Xander walked up to the front desk at the Las Vegas crime lab. "Is CSI Sanders in yet?" he asked politely.
"He is around here somewhere," she offered with a smile. He grinned back. "Let me page him for you, Master Tim."
"Thank you." She paged him and Greg came out looking curious a few minutes later. "Hi."
"You're early, I haven't even cleaned yet," he complained, giving him a hug. "Why are you early?" He got a visitor's pass and walked him back to the break room. "Where's Horatio?"
"At the hotel. We tried your place first and your neighbor just got arrested for the cloud'o bliff that was floating out from under her door. And I do mean literally. Horatio said he wouldn't normally care if he hadn't gotten a contact high by ringing your doorbell." Greg moaned. "So you're more than welcome to stay with us or we'll come back with you once it's all aired out." He smiled. "As for why we're here early? IAB said they didn't want Horatio's vendetta against someone to make someone end up dead."
"Am I out of the loop?"
"I told you about the rumors thing?" Greg nodded and beamed. "That. The originator is toast when Horatio sees him next time. If I see him first I'm going to use him as target practice and then I'll hand him to Horatio. Their new IAB guy knew this however so we're in a few weeks early and under orders not to come back to Miami for at least a week."
Greg grinned and hugged him. "That's fine. Hey, Gris?" He came out of his office, then smiled. "They're in early because Horatio was going to kill the guy spreading those rumors that got back to us."
"I don't blame him. Do you need a few hours to get them settled, Greg?"
"No, his neighbor was smoking enough weed that there was a cloud coming out from under her door," Xander admitted. "Horatio started to giggle just from the doorbell ringing. He said the two teenagers sitting on the porch above her were saying how much cheaper it was to sit up there instead of buying it themselves."
"They keep talking about all the good and none of the coughing," Greg agreed. "I turned her in."
"I heard," Grissom assured him. He smiled. "I need Greg tonight but I can give him off tomorrow if you needed him then, Master Tim."
"We're going to be here at least a week, Grissom. They won't let Horatio back into Miami until the guy's either been arrested or has left the city without his badge. Our IAB guy is a great guy but he said he's the only one allowed to kill the bastard." That got a grin from Greg. "So we may be here for a few weeks."
"That's fine. Greg can still have tomorrow off. He's already in overtime for the week. It'll make the budget people happy." Greg snickered and so did Xander. "Where are you staying until his place is aired out?"
"Bellagio. I loved it the last time."
"That's fine. We'll keep an ear out for you. Did Lady Heather tell you she was out of town?"
"She did. She's in the Riviera getting a tan and being waited on hand and foot by boys in tiny gold shorts." That got a smile from the older man. "We'll take her out to dinner or something when she gets back. Don't worry so much about us. I've got Horatio if something happens this time and some of the others may be coming up for a vacation as well." That got a smile and a nod. "Plus maybe Uncle Don if I can talk him into it," he admitted with a happy grin and a small bounce. He looked at Greg. "Be good and safe tonight. We'll see you when you get off work. Come over, don't worry about showering or eating." He got a smile and a shy grin. "I'd kiss you but someone would say something." He kissed him on the forehead, then handed him a case. "That was given to me by someone with questionable tastes. I know they meant it for you instead of me." He walked out with a wink, handing back his visitor's pass.
Greg opened the present, smiling at the jeweled turban pin inside. "Did you send him pictures of me in the turban?" he asked. Grissom shook his head, so he let him see the pin, getting a smile. "Nick, did you send Xander pictures of me in the turban?" he called.
"I did," Hodges called from Trace. "That way he knew what a goofball he was dating." He came out and looked at the pin, then snorted. "At least he humors you."
Greg grinned. "And then some, Hodges. Thanks." He punched him on the arm and went to put it into Grissom's desk for the night. That way he couldn't lose it in his locker. Then he went to work for the night.
"What did your boy get you?" Nick teased. "A harem lord outfit?"
"No, a turban pin. Someone sent it to him and he thought it suited me better," he said happily.
"Regifting?" he teased.
"Nah, people with bad taste send him stuff," he said with a grin. "Someone sent it as a cloak pin."
"Yeah. If he ever wants to lavish some girl in attention he's got the stuff stored. I know what he picked out for Aiden's birthday present and Calleigh's. Plus Stella's out of the New York lab. He'll never have to buy another girl a present again." Nick smiled at that and got back to work on the layout. "He said some of the others might come up soon to vacation with them since they wanted Horatio out of town during the remodeling."
"Why? He nagging?"
"No, the guy who spread those rumors that you and Warrick told me about is down there and Horatio was going to turn him into peanut butter." He grinned at him. "They're at the Bellagio while my place airs out."
"The pot granny going again?"
"Horatio got a buzz from ringing my doorbell. He said there was a cloud coming out from under the door this time," he said dryly. "So I'll be there tomorrow."
"Sure, Greggo. It'll be fine. You guys will be happy and carefree for a few days."
Greg beamed. "Thanks, man." He got back to his sketch. "I do not like doing these."
"Tough. You're better at it than I am."
"Flack," Don said tiredly. He smiled. "Hi, Xander. Why do you sound like you're in a casino?" He blinked. "So they sent you to *Vegas*?" He put his feet up on his desk, leaning back. "Sure. I can understand that. Not like I don't wanna hit him myself. Yeah, I can warn Stella about that and let her choose. Tell her the other's her holiday present unless she wants to give Uncle Patrick great-grandkids from you two." He smiled. "I wouldn't mind and I can trade off for this weekend. Yeah, that would get some nags off her back. Last time I saw him he just looked confused. Didn't hear anything about the test results. Sure, let me ask her tonight. Where you guys staying?"
He wrote down the hotel and room number, plus the number Xander read off to him. "Sure thing, Xander. Let me talk to her then get back with you. Thanks for the offer, nephew. Behave and be safe." He hung up and went looking for Stella. She was in the lab as far as he knew. He found her in Mac's office. "Two things," he offered. She smiled at him. "Xander said your present for your birthday came from someone up here. They found this out after he sent it. There's a different one you can have instead if you want. Secondly, the guy who started those rumors is in deep shit down there. They sent Horatio to Las Vegas with Xander to get him out of Miami so he couldn't turn the guy inta paste. But he did invite Tara and I out this weekend if I can trade out." He grinned. "He wasn't sure you'd want the stress if the former owner saw it."
"That's sweet of him. I haven't opened it yet. Mac's got it in his desk and I was just asking for it since I'm celebrating tonight." She scowled at Mac, who chuckled and tossed it over. She sat down to open the small package, then gasped and held up the jeweled hair clip. "Oh, this is beautiful," she breathed. "The scorpion is exquisite."
Don smiled. "He said the other one was a pin if you wanted it instead."
"I don't care who the sender was. I love this!" She pulled back her hair with it. The tail wrapped around and was clasped in a claw to hold her impromptu ponytail back. "How does it look?"
"Looks great in your hair," he promised with a smile. "You know, he's got tons of the stuff that got sent but he said he'd probably only sell it unless someone gave in and gave Uncle Patrick a next generation."
She looked at him. "They can ask me themselves, Don. You've got a woman to give him some grandkids." She smiled as Tara peeked in. She had seen her coming up the hall. "Come see my birthday present from Xander."
"I've got the other one," she admitted, holding it up. Mac took it and locked it in his desk, making her giggle. She looked. "That is beautiful. Totally mundane too." Stella looked at her. "The other one has a slight protection spell on it so you can't hurt yourself with it." She smiled at that. "I came to give you a card," she admitted, pulling it out of her purse and handing it over. "It's not much."
"It's wonderful, Tara," she promised, kissing her on the cheek. She opened it and grinned at the kitty cat card. Then she giggled at the inside. "I love you, little girl." She kissed her on the cheek again. "I'm going to put this up safely and let Danny drool on my new ornament."
"Before you go," Don offered. Tara looked at him. "Xander's out in Vegas with Horatio and Greg. They wanted him out of Miami because of the rumor crap that got started." She pursed her lips and nodded. "Xan wanted to know if you'd like to go out for a weekend?"
She blinked then slowly went pale. "You mean like to visit and play or like to the little chapels?" she asked weakly.
He gave her a hug. "Whichever you decide. He did say if you wanted that it would get Uncle Raphael off your back and my sister."
"It would but ... It's only been a few months, Don."
He kissed her. "I know. Up to you totally, Tara. When you're ready." She relaxed and smiled at that. "Or we could just go frolic in the desert and watch Xander be cutesy with his two boys."
"As long as he doesn't get married again," Mac joked.
"Very true," Don agreed, grinning at him then down at Tara. "I can trade off this weekend if you want."
She swallowed and nodded. "I wouldn't mind that, Don. Thank you. Can I ... can I pay for part of the hotel?"
"Nah, not a problem. The wiseasses have a house out there too, Tara. We can relocate for the weekend." She smiled at that. "Okay?" She nodded and gave him a cuddle. He gave her a tight squeeze. "That's my girl. Now, did you see Sheldon yet about your paper?"
"I did. He's got it at home and he'll proof it tonight for me," she admitted sheepishly. "I waited too long."
"Nah. It happens. You've had a busy semester." He kissed her on the forehead. "Okay. Let's get you back home, baby."
"Your boss was looking for you."
"She probably was." He grinned and waved. "Later, guys. Happy birthday, Stella."
"Thanks, Don." She smiled at their backs as they walked out, her tucked under his arm with her arm around his back. "They are so adorable," she sighed.
"They are," Mac agreed. He smiled at her. "That does look good nestled in your hair."
"Thanks." She walked out, going to make Danny jealous. He was having a frustrated day so it wouldn't be too hard to break his bad mood.
Xander pounced Greg when he came in. "Ha! Caught you!"
"You did. Did you need handcuffs?" he teased, looking back at him.
"Not for you, Greg." He stole a kiss and let him up, closing the door behind him. "Horatio, Greg's here." He stole another kiss. "The only thing that will keep me from you while I'm here is you working, me having an emergency at Lady Heather's because she's out of town and I volunteered if we had an emergency case come in, or Don and Tara when they come out this weekend."
"They're family, Xander. I don't mind. I can steal more than enough of your time." He took another kiss and grinned at him. "I am under orders from Speed and Eric to keep you two entertained and make you forget Miami exists for the next three days. I don't know why...." He felt Horatio's hands go around his waist and a kiss be placed on his neck. "Oooh, I missed that." He turned his head and Horatio kissed him once he shifted to reach him better. "I missed you guys." He felt Xander tease his belt buckle and let him do whatever he wanted. He had one possessing him and the other trying to suck his soul out. It was a great day to be Greg Sanders. He came into Xander's talented mouth and moaned into Horatio's. "Please?"
"Bedroom, Greg. Not out here. Even though Xander did pounce you." Greg went running that way, stripping as he went. Horatio smiled and helped Xander up, kissing him. "You taste just as sweet." He walked that way, pulling off his shirt. Xander put out the do not disturb sign and headed in to join them. A good pounce of Horatio and Greg joined in to pleasure their older lover until he begged.
Speed looked around the mess the reconstruction crew found, sighing in displeasure. "This is going to take weeks to clean up."
"Who would've done this?" Eric said.
Ryan walked in with his case and paused to look then groaned. "That janitor guy, didn't he have a crush on Buffy?" he asked. Speed looked at him. "The one who planted the porn to break Xander and Horatio up."
"He did," he admitted, looking at the pictures again. "Shit!" He looked around again. "Okay, who wants sketch? There's no way I want this one."
"I'll take it," Eric offered, starting with the long distance pictures first. He'd be working from them. "How did we not smell these?"
"He's got the ventilation system vented out through the morgue," Speed said, pointing at the additional pipes. "They wouldn't notice any more decomp smell." They settled in to deal with this issue. The six sacrificed bodies to Buffy's picture and the stuff laying around was not going to be fun to deal with. "Wolfe, maybe you shouldn't work this," he noted when he found his wife's picture.
"Bet me," he said bitterly. It was held up. He shrugged. "I don't care. Working it means I can protect her better, guys." That got a nod and they got back to work. "Is this the only area? I saw the dogs heading for another section of the walls."
"Do we have people living in them?" Eric said bitterly.
"If it was the janitor, he'd know all the insecure spots in the building," Speed reminded him. "That's how he would've gotten back in here to sacrifice his victims. I bet he had some master key at home or something."
Ryan called someone. "Calleigh, it's me. Has anyone checked on that janitor who tried to plant the porn in Horatio's office yet? Because we've got a huge shrine to Buffy with sacrificial victims. Yeah, and he said he wanted them broken up so Xander could go back to her side," he reminded her. "Please. Just in case. Well, with the bad photoshopping he was doing I'm not surprised. Thank you." He hung up. "She'll swing by there but they just called her in to come look at drug evidence." The other two guys stared at him. "Apparently that's why they had the dogs out. She was talking like she'd be a while, Speed."
"So will we. Good thing they evacuated Horatio when they found this." He took another picture and held up a teddy. "That's nasty."
Eric looked then shrugged. "Two hundred dollars of nasty but yeah."
"It's still nasty, he wanked off on it," Speed protested, bagging it. "I'm going to see how far back this goes, guys." He walked toward the back and shuddered. "Rats!" He came out. "Dead rats but rats." They got to work a bit faster before whatever had killed the rats came out. Halfway through Ryan got pulled away to look at something else. He came back two hours later. "What was it?"
"You know how this building has some really old foundation still underneath it?"
"Yeah, the old station and hurricane shelter," Speed agreed. "Some people actually think it's romantic and take dates down there."
"I only went down to see what it looked like," Eric defended.
"Well, someone rewired electric to a room and set up another shrine to Xander. An officer is going in for a blood transfusion." Speed paused to stare at him. "Dark hair, long dress. Babbling about the stars and her kitten while she played with a very small jeweled collar."
"Druscilla," he hissed. "She's gone?"
"It's dusty down there," Ryan agreed. "I called Willow to check on him and boxed up that shrine. Before I got her she was saying the light one would get me for this."
"Xander said something about her and Cordy," Eric reminded them. "Isn't that his ex?"
"Cordelia? Yeah. Makes me look sweet and pleasant some days too." Speed looked at him. "You're sure you dusted her? She's a master of the mind screw."
"I'm fairly sure, Speed," he said, dusting off his t-shirt. "She tried for a nibble. Didn't like Willow's protection or perfume on me apparently." Speed smiled at that. "She put a small wooden blade into my kit recently."
"Excellent work," he decided. "Anyone complain?"
"One of the guys until he realized she went whoosh and turned to dust. Then he decided he didn't want to know and it was a good idea to keep Horatio in Las Vegas for a few more weeks."
"Horatio would be growling," Eric agreed. "Xander's dog would look impressed with him."
"Who has his dog?" Ryan asked. "Willow wanted to puppy sit."
"Me," Eric said with a grin. "He's a good dog. Hasn't tried his trick on me yet."
"Then I'd get the spot on the back of your shirt taken care of, Eric," Speed teased.
Eric looked then grimaced. "Eww!"
"Well, we know the dog loves you," Ryan teased with a grin. He pulled on some new gloves and dug back in. "Hey, Speed, does this go to Xander or who?"
"It's evidence. I don't know," he admitted. "We'll have to ask someone higher up." They bagged up the next box of stuff to the former hunting trio then let the officers helping them cart it off to the temporary evidence locker. By the time it was dinner time they were done and starving. Eric finished his last measurements and followed everyone out. Speed stopped in front of the chief. "We're going to dinner. We'll come run fingerprints in the morning if that's all right."
"That's fine, Speedle. Has anyone told Horatio yet?"
"I called my wife but no," Ryan assured him. "We'd hear the growl if we had."
"I had a question," Ryan said. "Who does it go to?"
The Chief looked stunned. "I don't know. It's evidence but it may not be stolen. It was clearly a shrine to someone."
"It wasn't bought by the janitor if it wasn't," Eric assured him. "There were a few good handfuls of jewelry in there."
"The one in the basement had semi-precious carved stones," Ryan agreed.
"I don't know yet, boys. We'll have to make that determination since there's no clear cut chain of custody that I know of." That got nods. "Also, Calleigh found the janitor dead. Fairly brutally. She had joked about needing hip waders for the blood on the walls. He died four days ago according to Alexx Woods."
Speed frowned. "Those bodies she pulled out for us were only two or three, Chief."
"Could it have been the one in the basement?" the Chief asked.
"That would account for the lack of blood," Speed agreed, nodding a bit. "Alexx paged and said they died of exsanguination."
"Interesting. So the blood went somewhere and we do know what that thing in the basement was."
"I was in Sunnydale for two and a half years. I knew who she was," Speed assured him. "I would've gotten her on sight, sir."
"That's fine, Speedle. Trace ownership for me. If it's stolen we'll hand it back. If not, we'll keep it for the trial if we end up having one. I will have this building in lockdown in case someone else is sneaking in."
"Yes, sir," Eric agreed, tugging on Speed's arm. "We're going to eat. We missed lunch." That got a nod and they headed out together, meeting up with Calleigh at the usual hangout to talk about it.
Speed sat down at Xander's desk and dialed Mac's phone, putting him on speaker. "It's Speed. I need some advice and this can not get back to Horatio and Xander."
"Okay. What's wrong? Another rumor started?"
"No," he said, relaxing into the comfortable chair. "I wish. Are you alone on your end?"
"That sounds bad."
"We're talking human sacrifices, Mac. It is bad."
"Give me two minutes. I'm in the halls." He walked off. "Not now, Lindsey. I need to take this. It's about a case. No you can't help. This is an older case. Human sacrifice." He walked into his office. "Um, Sir, I need to take this call. Can..."
"If it's a bad time I can call back in twenty," Speed offered.
"No, Speed...." He smiled and muffled noises came through the obviously covered mouthpiece but not enough to hear or make sense of. "Okay, I'm back. It was about the same case possibly. Human sacrifices, shrines set up to Buffy, Xander, and Willow?"
"Yup. Plus vampires. Didn't get that part of it?" he teased.
"Oh no," he moaned. "How bad are we talking?"
"Six bodies that we found, the body of the guy who set up the original shrine dead days before the others were killed. We dusted one in the building itself at the secondary site. Nothing was stolen, Mac. They were all convinced to give them to her because she was going to get her dark kitten back and he would join them. The guy who built the shrine wanted him to dump Horatio and go back to slaying on the hellmouth with Buffy. I'm guessing the same people got him for not being on their path after all. We've got indications of at least four others, all reportedly dead. This case will never come to trial."
"So you're left with the evidence and a lot of it."
"A lot of expensive things. One of them was a carved jade cat figure. Not Egyptian style either. There was a moonstone set as well, both napping cats, Mac. Our boss is keeping Horatio out there until this is done with. He'd be trying to protect Xander and I am protecting Xander this time. We haven't even told Patrick yet. How did you hear?"
"Your boss called my boss to get advice since he knew we had a small demon community up here," he admitted. "Can they take it back?"
"No. Which leaves the problem of do we give it to Xander, to Willow, to Buffy, or all three? The main shrine was to all three but had more Buffy pictures. There was a small shrine to Willow, including some very dangerous magic books. Druscilla was making her own to Xander in the old foundation."
"At least they traced the drugs."
"Yeah, to another few janitors who were pilfering out of the vault somehow. Fortunately that's not under us. This was in the walls in the lab, Mac."
"That would be gross. Personally, I would say split the main one since it was to them. You know what was where so split it that way. Split Xander's to him."
"Half of the stuff to Buffy was really tacky lingerie he'd had fun on."
"Well, ask her if she wants it at least," he offered. "Some women would wash it a few times and keep it."
"The chief didn't like that idea. Apparently he's heard some things about Willow and magical mistakes. He apparently liked it when she turned Stetler into a lizard a few times." Mac snickered at that. "She did. During the holiday party even. Amused Horatio to no end as well." He smiled at the laughter. "So, did she take it?"
"She did. She loves that little scorpion. She said the other can be her Christmas present." You could almost hear his chair creaking. "I would give it back to them, Speed. Can you stop the others in that group?"
"Yeah, we let Willow go after them with some of Patrick's guys. She was not a happy witch. Not even Ryan can make her smile at the moment. You think that'd be acceptable?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "It could be. Let me know how this turns out. Danny's walking up the hall looking pissed as hell."
"Good luck with that, tell him I said hi and they're okay in Vegas so far with Greg." He hung up and leaned back further, considering it. Then he wiped the conversation off the computer's records, just in case. Xander would check that first and he wanted to talk to him first. He called out there. "Grissom please? I know it's daytime but I'm sure he's hovering somewhere. Because he's like that," he said dryly. "Most CSI are. Yes I am. Tell him it's Speedle from Miami." He scratched the inside of his elbow. "Hey, Grissom. Yup, that one. No, slight issue. Actually no, I'd rather brief you, have you brief Greg, and let them be briefed by him," he admitted. "Because I'll be out of screaming range." He smiled. "Kinda figured he was. Horatio has always had shit sensors that make him drift closer to where he'll be needed with tp." He smirked. "It was but it fits in this case, Grissom. Please." The phone was handed over. "H, sit. Now." The dog peeked in. "Hey, Thumper. Eric bring you home?" He sighed. "Where to start, H?" He put him on speaker. "Okay, first of all, the renovations are going to be a bit delayed."
"Why?" Horatio asked calmly.
"They haven't started yet."
"Why?" he asked again, still staying calm.
"Because they were tearing down a wall in ballistics and ran into a shrine to Buffy, Willow, and Xander by that same janitor who planted porn to break you two up. Apparently he wanted to have Xander go back and help her." The dog hopped into his lap. "There were six bodies killed three days ago in his shrine. He died two days before them."
Horatio took a deep breath. "How?"
"Remember hearing about that thing with Druscilla and Cordelia?" He petted the dog to stay calm. The growling was upsetting the poor little beast. "Well, they found a second shrine just to Xander in the basement. Druscilla was down there putting new kitty items in it." The dog barked. "I know, you don't like cats," he soothed. "Ryan staked her when she went for him, aftere he got an officer away from her snacking nature." Horatio's growl went up a step. "But we packed it all up and sicced Willow on it with some of Patrick's guys."
"The bodies were done by who?"
"One of the vampires presumably," he admitted. "As was the janitor. This leaves us with the problem of the shrine's contents. This will never see a trial."
"No judge would believe vampires did it anyway," he agreed, sounding a bit tired. "Why the call?"
"I called Mac to get his opinion on what we should do with the, approximately, seven hundred thousand in jewels and lingerie we have in the temporary evidence locker. The Chief said he's stumped too. Wolfe pointed out the possible problem this situation would create."
"Speed," he said quietly, a low, quiet, dangerous sound. "Why the call?"
"Because the bottom shrine was just to Xander. The top one was mostly to Buffy but Xander's side of it was packed with shit too, Horatio. This is why I told you to sit." The dog looked up at him. "The daddy, not you, Thumper."
"Thumper, daddy loves you, behave. Good boy." Another deep breath, in and out, then in again. "All right. Can we just hide it? Make up a case number and put it in the back of a storeroom somewhere?"
"The Chief said he didn't like that option. Ian hates it. Since it was staff related he still had to make a note of it. Especially since we weren't sure until about an hour ago that it wasn't related to the sixty pounds of various drugs we found in another maintenance shaft. The guy was slick, he had walkways behind most of the walls so he wouldn't get caught, Horatio."
"Burn it, Speed."
"We can't really burn the jewels, Horatio. Willow's had things like clothes and spell books. Things she'd normally wear and a few pieces of lingerie, plus a few token bribes for her to leave Wolfe. Buffy's had a lot of nasty lingerie - definition of nasty in this case meaning biological deposits already included. Xander's upstairs had knives and things. Then Druscilla's had collars, carved gemstone cats, things like that." The dog barked again. "I know, Thumper. You'd hate her anyway. She called the Xander master a kitten all the time." He went back to petting him. "So we think it should be split up."
"I'm not telling him this."
"I was going to tell Grissom so he could tell Greg and make Greg tell you two. Unfortunately your shit sensing radar must be working very well today because you and the Charmin showed up already."
"Not funny, Speed. I'll tell Xander."
"Thanks, son-in-law." He hung up on that, smiling at the dog. "See, not a bruise or a whip in sight. It was a good job." He got up to pet the dog, going to help Eric save down stuff off the TIVO. "Told Horatio."
"I thought you were going to call Taylor in New York."
"I did. He suggested we split it. I told H the chief wasn't sure yet." He put the dog down. "He doesn't like the 'c' word." The dog growled and pounced a pillow. "Taylor suggested we split up the individual shrines."
"Did you tell him about the warehouse Willow found?"
"Nope. Don't want to. He's regretting having Charmin-sensing radar."
Eric snickered. "That's a better way than you usually put it." He finished making the copies and labeled each set, then set it to record the other things. "So, how was New York?"
"Apparently not totally happy. He said Danny looked pissed as hell coming up the hallway."
"Better than we're doing." He looked at him. "Are you and Cal going out to Vegas?"
"Could," he agreed happily. "Ryan said he can't because of her class schedule. You?"
"My mother would coo about the possible marriages. She already did and I pointed out the last person who had one of those quickie marriages without warning married an assassin. That's why I got to hit Russia for a week. She's decided I can go but I can't take Marisol with me and I had better bring back something other than a hooker or a showgirl." Speed snickered. "Hey, at least she knows my taste for the pretty ones."
"Uh-huh. We can go out with it."
"Xander would kill us if we showed up with crap like that," he said with a dry, evil grin.
Speed pulled out his phone and called his boss. "Chief, Speedle. Talked to Taylor. He said split it up by shrine, boss. Yeah. No, they're still in Vegas and I told Horatio. That's why I told him from here instead of just showing up," he agreed. "Up to you, sir, you're the boss. No, Horatio has a bad headache now and I wouldn't interrupt them curing it for him, boss. He's likely to snap. Thanks. We were thinking about that." He smirked. "Well, you did put us on vacation, sir, and we have been working...." He smirked at Eric. "Well, there's Calleigh, Eric, and I, Chief. His wife's in school and they've already been. Thanks, boss." He hung up. "Go pack. We're bringing it out tomorrow." Eric whooped and brought the dog with him. Willow and Ryan would puppy sit for a few days. He called Calleigh. "We are going to deliver that stuff to Xander and Horatio. Possibly travel over to get Buffy's to her too. Tomorrow. So pack, dear. Really? Good time to do laundry. You could pack that bikini. After all, most hotels do have pools." He smiled. "Sure, you do that. Love you. Be home soon." He hung up and went to check the house, then locked it up behind him, heading home with a quick stop to tell Gordon what was going on.
Greg smiled when the people in the picture Xander had given him came out of the secure area of the airport. "Flack!" he called, waving. Don smiled and waved back, then pointed, dragging the petite blonde with him into the baggage claim. They came out and he smiled, holding out a hand. "Greg Sanders. Xander's Greg."
"Hey," Don said, shaking his hand. "I'm Don and this is Tara."
"Xander said you were sweet and nice," he said, shaking her hand with a grin. "Come on. I've got a car rented for you two." Don nodded, going to pick that up from the machine since he had done everything online. He noticed Greg had changed it and got a grin. "Your other one didn't have air conditioning. It's still the desert, Don. That model has it and a map. No more expensive either."
"Sure." He got the keys and they headed out. "So, where are we staying since Uncle Raph said we can't stay at his pad?"
"You two are staying at my place since I'm at the hotel with my boys. I just got done airing it out because my neighbor was a pot granny and made Horatio have a contact high." That got a small grin from Tara. "That's okay, you don't have to babble. I do enough of that for four people." She giggled and pinched him on the arm. He smiled and got into the back seat. "You want to head to town."
"Okay." He headed that way, going a bit more slowly once they got to more scenic areas. Greg directed them to his apartment, finding his landlord coming out of the other apartment. "Hey," Don greeted.
"Guests?" he asked Greg.
"Yeah, this is Don and Tara. My friend's uncle and future aunt. Since I'm at the hotel while they air this out, I'll let them have my place for privacy and so they don't feel that they have to hit a casino."
"Sure. That's nice of you. You're getting a new neighbor."
"Okay. Do they smoke pot too?"
"No, they're religious."
"Uh-huh," Greg said, nodding a bit. "I'm happy with mine and if they are then I'm happy for them." That got a smile and the landlord walked off. "Okay." He let them into the place, frowning at the flies in the kitchen. "I did not leave food out and it hasn't been that long." He got into there to dig out anything nasty and do the last few dishes he had left in the sink. He even took it out. Then he came back and found Tara remaking the bed. "Sorry to make you do that."
"It's okay," Don promised, patting him on the back. "Where is Trouble anyway?"
"At the hotel attending to Horatio's headache."
"Headache?" Tara asked. "The sun too much for him?"
"No, the shrine to Xander that a janitor and then some vampires set up was." She eeped and sat down on the foot of the bed. He nodded. "The janitor wanted him to go back to help Buffy hunt. The vampires wanted to sacrifice him later so they were spoiling him now. Speed said Willow handled them when he notified him yesterday." That got a smile from Tara. "So." He grabbed a few things then handed Don his keys. "Gold one goes to the door. I've got my spare car keys. My cell's number three on the phone because I've lost it a few times in the couch of doom. The play station is really great. Stock the fridge however you want. There's a nice place about three blocks away. The closer one is more expensive. We're in the Bellagio up in the Princess suite." She giggled at that. "Yeah, I know, it's cutesy but sometimes you gotta treat Horatio like a princess. Otherwise he pouts." She burst out in louder laughs so he smiled at her then at Don. "Nap, rest, then call us for dinner, man. By then Horatio shouldn't growl."
"Sure, Greg," he agreed with a smile. Greg winked and headed out. Don looked at Tara, who got up to give him a hug. "He remind you of Danny?"
"He reminds me of Willow but so does Danny," she admitted. She gave him a gentle squeeze. "Let's look in the fridge then get food before our nap."
"Sure." He kissed her and went to browse, then went to get them snack food.
Greg barely got inside when someone knocked on the door. He groaned, walking back there without a shirt on. "Hi, Speed. Hi, Eric. Hi, Calleigh. Guys, your team's here," he called, finishing his stripping on the way to the bedroom. They could wait or Xander could go play nicely since he was sated and sleepy looking.
Speed set down the case he was carrying. Eric set down his. Calleigh got the door and set down the two bags on the table. Xander padded out and gave Speed a sleepy cuddle. "Why are you naked?"
"Because we've got a huge bed and you gave Horatio a headache yesterday. He still has it." He kissed him on the cheek and went back to cuddling. "I'm content, daddy."
"Good. We like content. Think you wanna wake up enough to look at the pretty stuff?" Xander spit. "Be nice."
"He's well built," Calleigh teased.
Xander looked at her and spit at her too. "Women suck." He put his face back into his father's neck. "Hit on Horatio all night," he complained weakly. "Wouldn't leave him alone and even pinched."
"It was the pants you put me in," Horatio said from the doorway. "Speed, Eric, Calleigh. Sorry, Calleigh. Xander, go put on clothes or go pounce Greg." Xander spit at him too. He shook his head but he gave him a fond smile. "Now, Xander."
"Go pounce Greg," Speed whispered. Xander looked at him. "We'll be here. Go ahead." Xander went back into the room and Greg yelped a few minutes later then he laughed. "The Chief agreed. Tough, boss." He handed over the cases. "His." He smiled at Calleigh. "He didn't mean you."
"I know. He would've said the same thing to Aiden too," she agreed, stroking his cheek. "Quit worrying, worrywart." She smiled at Horatio. "Can we have your spare room and Eric have the couch or should we try for our own?"
"Go ahead," he agreed. They headed to their spots then Eric snuck out to go play. He smiled at the other couple. "He's sleepy."
"Sleepy Xander is a content and happy Xander with the way he was walking on his tip- toes," Speed said with a small grin.
"No comment. Why are you three here?"
"Vacation and the Chief paid airfare as long as we brought this stuff out to you." He grabbed Calleigh's wrist when she came back out in something less practical. "We'll be back later, Horatio." He headed down to the tables with her. Down there they ran into Don and Tara, making Calleigh squeal and hug Don. "Hey, Don. This must be Tara. I'm Tim Speedle."
"Timmy?" she asked, shaking his hand.
"According to Willow and Xander." He gave her a gentle hug. "There. Because my boy would if he were awake." She giggled and smiled at the other woman. "This is Calleigh."
"So you're my pistol packing cousin?" she asked.
"I sure am." She gave her a hug and walked off with her. "Speed, remember our limit," she called.
"You two too if you're going shopping," he called after her.
"Uncle Raphael showed up last night and none too subtly asked her about her taste in diamonds," Don said with a small grin. "Where were you headed, Speed?"
"Poker. Wanna join me?"
"Sure. We can do that. Thought I saw Eric."
"We got our airfare paid if we brought the crap from the shrine. Xander's still half asleep and only able to walk on his tiptoes so I'll give Horatio time to wake him up." Don snickered at that, shaking his head as they walked. "I'll let you copy a copy of the report for Mac and them, drive him nuts making sure they don't have people living in their walls too."
"Sixty pounds of drugs found in another ventilation maintenance shaft." Don gaped. Speed nodded. "Yeah. Not even related to the shrines."
"Mac'll let Danny go crawling around for a few days to make sure of ours."
"I hope he has more fun than we're doing on this lab revamp." Don smirked. "Okay, well, we've had *some* fun. The vacation is nice so far but they've barely started and we're in week two."
"You'll get there. Remind yourself there's a federal grant paying you ta sit on your ass or to play with your son."
"I have. Xander is so getting spoiled when we all get home." They sat down at a poker table. "So, how's New York?"
"A little bit more sane than Miami is apparently," he teased.
Speed gave him a look. "The officer my boy's got dealing with that present situation sent back two cars the other day."
"Damn, I'm glad I'm from the other side of the family." Speed grinned at that and anted up for the next hand. Don did the same. "So, she put you on a budget?"
"I can't lose more than eighty a day."
"The same or for shopping." They shared a look then snickered. The girls would never stick to it but they were sure Xander was going to be helping them soon. He watched Eric stroll past with a drink in hand. "Looks like someone had some decent luck at some slots." He checked his cards then tossed back two, getting two new ones. He upped his bet a bit and the dealer smiled and flipped hers. He flipped his. He lost but oh well. It was fun. He got a beer when the waitress came over and Don did the same. It was a good day and eighty dollars went fast but it was still fun.
Don strolled into work his first day back, waving at his boss. "Hold on. Got stuff from Miami for Mac."
"How was Las Vegas?"
"Decent. We had a lot of fun. Got totally spoiled. Got to hang with Xander and his family. One of the CSI out there let us stay at his place so we had fun. Tara's second cousin is a CSI down in Miami; she came up to spend it with us since Xander's almost like a stepson to her." He grinned. "Before you ask we did not do anything official." She pouted. "Tara's not like that. She wants something more like her and you can't do that in a week's time without planning." He walked off, taking the manilla envelope down to Mac's office. "Hey."
"How was it?"
"Good. Before you ask, she only giggled at the wedding chapels." He handed over the envelope. "From Speed and them. They were up for a few days as well. Calleigh is Tara's second cousin so the girls went *everywhere* together. Speed and I just kinda drifted behind and grinned at the cuteness." Mac smiled and opened the file, looking at it. Then he gave him a horrified look. "Their Chief paid airfare if they went to drop it off in Xander's lap. So it's in Tara's suitcase for the most part. With his blessing to sell it and do something better for humanity with the money. Horatio gave her the name of someone he remembered up here who could help her."
"Good." He read over the report behind the list of shrine contents. He blinked. "In the walls?"
"Yeah, all that, another spot hiding drugs, Speed said about sixty pounds in some sort of maintenance shaft for the ventilation system. Then one in the old foundation." Mac moaned, shaking his head. "He said you might wanna check yours just in case you've got people hiding in your walls."
"Danny could use the easy day," he admitted, going on. He smiled at the link to the revamped lab's plans. He typed it in and looked then at him. "Did you see those?"
"Horatio found those. He got special attention for his ongoing headache from Xander and Greg both. Speed and them are leaving tomorrow for more of their vacation. Eric was joking about taking some woman he found home to his mother. Made her quit clinging really fast and flee. But that's okay because one of them came for Xander again when we were all out a club last night. She was damn persistent. Even Horatio couldn't run her off and he was getting *real* friendly on the floor to make her go away. Tara giggled at the cuteness of the trio all night."
"Horatio, Xander, and Greg?"
"Oh, I'm glad they worked that out." He went back to the plans. "It looks like teeth."
"That was one comment Eric had. Xander offered some of his explosives to fix that." Mac snickered at that. "He wasn't joking. Anyway, have fun seeing if we've got people living in our walls as well. They've just barely gotten the revamp started according to Speed. That shrine stuff added an extra few days."
"I'm sure they'll be fine."
"Speed's already going nuts. He and Xander ended up together on the floor and Calleigh gave them a lot of long looks."
"It's only fatherly between them."
"I know. She knows too. Xander is a tease though. Got Speed hit on by some majorly pretty women. I should've brought one back for you or Danny but they said they couldn't bend enough to get into the luggage." He walked off, smiling at Danny and Sheldon when he ran into them. "Hey, guys."
"Bring back presents?" Danny asked.
"Hell no," he snorted. "Postcards. Pictures. Tara." That got a smile from Sheldon. "She's fine and she's figured out how she wants to do the official stuff. Stood up to Uncle Raphael even. Was kinda cute when she gave him the big eyed pouty look. Calleigh taught it to her." Sheldon beamed at that. "They were up due to their lab revamp. She got to giggle at the cuteness of the trio for *hours* last night in the club before we flew back." He looked at Danny. "Miami found a drug stash in their walls and so many little pathways in their walls that you may get to do the same."
"Yay me. So, how were the showgirls?"
"You know, I only saw the ones hitting on Eric." He shrugged. "She was pretty nice but he mentioned his mother and she fled." That got a smile from Danny. "Xander got a new friend that Horatio couldn't make go away. So in a few years they may be finding her body in the desert. Oh, met Lady Heather. She came in early last night and Xander introduced her to everyone. She thought Tara was adorable and gave her a long hug for being so cute," he said proudly. "Xander babbled on and on at her about a lot of stuff and they went to dinner so we got everyone else for two hours. Then she went ta work and he came back and pounced his boys to go clubbing."
"Aww," Sheldon said. "I'm glad you two had fun." He patted him on the arm. "Tell her to call me later and tell me. I'll be expecting happy babble." He walked off. "Hey, Mac, are Danny and I both going to be inside the walls or just him?" he called into the office.
"You can both go," he agreed.
"Hey, Danny, we're both going," Sheldon called.
He quit talking to Don and nodded, then said something quietly, getting a grin and a happy wink before Don went back to his desk. "Sure, Doc. Not a problem until I get too dusty and nasty today. We bringing tranq rifles for the rats again?" he asked as he came in to see what had went on down there.
Greg crept into work his first night back, holding his head. "Before anyone says anything it's not a hangover. It's where some unkind woman hit me with a bottle last night for the sin of dancing with my boys. I have a pounding headache and no tylenol at home." Catherine found some and handed it over. "Bless you, Catherine." He took them and laid down on the couch. "I'm early so I can do this for ten minutes. Then I'll get ready."
"Sure, Greg. Who was she?" He shrugged. "Will we need a body detail?"
"Only if Xander killed her after she batted at me. I think he just glared because he babied me instead of going on a body dumping run."
"Sure." She watched him drift for a few minutes, going to find Grissom. "Greg's in and he's got a bump on the head." He handed over the report with a small head shake and went back to his reading. "That's what he said happened. Horatio and Xander all right?"
"Just fine. Greg?"
"Just took a few tylenol and laid down for ten."
"I'll give him an easy night if I can." Nick leaned in. "He got hit on the head."
"Woman who wanted Xander and he wouldn't give him up," Catherine said.
"Probably growled at her until she went off." She handed over the report. "He was out of drugs at home."
"It happens to the best of us," he agreed, reading it over. He smiled at one section. "Yup, he'll have a headache." He handed it back. "Okay. I'm in, Gris. Do I have anything?"
"Cool by me. Going to the locker room." He headed that way. He ran into Warrick and Sarah. "You saw the lady who hit him last night?"
"Yeah, I had her arrested." He gave him a look. "Looker and kinda hot but tragic and stuck on Xander." He shrugged. "He okay?"
"He's fine. Just took some tylenol. He was out at home."
"That happens to the best of us," Sarah agreed. She closed her locker and sat down to tie her shoelaces. "Will we have a busy night tonight?"
"We shouldn't. It's a Tuesday. But you never know," Nick offered.
Catherine walked in. "Lady Heather just called. Someone broke into her house. I heard Xander in the background."
"I thought they left yesterday," Warrick said.
"Maybe Horatio left yesterday," she offered.
"Or maybe neither one left because they don't want Horatio to scream at someone," Greg said from behind her. "Who broke in?"
"Someone broke into Lady Heather's office."
He stared at her. "Her office where she talks to people or her *office*?"
"I think the second. I heard Xander soothing her in the background. Her secretary called."
"I'm going." He took the slip. "Who's going with me?"
"Greg, I think you're a bit too involved," she offered.
"Catherine, in her *office* she keeps client records. Special session videos." She went pale. "Yeah. Xander had one of those stolen recently." He headed out, going over there with his case. He walked in and found Brass waiting. "Is someone dead?"
"Someone's going to be. They got into her session files."
"Xander keeps those too," he agreed, heading inside. He nodded at the door guard. "Office or tea room?"
"Tea room, Gregory."
"Thanks." He signed in and went up there, signing in on their board as well. He walked under the tape and kissed her on the cheek. "Lady Heather," he said, staring at her. "Are you all right?"
"I opened the door and I found the safe open," she told him. "Horatio was helping Xander keep me calm just now. They came over for tea."
"Let me work on this," he promised. "Who's missing?" She whispered in his ear and he hung his head then nodded. "I'll let him know privately."
"Thank you." She stroked his cheek and he swallowed. "It will be fine, Gregory."
"Or else I'll get to flay someone this time," Xander agreed.
"Tim," she said, frowning at him.
"I will! They did the same damn thing to mine! Only took one session." She nodded so he came over to sit at her side and hold her hand. "It'll be okay."
"I'm sure it will be. Gregory, if you need him to, Horatio has offered to help."
"I think I can do this but I'll let Grissom know in case it's needed." He smiled at Horatio then blew a kiss. "Anything on first glance?"
"Even better. Stupid criminals get me in the stomach." He walked in there, pausing to look around. A few shuffled papers. The desk safe was open. So was the other safe. He started with pictures and moved on from there. Warrick came in a few minutes later. "Both safes were open and the papers on the desk were shuffled through. I'm sure she's much neater than that."
"Okay. Anything up there going to be compromising?" he asked the owner. She walked in and Greg helped her around his things so she could look. She held up a few things. "If we have to we'll those in confidential bags, like we would legal papers." She smiled at that. "Is the combination to the safe in here anywhere?"
"I've never written it down," she admitted.
"Is it a sentimental date?" Xander asked from the doorway. She nodded. "Could anyone guess it?"
"It was the day I graduated my training." He nodded and helped her back out then back to her seat, cuddling up with her. She smiled at him. "You are very precious to me, Tim, but do behave."
"I am. I could've lost you if you came in sooner." She smiled and stroked over his hair. He looked up. "You know, if the people in Yemen who wanted me badly enough to take sperm samples managed to make a daughter she's going to follow in your footsteps. Baby leather and all." She smiled at that and gave him a cuddle. Horatio finally made him sit up straighter with a look and he held her hand instead. "Horatio, did we ever find out who had broken into my safe?"
"I did," he admitted. "Because of the rumors that person took that one session back because he thought he might have spilled some secrets."
"He did but they weren't getting into the open. If he had asked I I would have given it to him."
"Sometimes people panic," she reminded him.
"I know." He kissed the back of her hand, watching them work. He looked at her. "You were going to talk to Horatio about something?"
"I was." She kissed him on the cheek. "Go do a check round, dear." He nodded and went to do that while she looked at Horatio. "Are you two serious?"
"I am. I can't answer for Greg." He sat down across from her. "I'm very serious about him, Lady Heather."
"Good. His grandfather's people were concerned since someone tried to blackmail you about him." He nodded at that. "They did suggest that a prenuptial would be good for him at this stage, even if it only sat in the safe until you were ready to sign it. They don't think you're a gold digger but they can't discount the fact that Xander will be coming into at least half Father Benis' estate and that is rather sizeable. Especially with this recent problem and another one he's feeling hints of."
Horatio stared at her. "I believe that's moving a little fast and I know they don't think I'm after him for the money. I believe his sire is being pushy in this case." She nodded. "I have nothing against signing one if that is what *Xander* wants. The same as I agreed to the contents of his will when he laid out the list in front of me a few days back."
She smiled and nodded. "Good. I knew it wasn't in you, Horatio, but they do think that the pressure may get between you some year."
"Then I'd come out here," he told her. "Or to New York to work."
"Excellent." She reached over to take his hand. "I think you two are perfectly charming and well suited to each other. They are thinking like this because they're used to having someone out to get them for being gay. Patrick lived through some of the most upheaving times for personal rights."
"I understand that. I still think they're pushing both him and Tara before they're ready."
"I think Xander could be ready if you were. I think they're trying to make sure that she'll be protected in case something happened to Don. This isn't the easiest field to be part of, Horatio."
"I agree, it's not, but she's definitely not ready yet."
"He's a wise man who's letting her set the pace," she reminded him with a small smile. "The same as you are for Xander."
"I have... There have been things in my life..."
"He knows. If you wanted to tell him he's there for you to spill to, Horatio. He sees a compliment to his own life in yours." He relaxed and nodded at that. "The same as he knows you've had to kill in the line of duty. He is one very realistic young man. He would gladly hold your trust if you would give it to him."
"I do trust him," he promised, looking at her. "Even with the bad parts of my temper."
She reached over to stroke his cheek. "We all have a temper. He held me the night I went after the murderer of my daughter with a long whip, Horatio." He nodded at that. "Where others tried he stepped in and held me together. Xander is a gift to be treasured. That's why so many want to steal him from you." He cracked a smile. "Tell him if you trust him. You already know all the sins from his life."
"I do," he agreed.
"When he's ready he'll tell me," Xander assured her from the doorway. "Santiago is here, Lady Heather. He's settling his boy into the blue room."
"What's wrong with him?"
"A lot of bruises that made me wince," he admitted. "Which I'm pretty sure weren't done by him."
"No, he never lost control. Boys, I'll be back in a moment," she called, letting him help her up and the both of them escort her down. "Emil?" He smiled grimly at her but gave her a hug. "What happened?"
"His ex wife. I need to hide him for a few days."
"Of course you can stay with me. The both of you." She looked at the poor boy. "Tim, go get some of your cream, dear." He went to do that, bringing back a small zippered bag. He got to work on the injuries and she looked at him. "Is she under arrest."
"He wouldn't but she's clearly snapped."
Horatio cleared his throat. "Can I call someone in that department to help facilitate her arrest? Before she hurts others?"
"We talked to one person who knew. She's in the department, Horatio." That got a nod. "If you wouldn't mind." He handed over a slip of paper. "That's who she is."
"I'll call a contact I have in that department. I know of her." He went to do that, calling Mac to get her number first from the balcony.
Xander finished with the last visible bruise. "Should I worry about broken ribs or anything?" The man on the bed shook his head. "Are you certain?"
"He's got some bruises but x-rays said no, Tim," Emil said. "What is that?"
"Something Willow makes," he offered, handing over the tub. "It's a natural herbal remedy." He helped him out of his shirt and winced. "I've had one there in the past. That aches." He scooped some out and put it on with the lightest of touches. "There, that should smell funny but ease some of the ache and help draw out the bruise." The man on the bed nodded. "Good boy," he soothed. "Any others I should worry about?"
"She ripped out his PA," Emil offered.
Xander winced and hissed at that. "Ice pack, dude." Lady Heather sent for one and he handed it over. "Wherever it'll help the most." The man smiled and dropped it there. "Okay. Emil, do you need me further? Someone broke into Lady Heather's office."
"Are you all right?" he demanded, looking at her.
"I wasn't here. I think it must have been a few days ago," she admitted. Greg came in and whispered a name, getting a nod. "It wasn't?"
"No, it wasn't. I checked it against the list. A different one was in that slot. I found one of the missing ones."
She looked at him. "I passed him onto you." She whispered in his ear.
"That's the guy who took his from my safe," Xander agreed. Greg nodded and went back to let Warrick know. That let Horatio help them. "I never get to see my man working so I'm going to lurk and watch. With permission?" She nodded so he left them alone to talk so she could help the poor guy. "Pulled out his PA," Xander said quietly. Horatio shuddered. "Yeah. Someone warned?"
"Someone is very warned," he assured him, smiling a bit. "Sit out of the way." Xander curled up in a chair facing the doorway, watching them work. "You wanted to watch us work?"
"I never see you work. Every time someone's working in the house I'm always safely in the kitchen or the office, or locked in the bedroom. Greg, did I tell you that Calleigh and Speed had us knocked out the last time and locked in our bedroom?"
Greg looked at him. "It would've kept you safe," he offered with a shy grin. "Stay there." He got back to work.
Warrick looked at him then at Xander. "So, would you like to learn this stuff, Master Tim?"
"I sucked at school."
"You could probably get help from Horatio."
"I only passed Biology in high school with a D-minus because Willow puked on my frog," he told him. "Even Timmy couldn't help with that, Warrick." That got a small smile.
"She's got a frog phobia," Horatio said. "Xander does very good at some languages." He gave him a look. "I know Timothy and I both thought he should take a few classes that way, perhaps even angling toward a degree?"
"I know. Language classes aren't that bad."
"I tried French. I couldn't remember why I wasn't talking about fish."
"We'll see, Xander."
"I pick it up better when people are speaking it around me, Horatio."
"Then we'll see if we can help you with that." He lifted a beautiful print. "That is a wonderful one," he said, sealing it and handing it to Warrick, who smiled. "She always wears gloves?"
"Almost always during work hours," Greg agreed.
Warrick looked over at him. "Should I worry that you've got some in there?"
Greg looked at him. "No, mine are missing, Warrick. That's why I left you that safe. Mine isn't the only one either." They shared a look and Warrick moaned. "So yeah, it'll be okay though. She's going to gut someone this time." He got back to work on the doors. "Hmm. Hand print." He lifted it and carefully sealed it, then labeled it. Lady Heather came back. "Lady Heather, should I worry about going to get exemplar matches against anyone else tonight?"
"There are a few people who could have touched things in here legitimately." He gave a pointed look at the door and the handprint, making her smile and nod. "Including there. I'll have his taken?"
"I can do that," Warrick said. "Or Greg can if you want to keep it confidential."
"I'll send him with Master Tim. They all know if he or Santiago is there it comes directly from me." That got a nod. She went back to watching Xander watch what they were doing. "It's not that hard," she whispered in his ear.
"I'd have to go through years of science classes and I suck especially hard in science, m'lady."
"I understand, dear." She stroked over his hair. "You should let it grow again."
He smiled. "Horatio likes it short."
"He does have good taste." She kissed him on the temple. "I'll give you a list of names to go looking for." He nodded. "You are to escort and let him do whatever he needs to do."
"Of course. Are any of them in today? I saw Paul cleaning somewhere and I remember you used to have him clean your office for punishment."
"He still does now and then," she admitted. "We can start with him and move out. There's only six people who should be in there legitimately." He nodded at that. "What about that one client?"
"I can't get hold of him," he admitted, looking at her. "My last message I made it fairly clear that he would be in contact with me this week on my cellphone or I would start proceedings to have him banished and shunned for stealing his session tapes back instead of asking."
She nodded. "That is reasonable," she agreed. "I've had one who went to a more covert agency and they made him gather his. I gave him the same choice." She stroked over his hair again. "Always so soft."
"It matches my abs," he teased.
"Shut up, Xander. Your abs are not flabby," Greg ordered. He gave him a look. "You're not getting fat."
"You're not," Horatio agreed. "Greg could take up some limited exercise now and then but I think you're in wonderful shape, Xander." Xander blushed but smiled at them. "No more worrying about your body image."
He looked at her. "My red leathers with the velvet trim are getting tight again."
"Dear, that's because you keep gaining muscle," she assured him with a gentle smile. "Your thighs are much tighter now." He nodded. "It's all that work they get," she teased. He blushed but nodded and smirked wickedly, making her laugh.
Greg walked up to where Grissom and Ecklie were talking. "Can I borrow Gris for five minutes?" he asked when Ecklie stared at him.
"I'm not done with him yet."
"Fine. I can wait."
"Go wait somewhere else."
"Um, no. Sorry." He stared back. "We have federal agents coming soon." Ecklie went pale and hurried off. He looked at Grissom then around. "Because one of them has been stealing his session tapes and gathered a few others. Xander got a call a few minutes ago. He killed himself and they had to clean out his apartment. They found the tapes there." Grissom nodded. "Yours, mine, Nick's, and one other person's who they wouldn't name," he finished very quietly. "She wanted you warned. We've taken accessory fingerprints since his weren't the ones on the safe, Grissom. He paid someone to break in for him."
"I understand, Greg. Thank you for warning me."
"Not an issue but his boss is coming," he said at a more normal tone of voice. "He's probably not a happy guy by any means. Also, Horatio got to help because it's the same guy who stole one from Master Tim's safe." That got a shudder. "Only one where he stated a doubt about some orders he had received. So we do have feds and they're not happy feds by any means."
"Thank you for the warning. I'll be in my office." Greg nodded. "If the opportunity came up, are you moving?"
"I don't know yet," Greg admitted. "Living with them for the last week has been fun but I've also found myself getting a bit frustrated at some things. I know it's what newlyweds go through but I'm not sure at this moment."
"That's fine, Greg. Let me know if you do make that decision and start looking." Greg smiled and nodded. "After all, there are all those research labs down there plus college positions. You wouldn't have to be in the same lab."
"True, I wouldn't," he agreed. "But I like working with Horatio. Even if his hair care routine in the morning does make me wait on my own." He smiled and walked off. "I'm going to see Nick."
"He's in the field." Greg looked at him. "Eighth."
"Going." He headed back out to go find him and talk to him. He found him and Catherine on a scene and got out, waving at them. "I need to see Nick out here. I'm not signing in," he told the officer. That got a nod and he went to find him. "Hey, not here to help, gotta talk to you," he said when Nick joined him at the tape.
Greg led him back to the back of the SUV he was signed out on tonight. "Lady Heather's safe was broken into, Nick. Some of her session tapes were stolen. Mine as well as your therapy one," he said very quietly. Nick went pale. Greg nodded. "We're getting them back tonight. The Fed who did it committed suicide. It's the same guy who stole from Master Tim. It wasn't just ours but his supervisor is supposedly bringing it back without having watched it. Your name was labeled. Last name and first initial."
Nick nodded. "I agreed she could do that," he admitted. "Do we need fingerprints?"
"No, Horatio brought those back first and the safe was broken into by someone other than him. But she did want you warned that it had been taken from her and that it was in the hands of some stupid mother fuckers in the Feds. The same sort who made his guy commit suicide for going to her and Master Tim."
Nick nodded. "If something gets said I was there for therapy after my kidnaping, that's all it was. The tape backs that up. I can weather that storm. Going to her is like going to a motherly nun."
"I know. I have no idea what sessions mine was."
"Other useable capitol."
"Gris?" Greg gave him a look. "I know he goes, Greg. You really get petted?"
"Yeah, I'm tactily deprived."
"Oh. Have to remember that. Thanks for letting me know quietly."
"Not like I want everyone to know I go to let her stroke through my hair." He shrugged. "They're supposedly coming in tonight. I told Gris in the halls but quietly and no one should've overheard."
"That's good. I'm good with that. Thanks."
"Welcome. Now, I've got to get back to work." He grinned and Nick smiled, heading back to get sucked back in. He got back to the office and saw two black sedans pull in. One parked in his parking spot too. So he walked in and told the guard to have them move it or tow them. He walked into the back area. "Gris, he knows," he offered.
"Thank you, Greg."
"Yeah?" he asked calmly. "By the way, one of you parked in official parking. You're probably going to get towed." He saw the shocked looks. "What?"
"Your sessions were recorded."
"I knew they could be. I have nothing to hide just because I'm tactily needy. She has great nails that I love going through my hair." The man looked horrified. "Most everyone in the lab knows about me going to get petted like a big puppy dog. Don't believe me, ask the person behind you."
"I didn't know that's why you went there, but I did know you were involved in a relationship with her student," Ecklie admitted.
"Yes, that's called love. Bit of a difference." He looked at the feds. "Now, my sessions please?"
"They're evidence and may be shown at the inquest."
"He shot himself. There won't be an inquest," Greg said bluntly. "What you're doing right now is blackmail and I'm going to call the FBI on you. Because I'm not going to put up with you hurting others." He felt a familiar hand against his back and looked up, smiling at Horatio. "Have you ever heard of an inquest at a suicide?"
"No. Not if it was as clear cut as I heard this one was." Horatio looked at them. Then he looked at Grissom. "I locked Master Tim in the locker room with a guard, Grissom."
"That's fine. He can have a volatile temper now and then." Greg snorted. "He can."
"He does targets for that." He looked at them. "My session tapes?" He held out a hand. "Before I sue your asses."
"We're the federal..."
Greg picked up the phone and dialed a number. "Deputy Director Winchester please. Greg Sanders. Thank you, I'll wait." He looked at them, seeing the pale faces. "Scotty, it's Greg Sanders. Yes, him. Lady Heather's safe was broken into and we need some help down at Grissom's office. Could you please come help us? I can agree to that. Thank you. Yes, that's why. They have session tapes and are trying to blackmail people. Thank you." He hung up. "She'll be here in ten minutes," he promised quietly, leaning against the desk. "I think we can all wait that long. Horatio, who's guarding Master Tim?"
"Bobby. They're talking guns. I really do need to go over his collection again. Someone sent him something recently and I'm not sure what."
"Present?" Greg asked. Horatio nodded. "Artillery?"
"With what he was saying, possibly." A delicate tapping of shoes came up the hall so he looked and nodded. "Deputy Director," he said respectfully.
"Far from home, Horatio." She smiled at him and shook his hand. "What's this I hear Master Tim went down there?"
"He's up here on vacation as well. He's presently locked in the locker room with their ballstics tech. His personal safe was broken into by the same person."
"Interesting." She walked in and looked down at them. "Why was one of our agency cars being towed?" she asked blandly.
"They parked in official parking," Greg told her. "Thank you, ma'am."
"You're welcome, Gregory." She looked at them. "The problem with handing them back would be?"
"Isn't about to happen for a suicide case," she assured him blandly. "The same as you blackmailing people for needing therapy isn't going to happen either. Am I clear?" she asked patiently. The man's mouth opened. "Do not make me strip you of rank," she warned before he could get out a protest. "I will and we both know I will. Should you try to protest it you'd lose your job for attempting to blackmail CSI Sanders and Mr. Grissom."
"There's another who went for therapy after a kidnaping, just traditional therapy," Grissom said quietly. He saw Horatio shake his head at someone. "Come in and close the door, Horatio." He came in and closed the door. "Thank you. Sara?" He nodded. "This is not the first time something like this has happened, Deputy Director."
"I know. The same as I know it's not the first time he's done this." She bent to get the paperwork that had been slid under the door. "Hmm. Fingerprints." She looked at them then at one of the people there. "Interesting." He went pale. He already knew. "Handcuffs, gentlemen?" Horatio handed over a set, making her smile. "Quite a fit mate for Master Tim, Horatio. Stand," she sneered. He stood and she cuffed him. "You're under arrest for blackmailing four officers and breaking and entering. Your accomplices here will be spilling their guts or they'll join you." He nodded, hanging his head, swallowing hard. "Your career is over. Now, the DVD's?" They were handed to Greg, who counted and shook his head. "What's missing?"
"Nick Stoke's therapy session," Greg said, handing Grissom his and keeping his own. The spare one got put onto the desk. It wasn't labeled with more than a number but he knew who it belonged to. "It had his last name on it." She searched the briefcase, coming up with it. It also got handed over and that agent was also arrested. "I thank you for your help."
"This stinks, Gregory, and I agree that it had to be dealt with by someone in my position." She stared at him and he tipped his head slightly. "Thank you." She smiled and led her boy out, letting Horatio escort the other one once he had cuffed him. "Thank you, Horatio. I'll try to make sure the people who come to bother you about cases in Miami are smart enough to work with you."
"I enjoy turning them into lunch," he promised. Xander came out and he smiled at him. "Xander."
He walked over. "Scotty."
"Master Tim." She shook his hand. "Thank you for helping Lady Heather. I heard you were also broken into?" He handed over the notes he had made. She looked it over then nodded. "I'll check with him later then. I thank you."
"Not an issue." He leaned a bit closer to kiss her on the cheek. "Play nicely with my boy," he ordered quietly.
"Always, Master Tim. I'm always nice."
She smiled at that. "I'll have to stop by for tea later."
"I'll make sure she gets these back," Greg promised.
She nodded. "Agreeable, Gregory. As the law allows of course." He nodded. "Good boy." She got into her car and her driver took off with the prisoners. The others had to smoosh themselves into the remaining car.
Greg went to move the SUV then came back to look at Grissom. "Mine go back to her unless we need them."
"Agreed," he said, handing over the stack. "I have Nick's." That got a nod. "The last one?"
"Won't really care. He died late last year."
"That's fine, Greg. Take them back there for me please." He nodded and went to do that. He looked at Xander. "What did they give you?"
"Oh, a new trial piece of hardware and a new scope." He smiled. "Someone's upgrading the AK again." Horatio moaned. "I let Calleigh see it."
"I wondered why she was sighing in displeasure."
"It's not illegal yet."
"Yet," he said, looking at him. Xander smiled sweetly. "I'll be seeing the entire collection when we get home, Xander. Just so I can keep track of the explosives content."
"Thank you." He looked at Grissom. "We're going to go play in a casino so Greg can work. Thank you for handling that so quietly, Gil."
"Not a problem, Horatio." He shook his hand. "I'll see you boys in a few days. Have fun and be safe."
Xander grinned. "I think they're scared of him. No one's tried more than groping me this time." He walked off, taking Horatio to their rental car.
Grissom walked back inside with a smile on his face. He ran into Nick coming in from the back entrance and handed him the DVD. "Up to you." That got a nod and a smile. It got tucked into his locker. It was a good case solved easily. Before anyone could panic.
Xander woke up in a hospital with Mac leaning over him. "How in the hell am I in New York this time?" he complained weakly. Mac laughed and patted him on the shoulder. "Head injury?"
"Yup," Danny admitted on his other side. "Horatio's next door before you ask. This time they tried for both of you."
"The stalker from the Middle East?"
"No, but your Grandsire was here," Mac said gently. "How do you feel?"
"Strangely numb. Anesthesia?" Mac nodded. "Surgery?"
"Small one. The standoff got you grazed fairly deeply." He smoothed over his hair. "Horatio's fine."
"I knew I wasn't in ICU. Greg?" He raised the head of his bed and his ears popped. "We are in New York, right?" They both nodded. "What happened?"
"One of his buddies wanted to see what was so special and thought redheads were cute too," Danny told him. "They gassed you both and then stole you. We got you off the plane after a short, intense swearing session from Greg in warning. They tried to hold you both hostage with a concussion grenade. You bit him. Didn't draw blood." Xander nodded once with that. "The Feds shot him and you both got brought here. You're all right. Horatio's still a bit groggy. They sedated him more heavily. Your Grandsire took care of the hotel out there." Xander shrugged weakly. "He said if you fuss he's going to complain."
"He said he took care of it for you," Mac promised, smoothing over his hair again. "Can you feel that?" Xander nodded, looking at him. "Good. You said earlier it felt like your hair was singing opera." Xander smiled a bit at that. "Let me get an update on Horatio."
"Can I go over there since I'm not staying?"
Mac pointed at the handcuffs next to him. "You're not getting out this time, Xander. Speed said to handcuff you and your grandfather agreed." He smiled and went to bother the nurse for a minute, getting an update. Horatio was awake, barely. He walked in there. "Xander's fine and awake."
"Who had us?"
"Do you remember a woman in a club?" Horatio glared at him. "I see you do. Her husband."
"With them doing a stand-off on a plane, Horatio?"
"Never mind." He raised the head of his bed. "Sedated?"
"By them. They gave a local when they did the stitches on your chest. Greg called me swearing. He got in more than enough in the first ten seconds I nearly hung up on him until I recognized his voice. Fortunately Don knew who he was talking about. His grandsire took care of the hotel and your things out there." That got a slow nod. "Your dog's fine. I talked with Speed. He said Xander's staying even if we do have to handcuff him this time. He's in the next room over."
"Welcome. The nurses said you'd probably be okay to go sometime tomorrow, him as well. Want wheeled over? She said you could move and he shouldn't."
"Please." Mac got a wheelchair and helped him into it. "I hate hospital gowns."
"I'd offer you pajamas but you're bigger than I am," he teased. He wheeled him over there, finding Xander trying to undo the handcuffs.
"Stop, Xander," Horatio ordered. Xander pouted at him. "Tough. We'll get out tomorrow." He took his hand to hold. "How do you feel?"
"My head feels like it's numb. Otherwise I can't feel a thing."
"Then you definitely need to be in here." He stroked his thumb over the back of his hand. "Mac, any word on the revamp?"
"Not a bit except Speed heaving a sigh," Danny offered with a grin. "So apparently not that great." Horatio nodded at that and stared Xander down until he went limp and nodded. "Don'll be up tonight to see you guys with Tara. We just need a statement."
"We were cuddling and I was making him watch Monty Python," Xander told him. That got a smile from Mac. "We were on the couch I think." Horatio nodded. "So, am I going to be stranded up here again?"
"No," Mac assured him. "They'll let you go home sooner this time. They did say that perhaps Greg should come down to visit you more often."
"That's unfair to him," Xander pouted.
"Then both of you travel to some other city," Danny offered. "Make it a real vacation." He stood up. "Do you remember the gas or anything?"
"I remember thinking someone had been smoking in the hallway," Horatio admitted. "Nothing else." He didn't look at him, kept staring at Xander. "We will behave?"
"I was behaving last time."
"I mean it, Xander."
"Fine. I'll try not to whine."
"Thank you." He kissed his hand and let him go. "We'll see if we can get the handcuff keys later." Xander nodded and relented, making him happier. He looked at them. "So, the woman who decided she couldn't take no was married?"
"She was. Scouting people for her husband," Mac agreed. "Don found her on the same flight and pulled her off it."
"Nearly by her bad hairdo," Danny offered with a small grin. "Grissom's gonna think you go for flashy exits with this being the third time, Xander."
"Third?" Mac and Horatio asked, staring at Danny. Then Horatio stared at Xander. "Third?" he repeated more quietly.
"That was a mugging," he defended. Danny cackled and walked off shaking his head. "It was!" he complained. "Even Greg said it was!" He looked at Mac. "It really was."
"I'll be talking with Gregory later tonight," Horatio assured him. Xander went pale. "Would you like to tell me about this mugging?"
"It was just a mugging, Horatio. He came up to me while Tara and I were getting groceries and tried to get my wallet. Nothing else."
"I'll tell Don," Mac assured him, heading out with a pat to Horatio's shoulder in sympathy. He ran into Don in the hall. "Mugging?"
"The one where he and Tara were out getting food?"
"Oh, yeah, she told me about that. Pissed off guy wanting drug money. Xander got between him and Tara, then knocked him out, walking her inside and chatting normally afterward. She thinks he's got superhero syndrome too."
"How did that turn into another attempted kidnaping?" Mac asked, looking a bit curious.
"Oh, no. That wasn't the mugging thing. Same day," he admitted. "Person with a gas canister while he and Lady Heather were out for dinner together to chat. Did I tell you she liked Tara?" he asked with a grin.
Mac smiled and nodded. "You did. She's a great girl, Don." He headed off shaking his head.
"Don," Horatio called. "What kidnaping?"
"Um, last I heard it was some chick with a gas canister," he admitted, heading in there. "He didn't tell you about that?" Horatio shook his head. "Huh. Xander?"
"What?" he whined. "Can I please have the keys so I can go to the bathroom?"
"You can't escape that way either," he said, handing Horatio the key. "So, how's Greg?"
"Last I knew he was fine," Horatio admitted, unlocking Xander. "Need help going to the bathroom?" Xander shook his head and shuffled that way, closing and locking the door. He looked at Don. "Gas canister?"
"Hotel security took care of 'em," Don promised. "Wanted Xander to be theirs since apparently there's something really special. Escaped from custody but then she left the country. Headed for Mexico at a dead run." That got a hum and a nod. "He'll be fine. She's now seeing why she's not allowed. Xander berated her quietly and firmly from what Lady Heather said later that night."
"That's what that discussion was about."
"That and how much she liked Tara," he agreed with a goofy grin. That got a smile back. "My girl's great."
"She is, Don. You hit the motherlode with her. She's very sweet and nice plus she loves you. Cherish her."
"Oh, I will," he promised, grinning at him. "Xander?"
"Busy," he called.
"Sure." He looked at Horatio then shook his head. "He'll be okay?"
"We'll both be fine."
"Good. Uncle Raphael will be in later tonight. He's a bit grumpy that neither of us got married out there."
"We have not been dating that long, Don."
"He's pushy, Horatio. He knows how short time can be."
"I know." He sighed and nodded. "We'll be talking about it anyway. People want him to make a prenup."
"Not a bad idea. That way your nephew and sister-in-law can't say he's with you to soak you dry or use your position to his benefit."
"True. I hadn't thought of that."
"He's not a black widow. We know this, right?" Horatio nodded. "Good. Now, can I get your help on a case?" He handed over a folder. Horatio stiffened. "What?"
"That is nearly impossible," he sighed, looking at him. "He's dead."
"He's not. He was at the scene later that day." Horatio nodded. "Let me know?" Horatio looked at him then pulled him down to whisper in his ear, getting a horrified look. "I'm sorry."
"No, it's better that I hear it this way instead of from some idiot fed," he assured him. "Speaking of, there's a few of them who might be coming up to you soon. Keep him up here for a bit?"
"If I can. Would he be involved?" Horatio shrugged. "Any idea so I can find him?"
"He's a tweaker, Don."
"Oh." He nodded and made a note. "Okay. I'll do what I can, Horatio. You guys are gonna go stay with Tara for a few days then head home. I suggest you bring Speed presents. He had that 'dad' sigh down pat."
"He did the last time too," he admitted with a small smirk. "We did some shopping back there."
"He's bringing your bags with him." He walked out, heading back to the station to talk to Mac about this case. It just got a lot more involved and not in a good way that would make it easier to solve. "Hey, Mac?" He looked over and smiled. "Don't, man. I talked to Horatio about that drug case."
"Did he know that person?"
Don whispered the same thing into his ear, getting a moan. "He warned me of idiot feds incoming."
"I'm out here so I don't have to deal with the one in my office."
"Cool. Can we face him down together?"
"Sure." He walked that way with the folder, going to interrupt the pacing the agent was doing. "You needed to talk to us?" Don nodded at someone but closed the office door.
"I don't think this needs to be bandied about."
"It's my case and I'm an uncle to Xander Harris," Don told him. The agent looked clueless. "Who's the boyfriend of Horatio Caine." The agent went a bit shaky. His bald, dark head started to sweat. "They're both in the hospital after the airline standoff earlier. Horatio warned us you'd be showing up."
"I have in the past about this sort of thing," he admitted, looking at him. "How much do you know?"
"He put it out in three sentences."
"Oh." He considered it. "He's undercover."
"Nah, ya think?" Don said sarcastically. "Considering there's a headstone to him down in Miami I think he'd better be!"
"Calm down, Don."
"The guy had a kid, Mac! You don't fuck with families like that!"
"You don't," he agreed calmly. "Not without a very good reason. Now. Was his cover broken?" The agent nodded. "Is he in the wind or free?"
"Free. We let him go. He wrung out all he could for us."
"Is he still a junkie?" Don asked.
"No, he's clean," he said quietly, looking at him. "Is Lieutenant Caine in any shape to talk?"
"His boy will use you as target practice if you upset him," Don assured him.
"I can handle that."
"I doubt it." He looked at Mac. Then at the agent. "So, our homicide?"
"A dealer we were tracking. He knows who did it and I've got that information if we can get some cooperation helping get him out of the city."
"Airlines?" Don suggested.
"He helped us bust a South American and Asian cartel." Mac shuddered. "Exactly, gentlemen. We need him to be safely out of New York. Miami would be fine but I can't guarantee he wants to go down there."
"Sure," Don said dryly. "Train?"
"Train might work," Mac agreed. "Horatio and Xander will be heading home in about four days probably." That got a nod. "He is not to go near Detective Flack's girlfriend. They'll be staying with her and we do not want her involved."
"If at all possible. Is she blonde and shy?" Don growled and his fists balled up. "We made him quit watching her earlier. He expected his brother to show up there."
"You keep the slimy fucker away from my girl. Or else it won't be an issue," Don vowed. "Am I clear?" That got a quick nod. "Good. Mac, with permission?"
"I've got it. Go tell her." He walked out, going to stomp home and talk to Tara for a few minutes. "That was royally dumb."
"Horatio calls us idiot feds most of the time but that was his brother's doing. I was trying to keep him away from normals."
"He probably did today as well. Give me what I need and leave, Agent Johnson." The man looked stunned. "Of course I know who you are. I knew when you walked in here. File?" It was handed over and he left. Mac muttered something under his breath and went over the information in there. He called Xander's room, getting Horatio. "You okay? He was watching Tara to see when you'd be over," he said quietly. "They pulled him away from there and Don went to warn her. They said he's clean," he offered. "Don about hit him." He smiled. "You rest, Horatio. I don't know why he'd still be in the bathroom. Too much cheese?" He smiled. "That could do it. Have a better rest." He hung up and made plans on how to cover up this federal mistake in action as well. He hated doing it. He'd hate to disappear more.
Horatio looked up from his reading when someone walked into his room. "I should shoot you."
"You probably should," his brother admitted. He put down the small plant. "Are you all right?"
"A bit light headed from the gas. Nothing else." He closed his book, using his finger to hold his place. "So, you're alive."
"I am. They made me."
"I'm the least of your worries, Ray. Your son will kill you." He nodded, sitting down. "I would suggest you hide until I have a chance to prepare them." Xander wheeled himself in. "Figured out how to pick handcuff locks?"
"Yes, right after I found out we had crappy cable." He looked at the guest then at him. "Can I have a hug?" Horatio gave him a hug and made him smile. "Thank you. My head still feels numb."
"The cloudiness will go away soon, Xander. They said she used too much on you." He stroked over his hair. "Your grandsire will be in tonight."
"That's fine." He yawned and looked at his guest, frowning a bit. "I've seen your picture somewhere."
"That is my idiot brother."
"Oh. Ray showed me your picture then." He nodded at the shocked look. "You've got a good boy and I will use my whips to turn you into fish bait if you hurt him. If you don't think I can, ask your brother." He looked at Horatio again. "Did we mail back Daddy's present?"
"We did," he agreed, smiling at him. "We'll go rest at Tara's tomorrow, dear."
"Okay." He put his head down, letting Horatio continue to pet him. "I hate sleeping alone. Even the dog would be better than sleeping alone."
"I know." He went back to soothing him until he was snoring then he looked at his little brother again. "He will kill you, Ray. As I will if you hurt your son." That got a slow nod. "Yes, I'm with him before you ask."
"Oh." He slumped and looked at him then at Horatio. "Is he legal?"
"Much more than Suzie was when you two slept together and gave me a niece." Ray went really pale at that. "Yes, she knows. Madison got ill and needed bone marrow," he said quietly. "Your wife did not take it well and they're still fairly hostile to each other. The only thing saving her is that Madison is a very sweet little girl and Suzie was also out of control at the time. Your son thinks of her like a sister."
Ray swallowed and nodded. "Okay. Um.... Can you help me when I get home?"
"I can try. I can guarantee it won't be a quick process, Ray." That got a nod. "Good, then you're reasonable at least." He went back to petting Xander. The nurse came in and sighed in frustration. "He can't sleep alone."
"We have medicine for that."
"He's still feeling effects from the last stuff he got given," Ray complained.
"I don't care! He can't be in here." Horatio scowled at her and she glared back. "This is your room, not his."
Xander raised his head, glaring at her. "Get out unless you want to watch me suck my boyfriend off." She squeaked and stepped back. "Out!" She fled. "Thank you!" He put his head back down. "I hate drugs."
"I know, Xander." He went back to petting him, giving him a gentle smile and a small head shake once he was asleep. "He is very protective of who he considers family, Ray. He would kill to protect me and probably to protect Ray Junior."
"I'll be as gentle as I can."
"Let me talk to them first." He looked at him. "Are you clean?" Ray nodded quickly. "Fully?"
"For ten months, Horatio."
"Good. I won't have to kick your ass." A guard came in. "What?"
"Sir, he needs to be back in his own bed."
"He can't sleep alone and he'll go back soon."
"You can't do things like that here...." Ray coughed and produced his ID, getting a wince and a hiss. "He still can't...."
"All he's doing is napping," Horatio told him. "The nurse overreacted. But if they're that fussy we can easily head home." The guard nodded and left. He nudged Xander. "Let's escape." Xander beamed and nodded, going back to his room to pull on clothes. He looked at Ray. "I would suggest you not follow us tonight."
"There's a really tough guy with that blonde."
"That's Don. Her fiance." He swung his feet around and went to put on clothes as well. It felt good to get back into underwear again. He loathed hospitals. A nurse came in with forms. "Thank you." He signed it and let her check his room, then roll him out with Xander right behind him. His personal effects were handed over by the guy outside. "Evening, Sheldon."
"Evening, Horatio. Xander's grandsire is at the house. He was coming over later." He nodded at Ray. "Can I give you two a ride?"
"Please." He nodded politely at the nurses. "Thank you. Ray, I'll see you in a few weeks."
"Sure, Horatio." He watched as the CSI got them into the back of his car and Xander curled up against his big brother's side. His wife used to do the same thing when she felt nasty. It almost made him go 'awww' but he didn't want to have warm, mushy feelings about his brother's lover yet. At least not until he did a background on the guy. His brother wasn't usually the sort to go for barely legal and boyish. That had been more of his thing than Horatio's.
Horatio got Xander inside the house, watching as he curled up on a couch, his head on his grandsire's lap. Horatio took the chair and snuggled in to nap as well. "They didn't like that Xander couldn't sleep without his head on my leg. He yelled at the nurse and told her to go away before he proved we were together by blowing me right there." Raphael snickered at that, petting his boy's hair gently. "What do you know about my brother?"
"Quite a lot. Is he free?" Horatio looked at him. "I thought you knew," he defended gently. Any angst or yelling would wake Xander up.
"Just now free," he agreed, staying calm.
"It'll be fine, Horatio. Should I ask Patrick to tell Yelina?"
"No. I will. Or I'll ask Speed to have her call."
"Speed might be good to have that talk with her."
"That should come from family."
"It should," he agreed, smiling at him. "By the way, you don't have a stepchild yet." Horatio smiled at that. "I'll tell him when he wakes up."
"What about Anya's?" Tara asked as she walked in with a teapot and cups. She smiled before kissing Horatio on the temple. "You rest, Horatio. You need to rest to sleep off that nasty sedative." He nodded and let himself drift off. "Grandsire, what about Anya's baby?" He looked stunned. "She's not beyond that to get him back," she said quietly.
"I'll have her tested," he assured her, making her smile. "I know she's had some trouble recently." She nodded and poured him some tea, fixing it how he liked. "Thank you, love." He leaned back and Xander blinked up at him. "The child in Yemen isn't yours, Grandson." Xander smiled at that and drifted off again. He sipped his tea. "It's a good thing they don't gamble more often."
"Did they lose a lot?" she teased.
"Not really. Fifty. They nearly broke even. How did Don do?"
"He won about two hundred," she said with a shy smile. He smiled back. "So, everything they had out there is upstairs?" He nodded. "Good. Even the presents?"
"Everything in their rooms that the hotel clerk said wasn't the hotel's. Now, who was this woman?"
"Some delusional Xander stalker." He smiled at that. "Did you see the new blue pants?"
"I did. They're very tight looking." She nodded, blushing just a bit. "Is that what drew her?"
"No, he was dancing with Horatio and making everyone pant. Even Don," she joked. He chuckled and took another sip. "They are very cute together."
"They are and with the dog is even better." She giggled at that. "Who has the horny little thing?"
"Eric. Willow pouted but Ryan made her give the kitty toy back."
"Your cat liked him?"
"Chased him all around the house and used him for a pillow. She decided he was a toy the first time he tried to hump her." He chuckled, having to keep his tea from sloshing out and getting Xander. She grinned at him. "Ryan got pictures. Willow said they'd be pretty babies but she didn't want kittens this week." He had to put down his cup. "She did ask Eric if she could do a fertility spell for him so his mother could have the wanted grandchild. He walked off nearly crying at the image of him being pregnant. Apparently Timmy was picking on him again."
"Those two are so adorable when they play," he agreed happily. She beamed. "The same as you are, dear." He looked at her. "Now, what can I do to make you want to have a harvest binding?"
She blushed bright red and gave him a sheepish look. "It'll be the night before his sister's wedding. The whole coven will be there."
"Good girl!" He smiled at her. "Then an official one in the eyes of the law?"
She nodded. "After that," she agreed. "Sometime." He smiled. "I didn't want something quick and cheap. It's supposed to mean more."
"It is. You and Don aren't going to split anytime soon though. Even if you did hit a justice of the peace." She nodded. "Any particular faith?"
"Outside? But at night?"
"We could do that," he agreed happily. "Bind in the fall on an auspicious day and then marry in the spring at Beltane?" She went brighter red and squeaked. "Well, it is a good time to marry and mate, dear."
"Not too many grandkids," she complained.
"No, love, we'd never make you have too many grandchildren," he promised. She smiled. "You can stay on the pill for however long you want. We won't be pushy about that. Though we might start pushing Willow. It would bind her powers into her daughter." She blinked at that. "Patrick saw it."
"Oh." She pouted then nodded. "I know why." He nodded and went back to patting Xander gently. "He's adorable when he's not teasing Don."
"He is. Even if he won't let us spoil him horribly."
"He wants to be a self-made man, Uncle Raphael. Of course he won't. He's got pride like you've got the need to spoil. Spoil him with attention and affection."
"I try, dear, but I won't always be there. Neither will Patrick."
"He knows. The same as Don and I do." He nodded, smiling slightly at that. "Are you going to make Oz do all the Angel taunting alone?"
"Quite possibly. He's very good at it. Came up with a new name. Dark twinkie." She burst out in high-pitched giggles. "Exactly," he agreed happily. "He can handle loosening him up again." He winked at her and sipped more of his tea. He noticed Xander looking up at him. "Did you want to put in another nickname?"
"Tell Angel he's reminding people of Voldemort's younger brother." He snickered at that and had to put down his cup again to hug him. "Thanks, Grandsire." He looked at Horatio then at him. "We should go to bed."
"You should, dear. Have a good rest." Xander nodded, getting up to wake Horatio with a kiss. "Bed, boys. The usual room, Xander." He nodded and pulled Horatio with him up the stairs. He smiled at the beloved niece-in-law. He did adore Tara. "One of my children had a wedding ring if you'd like to have it," he offered.
She shook her head. "Don said he's getting mine. We talked about it out there and got in some looking before Greg pounced us that second day. I found what I wanted and he's looking around here to find something like it for me. He said when I'm ready it's mine." He smiled at that. "You can't buy it for him either. He said so."
"That's fine, love. That is a special purchase from husband to wife. I wouldn't dream of it outside of offering an heirloom. I can see if Patrick still has his aunt's."
"His father does. He asked."
"Then it's probably for the best. You two will figure it out." He leaned over to give her a hug. "You're such a sweet girl. We do adore you, Tara. The both of us."
"Are you having multiple personalities?" she teased.
"Now and then Patrick makes me want to snap that way." She giggled and swatted him. "You should be in bed as well, young lady."
"Can Don move in with me when we've bonded?"
"Of course. He could move in now if you wanted, Tara." She shook her head. "Not ready yet?"
"That should come with a ring."
"It should," he said happily. "I like your sense of morals, dear. Now, shoo, go rest. You have classes tomorrow and a frustrating, sick nephew." She smiled and gave him a real hug before going upstairs. He sighed in pleasure. She was such a good girl for his nephew. Suited him perfectly and made Don have a reason to protect someone in that special way.
Speed looked up as a scarred old veteran walked up to him in the park. "What's up, Mayper?" The older Asian man sat down next to him and handed over a letter. "For the son?"
"Yup. Can't figure out who sent it," he admitted quietly, glancing around.
Speed opened it and gasped, nearly grabbing his chest. "Oh please tell me this is a joke?"
"I checked, it's a legal draw." He looked at him. "It came from the Middle East. Also, I heard from Gordon. That will was finally settled. You don't have a granddaughter." Speed smiled at that. "So it was settled and they've sent things where Xander wanted to go. He'll have forms to sign soon." Speed handed back the draw slip. "I can't deposit it into his account."
"I don't have a safe place to put it."
"But you could deposit it for him."
"I could but man!" He looked at it again then at him. "From the people who stole him this last time you think?"
"I don't know. I called a contact I have in the Feds to see if they could trace it. They came up empty."
"Damn." He looked at it then nodded. "I know someone I can see." He looked at him. "How are you enjoying the threatening?" he teased.
"Mostly I feel really sad for these lonely schmucks who can't see reality but sometimes it's fun. A lot of them have been higher class people who think they can buy him as a new toy." He stood up. "Have fun with that and I've got a few at the house whenever you're ready to take them over."
"He'll be home in a few days. Bring them over then." That got a nod and he walked off. "Have a good afternoon."
"You too. Bikini season has started," he joked.
Speed got up and tucked the draw slip into his pocket, then put his phone on top of it so it couldn't come out while he rode over to the office he wanted. It wasn't that far away fortunately. That thing made him incredibly nervous. He walked into the office of the Treasury Department. "Is Agent Elliot in?" The receptionist nodded and he flashed his ID, so she let him sign in. "Thank you. Where?"
"Last office on the left, CSI Speedle."
"Thank you." He headed that way, puling out the check. He tapped and walked in at the grunt. "Sorry to interrupt lunch," he offered.
"That's okay. Another problem with counterfeit money?" Speed handed over the draw slip and he gasped in horror. "How?"
"We don't know. He has an officer working as a front for those things. He sends back what he can figure out and deals with them for him. He and his buddy somewhere in the feds couldn't figure out where that came from. I figure your people probably had that big of a payment flagged."
"I can definitely check." He turned to his computer and logged into a different screen, typing in the numbers from the check. He blinked. "It was from a blind draw account. Corporation name only on it. They're out of India according to the limited information. This is their supply account."
"So, are we talking terrorists want my son as well?"
"No. This isn't how they usually operate. Thankfully." He traced that account back to a Swiss bank, only getting a number. "Swiss bank was the originator of the deposit. Oh, crap, there's another that got authorized the other day." He sent a request to the bank. "Okay, I'm asking the Swiss bank for information but that's like pulling teeth from a toothless hippo." He handed it back. "Want an escort to the bank?"
"I'd rather talk to Horatio and Xander first."
"Want me to hold that here?"
"Please. I'm scared to death I'll lose it."
"He's getting another one in a few days," he admitted quietly. "Who do you have working on this?"
"He's hired Mayper to handle all the presents he gets."
"Wonderful. Would marrying Caine help this?"
Speed shook his head. "According to his grandfather it happens to all the members of the family once they've found their true spouse. Takes about four years to die off. I know he's not allowed out to Vegas again. This was the second time the FBI had to extract him from a plane where he was sedated and a hostage, this time with Horatio." That got a weak smile. "Yeah, exactly. That's all he gave me. I don't know anything about the envelope yet or anything."
"I'm hoping it got sent by a courier," he offered. "US Mail isn't that trustworthy all the time."
"Good point. If you hear anything let me know please?"
"Sure. When are they coming back?"
"Two days." He walked off after a short wave, heading to Xander's house to call up there. "Hey, it's me. Love you too, son, what did you just do?" he asked tolerantly. "Ah. You're trying very hard not to drink about that will. At least it's not a baby." Xander cackled at that, a bit high pitched. "Calm down. Because Mayper got a draw slip for you from a blind account. We're still trying to track it. I don't know, Xander. I left it with Agent Elliot so he could finish tracking it down. Xander, we're talking like the lab's budget check," he said patiently. Xander whimpered. "And there may be another one coming but if he can track it we can send it back. He did want to know if you wanted it deposited or not." He nodded. "I understand. Okay. Have him get you into a cab and go hug Horatio, Xander. Don't drink, it won't help." He smiled.
"Love you too, baby. Be good and calm down. It's not that bad." Xander told him why it was that bad, which made the bartender hiss in sympathy, he could hear him. "It'll be okay. Go home and get cuddles. If I was there I'd cuddle you," he promised. "Pay for the drink and go home. I love you. Remember that." He smiled and Xander hung up after paying for the drink he didn't get and headed home. He found Mayper's number. "I got with the treasury guy we know and use in the lab sometimes. He's tracking it but if you've got an envelope or anything it could help. No, he didn't figure it came in the mail. He did see that another one might be coming. Elliot. Treasury. Yeah, him. I called Xander, he's a bit hysterical about the will. Yeah, still that guy. Thanks, man, and keep me informed." He hung up and went to check the house. You shouldn't have to come back from vacation to a messy house. Or rotten food in the fridge.
Xander found Tara studying and sat down to hug her, making her squeak. "They settled the will and someone sent me a major anonymous check in the mail."
"Horatio's napping in the backyard," she told him. He nodded but continued to hug her. "I know, Xander. It'll be okay. I know it will. The Goddess doesn't like selfish people like them." She stroked over his hand and he gave her a squeeze before going out to cuddle his boyfriend. She sighed and called down to Florida. "Gordon, it's Tara. Someone sent him a check that's got him smelling like cigarettes?" She listened then winced. "Ow. Why?" She nodded at that. "Thankfully Don doesn't have that sort of curse on him. Thanks. No, they're here. Why?" She smiled. "They're coming back in two days, Gordon. You can have him sign papers then." She giggled. "Of course." She hung up and went back to her studying. She was learning a lot more at her present college. Not having a cuddly Willow was giving her more time to study it seemed. Don and Mac walked in and she smiled. "Xander and Horatio are in the backyard. Did you hear about the check?"
"No, I got faxed things he's got to sign," Mac admitted, heading that way.
Don came in to give her a kiss and a smile. "How's class?"
"Boring. I don't like this one." She stole another kiss with a grin. "Xander came in and hugged me smelling like cigarettes. Someone sent him a massive check anonymously." He shuddered. "I'm so glad you didn't get that curse, Don," she said more gently.
"Me too, baby. Me too." He stole another kiss and winked, heading out to help calm Xander down. "Why do you smell like cigarettes?"
"He went to a bar to almost drink," Horatio said, stroking Xander's back while he read. "We can't give it back or deny his existence, anything like that?"
"They tried that, the judge said it was odd and probably detrimental, but no. He did caution the rest of the family to leave him alone about this however." He sat on Xander's other side on the lounger, patting him on the back. "Hopefully this'll be the last for a while."
Xander looked at him. "Someone just sent me an anonymous check that was like the lab's budget. That's what daddy said."
"I'm sorry," he soothed, stroking his back. "If you sign those, your Grandsire can handle things and liquidate things for you." Xander nodded, going back to reading it over. He handed back one paper, pointing at a section, then read the others before signing. "That is a bad clause." Horatio looked over at him. "That he'd give up his daughter to the family." He called the toll-free number he had for the attorney handling it. "He's signed everything but the one with the daughter clause," he offered. "That one, yes," he agreed, nodding slowly. "Nor will he be," he promised. "Thank him for me anyway." He smiled. "No, he wants to be totally left alone by them. No matter what they want. He doesn't want to see them, hear them, hear about them in the news, nothing. Thank you." He hung up. "He'll ignore that one. Your grandsire is there and furious about that one. I could hear him in the background when that one got pulled up." He patted Xander on the back. "Need any more help on this one?"
"Nope." He looked at him. "Thanks, Mac. I know I owe you. Send me a bill?"
"It's not a problem. It's nicer than another dead body any day," he said dryly, standing up and gathering them back together. He read through them then went to fax them back, including that sheet unsigned. He got back a confirmation signed by Raphael himself and took it out to the happy couple. Xander choked at that. "That's what it's worth. Half of it has to be sold off if you don't want to keep it." Xander gave the paper over to Horatio and laid down, one hand over his eyes so he could nap it off.
Horatio looked and nearly choked, then looked at Mac. "This is for real?"
"Very. I mentioned the last one since it looked like someone from the same family. They're inputting a restraining order as well." That got a slow nod and a stare. "It'll be fine, Horatio. They're going to leave him alone. I would probably call down there to see about the check Xander apparently found out about today." Horatio moaned and sighed, nodding at that before going inside to do that. "Don?"
"I'm good and I'm off the rest of the day," he promised with a smile. "Gonna spoil Tara to dinner out."
Xander looked at his wallet then tossed it over. "Take her somewhere expensive and awe inspiring." Don grinned and went to do that. He looked at Mac. "You do deserve paid for dealing with the cranky assholes, namely me."
Mac smiled. "It's fine, Xander. I don't need it this time." Xander nodded so he left, going back to work.
Xander called his father. "Daddy?" he asked weakly. "You know, we've got to buy Mac a present for helping me. Plus Mommy before she pouts." He smiled. "At least I'm not with Anya anymore, dad." He grinned. "No, Horatio's doing that. Why?" He groaned. "You talked with the treasury guy?" He nodded at that. "Please. I don't want or need it. Horatio, can you fax that to my house for dad?" he called. "The new information sheet?"
"I can and am," Horatio called back. He came out a minute later, taking the phone. "Speed, I just sent it. That's the brief summary of worth. What check?" He listened, having to blink hard. "Tell me you're kidding," he demanded. Xander shook his head, making room for him to lay down again. "Why?" He listened to what little they knew. "Any idea if we can send it back? Return to the same account?" He nodded. "I don't know either. Let me know what you two figure out. Thank you." He hung up and hugged Xander instead. "I need to finish my nap."
"I could use one," he agreed, snuggling in.
Tara looked outside and giggled, sneaking off again to put on something nice so they could go out to dinner. Don had called Grandsire for a recommendation and he had gotten them a great reservation at a very nice place for tonight. She had just the dress thanks to Horatio taking her shopping last night. She'd make Don drool and pant all through dinner, but in a good, charming, and nice guy way of course.
Xander walked back into his house and found his father and Eric lounging in front of the another naked soccer match. "Any good?" he taunted.
"Yup, and one of your clients called. He'll be coming by tomorrow at five since you didn't have anything. I wrote it in your book for you," Speed offered, grinning at him. "This way the dog got to come home and quit trying to hump Ryan in the middle of the night."
"At least he was on the right end the last time," Eric said, eating a bite of chips. He held up the bag and Xander hugged him. "What did I do this time?"
"I've got to buy Mom a really nice present and you're helping me." He went into the office and came out with an envelope. "Eww."
"Tough. They sent the second one and closed both the account it came from and the feeder account. So we'll have to wait for them to pop back up again or for the Treasury guy to find out who it came from originally. He said to deposit them but not spend them."
"Horatio, they gave me a second one," he whined.
Horatio came in with the dog, looking at the check. "You weren't kidding," he said dryly.
"No, and this is the second one," Xander complained.
"Then they closed the accounts, H. We can't send it back that way," Speed offered. The dog wiggled over until he could hop down and walk across him to beg Eric for some of his chips. "Greedy," he taunted. "Didn't Willow feed you plenty of junk food?"
"Can't I just flay someone?" Xander demanded, handing Horatio the check. "Burn that or something."
"If you do, you can't give it back," Eric reminded him. He looked back at him. "Why are you buying your mom something nice now?"
"She said I had to if I wasn't making her a grandmother."
Speed looked up. "Thank you." He suddenly grabbed his head and moaned. "Ow. Oh, damn, ow." He took a deep breath then sighed and grabbed his phone. "Aiden, can you maybe call off work today? Please? Head splitting migraine?" he offered. "Thanks." He hung up and looked at Xander. "Car crash later."
"Oh. Good thing. She'll stay home, right?" He nodded. "Good." He went to the office and came out with the small box, dropping it in front of Horatio as well. "Do something about those too please? Bury them or something. Whatever?" He went to check his book, smiling at who was coming in tomorrow. Then he went to make sure he had everything ready in his work space for him. A few things needed cleaned and the furry tube needed to be washed so he put that into the wash and then went to hide. Naked soccer was nice but he really wanted to hide. Horatio came up after putting everything in a closet in another room, he had heard him, and came in to cuddle him. "Can I hide?"
"You can hide all you want," he promised, kissing him gently. "I don't like those either."
"I know. Not like I asked."
"I know you didn't," he soothed, stroking his back. "We'll get through this, Xander." Xander nodded and snuggled in, letting himself be held for now.
Downstairs, Speed pulled out his phone again and texted Aiden, getting a screech back. Only she had a stylized screech like that. He sent back what he knew for sure and let her handle it. Then he looked at Eric. "She's not hard to please," he offered.
"Does that mean there's a grandchild on the way?"
"I got a head's-up to check on Anya," he admitted. "I'm not sure yet and she can do that. She got on better with Rupert than I did. I told him to grow up a few times." He stole some of the chips, dropping one for the dog. "Daddy's upstairs, Thumper." He raced and went to cuddle the daddy and get lovies. He loved the daddies. Even the one that didn't let him help while he worked on things. He didn't even hump their ankles until they were asleep and then the nice one kicked him off the bed with a growl so he quit and snuck back up to get cuddlesome and cute. Before someone did the mean thing and stopped his fun.
Speed looked up a few days later, smiling when the messenger paused beside him. "I'm hoping it's not a court summons?"
"No, sir, an official letter," he said, handing it over. Speed signed and he checked then nodded. "You are one of the people who can sign for that. Please make sure it gets to the proper person?"
"Of course." He checked then smirked. "I'll be seeing him for lunch anyway," he promised. The courier left and he slit open the end, glancing inside. No check, official form letter with something handwritten in. From Las Vegas. Interesting. He put it in his back pocket and went back to enjoying his ten minutes of free time. He had wrapped up one, it was only about twenty minutes until lunch, he wasn't on for the next body, Eric was. It was a pretty day in Miami. Even if his son's sports car did sound a bit out of tune when it pulled in. "Already time for a tuneup?" He handed over the letter. "From Las Vegas."
Xander looked at the open end then him. "Thought it was another missive to make me swear?"
"Not that I mind," he agreed. He looked at the letter, then sighed and called out there. "Sonya, is she up yet?" He smiled. "M'lady. I just got an official announcement of death. Are you okay?" He listened to her and smiled. "I'm happy to be here for you, m'lady. Whatever you need, you know that." He grinned. "Sure. We can do that. Talk to you soon, Lady Heather." He hung up. "The guy who killed Lady Heather's daughter was killed in jail."
"Pity he didn't last longer," he said then shrugged. "She okay with that?"
"He got what he deserved," he assured him. Then he hugged him. "So, lunch, or should we worry about grumpy people and bodies?"
"I'm not on for the next one, Eric is, and grumpy people, here?" He glared at one guy giving them a funny look. "He's like my son, get over it." He walked him inside, letting him sign in so they could head to the break room. Xander looked around then at him. "I know. Don't ask me. I didn't design it. I protested all the glass; it's somewhere between a canyon and a big mouth of teeth."
"They do kinda look like teeth," Xander agreed, frowning at one. "Is that supposed to be decorative?"
"Uh-huh." He just nodded and kept going with him. "Okay then." Speed smirked at him. "At least they kept the table and the couch."
"No, one of us had to go drag our old ratty couch from home," he admitted, sitting down with their lunch. He handed Xander his, getting a smile, and tucked into his own, just sitting and enjoying the silence with him for now. "So, what're you getting Aiden?"
"Not a clue. That's why I'm going to torture Eric into helping me."
"Is Aiden someone who works here?" a female voice asked. "I haven't met her yet."
"She's like my ex and no, she works in Seattle at the moment," Speed said without having to look. "Son, this is Natalia. She's the new cold case DNA tech. This is my adopted son Xander. He will play nicely most of the time." He ate another bite and watched the news coverage of something going on downtown. "Any idea if H is in the middle of that?"
Xander waved then grinned. "Hi." He looked at the tv. "Yeah, he's there, with the SWAT team," he said, pointing at him. "I should spank him for that. He's not wearing a vest."
"He's not. We can take turns," Speed agreed happily, eating another bite. "Eat, kid."
"Yes, daddy." He ate and chewed while they watched, at least until Calleigh came in and walked in front of them. "Hey! Horatio's there without a vest," he complained. She turned it back and sat down on his other side, letting him put his head on her shoulder. "Hi, stepmom."
"Hi, Xander. Did he make you a sandwich and not me?" Speed tossed over the third one he had made, earning a smile. "Thanks, Speed."
"Welcome, Cal." He finished it and nearly choked when he saw them going in. "Definitely needs spanked."
"Yup," Xander agreed, frowning some. "Borrow the paddle?"
"Nah, I don't think we'll need one. You can spank hard enough without it," Calleigh assured him, stroking through his hair. Then she grimaced. "Forget part of the shower?"
"Ah." She wiped her hand off on his shirt and he looked at her. "It's nasty, Xander."
"I've washed it twice with dish washing detergent. It was worse."
"There's always rubbing alcohol," she offered.
"True. Somehow some of my massage oil got into my conditioner." He grimaced and pulled out a ball cap, putting it on. "Better?"
"Much," she agreed, checking her shirt. No stains so she was still happy with them. The team came back out without a suspect. "Any idea where he went?"
"Up," Xander told her. "Probably the roof." He called Horatio's phone. "Try for up instead of outward running. You had it pretty well blocked off so that was his only option unless he had a sewer access, Horatio. Also, the tv's showing a glint on what looks like the sixteenth floor but I'm not sure it's not a camera too." He hung up and watched him hang up then argue with the guy in charge. They watched as someone came off the sixteenth floor with the camera. And then someone fired a shot from the roof. Thankfully not hitting anyone but one of the news vans. "Hmm, not in it for the press. So not a statement guy."
"No, if I remember right he was a robbery suspect who shot a cop during his capture yesterday," Calleigh admitted. "Why aren't they going up there?"
"He can't get down and they can't get up. It's a standoff," Speed told her. "Someone's going to hit a chopper soon." Sure enough, one of the news choppers was commandeered and he called Horatio. "All this is being covered by at least one news crew, boss. Do something outside of the range. We're watching channel five. By the way, the son and I agree we're going to kick your ass for the lack of vest." He hung up and Horatio threw another order and someone went to handle that crew and do the commandeering off- camera this time. A few minutes later the news broadcast came back and the guy was down according to reporters. They were saying no one had been injured except the gunman. He was drug down on a gurney and taken to the hospital with SWAT accompanying him. "Huh, good call, kiddo."
"Thanks, dad." He gave him a hug. "Thanks for lunch too."
"Welcome." He grinned at him. "Rethinking the profiler stuff?"
"Nope. School sucks." Speed sighed but gave him a cuddle anyway. "Sorry."
"You're not disappointing me, Xander. I promise." Xander relaxed and they settled in to watch how things were going. They had chased him there so no scene techs needed. "Ah, there's the hummer. I was wondering."
"He looks grumpy too," Calleigh offered. "He was probably out for lunch when he ran into them."
"Maybe," Speed agreed. He called his boss back. "Should I make you a sandwich?" He smiled at the grumbled complaint. "If you want me to I will. Then we'll be spanking you for not wearing a vest, H. Yeah, and he saw. We're having lunch." He smiled. "Thanks." He hung up. "He'll drive through somewhere and he didn't have it in the hummer."
"I can fix that," Xander said dryly. "That is something my damn present givers are good for." He looked at Speed. "The same as you need a new one too."
"I've got a new one."
"No you don't," Calleigh argued. "You've still got your old vest, Speed, and it's way out of date." She looked at him. "Did you clean your gun?" Speed pointed at Xander. "That's fine, as long as it gets done." Xander looked at her. "We worry."
"I know you do but that's about the sixth time he's been asked this month. It's bordering on nagging."
"Fine, I'll ease off," she promised.
"Thank you. Especially since his is a piece of crap anyway," Xander admitted, going back to his cuddle.
"They're not great guns," she agreed.
Xander snorted. "Great or not, I've had to replace his firing pin already." She moaned at that. "Simple cleaning was bending it. It's a piece of crap, Calleigh. He can use one of mine and register it as his."
"Sure. We'll go over the collection tonight." Xander gave her a look. "I think I know a bit more about guns than you, stepson," she said, pulling rank.
He grinned. "I'm giving him one that's used for combat situations and I've used for combat situations." She gaped. "You can check me on it if you want, Calleigh."
"I will be. Where is it?"
"In the glovebox." She patted him down and took the keys. "The one in the holster," he called after her. "The other's for under my seat but I needed more ammo and I couldn't remember which clip it used." She nodded and went to get it for him. He looked at Speed and grinned. "Because if you get shot again, I'm going to fuss," he said quietly. Speed nodded and kissed him on top of the cap. "Thanks, dad."
"You're looking out for me and I appreciate that," he assured him. Calleigh came back with the guns, both of them. "Needed to check the other one?"
"It's dirty?" she demanded, looking at Xander.
"Maybe that's why the engine sucks today," Xander offered, checking the clip. "No, that's the stupid dust problem I've got in the basement. It's not dirty." He opened the breach and let her see. "See, green fuzzy dust. Not black and gray dust."
"Yeah, going to fix that as well." He closed it and handed it back. "Because I don't feel like getting shot today."
"Sure." She looked at the other one, nodding in appreciation. "This is a nice gun."
"Thank you," Xander said proudly. "I've carried it a hell of a lot over the years since I bought it from a pawn shop."
"I'll make sure it's not listed as stolen," she promised, going to do that. She came back with a smile. "It's not." She handed it to Speed. "I even loaded it for you."
"Thanks," he said, shifting so he could switch the holsters out. "This is a bit heavier."
"It also aims more like you stand," she assured him. "Your last one was a bit off to the left. This one's not."
"That one's my favorite," Xander agreed. He helped him fasten the holster on then gave him a cuddle and a grin when Horatio came in. "Giving him a better gun."
"His old firing pin got bent when I cleaned it," he said dryly. "He's carrying a POS gun, Horatio. This one's the one I used to carry all the time."
"May I?" he asked. Speed pulled it and handed it over. He looked it over, checking for cleanliness as a habit, then aim. "This is a nice gun, Xander. Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. I got the new model on order." Horatio smiled and handed it back, watching as Speed hitched it back into the holster. "So, anyway, dear, your vest?"
"Here," he admitted. He sipped his new cup of coffee. "Sometimes that happens."
Xander got up and checked his shirt's tag then smiled sweetly and patted him. "I can fix that for you." He took his gun and Calleigh, walking her back downstairs so he wouldn't get hurt for having a gun in the building. Even then he still got some funny looks. "She wanted to see." He took his keys back and slid into his car, heading for the shop he needed. He knew exactly where to get Horatio a better vest. The police ones were nice, but a bit bulkier than he liked. He walked into the spy/special agent/things hidden behind the counter shop he liked and the guy there smiled at him and pulled out his gun. "Cool. I gave Daddy my last one since his was a POS." He put his one from the car onto the counter. "How do I fix the green fuzzies? It's only this one so far."
He looked then hummed. "Not pretty."
"No and I'm trying nip it in the bud now."
"Damp rid. Big buckets of the stuff," he ordered. "Plus a dehumidifier."
"I can do that too. It'll probably help the other stuff." He made notes of that and put down his debit card for his new gun, getting a smile and it boxed up once the sale rang through. "Okay," he said, glancing around, "got one small issue. Horatio, daddy's boss, his vest." The man shuddered. "I like the PD vests, they're safe, but they're bulky and his has a tendency of not being there when he needs it. I need to get him one for his hummer just in case. I want it combat rated for field maneuvers if you can. We're talking deployment worthy."
The guy considered it. "What size is he?"
"Shirt size was thirty-eight tall."
"I... I may have something. It won't do artillery.... Well... Hold on." He went into the back room and came out with a box. "It's a size too big."
"It'll fit over his jacket then," he assured him. He looked at the specs, then smiled. "This is what they're using?"
"Some. It's fairly new. It's good up to artillery. Now, if we're talking can take on a tank... That's mythical." Xander gave him a look and put three thing down on the counter from his pocket, making him drool. "Mythical but findable." He went into the back and came out with a black box. "This is Special Forces only." Xander looked at it and smiled. "It'll fit under his jacket, under his shirt if he has to." Xander checked the size and smiled, nodding a bit. "Still a bit big."
"It'll work." He smiled at him. "What about coverings?"
"It's got a Police sticker in there for him." That got a grin and Xander nodded at the three gems, getting a nod. "Want it delivered?"
"Nah, that might raise suspicion. He knows he's getting it. I caught him in something not wearing one." The guy laughed and took back the other one. Xander picked up his things. "Thank you, Raul."
"You're welcome, kid. Remember that other stuff I told you about."
"Heading to Lowes right now."
"Good boy." Xander smiled and walked out, holding the vest carefully, the guns in the bag. He checked the gems and nodded. "That was a sweet price. More than I paid for it definitely."
Xander went back to the station and walked blatantly up to the office after signing in, handing Horatio the box. "Put it in the hummer. Along with this," he said, handing over his personal first aid kit. "Just in case." Then he walked out and went to Lowes.
Horatio looked in the first aid kit, smiling at what it was. "That's very thoughtful of him."
Speed looked then nodded. "His hunting kit. Willow's is more extensive but his is sometimes more practical." He looked at the box, then at him. "Next time, wear one."
Horatio stood up and pulled out the vest, looking at it. It was the same size as his other one. It was thinner. He read the enclosed pamphlet and his eyes nearly bulged. He bundled it back up and it would be going into his hummer the next time he headed down to it. "I'll have to thank him later."
"We needed a new vest?" Eric asked.
"He wasn't wearing one and Xander caught him not wearing one," Calleigh told him with a sweet smile. "They were talking about spanking him."
"Thankfully he decided on being practical," Speed agreed. "He hits really hard from what I understand." He looked at Horatio, who nodded a bit to acknowledge he was right. "The hummer?"
"After the meeting."
"Now. We can wait." Horatio went to put it in there and he shook his head, leaning back some. "At least now he'll be safe."
"Was that the new special forces body armor? I couldn't see the literature with the way he was holding it toward you." Calleigh asked. Speed nodded. "Well, it'll do then."
"It definitely will," Ryan agreed. "Isn't that illegal to own though?"
"Possibly," Speed agreed. "Not like I care. Anyone gonna turn him in?" No one said anything. "Good. Next point?"
"New gun?" Eric asked. Speed sighed and handed it over. "This is nice."
"That was Xander's gun for patrols," Speed said quietly. It got handed back and he slid it back into the holster and locked it down. "He said mine was a POS with a bent firing pin."
"It was," Calleigh assured him. "Eric, yours should probably be changed soon."
"I had the gun shop do it last month," he admitted. She smiled at that and Horatio came back in. "He's got a nice gun."
"I saw. Xander took very good care of it while he was in Sunnydale." He sat down again. "Okay, onto the next point. Lab protocol updates from the Feds." He handed out the packets and got to work going over them with them. Not that they weren't less strict than his, but they had to look like they were playing nicely when the interview and investigative teams came in for evaluations.
Xander snuck off the plane and looked around then got his rental car from the airport. No one knew he had snuck back to see Lady Heather. It wasn't like he'd get into trouble. Horatio was at home tonight. Speed was out with Calleigh on a date, and there wasn't a soccer match tonight. His dog had plenty of food and he'd be flying back in plenty of time to get back to his client the next night. He parked once he got to her place and headed inside, winking at her secretary. He walked into her office and gave her a strong hug, kissing her on the temple. "Because you needed it."
"Thank you, Tim," she said gently, stroking his arm. "He did get what he deserved."
"Yeah, but it wasn't long enough."
"No, it wasn't, but I was told it was a horrible end."
"Good." He kissed her temple again then looked at her. "You needed a hug. Everyone needs a hug now and then." He grinned. "Now I'm going to go molest my Greggy." He went to his place and found him off duty with a sprained ankle. He had called pouting about it earlier. He let himself in and made Greg squeak and reach for his gun, but Greg dropped it when he saw him. "My poor boy," he cooed, coming over to cuddle and pounce him.
Greg soaked up the attention like the needy guy he was. It was good for him. Even if it was only for a night this time.
Greg walked into work the next night, looking at Grissom. "I knew it wasn't Xander's fault." Grissom gave him a horrified look. "He came to help Lady Heather last night and baby me then left at nine this morning," he said happily. "Not a single problem." He went to clock in and get his things out of his locker.
Grissom looked at his back. "Why did he come to see Lady Heather?"
"She needed a hug. The guy who killed her daughter died."
"Is she all right?"
"Smiling," Greg said proudly. "He pounced her for another hug and tucked her in before he left," he said with a slight grin. "He swore up and down if he had a daughter she was going to follow her lead and be the best domme ever." He made it into the locker room and got into his locker, smiling at the card and flower in there. "Awww. Who stuck that in here?" he called.
"What?" Grissom called back.
"The white rose."
Grissom hurried in and moved him gently out of the way to look at it and the card. "That's not a good thing, Greg."
"Okay. Not from the studly one with the whip?"
"No, it's not." He carefully put on some gloves and extracted it, looking at it more closely. "Go sit in the breakroom, Greg. Get Nick in here."
"Sure." He went that way. "NICK!" He came out of DNA. "Gris wants you in the locker room about the white rose and card in my locker." He hurried that way. "And I wanna know what's going on!" he called after him. "Geez, and it was such a great night last night too." Warrick gave him an odd look. "Master Tim came in to commiserate with Lady Heather last night then flew home this morning."
"So you had a good night?" he teased.
"Yeah and then I came in to a white rose in my locker. What's up with that?"
"Not a clue," he admitted, going to check and see if they needed help. "Is this something Greg and the rest of us can know too?"
"A few years back, right after we got you and Nick, there was a sniper who sent his next victim a white rose and a card. It always showed up in the oddest places," Grissom offered. He looked over. "He stopped suddenly, we figured he either died or got caught by someone else because he never left any clues."
Greg leaned in. "Xander got me a new vest, Grissom."
"What type?" Nick asked.
"Special Forces mission quality." They all stared at him. "What? My baby takes good care of me."
"Those aren't allowed for public use," Grissom said, thinking about it. "I never heard that."
"Me either," Nick agreed.
"Works for me," Warrick agreed. "If it's better, let me know how much he paid and where so I can get one."
"A lot and a hidden contact," he admitted. He shrugged and flicked his chest, letting it ring. "I wore it in tonight to break it in." Grissom smiled. "So, what's going on?"
"Sniper. Remember when you first got here?" Nick asked, looking over at him. "That's really thin, I can't tell." Greg came in and let him check it for him. "I like that. Define expensive."
"Like ten grand expensive," he admitted. Nick just nodded at that and got back to his fingerprint lifting. "You should probably find Hodges' and Bobby's in there. They both got into it recently to get stuff out."
"That's fine," Nick agreed. "Remember that sniper we had when you first got here? The one who wasn't leaving anything?"
"Yeah. Kinda. I remember he was going to hit you."
"Then he disappeared," Nick agreed. "Looks like you've got a fan however."
"Charming. Well, if I get injured, I'll be babied." He walked off shaking his head. "Check my case, guys."
Warrick pulled it out to check inside it, just in case it had something nasty waiting for him. Like the baby snake that popped up and tried to bite him. "Whoa!"
Grissom caught it and looked at it. "Baby king cobra," he said in appreciation, going to put it into a glass cage in his office for now. Snakes weren't his thing but that was a nice one.
Nick and Warrick shared a look and Warrick went to find Brass so he'd know too. Because this was not going to be making anyone happy until they caught the guy.
Speed looked out at the Fed striding up the halls. "What's going on now?" he called. The Treasury agent backtracked and came in, closing the door to that lab. "Ah, the checks?"
"No," he said, putting down something else. "This got faxed to my office earlier."
Speed looked at the bagged note then at him. "Xander's at home."
"I know he is. I've already sent someone to watch him." He frowned a bit. "The fax came from the same area that the will he was angsting over came from." Speed shuddered. "I don't know if it's another member of the same clan or whatever. I have no clue."
"Horatio's out on a case," he admitted, considering it. "Who do you have on him?"
"Do they *know* him?" he asked.
"I don't know," he admitted. "Rumors state one should at least know his rep if not him personally."
"Good. That'll work. I know he had a client coming in tonight. Okay." He considered it. "He has security from his grandfather."
"I don't think they're going to be enough this time, Speedle."
"Most of them are former cops."
"I know. I checked when a third payment was flagged with his name on it. I flagged anything for him so we could see if it came from the same source as those two checks. Before you ask, the third one didn't." Speed grimaced. "It came from Vancouver for some reason." He shrugged and leaned his hands on a clear spot on the table. "We need to figure this out."
"His grandfather said that some members of the family are gifted for about four years after they find a true mate," he said quietly. "I don't know why. He said he got it too."
"Which is fine, if frustrating, but this has now turned dangerous."
Speed nodded. "Go wait in the breakroom for me. Let me finish this and then we'll have a short meeting about this." That got a nod and he took the baggie with the threat with him. Speed called Eric. "Call Calleigh and Ryan, we've got to meet with Agent Elliot. Someone just faxed him a threat to Xander. H is out on a call. I'm mid-test. I'll call Gordon if she doesn't." He hung up before Eric could protest and got back to work as fast as he could.
Eric hung up and looked at his phone then at Horatio. "Apparently we've got to have a meeting with Agent Elliot?" he asked. "Something about a faxed threat to Xander?"
"Interesting. I hadn't heard anything about that yet," he admitted. He frowned and called the station. "Put Agent Elliot on please." He listened then smiled when the man answered from ballistics. "Agent Elliot, Horatio Caine. What threat?" He listened as it was read off and Calleigh went back to muttering to a gun she was working on. "We're on a scene at the moment. Tell them we'll be back in about an hour. Tell him to get Thomas or someone from his grandfather down as well. What steps have been taken?" He nodded at that. "Sensible. Thank you. I'll be back as soon as we can." He hung up. "He's got agents watching him."
"Good!" Eric agreed. "A serious threat?"
"Very. He thinks it's from the same family that did the will and the first kidnaping out of Las Vegas." He got back to work, frowning while he thought. Eric came over and gave him a nudge so he let him have what he was doing and headed back sooner with what they already had. He walked in and found Thomas waiting on him in the lobby. "Sign him in," he ordered. She handed over the visitor's badge and went to log in evidence first, nodding Thomas to wait in the break area while he did that. He came back a few minutes later and found Alexx in there chatting with him about something and Agent Elliot waiting patiently, chatting with Calleigh and Speed. "Updates?" he asked.
"Mine's leading back to a bastard who's in jail already," Speed admitted. "He wasn't when it happened but he's in right now. He's out at State already, I'll head out to talk to him tomorrow."
Calleigh smiled and nodded. "Ballistics matches back to something he owned as well, Horatio. My other ballistics case for you came up empty, I'm sorry."
"Not your fault, Calleigh. I know you tried." She nodded. "Thomas?"
"I've already upped his guards to two. Patrick is *livid*, Horatio. Sire is ranting up in New York. He even made Tara swear over this one." That got a small smile. "She called Don to rant at him and swore at him too. Don's throwing a fit and Danny's trying to calm him down. We're not sure if it's worked yet or not. Sire wanted to eat him. Anyone mind?"
"No, but if he has more information...." The file got handed over and he smiled. "Thank you, Thomas. You do make our job much easier." He looked it over and took the threat to look over as well. "Interesting. Same family." He sat down to look at it then at the Fed, handing it over to him. "I've got to call two people."
"I called Greg and Lady Heather," Speed assured him. "Faxed copies of the threat and assured them we've put more guards on the son. Lady Heather was promising he could come back out and stay with her if he needed to. It seems he snuck out there the other night to give her a hug," he said with a small smirk. "Then babied Greg's twisted ankle before coming back."
"I heard about his ankle and they called," Horatio admitted with a small smile. That got a smirk back. "I also heard from Grissom that Greg might have to be sent down for his own safety but not why."
"He's got a sniper after him," Speed told him. Horatio growled. "Left a white rose, a card, and a baby king cobra in his locker. The snake was in his scene kit." The growl got just a bit louder. "Apparently he slipped off the radar for a few years and came back. His last target was Nick but he hasn't come after him again. They were never sure if he was a contract assassin or not. The Feds out there are less cooperative than ours are. Especially after that one issue with the one who stole from Xander and Lady Heather. They didn't even want to help them with any information since they now hate Greg."
"Interesting," Horatio said blandly. "He's more than welcome to come down and be protected by Xander," he assured him.
"I told him that," Speed promised. "He sounded like he grinned. He wanted to meet the dog."
Horatio cracked a small smile at that. "He and Thumper will probably have a lot of fun together but I am fixing that dog soon." Thomas snickered at that. He looked at him. "I am."
"Please do. Sire was most upset that it tried to hump his ear that last night it was at the house."
Horatio nodded. "I would be as well." He looked at Agent Elliot. "Can you add to that?"
"I can't figure out how they got this much information." He looked at Thomas. "Covert agents? Someone undercover?"
"We did a thorough check when they first came after Xander. Especially with the clauses in the will. We also did a very firm family chart on them so we wouldn't miss a female relative."
"Why?" he asked cautiously.
"They took semen and were going to create a daughter for a second generation of Xander fun," Calleigh told him. "The will hinged on there being a child or not." She looked at Speed. "Not, right?" He nodded quickly. "Good. You're too young to be a grandfather."
Speed looked at her and smirked. "That's not the only way. We're waiting to see if Anya had the other tube." Horatio stiffened. "Aiden's checking since she and Rupert get along better, H. We'll know within a week." Horatio nodded at that. "If so, it might be a tougher sell to get the baby away from her."
Calleigh snorted. "The girls' a ho, Speed. I asked Willow to check on her when she was muttering about her causing problems. She had twelve boys last month. She averages that a month right now." He nodded, looking like that was normal. "I don't think many judges will give the baby to a mother like that."
"She doesn't charge." Calleigh gaped in horror. "She'll beg for presents but she doesn't charge. Also, most judges will look at Xander's career and will decide it's about the same, only more violent. They have some idiot judges out in Sunnydale. He'd have to file out here to have any chance of custody and they'd have to refer it back to a court out there since that's where the child was living. Unless we found out it is and then someone bought Anya off?" he suggested, looking at Thomas.
"Sire was thinking that might be the easiest way," he admitted. "He's authorized Oz to help Aiden collect the sample. They had to do a bit of minor kidnaping to make sure the child was safe. Apparently they're having another bad moment in town and she was nearly killed a few days back."
She shuddered. "I hate where you ended up."
"I hated where I ended up but I got some great things out of it," he reminded her with a small grin. "The best being the son."
"I do like my stepson," she agreed, taking his hand to hold. Horatio smiled at her. "I do. He's a neat little gun freak."
"He is," he agreed. "I won't tell him you called him that though."
She smiled brightly. "He called himself that last week." She looked at the Fed next to her and took the folder from him. "Have you met Xander?"
"After all the trips he had to take for his former wife's estates. I checked for counterfeit bills and helped with the release of the gold." He looked at Speed. "What do we have planned for this?"
"I don't know," he admitted, looking at Thomas again. "Do they have a concrete plan?"
"Sire wanted to eat them," he said again, shrugging a bit. "He said Xander might mind."
"He might not mind," Horatio admitted. Eric and Ryan walked in with Xander between them. "I know you were busy tonight."
"Not really. I'm on dinner break. What's going on?" Calleigh handed over the folder, including the note. "Uh-huh." He sat down to look it over, resting slightly against Horatio's side. He looked at the Fed. "Same source as the checks or same source as the will?"
"The will. The checks came from a different country, that's all we can tell. The third one you'll be getting soon came from Vancouver and a totally different source, I'm not sure why yet."
"I am. Someone made a sexbot of me," he said grimly. "It's very realistic and they're paying me for use of the image. Mom said so." He got down to it, then handed it to Speed before looking at Thomas. "Where is Sire?"
"There. Or he will be shortly, Xander."
Xander considered it. "I know you're former Special Forces, Thomas. I know you know my background. Strike team?"
"Sire wanted to eat them."
Xander seriously considered it then looked at him. "If it does happen, I don't want to know."
"I can tell him that," he promised. "Horatio?"
"I would rather have it handled legally."
"He said there's a restraining order in place," Xander reminded him.
Thomas called someone. "Rolph, Thomas. Xander reminded me there's a restraining order against them coming anywhere near him." He listened then nodded. "Thank you. He said he didn't want to hear if it came down to that to protect him. No, by the look on his face he understands and agrees, but he didn't want the details. Thank you." He hung up. "They'll try the restraining order first, guys." Horatio and the Fed both nodded at that. "He'll respect it if it comes down to that to save your life," he promised.
"Are we serious?" Agent Elliot asked.
Thomas looked at him. "I know you're more than high enough to know who Patrick Benis is."
"I do and what he is. I did a deeper background on Mr. Harris after the problems that got suddenly stopped with the estate sale." Xander gave him a curious look. "Someone protested."
"Yeah, someone protested Greg's too. Said it was her sister but she didn't have any family. I know they got asked to prove it in open court and they refused so the judge threw it out."
"Basically," Elliot said, looking at him. "Then they got countersued but they disappeared so it was dropped."
Xander shrugged. "Stopped the stupidity. It was probably another student of hers." He looked at Thomas. "For the record, no. My safety is important enough that I'll bend if it *must* happen." That got a nod and a smile. "Just not for any old annoyance, like the guy who was ten feet up from my gate this morning and tried to ticket me for pulling out to go pick up groceries." He handed that to Horatio. "I called in and had another officer come out to check his radar since there's no way I can come out of my gate at over twenty miles an hour. It's too sharp of a corner." Horatio nodded at that. "The second officer said it was a faulty radar gun and that the guy wasn't wearing the proper uniform, but he took off suddenly. He warned me then headed after him. On the back is both car numbers and the names I saw on the badges plus descriptions."
"Thank you, Xander." He put it into his shirt pocket and looked at him. "Were they threatening?"
"Sneering. The usual reasons but they decided I'm sleeping with you and dad."
"I'll see what can be done about them," he promised, giving him a small smile. Xander grinned back. "Good job."
"Thank you. Now, what about Greg's assassin?" he asked, then looked at Thomas. "I know he's a contract guy." Everyone looked stunned. "I've got her little black book, guys. I thought I handed that over too." Speed snickered at that. "I can go copy another version and send it out to Grissom or hand it to Daddy and Horatio if you want," he offered, smiling at Speed. "But I know I handed it to the Feds."
"I remember that being on the list," he agreed. "We'll get copies and send it out to Grissom tonight, kiddo." Xander beamed. "Greg will be fine."
"I got him the same sort of vest," he said. "He'll be protected or I'm going bitch on the world." He looked at Thomas. "I know you've got someone out there."
"We do have one guy and he likes Greg. Thinks he's a neat guy. He thinks you two are very cute together when you go out to play, Xander." Xander smiled at that, then got up and ran out to hug his grandfather. He smiled. "Father," he said respectfully.
"Thomas." He patted him on the cheek. "Horatio. Do we have any plans yet?" Xander put him into his seat and snuggled in beside his father. He looked at the person he didn't really know. "Agent Elliot. Thank you for guarding him earlier."
"Not a problem, sir. Things like that shouldn't happen to nice young men."
"Good boy." He smiled at him. "Xander?" Xander looked at him. "Greg is very well protected."
"I know. I got him a new vest." That got a smile. "We'll copy her little black book tonight and send it out to Grissom since the Feds I gave it to weren't sharing."
"I'll make sure he got a full information packet since it also had a client list," Horatio promised. That got a smile from his boyfriend. He looked at Patrick. "Xander did remind us that there is a restraining order in place, Patrick."
"I know. We're trying that first."
"I'm a practical man, Grandfather, but I don't want to know if it's that serious," Xander said calmly. That got a nod and an understanding look. "I know it has to happen now and then."
"Good boy." He got beamed at. "It is very practical, Grandson. I do come bearing news from Anya's tests. They're inconclusive." Horatio stared in shock. "The same blood type but the DNA test was off somehow." He pulled out his briefcase and handed over a vial. "That's the spare sample."
"Is that because of what Anya was?" Xander asked. "I have no idea if that can warp it or not."
"It could be," Eric admitted. He took it. "Amniotic fluid?" Patrick nodded. "Let me go run that. Someone take a cheek swab from Xander." Calleigh found a swab and did that, following him to help. "A baby Xander?" he teased.
"If it's a girl she'll follow in Lady Heather's footsteps," she agreed happily. "He's promised her as a protege."
Eric snickered. "I can just see a little leather catsuited baby wandering around with a miniature riding crop." She giggled at that image too. Speed came in and looked at something, adjusting one test. "Why?"
"Hellmouth taint. The same reason mine's a bit off," he admitted, looking at him. "I know you ran one when I first showed up." That got an understanding look and Eric added a few extra steps to the process to weed out the 'radiation' that had tainted Speed's sample. He looked at Calleigh. "He really doesn't want kids yet."
"Imagine a little leather catsuited baby with a miniature riding crop," she teased. "Wandering around cooing at his clients."
He cracked a smile and shook his head as he walked out. "They want to get the baby leather."
Horatio looked at him. "The baby can start wearing leather when he or she is potty trained, not while they're in diapers, Speed."
"Sure, H." He sat down beside Xander again, giving him a hug. "We'll know soon."
"Good." He looked at his grandfather. "I know you want one...."
"I do but you're not ready yet," he agreed, smiling at him. "I would be more than happy to have the baby taken from Anya and appoint him or her a stepmother. That way you and Horatio weren't doing it by yourself all the time and she couldn't be involved." Xander relaxed at that. "What happened to you will not taint the baby, Xander." He smiled at that. "We'll see what we can do." Xander nodded at that and he relaxed again. "If not, could I convince you to go to a surrogate?"
Xander shrugged. "Talk to Horatio about it and then come to me with the options he likes or reasons he's throwing a fit."
"I can do that," he promised, smiling at Horatio. Who shrugged. "Anya would've taken the sample somehow from the person who drew it."
"I figured she would have since I know she's not been out here since he moved." He looked at Xander, then at Patrick. "We'll talk about this as a family at a later date."
"Of course, Horatio. How are Yelina and Ray?"
Horatio stiffened a bit. "I'm still trying to figure out how he is," he admitted. "She's being cranky this week."
"It's understandable," he promised, giving him a pat on the hand. Eric came back shaking his head. "No?"
"Nope. Oz's. We got a sample off Willow. It was in the system and Calleigh ran it."
"Immigration takes DNA?" Xander asked.
"I don't know, it said it got put in through a special program."
"Ah, the Initiative bastards strike again," he said blandly. He shook his head. "Well, Oz will be happy. He might say a whole paragraph instead of a sentence this time too."
Horatio looked at him. "He'll rant mentally and then say the last few things he weeds it down to," he assured him. He looked at Patrick. "We'll talk."
"Thank you, Horatio. I do worry about my legacy being passed on."
"I know. That's why we'll all talk." He nodded at that and smiled. "Thank you for not being totally pushy."
"It's good, Granddad, we know and understand," Xander promised, smiling at him. Thomas' phone rang. "Tara or Grandsire?"
"Grandsire." He answered it. "Yes, Sire?" He smiled and listened, then nodded. "Thank you, Sire." He hung up. "The judge did uphold the restraining order and did order them to desist, sicced the local police onto them for it. We'll keep you guys updated but they did have hints that he hired someone to do it for them, Xander," he said, standing up. "So we'll keep your two guards on you." Agent Elliot nodded at that. "As soon as we can figure out who we'll tell the guards you have on him. They said it was due to be pulled tomorrow."
"We can continue to help guard him that long," he agreed. "Thank you." He shook his hand. "Anything on the checks he got?"
"Everything we had we sent to you," Speed promised.
"The one in Vancouver was image leasing rights," Xander repeated.
"For?" Patrick asked.
Xander looked at him. "Someone made a Buffy sexbot." He shuddered at that. "They decided they needed a male one so they made one of me as well." His grandfather looked horrified at that. "That was from the person who bought it to use my face and voice. I heard he got it pretty exact and I told him if it got released into public knowledge I'd sue him. He agreed it's for private use only with him and his wife but it's not a dom." His grandfather whimpered so he got up to hug him. "It's all right, Grandfather. Someone thought my butt was cute," he teased, grinning at him.
He stroked his cheek. "That is still a horrible thought, Grandson. What if someone steals it?"
"Then they'd better pay my ass to use it too," he said dryly. "Or else I'll sue their asses for invading my robo-butt." That got a hint of a smile. "The guy who bought it is a programmer."
"Ah." He walked out on Thomas's arm, mentally telling himself not to throw a fit. He looked at his head guard. "That is still a horrible idea."
"It is," he agreed. "At least he won't be having open sex parties to show it off, Father." He helped him into the car and got into his own to follow him back to the house. He knew he'd be researching this person later.
Horatio looked at him. "Robot?"
"Fully functional, responsive, can't really tell the difference except a small lag between orders and actions," Ryan told him. "Willow saw the prototype Buffy bot." Horatio shuddered and Speed whimpered. "She thought it was a great leap forward in robotics."
"It might be but it's a horrible thought, Mr. Wolfe." Ryan shrugged because he knew he didn't do it. "How did this person learn about the robot, Xander?"
"Online. They're no longer offering my face and image, they've went with a more generic one and toned down my mannerisms and skills. He thinks he can program in individual traits for future buyers." He shifted and crossed his legs. "I did point out that if he ever had to scrap it I was to know immediately and if it was ever taken I was to be told immediately as well. He agreed that was reasonable and paid me the really high licensing fee I demanded. Then I kinda sicced Oz on the designer as a favor."
Horatio nodded. "At least there won't be any more."
"He didn't even program it as a dom, Horatio. Just a bottom slut." He grinned. "I asked."
"Good to know," he said, clenching his hands together. "Agent Elliot, thank you for bringing this to our attention."
"Not a problem, Caine. Working with you is always easier, especially when it's family." He stood up and shook everyone's hands. "Let me know the next time you need my help."
Xander smiled a warm and friendly smile. "Of course we will. Who else sees these things coming and warns me when I need migraine medicine." That got a smile and he walked out feeling very useful and happy. He looked around. "Okay, I've got a client in a half- hour, but I'll be free after ten." He stood up and kissed Horatio on the forehead. "I'll see you soon. You guys too. Daddy, lunch Sunday?"
"Lunch Saturday. Lunch Sunday is her and her dad."
"Okay." He shrugged and walked out, heading home with his grandfather's guards tailing him.
Horatio looked at the others, who were all shuddering in horror at the idea of sex robots. He looked at Ryan. "How realistic?"
"She couldn't tell it wasn't Buffy for a few minutes," he admitted. "He didn't get much past the geeky facade Xander had back there. It was another Sunnydale resident." Speed moaned. "Someone named Jonathan?"
Speed just snorted and shook his head. "Evil genius wanna be." He stood up and pulled Calleigh up from the too-soft couch. "Okay, so we have information and a plan, right?" Everyone nodded. "Then we're going to go eat." Horatio nodded and the others trailed out, leaving them alone. "Say something if the idea of a kid bothers you," he said quietly.
"It doesn't," he admitted, looking at him. "I'm still trying to talk to Yelina about Ray."
"I know, Horatio. I knew before I came back. She asked me once if I was really on special assignment and I told her to keep that in mind for a later case." He walked out, heading home on his bike. It was a good night for a ride.
Horatio went to find Yelina, finding her and Ray Junior at home. "Can we speak?" he asked when she answered the door.
"Is there a problem?"
"Yes." She let him into the backyard after he hugged his nephew. She also closed the door. He glanced around then at her. "While we were in the hospital in New York," he said quietly, "someone came up to us about Ray."
"No." She stiffened and drew in a breath through her nose. "He..." He shifted and looked around then back at her. "Speed said he told you once to keep the story we used for him in mind?" he asked very quietly. She nodded once. "For some it was the truth. As I just found out."
"You've been back over a week," she noted.
"I had no idea how to tell you, Yelina."
She slumped and glared at him. "So he's alive?" He nodded slightly. "Where?"
"He may be on his way back down here," he offered. "I told him to let me tell you first. That way you had time to find a baseball bat and keep Ray Junior from beating him."
She smirked at that. "I get him first."
"Of course. I'm sure if you needed to, Xander would let you borrow something." She cracked a brighter smile at that. "His assignment is over and I'm told he's been clean for ten months," he said very quietly. "I haven't done more than warned him that he was going to die when he came down and ordered him to let me tell you."
She looked inside then at him again. "I can't go through that again, Horatio. He shouldn't."
"That is up to you. You are his mother and it is up to you to make sure they don't meet. However, I'm not so sure they haven't. Did you buy Ray a shirt from his father's baseball team?"
She looked at her son then groaned. "I hadn't realized that." They went back inside. Her son looked at her. "You saw him?"
"He came up to me in the mall the other night and I nearly killed him. Mall security pulled me off him and I said he was my dirtbag missing father and I had the right to kill him. He got me out of there without being arrested and we went to talk. He's at some flop house somewhere after I stabbed him in the arm." He ate another bite of dinner. "He explained everything to me and let me stab him too. I told him not to come back but the shirt showed up in the mail today so I'm breaking it in." He looked at Horatio. "Did you know?"
"I first found out in the hospital, Ray. They said his assignment was over with and they were turning him free. I advised him to run before your mother killed him."
"I will be now," she vowed. "Do you really think Xander would let me borrow something?"
"I do," he agreed. He looked at his nephew. "Do you want to talk?"
"Can I hit him again?"
"It's quite possible," he admitted.
"Good." He grinned. "Then I'll be good as long as I get to hit him a few more times and then he goes away again." His mother gave him a look. "I don't care. The father I had died the first time he sucked on a pipe. To put it bluntly, fuck him. If you two decide to get together again, can I go live with Uncle H?"
"We'll talk about that if it does happen. Right now that's looking like a very long shot, son."
"Good." He ate another bite and looked at his uncle. "Sit and eat, Uncle Horatio. It looks like it was a long day."
"It was." He got a plate and sat down to eat and talk with them. He told them what was going on with Xander and the request for a child they were considering.
"Have one of the nice CSI you know do it for you," Ray Junior offered. "That way they'd be in the life already." Horatio smiled at that. "Besides, you'd have to find a decent stepmother, Uncle Horatio," he reasoned.
"I would," he agreed. "We'd have to agree on a few things first," he assured him. "Right now we're only in discussion, Ray." That got a smile. "You would be a good cousin?"
"I'd be the best big cousin ever and he could pay me to babysit all he wanted to." That got a smile from his mother. "He could. I'm at that age where pocket change comes in handy, mom." He finished his dinner and looked at them. "Do I have to see the sperm donor again?"
"No," she promised. "The next time you see him, refer him back to me instead. Then walk away, son."
"Can't I hit him first?"
"If you want," Horatio agreed. "As long as it won't get you arrested."
His nephew smiled and nodded. "Can I borrow some of Uncle Xander's whips or something?"
"Only if he teaches you how to use them properly, nephew," he said dryly, smirking at him.
"I'm sure he could since he taught you how to use them," Yelina offered, smirking at him.
"He did and it is very cathartic to whip the old couch in my office," he agreed. He ate a bite and smiled once he had swallowed. "Where is Rick?"
"Gone," she said, rolling her eyes. "Long gone."
"Good," her son agreed. "Can I hit him too?"
"No, that's my fun," Horatio ordered. "He always seems to be in the way whenever I'm blowing off steam with the whip in my office." His nephew cackled and patted him on the wrist. "I even sent him some of Xander's cookies in apology once. Some homemade ones he had made for the lab."
Ray giggled, leaning on the table. "Oh, that's mean!"
"It is," Horatio agreed smugly. "I find it works well as payback for how he treated your mother."
"I can agree with that." He grinned at his mom. "That way I don't have to hit him."
"I do not like this violent streak of yours, son."
"Yeah, well, sometimes people need beaten, mom."
"Not all of them."
"Only two out of the three million in Miami, mom."
"Fine." She rolled her eyes then looked at her brother-in-law. "How is Xander handling this one?"
"He said he didn't want to know if his grandsire ended up eating the people threatening him this time. Other than that, he's got a client tonight." She smiled at that. "We're handling it fairly well, Yelina. Don't worry about that."
"I won't. It's cute how you and Speed protect him. It's also very cute how he calls him daddy now and then as well."
"Tim was the first good one he knew," he said quietly.
"I realized that looking at the boy the first time."
"He wanted my opinion on what to get his mother for not being a grandmother," Ray offered, still grinning. "He said she liked sparkly things but that should be a bribe for when she's forced to own up to having a grandchild."
"He's making Eric help him or else he'll give his mother the tape of him watching naked soccer," Horatio assured him. Ray Junior gaped in awe. "The same teams that played hockey, Ray."
"Wow. Can I move to Europe? They've got neater soccer leagues than I play in."
His mother gave him a look but shook her head. "No, son. You can not go play naked soccer. Not unless you become a Chippendale dancer or something."
"I could use the work on my abs," he admitted. His mother scowled. "They get major money for shaking it on stage a few nights a month, mom. I asked Greg about that when he was teasing Xander about him doing an open pole down here to tease Uncle Horatio."
"He'd better not," Horatio said dryly.
"Xander said you might get mad and pout at him so they said they'd wait." He grinned. "Greg said that they made major bucks when I asked why anyone would want to do that. He said he got through one semester at college that way for book and beer money. Paid his tuition too." Horatio looked impressed at that. "He said he was too old now but he used to have it a lot better."
"I'll have to make him tell me about that." He sipped his water. "Did he also tell you that quite a few of them are hooked on drugs or alcohol to get by each night?" Ray nodded. "He told you about the other downfalls?"
"He said he got really scared that a few of them were going to hurt him one night. He didn't make it sound glamorous but compared to working in an office as an accountant? It's about as dangerous. He said that some of them do choose not to drink, but it's rare. Going to the Chippendales thing instead of the regular stripper route it's easier to avoid that. Xander said that normal ones have to go sell drinks too, that's why most of them drink, that and the mental issues that drove them there instead of to a real and better job. He said he thought about doing showboy stuff like the Chippendale stuff for his off-time or when he was having a bad month with his clients. Uncle Greg teased him about getting another person who wanted to own him and got spanked for it in the bathroom so I wouldn't have to watch." He sipped his milk and grinned again at the shocked look his mother had on her face. "I asked, mom. They gave me a very realistic view and didn't glamorize it any. Believe me, they didn't glam it up at all. Uncle Xander even said that leather chafes now and then and it's really hard to get comfortable in them until you've worn them the first twenty times."
"It can be," Horatio agreed. "What else did you ask them about?"
"I asked Uncle Greg about the differences in being a lab guy and being in the field. He said it was mostly seeing it all instead of the little pieces and it was like a whole puzzle for him, but it was also scary and dangerous now and then." Horatio nodded that it could be. "He said it was apparently more dangerous down here than it was back at home. He wasn't even carrying a gun most of the time. He wasn't allowed yet." He finished his milk. "Then we talked about video games for a while and he warned me women weren't like they were in the games. Especially not the slutty one he said was popular among teenage guys. He said real women were mostly like Willow. Which is kinda scary and nearly made me never date. He laughed and said it was a time honored tradition to give that sort of warning and to make sure you were careful the first time you tried to date. That way no one would expect too much from you. I asked him who he had his first date with and we talked about that and his prom night, because he said he got totally bummed out and she walked off to screw the cheerleader ho." His mother whimpered. "Then he said most girls weren't like that and she was a good reason to only date nice girls. Uncle Xander offered Anya and Cordy as another reason to only date nice girls. Then they referred me back to you to have a more blunt sex discussion since I'm at the age where things are starting to work and I'm having some loud dreams."
"I think I can handle that, son," his mother complained.
"No offense, mom, but you don't have a penis. You can't really tell me what it's like to use one." She blushed at that. "Uncle Horatio can. Uncle Greg said it was better if that one came from him since Xander got his from his father after the fact and Greg got his from people like Willow's parents with how he described them. Only they were overprotective instead of ignoring him. They said theirs were screwed up and I could come back to them for practical advice and questions about stuff after he gave me the more formal, with morals attached, sex talk." He looked at his uncle. "Since the girl I like likes me back and wants to go on a group date this weekend, not that I'm expecting anything naughty to happen or anything, but I thought it might be a good idea to have that now. At least the second step one as you put it."
"We can do that tonight," he assured him, smiling a bit. "Xander got his from Speed?"
"After he'd had Faith from what he said. He said he went to Speed the next night being very confused and they sat down to eat sandwiches and talk. He said that anniversary was coming up and to not mind the peanut butter and pixie stick sandwiches when they came because it was an important anniversary and you and Calleigh would just have to understand this year."
"I can understand him needing his father now and then, even at his age," he said, smiling at his nephew, then at his sister-in-law. "Should I wait and let you try to have one first then fill in gaps?"
"I thought I had a good one with him already," she complained.
"You did, mom. It was very... textbook." She grimaced at that description. "I went to Uncle Horatio to get a guy's eye view. Some things you won't ever be able to explain to me. Sex from your side is different, even if I did turn gay. It's not the same when you're doing it as when a gay guy is taking it. Since I don't think I am, I needed to know more about doing the guy-on-top stuff." She blushed bright red at that. "Sorry. But I do."
"You do," Horatio agreed. "I do think you're a bit young, Ray."
"I know that. Better to have it early instead to after the fact though, right? This way I'll find any other questions while I think, dream, and figure things out so I can ask them before they become pertinent. That way I don't have to face a nasty question or decision in the heat of the moment if it *happens* some year soon."
"You're nearly thirteen, son. It will be a few years," Yelina vowed.
He stared at his mother. "You do realize that there's been two girls in my class who have been kicked out of the Catholic school I'm in because they've gotten pregnant?" he asked. She shuddered. "They were with kids our age, mom. One got kicked out last year. I know I'm not ready yet, but knowing what I need and want to know now means I don't have to go to a party some night and try it to find out if I like it. The same as I know how much you hate porn. I don't care at this point in time because any urges Playboy is presently helping me wear out so I don't go out to try stupid things to see if I like them. I do hide them from you though."
"Not very well, son. They're in your closet."
"I know. But hey, not under the bed, right?"
"Your computer?" Horatio asked.
"She's got it locked from most porn sites that're registered." Horatio gave him a look. "I know, only twenty percent are registered and I've surfed a few times. I found some freaky shit so I'm almost scared to do that again. I found one woman and cow, Uncle H." He shook his head at that. "Exactly. So I'll stick with the plain, artistic, playful nudity in Playboy for now. If and when I find I want something more, I'll be a man and come talk to you guys about increased issues, like wanting to do my future girlfriend."
"I find that more reasonable," she admitted after a moment's thought. "You will not try it out without coming to talk to us first?"
"Unless I get totally jumped by a girl, I won't," he promised.
"That may be borderline rape," Horatio cautioned.
"Uncle Horatio, unless she's really a skanky ho or I'm with someone else, I'm probably not going to complain that much as long as I'm at least late fifteen." That got a look from his mother. "I'm realistic, mom. By the time I'm sixteen I'll probably be wanting it more than I do at this moment. Which is a pretty scary thought with some of the dreams I've had in the last week, but I guess it happens to all guys. I'm probably not going to want it before then, but I heard you get another major hormone surge about then and it picks up more." She nodded, sighing a bit. "So I'm being a bit realistic. Right now, I can fantasize, I can watch the Playboy channel and Cinemax or Showtime porn, and it's enough. Later on, I'll want a real woman when I'm older and more able to handle it. My body would die if I had a girl right now." She nodded that she'd be making sure of it. "So, for now, I'll figure out where I stand on things and that's helping me, but I do need to have the more involved talk from a guy's perspective. I'll still be coming to you for a lot of things but I doubt you can tell me how a girl tastes."
"I never tried one," she agreed, frowning some. "You're still too young."
"You're also going to start doing your own laundry," she said.
"I can agree to that. It's kinda icky to think about you doing them with what I've done a few times," he agreed. "That's why I did the last load, mom." She smiled at that. "That's perfectly reasonable. I don't want to think about you touching that stuff of mine."
"To me as well," she said, holding out a hand. "You will promise to come talk to us first?" He nodded, shaking her hand. "Then we'll renegotiate allowances and things within the next six months, once we figure out how much more responsible you're going to become." He grinned at that. "You will not go out alone with a girl before the age of fifteen and a half, son. Group dates are fine but you are not to do anything I would disprove of."
"Yes, mom. Not planned."
"It often isn't," Horatio warned. "It's very easy to get sucked in that first time, Ray. The same as it is with alcohol and drugs."
"Oh, there's no drugs coming near me," he promised. "Unless they do like that one girl in my class did and mix GHB and Mountain Dew. She did it for fun but they did give it to another girl in the class without warning her."
"Did her parents get her help?"
"Oh, yeah. The kids were arrested for it and got probation," he told her.
"I heard about that," Horatio admitted. "It is very easy for them to slip something into a drink on you, Ray, or to make you drink without realizing it that first time. Then it's even easier to slip something to you without you realizing it."
"And if I feel something like that going on or I suspect it, I'm calling you, Uncle Horatio. I know you'll come pick me up, get me whatever help is necessary, and help any other kids who need it without being a total asshole like mom would and busting the party."
"No, I would."
"She'd bring Vice."
"I'd bring Eric and Xander," he admitted. "Probably Speed. Voices of reason that can still arrest but won't nag or do it vindictively to all the kids." She looked at him. "Vice has a bad habit of arresting all the kids then evaluating who needed medical attention for overdoses and things. I'd evaluate first and then arrest the main people over the party and whoever drugged or fixed the liquor."
"I'd probably got in with SWAT," she admitted. "That way they'd have the fear of God again."
"Which is totally mean, mom. Especially if we were tricked into it."
"You don't need to be at those sort of parties anyway," she pointed out.
"Mom, Billy's birthday last year turned into a schnapps run." She stared in horror. "That's why I came home early." She shuddered. "Before you call them, his parents were already asleep and one kid woke them up giggling so they grounded him for the next year and his next party is chaperoned and not a sleep over." She smirked at that. "Plus they personally drove all the hung-over kids home the next morning. Before breakfast, coffee, or tylenol."
"Good choice there, nephew," Horatio praised.
"Thanks, Uncle H." He grinned. "I know it can happen. Like I said, I'm reasonable and rational about those things." That got a nod and he patted him on the head. "So, can we have that talk maybe this weekend or sometime?"
"We can have it tonight."
"I'm still writing out my list of questions."
"That's fine. We can still talk tonight and then you can bring later ones to me," he promised. "Xander's not expecting me over tonight." That got a smile and a nod, plus his nephew pulling him out to the living room, leaving his mother the dishes tonight. "We should help with that, Ray."
"Go, I'll do this so you have some privacy," she agreed. She gathered things and went to pout about her son getting too old too quickly. Even if he was realistic and realized he was a bit early.
Xander woke up the next morning and found the dog and someone staring down at him. "Who're you?" he asked sleepily.
"One of the guards, Mr. Harris. You have a Fed Ex delivery here." Xander nodded and got up, padding down there naked. He shivered and followed the dog. "Come on, Thumper, we'll get you food." The dog followed him instead. He was even nice enough to put on coffee for the poor naked boy. Xander came into the kitchen and he handed over the first cup, getting a smile. "Figured you needed to wake up more."
"Probably should." He petted his dog and headed outside, leaving the box on the table, going to do his morning laps. He finished his coffee before diving in and starting off.
The dog sniffed the box and growled. The guard came over to look, searching it. The dog continued to growl. He called his partner. "The dog is growling at this box that just got delivered. I don't know if he's trained or not," he admitted. "We should probably scan it just in case." They came in to carefully get the box and take it to be scanned at the office. Xander peeked in. "The dog growled so we took it to be scanned."
"Okay. Bring it back when it's done if you can." He went back to the pool. He was halfway through with his laps when someone came out and sat in one of the chairs next to the pool. He flipped onto his back to look at them then finished that lap before swimming over and lounging on the side of the pool. "What's up, Thomas?"
"Do you never swim with clothes on?" he asked, sounding fond.
"Not if I can help it. It feels better this way." He grinned. "New update or on the box?"
"Fed Ex brought me something from Las Vegas."
"Not that I've heard," he admitted. "I'll check in a few minutes." He leaned forward. "They managed to self destruct the family members who were involved," he said quietly. "The hit is still on however."
Xander slowly nodded. "Is this because they got them or Grandsire got them?"
"They got their own," he said honestly. "They're considering you a family curse." Xander grimaced at that. "The one who did that and another one who showed gay tendencies were both taken out by the rest of the family." Xander frowned at that. "They weren't sure and while it's a loss, it's probably the only way they considered their honor to be restored. They didn't make it painful for them like some places do with daughters who are sullied," he promised. "But it was still ended and they were removed from the family permanently, including all their records."
"I hate that it had to happen."
"So do we. Sire talked to them last night when he heard that. He said it wasn't necessary either but the family patriarch said it was and made the decision to do it that way. It was pointed out they probably would've been kicked out for being gay anyway, Xander." He nodded at that, still not looking happy. "It does suck."
"It does. So can I give them back the shit from the first will?"
"No," he said patiently. "Sire offered that and the patriarch said it'd only bring more misfortune from the curse." He leaned down more. "They are going to make sure that none of them ever see your picture, you, or the rest of the family again." Xander shrugged at that. "I know, it might be a good idea," he admitted with a small grin. "But it was handled and it was fixed."
"Should I worry about more wills?" he asked.
"I don't know. Sire didn't say anything when he updated me at six this morning." Xander nodded at that. "So you can relax some and we do have the information on who they hired. I gave it to the guard inside before I came out." Xander grinned at that. "How's your day look today? You haven't come out to play with Holly recently."
"I've got two clients this afternoon but I was going to barge in for dinner with Horatio if I could."
"I think that can be promised," he said with a smile. "Have you told him that?"
"I mentioned I'd like to go out for dinner tonight and he said that was fine with him. As long as he didn't have to stay late he'd be more than glad to come."
"Good. I'll make sure he knows he's welcome tonight." He stood up. "Now, finish up then go shower and put on clothes, Xander. Please? Before you embarrass the nice agents some more?"
"I know. This is how you are," he said fondly. "Be a good boy and I'll see you tonight." Xander nodded and dunked himself, pushing off from the wall to start again. He watched him swim for a minute, taking a few pictures for his Grandfather, then heading back inside. "He'll shower and put on clothes when he's done with his laps. He does this most mornings."
"It's his routine, I can't complain," the agent said, sounding practical. "I've had to guard full nudists in the past."
Thomas smiled. "That information got passed back?"
"It did. Do we have the only copies?"
"No, I've already dropped a copy at the crime lab." He'd be doing it on the way home instead but best to let them know now. "Plus his other lover out in Las Vegas knows already. We emailed it to him this morning."
"That's fine. The more the merrier. The box did have a small bit of explosive and blood in it. I don't know why. The letter inside was extracted once it was disarmed."
"Can I have a copy?" It was handed over and he nodded. "I'll make sure Horatio gets a copy as well. Thank you."
"He's a nice young guy, even if he does whip people for a living." He shrugged and Thomas smiled and left. He looked at the dog that came in to investigate the bowl then looked at him. "What? It's full, dog."
"He usually gets some of the chunked chicken from the canned stuff in the pantry," Xander said as he walked in. "Just open one and pour it over. He'll scarf it down." He headed up to his room, going to shower and put on clothes for the day. Jeans today he decided. He didn't need to look scary or really hot.
The agent looked at the dog. "You are incredibly spoiled." He got the canned chicken out and did as ordered. The dog dug in after a tail wag and bark, eating so fast it might've been inhaled and not chewed. Then he went to nap in the sun by the front door for a while. He smiled. For being such a little dog he was a good guard dog.
Thomas walked into the lab and looked around, spotting someone he knew. "Valera, where's everyone?"
"Meeting with the Chief," she said, smiling at him. "New information?"
"Some Horatio should know. Including that someone sent Xander a letter bomb this morning." She gave him a horrified look. "His dog apparently smelled the blood in it and growled at it. Plus I've got an update on the new threat."
"They should be done in about a half hour," she offered. "I have no idea what it's about. I know it's a field tech thing instead of a whole lab thing." She looked around then texted Calleigh. She probably had hers on. She got back an 'okay, ten more' message back. "Calleigh said ten more minutes."
"That's fine. Can I wait in the break room?"
"Sure." She walked him that way, settling him in with the tv going with a wink and a smile. Then she went back to work. Natalia looked at her. "That's the head of Xander's grandfather's guards."
"Oh. Why does he have guards?"
"His grandfather is Patrick Benis. He's really big in gay rights." That got a smile and a nod. "Apparently Xander only found out he was his grandson last year so he's very careful with Xander. Especially since people like to give Xander expensive things to woo him."
"That's interesting. Doesn't his father mind?"
"A lot. Speed growls at them." That got a small laugh. "Eric growls at them," she admitted with a smile. "Horatio growls at them. Calleigh goes to stomp on them when we find them. He's actually hired a former detective to handle those for him now. It pads his retirement fund."
"I bet. How much do you get paid for things like that?"
"Five percent of whatever Xander gets," Ryan said when he walked in. "Who's here?"
"Thomas. He's in the breakroom."
"Cool. Horatio's on his way back. Anything good?"
"Apparently Thumper can sniff bombs or something. He got sent a letter bomb this morning." Ryan moaned. "But Thumper growled so they had it scanned I guess."
"Good. I like the dog for that, even if he did try to hump my ear." He walked off a bit happier.
Horatio walked into the breakroom. "An update?" he asked, closing the door. Speed walked in and smacked him on the arm. "I thought you were heading out."
"I am, after I hear this." He looked at Thomas, who handed over the folder, the letter, and the written out note that Horatio was invited out for dinner with Xander tonight. "He and Eric are going present shopping for Aiden before then."
"That's fine. We'll have a late dinner," Thomas promised. "I'm sure I can talk Father into it." Horatio smiled at that. "He was pouting because Xander hadn't come out to play with Holly recently."
"We can do that tonight," he promised, going over the folder then handing it to Speed. "What's this new threat?"
"Came with the letter bomb. Thumper smelled part of it somehow and growled so the agents had it scanned and diffused. That was inside."
"I'll call over there later," he promised, handing it over. The invitation got put into his jacket pocket. "How is he?"
"I caught him doing laps. The agent didn't seem that flustered, said he had guarded a nudist before so the naked Xander swimming didn't bother him. He did feed the dog though." That got a smile. "I emailed that to Greg personally after Sire updated me at six."
"Thank you," Horatio said, shaking his hand. "Anything else we can do?"
"Xander asked a very pointed question about the possibility of more wills naming him." Horatio quirked an eyebrow up.
"That's not because he's being greedy, it's because they make him want to drink," Speed pointed out, looking at him. "Xander considers himself comfortably off at the moment. He has enough to cover anything that should happen, even if he can't work for a while, and to spoil his boys. He said it's flattering in a being wooed way but it's also scary and warping and he thinks he's already warped enough. He said he doesn't like it and if this keeps going at this rate he's going to start drinking soon." He grinned. "We talked late last night."
"Good. That's a good sign," Thomas agreed happily. "Would you like to come out to dinner tonight?"
"I wouldn't mind. I don't think it'll take Eric that long to help him pick out something for Aiden. Remind him later on, H. Just in case it slips his mind."
"Eric or Xander?"
"Xander. He's been thinking hard about some things and he forgot to eat dinner last night until I reminded him. Whenever he's thinking very hard or worried about things he gets stomach cramps and quits eating." That got a smile and a nod. "So, we're good?"
"We should be but Sire was upset he didn't get to eat them." That got a smile from Horatio. "I'll see you both tonight, boys." He nodded and left the information with them. He had the originals at home in his office.
Horatio looked at Speed. "Go hit your scene." He nodded, handing back the information before heading out. Horatio went up to his office to file this with the other information he had gotten off Patrick's people or Xander himself. His boss came in looking quizzical. "An update on the threat to Xander's safety," he said quietly.
"Is he all right?"
"He got sent a letter bomb this morning. His dog caught it."
"That's a good dog."
"He still needs fixed," he said dryly. "He likes to copulate with inappropriate things."
"Did he try the hummer?" he taunted.
"Speed's bike but not the hummer. Ryan Wolfe's ear." That got a laugh. "He's fine. He's got guards for the day and the originators of the situation were removed from their family last night by their family. We think the contract will be canceled by tonight and I have a dinner engagement with him."
"That's fine. Remember, we do have that budget meeting at four, Horatio."
"Yes, sir, I know."
"Good." He smiled. "I do like you with the boy, Horatio. He makes you loosen up and have some fun." That got a gracious nod. "Does his father like it?"
"He does. He said I settle Xander and make him happy."
"The rumored third?"
Horatio stared at him. "That is a more private matter, sir."
"I already heard, Horatio." He came in and closed the door. "Is that going to cause conflict? I'd hate for the lab to have to cover it up when Speedle kills you."
"He knows and thought it was odd but his boy loves us both. He's accepting now."
"Good. His people?"
"They don't seem to care if they know."
"Even better." He nodded at the filing cabinet. "How much of that is your casework?"
"It's not. I keep most of the casework on the computer or in the file room." That got a smile and a nod. "A lot of the files in there have come from Patrick's people."
"Good. It's good he's behind you. I like the guy even if I'm not gay. He's a nice man who says a lot of sweet things about his grandson socially." Horatio nodded at that. "I do want to know if you plan on moving out of this office?"
"No. I'd rather not. I would accept a raise in rank or pay, sir," he offered.
"Not with how far over budget the renovations went due to the shrines we found. I still say we should have kept it."
"Xander stuck it in Tara's closet and left it up in New York."
"Even better. Thank you, Horatio. Let me know how you plan on cutting that two percent?"
"If we'd get crime to slow down I'd gladly cut it from overtime, sir. I can't seem to make people quit killing in Miami."
"I know, Horatio. We'll figure it out." He headed out. He considered going to Patrick about that, just gossiping idly about how he was going to have to make cuts, but that would be too blatant. He didn't want to stress the old man or make him pamper Horatio. It'd look bad if a gay rights maven pampered the lab. There were still some anti-gay officers and even some in the higher ups.
Horatio sat down to look over his budget, trying to figure out how to cut his budget the important two percent. Ryan came in. "What's wrong?" he asked without having to look.
"Would still be paid leave," he said, looking at him. "It could also leave us struggling, Mr. Wolfe. Especially if we get another day like we had a few weeks back."
"True, but it would mean no overtime for whoever was off. HR is nagging about saved time at the moment as well." He handed over the memo he had gotten. He knew he wasn't the only one. "The six weeks didn't come out of our vacation time since it was part of the grant."
"That is one way," he agreed. "Two percent would still mean about a month's leave to cut enough from overtime."
"Yeah, but if I take four days and so do the others...."
"That is an idea," he agreed. He pulled up his calculator on his computer to figure out how much overtime that would cut. "We'd have to pull twenty-seven days of vacation time to make that work." He looked at him. "Speed had to start over. He's only got a week saved up."
"Okay," he said, thinking about it. "What about the techs? We can include some of those without hampering things. Including QD maybe? Maybe Cooper could use a few days off? He's looking vampire pasty according to the wife. He was complaining that he needed to take a few days off soon anyway."
"We could do that," he agreed. "We'll be having a lunch meeting, cases willing." That got a nod and he left. Horatio sat down to figure up who had what sort of leave. Eric really could use it with his sister. He paged him and Eric leaned in. "It was suggested that some of the savings could come if some of you took some paid vacation time, Eric."
"Which I could probably use," he agreed, coming in. "How many days do I have?"
"According to my records about three weeks." He looked at him. "With only three field techs with leave built up, you'd have to take more than a few days."
"But I could do that around some of her appointments and still get paid," he agreed.
"I know things are tight."
"They are," he agreed. "That wouldn't hamper things too much."
Horatio smiled. "Okay, so can I put you down for maybe four or five days?"
"I can see that, spread out over the month we've got to reduce it." Horatio smiled at that. "Was that all?"
"Mr. Wolfe needs to burn some too."
"Calleigh got the memo of doom too. Speed didn't get his old account back?" He shook his head. "Pity." He shrugged. "Anyone else who should consider it?"
"Mr. Wolfe suggested Cooper needed to take some."
"Yeah, a friend's getting married in a few weekends. I'll send him up."
"Please." Eric smiled and headed off to tell him to come up. Cooper leaned in, looking sheepish. "I know you heard the rumors."
"How much do we have to cut since this is the last month of the budget year?"
"So, if I wanted to take, say, two days on either side of my buddy's wedding it wouldn't be so bad?"
"Were you staying close by?"
"Orlando. He's being married on a coaster at Paramount."
Horatio smiled a bit at that. "That's fine. How about we schedule you a day on either side, just in case cases get in the way? Then you plan on taking another few some other time?"
"Thursday, Friday, and Monday?"
Horatio nodded. "I can see that." Cooper handed him the papers, getting a smile. "Thank you."
"Welcome, boss. Did Speed get to keep his old ones?" Horatio shook his head. "Pity since he had billions of leave hours built up because the guy didn't take any in seven years." He winked and walked out. "Thanks, boss."
"Welcome, Cooper." He called HR. "This is Horatio Caine. I need to check on some leave hours for my people. Please. Email would be fine. I'd also like to clarify what Timothy Speedle has built up. Thank you." He hung up and waited on the email. He got one from the head of HR about Speed's old leave hours and made a reasonable argument for them. After all, they hadn't paid his pension out either. That had all been put on hold in the system for some reason. Probably Willow as he was finding out. He got back an email with hours listed in each category and smiled at that. It did include Speed's old hours. He emailed her to make sure and she said it was an order from on high. She had checked. He sent back a thank you and printed that out, bringing it and the forms for leave to the lunch meeting with his crew. He walked in and found everyone but Speed and Alexx in there already eating. "Thank you for attending. As you know, the Chief said we've went over projections yet again this year."
"Two percent isn't as bad as it was a few years back," Calleigh reminded him. "The year Speed...disappeared we went over by nearly fifteen."
"We did. It was suggested that those who got the HR memos could solve a few issues at once. We could take the meager two percent from the overtime budget." That got some nods. "Now, I do have printouts of what everyone has." Speed walked in. "Alexx?"
"Doing the autopsy. Hers comes out of the ME budget instead of ours." He grabbed his lunch and sat down, looking at the sandwich after the first bite, then he checked the date on his watch. "Do I have call this weekend?"
"That's one of the things we were going to discuss," Horatio admitted. He handed him the sheet. "I had them check your hours, Speed. Since they didn't fully take you out of the system after you disappeared, you still have your old ones." He looked at his people. "To cut this two percent we need to take twenty-seven days of vacation and have no extra overtime, over what we normally have." That got nods. "So we should plan for twenty- nine days just in case. I've got three days offered so far. Eric, I want you to give me at least a day's warning." That got a nod. "I do want to make sure we're not stuck without necessary personnel, but if you wanted to take a long weekend or two, that might be more than acceptable."
Valera raised a hand. "What about you, Horatio? You have more leave time than all of us put together. If we have to you can sign off from home on files and things."
"I can," he agreed. "I plan on taking an early night tonight, after the budget meeting, and then taking a long weekend myself." That got a smile from Speed. "The rest of you need to take at least a day off. Preferably two if you can."
"I've got two doctor's appointments coming up but one's just into the new month," Valera offered, sliding down the slip. "I planned it because I knew you'd be asking. That's a Thursday so it shouldn't be too tough." He smiled and handed over a leave sheet. "Should I put them both on here?"
"Go ahead," he ordered. He slid one down to Eric. "As soon as you can, Eric, since yours is probably going to be scattered. Also try for one weekend just for yourself?"
Speed looked at him. "You need it to give yourself time, Eric," he assured him. "Even I've got to take some."
"Take a few days with her then take a long weekend to go diving," Calleigh offered. He nodded, taking a form to start working on that. "Do we know what weekends we have off anyway?" Horatio slid down the schedule. Eric looked and made a few of his around that weekend then the appointments he knew she'd have. He signed it and slid it back. Valera slid hers back. She smiled at him. "Can I take the sixteenth through the twentieth off? There's a gun show coming up and I wanted to go." He handed over a form. "Thanks, Horatio."
"Welcome, Calleigh. Who would that leave?"
"I can take the last week off since I'm off that weekend and one day that week anyway," Speed promised. "Spend it with the son." That got some nods and he got a sheet. "I'll add a Thursday in another week too, H."
"That's fine, Speed." The others picked out what they wanted and he only had to stop one long vacation so they wouldn't be left without a fingerprint tech for a week and a half. He looked at them. "The other point that was brought up was yearly physicals." Calleigh growled. "I know, it's insulting that you have to show proof that you're not pregnant," he agreed. "I think it's very sexist in the extreme, Calleigh."
Speed nodded. "Very, and I'm sorry but I'm going to HR about ours."
"As I already wrote an email but that was an executive decision," Horatio told him. He looked at the others. "There's expanded things they want to know."
"They can blow me," Valera said firmly. Ryan gaped at her. "I don't care if he doesn't like it, Horatio. I don't think he needs to know what my yearly PAP came out as."
"I agree, he shouldn't. However, HR said they can't do a thing about that. They said he made that decision."
"He's about to get my foot up his ass," Speed assured him. "What happens to those who don't need the tests yet? Eric and I are too young for colonoscopies or prostate exams."
"I know," he agreed. "Take it up with the Chief. It's part of the overall health initiative he's doing. He wants us all to be at our most fit. Frank's got the same restrictions."
"He can bite me," Eric said firmly. "I'm not doing more than my regular yearly physical that my doctor thinks is important, H. Sorry but if he says I don't need one I'm not having one and I'm sure as hell not paying for one since this isn't a covered exam for us on the health care plan."
"Yeah, exactly," Valera agreed. "My yearly exam isn't covered either, Horatio, and unless he's going to come pay for it he can wait on the results until the courts decide he can do that since it's very delicate personal information."
"That is something to take up with the union reps," Horatio advised. "I know a few of them have already expressed disagreement with that. I've talked with ours and they're not happy either. They've went to HR. That's how we know it's an executive decision."
"They can still wait," Eric snorted, staring at him.
Horatio nodded. "Take it up with him, Eric. I know they're gathering support to have it overturned by the union." That got a mass of nods and one of them looked confused. "Did you not get the updated yearly health exam memo?"
"I did and I'm sorry but I can't take the flu shot, Lieutenant," the fingerprint tech offered. "The last time I did I was out with it shortly thereafter and I ended up getting sick that whole winter. My doctor said not to since it's a live virus and I had such problems before."
"I need that in writing."
"HR has it."
"You kept a copy?" She nodded. "Make sure the union rep has a copy as well." She nodded at that. "Good. That could help as well. Many of us don't feel the need to take it down here. I know we lose manpower hours to it but we lose more to food poisoning and chicken pox every year." That got a small smile. "Any other problems we can see?" Valera slowly raised a hand. "What's wrong?"
"We've got an arcing outlet," Natlia told him. "We reported it to maintenance last week and it's still doing it. It shocked me this morning, Horatio."
"I'll nag them as soon as we're done." He smiled at them. "Any others?" Speed pulled out a list from his wallet and handed it over, Eric doing the same. "Thank you, boys. Calleigh, anything with ballistics?"
"Not yet. They shortened my firing tank and I don't like it but I can't really *complain*, Horatio."
"Is it going to cause you problems?"
"Only with higher caliber rifles."
"Then note that." She wrote it out and handed it over. "Thank you. I'll get onto maintenance about these this afternoon. Finish up your lunch." Speed handed over his spare sandwich, getting a smile. "Thank you."
"From the son." Horatio smiled as he carried it back to his desk with the papers. He looked around. "So, anyone got any ideas to help Eric and Xander shop quickly tonight since he's got dinner with his grandfather afterward?"
"Why are you two shopping?" Natalia asked.
"His adoptive mother said she wanted a present if she wasn't going to be a grandmother and wanted something to knock her out if she was," Calleigh said with a smile. "She likes sparkly things."
"I can wait if he needs me to," Eric offered.
"Fat chance. She's getting antsy and called last night for information," Calleigh said with a smile. "Shoes?"
"She's got tiny feet," Speed told her. "Smaller than yours. Purse?"
"Gift certificate?" Valera offered. "Somewhere upscale so she can pick out whatever present she wants or needs?"
"I thought about offering her a dating service subscription," Eric offered. "She's got bad taste."
"Hey!" Speed complained.
"Not you." He grimaced. "I asked Marisol. She suggested a purse or electronics. Maybe perfume?"
"That could work," Calleigh agreed. "Make sure it's got a store out there so she can take it back if she doesn't like it though." She stood up. "I'm headed back." Speed handed her the rest of her lunch. "I'm stuffed."
"Eat, woman. You're up for the next case." She groaned and finished it on her way back, then went to clean up in the bathroom. Eric grinned at Speed's smirk for him pulling that. "What? She is." He leaned on the table. "What's out there?"
"Not a clue. It's Seattle," Speed admitted. He called out there. "Pick a store we have one of down here." She listed names. "Thanks." He hung up. "Macy's? That upscale snotty place your sister got those shoes that made you groan?"
"We can go there. I'll take Mari and Xander with me."
"Just remember, he's got dinner tonight with his grandfather," Speed warned. That got a smile and a nod. "He got nagged since he hadn't been out to play with their guard dog recently. Oh, Ryan, what would the dog have been trained to sniff out of a letter bomb? You spent more time with him than I did."
"Probably blood. He hates the smell of blood."
"Good. Works for me. He still caught the letter bomb." Everyone stared at him so he finished his sandwich. "Same family probably." He got up and headed back to work.
Eric called his sister to tell her to be ready for him then he called Xander to see when he got free. Cases willing he'd be out about when he got free.
Xander smiled at the young woman in the back seat. "Hi. I'm Xander." He shook her hand.
"I'm Marisol. Eric's my little brother."
"That's kinda cool. Eric, can we swing by my ATM? I'd rather have cash for this. Just in case."
"Sure." He backed out of the driveway, watching the dog give them pitiful looks from inside. "He's pouting."
"He has been since the agents got sent back home."
"They decided the threat was over, even with the contract still hanging. So we've got two of Grandfather's guys." He grinned. "Thomas is going to hint if I get stuck." That got a smile and the gates closed behind them as they pulled out. He leaned forward and handed over a DVD. "The only copy."
"Thank you, Xander." He drove them through an ATM for him, letting him pull out some major cash. "So she's expecting a really nice present?"
"Well, yeah, this is Mom we're talking about. Not an Anya nice present but still something nice." He grinned and they went to the very upscale department store. "I feel underdressed."
"You are, so are we," Marisol assured him happily. She led them inside and to the purses. It was a good present for a woman. "What does she like to do?"
"Now and then she clubs. She's not dating right now and she's a CSI like Eric and Daddy," Xander told her. She gave him an odd look. "She and Timmy both adopted me from Sunnydale." He smiled at the saleswoman looking at them. "Present for my mom. She's a CSI." A fairly practical bag was pointed to. "It's in congratulations of not having a grandchild." She pointed at the same bag and walked off. "Hmm." He looked at it. "Not very handy. Can't carry very much in it." Marisol took it and handed him something else. He looked at the tag then at her. "I know I've got a lot of money but a grand for a purse?" She nodded. "Wow." He shook his head and put it back. "Something under six hundred, Marisol. Please?"
"Sure." She looked and came up with two good choices. He looked then picked one that more matched her wardrobe, letting her lead him to the shoes but he shook his head. "No?"
"She's got funny, tiny feet. I don't want to make her take something back." She nodded and drug them to the perfume counter. He sniffed a few. "I know she uses this one."
"Girlfriend?" the saleswoman asked with a smile.
He grinned. "Mom in congratulations for not being a grandmother."
"Ah. We have some exquisite things this way," she said, leading them down there. "This one is a bit cheaper than the others...." Eric nearly gasped at the sticker on the box. "Well, the best is always expensive."
Xander looked at her. "My mom's a CSI, a criminalist with the Seattle PD. I know she wears the one in the blue bottle." She looked and sniffed, then smiled and led him to some better choices, including a bath gift set. "Eric?"
"She probably would like to spoil herself in a tub." He looked at one thing, tapping it. "This definitely. It'll take all the stench of a bad scene off her."
"She said she loves lemons now and then," he agreed, reading the label. It was a home treatment for oily skin made of lemon juice and some herbs. He added that to his basket and the bath set. Then he added a fluffy bath pillow. That got an approving nod from Marisol, who also added a special sponge. "Good. That's good, right?" The saleswoman smiled and nodded. "Registers? I've got dinner with my grandfather." They got pointed at and he kissed her on the cheek. "Thank you." He drug them that way and checked out. It was still more than he had pulled out so he pulled out his credit card and let her have it. She smiled when it went through and he signed the slip. Then he looked at the bag. "Can you box it? It's going to be shipped." She took the ten dollars to do that, taping it down for him even. "Thank you." They headed out and Eric dropped him off at his grandfather's on the way. "Thanks, guys. Great big helps." He waved and beamed, walking through the gates. "Hey, guys," he called before heading inside. His grandfather gave him a look. "I can't have dinner?"
"Of course. I thought we were going to have to wait it for you."
"Mom said I had to get her something for not being a grandmother." He held up the box. "A purse and some bath stuff. I didn't think we took that long."
"Not too long," Speed promised, making Xander squeal and hug him. "Was Marisol helpful?"
"Some, yeah. Even if she did like the two hundred dollar sea sponge." He put the box down carefully and took his usual spot beside Horatio, stealing a kiss with a smile. "I found her stuff."
"I'm glad." He stroked his hand when Patrick came in. "I said it wasn't going to be too late."
"I'm still having shopping with Buffy flashbacks," Xander agreed. Patrick laughed so hard he started to wheeze at that, making Xander hop up to help him. "Sorry."
"No, it's a funny mental image."
"Until she makes you watch her try on push up bras," he complained. "Plus bikinis." He pouted. "It was horrible! I even had to *shoe* shop with her, Granddad."
Patrick patted him on the hand. "It'll get better, my grandson." He stroked his cheek. "Cook?" She brought out dinner. "He's finally found presents for Aiden." She smiled and served them dinner, making them all smile at the nice meal. "Thank you, dear. It's wonderful."
Xander smiled at her. "Thanks, Cook."
"You're welcome, Xander. It's been a while since I had to cook for anyone with a real appetite." She bustled back to the kitchen to work on dessert.
Horatio said Grace tonight then they dug in. "She is an excellent cook, Patrick."
"She is. She's been with me nearly forever," he said happily. He dug into his smaller dinner, making Speed and Xander happy. He knew they'd force-feed him if he didn't.
Horatio looked at Xander. "A purse and what?"
"Bath stuff. Some lemon stuff to take the stench off from a bad scene. Eric picked that out. Marisol picked out some scented bath stuff and the purse. I had to deny the existence of thousand dollar purses." Speed moaned at that. "It was pretty but not mom's thing. It was dainty and girly."
"No, she wouldn't like that. Can I look?"
"As long as you can reseal and pack it again."
"Sure." He went to look in the package, smiling at it. "She'll love that bath set, Xander." He resealed it and gave him a hug. "Good choices."
"Lemons?" Patrick asked.
"Lemon juice helps take the smell off us after some of the worst things," Speed said delicately. Horatio nodded at that. "That stuff is lemon juice, herbs, and some pure water. It's to treat oily skin but it should work in a bath setting." That got a nod. "Sometimes it helps."
"It can," Horatio agreed. He looked at Xander. "We are having to take some time off this month since it's the end of the budget." Xander looked horrified. "Not the whole team at once, Xander. Just a day here and there."
"Sure," he agreed.
Speed looked. "I've got the ones I picked and he picked. That way we can see if you wanted to do anything those days or if you were going to be busy." Xander grinned at him for that. "We haven't been shopping on the bike in a while."
"We haven't," he agreed, but he stroked Horatio's hand. "Or slept in."
"We haven't had breakfast in bed recently," Horatio agreed, stealing a kiss. Xander smiled. Speed smiled at him for that. "He does like to be that spoiled. Even if it is tube biscuits and jelly with coffee."
"You two could borrow Cook know and then," Patrick pointed out.
"She's your cook, I'll come to her for spoiling type stuff," Xander said firmly. "Since I'd kill him if he had to eat my cooking. She makes good spoiling stuff for him." That got a smile. "Plus it doesn't take away from her making you tea and dinner." The door slammed. "That sounded like Don." Sure enough, Don and Tara walked in. He squealed and got up to hug her. "Hi. What are you doing down here?"
"Someone tried to stalk her after class the other day so we're taking a small vacation due to the end of the year budget," Don said. "Sit and eat, nephew." Xander sat down again and went back to eating while holding Horatio's hand. "Tara, this is Speed. I don't think you've ever met him."
"We met at the hotel. Hi, Timmy," she said shyly, waving a bit.
He smiled. "Sit and eat." She blushed. "We can even introduce you to Ryan tonight." That got a brighter blush. "It'll be fine. Who has Miss Puppy?"
"Stella. She's housesitting in case something happens," Don offered, sitting Tara down then sitting down. "Sorry to barge in, Uncle Patrick. We can get a room but we thought we should check in."
"Not a problem, children. The house needs to have some life in it." He smiled at Tara. "My darling one." She smiled at him. "Cook, Don and Tara are here," he called. "Can you bring something for them?"
She came to the door and looked. "Aren't you too tiny!" she complained, coming out to hug Don and pat Tara on the head. "Don't you worry, dear. I can make you dinner so you don't blow away." She went to do that, bringing out more food for them and Xander, who gave her a sheepish look. "It's about time you ate today. I'm sure you didn't eat lunch."
"I had a peanut butter and pixy stick sandwich," he defended.
"It's a special thing," Speed said at her opening mouth to complain.
"Fine." She went back into the kitchen, bringing out more for Patrick too, giving him a look. "Eat. Now. Do not disappoint those two by fading sooner."
"Gee, Uncle Patrick," Don teased. "I didn't know she was your fourth wife."
Tara giggled and swatted him on the arm. "Be nice. She's fussing because he needs to be fussed over. He'll fuss over everyone but himself. The same as I heard Xander does." Xander nodded and went into the kitchen. He came back a minute later with a small bandage on his hand and a mug for his grandfather. "Good, it's good for him to eat properly," she decided. She dug in. "Thank you, Cook. It's wonderful."
"Good. You eat, dear," she called from the kitchen. "We can make the boys tea later." She smiled and dug in. She looked at Don when she came back. "Eat."
"I am!" He dug in faster. She might nag but he was hungry.
Patrick smiled at his family. They were strong and would carry on after him.
"How's Anya?" Tara asked.
"She's having a baby Oz by their tests," Xander told her. She stared in shock. He nodded.
"The tests don't lie," Horatio told her. "We did it in the lab."
"Wow. How did she do that?"
"I'm not sure," Patrick admitted. "We think she pulled the substance magically and simply specified a male of the hellmouth that was beloved of it. Oz would fit that." His sire walked in and he smiled. "You made good time."
"I needed to be here to help Horatio hold Xander down." He handed over two sheets of paper then hugged Tara and Don, then patted Speed on the back. "It's good to have the whole family here." Xander started to get up so he held him down and let Horatio have the papers while Xander huffed. "They did it again," he shared.
Horatio handed them back. "Absolutely not."
"The judge and the family said so. It was done earlier today. It was said they both committed suicide due to the shameful nature of their obsessions to improve and restore the family's honor," Raphael said firmly. "I can't change it. They bought a judge to sign off on it." Xander got free and headed out into the garden, slamming the door. They didn't hear any ranting and Speed went to follow him. He looked at Horatio. "I had my people protest, son. I tried." He handed back the forms and sat down in his usual spot. "It'll be fine."
"No it won't," Tara said quietly. "They did it again?" He nodded. "Poor Xander." She went to help calm him down, finding him hugging his father. She stroked his back. "It'll be over with soon. They can't come back to haunt you, Xander." He looked at her. "They can't. It'll be over with soon."
"It's only been six months," Speed said quietly.
"Yeah, but the worst is always either the first or the last. Like with a broken arm." He snorted but did smile a bit. "It'll be okay. I promise it will be."
"Maybe I can give it away."
"You could," Speed agreed, smiling at her. "Thank you, Tara."
"It's not a problem. He needed a hug and a pat." She gave him a hug then went back inside. Horatio walked past her, going to hug his boyfriend, which was a very good sign in her book. "He's very upset."
"I figured he would be," Raphael admitted. He sipped his blood. "Eat, Patrick, you two as well." They ate again. "Anything good happen?"
"Anya's baby is Oz's," Patrick offered. "Last I heard he had went mute and hit a wall."
"I'd have hit her," he admitted. He took another sip and Horatio came in without the others. "Taking him home?"
"We probably should," he agreed, gathering the present. "For Aiden," he explained at the curious look.
"That's fine. She needs more sparkly things." That got a small smile. "I figured he'd rather hear it from me instead of them. They were going to send a cleric over as an envoy."
"Thank you." He went to lead Speed and Xander out to the hummer, letting Speed cuddle him in the back for now. It was a quiet drive home and the dog was enthusiastic to see them but Xander cuddled him and he calmed down. "Bed, Xander. We'll come up." He nodded and went up that way. He looked at Speed. "Staying?"
"Yeah, I probably should get Calleigh over. I think she had something planned." He went into the office to call her. "It's me." He smiled at her happy voice. "Sit. Really." He sat down, holding his head. "The family who considers him a curse hit again. No, not another one. The newly gone members decided to leave him everything so it couldn't taint the rest of their family and pass on the obsession." He heard her gasp. "You okay? I told you to sit." He smiled. "I probably should but you can come out if you want." He grinned. "Thanks, babe. Sure, I'll let you in and all that. Come over soon." He hung up and held his head, at least until he felt something move past his elbow. "Shit! Snakes!" Horatio came in and took the one staring at him. The lights were flipped on once that one was dead and they found a few others. "I'm sick of this."
"You and me both." He called the house. "Is Thomas still in? It's Horatio. We just found snakes in Xander's house. They're not native. I'm quite sure they're not native. Thank you." He stomped on one that came out to get him, crushing its head. "I am very tired of this." Speed shuddered and headed to check the rest of the rooms. Horatio found another one and killed it, then went to check the dog. He didn't have any bites at all. He had been very lucky. He did their bedroom but there weren't any. Speed found another two in his equipment cabinet. One in the kitchen. A water one in the pool. That one got shot and brought cops rushing over. He handed over the dead snakes with a grimace. "I do not like the person who has the contract against him." The officers looked stunned and reported that, so they got more guards and a better search of the house, they he did the basement with Calleigh when she came in so no one could say anything about the guns, explosives, or artillery. Xander came down to check after they had cleared it and found two things missing but they were in the kitchen so they left it there.
Horatio took Xander back upstairs with the dog, Speed and Calleigh locking up after the night shift at the lab got done picking up the fingerprints he had taken and the dead snakes. Speed looked at Calleigh then set the alarm and carried her upstairs. Then he came back down to get into the computer and save that area down, before going back up to her. "Computer," he offered.
"It's all right. The safety of the family has to come first." He smiled and kissed her, getting down to soothe his frustrated soul in her body. It was good for them and apparently Horatio was using a similar cure since Xander was moaning. She giggled at that, making him grin. "He's loud."
"Aiden teased him for getting so loud once," he agreed, kissing her again. He rested against her shoulder, telling her what had went on. She kissed him and went to email Aiden so she'd be warned, then Greg as well, just in case. Because no one touched her stepson!
Grissom looked at the email he got with the header 'information Greg needs' and sighed, opening it. He read, then called down there. "Calleigh, Gil Grissom, Greg's supervisor. We found a baby king cobra in his scene kit." She described the ones they had found and gave him the cell number for the CSI who had taken the snakes and the prints Speed had gathered. "I'll have him read this immediately and talk to her to make sure it's not connected to the assassin with the white roses up here." She said something else so he got into his email and found that. "I really do need to check that more often. Thank you." He hung up and printed off her black book of information, paging Brass while it printed.
Then he dialed the number down there. "Hi, this is Graveyard Supervisor Grissom in Las Vegas. I think we may have someone working in common. I was just told about the snakes that were found in Xander Harris's house. No, he does have ties out here, he trained out here actually, but one of our CSI, who is very close friends with him, found a baby king cobra in his scene kit after receiving something that we know comes from an assassin." Brass leaned in so he pointed him at the printer. "Exactly. That's why I think it may be related. I would be more than happy to share that with you," he agreed. "Grissom. Las Vegas lab, graveyard. Of course. Let me know please." He hung up. "I need to check my email more often. They emailed her black book of who does what how and her former client list from Miami."
"Someone put some in Master Tim's house to get him. That... Greg!" he called when he saw him. Greg waved a hand. "Let someone do that."
"Let me log evidence. I'm back alone." He went to do that and came back in a few minutes later. "Damn little in the liquor and check store robbery, Gris. What's up?" Grissom printed off Calleigh's email, making him and Brass read it. "Uh-huh. Everyone's okay at least. Though, the snakes sound familiar since I found a cotton mouth in my shower this morning. I'm sure my neighbors were not amused when I shrieked and then killed it." Brass looked at him. "Not like I was going to save it. I bagged it once it was dead!" He read back over the email. "Is Xander okay?"
"Calleigh didn't include that. It's fairly late down there so he might be in bed."
Greg pulled out his phone and called Horatio's phone. "Calleigh told me. Everyone okay?" He listened to the quiet words and smiled. "Next vacation days I get I'm there." He nodded. "Of course."
"Tell him I called the CSI over that new case about the snakes we found in yours."
"Grissom said he called your guy to talk about the sudden input of snakes into my case and my tub this morning." He let out a sappy grin. "Love and miss you guys too. See you guys in a few weeks. Sure, I'll be safe and careful. I'm wearing my vest. Love you." He hung up and looked at him, still smiling. "Can I kill them for upsetting Xander?"
"Let them," Brass ordered, looking at him. "You're wearing a vest?" Greg lifted his t- shirt. "Okay, so you are. Where did you get that one? Can I see it?" Greg pulled off the t-shirt and handed it to him once the vest was off. "This is nice."
"That is called my boy is paranoid and got me one," Greg told him.
"It's also called you never saw that," Grissom said blandly. "It's Special Forces issue." Brass handed it back. "We knew he knew weapons and how to get some nice ones."
Greg just smiled. "He's translating stuff into demon for a bar owner who collects and buys so they're not readily available." He put back on the vest then his t-shirt. "Yes, it's very nice, very comfortable. I napped in it last night when I slept in the break room, Brass." That got a smile. "If it ever fails Xander's going to kill someone."
"Did Bobby test it for you?" Grissom asked.
"Yeah, we went into the desert this morning and he tested it for me. All the panels held against normal nine mil gunfire. It's rated to small artillery by the pamphlet in the box."
"Good. I like that. Keep that," Brass agreed. Greg smiled at him. "What're we doing about this?"
"Well, if that's what I think it is," Greg said, looking at the other printout. "We might be able to find the guy in there." He pulled Grissom's keyboard over and got into that email again, doing a word search. "Hmm, three listings with snakes. He found a highlighter and worked on the copies in Brass's hands. "Them." He did another one just in case but nothing new came up. So he did 'white rose' and it came up with two. He picked a different highlighter and did them. "That's who uses white roses." He turned it back over to Grissom and smiled. "That narrows it down to four people since one overlaps."
"They do. Good thinking, Sanders."
"I try now and then," he said happily. "Going to work on the check store robbery." He went to work on his new case until Catherine came back.
"I'll go search these guys," Brass promised. "Let me know what you get from Miami." He went to do that, leaving Grissom happier since the threat might be over. He found Sanders humming to his iPod and shook his head. He was so young sometimes.
Xander walked into one of the top gay rights groups in the city of Miami and found someone he vaguely recognized in there. "Hi, got five?"
"For?" he asked. "Are you a reporter?"
"No, I'm making a donation."
"Oh, that's fine. Um, our boss usually handles those, sir. Let me find her." He looked around and pointed. "There she is." He pointed at the drag queen in the other office. "You can talk to her."
"Thank you." He walked that way. "Ma'am, I was told to talk to you about a donation?"
"You can call me sir, young man."
"My grandfather said to always address as the outward persona," he offered with a good boy smile. "Do you handle donations?"
"I do. What sort are you making?"
He sat down across from her and pulled open his bag, making her flinch. "Don't worry, it's because I'm under a death threat." He moved the gun and pulled out the envelopes, finding the one he wanted. "This one." He handed it over. Then he grinned again. "Someone in the Middle East got stuck on my ass and obsessed. When he committed suicide he left everything to me. My boyfriend and I thought it was in horrible taste but that you guys could use it more than I needed it."
She blinked. "Excuse me?"
He nodded and stood up. "It happened recently. One of his uncles tried to kidnap me and then two others decided I was next to the Goddess in lust." He shrugged and closed his bag, then put it back over his shoulder. "I guess it happens but I'm content with my boyfriend and he agreed we could donate it to good causes, and I like yours." He smiled and walked out.
She opened the envelope carefully, looking at the simple cashier's check inside. She pressed a button on her phone, bringing someone running. "Who was he?"
"That was Patrick Benis' grandson," he said with a small smile. He had been the guy Xander had talked to and worked for Patrick. "Father Benis told all of us that someone got stuck on him and committed suicide since he was taken and wouldn't deal with the bastards. Did he donate some of that to us?"
"He did!" she squeaked. "Um, I need.... Press, we need a press release."
"He wanted it to be anonymous," he said quietly. "He's always donated anonymously before."
"Why? He's the scion of royalty in the fight," she protested.
"He's also known as Master Tim and he's dating a cop or two," he told her. She pouted at that. "Sorry. We can't out him and a lot of us are still uncomfortable with our more spanking members. So he's donated anonymously. Since we know, we can easily send him a letter for tax time."
"We can do that," she agreed. "I need an escort to the bank and one of the deposit slips."
"I'll get the rest of the fundraiser's stuff." He went to get the assistant over that, sending her in with it. He had seen the check and it was a nice one. It would go a long ways toward helping them build a new counseling center and rooming house for runaways. He did call Father Benis to let him know as well, making the old guy happy. His grandson was a nice guy, even though he was a dom.
Xander finally found the pound and walked inside. "Who do I make a donation too?"
"The director, sir. Did you set off the metal detector?"
"Um, yeah. I've got to be armed right now. There's a pesky death threat. I only came to drop off a quiet donation." She got the director out there and he dug it out, looking at the last two envelopes then at him. He shifted the gun when he caught him looking at it. "Death threat." He handed over his. "This is for you." He slit open the envelope and gaped then he grinned. "Animals are nice. I like animals. You guys always need the help so use it to get more adopted out." He left, heading back to the car. The last envelope was pulled out and his bag left in the car when he found his way back to the station he needed. He found someone in his way as well. "Hi, Sergeant Stetler. 'Scuse me. Have to do something." He walked inside and to the Chief's office, tapping a bit before walking into his foyer. He smiled at the secretary. "Is he in?"
"He is but he's right before a meeting. Can I help?"
"I wanted to make a donation to get some decent vests and guns into the officer's hands. Some of the ones they're carrying are POS piles of slag and some of the vests are *really* outdated."
"Sure. Let me let him know." She called in there. "Sir, there's a young man out here who wants to donate to our vest and gun fund?" She smiled and hung up. "He's free if you take less than four minutes, sir."
"Thanks." He walked inside and closed the door behind him, weathering the shocked look. "And hey, I even left mine in the car. Did you know how POS some of those guns and vests are? I mean, having to change firing pins because you *cleaned* them?"
"I know. Some of the vests are fairly old as well."
"Yeah, heavily." He handed it over. "SWAT gets plenty of grants to update. The regular officers and CSI need that so they have equipment that means they don't die."
"Again?" he asked dryly.
Xander looked at him. "No comment. Unless someone got hurt today and no one told me?" He shook his head quickly and Xander relaxed, smiling. "Good. I didn't think so but I've been off giving away what the latest sick bastard left me after he committed suicide because he couldn't have my cute ass. So please, get the normal guys new vests, better guns, and then get the CSI better guns and vests too please. I updated Daddy's with the one I carried on patrol in Sunnydale."
"Sunnydale?" He leaned back, looking at him. "I've heard of your town and why it's so odd."
Xander grinned. "I worked with the slayer out there from tenth grade on," he admitted. "I even taught Daddy how to stake."
"Welcome. I don't want them to have to mourn anyone else, Chief."
"It's a wonderful sentiment. Should I use some for the budget deficit?"
Xander grinned. "Daddy promised we'd go for a long ride one of the days he took off."
That got a smile and a nod. "I'll put it toward new vests and guns, Xander. Should I let them know you were here?"
"Nope. Horatio and Daddy agreed I could donate some of it. So I did. Some gay rights groups, the pound, you guys, and a small orphanage that I work with up in New York now and then." He beamed and left, heading back to his car. He found someone staring at the inside. "What?"
"Is that a gun, sir?"
"Someone's threatening my life and I have a permit," he promised, pulling it out. "I'm under a death threat."
"No guards today?" someone else called, Ryan.
Xander shrugged. "I think I lost them doing my good rounds this morning. Tell Stepmom I'm picking up flaky pastry stuff for dinner if she and dad wanted to come over. Or you and Eric. There's a match on tonight." That got a nod and he went inside. Xander took his permit back. "So, can I go grocery shopping now?"
"Should you?" he asked patiently.
"No but I can't cook. I'm poisonous."
"Poisonous?" he said dryly, staring at him over the rim of his sunglasses.
"Ask Horatio. I heard someone got sick off the cookies I made him the last time and I heard he gave someone a piece of fudge I was trying to make to make them confess." That got a laugh and the officer walked off. Xander got back into his car and headed for the pastry shop he liked, then home. There was a match on tonight and he didn't have any clients today so it'd be a good day. Of course, once he got inside the gun went into the holster he put on and it stayed there until others came over that night.
The officer walked inside and found Eric on his way out. "That boy...."
"Drives a dark blue Ferrari with silver highlights in the paint."
"Xander." He nodded. "What about Speedle's son?"
The officer gaped. "That was *Speedle's* son?"
"Yeah. What about him?"
"He, ah, said something about a death threat, I noticed the gun he had openly in the bag in his car. I checked his permit." Eric nodded at that. "He is?"
"Yeah, sick and sad bastards who couldn't have him so they killed themselves and put a contract out on him. That's why they pulled the snakes out of his house recently."
"Oh. He said something about getting flaky pastries, there's a match tonight?"
"He's the guy we get the naked soccer and hockey matches from." That got an awed look. "They play it in Europe and he's got a great dish. Cooper runs copies for him."
"Wow. He said he was poisonous?"
"Remember the cookies Stetler got sent as an apology?" That got a smirk and a nod. "Xander made those. He's literally poisonous in the kitchen. Also, don't eat the jerky, he makes it very well but it'll give you the runs and make you so horny one person who ate it went to hump a cactus in a mall, and his breath spray can peel paint. But it works."
"Wow. That's...kinda neat," he admitted.
"Xander's a great guy but if someone comes after him we'll be cleaning up parts after his dom side goes off."
"He's also Master Tim," one of the guys walking past them said. "He's got a death threat, Delko?"
"Yup. That's why they had the snakes. Same people who left him new money."
"Yup, suicide and 'if I can't have you no one will' death contract."
"Long range murder-suicide. That's a new twist," the second officer said. "His house is on my patrol. I'll pay more attention and mention it during the lunch briefing." He walked out to go back to work.
Eric grinned at the first guy. "Most people who meet Xander like Xander. Except for Stetler, who hit on him," he admitted quietly. "Gotta go. Court." He headed out, going to do that.
The officer considered it. Anyone who hated Stetler was all right in his book... Especially with the rumors that Speedle's son had somehow managed to charm Caine into bed and made him smile. Plus there were rumors he had done others in the lab too to make them happy too. Since he'd seen Calleigh happy and bouncy after having *lunch* with the kid, he was The Man to him forevermore. Even if it wasn't what he thought.
Horatio walked in that night and found the boys in front of the tv, like usual on match nights, and Xander in the office going over the tapes from the last few days. "Anything on the snakes?"
"I found where Dad downloaded it." He lifted his head and got a kiss. "I donated a lot today."
"Good. Am I going to have to hear complaints from someone?"
"No. I went to the pound and two different gay charities, one's building a new counseling and runaway center." That got a smile. "The other's a legal defense fund who helps those who've been discriminated against in work situations or housing situations." That got him a cuddle. "I popped around to see you guys earlier but I only saw Ryan."
"I heard about the donation," he said in his ear, getting a sheepish look. "I know you told him not to but you need certain things for tax purposes."
"They said copies of the checks or money orders should be enough." He snuck another kiss. "I got a call from Mom. I overnighted her present." He ran the tape connected to the phone back and let him hear the minute and a half squeal. "I think she liked it," he said after she quit babbling about the bath stuff and hung up. He rewound the tape. Then he grinned at Horatio. "They're deep in the game, aren't they?" Horatio nodded. "Good, then we've got to figure out what to do about some fugly stuff."
"What makes it fugly?" Xander pulled out some things and held one up. "Okay, that is ugly."
"It's fugly, dear. It's so far beyond ugly it's not funny. It's also old lady-ish and I'm not an old lady. I haven't been in a while." That got a small smile and they settled down to go through the presents no one had been able to send back. Then he pulled out one last thing and looked inside before handing it to him. "That is yours to do whatever you need to with it."
Horatio looked inside then at him. "Why?"
"Because Ray Junior's school sucks? Because your house has a draft from your storage area? Because I want to see you looking as pretty as I am?" He grinned and leaned back in his chair. "Because I'm spoiling my boyfriend and I sent the same amount to Greg. That gets rid of one of the monetary funds from one o the stupid ass stalkers."
"Shut up, Horatio, and take it. Use it to help your nephew, fix the air leak, fix the hummer since it's rattling. I'm spoiling you and if you don't let me...." He stood up and kissed him as hard as he could then walked away. "I'll just have to be sneaky and meaner about it."
"I still don't need it and this is more than Ray could use for his school needs, Xander," he called after him. He looked at the check then sighed. It really was too much. He followed him outside, letting the dog out since he was following him. "Which one?"
"The first's money, not the stuff that's going to auction next month." He picked up his dog to nuzzle noses with, making him a happy puppy. "Go mark the lawn." He put him down and watched him trot off to hump a rose bush. "I'm worried since he seems to like that one."
Horatio looked away from the odd little creature, looking at his boyfriend instead. "If it was less I wouldn't complain."
"I can spank," Xander offered.
"As can I, even if I'm not trained," he said dryly. "Should you try I will."
Xander pouted. "I can spoil you."
"It's too much, Xander. I don't need that much to buy two new suits, some caulk for around the doorway, and pay for Ray Junior's tuition." The dog yelped so he looked over there. "It's got thorns, dog. Of course it hurts." He was still going and eventually did get off with a groan of pleasure.
"So he's an S&M dog," Xander joked.
Horatio gave him a look. "Halve it and I'll take it, Xander. That is too much."
"If I do that you'll get the rest anyway."
"No, I won't."
"Oh, yes, you will. Or else I'll pout to Dad that you're mean and won't let me spoil you." He grinned. "Then I'll pout to Granddad, Mom, and Stepmom too. Plus Alexx." Horatio moaned and went back inside, the dog following.
"Eww!" Speed yelled. "What did you do, dog!"
"He discovered the rose bush is his favorite hump of all," Xander called. "He's an S&M dog, Dad."
Speed walked the dog out and handed him over, then went to change clothes. He came back down the stairs and found Horatio making some new coffee. "What did he do?"
"Spoiled too much," he admitted, handing over the check.
Speed looked at it then at him. Then he smacked him on the back and grinned. "Good! It's about time."
"If it was half that....."
"Xander would have to find someone else to give it to. Suck it up before I come in wearing leather and silk every single day." He handed it back. "Go buy a great new suit, get the rattle in your hummer fixed, and spoil your nephew and Yelina. Or him." He walked off, going back to the game. Calleigh came in and watched then moaned and walked outside. "Watch out for the dog and the rose bush."
She looked at the pouting boy out there. "What happened to the dog and the rose bush I helped you plant?"
"He loves it best. It makes him yelp but happy."
"Ah, so he'd enjoy your work too," she teased.
"Dad and Horatio thought it was a bad joke."
"I know." She gave him a hug. "Why else are you pouting?"
"I'm spoiling Horatio and he's pouting," he admitted, petting his content and happy puppy. He looked at her. "He said I'm spoiling him too much but he's got a lot of things that need to come out of the spoiling money."
"I know," she soothed. "Let me talk to the big grump." She gave him a hug and went inside, smacking Horatio on the arm. "He's trying to be sweet, thoughtful, and give you some beyond what you need to handle things right now. You're making him pout."
"He said he was going to complain to his grandfather before you," he told her.
"Well, I'm here and Patrick's not." She stared at him. "How big is it?"
"I could've done all he mentioned and a lot more with half," he admitted, handing over the check. She looked at it then at him. "I don't need anything that big."
"Have you considered that you can do a lot of other things with this? Like maybe spoiling him back?"
"He'll pout," Speed said from behind her, reaching around her to get the coffeepot and pour some more. "He doesn't want you to spoil him, he wants to spoil you and make you feel absolutely and totally adored. He definitely wants you to splurge, buy a few new suits. Get the hummer fixed. Fix the house, spoil your family. He wants you to feel spoiled."
"I can't return this favor."
"He's not asking you to, H. His version of spoiled is affection and attention. In case you hadn't noticed, Xander loves for people to pay attention to him. He never had that before. Even when Willow paid attention to him it wasn't to him, it was about him. He wants you to spoil him by giving him backrubs, talking to him, cuddling him, dealing with his horny dog." He glared down at the dog nuzzling his ankle. "Did the rose bush satisfy you for long enough this time?" The dog barked and wagged his tail, then rubbed against his leg again so he got out of the way of the water dish.
"That's the longest he hasn't humped someone in weeks," Calleigh said in awe. "I guess maybe he does enjoy some pain with his pleasure."
Speed looked at her. "Then he came to cuddle me on the couch and got me nasty."
"There's a washer here," she reminded him. "I'm not touching dog semen. Human semen if I have to, dog semen only under threat of being shot."
"I've already put it in the washer," he promised. "Not like I wanted to touch it either." The dog nuzzled his leg again then trotted off. "We'll have to plant more roses." He went back to the living room. "Why are you still in the kitchen, Horatio?"
Horatio went outside to talk to his boyfriend, closing the door behind him.
Calleigh went into the living room. "I'm sorry, but running like that without a bra on hurts, guys. Those women are putting themselves in pain for your pleasure."
"It's much appreciated," Eric said absently. She swatted him and he swatted back but kept watching. "What?"
"They're in pain, Eric."
"They're getting paid for it! And?" He went back to watching. "Go play with the dog or something. Or the guns."
"Don't tempt her," Speed warned.
She walked off shaking her head, going to get Xander. She paused when she saw him in Horatio's lap getting cuddled and talked to. He looked too comfortable so she went down to look at the collection herself. The cabinets were very well done and he had gotten the dampness problem solved apparently. The few she checked didn't have any green and fuzzy dust in them. She put them back and moved on, finding the explosives cabinet. She counted up pounds of explosives and sighed. Maybe Horatio had upped his limit again because he had over the sixty pounds Horatio had made him stay under. Or maybe he decided it only needed it under each type of explosive. She closed that cabinet and moved on, finding a closet doorway. She opened it and looked at the heavier artillery pieces. She pulled out one to look at. It was nice. Very nice. She could get used to that sort of nice thing.
She put it back because Xander wouldn't let her play with that toy right now. Maybe for the second run of demolition tests. She walked around and found a hidden doorway, painted the same color as the walls. "Sneaky, stepson." She opened it with a bobbypin since it was locked and looked inside, then frowned. "More artillery for a demolition test. We'll have to call Bobby about that." She closed it but didn't lock it and walked back across the floor, hearing the telltale squeak. She walked back over the spot and looked down, then got down to find the lock. "I thought we had a high water table," she complained when she got it open and it had stairs down. She stuck her head down, finding a bulb. She yanked on the cord gently. She looked, then she swore and left the door open, going to get Horatio and Xander. "Xander." He looked over and 'eeped', hiding his face. "You and Toby need to talk, young man. Come here, Horatio."
"Too many explosives?"
"I think she found the workshop," Xander said quietly, sliding off the welcoming lap with the dog. He walked him inside and down the stairs, kicking the door shut so he could walk into the basement. "Workshop," he explained.
"You are not Santa," Calleigh said patiently.
"But I look so good in red and I give nice presents," he offered with a grin.
"Speed!" she yelled.
"Now! It's being taped!"
"Yes, mom." He came down the stairs and looked at what Horatio was looking at then his son. "Toby?" Xander moaned and nodded. "Too many explosives?"
"Yup. Just over on the plastique."
"We said sixty pounds, Xander."
"I did. That's the rest of Giles' stuff, it's just over sixty pounds of plastique."
Horatio looked at him. "I meant total."
"I'll go blow up part of the lawn again."
Horatio gave him the 'I am not amused' look. "Sorry but no." He looked at the wall where Calleigh pointed and went into that nicely hidden closet, coming out with something very nice. "I didn't know you could get these commercially."
"Fuck," Speed said, looking at his kid again. "No sniper feelings, right?"
"Not usually." He shrugged. "The Watchers sent that to Giles."
"Uh-huh." He noticed the disturbed pattern of dust on the floor and the little bits of light shining up and went to pry up the large doorway again. "This would be? Before I get it open?"
"I told him he's not Santa and he told me he looks good in red and gives good presents," Calleigh complained.
"Ah. No wonder you called." Speed gave Xander the 'I'm not amused' look. Then they got the door open. He looked down then over the edge of the door and noticed Xander had disappeared. "Won't save you!" he called. "Eric, go stop the son!" Nothing and no movement. "ERIC! Go stop Xander! Now!"
"Yes, mother!" He went to find Xander, dragging him back down the stairs. "Why did you lose him this time?"
"His demented, gun nutjob workshop," Speed complained, heading down the stairs. "Well, no wonder you've got dampness problems, son. It's got some water leakage down here."
"It was there when I moved in and I'm fixing the walls."
Horatio pointed and Xander sighed, heading down there. "It's the hurricane shelter and I'm fixing the walls slowly but I am fixing them." Speed pointed at the guns. "They don't work and I'm trying to make them work."
"Will the damp help that?" Calleigh asked. He turned on the other set of lights, the sort that're used to dry chemicals and she sighed, shaking her head. "Did the last owner make drugs?"
"Actually, they did," Horatio admitted. She whimpered at that. "Point one at the wall."
"I did that, it cracked the earth and I had to seal it more," Xander complained. "These are the non-working things, Horatio."
"I'm sure they are, Xander." He patted him on the back. "Perhaps we can use part of the new money to fix this area?" Xander gave him a pitiful look. "I don't mind having a hurricane shelter down here. It's a good idea. I mind having the six turret guns down here. Plus the spare car parts?" He held up one. "Isn't that a carburetor?"
Eric nodded. "Yup." He went to browse in the boxes, shaking his head when he found a small hallway. "Where does this lead?"
"Under the pool. It was already here," he said firmly. He was only pouting a little bit. "I even have a doorbell chime down here for when someone comes."
"I can see that," Horatio agreed, nudging Xander to follow Eric down the small, cramped hallway. They ran into a small nest of spiders but Xander sprayed some of his breath spray and they all died. "I knew there were more uses for that stuff." They came out into a better lit room, one with boxes. "What are those, Eric?"
Xander shrugged. "They were here when I got here. I haven't been into them. I don't need the space so anything I found in the house joined it. As well as the statue the dog keeps humping that Granddad bought me. He thought it was cute I had to clean it twice so I brought it down here to clean it with the stuff in the bottle in the corner."
Eric looked then at him. "That's not what you use to clean bronze." He handed the statue to him. "Use a sponge."
"He humps it more."
"Then put it up higher," Speed offered, looking around.
"It was on top of the bookshelf the last time, Dad."
"How did that little dog of yours get up there?" Calleigh asked, looking confused.
"I'm not sure. I think the tv. That's why we're missing most of a match on the TIVO." He carried it back upstairs, finding one of his clients in there. "I didn't hear the bell."
"Sorry, Master Tim. I just heard something that I think you need to hear." He played the tape and Xander sighed, nodding him to follow him once he had the doors locked again. "Sir," he said, nodding at Horatio when they ran into him. He handed him the tape player. "During a bust, Lieutenant. What is this?"
"Stuff leftover from the original owner of the house," Speed told him.
"Ah." He looked into the box Eric got open. "Are those balls of coca?" Eric handed one over for him to test, then he nodded. "They are! We were wondering where their stash was!"
"Down here," Xander said. "There's another storeroom too." He led him back and then off under the house, going toward the front gate but under the side lawn. He ducked under some roots and came out into a dark room. He patted himself down. "Lighter?" One was handed over and Xander found the switch once the lighter was lit, turning on the overhead light. The guy looked and moaned. "I found this the other day. Thumper ran in here." He handed back the lighter and shrugged. "Drugs are not my thing."
He sighed. "How strong is your weapon's collection upstairs?"
"We can make believe some of the artillery was theirs to get rid of some of it," Calleigh offered. "But I wanted to do more destruction tests. You guys can have all this if you want."
"Not really. It'll get him in trouble."
"I didn't put it down here. It's even got shipping stamps," Xander complained, pointing at one. "I was still in high school then."
Speed patted him on the back. "We'll hold a meeting and figure it out." Horatio walked in and paused them let out a soft moan. "He just found it the other day, Horatio. Thumper ran in here."
Calleigh looked at the agent. "He likes the rose bush a lot."
The agent smiled. "So he fits very well with Master Tim then." He grinned and they searched for more openings, finding one grown and mudded over. "Did you check this before you sealed it?"
"Yeah, headed down toward the water and it had an opening. It was leaking pretty badly too," Xander admitted. That got a nod and they all went back upstairs to sit in the living room and figure out what they were going to do about this stuff. Because the drugs could not stay. Xander didn't want them to stay, he made that very clear. The others figured out how to do it subtly, with the agents who had busted the old owners coming in to see if they found the hidden areas. Horatio and Calleigh went to weed out the explosives and artillery, sending some of it down there too. Then they went to call that agent out of bed. He was not a happy camper. He was glaring and growling but Xander gave him a sheepish look. "Did you never make it into the sub-basement?"
"Yeah, we found it recently," Xander admitted. "I was showing Horatio my workshop. I collect weapons and I use down there to fix a few pieces but he went exploring and found stuff." They walked him down there, letting him see the two tunnels and the one he had mudded over. "That one had a really bad water leak."
The agent looked at the boxes, then at the cops standing around. "Who opened?" Horatio, Eric, and Speed all raised hands. "The guns and explosives?"
"I found a few things here and there around the house," Xander admitted. "They had been in the upper basement but I drug them down here."
"Oh. Do you collect guns?" Xander smiled and led him back up to show him his gun cabinet. "You don't harbor anti-American feelings, right, kid?"
"No. I love this country, I just wish it could protect me from the assholes who keep giving me stuff because they want me." The guy gave him an amused look and a half-smile so Xander went to get the fugly broach and show him. "From an admirer. He wanted me to be his sex toy."
"Oh." He put it aside before it tainted him and went back downstairs to look at the amount of stuff again. Then he looked at everyone. "What do we want to do with it?"
"Get rid of it," Xander called down. "I don't want the drugs here. I don't like drugs. Drugs bad!"
"He doesn't even usually take pain killers," Speed offered. "My adopted kid."
"Okay." He looked around. "Help me heft this upstairs." They went to get stuff to help him heft things up the stairs. By the time they were done the first match was over with but it was a double-header so Eric settled in to watch the second match with the dog. Horatio, Calleigh, and Speed sat down to write out statements and Xander went into super-fret and worry mode because he didn't want the house seized when it wasn't his fault. The agent promised him it wouldn't be and called his boss to inform him of that. They found missing drugs in drug seizure stuff all the time according to him. A discreet truck came up and took everything out of the foyer except the dog, who got handed back to Eric when he came to investigate. His boss came in and looked at the door panel once it was closed and sighed, shaking his head. They hadn't seen it, it wasn't anywhere in the report. So that was fine and they gave him a letter saying that it wasn't his drugs, since some of it had been shipped when he was ten, and he would be fine. They left with the drugs, weapons, and explosives, then they all sat down to relax.
At least until Horatio looked at the tape and went to copy it and email it to Patrick's people. Then he came back to relax, letting Xander curl up in his lap again. "Thank you, everyone." That got some smiles and the Fed grinned. "You deserve a reward."
Xander looked at him. "Go get the number two and bring it here." He went to do that and Xander settled in to give him a light whipping, making him a happy boy. The others ... they decided watching naked soccer was better, even Calleigh and Horatio. After all, getting between a boy and his sub was not a good thing.