Xander looked out as someone knocked on the condo's door, opening it to find his 'nephew' Ray Jr. standing there. "It's hot, get in here before all the air conditioning escapes." The kid walked in and he glanced behind them shut it again. "What's up? Horatio's still working today."
"I'm having issues."
"We've all got issues, Ray, it depends on what yours are if I can help." He led him back into the kitchen, taking out his slightly burnt popcorn from the microwave. "Gotta remember the popcorn button is half a minute too much," he complained, opening it and pouring it into a bowl. "What's wrong?"
"Well....." He looked around then looked at him. "You know how mom and I had all those talks, right?" Xander nodded, he had helped with some of them while trying to figure out if he wanted to go after Horatio. "Well..." He shifted some.
"Spit it out. We didn't cover something, we didn't cover enough of something? You had further questions and she's freaking out about the subject?"
"I've got other questions, she's freaking out and doesn't understand why I want to know, she's refusing to talk to me at the moment."
"Ah. Okay. Well, if I can help, I will."
"I think maybe I might have to go to Uncle Horatio for this. It's, um, about the odd stuff. Not stuff like you and he do."
Xander grinned at the younger kid. "You'd be surprised at what I know and have seen, Ray. Come on, let's go onto the back porch to talk. Maybe I can help." Ray nodded and got them something to drink, following his uncle's mate out there. They settled in at the table and got comfortable, feet up on the spare seats. "Okay, what strange and unusual sex practice did you want to know about?"
"Um, well.... Someone, we're doing sex ed in school and the teacher's so conservative she's telling the kids that having sex before marriage is evil. Big surprise, I'm in a catholic run school, but still. One kid brought up the fact that some priests flagellate themselves for sins, like lust. She got a shocked look and stomped out, then the kid got up and gave the *real* sex talk, like I know I would." Xander grinned at that. "Well, he's got detention for it, but his mother congratulated him and offered to talk to any of the kids who were still confused and who had parents who couldn't. Anyway, one of the kids asked about...other stuff."
"Other stuff like liking dead people other stuff or other stuff like liking whips other stuff or like water play or what? There's tons of stuff that fits under 'other stuff', Ray. Some of it harder and more obscure than others."
"Well, I was wondering. I don't understand why someone would let someone else have control over them that way."
Xander considered it. "Okay, most of the people I know who do this, and I know a very few, are people like your uncle. They've got a life that gives them stress. Now this is only one sort of person that goes for this stuff, there's others who've wanted it from day one when they figured out which sex they liked. There're ones who go to it for healing after bad things happened because that's all they can relate to. All I personally know is the guys who go for stress relief. Basically, they go so they don't have to be the one making a decision, making a single thing happen, they're not in command or in control, all they are is experiencing and floating. They don't have the power to do anything but sit or lay there and take it." Ray nodded quickly at that, blushing a bit. "Now, again, that's not all there is to it but that's the only sort I know." He sipped his milk and ate a piece of popcorn. "Eat some of this for me." He pushed the bowl closer.
"As far as anyone can figure out, according to my textbooks and Tim, attraction and what you find sexy is part biological and part psychological. Some people into some of the worst things are pushed that way, but a few have been tested and found that nothing else cranks their engine. There's a huge debate about whether or not you can do anything with them but lock them up if it's partially biological. Then again you've got people reliving their abuse by hurting others and they can't refute that but you can't really stop it once it starts from what I've been able to see. Which may be a narrow viewpoint. Right now, I'm refining your questions for your uncle." That got a nod and a giggle. "Let's face it, I don't know it all. I never claimed to know it all. Hell, I hadn't even thought about guys until I moved to Miami. Then your uncle kinda took over my brain and my possessed sides and made it whimper in lust."
"Good to know," Eric said as he joined them. "Horatio said to come check on you since the phone's off?"
"No, the phone is broken. Little Eric used it as a drum earlier and ripped it apart. I haven't had the opportunity to get a new one yet since, well, car's in the shop at the moment."
"Ah." He nodded and looked at Ray. "It's one of those complicated subjects, kid. I'm headed back if you want to talk to him now. He's being bored doing paperwork for annual reviews."
"I don't want to take him away from work."
"Please, take him away from work," Xander said dryly. "He'll thank you for it." Ray grinned at that. "This is one of those cases where the whole is so vast and complex no one knows everything. All you can do is gauge your own responses and see if it suits you. If so, you and I and your uncle will find a way around your mother for you to try stuff out *safely*. Because if you got hurt doing stupid shit like that, I'll be right behind your uncle to kick your ass and hide it from your mom. Got me here, Ray?"
"Yes, Xander. Thank you." He gave him a hug and looked at Eric. "Are you sure I can get a ride?"
"I'm sure. Xander, want one to the station to take the hummer?"
"Horatio would paddle my ass until I couldn't sit down if I drove the hummer," he teased. "You know that."
"Point. What happened to your car?"
"The flat that I got the last time I popped in to bring him something was also sugar in the gas tank." Eric hissed at that. "So it's in the shop again." He shrugged. "I could go buy a new car but Horatio would get mad at me for that."
"Then what's the sports car in the driveway?" Eric asked him, looking a bit confused.
"Sports car?" Xander asked, looking at Ray, who shrugged. "Nothing there when you came in?"
"No, not that I saw." He followed Eric outside, letting Xander grab his wallet and keys, plus pants and shoes, looking at the sports car sitting there. "Man!" he said, whistling. "Is that yours, Xander? If so, can I borrow it before you send it back?"
"If you do he probably can't send it back," Eric said, smirking at the shocked look on Xander's face. Xander walked over and found the letter under the windshield wiper blade. "Again?"
"Yup, same guy." He shook his head. "And I can't take it back." He handed it to Eric. "Please give that to my spouse?" He opened the door and got in, noticing the keys were in the ignition. "Ray, want me or him?"
"Him, you might speed and get me in trouble."
"Maybe," Xander agreed. "Later, Eric." He backed out carefully, heading to the bank first, then to tap into an account he had hidden since that one was still locked thanks to Internal Affairs. A new guy had been put in charge of the station and he hated Horatio for being married to him, so they were under investigation. Fortunately he had planned for emergencies and had the lawyer dealing with the tax issues and the auction stuff make two separate, hidden accounts. He withdrew it from there and headed back to the mall they liked to shop at, going to find a new phone at Radio Shack. Horatio had specific needs and would fuss if it wasn't good enough. He had the last time they had broken the phone during sex and he had replaced it. Then he would calmly sit down and write a letter to his benefactor bitching him out for sending him a porsche. That was WAY too much.
Eric walked Ray into the station and toward Horatio's office, smiling at Ray's mother when they passed her. "He was hanging out with Xander but Xander had to do some shopping."
"The little rugrat broke the phone using it as a drumstick." She grinned at that. "So I'm taking him to Horatio to let him tell him about the new sports car that showed up while they were inside." She whimpered. "It's pretty. Silvery blue. Boxter. Last year's model." He shrugged and handed Ray the letter. "I'm sure he's in his office." Ray smiled at his mother and headed that way. "So, what's going on?"
"I just finished booking the suspect on your last case."
"Good! I like that!" He beamed. "More time for me to go out tonight." She giggled and swatted him but went back to her desk. He went to the labs to make sure everything was tied up on his end.
Ray Jr. knocked on his uncle's door, interrupting his father complaining about something. "Uncle Horatio, it's a very pretty car." Horatio moaned, shaking his head. "Here, the letter. He said to give it to you." He looked at his father, then back at his uncle. "Can I have some of your time tonight? When you're done or needing a break, whenever?"
"What's up?" Ray Sr. asked.
"Nothing for you to worry about. Just some stuff I wanted to ask my uncle about."
"I can answer questions."
"Fine, then why is one of my classmates into seriously hardcore power transfer and why is it confusing me?" Ray Sr. blushed and stomped out. "Thank you. I didn't figured you'd know about that anyway," he called after him. "Manwhore."
"Ray," Horatio warned.
"He is." He looked at his uncle. "Xander tried."
"We'll talk when I've got some time tonight." He read over the letter, shaking his head. "Get the receptionist to make a copy of that for me please?" Ray nodded and went to do that, letting Horatio type in an email to someone about that. He had the old man's email address and that was definitely too much. He looked over as Ray Sr. came back. "He wanted to ask about other stuff that wasn't covered by his and Yelina's talks."
"That's fine. I'm sure you can answer those questions. Yelina's pretty vanilla about that stuff. I'm surprised she told him about gay guys."
"She had to, father. Otherwise I would've asked Uncle Horatio some very awkward stuff." He pushed his father out of the way and handed over the copy. "There you, and she said she knew what was going on after a glance so she forwarded an extra copy to the maggot- sucking bastard down the hall."
"Ray," Horatio warned again. "Language."
"Truth, uncle, sorry, but it's the truth. I'm not so sure he's not one of those who like dead people for some reason. Not that I understand that either. Who'd want a cold, clammy, decomposing body?" His father clamped a hand over his mouth and ran off again, as was his intention. Horatio gave him a look. "I have yours and Mom's stomach, not his." He sat down again. "It's a very pretty Boxter. Eric said it was last year's model." The email beeped and he craned his neck to look. "The old guy?"
"Yes." He opened it, looking at it. "Interesting. It wasn't him." He looked at the note. "Which dealership?"
"Quinn's. The license plate holder had it on it."
"Thank you." He looked that number up to call them, writing it down for when he was on break or later that evening. He got up and closed the door, looking at him. "What did you want to ask about?"
"Well, the spanking and chains and stuff was part of it, but I don't understand why anyone would be attracted to something like a dead body or kids or anything like that."
"Are you feeling urgings in one of those directions?"
"No," he offered weakly. "Though my current girlfriend scared me by wanting me to blindfold and handcuff her."
"For most, they don't want to be the one in control, Ray. They don't have to make decisions, they don't have to do the thinking and planning, they want to be the passive one and let it happen. That's why they're called submissives." Someone pounded on the door. "What?" Yelina walked in. "His current girlfriend went sub on him."
She looked at her son, then nodded. "Dump her, son." She looked at Horatio. "He's coming this way."
"The manwhore or the maggot sucking, dead guy fucker?" Ray asked.
"Raymond!" his mother said sharply.
"Sorry, it's been a long, bad day."
"Why?" she asked patiently.
"Let's see. Started out second period with the sex ed teacher trying to single me out and persecute me for liking girls. He claimed there were only three non-virgins in the class, looked right at me, then at the girl who was raped and had a child, then at the girl who had a fiance. One of the other kids in class ran him off asking about power transfer stuff. He's got detention and his mother's offered to talk to any of us who need it. Then came gym and two of the bullies tried me since my mother's a cop, so therefore must be a lesbian because you're so tough and your husband left you. Plus, hey, I was a baby since Uncle Horatio protects me. Then one started on how I knew male strippers so therefore *I* must be gay. My girlfriend assured him, in front of everyone and the teacher, and the principal who had been called about the earlier taunting, that I was not only not gay but I was also fantastic in bed and every woman should be jealous of what she got. We've slept together twice now, so I'm not sure how fantastic I was but it must be genetic since I thought I was fumbling around both times. Oh, by the way, I'm now suspended for five days for having a girlfriend who claims we've had sex. It violates some school rule or another for me to be sexually active with a girl my own age. So I spent all the rest of the day in the office, where they refused to call you or anyone, and refused to let me eat lunch. Then I went to ask Uncle Xander some sex questions I still had and he gave me what he could, but referred me back to Uncle Horatio."
"About gay sex?" someone asked from the doorway.
"No," Ray said impatiently, glaring at the IA officer. "About other sorts of sex that he's probably run into on the job. I don't understand what would make a person go for a dead guy. Like you do."
The agent glared at him. "I happen to be straight."
"That's your problem," Ray assured him. His mother clamped a hand over his mouth before he could ask if dead nipples tasted different. She gave him a long stare. "Sorry, low blood sugar is making me cranky."
"We'll go eat, son." She hauled him up. "For the record, I'd rather you asked your uncle about those sort of things. I'm not comfortable with them and I'll be damned if I want to think about them." She led him off, taking him down to the break room to get him something to eat. "I'll also be calling the school."
"I've already called the school board," Ray sighed. "They said it's a rule that they passed three years ago that any student being found to be sexually active was to be suspended, pending removal, because we set a bad example for the other students. Apparently the one with the fiance, who also got called in after me, ended up getting an exam to prove she wasn't."
"I'll be talking to them in a few moments," she assured him, giving him a five. "Eat something. Drink a soda. Don't irritate him, he'll cause Horatio more problems."
"I'm sure Uncle Horatio could find crap on him pretty easily, mom. After all, he hangs out by the morgue and I doubt he suspects Alexx of anything."
"I thought he had a crush on her."
"I think he's going to play with the bodies." He pushed a few buttons, getting a snack. "What's for dinner?"
"Food. We'll figure that out after I go shopping." He nodded, taking the change to get a soda, then microwaved the sandwich and sat down to eat. "Sit in here until your uncle comes to get you. I'm going to threaten the school." She walked off, going to grab her car keys and jacket. This was the sort of talk you had in person, where you could see who you were swearing at. She paused in Horatio's doorway. "If I'm not back from threatening his principal, please make sure he gets home?"
"Of course," he agreed calmly. "Watch out for Xander, Yelina. Someone different sent him the car."
"Wonderful. A new admirer?"
"I'm not sure yet. I will be stopping this one sooner however. He's eating?" She nodded. "Thank you." She walked off. He looked at the officer. "You've went over everything he's ever given to Internal Affairs. He's been very up-front about all of this," he said calmly. "I do not like you persecuting my husband for being alive. We are going to take legal action should it not quit within the next few days. That should give you more than enough time to file the paperwork and have his accounts unfrozen."
"I don't think so. I think your spouse did something to get that money, Caine."
Speed popped in and grabbed him by the arm. "Excuse me. He's got a visitor." He walked him off, shoving him at the former Prosecuting Attorney, who had come to see him. "He thinks Xander did something to earn the presents. By the way, Boxter came from....?"
"We're still trying to figure that out." He shrugged and took the officer off to have a quiet word with him. He knew who he had been and what he stood for. "Thank you, Speedle."
"Welcome. Watch out for my boy for me." He walked off again, going to check on Horatio, who was in the breakroom with his nephew. "He's not sure yet either."
"I watched that guy hang out in front of the morgue on at least four occasions," Ray offered. "Can that help you get him fired?"
"Only if he touched the bodies." Speed shrugged. "I'm usually to each their own sort, but I'll let Alexx know you've seen him lurking, just in case she can find out he's been flirting with someone down there." He grinned at him. "Was it a nice car?"
"A very nice car. Who put the sugar in the other car's tank?"
"We're still trying to figure that out," Horatio admitted. "Who told you about that?"
"Xander, he told Eric, who didn't look very impressed with it."
"I wouldn't be either," Speed admitted. "I'm off to talk to Alexx to get results." He walked off, going down to the morgue. "Alexx." She smiled at him. "The creepy IAB guy has been hanging out down here. Is he dating one of you or one of your patients?"
"He'd better be dating one of the other ME's," she said firmly. "Or else he's going to have my foot up his hind end." He grinned at that. "He still on against Xander?"
"Yup, but Gordon just showed up to talk about the new gift giver they're still trying to find. He gave Xander a Boxter." She gave him a look. "Yeah, totally new guy who he can't find at all. We're not sure who."
"Damn, baby. Did he take it back?"
"According to Gordon, it was done in such a way that it couldn't be taken back. So at least he's got a car until his other one is fixed."
"We kept it quiet, but the day he had a flat, someone put sugar and nitroglycerin in his gas tank. Fortunately it was in pill form and hadn't dissolved yet. But it was in there when it was tested. I found it later that afternoon after getting a sample." She hissed. "So someone's higher on mine and H's shit list at the moment." He pointed at the body. "What's she telling us?"
"She is telling us she had a very hard life," she admitted, showing him the calluses on her hands.
Horatio walked into the condo later that night, after having a long look at the porsche in his driveway, and found his mate stretching on the floor. "Going for a run?"
"I was going to go swimming since it's off-season and I'm down to three practices a week," he admitted as he shifted in the other direction. "I thought maybe you'd come watch me do laps while you did whatever paperwork you brought home then we could get dinner." He looked at him. "Why? What's happened? Did they suspend you too?"
"They tried. The Chief disagreed and pointed out what had happened and why. You have other accounts?"
"I had the lawyer set me up two for emergencies." He stretched forward. "They're under the legally gray second identity that I have. Why? Did he find them?"
"He had the one you withdrew from monitored."
"He can't do that. Not without a warrant."
"He claims he has one but he's refusing to present it." He sat down, making Xander stop and look at him. "What did you buy?"
"Eric broke the phone. I took out enough to live off of and to get a new one. I wasn't sure if you wanted a headset or not so I got one with both." He shrugged. "Plus we needed some more laundry detergent and some more milk so I got that too."
"Thank you." He gave him a gentle kiss. "I've threatened legal action." Xander handed him a card. "Who's this?"
"It was on the passenger seat of the car." He gave him a long stare. "Do we have any idea who sent this one?"
"No. Gordon and Father Benis both said so."
"Damn it! I hate this shit." He got up to pace. "I haven't stripped, Horatio, you know that. How did I get a new one?"
"Maybe it has to do with the show in New York last year," he offered quietly.
"They waited all this time?"
"Perhaps. They may have thought you wouldn't accept it but Benis's gifts encouraged them. I'm not sure." Someone pounded on the door. He got up to answer it, looking at the officer and the smirking IAB officer on the other side. "What did you want this time?"
"To arrest your spouse."
"I doubt it. It's not like I sleep around, I didn't even when I was stripping," Xander said, glaring at him. The officer backed off. "I'm not going to hurt you but he's in for a world of hurt if he tries."
"Yes, well, we have a sworn statement that you did, in fact, sell your time at the last club you worked at," he said, waving a piece of paper. "From a convicted serial killer."
"That was part of the sting to get him," Xander said dryly. "There were cops standing outside."
"Yes, and it was also a miscommunication," Horatio agreed. "I thought someone else had given him a codeword and no one had." He held out a hand. "I want to see the warrant."
"You have to present it, that is the law," Xander reminded him firmly. "You don't marry a cop without learning that." The IAB agent glared. "Try it, necrophile." That got a hotter glare. "You got a warrant, you present it. You don't, you go and let the nice officer go home to his family since I know he's a day shift guy."
"I'm doing overtime tonight," the patrol officer admitted quietly. "But thank you noticing, Xander." Xander grinned at him. "What is going on?"
"I have no damn idea," Xander offered, leaning against the arm of the couch. "In that instance, it was the daddy killer guy. No one gave me a codeword, he'd been bugging me to spank him, and as part of the sting I did. There were five or six cops standing outside the room, all of them thought that Horatio had given me a codeword and he thought someone else had." The patrol guy moaned a bit. "So I paddled his ass good for killing other strippers." He shrugged. "Not like I made anything off it. The club's owner gave it all to the PD since it was part of the sting and Speed pointed that out."
The officer glared at him. "He said he didn't."
"I can show you the report where he did," Horatio countered. "I also know it's in my file." The officer backed up and the patrol guy got out of the way. "As I said earlier, if you have an actual warrant, present it. Now. Or get out of our house."
"Before I have to call in some really nasty assholes who're lawyers to help me," Xander agreed. "I've got a few fans who'd probably do it for free." The officer backed up and the patrol guy snickered.
"This isn't funny!" he shouted.
"Yes, it is. By the way, nice car, Xander."
"Yeah, apparently I've got a new donor," Xander said with a shrug. "I can't find out who and I can't return it, and since someone put sugar in my gas tank at the station...." He shrugged again. "I gotta be able to drive something."
"Point. You try it out for speed?"
"Yup, and got my very first speeding ticket ever," he sighed, shaking his head. "Oh, Horatio, he asked if he should make it out to your pussy. I told him no, I had an actual name." He got the ticket and handed it over. "There ya go, honey." He looked at the patrol guy, who was now leaning on the wall laughing. "I'm being good. I let him do it, I've already paid it. I wasn't even going that fast."
Horatio looked then looked at him. "You were edging on reckless driving, Xander."
"It's a porsche, Horatio," he whined back. "I need to take it out to a track to try it out for real, but I was being as good as I possibly could. It was just me in the car with the phone."
"We'll discuss this later." He looked at the patrol officer. "You, quit," he ordered, but he was smirking.
"Sir, can I be standing nearby when you yell at him for asking your husband that?"
"They are not married," the internal affair's officer hissed.
"Bet me." Xander held up his hand. "Vows said, ring given, honeymoon taken. I'd call that married. Don't you, dear?"
"I do," he agreed smoothly. He glared at him. "Unless you have a warrant, you're fouling my condo's air. Please leave." He stomped out. "Officer Mitchels, I don't blame you. Do report this however. All of it."
"Yes, sir. I don't want him coming after me next because I've watched you be frustrated with the present-sending fanclub he's got." He walked out, going to drive back to the station. On the way, he stuck in his cellphone earbud and called his boss. He wanted his ass fully covered and he knew Caine would, but he still needed his boss to cover him too. This was going to get messy. He had seen the name on the card in Caine's hand. He was known for making things messy and horrifying before they were settled.
Horatio walked into the Chief's office the next morning. "May I have ten minutes?" he requested. "Anytime today is fine."
"He's in right now, Lieutenant. Let me see if he can see you." She buzzed her boss. "Sir, Lieutenant Caine is here to see you, he needs about ten minutes if you're not busy." She smiled at him as she hung up. "Go ahead in. He's in the meeting area and it's about you anyway."
"Thank you." He walked that way, tapping before opening the door. "I'm going to kill him," he offered as a greeting. "He said he had a warrant for Xander's arrest and refused to present it."
"I heard," the Chief agreed, nodding at the mayor. "Sit, let's see what's going on."
"Lieutenant...." The mayor looked at him. "I know this is difficult for you."
"My husband has done nothing wrong," he said firmly. "Yes, some people gave him presents."
"I'm very aware why, the same as I know he's sent most of them back," the mayor assured him. "When he could he did. He couldn't send the car back?"
"We're not sure who gave it to him and the dealership drove it over, therefore making it used so he can't exchange or return it. When I called, they refused to acknowledge it came from them, even though the invoice was sent to me anonymously by fax." He got comfortable, looking at his bosses. "This isn't the first time. Xander had a sudden attack on his old car at the station four days ago. Not only was his tire flattened thanks to a knife, but his gas was tampered with. When it was tested by Speedle, it showed up as having sugar and stable nitroglycerine tablets slowly dissolving in it. Had he gotten the engine started, it would have blown up with him in it," he said quietly. "We've kept that part from him since I don't want him to worry. I did have a long look over this new car last night, just in case. Also," he said, pulling out the ticket and handing it to his boss. "The officer kindly asked if he should make it out to my, and I quote, pussy, when he ticketed him. Xander did not protest the ticket, and assured the officer he had his own name. He said he's already paid it."
"I don't blame the boy for taking it out to try it," the Chief admitted, making note of the name. "Who came with the moron last night?"
"Officer Mitchels, who's seen Xander on numerous occasions and helped him a few times. He was laughing at all that and I did suggest he tell his supervisor. He had no desire to be there. He and Xander are on very friendly terms since Xander helped his kid with his English paper last month."
"I see." The chief looked at the mayor, who shrugged. "I don't know what to do, Lieutenant."
"Sir, it's gotten to the point where my spouse is mad enough to suggest he use a contact who's a lawyer. Also, this card was left in the car on the passenger's seat," he offered, sliding it down the table. "I don't want to have to go there, but I doubt he has a warrant to freeze Xander's bank accounts or spy on the other two."
"He was told when Xander made a withdrawal yesterday. Either he's got an inside source or whatever warrant he's supposedly using has a 'watching' clause. Since he won't present it when asked, I can't be sure of which." He forced himself to stay calm. "He has upset my whole family, especially my husband. Even my brother's mad about this, sir. Mad enough to suggest Xander probably had contacts downtown who could remove the man from his job. Though, my nephew did report that he's seen him hanging around the morgue quite often. I'm still waiting to hear if he's checking over Alexx's shoulder or if he's dating someone down there."
"You think he's touching the bodies or evidence?" the Chief asked.
"I don't know, sir. I know my nephew was taunting him yesterday about sleeping with them, but he was a bit cranky thanks to an action at his school and them refusing him the luxury of eating lunch."
"Why?" the mayor asked. "My cousin's child goes there. I haven't heard there was a severe problem."
"Apparently three years ago they passed a rule stating they would be suspending and then removing any child found to be sexually active. Ray has admitted that he's had a girlfriend in the past that did sleep with him and his current one got him into trouble with that rule when she refuted the taunt that he was gay as well." The Mayor moaned. "He was not the only one. According to him, a young woman was taken for an examination to prove she wasn't sleeping with her fiance."
"I'll be checking into that. I had wondered why I got a call from a board member about Detective Salas being a hothead who needed removed." The mayor pursed his lips. "Sounds like a reasonable mother going off on the idiots to me."
"I'll let her know you said that, sir." That got a nod. "To be perfectly truthful, my husband has a bit of a combat history. The town he grew up in wasn't that safe and he did have to protect himself and others for about four years. He still shows many of the reflexes and Mac Taylor, from New York's labs, who used to be a Marine, said he shows many of the same post-traumatic reflexes he's seen in other veterans. Right now, my spouse is thinking about assaulting instead of defending. I'd like to keep him from doing that, but I'm not sure I can."
"Did you order him not to go to the lawyer without you?" the Chief asked. "I've already gotten a call, Horatio. Whoever sent the car hired him on Xander's behalf."
"Good, then let him deal with the warrant issue and get his bank accounts unfrozen," Horatio agreed. "I don't want to sue the department, but if it comes down to my safety and his safety, I will. We've already got proof that someone wants him dead with what they did to his car. I wouldn't be surprised if someone tried it again. Since the first incident happened at the station I can only assume it was an officer." That got a shudder and he shrugged a bit. "I can't make any other assumption given the evidence in front of me. Unless you have more?"
"No, I don't," the Chief admitted, looking at the mayor. Then at his officer. "I'm going to order him to do a case review with me, Horatio. If he's got a warrant for anything, he'll have to present it to me. Or else his career is ended."
"Not so fast. We need you to keep Xander calm. I've seen Xander react when one of the guys at the club was threatened one night. It's a good thing the patron didn't press charges for assault and battery."
"Xander told me about that," he admitted dryly, smirking a bit. "Xander's very protective of what he considers his."
"Good. Then you're his and I want you to stay his, Horatio." His phone buzzed and he answered it, grunting a bit. "Thank you." He hung up. "Where might your spouse be?"
"He was going out to the park to feed the ducks, talk to the college since his funds are presently locked up and he's supposed to be registering for classes this week, and then we were going to lunch."
"Well, he just had to stop the car the old fashioned way since his brakes went out while he was doing a modest sixty-five down Flagler. He ended up on a beach to stop fully. He has good instincts. The officer who spotted him said he did it correctly, shifting down as quickly as he could and then spinning onto the beach to get caught in the sand."
"It was fine when he came home last night," Horatio said calmly.
"It's not now. That was Delko, he's on that scene. He said he took Speedle off it since he's more personally involved and your spouse is in your office waiting on you." Horatio nodded at that. "If you bring me someone, I will arrest them."
"I never thought I'd say this, but I almost miss Stetler. At least he did his job, even if he was determined to pin my brother's bad habits on me," Horatio offered, standing up. "By your leave?" They nodded. "Thank you. I'll contact the attorney today with Xander to make sure that he knows we're not going after the department at this time." He left with that minor warning, heading back to his office before he lost his temper. On the way he called Eric. "Fingerprints or other evidence?" He smirked. "Thank you." He hung up and sped up a bit, no one would pull his hummer over, not with PD plates and signs on it. It's not like he was going much over the speed limit anyway. Only ten miles.
Xander looked over as someone opened Horatio's door, looking at the bane of his existence. "Come to gloat about cutting my brake lines?"
"I did not."
"Just hypothesizing," he said dryly. "The same as you do about me."
"No, I know you're a bad influence."
"Really? For what? Being a good dancer?"
"I'm sure you whored or did something."
"One accidental. New bartender didn't know I didn't drink." He shrugged. "I find maple syrup works so much better to put me in that happy, mentally fuzzy place." The man glared at him so he smirked. "I'm odd, what do you expect. Now, why are you bursting into my mate's office? I was told to wait in here, what's your excuse."
"No, you're not. Not even if I'm in here. This is Horatio's office. I'm allowed because Horatio knows I'm not going to touch anything besides his email to see if we've got an answer on who sent me the porsche." That got a furious look. "Of course, if you know, I'd like to know so I can have a good, old fashioned, yelling match with them."
"No, I have no idea," he said coldly. "Stand up."
"Present a warrant," Xander countered coldly, his voice dripping ice. "Or else get out. As I said, not your office and nothing in your job description says you can bust in here without a good reason."
"I have a warrant."
"Then present it." He crossed his feet, looking calm, all but his eyes. "If you don't present it, I will have my attorney jump all over your ass until you enjoy the feeling of being fucked up it." He backed away from him and Xander linked his fingers together on top of his stomach. "As I said, if you've got a warrant, which means you actually found real proof that I've done something bad, then present it. If not, get the hell out of Horatio's office."
"Problems?" Ryan asked from the doorway.
"Yeah, he is one," Xander agreed. "He claims he's got a warrant for my arrest and won't present it."
"Then he can't arrest you. That's the law," Ryan assured him, looking at the internal affair's guy that had tried to get him to say something bad about Horatio. He hadn't, and he had walked out after a few questions, saying he had better things to do than listen to him fish. "You're not supposed to be in here. That would be considered breaking and entering."
"Who are you to tell me...."
"Me? I'm the CSI who's going to convict you of it," Ryan assured him. "Now, get out. Unless you've got a warrant, you have no probable cause to arrest him. I've went with Xander when he disclosed some of the stuff that was given to him and by who. He's always cooperated with your office so no one could say anything to Horatio."
"I know he's doing something wrong! No one gives a *stripper* money like that without wanting more!"
"Actually, some did want more and I turned them down," Xander assured him. "Including the serial killers I helped you catch." He gave him a furious look. "I didn't whore around. Hell, I didn't sleep around for fun. I had two sexual encounters from the time Tim picked me up in Montreal until I got with Horatio. I'm a tease, I don't give out." The man's face turned red. "Also, there's a few different drug tests floating around that showed I never touched the stuff, unless we're talking about the one kidnaping where I was drugged. But I suppose I can be forgiven that one since I was unconscious when it was given to me. He had only dented my skull."
The man's face turned redder. "I can also tell you that some of the guys used my act to give the cheap blows in the back room, without my consent, permission to use my act as an aphrodisiac, and without me taking a cut. The one time I was cut in, against my will, I donated it to a police charity through Horatio. I found out about it when Timmy cleaned out my locker after I hurt my back with the daddy killer guy. If you try to get me for the single underaged drink that I got given accidentally you'll have to arrest the bartender. It's not like I ordered it. It was given to me. I only got a few sips before I realized it had alcohol in it."
He stood up, pushing forward the hyena. "You want to know why they like me so much?" he asked, stalking closer. The man swallowed and his face went suddenly pale. "That's right, that's why they like me. That hint of danger that comes out my pores thanks to my old life," he hissed in his face. "Anything else you want to know, I've got an attorney and you can go through him. Now, as I said earlier," he growled. "Present the warrant or back down, little bitch. You're not the alpha you think you are and it's embarrassing for myself or Horatio to have to deal with your pitifulness. If we were out on the streets, I'd have culled you from the herd already." He moved just that inch closer, clearly in his personal space now.
"Did you think I was dangerous before?" he taunted with an evil smirk. "Or are you not so brave facing me down without your bullshit warrants and bullshit evidence. Stuff you're mass producing but can't prove is real? Yes, I've seen what you've got. Anyone looking can see it's not real evidence, you pussy bitch. Now, am I going to find your fingerprints on my brake line?" He stared him down, getting a quick head shake. "Are you sure? Because if I do, I'm going to get...angry," he said quietly, nearly hissing it now. "We don't want that. Horatio's never seen me this upset before. I'd hate to scare him off. Especially over such elephant shit like you're making up." He poked him on the chest. "Now, present your warrant and your evidence, or go hide in the bush, little bitch. Maybe someday you'll find an alpha dog to fuck you and make it all better before you get eaten."
"Xander, you're scaring me," Ryan said quietly, glancing around. "Please back down?" Xander glared at him. "Please? Horatio just pulled in. Calleigh was watching for him." Xander strolled casually back to the chair and sat down, getting comfortable again. "Thank you." He looked at the other guy, who was still pale. "Um, crap." He came in, waving a hand in front of his face. Then he decided to call Alexx from the desk phone. "It's Ryan. I'm in Horatio's office. That IAB guy is in here and standing, but unresponsive. Would you come see if we need an ambulance?" He smiled. "Thanks." He hung up and looked at Xander, who gave a one-sided, barely visible shrug. "You're scary."
"Thank you." He continued to stare the other guy down, making him stay still until Alexx got there. "He's been making up evidence and I called him on it, Alexx."
"Sugar, are you all right? Your voice sounds funny," she said, giving him a look. "Xander. Please calm down, baby."
"Fuck calm, he's fucking with my pack and my mate. Until he gets an alpha dog of his own to fuck him and make him part of a pack, he's a lone bitch pup asking for what he gets." The man let out a small whimper so Xander blinked, releasing him. He grabbed his chest and sank to the floor. "Good." He looked at the glaring Alexx. "At least you can call someone to take care of him."
"What did you do?" she demanded as she dialed. "This is Alexx Woods, I need an ambulance for a probable heart attack in Horatio Caine's office. No, not him. Thank you." She hung up. "Xander?"
"Take care of him, Alexx. All I did was get into his face over his bullshit tactics." He looked over as someone came running. "Not me. I got into his face about his shit. He's presently trying to die to escape my wrath." He looked at him again. "You don't get to die in my mate's office. You might haunt him and I'd hate to do something to your soul for it. So you'll be living." He gasped and nodded. "Good."
Ryan walked over and blocked Xander's view, making him look at him. "Quit. You're scaring me and Alexx." Xander shrugged again. "Please."
"I'm fine. It's his problem."
"Still." Speed came in, taking Xander up and out of the room. "Thank you." He waved the paramedics in, pointing at him. "He got faced down over his persecution."
"Probably pissed himself," Alexx said dryly. "Xander's been tormented by him recently and Xander faced him down. Called it bullshit and other things."
"He's claiming he's got a warrant but he won't present it," Ryan said as he helped her up. "Also, his brake lines were cut this morning." Alexx glared at him. "Eric's handling it."
"Horatio's coming," Calleigh said from the doorway. "Who's got Xander?"
"Speed," Ryan said. He pointed in the direction he had drug the boy. "Xander went scary."
"Thanks." She went to tell Horatio, who went to check on his boy first.
Horatio found them in the locker room, Xander resting his head on Speed's shoulder. "Is he all right?"
"He's fine. Whose fingerprint was on the brake line? Eric had it run from the back of the hummer."
"I haven't heard that information yet," he admitted, coming over. Xander shifted over to hug him. "What happened?"
"He went alpha bitch on him," Speed said quietly, glancing around. "Scared him nearly to death. When I got there, he told him he couldn't die in your office. The guy nodded to show he agreed."
"Sorry, I lost my temper," Xander said quietly, looking at his mate. "Ryan said I scared him."
"You may have," he agreed, stroking the back of his fingers over his cheek. "Are you all right?" Xander nodded, blinking at him. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah. I'm still mad, and I'm mad that I let that much anger out, but I'm fine. I hope he lives."
"I don't." Speed looked at Horatio, then smirked. "I'm going to find out whose fingerprint it was."
"I checked the lines this morning," Xander offered. "I dropped a book off for Ray Jr. then I headed for the lawyer's to talk to him, see what he was planning to do." He looked at Horatio. "I don't think it was cut this morning, I didn't see a cut. I don't know much about cars, but I didn't see an obvious cut."
"Don't worry about it. We will find out who did it," Horatio promised, giving him a gentle kiss. "Are you calm again?" Xander nodded. "Good. Then let's debrief Ryan and see whether or not we can find out whose fingerprint that was." He led Xander out, taking him back to his office.
Speed came in with a report. "Fingerprints, and it wasn't his, but another officer's," he reported, handing it over. He looked up as Ryan came in. "You okay?"
"I'm fine now. Is that part of the same thing that drew the serial killers?" Xander nodded, looking a bit bemused. "Thank you for stopping then."
"You stepped between us," Xander reminded him.
"Yes, but you didn't try it with me." He looked at Horatio again. "Eric said it was a slit length-wise, up the side of the tube. He said it's easily fixed but that someone should look over the car just in case. He wanted to know if it should go to the usual garage?" Horatio nodded. "Okay, I'll tell him that. Also, he said he found some sand around the tires. It looks like someone squirted some sand in a gel-like substance on the brake pads."
"Someone owes me some new brakes then," Xander assured him. "Who do I get the pleasure of threatening this time?"
"Xander," Speed warned. "Let us handle it."
"Dad, whoever gave me the porsche hired me an attorney."
"Yes, and we'll be waiting to sue the department as long as they stop this persecution," Horatio noted calmly. Xander nodded that he agreed. "Thank you."
"I'm a happy boy," he said dryly. "I remembered what do when the brakes went and no one was in my way."
"Thank you." Ryan left, taking Speed with him. "Are you all right?" he asked quietly.
"I was a bit shaken up until he came in." Someone pounded on the door and he sighed. "What?" The door opened and the head of Internal Affairs came in. "So, does he have an actual warrant to get into my bank accounts or to arrest me for doing nothing?"
"What did you do to him?"
"Answer mine first," Xander ordered, looking and sounding amused. The man glared at him so he glared back, earning a shiver. "Well?"
"No. He didn't. I've already notified the banks that were listed and the other institutions he contacted."
"Such as?" Horatio asked calmly, seeming to not be pissed as hell.
"The college. He called to threaten the cops in New York." He looked away from Xander's gaze, catching Horatio's. Now he could see how well suited they were. "He thought he was saving you, Caine. That your spouse was going to dirty you and we'd lose you."
"So, in other words he wants Horatio for himself, and he's trying to get me out of the way?" Xander suggested bitterly. The IA officer nodded. "Anything else you'd like to share?"
"Please call the lawyer off."
"I'll be speaking with him this afternoon. I'm sure you can assure him what's being done before then." He stood up, moving closer. "I really don't want to hate you guys. I've always cooperated in the past. Hell, the former head guy, Phil, helped me find out who sent a few of the those annoying ass presents. He stuck up for me when Stetler threatened to rape me and mutilate me." The guy shuddered. "I have nothing against your office unless you guys make me have something against you. I'm all for cooperating to make sure nothing about this annoying shit touches my husband deeper than his temper. It's up to you whether or not I continue to have a harmonious relationship with your unit."
"He's asked to come back, I'll make sure of it," he agreed quietly, looking at him again. "What did you do to him?"
"The same thing I did to you when I stared you down. Wolfe was there, he made me back down."
"Thank you. Any idea who gave you the porsche or cut your brake line?"
"Ask him, he's got the report." He went back to his seat, pulling out his phone to call his friends in New York. "You didn't tell me you got threatened over knowing me." He smirked. "I love you too, Don, but you still didn't tell me that. If you had, I'd have went off on him sooner and maybe I wouldn't have a new porsche since someone thoughtfully sugared my old gas tank."
"That wasn't all they did," the head of IAB offered. Horatio glared at him.
"Excuse me, they did what else to my car?" Xander asked. "Don wants to know as well."
"Speed found traces of nitroglycerin in the tank, it was a dissolving pill, Xander," Horatio offered.
Xander listened to Don. "Someone put nitro in my tank, Horatio said it was slowly melting. So apparently someone wanted me to die really spectacularly." He hung up and glared at his mate. "You were hiding this?"
"I didn't want you to worry."
"If I knew about such things, I could take better precautions, Horatio. Not knowing means I'm helpless if something else happens." He stood up. "Is there anything else I should know?" he asked coolly, staring his mate down.
"Not yet. We'll have the current car analyzed." Xander nodded and stomped out. He kept in his groan since the other man was still there. "I have no idea if it was him or not. We're still early in the investigation."
"Flowers, Caine. Flowers and candy. You just hurt his feelings."
"He'll see I'm right by later on."
"No he won't." He looked at him. "Protecting him that way is pretty dumb. It'd be like protecting another veteran. By the way, what sort of service was he in? I couldn't find the records."
"Survival. His former town was bad about that."
"Oh. Okay." He nodded a bit. "Gang?" Horatio shook his head. "Thank you. I'm hoping we have it solved later today. I'll be faxing that whole file to the attorney's office. Please don't sue us."
"That would only make my life more difficult," he noted quietly. Then he stood up. "If we're done?"
"We're done. Thank you. Good luck finding the person who sent him this car." He walked out, going to hide in his office. Now he knew why they were so well suited. Harris was the only one who could stand up to Horatio when he was in over-protective and asshole mode. No one else in the city was that brave.
Horatio answered the ringing phone. "Caine." He listened. "No, Don, he's fine. He stomped off in a snit but he's fine. No, I didn't tell him. Looked like someone's heart medication but we can't be sure. It was too degraded by that point. Why? Is he flying up there?" He smiled. "I'll find him later, but thank you. No, he's mad I was trying to protect him." He nodded at that wise advice. "I had planned on it anyway." He hung up and called his mate's phone. "Come back," he ordered quietly. "I'll tell you everything." He hung up and got back to work. He still had to do paperwork from last night. Then he got an idea and called Eric. "He said he didn't see anything wrong when he checked it over this morning," he noted calmly. "But he stopped at Yelina's to give Ray Jr. a book, then went to the attorney's to set up an appointment. Thank you." He hung up on the assertion Eric would look in both spots for more evidence of who had done this.
Willow walked into the unit, smiling at Calleigh. "Hi, is moping boy free for lunch?"
"Out on a scene," she admitted, kissing her on the cheek. "How are you?"
"Fat." Calleigh chuckled. "I am. I can't fit into my skirts or pants unless they've got elastic now." She grimaced. "The price I paid for screwing up my birth control." The receptionist hissed. "Yeah, well." She shrugged. "It happens and Ryan's very happy." She smiled at her, then at Calleigh. "What happened to Xander this time?"
"Well, someone sent him a new car," she offered, walking her off to the side. "We're not sure who yet but it was someone. The dealership is denying they sold it at all. Then he found out Horatio was keeping some information from him about his last car's tampering to try to protect him." Willow snorted. "Xander yelled at him for that so he's been moping all day as well. A moping Horatio is a pitiful sight, let me tell you." She smirked at Eric as he came back with a new bag. "Lunch or did you find something?"
"Oh, I found something and it was at Yelina's house." He smirked at Willow. "How're you feeling?"
"My sisters complained about that too. They reminded each other it came off at the end. Most of it was the baby and then some stretched skin. Except for the sister who ate nothing but bonbons."
"I'll remember that. Thank you. Where is my Xander buddy?"
"He's not here?" Eric asked.
"No, he found out about his gas tank and stomped off in a snit," Calleigh assured him with a bright grin. "Something about not needing protected?"
"Everyone, even Horatio, needs protected now and then," he said wisely. "Even the strongest guys, like Mac, need it now and then. Not that I think he or Mac would take it, but they do sometimes need it." She nodded that was true. "So where is he?" The women shrugged. "Ah, that state. Have we checked on the little biter?"
Willow giggled and nodded. "I had him most of the morning so his mom could work. He might be complaining to Di though." That got some smiles. "Has he called back yet?" Calleigh shook her head. "Then he also might be in New York by now."
"Maybe, but Don or Danny would call us to complain about the sobbing Xander," Eric assured her. He walked off, going to get Horatio so he could see what he had found. "H?" he called, making him look back at him from where he was talking to their junior ballistics tech and signing something for him. "It was at Yelina's house. She found the tube of silica gel they used." He held up the bag. "We've got to run fingerprints. Want to help?"
"Please." He walked that way. He would be there to see it first this time. He wanted to know who he got to yell at today. "Was my husband there?"
"No. Willow thought he might be with Diana ranting at her. Or possibly on his way to New York to sob on Don's shoulder. She wasn't sure."
"She and Calleigh are talking. Should I call and warn Ryan?"
"Please." He did that while Horatio gloved up and found a jacket, then opened the bag. He frowned at what he saw. "That was all together, Eric?"
"Yup, which was why I wanted you to see it, H." He moved closer once he had on his own gloves and jacket. "I'm not sure who it was."
"I'm not going to jump to conclusions."
"I didn't figure you would, but that's something I'd rather see for myself than hear from me." They shared a look and got to work finding fingerprints. They would know why there had been a crackpipe with the materials.
Horatio walked toward where his brother was waiting on him, clearing his throat since Ray Jr. and Yelina were with him. "Have you seen Xander since this morning?"
"He's still ranting at Di, who wanted me to do this year's runway show," Ray offered with a small grin. "I'm debating it with Mom since my sperm donor is being such an asshole."
"Language," his mother said impatiently. "I do wish you would quit swearing, son."
"Sorry, mom. Not exactly in a happy mood today. I'm getting moody teenager problems later than I did puberty." They shared a look then he looked at his uncle. "Did you find out who did it yet?"
"Yes, we did. There were clear fingerprints, but I believe it may lead back to Ray's old undercover case. May I borrow him?" They both nodded. Ray sighed as he stood up, following him off onto the walking path so they had privacy. "Ray. Why was there a pipe among the evidence Eric found?" he asked calmly.
"I don't know."
Horatio looked at him, stopping his brother. "Raymond." His brother flinched. "We can pull DNA off those. Since we don't have yours on file, they compared it to mine. So either you or your son is smoking. Would you like to tell me something about you entering rehab?"
"Is your son going to need to?" he asked calmly.
"He'd better not!"
"Then you had better, Ray. Because if you go back to that life, I can guarantee you I will cover up for your son killing you. No questions asked. As would Xander." Ray shivered. "Now, I know you had nothing personally to do with his brakes being tampered with, but...."
Horatio held up a hand to stop him. "I know that. The fingerprint came back as Melicisia Gork. Do you remember her?" Ray nodded, his whole face tightening up. "Is there something you'd like to tell me about her, Ray?"
"No. We weren't like that. I stuck with Suzie most of the time," he said quietly, glancing around. "Horatio, you know I didn't...."
"I know, Ray, but I also know it leads back to you and I need to know why and how. If it's related to the incident at the station or not."
"I told you to quit being so open."
"Ray, I'm going to hit you soon," Horatio warned. He backed off again. "Thank you. You're shaking. Time for your fix?"
"No!" He looked at his hands, then put them in his pocket. He looked at his brother. "I'm sorry, okay?"
"I'm not the only one you need to apologize to, Raymond, nor is that good enough for me or your son. Now then, how is this related back to the incident at the station?"
"I don't know, Horatio. I haven't seen her. I swear. I'm using someone new and everything."
"Ray, rehab. Tomorrow," he said quietly. "Or else I will tell her about the pipe. Do you understand me?" Ray nodded quickly. "Good. Then go tell them you're having flashbacks and that you think it could help you since you're tempted. That you're doing it to make sure you're not going to go back. Then pray like hell he believes you."
"I don't want you telling my son about that stuff, Horatio."
"Raymond, I'm his uncle. It's only right he comes to me for information that his mother can't or won't give him. That's what family is for. Now, I believe you need to tell your wife something?"
"Fine." He walked back that way, going to talk to his family. "Guys?"
"You're shaking," Ray Jr. noted. "Not the first time today either. On it again?"
"No. It's flashbacks and sometimes the desire creeps up. Horatio's suggested I hit rehab to work out that need for now." Yelina smiled at that. "I'm going to find out where I'm going tonight and check myself in tomorrow. I don't want to disappoint you guys."
"Then how was Xander's brakes leading back to you, father?" Ray asked shrewdly, staring him down just like his uncle.
"Sometimes I think you should've been a redhead," his mother teased.
He grinned at her. "Hey, I take after the good genes on both sides." He looked at his father again. "Well?"
"We found evidence back to one of the people he was assigned to bust," Horatio said as he rejoined them. "Someone named Melicisia Gork."
"I remember her. She was a pretty little brunette," Yelina said, looking at her husband. "Were you sleeping with her too? Should I prepare myself for another stepchild?"
"No. We were never like that," Ray assured her. "Only Suzie."
"Thank you." She stood up. "While you're there, get your head on straight, Ray, or don't come back."
"I plan on it."
"Good." She looked at her son, then at Horatio. "Have you tried calling?"
"On my way over, he hasn't answered. I know he went to the lawyer's because I got an update on the scene I was on. Nothing further yet however." He moved closer. "Ray, your father expressed some discomfort with the questions you've been asking me."
"He'd rather I go out to try it?" he countered, looking at his father, who glared at him. "Your choice. Trying or asking to see if I want to try. I figured I'd do it the smart way instead of what you did. By the way, can you taste the difference between women?"
"Yes. Haven't you tried?"
"Both my girlfriends so far aren't into the long, slow thing yet. Closets are more their thing." He shrugged. "Not like I remember the night she drugged me and stuck me in the orgy either. So I can't really compare."
"Yelina, did we arrest this young woman?"
"She's in Kansas at a boarding school. I did threaten her mother with it."
"Oh, that one. You've only had two girlfriends?"
"I got for quality, not quantity, father. Another area I take after Uncle Horatio in." He looked at his uncle. "Can I be adopted?"
"If your mother agrees," he said with a small smirk.
"That's one way to pay for his college," Yelina noted dryly. "If you and Xander did adopt him, he'd have to make sure not to teach my son how to attract the wrong sort."
"Definitely." He patted Ray on the back. "We'll figure it out as a family."
"Good. Can I be mad at Suzie?"
"She was high, son. She wasn't in control of her life," Ray said quietly. "Neither was I."
"While that's wonderful and all, I don't begrudge Madison anything. She's a sweet little princess. I love my half-sister and I'm going to be the guy standing there to threaten her boyfriends for her. I'm not sure I like her mother though."
"She's trying very hard to get her life back together," Horatio offered. "She's doing it for Madison, to be a good mother." Ray nodded at that. "I'm not sure if she realized Ray was married when it happened, Ray." His nephew nodded at that. "Let the past go on that issue and love Madison because she deserves it."
"Oh, I do. I love my little sister." He looked at his mother. "If you marry someone, I want a sibling somehow." He walked off with his uncle to talk to him about dinner. He was perpetually hungry these days.
"He's thinking far in the future. I want to make sure I'm clean and staying clean before I go any further than dating."
"I'm not sure he was talking about you and I marrying again," she noted calmly. "He's signed me up on some stupid dating site recently." She looked at her husband. "You used?"
He looked at her. He knew if he lied he lost all hope and chances. "Once. The need came back. I'm sorry, Yelina."
"You will get clean and stay clean before you do more than talk with my son, Raymond. Or else you will die. He won't have to cover up our son killing you, he'll have to cover up me killing you." She walked off, going to talk with her family. On the way she called Madison to see how she was. "Madison, it's Yelina. How are you doing, sweetheart?" She smiled at that. "Good. That's very good. Can you have visitors tonight? I know Ray wanted to come see you. Of course, if she's there. Suzie, Yelina. Ray wanted to see her tonight. Would it be a good time?" She smiled. "That would be fine. He's suspended at the moment. No, his girlfriend admitted they had sex and the school apparently discriminates against teenagers being teenagers. He's fine. Thank you, dear. We'll see you tomorrow. Yes, I figured you might have. I'll explain that tomorrow but he won't be with us. Because the need hit him again and he's making sure he's going to stay clean. We haven't talked about it but Ray wishes to be her big brother for real. Mentioned threatening boyfriends in the future for her and the like," she offered as she caught up to them. Horatio smiled at her. "Ray, we're going to see Madison tomorrow afternoon."
"Cool with me. She need more books?" Yelina listened then nodded. "Then I'll go book shopping in the morning, mom. I'll see you then, Maddy." She smiled at that. He grinned at his uncle. "She is so precious and innocent."
"She is. All children start out that way."
"Then why is Eric so evil?"
Horatio snorted, shaking his head. "He's not, Ray, he's a toddler. They're like that."
"Can I be like the big Eric some day then?"
"If you date like he does, I will whip you," his mother assured him.
Yelina listened. "Tomorrow, Suzie. That's fine. I have tomorrow off anyway. I took a few days of vacation leave to spend time with my son. Of course. We'll see you then. Good bye." She hung up and the phone went back into her pocket. "Visiting hours start at one."
"Sure. We can go book shopping then hit lunch, then go." Ray took her arm, giving her a smile. "So, is the guy who answered nice?"
"Horatio, he set me up with a personal site," she complained.
"A woman like you shouldn't be cooped up in the house," Horatio agreed. "I'm sure it was tasteful and decorous. Plus you might meet someone nice."
"So far I've met two lesbians and a very blond German man who likes Brazilian women." He smiled a bit at that. "You knew?" He nodded. She hit him on the arm. "You probably paid for it."
"Not like you're dating, mom," Ray complained. "I mean, you went from Dad to Rick Stetler. You have better taste than that." He patted her on the arm. "You really do. I get my taste from you so I know you do."
She swatted him too, just because he deserved it.
Horatio walked into the house and listened. No Xander noises. "Xander?" he called. He heard a shift in the bedroom and headed that way, putting his gun and badge up. Xander was in bed, asleep. He looked at the clock, it was only nine. He frowned as he got undressed and laid next to him, waking him up. "I do that because I don't want you to worry," he said quietly. "Making you paranoid won't solve the problem." Xander glared at him. "It won't. All it would do is make you miserable and jumpy, Xander. A mate protects what's theirs. I did tell you part of it, just not about the nitroglycerin. With the sugar in there, it wouldn't have started anyway."
"You're also hiding the fact that there were two different fingerprints and you couldn't be sure the nitro wasn't put in by itself."
"I am?" he asked calmly. "How do you know about that?"
"Willow asked Ryan."
"You could have asked me."
"Would you have answered?" Horatio nodded. "Honestly?"
"Yes." Xander grimaced at that. "I would have. I didn't want to make you worry about more than idiotic bigots, Xander. This isn't right and it's not healthy for you. There's been too much violence in your life already and I'm scared I'll lose you to it."
"With your job?" Xander prompted.
"Even with my job. I'm usually safer than you are. No one would dare touch me, only you." He stroked over his cheek. "Why are you trying to sleep at nine at night?"
"Nothing else to do."
"I could fix that," he offered, shifting closer. Xander relaxed against his body, letting him stroke his back. "What did you want to do for our anniversary?"
"That's in a few months, Horatio."
"The first time I met you is next week," he offered. Xander gave him a look. "It is."
"We're celebrating me coming to you being totally pissed off?"
"I knew you were special when I met you and read Tim's letter. I didn't realize how special but I did realize you were special." He stroked down his back again. "Would you like to go out that night?" Xander shrugged. "We can."
"Should we with the current problems?"
"We should. If we let them rule our lives, they win." Xander nodded, pressing his face against Horatio's chest. "You're warm. Did you spend a lot of time outside?"
"No, Di's got a cold and I'm catching it from the baby," he said tiredly. "Sorry if I transfer it."
"They make medicine for that, Xander. You and I can both take some."
"I did, that's why I'm in bed."
"Ah." He went back to stroking him. "Ray Jr. mentioned you two being offered spots in her show this time." Xander yawned and nodded against his chest. "Did you want to?"
"Up to you. Would you let me?"
"As long as I was there and nothing was that pornographic, Xander. Is it in New York again?" Xander yawned again and nodded. "Is she going to try to talk Danny back into it?"
"She's already trying to talk them both into it but they're being fussy."
"We'll talk about it tomorrow, Xander. Did you get one of the two cars back?"
"The porsche should be outside by the time we get up. They were bringing it over first thing in the morning after the new alarm came in. The other car's going to need a whole new engine and stuff." He closed his eyes and snuggled into the welcoming arms. "I'm sorry I threw the fit."
"I was at fault, Xander. Don't worry about it," he promised quietly. Xander smiled, he could feel it. "When do we get the baby again?"
"All weekend if we want him. She's got to do a special order for some stripper down here." He put a leg over Horatio's. "Sorry if I get too cuddly. I do that when I get sick."
"It's all right. I can be clung to. I make a good security blanket."
Xander pinched him. "If I was here for that, it'd be different. Get it right, I'm here for the hot sex, Horatio."
Horatio smiled at that and nodded. "I know you are. As soon as I need medicine to keep up with you I'll probably lose you."
Xander looked up at him, staring into his eyes with a frown. "Should you need that or end up in a wheelchair because of work, I will be running an IV of the stuff through you so we won't have a problem." Horatio gave him a slightly goofy smile at that thought. "We understood? You get me to leave you over someone else's dead and mutilated corpse, which your crew would never get to work."
"Yes, dear. I know you won't ever leave me. Even if I do end up injured or unable to perform." He pulled him closer again, giving him a gentle kiss.
"Shouldn't, you'll get sick," Xander said weakly. Horatio kissed him again. "Now you'll really get sick."
"I've got sick time if I need it," he promised. He kissed him again. "Are you about to go back to sleep?" Xander shook his head and yawned, making him smile. "Are you sure?"
"I've got time. It's not strong enough, I'm still sniffling." Horatio smirked and got out the lube. "Horatio."
"Hush, Xander. I know you went for your new test this morning. We'll be celebrating another clean test in a few days with something wildly kinky and special." He spread his mate open, feeling him wiggling and throb around him. Xander flipped onto his other side, setting the position and pace tonight. Horatio slid into his body, going gently and slowly, what Xander needed to go back to sleep and have good dreams all night. Xander fell asleep right after getting off but Horatio had a few more minutes before he came, using the time to appreciate the body that had been given to him to hold and cherish. He could have lost it earlier. Xander could have walked off. He knew he had driven to the airport and sat there staring at the building - one of the cops out there wanted to know if there was a problem or if he was there to pick up someone. He cuddled up to his back, letting himself fall out whenever he was ready. Xander wiggled back into his arms, flipping over to hold him. It was definitely more than just sex between them.
Xander looked up as someone called his name, waving Speed over. "Hey." He frowned at the letter in his hand. "My payment's due today and the bank's still locked," he complained, looking at his 'dad'. "No, that's not a hint."
"I reinvested that when you said you would pay for it." He sat beside him, looking at the letter. "What's that?"
"From the coach." He handed it over. "He said I'm about as good as I'm probably going to get, even with more time in training. I know I called Eric. Where's he?"
"His sister needed him. He said you'd be buying him dinner later." He looked it over, then at him. "Up to you, kid. You're good, he said you're good, better than at least half the others on the team. Did you want to give it another shot?"
"I don't know." He shrugged. "I like swimming, but I'm not terribly happy with the push to win. I'm the only one I want to prove it to, ya know?" Speed nodded, handing it back. "I don't know what I'm thinking."
"About?" Eric asked as he sat down.
"She was called in for another look over," he said, frowning a bit. "What's up?" Xander handed him the letter and he looked at it. "That's about where I was," he admitted, sitting beside him. "So it's up to you."
"I'm the sort that I'd like to prove it to myself, but the competition and the pushing stuff sucks," Xander told him.
"I've seen that, but it's the competitions that proves how good you are to yourself," Eric reminded him. They'd been over this before. "What about school this semester?"
"I've told the Registrar about the bank stuff and they're seeing if they can give me a few extra days without kicking my classes. I've got to check back later and talk to the bank." He shrugged a bit. "It's supposed to come out of my trust that got set up. With it locked, it screwed up a lot of stuff."
"I bet," Eric agreed. "It's still up to you, Xander. This is your off semester so you'd only be doing training." He shrugged. "You're getting really good at diving. I can see you going father with that than swimming."
"Maybe." He looked at Speed, then at him. "Is it worth it?"
"To some. To prove it to yourself? That's something only you can say." He looked outside. "Ah, the local anti-gay frat is trying stuff."
Xander looked and moaned. "Wonderful." He looked at Speed, then at Eric. "Would I still be allowed on the team if I can't get stuff together this semester?" Eric nodded. "You're sure?"
"Plenty of us were. It's probably an ethically gray area but you've got a good reason for missing this semester if you can't get into the funds."
"What about the emergency accounts?" Speed asked.
"That would drain one of them," Xander said quietly. "I can't make payment arrangements since I'm on AP for my crappy Chem grade last semester. I missed the jock standard by point-two last semester." He heard shouting and looked out there. "'Scuse me. They're picking on one of the glam queens." He got up and walked out there, glaring at the guy. "Do we have problems?" The frat brothers backed off. "Rich, man, head off."
"Thank you, Xander." He hurried off, going to alert the campus police.
Xander looked at them. "You're entitled to your beliefs until it gets in the way of me thinking or someone else living, guys. This isn't quiet and calm protest, or even meaningful protests. That's bullying. Learn the difference." He turned to walk off but one of them grabbed him. Xander got free and pushed him off. "Don't. You don't want that." He nodded at the security officer standing there. "I made them leave Rich alone."
"I saw. Thanks, Harris."
"Not an issue. This isn't a protest, this is bullying." He walked off again but one of them screamed something rude and pounced him. Xander got free and looked down at him. "How dumb are you?" He looked at the officer, then pointed. "You want him now or later?"
"Now." He pulled the kid up. "Will you press charges?"
"Not if he gets help. He obviously needs help. He can't understand the difference between his opinion and our lives." He stared at the other kid, making him swallow. "Learn the difference, kid, or else next time it might be someone you kill." He walked off shaking his head, sitting down again. "Sorry about that."
"It happens," Speed admitted. He tapped the letter a few times. "So, are you going to try?" Xander nodded. "Even though you'll have to compete?" Xander nodded a second time. "You're sure? It's putting stress on you, Xander."
"I know. At least you guys won't have to babysit me this time."
"Fat chance," Eric snorted. "I'm reliving my youth by working with you." He smirked at the coach coming over. "We're talking about the letter."
"I figured you were." He looked at Xander. "Are you going this semester?"
"If we can work out the money stuff. Someone in IAB wanted Horatio enough to try to get me arrested so he could get him. He locked my accounts." That got a whimper. "So I'm working on it, coach."
"Good. As long as you take at least nine hours, Harris. You've got to be at least part time."
"I missed jock standard GPA by point-two. I've got to take at least twelve."
"Hell." He nodded. "You're not the only one. Take whatever you can to bring it back up. You're going back to profiling?"
"I'm doing it every other semester," Xander admitted. "Doing the physical therapist stuff as my minor so I've got some classes I can understand now and then."
"That's good. Okay. Do what you can. All the scholarships are taken."
"I'm good on money, it's just locked in the bank thanks to the moron who insinuated he had a warrant." That got a small moan from Eric. "Yeah, that's why he did it," he said dryly, looking at him. "He claimed he had one to arrest me too but he would never produce it."
"Hell," Eric complained. "No wonder he got arrested." He looked at Speed, who smirked. "You didn't tell me the good gossip."
"Of course not. I figured Marisol would've since she heard it from Calleigh."
"No." He pouted a bit, looking at Xander. "Please don't get mad at my sister for liking Horatio?"
"Everyone can like Horatio, it's when they touch him I get jealous," Xander said dryly. Eric grinned at that. He looked at the coach again. "It may be one of those semesters where I can't make it."
"You can't do that. Rules, kid." He shrugged. "I'll let the coaches know, maybe there's something we can work out."
"I'm on Academic Probation, no payment arrangements possible," he said bitterly. "I really can't?" The coach shook his head. "Hell."
"I thought you could," Eric complained.
"They tightened that loophole unless he can prove it was for a good reason. If it's something like money and he's as good as he is, we'd have to justify why we didn't give him a scholarship."
"Because I've got money, it's from that idiot's investigation to make people paranoid." He looked at him. "By the way, I got a porsche."
"I don't know."
"I don't know, yet. Still working on that one, coach." He shrugged. "It showed up night before last."
"Wonderful." He patted him on the back. "Do whatever you can, kid. Good luck." He walked off, going to tell the other coaches what was going on. It was clear Harris was really upset about the guy trying to take his mate that way. He'd have sued by now but with who Horatio was, it was probably not possible.
Xander looked at Eric. "Do I want to keep going?" he asked quietly.
"The only way you can prove to yourself how good you are is to keep going," he said pragmatically.
"And we'll still be at as many matches as we can," Speed assured him.
"I won't need the babysitter."
"You will, kid, plus we're family," Speed reminded him, flipping him on the forehead. "Quit complaining." He looked at him. "So, what did Diana say about this year's fashion show?"
"She wants Ray Jr. and I back." He shrugged. "I told her it was up to Horatio."
"Horatio's taking her out to lunch," Eric said with a grin. He looked at his phone as it went off. "Marisol's done so I'm going to pick her up. Need a ride?"
"Nope. The car's fixed and in the bookstore parking lot. Thanks anyway, Eric."
"You're welcome. Think about it, Xander. It's worth it to prove it to yourself. I knew I had it but my studies had to come first." He shrugged and headed off to pick up his sister.
Speed nodded. "It is, Xan. That way you can't wonder in ten years or so." Xander nodded at that. He saw a few jocks coming their way. "Any other good news?" He folded up the letter and handed it back. Xander put it in his pocket. "What're you taking this semester?"
"Two PT classes and one of the English mandatories, plus something from my profiling mentor." He shrugged. "Easy stuff mostly."
"Good." He looked at the jocks as they stopped beside the table. "Hey, guys."
Xander looked at them and grinned. "Hey, guys. Rich got corned by Toddy, Barry."
"I heard. You have him arrested?"
"I said I wouldn't press charges if he'd get help. I leave it up to the officer and Rich, man. He pounced me." That got an amused snort. "Exactly. Are they still out there?"
"Yeah, and the gay union is out there kissing and cuddling in front of them," another of them said, his voice deeper. "What's up for this semester?"
"Problems with Horatio's work. Nothing major but a small issue at the moment. I'm still arranging for classes."
"Even if they do dump it, you can always do a late register," Speed reminded him.
"Point." He looked at the guys again. "They decided I was a bad guy." That got some snickers. "So they're investigating me and locked my trust." That got even more laughs. "Exactly. Hence us fighting with it. How about you guys?"
"Scholarship," they mostly agreed.
"My trust's clean and blessed by the IRS," the other guy said with a wink.
"They like me, it's the stupid people who sugared my gas tank the other day." That got some more snickers. "Seriously." He shrugged. "Gotta figure they're out there. After all, guys like Toddy graduate and do work." That got some smiles and they walked off. He looked at his 'dad'. "Dad?" Speed gave him an interested look. "Buy me lunch?"
"Sure, kid." They got up and went to get some food, coming back to find their table taken but there was an open one outside. It was a nice day and there was an umbrella.
Diana hugged Xander when he walked in. "I love you."
"I love you too. Why?"
"Horatio said you could do it but he wanted you to be dangerous and not slutty this time." She pinched him on the cheek. "So I'm doing a different line for you and Ray this time." She winked and walked him into the back room. "Ray came to me earlier and said he'd do it after a screaming match with his mother over it for some reason. He suggested a second show locally."
"It's probably going to get him into more trouble with his school. They've suspended him for having sex."
"Wonderful," she said bitterly. "You got any good news?"
"I'll have to do a late register this year. They had to drop my classes thanks to the bank." He shrugged. "We're working on it."
"Good!" She let him into the work area, making Ray grin at him. "Here he is. Ray, not that one, dear, that one'll go to Xander."
"No, let him. He can do some stalking menace. I'll work on his state of mind with him." He looked around and pulled down a pair of pants, holding them up to the light. "Are these mine?" She nodded so he went to try them on. She had his exact measurements and had kept up with them when he gained some muscle. He came out and she frowned, shaking her head. "What?"
"You look like you're wearing bell-bottom chaps, Xander," Ray teased.
Xander looked in the mirror and shuddered, going to change out of them, leaving him in his boxer shorts. She handed him more clothes so he went to try it on. "Good thing I took a shower today, Di."
"It is. Do you have Eric?"
"Horatio took him with him."
"Then he's probably playing with him." He came out and she frowned at him. "What?" he whined. He looked at himself in the mirror, then at her. "I look cheap." He went to change and came out to prowl around. She always kept some stuff back for him. He found one outfit he had requested and pulled it out, sliding into it then straightening up and strolling back.
"That's what I need!" she said happily, grabbing a sketchpad to get to work.
Xander looked at Ray, handing him his former stack of clothes. "Here. You can be slutty."
"My mother complained about that tendency today." He shrugged and went to change, coming out in one of those outfits. She moaned and fit it to him with some pins, then drew some more for him and Xander both while they sat and inspired her. "So, Xander, about the bondage stuff?" Xander grinned. "You ever try it?"
"I'm not really comfortable with being tied down. I've been taken a few times and I start to panic when I can't move freely. Every now and then I get *held* still but not tied down. Besides, I'm not sure Horatio plays that way." He shrugged and winced. "Dear, too tight across the shoulders." She got up to fix that for him, kissing him on the cheek. He shifted his legs further apart, making her moan and get back to work. He grinned at him. "These pants are not the type to get hard in."
"Those are in the blue cabinet, Xander baby. Ray's are in the red cabinet," she said absently. "Give me ten more and you two can change." They both nodded.
Xander looked at him again. "If I were to try it, I'd have to work my way up to it. Horatio is probably the only one who could ever be trusted to tie me down. I wouldn't let anyone else near me while I'm laying down and even if I wasn't faithful it'd never happen." Ray nodded, accepting that. "You?"
"I'm not sure. I'm still thinking about it."
Xander shifted, standing up to push down the legs of the pants. She came over to check on the fit, then frowned. He looked at her. "You made 'em."
"I know. Go change." She went back to finishing up her sketches while they went to change from their special cabinets full of stuff. Xander moaned. "Too tight?" she asked.
"No. Just tight." He came out buttoning the shirt up and smoothed down the legs of the pants before sitting again. He looked at Ray, who was blushing in his leather pants. "Those are cute on you. Sit." Ray sat and wiggled, then got up to pull his underwear out of his crack before sitting down again. "That's why I wear thongs," he said happily, grinning at him. "Okay, truth, Ray. Do you see yourself as the guy in charge? The one checking the cuffs, the one handling the headspace? The one who led everything? Or do you see yourself as the guy tied down and begging for more?"
Ray coughed and blushed, looking down, giving him a sideways look. "I hadn't gotten that graphic yet, Xander."
Xander nodded. "Sorry."
"No, that's okay." He stood up. "Di, these are looser than your usual set."
"Sometimes you need room to grow and not tell everyone what you're doing, Ray. I'm still working on your pair of skin leathers." She looked at him. "You could be a switch. Some people need both now and then." She got back to her drawing. "Xander, shirt open maybe?" He opened the shirt and let it hang. "Thank you."
"Think you could make Willow something for Ryan's pleasure?" Xander asked. "She's feeling fat."
"I hadn't thought about maternity wear. What's her sizes?" Xander handed over a piece of paper from his outside pants. She looked it over and nodded. "I have something that'll highlight the baby and one that'll do great things for her breasts." She got back to work, putting that aside. "Xander, turn this way and think smutty Horatio thoughts?" He closed his eyes and then shivered, shifting so she could see him better. "Thank you." She grinned at Ray. "Think about being tied down, Ray. Could you handle not being in charge, letting your girlfriend do anything she wanted to you? No chance to complain?"
He shivered and whimpered, shifting when he got hard. "God, Di!" he whined.
"Sorry, baby. You look good like that." She grinned at him. "Do you think you'd like that more or just as much as being the one doing the teasing and being mean by not giving them what they think they want?" Ray's stomach tensed and he got harder. "Ah, a switch." She nodded and started a new page of work. "Xander, baby, Horatio would tie you down and feast on you all day."
"Di," he moaned. He had to adjust himself in the tight pants. "You didn't give me enough room to get this hard."
"Keep fussing, Xander. Watch me put you in something that you need a PA to hold yourself down to not ruin the lines."
"Huh?" Ray asked.
"The Prince Albert piercing started way back when," she instructed. "Back when male fashion had totally flat fronted pants. Like you couldn't show you had a dick, much less get hard. So the guys back then, the ones who catered to fashion, had something called a dressing ring put in. It's the same as a PA today, but they used it to hitch their cocks to their leg with a garter, hence it being called 'dressing' as to which side you hang. It's called a PA because it was thought Prince Albert had one." She grinned at him. "You'd do well with one."
"Mom said I couldn't get pierced," he complained. "She eased off until the sperm donor came back."
"Hmm." She looked at him, then at his cock, then back at him. "You're how old?"
"You can do any piercing you want, baby. You have to be eighteen to get a tattoo but not a piercing. I'm sure Xander's thought about it."
"Xander has one," Xander assured her dryly, smirking at her.
"You do? I've never seen it."
"I've got a buried treasure piercing."
"Ow," she moaned. "Why?"
"It was recommended and it's *incredible* during oral sex." He looked at Ray. "I was thinking about a nipple ring; they say it's a good thing for sex. Unfortunately, Horatio thinks that'd be a bad thing." He grinned at him. "Eric and Speed were talking about me getting another one now that Speed's quit fussing about me getting any of them."
"Can I go?"
"Sure. We'll go together and I'll hold your hand." They shared a smirk. "You get to tell your mother."
"Can you adopt me? Your family is less tense than mine." He frowned at him. "Nipple rings really do good?"
"*Really* do good," Di agreed happily. "I loved mine before I had to take it out to nurse." She looked at Xander. "He can tell you about that." Xander nodded about that. "I was thinking about a new hoodie going in when I had my nipple redone. I'm not sure though."
"Di, with the way you get off, you'd never wake up from the post-orgasm nap," Xander said dryly.
"Point. Which is what's stopping me." She grinned and got back to work. "Ray, more smutty thoughts please?"
Xander leaned over to whisper in his ear, making Ray tense up, hiss air through his nose, and close his eyes in pleasure of the thought. "I've got to do something with my old het leanings," he teased, nudging him. His phone rang so he got up to get it, bending over. Di moaned and drew something else. "Harris," he answered, turning to tease her. She swatted him, making him smirk and shift, showing her both sides in profile. "Thank you. Yes, it's good that it has. When can I expect my tuition to be paid? Thank you." He hung up. "Good news! My accounts are all open!" He came back and loomed over her, staring at the drawing. "My cock's bigger than that," he hissed in her ear. "Or don't you remember?" She shivered and adjusted the drawing, then got back to work. He sat down, smirking since Ray was lost in his own smutty thoughts. He loved giving Di ideas for her smutty clothing lines. He'd get to pounce Horatio later.
Xander tapped on Yelina's door, smiling at her when she answered it. "I bring home one tired son. We've been giving DI smutty thoughts all afternoon and I gave him one by accident." She smirked at that, giving him a look. "Well, Di needs smutty thoughts to design my wardrobe of choice." He held out his arms and turned around, making her make appreciative noises. "They're literally sprayed and spread on," he said happily. "It's something new that just came out." He went to the car and woke Ray up, bringing him up to the doorway. "One sleepy, content son."
"Thank you, Xander. Horatio is at home waiting on you."
"He'll get to peel me out of these," he said happily, heading back to his car and going home. He drove a bit fast, but it was a porsche so he excused it in himself. He pulled into the driveway, smiling at his mate as he opened the door. "Something new she came up with."
"Eric's here," he offered, looking him over. "Are those painted on?"
"Sprayed and spread." He tossed him a can and strolled past him, making sure he got in a good rub against his thigh. "It's very comfortable," he whispered in his ear. He walked into the back and tossed Speed and Eric cans. "She wanted you guys to tell her how it works in the clubs."
"What is it?" Eric asked, looking at the label, then the directions. "It's...."
"The things he's wearing," Speed said, staring at Xander's crotch. "At least it goes on over underwear." Xander just smirked a bit and nodded.
Eric looked at him and whimpered. "I'll try it out later tonight."
Horatio came out to get his mate and peel him out of his clothes. "He'll be back after he changes." He walked his mate into the bedroom, closing the door so he could stare him down. "Xander," he said, moving closer.
"She said it was a treat for you and I should go out with you tonight. It starts to flake after ten hours." He moved closer, kissing him and unbuttoning his shirt.
"It's going to be a long night," Horatio moaned, removing the hands from his shirt, staring into his eyes. "I've got to finish the other paperwork or no one gets a raise. I'm only home for dinner."
Xander shrugged. "Can I take dad and Eric out then?"
"As long as no one tries to touch what's mine." He looked him over, then got him a longer chocolate brown silk shirt to put on, helping him into it. It just barely covered his crotch, so it'd hint when he moved. "Boots." Xander put on his boots and Horatio watched as the spray on clothes shifted with him. "How intimate did she have to get, Xander?"
"She checked for missed spots. I put it on myself, dear," he said to ease the growling he could feel behind him. A hand came up to stroke over his ass, making him moan. "Oh, very nice. It makes you tactile-sensitive." He turned and kissed him again. "Are you sure you need food, baby?" he asked, nipping him on the neck. Horatio moaned and tipped his head to the side. Xander licked over the nipped spot and kissed him, smiling at him. "Definitely need dinner?"
"I do. If only so I don't pass out when I get home." He let a finger tease the crack of Xander's ass, making him shiver. "It stretches."
"Slightly. Not enough for me to be taken while wearing it. That much sweat might make it peel too."
"Interesting." He kissed him again. "You're never wearing this outside the house again, Xander. Enjoy the teasing while you've got bodyguards." Xander nodded. "Ray?"
"Didn't. He said he'd have to shave and it'd make him look funny." He teased some of Horatio's chest hair. "He thinks he's going to be furry. I told him you're not that furry, just pleasantly haired. He gave me a funny look."
"As I should." He stole one last kiss and let him go, looking over him. The shirt didn't hide the hard-on his mate had. "Disarm that before you go out. Dinner should be ready soon."
"Okay. Oh, I needed to ask you something. I told Ray I'd go with him when he went to get his nipple ring soon. That bother you?"
"No more holes, Xander, not unless they make you very hot." He kissed him again. "I mean it." He left, going to check on dinner.
"Ten more minutes," Speed called. He looked at Xander as he came out. "Damn it, I've got a date tonight."
"Calleigh and you can come with us," Eric assured him brightly. "We'll need someone armed anyway." He looked at the directions again. "Did you use gloves to spread this on?"
"You can, I did. Otherwise you could leave patterns. Di did one with her fingerprints all over it. It was her top." He shrugged and sat down, squeaking a bit. "If you get totally sweaty it could start to peel but it's supposed to last up to ten hours, including four in the clubs."
"It's a variation of liquid latex," Speed said, handing Eric his can. "If I let Calleigh see that, she'd want to check it out."
"She did say it is strong and safe enough to be used as an emergency condom but it doesn't have very much stretch so you'll have to put it on when you're hard and figure out how to leave yourself some room." He grinned at Eric. "It also makes you a bit more tactile. It's really warm going on."
"I'll try it after dinner. H?" Horatio came out with the food. "Is it okay if I go out with him?"
"He'd better have a guard," he ordered.
"Well, we can always ask Frank," Xander teased, making Eric giggle. Speed groaned and shook his head. "He'd make sure we weren't taken."
"I don't even want to imagine Frank Tripp in the clubs you two go to," Speed complained. "His wife might not survive the night."
Xander looked at Eric. "I was going to Powerhouse." Eric nodded, liking that idea. "It's generally a safe club even though it is on the club whore circuit."
"As long as you can get us in," Eric agreed. "How long does it take to firm up?"
"Twenty minutes. Then you can go back and dab on any spots you missed. It took me two tries to cover my piercing." Eric smirked at that. "It did."
"What do you have?"
"Ow," he moaned.
"About what I said," Speed assured him, looking at Horatio. "You?"
"I found it, and yes, I thought it hurt as well." He ate a bite. "Eat, boys. You'll need the energy to protect Xander or to make Calleigh behave."
Speed snorted. "That's possible?" He looked at his son. "Can I borrow the car, son?"
Xander smirked. "Then I can't drive us there."
"We can take a cab," Eric ordered. "That way we don't have to worry about it." Xander pulled the keys off his waist and handed them to Speed. "Any luck with the bank?"
"Everything will be back to normal tomorrow. My trust check was cut today. I need to have the college send them a request for money to get that paid. I have to reregister for classes since they ended up dumping them, and then I'm good." He ate a bite, reaching over to stroke over Horatio's hand. "I'm sorry I distracted you from doing this sooner."
"You didn't. They added more today," he said, smiling at him. "Behave tonight. I don't want to have to follow SWAT to rescue you from someone."
"We'll be good, H," Eric promised. "Nothing to make you doubt he cheated, no rescues needed, and we'll call Frank if we need backup." Horatio nodded, accepting that. "Should we stop to get Ray?"
"Nope. We gave Di a lot of smutty thoughts and I kinda gave him one so he's taking a nap. I had to get him home," he said happily. He looked at his mate, then at Eric. Then at Speed. "When's your next day off?"
"Tomorrow, that's why we're going out tonight, so I have time to recover." He smirked at him. "Why?"
"I was wondering if you'd help me find a nice shirt tomorrow."
"Sure. We can do that." He ate a bite. "I did good."
"You did better than I could ever do," Eric assured him. He glanced at Xander, then at Horatio. "H?" Horatio looked at him, eyes staring into him. "We talked about Marisol earlier."
"I'm not jealous. Anyone with eyes should want what I've got," Xander assured him happily. "As long as it never becomes a trio or her being the one you sneak off to go sleep with, I'm good."
"I'd never do that, Xander."
"I know, just setting a firm boundary line, Horatio. She could use some more support in her fight." He nodded, accepting that. "I don't mind that you have female friends, babe. I'm not that jealous. At least not until they touch or kiss." He shrugged. "We all know the only one I've got like that is Di." He ate another bite, staring at his mate, who nodded at that agreement. "Oh, dad, present in the trunk for Ryan. One of us has to drop it to him tonight or tomorrow."
"He's got the day-after-tomorrow off," Eric offered. "What's in it?"
"Di made Willow something." He gave him a smug smirk. "She thought her pregnant belly should be worshiped by her mate."
"I'll drop it off tonight," Speed assured him. He checked his watch. "I'm going to be late."
"No tickets in my car or else they might ask if you're sleeping with Horatio too," Xander joked.
"No tickets," he agreed. He hugged his son and punched Eric on the arm. "See you guys tomorrow. Thanks, H."
"Thank you for cooking." Speed headed off. Horatio looked at Eric. "Maybe I should call Frank to warn him."
"Nah, we'll stop by and pick him up," Eric assured him happily. "If I look half as hot at your boy there, it's going to need a protection detail." Horatio gave him a look. "I'd never let Xander be taken, H. You know that."
"I know, I'm counting on it, Eric."
"I can take care of myself," Xander noted dryly. "Really, guys. I can even bring my wrist harness for my throwing dagger with me." Eric gave him a look. "What? I can."
"You'd get stopped at the door."
"Powerhouse doesn't have a metal detector, Eric. They've got scary bouncers instead." He finished up and kissed his mate deeply, taking a bite of his dinner too. "Finish up so you can come home sooner, or join us there if we're not back yet. I'll bring my phone." Horatio nodded, so Xander went to check his hair and fuss with it.
Eric got up to get seconds. He'd need it. Xander hadn't teased in a while and he was bouncy tonight. He and Horatio shared a look. "He'll be perfectly safe. I promise."
"He'd better be. Otherwise we'll have to call Don Flack down to guard him."
"He might like that," Xander called from the bathroom. "Maybe next weekend since he's got it off?"
"We'll see," Horatio called back, shaking his head.
Speed pulled up in front of Ryan's building, getting out and getting into the trunk. He found the present in the bag and checked it, whistling at the lump of fabric. He'd seen that stuff before. It was see-through in the right light. He walked over and knocked on Ryan's door, getting the guy himself. He held out the bag. "Diana made it for Willow at Xander's urging. He said Di said she should be worshiped since she's pregnant." He shrugged. "Keep an ear out for Eric and Xander, please? They're going out together, alone." Ryan nodded at that. "Thanks." He went back to the car, making sure the trunk was closed.
Ryan looked inside the bag, pulling out the long dress. He looked at his wife, who was making dinner, then it. He knew Di's clothes did fantastic things for the body. He had a few outfits himself. He found another one inside and decided that was more like it. He walked in there, kissing her on the back of the neck. "Diana sent you some stuff," he offered, handing over the first outfit. "Wear this for me tonight?" he whispered in her ear, making her shiver and nod quickly. "I'll cook. You change." She went to change, coming back in it. It made her chest look fantastic but it softly flowed around her stomach, making her look less pregnant than she was. He put the food off to the side and turned off the stove. He had a wife to worship since she deserved it in that outfit. She giggled and swatted him but that was fine. He liked a playful Willow. It was one of his favorite things about her.
Xander got out of the cab and Eric followed, walking up to the VIP entrance. The bouncer looked at him. Xander grinned. He continued to stare. "Let's not do this, guys?" he asked quietly. "We're trying stuff out for Di. You like it?"
"Darkness, you look dangerous and like you're going to be stolen," one of them told him. "You and your little friend." He looked Eric over, then at him. "You and your boy over with?"
"Hell no," Eric snorted. "I'm his bodyguard tonight." He smiled sweetly. "I'm Delko. I'm under Horatio at work."
The bouncer moaned. "Lucky guy. You get to stare at that ass every day." Xander gave him a long look. "Just admiring from a distance."
"As long as it stays at admiration," Xander said sweetly. "If you insist, we have an officer we can call but he's not exactly the normal sort."
"Please," the second bouncer ordered. "Go up to the VIP room until he gets here. What's he look like?"
"Detective Tripp," Eric offered. They shared a look and nodded at that. He led Xander inside and up to the VIP section. The bouncer at that rope just moaned and waved them inside. "Thanks." He got them a drink and a woman in there drooled as she paid for it. "Thank you. We're trying stuff out for Diana tonight." He moved closer and she felt his legs. "It's spray on."
"It's softer than the latex." She got in a good grope. "You're very dangerous for me."
He grinned. "I like dangerous at times."
Xander reclined and grinned at the music going on. "I'm going onto the floor as soon as Frank gets here, Eric. I'll be fine in here with bouncers around me." Eric nodded and took her out into the crowd while Xander sipped his drink. The bartender gave him a funny look for his maple syrup and coke request but it was honored beautifully.
Frank walked up to the front of the club, flashing his badge. "I'm on protection for Harris and Delko?"
"Harris is in the VIP room and Delko is out on the floor. You've got a good view from in there and easy access," the bouncer said as he walked him inside. He smiled at Xander, who just smirked and waved a hand. He got up and headed out onto the floor.
"Tell me that's not paint."
"No, his designer buddy's supposedly created a nice, soft feeling, spray on outfit. It lasts for about four hours of clubbing and ten overall." He shrugged and pointed. "There's Delko. He's wearing the same stuff but he's put patterns into his." He clapped him on the back. "Harris isn't drinking, he doesn't. Delko's had a beer. He paying you?"
"Yup, first thing in the morning," he said, staring at Xander's moving body. Then at Eric's. He looked at the bouncer. "If I've got to move them later and they're belligerent, where do I take them?" An address was written out. "That's a what sort of club?" he asked, looking at the grinning man. "Sex club?"
"Hell no, Detective. We don't want his mate's wrath down on us!" That got a smirk from the detective. "That's a private, exclusive club on the same circuit. It's got a great floor but less than a hundred people a night. All pretty and horny." He grinned and walked off, sending him something to drink.
Frank settled in to watch. It wasn't hard and the boys were moving very well. His wife would be appreciative when he finally got home. If he finally got home. He saw Xander brush off someone and go back to his current partner. Someone else in the crowd moved the guy away from Xander. That was a good thing in his book. Eric was surrounded by women. He'd get more blackmail out of tonight than he had the triplets that Eric took home that one time.
Horatio answered his phone, frowning at the frenzied voice on the other side. "Frank, what happened?" he asked, signing one last form as he listened. He moaned and held his head. "Are they all right?" He nodded. "Thank you, Frank. How much are we paying you in the morning?" He looked over as Yelina walked in with a thermos. "I can ask Yelina if she'd like to go play with the boys so you can get home," he offered. She gave him a 'get real' look. "Eric and Xander are out in the clubs together and Frank needs to get home to his wife and sleep tonight."
She checked her watch, then looked at him. "I can do that," she decided. She took the phone. "Frank, where are you?" She blinked. "I heard something about that being *the* club to be at tonight on the way over here. What's going on? Ah." She nodded. "Thank you. Give me twenty." She hung up and looked at him. "You let him out when he's in a slutty mood?" He poured himself some coffee and nodded. "Was he at least wearing something different?"
"I made him put on a better shirt," he admitted, looking at her. "He needed to wear it out, Yelina. What's going on?"
"Oh, a small orgy." She walked out, going to change quickly and head there. By the time she got there, Frank was more than ready to pounce his wife. She tagged out with him, him showing her where each boy was. She even got his cold cup of coffee. It was taken by a waiter with a nice smile and she smiled back. "I'm Darkness' husband's sister-in-law."
He swallowed. "You're the mother of that other guy, the model, right?" She nodded, smirking a bit more. "Wow." He kissed her, making her moan. "You're a great woman." He went to get her something nicer to drink, bringing it back. "Here you go, Miss."
"Detective," he moaned. "Do you have handcuffs?"
"Yes, but it's to make sure those two get home." He whimpered and nodded, kissing her, again making her moan. "Thank you." He nodded and went back to his duties. She sipped her soda, watching the boys dance. Xander had girls around him, she was almost shocked. Then again, Eric was surrounded by women who were groping him. He looked like he was lost in his head, it was so cute. She saw Speed come in and pointed at them for him. He looked at them and sighed. "Why are you here?"
"Calleigh's cranky because I didn't let her play with the spray-on-clothes." He looked. "I should go rescue the son."
"They sent Frank home while he was desperate." She patted him on the cheek. "Someone knew who Ray was."
"She's used him in a few ads and this is the environment where they'd have seen it, Yelina." He looked out there and shook his head, heading out to rescue his son from the guy trying to move some of the women. "Hands off my son," he mouthed as he got closer. The guy backed off and moved in the opposite direction. He grabbed Xander around the waist, holding down the wrist with the knife. "It's me. Break time." Xander nodded, heading that way with a wink and a grin for the women. Who basically fell on each other. He moved over to get Eric free. He watched him for a minute, then tapped one of the women, getting an evil glare. "Time for him to take a break, ladies. Get him off the floor and make him get a drink. Otherwise I'll have to tell his friend." He pointed at Xander's girls. That got some grins and they drug Eric off the floor and to one of the back rooms. The waiter headed that way with nuts and beers all around so Eric would be fine. He smiled at the girls trying to dance with him. "I'm on bodyguard detail tonight," he told one, stroking her cheek. "We'll see if Xander wants me out here." He went back into the VIP lounge, looking at his son. "What did you do to them!"
"Danced," he said, sipping his usual cranberry icy drink. "Am I flaking yet?" he asked, looking himself over.
"Not that I can see," Yelina admitted, looking him over. "That was really sprayed on?" He nodded, taking another drink. "Slow down, you'll get a headache, Xander." She sat down, watching the crowd go at it. "Where's Eric?"
"The back room over there," he offered, pointing. "I made his women take him off the floor to get a drink." He looked at his son, shaking his head. "You're horrible at times, kid."
"I am not."
"You are," Yelina assured him. "I doubt many of those girls planned to go lesbian tonight, Xander." He just smiled. "It's getting late, dear."
Xander checked her watch. "It's only midnight, Yelina, and it's not like I've got a ton to do tomorrow. You might get Eric home soon. Or make sure he makes it home." He finished his drink and put it aside. Then he stood up and stretched.
"Nope, that's some flaking," Speed offered, pointing at a spot. "No sitting on leather when sweaty, it traps the heat." He smoothed it back out for him and it firmed under his fingers. "Good." He looked at Yelina. "I can stay. Make sure Eric gets home." She nodded, heading that way. Speed looked at his son, then around at the empty lounge, then back at him. "Shirt shopping?"
"Ray was talking about bondage stuff and it got me thinking that Horatio would be the only one I'd ever try that with," he admitted, sitting beside him so he could curl against his side. The waiter came in. "Can I have another one?" he asked, handing over his credit chip. That got a nod. "Dad?"
"Water. I'd better stay sober tonight with you dressed like that." The waiter nodded and headed off, bringing back their drinks. "Take the rest as a tip."
"Thank you, sir. The luscious detective?"
"Helping get Delko home." Speed sipped his water while the guy looked and headed that way to make sure she didn't need any...help. He looked at his son. "You're thinking about that stuff?"
"He's held me down a few times," he admitted quietly, sipping his drink. "He thinks I'm too bouncy at times." He blushed a bit and plucked at his shirt. "Besides, it could go very well with a touch of that stimulant lube."
Speed gave him a hug. "We'll talk about it, Xander. I don't have a problem with that. You should've sent Ray to me about this stuff." Xander looked at him. "I had a girlfriend who played that way." He took another drink, looking at the floor. "Are we taking Ray with us when we go shopping?"
"We should. His girlfriend wants to finger him while blowing him and he's embarrassed."
"Sure." He looked at him, grinning a bit. "You still had it on the floor, kiddo."
"I know," he agreed smugly. He grinned as Horatio came in. "Hi. Get done?"
"I did. Yelina brought me some coffee." He looked at them. "Are you two conspiring?" They gave him innocent looks. "As long as it doesn't explode at work. Xander?" Xander stood up, shooting Speed a grin as he took Horatio out onto the floor with him. The suitcoat got left in the lounge with Speed but that was fine with him.
Speed watched his son, thinking about how hot those two were and what his son was thinking about. It was enough to make any sane, sexual being want to watch. He watched as Xander made his mate growl at the women trying to get him back, but that was how Horatio got to be a bit evil now and then, it got it out of his system. Xander would be enjoying it later that night. Possibly a few times. Oh, well, looked like Horatio wasn't making it to work in the morning. Speed finished his water and took Xander's drink since it was virgin. He tasted it and grimaced. Or not. He motioned the waiter closer. "Darkness doesn't drink, ever. Tell the bartender he mixed in vodka." The waiter nodded and Xander was sent another drink with an apology. Xander frowned a bit but nodded that it was okay so the waiter hurried off with his thanks. Speed watched them share it, it was really hot watching Horatio get down with his boy. You never thought about the stalking predatory man Horatio could be, just that he had that balls of iron reputation at work. If the people at work could see him now, they'd all drool instead of piss themselves.
Xander moved closer and went to tempt his mate, staring into his eyes to make sure he knew it was all for him. Horatio pulled him against his chest and kissed him then let him go and let him go back to his teasing. That small, wicked smirk came out and Horatio smirked back, letting Xander do whatever he wanted for now.
Frank walked into Horatio's office the next afternoon. "Have a good late sleeping in?" he asked dryly.
"Yes, I did," he agreed patiently, looking at him. "Why?"
"Well, let's just say that someone figured out how to capture the film feed from the club last night, Horatio. Taped the whole thing." Horatio moaned. "Wolfe told someone who was drooling that he'd never cheat and he only teased for you now. It nearly got him beaten by a few of the female officers drooling over you both." Horatio shook his head. "But you looked really good out there, Horatio. I never thought your boy would make you go have fun with him."
"I've got to keep my boy happy, Frank," he offered smoothly, standing up. "How wide- spread is this?"
"Epidemic. Alexx has seen it and said her grandson was a slut only for you now, thankfully you tamed him." He smirked evilly. "I *could* tell computer services but that would mean interfering with the Xander underground."
"Frank, with those attacks a few weeks back," Horatio started.
"Please," Frank snorted. "No one drooling over him would attack him, Horatio. Besides, this'll make 'em more stupid and try something again, so we can catch them." That got a heated look. "It's the truth. By the way, the Chief said he looks just as hot now as he did then." He smirked and walked off whistling.
Horatio shook his head, calming himself down. He went to get some coffee from the breakroom, watching how many people stared and how many avoided his eyes.
"Horatio Caine!" Calliegh yelled. He turned to look at her so she walked up to him, poking him on the chest. "What happened to Eric?"
"He had left by the time I got there."
"I saw the tape, Horatio. I saw Speed have his harem there drag him off the floor." He gave her a look. "He did!"
"I'm sure it was to give him time to calm down and get a drink, Calleigh," he said quietly. "Did he not call off this morning?"
"No, he did. I called him just now and heard two or three different giggling voices at his place."
"Did you want to check on him?"
"Go. Tell Ryan you're going to check on him." She nodded, going to do that. He shook his head, finishing his trek for coffee. He came back and found a small present on his desk. He opened it and looked out the door. "Thank you, but I don't need that in the office," he called, putting the sample packs of lube and condoms into his desk drawer so he could bring them home later. He would get Speed for that later. Sending Eric home like that had been a bit too naughty for friends.
Speed honked his horn, getting Ray to the door. He waved and the kid came out. "I'm taking him to the shop my girlfriend used to use for toys. Coming?" Ray nodded and headed inside, coming out with his jacket and keys. He let the kid get into the back. "For the record, Ray, I had a girlfriend who dabbled. You and Xander can both ask me questions." He glanced at Xander. "Calleigh said the tape from the webfeed last night got shown at the station."
"Crap. Horatio's going to have his suit in a twist," Xander complained.
"Use it for your anniversary, Xander." Speed drove them off, heading for a quiet, private shop he knew about. It was on the edge of the city so no one would hopefully recognize any of them. Hopefully.
"Xander, do you think your fan will pop up again because of the tape?" Ray asked. "The new one."
"Not a clue," he admitted. "I wish I knew who had hired them." He glanced back at him. "When are you going to Di's again?"
"Monday after school. If I don't get expelled during the meeting on Friday."
"If they do, you can sue them," Speed noted. "It's wrong to discriminate that way."
"Yeah, but it's a religious school. Some of them, even at the college level from what I hear, make you sign a chastity vow. There's a few which don't allow dating at all."
Speed grimaced. "That's very short sighted and means you've got a high dropout of that faith's church." He changed lanes and got onto the highway. "We're heading just outside the city."
"Sure," Ray agreed. "Do you think you'll be able to find out who sent you the car?"
"The DMV wouldn't say who registered it. They said it was done in Xander's name so they didn't check ID's." Speed glanced at him in the mirror, then behind them. "We've got a tail."
Xander looked back. "Pull over, dad." He pulled over and the car went past them. "Some of the guys from school," he said thoughtfully. "Okay. It's safe. I don't see them pausing." Speed pulled back out and they headed off again. "Interesting." He looked back at Ray, shifting some to look at him. "We're mostly going to look and so he can explain some stuff to me." Ray nodded. "Which means you can look, touch, browse, try out some limited stuff if they allow it. Tim is the perfect permissible parent in this situation." Speed grinned at him for that. "You are." He looked back at him. "You've got an allowance of two hundred bucks. Because I went online to look at prices and this stuff gets expensive. I've got one just bigger. That means you can get a manual or whatever you want." Ray beamed at that. "Just don't tell your mother."
"When I want to drink something other than beer, can I come to you guys?"
"Your uncle said he's buying you your first shot," Speed said firmly.
"Got it. I have to wait?"
"No," Xander told him. "If you really want to try it, I'd suggest asking Horatio in person and trying it for a day off. I'll go hide in my old bedroom and you two can have a bonding night." Ray grinned and nodded. "You need a haircut."
"I know. Even mom's nagging."
"We'll do that later, guys." Speed looked at him. Then glanced back at Ray. "Nipple ring?" He got blushed at. "If you want, I know a very good place to go."
"I liked the guy who did mine," Xander offered. "Very gentle and professional." He grinned at Ray. "He explained everything to me since I told him this was my first one and I hadn't even heard about this one before."
"Sounds like he's good," Speed agreed. "I can't believe you went alone to do that."
"Not like I could bring you. You were angsting over the nipple ring I was thinking about."
"Point. I did overreact. Sorry about that." He took an exit and pulled up to a shop, noticing the car in the parking lot. "They're here."
"Crap." Xander bit his bottom lip. "Oh, well. They know I'm gay." Speed nodded and parked, letting him and Ray get out. "Come on, we'll browse."
"Say you're eighteen if anyone asks," Speed said in his ear. Ray nodded at that, following Xander inside.
"He's how old?" the clerk asked.
"Eighteen, just barely," Ray said, smiling at him. "Di suggested I come get stuff to give me better smutty thoughts for her upcoming show."
"Oh. You're that guy in the ad." He nodded, that was good enough for him. He looked at Xander, then blinked. "Really?"
"Thinking," he defended. That got a smirk. "Special anniversary is coming up," he said, giving him a small pout. "I thought I'd try something a bit new."
"Back wall, boys." They went that way. He looked at Speed, giving him a long look. "I'm so not going to jail for this," he mouthed. Speed smirked at him and tapped his badge. "Never mind. Thank you. Your usual section got moved back there too." He glanced at the college kids then back at him. "Have fun with that." Speed grinned, heading back that way.
Xander was stroking over a leather strap. "That would hurt."
"It does," Speed assured him. He gave him a nudge, planting him in front of the handcuffs. "Those, son."
"Yes, dad." He looked at Ray, who was just staring in opened-mouth awe. "Ray?" He snapped out of it, shaking himself awake. "Thanks." He waved a hand at the nearby books. "Go look." Ray headed that way while he looked at the cuffs. He picked out a set with a long cord between them. They had a small spot on the headboard the cord could be hitched to. He looked at a set of soft cuffs, running his fingers around them. "What do these feel like when you're sweaty?"
"A little bit scratchy." He pointed at a set. "My ex liked those a lot. They've got lambswool inside. Or that one's got fake velvet." Xander looked at those, liking that set. "What are you doing for that night anyway?" Xander whispered in his ear, making him moan and shift. "Okay. You can get the other stuff in here as well." He pointed at something. "Those, kid." He went to help Ray, finding him a book on the various forms of BDSM, basically a magazine but that should be enough to let him have an idea about what he wanted. Ray got a second, older issue, on the subject of handcuffs. Speed made the kid look at him, then led him to a tape, handing it over. He took the issue on handcuffs. "That's more care and feeding stuff."
"Okay." He looked. "It's even het." He looked at him. "All I ever see is Xander's gay porn collection."
"He's bad about leaving it lying around," he agreed dryly. "Did it to my DVD player a few times too." He found him a starter's set with a wink. "That should hold you." Ray whispered in his ear, getting a nod. "If that's all she wants, spit should be enough but make sure she doesn't have claws. You don't want to have to explain a scratch up there to anyone."
"Very true," Xander agreed patiently, coming over to look at the tapes. Speed swatted his hand. "What?"
"A bit more hardcore than you think, Xan." He showed him the back, watching his very unprudish son blush for the first time since he'd known him. "That's what I thought you'd say."
"You can do that?" Ray asked, looking at the pictures. "How?"
"Lots of lube," Speed sighed, putting it back. He patted him on the back. "You wouldn't like that, kiddo." He walked them back to the section of body paint, finding the sparkly, edible stuff Xander would need for his special night. "Candles?"
"Already coming in through one of the wiccan shops," Xander admitted, grinning at him. "Dinner? Or should I order?"
"You should order," he agreed, clapping him on the back. "That way I don't have to worry about running late or catching sight of stuff I don't need to see again. You in those stretch cord pants was more than education enough, dear."
"I thought your mate was a redhead," one of the jocks said as he moved closer. He grinned at Ray. "Hi."
"His mate's my uncle and that's his dad," Ray told him. "He's allowed to call him cute and cuddly names." The jock laughed. "Xander doesn't even allow the mother of his son to do more than call him dear and baby."
"So you gave her a lot of hot and heavy thoughts then, good job, Xan," Speed praised, smirking at him. "I'm sure the upcoming show will be spectacular."
"I hope so." He grinned. "I'm doing the dangerous line and Ray's getting my former slut spot."
"Congrats, Ray. Come on, let's go, boys. Xander, lube?"
"We are out," he admitted, going to get some. Two bottles of the regular stuff, and then he saw something special. He hesitated, looking at it, bitting his bottom lip.
"No stimulant lube, son," Speed ordered. "Last time you nearly killed him."
"I did not!" he complained, glaring at him. "I was very nice and I even let him sleep! You're the one who got the migraine and made Calleigh clean!" He picked up that one, showing it to him.
"You'll be needy and whining long before he makes it home," Speed assured him, staring into his eyes. "That would fit with your plan." Xander beamed and put that with his other stuff on the counter. He looked at the tapes, then at him. "Bored?"
"Yup. I got told I got too loud when I was thinking about him and me together, to use this instead so I wouldn't embarrass anyone."
"Not my fault you kept Stella up from down the hall," Ray complained. "You kept me up plenty when we were in New York. I've never heard anyone get that loud before," he pouted at Speed.
"Some people are naturally loud," he assured him. "When Horatio's there, he only whimpers, growls, and begs."
"Sometimes I scream," Xander said, looking a bit embarrassed. The jocks laughed at that. "Hey, you'd scream too if Horatio did you like he does me," he said with a smirk. He saw the total and looked at Ray. "Go ahead." Ray's stuff got put up there and so did Speed's. "Thanks, dad." He paid for it and it was bagged up separately. "Thank you," he said with a grin. "It's going to be a great anniversary." He followed Speed out to the car. "Shirt?"
"You really need more clothes?" Speed demanded.
"No, but Horatio does."
"Fine. I want to know where you got that blue shirt from." He slid into to drive, checking that Ray had buckled up and had his bag. Xander had to get something that fell out but he slid in and buckled up. "What was that?"
"My phone." He held it up. "Ray, did you take the wallet?" It was tossed to him. "Thanks. The wallet comes out of these pants."
"Your tighter ones have better pockets." Ray leaned forward. "Are they following us?"
"Nope, and I doubt one of the guys wants me to tell anyone he was looking at full-length gloves either." Speed glanced at him. "I did go to watch stuff, Dad. It was easier than looking at the pictures. I even brought the book in with me once." He grinned at him. "Some of the doms there were more than happy to explain some stuff to me."
"Damn," Ray said in awe. "How....."
"I was one of the top strippers in the anything goes circuit, Ray. Of course I got into the sex clubs. I never did anything in them but I did occasionally end up there to watch and figure out where I stood on certain stuff."
"Horatio still growls whenever he mentions them," Speed assured him. Xander looked at him. "He does."
"He does?" Speed nodded. "Oh. Okay." He shrugged and bounced a bit. "But that's doable?"
"Very. So you're lighting the candles then laying down, right?" Xander nodded. "Good boy." He reached over to pat him on the knee. "Tell me those are real pants."
"Of course. They couldn't be this loose if they weren't."
"Di had to send us home after he tried the spread-on clothes," Ray shared. "She got a bit too bothered. The quickies she was taking by then weren't enough."
"I don't need to know that stuff," Speed said firmly.
"Sorry," Xander sighed, grinning at him. "I'm usually a good boy."
"Yeah, because I didn't send Eric home with eight women who were trying to peel his pants off last night," he said dryly. "Because that outfit was *your* idea, Xander." Xander grinned at that. "Calleigh sent a text message. She found him with three girls waiting hand and foot on him and he was hoarse and tired."
"He's not. She yelled but he kissed her on the forehead and sent her back to work after reminding her he was a big boy. Apparently the girls with him agreed." Ray snickered at that. "Eric's always been a lover, Ray, but he's not one to do anything other than usual, straight guy sex. Xander made him blush more than once about his oral sex fixation."
"Xander's or Eric's?"
"Xander's," Xander told him, smirking at him. "I'm an oral guy. It happens and Eric's so very embarrassed when Calleigh and I share tips on how to give the better blow job."
Ray blushed. "I don't think I need to hear those. I like women. Thank you though." He leaned back. "What are we getting Uncle Horatio?"
"Clothes. Stuff for work," Xander assured him. Speed gave him a look. "Yes, that shop, dear."
"Fine." He got onto the right off-ramp and took them to Xander's chosen shop for anything non-slutty and good clothes. He parked and looked at Xander. "How much did you take out?"
"Enough." He grinned and walked inside, heading to find the salesguy who usually helped them. He got a squeal and a hug. "Thank you, Paul. I'm here shopping for a special present for my man. Do we have anything he can do for work and after?" That got a nod and they were led to the section Horatio usually shopped. He fingered a few, shaking his head. "He'd get that messed up at a scene or in the lab." He touched one and ran a hand over it. "That's nice."
"It's expensive," Speed noted patiently. Xander glared at him. "Sorry, never mind."
"Uncle Horatio doesn't usually wear that shade of blue. If he goes that dark he usually just does black," Ray offered. He came over to help, finding a few. "These?" he suggested. "Nice fabric, cool in the heat, but good for scenes, Speed?" Speed came over to check, nodding at that. "Xander?"
"I like those. And the dark blue one for special stuff," he decided, looking at Ray. He glanced at Speed, then back at Ray. "You wanna freak out your dad?" Ray smirked evilly and nodded. "Fit him for something Horatio-like as well," he ordered. The salesman smiled. "This is Horatio's nephew."
"Ah." He took him to the section of the store where he could find something more hip but still fairly good enough to fit into Horatio's strict standards. He found two for him and Xander looked then waved a hand. "Thank you." He took the young man to fit him, then took down Xander's choices to get them fitted to Horatio's usual measurements. He looked at him. "Do you need anything special?"
"No, I'm tying myself down for him that night. I'll need something special for our real second anniversary." That got a nod and he went to fit Ray's second choice. Xander headed to the register, nodding that he liked Ray in that one. It didn't even need much fitting. It was almost exactly like Horatio's tan suit and black jacket outfit. "Let him wear that home, just in case," he ordered. Ray tittered, his mother kept picking on him about being Horatio's son instead of his father's. Ray turned to check his stance in the mirror, making Speed choke when he saw how exact he had Horatio's usual hands-on-hips stance down. He grinned at him. Xander smirked at him. "Yelina said he should be a redhead," he teased.
"Yeah, I can see that." He watched Xander pull out a card he didn't know about it, taking it to look at. "What's this?"
"From my special draw account that I set up as soon as everything got fixed." He handed it over and it was run, getting a smile. He signed the slip and handed back their copy, letting the salesman box up Horatio's presents. Ray's other suit came back from the seamstress who had put in the few darts for him, and it was put on the proper hanger for him. They went back to the car and Xander beamed at his dad. "Thanks. Am I getting dinner?"
"You might be buying smelling salts instead," he taunted. "They're at work."
"Can I hide that stuff with you?"
"Yup. Probably a good idea since Horatio can get a bit nosy." He looked at Ray. "You want dropped at the station or at home?"
"Can I hide my stuff with Xander's for now?"
"Sure, Ray. Come pick it up tonight or tomorrow after work." They got in and headed back to the station. Speed followed behind the two boys, shaking his head at the guard's amused look. "Xander's idea," he mouthed. He stopped to page Yelina to her brother-in- law's office, then headed that way with the boys. His mother and father, plus his uncle, all looked up as Xander walked in, grinning at him. Xander waved a hand and Ray came in, posing. Horatio choked. Ray spluttered.
Yelina just smirked and shook her head. "Nicely done, son." She got up to adjust his collar. "There, perfect." She patted him on the cheek. "Grow up like your uncle, son." She kissed him on the cheek, earning a very familiar smirk. "Good boy." She sat down again, looking at her former husband. "Horatio has been a very good influence in his life. He looks very smart in that suit."
"Son," Ray Sr. moaned. His son shifted again and he was *exactly* like his older brother. "Why?"
"Because Uncle Horatio is a very nice guy and I'll need one anyway for the school thing." He shared a smile with his uncle. "Xander helped."
"I just stood and watched," Speed defended. "You've corrupted my son fully, H. He's got good taste in suits." He grinned at Yelina. "That's why I paged you."
"I figured as much when I saw where it had come from."
Horatio looked at his nephew. "A bit more trendy than I'd usually wear, but you do look good, Ray. I'm proud of you."
"Thank you, Uncle Horatio. I've got another one in the car. Xander couldn't decide."
"He often seems to have that problem." Xander just smiled sweetly at him. "Are we celebrating our anniversary?"
"Yes, but you're coming home from work after calling me to say you're leaving," Xander ordered. "We're doing a quiet dinner at home." Horatio nodded at that. "I promise not to cook."
"Thank you. I will call before I leave the station." He smirked at his nephew, getting one back. "Comfortable?"
"Surprisingly so. Definitely not something I want to wear a thong in, but comfy enough." His father moaned, sounding almost like he was ready to cry. He looked at him, then at his uncle. "Are we talking about alternate school options?" He sat down, getting comfortable.
"Sit up straight, son," Yelina ordered. He sat up and had to get up to adjust his pants. Then he sat down and smiled. "Thank you. Have you thought about where you'd like to go?"
"St. Eppie's." She blinked. "I've already passed their test last year."
"That's a very expensive school," Ray sighed.
"And?" Xander snorted. "I can do for him what Timmy did for me. If they accept him, he can go. That way he goes to a good college and does something he wants to do." He stared Ray down. "While I can shop away all that I got given, why would I want to? It doesn't do anyone any good, even if all the clerks do work on commission." Ray blinked at him. "Ray, I got given an estate in Dubai by my present giving fanclub. His school fees are *nothing* to me. He's going if he's accepted. End of discussion."
"Xander," Horatio warned.
"Ray Jr. is my family, Horatio. He's going to best damn school we can afford. It's not like my schooling will take all that." Horatio nodded at that. "Hell, I can afford his tuition with my interest, the same as I can mine. By the way, I'm having to take a different english." He looked at Ray. "Call them, see if you can still get in. Tell them what's going on."
"I already have. They agreed I could. They want to make sure Mom knows that tuition went up again." He shrugged. "Thank you, Xander."
"As dad pointed out numerous times, education is important to do anything in life. Even if you do end up living off your body as a model, you'll eventually age. Therefore you will go to school."
"Yes, dear." He grinned at him. "Plus, I can use some of my fees from Di's last show to afford it."
"That's for college," his mother ordered.
"She paid you for those ads, right?" Speed asked.
"Ads?" Horatio and Yelina asked together.
"The catalog, guys. We told you about that," Xander said firmly. They both nodded and relaxed at that. "Thank you." He looked at Ray again. "We'll go see them together with the guy who's over my trust."
"Thank you." He grinned at him. "It's a much better school academically. I wanted to go last year but it's like college tuition."
Xander nodded. "I've seen worse. Don was ranting about a preschool that had a twenty- seven grand a year tuition they had a case at."
"That's insane," Speed noted.
"Yeah, but it's for the kids who come from that money. They've got their own set of schools."
"St. Eppie's isn't quite that bad, but academically they get a lot of kids into Yale and Harvard," Ray said with a small grin for his uncle. "So, if I hit MIT and do my CSI college training up there, does that mean I can come in higher?"
"No. College is college unless you come in with a speciality for lab work," he assured him. That got a smirk. "If you want to go to MIT, I will support you, Ray."
"Thanks, Uncle Horatio." He looked at the clock, then at his mother. "Were we doing dinner tonight?"
"Your father and I were going to talk to his counselor."
"Then I'm going to go home, change back into sweats, and have dinner." His mother nodded.
"My counselor would like you to come, son," Ray offered.
Ray Jr. looked at him. "Tough." He stood up. "There is probably nothing you can say that will make me forgive you for fucking around on my mother, making us think you were dead, or putting my mother through that sort of hell. Ever. Consider it a finished topic of discussion before I start getting sulky and look more like Speed than Uncle Horatio." He hauled Xander up. "Come on. Let's head home. Speed?"
"Of course." He winked at Horatio. "Give him warning before you go home that night, H. By the way, don't bother looking, I'm hiding it for him."
"Thank you for the warning." He watched them go, then looked at Yelina, Xander's usual helper for trouble. "Has he mentioned our anniversary?"
"No. Apparently it's something special since he made Speed go shopping." She stood up, smiling at him. "I'll see you at the hearing?"
"If at all possible," he agreed. She nodded and walked out.
"My kid is way too much like yours," Ray Sr. complained as he stood up.
"I was a good influence in his life," he assured him. "That's what an uncle does, Ray. I'm sure that was more of a tease than anything else." Ray snorted and walked out looking unhappy. The boys had pushed it but it had been cute. His nephew had his mannerisms down to a t.
Horatio walked into his house that evening, sniffing the air. Someone had cooked Indian food. He walked into the kitchen, finding everything on the stove waiting for him. Plus the packages from the 'quick fix meals' in the trash. Xander could usually fix those. He dished himself up something and walked out, finding his mate leaning on the back of the couch. He gave him a kiss. "Thank you for dinner."
"Least I could do since it looked like you were stressed," he offered quietly. "Eat, Horatio, then I'm going to rock your world."
"Really?" He ate a bite. "How?"
"You'll see." He grinned. "You've got milk outside since it's a pretty night and that's spicy."
Horatio smiled and walked out onto the porch to eat. It was his preferred dining room most nights. Xander came out with his own plate, earning another smile. "He did look good."
"I figured it would make his father moan. It seems I was right." He waved his fork around. "Ray's got another thing coming if he thinks his son will forgive him easily. Ray's mad enough to walk away from his mother if she takes him back."
"He is?" Horatio ate another bite, hitting a packet of spices, which made him gulp his milk.
"Sorry, didn't mix it well enough?"
"Pepper," he offered, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. "Have you two been talking?"
"I've been playing wall. When he asked for my opinion I pointed out my parents wouldn't have cared about my emotional well-being so I couldn't really say. He's been using me to vent his anger and frustration." He ate a bite and sipped his milk. "By the way, he mentioned the drinking thing today while we were out. Speed and I both told him to come to you in person and talk to you about that, and I'd go back to my old bedroom for a night while you two bonded."
"Thank you." He gave him a look. "You make a very good father and uncle, Xander." Xander beamed at that. "Ray is trying."
"Yeah, to make me kick his ass."
"He's trying to make things right," he said quietly.
"Horatio, he smelled like chemicals today. Was he in a hospital setting?" Horatio shook his head. "Are you sure?" That got a nod. "Was he in rehab?"
"Did they do a drug test?"
"When he came in. It's too soon to do another one, Xander. They do them weekly."
"I'm not saying he is, Horatio, but he did smell like chemicals to me." He gave him a look. "I'm not willing to let anyone go through that hell, not a second time. The same as if Suzie suddenly started to use again, you'd start seeing a lot more of Madison around." He nodded, accepting that. "Plus, one of the ladies at the club last night asked if I knew him and if I was using too. Apparently she had found a connection for his cocaine."
"She left before Frank traded out. I gave her Yelina's phone number since she said she lost his."
"Thank you. That's fairly mild meddling." He leaned back, going back to eating. "He could be working."
"He could be. Then again, he's not back on the force yet, Horatio."
"Point. I'll call him later to make sure of it. I heard Yelina give someone his phone number earlier. Then she went to have a go at the heavy bags."
"I'm sorry if I caused her to ache, Horatio. I figured the easiest thing would be for her to intercept it. Even if she covered and claimed she was sleeping with him it'd still be better."
"It is. I'll call him later." He smiled at his mate. It had been a quickly thought plan but it would have kept another contact from sucking Ray back down. His cell rang and he answered it. "Caine." He listened, nodding. "That's fine, Yelina. Of course." He smiled at Xander. "He said he did since she asked him about Ray wanting cocaine." He nodded once. "Thank you." He hung up. "She said the woman told her he had an order in. She said to thank you for sending her to her instead of directly to him." Xander nodded, looking a bit down. "It was a good idea. She said he's not working at the moment."
"I'm sorry, Horatio."
"I know, Xander. It's not your fault. You've got to lay blame where it belongs in this case. With Ray. I do. It's his addiction that's sucking us down." He ate another bite and had some more milk. "We'll deal with this as a family and cushion Ray Jr. where we can." He smiled at his mate, who nodded. "Who was it?"
"Willow had a slight magic addiction starting," he admitted quietly. "Also, Jessie had a small use habit. Not an addiction but a like for it."
"His wasn't out of control by any means, it was just a now and then thing when he needed a pick-me-up or something. Maybe two or three times a year during really bad tests and the like."
"Uppers." He looked at him. "The two dealers in Sunnydale weren't that well stocked. Sometimes it was someone's ritalin, sometimes it was something else. As long as it gave him a boost he was good with it now and then. Like I said, a few times a year, nothing further." He ate another bite and had some more milk. "Can we switch topics before I get depressed and you end up just cuddling me tonight?"
"Of course." He gave him a gentle smile. "How much leeway do I have to give you the night of our anniversary?"
"Half an hour should be good. Dinner will be something cold that'll be in the fridge." He nodded, smiling at that. "That way I can order it earlier that day." Horatio really smiled at that. "We all know my skills are not culinary." Horatio nodded. "I did okay tonight but this is my level of ability in the kitchen."
"Plenty of people can't cook, Xander," he assured him. "It took me a while to learn as well." He finished his plate then his milk, taking it into the kitchen. He put up the leftovers and turned, finding Xander's plate had been snuck in there with him. He put it into the dishwasher and turned it on, walking out to find Xander bent over the couch, naked. He undid his belt, moving closer. "So this is your devious plan tonight?" he asked in his ear. He tested his body, finding it unstretched but lubed. He moaned and slipped out of his clothes.
"I was thinking naked yoga to inflame you but some people prefer to watch my butt flex," he teased, wiggling it a bit. "I bent over in front of Di and she came from watching that." He steadied himself on the couch as Horatio thrust in, clamping down on him. "You're huge," he moaned. "Please, Horatio." Horatio pulled back and pushed back in, making him squeeze to caress his cock as it slipped back inside him. "Oh, this new lube is wonderful!"
"It is," he agreed, continuing on. Xander bent over more, giving him a better angle. He stroked his back.
"Please, Horatio, not needing the gentle stuff tonight," he begged. "I promise, I'll let you make me go sub or whatever for you, please!" Horatio moaned at that, speeding up some. "Anything you want! Just put me in the position and have me." That got him harder thrusts so his mate liked that idea. "Tie me under your desk here so I'm constantly sucking you, all day. My tongue, my mouth, hard, soft, getting back there." Horatio slammed into him, holding him down now. "Please, babe. Anything! Ooooh, please!" Horatio sped up, smoothing over the sweat that was dripping off him. "Anything you want."
"Xander!" he growled, pulling him up just enough to reach his cock for him. "I have what I want." He slammed into him, coming hard. Xander whimpered, arching into his hand. He stopped stroking him, licking over the sweat on his mate's shoulder. "If I put you under my desk it'd be in the office at work, that way I could get the stress relief I need when I need it. Doing it all day would make me very sore," he whispered in his ear. Xander shivered and shifted his stance. "Maybe I'd have you against my blinds again? If I remember right, you had to clean the windows and the blinds that time." He gave him a flick of his thumb across the head. Xander whimpered, pushing forward. "Not until I say. You did offer me anything," he reminded him. Xander nodded. "Anything I want?" Xander nodded again, moaning again since he changed his grip's strength, making it just a bit looser. "What should I do with that offer, Xander?"
"Naked yoga?" he panted. "Anything you want, Horatio."
"Even straightening out the closet?"
"You'd have to put a cock ring on me. It's not like it gets me hot."
Horatio licked his neck, making him shiver. "It would get me hot. That way I could find things in the morning."
"I splurged, you've got clothes for tomorrow," he moaned.
"I thought you might have. I should protest the presents, Xander." Xander let out a whining noise. "But doing that would make you find some other way to spoil me." He gave him a gentle stroke. "Would you... let Ray Jr. have your pornography collection?"
"He's the reason I have it!" he complained. "He said I got too loud when I used us to masturbate to."
"Ah." He hummed as he tasted the new sweat that had come up. "Would you give it to him?" Xander nodded. "All of it, even what you got today?"
"I need the stuff I got today for reference. Anniversary," he moaned when Horatio tightened his grip again. "Everything else."
"Good boy. Plus you'll help me straighten the closet?" Xander nodded quickly. "Naked?" Xander shivered and nodded. "Good boy." He pulled out and let him go, earning a weak sounding whimper. "If you're a good boy I'll relieve that when I come back up. Now, go clean yourself up so we can see my new outfit. It had better not be leather either." He spanked him when Xander stood up to kiss him. "Be good, Xander. I don't need this many presents."
"I was going to wait but I wanted to see how you looked in it," he said, grinning at him. "It was going to be part of the anniversary present."
"That's fine then." He stroked through his sweaty hair. "If you're a good boy I might even take care of that sooner."
"I straightened out the closet earlier, there's towels and socks in the dryer, and your underwear in the washer," he offered, moving down to taste Horatio's throat, making him moan. "Sheets were changed. I put the mail on your desk to take care of the water bill and the letter from my parent's attorney. I will gladly clear off my laptop and give it all to Ray, or both of them, if you want." He kissed him. "I only use it when I need hot thoughts to get me ready for you and I can't get that loud, or for ideas."
"You get loud?" he teased.
"Only when I'm alone."
"I'll have to lurk and find out for myself." He heard the beep from the kitchen, glancing that way. "What?" he called.
"Just getting dinner," Ray Jr. called. "Please finish him off sometime soon. I'm going to sit on the beach." He walked past them with his dinner, taking it out and down to the beach that was off the back porch so he wouldn't have to watch.
"Ray?" Xander called. He came back and opened the door. "Not that I'm complaining but why are you here?"
"I'm not killing the crack ho who came to see my sperm donor. I told her he's been kicked out and we don't care where he's living. I suggested she try the Hyatt." He closed the door and went back to his dinner.
Xander blinked at Horatio. "They came to the house?"
"Apparently." He stole a kiss. "You still need it?" Xander pushed against his hip so he stroked his gently. "You do rock my world, Xander, every day, but I still don't need that many presents."
"Shut up, Horatio. It's my prerogative to mark my mate and make him look very hot so everyone can drool but not touch." He moved to rub against his mate's stomach, making him tense up and get hard again. "I think you'll look so hot you'll have to leave before I get up so I don't rip it off you," he whispered in his ear, getting a shiver. "I might even let you take the porsche in since my other one is due back tomorrow." Horatio moaned at that. "That way you can make sure Eric makes it in." He laughed and kissed him, letting them rub off against each other. "Did you like the new lube? It has something to help you stay hard longer."
"You make me want to come just from giving me a smile," Horatio assured him, whispering it in his ear. Xander whimpered and came. He was nice enough to go down to clean him off then suck him off, making him wind his fingers into the dark hair for balance. Otherwise he'd fall on top of him. Someone opened the door but he didn't care. He came with a growl and Xander cleaned him up. He pulled him up to kiss him. "We'll talk about your desk idea the next time I'm stuck doing paperwork on a Sunday." He gave him another kiss to stop the silly grin he was getting. He looked toward the door. "Ray."
His brother unfroze, blinking at him. "Um, sorry."
"Out, Raymond," Xander ordered coldly. "I don't need an audience to make love to my husband." Ray turned and fled. "Good." He looked at him. "If he is, I don't want him near Eric, Horatio."
Horatio hummed and nuzzled his throat. "Not an issue, Xander. If he is using, he's not getting near our son. Nor his son if possible." He stole another kiss. "We should shower and see if we can calm Ray down." That got a smile and they went to share a shower, putting on shorts when they were done to join Ray outside. Horatio sat beside him, taking a piece of dropped broccoli off his pate to nibble on. "Are up all right, Ray?"
"I'm fine. My temper's calmer." He glanced at Xander, then at him. "Sorry to intrude, Uncle Horatio."
"Not a problem. At least you didn't try to watch, like your old man," Xander offered, patting him on the back. "Someone came to the house?"
"Yup, to deliver to him." He looked at his uncle. "He's not back on the case, right?"
"I'm going to find that out tonight." He stroked over the back of his head. "Our spare room can sleep you as well as Eric, Ray. You know that. As does the couch."
"Thank you, Uncle Horatio." He leaned against his shoulder. "If he is, I'm not sure I could stand it. If he's not working, I'm not going home if he's going to be there."
"That's up to you," Horatio agreed quietly, comforting him.
Xander got up and headed into the office, dialing a number. "Maeve, it's Xander, Horatio Caine's husband. I have to ask your husband a question about Raymond. May I please?" he asked quietly. "Thank you." He waited while she told him that, smiling when the Chief of Detectives got on the line. "It's me. We need a truthful answer, just among the family. Is Raymond working again? One of his old buddies came up to the house. His son's crying outside on Horatio's shoulder." He nodded, making notes. "Thank you, Chief. No, we're good. Why?" He smirked. "That was Speedle. Tim's my might-as-well-be father. You know that. Yeah, clean shaven looks a bit different. I'm guessing his date that night made him." He smiled. "Thank you. No, we're not going to say anything except to Horatio, Yelina, and his son. It's ripping his son up." He smiled. "No, that was my idea," he admitted. "Thank you." He hung up and took his notes out there, handing them to Horatio while he took Ray to hold.
Horatio read the note, looking at Xander. "The Chief?" That got a nod. "Thank you." He looked at his nephew. "We've got that unused storeroom, Ray. If we have to, we'll let you move in there. All right?" Ray nodded, wiping off his face to look at him. "He's not going to be going back to the force. If the Feds want him is another matter but his cover was blown in New York." Ray slumped. "Call your mother, tell her you're here."
"Shit, I left the new porn stuff out," he muttered. Xander handed him his keys. "You're sure?"
"Very. No tickets." Ray nodded and headed home for a bit. He looked at him. Then he hugged him. "I'm sorry, Horatio."
"It's his fault, I've got to remind myself of that," he agreed, keeping himself calm. "You straightened out the closet?"
"I got the pointed hint this morning." He gave him a weak smile. "I even hung things up like you do."
"This I should see." They walked inside, leaving the note on the back of the couch. He looked in the closet, finding the suit he knew he didn't have to pull out and look at. He ran a hand over it. "This is very nice." He noticed the tag was gone, as usual. "Expensive?"
"Not as much as my last one," Xander offered from the bed, grinning at him. "It was going to be part of my anniversary present but, well, I wanted to see you in it sooner." Horatio smiled at that, taking it to the mirror to test it against himself. "The salesman, the usual guy, had it fitted to you." He shifted, putting his arms behind his head, stretching out with his legs slightly spread. "Did I do a good job, Horatio?"
"You did a very nice job, Xander." He put it back carefully, running a hand over the suits. His shirts were even hung facing the same direction and his ties had been hung properly, not that he wore them but it was a nice touch. He closed his closet and looked in Xander's, finding it neat and tidy as well. He looked at his mate, who smirked. "Got on a roll?"
"Yup. Mine, the drawers, Eric's." He shrugged. "I got in a cleaning mood today and I even did the laundry."
"We should fold it," he admitted, closing that closet and coming over to take his mate's mouth again. "Very nicely done and you do have excellent taste, Xander." He took another kiss, ignoring the knock on the door.
"Xander?" Calleigh called from the doorway.
"Busy!" he yelped as Horatio bit him on the throat.
"Is that stuff yours?"
"Yes! It's for the anniversary celebration."
"Okay, just making sure. Are we hiding it?"
"Yes," Horatio called.
"Sorry. At least I'm not giving it away. Um, it'll be in your old closet, and by the way, someone sent you some mail there. I put it on the couch." She hurried out and the door closed behind her.
"Okay," Xander agreed, grinning at him. Horatio gave him a long stare. "Candles and a special outfit for me."
He hummed, then took another kiss. "The truth, Xander?"
"That was," he moaned, arching up against him. "I promise it is a special outfit for me."
He looked into his eyes then nodded. "Fine, I won't look or try to find out more," he promised. Xander grinned and flipped him over to climb on top. "This time. I get to plan our official second anniversary."
"Sure." He removed his shirt for him and put it down, carefully folded. "No sense in marking it as dirty." He moved down to tease the lightly furred chest, groaning when the door opened. "Ray, go wait outside!" he called.
"Yes, dear." Ray Sr. headed that way.
"Fuck," Xander moaned. He looked at Horatio, who shrugged. He nipped him, making him yelp. "He can wait."
"He can." He pulled Xander's head up to kiss him again. "Your mouth, Xander. Please? That way I get to be noisy this time."
"I'm going to work myself off for you later," he promised.
"I meant to suck me, Xander, not make me harder by whispering dirty things to me." Xander just grinned and went down to relieve his ache. Horatio let himself get loud this time, arching up into the talented mouth. "Xander!" he shouted, holding him down as he worked himself harder up and down the throat.
Xander had to pull off. "No breath play, Horatio. Please." He went back to it, making sure he couldn't be trapped this time. Horatio came with a loud swear, his hips snapping upward hard enough to make them pop. Xander cleaned him up and looked up at him. "Are you all right?"
"Perfect." He pulled him up to kiss him again. "Breath play?"
"Faith tried to choke me that once," he admitted. "Not my thing."
"Good. I'd never do it on purpose."
"I know. You were frantic." He took another kiss. "Think we should go out there?"
"No," he said honestly. "That would be polite and Ray Jr. is probably on his way back by now." Xander hummed at that, licking across his lips. Horatio took another deep kiss. "Later I'm going to watch you get loud, Xander. Count on it." He got up and put back on his shirt, tucking it in as he put back on his shorts. Xander adjusted himself. "Can that wait or should we handle it now?" he teased.
"Let it wait a bit. It'll make me noisier later." Horatio smiled at that and took his hand to lead him out there. "Raymond," he said firmly, sitting down in his usual spot at the table. "What's wrong?"
"I saw some stuff on my son's bed."
"He asked," Xander agreed. "That way he's got another viewpoint on what he was thinking about trying."
"Shut up," Horatio told him. "Your son's sex life is not yours, Ray. Besides, if I remember right, you went through some pretty hardcore things back in the day yourself," he said calmly, sitting down beside his spouse. Ray gaped at him. "I remember having to pull you out of an S&M club a few times, Ray. That does prove he's your son." He looked at Xander. "Bondage?"
"He thinks he's a switch, we were giving him realistic scenarios so he could figure out which side he liked more. He got a magazine, a few tapes. Stuff to show him what he wants. By the way, he is still firmly het and his current girlfriend still wants to go sub on him. He did get a pair of squishy pink handcuffs for her."
"A trial set is a good idea if you're thinking about it and is fairly cheap," Horatio agreed. "The really good materials if you're serious about it are a lot more expensive from what I've seen." Xander nodded. "You looked?"
"Remember, I've got severe trust issues," Xander said quietly.
"I remember." He kissed the back of his hand. "If you want to try that, mildly, not as a lifestyle, you'll let me know." Xander nodded that he agreed, grinning at him. "Thank you." He gave his hand a squeeze and they both looked at Ray, who was glaring. "What?"
"You're mushy and cute with him, Horatio. You're acting like it's more than sex."
Horatio held up his left hand to show his ring. "What would make you think that, Ray?" he asked dryly, glaring back at him. "Xander is my spouse. That does imply deeper feelings than simply sexual desires and the need for stress relief."
"Whatever." He glared at Xander, then at Horatio. "He could go inside."
"This is my house as well," Xander noted dryly. "I do live here. I paid off the last of the mortgage for his birthday." Horatio gave him a look. "I did. Didn't I tell you?"
"No. Where have the checks went?"
"Hopefully back into your account. Should I check on that tomorrow?"
"No, I'll do it." He looked at his brother again. "Anything you care to say can be said in front of my mate, Raymond."
"Protected," Xander assured him. "Firmly protected. Her daughter's getting very good treatment and she's very safe and well-cared for. She's loved and Ray considers her his little sister. You've got an amazing son, Raymond. Too bad you didn't see that earlier." He heard his car pull up. "That's my delivery. Storage area?"
"It should be fine and it's got a doorway," Horatio agreed quietly. Xander nodded, going to head off Ray Jr and take him that way. "I protected Yelina from the fact that Madison existed," he said quietly. "At least until she got sick. Then it was necessary." Ray swallowed. "You will go nowhere near her, Raymond. She doesn't need that in her life. She's clean and straightening her life out. She's doing everything she can to help her daughter have a good life. That's why she cleaned up." Ray looked at him. He stood up. "Now, I believe you should leave, Ray. It's clear that you're not taking rehab seriously."
"Ray, I can see the shakes and I can smell it on you," he said quietly. "Get serious about it or don't come back. I don't want that around our son or your son. I will shield your son from you if I have to. I've been doing it now for years."
"That was the Feds...."
"You could have let us know when you went on assignment, Ray. You didn't. You destroyed your son's life when you died. Yelina and I kept him on suicide watch for nearly eight months." His brother let out a small moan. "You destroyed them both when the rumors started about you being dirty and using drugs. Now, you're obviously not serious yet. You will get serious about rehab or you will not come back, Ray."
Ray stood up. "This is your little toy speaking," he spat.
"No, it's not. It's me speaking."
"Family doesn't destroy each other and I'm going to keep your family out of your harm's way. Far away from you being able to harm them." He stared him down. "Out, Raymond. Until you're serious and clean." He stomped off. He took a deep breath and called Yelina. "It's me. Your son is here." He listened to her rant. "Yelina, one of his friends came up to the house. Your son came over to request sanctuary." He sat down. "The Chief said he's not going to be coming back. The cover the Feds had him under was blown in New York when he went after Stetler the second time. No, he's here. Ray apparently picked up something to see if his interests were reality based or not earlier when Xander went shopping with him." He smirked.
"Xander said he's mostly interested due to his girlfriend but we've got that spare room if he needs it, Yelina. The Chief told Xander. I was holding Ray while he cried. No, I sent him away when I noticed he had the shakes. Did you explain this to Suzie?" He nodded, letting himself slump. "He did ask about her. Xander said she's safe and left it there. I will. Thank you." He hung up and called her. "Madison, it's Horatio. Is your mother there?" He smiled. "Suzie, it's me." He listened to her happy babble. "That's good news." He smiled. "No, I don't. He asked about you and Xander said you were safe and to leave you alone. I don't know, Suzie. Is he right, are you safe?" He smiled. "Thank you. Yes, that would be good. Thank you." He hung up and went to find his nephew and husband. "She's locking him out of the hospital."
Xander looked at him. "I asked Gordon for advice. He called her earlier to ask her about a restraining order. Father Benis is looking after her as well. He and I talked about her last time we had tea. He agreed it's right of us to protect her, Horatio."
"I'm glad and I'm more than willing to help wherever I can," he promised. He gave him a gentle kiss. "Your mother said to stay over tonight. You forgot a DVD." Ray moaned, holding his head. "I told her it was an interesting thought due to your girlfriend and you had picked it up earlier when Xander took you shopping." That got a nod. "If you do move in, I will not allow you to bring a girl home, Ray."
"Not an issue. I'm not ready to do that yet, Uncle Horatio, and I doubt she wants to watch you two cuddle. She's not sure she understands why people are gay and if she can watch people like that, as she put it, but she's glad they're around and happy to be together." He shrugged. "She's still thinking about that stuff."
"Plenty of people think and rethink things time and again over their lives," Xander agreed dryly. Ray smiled at that. "We'll figure it out if you move in, Ray. It'll be awkward but we'll deal."
"Sure. I'm far enough away that I shouldn't hear it, even if you do get noisy." That got a smile from his uncle. "Plus I can always go hide on the beach for an hour or so." That got a grin from Xander. "Are you sure?"
"You're my nephew, Ray. It's what an uncle does." Horatio gave him a friendly grin. "Now, let's sit down and watch tv while Xander cleans out his pornography stash."
"Can I have the video of you dancing?" Ray asked.
"You can have all of it. He said I don't need it," Xander offered with a grin. "Whatever you don't want, give it to Eric."
"The bigger one, right?"
"My son had better not turn out to be the love toy Delko is," Xander snorted. "Monogamous relationships, not serial loving." That got a smile. "Even if he ends up in a trio I'd be fine with it as long as he was firmly monogamous at that time." That got a giggle. "I would be. I keep wondering when Willow's going to pull in another woman to give her some lesbian lovin' and to give Ryan someone else to fuss over." He shrugged and went to do that since his mate had commanded. It wasn't like he needed it. He did keep three things, he had warned Horatio that he was keeping some stuff for inspiration.
Horatio looked up as Speed stepped into his office, looking down the hall. "Problems?"
"Willow." He motioned him closer. Horatio came over to look, blinking at the gauzy, clinging gown that made her look very sexy. "My phone's dead. Where's Ryan?"
"Fingerprints last I knew." They went their separate ways, him going to lead Willow away from the windows. "Willow." She smiled at him and hugged him. "How are you feeling?"
"Not so fat today. This is a *great* dress that Diana made." She beamed at him. "Where's Ryan? He said to come up for lunch."
"Speed went to get him." He licked his lips and glanced around. "Did you realize that's fairly see-through in the sunlight?" he asked quietly. She shook her head. "It makes you look very nice, Willow. Make sure Ryan's able to work this afternoon." He heard the cough and got out of the way, watching Ryan's reaction.
Ryan looked at his wife, his eyes narrowed. Then he walked forward and grabbed her pushing her against the wall kiss her stupid. "I wondered what that looked like on you." He kissed her again, hitting the button for the elevator. "If I'm late, I'll make it up, Horatio." He got her into the elevator and down to her car. "That would be so hot under strobe lights." She blushed and he smirked at her as he backed out. He shifted into drive and then his hand was otherwise occupied while he drove them home for lunch. It wasn't going to be quick by any means.
Horatio walked back to his office, finding a lunch bag in there. He looked inside, then smiled. His mate did take good care of him. He sat down, sniffing the soup. It was from his favorite deli even. Speed came back. "Did he bring you lunch too?"
"Xander hasn't been here, Horatio. So unless that came by magic." Horatio put down his spoon and recapped it. "I'll check with reception." He went to do that, smiling at her. "Who brought Horatio lunch?"
"Thank you." He went back there. "Ray brought it." Horatio sniffed it then took a cautious bite, then shrugged because it tasted right. "Want me to test the other stuff?"
"The other's a sandwich," he offered, pointing in the bag. "It's got Xander's name on it." Speed came over to get a sample and test it. They would not be taking any chances with Xander's well-being. Horatio would be destroyed and the city would be going out in a big ball of flame if something happened to him again. He smiled as Xander came in. "Ray brought him soup."
"Hmm. Good thing I brought him cobbler then, huh?" He grinned and headed up there after handing Speed his lunch. He leaned in. "I brought you blueberry and raspberry cobbler." Horatio moaned so he carried in the small container. "Made locally but with fresh berries." He stole a quick kiss and grinned. "I'm off to spend tons more on books that I'll never look at." Horatio smirked at that. "They are horribly expensive." He shrugged. "Should I pick up the dry cleaning and are you still doing the monthly billing?" That got a nod as Horatio popped the top. Xander pulled out a tinfoil container from his jacket pocket and handed it over. "It's not right without vanilla ice cream." He smirked at him and walked off whistling. "Eric, I'm going to the college bookstore, you need anything?"
"See what they're using for Chem 308," he called. "I need the new edition if it's this year's and see if they've got anything on different religions!"
"Sure. Anyone else?"
"See if they've got a new DNA text," someone called.
"See if they've got the newest edition of the Chicago handbook!" someone female yelled. "I'm working on a paper and I'm hopeless."
He took notes on that. "Calleigh, the new ballistics manual and mags?" he called.
"Please! I let my subscription lapse by accident. Thank you, Xander!" He grinned and made another note while she snuck up to see what Horatio got for lunch. "No fair, he found somewhere that made cobbler. Can I have a bite?"
"Tim has some."
"His won't have ice cream. You're special." She dug into the bag and found the extra spoon, then took a small bite. "Thank you, Horatio." She walked off savoring her treat.
He shook his head, sometimes she was really playful.
Eric leaned in. "We're all giving Xander book orders. Payday's this friday, right?" Horatio nodded since his mouth was full. "What's that?"
"Fruits, topping, his probably has ice cream," Speed said from beside him, licking off his spoon. "You need the new Chem 308 book why? I've got it at home."
"You've got two editions before. This new one's got a section on microscopic organisms in the waters around here."
"Another good reason not to dive." He walked off eating another bite. His son spoiled their unit horribly. He saw Calleigh coming and held his cobbler above her head, making her try to jump while he smirked and watched.
She kicked him in the shin and stole the rest. "Thank you," she said sweetly, walking off to finish it.
"For that I'm getting a whole one with ice cream and handcuffing you while I eat it in front of you!" he called, rubbing the sore spot. Frank laughed. "Xander brought cobbler."
Frank handed over another tin. "He handed me that first, he said she'd steal it on you and you were too big a softy to stop her." He smirked. "Where is the boy wonder?"
"Heading for the bookstore."
"Ah. So he'll be bringing back new references for the library?" Speed nodded and went to eat his cobbler away from the greedy one.
Ryan looked up as someone coughed from the doorway of the lab. "What's up?" he asked the receptionist.
"There's a courier here for Horatio and one for you," she offered quietly. "You're the only one here though."
"Coming." He walked out, going to find out what they wanted. He recognized one. "Horatio's on a scene." That got a nod. "If you'll give me ten I'll call him after I deal with the other one." That got a smile. He smiled at the other guy, getting a grunt and a large pair of boxes put in front of him. A clipboard was put in front of him. "What's this?"
"From the bookstore, sir. We were asked to deliver by one of the football players." He looked at it and Ryan pulled his badge so he wrote down his name and badge number. "Thank you, sir." He walked off.
Ryan held up a hand and got into the first box, frowning at that. "What the hell?" he muttered. He called Xander. "Football player?" He listened to the slightly amusing story. "Why is the football team buying us soil samples..... oooh. Thank you." He hung up and looked at her. "Get me a handtruck. This is about that body found last month." She nodded, going to get him one. He looked at the other one. "Let me call Horatio." He called him, getting him immediately. "We have soil samples from a football player in Delko's name, another box I haven't opened, and the usual courier from Father Benis here." He handed over the phone and slid the boxes onto the handtruck that was waiting. "Thank you. Make sure I get my phone back." It was handed back along with an envelope. "What's this?"
"A letter, Detective." He swallowed. "Father Benis took a turn for the worse this morning. Horatio was trying to protest but it's time." He nodded and walked out.
Ryan called Horatio back. "He's taking a severe turn for the worse, Horatio. Yes, him. No, it's a letter. Want me to open it and read it to you?" He looked at the phone then opened it, scanning it, leaving the check in there. "I'm sorry I lasted longer than I thought I would. I didn't mean to drag on the anxiety. My security personnel have instructions to protect Madison and her mother as long as Madison is a minor. They also have orders to protect your young man and young Eric." He folded it back up. "Sure. I'll be looking over the soil samples in the lab. Right with me, Horatio." He hung up and stuck it inside his shirt pocket, then hefted the cart back and down the hall. He walked them into the trace lab, lifting off the first box to look through it. There were a lot of soil samples, each packed in tupperware containers. "Not bad for amateurs." He filled out a sheet about what was in there, numbering and tagging each sample. Everything but the first one went back into the box. He started to process that one's composition by distilling some through a paper cone with some sterile water.
While that dripped, he pulled out his knife and looked at the second box. Something was off about this one. He frowned and put his knife back up. Then he took pictures of both boxes for the records. It wasn't so far off protocol. He put the handtruck back in the hall and moved that one next to the windows, away from the table. He wasn't sure what was in there. Xander said his book delivery was still in the back of the porsche. He tipped his head in the other direction. He looked it over more carefully, finding a small wire on the edge of it. "Shit." He pulled out his phone and backed out. "Suspicious box in the trace lab," he reported, bringing officers running. "It came with the bookstore guy, from the college, it came in Delko's name. It was on the bottom. There was a box on top of it. I found a wire." Horatio came jogging down the hall. "I'm not sure what it is, Horatio." He got a nod and Horatio handed over the present solution and that box. Then he and one of the other officers looked at that box. "The wire was on the side nearest the computer."
"Move back, Mr. Wolfe. Or else I'm firing you," he warned.
Ryan walked off, moving the samples out of the way. The distilling went into the DNA lab. "Don't touch that yet. Something that came had a wire sticking out." She nodded and carefully put it off to the side. He headed back into the hall, then looked in there. "Horatio, should I clear the lab?"
"Do that," he ordered. "That is a bomb trip wire." He called the bomb squad in and then started lab evacuation procedures. He turned it over personally, heading out after doing a quick check to make sure everyone was out and after getting something out of his desk since it was right upstairs. He followed the last tech out, nodding at her in the entryway. "To the further edge," he ordered everyone. "We don't know how strong that is." Everyone walked off. "Mr. Wolfe."
"I swear, Horatio, he said it was from a football player at the bookstore." He handed over his camera. "It was in Delko's name. The top one had grass samples when I looked. I called Xander, he told me why. I only checked the top box. I got them into the lab on a handtruck, then I lifted off the top box and cataloged and counted the samples." He handed over that sheet. "I started the first one running and went to catalog the second box, but something felt wrong."
"It came with the same delivery man?" Ryan nodded, staring at him. "Did he look like he was from the bookstore?"
"He was surly. Kinda gruff. The other courier was there with him. Oh, bad time for this." He handed that letter over, it got put into his pocket without being looked at. Xander pulled up. "He's seriously worried."
"As he and your wife should be. You looked it over?"
"I looked it over next to the table but something was still bugging me so I moved it next to the windows and looked it over again. I saw a really thin wire and then I called it in, getting the other stuff out and across the hall when you handed it to me. I thought it'd be the same stuff."
"It's not a problem, Ryan. You did good. Good instincts."
Xander came over, looking at him. "Way to go Willow," he said quietly, making Ryan stiffen. He touched something on his neck. "A warning. It's to make you feel odd if something could hurt you." He stared into his eyes. "I've got one on Horatio. It has to be redone each month."
"That thing she drew on my neck?" Xander nodded. "It's what caused the funny feeling?"
"Made it stronger. It acts with your natural instincts, Ryan." That got a small smile. He heard the explosion and ducked, then looked at the building. "Let's hope someone's okay."
"Everyone should be fine," Horatio said, moving forward. The officers on the doorway stopped him. "I need to get in there."
"They detonated it by remote, Lieutenant. They couldn't do more than shield it. That lab may be destroyed. They said no one in yet." Horatio glared at him. "They overrule you, sir."
"I was one of them. Let me in." He noticed the guy looked at Xander. "No, look at me," he ordered.
"Sir, the Chief is back there." He got a nod and let him in. Horatio glanced back and the Chief nodded for him to go. He calmed himself, looking at Xander, who shrugged slightly.
Ryan looked at him. "What was that?"
"Nothing." He looked at the man next to him. "Morning."
"Afternoon. Where were you?"
"College bookstore." He held out a name and address. "That's the courier Ryan said was with the other one. He's very good at giving ids."
"Thank you, Harris." He walked off to get someone to find him and ask him, politely, to help them.
"Be nice to him," Xander yelled. "He's a college student who works for a former priest!" That got a nod from Officer Mitchels, who headed off to find him.
"Father Benis sent a letter," Ryan told him quietly. "He said he's going downhill."
"Fuck." Xander went back to his car to call. "Gordon, it's Xander. I just heard we got a letter. No, part of the lab just exploded. Tell him we're going to need a good description of the guy he was waiting with. One of the officers who's guarded me in the past has his name and home address. Thanks. No, Horatio's inside. No, he was outside when it exploded." He held his head. "When?" He nodded, swallowing. "Of course. I'll get Don. Thank you." He hung up and called. "Flack please. It's Xander, tell him it's damn important. Tell him it's about Father Benis." He waited all of two seconds. "He's gone," he said quietly. "Funeral's on Thursday at three." He listened to him.
"Need tickets? I'm there. No, part of the lab just exploded. Someone sent Eric an exploding box and thankfully Ryan realized something was wrong. Thanks." He hung up and called his money manager. "Get tickets immediately to New York to come down for Father Benis' funeral," he ordered quietly. "It's Thursday. I know it's Tuesday. Do it anyway," he ordered. "Or I will. You mean like your job?" he noted dryly. "Thank you." He hung up and called Gordon again. "Not to bother you or anything but I'm going to fire that idiot you had me put over my trust. No, I ordered him to get tickets to New York for the funeral. He tried to refuse. Thank you. I'm sorry, Gordon. What can I do to help?" He nodded. "Agreeable. Be there tonight with Horatio. Thank you."
He hung up and rested his forehead against his steering wheel. He jumped when the alarm went off, turning it off on the keychain remote. He got out and turned it off again, looking behind him. "What the fuck? How stupid are you!" he demanded, kicking the guy trying to bomb this car. "Someone come get this fucking moron before I prove I can make sharpshooter!" A few guys ran over to get him. "Thank you." He turned off the alarm again, letting the bomb squad guys who were coming running take care of it. "Let's not blow my car up, please? It's got my textbooks and my son's birthday present in there." He looked at Ryan, then walked over since Horatio was out. "We're needed on the island tonight."
Xander held up a hand. "He's dead, we're needed on the island tonight. Don's coming down since the funeral's on Thursday." Horatio nodded at that. "I told Gordon I'd be there."
"If I can get free for a few hours," he agreed quietly, handing him the letter. "That came earlier for me."
Xander read it, then smiled sadly and gave it back to him. "That's for you. Even the check." He walked off, heading for the bus stop. "Make sure I get my textbooks." He tossed an officer he knew his keys. "In case they need it."
"Yes, Xander." He watched him go, then looked at Ryan. "What happened?"
"The old guy who was spoiling him was dying of cancer," Ryan explained. "Xander looked just like his son. He died today." That got a few 'awws'. "So he's not having a good day."
"Putting it mildly," Willow offered as she walked up to him. She looked him over, then hugged him. "You're okay."
"I'm fine." He stroked her back. "Thank you for the protection," he whispered. She gave him a squeeze. "Xander said it built on my natural skills."
"It does." She pulled back to stroke his cheek. "Horatio, if I can help I will." She looked at him. "Not like I don't know my way around a lab and a computer."
"I know, Willow, thank you." He looked over as the head of the bomb squad came out. "Are we clear?"
"Everything but those two labs." He looked at Ryan. "Good catch, kid. We only had two minutes to disarm so we couldn't."
"I wish I had realized it sooner."
"What ifs are great but they eat you alive," he assured him. "You did good and didn't get dead. What's this about a second device?"
"Xander was calling his benefactor and someone else to announce his death," Ryan told him. "He was in his car and his alarm went off. He found the guy trying to put it on it."
"In the parking lot, in front of a group of officers. I'm impressed at the stupidity of some people," he decided. He walked that way. "Boys?"
"C-4, sir. The idiot is in custody. IAB is already down here." He pointed at the unconscious guy on the ground a few feet away. "Harris went home, sir." He let him see the device. "He asked we not blow up his car since his textbooks and his son's birthday present are in there."
"Where is Harris?"
"Bus, sir. He's having a bad day."
"I heard." He looked at the device, then yanked the connectors from the block of C-4 to the timer. "Okay, dismantle and take it off." They pulled it off the bumper, taking off the magnet first. He noticed Horatio coming over. "It's clear but we'll check, just in case. Shouldn't you be with your boy?"
"My husband will pick me up later." He looked at the bus stop but the bus had already come. He looked at his former coworker, helping him up. "We need to go over the damage."
"It wasn't the new trial labs," he offered.
"Thankfully." They walked back inside with the chief so they could examine the damage before everyone else came in.
"Horatio, I'm sorry about this."
"Me too," he said patiently, looking at the destroyed wall. The front wall of the trace lab, part of the connecting wall between that and the next one, and then the nearest set of windows on that one. "At least it wasn't high powered enough to take out the whole lab," he decided. He looked at the damage. "Speed will be pissed, that's his lab."
"We barely have the budget to fix the damage, Horatio," the chief said quietly.
"It looks like the equipment is all right and that's under maintenance contract. We'd only have to pay for parts." That got a sigh of relief. "Do not even think about asking Xander for a donation."
"I won't, not today. Is he all right?"
"He'll be fine. He's a strong man." He nodded. "Okay. Speed gets this one, Delko the other one. They can sort and clean when they come in. That way we can find any samples that may have been compromised." That got nods. "Go ahead and release the rest." He looked around then headed up to his office. His pictures had been knocked over but they were easily righted. He called Xander. "There's almost no damage and your car is fine," he offered quietly. "Are you all right?" He mentally sighed. "I'm sorry, Xander. I will try. If not, maybe I can get Speed to go with you. No, he's not in trouble. Thank you. I'm sorry." Xander hung up on him. He hung up his phone and looked at the pictures, then went to make assignments. "Ryan, are you fit to work?"
"Yeah, boss, but Willow's insisting she's hanging out in the break room."
"That's fine. Speed gets the Trace lab to clean it. Eric, take the other one." That got a nod. "Where is Speed?"
"He and Calleigh are still on their scene. Alexx just brought the body back," Eric offered. "I left the trainee doing mine." Horatio gave him a look. "I was nearly done, H. Just the last few nitpicking things like sifting the sand. I told him he's to report each and every single step he was doing." That got a nod. "I figured you'd need me back here."
"I do. Get to it. Rebox any samples that were present so we can see if they were compromised."
"Same as we did in Calleigh's," he agreed, going to do it.
Horatio nodded, looking at Ryan. "Your instincts fed into it, Ryan. That's very good work. Are you sure you can work?"
"I'll go insane or hurt her back again if I don't."
"Try not to do that," Horatio said dryly. Ryan smirked at him. "I know. Take the samples to another lab and get back to processing them. You can go through the computers in Chem for it." Ryan nodded, going to gather those samples and the box, dragging them both down the hall with him. He checked in DNA, hissing at a few tipped things. Both DNA techs came in. "Check it, see if anything was compromised. I need a report immediately on what that may be, also on anything that's broken or damaged." They nodded and headed in there.
"What the fuck, H!" Speed yelled as he walked in. "A bomb!"
"In your lab," he agreed, pointing. "Clean it, give me a report immediately on anything that was in there, anything that was compromised, and anything that needs fixed."
"You mean besides the walls!" he demanded.
"Speed, calm down."
"Speed, one of us has to be calm for Xander. Father Benis died today." Speed glared at him. "What?"
"That's a husband's job, Horatio. I've held him when he cried before. I gave him to you when you married him."
"I know that."
"Good, then you can take two hours off." He walked into his lab and looked around, groaning a bit. He pulled out the gloves, mask, and tweezers to start pluck bomb debris and components, then moved from there to the walls and sample containers. Then the computers. By then it was dinner time.
Xander pulled up in front of the old house, parking and getting out. He nodded at the guard. "There was a bomb." He walked inside, finding Gordon waiting on him. "Sorry. We had a bomb at the station."
"Is Horatio hurt?"
"No, he's in charge. Two labs were damaged and some samples tipped or spilled in DNA."
"This is a husband's job," Gordon said.
"Sometimes work has to come first. He'll be there for me at the funeral."
"He has to be here tonight before we can start, Xander. Also, Don's flying down now. I'm having him picked up. We have to have Horatio out here by the time he's here." Xander gave him a look. "Call him."
Xander sighed and sat on the staircase, calling his mate. "Gordon says you have to be here or else something will happen. You have to get here by the time Don is." He hung up and looked at him. "How long before Don gets here?"
"An hour at the most." He called that guard to tell him to stall. Then he looked at Xander. "Unfortunately if he's not here, the will will be declared invalid and it'll be split between all of us equally."
"The bad of that would be?" Xander asked.
"There's some special bequeaths." Xander nodded, getting that. "Come on, you can have some tea." He led him back into the kitchen. "You drove the porsche?"
"I had to pick it up since they got the bomb off it." He looked back as the door opened then closed again. "Eric."
"Horatio's on his way but he had me tail you to be here in case he couldn't get here in time." He gave him a hug. "Are you all right?" Xander shook his head. "Okay. You want to talk, I'll be up most of the night." Xander smiled and patted him on the hand. He nodded at Gordon. "He would've driven out with him but the Chief was trying to make his life difficult."
"He'll be here too." He looked over as Horatio walked in and shut the door. Then he looked at Eric. "He could probably use someone to drive him home. Or his car if his mate doesn't go back to work." Eric smiled and nodded, giving Xander another hug.
"I'll be okay. It's not the first one, Eric," he said calmly, patting him on the arm. "I promise, it'll be okay. Can you take my car back to the station?"
"You sure? It might not be safe there."
"If anyone's stupid enough to try it again after the guy earlier, then they deserve to have their heads kicked in." He handed him his keys. "You can even drive it around to impress some girls." Eric gave him a weak grin. "I'll be fine. At the very least I can pick it up tonight." Eric nodded at that, heading out. He looked at Gordon. "I also drove it because the other one doesn't have a security system if I had to leave it somewhere tonight," he said quietly. "Like the station."
"I understand." He looked at Horatio as he finally came in. "Thank you."
"Why did I have to be here?"
"Because if you're not with him by the time Don Flack gets here, then the will would be counted as invalid and then the specific bequeathals would be invalid, like the one to the children's hospital in Madison's name, Horatio."
Horatio nodded, accepting that. "Thank you." He looked at Xander, but Xander brushed his hand off his shoulder. "Xander," he offered quietly.
"You'll be there Thursday, Horatio."
"I wanted to come. I was going to come later." He sat down next to him. "Gordon?" He left them alone. "You know sometimes work has to come first."
"I know." He looked at him. "Remember to have this talk with Willow when Ryan doesn't make it to her side while she's in labor."
"It won't happen. I won't let that happen. I was going to head over within the next half an hour anyway." He stroked over his cheek. "I'll have to go back for an hour or so, you can stay with me."
"I'll take the car home. I had Eric take it back to the station." He looked over as the door opened. "See, the boss." He looked at him again. "I have no idea what I'm getting into here. I would appreciate someone being there, but I didn't need it to be Eric. Or Dad."
"I know. I'm sorry, I was trying in case I couldn't be here in time." He looked into the angry eyes. "I know, Xander, and I'm sorry."
"Thank you." He took his tea to the other room, giving the Chief a look, getting a wince in return. "Yeah, that's where the mazerati that got you guys the extra cars came from."
"Damn it." He moved closer. "I'm sorry, Xander."
"So am I. He was an incredible man who mentored a bunch of people and I can only hope he's proud of how I'm looking over Ray Jr. and Eric." He sat down, looking at Gordon. "Don and who else?"
"Just Don. Unless he brought someone with him." He gave him a gentle smile. "He was very proud of you muscling Ray Jr.'s new school to accept him that Monday plus paying his tuition. It made him laugh. As did the fact that Eric's birthday present is one of those bouncing ponies like his son used to have."
"I had one too and I loved it until the springs broke." He took another sip of his tea. "Should I want to run?"
"No. Not in the least, Xander." Xander nodded at that. "It depends as much on what Don says as what you say," he offered. That got another nod and another sip of tea. "Chief, he's just landed so we've got to wait for Don to get here from the airport. Would you like some tea or coffee?"
"No, that's fine," he said tiredly. He looked at Horatio. "Head home after this." That got a nod. He glanced at the boy, then at him. "You should be over there."
"He's mad at me. I'll be next to him later."
"I'm not that pissed or that deaf," Xander said patiently. "Nor am I that stupid." He glared at the chief, who backed off. "Thank you." He looked at Gordon, who gave him a stare. "What?"
"He said you'd get mad." He pulled him up and into the office to talk to him. "He knew someone was going to try this week, but he wasn't sure when. That's why he put that clause into the will, to make sure that Horatio would be there for you, Xander." Xander shrugged. "He is, you know that."
"I'm just pissed at life at the moment."
"I realize that. We all realize that." He gave him a gentle smile. "I knew Patrick for years, Xander. He's the one who got me into law. He was an amazing man." He heard the door slam. "That sounds like Don." He gave him a long look. "He loved you like his own son. He thought Eric was a little hellion in the making and would someday have your smile and mischievous nature that you showed before you met Buffy."
"He knew me back then?"
"He did." He patted him on the shoulder. "Are you ready?" Xander shook his head. "Can you use some of that famed strength of will and hold up for the next three hours?"
"Yeah, I'll break down later. I did after graduation."
"This isn't the same sort of battle, Xander, but nearly." He walked him out and back into the other room. "I thought that had been you, Don. I'm sorry." He shook his hand. "Because of who and what he was, his will won't be probated. No one's going to challenge it." He led them all into the study, the only room that had a comfortable table to sit around. Xander looked up and around, frowning a bit. "It is modeled on your former hangout," he admitted dryly. "He thought it charming you hated learning and hung out in a library."
"That's where the necessary things were." He sat down, looking at Don, who was next to him. Then he gave him a hug. "I'm sorry, Don."
"Me too, kid. Now let go." Xander let him go, keeping a hand on his arm. He looked at Horatio, who simply nodded and took his husband's other hand to hold. "Why are we doing this now? Isn't it supposed to be done after the funeral?"
"He wanted it done before. That way you and Xander could quit swearing before the graveside service." He looked at them. "You won't be happy."
"All I want is the picture he held in blackmail," Don told him.
"You're not getting it, Xander is. You're getting his."
"We'll trade back later," Xander assured him, giving his wrist a squeeze. "Are we all here?"
"Yes." He unrolled the top of the desk and pulled out the thick folder. "The details of what everything is." He sat down, puling out a single sheet. "I, Patrick Reynold Harris- Benis, being of sound mind, do hereby make out this, my last will and testament," he read. He took a deep breath. "Before I go any further, let me say this was agonizing to watch. I've helped many young men reach their full potential over the years and watched many of them be destroyed by the lives they chose to live. First, to the local community, this house will be gifted upon the inheritor's death to be made into a safehouse for abused men and their families. Until that time, I am bequeathing the city of Miami ten million dollars for that construction and only that construction. The inheritor of my foundation shall look over your shoulder to make sure of it since it is needed." He cleared his throat. "Also, to the MDPD, I bequeath the sum of eight million to do whatever Lieutenant Horatio Caine believes is necessary to bring all the labs in the city up to the standard of his." Horatio nodded at that. "There was an emphasis on all, I'm not sure why."
"I do." He looked at him. "He knew?"
"He knew someone was planning something but he wasn't sure who or when, Horatio. That's what the check earlier was to be used for." The Chief sighed in relief. "To be decided by him and only him, Chief, including that other eight million." He looked at the paper. "Should I go over the smaller bequeaths, like my house?" Everyone shook their heads. "Then onto the difficult part. To my nephew, Donald Flack Junior." Don stiffened, glaring at him. "I do leave him a choice. He can either have this house and run my foundation or he can have an equitable sum that amounts to half of my monetary assets and leave the running to my grandson, Alexander Harris." Xander glared at him. "It is his choice and his choice alone. I do charge whichever runs it that they will heed my wishes in relation to the promises I've made for the next few year's grants and scholarships, also that you keep the staff on for at least another year, until you're comfortable with it. Should they come to an agreement to do it together that should be fine," he read. He put the paper down and patted the rest of his stack. "The rest of his monetary assets were mostly in things, boys. Patrick was a very old, old being." Xander raised an eyebrow. "He was turned."
"Then how did he die of cancer?"
"He had it when he died, it's been slowly growing somehow. We think it was something in Ethan's sidelines."
"He's sane?" The Chief asked. Xander lit the candle in front of him with a snap of his fingers, making him pass out.
Gordon smirked. "Show off."
"No shit. Apparently that comes from my grandfather since my uncle has it too."
"Xander," Gordon warned.
"I don't need money or things!" he said hotly, standing up. "It's not what I need, not why I liked talking to him! It's not what I want!" He stomped off.
Don stood up. "Give us ten." He followed him, finding him outside. He turned him around, tipping his face up. "Not what I want either. If not, it all gets sold and no one watches out for his people, Xander." Xander sniffled and he let him cry on him. "Shh, I know." He gave him the cuddle he needed, noting when Horatio came out. "Do you want to do it together, Xander, or do you want to do it? I can't do that stuff very well." Xander shook his head. "No what?"
"I don't want it."
"Xander, I can't do it and it'll leave his people high and dry." He made the kid look at him again. "That'll let someone like the Chief take out all the scholarships and stuff." Gordon came out. "We're still talking."
"You've got a few hours to decide." He handed them a small packet of tissues and an envelope. "To be read during this. That was his fear." He looked at Xander. "He left it in Don's hand because he's older and he's not sure you've got the energy to head his empire, Xander. That's why it was made him or both of you if possible, or you and I'd be standing behind you until the day I died in another eighteen months." Don gave him a harsh look. "Lung cancer." He shrugged. "I had a passion for cigars." He looked at him. "He was very proud of you, Xander. In everything you did. The Flack's were his married family. Don is his wife's nephew. When his last wife died he joined the priesthood. His son refused to talk to him because he had turned to God in his desire for relief from his grief. His son moved to Sunnydale and had you. Patrick was turned a long time ago but he only served in places without enough holiness in them to affect him. He was already a priest." Xander looked at him, making 'go on' motions.
"His sire left him most of this. Including this house. Upon the decision and the signing of the paperwork, all the crap he got left, his own words, would be sold off at the auction house you used, through the same person. If neither of you agree, we can't do that and his foundation dies." Xander slumped and nodded, looking at his feet. "The only decision is if you're both going to do it together or not. That would mean Don would have to be in contact a lot more often and even down here, plus you'd have to be back in New York a lot more often." He patted him on the shoulder. "Also, you've got a bit of an inheritance left. His preferred house was downtown and that was left to you, while his condo in New York was left to Don. Those aren't included in the foundation's things. Just things that he inherited from his sire." Xander nodded, looking at him again. "So will it be both of you or just him?"
Don handed Xander the letter. "He makes sense." He looked at Horatio, which made him move closer. "I always said you were like my little brother."
"Well, Uncle Don, that's not going to change," he sighed, handing Horatio the letter. He looked at Gordon. "I have to stay in school to swim."
"Xander, if you continue, they're going to start looking into your past. They've already done that. I had to blackmail one guy to make sure he didn't mention you were a former stripper." Xander slumped. "You can still compete but if you do, you have to be aware of that stuff."
"The athletic director wanted me to disavow my past," he admitted bitterly. He moved his hair back, then looked at his husband. "Horatio?"
He looked at him, staring into his eyes. "Whatever you want. You know that. If you want to continue swimming that's up to you, Xander. If you want to do this, I'll do what I can to support you. I agree, if you do it by yourself you'll have some problems." He moved closer, holding him for a moment, then he kissed him on the temple. "I'm just as much behind you as you are me," he said quietly. Xander relaxed in his arms. "You are my mate, Xander." Xander nodded at that. He pulled back to look at him. "It is up to you."
"Don? It's your choice."
"Together, Xander. I can't do this on my own. I'd fuck it up within weeks by pissing off the wrong person."
Gordon smiled at him. "I doubt it. He's never been one to put up with the rich boy lifestyle. Thank you. There's one last thing I have to read." He led them back it the study, nudging the Chief awake. "Are you feeling all right?"
"Fine," he said, looking at Xander. "How?"
"Don't ask. I can't explain it. It's about where I'm from." He looked at Gordon. "Last thing?"
"Since you've decided to do it together." He cleared his throat when Horatio came back in. "Called the office?"
"Told them I'd be in tomorrow morning and for everyone to close up and go home to sleep." He sat down and took Xander's hand again, getting a weak squeeze. "What other clause?"
"Not so much a clause as an instruction." He cleared his throat again. "I'm glad you boys made the right choice. You'll need a guiding board and you've got a few very good candidates near you. Once the auction has happened, set it up so you're not the only one doing things. I know Gordon's reading this since he'll go later than I will so listen to him about his suggestions on how to do things. He's the one who set this foundation up for me. Also, should something necessitate Xander's life being in peril, yet again, in a serious and severe manner, the whole of the estate can and should be liquidated. The house can be given to the city. The houses that the boys want can stay. It is up to Xander and Horatio to say when and if that happens." He looked at Horatio. "He knew what was in his gas tank."
"His life was in danger but it's been fixed."
"That's fine." He went back to reading. "Should this emergency occur, the foundation will be broken apart, the rest of the assets split evenly between the boys, and their lives will be filled with doing good works, I hope. Don, dress nicely and make that nice Danny boy happy. Oh, and get Stella something spectacular that makes men drool. She could use being drooled over. A woman like her could use it." He smirked at him. "He had a small crush on her. She was a lot like your aunt from what I understand."
"His son during the fifties?" Horatio asked.
"His first son with his very first wife. The one that sent him to the arms of God was his third. Xander's father was born when Patrick was nearly seventy-two." Horatio nodded, getting it suddenly. The whole vampire thing worked on that timeline. "His second wife was barren. His first one had two children. The first died of a young child's disease, much like Madison from what I was told. His other one you found. It led you here. His third wife only had that one son."
Xander nodded. "He was always a bitter man."
"That's because he hated himself and his life. He hated his father for not pampering him. Patrick came from money. Oh, Don, you're from his second wife's family."
"Dad said he was the baby of the family." He frowned at Xander. "Doesn't matter, you're still a relative." Xander gave him a weak smile. "Any other orders?"
"The auction has already been arranged. They've had everything listed and he was going to do it before he died." He looked at the notes, then at them, nodding. "Yes, there is. He said to make sure that Xander's past is protected. There's more things there than you think, including the evil that's coming from that town for him. Remember, Xander, it won't ever truly let you go since it loves you." Xander shivered but nodded. "In the private bequeaths was my house, a few other things like Madison's donation to the hospital and for her care, Horatio, and enough for each member of the staff to have approximately fifty thousand dollars each. Those who served longer got more."
"The courier guy, he's on scholarship?" Gordon nodded. "That's in there?"
"It is. He's been with us since we pulled him off the streets at sixteen. That's not his natal family, they kicked him out for being gay."
"Pity. I like him, he's a nice guy," Xander said quietly, looking at Don. Then back at Gordon. "He had really good gaydar?"
"He did. It wasn't acceptable in his lifetime but he did lust after a great many men. Which was why he split with the church." He shrugged and leaned forward. "The last instruction was to not grieve for him, Xander. He had a longer life than most and it was mostly happy. Also to leave Ethan and his ways alone."
"If at all humanly possible," he agreed dryly.
"Thank you. Ethan was a valuable ally in his last few years." He smiled at them. "The auction is next week, and I'm sorry, Xander, but you're going to have to pull out of school this semester. You're going to be much too busy to attend even the easiest, non-homework bearing classes." Xander grimaced. "Even with everything set up, it might not be possible next year either. Also, about the porsche. He said it was cute. It was another Middle Eastern gentleman."
"Oh please, no," Xander begged.
"One like him and his sire, Xander."
"Fuck me," he muttered, shaking his head. "Would Angel know?"
"Do you want to hear the laughter?"
"No! But it's better than putting up with it."
Don looked at him. "We, Xander. We."
"If any of us go, he's liable to try to keep us the hard way." He slumped down, looking at his mate. "Why do they like me?"
"I've often wondered that." He gave his hand a squeeze. "Thank you, Gordon. Did you need them to sign things tonight? I should take them home, let Don have our spare room."
"Speed's putting me up," Don assured him.
"I want this noted now. If I get turned, you're all coming with me. Speed, Eric, Danny, Stella, Mac, Horatio, all of you." They both smiled at him. "We clear?" They nodded. "Good. Gordon, can we dissuade him? Or should I send back a stake?"
"I've sent one of those in your name. He laughed and said you'd make a good consort."
"I have one of those. No one touches my consort or me." He sat up straighter. "I need a long, hot bath. What's up with the signing stuff?" It was sent down to him. "All this?"
"Every last one, Xander." He sighed and caught the pen Horatio tossed at him. "Thank you."
"I've had to carry one today with how many forms I've had to sign." He looked at his boss. "For obvious reasons, I do hope that whoever's behind these stupid attacks will be stopped sooner."
"Me as well." He stood up. "When can we expect that check?"
"After the funeral. It will be done quietly. He wanted no press involvement. Quietly given to City Council in his name." That got a nod. "The only one who was getting any press was the auction and Madison's donation."
"Who was Madison to him?" the Chief asked.
"The daughter Ray had with the young woman he cheated on Yelina with; she's ill," Horatio told him quietly. The Chief gave him a horrified look. "She's got cancer, Chief. He's making sure she gets the best care while her mother is putting her life back together again." That got a nod and he walked out. "I don't like alienating him," he offered quietly.
"He's retiring next year anyway, Horatio. Fortunately we've gotten one of the threats out of your way. He retired under strong pressure that came from the fact he was dating outside his race and he doesn't believe in that."
"He wasn't *dating*," Xander said dryly, handing Don another form. "He was molesting outside his race, Gordon." He shot him a look and went back to signing. "The other one's got a fondness for boys himself. He used to come in and sneer a lot but the guys who gave the blows often got privates with him."
"Thank you, Xander. I love you dearly. I will be behind you as much as humanly possible. I've refused my chance to be turned." He gave him a gentle smile, then one to Horatio. "He did wish you'd take him on a real honeymoon, Horatio. Not just a weekend away somewhere quiet." Horatio shrugged. "I know, you have to protect the city. Some day you'll have to retire and then who gets the lab?"
"Speed or Eric. Calleigh would be gone by then," Xander said, giving him another look. "Calleigh was thinking about not moving further up the chain after watching Horatio have hair-messing days."
"I have those?" Horatio asked dryly.
"Yup, those are the days the paperwork gets so bad you end up running your hands through your hair. They're the days I come in to smooth it out for you and bring you the extra special lunch." He signed another one and handed it over.
"Xander, quit dating stuff. You're putting the wrong year."
"Sorry." He just signed his name and handed them over, making Gordon chuckle. "Horatio keeps track of that stuff for me. That's why he realized our second anniversary of having met is coming up."
"You stormed into my life, threw a fit, and changed it forever," Horatio agreed. Gordon took the stack of signed things, handing a few to Horatio. He gave them an odd look then looked at Gordon. "Why my signature as well?"
"Those need a witness, Horatio."
"Oh." He took Gordon's pen and went to work signing what he needed. He gave Xander's hand a squeeze. "No more fighting, Xander, I can only blame this on those head injuries."
"The last three weren't my fault," he defended, looking at his spouse. "One was a serial killer. One was that nice little car crash we had. And the other one was something that chased my ass down to hunt me, honey. Forgive me for forgetting the year." He got back to work.
Horatio pulled Xander up and into the next room, looking at him. "I was teasing."
"You're always going on about that stuff."
Horatio kissed him. "If you die before me, the world will end," he said quietly. "Then I'll follow you." Xander opened his mouth. "Everyone knows that. The bomb squad guys were going over what to do when I bombed the city if an officer managed to injure you that badly." Xander shook his head slowly. Horatio nodded. "Yes, Xander. Besides, this is the first time I've mentioned your hunting in weeks." Xander frowned at him. "What day is this?"
"Tuesday." He gave him a cautious look. "I'm not that far gone."
"You're exhausted," he said gently. He kissed him gently. "I was only teasing."
"Maybe you're right and I'm tired." He rested his head against Horatio's shoulder. "It's late. We can go home after this, right?"
"Of course. We'll go home and take a hot bath, then I'll carry you out to bed after you fall asleep."
"Fuck the bath, just put me to bed," he whispered. "Please?"
"Anything you want and need," he promised. He tipped his face back up. "We need to get back there." Xander nodded, leading the way back. "He's tired, Gordon."
"I realize that. There's not that much more to do, Horatio." He pointed at the smaller stack. "Some of those need initials. Find the post-it arrows, Xander." Xander nodded and got back to it, at least until Don took the pen from his hand. "I'll bring them over in the morning," he said gently.
"At the funeral, Don," he said patiently. "You'll have everything then." He stood up. "Go ahead and take him home, Horatio. I can stop by in the morning." Horatio nodded and stood up, taking Xander out to the hummer to take him home. "Ethan!" he snapped. "Quit picking on Xander!"
Ethan walked in, looking at him. "I'm not. I'm giving him the solace he needs tonight, Gordon. He's had a very bad day and it's not going to get much better." They shared a look. "Don, please finish signing what you can and I'll have you driven home."
"Sure. What's going on?"
"It's a complicated story," Ethan admitted. "Please." Don nodded and got back to work on the rest of his stack then what he needed to do of Xander's. He finally slid them down and stood up, grabbing his jacket. "I'll be the one you see at the funeral," he told him quietly. "Gordon's getting more and more ill. He was coughing blood earlier." Don nodded at that, accepting it. "Have a better night."
"I'll try. So why knock Xander out?"
"For a very good reason. Something was trying for him again." Don nodded, taking that and going out to be driven off. Ethan gathered up the rest of the papers, then looked at Gordon. "Begone," he said softly. Gordon and the other ghosts in the house faded out, leaving him alone but for a housekeeper, who was crying in the kitchen. He took everything with him and headed out to bring her home. Then he went to rest. They'd had to do that while the spirits were still around.
Xander looked up as someone knocked on the door, getting up to answer it since Ray Jr. was reading. He blinked at the man on the other side. "Ethan." He waved him inside without an invite.
Ethan stepped in and looked at him. "There's a reason. Raymond, may I have a few minutes without you?" He nodded and headed out to sit at the table on the porch. His uncle had told him he had to stay there. He looked at him. "Patrick was the sort to inspire blind loyalty, Xander."
"Not quite but his staff mostly committed suicide after him. All but a few of us." Xander's face hardened so he handed over the paperwork. "I made sure it didn't go to the Miami- Dade PD. That way your husband wouldn't hear and tell you." He put the papers into his hands. "You need to finish signing them."
"What the hell?" he demanded.
"You're still open to that," he said, poking him on the forehead. "That's why you took the sudden nap. You're welcome." He waved a hand at the papers. "Gordon had my help appearing for that last night. That's what he wanted and it was a kinder death than lung cancer." He handed him a pen. "Finish signing."
"How do I know you haven't screwed with them?"
"Xander, your grandfather was the one who introduced me to Ripper, a nice man of my own age instead of himself." They shared a look. "You look every bit like Patrick when he was younger. I owe the man my sanity from where Ripper sent me away. So please, sign? Let's get this tragedy over with and move on. I need it, you need it, and Don needs it. The funeral will be agonizing." Xander nodded and sat down at the indoor table to look over things and sign where he needed to. "Thank you. Raymond!" He came in again. "You're over sixteen, correct?" That got a nod. "Thank you, sign. That way I can and we can move on again." Ray nodded, taking the pen and signing where necessary. Ethan signed his name in the places that needed more than one witness, checking everything. "I'll take this to his redundant backup lawyer and we'll make sure everything is in order. He's the same one you went to for your trust," he offered more gently. Xander nodded, looking at him. "He was sorry to lay this on you, Xander. It's not like his own family didn't die for what they wanted to do to him."
"What did they want to do to him?" Ray asked.
"He was gay in a time that was not only illegal and taboo, but also something that could get you confined to a mental hospital, Raymond. At that time, it was more than acceptable to use some very questionable treatments, such as electroshock therapy, on gay men to cure them."
"Enough," Xander ordered, standing up and looking at him. "His first lover killed them. I know that. He told me."
"No, he killed them." Xander opened his mouth. "His first lover was the one who taught him magic and he left it because his lover botched a spell that he was helping with. His lover's aura didn't hold a tenth of the blood that his own did. Even if he didn't do it personally he blamed himself for it," he said more gently, easing the boy's horrified look. "He was that sort of man, Xander."
"He blamed himself for me meeting Buffy?"
"No, he blamed your father for that one. That was his fault. He ran away from everything and somehow ended up *there*." He gave him a look. "No one's sure why or how. Your father has not an ounce of skills nor did he have any desire to learn." He clutched the papers tighter to his chest. "All we know is that somehow he ended up there and the hellmouth loves you. The next time it goes rogue it could very well reach out for you."
"It did in Vegas that time."
"I remember. Also your new fan?" Xander grimaced. "I've sent Angel word to have a talk with him of the knee-breaking variety." Someone pounded them walk in. "Don."
"Ethan." He looked at Xander, then at him. "Everything okay?"
"I brought over the rest of the paperwork." He looked at him. "There's things you don't know about yet, Don."
"I've handed him everything I ever found," Xander assured him dryly. He looked at him. "Almost everyone we saw last night was dead."
"Interesting. I wondered why Ethan was sweating in a cold house." He came in further. "And now?"
"They went to be with him, Don."
"I have no problem with that. The greater majority of his people were ill. What about the rest?"
"It was set up long ago. Gordon wanted to do the reading so he asked me to help him hang around. Unfortunately Xander happens to draw the dead and I made him fall asleep."
"Now *that's* a comic book worthy power," Ray said, smirking at Xander.
"Your uncle knows. So does your mother," he said patiently. "Including about my possession by the hyena." He looked at Ethan again. "Everything's set up?"
"Fully. I made sure of it last week when I couldn't keep his energy up any longer." He looked at them again. "I gave you both as long as I could," he offered gently.
"You did just fine," Don assured him, moving closer.
"You did good, Ethan," he agreed. He stood up and hugged him. "You did good and did what you could."
"Thank you." He patted him on the cheek. "The rest of the wills will be read after the funerals, as will the ones that state the remaining assets are all yours."
"The courier guy?" Don asked.
"He's one of the ones who's staying. He found a nice young man who he wanted to stay for. I, of course, have the bane of my existence."
"If the hellmouth reaches out, Ethan, it could very well use him or Buffy. Or even Willow's child."
"I've already shielded the child."
"She's still doing magic."
"I'll check on her later."
"Let me call first," Xander said dryly. Ethan nodded, accepting that wisdom. "So, what are we auctioning?"
"Anything you don't want. He did say Don was to have the house out there if he wanted for whenever he came in."
"I can stay with family," Don assured him. Ethan smirked at that. "It gives me the creeps, okay? They can have it sooner and I'll gladly let you guys clean out all the important stuff."
"I'll have that done this weekend and let the Chief know when I present the checks to the city council." He looked at Xander. "Horatio has to be at that one meeting. It will be a few hours after the funeral. It will be a very long day, Xander."
"Yes, Ethan." He looked at him. "Who else stayed? You, him?"
"One of the guards, the housekeeper. By his will they'll all get their share of that fund he set up, which raises it up to about three hundred thousand each." That got a small nod. "They've agreed to split it equally since the difference would be a few bucks here and there." He waved a hand around. "Are you sure?" Xander and Don both nodded. "Then I'll get to work on that this afternoon. You've got a hard few weeks. Take all the comfort you can, Xander. You as well, Don. Your aunt was always one of my favorites." He walked out, leaving them alone.
Xander turned off the tape recorder and handed the wire to Ray with it. "To your uncle, Robin."
"Yes, sir." He got up and took Xander's keys. "Not the porsche?"
"After you got the last speeding ticket? Your mother's going to try to castrate me with her teeth."
"Point." He went out to use the other car, heading to the station.
Xander looked at Don. "I'm not hungry."
"Me either but I got ordered by Stella to make you eat." He headed into the kitchen, then came back out. "Hell, let's hit the deli. Horatio can find you."
Xander nodded, grabbing his other keys and tossing them to Don, who just beamed. "I like my other car but that one's a nice ride." He followed him out. "Hold on, turn on the blue alarm first, make sure it wasn't tampered with again." Don did that and the alarm started to go off. "Shit. Red button." It went off and he got down to look under it, then around the gas tank. His cellphone rang and he answered it. "Harris. Yup, we turned it on as a precaution first. What was touched?" He went to look at the driver's door. "Fingerprints, nothing explosive. You're sure?" He nodded. "Okay. Thank you." He hung up and popped the hood, then swore. He called Horatio. "Someone thoughtfully somehow got into my car, popped the hood, and put something underneath it that's blinking down to two minutes and counting. No, we're at home. Thank you, Horatio." He got in and backed the car out into the middle of the street, then got out and hurried back with Don inside the house. They barely made it inside when it exploded. "Should I get another of those?"
"It's a pretty car," he admitted. Don walked out, putting an arm around Xander's shoulders while they waited for people to respond. Speed got there first and stared at them. He tossed him the keys. "Special alarm?"
"Yeah, handy thing to have but it wears down the battery to keep it on all the time. So I turn it on every time I start the car." He called Ray Jr. "You started the special alarm first, right?" He smirked. "Thank you, Ray. No, exploded." He sighed as he hung up, looking at his mate. "Ray's on his way to see you," he greeted when he pulled up.
"Ethan brought the last of the paperwork. What you got called about did happen." Ray pulled up. "He's got the tape and it explains so much more." He sat down on the front step, looking at him. "I didn't think to try to lift the fingerprint but if you find my driver's door handle it had one."
"I'll tell them that. Where were you two headed?"
"Breakfast. Stella ordered me to feed him," Don admitted.
Horatio pointed. "Go inside, get into the freezer, Don. Thaw some of the soup." He nodded and brought Xander inside with him. He went back to the car's remains. "He said he saw a fingerprint on the driver's door handle."
"Found that already," Speed assured him. He looked at Ray. "Remember, kiddo, you use that alarm each and every time you start the car."
"I learned that one already." He handed Horatio the wire. "Ethan's making sure the paperwork is all in order with the guy who did his trust."
"I liked him, he was honest," Horatio admitted, going to listen to that in his office. At least then he'd have some warning of the horrors coming up in the next few days.
To Part 2: