Hunted And Wanted

Xander came up from the basement on Sunday, pouting.  "I need to build onto the tunnel."

"You don't need all that, Xander.  Give some of it to Calleigh or Mac."  He turned the page.  "What did Toby send over for doing his Grafton collection?"

"That was the flame thrower a few weeks ago.  I just finished his Stephen King collection."  Horatio gave him an odd look over the edge of the paper.  "They're like 'True Life' stories and romance novels to them.  Willow and I read _Christie_ for them and started a small breeding orgy."  Horatio s hook his head and went back to reading.  "Can't I please build on?"

"No, Xander.  And remember, they only saw the entrance from the other house," he said patiently.

Xander pouted all the way into the office to make the calls.  "Mac, make Horatio let me add onto the weapon's cavern?" he begged.  He grinned.  "Hi, Uncle Don.  No, I didn't buy more.  I'm translating stuff for the guy at Tentacles and that's how he pays me.  I figure at least they're not on the street, but I'm out of room after the WWII-era flame throwers.  Horatio won't let me add on."  Pause.  "I am being good, Don.  I told him I didn't need a SCUD system."  He smirked at the shocked coughing.  "Can't you convince him, Mac?"  He listened.  "No, you can't have any of the swords but if you can't convince him I'm to give some of them to you and Calleigh.  That way I have more room."  He grinned.  "You let Danny play with your weapons?  I thought he hated them."  He smiled at his lurking mate.  "Dear, Mac wants to send down Danny."

Horatio took the phone and listened.  "He can keep Xander out of trouble.  Maybe they can do an inventory."  Xander pointed at his cabinet.  He went to find it.  Xander always hid things from him in here, but only the things he wanted him to find.  Because Xander never *told* him anything.  "I trust you and Calleigh to hide them from him, Mac.  If it's one he's not fond of or he's got multiple copies of I'll try to convince him."  Xander shook his head. "You've got enough swords to outfit a full company of Musketeers and an entire Scottish village for a rerun of _Braveheart_, Xander.  You can share with Mac."  Xander pouted.  "That won't work.  Soon please, Mac?  He's already pouting.  We'll let you and Calleigh work that out.  I'm not sure.  I just found the inventory.  That's Xander's space and I only go down when invited."

"All you have to do is ask, Horatio," Xander complained.

Horatio looked at him.  "If I know I might have to arrest you, Xander."

"I was a good boy.  I turned down the SCUD system."

"I'm proud.  Really.  That would be fine, Mac.  Thank you."  He hung up and called Calleigh.  "Xander's weeding out his collection.  You will pick up Mac and Danny so Xander can lead you down there together.  Yes, I'm sure.  Either you two help him weed it our or he's got to build more space. Thank you, Calleigh."  He hung up, weathering the pout.   "No one man needs that many swords.  Not even if you claim multiple personalities."  He went back to his breakfast and the paper.

Eric walked in looking confused a few minutes later.  "Why did Speed call to complain about Calleigh's squealing?"

"Horatio's being mean and making me clean out some of the weapons Toby paid me with."

Eric blinked then shrugged. "So?"

Xander led him down there, weathering the horrified looks for the artillery tunnel.  "Toby pays me with them for translating books into demon.  Horatio said I couldn't expand."

Eric finally closed his mouth and walked the younger man off.  "Has the stress snapped your mind?" he demanded once the vault door was shut.  "What if the wrong people hear about that, Xander?  Or the FBI?"

"It's not like I'm selling them!  I collect them."

Eric moaned, feeling his forehead.  "Did the chicken pox do bad things to your mind while you had the fever?"  Xander smirked and shook his head.  "Some of those are probably illegal to *look* at!"

"None of them are secret that I know of."

"That won't help you if someone comes, Xander!"

Xander walked off.  Eric stomped after him.  Xander turned back on the security system, something he had paid Ethan for, and the door disappeared.  He gave Eric a look then led him back upstairs.  "He thinks I have chicken pox brain damage from the fever."

"I know this hoarding leads back to Sunnydale, Xander.  Don't worry about it."

"Now I know why Speed complained about her squealing."  He looked at Xander. "If anyone asks, I just got here.  I never went down there."

"Yes, Eric.  Coffee?"

"No, that's all right.  When is Mac coming?"

"Tomorrow," Horatio said, giving him a look.  "When you're forced to save the world, you do tings like that for the next time, Eric."

"We're not in Sunnydale.  Unless Cuba is going to invade, we're pretty safe in Miami."

"Maybe I'll be really old and the bad aliens will land," Xander offered.  "Horatio, more coffee?"

Horatio got up to check for a fever.  "Don't wish that on the world, Xander," he ordered when he found him normal...well, for Xander anyway.


Mac walked off the plane with Danny sulking behind him.  "It'll be fine, Danny, just like last time."

"I haven't worn you two out in weeks," he complained.

"Yes you have.  Stella can't sit."

"You were back there, not me," he retorted.

Mac frowned.  "I was very gentle because she was already sore.  You're the one who had her in the kitchen and make her that way.  Besides, guarding Xander is an easy job since he's only got society sniping at the moment."

"Finally!" Calleigh called.  "I was going to go insane waiting."  She hugged them both, leading them to baggage claim then outside.  "C'mon, let's go."

"Speed said stimulants had a funny effect on you," Danny teased.

She blushed and hit him on the arm.  "Quit!"

"Which house are we going to?" Mac asked.

"The one they waited for the ransom demand in.  He said the tunnels didn't connect, that Horatio wouldn't let him put it in."  Mac smirked.  "Big lie?"

"You'd have to ask him."

"I wonder what the neighbor over the tunnel thinks," Danny offered as he climbed into her car.

"They're some of you. They take everything with a 'whatever' and a shrug, like most New Yorkers."  She started the car and drove them back, charming the guard totally before he let them in.  They liked to tease her enough to make her blush.  She parked and bounced inside, Xander looking up from his coffee.  "Okay, we're here, let's go."  The dog barked.  "Hi, Percy," she cooed, petting the poor dog.

Xander pointed at the kitchen.  "Di made coffee and went back to bed.  Eric and Toddy are both upstairs after trying to light this kitchen on fire like they did the other one."  Danny headed that way, bringing out two cups for him and Mac.  Calleigh was already scary, he wasn't feeding her caffeine.  Xander led them down to the bunker.  Mac stared at the door.  "This is the hurricane shelter.  There's a general code that's taped overtop of the keypad to get into the general bunker but not the weapons.  To even expose that door you've got to have the other code."  He entered it and let them in through both doors. The general bunker was basically set up like a family room, only underground.  A small fridge, a few chairs and couches, and a set of bunk beds.  Plus a generator.  The gun bunker was a sliding door that opened behind and off to the side of the fridge, letting them into a small antechamber with two regular doors.  Once he had palmed the outer door shut the lights came on, highlighting the two doors in front of them.  "Big and heavy weapons on the left; swords, handguns, and assorted things associated on the right."  He opened both doors at the stereo looks.  Mac tapped a foot a few times.  "What?"

"Kinda clear there's another door, Xander," Danny noted.

"No, that's a table."  He folded down the table.  Mac went left, Calleigh went right.  A moment and a squeal followed.

"Very manly, Mac," Danny teased, sitting on one of the table's fold down seats.

Calleigh came out with a pout. "I can't move anything in the cabinets."  Xander walked in and opened the drawer associated with each weapon in the index case, then the three metal shutters that hid his swords and those drawers for the collector's pieces.  Then he went back to his coffee.

Mac walked in to see what the noise had been.  "Horatio wasn't kidding.  He can outfit an entire village for a remake of _Braveheart_ and a Musketeer company," he said, staring at the swords.  Pulled one off its pegs, testing it.  "Very nice weight."

"Not my pure silver one, Mac.  Anything on the left panel, where I have more than one," Xander called.  That's all Horatio had convinced him to part with.

Mac put the one he was looking at back so he could poach from the excess pieces.  "Xander why is there a drawer labeled 'Highlander'?" he called.

"Collector's editions."

Mac looked and shook his head, getting back to his scavenging.  He carried some out.  "Where's the others?"

"Basement in cases and in my former closet at Speed's."

"Which is a scary place, Mac," Calleigh complained.  "Speed pulled out a crossbow to threaten a new neighbor."

"It's a nasty slug demon.  They're always into bad things," Xander said simply. "Even if it is claiming clanless status."  He finished his coffee, looking at Danny.  "It's going to be a few hours.  Wanna go for a walk?"

"Sure."  He followed him out to the beach.  "Since I'm to play bodyguard, can you keep it down while I'm here?"

"I haven't had a stalker in weeks," Xander assured him.  "You can spend the whole time playing with Eric or in the labs."  Danny shook his head. "No?"

"No, I was told to watch you.  Or else Mac would have my badge."

"Okay, then you can be bored."

"Teach him how to cook," Horatio ordered from their porch.  They walked up to join him.  "Still down there?"  They nodded.  "I'll let Calleigh make up the hours if she's late."

"Cellphones work down there.  I made sure of it," Xander promised. He stole a kiss and grinned.  "Be safe and today and make someone beg."  Horatio smirked.  "I know, that's a benefit not an everyday thing."

"Yes, but they are nice to see," he admitted.  He left them alone.  Danny had his numbers if he needed him.


Calleigh came out of the tunnel with a few very nice things that she wanted, and a few boxes of stuff the lab could use for the exemplar cabinet.  She smiled at Di.  "He's having to give some away to get  more room."

"Joy.  Let me clear the kids out so they don't have to see the guns."

"Xander's got to lock it behind us anyway. I noticed the doors don't lock unless you input the code," Mac offered.  She nodded, pointing at the very attentive kids.  "It'll only take us a few minutes."

"That's fine."  She gathered both kids and the dog up, taking them outside to play.  Percy may be Horatio's dog but he followed Eric around faithfully.  She kept an eye on the moving progress.  Calleigh got a few more cases outside.  Mac carried some longer, tube looking things.  Plus some of the swords.  She kept a mental count but it was going to give her a headache.  She opened the door to lean in.  "Did he buy those?"

"No, he was given them in payment for translating some things into demon," Calleigh assured her.

"Oh, that's nice of them," she said dryly.  "Then why doesn't Willow have these?"

They looked at each other, then groaned.  Calleigh called Willow. "Xander's letting us yard sale some of his collection to gain more room.  What are you getting paid for the book translation?"  She listened, then smirked. "I'm sure it's just a mental exercise for you, Willow.  Now, give.  That way I can warn Horatio."  She blinked and stared at the wall.  "But I thought you can't....  Ooooh.  Well, decent enough idea.  They're where?  Won't that bother them?  I don't know, like radiation or something?"  Mac raised an eyebrow as he made another trip.  "She's getting magical books to keep them out of other's hands."  She listened.  "Okay, it's your call.  I'm sure Ryan knows?"  She swallowed.  "Willow...."  She moaned.  "Fine. I'll only tell Horatio.  Thank you."  She hung up and moaned.  "She didn't want Ryan to know," she muttered, going to help Mac with another load. "He said you can't have the silver one."  Mac gave it an adoring look. "Mac," she sighed.  He put it back and closed all the shutters and cabinets, then made sure the other one was locked as well.  They walked out one last time, putting up the table and taking the coffee cups with them.  Calleigh tapped in the code that was over the keypad and the doors sealed, she could hear them both seal.  "I want to know who he got to do this work."

"I'm not sure I want to know," Mac admitted.  "Stella might get mad if I turned our safe spot into a bunker that way."  He followed her upstairs.  Di took the coffee cups.  "Thank you, Di."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "How have you been?  And Taylor?"

"She's with her parents this week but we're all good."  She smiled at them. "Can't he get into that from the other side?"

"There's only one door so he'd have to come through, come out the other side, then close the vault door and then back inside," she offered.

"So it's easier and faster if he just pops over and goes into the basement and the hurricane shelter."  They nodded.  "At least the general shelter's nice."  She walked them outside, waving as they left.  "Now if only Horatio would stop the boy."


Danny looked around the formal event Xander had to go to that afternoon, moaning mentally.  This was not his thing.  Definitely not his thing.  Even Xander looked bored.  He personally hoped for a page from Horatio or someone saying they needed them.  Not in a bad way of course, but that they were needed to talk to someone.  He followed Xander around, nodding silently at those around him.  Then again, he was picking up a lot of information playing bodyguard.  He knew rich kids were brats but two of them were talking about major drug deals in the corner.  He glanced at them, memorizing their faces, then back around the rest of the room so it didn't look suspicious.

"Xander, dear, a bodyguard?" one older woman asked, looking chiding.

"Yes, Bess.  This is Detective Messer from New York.  He's had a small problem up there with a case that wants to make him dead.  So we're guarding each other at the moment."  He grinned at her.  "He's trying to keep me out of trouble," he mock-whispered.

She snorted and patted him on the head like a dog.  "I'm sure he tries quite hard, Xander."  She smiled and shook Danny's hand.  "Messer?  Do I know that name?"

"Probably not," he admitted, smiling at her.  "Though we did come down during the lab switch and I'm on the board at the Foundation."

"Ah, that's where I know the name from," she agreed, smiling at him. "Do try to keep him out of trouble."

"Oh, I do," he said with a wry grin. "But this is Xander we're talking about."

"It's probably your toughest assignment to date," she agreed, smiling at him.  "Are you having fun as his bodyguard?"

"I'm learning quite a lot," he agreed.  "I should walk around behind Don when he does these things."  She laughed and patted him on the cheek before walking off to get some more punch.  He looked at Xander, then nodded at the corner.  "The two who were over there?"

"I'll give it to you later," he offered quietly.  That got a nod.  "I'm so bored," he admitted. He looked around then sighed and headed over to one person.  "Isabel, is Melody sick again?"

She nodded. "Unfortunately so, Xander."  She smiled at him then at Danny.  "Horatio hired you a bodyguard?"

"This is Danny.  He's part of the New York lab and there's a case that's making him a big, huge target so we're protecting each other from each other's problems."  She giggled at that, leaning on his shoulder.  "Also, he's part of the Board."

"Ah, I see.  Mr. Messer," she said, shaking his hand.  "My name is Isabel.  I'm one of the local matrons who helps Xander when he runs into social troubles."  She looked at him.  "Someone was gossiping that they saw police officers carrying boxes out of your other house?" she asked pointedly.

He nodded. "Horatio said I had to share some of my weapons collection with Mac, his boss, and Calleigh, our ballistics tech.  When I came from Cali I had a pretty good collection going that someone else handed me since they were given to him and he hated guns.  Mac coveted some of my swords as well."  She blushed at that.  "He did."  He grinned at her.  "I'm pretty good with a broadsword.  I'm still stuck on fencing but I'm pretty good with a real sword."  She smiled at that.  He shrugged. "Each department keeps an exemplar cabinet so I let them browse and borrow.  That way I can find neat new stuff that I will covet and beg Horatio to buy me as a present."  She laughed at that. "I will.  There's a pretty new battleaxe I've got my eye on but Horatio said I couldn't get another one.  He said the only way I could get it was if it was a present.  So I've been dropping pointed hints about presents and axes."  She kissed him on the cheek and shook her head.  "It works for us."  He pulled Danny closer, out of someone's way.  "That'll cause a snit," he offered quietly.  Danny nodded and shrugged. "Anyway, Horatio told Danny he had to play bodyguard today."

"That's fine, dear. I understand that."  She pulled them both out of the traffic and handed him a note.  "This was delivered to Candace for some reason."

"They probably knew she's dating Ray," he admitted, reading it.  He blinked and looked at her.  She nodded.  "No way."

"I'm afraid so."  She stroked his cheek.  "You need to take that to Horatio, young man."

"A threat?" Danny asked.

"No, not a threat."

"Another gift giving person?" he asked bitterly.

Xander handed over the letter then looked at her.  "Any idea who?"

"No, but I wouldn't put it past Broussard to have pointed you out to them."  She looked at him.  "Some of us do know the drill, young man.  Now, how is Toby?"

"Very well.  I'm translating for him," he offered with a sweet grin.  "Which is why I'll get that axe one way or another."  She laughed.  "I turned down the big stuff I couldn't hide."

"Good boy."  She patted him on the cheek again and Danny looked at her.  "I know, we like to pet the Xander.  He's very gentle with us ladies.  Besides, none of our husbands get very jealous since he's gay.  He's one of the few young men we can go anywhere with and he's very protective when he's with us."  She looked at him.  "Stop in on Melody tonight or tomorrow.  Early dinner time.  She's been very tired."  He nodded.  "Tell us what's going on if you can.  All she said was that she was feeling ill."

"I will, Isabel.  Kiss Candace on the cheek for me.  I'm going to use this as an excuse to duck out."

"Go ahead.  I'll tell Bess."  He nodded and they snuck out of the luncheon.  She walked over to where the higher matrons were.  "I let Xander leave a bit early, Bess.  My daughter got sent a letter about a new threat to him so he's taking it to Horatio with his bodyguard.  Plus he'll check on Melody for us."

"That's fine.  He did look a bit bored today.  His bodyguard was also listening very closely."

"They're supposed to," an older, African-American woman with white hair and some very nice yellow diamonds to go with her yellow dress offered.  "My husband's is very good at listening to everything and everyone.  He never says anything, that's the mark of a great bodyguard."

"This one was a detective."

She looked at the two girls in question.  "Well, it looks like another scandal then."  She sighed and shook her head.  "They had such promise."

"Yes, but they're importing millions of dollars of drugs.  I'm surprised they haven't been caught before now," Isabel offered. "Especially when Willow Wolfe went off on the people who were trying to harm Xander and Horatio."  They smiled at that.  "By the way, have you met Willow?  She's delightful but shy.  Very brash and outspoken about what she believes in, but such a wallflower."

"Ray brought her to the Library Luncheon and she blushed and stammered the whole time," Bess agreed dryly.  "She could use a mentor."

"She could," Isabel agreed. "I do have a daughter and Xander if something's seriously wrong with Melody."

"That would be two of his mentors who got sick," the other woman pointed out.

"Tabitha was extremely ill and on her last legs when they met," Bess reminded her.  "Melody's had recurring blood problems for years now.  I'm assuming this is another relapse."  She sipped her drink.  "Where did Mrs. Wolfe come from?"

"Xander's town. Her parents are psychologists, but they apparently went into a cult and tried to kidnap her recently.  They're in Federal detention."  Isabel moved closer. "I heard one of them tried to cook her son.  She was pregnant with her daughter when they tried to take her."

"Oh, dear.  That poor thing.  Were they good before then?"  Isabel shook her head.  "Xander told you?"

"Ray did.  He said Xander told him that they used to run around Sunnydale all the time, all hours.  Her parents had not a clue what to do with a child, even for being professionals.  She's apparently a genius but very shy and has little in the way of people skills.  They're trying to get her to start school this semester to up her people quotient."

Bess looked at her.  "Have her start at Reading.  It's got the finishing classes she could use and is a good, solid foundation for education.  That should help her more than most things.  Plus it would keep the boys from dressing her for every event."  Isabel smiled at that and nodded.  "Thank you, dear.  Anything else you want to share?"

"Xander's got a weapon's collection that he's sharing with the NYPD labs and the local one as a favor to his husband.  They needed some exemplars for their matching system."  She rolled her eyes.  "Also, Detective Messer's boss, Detective Taylor was down.  He apparently poached some of Xander's swords from him."  That got a smile.  They all liked Mac when they met up with him in New York society.  "Danny did mention that Don may do more events.  He was talking about how educating being a bodyguard was, just following around and listening.  He said he should follow Don when he does these things."

"I'll let someone up there know to invite him to something less than stressful."  She went to do that, smiling the whole way. It was good news.


Xander walked into the station and they all gave him a horrified look.  "What?  I'm even wearing clothes today."

"That's probably why they're worried with your usual wardrobe of choice," Danny noted, patting him on the back.  "Horatio and them in?"

"Detective Speedle was the last I knew."

"That's fine."  Xander signed them in and headed up to the labs, waving at those he knew, and the two new people he didn't.  He found Speed and leaned into his lab.  "Can I borrow you for two-point-three minutes?  I figure you'll use the point-three to scream."

Speed glanced at him, then nodded once. "Give me ten. Head to the break room."  Xander nodded, heading that way with Danny trailing him.  Xander was in a suit.  Danny was in a suit.  That meant they had been at one of those events he went to.  Which meant it was probably bad trouble.  He got finished with what he was doing and rebagged his sample, tagging it properly before leaving to talk to his son.  He nodded at the Fed coming in.  "Get out."

"You have unauthorized personnel in here?"

"No, my son is here to talk to me and he's been escorted by a certified lab tech.  You'll find Xander helping now and then around here.  He's married to one of us.  Horatio's out right now if you wanted to nag him again.  You'll have to wait."  He walked past him, heading down to the break room.  Xander handed over the letter, letting him read it.  "What the fuck!" he shouted.

"Told you you'd yell."  He pouted at him.  "Want to tell me how this one happened?"

"Not a clue."  He sat down to reread it, then looked at Danny.  "Did you hear anything?"

"No, Isabel said it got sent to her daughter Candace?"

"Ray Jr.'s girlfriend," Speed noted for his benefit.  He reread it then looked at Xander. "Horatio's out on a call."

"That's fine. I can wait in here.  Danny wanted to turn in two of the society hos who're shipping drugs by the ton anyway."

"Write me out a report, man."

"I need to ta know who they are."

"Which corner and what dress?" Xander asked .

"Right corner, near the bass speaker that wasn't working.  Pink dress with flowers and sparkling centers.  Big hair.  The other had a bun and a light pink dress, kind of plain but in a gauzy material."

Xander got up and went to the office, coming back with something once he had relocked the door.  He had seen the fed lurking.  He waved the magazine.  "Horatio said I could have this."

"You have access to his office?"

"Ask him yourself, nut sucker," he ordered as he walked past him.  The guy grabbed him and Xander glared, making him back up, eyes wide.  "Ask Horatio yourself.  I'm helping in a drug investigation by helping the detective identify someone."  He continued walking, heading back down there.  "He tried to grab me," he said fondly.

"Did you hit him?"

"No, I figured he might try to arrest me if I had knocked him off the walkway."  He flipped to one of the local society pages and then slowly scanned the pictures. "Them?" he asked, pointing at two.  Danny looked and tapped one, then another one.  "Hmm, Hortense and Artemis.  The other one in that lower picture is Treeana.  They're usually found together but she wasn't there today.  I'm not sure if she knows or not."

Danny smirked at him.  "You know everyone," he teased.

"Usually on sight at the very least."  He sat down and got comfortable.  "We've known that they're helping with the import of drugs somehow, but not how."

"Today they were talking about a shipment due in tonight.  Dock twelve from what they were saying. Could've been in code, no clue."

"I'll let someone know.  You sure it was them?"

"Yeah, she was wearing the same earrings and dress as that picture.  Plus the other one was facing me better."

"That's fine.  I'll let someone know to come talk to you both," Speed offered, going to make that call.  He called Horatio as well.  "Your husband is being good, he didn't hit the Fed."  Then he hung up.  He got back to work.  Danny could keep Xander out of trouble.

Danny looked up from talking to the Vice guys when Horatio walked in.  "He's in the bathroom. The letter's here," he said, handing it over.

"Why was the pain in my ass bothering him?"

"He got the magazine from your office."

"Ah.  No one's told him."

"I didn't want to make things harder on you.  You know how some of them can be."  Xander walked around him and grinned.  "Danny heard stuff about a shipment of drugs."

"Wonderful.  Maybe we can stop this one.  Last time they were using code," Horatio reminded the Vice officer.

"We remember but we can still pay closer attention to incoming shipments tonight, especially at the weights they were talking about."  Horatio nodded at that.  "Is that something for us?"

Horatio looked and moaned, then shook his head.  "No, this is another present person."  He looked at Xander.  "How?"

"Isabel thinks some evil, nasty, chaosy person pointed me out to them."  He stared at Horatio.  That's how he usually described his boss these days.  Horatio just nodded once. "Oh, and Melody's sick so I'm stopping there on the way home. I'll give her your love too."

"Thank you, Xander.  Tell her I hope she gets better."  He looked at the letter again. "I'll hand this to Phil.  Are you going to the warehouse?"

"Nope.   Not alone."

"Thank you.  We'll go tonight, together with Speed and Eric if I can talk him into it."

Xander looked outside. "Hey, Eric, I've got another one.  Would you like to come with us tonight," he called.

"How?" he called back.

"Not a clue, man.  All I know is that Ray Jr.'s girlfriend got sent a letter for me to go see the pretty new present in a warehouse."

"Make sure I'm there," he called back, walking off shaking his head.  He went to check in with Speed.  "Going tonight?"   Speed gave him a 'dumbass' look.  "Me too.  He asked."

"Good.  I like that my son requests backup now and then.  It shows he's smart."  He got back to work.  "For me?"

"Unless you want me to get Danny to help you."

"If they're done with him I could use the help."  Eric nodded and went to get him, bringing him back.  "Jacket and glove up, man.  I'm being buried."

"Sure.  Beats a social luncheon with bored people."

"It's the end of the season," Eric told him.  "Even Marisol's bored with it now.  All he'll have are polo matches."  He went back to his own lab.

Speed looked at him. "Polo is croquet on horseback and tailgating.  They even got Don into it."

"I heard.  He made me watch a few matches on tv.  Said it was better in person and you got to pet the horses now and then."  He smiled.  "They're insane, you know that right?"

"It's chronic exposure to Xander's insane life.  Even Horatio's relaxed now and then."

"For that I'm feeding you dinner," Xander called as he walked past.

"Crap," Speed muttered, taking an antacid.  Even the thought of his son cooking made his stomach hurt.

"Xander, it's not nice to threaten to give your dad food poisoning on purpose," Ryan noted in the halls, earning a smirk from Danny at least.  He walked in and handed over another two envelopes. "Sorry."

"That's why I'm letting Danny help," he noted dryly.  "How many more?"

"That's from the shirt.  All taped samples.  Possibly a few on the second one.  The pants are covered though."

"Do a general roll and I'll take that.  It's most likely from the same source so we can weed it out," Danny offered.  Ryan beamed and went to do that.  "Easier than picking off individual hairs anyway."

"Yeah, and much less work on our part.  Because I'd be here forever doing all those.  I saw the body."  Danny laughed. "Seriously.  Guy owned ten dogs.  He was *covered*."

Danny nodded.  "We get cat cases like that."  He took those and got to work on them, making Speed smile.  "Not like I was doing real work following Xander around."

"True. You can come with us tonight."

"Sure.  Think he'll be there?"

"Not if he's smart.  Horatio takes a dim view of people who try for the kid."

"I remember.  Last time was fun."  He grinned and got back to work.

"Who is he?" the agent demanded from the doorway.

Danny looked over.  "Messer, NYPD's labs under Taylor.  I'm down because the current mob trial got me a few death threats.  Anything else?  I'm tryin' ta work here."  He stomped off to face down Horatio.  "Well, he's really not going to be in a good mood now."

Speed snorted.  "That's where Xander was heading, Danny.  We're going to be lucky if he's not in traction later."


Horatio looked up as his office was invaded, giving the agent a dirty look.  "What?  I'm busy."

"You let an unknown officer in your lab?"

"On the contrary, Danny came down during the lab switch.  He's excellent in Trace.  That's what he does for Mac.  He's also a very good field tech.  That's why Mac sent him down to us again, because he knew we'd keep him safe and let him work.  He's more than rated high enough to work in Trace with Speed."  He looked at his mate again.  "I faxed it to Phil.  He's probably still swearing since he hasn't answered yet."

"I thought he was taking part of this week off."

"He might be."  He shrugged.  "We can handle it otherwise."  Xander nodded, getting comfortable.  The agent sneered, he could feel it.  "You had something to say about my husband?"  The man stiffened, then burst out laughing.

"By the way, I'm a marksman," Xander said casually.  "You're well within range."  He quit laughing and stared at him.  "You're upsetting me and since I've got a new stalker, again, I'm doubting anyone would say anything more than 'poor baby' and 'aren't you distraught'."  The man took a step back.  "You needed something?"

"You're allowed in the labs?"

"The hallways so I can come up here, to the bathrooms, or the breakroom.  Sometimes I'm taken to ballistics to help identify guns."  He swallowed. "Anything else?"  He shook his head.  "Good, then go away.  We're talking about my life being in danger at the moment."  He stomped off.  "Pissant."

"Be nice."

"No."  He looked at him.  "Not a chance I'm being nice to him.  I didn't hit him earlier when he tried to stop me."

"Technically you're not supposed to be in here when I'm not.  They can claim you tampered with reports or files."

Xander snorted. "Yeah, because I so wanna do that.  Someone tried to threaten me to and they got turned in too."

"They did?"  Xander nodded.  "An officer?"  He shook his head. "One of the society brats?"

"Yup.  Tried to say I'd be sorry, hinted that Eric was very vulnerable.  I walked her over to Broussard and told him, he arrested her.  She had been annoying his wife."

"At least he did something nice."  He got back to work on the note.  "Do we have any idea who this could be?"

"Someone with delusions and too much money?"

"Probably," he agreed.  The agent and Frank came to the door.  He handed Frank the note.  "We're going tonight to check this out."

"Want backup?"

"We're bringing dad and Eric," Xander offered.  "Were you bored?"

"I can be," he offered, smiling at him.  "You do get pretty and drool-worthy presents when the psychos give them to you."

"I do."  He smiled at him.  "Danny heard two of the society brats talking about a drug shipment.  We came back so he could turn them in and I could handle that."

"Phil's off this week."

"No wonder he hasn't written back," Horatio said dryly.  "Any other news?"

"Yeah, the Xander underground is pouting that he's not wearing the Xander-tight clothes again."

"With what happened the last two times?" Xander suggested.

"Point but they're still pouting."

"I'll try it again but if something happens or some rookie tries to have me arrested for looking hot, they won't be coming back at the station. They'll have to stalk me at home."  Frank smirked at that. "Seriously.  Then again, the guys at the door today were giving me worried looks for the suit."

"Well, yeah, that's you in Xander Caine mode.  They think you're going to break bad on someone."

"I am and he's behind you.  He tried to grab me, Frank."  Frank looked then laughed, shaking his head.  "Seriously."

Frank looked at the agent.  "Xander has been hunted by eleven serial killers since we met him three years ago.  He's our unofficial profiler and bait."  He looked at Horatio then the note, then back at him. "Let me call the wife, make sure she's not going to cry about it."

"If she is, we can handle it, Frank."  Horatio took the note back.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  Let me call.  Make sure.  Our anniversary's this weekend and I'm not sure which day she wanted to do something."  He headed back to his desk to call his wife.  Then he called Horatio.  "Bad news, her mother's in.  Well, she's eighty-three, Horatio.  She still hates me too.  Thanks.  You sure?  I can tell Yelina."  He smirked.  "That's fine.  If you think you do.  If not, call for backup and we'll come running.  Too many of us like your boy to leave you hanging."  He hung up and looked over at Yelina since she was staring at him. "Someone sent Ray Jr.'s girlfriend a letter about wanting to see Xander tonight to talk to him about his undying love."  She moaned.  "Yeah, another one.  They said Eric and Speed are goin'.  My mother-in-law's in."

"I'll make sure they don't need me."

"He said your son's having a special dinner tonight."

"He is. That's fine.  We'll keep our phones on."

"Don't spoil Ray's fun," he told her.  "Guys don't get mushy this way very often."

"Did you see his acceptance pile?"  He shook his head.  She pulled out the tabbed manilla envelope and tossed it over.  He leaned back to look through it, whistling. "He's officially announcing his choice tonight at dinner.  He and Candace have decided to go together."

"Hmm."  He smiled as he closed it and handed it back.  "I'd be damn proud of your boy, Yelina. That takes brains."

"It does.  I'm still worried he'll go to Cambridge or Stanford.  They're too far away."  He nodded.  "At least you don't have to deal with this."

"No, thankfully not," he agreed happily.  "Then again, she's on the change of life babies at the moment."

Yelina gave him a look.  "It'd be another version of Eric.  You know that."

"I do.  She thinks she could keep him from the kid though.  Not that I don't think the kids would play together.  Little Eric can warp other kids so fast their mommies wonder."  She laughed at that.  "He can. Delko told me that he got sent home from daycare for talking about his dog and his two mothers.  They said it wasn't appropriate."

"Pity there are so many bigots in the world," she offered.

"No, the talking about the dog part. Di sent him to a daycare run by a set of flaming queens."

"What's wrong with dogs?"

"I have no clue."  He shrugged.  "Did he sit when Xander ordered him to?"

"I've head him call a heel command and Eric followed it," she offered.

"He took the boy to the obedience classes with the dog," he said in amazement.  She nodded.  They both laughed.  At least the kid wasn't a total brat.  His 'no' phase hadn't lasted that long either.


Horatio walked into the warehouse first, checking around.  Then he let Xander in with Speed and Eric.  All their hands were on their guns.

A disembodied voice called out, "I assure you he didn't need a protection detail."

"One's my father, one's my husband, and one's my coach.  They were coming anyway," Xander said firmly.  "And this is the last time I'm talking to someone who's not there."

"Fine.  Choose and be mine."

"No thanks.  Already Horatio's.  I'm too tired to have a second husband."  The voice went silent and he looked at Horatio.  "Are we done?"

"We are."  The lights came on, showing a few different cars and some stacks of money.  Horatio looked then snorted.  "If he wanted things like that, he could get them for himself."

"He will be mine. I can give him whatever he wants."

"I have what I want," Xander assured Horatio.  He wasn't talking to the voice. There wasn't a body attached and that was a bad thing. "Let's go.  Melody wanted to see you tonight."

"All right."  He took his hand to hold in his free one and they headed for the door.  The doors locked.

"He will be mine."

"Too late.  He's already mine," Horatio noted.  He looked at Xander, letting him free.  He knew Xander was armed.  He could tell, Xander was that way.  He looked around.  "You should show yourself."

"Yeah, this disembodied, Wizard of Oz thing you've got going, really annoying," Speed agreed dryly.  A shot rang out and he flinched, clutching the new hole in his shirt and the vest underneath it.  "Ow."

"Take cover."  Xander helped Speed out of line of sight, then covered him.  "Dad?"

"Fine.  Bruised."  He rubbed under the vest.  "Ow.  That shit hurts."

"It does."  He looked up then around.  "Make me shoot you for shooting my father, watch me destroy you before I'm done."

"You are mine!"

"No, I'm Horatio's.  I have been.  Dad gave me to him.  Didn't you get the memo?"  The gun discharged again.  He heard the direction.  "Do it again.  Everyone okay?"

"Fine," Eric called.  "Horatio is too."  They both had their guns pointing in the right direction.  "Xander, just cover him."

"I am.  Unless you guys both miss."  The gun went off again and Eric shot at the muzzle flash.  Horatio shot just off to the side of it.  Someone screamed. "Nice shot."  They headed off to check while he stayed with his father.  "So, daddy, what am I making you for dinner tonight?"

"Kid, I'm already bruised," he complained.

"It was your taunt."

"Yay.  That's mean to me."

Xander glanced back. "I'm telling Mom."

"Which one?"

"Aiden.  She'll be in next week."  He smirked and turned back around, waving at the guys rushing in.  "Hi.  Horatio and Eric are up in the rafters.  The guy who shot at us is up there somewhere. Speed got hit in the vest," he offered.  Most of them took off.  A few of them stared.  "Oh, please.  New to the department?"  Ryan came jogging in.  "We're fine.  He had on a vest.  The others are up in the rafters."

"Wonderful.  We good?"

"Vest hit.  Just bruised and being threatened with dinner for earlier."

"Okay.  Stay here.  You idiots, guard him since you didn't go."  He headed up after the patrol guys, finding the gun, then finding the knot of people. "Do we need handcuffs?" he called.   A few of the patrol guys pulled off at his voice.  "Guys, off!  Don't make me get Xander up here to spank!"

"Not funny, Mr. Wolfe," Horatio called. Then someone not in a uniform was thrown onto the ground.  "He was trying to escape."

"Gee, my one day a week in the lab was fun today," he noted dryly.  Horatio smirked at him.  "It was."  He handed over his handcuffs, looking at him. "He's going to need an ambulance."

"It happens," one of the patrol guys offered.  "Sir, who was the other one with the gun?"

"Captain Caine's husband," Eric panted.  He held his side.  "The guy kicked me, can't I kick him, just once?"

"No, Eric," Horatio said patiently.  "Ryan, take him down to Xander."  That got a nod and he walked him down there.  The patrol guys took control of the suspect and he went to look at his nest and office area.  It was a shrine to Xander.  Complete with offerings of a few rats.  "Someone get my field kit!"

"Fat chance," Eric called as he came back up.  "Remember, it involves your husband.  You can't work it."  He moved him out of the way and looked, then grimaced.  "Why would Xander want rats?"  He shook his head and got to work.  It wasn't the strangest ever.  Plus nothing was currently dripping blood.  Xander came running up with a sword in his hand. "Xander," he said patiently.  Xander moved him and looked up in the rafters, making him look.  "It's a shadow."

"Bet me."  He looked around, then at his husband.  "Can I have a boost, honey?"

"Is it dangerous?"

"If it comes down, it'll eat you."  Horatio groaned and gave him a boost up. Xander made it into the rafters and chased the quickly moving blot of shadow.  A few minutes later they heard a triumphant 'ha!' and then a dripping and fizzing started.  Xander jumped down and headed their way.  "He's kind of acidic.  Watch the puddles of goo."

"Thank you."  He took a kiss.  "Go back and sit with Speed."

"Ryan took him.  He'll be right back to help Eric."  He walked down there, his sword being cleaned on the towel he had in his jacket pocket.  The patrol guys stared at him.  "It's for rats.  There was one trying to eat Horatio."  He looked at the guy in the back of the car, taking a longer wipe of the blade.  "He give a name yet?"  No one said anything.  "Guys, he was trying to take me from Horatio.  Told me to pick and I'd be his."

"We ran the VINs, sir, and they were stolen cars," one officer offered.

"Excellent.  Tell Eric Delko or Ryan Wolfe that please."  He looked at him again, then finished his blade and put it back into the holder. The man swallowed.  "You are?" he mouthed.  He started to thump inside the car.  "Honey, can I have him removed?  He's trying to hurt himself."

"Have him restrained," Horatio ordered as he came out.  Two guys moved in to further restrain the suspect.  "What did you do?"

"I put up my sword once it was clean and asked him who he was. He started to thrash and thump his head. He's throwing a house elf fit.  Bad, stupid person.  Bad, bad, stupid person, must slam ears in door," he explained at the odd looks.  All the officers outside stared at him.  "Didn't read Harry Potter?"  One shook his head and tightened the restraints.  "Ask him if his name is Dobby.  See what he does."

"He gave me a clueless look, sir."

"Xander.  I hate being sirred.  Not like I'm in the military.  They wouldn't like me," he said with a shit-eating grin.  He walked over and leaned on the door. "Do you have a name, house elf?  Did someone give you clothes?"  The man looked confused.  "Illiterate as well?"

"No!"  He sneered. "You'll still be mine.  My spell will work."

Xander smirked and leaned closer.  "I know many wiccans.  You wanna bet?"  He swallowed.  "You got a name?  Or should we just call you dumbass?"  He growled.  "It fits.  Trying to take me from my mate means you're incredibly stupid."  The man tried to move again.  "You know, most of the psychos who've tried have started out with tasteful gifts being sent in ways that mean I can't find out who they are.  At least you came at me semi- directly.  But I would leave Isabel and Candace alone.  Ray Jr. is very protective of what's his.  The same as I am.  Now, name, dumbass?  Because you done fucked up in a terminal way."  The man whimpered. "Yay. Give it."  The man swallowed and said something quietly.  "Didn't hear it.  Repeat it please."  He said it louder.  He frowned then snorted.  "Ethan's last student?"  He glared.  "I trained in Sunnydale.  Still think you'll get me?"  He shuddered and shook his head.  "Good.  Then the nice officers here can have you put into gen pop so you can howl later on when you'll be taking it up the ass like I will from my mate."  He grinned sweetly and walked off, going back to the car.  "Honey, join me at Melody's?"

"I'll be there shortly, Xander."  He nodded and headed off.  He looked at the man, then at the officers.  "I want a complete report on my desk when I get back in," he ordered calmly.  "People like him rarely work alone."

"He's really your husband?"

Horatio looked at the very young patrol officer.  He was barely older than Xander.  "It takes a strong man to handle Xander's stalker issues, officer.  The same as it takes a very strong man to keep him in line when he's determined to protect his family."   He walked off, heading to his hummer.  His team had it and he had to make this call in case she was terminally ill.  It wasn't like Melody to ask to see him.


Melody smiled when Xander came in.  "Horatio?"

"On his way.  We had to stop the last stalker idiot."  She smiled at that and he kissed her on the cheek. "You're not going to get better, are you?"  She shook her head.  "They're going to think it's me."

"We know it's not your fault, Xander.  Sit, have some tea until he gets here."  He sat down and poured tea for her, making her smile.  "I trained you well."

"Well, you tried really hard," he teased, making her laugh.  "Well, we went to the guy's meeting area.  He had a 'choose and be mine' thing going.  Had a shrine with dead rats on it to me.  Had a demon in the rafters of the warehouse."  She shuddered delicately.  "Sorry, it's gone now.  That's what took us so long."  She nodded, sipping her tea.  "All of them were recent so it's not from when I was stripping at least."

"That's good."  She smiled as Horatio was let in by her maid.  "In here, dearest."

"Melody."  He walked in and kissed her cheek.  "Xander said you asked to see me."

"I did, dear.  Xander, why don't you head home and start on dinner?"

"He's not allowed to cook.  Go order dinner, Xander."  He nodded and got up, leaving them alone.  He looked at her.  "What?"

"He'll be fine, Horatio.  I trained him well."  She stroked his cheek then stood up and walked slowly over to her desk, pulling out two things.  "I want you to have these.  They've got some pictures for him and some information you could probably use.  I've been hiding it for quite a while you see."  She sat back down next to him, handing them over. "I'm not sure if the others are alive or not, but I think perhaps it will solve some outstanding cases."

He nodded. "I knew you were a princess, by the modern vernacular.  Which family?"

She smiled.  I'm a distant cousin of Mr. Gotti, dear.  My father was in imports.  He married me well when he found I didn't want anything to do with his life.  He had my brother for that and it was enough. My husband knew but his family had recently went legitimate so it was a good enough match. Even though I loathed my husband with everything in my body.  Still did the day I poisoned him for trying to kill me and making me miscarry."  She sipped her tea.  "In there are some things that will clear up some very old cases.  If they're still alive, what you do with them is up to you.  If they're not, at least someone will have answers."  He nodded, putting them in his lap.  "Also, Xander does know he's probably not in my will?"

"Of course.  He never expects anything from anyone."

"Good.  I'm leaving most of it to charity really.  No children of my own and no real family I've kept in touch with.  He has been like a charming grandchild to me but they need it more."

He touched her hand.  "He would never suggest it."

"He did ask if he could have the picture of us at the ball last winter."  She pointed at the painting.  "That one."  He looked and swallowed.  His husband looked magnificent.  "He wanted it as a keepsake.  I told him he could have it.  You'll need the hummer to take it home, dear, that's the other reason I needed you to come today."  He nodded, going to take it down.  "Now then.  A new one?"

"We think the Chief turned him onto Xander."

"Hmm, I heard Isabel knew something about the world he came from.  I had wondered about that.  Oh well.  At least she's mostly normal."

"I think her grandmother used to work in it," he offered.

"More than acceptable by current standards then.  Just don't let Bess ever hear that.  She's deathly against anyone not Christian."  He nodded, accepting that.  "Do try to be with him as much as you can.  My death will give him a good reason to slow down next year.  This year is nearly done and I'll die within the month.  It wouldn't be right for him to do more than attend polo matches, but no parties."  He nodded, understanding that.  "Try to keep the poor thing out of trouble, dear.  He's very necessary to the world.  Especially to your world.  Everyone says how much happier you look now."  She patted him on the cheek.  "Now, leave an old woman to her fond past and you go baby him.  He'll need it.  He's an emotional one now and then."

"Thank you, Melody."

"It's not a problem, Horatio.  I have always liked you and Xander together.  You have a very tight grip on the boy's leash.  Otherwise he might be like some of our society brats, as you've called them."  He smiled and nodded.  "Go and be safe, Horatio.  Keep him and the babies safe.  Remember me fondly but remind him you love him more."  He nodded, taking the things with him.  She sighed and smiled at her former husband's picture.  "Killing you was the best decision I ever made," she noted fondly.  She sipped her tea and added another heart pill to it.  Best not to draw this out and be in pain.


Xander decided he needed to be held and Horatio was reading.  That was not going to do it for him tonight.  He leaned over and nudged the book out of the way of his head, getting a quiet chuckle and a hand in his hair as he sucked on a nipple.


"Yup."  He moved to the other side, slinking across Horatio's chest, doing whatever he had to so he could get what he wanted and needed tonight.  Because he did need to be held.  He knew it was going to be a rough few days coming up.  With her so sick, he'd have to do a lot of stuff on his own, without someone to check over his shoulder.  Horatio continued to pet him as he worked his chest over, then moved down to tease the spot on his stomach that drove him insane.

Horatio put down his book, realizing that this wasn't going to be something quick.  He pulled his husband up into his lap, taking a firm kiss, making him pay attention.  "You could try asking."

"I'm more a show it than tell it guy," he offered with a grin.

"Ask, Xander."


"Please what?"

Xander looked at him.  "Please don't make me beg before you take me really hard so I sleep tonight?"

"I can do that."  He flipped Xander underneath him, giving him what he wanted so very badly, just not exactly.  A slow kiss, a gentle friction, and his mate was screaming for more.  Literally this time since was yelling that he needed more between kisses.  Horatio laughed at his exuberance.  "Don't make the guards come tell us to be quiet again," he warned.  "Once was enough."  He took control of the mouth, then moved his hips upward again, giving him more friction this time. Xander hated it when he teased him this way but ...oh, well.  He knew what his husband needed and it was to feel like he was going to have a bit of shelter left.  He knew he was worrying and why.  The same as his reading earlier had been a pretext to see how desperate he was.  It could've been days before he snapped but he had done it tonight instead.  That showed that he was willing to come to him, to trust him, which was a nice thing after nearly three years of marriage.  He let his boy come but he still had bigger plans for him. Plans that included him begging, even if he had asked nicely not to have to tonight.  He loved to hear him beg.

Xander moaned as Horatio cleaned him up, spreading his thighs.  He knew his mate was going to make him fall asleep later.  Horatio was predictable that way.  That's one of the reasons why he loved him.  He was steady and let him get away with childish things like tonight.  He was yanked up into the lap, smiling and stealing a kiss.  A bit different then.  "What did you want me to do?"

"You were the one asking.  I thought I'd let you decide this time."  Xander leaned in to nip his neck in *that* spot, the one that got him claimed.  "Not tonight.  Tonight isn't for claiming.  Tonight needs to be more soothing.  Get me ready for you."  Xander's eyes went wide.  "If that's what you want."

"No, not tonight."  He snuck a kiss and cuddled for a minute, playing in the scratchy chest hair, teasing it gently back and forth.  He decided what he wanted and grabbed the bottle of lube from the drawer, then crawled back to slide some down Horatio's cock.  Then he wiggled his way back into his lap and gently sat down on it.  Horatio moaned.  Xander was fully unstretched but they had sex often enough that he wasn't critically tight anymore.  He moved slowly, inch by inch.  Down, then up, then down, taking long, sucking kisses and slow pets of the chest and arms holding him up.  Horatio finally had enough of the slow and abruptly opened his arms so Xander fell backward.  He pinned him to the bed and went to work on him, knowing they'd need sleep.  "Horatio!"


"I was going for slow and teasing, how you started."

"No teasing.  It's already one and I still have to be in at eight."  He pushed harder and Xander responded to it, but it wasn't going to be over soon.  Horatio moaned.  "Xander, please?"

Xander flipped them over and took control again, smirking down at him.  "Please what?"

"Please make it go faster tonight and you can get me tomorrow after work?  All night if you want?"  Xander considered it for a moment then nodded, squeezing his muscles to clamp down while he leaned down to take a better kiss.  Horatio moaned and got off, that was all he needed.  He even was nice enough to stroke his boy until he came too.  Then Xander flopped down on his chest.  "We've got to start earlier in the night," Horatio complained.  "Eric and Speed spend way too much time picking on me when I come in sleepy."

"Next time, ask them if they're jealous.  They're obviously not getting enough anymore."

Horatio laughed. "I'll let you do that.  Calleigh might shoot me."

"Hmm.  Maybe but I'd protect you and take care of you."  He snuck another kiss then wiggled to get comfortable on top of his man's chest, sleeping that way tonight.

Horatio looked at him.  "I needed a blanket too?" he joked.  He was never cold with Xander in a cuddly mood.


Xander walked into the station the next day, paper in his hand.  "My man in?"  That got a nod so he signed in and headed up to the office, handing over the paper. "She died last night. Her heart gave out," he said quietly.

"I'm sorry, Xander."  He gave him a hug.  "She did say you were like some fond grandchild.  For you to mourn and remember she loved you."

He pulled back and wiped off his face. "Is she here?"

"No. Natural causes and it was known she was ill.  They would've taken her directly to the mortuary.  We can go to the funeral together."  Xander nodded, sitting down on the couch.  "Are you all right?"

"No, and Eric won't cuddle today."

"That's fine."  He handed over the statement from last night. "This was on your mystery stalker."  He read through it, grimacing in distaste.  "Anything you know that you can't include?"

"He was Ethan's student for a while but Ethan kicked him out for trying to move against him.  Ethan said he didn't practice for a few years due to the backlash he created in the asshole by turning his attack back on him.  He knew the Chief that way I'm sure."  He continued on.  "Aww, he was going to give me stolen goods."

"He was," Horatio agreed.  Xander gave him a look and he smirked.  "It could be worse."

"It could be.  At least this one made her laugh."  He sighed and handed it back. "I guess I'm not going to be doing anything socially for at least a month."  He nodded.  "Did she say anything else?"

"Polo matches after that.  Use it to cut down your schedule.  Then you can take more classes."

"I'm still getting stressed just taking six hours."

"I understand, Xander.  Did you talk to the swim coach?"

"Yup and promised we'd send Eric to him after bigger Eric and I got through with him.  He laughed and clapped me on the back.  Told me he understood. He had seen me floundering in classes.  Plus, the foundation stuff."  He shrugged. "Tia's due any day now."

"I know.  I called her this morning.  She's pouting because the baby's not being cooperative.  Plus it gave her two stretchmarks."

"They make a cream to bleach them out."  He looked over as someone tapped on the door.  "Hey, Frank.  Good news?"

"He killed himself by grabbing a bailiff's gun."  He looked at Horatio.  "Whispered rumors state he was writing something, Horatio.  We're not sure it's not like that one guy who killed himself and left everything to Xander in his will."

"Gee, thanks," Xander said dryly.  "Everything last night was stolen though."

"Doesn't mean he doesn't have assets," Frank reminded him. "Just means that he likes to steal."

"Point."  He looked at Horatio then back at Frank. "My sponsor and friend Melody died last night."

"I'm sorry, Xander.  You okay?"

"She was kinda sick and I didn't know until last week.  Plus Tia's coming soon."

Frank nodded.  "At least you'll have some excitement this summer."  Xander shuddered.  "I know.  Let's hope no one raids the OB ward this time."  Xander snorted and nodded at that.  "I just wanted to give you guys a head's up in case it happened again."  He headed off.  He found Speed in the hallway walking and reading. "Hey."  Speed looked up at him.  "Melody, the lady sponsoring Xander, died last night."

"I saw that in the paper.  He okay?"

"A bit pouty but then he reminded me Tia's coming soon."

"Yeah, and Eric's going to go nuts."

"The younger or older?"

"Both.  The younger after, the other before."  He grimaced and looked around. "Hey, Eric, how is Marisol?"

"Cranky.  She's warm and can't get comfortable."

Valera came out of DNA.  "Is the discomfort rhythmic?  My sister had that."

"No, just all over and all the time.  Last two days."  He shrugged as he stepped out of his lab.  "The A/C's down at the house.   She knows she can go stay at H's but she said she didn't want to.  She's being cranky."

Frank grinned.  "She knows she'll have to steal the girl to get it back from Xander."

"Probably true," Eric admitted with a grin, "but momma said she'd enforce them getting time."  Frank and Speed both laughed at that.  "Well, she'll try."

"I thought the baby was Horatio's," Valera offered.

"It is, but any and every baby around Xander is Xander's," Speed offered.  "No matter who the parents are originally, they become like Xander's kids.  We're fully expecting to have to pull Calleigh's away from him too."

"No we won't.  I can't stand the pout."

"Guys, I'm not that bad," Xander called from Horatio's office. "Plus he said someone had work to do because he hasn't had a report all day."

"We were trying to be nice," Eric called, going back to work.

Speed gave his back a look.  "You are?"  He snorted and went back to where he was heading.

Valera smiled at Frank.  "So, how is little Eric?"

"Last time I saw him he was pouting adorably at the dog because Percival needed a nap."

"His mother needs her own dog so I can have my dog back," Xander offered, joining them.  "I'm going to check on Calleigh."  He grinned and went to check on his baby brother or sister.  "Hi."  She gave him a look.  "I came to check on you."

"You came to pat my stomach again."

"Well, and give you a hug."  She sighed and let him plus pat her stomach.  He kissed her on the cheek.  "You need lunch."

"Speed made me lunch."  She smiled and patted him on the cheek.  "Go back to the office, Xander.  Worry about Tia and Marisol first."  He nodded, going that way.  She sighed and rubbed her stomach.  "You're going to be so spoiled even before you're born."  She winced.  "Ow, quit kicking!"  He ran back in and felt, earning a swat since his head was down there too.  "Xander!"  The baby kicked and he grinned then went to tell Horatio.  She shook her head and moaned.  He was having mood swings today.  Well, it meant she didn't have to have any for a while.  Speed walked in and patted the baby, tapping his fingers.  They got kicked and he beamed in the same way, then headed back to work.  "I wonder if they're really related," she muttered, deciding to work on his family tree tonight. They had looked identical with their goofy grins.


Xander walked out of the house the next morning and stopped. "Horatio?" he called.  "You might want to come out here.  Your hummer is pink."

"What?" he demanded, coming out.  He stared at the lipstick pink hummer, then checked the plate numbers, letting out a sigh of relief.   Not mine."

"Then where is yours?"  Horatio called the guard shack, getting told that it was in the parking lot down there.  They had moved it so the person delivering the two cars could put them in the driveway and not on the street today, that way he could get out of his driveway.  He came back out and Xander looked at him. "That's not a happy look."

"Why do the guards have the keys to my hummer?"

"They don't.  Not that I've given 'em.  Why?"

"They moved it.  There's another one coming."

Xander shuddered and shook his head.  "I didn't do it."  He headed inside. "I had nothing to do with this!"  He slammed their bedroom door.

Horatio found the person delivering the other car a few minutes later, tapping him on the shoulder.  "What are you doing?"

"I was told to deliver these to you, Captain."  He handed over a letter. "I was to tape that to your door if no one answered."

Horatio read it then moaned and shook his head. "Take them back.  We don't need them."

"I can't do that, sir.  They're not new cars, we had them in storage for the former owner."  He shrugged. "You can arrange for storage space if you'd like."  Horatio walked off. "Sir, there's eight of them...."

Horatio walked back and wrote out an address, taking the list of cars from him.  "Take the others there.  There should be excess parking at the condo."  He went to get into his hummer, his beloved, normal colored hummer, one that was not lipstick pink, and head to work.  Where he could yell and scream at someone.  He parked and found Frank and Speed waiting on him.  "Let me guess, he collected cars?"

"Yeah," Speed admitted.  "How did you know?"

"They're delivering them to the house," he muttered.  "Who gave the guards at the house the keys to the hummers?"

"They called me this morning to move yours and Xander's car both," Speed offered dryly.   He took the list and frowned.  "Pink?"

"Lipstick pink.  Calleigh's lipstick pink," he muttered, snatching it back and heading inside.  He went right up to IAB.  "Where the hell is Phil?" he demanded.  The secretary swallowed and pointed at the office. He stormed in there and slapped them both on his desk, growling slightly. "I've had enough for the year."  He turned and walked out.

He picked them up to read.  "I wonder if it was the fact he left it to him because he was strong enough to claim Xander or if it was because the hummer was pink?" he muttered.  He called Xander and got yelled at and hung up on.  "Hmm, someone's not happy."  He got up and grabbed what he'd need.  "I'm heading out to check on the new gifts Caine got given.  Hold my calls."  She nodded and he walked out, heading that way.  "Tripp. Speedle," he offered as he passed them.

"Xander's upset it's a new one."

"They left them to Caine."

Frank blinked. "It rubs off?"

Phil smiled at him.  "I don't know.  You'd have to find out and tell me."  He headed out to get into his car, going to talk to the person over the will first and then head out to Horatio's house.  And the condo, just in case some of it went there.  There was no way Horatio's neighborhood could park eight cars, especially not three oddly colored hummers.  Baby blue, baby pink, and lavender.  Caine would freak.  But maybe he'd donate them and have them repainted and outfitted for the lab.


Horatio looked up from his crime scene as a car parked and Phil got out.  "Do we have to do this here?"

"It's outside.  It'll give you a chance to vent, Caine."  He walked over.  "Did you read the letter?"  That got a glare.  "Just making sure.  You know he left them to you?  Including all three hummers?"  Horatio's glare got worse.  "Again, just making sure.  I've filled out the paperwork, all you have to do is sign it and swear."  Horatio scrawled his signature.  "That and two houses were about all his worldly goods.  We can't get into the house for another three days. The person over his estate said so.  Apparently his one call was to him and he knew he was going to do it.  He wrote out the will backing up what he had called about.  He decided you were stronger so to the victor go the spoils.  Including your mate.  He had every intention of killing you and taking him."  Horatio growled at that.  "Anyway, when you go to the houses, I want to be there with you so we can take a general inventory.  All right?"

"It's reasonable."  He glanced around. "I don't need three more hummers, especially not in *those* colors."

"Then either repaint and retrofit them so they can be donated or give one to Marisol and sell the rest."  Horatio snorted.  "Remember, the donation will cut some of the tax debt."

"Point.  How long before I can sign paperwork to get rid of those things?"

"Two weeks. You can have it put onto the market at the same time if you know a good realtor. I saw pictures.  One's in the Gables and one's out by one of the country clubs.  Speaking of, is your husband learning how to play polo?"

"We're both learning how to ride for relaxation, not sport.  His sport is swimming and fighting with a broad sword."

"Okay.  If he does, let me know.  I might watch polo if he played.  A lot of people might watch polo if he played."  Horatio gave him a look.  "I'm realistic.  He's cute but he's yours and I'm way too damn poor for your boy.  By the way, what are you doing about the serial killer's estate?"

"Which one's estate and why is it bothering us?"

He groaned.  "No one told you?"  Horatio shook his head.  "One of them was killed in prison.  He left it to him and Danny Messer.  Said they made a cute couple."

"Which of the bunny paper killers was it?" Eric called.

"The one who was going after the innocents."  He looked at Horatio again.  "Something's got to be decided on that soon.  You seriously didn't know?"

"No."  He called Xander's cell.  "Dear, did you know anything about the secondary bunny paper killer dying and leaving you and Danny things for being such a cute couple?"  The screaming and ranting made him remove the phone from his ear.  "I don't think he knew either."

"I'll talk with Danny when I get back.  I've got the notification in my office.  I'll see you when you get back.  Bring him in as well if you can."  He patted him on the arm.  "Remember, some day there won't be any more of them."

"Will they all be gone and in jail or will they forget him?" Eric asked.

"That's a very good question, Delko.  I'm not sure," Phil said honestly.  He looked at Horatio.  "We persevere so that others live in peace and harmony."  He went back to his car and headed back to his office to get that announcement and make copies of this set of forms.  He found Danny in Trace and cleared his throat.  "Do you have a few minutes so we can talk?"  The Fed in there with them glared.  "One of the serial killers he helped us catch left him something.  According to Xander and Horatio, they hadn't been told."  He looked at Danny, who was leaning on the table and gripping it tightly enough his whole hand was white.  "Calm down.  Please."  Danny gave him a heated look.  "I know.  Just stay calm for a moment or two.  When you're done, come see me in the break room.  We'll go over the notification I was sent.  I asked Horatio because you're running out of time to claim things."

"I don't want something from some sicko!" he complained loudly.

"Calm down," Phil repeated.  "You still have to know what you're turning down and file that paperwork, Danny.  When you're done with whatever you're working on, come see me in the break room.  I'll even buy you a soda, okay?"  He nodded, taking a few deep breaths before doing back up the envelope he had been working on and following, taking off his gloves with a snap.  "It's not that bad.  He left it to you and Xander because he thought you were a cute couple.  That if he couldn't have his innocence then you were the next best thing.  Said you were just as much a predator as he was only yours had turned protective of the innocence that you held in your hands."  He heard Calleigh yell and Danny took off at a run, finding her bending down, crying in pain.  Phil called dispatch.  "I need an ambulance in CSI, in ballistics.  ASAP.  Pregnant tech in trouble."  He hung up and came over, putting the file on the table.  "Calleigh?  Calleigh?"  She glared at him. "I've got an ambulance coming, can you sit down?"  She nodded, letting them help her down.  "Is this a ripping pain or a throbbing pain or what?"

"Ripping."  She panted, letting Danny hold her up.  She winced as a new one came.  "I don't like this!"

Two paramedics rushed in.  One of them knelt in front of her while the other got out his equipment.  "Tell me where it is, CSI Duquesne?"  She put his hand over it, letting him feel.  "Ripping?"  She bit her lip and nodded.  "She's cramping, maybe contracting.  Who's her medical contact?"

"Speed.  I'll get him," Danny promised.  He looked at her. "Want me with you?"  She nodded, clutching his arm.  "Okay.  Phil, lock the door."  They got her loaded once they had a beginning blood pressure and he walked out beside her, one hand in hers, the other dialing Speed's cellphone.  "It's me.  We're taking Calleigh to the ER.  She fell down in pain.  We're going now.  Which one?"

"Mt. Sinai is closest," the paramedic pulling offered.

"Mt. Sinai, Speed.  Yeah, bad pain.  Like crying pain."  He hung up and moved closer.  "He'll let one of the others take his scene and be there as soon as he can," he promised gently, smoothing her hair down.  His phone rang and he answered it, getting into the elevator.  "Not now, Mac."  He listened. "Calleigh's in pain.  I'm going to the ER with her.  I don't know, have Hillbourne call Phil down here."  He hung up and went back to trying to keep her calm.  "It'll be okay.  If they can make it okay it'll be great."  She nodded, staring up at him.  "That's right, concentrate on me, honey.  I've got you until Speed gets there."  She nodded, trying to shift.  "Guys."

"Once we get her on the way we can call about pain killers," he promised.  "It's a five minute ride from here."  He got them off the elevator and out to the ambulance, waving at the ME.  "Not now."

"I'm coming."

"You can follow, I've got her," Danny ordered.  "I've already told Speed.  Mt. Sinai, Alexx."  He got in and the doors were closed, the driver getting in to take them away as fast as he could.  Danny silently prayed for no traffic issues to get in their way, and hopefully it worked because there was only one small accident and it was out of their path.  He walked into the ER with her.  "I'm her hand holder until her SO gets here," he told the nurse.  "She needs me."  He walked back with her, handing over her wallet.  "Her ID and medical record is in there.  She's about six months along."  The nurse nodded, going to run it in the system.  He was gently pried away.

"No!" Calleigh shouted.  "I need him!"  He was let go and she went back to clutching his hand.  "You're nearly as good as pain killers."

He grinned.  "I'm hoping that's a compliment and not that I'm making you sleepy."   She shook her head.  They got her transferred and he got out of the way, standing behind her, keeping her attention.  "In and out, Calleigh.  You know this drill."  She nodded, breathing deeply.  "Guys, she said it was a ripping pain," he reported.  "She doubled over and was screaming loud enough to have it echo.  She doesn't usually even cry."

One of the nurses looked at him.  "We can give her a mild pain killer but it could obstruct what we're seeing."  Calleigh lifted her head.  "You're having a problem."

"No shit!" she said bitterly, then tensed up again.  "Whoever is doing that is getting kicked!"

"Calleigh," he soothed, stroking over her hair again.  "Calm down.  Please?  Let them work, even if it's making it hurt a bit more they're tryin' ta help."  She nodded, tensing up when someone touched her stomach.  "Her boy's coming soon.  He's Detective Speedle.  Scruffy, dark hair, was wearing a button down and jeans today.  I'm just her handholder." She let out another scream and they rushed to give her some pain killers.  Danny was pushed outside the room when she was relaxed again.  He went into the waiting room, finding Speed out there.  He got pounced and pushed against the wall.  "You want the truth or the lie?"

"The truth."  He stared into his eyes.  "What happened?"

"They were saying something about a partial miscarriage. They're tryin' ta stop it.  They think something split," he said quietly.  "I got her calmed down.  I just now got kicked out.  They're doing an ultrasound, they've started drugs, including pain killers.  I was eavesdropping and she demanded to have me there.  Nearly kicked a doctor."

"That's my girl."  He let him go and walked over to the nurse.  "The blonde CSI is mine.  I want an update as soon as humanly possible!"

"Of course, sir, sit down and let us start treating her, then someone will come brief you."  He glared but stomped off again, letting Danny get him away from the rest of the waiting room.  He would snap on someone if he had to deal with normal people.  A nurse came out and he stared at her.  She shook her head and got another patient to bring back.  A boy with a heavily bleeding gash on his arm.  Speed went back to pacing.

"Speedle?" someone called eventually.  He nearly pounced her.  "Come with me.  We're moving her to a more secure room."

"What's going on?" he asked, following her with Danny silently behind her.

"Once we're in there."  They walked into the room, finding Calleigh asleep.  "We knocked her out because of the pain she was in," she offered calmly. She looked at Danny.  "Are you family?"

"I'm the one who's going to keep him from shooting you."


Speed growled.  "Just fucking tell me, woman."

"Okay."  She opened the file.  "It appears that she had a slight separation of the placenta."

"With the pain she was in?" Danny asked. "Slight?  I came in with her as her focus."

"It started off contractions."  She looked at Speed.  "She'll be fine.  We can fix this without harming either of them.  She will need some rest time.  Is she an officer?"

"CSI.  Like I am.  Ballistics."

"Okay.  Is your boss here?"

"He will be soon.  Rest, anything else?"

"We're going to go in and put it back in place with a few stitches.  We can do that laproscopically and not endanger either's health," she offered more gently.  He nodded quickly.  "To do that, we need someone to sign forms."

"Okay.  Can I wake her up and ask her?"

"If you do, she needs to stay absolutely calm."  He nodded, moving over to whisper in her ear.  She moaned and shifted.  He went back to whispering in her ear, getting a nod.  He stroked her hair and she started to snore again.  He smiled and the nurse held out the paperwork.  "Thank you for keeping her calm."

"She's horrible to wake up," he admitted, signing where he needed to.  He looked at her.  "What's the chance of risk to either of them?"

"There's a slight chance of infection but we'll be giving her antibiotics from the start, Detective.  We'll have to keep her here for a few days, possibly up to a week."  He nodded at that.  "Can you get your Lieutenant here sooner?"

"Yeah, Horatio should be here within an hour.  He took over my scene."

"That's fine.  By then she'll be in surgery and we'll talk to you both when she comes out."  He nodded, kissing Calleigh while the nurse got someone to bring her upstairs to surgery.  She smiled at them.  "You can wait up in surgery and there's guest phones up there."  He nodded, letting Danny drag him up there.  "They're a very tight lab," she said happily.  She knew there wouldn't be any problems with her going on bed rest for a while.  They all knew Horatio was fierce about his people.


Horatio walked into the surgical ward and looked at Danny, who pointed at Speed.  "What's going on?  Do we know anything?"

"They're reattaching the corner of the placenta that came up," Speed said, looking up from his hands at him.  "They're thinking about another hour.  They need to talk to us both about her after-care."

"She's going on leave, Speed.  Even if she'll have about two months unpaid, we'll manage it."

"Xander's already paid the rent ahead and put a grocery gift card blatantly on the counter," he admitted.  "Horatio, this was..."

"I know."  He sat down beside him, letting him rest against his shoulder.  "It'll be all right, Speed.  I promise it will be."  His phone rang and he glanced at the nurse, who nodded it was all right.  "Caine."  He listened to the babbling.  "Where is she going, Xander?  Because we're at Mt. Sinai with Calleigh.  She started to miscarry."  He nodded slowly as Xander talked to Marisol, who growled back.  "All right, send her there, I'll be there as soon as I know about Calleigh."  He hung up and looked at him.  "They're taking her in now."  He gave Speed a squeeze.  "I'm here for you, Speed.  No matter what.  Even if I'm there, I'm here."

"Thanks, H."  He looked up as the doctor walked in. "That's her."  They stood up.  "How is she?"

"Good.  She came through excellently."  She smiled at Horatio.  "Lieutenant."

"Captain."  She smiled at that and shook his hand.  "Bed rest and she's on full leave?"

"She could probably come in and do light things.  I would prefer not to let her into ballistics or around chemicals."

"That's the majority of what we use," Danny told her. "But she'll go nuts at home," he admitted, looking at Speed.

"We'll work it out," Horatio assured him.  "Even if I do have her sitting in the lab doing paperwork when she can come back."  The doctor smiled at that.  "She'll be fine?"

"She'll be fine.  We're fairly certain she should be able to carry to term normally but she will be having a c-section just in case.  We've talked to her OB, who will be in to see her like normal tonight."  Speed nodded at that.  "With that said, we're moving her to recovery and then we'll have her in a room within an hour probably."

"Good, because Horatio's other kid is being born," Danny offered.

"Across town," Horatio admitted.  "By c-section."  She smiled at that.  He looked at Speed.  "Speed?"

"Go.  Come back tonight with pictures."  Horatio nodded and clapped him on the back then left.  He looked at Danny.  "I can wait alone."

Danny snorted.  "Fat chance I'd make you do that. You're not even allowed to take a piss by yourself until you've gotten to cuddle her and released it."  He looked at the doctor.  "Wait here or where?"

"Recovery is fine.  We'll let him go in to see her briefly before we move her up to OB."  He nodded, following her up the hall.  "She'll be fine."  She pointed at a bathroom.  "That one is soundproofed if you need to go yell, scream, or kick things.   That's where we usually suggest.  The mirrors won't break before you try it."  He nodded, heading in there to rant and scream, Danny waiting outside for the storm to lessen before he went in to calm him back down.  She smiled at him.  "Follow the blue line, Detective."  He nodded.  "I'll see you in a few minutes."  She went that way, going to tell the nurses who was going to be waiting on her.


Horatio walked into the other OB ward. "Marisol Delko?"

"Are you family?"

"The father."

"Ah.  The other young man?"

"My husband."  She nodded once and pointed.  "Thank you."  He headed that way, following the swearing in Russian.  He walked in and frowned at Xander.  "You're loud."

"I'm doing it for her so she doesn't traumatize the nurse again.  She made two of them cry already.  How's Calleigh?"  He let Horatio have his place, ignoring his broken hand for now.

"They stopped it in time. She's out of surgery, expected to fully recovery and come back to paperwork.  Speed and Danny are there."  He looked down at her, giving her a gentle smile.  "I would've been here sooner, Marisol.  I'm sorry."

"Not your fault."  She panted and arched her hips up.  "Where is the nurse with the drugs!"

"On her way," Xander reminded her.  He looked at Horatio.  "They're backed up for c- sections.  She's next in line. They're doing the pain killers right before."

"She can have them sooner," Horatio decided, going to make sure of it.  He glared at the nearest nurse.  "When is my girl getting some painkillers?"

"As soon as it's her turn for surgery."

"Marisol is a cancer survivor.  I don't care what you think, she's in extreme pain.  I've never seen that woman cry, much less hurt others.  She is now."

"That is normal."  He moved his coat, showing his badge and gun.  "We'll get to her next, sir."

"Captain.  Try now."

Xander leaned out.  "Either someone does it or I'm calling someone who knows how to lay a spinal in and having her instruct me over the phone.  Thank you."  Marisol let out another scream.  "I've been tortured, this is worse than I screamed."

"Birth is a natural...."  Xander walked out and she ran.  "I'll get someone to do it now!" she called.

"Good."  He looked at Horatio.  "She's really fine?"

"She's really fine.  They stopped the placenta from moving further with a few stitches.  She'll have to have a c-section just in case.  They think she'll be able to come back to paperwork."  He stroked his cheek with a smile.  "Thank you."

"Not a problem.  I'm going to be a very hands-on daddy with the baby Horatio too."  He walked back in there.  "Good news, she went for a run.  So either security is coming or the painkillers," he said, letting her have his injured hand again with a wince when she squeezed.  "Just try to relax.  Remember the visualizations Di went over with you?  Try to do those now, Marisol.  Just until they can give you drugs."  She nodded, closing her eyes and swallowing.  "Horatio, see if she can have ice chips?" he called.  Horatio came in with some and a nurse.  "Finally.  This is worse than the time someone tried to take my intestines out through my back."  The nurse gave him a horrified look.  He stared back.  She fussed over Marisol and got the line laid in, making her sigh in pleasure when it started to work.  "There, how's that?"

"Better," she said in a hazy, feel good voice.  "Thank you."  She looked at his hand.  Then she giggled.  "Oops, I think I broke it."

"I know you broke it, but it's okay.  It'll still hold the baby Horatio."  He grinned at her and let Horatio have his spot again so he could feed her ice chips.  The nurse glared at him.  He glared back.  "You think I'm kidding?"  She drug him out, taking him to have his hand fixed.  "No casts.  I've got a toddler already.  Plus a bathing habit."

"We'll see," the nurse ordered, handing him off to another one.  "She broke his hand.  Take him down to the ER."

"Of course."  She looked at his hand, then at him.  "Most guys would be crying by now," she praised.

"I've been tortured in the past. A broken hand is pretty minimal.  I need to be back here for her.  Can we hurry up and put an air cast on or something?"  She blinked.  "That's my husband's baby being born.  I need to be there."  She nodded once and drug him down to the ER to have him looked at.  They gave him ice, took an x-ray, and sat him in a room for a while.  After twenty minutes he got up and the nurse shoved him back into the room when he tried to leave.  "I need to be up there for her."

"She'll be going in soon.  We called for you.  The father is going into the c-section with her brother."  She sat him back down and took the ice pack, looking at his hand.  "That's got to hurt."

"I have a high pain tolerance. I'm a weapons fighter."  He looked at her.  "Can't I just have a pretty brace or air cast?"

"We'll see what the x-ray says."  She went to check on it.

Xander waited another ten minutes, then got up and looked around again.  The nurse glared at him and pointed back into the room.  He gave her a look and she shook her head.  "Nothing yet?"

"Not yet.  They'd just be cutting out the baby, sir."

Xander huffed and waited five more minutes.  Still nothing so he went back up to OB with his ice pack.  He found the rest of the family watching and wiggled next to Mrs. Delko.  "Ewww.  Insides are nasty.  Even if I had the brains I'd never be a doctor because I'd have to see insides."  She took his hand to hold, making him wince but not say anything. She needed the reassurance.  His phone rang and he ignored it.  For now. He'd answer it later.  Whoever it was would either call Speed or would be Speed and would call Ryan or Willow if they couldn't get him.  He watched as the baby was pulled out, smiling at them "Awww.  I thought the puppies were nasty. Or Toddy and Liz."  Mr.  Delko laughed at that, clapping him on the back.  "She is."

"They are," Mrs. Delko sighed, sounding happy.  The nurse took the baby to weigh and measure.  Horatio and Eric calmed Marisol back down, getting a few nods, then the baby was brought back and they let her see it from Eric's arms.  They all awwwed at that.  The baby was put into a basinet and rolled out, letting them all wave as she was rolled past.

"Hold on, blue?" Xander asked. "I thought she was a girl."

"She is, that's the surgical scrub, sir.  She'll be in the nursery very soon for you to all admire. If you'll follow me?  Miss Delko will be in recovery and only her spouse or medical power of attorney can get in to visit her."  They followed, leaving her in the capable hands of Horatio and Eric.

One of the nurses grabbed Xander by the arm and forced him back downstairs.  "You're not to wander around."

"That's my daughter!  Get off!"  He glared at her.  "Not like I was needed down there."

"You're wearing an ER bracelet," she sneered.


"Our daughter broke his hand while she was screaming," Mr. Delko called. "He's our family."

The nurse glared.  "A likely story."

Xander patted her on the cheek, then hit her.  "Get off me, you sanctimonious bitch."  He walked off, heading for the nursery, handing Mrs. Delko his ice pack and the bracelet.  "Sorry, I hate bitches."  He smiled at the baby.  "Aww, I have a cute daughter."

"You do, son, but she could press charges," Mr. Delko reminded him.

"I'll gladly spend the night in jail for hitting her," he said in a sing-song voice.  "It was worth it."  He made a face at the baby, making the nurse smile and shake her head.  "What?  She's mine."

The nurse came out to look at them.  "Baby Delko?"

"Tia," Mrs. Delko agreed.  "That's what they decided on.  My daughter was having her for Xander and Horatio."  She pointed at Xander.  "This is Xander."

"Aw, that's so nice of her," she agreed.  She saw the security guards and then looked at Xander. "Hit the nurse?"

"Called her a bitch too.  Felt good.  When can we see her closer?"

"When we bring her up to her mother's room later, sir.  For now, until we get everyone properly banded and ID'd no one but her mother can see her."  That got a mass nod.  "Okay.  So go back to making cute faces at her.  She's adorable and looks healthy so far."  She withdrew and made notes on the chart about the overprotective family.

Xander looked at the security guard, staring one of them down.  Then he grinned.  "She tried to keep me from seeing my daughter.  The mother broke my hand.  They drug me to the ER."

"Did you have to hit her?"

"You'd rather I have gutted her?"  They shook their heads.  "Then yes, especially since she decided I was a run-away patient, even when my family said I belonged with them.  She's lucky I only hit her once.  I'm having a happy day."

"Are you normally homicidal, sir?" the guard asked tolerantly.

"No.  Just when you try to get between me and my family."  He shrugged.  "Ask the one earlier who refused to give her mother pain killers and she was screaming in pain.  I've been tortured and it wasn't that bad."

"Military vet?"

"Bad city I grew up in.  Bad parents too."

"Okay.  Can I see your hand?"  Xander held it out and he winced.  "That looks like it should be casted."

"I gave them about a half an hour after they did x-rays.  I don't want a cast.  All I want is a brace or an air cast.  I can apply one of those or tape.  It's only a broken hand."  Eric walked up behind the guards.  "I'm trying very hard to be a nice guy."

"I can see that."  He looked at them.  Then he shrugged. "He's highly overprotective of his family.  This is his newest daughter.  The nurse getting in his way?  Only made his husband groan in mental misery."  They nodded wisely.  "I'll take him down to the ER and make sure he behaves."

"Can you take him home?" the second guard asked.

"With my daughter in there?" Xander asked.

"You could come back tomorrow," the first guard suggested.  "See her when she's been cleaned up, weighed, measured, all that stuff."  Xander gave him a look.  "Can you calm down and not hurt the staff?"

"As long as they don't hurt what's mine.  I had no intention of seriously hurting her."

"Okay.  As long as someone will watch out for you."  Eric nodded.  "And you'll go home with him?" he asked Xander.  Who nodded.  "That's fine.  Thank you, detective."

"Not a problem.  We heard the nurse.  I about hit the nurse."  That got a smile.  "I understand security but really.  My father even said he belonged and she didn't believe him."

"That's fine, sir.  We'll note that in the report."  They walked off to talk to the nurse, who started to yell.

Xander looked at Eric.  "Sorry."

"You're taking anger management classes," he said dryly.

"I didn't want to hurt her."  Eric gave him a look.  "I don't normally."

"You don't.  That's why Horatio won't paddle you.  What happened to Calleigh?"

"Horatio said her placenta had to be stitched back down."

"Call Speed to make sure she's okay, tell him about the baby."  Xander nodded, moving to the courtesy phone to do that.

"You'll go with him or he'll leave," the nurse said shrilly.

"Woman, back off before I kill you myself," Eric demanded.  She gasped and he glared, tapping his badge.  "This is his family.  You're keeping him from his family.  You threatened his family.  Feel lucky one of the rest of us didn't kill you."  She stomped off.  Security came back.  "Leash her," he demanded.

"We've been trying for years."

"Last year I saved this ward," Xander said dryly.  "I'm not sorry about saving most of them."  The guards stared at him then one burst out laughing to tell her that.  She went pale and headed in a different direction.  "Hey, dad, how is she?"  He grinned.  "Tia's fine.  She's wrinkly and red and nasty.  Horatio and Eric went in with her to hold her when they pulled her out.  How's the step-mom?"  He listened, then smiled. "Hold on, Eric's here.  Eric, dad."  He handed over the phone, letting them have it. "Calleigh's all right."

"Xander," Horatio called impatiently.  He trudged that way.  "Apologize."

"She was trying to ...."  Horatio glared at him.  "I'm sorry I slugged her and called her a bitch."  He went back to the nursery.

Horatio took a deep breath then looked at the nursing supervisor.  "He is sorry.  He's a bit overexcited."

"He's not the first one who's hit her," she admitted dryly.  "Try to keep him calm and with others for now."

"Tomorrow he'll probably be bringing in our son while I'm at work."

"That's fine. She only works nights."  She smiled at him and he nodded at that.  "I heard they're worried about another patient.  Is she here?"

"No, Mt. Sinai.  She nearly miscarried and she's our coworker and Xander's step-mother."

"Ah.  I hope she's all right, Captain.  Try to keep him calm.  Hand him the baby.  That usually makes even the most uptight ones gooey mentally."

"I'm sure it will. He didn't get to hold his son when he was born.  Thank you for being so understanding."

"Not an issue."  She watched him walk off, then finished the report off for him.  She wasn't surprised that someone like him was excitable.  He was young, gay, and hyper.  They were all excitable when they were like that.

Horatio stopped Xander from moving by putting a hand on his shoulder.  "No more," he said quietly.

"I'm not trying to."

"I don't care.  Never again."  Xander looked down and nodded. "Thank you.  I know you were upset but it's still wrong to hit someone.  Especially a nurse."

"Can we sit guard on her tonight?"

"It shouldn't be necessary."

"This isn't like the hacks at Sunnydale," Eric assured him.  "They have good nurses here, even if one of them is a mean and evil bitch.  Because she was," he said when Horatio looked at him.


"Sorry, but she was!"  He looked in the nursery again.  "There she is."

Horatio smiled at the baby.  "There she is.  The reason all of us are going to be insane soon enough."

Mrs. Delko looked at him.  "You wanted a second child, Horatio. Didn't you think about that?"

"I did, but I had convenient memories of Toddy until now."  She laughed and hugged him.  "We will be having her over soon."

"Of course you will," she agreed dryly.  "We'll get the first week or so."  Xander gave her a look.  "We will," she said more firmly.

"Fine," he pouted.  "I never got to hold my son at that age.  Di hid him from me until he was walking."  She moaned.  "Please?"

"Xander, let them enjoy the grandchild.  We can have her all the time," Horatio said patiently.  "You won't miss out on anything with her unless you get seriously hurt."  He looked at him.  Eric smirked and looked in the window, moving him out of the way.  "Where did you go?"

"They drug me to the ER."


"To look at my hand."

"It's all right?"

"Relatively."  Horatio nodded at that and walked him off, taking him back to the ER.  "I'm fine!"

"Shut up, Xander. I can see the pain in your eyes."  The nurse down there spotted him and stormed over.  "Our second child was just born."

"That's fine.  Did the nurses up there give him any trouble?  Where is your ID?"

"She tried to say I was a run-away patient and didn't belong up there.  Tried to kick me out," Xander said, giving her a sheepish look.  "I kinda hit her and called her a bitch."

"Hmm."  She looked at his hand, then sighed.  "Did you hit her with this hand?"  He nodded.  "Why?"

"Because that's the hand I usually hit with. It's fine.  The little bone is back in place."

"We'll make sure with another x-ray."  She led him to do that, letting Horatio keep control of him.  He obviously held the leash in that family.  He ended up in a cast and Horatio gave her a nod that he would keep it on the full time and treat it well.


Speed looked up as the bouncing ball of boy and cast came into the room.  "Whoa!" he ordered, holding up a hand.  "She needs rest."

"I brought you dinner and pictures of Tia," he offered with a pout.

"What happened to your hand?" Calleigh asked him.

"Marisol broke it.  Kinda a long story.  I hit the nurse who tried to keep me away from her too."  He brought over the bags.  "I checked with the nurses and they said you can't have anything too solid today so I got you a pasta salad.  They said it's cheating but should be okay as long as the anesthesia didn't make you sick.  I also got you some sweet tea with lemon slices so you can add as you see fit."  He laid that on the tray across her lap, making her smile.  "For Danny I got him a real salad since Stella and Mac said he had to eat better or else they'd be spanking him.  Plus a soda.  And for dad I got him real food because he missed lunch."  He handed over the chicken plate and the coffee.  "There."   He hugged her.  "I dropped off a bag of your things with the nurse so they could log them in.  It's from your place.  Jammies, shampoo, soap, that stuff.  Plus slippers and a robe.  I also included one of his bigger t-shirts and sweats in case you wanted to smell like him for a day.  Plus your green dress to go home in since it's soft, flowing, and shouldn't irritate anything. Don't worry about shaving, no one will care."  He kissed her on the forehead. "Also, these are pictures of Tia," he said, handing over the copies he had made off Eric's and his own phones.  "Off your home computer, dad.  I hacked in again."

"That's fine.  Do I need more photo paper?"  Xander nodded.  "How is she?"

"Adorable," he assured him brightly.  "Just at seven pounds.  She's very sleepy so far.  Which means she's going to drive us insane according to Mrs. Delko.  They'll have her for the first week and then we can go poach the daughter."  He looked at her.  "If you're around and don't want to see her for a few hours, I can totally understand and will cater to your every whim, for the most part," he offered.

"I don't mind.  I didn't miscarry, Xander.  It was really close but I didn't."  He smiled and nodded, hugging her again. "Thank you for all that.  Is anyone else coming tonight?"

"Eric's off tomorrow so he'll stop in on the way to see his sister and niece.  Horatio said he might be in tonight but he headed home to tell Di and them.  Plus to talk her into getting her own dog so we can have Percy back."  Speed smiled at that.  "He's my dog."  He beamed at her.  "Did I miss anything?"

"Not a thing, Xander.  As long as you included underwear."

"I did but I didn't look. I just grabbed and looked away."

She smiled at that.  "Thank you, dear.  Now, go home and bounce at home."  He nodded, giving them all hugs before heading home.  She changed her tea for Danny's soda, handing over the lemons as well.  "I'd usually want tea but right now I want fizzy things."  She looked at her salad, then at Speed's, changing it out for his chicken and pasta dinner.  She smiled sweetly and dug in.   His had dessert.

"I would've shared."

"I'm hungry.  Eat that. It's good for you."  He smiled and dug in.  It paid to spoil his girl.  Danny just sat back and grinned. "You could go home."

"I will soon.  I'm basking in the beauty and keeping away from the bouncing ball of Xanderness."  Calleigh giggled at that.  "He was."

"He so was," she agreed. She ate another bite and waved her fork at her nurse when she came in. "He spoils us horribly."

"I can see that.  You shouldn't have the caffeine."

"I don't care.  It's fizzy and I wanted fizzy."  She took another sip.  "I stole it fairly from Danny's dinner."

"Fine. This one time."  She checked her over, then looked at her dinner.  "Better than what you'll get here, honey.  Enjoy the spoiling."  Calleigh showed her the picture.  "Their new one?  I know that nice Lieutenant had to run to see his child born."

"Yup," Speed agreed.  "Horatio's a captain now too."  She smiled at that.  "She stole my dinner."

"Babies often make women do that," she soothed.  She smiled at them.  "Where is she?"

"Women's.  Xander had a broken hand and he babbled something about an evil nurse," Danny offered.

"They've got a few.  One of them got hit earlier from the grapevine.  Tried to keep a young man from his family."  She shrugged. "Should've known better.  OB is one of the worst floors to stop anyone on because they're all emotional."  She fussed the contents of the bag into the drawers and laid out a pair of pajamas on the end of the bed.  "That should do for tonight.  I'm supposing he didn't look when he got your panties, dear.  He got thongs mostly."  She gave her foot a pat and left them alone.

"He said he didn't look, just grabbed," she agreed, digging in again and taking another drink of her spoils.


Xander got tired of the cast and finished cracking it with careful application of the hammer over the unbroken part, then pried it off.  His hand looked horrible but he didn't care.  He went to pick up his son and diaper bag, smiling at him.  "Eric, want to see your new baby sister?"  Di handed over the baby and diaper bag.  "Thanks."  He blew a kiss and headed out, dodging the extra cars in the driveway.  "Your baby sister was born two whole days ago and we're bringing her home today."  Eric gave him an awed look.  "So we're going to pick up Auntie Marisol and take her to Grandma Delko's, where you can stare in awe at the baby and then we'll come home for lunch so she can rest."  His son nodded hard at that.  He got the boy into his car seat, checking the other one just in case, then got in to drive.  He got to the hospital and got Eric out, heading up to the OB ward.  He found Mr. Delko there.  "I've got the baby seat in my car."

"I figured you did, Xander.  Can you fit me too?"  He patted Eric on the head.  "She's in with her mother."  Eric wiggled until he got down then ran in there, climbing up on the bed to straddle her knees and stare at the baby.  Mr. Delko smiled at the father.  "He's very gentle."

"He's had a lot of experience.  He's been practicing on Lizzy."  He walked in and smiled at her, kissing her on the forehead.  "Eric's agreed, we're going to take you home and he's going to stare in awe."

"That's fine.  She is a beautiful child, Xander."  She smiled at him.  "Thank you."

"Not an issue.  You know I like spoiling you, even if you don't like my nursery."  He picked the baby up off the bed.  "Let her sign the papers so we can go to Grandma's."

Eric went running to find the papers his daddy spoke of. The sooner they got home the sooner he could get nearer to his baby sister and cuddle her.  He tugged on someone's coat.  "Papers so we go home?"  He bounced and danced.  "Daddy say need papers so I can cuddle sister."

"I'll get the nurse for your mother, son."

He snorted and shook his head.  "Daddies, not mommy.  Just sister."   He pointed at the room.  "That sister."

"Okay.  I'll get her paperwork and bring it in."  Eric nodded and ran back into the room, then out and next door.  He smiled at that.  "That is one hyper child," he told the nearest nurse.  "I think they're ready to go home."

"That's Miss Delko's family.  She was having the baby for the boy's fathers."  She handed over the paperwork.  "So she can sign it."

"Thanks."  He headed that way, tapping on the door.  "Miss Delko?"  She smiled at him and Eric bounced beside the bed.  "He said you're ready to leave us?"

"I am.  My parents are looking forward to spoiling me rotten.  Plus the baby."

He smiled and took the baby to look over, letting both older men hover.  "She's fine."  Marisol handed back the paperwork so they switched.  "Let me get you a wheelchair.  We have a baby seat?  For them both?"

"I do," Xander agreed.  "There's even enough room for Grandpa between them."

"Good.  It's installed correctly?" Xander nodded harder.  "That's fine then.  Let me get a wheelchair so you can go home."  He went to get the nurse to bring her down.  The nurse glared at Xander and he looked at her.  "Problems?"

"We don't like him here."

"Feeling's mutual and the next one in the family can be born at Mt. Sinai.  We like them.  They're nice."  He helped Marisol up and into the chair, even being nice enough to let her keep the baby while he got Eric and the bag to follow.  Grandpa walked beside her.  They got outside and Xander hit the alarms for the car, hearing nothing.  "Eric, where did Daddy park?"  He pointed.  Xander went over there to look, finding the car.  He did both alarms and came up without a problem so he waved them over.   Grandpa and the nurse rolled Marisol over and got her inside, then he wiggled in so Eric could have his seat.  Marisol got in the front.  Xander got in to drive.  He backed out and headed for home, a nice, sedate pace.  Of course, someone tried to shoot at them.  Xander growled and called it in.  "Dear, someone's shooting at us.  Station?"  He nodded.  "Of course."  He hung up and checked his belt as he sped up.  "We're going into Xander mode.  Please watch the kids.  Eric giggles at this.  The baby should be cushioned well enough."  He sped up further and went around a car, ignoring the new gunshot.  He got onto a street that didn't have a divider and spun into the other lane, turning them around.  He looked at the car with the guy hanging out with the gun.  "Huh. I thought they were gone."  He sped up and turned another corner, heading for downtown and the maze of buildings.  "Let me lose this person and then we'll go home."

"Sure," Marisol agreed, slinking down some.  "Poppi, you all right?"

"Fine, dear.  Is that a siren?"  He looked back and nodded.  "That is."

"That's fine, I saw them," Xander agreed, slowing down and pulling over.  The officer came over and he got out.

"Back in the car...."

"Hold it, look at the tail of the car.  We were being shot at.  They're in a pale yellow, almost cream camaro."  The officer looked, then at him, one hand still on his gun.  "I'm carrying Eric Delko's sister, new niece, and father, plus Captain Caine's son.  He said to lose him."  The officer called that in and nodded, relaxing.  "Pale camaro.  We spun back on the main drag and saw them.  One guy hanging out, blue bandana.  One driver.  Didn't see anyone in the backseat."

"Okay.  They agreed you called it in, sir.  Are you okay to take them home?"  Xander nodded.  "Then let's do that.  I'll escort you.  Where are we going?"

"The Delko's."  He got back in and the officer followed him.  He called Horatio.  "We're heading to Grandma's house.  We're fine.  I told them what I saw when I changed directions suddenly.  No, we're good.  I'll go rant in the backyard when I get there."  He smiled.  "Eric, Daddy Horatio said to tell you he loves you."

"Love you too, Daddy 'Oro," he called, then he giggled.  "Sister is funny looking. Like Lizzy was."

"I know.  He saw her when she was born."  He smiled. "Love you too."  He hung up and headed for their house, pulling into the driveway.  Next to Ryan's car.  He got out and waved at the officer, getting a nod and him heading off.  He looked at him.  "Do you ever work in your office?"

"I came to see Tia."  He frowned at the departing cruiser then at him.  "What happened?"

"Gang banger."  He got the baby out, letting Grandpa have him for now.  Then Eric, who bounced around his feet.  Ryan picked him up and carried him inside while Xander got Marisol inside. Then, as promised, he went into the backyard and ranted and threw a fit.  Their mother came to the backdoor.  "Gang bangers.  Not related to me at all."

"I understand that it happens, Xander.  Would you like some lemonade?"

"Sure, if you've got some made."  He calmed himself then walked back in.  "I'm better now."  Eric smiled at him.  He grinned back.  "It's all right.  I don't like it when people threaten my family and these things come in groups."  He looked at Ryan. "Isn't she adorable?"

"She is.  She's nearly as precious as Lizzy was."  Marisol giggled at that, swatting him on the arm.  "Sorry, parental bias."  He handed her over and Eric wiggled closer to her.  "She won't disappear."

"Good.  Daddy beat someone they take her," Eric said firmly.  "Daddy 'Oro too."  He nodded at that and went back to staring at his sister.  "She come home with us?" he asked over the laughter.

"No, she's staying with her mommy this week and we'll come visit a whole lot.  Then we'll steal her in a few days," Xander promised.  Eric beamed at that and nodded, going back to his staring.

"More than a few days, dear," Mrs. Delko said firmly, making Xander sit down and forcing a glass into his hand.  "I talked with Horatio already.  He said it's not to do with any case, but that road has had a few of those shooters recently.  They're coming to pull the bullets out of the car.  He's sending Eric so he can have lunch too."  She went back to making lunch.

"Momma, I don't want anything solid," Marisol called.  "My stomach still aches."  Eric scowled at that.  "I'm fine. It's where they took Tia out," she explained, showing her stitches.  He made a gross face and looked away.  She kissed him on the forehead.  "That's how she got out.  It's all right.  I'll be fine and heal."

"You promise?" he asked, hugging her.  "Not lose you like Auntie Melody."

"I promise, honey.  I promise a lot."  She kissed him on the top of the head, looking at Xander.  "Melody died?"  He nodded.  "When was her funeral?"

"Yesterday," he admitted quietly.  "That's why we were late yesterday."  She nodded, accepting that and going back to being a mommy.

Ryan smiled.  "You're good at that, Marisol.  As good as Xander is."  She smiled at that.  He stood up.  "I'd better get back to the courthouse.  I've got an afternoon meeting with one of the other judges who's going to lay down the law again.  He thinks I'm lenient."  He shrugged and hugged Eric's mother and clapped Eric's father on the shoulder, then looked at Xander.  "You'll be okay?"

"I'll be fine.  It wasn't related back to us."  Ryan nodded, giving him a shoulder squeeze before leaving.  Eric looked at his father.  "I will be."

"Daddy 'Oro make all better," Eric reminded him, then went back to his cuddling.

"That's very wise," Mrs. Delko agreed.  "Your daddy Horatio can make it all better."  She gave Xander a pointed look and he quit slouching. She turned it up and he nodded.  "Where is your cast?"

"Probably on the back porch where I cut it off.  I didn't need it and it was annoying me."

"Didn't you need to leave it on for weeks?" Mr. Delko asked.

"My hand feels fine."  He flexed it and kept himself from wincing.  They both stared at him, along with Marisol.  "I'm fine."

"If you say so," Mr. Delko decided, sitting down next to his little girl to hold her and the kids.  "Maybe Eric should stay with us tonight."

"He's staying with us tonight," Xander reminded him.  They stared him down.  "Or with his mons."  Eric came in.  "Tell them I can handle the kids."

"Where's your cast?"

"Gone.  It was annoying and my hand's fine."

"It's been three days, Xander."  Xander shrugged. "I'm telling Horatio and Speed."

"Both of them don't need the aggravation," Xander said wisely.  "Quit being a nark."  He went back to watching his kids. "Eric's been staring the whole time.  He even ran out to get the papers so we could go."

"I'm very proud of him," bigger Eric agreed.  "Unlike what I am of you."

"Horatio said it's not related."

"Maybe not, but you still took your cast off after three days, Xander."  He took his sandwich and drink from his mother then went to eat while he pried the bullets out.  He saw a patrol stop and look at him, flashing his badge.  "They got shot on Cabbaro."

"We heard there was another one.  Any idea what?  That hasn't made it back to us yet, sir."

"Xander!"  He came to the door.  "What were they driving this time?"

"Pale camaro.  Blue bandana on the shooter, he was leaning out.  I changed lanes and directions suddenly when we got past the dividers. I didn't see anyone in the backseat but I was more interested in getting away."

"Thank you, sir.  Are you all right?"

"Fine.  Not the first time."

That got a smirk from the officer.  "We figured as much, sir.  Your son all right?"

"Just fine.  Staring at his new sister like she's a Goddess.  As it should be."  That got a smile and they headed off.  He looked at Eric.  "I heard at least two."

"One didn't hit you then.  I only see one hole."  He finished prying it out and put it into a baggie, then sealed it and put it into his case, coming back inside.  "You did what with the kids and Marisol in the car?"

"And your father in the back.  They shot at us.  I did some defensive driving. I sped up, I swerved around people, when I got to a spot that didn't have the pretty dividers I changed sides of the road so I got a look at them and lost them by taking the next available corner.  A patrol stopped us after that, I got out to talk to him, scared the shit out of him when I did it, he called it in to check, I had already called Horatio.  We came here with an escort once he had verified.  I threw a fit in the backyard.  Then I came in to lemonade.  Oh, and Ryan popped by to see Tia."

"Good.  Everyone should worship my niece."  He looked at her, then at his sister, who was napping with Eric cooing and petting her hair.  "You're very good at that."  Eric smiled and went back to it.  Bigger Eric finished his lunch and kissed his parents on the cheek, then patted the baby on the head before leaving and going back to work.  He walked into the station, finding Horatio waiting. "They're fine.  Eric was cooing to help Mari sleep with the baby in her arms.  He's staring at her like she's a Goddess according to Xander.  Xander's calm again, he said he threw a fit in the backyard.  Everyone's all right.  The patrol guy who stopped while I was there to see what sort of car it was asked about the kids."  Horatio smiled at that. "Eric is already as overprotective as his daddy is of his little sister.  My mom thinks Eric should stay with them tonight.  Xander's cast is missing."  Horatio groaned.  "He claims his hand is fine.  To not bother you with this since you're already stressed.  He said it's not related because you said so."

"I don't think it is.  There've been random attacks on that street now for the last few days."  He moved closer.  "Everyone's all right?"

"Everyone's fine, Horatio.  Even your boy.  Even your son and daughter.  Even Mari and Poppi."  He nodded at that, smiling slightly.  "Eric was cuddling Mari's shoulder and petting her hair while cooing at her to put her to sleep while she held Tia.  When they're both older she won't be able to date for her big brother."  Horatio smiled at that.  "They're fine at the house, Horatio."

"That's fine.  How was Xander?"

"Edgy.  Trying to relax.  His hand's got to be killing him."  Horatio gave him a look.  "He may be himself but he still broke his hand three days ago."

"Point.  Where did he say his cast was?"

"Probably still on the back porch where he cut it off."

"Ah."  He nodded and went to call the family to check on them.  Then Speed to check on him and Calleigh.  Speed had Xander's spare laptop so he could log in and work from a distance today and tomorrow.  He found an email waiting on him from his boss, calling him.  "You needed to speak to me, Chief?"  He listened, then grimaced.  "She's fine, Chief.  Xander's with her and the baby, plus Eric and Delko's family.  Why?"  He leaned back, looking amused.  "I didn't realize you had those."  He grimaced.  "How sure are you?"  He nodded once.  "Them, him, or her?"  He nodded a second time.  "I'll keep that in mind. Thank you."  He called Mrs. Delko again.  "I may have been wrong.  Tell Xander that someone may be tracking him.  To turn on his phone and keep his phone on in case we need a GPS lock.  Tell him to head home.  Alone.  I'll have Eric pick up the baby on his way home tonight.  Thank you."  He hung up and leaned back again, pulling out the GPS monitor from his drawer and turning it on.  It would track Xander no matter where he went.


Mrs. Delko hung up.  "Xander, dear, stay calm...."

"It is about me and I need to head off while you watch the kids?" he suggested, standing up.  She nodded.  He finished his lemonade, then hugged everyone, whispering in Eric's ear.

His son stared at him for a minute.  "Remember, Daddy 'Oro fix everything.  He say so."  Xander nodded and smiled, patting him on the head before heading out to his car.  He looked at Grandma.  "Cookies?" he asked with a brilliant grin.

"We'll see.  After lunch. You know that."

"But sister need cookies."

"She can't eat cookies for a few months, Eric," Mr. Delko said patiently.  "You can have cookies after lunch."

"'Brate, like birthday?  Have cookies for that?"

Both adults sighed but she was trying not to laugh.  "After lunch you can celebrate her being born.  Her first birthday is in a year and she'll have cake then."

"Randy have cookie cake, and ice cream," he assured her.

"We can do that when she's having her real birthday and you can have cookies after lunch.  Now, quit, or no cookies and no cooking with Grandma."

"Stay sister.  'Tect sister."   He put his head back down and went back to cooing and petting his auntie, who was marvelous. She had put up with his sister and gotten big owwies to give him a sister.  She was next to that god Grandma talked about now and then for giving him a sister.  Grandma said he did great things that made people happy, and sisters were like that so far.  Even if Toddy didn't like his for her diapers.  "Cookies now?" he asked a minute later.

Both parents laughed.  He was definitely Xander's son.


Xander saw the lights and pulled over.  He hadn't been going very fast.  He was actually at the speed limit at the moment.  His lights were still working, not that he had them on.  He rolled down his window and pulled down his visor to get his registration and insurance card, then shifted to get his license out.

"Please don't move, sir."

"Sorry, getting my license.  What did I do wrong?  I didn't think I was speeding."  He settled back into his seat with his wallet in his lap.  The officer moved closer.  "What's wrong?  What did I do wrong?"

The officer looked at him. "You exist."  He shot him in the neck.  Ten thousand volts of electricity went through him until he was unconscious.  "Pity you were born."  He looked around then nodded at his partner, pushing Xander over and getting in to drive.  Anyone else would think he was going home or coming to work his shift.  Most cops didn't get to take cruisers home.  He pulled into his temporary driveway and got out, his partner nodding as he drove on.  He got Xander out and inside, tying him to a chair.  Then he went to change.

When Xander woke up, he was tied to a chair, had a splitting headache, and even he would admit his hand hurt.  "Where am I and who are you?" he asked patiently.  "Besides terminally stupid."

"You are here and this is the next-to-last place you will know."  He smirked at him.  "As for who I am?  No one you need the name of.  Now, let's search you for listening devices.  You obviously had a clue I would be seeing you today."  He ran the scanner over him, a normal hand-wand scanner.  It beeped on his crotch and he gave him a look. "Piercing?  Kinky."

"Very.  Thank you for asking."  It kept going and he smirked at the second beep. "What can I say, it's the angle."  He gave him a look and got backhanded and the chair was kicked backwards.  He landed on his hand, letting out a small yelp before he could control it.  "I'm not that weak, thank you.  I learned better in my early life."  He rocked the chair and got onto his side.  "Ah, better now."  He had to keep some control of the situation.  The guy kicked his thighs apart and tried it again, getting the beep on the inside of his thigh.  "Last year Horatio implanted a GPS chip but it's been removed.  It's probably residue."  Pure lie.  It was still there.

"We'll see."  He pulled out a knife and cut his pants and briefs off, looking at his dick. "Where's the ring?"

"Behind it.  Got another comment?"  The man snorted and looked at his thigh, pressing on it hard.  Xander didn't let himself react, even if that was on a nerve point and too high up.  The man stared at him and pressed harder, then suddenly stabbed him in it.  That got a small moan.  "Feel better now?" he hissed through the pain, his teeth clenched.  "Why don't you untie me so we can go for real?"

"Where's the fun in that?"  He pulled the chair up and let it rock back into place, sitting in front of him.  "Now, I want to know why you hang out at the police station."

"My father works there."

"Hmm.  Any other reasons?"

"None that I feel like sharing."

"Pity. I saw you in the sports and the society pages."  Xander shrugged as much as he could and got backhanded again.  "Be civil."

"I was, I didn't spit."  He spit the blood in his face. Then he smiled.  "There, now I'm uncivil.  Level with me and you might get what you want.  What?  Money?  A hostage to talk to the cops with and about?  What?"

"No.  I have you."  He tipped his head to look at him for a minute, then traced a line on his shoulder with the knife, circling the gunshot wound.  "You're not a cop?" Xander shook his head.  "You were with them."

"Like I said, my father works there."

"No one in that office is old enough to be your father, kid.  Not even Tripp."

"First, I'm only twenty-two.  Yes there are.  Secondly, who said it was biological?  That's an assumption.  I'm told those are wrong by the psych teachers I took in the past."  He got hit again and this time the knife dug into the scar for his former gunshot wound.  He ground his teeth together again, then took a calming breath once it was gone.  "I've had worse."

"You're sure?"

"I am.  Hell, my parents tried to sell me to worse than you."  He gave him a long stare.  "Do I know you?"

"Maybe.  Where you from?"


The man shook his head.  "Never heard of it."  He smirked. "Don't worry, I'm not one of those sick, gay bastards."

"Pity, because I am."  He spit at him again and then smirked.  "I'm having fun now.  You?"

The man smirked back.  "You're going to be fun prey for my clients."

"I doubt it.  I'm not fun for anyone but my husband."  The man laughed at that.  "Seriously.  Plenty of stalkers and serial killers have found me very unfun."  The man smiled at that.  "What?  Suspected that I'd been hunted?"

"I know you have. You've got 'prey' written all over you."

"Actually, I don't.  I've got 'hunter' written all over me.  In every pore of my body. Your clients will quickly become the prey. Even if I'm injured."  The man laughed and got up, heading to a wall.  He came back with a pool cue.  Xander tensed and calmed his mind.  He reminded himself he had had worse.  Even when his broken hand got broken more.  He fell deeper into his mind, letting all the instincts work for him.  He didn't even realize it when the guy stopped until he got slapped and hit with water.  He came back slightly and looked at him.  "Tired already?  You're fucking pathetic.  I had worse than this when I was eleven."  He fell back into his mind, waiting.  He knew Horatio would be coming for him.  Even when the guy picked up a thicker rod and started on his upper arms.


Horatio walked out of his office.  "People."  Everyone stopped and came out of their labs.  "We have a missing spouse, again.  Word came to me that there was a cruiser stolen from downtown.  Traffic cameras show that they stopped Xander."  Eric looked at him.  "We have a GPS lock and it's not a normal spot for him to be at.  Eric, I'm leaving you in charge until Speed gets here."

"I'm going."

"He was alone, Eric.  You're staying. You're in charge."  He left, heading down to meet up with the SWAT team in the truck.  He handed over the GPS monitor.  "Best investment he ever made."  They nodded.  "We have no idea who has him but the only clue I got said it wasn't related to his usual thing."

"You're staying in the truck," the team leader said.

Horatio looked at him. "If Xander's too injured, he'll attack you too.  He won't attack me.  I'll go in last."  That got some hot looks. "You'd rather have to fight the victim too?"  They shook their heads, they had seen Xander in action a few times apparently.  "How many times have you guys rescued Xander?"

"Three," everyone said.  Horatio glared.  "You knew about two of them," they all noted.

"Yay," Horatio offered.  The truck took off and he did up his vest.  "I'm still going in.  Xander's probably in pain.  He will attack you if he's loose."  He had seen him do it before.  He concentrated on his thoughts, getting into that calm frame of mind.  He needed to be calm or else he was going to kill the person who had his spouse.  They pulled up at the address and Horatio got out last, as promised.  They moved up the driveway, finding two entries.  The team split and two guys went around the back.

"Car in the garage," one guy reported over the radio.

"I can hear noises, ranting," one of the guys in the back reported.  "No visual."

"Okay, we go in this way," the team leader ordered.  They nodded and took their rehearsed positions.  "Miami-Dade PD!"  The door was knocked in and they headed in.  Horatio took the rear position.  One of the guys gasped at something and he glanced.  Human hunting trophies.  He kept going after the leader.  They found a back room with a padlock-shaped set of screws high up.  He nodded the door buster in and they hit the door once.  It held, rocked but held.  They tried it again.  It still held.  Horatio growled and blew in the bolt-shaped place, making it explode and splinter.  This time the door went in.  "Miami-Dade PD!" the leader called, heading in.

The guy in there backed up, grabbing something that looked like a gun. "I'll kill him!"  He heard a growl and looked at his victim, who should be unconscious.  That's why he had untied him and was ranting over his unresponsive body about how great he wasn't.  Xander lunged up and got him by the throat, squeezing and growling in his ear, making him shiver.  He dropped the taser, waving his arms.

"Xander, off!" Horatio ordered.  Xander sniffed then backed off.  "Come here."  Xander backed up.  "Xander."  He moved closer.  "Xander."  He put away his gun.  The guy lunged for him and he knocked him onto his ass and kicked him in the side, then moved closer.  "Xander," he said quietly.  "My mate.  Here.  Now.  To me.  Come."  Xander let out a small whimper.  "I know.  I'll protect you while you heal.  Come here."  Xander went limp and he caught him.  "We'll need a medic."

"Will he be all right?"

"Eventually.  Get that idiot out of here before I kill him," he ordered coldly.  Paramedics rushed in and he looked at them.  "He goes to Mt. Sinai."  They gave him an odd look.  "He doesn't like the nurses at University.  He hit one the other day."  That got a nod and they helped load him.  They heard the growl and backed off. "Xander, those are paramedics.  I'm staying with you."  He got another whimper and leaned closer to his ear. "I'm here.  I'm staying here.  Let the antiseptic smelling people help me take care of you.  Even if I don't have you every minute, I'm there."  Xander leaned toward him.  "Good boy.  Very good boy, Xander.  Come on, let's go."  He looked at the paramedics.  "He's a victim of a very bad town."  They nodded and let him follow.  He called Eric.  "We have him.  Get someone to process this place before I burn it."  He climbed into the back of the ambulance and took Xander's hand. "I'm here."  He got another soft growl.  "No, I'm here.  You'll let me handle this."

"Daddy 'Oro fix everything," he whispered.

"That's right, our son was right.  I will."  He stroked over his forehead.  "Radio ahead, make sure they've got a camera ready.  We'll need to take crime scene photos."  They gave him a scared look and he glared.  "I am Captain Horatio Caine.  I said so," he snarled.  They nodded and radioed that in.  They had heard of him apparently because when they got in there, they let him take whatever photos he wanted and had a paper bag ready for his clothes.  Horatio handed off the camera, letting it be put into the bag as well.  "He's in his mind.  He's growling," he told the nurse.  She nodded.  "Do not strap him down.  There's a reason for this."

"How bad were his parents?" one of the doctors asked.

"They sold him a few times to people who liked to torture him," Horatio said quietly.  "Look at his side."  They did and nodded.  "This is without pain killers."

"We'll sedate him," they promised, doing that so he could leave and wait outside, staring in the windows.  Because there was no way he was moving.

Speed walked up behind him and looked then at him.  "Eric took the scene anyway.  He was the only one in."

Horatio looked at him.  "He was growling."

"He's probably in a hell of a lot of pain.  Eric was growling about the trophies.  What trophies?"

"Apparently he hunted humans."

"Uh-huh.  Can I work the scene?"  Horatio looked at him.  "Please?"

"You'd taint it."

"He'll die in prison anyway."

"He'll plead mental incapacity and go there instead," he said, looking inside again.  He opened the door.  "He's coming around."  They stared at him.  "He's my husband.  He's probably halfway awake at the least.  Xander?  They're trying to fix you."

"Owwies," he whined.  He walked in and whispered in his ear, getting a sigh of complaint and Xander relaxing again.

"Okay," one of the nurses said.  "The other person is?"

"His adoptive father."  They nodded.  "Can he be moved?"

"We're going for x-rays."

Speed leaned in.  "He had a broken hand already.  It might be worse.  They did it at University the other day."

"We got his files from the local hospitals," one of the nurses offered.  "He struck a nurse?"

"She was trying to keep him from our daughter," Horatio offered.  "He's very protective of his family."  Xander tensed.  "Xander, where does it hurt?"


"Let's roll him onto his side."  Xander tried to move.  "No, let us.  That way you don't get hurt more."  They rolled him onto his side and winced at the cuts and bruises.  "Yes, I'd say that hurt.  A lot."  They put him into a more comfortable position.  "He's going to be here for a while, sir."

"I doubt it.  He hates hospitals."  He looked at Speed. "Go run the office."

"Nope."  He came in and tapped Xander on the head, getting a bleary look.  "If you behave, we'll let you go float in the pool."  Xander let out a tired smile.  "But you've got to behave."

"Hate being injured."

"Yay.  Like when you had chicken pox, Horatio and all of us will get to spoil and fuss over you."  Xander shook his head.  "Yes, Xander."

"Uh-uh.  I hide," he said in a childish voice.  "Whining is bad and it'd annoy him."

"Tough, Xander," Horatio ordered.  Xander tried to move and Speed caught him.  He went to the higher authority of the one person who could make Xander see being fussed over wasn't bad.  Even if he thought so himself.  He called New York.  "Mac, talk to Xander.  Tell him he's too injured to leave.  He's so injured the doctors are crying."  He handed over the phone.


Mac looked at the judge.  "I have to take this or else he's going to escape from the hospital with life threatening injuries. May I have five minutes?"

"He can't wait?" the judge sneered.

"No.  He can't."  He got up and walked into the hall.  "Xander, tell me about the injuries?"  He listened and moaned.  "Xander, you know what medics are.  Let them treat you.  At least to the point where you're ready to fuss and itch.  Then you can escape home."  He listened to Horatio's quiet report about the injuries, wincing.  "How?"  He listened to that as well.  "Where was Danny?  I thought we agreed he'd watch over Xander."  He sighed.  "That's fine.  Will he be okay?"  He looked at the pictures coming in and shuddered.  "Tell him he's got to stay with the medics until he's ready to itch.  Then he can come home."  He smiled.  "Yes, I said so.  You get the guy?"  He relaxed.  "Thank you.  Let me know."  He hung up and walked inside, showing the judge the pictures, making him turn green.  "He wanted to leave the ER with those.  Yes, it was important."

"Very well.  I can consider that important.  Is he expected to live?"

"He's as tough as I am.  He was trying to get up and walk out." He retook his seat and looked at the lawyers.  "Sorry.  Escaping injured person."  He tucked his phone into his pocket and gave them an attentive look.

"We heard you mention a Danny in that call, Detective Taylor.  Would that be Detective Messer?"

"It would be and he's out of the city at the moment.  I trust him to look after him with the victim's husband's help.  He's not a witness that I know of and it's safer for him to be there instead of here, where he had gotten death threats."

"I see.  What if he is a witness?"

"Then we can get him back for you and guard him until he goes back.  They'll need the help with one tech out due to pregnancy and another just becoming a father for the second time."   That got a wise nod.  "He's filling in during a critical time."

"In another lab?"  Mac nodded.  "In which city?"

"I'm not going to tell you that in open court.  Your client issued ten different death threats to Detective Messer in the course of a week.  I'm not giving him any help."

The judge coughed.  "Is he in the United States?"  Mac nodded. "Easily retrievable?"

"A phone call and a flight."

"I see.  Within how many hours could he reappear?"

"Six at the earliest probably.  A day at the most."

"That's fine," he agreed.  "I agree, due to the death threats, we don't need to know his exact location."

"Fine," the lawyer agreed.  "I will be calling him as a witness."

"He had nothing to do with the case," Mac reminded him.  "He didn't even run any of the tests."  The lawyer glared at him and Mac glared back, his most evil, cold glare.  The man took a step back.  "Did you have more questions for me?" he asked politely.

The lawyer checked his sheet then nodded.  "I do.  Where did you get the mall footage?"

"From the security office. They're who tape the mall."


Xander woke up in pain and in a hospital room, nowhere else smelled that foul.   He groaned and sat himself up, holding his head.  He looked at his arms, then his legs.  "I look like I'm in some strange body armor," he complained.  He looked around his room, then at the button beside his bed.  He pushed it.  A nurse came in and tried to make him lay down but he swatted at her and sat back up again, moaning a bit.  "I'm not my son's age," he growled.

"Need a pain killer, sir?"

"Yes, and a situation report."

"That I can't give you.  Your husband said to tell you he went to give your son back to his mother.  He'll be back in a few minutes.  Your father should be here soon."  Xander gave her a look. "Let me get the pain killer.  It might make you more reasonable."  Xander shook his head. "We'll see," she said happily, going to get his allowed dosage and inject it into his IV.  He sighed a bit but that was all.  The glare didn't lessen any.  "I'm sorry he had to leave for an hour, sir."

"Don't sir me, this isn't the military."  He stared at her. "What day is it?"

"The same day you got here, Xander."  He nodded once at that.  "Any other questions?"

"Why am I in casts?"

"You have a few broken bones and a lot of bruises."  She tried to push him back down but he removed her hand. "You could cooperate."

Speed walked in.  "Be thankful he didn't knock you out and sneak out."   He held up the bag from Xander's favorite place.  "Hungry?"

"Starved and I want to sleep in my own bed without casts."

"Fat chance and fat chance.  Lay back down and we'll raise the head of your bed."  Xander glared.  "Now."  Xander did so and Speed and the nurse fluffed his pillows and put him more upright. "Thank you."  He put the food in front of him, but sat beside his thigh so he could feed him.  Xander wasn't exactly able to bend at the elbow at the moment.  "Say ah."  Xander frowned but opened his mouth.  "You're the guy who got taken hostage."

"I remember him saying I'd be prey."

"Better pray?" the nurse suggested.

"No, as in he had clients who were going to hunt me."  He ate another bite when it was shoved into his mouth.  "Meany."

"Tough.  Eat."  He shoved in another bite with a smirk.  "I'm practicing for a recalcitrant toddler."

"I'd never let Eric or my baby brother or sister turn into me, Dad," he said firmly.  "Not for real."

"Good to know.  Then again, they'll never have the same reason you did, kiddo.  Now, eat."  Xander sighed but let himself be fed and have his drink held up for him.  Speed grinned at him.  "Thank you."

"Welcome."  He relaxed again, looking at him.  "Is Eric okay?  Was he with me?"

"No, he's with Grandma.  He's been guarding Tia all day."  Xander looked confused.  "Tia, the new baby?"  Xander slowly shook his head.  "Xander, what day is it?"


"Yes, but which Thursday?" Speed prompted. Xander picked up his wrist to look at and frowned at the date on his watch.  "What day did you think it was?"

"Last week?"

"Okay, apparently you got hit in the head again.  Tia was born late Saturday."  Xander slowly shook his head. "Yes she was.  You hit the nurse who tried to stop you from seeing her."


"No buts.  My watch is right."  Horatio walked in. "He's missing a week.  Doesn't think Tia's born yet."

"She's not due for another three weeks."

"She delivered last Saturday by c-section, Xander," Horatio said, sitting on his other side.  Xander looked so confused.  He kissed him gently.  "I promise, you'll remember."


"No buts."

"He knew the guy decided he was going to be prey," Speed offered.  "Knew he said something about clients hunting him."

"Then he'll definitely get it back."  Horatio stroked over his head, getting a small wince.  "Head hurt?"

"Yeah, now that you're petting me."  Horatio smiled and stopped.  "That wasn't a hint," he said, nearly frantic to get the hand back.  Horatio moved closer and gave him a hug. "I hate this, Horatio."

"I know, and this time you can't take the casts off."  Speed snickered.  "He can't."

"I can so," Xander muttered.

"You're not allowed."  He pulled back and Xander went stiff.  "Speed, shift over."  Speed moved the tray table and himself to the end of the bed, letting Horatio sit beside him.  "There, how's that?"  Xander snuggled against his side.

"Captain, we really can't have you on the bed," the nurse said from the doorway.  Xander flipped her off. "Young man."

"He's here or I'm leaving," Xander said firmly.  "Can I have my pain killers now?"

"You just had them."  Xander frowned at her.  "You did.  I gave them to you myself."

"He's showing some mild cognitive interruption," Speed offered.  "Knew today's event but not when his daughter was born a few days ago."

"It can happen."  She came in to check him over, especially his IV tubing and monitor lines.  "At least he's not interfering with anything," she said, heading back to out to inform them of this.

Horatio let himself be cuddled, protecting his mate, and looking at the meal. "You picked him up decent food."

"Least I could do.  He is my boy."  The doctor walked in and he waved.  "Hi, doc."

"Hi, Speed.  Hi, Horatio.  Hello, Xander."  Xander flipped him off.  "Feeling antisocial?"

"He thinks he needs more painkillers."

"I'm surprised."

"He did have some damage around his spine," Horatio reminded him.

"True.  Can I look you over, Xander, or are you going to bite me like you did the nurse earlier today?"

"He was asleep," Horatio reminded him. The doctor came closer slowly and Xander growled.  Horatio stroked his neck and the boy relaxed, closing his eyes.  "Speed said he's having a few memory issues."

"It can happen."  He came over to check his monitors then what he could of the boy.  He did a small reflex test and saw the first flinch he'd ever seen out of his patient.  "Did that hurt?"  Xander nodded, putting his face in Horatio's shoulder.  "I think we may have overloaded his pain tolerance.  Now we know where his limits are. Let me see what they gave him.  Maybe we can give him a bit more."  He looked then nodded, writing out a normal person dosage.  He looked at Xander, then at Horatio. "Do I need to write a sedative?"

"No," Xander said firmly.

"Okay."  He made a note that his patient refused a sedative when offered, going to get the nurse.  "Usually he has a very high pain tolerance."

"I wondered why we were giving him pediatric strength," she admitted, getting him the rest of the dosage and handing it over.  "Was he tortured?"

The doctor nodded.  "It looks like it.  He's been that way in the past as well."  He walked into the room and injected the pain medicine, watching as the boy went limp and smiled gently against his mate's shoulder.  "Ah, that's better.  Much happier."  He checked the chart again, looking at the pictures, then at Horatio.  "Who did this and are they in custody?"  Horatio nodded. "Are they staying in custody?"

"Unless the judge is an idiot or has something against us," Horatio offered.  "They wouldn't let Ryan do it," he told Speed.

"He probably told on himself. He's honest that way.  Who?"

"The one who reminds you of Lestat."

"Hmm.  He'll get a high bond if he gets any."  He looked at Xander, then back at him.  "If he does, we can protect him, Horatio."

"We'll have to gather everyone back at the house.  Diana will be upset when the Delkos overrun her again."

"Eric will adore it," Speed said dryly.  "Bigger Eric said that he's still staring at his sister."

"He tried to kick me to get free so he could stay with her," Horatio agreed.  Xander giggled at that. "Your son is a lot like you. He's already stubborn and overprotective.  Eric's sisters and brother-in-law all thought it was cute."  He went back to stroking what he could.  "He scowled at his brother-in-law and kicked him in the shin then got free and went back to cuddling his sister."  Speed laughed at that and so did the doctor.

"Eric thinks she's a goddess for having owwies to give her to him.  Like grandma keeps telling him God does miracles," Xander said sleepily.

Horatio looked at him.  "Are you telepathic?"  Xander shrugged.  "If you are I'm whacking you in the head again, Xander."  Xander shook his head.  "Thank you."  He went back to petting him.  "How long do you think you can keep him?"

"If we're lucky he won't sign himself out before four days.  By then the pain should be easing. He'll still have three broken ribs, a broken wrist, a broken femur, and that broken hand, plus all the assorted bruises that're so bad we can't tell if there's breaks or not."

Horatio nodded at that.  "All right.  How soon before we can tell?"

"When the swelling goes down.  Unless you're willing to let us do an MRI?  Or a full-body CT?"

Horatio looked at Xander, then at him.  "Only if you sedate him," he mouthed, remembering very well Xander's last CT scan.  The doctor nodded at that.

"I heard that," Xander mumbled.  Horatio patted him on the head, then gave him one good, gentle hit.  He glared at him. "Hey!  Already sore there!"

"You're going telepathic.  I told you I'd club you in the head if you did that."

Xander snorted and put his head back down.  "Daddy, he's being mean to me and picking on me while I'm miserable."

"Son, if you go truly telepathic, I'm holding you down and clubbing you in the head myself," Speed promised.  "We couldn't put up with an all-knowing you."  He saw the doctor laugh at that.  "I can't.  That would make him scary."  Xander kicked him and he grinned.  "As long as you're not telepathic, I won't care and we'll still love you."  Xander stuck his tongue out.  "If you're going to abuse me, I'll go home and let Calleigh abuse me."

"Love you.  Pet the baby for me?"

"Of course.  You be good tonight and I'll see you tomorrow during lunch."  Xander nodded and he got a hug then left.

Horatio and the doctor talked a bit more about the aftercare Xander would need, then he was left to settle his boy into bed for the night.


Xander woke up alone, in a hospital, and confused.  He ached, a lot, but why was he here?  Hospitals were bad, evil places.  He looked at himself, he looked like was a bulky mummy.  That made him shudder and gave him more pains, but he didn't care.  He was not going to become Ampata.  He carefully reached over and turned off the alarm for his EKG, then pulled off the pads with a hiss for his poor chest hair.  The IV got shut off and yanked as well, he used part of the sheet to hold the spot down for now.  He padded to the doorway, checking the halls, then he snuck down them in the shadows.  He had to duck into a room twice, but he made it to the stairs.  There wasn't even an alarm.  This was no way to run a military hospital.  He snuck down the stairs, trying for causal and knowing he looked more like Frankenstein's monster, and out the side door to the smoking area, the place where they had taxis.  He flagged one over and the cabbie gave him a look. "Hospitals are evil. I'm going home to rest in safety and hiding.  Can you take me there?"

"You got money?"

"Inside.  In my dresser.  It's my hiding spot.  Pay you a hundred to take me home."  The cabbie considered it.  "Please?"  That got a nod and the cabbie took off.  "1238 Seacrest?"

"Sure, kid.  You some heir or something?  You look familiar."

"No.  Married to a cop."  He smiled.  "Just had a really sucky day and hospitals are evil and bad."  That got a smile and the cabbie nodded, taking him home.  When they got there, he let him park in his spot and get him into the elevator.  He walked up to the security desk, getting horrified looks.  "Yes, it's been a crappy day.  I'm going up.  Of course I don't have my keys but I've got the spare set up there.  Can you let me in?"  That got a nod and they took him and the cabbie upstairs to let him into his condo.  He paid the cabbie a hundred, as promised, and got a smile and a nod.  "You never saw me."

"You escape the psycho ward?"

"No, but my husband's a cop.  I hate being sick and I'm hiding so I don't whine him into divorcing me."

"Then I never saw you."  He smiled at the guard and left.

"Mr. Harris," the guard sighed.

"Don't even.  I've had the crappiest of crappy days.  I'm fine to be out, I'm only bruised and a bit sore.  A few broken ribs, a broken hand, a broken femur, a wrist.  The rest is bruises.  Help me get the bandage on my back?"  That got a nod and a sigh, but the tape was ripped open.  The guard hissed.  Xander looked in the nearest mirror.  "Huh.  No wonder my back hurts."  He looked at him. "I'm not here."

"Fine, you're not here and I'll expect the chinese guy again.  Go to bed, sir, you need it."  He left, going back to the desk to write in that Mr. Harris said he wasn't there, that his spouse would divorce him for whining in pain so he was hiding.  The other guards laughed at that note.  "That's what he said.  Took a cab from the hospital and you *know* his husband's going to be pissed.  He usually orders Chinese so watch out for delivery guy switches."
They all nodded, letting that information soak in.  Xander was a nice guy to have living in their building.  He really was.

Xander finished stripping off what he could of the bandages and climbed into bed, getting as comfortable as he could in the soft mattress.  Then he flipped off the lights and forced himself to go to sleep.


Horatio woke up to the phone, never a good thing, and grumbled into it.  The voice on the other end saying it was the hospital woke him fully.  "What happened to Xander?"  He listened and moaned.  "Any idea where he snuck off to?  He likes to hide.  No, if he left that way I doubt he'll be back.  First thing in the morning.  Thank you."  He hung up and mentally swore at his mate, looking at the clock.  Xander had escaped nearly an hour ago.  He got up to prowl around the house. No Xander on the couch or the porch.  He called the guard shack. "Has Xander shown up yet?  No, he snuck out of the hospital. Thank you."  He called the office.  "Sikes, are you on nights this month?"  He smiled. "That's fine.  Has Xander been reported as a runaway patient?  He is one but I thought any cabbie might turn him in."  He grimaced. "Thank you.  No, if he does, let me know immediately."  He hung up and decided to go look in the drawer.  Xander never told him anything but he put things in the drawer that he thought Horatio should or could know.

Nothing in there that hinted at other property.  He went to the other hiding spots he knew.  Nothing there either. He tried his last ditch resort in this case.  He called his nephew, sitting at his desk, putting him on speaker. "Ray," he said patiently. "Where is Xander's other house?"

"Um, you mean the one you're selling to Di?"

"No, the other other one, Raymond.  The one he's got hidden from me at the moment. Where might it be?"

"Not a clue, Uncle H.  Why the interest at ...four-twelve in the morning?"

"He's escaped from the hospital.  Already."


"It's nowhere in his drawer in the filing cabinet or any of his hiding spots."

"Okay, first, you're the one who told him you knew all your hiding spots.  Second, what makes you think I know?"  The sound of a drink. "Third, we do realize that Xander is an adult and can go hide when he's sick like everyone else can?"

"He's missing most of the last week, Raymond.  Where is it?"

"Not a clue, Uncle Horatio.  By the way, it's not a backup plan, it's an emergency plan.  That means it wouldn't be in the filing cabinet."

"Is it in the city?"

"Yup, I know that much.  Downtown was the only clue he really gave me."  Another drink.  "I do realize that you're worried but if he was well enough to sneak out of the hospital he's probably in okay enough shape to last a few more hours to a *reasonable* hour."

"What are you doing up?"

"Studying.  Mom would kill me if I flunk my history test after bragging about all my admissions and my grades this term. Did you check all the hiding spots?  The bottoms of the closets, the bottoms of the drawers, those spots?"  Horatio hung up and went to check them, coming back to call him again about fifteen minutes later. "Uncle Horatio," Ray complained mildly. "I know you're helping me stay awake while I cram, but it's four- twenty-eight.  All I know is downtown.  That's a big area."

"House, apartment, or condo?"

"Probably bought so he could renovate and not have to worry about landlords."

"So house or condo, possibly a townhouse."

"Stairs and kids, Uncle Horatio.  I know it's not that large.  I'm pretty sure Speed doesn't know where it is since I don't.  Usually I'm one of the first to know but I didn't know about the houses out there until I had to help him with the bedroom one day and that was only two weeks before you found out. He'd had them over seven months and I didn't know about the second one at all."  Another drink.  "I hate cramming."

"Then study over the longer term, nephew.  Anything else?"

"Yeah, I know little Eric knows enough to give you a clue where to find it in case of emergency. He said he showed it to him and made it their big secret.  Though, I would not call Diana at four-twenty-seven in the morning.  She's liable to be quite cranky with you.  By the way, know anything about the Civil War and the Appalachians?   I've got to write a paper on them and she wants something more than the battle everyone knows about in the panhandle of West Virginia."

"I'm sure they had multiple battles within the state. Call the local reconstructionist society to see if they would have any sources.  Did he give any other clues?"

"Nope. I know he traded Willow some of her magic books she got off Toby for the loan and computer money he gave her."  Another drink.  "I really hate coffee."

"Switch to tea, Ray.  Focus.  Please.  Anything else?"

"If I were you, I'd go back to bed for another two-and-a-half hours.  Wake up Di at seven. She'll be less cranky and there's a chance that Eric might have her up then anyway to go stare at his new sister some more.  By the way, we have realized Mrs. Delko is trying to make him Catholic as well?"

"I had.  I've pointed out both of his parents are Wiccan or otherwise pagan.  Taylor's Lutheran but not practicing.  We've decided to teach him that stuff later in life, when he can make his own decision."  He grimaced.  "Would it have security?"

"Is that rhetorical?"

"Not really."

"Think about the man who set this up, Uncle H."  The sound of a door opening. "Uncle Xander escaped from the hospital, mom, and Uncle Horatio can't find his other hidden spot. I didn't mean to wake you up."

"Go to bed, Raymond, it's late and I don't care if you flunk history as long as you don't go to Cambridge.  Tell your uncle to ask his son at a reasonable hour.  He's probably the only one who'd know where his father might be.  Unless he told Frank because he certainly didn't tell me."

"Hear that?"

"I did.  Thank you."  He hung up and called Frank, getting a complaining wife.  "It's me, Margaret.  Nudge Frank and hand him the phone.  It's only a head's up.  Xander escaped from the hospital and he's not fully lucid."  She moaned and hung up on him.  He smiled at that.  She'd complain to him in the morning and Frank would call.  He called about ten minutes later.  "Frank?"  He listened to the polite asschewing.  "Frank, he didn't remember Tia being born.  He snuck out with broken bones looking like Frankenstein's monster before they unwrapped him."  He listened to the less than polite asschewing.  "Well, he could come for you but Ray Jr. suggested you might know his other hiding spot?"  Frank gave him another two clues then hung up.  "Hmm.  Downtown.  Secure.  Residential.  Condo."  He made a list, looking up condos in the real estate guide with that search criteria.  He logged onto the PD system, startling the nightshift supervisor using his office computer. He typed in why and she sent back a snort and told him to go to bed and ask his son in the morning.  He typed in what he was looking for and she typed it into the building search engine, coming up with a list of over 140 buildings, which she gleefully sent to him.  He thanked her and signed off, researching them online until a decent hour came.


Di glared at the man daring to wake her up.  "Horatio, I will murder you and not even your lab would convict me.  It's seven-thirty."

"I heard Eric babbling and needed to talk to him."

"Why?" she asked, still defending the door.

"Xander escaped from the hospital last night without signing papers and left for a house no one knows where it is."

"Why do we think our son knows?"

"Because the three people I talked to, Ray Jr., Frank, and the night supervisor, all said to talk to him.  That Xander gave him clues to tell me so I could find it in an emergency."

"Hmm.  Fine."  She let him in and slammed the door shut, then let the dog back inside.  "Don't do that."  She went into the kitchen, stopping her son from hogging all the cheerios.  "Go talk to your other father in the living room."  She handed Horatio his bowl and spoon once she had added milk for him.

Horatio brought their son to the living room, settling his food on the coffeetable and sitting across from him while he knelt and ate.  "Eric."  Eric grinned at him.  "It's very important that I find where Daddy Xander's other house is." He pointed up the street. "Not that one, the other, special, secret house.  Do you know where it is?  Ray thinks Daddy Xander told you."  He nodded, eating another bite.  "Can you tell me where it is?"

"Downtown."  He ate another bite and tried to smile as he chewed. "It 'mergency?"

"It is.  Your daddy Xander got a booboo and he's hiding from me there.  I've got the magic medicine to make it feel better but I can't get it to him."

"Daddy 'Oro always make better."  He ate another bite and looked at him. "'Partment downtown. Pretty building.  See waves. Daddy say he can stand and watch next 'cane and big waves and not be soaked like everyone else."

"Is it glass?"

"No, glass breaks in 'canes.  It dangerous.  It have pretty blocks.  Pretty, pretty pattern and hidden windows.  He say like Batman."

"All right. Is it bricks, or blocks, like the station?  Or is maybe cement like the guard shack?"

"Yup."  He ate another bite and stared at him.  Horatio looked confused.  "All free.  Pretty pattern.  See waves come in and go out.  Daddy say he stand there and watch waves come in and people get washed out during 'canes."  He giggled. "He thinks people stand outside in them."  He ate another bite then slurped his milk.  He could do that here, even though Daddy 'Oro didn't like him to do it.  He put down his bowl and looked at him. "It very pretty.  Have nice guards too."

Di came in and flopped down on the couch.  "Did you park on the street or inside, Eric?"

"Inside.  Go down and down and down to park. Then ride elelator.  I watch waves and boats.  Very nice.  Very pretty.  Windows darker, not like doors."

"Hmm.  Do you know the address?"  Eric shook his head fiercely.  "Did he tell you anything else about it?"

"It by sea?  Something about sea.  Eric not remember that part.  He said something 'bout Popeye and Batman but Daddy Xanner not explain that part.  Daddy Xanner was having confusing day.  He confused the Eric.  Said he not have puppy for there too.  Said neighbors might not like.  Ooooh, he say one of Unclies know."

"Which one?  Speed?" Eric shook his head. "Bigger Eric, or Grandma or Grandpa Delko?"  He shook his head again, still smiling.  "Does Marisol know?"

"She girl, Daddy 'Oro.  Not an unclie."  He reach over to pat his hand.  "You not feel good?  You teach me how boys and girls not the same.  Even I know that."

"You do. You're a very smart little boy, Eric.  That's why your parents all love you so much."  Eric beamed at him then at his mother.  "Does Uncle Ryan know?"

"Maybe.  Not sure about Uncle Ry.  Uncle Danny not know.  I not think Uncle Stella know either."

"Stella's a girl, son," his mother said patiently.

"She say she not a girl.  She say she not a girl because girls wear dresses and she doesn't wear dresses to work.  She say she a woman and that's more like an unclie than an auntie."  He gave her a 'so there' look.  Then he looked at his daddy again.

"What about Uncle Don, does he know?"

"Maybe.  Not sure.  Not like Uncle Don so much.  He calls me cute.  Erics are not cute.  Bigger Eric say cute for babies and girls.  Eric a big boy so he handsome."

"You are very handsome," his mother agreed.  "You look a lot like your father."  Eric beamed and hugged her for that one.  "Know anything else about the building, squirt?"

"Daddy Xanner say that need key to get in.  He said key hiding in ...pony?  I think pony.  Yeah, pony, like polo pony."  He nodded at that.  "Key in pony."

"Where is the pony?"

"Eric not sure."

"Thank you, Eric.  You've been very helpful," Horatio said, giving him a kiss on the head and Diana one on the cheek.  Then he left, calling Ryan as he drove off.  "Do you know where Xander's new emergency place is? I know what time it is, Ryan.  He escaped from the hospital last night.  Where is it?"  He listened, then put that with Eric's clues.  "Thank you."  He hung up and went back to work.  He could search much easier from in there.  He walked in and found Speed in his office.  "He escaped at three, they called me at four. By any chance you don't know where the new hiding place is, do you?"

"Nope.  Let me fire up the building search program down at the lab."  He led the way down there, logging into it.  "Okay, what do we know?"

"It's not a highly glassed building.  It's downtown. It has underground parking.  It has security and needs a key to get into.  By the way, do you know where the pony that holds the key is?"  Speed gave him an odd look. "Eric said it had the key, a pony like a polo pony."

"Does Xander own a polo pony?"

"No, we agreed, no horses.  They weren't cuddleable pets."

"Okay."  Speed got to work typing that in.  "Anything else?"

"Eric said you could watch the waves and the hurricanes come in.  He said he saw boats.  He said Xander said something about being able to watch the waves come in and the people stuck out in the hurricanes be sent out to sea."  Speed typed in 'view of water'.  "Also he said it's got a pattern on the building.  That the windows were darker, not like the sliding doors.  He said doors, but I'm assuming he meant the porch doors."

Speed typed in 'patterned blocks' and hit enter.  Sixty buildings.  "Well, it's smaller than it could be."  He sat down to search them out.  He went back to the search and put in 'must haves' to prioritize and cut down the list.  That cut it down to twenty-eight.  He printed it and handed it over.  "Better."

Horatio looked.  "Residential, not commercial."  Speed fixed that and it brought it down to sixteen.  "Thank you."

"Oh, no, I get to help," Speed reminded him, taking the list back.  "Which end do you want?"

"Xander's rear end in a sling," he muttered.

Bigger Eric leaned in.  "The GPS chip?"

"The hospital removed it," Speed complained.  "Said it was interfering with the machines."

"I'm implanting a permanent one in the back of his neck," Horatio vowed.  "I don't care if he doesn't like it."

"Find one that'll attach to the ring, Horatio," Frank called from the hallway.  "Delko, did you get the four-thirty call?"

"No.  Why?  I heard the gossip that Xander escaped from the hospital last night."

"Yup, and Horatio called *me* at four-thirty."

"Frank, he didn't remember Tia being born.  He knew yesterday and then a week ago. He could have went to you.  You guarded him a great many times."

"He doesn't know where I live, Horatio."  Horatio stared at him.  "Never mind, I have had him end a chase in my driveway once or twice.  Well, he didn't."  He came in to look at the building search.  "Xander has more class than any of those."

"A few of these belong to the same company and this is last year's database," Speed admitted. He tried them first, talking quietly on the desk phone. Then he hung up and crossed all them off the list.  "They've never heard of Xander or anyone like him."

Horatio checked it off the physical list, then started his own calling.  Starting with Mac.  "Do you know where Xander's emergency plan is?"  He blinked.  "Why?"  He sighed.  "Where might he be?  And of course he doesn't bring his phone?  Escaped, Mac.  Escaped.  Walked out at three this morning.  Casts and all."  He smiled. "I know, but it's still not polite."  That got a laugh and Mac hung up.  Horatio groaned.  "Don may know but he's out on his morning run and won't be due near a phone until nearly nine since this is his late morning and he's not due in until ten."

"Sure," Speed agreed.  "Start on the Kerris Agency one.  I'm doing the one above it.  Eric, he said the key's in a pony?"

"Huh?" Eric asked.

"Have we thought about the riding club?" Frank asked, heading out to go back to his desk and be cranky there.  It was clear that Horatio was worried sick but he should have expected the boy to slink off and sulk since he hated to be sick.  He looked in the property database but didn't find anything.  He checked Patrick's name too, just in case it was part of that.  Nothing.  He frowned and looked up Don's name.  Then he smirked and called Horatio.  "Don owns a condo down here?"  He laughed at the shocked silence then hung up.

Horatio shook his head.  "Don owns a condo?"  Speed looked it up and compared the address to the ones in their search.  Not the same.  He looked up the building and frowned.  "Not in the database?"

"No, which means it's new."

"Or it's really old," Eric offered.  "Some of the older buildings aren't in there either.  We noticed that last year."  That got a moan.  He came in to look.  "I think that's residential."

Speed pulled up a map, looking at it.  "Depending on where he was in the building, he might be able to see the water."  He looked up the building's security office's number.  "Hmm, office handles a few buildings."  He dialed it.  "This is Detective Speedle and I was asked to check and see if a resident was in their apartment down here for a wellness check.  Harris.  Xander Harris?  We're moderately sure he's on Seacrest.  6443.  Thank you."  He took down that information.  "I'll let his family know."  He paused and looked at Horatio.  "I know his husband relatively well.  That's not true.  No, they're worried because he checked himself out.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Xander's orders say he's not there because you'd divorce him for the whining."  He handed over the address.  "They said you have to have the key to get in.  They cannot let anyone in, not even a spouse, without having a key.  That's due to some prior domestic issues when a kicked-out spouse came back.  There are no exceptions except for emergency calls and they have buttons they're supposed to push first."

"So I need to find the key."  He called his nephew, who hung up on him.  "Must be in the middle of his test.  Have you seen anything of Xander's with a pony?"

"No.  Hey, Eric?"  He came back.  "We found the building.  H still needs the key.  Have you seen anything pony related?"

"We don't have lockers or anything at the place we're taking riding lessons."

"No... well, yes.  Actually I have.  His gym has one hanging up and he had a small stuffed pony in the back of his locker. I thought it was something your son gave him."

Horatio nodded.  "The gym opens when?"


"I'll go then.  Let me try to get in first."

"Horatio, they were insistent it was no exceptions," Speed warned.  "They've even said they don't let officers in to do a wellness check without a reason.  Like decomp smells.  Then they check and call us."

Horatio looked at him.   "I appreciate that but with how injured he was and him missing memories?"  He walked out, going to try to get in.   They were very polite about it but insistent.  He ended up calling Don, getting a panting, muttering man.


Don rushed out of his shower to grab the phone.  "Flack."  He listened to the quiet voice.  "Mac said he had been roughed up.  You need me?"  He caught the towel around his hips from falling.  "That sounds really bad, Horatio.  I can be down there by tonight."  His 'I want your keys' made him pause.  "To your place?"  The answer of 'to the condo on Seacrest' made him moan.  "My keys are with Xander's keys, which are inside some little stuffed pony."  He sat down and listened to the complaining.  "Xander didn't set this up.  Patrick did.  He knew that we were both in major danger.  We've got a set of condos down there and one up here.  The ones up here are nice enough that I might think about giving it over to the Mac/Danny/Stella trio if I didn't need them. Xander's said the same.  We didn't find out about them until six months after the wills were read."  He heard the comment.  "We were to keep them absolutely secret, Horatio.  They were in case of true emergency. You know how bad things can get for cops on some cases and Xander's fanclub.  Why did they beat him that way anyway?"  Someone pounded on his door.  "What?  I'm naked and on the phone."

"It's me," his father called.  Don got up to let him in then came back.  "Son."

"Hold on, dad, I'm with Horatio."  He listened to him.  "Find the keys.  They're serious, Horatio. A few years ago they had a domestic that ended up with a dead person due to the key issue.  I'm surprised that they let Xander in without his last night.  Unless he stole his effects back?"  He smiled.  "I thought you had them as evidence still.  Okay.  Oh, one more thing.  There is a chain.  If you can't get into his place, I have the place next door and he had the guy who did the bunker put in a doorway between my den and his closet.  It's hidden.  Like Willow hidden."  He smirked.  "That's fine.  One key in the pony is the front door key, then there's one for his apartment and one for mine, and tell the others to ignore they ever heard of this place.  Period."

His 'only Eric and Speed know' was good enough.  "That's fine.  Tell them to ignore it too.  Good luck.  Yeah, and what was it that Xander said when he wanted to hide while he had chicken pox?"  He smirked.  "Like I said, good luck."  He hung up and looked at his dad.  "I was kinda in the shower. Can I do that and come back out?"  His father nodded.  "Cool."  He went to do that and think.  Xander was really badly hurt. He finished up and came out, calling Mac.  "Send me those pictures?  No, Xander escaped from the hospital and Horatio said he wasn't thinking right due to the trauma.  I'm trying to decide if they need me down there too."  The pictures got sent to his phone and he winced.  "Ow.  Thanks, Mac."  He hung up and showed his father.  "Some sicko wanted to hunt Xander down like a deer."

"The boy all right?"

"He left the hospital last night."

"No wonder his husband can't find him."

"Oh, he found 'im, but he's gotta have a key to get in."

"Can't he kick the door in?"

"There's an alarm and he will be arrested, Captain or not.  Owner or not.  Those are the building's rules and they're for security reasons, dad.  Like I told him, due to some really bad domestics, they can't even let spouses in.   If it was an emergency they'd have expected Xander to use the emergency button that's in all the places."

"How would he reach the alarm box?"

"Xander said it's wireless and it's probably beside him on the bed."

"You can do that?"

"Yeah, it's just like a remote control with only one button or those necklaces in the 'I've fallen and can't get up' ads."  He shrugged and went back to his bedroom to get dressed.  "So, what's up?"

"Son, your mother's ill."  He came out of the bedroom in his boxers, staring him down.  "Not terribly ill but they're taking her in for tests today."


"She thinks she found a lump in her breast."

Don nodded once and called his boss.  "Hey, it's Flack."  He smirked.  "Yeah, it was a great run, then I came home to Xander being beaten yesterday and escaping the hospital and my mom going in to see about a lump."  He listened.  "Yeah, that's fine."  He hung up and looked at his dad.  "Okay.  Let me get dressed and we'll go."  That got a nod and he went to change out of his suitpants, coming out in jeans and a button up shirt, then he grabbed his badge, his gun, and his jacket, following him out the door once he had his sneakers back on.


Don's boss stormed into Mac's office.  "What did that Xander brat do this time?"  He held up his phone with one of the pictures, making her turn green.  "Is he alive?"

"Yeah, he escaped the hospital last night somehow.  Casts and all. Did Don head down?"

"No, not yet.  He said something about his mom seeing about a lump.  I told him he's still on call, he said that was fine."

"Okay.  I'll check on him soon.  Thank you for telling us."

"Will the brat be all right?"

"Xander's not really a brat.   He's as tough as I am.  With someone deciding he was excellent prey to be hunted by some clients, they apparently decided he needed softening up."  She shuddered. "The bad thing was the DA moved on only the assault charges and without using any of the evidence from his home of other humans that had been hunted, so he's out on bail."  She gave him a furious look.  "Xander's in a secure building but he's still ill, his husband thinks he's got some mild memory loss, and he's injured.  He doesn't have a key to get into the building he's in.  Since his husband is Horatio Caine...."

"Oh, dirt, that brat."  Mac nodded once.  "Hell.  His husband seemed decent when he was up here.  A bit tough when someone attacked him if I remember right.  Didn't he have a thing with people giving him stuff?"  Mac nodded at that.  "Okay.  Let me know if you hear from Flack by the end of the day.  I'm going back to my office."  She went that way, thinking about it.  Anything that could take a guy who beat up two Mala Noches in her parks and make him look like that, that was a dangerous person.  Then again, so was Caine.  She'd hate to be that DA.  They had the life expectancy of a chocolate crueller with sprinkles at a Weight Watchers meeting.


Horatio walked into the DA's office and back to the senior ADA's office.  He knew exactly who had let the person out.  He walked in and placed ten very graphic crime scene photos of this hunter's trophies in front of her.  "You let him out on bail.  Should he come for my husband again, I will have you in the cell next to him as an accessory."  He turned and walked out, heading to the higher office to make a formal complaint.

She pushed them out of her way with a grimace.  "Not like they could have held him."  Her boss called twenty minutes later and she got that sinking feeling.  Caine was vindictive.  Everyone knew that.  "West," she answered.  She tense and even her face scrunched up in distaste.  "Of course I will, sir."  She stood up, listening to his instructions.  "Of course, sir.  Be right there."  She hung up and took the case file with her.  She left those photos but that's okay, she found he had the full set in front of him, along with all the other evidence.  "I moved very quickly on the assault of an officer's husband."

"This makes three times this year you've moved well before the evidence spoke," he said grimly.  "One turned one boy into a murderer to protect himself.  This one is now endangering the victim's life even further."  He tossed over photos from the hospital.  She pushed them back without doing more than glancing at them.  "I'm reassigning this case.  I've already ordered patrol officers to find him and pick him up on the other homicide charges.  You let a serial, murder one, death penalty case go as a bad assault.  That is discrediting this office!"


"I don't want to hear it.  I've heard about your problems with the lab.  No more.  You're on suspension pending case review.  Leave.  Now."  She huffed off.  "I hope like hell Caine knows what can of worms he just opened."  He called in his toughest DA, the woman that they called the Icy Death Queen.  She walked in and nearly saluted him.  "This case was West's.  She had this and went with simple assault, didn't even protest him getting bail. She moved before the lab did and ignored the other evidence they handed her."  He handed over the file Horatio had given him, including the pictures on his desk.  "The man is out on bail.  I've ordered him picked up."

She looked through them then at him.  "West let this go as simple assault?"  He nodded.  "Is she being hunted?"


She nodded at that.  "Pity.  Death Penalty?"

"If you can swing it.  He's apparently helping human game hunters."

"Even better.  Murder one and for a profit.  I'm your girl, sir."

"It's going to get messy."

"Do I care?  So what if they have money to throw away."  She shrugged.  "I brought down two senators in NCIS.  I can do this now."  She saluted him.  "Thank you, sir.  I needed some fun."  She walked out, taking them back to her office.  Someone was in some deep shit when she found them.  She called Dispatch.  "This is ADA Hammra.  I want that perp my boss ordered caught brought to me here in the office please.  Do be warned he is probably armed and dangerous.  He's the same one who tried to take out Captain Caine's husband and use him as the prey in some big game hunt.  Acceptable.  I'll be here all day."  She hung up and sat down to get to work on the case.  By the time the gossip chain had started in the station and almost every officer was out for blood, she had it mapped out, she had the papers filed to move this from assault to assault and ten counts of murder in the first and counting, and all she had to do was wait.  He was drug in a few hours later, looking much worse for the wear.  "Thank you, boys.  You've been very helpful."  She smiled and shook their hands.  "Tell Horatio I hope his boy is all right."

"Yes, ma'am, but we heard he managed to escape from the hospital."

"Hmm, I knew Xander was a strong young man, very stubborn.   It shows promise.  Maybe he'll become an ADA."  They smiled at that and left her there.  She looked at the man in her chair.  "I am ADA Hammra.  I am the one who will be putting the cap on your head and I will be begging to flip the switch on you.  You have one chance to not die this week by giving me a list of your clients.  If I have to find out from the crime lab, I'll make sure you go to Old Sparky."  He burbled.  "Pity."  She summoned their guards.  "We're going directly down to the courthouse to have him rearrested."  They nodded, following her with him.  She called Horatio's office.  "Caine, this is Hammra.  I've got your boy's case.  It's going death penalty.  Get me his clients ASAP.  I want someone to roast over a pit this week.  I've already got my pitchfork ready.  We're rearresting him right now on the capital charges.  Let me know when you have it."  She hung up and held open the door of the cruiser for them.  She got into the front and let one of them sit back there with him while the other drove.  This was going to be a fun day.


Horatio hung up and looked at Speed.  "They gave it to Hammra."

"They gave it to Satan's Dominatrix Teacher?"  Horatio smiled at that nickname.  Plenty of people who went against her said she was worse than Satan, she had taught him all his tricks and she was clearly a domme of the old 'I'm going to flay you alive' school.  "Well, he'll be sorry.  What did she want?"

"His client list."

"Computers is working on it and so is Eric.   She'll get it as soon as they do."  He called Eric.  "They gave his case to Hammra."  Eric let out a few swears.  "She wants a client list.  She's going death penalty.  That's just how she is."  He smirked at Horatio.  "He said he might've found his ledger entries.  He's going to bank to trace back the accounts."

"Keep me in the loop, even if I can't officially help."  He checked his watch.  It was eleven.  Someone should be at the gym.  "I'm going to the gym to see if I can get the keys."

"Have fun with that."  Horatio nodded, leaving.  "Yeah, he went to the gym, Eric.  Yeah, tell us."  He hung up and finished his coffee, nodding as Danny came in with a suspect. "Sure you won't transfer down here full time?"

"I'd miss New York.  If I ever get ta go back.  Any word on Xander?  I heard the guys on patrol were out for the idiot's blood."

"They gave it to Hammra."

"Satan's eviler mistress?"   Speed smirked and nodded.  "Good for them."  He went back to dragging his guy inside.

Sikes coughed.  "We've found him, Speed, and he's back in custody.  Unfortunately he tried to run," he said quietly.  "It was a hard arrest."  He smiled and walked inside.  "Give him my love," he called as he walked off.

"I will.  When we finally get in to where he is," he finished in a mutter.  He still wanted to spank his son for running that way.


Horatio walked into the gym, nodding at the guard.  "I need into my husband's locker."


"Because the keys to the apartment he's hiding himself in are in there.  He's injured and trying to hide so he doesn't get babied."

"Knew Darkness was a bit odd.  Otherwise he wouldn't draw those sort."  He nodded, letting him follow him to the locker room.  "You know his combination?"

"No, but I'm sure I can buy him a new lock."  That got a smirk.  "Besides, this way I can do his laundry as well."  He pulled out the bolt cutters and cut his lock off, then stuffed it into his pocket.  He found everything neatly arranged, tucking it into the bag they were laying on top of.  He found the stuffed pony and smiled, digging inside the zipped part on the back.  He came out with three keys, smiling at them.  That too went into the bag and he bundled the rest up.  "Thank you.  Don't expect him in the next week.  He got a bit injured in the last one.  I'll buy him a new lock."

"That's fine, Captain.  We knew something like this would happen some day."

"No, not his usual sort of problem," he admitted quietly.  "Someone decided he'd be the prey in a hunt."   The guard's eyes went wide.  "You know something?"

"I do, but I can't tell you.  I've signed a confidentiality agreement for anything illegal I might overhear."  Horatio looked at him.  "They can sue me."

"It won't hold up in a court of law.  I would check on that and then call Delko.  I believe he's a member here as well?"

"He is.  If I can't, maybe I can hint."  Horatio nodded at that.  "Thank you, Captain. Tell him I hope he gets better."

"Thank you.  I will once I get in to see him."  That got a smile and Horatio left.

The guard went to talk to his boss.  "Boss, Darkness' husband Caine just popped his lock to get into the stuffed pony.  He said Darkness is badly injured and hiding from him to whine in private."  That got a moan.  "He's doing his laundry too.  The problem is that I think I overheard one of the people who might've hurt him."

"You signed...."

"He said it might not hold in court," he said calmly.  The boss looked at him.  "They wanted to hunt him down like poachers hunt gators, boss."

"Delko's a member here.  You can hint all you want to him.  Just don't outright say it, Mibbs.  Am I understood?  We can be sued."

"If it won't hold up in court...."

"It sets a bad precedent for the club. He's still alive?"  That got a nod from the guard.  "Call Delko down here and hint very strongly.  Just stay south of telling him."  That got a nod and he went to make the call from the security office.  The boss prayed for Darkness but he had to maintain the club's integrity as a safe, secure haven no matter who you were or what you did.


Eric walked back into the building an hour later, all smiles.  "He had a helper.  The helper goes to our gym," he noted to Speed.  Who put down his cup of coffee to look at him.  "They signed a confidentiality agreement so I can't get more than hints."

"They know how badly Xander got hurt?"

"Yeah, but it's part of the club's integrity and he can get fired.  Besides, he gave me more than enough to get him this afternoon when he comes in.  Want to help?"

"I'd better since I'm the only other CSI on today."

"Point."  He smiled sweetly.  "He usually comes in around three."

"That's fine.  Let me know when we're going with some patrol guys."

"I'm only bringing the guys we routinely work with.  I want them at my back."

"Sikes is back on days."

"Even better.  Think Yelina would want to go?"

"I don't see why not.  Ray Jr. goes."  He shrugged.

"Point."  He went to talk to her, tell her what he knew.  She smirked and nodded she'd be there.

"Oooh, can I see the inside of this place?" Frank asked happily.

"It's a gym, Frank. It's like most of them.  Equipment, weights, a room with mats.  A pool.  There is one room with safety equipment and a pole to practice stuff on, but otherwise it's a gym."

"Shoot.  I heard it was somewhere special."

"It's anonymous.  The guards signed confidentiality agreements, like priests do.  Nothing they hear is ever spoken about.  They broke it enough to hint for our benefit this time."  Frank shuddered.  "I'm fully expecting to run into the bodyguard posse today."   That got some nods.  "See you guys at two-thirty."  He headed back to work.

One of the patrol officers casually walked over, smiling at Yelina.  "Ma'am, we'd love to escort you," she offered quietly.  "When and where are we going?"

"Two-thirty.  Make sure it's four patrols at most.  It'll be two CSI and myself, possibly Detective Tripp as well."  She nodded, going to tell her supervisor that.  She looked at Frank.  "I think it got spread around why Xander got captured this time."

"Probably.  I heard the guy came in after a very hard arrest.  Apparently he ran," he noted dryly.  She shuddered.  That meant he was barely walking or talking.  "Oh, other gossip.  They gave the case to Hammra."

"That is one woman even I'm scared of," she said happily.  "I'll cheer her on even if I needed pompoms."

Frank shook his head quickly.  "I didn't need that mental image, Yelina.  That's almost scary."  She cackled and he went to find something to take it out of his head.  He ran into Speed.  "Yelina just said she'd cheer Hammra on like she needed pompoms."

Speed held his head.  "I didn't want to see her in cheerleader gear, Frank, but thank you anyway."  He walked off shaking his head quickly to avoid that thought.  Before it stuck.


Horatio walked into the building, holding up the keys.  "Which is to my husband's apartment?"

The guard looked and tapped one.  "That's the front door.  He's got 156, Captain.  He says he's not here however."

"Bet me."  He headed for the elevator, one of them following.  "I know he escaped last night."

"Yes, sir, he came right here.  The cabbie escorted him up and got paid."  He got them off at the right floor and went to tap on the door. "Mr. Harris?  I'm doing a wellness check, sir."

"Mr. Harris is not accepting visitors.  He's sleeping it off," Xander said in Spanish.

Horatio smirked.  "I know that voice, Xander.  Much too well."  He tried the key but the chain was on.  He growled.  "He said there's a connecting passage through Don's.  Which way?"  It was pointed at.  "Thank you.  Xander, are you sure you won't let me in?"

"Senor Harris said you went over this when he had chicken pox. This time he's not contagious, just cranky.  He does wish his husband would respect this about him."

"Fat chance, Xander.  Don't make me kick this door in."  The body behind the door moved away.  Horatio headed for the other apartment, letting himself in and shutting the door.  He had to admit, it was a nice two bedroom condo.  One was toward Xander's apartment off the living room. The other was past the kitchen toward the other side of the building.  He paused to look out a window.  Don had a beautiful view of some of the prettier parts of the city.  He headed into the den, finding the blank wall.  He called Don.  "Where's the switch?" he asked quietly.  He looked. "I can't... ah.  No wonder.  Thank you."  He hung up and pulled out his flashlight and the pink screen.  The diffuser often showed him magical markings for some reason. He found the doorway.  Then he looked around for the switch under one of the shelves and the desk.

He found it there by sight but not by touch.  He tried feeling for it.  Nothing.  He exposed it and looked, touching it.  Still nothing.  He growled and concentrated.  He knew magic was concentration, he had done a bit of it in his youth.  Pulling that up now was harder, but it did unhide the button for him.  He pushed it and walked through the doorway, coming out in Xander's closet.  He found the switch over there and closed it, then walked through the clothes and out, finding Xander collapsed on his back on the bed.  It was almost cute if he wasn't in a few casts.   He laid down beside him, stroking his forehead.  No fever at least.  "Xander, you know those days when I really want to spank you for doing stupid things?  This is one," he said grimly.

"I hate being fussed over."

"Tough, Xander.  Suck it up the same way I do.  I'm not used to someone fussing either."  He checked him over.  "How much pain are you in?"

"Tolerable."  Horatio smacked him on the head.  "Ow!  Hey, I remember hitting the nurse.  Do that again."  Horatio smiled and patted him on the head.  "Nope, didn't help."  He hit himself in the head a few times and shook it really hard, then he nodded. "That's better.  Sorry, must've had a loose connection."

"I think you have one most of the time," he said dryly.  He stroked down his face.  "You are still getting fussed over, my mate.  That is the job of a protective spouse."


"Shut up, Xander.  It's my right and my responsibility to fuss over you. It's my pleasure to make it go on as long as I can."  Xander pouted at him.  "I don't care, Xander.  You're getting fussed over."  He went back to checking him over, ghosting touches over the bruises.  "Where does it hurt the most?"

"Everywhere," he said petulantly.  "I want to heal by myself. All I want to do is hide and lick my sore paw, Horatio.  I'm sorry but I hate being sick with others around."

"It's not like I'm going to pick on you about it."  He went back to stroking his head, getting a sigh of pleasure when his fingers moved to comb through his hair.  "You'll need a bed bath."

"They're coming off in a few days. I don't care."

"No they're not.  You're keeping the casts on until you don't need them anymore."

"Which would be...."  His hair was gently yanked, making him hiss.  "Fine.  I still want to hide."

"No hiding."  The phone rang and he got it.  "Caine."  He listened, then smiled.  "Have him bring it up to the door.  Thank you.  That is his father."  He hung up. "Your father made you something to eat."

"Not hungry," he pouted.

Horatio smirked.  "I'm sure."  He got up to get the food from Speed, getting a nod.  "The sweet and sour sauce tipped?"

"Of course.  The soup's going to leak soon too.  All I had were the thinner plastic bowls."  He shrugged.  "We'll get the accomplice this afternoon.  Where is my son?"

"Trying to escape."  He nodded up the hall and let Speed put the food in the kitchen for them while he went to pick up his mate and carry him back inside.  "No, Xander."

"But Don needs me."

"No, Xander."  He carried him in to the couch, putting him down on it.  Then he let Speed out with a quiet 'thank you' and a smile.  He locked them in and looked at him.  "That was stupid."

"Horatio, no matter how much I love you, I hate being sick around others.  It's not you, it's the guy I am.  I hate being sick, period, and having someone hovering over me makes me feel worse."

"That's because you feel guilty that you're keeping us from working."

"No, it's because I feel the pity.  Can't you please leave me alone?  I'll be home in a few days when I feel better."

"No. Because I don't pity you.  I wince when I see the injuries, that's not the same," he said at the opening mouth.  "It's really not.  Now, get over it."  Xander sulked.  He came over to kiss him.  "I can smell the soup.  It's the one with the pasta.  You want some?"  Xander shook his head.  "Please?"

"My stomach's upset."

"That's the pain you're in," he said wisely, going into the bathroom to see what he could find for medicine.  He found his prescription already filled and came out with it.  "How did you sign yourself out and get this?"

"I faxed it to them earlier today."

"They let you?"

"I called as well, explained that hospitals were for sick people and I was injured, not sick. Therefore they could use the bed for someone who could use it.  They decided I was rational enough even if they thought it was stupid."

"It is.  Injured and sick are synonyms, Xander."

"No, sick requires medicines.  Injuries require pain killers and ice or heat packs."  His mate gave him a look.  "This is one of the reasons why I wanted to be alone while I'm injured or sick."

"Tough.  You're never being left alone again.  Even if I have to retire or work from home."

"You do that and I'm leaving."

Horatio stared at him.  "Really?"

"Really.  You'd be miserable."

"I'm not particularly happy that you escaped from the hospital at three this morning either."

"Which is another good reason I'm hiding."

"You're not hiding, Xander."  Xander started to move and he came over to stop him, kissing him silent.  "It is a husband's honor and privilege to take care of an injured or sick spouse," he said quietly, staring into his eyes.  Xander went limp.  "Thank you.  Hopefully we don't have to have a repeat of this discussion."  He looked him over again, noticing he was slightly hard.  "Feeling better?"

"Biological response."  He grimaced. "Can't help that one.  It happens even when I'm sore."  Horatio gently stroked it, making him wince and hiss. "Horatio!"

"If you're not that injured, you should be trying to get some," he reasoned.

"I'm not that injured but still!  I feel naughty!"

"We've done it on the couch before," he reminded him, shifting Xander so he could sit under his back and hold him.  He could still stroke him while he played with his neck.  "You scared me, Xander," he said quietly.  "Please quit scaring me?"

"I didn't mean to but you know I hate being fussed over."

"Get used to it.  When we get home, I'm telling all the grandmothers, including Alexx."  Xander whimpered, trying to shift his hips up.  "You'll learn to like fussing when I do it."  Xander came with a small moan.  "Good boy.  Very good boy, Xander."  He kissed his neck again, then went to stroking his stomach.  "Want some food now?  You need food to heal.  Speed made your favorite."

"Fine."  Horatio smiled as he let him sit on his own and went to get him some lunch.  Xander looked down at his body.  "Traitor," he muttered.  Horatio came back with a bowl, a spoon, and his medicine.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  It's doing what I trained it to do, Xander - to react for me when I play with it.  It's not traitorous.  I should bring you pleasure."  He knelt beside him, using the warm washcloth he had retrieved to clean him off.  "If you weren't in a cast, I'd have taken you already to make sure you're all right."  Xander tensed at that and swallowed another bite of soup.  "Seriously.  I would have bent you over some pillows on the bed to cushion your ribs and hips, then I would have taken you as hard as I dared until you came and begged."  He felt him get hard again.  "Unfortunately there's no position that won't hurt you with those casts and your broken ribs."  He moved the washcloth, getting a quiet whimper.  "Finish your lunch then I'll finish you off again so you can nap."  Xander drank it, earning a smile.  "Good boy."  He took the bowl, handed him some juice. "That as well."  Xander gulped the juice, then put it aside.  Horatio kissed him slowly moving his way back down to suck on his cock for him.  Xander tried to move to give him better access. "No, Xander.  Let me.  Don't strain or hurt yourself more."  He made it back down to the cock, pulling off the sweat pants to get better access.  He sucked gently, one finger going down to tease his earring.  He looked at it, then at him.  "He took it out?"

"Nurses did."

"I'll go there to get it.  You're not wearing my mark.  I might have to get upset."  Xander shivered.  "Not at you, love."  He went back to his soothing blowjob, making Xander sigh and come.  Then he suddenly tensed.  "Bathroom?"  Xander nodded quickly.  "Let me help."  He picked him up and carried him in there.  Then he went to untuck the bed and give him a nice nest to sleep in.  He knew Xander would want to prop the casts up some.  He had with his hand while he had it on.  Otherwise it thumped against his back in the middle of the night and woke him up.  Xander flushed and he went to help him, getting swatted at.  "Don't, Xander."

"You should be catching bad guys."

"I am.  You're a very dangerous man and you did flee custody."  Xander groaned at that.  "You did."

"Sorry."  He cleaned himself up and let Horatio help him back into a new pair of sweats, then back into bed. "Can't I sleep on my side?"

"I don't see how, Xander.  Not with your injuries being on both sides."  He got him settled and let him try it but even Xander had to whimper in pain at that.  He got him settled back onto his back.  "Feel lucky you're not in traction."


"Tough."  He kissed him and got a smile.  "Sleep.  I'll play some more later."  Xander nodded and let himself drift off.  He waited until he heard a snore then got into the closet to shut that connecting door again.  Then he locked the closet and headed out to check out the rest of the space.  The second bedroom was the same place as Don's den.  It had a full sized bed and a playpen in there.  Everything was done in the darker woods all over the house.  Xander definitely had an old world style in decorating.  The fridge and cabinets were nearly bare.  He looked at the menus he found in the drawer, the same place they kept them at home.  "Chinese?"  They were all chinese.  He smiled at that.  At least it was healthy.  He called in.  "Anything?  He's eaten and now he's napping, Speed. Anything?"  He smirked.  Evilly.  "Good.  I'm glad.  Anyone I know?"  He nodded.  He knew a few of those names.  "Have fun with that. Let her help."  He cackled.  "I'm sure she would.  Tell Don to call me on my cell if he calls there.  He said something about his mom.  Thanks."  He hung up and checked on Xander, finding the Xander-shaped lump under the blankets.  He walked in and laid behind him, getting a cuddly head on his stomach.  "I've got your back, Xander, even when you think you are an imposition."  His cell rang and he looked.

"Yes, boss?"  He listened.  "No, he's still badly injured.  He escaped from the hospital.  I can't tell you that, sir.  It's a hidden spot for emergencies.  I only learned of it today and he's known since six months after Patrick's funeral."  He listened to him.  "Technically, Speed and Eric have it.  I can't work it, it involves my husband.  That is protocol.  They're doing that now.  They have a client list."  He smirked.  "You'd have to ask Delko, sir.  Again, I can't be more than informed since it does relate back to my husband's case.  No, my last one was closed two days ago. All I had was paperwork and I'm still on call.  Xander won't keep me from fussing over him this time.  Yes, that's why he ran.  That and he thinks hospitals are for sick people and he's only injured. His words, sir.  Yes, well, he is from Sunnydale and I've heard Willow say much the same thing.  Send it to my office, sir, and I'll bring it over.  No, I believe Detective Messer is still in and filling in for Calleigh today.  She's still on medical leave for another two weeks.  She nearly died in the miscarriage. She's coming back to paperwork and fingerprints."  He smirked.  "Her doctor said so.  Because she's another who can't not work.  That's fine.  We've already worked that out and the other labs that meet with my qualifications know to send anyone they want out of their city for a few days."

"You can go," Xander muttered.

"No I can't.  You'll head up to hide at Don's."

"Not a bad idea," Xander muttered.  "Go to work if they need you."

"The only case right now is yours.  I can't work that anyway."

"If you don't, Dad's going to kill them."

"It got handed to Hammra, Xander.  She'll kill him."  He smiled at that.  He liked her.  "I would go but you might leave again."

Xander looked up at him.  "I'd still rather be injured in peace so I can lick my paw.  Then I'll come home."

"Your son has got to be worried sick."

"No he's not.  Why would he be?"

"Because he's your son."

Xander kissed him gently. "Go to work, Horatio.  Please?"  He got a snort and a head shake.  "Pretty please?  I'd rather be miserable alone."

"No, Xander.  You'd try to run again and who knows where you'd end up this time.  I might have to track down Angel to find you."  Xander gave him an evil glare.  He smiled.  "Even if I did, you'd be staying here.  Or I'd bring you to nap on the couch again."   He listened to his boss.  "That would be most acceptable."  He hung up.  "You can come rest on my couch."

"No."   He shook his head, then held it. "No way in hell.  Then others could fuss."

"Your choices are to nap with Calleigh, come to the office, or going back to the hospital, Xander."  Xander gave him a glare.  "Tough.  I'm not letting you alone. You'd take off again."

"I'm about to prove you right.  I won't be fussed over."

"Bet me."  He got up and hauled him up, helping him into some sneakers.  Then he grabbed the keys and Xander's wallet, taking them with him so Xander couldn't.  He got him out and relocked the door.  "We can come back here tonight so you can hide again, but you're not getting out of the city, Xander."  He walked him down to the elevator, looking around.  "Is there another apartment on this floor?"

"The other side of Don's bedroom. It's tiny and behind the elevator."

"That's fine."  He got him into the elevator and down to the garage, taking him to the hummer.  He nodded at the guard down there.  "He'll be back later."

"That's fine, sir.  Remember there's a mandatory meeting in a few nights for all residents."  He smiled and put up the gate for the hummer, then called upstairs to let them know.  At least someone was babying the boy.

Horatio paused at the place he would normally turn. "Calleigh or the station?"

"Station," he muttered.  "I'm locking myself in an empty room though."

"Fine.  You can see if Phil has anything new on your last stalker."  He turned that way, heading back to work.   He parked in his usual spot and walked around to get Xander out and help him inside.  A few of the officers looked at him.  "He escaped from the hospital."

"You're stronger than I am, sir, I'd whine," Sikes offered with a smile.  Xander gave him an evil look.  "He doesn't like to be fussed over?"

"He was trying to hide so I couldn't," Horatio assured him, getting a smile.  "He's going into my office.  Xander is not allowed out of the building without me."  He got him into the elevator and up there.  Eric stared.  "He's being stubborn."

"Yeah, I'd expect that.  Xander, we're going to get his accomplice.  Take a nap and we'll have it sewn up."

Speed walked over, pausing to look at him.  "You look like shit.  Did you eat?"  Xander grumbled but nodded.  "Good.  Go hide in Horatio's office. I'm sure he can find something to do in the labs while you hide in there."  That got a nod and he slowly trudged that way.  One of the DNA techs ran over to hug him.  "Don't!   He hates being fussed over.  He'll hide.  Again."

"Let me help you up there, Xander."  She helped him up the stairs and into the office, then got him a pillow from the break room.  Then she closed the door and went to call Alexx.  Anyone that injured usually saw Alexx at least once.  She did warn her about the fussing thing but she supposed she already knew.

Alexx came up an hour later when she was done, looking at the sleeping boy from the doorway.  He looked really bad.  She felt someone behind her and saw Ray Sr.  "Why are you in today?"

"Horatio called and asked me to make sure his boy stayed here instead of New York."  He handed over a bracelet.  "It stops Willow accidents?"  She nodded, moving in to put it on him.  Xander woke up and glared.  "Be more respectful, Xander."

"Go the hell away, Raymond.  I'm sore, I don't need an audience to be sore."  He looked at Alexx.  "Can't sleep."

"I know, baby, but you need some fussing."  Xander shook his head.  "Yes, you do."

"I hate fussing.  All forms of fussing.  Go make dad fuss over my baby brother or sister.  Go fuss over Calleigh too.  Please."

She smiled.  "Fat chance, sugar.  You know better than that."  She tested his forehead.  "No fever at least.  Want something to drink?"  He shook his head.  "Are you sure?"  He nodded.  "Then want helped to the bathroom? It's down the stairs and all that."

"I'm fine."

She patted him on the top of the head.  "I'll ignore the attitude this time because I know how much you want to hide right now, but try to lose it, dear."  She straightened up then tucked him back in.  "There, go back to sleep."  She left, heading back to tell Horatio she had checked on him and he wasn't looking too bad.

Ray looked at him.  "That wasn't nice."

"Feel very lucky Horatio moved all the guns away from the couch, Raymond."  That got a smirk.  "Some people don't want to be fussed over and babied.  Go find someone who does, like Calleigh."

"I can't fuss over her.  She's not family."  Xander picked up a lamp and threw it at him, pegging him too.  "OW!"

"Xander, don't hurt my brother," Horatio called, coming up the stairs.  "Ray, check on him periodically.  Thank you."  He came in to get Xander resettled and back to sleep, moving all the hard or dangerous objects away from him this time.  Even if he did have to pry a statue form his hands.  Xander tried to wiggle but casts and broken ribs cut down on that.  "Quit, Xander."  Xander gave him a pitiful look.  "I know but quit anyway."  Xander went limp and nodded, letting him tuck him back in.  He closed the door and locked it. He had the keys.  "Ray."

"Alexx woke him."  Horatio gave him a look.  "I don't remember you ever being that big of a bastard when you got sick or injured."

"I'm never sick."

"Uh-huh.  Keep up that myth, brother.  It makes you look more superhuman than your husband."  He walked off.  "I'll get him some water from the breakroom."

"Thank you."  He sighed, leaning against the door.  He looked over as Yelina came in.  "Did you get him?"

"Yes, we did, and I'm surprised Xander goes to a gym like that."

"It was one of the perks of where he used to work, Yelina."  She came up to look in the window then at him.  "He threw a lamp at your husband."

"As I have."  She shrugged. "There's a great number of dangerous people there."

"I know.  I've been with him a few times."  He took the water for Xander, sneaking in to put it beside him, then back out, locking the door again.  He looked at them.  "Covert surveillance."

"Of course," Ray agreed.  "I'll sit outside and read while waiting for her to get off shift again."  He smirked at his wife.  Who hit him on the arm.  "Ow!" he whined.

"Good."  She looked at Horatio. "Will he be okay?  I've never seen someone that injured."

"He'll be fine," Horatio promised quietly.  "Right now he needs rest and less fussing. He was trying to hide so I couldn't fuss."  They all nodded and left to find their own ways to make sure Xander didn't leave. The rest of the lab had heard how injured he was and knew from Speed that he'd try to hide and hated to be fussed over.  So they watched the door to the office and called Horatio when it opened.  He got seven calls, all but one of the techs in direct sight, when the door opened and Xander padded out slowly.  The other called from the bathroom to tell Horatio he was in there.    Only one however called ten minutes later to say the door was still open and Xander wasn't back yet.  Horatio went to find him, checking the bathroom first.  He checked the breakroom, hoping he went to get a drink.  He headed for the door guards.  "Gentlemen, has my husband snuck past?" he demanded calmly.

"Yes, sir. Said he was going for a quick walk," one said.  "Was he supposed to stay inside?"  Horatio nodded. "Sorry, sir."

"That's all right."  He called his brother, not getting an answer.  He headed out, finding Ray in the grass with Sikes kneeling beside him.  "He all right?"

"He tried to stop Xander and Xander got him in the balls and then the chin, Horatio.  I would've tried to stop him but he looked liked he wanted to be left alone."

"He probably did," he agreed.  "Get him into my office please."  That got a nod and he helped him back inside while Horatio called the transit cops at the airport from the front desk. "This is Captain Caine.  Is my husband, Xander Harris, there?  Four casts, dark hair, sweats. Grumpy and growling?"  He raised an eyebrow.  "Why did he head there?"  He nodded once.  "Thank you."  He hung up and went to find the phonebook he had gotten off Willow.  He found Xander's emergency wallet missing as well.  "Damn it," he muttered.  His brother laughed.  "He went to visit the stupid vampires."  He called LA.  "May I please speak to Angel?"  He listened to the laugh.  "This is Xander's husband, Horatio.  Yes, it's important."  Someone else came on.  "Wesley?  He's talked about you.  I'm not sure but he's injured and he bought a plane ticket to come to LA.  No, a human. He's trying to hide so we can't fuss over him."  He listened, then groaned.  "All right, if you see him, please call me.  I'll get him back here.  Thank you."  He hung up and called Mac.  "Check with your transit guys.  Xander bought a ticket to LA but I'm not putting it past him to switch it and come up there.  Four casts, Mac.  Sweats.  Thank you.  He's got his emergency wallet with him.  I have no idea which card it had in there.  I'll call my nephew to see if he'd know."

"It's his history test," Ray said from the couch, sounding like he was still in a bit of pain.

"As soon as he's done with his history test.  Thank you, Mac.  No, he's doing well filling in for Calleigh."  He paused.  "Is she all right?"  He nodded slowly.  "I'll call his cell, see if he has it too."  He did that, getting the message that he was going to hide now.  "Xander, it's Horatio.  If you're heading to New York, check in with Don.  His mother's ill.  If you're going to LA be aware I will follow you so I can have that badly overdue talk with Angel about you."  He hung up and looked at his brother.  "When does history end?"

"Three.  It's his last class."

He looked at the clock, then called the school. "This is Horatio Caine. Is my nephew still there?  That's fine.  Can you have a note put on his windshield to call me immediately?   Thank you."  He hung up and looked at his brother. "I may be heading to stake a few vampires."


"Angel wasn't exactly the best person to him.  In fact, neither he nor Willow want to talk about him."  That got a shudder.  "That was my thought as well."  Yelina came in.  "He's gone."

"I'm sorry.  Did you call New York?"

"I did.  He bought a plane ticket to LA however."

She frowned.  "He hates LA.  Especially the protector out there."

"I know.  Which means he could recuperate alone."  He looked at Ray, then back at her.  "He got him in the balls."

"Xander seemed like he was in the mood for cheap shots."  She headed back to her desk.  "He's singing, Horatio.  You should see the list."

"Coming."  He got up and followed, going to listen to the interrogation and watch the list be put together.  Eric was mostly verifying what he already knew.  They had cracked his files earlier.  There were going to be some sorry people in Xander's social circle.


Xander came off the plane and found Stella standing there.  "Go away," he growled.

"Fat chance."  She took his non-casted hand and walked him off.  "Come on, Xander."

"Let go!"

"Quit or I'm handcuffing you."

"Problems, detective?" one of the airport guards asked.

"Stubborn friend's husband.  He's trying to hide since he's sick. I'm taking him to his uncle's house."

"Want a wheelchair for him?"

"Nah.  He's too independent for that.   His uncle doesn't need this today but he's being fussy."

"What happened to Don?" Xander demanded, getting free.  "Did someone shoot at Don again?"

"No, his mother's sick."  Xander headed off.  "See?" Stella said.  She got an understanding smile.  "Xander, car?"

"Bite me, woman."  He stopped at an ATM and headed off for a cab, letting her try to catch him.  He slid into one.  "See the curly brunette?"  He got a nod.  "She's my uncle's concubine.  She's jealous that I came up to see him. Please lose her on the way to Manhattan.  I've got to call Don and see where he is."  That got a nod and he headed off, going to lose the woman.

"She a cop?" the cabbie asked.  Xander handed over two hundreds.  "Don't matter to me, kid."

"CSI.  Crime scene person."

"Ah, one of them."  He sped up and changed lanes, going normal cab speeds with normal cabbie abandon.

Xander called Don.  "Where should I meet you?"  He weathered the yelling.  "Shut up, Don. Your mom's sick.  Where should I meet you?"  He looked at the cabbie. "Cedars- Sinai?"  That got a nod.  "East entrance."  He hung up on the yelling.  "Thank you."

"What happened to you anyway?  Car accident?"

"Someone who wanted to turn me into a hunted squirrel."  That got a laugh.  "Seriously.  They wanted me to be their game and prey. He's sorry now but I fucking ache."  That got a nod.  "I'm going to hide from most of the family.  I hate fussy people.  I'd rather hide in a closet than be fussed at.  She's the worst at it though."  He glanced back, he couldn't see Stella at all.  "Huh."

"They'll figure out where you are soon enough."

"Doubt it," Xander offered.  "Not unless they get Don to crack and he's a cop too."  He smiled sweetly.  "His mom's sick."  That got a wise nod and he took the exit before he had to, going the back way to the hospital.  That way he was sure no one was following him.  Xander added another twenty on top of the two hundred and got out, heading up to the front desk.  "Hi, is there a Detective Flack pacing and muttering around here?"

"That way, sir," she said, pointing.  "Should you be walking?"

"No, probably not.  Not like I care at the moment."  He walked that way slowly, finding Don still pacing and muttering. "How's your mom?" Don paused and took a deep breath before turning to look at him.  "Well?"

"I swear to fuckin' God, Xander!  Why are you out of bed!"

"I hate fussing people.  You know that.  I'm going to hide in a few minutes.  How's your mom?" he asked again.

"Fine.  They said it's really small and it might not be cancerous.  They admitted her so she could have the biopsy tomorrow."

"Good, then let's go see her so I can go hide."

"Do you even have the keys?"

"Yeah, to both places and the other one."  Don popped him on the back of the head. "Ow!  But thank you, probably needed that.  Horatio did that earlier and I remembered Tia being born."  He followed him up to the room, weathering the horrified look. "He's in custody. He wanted me to become a safari hunt."  He kissed her on the cheek. He liked Don's mother.  "I'll be around for a few days, grandma.  You tell me if you want me to come visit.  All right?"  She nodded, patting him on the cast. "I'm a stubborn bastard.  Just ask Don."  He grinned at her.  "Are you all right?"

"We'll know tomorrow, Xander.  Are you all right?"

"I ache," he admitted, "but I'm going to bed as soon as I leave here.  I had to come see you first."  She smiled at that.  "You get better and if Horatio comes up I'll let him fuss over you instead."

"Only I and the kids get to fuss over her," Don Sr. noted dryly.  "Back off, kid."  Xander gave him a dirty look and he smirked.  "Your husband said to keep you here."

"And I kicked the ass of the last person who tried."  He kissed her on the cheek again.  "I'd better go before your husband realizes how old he is and your son remembers he's got testosterone poisoning sometimes."  She laughed at that and he headed out.

"Get back here, Xander. I can drive you," Don called.

"That would mean telling you where I'm going."

"I know where they are."

"Not all of them."

"Oh, yes, I do."  He followed him down the hall.  The nurse gave him a look.  "He checked himself AMA in Miami.  Came up here to hide."  He got him at the elevator, making Xander look at him. "At least let me drive you over.  You know I'm not going to fuss."

"I'm going to LA, Don.  I'm going to double back to the airport and head out there because I need to talk to Angel about someone."

"Fat chance you're making it out of the city.  Pick a place and I'll drop you off.  If you don't let me, I'm calling Mac."  Xander moaned at that.  "Now, let's go. Which one?"  Xander handed over the set of keys he had.  He looked. "Where is this one to?"

Xander took them back with a smile. "Didn't think you'd know."  He got onto the elevator.

"I'm still driving you, dumbass.  You're too sick to be let out alone."  He stabbed the button for the lobby.  "Come on, Xander.  Not like I'll nark to Horatio but we need to know for safety reasons.  What if someone comes after you to get to Danny?"

"Then I'm killing them, Don.  I'm a miserable prick when I'm in pain."

"I noticed."  He gave him a look, then whistled for a nurse.  "He's tired, can I get him a ride out to the car?"  They nodded and got him a wheelchair with a smile.  "Thanks."  He forced Xander into it and took him out there, keeping a heavy squeeze on a bad bruise on his shoulder, making him wince the whole way out.  He got him into the car and the car relocked, then handed a strolling nurse the wheelchair.  "Can you take that back to the lobby?  Thanks."  He got in to drive Xander, weathering the dirty look.  "Is that the place in Gramercy or not?"

"Not.  Seagate."

"Jesus.  Could you get much farther away?"

"They suggested a place in Conference House Park.  I believe that's on the tip of Staten Island."

"Point.  And hey, at least you're near Coney Island out in Seagate.  Still nearly the end of the earth."  Xander handed over the address.  "You can look at Miller Field across the water."

"I can."  He grinned. "It's a nice place but I want you to forget it."

"Yeah," he snorted.  He called Mac.  "I've got my dumb nephew and I'm taking him to his hidden spot of choice.  No, I'll know, he said you guys couldn't because you'd fuss.  He wants to hide from the fussy people."  He smirked at Xander.  "Mac said you owe him since he's got a screaming, ranting Stella."

"Have him ask her if she's pregnant again, she'll stomp off in a snit.  Oh, and tell him Calleigh's okay.  They stopped it in time."

"He said to ask her if she's pregnant again, she'll stomp off again.  Also to say Calleigh's all right?"  He looked at Xander.  "What happened to the perky one?"

"Her placenta tried to dance without a partner.  They reattached the part that came up to dip itself."  He yawned and moaned.  "Ow."

"He said she started to miscarry and they stopped it, Mac.  Sure."  He smiled.  "Yeah, but he said we couldn't fuss.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Mac said he understands but a wise man knows when to let his mate fuss and worry. Or else you get locked to the bed.  Apparently he speaks from experience."

"He said Claire once tried to keep him from going on an assignment by handcuffing him to the bed and sitting on him.  He ended up making her call his commander, who talked her out of it and got him free."

"I can foresee many pairs of handcuffs in your future," Don said wisely. He turned onto the bridge.  "Once you fall asleep I'll call Eric and tell him we've got you safe, you're going to hide, and I'll check in on you."  He looked over at the silence, seeing him asleep.  He checked his pulse.  He had one so it was all good.  He called Eric. "It's Don.  Tell the pacing redhead I've got him.  He's fine."  The yelling made him move the phone. "Hey, Horatio.  I've got him.  No, he's going to hide for a few days then I'll make him go back.  Of course I will.  Not like I'm not taking a few days off to be with my mother.  A small lump, they're doing the biopsy tomorrow.  Calleigh's all right?"  He smiled and relaxed.

"Thanks.  No, he pissed Stella off by having the cabbie get him away from her.  He visited my ma and now I'm taking him out to the edges of New York.  Yeah, he's apparently got a place set up for himself.  I promised him I'd check on him and Mac said he understands why he doesn't want to be fussed over.  Yeah, but some guys are that way.  Danny hates it too.  Even if he is a champion fusser, he hates it when people do it to him.  Yup.  Sure I'll give him hints.  Hey, Danny.  Edges of the ocean.  He said he was offered one out in Conference House Park but he turned it down in favor of the place nearer to the fun but still on the edges of the city.  No, he said I can't tell you.  Hmm, hint.  He can see Fort Wadsworth and he's in the unlucky number on the map.  That map.  Yeah.  Thanks, man.  Tell the fussy ones I'll check on him every day.  Yes, I will.  Thanks, Danny."  He hung up before it could be handed back. He checked Xander's pulse again.  At least there was a hospital out there if something happened.


Danny hung up and reached for a keyboard, looking up a map online.  He found the PDF file of New York City, done by Mayor Bloomburg, and looked at the area he needed.  "Okay, he's somewhere in this area," he reported.   "Somewhere in Seagate or South Bath Beach."

Horatio looked at the map.  "Is that a good area?"

"Lots of old houses.  Don said he could see Fort Wadsworth," he said, using the pointer to point at that name.  "He said he'll check on him every day."

"Not good enough," Horatio decided, looking at the map.  "That's a lot of area to cover."

"And Don's promised, Horatio.  Xander's probably asleep in the car.  That's about as far as you can get from where he had been.  It's possible he'll stay with him."

"What about his cat?" Speed asked.

"Don's allergic to cats.  Eric refused to believe it.  So Stella got a cat for her birthday.  City loves Mac's winter coat to sleep on.  She climbed it until it fell then lays on it all the time."  That got some smiles.  "Anyway, his mom's in Cedar's.  That'll be one hell of a commute every day so he might stay in his place but he'll go check on Xander.  Plus there's a decent enough hospital out there if something is going on.  And hey, when he's less grumpy, he can go visit Coney Island."

"It's still not where I want him," Horatio said firmly, glaring at the map.

"Yeah, well, some guys don't like to be fussed over.  He hates it, Horatio. The same as I'll fuss over Mac and he'll hide, but if I get sick, he won't see me until I'm better.  Don's mostly the same way too.  So are you really."  He stared him down, getting a less evil glare.  "You should take lessons from Mac for that look.  He does it better," he offered with a pat to his arm.  "That's a pretty decent neighborhood most of the time.  They've got a good patrol company out that way.  If he can't get out personally, he'll make Mac go because Xander knows he won't fuss.  They will both try ta talk some sense into your boy."  He looked over at the cough from the doorway.  "Hey, Warrick, you down here for a vacation?"

"Not really.  More like escaping the heat."  He looked at Horatio, handing him a letter.  "From Grissom, Horatio.  Sorry."

"We could use the help anyway," he noted patiently. "Especially since I need to go to New York."

"You do that, he'll run again," Danny reminded him patiently.  "Xander's are like that."  He stared him down, getting the hotter evil glare this time.  "He is.  Otherwise he'd be in his normal bed."  He looked at Warrick.  "His husband's injured and hates to be fussed over.  He ran ta New York."

"Greg's like that sometimes.  He doesn't really try to hide he just complains when we're being nice."  He looked at Horatio.  "So you can use me, even with Danny?"

"Of course we can.  We lost Ryan to one day a week," Speed offered.  "He's a judge now."  That got a smile. "Calleigh's out sick too.  H is twittering."

"I am not."

"You are so.  If this was the baby you'd have him back in the hospital by now."

Horatio looked at him. "I won't allow any of our children to turn this far into Xander, Speed.  Not mine, not yours, not Ryan's, and he agreed with me.  Xander and I agreed that there was no reason for the kids to become that much like him."  He looked at Warrick.  "Dive in, work with Eric."

"Thanks, man.  Thanks for understanding too."

"My husband's in New York hiding from me," Horatio reminded him.  That got a small smile.  "How is Greg?"

"We're going to go insane.  He's having mood swings."  He shrugged.  "Eric, where do you need me and where can I park my bag until I've got a spot?"

The group looked at each other. "I've got a spare room, Warrick.  Save yourself and your department some money," Horatio offered.  "It'll be too quiet otherwise.  I'd end up spending the time with the mother of our son."

"How many kids do you have?" he asked.  "Last I heard we only knew, roundabout, about Eric."

"Eric's sister just had our second child, Tia," he said proudly.  "She's adorable."  He looked at Eric.  "Did you tell your mother she doesn't have to worry about Xander sneaking in to steal her again?"  He nodded.  "Did she sigh in relief?"

"Went off swearing that the boy didn't take care of himself.  Everyone else but not himself.  My dad went to hide in the office and Marisol took the baby to see Di."  That got some laughs.  "My momma's a fierce woman when she wants to be.  Smart men are scared of my mother."

"My grandmother's the same way," Warrick agreed.  "I duck and run for cover at the first gentle 'damnation' and keep going.  Then I bring back good tea and chocolate."  That got some laughs from the guys.  "So, what happened to Calleigh?"

"She nearly miscarried," Speed offered quietly.  "She's fine."

"Man, I'm sorry.  Wait, she married and we didn't hear?  I can understand kids, but marriages and we don't hear?"

"We're not, yet," Speed told him. "She's being fussy."

"Huh.  Let Greg have her for a day, Speed."  Then he smiled sweetly.  "He threatened my life if I didn't quit moving his stuff around in the labs."

Speed laughed.  "I got that at home, man.  Her mood swings and his mood swings would be horrible on your city, even if she could fly."

"I heard that," Calleigh yelled from the hallway.  Warrick got out of her way.  "Hi, studly."  She hugged him. "Why are you in?"

"Greg nearly got blown up and I'm hiding from his mood swings.  Can I hide from yours?"

"You don't cause them," she promised, smiling at him then glaring at Speed.  "Horatio, where's Xander?"  He pointed at the map.  She looked.  "That looks like part of New York.  Why is my stepson up there?  Aiden will want to know too.  She's due in tomorrow."  Everyone winced and Speed went to call her.  He ended up sighing and paying for airfare up there for her.  She smiled sweetly at Horatio.  "Now, what am I doing today?"

"Sitting down," everyone said, sounding firm about it.

"You can run backgrounds and finanicals on the stupid people who wanted to hunt the Xander down like he was a lion," Eric offered, handing over that file.  "Hammra has the case now.  They took West off it."  She smiled cruelly at that.

"You've got some reports you could work on," Horatio offered.  "Unless you did them at home and I haven't seen them yet."

"I did and you haven't."  She patted him on the cheek. "Your email is bouncing."  He groaned, logging in to weed out some of that stuff.  He saved down the pictures from Di, making everyone smile.

"Print that one for me," Warrick requested.  "It'll make Greg happy to see such cuteness.  He thinks he is the King of Cute and Hip so therefore he'll have to learn to pass on his crown."

"I'd rather have our son doing a different job."

"Yeah, well, some *major* chemical companies have come hunting Greggo," Warrick offered.  "We're talking like Dow major."  They all stared at him.  "Greg's a minor genius, guys.  They're offering him the major bucks to move to medical research.  We're talking houses that they show on tv major bucks."

"Grissom must be pouting," Calleigh said.  "Why are you really down here?"

"Testifying and getting one of our people back but it's not looking too easy on us."  He handed over the folder.  "Plus Horatio put out a call for temp techs from us and New York to fill in for you.  It must take me and Danny to fill in for your beauty and brilliance."  She smiled at that and hugged him.  "Thanks.  Are you sure, Horatio?"

"I am.  We moved.  I've got the room.  We even have a beach."

"That's good.  I heard he got a dog.  Xander and Greggo keep in touch."

"He does but the dog's adopted our son."  He sighed.  "Let me drive you out there, Warrick, while they pull up the file."

"No need, we've already got it up," Speed offered, holding up the sheet.  Horatio growled.  "Uphill battle, Warrick. He's the guy who hurt Xander and we found human trophies in his house."  He flipped through.  "Two of them are yours though." He looked at him again. "The ADA over it is best known for giving Satan lessons and him not learning enough from her."

"That's fine.  We can work something out and I'll bridge back to my people while Horatio needs me."  He shrugged.  "You guys are meaner with the death penalty.  He go after showboys down here too?"  Everyone looked at Eric, who nodded. "That why he went after Xander?" Warrick asked.   Eric nodded again, smirking.  "Oh, tell me he didn't think Xander was prey."

Eric smirked and giggled.  "He did.  He thought he was a perfect hunting victim. At least until Xander started to fight back and didn't flinch the knife in the scar in his shoulder.  Then he let him go free so he could drug him again and take him to the hunting grounds.  Xander came off the floor when SWAT came in to get him.  He snuck out of the hospital in four casts and looking like a bad Mummy remake."

Warrick nodded.  "Hell, then I'm impressed.  His client list lead back to us?"

"You, us, LA," Danny said dryly, smirking at him.  "There's going to be a mini convention in the DA's office."  That got a laugh.  "Go toss your crap down and come back, man. Horatio could use the drive."

"Sure.  If it's not a problem, Horatio?"

"No, he's right, I could use the drive.  I've got to tell Diana where he is anyway."  He led him out to the hummer, bypassing Frank. "He's on the tip of Brooklyn."


"He's hiding, Frank.  He hates to be fussed over."

"I knew that when he pegged your brother with a lamp," he said dryly.  "By the way, the kid's got a nice arm on him."

"Hmm.  Yes, he does.  Maybe Eric will play baseball instead."  He led Warrick outside to the hummer.  "Sorry, it's been a bad week."

"Been there, done that.  We're still in reconstruction after the lab exploded."

"What happened?"

"Faulty hotplate with a sample left on it under the fume hood.  Blew up DNA and chem.  Blew into Trace.  Blew into all the labs across the hall.  Greg went through the glass walls and got massive burns. He's not a happy camper and he's back with second degree burns on parts of his back."  Horatio winced at that.  "Hence his crankiness and mood swings but he refuses to go home."

"He's dedicated."

"Yup, that's why he's not taking the major bucks to go to medical research.  He could be richer than Xander if he did."

"You do what you love in this field," Horatio said wisely, backing out and heading for the house. Warrick watched the buildings go past and Horatio saw the cream colored convertible in front of him with the gunman standing up.  He called dispatch.  "This is Caine, I'm on Padre.  They're back.  Cream colored convertible.  Adam-Charley-Jack, 458.  Heading downtown."  He got back confirmation.  "Hold on.  They've been popping up randomly."  He turned on the lights and sped up to go after them.  The car sped up too, and the guy sat down.  Then again, they had pissed off Horatio.  They had shot at his family.  They tried to turn onto a busier street and he gave them a bumper nudge, making them miss the corner and hit a street sign, one of the older stone plinths.  He got out, gun in hand.  "Miami-Dade PD.  Don't move!" he shouted, moving closer.  All they did was groan. "Next time, wear your seat belts and keep your guns inside the car."  He called it in and patrol officers screamed up with an ambulance.   "This is them."

"Man, and I thought the Wrath of Caine was bad when you scratched a hummer, what did these guys do that he'd dent the hummer?" one patrol guy hissed.  Horatio glared at him.

"They shot at his family when they were bringing Eric's new niece, Horatio's daughter, home," a more unwise one said loudly.  They all hissed and stepped away in case lightening struck him.

"Yes, but they have shot at others as well, and my husband is very good at defensive driving," Horatio said calmly.  "Take them in for that as well," he ordered.

"Um, sorry, sir, yes, sir.  At least it's a small dent.  Easily fixed."  He scurried off before Horatio could bite him - with the way his jaw was clenched it was possible.

"Gee, and I thought this would be like a vacation," Warrick quipped, looking at Horatio with a smile.

"Not in this town, my friend.  Not in this town."  He started on the paperwork there for the arrest report and the new dent in his hummer.  It was the longer paperwork.  He even got a call from his boss.  "Caine," he groaned.  "No, I was taking a visiting tech to my house to drop his bag when we ran afoul of the duo shooting people in this area, Chief.  Since I was there, I reacted.  They're in custody."  He looked. "It's barely a scratch.  Some paint transfer.  The garage can fix it later today.  Thank you, sir."  He hung up and turned off his phone before someone else called to make sure he hadn't eaten anyone.  He wasn't really like that.  Most of the time.  Except about his family.  He handed over the paperwork.  "Have it put on my desk.  I'll finish it when I get back."  That got a nod and he went back to driving Warrick home.  This was definitely not a good day now.  It had been bad before but now it was horrible and he wouldn't even have cuddles tonight.  He called his boss back once they got inside. "My mate is in Brooklyn.  Warrick's here.  Calleigh's back. Speed's back.  I'm going.  Thank you, sir, I will."  He hung up and tossed Warrick Xander's house keys.  "The silver one is for the front door.  I'll reintroduce you to Di and Taylor."  He walked him up the street, smiling at Willow when she answered it.  "I'm going to Brooklyn.  This is Warrick.  Make sure he gets back to the station?"

"Of course. Is he staying with you?"  Horatio nodded.  "Xander's where?"

"Brooklyn."  He walked away.  "Kiss my son for me."

"Yup, will when he gets up.  He wore out the dog."

"Put Xander's dog back at our house.  She can get her own."

"Sure, Horatio."  She let Warrick inside.  "Come on, big man.  We'll let the women around here terrorize or coo at you.  Lizzy, look who mommy found."  Her daughter cooed from her seat on the couch.  "This is a Warrick person. He works with Unclie Horatio."  Her daughter squealed at that name.  "I know, you like the Unclie Horatio."  Di came out of the kitchen so she nodded.  "Horatio said he's housesitting and watching the labs."

"That's fine.  Hi, Warrick."

"Diana. You grow prettier every time I see you."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "Greg drove me away with his mood swings.  He got a bit blown up recently."

"Awww, my poor baby!" she cooed, going to call him. "You settle yourself in and we'll drive you back that way.  I'm taking Eric to visit Tia anyway."  She looked at the dog, then at him. "Horatio wanted his dog back?"

"He said to put Xander's dog back," he offered with a smile.  "He's at home, we're still on nights."   She dialed that number and got a grumpy, pouty voice. He went to play with this kid he didn't know and the dog, who was very bouncy and a lot like how he remembered Xander.


Horatio stepped off the plane, finding Mac there.  "I didn't need an escort."

"Yes you did.  I heard you had to dent the hummer earlier."  He smiled at the groan.  "Speed said he finished the report about the past shootings and sent it back. He warned me someone mentioned the Wrath of Caine rumors to your face.  Any idea where he is?"

"Danny said Seagate or South Bath Beach?"

"Decent neighborhoods."  He called home.  "Lindsey, look up where Xander's house is out in Seagate.  Okay, have Stella do it or ask Don.  Have her threaten him with the cat."  He smirked when that got an address.  "Thanks."  He hung up.  "A bit run down but clean and decent in that neighborhood.  He's probably got some nice views.  He's right on the tip."   He led him out to the car he had checked out for the day and took him out there.  It was a long, quiet, friendly drive at least.  Horatio smiled at the sight of Coney Island.  "I'm guessing he wanted the fun, Horatio."

"I'm sure he did and I'm still going to spank him.  It took me hours to find him earlier."

"Let me stop somewhere to get you dinner and breakfast," he offered, pulling into a dinner.  He walked inside and came out, handing over a few boxes a few minutes later.  "There you go.  That should last you.  There's a corner store up the street if you need other stuff."  He got back in and drove them to the house.  He had one neighbor and a few across the street but most of the rest were for sale.  "Like I said, quiet."

"Very."  He got out and headed for the house, looking at the lock, then the sign for the alarm company.  He picked it and walked in, answering the phone before it could do more than half ring.  "This is his husband, I forgot my keys," he said quietly.  He nodded. "Thank you."  He put the food in the fridge and walked back into the bedroom, finding Xander curled up on his side, somehow.  He looked at him as he slid out of his jacket and undid his belt.

Mac walked in and turned away.  "The neighbor next door wanted to know why he was so hurt.  I told her he was attacked in Miami and he came up for a rest, that you're his husband.  She smiled at that and promised cookies.  Call me if you need anything, Horatio."

"Thank you, Mac."  Mac nodded and left, closing the door behind him.  Horatio finished stripping and found the lube in the bedside table.  This house was barely furnished. He had seen a couch and now a bed without much of a frame.  He slicked himself up and settled behind his mate, gently and slowly pushing his way inside, making him tense up.  "I will be spanking you for this, Xander.  You knew better."  He moved back and pushed in harder.  Xander moaned and shifted his hips backward. "You're loose today."

"Had to clean myself earlier."

He put a hand on his hip to make sure he couldn't go too hard and got to work making sure his mate knew he was to follow his orders.  Xander clenched around him and whimpered.  "Mine."

"Yours."  Horatio came at that admission, then cuddled up to his back.  "I still hate being fussed over."

"Xander, my restraint is snapped right now.  Unless you want me to turn you over my lap and paddle your ass bright red, shut up."  Xander went silent and pressed back against him.  "I'm sorry but you knew better than to run."

"I can't stand having people around when I'm sick."

"Tough.  Suck it up.  Mac has to now and then."  Xander moaned and he moved against his back.  "Pain?"  Xander nodded. "From me?"  That got a quick head shake.  "Liar.  I shouldn't have."

"Needed it anyway.  Move to my other side?"

"If you want."  He moved to that side, letting Xander curl up on his chest.  "Can you ribs take that?"  Xander nodded and closed his eyes.  He fell back asleep within minutes. "I didn't want to hurt you," Horatio said quietly.  He stroked through his hair, resisting the other urges to mark his mate.  His mate obviously needed a reminder of who was alpha in this pack.  He stomped on that urge until it was whimpering quietly in the back of his mind about him being mean and went back to soothing his mate.  He could handcuff him later.  When he went to find a ring for his piercing.  Xander shifted and he thought calmer thoughts, letting him drift back off again.  Horatio considered it.  His mate needed to be claimed but he was too sore.  Much much too sore now.  Plus he needed his mate to see how being spoiled and pampered wasn't so bad, that it wasn't something he should run from.  He called Danny, speaking quietly.  "I have him. Anything new?  Phil came back why?"  He groaned.  "No it's going to be a few days.  Must he?"  He sighed.  "Have Speed forge it, or Eric.  One of the two.  Maybe Marisol since she's so good at it."  He smiled.  "Thank you, Danny.  Now make it go away."  The phone was handed over. "Phil.  Make it go away.  Also the extra cars too."  He listened to the idea.  "How much would that cost?"  He grimaced.  "I could use it.  Thank you."  He hung up and looked down at the open brown eyes.  "Marisol forged your signature on some paperwork and I'm getting rid of the girly hummers."

"Give them to a gay Marine?"

"No, Mac would get mad if I did that."  He stroked his back. "I'm disappointed, Xander.  I feel like you don't trust me."

"I do so.  I don't want to be fussed over. I know you won't hurt me more.  Some guys don't want to be fussed over."

"Yet you fuss over others."

"They need it."

"So do you now and then.  Like right now."

"No I don't, I need sleep.  I never get sleep when others are around because I have this need to fuss over them."  Some things clicked in his mate's mind, he could almost hear it. "Don't you dare."

"Shut up, Xander.  You're mine to treat however I want.  Including making you eat dinner since Mac stopped to get us some."  Xander groaned. "We threatened Don.  He didn't willingly give it up."

"With what?"

"An allergy attack so bad he wouldn't be able to see his mother tomorrow."

"That's mean."

"I know.  That's why we did it.  A threat doesn't work unless it's mean."  He went back to stroking him. "Tonight, we are going to get a new ring for your holes, both of them, and then I'm going to find a way to remind you that you are mine to take care of.  Even when you're sick.  The same as you do me."  Xander hid his face against his side.  "I may love you but this attitude annoys me."

"Sorry, Horatio.  I don't want to be a bother. You're always taking off work for me."

"And today I had to do it again because you ran."

"You would've taken today off anyway and I thought it'd give you a few days to calm down."

"I worry when I can't check on you, Xander."  He made him look at him, shifting onto his side to face him. "If I can't check on you and make sure that you're all right, I worry.  The fact that you flew like this worried me greatly.  Anyone could have tried to mug you up here."  Xander slumped and gave him the most pitiful look.  "I know you weren't considering that, but it could have happened.  You could have ended up being one of Mac's cases, then what would I have done?"  Xander slumped further and nodded, putting his face against Horatio's chest again.  "That's why I want to protect you.  I want to be able to check on you, to protect you.  The same as you do me.  I know if I took off to hide like you do to me, I'd never hear the end of it."

"I'd pout but understand."

"I don't pout."

"No, you don't."  He looked up at him. "I'm sorry."

"Good.  Let's get you cleaned up, Xander, and then we'll go get you a new ring.  I hate that you're not wearing my marks."  Xander shivered and kissed him on the chest.  "Not like that.  I can't hurt you.  I didn't mean to hurt you last time."

"You didn't. My leg was already cramping.  That's why I hate casts."

"Suck it up, Xander."  He took a kiss.  "If you ever get this hurt again, I'm putting you in traction."  Xander moaned at that so he moved a hand down his back to squeeze his ass. "This and every other part of you is mine, remember.  You promised yourself and your life to me.  The same as I did to you.  Xander nodded, letting it go at that.  "Good boy.  Now, let's get cleaned up and then I'll treat you to a new ring."  Xander nodded, heaving himself up with some help from Horatio and heading into the bathroom. "No breaking those."

"I did a quick healing spell earlier."

"I don't care.  Casts are a punishment for doing stupid things.  You're keeping them on the full time."

"I've already cracked two of them and got my hand one wet earlier," he called from the bathroom.

"Fine then we can stop at an ER on the way into the city."  Xander's groan carried.  He heard a knock and got up to put on some pants and answer it.  "Hi," he said, smiling at the nice looking middle aged woman standing there. "Can I help you?"

"Where is the other one?"

"My husband's in the bathroom getting cleaned up.  We were going to run out for a few minutes.  He managed to crack one of his casts already."

"Awww.  Joyce said your husband was attacked in Miami and came up here to rest for a bit.  It's nice to see this house occupied."

"It's our vacation house for when he wants snow," he admitted quietly.  "He'll be fine.  It's mostly bruises and a few broken bones, ma'am."

"Oh, Mary, please," she chided, smiling at him.  "And you are?"

"Sorry, Horatio Caine."  He shook her hand. "Miami-Dade PD."

"Ooh, and an officer?"

"Captain," Xander said as he came out.  He leaned on Horatio's arm, smiling at her.  "Hi, Mary.  I'm Xander.  We met the day I signed on the house."  She smiled and shook his hand. "This is our vacation spot.  We take reverse snowbirding now and then."

"That's fine, dear.  I know you don't have much in there.  How long are you in for?"

"Two days," Horatio offered.  "Then we have to go back for some paperwork about the attack."

"I understand fully.  Well, Joyce said she'd make you some cookies, Xander and Horatio.  I'll let you go out tonight.  You really did crack that leg cast."  He nodded.  "It's all right.  I'm sure they can put a new one on pretty quickly.  The local hospital is up the street and toward Coney Island, but then take a left.  There's some really good signs once you head back that way."

"Thank you, ma'am."  Horatio smiled at her.  "We'll try to keep it down."

"Oh, please.  We may be a bit provincial around here but love is love to Joycie and I.  Be loud, it's celebrating the love.  Have a good night."  She bounced next door to talk to that neighbor.

Horatio looked at Xander, then at himself.  "Let me get redressed."  He closed the door and put Xander on the couch, then went to finish putting on his clothes, including his badge and gun.  Just in case.  He knew that someone would want Xander more because he was vulnerable looking.  Maybe not as their sextoy but still, they'd want him. He came out and helped Xander up, taking him out to the garage.  No car.  Xander called a cab and one came, making the neighbors smile and wave.  He waved and smiled back before getting him into there.  "I'm surprised there's no car."

"I figured a rental would be more unknown but I took a cab from the airport."

"Probably a better idea with four casts, Xander.  The local ER please," he told the driver. "He cracked one."  That got a nod and they went to the local not-quite-a-full-emergency area of the hospital's ER.  He walked Xander inside and the nurse gave them a horrified look.  "He was attacked in Miami.  He's cracked a cast.  We need more x-rays since he ran and flew up here without me."

"Of course..."  She saw the badge.  "Detective?"

"Captain," Xander corrected.  "I'm a pretty quick healer. Can I have ones I can take off?"

"Probably not."  She walked them back to a room and told one of the doctors what was going on, then went back to check in the next one.


Mac looked up as Xander walked into the hospital on his crutches.  "Didn't you have casts yesterday?"

"I still have one on my leg and my ribs are still screwed," he offered, grimacing.  "I did a quick healing on the others," he muttered.  "I ache."  That got a knowing smirk from Don.  "She in yet?"

"Just went under.  Where's Horatio?"

"He's in the bookstore to find me some tylenol and a soda."  He sat down with a sigh of relief.  "I hate being injured."

"Next time, don't let yourself be taken."

"He was in a cruiser."

"Excuse me?" Don asked. "It was another cop?"  Horatio joined them. "It was a cop who attacked him?"

"No, he was in a stolen cruiser and a rental uniform."  He handed over the bag to Xander.  "Eat the chocolate after you've taken the medicine."  Xander nodded, taking the meds first without an argument.  He nearly swallowed them dry before he could get the soda open.  "Pain?"  Xander nodded, digging into the candybar.  "The man wanted to hunt him like he was on safari.  The one who took him decided to beat him to soften him up so it'd be an easier hunt.  Warrick's down there because they had some victims from Las Vegas too."

"I'm missing Warrick's visit?"

"He'll still be back there when we go back in two days," Horatio reminded him.  He sat down beside Mac.  "Thank you for getting us food."

"Welcome.  Looks like you went out anyway."

"He needed more clothes and he didn't have his rings in."  Xander blushed at that and played with the new one on his hand.  "That's at home, Xander."

"I figured it was."  He shrugged. "My hand was too swollen anyway.  I wouldn't let them cut it off."  He took a longer sip of his soda.  "How's Calleigh?"

"We called down there.  She's working in Horatio's office, doing the paperwork," Mac offered, patting him gently on the back.  "She's swearing at you."

"I didn't want to worry her."

"You didn't, you created a few new mood swings.  Speed had to calm her and the baby down twice."  Xander groaned, shaking his head.  "Next time think, Xander."

"Sorry, guys."

"It could've been worse. We heard Horatio had to dent the hummer to get the guys shooting at people."

"Danny said one guy wrote an apology for mentioning the Wrath of Caine rumors in front of him.  It's on his desk," Mac offered, making Xander smile and Horatio moan.  "She said he's very sorry.  He said he'd rather face down a pregnant Calleigh during a mood swing than ever mention it again.  He told her it was obviously a rumor."

"Not even close," Don said dryly.  He looked over as his father came back. "She in?"  He nodded.  "Dad, you remember Horatio probably."  He waved at him.  "Xander's husband."

"I remember.  I'm surprised you let him out of bed."

"He's being stubborn and wanted to come wait with Don," he offered shaking his hand. "I hope she's all right."

"Us to."  He looked at Mac.  "Last time I knew you had some curly haired goddess on your arm, son."

"Don's like an annoying brother."

"That's fine.  He could do worse."  He looked around.  "No Messer?"

"He got ten death threats in a week thanks to the thug on trial, Dad. He's down subbing for them today."

"Ah.  Understandable really.  I might've run too.  Probably have taken the family with me."

"Gee, thanks, dad."

"Sometimes leaving them is safer if the guy's going to chase you and not use them as bait," Xander told him.

Don looked at him.  "Sometimes I wonder about you."

"Yeah, well, look why I learned to think that way, Don.  Besides, if he had taken his family, Mac's lab might've had to stopped or moved to a crawl."

"Paperwork definitely wouldn't get done," Mac agreed dryly, patting Xander on the back. "Just your ribs and you femur?"  Xander nodded, giving him a pitiful look.  "Plus the bruises?"

"Yeah, and they ache too."  He leaned against Mac's side.  "He doesn't understand why I wanted to hide, Mac."

Mac looked at him.  "As much as you feel the need to check on him, take care of him, and look after him, his soul is screaming that he's vulnerable.  That he's a liability to the family in this state.  That you can do better on your own without him for a few days than having to protect him."  Xander shook his head.  He looked down. "You sure about that?"

"Even before I met her, I never liked to be fussed over.  Being fussed over was a bad thing."

"Okay, and the fact that his very bad parents were abusive and hated having to take care of anything," Don added. "Probably yelled at him when he got the sniffles since it cut into their lives."

Horatio nodded at that.  "I got that part.  The other I hadn't considered."  He looked at Xander.  "The worry makes me more vulnerable, Xander."

"Can I tell you where I'm disappearing to?"

"No. You forget, I can get others to watch you for me if I have to defend the pack or the lab."  Xander nodded, accepting that.  "The same as Calleigh doesn't make us weaker, it makes us meaner when someone attacks us."  That got another nod.  "So no more running or else I will punish you next time."

"Yes, dear."

"Thank you."  He looked at Mac. "I even made him let me dress him but he got to talk me into jeans since he's got the air cast on his leg and a cramping thigh."

"I'd still be at the begging for painkillers stage," Don admitted.  "You're a stronger guy than I am, Xan."

Don's father looked at him.  "You're not on pain killers?"

"He hasn't had any since about noon yesterday," Horatio admitted.  "He's refused them totally after a rebound hit his shoulder."  Xander nodded at that. "He didn't even mention when Marisol broke his hand during labor."

"Ow," Don sighed, rubbing his own hand.

Xander looked at him.  "I hit the nurse with it later when she tried to keep me from seeing Tia too."

"She probably deserved it," Don's father agreed.  Xander nodded, grimacing slightly.

"Still, we do not hit without reason," Horatio reminded him.

"I apologized in writing."

"I saw.  Thank you."  He looked over as a nurse came over to check on them.  "Anything on Mrs.  Flack?"

"No, not yet.  Is he all right?"

"I'm fine," Xander promised with a small smile. "I ache but I had tylenol."  She nodded and walked off.   "They're nicer than ours at University."

"That's why we took you to Mt. Sinai," Horatio reminded him.  Mac smiled at that.  "He literally snuck out of the hospital at three in the morning."

"At the time I thought it was really lax security for a military hospital," Xander admitted.  Mac smiled at him for that.  "I was missing a few days in there.  Horatio smacked me on the head and they came back.  I had a loose connection."

"Next time don't run and he won't have ta," Don reminded him.

"Were you military, son?" Don Sr. asked.

Xander looked at him and slowly shook his head.  "No.  I grew up in a bad place.  I had homegrown combat training.  Survival."  That got a horrified look.  "My former town had about a thirty percent homicide rate."  He gaped then whimpered. "Yeah, that's why I'm so good.  I helped protect others."

Don's phone rang.  "That's Aiden."  He walked out onto the balcony to answer it.  "Hey, Aiden. No, he's here.  My mom's in surgery.  Cedar's.  Surgical waiting area.  Sure.  Come on up. The more the merrier."  He grinned.  "He's down to a cast, broken ribs, and crutches besides bruises.  Sure."  He hung up and walked back inside.  "Aiden just landed at La Guardia."  Xander moaned.  "Yup, you're in deep shit."  He sat down again.  He grinned at his dad.  "Aiden used ta work for Mac.  She's like Xander's adopted mom.   He's in so deep."

"I'm sure she'll take it outside to scream at him.  Which one was she?"

"The dark-haired, pouty looking one with the lips, dad."

"Oh, her.  She was pretty."  He looked at Xander. "Hop away now, kid.  Save yourself."

"Won't work.  She's native and she'd hunt me down."  He looked over as someone else walked their way. "Speaking of, Mac."

"Lindsey, is there a problem?"

"No, not yet.  The guys in Don's unit wanted him to have this," she said, handing him the envelope.  "They hope your mom's okay, even though they're only guessing what's wrong."  She looked at Xander.  "What happened to you?"

"Someone who wanted to use me as a safari attraction."


"Because he thought I'd make a good deer to hunt."

"They were really dumb."  She looked at Mac. "Stella got a head's up, the defense is going to try to call Danny."

"I'll warn him. The Judge knows it'll take about a day to get him up here.  They'll call me when and if he gets called.  Thank you."

"Welcome.  I hope she's okay, Don.  Should I pass back any messages?"

"Nope.  Thanks anyway, Monroe.  We'll know soon enough.  She's still in surgery."

"That's cool."  She hugged him gently then patted Xander on the head like she would a dog before leaving.

Xander waited until she was gone before looking at Don.  "Did I just get the 'nice doggy' pat?"

"Yup. She thinks you're Horatio's pet boy."

"I'm his husband.  Not quite the same thing, even if I do occasionally fetch him something to drink."  Horatio smirked at that.  "I do."

"You do.  That's still all you're allowed to do in the kitchen."  Don and Mac laughed.  "How did your military buddies like his roach spray?"

"They loved it.  They cooked up a huge batch and sent it over for sand fleas in tents.  I let them see the stink bombs too.  They were very impressed with such a childish prank.  Especially when someone suggested how they could shoot them down into holes."  Xander giggled at that.  "Exactly."  He patted him on the back of the neck, feeling the lump.  He looked at Horatio, who only smirked.  "A permanent GPS chip?"

"Yes.  It's a human application of the chip for pets."  Xander moaned and hung his head.  "It's staying in too.  We've got the paperwork on it so you don't have to worry about security at the airport."  He looked at Mac again. "GPS and an ID chip that links back to his ID and medical history."

"Think I could get one for Danny?"

"Probably.  I think we need to get Grissom one for Greg.  Did you hear about the lab explosion?"  Xander gave him a stare.  "An accident in DNA and chem, Xander.  He went flying and got some burns.  He's fine.  Warrick said he's escaping his mood swings."

"I think Di's other party buddy should've come down," he said more firmly.  "Instead of Warrick.  As much as I like the guy, Greg obviously needs the break more."

"Warrick said he's refusing to go on break," Horatio offered.  He looked at Mac.  "Faulty hotplate under the fume hood with a sample that exploded," he said quietly.  "He went through the walls."

"Damn," he said with a wince.  "He okay?"

"Cuts and burns mostly.  They said it took out part of the labs on the other side of the hall from there."

"Can we help them?" Xander asked.

"I was going to put the sale of those stupid cars out there for them," Horatio offered.  "He suggested you should have the lavender, lipstick pink, and baby blue hummers, Mac.  Painted after he got them.  His last stalker gave them to me because I was obviously stronger to have beaten him and kept Xander."

"To the winner go the loser's spoils?" Don joked.  Horatio nodded. "Tell me you're kidding?"

"Eight new cars," Horatio said quietly. "It's either we give them to Mac for up here or we give them to the PD and make them repaint and outfit them."

"Define lipstick pink?" Mac asked cautiously.

"Like Calleigh's favorite one pink," Xander told him. "Like five shades lighter than Don's pink suit pink."   Mac moaned.  "I suggested he find some gay Marine to give them to but he didn't think so.  He thought of you instead.  Because it takes a real man to drive a pink car or wear a pink suit like that."

"It does," Don agreed. "And I look fabulous," he taunted.

"Son, you sound more gay than your nephew," his father complained.

Xander looked at him.  "Don't look at me. I wear tight stuff and leather unless Horatio wants me in a suit.  For some reason they think I'm going to break bad and go all Wrath of Caine's Husband when I'm in a suit."  Horatio moaned at that and Mac laughed.  "Really, the door guards looked upset when I came in from that formal event the day Melody died."

"She did?" Don asked.  Xander nodded.  "Damn it.  Why?"

"Isabel said she had some blood problems," Xander said quietly. "Her heart stopped according to the person who signed the certificate.  She gave me that picture of us at the Christmas ball and she gave Horatio some old journals that had some mentions of who did what crime way back when."

"Interesting. Anything for us?"

"I've got photocopies, Don," Mac assured him.  He looked at Horatio.  "I may be a Marine but I'm not man enough to drive a lavender hummer, Horatio.  Repaint them and give them to your city.  Or repaint them and give them to our city, but please repaint them."

"I figured I would have to anyway," he agreed.  "Unless Don wants one?"

"They'd go well with some of my suits," he agreed dryly.

"Son, half the city already thinks you're gay.  Driving one of those would make the rest of them certain," his father said patiently. A woman he vaguely recognized came off the elevator.  "She made good time.  Too late to run now, boy."

Xander gave her his most pitiful look.  "Hi, mommy."

"Baby.  Speed told me what happened.  Why did you run?"

"I hate to have people fussing over me."  He got up to give her a gentle hug, wincing and hissing.  "Mom, ribs," he moaned.  She let him go and looked at him.  "Sorry, want a good hug but can't hack it right now."

"I've had one, son, I remember.  You have how many?"

"Three."  He sat down, pulling her down between him and Mac.  "I'm sorry I made you come all the way up here, mom."

"No, you obviously need a mothering touch, baby.  Horatio!"

"He ran from me so I couldn't fuss," he pointed out.  "I had to find him twice yesterday.  Blame the real reason, Aiden."  She glared at her son, who flinched and ducked his head.  "I told you running was bad.  That's another reason why."

Aiden nodded.  "Yes, it is."  She made him look at her.  "You're so getting fussed over, even if I have to beg for more time off."

"I thought you were going medical," Mac offered.  "That way you'd be in Miami."

"So did I but they couldn't find my replacement and I ended up in another occult case.  Some stupid group of boys who wanted to be Gods so they were calling on a darker power to gift them."

"Was Andrew with them?" he asked.  She nodded.  "I'm sorry."

"Me too."  She shrugged and cuddled him, ignoring the mild swats and the heaving sighs to be let go.  "Tough.  Suck it up.  It's good attention."

"Horatio gives me good attention, even though he threatened to spank me."

"You spank him, you lose him," she told him.

"I know.  I decided instead I had to spoil him. He hates being spoiled.  He didn't even want me to buy him new clothes."

"You're breaking into your savings," Xander defended.

"You put two of those accounts at my disposal, Xander.  By the way, I'm looking over them when I get home.  Ray Jr. called and said there was something suspicious going on in one of them."

"Sure."  He looked at her.  "Save me?" he whispered.

She kissed him on the nose.  "Not a chance, baby.  You spend so much time spoiling others that we want to return the favor."

"I'm never buying another present again," he swore.  She laughed and hugged him again, getting a yelp. "Mom!"

"Sorry, I forgot."  She cuddled him more gently.  "Even if you suddenly quit, you're still going to get spoiled.  Suck it up, kiddo."  The nurse came over to check on him.  "Sorry, I forgot he's got broken ribs."

"That's all right.  We've got some tylenol if you want some, sir."

"I already had two packs," he offered. "Thank you anyway.  Mommy here gets a bit rambunctious now and then."  The nurse smiled and nodded, going back to the desk. "Do I look that bad?"  Everyone nodded.  "Sorry, guys."  Another nurse came over and Don and his father jumped up to intercept her, getting told something quietly that made them both smile.  Don smiled at them. "Good news?"

"Very.  Non cancerous."  He came back to hug everyone, making sure he didn't squeeze Xander too hard. "You guys head off to spoil Xander."  He bounced back, following the nurse to his mother's side.

"We can visit later," Mac decided, standing up. "Horatio, a word of warning. It reached my ears today through the mayor's office that one of the robotic Xander's went onto the auction block recently and went for nearly eight million in a highly contested battle.  It went to a techie but who knows whether or not any of the other bidders are still in town."  Horatio nodded at that.  "Aiden, dinner with Stella and I?"

"Sure, Mac."  She smiled and he nodded, leaving them alone.  "Where to first, Horatio?  We've got to spoil my boy."

"First, I want Xander to show me how he planned on getting rid of the loose gems in our safety deposit box."  He handed him a small box.  "I had Willow have Ethan send them up."  He looked at him.  "I don't like having them around."

"Did you break into the cash box too?"

"No, just that one."

"They were in the same box, Horatio."  Horatio moaned and went outside to call the bank, coming back looking furious.  "Again?"

"Didn't we move things?"

"Nearly everything. All but the safety deposit boxes because none of the other banks wanted to take a chance since that one bank had been stealing from them."  He looked at him. "Emptied?"

"It was. I talked to Ray Jr. and he had checked with Willow.  He's already thrown a fit and there's Feds down there. So we really do need to do this today."

"Actually, I need to go see Webber to get them to authorize something first," Xander admitted, getting up with a moan and grabbing his crutches. "Come on.  We'll go together."  They nodded, following him out.  A cab was easily gotten and he whispered the address, getting a nod. "Thank you."  He leaned back with a sigh of relief. "I hate broken ribs.  Was anything else missing?"

"The one with the pictures was fine.  The one with the other documents hadn't been touched that he could see but it was only half full?"

"Mac had to keep some of them with the contract case."

"Understandable since that was probably the only records of those attacks."  He looked at his mate, who almost shrugged.  "I can't argue much in hindsight about those.  Especially since you didn't know who you could trust in the department."  Aiden leaned forward to look at him.  "Someone had a contract out on my life for dumping his daughter twenty years ago," he admitted quietly.

"They in jail?"


"Good.  One less person I have ta kick the ass of," she said firmly, leaning back again.  "Who's Webber?"

"Oh, a Willow buddy."  He shrugged. "He's hidden some things on my authority.  Don knows but he doesn't know who Webber is.  All he knows is his email address."  He paid the cabbie and got out in the very rundown neighborhood, heading up the narrow stone stairs in front of the old stone building.  He pounded on door with a fist, making a hesitant young woman stare at him.  "Tell Webber it's Xander.  I need to see him.  This is my mom Aiden and my husband Horatio.  They won't say a thing, no matter their jobs."

"I'll tell him. Wait there," she said timidly then she closed the door and disappeared for ten minutes.  She opened the door and pointed at them. "You two stay.  You can sit.  Others have."  They nodded, Horatio offering his jacket for Aiden to sit on while Xander hopped inside. "You're the Xander?"  He smiled and nodded. "Thank you."

"Not an issue.  I know Willow. I grew up with Willow," he offered with a smile.  He followed up her up the stairs and through the maze of the second floor, finding him in a small bedroom that looked a lot like a dorm room.  "Webber."

"Xander," the brunette girl said, getting up to hug him.  Her pale skin and slanted, dark eyes showed her mixed races.  She was fairly pretty and tall but her features was odd enough that most people had to take a second look to make sure they saw what they thought they saw.  "What happened?"

"The bank thing I emailed you about.  Feds are in it now.  They took the ready cash out of the box."

"Pity."  She sat down behind her old computer keyboard and started to type, then smirked and emailed a very large zip file to someone at an address that ended in .gov.   She got to work in another screen then ran a blank card the size of a credit card through a scanner on her desk.  She turned to look at him.  "Ten grand enough or do you need more?"

"Ten grand today, thirty tomorrow?  Just in case?  We've got to get home and we've got medical bills coming. I was going to use it for those."

"It'll be returned, Xander.  The Feds don't want to have someone else climb up their ass."  She handed it over.  "Hit an ATM, brother love."

He kissed her on the top of the head.  "Thank you, baby love."  She smiled. "You got needs?"

"I would kill for a pepperoni pizza but most of the kids here are vegan."  She smiled. "I can go eat it later when I escape for my afternoon off.  Be glad you caught me.  I heard you were in town and injured."  She looked him over, then into his eyes.  "Who?"

"Someone decided I was good prey for a hunt."  She burst out laughing. "Yeah.  I'm down to bruises, broken ribs, and a leg."  He grinned.  "Thanks, baby love.  Be well, be safe, and remember you can call me."  She nodded and he headed out, going down the stairs.  He smiled at the door guard.  "One day, you'll be one of the greatest of the great as well," he assured her.  She smiled at that and let him out.  "Okay, I need an ATM."

"In this neighborhood?" Aiden asked.

"No, a better one with real cash."  He flagged down a cab and got in, with them following.  "I need a really good ATM.  Someone just authorized some funds for a major shopping trip."

"Fifth Avenue?"

"We're talking grands."

"Fifth Avenue. I know the bank."  He headed off, and it was a drivethru so he even got waiting time and a nice tip from the kid.  "Thanks, man."  Xander nodded and handed the guy next to him the money and the card, whispering in his ear. "Hmm, two badges too," he noted as he drove off.

"Xander," Horatio said once they got out.  Xander handed him the money and whispered something in his ear. "How long have you had that set up?"

"Since we took it from him for pissing us off."  He grimaced.  "We only touch it in necessities."  He looked at his mom.  "He's going to make me spoil him, right?"

"Wrong way around, baby."  She patted his cheek. "Who were the hacker corps?"  He raised an eyebrow.  "Please, honey, I used to work in those neighborhoods for crimes.  Which one is Webber?"

"The one you look twice at."

"I remember her.  I saw her when her big brother died."

"I was there."  He nodded, taking her hand to hold.  "They came to Willow for help and she helped them set up the Covenant.  We don't talk about it."

"That's fine," Horatio agreed, moving slightly closer.  "Does that mean that you know how to hack, Xander?"  He gave him a horrified look. "Xander."  He caught him before he could inch away.  "Xander, tell me.  Us.  She's your mother, I'm your mate.  You can tell us anything.  We're not going to tell Willow."

"She thought I was playing around," he said miserably, looking down at his feet.  "She thought it was a phase when I was trying to fit in."  He looked at him. "I can hack, Horatio.  Very well.  I sent her an information file on who was touching my things and she just sent it to Fornell or Abby."

Horatio nodded slowly.  "What else can you do, Xander?"

"I don't use it and I'm out of practice, Horatio."

"I know that, Xander.  You only get onto the computer to play games and check your email and account balances."  He looked at him.  "Now, tell me."

"I can hack a little bit and I kinda wrote two of the viruses we gave to Gibbs.  The one that makes it sneeze while you have total access underneath is mine and so is the mock- doomsday."  Horatio nodded at that, staying calm. "I'm sorry, I haven't had to use it in years, Horatio."

"I'm not disappointed, Xander, but if I ever get stuck with a computer issue I'm coming to you instead of Willow."  Xander looked panicked.  "Quietly of course."  He calmed down at that.  "Now, how much more can we get?"

"Up to ten grand today.  Thirty tomorrow.  The stuff in the box was to cover all the medical costs for Tia, Marisol, and Calleigh."

"Understandable.  I'll call later to make sure they got the file."  He hugged Xander.  "Let's hit another few ATMs and then we'll go shopping if you think you can walk."

"Can I have ice cream?"

"You can have ice cream as long as you don't bounce.  Oh Aiden."  He pulled something out of his pocket and handed it over. "This is being spread around to the family.  This is the GPS ID of the chip in his neck and the ID code that it goes to."

"So he's got another one in?"

"This is permanent, like what they put in pets, but it goes back to an ID and medical history," Xander admitted. "He checked, the hospitals in Miami have the scanners.  I have a nifty card in my wallet to tell them to search for the chip and where it went."

"Why not his forearm?"

"Too easy to get it dislodged or damaged," Horatio admitted. She nodded at that.  "Come on, let's go, Xander.  Make sure Mac gets a copy of that tonight, Aiden."

"Sure."  She took Xander's other side and they went to hit a few more ATMs then take him for ice cream.  Then shopping because he needed it.


To next part