The idea for the dog show came from Shadow on my Imaginings list. Thank you! Small angst.
The Information Highway
Greg looked up as his doorbell on the lab's door rang, going over to see who it was. He let Adam in, nodding back at the microscope. "We've been horribly optimistic."
"Because most of us don't go for herbal cures." He walked him around his separated samples. "When Eric told Xander to go to LA to drop Cordy off he went to most of the herb shops around the area. Some of them aren't very well labeled. Some of them have a lot of stuff that's already on the list without warning. Then again, there's a lot of stuff that we hadn't tested." He pointed at that pile. "I've found a few mixes that aren't listed very well. I've found a new substance we're all allergic to, and some that we're about half allergic to." That got a nod. "Want to see test results?"
"Present them to the research panel, Gregory." He looked at him. "How are you doing with Xander and the trio?"
"We're good. We're happy. I get all the cuddles I want and I help wear Xander out. Plus we're all pretty cool together. Why?"
"Xander's worried that he's wearing on them again."
"He's playing poker today."
"Why?" he moaned.
"Because he had to pay the IRS about two million recently."
"The dumbass has money," he said, shaking his head. He'd bop Xander later. "We'll figure it out, Adam." He grinned. "Thank you."
"You're doing us all a great service," he pointed out. "You've checked the list I've given you so far?"
"Most of it. I couldn't find a few of that exact brand or mix." He walked him over to the pile of 'done and allergic' things he had already sorted out. "These are what I have so far. Most of these have one of the others we've already noted in them. Some of them are local brands and some aren't. Some of them are actually herbs used in magic. Xander went there too. That's how the law firm found out about him." Methos muttered something. "I know. We had a rep in Las Vegas over one of their clients. Even Grissom swore at that one and I thought Brass's head was going to explode when he heard who the lawyer was. We'll handle it." He gave him a hug. "It'll be okay. This is Xander we're talking about."
"True." He calmed himself and patted Greg. "This is Xander and he's more able than most of us to get himself out of things. After all, he's very good at retrieving himself." Greg grinned at that. "He did recently. Then again they did hand him to Angel in LA."
"Yeah, Cordelia said Angel wants to turn him." Adam sighed and shook his head. "So, anything else I can show you?"
"No, you're doing fine, Gregory. Remember to go home now and then," he chided with a small smile. "Also, call your friends. One of the other members in the department out there said that someone caught Xander practicing and has shown the film around a bit in the labs. There was talk about another rescue effort."
Greg shook his head. "I'll call Hodges. Thanks, Adam."
"Not a problem. Also answer your email young man." He smiled. "Now, about this new foal?"
"He'll be going home soon. Xander's waiting for the right moment to open the portal. For right now he's being babied by Ryan's mares."
"That's fine. I'm sure he's an adoring little unicorn colt." He smiled and walked off, heading out to go home. He had a set of the tapes that Xander had made to teach others the dances. He needed to do more practice with it so he could learn his style of fighting. Even Ryan had problems defeating him. He'd only done it once that anyone knew about. Plus it did make for some interesting sex later on. It also made one very limber if what Xander said was true.
Greg regloved and got back to work on his new batch of samples. The computer checked it against known blood samples he had gathered from the local members. That way no one person's allergies would lead the whole group.
Xander smiled at the courier who brought him the mail from the front gate, taking the certified letter and signing the slips for him. That got a nod and he took the rest into the house. He looked at the letter from the IRS. It said what he and Steve thought it would say, that they couldn't find him and therefore couldn't pay on his social security number. To please call the local office to clear up this mistake on his part. He put it aside to do later and went through the rest of the mail. One was a slim package and he looked at it, smiling at the new tape shipment. He didn't know he was part of a record club. He looked at the selections. It was even something he would have picked. He did call them and ask who had set up the account because he didn't remember doing it. They said he had so he had to wonder....
Then again he knew he wasn't going to do those things. He always forgot to pay the bills, much less the CD club's little mailers to send back. He walked into the living room to read the rest of the mail. Don's got put in one pile. Danny's in another. Greg had a few too so he put those together. The rest were his magazines and another letter. That one looked important. He got into it, reading the simple letter that said his life was about to end. To look outside. "Spots, come with the daddy," he called. "Hubert, guard the ferrets." The animals did as ordered. "Hubert, you can attack anything who's not supposed to be here." He walked out with the dogs to the car, getting them inside and heading out. The letter was fairly specific. He drove them to the station and parked, leaning out to look at Calleigh. "Where's Don?"
"Inside, Xander. What's wrong with the dogs?"
"Oh, someone sent me a letter saying they were going to shoot me." She stared at him. "Can I bring in the dogs?"
"Not today. Go ahead in and I'll watch them while I'm out here." He shut off the engine and got out but one of the dogs did not want to stay inside so he let it follow him. She smiled at the other one, coming over to pet him through the window. One of the officers gave her a dirty look. "He just went inside. I told him he couldn't take them both inside. He's fine so far. If it's too long I'll let him out." That got a 'humph' and the officer went to report that.
Xander walked up to Don's desk then frowned since he wasn't there. No one was there. "Frank?" he called. Frank came out of interrogation. "I got a threatening letter again. Someone wants to shoot me."
Frank came over to look at it, frowning at the simple message. "Who's at home?"
"Hubert's guarding the ferrets."
"Good." He looked at him. "Don's just went out on a scene." He looked at the very obediently sitting dog then back at him. "Where's the other one?"
"In the car or with Calleigh."
"That's fine. Sit at Don's desk and don't touch anything. At all." Xander nodded, going to do that. Frank went to page whatever CSI was in residence to hand that over. Ryan came out giving him an odd look. He handed over the letter. "It came in today's mail."
"Wonderful. The envelope?"
"Couch," Xander called. He stood up to look at him. "Sorry, I forgot that part."
"That's okay, we can handle that," Ryan promised. He smiled at the dog. "You guard the daddy very well, Spot." He took the letter off. "Let me work on this, Xander."
"Sure, Ryan. Should I stay at home?"
"No, take the dogs out to do something public," Frank ordered. "Go to the dog trials today. They're in the main park by the canals and a lot of the K-9 officers are there."
"Okay." He took the dog out to the car, knowing it was in good hands. It's not like it was his first threat. He found the other one sniffing a bag for another officer. "He only does drugs, guys."
"That's fine. We wanted to see how well trained he was."
"He's trained on the major ones. Find, Spots." They both came over to sniff and one pawed at the handle then sat down. The other sniffed the officer and sat down behind him, earning a laugh. "They did good?"
"They did very good. They could use a refresher but dalmatians aren't the usual sort we'd use for bloodhounds either. If I remember right they're sight hounds." He petted them both. "Good boys!" They barked and wagged and bounced, earning pets from both of them. "Something wrong with them?"
"No, death threat. Someone wants to shoot me." He looked stunned. "Not the first but Ryan has it." He shrugged. "Frank said I should take them to see the dog trials."
"You should. It's a good exercise and goes well with how you've trained them so far."
"Cool. Come on, guys, let's go watch the professional puppies play." They got back into the car and he settled in. "Thanks. Have a better day." He waved and pulled out, heading to the park. He found the trials easily enough, it was well marked and open to the public. He smiled as he paid his fees. "Can my dogs come sit with me?"
"Sure. Are they trained?"
"To guard me. They're not aggressive with other dogs." She smiled at that so he went to get the dogs and bring them with him. He found a good spot on the ground since they didn't have bleachers or anything set up. The dogs watched the ones going over the obstacle course, then at him. "Do you two want to learn that? We can do that." He petted them both, watching as it went on. After the first set of dogs went over the course, another set was called and his bad things mental alarm started to go off, making him watch the surrounding areas. This one had a lot of the K-9 dogs in it so he watched even closer. He cuddled his pets closer to him while they watched, heads still tipped to the side like they couldn't figure out what the other dogs were doing. One of them barked quietly at a dog walking past and Xander smiled at the handler. "Hey. Do they offer this at the obedience school?"
She smiled at him. "We did teach him at it, Xander. Awwww, you have a matched set?" He beamed and nodded, petting them both. "They're adorable!"
"They are and they're both Spots." She laughed at that. "They are. Someone took me and gave me the second one. I didn't realize it wasn't mine." He stroked them both. "They're both very well trained." She smiled at that. "Do they teach the advanced finding stuff? The boyfriends are cops and give it to them now and then."
"They do. You'd have to ask since those are special classes. I think they both scored more than high enough to get in. Happy watching. We're in the next heat." She walked her sheppard off and both dogs leaned against him.
"She was nice at the classes, huh?" he asked them quietly, stroking over their ears. His mental alarm started to shriek so he looked around again, seeing ...something. He wasn't sure what. He got up and walked over to an officer about the same time as a gunshot went off. He saw an officer gripping his arm and then another one, which made a dog yelp. Officers were running after the direction of the shots. "The big fir tree!" he called, heading for the dog. Most everyone was with the officer. "Shh, baby. It's all right, I'm a friend. My boys are cops." He stroked his head, hearing the growl. "It's all right. I promise. Just relax and let me help you." He got his harness undone, seeing the shot. "He's got one in the side," he called. No one came over.
"Well, shit." He looked down, seeing the bright red, thick blood. Lung shot. Not good. His own dogs were standing guard over him and he was trying to stop the bleeding. An officer finally came over. "He got hit in the lung," he said. "Get him someone or get a car to bring him to the nearest vets." He ran off. "Shh, baby, I've got you. You'll be okay. Just rest on the Xander," he soothed, stroking over his head. "You're a good boy. You've been a very good boy. Your master loves you and wants you to get better," he soothed, keeping the dog calm and staying still. He kept trying to get up. The wounded officer finally got free and came over. "Lung shot," he said quietly. "Shh, baby. Your master loves you. You've been a very good officer and a good boy. A very good boy," he soothed, changing his grip on the wound. It slowed better but the dog let out a tired sounding yelp. He looked at the officer. "Yours?" He nodded. "Soothe him. He needs it."
"You're a good boy," he promised, leaning down to whisper in his ear.
Xander looked over as someone came running. Paramedics. "Can you guys help with the K-9 officer too?" One nodded and came over. "It's a lung shot." He shifted so they could get in. "Spot, move. He's helping." The dogs backed up a few steps and sat down again. One let out a small whimper. "It'll be okay," he promised, looking at his dog. "I promise it will be." He looked at the paramedic again since he had on gloves now. "Ready?" He nodded so Xander moved his hands, letting him have the dog's side. He had lost a lot of blood but the paramedic found the bleeding spot and got it clamped off for now.
The officer looked at him. "He goes first."
"Of course. He's more seriously injured." He whistled at someone. "Get a car here now! He needs a vet!" Someone went running to get a cruiser. "Shh, good boy."
"You're a very good boy," Xander agreed. The dog barked quietly. "Shh, just rest for now. It'll help and the daddy will be right there with you later." The officer looked at him. "I would be. It's comforting."
Xander nodded and got out of the way when the cruiser pulled up, whistling to bring his dogs with him. His mental alarm started to go off again and he ducked another shot. His dogs went after the person who was trying to hurt the daddy. "Spots! Heel!"
"Let them," someone called. He came jogging over, helping lift the dog up with the paramedic. His officer got into the cruiser under his dog's head, and that was all there was to that argument. Once they had taken off he came over to look at Xander. "Mr. Harris."
"Henry," he said, looking up at him. "I did what I could."
"Thank you." He helped him up. "Come on, let's get you a bit more cleaned up." His dogs chased someone their direction, and he did have a gun. "Boys, gun! Hit 'em!" he shouted. The other dogs got the running person down and shrieking for mercy.
"Spots!" Xander called again. They came over to pant at his feet, one of them dropping some cloth. "Good boys!" He petted them both. Then he winced at the blood. "Let daddy clean up and we'll play." They walked over to a water fountain and he used it to clean his hands off, then his poor dog's heads off. Then he petted them, making them happy puppies. "Daddy loves you guys. You're good boys." They barked and looked around. "We'll play when we get home." Someone tossed over a tennis ball and he smiled, tossing it for them. They ran after it and brought it back, letting him wear out some stress.
Chief Henry, the head of the K-9 unit came back, catching the ball this time. Both dogs stared at him, heads tipped and tails wagging. "Small problem. The cloth's not from the guy on the ground."
"Was he the one who shot at us?"
"Maybe not," he admitted. "We'll take you back to the station."
"I drove. I can follow."
"Sure. You do that. We'll bag the fabric and maybe they can figure out who it came from. Good boys to follow and fetch." He petted them both and handed over dog biscuits. "Now I see why you trained them."
Xander smiled proudly. "They're very good at it and Don's been making them check any poker winnings for drugs."
"Maybe you should train one for bombs and one for drugs." He walked him back to the car and got him inside. "Go right back to the detective's squad, Xander."
"Yes, Henry. Is he going to be okay?"
"We can only hope."
"I know. You did very good helping him. Go for now, okay?" Xander nodded and headed back there. He turned. "Let's clean this up," he called. "Bag that sample for CSI. His gun too. It's possible he's not the guy who fired the third shot." They nodded and got to work, all of them avoiding the puddles of blood.
Xander pulled back into the station and got out, walking both dogs inside. "Chief Henry told me to wait here. Someone shot at the dog trials and got one of the K-9 officers," he told the receptionist. "I'm to go up to the detectives' floor and wait."
"Go ahead, Xander. I'll sign you all in. What happened?"
"Someone shot a human officer then one of the dogs in the side," he said quietly. "We were handling that one and they took the furry officer off then someone fired a third shot and my boys here went after him. They brought back fabric but apparently didn't belong to the guy who came running and screaming out of the trees with a gun out." She just nodded. "So we're seeing." That got a small smile. "So mark me up there please." He got them into the elevator and out, running into Frank and Ray's backs. "It got shot at," he told Frank. Frank moaned. "One of the furry officers isn't in good shape. It was a lung shot, Frank."
"They'll handle it, Xander. Don's not back yet. He had to chase someone on foot." Xander nodded, going back to Don's desk. Frank wandered off muttering 'crap' over and over under his breath until he got to Dispatch. "What happened at the dog trials?" The tapes were handed over. He listened to them off to the side, shaking his head. "So they brought back fabric that didn't belong to the guy with the gun who came running away from them?" She nodded. "Interesting." He walked out, finding Horatio soothing Xander. "He's fine. The sample of fabric they caught didn't belong to the guy with the gun?"
"All I know is that my dogs took off after the guy who fired the third shot. Henry said to let them since he knows they're trained. They chased some other guy out of the woods with his gun out openly and the other K-9s got him. Henry said the fabric sample didn't belong to him though."
"So it's possible they didn't manage to bring down the other guy but they found a spare?"
"Or possibly the first one. I'm not sure if he got caught or not," Xander offered. "Not a clue yet but Chief Henry told me to wait here."
"That's fine, Xander. They did good protecting you and you did the right thing heading for the dog," Horatio promised. Xander gave him a weak smile. "Don's fine, I'm sure of it."
Danny came jogging back in and looked at Xander. "What's up?"
"Someone tried to kill me at the K-9 trials."
Xander nodded. "But both dogs did very good." They barked at that. "They did." He petted them both. "Where's Don?"
Xander stared at him. "Define fine."
"There was this swinging bar that nearly ripped his head off his neck but he's fine, Xander. He ducked when he saw it coming." Xander opened his mouth. "He's *fine*," he said more firmly. Xander sighed and nodded. "Good." He looked at Horatio. "Threatening letter?" It was handed over in the sealed bag. "Where's the envelope?"
"On the couch. I told Ryan that since Frank handed it to him before telling me to go watch the dogs. They were very confused by them. Heads tipped to the side and everything," he offered, petting both his dogs to stop the growling at the guy glaring at them. "Chief," he said.
"Mr. Harris. Thank you."
"Is he all right?" He shook his head. Xander wilted. "I tried."
"I know you did and you kept him calm. His last minutes were filled with many praises and love. It was how he would've wanted to go out." Xander nodded, sniffling some. "Now, what happened?"
"Tapes are in Dispatch," Frank told him. That got a nod and he went that way. "Xander, we're going to need to take a statement, okay?" Xander nodded, turning to the computer to open up the notepad program and type it out. "Good boy." He patted him on the head like he would the dogs. "Just stay calm for now." He looked over as the Chief came back. "How's the human officer?"
"He's the one who died," he said quietly. "He went to the vets and refused to go to the ER until he was sure his dog was all right. The dog's still in surgery." Xander looked at him. "You did your best, no matter what happens."
"Did they get the first shooter?"
"I'm finding that out now. Who was hit first?"
"The human officer. It hit his upper shoulder, next to his neck. The dog was just a few seconds later and most of the officers either ran after the shooter or went to him. I stayed with the dog since no one else was."
"Good. That's what I wanted you to do, Xander. The third shot?"
"I had gotten the paramedic over to help the poor furry officer and he took over. I stood up and was looking around. Both Spots had stood guard over us. The third shot went off and they ran after the person. Chief Henry said to let them."
"They're very well trained and we'll see who the cloth belongs to," he promised, smiling gently at him. "Go ahead and finish the preliminary statement." Xander nodded, going back to his typing. He looked at Horatio. "I want to know which one we caught, Horatio. Immediately."
"Calleigh's on her way back to do the gun, Chief. She responded on scene to do it there. When she found out they had found a probable shooter she turned it over to Eric and came back with it."
"Thank you." He walked off, going to manage the scene.
Horatio and Frank both hugged Xander then let him type while Horatio drew Danny off to talk about what happened to Don during his chase. Because they still hadn't found who had pushed Xander off the road and killed him that time. They hadn't acted since then but either the chase or the letter could be them.
Greg pounced Don when he came home, cuddling him. "You're all right."
"I'm fine, Greg. I ducked and everything." He stroked his back, calming him down. "It's all right but we could probably use you tomorrow." Greg looked at him. "We can. Xander got mailed a death threat."
"Ryan told me so I bagged the envelope and brought it to him," he promised, leading him back to the living room. "The mail's still untouched too." He pointed at the record club mailing. "When did we join one of those?"
"We didn't," Xander admitted. "But they did it in my name. I've already called to cancel it and paid it since they used a card Steve got rid of after Willow and Buffy got captured." He sat down and the dogs climbed into his lap, along with Hubert. "Hey, baby. Are the ferrets sleeping?" The dragon nodded and settled in between the dogs to get his share of the petting. "We're having a family meeting tonight, Greg."
"I heard and I've closed up the lab for the day," he promised. "I'm here if Horatio needs me." That got some smiles. "Xander, are you all right?"
"The third shot didn't get anywhere near me, Greg."
"Not what I meant and you know it."
"I'm a bit sad. The human officer died while they were helping his partner. His partner will be okay but he's being retired." He shrugged. "I'm sure he'll have a loving family to go to." That got a hug from him. "Don's head nearly came off," he said quietly. "We could've lost him."
"Shh, we'll spoil Don. He knows how much he means to us," Greg soothed. Xander nodded and hugged Don too, letting him have one of the dogs to pet.
"I'm fine, guys. It's all right."
"It's not all right. Someone tried to take your head outside of the game," Xander said firmly. "I want this person."
"So do we," Danny promised. "We'll get him too. For right now, I want you to calm down. No doing anything against him."
"Not even a curse to be caught?"
"No," Don said firmly. "That's a last resort. Let us do it our way first, Xander."
"I'm not..." They all glared at him. "I can help!"
"Xander, we want you to stay pampered and protected," Don said firmly. "That's why you came to me, remember."
"Don, I've fought in a battle before!"
"I heard. I don't care. You're not part of the lab. The lab will handle this and there's enough that're family to help us," he said firmly, pulling Xander over to cuddle. "I'm more worried that someone tried to shoot you and we got a death threat here at the house." Xander slumped and cuddled him. "You're protecting yourself and the animals. This isn't someone trying to end the world. This is someone trying to out immies and we're handling it. Just protect yourself for now." Xander frowned but nodded. "Thank you. You're too precious to lose." He kissed him on the forehead then let him go. "Does this mean I can have ice cream for dinner?" Danny snorted but nodded, smirking at him. "Good. Someone get us dinner. No calling Fu's, Xander."
"Not even about earlier or the death threat?"
"Let us try it our way first," Danny ordered. "That way you don't get more compromised in that land of acquaintances."
Greg looked at him. "How was the earlier poker date?"
"I did okay, nothing spectacular."
"Like gas money okay or like few grand okay?" Greg teased. Xander blushed a bit but stared at him with a small grin. "Few grand okay?" Xander nodded. "Where is it?"
"In the bank. I came in complaining about the IRS. They all understood and the last person who owes me money finally paid."
"Congrats." He gave him another kiss. "I saw the IRS envelope."
"They encourage me to come in to fix the mistake I made in reporting my identity."
"Then you'll do that tomorrow," Don ordered. "Can't get much more protected than that." Xander sighed and nodded. "Best to get it out of the way sooner, Xan." He kissed him gently. "Now, calm down and go order us something for dinner?" Xander went to do that. "Not Chinese."
"Thank you." The two CSI shared a look and Greg went to cuddle Xander with the dogs, who were still being protective of the daddy. Don looked at the dragon. "Did anyone come today?" The dragon gave him a smug look. "Is that a yes?" He snorted and walked over to the door that lead to the mirror house across the realm. Danny came to open it, gun in hand, Don behind him. They found a gibbering young man wearing bike messenger's clothes. "Come on," Don ordered. "MDPD." The man cried and clutched him, crying on him. "Come on." He walked him back to the other front lawn while Danny checked the rest of the house with the dragon. "Now, what are you doing here?"
"I came to deliver a message," he said, digging it out. "They paid me to deliver it here. Then a dragon attacked me and I nearly got eaten! It shoved me over there and it's strange! What is going on!"
Don looked at him and tapped his badge. "First of all, were you in the house?"
"The front door was open!"
"I don't care. That's still breaking and entering, kid." The guy wilted. "We'll see what we can do when you tell us who sent the message." He called dispatch to get a car over there for the guy, looking at the message. It got handed to Horatio when he showed up as well. "Hubert shoved him over there and shut the door on him."
"It's a smart move. You can't get out when the door's closed." He walked over to question the messenger from the back of the patrol car. When he got everything he could and decided the kid hadn't meant to do anything illegal, he let the officers drive him back to his dispatch office. He looked at the note again. //This is your lucky day. Your old man ain't here. Just you and me, Danny boy. Tonight, grainery. 8pm.// Unsigned. It was not a good omen. "Danny?" He came out looking confused. He let him have the message and Danny glared at it. "A sword problem or a family one?"
"Family of the old sort," he said bitterly. "Tell Mac. He'll want this one. I'm not goin'." He went back inside.
"We could trap him."
"It depends on how he got off the charges," he called as he walked off. "Tell Mac now, Horatio."
Horatio did that, speaking quietly until Mac started to yell. He even heard a swear word. Mac did take down the address and promised to send Stella to get the note. That she'd be able to explain everything to him. He hung up and considered it. So maybe it wasn't connected to the other things. Which meant they had two or possibly three situations running concurrently. That was not a good thing. He went inside to get information on the other ones and tell them all what they had. Especially Greg since he'd be coming in from the outside and was therefore vulnerable.
Xander looked up from his regular kata with his sword when someone coughed, sounding amused. He looked at the man standing there. Balding, a bit pudgy. White guy. Light hair. "Do I know you?"
"Then why are you on my lawn?"
"I heard this is CSI Messer's house."
"No, it's my house. Danny's a friend. Why?" he asked blandly. He wiped off his face and looked at him. "I'm waiting."
"I wanna talk to Danny."
"He's at work. Leave a message. Beep," he said flatly.
The guy laughed. "That's real cute," he said, his natal New York accent coming out stronger. "When will he be home, boy?"
Xander snorted. "What makes you think I'm gonna tell you? If you want something you tell me and I'll pass it on."
"You his secretary?"
"Like I said, he's a friend." He glared at him. "And? I'm waiting. You're interrupting my day." The man sneered. Xander pulled his gun and pointed it at him. "Now, fuckwad." The man backed up, hands up, but he didn't look too upset. "HELP!" The gate opened a few seconds later and the neighborhood patrol came rushing in. "This guy wants Danny. We've had death threats."
"I heard from Lieutenant Caine, sir," one of them agreed, pulling out his cuffs. "Hands behind your back, sir."
"I'm here peacefully," he warned.
Xander yawned for show and put his gun back. "Yay. This way you'll get to see Danny sooner. He wanted Danny."
"I'll call them. If he's harmless they'll let them talk at the station. Hands behind your back, sir."
"This was a bad mistake."
"And I'll have you eaten," Xander said with a shrug. "So? I played poker with the Mala Noches. You don't scare me." The man gaped in horror. Xander smiled sweetly. "Now, go with the nice guys. They'll make sure you see Danny." The guy burst free and ran for the gate. The officers after him, the dogs running to help. "Spots! He's not the ball!" They came back once the guy was past the gate. Xander went inside to call Danny's cell, getting Calleigh. "Did Danny forget it? No, not lunch. I had someone come up while I was doing katas on the front lawn looking for him. White guy, a bit pudgy, light hair. Didn't say his name or give me a message. Just demanded Danny. I got tired of the verbal joust and called neighborhood patrol on him. He just escaped. Not a clue. He said it was a bad mistake when I called them. I mentioned some of the poker buddies and he didn't look too unimpressed with that." He smiled. "No, he said this was Danny's house and I told him it was mine and Danny was a friend. He didn't mention Don at all. Thanks, Calleigh." He hung up and went back outside, handing the guys bottles of water since they were back. "I told Calleigh since she had Danny's phone."
"Thank you, Xander," the higher ranking officer said with a smile. "Keep the dogs with you and the gate locked."
"I thought it was."
"Us too," he admitted, and they went to check that, taking off the scrambler. They also called the neighborhood security people to check it just in case.
Xander looked at his dogs. "Good boys." They wagged their tails. "Let daddy finish his morning workout and we'll play." He got back to it, letting the dogs watch over him.
Calleigh hung up and looked at Horatio. "That was Xander. A white guy, kinda pudgy, light hair just tried to get to Danny at the house. He escaped the neighborhood patrol, Horatio."
"Take a picture of Danny's idiot accuser and see if it was him." She nodded, going to do that, finding Danny coming out of the bathroom so she could hand back his phone and brief him. "Mac?"
"I've got his full file," he promised, pulling it out to hand over. "That's the only problem I can see following Danny. Sonny Sassone."
Danny walked in and looked at the last picture. Then he called Xander. "Describe him?" He listened then shrugged. "Balding? New Yorker?" He nodded. "Okay, stay safe. Calleigh's coming with a picture. If it's him we need ta know. Because he's mafia and he tried ta say I was dirty, Xander." He smiled at his outbreak of swearing. "Exactly. So look really carefully when she gets there. I agree, keep the dogs with you all day. Play a lot of fetch with them. They deserve it." He hung up. "It could be. We'll see. She can probably pull something off the community's gate cams. I know we've got one on ours."
"Hopefully it's not someone new," Mac offered.
Danny shrugged. "I'm hoping it's not the guy who tried ta take Flack's head off during a chase, Mac."
Mac looked horrified. "Is that what the family meeting was about?"
"That and Xander nearly got shot at the dog trials," Frank agreed. "Speaking of, Danny. Chief wants to honor him."
"I figured as much. You might wanna talk to him, Horatio."
"I will." He made a note to do that later after talking to Xander. "For right now, we've got to weed out some of these problems."
"We will," Mac assured him. "Greg's good and helping you guys too."
"He is," Horatio agreed. "He's handling the sniper attack in the park." That got some nods and one smile. "He was very upset that someone decided to shoot at the K-9 officer."
"You think they were aiming for him?" Danny asked.
"I do," Frank agreed. "Someone there had video. From the tentative position in the trees, he was aiming for the dog. That specific dog since he was in the clear." He put his feet down. "Now what, Horatio?"
"Frank, work on that one with Greg please. Eric and Ryan have the subtle assaults that are going on around us. I'll work with Calleigh on this new one and Mac can figure out if this character is down here." That got nods. "I want updates as soon as we have anything. Danny, handle your last case."
"Of course." He walked off, going to handle that. It was a triple homicide and he wanted to see someone dead for killing the mother and twins. Horatio knew that and knew his temper was going to get out of hand if someone in the family was really hurt.
Xander woke up from a nap and found the same guy at the foot of the couch. "Who the fuck are you?"
"Should've locked the doors, Mr. Harris."
"Yay me. Hubert!"
"The lizard thingy? It's locked in the kitchen with the dogs. We should talk."
"I don't think so." He sat up and looked at him. "I really don't. So, are you that Sonny guy? Because that was a crap booking picture."
"No, I'm not him."
"Oh. Okay. So who are you then?"
"I'm here for Messer."
"Then I'd go to the station."
"See, I've got what he wants," he said smugly.
Xander snorted. "Not like I'm a cooperative hostage."
"You will be or I'll shoot you." Xander took off his shirt to show off the scars he carried, getting another small gape. "You...."
"From Sunnydale. Out by LA. Yeah." He lunged over and knocked him down, getting the knife from him. He stabbed him in the stomach and pulled back, shrugging. He got the gun free and called Horatio. "Hey, boss? I had to stab the guy from earlier. He was standing at the foot of my couch and woke me from my nap. Well, he did say he was going to shoot me and he said he wasn't that Sonny guy. Still insists he wants Danny. No, stomach. That way you can ask him all sorts of stuff. Please, Horatio? Thanks." He smiled as he hung up, giving him a fond pat on the head. "Aren't you so cute," he cooed, smirking at him. The man growled something and Xander slugged him across the jaw. "That's for saying such rude things in my house. Only Don and Danny get to swear in here unless I hurt myself." He heard cars with sirens coming and went to unlock the gate, watching it not open. He called the gate house. "My gate's stuck and I've got a person here with a stomach wound. Thank you." The gate was forced open by them, letting in the paramedics and the officers. "He woke me up from my nap. Said I was going to be a hostage so he could get Danny," he told the officers.
"Lieutenant Caine said that, sir. Can you please sit down?"
"Sure." He sat down on the couch again, staring at him. The man glared at him so he smiled and wiggled his fingers. "Not to bad for a twenty-three-year-old gay guy from near LA, huh?" he asked fondly. "Oh, guys, my pets are in the kitchen. Can you please check on them?" One of the officers went to check, coming back wincing. "They all right?"
"The dogs are. The lizard thing isn't looking too healthy, sir." Xander bounced up and went to check, coming out to find the first aid kit and steal something off the paramedics then taking his dragon buddy to the vets. They could find him. One of the cars shadowed him.
The dogs sat down and stared at the paramedics, one woofing silently. They looked up. "He's a bad guy but we're taking him away." The other one sniffed and growled. "Did he hurt the lizard?" That one barked and sniffed again, snapping at him. The man shrieked and tried to move. He looked down. "Hurt their friend?" he asked bitterly.
"It's an evil thing! It was going to eat me!"
"I'm sure," Ryan said as he stomped in. "Who the fuck are you?" The man looked surprised. "Yeah, you get me, fucktard. Now, name?" The man started to babble and Ryan glared. "Again, name?" He babbled it. "Thank you." He typed that into the PDA from the hummer, getting his file. "Huh, drug dealer. Let me guess, you owed Xander money for poker debts?"
The man shook his head. "No!"
"Then why did you want Danny?"
"Because he's got to be stopped!"
"No, Messer! He's a bad cop!"
"No he's not," Ryan said blandly. "He's a very good cop. He's a great CSI and a very good cop. What's wrong, did he bust you?" he said facetiously. The man moaned and nodded as he was shifted. "Good! Did you shoot the K-9 dog and the other officer?" The man clamped his mouth shut. "You could die and go to hell without confession and we'll pin it on you anyway." The remaining officers gave him an odd look. "Well?"
"They were stopping our drug trade!"
"No shit! It's illegal. Of course we are," he agreed. "Get him out of here. Officers, go with them. Xander?"
"Took his lizard thing to the vets, CSI Wolfe. He was bleeding on the kitchen floor. We have a unit following him in case he's going to be arrested."
"I saw the blood. Thank you." They went with the suspect, going to make sure he couldn't escape this time. He called Horatio. "Horatio, Ryan. The guy who broke in was the one who confessed to shooting the dog and the officer. It seems they were hampering his drug trade. The ER with a pair of officers. Xander stabbed him in the stomach but he apparently hurt Hubert so he took him to the vets. There's an officer following him. No, the dogs are fine. Good boys, Spots." They barked and he petted them and got them treats, making them happy dogs. "Daddy has Hubert and he'll be fine. Sure, I can process this. He said he was the guy who shot the K-9 when I asked him. Go right ahead, boss. I told him if he didn't confess we'd pin more things on him." He grinned. "He did look a bit offended at that. Yeah. I'll be fine. Both dogs are here." He hung up and got to work on the fingerprints and the gun Xander had taken off him. That was one of the big problems down. Two or three more to go.
Xander looked up when Don stomped into the vet's office, hopping up to hug him. "They're doing what they can but they're not sure exactly what has to be done."
"Shh. It'll be okay. Hubert's a very strong baby dragon," he soothed, stroking his back. Xander went limp against his chest. "Shh, Xander. I've got you." Xander looked at him. "He was the guy who shot the officers at the dog trial." Xander nodded, hiding his face again. "I've got you." He looked at the nurse giving them a fond look. "His baby dragon?"
"Is out of surgery and is resting. He can go back once he's awake." Xander looked at her, then walked over to hug her. "He'll be just fine. We closed the hole and took out the small piece of knife we found." Xander nodded, going back to hugging Don. "Get him seated. That way he can't collapse again."
"He did," she agreed. She went back to tell the doctor that a more sensible member of that family was there. The officer was still silently sitting in the corner of the waiting area watching him. She came back out. "Officer?" He looked over. "Need some coffee or something?"
"Take a break," Don ordered, holding up his badge. "Frank's on his way." That got a nod and the officer headed to the bathroom and to take her up on the offer of coffee from the break room. Don went back to soothing Xander, looking over when Frank came in. "Hubert should be fine. Is he in trouble?"
"For stabbing the guy who broke into his house? Not hardly. The same prosecutor started off again and Horatio glared her to silence and whimpering." He patted Xander on the head. "He'll be fine, kid. You know that." Xander looked up, looking like a little kid. "He'll be just fine and Ryan's been checking over the dogs." Xander nodded, putting his head back down on Don's shoulder. "We need a statement, Xander." He pointed at a folded piece of paper on the magazine table. "You wrote it out?"
"The officer said to," he said quietly.
"Sure. Let's look at it." He sat down across from Xander, pulling a chair closer so he could look at the information. Xander had the style down very well. He looked at him. "He woke you up?"
"I woke up and he was standing there. I don't know what woke me but I'm assuming it's him." He looked at him. "Did he live?" Frank nodded. "Pity." He went back to his cuddling.
Frank gave him a faint smile. "You know, the Chief wants to give you a commendation for helping the K-9 officer, Xander."
"I'll hide and never come out again."
"I'll make sure he knows that." He reached over to pat him on the knee. The officer came back out of the break room. "Go ahead and clock out, Officer. I've got him."
"Are we arresting him, sir?"
"No. Not for stabbing the guy who broke into his house and said he was a hostage." That got a nod and he walked off, going to write up his last report and head out for the day. Frank looked at Xander again. "It'll be okay."
"It won't be. How did he get in and lock the gate?"
"Locked the gate?" Don asked.
"It wouldn't open."
"Huh. We'll have to see. I didn't think it was possible." He went back to soothing Xander, letting him hop up when the vet came out. "How's Hubert?"
"Just fine. He's just now woken up." Xander bounced on the balls of his feet. "You can go see him but be aware he could be mean since he'll be in a little bit of pain. I'm still not sure what sort of pain killers we can give him, Mr. Harris." Xander nodded, following the nurse back there. "He's yours?" he asked Don, who nodded. "He did a good field dressing and got him here in more than enough time. Good job teaching him."
"He's from near LA. He's had to do it in the past," Don offered. "Can I get that knife tip?"
"You can. We also took pictures of the wound." He went to get those for him, handing them over. "Was the person caught?"
"Oh, yeah. Xander stabbed him," Frank agreed. That got a smirk from the doctor. "The dragon'll be fine?"
"He should be perfectly fine with some rest and healing time." He smiled. "You can both go back to see him if you want. Xander's a bit high strung. He was babbling and he sounded like he was on helium when he came in." Don smiled at that, going back to check on their boy. He looked at Frank. "The officer had a taped statement from him."
"I'll make sure I get it tomorrow. Thank you, Doctor."
"Not a problem. We don't see too many exotics around here but it's a good thing we were close by." He went back there, letting Frank call whoever then come join them. He found Xander petting the dog through the bars, giving him a smile. "He was horribly injured the other day at a dog trial."
"I know. I kept his bleeding down," Xander said quietly. "You're a good boy." The dog barked. "Good boy. You rest and heal." He gave him one last pet then went back to his own baby. "Hi, Hubert. Oooh, my poor baby!" He stroked over his head, getting a grunt. "I know. Being stabbed isn't fun. I remember being stabbed." The dragon looked at him. "I was." He went back to petting him. "When can he come lounge around the house?"
"Probably in a few days. We'll want to monitor him at least for tonight." The dragon grumbled and shook his head. He blinked. "He's intelligent?"
Xander smiled and nodded. "I told you he was a baby dragon." The vet stared at him. "I found him in a bazaar while traveling overseas." He went back to petting him. "It'll be okay. Even Danny can't complain when you hog his pillow, Hubert. You're a good boy." The dog barked so he smiled at him. "You are too. I think he wants out to stretch for a minute." The vet went to look at him and let him out to check his dressings, watching how he stood up. "I have dalmatians."
"Who miss you," Don assured him. He smiled at their pet. "Hey, Hubert, should we bring you a treat tonight? Maybe duck from Fu's?"
"Is that wise?" the vet tech asked.
"He eats from there a lot. Fu loves him," Xander said with a small grin. He smiled at his baby. "Want some duck?" He belched and shook his head, putting it back down. "Nap time?" That got a small sigh of steam. "Okay, we'll let you nap and we'll be in here as soon as we can in the morning, all right? We'll bother them all night long." The dragon purred at that and let the tech lift him into a cage and make him comfortable. "He usually eats raw, rare, or teriyaki meat," he offered. "Can I bring him some?"
"We'll feed him some wet dog food tonight. It'll be easier on his system then firm meat." He nodded. "It'll be fine and you can spoil him when he comes home." Xander hugged her then the vet again, petting the dog too before letting Don walk him out. He smiled at Frank. "You're one spoiled exotic pet," she teased. The dragon gave her a 'duh' look and she smiled. "It'll be fine. Try to eat tonight, okay?" The dragon steamed but put his head back down. "You rest, Hubert. It'll probably be tomorrow before you can go home." She went to help with the K-9 officer, putting him back into his cage since he was starting to look wobbly. "You're a good boy," she soothed, stroking over his head. He barked and let his tail wag a bit. "If I knew what toy your master used I'd give it to you." The dog put his head down. "How about we give you a special chew bone?" She went to get one, finding Xander making a call from his boyfriend's cellphone. He hung up and handed her something, letting her run his credit card for the charges and expected charges. Plus the chew toy since he handed one to her. She let him sign the slip and then they left with the other officer behind them. "They're adorable," she told the vet, who nodded. She handed the dog the chew toy. "From the human who petted you just now." He settled in to gnaw on the toy. It was good enough for now.
Xander walked into the house and fell down to hug his other pets, cuddling them to him. "You guys are all right."
"They are, I checked them all," Ryan promised, petting his hair. "Let them go." Xander glared at him. "When you can there's food."
"You still have to eat," Don said firmly. He looked at Ryan. "Frank's got the statement he wrote out."
"Sure. The officer bagged and logged a taped statement too. I already checked. He fired the first and second shots at the dog trial. We're pretty sure the fabric comes from the guy who shot the third shot. It had some gunpowder residue on it. The guy with the gun pulled it when he saw the dogs running after him. He gave us a small description and we're weeding it down." Xander looked up at him. "That leaves us to find out if he's involved in your accident and Don's head being in danger by that flying piece." Don shuddered. "It'll be okay and everyone's coming over for dinner. Danny came home to cook but he's making calls up there to see what's going on." Don nodded, going to check on Danny while Xander finished his cuddling. "Did Frank follow you guys?"
"He stopped to talk to the guard house," Xander said quietly.
"It'll be fine, Xander. We're handling it," he reminded him. Xander looked at him. "I promise we are." Xander nodded, letting the dogs go. "After I got done I played many rounds of fetch with them until they were tired. Now, come give me a cuddle?" Xander came up to cuddle him, just resting against him. "Good boy, Xander." He stroked his back. "Everything will be fine."
"Can't I curse them yet?"
"Not yet," he soothed. "Soon. If we can't handle it you can." Horatio came in through the front door. He handed over the postcard he had found from his nephew, getting a smile. "Hubert will be fine."
"So Frank said. Xander?" Xander looked at him. "We're very close to catching the person who endangered Don." Xander nodded but went back to his cuddling. "That's fine, a cuddle is a good thing at this moment." Danny came back with his notes, handing them over and taking Xander to hold, making him sigh in pleasure. He had known he was right to suggest Danny as his main keeper way back when.
Xander walked into the chinese restaurant and looked at the owner. "Got a few?"
"I can't help you, Xander. I do not know."
"I'm not wondering about the person who's targeting certain members of the family. I'm not even wondering about the person who sent me the death threat and if they're the same person." He nodded. "They are?" He nodded. "Okay. Thank you for that much. I want to know about this new guy, Sonny, who came down to get Danny."
He considered it. "It's a difficult thing to be neutral."
"Can you hand me to someone who'd give me information? We don't need this on top of the person who crashed my car, nearly took Don's head off, and sent me the death threat."
"In those cases, it's an organization almost. Not quite."
"Interesting. Anyone I can ask about Sassonne?"
"You could ask him yourself."
"I could but then I'd probably kill him." He shrugged. "We all know I fought nightmares, Fu."
"I have heard that," he admitted, smirking at him. "He's across the dining area. He's actually going to sit in on your usual game."
"Charming." He gave him a look, getting a shrug. "Is that ethical?"
"Your mates will scream."
"Ya think? They told me I couldn't even ask or curse them." He gave him a long look. "By the way, thank you for sending Hubert the duck at the vet's. He was very happy with it and it helped him feel much better. What sort of mushrooms were those?"
"Ah. Those. That explains why he only belched and smiled all night. Thank you."
"Welcome. He isn't involved in that other problem. Or the lab assaults."
"Another good thing to know. You know, my cruise ship is nearly finished." That got a smile. "They still haven't seen it yet. Our planned trip got broken short when I had to marry the princess off." That got a snicker. "Thank you, Fu." He looked around and spotted the guy in the pictures. "I won't make you clean up." He walked over there, turning a chair around and sitting in it backwards, staring at the guy.
The man stared for a minute, then smirked. "You're Harris."
"No shit. You're upsetting my boys."
"Your boys?" he laughed. "You have a gang now?"
"No, I have a hormone condition that can enslave this entire city and make them beg at my feet if I want."
Sonny smirked. "Prove it." Xander raised an eyebrow and took the bracelet off that Ares had made him put on that morning. He moaned and shifted. "Enough! Fine!" Xander slipped it back on. "That's some strong shit."
"Yeah, and you're upsetting the people who keep me calm and out of trouble. The only people who can make me back down. Comprende vous?"
"You speak french?"
"I tried in high school. That's about what I took out of it. However I do speak Latin, Greek, a few demonic languages, and I read a few others." Sonny blinked at that. "That's the playground I grew up in. Your streets have nothing on hunting former humans every night," he said blandly. "I can have you turned if you upset Danny. Remember, if he can't wear me out, I get worse and I've learned how to target others." A small chime rang. "If you're playing in my game, little boy, that's the signal." He got up and went into the back room, weathering the stares. "No, I'm not a happy camper. Someone very stupid is upsetting my family and someone stabbed my baby dragon." He put down a stack of money and got a nod from the dealer, who counted it and handed over chips. "We doing real chips or just for show?"
"Real chips," the dealer offered. Sonny came in with his refilled plate. "That's fine. Waiters come in periodically to get drink orders." He looked at the others. "We're missing two of the regulars."
"Horatio got Homer because one of his boys stabbed my dragon. The other one's hiding from me before I kill him," Xander said dryly. "He tried to pay me in drugs again." The dealer shuddered. Xander leaned back and opened the door. "Hey, Fu, tell Wyatt I'm not pleased with the poker buddy who paid me on Tuesday. For the usual reasons. And can I have my usual coke?" That got a nod and one was brought in by Wyatt. "Yeah, Stupid did it again. Oh, and Horatio got Homer because one of his boys stabbed Hubert."
"Is your dragon gonna be all right?"
"Yeah, he'll be fine," Xander said with a small smile. "I got him to the vet's in time. He was standing there at the foot of the couch when I woke up." Wyatt shuddered. "He's damn lucky all I did was stab him."
"I'll let them know."
"Let the others know I'm looking for useable information, even quiet, on who's targeting my family? The guy who rammed me, nearly got Don's head taken off, and sent me the death threat. Please?"
"Sure. The General wanted to know if you'd play against him."
"In the mood I'm in he'd win and gloat. Tell him I will if he pays me." That got a nod. "Thanks, Wyatt. How much?"
"Two like usual, Xander." He handed over a ten. "I'll run your tab."
"Hey, if you'd go straight, maybe Steve could use some help."
Wyatt patted him on the head. "I like your fairytale world, Xander. Remember that, okay?" Xander grinned at him. "I'm too illegit for him. Besides, he doesn't do too many others, does he?"
"About thirty others but the IRS thing has been making him lose hair at alarming rates."
"Ah. I noticed some shedding," he teased, yanking lightly on the braid he was wearing. "Cute band. Rubies?" Xander beamed and nodded. "Very cute bling. Tasteful even. Let me know when you need a refill and I'm taking tax accounting next semester."
"The IRS still says I don't exist. I was down there this morning. The other reason for the bad mood."
"I'll pass it around that you're looking." He patted him on the head and walked out to tell his boss that, start the tab, and make sure someone knew he was down there playing poker with Sonny Sassone.
Xander leaned on the table. "I'm done. You gonna eat during the game? If so, I recommend the beef and peppers or the teriyaki anything. My whole family likes it." He grinned. "We in?"
"We're in," the dealer agreed, starting to deal the first hand. "Ante, boys." Xander looked at his hand and folded, shaking his head. The dealer smiled. "Luck not with you today?"
"Before the GHS convention in Vegas I lost for a week straight at baccarat. I take those moods. Usually when I'm pissed. I promise not to hormone anyone else today." That got some laughs from the other guys. "Seriously, guys. Not a happy camper by any means." He sipped his soda and watched how the new boy played. The next hand was all his and he won big, making Sonny sneer at him. He smirked back. "I've got a Vegas file," he said proudly. Sonny shuddered at that. "Electronics are my friends." The others gaped in horror. "The same way I knew that we had bugs the last time, guys. I can tell when they're gonna hit. Horatio nearly spanked me the last time I got near one. Greg did spank the last time I got near one. Ryan just sighs and pulls me off. Danny and Don simply stare in awe. And Speed laughs his ass off because they deserve it." That got some giggles from the dealer. "Don't I?"
"He does. It's listed as a natural but unenhanced ability to know when electronic games are going to pay out."
"Which is why I only play poker and baccarat. Because I'm evil." He smiled sweetly at the dealer.
"Do you count cards?" one guy asked.
"Gut instinct. Ryan taught me believe it or not. My very first trip to Vegas." That got some amused looks. "Really. We going again?" The dealer dealt the next hand and he considered it. It wasn't great. It wasn't giving him that tingly feeling but he felt something. Maybe he needed to eat. He bet conservatively and came in second but that was fine. Two low pairs was better than one high one, which was what most everyone else had. Sonny kept watching him and he adjusted his bracelet, making him shudder. He started to concentrate on breaking Sonny's roll of money, making him sweat and swear a few hands. On the final one it was a double or nothing round and everyone but those two had stayed out of it. Xander looked at his hands. Bad hand. Very bad hand. He gave the dealer a look, getting a scared one back. "Sonny, you wanna stick with this hand or redeal?"
"Redeal please." He put them down, Xander put his down. One of the other players took the cards to shuffle and deal. "Better," he admitted. He heard the wicked chuckle and moaned. He was learning that was a bad sign. The boy put down a full house, he had a trio. He was so screwed. "Give me a day to get the money?"
"Tell you what, you leave Danny the fuck alone evermore and leave my city before I have to go back to New York and start destroying the families up there. You can even write him a nice little note. I'll be hiding by then." Sonny quirked an eyebrow up. Xander leaned on the table and sipped his soda. "Just think, Sonny. I'm Danny's concubine. His pet kitten." He smirked at his moan of complaint. "Up to you. You now owe me about six hundred thousand?" he asked the dealer, who nodded. He looked at Sonny again. "Leave me and mine the fuck alone. Miami's my city and you're making me want to act out. There's already enough going on down here."
"I'm retired, kid."
"Really? Then you have no plans of going after Danny? Don? Mac? Stella?" He saw the flinch on Mac's name. "Mine, pretty boy. Very much my family."
"To some your harem," one guy joked to take some of the tension out of the air.
"True," Xander said with a grin for him. "Mac makes a great harem guardian." He looked at Sonny again. "You leave me and my harem alone. You can even stay in Miami as long as you leave me and my harem alone. Permanently."
"Fine," he agreed. "I do have some of the information you want."
"Baby, I pay for information but you haven't been here that long. Trust me, there'll be others who'll be begging later." Sonny gaped. "Not for sex, stupid." He stood up and gathered up his chips. "Cash me out?" The dealer counted them twice and cashed him out openly. "Thanks, man. Gotta make up for the IRS being twats somehow. Laters." He walked off, heading outside. He found Frank staring at his car. "In for lunch? They were making a new batch of chicken gumbo for the Cajun guys who'll be playing tonight."
Frank looked at him. "No, dumbass, I came to find you. You were doing what?"
"A friendly game of poker to make up for the house taxes." He shrugged and checked his car over then got in and headed back home with a cheery beep. Sonny could now be destroyed if he didn't keep his word and he'd enjoy the hell out of that. Let the others worry, he had plans now.
Frank found Don and Mac together on a scene and coughed, handing Don the letter. "Someone at Fu's asked that I give that to one of Xander's bitches as he so kindly put it in his New York accent."
"Read it. You'll wanna swear at the boy for making up for the house taxes too."
Don sighed and leaned against the hummer to read it, then looked at him. "My boy is where?"
Frank smiled. "He left with a cheery little beep. Apparently he's going to make him honor that deal or else. He had that look on his face, ya know?"
"Oh, I so do," Don agreed, handing it to Mac. Who spluttered and groaned. "Hey, you yell at me when I spit on the crime scene."
Mac glared at him then called Danny. "Messer, Taylor. Yes, there is a reason. Because your toy decided to face down Sonny." He listened to the story Xander had told him. "Oooh, he didn't know Sonny would be there. Interesting. Fu introduced them, Don."
"Yay," he agreed happily. "They played poker?"
"Xander said he won three years of house taxes off him. The last one was a double or nothing round and Xander won it. It was that deal or else he'd have a day to get the other six hundred thousand down here to pay him. If he took it, he'd keep just the money he already had. As long as he left all the family alone forever more according to what he told Danny."
"Which means he can be punished if he breaks it, right?" Frank asked.
"That works for me," Don agreed. "So he's not a player in this?" Frank shrugged. Mac shook his head. "None of it?"
"None of it. Xander put out word that he was looking for information on who dared to crash into him and send him a death threat. Oh, and that one of his usual poker buddies is in deep shit because he paid him in drugs again."
"Wonderful! Can we arrest him now?"
"Xander gave him a day to fix it or else according to what Wyatt emailed Danny." That got some nods from Frank and Don, and an evil smirk from Frank. "Also, the ship's nearly done with the renovations." He listened to the emails he had been forwarded. "Someone knew. Xander got information for us."
"Sometimes I love that boy but he still needs spanked."
"That'll be later, Frank," Don assured him.
Mac hung up and looked at him. "The crash, death threat, and your near beheading were all by the same group."
"Group?" Frank asked.
"Group," Mac agreed. He looked at him. "Not my branch, Don."
"The Watchers, like ran over Buffy and them?" Mac nodded. "Why?"
"Not a clue."
"Even better. Can we get 'em?"
"We can," Mac agreed. "Danny's already turned all that over to Greg and Horatio. He sent Speed to beat your boy for you."
"He'll get it later from us," Don assured him. "Shall we wrap this up?"
"We should," he agreed, getting back to work.
Frank smiled. "At least we know."
"We do," Don agreed. "That's a good thing. Any idea where Kowalski is today?"
"Home. Adam's got stomach cramps for some reason." Don looked at him. "Yeah, I think they called off for sex too. Either that or Adam did a bit more than throw his back this time trying to dance like Xander."
"Quite possibly," Don said dryly. "I nearly broke my hip the last time I tried. I don't know how Greg does it." He and Mac shared a grin then they got back to work. "Hey, Mac, there's a pen under him."
"I'll leave you two alone. Have fun, boys. Let me know when my turn is?"
"Yup, we can do that," Don promised.
Speed walked in through the back door. "Xander?" he called. He heard the squeak from the other house and walked through the special doorway. "Xander?" He followed the noises he was making and the dogs that came out to sniff him. He found the ferrets and dogs playing in the pool while Xander counted and sorted things in the vault. "Xander!" He jumped and looked at him. "Horatio said I'm to spank you for something? Would you like to confess now or later?"
"I got the information we needed. Plus I'll get to destroy Sonny if he comes near the family again. It'll be my project of the week." He smiled and went back to sorting out things. "Do you think this is too big for a bracelet?" he asked, holding up an emerald.
Speed looked at it and nodded. "Big ring or a small pendant." He walked into the vault with him. "How many times have we reminded you to only do stuff that won't get us in trouble, Xander?"
Xander looked at him. "I'm in fierce bitch mode, Speed. No one touches what's mine. Especially not a thug that tried to get him named a dirty cop. So if he touches the family I'm going to destroy him. I'll cackle pleasingly. I'll make Hecate proud of my bitchy nature," he said firmly, staring him down. Speed backed off. "Now, wanna help? Danny and Don agreed I could have a bit more bling but I had to use some of the stuff I had stored."
Speed sighed and sat down next to him, hugging him. "I know it's been stressful, Xander, but it's being fixed. We were having good leads."
"Didn't I send those to you guys?"
"You sent some to Danny."
"I sent more to Ryan. Danny's inbox was bouncing." He looked at him. "The Watcher's Council, demonic ones not immie ones, have decided that immies are demonic and should be eliminated."
"Because they're stupid."
"Point." He stroked over his hair. "You still took a really big risk."
Xander smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "It was the last round, a double or nothing round, Speed." He went back to his sorting, holding something up. "What about this one?"
"Pendant definitely. Too girly for you."
Xander sighed and went back to sorting. "There's not too many manly jewelry styles that aren't rapper's bling and that I won't look stupid in."
Speed hugged him again. "It'll be all right. We'll figure it out, Xander. We can even go style looking."
"That would mean you'd have to go into a jewelry store," Xander told him. "I know they still bother you."
"They do but we can look online."
"Don said I'm not allowed to shop online."
"So we won't shop, we'll make note of styles that you like," he pointed out. "Half of this needs to go to the jewelry store." Xander sighed. "Come on. I'll even ride with you while you go." Xander nodded, bagging up what he wanted to take with him. "And the tray of little stuff, Xander. Almost none of that is men's size jewelry." Xander nodded, doing that. Then he handed that over so they could get up. He grabbed a small lockbox to look inside then sighed and put it back, taking another one to look in. That one got handed to Speed, along with a wooden box off a bottom shelf. "What's this?"
"The wooden one is uncut gems. The metal ones are cut ones." He walked him out and got everything and everyone out of the vault so he could lock it, bringing the ferrets back to their cage and the dogs with them to the other house. He shut the door and walked Speed out to the corvette. "Are you sure? I mean, I know you've got that phobia."
"I'll stay in the car," he promised. Xander nodded and got in to drive. It was a nice day for the drive down there since they were halfway across the city. Xander got out and walked around, getting the stuff from Speed's hands. "Behave."
"I try." He grinned and walked inside, nodding at his usual salesman. Who beamed at him. "I know, more presents. Some even uncut." The salesman gaped in horror. "Seriously." He put down the bag. "I was sorting those out for bling potential but Speed said they're too big." He opened the metal box. Then the wooden box, watching his face. "They were presents."
"Damn," he whispered, then he crossed himself. "Let me get the manager. Let's see what we need." He went into the back, coming out with the manager. "This is Mr. Harris. He's a member of GHS."
"They're presents," he said with a small shrug. "I've got plenty and my mentor said I had to get rid of some of it." He leaned on the counter while he looked at them.
"How did you get uncut gems?"
"In a large box on the breakfast bar one morning," he offered, shrugging again at his odd look. "I'm a level ten GHS member, sir. I once got sent an eight foot chocolate representation of female genitalia with a six foot toy in white chocolate." The man gaped and the salesman giggled at that. "Seriously. Along with pretty stuff from Cartier that was only fit for a woman. I had to discourage that since I'm clearly not female. But I was told I had to liquidate. The safety deposit box is getting a bit tight."
"I see." He looked at them again, running a few of the serial numbers through the stolen gem registry. "Well." He held up one. "This one is listed as stolen."
"Sorry. I don't deal with it beyond sighing in displeasure most of the time. Please, send anything like that back to the owner. I have no desire to accept stolen things." He heard the bell ring and looked back. "Speed, are you sure?"
"I'm fine, Xander." He walked over and patted him on the back. "I'm pretty sure we won't get shot."
The manager looked at him then crossed himself. "I heard what happened, detective. Get them seats." The salesman went to do that while he checked the others he liked. The uncut ones weren't in any database. One matched a notice about stolen uncut stones out of Brazil but not perfectly. He blinked at the ones he liked. Then he looked at the boys who were looking at male jewelry. "We could trade for some of it. To be perfectly frank, there's too much here for our humble shop."
Xander looked at him and smiled. "I like the salesman who squeals over me so I come here first. Then I have another place I can hit." That got a nod and he went back to weeding out what he wanted. He looked at his usual salesman. "I want to look a bit more rich," he said quietly. "Have a bit of bling."
The salesman looked at him. "What's your usual jewelry?"
"Hair clips." He pulled his braid around to show him the one he was wearing. "Things like this. Or my hairpins if I put it up due to the heat."
The salesman smiled and nodded, leading them to that section. "We have a few of those, Xander. What about necklaces?"
"I don't want to look too femme," he said, frowning a bit. "Aiden said I walk that way already and with the hair I've already been picked on. Especially when I'm in high squeal mode."
That got a smile. "How about bracelets?"
"I was thinking about that. Nothing too flashy but something subtle that'll go with the hair stuff? We were kinda split on a stud earring."
"Not with your hair," Speed told him.
"Danny thought I wouldn't like it." He looked at the salesman. "I'm still worrying about silver and things."
"Silver's nice. Gold is better. Platinum is best," he offered. He led them over to show them some of the platinum bracelets and chains. Xander cooed over a few and they were brought up so he could look at them. He smiled at Speed. "Want a chair?"
"No, I'm okay. I promise." That got a smile and he looked at something, nudging Xander. "What about that?"
Xander looked at the simple band then at him. "It'd look better on yours than mine." He pointed at another one. "That's more Danny's style." Speed smiled at that. "Pay me back, Speed." Speed gaped. "I mean it. Pay me back. Ten bucks a payday or whatever."
"I am." Speed smiled and nodded, getting the ring to look at. He looked at the other chains, pointing at one. "Can that be made into a bracelet?"
"It can be." He pulled it out so Xander could look at it. "Or we do have one like that but it's in the female's side." He led him over there to look. Someone else came in and he looked at him. "We'll be right with you," he offered, letting Xander look at them. He got a look and Xander nodded for him to handle them while he squatted down to look. The manager locked the stones he wanted into a case and came over to help him.
"What about those three?" Xander asked, pointing at them. They were brought out. He smiled at how they looked against his wrist. "Not too femme?"
"No, not in the least. I would also suggest that one," he said, pointing at another one. He saw Xander looking and gasped at the gun. "Sir. Please."
"I want the cash. That's all I want. Yours too," he demanded, pointing the gun at Speed.
"He's my boyfriend. I'm the rich one," Xander said, coming over. He looked at him. "Why only the cash? Jewelry is more universally acceptable."
"It's heavier and more easily traced."
"Oh. Okay. That makes sense." He shrugged. "Pity I didn't bring my wallet." The guy glared at him. "I didn't."
"No more shit."
"Xander," Speed warned quietly. "Please."
Xander looked at him. Then he sighed. "You're damn lucky he's here."
"Why? You gonna resist little boy?" the robber sneered. Xander looked at Speed. "No, at me."
Xander looked at him, then suddenly struck him in the throat with one hand grabbing the gun at the same time to make sure it was pointed at the ground. The guy went down, leaving him with the gun. "No, I'm a cooperative hostage." He handed the gun to the manager and went back to his browsing. "Speed?"
"Xander," he said calmly. Xander looked at him. "Thank you. Next time, don't be mouthy." He called dispatch. "This is Speedle. I'm watching over Harris at... Yeah, we're there. Someone came in to try to rob the store. He picked on Harris. Pity. No, he doesn't need an ambulance but I don't have cuffs. Thank you." He hung up. He looked at the guy. "Move and I'll let him have you again." Xander beamed at that. "You're still being spanked for being mouthy."
"Sorry. I didn't want to make you have flashbacks, Speed." He gave him a hug, then went back to looking. "What about this one?"
"I don't think you'll like that one. What about this diamond dusted one? For when you need the extra sparkle." Xander looked, his head tipping from side to side while he thought. Speed came over to look. "I think it'll look great on him."
"I think so too," Speed agreed. "There was one of those in platinum too." Xander smiled at him. He looked at the manager. "Taking it out of the stones?"
"It would mean we could take more from him."
Xander grinned. "Ask him how many I have. He's done all my insurance estimates." He looked at the salesman who pulled out the book to hand him. Xander stepped over the guy on the floor to look at the other one. "I like them both. Think Danny would mind, Speed?"
"Probably not much. You'll need a new jewelry box, Xander."
"True. Mine's really small and only holds my hair bands." The manager got him to look at the ones they carried. By the time the officers got there Xander had found all that he wanted and the manager had gotten a lot more stones than he had planned. Xander was just so nice and charming. There was a small blip when they filled out the sale forms but Xander handed over the letter from the social security people who said he had one but it wasn't registering in the system due to a recent virus attack.
"Did that help you with the IRS?" Speed asked.
"No and I used stuff from the spy shop to tape what they told me today. So if they ever do find me again I have proof I tried to pay and they wouldn't accept it," he said, looking at him. He shrugged. "I tried really hard."
"I know you did," Speed soothed, looking at the officers. "Please remove him? The gun's on the counter."
"Yes, sir, but your boss said we were to stay around."
"He can wait in the car," Xander said firmly. "Speed doesn't need this." That got a nod and one of them drug the guy outside. "Thank you, officers." That got a smile. "I got told I need more bling." Horatio walked in. "He offered, Horatio. I didn't ask."
"I know. He wouldn't normally suggest it."
"I got tired of what was on the radio so I came in, Horatio. It was going fine until he came in." Xander smiled at the manager when he came out with the check. "We done?"
"We are," Xander agreed, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek and take his bags. "Thank you. If you guys need anything, call. Please. My boys get upset with the vault and stuff." That got smiles and he walked out with Speed. "Want to go with Horatio?" He looked at the bag then at him, getting a pat to his pocket. "Or we can go home."
"Go home, boys," Horatio ordered. He made Speed pause. "You're all right?"
"It was okay until then. Xander and I talked about styles and things. He took care of some of the stuff in the vault." Horatio nodded at that. "I'm fine. Really. He did ask the guy why he wanted to have only the money and not the jewels. The guy told him and he said thank you politely then told him he hadn't brought his wallet." Horatio shook his head and sighed. "He wasn't going to do anything because of me, Horatio, but the guy made him."
"As long as he was cautious with you," Horatio said, looking at him. "Go home with him, help him put things up." Speed nodded and got into the corvette, so he went back inside. "This is where he usually comes to deal with the present issue?" Horatio asked. The salesman smiled and nodded. "Good to know. I've heard good things about your store from him." He looked around, finding something that would look wonderful around Speed's neck. He looked at the price tag then nodded. "I want that one please. Gift boxed." He put down his card. The salesman pulled it out so he could look at it more closely, making him happy. It was finely done and so was the small book charm on the end that was dusted with emeralds. His card was run and the necklace was gift boxed for him. "Thank you." He signed the slip and handed it back.
"Lieutenant," the manager said as he came over from giving a statement. "A word of caution. One of Mr. Harris's suitors has given him one stolen gem that we know of. He claims he had no idea. Also, he's been getting some uncut gems." Horatio moaned. "I would suggest he take care of those first and have someone go through the registry to see if anything else was."
"Everything I've done for him I've checked," the salesman assured him. "I know he's got a store built up that I haven't seen however."
Horatio nodded. "Is there a way for someone not in the business to get into the registry? Like his boyfriend, who is a member of the lab."
"There is." He wrote out an address and password. "Use that, Lieutenant. That way he's not embarrassed if they do it again." Horatio nodded at that. "He does seem very nice. They really left uncut gems on his breakfast bar?"
"It wouldn't surprise me," he admitted. "I'll have them do that tonight. Thank you."
"You're welcome. We like Mr. Harris. He buys all the little hair clips we can get in," the salesman assured him happily. "They did decide to stick with those and bracelets since he wanted to look a bit more upstanding and fashionable. An earring was nixed by Detective Speedle and he listened to his opinion on what to get."
"Thank you." He smiled. "Am I needed, gentlemen?" The officers shook their heads. "Then I'm going back to the lab. Thank you as well, gentlemen," he said, nodding at the two salespeople. He walked out, heading back to his hummer, gift going into the glovebox until he got home. He got back there and handed Danny the slip of paper. "We know one was stolen," he said quietly. "Have him go over the other stones into the registry to make sure." Danny nodded at that. "They're at home."
"Is Speed okay?"
"He's fine. Xander protected him. The thief made Xander react but he did protect Speed."
"Good. Now, how do I spank my boy for this?"
"For the store?" Don asked. "Or for going to Sonny to make sure he don't come near us?"
"That one. I can't yell about him taking stuff to sell off."
"He exchanged some for the new jewelry and some he sold," Horatio admitted.
"Good. Anything else I should know?"
Horatio moved closer. "There's uncut gems somewhere in one of the vaults, Danny." Danny moaned. "It was suggested those are a security risk."
"I'll handle that." He walked off. "Goin' home, boss."
"Have a good night, Danny. You as well, Don."
"I'm not quite done yet but soon. Tell him to save me dinner," Don called after Danny, getting a wave. He looked at Horatio. "Speed okay?"
"He'll be fine. He started out waiting in the car but got bored." He smiled and went up to his office to do some limited paperwork before he could go home. He came out and checked his present, still there. Then he went home. Speed had a good dinner set out. Candles. Wine. Mate in lounging pajamas he clearly stole off Xander. He kissed him and handed him the present. "Happy anniversary, Timmy."
"Happy anniversary, Horatio," he said with a smile, handing over his present. "I'm paying him back before you ask."
Horatio opened his and smiled at the simple ring, sliding it onto his finger. "It's a bit loose but I can have that taken care of tomorrow." He kissed him again, letting Speed open his and smile at the whimsy of the present. He even got to put it on his mate and sit down with him in his lap to feed him dinner.
Xander looked up from his jewelry sorting when Danny and Greg came in. "Hi," he said, going back to it. His old jewelry box only held his hair clips and ties now. His new one had the other stuff. He held up one bracelet, getting an appreciative nod from Greg. "Good choice?"
"Very good choice, I like that," Danny agreed. He sat down on the bed and pulled Xander over, looking at him. "However, bad choice in going after Sonny."
"I didn't plan on it. I planned on getting information during the poker game but he was there. He also lost a lot." Danny nodded at that. "He doesn't bluff very well either." He kissed him, straddling his lap. "I only went looking for information because this is going on too long."
"I can understand that," Danny promised, kissing him again. "I should still spank."
"For what? I took advantage of the play that was in front of me."
Danny looked at him. "For you being such a smart ass, Xander." Xander blushed and tipped his face down. "A few sent me direct emails. A few even went directly to Ryan." He spanked him, making him yelp. "You and me, we're gonna talk about your mouth. Remember the time in the subway when it got you in trouble? Same thing different city." Xander nodded, putting his head down on his shoulder. "Your mouth needs a referee to call time outs, Xander. I don't want you hurt because of it."
"I know. It's never intentional." He stroked his back. "I should still spank. Even Frank wants to spank, Xander." Xander gave him a pitiful look and he melted. "No more and no more poker for three weeks." Xander nodded, putting his head down again. "You've got more important stuff ta do. We've got to go over the stones and things to make sure no others are stolen. I can get us into the registry to make sure." Xander nodded, cuddling him. "Good boy." He stroked his back. "I'm not mad. Just upset that your mouth got the better of you again." Ryan walked in and pulled Xander up, making Xander look sheepish. "His mouth has had this problem since we've known him, Wolfe."
"I've run into it before," he agreed. He stared Xander down, watching him wilt. "You took Speed jewelry shopping?"
"I told him he didn't have to come. He even came in after waiting in the car."
"Good. I like that," Eric said from the doorway. "The thief?"
"He made me. Speed agreed. I backed off because Speed said so. He kept going and Speed gave me permission."
"Fine," Eric agreed, looking at him. He gave him a kiss. "We should all spank you for the poker thing today."
"I only wanted information. He was there to play too. He doesn't bluff very well either. Plus he nibbled the whole game. I'm hoping he had enough to cover his bill." Ryan smirked at him. "I pretty well took what was in his pockets, Ryan. He wanted a double or nothing round and that was my price so I didn't have to wait a day to get the other six hundred thousand he'd owe me."
"Fine. We should still spank," Ryan told him. "How did they get my email address?"
"Wyatt got it."
"Ah. He's very industrious." Xander grinned at that. "Plus very naughty."
"He is." Ryan kissed him and gave him a cuddle. "I started on the bling shopping today," he said happily, showing them what he had gotten. "Speed helped when he came in."
"It's cool," Eric agreed. "Not too flashy, not too subtle. With your hair clips it'll look perfect." Xander beamed. "Now, let's eat." Xander nodded, handing Danny the check from earlier. "Need to go to the bank?"
"Yeah, I did what Danny wanted and Speed ordered, taking some of the stuff from the vault over."
"Good," Ryan agreed.
"One was stolen," Danny said dryly.
"Bad," Ryan agreed.
"We can search the others that have serial numbers," Xander promised.
"Good again." Xander grinned at that. "You keep saying you're bored." They walked out into the kitchen, finding the mess from the dogs. "Boys," Ryan chided. The dogs slunk off. "Eric, feed them." He got out the dog food and fed the poor beasts, earning friends for life. Then he went to feed the ferrets and Hubert since he was on the back of the couch. Xander and Danny got to work in the kitchen while he cleaned up the mess. They were just barely finishing it up when Don came in. "You look happy."
"I am happy."
Xander hugged him. "I got some pretty stuff when I took some of the stuff from the vault to the store."
"Congrats. Let's go look." He led him into the bedroom to look, then to spank him for real. Because Xander needed it. He came out and looked at Danny. "He proved he was the bigger badass by proving Sassone wasn't immune to the hormones. Just enough to make him sweat. It was nearly twenty minutes before the game started so he wasn't banished for it."
"Wonderful," Danny agreed. "I hope like hell he bankrupts the entire Tanglewood gang for it." He gave Xander a hug when he came out. "No more going to play poker for three weeks."
"Yes, Danny. Sorry, Don."
"No more, Xan. You worry us when you do that." He gave him a cuddle and kisses. "Now, finish fixing dinner? I'm starved. I missed lunch." Xander nodded and got back to work. "Good boy. It's very pretty stuff, Danny."
"He showed me. Speed helped him pick out what he wanted."
"They have good taste together."
"It was Horatio and Speed's anniversary today too," Xander told them. They all smiled and went to send them a joint 'happy anniversary' email. Plus the promise from Greg of stepping in if they needed a day alone this week. Xander rubbed his butt but it was okay. Don did it because he loved him and he was never going to do it again or he'd get him for doing dangerous shit when he was only half trained as an immie, like taking a challenge earlier. Because Danny and Ryan would both spank him for that and Eric would sulk.
"Why did you miss lunch?" Greg asked when they came back.
"Talking to someone in the park," Don offered.
Ryan looked at him. "I heard about that." Don went pale.
"Someone needs to practice more before I beat his ass," Danny said firmly. "Starting tonight with Ryan and Eric."
"Yes, Danny," he agreed meekly.
"Maybe it's not a Xander thing to do dumb, yet heroic stuff?" Eric suggested. "It's a GHS thing? I mean, Horatio has it, Don has it. Xander has it. Speed has it now and then."
"I'll see if I can correlate that," Greg offered, coming over to help Xander and Danny cook. He wasn't great in the kitchen but he was decent enough to peel veggies and slice them.
Xander looked around at his family and it was all good again. They knew who was doing the bad things so they could stop them. Or else he'd get to destroy them. He smiled happily and drug Don into the study to look at the pimp ride he had found. Don smiled at it, nodding that he liked that. "I want that."
"Only if you take the loose cash in the house to get it." Xander pouted. "I know it's for emergencies but yay."
"Yes, Don," he sighed. He grabbed the keys and led him over to the other house's vault to gather up the first box of jewels so he could learn about these registration numbers he'd be looking up. The first box and a magnifying glass later and he was all set in front of the computer with Don helping and teaching him.
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