Horatio got back his test, then looked at Xander, who the nurse stared at. "Is his back?"
"I can check." She got up to get both of them. He had come in the next day and asked for his second proof test then. She came back and looked them over. "The first was still cloudy. The second came out clear and negative on all counts, but something was caught about his blood being a bit thick."
"The jerky thinned it out some I guess," Xander offered quietly. "Thank you. So I'm clear?"
"You are. Was it the jerky?"
"Someone did a few simulations. Eric Delko's might turn out slightly this way, we're not sure," Horatio offered. "Something in the jerky and chlorine do not mix very well in the body." Xander looked at him, getting a nod. "If he got a cloudy one, it's a true reaction. If not, it's only in your body."
"Can I still eat it?"
"We'll see. If his is, then it'll be a choice between the two. If his isn't and it's just you, it still may be a choice between the two."
"Or he could quit taking the blood work," the nurse suggested. "He's been clear all this time."
"I don't want to risk giving him anything," Xander reminded her.
"While that's noble, Xander, you're clear. You've been clear. This sounds like a guilty conscience."
"No, but I know what got sprayed on that floor and sometimes it did come in contact with my skin."
"Which was before we got together," Horatio reminded him.
"And that one guy who kidnaped me," Xander reminded him, grimacing.
"True. I had wanted to forget about him. How long ago was that?"
"A little over a year now."
The nurse looked confused. "He exposed you?"
"His tests in jail came out negative but while he had Xander he brought himself off a few times over his bound body," Horatio explained.
"It's been over a year though?" They both nodded, it had been. "Then he's probably safe there as well."
"I don't want a 'probably' to come back and bite him on the ass," Xander said firmly.
"Good, then you can cut back to semi-annual checks," she ordered. He frowned. "Really, you can. I know a lot of men who do that anyway, especially if they've had a transfusion in the recent past."
"Not in three years," Xander offered.
"Then you're perfectly healthy, Xander. Start testing semi-annually. It's good enough since you've tested clean so far."
"I have to get tested quarterly for work," Horatio offered.
"That's fine. If yours comes up he'll be devastated." She looked between them. "It's good to know he has some support now. We all worried about him when he never brought you in with him for results."
"That was his choice. We tried to come with him and he snuck out. Originally we didn't even know he was taking them." He looked at his mate, who shrugged. "This is something that most people want support for, Xander."
"I'm good with this."
"I'm not. You tried to sleep in a motel." Xander gave him a very telling look. "I know. I don't care, but I know."
"Did you warn Don too?"
"Not yet." He took his hand to hold. "From now on, you can come with me and I'll come with you to your doctor's appointments."
"I don't have...." Horatio squeezed his hand. "Fine. You win, I'll quit doing it alone."
"Thank you." He stood up and walked Xander out, taking him past Ryan, who was there with Willow and Todd. "You too?" Ryan nodded. "Everyone else?"
"We're having dinner on your porch tonight," he offered, grinning slightly.
"That's fine, Ryan. Thank you for the warning. I'll go buy food."
"Eric said we're all bringing something. He's bringing Marisol, the baby, and kabobs."
"That works," Xander agreed, grinning slightly. "Have fun with this, see you two later." He walked out, taking the baby from Willow. "Come on, Toddy, we're going to cuddle. That way mommy can jump your daddy and make him beg for mercy again." The baby smiled and sucked on his cheek. "I love you too." He walked out to the car, settling him into Eric's carseat. Then he climbed into the front of the hummer, letting Horatio drive. "I really can go by myself."
"The point is that you don't have to go by yourself. You sneaking off worries me. It says to me that you're hiding something, probably something serious. Then I have to get upset and it creates problems when Eric and Ryan plot to keep me off the harder cases." Xander snickered at that. "Yes, I know about their plan. No, I don't like it, but I'll work my way around Eric since he's trying to be helpful." He looked at his mate. "He will come after you if you keep making me worry."
"I know, you weren't thinking beyond proving you were still a very strong man emotionally and that you didn't need me to go with you."
"No, honestly, I knew I could do it on my own and I wasn't going to burden anyone with worry."
Horatio looked at him, grimacing. "It's a husband's right to worry when their spouses do stupid things, Xander. Get over it." He started the engine and backed out of the parking lot. "Do we have *any* food?"
"Nope. I ate that really nasty lamb in a box dish for breakfast."
Horatio moaned and shook his head. "One of these days you will be able to cook without setting off the smoke detector, Xander. Even if I have to have us both turned to see that day come."
"You do and you're damning Don, Danny, Stella, Mac, and most of your team."
Horatio considered it. "Well...."
"Don would kick your ass. He said so."
"We'll have to see what happens. If you would learn how to cook something beyond that damn jerky and the toxic materials you usually make, it'd be nice."
"I can make prepackaged stuff."
"Yes, but I'm told it's all bad for us. Sheldon got onto my case a lot when he was down here about our diets."
"I'd rather die happy and sated than die with regrets and on a diet."
"Me too," he admitted. "Life's too short not to enjoy it."
Xander slipped a hand over, touching his thigh. "I'd offer a bit of enjoyment but Toddy might wanna watch."
"No, not in front of the baby," he agreed. He pulled into a grocery store and they got out, heading inside. "We still have to talk about your emergency plans, Xander. It's much too much."
"No it's not."
Horatio looked at him. "Yes it is. You're giving yourself new toys." He put the baby into the cart and walked off with him. "Xander."
Horatio looked back at him and smirked. "Promise?"
"Yes, and this time you won't be able to talk me into cleaning the closets," he quipped back.
Horatio smirked. "We'll see." He knew the art of redirecting the talk, he'd come back to this one later.
Xander leaned back in his chair, watching the two kids play. Toddy wasn't able to do more than laugh and clap as Eric played on his sit'n spin, but it looked like fun from where he was sitting.
Ryan cleared his throat. "You were right, Horatio." He quirked an eyebrow up. "Mine and Eric's both came out cloudy."
"Mine more than his," Eric admitted.
"Ethan said that there was some sort of reaction between the jerky and chlorine," Willow offered. "I called him earlier to see what he had done to Xander this time since he felt so different to me." Her husband smiled at her. "He thought it was one of the more rare spices that make up that mix that you add, Xander. The brown stuff?" Xander nodded, knowing what she was talking about. "He said if you eliminated that one it could create less problems."
"I think that's the same mix that gives it the strength," Xander offered. "I'll try it." She nodded. "Tomorrow. What about as a muscle rub?"
"Not a clue," she admitted. "But the way Ethan put it was either the jerky or the pool had to go."
"One's my strength, the other's my sport. Not a very fair choice," he complained.
"Yeah, but what if you get hurt and they run the test at the hospital?" Willow countered.
"I go to the hospital?" he asked, looking at his mate, who nodded. "I do?"
"Yes, you will. You're still a mortal man and I will not have you dying due to stupidity, Xander."
"Yes, sir." He slunk down some, looking over at the kids. "Um, guys, babies moved."
Willow got up and followed the mess they had made, finding them trying to get something out from under the couch. "What is that?" She saw the butt of the gun and knew. "Xander!" she snapped. "This thing had better have a lock, mister!"
"It's too heavy for him to pick up and too hard for him to pull," he assured her as he came in. "Sorry, but we need them spread around the house now and then. People keep dropping in."
She glared at him. "That's not safe and you know it."
"Eric knows he's only allowed to look at the guns. We've already gotten that one into him, Willow."
Horatio came out, taking the gun from under the couch. Xander removed a second one and handed it over. "I wondered where that had come from." He looked at his mate, checking the guns. "No round chambered," he assured her. "They couldn't have gotten hurt."
"Willow, how many times have people broken in here trying to shoot us?" Xander asked quietly. "We have to have them spread around. A lock is nice, but I've had to pull twice from a prone position with someone standing in the house with us." She was still glaring. "You'd rather we were both dead and Timmy? Ray Jr? Anyone else?"
"NO! Not the point though!"
Ryan walked in, hugging his wife. "Seeing both sides of the argument, you're both right. Willow, they *need* those guns there. It's vital that they have them spread around the house somewhat. All guns have safeties and I'm sure theirs are on." Horatio nodded, checking them both. "It's not a great stopper but it's better than nothing and it's not like we let the kids out of our sight anyway." He looked at them. "Maybe a better hiding spot? One the kids can't pull it out of? Something that requires a catch to be undone?"
"I've been thinking about that but I wasn't sure I could attach a holster to the underside of the couch," Xander admitted.
"It's a sad world that you'd have to," Willow said, shooing the kids outside with her. They headed back inside. She picked them up and carried them out, handing Eric to Tim. "He found Daddy Xander's guns under the couch."
"I heard the yelling." He looked at Horatio when he came back. "You two could sell this house, the backup house, and find a new house," he offered.
"I like my neighbors," Horatio said quietly. "We did need the bolthole as well." He sat down, letting Xander have his lap. "If it were safer, I wouldn't let him keep one out there, Willow. As is, it did save my nephew and Speed's life. We'll figure a way to make it safer."
"Thank you. Ryan's idea could work."
"Yeah, but I don't know how we'd do it," Xander complained. "It's not like there's a catalog of paranoid people furniture that come with holsters sewn in."
"You never know," Calleigh said dryly. "There could be."
"That would mean other people attracted trouble like Xander does," Eric said as he stretched. "Even the most paranoid only keep an armory."
"We don't have one of those here," Xander admitted. "Just a few of mine and Horatio's service pieces."
"Having seen your idea of an armory, I'm not surprised," Calleigh assured him. "You guys could move into the bolthole house. It's pretty nice."
"Not my style," Horatio reminded her. "That's for emergencies and family issues."
"Fine." She looked at the babies, then at Willow. "As soon as he's old enough to understand you start telling him he can't touch guns. I'm pretty sure Ryan keeps his locked up." Ryan nodded at that. "With some careful explaining, it'll be okay."
"I'm not so sure of that," she said grimly, looking at her son, then at her mate. "Can you help Xander figure this out?"
"Sure, if he needs my help all he has to do is ask." He kissed her on the cheek. "He good?"
"Sleepy." She let him take the baby and curled up against his side. "Anything else going on tonight?"
"Nope. Not if Speed and Eric have gotten through the essays?"
"I have and I've picked my top ten, though there were only nine I thought were outstanding," Speed offered. "A few tried sucking up."
Eric nodded. "Those nine spoke to me too. We've already compared notes. It's the tenth that'll get us a longer meeting."
Horatio nodded. "That can happen. Make sure I've scheduled us all off that day." They both nodded. He smiled at the sleeping baby in his mate's lap. "He's tired."
"It's been a long day," Xander agreed quietly, getting up to put him into bed. He came back down and found most everyone gone. Except the napping Big Eric, who was leaning back against the porch railing asleep. "We should get him onto the couch." Horatio nodded, getting up to help him. Then they cleared the dishes and went to rest. It had been a long day, all they had the energy for was cuddles.
Xander walked into the station, looking at the door guard, who wasn't the usual guy. "Paul's day off?" he asked as he signed in and ran his pass on the elevator's reader.
"He skipped off to Vegas with his girlfriend," he admitted, looking at the form. "Are you an officer, sir?"
"Husband of one," he offered with a grin. "IAB wants to go over some stuff that got sent to us here." That got a nod. He grinned at the one coming in off his patrol. "Hey, Craig."
"Xander." He smirked. "Lunch?"
"No, we got sent more stuff and no one told my spouse or Dad or anyone up there. So IAB is trying to figure out why and what it could be."
"I remember the cars."
"Since then," Xander admitted, stepping into the elevator when it opened. "Ah, Ryan!" he said, giving him a hug. "From your son, who is babbling at Eric this morning because Willow's pouting." The door shut. "Eric's mom came over and demanded to take the kids so I let her until I could get back home."
"That's fine, I trust his mom," he agreed, stepping off on his floor. "Heading up?"
"IAB," he sighed. "About the missing presents." He waved as the door shut, heading up to the next floor and down the short hallway. He knocked then walked in, seeing the secretary. "Phil told me to come in today?"
"He's in a meeting, sir." She looked him over, then stared him. "Name?"
"Harris." He sat down, smiling slightly. "He knows why I'm here."
"I'll call him." She did that, speaking quietly. A minute later, two patrol guys walked in, hands on their guns. "Him, boys."
Xander waved from his seat. "Someone sent us more presents but they never showed up. Phil called me in." They both stared. "I'm Horatio Caine's spouse." That got a step back. "PHIL!" The office door opened and Xander pointed at the officers. "Something you wanted to tell me?"
"He's fine, boys," Phil said patiently. He glared at his secretary. "That is the husband of Horatio Caine, the one who gets all those presents that keep you in paperwork. Get to know him, he's always cooperated with us."
"Yeah, well, anything's better than Stetler's brand of paranoia," Xander said dryly, standing up. "Ready?" He shook his head. "Okay." He sat back down, looking at the patrol officers, then at the detective, who sighed and nodded them to go. "Thanks. I've had my looming quotient for the day. I tried to sleep in and it was my day to make breakfast."
Phil leaned on the door. "For some reason Caine doesn't seem like the unreasonable sort."
"His last case wrapped at three this morning with a stand-off."
"I got paperwork on that. Forgot to set the coffeemaker?" Xander nodded, grinning slightly. "Still fighting?"
"No, I made him a good breakfast, gave him a kiss and some coffee, then told him to nap on his couch if he had a light day. If not, I'd give him a killer massage tonight and he'd sleep himself out."
"Good." He closed his office door and went back to his talk.
Xander looked at the secretary. "Sometimes he does have to speak to spouses," he offered. "Especially when odd things happen."
"I usually see threatening spouses. That's why I call."
"Ehh, a bit of harmless excitement in their daily lives," he said with a smile. "I'm better than a high speed chase any day." She cracked a smile at that. "Were they new? Most of the guys know me on sight anymore."
"One was, one's probably not a big fan considering you have a husband," she said dryly.
"Yeah, I get those every little once in a while. The last one ended in a bomb being attached to my car." She gave him a horrified look. "Before that it was the guy who tried to kill me." He crossed his feet. "I'm still here and neither of are so that should tell you everything you need to know about your boss. He's very good at what he does and when strange things happen, he's very logical and listens to us."
"It's a good thing. So, if I heard right, you're a stripper?"
"Former. Been about two years," he admitted. "I was tired of the life when I retired to be with Horatio."
"What happens if he leaves you when this infatuation is over with?"
He looked at his ring, then held it up. "We consider ourselves married."
"Even real couples get divorced."
He looked at her, then snorted. "Horatio is the first person who's ever tried to understand me and he's pretty good at understanding me. I doubt he's leaving of his own free will. Should someone take him from me, the world may well end. We're very protective of each other." He stared her down, making her swallow. "As I said, we consider ourselves married." The officers came back and headed into the office so Xander curled up in a small ball. "Horatio's not the sort to leave me. He loves me."
"Still, on the job...." she started.
He snorted. "On the job, he's the top CSI in the city. His team is the same as our family. They'd help me get him back if someone took him. Have in the past actually." She looked stunned. "The only people who don't like it, I could care less about until they do something stupid. You're more than allowed to have your own opinions as long as they don't interfere with my living or my happiness. The first time someone tries something to interrupt my happiness, I react. Strongly."
Phil followed the officers dragging their brethren out. "He does. The last person who tried to shoot Caine got it in the ass." He looked at him. Then he smirked. "Then again, Caine is just as possessive and protective about him."
"He is, it's one of the things I cherish about my baby. He loves me." He stood up. "So, presents?"
"I've found the log entries but not who took them," he admitted, letting Xander into his office. "We know they're in the building. The only thing I'm truly worried about is why someone took them."
"Could it be because they were trying to shield Horatio? Like that one killer guy?"
"It's possible and that does worry me. It worries me more than he saw an easy income enhancing opportunity. Sit, Xander." He sat down. "This is what I found coming in," he offered, handing over the copies of the log sheets. Xander frowned as he looked. "As you can see, it's a good amount again."
"At least it's not a car. Any idea where they're coming from?"
"Yup." He grimaced, leaning back. "I knew about Benis before you did," he admitted. Xander glared at him. "He asked me to keep it quiet, told me he was slowly telling you and he did have good reasons. It wasn't like he was a stalker. This one I'm not sure about. That worries me. It also worries me that not all of those came from this woman."
"Woman," he agreed bitterly. "I know, not your sort."
"I dated some evil bitches before I got with Horatio. He was my first and only guy." He went back to looking. "How many are from the group that gave me the little Mazda?"
"Two. There's another two things from individual officers. When I found them, I went to have a talk with them personally, pointing out you were married and keeping Caine happy meant crime stayed getting caught." Xander gave him a look. "Those pieces are going directly back to them." Xander nodded, he'd accept that. "I didn't think you'd have a problem since it was what you did when you knew who had sent you stuff before." He sat up. "The problem with the female is that I can't identify who she is, but I know where she is. She's at Tentacles most nights." Xander stiffened and stared at him, his eyes hard. "And I know your past life has something to do with those places," he continued. "What?"
"I used to hunt things like that," he said quietly. "I came from a town overrun with them. That's why Timmy sent me to Horatio to mentor."
"Okay. That clears up some of that. The last one said it came with a card. If we could find the stash, then we may have an identity. Until then, that's all I know."
Xander nodded once. "Want me to search the building?"
"I've had maintenance do it," he admitted. "Told them to do a thorough search."
"Did they do the back rooms under the cells?" Phil looked confused. "I've noticed it in the past. There's two small rooms down there. They were probably originally interrogation rooms or something but they're down there. Remember, this building got built on top of the ruins of the last one and that one still had some of the underground rooms leftover when you rebuilt." He grinned. "Horatio told me."
"I wish someone would tell me this stuff." He stood up. "Let's bring this to your mate, see if he knows how you get down there."
"Ask Delko. Maybe he's taken a girl down there."
"It'd be too grungy and nasty for his style."
"Not if someone's using it." He followed him back to the office, looking at Eric, getting a nod and him trotting up the stairs. "How do you get into the subterranean offices?"
"The door in the back of Holding that's marked Broom Closet 3 and then through the fake wall panel. It's nasty down there, but I looked a few times."
Horatio came to his door. "How did you know that?"
"Speed told me once. Something about a dog that stole evidence and hid down there?"
"I remember that." He looked at Phil, who was looking bemused as he shook his head. "Come in, boys." They came in. "Eric, there've been new presents. None of them have been logged in, none of them have been shown to any of us. Someone is hiding them. I'm assigning you that since you've only got the one case at the moment."
"Sure. Did we do a building search?"
"I had maintenance do it," Phil offered.
Eric grinned. "So they opened doors, looked at the lit areas, then left?"
"Apparently. Can you handle this?"
"I'm in the middle of a case but once I'm free, which should be later, I can. I've got to interview my prime suspect."
"Good. Then I'll leave this with you. Xander, I do want to know who and what this person is and why they're doing this."
"Ooh, you'll hear me screaming about it," he promised. That got a pat on the back as Phil left them alone. "He said it was someone at Tentacles, dear. Oh, and his secretary had two patrol guys come in to arrest me for being a spouse. I explained it to her, she thinks this is an infatuation."
"They'll learn," Horatio offered calmly, going back over the list. "Another person like who gave you the hummer?"
Horatio stared at him. "Female?" Xander nodded, smirking a bit. "With your history of bad women...." he started. Eric snickered. "He does. Most of them have wanted to kill him."
"This one probably does too, even if it is only to turn me." He shrugged and got comfortable. "I'll help you search, Eric."
"Thank you, Xander. I'll tell my mom I won't be over tonight." He got up, going to do that and find his suspect with Yelina.
"Any ideas?" Horatio asked.
"Take your pick. Dru? Buffy if she went evil? Faith if she woke up?" He shrugged. "Not a clue, dear."
"We'll know soon. I'll help with the search tonight."
"No, you're going to go home and rest," Xander ordered. "It shouldn't take Eric and I that long. We can lock it in evidence overnight and then go over it tomorrow with you and Phil."
"That's fine. If there's that much, have him stick two officers on the doorway to guard it." That got a nod. "When you find out who was hiding it, I want to know immediately."
"Of course." He stood up and stole a kiss. "Take a nap for lunch. You're worn out and that'll make you dangerous on the streets. I don't want you to have an accident." He walked out, heading back downstairs. He grinned at Craig. "So, has anyone been acting really odd about me recently?" he asked him and the other guy.
"Two people and Wolfe knew one," the other guy offered thoughtfully. "Why?"
"More presents came in and weren't found afterward."
"Shit," that guy said, whistling through his teeth. "Well, sorry, Xander."
"Not your fault, guys. Just wondering. Tell Delko if you hear anything, okay? He's helping me find them later."
"Sure. Good luck with that, kid," Craig agreed, smiling at him. "Have a nice afternoon."
"I am. I'm going to buy a really powerful flashlight." He grinned before walking out, heading for his car. He nodded at Ryan as he walked past him. "More presents."
"What did you get this time?"
"No one's sure yet," he admitted, grinning back at him. "We're trying to figure out where they are. You can help us later. Eric and I are doing the search."
"I'm meeting Willow and Erica for a debate. Sorry."
"Not an issue. I like the thought of you in robes." He winked and walked off, heading off.
Ryan grinned as he walked in, finding the older guard telling the newer one about Xander. "He's a great guy," he assured him. "Even though he is making my son a bit too much like him now and then." They both gave him funny looks. "He's a great babysitter. It's just that he warps his own son and my son, and probably my future daughter, toward his slightly insane lifestyle."
"So your son will be a cross between you and him?" Craig asked.
Ryan grinned and nodded. "Exactly. It's not a bad thought, I don't want my son to draw the sort of trouble Xander does though." He shrugged and got onto the elevator. "Later, guys."
"And that's why Xander is so odd," the old guard offered. "He warps *everyone* around him toward his ways. Wolfe used to be uptight, strong willed, didn't laugh that often, had a lot of problems integrating into the team up on CSI, and he's got OCD from what I heard when the other patrol guys talked about him. Now look at him. He's married to Xander's best friend, is going to have his second child, they're not germphobic, and he's relaxed a lot between is wife and Xander working on him. She's more uptight than he is now." That got a small nod. "Xander's a great guy, we love him, he makes Caine smile and relax. We also like him because if we have another standoff situation, he jumps in to help. He's always been very nice to us guys. Last Christmas he brought in coffee and cookies for the guys on shift. Then he had us sent dinner." Craig smiled at that. "He's a great guy, just jumpy at times, he's known a lot of violence in his life, and, well, people like to think the boy's a slut since he's a show it and not tell it sort. Watch out for the truly slutty clothes. He, Delko, Salas's son, and a few others do some occasional work for this designer chick who does clubbing clothes. They've all come in here looking nearly obscene and even the straight guys drooled over Salas' son Ray."
"Caine's nephew?" That got a nod. "He was cute, but young."
"Last time he walked in wearing her stuff, it was the day of a catalog shoot. He was wearing pants so tight you could see what sort of dick piercing he had in," he offered. "They were leather so thin you could almost tell the color of it. Then he topped it off with a t-shirt that showed he'd been hitting the gym with Harris. Also, Caine's nephew and his boy both get stalkers. So if they say something about a serial killer being on their ass, believe them. Harris nearly became our next profiler before that benefactor of his died and left him his foundation."
"Wow. Did he have one?"
The guy moaned and shook his head. "Poor guy."
"Yeah, but he can handle himself. He's taught Ray how to handle himself, and how to flirt with the ladies. The same as he's teaching his son, who is a breast hound already." The other guy laughed. "Just wait, they'll all be in tomorrow probably."
"I'll take your word for it," he assured him, going back to his post. That was just too strange for words.
Xander handed Eric the bag he had brought with him. "Extra batteries and stuff."
"I know that, the same as I know it only lasts an hour, Eric," he said patiently. "Those are more rechargeable batteries." He pulled his out of his backpack and handed him a bottle of water. "I also brought a first aid kit." That got a smile. "I know how I am. You've got your kit, I've got mine. Where are we starting?"
"Roof. There's two small storerooms up there that no one checked." Xander nodded and followed him onto the elevator. "Wolfe said he'd come with us but he had a candidate thing to do tonight."
"You think he can make it?"
"I do. I think he'll make a good judge and it'll suit his ambitious nature." Eric gave him a sideways look. "He'll still be part-time for the lab. Horatio's already assured him of that."
"Good. He's got skills, even if his initial personality wasn't that great."
"That was probably grief, Eric," Xander said dryly, staring him down. Eric looked away. "But you're right, Willow has made him happier and more carefree."
"She has," he agreed, getting off when the doors opened. "We'll have to take the stairs."
"That's fine. Stairs don't scare me at the moment." He followed him up there. "I asked Horatio if we could all go to the convention this year. He said he'd check. Any word yet?"
"No, not that I've heard," he admitted. "If we do, you are not to get near a stage."
"I wouldn't anyway. Horatio would get upset." He smirked at him. "I keep my baby happy because he loves me, even in a naughty mood." He opened the roof door and headed up the stairs, letting Eric prop the top door open since it automatically shut. He even let Eric lead the way into the dim storage rooms. He found something and called over. "Hey, Eric, someone's using this as a crack pad."
"Damn." He came over to look at the evidence, sighing and calling the night shift. "It's Delko. We're searching the building for something and came across drug paraphernalia." He looked around. "Roof. Smaller storeroom. I'm with Xander. Thanks." He hung up. Then he took a few pictures, just in case something disappeared since they didn't know the cause. He knew someone on night shift was using drugs, just not who. Someone walked in and he looked, nodding them over. "Hey, Crissy. This is Xander, Horatio's husband."
Xander shook her hand with a smile. "I'm lending my blinding muscle mass to his." She snickered at that. "Found this for you," he said, pointing his light at it again.
"Pretty, with dugs even. Thanks, guys, really."
"Hey, it happens to the best of us," Eric reminded her. "We've got to do a top-to-bottom to find this stuff we're looking for. Expect a few more calls from out-of-the-way locations." He walked Xander off, but Xander came back and poked on an area, getting an open grate. "That's the airshaft."
"It can't be, not in a locked room." He looked back at him. "Should we check it out?"
"If we don't find anything, we'll come back to it. After I find some coveralls." Xander nodded, leaving it there.
Crissy watched them head off, then shook her head quickly and looked in the airshaft. Nothing that she could see. "I wonder what evidence they lost this time and if it was another dog?" she mused, getting to work taking pictures and gathering evidence.
Eric led Xander down into the basement levels an hour later, letting him look around. "This was the original building. We were never sure why they didn't rip up all of it."
"Probably too expensive to dig it out and then restart," Xander offered, following him. He found a door and opened it, then blanched. "Tell me the lab used to be down here?" he demanded. Eric came over to look at the skeleton. Xander looked at him. "Please?"
"Wish I could." He pulled out his phone, noticing he didn't have a signal. "Stupid steel construction." Xander pulled out his hand handed it over. "Thanks. Satellite?"
"And then some. Willow'd."
"I'll have to have her do mine." He called the ME's office. "Why are you still here, Alexx?" He grinned at Xander. "She thought you were going to get into very bad trouble down here with just me around. She stayed in case you got so hurt she had to force you into the ambulance this time."
He snorted. "Not like I can't survive shit. Alexx, we found you a pretty skeleton in a closet," he called. "Right inside the old part."
Eric listened. "Yeah, that's how we got down here. Sure, I'll leave him here until you get down here." He hung up and put the phone in his pocket. "I'll hand it back after we're done," he promised with a grin. "Stay, talk to Bony there." He walked off, there were still other rooms, including some of the old suicide cells.
Xander looked at the skeleton, leaning closer. "You guys try to take over my body, my husband will be *pissed*," he whispered. "So let's not, okay? I only want what someone sent me and someone else stole. Then we're gone to leave you to your rest." The skeleton didn't move, which was a nice switch in his life. He looked it over, noticing the fangs, and sighed. "Please tell me you were a goth kid." He heard a noise and jumped, spinning around, finding Alexx standing there with an amused looking patrol guy. "Pronounced canine teeth." He got out of their way, heading after Eric. "We're finding buried treasure."
"Uh-huh," she called after him. "I wanna see it when you find it, Xander."
"Yes, Alexx." He checked the rooms he was walking past, finding Eric bending over something. "That it?"
"No, someone's diary. They've been sneaking down here for dinner breaks." He stood up, putting it back down. "I won't tell anyone about that. It's not that important, even though we're not supposed to be down here." He walked on with Xander beside him, taking the right side of the hall. They quickly cleared the first level and headed down the stairs together, the flashlights seeming to not cut the gloom as much. "Man, I couldn't work in this room."
"That's probably why they closed it. That and there's too many claustrophobics in the department." Xander found a locked door and whispered an unlocking cantrip, getting it open so he could look inside. "Alexx, got another one!" he yelled. "Two this time!" The officer came trotting down the stairs and looked. Xander handed over his spare flashlight. "Newly charged." He walked off, finding Eric looking at some older cells. "Suicide cells?" Eric nodded. They could see inside them, it wasn't in there. They ended that floor and Xander looked around, pointing off to the right. "That way." Eric gave him an odd look. "The rooms on that side are more shallow than the ones upstairs. You don't build buildings like an inverted pyramid. Besides, I found the old plans online." He headed for where he had seen a hallway, finding a solid concrete wall. He searched, finding the doorway behind it, then smirked and handed Eric his flashlight. "This won't hurt anything but back off ten feet."
"Tell me you're not going to blow the wall!" he demanded. "You could bring down the station!"
"No I can't." He set everything up, then lit the love tap, collapsing the seams of that panel. It fell and cracked, allowing him to step over it. "It was already weakened, Eric. It's not load bearing." He took his flashlight back and headed back through the hallway, finding it even dustier and more deserted. He found the other doorway and pointed. "No dust."
Eric grimaced but nodded, taking pictures of that. They found one last cell down there and that's where they found it. "Caging it mean anything?"
"Control probably," Xander said quietly. They looked at the things arranged around the room. "Hey, someone sent me *boy* jewelry this time," he said happily. Eric gave him an odd look. "I got things like broaches before. How many cloaks am I going to wear down here?"
"Point," he admitted, if only so he didn't have to think about Xander doing drag ever again. He walked inside, taking point in case there were any traps. Nothing, just a shrine to Xander's skills as a hunter. "When was that taken?" he asked, pointing at blown up picture of him staking a something-he-didn't-want-to-think-about.
Xander looked at his clothes. "Junior year." He looked around, then sighed. "They left before graduation. They had to have." He pointed at another one. "They died during graduation. They were turned my junior year so they were probably in Oz's original year." He pulled on a pair of gloves and looked around, finding a letter started to Horatio. "This one doesn't like the fact that he made me quit hunting. He thinks Horatio's making me give up my destiny." He moved on, finding the one note in there that wasn't from the thief. He growled and looked at Eric. "I'll see you later."
"Ah!" he ordered, taking the note. "That's evidence. You know better." He looked it over, then at him. "Who?"
"Stupid bitch vampire. I dated her best friend," he muttered, shaking his head. "Truly one of the dumber ones." He looked around again, then sighed. "There's no way Harmony could've done this on her own. Phone?" It was tossed over as Eric got to work taking pictures. He found his phonebook and hit the one marked 'Bitch Queen'. He hit send. "Cordelia, Xander. Why did Harmony suddenly fixate me and start sending me rubies?" He listened to her splutter. "Yes, the brainless blonde one, Harmony. Your cheerleading pal?" He leaned against the wall, flicking on the lights. "Interesting. I thought we didn't have power down here, Eric."
"We don't so they must've rigged it. Works for me. More stuff we can check for fingerprints. Stay there and don't touch anything else." He went back to taking pictures, changing out memory cards when his got too full.
Xander listened to his former girlfriend complain. "Cordy, shut up," he said eventually. She shrieked at him. "I mean it. Now." She fell silent, growling basically. "Thank you. We know it's from Harmony, she sent a note! No, I'm still in Miami with Willow. She's got her husband and is pregnant with baby number two, a daughter we're pretty sure, and I'm married to Horatio. Yes, I know that's a guy's name, Cordelia. He's the only one who ever tried to understand me. No, you were more about raping my mouth for your benefit and pleasure, woman. Horatio *understands* me. He also made me quit hunting alone." He smirked at Eric's odd look. "He said I can't go alone, he'll sit in the background and watch me hunt if something like that comes up."
"So I take it you never told him about the demon out of the sea?"
"Nope. I wasn't alone, that fits his criteria."
Eric smirked. "That means I've got blackmail."
"And I still know who you were sleeping with last month," Xander reminded him. Eric paled. "We even?" That got a nod and Eric got back to work. He listened to Cordelia complain. "No, someone took the stuff Harmony sent to the station so we had to find it to see who sent it. Since she sent a note....we're pretty sure it was her. Now, is she still in Miami? I know you've kept in touch, Cordy," he sighed, holding his head, banging it against the wall. "Cordelia. Put Angel on." He closed his eyes. "Deadboy, Harris. Can you smack the shit out of my ex? Her bestest friend is turned and is sending me rubies and shit." He listened. "Really?" He groaned and squatted down, back against the wall. Eric gave him another look but he waved him off with his free hand. "You couldn't warn me, Deadboy?" He moaned. "I live in a very nice house with my husband. He knows about you guys. Tim told him. Aiden told him. Willow told everyone when she came down here and married one of his people." He listened to the weak argument. "Phones don't work for vampires? Or email?" He nodded. That's what he thought. He hadn't wanted to tell him.
"Thank you. I want the full information file, Deadboy, or else I'm going to have to come back to LA to get it in person," he growled. He grimaced. "No, my husband would stake you on sight. Oooh, gee, I wonder why. Couldn't have anything to do with the scar on my arm maybe?" he asked sarcastically. "Thanks, Deadboy. Yeah, that's Willow's email. You can have her type it at her and she'll send it to me. If not, I'll have her husband send it to me. I sent her a postcard with my email address on it. Did she not get it?" he asked impatiently. "Yeah, that's still me, Deadboy. Thanks." He hung up and held his head, calling Willow. She was hushed. "Incoming email from Cordy about Harmony, Dru, and the other cheerleader bitches who're my new fanclub. Forward when you get it please. Watch out for an incoming Cordy bitch." He hung up and looked at Eric. "We moving it?"
"Nope. Too much stuff here. We'll need more help."
Xander hit the button for home, getting his father. "Found it, dad. Last suicide cell off that side hallway. We're here, there's tons of shit, literally possibly. I know you can't lift that much, but you can bring boxes and handtrucks." Eric shook his head. "Dad, the vampire bitches called Harmony, Dru, and the other cheerleaders sent it." He smirked at the outraged yelling. "So come help." He hung up and tossed it back. "There, we'll get help. He might even get Aiden onto them." He smiled sweetly. "He *hated* Cordelia. Loathed her like she was some slime fucking demon who fed on unborn babies."
"Remember meeting Buffy that one time she was down here?" He nodded slowly. "Multiply that by rich girl with a 'tude and being my ex, and remember, I only dated evil women who wanted to hurt me."
Eric shuddered. "Warn me when she comes down so I can evacuate my family and take the kids to my mother."
"She might've gotten better working with Angel, but I kinda doubt it in many ways," he sighed.
"I don't care if she's a saint now, warn me," Eric ordered. Someone was walking their way, they could hear it. "Back here!" Frank and Phil walked in, looking at the room, then Frank moaned.
"Hey, Phil, it's my ex's best girlfriend, the vampire who wants me to be her kitten, and their minions. How do you want to report that?" Xander asked him.
Phil looked at him, then shook his head and walked off. "Catalog that. Send it back if you can."
"They're going to be piles of dust by then," Xander offered. He looked at Frank. "My ex, the fashionable cheerleader sort, is probably going to be storming down here to get me back to her version of reality. Do watch out."
He gave him an odd look. "Worse than the blonde girl that time?"
"Same issue, different reason. This one met me my first day of school. We used to be friends, then she got popular because daddy had money, then she turned into a cheerleader, then we kissed a lot in the closets. We had a kissing relationship but not much farther. I liked her, but not enough to not be wary now."
"Okay. That day, we'll try to hide you somewhere. If she starts on the 'worthless human' stuff the blonde did, we'll sic Yelina on her." He shrugged and came in to look around. "Any idea who was stashing it?"
"Someone who went to Sunnydale until I was a junior," Xander offered, standing up. "They missed graduation. Two of the pictures are people who were dead shortly into my senior year." Frank gave him an odd look. "Search for others who came from Sunnydale, Frank."
"Okay." He looked around again. "The people have good taste in men's jewelry."
"Doesn't not make them annoying vampires, Frank. One of us which is seriously insane. Like the stars and she have mental tea parties that tell her things about the future." Frank shuddered. "Exactly." He looked around at the stuff. "Is that car keys?"
Eric nodded. "They are. Not to yours. It's to a Ford, probably a Taurus."
"Could they be his, or hers?"
"Could be," Eric admitted, bagging them. He opened his kit and got to work bagging things for examination. They all flinched when someone slammed the door up the hall. "In here," he called.
Speed walked in and dropped unassembled boxes, looking around, then at his son. Xander got the note and held it up, making him glare at him. "Not my fault, dad."
"Why would Harmony come for you? She hated you. Used to pick on you about being white trash."
"Because Dru's behind her," Xander said simply. He pointed at something. "Lots and lots of kitten stuff."
"Including a very heavy jeweled collar," Eric offered, holding it up. "It'd be too tight on you."
"Not like Dru would care," Speed grumbled, coming over to look. He pulled out some gloves and put them on, coming over to help. "Frank, Xander, do the boxes. Now."
"Yes, sir," Frank said smartly, smirking at him. "So, this girl...."
"Harmony, Dru, or the rest of them?" Speed said grimly, looking over at him. "How many turned?"
"Not a clue yet," Xander admitted. "Cordy's sending Willow information on threat of me coming out there to stake her boss."
"Sure," he agreed dryly, getting back to work. "She coming down?"
"She threatened to, and to bring Angel. I did warn him that Horatio would be staking him on sight."
"Good," he said, smirking just a bit. "The vampire with the 'tude and denial could use a good stake up the ass."
"Ewww!" Calleigh yelled. Then a stomping noise. "Got you!"
"Oh, yeah, we were out for a ride on the bike," Speed noted dryly. "In here, Calleigh!"
She stomped in. "This is nasty."
"Tell me about it, but it's not the sewers," a voice said from behind her. Danny peeked in. "Don got a call about your fanclub and I got to come this time." He grinned. "What's going on?"
Xander pulled out his wallet, waving him closer. "This is Cordelia Chase. You see her, you run. Fast. Very fast." Danny nodded and Frank looked, making note of the face as well. "She's my ex from my senior year."
"She was also a self-esteem and soul sucking bitch," Speed told them. "Makes Buffy look like a tea party hostess."
"Do we get to hurt her?" Calleigh asked.
Speed looked at her. "I tried, it slid off her. She's more snarky than I am. Not even Don could win an argument with her." She shuddered at that. "Yeah, so run. It'll be kinder."
"We'll hide Xander somewhere," Frank assured him. "So, Danny, look at what his fanclub gave him this time, and then someone hid."
"Cool. Guy's jewelry, so at least they're nicer."
"Yeah, but it's Dru, Harmony, and a few of Cordy's former cheerleading squad. The insane one and the brainless joined together."
"Works for them probably," Danny decided, coming in to help. "This is a lot of stuff."
"They were rich girls and Dru's been saving for nearly two hundred years now," Xander offered. "She probably took some of Spike's cash too. If not Angel's." Speed gave him a funny look. "He was her daddy, I'm sure she took an allowance."
"Probably true." He got back to work, letting Danny get in there beside him while Calleigh started taking notes on what they were pulling out. "Some of it's nice, kiddo."
"Gee, dad, if I keep it, they'll like that," he whined. "I'm thinking about upping the foundation with it. You got an issue with that idea?"
"Not unless Horatio does." He held up a ruby choker, making Xander moan. "That is pretty."
"It is, but it's still not me!"
"Go calm down," Calleigh ordered. "We've got it, Xander. Get the IAB guy down here."
"He came with me but left at the first mention of vampires," Frank offered, grinning at her.
"He knew. He knew they were down at Tentacles and what that meant," Xander assured him. "It was mostly a question of what to do with them. To dust or not to dust." He frowned at something. "I've seen that one. Cheline had it on a picture on her wall."
"Which means it could be stolen," Danny offered. That got marked on the bag and they went back to photographing, bagging, and noting things while Xander and Frank got the boxes.
Xander walked in the door, closing it and locking it. "You wouldn't believe it if I told you, Horatio."
"Why?" he moaned.
"Dru, Harmony, and a few of Cordy's former friends are doing it." He came over, noticing he was laying on his stomach. "You okay?"
"No," he admitted, shifting some. "My back's sore and I'm too tired for a shower."
Xander nodded, heading into the kitchen to get his special jerky marinade. He came out after warming some up, putting it and a towel on the couch. "Strip." Horatio gave him an amused look. "It'll help your back and I doubt you want to explain the brown stains to the dry cleaner." He nodded, wiggling as little as possible until he was naked, but also letting Xander put a towel under his stomach. "There." He poured out a small amount of the marinade and got to work. Horatio moaned, then sniffed, chuckling softly. "It works wonders. Trust me," he offered quietly. "We alone?"
"Good." He worked his way up and down the back, releasing all the tension, then he moved down to the tense legs, working on them. "Have to chase someone?" Horatio nodded. "I'm sorry they were so mean to you."
"It's not your fault." He turned his head to watch Xander work. "You do that very well."
"Thank you." He grinned and moved up, getting back into the backrub. He poured some more of the sauce out, earning another moan as he dug deeper into the muscles. The first layer had soaked in and was warming under his hands, releasing any remaining knots. "You'll stink later but it'll be fine," he soothed as he worked. Horatio went limp, making him smile. He sat back, surveying his work. Horatio's back and legs were a holy mess but he was limp and sated looking. Well, except for one part of him. He teasingly ran a finger up it, making Horatio's butt cheeks tense up. "Need that tension relieved too, baby?"
"Please," he moaned. He shifted his thighs outward, letting him have as much access as he wanted. Xander came down to lick his back clean, earning another, deeper moan. "You shouldn't have that."
"I won't have a blood test for six months, Horatio."
"Good point." He let his mate do whatever he wanted to soothe him. He was very good at working his body even as he worshiped it. Xander finished his back, then moved down to lick his legs clean, making him shift some. That tickled. Xander grinned and went up the other side. He knew it was going to be a good night. Xander moved up, burying his face between his thighs to get to his cock and balls. It was a pretty sight. He shifted his legs further out, letting one hang off the couch to give him enough room. Xander licked up his perineum, making him tense up again. It felt so good and he knew what Xander was going to do. He felt the finger with the sauce come up and tease him. "Lube too?"
"It'll be sticky later. You'll need a bath," Xander told him quietly, slicking his insides. The smell was attracting him and he had wondered something. When Horatio had him tied down, he had feasted on his ass. He had no idea why. It shouldn't taste good, but the marinade could cover anything.... He leaned down to take a careful sniff. He couldn't smell anything but the marinade. So he took a careful lick, making Horatio rock up to his knees with a begging noise that made him hard. He let himself learn this new thing, licking him clean, taking all the sauce with his tongue. Horatio was clutching the couch, but it was good. Even when he got to his natural taste, it wasn't so bad. He added more and went back to it when the natural taste got stronger than the marinade.
"Xander," Horatio moaned. "Please, baby!"
"Let me," he ordered, going back in to clean up a drip that had slid out. He got him fully cleaned out, then looked at his mate. "This way?" He licked his fingers clean then wet, sliding two into him. Horatio growled, tensing around him. "Do you want this, Horatio?"
"Xander," he warned. "Now!"
"As you wish," he promised, sliding some sauce out to cover himself with. He slid in smoothly, making Horatio tense up. He slowed down, moving gently, just sliding in and out for now.
Horatio was waiting. He wanted it harder, needed to be claimed. "Xander, more," he pleaded.
"I want to be gentle with you."
"Fuck gentle, I want it harder." Xander sped up but it wasn't going to be enough. He pulled off and flipped around, pulling Xander into his lap, taking the sauce for his own pleasure now. He laid his mate down on the towel, cleaning his cock off. "Sometimes I don't need it gentle," he assured him, diving in to lick his ass, feasting on it like Xander had done for him. He knew why he had to use the sauce but that didn't bother him. Even if it did warm his insides enough that he was tingling back there. Xander was writhing and wiggling, clutching the couch and speaking in Latin and Spanish. "Mine," he growled.
"Yours!" he shouted, and Horatio dove in. "Horatio!"
"This is what I need," he ordered. "I need it harder, rougher, at times. Think you can do this?" Xander shook his head. "No?"
"I want to worship you, Horatio." He wiggled off his mate, patting his lap. "I'll let you do whatever you want to me."
"That's a dangerous offer," he said, smirking at him even as he climbed on top.
"I'm a dangerous guy." He held onto the hips coming down, steadying him. Horatio got to work, slamming himself down over and over again. Xander flipped them over, making them crash onto the floor but neither of them cared at the moment. He got to work pounding his mate, making him beg and creel for more. "Is this what you wanted?" he panted, working harder and faster. Horatio nodded, holding onto his arms. "That means you're going to do the same to me, right?" Horatio nodded more firmly. "You'd better." He came and winced, then pulled out, turning around. "Your turn."
Horatio snarled, he had been so close. He slid into the loose hole, slamming into his mate's body over and over, claiming him, marking him. He was leaving bruises on Xander's hips but he didn't care. He didn't care that he was battering into his mate's body so hard he was bruising the delicate flesh between his cheeks. All he cared about was that it was hard, fast, good, and satisfying for both of them. His mate was making little whimpering/crying noises and it pleased him so he came, leaning down across his back. He heard another one and reached around, teasing his mate's body. "Sometimes, harder is necessary," he whispered, making Xander go off. "Good boy." He rolled off to the side, letting Xander curl up against his chest. "Did I hurt you?"
"Sore," Xander croaked. "Good sore." He slowly and carefully turned over, resting his head against Horatio's chest. "Possessive much?"
"Very." He stroked down the soft skin. "I didn't expect you to feast on me, it drove me over the edge."
"I don't think I could do it without the additives," he admitted, looking up at his mate. "I feel like I'm failing you, Horatio."
"You're not, Xander. We each have our kinks. That's one of mine, not yours. Yours is going bottom slut and teasing me." He stroked over him again, watching where the winces came. "I'm sorry."
"I'm not. Even if I can't walk for a week." He stole a kiss and snuggled in. "We need a bath or else you'll stink for longer."
"I dare anyone to say that I smell," he teased, making Xander grin and blush. "That was so hot," he whispered, tipping his face up to kiss him. "Thank you. Next time I need it harder and faster, I'll know to rile you up first." Xander blushed and ducked his head down, kissing him over his heart. "Enough worship. That's our next day off. Tonight, we need to rest." He yawned.
"You still need a bath, Horatio. Just in case." That got a sleepy nod. "Come on, I'll bathe with you." He got up slowly, having to brace on the coffeetable, then pulled his mate up and into the bathroom, running the bath for both of them. Horatio climbed in and hissed, pulling his butt out of the water. "Is it burning?"
"No, post sex soreness." He slid down then Xander climbed into his lap, cuddling against him. "This is nice."
"It is." Xander flipped onto his side, curling up on his chest, making Horatio smile. "This is my second kink, cuddling."
"Cuddling should be innate, not a kink," Horatio offered. He kissed him on the forehead, relaxing his body to let the marinade flow off and out of him. He felt the yawn. "Who sent it?"
"Dru, Harmony, some other cheerleaders Cordy worked with."
"Anyone coming down?"
"Cordy possibly." Someone pounded on the door, earning a moan. "Do we have to answer that?"
"No." The door was slammed. "See." He grinned at his husband, getting a small one. "We're in the bath, go away!" he yelled.
"No can do," Ryan called. "I got the information file that Willow wanted to delete." He came to the doorway and held out the folder, letting Horatio take it but studiously not looking at him. "She's still growling and swearing about Cordy. One of the people with us asked what was wrong, so she told him it was an ex of her best friend who was threatening to come down and ruin his marriage. They support her in her growling." He grinned at them. "You two okay?"
"Just fine, Ryan. Thank you for this," Horatio said calmly. "Anything else?"
"Yeah, is that stuff safe on pregnant women?" Xander shook his head. "Pity."
"Second drawer of my bedside table," Xander said hoarsely. "Mine's the messy one. Blue bottle." Ryan beamed and got that bottle, heading out. Xander looked up at him. "I can't use the stimulant lube I bought for our anniversary." He looked at the file, frowning at a few things. "Why are they doing this to me?"
"Maybe they think you're a perfect sacrifice to bring someone back," he offered, putting it carefully aside. Then he got to work soothing his mate back into a sleepy, content state. Even if he was slipping two fingers into his ass to play and tease him. Xander tensed and moaned. "Let me, Xander. Now's the time for gentleness."
"Next time you want it that hard, take me first and leave me hanging. That should work." Horatio chuckled and continued to stroke in and out, making Xander tense, shiver, and eventually come. "Thank you." He yawned and shifted, getting comfortable. Horatio soothed him with gentle strokes up and down his back and arm, letting him drift off there. "Nighty-night."
"Good night, love," Horatio said softly, kissing him on the head. He reached over, flipping on the heater switch. That way neither of them would be woken up by cold water in a few hours. He fell asleep there, letting the marinade soak out of his body, hopefully, and relaxing again. His boy was something else and very cuddly.
Xander very gingerly walked into the station the next morning with Horatio right behind him. He nodded at the guards. "Morning," he croaked.
"Feeling sick, Xander?" Craig asked.
"Nope." He grinned. "Dusty last night in the basement." He signed in then headed for the elevator his mate was holding for him. "Thank you." He leaned against his side all the way up, then forced himself to stand up and walk off, still nearly walking on the balls of his feet and wincing at most every step.
Eric and Speed watched him walk past. Then Speed glared at Horatio, pointing. "It was consensual and got out of hand," Horatio said quietly. "He's just sore."
"Just sore!" Speed demanded. "Didn't I tell you not to hurt him!"
"Dad, down!" Xander yelled, turning to glare at him. "It got a bit heated and we were using the marinade. If you must know, I might have a first degree friction burn. Anything else?" That got a pale, head shake from Speed and a snicker from Eric. "Anyone else wanna remark on what I do in my marriage?" No one said anything. "Good!" He continued off, heading up to the couch. He saw Yelina's surprised look. "Got overly heated on the couch," he admitted. "I'm buying a new one tonight."
"That's fine, Xander. Are you all right?"
He looked at her, moaning a bit. "Friction burns, deep throating this morning in my sleep, and in the tub all night. I feel like Horatio fisted me with how we went at it. Never, ever use my jerky marinade as a lube and then try to clean up the extra." She blushed so he grinned and went to flop down on the couch. Horatio had ordered him to come in so he could watch over him.
Horatio walked past his sister-in-law. "It was good," he admitted quietly. "How was your night?"
"Not nearly as interesting as yours. Did you do anything really kinky I shouldn't tell Alexx about?"
"No. Just the marinade."
She moved closer. "He said it felt like you had fisted him."
"I got overly energetic," he said with a faint blush and a grin. "It was normal, hard sex." She blushed and walked off shaking her head. "But that is an idea," he muttered, walking in to look at his mate. His jacket went over the napping body, and he sat behind the desk to check on the information he had been emailed by Willow. Willow knew he'd want more details so he had a long email, nearly 4MB, in his inbox. He right clicked and selected 'open in new window' then got back to the more official email. Including the one from IAB requesting a meeting about the list of things they had found.
He called him. "Phil, Horatio Caine. Is something wrong with the list?" He groaned. "How much of it was missing?" He nodded, sighing a bit. "I have no idea. Do you know who it was?" He wrote down that information. "I suggest we ask them once we find them. No, I've got information on who sent it. Of course, I'll get that from Cheline. She's the auctioneer who helped Xander with the first batch and then the Foundation's auction. Thank you." He hung up and emailed her, telling her most of what was going on. Then he called Speed. "Phil said half the things on the list weren't down there," he quietly stated. "We missed an area. Have Eric scan the rooms again, with you this time. There may have been another level or another hiding spot. Thank you." He hung up and got back to the more mundane crimes in Miami. Xander shifted and moaned. "It's all right." He settled down and got comfortable, clutching his jacket. Horatio smiled, enjoying the sight.
Alexx walked in, looking at Xander with an 'awww'. She looked at Horatio. "He okay? Calleigh said he was walking funny."
"The sex was good, but got a bit rough," he admitted quietly. "Unintentionally. He drove me insane."
"I've been there, Horatio." She smirked at him. "That's why I have *two* kids." He smiled at that. "He okay?"
"Sore. A few bruises on his hips and arms." He shrugged. "The same as I am."
"Uh-huh. Any tears?" He shook his head. "You're sure?"
"Quite, but he thinks he may have a slight case of friction burn."
"Baby, you know that's why they make lube, right?" she prompted. He blushed and nodded. "You didn't use any?"
"He pulled out his jerky marinade to give me a backrub. It's a wonderful muscle relaxant." He shrugged. "It went from there, Alexx."
"Uh-huh." She nodded, handing him the bottle in her hand. "One later when he wakes up, make him eat something soft." She walked off, going to tell Speed he would be fine. She found him in the Trace lab, scowling at the list of stuff that had been found. "He's fine. A few finger bruises and some overly excited sex." She patted him on the cheek when he scowled at her. "He's fine. Horatio said it got out of hand with his jerky marinade."
"That stuff is evil," he complained.
"Horatio said it's a good muscle relaxant."
"It is, but it's still evil." He looked toward Horatio's office, then back at her. "Been there, done that. It does drive you to do stupid shit in bed," he admitted. She gave him a knowing look. "Way back in Sunnydale. One of those times when too many had crossed over and it was time to feel human again. Aiden suggested it," he admitted quietly, glancing around for Calleigh or Eric. She'd tease him and he'd be shocked. "Neither of us walked right for days."
"As I told Horatio, that's why I had baby number two, sugar. It'll be okay. He'll be fine. You said yourself he defended their sex last night." He nodded. "Then he's fine and enjoyed it. He won't sit for the next week but he apparently enjoyed it." She patted him on the cheek and smiled, leaving him there.
He went back to scowling at the list. The IAB guy had been right. It didn't compare with the sign-in list of what had been delivered.
Eric walked in, giving him a hesitant look. "Should I hide?"
"I'm fine. Any idea where the rest of this is?"
"Not really. We checked everywhere but the airshaft in the storage room on the roof."
"Airshaft inside a locked room?" He looked at Eric. "Huh?"
"Yeah, that one storage room we found drugs in last night has an airshaft in it."
"Can't be. They wouldn't put one of those inside a room. It's supposed to be open so air can get out."
"Get us some climbing gear and we'll go look," he offered. Speed nodded, picking up the lists and heading to get them some gear. Eric looked around then shook his head. "I'm never having kids. They make you insane. Ryan's humming about baby diapers and Speed's worried because his son likes it rough now and then."
Eric found the secondary outlet door for the airshaft and called up. "Found a maintenance door." He braced himself and opened it, staring into the small tunnel. "I'm unclipping and heading in. I'll let you know where I end up." He slid into the small tunnel, heading down it. It was barely big enough to crawl through. He saw a few doors off it and opened them, finding a few things. He found an exit and opened it, then propped it open with his foot while he called. "Get down to the second floor, small maintenance tunnel between Holding and the Pens." He looked at the patrol guy coming over to see what was going on. "We're still missing some of the stuff. Expect Speedle." That got a nod. "Also, did you know we had drug stuff stored in here?"
"No, I hadn't," he admitted. "Need your boss?"
"No, but I could use a scene kit. I've got my camera but not enough bags or fingerprint sheets." That got a nod and he went to call their unit to get someone. Calleigh came down with Speed, carrying her kit. He smiled. "Drugs and more drugs. I'm going to continue following it down." Speed nodded, climbing in after him and heading with him. "Calleigh, check the cupboards behind me to the tunnel. Each and every one had stuff stored by what type."
"Thanks. Really." She climbed in, looking back at the helpful patrol officer. "Make sure this doesn't shut, please?" He nodded, propping it open with his body. She crawled off, going to take evidence.
Eric looked back at Speed, nodding at the cupboards ahead. "You get the right?"
"Sure." He checked, and groaned. "Calleigh, we got more down here!" he called. They moved on, ending up in a maintenance room. Well, closet, but it had another doorway out of it. "What is this? Do people live in our walls?" Speed complained.
"It's probably to fix anything behind the walls," Eric offered, heading back through it, into the walls. He looked up, then around, then groaned. "Okay, which way?"
"Follow the dusty footprints," he complained, shining his flashlight on them. Eric nodded, following them back and around, back toward the lab. They ended up in the small closet underneath Horatio's office, and found the exit and where they were heading, into another closet. There they found the path to the treasure room. Speed stared from the doorway, moaning a bit. "Oh, fuck me," he said in awe. Naked pictures of Xander. Not him dancing, not anything to do with him stripping, but younger, hunting Xander. Some with him and a stake. Some with him and he's in bed, clearly asleep. He backed out to the doorway. "Boss! Found it!" he bellowed.
"Alert everyone why don't you," Eric complained.
"We got a hit off fingerprints earlier," Speed reminded him. "I checked, he's not here today."
"Yay. I doubt he can stay away from his obsession." He walked forward, finding an altar. "Um, Speed, I think we need Willow."
He looked then shook his head. "Pleas." He unrolled a small piece of bunched up paper, reading it. "For Xander to go back to his old self instead of his present one." He looked around again, then back at Horatio when he coughed. "Welcome to the other burrow of your obsessed one. By the way, he's got crawl spaces jury-rigged through the walls. We came out one and into here."
"I noticed." He came in further, looking around. The altar got a long look, then Speed handed over the plea. He moaned and moved closer, finding dolls of him dying and pictures showing the same thing. "Won't happen." He called Phil. "It's Horatio. We found the other stash."
"Most of this isn't on the list," Eric offered. He looked back, holding up a black lace teddy. "I doubt this is."
"No, but that would fit Buffy, Cordy, or Willow," Speed noted. He went to look around, finding another shrine. "Here. One to Willow and Buffy." They came over to look, then shook their heads and walked off. No one wanted to see a naked Buffy, not even the heterosexual, unattached guy. She wasn't his sort. They got to work cataloging everything.
"H, do we think he sold some of the stuff to set this up?" Eric asked.
"Quite possibly, Eric." He shook his head at another piece of lingerie he uncovered. "He was still making offerings."
"No, that's packed," Speed noted. "I think he was moving onto kidnaping soon." He looked around, then back at him. "Any clue if the guy we got the fingerprint hit off of was from Sunnydale?"
"He spent his last two years and a few months after graduation there. He left near the end of Xander's junior year," he admitted quietly. "I checked his application for the Academy." Both his boys nodded at that. "I sent Ryan to pick him up when you yelled."
"Hopefully he won't kill him for trying to make Willow go back to hunting," Eric offered grimly. He and Speed shared a look. Ryan could probably be very scary if someone touched what was his. The OCD would only make it worse in its own way.
Frank walked in with Yelina, grimacing already. "This is sad."
"It is," Yelina agreed. "Especially that my brother-in-law dates better looking men than me." Frank smirked at her so she smiled back. "He does. I could never get a man like Xander."
Horatio looked back at her. "As long as you don't try to steal mine."
"No, he only dated evil women," she reminded him. "I'd hate to turn so bad." She came in to look at things. "Interesting. Why is there a shrine to Willow and what's-her-name?"
"He wanted them back as a hunting trio," Speed said grimly. "He was going to take Willow we think."
"Interesting. I'm sure she'll kill him if he tries. Ryan would be able to vacuum him up."
Speed looked at her. "She'd summon something to eat him. We might find a few hairs or something it burped up, but nothing else." He got back to work, finding the cache of jewels. "Here we go. He was prying them apart, Horatio."
"Wonderful. Match whatever you can, boys." He stomped off, going to find the IAB person. The man was in maintenance, apparently he didn't rate IAB getting involved. Phil was in his office, staring at Xander. "He's mine."
"I know he is. I was wondering why he was on your couch taking a nap at work." He looked at him. "That's a bit against protocol."
"I didn't want to leave him alone at home with this in the air. We also think the man was going after Ryan Wolfe's wife."
"Let's hope he doesn't do anything rash then, Horatio." He walked out, going to find what the others were doing. He found Calleigh bagging up drugs and grimaced. "Inmates?"
"Probably not," she admitted. "They wouldn't be able to sneak in here."
"I'm having someone scour the insides of this building," he complained, calling someone to do that while he helped her log in evidence. Since it wasn't inmates it was either a cop or a janitor.
Ryan looked at the man sitting in the interrogation room, then he smirked and clasped his hands on the table, learning forward slightly. "So, you want my wife to do what?"
"She had a great destiny," he said firmly, staring him down. "She must go back to it so we don't die!"
"Well, she's still hunting. I'm not naive enough to realize she and Xander don't go out around here. That doesn't break their promises of not going out alone so Horatio and I have ignored it most of the time." He gaped. Ryan continued to stare him down. "They didn't have the destiny, that's Buffy. She's still working from what I heard." He shivered. "I know, I didn't like her when I met her either." He leaned forward slightly more. "See, she told me, everything." The man blanched. "She recognized your photo too. Xander's still asleep on Horatio's couch or else I'd have asked him." He sat up straight again, grinning at him, but his eyes were ice cold. "You were going to do what to my wife and children?"
"The child would stay," he offered, backing away as the coldness became stronger. "The new one would have been sent back. I would have treated her like the most delicate gold until after she delivered."
"Ah, but you see, someone said her powers are gone when she does." He whimpered, shaking his head. Ryan nodded. "Tim said so. He heard it from on high." The man gasped and started to cry, shaking his head. "Yeah, and Xander's not supposed to fight. That's why they sent him away. They had Tim send him away really." He leaned forward again. "See, they knew that having him there would mean things got worse instead of better. He'd have died by the age of twenty-three."
"But it would've saved the world!"
"Not really. The things that would've come would've been worse." The man stared at him. "Tim got told that, that's why he had to send Xander away from Sunnydale." The man sniffled and shook his head. "What's your source?"
"They were the power and strength behind her," he said weakly. "She needs them to survive and keep going. That's all I want for her, is to survive and become a true woman."
"Then get her to move and pass on the gifts, man. Until then, she's stuck there with Rupert." He stood up. Speed walked in. "All yours."
"Thanks, really. Feel better?"
"Not yet. There's a heavy bag with my name on it." He looked at the man, making him flinch away. "Remember, no one touches what's mine or what's Horatio's. It takes a strong man to be married to anyone from Sunnydale." He walked out.
Tim sat across from him, staring at him. "I remember you, vaguely. You have a crush on Buffy, right?" He nodded, swallowing and wiping his cheeks off. "So you've been praying to the darker, chaos oriented gods to put Xander and Willow back there, against the will of the Powers. Interesting technique that could've gotten her killed." He swallowed and shook his head. Tim nodded. "They don't like her and would take any excuse. Remember, an unfocused plea to put them back there, would mean they'd be going back for her funeral, Tom. Where's the rest of the stuff you stole?"
"Xander didn't need that. He's said so often enough. Plus, he only dates evil people! The funds of evil should go to fund the good fight if we can confiscate it. "
"Yeah, but that changed with Horatio. Remember him, Xander's bonded mate? Or don't you remember the time with the pig and that pack?" The guy swallowed and nodded, looking down. "Horatio understands and takes care of him, even knowing that stuff." That got a slightly scared look. "So no, Tom, you're fucked. Theft, attempted kidnaping at the grocery store last week. Willow told us," he said with a small smirk. "Not her husband, but she called me." The guy burst out crying again. "Remember that, Tom. It's only going to get worse from here if you don't cooperate."
He nodded, looking at him. "I only wanted to save her, she's in need of them, Tim."
"She knows where to go for help. They didn't abandon her, even though it's only her duty, not theirs. Remember that, huh?" He opened the folder. "Where did you pawn the jewelry?"
"It's coming back. Druscilla caught me and told me it was coming back, that she'd fund my desires if I let her help me."
"She wants Xander. He can awaken something to make her sire stronger."
Speed moaned, shaking his head. "She's insane, you know that, right?"
"No!" He sat up straight, leaning forward. "She's a *seer*, Tim. We know this. We know she sees true. She can protect us all! She'll make sure Xander awakens this thing so her father is stronger and he'll become the protector of humanity instead of her."
"He can't." He rubbed his forehead and leaned back. "The only thing that can save Buffy is her powers being passed on so she can retire, or death," he said quietly. "That's it. Nothing else, Tom. She is who and what she is. Nothing can change that without either taking them from her or killing her." The kid swallowed and shook his head. "Yeah, that's the way it works. The next girl will be called, one way or another."
"She's already powerless. She was losing it before then."
"She wasn't, that was momentary. It was a test by the Watchers. Anything else?" He shook his head, starting to cry again. "Pray to the Powers that they move her on, man. That's all the hope you've got." He stood up and flipped closed the folder. "Where?"
"Atchinson's," he whimpered.
"Thank you. Hopefully we can stop the homicide in the making." He walked out. "Wolfe!" he called. Ryan looked at him. "With me." That got a nod and Ryan followed him. "She told you?"
"Everything. Down to her underwear of the day." Speed gave him a sideways look, then they got into the elevator. "She said she couldn't hide it from me forever. That I had the right to know."
"You do. Doesn't mean it doesn't suck that it came back to bite them."
"You tell him the truth?"
"That Buffy would either die or pass on her powers through prayer? Yup. He's still probably crying and praying to the Powers That Be." They walked off the elevator and out to the hummer. "Atchinson's Pawn. Druscilla said she's getting it back for them."
"Crap." He got in to drive, he had the keys since he had checked it out earlier in the day.
Horatio looked up as someone leaned in his office doorway, giving them a tired look. "What's wrong, Eric?"
"Buffy's here. She collapsed in the doorway. She's en-route to St. Mercy's." Horatio sighed. "I called Willow, she's not sure why she's down here. She wanted you to tell Xander."
"I will. Anything else?"
"Yeah, Speed and Wolfe walked into a holy mess at the pawn shop the guy used. Said something about Druscilla getting the stuff and sending it back, that she'd fund him because he could raise something that would make her father stronger."
"I'll be damned if I'm doing anything to make Angel a stronger vampire," Xander complained from his spot on the couch. He sat up, giving Eric a tired look. "What's the other news?"
"Buffy collapsed while she was signing in."
"Going," he sighed, standing up, hissing slightly. "Slowly, but going."
Horatio checked the clock, then him. "I can take lunch now, Xander. It's nearly two. We'll go together." Xander grinned and nodded, letting him help him out to the hummer and inside it since he was still walking so carefully. Horatio walked around to get in and drive, nodding at a few of the officers. "He's fine."
"Too much exercise?" one asked.
Horatio stared him down. "No comment." He closed the door, sticking the keys in so he could start the engine, then backed out. Xander patted him on the thigh. "I don't think they need to know what we did."
"Nope. I like that staying private. All I've said was the jerky marinade to Yelina."
"I heard, she teased me earlier when they found the second site." He glanced at his mate. "It was someone you went to school with. He wanted you and Willow to start hunting with Buffy again."
"Thank you." He patted the hand on his thigh, then shifted lanes because the person in front of him had stopped suddenly. Apparently for no reason when they drove past her.
Xander looked down at Buffy's tired looking face. "Been a long few weeks?" he asked quietly, smoothing her hair out. Buffy groaned and moved so he poked her on the forehead. "You need an on button."
"Do not," she complained, looking up at him. "Xander?"
"Usually. Occasionally that annoying bastard that makes Horatio late for work, but mostly Xander." He grinned. "What's going on that you ran down here?"
"They took my powers."
"Huh. And here we've had a minion of evil who wanted Willow and I to come back and hunt with you again. Dru's trying to get me to be a sacrifice to make Angel stronger, and Harmoney, Dru, and the other cheerleaders have been sending me crap."
"Tasteful, expensive crap."
"Still eww." She sat up, looking around. "Why am I in the hospital?"
"You collapsed." She looked at him. "Total header into the pretty marble tiles," he assured her, grinning slightly. "Eric told us."
"Part of the family, kind of." He helped her lay back down. "Where's Giles?"
"Not a clue. He got forced back to England by the Watchers last month. He was out at the store and came home to them packing him up. They darted us both and took him. I woke up in the empty apartment with a note saying my tenure was soon to be over. I thought they were going to kill me."
"Nope. Your mom?"
"She's okay, I guess. What day is it?"
"Wednesday if I'm not mistaken. Occasionally I do lose track of the days." He looked at his watch. "Nope, it says Thursday so maybe I'm wrong." He shrugged. "We'll ask Horatio when he comes in. He had to go order someone around."
"I thought you were dating a Danny person."
"I wasn't, that was to throw you off. Horatio and I have bonded and married. He's my man. He's a very good man. A very strong man."
"The manly reason why you can't stand straight?" she asked. He nodded. "Then sit."
"Hurts more," he admitted. "Sitting bad." Horatio came back in. "Hey, babe."
"Xander. Buffy." He kissed Xander. "What's going on, Buffy?"
"They stole Rupert and took my powers," she said weakly. She blinked at him. "I couldn't go to Angel. I came down to find Willow, see if she could figure this out, see if I was getting them back." She sniffled. "I didn't mean to annoy you two or to break into your marriage."
"No, it's all right," Xander assured her. "We're used to things happening that require one of us being gone for a few hours. Not like I can stay with him at work all the time."
"If we don't find those women who want to sacrifice you, you will be," Horatio assured him patiently. "Buffy, you should try to rest. They said you had extreme exhaustion." She nodded, sliding back down. "Good girl."
Xander grinned. "When you get up, you can meet the baby Xander, who is also an Eric, but not the one from earlier. Just watch out for his snuggling of the breasts. He likes them a lot."
She blinked at him. "You...have a son?" He nodded. "You never told me."
"I told your mother. Didn't she tell you?" She shook her head, starting to cry. "Shh, it's all right, Buffy. We'll work it out," he promised, giving her a hug. "Willow will be here when you wake up again. She had a doctor's appointment about the newest baby Wolfe."
"Oz is here?"
"No, she married a guy named Ryan Wolfe."
"I heard the Ryan part," she admitted. "Is he furry?"
"Nope," Xander said, grinning at her. "But he is a very nice guy. I love the guy like a brother and I'm already warping baby Toddy into a boy like me, then I'll get to spoil their daughter horribly." She gave him a weak smile. "Rest, Buffy, we'll talk when they let you out of here." She nodded. "Is Faith back?" She nodded again. "She okay?" She shrugged. "She the only one?"
"Nope. They called a second one but she's really young. She's only ten." She sniffled. "I said it was mean, they didn't listen."
"I was wondering why they didn't notice strap marks," Horatio offered quietly. She looked at him. "It's what I do for a living, Buffy. I am an investigator."
"He's one of the best ever," Xander agreed, grinning at his mate. She nodded, curling up on her side facing them. "You rest. We'll be fine. Everything will be okay and we'll call Joyce to tell her you're here." She nodded again, closing her eyes, letting Xander pet her to sleep. He looked at his mate. "I so wanna fly ta England. Wanna take a trip, dear?"
"No. That can come later, Xander." He walked him out, finding Willow down the hall babbling into a payphone. "Joyce?" She nodded, letting Xander have the phone. "She's sleeping again."
"That's fine," she agreed happily, kissing him on the cheek. "They think this one's a boy too."
Xander gave her back a look, then glanced at Ryan. Who shook his head. So if there was a baby boy number two, there might be a baby number three on the way soon. He listened to Joyce. "She handed it over, Joyce. No, I'm okay. A bit sore." He blushed. "Yeah, basically." He giggled. "No, but if you see any of Cordy's cheerleaders, avoid them. They want to make me a sacrifice to make Angel stronger. Yeah, them, led by Dru." He grinned. "Thanks, Joyce. No, we'll look after her for a bit. It'll be okay. I promise." He nodded, making mental notes. "Sure. Love you too. Laters." He hung up. "She wants Buffy to stay and have a real vacation, Willow. So you're in charge of the slutty bathing suit and the lazing around stuff." She gave him a dirty look. "Not like I'd do it the same and if *I* went in a slutty bathing suit, I might get taken again." He shrugged and took Horatio's arm, letting him help him back out. "We'll be home later," he called as they walked off.
Willow watched him walk. "Aiden moved that way once. It was from his jerky marinade. Made her hot and bothered."
"That's what he said happened," Ryan admitted. He kissed her on the cheek. "I'm still thinking it's a girl," he said quietly. "Your magic is getting a bit weaker." She glared at him. "They said it would happen, Willow." She nodded, sighing and hugging him back. "Now, let's go watch over Buffy since I took the afternoon off, and I owe Eric the next dumpster case." She grimaced but let him walk her off and plant her butt beside Buffy's bed while she slept. Ryan pulled out some stuff to read over, just watching over the girls for now. She did look really tired and a lot older than her actual age at the moment.
Xander let Buffy into his house the next afternoon, smiling at her. "I know you didn't get a chance to meet most of the family the last time you were in, considering you were being a brat, but now you will. Or else I'll spank you, handcuff you, and hand you to someone who'll take good care of you for me." She grimaced but let him lead her outside. She relaxed, smelling the ocean. "Isn't it great? It's where we have dinner most of the time." He beamed at the people sitting there, which for now was Di, Danny, little Eric, and Ryan. "Day off?"
"Yup." Ryan looked over at him. "Horatio said to guard you two. So I'm on call at the moment." He looked at Danny, who just grinned. "You?"
"Mac told me I had ta get out of the city or else I might compromise a case. He didn't want me anywhere near the lab so he lent me to Horatio for a few days. Fortunately they talked so I'm officially dealing with the present-giving situation again. Hey, Buffy."
"Hi," she said weakly. "You really weren't dating the Xander?"
"Nah, I consider him like a little brother. He's sweet and nice and all, but not my type." He grinned at her. "Come sit, you still look exhausted."
"I have been since...."
"They know my past."
"Since the Watchers took my powers." She sat down across from Ryan. "So you're the fuzzy puppy Willow married?"
He smirked. "Not exactly *fuzzy* but I'm the guy she married. Ryan Wolfe." He shook her hand. "I'd let you see the baby us but he's down for a nap in Eric's crib."
"That's okay. Babies scare me."
"I said the same thing, then I had the baby Xander, and now I'm really scared," Di teased, making Xander chuckle evilly.
Buffy looked at her buddy. "You're going odd again."
"Horatio and I couldn't have sex last night."
"I noticed the funny standing." She looked at the baby, waving at him. "Hi. Who're you?"
"Eric, say hi to Buffy," his mother instructed.
Buffy sniffled. "Thank you. I think you're cute too, even if you do look like your daddy on a goofy kid day." Eric chuckled and crawled across the table so he could settle in her lap, pressing his head against her chest a few times, before sighing in pleasure and getting comfy. She looked down. "Now I know you're a Xander. He would've done that too." Xander nodded, going back into the house to get drinks. She took her water with a smile. "Thank you."
"Welcome." He handed out the rest of the drinks. "Okay, why are we here already? I've still got to go grocery shopping for Horatio."
"He handed Willow the list and money," Ryan told him, sipping his tea. "She's doing it."
"He told me to watch over you since you can't sit or walk," Diana assured him happily. "Also to warn you that Big Eric's family was coming over as well."
"Yeah, it's about time for Marisol to try again," he admitted, sitting down in his padded seat. He looked down at Ryan. "How goes the campaigning?"
"Pretty good. So far no major problems. The poll the papers are doing has me one spot off the judge's roster at the moment and I'm not going to run negative ads so I'll be pushing harder. I've given seven interviews, all of them came out okay. They all liked Willow and Todd. They all thought Todd was very cute and Willow was very smart, so she probably could've done better than having kids at her age, but oh well. We're happy with how it turned out. Nothing negative was written so far." Speed came out. "You get the afternoon off to watch Xander as well?"
"No, I got the splitting headache vision." He looked at Buffy, then at Ryan. "For some reason, your first act as a judge will be to sign a wiretapping warrant for a kidnaping case for Eric. Immediately after being sworn in. Oh, and Buffy, you're not staying unless you want to stay but no one says you have to go back there and no, you can't go hang out with Angel. They said they're not coming back. Ever. No matter how much you want them to or do stupid shit to prompt it. So let's not die hunting, okay?" She glared at him. He glared back. She wilted and nodded. "Thank you!" He sat down, looking at Eric. "Hey, grandkid. Comfy?" He got a grin from the baby. "Thought so. Want to cuddle me?" Eric shook his head, pressing into her chest again.
"He really is a little Xander-ish pervert," Buffy noted dryly. She handed the baby over, getting pouted at. "Sorry, but my arms are tired. I was just sick." He cooed and kissed her on the cheek, then patted it before snuggling into 'grandpa's arms. "It looks like Xander's well protected here."
"Yeah, whenever we can make him stop doing stupid stuff," Ryan admitted. "Every now and then he breaks out into stupid stuff that frustrates Horatio enough to make him growl."
"We fully expect Xander to end up in New York with us, in handcuffs," Danny offered, sipping his tea with a wink at Xander. "Don said you could have his couch."
"While that's a charming offer, I've been a good boy recently," he defended.
"You have been," Ryan agreed. "For once." Xander glared at him. "No hunting recently and nothing too bad happening with your fanclub."
"Not my fault the vampiric cheerleaders association is after me," he said grimly. "With Dru as head coach."
Buffy patted him on the arm. "It always seems to happen to you," she noted dryly. "I've always wondered why."
"It's genetic. Every woman in existence comes up to say how cute Eric is," Diana assured her with a smile. "So, are you thinking about college?"
"I am. Or at least I guess I should since I can't really do a lot at the moment." She pushed her hair back. "Right now, I need to rest and recuperate."
"Willow said she's taking you to a beach tomorrow," Ryan promised. "She said Di, Eric's mommy, is going to make you something too."
"I am?" Di asked. "I thought I was making that for Willow." Ryan gave her a questioning look. "What?" she defended. "Your wife knows what a smutty pervert you are too, Wolfe. She enjoys teasing you. I thought the see-through dotted bikini was for her."
"She'd never get to wear it out of the house," he assured her dryly, smirking just a bit. "But please, make my wife look pretty and hot. It can only make me happier and more content."
Diana smirked at him. "Sure, baby. Anything for my favorite baby factory."
"Thanks. We're having a girl one way or another."
Tim blinked, then looked at him. "Her powers are going on the blink, have her pray, Ryan. They'll fix that." Ryan looked at him. "Sorry, the Powers are insistent. It's going to be a girl one way or another."
"Sure. Works for me." He nodded. "I'll mention it to her tonight that she should send up a prayer about her college plans or something." Speed and Xander both grinned at that. "I know she's still panicking. It's how she is. I accept and love her for it. The same as she loves my thing with the laundry and the cleaning stuff."
"Then why is your kitchen always a mess?" Diana asked him.
"She said that's her room and only she can clean in there. It's a test of willpower for me," he said blandly. "I have to fight every time I'm home to go in there and clean it on her. Some day soon I'll snap, clean it on her, have her in it, then clean it again." He smiled, taking another drink of his tea.
"Only you could turn OCD into a sex game," Xander said with an air of fondness. "Horatio has a thing about the laundry being done perfectly but nothing near making it cute and sexy. Though he did get me to agree to do the laundry and clean the closets during sex once."
"TMI, Xander, TMI," Di complained. "Really. Why can't you sit?"
She blinked at him, then at Speed, who nodded. "How do you use that for sex?"
"It's a great muscle rub," Buffy told her. "He's used it on me and Willow a few times."
"I see." She looked at her son, then at her model, then she shook her head. "Maybe he should hang out with Ray more often."
"Up to you but I will pout," Xander promised.
"Which is a horrible thing on the world," Willow said as she joined them. "Someone go carry the heavy shit." The guys got up to do that and she flopped down in her husband's seat with a sigh of relief, finishing his tea for him. "Ah, better." Xander got up to get her some more, making her smile. "They spoil me horribly. They'll do the same to Marisol while she's preggers with Horatio's baby."
"There's going to be a baby Horatio?" Buffy asked. Willow nodded. "Will he wear a suit too?"
"Probably," Willow agreed dryly, smiling at her. "You look less tired."
"I am less tired. Thank you for telling mom."
"Not an issue." The baby came back out and snuggled into her lap. "Hi, Eric. Are you being a butt?" He grinned and nodded. "I thought so." She pulled out her cell, calling Horatio. "Okay, I'm back, the guys are putting the food up." Pause. "Horatio said not to put anything in the freezer yet since most of Eric's family is coming tonight," she called. She went back to listening. "Nope, she, I, and Eric are on the porch, why?" She listened, then wobbled. "Must we?" She sighed then nodded. "Sure, Horatio. Thank you." She hung up. "Baby, Ray wants to take Xander and bigger Eric out tonight and be slutty. They need an extra chaperone. You up to us going out to party with them?"
He came to the doorway right after Xander's 'YES!' from the kitchen. "I don't see why not. You could use some more admirers and we can keep the vampires off Xander for tonight." He looked at Buffy. "You can borrow some of her stuff. It's not a problem." He grinned and headed back inside. "Don't you dare put on those spreadable clothes, Xander," he yelled. "I'm not going to have to hunt someone down for you tonight. Horatio would kill us if we lost you."
"But, mom!" Xander whined.
Danny came out chuckling, shaking his head. "I love you guys. That's why I come down so often." He hugged Willow, then hugged Buffy too. "Pretty soon Miami will warp you too, Buffy."
"I knew Xander for three years and I'm still this way."
Willow chuckled. "I've known him since the first day of school and look at me," she agreed.
"You still got warped when you came down," Ryan called. "You became more gentle, relaxed, and loving. I love that about you, dear."
"Thanks, baby." She shrugged, if he said so.
"Not those together, Xander," Di complained, stomping after him. "Wear the blue leathers I just made you."
"I can't eat dinner in those. Eric's mom will throw a fit."
"She knows we're all going out clubbing later," she promised. "She still calls her son a slut too." Ryan and Willow both burst out in giggles from that. "Wear the blue ones the color of Horatio's eyes. Then the pale cream shirt."
"Yes, dear. If I didn't love you so much, I'd worry about you dressing me now and then."
"Horatio will drool."
"Which is incentive enough," he agreed happily, going to put those on. "I need to start working out again, they're too tight."
Diana walked into the bedroom, staring at him. "You gained more muscle. You're more cut." She walked over to help him settle them in the right spot. "I'll have to measure you again."
"Good, because my jeans don't fit," he pouted, hugging her. "I love you."
"I love you too, baby. Unfortunately you're not a girl."
"It'd be easier if I was," he sighed, pulling out the cream shirt. It had a big stain on it so he tossed it aside and looked, finding a darker blue one. He slid it on, leaving the top three buttons undone before putting on his boots with a moan of complaint for the tight pants. He walked out, turning so everyone could see and approve.
"Did you steal that shirt off me?" Speed asked.
"No, this is my copy of the shirt," he assured him, grinning. "Like it?"
"Now I know why people wanted to see you strip," Buffy said in awe.
Willow nodded. "Yup. That's our slutty Xander toy."
"Hey! I'm only Horatio's toy," he complained, tapping a foot and scowling. "Take that back."
"You're our eye candy toy," she assured him. "You give us all plenty of reasons to go jump our mates." She gave Ryan a look. "Some day, you too can look that hot."
Di chuckled. "You haven't worn the rust colored outfit, have you, Wolfy?"
"Don't call me that," he whined, looking back at her. "I was saving it for sometime special."
"I'll make you something hotter, wear that tonight."
"Sure." He stood up. "Let me grab us some clothes, Willow." She nodded. "Want the black dress?" She beamed and nodded. "Sure thing." He headed out to the car, going home to pick up some clothes, and to see who was babysitting tonight. This looked more and more like a night the whole team was going to be going out together.
Ray walked in, wearing the black leathers he had worn during the last show, the ones he had trouble getting out of. "Di, they're too tight. I've been overdoing it in the gym. I'm about to burst a seam."
She looked them over, nodding. "You are gaining muscle, Ray. We'll work on a new pair next week for you, baby." She kissed him on the cheek and twitched his shirt. "I still don't like that one on you." He opened it to show the wifebeater tanktop underneath. "Hiding it from your mom?"
"Oh, yeah. Lots and lots of hiding it from my mom. Xander, Horatio said he got pulled into a budget meeting. We can start without him." Xander pouted. "They'll come steal us later. Mom and him both."
"I was kinda hoping your mom would babysit," Ryan offered, grinning at him. "Eric's on his way over after he changes. His mom's on her way over after a stop to get vegetables. Fair warning."
"Uh-huh. We're going clubbing. I can look like a slut," Ray reminded him, grinning. "I'm seventeen, I'm allowed at my age."
"So you think Delko's doing it because he's desperate?" Willow teased.
"Can't say either way really. He's not *horribly* old yet." He grinned at the muted complaining noise from the doorway. "You're not."
"Gee, thanks, kiddo." He looked him over. "I don't like that shirt." It was taken off and Eric blinked. "Put it back on." Ray grinned and slid back into it. "Thank you. My sisters might hit on you and upset their husbands horribly." He walked out and kissed Di on the cheek. "I'm supposed to be the grown up tonight. I can't go in clubbing clothes."
She gave him a look, then snorted and drug him back to Xander's room. They were nearly the same size. She found some of the stripper stuff she had made her boy, handing it over. "Change, Eric, and forget the boxers. They'll ruin the line." He blushed but went into the bathroom to do that. She took off her jacket, leaving her in soft pants and a tanktop that made her look cute. She was never anything but cute really. She walked out there, running into Eric's mother, kissing her on the cheek. "Eric's getting changed. I made him borrow some of Xander's clothes." She headed off to find the kids, finding them upstairs cooing at each other. "We up?" They both beamed. "Okay." She helped Todd down, holding him, and released the mesh padding on Eric's big boy bed, letting him free too. He ran for the downstairs.
"He's at home," Eric's mother called. "He's not feeling well, Eric." She smiled at him. "Can I have a hug?" He hugged her, beaming at her. "Good boy. Your daddy's outside wearing your mother's clothes." He ran that way, loving it when the daddy and mommy got dressed up. She rolled her eyes, looking at her son. Then she scowled and pointed back at the bedroom. "Go change, Eric."
"She dressed me and I've got to watch out for Xander and Ray tonight when they go clubbing," he promised, kissing her on the cheek. "They're Xander's not mine."
"I realize that, they don't fit the same as your usual ones." He just smiled and headed off outside. She sighed and crossed herself, saying a prayer that her son would meet a *nice* girl who was more than five minutes' work at the club. Marisol walked in, already smiling. "Have a good session?"
"Fairly." She hugged her mother. "I heard from Horatio that they're all going out tonight."
"Hmm. Are you trying again tonight or tomorrow night?"
"The doctor said to try tomorrow night. That the medicine would make it iffy tonight." She walked out there and shrieked. "ERIC, GO CHANGE! YOU LOOK LIKE A CLUB SLUT!"
"Wow, you're really loud," Buffy offered, looking at her. Marisol glared at her. "He's going to guard the Xander and the other young hotty there with Ryan and Willow. He's got to fit in."
Marisol snorted. "I doubt that's fitting in. My brother is a slut. He has been a slut for years. He's the reason Momma prays for a good grandson." Eric smirked at her. "You are!"
"You wanna come, Marisol?" he asked. She shook her head. "Then sit down and behave."
"Fine." She sat down, glaring at him. "You still look like a whore."
"Yay. They're Xander's clothes, that's why they don't fit right."
She gave him a dirty look, then looked at Diana. "I love your attire on Xander, but on my brother, he looks easy, slutty, and desperate."
"That's one way to meet women," Diana reminded her, grinning. She didn't mind those compliments, that's what she had been going for when she had designed Eric's wardrobe.
"You're worrying Momma sick, Eric."
"Marisol, quit. I'm a big boy. If I want to go find nice women in the clubs, I can do that."
"Then why can't I?" she asked.
"You're a girl and a good Catholic girl." He stared her down. "It's not right." She snorted. "I don't care about the double standard. You're a good girl and I've never been one of those."
"Good or a girl?" Ryan asked.
"You know, I do know some lesbians who're a lot like him," Willow offered with a grin for Marisol. "I'll watch his back, make sure he doesn't hang with anyone too sleazy." She got another snort. "Hey, maybe he'll knock someone up and then your mom'll get the daughter-in-law she's been wanting."
"There would be a priest on that doorstep within an hour," Marisol agreed dryly. Eric shook his head. "You wouldn't do right by her?"
"If she asked. If not, I'd do what Xander and Di are doing and split custody as often as I could. Not everyone wants to be married or a parent. On Wolfe it looks good, it calms him down, gives him new focus and drive. On me, I'd be miserable unless she was really exciting and could play a lot."
Ryan looked at Willow. "Do I feel insulted?"
"No, dear, it was a compliment." She kissed him hard enough to make him moan. "I'll have you know he's very exciting in bed, Eric. Why do you think that wench Erica keeps trying to get into his jockey shorts even after she knew we were married?"
"TMI!" Eric said, covering his ears. "I don't want to know!"
"It was over with long ago, while I was in college," Ryan assured him. Eric gave him a funny look. "She was a student, I was a student. She got ambitious and I became a cop." He shrugged and leaned against his wife's side. "Maybe you're right that marriage suits me more than it would you, but she is very exciting. There's a reason why I still get back problems some mornings, Eric. It's called my wife takes sex tips from Xander." Xander beamed proudly. "I'm sure he'll share with your eventual wife too."
Eric moaned and walked back inside shaking his head. "Momma, can I help cook? Ryan's giving me bad thoughts. He said Xander will be sharing tips with my wife if I ever find one."
She patted him on the cheek and smiled. "That's one way to have an exciting marriage, dear." She handed him a head of lettuce. "Make a salad." He nodded, going to do that. Maybe he'd get wet and have to change.
Yelina stormed into Horatio's office, waving a piece of paper. "Your husband is corrupting my son again."
He took the note, reading the 'out with the boys in the club' message. He looked at her. "Your son told you he was going out with Xander."
"I looked in his closet, the sluttiest pair of leathers in there are gone!"
"Ryan, Willow, Eric, and Buffy all went, with Speed and Calleigh watching them," he soothed, standing up and grabbing his jacket. He could tell by the look on her face she was intending to have him hunt them down. "I'm sure they're fine."
"They're not fine! Your boy and my boy are getting slutty together and I doubt Eric is doing more than having woman after woman in the bathroom!" She followed Horatio out, running into her former husband. "Ray."
"Where's the kids?"
"They're out clubbing," Horatio offered. "We can find them together." He walked into the dispatch office. "Any idea where my husband is making people sweaty?" he asked dryly.
The dispatch officer looked back at him. "Well, Club Pendington was just shut down by Vice for having an open orgy. They weren't reported there but there have been mentions of traffic down by South Beach and around some of their clubs. Particularly the Flamingo. That might not be them. You could call the local dance music radio station, see where the happening action is."
"Thank you." He walked out, going to do that. "Where's the best place to party tonight? The one with the prettiest and hottest?" He listened, making notes. "Thank you." He hung up and handed Yelina the list. "Any of them look familiar?"
"No," she snorted, pouting slightly.
Ray took the list and wrote addresses for most of them. "Those other three opened after I left." He shrugged. "Where do we think the boys are?"
"Let me text Willow, see if she's got her phone." He did that, getting an answer back from someone unexpected. "They hired Beauvista to babysit," he said, looking amused. "Di must be with them." He got the next message of where they were, including address. He texted back a thank you and headed off, expecting the worried parents to follow him. It didn't take them very long, even without the siren or lights. The boys had stayed close to home tonight. He pulled up in front of the club, seeing the shocked looks. "Not Vice, gentlemen. Darkness?"
"Inside, sir, VIP lounge. You are?"
"His husband." That got some moans. "These are the young one's parents."
"Yeah, Ray's in there with him, they're together so Ray doesn't get stolen," one of the bouncers offered with a shy grin. "He's really cute."
"Thank you. May we?" That got a nod. "Where's their watching officer?"
"On the floor with his lady, sir."
"Thank you." He walked them in there, remembering this club. This is where Xander had first danced with him. They made it to the VIP room, getting a long stare. "I'm Darkness' husband Horatio. These are Ray's parents." The rope was opened and they were let inside. "Thank you." He nodded at the two rappers in there, turning to look out on the floor. "There, Yelina. There's Ray and Xander."
Ray Sr. looked, just staring in awe. "My son's a God on the floor," he said finally. She hit him, making the others in the room laugh. He looked back at them. "Ray Caine is my son."
One of the rappers smirked and waved. "I saw his benefactor out there, man." He looked at the obvious suit. "Yo, who're you?"
"This is Horatio. He's married to Darkness," Yelina said, grinning at him. "Also known as Lieutenant Caine, but we're off duty. I don't care what you do as long as it doesn't come near my son. We're only here so he doesn't get stolen, again."
One of them got up and came over to look. "Your boy's fly."
"Thank you," she said with a smile for him. "The one he's dancing with is Darkness."
"Yeah, Xander. We've met him. He's one hell of a guy for being gay." Horatio nodded at that. He smirked at him. "You're gay too?"
"He's my only one."
"Yeah, I'd switch for a sweet ass like that too," he said, looking back at his girl. "You could learn some moves off him." He pulled her up and out there, going to make her dance with the boys. They grinned and nodded, putting her between them to work on her rhythm problems.
Ray Sr. looked around. "I can't find Speed or Eric."
"There's Di, Buffy, and Eric is near them," Yelina said, pointing them out. "There's Speed and Calleigh, they're near the stage and getting cuddlesome." She looked at Horatio's growl, watching him go out there to take his mate back, leaving her son with the girlfriend of the rapper. It was cute, Ray was smiling and hot at her, making her blush and move closer. "If he scores out there...."
"I will be impressed and call my son The Man," Ray offered. She hit him again, making him yelp. "Ow! Were you this big a shrew when we married or was it dating Stetler?"
"Yes, to both." He growled and she stared back. "Not yours."
"Yet." He pulled her closer, kissing her hard. "Yet, my dear, yet. Remember that. You're still mine."
Ray walked in and tapped him on the shoulder, then slugged him. "Hands off my mother, sperm donor. Now," he growled, looking exactly like his uncle, if his uncle Horatio wore leather. He looked at his mother, then pulled her out with him, showing her the hipper moves. The girl giggled at that. He smirked. "My mom. She needs to loosen up. She probably made Uncle Horatio come find Xander."
"After the note you left? Yes!"
"At least I told you who I was with." He stripped out of his shirt and tossed it at Speed since he was walking back to the VIP lounge. "Toss that in my seat?" he called. Speed nodded, looking him over then shaking his head. Ray grinned and went back to dancing with his ladies. Some of the younger people gave him a look. "My mom, guys. She came to rescue me." He grinned and took off her jacket, putting her gun and badge inside, then handing it to Xander as Horatio drug him off the floor. That was much better. Now she looked like she should be in a club, instead of at work.
"Ah, my protege does well," Xander quipped as he was sat down and a drink gotten for him. "I was doing okay. No one tried to snatch me tonight."
"I don't care, Xander. You're still mine and I'm still possessive." He kissed him, hard, fast, and needy. "No more teasing the masses tonight."
Xander stroked his cheek. "You know I tease to make you growl." He got a light growl and grinned. "Not good enough. I don't need to walk tomorrow." He stood up and took his drink, then took off his overshirt, leaving him in the sluttiest pants known to mankind. The ones Di had made him change into after dinner. He took his drink with him, wiggling the whole way out. Horatio followed, making him one happy, teasing spouse. Danny stared in horror but his partner made him face her again so it was all good. He got back into the groove with Horatio, making him moan and move closer. "Before you ask, we didn't cause the orgy earlier. We got there as it broke out and Eric made us leave." Horatio pulled him flush against his front, moving with him. He growled and nipped his mate's throat. "You're overdressed, Horatio."
"It's to protect my sanity."
"Who needs sanity?" Xander teased, playing with his shirt buttons. He got swatted for it and only smirked. He turned, letting Horatio have his back, where he belonged, while he teased the people in front of him. He was in a desperate teasing mood. He tried to move away but Horatio pulled him back. He winked back at him and moved further off, dancing with Danny. He was definitely in the mood to tease and he had told Danny and the others he needed to get it out of his system. That's why Danny was staying so close to him. Danny grinned and looked back at Horatio, nodding a bit. He let Xander tease him all he wanted. The last time he had gotten laid by a very nice girl in the back hallway. This time, three girls came over and he had his choice of blonde, blonde, or dyed redhead - because hair didn't naturally come in that shade. He grinned at them then winked at Xander and nodded, watching him take the redhead and make her hot and wet for him later.
Horatio growled, moving up behind Xander, taking his hips into his hands. Xander grinned back at him and then let it go, letting it all hang out with her. Danny eventually had to take her to get a drink, she had drooled too much. And of course he was handsomely rewarded for his gallantry of buying her a five dollar drink. By the time he came back Eric, Xander, and Horatio were dancing together and the girls trying to get with them were panting and wet. You could tell by how they were moving. Eric winked and took off with two of them. Ray bumped into Danny on the way out, punching fists with him. "He's so damn bad when he's in these moods," Ray called. "This the same mood that used to get him taken when he stripped." He dove back into the crowd, going to find a new hotty to dance with.
Danny grinned and took another picture to send to his family back home. They could be jealous but he'd bring Sheldon what he wanted, a sweat sample to see what made Xander so hot. He found Buffy and danced with her for a bit since she looked pretty lonely. She gave him a smile and moved against him, making him feel like a dirty old man for a few minutes. Then he remembered Xander was her age so it was okay enough. He guessed. It wasn't like he was going to sleep with her. And hey, he was covered at home. Stella had *ordered* him to relieve some of the, as she put it, smouldering pressure that kept her from working while he was down here. As long as he played safely.
Horatio reclaimed his mate, getting another of those looks back. He knew what his mate needed and he pulled him back against his chest, snarling gently in his ear, making him harder. He danced with him, making him regret wearing pants too tight to get hard in, but it was good for his boy. He was letting it go, teasing everyone by how they were dancing. He saw a great many couples get together and head for the back areas while he was dancing with his boy. Then he saw his nephew was one of them and growled in a different key. Xander reached back to stroke his thigh, getting his attention back. He needed to wear this out. Xander ended up shirtless thanks to some girl who clung to him while rubbing against his front. Danny took the shirt back after kissing her stupid, tucking it in his belt. She moaned and drug him into the back, his dance partner following along to get some herself. The only thought in his mind was 'naughty Xander' but he loved his boy.
Horatio trudged into the station the next morning, glaring at Frank. "Not one word," he warned, holding up a finger.
"You're wearing the same clothes, Horatio. That's unlike you."
"Xander was in super teasing mode," Eric moaned as he walked in, very carefully. Frank gave him an amused look. "I popped my back wrong. Danny's coming in to fill in for me." Horatio gave him a look. "He said he is. He's still bouncing and happy."
"He's got more energy than everyone but Xander and Ray then," Ray Sr. offered as he walked in. "Where is my son the stud?"
"He went home when Yelina drug him from between the triplets," Eric told him, bleary eyed look and all. Danny came in grinning and happy. "How do you still have energy?"
"Caffeine," he said with a nod and a grin. "I'll collapse about the same time the painkillers kick in for you, Eric."
"Good enough for me," Horatio agreed, heading for his office at a very slow walk. Calleigh tried to stop him but he waved her off and kept going. If he stopped, he'd never make it up the stairs. She and Speed came over to help him up there. "Thank you."
"Not a problem," Speed assured him. "What time did you go home? I know you were still letting the son tease when we left at two." Horatio gave him a look and Speed smirked. "Just now, huh?" Horatio nodded, falling into his desk chair with a sigh of relief. "You need a nap? I'll fill in with Eric."
"Danny's filling in for Eric until his back pops again," he said quietly. "Danny's got caffeine."
"Good," Calleigh agreed, going to check on the other guys.
Speed handed over a paper. "Ryan called off. Too much horny wife in *that* phase of the pregnancy."
Horatio called him. "Mr. Wolfe, if I made it in, you can make it in." He hung up and looked at him. "Anything else?"
"Not yet. Catch twenty and I'll be in charge."
"I would but I've got another meeting in an hour," he complained.
"Uh-huh. The Chief's already called, said he'll save you a pillow." He walked off shaking his head.
Horatio called his boss. "Not funny," he said. Then he hung up and pulled over some necessary but dull paperwork. His phone rang so he answered it. "Caine." He listened to the praise for his dancing style and moaned. "You were there?" His boss agreed that he was indeed there, watching his mate tease everyone. "No, I'm fine, sir. I could use the afternoon off but I'm fine. Thank you anyway." He hung up and got back to work. Maybe he'd find a reason to get into the field today. The fresh air and lack of papers would do him good.
Speed came jogging in. "They just found the guy dead, Horatio. Bite marks."
"Fuck," he growled, getting up and heading off with him, forgetting his pain for a little bit.
Speed texted Willow, getting a 'handled' back. "Ooooh. Wonder if Wolfe knows she's out of bed already."
"Probably not. He was rather sleepy when I called." They ran into a glaring Ryan coming
in. "The person who had the shrines died."
"Wonderful. Can I cheer?" he asked blandly, following them once he had signed in. "Boss, when did you make it home?"
"I haven't," he admitted. They went down to holding, finding Calleigh and Alex on the scene already. "Alexx?"
"Exsanguination, Horatio. From a fairly brutal bite mark." She looked at the single cell, then at him. "She's already looked at the tapes. No one came in here."
"Uh-huh," Speed agreed.
Ryan called his wife. "Where are you?" he asked pleasantly. "Okay, ask Xander where he's driving you." He listened, then groaned. "No, not without backup, Willow. Do I care!" he said hotly, walking off. "You're not going in there without backup and we're all deadly tired. Not today. Then we'll go tonight. No!" He growled. "Willow!" Eric gave him an odd look. "Someone bit the guy who had the shrine, he's dead. Guess where mine and Horatio's spouses are?"
"Right where they need to be?" he guessed. Ryan nodded. "That's fine. Thank you." He took the phone. "Willow, try for reasonable. You're tired, Xander's just now getting out of the club. You're exhausted. So let's not do this now. We can go later. No, my back's out. Horatio's glaring at the wall. Ryan's growling. Can't we do this tonight?" He listened to the reasonable reasons and sighed, shaking his head. "No, Willow. Tonight, when you've got backup. I know but he's tired and you're on the blink. Please?" Xander took the phone. "Try for reasonable, Xander. Please. Backup is good." He heard the quiet words. "She's not...." He sighed. "You're right, she does, and he would've wanted it that way but yay. We need to be there too. Yes, us." He got hung up on. "They're in the warehouse district. I heard the horns." Ryan walked off, heading for the hummers.
"I've got GPS on Xander's cars," Horatio admitted, heading after him.
"I've got one on Willow's," he agreed, pulling out his monitor. Horatio got his from his desk and they compared. "Hey, they're in Willow's car. Buffy's with them?" Horatio nodded. "Fantastic," he said bitterly. "Shall we?"
"We should," he agreed, heading out with him, Speed right behind them. "Speed...."
"Shut up, Horatio," he ordered fondly. "Not like you're in any shape to stake someone, or Wolfe." He got in to drive, heading off at high speed with the worried spouses. "I'm going to kick their asses. Anyone going to protest?"
"I can spank her myself," Ryan promised.
"As can I," Horatio agreed.
"You spank Xander and he'll leave," Speed warned. "You will never see him again, Horatio."
"I know. I have my own methods of correction."
"Good to know." He turned the corner and flipped on his lights and sirens. It was going to be a long day.
Xander walked into the warehouse, looking at the insane psycho posse, frowning greatly. "What the fuck are you doing in Miami!" he shouted, making the cheerleaders jump and shriek.
Dru smiled at him. "Kitten," she said fondly. She walked over. "You're a naughty kitten, running away. It was very hard to find you."
"Half the point," he sneered, removing her hand from his chest. "Not going to happen, Dru."
"But the daddy needs you."
"So does my son." She pouted. He backhanded her. "You're in my city, Druscilla. You knew better when you came." He pulled out a stake.
"Oooh, look, he thinks he can hurt us," Harmony called. The others laughed. Including the cloaked figure in the corner. "Don't you think you should put it down?"
"No. I don't." He waved her on. "You think you can try me?" She vamped out and rushed him. He threw her and staked her. Then glared at Dru. "You're upsetting my husband and son. Not to mention Willow's son and husband. You might wanna go before they get here. Tim's not the nicest and if I know him, he's with them."
"They can be good boys," she assured him, moving closer with another smile. "We need you, kitten. Only you can save daddy."
"What do I care if he dies?" She pouted. "Get Spike, Dru. I could care less if he dies."
"But he'll save you some day."
"No he won't. I save myself." He got free and pushed her back again. "Drop off the planet, Dru. You're bothering the inhabitants."
"That's not nice," she pouted.
"Who said I was nice?" he sneered. "I'm not known for being *nice*. A tease, really hot, but not *nice*." The cheerleaders giggled at that. "Sorry, ladies, taken. My man likes it that way." That got more laughs. "You'd be surprised." A few more tried him and he staked them, wincing since one started to bleed. "Did you forget to turn her?" Fortunately he had a weak backhand today. She'd live. He dialed Willow. "Call them, tell them at least one is still living, but bleeding now," he said lightly, hanging up. He looked at Dru again. "You won't win."
"I will. You're here. We can give you everything, kitten." He moved away from her, backing up to a safer spot. He heard the sirens and smirked, shaking his head. "Yes, we will."
"No, you won't, you fruity pebbles bitch." She growled and came for him but he danced out of the way and kicked her, sending her crashing into a wall. She shrieked and turned around, heading back. He ducked two swings and a grab attempt, then kicked her in the stomach before following, losing himself in the familiar rhythms. She sneered and spat at him, hissing like a cat. He shrugged it off, focusing on her hands and teeth, the dangerous parts. She attacked and he defended, then tried to stake her but she moved out of the way.
"Enough!" the cloak figure called, pushing off her hood. "Xander, leave Dru alone. She's right."
"Bite me," he snorted. Cordelia vamped out. "Interesting." He went back to fighting her. Cordy rushed him and he had to swing out of her way, tripping her. The doors burst open, Ryan and Horatio behind Speed, who had his crossbow. "Gimme!" he called, holding up a hand. Tim tossed it, making him roll back to get it, then shooting Dru. He sneered at her dust. "Bye bye." He looked at Cordelia, crossbow at his side. "When?"
"Last month. I nearly died. Angel turned me."
"Pity. He teaching you?" She nodded. "You have the right to walk away then."
"The human one will get care. The others can disappear with you," he promised. "As long as you go and never come back to my city and never bother me and mine again." She growled. He pulled up the crossbow. "Don't think that I won't, Cordy. I staked Jesse. You're my ex, he was my blood brother. Not even close." She burst out crying. "Not going to work." Willow and Buffy got free of his lock on the car and he waved a hand. "Look who's turned."
"Joy," Buffy said, walking in to look at her. "Why?"
"I was nearly dead. Angel did it."
"Pity." She palmed her stake.
"Buffy, I gave her the right to leave."
"She's a vampire, Xander!"
"And? She's learning from Angel. As long as he keeps her in check, we don't have issues until they come after my family. I've pulled back to guarding that instead." Buffy gave him an incredulous look. One of the other cheerleaders rushed them. He shot one in the stomach, watching her not bleed. The other did bleed when he did the same. He staked the vampire then backhanded the other one, looking at the last one, who backed away and took off running. He looked at Cordelia again. "Leave my city," he ordered quietly. "Or know the price."
"You're treated like a God so you can be sacrificed," she sneered. "It'll all fall apart if you don't die!"
"No it won't. I've still got the running of the foundation and my spouse, Cordy. See, he hates the presents." She sneered. "He won't be leaving me if something like that were to happen."
"You're so sure?" she sneered.
"Yes, I am. He made me see that." He waved a hand. "Last chance. If not, one of us gets you. Your only chance to live is to leave."
"There's a sewer system. Take a right outside and head west. It'll get you into the 'Glades. There's plenty of darkness out there. Go and don't come near my family again." She stomped off, heading into the sewers. "You forgot your shit!"
"It's yours," she sneered, glaring back at him. "You'll still die. You'll still die to help Angel save everyone!"
"If the Powers dictate that, I can die in a car crash. Wouldn't be the first one I had." He waved a hand. "Have fun in the sewers and we're leaving your shit here for you." She rushed him and he put her onto her back, hesitating just a second with the stake, then she was gone. He stood up and dusted off, heading back outside. "I'm heading to swim."
Horatio stopped him, looking at him. "You had to."
"I know that. Doesn't make it any easier." He stared at his mate. "I know you won't leave." Horatio smiled at that. "Prove me wrong and I'll kill both of us." He got free. "I need to swim. I need to wear it out."
"That's fine, Xander. We'll be talking later."
Xander stepped closer, palming his cheek with a small smile. "You may be my alpha but the female hunts for the pack. The male does the admin stuff and scratches my itchy spots when I've laid in the sun too long." He took a gentle, long, deep kiss. "You can do that later." He walked off. "I'm heading to the gym, who am I giving a ride to?" he called.
"Oh, she's coming with us," Ryan called back. He glared at his wife, who blushed and looked down. "Willow, I know we've discussed the concept of backup before, the same as I know you're not dumb enough to ignore that rule. We set it for a good reason, the same reason Horatio did. Because we don't want to see you become a pile of ashes one day."
"Ease off," Buffy ordered quietly, staring him down. "They're both very skilled and have done it alone more often than anyone but them realizes." Willow gave her a shocked look. "Yeah, I realized Xander was going out alone. It was the only explanation for the declines we had now and then. The same as I figured you did now and then magically." Willow slowly shook her head. "No?"
"No. Xander did. I didn't. I knew better. He's the dumb one." Horatio glared at her so she shrank back. "Sorry, Horatio."
Buffy smiled at him. "The more I see you being overprotective of the Xander the more I like you, Caine. Xander needs someone with a firm hand on the whip." She looked at her friend. "Think we should've gone to the gym with him?"
"He goes to a stripper gym," she said with a really hot blush. "I can't deal with that. Sorry."
"S'okay. It happens." She shrugged and walked Willow over to Ryan, handing her over. "You're very protective of her. I like that about you. Of course, if you step over the line, even if I don't ever regain my slayer abilities, you'll be toasty very quickly." He nodded, smirking at her. "Remember that. Even if I have to come back from the dead." She looked at Tim. Grinning slightly. "Hi, Tim."
He swatted her. "Stupid brat." She shrugged. "Home, now!"
"I live on the other coast....." He grabbed her by the hair and walked her off. "Hey! It's the only thing going right in my life! Leave the hair alone, Tim!"
"Are you suicidal!" he shouted, glaring at her. "You knew better!"
"He locked us in the car!"
"Good! That shows he's got some brains! Unlike you and her! She's pregnant, Buffy!"
"The girl before me went out until her ninth month!"
"And I'm sure she died!"
"Oops," she said quietly. "It was a complication due to labor," she offered. He glared. "Fine, I won't endanger Willow but Xander growled and grabbed a stake so we had to follow him. You know how he can be! He'll get hurt!"
He looked at her. "The sad thing is, you actually believe that," he told her, letting her go. "Go home with Willow." She nodded, heading over there to beg for a ride back to Willow's. He growled at Horatio. "She still thinks he's going to get hurt."
"As do I, Speed."
"Yeah, but you think it for different reasons than she does, H. Trust me on this." He glared at the duo of girls, getting sheepish looks as they got into the car. Then he looked at Horatio again. "You've got my boy later?"
"I'll be firmly speaking to him once he's worn out and begging for forgiveness." Speed smirked at that. "All without having to raise a hand to him."
"He might not like that."
"I've got my special methods with the boy, Speed. What about the things in there?"
"Like I give a damn." He shrugged and headed back to their hummer. "Coming?"
"Yes. Ryan can give the ladies a lift home then come in."
"Sure," Ryan called. He got in to drive, going to lecture them the whole eight and a three/tenths miles home.
Xander came off the back porch, looking at his mate when he came in. "Before you say a word, they were coming after me. It was my right to defend myself and my family. I had backup. If I got hurt, the locks would've popped and they'd have rushed in. I had backup. That was the rule we set."
Horatio studied him. "Not exactly. I told you you were not to go hunting without me being present as backup, even if you took Willow because she's more delicate at this time." He moved closer. "I did not say that Buffy was an acceptable substitute for my presence."
"If you had come with me, you'd have to admit to being there."
"I had to anyway, Buffy's fight with Speed got reported."
"So am I." He pulled him closer, kissing him gently. "I should spank you."
"You do that and I'm walking out the door, never to return. I'll let Ethan pack my stuff," he said firmly.
"Which is the only thing holding me back," he assured him, stroking his cheek. "That was stupid."
"It was necessary."
"Doesn't make it any less stupid, Xander." Xander pulled away with a sigh and headed back outside. "Get back here."
"I'm not fighting with you." He closed the porch door and headed down onto the beach.
Horatio gathered his thoughts, then got them both a bottle of beer. Even though Xander didn't drink, he could have his if he wouldn't. He could use the mental lubricant. He walked out there, handing Xander one as soon as he sat next to him. Xander gave it an odd look and handed it back. "It's the only cold thing in the fridge."
"I refilled the water pitcher when I got home."
"Thank you." He sipped his beer, then looked at his spouse. "You knew it was dumb or you wouldn't be trying to justify yourself, Xander," he offered quietly. "The same as you knew you were panicking about them getting near you or Eric. I understand that. You could have told me before you left and I'd have gone with you tonight."
"There was more chance of them being asleep today." He leaned against his side. "How are the two humans?"
"They'll be fine. Speed told the officers they were in a cult related haze and the leader had ordered them to off each other for not being worthy." He put an arm around his shoulders. "You're not in trouble. Even if they talk, it'll be suspect since they'd have to talk about Dru and Cordelia." Xander's breath caught. "I know it's hard, Xander."
"They were going to sacrifice me to one of the Dark Gods to give Angel my skills," he said quietly, looking at him. "Dru got that other guy sucked in too."
"I figured as much. From what you and Willow have told me, she seemed like the sort who could do that." Xander nodded, swallowing and leaning closer. "I'm sorry you had to do that. If I had been there sooner, I'd have done it for you."
"No you wouldn't have. You can't stake worth a damn, Horatio." He took the spare bottle and sipped it, making a face. "I hate beer."
"All we had."
"I know." He snuggled in. "I'm sorry you're disappointed."
"I'm only disappointed that you didn't want me to help, didn't expect me to be there. The same as I'm disappointed that you and Willow go hunting without telling Ryan and I." He stroked over his outer arm, getting a shiver. "We want to protect you, Xander. Not because you're weak or helpless, but because it's what mates do. We protect each other."
"It's a good thing we aren't really our animal selves out on the plains," Xander said quietly, taking another drink. "If I had been injured, the pack would've sent me away or killed me."
"That's the beauty of higher thought, medicine." He looked him over. "Are you all right?"
"Sore." He looked up at him. "My back again." He grimace. "When I spun."
"It happens. I'll work on it later." He kissed him on the temple. "We should go back inside before you get an itchy spot from too much sun." Xander blushed at that. "I knew what you meant, Xander, and I don't mind taking care of you. I don't want it to be because you were doing something stupid and deadly that managed to get you permanently injured." He made his mate look at him. "Then I would have to yell and spank you. You'd deserve it for not telling me."
"You ever hit me...."
"I'd never hit you in anger, but sometimes you do things that make me want to spank you." He stared him down. "Buying my nephew a sports car was one of them."
"It's the one from the other house."
"I realize that now. Yelina is still throwing fits."
"It was that or he'd have bought his own. I'm only letting him use it."
"That's fine, but it's still not a good idea." He stole a kiss. "Come on, we'll work on your back and then you can tell me what sort of couch we're replacing the broken one with." Xander nodded, getting up and helping him up, carrying both their bottles inside. Horatio took the rest of Xander's. "What are we going to do with the hidden house?" he asked quietly while he worked.
"I like it," he moaned, shifting back into the warm, dry hands. "Thank you."
"I don't mind taking care of these injuries but from now on, you and I will go hunting together, even if you do have to bring Willow or Buffy," he ordered quietly.
"Good boy. Remember, good boys who follow the few house rules get rewarded."
"Really hot sex?"
"Or the ability to buy me a *single* present if you want to do that instead."
"Hmm, only a single one?"
"Single, nothing over a thousand dollars, and nothing jewelry either," he ordered.
"Okay, I wouldn't mind that. I started a load of socks."
"Thank you. You don't have to spoil me but I know it makes you happy, Xander." He got back to work on the boy's lower back, making him moan and go limp suddenly. "That got it?" Xander nodded. "Better?"
"All better. Thank you." He flipped over, pulling his mate down to kiss him. "I love you. You know that, right?" Horatio nodded. "The same as you know I think you fuss over nothing sometimes?"
"We all have our quirks."
"I thought that was kinks," he teased.
"Most people have both," he offered, smiling at him. "You're still in trouble."
Horatio took another kiss. "Not major trouble since you did bring backup, even though it was a pregnant woman and a former slayer."
"They're still skilled."
"That's not the point. Think about Willow getting hurt, Xander."
"Why do you think I locked her in the car?" He looked back at him. "Not like I was going to risk my niece."
"Ryan said the ultrasound showed a boy."
Xander just smirked. "Tim told her last night to pray for an answer. It'd happen."
"If they say so." He stole another kiss. "I should get back to work." He yawned. "I don't think I could function though."
Xander flipped over and sat in his lap, kissing and nuzzling him. "Good boys who go to work get surprised with a new couch when they get home. They also get to say if it's fabric or leather."
"Hmm, stainproof fabric," he ordered quietly. "Leather gets sticky in humidity." Xander nodded, kissing him gently. "Thank you. Something coordinating?"
"I'll bring in pictures and call Di if I get stuck."
"Good boy." He yawned again. "Sorry, I'm still tired."
"Go to work, find something interesting, then come home and nap, babe. I'll be here with the new couch."
"Fine." He smiled at him. "Take out? So I don't have to cook?"
"Sure. Need more fudge for your car?" he teased.
"No I got told that was cruel and unusual punishment by a judge. He said I had to quit doing it." He took another kiss, then stood them up, letting Xander slide down his front. "I'll go back to work and you'll behave."
"Yes, dear." He grinned at him, walking him out to his SUV. Then Xander bounced back inside and grabbed his wallet, keys, and ID case, heading out to his car. He got in and settled into the seat. He was just as tired as Horatio, but he was on a mission. He could nap when they got a sofa.
Speed looked up as Horatio walked in. "I'm impressed, you came back."
"Xander's getting a new couch to take the place of the broken one."
"Interesting. Hopefully he remembers to remove the guns?" Horatio moaned and nodded. "Good. Go do something in your office. The Chief's called twice and I told him you were working at home."
"Crap," he muttered, heading that way. He called him since his voicemail light was flashing. "It's Horatio. No, I went home to talk to my errant mate. Why?" He listened to the report on the scene they had left. "We had no idea if it was stolen or not or if it was a scene. All I know is that the people who ran out of there had been threatening my husband. He went to face them down, I went to stop him, and Mr. Wolfe went to stop his wife from helping my husband." He listened. "I had no idea Speedle was carrying a crossbow or why, sir." He grimaced. "Thank you, sir. Of course." He hung up and put his head down, then called Speed. "Come up with a good reason why you had the crossbow, call the Chief back." He hung up and finished putting his head down, falling asleep there. It was only the third time in his career, it could be excused.
Xander got the page and frowned, calling the office. "Harris." He listened. "Gee, Chief, I don't know what you want....." He listened. "No, they were threatening to kill me." He snorted. "Chief, where were *you* last night?" he asked dryly, smirking at the salesman coming over. "Hold on." He moved the mouthpiece. "Couch, blue, green, maybe dark red. Comfy enough to sleep on, stainproof, need it today if possible, his house is a bit more modern than my tastes."
"All right. Let's walk while you finish that."
Xander nodded, following along. "Sorry, Chief. Broke the couch. No, I was bouncing on it and I broke the couch. The day after the really good sex actually. Why?" He smirked at the salesman, shrugging. "Why would I care what they left? Wrong person for that, boss. Yeah, and I'm not the one who does crime scene stuff. What do you mean you can't wake Horatio up?" He snorted and rolled his eyes. "Yay. Thank you." He hung up and called his father. "Daddy, what's wrong with Horatio and why do *I* have to go back to that scene?" He listened and grumbled. "Fine." He hung up and looked at him. "Let's make this quick, I had to threaten someone earlier who was threatening my life. The cops want to know why."
"How's this one?" he asked, pointing at one.
Xander looked, then sat down. "It's squishy. Good for napping, fabric, stainproof, green, dark blue, maybe deep red. Today. Must be able to have sex on it." That got a small blush. "Not like I'm not honest. Oh, it's also got to have a small amount of ground clearance, I've got to hide a gun under it. My mate's a cop." The man's eyes went wide. "We've had someone try to break in and shoot my mate for being a good cop. So, yeah." He pulled out the pictures. "That's what we presently have, that's a closer image of the pattern on the other things, we need something good."
"Sure," he said, flipping through them. He walked him to the set he currently had, letting him see it. "Want something just like it?" Xander shook his head and headed for a dark blue sofa, laying down on it and wiggling. "That's fairly narrow for... napping, sir."
Xander nodded. "It is. It's also a bit hard. Got something just slightly wider and deeper than that? Cuddleable sort?"
"I do," he admitted, leading him into the back. "This just came in. Someone ordered it but didn't like the color."
Xander sat down, wiggling some, testing it. "A bit soft." He laid back and imagined himself taking a nap. Then the salesman woke him up. "Sorry, up all night in the club teasing." He sat up, nodding. "I like it. How much and can it be delivered today?"
"If you pay the extra rush fee." He smiled and handed back the pictures, taking the tag off the couch. He led Xander to the nearest register, letting him fill out the delivery slip while he ran the credit card. He winced. "Sir?"
Xander took it back and handed over another one. "I'll check on that later. Sorry." He got back to it, watching as that one went through. He grinned and finished the paperwork. "If I'm not there, knock on the neighbor on the right's door and make sure there's no guns hidden under the couch please. I already cleaned all the change out." He took his card back and grinned. "I'm off to annoy others now. Have a nice day."
"You...you too," he agreed, waving at his back. He looked at the name on the card, then smirked. "I see. I've seen him on tv about cases." He filed that away and took the delivery tag where it needed to go.
Xander walked up to where Eric was working, clearing his throat. "Why did you get it?"
"Part of the last one," he said, looking up at him. "You're in my light."
"The chief told me to come bother your ass about this shit."
"Quit swearing," he complained, going back to work. "They left stuff saying it was all for you."
"How much of it was stolen?"
"We're not sure."
"Then sort it out and let me know. The rest I'll give away or something." He grimaced in distaste. "Skanky cheerleader vampires," he complained, walking off shaking his head. "Why me?"
"I was wondering the same thing," Eric called. "Get back here!" Xander turned and trudged back. "Xander," he said patiently.
"Yes, pookie." The patrol guys all snickered at that. "He swims with me. His mother steals my son to watch." He looked at him and grinned. "What did you need to know that you didn't get from Speed, Horatio, Ryan, Willow, or Buffy?"
"Uh-huh. So the piles of dust....."
"Cordy, Dru, a few other cheerleaders, Harmony."
"Crap," he muttered. "Anything else you want to admit to?"
Xander stared at him for a moment. "I had to stake my ex, Eric. I was on a clubbing and teasing high and now I've got to let the people moving the couch in. They wanted to kill me to give Angel more power and my skills. Not like I was going to let it happen."
"Fine," he agreed, patting him on the arm. "Go home and rest. I'll get the rest from Speed."
"Sure. But I still have to put the couch in." He walked off again, heading for the house.
Eric shook his head. He even gave orders like Horatio at times. Those two were bad for each other. He went back to his cataloging. He knew a lot more about jewelry than any single man really should, but it was probably useful on the job. A small letter appeared next to his hand and fluttered down onto the pile of ashes, letting him pick it up and look at it. An account from Willow, who said some very interesting things. He bagged it too, then went back to picking up the pile of dust. He had to do this by the book since there were officers involved. IAB had already been here.
Horatio walked in and saw the new couch, and his naked, dripping with sweat mate sleeping on it. "Decided it needed christened?" he called loudly.
"No," Xander moaned, forcing himself to sit up. "I was on my way to the shower after my run. I sat down." He held his head, looking at him, earning a smile. "Like it? It's a bit squishier than we had but comfortable." Horatio came over to sit next to him, nodding that he did like it. "I went with the dominant pattern in the other pieces instead of going for what we used to have."
"It goes well enough," he promised, taking a kiss. Xander leaned against his side, yawning. "Don't do that," he ordered through a yawn of his own. "Dinner?"
"Chinese, fridge," Xander said, closing his eyes again and curling up. One of his hands found Horatio's closest one, holding it. Horatio smiled down at him. "Quit grinning, I can be cute and cuddly. It's my kink."
"Cuddling is a right, not a kink," he assured him, smoothing down some of the damp hair. "I can't believe you went for a run today."
"I always run on Tuesdays." He yawned again. "I only did three miles. We can do two tomorrow when you take yours."
"If you want." He felt himself drifting off, letting go now that he was home. "Baby or anyone?"
"Ray Jr. but he's in the office doing the checkbook. I used your card but I already sent in a payment. They're still screwing with mine."
"That's fine, Xander." They drifted off together, Horatio eventually laying down, his last thought being that it was a very comfortable couch. Maybe he'd replace the chair no one wanted to sit in soon.
Ray Jr. came out of the office, awwing at the cuteness of Xander spread out across his uncle's chest, naked but okay. He went into the kitchen, taking a carton of the chinese food, then headed back to slave for Xander. He hated doing this stuff on his own, and now Xander had bribed him with being able to keep the sports car for another month if he did it for him. Maybe he'd earn it free and clear by the time he graduated. He sat down, dialing his mother and putting her on speaker phone but turning it down. "Mom, me. I'm at Uncle Horatio's."
"Why?" she asked patiently.
"Xander bribed me with further use of his car if I balanced his accounts for him." She sighed. "Mom, I'm a teenage guy, I need a car," he pointed out. "Otherwise my dates will be like last night, in the clubs."
"Fine, son. You may *borrow* his car."
"I'm hoping to work it off by continuing his mundane secretarial duties," he joked, eating a bite. "They're asleep on the new couch. It is very comfy, I tested it while Xander was out for his run."
"That's fine, son. Let them know that the stolen items were found and we need his reference file in tomorrow." Ray grunted, writing down that note. "Are his accounts still being held?"
"Two of the six. The ones he's got the cards off of. He made a few calls to fix that earlier. Any word on the FBI giving up?"
"They showed up today but Ryan took them on. I'm not sure what he said but the agent took off at a dead run."
"Probably something about what Willow's found. Hopefully she's still at home too."
"She's still in the break room reading, son. He's not letting her anywhere out of his sight." She sighed again. "We really should talk, Raymond."
"Your clothing, the clubs you go to, what you did last night in them. How your father was very proud about you being a slut."
"Well, except for the last, I like who I am, I'd date if I had a real chance of finding a decent girlfriend, and he can kiss my ass and worship it at the same time. Anything else, mom?"
"I want you to quit working for Diana, son."
He burst out laughing. "Sure, mom. Sure. You know it won't stop the teenage male sluttiness issues, right?" She groaned. "Come on, mom, I'm earning good money doing this. I could care less about people wanting my ass."
"I don't want you to have the same problems Xander does, son."
"I'm flattered you think I can draw people like he did, but I know I have *nothing* on the hips of Darkness, or his howling animal nature that came out on stage and drew most of them. The same as Xander said this time was more about Dru treating him nice before she sacrificed him to a Dark God."
"Yes, son, I heard that from Speedle."
"Yeah, well, not the same thing, mom. Not like the vampires like me. Especially not that one since she's gone. Since that one guy, no one's shown anything other than lust for me. If they had, I'd have told you."
"Son, I heard about that one girl who tried to stalk you."
"I told you about her."
"No you didn't."
"Yes, I did, I asked your advice over dinner one night."
"That was her?"
"She was pretty."
"Mom, she's not pretty. She's very not pretty. She's fugly, zitty, and snot ridden. She's not pretty. If she looked pretty, she must've done something cosmetically. Sorry, but no."
"Yeah, her. Zits'r'us. Runny nose constantly. Cheeks sunken in even though she's overweight. Not what I'd call pretty, mom. She looked like what I picture a plague victim to look like when they have pustules."
"If you say so. The pictures of the plea bargain were decent."
"Her lawyer obviously cleaned her up so there wouldn't be any pity sentences." He ate another bite. "See if you can find out what the FBI told Ryan? That way I can leave a note?"
"If you want, son. What are you doing for him?"
"His checkbook, his credit card statement. Uncle H's credit card and check book statements. Xander's trust statement. Someone made a deposit into it recently. Typing two versions of the 'sorry, couldn't help you with a scholarship' letter for the board's approval. The general secretarial duties for them." He ate another bite. "Uncle Horatio needs a better computer in here." He made a note of that and ate another bite. "They're napping on the couch. Xander went for a three mile run then collapsed naked."
"I really do wish he'd stop that," she complained.
"It's his house and it's not like I haven't seen him naked before. Di has had us changing in front of each other and it's not like the spray on stuff can be underwear." She spluttered. "Truth, not like I don't have one of my own either. His isn't that different and I still like girls." Someone slammed the front door. "Gotta go." He got up, going out there to stop his father. "They both need their rest. I'm in the office." His father shrugged and followed him so Ray went back to his duties and his dinner. "What did you need?"
"To talk to my brother."
"He's napping. He went right from the club to the office."
Ray moaned. "He's too old for that."
Ray snorted, looking at his old man. "Says who? Some outdated version of what a man is?" He got up and closed the door, checking on them. "I've got it. Go back to sleep, Xander." That got a nod and Xander put his head back down. "Sorry, but Uncle Horatio is still fairly young, father. If he wants to indulge his husband, he is more than capable of it." He got back to his accounting project. "Maybe I should take accounting as a minor," he mused, shaking his head. His father gave him an odd look. "In return for doing this stuff, I get to keep using Xander's car."
"Oh." He nodded. "That's important at your age, especially with your conquest rate."
Ray put down his pen and looked at him. "As I just told Mom, I'd date if there were good prospects anywhere near me, Father. Since there aren't, I'm relieving the stress. That's all that is. Yes, I'm aware that some people think I'm too young to have sex in the clubs, but yay. I like my life. I'm very careful when I do things like that. Xander gave me the *extended* sex talk." Ray Sr. shuddered at that. "I can identify diseases on sight for some of them. I'm also very careful and I always carry good condoms, ones I buy instead of taking the cheaper, thinner things from the health department. I know I'm clean, but I'm not taking that chance. Now, is there anything else?"
"Drugs?" he asked quietly.
Ray Jr. looked at him. "With your stunning example?" he shot back bitterly. His father nodded at that. "I'll admit to a few shots now and then. Nothing further." That got another nod. "Anything else or can I get back to earning my ride?"
"I wanted to make sure you knew what you were doing and you were playing safely, Ray. I don't want you to be hurt like some of the club whores are."
Ray stared his old man down. "One more word, father, and I will walk out there and tell Xander *exactly* how old Suzie was when she got pregnant with Madison. Since that's slightly below the limit of consent and Xander's a fierce believer in those things at times....."
His father nodded quickly. "I understand."
"Good. Leave Madison alone. You're confusing her." He stared him down, then suddenly smirked. "I feel like the Godfather for some reason."
"You're rather dressed like it today, son," his father noted bitterly.
"I go to school with two of the local boss's sons, father. They like how Uncle Xander dresses me too." He stared him down. "Anything else?" That got a quick headshake. "You're positive?"
"I am. As long as you stay careful and safe so that you don't catch anything. Though your mother and I would like it if you quit being such a slut. It'd make her happier if you dated."
"Sure, but the only choices I have are mafia princesses, two really smart chicks who mystify everyone but each other, and they're together, or a few girls who're seriously bad for my mental state considering they make me gooey minded from their breast jobs. I've discovered that I hate breast implants. They're really nasty and lead to lack of feeling. But hey, I know what I don't want in a girlfriend. It'll save time later when I get to be pickier."
Ray rolled his eyes. "The whole point of dating is learning that, son."
"Father, I already know that I want a woman with brains at least a good as mine, one who appreciates my body but doesn't want me for it or wants to worship it, one who thinks I'm funny now and then, and one who thinks I've got a bit of growing up to do. One without breast implants if possible and I'd like one that's fairly responsive in bed, the car, the club, the closet, wherever. The last two would be ideal but I'm going for the first list first."
Ray snorted. "You're going to be lonely for a very long time, son."
He looked at him. "I know two like that, but they're both presently dating. I can wait and make due with stress relief."
"If your mother kicks you out for that stress relief habit?" he asked.
"I've got money, Uncle Horatio knows I'm a slut so I can probably still have his storage room, and I'm sure I can get on as Xander's social secretary during the summers." He stared him down then ate another bite of dinner. "I do have to note here that she's never said anything about kicking me out for my stress relief problems. She's said she wants me to quit working with Di because she thinks it'll get people after me like come after Xander. Which is a reasonable worry but I know I'm not Xander and I can't live up to his reputation or moves. I'm like his slightly less hip younger brother." He shrugged. "I can live with that stigma."
Ray walked out of the house using the door to the beach so he wouldn't wake the owners, heading back to his car. He found Xander standing there. "Didn't mean to wake you."
"Kinda hard not to with how upset you're making him again. By the way, I already know how old Suzie was. I consider that borderline at that age. I wouldn't give Ray that young a stepmother." Ray nodded, getting into his car and heading off. Xander went back inside, smiling at Horatio, who was still asleep. He walked into the office. "You keep being my assistant, you can have the car. She kicks you out for being a slut, Horatio's already said you can still have the storage room. You had better never have fans like mine or I will be finding out why and kicking your ass over it probably. You should try to date that Sesra girl. She's pretty, smart, and cute. Plus she gives your ass hot looks when you walk past." He grinned. "Anything from the banks?"
"No, but mom said Ryan made one of the FBI agents take a run for his life."
"Cool. I'll find out why later. Anything else?"
Ray found the note. "They need your reference file for the non-stolen stuff." He handed that note over. "Uncle Horatio could use an update to his computer."
"He said I could only give him one present." He shrugged and put that note on top of Horatio's inbox. "Anything else?"
"Just one thing," he offered, handing over a note he had been passed at school. "I have no idea what to do about that. And I'll get more lo mein for you two."
"Thanks, he does like it." He looked over the note, then groaned. "Horatio!" He snapped awake and Xander waved the note. "The mob wants your nephew to work for them."
He groaned and came in, taking the note to read it. "No," he told Ray. "I'd hate to have to arrest you." Ray nodded at that. "You're handing it over?"
"I am. I'm going to school with two sons and about six daughters at the moment. I'm not sure why they want *me* instead of someone in their own groups."
"You're more untouchable to the average cop because of your uncle," Xander said bitterly. "This we will have a meeting about tomorrow, Ray. Any other issues?"
"Can I install my new game in here too?"
Horatio shook his head. "Work uses only, Ray. Sorry. Use Xander's for that."
"His is more ancient than yours, Uncle H." He grinned. "You could use an update. Oh, Mom said they weeded out all the stolen stuff. They need the reference file when you come in tomorrow."
"I put the note on your inbox, on top of your calendar," Xander promised, taking a kiss. "We're going to bed." Ray grinned and nodded. "Lock up when you go."
"Sure." He waved at his uncle. "Shoo, let me get back to balancing all the checkbooks and stuff." Horatio gave him a look. "It earns me more use of the car."
"If Xander said it's all right I don't care." He walked off, taking Xander to bed for real this time. The couch was nice but the bed was always better for sleeping in. "I heard you walk out. Why?"
"Yelling at the stupidity of your brother. Ray threatened to tell me how old Suzie was when she got pregnant if his dad didn't leave him alone."
"Technically underaged but she was on the streets and a runaway at that time."
"I know, which is why I'm considering it borderline at the moment. I warned him about that." He stole a kiss and snuggled down into the bed. "Come rest, Horatio. I need sleep before I suck you off for breakfast." Horatio smiled and laid down with him, letting his mind go over the family's problems while the rest of him slept. He'd have a good idea in the morning.
Horatio finished flipping through the binder, looking over at Eric as he came in with the boxes of remaining things. He handed it over. "There's things in there I hadn't seen before."
"They're in the safe at the bank," Eric assured him. "He was planning on doing another auction this holiday." He sat down with everything, the binder already open, taking the pictures they'd need and descriptions as well. "Phil said to go ahead and do this since we're already doing the rest." Horatio nodded at that. "Why were they threatening him?"
"They wanted to sacrifice him so Angel could gain his skills," he offered quietly.
"Cordelia also said he was being treated like a God now because of the sacrifice and that he'd fall if he didn't die. Threatened that I'd leave him."
Eric gave him a harsh look. "You leave Xander and I'm not going to work for you. Speed and I will kill you and present your body to Xander so he'll quit crying and trying to slit his own wrists. I love you like an uncle, H, but Xander's like my kid brother and he's Speed's son."
"I know," he agreed, smiling slightly. "It'll never happen, Eric. Even Xander knows that now."
"Good. 'Bout time. The kid's got the worst case of low self esteem about anything but his attraction of anyone I've seen."
"I know. I'm still working on that. He knows he's special and loved by me." He smiled, looking at the box of things. "How much of it did he keep?"
"Enough to need an escort back to Christie's, H. When Danny left, I sent him home with pictures and a list. He'll talk to Don about doing security for him again." He gave him a sly look. "You know, the convention's coming up...."
"We're all going," he promised dryly, rolling his eyes. "You're the only one without enough leave time. You need to not miss a day for the next three paydays."
"Can I borrow?"
"I'll try," he promised. "How is Marisol?"
"She was pretty sick last night. She said she'd pop around tonight." Horatio nodded at that. "I was adding weeks last night. She'll be fertile during the convention too."
"We'll figure that out, Eric."
"Are you sure Xander won't relent on letting a doctor do it?" Horatio shook his head. "Why not?"
"People like the Watchers who would take any extra and use it," he said grimly. Eric shuddered at that. "He's very scared they'll try to get him that way. The same as they would Willow through any donations Ryan may've done."
"I doubt he'd do anything like that."
"Me either," he admitted. He shrugged. "She and Xander have already talked about that. He's the one insisting it be done the natural way. I have my suspicions but I think he sees this as the only way I'll ever touch a woman again." Eric nodded. "He knows I won't need one."
"Yeah, but you were het for a very long time," Eric said dryly, smirking at him. "He knows you've still got urges since he does. Especially when faced with Stella in Di's bikini." Horatio let out a small whimper. That had tested everyone's resolve not to jump the poor woman. "Therefore, anytime you really want to touch a woman again, you'd better be prepared to be a daddy."
"One's enough for me and I do wonder where he gets these ideas."
"Willow," he said firmly, cracking Horatio up. "You think I'm kidding? Ask Wolfe." He looked around. "Ryan!" He came walking in. "Tell him where Xander got his 'cheating' policy."
"Willow," he said with a small smirk. "She caught you looking and knew you wanted another kid sometime. She suggested to Xander that it'd be a good way to do that since he's still adamant about not leaving anything behind for the Watchers or Angel to use against you or him. Kills two birds with one stone and this way you'll be okay as long as you don't end up with eight or nine kids."
Horatio shook his head. "Tell your wife I'm perfectly satisfied with Xander, I didn't need a woman, but it is nice to have another child. Then try to make her see it's not necessary, Mr. Wolfe."
"Hey, I tried," he noted dryly. "She's still worried that the two donations I gave to a sperm bank back in college may come back and hurt us when the Watchers use that against us by creating a child and holding it hostage."
"You did?" Eric asked.
"I was broke, Eric, and I drank myself stupid later that night since I felt like I sold my ass." He looked at their boss again, shrugging a bit. "I'm wondering if they've got a good reason to be paranoid."
"I think they might," he admitted. "What happened with the FBI?"
"They asked me who the hacker was. I told them to take a flying fuck on the Sears Tower, that my wife was cranky and pregnant. He backed away slowly, then turned and ran, when I offered to let him talk to her to see if she was less cranky." Horatio smiled. "They're still working on it?" That got a nod. "That sucks."
"It does," Eric agreed. "At least Xander doesn't have to worry about tuition and things."
"No, and he kept the ransom money locally," Horatio admitted. "He's very not pleased with the banks and he's filing a counter to the order to freeze his funds today. He's taking this very badly."
"Well, he didn't have it before. He clearly doesn't want to go back to where his parents were. It's really classical, Horatio."
"It may be, but I'm worried that he'll draw more attention to himself this way."
"If they ask how he got the money, all he's got to do is produce a few of them and let them tell the court. They were tipping a stripper with something pretty." He grinned. "By the way, something pretty just got delivered to the front desk. I caught the receptionist trying to hide it. IAB is still handling it even though they're wary of being around you right now. They said you're in a bad mood and you scare Phil."
"I do not. Most of the time," Horatio offered, heading off to butt into that as well.
"You really did?" Eric asked. "That's such a normal college guy thing to do and I never pictured you like that, Ryan."
"Yeah, well, I did my fair share of frat parties my first two years too," he noted dryly. "I wasn't always this uptight."
"You're not as uptight as you were when you first got here," Eric assured him. "She's done good things for you." He smirked. "Want to help?"
"No thanks, I've got a double homicide and a suicide on my plate. Wish I could trade you. This looks a lot easier." He walked out, heading back to his lab.
Eric pulled out a stool and got back to work. It was an easy case but it was so BORING!
Xander walked off the plane, giving Don a meek and sorry look. "Not my fault?" he offered, holding up the handcuffs.
"What did you do?" he asked as he pulled him over to take them off.
"Horatio thought I was teasing the girls on the beach by adjusting myself and he'd had a bad day at work. Someone threatened to rape me in front of him. He was making sure it couldn't happen and I would be a good boy."
"I heard about that night in the club from Danny," he noted dryly, walking him off. "Case?"
"Security, like last time." He grinned at the guards coming his way. "Hi, guys." They nodded. "Are you my dutiful escort?"
"Yup. I'm on suspension because I smacked Sheldon on the ass playfully. He laughed but the head of the labs caught me and told my boss, who had me suspended for touching another guy. She also told my dad so he's yelling at me daily."
"Can I talk to your dad?"
"Nope. He'd shy away from you as soon as he realized who you are, Xan." He held open the door, letting him walk in front of him. "It's the gay thing, it'll die down soon enough."
"They don't like the Foundation?"
"Not really. Not that I give a damn but not really. I made my point really clear at the top of my lungs and brought in my girlfriend. So now everyone thinks I'm bi." Xander rolled his eyes. "My boss really hates it but I don't care."
"I thought your boss liked Horatio."
"She does, but Horatio's not one of *her* guys. I am." He tapped on the security window. "Jewel case, Harris?" He flashed his badge. "I'm his escort."
Xander stepped up, pulling out ID. "Hi again." He smiled. "My third trip."
"You a jewelry salesman?"
"No, former stripper. They tipped me a lot." He shrugged and opened the case, checking it over. "When did Horatio put in that?" he complained, looking at one thing. "I thought I was keeping that to break apart if we had more problems." He shrugged and tossed it into the box, relocking it. He signed all the forms and took the second case, checking it out and then signing those forms. He let Don get one while he got the other. "Just think, this is after they weeded out the stolen stuff that had been sent to me," he teased.
Don shuddered. "You poor thing. Who was it this time?"
"Dru, Harmony, Cordy, her cheerleaders."
"Hold on, Cordy, your ex Cordy?" He nodded, sighing a bit. "Tell me she didn't turn."
"Yup and I staked her," he offered quietly. "Them all really." He let Don lead the way to the baggage claim, gathering his two bags. "Cheline is expecting us tomorrow. Bank drop?"
"Hotel. They've got a safe."
"Cool." He followed him out of the airport, heading for the car. "So, what did you get since the last time I was up here?"
"A new Corvair." He grinned at him. "You?"
"I had the car at the hideyhole, which I'm letting Ray Jr. use as long as he does the secretarial crap around the house and balances my checkbook for me so I can't make more math errors." Don snickered at that. "I bought a new couch. I was jumping up and down on it and it broke." That got a louder snicker. "Horatio called?"
"Danny told us." He popped his trunk and let Xander put everything inside. "You okay?" he asked quietly, leaning against his car.
"No, but I've been here before," he pointed out. "I survived it then. I'll do it this time since we were over long ago. Plus it doesn't hurt that she wanted to kill me to hype Angel's powers or that she threatened all this stuff was because I was due to be a sacrifice and if I didn't die, everything would bottom out around me. Including my husband leaving me. We assured her that wasn't true."
"Anything else you wanna share?"
"I want Marisol to get pregnant very quickly," he said quietly, closing the trunk. "So I don't have to be jealous. I feel like it's pathetic."
"Do you know what that clique in Britain would do if they got a kid that was related to us?" he hissed. "How they'd use it?" Don nodded. "I can't risk that, Don. I really can't."
"I understand. You still could've said no."
"She wanted it more than she wanted to get better," he offered miserably. He walked around to the passenger's side and got in. "At least she's not trying to steal him."
"No, she's not, that's a bonus of the whole situation." He stroked down his arm. "It'll be okay soon, Xander. Cordy and Dru's wacky prophecy beside the point. Marisol and the new baby beside the point. All that. Remember, Horatio loves you more than life. He's proved it."
"I know. I told Cordy that."
"Good. Did you qualify it later?" he asked patiently.
"I told him if he made me tell a lie I'd kill us both."
"I can see you doing that really." He started the car and backed out. "So, what's in there this time?"
"Stuff Dru and Cordy picked out. Not all of it's tacky. They had some good taste. Some of the tackier crap I might keep so we can break it up and sell it in an emergency. We're still debating that. Horatio doesn't think it's necessary but I want a hedge fund, just in case."
"That's usually a good idea," Don agreed. "Especially with the threat of them making everything bottom out around you, I'd be extra careful too." Xander nodded, smiling at him. "He doesn't?"
"He thinks, even if it does happen, that it can't touch the stuff Grandfather left me." He slumped down some. "I don't know anymore. Right now I'm focused on this, getting the FBI off our asses, and getting what's mine back."
"They're still going?"
"Still have two of the three they originally had locked locked."
"Craptastic actually," Xander said bitterly. "I've already filed something in open court. One of them is my trust. The other is some of the stuff that Grandfather left me. It could take months, Don." Don nodded, changing lanes. "Is that lights behind us or am I having a stroke?"
"No, it's lights." He pulled over, letting them pull up behind him. He pulled out his badge, looking at the patrol guy. "I'm on escort duty. Is it vital at the moment?"
"Yes, sir. Your passenger is on the no-fly list?"
"No I'm not. I just came in from Miami."
"It was a late addition?" he offered, shrugging. "Not a clue why, sir. They want you back at the airport."
"Fat chance," Xander sighed. "They can come to me at my hotel. I've had enough of the fucking FBI hating me for being gay and supporting other gay men." The cop backed off. "That's what this is about. I support other gay men and I'm a happily married gay man. They want me, they can come to my hotel and you can tell the bitches I said to bring their really fugly wigs too!"
"Calm down, Xander," Don ordered, rolling his eyes. He looked at the patrol guy. "FBI or not?"
"FBI," he admitted. "They didn't say why, just that he was a new addition to the list and they wanted him back to talk to him."
"They can nibble my sac," Xander told him.
"Xander," Don said patiently.
"I'm sick and tired of them, Don! So what if I'm gay! Yay me, I take it up the ass and love it. It makes me a stronger man."
Don looked at the patrol guy, who was trying not to laugh. "Can you call and tell them to meet him at his hotel?"
"Sure, Detective Flack." He radioed that in, getting a complaint back. "Sorry, sir. They're halfway there, Detective Flack has sensitive materials on him, he's on escort duty."
"It's jewelry for an auction," Xander called. "I've got the paperwork from Miami if they need it." He rested his head back against the seat again. "I'm sorry, Don," he sighed.
"No, I'd be throwing major fits too, Xander." He patted him on the chest, the only safe place he could reach easily. "Just calm down, nephew."
The patrol guy listened, then looked at him. "You're suspended?"
"Yeah, I'm on the board of his gay charity and my boss hates that."
"Ah. Pity. You seem like a nice guy. They said they'd meet you both back at that hotel, they wanted to look at this stuff...."
"They have no right to do that," Xander said in a sing-song voice.
"They think they do, sir."
Xander looked over at him, shaking his head. "I'm married to a CSI. No they don't. But that's okay, I'll tell them that myself." That got a smile. "Should I be expecting a stripsearch too?"
"I hope not, sir. You seem nice enough."
"Until you fuck with what's mine," Xander agreed dryly. "Thank you, officer. I know it wasn't you, you're just doing your job. Please, feel free to run the other direction." He smiled sweetly. "I'm about to smack the shit out of the FBI."
"Calm down," Don ordered again, patiently even. He smiled at the officer. "Thanks."
"Welcome, detective. I hope you get it worked out."
"Me too, I'd hate to have to sue the department with my girlfriend. Or move to Miami." He started the car and headed off, going right to the hotel, with a stop through a drive-thru to give the Feebs time to get there. He looked at the guy who was in charge. He was in front and the others were cowering behind him. "Let us get him checked in."
"Sure," he agreed, staring at Xander. "Mr. Harris."
He looked at him. "Asslicker." The agent sneered. Xander flipped him off. "You know I was actually in a good mood, even when my husband handcuffed me so I'd quit and let him have my son for a bit. Pity you ruined it," he said, glaring now. He checked in, smiling at the receptionist. "Hola."
"Good morning, sir. Name?"
"Harris. I've also got safe reservations?"
"Yes, sir, I see that on here. We'll come up to your room and get it for you. Is that why they're here?"
"No, they're persecuting me for bing gay and sticking up for other gay men. They think it's a terrorist activity to be gay." She gave him an odd look. "Really. They've filed papers saying that supporting gay men with scholarships and things is a terrorist activity. So I'm presently suing their asses. This is just another salvo."
"That's fine, sir. Can I make note of that?"
"Sure. Not an issue. The more the merrier according to my attorneys."
"Thank you, sir." She typed that note in and a manager came over, letting her whisper in his ear. He nodded so she finished signing him in. "Security protocol."
"I understand," he sighed, nodding. "Everything paid for?"
"Yes, sir, plus two hundred on the tab for the minibar and things."
"Thank you." He smiled and took his keys, handing one to Don. "Want help with the stuff?"
"I can get one of the security guys to escort me and the bellhop. Just stay calm, Xander."
"I am, for now." He looked at the suits, sneering again. "I'm going to my room. You can follow if you must. That way your faulty thinking isn't put into the real press." He walked off, heading for the elevator. One of them got on with him so he stared at him. "What?" he demanded.
"We could've settled this quietly if you hadn't filed the papers, Mr. Harris."
Xander snorted. "I heard that a month ago and yet two of my accounts are still frozen, my license is still frozen, I'm suddenly on the no-fly list?" He stared at him then the elevator landed and he got off. "Bet me quietly will do it this time," he said coldly, heading to his room. He opened the door, slamming it after him. Don had a key, he could let him in. Xander went to call Horatio, finding him busy. So he called Speed. "Dad, me, the FBI just put me on the no-fly list and I'm in New York now. They're here at the hotel. So far I'm staying calm and Don's trying to keep me that way. Pray really hard I stay calm, okay?" He hung up and sat down, arranging himself to make the best impression of menacing he could.
Speed hung up. "Um, Horatio!" he called, waving a hand. "Slight issue." Horatio glared at him. "The FBI was waiting on your husband in New York. They've put him on the no- fly list?" Horatio's growl came across the field to him. "He's a bit pissed and Don is trying to keep him calm. He said to start praying he stays calm. It might be a long trip this time."
"No it won't be." He looked back at their target. "I'm sure it'll be fixed soon, Speed." One way or another.
Xander looked over as Don walked in with the bellhop, taking his wallet out to tip him, earning a smile. "Thank you, dear. Put the bags in on the bed and the security cases in here please." That got a nod and they did that. He looked at Don. "Long wait for the elevator?"
"They tried to confiscate them."
"Ah. Pity. Kick the minions out," he told the head guy. "I'm not dealing with lesser beings today."
"Go," he ordered. They retreated to the doorway but stayed inside. "I didn't have you put on the no-fly list, Mr. Harris."
"Funny, the patrol guy said he was," Don said bitterly. He sat down, looking at the cases. "That's not ours," he noted. Xander looked at him. "Ours had red handles." He looked at the security guys, who pointed at the minions. Don licked his lips and pointed at Xander. "He's a former stripper, he's married to a cop, he's been gifted with shit against his will, that's why he's up here, and they're pissing off the guy who is a marksman and a slight expert in explosives. You or them?"
"Them, sir," the security guys noted. "Should we get it for you?"
Don looked at the head guy, who glared at the minions. They took off with him to get the cases, bringing them back and opening them in front of them. "Thank you," he snapped. "Out!" They ran. He looked at the security guy then at the other two cases. "Are they full?"
Xander nodded. "They're the two I had mailed." He got up to unlock them, handing over the paperwork from Miami. Then he started pulling stuff out. The security guys' eyes bugged. "An ex who went psycho. She was giving it to me so I'd feel like the God she was going to sacrifice me to." He dumped out the rest and checked the invoice. "We're missing some," he announced. Don opened the other cases and poured them out. "I made the invoice lists myself."
"Maybe Horatio kept out a few pieces or the baby helped," Don offered.
"No, sir, we did remove two that were slightly radiating to test them," one of the guards offered. "They're in a private box for safety reasons." Xander smiled at that. "I hope you don't mind?"
"Nope, not in the least. I knew I put five hundred on the tab, not two. It's fine. They're probably from someone who had radiation treatments." That got a nod and they left one guy there, taking the rest back downstairs. Xander checked off the rest of the invoices, nodding. "Only three pieces unaccounted for."
"You've got the broach." Xander patted himself down and nodded, marking that off. "That is really ugly."
"That's why I wanted to break it up," Xander admitted. He waved the head suit over, letting him look. "That's the list from Miami, along with the list of stuff that was sent to me that ended up being stolen property and what had been done with that. I will need copies of that for Cheline."
"That's fine, Mr. Harris. Can you please calm down?"
"Nope. You're annoying me and my planet wants to expel you like a kidney stone." The security guy laughed. "They froze my accounts for being gay and helping other gay men. I'm about ready to move to Canada to get away from this idiocy down here."
"Miami would hate to lose your spouse," the head Feeb said, staring at him. "I'm not with them, kid."
"Do I care?" he snorted. "You can be as gay as Mary Poppins' penguin for all I care. You're working for the same people. They're sticking up for this and dragging their feet. I'm not going to go away and they can lick my asshole and use plenty of tongue if they think I will." The agent gave him a horrified look. "Ask me if I care."
"I was sent to straighten this mess out and to get you to drop the suit as soon as it is straightened out, Mr. Harris," he said, straightening up and looking at him. "I'm Deputy Director Fornell. I head one of the branches in DC for special investigations."
"I've heard of you, you're an asshole but supposedly fair," Don admitted.
"I am," he agreed, smirking at him. "I can also deal with your suspension, Detective. Your father and I need to have a talk anyway." He looked at Xander again. "I know that this has been painful. I know that you're angry. I also know that your first instinct is to fight back. Working with me is easier. We've managed to clear up everything but one item. One of the people you gave a scholarship to last year does have terrorist ties."
"It was a scholarship to go to college," Xander said, looking pissed as hell. He held his head, leaning forward. "I doubt he's going to blow up the college, DD Fornell. For all I care, he's going to learn how to suck cock at a frat house." The man paled at that. "So no, it's a *scholarship*. He's gay, they don't like gays in the Middle East. Even if his whole family were terrorists they probably wouldn't accept him if he was sleeping with another guy! They put us to death over there. In some places they use this little wire and a furry cuff to castrate us slowly and painfully. I sincerely doubt he'd be accepted back in those circles."
"Which is working in your favor," he admitted calmly. Xander looked at him. He could see the anger but on top was the starting of hopelessness. Not what he wanted to see. "As I said, I'm willing to work with you on this."
"I'm not going to do a background check for more than being a child molester," Xander said firmly. "I could care less about anything else most of the time. Caring about that stuff is my husband and most of the rest of the board. I'm not letting the FBI tell us who we can and can't award."
"I don't want you to. There are some people who're worried that this sort is applying through these small scholarship funds to stay in the country illegally and cause dissent."
Xander stood up. "Prove it. We require grade statements at midterms or we will rescind the grant." The other man smiled at that. "I can dig out the paperwork if you need it."
"We've already got a copy. Your financial manager was very helpful. We're doing an update and check on him even as we speak. However, there is a mention of a file on you, Mr. Harris. That's what put you on the no-fly zone."
Xander glared at him. "This is about Sunnydale." That got a nod. "Which part?"
"The part where your high school blew up and you were there."
Xander nodded. "Because that wasn't to save hundreds of lives," he noted dryly. "Maybe you should get the film of what *really* happened."
"We did. We're wondering how it got that far."
"Circumstances beyond our control. We couldn't stop it in time." Fornell nodded at that, smirking some. "You wanted us to lay down and die?"
"No, I agree that it needed to be done. Who planted the bombs to blow the thing attacking your graduating class up?" The security guy edged away. He looked at him. "The thing attacking the graduating class was going to kill them all. Someone planted an explosive device to get rid of the thing attacking the graduating class and their families." He looked at Xander again. "Well?"
"More than one person. I'm not saying another word about it. I know all about the statute of limitations."
He pulled the boy into the bedroom, closing the door. "Level with me, kid. You're not in trouble for this but you are under watch. Especially since it was noted that you helped with a later insurgence movement."
"They were trying to torture and maim innocent creatures and ones that weren't. Plus they were trying to take over the world."
"We like that about you guys. So, who did the bomb?"
"If I tell you anything I'll be in a cell so fast I'd never get to see my husband."
"I'm not going to say a word."
"You can't make that promise. You vowed to the law."
Fornell sighed, looking at him. "Okay, let's try it this way. Are you a danger to the current administration?"
"Are they using demonic forces to taint, capture, kill, maim, or torture others? Will it impact my family directly or anyone in my non-immediate family, like the lab people?"
"I hope not. I also hope we're not consorting with demonic elements. Presently."
"Regan did." He shrugged. "As long as those qualifications are met and made, then no. Anything that comes near my family is in trouble however."
"All right, I can see that. What about Miss Rosenburg?"
"She's pregnant with her second child. You come near her, you're touching on my family."
"Is she a danger?"
"Under those same circumstances."
"If I can promise to keep it out of Miami?"
"You can't promise that. You're not in charge of that and even if you were they wouldn't listen," Xander said wisely, staring him down, weight cocked to one side, arms crossed over his chest now. "Why? Why are they worried about me and Willow? Why not Buffy?"
"Not really. She's got the skills, just not the benefits anymore." Fornell moaned. "We all have the skills. What's really behind this?"
"A concubine," he admitted quietly. "She wants you and your sort gone."
"She can tongue me too."
Fornell grimaced. "Can you not give me those mental images, kid?"
"No." He smirked at him. "You tell her the truth. It comes near me and mine, I react. I react strongly and use deadly force if necessary. It stays away from me and mine, and we're fine with me ranting and complaining to those who already knew."
"Like Detective Flack?"
"He's my uncle by marriage."
"I saw that." He quirked an eyebrow up. "Not the point."
"He knew, I had to clue him in once upon a time."
"Okay," he agreed quietly. "That should clear up everything."
"Once everything is cleared up, my accounts are back, I'm off the stupid list, all that stuff, then I'll withdraw my suit."
"We'd like a sign of good faith."
"So would I but I'm dealing with the government. They screw over people for a living." He opened the door and walked out. "He thinks one of the guys we gave a scholarship to was a bad guy," he told Don. "They're checking on him now."
"The other stuff?"
"Not a clue yet." He sat down, watching Fornell say something into his cellphone. "DD Fornell, next time go through my spouse. He's the calm one. It'll go easier. I'm the hothead for all that he's got the red hair."
"We sent someone down there to talk to him but one of the junior members of the team ran him off." He came out, hanging up and sliding his phone back into his jacket pocket. "I'll start the removal process tonight, Mr. Harris. Good luck with your auction."
"If this taints the name of the Foundation, all bets are off," Xander assured him quietly. "Am I fully understood?"
"You are. I will try not to do that."
"The idiots who started this?" Don asked.
"Gone. Alaska, Kansas. Idaho."
"They still have their jobs?"
"They're on permanent probation. Next time they fart wrong, they're gone," Fornell assured him. "With the current administration we couldn't outright fire them." Xander nodded at that. "Thank you for your cooperation, Mr. Harris."
"Next time, come sooner, go through Horatio, and don't fuck with what's mine," he said simply. "It'll go much smoother."
"I'll put that into the report." He walked out, heading down to the car to chew the two agents a new one. He knew all he needed to know about the boy. He was dangerous when touched wrong. His family was very important to him, and he would kill them all then laugh as they shot him for doing it. Some people in DC needed to be wearing a vest for the rest of their short lives.
Xander repacked the cases and signed the paperwork, sending them off with the hotel security guy. Then he snuggled against Don's side. "I said we'd only do a background deep enough to make sure they hadn't done anything like child molesting."
"Works for me," Don agreed quietly. "We'll get through this and my father."
"You're welcome in Miami, Don, you know that. Horatio would love to have you closer."
"I know, but it sucks." He shrugged. "I like my city."
"I like your city too, even if it does have snow." Don chuckled at that, giving him a squeeze. "Think we should warn someone down there?"
"I sent a text message to Eric for your man. Are they going to fix it?" Xander nodded. "When?"
"He said soon. When they do get everything fixed, I'll drop the suit."
"Good, works for me." He gave him a squeeze. "What's wrong?"
"I'm so fucking bored," he sighed.
"Start back to college a few classes at a time next semester."
"I want to but I have no idea what I'm doing. Ray Jr. has more of an idea of what I'm doing than I do."
"Sometimes that happens, make him your assistant."
"I already did. It's giving him privileges to my car from the hidey spot." Don smiled at that. "Did they tell you about the jerky?"
"Yup and I quit eating it before the test. It came out okay." He gave him another squeeze. "Hungry?"
"Starved. I had Horatio for breakfast before Di brought the baby over." Don laughed at that. "I did, he was good! He's probably cranky by now, but he was good then!"
Don snickered, hugging Xander tightly against him. "Never change, Xan. The world would miss you."
"Did Danny get in trouble for the clubbing stuff?"
"Nope, Stella and Mac told him to. He's been a horny little guy recently and they've been too tired to do anything but snore. It got it out of his system so it's all good between them."
"Good, I didn't want to get him in trouble." He yawned. "They wore me out."
"Letting out the anger can do that. You go ahead and nap, I'll hang out to make sure you're okay." Xander nodded, getting up and heading into the bedroom while Don turned on the tv, hitting the pay-per-view stations. He hadn't gotten to see any good movies recently.
Horatio looked up from his paperwork the next morning. "You wanted?" he asked the obvious agent standing there. No one else wore that sort of bad suit around him.
"Two things really," DD Fornell offered as he walked in and shut the door behind him. "The government wants to apologize greatly for screwing with your husband. There's a great many people who are now very sorry and thinking about retirement."
"Is it fixed?" Horatio asked.
"Mostly. There's still a few things that'll take a few days to rescind. Things like the no-fly list."
"I see. And the other?"
"We wanted to know who your hacker was."
"See, the reporter told us," he offered, moving closer. "But we don't know how she got involved."
"The reporter?" Horatio asked, looking at him. "Ryan Wolfe reported it to her so you couldn't do this in the dark."
"No, we knew about her. She's a ruthless bitch when it comes to a story. I can appreciate that in a woman, too bad she's a reporter. No, the hacker. How did the hacker get involved?"
Horatio shrugged. "As far as I know it was a favor."
"I see. Do you know who the hacker is? Because you're shielding a wanted felon."
Horatio smirked. "I doubt you'd catch them. You haven't in the past."
"No, we have, but we can't prove it," he noted dryly. "Not that we disagree with your husband hacking us."
"My husband only uses our computer for video games."
"I see." He nodded once. "That's fine. The person is safe?" Horatio nodded. "They won't do it again?"
"As long as you don't give them a reason to."
"Instruct them that they are not to come near another governmental database, Lieutenant. If they do, they can be subject to up to five years in jail and a ten thousand dollar fine per offense, including this one if it happens again."
"I'll make sure they're aware of the risks."
"Thank you." He gave him a wry smile. "You married a hell of a man. Stood up to me, stood up to Flack's boss, stood up to my minions when they tried shit. You've got one hell of a tiger."
Horatio smirked. "You have no idea."
"It's probably better that way. By the way, he did promise to do a background check on the winning scholarship finalists to make sure there's nothing too horrible in their pasts."
"That's fine with me. I can easily agree to that and I know Taylor was going to suggest it."
"Good. Any chance your spouse will join you here?"
"He was going to be a profiler before this all started."
"He might be a good one after he got done pissing off everyone within ten miles. I hope he keeps going." He nodded politely and left. "I'll let you know when things are done," he called as he walked off.
"You do that," Horatio agreed quietly, getting back to his real job. He could check on his boy later. His phone rang and he smiled. "Caine." He smirked at the voice on the other end. "No, Frank, they were here to tell us it was partially solved and the rest was being solved. I don't know who he was," he admitted at the question, "but he did say Xander threatened him and impressed him by doing so." He smirked. "Yes, Frank, I do know what I've got in him." He hung up and went back to his paperwork a bit happier this time.
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