Speed hung up and walked back into the lab. "Xander's not taking phone calls." Horatio gave him an odd look. "When was the last time you talked to him?"
"Yesterday evening. He wasn't bouncing and happy but he sounded more cheerful than before he left."
Speed shook his head. "Lady Heather's personal assistant said he's not taking any calls from anyone. She stressed anyone. I tried to call Greg and got growled at."
Horatio found his phone and called Greg. "What is going on?" He listened. "No...." He sighed. "No, Greg. I told them to blow themselves. Where is he?" He hung up and called Lady Heather. "Would you please get Lady Heather up? Horatio Caine. I don't care if she is asleep. Because my boyfriend overheard something and didn't hear my response. You will or I will be out there within hours. Then we'll end up having a fight. Now, is she up or not?" He was put on hold and then a sleepy voice came in. "What Xander overheard was not the full conversation, Lady Heather. He didn't hear me tell them to blow themselves." He listened to her complain. "Lady Heather, we are dangerously close to me screaming at someone." She said something. "I will be by tonight." He hung up and walked off. "I'll be back after I've talked to my lover, Speed. Take over."
"Sure," he agreed, nodding slowly. "Tell him to call me too!" he yelled after him.
"Of course. After we have a discussion." He slammed the lab's doors open and headed out to his hummer. Calleigh saw him and got out of his way. "Speed's in charge." He got in and slammed the door, making her wince.
His backing out made her shudder and run inside to see what was going on. "Speed?"
"Apparently there was a conversation where someone was pressuring Horatio to do something and he overheard. The conversation ended with Horatio telling them to blow themselves but Xander never heard that part." She whimpered. "He's hiding with Lady Heather and H is going to talk with both of them and Greg." He called Greg. "It's me. I'd duck. Now, what was the conversation he only heard half of?" He grabbed the table with a hiss. "No wonder he's been in a bad mood. When was this?" He sighed and nodded. "Which explains why Xander's not eating. He doesn't when he's upset or stressed. Keep me informed. No, he's not taking phone calls. H is *pissed*."
"He slammed the door on the hummer, he always babies his hummer," Calleigh said just loud enough for Greg to hear. "Tell the stepson to call us, please, Greg?" Speed grinned at her and nodded. She gave him a hug. "Thank you."
"Thanks, Greg. Just duck and stay out of the way for a few minutes." He hung up and patted her on the back. "Someone told Horatio he needed to be more subtle and choose one. Tried to blackmail him and threatened his job," he said a bit too calmly. "Said that he was going to be fired and they were going to find a way to take his pension and everything, plus discredit him in the forensics community."
"Greg didn't know." He called Eric. "Sit. Now. Someone's trying to blackmail H," he said when Eric joked. Eric apparently sat. "Xander overheard, he's out in Vegas. It's going to get messy. Calleigh saw him slam the hummer's door." Eric whimpered and he smirked. "Find Wolfe. Tell him." He hung up. "We need to find out who did this." She nodded, going to talk to Cooper in AV to see if it happened in the station. He leaned on the table and took a deep, calming breath, then he turned and threw a test tube at a wall. Ryan looked in, but stayed outside. "Someone's trying to blackmail H."
"Okay. Is that the purpose of the meeting with the Chief, with Stetler, or the one where he stormed out after talking to Ian?"
Speed looked at him. "You...what?"
He came in and closed the door. "The Chief called him down about four days ago. He didn't come out looking happy. They were down at city hall, I was down there dropping paperwork off to one of the offices about that arson." That got a slow nod. "Later that same day I saw him and Stetler having a meeting in the halls. I don't know what was going on, I saw it, looked for a second, then headed in the other direction. Then he had a meeting with Ian the day Xander brought lunch. He stormed out after dropping off the lists you guys made."
"Okay. Anyone else?"
"It's not like I follow him around," he said dryly. "I know Eric saw him with Stetler too. He mentioned it later that it was freaky seeing them speaking in the halls and looking almost civil."
"Xander left two days ago," Speed said, thinking. Calleigh came back. "He saw him with the Chief, Stetler, and Ian."
"We also have a meeting with the Fed over the labs." She put down photos. "Plus the Sergeant-At-Arms." She put down that photo too. "Plus we have him meeting with one of the patrol guys." She put that photo down. "I don't know him."
"I do," Ryan admitted. "He's the asshole who just transferred in and patrols around Xander's house." Eric stomped in. "So we have these three, Ian, Stetler, or the Chief."
Eric looked. "Okay, Wolfe, take Ian. I'll take the patrol guy. Speed, ask the Chief?" That got a nod. "Calleigh, charm the Sergeant-at-Arms. If it's none of them it's got to be Stetler or a fed." He walked out, going to talk to his assignment.
Speed looked at Wolfe. "He's good at this."
"I can tell." He walked off, going to find his person.
Speed called the office he needed. "Is he in? I need about two minutes to apprize him of a situation. Speedle. Thank you." He hung up and headed for a car to go down there.
Horatio walked into the Dominion, frowning already. The greeter looked at him. "Do you have an appointment?"
"I'm Master Tim's fiancee. Where is he?"
"Working, sir. Lady Heather is waiting in her office for you."
"Thank you." He headed that way, glaring at the person who got in his way. "Gloria." She opened the door and he walked in. "Lady Heather," he said, staring at her.
She stared back. "That will not work on me, Horatio. He was most adamant that he's not going to ruin your career." She sipped her tea. "I have tried to talk to him."
"That's my job." She inclined her head at that. "Where is he?"
"Learning something with Santiago. He'll be done in about ten minutes. Tea?"
"No, thank you." He looked outside then at her. "What he overheard was only part of the conversation."
"I'd hope so. He is still very fragile in personal relationships." She leaned back, looking at him. "Who demanded that you choose between your boys?"
"No comment." The door opened. "Santiago. My boy?"
"Back in his room. With the door locked." He stared at him. "He's incredibly upset that you're throwing your career away over him."
"He's going to be even more upset when I paddle him."
"Should you he will never let you have him again," she warned. He glared at her. "That would make you no better than the ones who abused him first, Horatio. Am I clear?" He nodded once and let someone lead him to Xander's rooms. She sighed. "That is going to be a loud fight."
"As long as it doesn't get physical they'll be fine. Xander can hold out if he's adamant. If not, he'll let himself be swayed." They heard Xander yelp and he looked out in the hall. "He'll be fixing the door, Lady Heather."
"Yes, he will," she assured him, taking another sip of her tea. "Is Gregory in yet?"
"Not yet. He's got to work tonight and Grissom said he needs him. He'll probably be in first thing tomorrow." She nodded, accepting that. "He is doing wonderfully with the advanced training I'm giving him. He takes very well to other methods of pain distribution. He's a bit wary of torture, with good cause, but he knows it's not the same as what he was given." She smiled at that. "Though he is still a bit too rough instead of using subtle movements. That will change with practice." He refilled her cup. "I'm going to retire for the night unless you need me for a special client?"
"No, darling. I thank you for helping our young one learn some new tricks." He smiled and let her stroke his cheek then he kissed her hand and left her alone to think and monitor what was going on in the boy's room via the video feed on the monitor in front of her. So far, he was just staring at her boy.
Horatio looked at the door, then used a well placed kick to get past the lock. He walked in and shut the door once Xander had yelped, hands on his hips, just staring. Xander didn't fidget. He wasn't nervous. He wasn't looking away. He was looking a bit ashamed and very tired, but confident. "You're wrong," he said finally. "You also didn't hear the rest of the conversation, Xander." Xander frowned at him. "If you had stayed a few minutes longer you would have heard me tell him to blow himself." He didn't move any closer. "My personal relationships come before my job." Xander just looked at him. "They do."
"They can't. Your career is helping others. It's like being a priest."
"It's not. Most priests don't have to shoot people now and then." He finally moved closer, letting his hands come off his hips. "I am not going to give into that pressure."
"Then everything you've worked for decades for is gone, Horatio," he said quietly. "At least Greg is in your field."
"So?" He continued to stare for a minute longer. "If it wasn't for you I would not be with Gregory. I do care for him but I am not looking at a long-term relationship with him because I feel some day he'll find someone closer to what he wants." Xander looked stunned. "You, on the other hand, I do see that with, Xander." He saw him swallow. "I do care for Greg. He's not the man I'd usually date. He's not even the sort I'd usually date. I don't often date people who're as playful as Greg is."
"So am I," he said quietly.
"You are. You also have a need to be the center of attention now and then, where I'd prefer a quieter existence." Xander's face fell. "It didn't stop me from moving in, Xander." Xander looked at him again. "On you it doesn't irritate me like it usually does with others. Perhaps it's because of your age, perhaps not, I don't know." Xander looked down at his lap so he sat down on the foot of the bed. "Look at me." Xander looked at him. "My career is important, yes. I will not deny that. The same as I will not deny that some cases are going to pull me from your side. I will not deny the important nature of my work. Nor will I lull you into a false sense of security about the fact that there's going to be some conflict about our careers now and then. I know yours is just as important to you as mine is to me." Xander nodded at that, still looking very serious. "I also know that your job has a lot more flexible hours and can get you called out of bed to help someone. Mine's not often like that except on vacation." That got another nod. "However, I am not going to give into pressure."
"He accused you of being with me for the money, Horatio."
"Xander, if I was in it for the money I'd have taken your grandfather in," he said dryly. "Or asked Raphael to turn me as well." Xander slumped and nodded. But that did tell him which one he had overheard. "I am not in this for the money. I like my current salary. I live well on it. I have lived well on it for a very long time." Xander nodded, looking at him. "Yes, having it can be nice, but it's a pain in the ass most of the time."
Xander nodded. "It is. That's why I try to live with what I make."
"I noticed that." He pulled him closer, making him look him in the eyes. "You are mine. I am possessive of what is mine. Am I clear?" Xander let out a small grin but nodded. "Not funny, Xander. If you're mine, nothing is going to take you away from me short of death. Not you, not Gregory unless he leaves us. Period. Am I clear?" Xander nodded, smiling a bit more. "That makes you happy?" Xander nodded. "Or just more content and feeling more secure?"
"A bit of both. I still don't want to tank your career, Horatio."
"Xander, if I have to, I'll go work for Mac. He can't discredit me for being gay. Labs are often the most tolerant positions within the department because we do get the odd lab techs. We got a lot of very smart people and that leads to a lot of very strange personality quirks. Ryan's about the average tech really." Xander nodded, swallowing some. "Most of them would congratulate me for you being so hot and young." He stroked some of the hair off his forehead. "Now, are you mine or not?"
"I'm yours," he admitted.
"Good. Then you worried your father sick."
Xander looked at him. "How many have there been?" he asked quietly.
Horatio sighed. "Three," he admitted. "As they're probably finding out. The one you heard, Stetler, and the Chief warned me to be more circumspect or else I would be relieved of command and retired. I do have enough years in to go now if I wanted but I'm not ready yet." Xander gave him a gentle hug. "I was going to mention it that night."
Xander nodded, settling on his lap. "I'm sorry."
"Next time, talk to me. Or else I will use your equipment on you." Xander shook his head. "Oh, yes, I will."
"You ever try and I am leaving, Horatio," he said firmly, looking at him. "You know very well why."
"I do. Doesn't mean the urge to spank you until you beg doesn't exist." Xander put his head back down. He sighed and stroked his back. "We have got to make some plans."
"I was going to start accepting donation requests next month," he said quietly. "When the money and everything was handed over." Horatio gave him a squeeze. "I've got plenty."
"I know you do." He considered it. "Why were you there?"
"I was bringing Ian something with his name on it that got sent to the house."
"Ah." He went back to cuddling him. "I'm sorry, Xander. I was going to tell you but you ran."
"I wasn't going to make you choose or destroy your career, Horatio. The world needs you."
"I can do just as much good teaching, Xander." Xander looked at him. "Really, I can. That's what I plan to do when I retire." Xander gave him a gentle smile at that. "Now. We should discuss this habit you have of running here."
"It's neutral territory and I wanted a last weekend with Greg before I sent him down to you."
Horatio gave him a squeeze. "You're mine, Xander. No one else's. If you run I'm letting Mac hunt you down for me. Then I'll let you and Speed have a fight." He gave him the cuddle he needed. "Why else did you come here?"
"Lady Heather gives good advice. Unlike Mommy."
"Good point. Did you talk to her?" He shook his head. "I didn't think you had. She would've yelled at lunch that day." He kissed him on the head. "Are you done for the night?" Xander nodded. "Good. Then we should make sure you realize you're mine." Xander looked at him. "We should."
"Greg's on duty."
"I'll make sure Greg knows he's mine later. This is between us." Xander nodded, giving him a trusting look. "Good. Have we heard back from Abby yet?" He nodded. "Is it?" He sighed and nodded. "Are we sure it's yours?"
"She is," he agreed quietly. "As far as the tests say. She had the needle in the belly button test." That got a small smile. "I don't know what it's called but that's what they did."
"Is she healthy?" Xander smiled and nodded. "Good. Have we talked to her about custody yet?"
"I don't mind if she has custody and we share," he offered.
"I would like that. DC's far away but not in another country. I also liked Abby as a person and I think her hyper nature will turn into a fussy, but good mother." Xander smiled at that. "Have we worked that out with her yet?"
"I was going to go up next month. With you if you wanted."
"I would like that." He kissed him again. "Now, let's go make sure you realize you're mine, Xander."
"I'm not wearing a collar."
"I don't want you to be mine that way." He tipped his face up. "We are equal, Xander. That's one of the things that I'm still working out about Gregory." He nodded, looking understanding. "How do you do it?"
"I can turn it into lover's games instead of a dom/sub relationship," he admitted. "I have had an offer of a hell of a lot of money to do that for someone." Horatio shook his head. "I know."
"Good." He stood up and made Xander stand up as well. "Shoes?" He slid into them. "Thank you. We'll fix the door later." He walked them out, nodding politely at Santiago's boy. "Tell him we'll be back later. We're going to take a walk and talk some more."
"Yes, sir, Horatio. Have good night." He smiled once they were out of sight, scurrying back to give that message, then heading down to the kitchen to get a snack for them. His master was very proud of him.
Horatio looked at Xander. "What was he teaching you?"
"Other methods of pain distribution. We went over cock torture tonight." Horatio shuddered. "Some people like it. The same as some people like breath play but I loathe it and refuse to play with that." Horatio looked at him. "Faith."
He gave his hand a squeeze before letting him into the rental car. Xander slid over from the driver's side and got comfortable. He slid in and stuck the keys in the ignition, heading down to figure out how he wanted to remind Xander that he was not alone and that he was not leaving him. That training did give him an idea. He went to the place where Greg said he had gotten his nipple ring done a few years back, parking and looking at Xander, who gave him an odd look. "Mine." He walked him inside, leading him by the hand. "This is my boy."
"Master Tim," the proprietor said quietly and respectfully, nodding a bit. "Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials."
"He won't. He's just moving in now."
"That'll be fixed as well," Horatio assured him. "I want to mark him as mine. That way he knows he's mine, he's not going to get to run when things get touchy in Miami, and I need something from him." Xander looked at him. "You do. You clearly need the reminder." Xander shivered. "Now. Your choice. Piercing or tattoo?"
Xander swallowed, looking almost frightened. "Horatio, in my world, that means you *own* me," he said quietly. Horatio kissed him and he moaned. "It does."
"It can also be noted as a symbol of marriage," the artist offered. "We do a lot of those here. Tattoos of each other's names. Identical rings." That got a small smile from Horatio, who led Xander over to the earrings he had. "Where is it going?"
Xander looked at him then at Horatio then back at him. "Non-ownership ones," he said firmly. "Pleasure piercing only."
"Well, there's a few of those. It does depend on what you put in it," he reminded him. "We can do matching nipples. Naval. I've done a few dual scrotal piercings for a newly bonded gay couple. It depends on how you see it, Master Tim."
Horatio looked at him. "He's worried that people will see his and not mine."
"Then I'd make it so it's one no one but you two will see, sir."
"He's Horatio," Xander told him quietly. He looked at Horatio. "Something hidden and naughty?"
"I can do that. As long as it won't interfere with chasing after suspects."
"Well, you can do a ball piercing that way. It won't matter. A buried treasure. Or a PA or amphlang piercing." Xander looked at him. "That's the one across instead of through the hole like a PA, Master Tim."
"Oh." He nodded. "Horatio? Honey?" He gave his hand a squeeze.
Horatio looked at him then at the artist. "Buried treasures are what?"
"Ow," he said, wincing some.
"It's fun to play with, hard to pull out, and hurts like hell at first but it's good pleasure later." Xander smiled at that. "Especially when you get blown."
Horatio looked at him then at the artist. "Agreed. Small gauge."
"Of course. There's not much room there." He grinned. "We've got some good ones that can go. I'd recommend a fully closing ring personally. That way you could switch out to a stone later on." He pointed at a few. "Those are good for that." Xander pointed at a blue sapphire set. "Those aren't really for piercing, Master Tim."
Horatio looked then at him. "You'd have to switch them out later if he can't pierce them, Xander."
Xander nodded. "I know. You can do mine and I can do yours."
"We can. Also, he needs to be wearing my name or mark. Somewhere subtle." Xander looked stunned. "That way he remembers he can come to me when there's a problem," he said, looking down at him. Xander swallowed.
"Scrollwork initials? Full name? Any particular body part or image?"
"If I do, you do. You like to be Superman," Xander said firmly.
"Across the lower back? Or the back of the neck, Xander?" Xander shivered. "Your choice. There or your thigh."
"Thigh," he said weakly. "It'll hurt less."
"That's fine," the artist agreed, letting them see the font styles he could use. Horatio tapped one. Small, delicate scrollwork. Not quite feminine but very delicate. "How big?"
"That size is good," Horatio agreed. "Around, across, or up and down?" he asked Xander. Who swallowed. He stared at him.
"Around," he said finally. "It'll be like a wedding ring."
"No, you're getting a ring when we marry," Horatio assured him. "The same as I am." Xander looked stunned. "Let's live together for a while first, Xander." Xander nodded, resting against his side, earning a smile. "The same for me."
"Of course. His actual name or title?"
"Actual. I'm not in the life."
"Then I won't weld them shut, Horatio. That's the usual mark of ownership." He led them into the back. "Go ahead and strip down, boys." He went to get the set they liked. "I can pierce with them but it might swell a bit. Are you sure?" Horatio nodded. "Okay." He got Horatio down first. That way the dom wouldn't feel so trapped. He was looking a bit panicked. "Take his hand, son. Say anything vowish you want."
Horatio pulled Xander down to kiss him when he saw the needle come near, gasping into his mouth. "Ow." Xander stroked his cheek. "I'm still going to make you unable to sit later for leaving like that and not talking to me," he whispered. Xander nodded, kissing him again. "Thank you." He heard the buzz start and looked at him. "Doing the tattoo as well?"
"Might as well since you're naked, son." He shaved the area and got to work on the boy's name. "Xander, right?" Horatio nodded. "It'll wrap probably about three times."
"That's fine." He went back to kissing Xander hard, making him relax. He had to wince a few times. Doing the inside of his thigh hurt like hell! But he was finally done and got it gelled and then covered. He stood up and put on his pants, then helped Xander into the chair so he could pamper and love him. "I'm going to come to you when I need to talk. I need you to do the same."
"I will," Xander said, turning his head when he saw the needle. "I hate needles." Horatio kissed him and took his mind off it.
The tattoo artist smiled, shaking his head slightly as he pierced him. Then he slid the ring in and fastened it. They were still making out so he prepared his thigh. "Like Horatio Alger?" Horatio looked down and nodded. "I can shrink the size of his font so it goes around three times. Otherwise it'll be two and a space." He got to work, letting him soothe his boy however he wanted. When he got done, Horatio handed him a card and he smiled, going to run it while he got his boy dressed. He came back with the slip for him to sign, watching as Xander did it for him. "Okay, now, no rough playing with the earrings for a few days at least. Gel the letters every few hours." He handed over a bottle of gel. "No soaking, swimming, or otherwise getting it wet. Cover it when you shower, boys." That got a nod from Horatio. "You're good to go then." He handed over the empty holder for the earrings. "So you know what size and gauge you're getting if you want a secondary ring." That got a smile and Horatio walked Xander out, taking him to the car. "They're so cute. Master Tim obviously needed someone to make him come out of the dungeon and play now and then." He tucked the slip into the register and cleaned up his area again. At least he hadn't had to weld those shut. Doing those would've been a bit tricky.
Horatio drove them to a small chapel, looking at Xander, who looked stunned. "Your choice."
"You said you're not ready."
"I'm not but you clearly want it."
Xander kissed him and shook his head. "I'm good for now."
"Okay. If you're sure." He drove them back to the Dominion, parking in the guest parking and getting out. He walked around to get Xander out since he hadn't moved. "Come on, Master Tim. Time for bed and a talk."
"Yes, Horatio." He looked at him. "You played with Greg."
"I did but that's for fun, Xander. Not for real for me." Xander nodded and took his hand, walking inside. They ran into Lady Heather. "Thank you for keeping him safe for me."
"Are you two staying for a few more days?"
Horatio nodded. "I'll fix the door tomorrow."
"Thank you, Horatio." She saw how they were standing. "Hmm. Promise rings?" Xander blushed and nodded a bit. "Naughty ones?" she teased.
"Mommy will shriek so loud you'll be able to hear her from Miami," he said dryly. "So will Dad."
Horatio smiled at him. "Speed could use a good yell this week." He smiled at her. "We're going to bed to talk."
"He knows where the supplies are, Horatio. Don't feel the need to abstain on my count. Not like I do." She walked off, going to see her next client. She knew exactly what the way they were both walking meant. It did make her very pleased. Horatio was going to take care of her little broken angel very well. He was more than stubborn enough to handle his worst instincts. Like running to her had been. She found her client waiting and looked at him. "Gregory."
He knelt at her feet. "I know he's here. I don't know what's going on and I'm giving them a chance to work it out since I heard they were at a tattoo shop I recommended."
She sat down, looking at him. "You know why he came?"
"I heard someone was trying to blackmail Horatio about us." She nodded. "I know he overheard."
"I can't tell you how they worked it out, Gregory."
"I know. I'm asking to take up a spot as his special boy for now. It's close enough to what I am for them." She stared at him. "I know Horatio's still uncomfortable with a trio. I also know that he enjoyed playing with me before I came back." He shifted some, wincing a bit. "Sorry, sore knees, m'lady. I had to get into a trunk to find evidence and ended up on top of the tire iron while I dusted for prints."
"It's understandable." She pulled him up to face her. "I know they've worked it out. They're together and walking quite oddly." He let out a small smile. She reached for the phone and called up there. "Xander, love. Gregory is here and wondering if you're ready for him to come talk yet." She smiled. "That's fine. I can have him with me." She hung up. "They're still talking and said your time comes in tomorrow morning. Until then, you can help me."
"Yes, m'lady. Thank you for humoring and helping us. I know it puts you in an uncomfortable position." He kissed her cheek then gave her a small grin. "Horatio spanked the hell out of me before I came home."
"Hmm." She stared at him. "Shirt off, Gregory." He took it off and let her look at his back. "Very pretty. Whips, a suede one?" He nodded. "How spanked?" He dropped his pants and she could see the faint bruising that was still there. It was good for having been so long ago. She ran a hand over it, making him hiss and shiver. "Good. Did you enjoy it?" He blushed and nodded, pulling his pants back up and hitching them. "Did he?"
He knelt at her feet again, resting his chin on her knee. "He rode me so hard I thought I was going to die, Lady Heather," he whispered. "It was wonderful. He shaved me, he cleaned me, then he finished with my back. He had me in the sling. Xander finished me off with his hand and then they had me again. They cuddled and then he and Horatio had at it." She smiled at that, stroking over his hair. "Grissom told me to go away tonight. I'm not sure why."
"I'm sure he'll tell you when you come back." She smiled and carded her nails through his hair. "Were you impudent?" He grinned and nodded. "Trying out the new dungeon for them?" He moaned and nodded, still grinning. "Then it sounds like it was good, that you got a full release."
"Oh, did I. I so did. I almost couldn't sit the whole flight, even with numbing cream on and in me." She smirked at that. "What can I do to help you, m'lady? Administrative tasks? Going to check on people? Name it and I'm yours until they're ready for me."
"For now, I need you to do a check. Short of Emil's boy, you're Top Boy in the house at the moment." He beamed at that. He kissed her on the cheek, then walked out without his shirt on. She called Grissom. "What is going on, Gil?" she asked quietly. "I know. He's here waiting to talk to Xander and Horatio." She smiled. "He was wondering, yes." She listened. "Why?" She growled. "Indeed? Should I have a talk with him? Or perhaps you could mention that he has a standing offer down in Miami?" She smirked evilly. "I believe I can do that." She hung up and stood up, smoothing down her skirt. She walked out and found Gregory retrieving stuff for the other doms. "Gregory?" He paused and looked at her. "Why were you suspended this time?"
"According to Gil you were. It came from Ecklie directly."
"Can I sue him now?"
"It depends on why he did it." He gave her a look. "He knows," she said flatly. He nodded. "Which relationship caused it?"
"At this point, I don't much care," he admitted. "I'm feeling vindictive and a bit Xander- like." She smiled at that. "But this time I won't drag anyone into the building." He kissed her on the cheek and went back to his delivery rounds.
She smiled at his back. He was so very lively. She went up to her office to call someone. She had some ... influence with the city now and then. "Sheriff," she said smoothly when he answered his phone. "This is. I believe you're about to have a lawsuit on your hand. Because, for some reason, Master Tim's boy was suspended without notice why." She smirked at his blustering. "He would like to know. So would Grissom. I called to ask him on the poor boy's behalf. I don't care which relationship caused it but I do feel you should be warned that he is about to sue your whole department for harassment." She smiled. "Exactly. That way you can diffuse this horrid situation before it gets out of hand and Gregory has to run to Miami for shelter permanently." She smiled sweetly. "Then I'll leave this to your good sense. Thank you, Sheriff, do have a good night." She hung up and waited. Gregory came in a few minutes later and knelt again, pouring her some ice water and handing it over, then moving so she could have him do whatever she wanted to to him. "Good boy, Gregory. Is everything all right?"
"There's two doing breath play. I didn't do more than glance in because that takes concentration. They didn't seem to need anything. The other areas I replaced towels, fetched supplies, and a few cloths for a mistress who broke open someone's back." She raised an eyebrow. "Mistress Eliana, m'lady."
She smiled. "She can be a bit firm now and then. Was the client complaining?" He shook his head. "Then I'll make sure it was for a good reason." She stroked through his hair. "I called the Sheriff to have him talk to Ecklie. I'm hoping he can have it fixed simply and quickly so you don't have to sue them, Gregory. That would lead to a lot of problems for you."
"I know, but if I've got to so they stay out of my private life, I will," he vowed. "I'm tired of the nosy people." She smiled. He sat on his heels, looking at her. "Mistress, how do I remind Xander that he promised me part of the proceeds from the assassin stuff? More came to light and he hasn't given it over yet."
"I'll remind him," she promised. "We'll talk to Horatio first." He nodded, going back to resting his head on her knee. Someone outside started to scream and he was outside in a quick movement to see what was wrong. He came back a minute later with someone in tow. "What happened?"
"My wife works here!" he shouted. "She's a whore!"
"Be more respectful!" Greg said firmly, glaring at him. "No one here sells sex!" he sneered. "But you obviously need a lesson in manners! Now, down!" He pushed him to his knees, then smiled at her. "Sorry, m'lady. He's rude and needs to calm down. I thought it better you handle him in here until his wife is clear and can join you."
"That's more than acceptable. His wife is?"
"With Master Steve, ma'am."
"That's fine. Make sure he knows to come in with her." Greg nodded and went to do that and then do another checking round. Someone knocked. "Enter." Horatio leaned in. "Gregory is checking things. When you are ready, you two will speak first."
"That's more than reasonable. Your assistant isn't at her desk and I heard screaming?"
"Marital dispute," she said, nodding at him. She smiled. "Do you know where the kitchen is, dear?"
"In the back?" he guessed. She nodded. "I'll have Greg show me when he comes back, then he can come sleep in our room later on."
"He can stay with me. For right now you and Xander need some time to finish working things out."
"If you wish. He's more than welcome to curl up with us. He is ours."
She nodded. "I know. He can help me tonight, Horatio. Go baby my student." He nodded and left. She saw him run into Greg and stroke his cheek, but say something quietly, getting a bright smile. "Gregory?" He looked in. "Show him the kitchen?" He nodded, leading Horatio down the back passages. Her master and she came in, looking calm and collected. "Good. Now, let us discuss this. Steven?" He smiled at her. "You can referee and answer any questions you feel fit." He nodded, sitting down next to her. "Please, let's talk like civilized beings. Because you have some misconceptions about this life," she told the husband. He snorted. But he would learn. Later on she would let Greg sleep on the foot of her bed, even though he did creep during the night to cuddle her stomach. It was adorable of him and very protective how he used her as a pillow so nothing could hurt her.
Horatio smiled when Xander woke up the next morning, holding up a strawberry. "Nibble?" he asked quietly. Xander lifted his head and nibbled on it, earning a smile. "Thank you. It's good to see you eat. I've noticed you don't eat when you're stressed out." He fed him another berry, then got cuddled. "We're fine, Xander."
"You're welcome." He stroked his back. "Do you ache like I do?"
"Oh Goddess yes," he moaned. "We can't soak either."
Horatio kissed him on the head. "We can easily take a warm washcloth to each other." Xander smiled at that. "Greg's around here somewhere." Xander frowned at him. "Ecklie tried to suspend him for being gay. Ecklie's also in trouble with their Sheriff. Greg made it quite clear he's going to sue him for it so he's backed off. Fortunately today's his day off." He took another kiss. "Want another one?" Xander moved to taste his nipple, then mashed a berry onto his nipple so he could lick it off. "That works," he moaned, shifting so he had a better chance of catching it before it ran and stained the sheets. Xander ate a few more before he made it to his cock. "Xander," he moaned. Xander moved back to lick at his new piercing. He whimpered, then screamed when the mobile tongue tugged gently on the ring. Someone knocked, making him pant and clutch the bed.
"Busy," Xander called. "New piercing." He got back to work. Someone knocked again so he got up, not caring that he was answering the door naked. He looked at the man waiting there. "Sorry to have woken you, Santiago."
"It's all right, Xander. Are you all right?"
He grinned. "We got matching piercings," he said sheepishly. "I was playing with his."
"Really?" He looked him over. "What got pierced?"
"Interesting bonding rings," he said happily. "I have Gregory with my boy for a while, until we work out."
"That's fine. We'll be down soon." That got a smile and the other man walked off so Xander closed the door and went to pounce Horatio again. "Let it out, baby. Just let me know if I hurt you."
"Not pain," he moaned. Xander went back to playing with the thin little ring, making him whimper, his eyes squeezed shut, his hands clutching the bed. "Xander, too much!" he begged. Xander went back down on him again and it was great. He came and went limp. "I'm going to pay you back soon. As soon as my heart quits pounding." Xander straddled him, holding out a strawberry so he could nibble. He smiled, taking a bite. "You have the rest?"
"Let me spoil you, my boy." He kissed him. He licked his lips then handed him the glass of juice Horatio had brought up so he could sip it. "That's my boy."
"I am," he agreed. "The same as you are mine." He put the glass down and moved the plate of berries. Then he pounced Xander. The boy's hot spots were well loved by him but this new one made him squeal and shake until he finally got off. "I do like that ring," he admitted, licking his cock clean. Then his stomach. "I definitely like our bonding rings." Xander gave him a smile so he kissed over the bandage covering his name on Xander's body. Then he moved up to kiss him. "What are we doing for Greg?" he whispered, kissing him gently.
"Up to you, Horatio." He stroked through his hair. "I'm sorry if that hurt you."
"Xander, that wasn't pain. It was like a live wire went from my cock to my brain." He took another kiss. "Do we want to mark Greg?" Xander smiled and nodded. "Do we want to mark him the same way?"
"I want it on his back."
"Are you sure? He might feel unequal."
Xander took a kiss. "He said his thigh's very sensitive after the explosion. He had some scars on the inside of it and he hates to have them touched. His back has more scar tissue but less feeling."
"If that's where he wants it I wouldn't mind," he assured him. "Do we want to do both our names on him?" Xander beamed and nodded. "Then we will. The earring?"
Xander moaned. "I'd love to see him pierced as my boy." Horatio smiled at that. "I will leave it up to him."
"Do you want him to have the same one?"
"If that's what he wants."
"You're going to leave it up to him?"
"He can have a scrotal piercing if he wants. Let's face it, that hurt like hell, Horatio."
"It did," he agreed with a small smile. "I'll let him know his choices."
"Can we make him get two?"
"If he wants," he agreed, smiling at him. "You want him to have one welded on," he teased.
"I do." He moaned and tensed up as he shifted. "Horatio?" He hummed and kissed him again. "Lube?"
"On the other pillow," he promised.
"I don't need breakfast."
"After breakfast. When you eat I'll reward you and do anything you want." Xander let out a soft whimper. "I will. Now, let's finish cleaning up." He got up and pulled Xander up with him, then into the bathroom. He gave his boy a very nice sponge bath, avoiding his thigh, and then let Xander do him. It did feel good. "Two weeks then we can soak again," he promised.
"Good. Can't wait." He licked up some of the rinse water, earning a shiver. "You sure I can't be taken now?"
"Soon, Xander. Let's put on some clothes."
"Clothes are optional. The only mandatory thing is shoes."
"I'm wearing clothes and I am jealous," he said dryly, pulling Xander out to find him something to wear. Xander pulled out a pair of soft flannel shorts, earning a smile for it. Then a t-shirt and shoes.
Horatio pulled on a pair of pants and a dress shirt but left off the suit coat this morning. He took Xander's hand and let him lead him down to the kitchen, nodding at the others. "Morning."
"Morning, Horatio sir," Santiago's boy said happily. He looked at Xander's thigh, then the obvious bulge on Horatio's thigh. "Oooh! Bonding marks!" he squealed, giving them a hug. "I'm so happy for you two!"
"Thanks," Xander said with a grin for him. "Someone had his happy pills," he teased. The boy laughed and nodded, getting them plates so they could eat off the buffet. Greg gave him a hopeful look so he nodded beside him, getting a happy boy of his own. He stole a kiss. "Good morning to you too, Greg."
"Thank you," he said, smiling at them. "When can I see?"
"When you get your own," Xander teased. Greg's face lit up. Horatio took his own kiss when it was offered. "But you don't have to do it exactly the same way we did. I know your thigh has problems."
Greg stared at him. "It would hurt like hell. It's got a few good pain surges now and then." Horatio gave him a look. "From the burns and the glass damage." Horatio nodded at that. "Where were we thinking instead?" Xander traced a line across his beltline, getting a moan. "Both your names?"
"We still have to get one of your name, if you want," Horatio said quietly. That got him hugged by a bouncy blond boy. "Plus your piercing can be shifted some if you're not comfortable with it."
"Where are yours?"
"Buried treasure," Xander told him. Santiago's boy's eyes went wide and he let out a small whimper. "Hurt like hell," he assured him, then he kissed Greg quickly. "I have to eat. Horatio said so or I can't squeal later." He dug in, making both his boys happy. Greg and Horatio talked quietly while they ate. Xander got done and pounced. It was a good breakfast.
Greg walked into the storeroom, pausing. "Paul?" he asked, moving closer. He flipped on the lights. "Paul?" He checked him and there was nothing. "Shit!" He checked his neck then headed out. Even though Lady Heather had put him into the store room/meditation room for his own good. "Xander!" He came out of their room wearing a towel. "Paul. I'm pretty sure he's dead. I need you to check him." Xander nodded, following him that way once he had on his shorts again. "I need to make sure he's not going to vamp," he said quietly. "She's had someone do that on the lawn."
Xander checked, then frowned. "Nothing on his neck but there's other places. Call 911, tell Lady Heather and Santiago." He nodded, going to do that. Santiago came running in. "Hold on." He paused at the doorway. "We need to check. For some reason Greg thought he might vamp."
"We have one being treated downstairs." He came in because he knew Xander wouldn't touch his boy without his permission. "Where am I looking?"
"His thighs." He looked at him. "Second most popular spot to nibble. Nearly gotten bitten a few times during blows."
That got a nod and he checked his boy's thighs, then did up his pants again. "Smooth."
"Good." He stood up and looked at him. "I'm sorry, Emil."
"It's all right, Xander. It's not your fault." Someone came running. "Police and CSI only," he ordered. "Shield the rest of the house." The guard nodded, going running to pass on that order. "I sent Greg to wake up Lady Heather." He let him go. "I will miss him. It took me months to teach him he had worth." He stared then turned and walked back out into the hall, letting Xander guard the door. He nodded at the team coming in. "It's late for you," he said quietly.
"Anything here we answer personally," Grissom told him. He looked at the body then at him. "Did you touch it?"
"Gregory checked for a pulse, he got me to check for bite marks," Xander said, coming out. "We checked his neck and inner thighs. Paul was Master Santiago's boy so he checked there."
"That's fine. After what happened a few weeks ago it's a reasonable worry." Greg came out in jeans and sneakers but without a shirt. "Finish dressing, Greg."
"I don't have a clean shirt here, Grissom. Sorry." He took the spare scene kit. "Am I unsuspended yet?"
"Tomorrow night." He smiled. "He is very sorry."
"Good. Means I won't have to sue." He moved Xander. "You and Master Santiago were in there, right?"
"Only us and you. He checked his thighs for bite marks." Greg looked at him. "It is a very easy target, Greg. Very, very easy and stunning when it happens. You wondered about those scars of mine. Blows in a club." That got a nod and he moved in to carefully start the documenting process. He looked at Grissom, then inside. "Which vamp is here so we can be absolutely sure?"
"Mistress Thom has him," Greg called. "Down in the basement."
"Thank you." He headed that way, going to intrude. He knocked first and the mistress came out. "I'm sorry to interrupt. I need the vampire you have to make sure Master Santiago's boy won't turn when you're done with him."
"We're about half done." She smiled and ran a hand over his chest. "Very well built, Master Tim." She let him see and he gaped. "You know my toy?"
"I do. He knows me as well." She looked at him. "When you're done please. If not, I can finish him for you."
"You can. Is he all right?" He shook his head. "Shit. Where?"
"Double shit. I know Lady Heather put Gregory in there because he was bouncing." He nodded, making her smile. "I'll turn him over to you, Master Tim." She let him into the room. "Toy, this is Master Tim. He needs you to check a boy who just died."
The vampire lifted his blond head, looking at him. "Whelp?"
"Be more respectful," she ordered, snapping the cane at his side again. "His name is Master Tim."
He grinned. "He knew me before I trained," he said gently. "Come along, toy." He got him undone and snapped on a leash and a collar. "We're going to check a recently killed body." He walked him out. "I should make you crawl, Spike."
Xander paused to look at him. "I am. I'm Lady Heather's personal student," he said smugly. "My boy and my husband are upstairs. We are going to check Master Santiago's boy then I'll take over your treatment." He led him on, letting him stand at the doorway. "Is he being turned?"
Spike sniffed. "I smell recent blood but it's more like a cut," he said, still looking a bit confused.
"He had a small anal tear during a session the other night," Santiago said from behind them. Spike gave him a look. "It was his treat to do what we did. He knew it could happen and accepted that. Any other blood?"
"Back of his head. It's farthest away," he offered. "Looks like his neck was gotten too."
"Thank you, Spike," Xander said. He led him to a work room and hitched him in, then leaned out. "Master Santiago, I had to interrupt his session. Can I borrow a few of your tools since mine are back in Miami?"
"Of course, Master Tim." He got him the ones he had borrowed last time, making him smile. "Please clean them."
"Of course. Would you like to help? He's used to torture."
"No, I've got my own methods of stress relief. I thank you for your assistance." Xander gave him a squeeze on the wrist and he went to watch. "Paul is my boy," he said when someone looked at him. "I'm staying."
"Of course. Is there anyone we should notify or can you?" Grissom asked gently.
"His family sent him away because he wanted to be an accountant instead of a minister in a religion he didn't believe in," he said quietly. "It took me months to undo what they did to him." That got a nod. "I can also tell you what was done to him recently so you can weed that out."
"Agreed," Grissom offered. He saw Horatio. "Your boy's with some blond vampire."
"Spike made sure he wasn't going to turn. We had one turn on the lawn recently," Greg said as he plucked something off. He put it into an envelope. "They said it was fixed, Horatio."
"Good. I would love to steal you to Miami full time, Greg. Remember that." He went to check on Xander. "Need anything?"
"I really want my blue cane," he admitted. "But I can make due." He swung again and Spike whimpered, making him smirk. "Stress relief."
"It's always a good idea if they agree," he said gently. "Come back when you're done so we can get Greg marked today."
Xander leaned closer to Spike's ear. "That's my man. The blond with the camera doing the body evidence is my boy. Still think I'm a whelp?" Spike sniffled and shook his head. "Safe word?"
"Thank you." He got back to work breaking Spike. It was hard work but he eventually made him break, cry, and try to fall to his knees. He got him out of the cuffs and sat him down to comfort him, then patted him gently. "Go wherever the Lady wanted you to go." He got up to clean the instruments, handing the ones he had borrowed back. "Thank you." He smiled at Mistress Thom. "He broke."
"You're good," she said in awe. "It took me three tries."
He grinned. "I know some of what happened to him before." That got a nod. "If I'm not needed?" he asked, seeing Lady Heather.
"No, dear. Go shower and change. Did you finish off her client?" Xander nodded, grinning at her. Spike wandered out and she cooed, stroking his cheek. "Go rest in the shadows until tonight, William. I'll talk to you then."
He looked at Xander then at her. "He's worse than Angelus with that whip."
"Thank you," Xander said proudly, grinning at him. "I'm very proud of my whip and cane skills." Santiago smiled at him. "I am. I worked very hard to be so good with them." He bowed to Lady Heather. "Let me know what I can do to help, Lady Heather."
"Of course, dear." Xander walked into his bedroom and closed the door gently, then they heard the shower. She smiled at Spike. "Go now, dear. This is a neutral zone. He will not harm you." He nodded, going down to the basement again. He definitely needed a nap after that. She looked inside then at Santiago. "I'm sorry, Emil."
"So am I," he admitted, giving her a gentle hug. "Gregory ran out of shirts."
"He doesn't get to wear one around here," she admitted. Greg blushed at that. "I see your bruises are still there."
"They're nearly healed," he promised quietly, getting back to work.
Catherine, who had come late, looked at his back then at him. "Didn't that hurt?"
"I wear it with pride, Cat. I teased my way into it; my Master and his mate both gave me what I needed and wanted." He picked up something else, holding it up. "Lady Heather, has this room been in use?"
"Not that I'm aware of," she admitted, looking at the panties he had found under the body's shoulder. "Hmm. Could belong to a few people." She walked off, going to ask someone.
Catherine looked at him. "You're serious about Xander and Horatio?" she asked. He grinned and nodded. "Enough to possibly hurt your career? I know it's not fair but it can happen."
"Someone tried that with Horatio. That's why Xander came out. He was giving him the chance to make a different decision," he said simply. "Ecklie does it again, I'm going to bankrupt the department," he promised. Then he smiled sweetly. "Anything else?"
"I'm happy if you are, Greg," she promised. "I wanted to make sure you knew it could happen."
He nodded. "I know. Very well." He handed over the bagged panties. "If we need it, I can get us the camera footage from inside and help with the questioning."
"I think you might be a bit too close," Catherine warned.
He looked at her. Then at Master Santiago. Who just smiled at him. "Gregory is one of the top boys in the house, ma'am. Due to this, even the Masters will answer questions for you. It will also allow you to talk to them off-premise. They wouldn't normally want you to bust them to their normal lives."
"So there's a hierarchy?"
"There is," Master Santiago agreed. "Lady Heather is at the top, of course. Then her personal students, Master Tim, myself, and one other who lives in Europe now. Then the other Masters. Then personal boys depending on where their masters sit by tenure, experience, and speciality. Then the general subs who are indebted to the house, then the ones who come in as clients."
"Interesting. So Greg's near the top of the bottom pile?" He nodded. "I'll keep that in mind if we need to talk to anyone."
"Lady Heather's personal minions do the security, assistant, and computer duties," Greg told her. "I can introduce you if Master Tim or Master Santiago can't. I can also ask the other subs around here when they last saw him."
"Go get someone who might know," she ordered. "Grissom is trying to get the tapes." He nodded, going to do that. She looked at the master hanging around. "Is he really happy?"
"That is a question for him to answer," he pointed out. His cellphone rang and he pulled it out, frowning. "What?" he answered. He listened, then growled. "You are not getting me back, Morris. As of this moment I'm on grief leave. Yes, for that reason. I would like to know." He snorted and hung up. "This had nothing to do with my career. Or so I'm told."
"You do what as a day job?" she asked.
He smirked. "I'm also known as Richard Estoban, CIA research division." She gaped in horror. "He is, or was, my lowly assistant researcher." He turned and walked off, heading back to his room to sulk. He ran into Xander, who gave him a hug. "I know. It will get better."
"We all grieve and sometimes the grief is harder than life." He looked at the boy. "My grandparents just passed. Most of Grandfather's people followed to be with them."
"I'm sorry, Xander. I had no idea," he soothed, giving him another hug. "Whatever I can do to help. You know that."
"Ditto, Emil. Ditto." That got a nod. "Go rest. You probably have a headache and I'm here in case the Lady needs us." He nodded, going back to his room to rest for now. Xander went to do another patrol around the halls but Lady Heather caught him and put him back into his room with a smile for Horatio. "I'm trying to help."
"I know you are. Stay in here, dear. Let your mate play with his new marks. It's probably time to gel them again." She walked off, going to do a patrol herself. She did not like the implications of this event. She found Spike staring outside from a shadowed window. "I told you to rest."
"I am," he said, giving her a smile. "The boy's good."
"I trained him to be that way, Spike." He gave her a look. "Xander is every bit a testament to my training. He is like my son now."
He nodded once at that. "I understand. Do the others know?"
"The blonde one had fits. The other knows and is pregnant." Spike gave her a horrified look. "Tara is married to the sweetest of men." That got a small whimper. She patted him on the hand. "You can catch up later. Go rest." He trudged off. She kept going, going to see if Xander knew how to capture vampires on film. Or maybe she'd write Willow personally since she was more technological about such things. She passed by their room, hearing the screaming in pleasure going on. "Ah, he is very good for my boy," she decided happily. Grissom and Catherine both gave her odd looks. "They got marked last night."
"I'm happy for them," Grissom said, smiling at Greg. "You remember your tylenol."
"Oh, I will. I'm hoping mine doesn't make me quite as loud."
Lady Heather stroked his cheek. "Only if you're lucky, Gregory." She walked on, going to inspect the kitchen area.
Warrick looked at Greg his first night back, noticing he was moving kind of stiffly. "I heard there was a case at Lady Heather's. You there all weekend?"
He looked over and nodded. "Yeah, there was an incident in Miami and Xander came up for some comfort. He hates to fight with his lovers worse than I do." He took off his shirt with a hiss but put it into his locker. Then he took two of the advil in there.
Warrick looked at his back then at him. "That's a nice one."
"Thank you. Part of our version of wedding rings. They got my initials added to their new ones too." Warrick stared at him. "Someone tried to blackmail Horatio into being straight again." Warrick slammed a fist into his locker. "Xander overheard and came up so he couldn't tank his career. So they both got earrings and their lovers' name tattooed around their thigh. Then my initials got added to those on them and their initials went on my lower back because, let's face it, it's a lower pain area for me than my thigh after the explosion."
"So, did you get pierced too?" Warrick asked, looking at him. The blush told it all. "If you get me tonight I'll keep you from having to bend too much."
"I'm okay with bending, it's reaching that stretches Xander's initials for some reason." He shrugged and pulled on a clean t-shirt. "Anyway, I'm back from my suspension for being gay." He grabbed his stuff and walked out.
"Excuse me?" Warrick called after him. He had thought Greg had just taken a few nights off. He finished getting ready and headed to Grissom's office. "Greg was suspended for being with his boys?" He looked up and nodded. "Are we going to have to guard him when he sues us?"
"Lady Heather called the Sheriff when she heard. It got fixed rather quickly." Warrick snorted at that. "So, is he in pain?"
Warrick grinned. "I take it you heard about the markings?"
"They were both there when Master Santiago's boy was killed. I saw Master Tim's on his thigh since he was wearing shorts."
"Mine's on my lower back and only aches when I stretch up," Greg offered from behind Warrick. "Nick walked in and flopped down on the couch then started to snore again. I'm not so sure he wasn't driving while asleep, Gris."
"I'll check on him. Did Master Santiago send you in with any information?"
"No, he said he'd come talk to you in person if he got any."
"That's fine, Greg. Since Warrrick knows about the new tattoo and I'm assuming piercing as well, you two can work together tonight." That got a grin from Greg and he headed to see if there were any new cases. "Where is it?"
"He only blushed, Gris. I can ask again," Warick shot off, heading after him. "So, new holes too?"
"I got my nipple reopened and it's got a filament thin ring in it and then the one I got for them. They let me switch where mine went since it hurt so much."
"What did they get?" Catherine asked as she walked up to them. "It was clear Master Tim had a new hole too."
"Buried treasure." Her eyes went wide and she whimpered. "Xander said it feels incredible."
"I'm sure," she agreed. No wonder they had screamed like that! She noticed Warrick's confused look. "That's between the scrotal sac and the penis," she said quietly.
"Ow," he whimpered. He looked at Greg. "Yours?"
"Hey, easier and probably less painful." Greg nodded at that, cracking them up. "Cat, he said Nick was probably driving while asleep again. He's in the break room."
"With a grumpy Hodges giving him bad looks for snoring," Greg offered. She hurried to take care of that. "So, B&E or dead person in a casino shower?"
"Casino. Look like a suicide?" Greg nodded. "Decent." He headed out with him. He wasn't going to cut Greg any slack tonight but he wasn't mean enough to make him cut down the body either.
Speed met them at the airport, looking at his son. "I should spank."
Xander gave him a look. "I don't want to hurt his career."
"You couldn't talk to us?" he demanded.
"Boys," Horatio ordered. "Home. We fight out of the public's eye." That got a nod and Speed followed behind them. "How was the lab?"
"Fine. The Chief understood about you going to the guy's funeral." He looked at his son's back. "Aiden went to pack her crap and move down here." Xander looked back at him. "She's decided to go medical. Less wear and tear with more standard hours." That got a gentle, happy smile. "Your dogs are all fine. Eric and I took care of them." Xander gave him a hug once they got to Horatio's hummer. "You should have come to me."
"That would've put you in a bad position, dad. You've got a career too."
"Yeah, and I used it to find out who had tried to blackmail him. Not happy campers by any means." Xander gave him a startled look. "The lab is a family, Xander. I know you're not used to families but we fight now and then. Even when we're fighting we stick up for each other. Even if Eric is being an annoying bastard, I'd have stuck up for him. I sure as hell am going to stick up for my son." Xander nodded, giving him a better hug. "Thank you. Have you two worked this out?"
"We did then we worked it out with Greg," Horatio agreed, getting in to drive. Xander slid into the back with Speed, earning a smile. "He could probably use a cuddle."
"I could." He buckled in and cuddled his boy. "So, what else happened?" he asked, patting his son's thigh. Xander yelped. "Uh-huh. Explanations?"
"We marked each other," Horatio said quietly, starting the engine and backing out of the parking spot. "Was the Chief upset?"
"Nope. Too many people doing the same job issues meant you can go to funerals." That got a smirk before Horatio put the hummer in drive and went forward so they could head home. "Tattoo?" he asked his son. Who was now bright red. "And a piercing?" he teased. Xander nodded quickly, hiding his face in his father's shoulder. "I'd like to see."
"You can see the tattoo but I doubt you want to see the earring," Xander said weakly.
"No, I don't believe he needs to see you that naked and exposed," Horatio agreed.
"You had my son pierced where?" Speed demanded.
"The same place he is, Daddy. Calm down. We agreed."
Speed looked at him. "He got an earring for you?" Xander smiled sheepishly and nodded. "Greg?"
"We let him fudge the area a bit. His thigh's really sensitive since the explosion so his tattoo is on his back. His new earring is on his balls."
Speed looked at him. "PA?" he guessed. Xander shook his head quickly. "The little bar that goes width-wise?" Xander shivered but shook his head again. "The one behind the balls?" Horatio snorted at that. "Okay, I give. Where?"
"Between the PA and the balls."
"Ow!" he whimpered.
"Very. Which is why we let Greg do one nearby," Horatio agreed. He pulled onto the highway and headed for home. "Eric took care of the dogs?"
"We helped. Calleigh wanted to play in the pool. She's having mermaid fantasies." Xander giggled. "I told her." He gave his boy a squeeze. "So, everything's good?" Horatio nodded. "We're all happy?" Horatio nodded again. "Great! Because all your stuff is at the house. Ryan arranged it all, including your office and closet. He said he's sorry if your suits are pointing the wrong way."
"He's very desperate to rent the house off me," Horatio said dryly.
Speed grinned. "He's got daddy syndrome so bad, H. He's fussy and hovering, plus celebrating every chance he gets." Xander grinned at that. "Willow can't walk at the moment. She threatened you'd be spanking him for that."
"I could. I'd give lab staff a reduced rate. While I'm at it can I spank the new girl?"
"No, Xander," Horatio ordered. "She's trying."
"To hit on Eric and Ryan. Willow caught her hitting on her man and said she wanted to turn her into a cat since she's only concerned with her...." Speed covered his mouth. "Sorry," he mumbled. "She does remind me of Anya."
"She does," Speed agreed dryly. "Boss, can we?" he begged, smirking when Horatio glanced back. "Please?"
"No magic in the lab," he ordered calmly. "I'll talk with Ryan to see if he wants to make a complaint. Am I in tomorrow?"
"Chief said no."
"I don't know," he admitted. "He was not happy when we went to see if he was the one blackmailing you." Horatio moaned. "Tough, H. We found all four of them." Horatio just nodded.
"Four?" Xander asked.
"Well, one wasn't exactly blackmailing, just pressuring really hard," he admitted. "So a quiet word got had in his ear. Loudly because Willow screamed at him, but it was just him and her that heard."
"You gotta love it when Willow protects you," Xander quipped. "The universe may end when she does, but it's always interesting." He grinned at his dad. "How're Tara and Don? I tried to call but they weren't answering the phone last night."
"They're in the guest room." He patted him on the shoulder. "Don heard. He was not a happy camper either." He sighed and nodded. "So yeah, he's down to pick out his own puppy for Tara." He gave him a kiss on the temple. "Now, let's see if I can figure out what the tattoo is of."
"Names," Horatio told him. "You can see it tomorrow."
"Sure." He winked at his son. "Think you could talk him into a few more?" Xander grinned wickedly. He loved his son.
"No. One was enough for me," Horatio ordered.
"Yes, H," Speed sighed, shaking his head. "Does it help with the sex stuff?"
"Lady Heather picked on us about being louder than the torture dungeon," Xander said, looking a bit proud.
"Man, Aiden's going to complain for months." Xander grinned at that and gave him a hug. "I know. It was instinctive. At least you didn't run somewhere we couldn't find you or anything. It's an improvement on where you used to be." Xander gave him a happy look. "Though Eric is still pissed. The TIVO was full and it missed a match."
Xander rolled his eyes. "He could've come to copy stuff off."
"I did it for him," he promised with a grin. "Eric's having 'only son' specialness moments again. They happen every few years."
"What did his mother do this time?" Horatio asked.
"She's back on her kick to get him married but now she's trying to look at foreign women."
Horatio snorted. "He'll never settle down." He pulled off the highway onto their road. "Have there been other problems?"
"One of the neighbors complained about all the visiting that's been going on in the family recently. I pointed out that Xander just lost his grandparents so of course the family was coming over." He looked at his son. "Clients?"
"Two of my federal ones got transferred recently. My PD ones still come up. I'm not hurting on clients, Daddy."
"Good." He grinned. "Did they like your vacation?"
"Yeah. I didn't have anything planned this week. I figured Mac was going to finish with the paperwork so I gave myself room for the migraine."
"Probably a good idea. I'm sure your guys understand." Xander nodded at that. Horatio waved at the officer going past them. "I still don't like that guy."
"He can be as anti-gay as he wants as long as it doesn't become an attack," Xander reminded him. "Not everyone likes gay people, Dad. A few of my potential clients decided they hated gay people too." That got a nod and a squeeze. "I'm fine." He grinned at him. "Did you get to see the new dungeon?"
"I did. It looks great, kiddo. The same as Horatio's office does. Ryan did a fantastic job of transferring everything over." He kicked the back of Horatio's seat. "You have a paisley shirt?"
"Not that I wear. Ray Junior gave it to me a few years back."
"We figured it was something like that," he admitted. Horatio pulled into the gate and it closed behind them so someone had been watching. A few of the dogs came over to sniff around the hummer's wheels but they didn't try to pounce. "Huh. You did good training them, Xander."
"Thank you." He cooed and all the dogs ran over to get affection, earning smiles and pets. "Love you guys too. Yes daddy does. Daddy loves you guys." His original dog made his way through and got a hug. "Hi, Thumper. Daddy's home. The Grandmommy Heather sends her lovies too." He kissed him on the head. Then he grabbed the bag and walked in, hugging Tara. "Hi."
"Hi." She smiled. "You're adorable with the dogs following you."
He beamed. "You can have one." She beamed back and went to tell Don. He found Mac in his living room. "Daddy didn't say you were here."
"I wasn't when he left. I magically appeared." He looked at him. "Don't even think about telling Stella she can have a puppy. We're not home that often."
"Then work less hours. They would like that." He smirked back. "Let me drop stuff." Horatio walked past him, taking the bag. "Sorry. Mac's here."
"I saw that. I'll be right back."
"Okay." He gave Don a weak smile. "Hi."
"Do I need ta smack ya upside the head?"
"Good! Much better." He took Thumper and put him onto Mac's head, then gave him a hug. Xander sank into his arms so it was a good, happy, relaxed boy he had. "Good boy. At least you listened to reason."
Speed nodded. "He even stayed where we could find him. I'm proud of that." He took Thumper from Mac's shoulder. "Leave his ears alone. Stella would be mad if he loved you more than her."
"Danny's the jealous one."
Don snickered. "Not hardly, Mac." He patted Thumper. "Good boy." The dog barked and ran outside to molest his rose bush for being such a good boy. "Tara made him quit trying us." Xander beamed at that. "We can have a puppy?"
"You can have two or three if you want." Don smirked and went to help Tara pick out which ones she wanted. He leaned on the back of the couch. "Everything settled?"
"Finally," he agreed, looking at him. "Want to talk in the office?"
"We can. Horatio?" He came down the stairs with one of the puppies. "In your shoes?"
"Pulled down some of your leather pants and was snuggling in them."
Xander nuzzled the puppy's face. "Daddy loves that you love his leather. Go see Auntie Tara, she's taking a few of you home." He put him down and the dog headed for the others. "Mac's done with the paperwork stuff."
"Sure. We can do that." He walked them into his office so he could check on it, finding it nearly the same as he had before. A few things got switched around to make it feel more balanced to him but otherwise it was good. He sat down behind his desk, Mac sat down facing him, and Speed and Xander got the couch. "How bad is it?"
"Well, they had a good plan. Fortunately Congress removed estate taxes as well." He pulled out a CD and tossed it over. "Run that please?" Horatio did. "Don!" He came up the stairs with Tara in tow, sitting in the other desk chair with her on his lap. "Xander wanted to go over this tonight."
"That way we get cuddles and you can have a vacation," Xander said. Mac smiled at that. "You could use one. You're a bit pasty again, Mac."
"I could use one," he agreed. He turned the monitor around. "All right. Xander...."
"Blue button. It's a projector." Horatio did that and they all smiled at the large, readable display being projected and how the laser pointer Horatio found on his desk moved the screen the same way the mouse did. "So," he sighed, looking at it.
"So," Mac agreed. "With the way they split it and the properties going to auction earlier this week. We were lucky we could put them into there, guys. Your friend up at Christies is very understanding."
"We put a lot of business her way," Horatio reminded him. "Her commission checks are fantastic."
"They have been," Xander agreed. "Is that in thousands?"
"Millions, Xander." He moaned. "But we did manage to do most of what he wanted already. It's all split up for you both. This is from the auction itself." They both scanned through it and nodded. "Horatio, can you open the file 'end'?" He did that and it came up. "Thanks." He let them see the easily understood spreadsheet. "That's what each of you has after the auction. You notice there's a few properties, there's a storage area with their personal effects. Ethan said you told him to take the occult collection, Xander?" Don looked over at him too.
"The Watchers were starting to bug me for it. Ethan can hold it, not use most of it, and annoy the fuck out of them for daring to come near me again." Tara smiled at that. "Did you get to meet Travers too?"
"Once," she agreed quietly. She reached over to tweak his nose. "Calm down."
"I am." He shrugged. "They're pushy bastards who use people like they're slaves."
"They do," she agreed. She turned back around and pointed at something. "What's that, Mac?"
"That is the personal effects Raphael left, Tara. He left them specifically for you. His former daughter's jewelry and clothes." She nodded slowly. "I've talked with his assistant Oz.... well, I talked and Oz said a little bit and agreed, so it's on its way out to you. It's a few trunks of stuff." She nodded at that. "Do we know Oz?"
"Oz used to date Willow," Xander told him. "He was at graduation with us."
"Ah," Mac said, getting the connection now.
"He also plays bass in a band and he's never been a great talker," Xander offered with a small grin. "I've got his band's stuff on the computer if you wanted to listen. Dingoes wasn't too bad."
Tara grinned. "I think the band's name showed a lot of creativity." Don grinned at her. "It does."
"I found the files surfing Xander's computer when that reminder came up. Speaking of, had to have Speed come dump the audio files, nephew?"
"The house has a wonderful surveillance system," Horatio told him.
"I guess it does." Don smirked. "Help you track that one?"
"Now and then it's helped a few things," Horatio agreed. "Even if Xander does have a tape of Speed singing Muppet songs while he was half asleep." Speed moaned. "Which I will be playing in the lab if he gives me more grief this week." He looked at Mac, then at the spreadsheet since he was giggling. The numbers were atrocious and nearly made him wince in sympathy. "So it comes down to this?"
"It comes down to this," Mac agreed. "I've got the formal auction paperwork in my bag for your records. I've also got Xander's check from Christies for the other stuff that went at the usual auction. She said he hadn't picked it up yet and she was worried. I told her the funeral and things had nearly destroyed him so he was hiding." Xander nodded that was fine. "These monies are in a holding account at the moment so she needs to have them cleared to regular accounts."
"I'm not sure my checking account won't have a stroke if you put it in there," Don admitted.
"You can put it in there then go to someone to see how you don't have to touch it, Don," Tara said gently. "They can put it in tax deferred stuff and everything."
"I like that. Taxes suck."
"Especially when you own your own business," Xander agreed. "I have to pay my own social security even." That got a look from his father. "I do."
"I'm sure you do." He smoothed down his hair then kissed him on the temple. "Can your accounts handle that?"
"No," he admitted. "I'll have to drag Mac into the bank for an hour tomorrow."
"That's fine, Xander. I expected that. That's why I'm down for four days." That got a weak smile. "So, can I have her transfer yours over tonight, Don?"
"Let me call the bank first," he offered. He got up, putting Tara back on her feet. "I'll let you know in a few minutes, Mac." He walked out with her beside him. "The bank will have a stroke."
"It'll be fine, Don. I know it will. Then you can buy your mom something totally spoiling." He grinned at her. "I'm already spoiled. I get cuddles."
"You do," he agreed, kissing her gently, then they went into Xander's office to call the bank. He came out and stared at the guy standing there. "How did you get in?"
"The gate let me in," Sheldon admitted. "Stella sent me down here. I got a death threat and she wanted me well away and to tell Mac myself."
"Up the stairs, Hawkes." He nodded, going to do that. He shrugged and went to call his bank's customer service people. "Hey, I need to talk to someone about a massive deposit that's coming in." That got him switched to a manager. No one wanted to deal with those sort of questions. He heard Mac moan and grinned.
"At least you can't hear things out of his work area," Tara said with a grin from Don's lap. It was her favorite seat and the only one she sat in if he was around and not in a grumpy mood. If she was in a grumpy mood she often had him sit in hers so she could cuddle him properly.
Xander came home from the bank and found Ryan in his foyer. "What's up?" Mac walked around them.
"Willow is going to drive me insane."
"She's pregnant, of course she is," Tara said as she came out of the kitchen. Ryan beamed. "No one knew we were down here?"
"No and you're the reason she's fussing." Xander handed him the puppy Tara had picked out for Willow. She had put a pink ribbon around her neck for her. "What's this?"
"A happy baby present."
Ryan blinked at him then at the dog. "Okay. I'm sure she'll adore him." He nodded. "Can you two please come calm Willow down? Or can I drop her off?"
"Bring her here," Don called. "We can fuss over the pregnant one."
"Thank you! She's driving me insane!" He walked out with the dog, going home. "I found Tara."
"Xander knew where she was?" She saw the dog and frowned. "What're you?"
"Xander said a happy baby present." He handed over the puppy, who licked her face and wiggled in her lap, making her smile. "Looks like it's a happy mommy present too."
"I love dogs." She nuzzled noses and earned a bark. "Good boy!" He flopped down beside her, head in her lap. "Very good boy. Xander's trained you very well." She settled in to pet him. "So, where is she?"
"Xander's. I heard Mac too." She smiled at that. "So, want to go over for a while?"
"Please? Packing is driving me nuts."
"Sure." He helped her up and the dog followed. "Sure, you can come too I guess." He drove them back over and watched his wife bounce inside, hearing the squeal of joy. Or of outrage, he wasn't quite sure. The last second had sounded like outrage. He got out and headed in after her. "Willow?"
"Thumper," she said, handing him Xander's dog. "He's being a butt again."
"I think that's the point," Tara said with a giggle.
"Actually, Thumper likes heads," Xander told them all. "Daddy said he's a blow job dog." Ryan snickered at that and Tara blushed and swatted him. "He did! He kept trying for Eric's ears."
"Mine too," Ryan agreed. He put the dog onto the floor. "Go play." He ran off. Willow's puppy stayed with her. "Good boy," he praised, petting him. He grinned at Xander. "I'll leave her with you for a few hours and go back to the packing and hefting." That got a nod so Ryan left.
"So, how's Don?" Willow asked.
"Out by the pool getting a tan," Tara said with a grin. She led her out there with the lemonade she had been making. Of course, his phone would ring so she brought it with her. "Yours."
He answered it. "Flack." He listened then he snorted. "Yeah, right." He hung up. "Your dad heard Uncle Patrick and them died."
"I'm sorry," she moaned.
Xander gave her a hug. "Mine are the same way. I still expect whoever's left in the family to come with a hand out."
"Your Uncle Rory is still somewhere," Willow offered. "But last I knew he was in jail for DUI again. So you'll have a few more months at least."
"Gives me time to finish hiding it," Xander said dryly. Someone came around the house, startling both girls. "Hey, Mayper. Come on over. This is my Uncle Don, he's from New York's department. His wife Tara is the blonde and Willow is Ryan Wolfe's wife."
"Charmed, ladies. Flack."
"Mayper." He grinned at him. "More bad news?"
"Just a bit." He looked at Xander and pulled out the envelope. "My contact in the FBI pulled this off a computer up in DC." He handed it over. "I'm not sure who the stalker is but he's an asshole. He said he's told someone up there who'd understand."
Xander looked at the candid photos of him swimming naked. "Huh. Interesting." He put it aside. "Okay. We can deal with that." That got a smirk from the former cop. "Did they give up for a week?"
"Not hardly. I know I'm quitting and Aiden's taking over for me." Xander looked confused. "She said so."
"Really? Okay. I'll hate to lose you. You threatened people better than anyone but my lawyers."
"Sic your lawyers on that guy, Xander," he ordered. He got an evil smirk for the suggestion from Wolfe's wife. He could like that spitfire. She'd helped him threaten a few of the idiots after the boy. "Anyway, I've got a whole bunch of stuff for Aiden. They're back to the basics. Sending cash."
"Because I so need more money," Xander said bitterly. That got a shrug. "Mac had to take me to the bank earlier with the last batch and the inheritance stuff."
"It happens, kiddo." He nodded. "Come help me get the stuff out of the trunk?" Xander whimpered. "Not that much. Separated out into who they were sent to. Just the last few weeks' stuff." Xander nodded, trudging that way. "How's your other boy? I saw Caine in a high speed chase earlier."
"He's good. He had a slight problem with a supervisor last week but otherwise he's good." That got a smile. "We've started moving closer to a real bonded relationship as well." That got a brighter smile. "But Greg's just fine. A bit grumpy today. He's pulling a double. I called him at breakfast."
"At least he's doing what he loves."
"He is." He looked at the boxes then at him. "Tell me you're joking?"
"Nope. Sorry." He handed him the few small boxes - ones that had held a case of printer paper before. Then he carried in the bag behind him with the box marked 'Greg'. They all went into his office. "Anything else?"
"Nope. Thank you."
"Welcome." He dug the list out of his pocket. "Here you go, the log file as well."
"Thank you, Mayper. I'm sorry I'm losing you."
"Eeh, the wife's happier because now she can go out and travel some more." He grinned and left. He had been right, it was the family making him give the duty to Aiden. They were very protective of the boy, but that did make sense. He checked the trunk then shut it and headed home.
Xander left everything in there and went to save Don from the babbling Willow was doing about being pregnant. Though Tara did have a dreamy look on her face. He kissed her cheek. "Can I be an uncle to your little Dons?" She beamed and nodded. "Cool." He grinned at Mac, who was chuckling in his own chair now. "Mayper just dropped off boxes of crap. Plus a blackmail file with naked pictures." Mac held out a hand so he let him have that. Mac snickered at what was in there too. "It's cool water," he defended.
"Xander, I doubt you ever have to worry about the sex stuff," Willow complained. "After all, you've got more than your fair share of men. That's one of the reasons Buffy was pouting, you were taking more than your fair share."
"Neither of my boys would put up with her shoe fetish," he pointed out dryly. Don laughed now. "She does! She drug me along to help her shoe shop. It took her *four hours* to pick out a pair of black pumps when they gave her three styles she liked! Even the salespeople were tired of her. Then she drug me bra and undie shopping. I don't like girls. Girls shop."
Tara patted him on the arm. "It's all right. She traumatized me the same way."
Don looked at his wife. "Unlike gay boy there, if you wanted to drag me shopping I will go and be very tolerant as long as you don't take that long to get shoes." She gave him a look. "It's not right that I have twice as many clothes as you do, Tara. I'm making you go shopping."
"I know this great shop she'd love down here," Xander told him. "It's right next to Horatio's suit shop."
Tara frowned at him. "I have plenty of clothes."
"No you don't," Don told her. "I'm your spouse and if I want to spoil you with pretty things, I will." She blushed but nodded at that. "Good! Can we get the address for later, Xander?"
"Sure." He gave him a hug. Then gave Mac a hug. "I left the crap piled in the office." His house phone rang and he grabbed the extension he had out here. "What's up?" He smiled. "Hi, Greggy. Are you finally done?" He beamed. "I did. I know I forgot but I was waiting for it to settle into the bank. So I did send it over plus some extra and a present for your pleasure." He beamed. "You did like it?" Greg babbled, they could barely hear it through the phone. Xander chuckled and grinned at Willow. "Cool. Yup, all yours. Now, if you're a good boy, we can use Horatio's new video feature on his computer your next night off. I thought I installed that." He frowned. "Please?" he begged. Then he beamed again. "Thank you, baby. Tara and Willow are here with Mac and Don." He handed the phone to Mac. "Greggy."
"I figured that much." He listened. "Hi, Greg." He heard the babble about what had been delivered. "Send it here or send it to Aiden. She's at home packing things. That'll work. Why?" He frowned. "Someone sent us stuff for Xander?" He shook his head quickly. "I'll call up there. Thanks. Need the girls or Don?" He smiled and handed the phone to Tara. "Happy Greg."
"Hi, Greg." She slid into Don's lap and grinned while she listened to him babble about what was going on and how things were. "We're good. Taking a short vacation with Xander. The inheritance stuff and where he ran off to join the circus." The rest of them could hear him laughing. "Are you being a good boy?" She beamed. "I can hear that. No, not having coffee for two days is a good reason to bounce, especially when it's Grissom's fault. Of course. We'll be here. See you soon, dear. Love you." She hung up. "Grissom took his coffee away for the last two days."
Xander beamed. "Greg needs his caffeine to control his ADHD, guys. Grissom's very sorry I'm sure." Mac snickered and nodded. "So, what did Stella get that she can keep?"
"I don't know yet." He pulled out his cellphone but Xander took it and handed him the house phone. "Are you sure?"
"I can afford the phone bill, Mac. Have phone sex. Make them happy." Tara giggled at that, dragging Willow off to play with the dogs.
Don looked back at him. "Danny would pout if they did."
"Doubt it," Mac said dryly. "Stella, me. Yeah, he's here. He's on a beach with Eric Delko at the moment staring at the women. Greg said you called to ask about protocol?" He listened, then he scowled. Then it got worse. Then he glared. "She won't take it back? At all?" Her answer didn't please him. "What did Hillbourne say?" He smirked. "That's about my reaction too. Send it down here by courier or DHL or something. That'll work. Thanks, Stella. No, I'm by the pool with Don and Xander. Tara and Willow went to play with the dogs." He listened. "Xander did offer us a puppy," he admitted. "We're never home though." He sighed. "I think a dog is a big responsibility and we're not quite at that stage yet, Stella." He heard the pout and mentally groaned. If he did it out loud she'd nag. "What did Danny say?" He smirked. Danny was sticking up for him. "We'll see, okay?" He smiled and nodded. "That works. Any idea what's in the box?" He moaned. "Thanks. Be back in a few days. Hawke's stalker?" He smirked. "I'll let him know." He hung up. "The person who gave it wouldn't take it back. They left it on her doorstep and she complained to IAB so Stella and Danny told him what was going on. He was confused but happy that they had tried to give it back."
"She can have it," Xander promised.
"No she can't. She doesn't need it. Please don't give Stella that one. Something more reasonable is fine, Xander." He shook his head quickly.
"So I take it it's a bad thing?" Don asked. Mac got up and whispered it in his ear, making Don burst out laughing. "Danny probably tried it on!" he giggled. Mac nodded and Don fell out of his chair.
Xander looked at him. "Should I worry?"
"No," he said, smiling at him. "It'll be fine, just an odd choice."
"Then why can't Stella have it?"
"Because she'd wear it at the office," Don laughed. He gave Xander a hug. "It'll be okay." Horatio came around the house. "They kick you out again?"
"Lunch." He gave Xander a kiss. "What's going on?"
"Stella got sent one of his presents," Mac told him. Don burst out giggling again. "Greg did too. Stella tried to give theirs back, even left it on her doorstep and walked off when she sent it back. The woman complained to Internal Affairs. Hillbourne was not amused."
"I am," Don offered, grinning at them. "You just have to see it, Horatio." He got up and dusted off, going to pounce his girl and make her squeal and swat him. He grinned. "Hi."
"Feeling ignored?" Willow teased.
He stuck his tongue out. "My levels of Tara are getting low. I needed to top them up." He gave her a cuddle and a kiss on the neck then went back to the boy's section. "So, how's work today, Horatio?"
"Stupid people who held up a bodega," Horatio said dryly, walking Xander off. "We'll see you guys in a few minutes." Xander gave him a look. "I have to top up my levels too. Eric's giving me a headache." Xander grinned and pounced once they were inside.
Mac and Don both looked at the house in awe when they heard the squealing going on in a definitely deeper voice than Xander's. "What did they do?" Don asked.
Tara coughed and came to kiss him. "Piercings, dear." She went back to Willow and the puppies.
Don saw the look on Mac's face. "If you asked, Danny probably would," he offered. Mac scowled at him. "He would. Stella might too."
"I don't need my lovers to make that sort of noise, Don. It's scary."
"Only when you're in the same room as them," Don said with a grin. Xander squealed and then they heard a thump. "Sounds like Horatio found a way Xander *can* go into the kitchen without poisoning someone." Mac swatted him again. "Thank you for handling Uncle Pat's stuff, Mac. I know it's a pain to do the yearly stuff."
"It's fine, Don. The small salary is a nice addition and it's fun watching Xander think about what he's going to do with it."
"The pound," Willow called. "He likes kids and animals."
"Uncle Pat was big in gay charities," Don called over. "So some'll go there too."
"I'm sure Webber will be getting some," Mac said dryly. Don grinned at that. "How are they?"
"Great. Tara made them brownies the other day and went over to see if she could help. A few of them hit on her but the rest of the kids loved her for the brownies and Webber said she was a good stepmommy to the horde they've got there."
"How many kids?"
"About twenty-seven. They're living in a dorm system." That got a nod. "It's working for them, Mac. They're safe and all that."
"Good. I like that." Xander wandered out and curled up in a chair with a sleepy, sated smile. Then they heard the hummer start and head out again. "Looks like lunch is over." Xander burped then giggled. Mac and Don both rolled their eyes and went to help play with the dogs. He needed to before Stella had him bring home Thumper. Because that dog was just ...wrong. He checked on him, he was humping a spiny plant and looking happy about it. Yeah, that dog was just wrong.
Aiden parked her U-Haul and got out, heading into the house. She paused when she heard the squealing, staring in confusion. "What the fuck?" she breathed.
Eric coughed and shook his head. "Your son. Horatio's doing it to him."
"How? I've never made that much noise in my life."
"Now you know why I protested the noisy sex," Willow said from the couch. Aiden gave her a look. "I appreciate it more now but Xander's really loud."
Aiden walked up the stairs, tapping on their bedroom door. "Baby, I'm back," she called. Horatio yelped. "We can hear you two outside."
"Thank you for letting me know," Horatio called. "Let us know if the cops come this time." Then something hit the door. "Have a good night, Aiden."
"Sure, son-in-law." She walked back down the stairs, giving the upstairs a worried look. "What are they doing?" Speed got up to whisper in her ear. "Ow." He nodded. "But apparently good for them."
"Part of their bonding set," he said with a smug look. "That and a small tattoo band."
"Wonderful. So I take it they're good?" He nodded. "Good. Which room am I taking this time?"
"Same one you had last time. He never changed your sheets." She nodded, going to get some of the stuff out of the truck and carry it up there. He sat back down and looked at Willow. "What's wrong, Ryan too sore to pounce?"
She pouted and nodded. "I hurt his back again," she said miserably.
"Maybe you should ask Xander how to use the straps better," Eric teased. She glared at him. "No straps?"
"No! I'm not pervy like that! Neither's Ryan."
"Maybe he should hitch you down so you can't hurt his back when you pounce," Speed said. She blushed at that. "Uh-huh. Eric, what's coming on?"
"Oooh, regional semi-final of the soccer season." Willow sighed and got up, heading out to go home. "Huh." Aiden came back down. "Watching naked soccer with us?"
"If I stay up there I'll embarrass them by having fun from the noises." She sat down. "Naked soccer? I thought it was naked hockey."
"It is. Same teams, different season," Speed told her. She smirked at that. "Xander told him if he wanted the tapes to come copy them off the TIVO himself when he complained one match got eaten."
She shook her head, patting Eric on the knee. "It's all right. Some day you'll quit being such a pervert and settle down, Eric."
He smirked. "Not anytime soon."
"You never know. You too could end up like Ryan."
"I'd never let him marry Buffy and that's Xander's last female friend," Speed told her. "Remember, friends don't let friends date Buffy. Her guys end up dead or evil."
"Point," she agreed. "Did you hear she was dating one of the commando idiots?"
Speed nodded. "Doesn't really surprise me. She likes predators." He shrugged. "Anyway," he sighed. "Dinner's in the fridge. Xander got a bit upset so Horatio went to cure that."
"The present someone sent Greg for him."
"Ah. He called me about that. Was it pretty?" Eric pointed at the box so she pulled out the collar and belt harness with studded stone strands between them. "That's ...gaudy," she decided.
Speed nodded and smirked. "Definitely. Greg took a picture of him wearing it too." He handed it over and she giggled. "He said Catherine tried it on but he didn't get to take a picture. He handed it to her to log in and then went to pace outside. Brass was amused though. Grissom suggested Xander could give it to Lady Heather but Xander pointed out she had better taste than that. Grissom chuckled." She put it back into the box and shut it. "There's one coming down from Stella too. That one she even left it on the woman's doorstep. The lady called IA about them being that way."
She shook her head quickly. "Damn it, I need to get those pictures out of my mind." She looked around then kissed Eric until he had to clutch the couch. "Thanks, dear, worked well enough." She sighed and changed the channel to the one that had played naked hockey. "Game's about to start," she said when Eric continued to pant. He took the remote and turned it up to try to drown out Xander and Horatio. "It won't work. Xander's in a whole new category of noisy, even before his boy marked him that way. He kept up a few houses back in Sunnydale just by himself."
"Doesn't really surprise me," Eric said dryly, then he swatted her. "Next time warn me enough that I can at least use some breath spray. I need to brush my teeth."
"That's fine. I'm used to it." She gave Speed a pointed look.
"You're the one who kept jumping me whenever I had Thai food." Eric gave him a horrified look. "Back in Sunnydale."
"Is Cal okay with that knowledge?"
"Yeah, she considers me Speed's ex-wife," Aiden said with a grin. Someone let out another squeal. "Shut the hell up! You're drowning out Eric's porn!" she yelled.
Speed shook his head. "Now you know why sometimes I look at Calleigh and wonder why she doesn't yell."
Eric nodded. "Yup. A lot." Someone knocked and he got up to answer the door. "Hey, Prestons. The noise of sex or Aiden?"
"Her and them, Delko," he sighed. Someone shouted and he shook his head. "Can't they use a gag or something?"
"Probably not," Eric told him. "I'll go complain."
"I can if it'll make them stop."
"Nothing will make them stop." He let him inside and pointed. "Up the stairs. First room."
The officer walked up there, tapping on the door until Horatio opened it. "Sir, we've had six different calls to 911 about someone screaming over here. Your neighbors aren't sure you're not killing someone. Since it's clear you're not, or else his father would be hiding your body by now, might I suggest you go somewhere and get something to keep him quieter?"
Horatio gave him a look. "We'll try to keep it down."
"If they move I'll buy their land and expand ours," Xander called. "That way I have beach access."
Horatio looked back at him. "No, Xander." He looked at the officer again. "We're very sorry. Tell her he's fine. Thank you for the warning, Officer Prestons."
"Next time I have to come out here I'll have to cite you, Lieutenant, so please don't make me see you naked again." He walked off, heading back to his car to call his boss. "Sarge, told him to please find a gag. Saw him naked too. Delko made me tell him myself." He hung up and went back on his patrol. Sometimes it was all danger from the boy's stalkers and sometimes it was kinda fun, but some days he just needed a drink after shift. He did not want to see the ultra-scary boss of the crime lab naked. Ever. Or his boy. Ever. Though the kid's mother was hot....
Horatio growled at the boys in the living room, and Aiden. "Did you have to send him up there?"
Speed looked at him. "He wasn't going to go away this time, H. He's already been here twice. We thought about offering him coffee." Horatio walked off and slammed the door. The squealing was quieter this time so apparently someone had a pillow at least.
"Hey, we can hear the game again," Aiden said. "Good job, boys." She smiled at them. She frowned, tipping her head to the side. "Doesn't it hurt them to run like that? It would me."
"That's Calleigh's complaint," Speed admitted, eating some of the popcorn he had made. He handed it to her. "Here, wife."
"Thanks, hubby." She ate some and let Eric have a few pieces. "If you wank off in front of us, I will have to laugh, no matter how well built you are," she warned him. He gave her a horrified look and she grinned. "I'm tired of dicks. I just got finished working with four of them. Let me tell you, both the women in that group were bigger dicks than even Speed has. Or the son. Who I've seen naked and was very impressed by."
"Gets it from me," Speed joked dryly.
Eric whimpered and shook his head. He set the game to shut off when it was done and went to Calleigh's to make sure she was still normal. No wonder she sent Speed to his son's all the time.
Calleigh walked into the morning meeting the next morning, smiling at Horatio before she gave him a hug around the shoulders and a gift certificate. "Because Eric said you needed that." She patted him and sat down. "So, how's our lab?"
"Four more weeks," he said, looking at the gift certificate. "Eric got me something for Artie's?"
"He said you know Artie." She gave him a look. "Something about noise, unable to watch the naked soccer match without having bad thoughts, cops who complained a lot...."
He coughed and ducked his head, then nodded. "Consider it a honeymoon."
"You two can go somewhere nice, warm, and without people around to scare with the noise," Eric complained when he came in. "Between you two and Aiden..." Calleigh giggled. "I see you know why." Speed smacked him on the back as he walked past him. "How much longer before we have our own lab back? I feel like I'm camping on someone's couch." He flopped down. "Use that well, H."
"Oh, I'm sure I will," he agreed.
Speed looked then smirked at him. "Hey, many possibilities there." He sat down. "How much longer?"
"They said four weeks before the construction's finished and our stuff was moved back. That gives us two days for the paint to dry." That got a lot of smiles. "Okay, since I had to take off so much time due to the funeral and Xander taking an unexpected run to Vegas, it's someone else's turn to have some time off." Ryan strolled in looking content and smug. "Willow?"
"Is that a statement of fact or of post-sex haze?" Eric taunted.
Ryan looked at him and smirked. "While you might want naughty details, I don't need to brag, Delko. Real men with great women don't have to."
"I'm sure she's happy," Calleigh said, looking at Speed.
"Don't look at me, I don't brag. I can't keep up with Xander's stories."
Horatio looked at him. "He's been bragging?"
"No, but he and Greg got into a discussion of technique one day using you as an example." Horatio blushed at that. "Fortunately at the house with Patrick there." He shook his head quickly. "Okay, who gets today off?" Ryan raised his hand. "Why?"
"Because I'm still having back cramps from where she pounced me. Sorry, Horatio."
"It happens, Mr. Wolfe."
Eric nodded. "We had the cops over last night. Three times."
Ryan shrugged. "Been there, done that a few times. Officer Markin is very nice when she stops over. Makes some coffee, gives us this patient sigh."
Speed looked at him. "This from the girl who hates noisy sex?"
"She gets off and all the stoplights within three blocks black out for a few minutes. But a few noise complaints now and then."
Eric looked at Speed. "We're sure Xander doesn't have any more female friends, right?"
"Anya, his ex. She's up your alley, Eric. She's scary, loud, likes sex, likes to brag and talk about sex. She's cute too." He opened his wallet and found a group picture, handing it over. "That's the night of prom. The brunette is Anya."
"She's pretty," Eric offered, handing it back. "I don't want to date one of Xander's female friends. It's bad enough your ex molested my mouth last night."
"Aiden's a lot of woman to handle," Speed agreed dryly. "But then Xander would be your stepson."
"No thanks. I like the kid, he's a nice guy, he spoils us rotten, but no thanks. I'll stick with being friends."
Calleigh grinned. "It'll be fine, Eric. Things will settle down in a few days. They always do."
"Speaking of honeymoons, Willow wanted to know when you guys were doing an official ceremony instead of just tattooing him. Though she did say it was cute."
"We're not setting a date yet," Horatio told him.
"Sure, let us know, H. That way we can help," Speed promised. That got a smile. "What's on the plate for today?"
"Two B&E's, one tagging case, and a car theft that needs to be processed." That got nods. "We've got two of the native techs on leave today, one's a doctor's appointment and the other had a sudden urge to run to Vegas to get married. So we only need two of us today."
"I had yesterday off," Speed reminded him. "That means it's Ryan's and Eric's." That got a nod. "Have fun, boys, and remember your cells."
"Of course," Ryan agreed, standing up. "Let me know if you need me, Horatio." He headed out, rubbing his back. The Chief gave him a look when he passed him. "It's my day off, sir. I came in for morning briefing. Too many techs in the lab."
"Is that an injury, Officer Wolfe?"
Ryan looked at him. "No, sir, twenty-six week pregnant wife."
"Oh! I understand. I have three children of my own," he promised, patting him on the back. "Go take care of that." Ryan smiled and headed off again. He walked into the meeting area. "We're all going part time?"
"It helps the budget and solves the problem with too many techs in the building," Speed told him. "The others are listed as being on-call."
"If that works for you. Horatio, I need you to walk through your lab today." That got a nod. "Where's Crissy?"
"In her office with some Tylenol." His boss spotted the gift certificate then stared at him. "We stated to bond, it's a well-meant present, sir." He put it into his wallet. "Sorry."
"Sometimes you need those places. Carry on." He walked off, trying hard not to think about those things. "Crissy?" She looked up from her paperwork. "How are things?"
"How much longer?"
"Four weeks at the most." She smiled at that. "Is this rotation working for you?"
"We love it, sir. We're getting actual time off." That got a smile. "They jump in to help us with our cases. I adore his staff even though they are hogging my lab."
"At the most four more weeks, Crissy. They wanted Horatio to do a walk-through today. Mr. Wolfe just went home rubbing his back."
"Yeah, he's got a young, pregnant, pretty wife who pounces." That got a smile. "Then again, Caine's got the same thing but the male version." She shrugged. "The boy brings us lunch now and then." She smiled. "We'll be good as soon as they go back to their own lab."
"Soon. Let me know if you're going to have problems."
"Of course I will. Right after I yell at Horatio in the halls." He nodded and headed off to do more rounds to check on things. "Must be time for a new evaluation." She went back to her paperwork.
Xander walked into the lab, looking confused. "Stella sent something here for me?" he asked the receptionist.
"Your father said to go back to the office." She got him signed in and gave him a pass. "There you go, Xander."
"Thanks, Polly." He handed over the box of donuts, earning a smile when she took one. He walked on, letting Prestons have one since he ran into him in the hallway. "Because we vex and annoy you."
"Thanks, kid. Just be more quiet now and then." He walked off eating the donut. It was good. He had good taste in pastries. A few minutes later his whole unit looked up at the screaming going on. "Aw, hell," he complained. "In the lab?" His boss gave him a worried look. "That's Speedle's son." He stomped that way, finding the boy ranting. "What now?" he demanded. Xander handed over the box. "Why did someone send you a crown?" He looked at him. "Are you a princess?" he asked dryly. "Going to do drag?"
"No! It was one of my present-wielding asshole fanclub!" he said hotly. "Some woman sent that to me and won't take it back! She turned the officer bringing it back in to IAB up in New York. She's an evil bitch and I'm not a princess!"
"You're not," Horatio soothed, getting him sitting down. He took the box with a head shake. "Sorry. These people upset him."
He nodded. "I've seen some of the others skulking around your house, Lieutenant." His boss walked up behind him and coughed. "Someone sent Speedle's son a Miss America style crown, sir."
"Interesting." He glanced inside the box, then shook his head. "Maybe he can donate it to charity or something."
"I want to donate her body to science," Xander said coldly. "Do you think anyone would mind, dear?"
"No, probably not," Horatio offered. "I'll call Mac to see if we can talk to the deluded woman, Xander." He nodded, continuing to glare at the far wall. "Sorry he alarmed anyone."
"No, sir, if someone had given me a tiara, I'd be upset too," the sergeant offered. "I'll let my guys stand down. Any other shocks?"
"Not in that box," he offered. "There's still one other one." He opened that one and frowned, flipping through the photo album. He coughed and handed it to Xander, who scowled at it. "That's not from Lady Heather, correct?" He shook his head. "I didn't think so." He took a deep breath. "Thank you, gentlemen. I'll keep him calm."
"It was kinda funny, Lieutenant. Prestons here knew exactly who screamed." He walked off with his officer behind him. "They're that loud?"
"The next door neighbor is over six hundred feet from the other edge of the house and she hears them all the time, Sarge," he admitted. "His bedroom's on the other side of the house from her too. Plus they seem to romp in the backyard now and then." He shrugged.
"It'll work itself out. They're on their honeymoon or whatever gay guys call it when they do their union things." He went back into his office to make a note of what happened.
Prestons saw all the interested looks. "Someone sent Speedles' son a Miss America crown. He was protesting he's not a princess." He went back to his backed up paperwork before his shift started. Then he'd have another night of watching someone sneak around the kid's place.
Horatio flagged down Prestons on his rounds, handing over the thermos of coffee. "What people sneaking around?"
"I thought it was one of his grandfather's guards."
"They decided to go with him into the afterlife to guard him."
"So, like the kid's cult?" he suggested.
Horatio shook his head. "Patrick helped most of them off the streets and things. They were all incredibly loyal." He looked at him. "How many different beings have you seen?"
"Three I think. Usually it's after dark and I only see a shadow moving around." He topped up his coffeecup. "Thanks for the refill, Lieutenant."
"The gas station makes crappy coffee. Speed said so. Three different forms?"
"One looks like a woman from behind. The curvy, swaying movement. One's clearly a shorter guy. I think he might have a ponytail, not really sure. I thought I saw a hint of it once. Another's a tall guy, really skinny. Looks like a light pole." He looked around carefully then pointed. "There's the short guy." Horatio nodded and headed that way so Prestons parked and got out to follow. There was the very real possibility that he'd need backup.
Horatio tapped the guy on the shoulder, getting a horrified look in return. "And you are?" he asked calmly.
"I belong here," he said. "Master Tim is mine!"
Horatio snorted. "I'm Horatio, his fiancee." The man glared at him and attacked but Prestons caught him and put him down. "Thank you."
"Figured you might need backup. If there's people who're bad enough to send the boy a crown, they're obviously stupid enough to stalk him." He got him cuffed and standing. "Know him, Lieutenant?"
"Not a bit," he admitted. "Have fun with him, Prestons. Keep the thermos and I'll get it back in the morning."
"Of course, sir." He walked him off, sticking him in the back of his car. He called it in to dispatch so they could route another officer out here for a while. He sipped the coffee and looked at it. "Good coffee, but flavored. Definitely fully gay." He drove them off, heading back to the station. His boss met him at the door. "Caine didn't know about the guys sneaking around the estate. This is one of the three."
"The others are heretics. They only want him to be pretty and pout. I want him to be a real man!" the man complained, struggling with the cuffs.
"So you don't want to take him up the ass so he makes the same sort of squealing noises he does for his fiancee?" Prestons asked dryly. The man growled and lunged at him but he stopped him easily enough. "I'll take that as a yes." He walked him into a holding cell, going to do his preliminary report. He could fill in his personal information when the guy was no longer growling or struggling.
The Sergeant shook his head and went to light up again. "One of these days I'll have to find a different way to deal with the stress Caine's boy brings to my people." He took a puff and felt calmed. The guard walking the outside of the building gave him a dirty look. "Caine's boy has a few stalkers wandering around his estate now and then." That just got a nod and the guy lit up himself, finishing his watch route.
Xander walked into the headquarters of one of the gay charities he liked to help out with, a box under his arm. He nodded at the few guys he knew. "Hey, Miss Priscilla in?" They pointed to where she was. He walked that way, giving her a one-armed hug. "This is for you from my grandfather's estate," he said, handing over the check. "He liked that I donate to you guys." He handed over the box. "Hand that to whoever does the drag show state pageant. One of my asshole stalkers sent it to me and I'm clearly not the queen some of those ladies are." He walked out, heading back to his car. He still had to drop the check for the pound off.
She opened the box and gaped, pulling out the tiara. "Is this real crystals? They sparkle very well."
One of the board members took it to look over then stared in awe. "It's diamonds," he breathed. They all stared at it. "Oh my God." She took it back and carefully set it into the box, closing and taping it shut. "That's incredibly generous. He apparently appreciates our drag community, Priscilla."
She smiled. "That was Master Tim, Patrick Benis' grandson." They all smiled and she opened the check, letting them see. "We can put this one around. Usually he donates anonymously since he's dating a cop."
"That's very generous," they agreed. Six hundred thousand would go a long way to helping them meet their future goals and to keep their project running for many decades to come. "I'll start on a press release," he said, getting up to do that.
She carefully carried the crown out to her car and to a jewelry store she liked. "Can you appraise this? It's a donation to someone and they'll need it for tax purposes." The salesman smiled and nodded, taking the crown to look over. Even he gasped at the prettiness of it. It was a small fee but it was good and she knew her sisters would appreciate that gesture. She took the box and the forms with her to the person who oversaw the pageants. "Here, someone sent this to Father Benis' grandson for some reason. He wanted the state pageant winner to have it." She handed over the paperwork when the woman gasped. "He doesn't do drag."
"This is beautiful." She looked at the forms then at it. "It's real?" Priscilla nodded. "Damn," she said in awe. "I'll have it locked with the regalia and scepter." She carefully carried the box with crown back inside into her office. Then she came back out. "Father Benis had a grandson?"
"Master Tim. He donates to the shelter fund every few months. He handed over that and a large donation in his grandfather's name."
The other drag queen smiled. "That's so great. Is he gay?"
"He's dating cops so he does things quietly." That got a knowing look. "Plus he's a dom. He's a sweet guy but he's got a few stalkers. That's who sent that to him." She stood up. "He wanted you ladies to have it. Use it well, sweetie." She air-kissed her cheek then left.
The head of the drag pageants went to fondle the crown. It was an incredible gift and the other states would be *so* jealous of them.
Tara found the letter Patrick had once sent to Don's father for after he died, putting it on Don's dresser so he could deal with it however he wanted. It had taken her months to read the one her mother had left for her so she'd leave it up to Don for now. All she could do was cuddle and love him.
The End. One more in this series.