A Family Affair

Horatio looked at the evidence they had been able to gather about the case that was getting his lab subpoenaed.  Since it hadn't been their case they'd have to hunt and search out evidence to figure out what was going on, and the hints he was getting was not making him happy.  He got up and went to talk to Speed, pulling him into an unoccupied lab.  "Speed, can you do what Mac did and check a grave?"

"No."  He shook his head.  "I have no idea what he was doing.  I can ask Danny.  Why?"

"Something about this trial is not sitting well with me.  I need to check a few graves."

"You can't think...."

"I can think," he said quietly, knowing what he was thinking from a lot of practice.  "Please?"

Speed called Danny to check, shaking his head.  "He doesn't have a clue.  He can get Mac down to do it for you."

"Do it tonight.  Quietly."

"Got it."  He repeated that and nodded. "Danny said he said okay."

"Thank you."  He went back to his office.  Something was not adding up about this case and it was not going to make him a happy person.


Danny coughed and looked at Mac across the lab.  "Heard from Speed this morning," he said casually.  Mac looked at him.  "You know that thing that you did before the meeting?"

"Which meeting?" Stella asked.

Danny looked at her.  "We're not going there."  She glared at him.  "Speed said so," he mouthed and she shrugged, turning back around.  He looked at Mac then cracked his neck with a sigh.  Mac nodded at that.  "He needs someone ta deal with that matter tonight.  After work."


"Not a clue."

"Okay.  I can do that.  I'm trusting one of you to tell me why later."

Danny shrugged.  "Ask the man in person.  He wanted a meeting."

"I can do that later."  He sent a quiet thought at him, getting a 'not now, in person' and left it there because Horatio sounded like he was stressed.  So Mac went through the day wondering what was going on.  He knew Danny and Tony were both helping the lab in Miami with some sort of legal problem.  He caught Danny at lunch.  "That legal issue is what?"

"They're being called in on a case they never handled."


"We're not sure.  It's something they should have but they didn't.  It's starting to look like a power play, possibly about Speed.  Ryan's worried sick at the moment," he said quietly.

"What do they know?"

"Almost nothing.  They managed to find what the case was about, some minor facts.  Nothing substantial about why they want the lab and Horatio specifically.  Or Ryan specifically.  We're not sure which they're targeting. He's massively upset though.  He's gotten more anal retentive.  Even Scrubby is complaining," he said, glancing around then back at Mac.  Mac simply nodded.  "So he needs silence on this, Mac.  Something huge is going on and we're not sure what."

"Okay, I can handle that," he agreed, smiling at him.  "Who am I checking?"

"I don't know," he admitted.  "Speed's got ideas but he said with Horatio's state of mind it was better not to ask until we had a better idea."

"That's fine. I understand that.  I'll go early if I can."

"One problem with that.  You've got that budget meeting."

Mac moaned and nodded. "We'll figure it out."

"You told Stella you had ta go this time.  That you'd already pissed him off by havin' ta cancel due to cases."

"Point."  He walked off, stopping to get some juice on the way for lunch.

"Eat more'n that," he called after him.  "Or else I'm telling Stella!"  Mac sent him a dirty thought, and definitely not the sort he liked.  Danny heard Tony and Speed snicker at that, telling them why.  Then he got to smack Tony's mind for calling him a mother hen.  He was no one's mother and he was staying that way!


Horatio looked up as a familiar figure walked into his office under a cloaking spell.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  I figured you didn't want everyone to know."  He sat down across from him.  "Tell me where and I'll go, then we'll talk."  A slip of paper was passed over and he took it, then got up with a nod and headed off with a pop.

Horatio finished off what he was supposed to be doing, feeling Mac working some light magic through the bond.  Then he felt the answer.  He knew it.  He finished one last thing then got up and headed out to find him.   He found him at the grave, then looked at him.  "No?"

"No body," he agreed quietly, glancing around.  He had let the cloaking drop so he could do this.  "Or the other ones nearby."  He looked at him.  "You really should pull up Speed's headstone.  It's bad luck."

"He said he wants it there."  He gave a small shrug and sighed, shaking his head.  "We all encouraged that one but he said it could stay."  He moved closer.  "Who else did you check, Mac?"  He pointed at another one.  "Any idea how?"

"No.  There's blood of his but no body in there."  He glanced around again.  "We're under surveillance."

"I know who's doing it and I believe they're behind this suit as well."  He looked at him.

"Track him, Horatio.  Something's seriously wrong."

"Then what?"

"Then, we make plans.  Remember, we're not alone.  We have other sneaky people with us.  Including Gibbs."  Horatio smirked at that and walked off, letting Mac do whatever he wanted.  "Hey, Horatio, Danny said Ryan's worried?"

Horatio looked at him.  "He is?"

"He said even his helper's worried and fussing."

"I'll check on him.  Thank you, Mac."

"Anytime.  You know we're stronger together, Horatio.  It took nearly forever for me to learn that.  Don't be that stubborn."  He smiled and walked off in another direction, heading to get dinner.  He needed something decent for dinner since he had missed lunch.  Not that he'd tell Danny that.  He'd nag again.  He got an 'I told you so' from Danny and Stella both and sighed.  Sometimes the bond was a bad thing and others it was a good idea.  But right now, he needed time to just be Mac.

Horatio went to Ryan's house.  He stared at the windows for a minute.  One was open and he could smell the bleach already.  He walked up the stairs and knocked, making the house elf squeak when she saw him.  "Scrubby, where's Ryan?"

"Cleaning the open apartment next door, Horatio sir.  Manager asked him to.  Scrubby offered but Master Ryan is being fussy human and worried so he use stinky stuff again."

"Thank you."  He went over there, going to stop him.  "Mr. Wolfe."  Ryan flinched and looked up at him.  "We should talk."


"Nothing you did brought this on."

Ryan dropped the scrub brush and looked at him.  "Prove it."

"It's about my brother, Ryan."  He walked in and opened another window, then pulled Ryan out into the hallway, glancing around before Ryan sighed and put up a shield.  "Thank you.  You are better at that than I am."

"What's going on?"

"You've heard rumors about my brother?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah.  We all have.  I figured some of what I heard was rumors and blown up and some wasn't.  I don't care what your brother did or didn't do, Horatio."

"Good, because he's not dead."  Ryan blinked and had to lean against a wall.  He put the shield back up for them.  "No one but you and I know this.  This was a federal sting."  Ryan nodded slowly.  "He's not in his casket.  Neither is John Hagen."

"We're sure?" he asked, strengthening the shield since he heard his neighbor moving around.

"I had Mac check," he admitted.  "He knows how."

"Then I'll start working on a finding or scrying for Hagen and your brother.  Damn it, this is the time I could use Willow if she wasn't a flake half the time."

"Yes, but we have others who know how to do such things.  Including Tony and Danny," he reminded him quietly. "Above all else, this must be kept absolutely quiet."

"I agree.   It has to be."  He straightened up, looking at him.  "If I can get something of theirs...  How would I get something of Hagen's?"

"Ask Calleigh."

"But, with that restriction...  I can't memory wipe her, Horatio.  She doesn't do well under them."

Horatio smirked.  "Which means you tried."

"Twice now.  She caught me doing something semi-ethical magically to check on someone else."

"Really?" he asked, smirking just a bit.  Ryan grinned.  "You'd tell me?"

"I can't tell you.  He made me promise."

"Which means it was Eric checking on his sister."

"You bet."  He shook his head.  "She's at a plateau.  I'm not sure what we can do to help.  I'm not a healer."

"I know, Ryan.  We'll do what we can to help."  He smiled at him.  "Start tonight.  I'll get something from Calleigh.  And from my brother."

"Your nephew's blood, Horatio.  It's the best and easiest."

"Agreed."  Horatio lowered the shield and Ryan lowered his.  "Bleach can lead to burnt lungs, Ryan.  You should be using a respirator with as much as you're using in there.  We don't have time to have you sick."  He walked off.

"I want invited to the next fun game."

"Agreed.  Not a problem."  He smiled as he walked outside, heading to see Calleigh first.  He tapped on her door, getting a confused looking blonde woman.  "We need to talk," he said quietly.  She let him into the house.  "Calleigh...."  He looked at her, frowning a bit.  "There's an anomaly."


"John's grave."  She sat down, staring at him.  "We're very sure he's not alive," he offered.  "We're just not sure where he's actually buried.  I need something of his to compare so we can find the body."  She got up and went to get something, bringing it back.  "What's this?"

"He licked the envelope.  I want the letter back."

"I can do that."  He stroked her cheek, staring down at her.  "It'll be fine.  I promise it will be."

"What's going on?"  He continued to stare.  "You promised us when we got Speed back that you were going to trust us, Horatio.  We're too damn close not to trust with the bigger things."

"The court case has to do with Ray," he said quietly.  She gave him a helpless look.  "We're handling it. That's how we found out."  She nodded, sitting down again. "I'll get this back to you as soon as I can, Calleigh."

"Are you going to do whatever?"

"Ryan is.  That's part of his school of influence.  We'll be watching over his shoulder."  She nodded and he left, going to store that in a bag.  Then he went to talk to his sister-in-law.  He found his nephew alone and sighed.  "Raymond."  His nephew looked over.  "We need to talk."

"Sure, Uncle Horatio.  Come see what I've been doing."  He led him back to his room, showing him the illusions of posters on his walls.  "Am I in trouble?"

"No.  But I need something."  He looked at him, then listened to the rest of the house.

"She's getting groceries."

"Thank you."  He sat him down.  "We've found what we think is your father's DNA somewhere it shouldn't be."

"Another half-sister?"

"No.  Nothing like that, that I know of," he promised.  Ray relaxed again.  "But I need something to compare it to."

"So you need my DNA to compare?"

"Both ours."

"Okay, what do you need?  Cheek swab?"

"I'm having Ryan check, Ray."

"Gotcha.  Blood."  He got under his bed and pulled out a small trunk, pulling it up and onto his bed.  He pulled out a small altar set and set it on his desk, praying to it. Then he picked up the dagger and made a small cut up his under-forearm.  He gathered it into the small gold plate, then handed it over.  Horatio smiled and sealed it properly.  "That enough?"

"Perfect, Ray. Thank you.  Need me to do the healing spell?"

"If you do, it can warp the blood."  He stood up and grabbed a bandage to wrap it up.  "You'll tell me?"

"I will.  Once I know."

"Before my mother?"

"If I can," he promised, patting him on the head.  Ray smiled and nodded. "Thank you.  You're becoming a great man."  He walked out, finding Yelina in the driveway.  She looked at the plate, then at him.  "Do not yell," he warned.

"Why not?  What is he doing?"

He put it into the hummer.  "He gave me a sample to compare to a DNA sample we found recently."

"Another bastard?" she demanded.

"No," he assured her calmly.  "Nothing like that."  She gaped.  "Trust me."

"No!  I want answers."

He pulled her closer, staring her down.  "In this case, I'm still working to find them, Yelina.  Your son gave me what I need to rule out something fantastic that shouldn't have happened," he said quietly.  "Let me do what I can and then I'll come to you with information."

"How long?"

"Hopefully not more than a few days," he assured her.  "If not, a week or so."  She grimaced at that. "We're trying as fast as we can."

"Do not tell him, Horatio."

"He asked and he's not an innocent child, Yelina."

"Whose fault is that?" she demanded, getting free.

"His.  He misjumped."  He stared her down again.  "Even if he hadn't he still wouldn't be a child, Yelina.  You and I both know all this warped him well beyond his physical age.  For now, let me do what I have to do.  When I have answers, we'll see what I can do and what we can do together."

"Take him home tonight."

Ray came to the door with his trunk.  "I can agree with that, Mom.  You need time to destress.  By the way, the soup's still warming.  I added some more bullion cubes."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "When you're calm again, call me.  I'm going to be taking cooking lessons from Taps."  She snorted and glared at him.  "Mom, if his DNA was found somewhere that wasn't another child...."  Horatio covered his mouth and gave him a look.  He nodded that he understood.

Yelina swallowed and looked at him.  "Is he right?"

"That's what I'm trying to find out."  She nodded.  "Still, Ray can come stay with me tonight."  She nodded, getting the groceries out.  "When you're calm, call or come over."  He got into the hummer, letting Ray put his things in the back.  "We've got to stop at Ryan's."

"Not like I mind, Uncle Horatio."

"Thank you for being reasonable."

"She's not real good about shocks."

"I've noticed.  It's been too much together."  He backed out and headed back to Ryan's.  He found Tony and Speed in there with Eric helping and Marisol fussing in the kitchen with the herbs.  He handed the gold plate and the bag to Ryan.  "She wants that back."

"Of course.  Everything I can do to save it," Ryan agreed, looking at Ray.  Then at Horatio.  Then at Tony.  Who smiled and nodded the kid over to help him.  "Thanks, Tony."  He looked at Horatio.  "I need yours too just in case."

"Of course."  He took off his jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves, taking the knife to do what his nephew had.  He winced a bit but then again he cut deeper.  "That's very sharp."

"It is.  I believe in surgically sharp knives.  It's easier to keep them sterilized."  He grinned and gathered up the blood.  "Someone come wrap this for him."  Eric came over to do that while Ryan went to start the scrying.  Tony and Speed took the other parts of the triangle since he had a triangle shaped pool to do this in.  A few drops of the blood and a short chant later a picture slowly floated up, making Speed hiss.  "Is that him?" he asked.  Horatio came over to look, nodding at that.

Ray looked in the pool.  "Can I kill him, Uncle Horatio?"

"No, Ray.  You can't.  I get to kill him and then your mother.  Then you."  His brother looked up and he smacked Ryan on the head. "Too deep."

"Strong blood."  He backed the scrying off, letting them see the surrounding areas.  "That's here.  I recognize the hotel."

"As do I."  He stopped his nephew from moving.  "Ray, we have to wait.  He's still under," he whispered.  "It could endanger his life and your mother deserves at least one good slap."

"She deserves to cave his nuts in," he said firmly.

Horatio smiled.  "She probably will.  Once she comes out of her shock and realizes about Madison."  They shared a look and he led him back to the pool.  "How soon?"

"He was made last week," Speed offered.  "We're going to deal with it."  He shared a look with his boyfriend.  Which was a strange thought.  The water churned and Speed clamped down on it.  "Sorry, Ryan."

"That's all right.  You guys go talk about this.  Keep Ray Junior calm in case he leaks or something."  Horatio and Speed both shuddered but they went with Eric to talk with the boy in the bedroom and make emergency plans.  He scooped out the drops of bloody water, cleaning the pool.  "We have another one to do," he told Tony.  "Quietly."  That got a nod so Ryan clipped a piece of the envelope out, then a small edge of the letter that had something that looked like tear drops.  He dropped them in and Marisol joined them to help scry him.  They found Calleigh eating ice cream and he forced it to refocus on the lesser sample.  They found a body.

"Is he alive?" Marisol asked.  "He looks dead."

"I don't know," Ryan admitted, moving something closer to him.  Having bugs around him was nice.  He encouraged one to bite the body, making him shift and moan.  "Horatio!"  He came out to look.  "He moved when the bugs nearby bit him."  He did it again.

Horatio watched then nodded.  "Find him for me.  Tonight."  They pulled back the scene, starting to sweat now.  He took over for Marisol, handing her to his nephew and taking her spot.  The picture picked up strength.  "Can he hear us the way Ray could?"

Ryan looked then at him.  "We can make him hear us, Horatio."  That got a nod.  He and Tony chanted something different, making Marisol gape.  "Whisper to him."  Horatio bent down to whisper into the picture, getting a blink and a nod.  "Not much longer, boss."

"Release it," he ordered.  He looked at his nephew.  "Stay here for now."  He hurried out.  He had given him orders of where to meet him.  He had his wand.  He was going to know what was going on.  Or else someone was going to be begging.  Including Alexx.  He found him sipping a milkshake looking confused.  "John?"

"Horatio."  He put his cup down.  "Don't ask, I have no damn clue."

Horatio sat across from him.  "What was the first thing you remember, John?" he asked more kindly.

"Some pretty blonde girl who led me back.  I woke up in the coffin and got myself out."  He held out a hand.  "You can test me.  She told me some of that stuff was real."

Horatio ran a test over him and moaned.  "No, not now."   He sent a heated thought at Danny, getting the proper procedure for that test.  He did it again and it came up better this time.  "You didn't bring it back with you," he sighed.

Danny appeared up the pathway and walked over, looking at Hagen.  He cast a shield around them and then checked him again.  "He's not tainted with it.  He's safe.  He also wasn't raised.  They got him within minutes."

"Alexx?" Horatio asked.

Danny shrugged.  "Could've obliviated her.  It can be done, even on Calleigh."

"Calleigh," he said, straightening up.  "Is she okay?"

Horatio looked at him and nodded.  "She is.  I'm not sure that this won't ruin her, John."  He sighed and nodded.  "For right now, are you hidden?"

"I am but it's not very pleasant."

"We can fix that," Danny promised.  "Come on."  He took something out of his pocket and sent him off once it was a portkey.  He sat down so no one would notice that they were missing someone.  "What're we thinking?"

"I want to know who did that."


"He said blonde."

"No, that's Buffy," he sighed.  "She's a signpost for most everyone who's brought back that way.  Rosenburg's screwed in the karma stakes."  He looked at Horatio.  "The other issue?"

"He's alive," he whispered.

"I heard from Speed, finally."  He patted him on the hand.  "Horatio, remember, almost no one can get into the bond, except for maybe Dumass."   He stood up and walked off, heading to Ryan's to help out there.  He popped in and looked at Ryan.  "I'm more attuned to death," he offered.

"We don't seem to have a good handle on that around here," Eric said dryly.

"Willow," Danny told him.  "Just like she did Buffy.  I sent him to the garage."  Speed and Tony both nodded at that.  "Then we'll talk to Calleigh."  He helped clean up the mess and looked at Ryan.  "What can we do to help?"

"I'm not sure where we're going next."

"First, Master Ryan needs to go clean up stinky mess he made," Scrubby said firmly, swatting him on the back of the thigh. "You made stinky mess.  You go clean the other apartment."  Ryan sighed but went to do that.  "Stupid boys."  She went back to the kitchen, frowning at Ray and Marisol, who were cooking.  "You two will eat!"

"Of course I will," Ray assured her with a grin.  "I'm hungry.  I'm a teenage male.  I'm going to eat my weight in food most days."  Marisol snickered.  "You'll need to eat too.  You'll lose strength if you don't eat."  He patted her on the back.  "Or else I'm going to tell Eric you're pregnant."

"I am not!"

"Yes you are," Speed called.

"She is what?" Eric demanded, stomping in.  "You're sicker?"

"No."  Ray Junior shook his head, draining the meat he was working on.  "She's not sicker.  She's fine on that spectrum, Eric."

Marisol glared at him.  "I thought you said you wouldn't tell him."

Ryan came in and frowned, looking over her.  Then he grinned.  "If it makes you happy."  He went back to cleaning the other apartment, making the guys smirk at his back.

"If what makes you happy?" Eric asked impatiently.  She went pale and he frowned more.  "Mari?"

"Um....."  She backed into Ray, who hugged her so she'd calm down.  She looked at him.  "You're very strong."

"It comes from Uncle H."  He let her go and got back to helping the house elf cook dinner.  "Maybe you should take her back to the bedroom to talk in private, Eric."  Eric drug his sister off by the hand, making the others laugh at that.  At least until he screamed 'What!' and then they laughed harder.  Marisol came running out and hid behind Tony, making Ray Junior giggle.

Tony looked back at her.  "I don't mind but if he gets that mean I'm sending you to Gibbs."

Eric huffed as he came out.  "Who?" he demanded.

"I'm not telling you."

"You are or I'm going to be far, far away when you tell Momma and Poppi."

Marisol winced.  "I'm not going there yet, Eric."

He snorted.  "I'm calling Momma within an hour if I don't know."

"You wouldn't."

"I would," he countered, staring her down.  He even pulled her from behind Tony but he pulled her back and put her back behind him.  "She's my sister!"

"And you've scared her enough for the night," Speed said patiently.  "Call your mother, Eric."

"Meany," she complained.

Speed looked back at her.  "Yeah, and?"

She huffed and came out, taking the phone from her brother's hand.  "He's overreacting, mother.  I'm fine."  She hung up and looked at him, glaring some.  "I'm going to turn you into a chihuahua."

"You do and Horatio will be pissed," he said dryly, staring her down.

"I find he makes a better beagle," Speed offered.

"He can change form?"

"No but I changed him a lot so I could use him to pick up women in the park," Speed said with a grin.  "They all petted him and I got to chat them up."

"That's unethical," she complained.

"Only marginally," Tony assured her.  He looked at Speed, then at Danny.  "Think I could do that to Ziva?"

Danny looked at him.  "She'd bite."

"Point."  He shrugged and got back to cleaning up the mess they had made.

Speed looked at the other parts of his original trio.  "You know, this means we get to bless the baby."  Danny and Tony both shuddered.  "What?  We did good with the last one we blessed.  She's very strong and capable."

"She's hell on earth to others," Tony complained.

"She's also a nag worse'n Granger," Danny agreed.  "The girl's a twat."

"Well, we did bless her to be strong-willed and firm in her convictions," Tony said dryly.  "Plus I think I gave her an extra one to find a strong love and lover."

"Yup, and she drove the first two away because she's a twat," Danny reminded him.

"She did," Speed sighed, shaking his head.  "But now we know what not to do."  They all smiled at Marisol, making her go pale and hide in Eric's arms.  "After all, if the family can't bless her...."

Eric shook his head.  "I want a nice, normal niece or nephew, thank you, guys."  He walked her out into the hall and pulled out his phone.  "Momma, we're coming over for a bit.  No, we don't need dinner, mom.  Just to talk."  He hung up and walked her out to his car, taking her over there.  Then he sat her down at the table and stood behind her, holding her down.  "Marisol has something to tell you or else Speed and them get to help with other things."  He stared down at her and she went even more pale.  "Mari?"

Her mother sighed.  "I had hoped it was the flu."

"Me too."

"The father?"

Marisol blinked.  "No comment?"  Her mother laughed at that.  "Really?"

Eric patted her on the head.  "Her or Speed, Mari."

"Well, he's a very nice guy I met at a party," she offered.  "But we're not dating any longer. He said he couldn't be with someone so sick."

"Ah, a shallow guy," Eric said dryly.  "Do we know him?"

"Probably not."

"That'll change," Eric assured her.  "Even if I do have to get Horatio and the rest of the group to help me."  She flinched.  "Exactly.  So, his name?"



"Eric," his mother chided.  "If he's already left her all we can do is make him miserable until he sees the error of his ways."

"I want his name so I can do a background check on him first," he complained.  "That way we can make sure he's fit to have her and we don't have to suddenly find her a new husband."

"I don't need...."  Her mother started to laugh again.  The daughter wilted when she realized what that laugh meant.  Maybe she would go hide behind Gibbs next time.  He sounded like someone very protective.  Or that Ziva person.


Speed looked up from his midnight reading when Horatio finally came home, giving him a long look.  "We good?"

"For now," he said quietly, coming over to kiss him.  "Why does Eric smell like a brewery?"

"Marisol's pregnant."

"That's a good reason."   He took another kiss and got stripped down to his boxers but Speed banished those on him, earning a dirty look.  "I'm not in the mood."

"Do I care?"  He put down his book and pulled Horatio between him and Eric, cuddling him for now.  It was the most fundamental comfort he could offer, that and sending calm and soothing thoughts through the bond.  Horatio finally calmed himself nearly to sleep. "Let us help, H."

"When I can."

"You always can.  You don't let us.  We want to help."

Horatio nodded while he yawned.  "If I can."

"Thank you."  He gave Eric's arm a tug, getting him to move closer and cuddle Horatio's front for him.  It was nice.  They could sleep this way for now. Until Eric decided to use them as the mattress and climbed on top of them again.


Ryan walked into the lab the next morning and right into Stetler's back.  He still didn't like having him back but it wasn't his call to make in this instance.  He walked around him and headed on his trek to the locker room.

"Mr. Wolfe," Stetler called.

Ryan turned and gave him an impassive look.  "What?"

"Why are you renting two apartments?"

"I'm not."

"You are.  Your manager said you're handling the other one."

"I'm cleaning it for him.  My building manager likes my OCD if you must know."  That got a horrified look.  "That way it's all clean for the next tenant.  Anything else you want to know?"

"Why was there a gathering at your house last night?"

"Because I invited some people over."

"Yet, Caine left suddenly."

"He had something he had to take care of."

"What might that be?"

Ryan snorted. "He doesn't tell me those things.  Go find him and ask him yourself!"  He walked off again.  "Before you ask, the others were friends of his and Speed's that I met through them.  Mostly other officers."

Stetler growled and went to find Horatio, finding he had somehow slipped around him and into his office.  "How did you get in here?"

"Through the door like most mornings," he said blandly, looking at him.  "Why?  Were there reports that I had scaled the building?"

"What was the meeting last night about?"

"Some friends getting together."

"Wolfe said they weren't his."

"No, what he said was that he had met them through us and they were mostly officers.  With three exceptions.  Eric Delko's sister, my nephew, and a federal agent."  Stetler gaped.  "Anything else?  I've got manpower reports to go over."

"I will know what's going on in this department."

"I'm sure you'll dig until you find something," he agreed bitterly.  "Anything else?"

"I know what you did to me," he said bitterly.

Horatio looked at him.  "I haven't done anything to you yet, Rick.  Now, Marisol had an accident and I believe Mr. Wolfe may have fixed that one for her at her insistence.  I haven't done anything.  Yet."  The man obviously got the point because he backed away.  "Anything else?"

"I'll see you brought down."


"For being unnatural!"  He stomped off.

Horatio sighed and thought at the others in the bond.  They agreed, he was too dangerous to leave alone.  He tracked him magically and once he was alone, he was shape changed.  Then he was banished off to Tony in DC.  Tony had a nice apartment and could easily put up with a new pet for however long it took for them to figure out what to do with him.


Tony walked into the office and found McGee staring at his desk with Ziva backed against his.  "What happened this time?" he asked patiently, coming over to see the small thing on his desk.  Stuck to his desk.  Someone had used a sticking charm on the small, furry thing.  "Huh.  Who're you, little bunny?"  He glanced around then ran a checking spell.  "Ah, Horatio thought I'd be the best one to pet you."  He shrugged and unstuck him, then put him in his emptier desk drawer.  "Until I can find you a cage and things," he promised, petting the soft head.  The rabbit flinched away.  "I'm not the mean one," he offered quietly.  "That's Danny."  The rabbit gave him a look.  "I'll take good care of you until we figure out what to do with you, Rick."  He went back to petting him.  "Hey, boss, got a delivery from Miami here at the office," he said dryly.

"What?" he complained.  The rabbit was held up and he moaned.  "Who is that?"

"Um, boss?  Office, cameras everywhere?" he suggested.  He got a dirty look and grinned, mouthing 'IAB asshole who bothers Horatio, was going to turn him in for having a wand' and got another moan.  "Sorry, boss, but as soon as I can get him a cage I'll take him home at lunch."

"Be late, do it now."  Tony nodded, going to take the rabbit home.  He shook his head.  "McGee?"

"Yeah, boss?" he asked, perking up.

"Why was that here?"

"He was probably the nicer alternative."

Ziva coughed.  "What is going on?"

"Long, involved story of petty jealousy over a lack of promotion," Tim told her.  "Or so Eric told me."

"That leads to a rabbit how?"

Gibbs looked at her, then grimaced.  "That's one of the parties in the story, Officer David."  He looked at his computer then turned it on, finding the note from their temporary boss.  "Aw, crap.  Meeting," he sighed.  He called DiNozzo.  "Bring it back.  We have a meeting."  He hung up and walked up there with his team, looking at their boss's secretary.  "He wanted to talk to us?"

"I think it was just you, Agent Gibbs, but let me check."  She called into the office.  "Sir, all of Agent Gibbs' team but DiNozzo are here."

"He's on his way."

"And he's on his way, sir.  Of course, sir."  She hung up.  "Give him two minutes to take something for his headache and get Agent DiNozzo here, then go in."

"Fine."  He looked over as Tony came back in with the rabbit, shaking his head.  "Let's go."  They walked into the office, sitting at the conference table.  "You wanted to see us?"

"What is that?" the pro-tem director demanded.

"I'm babysitting," Tony told him.  "I was heading to bring him home since they sent him here instead of my apartment, Director."

"Why is it even an issue?"

"Well....  Because I'm babysitting," he said dryly.  "I didn't have time to make it home and pick up a small cage for him."


"Yes, his name's Rick," he said dryly.  "He's very soft if you wanted to pet him."

"No, I don't," he sneered.  The door was closed by his secretary.  "I know something odd is going on with your team.  I will know what it is!" he said loudly.

Gibbs looked at them then at him.  "We're not doing anything different, sir.  What do you think is going on?"

"You talk about brooms, I've seen wands...."

Tony held up a hand.  "Why are you spying on us like that, Director?"

"Because it's my job!" he said snidely.

"No, your job's to make out the budget and run the agency, not spy on your best team," Tony reminded him.  "We get our cases done.  It's not like you have to prod us like some of the other teams, Director.  Is there a worry that we're not handling cases appropriately?"

"With what you talk about during the day!"

"Movies?" he asked, looking clueless.  "My dating habits?  I know Ziva doesn't care and McGee usually tunes me out, Director."

Gibbs nodded.  "So do I most of the time.  You see more action than I saw in combat, DiNozzo."

"Thanks, boss," he offered with a grin.

"Wasn't a compliment."

"Was to me."  He went back to stroking the bunny rabbit.  "Why is there a worry about our cases, Director?  We haven't been under such strict surveillance in the past."

"Your team is the reason the last director was fired."

"No, she was fired because she had a hand in getting one of our former teammates killed and then planting another one in the midst of us," Tony said coolly, staring back when he gaped.  "She's also responsible for some vendetta against me and offering false information that named me a pedophile and other vile things.  She even tried to call me a terrorist once or twice if I heard right."

"She did," Gibbs agreed.  "Sheppard went off the deep end in her desire for total control of our team."  He shrugged. "If we had known earlier I would have stopped her then."

"Wasn't your fault, Boss," Tony assured him.  "We had no idea she was even involved in the Ari thing."

"Tracing it back, the links were really tenuous at best," McGee agreed.  "She covered her tracks well with that one, Boss."

Gibbs nodded.  "Thanks.  I would like a copy of that report, McGee."

"As soon as I finish my conclusion page I was going to send it on.  I've been doing it after hours and not claiming overtime."

Gibbs looked at him.  "No, that's something that should be claimed.  Hand it to me today."  He looked at the director again.  "Was there a worry about our casework, Director?"

"Yes, there is. You take sudden trips from the elevator.  No surveillance equipment seems to work in there.  Agent DiNozzo has suddenly visiting *friends*," he sneered.  "And then I find out you've been tampering with the lab technician and getting her involved in whatever problem has taken your team.  I'm ordering an in-depth analysis of your team's casework and mandatory psychological evaluations for all of you."

Tony shrugged. "We passed them when we got here."  He looked at the rabbit then at him.  Then at Gibbs.  Then back at the director.  "Does that mean we're off casework until the investigation is done?  If so I need to take a personal hour to get a cage set up at my apartment, sir."

He glared at him.  "You're going to get rid of him."

"No, I'm not.  He's not mine to get rid of, Director.  As I said, I'm babysitting."

"You will or I'll shoot him myself."

"Should you, something grievous would happen.  Including federal indictments since the owner's in protective custody at the moment."  The director sneered and pulled a gun out.  "Boss?  Permission?" he asked, looking at him.

"Go for it."

Tony concentrated then spat something in Greek, making him pass out with a shriek, holding his head while the pain overtook him.  The secretary rushed in.  "He was ranting and then he passed out.  He was going to shoot my friend's rabbit too."  He smiled and held him up.  "This is Rick.  I'm babysitting."

"He's adorable," she agreed, petting the rabbit.  She checked him over and called a paramedic.  "Did he say anything?"

"No, just spat and hissed," Tony said, shrugging but looking distasteful.  "He thinks we're having issues."

"I didn't think we were," Ziva admitted.  She waved at Ducky when he rushed in.  "He was growling and sneering at Tony's bunny rabbit friend and then he passed out."

"Why?" he asked, looking at them.  "That's a very interesting rabbit, Anthony."

"I'm babysitting," he said with a small grin.

"Ah.  That's very kind of you."  The paramedics came in.  "He had a stroke we think.  He apparently passed out while ranting and screaming."

"That's fine, Doctor Mallard.  Let us handle him."  They got him started on an IV and out to the ambulance in record time, leaving them alone.  He smiled at the secretary.  "I'll make the necessary calls," he assured her, getting a smile and her disappearing.  "Anthony?"

"He had a stroke," he agreed.  He stood up.  "With that said, I'm going to find Rick here a cage and take him home."   He walked out, strolling really, petting the rabbit the whole way.  Once he was back in his car he looked at him.  "I told you I was the nicer one.  Danny  might've let you be wounded first."  He backed his car out and headed to the nearest pet shop to get him a rabbit cage and food.  Even if he didn't want to eat it.  Plus some litter because otherwise it'd be nasty to clean up.  Then he left him there and went back to the station, going back to his desk since the rest of the team was at theirs.  "Boss, what'm I doing?"

"We're still under investigation," he said blandly.  "Finish up whatever and make sure I have it."  That got a nod and he got to work on the paperwork he had backlogged.


Tony and Speed spent their lunch times talking back to Danny, who had many bad ideas at the moment.  It was cute until Speed had to tell Stella she needed to wear those out of him more often.  Then Danny yelled and ranted at them but Stella got him calmed down with a gentle stroke of his back and a quiet word in his ear.  They smirked at each other, then got back to talking about what to do with the new rabbit with the whole group.

Gibbs walked over to where the boys were sitting, sitting on Tony's free side.  "Are we talking about the rabbit?"

"We are," Speed agreed.  "Sorry, Gibbs, but he's threatening to expose us."

"Who was he?"


Gibbs moaned and shook his head.  "At least we didn't end up with two rabbits earlier."  He sipped his coffee, watching the people walk past.  "So, how's Miami, Speed?"

"Odd at the moment.  Horatio wanted to come up to see you tonight if he could."

"Sorry, date."

"Good for you, boss."

"Shut up, DiNozzo," and he smacked him on the head.

"Ow!  That was unfair."

"Amanda's leaving town tomorrow."

"I'm sorry."  He looked at him.  "If I could, I'd have magiced her a job locally for you, boss, but I can't."

"I know.  We'll work it out somehow."  He took another drink of his coffee.  Then he watched as Speed stiffened.  He looked in that direction, finding a modestly pretty brunette woman.  "Is that her?" he asked quietly.

Tony looked and stiffened as well, then nodded.  "She's got the illusion back on.  It's darkening her hair and changing her facial shape a little bit."

"I pulled a Horatio to put anti-glamour charms on my sunglasses," Speed said quietly.   "Audry doesn't look bad for being a mom," he said softly.  Tony glared at him.  "Just saying, Tony, not hitting on her or anything.  I'd never do that to you."

Tony relaxed and nodded.  "Audry."  She looked over and gaped in horror.  He nodded her over and she came over more carefully.  "You know we'd never be able to hurt you, Audry."

"I know."  She looked at Speed.  "How?"

"Alexx, a witch down in Miami who became like my mom.  Danny tested me."  She smiled at that, grinning a bit.  "This is Gibbs, Tony's boss."  Gibbs nodded politely.  "What're you doing here?"

"My company's moving me here," she said dryly.  She heard a pop and looked around, finding a blond man in sunglasses.  "Danny?"  He nodded, walking over to hug her.  "You three are back together?"

"Just as tight as we ever were," Danny promised with a grin, making her blush.  "Not like that.  I've got three of my own now."  He smiled at Tony.  "Even if you do get cuddle rights."

"Thanks, Danny."  He looked at her.  "You're going to be moving to DC?"

"I'm not sure yet.  They're trying to force me to," she admitted.  "I don't want things to be awkward, Tony."

"I know, Audry.  I'd hate that."  He got up and gave her a hug, feeling how different it was now.  He let her go with a sad smile.  "It's not the same as it was."

"I know."  She stroked his cheek.  "But it's not bad.  We can be friends."

"We can be," he agreed, grinning slightly.  "You're the first girl whose said that who I believed."  She laughed and pinched him on the arm, earning a brighter smile.  "So, now what?"

"Would it be too awkward?"

"I'm out working most of the time.  Gibbs has us on twenty-four/seven call."  She gaped. "So you'd hardly ever run into me unless you came over to NCIS to pick me up for lunch."

"Then I'll quit fighting," she promised, stroking his cheek again.  "Dinner soon?"

"Whenever you get settled."

"Thank you."  She turned and walked off.

Tony sat down on Speed's lap, letting his boys cuddle him.  "It's not the same," he said quietly.  "It used to be a comfortable fit and now it's comfortable but I don't fit."

Danny stroked his back.  "There's always hope there's another one, Tony."  Tony looked at him.  "What did Kate say?"

"Point."  He sighed and nodded, getting up.  "So, boss.  Suspension?"

"No, just desk duty until we're all driven insane enough that they call in the psych evaluators again."

"Wonderful.  We should get back.  Thanks, guys."

"Keep Rick for tonight, Tony.  Then we'll see."

"Okay.  I'll have to get him real veggies.  He's refusing rabbit chow."  He walked off, heading back to the office.

"Give us some warning next time, boys," Gibbs ordered.  He followed.

Speed looked at Danny.  "He'll heal."

"He will," Danny assured him, giving him a hug and a slap on the back.  They both sent dirty thoughts at Tony to cheer him up, making him laugh and send back a mental cuddle.  Then they went back to their separate departments to get back to work.  Danny looked at Mac when he walked into the lab he was working in.  "Sorry.  Audry showed up," he said quietly.

"Tony's former girlfriend?"

"The one his father cursed and we had ta help."  Mac looked pissed at that.  "That was the first time Tony had been able to cast something like an unforgivable.  It worked well too.  His mother stood there and clapped."  He shrugged. "She's being moved to DC and it'll be awkward but they'll go back to being friends."

"Then that's for the best if they can't rekindle what they used to have," he agreed, patting him on the back.  "Would you like someone to go with you tonight to her grave?" he asked quietly.

"Nah.  I haven't been in years."  He looked at him. "We still gotta figure out what ta do with the bunny, Mac."

"I heard," he agreed dryly.  "We'll figure that out later.  Maybe a group dinner?"

"Might not be a bad idea."  He sent that thought out, getting various 'sures' and 'I'll bring something's.  "Works for them."

Mac smiled and nodded, going back to work, ignoring the lurking Lindsey.  Not like they could help it.  He nodded at Sheldon.  "We're having a group dinner tonight if you wanted to come.  Eric probably will so you won't be the only one."

"That's all right, Mac.  My sister's coming in for a visit this weekend so I've got to clean."

"Want to borrow Taps?"

Sheldon blinked.  "No, that's a bit too strange for me.  Thanks though."  He smiled.  "Enjoying having a housekeeper?"

"Very much. It's nice to come home to a clean house."   He went back to his lab and settled in to figure out what was going on with his present case.  It was going to drive him insane.  He had almost no evidence.


Yelina knocked before walking into her brother-in-law's house, staring at her son.  "I went to get some of your laundry," she stated.

He looked up from his reading _People_.  "At least it wasn't a girl hiding in my closet, mom."  She scowled.  "That's my private research and I'm not planning on doing it, just learning it."

"Dealing with dead things?" she demanded.

He gave her another of those patient looks.  "Mom, there's worse out there.  I'm learning how to spot things that've been brought back by various means.  Not planning on bringing someone back."  She sat down, just staring at him.  "I'm not."

"You're sure?" she asked more calmly.

He nodded.  "I'm very sure, mom."  His uncle came home.  "She found the books I got off Danny to learn how to spot things that had been brought back."

"At least you weren't hiding a girl in there this time, Raymond."  He went into his bedroom to change.  "He's being good, Yelina.  I'm watching over his shoulders."

"As long as someone does."  She waited until Horatio came back out then glanced at her son.  "Is there any news yet?"

Her son closed the book and looked at his uncle, who sighed.  He looked at his mother again.  "The court case has to do with Dad's former cases."  She gaped.  "There's a reason I wouldn't have to bring him back, mom.  Mostly I've been told you get to kick his ass first, then me, then Uncle H."

"Was he... like Speed?" she asked quietly, staring at Horatio.  Who shook his head.  "Are you sure?"

"Very," Ray agreed.  "I checked."  He leaned forward.  "I had a moment of wanting to scream his name, but then the overwhelming urge to beat him showed up, mom.  So, you'll get him then I'll get him then Uncle Horatio can have whatever's left."

She smiled at him, patting him on the head.  "It'll be different when you see him, son."

He looked at his uncle.  "We should talk to the Rosenburg book to see how many others she did that to."

"I've asked Dawn to do that for us.  She's said she only did it three times.  Buffy, the one you know about, and someone more personal to Ryan, but that one didn't work.  She had moved on."

"Good," he sighed, relaxing again.  "Because that's dangerous.  Things could get an open portal back if it's not done perfectly."

"I know, Ray.  It'll be fine and she can't do it while she's a book."   He patted her on the head.  "Ryan helped us, Yelina, and I'm sure it'll become obvious very shortly."  She nodded, slumping down some.  "Other than that, Ray, I heard from your ex today. She's very sorry she threw you over."

"Uh-huh," he said dryly. "I'm sure she is, Uncle Horatio.  Doesn't mean I want the skank back or that I screwed up my birth control spells."

"No, that wasn't why she called," he assured him. "I suggested she could see you at school tomorrow so you didn't have to run into her tonight."  Ray shrugged at that.  "So I'm going to postpone our night out."

"That's fine.  I can pretend to be grounded if it'll keep me away from her."  He looked at his mother.  "Pick out something pretty, mom. That way he's staring in awe of you when you hit him the first time.  It'll make it happier for us."

She shook her head.  "I'm not sure what I want to do yet, Raymond."

"I am.  I'm going to kick his ass," he assured her.  "And I can do it too."  She smiled at him.  "I did learn from the three top badasses at that school in that realm," he said dryly.

"How long did you spend over there?"

"A few days."

"You learned all that so quickly?" she demanded.

"There's ways of giving information over more quickly. Then he'd have to practice them, Yelina," Horatio said calmly.  He stared at his nephew.  "Correct?"

"Very."  He grinned. "Plus Speed kinda warped time on one room one night."

"I see.  Can he do that now?"

"Not a clue."

"Oh."  She considered her son.  "What are you studying now?"

He held up the book.  "Advanced transfiguration.  Humans into moving objects like clocks."  She shuddered.  "Better than the rabbit," he said dryly.  "Or the alligator."

"That was Marisol," Horatio said firmly.

"How is the bunny, Uncle H?" he teased.

"Would you like to be grounded for real?" he offered in return.

"Not really.  So, can mom have the bunny?  She'll take very good care of it."

Yelina gaped at them.  "You charmed him again!" she demanded.

"We had to, Yelina.  He was going to expose us," Horatio said quietly, staring at her.  "He's in very good and protective hands.  He's simply a rabbit at the moment."


"Tony has him," he promised.  He pulled her closer.  "Somehow he found out about what we can do, Yelina.  The changes shouldn't have let him remember but he does somehow.  He was going to expose us to the Chief and in doing so would endanger countless lives."  She slumped again.  "So he's safe and protected.  Tony won't let anything happen to him."

"I'd hope not."  She sat down again, looking at him.  "Was it that imperative?"

"It gives us time to figure out how to block him," he said.

"Oh."  She looked at her son.  "Not going to help?"

"If I'm asked.  I'm sure those three know things I don't since they were seventeen, mom."

"Point."  She looked at Horatio again.  "Should I start dinner?"

"Already started," he assured her with a small smile.  "Staying?"

"If it's not an imposition. I think I should talk to my son."

Ray grinned at her.  "I started meat roasting an hour ago. It should be nearly tender."  Horatio went to look.  "It'll be fine, mom.  Just relax for now and think up creative ways to kick dad's ass."

She nodded.  "I'll do that," she assured him.  "Is he local?"

"He was when we scryed."


"Using water as a reflective surface and a chant to bring the object of our attention into focus on it."

"Oh."  She shrugged, she had no idea.  This magic stuff was all unnatural to her.  "How did he look?"

"Really good for a meth whore," Ray said bitterly.

"Raymond," his uncle complained.

"Sorry, Uncle H."

"Thank you."

Ray looked at his mom and shrugged.  They knew what he was.


Horatio had the sudden feeling and checked a few things, finding a message to meet a federal agent somewhere.  He walked out, going to do that.  What he found in the backseat of his hummer did not surprise him.  "Raymond."  He got in and drove off, heading to the meeting.  "What am I going to hear?"

"That I escaped them.  Things are going to hell, Horatio.  I need your help."

"A word of advice, Raymond.  Protective gear."  He parked them somewhere more private to talk to him.  "What is going on?"

"They had me dirty on tape."

"So you couldn't tell us?" he demanded.

"They wouldn't let me."

Horatio looked at his brother.  "You, Raymond, are in deep shit."

"I heard my son, Horatio."

"He was helping."

Raymond moaned.  "He's like you?"

"He's better in transfiguration than charms but yes.  He's also fully trained.  You never told your wife?"

"How do you tell her something like that?" he demanded.

"Before your son made your toaster bark," he said dryly.

"Why did my son make the toaster bark?" he asked, looking confused.

"He wanted a dog at the time."

"Oh.  One of those.  I remember you redoing your bedroom by accident one night in your sleep.  Mom was not amused with the naked woman painted across your walls."

"I painted over it," he reminded him firmly.

"Good thing."  He shifted forward.  "Are they safe?"

"Very.  You're not when they see you."

"I heard."  He looked at him. "I need your help, big brother."

"I'll do what I can, Raymond, but I may not be alone. There's people in the labs I trust."

"I saw who came over last night," he agreed dryly.  "Does my son realize you're in a threesome?"

"Yes.  He picks on Eric about giving up women for me."  That got a moan and a head shake.  "Since this upset his mother so much he spends a great deal of time at my house. Especially since he was missed and I ended up teaching him."  Ray gave him a horrified look.  "With help.  At one point he managed to misjump realms.  Ended up with the Speed/Danny/Tony group when they were seventeen to learn from them."

"I remember Speed but who're the others?"

"His school friends. They went to New York as well."  His phone rang. "I have to go to the meeting, Ray.  Are you staying in the hummer?"

"Please."  Horatio restarted the engine and drove off. "So, my son's a wizard.  He good?"

"He's very good but he's figuring out how to test things to see if they were reanimated."


"Not the first time it's happened."

"I was wondering about Speed," he admitted.

"Alexx actually."

"Excuse me?  The nice, sweet, mothering ME who feeds you now and then and encourages you to date?  Not that you've ever had a problem with finding women."

"Nor does your son."

"Wonderful.  So he's just like you?"

"Exactly," he agreed smugly.

"If they had let me I would've told you three," he promised.

"Raymond, there are ways around even the most cruel jailer."  He pulled into the park that was in the message and got out, walking over to the federal agent he had found out was over Raymond's case.  "Good morning, Agent Johnson."

"Morning, Lieutenant, but not a good one."  He looked around them at him.  "You know I can't say much."

"I know.  What did he do?"

"He was made.  His cover was blown," he admitted quietly.  "He's in the wind."

"Then let me handle this."

"I need to be kept involved."

"No you don't."  He gave him a look.  "Anything else?"

"Can you make him safe?"

"We'll see."  He nodded. "Thank you for that information."

"What happened to Stetler?" he asked when Horatio started to walk away.

"He's in protective custody," he said dryly, giving him a look.  The agent stepped back.  "He's very safe and well taken care of.  Once he's no longer a problem we'll bring him back  like he's been on a happy vacation."  He walked back to his hummer, going to drive around for a while. "I want a full account, Raymond."

"Will you help me get them back?"

"Find some protective pads.  You'll need them."

"After that?"

"That's between the three of you.  If she asks or he asks, I'll help hide you in plain sight."

"You're my brother."

"I am."  He paused and glanced back at him.  "Not a happy one at the moment, Ray."  He moved on once the light had turned green, heading back toward his house. "Your son is in school.  Do not trash my house."

"I wouldn't dream of it," he promised, taking the spare set of keys and heading inside when Horatio paused.

"I know you would," Horatio said blandly.  "But that too shall change, Raymond."  He went back to the station, texting Ray from the parking lot to warn him.  That way he'd come to the station instead of going home immediately.  Then he got out and went inside, running into Frank. "Problems?"

"Yeah, your nephew's in your office.  School got closed today due to a water leak that took out part of the hallway upstairs and is now damaging the gym."  Horatio moaned.  "Why is Yelina upset?"

Horatio looked at him.  "Frank...."

"Horatio, I've kept every secret you've ever given me," he pointed out.  "Every single one.  Including the worst ones."

Horatio nodded and pulled him back outside to talk in private.  "There's been two people found recently who should be dead," he said quietly.  "One was and one wasn't."


"As in the Federal Agents who caught him and turned him planned his death, Frank."  Frank gaped.  "So we're figuring out how to best get him free at the moment."

"Hagen?" he asked quietly.

"No, he was dead until Miss Rosenburg decided it'd be a good thing.  Danny sent him somewhere more hidden with less bugs."

Frank slumped. "Why?"

"I'm not sure yet.  Dawn said she talked to her and she only said it was about making others happier."

"I'm not sure she would be."

"Nor am I, Frank.   Nor is she."

"Then who's....   Oh, hell.  Your brother?" he hissed.  Horatio nodded.  "The boy'll need some protection."

"Only if Ray Junior gets to him first," he said blandly.  "His cover was blown and we're settling things now, Frank."

Frank shook his head.  "It won't be safe."

"I can make him not be himself."

"Point."  He glanced around then at him. "I hate to ask, but Stetler's seemingly disappeared?"

"He was going to expose us," he said very quietly.

"He okay?"

"He's a bit furry and floppy, Frank.  Tony's got him in protective custody."

"Floppy?" he asked, looking amused.  Horatio summoned up a picture and he burst out laughing.  "You're kidding!"

"No, I'm not.  It's what he always wanted.  To be well liked."  He put the picture away and shrugged at him.  "They're still arguing over rabbit chow too."

"Wonderful.  Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy," he agreed, smirking at him.  "Now what, Horatio?"

"Now, we plan some things, Frank.  Do not tell Yelina.  I will."

"Sure."  He patted him on the arm.  "Thank you."

"You did earn the trust, Frank."  He headed inside, finding Yelina at her desk.  He looked at her, making her look up.  He nodded.  She looked confused.  "Things aren't always what they seem, Yelina.  Like lunch being at home even though I had planned for us to sit down and talk about my nephew's college career."

"Need me to run and get it?"

"No, there's a bit of an electrical problem at home.  A few shocks."  She swallowed.  He smiled.  "It will be fine.  But do come up for lunch."  She nodded and he went up to his office, finding his nephew meditating.  "Good idea."

"Thank you."  He opened his eyes to look at him.  "What happened?"

"His cover was blown."

"By us?"

"Not from what he said.  I did advise him he should probably get some protection gear."  Ray smiled sweetly at that.  "He's asked for our help if we survive this."


"He wants to rebuild things."

"I'm not sure that's a wonderful idea."

"Me either but he wishes to try."

"So, the earring thing?"

"Could work."  He smirked at him.  "Not like Tony had to do."

"Shoot," he complained, frowning some.  "Please?"

"No, Raymond.  That's more cruel than what he deserves."

"No it's not.  I can even ask Speed how he did it."

"No, Raymond."

"Fine.  Make me do it physically."  They shared a look.   His uncle shrugged.  He'd help him do whatever he was allowed to do.  Because the adults didn't want him to become *too* mean already.


Yelina stared at her husband, then slammed the door to Horatio's house, making him jump and stare back. "I'm not sure if I should hug you, hit you, or shoot you."

"I'd love the hug but accept the hitting.  If you go for your gun I'm going to have to pounce."  He sat up, looking at her.  "Is everyone coming?"

"Not yet."  She didn't move closer.  "Why, Raymond?" she asked finally.

"They caught me on tape, Yelina.  They made me help them."

"You couldn't tell us?" she demanded.

"They watched me too closely.  I couldn't even get mail out."  She snorted and crossed her arms over her chest.  "I wanted to," he said, sounding like he was promising.

"Just like you wanted to tell me about the drugs and Suzie?"


"Yes, we know.  Your brother even tried to cover for you for a while.  Until she got sick."  He gave her a helpless look.  "Don't do that."

"I wanted to tell you both, Yelina.  That way you could explain it to Ray Junior."  He stood up.

"Do not come closer," she ordered.  He sat down again, just staring at her.  "Our son has the right idea.  I should shoot you."

"You probably should," he agreed. "I've caused a lot of pain and grief.  If it wasn't for my stupidity I'd have been there to help you when Ray Junior's skills came out so it wouldn't have been such a shock."  She snorted at that.  "Really.  After all, I watched Horatio have a lot of early accidents with his and I should've asked him to test the son.  I was being arrogant because it never runs through more than one son each generation."

"Well, we only have one son," she said dryly.

"There was the hope of a second one," he offered.  She gave him a heated glare that made him shiver.  "I know it's not probable now.  All I want is to try to make amends and see if we can go forward."

She turned and left, slamming the door.

He winced.  That hadn't gone well.  His wife had a fiery temper and he was going to need the protective gear his brother had spoken of.  Especially if his son was anything like his big brother for real.  He got up to look at the picture he had found, staring at it.  He knew who the third person in the picture was.  He'd deal with Stetler when the time came.  For now all that mattered was getting safe and making amends.  He felt another gut wrenching pain and looked up.  "Son, please!  Just hit me."

Speed appeared on the stairs, sitting down.  "Not the son, Ray."  He gaped at him.  "It's not.  You pissed him off but he's not leaking.  We've reinforced Horatio's office for such emergencies.  I think you'll find you've pissed off the nature paths around the family as well.  Including a pregnant one who likes Ray Junior like a little brother.  She's not a happy camper and she's muttering and swearing about you.  So if you turn into an alligator or something we'll try to turn you back."  Someone knocked and walked in. "Ryan.  What are you doing here?"

He held up the bag.  "Eric sent me.  He said Marisol's on a rant."  He closed the door and walked over to hand over the bag of stuff.  "Drink it all down in one gulp."  He sat down to do that, then he moaned and held his stomach.  He smirked.  "That's from Eric and I.  You nearly destroyed your brother.  Speed and Eric held him together after your funeral for months on end.  There's nothing that'll protect you if you hurt them again.  If they don't accept you back, we'll help you set up in Amish country or somewhere near there."  The man on the couch nodded, wincing at the pains.  "Good."  He looked at Speed.  "Marisol only gave him the runs.  I gave him the herbal cure for that and then something to make his insides twist."

"Works with what I did," he agreed.  "He's going to tell his wife and son everything when they ask.  Fully truthful.  He has no choice."  He stood up.  "Nice work.  Eric's getting mean in his old age."

"Yeah, Calleigh and I thought you might need to do more than cuddle him again.  He's not a happy camper this morning and tried to flirt with a suspect.  She swatted him for you."

Speed smirked.  "I'll get him later.  Sleep sweetly, Raymond.  We'll get off around dark."  They walked out together, heading back to the hummer Ryan had brought. They both laid a protection on the house so no one could get in to harm him but he had to learn how much pain he had caused.  Though neither one would be telling Horatio anything.  Or Ray Junior.  What they did to him was up to them.  Speed got a ride back to work and Ryan was even nice enough to stop in and let him get lunch.


Danny looked up from his processing the new body, smirking evilly.  "Just let me know if you need help, Speed.  That wasn't very hard for you."  He went back to work.

Stella looked at him. "What did they do?"

He smiled at her.  "He'll have to tell the truth to them."

"That can be pretty harmful.  Especially to his wife and son."

"Nah.  They know already.  He'll have to confess though."  He found something and took pictures of it.  "Beads.  Tiny ones."  He tape lifted them and put that into an envelope, then looked for more evidence.

Stella shivered.  Danny wasn't usually the scary one of that trio.  She was more scared of Tony's evil mind than Danny's, but she hadn't seen how bad Danny could be before.  Now she knew there were depths she hadn't seen yet to his bad side.

He looked at her. "You only have ta worry about it if you cheat or somethin' bad like that," he assured her quietly, then he got back to work.

"I'd never do that, Danny."

"I'd hope not," Don said as he came back from questioning suspects.  "Ray Junior need ideas?  I'm sure I can ask Alex for him."

"I think he'll get plenty from our school trunks," Danny said with an evil smirk.  Don shivered at that and Stella tensed up.  "I'm nice to you guys."

"Good, we like that," Don assured him, thinking about how to make sure Danny got some sleep tonight.  Plus be put into a better mood. Because he was the scary one, no matter that others worried about Speed or Tony.  Danny had depths that the other kids didn't.  Namely, his family.  That would give him a lot more depth to plumb for mean ideas.

Danny grinned at him.  "I wouldn't mind if you did dinner and then gave me a backrub," he teased.

"We'll see what I can do," he agreed, going to find someone else to question.  Stella came to help him.  Just in case.  They shared a look and he sent Mac a subtle message, making Danny cackle like the Wicked Witch of the West.

In the office, Mac put his head down and very silently thought what he could do to make Danny normal and happy again.  These evil moods were bad for the lab.  Lindsey might end up damaged the next time.  Last time she'd only ended up with screaming nightmares.  This time it would be worse.  Much worse.


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