Dinner Dates

Speed sat down next to Tony, stealing half his lunch with a frown.  "We need a better way to contact each other.  Your phone's broken and Danny's still unconscious from helping Sanders last night."  He nodded at Gibbs before taking a bite.  "I don't know how we'd do it though."

"The Banes have this tattoo thingy," Tony offered quietly.  He ate a bite of his half his sandwich.  "My phone's not broken."  He pulled it out to look at, checking the ringer.  "Boss, try my phone please?"  He finished getting his coffee and called him, getting the 'this phone is not in range' message.  "Hell."  He tried the 'hit any button' thing that would get him to a representative if he had forgotten to pay his bill.  Nothing.  "I have no idea what's wrong with it," he admitted, stuffing it back in his pocket.

Speed held out a hand so Tony handed it over.  Speed looked it over then held it up, showing the shiny silver thing sticking out of it.  "Phones die the same as people do when you shoot them."  He handed it back.  "I thought mine falling off my belt at a-hundred-ten miles an hour was bad."

"It is," Gibbs assured him.  He took the phone to look at it.  "When did that happen?"

"Not sure, Boss.  I haven't been shot at in a while."  Speed gave him a look.  "Sorry!"

"We need better communication."  He looked at Gibbs.  "Did you hear anything about the case in Vegas Sanders pulled?"

"Emilia called McGee who briefed me this morning when I came in.  How many bodies?"

"108," Tony said dryly.  "Any new information?"

"Mostly single tap to the head, small caliber," Speed offered.  "Horatio said he'd take off early tonight and do paperwork all day.  Danny went home and crashed, probably with Don on the couch."  Tony nodded at that.  "Plus, it would help us if and when one of us got into trouble again."

"I'm in trouble about once a month," Tony told him.  "I wouldn't want you guys to freak out."

Speed snorted.  "Horatio walks into buildings knowing the sniper loves him and wants him.  He still plays with bombs."  Tony winced at that.  "Eric wanted to throttle him after the last one."  He looked at Gibbs.  "Would you mind if we did that?"

"It's not my body.  As long as it doesn't interfere with work or anything I can't really complain."

Speed nodded.  "Good.  I'll call Emilia to ask how they did theirs.  Maybe we can get into Dumass' library."

"This weekend is their training time," Tony offered smugly.  "Danny can get us in."  Speed smirked at that.  "Maybe we can get a book list."  Speed moaned.  "Danny told me he's got a library bigger than the local ones in most cities."

"Good.  He probably needs it with what he gets into."  He gave him a nudge and took another bite of his half his sandwich.  "Alexx said she'd call if I got called out."

"Good.  I'm still doing paperwork."

"Yeah, we have some of that too.  Then we send it to Horatio to vex him."  Gibbs nodded at that.  "Just think, Tony, some day the three of us will be in charge of labs or teams."

Gibbs spluttered and moaned, getting up to grab some paper towels.  "He'll probably leave before then."

"No I won't.  I haven't left yet. Normally I would've left before you came over that night to face me down."

"So you're saying I'm special?"

"Very special, boss," Tony teased.  "So special I'm going to make you a happy guy later."

"Over your dead body."

"Awwww, you wound me, Gibbs."

"No, that'll be the next time we go into the field, DiNozzo.  Quit playing around and make him eat.  He's skinnier than you are."  He cleaned up his mess, got more coffee, and went back to his desk.

Speed looked at Tony.  "Lana?"

"Nah, Sydney's present?"

"I liked that one.  It's classic," Speed agreed.  "But twist it some, make it unique."

"Good point."  Tony finished his lunch and took the rest of Speed's sandwich to eat as well.  "I can smell the fish on you."  He grinned and cleaned up his mess, going off to arrange stuff.

Speed giggled and headed back to his lab and to call Emilia.  She gave him a book list and it was a good thing. She assured him they could get them all in Dumass' library, some even in multiple languages.


Tony snuck in to check on Danny, picking up an old pewter vase off the bookshelf.  "Danny?" he called quietly. He got a grunt.  "I'm taking the ugly vase."  That got a flipped hand.  "Make sure we go with you this weekend so we can raid the library."  He popped home, going to finish arranging stuff.  He got there in time to answer the door and smile at the woman standing there.  "Hi."  He nodded her inside.  "You were briefed?"

"I was."  She took the flowers she had been carrying once he put them into the ugly, pistol shaped vase.  "I take it the Marine I'm having dinner with tonight is a tough guy?"

"Very, and very stressed.  If he asks who hired you, my name is Speed."  She smiled at that. "Just dinner, though I doubt he'd ask."  He paid her and she nodded, taking the flowers back to the car.  Then he went to put his next layer of plan into effect.  He paused for a minute, Kate would've loved and helped this plan, but he knew she was watching over his shoulder to make sure he didn't mess it up.  He took off the illusion earring and set it aside as he typed.


Gibbs opened his door, staring for a moment at the woman standing there.  "Lost?"

"No, Gunny, I was sent to feed you dinner and then disappear."  She handed him the flowers and picked up the picnic basket again, taking it back to the kitchen. "Give me two minutes to set up dinner."

"I didn't...."

"He said to tell you Speed hired me if you asked."

"Dark haired guy?  Tall?  Skinny? Scruffy?"

"No, blond guy with glasses, sir."


"He said Speed."  She smiled as she set out the good plates and glasses.  "Now, I'm not here to do anything but eat and talk with you, Gunny.  He was very clear that you're not that sort of man but you needed a good dinner and stimulating conversation is always welcome."  She gave him a sly grin.  "Besides, he said you probably haven't talked to a book nerd in a while and enjoyed it."  She finished setting out the dinner Speed had ordered for him, hearing him moan.  "He said it was something you liked but didn't indulge in often enough. If you don't spoil yourself now and then, you get bogged down in the mundanities and the bad things, therefore you're getting spoiled tonight.  I'm also authorized to work on your neck and shoulders if you'd like, or to listen to you talk about your plans for your boat.  By the way, can I see the boat?  He said it's fantastic even though it's not complete yet."

"Later," he said, moving in and putting the flowers off to the side on the counter. "Your idea?"

"He handed me the vase," she admitted, helping him into his seat and then sitting down once she had taken off her cloak.  He blinked at her dress and she smiled.  "This is spoiling myself, Gunny."

"Jethro, please."

"Jethro then.  My name's Amanda."  She poured him some wine and handed him the carving blades.  "Whenever you're ready, Jethro.  So, are you a philosophy, history, or a science sort?"

"History."  He carved up some of the meat, handing her a few pieces, then taking some for himself.  "Military and not."

"I love ancient history but I work in one of the local Civil War museums as a clerk while I finish my Masters in History."  He nodded, taking a bite.  "We've got a fantastic collection of artifacts that've been dug up from Bull Run.  Including some letter cases that had some letters still in them.  In pretty bad condition but still there.  We've also recently put together a Union Guns exhibit."  She passed him over a ticket that she pulled out of her bra.  "For you, Jethro."  He smiled at that and she ate, moaning a bit.  "I did an excellent job."

"You did," he agreed, sipping the wine.  The ticket went next to the flowers.  "He hired you to have dinner with me?"

"His reason went along the lines of dinner with a pretty woman can lift even the most morose spirits when it's full of good food, good conversation, and lack of stress."  She blushed a bit.  "He pays very well by the way."

"I'll thank him tomorrow."  He smiled and dished up some more stuffing. "You did very good with the food."  His phone rang and he groaned, grabbing it.  "Gibbs."  He listened.  "No, director, I have a date in for dinner.   I'll go over that with you tomorrow."  He hung up and turned it off.  "I can be out of touch for a few hours.  DiNozzo can answer any calls."  She smiled and nodded, eating a bite.  He ate a bite and thought of a new subject.  "Which project are you working on?"

"Mostly I catalog artifacts.  My boss got mean earlier, I was doing a few toenails that were dug up, but I love dealing with the guns.  Some of the soldiers used their off hours to carve decorations and inscriptions into theirs.  It shows the personality of the soldier, not just the uniform and the duty.  I don't think we see enough of that really.  When you think about an army force, you think of a unit of men, usually, unless you're like some feminist friends of mine, but you don't think of the individual men.  Most people see them as faceless and the same guy copied."  He nodded, eating another bite.  "I like to show how they were each there for their own reason.  Some for less charitable reasons than others.  One of the letters we've found had a kill count and he sounded fairly happy with it."  He nodded again. "But I suppose you get people like that in every war."

"You do," he agreed quietly.  "I've seen people like that in the same unit and they often got into trouble and were caught."  She smiled and nodded at that.  "Are you doing all the guns side-by-side?"

"Where we found full skeletons, and these weren't buried in graves, they were shallowly buried and unmarked, we gave the body a proper burial and the uniform and weapons were kept in some cases.  I've been putting the uniforms back together, full kits to show what they carried.  Today I spent the day arranging a Southern uniform from a Texan troop.  His gun had some amazing carvings.  He used a very thin, sharp blade to carve the Lord's Prayer down the line to the sight of his rifle.  I gave that one special highlighting.  The director thought it was melodramatic but I thought it deserved special note since he took so long doing that.  He died with his last word half-done.  It took me almost a week to clean the dirt and debris off it."

"I investigate crimes against Navy and Marine personnel.  I do about the same thing with evidence collection."  He took another sip of his wine. "Have you ever thought about doing that?"

"Yes, but I'd hate to be rushed.  I like to uncover the truth about the artifacts and share it.  Not have to process and move on.  I'm the sort who'll go back to pieces I felt a connection with repeatedly to clean and dust them off."  He smiled and nodded, digging in again.  "But enough about my work.  You're an agent?"  He nodded, chewing slowly.  "I bet that's exciting.  More exciting that dusty back rooms and filing cabinets."

"It's a bad day when it's exciting," he offered.  "I like the non-exciting days, like today, except for the paperwork."

She giggled and nodded, sipping her wine and swallowing.  "I can agree with that.  I've got tons of forms to fill out for each artifact I clean up.  Insurance estimates, cataloging forms, pictures, all that stuff."  She blushed and ate another bite.  "We had one naughty thing recently," she offered sheepishly.  "I almost had to hand it off.  It was an ancient musket pistol and it had naked girls on it," she shared.

He smiled. You couldn't fake that sort of innocence.  It was almost...cute, but he never used that word.  "Many men have fought and died over those," he pointed out.

"I know, but it's one thing to see it on the tv or a film, it's another to see it and have to scrape dirt and gunk out of the carving.  He was very thorough.  She even had *nipples*," she hissed, blushing harder.

"Sounds like a desperate guy with too much time on his hands."  She giggled and nodded.  "Did your director enjoy it?"

"It's kept in the back room since someone might object a bit.  We're in a fairly conservative part of the state of Virginia."  She smiled at him.  "So, you're building a boat?  Like one of the submarines or a pleasure vessel?"

"Pleasure vessel. I don't have the skills to make an iron-side."  She giggled and nodded.  "No, I don't."

"I'm sure you could if you wanted to.  Besides, bending metal can be very cathartic.  I've had to bend back a few cutlasses and it did wear out any foul mood I might've had at the time."

"I get plenty of that beating my team into submission and perfect behavior."

She gave him a chiding look.  "That's why you're tense and stiff, Jethro."  He coughed and ate another bite, making her giggle.  "I didn't mean that way. I don't take you for one of those people who enjoy *that*," she offered in a tease.  "My last boyfriend was but he's in Afghanistan at the moment."

"How long has he been deployed?"

"Six months.  We broke up about a week before he got his letter.  We weren't really compatible.  He wanted to move faster than just dating. I pointed out I'm only twenty- seven and I don't need to move faster than that.  He even wanted to grope on the first date.  I'd have to be knocked off my heels for that.  My mother raised me to be a polite lady and to only accept a kiss, and to whollop any guy who tried to go further until I was ready.  He thought we should've been living together after a month of dating.  I'm not that sort of girl though."

"It's rare that men like that succeed," Jethro assured her gently, smiling at her.  She nodded at that.  "You're not dating now?"

"Oh, no.  There's a nice guy at work but he's gay and I'm definitely not his sort.  For some reason any time one of my friends try to set me up it's with a girl, and I keep telling them I'm straight.  They said I need to try it out.  I've got some pushy friends."

"At least they're not doing it to harm you."

"No, and some of the women they set me up with have been very sweet women, some very shy ones.  It's just not my thing.  I like how men smell."  She blushed a bit again.

"How did you get into this job?"

"Oh, I'm on for meals and dinner dates only," she assured him.  "My boss said that's up to me and she knows I'm not going further.  I've been complained about even, but oh well."  She poured herself a half-glass of wine.  "I do this job because I get to meet some very nice people.  Some slimy people, but mostly nice people who're tired of being alone for a night and work too hard.  I talk with a lot of guys who've never taken the time to seriously date and get to know a woman.  I've had two who've sent me cards saying I encouraged them to date."  He smiled at that, taking some more meat for himself.  She held up her plate and he handed her another slice too.  "Thank you, Jethro."

"Not a problem.  Is your mother still alive?"

"Very, and she swears every time she hears about my job, but it's some extra money since my real job isn't that plentiful for income potential.  She thinks one of the guys I have dinner with will get pushy."

"They could," he agreed calmly.

"Yes, but that's why I have pepper spray on me at all times."  She smiled sweetly.  "Which I'm sure you won't have to deal with."

"I should hope not.  I'm not the sort of guy to demand stuff, Amanda."  She smiled at that and cut up her new piece of meat to eat a bite.  He dug back in too.  It was a good dinner. The microwave went off and he looked at it.  "Sorry, I planned for rice tonight."  She giggled and kicked him under the table, shaking her head.  "I know, but it was a long day of paperwork.  Even if it was electronic so I didn't get papercuts again."

She smiled.  "I got one of those but that was fine.  The love of the job counteracts the occasional papercut or bad day when things get exciting."  He nodded, eating a bite.  "How long were you a Marine?"

"Nineteen years.  I'm in the Reserves."

"Thank you."

He nodded. "Not a problem."  She smiled at that.  "I've been working with NCIS for a few years now."

"I think I heard someone swear about you a few months back."  She considered it, then nodded.  "I did.  There was a general that took me out to dinner and the opera because his wife was ill and he hated having to go alone.  He swore about you over dinner. Used some very impolite speech as well."

He shrugged.  "A lot of people who end up on my bad side or in my way swear impolitely about me.  You should hear some FBI agents do it."  She giggled and swatted him on the hand.  "Really.  I'm proud that I vex them that way."

"It does get the blood pumping," she agreed happily.  "I think that's why I yank my director's chain."

He chuckled.  "Me too.  Then again, my former trainee is now my boss."

"Oooh, you poor baby."  She patted him on the hand.  "Did she take the time to learn from you?"

"She was a good field agent."

"Hmm.  Which means she's now political and abhorrent of the former job she did?"   He nodded.  "You poor thing."  She patted him on the hand again. "It'll be okay.  People like that don't often last.  They step on the wrong toes and try to tapdance when they should apologize.  Then again, sometimes you want to tapdance because the owner of the toes deserve it."

"She's the former," he agreed, smiling at her.  "What did he tell you about me?"

"About the boat.  That you work too hard and too many hours.  That at times you believe you're superhuman and can do everything at once, then you get angry at yourself because you can't. That sometimes they have to let you down because they're human and your expectations are very high for your team.  That for some reason you scare a lot of people into near wetting themselves.  That you're a Gunny Sergeant in the Marines."  She shrugged. "Not much."

"He didn't give you a primer?"  She shook her head. "You read people very well."

She smiled at him.  "Even I have to do the fundraising suckup now and then."  He chuckled and she nodded.  "I do.  I have one of those tomorrow for our expansion.  I'm dreading it. Those men paw me more than some of the slimy sleazes I've been out with."

"Bring the pepper spray."

"I can't.  It could get our funding cut.  I was told to be nice, act nice, and be polite, but not to let them touch me unless I wanted them. One man kept trying to pat me on the butt in front of his wife so I had to manufacture an accident and hurry off to help, giving her a very unhappy look as I escaped.  She slapped him and stomped off."

"Did your boss mind?"

"Yes, which was when I pulled up the security footage showing he had been pawing me.  She said the next one, my job is the first to suffer from the budget cuts.  That's the way it is in even the bigger museums so if I complain about it, I'll get blacklisted."

"Possibly," he agreed. He finished up and smiled at her.  "Want to look at the boat when you're done?"

"Please."  She finished up and walked off with him after packing away the dishes but leaving him the leftovers. That way he could have a snack or lunch.  She squealed when she saw it, hopping down the last few steps to run a hand over the side in appreciation.  "She's a beautiful girl, Jethro.  When she's fully grown and done, she'll be splendid."

"I hope so."  He ran a hand over it and smiled at her. "This is how I usually wear out stress."

"Yes, but sometimes you need to interact with people who aren't criminals and aren't hiding stuff from you.  Otherwise you start thinking the worst about everyone."  She patted him on the cheek.  "I think you should let me work on your neck, and then I'll let you get back to work on her.  Maybe some day you'll take me out on a sail."  She sat him down a stool and got to work on his shoulders and neck, making him moan and relax against her hands. "You're a very strong man, Jethro, but even God had to take a day off his duties now and then," she offered quietly as she finished up.  "That was a quote."  She kissed him on the cheek.  "You rest and have a nice night, Jethro. Maybe I'll see you at my museum."  He gave her a gentle, nice kiss and she blushed, smiling at him. "Thank you."  She went back up there to gather up the basket of dishes and headed home.

He rolled his neck, it felt good and he was relaxed. He looked at his boat, then decided to go out for the night.  Maybe a movie or a calm club that played quiet music.  He saw the car watching his house and waved as he got into his car, heading out for a night off.  It had been a thoughtful gift, but he'd kick DiNozzo's ass in the morning.  That last quote was all him and only he knew about the expectations he had for his team.


Danny woke up and it was dark.  He groaned, rubbing over his face as he flipped onto his back.  Someone tapped on his door again so he got up to answer it, finding his neighbor there. "What's wrong?" he asked quietly.  He had no idea what time it was.

"I can't get the bathroom door open and Tommy's in there, can I trouble you to kick it in or something?"

"Sure.  Let me put on real pants." She smiled and headed next door while he put on a pair of sweats and shoes. He followed her over, leaving his door unlocked, and took the screwdriver to pop out the hinges.  He took the door out of the way and looked at the little boy who was sitting on the toilet, giving him a sheepish look.  "Remember, your Ma panics when you disappear, Tommy."  He handed her back the screwdriver. "I'll put one of those sliding doors on later this weekend."  She smiled and kissed him on the cheek, hurrying in to help her son.  He locked her knob lock before he left, heading back to his apartment. He found his landlord in there.  "Tom locked himself in the bathroom again."

"I'm sure the door'll be back in place when she moves out."  He looked at him, then pointed at the open doorway.  "What's that?"


"It's not nothing, Messer.  You've got a few extra rooms that shouldn't exist."   He moved closer.  "It's not like you pay for them."  Danny crossed his arms over his chest.  "I want to know what that is."

"Or?  I do have a lease saying I can redecorate as long as it's tasteful and back to a move-in condition when I leave."

"Do you think this is?" he demanded.  Danny nodded.  "You're moving and you're leaving it."

"I doubt it."  The landlord sneered at him. "Not like you can make me."

"Oh, I can.  I can have you arrested for taking over the next apartment."

"It's occupied.  I heard her playing her flute this morning."  He glared at him. "Go check if you don't believe me."

"You may be a cop," he sneered.

Danny stepped closer, making him back up.  "Get out of my place.  You have no right to come in here without warning or a problem going on."

"There is a problem, your neighbors have been complaining about your perks and your friends."

"We've been fairly quiet and it's not like I'm getting perks."

"You either pay me double your current rent or...."

"Try it.  A lease means you can't do that."  He gaped.  "Yeah, the benefits of being a cop."  He stared at him.  "Don't worry, I'll be gone within the month.  It'll be the exactly the same way it was when I moved, trash and all."  He pointed.  "Now, get out.  Before I call my coworkers about you breaking in."  He stomped off and Danny glared after him.  He went into his bedroom to find the day's paper and start looking for a new apartment.  He found a few nearby and it was a good thing.  Fortunately he had tomorrow off to go look.


Don walked into Mac's office.  "Danny's moving."


"His landlord broke into his apartment and caught that door open.  Threatened to tell us that he killed the neighbor and took over her apartment without paying for it."

Mac shook his head.  "He find somewhere?"

"Yeah.  He called right after he signed a lease.  It's a bit closer to here.  About two stops.  Rent controlled too."  Mac smiled at that.  "It'll be fine."  He glanced around then looked at him.  "My spell works when the door's open."

"Some people are immune and I've had problems with his landlord before.  They own a few buildings out that way."

"Oh.  Okay.  So, we on for training this weekend?"

"No, I'll be here, Don.  You guys have fun at the castle.  I heard Speed and Tony are coming with you guys?"

"Yeah, they want to talk about Tipsy's tattoo and that stuff."  Mac nodded at that.  "Can we bring you back anything?"

"No, I'll be fine.  Thanks anyway."  That got a small smirk.  "Any other good news?"

"Tony decided to make Gibbs a happy guy for one night.  Hired an escort to have dinner with him, and only dinner, got him flowers, had good coffee waiting on him when he came in the next morning so he could make some. Made him feel like a pampered princess for a few hours."

"Gibbs could use it.  He was fairly uptight and tense."

Don snorted. "Ya think?  Any new word from Greg?"

"Most of the bodies were homicides.  They got ID's on most of them through missing persons and the like."  He looked at him.  "None like us that he can tell," he offered quietly.  Don smiled and nodded at that.  "So we're good with that.  Grissom sent me copies of the paperwork he had to fill out since we went to help.  He also sent a card thanking us and asked that we make Greg calm down.  He was using a handtruck to cart the case files down the hall and he was growling at someone who came up and tried to claim the scene.  Someone Military."

"Shit happens.  Think he could get raised up to a level two for it?"

Mac shook his head.  "Usually it's counted by case, not by body.  He could try to blackmail Grissom for it to count as multiple cases," he offered.  Don smirked at that and shook his head. "I'd use the fact that he left him out there as it were it me.  I'd never do that to Danny."

"Yeah, well, I'm sure he assumed Catherine and Sarah went when they got back."  He shrugged.  "So, anything for me?"

"No.  I'm waiting on test results."

"Okay.  Yell my way."  He walked off, going to find Stella and ask her the same question about another case they had going together.  She smiled and handed him a folder. "Presents?"

"Hardly.  Tests on the vomit's components.  Champagne and seafood."

"Okay, nice dinner out," he offered, reading it over.  "Very nice dinner out.  Can we use this to track where they could've eaten?"

"Not really.  I looked it up with the restaurant association.  They said over two hundred within the city offer that brand on the menu.  That doesn't count off the menu requests or them eating at his or his date's house."

"Damn.  Okay.  I'll take what I can."  He walked off thinking about it, his mind focused on the case.  That's why he had to look up and flinched toward his gun when he heard the pop of someone coming in.  "Shit!"  He hurried over, catching Danny before he could fall over.  "What happened?" he demanded.

He blinked at him.  "Thug brats.  Park," he moaned, then passed out.

"Someone get someone!" he yelled, making others come running.  Sheldon pushed through to check him over.  "Mac?"  Mac came over.  "Check him?  He said something about thug brats and the park."

"The same ones that tried you two?" Stella asked.  She had been told about that.  He nodded.  "Splinched?" she asked.

Mac came over to check him.  "Anything seeming to be missing?" he asked quietly.  Sheldon shook his head. "You sure?"

"Very."  He looked at him. "He apparated," he hissed.  The paramedics came over so he made Mac move.  "He got attacked and came in here."  No one would ask why he was on the second floor before he collapsed, yet.  Sheldon made sure to hand Don Danny's wand then shook his head.  "He'll be fine."

"What happened?"

"Small stab wound in his side.  Some beating it looked like.  He should be fine."

"I'm going to follow," Stella said, hurrying out to her car.

"Go," Mac told Don, getting a nod and the folder being handed over before he took off at a jog to catch up to her.  "Sheldon?"

"I don't know, Mac.  I know he'll be fine.  We'll have to wait until he wakes up."

Someone coughed and the ballistics tech waved a hand.  "He just ...appeared how?"

"Don't ask," Mac told him.  Sheldon let out a small moan.

"Mac, I love your military mindset, but we're civilians.  We will ask, we will kick up a stink until we get a reasonable explanation.  We'll do it very loudly until we get something that sounds reasonable.  At least three of us saw him just appear. Now, we can do this in the hallway or...."  He waved a hand at the breakroom. "Your choice.   Really."

"Go in there and wait on me," he ordered, looking at Sheldon.  "I've got to make a call, make sure they know to call me when he wakes."  He got a nod and Sheldon herded them in there.  Mac went to talk to their union rep, see what he wanted to do.  As he walked he heard one of the techs say something about 'it was just like those Harry Potter books' and groaned.  This was bad.  Very bad.


Danny woke up and saw Stella beside him.  "Damn it."

"You popped into the station," Don said from the other side.  Danny looked at him, hissing as he turned his neck.  "The nurse will be in here within a minute.  Who was it?  The brats from the park?"  Danny swallowed and nodded.  "Why?"

"Team.  Wanted me off."  He moaned and held his head.  "Wand?"

"Sheldon hid it.  I've got it," Don assured him.  Danny nodded and closed his eyes again.  "Let me get the nurse."

"Get me drugs," he said, shifting and holding his side. "Please."

"Sure."  He stuck his head out the door.  "He's awake.  He's in pain too."  One of the nurses came over, coming in to check him over.  Along with another officer. "I've got it."

"Who attacked him?" he asked, pulling out his Internal Affairs ID.

"Some thug kids in the park that tried us before," Don told him.  "They were raised on how he turned traitor by leaving."  Danny moaned at that and the nurse said something gently, making him nod.  She added something to his IV then left them alone.  "He'll be fine.  It had nothing to do with a case."

"Fine.  I had to make sure."

"Of course you do," Stella agreed. "Now, you've seen.  Go."

"Fine."  He backed out, letting them shut the door.

"I want a healer, not docs," Danny moaned.  "They always screw something up."  He forced himself to sit up.  "Gotta love demerol."  He looked at Stella.  "Call the new rep and see where the healers are.  Please?  Before they damage my wrist more."

"Was it hurt?"  He flinched as he moved it.  "Wrenched?"  He nodded.  "Okay."  She called Mac on the cellphone Tony had shielded for her.  "He wants a healer, Mac.  Do we have one?"  She smiled at him.  "Sure, I'll do that.  Yeah, he backed up Don's theory.  Punk brats in the park who didn't want him on the PD team.  Thanks."  She hung up and looked at Don.  "They'll be in within an hour."

"Good."  He looked at Danny.  "Mac had ta do some tapdancing."

"Sorry.  I had ta go.  Too young for me to fight back without getting into trouble."  He yawned.  "Wake me when they get here."  Don nodded.  "Thanks. Did I give you the new address?"  Don nodded.  "Decent.  The door's sealed against anyone being able to open it.  You can still pop in, but not walk in."

"I'll keep that in mind."

"Why were you in the park?" Stella asked.

"Tony called, said he wanted ta meet."

"I doubt it was him."  She stroked over his hair.  "You rest for a few."  He nodded, hissing again.  "Just lay there and let it work."

Don walked out of the room, going to a cellphone safe area.  He knew the rules and that Tony had done something to hers specially so it wouldn't interfere.  He walked onto the smoking ledge and dialed Tony's phone, and not getting an answer, Speed's.  "Danny's fine."  He listened to the cautious 'why wouldn't he be'.  "Because someone he thought was Tony called to have him meet him in the park.  He got beaten and a bit stabbed.  We're waiting on the healer now.  They've got him on some pain killers when he woke up."  He glanced behind him since there were nurses moving around.  "Yeah, he's fine. He asked for one already and Mac's arranged it.  Yeah, though it's going to be a pain moving him since he's sealed the door.  Thanks."  He hung up and took a few deep breaths.  The kids had been school age.  He could go to the school about this but he wasn't sure what they'd help him do.  Right now he wanted to kick their asses.  He went back inside, going to follow the guy no one seemed to see wearing robes.  He caught the door before it could be closed and leaned on it, over the window.  "Go ahead."

"Thank you."  He smiled at him. "I've seen your sister.  She had a small gash on her chin the other day from sliding down her stairs."

"She'd better hope like hell it was from that reason," he noted dryly.  "They wrenched his neck and his wrist, doc."

"That's fine.  Do we know why?"

"They don't want him to play on the inter-borough teams," Stella told him. "He said it was some thug brats from the school."

"There's so few of those," he noted dryly, coming over to check Danny over.  "You should be fine."  He healed the wound on his side and checked his wrist and neck, adding some energy to the healing his body was doing.  He pulled back to take a broader look, then nodded.  "No practice for two weeks and no using that wrist or your neck," he offered quietly.  Danny gave him a long stare.  "What?"

"I'm moving this weekend then redoing the spells on my apartment."

"I'd shrink everything very small then, Mr. Messer.  Let your friends help you as well."  He patted him on the head.  "Now, do you need a loli?"  Danny frowned so he grinned back.  "I always ask the first time I see new patients."

"Anything you can do about the old wrist injury?" Don asked.

The doctor looked at his other wrist, feeling it and bending it.  "Perhaps.  I wouldn't do it until after his other wrist is healed though.  I don't want to leave him without a hand."  Someone tapped on the door.  "Let them in if they should be here."  He made notes on Danny's chart that he carried, then something on the other chart to note himself as the physician in charge of his care.  He looked at him, blinking.  "Who're you?"

"Speedle, Miami."  He walked over, looking at him.  "What the fuck, Danny?"

"School aged thugs.  Couldn't hit back," he complained weakly.

"Bet me!"  He frowned at him.  "You're so getting fussed over, Messer.  Get over it."  Danny whimpered.  "Can he go home yet?"

"I'd like him to stay overnight, just in case.  His neck was knocked out of alignment so I'd like to see if it could settle itself back in.  If it doesn't resettle by the morning, I'll let a DO pop it for him."  Danny nodded at that.  "For now, let him rest.  The painkillers are more than appropriate and he'll be fine."  He walked out, going to talk to one of the nurses, smiling since she suddenly realized he was there.  He handed back the chart they kept.  "I'm his physician.  If his neck doesn't settle by tonight, mark him for an early DO consult to do it and his back. He'll be fine."  She nodded, checking the chart before putting it away.  "Let his friends troop in and out for now.  He's an officer and you know how tight they are."  She smiled and nodded.  "Thank you, dear."  He walked off, becoming invisible to them again.

Speed glared at Danny.  "Why are you moving?"


"Landlord....." he prompted.

"Walked in, saw the extra doorway.  Threatened ta say I killed the neighbor and stole her place.  Not true, but otherwise he was going to double or triple my rent."

Speed sighed as he smoothed down Danny's hair.  "Just behave for now, Danny.  Rest and let it go.  Tony's phone was shot, it's not working.  I'll pop around on him, then we'll work on the training stuff this weekend."  Danny shook his head.  "It'll only take us a night to move you, Danny.  Get over it."  He looked at Don.  "You up for helping?"

"It's practice and I could use the practice."

"Good. We'll guide you this weekend with the others."  He looked at Danny again.  "Please quit being hurt?"

"Not like I planned it," he complained.  "It's my day off."

"Fine.  Just try."  He looked at the doorway, then disappeared.  He stomped up to Horatio's office.  "Some little thug bastards in the local academy beat the crap out of Danny because he's on the PD's team.  He'll be fine but I'll be with him all weekend, there helping him move and then training at Dumass's castle."

"That's fine, Speed. You have the weekend off," he reminded him.  He looked at his nephew.  "You remember him."

"I do, I'm not sure how it happened that he's walking and talking though."

"Long story, kid.  Ask your mom."  He grinned at him.  "Need me to go to a scene?"

"No, go back to the lab. We'll deal with this later."  Speed nodded, going to do that.  He looked at his nephew.  "I agree, you should ask your mother."

"I'm not sure I want to talk to her."  He sat forward, looking at his uncle.  "Should I be mad that Madison exists?"

"Be mad at the source, Ray.  Not her.  She had no desire to come into being that way," he said calmly.  Ray nodded at that.  "Has she had that talk with you yet?"

"No," he snorted.  "She's avoiding it."

"Then I'll talk with her and we'll have that talk this weekend.  It could calm down that anger.  But definitely do not take this out on Madison.  She doesn't deserve it nor does she need it."

"How is she?"

"Doing well enough.  Have you called her recently?"  He shook his head.  "We'll do that this weekend then, Ray.  I know she probably doesn't understand why you quit calling."  He looked over as Ray's mother walked in his door and shut it.  "He wanted to talk about Madison."

"I don't want them in contact."

Ray stood up, looking at his mother.  "It's not her fault Dad fucked around on you," he said plainly.

"Raymond," Horatio warned.  "You will respect your mother and myself."

"Sorry."  He looked at her again.  "It's not her fault. She's six.  She's sick.  She has no idea what this is about.  Yeah, I'm mad at all you for this, but not her.  Not really.  Sometimes I get confused about that."

"You're mad at me...."

"It's irrational, mother, I know you had nothing to do with him getting high and going out to sleep around.  But I'm fifteen.  I'm still working through all that stuff.  The same as I'm smart enough to realize that they didn't plan to have her, but the drugs probably made them be less than careful about birth control."  She gave him a shocked look. "Mother, there's girls in my school who have kids," he pointed out gently.  "By the way, can Uncle Horatio have that talk with me this weekend since you've refused to?"

"Fine," she agreed, swallowing.  "You're not ready to date yet."

"Mother, being honest, how many teenagers see sex and dating as a matching couple?"  She went pale.  "I'd like the information *before* I try it and Uncle Horatio has offered.  I'm going to let him tell me everything I need to know so I don't have to try it yet."

"You won't be trying it yet, son," she said firmly.

"Mom, some day I'm going to be dating and having sex.  I'm not three anymore.  I'm not Madison's age. I wish I was, it was easier and nicer then, things were comfortable and warm, but I'm not.  I grew up.  The world moved on.  Some year I'll be giving you grandchildren."

"No you won't."

"I didn't say some year soon, mother.  I said some year."

"No you won't."

He sighed and looked at his uncle.  "This is what I get when I try to talk about this stuff."  He looked at her again.  "He also referred the question about how Speed's up and running around back to you since it's a difficult and long story."

"I have no idea, son. All I've heard are rumors."  They both looked at Horatio, who shrugged.  "You know?"

"I do, I'm not comfortable talking about it."

"How?"  She moved closer. "I was there when we buried him, Horatio.  I saw his body."

He looked at his nephew.  "Go con Calleigh into buying you a soda."  He nodded, going to do that.  He shut the door and returned to look at her again.  "There's things that you don't  know about, Yelina.  A few things.  This had to do with that stuff."

"What stuff?" she demanded.

"Calm down."  He moved closer.  He took a deep breath and figured out how to break it to her. "You know that sometimes the world is wider than we think, correct?"  She nodded, pursing her lips.  "You remember meeting Mr. Harris a few years back?"


"This was something like what he dealt with.  Only a force for good."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, and he's had himself rebaptized," he said quietly.  She nodded, relaxing at that.  "It thought we needed him back so it brought him back.  Without asking his permission or anyone else's.  It used Alexx to do so.  That's why he's still upset with her.  They're working on it."

"Fine," she agreed quietly.  "I don't want Ray exposed to that."

"Yelina, he goes to school with people who know about it.  You and I both know about it."

"Yes, but I don't talk about it," she snapped. "Or those little freaks who run around imitating the Harry Potter books."

He smirked.  "Well, this would border on that world," he admitted.  She glared at him.  "The same as there's schools for people like them in this country."  She glared at him.  "As Ray very well knew, Yelina."

"He wasn't...."

"No, he wasn't.  Someone we knew was.  We were very close to them when they got their letter."

Ray slammed the door shut and looked at him.  "Letters.  That's an interesting topic, huh, mom?"  He stared at her.  She blanched and he raised an eyebrow, looking at his uncle.  "Am I too old to go?"

"Possibly.  Why?"  Ray walked over and opened his desk drawer, pulling out his wand and cast the simple levitating spell, making his mother break out sobbing.  Then he looked at his uncle again, handing it to him.  "I see.  You've been reading the books?"

"Yeah, and I remember the letter."  He looked at his mother again, then his uncle.  "You know about this stuff."

"I do.  I'll see if there's a school down here," he agreed calmly.  "It will set you apart from your friends."

"I can make other friends.  Also, does Suzie know?"  He shook his head.  "Is Madison one of us?"

"There is no us!" Yelina said, standing up again, glaring at her son.  "You're not going!"

"Yelina, if his magic isn't freed the normal way, it can kill him," Horatio told her.  She gaped at him.  "It's been prove that it can lead to a higher rate of cancer and suicide.  Neither of us want that.  If there's no school locally, I'll gladly tutor him.  I know some who're being tutored because they were missed."  She stomped off, slamming the office door hard enough to crack it.  He swallowed.  "I'll call Speed, he'll know whether or not there's a school around here."

"So they did like book four on him?"

"No, there's more than one form of magic, Ray.  Have you seen the stupid vampire show?"  He nodded.  "Something from that spectrum raised him."

"Okay."  He shrugged.  "As long as he's back, you're happier."  He headed down to the lab, sticking his head in.  "Speed, can I borrow you for a minute for a serious question?"

Speed looked at Eric, then nodded him inside.  "Close the door, Ray.  What's up?"

"I just freaked my mother out by levitating Uncle Horatio's coffee cup."

"With his wand or without?" Speed asked calmly.

"With.  I got a letter but Mom freaked.   Like screamed and slammed the door hard enough to crack it freaked.  Like she'll probably try to forbid me to see him.  Is there a school locally?"

"Texas.  Not a great school.  New York has one but it's got problems.  California's got one stretched out like the UC system.  Chicago's presently fighting against the military."  He leaned on the table.  "By the way, if anyone in a uniform or who identifies themselves as military comes near you, scream and panic.  They're trying to get some of us to work for them.  The only exception is Gibbs, who works with Tony, got it?"  He nodded at that, looking very serious.  "Andromeda, the one in California, is pretty nice.  It's a very hippie place though.  Chicago's having problems.  I know Greg sent his sponsored kid to Canada when the military tried to grab her there."  He considered it.  "I'll see if anyplace new has cropped up recently."  Ray grinned at that.  "Your mother just stomped past.  Go hide.  We didn't see you."  He swished his wand.  "You've got ten minutes of not being noticed."  He nodded and fled the lab, heading back to the office.  He looked at Eric.  "Looks like I'm going to be at home for a few minutes before going to check on Danny."

"Is he okay?"

"Danny?  Yeah, he'll be fine.  Some little thug brats in the park took him on but they were undeaged so he couldn't fight back.  It sucks but it happens."  He shrugged and got back to work, thinking hard about where he'd send the kid.  He was already two years, at least, behind.  He'd talk to Greg and Dawn later that weekend about him.

Yelina came to the door of the lab. "Was my son in here?"

"I didn't see him," Eric offered, smiling at her.  "Are you all right?  You look a bit flushed."

"I'm fine."  She glared at Speed.  "Stay away from him."

"If he comes to me with a question, I'll try to refer him back to H, but sometimes you can't go to family about stuff.  It makes you uncomfortable talking about some stuff with the people who used to diaper you.  I will let you know if that situation comes up."  She glared and moved closer.  "Don't try, Yelina."

"Or what?  You'll float me?"

He leaned closer.  "What makes you think I can't do whatever I want?" he offered calmly, staring into her eyes.  "If he comes to me for that stuff instead of his uncle, it is my sworn duty to help him.  Because if we don't, he can die. Remember, this stuff is emotional and he's a teenager."  She gasped.  "Not saying it will happen but it could.  Easily.  It has in the past.  That's how we usually find people we miss for school."  She stomped off.  He calmed himself and looked at Eric.  "I'm pissed now."

"Works for me.  So, his first time....."

"Will be really loud and might have fireworks.  I've seen a few who did."  He got smirked at.  "Not mine.  Tony and Danny made us all go to a college party.  Danny and I shared the bed with our girls and Tony had his against the wall."

"How old were you?"

"Sixteen.  It was the first year we were allowed out without a chaperone. New York was too dangerous to let us out alone.  Horatio's class made sure we couldn't get out before then.  They had a few kids who ran away and one who got killed."

"Wow.  Where did they run away to?"

"A strip club," Horatio said from the doorway.  "Are there any?"

"As far as I know, Texas.  But he's already missed two years so I'm not sure they'd take him.  I'll check tonight through the school."

"Thank you."  He grimaced up the hall then at him.  "I ended up taking it from her before she screamed at everyone about it."

"Danny ended up apparating into the middle of the second floor when he got hurt."

"Wonderful."  He walked off shaking his head.  "Ray, you and I will be talking with Speed tomorrow," he offered quietly.  That got a nod.  "Thank you.  Don't mention this again near her.  She's not taking it well."

"That's putting it mildly," he said, mimicking his uncle, earning a smile.

"Go home, eat.  Call later."  Ray nodded and headed off, taking his mother home. Horatio went to check on the open cases, finding Ryan frowning at his evidence.  "Problems?"  Ryan jumped and looked at him.  "You don't look pleased."

"No that's got to do with whatever it is you guys are hiding from me," he admitted.  "Not that I'm complaining but it's starting to worry me that I'm somehow involved and you're investigating me."

"It has nothing to do with a case," Horatio assured him. Ryan gave him a look.  "I promise, it's nothing to do with a case or you."

"Okay, that makes me feel better.  Thank you.  On this case," he sighed, waving a hand.  "It's not going anywhere.  I'm running into a lot of dead ends and even when I find a small opening it's shut on me within minutes."


"I don't know.  We found a small opening going toward this company locally," he offered, pointing at that printout.  "As soon as we pulled up any information about them, it was deleted.  We went back to the original listing and it was deleted by then too."


"That's what we can't figure out.  Not the A/V tech, not me, not anyone.  I'm almost expecting Feds to come in.  Have you been warned?"

"No, I haven't, though they don't like to warn us before they show up."  He looked at the information, then scowled.  "They're using mythical people?" he asked.

"No, she's a real person from LA.  I don't know if they based that character off her or not."  He tapped into the computer, getting her old license.  "That's Miss Rosenburg."

"Interesting."  He thought quickly.  "Can you get anything on her?"

"Nope.  I tried, I hit a computer wall of a different sort.  Tyler said it was a hacker."   He shrugged.  "Is she one?"

"That's something to look into.  I might know someone who could look into it out there."  He walked off thinking.  This was not a good idea.  He called Greg himself.  "Gregory, Horatio. I know it's early for you but we've just run into a block of Willow Rosenburg, from LA.  No, a company registered in her name is part of a crime committed down here.  They did it in her parking lot.  Every time Ryan goes anywhere, it gets blocked by someone federal or a hacker.  Could you?  Thank you, Greg.  Did you need any other help on that case?"  He smiled.  "You may if you want.  Calleigh could use another frustration.  Have you tried through the Federal database yet?  The one you have to send the bullet in to?"  He smiled at that.  "One out of 105 bullets won't compromise it, Greg. Make sure Grissom agrees.  Oh, Ryan wanted to know if you could get promoted after this one.  Maybe Grissom will count it as individual cases or a few since there are so many bodies."  He smiled at the assertion Greg was getting promoted since he was about to have a heart attack.

"We'll see you down here if you need a vacation.  Also, I meant to ask, and I know Speed is checking.  Are there any schools in this area?  No, my nephew."  He listened to the quiet words of advice.  "His mother would never allow it."  He nodded.  "Thank you, Greg.  Be careful.  They sound like they're playing for keeps and that could include you.  You as well."  He hung up and went to talk to Speed.  "Greg said Grissom can't prove they were all killed at the same time so he may get to count them as individual cases."  Speed smiled at that.  "He also said he can send you the file on the local schools.  He didn't look at any of the smaller ones however."

"That might be the way to go anyway, Horatio.  Individual attention and all that."  He looked at him.  "How many are there?"

"Not enough. New York was begging for money to build a new dorm in the complex. Andromeda is supposed to be very pretty but it's also very far away."  He walked off, going to find Ryan.  "Greg said he and Grissom are in negotiations about how many cases this counts as, and also that he knows someone who knows someone who probably knows Willow.  He's passing it back so you can get whatever you want.  Though he did say that she's not the homicidal sort. More of the upsetting sort."  Ryan nodded at that.  "Hopefully within a day we'll know more about her and possibly that company."

"That would be nice.  What's Andromeda?"

"A private school Ray was thinking about."

"Oh.  Wow.  Well, it'll help him get into a good college so he'll be able to do whatever he wants," he offered.  "He should take the school's curriculum to the local colleges, or the one he wants to end up at, to make sure they meet guidelines.  I had a buddy who went for a year and had to make up an extra year of high school because they wouldn't count four of his courses."

"Well noted, Mr. Wolfe, thank you."  He smirked at him.  "Is there any way this isn't related?"

"I don't know."  He held up a crime scene photo, which made Horatio take it to look at it closer.  "I'd say someone knew about the owner's name and was enacting something from that stupid vampire show."

"It could very well be," he admitted, handing it back.  "Have you talked to anyone in the local pagan network?"

"No.  I wouldn't even know where to start with that.  I know a few random herb shops but I don't know if I could trust the information."

Alex Dumass leaned in the doorway.  "What's up, Horatio?"

"You're not wearing a badge," Ryan said, slowly inching his hand toward his gun.

"Move it further, little boy, watch me leave you frustrated with this case until it gives you an aneurism."  He moved in closer.  "I know Willow.  I grew up with Willow."

"This, Mr. Wolfe, is the basis for the character of Xander Harris, the real one."

"Holy shit," he said, staring at him.  "How did you get in here?"

Alex gave him his most shit-eating grin. "Magic."  Horatio handed him the best picture he had.  "Druid, early Druid so they've got access to some of the older scrolls written down just after the Romans conquered.  Some families wrote down their knowledge so it would keep in the family, even when they had to go underground."  He frowned and pulled over a magnifying/light fixture, looking at the marking.  "Shot before they could finish it," he said thoughtfully, frowning a bit.  "If I could see the symbols closer I could almost tell you what they were doing."  Ryan gave him the blown up one the A/V tech had done for him.  "Thanks."  He looked then at him.  "Oath breaker."

He bit his bottom lip then looked at Horatio.  "He's trying to shut up an oath breaker.  He was calling on the Green Man, the Hunter's God, to claim her to shut her up."  He pointed at a few marks, getting a nod.  "I'm not that familiar with this version of magic, but I'm not sure he got it totally right.  I don't think you call on Him to stop oath breakers.  So he might've known some but not read it all maybe, or could've only translated some of it?  The books might be in his family maybe.  I'm not sure."  He handed it back to Ryan, looking at him.  "As far as I know there's a small herb shop down in Little Havana, run by a Priestess of Ishtar.  She's creepy and she's gonna remind you of someone from the Adam's Family, but she knows her shit.  Take that down there and she could, possibly, identify exactly what he was doing and who he was if you don't already know that.  She's one that those who're seriously into the craft buy herbs from."

Eric leaned in. "I heard Greg saying you were going to Iraq."

"I was, but Draco got injured so I had to bring him home. Ron's restocking the weapons before we go back.  We're going to be gone for at least another month."  That got a nod from Speed.  "Why?"

"Tony and I are going with them.  We're looking into the tattoo idea."

Alex nodded.  "Special Charms collection between the two floors.  Blue drawer of the card catalog, locked with my signet," he said, handing it over. "Sev can open it for you since Draco should be in bed.  He'll be visiting to check on him."

"Thank you."  He looked him over.  "Are you all right?"

"Pissed. Someone decided Draco was a bad guy and tried to shoot him."  He rolled his eyes.  "Fortunately the guys who did it are quite sorry."  Horatio tipped his head at that. "Sorry.  Not soldiers at least.  Had that happen at one other spot.  Anything else I can help with...."

"That's Ryan Wolfe, he replaced me when I died," Speed told him.

Alex looked at him.  "Having nightmares?"  He got a nod.  He walked over and wrote down a phone number.  "Others have been there, including her.  Talk to the blonde one," he said quietly.

"Thank you."  Alex nodded.  "Should I pass on messages?"

"I expected Don to be further ahead by now and using those things as presents so his mother wouldn't whine so much about grandkids."

"They've been pretty busy, Alex," Speed offered. "We all have.  You're the most fun we've had around here in days."

"I'd bring you home with me but it'd kill Draco, kinda literally, if I brought you home and put you between us.  So feel comfort in the fact that I'd bend you over in a heartbeat and make you see whichever God or Goddess you decided to invoke in thanks."  He smirked at him, then at Eric.  "You're just as adorable, but a bit too good boy for my tastes, sorry, sweetie."  Speed snickered, leaning on the doorway.  "Tell Danny Emilia's going to beat his ass if he gets hurt again this year, she is the scary woman of the Banes and our badass, and to let Dawn sulk with the ice cream if you guys free her. Also, see if Don can get Keelian out of the catacombs.  He can free whatever he wants to nest with but I don't want him in my storage area."  He winked.  "I'm off, yet again, to get into more hair-raising and swear- inducing trouble.  But hey, I'm making Molly grey."  He winked and left, disappearing once he rounded a corner.

"Who was that?" Eric asked, looking at Speed.

"Alexander Harris."

"From the show with the vampires?"  Speed nodded.  "Does Angel really exist?"

"I'll have to ask Dawn.  It's possible since they based it off him."  He shrugged. "At least you have a good source, Ryan.  I know where the herb shop is so I'll take you down there tomorrow.  She's not in today.  It's a holy day."

"Okay," he said weakly.  "I just met a tv character?  A very gay tv character?"  Speed nodded, beaming at him.  "How?"

"Xander is a man of many mysteries, including how he's slept with more than his fair share of the world's population," Horatio noted dryly.  "That boy slept with a different person each night since he started having sex, until he got married."  He smirked at Eric.  "He's sorry if you're freaked out.  He usually is.  He told me the same thing."

Eric scratched the back of his head and shrugged. "It's nice that he thinks I'm cute and knows I'm not his type and that I'd never touch him."  Ryan gave him a horrified look. "I like my women, Ryan.  I have no problem being told I'm cute."

"Okay.  Not what I was giggling about.  The image of Horatio being you and being that nice, sweet guy you pretend to be with the ladies."

Horatio looked at him. "I'm often nice and sweet, Mr. Wolfe, at least to *my* ladies."

"Not saying...."

"He's teasing, Wolfe," Speed assured him.  "Calm down.  It was kinda funny that he thinks Horatio is the innocent and cute sort."  He smirked at his boss.  "You?"  He burst out in new giggles.

"So, Speed, Ishtar, Vishnu, Set, Rayden?  Got a god of choice to call out for when he gets to you?" Eric teased.

"His mate would get sick if he cheated on him so it'll never happen," he promised.  "Besides, I thought we'd never talk religion in the office.  Like politics, it makes people mad at you."

"I don't care who you scream out to in the middle of sex," Eric said with a smug look.

"Boys," Horatio warned. "Let's help Ryan with his case.  Shall we?"

"I know the herbalist too.  Marisol goes to her for some pain reducing tea."  That got a nod.  "It's a holy day?" he asked Speed, who nodded.  "Since when?"

"Equinox, Eric," he sighed.  "I know we don't have many seasons down here, but others do celebrate the changing of them."

"Oh."  He shrugged.  "I don't even pretend to understand that stuff."

"I can probably find you a good book if you're interested," Speed offered.

"We could use one in the lab for reference purposes," Calleigh said from behind them.  "Who was the scary guy that made Tripp huff?"

"Alex," Speed said with a grin for her.  "We've got a company run by one Willow Rosenburg.  He knew her."

"From the vampire show?" she asked, looking confused. "Does that mean somewhere there's a vampire named Angel who does way too much stuff to his hair?"

"Possibly," Speed said dryly, coming in to help.  "Here," he said, finding a picture.  "Bring this one and the one he was looking at, Ryan.  It's got great views of the symbols."

"How do you know about this stuff?"

"Report in school.  I had to rationalize their version of their faith with the historical viewpoints."

"Oh.  My school didn't do anything on that."

"Mine made fun of them and drove two kids who weren't Catholic off," Eric admitted.

"Please, honey, I had some early goth kids in mine," Calleigh assured him, coming in to look at them.  "I've only seen Voodun and that's not that."

"No, it's Druid.  Alex identified it," Speed admitted.  "It's not his area though.  He's a knowledge source but not on the specifics like this. Mythology is more his thing, especially about artifacts used or given."

"Ooh.  He ever find any?  Is he like Indiana Jones?"

"Alex is somewhere between Strife, God of Mischief, and Indy, yeah," Speed admitted.

Horatio smirked at him.  "Everyone in his job is dedicated to Loki, Speed, get it right," he teased.

"Figures.  They do nothing but get into trouble and make others bitch, whine, and complain."

"And have sex," Ryan reminded him.  "You said yourself he gets more than he should."

"His black book is as thick as the Miami-Dade phone book, Wolfe."  Ryan whimpered.  "That was before he got married but his husband is slightly a nympho so therefore he doesn't need it anymore."

"He's married to a guy?" Calleigh asked.  Speed nodded.  "Is he bi or just gay?"

"Very bi.  Alex's motto should've been 'I like holes'.  He likes to blow holes in things, likes to play in holes in the ground, and some that aren't...."

"Kids," Horatio said again.

"Sorry, H.  Truth but sorry."

"Alex was here a few years back looking for one of the artifacts, that's how we met him," Horatio told her.

"He's got the sort of life that even a movie of it would be too far-fetched.  There's days when his friends just sit down with popcorn and watch him work.  Also, he fences.  He's a very skilled swordsman."

"I'm guessing he needs it to defend himself now and then," Eric said dryly.  He smiled at Frank Tripp as he came in.  "What's up, Frank?"

"Was that the little bastard Harris?" he demanded.  Horatio nodded.  "Why?"

"Mr. Wolfe's case was a homicide at a business owned by one Willow Rosenburg, Frank. On top of a Druid working circle."  Frank blinked at that.  "He came in as a favor and flirted with Speed and Eric."

"Better them than me this time!"

"See, told ya so," Speed told Eric, who just grinned.  "Hey, Frank, he said he'd bend Eric over but he was too much a good, sweet, and nice boy."

Frank snorted. "Delko?  He must've needed glasses."  He looked at Horatio again. "Didn't he say the same thing about you?"

"Indeed he did, Frank, but in my case he was correct," Horatio teased.  Frank snickered and shook his head, walking off.  "Mr. Wolfe, keep me informed please."

"Yes, Horatio."  Ryan waited until Horatio had walked off. "That was the real Xander Harris?"  Speed nodded. "You met him then?"

"No but I've met him since then.  He's helping a friend of mine with something in his area of expertise."  He shrugged and answered his phone.  "Speedle."  He groaned and held his head.  "Don, calm down.  What happened?"  He wanted so much to laugh.  "Calm down, head to Danny's house, Don.  Now."  He hung up and burst out laughing, leaning on the table.  "Oh, damn."

"Share!" Eric ordered.  "What did Don do?"

"He got so worried and fussed, he's a girl now," he snickered, walking off to tell Horatio that.  "Boss, can I have ten minutes to help Don?"  Horatio raised an eyebrow so he burst out in more giggles.  "He worried so much he had a small accident.  He's a girl."

"Go," Horatio said, shaking his head.  That was probably very cute.