Speed was much calmer when he let himself into Xander's front door.  He heard someone crying and snuck up the stairs.  Xander saw him and nodded him to go up to his apartment, so he did.  Xander went back to soothing the sobbing guy in his arms.  When the guy got himself back together and Xander and he had talked for a few, the guy left and Xander came upstairs, heading to get a glass of juice from the fridge.  He handed Tim a beer.  "I need this?"

"You look like you need it and you're the only person I can stand drinking something like that around me," he said quietly.  He headed to his couch and flopped down, looking at him.  "You're going to yell?"

"I should yell.  I should be disappointed because you went there."  He took a drink then sat down at his feet.  "Then I realize who had done it.  Where is Ethan?"

"Helping Grandfather."  He took another drink of his juice.

"Did you get sick?"

"After having to kill people I grew up with, ones who teased me about my first zit being so huge?"

"True."  He took another drink then looked around before looking back at him.  "It will not happen again?"  Xander shook his head.  "Even if I'm in danger?"

"I'll handle it differently.  I'm not losing you."

"You sound just like every single one of the psychos who like you," he pointed out.  Xander threw his glass then got up to take a walk.  Speed waited, he'd be back.  He finished his beer, cleaned up the mess against the wall, and even did the dishes for him.  Xander came back an hour later looking defeated.  "You okay?"

"You're right."

"I know I am.  I've had to arrest a few of them over the years."  He pulled Xander closer, looking at him while he rested his back against the sink.  "Are you thinking again?"

"Are you mad?"

"Furious.  But calm.  It's a change from earlier.  Now, I think we should talk and if that's your doorbell it had better be someone who just died."

Xander jogged down the stairs, opening it to find Ryan, who looked horrified.  "What happened?"  He pulled him inside, looking him over.  "Are you all right?"

Ryan shook his head.  "No."  Xander gave him a hug but he struggled.  "No, not now.  Is Speed here?"

"All the way upstairs.  Did something happen?"

"At the lab."  He walked up the stairs with a scowl in place.  He found Speed doing the last few glasses.  "We just got broken into and they stole drug evidence."

"Coming."  He looked at Xander.  "Tomorrow."

"I'll be here, but you know why, Dad."

"I know.  I still don't like it."

"I don't either.  It was better anyway."

"That's cold."

"Yay.  I learned cold at a lot of hands."

"You did.  Not at mine though and I will not accept that."

"It won't happen again."


"Something happen during a session?"

Speed looked at him then at Xander, then back at him.  "He knows what ate those Mala Noche guys."

"Hmm.  So that means it's demonic and that's why there was no markings on the body?"  Xander nodded.  "Souls?"  Xander nodded again.  "Then I guess the two that were smiling thought it was better than the hell they deserved.  If you need to talk, you can come to me."

"Thanks, Ryan.  I'm fine."  That got a nod and they headed out together after Speed gave him a hug.  It did make him feel better.  His dad didn't hate him.  That was a good thing.  Though he did write out a letter of confession to Lady Heather.  She'd hate him.  He explained everything in it, every little thing.  Then he sent it to her, walking out to put it into the box.  After he was done he went to lay down.  He hated what he had done but it had been necessary.


Tim walked into Xander's place the next morning, startling a few of the women in the waiting area.  "Sorry, I'm Tim's dad.  Is he not working on someone?"

"He had someone come in crying so he's holding her," one of the ladies said with a gentle smile.  "We can wait five or six minutes on that.  We assumed it was his girlfriend."

"Actually I think it was one of the detectives I work with but let me check."  He went to find them upstairs, finding her calming down.  "Hey," he said, making her flinch.  "Quit.  I'll do this.  You've got three women waiting."  Xander nodded, slipping out to go deal with his clients.  He sat down next to her.  "I'm comfy if you need to rest on me."

"It's just a bad day," she admitted, looking at him.  He nodded.  "How would you understand?"

"It wasn't exactly a great day the day I got brought back.  I yelled at Aiden for hours."

"How did you come back?  We didn't believe the federal investigation story in the least."

He looked at her.  "Some time in the future you should reconsider that story but for right now, Aiden did it.  She begged, prayed, and pleaded for help dealing with the issues on her new job.  She had no idea the majority of the job was to find a better reason for the high homicide rate than vampires."  She gave him an odd look.  He nodded. "Sunnydale is like that bar Tentacles is.  Only it's got more of them all over the town."

"Then Xander...  And you...."  He nodded.  "Why?"

"In my case, self protection and protection of the kid.  In his, because he jumped in to save a friend and got stuck there," he admitted quietly, giving her a squeeze around the shoulders.  "Graduation made me realize why I never wanted to join the military.  That was one hellish battle.  Kinda literally," he said with a wry grin.  "Explains the grenade launcher too."

She gave him a horrified look.  "He doesn't."

"He does.  Somewhere.  His former mentor sent it to him just in case he needed it in New York."

"I'm sure they would have loved that," she said sarcastically.  She wiggled free and he let her go.  "What did you mean earlier?"

"I can't tell you."

She gave him a heated look.  "I would tell me anyway."

"I can't tell you, Yelina.  I'm not allowed and they'll make me go back there for good if I start to tell you."


"This discussion goes better over nachos and beer," Xander said from the stairs.  "Someone just asked about my grenade launcher?"

"Oops.  Sorry."  Xander closed the door, walking off shaking his head, going to explain that he was hiding it from the kook who had mentored him in high school so he couldn't use it and of course someone in the PD knew, both the people upstairs were officers so they both knew now.  His father even knew the guy who had given it to him.  They decided that was fine since he was such a nice boy.

Speed heard the doorbell and came down to get it, waving off Xander.  "I've got it."  Xander went back to his client.  He opened the door, looking at the raven haired woman in the conservative suit and sunglasses standing on the other side.  "Lady Heather.  He's in with a massage client at the moment.  Would you care to wait upstairs?"

"Please."  She walked him up there, nodding at Yelina.  "I need to borrow him.  Are you done with him for a bit?" she asked politely.

"I was only using him to cry on," she admitted.

"It is cathartic.  I make many people do that."  Yelina blushed so she pulled Speed upstairs and closed the door.  "I got the most distressing letter from your son."

"He confessed what happened with the Mala Noches who died?"  She nodded.  "Did he do it?"

She stared at him then let him read it.  "I'm not sure if I should be distressed or not."

"I am, you can be," he offered, sitting down to read it, frowning at the opening paragraph.  "That sounds like he'd write to Aiden."

"I do love him, Speed.  He is like a son to me.  That, however, was a very bad choice."

He looked at her. "He's deathly afraid of losing anyone else."  She nodded, understanding that.  "Especially me."

"I realize that.  Keep reading."  She waved a hand then sat down.

He went back to the letter, turning the page slowly.  It was not making him a happy father.  He got to the end and folded it up, handing it back to her.  "He didn't feel he could tell me."

"That's because he knew he'd disappoint you.  He was hoping I could talk him out of doing something stupid."

"We were going to be finishing that talk today anyway," he offered.  She nodded that it should happen.  "I don't know what to do, Lady Heather.  I know why.  I understand why.  I feel the same.  Hell, if he does lose me or Aiden, or you, or any of the rest of those he considers family, he'll break.  Permanently."

"He's not that fragile."

"To others," he said. "He's got some great armor but the body underneath is still pretty fleshy and he's still bruised from Sunnydale and the guys in New York not having the time to help him now and then."  He considered it.  "He's healing from combat trauma as well."

"What do you think will help him?"


"We may not have it.  Not with the tone of that letter."

"He won't do it again," he assured her. "He promised me."

"Did he lie to you?"

"Not yet.  He never said it wasn't his idea."  She nodded at that.  "But he did say he didn't do the charms on them or anything else."

"Which is backed up by this letter."  She sighed. "I should be disappointed and furious."

"You should but you said yourself a while back when we first talked that Xander needed to heal.  This is all part of that."

"It is and they weren't the nicest of people."

"He said some weren't people."

"They probably weren't," she admitted.  "I'm worried he'll go wrong, Timothy."

"He won't.  I know he won't.  I'm working on it.  If you want to help me then you're more than welcome."

"Did he include Gregory?"

"I don't know," Speed admitted. "You'd have to ask Greg."

"Point."  She pulled out her phone and called him.  "Yes, I do know what time it is, Gregory."  He snapped more awake at the sound of her voice.  "The plan with the Mala Noche...."  She listened to him tell her what had been his idea originally that Xander had fleshed out.  "We will be talking about this when I get home, Gregory.  Yes, you.  Because it did.  Yes, it did."  She heard the moan of pain.  "There were reasons behind it however. So for right now, we'll deal with it and then we'll talk."  She hung up and looked at him.  "He got the idea watching a movie."

"It wasn't a bad one.  It was a peaceful one at least."  She gave him a frown.  "You've seen others who've seen too much combat."

"I have.  I didn't think he'd seen that much."  Speed nodded.  "He hides it very well."

"Of course he does.  None of the girls there gave a damn about him!  Aiden and I gave him his first parental hugs."

"You're noisy!" Xander shouted up the stairs.  Then he went back to work.

He frowned then took a calming breath, making her laugh.  "I know.  I'm just as concerned as you are.  I'll handle this."  She nodded, standing up.  "If I have to, I'll send him back to you for you to help him."

"I can't break him," she admitted quietly.  "He trusts me, he loves me like his mother, but there's been too much trauma there."

Speed nodded. "Then teach me."

"You'll ruin what trust you have between you.  That is not a father/son relationship."

He slumped some.  "I don't know who to ask.  He's not making close friends with mine."

"Which is what is needed. A true friend would stop him.  They'd see the pain he was in and stop it before it got deep enough.  In this case, he will have to break to rebuild it."  He shook his head.  "Yes, he will."

"No, he can't.  They couldn't break him.  The one time he did break, Willow did it and he was apparently silent for a month."  She shuddered at that image. "She told me once she had broken him but she meant the other way," he said quietly. "He's not been totally right since Buffy came and then what original made family he had got ripped from him.  First by him having to stake one and then by the other one finding a talent and growing an ego the size of a redwood."

"I see."  She considered it.  "Then there is a way, but you must love him with everything, Speed.  He must feel it and let down every guard he has."

He nodded. "If I can."

"You may be the only one who can.  He loves and trusts you.  He feels uncomfortable enough with me to not show me that he has that deep of a vulnerable side. I saw some and some combat trauma but not the depth you're speaking of."

"Yeah, well, it wasn't that bad before he went to New York," he admitted.  She nodded at that.  "Being virtually alone up there probably wasn't real healthy for him."  She shook her head. "You think?"

"I know."  She stroked his cheek.  "I will keep this in mind but if he has promised he will not do it again I believe him."

"I think his exact phrase was that he'd do it differently if he had to protect me next time."

She smiled. "Of course. We protect what is precious to us.  Some more than most."  She left, heading back to her hotel.

Speed sat down, waiting on Xander to be done for the day.  According to his appointment book he was done after the three older women.  Xander finally came up the stairs and he patted the couch beside him.  Xander gave him a very cautious look.  "I want to talk to you and cuddle at the same time.  It's better that way."

"Why don't you just chew me out now?" he demanded.

"Because I'm not going to."  Xander slumped.  "You're looking for punishment?"  Xander looked up and nodded.  "Then at least you know you did the wrong thing.  Now, come here."  Xander came closer and slowly sat down next to him, slowly cuddling into his side like usual.  Speed just held him, making him relax.  "I'm pissed, but I understand why, Xander.  I read what you sent Lady Heather."  He stiffened at that.  "She's worried too. She said you never let her that deeply into your soul."  He made the boy look at him.  "Well, I was deeper at least."  He kissed him on the forehead and settled in to hold him until his son fidgeted.  But he kept holding onto him.  Xander struggled to get up.  "Nope. It's time you realize I'm here and I'm the parent.  It's my job to take care of you, not the other way around."  Xander fidgeted some more so he pulled him into his lap. "I'm still here. It's just us."

"Your phone's vibrating."

"It's done that a few times," he admitted, shifting to pull it out but still not letting go of Xander.  "The stepmom."  He flipped it open. "I'm holding the son."  He listened to her complain.  "That was tonight?"  He groaned.  "I'll be home in about forty minutes then."  He hung up and looked at him.  "Next time, longer."  Xander shook his head. "Oh yeah."

"I know this technique now."

"Good, then you realize what I'm doing and you won't make me put you in a diaper and force you to regress."  He kissed him on the cheek and let him go.  "Lock up for the night, Xander.  I'll be back tomorrow.  My day off got shifted."  Xander whimpered.  "Not like you've got a booking tomorrow.  Right?"  Xander shook his head slowly.  "Good."  He got him off his lap and stood up.  "I still love you," he promised, making his son look at him.  "Even when you do things to protect me I still love you.  Understand?"

"No," he said weakly.

"Then I'll explain it better tomorrow.  Tonight, sleep.  I'm going to turn on your alarm."  He headed down to let himself out, locking the door behind him once he had set the alarm.  Then he headed home for their special dinner together, hoping she wasn't going to skin him.  Because Calleigh probably could.

Xander got some ice cream from the freezer and sat down to nibble on it, considering what had happened. He was fighting the instinct to run.  He was having to and that was telling. He had never run from Timmy before.  He wasn't threatening him or trying to hurt him.  So apparently he had some issues he needed to work out.  He heard the knock on the door and groaned, getting up to answer it, hoping it wasn't someone who needed him.  He found Horatio.  "Timmy said to lock up for the night."

"I agree, you should," he assured him as he walked in.  He looked at him. "Are you all right?"

"More or less.  Confused.  Why?  Did something happen to him?  I know he went home...."

Horatio held up a hand.  "Nothing's happened to Speed, Xander.  I promise you he's fine."  He locked the door.  "Come on, let's go talk."


"What happened to those gang members."


"Tough."  He turned him around and gave him a nudge.  "Wherever you feel comfortable but we will be having this talk without Speed or anyone else hearing.  Because you will explain this to me.  Or else I will be arresting you."  Xander shrugged at that.  "Now."  Xander trudged up the stairs, letting him into his apartment.  He looked around.  It was comfortably shabby.  Not highly decorated, organized, or clean.  Unlike his work areas.  He sat down and Xander sat across from him. "Whose idea was this?"


"Really?  Greg seemed to think differently."  Xander flinched at that. "He said he got the idea from a movie?"

Xander looked at him.  "I reformatted the plan so it'd work, Horatio.  Is that what you wanted to hear?  That I was there to make sure they didn't eat anyone who wasn't a threat and kept them off the few kids there."

"Not particularly.  I want to know *why* it happened, Xander, not how.  I can figure out how.  I grew up in New York and I know the demonic section as well.  I had my patrol circuit down there for a long time."  Xander slumped at that.  "Now, tell me.  Think of it as confession.  If you do tell me I can't do anything."

Xander looked at him.  "You can't anyway.  There's no way you can charge me for opening a door for two demons."


"Two," he sighed. He leaned back, looking at him.  "I'm not going to break, Horatio.  I can't.  Not anymore."

"You can but it takes a much different method and I think your triggers are emotional.  You hold them fairly close to yourself, Xander."  He leaned forward to stare at him.  "Let me guess, Speed was holding you, making you let it go?"  Xander nodded slowly. "That's pretty textbook.  I want you to let it out, not let it go.  Let it out so it can't harm Speed.  Because this could easily hurt him."  Xander's shoulders fell a fraction lower.  He frowned.  "You have to let it out, Xander.  Treat me like a wall.  Let it all out and tell me.  I can handle anything.  I've seen worse in my life."

"I had to stake people I grew up with."

"I saw.  Your grandfather sent me a file.  You can see it if you want."  Xander shook his head. "He knows a lot more than you may think."

Xander looked at him. "He maybe knows a third.  I've seen that file.  Willow sent it to me.  She hacked your home computer the other day to check on Timmy."

"I see.  That's very...nice of her I would suppose."

"She wasn't snooping, just looking for things on Timmy.  She's worried about him."

Horatio looked at the boy and smirked just the tiniest bit.  "That's one of the better redirections I've ever seen, Xander.  Good job."  He shrugged at that and leaned back in his chair.  "You need to let it out."

"I did to Lady Heather."

"You didn't.  You confessed this episode."  He shifted closer.  "You said he only saw a third?"

"His guy couldn't have seen it all.  Hell, I don't remember it all sometimes."

"There's been too many vampires?"

"Now and then."

"That is combat fatigue."

"I know that. I've read a lot on that subject, Horatio."

"Good.  Then you know what you need to do.  You need to let it out.  Tell me.  It won't go any further than this room."  He pulled out a bug sweeper, handing it over. "You can check if you want."

"I found the two earlier."  He handed it back.  "Lady Heather wouldn't do that and neither would Speed."

"True."  He got up and pulled Xander up, making him look at him.  "Tell me," he ordered quietly, staring him down.  "Now, Xander.  I need to know and you need to let it go before you turn into one of those that like you for real."  Xander swallowed hard.  "Tell me."  Xander broke free and went to be sick.  "That's a good sign," he offered, following once he had gotten him a glass of water.  He helped the boy clean up then sat in there with him.  The boy looked at him and asked a question so quiet he almost didn't hear it.  "Yes, I read the full file and I saw the gaps.  When did you hurt your first person?"

"The second time I was sold.  Willow got the first.  Jesse helped her."

Horatio nodded.  "It was always in self-defense, right?"  Xander looked at him, an earnest, open look, and nodded.  "Then what about this time?"

"I was protecting Timmy."

"That's not just your job, Xander.  That's my job and Eric's job and Calleigh's job.  We all have that job.  It's not just your duty."

"He's my daddy."

"He is.  That doesn't mean it's just *your* duty."  Xander leaned his head against the sink and Horatio pulled him closer, making him rest against his shoulder.  "I'm as impartial of a judge as you'll get, Xander.  I've had to kill in the line of duty and to protect others. I've done things I shouldn't, as you probably heard from the assassin.  There is nothing you can tell me that would shock me."

"Not even the hyena that I've got inside me?"

"I've seen similar cases," he offered.

"Does this mean you trust me to do the same?"

"If I need this sort of thing or your other services I will come to you.  I know you can be discreet."  Xander nodded and got up, getting him something.  "I want you to tell me."

"You need to read that first."

"Is it a disclaimer?"

"I thought bad jokes was my forte."

"Point," Horatio admitted, settling in to read it.  He looked at the boy when he was done with the few pages, then pulled him against him again. "I understand how survival trauma goes, Xander.  Did no one ever think to talk to you about it?"

"They made Willow give me back before I got to that point," he admitted quietly, picking at his shirt.  Horatio took his hands to make him quit it.  He looked up at him. "I'm not dating you."

"That's probably a good thing at the moment.  That means I'm impersonal enough to let go on."  Xander sighed.  "Now."  Xander started to speak, slowly, starting back when he was younger.  He even got to the point where he was pointing at the scars as he went over that story.  They stayed against the old tub, Horatio listening to him go on about the things he had seen and done.  Everything that he could remember.  Every issue with his parents.  The staking problems he used to have.  How hunting turned into catharsis.  How graduation went and made him puke for days afterward.  What went on in New York and how lonely he was.  How it wasn't quite as bad down here because Speed saw him a lot more often.  By dawn, Xander was yawning but it was all out.  Now Horatio pulled him closer to hold him, making him give up and let it go for a while on his shoulder.  "Shh," he soothed, stroking his back.  "I do understand.  I've been in some of those dark places, Xander."

"If you tell me to find religion I'm biting you," he said into his shoulder.

Horatio chuckled.  "No, I don't think religion is your answer."  He patted him on the back.  "I think some time with Speed will be but he's still in for leave in a few weeks." Xander looked at him.  "How does your schedule look?"

"More packed.  Holidays are good for us."

"Good."  He patted him on the back.  "The next time you need the same help, you can come to me," he repeated, stroking over his nearly shoulder-length hair.  "What do you look like with it shorter?"


Horatio laughed and held him tighter.  "I know you feel better.  Ready to try Speed's method again?"  Xander yawned and shook his head.  "He'll be over soon since I gave him the day off."

"I think the stepmom wanted him somewhat today."

"No, she has to work.  So they're about ready to get up."  He heard the doorbell and the slight groan.  "Go see who it is."

Xander got up and went downstairs, finding Ryan standing there.  "Dad's not here," he said when he got the door open and the alarm off.

"I know that, I was looking for Horatio. We just got called to a scene."

"Have you slept yet?" Xander demanded.

"No, but I can after that's done.  I'll hopefully have time for a short nap."

Xander pulled him inside and shook his head, pointing.  "All the way upstairs, last room on the right, Ryan."

"I need to go."

"You'll crash and hurt someone.  Horatio?"  He came down the stairs, perfectly straightened out, only one small damp spot left to show what had went on.  "He hasn't slept yet and there's a new scene."

"We think it's the guy who did the break-in," Ryan told him.

"I'll go and take Eric," he promised.  "You go sleep.  Before you hurt someone."  Ryan opened his mouth.  "Now."  Ryan nodded and trudged up the stairs.  "Thank you, Mr. Wolfe."  He looked at Xander.  "The next time you need to talk, come to me yourself, Xander.  You're a big boy."

"Yes, Horatio."

"Good.  Call Lady Heather after your father leaves.  She's probably worried sick."  He left, heading to the scene once he called into Dispatch that it was his.  Then he spent a few minutes to shudder in private.  No one should have to see most of those things.  Yet Xander still had a mostly sunny and bouncy nature.  It was amazing how he had survived.  He headed for the crime scene, calling Eric to meet him there.  He was hoping it was the janitor who had broken into the drug seizure locker during night shift.  He wanted this cleaned up.

Speed showed up a few hours later looking well rested.  He found his son asleep on the couch and someone snoring in the guest room.  Then he looked at Xander.  "You talked to Ryan?"

"Talked to Horatio," Xander muttered, glaring at him.  "Just got to sleep, daddy."

"Good."  He sat him up, laid down under him, and let Xander crash on top of his chest.  Xander snuggled in and let himself be held. It took longer for him to resist.  It must've been a good talk, and by noon, Xander was ready to explode from the lack of being able to move but Speed simply kissed him on the head with a quiet 'I love you, son' and Xander broke for him.  "Shh, I've got you." Ryan slipped past them and out the door, locking the knob lock on the way out.  "It's good that you find Horatio close enough to talk to but unfamiliar enough not to coddle you.  It's good you trusted someone," he soothed, patting him.  Xander said something.  "I wouldn't mind.  I know Horatio won't tell me."  Xander settled in to tell him the same things, all of it, even the stuff he already knew.  Speed just held onto  him, making sure his boy knew he loved and trusted him.  It was a day well spent.  At the end, Xander was limp and tired again, but it was good for them.  Speed made him get up and go grocery shopping because he was out of food and he had to hit the bank because he hadn't deposited the day before's intake.  They came back and found the mail had already run, giving Xander a letter from his grandfather.  Speed read it then looked at him.  "Think he knows?"

"Maybe.  He seems to have a really good information network and Ethan does work with him."

"Good.  I've been wanting to meet your grandfather."  He called the number on it.  "It's Tim Speedle.  It good to come out now even if we're in jeans and t-shirts?  Because he's my son and his grandfather can blow me if he doesn't like it," he said dryly.  Xander moaned and shook his head.  "Yeah, that's what I said."


"Quit."  A quiet voice in the background agreed it was fine, he wasn't doing anything that would require formal clothes.  "We'll be right out as soon as we put up the groceries then."  He hung up and went to do that with his son, giving him another hug.  You couldn't go wrong with tactile contact with Xander.  They got everything put up and a sandwich into each of them on the way over in Xander's car.  Xander didn't like riding his bike with him, said it made him think uncomfortable thoughts about him.  He could understand that but that would change soon if he had his way.  They parked and he got out, putting an arm around Xander's shoulders as he walked him inside.   "His grandfather requested a Godfather-like meeting?"

The guard snickered. "We like you, Detective Speedle.  Drawing room, Xander."

"Thanks."  He gave them a shy grin and headed in there, pausing to hug Ethan.  "Thank you."

"What did I do to deserve that?"

"We made him tell us," Speed told him.  Ethan went pale.  "It's a hard thing but I do understand.  I don't like, but I understand.  And of course if you two ever do it again I'm taking human trophies."  Ethan nodded at that.  "Good."  He let Xander walk him into the drawing room, nodding politely at the guards in there.  "I'm not that scary."

"No, you aren't," his grandfather agreed, smiling at how they sat down, Xander against his father's side.  "It's good you have some support, young man."

"Either you're marrying me off or you're pissed."

"I am a tad bit upset you're not letting me help you with your new endeavor.  Why else would I be pissed?"  Xander gave him a look.  "Much as your father does, I understand why that happened.  I also know it will not happen again."  Xander shook his head.  "Good.  I'm sure there's many better ways of protecting your family."  He coughed and wiped his mouth off.  Ethan came in to look at him.  "I'm fine for another few hours."  He looked at Xander.  "No, I wanted to know if you'd go to a fundraiser for me."

Xander shook his head quickly.  "Hell no!  Polite society?  They'd hate me.  I don't have manners, I'm not one of them, and hey, not exactly a rich kid," Xander complained.  "I couldn't pull that off if I was possessed by an actor, grandfather."  He laughed at that.  "I can't!"

"No more possessions," Speed ordered, frowning at Ethan.

"I only torment Ripper."

"Buffy as a seventeenth century airhead was cute," Xander agreed.  "It certainly tormented him and me if I remember right.  The 'oh I broke a nail' and 'get me a water, boy' were not quite as cute."

"That was a special power raising and if I had known you'd have been there I wouldn't have let you buy anything."  Patrick looked at him.  "Halloween a few years back."

"It gave me pretty memories of explosives and things," Xander assured him with a small grin.  "Grandfather, they'd never accept me.  Even if I had the grand dame of local society on my arm they'd never accept me.  Especially if they found out about my jobs."

"Would you give up your jobs if I needed you to go to those things for me?"

"No.  My work makes me happy and helps others," he said simply.  "I help heal a lot of very hurt souls."

His grandfather's guards all frowned at that.  "With massage?" Ethan asked dryly.

"I'm a dom, Ethan.  The massage is just a hobby that makes me money."

"Oh."  He straightened up.  "Are you any good?"

"He's very good, he got personal training time from Lady Heather," Speed told him.  "She's one of the top dommes in the country.  He does a lot of work with officers and agents, plus other men who need him."

"Is it sexual?" his grandfather asked.

"No.  I don't offer that release.  If they get off during it then their bodies obviously needed it but I'm there to offer them the release of their anger, frustration, and rage at themselves for things like having to fire in the line of duty."

"The same things that scar your soul," his grandfather said wisely.  Xander nodded.  "Do you work with gay men?"

"I don't care what they have sex with," Xander said with a shrug.  "I don't date my subs or my massage clients.  It's a firm rule with me."  That got a smile.  "It creates conflicts.  You get to know them in the wrong ways and it can muddy helping them."

"Good point," he said, looking happier.  "What about a gay fundraiser?"

"I could handle that but I'm still no good in social settings."

"I can have you tutored."

"Half the gay community doesn't like us," Xander pointed out.

"I have seen that," he agreed.  "I would take you with me."

"Then I can do that as long as I don't have anything going on that night.  You should've told me and I'd have brought my appointment book."

"It's tomorrow night at nine?"

Xander considered it.  "I think I've got a late client."  He called his house and found Calleigh there.  "We're out at my grandfather's for a few minutes.  Can you flip open my book and see what I've got tomorrow evening?  He wants me to go to a gay fundraiser with him."  She did that for him and read it off.  "For Thursday?"  She amended it.  "It is Wednesday, right?"  Everyone nodded.

"She's just tired," Speed assured him, kissing him on the head.  "Hi, Calleigh."

"She said hi back and my last one leaves at eight.  Maybe.  That means he's a hard one to break," he admitted.  "Yeah, that side.  Thanks, Calleigh.  Soon.  Why?"  He considered it.  "No, I can't.  Because Giles gets sent stuff by the Watchers and he sends anything that's not a crossbow to me anymore.  Considering our last real battle we had a giant snake demon to blow up....  Actually, I know I've got claymores.  They came in yesterday.  Why?"  He grinned.  "Sometime as long as I'm not arrested for it?  I'll show you the handguns and rifles."  He nodded.  "I can do that tonight if you want.  Most of it was already put into the system.  Of course I registered the legal stuff.  Thanks, Calleigh.  Be home in about an hour or so."  He blew a kiss and hung up.  "Unless you wanted to have dinner?"

"Unlike Spike I don't need others to see me feed, grandson," he said tolerantly.

"What is with the cereal in the blood?" Xander asked.  "Willow said Spike's chipped and he did that the whole time he was in Giles' bathtub."

"I'm not sure if it was to gross you out or if perhaps a bit of Druscilla's insanity wore off on him," he admitted.

"That is kinda nasty," one of his guards noted, grimacing some.  Xander nodded, making him smile.  "Willow upset?"

"A lot.  Claims he's a punishment sent from the Powers for Buffy being such a good girl."

"That is an entirely different matter," his grandfather said dryly.  Xander slunk down some.  "I'm not mad at you, grandson."

Speed looked at him.  "Even he's got to realize that sometimes you've got to hunt."

"I hope so."

"I do," Patrick agreed, smiling gently.  "Now, you will need proper attire."

"A suit?" Speed asked. "I saw one in there."

"Stella said I had to get one for dates," Xander defended. "I look and feel like a dork."

"You're not a dork, son," Speed said patiently.  "We'll try it on tonight, make sure it's pressed and things."  Xander nodded at that.  He looked at Patrick.  "If you had given him some warning we could've taken him shopping."

"I didn't want him to fret over going."

"Too late for that," Xander admitted.

"Maybe you'll find someone nice to date," the guard offered.

"That might be nice," Xander agreed, warming up to it some.  "How long is it going to last?"

"A few hours.  Nothing too strenuous, Grandson."  Xander nodded at that.  "Good. Louis?"  He came in with a box.  "As I was saying earlier, you'll need proper attire and I did arrange for it.  I do have a very good tailor who can take your measurements across the room."


"Indeed."  Xander smiled and took the present, opening it to look at the dark suit.  "It should look good on you, Xander."  Xander smiled at him.  "Good boy.  Be careful with that and keep it in the box tonight.  Let it hang for a few hours tomorrow to take out any fold marks."

"Yes, sir."  He carefully put the cover back on and handed it to Speed.  "Should I plan on finding something to put my hair up in a pony tail?"

"Probably," he agreed.  "You did grow it a bit longer than I'm used to."

"It goes better with my work persona."

"Ah.  That's fine then.  You do have dress shoes?"  Xander nodded.  "And dark socks?"  Xander nodded again. "Excellent.  Now, Timothy."


"Speed then," he promised with a smile.  "How is my grandson?"

"Doing better today."

"Excellent.  I let his guard have the day off and I had been worried he was ill."

"No, he's fine," Speed assured him.  "We spent all day on his couch."

"Excellent."  He smiled at them.  "I was told Lieutenant Caine stayed over last night?"

"To talk, Granddad.  He's not like that," Xander said.

"You'd be surprised," Speed corrected.  "Horatio likes people, he doesn't really go on gender."



"Oh."  He shrugged. "He still wouldn't be interested in me.  He came over to help you with me last night."

"He wouldn't have been there if it was just for me," Speed assured him.  "You're family now, get used to it, kiddo.  Before Eric lets his sisters and mother pounce you."

"Eric said he's not telling his mother what I do."

"Probably a good idea.  She's very Catholic and wouldn't understand the second floor at all."  He smoothed down some of his hair. "You need to condition that mess of hair."  Xander nodded, resting against his side again.  He looked at the doting grandfather.  "Any other commandments or offers?"  He smiled and shook his head.  "Then this one needs to go eat dinner with us."

"Thank you for the suit, grandfather.  Am I being picked up or should I meet you somewhere?"

"I'll pick you up, Xander.  Be ready at nine if possible."  Xander nodded and grabbed the box, walking it carefully outside. Speed nodded as well and headed after his boy.  "So very fragile of spirit," he sighed.

The guard looked at him.  "He's a survivor, but I do doubt that the local party people will like him, Father."  The vampire priest looked up at him.  "He deals in common things.  They hate people who work or do common things. Plus he's nervous around women and the society circles are full of old biddies who can't keep their nose out of your business."

"That may be but he is my only heir," he pointed out.

"You have a nephew."

"I do but he would be as uncomfortable as that one would be."  He looked at him.  "Someone has to continue to do the good works I started."

"Not like they won't, Father," he argued.  "Set up the trusts now so it gives them an allowance and a donation allowance.  Xander is bi.  He would help the gay charities you do.  Even if he did donate a lot to the pound and the PD.  Don would be the same way."

"True. I'll work on that with Gordon later tonight," he promised.  "Start getting him used to the idea tomorrow."

"Father, your sire called, that's why I came in," Ethan offered, handing over the message.  "I told him you were meeting with a new child for the family.  He was amused that you're still taking them in, even at your stage of illness."

"He would be.  He would adore Xander, spoil him horribly before trying to turn him."

"The boy would stake himself," Ethan told him quietly.  "He's seen how brutal a vampire him could be and beyond that one brutal act, he'll never do it again. It didn't suit him and he's been sick ever since then.  That is why Speedle and Caine stepped in to help him. Caine is close enough to be a confidant but distant enough to not make him uncomfortable about their relationship."

Patrick nodded at that.  "It does make sense.  When did he see a vampire version of himself?"

"When Miss Chase made her wish.  They saw and Miss Rosenburg's vampire self came through to tell them stories about their Puppy Angel."

"Oh, dear," he sighed. "I hadn't heard much about that."

Ethan just nodded. "I'll nick the Watcher's diary then?"

"Please, Ethan.  Rupert could use a bit more torment to come back to himself."  That got a wicked smile and he went to do that.  He looked at his guard.  "You think they would?"

"I know Xander would be nervous but I do think if you set it up that way they'd gladly do that for you.  Xander donated all but his monthly expenses for a single month when you offered him the chance," he reminded him. "Even if he did drop the cards and run basically."

"He donated anonymously as well," Patrick agreed, considering it.  "Gordon?" he called.  His barrister came in and knelt in front of him, making him smile.  "You act like I'm my grandson."

"No, your grandson is physically stronger than you at the moment," he teased back.  He smiled.  "What did you need, Patrick?"

"I need to start work on what will happen when I die."

"I've already looked into some ideas.  Do we want to look at a foundation situation or a trust situation?"

"I was thinking a trust that had a donation allowance and a personal allowance," the guard offered.

"Xander could handle that.  Could Don Flack?"

"I don't know," Patrick admitted.  "I haven't really talked to him since he was a lad in my science class."  That got smiles.  "Back then he wouldn't have minded."  He looked at them.  "What is Xander's present financial status?"

"He'll make this month's mortgage payment," one of them offered.

"He took out a mortgage?"  The guard nodded.  "A large one?"

"Fifty thousand.  He used the rest of his savings for everything else."

"He didn't come to ask," he said sadly.

"It's a wise man who doesn't borrow money from his family," Gordon advised.  "It causes issues later on."  That got a nod and a wry look from the vampire.  "He wants to prove he can do it on his own, Patrick.  That's not a bad attitude for a boy."

"No, it's not," he agreed, happier now.  "Go buy out his mortgage somehow."  That got a nod from Gordon.  "Offer him easier terms and no early repayment penalties.  That way he won't have to worry about thin months for a while.  Then we'll see if he'd like one tomorrow night so he can do a bit more decorating."

"He brought down everything from New York," the guard promised.  "Including more weapons."

"It is very nice of Rupert to send them to him," he agreed dryly.  "Ethan, do tell Rupert that the weapons in New York got stolen," he called.

"I already have," he called back from the kitchen.

"Excellent."  He smiled at his boys.  "Now, let's get to work so they're not forced to bear with unreasonable demands when I succumb. Or my sire if I can help it.  I'd hate to see him staked."

"Angel seems to think it's better if he's alive.  They've met twice and Angel keeps walking away shaking his head," Ethan said as he came back. "I should pop around and let him know that you're Xander's grandfather.  Watch him freak out."

"On your next trip out there, Ethan," he chided.

"Yes, Patrick.  I was going to head out tonight to grab the diaries by magic and then stop in to taunt Ripper so I can easily taunt him at the same time."

"Go and come back safely, my son.  Watch out for those commandos."

"Should they get me I will leave," he promised. The phone rang and he was closest.  "Patrick....  Speedle?  You're still getting visions?" he demanded.  He nodded once.  "Then I shan't, but I will go taunt Angel.  LA is close enough for what I need to do.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "Should I go taunt Ripper this time I'll end up being taken by the soldiers.  He's still having visions from the Powers."

"Poor man," the guard said with a wince.

"Definitely," Gordon agreed.  He looked at Patrick.  "Want dinner?"

"I am a bit hungry but my sire called."

"You can talk after you eat, Patrick.  Now, nibble away," he offered, moving his hair out of the way.  Patrick smiled and leaned forward to take some of the needed blood.  Never enough to hurt his boys but enough to live on.  Then he let it digest for an hour before he called his sire.


Xander walked in and handed Speed the ringing phone.  "It's an LA number."

"What?" Speed demanded.  He listened to Cordelia.  "No, he let it ring for a few.  He's hungry, Cordy."  Xander waved.  "He said hi."  He smirked.  "Excuse me?"  He shuddered.  "No, not really this thing, why?"  He nodded slowly.  "Well, you can watch while Angel freaks out in a few days probably."

"Tell her Ethan says hi too," Xander called.

"He said Ethan Rayne said hi too."  He listened to her freak and slam the phone down.  So he hung up.  She'd call back.  He followed Xander into the downstairs kitchen, finding Calleigh looking at the gun locker door.  "It's got a key."

"I know but I can't find it."

Xander walked over and pulled it out of a drawer, unlocking the door or her.  "Stay out of the second one."

"What's in there?"  He just smiled. "Never mind, I probably don't want to know, do I?"  He shook his head.  "Okay then."  She looked around then back at Xander.  "It's a great collection if you're going to be an anti-government person."

Xander looked then at her.  "Giles sent more today," he said happily, coming in to look it over.  "Speed, give me your gun?"  Speed handed it over with a smile.  "Thanks."  He looked down it then at him. "Not too bad."

"I have trouble with that."

"None of us are perfect," Xander reminded him.  He sat down to clean his gun for him, then handed it back with a grin and a wink.  "I'll charge you cookies."

"Cookies I can do."  He went to snoop in the kitchen down here then went up to make some. His boy deserved some cookies.

Calleigh smiled at him. "Thanks.  I could use some cookies too."

"Cookies are wonderful things."  He looked at the new one and frowned.  "Hmm, to replace the piece of crap sniper rifle.  Not terrible."  He put that case away and looked at the other stuff.   Calleigh peeked behind the second door and squeaked.  He looked then looked at her. "I told you so."

"But...  That's...  Xander!"

"Sorry.  I didn't buy it."

She whimpered and walked off shaking her head.

He looked again, smiling at the second grenade launcher.  The other was still under the loose panel in the floor boards.  He'd have to make more room down there for this one.  But the pretty new swords were very nice. Horatio came over and leaned in the doorway.  "Calleigh get upset?"

"A bit.  Who sends you this stuff?"

"The Watcher's Council through Giles.  He's the Watcher over the current Slayer, Buffy."

"Buffy?  Your friend Buffy?"  Xander looked at him and nodded.  He shook his head.  "No wonder you get the nice weapons."

"I've got to put up the new grenade launcher."

"I see."  He looked in that other room, going in there to look at the swords and the few things piled in the middle of the floor.  He felt the loose panel and looked down there as well, then put it back and came back out.  "I don't like you having explosives."

"I can use them."

"That's what I'm afraid of," he said patiently.  Xander gave him a heated look.  "You have about sixty pounds, Xander."

"You can have half if you need it."

"You'll call if you have the urge to use it?"  Xander nodded.  "Good."  He smiled.  "You need more room in the floor."

"I know.  I can do that and it won't matter too much.  Or I could put it in the closet I left in there."  That got a nod so Xander went to put it in there with the bazooka he already had.  Horatio looked and moaned.  "What?  It was a welcome to Miami gift from the guy who runs Tentacles.  He collects weapons too."  He grinned and put the other big, heavy thing in there, checking to see what it was.  "Huh.  He put my stuff I left out there in here.  Hey, dad?"  He drug the bag out, finding Ryan in the other room.  "My old clothes."  Speed came down the stairs.  "Can you drop this on my bed?  Giles sent the stuff I left out there."

"Sure.  Calleigh, go get the suit from his car too please?"  She nodded, going to do that while Speed drug the bag up the stairs.  There was no way that was just clothes, but it also had his books and tapes.  Fortunately it all packed very nicely into a duffle bag.  It was sad when your whole life could do that.  Calleigh came in petting the suit.  "His grandfather wants to take him out tomorrow night to a gay fundraiser."

"It's a nice suit."  She put it in the closet, looking at what else was in there.  Then she looked at the old stuff.  "Your son needs some help."

"I know but fashion is individual," he reminded her, going to check on the first batch of cookies.  He was letting the dough sit while he warmed up the oven.  He scooped out the first lumps of dough and stuck them in, not seeing a second pan so the next set had to wait. Then he went back to putting up Xander's things.

"Xander, do you wear anything but hawaiian shirts and leather?" Calleigh called.

"No," he called back.

Horatio shook his head.  "You need help with that, Xander."

"I like my clothes.  I look good and professional."

"Most of the time you probably do but now and then you have to look a bit more like the rest of us do when we look professional," he offered.

"Granddad bought me a suit.  Calleigh said it's nice.  Stella made me buy one too."

"Good."  He patted him on the back.  "You could still do a bit of shopping."

"Once I've sent in the mortgage payments," he offered. "And done all the utilities."  That got a nod and he went up to look while Xander went back to puttering with his guns.  Ryan came back.  "Cookies done?"

"Not yet.  I stole this one out of the fridge."  Xander grinned at that.  "So, you really like weapons?"  Xander smiled and nodded.  "Wow."  He nodded back.  "This is a nice collection.  Do you get to request?"

"Nope.  But if Giles said he needed something to defeat a something going on they might send it to him.  Even though they supposedly fired him.  The next girl isn't ready yet so they're trying to keep Buffy around for a while."

"Uh-huh.  Sounds kinda brutal."

"Well, yeah."   Someone pounded on the door.  "Crap."  He shooed him out and relocked that door, going to let Frank in.  "Am I hosting the party?  Daddy's making cookies."

"Cookies are good," he agreed.  "I've got Eric in the car and he wrenched his back."

"Bring him in, I can give him a few free minutes."  Frank smiled and went to do that, helping Eric inside since he was stuck bent over.  "Hmm, popped funny?  First room, Frank.  Put him on the table while I wash my hands.  I was cleaning the new weapons Giles sent."  He went to do that.  He came back to find Eric on his stomach.  "Got a scent you like?"

"I don't care," he moaned.

"Want strawberries?  I've got a lot of that."  That got a shrug.  So he got to work on his back once he got his shirt off him.

Calleigh nearly jumped when she heard the moans through the speaker next to her on the couch.  "Who is that?"

"Eric," Speed said.  "You hit the switch with your elbow."  Frank came up the stairs.  "What happened to Delko this time?"

"Popped his back funny I guess.  The boy promised cookies?"  Speed pointed at the cooling rack, letting him steal two.  "Thanks, guys."  He headed out again, smiling and happy.  He had done his good deed for the week.

Calleigh smiled.  "We work with some sweet deprived people."

"We do," Ryan agreed.  "I stole one from the fridge."  She swatted him but she was smiling.  "So, Speed, I got an email from Willow today?  She was threatening me to take better care of her Xander-shaped friend.  Didn't mention you at all."

"I'm sure it'll be fine," Speed said dryly.  Horatio came out of the bedroom looking embarrassed.  "Did you find his porn stash?" he taunted.  "Poor H."

"I did find it and it wasn't what embarrassed me."  He held up a very graphic picture and letter stapled to it.  "Anya?"

"His ex.  The prom date."  Calleigh moaned.  She had heard that story.  "What's she want?"

"Him back for more sex."

"Ah, the orgasms.  She never calls it sex, it's always about the orgasms."

"It's good she doesn't have a problem getting off but that's a bit much," Calleigh complained.  Horatio handed over the letter and she went bright red after the first paragraph.  "That poor boy.  He dated someone like this?"

"Keep reading.  She'll tell him how she tortured someone new soon enough."  He checked on the next round of cookies, letting Horatio steal some with a head shake.  His whole team needed more sweets.  They all heard another loud moan from Eric over the speaker and a quiet voice, then he slowly drifted off.  They heard a door shut and then Xander came up the stairs, coming over to wash off his hands.  "How did he throw his back?"

"Getting into one of the hummers.  It popped wrong.  He's napping and the door's locked so no one can go take pictures."  He gave his father a look.  "Because I know you have one of me napping after my prom."

"I do, you looked cute in my t-shirt.  It's the wallpaper on my computer."  He smirked and held up a cookie.  Xander opened his mouth so he could have it while he finished cleaning off the oil.   He smiled and checked this new pan of them, taking them out to let them cool off while he scooped out the last of the batter.  When he was done Xander stole the bowl to get it cleaner with his fingers, sitting down to share it with Calleigh, who smiled and got her own out.

The two men shared a look then took pictures of them with their phones, but even if they complained it was too cute to give up.


Xander bounced down the stairs the next morning, finding Horatio knocking.  "I don't have you in my books but I have room if you wanted me to work on your shoulders, Horatio."

He smile slightly.  "I could use that now and then but I came confiscate some of the things in your closet."


"Because it's dangerous and you have too much moisture around your plastique."

"I'm buying a big bucket of baking soda tonight."

"Damp rid, Xander."  Xander nodded at that and let him have whatever he needed, making sure he didn't take it all, then he patted him on the back.  "Could you do my shoulders?"

"Sure. But I'd still have to make you pay."

"How about we trade favors?  You continue to clean Speed's guns for him.  I'll play wall when you need to talk.  I'll even keep Yelina from complaining too loudly about your other job.  And you give me ten minutes a week?"

"I can manage that.  Not like I didn't intend to clean his gun for him when I did the others anyway.  I do all mine once a week."  He got Horatio sitting in one of the massage chairs.  "Off with the jacket and shirt, Horatio.  Let's see what I can do with his stress knot that's making you hunch over today."  Horatio nodded, sliding out of his jacket and handing it off.  Xander hung it up on a hanger, which he appreciated.  Then his shirt went over the bar.  It wouldn't wrinkle that way so it was fine.  "Any particular scent of oil?"

"Not strawberry.  Your father's been teasing Eric all day about smelling like a teenage girl."  Xander giggled and let him sniff one, making him moan.  That one was a musk and it went well with his cologne so he nodded.  He felt warm, slippery hands a minute later and moaned for different reasons.  "I'm getting people gift certificates for Christmas," he moaned, holding onto the headrest of the chair.  Xander coaxed his arms back down and he did up his neck, then down the center of his back, digging into the knot he carried in his shoulders. Horatio nearly came when it released, but he had some control.  He did pant some and felt Xander stroke the nape of his neck. "Thank you."

"Welcome.  Want me to work on your gun hand?  It's been tingling from a cramp according to dad."  He pulled over a small rolling stool and sat down, working on that arm,  feeling the writer's cramp up near his elbow.  It released and he worked on the pins and needles, making Horatio one happy man.  He put his hand down and patted him on the back.  "I've still got to clean in here after Eric yesterday so nap if you want to," he said quietly, moving to get the cloths off the table for the wash and then spray and wipe down the tables.  Horatio stood up and stretched up and Xander came over to work on one knotted area.  "That's a lump, Horatio."

"It's a scar," he admitted, turning to look at him.  "I got shot there."

"Ah.  I have a few that bunch up when I stretch too."   He smiled.  "I cleaned Dad's gun for him last night."

"Thank you."  He slid back on his shirt while Xander finished cleaning and then the chair as well.   He watched as the boy went to start a load of wash, making him smile. "You don't wait until it's full?"

"It is full. My last client's is in there too."  He came back after folding some and putting them into the sterilizer.  "If you need it, call me to come to the office.  I might make house calls but you'd definitely have to pay for those," he offered with a cheeky grin.

"I should be mean and send Rick Stetler to you but he's an asshole."

"I heard stepmom going off on him last night."  Horatio nodded.  "Hell, I hit the right spots on Eric, I could probably do his."

"Just don't do it to Yelina," he warned.

"I noticed she was a bit uptight and I never try, it's just where Eric was in pain."  He shrugged.  "A lot of people get that reaction.  We were told in classes not to giggle at it."  Horatio smiled, walking out shaking his head.  But he wasn't hunched in today and he could feel his right hand so it was good.  He checked his book.  He felt like he was missing something on that page.  He hoped he hadn't forgotten to schedule someone in. If so, his grandfather was going to be upset when he canceled at the last minute.  He went back to puttering and cleaning the downstairs.  He did not want to look like a slob to any of his clients.  Bad word of mouth when he was just getting started was suicide on his business.  When he was done he carried one of the speakers upstairs to check on the second floor.  He'd only used it a few times but that was fine.  He closed that door, made sure it wasn't going to get barged into.  Then his apartment door as well.  Then he went back down in time to intercept his newest one since she was parking and getting out of her car.  He smiled as he let her in.  "Hi, Mrs. Fabber."

"Hello, Tim. Usual room?"

"I just cleaned it so it may smell like chemicals.  Let's put you in the second room today."  He took her arm and walked her that way, having to get things out of the sterilizer for her. "Here you go, just out of the sterilizer so it's a bit warm."  She nodded and he left to let her change.  When she called he came back and found her favorite oil, the strawberry one, and got to work on her back.

"Ooh, dear, a bit firm today."

"Sorry, Mrs. Fabber.  I was just working on a guy's shoulders."  He eased off and she relaxed again, letting him do whatever he needed to do to make her quit aching for a while longer. By the end she was napping again so he recovered her and left her in there with the door locked.  He knew about how long she napped now and he tuned the speaker on his hip so he could keep track of her.  He didn't have another client for an hour so he did the windows, listening to her snore.  Then it stopped.  He put down things and took off his plastic gloves, going to tap on the door.  "Mrs. Fabber?"  No answer.  Still no snoring.  "Mrs. Fabber?" he called a bit louder.  Still no answer.  He got the key and peeked in on her.  She was completely still.  He checked her pulse then dialed for an ambulance while he started CPR.

"This is 13568 Artisan.  I had a client die during a nap.  I'm doing CPR.  Now please."  He hung up and went back to it.  An officer rushed in.  "Here."  He came in to take over.  "She was napping after a massage."  That got a nod and they got her breathing again, which was a relief.  The paramedics rushed in.  "It was maybe three minutes when I heard her stop snoring," he offered.  That got a nod and they checked her over before loading her.  He handed them her carefully folded clothes and cane.  "That's hers.  Keep the gown, I've got more."  They nodded and took her with them.  Xander looked at the officer.  "Come on, I've got good anti-bacterial soaps."  They went to clean off their hands and he sat down with him.  "She has arthritis.  I was working on her back and then her ankles today.  She usually falls asleep, has every other time I've seen her, all three of them, so I lock her in and let her nap.  It's only fair."

"You offer *massages* or massages."

"Even when I'm being a dom I don't sell that release, officer."  That got a startled look.  "I'm also Master Tim."

"Oh!  You're Speedle's son."  He nodded.  "Okay, so you're offering massage therapy services."

"Yeah.  All my dom stuff is on the second floor.  Anyway, she was napping, I have a speaker on my belt," he said, handing it over.  "I have it tuned to in there since she was my only client at the moment.  I went to do some windows while she napped.  She usually naps for about a half hour.  I always lock the door when I leave anyone napping, just so they can't be bothered."  That got a nod and a small smirk.  "It's only courteous."

"It is.  So you heard over the speaker that she quit breathing?"

"Snoring. She has this really quiet snore.  So I went to make sure she was getting up. I know she has a lunch date today at the Palms."  That got written down.  "I knocked, she didn't answer.  I tried it again a bit louder and she didn't answer, so I went to get the key since I wasn't hearing anything.  She was still so I checked her pulse then started CPR while I called."

"That's fine, Mr. Harris.  You've seen her four times now?"  He nodded.  "Good.  I know it's not your fault.  Some people have sleep apnea and she was older."

"I'm very sure I wouldn't have impacted her breathing with what I was doing.  She's a bit fragile.  Last time she told me she had pneumonia last winter.  That's when they moved down here permanently."

"That's fine, son.  Let's go make sure she didn't leave anything."  That got a nod and he did that, then he headed to the Palms to find her friends.  They'd know who to contact about her being in the hospital.

Xander sat down on his front stairs, calling his dad.  "Daddy, Mrs. Fabber coded on the table while she napped," he said quietly.  "No, we got her restarted. She's at the ER.  I don't know.  She was snoring one minute and then not."  He nodded.  "Thank you.  I needed the long-distance hug.  No, I'll be okay.  We got her restarted.  No, I know it wasn't my fault.  I barely worked on her shoulders because she was walking like her hip was out of place.  I concentrated on her lower back today.  Already has.  Yeah, she'll hopefully be fine.  I told them about her lunch date so her friends could help the officer find her family.  No, I don't take more than cells in case I have to cancel.  He didn't ask and I didn't think to offer."  He nodded.  "Thanks, dad.  I needed the comfort."  He hung up and sipped his soda, looking at his curious neighbor.

"My last client died during a nap after I worked on her back.  I got her restarted.  Thankfully I've got speakers."  She nodded at that and gave him a hug then went back to her pottery painting.  Xander checked himself for paint but he was clean.  He went back to doing windows.  He'd check on her later. Give the hospital time to work on her and put her in a room.  He did call Lady Heather.  "I'm sorry you're disappointed in me.  No, I'm not okay.  I had one nice older lady fall asleep for a nap and then code during it," he said grimly.  "No, we got her restarted.  Yeah, an officer got here pretty quick after I called it in.  No, just sulking."  She said something wise.  "He did, Lady Heather.  I'm sorry I disappointed you that way," he said quietly.  He hung his head.  "I know.  Thank you, Lady Heather."  He hung up and felt really miserable now.  She hadn't chastised him at all.


Lady Heather walked into Xander's home later that afternoon, looking at him.  "No clients?"

"I'm between for the next hour and a half."  She gave him a hug and he sank into her arms.  "I'm sorry."

"Shh, Xander.  I understand why you did it and I realize that it was probably the easiest death they could have had."  She stroked over his hair, sitting down next to him in the living room to soothe and comfort him, even if he did work on her hands for her while they talked.  It was good for the boy to finish getting it out and he did give good hand massages.  At the end he was totally limp and she gave him another hug, getting clung to.  "Shh," she whispered.  He nodded and settled himself again.  She smiled at him.  "Even doms occasionally need to let go, Xander.  We get so much piled on us that we have to let it go now and then."  She smoothed his hair off his face. "We take on the weight the others can't bear.  Just as therapists need to have someone who they can go to, so do you, and I am proud that you think of me like a stepmother and close enough to come to me."  He nodded.  "As I feel the ability to let you protect me now and then.  Even though I'm not fragile."

"All good women should be spoiled and treated like they're special, fragile, and delicate."  She smiled at that.  "You're not mad?"

"No, sweetie.  I'm not mad.  I'm not even disappointed anymore.  You told me why.  I understand what happened to them and I realize why you did it.  It's important for you to forgive yourself now.  If you carry it around it will taint what you can do to help others."  He nodded.  "Good boy.  That's my Xander."  She stroked over his hair again.   "Now.  Gregory has to come back in a week.  I will expect you two to behave together from now on."  Xander nodded.  "Good boy.  I have talked to him and we had a long talk to make sure he still feels comfortable with you.  If not...."

"I'll drive him back to you immediately."

"Good boy.  That's the dom I trained." Xander smiled at him.  "Now, pull yourself back together, dear.  I know it's hard but now's the time to be yourself again.  There's no more need for confession."  Xander nodded, relaxing and letting that settle into his mind so he could let it go.  "Good."  He smiled back at her this time.  "Good boy."   She went back to petting him, waving the officer inside when she noticed him listening.  "Come in, dear."

"Confession?" he asked.

"I knew what attacked those Mala Noche guys."

"Oh.  You told someone, right?"  Xander nodded.  "Then let it go, they were scum.  It was probably a nicer death than they'd have gotten on the streets."  He looked at him.  "Mr. Fabber wanted to speak to you.  I didn't have one of your cards."  Xander got one from the holder on the table in front of him and handed it over. "Thank you."

"Is she all right?"

"Just fine.  They said it was a heart attack.  It happens.  I don't think he's upset with you."

"He could still try to sue him."

"Not really.  There's no real way for him to have caused a heart attack, right?"

"Well, yes, but I didn't use that technique on her. She's too frail for pressure points."

"Then you don't have a problem," he assured him.  He smiled and took the card back to the husband and to do one last final check.  "Sir, he's still torn up and asked how your wife was."

"What did he do to her?"

"Nothing that he hasn't done to others.  He said she's visited him four times total."  He gave him a look.  "He said that she's too fragile for anything that would have caused a heart attack so unless she had a blood clot that she didn't tell him about there's no real way for him to have known.  He did get her restarted."

That got a nod.  "He home?"

"He is. Talking with a woman to calm himself down."


"Welcome, Mr. Fabber.  Talk with the doctors before you start accusing.  It might make you feel better but it'll destroy him."  He left, going to file his report on this situation. Not like he could have prevented the heart attack.  Mr. Fabber went to see his wife's doctor, see if the masseuse could have prevented this.  He got back a 'no' and shown where the blood clot had moved.  He hadn't known she had one even if she had.  Her medical records said she knew.  The doctor showed him the path it would've taken.  It was in her upper thigh so unless he had worked on those, and his wife never would let anyone that near to her private spaces, he hadn't been responsible. Just bad luck on his part.  So he didn't mind when the flowers came in with the young man.  And he was young.  Xander nodded at him and murmured a quiet apology, which he accepted graciously with the flowers, and let him go speak to his wife while he watched.  She patted him on the hand and told him to quit being stupid.  Told him all he needed to know, she'd gut him if he went after that boy anyway.


Xander came down the stairs at the knock, letting his grandfather in.  "Be a few more."  He went back upstairs to clean up the mess he had made with his last client.  He had been nearly impossible to break but he had broken.  He was watching him clean from the couch in the corner.  "My grandfather's here to take me to something tonight."

"Do you want me to leave?"

"No, you don't have to."  He came over to squat in front of him.  "If you need quiet to think, you can have the couch until I get back in a few hours.  You're an officer, I'll trust you not to steal anything," he said with a wink and a smile.  He got one back.  He stroked over his hair.  "It's all right, Jamie.  Just rest and think."

"I can't quit thinking."

"Then think on this.  He had a gun.  He would have used it on you.  Would you rather have  left your family alone and unguarded, barely able to get by while they grieved, or lost him?"

"Him," he agreed quietly.  He looked at the doorway and Xander pushed it closed.  He looked at him again.  "Thank you."

"It's what I do.  That's why I charge guys like you who need it a lot less than I do the people who just want to play."  That got a shy smile. "Okay?"  He nodded and gave him a hug.  "Now, let's spread another round of the numbing cream on.  That way your wife doesn't worry when you can't sit for the next day and a bit."

"Yes, Master Tim."  He flipped onto his stomach and Xander applied the numbing cream, making him hiss a few times but it did work very well.   He was able to sit up a few minutes later.  He hugged him.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome, Jamie.  Come back as often as you need me.  This is why I joined the field.  It wasn't for the great money making potential."  That got a small grin.  "Go home and hold your wife.  Don't try for anything else, just hold her tonight.  If she's still worried that you can't do more than that, tell her you had to hit someone in the line of duty and you're working with a therapist at the moment.  That it'll take a few more weeks but you're working through it.  Explain it to her if you have to.  If she's the woman you married who loves you enough to run away with you, like you told me she did, then she'll at least try to understand."  He nodded and Xander gave him another hug. "There you go.  I would suggest you take tomorrow off and soak.  I was a bit harsh."

"You had to be but I can do that.  Thank you."  He got up slowly and Xander helped him into his clothes like he was a child.  Nothing inappropriate.  Nothing sexual at all.  That's why he had come to him.  He gave him one last hug and went to call a cab so he could go home.  He did feel better after just the first session.  He went home to his wife and took her up to soak in the tub with her now.  His back and ass were stinging even with the cream.  He sat with her cuddled in his lap and told her what had happened, and she did soothe him, though she didn't like the idea of him going back.  He pointed out it had helped and he  was seeing if he needed another appointment.  He'd definitely have to schedule a day off afterward.  He had been told it might be a good idea before this one. She babied all the belt marks and the bruises for him, making him one happy guy that was able to very gentle and slowly do more than cuddle with her that night.  It had helped him a lot to let it out.

Xander finished cleaning his instruments then went up to shower.  "Sorry, he was a bit harder to break and he needed the extra time."  He slid into the shower that was running, working on getting clean and pretty.  He got out and went to get his suit out of the closet, drying off his hair on the way.  It went into a ponytail at the base of his neck, that's how Calleigh suggested he wear it tonight, and then the suit went on after he put on deodorant.  He came out and his grandfather smiled at his choice of shirt.  "It goes, right?"

"It does," he agreed.  He stood up.  "That was fast.  Cologne?"

Xander went back to do that, coming out smelling like one of his oils.  It was a good scent.  That got a smile and they left together, Xander locking his doors and turning on the alarm.  Then he skipped out to the limo and headed out for the event.  He almost looked like a bodyguard for his grandfather for most of the night.  But he didn't have a panic attack and flee.  It was a good thing.  At the end of the night, his grandfather took him out for ice cream, making him smile at that move.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome, Xander."  He sat across from him.  "How did you like it?"

"They scare the hell out of me."

"I noticed you hovering protectively behind my shoulder," he said dryly.  "They must think you're very protective of me."

"Of course I am.  You're fragile."

"I am not."

"Bullshit.  Otherwise you wouldn't need Ethan."  He ate another bite and looked at him, getting a laugh.

"True, I will concede that point.  Still, you could have talked with others."

"None of them made me feel very comfortable but that one guy and he was taken so I couldn't flirt."

"True."  He patted his hand.  "We'll see what we can do, grandson."

"Ryan's trying to set me up on a blind date."

"Are you going to go?"

"I like Ryan and I think he's got nice taste."  He smiled shyly and stuffed his mouth.

"Do we perhaps like Ryan?"

"He's straight."

"Pity.  It can often be that way for crushes."

"No, he's a friend, not a crush.  We'd never put up with each other in bed.  I'm much more bouncy than he is."

"Of course."  He smiled and stroked his cheek.  "Until then, what shall we do?"

"Well, I've got a pretty full book tomorrow so I'm waiting to see how much backlash there is since I had a client who had a heart attack today during her usual post-massage nap."  That got a nod.  "And how much you get because one of the guys there did recognize me in my other persona."  He ate a bite.  "I know that what I do isn't highly welcomed in the community."

"Yes but a great deal of people have bragged about your hands.  I believe even that nice Lieutenant Caine did."  Xander blushed at that name.  "Ah.  A crush perhaps?"

"Maybe.  He's a nice guy.  But if I did that then I'd lose my confidant."

"Perhaps. But there's a special bond between those who are intimate.  You could perhaps be more free with him then."  Xander shook his head. "You think not?"

"No, I know not.  I'm one protective person about whoever I date.  I'd end up growling at someone who bothered him.  Who is across the way."

His grandfather looked then shrugged at his grandson.  "What can he say?  That you're out with me to have ice cream?"

"True.  Not like most everyone doesn't know I'm bi there."  He ate another bite and stole some of his grandfather's, getting an indulgent smirk.  "You're not eating it."

"Fine."  He dug in, enjoying the simple sundae.  Xander did make him enjoy many things.  "You do know you have one other relative?  I should have told you that by now."

"Besides my still living sperm donor?  Yeah.  But you never told me who."

"You're still mad at him?"

"He brought people up to sell me to them.  I'm going to kill him myself if I see him.  There's also Uncle Rory though I never knew which side of the family he was on."

"He was your father's lover.  He couldn't get rid of him and his wife laughed at the urges he succumbed to now and then."  He ate a bite of ice cream.  "He hated that part of himself.  It's part of what made him drink."

"Then he's an idiot," Xander said firmly.  "Especially with you being there telling him it's okay?  He's an idiot."

"True.  He was.  He walked away from everything that was his."

"Even a bigger idiot, he moved to Sunnydale."  He stuffed his mouth and his grandfather snickered.  "Tell me your sire encouraged that?"

"He did.  He wanted me to kill the boy.  I waited to see if he would give me any grandchildren.  You nearly had a big sister but she died when your mother was only six months along."  He stroked his cheek with a gentle smile.  "Then they had you and I tried from day one to rescue you, Xander."  Xander nodded at that.  "Now, you do have...  Hmm, how best to put this.  My second wife's family has a few members left in direct lineage.  Her brother and his family still live."

"So I've got a cousin?"

"I guess that's as close as you could probably quantify it. It's not a real relationship to you but you would probably see it that way since it's Don Flack's family."  Xander dropped his spoon. "Ah, the other crush," he said wisely. "There's no impediment to that, Xander.  There's no real relationship."

"Yeah, there's a roadblock to that.  He likes enlarged pectoral regions."

"Well, that is a point."  He smiled and patted his hand.  "Eat, dear."

"Only if you do. I feel like a pig."  His grandfather ate another bite so Xander ate a few while he thought.  "Does Don know?"

"Not yet.  I was going to travel up to see him."

"Bring him down.  He could use the vacation," he offered.  "He can even borrow my spare bedroom."

"I'll let him know that," he promised, smiling at him.  "Now, we have to talk on something else."  Xander moaned and put down his spoon.  "I am dying, Xander."

"I know that.  I hate that.  I don't want your money."

He nodded.  "As I knew you would say but someone has to continue to do my good works.  We're presently debating a trust situation over a foundation being created to follow up with what I have been doing for decades."

"A foundation means a lot of work, Grandfather. I like you a lot, and I probably could say I love you like a relative, but I'm not giving up my career for you."

"As I thought it was going to go. A trust would pay you part of your inheritance and then make you donate some of it to worthy causes."

"You didn't like the pound after all?"

He smiled.  "I did.  I encourage you to continue to donate to them, Xander.  But also to some gay charities."

"Of course."  He ate a bite of his grandfather's sundae for him since his was only the chocolate sauce in the bottom of the dish and scraping it out would be undignified.  "What if you set up one of your guys to run a scholarship grant thingy?"

"That is one option I do like," he agreed.  "That and other donations.  Though most of the people who work around me are ill as well, Xander.  Gordon, the one who does all my legal issues, has lung cancer.  Most of them won't last past when I do."

Xander looked at him.  "Is your sire still alive?  I got a suspicious birthday card at home."

"He is," he agreed.  "He seems to enjoy annoying Angel now and then.  By the way, Ethan told Angel that I was your grandfather.  He said the digital video of him... I think he called it freaking out, was quite amusing."  Xander smirked at that, looking just a bit wicked.  "So I'm sure it's gotten back to your Mr. Giles."

"Probably.  I'm surprised I haven't had a request to interview you yet."

"I'm surprised he hasn't asked you to stake me."

"He'd send Buffy."

"No, she's with her Uncle in Oregon this week."

"I wonder if Mom knows since she's in Seattle."

"She's stopping in to see her overnight on the way back."

"Good.  You know, I haven't told mom about your unique status.  Just that you're around."

"Your mother would also freak out."

"Yeah, that's probably putting it mildly.  Then again she wanted to cut dad into cocktail weenie chunks, stick toothpicks in the chunks, and give snacks to the vampires one night when she heard he was going to sell me that time."

"Did she know about the last one?"

"I called to tell her I was fine, not why I was fine.  We had a general talk about that."

"Hmm.  Interesting.  They weren't sure which way you went.  They're leaving Seattle this week from what I heard."

"Tell daddy and Horatio.  Please?"

"I shall pass that on, Xander."  He patted his hand and pushed his ice cream over.  Xander handed him back his spoon so they shared it with a set of grins at each other.  "Your mother is a very fierce woman."

"She is.  She's also a loud woman."

"True.  She is loud as well," he agreed, smiling at him.  "But that is a good thing now and then."

"It is."  He ate one last bite and pushed it back, making him eat the rest.  "That's the only mooching I'm doing, Grandfather."

"I have to leave it to someone, grandson."


"Some of it will be.  This way my good deeds go on for many years instead of just a few years."  Xander nodded at that.  "But do watch out for your step-grandfather.  He is a pain in my arse."

"Is he the reason I have the suspicious birthday card?"

"I know I didn't send it, but I was looking for something special."  He looked at him. "I could pay off your mortgage."

"No, if I had wanted that I would've come gotten it through you instead of the bank," he said plainly.  That got an understanding nod.  "I want to make it on my own."

"I know you do.  I suspect the check inside the card is more than enough to pay it off though."

"Yay," he sighed.  "Well, dad'll be pleased.  He wanted me to get some real people clothes as he called them."  That got a chuckle.  "He said I look very good in leather but he wants to see me in stuff to go clubbing with him in."

"You should go and bring that delightful lieutenant in with you both and that one playboy.   Now that is one man who would make a fine vampire."

Xander looked at him.  "No woman would ever be safe."  His grandfather giggled so hard he started to cough, but he waved off the waitress and his guards to help calm him back down.  "Sorry."

"No, it was true," he promised, patting his hand.  "That is a scary image."  He smiled and stroked his cheek.  "Let me pay the check then I'll drop you at home.  It's late and you probably have early clients."

"I quit scheduling anyone before ten."

That got a nod and they paid the check, he let Xander leave the tip, then they drove him home.  He kissed him on the forehead. "Be well tonight, Xander.  Sleep sweetly."

"You too, grandfather."  He slid out and went inside, waving from the doorway before he shut the door.  The limo went home so he could go to bed and Xander sat down to look at the birthday card.  Inside was indeed enough money to make him go shopping.  He put it into his desk with the day's receipts.  He had decided not to charge Mrs. Fabber.  She had nearly died and that was crass of him to remind her of that. Then he checked the rest of the house and went upstairs to hang the suit carefully up in his closet and go to bed.


Speed looked up at the courier from Father Benis.  "What's up?"

"I'm to deliver this to your supervisor, Detective."

"He's on a scene.  Can I take it?"

"It is about what brought your son down early."  Speed snatched it and opened it, getting a smile.  "Sign?"  He scribbled his name on the form.  "Thank you.  Father Benis also said his sire sent your son a birthday gift."  He left.

"Does that mean it's this week?  He won't let me celebrate it with him."

"Tuesday," he called.  "He'll be nineteen.  Father Benis was most amused at the magically hidden date."

"Thanks."  He walked off reading this new information.  His homicide was completely forgotten.  He pulled out his phone to call Aiden.  "The mother fucker who his parents sold him to this time and his father were in your city and you didn't stop them?" he demanded in the middle of the hall.  "Hell yes!  You didn't hear?"  He groaned, holding his head.  "No, Flack and them handled it then sent him down here for his own protection.  He's set up shop here in Miami.  Yeah, that sort too.  Massage stuff too.  Yeah, come down for a vacation and bring Flack.  There's a note included saying his grandfather wanted to see him.  That's a longer discussion, Aiden, and we should have it in person.  Thanks.  You can have my spare room.  Love you too."  He hung up and called Horatio.  "Patrick Benis sent information saying the people who nearly took Xander and his father were just in Seattle after Las Vegas and are now down here," he said in greeting.  Horatio said he'd be right back so he hung up and went to make copies for everyone who needed it.  Including candid photos.  Whoever had done the sketches had a good eye.  He finished stapling them as Eric and Calleigh came in.  Ryan was with Horatio.  "Good, they're on their way down here in two days according to Patrick."  He handed over the copies.  "Including photos his people got."

"Thank you, does Aiden know?"

"I called and told her.  She had no idea it had happened."

"He didn't want to worry her," Ryan told him. "The same as you only found out when they sent him down here."  He handed over the note to get Don down.  "Think that's your job."  Speed looked then nodded, walking off to call him.  "Hmm.  Looks like they had a hand in Lady Heather's problem too," Ryan noted.

"It does," Horatio agreed.  Ryan called her in for a short conference.  Then he went to fax his copies of things to Greg.  Just in case it would help solve anything out that way.  He smiled when Lady Heather was escorted in, giving her his copy so she could read it.

She sat down and then looked at him. "You think it is so?"

"I think it is so and I'm going to inquire if they took fingerprints somehow or not."

"Thank you.  Who are these dead people?"

"One's Xander's father.  Xander told you about that guy who sent him the check?" Eric asked.  She nodded at that.  "Well, he called his parents and they decided to sell him again."

"Again?" she asked weakly.

"Fourth time overall," Speed said as he came back with some water for her.  "We saved him from the third.  That supposed master in LA."  That got a low growl.  He nodded.  "We made them run for their lives when they tried for him then."

"Good.  This time?"

"They brought them out on the information check guy provided so he could step in and rescue Xander," Eric told her.  "According to the NYPD reports, his mother was shot by them after Xander managed to evade initial capture and went to Sassone to get out of Queens and to Don Flack."

"Then they figured he was being sent away for his safety and figured he had just been at my house.  They found something objectionable because my slaves aren't like theirs so they burned my house down?" she suggested.  They all nodded.  "I would like a few moments with them."

"If they live they'll have to go back to Vegas for the arson charges," Horatio assured her. That got a mean and wicked smirk from her.  "You'd have to arrange that with Gregory and Grissom."

"True."  She nodded.  "He's coming down to escort me back.  He'll be in tonight."

"Xander's got a full appointment book today," Speed warned, "but he's more than welcome to make him feel better after his client yesterday had a heart attack."

"I'll let him know that."  She looked at Horatio.  "We'll get them coming off the plane?"

"If possible.  I do not want to use the boy as bait."

"Good.  Though he is apparently very good at it.  Buffy used him as such."

"All too often," Speed agreed.  "She's heading to see Aiden or Aiden would already be on a plane down here.  She's probably yelling at Xander already."

"Good."  She stood up, handing that back. "Thank you, gentlemen, for keeping me in the loop."

Horatio gave her a shoulder squeeze.  "I always let the victims know what is going on," he said gently.  She nodded at that, kissing him on the cheek before allowing herself to be escorted out.

"That is one hell of a woman," Eric said.

"Yes, but she needs someone who can share her attentions and affections.  I don't share, Eric," Horatio reminded him.  "Let's get on this, people.  I want them coming off the plane if the FBI doesn't stop them from flying."  They nodded and went to work on it.  He debated sending a copy to Xander, but he would be fiercely protective of Lady Heather for this and probably shoot them or something.  So he'd let Speed tell him later.  He looked up as someone walked into his office. "Yes, Rick?"  A picture was held up of Xander obviously talking to someone who wasn't in the picture even though they were in a booth.  "An ice cream date?  That's sweet for a first date."

"Who was the old man who never showed up?  He showed up in some of the digital ones and not this one?"  He handed over another picture.  "Speedle's son is fleecing old men now?"

Horatio cleared his throat.  "That's his grandfather, Rick.  That's Patrick Benis."  Rick looked horrified.  "Xander's father walked away from his family when his father joined the priesthood after he lost his third wife.  Patrick has been watching over and trying to gain custody of Xander since the day he was born.  He introduced himself to Xander when he got sent to New York.  They've been getting to know each other since then.  As for why that one picture didn't turn out, I do not know," he admitted.  Well, he did have an idea.  He had counted up the years on Patrick Benis when Speed had told him.  There was no way that man was still human.  The lack of pictures and the fact he was said to always have cold hands meant vampire to him. "His grandfather is dying at the moment."

"So they went out for ice cream?"

Ryan leaned in.  "They're on a private plane.  They're on their way down but someone tipped them off. They've changed headings to land outside of Miami.  They'll probably drive in from across the state line or something."

"Do you know this man, Officer Wolfe?" he demanded, holding up the second picture.

"Yeah, that's Father Benis, Xander's grandfather.  Speed said something about him taking Xander to a fundraiser last night to show him off.  I'm guessing that was afterward."  He shrugged.

"The only fundraiser last night was for gay marriage," Stetler sneered.

"Which his grandfather is known for championing," Ryan pointed out.  "Father Benis is big in giving to gay charities.  He is gay, one of his former children was by a speech he's given in the past.  He was killed in the fifties I believe.  If I remember right."  He shrugged.  "Xander's a kid from his third marriage, not his first."

"I see.  How did you know?"

"I asked Xander.  That's what wise people do when they want to know about Xander."

"I don't like that inference."

"It's the truth.  He can still hide things from Speed.  Asking the boy himself is the wisest course of action.  Horatio, I put a guard on his house."

"Thank you.  Did he ask why?"

"No, he came out and told them to be less obvious about it and that he did know.  He asked his grandfather to tell you guys."  He shrugged and walked away again.

"Get back here," Stetler demanded.

"I have work to do.  There's people who need me to find out who killed or hurt their relatives, Stetler."  He waved a hand.

Horatio smothered his smirk.  That was a very good comeback.  He was proud of his newest officer.  He looked at Rick, looking perfectly calm and straight.  "Anything else, Rick?  It's not unusual for young men to spend time with their grandfather.  It was good that they sent us the information on what was going on so we could protect his grandson."

"Is that boy gay?"

"Ask him that.  I didn't feel the need to."

Rick sneered.  "If he is...."

"Speedle is not his natural father," he reminded him.  "He's a very loving soul and if you should create problems for his son I would hate to see the outcome, Rick."  He stomped off.  He called Speed.  "Rick just wanted to know if your son was gay," he said blandly.  "No, Speed, I don't think he wants to date him," he said dryly, hearing him say a very loud prayer for that.  "I thought I should warn you.  He caught Patrick and his grandson out last night."  He smiled and hung up on the swearing.


Eric gave Speed an odd look.  "Maybe I should drive," he suggested when Speed started to pray.  When the swearing started, he made Speed pull over and let him drive.  Before the other guy spontaneously combusted.  "What's going on?"

"Stetler wanted to know if my son was gay.  Came up to Horatio with pictures of Patrick and Xander out last night."

"Not like we care.  The whole station knows he's bi.  With the way gossip goes, the whole PD knows your son's bi by now."

"I don't want it to hurt any of his clients."

"It won't.  I think I'm the only one he's ever gotten off."

"We heard," he agreed. "Calleigh turned on the monitor system and heard you groan and snore."

"I'm not embarrassed.  It felt good!"

"I'm sure it did.  It does when he works on my back too.  Though Horatio did come in really happy when he worked that lump out of his shoulders."  Eric laughed at that.  "He did."

"He did," he agreed.  "Where were we heading?"

"Airport to get their amended flight plan if we can."  That got a nod and he headed that way, taking the right exit.  "I'm just happy Stetler wasn't asking to see if he could ask him out."


"That's why I prayed.  I'd have to let Aiden have him if that would happen."  Eric shuddered.  "Exactly. She didn't know what happened in New York."

"I'm sure most of Seattle does now," he offered.

"Hmm.  Yup."  He called Calleigh.  "Aiden's coming down to check on Xander and I offered her the spare room.  If you're going to complain, get it out now. She didn't know that Xander nearly got taken."  He listened to her calm voice.  "No, we're not like that," he sighed.  "She's like an ex, Calleigh.  Really.  Probably as close as you'll ever get to an ex- wife for me.  Thanks."  He smiled as he hung up.  "She'll go talk to Alexx and throw her fits quietly.

"Even better.  I'm hoping it doesn't come down to gun play between them."

"You and me both," he sighed.  "They should get along okay.  Aiden's really blunt.  Calleigh will ask and she'll answer it happened a few times but nothing else. No strings."

"Just making sure you were alive?"

"Yeah.  How did you know about Sunnydale?"

"Mom used to tell us stories about this Boca del Inferno place.  Really nasty bedtimes stories."

"Yeah, that's Sunnydale's other name."  They pulled into the airport and got out, heading inside.  The guards gave them wary looks.  "Not here for anyone yet."  That got a nod and they were escorted to the private terminal.  Transit cops were very protective of their turf.


Xander smiled at his newest client, who was staring at the officers sitting outside.  "Someone who threatened me back in New York is coming down to do it again," he assured her.  "That's for my protection."

"Oh, good."  She let him lead her back to her room and get something out of the sterilizer for her.  "Thank you, Tim."

"Welcome, Miss Constance."  He left her alone to get changed, looking at the officer walking in.  "Hi."

"Hi.  You're gay?"

"Bi but I date women who want to kill me.  Therefore I don't often date women."

"Ah.  Well, at least I know you're not going to do anything to me."  Xander shook his head. "Do you have time?"

"Not until lunch, which is in about an hour.  I've got a client in for a full body massage."  That got a smile.  "Go ahead and sit, Jamie."  He nodded and went to sit and wait. He went to wash his hands and then throw in another load of wash since he was so busy.  Then he went back to check on his client.  "Sorry.  Another one came in and I had to schedule him."

"You are bisexual?"

"I am.  I've dated two men, casually, and four women less than casually but they all wanted to kill me."  She tittered at that.  "Seriously.  My father had to save me from the last one.  She sent me a letter and naked picture recently to entice me back."  She giggled at that.  "Really.  I'd never date any of my clients.  I have ethics and I did her back once so she falls into that category."  She relaxed and let him work on her shoulders to start.  He heard a thump.  "Jamie?" he called.

"Me," Greg called back.


"I can see that.  I'll head upstairs."

"Sure."  He went back to his massage.  "Sorry, a very good friend from Las Vegas."

"Like the dark haired lady?"

"I trained with her," he admitted.  "I love that woman. She's like a mother in a lot of ways."  He slowly moved down her back.  "Too much tennis again?"

"Actually, too much husband," she said dryly.  "He wanted me to be bendable.  I am thirty-three."

"You're still very young, Miss Constance.  He was having flashbacks to his teenage years and brought you with him."

"I wasn't that flexible at that age either."  He giggled at that.  "I wasn't."

"I'm sure you're toning it down," he teased. She looked back at him.  He gave her a knowing look.  "We were all naughty as teenagers."

"We were.  I had a lot of fun back then too."  She smiled and went back to letting him work out all her pain and muscle cramps.  "Only two men?"

"I'm still moving slowly with that."

"I saw your picture in the paper today.  You were out with Father Benis?"

"He's my grandfather," he said quietly.  "He wanted me to go.  I'm not real comfortable in that sort of setting but he wanted me to be shown off.  He nagged because everyone thought I was his bodyguard."  She giggled and shifted, so he got that cramp too.  She moaned.  "Let it go, Miss Constance.  I've got plenty of time to work out all the sins and naughty things he made you do yesterday."

"It was fun."

"It always is until the next morning."  She giggled and nodded.  When he got done with her, he went to check on Jamie, giving him a hug.  He let Constance pay him and scheduled her next appointment for her, then let her out and locked the door once she was gone.  He sat down beside Jamie again, letting him tell him how his last night had went.  Xander gave him another hug and told him to come see him in a few weeks to make sure he was still okay.  That got a sweet smile and he nodded, heading back to his day off of resting his poor, sore ass.   He had broken it so it was good for him.  Xander bounced upstairs, going to see Greg.  "Greg."  Greg grinned at him.  "No uncomfy feelings?"

"Not yet." Xander came over to hug him, letting him sink into his arms.  "I missed you and I know why you did it."  He kissed him on the cheek and went to his knees, letting Xander pet him. "You should eat."

"I should."  He made a sandwich and sat down to pet Greg while he ate his lunch.  Then he went down to switch out laundry and start a second load for the day. Greg came down to sit with him in the kitchen, just out of sight of the door, getting his pets and attention he needed.  It was good and any doubts he had left vanished with the single touch of Xander's hand.  He was not going to be going back to Lady Heather's tonight.  Xander looked at him, staring at him.  "I still don't date my clients, Greg.  It screws with the relationship we have," he said gently.  Greg pouted.  "It would."

"It would but we can be casual."

"Actually, with what you need, a sexual relationship would be about as good for you.  The casual sex you were doing isn't good for you but a real relationship would be just as good as this."

"I know."  He checked the porch then moved closer to rest his head on Xander's leg.  He got more affection.  "Maybe you're just an ideal."

"I probably am but it's all right. If you weren't my client I'd be honored to let you be my first," he said quietly.  Greg looked up at him.  "Really."  That got a smile.  "For now, you need this, not the other stuff since I'm not in Las Vegas and you're not down here."  Greg nodded, relaxing again. "Over the next few months we'll see if that's what we want to happen since you'll be so far away."

"It'll give us time for rational thought and contemplation or wet dreams."  Xander moaned at that.  Greg snickered and Xander swatted him, making him grin.  "Sorry."

"Behave, Gregory, or I'm spanking," he warned.

"Yes, Master Tim."  Someone tapped on the door and he let Xander go, sitting in the chair instead while he went to get the door. "Want me to switch laundry around since the dryer's nearly done?"

"Please."  He smiled at his first afternoon client.  "Hi.  Welcome to my house."  He got out of the way so she could walk in.

"Your lover?"

"Best friend.  I was working on his neck for a minute."

"Ah."  She followed him into the clean room he had.  She checked everything over and felt that the clothes were still warm when he handed them over.  "Sterilizer?"  He nodded, smiling a bit.  "Thank you, Tim."  He walked out, letting her dress in peace.  He had to clean the other two rooms again.  She decided against the gown and laid down on her stomach for him.  He tapped.  "I'm ready."

He walked in and smiled at her.  "I had to toss in some new laundry.  Would you like music?"  She shook her head.  "All right, I have a few different oils.  Is there any scent you prefer?"

"Something subtle."  He let her sniff two and she liked the last one so he got to work on her shoulders with it.  She moaned and spread her legs, hoping to hint, but he didn't take it.  "Do you sell other services?"

"Not really."

"I've heard you're a dom after hours."

"I am.  I'm of the therapy school of being a dom."  He kept going, ignoring her pointed body hints.  He did not want that reputation.  She pouted at him.  "I don't sleep with my clients, ma'am.  This is all I offer."

She nodded but sighed. "Pity. You could make a lot of money doing the other."

"I don't need more money.  I do fairly well right now for just starting out."  He finished her arms and then moved to her legs, making sure to keep the sheet between him and her so he didn't have to look at her.  He looked at her.   "Greg, can you call Speed and tell him that I need a good dinner tonight?" he called.  He heard an assenting noise.  "Sorry, my boyfriend promised to make dinner tonight and I need to remind him."

"So you are gay?"  He nodded.  "Then your best friend?"

"Is a CSI out of Las Vegas that I met while training with Lady Heather."

"Oh.  Interesting."  She pouted some and declined to set a second appointment when she was done but she did tip him.  He shrugged.  It wasn't worth it.

He made a note in his book next to her name. He kept a special list of the ones who propositioned him.  He walked back into the kitchen, finding Greg folding things to put into the sterilizer.  "I need a wedding ring or something."

"It'd drive them more insane and you can't really put up a sign saying you're taken either," he said dryly, smirking at him.  "I'm sure others get the same thing."

"Maybe.  Did you call Speed?"

"I did, he said Aiden's coming down in two days.  She'll be on his couch.  He said he was making a casserole and you could come over if you got hungry."  Xander grinned.  "I told him she came in wearing fuck me heels and he groaned and said he'd ask Eric how to deter them."  He nodded at the door.  "'Nother customer."

Xander went to let her in and into one of the very clean rooms, going to get something out of the sterilizer for her.  Then he went to clean up the last room while she changed.  He had it down to a rhythm now.  When he was done she was naked on her back and he handed her the sheet then turned around.  "Sorry, ma'am, I don't sell that sort of release."

"Pity."  She ran a hand up his back.

"My boyfriend would mind."

"I might like to watch that."  He glanced back at her and she covered herself, flipping over. "As I said, a pity."

"I'll let him know but he's very private and an officer.  He'd be very disappointed in me."  She nodded and let him work on her back.  She did make another appointment and tipped him.  It went into his locked drawer.  He checked his book.  He had a whole half hour to himself.  So he went to spend it with Greg.  "It didn't deter her."

"It won't always.  Some of them like watching gay porn," he soothed, patting his back.  "Just think, some day you're going to have a conflict with an emergency case our way."

"Half of them know today since someone last night recognized me."  That got a hug from Greg. "Thanks."  He settled down just out of sight and went back to taking care of Greg's needs.  Greg was the only man he knew who could get off from being petted. "Did my letter get to your boss?"

"It did.  He immediately handed me a cup of coffee while he was reading."  He grinned.  "He had Catherine set me up with someone nice as well.  What did you tell him?"

"That you focused better when you were in a relationship.  Nothing about this."  That got a grin. "You didn't read it?"

"I did, but I thought maybe some of it was Dom code or something."

"I never got that handbook."  Greg pinched him so he pinched him back, giving him a look.  Greg wilted but grinned.  "You're playful today.  I'll have to bring you home for dinner and then spank you later."


"We'll see.  It's not a punishment if you *ask* for it."

"Sure."  He understood that and Xander let him get away with a lot of stuff he shouldn't. Including letting him cut out his caffeine down so he could be bouncy and fun again.  Xander's next client came in and he went to clean up the other room while she was changing.  This time it was an older lady and Xander gave him a helpless look when he came out so apparently he was hot looking in today's outfit.  They did make his butt look nice.  The shirt set off his dark hair and barely tanned skin.  Then again, he was nearly wet from the petting he was getting so it was just a day to want the Xander.  She was his last one and Xander cleaned up after she had made her next appointment.  The last load of wash got started and then he took Greg up to the second floor, strapping him onto a spanking bench.  He was good at spanking and Greg was trying to kick by the fifth stroke.  By the eighth he was willing to confess to anything and by the tenth he came and went limp, letting Xander soothe the cream over his ass and take him to go soak in the tub on that floor.  Xander cleaned up his mess while he soaked, then he got out and came up to be petted some more, only wearing boxers now.  Xander didn't care what his body did but he wanted honest reactions out of him.  A few more pets and he was hard again, shifting on his knees.  Xander's hand stopped until he stilled himself.  Then he went back to his petting.  Greg rested against his leg.  That got a small smile and Xander tugged on his hair, making him moan.  "Please?"

"You're not usually one for those touches, Greg, and you know ...."

"I know.  Please?  Just a backrub?"

"It would probably help you."  He stroked over his shoulders.  "In front of me."

Greg shifted over between his feet.  He tipped his head forward and let Xander do whatever wicked things to his neck and shoulders.   He got off again but Xander kept going, making him let go and fall into his mind.  "Pictures in the waiting area," he mumbled.

"Hmm, that could be a subtle way.  Me and daddy?"  Greg nodded.  "Good idea."  He pressed harder on one spot and Greg moaned. "That was a treat."

"It definitely is.  Thank you, Master."

"You're special to me, Greg."

"You know there are subs that do get slept with," he offered.

"I know.  But you still live in Las Vegas."  Greg smiled at that.  "Besides, I thought you liked women."

"I like beauty and you make me see more of it than even the prettiest woman."

Xander smiled and kissed him on the head.  "Thank you for that very sweet compliment."  Someone knocked on the door.  "Give me a minute.  Go clean up and take a short nap."  Greg nodded while he went down to get the door.  "Lady Heather.  I'm sorry if you needed Greg."

"No, he needed you more."  She kissed him on the cheek, looking around then at him.  "How was business today?"

"Good.  I got hit on by two younger women and one mature one.  I was about to go buy a wedding ring."  She smiled at that.  He led her into the kitchen down there to talk to her about what Greg was asking for, getting her advice.  She told him how those relationships usually worked.  He nodded and made mental notes.  Then she went up to talk to Greg, see what he really wanted. It would give him something to think about when they went home the next day. When they came back down, Xander was hanging up a picture of him and Speed in the living room.  "Very subtle, Xander."

"I'm hoping it helps.  One didn't want to take that answer.  She wanted to watch."

"Some women like to watch two men together, the same as some men like to watch two women together."  He nodded at that.  "Now, this is my last night in town and we should have dinner.  Go change."

"Clothes clothes or a suit?" Xander asked.  "I have two now."

"I saw."  She smiled and stroked his cheek.  "Suit.  Wear the one Stella made you buy, Xander.  That way no one can say anything about you wearing the same one two days in a row.  I'll even let you stop at the bank."  He nodded and hurried up to get changed.  She looked over Gregory's clothes and he went to change as well, making her smile.  Her boy had Greg well in hand, even if the leash was a bit lax now and then.  She saw him counting and adding up the take when she went to check on her driver and the officers watching the house. "That was a nice payment.  Someone wanted to play that badly?"

"My grandfather's sire," he admitted.  "It was my birthday present from him."

"Ah."  She nodded and looked at him. "Do you mind that?"

"I don't know yet.  I heard Ethan told him and Angel freaked out when he heard who my grandfather is.  His sire enjoys baiting Angel, which is a really fun pastime."  She smiled at that.  "It is."  He put everything into an envelope with the deposit slip he was working on.  "Gregory?"  He came trotting down the stairs fussing with his hair. "Set the alarm."  Greg did that since he walked out last.  They went to the bank, where he got an odd look from the teller.  "Birthday present," he said with a shrug.  She just nodded and marked it for deposit only.  He took the receipt and headed off with it in his wallet.  Then they went to a nice dinner with Greg telling stupid criminal stories and Xander joking about some of the ones who had come after him in New York, making Lady Heather chuckle all through dinner.  When he got back, he walked into a surprise party, making him nearly cry.  "Daddy?"

"Of course I did, dumbass.  You didn't let me celebrate it back in Sunnydale but you're in Miami now.  There's whole different party rules down here."  He pulled him in to hug him. "Stella has nice taste in suits," he teased.  He brought him over to the cake, letting him make a wish and blow out the candles.  One stayed lit but he puffed that out and everyone clapped.  "Good boy."  He grinned at the other two.  "You two can come help.  Greg, get her another chair."  He did that and Lady Heather kissed him on the cheek for that kindness.  "You're a might-as-well-be mom to him," Speed said dryly.  "You can help celebrate his birthday with us.  Even though it was Tuesday."  He cut her a piece of cake right after Xander's and served her, then got everyone else.  Eric turned on some music.

A neighbor trying to paint came over to complain but got sucked into the party.  She didn't mind and Greg hit on her all night. Xander waved him off so he walked off to talk to her in more private than everyone watching them flirt.  Aiden came in during it and she was welcomed by Tim, introduced to everyone, handed her son for a hug, and then fed cake.  She was accepted very easily too.  The only one who wasn't was the person who came to the door to gather Xander.  He got a few guns in his face.  The officers outside got cake to take back with them when they came up to save his life by arresting him.  It was a pretty good party overall.


Greg nearly danced into work the next night.  Grissom handed over the pot of coffee without a look at Greg when he heard he was dancing.  "I'm a happy boy.  I met a very nice woman in Miami.  She lives next to Master Tim and she's a painter."


"Still-lifes at the moment.  Sometimes animals to make the rent."  That got a smile from his boss.  "She pets very well."

"Good to know.  Any new notes?"

"No.  We had a great time.  We celebrated his birthday last night.  I helped drop Lady Heather off at her house since it was finished.  I also helped Master Tim drive off some very pushy women who wanted him to do more than massage their backs."   He walked off with his coffee, going back to professional Greg instead of fun Greg.  He did have a lot to think about because he knew if he decided to go to Master Tim for that he'd basically be doing whatever he wanted him to, no matter who was around.  Not that Xander would have sex with him in public to show him off but it was a consideration.  Plus he wasn't sure if he wanted to have a guy that way.  He wasn't sure Xander could bottom for him if he was still his sub.  He went to get his things out of his locker, running into Catherine.  "How is your friend?"

"Still recovering from how she threw her back dancing with you," she teased.  "How was Miami?"

"Master Tim's birthday party was last night," he said with a smile.  "Lady Heather took us out to dinner and then his father threw a surprise party when we got back.  I met a very nice painter who is his next door neighbor."

"You were careful, right?"  Greg nodded at that, giving her a look.  "Good."  She smiled at him.  "Did you get a massage too?"

"He did indulge me and do my shoulders.  He's got some very good hands."

"I bet. I saw him when he gave that demonstration of 'whip meets idiot' that day."  Greg smirked at that.  "He's very strong."

"He is.  He's got a sword habit."  She laughed at that.  "He does.  He's from Sunnydale. It came in handy.  He's got a few of them at the house."  She looked stunned.  He nodded.

"Oh, my.  That's where I know him from!"

Greg grinned and nodded.  "Yup.  Oh, Lady Heather's setting up the house tonight. It was finished and liveable when we dropped her off."

"Good.  Anything I should know?"

"I'm good.  We talked for a long time while I was out there."

"Even better. If you go that way I won't say a word, Greg."

"I don't need to be spanked, that's a punishment," he reminded her dryly.  "I need tactile contact."

She came over to pet him, using her nails just a bit.  He shivered and let her, tipping his head so she wouldn't have to reach as far up.  "I'll keep that in mind for how it calms you down.  Drink more coffee."   He nodded and finished the cup of coffee, then grabbed his things to get his first scene of the night or go work on his evidence from his last one.  She smiled.  That was an interesting reaction and it was clearly trained into him.  "Lady Heather's nails must feel great to him," she said quietly, finishing her nightly pre-work ritual.  Then she went to get her own scene.  Grissom had Greg tonight. She had Warrick, and Nick had Sarah so it was fine for the night.  Theirs was a pretty standard robbery of a liquor store so it was going to be a light night.


Xander smiled at his mom when she woke up the next morning.  "Hi, mommy."

"Hi, baby."  She kissed him on the cheek. "Am I in the waiting room?"

"Yup but I never schedule anyone before ten.  So you've got about an hour to get up, shower, eat, that stuff."  She smiled and he helped her up, spanking her to get her on her way up the stairs.  She gave him a look and he just smirked.  "I'm good at spanking."

"So I've heard."  She went upstairs, letting him clean up after the party last night.  She came down to him vacuuming.  "Anyone coming today?"

"I open the door at ten.  I don't have anyone scheduled until this afternoon."  She smiled and led him back to the kitchen, making him finish his cleaning in there.  They did the dishes together and put them up, then she went to finish the vacuuming.  He came out to straighten up the waiting room again then checked all the rooms. A bit of cleaning on the tables so they were sanitized for today.  Then he went to cuddle his mother and talk to her in the waiting room.  One of his neighbors leaned in.  "She's my mom."

"Oh, hi, Tim's mom."  She waved and smiled.  "Tim, dear, can I get you to open something?"  He nodded so she brought in the jar of fluff.  "It stuck again.  I even tried the warm water trick."  It took two tries but he got it open and grinned as he handed it back. "Thanks.  Is Greg coming back soon?"

"Probably within a couple of months," he offered.  "I can give you his work address so you can write him a note."

"I have it," she admitted with a small blush, going home.  She waved at the woman pulling up.  "Just needed him to open a jar for me.  He's talking with his mother."

"That's fine, dear.  He's a very strong young man."  She walked up the few stairs and Xander bounced up to let her in.  "Tim."

"Mrs. Fabber.  How are you doing?"

"I'm doing wonderfully, dear.  I'm sorry you didn't know about the clot."  She patted him on the cheek and handed him a check. "There you go.  For my last session."  He handed it back.  "No, I insist."

"It's crass of me to make you pay when you nearly died."

"I know and you didn't ask, I'm doing it anyway.  So take it."

"Say thank you, baby," Aiden ordered.

"My mom."

"I heard."  She smiled and waved at her.  "He's a great boy.  He's a real credit to your raising, miss.  He saved my life."

"He's good at that," she agreed happily.  "Take it, baby."

He nodded and did that.  "When you're stronger and if you want to come back, I'll be here," he promised her.

"Thank you, Tim.  Now, walk me back down?"

"Of course."  He walked her back down to her car and husband, nodding politely at him.  "There you go, Mrs. Fabber.  I hope you get a lot better very fast."

"Thank you, dear."  She smiled as they took off.

He walked back inside.  "It wasn't necessary."

"It's closure for her," she pointed out.  He slid it into the drawer and came back to cuddle her.  "How many do you have this afternoon?"

"Two.  Both young women."  He looked up at the picture of him and Speed then at her.  "Think it'll help?" he asked quietly.  She shook her head.  "Shoot."

She kissed him on the cheek. "They want you because you're pretty, Xander.  You know that."  She checked his book. The person coming up the stairs wasn't scheduled.  "A dom client?"

"No, one of my massage ones."  He got up to let her in.  "Hi, Miss Constance.  This is my mother, Aiden Burns."

"Hello, dear.  Your son has very good hands.  Tim, do you have an open spot?"

"Sure.  I'm free right now if Mom would wait?"  Aiden nodded.  She got up to fuss with the other pictures he had out, rearranging them.  "I was thinking about adding some more but I didn't want to make it too crowded, mom."

"I can figure this part out, baby.  You go help the nice woman."  The other woman smiled and let Xander lead her to an open and clean room.  She did turn on the monitor very low, listening to her ask about the guy in the picture.  The 'his boyfriend' told her all she needed to know about her.  When the moaning got so loud she didn't need the monitor she rolled her eyes but Xander came out a few minutes later to wash his hands and put a new set of materials into the sterilizer.  She came out dressed and flushed and paid him, then left, heading home.  "That's going to come back on you."

"I didn't touch her that way," he assured her.  "She knows that.  I made that clear yesterday."  She nodded at that, giving him a hug.  He went back to clean the room then came back to cuddle and talk some more.


Horatio walked up to Xander's door, tapping gently.  He leaned out of one of the rooms then nodded him inside.  Horatio walked in and sat down while Xander went back to his present patient.  She walked out satisfied and Aiden peeked out of the kitchen at him.  "Were you here earlier?"

"Did that skank that hit on him say something?"  He nodded.  "What?"

"She told her husband that the orgasm the gay masseuse gave her was better than his.  It turned into a domestic dispute when she presented the divorce papers."

"He said he doesn't do that."

"I know he doesn't do that.  I wanted to let him know," he told her.  "We all know Xander does not touch his clients that way."

"True."  Xander came out and pulled off the gloves he was wearing, going to wash off his hands.  His client came out and paid him with a smile and a stroke to his cheek, leaving a nice tip, then left.  Xander went to clean her room one the money was in the drawer then came back out.  "Baby, she said something."

"I figured she would.  She told me she was divorcing her husband today."  He grimaced. "I'm putting up a big picture of me and daddy and then I'm going to make a sign saying I do not date my clients. "

Horatio handed over a piece of paper. "Word it that way so it's subtle.  Eric worked that out earlier while he was waiting to testify.  You should expect to be called in their divorce."  Xander moaned at that, shaking his head. "It'll be fine, Xander."

"I don't need those rumors."

"I know.  But they'll come in and then possibly keep coming when they figure out you're not like that but you're still so good."  She kissed him on the cheek. "Also put up a sign in all the rooms saying that audio recordings are taken in the treatment rooms to prevent any hint of impropriety.  Put a small sign up here about that as well."

"That's a good idea," Horatio agreed.

Xander smiled and wrote that down.  "Wanna go sign shopping, mom?"

"Please.  It almost sounded like a porno in there.  Thankfully I know you're not like that."

"Some women only need to sneeze," he said dryly.  "Some need a lot of starting off."

"Very true," Horatio agreed, smiling at him.  "Can I borrow you for my arm?"

"Sure, but I want you to get that pinched nerve looked at this time."

"Agreed."  Xander sat him down once he was out of his jacket and had rolled up his sleeve.  He released the built-up feelings from the cramps in his forearm.  He got his arm all the way to limp and sated and it was good.  "Thank you."

"Welcome, Horatio.  That arm is important, it protect dad and the others."  He smiled at him.  "Now, make an appointment to have someone look at the cause of the cramping."

"Yes, dear."  He got up and put back on his jacket, heading out with a smile for Aiden.

"I could use some of that some days.  Especially after a day of reports."  She put up a sign saying Xander would be back in an hour since he was clear, and then they went to look for signs.  They even had some already made up for doctor's offices and things.  It was nice. They installed them in easily seen places.  Two in each treatment room, three in the waiting area, just in case someone was dense.  She even got to tease him about flirting with one of the cute guys at the supply store.  Xander did blush very prettily.


Xander bounced into the station with lunch for Speed.  "Is Speed in?"

"He's out at the moment but Calleigh and Horatio are," the receptionist offered.

"Cool.  I can give his lunch to them."  That got a smile and she paged Calleigh.  "Hi, stepmom."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "Lunch for daddy.  I wanted to know about the holiday stuff."

"He's cooking.  You can come over," she assured him.

"I didn't think I was cooking. I'm not even allowed to make jelly toast in dad's kitchen."  That got a smile from her.  "I was wondering if I was included in the Secret Santa thing the lab had going or if I should just buy individual presents."

"You were included and you get the last name," she said, handing over the slip out of her pocket.  He looked then at her.  She peeked and smiled.  "It's not an easy one to buy."

"I've got one picked out already."

"Good."  She smiled at him.  "What are you doing for Solstice since Tim said you were moderately pagan?"

"The usual.  I've found one of the places here and they've got a planned big celebration so I'm going to that."  She smiled at that.  "You could come."

"I can't.  I'm on that night.  Earlier that afternoon we're doing the present exchange."  Xander nodded.  "So you can bring it in then and the other ones you'll be buying."

"Sure."  He beamed and hugged her. "Thanks.  Are we hitting a buffet for Thanksgiving next week?"

"We probably are since we're both on call that day."   He nodded.  "You can come.  My father will be.  He'll coo at you."

"I'm not sure if Grandfather is or not.  I thought I'd check with you first, see if you do it in  the afternoon or evening."

"Afternoon both of them."  He nodded.  "Ham for Christmas."

"Sure. I like ham."  He grinned.  "Thanks."  He headed out and went to talk to his grandfather since this was his planned day off.  He pulled up and saw the wary looks by the guards.  "What?"

"Detective Flack's here."

"I told him he could have my spare room."  He walked inside and kissed his grandfather on the cheek.  "Thanksgiving and Christmas?  Calleigh and Speed are doing a buffet for Thanksgiving and lunch for Christmas.  I'm doing a local Solstice thing for Solstice.  So did you want me over that morning or that night?"

He smiled.  "Morning would be good.  You could even come over in your pajamas," he teased.

"I don't wear jammies, Grandfather.  I'd get a ticket for driving naked."  His grandfather burst out laughing.  "I'll see you then.  Don, are you going to be here or should I mail you guys' things?"

"Um, not like I mind," he said weakly.  "As far as I know I'll be home."

"Okay."  He gave him a hug.  "If you need it I've got a spare room.  You can hang out and watch my cable or go scope bikinis."  That got a smile and he bounced out, heading home to do his own laundry for a change instead of the working laundry.

"He is very hyper and bouncy today."

"He probably loves the holidays," Don told him.

"Now," Patrick agreed.

"Now," Don agreed.  "So, why did you call?"

"A bit of family history, Don."

"I'm confused."

"You should be.  I married your aunt.  Your father's sister."

"He said he was the baby of the family."

"He was.  He was only about six when I married her."

"Oh."  He considered that, then looked at him.  "That means you're like an uncle, huh?"  He nodded. "Why didn't you tell me when I had you in class?"

"Because it would have bothered you back then, Don.  You needed me more as a mentor than as an uncle.  Besides, I left a few months after you took my science class."

"Oh.  Good point."  He sipped his coffee.  "Then I'm related to the bouncy ball of boy?"

Patrick laughed and nodded. "Technically not but in my and his mind yes.  He's only found out recently as well."

"Sure."  He took another drink then looked at him. "Why tell me this now?"

"Because I'm dying, Don.  I have been for years."

"Okay, point of order.  You've got to be about a hundred and twenty and you only look about sixty.  So therefore I'm thinking some Xander-ish stuff is going on."

"I was turned right before I left New York," he admitted.  "I still served in the church, just places without holy relics."  Don nodded slowly at that.  "I had a large lump of cancer then and it's somehow still growing a bit every year.  I'm not expecting to make it more than two years."

"So this gives me the chance to get to know you too and be there for Xander if he needs me."

"Exactly, and me also to get to know you as well.  My sire left me relatively well off.  I've been helping a lot of charitable organizations over the years."

"Ah, and you don't think Xander will?"

"No, I know he will but you are also a relative, Don, and entitled to some of that."

"Do not make me tell my pops."

"Oh, no, Don. He hates me.  He always has.  Your aunt died of a fever while we were traveling.  He hated me for that."

"He had hero worship for his big sister."

"Exactly."  He smiled gently.  "I did love her."

"Thanks.  So."  He got comfortable again. "You need someone to follow in your footsteps?"

"I do now and then.  I can count on Xander to do that sometimes and you as well.  I do know you supporting gay charities could make you uncomfortable at work."  He snorted and shrugged.  "Good."  He smiled.  "Then let's use this precious time to get to know each other a bit better.  That way if you have questions you can ask."

"Sounds good.  What about the bouncy ball of boy?"

"If you want to stay in his spare room, I wouldn't protest.  I do have one here for you as well."  That got a grin.  "I know this house is imposing and a bit creepy. You wouldn't be the first to ask if I was a relative of the Adam's family.  My sire bought it for me and gave it to me."

"Are you two like married but estranged?"

"At the moment.  He got tired of me looking out for others and not myself.  So he went on a vacation to LA.  He's presently bothering Xander's former coworker Angel and driving him to distraction."  That got a smirk.  "He did throw quite an impressive fit when Ethan told him."

"I'm sure he did.  Xander said he was uptight."  He grinned.  "Okay.  So we're related. I can stand that.  Might break the crush the boy had on me."

"It has.  Though he could use a good love in his life."

"Not many would be willing to share him with his subs," Don said wisely.

"True.  I think that will work itself out rather well some day soon."  That got a grin. "He does need love.  He'll find it eventually."  That got a nod.  "My grandson is fairly open if you know where to look to read him."

"Speed said it was all in his eyes."

"It often is."  He sipped his own tea.  "So, how is work this last week?"

"Hectic.  I had to clear up a lot of paperwork to take this week of vacation."

"As usually happens.  How is Stella?  She is a charming young woman. Were I still human and able to, I would have wooed her until she blushed and gave in."

Don grinned at that.  "She's a great lady," he agreed.  "Too tough for my tastes now and then."

"It does happen."  He took another sip.  "I believe we've strayed into that area that Xander calls strange emotional territory."

Don snickered and nodded. "Definitely."


Xander looked up from his laundry when someone knocked on the door and walked in. "By the washer," he called.  Eric came back dragging Horatio.  "Was he a bad boy?"

"Yes."  He handed him over.  "Keep him here for the day.  Someone just tried to shoot him in front of the station."  He stomped out again.

"I didn't know he had drama queen tendencies," Xander said.  Horatio snickered at that.  "Are you all right?  Should I pull out the first aid kit?"

"I'm fine, Xander.  They needed me out of the way so they decided you were safer to be around."

"That's fine."  He smiled at him.  "You can help me decide what I'm getting for dad for the holidays."

"If you want.  Need help?  I'm good with laundry."

"I'm having odd thoughts about you and my underwear," he said, blushing a bit.  Horatio laughed.  "So, who was it this time?"

"We're not sure."

"Hmm."  He called out to his grandfather. "Do I have another stalker?"  He nodded, grimacing.  "Sure. Thanks. Are you sure it's the guy from LA?  Thank you."  He hung up. "The guy that Speed ran off my parents for is out here."

Horatio called him, sitting down to talk to him while Xander finished folding his clothes. "Speed, Horatio.  That is where I am but Xander asked for information on new stalkers for some reason.  His grandfather said the one you ran his parents off because of was out here looking for him?"  He smiled.  "That works for me, Speed.  I can help him do laundry and get dinner."  He heard the vehement answer that Xander was not allowed to cook.  Ever.  He poisoned people.  "I'm sure he's not that bad."

"All I can make is jerky and breath spray," Xander admitted.  He shrugged. "I'm poisonous.  I've given Mac a piece of fudge I made to interrogate someone with."

Horatio looked at him.  "Is that where Mr. Wolfe got that piece of candy?"  Xander just beamed.  "I see.  We'll have to see if that's a workable plan, Xander."  The boy finished his current dryer load and put in the stuff from the washer. "You can't wash that, Xander.  It's not washable."  He plucked the shirt out. "Silk is not machine washable."  He got up to sort through the rest, letting him do whatever with it.  Those went into the dry cleaning bag with his leather stuff.  He listened to Speed.  "No, I won't let him cook if you're that adamant."  Xander handed him a small bag of jerky.  He pulled out a piece to nibble, his eyes going wide.  "Let me know, keep me informed," he ordered then he hung up.  "This is a bit strong."

"It's what makes me so tough and it brought on puberty," he said happily, carrying the basket up the stairs.  He came back down to turn on the alarm then lock the doors. "There, we should be safe."

"You should sort the laundry better, Xander."

Xander looked at him.  "I wash it all on cold.  That way nothing runs."

"That isn't really healthy for them.  Proper laundering keeps them looking better for longer."

"If you say so.  That's how my mother did laundry."  He shrugged.  "It worked."  He ate a piece of jerky then went back upstairs.  "TV's up here, Horatio."

"Good point."  He nibbled on another piece, feeling it taking effect.  "I should have known when he said it brought on puberty."  He cleared his throat.  "Xander, can I look at your other practice area?"

"Sure."  He came down and opened that door, letting him into that waiting area.  "This is for calming down time and in case they bring their spouses."  He opened a room.  "This is for when I need to use something like a switch or a riding crop.  I don't need the clearance that I would for a whip but the straps can be configured however I need them.  Some people need handcuffs, some don't need any, some need to be held in place because they need that feeling."  He led him across the hall.  "This is for spanking.  The bench is padded," he said proudly. "If the client needs it I can add a bit of torture by sliding on the washable furry cover."  He let him feel that, liking the smile he got.  "It feels good to lay on."  That got a nod.  He led him to the other small room on the floor.  "This is for when I need to do obedience training.  It's also got the bathroom in case I need to do enemas or they need to shower or soak afterward."  He let him see the huge old cast iron tub.  "It's a great tub.  I need that one upstairs."

Horatio pointed at the sign. "Do they actually clean it when they're done?"

"Unless they want to visit the spanking room?  Yeah."  That got a smile and he led him to the large room across the hall.  "A few of the people I deal with need sensation.  They need to feel that someone's there, holding them, or that they're not really encased in ice.  This way I can give them tactility without a lot of inappropriate touching.  The furry thing has velcro and a few buckling straps so I can wrap them in it.  It can also go on the bed so I can strap them down and give it to them that way, or have them on it and use other instruments on them.  But for real whipping, because I've had a few who needed the punishment, I've got the cuffs by the covered window in the hall.  It gives me better room for the whip I like."  He let him see it and stroke the leather.

"It's very soft."  He smiled at him. "I bet that stings."

"Oh, you have no idea," he agreed.  "But some people need to be punished.  That's what they come here for.  Some come for affection, they feel that they have to be forced to accept it because of the way they were taught to be men."  He let him out and walked him upstairs to his apartment.  He closed the door behind them.  "It's good for them and every person needs something different."

"What about what you need, Xander?"

"I'm doing okay," he admitted.  "I haven't had anyone down here that made me doubt my ethical standpoint.  I've had one who decided he was better after one session.  He was nearly impossible to break but it helped him.  His wife is helping him further and he's supposed to see me in a few days to make sure it's still going okay.  A lot of what I do is listening to them, give them what they need, not what they want."  Horatio nodded at that.  "But I'm still doing okay.  I'm not feeling overloaded or anything.  I've had a few hectic days but that's a good thing."

"It is," he agreed, smiling at him.  "Have you thought about taking on a personal submissive?"

"I have.  That requires a lot of attention, especially since I'm doing both jobs.  There's also a doubt that I can give them all the attention they need.  I feel I might be more lax on them because I'm basically dating them as well."

"There is that issue. But it would give you someone here to protect you and watch over you."

"The only one I've thought about isn't here, Horatio."

He nodded.  "He was happy."

"I don't talk..."

Horatio held up a hand. "I understand.  I wouldn't either."  He shifted, crossing his feet.  "Are you happy doing this?"

"It's okay.  I needed to arrange my schedule now and then.  I'm realizing I'm not allowed to have lazy days anymore.  That does suck now and then but I'm okay.  I arranged it so I don't take anyone until ten, that gives me personal time.  My sub clients usually come in after hours and they usually leave by ten.  Again, personal time and time to clean things up for the next day.  I get one day off a week."

"We get two."

Xander looked at him.  "I still have to pay a mortgage, Horatio.  I can't do that yet.  I do give myself one easier day a week, usually only one or two people.  I always give myself a lunch hour. So I'm good most of the time."

"Good.  Is it what you expected?"

"A lot more work.  I paid a quarterly visit to the IRS my last free morning and found out what I needed to do for them.  I'm looking at how I would take credit cards instead of checks and cash.  That seems like a really complicated and expensive system."

"It can be," Horatio agreed.  "What about your personal life?"   Xander blushed at that. "No recent dates?"

"One.  Not great.  We didn't mesh well at all.  He wanted me to be flighty and really gay, not myself.  He wanted the hand-swishy stereotype."

"Everyone wants something different," Horatio agreed.  "You'll have to find someone who's willing to share your attention with your clients."

"Maybe," he agreed.  "Grandfather's trying to set me up with one of his guys who's not sick."


"Apparently a few of the guys on his payroll are sick too.  The guy who does his legal stuff, Gordon, has lung cancer.  Don's out there today talking to him."


He smiled at the older man.  "Because Grandfather married Don's daddy's big sister as his second wife."

"Ah.  So you two are related."

"Which means I now feel funny about some of my former wet dreams," he agreed dryly.  "I guess that happens to everyone," he admitted when Horatio gave him a small, knowing smirk.

"It can.  Some of us haven't had those in years."

Xander looked at him.  "Why not?  Did you quit imagining or do you feel totally satisfied?  If it's not one of those two you're deprived, depressed, and settled for less than you should."

"I don't feel that way."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes.  Older men do get by with less."

Xander snorted. "One of my clients is sixty-seven, Horatio, and he has some of the best reactions of all of them.  He brings his wife in to play."  Horatio blushed at that. "You not having those at your age means you've settled for less and you feel that you'll never have it again."

"How did you know I had someone special before?"

"The way you grieve.  Daddy told me how it was when you lost your brother."  Horatio gave him a startled look.  "You only miss it when you've had it.  I didn't cry at a single funeral except Jesse's in the entire time I was in Sunnydale, until I got dad and mom."

"That is a very wise statement... but I don't think this is a topic I want to share."

"Sure.  I understand that."

"Do you have anyone special in mind?"  Xander shook his head.  "Not at all?"

"Nope.  Not at all."

"Why not?"

"Because I haven't dated that often.  If I wanted to go back to women, I could settle and take Anya back.  That's how I know what settling feels like and how it robs you of even having wet dreams.  Though she mostly wore mine out of me."  Horatio sighed at that.  "It wasn't a good relationship, Horatio.  She was always talking about how she used to torture bad men then expected cuddles and sex."

"You were with her after prom?"

"Yup, until I left.  She never got to the point where she nearly killed me again, but yeah, we saw each other casually a few times.  I know what I like on women but I haven't gotten close enough to a guy I *like* to know what I like from men yet.  I'm still learning."

Horatio studied him for a few minutes.  "I think you'd be surprised at how similar it can be.  I always found I liked the same thing no matter who was with me."

"Then I guess that oral fixation I have is going to continue," he said with a shy smile.

"I saw the letter and picture from Anya."

"I'm sorry you had to be scared that way."

Horatio laughed. "I've seen worse, Xander."

"You dated a vengeance demon too?"

"No," he admitted. "She was?"  He nodded.  "You're not kidding?" he asked more hesitantly.

"Nope, we accidentally stranded her as a human.  She was vengeance over women scorned.  Hence the torturing men stories that she told right before sex.  I learned a lot about torture from her.  Some women have very good imaginations," he offered.  "Especially if their men cheat."

"I've seen the byproducts of that," he admitted.  "Usually in a simple homicide."

Xander shrugged.  "She said she had fun doing it for centuries.  She was eleven hundred and some when she turned human again."  Horatio gaped.  "Yeah, so it was fun for her.  She was a viking bint as Spike put it.  Has a bunny phobia."

"A bunny phobia?  The scary woman is scared of soft, fluffy things?"  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Any of them I should know about on you?"

"I'm still working on my clown phobia. I was scared by one when I was younger but I've been working on it."

"Good.  What about the others?"

"Willow's got a thing against frogs."

"Interesting.  Doesn't she have to use them now and then?"

"She either tries to substitute or makes Buffy or Giles do it for her.  She conveniently got sick on her tray in biology class, and mine."

"Good job."

"Thanks, got me an automatic A for that lesson.  Kept me from flunking it barely.  School and I are not good friends."

"Some of that is how you learn and some is probably that it wasn't interesting to you," he offered.

"No, all school sucks."

Horatio smiled.  "I'm sure it could be taught to you in ways that would keep your attention."

"Not even Anya using sex games to help me with history worked, Horatio."  That got another small blush.  "It didn't."

"Perhaps that was the person doing it or what she was teaching you."

"Maybe.  I'm still glad I'm not a lizard and Willow hasn't changed me into anything in a while."

"Are you dabbling?"

"Now and then.  I'm not powerful.  I never have been," he assured him.  "I can do a mean protection spell but nothing else really."

"That's more than acceptable."


"No comment."

"Ah, I'm sensing the stupidity of youth explanation," Xander said with a wicked grin.  "Let me guess, you, Ethan, and Ripper used to cast spells together naked in Central Park?"  Horatio went bright red and actually stuttered.  "Before you ask if I read your journal, I read Giles'.   Willow found it and sent it to me the other day when she found your name in it.  She thought it was interesting how lives connected."

"Did you tell anyone?"

"No, I told her it was your brother, who was now dead, not you.  That you had said he was using your identity.  I still haven't told her Ethan's down here and doing good things."  He shifted closer. "It's okay, Horatio.  Not like I care.  I had Wonder Wicca who made a lot of   mistakes because she wasn't paying enough attention.  I'm damn lucky I didn't end up pregnant."  Horatio coughed at that, trying to hide his smile.  "She tried once but she screwed up the potion.  She's really not good at those."

That got a full blown laugh.  He could almost see Speed's face if Xander suddenly had gotten pregnant.  Aiden's was nearly as bad.  "I can just imagine the fit Speed would throw."

"The Powers sent him a vision and he came to distract her so it wouldn't work."

"Good!  I'd hate to see you pregnant, Xander."  Xander blushed at that.  "Eric would moan for days."

"Knowing how Willow does things, I'd be having my own little brother."  That got a smile.  "She taunted me a few times that I should take Speed that way instead of as my dad.  Speed smacked her once good enough that even Giles complained, then Aiden lit into her for a few minutes.  She was very sorry she suggested I should shag my daddy."

Horatio gave him a hug.  "I agree, he does better as your father than as your lover."  Xander cuddled into him, getting comfortable.  He looked down, looking amused.  "Comfy?"

"Tired."  He yawned.  "Long day.  Should I get you something nice or a gift certificate to work on your arms for the holidays?"

"Whatever you want.  Did you get my name in the drawing?"  Xander shook his head.  "Who did you get?"


"He's usually difficult to buy for."

"He loves food.  I'm getting him food."  That got a smile.  "Trying to decide on spicy food or not."

"Spicy is nice now and then.  Though your jerky was outrageous."  Xander handed over the small spray bottle from the table. "What's this?"

"Breath spray.  I like it."  Horatio sprayed some and got up to rinse his mouth out, leaving Xander half on the couch.  "It's not that strong.  The heat cut it down a lot.  That's really weak, Horatio."

"It's not, Xander.  That's like fire in my mouth."  He rinsed and spit again.  "Do you use hot peppers?"

"No.  Mint."

Horatio wiped the tears off.  "Are you sure?"

"Yeah.  Can I give Eric some of that for the holidays?  Or some of my jerky?"

"Give him some of the jerky.  With the reactions I've had he'll be pleased."

"Well, it can give you the runs for a week or so when you first start to eat it but the other side effects are great.  It's how I kept up with Anya for seven hours."

"Seven hours?" he demanded, nearly forgetting he had no coating on his tongue for a minute.  "How?"

"Four of that was my oral fixation."  Horatio gaped in horror.  "Really.  Is your mouth okay?  You look like you were crying."

"Do you use this in scenes?"

"No.  Why?  Think I should?  Greg likes it."

Horatio came back to give him a hug because he was clearly a bit demented.  "I should go give this to Speed to use in interrogation."

"He has some at home.  Or Ryan had some.  He said he wanted to test it and the stuff I use as a bug spray."

Horatio sat down again, shaking his head.  "I could taste the tap water."

Xander nodded. "It's strong enough that I occasionally forget to brush my teeth."  Horatio gave him another hug.  "You hug nearly as nice as dad does."

"Thank you but I'm making sure you're not going to pollute anyone else with naughty ideas, Xander."

"Sure, Horatio.  I'll accept the cuddles anyway."  He yawned.  "I'm still tired.  Sorry if I fall asleep on you.  You're very comfy."

"It's fine, Xander."  The boy fell asleep once he got comfortable, and Horatio watched him. He looked so innocent.  He heard the first moan and blushed. His name sounded good being moaned like that.

"Horatio," Xander moaned, drawing it out. "Ooh, right there.  No, casual is fine but I want cuddles and if you want you can take me out.  If not, I'll wait."  He arched up his hips, straining against something.  "But you promised to show me," he whined.  He moaned his name again, then came with a sigh of pleasure.  "More?  I could handle more."  Horatio slid out from under him and went to the bathroom.  He could feel the effects of the jerky coming back very well.  The moaning going on about two fingers being too big was just a benefit this time.


Speed got woken up by the phone six weeks later, which he hated, so he growled into it.  He paused when he heard the fireman.  "What do you mean my son's house was on fire?" he demanded, sitting up. "Is Xander all right?"  He climbed out of bed, finding his jeans from last night. "I'll be right down.  Is he still there or at the ER?  No, send him.  Right now.  Xander has a serial killer after him."  He hung up and blew a kiss at Calleigh once he found his shirt, hurrying out to his bike.  The ride there was short and fast, making stopping a bit of a problem since there was now a wet road, but he managed to make it looked planned.  "What the hell happened?" he shouted.

"Sir, do you live here?" one of the fireman asked.

"He's my son.  It's my son's house.  Where is Xander?  Did you take him yet?"  He found his badge still clipped to his belt and showed it.  That got him led to the fire chief.  "Chief."

"Speedle."  He shook his hand.  "Your son often sleep like the dead?"

"No.  Any idea what happened?"

"Can't tell for positive yet.  You know about that second floor?"

"My son was a dom and did massages as a hobby that paid better."

"Oh.  Okay then."

"He worked with a lot of cops who needed it after things like shootings.  He was non-sexual about it."

"Oh, one of them."  That made him happier.  "Okay. That makes a bit more sense.  As far as we can tell, the fire started in the back of the house.  Near the washer and dryer.  We'll be looking at that area first.  Your boy would not wake up though.  He looked bruised too."  He saw a car pull up and someone familiar get out. "Isn't he a prosecutor?"

"Xander's grandfather is Father Benis.  Gordon works for him."  He waved him over, getting him escorted.  "Was Xander out hunting earlier?"

"No," Gordon sighed.  "You need to check with the FBI.  One of them is out and they wanted revenge for shutting down their multi-billion dollar operation."

"What sort of operation?" the fire chief asked.

"His original parents sold him to someone," Speed said.  That got a knowing look.  "He got away and it got them busted."

"Okay.  We'll let you know when I know.  He went to Dade Memorial."

"I'm headed there," Speed promised, going for his bike. "Call me.  Or call Horatio."

"Will do, Speedle."  He looked at Gordon.  "The kid looked bruised."

"Doesn't surprise me," he admitted.  That got a nod.  "I'll ask Father Benis if he's heard anything.  Let me know as well?"  He handed over his card. "His grandfather is very worried because the boy draws bad trouble."

"Of course."  That got a nod and Gordon walked off.  He looked at his boys.   "Back to work.  Save what you can."  He doubted much would be saved.  The fire was on the second floor when they got there.


Speed walked into the ER, showing his badge.  "My son got brought in from his house fire?"


"Alexander Harris.  Dark hair, was shoulder length the last time I saw him.  I was told he was bruised.  About twenty?"  The nurse nodded and disappeared, coming back with a doctor.  "Doc, how's my boy?"

"He is your son?"

"I adopted him. I have authority to treat," he offered.  "It's at home but I have it.  He's my boy."

"I'm not supposed to..."

"Xander hates hospitals.  He will walk out of this place if you don't let me near him.  He has in the past.  All those scars were his original parents."  She shuddered at that.  "Now, where is my boy."

"I really do need the paperwork, sir."

"Xander!" he called.

"Daddy!  There's a woman in here trying to stab me!"  They made it to his room in time to hear a smack of flesh hitting flesh, then a woman got pushed out of the room.  Xander came out too, holding the bleeding part in his arm.  "I need to go home."

"Xander, the house was on fire," Speed said.  Xander blinked at him.  "Come on, let them look you over.  We'll see what you remember."


"Shh, I've got you. Come on."  He gave him a cuddle and led him back in there, letting the nurse bandage the bleeding spot where he had pulled his IV.  "Now, tell me, Xander.  Who bruised you?"  Xander frowned.  "The ones on your face, baby.  Who did it?"

"I ... don't know."  He looked around, spotting something shiny and chrome, so he went to look.  He stared.  "Damn.  Someone did good.  I can't feel them."  He touched his cheek.  "Or that.  Was there cream on my face?"  The doctor checked the chart then nodded.  "It's probably the lidocaine cream I use after I spank someone."  Speed helped him back onto the table.  "The house was on fire?"  Speed nodded.  "Why?"

"They're still putting it out, Xander.  We're working on that right now.  We're trying to figure out if the bruises are related to the fire."

"I'd hope so."  Someone new came in and he hissed.  "Out, bitch. I don't know you."

"I'm CSI Melina Charges with the crime lab, sir.  Speedle?"

"This is my son, Xander."

"Did you know your son was charging for sex?"

"Lady, I'm a dom, I don't charge for sex.  Big fucking difference there.  Learn it, before you insult someone who has a weapon.  Daddy, I want her gone."

"Go," he ordered.  "We'll take it.  Most of the dayshift lab knows Xander is a dom and that he doesn't sell sex.  Thank you anyway and tell your supervisor I said so."

"You can't just..."  Xander lunged and she screamed, running out.

"Nice feint, baby," Speed offered, calling the supe's office.  "It's Speedle.  I'm going to kill Charges.  She just accused my son of being a whore.  He's a dom.  Yeah, she still doesn't know the difference.  So fix her because Xander nearly killed her just now.  That's fine, the dayshift lab can do the investigation even if I have to do it myself, Doc.  I mean it.  Yeah and we actually like my son.  Am I clear?  She comes back and I'm going to kill her this time. Thank you for your cooperation."  He hung up and called Horatio. "I'm going to be late.  Xander's in the ER after he was beaten and his house burned.  I've also threatened Charges for saying he's a whore.  Anything else you need for a preliminary?  Yeah, I said I'm taking it over.  Yay."  He hung up on him too. "He said I'm too personally involved."

"I'll be okay, daddy.  I just need to sulk."

"Right now, I need to process you."  A nurse got him a kit and he smiled. "Knew stashing those here would help.  Thanks."  Ryan walked in while he was working on samples from Xander's hair, still yawning. "I can do this, Wolfe."

"Horatio growled and said you're going to be a father, not a CSI.  So I'm on the fire and his assault.  Now, give."  He put on a pair of gloves and stepped into his place. "Xander, do you remember anything?" he asked while he worked.

"No.  Not tonight.  I remember going to bed about ten.  I didn't have anyone in tonight and I had a full schedule tomorrow.  Damn it, my book."

"Was downstairs so it's probably gone," Speed agreed quietly.

"My pictures and things?"

"They were working on saving the top floor," Ryan soothed.  "So you went to bed around ten?"  Xander nodded.  "What were you watching when you went to bed?"

"A commercial for a really crappy Letterman. Something about snakes and some twiggy starlet without much sense."

Ryan frowned at him. "Tonight he had Regis on, Xander."

"He did?"

"Yeah.  He had a dumb blonde on last night."  He looked at him. "What night is it?"

"Um, Wednesday?"

"Try it's going into Friday, Xander. You're missing a day."  He got back to work.  "Did we collect anything off his face?"

"I swabbed since he can't feel them. He thinks it could be the lidocaine cream he uses as a dom."

"Could be.  I know it works well.  He used some on a scrape I got helping him move something one day."  Xander nodded at that.  "Okay.  Just sit still, let me work, okay?"  Xander nodded.  "Good.  Have you gotten any death threats recently?"

"Grandfather said that the guy from LA was out here."

"He's still here somewhere," Speed agreed. "We're still hunting for him."

"Guy from LA?" Ryan asked.

"The one I ran his parents off because of, Wolfe," Speed growled.

"I didn't get that briefing," he offered.  "I have heard that story.  What about any others?"

"Gordon said something about checking with the FBI.  He said one of the guys from the ones recently got out.  The ones we helped shut down."

"Huh.  I'll check into that next."  Two muscular guys walked in.  "Boys," he said dryly.

"We're here to guard Master Tim for his grandfather," one said, nodding at Xander.

Xander smiled. "Thanks, guys.  How bad does my house look?"

"You'll probably be able to save some personal effects depending on where they were in the house," the other offered.  "Your bedroom was totally gone."

"What about my weapon's room?  It had bullets and things.  Plus some explosives."

"We know.  It's safe," he agreed.  "Lieutenant Caine warned them about that when he heard.  He sent us."

"Horatio knew?" Speed asked.  The first one nodded.  "Okay.  When he's discharged, he'll be going back to my place."

"Sure," they agreed.  "Easier there than here."  They watched while Ryan finished up then they checked Xander out and took him home so Ryan could get a more coherent statement while they waited for the fire chief to let them know something. The two officers sat outside the house, watching it in case.

Speed got Xander settled into a bed and called the number he had in Las Vegas.  "Lady Heather please?  Tim Speedle.  Yes, it's important.  Tell her Xander's fine and to not watch the news."  He waited while that message was passed on.  Then she came on demanding to know what was going on.  "All we know so far is that Xander is missing a day, he's bruised.  We think they put the lidocaine cream onto his face after they bruised him, then he was inside the house when it started to burn.  We're waiting on information.  No, he's in my spare room.  He would but his phone was there, Lady Heather.  We are.  I've already yelled at one person who believed he was selling sex instead of spankings.  The case is my team's or else I'm going to kill.  Repeatedly.  Wolfe does until I can muscle my way in.  Of course I'll keep you informed.  You're like a mother to my boy so you'll know when we know anything.

"He'll be fine.  We're trying to figure that out but I thought I should tell you before you caught it on the news or something.  Yeah, with him being a dom it could.  Or there is a hint that one of the guys from that people-buying ring is out of custody for whatever reason.  So be safe, please?  It'd hurt him a lot more if you got hurt too."  He smiled. "I'm doing that next, Lady Heather.  You be safe.  Have a better night.  Tell Greg."  He hung up and called Aiden, she was working nights.  "He's okay.  Just a bit bruised.  We're not sure if the bruising is related to the fire yet or not.  Yes, our son.  His whole house probably. My team does because I said I was going to kill when Charges said he was selling his time."  He smiled.  "Thanks.  I'll let you know.  We're still debating that.  Sure.  Let the others know he's okay in case they hear somehow.  Love you too, Aiden.  Be safe."  He hung up and shook his head, calling to leave a message for Flack.  "He's fine.  The house may be totaled but Xander's fine.  We're working on the case right now.  If anyone needs an update call me."  He hung up on him and went to check on Xander, then went to the lab to help Ryan. It'd be hours before they could get into the house.


Calleigh squeaked when she saw Xander in the bathroom, holding her chest.  "Xander?"  He looked so confused.  "What are you doing here?"

"I don't know.  When did I get bruised?"

She came in to look.  "You are bruised.  Go lay on the couch after you put on more than a towel and I'll call Speed, see if he's got an answer."  She played with the shorter hair.  "Someone chopped that too.  Go put on something."

"Do I have clothes here?"

She shrugged. "You can wear his sweats.  He won't mind."  She went to get him some and handed them over, then went to the kitchen to start coffee while she called.  "Why is Xander here?  No, he doesn't remember either.  Or why he's bruised.  Well, I gave him your Notre Dame sweats," she offered.  "He wasn't sure he had clothes here."  She slammed down the coffee canister. "Excuse me!"   She listened, then huffed once.  "Then someone's going to pay.  No, he'll be fine. Tell Horatio I'll be in soon."  She hung up and went to look at Xander since he was on the couch.  "You have guards on the door.  Do you remember anything about a fire?"  He slowly shook his head.  "Okay, you rest.  There's guards.  I'm going to head in to see what's going on.  Speed said he's called everyone so don't worry about that, just watch cartoons."  Xander nodded and flipped onto his side with a hiss. She saw why, he had some first degree burns on his side and back.  "Ow."  She went to take a very fast shower then dressed and headed in to work.  She could drive through somewhere for coffee.  She also drove by his house.  It was nearly totaled, all but a rectangle of metal and it looked like part of his living room.  She growled, gripping her steering wheel tighter as she sped on.  Someone was going to pay.  She got out, slamming her door, and headed inside.  "Who am I killing?" she demanded when she saw Horatio.

"For right now, we need you to go clear out Xander's artillery closet, Calleigh," he said calmly.  "Was it still standing?"  She nodded.  "Good, then go do that and see if you can get anything of his personal belongings out of there as well.  Eric is going to work the case with Ryan.  You go handle the guns he's got.  You have my permission to clear the scene.  Got it?"  She nodded at that and went to find Eric and go with him once she had some safe carry boxes.  "Look under the floors," he called after her.  "He's got large things stored there and in the closet."  She waved a hand.  He turned and found his annoyance, Stetler, standing there.  "What?"

"Speedle's son has guns?"

"He's keeping a collection away from a very strange man who believes that crossbows are better.  Apparently his friends sent him the guns and Xander got given them to hold for him."

"I see.  How much is illegal?"

"Don't ask," he said dryly.  "He registered what he could.  It's not like he was selling them."

"Was he selling anything else?" he asked bluntly.

"As Xander often says, he doesn't sell that sort of release," Speed said from behind him.  "He's a dom, not a pro.  He doesn't spank them for pleasure, he spanks them because they need to release the tension in their lives.  He has more clients that get off from the massages he gives than that."  Stetler raised an eyebrow.  "Normal ones.  It's not that sort of thing either. My son's a good boy, thank you."

"Then why was he working underage at a bar?"

"The owner didn't ask how old he was."

"Isn't that illegal?"

"So?  This isn't New York and they knew."  He shrugged.  "Any other stupid questions?"  The man sneered but he left.  "Got to do something about that," he mused.  "Maybe I'll let his grandfather have him eaten."

"Why give a vampire indigestion?" Horatio offered.  "Is he all right?"

"I called to talk to him.  Last night's basically a dream to him, H.  He's still not sure what's going on."

"Did they say he had a head injury?"

"I kinda hustled him out of there for his own protection but they didn't say anything to me after Xander tried to kill the nurse."

"I find nurses bring nice things, like pain killers," Ryan said as he walked over to them.  "Why did Xander try to kill her?"

"She was about to stick him with a needle, he didn't know her.  He has a real good understanding of how women are evil.  Most of them want to kill him and Xander hates hospitals anyway.  You'll never get him to stay in a hospital."

"Some of those scars should've required surgical intervention," Horatio said.

"Willow," Speed told him.  "She played nurse out of the textbooks."

"Maybe some day she'll come down so we can thank her," Ryan said.  "I'd miss Xander if I didn't have him to feed me jerky."  He swatted Speed with the folder.  "The stuff on his face was a lidocaine based cream.  It did come up as a numbing agent."  He showed it to him.

"That's the stuff he uses.  Lady Heather told him to get that or so he said."

"So, not uncommon if you're in the life.  There was a reason for his whiteout though, turn the page."  Speed did and growled.  "That was the swab from his ear, where we found the big spot of it.  Somehow they mixed drugs into the cream or they intentionally spilled some on him."

"Or it was transfer from their hands," Speed reminded him.

"The next page is his blood tox, Speed, not at those levels.  That wasn't an accidental exposure.  Someone wanted your boy to die in that fire."  Speed flipped through the rest then handed it back. "I'm sorry."

"No, I know damn well Xander doesn't do drugs," he said.  "I know *damn* well he doesn't."

"No, he isn't.  I did yank a few hairs last night and I had them put in for chemical testing and it's not showing up anything but aspirin and advil."  Speed relaxed. "So it wasn't your boy and at that level, they wanted him to die in the fire or before the fire.  He's a strong young guy but I'd want someone to look at his heart soon."

"I'll need copies of that when I force him to the doctor's in the next week or so."  Ryan nodded.  "H?"

"Go be with your son, Speed.   I want you there."

"I need to be here."

Ryan patted him on the back.  "Go there and I'll call.  The only thing that's going to stop me from calling is a quick nap while things process from the blast site.  Okay?  Go be with your son.  He needs you and he shouldn't be left alone.  God only knows who could try for him again."  Speed nodded, heading out to ride home.  "I hate to make him panic," Ryan said once they were alone.

"It's a normal urge to want to help but in this case Xander needs him there more than here. Anything else I should see?"

"Yeah, a few of the pictures of Xander's back.  I took subdermal imaging as well."  He pulled those out and handed them over.  "I'm not so sure those weren't there before."

"That is a bite mark, Mr. Wolfe."

"It is and it's only two fangs and a bridge.  So if he wasn't hunting then it could be about his old life."

"It may be," he agreed.  "Let me call his grandfather.  He would know.  I'm sure they have some way of telling."

"If that's why he was drugged...."

"It is an assumption."  He went to do that.  "Father Benis please," he ordered when the phone was answered.  "Horatio Caine."  He waited while it was handed over.  "Father, while we were doing bruise checks on Xander last night at the hospital, Mr. Wolfe found a subdermal bruise that hadn't come up yet.  No, I need to ask you about some fang marks on your grandson's side."  He sat down, listening to him.  "No, not there.  It's on his other side, just under that scar that makes everyone shudder when they see it.  There.  Subdermal.  Yes, that sort of bruising.  With a bridge of top teeth between at the time.  We know he was drugged and I do not know if you can tell who did it by scent or something."  He listened.  "That would help us in the investigation.  No, he's missing a day.  He has no idea who beat him and with the amount of drugs that were found in his system he may never know without forensic proof.  I'm worried it's about his old life."  He smiled.  "We've just managed to get Speed to quit hovering and go home to his son.  Whatever way you can, sir.  It may not be admissible but it would give us more information and if it was related we may have to do something more drastic."  He nodded.  "Thank you.  Please let me know."  He hung up and closed his eyes for a minute.   It had been a short night leading into a long day.


Speed answered the quick knock, letting the cloaked man inside.  "Patrick."

"Speed.  My grandson?"

"Napping on the couch."  He went to close curtains for him making Xander look at him funny.  "Your grandfather's here."

"Oh.  Ow.  You didn't have to come out in the daytime."   He started to sit up but Speed pushed him back down and handed him the juice again, making Patrick laugh.  "He's being fussy."

"Yeah, well, they tried to OD you, kiddo.  Expect worse when my doctor looks at you.  Or Alexx."  He got out of the way, watching as the vampire sniffed him, especially one spot on his side, then stood up suddenly.  "Um, important?" he asked.

"He was bitten recently but someone tried to cover it up.  Xander, did that witchly friend of yours put a covering illusion on you?  One to hide bruises?"

"Is that still going?"  Patrick nodded.  "Oh.  Sorry.  Um, I thought it broke years ago when she nearly died redoing Angel's soul spell."  He concentrated and it fell.

"Huh, our subdermal camera can catch under illusions. I'll have to remember that."  He called Ryan.  "He had a slight illusion on him to cover bruises and when it fell it looks just like the subdermal photos.  Yeah, exactly, so come take some new ones."  He hung up and looked at that spot.  "Someone bit you, kiddo."  Xander looked and frowned.  "Whoever got one hell of a kick off your blood."

"They did.  It's fairly recent.  Not a scent I know.   It's within the last six hours as well."

"So they carried me home?" Xander asked.

"Or they were there right at the end," Speed agreed.  He looked at Patrick.  "You may not make him a princess in a tower.  He can stay here."

"I can protect him better.  I do have guards."

"And your house is creepy even by my standards, which got lowered back in Sunnydale."

"He could go visit my sire.  He wanted to see Xander."

"I'm not being turned.  I saw what sort of vampire I'd be and I'm a major bad guy who likes torture," Xander said patiently. "I refuse."  His grandfather looked at him. "I knew it was a possibility before then but I also know what violence lurks in me.  I know it very well, Grandfather.  I'd make Angel's old rep look nice."  That got a sad look and a nod.  "So no turning the Xander.  Unless I get really sick while I'm still young and pretty."

"That I can agree to," he promised, kissing him on the forehead. "Do you need anything?"

"My house back?" he said pitifully.  He got a hug.  "I'm still processing."

"Of course you are.  You have a lot to think about, Xander.  Including restarting or not."  He stroked his cheek.  "If not, you'd have to think about what you wanted to do."

Speed coughed.  "We'll figure that out when we figure out if he's safe," Speed promised. "You still can't make him a princess in a tower."

"I will not make him Rapunzel," he promised.  "But I will set another guard on him and I will be taking care of the mortgage he had. That way the insurance can go for other things."  Xander pouted at that.  "It is never enough to cover the loss.  You will let me spoil you."

"Yes, Grandfather," he said weakly.  "A little bit."

"That's fine, Xander.  Now, tell me who you got insurance through?"


"That's fine, we'll call them today."  Xander nodded.  "Good boy."  He hugged him again.  "Do you need anything?"

"The African drummers out of my head."

"That I cannot do but perhaps Speed has something for that?"

"I've got a call into my doc about giving him tylenol with what had been given to him," Speed promised.  That got a nod and Patrick pulled back up the hood of his cloak then ran for his car.  Speed sat down under Xander's feet, stroking his ankles.  "This sucks."

"It does.  I don't want to be scared."

"I don't want it for you," he agreed.  "I'm sorry Miami was sucking this week."

"It's been good all the others."  The phone rang and he tossed it over.

"Speedle."  He listened. "No, he didn't take it.  He was kidnaped and beaten.  It was given to him during that and before they stuck him back in his house and set it on fire.  Yeah, that's my boy.  Yeah, he was a dom.  He's got a good pain tolerance too but he's in bad pain."  Someone knocked.  "Who is it?" he called.


"S'open."  He went back to listening.  "That's what I was concerned about.  Tylenol okay?"  He nodded and smiled.  "That'll work.  Thank you, doc."  He hung up.  "Tylenol is okay and that's it.  Drink a hell of a lot more juice."  He got up to let Eric in. "I said come in."

"I was staring at the guy watching the house.  Know him?"  Speed looked and nodded.  "From?"

"His grandfather.  Xander, he put Thomas back on you again."  He drug Eric inside.  "Anything good yet?"

"Yup.  We found the accellerant.  They poured gas into the dryer's wiring and turned it on."  Speed shuddered.  "They doused most of the kitchen with gas too, just to make sure.  There were some things left," he told Xander, coming over to look at him.  "Ow, you look worse now."

"Willow had a small charm hiding bruises for me."

"But the subdermal camera caught most of it," Speed offered.

"I'll have to remember that.  Part of your apartment is okay, Xander.  Part of it isn't.  Most of your bedroom is gone, but there's a special locked area that's still standing?"  Xander sat up and hissed, grabbing his ribs. "Broken?"

"Bruised.  There should have been two.  The other was in my desk. I asked Ethan to put that on the drawer that had pictures.  The other was special stuff I wanted to keep from Sunnydale and Lady Heather.  Plus the one on the guns."

"Calleigh's cooing in pleasure over those," Eric assured him.  "The fire chief is very impressed with the collection you got sent.  By the way, grenade launchers?"

"Came in handy in the past."

"I don't wanna know, do I?"  Xander shook his head.  "Good, I'll leave it there. Calleigh's told everyone that you donated your collection to the MDPD since it wasn't safe to leave it there. Anything you *really* want to keep?"

"All my swords."

"Can they go into storage?" Speed asked.  Xander nodded at that, then held his head.  "Okay, back down, bright boy."  Xander laid back down with a groan.  "Let me get you some tylenol then we've got a doctor's appointment at two."  He looked at Eric.  "There's a good storage spot...."

"Wiltshire.  Half the guns were over there in the massive security section.  I'll give you and Ryan the codes so you can put my babies over there."

"Sure.  She's still confiscating most of the weapons that were there.  Especially the illegal things and the explosives."  Xander nodded and shrugged a bit.  "You sure?"

"The Watchers will send Giles more and he hates guns.  They'll come out to me."

"Oh.  Okay."  He looked at Speed when he came back out of the bathroom.  "Calleigh took all the clothes she could find to the cleaner's.  They said he could come pick through the wreckage later today.  Let them watch it for at least another hour."

"We can do that after the doctor's," Speed agreed.  Xander nodded and took his tylenol with more juice.  "I'll get boxes."  He stroked over Xander's hair.  "Then we're getting you a haircut.  You look like they took pinking shears to your hair."

"They might have," Xander offered. "I have no idea.  Do we have any idea on *why*?"

"Working on that right now, Xander," Eric promised.  "My mother wanted to meet you too.  She's in 'poor baby' mode so watch out for cooked things."

"He can't cook, Eric.  He's not allowed to cook."

"All my jerky was there."

"And you're not making it in the house either," Speed assured him.  He stroked through his hair.  "Anything good?"

"A bit.  The neighbor, the one who's a dancer, saw someone last night while she was practicing in the back yard.  She thought she saw him carrying a big duffle bag.  I'm thinkin' you were in that."

"Yay me," Xander said miserably.  Eric gave him a gentle pat on the head. "Thanks."

"You're welcome."  He looked at Speed.  "Horatio got to break on Stetler a bit ago. He came back sneering again and Horatio let him have it because he's a bit cranky that this happened to Xander."

"He can have my whip if he wants it," Xander offered.

"That's a suggestion I'd like to see him take," Eric teased, grinning at him. "I'm heading back now.  I'll call Calleigh about the storage area."  Xander grabbed some paper and wrote out the instructions then a note authorizing them to get into his storage area.  He handed it over.  "I can do that.  Thanks, Xander."

"No, thank you, guys."  He waved and slipped down some more. "I'm going to nap now."

"Finish your juice."  Xander gulped the rest and put the glass on the table before going to his side to fall asleep.  He walked Eric outside, nodding Ryan to go ahead in.  "He's just now starting to nap."

"Sure."  Ryan closed the door behind him.

"Anything more concrete?"

"Not yet.  We're trying, Speed. We want to solve this."  Speed nodded and clapped him on the back, going in to watch Ryan take the not very pretty pictures, while Eric went back to the house to tell Calleigh about the storage area.  She handed over the swords to him and a few other things that she didn't need and that weren't damaged.  The rest was in boxes in the back of her hummer.  "Did you check under the floor?"

"I did and I'm going to be impressed with those Watcher people.  They send some nice stuff but they also have some bad taste.  I don't know why they sent the old style of crossbow instead of the new one but they did."  She held up one.

"Easier to hunt vampires probably," Eric said with a small shrug.  "Xander said they all believed in hunting vampires."

"Oh.  I guess."  She shrugged and got back to work. "I like his collection."

"I liked his collection and he offered H use of one of his whips to use on Stetler."

She giggled and swatted at him. "That's an image I'd like to see.  Horatio with a long tailed whip beside him and suddenly hitting someone from the office."

"He probably could with a bit of work.  Flicking Frank when he was goofing off and staring at Valera?"  She giggled at that, leaning on a bazooka.  "He had one of those?"

"Yup, he had one of these.  Put this in my hummer for me?"  He nodded, taking it out there then came back to get the rest of the swords and other sharp, pointy weapons. She was still working when Eric had left and still there when Xander and Speed came over on his bike.  "Should he be riding that with a head injury?"

"No, but it's comforting right now," Speed offered, following Xander inside.  "You get all the swords out?"

"Yup, and a few of the prettier handguns," she offered.  Xander gave her a hug.  "Poor baby."  She patted him on the back. "It'll be okay, Xander.  We'll help you rebuild and things."  He nodded, pouting a bit.  "Go ahead and look around.  Almost everything down here was trashed."  He nodded and went to open up another doorway she hadn't gotten to yet, handing her something and taking two cases out to put by the door.  "How are you getting that home?"

"Storage," Xander told her. He came back and got his battle axe.  "Didn't fit in the other cabinet."  He put that on top of the cases.  Then he went to check his desk.  It was in cinders but the metal locked drawer was easily freed.  And picked open with Calleigh's pointed nail file from her kit. He looked at the burned money.

"You can send that to the Treasury and they'll send back however much was in there."  Xander nodded, putting that down by the door too.  He went back to look in the kitchen, nothing was left.  Not even the clothes in the washer that had been wet.  They carefully walked up the stairs to the second floor.  It was better but still mostly gone.  He heard Xander sigh and patted him on the back.  "You can still do the work, Xander."  He nodded and went to look around, gathering what he could.  The special furry cover for the spanking bench wasn't hurt. Most of the straps were burnt but his equipment cabinet in the last bedroom wasn't.  That was nearly untouched.  So Speed got an armful of those things while Xander carried down another.  Though one went on his shoulder.

He checked the rest of the floor then headed upstairs.  The specially shielded drawer in his desk up there was pulled out and handed over.  The pictures he had lying around were mostly okay, some were a bit warped but they could dry out.  The pictures on the walls were mostly gone though.  Xander found a suitcase in the closet and got to work on the smaller things, like cleaning supplies for his leather stuff and more of the lidocaine cream.  His jerky from the fridge and his stored up supply in the cabinets.  His socks and underwear from the dresser.  His favorite sheet set.  His stuff from the bathroom was burned but it had been on the other side of the house anyway.  "It'll be okay. We can replace that stuff," Speed reminded him gently.

"I know."  He looked under his bed, pulling out a slightly charred bag.  "My Star Trek tapes."  They got taken too.  Then Xander got into the shielded closet area, packing the plastic tubs in there down to the doorway.  Calleigh got him a plastic bag for the other whips and things but the one still stayed on his shoulder.  He went back up and got the few hanging things.  Then he dug around under his dresser, finding his emergency pack.  That came out charred but the stuff inside still seemed okay.  He'd have to test the cheap laptop to make sure.  He found his other one and handed those over with the other clothes, then he went to forage in the spare bedroom.  "Should I bring the stuff in my bedside table?"

"Sure," Speed agreed, putting the hanging things into the bag with the whips and stuff for now.  Xander came out and put the lube, condoms, hair gel, and lotion in there then went back to get some other things.  His spare shampoo and conditioner from the spare bathroom. He checked carefully, no clothes in there.  His bedroom got one last look over and he found his wallet and phone, both a bit wet and singed around the edges but it'd be fine.  He took his keys too, because he had things on there that he'd still need.  Then he came back out.  "We done?"  Xander nodded, taking his fair share of the stuff to haul, even though he was dizzy.  Ryan was waiting on him so his hummer and the guard's trunk got filled up with the stuff for storage.  Xander had to come back for a last few things that went into the back seat, but the pile he had made was gone now.  "Check for pictures, Calleigh, just in case we missed any," Speed called then he left her there.

"Sure. I'll do that after I'm done here.  Sometime tomorrow."  She looked around. "Maybe.  If I'm lucky."


Xander walked up to where Horatio was enjoying the outside, handing him the whip that had been over his shoulder. "It's the one I learned on."  Horatio smiled and took it to look over.  "They said you could use it.  Once you get really good with that one I'll give you my four foot one so you can hit someone from the doorway."  Horatio laughed at that.  "Do we have anything new?"

"Not a lot, Xander.  How are you feeling?"

"My head hurts.  I'm starting to think beheading is a good option for me."

"It's not," he chided.  He stroked over his head.  "Be a good boy and go home. I'll take good care of this one."

"Most of the others are in my storage area."

"Leather has a way of making it through a fire," he agreed, smiling gently at him.  "Let Speed baby you, Xander.  I know Calleigh's still cooing over your collection."

"She's barely half done, Horatio."

"I'll go help her," he promised.  "Once I put this in my desk."  Xander heard someone saying something about him and took the whip back, snapping it at them.  They yelped and Horatio glared.  "Yes, he was that sort of dom.  One of the real ones, gentlemen."  They fled, one rubbing the new welt on his thigh.  "That was mean."

"I'm in a bitchy mood.  I'm allowed," Xander said, handing it back.  He glared at Frank.  "Don't you yell either."

"I'm not, they deserved it, they're idiots."  He shrugged.  "You okay?"

"Headache.  Grumpy.  The doctor said that was me coming down.  We all know I don't touch drugs, right?"

"We did a hair test to make sure of that and how long ago it had been given, Xander."  Xander relaxed.  "Go rest.  Let us handle it."  Xander nodded and trudged back to the bike, getting on behind Speed and holding on.  They smiled when he nuzzled his father's back with his cheek and Speed only smiled at him for it before taking off.  "It's good he loves Speed."

"It is," Frank agreed.  "You gonna use that on me?"

"Only if I catch you outside my door staring into DNA again, Frank."  He walked back inside to his stunned look.  He uncoiled it, feeling the weight in the handle to balance it.  It did make it easier to swing.  The snap was pleasing as well.  Especially with the person who yelped. "Sorry, it was a present from Xander.  Just trying it out, didn't realize it was quite that long."  He walked off having a slightly better day now.  He hadn't realized how cathartic beating someone could be.

Stetler rubbed the spot on his lower back, glaring at Horatio.  "I'll see you written up for that."

"It was an accident," Yelina chastised.  "It's not like Horatio uses a whip normally."

Frank came in.  "He said if Horatio got really good with that one he'd let him have his four foot whip."  Yelina snickered at that.  "The boy got good equipment.  He knew his business well.  That thing wasn't even singed from what I saw."

"I'm sure Lady Heather will be proud of him," she agreed happily.  "Is he all right?"

"Cranky.  Headache.  Coming down from where they drugged him.  Horatio's headed out to help with the weapon's collection he was watching over for someone else. That's what that metal room was.  I know Delko got suckered into moving the boy's sword collection earlier.  But you missed it.  Speed's got him on the bike and Xander's cuddled right up to his daddy's back, nuzzling and all."  She went 'aww' and smiled. "Yeah, they're a cute dad and son.  Speed's got momma bear syndrome though."

"He should!  There's how many possible people?"

"Four last I knew."

"Three," Horatio said as he walked past him. "Unless one teamed up from the dead.  His father was found dead in New York last night according to Mac.  Going to help with the weapon's cataloging.  Want to help?"

"Sure, I wouldn't mind."  He followed because it got him out of paperwork for a while longer.

She smiled at them.  "So transparent," she muttered.  She looked at Rick. "Are you all right or do you need an ice pack?"

"I'm fine," he growled, stomping off.

She shook her head.  "Drama queen."  Then she got back to work.  She didn't know what she saw in that man.

The End.

To index: