine later that afternoon. He made the man look at him by forcing his head up and around. "We don't let Xander compete without us being there for a reason, Ray. It's because he discounts himself. Next time, you call us!" He stomped off, heading to tell Horatio how it had went.
Ray shook his head. "The boy has some strong protectors," he muttered, going back to his beer.
Eric found Horatio in his office. "I'm a really good coach or your boy has talent," he announced as he put the journal down on the desk. Horatio flipped to the last page to read, then looked at him. "He has it if he wants to devote the energy to it. He may make the platform if he can shave off another few tenths of a second. We need to be there for All- City. He'll need the encouragement to win."
Horatio smiled. "If at all possible. The whole family will be there," he assured him. "Di's going to be in New York with the baby and Taylor but the rest of us will be there."
"Good. I'm going to pout now. We need to do some extra diving practices soon too." He walked off to sulk while he worked.
Calleigh hugged him on his way past. "You're not too old to go back," she offered quietly. "Train with him for next year. Even though it would be a World Games year." She left him alone to think.
Eric grimaced. "I'd need to train a hell of a lot to make it that far up."
"Both of you would," Ryan said from the doorway. "How was he? Willow said he wanted us at Nationals if he went but before then he said he'd feel dumb in front of her because she picked on him about his speedo in high school."
Eric snorted. "That doesn't surprise me. He'll win if he gives it his best, plus a few new dives. I'm behind on teaching him. He's been doing some off some event tapes." He grimaced. "I'm surprised he hasn't sprained his back yet."
"Not that anyone would know if he did," Ryan reminded him.
"True. Xander doesn't even tell H when he's hurt. He swam with stitches in the past."
"Tape it for the rest of us, that way Willow can see too." He grinned as he walked off.
Eric grinned, going back to work. Xander had some heavy support in the department and he would too if he went back.
Xander looked at the crowd, stretching before the event started. No one was there yet. He called. "Horatio?" The answer of 'the prosecutor is an idiot' didn't cheer him up but the 'I'll be there as soon as I can' did. The 'win for me' made him grin. "I'll try. Dad and Eric?" 'Brousard' was that answer. He hummed. "Okay. Get here as soon as you can. Be safe and slay him verbally for this." He hung up, going back to his warmup. He looked around, waving at his former coaches, getting nods back. Xander dropped himself into the proper mindset - nearly the one he had when he hunted but not quite. He stepped up for his first race, doing a last few stretches before getting into position on the block. A judge came over to check one guy's number, switching him and another person. Apparently he was in the next heat.
"100 meter butterfly!" the announcer called.
Xander nodded to himself. Good to know. The pistol went off and he leapt in.
Eric and Speed walked in, heading to the stands. They found spots but Eric moved them down near the coaches. "Hey," he said quietly.
"When is Harris coming back?" the dive coach asked.
"He's only doing six hours next semester," Speed offered quietly. "Their second child is due in late April."
The coaches grunted at that. The swim coach looked at Eric. "You did good with him, Delko. He won his first two-out-of-three. Placed second in that one to one of our boys."
"He didn't tell us he had competed in the other two," Speed complained.
"His husband?" the dive coach asked.
"Court," Eric complained. "He'll be here as soon as he's done." He looked around. "There's Ray Jr. and his dad."
"Sr's got a rehab buddy in one of the distance events," Speed offered. "I asked."
"If it helps him I'm all for supporting that," Eric agreed. He cheered at Xander's newest time. "Second's not bad for his weaker stroke."
"Good time," both coaches grunted.
"Other guy yours?" Speed asked.
"Third place. The guy in first only does that race every year," the dive coach offered, glancing at him. "Did Harris gain weight?"
"Muscle," Eric told him. "He's up to five miles twice a week."
"It'll show in the distance events," the swim coach assured them. "Our boy is lazy."
"He's disappointed. His mom's not here," Eric said. "Why not?"
"Plane issues," he complained. They stared down their student. "You can do better." He nodded and got back into it.
Horatio sat down next to Eric just before the diving started. "I hate the DA. Perthenes took a deal for ten years."
"For intentionally running over his daughter when he found out she was pregnant?" Speed demanded. Horatio nodded. "Talk about lenient justice."
"I said the same thing," he noted. "How was he?"
"Four firsts, two seconds," Eric offered. "One withdraw. He cramped during his last distance event. His bicep again, H."
"I'll work on it for him tonight." He caught his mate's eyes, smiling at him. Xander grinned and waved, going back to his new stretching. They watched as his first dive was called. He did a fairly conservative and low scored dive. He got all the possible points but it was still conservative. "Testing the judges?"
"Giving himself a rest," Eric said. "He finished his last distance event ten minutes ago."
"Boy's got stamina," the dive coach offered. "His others higher?" Eric grunted. "Delko?"
"Depends on which one they accepted. If they took his alternates, only a little bit." They watched the others then Xander came back. His dive was announced. Xander shot him a grin before getting into positions. Three twists, one and a half rolls into a good position. "A bit off perfectly straight but not bad." The dive coach gave him a look. "He belly flopped the first time he tried it. I only taught it to him last week."
"Screw the foundation, we need him back."
"It's one of the things that drives him," Horatio said quietly. He cheered for the high scores.
"We'll be going over that one and his last one before State," Eric told him. Both coaches gave him a look. He only grinned. "I got him perfect on the next one." Eric watched the leader dive. "Xander will take second," he announced. "That guy's willing to kill for it." Both coaches nodded. The third dive went okay, what they had expected. The last one the other guy was stiff and went conservative. Xander pulled out something flashy. He pulled it off nearly perfectly. That tied him and the other guy, getting a cheer from their section. The judges conferred and decided to do a tie breaker. The other guy did something of medium difficulty. Xander looked at them, getting a sign from Eric. He nodded and told the judges. It was one of his first ones. Same difficulty but worth slightly more points. He took his position and dove, making Eric smile.
"Eric?" Horatio asked when Xander got a lower score by a tenth of a point.
"You'd be cleaning up his body if he lost to a duffer," the dive coach said. "Xander qualified for diving and his main events. It's enough for him."
Horatio nodded, he could understand that. The standings and All Around were announced, Xander getting third there. He walked down there, taking his rightful hug. "I'm proud, Xander," he whispered. Xander beamed at him. "What did you want to celebrate with?"
"To send Don a copy of the tape and a family dinner?" Ray Jr. squealed and pounced. "Thanks." He shook hands with his rival. "Good job, man. I look forward to State."
"I do too. Nice fourth dive," he said with a deep voice touched with a hint of Eastern European accent. "Are you on your college team?"
"I was until life made me drop out for a few semesters. I've got one of the team's former members coaching me in our spare time."
"Spare time?" Eric snorted as he joined them. "Not until after State, Xander." He shook the guy's hand. "Good job. I look forward to seeing you dive at State." That got a gracious nod and the boy walked off to find his supporters. "Great job, Xander. Only a few things to work on." Xander beamed, hugging him. "Let me get the coach's copy so we can go over it Tuesday." He walked off to find the person over that. He'd sneak it into the AV lab to duplicate for them so Ryan could bribe his own copy off the tech. "Horatio, should I pick up something for dinner?" he called as he walked off.
Horatio smiled at his boy. "Pick up some steaks. I'll take him home once I pull him off Speed."
Speed gave him one last squeeze. "I'm proud, but I'm still going to kick your ass for not telling us about the other ones," he whispered, earning a grin and a nod. "Let H do your arms." He went to follow his ride.
"They said you cramped. Let's head home to do that." Xander accepted his criticism and praise from his former coaches then they were off for home and a well-deserved cuddle.
Don's lieutenant came to her doorway when he walked in. "Why is your nephew sending you things here?" she demanded.
"Because I seem to be here eighteen hours a day for some reason so I never get anything at home for weeks." She grimaced, tossing over a padded envelope. "What's this?"
"A CD or DVD and some paper." She went back to her desk.
Don loaded the disc into his computer, clicking on the icon to run it. He smiled at the races that had been edited for them to see, calling Danny. "Miami sent up film of Xander's last event. DVD. Sure." He hung up, taking it with him over there so they could watch it together. The note was an invitation to the state event. Danny made some microwave popcorn out of the snack machine and they all settled into the AV lab to watch it together. Mac came in scowling so Don handed over the bag of popcorn. "Xander's last match."
Mac sat down to watch it with them. They could do this while waiting for things to run this one time. This was an important event that they all wanted to see.
Xander gave a gentle smile as he was pounced at his next charity luncheon on Monday. "Thank you." He grinned at the others who would be sitting with them. "The best thing was that Dad, Eric, and Horatio got to be there for most of it." He smiled as Rebecca came over. "I her congratulations are in order for your son's silver finish."
"Thank you, Xander." She kissed him on the cheek. "He said the swim coaches were talking to one of the gymnastics coaches about you?"
"I went to one of them to get some advice on tumbling."
"Why?" one of the tolerant husbands around them asked.
"Because I needed it for my diving," he said simply. He knew they didn't care but he smiled at Rebecca, she'd understand. "I took third All Around at the All-City meet," he said proudly. "Dad, Eric, and Horatio all made it to watch me dive."
She sat down in an empty chair. "You're still swimming? I thought you were talking about the past tense."
"And dive," he agreed modestly. "I did my first semester on the college's team before the Foundation got handed to me." He burped. "'Scuse me, burritos from Taco Bell for breakfast; I slept in."
"You never said you compete, Xander," Rebecca chided. "Does third let you into State?"
He nodded. "I finished high in all but the race I cramped and second in diving. That'll be a long weekend," he sighed. "I hope Brousard will give them the time off." He looked at her. "He had Eric, Marisol's brother and my coach, and dad finding who broke into his office instead of being there from the start. Horatio was in court."
"When is State?" Melody asked as she joined the group. He handed over an invitation. "Thank you, dear. I'll try to be there and let the others know." She looked at the date. "Hmm. Bess is going to be disappointed in both of us."
"Her husband ran marathons, she'll understand," Rebecca offered, craning her neck to look at the date. "When do the college's go?"
"Then," he admitted. "I've got to shave a few more seconds off my time to compete heavily with them."
"I thought you only watched polo," another husband said. Xander shook his head. "Any other sports?"
"I run five miles twice a week. Sometimes three times if Horatio can't go on our normal day. I keep up with my sword practice."
"You fence?" Melody asked.
He patted her hand. "No, dear, I use the big, heavy swords. I can kick any other knight's ass too." She giggled at that. "I can." He smiled at Ethan as he came over. "Hey, Ethan. Issuage?"
"One. The new girl is *how* old?"
"Eleven. They gave her to Joyce since something seems to have happened to her guardian and Watcher."
Ethan looked at him, seeing the anger in the dark e yes. "You'll help?" Xander nodded. "You're sure?"
"Definite. As long as you become an excellent parent, man. Ripper would too."
"Thank you." He nodded before walking off.
Xander looked at the curious faces. "That group in England who has it out for me has a new reason for me to kick their butts. She's eleven and very sweet. They're using her as a pawn. Ethan wants to rescue her."
"I heard you have contacts within the FBI," Rebecca noted dryly.
"Ryan Wolfe's wife Willow is my best friend. She consults on computer stuff now and then. My semi-stalker buddy sent it to her and she called the Deputy Director she works with. She wanted to eviscerate them, but Horatio told her she couldn't."
"A true friend will help you hide the bodies," Melody quipped.
Xander looked at her then smirked. "Not if Horatio hears." They all laughed. He smiled. "Excuse me, I've got to beat the new Chief's ear for a few minutes." He got up and started over to where he was sitting, handing over the paperwork he had inside his inner coat pocket. "Dad, Eric Delko, and my husband need that weekend off since I made it to State," he said firmly. "You had better hope and *pray* that I never hear that you kept my coach and my father from coming sooner to my last match," he said very quietly and very coldly. "Even I need a cheering section now and then, especially with bigots like you trying to destroy my husband." He got an evil glare. Xander leaned down. "I know worse than you'll ever hope to be," he promised. "They like me. Horatio kept me from becoming one of them. Consider that the next time you attack my family or the lab." He went back to his seat, all smiles and grins again.
Horatio answered the summons to the Chief's office with grim humor. "Xander finally say something about you pulling Eric and Speed in to work your office on their requested time off or about you asking the judge to do the sentencing on a Saturday?" he asked in greeting.
The chief glared at him. "You're treading on thin ice with me already, Caine."
Horatio tossed over a letter. "That's from three different groups saying they'd support us if we sued the department, sir. You know my husband needs positive encouragement. You read people more than well enough to realize what his past was life. I don't appreciate you trying to destroy his self-esteem or my lab."
"He's a former stripper!"
"Yes, he was. He had a very bad problem with his education. That's why he went there instead of a better job."
"He told me he was mentally unhinged and dangerous."
Horatio smirked coldly. "What he told you was that he had nearly become as evil as anything he ever fought as a teenager. It was Speed who kept that from happening. Maybe you should use some of your less than desirable contacts to do some research, Chief. You might learn something about my husband. It only took Ethan Rayne two days once he got here." The Chief flinched at that name. "I'm proud of what Xander's become since he left Sunnydale. Even if no one else is. Is there anything else, sir?"
"Go!" he ordered. Horatio nodded and left. He paused before calling Ethan. "You obviously know the boy, Ethan. Why didn't you warn me?" Pause. "I was your student, Ethan. He's threatened to destroy me." He sat back, listening to his teacher tell him exactly who he had butted heads with. It was very not good for his career. He hung up, considering everything. "The White Knight and the White Witch are here. Married into my lab. No wonder the portents said dread and caution if I took the job. I wonder how he knew about me... He can probably sense me," he decided. He took the lab off his mental list of support. He had heard the rumors about what happened to those who touched what Caine felt was sacred. He didn't want the boy bringing the Wrath of Caine down on his head. Especially if the boy backed him up. There was no telling how they could screw up his plans for the city.
He'd have to put up with the gay couple and the few irregularities, like weekends off for matches, to keep Caine out of his hair and the pair of do gooders out of his business. He called his wife. "Harris and the Wolfes are untouchable," he said in greeting. "Harris is the White Knight of Sunnydale. Mrs. Wolfe is the White Witch." He winced at the sound of a breaking glass. "Caine hinted that he knew I practiced and she'll definitely be able to tell. So therefore they're untouchable and we'll play nice with them. We can't afford to have them bring too much attention to me." He smiled at her assurance she could play nice. "Thank you, dear. I know you can. I love you. Oh, Ethan said he'd have us over to dinner soon, dear. Yes, he knew Harris. Apparently he had him possessed a few times. Respects the boy for being so strong and tough. No, don't suck up yet. For now, stay neutral about them.
"Yes, the fight between our types of powers is probably why we'll never get along. Remember, the Wolfes will be joining polite society when he's sworn in as well. Yes, I'm quite sure. Ethan said so. He told me all about them. So play nice enough but don't suck up. Thank you, dear. I'll be home in a bit. I've got a headache. Caine always gives me one." He hung up and closed up the office then went home. He came back into his office, calling his former supervisor since he was in town. "Ethan told me who Harris was," he said quietly. The man told him why the others were drawn to Xander and why he was. "Fine, you were right. I should've left Caine alone." He hung up and now he went home.
Horatio found Xander in the backyard on the swing. "What did you say to him?" he asked as he sat next to him.
"The truth. I nearly became what he feared. That even I needed support sometimes." He looked at him. "I didn't mean to make things worse for you, Horatio."
"You didn't. I said the same things, Xander." He cuddled him. "Do we have any idea what his problem is other than we're together?"
"He's a chaos sorcerer. Ethan's former student. Since you're so strong in the Light, it's a natural distaste." He snuggled in, relaxing when the arms welcomed him. "That and he's repressing his desires for you. He probably wants to make you dirty and messy so you join him on his side."
Horatio smirked slightly. "I wondered why Ethan warned me about him." Xander grinned at that. "Did you hand in the leave forms for us?" Xander nodded. "Who forged the signatures since Speed and Eric are still out in the Everglades on that case?"
"Marisol." He looked up. "She goes in for the first ultrasound next week." That got a smile. "She said you get to go to that one."
"I will be if I can get away for the two hours." He kissed him on the hand. "Never forget that I love you."
"Are they sending you on an undercover where you can't know me?"
Horatio looked at him. "No, I talked them out of it using Erica Sykes as a reference. How did you hear about that?"
"Gossip when I brought in the new pictures of Eric." He looked up at him again. "Frank warned me the bad Feds were in."
Horatio grunted. "There is too much attention in our lives for that to work. I suggested they bother a few of Grissom's guys." He gave him a squeeze. "Is anyone from New York coming down for State?"
"They don't think they can. Sheldon's off that weekend so he might but they're in the middle of the trial against that one scumbag who came after Danny."
"Then I'll listen for Danny to suddenly show up."
"Can I splurge and fly them in for Nationals if I make it?" Horatio nodded. "Thanks." He got comfortable and smiled into his chest.
"They're friends and family. I'd expect it. You don't have to sneak and do it." Xander grinned at that, he could feel it. "Weren't we going to talk about some renovations for over here?" Xander nodded, looking at him again. "Did we make a decision?"
"Eric's father has the three I liked for you to make a final decision," he offered quietly. "Whenever you're ready."
He called over there. "Mrs. Delko, Horatio Caine. No... We have Eric?" he asked.
"He's napping," Xander admitted sheepishly.
He kissed him on the head. "I love how much time we have with him." He heard the laughter over the phone. "Your spouse was working on some remodeling plans for us. Can we steal him for dinner? I'll cook," he assured her. "If you insist. I know we were going to watch Xander practice later. Of course. Is he back yet?" He smiled. "I was hoping it wouldn't be another night spent there. Thank you. Two hours is fine." He hung up. "We were invited over for dinner so she could see the son."
Xander nodded. "That's fine. I pulled out some stew meat but it's in the fridge. Eric and I can do stew for tomorrow when Willow brings her horde over." He snuck a kiss, smiling at the dog as he joined them. "He did very good today in class. We also got him his flea and heartworm meds today. The vet thought he was charming."
"Good." He heard the growl, looking in the direction the dog was. "Yes?"
Xander looked over. "Giles. Horatio, this is Rupert Giles. Giles, this is my husband Horatio Caine. Did Ethan call you?"
"He did." He looked at the dog. "I won't hurt your boy," he promised gently.
"Back down, Percival," Xander ordered. The dog quit growling and the boy grinned a goofy grin again. "We do very well in obedience class."
"I would assume so," Giles agreed as he moved closer. "May we speak, Xander?"
"Horatio knows about our past." Giles looked stunned. "He's my *husband*, Giles. I told him when he asked. Then Willow embarrassed me by telling more."
"I...I see." He looked at Horatio. "You must be very good to him. I do hope it continues."
"No one is allowed to hurt Xander, not even me," he assured him. The threat was implied and he knew it was caught. "Do you need Willow as well?"
"No, Xander can fill her in." He moved closer, letting the dog sniff him. "He's well trained."
"Thank you," Xander said proudly. "What's going on?"
"You're aware Ethan wants to take the new girl?"
"Willow and I agree that even Janus would be pissed about her being called at her age." Eric snuck out and crawled in with them, staring at this new person, who stared back in horrified fascination. "My son Eric. My friend Di had him for us."
"He's...." He swallowed. "He's adorable. Looks quite like you."
"Thank you. I knew I was cute." Giles frowned at him, earning a smirk. "Does Ethan need help kidnaping her?"
"No, Joyce and I agree it's for the best if she's given time to mature naturally. We'll need you and Willow to make sure she's not warping her."
"I expected to be a favorite uncle and teacher like I am to Willow's kids anyway," he noted patiently.
Eric poked him on the belly. "Feed puppy and Eric?"
Horatio smiled at him. "We'll feed Percival in a minute we're going to see the bigger Eric for dinner."
Eric pouted. Xander gave him a look. "We're going to see Grandma Delko." He brightened up at that. "You can even pet the new baby as long as you're gentle with Auntie Marisol tonight. Okay?" He nodded eagerly. "Good boy , Eric. Go get me an orange and I'll peel it for you." His son wiggled down to do that, bringing back some dog food and a plate too.
Horatio laughed but fed the dog a treat. "I'm sure you earned it playing with the boy." Percival barked until the plate was put down. "Good boy, Percival." He went back to the swing with his family. "When is she coming in?"
"Back week for us," Xander told him. "I've got the State meet that weekend, Giles. Ethan will be on his own that week."
"Willow's not going with us, she can help him," Horatio noted gently.
"True. I forgot I had banned her until Nationals." He handed over most of the orange, keeping a few pieces to nibble, holding one up to Horatio. He wouldn't eat it from his fingers this time. Xander grinned. "How's Buffy?"
"Doing all right. Willow made someone come to speak to her about police work and how her skills were suited to it. She wasn't enthusiastic but it did give her an option to think about." He cleared his throat. "Which one of you asked Special Agent DiNozzo to come out?" he asked at the look Xander gave Horatio.
"Willow asked her FBI contact but I've met Tony through a mutual acquaintance," Xander admitted. "He's a nice guy."
"He was," Giles agreed. "Very happy with his work as well. I agree, she could easily go toward that sort of career."
"It would use the instincts she already has," Horatio agreed. "She could use a mentor if she joins a department but that shouldn't be too hard to find."
"I'll tell her you suggested that. Thank you, Xander. You will watch Mary for us?"
"No, I'll be a big brother to her to make sure she doesn't fuck up totally but I'm not doing shit for the Council, Giles."
"I understand." He glanced at the boy then back at him, getting a smirk and a head shake. "I'm sure Travers would find that suitable enough were he still alive." Horatio stared him down. Suddenly he saw why those two were together and why his troublesome student was so happy. "Apparently jail was not good for him. He chose to die instead of giving up Council secrets." He nodded at them. "Would you know where Ethan might be, Xander?"
Xander looked at his watch. "The yacht club for dinner and poker night." He summoned over his phone to call him, ignoring the surprised gasp. "Ethan, Xander. Giles is here to talk about Mary Eileen. Send him to your place? Sure." He hung up. "Head to Tentacles. He'll meet you there." He wrote down the address for him. "Tell Toby Horatio said I couldn't have another rocket launcher, okay?"
"I think your five are enough," Horatio said mildly. "It's not like we're having a war, Xander."
"We will if that asshole keeps coming after you and Daddy."
"Point. I'm sure it wouldn't take that much to get him out of office. Expose his belief in magic; that should be more than enough." He kissed him on the temple. "Quit swearing in front of Eric."
"Di and I already had a talk with him about things he couldn't say. He knows."
"Thank you, Xander. Eric, go find your shoes so we can go see bigger Eric." Their son squealed, bringing his shoes and the leash. "No, Percival's staying here. She's already got a dog." Xander got up to get them both ready since he was in a t-shirt and cutoff shorts. He looked at Giles. "He is happy," he offered quietly.
"He had better stay that way. The boy tends to draw some very protective people. Including Faith and Angel." He walked off, heading out to his car. He knew his meaning had been clearly understood.
Horatio smirked. "I've wanted to talk to Angel for a while now."
Bigger Eric opened the door, giving the running toddler a tolerant look when he didn't even get a grunt. Marisol got a head in her lap, making his mother laugh. "I see someone told you about the baby." He grinned at Xander. "You can come in too."
"Horatio said I can't carry in the present or the cake," he pouted, hugging him. "Your dad back yet?" He walked in to pull his son off and put him in front of the dog. Eric shrugged and hugged him too before going back to Marisol. Bigger Eric laughed at that. "You know he loves Liz. Yell when you want to move and I'll grab him again, Marisol." He kissed their mother on the cheek. "We bought a cake. Horatio wouldn't let me carry it. I think he's licking off al the icing."
"I heard his phone go off," Eric offered. He went out to get the cake. "Who?"
"Ryan. Swearing at me for not warning him about Giles being in town. I called Speed to send as backup."
"Yeah, I got the feeling he told him to get a life at least once," Eric agreed. They walked inside together, him handing over the cake, Horatio handing over the present.
"Spa time, I love you both," she squealed, hugging them around the baby. Xander pulled him off again, handing him to Grandma, who took the baby into the kitchen to spoil his dinner with a cookie.
Eric's father came home, shaking their hands. "Finally not busy for a night?" he teased.
"I am. It's amazing what the criminals think up to keep us amused these days."
"Come into the office, Horatio. Xander has good tastes. He went simple but sinful for the new master bathroom." He led him back there to show him the three possible designs.
Xander got down to play with the dog. "I like the second one better but I figure he would want the sunken tub."
Eric shook his head. "I saw the other one with the lounging seats and things, Xander."
"It feels good after a long run," he said innocently.
"Uh-huh. Stick to that story," Eric teased.
"Xander, I had no idea you wanted a Roman bathing chamber," Horatio called.
"It'll feel good after a run," Xander called back.
Eric hauled him up and nudged him that way. "Go defend your choices." Xander headed that way. Marisol squeaked as the baby pounced her again. "Easy on your baby bother or sister in there." Eric spit at him before going back to humming to the lump of baby again.
Marisol patted him on the back. "Give the baby another few months then she'll need that, Eric." He shrugged and went back to it.
"He is his father's son," their mother sighed. "Overprotective and stubborn already."
"Of course he is. Di's still complaining she'll have to have another one so she can be a full- time mother."
"Xander would steal that one too," Marisol said wisely. "Even if she moved back to New York like she threatened."
"Then she'd get a lot less visitation with my son," Xander called from the office. "That's why she's not moving. He came out of the office. "Eric, want the purple or the orange walls?"
"Purply," he said with a grin.
Xander beamed. "Horatio, honey, you're out-voted," he said as he went back there. "Eric likes the purple sea creatures too." He closed the door behind himself, cutting off the groan.
The siblings giggled. Only Xander.
Xander looked around the center they were holding the state matches at. Horatio was off with one of the local CSI since this was a practice time. Eric was barely awake in the stands with his coffee. They had let Speed sleep in. His last case had been brutal; he hadn't slept much since he had been called to the scene. Yet, that highly refined 'oh shit' sense of his was screaming at him. He was waiting for his turn to do a few laps, the colleges were doing theirs. He glanced at Eric before casually wandering off. Eric was asleep so he had a few minutes. He walked out to the main door, finding someone changing into a guard uniform with other guards standing around him.
"The other guy can't work? I know he was a big fan of the diving," he said casually. They glared at him. "Just asking. He wished me luck and he seemed like a really nice guy." One groaned and pulled a gun. Xander shrugged. "And? I blew up my high school. You guys do know that this is a low-costing-ticket event? That I'm about the only moderately wealthy person here? That this whole building is full of swimmers and coaches, mostly college kids?" They groaned as a group this time. "I tell you what. I call my husband. You guys negotiate with him since he's a cop in Miami. In return, you guys stay the hell away from the athletes. We don't need this stress. This is our only chance to make it to Nationals. Besides, all you'd get is cried and vomited on. Can we agree to that, gentlemen?"
"We could shoot you," one offered.
Xander snickered. "Yeah, I've heard that one before." He moved and got him down, his gun now in Xander's hand. "You were going to do *what* to me?" he asked with fond tolerance.
"Can your husband actually negotiate?" the apparent leader asked. You didn't often get faced with reasonable opposition that gave you what you wanted and cut down your risks, plus kept the hostages from being hurt.
"He's a Captain. Former bomb squad. Head of his current department. At the very least you'll get something for me. I'm worth just under a mil." A lie but he didn't want them reaching too high. "What were you guys planning to do? Hit the Lieutenant Governor when he comes in to sleep through this?" They nodded. "You guys know he's under Secret Service guard, right? That someone told him about a threat?" They moaned. "So, do we have a deal to protect the other kids?"
"Fine," the leader agreed. "That'll mean no extra bodies."
Xander got his phone out and dialed. "Sweetie, the security guards here want to talk to you about a ransom. I made a deal that I would call you as long as they left the athletes alone. I'm handing them my phone so I can go practice." He tossed it over and tucked the spare gun into his back waistband. "There you go. Remember, you come near us, I won't let him have you. You won't last that long." He stared down the leader before going back. He turned the coach he found watching, walking him back. "I'm married to a Miami cop. They'll leave us alone as long as my husband negotiates. Keep the others inside and spread the word to the other coaches." That got a nod and he walked off to warn the others. Xander glanced at Eric, who was still asleep. He stripped down, putting the gun into his bag, then went back to his warm up, taking a free spot and diving in. These kids deserved better than this today.
"Harris!" someone snapped.
Xander flipped over to backstroke, looking at his former coach. "No one needs this stress today, coach. Let Eric nap." He touched the wall, flipped, and did a normal practice run. His arm was pulled on when he tapped the wall so he got out. "This keeps the kids safer and stress tree," he said quietly. "They don't need this, not today. Besides, panicking leads to more injuries." That got a nod. "Stay in here or close to here. Watch out for the security guys." Eric came down and slapped him hard across the head. "Did Horatio wake you up?" Eric nodded. "It's better this way and I took one of their guns when he challenged me. It's in my bag."
"I agree. It's a good plan but next time wake me up!" He swatted him again.
"But you were so cute," Xander cooed, then he ran off to dive back in over someone's head since he was at the wall.
Eric moaned. "It was cute. You didn't drop your coffee," the coach agreed as he walked off.
Eric went to scout for Horatio, ignoring his blush. He was surrounded by insane people.
Horatio answered his phone. "Caine." He listened, then snapped his fingers, taking a pen to write out a note. "That's a good idea, Xander. Hand it over, we're ready." The cops around him were hurrying to tell others and tape the call, plus trace it. "This is Horatio Caine. Yes, that one. Yes, I am a Captain and I can negotiate." He wrote down the demands. "I don't have that much on me. The banks open in an hour. It generally takes us an hour to get the money together - if the bank is cooperative. Two at the most." He wrote down the next demand. "I can have someone call his people. His people would have to arrange that since I'm not sure he's back in town yet." He listed the third demand. "I can understand that one as well. We'll have to check the local rental agencies for that. Yes, definitely within two hours after the banks open. Can you wait that long civilly and keep to the agreement not to hurt the athletes?" He smirked at the story of Xander already making sure they knew they'd have problems if they tried so it was a last resort. "Keep his phone, I have his number. Do stick to the agreement you made with him, gentlemen. My spouse will not hesitate to enjoy hurting you if you ruin his chances today. Of course. I'll call with an update an hour after the banks open. Thank you for being reasonable and calm." He hung up and looked around at the expectant faces.
"There are people taking the state swimming meet hostage," he announced. "My husband is there and found them. In return for cutting through some of the bureaucracy they'll leave the athletes alone. Xander brokered that before calling." He sent a text message to Eric. "I've got an officer already in there. He's Xander's coach. I told them I'd call back an hour after the banks open, set it up as we may need an hour on top of that. Then want the Lieutenant Governor to listen to them about something. They want 1.2 million dollars. They want a car and named make, model, and specs." He handed that over. "They're the security guards." Knowing his spouse, he had wandered off while Eric was still half- asleep, found them, made the deal, proved he was scarier by what they said, and then went back to practice after warning one of his former coaches or Eric. He got a message back. "My officer spotted five but he can't be certain. There's ticket takers and administration people there already."
"Do you get a lot of this in Miami?" one female detective asked.
"My husband draws an unreasonable amount of stalkers and serial killers. He's used to it," he admitted blandly.
"We heard you guys had a stripper like that," she offered while the others got to work calling those who needed updated.
"He gave it up when we started to date," he told her. "He's swimming today and diving tomorrow."
"What sort of radicals are they?" the local boss asked.
"They didn't say. They did say the Lieutenant Governor since I'm assuming he was going anyway."
"He does all the necessary sports things," the detective offered. She texted someone. "My husband's his assistant. It's not making a happy grouch today. He said he'll send over a list of groups who've wanted to talk to him once he tells him. He's still in bed."
"So's my other officer." He called him. "Get up. The guards at the meet are hostage takers. Eric's there with Xander. He gave them a deal - they'd leave the athletes and he'd call me. Do what you can, let me know, Speed. If possible," he agreed, hanging up. "He'll try to get Eric and Xander weapons. Xander's a marksman." He looked at the local boss. "I'll keep playing negotiator."
"Good, keep us informed. Nice lie on the bank."
"That's how long it took us when our son was kidnaped."
"Who took your son?" she asked.
"His mother's nanny. She hated him and wanted her plus a million to support her in style."
"Think you can pull it up again just in case?"
Horatio called Ryan. "Mr. Wolfe." He paused to listen to him complain about the Xander-wannabe. "Is it possible?" He nodded slowly at the 'not with how his story changing but we're keeping him here so Frank has some comic relief' report. "That's fine. Have your wife get into our safety deposit box. Yes, again, but they want the Lieutenant Governor. It's Xander's bad luck he was due in to watch today. 1.2. Thank you. Yes, I'll be here." He hung up. "I'll know within 20 minutes if we've got to go to a higher source, namely his uncle."
"So, he's from a prominent family?" the boss suggested. Horatio shook his head. "New money?"
"Xander and Don inherited it from Xander's grandfather, who Xander didn't meet until a year before he died. Don's with the NYPD."
"They run the Benis Foundation," she said wisely. Horatio smirked and nodded. "My boy said yours was very smooth in public for it not being his natural habitat. Good job training him, Caine."
"He went to one of the local mavens of society and got adopted. He's cutting back soon so he can start college again. Six hours at a time."
"At least he's not wasting it all on fancy cars and drugs."
Horatio shook his head. "He leases but he bought me a personal hummer for our lab."
"He claimed it was a used test model so it was okay," Speed offered as he walked in. He put the bag on the desk behind Horatio. "Xander's bag from your hummer's storage area. Pack anything you need." Horatio opened it, looking through it. "No vests?"
"He figures I'd have mine since it's in the trunk," Horatio admitted. He wrote out a note, sliding it inside. "Tell him we'll be there as soon as we can. "
"Yup." He nodded at the others. Then he left, going back to the local college's pool. He walked up to the door, ticket in hand. "My kid's in there. He forgot his bag." The guard looked at his badge, which he wasn't going to hide. Someone stupid could challenge it if he hadn't had it on as an identification. "Regs say I gotta wear it. I'm off duty. Anyone steals the towels, it's yours. May I?" The guard glanced at another one but let him pass. There weren't any metal detectors in this building so he headed back, handing Eric the bag. "H sends his love."
"He probably wants to kick my ass too. I was napping when Xander found them."
Speed snorted. "This is Xander, Eric. He can't stop him. I can't stop him from finding trouble. We know you couldn't." He sat down and texted the information back. He chuckled. "H said you get the next dumpster and he's got to wake Don up. Willow doesn't have access to Xander's accounts."
"I guess he figured Horatio would be enough in case of emergency. He sat down again. "We wait?"
"Yup, until he says so." They looked at each other. "One of the bomb squad guys asked me if Xander thought he was Rambo after catching him on the range with Wolfe. I gave his standard answer of 'no, he speaks better'. He was not amused," he finished in a flat voice.
Eric snorted. "I heard Ryan nearly beat him. Missed by three points. What was he worrying about?"
"New gun. Giles sent it. Xander said it's a piece of crap."
"He's still cleaning yours, right?"
"Good. If you get shot again, I'm letting him fuss with Marisol and my mother, plus Willow and little Eric."
Speed glared at him. "You're mean today. Do you need to hit the club whores again?"
"I get plenty from my new girlfriend. It's lack of sleep from worrying about this competition."
Speed nudged him. "Not even Xander could have read this in one of his fantasy books. Wolfe's got a wannabe Xander in the office. He came in claiming he's being stalked. Wearing clubbing tight jeans and a t-shirt."
"See, there's the problem," Eric quipped. "They weren't Xander-tight."
Speed snickered. "Good one. Ryan said Frank's cracking jokes that're going over the guy's head. Said he was thinking about calling Ray Jr. in to help him."
"Ray is the prototype Miniature Xander. He's working out the bugs before he finishes warping the kids." Speed laughed, punching him on the arm. "He is. Ray wears Xander- tight clothes. He attracts evil women. He's teaching him self-defense. The only thing saving him is he can't strip worth a damn, no matter how Xander teaches him. Little Eric can. He was following along to what he was showing Ray. Pissed Diana off to no end when she saw him dancing around his room that night. She ranted and screamed for over an hour. Threatened to never let him see him again."
"Is that why she ranted that he had the baby for six days again?" Eric nodded. "Get her calmed down?"
"Sicced H on her," he offered with a fond grin. "Xander's not allowed to take him to the gym again." He smirked. "He brings Marisol now to hold him and give advice on the routine he's going to give Horatio for his birthday this year."
"H will die a happy man," Speed noted dryly, shaking his head. "Why don't you go?"
"Because every one of those guys is built better than I am. Besides, half of the guys hit on me. There's one guy there Xander says he wishes he was het because of so they'd quit thinking all gay guys were like him."
"Imagine the slut Xander is for H, but without him in his life. Now, make him a sub at a few of the sex clubs." Speed moaned. "Yeah, and he wants to be between me and Xander. Said Ray Jr.'s too forceful for him."
Speed shook his head quickly to clear that image. "I doubt Ray would mind much." He checked his watch then Xander. "Is he playing?"
"Xander!" Eric yelled. "Quit screwing around!"
Speed laughed. "I'd never sleep with you, Eric, no matter how demented my son may end up."
"Gee thanks. I'll cross you off my wish list," he snarked back. "Time yet?"
Speed checked his phone. Nothing yet so he sent a message. "They've got the money. Got a good place yet?" Eric nodded, taking what they'd need from the bag and heading to the spots Eric had picked out. They were only there in case the idiots headed for the athletes. They watched the money drop and Horatio handing over the directions for their requested meeting. The guys headed for the car. SWAT got them once they were inside. Clean, no injuries, no noise, and best of all no press.
Horatio walked inside and his guys followed him. He nodded at the coaches, getting a smile, then found Xander and kissed him stupid. "Win tonight and I'll let you take a third of the ransom to spoil me," he whispered. Xander shivered but nodded. "Good boy." He looked at the coaches coming over. "It's done."
"Thank you." Horatio nodded and let Xander go so he, Eric, and Speed could take their spots together.
Don got the new package Monday afternoon, smiling at the whining in the note. He looked at the sleeping CSI on his couch and went back to watch the matches in his game room. He flopped down into his massaging recliner - it had the best view of the tv. Danny stumbled in after his first moan, glaring. "The state competition."
"Any good news?"
"Xander consistently got second so he didn't get to spoil Horatio as much as he wanted to. Points got him fourth in the All Around. Since he only came in second, Horatio didn't let Xander use the ransom money to spoil him. Only gave him five grand and let him go." Danny smirked at that. "He said he stole half the good chocolates he bought him too."
"I thought Horatio gave Xander a two candy bar limit."
"He did but Xander pouted his way to half the box of dark and light Swiss truffles." He turned on the DVD, watching their buddy. The last screen was an invitation to Nationals.
Horatio parked his hummer at the Treasure Cove Club, grimacing at the old club his mate used to work at. He walked up to the guard. "Xander said to pick him up here?" he asked.
"Yes, Captain. Go right in, sir. It's a private birthday party tonight. I was also told to assure you no electronics of any kind other than the ones Darkness set up are in use and to suggest that you pull your hummer out of plain sight, Captain. He didn't think you'd change cars."
"What is my spouse doing?"
"Not a clue, sir. I'm to stay out here, even if there's an emergency."
Horatio nodded, going to move his very distinctive hummer out of the main parking lot. He headed inside, finding a single spotlight on the main stage, a table pulled close that was piled high with presents, and 6 quarters on top of a note to start the jukebox. He went to put in the money, and sat back, waiting. His mate came out wearing something new. Something great that moved with his body as he slowly danced for him. This act was like the first one he'd seen him do during the sting, but Xander had let the floodgates loose. Every move, every look, every touch to his body was meant to inflame him. Horatio moaned, having to spread his legs to give himself room. Xander prowled closer, staring him down as he swayed for him, arms over his head. Then slowly turning, presenting himself for inspection. Horatio moaned as the song changed into one of his favorites, undoing his belt as his mate undid his pants. He was already hard, more than ready to pounce, but Xander wasn't yet. Horatio watched him dance back to a small basket he hadn't noticed.
Xander pulled out a small toy, playing with it as he danced. Horatio nearly snarled but Xander only smirked as he dropped it. A few more minutes of dancing and Xander pulled out one he always said reminded him of Horatio's own cock. The pants came off while his mate sucked on it. Horatio was growling now, his pants fully open so he could work himself over. Xander slurped as the toy came out of his mouth, running it down his chest. The vibrator was turned on with a flick of his thumb, earning a moan as it danced over the peaked nipples. Xander moved closer again, letting it drift down his stomach Horatio held up a hand but Xander winked, heading back to the pole. Xander bent over and Horatio snapped. He had a very slim plug in. He pulled his handcuffs out as he walked up there, trapping his hands on the overhead rail. Xander grabbed onto the upper end of the pole, still moving as much as he could. Horatio grabbed his hips, stopping them with a possessive grip that made his mate groan. The plug was tossed and his mate was claimed. One hard thrust in, making Xander let out a needy whimper. He hadn't stretched himself, only pushed the lube up himself with the finger-sized plug.
Horatio growled, showing him mate who he belonged to. Xander wiggled so Horatio moved him against the pole to trap him. Once hand went around it to steady himself, the other was on Xander's hip. "Mine," he whispered.
"All for you," he panted, clenching around him.
Horatio nudged him forward. "When I'm ready." He took his time with his pleasure, driving Xander insane. He knew he had expected a quick and fast ride, but this present was one to savor. He finally came, earning a begging noise from his trapped prey. Once he was calm again, he stroked him slowly. "My birthday present?" he asked in Xander's ear, getting a fast nod. "I liked the new act."
"I ran it past Ray Jr. and Marisol," he panted. "I'm completely at your pleasure tonight, Horatio."
Horatio hummed at that, that was a good present. "Are you taping this?" Xander nodded. "Naughty."
"This way you could watch it again if you wanted to." He swallowed. "I'm in a ring, Horatio."
"I felt, which makes it even more naughty." He found his keys so he could unlock Xander and bring him back to the table, sitting him in his lap. "All yours?"
"Yelina and them's. Speed and Calleigh's. Ryan and Willow's." He took a kiss. "Can I get your dinner?" Horatio nodded so he stood up and went into the kitchen, walking carefully, coming back with a tray of finger foods and a good bottle of champagne but only one glass. He served his mate before settling back into his lap to feed him and sneak bites of the good stuff.
Horatio patted him on the back. "You can eat."
"I'll have you for dinner later," he promised with a shy grin. He let him have the glass to take a sip.
Horatio licked his lips. "I was expecting the dinner, presents, and sex but not like this."
"I can dance for you later too, Horatio."
"We'll see." He took another kiss before feeding Xander a real bite of food and some of the champagne. Xander grinned that same shy grin and handed over a present. He opened it, smiling at the quippy note from Ryan that he'd want spa time after Xander celebrated his birthday. He chuckled and found a practical gift from Speed and Calleigh. "Either they think Percy needs dressed up or you do." He held up the dog collar, getting a blush. "A leash too. Speed must think we live a very kinky life."
"They saw the stuff from the anniversary in New York." He kissed him. "Maybe they think you should wear it," he teased. "You'd look very pretty collared and kneeling beside the bed." Horatio chuckled. "You would."
Horatio kissed him back into silence. "It won't happen," he said with a fond smile.
Xander grinned. "A guy can dream and that one occasionally means messy sheets." Horatio laughed again, giving him a gentle squeeze. "Want Yelina and both Rays'?"
"That would be nice." Xander handed it over then fed him another bite of lobster in fluffy pastry. Horatio unwrapped it, looking at the paddle on top with Yelina's note saying he'd need it to correct Xander after tonight. Underneath was a joint present of two books he'd been wanting. Xander took the paddle and put it up on the stage. "She knew you were going to do this?"
"Ray Jr. and Marisol knew I was going to give you a new routine. No one knew I'd be renting out the club or feeding you dinner here." He settled back into his lap. "Want more food or another present?"
Horatio took a kiss. "We could take it home."
"We could but I want to show you the other one I worked out." Horatio nodded. Xander strolled off to the dressing room. "Stick a dollar in, push Xander's playlist 2, please?"
"Only a dollar?" he teased. "Why am I paying on my birthday?"
"I gassed up the hummer earlier."
Fair enough, that would save him nearly sixty dollars. Xander came out at the first song, changing it. "I tried." Xander just grinned as he turned with a flourish. Horatio stared. Damn his boy was hot! He was dancing with the pole again, then looking back at him. He walked closer, watching Xander strip for the pole but still grinning back at him every few moves. Xander was inviting him to join him. The next song was more their usual clubbing music. He got up there with him, he loved to watch Xander tease others in the club. It gave him a primal thrill to know Xander would never stray. They danced together, Horatio taking his rightful spot back inside him as they moved. Xander moaned, arching back into his hands. "Home, Xander," he whispered.
"I can't make it that long."
"You can. You can wait until I get you into the tub at the other house."
"Ours might be in. Please, Horatio?" he panted.
"Home, Xander. So you don't have to clean too. I can open the rest of my presents in our bed." Xander whimpered. Horatio pulled out, making himself calm down again. "Come on, I'll make it sweet once we're home." Xander swallowed but nodded. He grabbed the tape and the picnic basket. Horatio walked him past the guard once everything was together inside the large basket. "Thank you."
"Anything for Darkness, Captain." He went to clean and close up, finding everything already done. He locked up and called the boss. "He cleaned up, boss. Yeah, Darkness looked desperate for his next infusion of his boy. His boy wasn't too sane looking either. Yeah, all clean. Yes, sir." He hung up and headed for home. Easiest grand he had ever made.
Horatio kissed Xander as he got the door open, walking him back to their bedroom. The door slammed and Xander groaned Horatio's name. Then he giggled.
"I'll be good. Besides, tonight is about you," Xander said through the door.
Willow backed away from the door, looking at Di. "Guess the party's tomorrow after all." Di giggled.
Horatio opened the door, his shirt unbuttoned, his belt hanging loose, his pants barely holding on thanks to the zipper still being up. He glared at them. "Eric and Toddy got together to set our kitchen on fire," Di explained. "Can we have the spare room?"
"Use the other house." Then he slammed the door and they could hear the lock engage.
"Sure," Di agreed, gathering her purse. Taylor had Eric over there already. She had been right; those two needed privacy tonight. With the noises Xander was making, both women walked out wearing blushes.
Xander knelt in front of his husband. "What can I do to pleasure you, Horatio?" he asked, staring up at him. He knew what he wanted to do, he wanted to lean closer and sniff, then inhale his cock like the best drug in the world. Then he wanted to leave him barely on the edge of coming before going onto his knees for a righteous bout of being driven into the mattress by the same cock. Preferably without having to add more lube.
Horatio looked down at him, undoing his zipper so his pants could fall to the floor. "First, you cleaned that club so nothing could touch you?" Xander nodded, giving him an earnest look. "Everything?"
"I hired two really grumpy cleaning ladies and told them I had to be able to eat off the floor because I was going to be. They gave it disgusted looks and worked with bleach before coming back with the other, gentler cleaners." Horatio smirked at that. "We even cleaned the office for Jack. We cleaned everything in that club. I even wiped down the bottles of liquor with rubbing alcohol."
"Good boy." He ran a hand through his mate's hair. "Your present was what again?"
"Whatever your pleasure is," he said, licking his lips. Horatio smirked. He knew that meant he wasn't going to get relief for a while but he had asked for it. "How may I serve you, Horatio?"
"Strip for now." Xander stood up and gave him the rest of the show from earlier. He had a cd in the small stereo on the dresser already for him. Horatio watched, gently stroking himself while Xander danced. He crooked a finger and Xander came closer, letting him feel his property. He ran a finger up the underside of Xander's cock, making him whimper and his hips thrust violently toward him. He leaned forward, taking him into his mouth. He loosened the cock ring a little bit, giving him just enough room to come. He drank it down then refastened the ring, licking his lips as he looked at his mate. Xander had finished dancing for him and was bringing over the basket. He put the glass of champagne on the bedside table within easy reach, then got back to his knees. "Good boy," Horatio offered, sipping his drink. Xander's head was tipped up and he let him have some. Xander licked his lips. "Clean me off with a baby wipe, then get me hard again, Xander." Xander got to work cleaning him up. When he was clean, Xander started with the crown and cleaned slowly and delicately using small licks all the way down. Then back up. Once he was back at the head he nuzzled his faint beard stubble before placing delicate kisses slowly over ad over again. He moved up to firmer kisses, then french kisses.
He had his mouth wrapped around the side, his tongue licking and teasing the veining he found. The mouth moved down to do the same to his balls, using the hardness as if it were the other tongue, dueling his tongue with it, placing sucking kisses onto it. Then the other one. Horatio tipped his head back, not watching, letting the feelings flow over him. He felt the gentle scratch of a fingernail against his perineum, shivering at that. "Go ahead," he offered. "Do not let me come yet." Xander slid a finger into him, teasingly thrusting it for now. He moaned, arching up. The finger quit teasing and found his prostate. Xander's mouth refound his cock head and surrounded it, a warm wetness that rolled him back and forth over his tongue and teeth. Horatio shifted, opening his legs more. "Xander."
"Whatever you want, Horatio."
"Pull off." Xander pulled the finger out and licked over him to capture any extra drool, sitting back on his heels to look at him. He looked perfectly attentive. "Where did you see tonight going?" he asked, pulling him into his lap to kiss and hold him.
"Wherever you wanted it to go. I know you won't hurt me and you'll want me to get off eventually. I trust you." He snuck a kiss and wiggled off the lap, earning a growl. Xander knelt beside him again. "How else can I pleasure you, Horatio?"
Horatio stared at him. "I should spank you for that move." Xander blushed and looked down. "I know, that's your one firm rule. Can I try it once or twice to make you see it's not the same?" Xander gave him a hesitant look. "Some other time then. Across my lap." Xander laid across his lap, letting him check his body. "You've already tightened back up?" Xander found the lube and handed it to him. He read it over, it had something to help the muscles relax back into their normal shape faster. Interesting. He teased the slightly open hole, earning a groan of pleasure. Xander laid there and let him tease the tips of two fingers in and out of him, no deeper than an inch, over and over until he was flexing the sphincter muscles with his rhythm. He smirked and slid them in suddenly, making Xander howl and arch back. "Thought you might like that."
"Your pleasure, Horatio," Xander whined. "All yours tonight."
Horatio smiled, stroking his back with his clean hand. "My pleasure is yours, Xander." He withdrew the fingers. "You should be cleaned out again." Xander shivered. "Into the bathroom, Xander." Xander nodded, going to do that for him. Horatio followed once he was calm enough to move again. He found most of the bathroom back together, all but the sink's faucet, and the floor covered with a protective mat. "No tiles yet?"
"Tomorrow. They said it'd either be today or tomorrow." He found the gear he had brought back earlier in the day, hooking the bag up to the shower. It had a spot for this hose to go. Eric's father had wondered why but Xander gave him a look and said 'gay boy play toys' and that was all he needed to know. Xander tested the water and looked at the bag, then at Horatio. "Water?"
"Soap then rinse twice," he ordered, pulling Xander to a towel bar beside the toilet. He made him grab it then stretched him out and back so he was bent at the waist for his pleasure and inspection. The bag finished filling so he turned off the water, then added the special cleaning solution they used. He shook the bag, watching the sweaty back. He put on the nozzle tip, then inserted it. Xander moaned when he felt the plug at the end of the line sink into him. Then he moaned for a different reason as the water flowed in. Horatio stroked his back gently, making sure he was all right. This was part of his kink and Xander spoiled him horribly by letting hin indulge. Once the bag was empty, he took all but the plug out, bringing it back to the shower to rinse and then refill for the first rinse cycle. Xander was still in the same position. Horatio came back to stand behind him, stroking his back, then around to play with his nipples. Xander hiccuped and stiffened, making him smile. "Do you like it better now than you did the first time?"
"I still think it feels odd to be full of water and seeing my belly extended like I'm pregnant." He looked under his arm back at him, grinning slightly. "Then again, if I were a girl, I might be." Horatio chuckled and nodded. "You are one of the most virile men I know, Horatio. Plus, I'd be just as addicted to your taste as I am now."
"Hmm, I like it when you sniff and taste me, Xander." He let one hand continue to play with his left nipple, but his right hand moved down to tease the slight pooch of belly where the water had settled, jiggling it a little bit. Xander wiggled away from his hand so he pulled him back into position. "It's not like I'm doing anything but making it mix in a bit better, Xander. I can't see you like this normally."
"Welcome." He kissed the back of his neck. The hand teasing the nipple moved down to tease the limp cock. Xander wiggled away again, grimacing. "Xander."
"Oh, no. I remember what we went over on Pavlov in Psych class." He gave him a look. "I'll do many things for you, Horatio Caine, but learning to get hard from this sensation is not one of them."
Horatio smirked. "I knew you listened in there." He led him over to let him relieve the water pressure, looking him over. He took a kiss. "Can you do the next two yourself?" Xander nodded. "Good boy. Let me put things that need it into the fridge." Xander blushed. "Good boy." He stroked over his hair and went to do that. He did smirk to himself because Xander had caught him with what he was trying to do. By the time he came back he was emptying himself again and Horatio had sated his other appetite. He never ate enough when Xander was feeding him. He was more interested in the fingers than the food and that food deserved to be savored. When Xander got off and climbed into the shower, he looked at the clock. "That was fast."
"I'm rinsed, it came out clean."
"I'm not saying it didn't," he offered, getting in behind him. He turned on the water flow. This one fixed some things he didn't like about the other one, but it had some of the features he adored from their other house. Including the moveable and adjustable multiple shower heads. He set one to do his back for him while he cleaned Xander off. He took a kiss and Xander smirked at him. "I nibbled. That is excellent, Xander. Who was your chef of the night?"
"The guy at the yacht club. He pouted but he said you deserved a happy birthday." He wrapped his arms around Horatio's neck, giving him another kiss and a hug. "What can I do for you now, my mate? How may I please you?"
Horatio moaned and got back into the spirit of his birthday present. He checked that Xander's cock ring hadn't come off and it would be fine when he got hard again, then turned him around to go check the clean spots for himself. He adored tonguing Xander and Xander lewdly bent over for him, bracing against the wall. Horatio moaned, going in to play with him. Sure enough, he was clean and the faint smell of soap was what he had expected after two rinses. Then again.... He pulled down one of the single stream heads and positioned it right where he wanted it, watching as it rinsed his mate for him again and Xander shivered and shook. "Hmm, so we like it this way," he said, sounding amused. He teased the little rosebud opening, letting some of the water in instead of making it hit around the edges. He adjusted the head a bit more and Xander groaned, spreading his legs further apart. Xander whimpered and his legs started to shake. Horatio moved the nozzle and stood Xander up so the water could drain. Xander fell to his knees and his mouth came over to lick him. "Good boy, Xander. I do like this present." Xander moaned as the last of the new water came out.
Horatio got free of the tempting mouth and put him back in position, going back to his fun. Xander was mewling in pleasure by the time his tongue was satisfied. He found the oil he kept in here for smutty shower sex back in place and slicked a finger up, lubing the small tunnel gently. Then himself. He slid back home, making them both moan. Xander was tight and Horatio was in full on claiming mode. He rode him hard, fast, and into the wall. Xander straightened up and Horatio pressed him against the wall, pulling his arms up to join their fingers and hold them against the wall over their heads. His hips kept slamming over and over into Xander's body, making him shout until he was hoarse. Then Horatio let himself come. He pulled back, panting hard. Xander collapsed at his feet. "Xander?" Xander blinked up at him. "Couldn't stand?" Xander shook his head. "Come up here, Xander." He sat on one of the benches and pulled Xander into his lap, sliding two fingers into him to go back to driving him insane, teasing him while he kissed him and watched his cock try to get off. He felt the quakes of orgasms denied and smirked at the animal noises his boy was making. Xander couldn't form even the word please now. He was desperate. Horatio was hard again by the time he decided Xander had enough. He slid his fingers out and turned Xander around to straddle him. "Take it, it's yours," he promised gently, taking one last kiss.
Xander mounted himself on the hard cock and got to work, hard, fast, making himself hurt really but he didn't care! All he cared about was that he needed it and Horatio needed it and he needed it *really* badly because if Xander couldn't come soon he was going to have a brain explosion. Horatio looked down, frowning at the sight of blood. "Xander. Off." He pulled him off and put him back against the wall. One finger was gently inserted but Xander growled and pounced him again, taking what he needed, pinning Horatio to the floor, snarling in his ear as he rode him as hard as he could. Horatio rolled them so he was on top and slowly brought him back up, then released the cock ring. He knew he'd never get him to stop so he could check him but this way his boy would be limp and all right. He even came again, the pressure was just too great and it was warm and hot around him. Xander collapsed and Horatio had to take a few to catch his breath. "Xander?" He got a slight noise. "Baby, I think we tore you. Stay still, let me check. That's what I was trying to do." Xander shook his head. "No what?"
"M'fine," he mumbled into the tiles on the shower floor.
"You're not fine. There's blood. Let me look, Xander." He slowly and gently pulled back, seeing more blood. Sure enough, there was a good tear inside his boy. "Xander, I'm so sorry."
"My fault. I took you the last time." He barely lifted his head out of the water. "Get me rinsed off?"
"Of course." That handy nozzle was brought down to get him cleaned out. Horatio checked him once all the oil was out of him, feeling the tear again. "It's not terribly wide but I don't think you're going to be doing much for the next few days." He reached up and shut off the water, then made himself stand up. He grabbed their towels and helped Xander stand, drying them both off. He kissed him and made him look at him. "I'm so sorry."
"I'm not. It was an accident and I took you inside me that hard, Horatio. It's my fault."
"No it's not. I drove you there," he said, stroking his cheek. "Come on, let's go to bed, baby." Xander let Horatio help him out to their bed and into it, then Horatio got him some tylenol and gave him the rest of the champagne. Once he had those he crawled in behind him, stroking him. "I'm sorry."
"Apologize again and I'm sleeping on the couch," Xander told him. "I can call my doc in the morning to see if I need anything."
"I'll go in with you. I can take the morning off."
Xander slowly flipped over and laid in his normal spot, Horatio's left arm and shoulder. "Shut up, Horatio. I did it to myself. I didn't care what I did as long as it got you back inside me deeper and harder than the stroke before and I took what I wanted." He stroked his stomach. "Now, be a good husband and cuddle." Horatio smiled and did as ordered. "You didn't open the other presents."
"I'll do it for breakfast."
"Dad and the rest of the team is coming over for breakfast," he said with a small yawn.
Horatio looked at the clock. It was only midnight. He was surprised but he had gotten to the club shortly after seven. "I thought it was later." Xander blinked at the clock then snorted and put his head back down, closing his eyes again. "I can take tomorrow off to go with you."
"You do that and you give the asshole a reason to fire you. After all, you're not sick."
"I know but I can claim I've got a hangover. Go to on-call if necessary." He went back to soothing over his back, smiling when Xander snored into his chest. He'd have to remember how far he could take him in the future and take more control when he went back into that state. Because it was too pretty not to do it again but next time he wouldn't let Xander be hurt. This was the birthday he was going to flash back to as a happy memory.
Speed opened the door last and saw the guilty looks. "Xander kill him in bed last night?"
Xander looked over at him and shook his head. "No, though he's still wrinkled from our shower." He shrugged, then winced. "Before you say a word," he said at the opening mouth, "I used him like the toy he is and I did it to myself." Horatio blushed at that. He patted him on the hand. "You are toy material, dear. I'm surprised some rich little girl hasn't picked you up before now."
"I'd never put up with a brat like that," he reminded him gently, stroking over his cheek. "Want a pillow?" Xander shook his head. "Are you sure?"
"I'm fine. You baby my stupidity very well." Horatio smiled at that. "Okay, who brought soft stuff?"
"I got pastries," Speed offered, putting down the box to look at his son. "You okay?"
"Tear." He shrugged. "It happens now and then, dad."
"It does," he agreed gently, patting him on the head. "Your appointment is when?"
"Two hours. Horatio's driving me but then I'm making him go back to work."
"Fat. Chance." Horatio smiled at him. "I've already called and put myself on call."
"We expected you to call off for real today because you couldn't work," Ryan said with a smug grin. "So, how was it? Willow thought he danced for you."
Horatio blushed and Xander looked at him. "She'll be really upset if I gave you any more tapes, Ryan, but Horatio often wants me to clean out my porn stash if you want some of that. Ray Sr. gets baffled when I give him and his son the gay porn." He grinned sweetly, making Ryan laugh.
"I wasn't even going to ask to correlate your special ones for him with the other stuff we found, Xander." He looked at him, then at Horatio. "I'll have to ask the wife if I can clean out his porn stash for him. She's kind of funny about that. She found a ten-year-old Playboy magazine and nearly hit the roof but wanted to watch some people who were having it in public."
"We're surprised you haven't decided to bring in a girl toy to give you someone new to fuss over and her a girlfriend for her men-hating days," Xander teased back.
Ryan blushed at that and shook his head. "I barely survive the one woman. Two and I'd end up on disability or dead."
Eric stared at him for a moment. "She can't be that bad, Wolfe."
Ryan snorted. "You don't know my wife! She tried to jump me six times last night while I was trying to make dinner, and then got me once it was in the oven. Then we ate and did it again, did dishes, played with the babies when they woke, then she wore me out twice more last night. My wife *IS* the source of viagra."
Speed held up a hand. "I don't need those details, Ryan. Please." He looked at his son. "You, you will let yourself be spoiled rotten." He smacked him gently. "Have some pastries while we pick on Horatio for making you walk funny again."
Xander blushed. "And then some," he said, winking at him. Horatio smirked at him and took his own pastry, which meant the others could since it was his birthday celebration a day late.
Horatio looked at Ryan. "I remember your wife and Di being here and saying something about fires in the kitchen?"
"Di has a gas stove and had curtains next to it. The boys stood there and said 'fire pretty' for about an hour over the open gas flame." Horatio shuddered. "She and Willow were in the office. Taylor was taking a nap. Taylor thought they had the kids and they thought Taylor had them. I'm really thankful no one got hurt." Xander nodded at that. "They next door?"
"Yeah, we ran them out with the noise," Xander agreed happily. Until he tried to shift. Horatio pulled his chair over and him into his lap, making him more comfortable. "Thanks, dear."
Speed checked Xander's seat then took it. "So, what did he get you?"
"I have to open the rest of his. I got through everyone else's but Eric's I think and then he drove me insane so we came home. I'll write out thank you cards this afternoon." He looked at Speed. "It was very thoughtful."
Speed smirked. "I know. Better than Yelina's paddle."
"True," he agreed. Eric squeaked. "She did, but the boys gave me two books I've been wanting."
"I don't need to know that," Eric said, bright red.
"No, he'd never spank me," Xander assured him. "Ray probably told her I was going to dance for him last night."
"Yeah, where were you?" Ryan asked. "We looked everywhere for you two."
"I rented out the Treasure Cove, which used to be Bravado, my old club was where he first figured out how hot I was," Xander said with a smirk for him. "No one was there but us. I hand-fed him a nice dinner and danced for him. I also had it totally cleaned so well we could've eaten off the floor last night." Ryan smirked at that. "Even you would've approved, Ryan. Plus I used the eucalyptus soap you gave me to get the smell of bleach off me. It works really well and it's very gentle. Thank you."
"You're welcome." He smiled. "I'm sure the owner will be surprised."
"Probably." He picked out another pastry and fed Horatio a bite before taking one, smiling at him. "You really can go to work today."
"No. You need driven over." He kissed him gently. "Be a good boy and I'll reward you with a backrub later," he whispered. Xander nodded, going back to obedient spouse again. It was his favorite act out of his husband.
Eric smirked at them. "Remember, you've still got to practice, Xander. Nationals are in two months." Xander moaned. "So get better fast and remember to note the cream when you go for your drug tests."
"I usually bring the stuff in," Xander said wisely. "That way I don't have to pronounce it or forget something. Plus my doc has the official list of what I cannot test positive for in my chart so he can refer back to it."
"Good boy, very smart," Ryan praised with a grin. "I still like how girls can't be on the pill."
"That's the Olympic standard," Eric sighed. "They think it'll hype the hormones and make them faster."
"No it doesn't," Ryan assured him. "Willow's makes her cry." Xander nodded at that. "I should make her change, right?" All the men nodded at that. "Good. She goes in next week. I'll be calling her doctor before then to lodge a complaint and see if she'll talk her into changing pills. She's scary."
"Very," Xander agreed, grinning at him. "But then again so are you."
"Thanks," he said fondly, smirking back. "You're so sweet."
"Only to Horatio."
Everyone laughed and left it there. Ryan and Xander were horrible when they got into teasing each other.
"So, Eric, still being called pookie?" Speed asked. Eric groaned and put his head down, shaking it.
"Where is Calleigh?" Ryan asked.
"Being a girl. She'll come to the party tonight but she had to do, quote, girl things this morning. I figured she wanted first body today."
"She had to go see the doctor for an hour," Horatio told him.
"Ah, that girl stuff. I'll bring her chocolate later." He nibbled on his newest pastry. He shoved the box closer to Xander, who was snuggling into Horatio's arms.
Ray Sr. walked into Horatio's house later that evening, looking at where his brother and his brother's husband were, frowning. "He can't sit by himself yet? I thought he was old enough," he taunted.
"He's a bit sore, Ray," Horatio said dryly. "Besides, I like him in my lap. It's comfortable." Ray blushed at that and so did his sister-in-law.
Calleigh smiled at him from her spot. "Horatio, you spoil the boy."
"He deserves it."
"True, he usually does. So, did you like our present?" she teased.
"Percival looks adorable in the new collar and leash," he agreed dryly, smirking at her. She giggled and hugged him. "Thank you, Calleigh. You as well, Speed, it was a very thoughtful gift to give Percy a present too."
"I thought you might put it on pouty there, H," Speed taunted back, smirking as well. "But we did find a nice matching set for him and the son." Bigger Eric gave him a horrified look. "Seriously. Calleigh found it."
"I did. Di was with me when we found the mommy or daddy and baby S&M sets." Di nodded at that.
Xander looked at them. "Guys, there's no toys allowed in this house that we can't *both* use. So unless you can imagine Horatio in a collar....."
Willow squeaked and turned bright red. "Bad image," she squeaked, heading out onto the porch with the kids. Mrs. And Mr. Delko followed quickly.
"Oh, I don't know, I can almost see you in a velvet collar, boss," Ryan teased, going out to rescue the adults from his son before he got more wicked ideas into his head. On the way past Eric he punched him on the arm. "Quit giving Toddy ideas, Eric, he wanted to moon people from his carseat and tried to strip off to do it."
"I didn't tell him to do it," he protested, rubbing his arm.
"Well, I certainly didn't and neither did Willow, and you're the only other playful one since I doubt Xander would encourage mooning at this early of an age," he said, smirking at him. Eric shook his head. "Okay, who told my son to moon others?"
Speed coughed. "Sorry, we were watching a Brit comedy and he thought it was cute."
Ryan swatted him. "Fine, then my hit to Eric's shoulder is prepayment for the next bad idea he gives my son." He headed out there, stopping his son from disrobing. "No mooning, son!" Toddy pouted at him. "No! No mooning people. Naked is one thing, mooning is another." He noticed his wife's embarrassed look. "My uncle?" he guessed.
"Sykes. In the grocery store. Pulled them down and wiggled it at her, then turned and smirked back at her."
Ryan looked at his son. "Don't do that to her, son. She might follow you around too." He picked him up to hold him and make him behave for a bit longer. Mrs. Delko took him to have a talk with him and Eric about how bodies were supposed to be private things, not shown to others. Ryan looked at Willow. "She's good."
"She had practice. I can see Eric giving a big shit-eating grin and mooning everyone in church one Sunday."
Mr. Delko moaned and nodded. "Twice during the same service." He sipped his drink. "His rearend was cherry red by the time we got home."
Ryan looked at him. "You tried." That got a laugh and a nod. "You and your wife tried a lot. You did a great job with Marisol."
"I know," he sighed, going back inside to hug his daughter. "We did a good job with you. Your brother was warped by the trip from Cuba." He went back outside to play with the kids.
Marisol giggled at Eric's look. "He probably told about the time you did it in church."
"Probably," he agreed dryly. Calleigh stared at him in horror. "I was three!" he defended. "Dad tanned my butt good too."
"I will make this clear now. There is no spanking allowed in this house," Xander said firmly, staring him down. "Are we clear?"
"Very. You manage to raise a slightly evil child with good intentions without it," he assured him with a grin.
"He responds well to time-outs," Horatio offered. "Plus taking away his treats."
"So that's why he went pouting into the corner when we put out the fire," Di said thoughtfully.
"Probably. It was nice he knew where to go," Taylor agreed. She looked at Xander. "Only for the really bad stuff, like running out in the street?"
"I can see one good swat for that," Xander offered, "but nothing else, Taylor. There's way too much violence in my family history. I learned from an early age to lie and hit back because of it."
"Fine," she agreed. "He's not a big enough brat to need it." Xander relaxed and nodded.
"He's the most polite toddler I've ever seen," Calleigh agreed. "I know some adult men who don't apologize for farting."
"We got him to stop announcing it," Xander offered with a wicked smirk. "Blame Don, sweetie. He's the one who taught him that."
"I remember, I was sitting with him." She smirked. "Did his dad like Eric?"
"Yup and his mom's pushing for a few more just like him from her own son to have someone to spoil." He looked at his mate. "They're coming down with Don next time for a short vacation."
"That's fine." He kissed him. "He knows we're together and he was an excellent cop in his day." He patted him on the back. "There's food in the kitchen if someone wants to bring it out." Speed and Eric went to do that, drawing attention of Mrs. Delko, who came to help. Anything kitcheny she considered her job. Horatio looked at Yelina. "Thank you, the paddle makes a very nice decoration at work. Frank told the newest rookie cop that I used it when people touched the hummers." She giggled at that, leaning on her son's shoulder.
"The Wrath of Caine has a new toy," Frank taunted, smirking at them. "Even you need new toys, Horatio. Or does your boy there lend you his?"
"Yes, and the bullwhip is very nice," Willow assured him, patting him on the cheek as she came back in with the kids. "I enjoy using it to scare away reporters outside the station." Ryan moaned at that. She smirked at him. "I was teaching Jessup how to use it but staring at Sykes. I think she got the hint." Ryan whimpered, shaking his head as he went to help in the kitchen. "What?" she pouted, following him.
"I thought you were bad when you taught Jessup how to use the sword properly to scare her off," Frank teased Xander. "Did you and Speed ever figure out what sort of sword was used on that one case?"
"Pirate blade. He had a bunch of replicas from the last pirate movie," Speed offered. He looked at Xander. "You sparred with Jessup?"
"Yup. He was complaining about Erica hanging out. So I went to pull two swords from the car and said pretty loudly that we needed to figure out what sort of attack was used on that one victim from last week, leaving it at that level of information, and let him learn how to block shots."
Horatio shook his head with a quiet moan. "You two are horrible. I wondered why Jessup had whip marks on his neck."
"He swung it around too hard probably, his arm extended too far and didn't snap like it should."
Horatio kissed him. "It scares me that you can use that sometimes."
Xander beamed. "But I'm a good boy most of the time."
"You are, most of the time. The rest of them you're very scary," Yelina promised with a pat on his head. "What happened to your back this time?"
Xander blushed then cleared his throat. "I was so desperate I used Horatio like the toy material he is and got a small tear," he admitted quietly. She stared, mouth slightly open. "Um, Ray, I think I broke your mom again."
Ray Jr. came over to lead her to a couch and sit her down. "It's all right. Can't you see Uncle H as a toy?" He walked off, going to get another drink. "Willow, Xander broke mom again."
"That's, like, ten times this month," she noted dryly, going to swat Xander. "Be nicer to Yelina." She walked off shaking her head.
Yelina finally let out a squeak and finished her drink quickly. Speed handed her another one, letting her gulp that one too. "Thank you," she said in a high and squeaky voice.
Ray Sr. looked at Xander. "What did you say to her this time?" he demanded casually.
"She asked why I couldn't sit."
"Too much sex?"
"No, I used your brother like the toy material he is when I got too worked up and got an inch tear."
Ray Sr. paused at that, then gulped his drink and went to sit with his wife. "More than we needed to know, Xander."
"The rest of us got it over breakfast," Eric taunted with a smirk. The baby yanked on his arm. "What's up, Toddy?" Toddy pointed at the kitchen. "They need my help?" Toddy grinned and nodded. "Okay. Walk me back there." He walked him back into the kitchen, taking the platter his mother held out. "Gee, thanks, Ma." He carried it out to the table. Then he went to get more. He noticed Percival sneaking toward the table. "Xander."
"Percy, you know better!" Xander called. The dog came over to sit next to them and get petted. "Good boy to follow orders, Percival. Good boy. Now remember, no begging. You can clean up the messy kids when they're done." The dog barked and ran to play with the kids, herding them out onto the covered and gated porch to play with him.
"Best twenty-five dollars I ever spent," Horatio said seriously, squeezing his boy. Xander grinned at him.
"Hey, um, Horatio?" Speed asked. Horatio looked at him. "The Chief told me to tell you that your old hummer, the one that you traded out to have your own, kinda got smashed up today and went into the harbor." Horatio moaned. "Apparently the scene down at the docks at four this morning led to one of the semi's hauling cargo ramming it and sending it into the harbor after crunching it up a lot."
"My poor former car, it died a noble and much loved car," he said sadly. Xander nuzzled his cheek. "Thank you, dear."
"It had a good, long life and much happiness being your faithful steed to chase down bad guys," Xander soothed. "Sevar and I are going to have a word though."
"Oh, she's still filling out paperwork," Speed assured them with a smirk. "The semi's driver claims it was in the middle of the road. IAB is not happy with her."
Horatio shook his head. "I'm sure they'll figure out." He looked at his mate. "No."
"I wasn't even thinking about it," he promised. "Especially since you guys just got a hefty grant from the Feds."
"True." He gave him a squeeze then stood up, letting him stand. "Is it ready?" he called. "Chasing after Xander made me hungry." He headed into the kitchen, making everyone laugh.
Speed pulled Xander into his lap to cuddle him. "You still okay?"
"Yeah. He said it's about an inch and told me a lot of things not to do plus to soak in some epsom salts to make sure it didn't infect. I'm fine, dad."
"Good. Next time...."
"Dad, I did it to myself. I was so desperate that when he tried to stop me I kept going," he promised, kissing him on the cheek. "I know you worry about me but I'm okay."
"I know you are." He gave him a cuddle.
Ray Sr. looked at them. "That's too cute for words."
"He's my father, Ray," Xander said patiently. "He's allowed to cuddle me. The same as Aiden is."
Yelina nodded. "They do cuddle him between them just like he was their real child."
Calleigh cleared her throat and looked at her boyfriend. "I'm going to cut you off tonight," she said with a sweet smile. "You won't mind missing that body part, right?"
He blinked. "You're pregnant?" She nodded. "Really?" He handed his boy to Eric and got up to pull her closer and kiss her. "No way you're leaving me now, Calleigh." She blushed. "How far?"
"Few months. Barely sick."
"Cool. Then we have time to plan the traditional things." She gave him a look. "Yes, that stuff. I'm going to insist."
She swallowed and nodded. "Okay," she said weakly. "You're sure." He pulled her in and kissed her again. "Yes, Speed. I can agree with that."
"Hey, Horatio, Xander's getting a baby brother or sister!" Eric called. Xander squealed and pounced them to hug and squeeze and dance around as best he could.
Horatio came out of the kitchen. "As soon as your vest doesn't fit you're in the labs until the child is six months old and you're fully back to optimum performance, Calleigh. Are we clear?" She nodded, swallowing. "Good. I'll try to keep Xander from spoiling the new baby too much."
Speed snorted at him. "What alternate universe did you just come out of?"
Horatio smirked. "The one where I get to distract him with our newest one?"
"Good point. Go hug Marisol," he ordered. Xander limped over to hug her too and pat her belly. He smirked at her. "You don't really want to make it to work tomorrow, right?"
"Yes. So do you, Speed. We have this weekend off together."
"Hey, Horatio, can we take a few leave days?"
"No, Speed. She'll need to save up to have more paid leave for the birth," he noted, going back to helping in the kitchen.
"Congrats, guys. Feel free to harass the wife and I for horror stories," Ryan offered. "Hey, honey, Calleigh's pregnant," he called. She squealed and ran out to pounce her to cuddle and dance her around. He smirked at Speed. "I'd do the same but you might like it."
Speed snorted, shaking his head. "You're not my type, but thanks anyway." He took his wife back and pointed her in Ryan's direction, making her hug him. "Have another one, Willow. Give Xander even more babies to spoil."
She looked at him. "Two are plenty. There's no more baby Wolfes coming to be anytime, ever. Unless his uncle has a few. I'm fixed now."
Ryan nodded. "Two's a good number."
Xander smirked at him. "We'll see how you feel when they're teenagers."
"Tired," Ryan assured him. "I can predict that one already." Xander snickered. "I will be."
"You will be," Mr. Delko assured him, patting him on the back. "Especially with them so close together, son. Remember, they will finish growing up from the spoiled little brats they are when they're thirteen some year, about when they go to college."
"By thirteen I was helping the teachers teach some classes, hacking at a very mild level, and dealing with my trust," Willow told him. "Our kids won't be the brat that Eric could be. Xander was the wild one. I was the nice and quiet one who blushed and wore overalls."
"Thinking back, it was Jesse that was the wild one and we just lived vicariously as we followed him," Xander noted dryly, coming over to sit down carefully again. "Your parents let you run anywhere you wanted as long as you were with us, but Jesse's parents thought we were safely at your house when we were out running the streets and taunting the single gang member we had. Or looking at the naked pictures in the art books. Or even at the arcade."
She nodded. "True, he was a lot more wild and drug us along. Ooooh," she said, coming over to sit next to him, giving him a hug. "I found his parents. They're in Mexico. I wrote to them to tell them how we're doing. They wrote back a long letter. They thought you and Jesse were going to hook up too. His mother said she thought Jesse was going to turn out to be a leather daddy in training by graduation." Xander giggled at that. "He would have made a great one."
"He would have," he agreed, smiling at her. He kissed her on the cheek. "Get me the addy so I can write too." She nodded, beaming at him. "Man, looking back, I feel horribly old and staid now. Like Jesse was a teenage burnout case waiting to happen but we we're so old now we're talking about the good old days."
She nodded. "I had that revelation when I was telling Toddy about how I liked daycare."
He shook his head. "I remember hearing that your mother nearly brought down your daycare twice for only teaching play."
She nodded. "She did. I cried horribly when they took away my clay." She smiled as Ryan hugged her. "You would've tolerated Jesse. He'd probably be like a thug Ray Jr. at times."
Xander considered it. "I can see Jesse as a biker actually," he admitted, smirking at her. "Can't you see him as one of those guys who lives on his bike and takes off for the year- long road trips without warning?"
"Oh, I so can," she agreed dryly, shaking her head. "Then he'd come back and go 'it's three girls and a boy, they were cute and the mothers now hate me too much to let me see 'em'." Xander giggled at that. "Can't you?"
"I can. I'm not so sure that the one cheerleader's kid wasn't his after all anyway."
"No, I checked on him. Looks more like Larry." She shrugged. "Too broad. Jesse was a skinny boy, like you were."
"Point." He grinned at Horatio as he sat down. "Honey, can we give this new one Jesse's name as a middle name?"
"If Marisol agrees," he promised. Xander beamed at that and went to talk to her. He looked at Willow. "You didn't?"
"It didn't go with Todd and he needed to name the baby after someone," she offered. "I figured I'd do it with Liz but nope. She's a girl." She shrugged. "Speaking of, no one's heard her scream yet." She got up to check on them.
Ryan looked at Horatio. "Had I known, he'd have been Todd Jesse Wolfe but she thought it sounded funny."
"Parents can be that way," Xander promised, coming back with a plate of stuff to nibble, smiling at his mate. "You got crunchy stuff."
"Sorry." He kissed him. "Everyone go get food."
Willow came down with the baby. "I feel odd without her in my arms." She brought over a plate, sitting against the side of the couch with the boys so she could feed the baby bird impersonations.
Eric poked her on the chest. "Moo?"
"You can speak better than that and I will put you in time out for doing that," she promised. The boy pouted. "You do not poke women on the breast, Eric, and you still speak better than that."
"Feed baby like Eric eat?"
"No, she's not hungry. She had a bottle before we came over." She smiled and patted him on the head. "Much better this time." Eric grinned. "What do you want, a baby brother or sister?"
"Have both?" he asked with a bright grin.
"No," Marisol told him. "Only one, Eric. I'm not having twins." Eric giggled at that, hugging his sister. "I'm not!"
"Thankfully," her mother agreed as she came out. "Did the doctor say anything?"
"No. I told him not to. Horatio, did the doctor tell you?"
"No. I didn't want to know. Xander?" Xander just smirked. "I thought so. Are we making him or her share a room with Eric?"
"Eric, do you want to sleep in the same room as the baby when it's old enough or not?" Xander asked. "Daddy's got to pull out your old crib for the new baby and do some painting."
"Eric's room," he said with a scowl.
"Okay, the baby can have their own room," he promised with a smile. "Want to go to the paint store with me to pick out pretty colors?"
"Sweaty?" he asked, looking disgusted.
"I won't get that sweaty, son," he said patiently. "It's easier to paint inside than out."
"You can be home those days, son," Di promised him. Her son beamed at him. "Good boy. I knew you liked being with us part of the time." She patted him on the back when he wiggled closer, letting him snatch off her plate. "Say please and thank you."
"Fank you, mommy. Eric hungry." He went back to letting Willow feed him by opening his mouth.
"Swallow," she complained. He swallowed so she fed him a piece of crab meat. He choked and went very red as he started to swell. "Crap. Xander, allergy!" Xander got up with a moan and went to get the baby benadryl, coming back to hand it to her. She read the directions and dosed him, then pulled him closer to her to cuddle. "I'm sorry, little man."
"He's got a soy allergy too," Di said patiently. "They think he'll outgrow them. I'll tell his doctor in the morning." She handed Taylor her plate and patted her lap. "Eric?" He came over to curl up in her lap, snuggling in. "I know. It'll be okay." He nodded, getting comfy.
"Was that real crab meat or fake crab meat?" Xander called.
"Real," Marisol called. "Why?"
"Don't let him eat the puffs, there's shrimp and crab in those too," Mrs. Delko called, coming out to check him over. "Poor baby."
"We already dosed him so it won't get too bad," Willow promised. "I'm really glad Toddy doesn't have allergies that way. Just to newly mowed grass."
"That's pretty common," Ryan reminded her. "I have that same one. Good job, dear." He kissed her on the head and sat down to help feed their son and letting their daughter suck on some of the less solid food, like the stuffing balls. Liz beamed at him so he smiled back. "You're a brilliant little one, just like your brother was at your age, Liz." Toddy gave him a look. "You were. You were two whole months ahead of the baby book." Toddy beamed proudly at that and stuck his tongue out at Eric. "Leave him alone, he's sick." Toddy crawled into his lap so he cuddled him. "Daddy loves you too, Todd. Never doubt that we love you." Todd wiggled to get free and went to poke Marisol on the stomach, looking up at her as he did it again.
"Yes, that's Eric's little brother or sister," she said patiently. He rested his head against the side, hugging her around it to hum to the baby and babble at it. She smiled and stroked his back. "This one's going to be very loved," she agreed. "And very spoiled."
Xander smirked at her. "Why would he be spoiled, Marisol?"
"He?" Horatio asked.
"Generally. Not giving that out since you two don't want to know."
"Fine." He kissed him, staring him down. "He?" he asked again, more quietly. Xander beamed and shook his head slightly. Horatio smiled at that. "You're sure?"
"Unless the pictures were wrong. The doctor showed me when I went in with her last week."
Horatio smiled and kissed him again. "Use the bedroom next to Eric's for the baby, Xander. You can get Taylor or Di to help you pick out paint."
"Light purple. Not dayglo purple or the purple that looks so good under strobe lights."
"Yes, dear." He grinned at him, then at Eric's father. "The bathroom is incredible and they finished about two. Thank you."
"You're welcome, son. I liked some of those ideas and I'm taking pictures tonight."
"You might want to let me clean up some of the mess. I was soaking earlier," he said sheepishly. "Oh, we tried the shower last night. That adjustable nozzle you weren't sure about? Works very well." He laughed and went to look and get his camera to take detail shots for his reference book. The others followed once he was done to see too.
"So, what else did he get you?" Speed asked as he came out. He looked at his son. "You're so spoiled."
"I know but I deserve it and Horatio needs it after a bad day."
"He does," he agreed dryly, sitting down again. "What else did you get him?"
"Some new clothes for when we go riding," Horatio offered. "A book gift certificate. Two new suits to take the place of the ones that got destroyed on cases this last year. Plus a new set of massage oils." He'd not mention the new pillows for sex that he got given. Those were more of a private gift. As were the ten new bottles of lube he had found in his drawer this morning. Speed smirked at him. "He enjoys my massages. This way I can spoil him more with some attention."
"Sure," he agreed, smirking at him. "What did Don get you?"
"It's on the FedEx truck since we weren't here," Xander said dryly. "I'll get it in the morning."
Speed nodded. "That's cool." He glanced at Marisol, then at Xander. "Boy?" he mouthed. Xander smirked and winked. Speed nodded, getting that clue. A little girl Xander. Well, he'd get some practice in on Liz first at least. Otherwise his daughter might be like Xena.
Marisol squealed, moving Toddy away from her lap. "Toddy!"
"Did he goose you?" Willow called.
"No, he tried to grope."
"Son, she doesn't wear a diaper and you're not allowed to grope other's diapers anyway," Ryan said firmly. "Come sit." He pouted but came over to sit next to him and sulk. "Thank you. You know better." Toddy pouted at him. "No. Not allowed."
Toddy hugged his arm, then went to sit with Xander. He loved him even when he was bad.
Di looked at the room Xander had done, then at him. "I'm not going to comment but I want to be here when Marisol and Horatio see it," she said, patting him on the face. "I love you, Xander, but you're color blind and usually have bad taste except in Horatio's suits." She kept her son from coming in and getting traumatized by the purple and gold room. She found Horatio's camera in his office and took a picture, then sat down to send it to his inbox at work.
"It's not that bad," Xander complained.
Di texted Horatio's phone as well when he didn't answer right away. He called a minute later. "Dear," she said, holding out the phone.
Xander took it. "It goes well together," he defended from breath one. "I think it's very pretty and regal. Plus it's got a unicorn and dragon theme in the bedding and the mobile." He listened. "Fine, I'll let you see it first. No, she told me I have bad taste." He stuck his tongue out. "He says I don't." He listened to the quiet orders. "Yes, dear. I'll bring you real pictures." He hung up and took the camera to take pictures of everything. Then he went to get dressed in some Xander-tight clothes that were comfy and comforting, heading out to see his husband. He smiled as he parked. Frank was outside. He walked over to him, handing him the camera. "Don't you like the new baby's room?"
He flipped through the digital pictures, then looked at him. "New head injury?"
"It looks better in person," he defended.
Frank patted him on the shoulder. "Defend it with your life, Xander." Xander pouted all the way inside. Frank shook his head. Sometimes the boy had some really bad taste. Gold and white unicorns and gold dragons with gold filigree border over a medium purple wall. "Well, I'm guessing it's a girl," he decided. "He'd probably do a different color for a boy." He called Horatio. "You might want to pop around there first," he warned quietly. "He said it looks better in person." He smirked. "No, he's wearing those gray jeans that he nearly got busted in and a t-shirt that proves he spends more time in the gym than nearly everyone else in this building combined. Yeah, those clothes. Thanks, Horatio. Really. Of course I'll watch your boy for you." He hung up and went to find Xander, who was in his mate's office. "Horatio said you're not to sit alone."
"Because the last time you wore clothes like that here, someone tried to take you. The time before that the receptionist tried to shoot you. Sounding familiar? I can go back further." Xander pouted but followed him back to his desk, sitting down. "Now, let's see the pictures again." Xander handed over the pictures, letting him look more carefully this time. He downloaded them onto his computer so he could enlarge them. Maybe they looked nicer on the bigger screen. Well, it was a bit more distinct but it still looked like a Vegas version of a Roman whorehouse to him. But this was Xander's house.... Then again, Horatio had taste. He decided to let Horatio burst his bubble this time.
One of the officers came over. "Detective, I noticed your suspect didn't have on handcuffs and that's against protocol; with the Mayor and Chief coming in today you might want to cuff him."
Xander snorted and glared at him. "I'm Horatio Caine's husband, dipshit. Get out of my face." The man gave him a horrified look. "Now," he growled. The man ran off. He waved at Jessup. "Do I look like a ho today?" That got a nod. "Pity. No one likes my new nursery. Come see, Jessup, give me a better opinion?"
He came over to look at the downloaded pictures. "It looks very Roman with a hint of D&D, Xander. I especially like the dragons and unicorns. I can see why your second child would like those." He smiled at him. "Personally I'd have went with a lighter purple to make the gold pop out more but that's a nicely decorated room." He wouldn't say that he'd be scared to put his newborn in that room but this was Xander's decorating project, not his. It definitely wasn't his tastes.
"Thank you! See, Frank!"
"Uh-huh. What did Di say?"
"That I only had good taste in Horatio's suits." He shrugged. "She's a formal designer. I'm doing what I think the new baby will like."
"And you are?" someone demanded.
Xander glared at the new cop. "Xander Harris, Horatio Caine's husband. He wanted Frank to make sure I was okay until he came back. Would you like to see the new baby's nursery as well?"
"I sincerely doubt he'd marry someone like *you*," he sneered.
"No, he is, sir," Jessup offered.
"He is," Frank agreed dryly, leaning back. "By the way, Xander's also an expert in beating the crap out of people. So step off, Sergeant."
"What is going on here?" Calleigh demanded.
"I'm wearing comfy clothes after finishing the nursery," Xander offered, smiling. "Come see."
She bent down to look at it, then at him. "I'd have went with a lighter purple. Daughter?" He beamed and nodded. She smiled and pinched him on the cheek. "Remember, she's not Xena. No baby leathers like Eric got, Xander." She looked at the Sergeant, who was huffing. "Do you have a problem with Captain Caine's husband? Because it must be only two of you here who don't know who Xander is. Even in the comfy, tight clothes." She shrugged. "I'd back off now. Really."
"Ma'am, with all due respect, this man can't be who you think he is. He's a whore."
Xander stood up and got into his face. "Repeat that, Sergeant. Please," he growled. The man sneered. "Seriously."
"Enough!" Speed ordered as he walked up to them. "Calleigh, you're needed back in Ballistics. If it's going to get violent I definitely don't want you anywhere near this," he said more quietly at her hard look.
"I'm not fragile!"
"I know that," he agreed, "but you can still be hurt when the guy shoves Xander. You're in direct line of force." She sighed and stomped off. He glared at the Sergeant, who glared back. "What the fuck is your issue?" he demanded. "That he's a boy? That he's wearing tight clothes? That he was decorating a nursery? That he was talking to Frank, who's guarded him a great many times in the past?"
"No little whoreing fag like that could ever be married to one of us."
Xander sneered at him. "You might want to back up. Your cum-scented breath is very telling," he ordered. The man took a swing and Xander took two, knocking him down. "Now then," he said, bending down to get into his face. "I am the husband of Captain Caine. Yes, I'm wearing slutty clothes. I do that now and then. I enjoy them. They're comfortable. The mother of my son makes them for me. If you had bothered to listen to anyone in this building you'd be in better shape right now. I suggest like hell you back the hell off and go away now."
"Xander," Frank said quietly. "Sit." Xander sprawled again. "Thank you for not continuing."
"He's down, that's all I care about, Frank." He waved at the watching dignitaries. "He decided I can't be married to my husband because I'm hot and wearing tight pants. Ooh, nursery's done, Mayor. Your wife's suggestion of where to get the border was *muchly* appreciated."
"Thank you, Xander. May I see?" Frank let him see the pictures. "That's a darling room. A bit dark but very nice." He patted him on the shoulder. "We saw you hit him, Xander."
"He hit him first," Speed offered quietly, leaning on a partition. "He came up and demanded that Xander be arrested for wearing Di's clothing."
The Chief shrugged. "He wears them most of the time when he's not in a suit. That's normal Xander Harris-Caine attire as far as I know." He looked at the Sergeant. "Go sit your ass in my office, Sergeant." He got up and went that way. "Xander....."
"He started it. I even let him have first swing," he offered, holding up a hand. "I refuse to be called a whore, especially to my face."
"Point," he agreed calmly. "Why did he try to hit you?"
"Xander noted he had need of breath control agents," Frank noted dryly. "Mostly due to having oral contribution samples on his breath, boss."
The Chief took a moment to decode that. Then he looked at Speed. "Xander said he smelled like the blow he just gave in the locker room."
"Ah. Well, he would probably know," he decided, shaking his head. "Xander, you'll stay away from him?"
"As long as he's away from me. Everyone here, including Calleigh when she was here, told him who I was first. He didn't listen and he started. I can almost understand the guy who told Frank I was supposed to be in handcuffs since I was a suspect, he was a really new guy, still in his rookie first week, but really."
"I agree," he offered more gently. "Let me straighten this out, Xander."
"I'm not going to not defend myself," Xander reminded him. "Not after having six different bomb attempts on my cars, not after the four assassination attempts, not after the one with the nitro and sugar in my gas tank. I'm socially polite to those who hate gays, as you've seen in politer society."
"I have, Xander. Calm down." He smiled at the pictures. "That is a bit...strong. What did Ethan say?"
"I haven't shown him yet. He and I don't really hang together. We work together now and then but we don't really hang. Diametrically opposed views of the world and all that," he noted dryly, smirking slightly. "Is Mary Eileen in yet?" The Chief nodded. "Good. Then I'll stop over there on the way home." He waved at Horatio as he walked up to the group. "Pictures on Frank's computer. I hit the sergeant who took a swing at me for looking slutty today."
Horatio stared him down. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. He didn't connect. I hit him twice and he went down. I was going for efficient." He shrugged. "I'm not going to let anyone call me a whore to my face, honey."
"I know, Xander. He won't be doing it again." He patted him on the head, stroking through his hair while he looked at the nursery. "I looked at it in person. The paint is lighter than it seems here but it is still a bit strong, Xander."
"She'll love it, it's got bright colors and designs, which the baby books Willow has said are good for babies. It's got a pretty mural for her to stare at and it'll glow lightly from the street lights so we shouldn't have to worry about her having a fear of the dark. The crib's pretty with that decorating scheme since it's a gold wood stain on it. I even found white and gold unicorn and dragon sheets for it."
Horatio smiled. "We'll live with it for a week and see if it grows on us," he promised. Xander beamed. "I did make Di quit looking at paint samples." He looked at the Chief. "Is Xander in trouble?"
"No. I saw him hit the other guy, but neither I nor the mayor say the sergeant hit him. It was explained and I'm going to talk to him. I did hear someone say something about no real cop being married to a, and I quote, fag whore. I think Xander had good reason to smack him around. I'm just happy he stopped. Let me finish giving the mayor the tour then I'll deal with him."
"Thank you, sir. Let me know if you need to see Xander over this again."
"I will." He walked off, mentally calculating how much of a headache he'd have tonight. He had the surveillance tapes pulled for his use as well. That way he got a full view of the scene and sound. He agreed with the irritating little boy, he wouldn't let anyone call him a whore to his face either.
"Xander," Horatio said, staring at him.
"I taunted the once to get him to hit me. Otherwise I was going to rip his fucking head off, Horatio. Then I was going to piss down his neck."
"I understand. Go wait in my office." Xander sighed, handing over the camera and heading that way. He looked at the pictures again. "It is nicer in person," he admitted. "The purple's a bit more subtle. The mural's nicely done though." He looked at Speed, then at Frank. "Who was here for all of it?" Frank raised his hand. "How much of that was point of view?"
"None. We had another guy come up and say he should be handcuffed since he was clearly a suspect."
Horatio sighed. "It happens. I'll talk to him about the clothes he wears in."
"You know, it could be desensitization," Speed offered. "Especially since the six different bomb attempts on his cars, the four assassination attempts, and the nitro and sugar in his gas tank, wasn't it Frank?"
Frank nodded. "That's what he said."
"Really?" Horatio asked. They both nodded. "I only remember two or three bombing attempts, one that succeeded if I remember right. The one with the nitro and sugar I remember. I don't remember any assassination attempts. Or the other bombs. Speed, do find that out for me?"
"Ask him, Horatio. I doubt it was noted officially."
Frank moved into another screen, pulling up complaints that had Xander's name in them. "We've got three IAB reports about bombs, including the one that blew up the porsche. We've got... Oooh, Horatio?" He bent down to read the one he highlighted. "He never mentioned that."
"He wouldn't, Frank. Anything else?" Frank went on, getting the other IAB reports, then two more that were locked with Ryan Wolfe's ID and IAB. "Interesting. Where might Mr. Wolfe be?"
"He might be off today," Speed noted dryly, "but I think he came in anyway to finish up his case. It was bugging him since it had kids."
"Thank you." He headed back to the lab, paging Ryan to meet him in the hallway. Ryan came out of fingerprints and swore. "Mr. Wolfe. There appears to be two reports of people trying to hurt my husband that's sealed by IAB and yourself. Would you like to explain that?" he asked quietly.
"No. Xander was supposed to tell you. I was the responding officer, Horatio. IAB took them both over from me. Xander swore up and down he'd tell you about both assassins."
"Ah, two of the four assassination attempts he mentioned. Would you happen to have any idea about the other bombing attempts or the other two assassins?"
"Nope. I told Xander if he had another one I'd come to you myself instead of making him do it."
"Hmm. Interesting. Come to my office with me?"
"With all due respect, hell no, sir. He's my friend, I'm staying out of it." He walked off, going back to fingerprints.
Horatio walked up there, closing his door gently. "Xander, we looked up the incidences you smarted off about." Xander went pale and flinched. "I saw the one report of an attempted attack on you in one of the clubs a few months back. Who took that one?"
"Jessup. He was doing some overtime. He and Micheals came out to answer the call. I was fine, he tried to drug me and had me pinned while I was disoriented. They drove me home and I curled up on your chest for a few hours while you slept. I was fine, it was stopped by one of the bouncers."
"All right. The reason I wasn't told?"
"I begged." He looked at him. "I don't want you to have to see that stuff, Horatio. It's wrong and it'd make you mad."
"I'm already mad," he assured him. "Hearing it today didn't make it any better. I wanted, no, I needed to know when it happened, Xander. That way I can help protect you when necessary. Especially if you're drugged," he said firmly. Xander sighed and slumped forward, leaning his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. "Now, we also saw the two locked files by IAB."
"I don't know who did those. They locked them and won't tell me anything," he admitted, looking at him. "I don't know anything other than I kicked one's ass and broke the other's wrist when he tried to stab me in the park during my run."
"I see. And the reason you didn't tell me?" He walked closer, staring down at him.
"It was being handled and I did tell you."
"I think I would have remembered hearing about those," he noted calmly. "Was I perhaps asleep?"
"Nearly," he admitted, grimacing. "I don't want you to worry, Horatio!" he complained as he stood up. "I can take care of myself. I'm not fragile like Willow is! I can and do defend myself. The same as I defend you." He blanched and shook his head, taking a breath. "I shouldn't have said that."
"Yes, you should have," he noted quietly. "One of them was about me?" Xander nodded. "Was it gang related or case related?"
"No. There's a two million dollar price on your head," he said quietly. He looked at him then walked over to look out the windows. "Phil knows, he's working on it. He knows about the others too. They've been about the same thing. All I know is that it's been there since before I met you. Now they think I'm a good bait."
Horatio dialed the phone. "Phil, please come to my office and bring the files with you. Not those, Phil. The one on the assassination attempts and those things. Yes, I'm just now finding out." He hung up. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Xander turned to glare at him. "Why didn't you tell me you were wanted that way?" he countered bitterly.
"I had no idea I was."
"Stetler knew. Phil and I found that in his old files."
Horatio swallowed. "It's not that I didn't trust you, Xander, I truly did not know. The rest of everyone may have and not told me to protect me." Xander relaxed some. "I'm sorry if you're upset. I had no idea. That's not the same as you being attacked and you not telling me however."
"Not like I wanted to complicate your case load," Xander said simply. Horatio gave him a hurt look. "You're working hard, long hours, Horatio. You're doing what you love. So let me handle the random psychos who show up to hurt us. I'm not doing that much at the moment. Really."
"You're more important to me than that, Xander," he said calmly, forcing himself to stay calm. "I'd rather we took these things on together."
"Then you don't have the time to work, Horatio. I'm not going to make you choose between dealing with the bounty on you and your job! You love your job, it's important to the victims that you continue it! There's no way in hell I'm getting in the way of that! Even if I do suddenly have to start wearing your clothes to the station so I'm not arrested or attacked!" He turned around again, staring out at his car.
Horatio walked up behind him. "If you had told me, I could have managed a better defense of myself," he said quietly.
"Um, hate to mention this, but pot, kettle," Xander said bitterly. "Or don't you remember our last fight in here?" He felt his husband flinch and turned to look at him, finding him looking at a spot on his shoulder. "Ow." He looked around. "Dad!" Speed came running while he got Horatio down onto the couch. "I didn't hear a shot or the door."
Speed looked at the door. "It's through one of the windows and the blinds," he offered. He called security. "This is Speedle. Captain Caine was just shot by a sniper in his office. Get an ambulance, get me Delko. Get someone up here ASAP!" He hung up and came over, letting Xander handle the real first aid. "Horatio, stay with us."
"It's not a fatal wound, dad, it's where I got hit in New York. Irritating and painful." He heard running feet and grabbed Speed's gun, pointing it at the person who ran in. "Who the fuck are you?"
"Xander, he's IAB!" Jessup yelled. Xander handed the gun back to his father and went back to it. "What happened?"
Speed pointed at the window. "Get Delko and Wolfe up here, now." He nodded, running to find them. The ambulance crew came in and Xander slugged one who was trying to move him. "Xander!"
"I don't know them!"
"Point," he agreed. "Go with him." Xander nodded, going with him. "You and you, follow," he ordered, pointing at two patrol guys. They followed outside and to cruisers to follow the ambulance. He looked at the IAB guy. "Let me guess, Phil put you over those assassination attempts none of us heard about?"
"He did," he agreed. "I can see why Xander reacted that way. Phil told me he was a fierce dog protecting his mate." He looked at the people running in. "He'll be fine, it was in his shoulder."
Ryan circled the bullet hole. "Looks like a very small caliber. Duck rifle maybe. Cracked the glass but didn't shatter it." He took pictures, then looked around, sticking a rod into the hole to get a trajectory. "There. Heating system walkway," he ordered. A few of the officers went to check it out.
Yelina came jogging up. "What happened? I was coming in when the lockdown started. What happened!" she demanded when she saw the rod.
"Someone hit Horatio in the shoulder," Eric said quietly. "Xander's with him. He was pulling Speed's gun on the IAB guy when I came in. We're searching for the person now." He called Xander. "I need the size of the bullet, Xander. Just in case." He listened, then looked at the IAB guy. "Twenty-two or twenty-five according to him."
"Twenty-two is a popular size for rifles." He came over to look. "I'd say. Get Duquesne to check." Eric nodded, going to get her. He looked up. "This is a mess. Can I have a better clue?" he requested quietly. Then he looked at Yelina. "You were where?"
"Outside. Just coming in from questioning a witness in my current case. What is going on?"
"There's been a bounty on Captain Caine's head now for nearly three and a half years. A few of them have tried to get his husband as bait. It came to our attention that way. This was a more overt attack."
"Get him!" Eric shouted. Someone screamed and a bunch of officers went running. "We need him alive!"
The guy shook his head. "Please," he agreed. "We know Stetler knew about the bounty. Did he ever tell you anything or hint at it, Detective Salas?"
"No," she said quietly. "You might ask my former husband. He has contacts down in that world."
"I've talked with him a few times. That's how we knew who handles it." She swallowed and nodded. "He's pissed off a great many people in the underworld. His choice of spouse worries others who know about Xander's past. And yes, he was totally honest with Phil," he admitted. "As was Mrs. Wolfe." She nodded at that. "Your son shouldn't be in any danger, Detective. He's never without a guard of some sort or a weapon. Xander has done very well training him to protect himself and others. He'll make a fine officer if he so chooses." She sat down on the couch, staring at him. "Don't worry overly much about this. We've got it, we're waiting for some confirmation of who's the local contact for the bounty. The only one we know is in New York."
"Does the lab up there know?" she asked quietly.
"Not yet. I've been in contact with their Internal Affairs department but nothing's come of it yet."
"Did it have anything to do with their officer who was shot during a robbery?" He nodded. "You're sure?"
"I'm certain. The payoff to his account came from the same account that the bounty was drawn from. The problem is that we can't trace the source."
She stood up again. "Willow works with a fairly cranky federal agent now and then and Xander respects some others. Have them look," she ordered firmly.
"I've talked with Deputy Director Fornell. He couldn't get that information either."
"Gibbs has two hackers plus Willow if he needs her," she pointed out.
He smirked. "That's not a bad idea, but it can get them into trouble if it's not a military source."
She shrugged. "They respect Xander and Horatio. They backed him up in New York during the convention."
"I know. I got a full report on that as well. Xander's known about this for the last ten months now. One of them came for him and Ryan Wolfe was the responding officer. We took it from him and I got assigned personally as my only case." She nodded slowly, staring at him. "We don't think it has to do with your former husband."
"Good. That doesn't make me feel any better however."
"It shouldn't. It wouldn't to me." Eric came back panting and out of breath. "Get them?" He nodded. "Where?"
"Three. Fast little sucker too." He stared at him. "This team is a family. We will know tonight."
"That's fine. I'll brief you all in Horatio's room tonight. Some of you have touched on the corners of it. We've taken investigations from Wolfe in the past. We took one from Calleigh in the past. We took a few of your old ones to look over as well."
"I remember. Not Speed's?"
"They're not targeting him for some reason." He shrugged. "It's an anomaly. We're not sure why yet."
"Good. Tonight when?"
"After shift, Detective. Give them time to fix him and let him rest for a few hours. Were they having a fight?"
Eric nodded. "We just found out about it from him today."
"Interesting. Let me make a call then we'll talk to this sniper you've found." He called a number in New York. "It's Ian. We just had a sniper in the office down here," he said quietly. "In the shoulder. He knows now. Thank you." He hung up and followed him.
Yelina looked at Eric. "Ten months he's known."
"It's been going on how long?"
"Three and a half years."
"You'd think someone would've told H by now," he complained, following her down there to listen in.
Hillborne walked into Mac's office, staring at him. "You summoned me?"
"I want to know about this assassination attempt that Lindsey Monroe said happened in Miami. She said there are roots up here and I wasn't told there was an active investigation being done by one of my officers."
"I couldn't be sure who was involved. Besides, you've got a temper."
"Unless you want my temper to come out on you, I'd give me the details," Mac ordered coldly. "The Miami lab is like family to some of us. I still have to tell Flack his nephew is in danger again. Now, what the hell is going on!" he shouted.
Hillborne flinched and handed over the file. "That's all we've been able to piece together. Monroe doesn't have the underground contacts we'd need to find a true root cause."
Mac pushed a few buttons on his phone. "I want Danny, Stella, Don, Sheldon, and Lindsey in my office immediately. Tell Lindsey she is to bring any information she has, even if it is redundant and make Stella escort her." He hung up and read through it.
Don stormed in. "What happened now?" He handed over the file and Don exploded in rage, swearing and hitting the wall before turning to glare at Hillborne. "You didn't tell us this for how long!"
"Ten months," he said quietly. "We're searching it out. I have Monroe on it."
"Fucking yay! I want someone more experienced than her!" He looked at Mac. "Who do you want on it?"
"All of us. We need a deeper contact to find the root cause." He waved the rest of them in. "Where's Danny?"
"Out on a call," Sheldon reminded him gently. "What happened?"
"Horatio Caine has had a bounty on his head now for three and a half years," Lindsey said, handing Don the file she carried. "Ten months ago someone decided to note that his husband was fair game, but hard. That the Captain would do anything for his spouse. That's how IAB in Miami got involved, after an attempt on his husband. When it started to point back this way, Hillborne was called and he's asked me to investigate as a CSI." She looked at Don. "Xander's well- protected by them, Don."
"Bullshit! Horatio was just shot in his office!" Stella said hotly. Lindsey flinched. She had only heard about a shooting, not where. "Calleigh called me crying. It was a shoulder shot into his office from one of the ventilation system walkways." She snatched the folders to look through. "Okay, we need what?"
"The root cause," Hillborne told her. "We have a minor one. We have a local contact for the bounty. We can't prove he's doing anything with it or that he's involved and we can't get him to break to get more information. We don't have the root cause. We don't know what it's about. All I know is that the officer down there in charge of it thinks that Xander can protect his husband well enough for now."
"Apparently not," Don sneered. "And who protects Xander and his kids?" Hillborne flinched. "I've got a great-nephew and one on the way from those two. Not to mention the other kids he's in contact with, like the other CSI's kids. Not to mention that people do occasionally manage to hurt him!" he finished at a yell. He called Danny. "How close are you to getting back here? No, it's bad fucking news. Get here when you can." He hung up. He glared at Lindsey, who flinched away from him. "Good instincts," he sneered. "Have we contacted anyone in the FBI since assassination is in their job description?"
"The guy down there's talked to Deputy Director Fornell, the one who helped him when he was nearly taken up here by the director. They've said they can't find out anything more than we can."
"Bet me," Don sneered. He snatched the folders back and went back to looking them over.
Danny jogged in. "What happened in Miami this time?" Don handed over the folders then stomped off to hit some more hard objects and blow off some steam. Danny swallowed. "Anyone dead?"
"Shot in the shoulder. Someone shot Horatio in his office while he and Xander were talking," Stella offered. "Read. You'll explode." He sat down on the couch to read. Then he got up and paced while he read, mumbling something. Finally he turned and punched Lindsey then stomped off. "Danny!"
"I'm going to talk to someone!" he yelled back. "I'll be back in time for the flight down there!"
Mac swallowed. "Okay. Who's going besides Danny and Don?" Sheldon stared at him. "I would go if they need me but Xander can do a mean impersonation of me on his worst days. He's got more than enough guns to last him for the next decade in a stand-off. Stella?"
"I'll stay. You go."
"I'm sure. Go. I'll make you some reservations."
Don walked in. "Where's Danny?"
"He went to see if he could get us a contact," she said, looking at him. "You, Danny, and Mac are going, Don."
He nodded. "Good. I'll get us a flight." He went to do something online at his desk, then came back with information. He slapped it down on Mac's desk, staring at him. "Uncle Patrick would be hissing in his grave."
"I'm not so sure that he wouldn't have known," Stella offered quietly. Don turned to look at her. "When you got back you said something about dissolving the foundation if something too terrible was threatening Xander's life," she reminded him.
Don nodded slowly. "I did. There was a clause to that effect. At which point we'd split up the remaining assets of the foundation and go work it separately. And?"
"The contract is three and a half years old, Don, and he had how many underworld contacts?" she pressed. "You said yourself, he had contacts that could find out anything. Including who Eric's grandfather was according to something else you said." Don stiffened. "I think he may have heard about it and may have been in the process of finding out."
Don dialed a number on his phone. "Ethan, Don Flack. Did Patrick know who put the bounty out on Horatio?" He pinched the bridge of his nose. "Any idea of a higher point than that? No, that's more than we knew. Thank you. Fax it to Mac, please? Yeah, that number's fine. I can gather it. We're on our way down. How is he? No, we were told Horatio got shot in the office. Shoulder wound," he said, looking at Stella, who nodded quickly. "Yeah, shoulder wound. Thank you. Keep me informed. We're flying down within the hour." He glared at Lindsey once he hung up. "Go wait by the fax for the precinct. Gather the stuff Ethan's sending. He's got a higher clue." He called Danny. "Ethan found a higher name. Come back and get it, then ask before we fly down tonight." He smirked. "I wouldn't care but it might go against his case, Danny." He nodded once. "Okay." He hung up and looked at Mac. "He's down in holding looking at one of Sonny's goons. The guy's babbling in fear in the background, promising he don't know nothin', his words."
"Get him. Let's see this link. Stella, while we're gone, you're in charge. I want nightly updates at the very least." She nodded, going to do that. "Go, Lindsey." She headed out with Hillborne. "Don, stay calm."
"Fuck calm, Mac, this is family!"
"Call your father to warn him."
Don snorted and shook his head. "He doesn't like Xander." He walked off, heading off to figure out what he'd need to pack quickly. He looked at his boss. "Someone's got a contract on my nephew's husband, shot him in his office," he told her. She gasped. "Yeah, shoulder wound. Mac, Danny, and I are headed down tonight. Monroe's been doing the case. If you hear *anything* about Miami, I need ta know immediately. We'll be with Caine and his group." He finished packing what he'd need from his desk then typed out a note and printed it, grabbing it, signing it, and handing it over. "Consider me down there until it's solved or someone's dead."
"Agreed, this is family," she said, looking at the simple statement that he was going on indefinite unpaid leave due to a family emergency that involved assassination attempts. "Be safe, Flack."
"I'll do my best. I'll even try to keep Xander from killing half of the city looking for the guy. Can't promise, but I'll try." He walked out, heading down to his car. Danny was waiting beside it. "I'm heading home."
"That's fine. I can take the train from there, it'll save me two stops and a transfer." Don nodded, letting him inside. "You okay?"
"I'm going to kill Xander."
"Xander turned it over, he was protecting the family," he said grimly. "Do you have the feeling no one told Horatio?" Danny nodded at that. "Well, I guess he'll point out that Horatio does the same thing to him." He started the car, listening to the engine. "Out!" They bailed and he grabbed his bag at the last moment, then had to duck when it exploded. "Yup, someone's higher on my shit list now!" he said hotly. Mac came running out with Stella behind him. "I'm going to castrate them before I kill 'em. Anyone mind?" he demanded.
Mac looked at the car, then at him. "I can teach you how to do it and make it last hours," he offered.
Don smirked. "Thanks, Mac. Let me get us both home to pack. You coming?"
"I've got a bag packed in my office," he pointed out. "Go." Don and Danny headed off, catching a cab together. Don even paid for it to go to Danny's place once he got out. Mac looked at Stella. "I want to know by tonight." He stomped off to grab his bag and check it, then make a quick stop to his hidden cache to gather some weapons he might need. Xander had a very eclectic collection but these were his favorites.
To next part: