Xander looked at the guy doing the math across from him.  "You can ask Peter, he went back over the books with us.  Plus that's the statement of all the deductions so far this year."

"I can see that, quiet," he ordered.

"No," he snorted.  "This is my life you're playing with. I have the right to babble."  Horatio squeezed his hand and he looked at him. "I do."

"It's a nervous reaction, Xander.  You're a very honest man most of the time, unless you're trying to be sneaky when you spoil me."  He gave the hand another squeeze.  "Calm down.  I'm here."  Xander relaxed and nodded.

The IRS agent looked at him.  "Why are you here?"

"I'm his spouse."

"It's not legal."

"Nor is me shooting you."  The agent swallowed and he opened his coat to show his badge.  "We are not separated.  We may have to file separate taxes but we are not separated when someone threatens my husband."

"I don't see it as a threat unless he's done something wrong."

"Then you would've given him enough time to prepare normally.  Not rushed it for two days."

"Day and a half, I didn't get the letter until four that day."

"He had missed another meeting with us," he said stiffly.

"Yeah, hurricanes do interrupt the mail," Xander said bitterly, glaring at him.  "Just get back to the math. I know I didn't make an error this time."

"No, you didn't."  He looked at the tax accountant.  "You did.  His son...."

"We have him at least half the time," Horatio agreed.

"He didn't claim him," the IRS agent said bitterly.

"That's so his mother can. I usually get a pretty good number of deductions with all the charity work I do.  She needed him more that way."

"I see."  He looked at the receipts for charity events, including tickets, and then at him.  "What else do you do besides go to events?"

"I'm presently working to go back to Nationals this year in swimming and diving and I'm trying to take six hours of college courses, plus I run our foundation.  Mostly, I play with the kids," he admitted at the disgusted look he was getting.  "Mine, well ours now, a few friend's kids.  I spend a lot of time with them helping their parents."

"You don't have a nanny?"

"No.  Occasionally we use a babysitter."  He shrugged. "I'm a perfectly good parent.  So are their parents.  Every once in a while we have to go to the extended family for emergencies, but not otherwise."

"I see.  Do you claim your college expenses?"

"I only went six hours every other semester this last year.  I thought you had to be full time."

"You do but there is a tax credit for the part timers."  He grimaced, glaring at the tax accountant.

"I'm hampered by him," he pointed out.  "I tell him what to bring in and he brings this huge file and his account books plus statements.  It takes me three days to get through his taxes alone."

"I tried going through you guys but you guys hated me," Xander said with a small pout.

The agent leaned back and rubbed his eyes.  "All right, first of all, whoever set this up, it's a mess."  Xander nodded.  "You know that?"

"Yeah, but I've gotten used to the mess.  Especially since we had so many troubles with people who hated us for being together and did things like file fake warrants with my bank to freeze my accounts.  We even had a judge who upheld it after the fact because he didn't want Horatio and I together."

The agent nodded and sighed.  "All right.  Were I you, I'd simplify the accounts off-shore into two or three, not ten or twelve."

"Fourteen," Xander said.  "Thirteen came and I immediately split another one."

"Why split them?" Horatio asked.

"They're above what would be returned in case of theft," the agent told him. "Do you look over his shoulder?"

"No, my nephew does that with him.  Now and then I look but I'm confused about how it was set up."

"What got him tagged?" Peter asked.

"All the off-shore accounts without a source of income listed," he said dryly.  "They thought he was a drug lord."

"I don't even take pain killers when I need them," Xander said, looking confused.

The agent looked at him.  "Why not?"

"He's tough that way," Horatio told him.  That just got a nod.  "What should he be doing?"

"He should have set it up as a small corporation really."

"I can't, not with the foundation," Xander told him.

"Can you quit the board?"

"No.  My grandfather started it and it was started so Don and I could continue his good works."  He leaned forward.  "Unfortunately my inheritance has been hyped and heaped upon by people who want me."

"I've noticed. Why?"

"I used to be a stripper."

"Did you file taxes that year?"

"Yes.  I came to you guys to do that."

"All right, that was wise.  What did we suggest?"

"Auctions, setting it up in a trust.  That stuff."

Horatio cleared his throat.  "Your trust is still in Miami, right?"  Xander looked at him and nodded. "Then what's off-shore?"

"The proceeds of the auctions."  Horatio blinked.  He sighed and pulled over the index book to let him look at it.  "That's how it's set up.   The tax guy I first went to helped me set up the first one and the bank down there thinks it's too much in each account so they split it off into a secondary one."

Horatio sighed.  "We are going to make an appointment with Rebecca's husband, Xander.  We're going to see what he suggests since he sits on the board of many banks."

"No, you're going to listen to me," the agent told him firmly.  "Does he have any skills that could create a business?"

"No," Xander told him.  "Not unless I start to deal in antique weapons."

That got a head shake.  "Too risky.  Can you copyright your name?  You said you went to Nationals in a sport?"  He nodded.  "Any endorsements?"

"I came in second in a non further game year.  I might not make it this year due to injuries earlier in the year."

"Okay, medical expenses are where?"  Xander pointed at the pile.  He sighed.  "I'm going to get a senior agent.  A guy who's been here fifty billion years. One who they consult with on the new tax laws.  All right?"  Xander nodded.  Horatio went back to reading.  He walked off muttering.

"I tried, Xander."

"I know you did, Peter.  I'm not blaming you.  You did really good.  It doesn't look like I owe anything.  Hopefully," he said, biting his lip.

"No, they're talking you didn't take deductions you should have," Peter assured him.

Horatio looked up from his reading.  "What's this intermediate account?"

Xander looked. "The safety deposit boxes."  He blinked at the stare.  "What?"

"We are sitting down to straighten this out, Xander.  I'm not sure how you know how much you have at any given time."

"Ray Jr. and I worked out a system," he said, pulling those books over to show him.  Horatio moaned when he saw it.  "It works."

"I can see that. At least you remember to write down transfers and balances."  A very old African American agent and the younger guy came in.  He handed back the books.  "They're going on the checkbook system."

"Simplest is always best," the senior agent said, looking at the piles of papers. "How many years is this?"

"I asked for this year's, I figured if I had to I could use it to go backward," the junior agent offered.  He opened the main ledger to let him look at it.  "I'm trying to do the spreadsheet."

"I can see that."  He sat down and looked at Horatio, then at Xander. "Let me guess, you started out okay and then things got too big for safety measures so you split off?"  Xander nodded. "Plus you've got feeder accounts coming from your off-shore ones?"  Xander nodded again. "Plus probably one to transfer out?"

"No.  Most of the off-shore stuff came from people who left me stuff that I didn't want and I auctioned it off through Christies.  That pile is the one with the pink edges."

He flipped through that then looked at him.  "Why?"

"Stripper," Xander said firmly.  "Known locally as Darkness."

"Ah!"  He nodded.  "My daughter saw you once.  She raved for weeks."

"I'm apparently a family curse to one family in the Middle East.  Two of their members have went gay and left me everything after trying to own me.  Horatio's trying really hard to keep me sane about that stuff."

He looked at him. "I hope you can.  Let's see if we can get this year's straightened out.  What are the other piles?"

Peter pointed. "Medical.  Childcare.  Emergency issues like the last hurricane.  Charity events and contributions.  Costs associated with that and to running his own charitable foundation."

"All right.  You are?"

"Peter Blocovich, sir.  His tax accountant.  I've been trying but now and then he gets stubborn.  Like saying his son's mother can have the deduction for him even though he does spend a good amount of time with the boy."

"My son is not a tax deduction," Xander said firmly.  "Besides, his mother needs it more."  He looked at him. "The various account ledgers are leading back to the index one," he said, handing it over.  "The green one is solely my trust. The others are the off-shore and the blue is for the safety deposit boxes and the ready cash I keep on hand."

The man nodded once and got to work on a new spread sheet, starting there.  He eventually sent them out to lunch and took Horatio's phone number to call them when he was done.  Six hours later, he called.  They trooped back in.  "I have never seen a more complicated system," he offered.  "Drug lords would want this system.  Please don't tell anyone how you did it."  Xander nodded at that.  "All right."  He handed over a copy of the spread sheet, making Xander stare in awe.  "This is what you have, this is what you're claiming as deductions.  This is what I can allow you to claim.  Unfortunately your wardrobe is not claimable at this time."  Xander nodded at that.  "For the emergencies, I can see those."  He looked at Horatio.  "You get spoiled a lot?"

"Yes, I do," he admitted, patting Xander on the back. "That is much simpler."

"It is.  I can write the name of the program out for you."  He pointed at the end column.  "This is your tax debt for this year."

"It's, like, millions less than last year," Xander said.

"I realize that.  We'll need everything since you turned eighteen to trace it back."  Xander nodded.  "Do you have that?"

"In the trunk of the car."  He looked at him.  "What do I do now?"

"Now, you let me finish this analysis.  It appears we're going to be sending you money.  I won't argue with you about not claiming your son.  That's a wise decision in this case since you clearly don't need the deduction anyway.  Now, about this real estate trade?"

"I thought it was okay."

"It is, though you can file for capital losses."  Xander looked confused.  "Taken any accounting?"

"One.  That was spring semester.  I'm supposed to take two this upcoming one."

"Good.  Do that.  Go through tax and investment accounting if you can.  It'll help.  Until then."  He handed Horatio another sheet.  "Since it appears you hold him sane and in control."

"I try."

"Very well. I do understand. I do the same in my family.  Do this. It will not interfere in the foundation."  Xander relaxed at that.  "It will, however, move your off-shore accounts somewhere that is a tax haven that businesses like to use.  The same as some very rich people and some drug lords do.  If they ask, tell them you used to be a mistress."  Xander nodded at that.  "That would allow you to move all your accounts into three main ones.  They should feed into two here.  Plus your trust. Whoever set up your trust did a very good job."

"He started the others too."

"Then he wasn't foreseeing them getting this big, son.  Doing it this way means you can easily keep track of it in a spreadsheet, like I did."  Xander nodded at that, looking much happier.  "Now, are you deducting anything else this year?"

"I got given some property and vehicles.  I'm donating the vehicles to the departments here in Miami and the sale of the property is half going to my retirement and half going to charity," Horatio offered.

"Thanks to people who're afraid of wanting you two to do it for them, yours and his are completely separate.  Except for the three accounts in both your names."

"Three?" he asked, looking at his mate.  "I knew about two."

"There's a retirement fund in both your names," the junior agent offered. "You'll be able to drive a new hummer every day for the next eighty years thanks to it."  Horatio moaned.  "He's trying to look out for you."

"I know he is.  What about the safety deposit boxes?"

"I don't mind those," the senior agent admitted.  "It's good for emergencies or ransoms.  I know he dips into it now and then for shopping."  Xander nodded.  "Did you get receipts for anything you did after the hurricane?"

"No.  I bought the kids I was helping some food.  Didn't I put the stuff from the pound in there?"  That got a head shake.   He looked at Peter, who checked his folio.  He shook his head.  "I, um, set up a line of credit for the local pound so they could feed and treat all the extra animals.  It was, if I remember right, 143,000 dollars."  They blinked. "To feed and care for ten animals for a night costs sixty bucks.  I pledged for the whole year and they've got over three hundred right now."

"That's very generous of you."  He checked, finding it under the desk protector.  "Let me figure this in."  He added that in.  "What about the food you said you bought?"

"I was working on one of the lost kids's shelters.  I bought toys, food, and clothes.  Not that much.  I don't think I saved receipts on that.  I'm good with missing out on that."

"That's fine.  At this level it'd only cut off a few dollars."  He printed off the spreadsheet again and let him see it, watching his face light up.  "Now, let's have it for the last five."

"Let me get it, it's in the car," Horatio offered, going to do that.  Xander paid a lot in taxes but he had no idea of his real net worth.  On the way he called Yelina.  "Can I have Ray's accounting project with Xander's money?  Just to look over?  We're simplifying the system."  He smiled.  "Thank you."  He hung up and got into the back of the hummer, glaring one of the guards into helping him carry the three boxes.  He shut it by remote, that was a nice thing Xander had done.  He walked them back upstairs and handed them over.

The dates on the boxes were looked at and he started at the earliest.

By the end of the night, it came out about equal because Xander hadn't claimed some of the tips he got while he was stripping.  They ended up paying Xander thirty-three dollars.


Horatio looked over as the financial manager *he* had hired finished with the setup of everything and got everything moved to the new accounts.  Confirmation was faxed over and signed, then faxed back.  Statements were faxed over.  A new set of ledgers were started.  He walked Ray Jr. and Xander through the process of upkeeping it and of how to do it on the computer.  Doing the ledgers was for them.  Doing the spreadsheet was for the IRS. The trust was looked over and that ledger was left alone.  The security boxes were looked over and whimpered at but most of them went into his shopping account or one of the more tax deferred accounts.  It only took two weeks for it to be straightened out.  Horatio looked at Xander.  "Can you do that?"

"I think I can."

"Good.  You're taking accounting classes until you understand every single frustration you gave the IRS."

"Yes, dear."

"Who ended up straightening this gluey pasta mess out?" the manager asked.

"Him," Xander said, pointing at the card.  "I'm to ask for him when I go back to do my taxes this year.   He thinks some of this moving is deductible too."

"It is," he agreed, looking at Horatio. "You look surprised."

"I never kept track of the auctions.  It was my mistake."

"Sorry, Horatio," Xander said quietly.  "There's only one left."  Horatio moaned.  "Half the loose gems, you said so."

"I did," he agreed, "but I believe I said three-quarters."

"I was going to do that locally through one of the jewelry stores."

"Fine, Xander. We've got to keep more receipts."

"Fortunately you've got more filing cabinets," Ray Jr. quipped.  He looked at him.  "Okay, so what do we do with this auction?"

"You have it put into this account," he said, tapping the last one.  Ray Jr. nodded at that.  "Good.  Now, I have seen the orders to electronically lock it without you two authorizing it or without one of you and your nephew?"  They nodded.  "Why?"

"Because he's a cop and I'm paranoid," Xander said honestly.

The manager smiled. "Good idea.  Very good idea.  You never know when someone could be being blackmailed or otherwise forced to get into accounts.  Are we foreseeing more wills?"  Xander moaned.

"We certainly hope not," Horatio told him.

"Good.  Excellent.  This will hold, even if the bank down there goes belly up, their insurance will pay you all of what went missing.  Even if there's a hostile takeover of the world, it'll be paid."  Xander relaxed at that.  "Anything else?"

"I hope not," Xander offered.  He leaned forward to shake his hand.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome.  Let's hope no one else has any more headaches."  Ray Jr. nodded.  "It's been a pleasure helping you gentlemen."  They smiled and left with the new ledgers and forms.  He signed out and the accounts were locked for them.  Before he even had an ounce of temptation.


Ray Jr. looked at his uncle in the garage.  "We need to talk."


"Father called me with some interesting news."  He looked at Xander. "When we were up there running from the serial killer, did you touch anyone?"

"No!" he said, looking offended. "I was with Horatio by then."

"I know that but he claims he found a kid who looks just like you."

"How old?" Horatio asked.

"Probably during our running away time. He spotted him at Coney Island and followed him to track his mother.  So if it wasn't him it's either a coincidence...."

"My uncle or father, or the Watchers," Xander said grimly.

"We'll see if she'll do a blood test," Horatio said quietly.

"Dad already did.  She has no idea who the father was.  She claims it was at a party. She and the boy have been tested, he needs some of Xander's."

"Sheldon's got mine on file," Xander offered.  "He and Greg were doing the sweat survey stuff."

"Okay, I'll tell him that."  He called.  "Dirtbag.  He said to talk to CSI Sheldon Hawks.  That he was doing a sweat survey and had his DNA on file he thinks.  Of course.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "He'll call him tonight."  He called up the picture on his phone and showed it to them.

"I looked more like Eric at that age," Xander said quietly.  "I can see what he did.  It's not me though.  Maybe a cousin or a brother."   The phone rang and he answered it. "Junior's phone."  He listened. "That's fine, I can give one.  Horatio can take one for me.  No, I looked almost exactly like Eric according to Willow's pictures.  That would leave three possibilities.  My father was still alive at that time. My uncle was still alive at that time.  Or the Watchers Council."  He nodded.  "Thank you."  He hung up.  "He was with Danny at the labs to get the test results.  Sheldon said his is too old and he never did a full DNA workup."

"I can take one tonight and have it Fed Ex'd," Horatio agreed.  "Let's go home."  He got them into the hummer and got in to drive, thankful that his foot was healed now.  He headed home, much happier now that everything had been straightened out.

Xander's phone rang.  "Hello?"  He smiled.  "Hi, Candace. No, I'm mostly done with him.  They said my finances looked like a mess of spaghetti that had been left in the pot too long without butter.  The IRS wanted to look at it and they got headaches.  We sent me to the guy Horatio hired to straighten it out.  Of course you can.  No, I had more than I thought. We never took into account interest."  He shrugged. "No, it's all done.  I'm done with him for the night if you want him.  Why?"  He looked at Horatio then snorted.  "He'd be really mad if I let that secret slip. Let's just say I have more money than the Foundation and leave it there, okay?"  He smiled.  The phone was taken by one of his other patrons.

"Thanks, dear.  You can tell them that they're nosy for no good reason and to butt out.  No, I'm fiscally fine, Rebecca.  I'm sure I am.  The IRS pinged the off-shore accounts looking for drug lords.  Called it a mess of spaghetti that had been left too long before getting buttered. They fixed it and then Horatio drug me to someone who could simplify it for me.  Nope, he had me move it to a different off-shore place and set it up in three accounts instead of fourteen. He straightened out my ten locally into three as well.  Plus the safety deposit boxes.  Of course."  He smiled.  "No, that's Horatio's doing. He didn't like me having so much money and loose gems sitting around so he's making me deal with it.  Did you like it?  We're headed home.  Well.... I guess I could.  Not a *party* but a tea for friends. You, Isabel, whoever *needs* to come.  Not a party however.  I'm not up to a party. The fundraiser's kicking my ass at the moment.  Please?"

He grinned.  "Thank you, dear.  I'm trying really hard, I am. I'm tired at the moment but I'm trying really hard to train.  Horatio promised if I made to the Worlds he'd come with me and we'd do touristy stuff."  He grinned.  "She likes that idea, honey."  He went back to listening once he saw the smile. "Why?"  He shook his head. "Why would he need a sword?  No, I don't let others have my collection. It's mine.  I'm very possessive of it.  Can he even use one?  No, sweetie, I don't fence. I use things like on Highlander.  For the same reason I had to come remove the big slimy thing on your beach a few weeks back.  Yeah, those sort of things.  I grew up doing it actually.  Sunnydale was like that."  He beamed.  "Thank you.  Yes, I only use heavier swords. Sorry.  Tell him I'm sorry but I don't have a foil.  Maybe someday.  Horatio, is tomorrow okay for an informal tea?"

"I don't mind.  I'll be at the ground breaking and so will you."

"That's right, the groundbreaking is tomorrow, Rebecca.  That's even better.  Sure."  He beamed.  "You too."  He hung up.   "Monday."

"I'll be there but I can hide in the office," Horatio offered. "That way I don't have to listen to anyone nag you about stuff you should be doing."

"They don't usually."  Horatio gave him a look before turning onto their street.  "Whoa!"

Horatio stopped and looked.  There was their dog. He got out.  "Lancelot, in!"  He hopped into the Hummer and Horatio drove on, looking for the others.  They made it to the house and found the gate open.  He drove them up and carefully went to check while they waited in the car.  He came out shaking his head.  "They're gone."  He let the boys out.  "Someone tried to rob us."

"They get Gram's tea set?" Ray asked.

"No.  One of the cups is smashed but no."  He called it in then went to wait by the gate to seal it after them.  Eric came as the CSI.  "I have no idea," he told him, hitching a ride back.

"I do.  Someone called a threat to you earlier."  He handed it over.  "We thought it was a hoax, Horatio.  Sorry."

"These things happen," he sighed, walking back up and inside to find the boys in the living room.  "Where is Eric?"

"With his mother, looking at uniforms. I told her to only get a few, in case," Xander offered.

"It's a good school."

"The kids were drug zombies.  That's not a good school."

"Enough," Ray called tiredly. "Let's deal with the issue at hand.  We need to find whoever broke in and make them fucking sorry, family."

One of the patrol officers looked at him. "Are you a Caine too?" he asked.

"Yeah, he's Horatio's nephew Ray Jr.  His daddy was a cop and his momma's Detective Salas," Eric said with a smirk for him.  The man whimpered.  "So, yeah, we'll be kicking ass.  A lot."

"Um-huh," Xander agreed, looking around.  "Any graffiti or anything?"

"Not that we've seen, sir," the officer offered. "We did clear the house.  Why is there an extra door in the basement?"  Xander hopped up and headed down there, slamming the door in someone's face.  He walked into the bunker carefully, activating the security system.  Someone screamed.  It was a pretty sound.  He walked that way, finding Mac staring at the guy, his hands still cuffed.  "You good?"

"No.  He said he wanted your swords."  He nudged him with a toe.  "So that's why you told me to wear my watch down here."

"That and you tend to lose time.  He the only one?"

"Yes."  Xander heaved him up and drug him off, Mac following.  "The door?"  Xander hit the emergency code from the stairs, sealing it.  "Cute."

"Thanks."  He smiled. "I know I am.  Open the damn door," he called.  It was flung open and Horatio looked at him. "Honey, he wanted my swords."  He dropped him in front of his mate and went to find his keys.  He came back and let Mac out, then looked at Horatio, who was staring at him.  "Know him?"

"Where was he?"

"In the swords.  I didn't let him near the handguns, Horatio," Mac promised.

"Thank you."  He pulled the man up to look at him.  "You wanted what?" he asked the assistant chief of police.  He started to cry.  "You broke into *my* house.  You threatened *my* husband.  You're upsetting *my* family."

"Our," Xander said quickly.  "You promised I could hurt the next one."

"I did."  He handed him over.  "Since he's not in custody yet.  Ray, check for Percy."

"He's in your bathroom, growling.  I didn't want to risk it."

"I'll go," Horatio agreed.  "Watch Xander, make sure he only hurts him a little bit and saves some for me."  The man let out a wail and he looked at him.  "I could feed you his cooking."


Xander whistled as he drug him out back, tossing him away. "You wanted to do what with my swords?"  He went to get his practice blade, showing off a bit.  The man backed away, holding onto his cock for dear life.  "Good idea."  He lunged and the man screamed, backing away.  "Oh, come on, you wanted to play with my swords.  Fine, I'll put it down," he offered dryly, putting it onto the porch.  He turned and waved him on. "You think you want what's mine?  Come get it."  He lunged and Xander kicked his ass ten ways from Sunday, making him whimper and moan, making him bleed and curse, and finally making him beg.  "Aww, that's so pretty."  He patted him on the head. "Good bitch."  He let him go and walked off. "All yours."  He grabbed his sword and went to wipe it down and his face.  He headed into the bathroom, finding Horatio on the floor with his dog. "What's wrong?"

"He's calming down."  Xander came in and laid next to their dog, cuddling him like usual. Percy whimpered and licked his face.  "You're a good boy, Percy. I promise you are.  You're a very good boy," Horatio soothed.  Percy's tail wagged a few times.  "You're a good boy to protect the house.  A very good boy."  The dog perked up at that.

"My Percy is such a good dog," Xander cooed, ruffling his fur.  "Such a good boy.  You protected the house and made Lancelot get us.  Such a good boy."  He gave him ear scratches and the dog's tail picked up speed.  "That's my good boy, Percy.  Yes you are.  Now, let's go play.  Wanna go play?"  The dog barked and got up, Xander following him to play with both of them.

Horatio shook his head.  Sometimes his husband amazed him.  He got up and walked out, finding the officers watching his son and dog.  "He still here?"

"He's going away right now, sir.  We thought Prestons might like him."  Horatio snorted.  "He doesn't like your spouse so he might be the last friendly person he sees for a long time."

"Perhaps."  He picked up the dogs' tennis ball and tossed it for them, watching as they ran after it.

"Your boy is a marvel to watch in action," Mac said, smile evident in his voice.

"Why can't I have a few hits," Ray complained.  "Xander did!  I'm a real Caine."

"You have to go to the academy before I let you hurt someone," Horatio said blandly, looking at his nephew.

"Xander didn't have to."

"Xander has combat experience, you do not," Horatio said plainly.  "So either join the military or the academy."

"I've been taking lessons from him.  Come on, Uncle H!" he whined.  "I'm a real Caine, I should get to have some fun when he breaks into our house!"

"Ray," he said calmly.  "Your mother would throw a fit."

"Like you're going to tell my mom," he said dryly. He turned and laid into the guy then spit on him.  "In case you hadn't heard, the Wrath of Caine is mighty.  His husband is worse, and they're both training me, plus my mother."  He kicked him again.

"Ray," Horatio said patiently.

"Fine.  Spoil my fun," he muttered, going out to play with the dogs and Xander.

Mac looked at Horatio.  "That rumor will never stop."

"Tell me about it," he complained.

Prestons stomped in.  "Do we realize it's my day off?  Who called for me personally?"

"I did," Horatio told him, pointing at the suspect.  "It was thought you'd be the last friendly face he ever saw since he decided to break into Xander's sword collection."

"Swords?" he asked, looking amused.  Horatio motioned him closer and down to the bunker, letting him inside.  He looked around then stared at him in horror.  "You let him do this?"

"With his past, this is fairly delicate for him," he noted dryly.  He looked at him. "You did how much research after you worked with him at the shelter?"

"Enough to know that your boy should've been taken a log time ago.  More than enough to know that your boy is probably dangerous to anyone who hurts your family."  He glanced at the rack of swords.  "That your boy's borderline weird."

Horatio smirked and opened the handgun index cabinet, getting a moan. "Like I said, the swords were a fairly delicate choice."

"Honey," Xander whined as he came down.  "Damn it, leave the artillery alone!  Before I get into trouble and some nosy ass Fed comes in here and I have to have him eaten."

"Again?" Prestons asked.

Xander looked at him. "Not since Sunnydale."

"What is with your former town?"

"Demons. Vampires.  Nasty, slimy things that made doing the laundry really interesting at times."

Prestons sighed.  "You've been down to Tentacles, boy?"

"I'm translating books into demon.  How do you think I get rocket launchers?"  He grinned. "I love the big explosions. That's why I'm with Horatio."

"More than I needed to know," he said, holding up a hand.  "Why call me?"

"Because Xander showed him why he didn't want the swords and the others are in awe," Horatio told him.

He looked at him. "Your friend?"

"Buffy?  Summers?"  He grinned. "That Buffy Summers?"

He moaned.  "Interesting.  Sure, I'll drop the assistant chief off.  Could be interesting."  He went to grab him and read him his rights, then handcuff him. "So, the gay boy did all this to you?" he sneered.

"No, I did some," Ray told him. "Xander stopped when he begged.  He was having a nice day since he only breathed on them and handcuffed Mac."

"He caught me napping on the couch before you ask," Mac offered. "Sapped me on the back of the head."

Prestons nodded.  "You need medical?"

"I had tylenol."

"He works on Xander's principle of no pain meds," Ray told him.  Prestons stared at him. "The day after you got him was the first time he's ever admitted he needed pain killers or medical attention."

"Too much combat will do that to you, kid." He drug their boss off, taking him to the station.  He dropped him in front of his boss.  "Caine called me since I'm not in awe of his husband, him, or this shitbag.  He was like this when I got him.  I read him his rights before I cuffed him."  He saluted then left.

"Who beat him?"

"Ask Caine."

"And he'll help you," someone quipped.

Prestons popped him on the head.  "No Kung Fu references, dipshit."  He went back home to contemplate going on a date with a girl like the slayer.  Could be...interesting.


Xander smoothed down his new rental tux's lapels. He walked into the room, nodding at his fellow helpers.  "Good evening."

"Hi," Willow said, coming over to fuss with his hair.  He ducked and frowned.  "Sorry!"  She sighed.  "How much longer before people get here?  Ryan's running late."

"He and Horatio are out on the same case."  He gave her a nudge. "Fix your sleeves."

"They're supposed to look like this."

Xander frowned and straightened them out then clipped two strings and released them.  He scrunched them back up and used a safety pin.  Then he moved to the other side.  Then he looked at her bust and whimpered. "Who are you wearing?"

"Some woman named Eva downtown?"

Xander groaned and sighed, leading her off.  "Going to pull something spectacular," he told Bess.  "Be right back."  He took her into the nearest bathroom and checked, then muttered something, summoning a dress from his closet.  "It was your Yule present.  I figured you'd need it. Tell me you've shaved?"

"Of course!"  She slipped into the stall and came out smoothing down the new dress.  He sent the other one back, then looked at her shoes, changing them to black.  She turned, letting him see.  "Better?"

"Much!" he sighed, pulling her hair down. "Fluff and do something with it."  He walked out, smoothing back out his tux.  "Fixed," he said simply as he walked past the mayor's wife.

"She's a darling designer."

He looked at her. "Willow's much too new to weather that sort of talk," he said quietly, looking pissed. "She's also much too nice for that."  He walked off, going to find Bess.  "I helped Willow.   It was her holiday present from me.  She's very delicate."

She looked. "It's not a perfect match for tonight but she does look much better in it. Willow, dear?"  She walked over, looking hesitant.  "Much better, dear.  Who were you wearing?"

"Her name is Eva, she's downtown.  She's supposed to be up and coming."

"Who suggested her?"

"Um, the mayor's wife?" she suggested hesitantly. "Plus the Chief's wife."

"Hmm, I'll have to have a talk with them.  Now, where are your spouses, children?"

"Case," they said in unison, getting a smile.

"Ah, that answer.  Do call them, dears.  They must be here. Are any other criminalists coming?"

"Dad's coming but he refused to shave," Xander offered. "Possibly Calleigh, depending on availability of a sitter.  Ray Jr. and Candace are coming. Eric may or may not be coming but who's on his arm can be a mystery and a shock at times."  Ryan walked in and Willow squealed, running over to hug him.  He looked over.  "Mine?" he called.

"Somewhere behind me.  People are starting to appear, Bess."

"Then we'll open the ropes and greet everyone with happy smiles, children.  Come along."  Xander smiled and followed her with the others.  She gave the two women in question a long stare, letting them know they'd be talking with her later.

Xander smiled at the first guest coming off.  "Well, and my very first event's very first guests," he said, shaking his hand and kissing her hand.  "Welcome, Peter and Gloria."

"Xander," she said, patting him on the cheek.  "Such a nice boy.  No husband?"

"He's coming in from a case.  He probably had to change."  They smiled and moved on to greet the others.  He smiled and greeted the next ones just as nicely.  When his own husband came in, he rated a real kiss, but he only got a wink and Horatio moved on to thank them for holding this for their lab.  Xander mentally kept a count.  They were more than the amount of tickets.  He looked at Bess, who nodded he was doing fine.  He smiled at the next set then walked them to Bess.  "How many tickets did we plan for?" he whispered  once they were alone.

"We're forty over, I always plan for an extra hundred, just in case, Xander.  Trust me."  Xander nodded, going back to his place, letting Willow move back to hers.  Bess came over to check the pier and the lists.  She sighed at Xander's look.  "How many more?"

"I've seen another car park."  Speed, Eric, and Calleigh walked in. "Late?" he teased.

"Babysitter was late," Speed offered, hugging him.  "Hey, kiddo."

"Hi, dad.  Did you see anyone else?"

"No, are we expecting more?" Calleigh asked.

"We've got more than we expected," Xander admitted dryly.  "But we haven't seen Ray Jr."

"I did," Bess assured him. She signaled the captain and he blew the horn, warning anyone on the dock that they'd be pulling away.  Two more people ran and jumped on and one person pouted.  They let her on and they all came down.  "My.  I've never met you four."

"They're crime lab staff," Eric said, smiling at her and introducing her.  They presented their tickets.

"It's great that you could come help us raise money for the labs, dears.  Go mingle."  They went and she smiled at them. "Your tickets?"  Xander handed over his.  She smiled and patted him on the cheek.  "Very good, dear."  She went to take tickets and talk to those who didn't have any.  A few had gotten on the wrong boat.  They were taken to the captain and he arranged to get them over there.  The few who had snuck in were chided and had to donate up front.  She let everyone mingle until she got a nod from the cook.  Then she rang her bell.   "Thank you all for coming.  It is a great honor to come out and support our top crime lab.  Tops in the country."  She smiled at Horatio, motioning him forward.  She tucked his hand under her am.  "Horatio Caine has served this community with so much zest and zeal that many of the regular cops are now afraid of him."  That got a few laughs.

"Not to mention the rumors that scare the bad guys," Eric called.

"Those as well," she agreed. "I believe that our crime lab is why criminals are scared into doing less than they used to.  We are here to not only honor them but also to raise money to rebuild their wonderful lab."

Horatio smiled at her.  "The ground breaking was just the other day and we're nearly at the goal to get us to where we were or higher," he said happily.

"That's an excellent bit of news."  She gave his hand a pat.  "Now, with that wonderful news, let us adjourn to dinner.  Celebrate the lab with us and feel free to ask the lab technicians and CSI among us about what they do."  She smiled up at him.  "Escort me?"  He nodded, walking in with her, Xander following Willow and Ryan. "You have?"

"We got a very generous donation from one of the matrons in New York," he said quietly.  "It'll pay for the building and a few of the labs."

"Excellent."  She patted his hand again.  "You're next to me and Xander is on your other side."  He nodded, holding her seat for her.  She smiled. "Very good manners, Horatio."

"I do try," he agreed.  He smiled at Xander.  "Sorry I was so late."

"It happens."  He saw everyone watching and looked at Bess "The seating index is behind the blue panel," he called.  "In case you don't remember what your tickets said."  He sat down and smiled at the woman on his left.  "Hello."

"Good evening, Xander.  And Horatio."  She smiled at him, shaking his hand behind Xander's back.  "I've seen some very gracious thank you notes from you."

"It's only right that we acknowledge the generous donations we have to fix this tragedy.  I'm happy that we got everyone out."  She smiled at that.  He nodded down at Ryan.  "Have you met Judge Wolfe?   We tragically lost him to the bench this last year."

"I hadn't."  She moved to talk to him, whispering in Willow's ears that her knees were gaping and there wasn't a tablecloth. Then she chatted with them before going back to her seat.  "So, Horatio, what *do* you do all day?"

"It depends on the day."  He shifted so the food could be put down.  "Thank you."  The waiter nodded and moved on. "On the worst days, I'm doing paperwork.   On the semi-bad days, I'm out on a case or in the labs trying to solve one.  On the best days, I'm bored."  She laughed.  "We can only hope that through a lot of hard work and long hours, which means we have very patient spouses, we reduce crime so we have a great many good days."

"I'm sure Xander's a very patient spouse."

"Sometimes, but if he's left alone too long he starts to get naughty thoughts and then I come home to find minor chaos."  He looked at his mate.  "Like I did yesterday."

"I thought it was cute the kids were trying to make their own headdresses after going out the Native American tribe's education center."

"As did I, but it was odd seeing Lancelot and Percy covered in feathers."  He looked at him and Xander looked sheepish.

"At least they hadn't glued them on.  They only let the dogs roll in them."  The ship's bell rang and he looked up.  Then he looked at Horatio.  "Are they still doing the frame on the new building?"

"They've just started it.  They'll do the full frame and then go from there.  Were you going to bring the kids down to watch?"

"The boys and Lizzy definitely.  Tia's not big enough to appreciate that and neither is Thomas."

"Who has the kids tonight?"

"I ceded to pressure and let Grandma Delko have them again."

"What did she do this time?"

He looked at him.  "What did she do last time?"

"Fine.  I still say it's a good school and Eric will do very good there, even though he's not Catholic."

"And I still say he's too young to start having that shoved down his throat by any of the family.  He's too young to understand."

"Mixed religion household?" she asked.  Xander nodded.  "Which of you is Catholic?"

"Him and some honorary uncles, an aunt, and grandparents."  He shifted.  "Have you heard anything about St. Luke's?"

"I hadn't, no.  Their high school.  I heard some things about scandal and chastity rules that the children were getting kicked out for.  Wasn't that Ray Jr.?"
Xander nodded.  "Yup.  Horatio wants to start our son Eric in their elementary school."

"It's a good school, Xander," Horatio said patiently.

"So is the art and science one and you guys didn't like that one."

"We felt Eric could use a little bit of structure."

Xander looked at him.  "No, Grandma Delko got mad because he wasn't saying Grace or prayers at bedtime.  The art and science school is a great school and it's a good school for him. He loved it there. I've talked to them.  He's allowed in as soon as the other school screws up.  Because they didn't like St. Luke's."

"Fine.  If something bad occurs, he'll go there," Horatio agreed.  "It was my second choice."

"Thank you."  He stroked his hand.  "They even had nap time for the kids."

"They did.  They're also very project oriented, which I'm sure our son would adore."

"Plus our future engineer in the family, Toddy."

"You're right, Toddy would go insane at the Art and Science school."  Bess looked at him.  "Ongoing discussion.  He doesn't like where we selected Eric to go."

"I've caught him muttering about drug zombie hordes of children in the past."  Horatio glared at Xander.

"They are.  Plus they don't have recess anymore."  He stared him down.  "Plus, they don't want Eric to be wearing a medic alert bracelet.  Fat chance on that.  Or that I'm handing over his complete medical records to some nurse."

"Agreed.  On both points.  As soon as he's old enough, I'm having a chip put into him like you have."  Xander relaxed at that, nodding.

"You are?" the matron asked.

"It leads back to an ID and my medical records," Xander told her.  "No matter where I end up if I'm kidnaped again, I'll be okay."

"I thought we did that to pets."

"It's a human application of the same technology.  They're fairly new but it's safer for me with how many people have come after me.  There were times when Ryan Wolfe down the table there felt like he was my personal CSI and bodyguard I'd bet."

Ryan looked down at him and nodded.  "Yup."  His wife cracked and giggled.  "It got so my word processing program had his name in the quick correct so it recognized it."  They and Bess giggled at that.  "Seriously.  The stories I could tell about the people who wanted Xander."

Horatio looked at him.  "I'd like to hear those as well, Mr. Wolfe."

"I know you would but he made me promise to only tell you the bad ones.  Oh, Xander, we stopped by the house.  Whose porsche?"  Xander moaned and hung his head, shaking it.

"Again?" Horatio asked.  Xander nodded.  "Who?"

"Guy out in LA."  He looked at him.  "Angel only dissuaded him long enough for him to make more evil plans.  Hold on, porsche?"  Horatio nodded.  "Green?"  He shook his head.  "Huh.  The one he sent me was in the garage."

"Perhaps we should go to LA and talk to this being again," Horatio suggested. "I talked with Angel when he came down."

"Let me guess, he called it a teenage hormone thing?"  Horatio nodded.  "I told you it was point of view."

"Speed was there and he had a few choice things to say to him as well," he noted.  "He said Buffy told him they were doing bad things since they had gotten you out of town and Willow was off visiting family."

"And of course he was trained to listen to his girlfriend. I guess I won't stake him for that then."  He sipped his water.  The ship shifted.  "I didn't think we'd have this much turbulence."

"We probably passed a shipping barge."  He took his hand to squeeze.  "I know boats make you nervous."  Xander nodded, but ate another bite of food.  He blinked and stared, then took another sip of water.  "I noticed that.  Bess?"  He leaned closer to her ear.  "I'm not so sure who cooked this time.  The sauce tastes like Xander did."

"We've all heard he's toxic in the kitchen, Horatio, but I had noticed that. It's a good thing Lisa isn't in here, she'd have stormed the kitchen."  Horatio smiled at that.  "How is your new residence?"

"Xander's made it quite a home for our family.  Any entertaining would have to be done in the yard but you could come over for tea.  Just call first in case he's having an active day with the boys.  He's been doing a lot with Ryan Wolfe's son as well," he offered at her curious look.  "Some days they're like our stepchildren."

Ryan looked at him.  "I noticed my kids hadn't been home since I dropped him off to play a week ago.  Neither has Lizzy."

"Xander," Horatio said patiently.

"Day after tomorrow.  Tomorrow we're going to the arts and crafts festival."

"How do you manage a five-year-old, a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and an infant?" the woman next to Xander asked.  "By yourself?"

"They listen to me.  They're used to listening to me.  I'm the favorite babysitter.  Besides, Tia's been with her grandma a lot recently.  So I've only had the boys and Lizzy, plus Thomas, my adopted father's son."  He smiled.  "He's so adorable and brooding already."

Ryan looked down at Speed, who was right in front of him.  "You let him have Thomas for how long?"

Speed looked at Calleigh.  "He's watching Thomas?"  She nodded.  "Did we not have him last night?  I don't remember smelling or hearing him, much less seeing him."

"Nope.  Xander, we'll pick up Thomas on the way home."

"Okay," he agreed, shrugging.  "We're still going to the arts and crafts festival tomorrow."

"I've got tomorrow off.  We can go."  She smiled at Willow.  "How long has it been since Xander took your kids to play with?"

"Ryan dropped them off a week ago.  Di's preparing for a show so he's had all the kids."  She nibbled and shifted her legs closer together again. She crossed them at the ankle and canted them off to the side.  The ship leaned a bit again and the bell rang.  She looked at Ryan, who shrugged.  She noticed a few people looked concerned.  "Bess?"  She looked at her.  "Should we worry?"

"No, dear.  Apparently the Coast Guard is doing a check."  Xander sighed.  "I'm sure it is."

He looked at her.  "Like it was at the Hellen banquet?"

"Point.  At least we do have some officers here."  Ryan nodded and finished up.  "But...."

"I'm still an officer. I still work in the lab as well," he reminded her gently.  He smiled at his wife, then at Bess.  "Would it be appropriate to escort her to the powder room?"

"It would," she agreed quietly.  "Thank you."

He nodded, going that way with her, taking her arm to make it look like they were whispering at each other.  In reality he was reminding her she was not fighting.  She snorted. "Bless you.  Want my jacket, dear?"

"No, I'm fine, honey."  She smiled sweetly.  They walked out and found a few people harassing the staff.  They ducked into the bathroom and she texted Xander.  She got one back.  "Hmm.  Xander came armed tonight."


"I don't know.  It's a good thing because I know you didn't."

"Actually, I did."  He gave her a look.  "I changed in chambers."  He looked at her.  "Ready?"  She tapped in a new message then nodded.  They walked out together.  One of the people with guns glared at them.  "She hates going in a strange place."

"Get back in to your dinner," he sneered, raising his gun.  Ryan moved his coat to show his badge.  "Oooh.  One of you.  Crime lab wimp?"

Willow snorted.  "No one in the crime lab isn't an officer and their spouses tend to be even tougher."  She grabbed his wrist and heaved, slamming him into a wall. "I'm never wearing heels this high again.  They suck and they hurt your ankles. I don't know how Buffy did it."  She went to tell the others while Ryan drug him into the bathroom and handcuffed him. She walked in and nodded then flashed Xander a hunting sign.

"Be right back, dear.  Apparently Ryan's got a bit of a headache."  He wiped his mouth and took another sip of water to clear the taste before going out there.  He smiled at the men getting up.  "Oh, do stay, gentlemen.  I'm going to help Willow find some aspirin for Ryan's head."  That got a nod and they settled in again with smiles.  He walked out and took out the two threatening Ryan.  He looked at her.   "We've got five or six others."

"On it.  Already told Eric and Horatio."  The members of the PD slowly and casually left, claiming calling the babysitter since they were using the same one.  Xander shoved one back into Speed, letting him get him.  He and Speed took point, just like during some hunts.  Willow got the ones that got past them.  Horatio and Calleigh took out a few who tried to run.  Calleigh went to the bridge while Horatio got them cuffed.  Xander finished his last one and stood on his throat, gun pointed down at him.  "Who hired you?"

"Mr. Burg.  I swear, that's his name.  He wanted Caine!"

"For?" Horatio asked.

"Not you!  Your nephew!  He wants to make him work for him!  You'd never hurt your own."

"And Mr. Burg is in what business?" Horatio asked calmly.

The guy tried to swallow. "Drugs," he squeaked.  Xander eased off on his throat so he tried to move.  He heard the gun cock and went back to limp and relaxed.  "You wouldn't let him shoot me, would you?"

"No.  Not yet.  We need more handcuffs."  Willow handed over some plastic tie strips.  "Were you carrying them?"

"Of course.  People try to rob these events now and then, Horatio.  That was the second rule of Sunnydale, be prepared in case you're attacked while you're out having fun."

"At least you listened to that one," Speed said, leaning on the railing and smirking at her.  "Cute dress.  Isn't that your Yule present?"

"It is.  He hated the one I picked out."

"Me too, sweetie," Ryan admitted.  "It looked half finished."  He finished binding that guy. "I doubt we've got a brig."

"No, but we can stuff them in a room and lock the doors," Willow offered.  "Xander, do we have extra rooms?"

"We do.  Or the Coast Guard could come visiting."

"They could," Horatio agreed, calling Calleigh.  "Are they on their way?  That's fine.  We'll drag them to a central location for them.   Where?  That's fine."  He hung up and looked around, pointing.  "That room.  Get the others."  They nodded, going to clean up their mess while he and Xander drug the ones out there with them.  Too bad they had tried to escape.  He nodded at the officers to stand guard.

"I've got it," Eric said dryly.  "Too many of my exes in that room."  That got a knowing look. "There are."

"Thank you," Willow said, kissing him on the cheek.  She looked down and straightened herself out, fluffing out her hair.

Xander dusted himself off and took Horatio's arm.  "Must we really traumatize our son by sending him to a bad school first?"

"Yes, Xander.  We must try that one because Marisol has her heart set on it and Di liked it as well."  He opened the door so Calleigh could go in with Speed, then Ryan and Willow, then them.  He smiled at those he knew.  "Nephew," he said, smiling at him.  "I missed you earlier."  He hugged him and whispered in his ear, getting a shrug.  "That's fine, we'll talk later."  He went back to his seat.  "They're incredibly sorry," he said quietly.  "The Coast Guard is coming to pick them up."

"Thank you, Horatio.  We're used to Xander doing things like that and coming back like nothing's happened."  She sipped her wine.  "Do try the dessert."  He smiled and dug in. It was good. They went back to idle chitchat.


Horatio looked at the car in the garage, then his mate.  "Well," he said finally.

"I can't find out where he bought it from."  He took his hand and led him inside.  He listened.  "Either they're all at the Delko's or everything in the house is asleep."  He whistled quietly and Eric came down the stairs.  "You're quiet tonight."

"Granmma sleep in race car room."  He hugged him and smiled. "You look pretty," he told Horatio.

"Thank you, Eric.  Who else is up?"

"Just me." He grinned.  "I'm coloring."

"That's a good boy."  He carried him up the stairs and put him back into his room, noticing both dogs were with him.  "Where are the greyhounds?"

"Outside on the lines.  They wanted to play in the water."

"That's fine.  Did you remember to let those two out after dinner?"

"Yup, and just an hour ago."  He smiled.  "I'm being good."

"You are.  You're being very good," he agreed, stroking his hair.  "Try to sleep sometime tonight.  We've got a long day tomorrow.  Remember, we've got the picnic after the festival."  Eric beamed and nodded.  "Did Buffy come in yet?"

"We pick her up in the morning.  Take her to Auntie Willow's."

"Okay."  He checked on Toddy, who was in Eric's bed instead of him.  "His parents will probably take him home tomorrow."

"He was wondering if his daddy realized he was here."

"He did.  He's been missing him.  You can tell him I said that.  Go to bed sometime soon."  He patted him again then went down to the bedroom, finding Xander doing some alcohol on his knuckles.  "Bruised?"

"Scraped on the hanger."  He shrugged and finished stripping down and putting the tux away.  He looked at his mate, coming over to undo his tie.  "You look wonderful."

"I do.  It's because of you."  He took a kiss.  "We should talk to this person."

"We should. I'm not sure who it is though.  Angel won't tell me."

"We can go to LA for a few days.  Fly back with Buffy if she goes."

"I could visit Joyce again and show off baby pictures," he agreed casually.  "But I don't want you and Angel to get into it again, Horatio."  He gave him an amused look. "I know you threatened him.  It's the way you are."

"I growled at him too," he admitted, undoing a button.  Xander swatted his hands and did it for him.  "I'd call tonight a success."

"It was," he agreed, smiling at him.   "She didn't like our ideas so we probably won't be asked to do more than help with PD related events."  He smoothed the shirt off his shoulders, tossing it into the chair.  He was running a hand over the chest in front of him when the phone rang.  He picked it up and handed it over since someone was shouting.

"What's wrong, Marisol?"  He held his head.  "Is Don all right?  No, Eric went home.  Do we have Tia?"  Xander nodded.  "Are you sure?"

"I put her down before I came.  Tell her her mom's here."

"Your mother's here, Marisol. Eric said she's asleep.  No, the baby."  He took a kiss and went to check on her and Tia. "They're both here," he assured her quietly.  "Do you need help?"  He smiled.  "That's fine. Make sure Don files a report, have him check in with us during the picnic tomorrow."  He nodded a few times as she ranted. "I don't know, Marisol.  Do an inventory, see what's missing.  Have him call it in as well. You'll need a formal report for the insurance company.  I don't know where your father is."  He saw his son peeking out.  "Where's Grandfather Delko?"

"Atlanta.  Some sort of home show this weekend."

"The son said he's in Atlanta, Marisol.  Calm down," he ordered.  "Yes, I'm sure.  I'll call Eric immediately.  All right."  He hung up and called Eric.  "It's me.  Your family's home got broken into. Your mother's here.  Marisol's panicking.  Don's got a headache from the hit to it.  Of course I will."  He hung up and went to wake up Mrs. Delko.  "Hi."  She blinked at him. "Marisol said someone broke in.  They need you at home.  Want driven?"

"No, I can drive," she promised, letting him help her up.  "Is everyone all right?"

"Don's got a headache from being hit. I've called Eric, he's on his way over."  She nodded, going down and out to her car to head home.   Horatio closed the gate behind her and went back to their room.  "Everyone's all right."  He kissed their son on the head.  "Everyone's fine."

"I came down to see how the dinner was."  He beamed.  "Was it good?"

"Everything except for the sauce.  It tasted like I cooked it." Their son giggled and hugged him then went back to his room. "Sleep, son. It'll be a long day tomorrow."

"Night, daddies."

"Night," Horatio called, closing the door.  "I think it tasted worse than you could've done."  He nuzzled him.  "Help me with the rest of it since everyone's all right?"  Xander nodded, undoing his belt and pants.  The phone rang again.  He sighed and answered it.  "Yes?"  He listened.  "Thomas is here?" he asked Xander, who nodded. "Yes, he's here, Speed.  You can pick him up in the morning....."  He groaned. "Fine.  Let yourself in.  I'm not dressed."  He hung up. "He's at the gate."

"I'd walk out there naked but it might make him blush again."  He finished getting his clothes off him and started to place kisses down the firm chest, making his mate smile and   hum in pleasure.

"I'm taking ours home," Ryan called from outside the door. "And yours.  Come get them for the fair.  That way he can spank you for helping."

"Yup, sure he will.  The same time you do Willow," Xander shot back.

"No, I already got her on the way over.  Be safe, guys."  He left, going to finish getting the kids and letting the dogs go out onto the lines.  There was a way for them to slip off it if something happened and if not, they could play all night.  He closed the back door and headed for the front, keying the alarm back on before he left.  The door shut within the thirty seconds and he drove them off.  The gate was relocked and they went home.  He was going to enjoy having his kids home, plus Eric and Tia.  He called Don's phone.  "Hey, Marisol.  I've got Tia with me.  We went to repossess our kids and decided to take them with us since Eric was pouting.  Oh, yeah, she and Lizzy will be fine together tonight.  You okay?  Need us?"  He smiled.  "That's fine.  You have a better night and baby Don.  He could probably use it.  I know, go all Xander on him.  He'll fuss but suck it up."  He laughed and hung up.  "She doesn't think she can fuss as well as Xander does."

"I'm not sure anyone can fuss as well as Xander does.  Then again, I taught Xander how to fuss so he's clearly surpassed the master."

He smiled at her.  "You're not going to jump in again, right?"

"No," she sighed.  "I learned my lesson."

"Thank you.  You're too precious for me to lose you."  He kissed the back of her hand and gave it a squeeze.  "I'll kiss the hand marks later."

"You ever spank me again and I'm going to live with Xander."

"You try to leave me for Xander and you're going to see just how scary I can be," he retorted as he pulled into their parking lot, turning to look at her.  She slumped and sighed, nodding.  He took a kiss.  "Besides, Xander would play mediator and give you back to me.  If you were really serious, you'd go to bigger Eric and have him guard you."

"Yeah, well, that's for severe things, not for spanking games."  She got out and got the kids with Eric's help.  Ryan grinned across the roof at her and got Tia to carry inside.

"Need bigger bed," Toddy complained.  He pouted.

"You can both fit into your bed. You know you let Eric cuddle," he reminded him.  He got both boys tucked in and kissed on the head. "Try to sleep, Eric. Okay?"  He got a nod and a yawn.  "Good boy."  He went to help put the girls down.  They liked to cuddle together too.  Then he took his own cuddlesome one to bed so he could undress her and make her a happy girl.


Xander smiled as Buffy joined him, waving Tia's hand at her.  "Say hi, Auntie Buffy," he cooed in her ear.  Tia squealed and bounced.

"Someone's a happy baby to be outside in the sunshine," she teased, tickling her chin.  Tia grabbed her finger to suck.  "She's good."

"She is.  Eric, Toddy?"

"Looking at the scary guys," Eric called back, getting some laughs from the bikers they were staring at.

Xander walked them over.  "Sorry, they're curious little boys."

"That's all right.  They're smart too.  That one wanted to go for a ride," he said with a nod at Toddy.

"His mother would freak," he shared.  "But his daddy might take him someday soon."  He tapped Toddy on the head, getting a smile.  "Go find your dad and tell him."  He ran off with a squeal to find Ryan and talk him into it, Eric waving before following him.  Xander grinned at the bikers.  "Thank you for humoring them."  He waved Tia's hand and walked her off with Buffy to find the rest of the family.  He found Toddy babbling and Willow already shaking her head.  "He can ride.  It's part of the academy training."

"I don't care!  They're dangerous!"

"I'd go around the parking lot," Ryan assured her. "If you're really good, we'll see."  Toddy beamed and nodded, hugging him and bouncing off with Eric.  "With us, son."  They came back.  He waved at Buffy.  "Sit if you want."

"Sure.  Better than a plane any day."  She sat down next to Willow, getting a hug. "Thank you.  He's being Daddy Xander again."

"He so is.  He had our kids for a week," she complained. "It was nice, Lizzy didn't wake us up for a week, but I never see my kids."

"Not like you couldn't go take them back," Ryan reminded her dryly.  "The same as I could've."  He took Tia.  "Come to Uncle Ryan," he said, making her smile.  "And how are you today, beautiful one?"  She cooed and patted him.  "That's a good thing.  Now, where is your uncle, Stupid, and your mommy and stepdaddy?"

"What did Eric do this time?" Xander sighed, grabbing the boys and putting them on either side of him.  "And who has Lizzy?"

"Horatio.  He went to find Stupid," Willow complained.  "Called up at three this morning to see if a case from a year ago had been finished."

"Nightmares can be like that," Ryan reminded her.  "I've had a few of those.  No, the reason I'm calling him stupid was that he nearly ran into his mother's car last night."  Xander moaned.  "We heard about the break-in at three, but still.  He know's his mom's car."  Horatio came back with Eric, Speed, Calleigh, and Thomas, plus Valera, their DNA tech.  "Hi."  He switched daughters with Horatio. "No Marisol and Don?"

"For the baseball game.  Don's helping fix the door," Eric offered, sitting down and taking his niece.  "Hi, Tia.  Uncle Eric hasn't gotten to see you recently because the daddy stole you again."  She giggled and hugged him.  "You're such a good girl."

"And she'll never call at three in the morning and wake herself and Lizzy up," Willow noted.


"I've had those nightmares too.  We thought it was cute you nearly ran over your mother though," Ryan offered with a grin.

"I was tired!"  Xander grinned at that.  "No, not for *that* reason.  You guys have dirty minds today.  I should take the kids with me."

"Nope." Toddy said, smiling and shaking his head.  "Daddy take me on chopper if I'm good boy."

"I can't see Ryan flying a helicopter."

"Other sort," Xander said.  "He saw the bikers and fell in love."

Eric leaned closer.  "Ask your Uncle Speed.  He rides one."  Speed nodded at Toddy's worshiping look.

"Those things are death traps," Willow said firmly.  Ryan kissed her and she went gooey minded, smiling at him.  "He'll have safety gear?"

"Yup, and only around the parking lot," he promised. He and Speed shared a look.  "If you don't mind, or I can go borrow one."

"I don't mind.  Gotta get the son used to them too."  He smirked at Horatio, who was shaking his head. "Not your husband, the other son.  I know if I put Xander on one you'll end up having sex on it."  Horatio nodded at that and Xander groaned, putting his face down.  He grinned as he patted him on the back of the head.  "Hey, Buffy, how's school?"

"It's okay.  It's school and so therefore has major issues of suckage, but it's okay."  She shrugged.  "I guess.  What's going on today?"

"We are holding a fundraiser to help rebuild the lab and two stations that got destroyed in the last hurricane, plus there's a softball game after this of us against Fire/Rescue.   Oh, and Xander found a semi-questionable hotty to introduce you to."


"He's snarly and doesn't like Xander but he's a good officer and we think he's just your type."

Xander got up.  "'Scuse us."  He walked her off.  "Prestons is one of those guys who grew up a bit wrong.  Ignore the tattoo, he's not really racist, but he doesn't like gay guys.  That's why he hates me.  I'm with Horatio.  He respects me now because he's seen me kicking ass.  Personally I think you'd do him really well and I think he'd make you scream and squeal in various keys."  She blushed at that.  He grinned and nudged her. "Think of better versions of what I heard Riley was like, only as an officer.  Plus, you can ask him all the questions you want about joining a PD."

"I'm still thinking."

"So ask.  He's a street-level guy.  He's been on patrol for a number of years."

"Oh.  Okay.  Is he nice underneath?"

"I take him more as 'my woman is my woman' sort and highly protective but I'm sure he can be to what's his."

She nodded.  "Maybe.  We'll chat and see."  She looked at the cops they were walking around, finding a few very hot looking ones. "Why is it Miami got all the hotty cops?" she asked finally.

"The bikini culture.  There's Yelina, Ray Jr.'s momma.  Yelina!"  She came over and smiled, kissing him on the cheek. "The rest of the family is back that way.  You remember Buffy, right?"

"I do."

Buffy smiled and shook her hand, then looked at her stomach then at her.  "Let me guess, Xander's daddy influence is spreading like a disease?"

"There are days we think that," she agreed, kissing her on the cheek. "Don't worry, it's really not contagious.  They make drugs for that."

"Good.  I can't see myself as Mommy Buffy.  Really, really can't."

"That's a choice we must all make.  Where are you going?"

"Prestons.  I said I'd introduce her."  Yelina gave him a look.  "You, go sit down."

"I'm fine, Xander."  She walked him off.  "What did my ex find?"

"A kid that my father had before he died.  So I have a baby half-brother and the mother wants nothing to do with us.  She sent a certified letter that she wanted nothing to do with us.  She hates gay people, we're evil and going to taint her son.  She even filed a restraining order against me coming anywhere near her son. I told the judge I was perfectly fine in leaving him alone if that's what he decided when he was older.  The judge suggested she might be looking for money then.  I told him to bring it on if he did.  He agreed, we didn't need the restraining order."  He shrugged and walked them to a group of officers.  "Damn, do you guys all do steroids together?" he joked.  "It's like someone cloned the muscles and I never got my set."  They all stared at him.  He smirked.  "Hi, guys.  Are you guys sheltering Prestons?"

"We are.  He's over by his car," one admitted, nodding at Yelina.  Then at Buffy.  "Are you one of us?"

"I'm considering it and he wants me to meet this guy."  Buffy shrugged.  "Xander has good taste in men."  They all laughed at that.  She saw the big, bald guy walking her way.  "Wow.  Way more muscles that got cloned than everyone else."

"No, honey, I work for mine," he assured her.  "You, sit," he ordered Yelina since she was stroking her stomach.  "None of us want you to deliver that heathen brat here."  She snorted and glared.  "Seriously.  We'd have to see Harris fuss and turn into a twittering virgin."

"No, I haven't done that since Willow delivered the first time in front of me," Xander admitted.  He gave Buffy a nudge forward.  "Prestons, this is Buffy.  I told you about her.  She's still thinking about joining a PD.  She needs honest answers, not the fun stories."

"Sure, kid.  Now, take your husband's pet detective there and go make her sit down."

"I am.  We're back by the stage since we've got to present the hummers to Fire/Rescue."  He led Yelina off.  "Is he okay?"

"He's fine," she said patiently.  "Just kicking again."  He rubbed her stomach and it stopped. "How do you do that?"

"I'm thinking Horatio thoughts and trying to think like him.  He calms him down too."  He walked her back to their table.  "Prestons tried to get her to sit down."

"I'm not surprised.  He's been kicking all night," Ray Jr. offered from his spot on the grass.  "Buffy?"

"I introduced her to Prestons.  She was quite impressed with the muscles."  They all moaned at that and he smiled.  "I think they'll be fine together.  Chill.  Seriously."  He cuddled Yelina since his son had abandoned him for Ryan.  She shoved him away with a frown.  "Getting mine in early so the baby knows me."

"My son needs a new dose of sanity, Horatio.  Isn't that your job?" Speed asked.

"I tried," he complained.  He looked over as Prestons walked back with Buffy.  "Already?"

"Who made the steroid joke?"  Xander raised a hand. "Only half them. The rest of us work for ours."

"You've got enough naturally occurring steroids for half the guys on the PD," Xander agreed dryly.  Prestons smirked at that.  "You probably know everyone here, right?"

"Yup, including those little creatures."  He backed away from Tia.  "Cute is deadly."

"Isn't it though?  I find I was more deadly when I was cuter," Buffy sighed.  "I miss my cute and deadly days."

Prestons looked at her, then smirked.  "Okay, so maybe you are cool enough."  He walked her off again.

Ryan waited until he was farther away. "No chest pounding.  I'm impressed."  Willow smacked him on the arm.  "Ow, wench!"

"You pull plenty of cavemen acts, Ryan. You've carried me off how many times?"

"Yeah, but mine was usually for sex."

"Who says that wasn't?" Yelina offered dryly. "Does he ride a bike?"

"Nope," Horatio said.  "Drives a modest sports car."

"They're uncomfortable to have sex in," Xander sighed, shaking his head.  Speed popped him on the back of the head.  "Ow!  What?"

"Mind out of the gutter.  There's civilians around."

"Sorry, dad.  I'll quit having smutty thoughts."

"Just for that, we're keeping the kids for the rest of the weekend so Horatio can impart some sanity," Ryan assured him with a smirk.  He leaned back.  "Hey, Todd!" he yelled, waving.  He came jogging over with a biker following him.  "Hey, man.  Glad you guys could make it."

"He said his daddy was Ryan.  I never dreamed you had spawned."

"Yup, this is my son, he who takes apart all electronic devices.  He got the alarm clock this morning," he joked, earning a laugh and a clap on the back.  "Since you didn't know I had cloned myself, this is my wife Willow, and our daughter Lizzy is trying to find the mother lode again."  She blushed and found a bottle for her.  "Sorry."  He grinned at his buddy.  "Come on, Toddy, let's go look at the pretty Harleys."   His son squealed and drug him off with them.  "How've you been, man?  It's been ages since I saw you guys."

"We're okay.  How about you, Your Honor?" he taunted.

"Doing okay.  One day a week back in the lab so I don't get rusty but good."  That got a smirk.  "Willow's all the excitement I need."  He shook hands with the other bikers while his son petted a few of them.  "That's my boy," he said proudly.  They laughed and congratulated him.  "His momma's a bit paranoid but she's relented to a parking lot ride later tonight from Uncle Speedle."

"We've seen his fancy little racing bike," one admitted.

"They don't call him Speed for nothin'," Ryan joked.  Toddy tugged on his hand. "What?"

"Can I have one?"

"We'll see when you're older.  You can't drive one of those until your Ray Jr.'s age.  There's little ones for kids your age," he offered at the hurt and pouting look.  "It's the law, son, and we follow the law."

"Yes, daddy.  I get a kiddie bike?"

"Sure.  We'll go pick you one up today and set it Uncle Xander's.  We'll even make sure Eric can't ride it on you."  He beamed and went back to petting one of the bikes.

"You know Harris?" one of them asked.

"My wife's his best friend.  His husband is my boss," he added as an afterthought.  "Then again, I had to guard him while he stripped a few times too."  They laughed at that.  "Yeah, but someone had to.  Darkness was dangerous!"

They all nodded at that, knowing that one very well by their looks.


Buffy squealed as her man finished pitching and came down to congratulate him.  "You're so good."

"I know," he agreed, earning a swat to his chest.  He smirked.  "Come on, Buffy.  Or else they'll think I'm taking you home and tying you down."

"Not really into ropes since I can't break them anymore," she admitted.  He looked at her.  "Kinda lost the powers about a year ago," she admitted quietly.

He considered it then nodded. "Let me guess, you're still hunting?"  She nodded.  "Dumbass."

"It's nec...."  He picked her up to look in her eyes.  "You're really strong," she said weakly, blinking at him.

"Now I know why you got given to me.  It takes a strong man to put up with one of you.  I don't know how Wolfe does it."  He put her back down.  "Come on."  He walked her off again, nodding at Harris.  "I'll drop her off in the morning."

"As long as that's what she wants," Willow said, glaring at him.  "Because I'm the scary one, not Xander."

He looked at her. "That's because your husband doesn't have a firm enough leash on you, woman.  Otherwise he wouldn't let you and Xander out alone together."

"Usually they're okay at it," Horatio offered dryly.  "As long as that's what she wants," he repeated.  Buffy shrugged.  "You have our number?"

"Of course.  On speed dial even."  She waved.  "Don't worry, I can still kick his ass."  He snorted.  She started with a foot sweep and he attacked back.  She laughed and giggled, going against him.  It was good!  He was good!  He got her pinned against a tree and she hesitated in kneeing him.  "Well, are you going to kiss me or not, you big dumbass?"  He smirked and kissed her.  It was just as good as the sparring was. "I think you can hold up just fine."  She walked off, twitching her hips. He followed, picking her up to carry her off, making her laugh.

"Definitely heard a chest thump in there," Speed agreed.  Ryan nodded at that.  Speed looked at Willow.  Xander could lie to him, she couldn't lie at all.  "You two did what?"

"Grocery shopping."

"Uh-huh.  And?" he demanded.  She blushed.

"Willow," Horatio warned.

"No demons.  We went to see Toby to see if he knew anything about Xander's new stalker buddy.  It's the same vampire as before and Angel thinks it's funny.  Spike thinks it's hilarious.  Oh, and he's in town."

"Spike's in town?" Ryan said flatly. "Why?"

"He came to snack or to check on Mary Eileen.  I think Giles paid his airfare to get him out of his hair," Xander admitted.  "She's got feisty redhead syndrome again, honey.   Sorry."

"It's part of her job," he said patiently.  "Was she coming today?"

"Nope.  Ethan took her hunting in a teen club last night.  We have *got* to go teach the girl some moves.  She dances like Ethan from what Toby told us."

"You do that and she might get stalkers," Eric teased.

"Give me back my daughter before you tell her horrible things about me."

"Nope.  Momma said she's coming home tonight."

"Your momma's got some funny ideas," Xander shot back.

"Well, yeah.  I think she's going through the change or something.  She's been strange recently."  He shrugged. "Her momma wants her home tonight.  Besides, we all agreed, you and Horatio deserve the weekend alone.  Especially since he hasn't taken you shopping yet to replace all the clothes you lost."  He looked at Horatio.  "You're going to make him pouty again."

"I won't.  He saved my favorite outfits."  He looked at his husband. He hadn't spoiled him recently...

"You have to at least get him underwear, Horatio. The boy hasn't worn any in a week," Calleigh complained.  "He'll set a bad example for Thomas."  Xander gave her a dirty look.  "You will.  My son cannot go commando until he's old enough to enjoy the benefits of it."

Speed looked at her, testing her forehead.  "You're a bit warm.  Maybe you've had too much sun?"  She hit him on the arm.  "Fine.  We doing anything tomorrow?"

"I thought we were having a cookout tomorrow," Horatio offered.  Everyone nodded.  "Xander, go check in so we can go grocery shopping."  He nodded, heading that way.  "They did a good job."

"We did," Willow agreed happily.  A lot of the community had come out for the food and drinks.  Most had even donated something or put letters of support into the jars.  The three dollar admission price had been just right.  They got about a dollar off each person plus donations.  She went to check in with the mayor and the chief as well, seeing Xander looking unhappy.  "What's wrong?  We have to stay to help with the cleanup?"

"No.  It's been a success.  Everyone liked them taunting fire/rescue about having enough hummers so they could share."  The Mayor looked at Xander.  "However, the mock battle?"

"That was Buffy.  She's kinda like that.  Usually she dates dangerous guys with brooding problems," Willow told him.  "We thought Prestons would be a step up for her.  Seems we were right."

"Fine," he complained.

"I'm sure she wasn't the only one having foreplay in this park today," Xander said dryly.  "Did we make the lab?"

"We did," he admitted.  "Thank you, both of you.  I'm sure my wife would say the same if she could've come out today."

"Tell her I hope she feels better," Willow offered, genuinely looking concerned.  "Tell her I'll see her at the judicial luncheon next week."  She took Xander's arm and grinned at him. "You're not going to be there, right?"

"No reason for me to.  My next one is the library, which is later that day."  She groaned.  "You'll all be there, Willow.  Check with Emily if you're unsure."  She nodded, moving off to do that while he pouted at everyone.  "Are we sure I can't have the kids?"

"We could use a few days off," Horatio noted calmly. "How did we do?"

"We can afford the lab."  That got some smiles and some back claps for him and Willow both.  Horatio stood up and gave him a gentle kiss, earning a brilliant smile.  "Grocery shopping?"

"Grocery shopping," he agreed.  "We'll see you tomorrow."  He walked Xander off, taking him back to his hummer.  He found a note on the windshield.  "Aww, they think we're not working."  He looked around, finding his nighttime counterpart.  "We switch off, but we are working with the other labs.  Isn't your team?"

"We are now and then.  Still, it's a company vehicle."  Xander shook his head.  "Yes it is."

Xander shook his head again.  "No, this one was specifically given for Horatio's use. It's in his name.  He had to sign millions of forms to get the stickers."

She huffed off, going to talk to their boss, who sighed but agreed with him.

Xander looked at his mate once they were inside.  "What groceries did we need?"

"Soda.  Lube."  Xander blushed a bit at that.  "Did you pick up more?"

"Nope.  I didn't think you wanted to go to the porn store with me to pick some up."

"I've been into them before, both for work reasons and not," he reminded him. He drove out that way first. It was a pretty day for a drive.  "Then we'll go look at some new clothes for you."  Xander gave him a look.  "You do need some underwear.  That way more people don't want what I have."  Xander blushed at that.  "They would."

"You're just saying that so I'll give you sex later," he teased.

"No, I know I'll get sex later.  I'm saying it because it's true."  He pulled onto the highway, finding the cruiser behind him.  He slowed down and it went past.   He chuckled.

"Maybe we should go get my car so the crime scene hummers aren't spotted at the porn shop?"

"We'll park out back, Xander.  We're going to the one I like, not the one Speed took you to."  He gave him a shocked look.  "You used your credit card.  Of course I knew which one you went to."  He smirked at him. "I was trying to figure out what you got me for our anniversary."

"Were you surprised?"

"Very."  His hands tightened on the steering wheel as he remembered that day.  Xander coughed and he paid more attention the road, slowing down some.  "Sorry."

"That's okay.  I kept everyone up while you were in DC."

"No one told me that."

"I'm shocked.  Calleigh swore up and down she was going to complain to you.  She said you should've found one of those vibrator built onto the panties sets and locked it on me."

"That's an idea," Horatio admitted.  He took the exit for their store, heading out further into the everglades.  He pulled off the main road and went out there, parking behind the shop.   Xander came willingly into his lap.  "Did you play with the toys or just stroke yourself?"

"Both a few times," he admitted.  "The rest I just dreamed really loudly."  Horatio smiled and kissed him.  "Love you too."

"You know I love you."  He nuzzled him.  "Now, we're going to go inside and I'm going to buy some new lube, and maybe, if you're a good boy, I'll get something new for tonight."  Xander shivered and nodded. "Good boy."  He let them out, letting Xander slide off his lap first then Horatio got out.  He closed the door and turned on the alarm before heading in through the back door. The owner gave him a knowing look. "My spouse."

"Brought the company car again?"

"Of course.  It's my hummer."  He walked Xander to the lubes, looking at them. "No stimulant ones," he ordered quietly.  Xander nodded and picked up what he usually got at his place.  Horatio picked out a different brand and they compared them.  Horatio's was a bit slicker from the test model.  Plus it had that retightening agent.  They both liked that.  They picked up a few bottles and Horatio paused at the toys but Xander shook his head and pulled him away.  He got an odd look and Xander pointed at something.  Horatio moaned and nodded, getting a new bardex plug for their bag.  His boy was going to let him play tonight it seemed.  He looked at the restraints.  Nothing unusual there.  Nothing that he wanted to see his mate in. He found a long feather but Xander gave him an odd look.  "For you."

"No tickling unless you want it back."  He picked up something and handed it over.  Corn silk powder.  He grinned.  "I could use a massage."

"You could," he agreed, giving him a sideways look.  Xander just beamed and hugged him then went to look at the oils.  He needed to spoil Xander much more often if a massage got that sort of response.  From the looks he was getting, the others thought so too.  He put back the three fruit smelling ones, sniffing the other two.  He decided on some unscented ones.  "That way nothing gets in the way of your scent," he said quietly.  Xander shivered and nodded, kissing him gently.  "You can get one new fantasy item."  Xander looked around then shook his head.  "Are you sure?"

"I only use them when you're not home."

"Point."  He looked around the store, leading him over to something.  He ran a hand down the silk shirt.  Then he looked at him.  "You would look good in that."

"It's for girls."

"It's not."  He handed it over. "Men have nipples that need to be played with as well."  Xander looked at the cutouts then at him.  "Try it."  Xander nodded and added it to his basket.  Horatio got them checked out then back into the hummer.  "I'm assuming our suit shop is open?"


"Good."  He drove them that way and parked, getting out and walking around to take Xander's hand and walk him inside.  He gave him a nudge forward.  "He never said it wasn't just mine that got ruined by the backing up drain."

The salesman frowned at him. "You spoiled him and not yourself?"

"Of course.  It's not spoiling myself to buy clothes."

He gave Xander a look, then smiled at the indulgent mate.  "What would you like to see him in this time, Horatio?"

"Make him look like the young noble he can be," Horatio ordered.  That got a smile and they led Xander off to look at the suits.  "He needs a new tux as well.  We may have to go to where we got mine if you're not going to have one in stock."

He looked around.  "We really don't.  I wish we did sometimes.  We get a lot of referral business from Xander's new associates."  He pulled down one and Horatio looked.  "It is a classic look."

"Make him look hot enough that the people who wanted Darkness want him more," Horatio ordered. That got a smile and they went to work on Xander's wardrobe.  His measurements were taken.  "He was recently injured.  He's lost some tone."

"That's fine.  We'll make them a little loose so he has the room to regain it with his training."  He and the seamstress got to work marking the suits and fitting them to him.  A few were more quirky choices that Xander liked.  They looked plush.  A few were the cooler cotton ones.  One was silk. Horatio handed over another three silk ones and got a nod.

"I didn't have this many before."

"So?"   He got a blush and Xander nodded, acquiescing easily enough.  "That's why it's called spoiling," he said in his ear.  When they were done, he took Xander to a nicer place to get jeans.  "Di can tailor them to you," he promised.  Xander nodded and let him load up on what he thought he needed.  Xander got to add a few shirts but nothing else.  Then he took him to a fetish shop.  Xander's eyes went wide as he walked him inside.  He looked at the collared girl waiting on them.  "He needs leather pants.  Silk shirts.  Goth him up for clubbing and my lust."  He handed his boy over.  "I have full approval."

"Yes, master."  She led him off and got Xander into the pants.  He pointed at a few styles and she sighed, shaking her head.  "He wants you to be hot for him. Not just minorly warm."  She walked back there, hands behind her back.  "Would you prefer zippers, buttons, or ties?  Do you want him to have an ass-less pair, master?"

"Buttons or ties if they look good enough on him."  He considered his mate.  That would be incredibly naughty.  "Yes, one pair."  She nodded.  "Make them some other color than black and make the leathers black and other colors."

"How many pairs?"

"Until he complains then three more."  She nodded, going back there.  She forced him into the changing room and started to hand back clothes.  "Make sure he's wearing underwear."

"I am," Xander complained.  "Um, this one had moths."

"They're supposed be like that.  I'll be seeing you in those tonight."

"Yes, dear.  They're not very tight in the legs."

"Less chance I have to cut them off you," Horatio noted.  "The others can be fit by Diana, Xander."

"Yes, dear."  He peeked out.  "You know, Greg helped me pick up a few things."

"I saw the bright shirts.  Try on the clothes or else I'm finding you a collar."  Xander ducked back inside.  "Thank you."  He went to look at the jewelry, finding a few pieces he wouldn't mind on his husband.  Xander came out in one set and he looked at him. "Much too loose."

"The others are all looser."  He looked at the salesgirl. "I used to strip."  She giggled.  "I need stripper's leathers."  She nodded, going to get him what he needed from the special collection, taking the others back.  Xander looked at the jewelry.  "I thought you liked the sapphires you put in mine."

Horatio kissed him. "This is for the new one.   Your choice: earring, your other nipple, or your belly button."  Xander shivered.  "Choose while we finish shopping."  Xander nodded and the salesgirl drug him back into the room, giving him a shove.  He smirked at her.  "You're very forceful."

"My master said I was to be that way with people who needed it. I can only pinch, not spank."

He smiled and motioned her closer.  "This one or this one?"  She pointed at the onyx one.  "Are you sure?"

"Yes, sir."  She went back to help Xander when he opened the door, looking at him.  "You're right, you did need tighter."  She looked at Horatio.  "How big is his budget, sir?"


She nodded, going to break into the special cases.  She brought back a few more pairs, making him whine. "Tough.  Your master said so."

"Technically he's my husband."

She snorted. "Yeah, sure.  If I had a master like that I'd kiss his cock before and after every order."  She got him redressed then presented him for his master's pleasure, earning a happy smirk.  "We've got this in blood red, navy blue, and peach for some reason."

"All those and the others he looks good in."  Xander stared.  "Hush, Xander.   You needed to be spoiled.  I am."  He stroked his cheek.  "Get pretty for me."  Xander swallowed and nodded.  "I know you're my husband, not my submissive."  Xander nodded and went back to play with that assurance.  Horatio looked at the toys, then at the salesgirl, who was waiting for his next order.  "We go riding."

"We have a wonderful line of crops, Master."

"He's not up to that yet.  We're still mastering the basic seats."  He followed her to the 'cowboy clothes' section, smirking at some of them.  "Diana's wear.  She's the mother of his son."  She beamed at him.  "I take it you've seen Eric?"

"Yes, sir, and he thought that would look wonderful on your husband," she said, pointing at a leather catsuit.

Horatio tried to imagine it and shook his head.  "Not this time."  That got a nod and she went to bundle up his things, hearing the whining again when he tried to sort some things out.  She drug him back out and presented him.  "My orders were to give you whatever you looked good in."

"It's too much, Horatio."

"It's not."

"Some of those pants were over two grand."

He stroked his lip with his thumb.  "We have the money.  I'm spoiling you.  All the clothes Di made for you were worth over that amount."  He gaped and Horatio kissed him, earning a smile.  "Now, did you want a toy from in here?"

"I've got enough whips."

"Good boy," he whispered.  He handed over the card, watching as it was run and declined.  He sighed and handed over the special account one.  "I hate that daily draw limit of yours."

"It keeps me from blowing wads on you."

"I noticed.  Wallet."  Xander sighed and handed it over.  He mentally counted and smiled.  "So that's why you keep the safety deposit box."  Xander nodded.  "It's too late to get into there, isn't it?"

"I don't need anything else."

"Yes, you do."  He took the bags and signed the slip.  "Thank you."

"The card is in the bag with the jewelry, sir.  You have a nice day and many happy nights with your husband."

"Oh, I do intend to."  He walked Xander out, putting the bags into the back of the hummer.  Then he drove him on.

"We should be in my car."

"I don't care.  This one is in my name and it's mostly unmarked."  Xander groaned.  "Quit."  Xander nodded, relaxing.  He pulled into the bank's parking lot.  "Keys?"

"Your top desk drawer in the little leather key holder."  He looked at him.  "Honest."  He emptied his pockets and Horatio held up a key.  "That's to the garage."

"Really?"  Xander nodded. "Which garage?  Ours take the house key."

"Willow's workshop garage."

"I see."  He handed them back.  "Let's see, we still need practical things.  Socks and underwear."  He started the engine and backed out, taking him to the place he got his.  He walked Xander inside with a firm hand on his back.  The saleswoman smiled at him. "Good afternoon," he said quietly as they walked past her.

"Let me know if you need anything."

"Of course."  He led them to Xander's size and handed him what he wanted to see him in, getting some blushes. "You buy me some."

"Yeah," he admitted sheepishly.  "I never expected you to."

Horatio looked at him. "From now on you will be wearing what I buy you from head to toe, Xander.  The old clothes are fine but I want you in what I pick out for you. The same as all my clothes have been picked out by you."  Xander nodded, accepting that.  "Thank you."  He handed over a few last pairs then went to the thongs.  He found a few more and handed them over.  "There."

"I wear them more than I do boxers."

"I know.  You have six pairs at home."  He turned him around and got him socks, ones he liked and sports socks.  Then he let the girl check them out.  He took the bag and walked Xander out to the hummer, finding his nighttime counterpart leaning on it.  "What?"

"This isn't exactly regulation duty."

"Almost all my stuff was destroyed by some backed up drainage," Xander defended.  "He got tired of me wearing the same four outfits."  She snorted.  "He did."

"Then explain the fetish gear," she said snidely.

"You obviously haven't seen the underground at the station," Xander countered.  "Horatio likes me in leather, dear.  The same as he appreciates my dedication to my training because it makes me hotter for him and better in the pool."  She got off the side of the hummer.  "Anything else?"  She stomped off.  He glared after her.  "We so need to get her laid," he muttered.

Horatio shuddered. "It's a scary thought that anyone would."  He put those bags into the back as well then drove him to their usual piercer.  "Have you decided?"  Xander swallowed and shook his head.  "Wherever you want, Xander."

"Um..."  They parked and he looked at him.  He squeaked.

"Would you like me to decide?"  Xander nodded quickly at that.  "I could see this as a navel ring."  He found that bag, putting the card back into his wallet.  He held up the small ring.  Then he looked at him.  "Up to you, Xander."

Xander kissed him.  "You're spoiling me," he reminded him.

"I am.  The last time I gave you a marking it was to remind you that I was there to be leaned on."  Xander shivered and rubbed the tattoo on his thigh.  "Yes, that one."  He got out and walked around to let Xander out, taking him inside.  Their usual piercer smiled at him. "This goes into his navel."  He handed it over.  He looked around the walls, then pointed at a small black cat.  "That in blue behind yours?" he asked.  Xander shivered and went tense against his side.  "Up to you."

"It might obscure the art," the piercer offered.  "Where is it?"

"His upper thigh."  He walked Xander back after him, letting him see it.

"It'd obscure the handcuffs unless you wanted to color them. That's pretty, where did you get it done?"

"Manhattan," Horatio told him.  He looked at Xander, who blushed.  "We can leave off the tattoo unless he needs another reminder of me being there for him."

"Great.  Which one of you is getting the ring this time?"

"I'm not sure he'd get one for me," Xander admitted sheepishly.  "He wants something new to play with."

"They are fun to play with," he agreed, coming over to ready his navel area.  "Top or bottom, Horatio?"

"Whichever won't interfere with his clothes."

"Wrong style for that."  He looked at him.  "This is more a nipple, ear, or lip ring.  Maybe a scrotum piercing if you want to go that way.  Most navel rings are dangles so they don't interfere with clothes."  He let Horatio see and he tapped one, getting a nod. "Yes, sir.  Top?  That way it hangs in?"

"Please.  Put the other one wherever Xander wants."  Xander squeaked at that.

The piercing artist laughed. "I think he's feeling a bit overwhelmed, Horatio.  Want me to double ring the nipple?"

"If you can."  He sat down to watch it be done.  His mark was removed and they were slid back in together, making Xander hiss.  "Shh, I'm here," he soothed.  Xander nodded as they were closed.  Then his navel was done and Xander yelped but he got a kiss for it. "Very pretty.  How long before I can play with it?"

"Few hours if you're gentle."  Horatio moved to tongue it and Xander hissed and went rigid, his cock starting to stand up.  "Put some antiseptic on it every few hours," he said, handing it over.  Horatio nodded, handing him a folded bill.  He looked then nodded.  "Thank you, sir."

"Welcome."  He helped Xander get redressed then back out to the hummer.  He found a ticket on it and snorted, putting it aside.  He'd take that up with his boss Monday.  "Now we need groceries, right?"  Xander nodded.  "What's wrong?"

"You don't really want to dominate me, right?"

"No, Xander. I like you how you are."  His mate relaxed at that.  "What's the other problem?"

"Can we go get my car, that way it doesn't cause more problems?"

"If you want."  He took them home to do that then took out Xander's new sports car.  It was very fast.  Very, very fast.  He nearly got them busted for speeding it was so easy to go fast.  "Now I know why you got the two tickets in the porsche."  He pulled into the parking lot and got out, letting Xander get the cart while he shopped.  Horatio coughed to break up an arguing couple, tapping his badge.  The woman glared. He glared back.  She stomped off.  The boyfriend relaxed and nodded.  Horatio handed him a card from his wallet and kept going.  If he didn't need the male abuse shelter, he probably would someday soon if he went back to her.  He paused in front of the meats.  "What's in the freezer?"

"Enough to feed all the Delkos and us for at least a day.  But we need more chicken."  Horatio nodded, adding a few of those to the cart.  "Can you make the pork chop dish tonight?"  Horatio smiled and added the ingredients into the cart for that.   "That's the spoiling I wanted."  He kissed him on the cheek, getting a smile.   "We need soda and milk too. I got more juice mix."

"All right."  He went to get that, making Xander a happy boy because he also got him his favorite ice cream.  They checked out with Xander's money this time and headed for home, finding the Chief waiting on him with two cruisers.  "Yes?"

"You're keeping that hummer from the rest of the labs?"

Horatio opened the garage door and got out the registration, handing it over. "It was donated specifically for my use so my old one could go back to the rest of the labs."

"Oh.  We did paperwork for the PD sign and tags?"  Horatio flipped the papers over, that was the certification of the vehicle as a city vehicle.  "I see."  He looked at him.  "You went where with it?"

"When we first got together, there were bets about whether or not I had to sleep in the hummer," Xander said dryly.  "He goes *everywhere* with the hummer.  I made him trade to the new car I just got given because of the run in with Sevara earlier."  That got a dirty look.  "Sorry, but he likes my ass looking goth."

"We're all surprised he doesn't make you wear the collar when you come see him," one of the officers joked.

Xander glared at him. "I'm not a sub, thank you.  I'm actually quite dominant.  Should I tie you down and whip you to prove it?"

"He's always petting you and saying 'good boy' and things," the other offered when his partner went pale.

"That's because I need reassurance."  Xander moved closer.  "It might have escaped those who don't study people, but my parents were shitbags.  Total shitbags.  Drunken total shitbags if you want me to be honest.  I need the reassurance now and then."  He gave him a horrified look.  "Yes, me."

"But..but..but you're confident and poised and all that."

"Since Speedle adopted me at sixteen and then I took up with Horatio, yes.  Before then I was an outcast with a violent streak."

"Oh," the first officer said.  "He's done good work making you a confident, well adjusted man, sir."

"Him and dad.  Speedle laid the framework over two years.  Horatio built on it."

"I did," he agreed, coming over to hold him.

"My parents were bad enough that Aiden and Timmy nearly killed them.  They left town to get away from Aiden and Timmy.  They saved me from a lot of shit, including myself.  So yes, he does occasionally treat me like the dog or the son, but that's because I need that now and then.  Otherwise I might return to my former self," he said, staring at the chief.  "As some have seen."

"That jell-o incident."

"I didn't put anything in the jell-o, I only laughed."  He raised an eyebrow.  "There's a reason I am as I am."

"Ethan told me."

"What makes you think he knows?  Giles didn't."  He swallowed.  "Ethan knows what we've told him.  Nothing else."  The man backed away.  "By the way, tell your wife to leave Willow alone too.  Quit trying to make her mess up on purpose.  That would get a great many people very upset."

"I'll tell her.  You're going to leave us alone?"

"I don't go near you until you try my family, Chief. You know that."  He nodded at that. "You try my family again because you don't like us being together or whatever your reason of the moment is, and you'll get it back triply."

"Fine.  I'll leave you two alone. Are you going to see the vampire who gave you the cars?"

"We're talking about it but I don't think Angel and Horatio need to be in the same city."

He snorted.  "Why?  Afraid they'll compare notes?"

"Funny, but no.  I was a virgin to men when Horatio took me to bed that first night. Thanks for fantasizing about me and Angel though. I'll make sure he knows you did."   He stomped off and got in his car, heading off.  "Sorry you had to see that," he said more calmly.  "He's been sniping about us being together since he took office."

"Most of the patrol units like you two together, sir.  You make him happier and a happier Caine is more focused and has a better sense of humor.  We like him being happier.  He doesn't torture anyone with that food that made everyone sick."

"How many people did you feed my cooking to?" Xander joked.

"Ten, twelve.  Something like that.  One of the judges made me quit."   He looked at the officers.  "Thank you.  Would you like that ticket back?"  They nodded so he got it and handed it over. "Thank you, officers."

"Welcome, sir.  Are you next in line?"

"I'm never leaving the crime lab," Horatio assured them.  "Especially not for a desk job."  That got some smiles and headed back to work.  Horatio looked at Xander.  "Get the groceries while I get the clothes."  He nodded, going to do that.  Horatio ran into Aiden in the hallway.  He kissed her on the cheek.  "I'm going to be molesting your son for a very long time.  It will be loud."  He walked on, carrying the clothes into the bedroom.

"Was that a hint or a suggestion?"

"Hint, Aiden.  Hint."

"Fine, I'll go bother the pseudo-hubby and his new kid."  She went to help Xander, giving him a hug.  "I love you. You're so good.  Your mate's even gonna molest you.  About time."  He blushed at that.  "Awww.  What did he do?  Spoiled you?"

"New belly button ring and a second ring for my nipple.  Lots and lots of clothes, including some buttless ones.  The girl at the fetish shop and one of the officers thought I was a sub because I get reassurance."

"I know you're not.  See, I can see Horatio collared and beside the bed for you now and then.  The same as I can see him tying you down to make you let it all go now and then."  She kissed him on the cheek.  "You be good to him tonight. Make him sit funny for the cookout tomorrow.  Oh, where is Buffy?"

"I introduced her to someone."

"Sure.  Let me forward the phones to mine."  She went to do that from the office, then headed over to see Speed.  He opened the door and looked at her. "Our boy introduced Buffy to someone?"

"Long story," he agreed, letting her inside.  "They back yet?  Someone pointed out Xander had almost no clothes."

"Yup, Horatio was carrying bags and stuff from a fetish shop too."  He laughed at that, giving her a hug.  "Won't Calleigh mind?"

"Probably.  Calleigh, Aiden's here."

"I heard.  Bring her in here.  We can all sit on the bed."

Aiden walked him that way.  "Aww, there's my sorta-almost stepkid."

"He's being fussy.  Xander's had him for the last few days."

Aiden took him and he quieted down for her.  "He gets it from me," she said proudly.

"You did give him his first parental hug," Speed agreed as he curled up beside Calleigh.  "So, why the visit?"

"Horatio kicked me out and said he'd be molesting Xander for many hours and quite loudly.  Apparently he took him to a fetish shop and someone thought he was a sub."  She smiled and cooed at the baby.  "Some year, your big brother might even talk me into having one of you, kiddo."   The baby fussed.  "Yeah, that's my feeling on the subject too.  We'll resist him.  Yes we will."  Thomas settled back down. "He's a good boy, Timmy."

"He is most of the time," he agreed. "Every now and then he gets this evil look he learned off Xander and he ends up with runs that seem to explode everywhere."

Calleigh nodded.  "Definitely.  I think he learned that one off Toddy personally."  Aiden laughed at that. "Did you decide to come here or up there?"

"Here. My boy needs his momma.  He won't let Alexx or anyone else baby him so I've got to.  Maybe then he'll quit running away on Horatio.  Because that tattoo is very cute."

"Tattoos?" Calleigh squeaked.

"Cursive H with handcuffs hanging off one side," Aiden told them.  "To remind our son that Horatio will take care of him and bring him back in cuffs if he tries to run like that again."

Speed giggled.  "You should've been here that day.  He escaped from the hospital looking like the mummy.  Ten pounds of bandages and casts.  Went to their hidden area down here.  Horatio spent most of the night once he was told and all the next morning looking for him.  He finds him, brings him back to the station.  He told him it was either staying with Cal here or the station and the couch in his office.  Xander rests there to gain strength then sneaks off on a trip to the bathroom, heads to New York and his house up there. Goes to see Don's mom since she was sick.  Don drives him out there.  He ends up giving us hints on purpose so he won't worry so much.  Danny figures out the neighborhood and Horatio takes off after him.  Goes up there and teaches him not to run.  Then apparently you got up there and got in on the end of the spoiling?"

"Yeah, saw where his hacker buddies live too."  She smiled at the baby.  "Hi, precious.  Did you just pee on me."

"Probably," Calleigh agreed.  She took him back and went to change him.  "So, you're doing medical lab work, right?" she called.

"Yup.  A lot less stress on the soul."  She looked at Tim.  "His boy bought him buttless pants, his words."

"Horatio did? I'm surprised he even knew what they are."

"He was carrying bags from a fetish shop.  Xan said the girl thought he was a sub.  I assured him that he wasn't when he defended it.  Told him I could see him being made to let it go now and then but I could also see him collaring Horatio for the same reason now and then."  Calleigh went bright red in the doorway.  "Sorry.   Horatio made Xander buy assless pants.  The salesgirl thought he was a sub."

"I don't need to know that much about anyone's sex life," she said, trying to stay calm.  "I really don't."

"It's kinda cute, Calleigh," Aiden teased.

"Plus you teased Willow how many times about the OCD cleaning versus sex fits?" Speed teased.

"Keep it up and I'm going to stay with them for good."

"Willow likes girls," Aiden assured her. "She keeps saying Ryan needs someone else to fuss over."

Calleigh gave her a look.  "I could never be part of a trio.  I'm not like that. Timmy had better not be either."

"No, I'm not. I can't handle two at once anymore."  He held out a hand and she came to cuddle him.  "He down?"  She nodded, snugging into his chest.

"You two should do one of those couple's retreats things.  There's a really nice one coming up.  Don wanted my opinion on taking Marisol to one."

"The one I wouldn't mind going to is in two weeks," Speed offered, looking at her.  "It'd be a long weekend if you wanted."

"Are there kinky things?"

"Sex outside if you wanted.  It's to relax and connect. They've got a library of tapes if you want to learn about techniques, positions, or other stuff.  It's to promote intimacy and togetherness, plus good sex."

"You're going to make me scared."

"It's not like that. You walk around all day in lounging jammies.  You hold hands, you go for long walks, you swim together.  You do couplish things all weekend that leave you wanting to be together even more.  It's in upper Georgia.  It's a max of ten couples each getaway.  It'll be nice."  He stroked her back. "We can get you some cute lounging jammies, even with cartoons if you wanted, and we'll go walk around the woods and visit the lake.  No switching partners or anything like that."

"You've went to one of those?" she asked, looking embarrassed.

"Yeah. I had an ex who was into the whole swinger and S&M stuff.  That's why Xander took my advice on what handcuffs to get for that anniversary thing he did.  Also how Ray Jr. knows what he wanted."

"You've got a lot more kinky stuff in your past than I do," she said, looking at him.  "My kinkiest thing was probably that one guy who asked me if I'd pee on him and I said no."

"That was never my thing either," he assured her, giving her a squeeze.  "I'd never suggest you go that kinky, Cal.  I know it's not your thing.  You like the lights off way too much for that."  He gave her a gentle kiss. "The kinkiest thing about this weekend is usually the lounging jammies unless you decide to research something and try it."

"When's the one after this?"

"The next one was a swinger's weekend.  You'd end up on someone's lap and either watching or being watched."

"Um, no.  You don't... need that stuff, right?"

"Have I yet?" he asked patiently.  She shook her head quickly. "Have I seemed like I needed something I'm not getting?"

"No," she said carefully.  "But you can hide really well, Speed."

"I know.  I'm not though.  I don't need the kinky stuff. I did it in the past."

"Okay. If you're sure."  He nodded, looking patient.  "Good."

"I know very well if I cross a line that you don't want me to, you'll tell me no, kick my ass, then go hide with Ryan."

"I'd never cheat...."

"I know that and he knows that.  That's why he's safer.  You might get into trouble with Eric.  You'd never make Ryan cheat on his wife."

"I can be naughty."

"You can, but not that naughty."  He smiled at her. "That ex-girlfriend taught me everything I needed to know to be her dom.  You'd never need me that way."

"I don't," she agreed.  "I'm perfectly secure and don't need to let it go that way."

"Until you do, I don't need to drag those memories up."

"Good."  She looked back at Aiden, who was giggling.  "What?  Sometimes you guys seem a lot more worldly."

 "That's because New York was the porn and sex capitol of the world for a long time, Calleigh.  He may be from upstate but he went to college in the city and I'm sure he took plenty of trips to the darker side of the city."  He nodded.  "The same as I saw it and traveled there myself.  That's all it is."

"We've got prostitution down here," Calleigh defended.  "Way too much of it.  And sex clubs.  Xander used to get in anywhere he wanted, including those places."

"Calleigh, we have places up there that the sex clubs down here make cute and annoying.  Those are just the theater places, not for those who live the life.  We used to answer at least six deaths a year at some of them for snuff victims."  She went pale at that.  "We've got goth clubs up there that don't do the nice draining into a cup/what was your last test like bloodletting.  We've got guys who bite it and drink it or cut it and drink it out.  New Yorkers are cynical because we work hard and we play harder.  We had clubs where the strippers have sex on stage for your pleasure, and then take a member of the audience.  We've got ones where you can be the creamy filling on stage.  We've got ones that there's no such thing as a safe word."

"I wandered into one of those once.  It's like prison.  I found a protector very quickly thankfully," Speed offered.  "He kept me there all night watching as the others had whatever their owners wanted done to them.  Including one guy that apparently pissed his off because he got branded right behind the balls and then it was pissed on."  She shuddered at that. "Cute place.  Dayglo."

"Yeah, because you can only see the glow of day through the bars," she agreed.  "We answered a homicide there a few years back.  They were doing breath play with blunt objects."  She got up to be sick.  "Sorry."

"We're never going back up there," Calleigh called between heaves.

"I kept you away from those areas on purpose, Calleigh," he assured her, going to get her some water.  He stroked her back. "I did. That night you wanted to go down to that one club, I stopped you for a reason.  You would've ended up on your back on a table as a buffet while I was strapped to a wall and used too.  That's why I didn't let you go."  She nodded, getting sick again.  "I'm sorry."  He went back to stroking her back.  "Shh, it's all right."  She flushed and stood up to rinse her mouth, staring at him. "That's not my thing."

"Thankfully."  She leaned against his chest, letting him hold her.  "Thank you for not letting me go down there."

"Not a problem."  He kissed her temple.  "Brush your teeth, we'll change topics."

"I'll take Tom to see Lizzy.  Let you and your ex-wife talk."

"You know it was never official. It was less than we had.  It was when it got too bad."

She stroked his cheek.  "You two shared a lot of stuff.  Not all marriages are sex.  She's your ex."


"No, it's all good.  I need to calm down anyway and listening to Willow babble about the kids will do it. I definitely need the fresh air."

"Want driven?"

"No, I'm good.  I'll call Ryan to make sure it's a good time."  She went to do that, smiling at Aiden. "I'm going to calm down before the blush becomes permanent."

"Sorry, Calleigh."

"Not a problem.  That sort of thing is something I will never understand. Like why people go to Asia to do teenagers, I'll never understand.  I'm happy with my lack of understanding.  Really."  That got her a smile and a hug.  "Take care of your ex until I get back and no sex."  She pinched her.  "Brat."

Aiden laughed.  "I'd never take him from you, girl.  I don't poach."

"Good."  She called Ryan.  "I'm coming over to cool down my blush.  No, Aiden's here and she and Tim were going off on New York sex memories.  Be right there with Tom....  Oh, okay.  Then without Tom.  Sure."  She hung up.  "Lizzy's asleep so I'm going to leave him here."

"Sure.  You be safe."

"Of course."  She went out, heading over there.  She knocked on Ryan's door, making him smirk at her.  "They were talking about this club that's like prison and you got a protector and no safe words and I just couldn't."

"I understand.  I just put Willow down for a nap.  She got a bit heated earlier too. It's apparently the day for sex."

"Aiden said Horatio bought Xander buttless pants."

He smirked. "You should taunt him into wearing them on a road trip with Horatio."

"That's mean."  She hit him on the arm and he laughed, leading her back to the living room.  "So, how's being a judge?  We figured your OCD was getting a bit more stringent with the new environment."

"It can be but she's weathering it beautifully," he admitted with a grin. "How's your place?"

"I live surrounded by demons, including one who can make the bedroom floor freezing no matter what it's like outside.  Personally I think that one's a pro.  She's always got visitors."

He smiled at that.  "Yeah, that building is a bit wild."  She nodded at that.  "Want a beer?"

"Please, God, yes. I need that image out of my head."  He smiled and got her one, getting one for himself too.  They settled in to talk like old friends.


Horatio came out of the bedroom once he was done straightening out the closets, again, and found his boy stretching. "Practice time?"

"I should."

"You can tomorrow morning," he said gently, leading him back to their bedroom.  He let Xander see the pants on the bed, then made him look at him.  "Can I do whatever I want tonight?"

"Within reason."

"Within reason," he agreed, smiling at that small correction.  "What's your line of reason tonight?"

"No tickling.  Nothing really and truly kinky?  No cuffs."

"Not in my plans," he admitted.  He slowly stripped his boy off, watching his body pinken as he stared at it.  "You haven't shaved recently."

"I haven't.  Sorry."

"It's slowing you down in the water.  We can do that as well."  He walked him into the bathroom, letting him see what he had set up.  The enema bag was resting in some warm water to stay the right temperature.  The new plug was on the end.  Horatio heard the quiet sigh. "You gave me the new plug."

"I did.  Just one?"

"Clean and rinse."  He kissed the back of his neck. "Are you sore?"

"No."  He turned to look at him.  "Mom said I should collar you now and then to make you let go too," he offered quietly.

"I do let go, Xander.  I let all my stress go by making you insane.  By the morning neither of us are going to have a thought in our heads."  Xander blushed at that. "We won't.  Now, want my lap or the floor? Or the convenient bench you put in?"

"The bench."  Horatio nodded, laying him down and putting a folded towel between his thighs.  He shifted his right leg forward some since it was on top, getting better access to the cavity he wanted.  He slowly inserted the plug and tube.  "Clench down.  Or else I'm inflating it."  Xander shook his head quickly.  "You're sure?"

"No thank you. I can hold it."

"If that's what you want."  He started the feed, hitching the bag up to the plant hook and plant they had right there.  Someone had planned this bench to be used for other things.  "Was the plant your idea?"

"Mr. Delko's."

"Ah.  It's in a good place."  He saw the wince and stared down at him.  "Well?"

"Inflate it."  Horatio inflated the small airball at the end so it couldn't come out and he couldn't leak.  No matter what he did, he couldn't leak.  Xander swallowed.  Horatio got him some water to drink, putting the straw into his mouth.  "I can do this if you wanted to start dinner."

"I can start dinner in a few minutes.  Let me get you through this one and into the first rinse."  Xander nodded, sipping more water.  "Good."  He checked the bag, nearly empty.  "How full are you feeling?"

"Really."  Horatio gave him a look.  "A whole lot, like usual.  Why?"

"It's a slightly bigger bag than the one we had."  He smiled at him.  "Doing fine."  He watched as it finished draining, clamping off the line.  He squatted down to kiss him, making Xander smile at him.  "Let me work it in," he soothed, playing with his stomach to swish the water around.  Xander swallowed at that.  "Breathe."  Xander breathed, controlling the sensation.  "Good."  He got him up and let him evacuate it while he prepared a set of rinse water. He got Xander back onto his spot and started the first rinse.  Xander had better control of it this time, letting him gently knead his stomach to swish it around, even with the ball at the end inflated.  He was more relaxed this time.  When it was done he clamped off the tube and gave him a kiss.  "Let me get the pork chops ready.  I'll be right back while that sits." Xander opened his mouth. "Five minutes."  He left, going to the kitchen to wash his hands and pull out the meat, slicing into the sides so they could be stuffed.  When the five minutes were done he put them into the fridge and washed his hands again, then went back.  Xander was wincing.  "Does it hurt?"

"Few cramps."  Horatio helped him up and to the toilet, starting another bag of rinse water.  Xander moaned. "Must I?"

"Yes."  He looked at him. "You know that.  If you're a good boy, we'll play with the shower nozzle again."  Xander shivered and let more water out.  "Good boy.  Call me when it's all done."  Xander nodded, relaxing into the feeling.  Horatio went to wash his hands again and mix the stuffing, which he always did by hand.  He liked the feeling of the stuffing squishing in his fingers.  He got finished and listened.  "Xander?"

"Still going."

"All right."  He stuffed the first few pork chops before he heard his name called.  He got one last one and put everything back into the refrigerator, washing his hands again, drying them as he came back.  He found Xander back in position with the tube connected correctly.  He inflated the end on him again and kissed him.  "Let me finish dinner?  I'll be right back."  Xander moaned but nodded.  "Get onto all fours if it helps."  He helped him onto his stomach and then onto his hands and knees.  Which gave him many dirty thoughts.  He kissed his boy gently, then slowly ran a hand down to knead his stomach, getting a moan into his mouth.  "Let it go, Xander.  You know how this works."

"I'm still not being trained to get hard at this feeling."

Horatio smirked.  "Really?  Then why are you?" he teased.  That hand ran a finger up him, making him shiver and clamp down on the plug.  Horatio inflated it a bit more, then looked at his mate and did one final squeeze to the airball that inflated the small balloon and kept it inside him.  Xander shifted his legs outward.  Horatio teased the hard cock.  "I'd say you were liking this."

"It's the attention."

"Hmm."  He gave him a nip on the side.  Then he moved up to his ear. "You like it when I play with you, Xander. Admit it to me and maybe, just maybe, I'll let you come soon."

"Water still feels funny.  A bit too warm too.  Why did I buy the bigger bag?"

"Shh.  You know there are bigger ones," he soothed.  Xander moaned at that.  "I've got you."  He moved down to tease the cock again, making him rock back and forth.  "Gently.  Gently move it around."  Xander closed his eyes, trusting him to make sure he got what he needed.  He licked across the tip, making him gasp.  "Do you like that?"

"Feels odd with the water."

"It should."  He gave him a few more strokes then let him go.  "I'll be back after I've finished stuffing the pork chops.  What sort of vegetable did you want?"

"Don't care.  Nothing green?"

"Corn?  Stirfried squash?"

"Like that," he agreed, panting again.  "Horatio!"  Horatio hummed.  "Please!   Need it.  I'll explode if you don't."

"You can usually hold on."

"I'm not usually full of a gallon of water."

"It's not that big of a bag, Xander.  It's only a two-liter."  He did stroke his cock for him, letting him get off.  "There, how's that?"

"I realize now how pregnant woman sex feels."  He looked at him.  "Go, hurry back."  Horatio nodded, going to finish that.  Xander reached back and clamped off the tube and settled in to wait.  He couldn't undo the bulb by himself.  He muttered to himself as he waited, tensing and relaxing his stomach muscles.  If pregnant women felt this full, why did anyone have a second child?  He heard the doorbell and moaned.  "No, not today!" he complained loudly.

Horatio went to answer the door, looking at Don and Eric.  "Not a good time, guys."

"Why not?  We came to pick Xander up to go play in the park with us."

"He's presently full of two-liters of water."

Eric just nodded once.  "More than I needed to know.  Tomorrow what time?"

Eric could take hints.  Good.  "Two, three, somewhere in there."

Eric nodded.  "Okay."  He drug Don back to the car.  "Don't ask, he's playing with enemas.  They're going to have kinky and loud sex."

"Eww.  I hated those things.  How can you like them!"

"It's not being done at the hospital.  Horatio's probably pampering him greatly and rubbing his back to ease the cramps and all that."  He got him into the car and looked the sports car in the driveway, then whimpered and slid in to drive.  "You think he bought it?"

"Xander doesn't spoil himself that way," he said, looking at it.  "Think we could grab the keys?"

"Tomorrow.  I'm not going in there tonight. Sorry."  He sped off, taking him to the park to play and forget that image.  He really needed to forget that image.

"Still, how can that...."

Eric punched him on the arm. "Trying to forget that image.  Talk about having sex with my sister. It's less nasty."

"She'd never let me do that to her."  Eric moaned.  "Sorry.  Um, she's obviously had some practice sucking?"

"Nasty but good for you, man.  I knew she wasn't as good as momma thought."

"No, not by any means.  Speaking of which, is it you who gave her that cherry liquorice colored whip?"

"No, that was one of her girlfriends. They gave it to her to hold Xander off.  Let's forget we even stopped there."

"Sure," Don agreed. "I can get behind that plan."  He nodded quickly.  "Should we warn the others?"

He called Speed. "Don't randomly drop by H's place tonight."  He winced.  "Yeah, we got told that.  Thanks for the warning, Speed."  He hung up. "Horatio told Aiden, who was giggling in the background, that they were going to have noisy sex tonight."

"Apparently.  Do you think Horatio ever takes it?"

Eric hit him again.  "Not a subject I want to think about."

"Sorry.  Want to pick up Aiden and Speed?"

"Okay."  He changed lanes and headed that way, groaning at the lights.  He pulled over and pulled out his ID.  The cop who stopped him gave him an odd look. "We're trying to forget the sight of our boss and sex."

"You're one of Caine's boys, right?"  Eric nodded, hanging his head.  "Not something I'd want to see either.  Go ahead.  Pay more attention to your signals next time, Delko."

"Thanks.  Have you met Detective Flack yet?  He's dating my sister."

"Welcome to Miami, sir."

"Switching program," he admitted, grinning at him.  "She'll have to come to New York too."

"That's fine.  Think you could take Caine's husband?  We haven't had a good, healthy, celebration worthy drug bust in a few months.  They always seem to happen when his boy's out of town."

"Sure," Don agreed.  "We can send him out for a few days to go visit the lab up there."  That got a smile.  "I'll recommend a peace mission to poach people."

"Thanks, sir.  You have a nice night.  Watch out for the muggers down near the canal."  He went back to his car.

Eric put the car in gear and pulled out, using his signals.  "I never realized everyone else wanted to keep Horatio happy by not making him do too much work too."

"It seems to work.  He's happy, Xander's happy, things go smoothly at the upper levels.  Xander doesn't have to hurt anyone, which makes Horatio happy.  It seems to be symbiotic somehow."

"I guess.  I thought it was us keeping him off the worst cases because he never got laid and therefore got very grumpy.  He had this bad habit of feeding people Xander's cooking when he was in a bad mood."  Don snickered at that.  "Seriously. Used to carry some in the hummer even."  He pulled into Speed's parking lot.  "Go get 'em.  I'll call Ryan and whoever."

"Sure.  Babysitter?"


"Want Calleigh?"

"Nah, let her and Aiden bond over girl stuff.  We'll do a guy's night."

"Okay."  He went to get Speed and drag him down.

Eric called Ryan. "We're doing a guy's night and you are one, for all that your wife's got you whipped.  Me, you, Don, Speed.  No, Horatio shared *way* too much information about their sex life just now."  He listened to what Calleigh had told him.  "No, more like enemas.  Want a drink?"  He grinned.  "Sure, I'll even make sure I drive."  He hung up as the others came down.  "We're picking up Ryan.  I'm the designated driver."  That got a nod from Speed. "Let me guess, he gave you the bad mental images?"

"Nah, Aiden and I were talking about New York sex clubs earlier.  We've got ones that mimic prisons."

"Ah."  Eric backed out and headed for Ryan's.  "Better than what we got from H."

"Yeah, those two can be a bit kinky now and then.  Aiden suggested Xander should collar him now and then to make him let go of the stress."

Don shifted to look at him.  "The patrol guy who stopped us for him having bad mental images while driving wanted us to send Xander away for a few weeks so they could have a celebration-worthy bust."

"Let him go to Mac to handle that last auction."  That got a smirk.  "Oh, they might be taking off for LA.  The sports car apparently came from that direction."

"We saw the lam.  The lam was pretty," Don assured him.  They paused and Ryan got in and buckled up.  "You have bad mental images too?"

"Yup.  Then again, my wife just put Calleigh into our bed for a nap."

"That's fine.  As long as they don't sleep together in that special way," Speed agreed dryly.

Ryan looked at him.  "No, that would make Willow have that thought of me helping you clean your office again."

Speed shuddered.  "Never mind.  Anything to straighten out her mind.  You gotta try harder, Ryan. Please?"

"I'm trying.  It's not working as well anymore.  I might have to resort to handcuffs and whipped cream.  Or something slightly more kinky since she likes spanked."  He shrugged.  "Who knew."

"I didn't need to," Eric reminded him. "If you die, I'll be a favorite uncle to your kids, I'll set your wife up with all sorts of nice guys when she's ready, but I'm not takin' her in, man."

"Okay," Ryan agreed.  "Speed?"


Don laughed.  "She's a nice girl but man... maybe she and Buffy...."

"Only if someone else gets my kids," Ryan told him.  "She can hand my kids to Xander and go play with Buffy all she wants if I die.  Because I'm pretty sure we've lost Buffy to Prestons."  Speed nodded at that.  "It's nice, he can match her in a fight."

"He can," he agreed. "He's also got that predatory nature that draws her.  Oh, and point of interest.  All slayers are born infertile."

The whole car cheered.


Horatio looked up as Xander came out of dressing himself.  They had played in the shower while the pork chops had cooked.  He had come out to do the squash while Xander dressed himself for him. "Let me see?"  Xander turned to show off his assless pants.  "Very nice."  He pulled him closer for a kiss. Go sit."  Xander looked at the table, there was only one place setting.  "Yes, there.  On the stool."  Xander went to sit on the stool, shivering at the feel of the cold wood against his bare rear.  Horatio finished dinner and made a plate for him, putting it in front of him.  Then he knelt behind Xander and pulled his hips back to get his own treat.  "I'll eat later," he said at the first squeak.  "You eat now. You'll need the energy."  He went back to tonguing Xander's ass, making him shiver, shake, and clutch the table. "Eat."

"Can't," he gasped.  Horatio laughed and he clenched the muscles to keep the tongue in place.  It was withdrawn and he was nipped, then Horatio pulled him back farther and went back to work on him.  Xander closed his eyes and moved, kicking the stool under the table, letting him have whatever he wanted.

Horatio smiled. "I said eat."

"I can't, not while you're doing that."  Horatio nipped him.  "I still can't.  Same as I can't eat when you're sucking on any other part of me."

"That's fine.  It can be good cold."  He went back to it, making Xander howl and tense, shake and clutch, then stumble on opening his zipper.  "No."  Xander moaned.  "Not yet."

"Need to!"

"Not yet."  He went back to it, pulling down on his balls to make sure he didn't come yet. He let it go from there, liking the feeling of the quivers that he got when his boy did come.  He kept going, teasing him since he was so sensitive.  When he quit hearing the pretty begging noises he withdrew and cleaned off his mouth.  He had drooled.  He gave it one last lick, hearing a smaller whimper.  He turned him around to clean him off, noticing most of it had hit the stool.  That was nice of him.  He got them both cleaned up with a warm cloth and some mouthwash, then kissed his husband slowly, mimicking what he had been doing inside him.  Xander clutched at him. "Desperate?"

Xander nodded, swallowing.  "Very."

"Good.  Now we'll eat."  He pulled over a regular chair, sitting down with Xander in his lap to cuddle him.  He cut a bite of dinner then fed it to him.  Xander gave him a look as he chewed. "I told you I'd eat later.  I've got your normal bouncy mood."  He fed him another bite.  Somewhere a phone rang.  "She forgot one."

"That's yours."  He got up and went to find it, bringing it back. He snuggled back into his lap and kissed and nibbled his chin while he talked.

"Caine."  He listened.  "That's fine, Prestons.  As long as she wants that I don't care.  No, he can't talk.  Because he's in my lap and sucking."  He smirked.  "That's why I do that, yes.  Have fun tonight. Be safe."

"All slayers are infertile," Xander whispered.

"Good luck, Prestons.  She's a bit flighty now and then but a good woman the rest."  He hung up and groaned at the instant ringing.  Xander giggled as he moved down his neck.  "Caine," he answered patiently.  "Hi, Bess.  No, you can't.  Aiden's got his forwarded.  No, he's in my lap at the moment.  Well, because he's had all the kids in the family for the last week straight.  Tomorrow at noon would be fine.  Most of the family is coming over in the afternoon but noon is good.  That's fine.  I'll even make something soothing and light.  Of course.  No, Xander can't cook.  He is poisonous to normal mortals."  He smiled.  "Of course you're not.  You have a nice night."  He hung up and turned it off.  "You're serving her tea tomorrow."

"Okay."  He went back to his project.  "I don't really need food."

"You do. You lost weight while you were hopping."  He pulled him off and kissed him. "Eat. Or else I'm going to play size queen tonight."  Xander gulped and turned back around so he could eat.  "Good boy."  He stroked over the bare back.  Then down over his thighs. "Those do look great on you."

"Thank you for spoiling me."

"You needed and deserved it.  If only because you kept Ryan's son from dismantling the house and my cellphone again."  Xander grinned and wiggled while he was fed the next bite.  "Good boy.  You eat it all and there's ice cream for dessert."  He sat up a bit to get to his ear, nipping it.  "I'm wondering if I should put mine in a bowl or not."  Xander shivered and nodded.  "You think I need a bowl?"

"It'd drip off me. I don't have any depressions to eat it out of."  Horatio stroked his thigh. "You can't put ice cream in there.  It's sacrilege."

"Then I won't this time," he promised.  Xander gave him a look.  "This time."  Xander nodded and went back to eating. "Slow down and chew.  I like watching you eat."  Xander did that for him.  "Very nice."  He went back to stroking his back, finishing his nefarious scheme for the night.  Xander didn't need to be able to sit tomorrow. She would understand.  Hopefully.  Someone knocked on the door. "Go away!" he called.

"Delivery, sir."

"How did he get in the gate?"

"I don't know.  Maybe Eric and Don left it open."  He got up and went to answer it. "What?"

"Mr. Harris?"

"Is my husband.  He's indisposed."  The delivery guy shrugged and let him sign for whatever it was.  Then the two large boxes were hefted inside the entry and he left.  Horatio closed the gate after him and input the locking code.  He answered the phone. "Just wanting some privacy, thank you for monitoring that," he told the security company.  They hung up and he went back to his boy's side.  "It's from LA."


"Not a clue.  We'll find out in the morning."  Xander nodded, getting up to let him have his lap again. He fed him a few more bites, then took a deep, pleasing kiss.  "We are going to LA in a few days."

"Yes, dear."  He gave in, knowing he could talk him out of it in the morning.  Right now, he wasn't going to rock the boat.  Someone else tapped.  "No!" he shouted.

"Sorry!" Willow called.  "Needed something of the baby's.  Had to hop the gate."

"Willow, I'm nearly naked and about to plunge down Horatio's throat.  I'm sure you took everything of hers."

"Not her bracelet."

"It was on her when she left."

"Crap.  Thanks."  She ran off, going back to the car.  "He said it was on her.  So maybe Ryan took it off?"

"Maybe."  They headed back to the house, Calleigh more than happy to think of something other than sex.  "He didn't let you in?"

"Um, no, they're busy."

"Ah.  Yeah.  Aiden said they were going to be busy tonight.  And probably most of tomorrow too.  Better them than me right now."

"Too true.  Ryan's like some caveman now and then.   I swear, the last month I've been like his personal sex doll or something.  A closet after the fight at the dinner.  In his office twice now.  It's like he's been cursed."

"Maybe whatever's going on with Horatio and Xander rubbed off."

"I guess, but man!  Even I get sore now and then.  Now I know why Xander couldn't sit on Horatio's birthday."

"No, I think that was a tear."

"Had that recently too. Just now clearing up.  He is not getting up the butt sex again."

Calleigh laughed.  "I told Speed he wasn't going to try it and he's pretty much let me set boundaries."

"Can you whip my puppy into shape?"

"Be firm, Willow.  Set a boundary line.  Tell the boy no."

"Then he pouts."

"That's blackmail."

"Yup.  It works too," she sighed, shaking her head.  They got the kids back inside the house and went to look for the bracelet, finding it still not there.  "Who had her other than us?"

"Mrs. Delko."  Willow moaned. "I'll call."  She dialed. "Mrs. Delko, it's Calleigh.  You know the dampening bracelets the kids wear?  Did you remove Lizzy's?"  She listened. "No, it's to keep them from accidentally floating themselves into the ceiling again.  The magic stuff.  Yeah, that stuff.  Really?  Then I guess you haven't caught Eric sneaking cookies that way, huh?"  She smirked at the shout at her husband.  Who agreed with her.  "Where is it?  No, they're having sex.  Xander told her that they're having sex and he hadn't seen it.  He assumed it was on her.  The same as Tia's is on her hopefully.  Sure, if you want to send it with Marisol, that's fine.  We're at Willow's and the boys are all out having a guy's night.  Thanks."  She hung up.  "She thought it was a family marking.  It's in her purse.  Marisol and Tia are coming over with it."

"Good.  Then we can check Tia's.  Because there's no way that little witch in the making is going Catholic."  That got a grimace.  "They don't really like us."

"Better them than a Southern Baptist who believes in the killing of you guys."

"True."  She got the kids down again and they came out to sit and chat while Marisol came over.


Horatio led Xander back to the bedroom and watched him as he moved.  "You're all healed, finally, and so am I.  Do we know what this means?"

"You want to adjourn to the room where I put up the pole?"

"You did what?" Horatio asked.  Xander took him by the hand and led him up the hallway to the small door he thought was a closet next to his office.  It's a good thing he didn't have to look for any paper products in here while half the house was full of people and children.  It was a round room, not very large.  It had one of those chair-and-a-halfs that were popular.  It had a pole at the other side. It was painted midnight purple and the chair was black plush.  Xander closed the door and flipped the switches - the lights went off and the sparkling embedded lights came on.  He pushed a button on the wall, turning on the built- in stereo.  "What did the workmen say?"

"That it was better designed than some rapper's out on Star Island," he said with an impish grin.  He tapped in the CD he wanted and started to dance for him, making his mate stare at his abs with a slight smirk of happiness.  He moved closer, doing a lap dance.  "I never was very good at these in the clubs," he offered with a shy grin.  He kept it up, his hips rocking and swaying with the beat of the music playing, his hands playing with his own chest, tugging gently on his nipple rings.  Horatio suddenly pulled him down into real contact, making them both moan, while his tongue teased the dual rings.  "Horatio," he moaned.

"Shh."  He gave the hips a push and Xander went back to it, rubbing and grinding against him, now stroking his mate's back instead of his own chest.   Horatio was having the time of his life.  He could feel himself getting close and pulled back.  "I'll give you anything you want tonight if you suck me off."

"Customers aren't supposed to get sexual favors," he said with an impish smile.

"I'm not the usual customer."  Xander fell to his knees and crawled over, his hips still working as he undid the zipper and licked over the hard cock.  Horatio spread his thighs wider, thanking the makers of the chair for making it wide enough for a good blowjob by an active mate.  He arched up then pulled the head back down.  Xander had done great at this art since he had taught him during their first day together. He came and Xander sucked it all down then licked him clean, looking up at him.  "Thank you."  His pants were rehitched.  "What's the other door?"

"Safe."  He kissed him.  "Plus all the paper stuff underneath it."  He kissed him again.  Then he moved to open his shirt.  "You are wearing all too many clothes, my boy."  Horatio let him, he had promised.  Xander got up to go back to dancing once Horatio was exposed to him.  "Take them off.  I want to watch what the chair does to you."

Horatio wiggled out of his pants and shirt, tossing them behind him.  The chair's plush fabric was very nice.  It was like a cross between chenille and velvet.  It felt very nice against his back and thighs, not to mention how the nap was teasing his crack.  He spread his legs again and shifted so the fabric could tease a bit deeper.  "Do we have this anywhere else in the house?"

Xander opened a small pull-down drawer, it looked like one of the doors that you threw trash down in an apartment building.  He pulled out a pair of bicep-length gloves in black plush and then chose a small cloth.  He came over to stroke him, letting him feel it was chenille making up the gloves and cloth.  He moaned as he was stroked with featherlight touches, the cloth dragged around his chest and stomach, then finally dropped on top of his cock while Xander stroked a bit harder here and there, then the barely-there touches would hit another area.  The music was still going and he was still dancing some, and it was making him pant.  "Xander," he moaned. "Please?"

"Not yet."  He went back to his teasing then kissed him and turned, stroking his own rear with them.  He stroked, he pulled the cheeks apart, he did his lower back, he did his thighs over the pants.  He knew Horatio was hard and needy.  He never expected the tongue torture to come back and make him scream though.  And scream he did because it was good.  He braced on the chairs arms, panting and gasping for breath, undoing the front of his pants to stroke himself with the gloves, cursing that they were only making it worse.  The cloth was picked up and drug over the damp flesh, then a finger was pushed into him with the cloth over it, making him gasp and tense up then shiver when it went deeper.  Their precum barely made it slick enough to irritate but not hurt.  "Toys," he panted.  "Drawer.  Toys."  Horatio carefully moved him and went to look in the magical drawer of mysteries.  He came back with a slim toy and used it instead of his finger, wrapping the cloth around the end of it so it stroked in and out with the dildo.  Xander was making pleading noises, he knew he was.  "Please!"

"Not yet."  He fastened the cockring he had found and Xander let out a wail but he couldn't come around it.  It was too tight.  "Hmm.  Just in time."  He went back to his playing, the gentle, soft cloth dragging.  He finally gave up on the cloth and went back to his tongue.  Xander was shaking.  He turned him so he was leaning against the back of the chair, letting the fabric stroke him for now.  Xander was humping back and forth, still unable to come, desperately wanting it.  Horatio smirked as he pulled back, turning off the music.  Xander moaned.  "Bed, my mate.  Our bed."  Xander straightened up and handed him his clothes, then walked out.  He made sure the door was sealed behind him. That was a room he didn't want his son in.  He walked Xander back to the bedroom.  "Want water or bed?"

"Water!" he gasped.  Horatio let him have some to drink then led him back into the shower.  The adjustable nozzles were set at the correct height and he was teased and tormented, still unable to come, still begging and pleading as they were adjusted to throb against his skin. Horatio watched, lending a hand here and there, just teasing for now.  Xander was reaching that spot of mindlessness that had gotten him torn last time.  He released the ring for a moment, letting him come.  Then put it back on and adjusted the one against his hole so it pounded harder to take advantage of the after-shocks.  Xander wailed and leaned against the wall.  Horatio smiled as he came over to get a kiss. "Please.  In me?  Now?"

"Once we're on the bed," he promised.  Xander struggled to his feet and kissed him, pulling him so the water would get him too.  "I'm already desperate, Xander. It's been a while since I touched you like I should every night."  He took another kiss, letting the water play with him.  "I've only got one shot left in me.   I'm going to work you until you're ready to pass out, then have you so we both finish and you're not left charged up."  Xander shook his head.  "No?"  He shook his head frantically and pushed him against the wall, kissing him hard.  "Xander, you'll need more."

"No I won't."  He moved down his mate's body, doing whatever he wanted, making him hiss and buck, but Horatio was no longer in control.  He turned off the water but all that got him was flipped around and Xander finding the oil they kept in there.  Horatio hissed as the thumb entered him suddenly, rocking back on it.  "Mine," Xander hissed in his ear.  "Mine. All mine.  Say it."

"Yours," he said, tightening up around the thumb. It was switched for two fingers. "Slower?"  Xander pushed him closer to the wall.  "Xander?"  The fingers were moved faster. "Yours!" he said, and they slowed down, drawing it out.  "All yours."  Xander slid into him, making him wince.  "Yours.  All yours," he soothed.  Xander moved slower and smoother now.  "Bed?"

"Later," Xander growled, going back into it. "Softness later."  He sped up now that he was used to it, making him groan and grind against the wall.  A hand came around to keep Horatio's cock from being hurt by the tiles, but he kept going. The snap of the cock ring was loud in the silent bathroom.  Horatio groaned at that sound.  Xander came with a moan in his ear, making him arch back.  Xander stopped moving and panted, leaning against his back.  He pulled out and kissed the spot he had been sucking on the back of Horatio's neck.  Then he turned and strolled out to the bed.

Horatio watched him go. "That's evil, Xander," he called.  He stormed out, going to pounce his mate.  He found him on his back, gently working some oil into himself.  "Evil, evil bastard."  He flipped him over.  "Hope you have enough in there," he said as he shoved himself into his mate's body.  Xander let out a scream, a good scream but still a scream. He sped up, going as hard and as fast as he needed to.  Xander was rocking back, one arm holding him up, the other touching himself.  Horatio reached down and swatted the hand. "Mine.  If I'm yours, you're mine."  He bit him on the shoulder, getting a yelp.  He moved down to do it again, this time a harder bite since it was harder to pull at the skin over his shoulderblade.  He slammed in and rode him hard, pounding him.  His mate.  His mate had teased him. His mate had made him sore.  His mate was howling and begging beneath him, as it should be.  He knocked the hand away again and went back to pleasing him.  "You won't tease me again?"

"No promises," he panted.  "You usually like it."

"That was evil."  He growled and pulled out, making him try to get him back.  He held the hips still.  "Agree."

"That was evil.  Told you I would get it at the same time you did," he panted. "PLEASE!"  Horatio smirked and blew over the hole, then used a thumb to tease the edge.  "Fine, I won't tease you that way again!  Probably!"

Horatio smirked and drove himself back in, making Xander scream again.  It was a good feeling to be back in control again.  Xander lost it, all he had to do was wait.  Xander was pushing back against him, trying to get it, needing it desperately.  Horatio teased him, pulling out counter-thrust.  Xander changed directions to follow.  He did it again and he moaned and whimpered, putting his head down.  "Mine?"

"Yours," he agreed hoarsely.  "All yours.  My mate."

"Good.  Very good boy."  He went back to slowly riding him, just gently for now.  Xander made begging noises.  "Mine."

"Yours.  Need more.  Please?"  He looked back.  "I won't leave you hanging that way again this month."

Horatio leaned down, pulling Xander up so he was sitting on his lap.  "Ride me.  Take what you need."  He kissed the bite marks and Xander rode and strained.  "You can't get off that way, can you?" he teased, stroking his stomach, then the tattoo he had put on his thigh. "You can't do it on your own."  Xander shook his head.  "What do you want?"

"You.  Please do more?"

"More what?"

"Make love to me?" he asked weakly, leaning his head back against his mate's shoulder.  "I'm yours. I was evil to tease you that way and leave you hanging."

"Yes, you were."  He pulled out and forced him onto his stomach.  He could ignore his hard-on for now.  For at least a few minutes.  The oil was pulled over and he got to work on Xander's back, calming him down, calming himself down.  Making it go back to the place it was earlier before Xander upped the stakes.  He calmed them both down.  They were both still hard, but it wasn't as much NEED now as want.  Xander gave him a gentle whimper when he got to his formerly injured leg.  "Pain?"  Xander nodded.  "When do you go back?"

"Monday."  He spread his legs. "Please?"

Horatio moved back up, slowly taking him, slowly building back up.  Xander moved back to his knees voluntarily.  Horatio growled low in his throat, speeding up.  They moved back up, but it wasn't going to be enough. "Xander, I won't last."

"Want the cockring?"

Horatio considered spanking him but he refused to cross that line again. So he settled for biting him... hard.  Xander moaned and arched back.  "Masochist," he taunted.

"Only for you," he panted, straining.  "Please, just a bit more.  All I need is a bit more."

"Too late," Horatio told him, coming.  He moaned and Xander moaned for a different reason.  He pulled out with a pant and collapsed onto the bed, spreading out. "Do it."  Xander looked at him.  "Xander, in me."  Xander blinked and fell on him like he was rabid, licking, nipping, sucking, sliding in and pulling his hips up.  "Remember I'm not as young as you," he complained, but Xander was in full, desperate need. Again.  He pounded him until Horatio thought a miracle might occur and he might get hard again but Xander snarled and came, pushing in deeper.  Horatio knew he was going to be sore.  Xander panted as he collapsed across his back.  "You okay?"


Horatio smiled.  "No you're not, I can feel the breathing."  Xander swallowed and shook his head.  "Yes, you are."

"No I'm not.  I'm dead.  You're going to kill me."


"I bit you."

"You did and now I know why you like it when I bite you."  He turned his head and Xander kissed him.  "Think you're going to survive?"

"Nope."  He moved with a groan and flopped beside him.  "Are you okay?"

"I'll be sore, the same as you will," he soothed, pulling him closer to cuddle.  Xander snuggled in with a sigh of pleasure.  "Why do we have a safe?"

"It was here."

"Oh, good.  What's in it?"

"The safety deposit boxes."

"Even better."

"And blackmail photos.  Plus the keys to the places in New York."  He kissed the chest over the heart.  "Love you, mine."

"Love you too, Xander. All mine."  He gave him a squeeze and looked at the clock.  "We should have a snack."

"Baby, I feel wide open, like you crawled inside me," Xander said quietly. "I know you're sore because your hole was bright red when I pulled out.  What mythical slave do you see getting us a snack?  Unless you know something about our dogs that I don't?"

Horatio let out a small chuckle.  "Not that I know of.  Not even for ice cream?"  Xander lifted his head, staring at him like he was stupid.  "Never mind."  He took a kiss.  "It can wait."  Xander nodded, putting his head back down.  "Did I wear you out?"

"Yup.  Especially since we've got to do tea for Bess and probably one or two others.  If we're lucky they're not bringing the whole garden club.  I've got practice before then. We're doing a cookout.  At least we don't have to worry about the kids waking us up."  Someone pounded on the door. "I'm going to commit homicide, you mind?"

"Yes."  He started to move but he had to moan and lay back down.  "Your turn."

Xander got out of bed and padded that way slowly, clutching the wall.  He found Aiden looking pissed.  "Is it a world ending emergency?"

"No," she said cautiously.

"Is someone bleeding or in the hospital?"

"Nearly.  Someone tried to shoot Danny on his way home."

He pointed to the right.  "The board's house is next door.  It's almost finished.  Have someone pick him up."  She nodded at that.  "Anything else?"

"Are you sore?"

"Mommy, I love you, but Horatio did things to my ass that are evil and I was mean enough to leave him hanging after making him really sore first.  Do you need more details?"  She blushed and shook her head.  "Are you sure?  Because I will give you some if you really want."  She shook her head.  "We're doing a tea and a cookout tomorrow.  Have him show up mysteriously then or later.  Either one. Do you need *our* help?"  She slowly shook her head and he popped her up side of it.  "That's not yours, quit staring at it."

"But it's a cute tatoo."

He popped her again, then slammed the door in her face.  "Honey, Danny got shot at by some stupid people who want my foot up their asses when I can walk."

"That's fine.  Can you get me some ice cream?"

"I thought I was being spoiled today."

"Bring me some ice cream.  I'll spoil you more."  Xander considered it then got a pint of ice cream and two spoons out, carrying them back.  He handed it over, keeping a spoon. "You won't need that, this is for me."  He pulled him back down and got to work spreading the ice cream on Xander and licking it off.  He even was nice enough to lick it off the hardening cock.  He was even nice enough to use fingers coated in it to bring Xander off again so he could clean him up and then lick it out of him.  "Told you I'd spoil you more."

"Can I have a bite that's not been in my ass?"  Horatio laughed and fed him some, making him a happy boy that shared ice cream flavored kisses.  "You're a great spoiler and I'm sorry you're sore."

"I'll live and so will you."  He took another kiss and then Xander went down to work him over.  "I don't have viagra, Xander."

"You don't need it."  He went back to having him with his mouth and three fingers inside him, making Horatio get as hard as he could and come, even though nothing came out.  "See?"  Horatio nodded and yawned, falling asleep.  Xander got the rest of the ice cream for himself, smiling as he licked off the spoon. "My turn next time."  He ate another bite and yawned, sliding down once he had scraped the carton clean.  He snuggled in. It had been a long day. A great day, he had been horribly spoiled, but still a long day.


Horatio opened the door. "Bess, Isabel.  Come in.  Xander's just out of the pool and getting redressed.  Xander, they're here," he called. He led them into the sitting room.   Xander came bouncing in.  "Let me get the food and the tea.  Ladies, tea?"

"Please," Isabel agreed, smiling at him.  He nodded and went to do that.  She smiled at Xander, accepting the kiss to her cheek. "You smell like you haven't showered."

"I didn't have time. I slept in this morning." He sat and winced a bit.  "Sorry."

"That's all right, dear, you're both very young.  Once upon a time I had many days I walked funny like your husband is."  Bess smiled at him.  "How is your swimming?"

"Slowly getting back up to speed.  My leg still aches now and then. I refractured it after the hurricane."

"I'm sorry," Isabel said.  "What happened?  All we knew was that Ray told me that you were horribly injured."

Xander nodded.  "Some rich guys wanted to hunt my cute butt.  Like on a safari hunt me.  He was softening me up first.  Beat the crap out of me."

"Xander," Bess chided.

Horatio came back. "He's right.  He had fractures in his arm and hand, which had been broken by Marisol during labor.  He got a broken leg, three broken ribs, that later turned into six.  He had bruises and cane marks on his back, arms, legs, and chest.  Then my adoring husband decided he refused to be babied so he escaped from the hospital while missing a week of memories so I couldn't take care of him."   Xander nodded at that.  The women stared at Xander.   "He hates being babied.  I ended up chasing him to New York to take care of him."  He served tea and sandwiches.  "Sorry, that's all we have that's not for the cookout later and marinating right now."

"No, this fine," Bess assured him.  "Xander?"

"I can baby others, I can fuss and spoil, but I hate it when I'm sick and someone does it back to me," he admitted.  "He spent two days reminding me that he was my husband and there to spoil and baby me. Then we came home and I got gay bashed in my old neighborhood by one of the cranky old guys who claimed I was ruining his retirement."  The women clucked at that and shook their heads.  "That's how three ribs broken turned into six and a bruise so bad they were worried about internal damage."  Horatio nodded at that.  He looked at the plate, then at him.  "Can I have a soda?"

"You're moving easier than I am."

"Point.  Excuse me for a minute, ladies.  Also, I think Danny's here."  He slowly got up and headed to get a soda, or two, and hand one to Danny when he let him in.  Danny just looked at him.  "You good?"


"You gonna die?"


"Got any care instructions?"

"He shot me on the ass."

"Ah."  Xander patted him on the cheek.  "Aren't those fun?  You can either crash next door or here."

"Mac said I'm yours or Don's faithful shadow until they find the guy.  I'm loving the frequent flier miles.  Room?"  Xander pointed at the stairs. "Please be joking."

"We haven't remade the bed since sex last night.  We've got the only room down here."

"Sex I can stand. It won't be a wet spot anymore.  Hey, everyone," he called, waving as he trudged that way. "You never saw me."

"Danny?" Horatio called.  He came back. "Are you all right?"

"Left glutius maximus gsw on the subway.  You tell me.  He said I can nap on your bed since I can't do stairs."

"Go ahead," Horatio agreed.  "Ignore anything odd."

"Oh, and watch out, I may have lost a spoon last night."  Danny gave him an odd look. "We had ice cream afterward."

"I don't want to know."  He walked that way.

"Aiden's in town."

"Tell her not to fuss or I'm popping her one."  He shooed the dogs out and collapsed, face down, into the soft bed.  Percy sniffed him but Lancelot laid down next to him. He patted him, then gave him a shove.  "Just let me die of embarrassment alone, guys.  Please?  Shoo.  Go bother the daddy."  They ran to find the daddies and sit very attentively.

"Good boys.  Go watch for the kids," Xander ordered.  They ran to the large front window to sit and stare outside. He curled into Horatio's side.  "Sorry, long day yesterday.  We did the arts and crafts fair before the picnic and then came home to some alone time and Horatio replacing the wardrobe I lost due to drain issues at the old bunker."

"I've had to do that a time or two myself," Bess promised.  "Would you show me around?"

"Of course."  He got up with a small open-eyed wince and led them on a tour of the house, letting them look everywhere but the bedroom.

"It's clear you meant this to be a home for your family, not a showpiece," Isabel praised.  "I'm sure the boys love their playroom."

"They love the playset out back more."  He walked them out onto the porch, making them smile. "This is the family's side."  He walked them around the side.  "If I have to throw something I'll do it on the side lawn."

"That's more than enough space for the smaller get-togethers, which is probably what you'd throw anyway," Bess agreed.  She looked at the pool and the diving tower.  "You even tried to camouflage it.  I'm impressed."

"I worried about cranky neighbors, but then they got busted for meth production.  We annexed that estate since it was pretty small.  That let me expand the yard and move the pool that way, plus the condo for the foundation's board was destroyed so they put up a small house over there for their use and have the rest of the estate.  I even let them buy it cheaply from me."  They smiled at that.  "Oh, should you hear about it, yes, I've got another present giving idiot from the west coast."  They nodded at that.  "You heard?"

"We heard rumors about a few sports cars and we know you like speed and excitement but you're not the sort to buy a car like that.  It's not practical."  Xander nodded at that.  "So, may we see?"

He led them back through the house to the garage and showed them the lam and the new porsche.  "Honey, there's a third car in here," he called. "Did you see a blood red jaguar last night?"

"no," drifted out of the house.

Xander groaned.  "We're not even sure how they got in considering we locked the gate."  They patted him on the back.  "Upstairs I managed to get both children's rooms the same then Willow, Taylor, and I each took a guest room to decorate.  By the way, are they going to stop against Willow?"  Isabel nodded at that.  "Thank you.  I'd hate to have to kick their asses for making her cry.  Her husband might get mad that I ruined his fun."  They laughed. "Not kidding."  He looked at them.  "When is the social and polo calendars coming out?" he asked, leading them back inside.  He found their teas refreshed and smiled at the new can of soda for him.  And his mate napping on the couch.  "Sorry."  He led them into the study with their tea and sandwiches, pulling out his appointment book. "I don't have anything past the Richmond's event."  He looked at them.  "Am I being excluded?"

"No, dear.  The guide comes out next week," Isabel assured him.  "You're coming to me to make sure of your events?"  He nodded.  "Is the Foundation throwing one?"

"Fifth year anniversary probably.  Then again that would be a gay rights event."  That got some nods. "Hmm.  Let's see, our fifth anniversary is next winter.  We might throw a small event but that might only be family.  I'm not really sure.  I'm not really into throwing parties for the sake of a party and the foundation doesn't need a fundraiser.  I'll help when asked."

"That's more than acceptable, Xander.  Now, I know you've been wanting to cut down some of your obligations.  I know Horatio's worried about some of the spoiled brats and the like.  Have you picked charities?" Bess asked as she pulled a chair over.  He got up to help her and get one for Isabel, earning a smile.  "This is a grand office."

"Thank you, I found it at auction."  He beamed.  "I think something scandalous must've happened on that big, huge desk of my husband's but he said I'm strange."  They laughed at that.  He leaned back.  "I'd like to stay on the library board.  I'd like to stay on the PD's event roster.  Any of the gay things are a must for me. Um, the Children's Hospital is one we all do because they've benefitted the family in the past."

"Yes, we heard something about another niece from Horatio's brother?"

"He's an asshole who was cheating on his wife.  Madison is a sweetheart and we try to keep it quiet," he said honestly.  "As far as the family's concerned, she is family.  Speaking of, I haven't seen her in two weeks."  He held up a finger and called.  "Suzie, Xander.  I'm *so* sorry.  We've been horrendously busy with everything.  I haven't had the chance to check in or come see Maddy.  We're having a family cookout today.  Want to bring her over to play with the dogs and everyone?"  He smiled. "Yelina will be, and she is pregnant, but you know she loves Madison.  Yeah, most of the family and the extended ones like Eric Delko and them.  Sure.  Please.  Pretty please?" he begged.  He smiled. "No, with the hurricane tearing up the old house and everything things have been *insane*.   I'm just now slowing down and they're working on rebuilding the crime lab so Horatio hasn't known which lab he's in any day he's worked.  Please?"  He frowned. "You can come too.  Otherwise I will come over and haul you out of your apartment and carry you back like some Flintstones person.  Please?"  He smiled.  "Thanks, love.  Two, three, somewhere around there.  It's a family thing.  Get here."  He laughed.  "Yup, our dogs, Eric's dogs probably.  Fank you.  Love you.  12 Sugar Cane Way.  Yup, that's us.  No, I traded up. It's got better security.  No, he won't be here.  He's in New York doing something.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Horatio, Maddy's coming with Suzie to the cookout," he called.  He looked at them.  "Sorry.  Had to do it when I thought of it.  I'm sorely lacking brains today."

Isabel giggled.  "After last night, I'm not surprised."  He blushed at that.  "It was fairly obvious since neither of you can walk, dear.  Anything else?  Library, Children's Hospital, gay events.  Polo probably."  He nodded at that.

"I do think it would be fitting if you went to the Morrison's event," Bess said grimly. "Even though they're bigots."

"Which is why I had a convenient seizure last year so I didn't have to go," he noted dryly.   She nodded, remembering that. "What are they throwing it for?"

"They're fairly popular in the New York scene."

"Then if Don's here I'll send him."  They smiled at that.  "By the way, he and Marisol are together.  They're very adorable.  They say they're even more adorable than Horatio and I."  They giggled at that.  "They are and he loves Tia like his own too."  That got a smile from Isabel.  "Anyone else I should go to that I'd rather punch instead?"

"Roosevelt Society."

"Hell no," he said bluntly.  "They're very anti-gay.  They're working to promote the anti- marriage amendment.  I'm sorry, I can't support that.  I'm sure they're nice but I'd rather stick dynamite up their asses and blow them up.  They stand for *everything* opposite that I am or have ever stood for."

"Agreeable," Bess decided.  "Anything arty that you like?"

"Ehhh.  I'm still wandering cluelessly in art.  I'm doing good to take my accounting classes that I need."  They nodded, understanding that.  "I appreciate art and music. I always have.  I sent a donation last year to the Children's Orchestra in the foundation's name."  They smiled at that.  "The same with the Children's Dance Company program."  They nodded at that.  "I can't stand cheerleaders, but we saw some of them perform."  They all shuddered at that.  "Wish I had more skill in that one but I'm not ready for that yet."

"Of course. You'll find out what you like and support them," she agreed.  She looked at Isabel.  "I know you had a suggestion."

"How is your riding coming?"

"I'm doing moderately well according to the guy teaching us.  I'm learning how to jump because I don't think I could play polo.  I'd rather tailgate at polo."  They laughed at that.  "At least I'm honest."  They nodded.  "Now, I do have to warn you.  We decided horses were non-cuddleable pets so I may not own one," he said, smiling at them.  That got a laugh from Bess.  "That was the decision. It won't cuddle me at night, I can't have it as a pet.  I do support the pound though.  I'm definitely doing the ASPCA event next month."

"There's one tonight," Isabel told him.  Xander shook his head, looking at his book. "You don't have it?"

"Nope.  Honey, why aren't we going to the ASPCA thing tonight?"

"They wanted to honor you and you're hiding," Horatio called back.

"Ah.  I knew there was a reason."  Bess burst out laughing at that.  "It's the truth, I'd rather be quiet about things.  Are there others you two suggest?"

"The Polo Cup is coming up.  They'll have a meet-and-greet," Isabel offered. "That's mostly for the most ardent sponsors. Those who ride and support the teams."

"The real fangirls."  That got a nod and a smile.  "We like to go and talk to people and watch.  I'm not allowed to have a pet that big."

"There's also the Mayor's Cup, which are boat races," Bess offered.

"I'm okay about boats.  Not my favorite thing.  Things like that, send to me or make a note to point it out to me, and we'll talk about going.  Horatio doesn't like me going alone.  There's been too many stalkers."  The gate buzzed and he checked the camera before letting them in.  "They're here."  He looked at them. "Suzie and Madison."  That got a smile.  He called Ray Jr.  "They're here.  Maddy and Suzie.  Of course you can bring Candace.  Tell her her mom's here and wondering if she was still alive."  He giggled and hung up. "She is but she's sunburned.  Ray had to beat someone off with a pool cue."  That got a giggle from her.  "I'm thinking he was serious.  There've been a few bullies down on the beach they like.  Ray probably caught his attack and turned it back on him, like I taught him."

"How about fencing, Xander?" Bess asked.  She pointed at the swords on the wall. "You obviously have an appreciation for the blade."

"I do.  I can see going to a few of those events maybe.  I'll definitely put that on my list of maybe."  She smiled and nodded at that.  "How did Rebecca's son do this year?"

"Fairly well.  About fifth on his team due to his back injury.  They're expecting him to come back to full shape again," Isabel told him.

"I hope he's healing better than I did. I refractured mine working with the kids."  Madison ran in and he hugged her.  "Oooh, I missed you."

"I missed you too."  She smiled at him then at the women. "Hi. I'm Madison. I'm six."

"You certainly are," Horatio agreed from the doorway.

"Horatio, dear, we already heard," Bess assured him.  She smiled at Madison.  "My name is Bess and this is Isabel. It's charming to meet you."

"It's a pleasure to meet you too, Bess and Isabel.  Are you marrying into the family too?"

"No, dear, these are two of the best women who look out for me at social events so I don't end up hitting someone for pinching me on the butt or doing something rude when I feel the need to."  She laughed at that.  "Go play with the dogs and I'll be *right* there."  She nodded, heading out with Horatio.  He looked at them.  "She is so brilliant."  They smiled at that.  "Anything else to put on my maybe list?"

"If you wouldn't mind thinking about it, there's a Historical and Preservation society.  They could probably use some young blood.  It might not be up your alley but your support would cheer them on.  They're mostly a lot of very old women."  Xander nodded. "Mrs. Yearns sits on that one.  I'll have her contact you about it?  And the fencing?"

"Sure. I'll think really hard about both of them," he promised, smiling at them.  They smiled back. "I should probably go avoid the kitchen.  Don't wanna poison the family," he said in sotto voice.  They laughed and gave him cheek kisses, then some to Horatio before leaving.  "Did you see the jaguar?"

"I looked after you called.  It's a nice car."

"It is, but I'm going to kill me a vampire," he assured him, stealing a kiss.  "Let's go play."  He headed back that way, picking up Madison and swinging her around.  "Come on, you can play with the dogs."  He took her out back and put her onto the porch.  "Go play."  She squealed and went to play with the dogs.  They could chase her nearly anywhere in the side yard with the way the run was set up. He smiled as Suzie came out. "Sorry."

"It's not a problem, Xander."  She kissed him on the cheek. "Who were they?"

"Two very nice society matrons who help me when I get stuck or go stupid."  She rolled her eyes.  "I've got to do it for the foundation."  He shrugged. "I'm down to the library board, the Children's Hospital, polo, and a few individual events.  Horatio, they wanted to suggest the Historical Society and fencing."

"Fencing should be up your alley with the swords around here.  The Historical Society are rabid about what they consider theirs.  We've had problems with them from a historical garden that had a crime scene, they didn't want us to touch any of the flowers."

"I said I'd consider it.  Mrs. Yearns is on that one."  He shrugged. "I said to have her contact me with information and I'd see." He snuck a kiss. "Rebecca's son hurt his back."

"Is he all right?"

"Expected to do okay and come back to his gymnastic's team."  He looked at Suzie.  "He's on the college team where I'm going to college.  Accounting 102 and Chem 1 again," he said dryly, saluting her with his soda.  She smiled at that.  "So, how is she?"

"Just fine.  They've cleared her totally now.  She's in full remission."  They both hugged her and Horatio went down to play with her.  "You make him happy."

"I try my best," he assured her quietly, looking at her.  "I bother you by being with him?"  She nodded.  "Sorry.  Tough but sorry."

"No, I understand.  Sometimes love is funny that way.  At least you've let him have Marisol on the side."

"No, that was only so we could have Tia.  She's dating my Uncle Don now."  She blinked at that. "Seriously. They'll be here too."  She shuddered. "It's family, Suzie.  All of us are family.  Even if I do still wanna kick Ray Sr.'s ass now and then."  He took a sip and looked out there, then got pounced form behind. "I didn't hear you come in," he teased, pulling Eric around to hug him. "Hi, Eric."  He beamed and waved at Suzie. "You remember Suzie, right?  Madison's mommy?"  He nodded and hugged her.  "Daddy Horatio is playing with Madison and the dogs."  He ran down there to help play with the dogs, sending his daddy back up to sit.

Eric watched him sit with a wince and gave him a knowing look. "Long night, boss?" he teased, going over to look at the grill.  "What can I do to help."

Xander looked around then at him.  "Who else came with you?"

"Momma and Poppi.  They're in the kitchen."  He looked at him.  "Ryan didn't have enough room in his car."  Xander nodded that could be a problem.  "So, sports cars?"

"And one since we locked the gate yesterday.  Eric, you remember Suzie, right?"

"I do," he agreed, shaking her hand.  "Relax, only my mother bites."  She giggled at that.  "What're you doing now?"

"I'm taking classes at the Junior College.  It's going okay so far."  Horatio smiled at that.

"And this is?" Mr. Delko said as he came out.

"This is Madison's mother, Suzie," Xander introduced.  "We hadn't checked in with her or Maddy in a while so I invited her out."

"Nice to meet you finally, my dear.  All the children and Marisol say wonderful things about your little girl."  She smiled at that.  "Much is said about her politeness and down- to-earth manner."

"Oooh, a new girlfriend?" Mrs. Delko asked.

"Madison's mother Suzie," Xander introduced.  He saw the look and raised an eyebrow. "She is family.  Speaking of, wanted to talk to you."

"Xander," Horatio warned.

"Yay."  He got up and drug her inside to 'talk' about his very pagan son suddenly being forced to say prayers at night.  Loudly.

Eric sighed and looked that way, then at his father.  "Can't you please stop her?  You know very well Eric's going to be like his daddy.  There's no way he's going to be Catholic.  Probably for the same reasons - the answers he'll be given won't suit how he sees the world.   We'll be lucky if Tia is.  They won't like her having two fathers and a mother."

"True.  Let me go stop that before she gets abusive as well."  He went to stop that, hissing in her ear.  She stomped off.  "Son."

"Tough.  Eric had a priest tell him he was evil because of us.  Damn well tough.  My son is not Catholic.  He's not being raised Catholic unless he decides he wants to go to church with Horatio.  Since he's not old enough to understand what church is, lay off."

"Agreed. He's too young for this talk."

"He's also too young for those priests of yours to attack him for having gay parents."

"True.  I'll talk with them myself this upcoming week."  Xander relaxed at that. "You're still hating that school, aren't you?"

"Yup.  I'm not foreseeing him being there over a week before there's problems."  He led him back outside.  "I'm sorry I was rude but Eric got told he was evil by a few priests recently for having us as parents."  He flopped back down and hissed.  "Shouldn't do that."

"Your ribs still hurt?" Eric asked.

"Exhaustive sex last night, Eric.  What you tried to walk in on?"

"Um, yeah, pushed that out of my head.  Thank you for reminding me why."  He went to get a drink.  "Who's in your bedroom?"

"Danny.  He got shot by someone on the subway due to a case."  He looked at Suzie.  "Really sorry. It's an ongoing argument."

"I understand.  A lot of churches wouldn't like you two to be together.  Taking it out on your children is wrong however."  They both nodded at that.   She looked at Horatio. "I wish I dared come to Tia's blessing."

"It's all right, I understood.  Our family is diverse and loud."

She nodded.  "Sometimes very loud."  Madison ran crying up to hug her. "What happened?  Did the dogs pounce you?"

"Mean man!" she cried, pointing.  Xander hopped up and went to stop their neighbor.  Eric and Horatio ran to stop him from killing him.  Fortunately the cops were let in by Ryan and the others showing up. Ryan waded in to help stop Xander.  He and Don got Xander into the kitchen, letting him rant and vent in private.  The others glared until the officers scraped him up and got him into a squad car.  Calleigh sat down with Suzie to ask what had happened and it was enough for one of the officer to think about wrecking his car on the way to the station.  He didn't but he did think about it.  Ryan called in a favor with the magistrate on duty, telling him what had happened and to whose kids.  That was all he needed with his registered sex offender status.  That one would not be getting bail.

Prestons showed up with Buffy in tow.  He nodded at Horatio when he answered the door. "Sir, I thought I should bring her back for the family event."  He looked at him, then at her, then back at him, letting them both inside.  "Are you sure?"

"It appears she likes you and she is one of Xander's friends.  That makes you an in-law of a sort," he assured him.  He walked him out.  "Family."

"Buffy," Willow said, getting up to hug her, seeing the wince.  "Man, and I thought Xander and Horatio both wincing that way was cute."  Buffy blushed bright red.

Prestons looked at her. "I'm sure you've done the same if your husband is in his right mind."

"More than once," Ryan assured him dryly. "Pull up a seat and a soda.  No alcohol around Xander."

"I understand.  I don't usually drink either."  He sat down and put her in his lap since her bruises conformed to that shape anyway.  He nodded at the few he didn't know.  "Ma'ams."

"I'm Aiden, Xander's adopted mom. This is Suzie, she's Madison's mommy.  Madison is the kid that you'd swear is Horatio's and isn't.  But that's okay because we like her and her mommy a hell of a lot more than we like her daddy."  Suzie blushed at that.

"Hear hear," Ray Jr. agreed dryly from his seat.  "Is he still hiding from us in New York?"  Aiden nodded. "Good."  He looked pleased with that. "Did we sort out the kid who looks like Xander issue?"

"Father's a shitbag," Xander noted dryly.  "His mother's anti-gay.  Tried to file a restraining order against me even seeing pictures of my half-brother.  I told the judge I wouldn't care until he was old enough to contact me and ask questions.  I did give her a rundown of the family illnesses just in case however."  That got a smile. "Sometimes it's important."

"Sometimes it is," Don agreed happily.  "Hey, Maddy, come see Tia.  She's Horatio's daughter."  She bounced up and cooed at the baby.  "Isn't she cute?"

"She is very cute."  She kissed him on the cheek and went back to playing with the dogs.

"She's a book girl, not a doll girl," Xander told him.  "We spoiled her with thousands of books while she was in the hospital."  Suzie nodded at that, cracking Ray up.  "He and Dad are just as responsible as I am."

"They are," Suzie agreed happily.  "She's still kept her favorites from the hospital and donated the rest."  They all smiled at that.  "I've got one special little girl."

"You do," Yelina agreed.  "Someday soon they'll have another sister to coo at."  Ray hugged his mother. "Thank you, son."  He grinned at her.  "I know, she'll look just like your uncle."

"Let's hope so."  He looked at his uncle as he came out with meat.  "Need help?"

"We only let Eric and Speed near the grill, Ray.  We know they won't poison us," Horatio said dryly.  "You spend way too much time with Xander to rule out that transferring as well."

"Yes, and you still got busted for feeding suspects my cooking," Xander said happily.  Prestons gaped at him. "A judge called it both cruel and unusual punishment."

"The only one who can eat his cooking is his son Eric," Ryan told him. "I can eat his jerky."  Buffy moaned at that.  "You had some?"

"I nearly had the runs while hunting one night.  Not a happy moment when you're trying to stake something and that bad feeling starts."  They smiled at that.  "Not funny," she pouted.

"They make medicine for that," Prestons reminded her.

"Yes, Bobby, they do, unfortunately I hadn't known I needed any.  Or that I needed batteries, because that's the other side effect of Xander's jerky."  Willow moaned and nodded at that.  "Is that why you have Lizzy?"

"No, anytime I got a food craving Ryan ate the jerky.  I was very tired while I was pregnant with Lizzy."  They all laughed at that.  "Remember, no more baby Willows and Ryans without the intervention of the Goddess," she noted firmly.  "No praying for it either," she said, glaring at Xander.

"There's plenty of babies around for me to spoil," he assured her.  "Give it five years and then we'll see."

Ryan shook his head. "Two is fine.  Really."  Xander sighed.  "Try that with Horatio in five years."

Horatio looked at him.  "It'd have to be within the group here."

"Don't look at me.  I'm infertile and loving it," Buffy assured him. "Calleigh?"

"Clamps.  Thankfully someone intelligent shrunk the potato chip bag clips to do tubes."  Speed nodded at that, shifting the baby to his other side.  "Put him into the playpen.  He's napped in there before."  He handed his son over and she put him into there.  Tia went in there too and she wiggled over to hug him.  "Awww."

"Yeah, say that when they start dating," Don teased.  "They're not related."

"Our child will be a celibate monk," she announced.

Speed looked at her. "I'm still his father.  He's still going for a Nobel prize.  With your luck, he'll be more wild than I *ever* was."   She shook her head.  "Yeah, some of that's got to be genetic."

"If he is, I'm definitely shipping him off to be a monk," she assured him.

"That's what the military school was created for," Prestons offered. "Worked wonders with me."

"He is Xander's little brother," Speed joked.  Prestons' eyes went wide at that.

"Not biologically and nothing you did made him gay," Calleigh assured him, patting him on the back.  Xander glared at her.  "Not meant like that."

"You know, you kid will end up *just* like me for that.  Only more of a flaming queen and he'll become the Goddess of Forensics. Probably with explosives."

"Are we channeling the Powers?" Willow asked.  He shook his head.  She sighed in relief.  "Oh, good.  Calleigh, did you know that these two men of ours last night worked out a plan of who was going to do what if they were killed?"

"No, I hadn't."

"Willow," Xander warned.  He looked up and muttered and the spell stopped.  "Better now."  He called Ethan.  "Was that you?" he asked patiently. "Thank you."  He got up and headed inside, going to grab something out of his desk.  He found Mrs. Delko in there.  "I don't care if you snoop," he told her.  She jumped.  He reached around her and pulled out a small box, finding what he wanted.  Then he went and stuck it in the oven and turned it on.  He went back to his seat, picking up the boys to cuddle. "Did you steal my seat?  Two such law abiding young men stealing seats," he teased, tickling them.  They giggled and ran off again.  "Go play in the castle."  They ran in there, Eric coming down to let the dogs free so they could play with them in there.  Two boys, Madison, and four dogs later it was crowded but fun.

"So, what did my lughead decide I'm to do if he dies?"

"Eric's going to be the favorite uncle, and you're to come hide with us for the next few months until you're ready to move on," Ryan told her.  "The same as I'll be sending Willow to you two if something happens to me.  Eric said you're both too scary for him to be more than a favorite uncle and source of dates."  Both he and Speed got smacked on the arm for that.  "Ow!" Ryan complained. "It's protective, in case something happens.  That way we know you're not alone."

"I'm not the computer, I'm not something you can bequeath."

Xander looked at her.  "Hey, at least you're not something that'll be snuck into my garage."  They all laughed at that.  "Seriously.  Blood red jag since last night."  They all stared.

"Can we take the lam for a drive?" Eric begged. "Please?"

Xander looked at him. "Only if you go to the bathroom first.  Eric does that same dance at times."  Bigger Eric grinned and took the keys from the wall and went to try it with Speed right beside him.

"No tickets," Horatio called.

"No street racing," Calleigh added.

"Where's the fun in that?" Ryan said dryly.  His wife looked at him. "What?"

"Are you high?"

"No, I'm I a good mood."  He grinned.  "I've got three days off next week due to the schedule and the DA strike."  She squealed and hugged him.  "Where are we going?"

"Out of Miami.  Orlando?"

"If you want," he promised, kissing her on the forehead.  "That means we'll have to steal the kids back."

"Well, yeah," she agreed, looking at Xander.  "Want us to steal Eric?"

"Nope.  We're going for New Years."  Horatio looked at him.  "Mom and I are going for New Years.  Dad said he'd try.  Eric said he didn't want to go.  Ryan said he was okay to work that week since he'd probably only have night magistrate duty and it'd be drunks on parade.  Calleigh we hadn't talked to yet.  You wanna come?"

"No.  No Disney.  Please no Disney."

"Okay.  So we're clear if you wanted to come, dear."  He looked at Willow. "Mystery giver is out in LA."


"Did dad supervise when Angel came in?"

Willow's eyes went wide. "He did?"  Ryan nodded.  She moaned.  "Let me guess, he called us little jealous kids again?"  Horatio and Ryan both nodded.  "I'm so going to stake him."

"He's doing good work," Buffy said firmly.

"So?  He still let Cordy come out here to torment me," Xander told her. She gave him a look. "Fine, I'll only stake him a little bit if he tries shit this time.  We're heading to LA to talk to my mystery gift giver."  Willow shuddered.  "It could be worse.  We're going to stop in and see Joyce."

"Remember to bring a stake," Aiden reminded him.

"Yes, mom.  And a crossbow if I can get it past airport security."  She smiled at that.  "I'll be a good boy."

"Thank you, baby."  She kissed him on the forehead.

"Is he your natural son, Aiden?" Prestons asked.

"Hell no, I made his parents go for a run for their lives," she said dryly, smirking at him. "Literally."  Buffy nodded quickly at that, so did Willow.  "Speed and I both made them leave town before we made sure they had a very painful death.  Xander kept me from actually stabbing them once."  Buffy nodded at that again.  "By the time I was gonna be done with them, I'd have had bait chunks to feed the local vampire population.  We'd have put little toothpicks in 'em and handed 'em out as free samples."

"She would have too," Buffy assured her new boyfriend.  "Aiden and Timmy adopted Xander and kinda adopted Willow. They were very fierce in the protection of their son.  The night Xander lost his virginity, Speed was there to let him talk about it.  Oh, Xander, fair warning. Faith is out of jail."

"Yay," he said flatly.  "Why me?"

"She won't try to kill you this time," Aiden offered.

"She had better not," Horatio offered, flipping a steak.  "These are starting to get done.  Someone go get plates and get Danny up.  Gently, Aiden, he was shot," he warned when she headed that way.

"Good shot or bad shot?"

Danny came out.  "I smelled food."  He glared at her.  "Bad shot.  I got shot in the ass on the subway by one of Sassone's guys."  She burst out laughing and he patted her on the head.  "I told 'em I'm married to you.  That way they come looking."  Xander handed him a pillow and he sat.  "Thanks, kid."

"Had sore ass syndrome many times," he said wisely.  "Had it this morning."  He patted him on the head.

"We get 'im?" Don asked.

Danny shrugged.  "How should I know?  Stella shoved my butt on a plane as soon as the doc snipped the last stitch.  Won't answer their cells either.  Message said that they're fine and all but working really hard."

"They're doing it to protect you," Horatio reminded him.

"I don't give a crap."

Suzie swatted him. "Do not swear like that in front of the kids!"

"Sorry.  I know Xander trained the kids to mentally beep those out."

"So!  It's still not good for them to hear about such things."

"Yes, ma'am.  You are?"

"Madison's mommy Suzie," Xander told him.

"Oh, yeah.  We saw Madison a few times with the pound thing."  She nodded at that.  He looked at Horatio. "Who's in the office?"

"Eric's mother," Xander told him.


"Other Eric."

Horatio handed Danny his fork and went to talk to her.  Don came over to take grill duties with Ryan since the other cooks in the family weren't back yet.  Calleigh came over to help.  She was a girl who knew her way around a grill.  Horatio also got to get the door when it was knocked on and scowled at the two CSI who were looking very guilty, taking charge of them.  Speeding at those speeds was something they would get lectured about later.


Xander walked off the plane and grimaced.  "Ooh, yay, it's night."  He looked at Horatio, smiling some.  "Come on."  He took his hand and walked him off to get his bag.  He found security there and nodded politely.  "Hi."  They found their bag and he lifted it, letting them check the tickets against the tag, then they had a short talk with Horatio.  "It's unstrung.  No chance of it firing," he defended.  "It's a showpiece, I'm bringing it to show an aunt."

"Do you collect weapons, sir?" one of them asked.  Xander dug out his wallet and his pictures of his sword collection.  The fact that he had one got a moan and they left it there.  He put his wallet back and let Horatio get the bag.  Xander smiled sweetly.  "See, told you there wasn't going to be a real problem."  Horatio sighed and followed him out to the taxi stands.  "Where did we park our butts?  I left you in charge of the hotel."

"Raddison.  I liked them best.  Downtown," he told the cabbie.  That got a nod and he took them off once they and their bag were inside.  He looked at his mate.  "What day were we going to see Joyce?"

"Um, day after tomorrow.  I figured tomorrow I'd go break bad on the guy sending me crap and it'll take most of tonight and tomorrow to locate him."

"That would be fine.  She was a very nice woman when she came out for Lizzy's baptism and blessing."  He stroked his cheek, getting a smile.  "We will behave?"

"Of course."  He beamed at him.  "Why wouldn't I?"

"Because your first instinct is to go annoy Angel into eating you."

"It'd mean I'd get to stake him."

"No, Xander.  We promised Buffy we wouldn't stake him this time."


"You guys know Angel?" the cabbie asked.

Xander looked at him.  "Yup, and yes, I realized that you have O Negative for breakfast.  I'm Harris, from Sunnydale."  The cabbie shuddered.  "We're in to conference on a vampire who seems to send me shit for no reason."

"How's Miami, sir?"

"Doing pretty well.  Pretty quiet since Mary Eileen stopped that stupid bit of fighting that Wolfram and Hart started."  He smiled at Horatio, who snuggled in to keep him from staking him.  "So, how've things been locally?"

"Pretty intense.  We had some large demons recently but Angel got them gone.  We're fully into our summer slowdown now.  Most of the smart ones head somewhere colder."

"I'm not surprised.  LA in the summer is like the outer ring of Hell," Xander agreed. They pulled up outside the Hyperion.  "Well, we were going to our hotel first."

"You'll probably want to stop in here first, sir.  There's a small convention at the Raddison this week.  Car salesman.  You'll have a headache."

"Okay.  Thank you."  He tipped him then they got out, grabbing the bag so they could walk inside.  Everyone stared at him, including some faces he didn't know.  "Had to pick up more staff, deadboy?"

"Harris," he moaned.

"Gee, you remember."  He smirked.  "You also can't seem to stop present-sending vampires.  How hard is it to stake him?"

"He's a bit older and tougher than I am."

"Yay.  Where might he be so we can face him down tomorrow?"

"I can arrange the meeting here," he offered dryly.  Xander stared at him.  "No, he's not causing problems for me and you staking him would cause problems.  Tough."

"Hmm.  And what about our problems in Miami?"

"Sell the things."

"You can only sell so many cars before you start being looked at for stealing them.  Oh, and the lam he sent, it was originally stolen.  We found that out."  Angel moaned at that.  "So, his dealer, whoever or whatever that may be since the Jag smells like brimstone, is a bit crooked."

"I'll let him know.  Where are you two staying?"

"Raddison," Horatio offered.  "Angel."

"Caine.  You didn't get to meet most of my team before.  This is Gunn.  Fred.  Wesley, who Xander probably knew."  Xander nodded and shook their hands.  "This is one of my annoyances from Sunnydale."

Xander looked at him.  "Buffy said we can't stake you this time."  Angel backed up. "Good idea," he said with a grin.  "So, Wes, how's the Watchery thing?  They free you when they died?"

"Indeed, just before actually."  He looked at him.  "How is Mary Eileen?"

"Doing pretty good in school.  Ethan's gotten fierce about that.  He's not letting her hunt alone.  Every now and then she calls to go hunting with us.  Willow doesn't go out much with her, just enough to stay in practice.  It's not the same since her powers were transferred over. She and I go out every few weeks to clean out the problems in the demon bars.  She's hunting in the teen clubs right now."

"Why?" Gunn asked.

"Because she's only twelve," Horatio told him.  That got a mass shudder.

"That's why we moved her down with us.  She's too damn young to handle Sunnydale herself and ...."  He looked around.  "What the fuck is that?"

"Xander," Horatio sighed.

"No, sniff.  Chanel.  Someone brought Cordy back?"  They all shook their heads. "We sure?"

"Anyanka's been popping in to annoy us," Wesley told him.

"Ah, my prom date," Xander sighed.  "How is her robotic Xander?"

"Quite well," Fred said happily. "He got taken away from her again because she wanted a vacation with him.  Apparently the higher demons didn't like that."  She grinned.  "So, which one are you?"

"Buffy's tagalong," Angel said dryly.

"With more staking than you had," Xander countered.  "Oh, and didn't I have to kick your ass about twice too?"  Angel went stiff at that.  He stared him down.  "I'm not the tagalong everyone thought, Angel.  Really."  He backed off at that.  "Nor am I now."

"No, now you're gifted like some prostitute," he noted dryly.  Xander lunged and Horatio stopped him.  "Couldn't get that out of him yet, Caine?"

Horatio let Xander go, watching as he attacked Angel.  He looked at Wesley.  "So, I hear you worked with the group a bit.  Speed and Aiden both said you were too new to the field to know what you were doing but you were trying.  Got any funny stories to tell about my mate?"

Wesley smiled. "I can probably pull a few out of thin air," he admitted. "We should stop them before someone gets injured."

"I saw him beat him before," he noted dryly. "Since then he's gained muscle, skill, and flexibility."  He got out of the way of Angel being pushed his way, pushing him back.  "The kids never tell us anything.  They have journals they won't allow us to see, probably for good reason, and Speed only tells us limited things when he thinks we should know.  Aiden never talks about anything but rescuing him and a few other things.  Speed does taunt him about the prom."  He caught Xander and steadied him back on his feet.  "Don't get too injured, Xander."

"Okay," he agreed, heading after him again.

"This is better than a street brawl," Gunn offered, shaking his head. "What's their beef?"

"Oh, Angelus tortured Xander a few times and Angel was terribly jealous of his part in Buffy's life.  Therefore he continuously put the boy down.  The boy stood up to him on a number of occasions and was the reason Angel went to hell that once.  Plus he managed to rescue Giles from Angelus and two other helpers we had from Angel while he was being deluded due to Buffy being deluded," Wesley told them.

"Oh.  Will he really hurt him?" Fred asked.  "We do kinda need him."

"Buffy made us promise we couldn't stake him this trip," Horatio told her. She smiled at that.  "Why is it that no one tells us these things?"

"Either they're trying hard not to dwell or they think it'll make you scared of them."

"I've seen Xander hunt."

"There are some finely honed instincts there.  He's one of the ones I regret not being able to help more.  He would've made a fantastic Watcher if we had gotten to him sooner.  As it was, Speed was very defensive of his son and kept us from trying to recruit him.  I do believe by sending him to you?"

"Possibly, though it wasn't mentioned."  He watched the boy and the vampire spar.  "Enough, boys," he called.  Xander fell back and Angel attacked.  Xander put him onto his back, reaching for a stake.  "Enough!"  Xander sighed and came back, leaning against his side.  "Thank you."   He kissed him on the forehead. "We can assure Buffy we didn't stake him."  He looked at Wesley, then back at his mate.  "Mind if I get stories from him?"

"If you want.  Wes, I've got to stop my fanclub out here.  Can you give me his address or set up a meeting or whatever?"

"Of course. Tomorrow?"

"Please.  The day after we're going to visit Joyce."  That got a smile.  "Oh, Buffy's got a new boyfriend.  Better for her than Angel ever was since he's human.  He's calming her down some and he's coming down from his semi-racist past.  He's an officer, he's talking with her about her choices.  She'll probably be transferring down there, either that or he'll somehow move to Sunnydale."  That got another smile.  "He's big, bald, and strong.  At the end of their first day together, they sparred and it came out a tie.  He kissed her and we got yelled at for letting them have foreplay that way in the park at a police department picnic."  Wesley smiled at that.  "We'll get Willow to send you pictures."

"That would be most charming.  Giles said you had a son now?"

"Yup, and a daughter."  He pulled out the pictures to show him.  "That's my Eric, and our Tia.  That's Willow's Toddy and Liz.  The littlest one is Speed and his girl Calleigh's son Thomas."  He beamed at that.  "Just born a few weeks ago.  All the other kids dote on him already.  I'm the one very hands-on father of the group."

"All the other parents complain that he keeps stealing their children," Horatio agreed dryly, making Fred giggle against Gunn's arm.  "He does.  We'll have Willow's children for a week before they get pushy."  He gave his husband a fond look.  "Now if only you and  Grandma didn't fight so often."

"She's being pushy.  She's been forcing Eric to say prayers at night.  Forcing.  He has no idea what they mean, which makes it disrespecting it.  So no."

"We're working on it, Xander."

"Not fast enough.  She's gonna be smacked if my son gets hurt from this or if she takes the dampening bracelets off the kids again.  She took off Lizzy's and Tia's, Horatio."

"Does Tia need one?"

"Yup, she's got the gift.  I'd rather have it on there so she doesn't get colic and destroy the house.  Plus it'll keep anything that hunts those with magic off her until she's older."

"Then I can agree with that," he assured him. "Can we weave Eric's onto his medic alert?"  Xander nodded.  "Even better.  The school can't protest that one."

"They can and they are.  I pointed out he needed his, they said no jewelry, no exceptions."  They shared a look. "He's going to the Arts and Sciences school."

"Yes, dear. If something happens at school we'll transfer him."

"Good."  He looked at Wesley again.  "Very strong Catholic family that's like extended family for us but she's driving me up the wall."

"Do you take Eric to Solstices?"

"I do to the main ones.  Since I'm not formally Wiccan I watch for the most part.  Last year he had a ball at the Yule Solstice.  All the kids ran around screaming and playing."  That got a smile.  "Willow's husband guarded us from PD interference too.  It was kinda nice.  This year he'll be going to Samhain with me.  Us if Horatio gets it off."

"I'll try."

"It'll be after most people are done for the day, dear.  So just try to come home on time that night."  He smiled.  "Besides, we'll probably be trick-or-treating that night as well."  That got another smile.  "I know, babies on a sugar rush.  But they enjoy the hell out of it."  He beamed at Wesley again.  "Even though Ethan's in town he's not adjusting Halloween for his own ends anymore.  I think he learned the lesson after making me stronger a few years back."  Angel got up with a groan.  "Did you guys send us stuff?  We got two big boxes with your address on them."

"No, that was sent by the law firm.  You probably shouldn't open them."

Horatio called Speed.  "Don't open the boxes from LA.  Who did?"  He grimaced.  "They're from Wolfram and Hart, Speed.  Oh, Wesley says hello.  He's working with Angel."  He smiled.  "He said hi back and he's going to get Willow and Buffy to save Mrs. Delko."

"Sure," Xander agreed.  "Didn't we put those in the closet?"

"She was snooping."

"You'd think she'd have stopped when she found the voodoo dolls I made of certain irritations."

"Yes, I remember pulling one out of the oven," Horatio said, staring him down.

"Then next time he won't be weaving spells on the group to make us lose cohesion.  Will he?" Xander asked sweetly.

"Hopefully he'd have learned that long ago.  He said it was his wife, Xander."

"I don't have any hair or skin from her.  I'll gather some next time," he quipped.  Horatio rolled his eyes.  "We should probably go to the hotel.  The vampire cabbie warned us they're having a car dealer convention."  He snorted.  "So we're off to see pushy, loud people and avoid them."  He smiled at them. "See you guys tomorrow."  He picked up the bag and took Horatio's hand to walk him off.

Gunn waited until he saw a cab pick them up.  "Okay, who was that again?  Because Angel never said the kid had skills."

"He's lucky," Angel said, rubbing his chest.  The brat had broken a few of his ribs.

Wesley looked at him then at Gunn.  "The boy has had skills.  A good many of them. He has no self esteem and Angel aided in that condition.  He's also had a fairly difficult life with his original family.  But he has always had skills.  He manages to hide them now and then.  Angel not seeing them was willful blindness since the boy stood up to him a great number of times."  He stared at Angel until he walked off muttering.

"Jealousy?" Gunn asked.

"Indeed.  Xander could romp and play with Buffy in the sun while he couldn't.  Xander shot back with annoying names like 'deadboy' and others."

"Sometimes what you want isn't what's good for you," Fred sighed.  "Like Cordy and Xander."  Wesley nodded quickly at that.

"She did?" Gunn asked.  Wesley nodded again then shuddered.  "That bad?"

"You've seen those relationships where one minute it's fighting and the next it's snogging?"  Gunn nodded slowly.  "That was them.  Then she'd use every opportunity to cut him down emotionally.   I believe Timothy wanted to tie weights to her feet and drop her in the harbor."

"At least he's okay now.  I don't get the whole older guy thing though."

Angel came back and shook his head.  "Caine can keep up with him.  He gets the predatory nature Xander tries to hide."  He looked at Wesley.  "Spike said he'd make a great vampire."

"I'm sure he would but then a great many others would be turned because Xander is the practical sort. That's why he's so excellent at battle plans."  Angel glared at that.  "They were his plans at graduation, Angel."

"Still wrong," he muttered as he walked off sipping his blood.  "I'm going to my office."

"Sure, you brood in peace," Fred agreed, smiling at his back.  She grinned at Wesley.  "So, is Xander nice? I remember Willow was nice from what Cordy said."

"She is.  Apparently she's settled into the life down there as well."

"It's good that they're happy and things are more secure down there," Gunn agreed. "I can see how they wanted out after three years."

"No, Timothy sent Xander to Miami, to Horatio from what I remember, to mentor him and to get him into college.  The Powers That Be said things would be worse if they didn't. That he'd be dead sometime this year after a severe injury and a few more world-ending emergencies."  Gunn grunted at that.  "He sent the boy down there without telling him why and Xander apparently ran away from them when they came back to save Timothy and Aiden from Buffy when she was being a bit delusional and panicking about her chances getting slimmer.  That's when he started stripping.  Which is why he gets presents.  People still want him, as did Angelus I would hesitate to suggest but it does appear that way, and they've sent him intolerable amounts of assorted pretty, expensive crap."

"Then Cordy got turned and went odd and she did it too," Fred reminded him.

"Exactly.  Plus the boy draws serial killers and stalkers at an alarming rate.  It's a good thing he's married into the police department down there."  Gunn gave him a look.  "Horatio Caine is the head of their crime lab.  Top in the country. They're working on rebuilding it after the hurricane hit it directly."

"Wow.  So his boy's not only really tough and smart, he's strong enough to hold Xander against those who want him?"  Wesley nodded.  "Why do they go after him?"

"We're not sure and Willow said something about an ability to be possessed but we're not sure.  Willow did say her husband was working on the allure of his stripping.  The boy didn't drink, didn't do drugs, didn't fall into the trap of many young strippers and end up...performing in the back rooms.  Yet he made enough money that his trust from his grandfather was nearly tripled."

"Wow," Fred said.  "Who was his grandfather?"

"Patrick Benis.  He and his Uncle Donald, who is from the NYPD, run the Benis Foundation."

"I've heard of them.  They're very strong in gay rights and do scholarships and research grants for gay men."

Gunn looked at her.  "Do they do lesbians?"

Wesley blushed.  "Xander told Willow that Patrick told him there were other organizations who handled those needs for them.  Patrick only supported men so therefore the foundation does."

"I guess that's okay.  Kinda sucks to be women though."

"Oh, we've got our own organizations," Fred assured him.  "One of my college roommates got two or three grants from one of them."  He smiled at her.  "Should we go cheer Angel up now?"

"No, let him sulk," Wesley advised. "He and Xander have never gotten along. Xander was very against his relationship with Miss Summers and that's why he tweaks him about his vampire state."  The door slammed open and he looked. "Spike," he said with a small snarl.  "Angel's in the office, let me get him."

He sniffed. "Boy's already been here then?" he smirked.  Wesley nodded. "Surprised he's still living.  His boy was here too?"

"Indeed," Wesley said calmly. "Angel, your childe is here."  He came out of his office and glared at Spike.  "He asked about Xander."

"I had him following the brats in Miami," he admitted.  "How are things?"

"Good.  Buffy's new boy is a former racist but he's coming down.  She made him cover his swastika today with something prettier.  He had her eight ways from Sunday.  She probably can't wear a swimsuit right now from the bruises on her bum."  He smirked at his sire's growl.  "The whelp introduced 'em.  Heard he knew who she was by reputation and name before.  He nearly bested her in a contest at a picnic from what I heard.  He's making her be a pretty girl instead of a tough one.  S'good for her for a change."

"Wonderful," Wesley said happily.  "Giles had been worried that she was still hunting after she lost her powers.  Speaking of, I should call him."

"Don't bother.  Military blokes have 'em.  Should warn the boy they've got his picture too."

"I can do that," Fred agreed, going to call their hotel and leave a message for them.

"Any other interesting news from Miami?" Wesley asked.

"Yup.  Bint's little girl?  Powerful brat.  So's the whelp's younger one.  His older one's just like him.  Looks just like him, acts just like him.  They said Harris is making all the other kids around him just like him.  Bintette'll be just like her mum."  He smirked at Angel.  "Another generation, only this time raised by Harris."

"So, another generation of people who'll call Angel deadboy?" Gunn teased.  Angel glared at him.  He laughed.  "You are."

"I'm not a boy."

"Poufter there hates him because his other side likes him," Spike said smugly. "Said he'd make a good master vampire."

"Well, with his grandfather's sire gifting him, that is a possibility," Wesley noted dryly.  "We need to set up the meeting."

"I did," Angel admitted.  "Here, ten."  He walked off again.  "Go away, Spike."

"But, Peaches, where's my reward," he called.

"Go away, Spike!"  He slammed his office door.

"That's gratitude.  I go brave the sun for him...."  Fred came out with a crossbow.  "Fine, wench."  He walked off smirking.  He would get to taunt everyone for at least a few more days. Watching the whelp and the bint were one of the most fun assignments he'd ever been given.  It gave him whole new realms of nightmare inducing, drink needing thoughts.


Thursday morning, Speed turned on the news in the estate's living room.  "I saw this last night and it's pinging a bad thought."  He turned it up and got out of the way.

Eric, Calleigh, Danny, and Aiden all listened to the reporter talk about a sudden case of mass food poisoning at a small military base in southern California.  One that had been rumored to have worked on some mind control experiments.  They all winced at the bad joke about making them *think* they had it that the newscaster let loose.

Aiden looked at him.  "The Initiative?"  Speed nodded. "You're sure?"

"I called our former boss.  He said it was them. They were looking for magic users.  He thinks he saw Xander in town."

"So, have we checked with their hotel?" Calleigh asked.

"Angel had them checked out and has their things," Speed told them.

"Which means the soon-to-be-dead-again one knew," Aiden said firmly.

"I think so.  Since last night it's went from sixty to over a hundred.  CDC can't get into the base to see why."

"Are the kids in danger?" Danny asked.  Speed and Aiden both nodded.  "Should we watch for Watchers or someone?"

"No, my mother likes to take off their blocking bracelets," Eric admitted dryly.  "Okay, I'm going to make Momma watch this and tell her what we know.  Personally I want her on the menopausal drugs."  He stood up and Speed stopped the recording, handing him the tape.  "Thanks.  Let me know if we're going back."

"See, I got a call at four this morning," Speed admitted.  "Xander's grandfather's sire is still alive.  Hence the blood red jag and the lam.  He swears the porsche wasn't him but he did say he had eaten them.  He got them out.  They're going to visit Jesse's parents in Mexico and then come back some other way to duck under the radar.  I told him to call Fornell."  That got some evil smirks and a cackle from Calleigh.  "Exactly.  So, we need to watch for them to come back.  We also have to watch for them to come for Aiden and I, or the kids."

"On it," Danny agreed.  "I'm a great babysitter."

"Deal," Speed agreed.  "Keeps Eric's mom from doing it until she's back to mental stability on the magic thing."  Eric nodded, going to gather the kids and bring them back to the house while his mother ranted.  "Big question.  Do we tell Willow and Buffy?"

"We'd have to tell Willow something; she was known to have it.  They could try for her even though hers is mostly gone," Aiden suggested.

"Point.  Do we tell her or Ryan?  Because she won't tell Ryan."

"Hmm.  Get them together and tell them?" Calleigh suggested.  "That way she can't duck out of the discussion.  I can find Prestons on shift today and let word slip to him so he can watch over Buffy since she's probably still in his bed.  Did that blond thug watching Xander leave to follow him to LA?"

"Yeah, that's Spike," Speed said dryly.  "Angel's childe."  He looked at Aiden.  "Together?"

"I still say I need to dig their journals out and give them back to the kids."  She looked at her hands, then at him.  "They've told them almost nothing and I can't without them."

"I've let some slip now and then.  Horatio knows it's bad.  He realizes what sort of combat history Xan has."  That got a nod from her.  "If you do, don't give it to her with Ryan present.  Let her make that choice.  He should know.  Before one of them turns Lizzy into her."

"She'll be brilliant but our boy's said repeatedly that they're not going to know more than how to protect themselves.  He's firm on that point.  He also knows Eric can't go to Sunnydale, ever."

"True.  I did tell him that.  Okay.  Dig them out and give it to the kids in private.  Together if you want but private between you two.  I've got Xander's other journal and he's not ready for it back yet."

"Does Horatio know you're keeping stuff from him?" Calleigh asked.

Speed looked at her.  "When Angel lost his soul, Xander faced him down.  Angelus liked Xander, a lot."  She shuddered at that.  "It's where his darker urges were worked out privately.  He's not ready for that yet."  He looked at Aiden again.  "I hate Sunnydale."

"Me too.  You going back this year?"

"I have to."  Someone pounded on the door and he went to get it.  "Buffy?"

"Ghosts."  She ran in and changed the channel.  They were doing a story on how a small town was full of what appeared to be ghosts, but no actual people.

He watched, seeing her mother.  He gave her a hug.  "It'll be okay.  Either they're out of phase or it doesn't look like they suffered."  She looked at him.  "It doesn't look like it.  They're happy and it seems like they don't realize it," he said gently.


"Buffy," Aiden said quietly, pulling her down next to her.  "Either way, they're safe and they appear to be happy.  Speed's gotta go back in a few months.  Or else we'll call the dead-one ourselves.  See if he can pierce it for your mom."  She nodded, giving her a helpless look.  "She's not in any danger that we can tell.  We'll call."

Speed turned the tv back, listening to them talk about the sudden and abrupt removal of the CDC from that base that was having the mass case of food poisoning.  They were now listed as missing.  He looked at Buffy.  "The Initiative according to our old boss," he said quietly.


"They wanted magic users," Speed told her.  "Xander was out there."

"He can't."

"He can," Aiden agreed.  "Not much but he helped hold the station together when it would've killed everyone inside."  Buffy shuddered and curled up against her.  "It'll be okay.  Speed, call the asshole."

He walked into the office, calling out there.  "Angel, Tim Speedle.  Yeah, I heard about the food poisoning.  Where are they?"  He raised an eyebrow. "That works for me.  Send their stuff back here to Miami.  I'll get it and put it up."  He made note of the shipping number and where they were. "Thanks.  Have you been watching this ghostly situation?  MSNBC."  He waited while he turned the tv over and watched it.  "We know Joyce is there, I saw her.  Buffy's in shock.  Either out of phase or dead. Yeah, please.  Call me here at Xander's.  No, I'm off right now. Thanks."  He hung up and walked back out, handing Aiden the information.  "They did make it out.  Xander poisoned them and the CDC walked them out to arrest them. One of them caught sight of the pens.  Horatio's with him."  He looked at Buffy.  "I told him about it, he's sending Wes and Gunn today."  She nodded quickly, hugging Aiden.  "It'll be okay."

"It won't be.  What about Xander?"

"They're in Mexico with Jesse's parents," Aiden told her.  "The Initiative had them and they got free with the food poisoning."

"Yeah, you never want Xander to cook," Calleigh said dryly.  They all snickered.  Eric came back with the kids, watching them head inside.  "Guys, in here."  They trooped in, Eric carrying Lizzy.  "You're so helpful."  He nodded and gave her a 'well' look just like his daddy used.  "You guys know Xander and Horatio are on vacation, right?"  They all nodded.  "It's going to be a few extra days and Danny said he's gonna watch you guys.  So you guys will be good for him?"

"What about daddy?" Toddy asked.

"He'll be here later," she assured him with a smile. "Auntie Aiden is taking them to lunch first."

He beamed at Aiden for that. "Playland?"

"If that's where they wanna go," she agreed, patting him on the head.  "For the day, why don't you guys go play in the playroom inside.  We'll bring the dogs in and you guys play inside since it's so hot."  They nodded and headed that way while Danny got the playpen put up for the two tots.

Eric leaned in.  "Anyone got a good reason why magic should be taught to them instead of ignored and suppressed?"

"You know that big crater in Russia from around the turn of the century?" Speed asked.  Eric moaned and nodded.  "That was a couple of kids who discovered they could do it without training."  Eric nodded once and went to tell that to his mother, who quit ranting and decided training was a good thing when he pointed out that they had at least four of them in the family and they could easily take out the state. Speed looked at Danny.  "I'll be here to help.  Calleigh, you wanna go tell Prestons?"  Buffy gave him an odd look.  "We figured you'd wanna try to call your mom and things."

"No, I'll tell him."  She got up.  "Can I get a ride?"

"Sure, Calleigh agreed.  She checked the clock.  "He's on days this week so he'll probably get lunch in an hour."  She looked her over.  "Scraped your knees?"

"In the driveway."  She went into Xander's room and really huge bathroom to clean them off and take off her pantyhose, then came out looking confused.  "Why do they need a bathroom like that?"

"Xander had Eric's father put one in like that at the last place," Speed offered. "Showering's a great way to beat the humidity."  She just nodded at that and left with her.  "Okay, we got a plan?"  Aiden nodded, going to find Ryan and Willow for lunch.  "We'll leave Don out of the loop for now.  It shouldn't bother him."

"Does Horatio use it since Tia has it or does Marisol?"

Speed looked at him.  "You know, I don't know."  He looked toward the office.  "Eric, is it in your family to use the gifts?"

"No.  Poppi said that he had an aunt once who had second sight but that's it."

"So it's gotta either be a fluke or in Horatio's lines.  Hmm, maybe we should talk to Ray Jr."

"He doesn't believe," Danny assured him.  "He ducks outta the room whenever Xander starts talking about it."

"That's fine."  Speed considered it.  That would explain how Horatio had known Ethan Rayne before Xander came to Miami.  "Okay.  Let's check the grounds.  Eric, go check on the place next door."

"Sure," came from the office.  He came out. "It's disturbing when you figure out your mother is human."  He walked out, going to think while he walked.

Speed nodded.  "I had that realization once."  He looked toward the kids' playroom.  "I said inside," he called.  They trooped back inside after bringing the dogs in.  All four dogs came in.  "Are Di and Taylor out of town?" he asked.

Danny shrugged.  "I only got here Sunday."

"Point."  He went to call them and tell them he had the kids for the next little while.  Taylor asked why so he told her someone was after Xander and he was in Mexico at the moment.  They'd be back soon and it was being fixed today.  She groaned and said she wouldn't tell Di.  To keep the kids safe.  Then she hung up.  "No, they're here.  Working but here."  He went to play with the bigger kids.  He got on better with them.  Danny was more liked for naps on than he was by the non-walking set.

Don walked in and slammed the door.  "Okay, I saw two things on Sunnydale.  What the fuck?" he called.

Danny looked at him.  "The food poisoning was where they had Xander and Horatio.  They're free.  The ghosts we're waiting to hear about."  He shrugged. "Anything from Mac?"

"Not yet.  I tried to call and got their voicemail. I called Sheldon and he said they've both been in the office working on the case."  He gave him a manly shoulder squeeze.  "It's not like they're sending you away to make you go away."

"Feels like it," Danny snorted.  He shifted and winced. "I hate being shot."

"Yeah, it's never fun."  He smiled at the kids. "There's my girl and my girl's cousin," he cooed, teasing the bellies.  They both smiled at him. "Good kids. You guys nap and cuddle.  The big people will be here."  They went back to cooing at each other and eventually went back to sleep.

Danny went into the office to call home.  Still the same voicemail.  He called Sheldon.  "Would you mind telling my lovers I'm feeling abandoned and pissed?" he asked dryly.  "Since they're not taking my calls or anyone else's."  He listened.  "So!  It's not my fault.  This keeps up and I'm moving down here."  He sighed.  "I know but I don't care. I'd be just as safe up there in the labs.  Not like we don't live together."  He groaned.  "Fine.  Thanks, Sheldon."  He hung up and went to sit down and watch the kids with Don and the news now and then to keep track of the situation.


Sheldon walked into the lab Mac and Stella were working in, closing the door.  "Lindsey, can we have a moment?"  She nodded, leaving them alone.  Stella looked at him once the door was closed again.  "You've made Danny paranoid and start to think about moving to Miami permanently.  He's feeling abandoned.  He pointed out, quite rightly, that you two could protect him easier up here.  So if you're breaking it off with him, you might want to be more straightforward this time since that's what he's thinking."

"It's not why we did it.  Horatio can protect him better.  We'd be distracted while protecting him."

"Horatio's in Mexico with Xander right now to get away from the Initiative, who had them both, and they're not going to be back in Miami for another few days. Right now they're probably guarding the kids.  And since the lab's closed until it's rebuilt and everyone's on part-time status....."

"They didn't need him to help work," Stella finished.  She sighed.  "We're not sending him away."

"Then I'd talk to your boy.  He thinks you are. Remember, Danny's not that secure in anything like a relationship."  Mac groaned at that.  "You guys have sent him away before to wear him out.  As my mother said, either get off the pot or piss, people.  You're on a last chance by the way he was sounding."

"I'll call him in a few minutes," Mac promised.

"He's at Xander's with most everyone.  By the way, you're still going to voicemail, Mac.  So's Stella."  He walked out, leaving it in their hands.

Mac looked at Stella.  "I know what I want," he said quietly.

"You've known what I want, Mac.  I made it pretty clear and obvious.  Even *she* got the clue this time," she hissed since Lindsey was coming back up the hall.  "I'm going to pull Danny back up here to do what I need to.  I don't care if I can't sit for the next six months."

He nodded. "Then we're agreed.  Make some arrangements?  We'll go pick him up in two days, talk to him tonight?"

"I can't arrange that sort of thing that fast."

"Of course you can. We'll go to Vegas as soon as we pick him up," he ordered quietly.  She nodded, leaving it there.  Lindsey came back in.  "Did you check with DNA?"

"I did, she's got a hit but it's not helping."  She handed it over.  "Is Danny in trouble with his switching time down in Miami?"

"He's not switching, we wanted them to watch him for us.  We forgot the lab down there was destroyed so he's got nothing to do," Stella told her.  "Don's on the switching program."  She got back to work on the analysis she was doing. "I'm running counter to that finding."

"So maybe he had the gun before our shooter," Mac admitted.  It was a lead.  They had been needing a lead.  "Tell him two days?"

"You sure you don't want to?" Stella asked.

"No, he'll take it as an order.  Go talk to him.  Tell him I'll call tonight."  She nodded, heading to his office to call Danny.  "We'll be gone this weekend, Lindsey.  I'll expect daily updates until we come back."

"Sure, Mac.  Where are you going?"

"Down to check on Danny. Give him an update."

"Okay."  She got back to work.  "He's not on the switching program?"

"No, we need him here," Mac told her.  "Unless someone from one of their labs wants to come up, I can't release any of you."

"Oh.  Okay."  She got back to work, thinking about that.  Danny was always down there.  She wasn't sure why he didn't stay with the way Mac and Stella were getting together.


Xander walked back into the house, finding Buffy pacing.  "They're out of phase," he told her, letting Horatio inside.  "We've got a letter for Willow.  She around?"  She nodded, pointing toward the kitchen.  "Okay.  They're out of phase.  It is magical.  We're not sure how to fix it, Buffy.   It's like the movie of Brigadoon at the moment."  She slumped.  "They're all fine, they don't realize that something's going on.  Angel had a demon contact that got through to your mom.  She said she's safe, she's happy, and it's all right.  They're all right. Angel's crew is working on it.  Wes is handling the magic."  She slumped and nodded.  He gave her a hug.  "She's safe and all right.  Most of the demons and vamps didn't make the switch," he said more quietly.  "They're safer now."  She nodded.  "He did say the college was only half gone.  You can pull your transcripts so you can transfer."

She nodded. "Thank you."  She went to call her boyfriend from the office.

Xander headed into the kitchen, finding Horatio having given Willow her letter.  "They're fine."


"Out of phase.  Most of the demons didn't make it over.  Wes talked to a demon who talked to Joyce for him.  They're safe and okay."  She smiled at that.  "Joyce and Giles were caught snuggling too."

"Creepy but okay."  She looked at him.  "What were you making?"

"Mashed potatoes."  He grinned.  "It got the attention to the base and got us out of there.  The others are gone too.  The college is only half gone.  Most of the base went.  The magic users still there should be enough if Giles wants to try something."  She nodded at that. "Anything good happen while we were gone?"

"We still can't fully potty train Toddy.  Eric's mother decided to ignore the magic stuff but she's not touching the bracelets."

"Good.  Anything else good?"

"Yeah, Eric's first day of school is not going to be happy by the auguries."  They shared a look.  "The other one starts when?"

"A week later."  He grinned.  "Is she relenting on that too?"

"Nope.  I don't know why the parents got involved. It should've been you and Horatio, plus Taylor and Di."

"Because she butted in," Ryan reminded her.  "She's an honorary grandmother.  She's getting pushy with that with Toddy too."

"Yes, but our son isn't being forced to pray."

"Eric had better not be again."  He looked at Horatio. "See, I knew I was right."

Horatio sighed.  "Xander."

"Fine.  We'll try."

"Thank you."  He gave him a gentle kiss. "Are we going to have this problem with Tia?"

"No, she'll go wherever Eric is."  Horatio gave him an amused look.  "That way they're together and he can watch out for his little sister. No discussion needed."

"Toddy and Lizzy are going wherever Eric ends up that makes him happy," Willow agreed.  Ryan coughed.  "Surely we won't have that problem."

"I'd like some input."

"The art and science school is a magnet school.  It's more project based.  They have recess, which the other doesn't.  They have naptime, which the other doesn't.  They have good teachers, small classes, and your kid's gotta pass the test.  He'll be able to.  I'll work on the potty training this weekend, Willow.  I had him nearly done and you guys took him home."

"Thanks, much appreciated," Ryan offered. "We've got him down to nights.  He decided pooping into the water was bad and that people would have to drink it like that.  We convinced him it wasn't so and he's better on that part now."

"I was planning on taking him to a water reclamation plant and letting him see how they did it."

"That might've been easier," Willow admitted. "One of them gives tours?"

"The one attached to the Children's Museum does."

"Ah."  Ryan smirked at that.  "He does like that place.  A lot."

"So we've got a Nobel prize winning chemist, a hacking AV tech, action boy field tech, and two princesses.  If we keep going, we'll have one full lab," Xander teased.

"Speed's Nobel winning chemist probably won't work in a lab.  He'll be too wild.  Our little  hacking AV and computer tech with specialties in electronics would probably like bomb squad better.  So maybe ATF instead. Your son, action boy field tech, will be hell on crime and a testament to his stepdaddy's careful training and his mommy's fashion sense.  Our two princesses will probably do something more mundane.  Maybe Lizzy will like DNA."

"Maybe Lizzy will like guns," Willow countered.

"No, that'll be action boy field tech," Ryan assured her with a grin.

Horatio shook his head. "Consider all our children in one lab, then the kids from New York and Vegas's labs joining them.  Probably under Eric by that point in time."  Ryan laughed at that.  "Exactly.  The city wouldn't be able to hold them.  We'd have music wars between any child of Nick's country music habit and Speed's or our son's metal music habit.  We'd have clothing wars within Eric.  A suit versus what his mother and other father wear."

"No, that'll be Toddy. He loves my leathers," Xander said, kissing him on the cheek.  "Hungry?"

"Make me some popcorn," he agreed, smiling at him.

"The really scary thing is that Sheldon's future kids would be the sane ones," Xander said happily.

"Yeah, because he'll never let you sit them," Willow assured him with a grin.  Ryan nudged her.  "What?"

"He won't get to indulge his plans for the trio's kids as often either."

"No, but they'll have Don and Danny.  Together they can make a Xander."  Horatio snickered at that.  "They can!"

"Speaking of, they're in Vegas right now," Ryan told them.  "Danny outright told them they were abandoning him, through Sheldon since they weren't answering their phones, and they came down to drag him off to marry his pitiful butt.  They were going to flip a coin to see who got the legal marriage with Stella."

"Whichever one won't cause the most problems at work?" Horatio suggested.

"Two level threes and a level two?" Ryan countered. Horatio nodded at that.  He took his bowl of popcorn from Xander, giving him a kiss.  "Aww."  He grinned. "Someone asked me if you two were going to renew your vows publically for your fifth anniversary."

"Nope," Xander told him.  "Not until it's fully legal."

Horatio looked at him.  "Did you want to renew them?"

"Not until it's fully legal."

"That's fine."  That had been Horatio's own statement about doing a larger one for the family.  "If you're sure."

"It'd be a social event.  I'm not up to throwing a social event."   He looked at him. "You were right about that.  Our private vows were enough for us and the family.  Next time it'll be legal."

"You guys could go to another country and do it there, where it is legal," Willow reminded them.

"It's still not legal back here," Xander pointed out.  "We could go to Canada and do that.  Or Spain."  He shrugged.  "We'd have to move there for it to be fully legal."

"How about," Horatio offered, pulling him closer so he could whisper in his ear.  "If you make the Olympics team, even as an alternate, we do it during that?" he whispered.  "The family will be there to watch you."

"What if I can't?" he asked, looking at him. "It still won't be legal."

"There are loopholes."  He smiled at him.  "If you can't make it, then we'll see about attending instead.  Maybe we'll go cheer on Eric."  Xander nodded, considering it.  Then he looked at him and nodded.  "You're sure? That's a lot of work."

"I know.  I'm trying right now, I can do that.  I need to get better."

"You could pick one area."

Xander shrugged.  "I'm not sure.  Let me do this year and then we'll see?"  Because that was a big commitment.  He didn't want to disappoint him or Eric that way.  "Please?"

"Of course.  You'll let me know before Nationals this year."  Xander nodded.  "If you go this year."

"I'm trying. I might only make it to State.  FSU's got an incredible butterfly person in my races."

"Then we'll see."  He smiled at him.  "Work on it with Eric, Xander."

"Yes, dear.  Where is he anyway?"

"Napping up in the race car room," Willow told him.

Xander nodded, heading that way to talk to him.  He tapped and walked in, curling up in front of him since he was still on his side.  "Horatio said if I make it to the next Olympics we're doing our vows publically for the family," he said quietly.  Eric hugged him.  "I need work."

"You do. You need a lot of work."  He kissed him on the forehead.  "Go get changed.  We'll see where you are now."

"Aching from my sunburn from Mexico."  He grimaced.  "They're in Baja."

"That's fine.  You can have him put on sunscreen."  Xander nodded and went to find his suit and change.  Eric yawned and got up, heading down to borrow one.  The best way to teach Xander new dives was to show him.  "Where did you put the safety lines?"

"The pole room."

Eric grimaced.  "Where?"  Xander came out of his bedroom and showed him.  Eric blinked at that, then shook his head.  "Go back to shaving, Xander."  He went back to shaving himself.  Eric closed the door firmly then went to clap Horatio on the back.  "You will never be bored."  He walked outside, going to warm up and do a few laps.  Xander jogged out a few minutes later. "Warm up.  Then let's do a lap.  We'll see where you're sitting."  Xander nodded, stretching and working himself up, then he took a spot on the block under the diving tower, jumping in at Eric's 'go!'.  He checked his waterproof stopwatch, shaking his head.  "You're slower."

"Sorry!"  He turned and tried another lap.

"Stop!"  Eric sighed and Xander swam over.  "Let's work on diving.  You're slower.  I don't know why.  You're doing distance race times for a sprint lap."

"So maybe I should go distance?"

"Maybe you should," he agreed.  "Let's work on your diving."  Xander nodded, getting out and heading to the one meter board, his usual one.  Eric watched as he dove, nodding.  "Better," he called when he surfaced.  "Now go up to my board, do an extra two turns and do it again."

Xander nodded, heading up higher to do that.  He calmed himself and did that, making Eric smile.  "Was that okay?  I felt odd."

"That's from the new height."  He swam over.  "You're switching to my board. Or possibly higher."  He patted him on the cheek.  "Concentrate on the diving."  Xander nodded, going to try that one again until it felt perfect to him.  "Do your next one you usually lead with," Eric called, coming out of the pool.  "Add another flip."  Xander nodded, going up to do that.  It did feel good.  He looked over his shoulder as Horatio watched from inside.  "We'll make your kid the swimming star," he offered.  Xander grinned at that.  He concentrated then did something he had seen another diver do.  "Warn me when you do that!" he called.  Xander got out and gave him a sheepish look.  "You rotate the other direction on that one.  It's more difficult so more points."  Xander nodded, going back up to try it that way.  It came out fine.  Eric smirked.  "I'm going to call the coaches to get the tapes. Swim for a few.  See if you can figure out why you're so slow."

"My ribs still twinge and so does my leg."

"Are we sure they're healed?"  Xander nodded.  "Perfectly sure?"

"Yeah, the x-rays before we left said so."

"We'll figure it out then."  Xander did his laps, distance swimming instead of speed laps.  Eric got up to go inside and call the college.  "It's Delko.  Can I borrow the higher diving charts for Harris?  Yeah.  I'm moving him up to five meters.  No, with his injuries earlier this year he's having trouble keeping speed up but his diving is better.  I'm going to focus on that this year.   Yeah.  That'd be fine.  Thanks.  I'll send someone up for it."  He hung up and called Speed since he was out.  "You busy?  A body in the canal and no one called me?"  He pouted. "Meany.  Couldn't you kick him in?  No, never mind."  He hung up and went to talk to Horatio.  "I need someone to pick up the diving charts for Xander from his old coaches."

"I can do that," Ryan agreed, getting up and grabbing the keys to Xander's porsche.  He loved to borrow the thing.  It purred so prettily.  He made it up to the college without a ticket, thankfully because his wife would kill him, and headed into the gym.  He smiled at the coach.  "Eric sent me."

"What happened to Harris this time?"

"He got the hell beaten out of him by someone who wanted to turn him into big game for a hunt.  Multiple broken bones and bruises.  He started out in four casts and ended up at the end with a broken leg, which he refractured right after the hurricane, and six broken ribs."  That got a wince.  "So he's diving but his swimming has been slow and steady."

"Fine."  He handed over the books.  "Those are copies.  I figured he'd want him to go higher."  Ryan grinned at that.  "What does he have where he's practicing?"

"It's in his yard.  He's got a five-lane olympic sized pool and a one and five meter board."  That got a smile.  "He complained about people leering at his speedos."  That got a laugh.  "Thank you for this.  They've got plans if they move on this year or next."  That got a gentle smile.  He left, going home.  He almost got a ticket but his badge and admitting he was borrowing the car from a friend for a spin for some errands only got him a smile and a warning.  He headed home more carefully and parked, bringing them inside.  He closed the gate and checked on the dogs.  They were in the shaded part of the porch watching the daddy dive.  He handed the books to Eric.  "Your copies."

"Thanks."  He whistled and Xander came over, letting him see the books. "Five meters is the big group.  Ten is better and smaller."  He opened that one, seeing the looks of awe.  "You'd need a higher tower."

"It expands."  He walked over and hit the button, which started a small motor and extended it up.  Eric looked impressed.  "I don't think it's quite ten meters."

"You plan ahead very well."  He looked up.  "I think it's nine.  That's fine.  That'll mean you'll definitely hit the pool properly at events."  Xander came back and mimicked the first one on the ground then went up to try it.  He landed on his back.  "Try again."  Xander rubbed the back of his head.  "Injured?"

"No.  Do I rotate clockwise or counter?"

"Counter."  Xander nodded, going up to do that instead.  This time it went better.  He was in the right position but not straight.  Then again, that's why they called it practice.


Xander walked into his son's school after the first day.  He smiled at his son since the teacher was busy with another parent.  "You color while we wait."  His son nodded and pulled out his coloring book and crayons. "You called me to come pick my son up instead of getting him from the bus?" he asked politely when she was done.  The teacher glared at him. "What?"

"Your son is hyper, rude, and a commotion."

"First, my son is not rude.  He's actually lauded on his manners in polite society."  She sneered.  "What did he do that you think is rude?"

"He interrupted the class to ask for a bathroom break."

He looked at his son.  "Did you say excuse me?"  He nodded.  He looked at the teacher. "That's not rude, that's polite to ask politely and to excuse yourself."

"We have set breaks."

"How long have you been dealing with children?" he sneered.  She huffed.  He walked to the door and smiled at a nearby teacher.  One he knew.  "Sister Margaret.  Can we please borrow you?"  She nodded, coming into the room.  "I know you've been a teacher now for umpteen billion years.  Eric and Marisol both said you taught them."  She smiled and nodded, apparently remembering them.  "Let this bitch tell you what my son did and please tell me if she's reasonable or not?"

"Of course, Mr. Harris."  She looked at the other teacher.  "Well?"

"He interrupted the class to ask for a bathroom break.  He's loud.  He's disruptive.  He doesn't pay attention.  And what is he doing now?  Who told you to color?" she demanded.

"I did," Xander said sharply.  "That means he's sitting quietly while you and I talk."

"That is not allowed in my classroom!  I make the rules in here."

Xander looked at the nun.  "I'm right and she's got severe control issues, right?"  She nodded.  "That's fine.  I want my son's records.  He's no longer going here."  She gave him a hot glare.  "I didn't want my son here in the first place thanks to your drug zombies and the habits you have of forcing faith down the non-Catholic kids' throats. Now, before I find my lawyer's number."  She stomped off. "How many accidents does she get?"

"Many.  Would you file a complaint?"

"Hell yes!  I refuse to have any kid done like that."  She smiled and brought him and Eric to the office once the little one had his backpack.  He smiled at his kid.  "We're going to the school I liked, kiddo.  You'll like it there.  They encourage coloring."  He smiled and ran back to get his picture, bringing it back to hand to the sister.

"Thank you, young man.  This is very pretty.  Someone obviously taught you very well how to color."

"Thank you.  My name's Eric."

"I'm Sister Margaret.   If you come back for church with your other father, you'll see me in Sunday School."   Eric looked at his father.

"We've decided he's making that decision for himself," Xander told her.  "Since I'm borderline Wiccan and his father's Catholic."

"That's perfectly understandable and the only reasonable solution.  Otherwise you get children who feel forced."  Xander nodded.  "You?"  He nodded again.  "I understand."  She let them into the office.  "Headmistress, Mr. Harris is here."

"Good.  I wanted to ask why you didn't send your son with his full medical records as ordered?"

"My doctor said you only needed that.  There's no way in hell I'm letting anyone be that nosy.  By the way, where is my son's medic alert bracelet?  You know, a medical necessity for a child with allergies to food?"  She gasped.  "Now."  She sighed and went to find it.  He looked at the nun. "You and the gym teacher are the only people in this school I've liked," he shared.  She smiled at that.  "If you feel you want to switch, he's going to the arts and sciences magnet school."

"I heard it's a good place," she agreed happily.  She smiled at Eric.  "You'll have a lot of fun there, Eric."  He beamed at that.  "Now, what did you do today?"

"She didn't like that I knew the answer to the math test while she was writing it.  She also didn't like that I had to go potty before lunch.  I'm still little."

"Most smart kindergarten teachers have a break at ten, then lunch, then mid-afternoon right before naps."

"They don't have naps in her classroom, or recess."

"That was thought to cut down on bullying," the sister told him.


"I know but that was a school-wide decision."  The headmistress came back with the files and a complaint form.  She pulled out another one so he could fill it out.  The headmistress looked hurt.  "He has a valid one.  She yelled at him for needing a bathroom break midmorning."

"And for knowing a math answer," Eric told her.  "Daddy, what are drug zombies?"

"You know all those kids in there who can't stay awake?  They're on the wrong medicines and that's the drug zombie look," he said patiently.  "That's why we're not putting you on any for being a normal child."  He finished writing out his report and reread it, then signed it and handed it over.  He looked at the other one.  "That's what *normal* children do," he noted patiently.  "Obviously the books you learned from were written by non-parents and non-experienced educators."  He took the files and looked at his son.  "Come on.  Let's go see Daddy.  The new lab is opening today."  Eric beamed and nodded.  He nodded at them.  "We'll be seeing you the next time his father talks him into coming, Sister Margaret.  I feel sorry for you having to deal with such stupid people who're ruining good kids."  He walked off with his son, taking him out to his car.  He nodded at another mother.   "Kindergarten?"

"Yup. You?"  He nodded.  "Where?"

"Try the office.  They're talking about the verbal spanking I just gave."  He got Eric into his seat then got in to drive, turning on the radio as he drove.  It wasn't that far from the lab so they were there fairly shortly.  He looked at his son.  "Remember to be polite since there's apparently reporters."  He nodded. "Don't mention the school stuff until we're in private."  They got out and he took his son's hand, locking the car with the remote.  He smiled at the guard.  "Back again?" he teased.

"You too?"

"Of course.  Post first day of horrible school."  He signed them in, ran his pass under the reader, getting a red line.  He looked.

"Flip it over, sir.  The bar reader is underneath."

Xander did that and they went upstairs together, smiling when they came out in the press milieu around the elevator.  "Excuse us."  He walked his son around them and toward the labs.  He caught Eric's eye and got a nod up toward the office so he headed that way.  He walked him up there, smiling when he saw Frank up there.  He handed over the complaint.  "I win."  He sat Eric down next to Frank.  "Children are only to have bathroom breaks at lunch," he mimicked.

"She had how many accidents per day in her class?" Frank asked.

"Probably most of them. They're still pretty little."  He looked at Horatio.  "You didn't tell me the teacher had control issues, dear."

"I didn't get to meet her."  He leaned back.  "Fine, he can go to your choice.  You can tell his mother."

He faxed it to Di.  Then he called.  "Get the fax.  He's switching to my choice.  She argues with me and I'm spanking her on the runway this month."  He hung up and looked at his son.  "We've got to call the other school tomorrow."  Eric cheered.  "Plus, they still have recess."  He grinned at Frank.  "Are you coming to the show this year?"

"I might.  Delko going?"  Xander nodded.  "How did she talk you two into it this year?"

"Boredom."  He looked at his mate.  "I thought you'd like to know now instead of being ambushed at home."

"Thank you."  He smiled at him. "Dinner is being ordered tonight?"

"Sure.  Just us or others?"

"Others.  Get something soothing.  It's been a long day."

"That's fine.  Come on, Eric.  We'll go pick up dinner."

"You're not cooking, right?"

"No, son, I won't cook anything," he sighed, taking his son back down to the car.  He saw the reporter leaning against it.  "What?"

"Wanted to know if the food poisoning suddenly out in California was your doing.  I heard they had you."

"No comment on the whole situation.  Would you mind getting off my car?"

"First day of school?"

"Yes, and the teacher's as big of a bitch as you are," Eric told her.  Xander looked down at him and he gave her a sheepish look.  "Sorry but you followed me to school this morning."

"Really?" Xander asked, sounding particularly interested.  She backed away.  "What did we say about leaving the kids alone?"  She backed up further.  "Sykes?"

"It wasn't him I was following. I was following his seatmate."

"Uh-huh. He's switching schools.  Don't try it again."  She nodded and ran off.  She turned her ankle in the parking lot and a cruiser had to stop suddenly to keep from running her over. "I didn't do that," Xander said, looking at his son.  "You?"

"No, daddy. I don't want her dead, just leaving you alone," he said quietly.  "Huh.  Is Auntie Willow here?"

"Yup.  I saw her in the break room."  He sighed.  "Okay.  She good?  She went for a run when I reminded her to leave our son alone."  The officer nodded. "Thanks."  He got Eric into the car and walked around to get in and drive.  He even backed out carefully.  "What do we want for supper?"


"I knew that.  Any particular type?" he asked patiently.

"Not a clue.  Are we eating with everyone?"


"The deli?"

"Okay."  He went that way and then stopped at the fish taco spot since his son liked them so much.   He pulled back into the house, finding Ryan waiting on him.  "We didn't make her trip."

"Pity, I wanted to."  He helped them carry in bags.  "Di called me swearing about you."

"Pity."  He put the food up.  "Staying for dinner?"  He nodded. "That's fine.  We figured it'd be most of you guys."  He handed his son a taco and pointed at the stools.  Ryan helped him up onto one and got him some milk.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  I was done for the day anyway."  He smiled at him.  "What happened?"

Xander handed over the complaint.  Ryan moaned.  "Yeah, so not a good thing."

"I'm hoping that's why Di was swearing."

His phone rang.  "Wolfe."  He listened.  "When did I schedule that?  No, that's fine.  I'm at Xander's.  I can be there in twenty."  He hung up and hugged them both.  "Late meeting with lawyers I don't remember scheduling."  He hurried out.

"Sounds like your mom's coming for dinner too," he noted dryly.  Eric laughed.  He pulled down some cocoa mix.  "We should call the other school."  He made them some cocoa and went to start the calling process. "Hi, this is Xander Harris.  My son hates the other place.  Can he still come in?  Eric.  Yup, that's us.  I know, he's got his mother's name.  No, we split it.  No, she liked the place where they refused him the right to go to the bathroom.  Or play.  Or color while we talked.  She threw a fit that I had him coloring while she and I talked.  Yeah, that one."  He sighed.  "That's fine.  I can make sure she does.  Can you fax them to me or do I already have them?  I've signed and she hasn't.  Then please fax me a set for her?  Thank you.  Of course.  Uniforms?  I can't remember."  He nodded. "That works.  Thank you."  He hung up and turned on the fax machine, gathering the forms off.  Di stormed in and he whistled, bringing her his way.  She sneered from the doorway.  "You saw the complaints."

"I did.  It's unreasonable...."

"It's not unreasonable to ask politely to go to the bathroom," he said firmly.  "Nor is it unreasonable to need your medic alert bracelet, Diana."  She shrank at that.  "They did both.  They wanted him on drugs when my doctor and the one you sent him to both said he's perfectly normal and bored."  She slumped some at that. "Now, sign."  He handed them over and put a pen on top. "He's going to a school with good test scores and even more importantly that the kids like going to.  That will make him be less bored.  Because the other teacher threw a *fit* when I told him to color quietly while she and I talked."

She sighed.  "This one hasn't been around for very long.  We don't know how it'll help him in college."

"He's in kindergarten!  He's got twelve more years.  Worry about that in high school; if I can afford it, he's going where Jr. went."  She nodded, reading over the forms and signing.  "Thank you."  He faxed them back and got a confirmation and first day instruction pages.  He faxed his medical sheet over then, and a copy of his medic alert number.  That got a 'thank you'.  "There, done."  He stood up and looked at her.  "We need to talk anyway," he said quietly.

"He's my son."

"And you haven't seen him in nearly a month," he noted quietly.  "Transfer primary custody over to us."  She slumped.  "We're doing it anyway.  You know all you have to do is call.  It's the same as it was before.  The only difference is that I'll have to give you the paperwork."  She nodded, grimacing.  "You're back in full swing, Di.  Hell, even your dogs live with us."

"I know.  I'm having troubles paying attention to Taylor, much less him," she admitted quietly, checking the hall.  She gave him a pitiful look.  "Are you sure Horatio won't mind?"

"No.  Why?"  He shrugged. "Whenever you want, Di."  She nodded, going to talk to their son.  He took a deep breath and listened for the crying to start.  He walked out there when it did.  "This means that you'll be here more often.  She'll have you whenever she wants and can handle it, Eric.  The same as now."  Eric looked at him. "It's exactly the same as right now but we're going to have sign paperwork.  That's the only difference."  He nodded, letting him hug him.  "Shh, my boy.  It's the same as it is.  I promise it is."  He nodded, resting against his shoulder.  "Okay?"

"Yup.  If Daddy Horatio won't mind."

"We can call and talk to him," Di promised.

"He'll be home tonight.  We'll talk about it after dinner."  Xander made his son look at him.  "For you it'll be exactly the same, Eric.  Nothing changes for you."


"Really.  I promise."  Eric smiled and nodded.  "Good boy."  He kissed him on the head and put him back onto his stool.  "Finish your snack."

"You'll make him fat."

"He had a long day."  He heard the door slam and looked over at Ryan.  "What?"

"They're trying to use me to take custody away from you."  He looked at him.  "And Di."

"Fat chance."

"The Roosevelt Society has filed a Social Services warrant."

"Let them come.  We're about to switch primary custody."  Di nodded.  "Can you write up the agreement without compromising yourself?"

"I can and Senior's here.  He's a notary."  He went to the office to do that.  He pulled the old forms up to modify them.  He let her sign them, then signed them as a witness.  He called Ray Senior to get him over as well.  Then he called the social worker he had just seen in his office.  "I've talked to Mr. Harris.  He said you're more than welcome to come out to his home any time you want."  He made a note.  "Thank you."  He hung up. "Xander, she's on her way out."

"That's fine.  The house is relatively clean."  He went to tidy up the playroom. He made sure the doorway to the weapons was closed.  When he heard the gate alarm he went to let her in, waiting out there.  Eric came running out.  "Just relax.  She's been sent by stupid people."


"Because they don't like gay people."

"Then they're really stupid."  He smiled at Ray Senior. "Hi.  Why are you here?"

"Ryan wanted me to come."  He walked around him. "Office?"

"Yup.  Thanks."   He smiled at the social worker he had worked with after the hurricane.  "Hi.  What was their problem besides that I'm gay?"

"You're gay."  She shook his hand. "Hello, Eric."

"Hi.  Did the stupid people at the school send you or other stupid people?"

"Eric," Di moaned.  She opened the door. "Come on in, please.  We've just gotten back and we were about to amend the custody agreement to give him primary custody."


"Because I've been very busy with work and haven't had time to spend with my son properly."  Eric nodded at that.  "I'm sorry, Eric.  Pretty soon it'll slow down again."

"Good."  He walked the social worker inside.  "Did you want some tea?"

"No thank you, Eric.  That's very polite of you to ask," she promised, smiling at him.  She looked around.  "My, weapons openly."

"He can't get them down," Xander promised, removing one.  You had to lift it up and then down.  "It's as close as a safety lock as you can get."  He put it back.  It clicked back into place.   "Besides, Eric knows about weapons."

"Eric is not old enough to touch weapons unless someone is breaking in and then I'm to hide somewhere and call one of the daddies or Uncles, or Aunties, and hope nothing comes near me," he recited.  "Daddy Horatio already took me to the range to show me what not to touch on guns."

"That's a very wise thing since he has to have one for work."  She smiled at the dogs.  "Yours?"

"The two mini-greyhounds are ours," Di admitted. "I can't even manage the time to spend with my fiance.  Much less take care of the dogs or our son."

"Then it's a wise decision.  Now, they said they heard you had some hidden rooms that Eric shouldn't ever see?  Including one with a pole?"

"It's locked," Xander said, showing it to her.  He looked at his son.  "Did you sneak in there once?"  He nodded.  "What did you think of it?"

"Dark and it was cute play area. But not for boys.  We have our own play room.  That's for daddy."

"It's also where my safety gear to try new dives is kept," Xander offered, letting her in there.  "As you can see, it locks.  Very well."

"It does."  She backed out and made the boy quit looking.  "Let's see his play room."  She followed him, smiling at the very nice room.  She tested something.

"Toddy helped me stack that," Eric told her. "We needed a slide indoors since it was raining so much."

"We've got a security camera trained in here from the office," Xander offered, unstacking them. "If you had told me, I would've gotten you two a slide."

"Can we have a slide for the pool?"

"We'll see."  That got a smile. "Ask your other father first."  He nodded.  "At dinner," he said when his son reached for the phone.

"He was only doing paperwork."  Xander gave him a look and he sighed.  "Yes, daddy."   The social worker snickered at that.  "What else would you like to see?"

"How about your room?"  He nodded and led her up there.  She smiled at his room and the nursery he showed her.  "They're very well done.  Does the younger one have nightmares?"

"No, she likes to crawl up onto the soft cube and pet the dragon," Xander said happily.  That got a smile and she went to look outside while he and Eric put the dogs onto the run.  "Before you can ask, the pool has alarm sensors.  The dogs and I both wear codes to it.  Eric and the kids do not.  If anything not wearing a code tag goes in, an alarm goes off that's loud enough to wake the neighbors on the next street as we found out last time one of their kids tried to sneak in.  They came to complain."

"I'm not allowed without an adult," Eric told her.

"That's a very wise rule.  Can you swim?"  He nodded.  "How well?" she asked Xander.  "I know you do swim professionally."

"He's good enough to move to intermediate classes," he admitted.  "We taught him when he was three.  Our friend's son Todd was the same way.  He knows the same rules when he's over."

"That's fine.  Where is your room?"  Xander pointed.  "Does that cause problems?"

"Tia's got an alarm if she heads for the stairs.  Plus the dogs like to pick her up and carry her around by the back of the neck of her shirts if she's in trouble.  She's with her mommy in New York at the moment."

"That's fine."  She smiled and looked around.  She saw the remains of a snack.  "Missed lunch?"

"His first day at school and the school was full of stupid people," he admitted, handing over the forms.   She grimaced.  "They have drug zombies."

"I've been there.  They do."  She looked at the new agreement, nodding at it.  "That seems reasonable."  She added her signature as a witness since it needed another one.  "I don't see a problem.  We don't have a problem with gay parents raising their own children.  The legislature was led by horrible folks when they said you couldn't adopt, but he's your own child and I don't see a single violation here."

"I consulted with people before I decorated," Xander admitted.  "Including the playset outside."  He looked at his son, who was giving him a begging look.  "Go."  He went to play outside. "If it starts to do more than drizzle, you come in."

"Yes, daddy."  He grinned at the lady. "Sorry, no play time."  He went to play with the dogs.

"He's a normal little boy," Di agreed.  Xander nodded. "He's done an excellent job with Eric and the other kids of our friends.  That's why he's the favorite babysitter."

"I can see it was done by the people in the Roosevelt Society.  Again.  They've tried this before."

Xander smiled sweetly. "This time they tried the wrong folk.  I'm in society.  They're so getting it tomorrow night."

She patted him on the arm.  "Be gentle, dear."

"Why?  They called you to take away my son for taking it up the ass," he noted dryly.  "That deserves retribution that makes them want to pray in my book.  No one touches my family."  She smiled at that. "Can you tell me which one originally made it?"

"No, just that the complaint stated he was dirty when he was drug by the arm into the police station and then back out."

"You can check the cameras.  I've had to do that once and it was because it was a problem.  Someone had snuck in and tried to drown him on us and patrol cars didn't come.  The guy got away while I was doing CPR."   She nodded, making notes of that.  "Horatio has that form and there's a few officers smarting from losing their badges."

"I'll make a note of that, Xander.  The rest of the security?"

"If and when I turn it on, it's full surrounding now."  She nodded.  "I'm doing that again."  She smiled at that.  "Thank you.  How is Harley with his new family?"

"They're wonderful.  They've got him calmed down and he's smiling and happy.  They're excellent to him."  He beamed at that.  "Thank you for your help with that."  He nodded.  "I'll leave you to plan and plot in peace.  Try to keep it down."

"Of course."  He smirked as he walked her out, finding Horatio pulling in.  "We might want to turn on the alarm, dear.  Someone turned us in to Social Services for having a son."

"I see.  Why?"  She handed over the complaint.  "That day was partially panic," he admitted. "I can have the tapes pulled if you want."

"No, not at this moment. I don't see a problem here."  She smiled.  "Have a nice night, Captain."  She got in and left.

Xander turned on the full alarm.  Eric came back in pouting.  "What?"

"I could use a nap."

"Then go nap."  He kissed him on the head.  "Maybe mommy would like to read to you?"  She nodded, taking him up to his room to do that.  He looked at Horatio. "I'm going to fry them tomorrow night."

"I didn't think you were going tomorrow."

"I am now."  He went to make that call.  "Mrs. Yearns, Xander Harris.  Yes, I just got that visit.  Would you know who I get to turn into mulch?"  He took down names. "Thank you, dear.  Oh, expect me tomorrow, dear.  I'll keep it out of the press and not upset anyone but they're going to be sorry for trying to hurt my son."  He smiled "Thank you, dear.  Of course."  He hung up and called Isabel.  "Fair warning, I'm destroying someone tomorrow.  Yup, them."  He hung up and went to find Horatio in the kitchen with all the forms.  "She agreed after some pouting," he said quietly when he saw what he was reading.

"Did you force it?"  Xander nodded.  "Why?"

"Because the school this morning didn't want to let me bring him because we only had visitation."  He moved closer.  "It's been two months since he's been there, Horatio.  Even her dogs live with us.  I assured her it's the same, only we have the paperwork now."  Horatio looked at him.  "All she has to do is ask."

"As long as it stays that way."  Xander nodded.  Horatio smiled and kissed him.  "The new school?"

"All the forms were done. They came to Ryan to get Eric taken."

"We'll go tomorrow."

"You've got to work."

"No, I have to work tomorrow but I can get free by the time the party starts."  He took another kiss.  "We're going."

"Yes, dear."  He smiled at him.  "I got deli stuff and there's a few fish tacos left if you're hungry."

"Thanks.  I saw the son's snack."

"I figured he had a trying day."  He went to check on the dogs, bringing them back inside since it was starting to rain harder.  Horatio took his snack upstairs to talk to Di and his son.  It wasn't quite forced but she had agreed to it.  He wouldn't say anything since she told him why it was a better idea.

Bigger Eric and the others came in and were mostly smiling.  Eric grinned at Ryan.  "Got free early to suck up dinner?"

"Actually, someone came to me to sign an order to take our nephew from Xander and Horatio for being gay."  All the smiles disappeared.  "The social worker agreed with Xander.  It's petty.  It's all good."

"Who might've done this?" Calleigh asked nicely.

Xander handed over the note.  "We'll be seeing them tomorrow."  He smiled sweetly.  Everyone shuddered.  "Oooh, Eric, I finally got that dive right."

"Good!  About time.  How was school?"   The complaints were handed over.  "Ah.  So he's going to the other place?"

"Starts Monday," Xander agreed happily.  "Di's upstairs with Horatio to read him a story.  He needed a nap."   Most of them went up to kiss him and talk to them.  Maybe Horatio could stop Xander, because otherwise it was going to be a massacre. A very bloody massacre.


Xander walked around the small gathering, finding two of his targets together.  He stopped behind one.  "I know what you did.  Did you realize that you're driving a car with stolen parts?  Or that your mistress is technically underage by state standards."  She went pale.  "You might mention those things.  I'm not putting up with attacks on my family.  Ever.  I tend to destroy things that come after my family.  Since I now consider you a *thing*, I'll have fun destroying you."  He moved on, smiling at the judge who was another one.  He smiled sweetly at him.  "So, what's this I hear about a new mare in your stables?" he asked.  The man looked clueless.  "I think she's called Daisy?"  His eyes went wide.  Xander leveled a glare at him.  Then he grinned again.  The man started to sweat.  "I believe you had something to do with a visit I got yesterday for no reason."

"You did drag him in there by the arm."

"Someone had snuck onto our property and to drown him.  Officers never responded.  That was panic on my part."  He shivered and stepped back.  "Remember, things who attack my family? I was trained to fight and eliminate them, now I do it socially," he said quietly.

"I sent them to Ryan."

"Then maybe he'll make me relent in your case.  The others?"  He snorted and sipped his champagne. "Pity."  He walked on, smiling at the hostess, kissing her on the cheek. "That's as naughty as I'll be tonight."  She nodded, relaxing.  He passed her a letter.  "Here, some things that some of the more popular gossip hogs should know."  She leveled a look at him.  "You know a few of them, Mrs. Yearns.   You have one on a leash."

"I do," she agreed.  "I wouldn't call them hogs," she noted quietly.

"They'll eat anything."  They shared a look.  "How about hound then?"

"More polite at least, Xander."

He sighed.  "They attacked my family.  Be thankful I'm not attacking physically.  That's how I was trained."

"I am thankful. A duel would be messy in here."  She looked around her gathering room then at him. "Is Eric all right?"

"Just fine and the social worker was very happy with him and the house.  The incident they were using was when someone snuck onto the grounds to try to kill him.  Which I now believe was one of them.  None of the people after me would want to touch my son.  My son makes me too happy for them to want to."  She nodded at that.  "Oh, I got told earlier they got a hit off one of the databases for who did it."  She looked horrified.  He stared her down.  "Yeah, they told me."  He faced her.  "Were you involved?" he asked quietly.

"Certainly not.  My son was.  He hates you for your lifestyle," she noted quietly.

"Horatio and someone will be here tomorrow.  Him to introduce since it happened to our son.  It's going to get messy.  I would personally suggest you sing and get them away from you so you're not tainted."  He had been given the same advice from her once about his past.  "I do wish you well in that endeavor.  You've been very nice to me but I can't let an attack on my family go.  Especially not one this serious.  He tried to drown my son."  She nodded, understanding that.   "As long as you weren't involved, I have nothing against you, Mrs. Yearns.  I never have."

"Thank you, Xander.  I wouldn't let this alone either.  Especially since he tried to kill your son."  She patted him on the wrist.  "Where is Horatio?"

"Coming in an hour.  He had to work a bit late tonight."

"I'll talk with him when he comes in."

"Thank you.  I find myself with a dreadful headache," he said at regular volume.  "I think I should go home."

"Of course, dear.  Thank you for coming at all.  I do hope you feel better."  He nodded and kissed her on the cheek then left.   She debated calling her son but this was going to be very bad on her.  He had said he was only going to scare him for daring to have a son with his husband.  Then again, she had never seen anything funny from Xander or Horatio, and Horatio was a well-respected member of the community, he always had been.  Her butler announced him but said that he wasn't properly attired.  She nodded, going out to meet with him in her private study.  "Horatio."

"Mrs. Yearns."  He looked at her.  "I know my spouse told you of our findings."

She nodded, sitting down.  "I know who ordered it.  Is there any way we can keep this quiet?"

"I can do the arrest quietly but that would be mostly up to your son and butler."  She flinched.  "The same as the other bigots you've got in the other room."  He sat down.  "I would very much like for them to take deals and go away quietly.  I doubt my family needs any more stress."

She nodded.  "Let me get them.  You can escort them out quietly?"

"If anyone asks, his car was noted by an accident and we need a statement.  We'll also need one of the ADA's you've got here."

"Of course.  ADA Hammra is here and looks quite uncomfortable."

"She's known to be hard on offenders," he warned.  She had always been nice to him and Xander.  He owed her that much.  Her son would still be going away for a long time.

"The only other one is Miss West.  Or the actual District Attorney."  He shrugged.  "He's among those who supported the action so they'd have one in the press as a rallying cry."

"I understand."   He stood up.  "Whichever you want."

"I'll get ADA Hammra."  She went to do that, then she found her son and butler in the kitchen. "Go to my office," she said quietly.  Her son looked at her.  "The police are here and if you embarrass me, I will disown you," she said firmly.  "Make them do this less than quietly and you will never recover."


"You're lucky.  Xander's first instinct was to attack physically.  Having his son drowned is not acceptable."


She slapped him.  "My office.  Now."  He walked that way.  She glared at the butler, who nodded and went.  "He has offered a deal."

"Thank you, ma'am.  I have enjoyed serving your family."  He bowed and went to take his rightful punishment.  Even though he knew the son was right in his case.  He lifted his chin as he walked in.

The ADA looked at them.  "First one who talks gets a deal.  I'm in a good mood tonight. Attempted murder of a child, premeditated attempted murder, is a capitol case in this state, gentlemen.  One of you can have twenty.  The rest get their lives if they're lucky."  She looked at the butler.  "You have the most to lose since you did it.  Forensics doesn't lie."

"I have served this family faithfully for nearly forty years," he said quietly. "I have defended it from intruders and gotten rid of them in the past."

Horatio looked at him.  "She asked us to do this quietly.  ADA Hammra, would you like to take this to the station?"

"Please, Captain.  Let's go.  If anyone asks, you were both witnesses to an accident.  She's asked for that much of a favor."  She walked them out to the waiting cars, watching as Horatio got in to head back with them.  She called her boss.  "Did you know about the attack on Caine's son?"  She grimaced.  "No, not that one, but thank you for telling me.  The one where he was nearly drowned."  She smirked. "Never mind, sir. I'll find out from my suspects."  She hung up and hurried up.  She walked in and looked at them.  "This was a conspiracy?"  The son groaned and put his head down.  "You tell me every single person involved and how they were involved and I'll give you ten years.  Your butler ten as well."  He looked at her.  "Full confession.  You went after the son of a police officer and nearly cost a young child his life."  Horatio handed her a tablet of paper and a pen.  "I would take it.  You'll be dead in prison.  This way I can decide to send you to a maximum security facility where the others can't get to you."  He looked at the butler.

"Remember your night in for the DUI your father got you off on?" Horatio asked quietly.  "Think about that for the rest of your life, only being up the hall with the real prisoners.  You're much too pretty to be left alone for long."  The man broke and started to write names.  "Thank you."  He looked at her. "I'll get the CSI more intimately involved in this case back here."  He shook her hand.  "Let me guess, you heard about the social services ploy?"

"I did.  I asked my boss if he had heard about the attack.  He mentioned that one.  What is your husband doing?"

"My husband watches people.  He studies them."  He smirked slightly.  "Plus, he has a lot of contacts in the less great parts of town."  He walked off, going to get Calleigh. "They're here. They're taking deals and writing down names."

She smiled. "Good."  She went that way, smiling and pulling out a picture of her son.  "That's the one who wanted to be like you so he kicked the snot out of me cheering you on."

She smiled at that.  "He is adorable.  What's his name?"

"Thomas.  He's just now rolling onto his stomach," she said proudly.

"Harris probably touches him too," the rich son sneered.

She smirked at him. "Considering Xander nearly went to jail for assaulting the child molester who came after his niece?  I doubt it.  I've known Xander since he was nineteen.  He's never been like that.  You've just unleashed his pent-up rage on the social circles."  The butler swallowed.  "Oh, you heard about his high school years?"  He nodded.  "That's now focused on those who attacked his family.  You'll be safe in jail."

He added a few more names and pushed it over. "The ones I knew about."

"Thank you."  She looked them over, noticing a few coworkers and judges.  "Conspiracy to commit murder of a child is not going to look good on their resumes.  Thank you.  You'll be arraigned in the morning.  We'll do the plea."

"Can we do it more quietly?"

"I could if I could get a judge that's not involved.  Unfortunately the only one off the top of my head is Wolfe.  Who is like a big brother to Harris."  They moaned. "That would give you a reason to appeal."

"Thompson, he's getting ready to retire but he's still on the bench," Calleigh offered.

"That's an excellent idea."  She moved out of the room to call him. "Your Honor, I know you're retiring, but I have need of an impartial judge to take a plea.  No, I'm being lenient," she admitted.  "They entered into a conspiracy to kill or take away the child of Horatio Caine and Xander Harris. Yes, Eric, sir.  It ended up with him nearly being drowned and now social services being called.  Please.  That's where I am.  Can I send a car over for you?  The person who tried and the person who admitted to giving the order to do so.  Ten years each.  They gave me a list of names you might need to see."  She nodded. "I'll send a cruiser over immediately, sir.  Thank you."  She hung up and looked around. "You," she snapped at the nearest officer.  "Go pick up Judge Thompson so he can arraign these two."  She nodded and took the address to go get him.  She moved back to look over the list again, gauging who to pick up tonight and who would still be in the city tomorrow.  She handed it to Calleigh.  "Find me links so I can question them."  A new folder was handed over.  "Who did this come from?"

"Xander.  He used some of his former contacts in the less than pretty side of Miami."

She looked through it, mentally revising her list.  "Have officers waiting to pick up these ones," she said, starring their names on the list.  "My boss as well."  She nodded, going to pass on that order.  "Tell them why.  That way they can't be nice."  Calleigh smirked and did just that once she had addresses.  She looked at them.  "Smartest move you made."  She looked over as the judge came in, nodding at him.  "This one," she said, pointing at the butler, "CSI can prove tried to murder Caine's stepson.  The other one gave the orders and rolled over."

"Do we have proof?"

"I'll confess," he said quietly, staring at the table.  "My mother will be horribly embarrassed because of this stupidity."  He looked up. "He still shouldn't have access to a child, he's *gay*."

"According to the FBI most child molesters are straight," Hammra told him, making him wince.  "Exactly.  Beyond the fact that I'm pretty sure Caine or the others around them would know if something like that was going on.  By the way, Xander's not that sort.  He was physically abused as a child, not sexually.  That's why his first thought was explosives."  He sobbed at that.  "You're bringing down the name of a family that's been great and special for generations.  You'd better be thankful your sister can marry out of hers."  He nodded.   She looked at the judge, handing over the list. "In return for ten years he listed everyone in this conspiracy and the one to send social services after them the other day.  I'm sure Horatio can get a report from her saying it was all clear."

"I checked behind the scenes.  She praised them and how Xander was handling being a father."  He looked at them.  "Ten years?  You're sure?"

"I am. One's old.  The other's too weak.  He'd die at twenty.  Plus, with the names on this list, we'll need him in the new super max so that he won't be approached.  Caine was right.  He's too pretty. He'll need a protector if he's not."

"Fine."  He sat down to fill out the paperwork.  "I'll need a court reporter."

"Let me get you one, sir."  She went to arrange one, finding Horatio had one and the reports.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  I don't like this.  This is why I wanted Xander to cut back his social obligations."

"I understand.  There's going to be some housecleaning in a few places, Horatio.  Especially since my boss in on that list.  The only one I'm not surprised at is West isn't on it."

"She wants the lab, not me personally."  That got a nod and she went back in there with the reporter.

Horatio watched as more came in, staring them down.  A few shuddered.  A few lifted their chins.  A few started to cry.  He watched as one after another led the way back to the originators of the conspiracy.  A few even offered evidence for leniency.  Only one didn't crack and said he'd take life since gays shouldn't have children.  The judge agreed and sentenced him to be held without bail since they had tried to kill said child.  By the time Horatio got home, he was the only one who hadn't taken a deal to keep their families' reputations out of this.  Xander snuggled into his arms, sniffling.  "Shh.  We ended it.  We got the person who tried to hurt Eric and they made deals to name names.  They're all going away," he soothed.  Xander nodded, curling up on his chest.  "I've got you and he's safe."  Xander relaxed and let him handle it.


Bess parked in Xander's driveway the next morning, getting out of the back of the car while her driver waited.  She saw someone doing a dive and headed for the pool area.  Xander came out and gave her a curious look.  "Xander...."

"They tried to kill my son.  They tried to have social services take my son as well, Bess.  Be thankful they're alive."  He got out of the pool.  "Horatio was nice enough to keep it quiet."

"He did.  That was very nice of him.  How is Eric?"

"They tried to drown him.  He recovered and we've helped him through the nightmares.  He understands that bigots like that are stupid and scared.  I assured him we'd get the people who hurt him and the lab did."

"They did."  She smiled at him.  "Are you all right?"

"Yes, and I'm not cutting back. I don't care if I am shunned."

"Some will, some won't.  It will be a rough few months.  I know Rebecca was stunned that her husband had been asked to be in on it.  Thankfully he turned it down."  She moved closer to kiss him on the cheek.  "Your son is fine.  The other members of the society are cowering."  Xander nodded. "Are you satisfied?"

"I'd rather see them choked like my son was," he said plainly.  She nodded at that.  "As long as they go to jail I'll be satisfied enough."

"Thank you, Xander.  I'll try to manage some spin."

"Let it lay, Bess.  This is messy and nasty business.  If anyone asks, they tried to kill my son.  Tell them they should be lucky I didn't find their meeting area and blow them the hell up.  Because anyone who comes near my son is toast."

"I agree.  I'll let that be known.  Are you coming later today?"  He shook his head.  "Why not?"

"I've got a meet this afternoon."  She smiled at that.  "I need to be more calm for that really."  She nodded. "I'll be fine.  Thank you for sticking up for me, Bess.  I told Mrs. Yearns her son's stupidity wasn't hers and I knew that."  She relaxed.  "I didn't want to shake up everything."

"I know, Xander.  It'll be fine."  She patted him on the chest.  "You calm down and snog Horatio into a better mood as well."  He nodded, smiling at that advice. "Good boy."  She left, going to get her car.  She found Horatio leaning against it.  "Going to his meet?"

"I am.  I'm looking forward to seeing him at the Worlds this year."  He opened her door.  "Did you upset him?"

"No, I told him I'd let the truth come out fully.  They tried to harm your son.  He had no intention of putting a tenth of us away but in the fight to find who hurt him they came to light as well."  He nodded.  "Thank you, Horatio, and do come to the next polo match."

"If I can. I'm on Saturday."  She smiled and nodded, getting in and heading off.  He went to calm Xander down, watching him walk laps around the pool.  He pulled him in for a kiss, making him relax against his chest.  He could change, Xander was more important. "He's safely at school," he reminded him quietly.  "You need to get back into the proper mindset.  I need you ready to show off and wow people, Xander."  He smiled and nodded, hugging him.  "I've got the family, you do what you need to so we go to Japan this year and Spain next year."  Xander gave him a look. "I've got us.   You do this.  Make me proud and wet watching you dive."  He took a deep kiss.  "Go, show off for me." Xander got up onto his board and did one of the harder ones he was working on perfecting, making Horatio smile.  "Good job!"

"Still a bit off perfect but getting better," he offered.  He climbed out and looked at his mate's watch.  "We should get ready."  He ran inside to get his other suit out and a towel, plus something to wear there and home.  Horatio came in to change his suit.  He even drove them over in the hummer. Xander walked up to the desk. "Harris, Xander.  Diving.  Five and ten meters."  She smiled and signed him in, handing him a number.  "Thank you.  My spouse and cheering section?"  She pointed for Horatio's benefit once she had taken his ticket fee.  "Thank you."  He looked at him and took one last kiss, giving him a cocky smile.  "I'll see you in a few hours."  He walked into the changing area, nodding at those he knew.

"Swimming and diving?" someone called.

"Diving only.  Five and ten meters."  That got a whistle.  "I needed more room and I'm still suffering after the beating late last year."  He got changed and locked his bag into his locker with the lock he carried. He grabbed his towel and went out to stretch.  He nodded at the coaches he knew.  He stopped in front of his old diving coach.  "I won't make it swimming this year and possibly not next with the injuries over the last year.  I am planning on making it diving.  So is Eric.  Can we coopt you if we do?"  That got a smirk and a nod.  "Thank you.  By the way, we make it next year and we're doing our vows for the family in a place where it's legal."  The coach laughed as he walked off.

"That is a goal," he called after him.  "What're you doing?"

"Five and ten.  I needed more room to be magnificent."  He smirked and took his spot.  He went back to stretching.  This year he wasn't cramping but he felt kinda slow and sluggish.  He popped his neck and back, then he dropped into the right mindset.  He was feeling happy and glowy, but he had to drop back into tight and precision mode.  He smiled at Horatio then let himself drop since he was there.  His name was called and he handed in his intended routines.  The judges nodded so he went to the five meter board.  The announcer said 'ten' and he shrugged and went up with a wry grin.  He dropped into the comfy mental spot and dove.

The End.  End Series.