Xander smiled, feeling the quickening buzz somewhere in the restaurant. "I'm here to meet Mr. Delko," he said quietly. "I'm Mr. Harris."
"Of course, sir. This way." He followed her, smiling at the man in the quiet corner booth. She handed him a menu. "There you go, the waiter will be right here for drink orders." He nodded and she walked off.
"Xander." He shook his hand. Eric smirked at that. "Which one told you about me?"
"Speed. How did he find out about you?"
"They got up there just after I came back from being kidnaped. Speed noticed the little sparks," he said quietly. "They were helping unwrap a sari the last guy put me in." Eric chuckled at that. "He thought I was a girl. He said he knew someone else who had those and then they helped un-jewelry me. Some of it was welded on."
"That's about what I'd expect. So, why did you want to meet?"
"Well...." The waiter showed up. "Can I have a glass of ice water please?" That got a nod. "We'll order in a bit."
"And for you, sir?"
"The same's fine. Twist of lemon please." That got a nod and he walked off. "Don't drink?"
"Shitbag parents," he said blandly.
"I've seen some of those."
"Hmm. You probably have seen worse than mine really." He leaned on the table once their waters came and the waiter had disappeared. "There's a few things you should know. I'm not coming down alone. There's three of us in the family."
"Okay. You and who?"
"Flack and Danny."
"Messer?" Xander nodded. "From New York's lab?" Xander nodded again. "He's coming down to work, isn't he?" he asked with a slight grin. Xander beamed and nodded. "Okay, I can handle that. I've worked with others before and I've met Danny twice. He seemed like a nice guy. Flack's a what?"
"Homicide right now."
"That's fine. What about you. You said you needed a favor?"
"I'm a GHS member and I've had some hunting experience but Danny's my keeper and he can't train me."
"Oh. Huh?" Xander handed over the letter Danny had written, letting him read it. The waiter came back. "Fruit salad. For both of us." The waiter nodded and left, coming back with some off the buffet. "Thank you." He disappeared. He looked at Xander. "That's certainly a problem." He folded it up. "What sort of experience do you have?"
"I'm from Sunnydale."
"So you know Oz?"
"Yeah, he dated my former best friend. I had no idea about him or Giles."
"Former best friend?"
"She and my other one outright ordered me never to come home because I was worthless and they were tired of putting up with me," he said quietly. Eric moaned at that, shaking his head and digging in. Xander picked at something. "You should know that Sunnydale sort of things happen to me." Eric looked at him. "The demonic love me," he said quietly. "They're the ones who usually try to take me. Being GHS.... I can't talk about that here," he admitted.
"I've met a few," Eric admitted. "How many of us are in there?"
"Four or five from what I was told." He shrugged and dug in. "The problem we had in New York was that Connor was only trying to get me to back into the hunting space I go into. I had it back in Sunnydale and it helped me then. Now, due to one of the other kidnapings, I can go further down. All the way to 'I don't know anyone' and Connor kept trying to get me there. So I quit going to him. It scares me. I don't mind the hunting step but not that far."
"That should scare you," Eric agreed, eating another bite. "Eat." Xander dug back in, eating quickly. "Most GHS I know take their time."
"I've got an appointment in two hours to look over a place I'm thinking about investing in," he admitted quietly. "That way I quit spending all my kidnaping reparation." He sipped his water. "I need a new teacher. I can't go to Danny for it, not with what we are to each other."
"Your keeper can't teach you, it's a conflict of interest," he agreed.
"That and I'd be able to pout him out of practices and things." He shrugged. "I'll be honest. I'm semi-skilled. I was taking martial arts lessons up there but then the instructor got busted for assault when his girlfriend claimed he hurt her trying to save her from someone. I can't go back to Connor. Danny can't and Flack's about as old as I am," he said quietly. "That way."
"I understand and it's always better to learn from more than one person. It gives you a better chance at survival."
"True," Xander agreed. "Plus you're probably more immune to my pouting and things when I get fussy and my GHS side is at the front or I can't back it down."
"I've seen that happen," he offered with a small grin. "Did you read Danny's letter?"
"The first few paragraphs over his shoulder. Did he put Buffy in there?"
"He did. You okay with that?"
"Nope. Her mother was like an extra one to me." He looked at him. "That's a soul-deep pain but she and Willow pretty well ruined me for any future girlfriends with my exes' help." That got a nod and a knowing grin. "I dated a temporarily human vengeance demon, Eric. I took her to the prom. She was probably the nicer one."
Eric shuddered. "Okay. Well, it's a good idea and I'm not against it. I'm not a great fighter but I can definitely teach you something and help Danny teach you." Xander smiled at that. "But I won't let you slack."
"Which you shouldn't."
"Good. Then as long as we agree." They both looked toward the doorway when they felt a buzz. "Crap. I've been avoiding him for months now. He's a hunter."
Xander looked him over. "He's also limping. Pre-existing injury?"
"Yup, but he's a damn good fighter. He's as close to a berserker as you'll find outside of yourself and Oz."
"And one guy named Rahjid I'm told."
"I thought he died."
Xander shrugged. "Connor mentioned him."
"How is he?"
"Training Giles for Oz. The other reason I can't go near him."
"Understandable. Danny's letter said you were going to have problems with him from where he didn't believe in you in high school." Xander snorted. "Worse?"
"Told me I was too human to help a few times. Told me off a number of times for doing her job for her."
"Pity but even we have blinders sometimes. I've gotta ask, what's with the hair?"
"One of my kidnapers made me grow it. He had me for about three months. One of my former acquaintances started the growth off, then it didn't get cut during that internment or during the time I was fighting." Eric gave him a horrified look. "I beat too many of the ones who wanted to master me to prove themselves in charge. So they put me in a ring," he said quietly. "My thing seems to be survival at all costs."
"Good. I'm liking you more and more." Xander gave him a goofy grin at that. "Here he comes. Behave."
"I try now and then." He gave the man coming over a look over his shoulder, making him lick his lips. Then he touched Eric's hand. "I leave tomorrow at noon but I've got a beautiful motel room if you wanted to test me."
"I probably should. Make sure you're not already out of my range."
"That's because you're weak," the other immortal noted. He looked at Xander. "Boy."
Xander said something to one of the waiters in a demonic tongue then looked at him again. "I believe your table is waiting." He raised an eyebrow at the laugh. "Do you know who I am?"
"Harris. Out of Sunnydale." The man quit laughing. "I see you've heard. I'm moving down here," he said with a sweet smile. "My poor GHS'ness might not like snow." The man shuddered and walked off. "Good." He looked at Eric again. "Sorry," he said at the amused look.
"I'm practical. It worked," he agreed quietly. "Let's go." Xander finished up and his water and they left to walk around and talk. He pointed at someone up the street that they could barely feel. "That's Richard, he's a nice guy."
"Cool." Xander waved and smiled. The man's eyes went wide so he shrugged and looked at Eric. "I'd rather announce than have to bump into him and take a pointless challenge."
"Me too. It works for me. Richard, this is Xander Harris."
"Oh, my. Her helper?" Xander nodded. "Ah." He patted him on the cheek. "A very strong GHS as well."
"Level ten." Eric gave him a horrified look. "Flack's my protector. Danny just started as my keeper."
"No wonder you need help and Speed saw you. Which one of them is the GHS?"
"You'd have to ask them," he said quietly. "For us it's a matter of security so we don't nark on the other members."
"That's fine, I like that attitude. But one is?" Xander gave him a look and he laughed. "Fine. I'll go badger Speed at work later." He smiled at Richard. "He just made Jenkins huff off too."
"Interesting. Young man, are you training?"
"Yup, and Danny wanted Eric to see if he could train me since he's my temporary keeper."
"If you cannot, Eric, send him to me." Eric nodded. "Any word on what's going on out there?"
"Nope, but you might ask Connor since he's training Rupert Giles now for Oz."
"Oh, damn." He sighed. "I shall, young Xander. Thank you. When are you moving?"
"A few weeks. I spent the morning looking at houses and this afternoon I'm looking at a spa I'm thinking about investing in. That way I get cheaper spa treatments." Eric and Richard both giggled at that. "I'm trying so hard to be good."
"Try harder," Eric teased, making Xander give him a naughty grin. "We should let you go, Richard. Thank you."
"You're welcome. He's a very strong young man. He'll be fine." Eric nodded and walked them off. He looked up and sent a silent prayer to his Old Gods. The boy was clearly some of theirs.
Xander looked around the house his agent suggested, then at her. He shook his head. "Even if you cleaned it up we couldn't move in within a few days."
"I know. Sorry. I'm trying."
"I know." He huffed and considered it. "Okay. I'm not going to be too picky. A pool would be great but I can discount that. It's a nice luxury."
"That would lower the price range but what you want in size is what's going to keep it up there." She walked him back to the car. "You don't like a particular style?"
"I could even go for a smaller house but a bit of roaming room is good for me and my bodyguards. Plus my keeper." She looked horrified. "I'm a GHS member," he said quietly. "I'm the new level ten they found. I need *security* first and foremost."
"I've... only heard rumors of people like you."
"It's not a roving orgy or anything," he defended. "It's just that I need my protection and I need some privacy away from my boyfriend and the guy who protects me."
"I can understand that, Mr. Harris. What was your price range again?"
"Hopefully under two million."
"Then I do know somewhere." She walked him back to her car and drove him up to a nice quiet neighborhood. "This is one of the more tolerant sections of the town. It's got quite a lot of room and if you get pets, no one will care around here as long as you scoop up after them." She let him in once she had punched in the code, letting him walk around the small condo.
He considered it. "It's still really small."
"For two million, you're not going to get a huge estate."
"Right now I've got a three story house with a pool on the first story," he told her, showing her pictures. "I'd like something at least this big."
"If you could go up to five maybe."
He looked at her. "I'd rather not." She squeaked and he felt the tap to his arm, turning to find a messenger demon there. "What?" he complained. It handed over a note and he read it then snorted. "I don't know these people, honey, and I don't want to be indebted to someone I don't know." The mark on his arm was pointed to. "So? As far as I know that's a birthmark." That got a look from the agent. "It is." He looked at the demon again. "Tell them thanks but no thanks. I'm not going to be indebted to people I don't know." It nodded and disappeared. "Both my keeper and my protector are cops. One's a CSI, the other's homicide."
"How are they...."
"I'm affording it. I've got some money. I don't want to spend it all on this however."
"I understand." She got into her palm pilot on her phone and typed the amount and 'at least three bedrooms' then hit send to search the city's listings. "If you'd take a farm out in the everglades it might help."
"It's too far for them to commute. They're both born and bred New York City boys." She nodded, going down through her list. She finally looked at him. "Nothing?"
"Not really." She up the amount by a half-million and tried it again, only getting a few new ones. "Those aren't very promising either."
"What about something untraditional? I can live in the center of the city. I don't need to be right next to the beach. I worked construction for a few months before I went to New York."
She sighed and widened the search area. "There is something.... It's down by the clubs so it'll be loud."
"We can always soundproof."
"Then let's go look that way." She took him down there, going to find him *something* since he wasn't that picky. She pulled up in front of a building and he pointed. "What?"
"I like the looks of that on the outside."
She looked, it did have a for sale sign. She called the number on it. "Hi, this is Desmera with Mayflower. I'm sitting in front of a house on Nature...." She smiled. "That sounds like it. Yes, there. My client just pointed at it and said he wanted that one. How much is it going for and can he arrange a tour today?" She smiled at him and nodded. "Excellent. That is well within his price range. If I can ask why.... Oh." She looked at him. "It had a bit of water damage from a few storms."
"Define a little bit."
"We'll see when we tour."
He nodded. "Okay." They parked and waited for the other realtor. He smiled and shook his hand when he finally showed up. "Hi, Xander Harris."
"Thomas Kincaid. She did tell you I said it had some storm damage?"
"Yup, but I was wondering how much 'some' was."
"Depends on the room." He walked him up to the front door and undid it, letting him inside. "It is definitely going to need a bit of work but the price is very reasonable for this section of Miami." Xander gave him a look. "It could be worse."
"I worked construction." He looked at his real estate agent. "Okay, I want this sort of property and the shielding of the trees if possible. I want this size of house, the size is good. All one floor or not I don't care."
"Have you taken him to the Barber house? That's Tudor, but it's nice. It's got a small lawn."
"He's only wanting up to two million."
"They just reduced it to two and a quarter."
"Guys, my first condo in Lower Manhattan was only one and a half. I need good security first and foremost."
"He's been taken a few times."
"Maybe next to a police station?"
"Only if it's the one where CSI and homicide work," Xander shot back. "My protector's one and the boyfriend's the other."
"Oh." He considered it. "For two, sir?"
Xander rolled his eyes. "I know this city isn't that expensive. I mean seriously, I live in Greenwich right now." They gaped at that. "I know I got my last one for a steal but it's only worth two and it's in prime development country right now." He looked at them. "Please, let's be reasonable?"
She sighed and nodded. "You can get a condo for that much but most houses are going to go for more, sir."
Xander called Aiden as he walked off. "Find me something?" he begged. "Please?" He smiled. "Where is that?" He nodded, taking her pen to write down the address, getting a shocked look. "How much?" He smiled. "Well within it. How do the pictures look? Perfect. Thank you, Aiden. Love you, be home tomorrow." He hung up and looked at her. "There, let's look there."
"All right." She looked it up in the wider database. "It's not listed as ours."
Thomas looked up the address. "Remax."
Xander shrugged. "So?"
They both nodded and he left while she took him off to show him that one. He walked in and it felt nice. He looked around all the rooms. There was a lanai. There was a huge bathroom meant for him. There was some lawn and a hedge to separate them from the neighbor. "Is this in a tolerant part o the city?"
"Fairly so. The city's mostly tolerant. This might be too far out for a commute though. It'd take nearly a half-hour to get to the station they'd both be working at."
"What would be closer?" She typed in the address, then clicked on' more like me', coming up with a few. "I've got one very near to that station," she admitted. "It's on two acres. It's a smaller house, quiet. You could have a pool put in. It's reasonable but it's not in that great of a neighborhood because the station is so close to it." She drove him that way and he smiled as they pulled through the gate. "It is electronic. You'll have a camera setup from the house somewhere." She rode him in and watched him walk around. This was a nice house, especially at this price.
"How much?" he asked finally from the sliding doors off the master bedroom.
"One-point-seven." Xander smiled and relaxed, nodding. "It's in move-in condition really."
"How are the land taxes?"
"Not too terrible. Utilities may get you now and then for electric use." He looked at her. "It's all electric. Since it's a house you'll have to pay water and trash as well." He nodded. "I didn't know what sort of setup you had at home."
"Automatic payments." She smiled at that. "Okay, I like this. This is wonderful." He looked at the room around him. "The only thing I'd do is paint. Because this cream is very boring."
"You can do that when you move in."
"True, I can." He called Don. "I found it," he told his voicemail. Then he called Danny, leaving the same message on his. He sighed. "Hard at work." He looked at her. "Let's sign paperwork and talk to my bank." She nodded, taking him back to her office to do that.
Don glanced at his phone but there wasn't anything he could do about it right now. Stella had been hurt. They had to work with her to help her. Danny was frantic at the moment but they would be okay. He pulled into the hospital parking lot and went to find her, flashing his badge whenever someone tried to stop him. He finally made it to her room and the nurse refused him access. "I'm the detective over her case and she's a friend."
"I realize that but it's going to be a few minutes. Lounge against the other wall, detective, and don't stare." She went back inside and shut the curtains in front of the door.
Don did as ordered, it was the best he could do right this moment. But soon it would be better. He knew it would be.
Xander came off the plane to see Danny waiting on him. "Hi," he offered with a smile. Danny didn't smile back. "What happened to who? It's not Aiden, right?"
"Stella and her ex had it out. He tried ta hurt her, she shot him," he said quietly. "She's over."
"That's fine. More than fine." Danny did relax at that. "I'm not going to be mean to her! I like Stella! It's the other one I don't like."
"Yeah, I noticed the worms."
"Oops." He grabbed his bag. "Anyway, I found it. It needs painted but I got it." Danny smiled at that. "She can even come down with us until she's ready to come back to work."
"That'd be fine. Did you talk to Eric?" Xander handed over the letter for him. He read it and laughed. "He said you're one hellish little demon. You met Richard?"
"Yup. He seemed kinda nice."
"He is, but no one knows anything about him." He led him out to the car. "Don's babying her."
"That's fine. Do I need to wade in too?"
"Nah, we're good without your special touches. He's gone, it's handled, she's in the clear." Xander nodded, smiling a bit at that. "Did you do anything else?"
"Eric tested me and said I was odd. He thinks I need to start at the beginning again and work my way up. He did say he could do that."
"Good. That'll help you and I'll do the same to Don so we'll keep you two together." He stroked over his back. "What's this place like?"
"Ten minutes to the station with no traffic other than the people to the station. Two acres of grass. Hedges around the house. It's got a porch most of the way around it. You can just barely see the water. The neighbor has the access down to it but they weren't home so I couldn't ask about traipsing down their stairs." He slid into the car. "The master bathroom was *huge* and the bedroom was nice sized with good closets, plural. There's three other bedrooms. I figured Don would like the bigger one. It's nearly as big and has its own bathroom as well. The other two share one and if you wanted to you could hog one of those. Ummmm... the kitchen was about the same as our first one so not too tiny or inefficient. No pool unfortunately. Living room and dining room were connected, just a bend in the room to separate them out. It needs painted because it's all cream and pale blue with some light wood trim." Danny smiled at that. "There's a study or a maid's room in the back off the kitchen. I figured the study should go out there. That way it's a bit separate. All electric."
"Wonderful." He patted him on the back. "Did you bring pictures?"
"Their interactive tour's homepage."
"Even better." He drove them back to the house, letting Xander head inside and pounce Stella for a hug. "Aww."
"Xander," she complained, moving him. "Don't cling."
"I should because you need a hug."
Don grinned. "See, told ya he'd hug you first." Xander pounced him, bringing him to the floor. "Easy!"
"You'll have a just-smaller-than-mine bedroom suite." Don grinned at that. "With your own bathroom so you can quit complaining about my hair in the drain." Danny chuckled at that. Don woke him up with one of those rants this morning. "We do need to paint. It's all cream with pale blue and light wood trim."
"We'll get down there the day before the furniture could and do that then," he promised, tickling him to make him get off. Xander shrieked and wiggled, making him hard. "Ooh, Danny, feels like someone needs you."
"Probably." He pulled Xander off and handed Don the letter, then took his boy off to have some fun with him.
"I think it's cute Xander lets you join in," Stella teased.
He smirked. "Not like he didn't offer me more."
"Don, Danny's taunting me," he called. "Make him quit!"
"Danny, teasing him makes him more hyper," he called. Xander yelped and then laughed happily. "Good, thank you. Didn't wanna have to be the relief pitcher this time." He looked at Stella again. "You could come down with us for the first few days."
"I've got to get back to work sometime."
"You're on injury leave, Stella. Not for the next few weeks you don't."
"I do so."
"You don't." He kissed her on the nose. "You really don't."
"You're sweet but Mac would storm Miami if you guys packed me with Xander's bed."
"You could ride it all the way down there," he offered with a grin. "It's very comfy."
"I'm sure it is. He would still make Horatio's life a living hell until you gave me back." He shrugged. "I know you had to try, Don." She stroked his cheek. "When I retire I'll come down and you three young studs can pamper me in my old age. Okay?" He nodded, kissing her on the forehead. "Thanks. Now go play."
"I am playing. Not like I play like that with Xander."
"Someone's got to arrange the movers," she said wisely. "Plus utilities."
"See, that's a keeper's job," he said wisely. She snorted. "I'll help of course."
"You'd better. Getting his bed down there is not going to be easy."
"That's why they've got big strong guys. Because we agreed, we're not hefting his bed without some." She laughed at that. "Seriously. Even down there." He stroked over her hair. "We'll all miss you."
"I know you will and you'll see me at least once a year when I come down to bug you guys to death and go lay on the beach." He grinned at that. "That way I can hear about all the Xander naughtiness and not have to worry while it's happening."
"Good point." He heard a thump and then a yell. "We all good?" he called.
"Stupid monsoon demon came back," Danny called. He came down the stairs and dropped a big box in front of them. "It's a present to win him back. Xander said to send it back unopened but I figured someone would want to know." He went back upstairs. He could hear Xander ranting at a messenger demon. "It's downstairs," he told it. It nodded and left. That package went back and another one came with the same demon. "No, he's taken," he said dryly. "Not gonna happen."
"Tell him if he tries again I'm going to remove all my bodily orifices by magic so he can't do anything to me. Dying that way is preferable to slavery for me," Xander said firmly. It nodded and left the package there. "I don't want that!" It disappeared.
"I hear that's a really nasty way to die," Danny said dryly.
"Yay. Better than being castrated at least once a day." Danny shuddered at that thought. "Yeah, that's what he was going to do. I doubt I'm going there ever again. Especially since he wanted to make me dress like a girl." He disappeared and glared at the demon facing him, grabbing the nearest one's sword to go after him this time. The demon howled and ran. "Get back here! I said no! I meant no! I am not going to be your concubine! Ever! You dressed me like a girl and you had me castrated!" He took a swing, getting part of his wind tail. "Come on, play fair, let me kill you!" he screamed, lunging again. He disappeared, landing back in his room and Danny had to pin him down before he hurt him too. He panted, slowly calming down. "Sorry," he said finally, sounding more calm. "I think he got the point."
"I'd hope so. Did you kill him?"
"He's made of wind. It'd be really hard," he said bitterly. The messenger demon showed up again and bowed, handing him a letter. Xander growled. It backed up but still held out the letter. He snatched it and read it, then snorted and put the sword back onto the tray with it. "Give that to my half brother or whatever he is. He can go talk to the unreasonable one." It nodded and disappeared again. Xander went limp and looked at Danny. "Can you please fuck my brains out again?"
"Sure," he agreed, smiling at him. "Always happy ta help." He kissed him, ignoring the messenger when it came back with another box. He finally had to look at him since he was waiting. "He's not going back there."
A male coughed from the doorway. "He sends that in apology, Keeper of my brother." Danny glared back at him. "He had no idea Xander was so insistent on not making a good match for our family." Xander glared at him. "You are family."
"Not one I've ever heard of. No one ever told me and with what I am, I'm an orphan." He put his head back down. "Danny, brains, out of my head?"
"Sure." He went back to kissing him, then looked back. "He don't need it or a family that'd give him away to the highest bidder. You can tell whoever I said that."
"Oh, I shall." He smirked. "The box is still his as an apology. Come," he ordered and the messenger left with him.
Danny kicked the box and it hissed. "Hey, Don, I think he got given a snake as an apology."
"If it is, it's one big snake," Xander said, watching the box rock. He concentrated and a messenger came back. "Take this back to the last owner and tell him I do not accept his apology since he sent me something that would kill my keeper. If he tries it again, I will find out how to take him out of the line of succession in his family and hierarchy." It nodded and took the box with him. Don leaned on the doorframe. "Sorry. It was probably a really big snake. The whole box was moving."
A new one appeared by itself and Don came in to glance inside. "It's not deadly. It's pretty by not deadly." He opened it slowly, carefully away from it in case it exploded or something. Nothing happened so he looked. It flashed but nothing seemed too different. Except that his sight was now sprinkled with little lights. He looked in the box and it was empty. Instead it was all over Xander, a mountain of cloth and stones and silver. He groaned and came over to uncover them, finding Danny and Xander kissing again. "Does nothing stop him?"
"It kept him from screaming." He got up to look at everything once it was on something other than him and Xander. "It's pretty."
"I'm pretty enough without pretty things to enhance me," he said firmly. "I don't need that sort of apology."
"Just accept it so the messengers don't get worn out," Stella said from the doorway. "Is that platinum or silver?" Xander looked and shrugged. She came in to look, ignoring the naked body on the bed and the semi-naked one next to it. "That is silver," she said finally. "Very high quality silver. It's pretty."
"Take it," Xander offered. "Not like I want it. Split it with Aiden." She smiled and kissed him gently then took everything down to the living room to look through. "Don, take the other saris from the shelf in the closet and hand those to her too, plus the box under the bed?" He nodded, getting the box and the pile of fabric so she could have it. He stretched up and grabbed Danny's cock to tease. "You can have something if you want."
Danny grinned and kissed him. "Let me go see then I'll be right back to make you brainless." Xander smiled and nodded, letting him go so he could grab his robe and go look. He had seen a really nice heavy chain that he liked. He found Aiden over and snatched that one with a grin from her hand. "Sorry, he said I could have a prezzie too. Plus Don," he said at Don's pout.
Don grinned. "Thank him for me. I like the guy's taste in women's jewelry." Both women nodded and divided that section up between them. They handed Don a few things, making him smile. "Cheap Christmas presents for Ma and Pop," he said happily, putting them in his room.
Across town, the brother popped in on Giles. "You never said he had a harem," he said grimly. "My father is most pleased with his tastes in mates. The two women are beautiful for mortal and being human. Both his men are quite arousing as well. Father is very pleased."
Giles frowned at him. "The last I knew they were only friends."
"He gifted them with his apology present, they're his harem." He smirked at him. "That will get him more offers but more generous ones as well. Only the most serious will be able to offer since they'd have to integrate his harem with theirs. It'll be a wonderful match. Thank you."
"The boy needs protected. He's basically a Quarth demon in human form," he said grimly. "Even as a lower level GHS we all know that the level tens are meant to go somewhere they can be protected. That's the only reason I'm helping you."
"Yes, I know, but my father does like watching him get frustrated now and then." He smiled and disappeared, going to report that. Yes, his father was very pleased with his odd, adopted son's choices in his harem. Perhaps they would send more his way since it seemed one was not going to be moving with him.
Xander looked up from his reading as a messenger demon appeared next to him. "What now?" he complained, taking the letter. He read it once. He read it twice. "DON!" Don came jogging out of the office and took the offensive thing, one hand holding him down so he couldn't get up and kill the messenger. "They are not my harem!" he said hotly. "I've never slept with Stella or Aiden. I've only cuddled Aiden." The messenger shrugged. "Don, do something before I explode," he ordered. "Because I will take his head for this."
"You're not to go hunting when you're this mad," he reminded him. "Anger isn't a tool." He looked at the messenger. "I'm his protector, not his concubine. Sorry." It shrugged and pointed at the note, then disappeared. "Stella, Aiden?" he called more quietly. "Come here please?" They came out of Stella's room upstairs and he handed over the note, then he went to hide, Xander running behind him. "It got delivered," he called as he ran.
Aiden watched them get away then read the note. "Excuse me?" she demanded.
Stella snatched it and did the sensible thing. "Get your ass down here!" she bellowed. The adopted brother demon appeared, looking hesitant. "I am not Xander's harem. Aiden is like his sister. I am like his sister. Don is his protector. The only part of Xander's harem around here is Danny!" she said hotly, moving on him. "We are not his, he's our mascot, get it right!"
He shrugged. "To us, it is his harem. He gifts you. He spoils you. He pampers those who are ill and in need of it. He protects you from those who would harm you. To the demonic, you are his harem, even if you are only his friends. To us that simply means that he does not have you to make babies with." He shrugged. "We know of his past troubles with women, you are filling in those gaps for him." He popped out then came back behind where Xander had tackled. "Nice try." Xander growled and he left. "It is as it says," he called as he faded.
"Get back here!" Xander yelled.
"Calm down," Aiden ordered, trying to stay calm. She started to giggle, making Stella start. "Well, at least they think you have good taste in women, dear."
Danny came down the escalator. "Since the yelling's done, what's going on this time?"
"Did *you* know we're all Xander's harem?"
"No," he said quietly, considering it. "The last I knew he wasn't sleeping with you two." They both shook their heads.
"They said that just meant he hadn't gotten around to it yet or he didn't plan on having children with us," Aiden told him, handing over the note. Which basically said that if Xander would relent he would spoil his whole harem with presents and gladly integrate them into his own, they would be safe in the monsoon palace. Danny read it and looked at Xander, who was still growling. "I think he's a bit upset."
"Only one person would have sicced them on me," Xander said, standing up. He jogged up the escalator going the wrong way and went to change, then came down the back way so no one could stop him. He made it over to Connor's in a cab, he was much too pissed to drive his SUV - he'd hurt someone - and finally got there. He walked in and found Connor, Richie, and Giles all looking at some old book. "Giles, prepare to lose your head," he growled, pulling his sword.
"What did I do?" he demanded, diving for his own sword.
"Xander!" Connor snapped. "That is not polite."
"He had that monsoon demon come after me, again!" he shouted, pointing at Giles. "Some demons who claim they adopted me think that Don, Stella, and Aiden are my fucking harem! It had to come from him! I'm taking his fucking head, now get out of the way!" Connor gave Giles a horrified look.
"I was trying to protect you!"
"By sending me to someone who castrated me the last time?" he sneered, lunging forward. It was a feint and everyone but Giles and Connor knew that.
"You need more work, Xander." Xander backhanded him and lunged more properly this time, nearly pinning Giles. Giles managed to get free and take off running with Xander right behind him.
"Richie, go stop them," Connor moaned.
"No way in hell. If he tried to give Xander to someone, I'm on Xander's side. Even if that would be one fun bed," he noted dryly.
Connor groaned and headed after them, finding him in his practice space. He watched Xander, amazed at what he was doing. Giles had years of fencing and minor sword work taught to him by the Watchers. He had hand-to-hand in two different disciplines taught to him. Xander was all movement and rage. He was going to win. "Enough!" he shouted.
"Fuck you!" Xander shouted back.
Connor sighed and shot them both with the gun he kept in there in case Xander lost control again. He went to get the mop to clean up the small mess, watching as they healed. Xander was healing slower for some reason. When Giles woke up he glared at him. "You will tell me everything, Rupert. I do not want demons in my home."
"I do not care!" he said firmly. "You will tell me and I will explain your reasons to him while you hide. Because he will be taking your head if you do not."
Richie came back in. "Why is he healing so slowly, Connor? I heal quicker than that and Mac said I'm a slow healer."
"I'm not sure. It could have something to do with his hormones."
"The old fart's not that way."
"Point." He searched him, finding a few things that he hadn't done, Giles hadn't done, and no one else had done. "When did he get this injury?" he asked more calmly. Giles looked and shrugged. "Were you not watching over him as well, Rupert?"
"My duty was Buffy. He jumped in. I had to protect her and stop Willow from bloody well destroying us all a few times."
"So, who watched him when he jumped in and fought? Or took her place?" Richie asked. It was an important question and Giles could only shrug. "Huh. So, who planned graduation?"
"I did. At..at least the explosives part," he said under the dual gazes. "He did get us more fighters. Otherwise it would've been a massacre."
"Uh-huh," Richie said dryly. "And how many vampires did he stake?"
"Why is that important?"
"Because you obviously never saw the boy as he was, Rupert," Connor said bitterly. "He's clearly more than a tagalong like you and those girls of yours thought."
"Yes, he was a normal man. So?" Connor shrugged. "I fought in quite a few battles as a normal man. Richie survived being on the streets as a normal man. Richie, see what that injury is." Xander moaned. "Can we get Adam here or Sheldon?"
"Sheldon definitely and I'll call Don to make sure they know he's okay and he hasn't taken Giles' head yet." He went to do that.
Connor rounded on Giles again. "What were you thinking?"
"He needs to be protected."
"He has Don and Danny for that."
"They can't jump in and save him in everyday life. They work."
"Xander was about to take your head when I shot him, Rupert. He wasn't lost in his mind this time either. You would have died permanently within the next ten minutes if I hadn't shot you both. Even I discounted the boy as being too playful to last long in the game, but you did something much more heinous. You could have been the boy's only link to being normal and happy. Instead you pushed him aside and let his best friends do the same."
"It's not my fault they did that."
"Did you try to mediate?"
Giles shook his head. "He buggered himself within the group by going after Faith."
"Yes, and he nearly died for it," Xander said, making himself sit up. "Oh, that's right, you didn't want to see the bruises where she choked me." Giles went pale at that. "Or how Angel wouldn't say how he saved me or why I had two hours of blacked out time in there." Giles backed away. "Or, gee, how about you pointing out I wasn't the only one in the clinch when Willow and I kissed? Or did you not pay attention when the girls went from 'he's an okay guy' to 'get us snacks, Xander'?" Giles shook his head. "Then I fucking well feel sorry for your stupidity and I wouldn't want your quickening anyway, Giles. It's gotta be dirty and nasty, just like your soul." He snatched his sword back from Connor. "While he's here, I'm never coming back. I'll be training with Eric in Miami." He walked off.
"Stay," Richie called. "Connor found other injuries and he wanted Sheldon to look at them." Xander looked at him. "Seriously."
"Because you healing so slowly may lead to you losing your head," Connor told him. "Giles was up and around at least ten minutes before you were and I'm the one who kept him from picking back up his sword. A less honorable opponent wouldn't have hesitated."
"You're the reason I went down anyway," Xander pointed out bitterly. "Kinda clear which side you were on, Connor." Sheldon walked in. "Let's go, you're taking me home and you can see whatever there."
"Sure. What happened?"
"Giles decided to try to sell me to the highest demonic bidder so they'd protect me. Now the price has went up since I've got my own harem in Stella, Aiden, Danny, and Don according to demonic tradition." Sheldon shuddered at that thought. "Exactly. So now that I've been betrayed by the last one, the only thing out of Sunnydale I want to see is Oz. The rest of them can live inside the hellmouth forever for all I care." He walked out, Sheldon following after a quick word with Connor. "Do I have to go down again?"
"Not really. I should be able to tell what's healing without it, Xander. Get in." Xander climbed in and he drove him back home, following him up the stairs. "Connor said he's healing too slow," he said to forestall any fights. "I'm here to see why, not to add to the problems or the harem. I already heard that semi-rant. I would've taken Giles' head by now."
"He didn't?" Danny asked.
"Connor shot us both and then said it's a good thing he's honorable or Giles might've killed me while I was down," Xander said bitterly.
"Some would but Connor should have beaten the shit out of his student for giving you to them too." He followed them up, going to see what was healing on Xander this time. They took out two chunks of metal and a tip of a claw, watching as those healed at a more normal rate. "Okay...."
"Please don't kill me again today."
"Sure." He kissed him and knocked him out, watching as the new injuries healed at a more normal rate. "There's probably at least another one."
"If I had a portable x-ray I'd do one," he offered. "I don't. Star Trek's scanners would be a help too, Danny."
Danny smirked and winked at him. "You do have an x-ray, Doc." Sheldon smirked and nodded, getting Xander up and down to the SUV to drive him back to the office. They walked in and down to the morgue. "No he's not dead," he told the new head ME, Sid Hammerback. "He's got something stuck in him and we wanna know where."
"Why?" he asked mildly. "I know what Sheldon is by the way." They both stopped to look at him. "As an ME, I have seen it before, boys. Why?"
"Xander's one and he's healing too slowly," Sheldon said quietly. "I've already pulled out a tip of a claw, two pieces of metal, and the bullet from earlier." That got a nod and the x- ray was pointed to. "Thanks, Sid." They got to work together and marked all the spots on Xander's body where foreign objects were resting. There were a few in his stomach. There were some in his side, one in his leg, one in his shoulder. All opaque and nothing metal except for a small thing on the back of his neck. They got that out first and it healed properly. Then they went to get all the other things out, watching as those cuts healed. The last one Xander was awake for when they looked. "We found bits and pieces of stuff in you that's making you heal slower, Xander. It was trying to force it out."
"I had hopes I wasn't in the morgue because I took *that* long." He looked at his thigh then shrugged. "I got hit with a piece of my own stake probably."
"Quite a few times," Danny agreed, letting him see everything they had pulled out. "Anything else you wanna admit to?"
"Yeah, that birthmark on my arm? It has something to do with the adoption thingy."
"Already tried that, it came back," Sheldon offered. He dug out the last piece, making Xander hiss and grab Danny's hands. "Sorry." He fished it out and held it up. "Yup, another piece of stake." He dropped it into the dish and looked, that one was already closed. "Good. You're all set now." He smiled at him. "You should heal just fine, Xander. Don't let them think I'm part of your harem as well."
Sid looked over. "Harem?"
"By the culture of the people who were tryin' ta take him last, Doc, we're all his harem. All those that he spoils."
"Would that make Mac his harem guard?"
Danny and Xander shared a horrified look but Sheldon burst out in giggles, leaning on the table.
"I do love a bit of mirth," Sid said happily. "Scram, boys, unless you want to become residents for the night." They left, going home.
Sheldon went up to tell Mac the good news, finding him glaring at something. "Hey, Mac," he said with a grin. "Did you know that we're all Xander's harem according to the monsoon guy who had him?" he asked dryly. "Anyone he spoils or gifts, anyone he pampers apparently." Mac gave him a horrified look. "Guess that makes you the harem guardian, huh?" Mac went pale at that. Sheldon nodded. "We found out who set them onto Xander too. Giles."
"His old friend Giles? From Sunnydale? The one Oz sent to Connor for training?"
"The one who helped Connor laugh at him when he got sent back by that guy wearing women's clothes? Yeah," he agreed dryly, smirking at him. "Connor apparently had to hurt them both to stop Xander from removing this new threat to his safety."
"Hmm. Interesting. Anything else?"
"Yeah, we just fixed his problem with a few bits and pieces of things stuck in his body. Parts of a stake, a piece of metal, a claw tip." He shrugged. "He's better now."
"Very interesting. Thank you, Sheldon. How did Connor handle it?"
"Piss poorly," Don said from behind him. "Very, very poorly. So, how does it feel to be part of the harem?"
"He only spoiled me that once."
"Trust me, you were named in the second note we got when he was gone. That thing is trying to make us ask him to join by treating us nicely." He tossed over something. "That was sent for you."
"Why do I need a ruby broach?"
"Not a clue. Maybe they wanna dress you like him." Sheldon burst out in new giggles, gasping for air as he clutched the door. "Oh, I don't know, he might look cute in a sari and sandals." He strolled off, going to find something Danny had left here last night.
Mac shook off the image of him in a sari. "Go away, Sheldon. I've got a headache." He walked off, still giggling. Mac put his head down on top of the file that had been vexing him. Then it hit him, the connection he had been missing. "Thanks, guys," he muttered, going to check it out.
"Hey, how come you get the prettier things," Stella said with a pout when Xander and Danny came back.
"Probably because they think I'm high ho of the harem," Aiden joked. Xander groaned and went right to bed. "You okay, snookums?"
"No, I'm not. I'm going to die of embarrassment now. Sorry if I start to smell." He slammed his room door and climbed into bed, closing the curtains around him. Then he had to turn and kick the demon out, making her scream and the others come pick her up to...talk with her for him. At least he figured someone would be saying something while they beat her to death for him. A warm body slid in behind him. "Not in the mood."
"I know," Don agreed, cuddling up against his back. "But it'll make you feel better."
"So would some chocolate."
"Sorry, not allowed for lunch. Want real food and then some chocolate?"
"Hmm." He shook his head. "No thanks." He settled in, letting Don hold him while he slept. He was always sleepy after dying for some reason.
"If he's the one who unites you then you're his," Danny mimicked as he came back in with a glass of milk. "Here, he should drink."
"He's out." Danny put it beside the bed and got Xander's front for now. "He okay?"
"He'll be fine. We found all the little pieces of stuff and got 'em so he'll be just fine, Don. I promise." Don nodded and shrugged at that. "Good. Then we should help him nap."
"We should. I'm tired too." They fell asleep together, along with everyone else in the house. It gave the family time to come down and put around the gifts that had been sent to Xander so he would consider their suits. That's why their screams later nearly woke the whole neighborhood and got their favorite bodyguard sent back with Mac this time. Stella and Aiden were babbling more than enough to confuse poor Donny and Mac just groaned and got them to summon a messenger, writing out a carefully worded note that Xander was now bound by his promise to Danny and would not take anyone else in until Danny decided it was time with Don's help. It got the girls free of this problem and he took Stella home with him while Aiden and Donny settled in to sort the various stuff into categories of 'tacky', 'QVC knock-offs', 'horrible taste', and 'cute'. Because no one sent anything beyond cute this time. Nothing in the 'pretty' category or anything higher. She was almost disappointed.
The trio walked off the plane and felt the quickening buzz, but only Danny sighed. "At least it could be a good guy." He walked them down and out of the tunnel, finding Eric standing there. "We just barely get here and we're in trouble already? How did I do that?" he asked dryly.
"Not *trouble*," he offered dryly, shaking his hand. "Welcome to the labs, Danny. You as well, Don," he offered, shaking his hand too. "I'm Eric Delko."
"Good. I was hoping you were the only one."
"Yeah, I am, but we got given stuff for a certain harem lord." Xander groaned and put his face in Danny's shoulder.
Danny patted him gently. "They've decided that we're all his harem, anyone he spoils, and that they're going to get the harem to agree to joining the other guy's harem by giving us pretty stuff."
"Can't I please ask Ethan to have him eaten?" Xander begged, looking at Danny. "Please?"
"No, dear. We've already talked about that. That would be a bad guy thing." He looked at Eric. "Those two get it down here?"
"Yup. They thought they had come up to talk about joining the harem, that's why you three were moving down here. I had Richard talk to someone there about it and they're very sorry they bothered H and Speed but that it was now mental porn for the thing in charge." Xander groaned. "So, come on. You made Speed growl and you weren't even in the city."
"Can Richard help us stop them?" Danny asked as they walked. "We've got, like, four bags."
"Figured you would," he said, giving him a knowing look. "UPS dropped something for you guys earlier too. I've gotta say, that's a great house, even if it does need painted." Xander smiled at that. "Come on, the faster you get through the airport, the faster you get to go home and have the ice cream Speed left in the freezer for you." Xander raced ahead for that. Then he suddenly pounced someone, making her shriek.
"Xander!" She glared at him and he just smirked. "What is with the hair! Are you Mr. Gay now?" she demanded, tapping a foot. "You, me, and a hairdresser, young man."
"Hey, I like his hair. Lay off the hair," Danny ordered dryly. "Would you like to introduce the person you just pounced?" He looked at the brunette with blonde streaks. She was thin, fashionable, a bit tanned but not too dark. She held herself like Xander.
He pointed at her and then smirked. "Cordy." He hid behind Don.
She snorted. "He never was very socially capable. Hi, Cordelia Chase," she said, holding out a hand. "Which of you two is his boyfriend?"
Danny waved and smirked. "Danny Messer." He shook her hand.
"Don Flack. We're just transferring down here. Are you moving here?"
"No, I'm vacationing with my parents," she said grimly. "Which means you'll have more fun than I will."
Xander looked at her over Don's shoulder. "There's a demon who thinks I've got a harem, Cordy."
"Can I join? They've got to give pretty presents at least. And what is with the hair?"
"I like the hair. Leave the hair alone," Danny told her again. "Come on, bags." Eric led them that way, she came along. "Won't your parents worry?"
She pulled out her cellphone. "Mom, I'm still in the airport, where are you?" She smirked. "That's fine, mom. No, actually, I ran into Xander. He's moving down here and his boyfriend's here with him. I don't know, he's an officer, mom. Sure, I'll be at the hotel tonight. That's fine." She rolled her eyes. "I'm sure I can, mom. Thanks." She hung up and groaned. "They decided to accidentally forget I was with them and leave me to go sit in the bar and drink cocktails with a few old friends."
Xander grinned at her. "They finally decided to bust my dad for the underaged pros and gambling."
She smiled and punched him on the arm. "Congrats! Speaking of lesser hells, we heard what Buffy's mom did and we thought it sucked, Xan." She stroked his arm. "Hmm, muscles." She pushed up his sleeve, letting him flex. "Nice muscles. Good reflexes too." She smiled and helped them get their bags. "Let me guess, Xander packed everything?"
"Kinda," Don agreed dryly. "But it's all good to us."
"Everything else is on a truck," Danny agreed.
"It had better not be going to Nebraska either." He checked his phone. He had compulsively asked the movers to make sure they knew they were going to Florida. They finally made Don come get him so they'd quit tripping over him. He put an arm around her waist. "So, how soon before they conveniently forget you exist totally?"
"Probably an hour. Mom found an old friend who's willing to lend dad some money to do some investing. There's no telling how long it'll be." She followed them out, watching Xander take the cart. She held Danny back with a hand on his arm. "There's a reason why he sent me to go bitch on Willow that once. It will come out on you and that Don guy if you hurt him. Am I clearly understood?"
He nodded. "Sure, you're a scary woman. Wouldn't wanna tangle with you."
She smiled and patted him on the cheek. "You have no idea, dear. I hunted with the group now and then too. I've destroyed lives and cackled pleasingly. I won't hesitate if my Xander needs it too. After all, he was mine and he'll be mine forever and ever. And if I'm not enough, I've got one of the original scary vampires at my beck and call plus the backing of most of a street gang, a watcher, and a science nerd that could probably help me cover up your horrible deaths and mutilations, though not in that order of course." Danny, still grinning, nodded. "Good. Just remember that, even if you don't think I'm capable. Because I *am* the Bitch Queen of Sunnydale. Unchallenged for ten years running now."
He nodded. "Sure, I can see that. He told us all about you."
"Good. Then you know I've got to keep snarking on the hair because he looks like Mr. Gay."
"Yeah, but it's a great thing ta pet and hold onto."
She smirked at that and shrugged. "His tongue was good but it's got no rhythm."
"It does now."
"Then maybe I'll see if he wants to switch back." She strolled off, making him laugh. Xander swung her around and picked her up, pressing her against a wall to stare into her eyes. She continued to smile but she got the message. He was stronger and they were his. She wasn't getting him back. "Fine. But we've still got to do something about the hair and the clothes, Xander."
"They wouldn't let me wear my favorite leathers on the plane." He looked up at her and she nodded so he put her down. "Wait until you see me in 'em." He grinned and walked off with her, Danny on his other side, Don with the bags now. "Play nicely, dear. Danny knows thugs who'd make Gunn cry."
"Sure, I'm sure he does. New York's like the capitol of Mafialand, right?" Danny nodded, smirking a bit at that. "That's fine, I can still do worse because I've got Rosenburg at my back." Xander gave her a look. "She's better now."
"She still hacked my bank account and tried to take a few mil," he said dryly.
"And how in the hell did you end up with a few mil anyway?" she asked dryly. Eric gave her a look. "I'm sure they know."
"See, GHS members, like me, often have to find ourselves." He looked at her. "Ask Angel."
"Hmm, demon brothel. He heard something about one of us being there and the soul of chaos drawing 'em in like flies." Don coughed and pointed at the one who was staring. "Hmm, two-point-three."
"You're going that high with the icky clothes?" Xander asked. "Are you ill?"
She shrugged. "We've had a seventies revival in Hell-A. I'm more immune to it now. It's not orange, knit, or ugly polyester." Danny laughed at that. "Yay, it's not." She smiled at him. "So, Angel probably wanted a card," she said just loud enough to be overheard. The vampire squeaked and disappeared. "Good idea." She looked at him again. "And I know you can write, Mr. Happy. I helped you with your handwriting way too many times to not know that."
He sighed and nodded. "I've sent a few emails."
"Send more. It's the height of my day when I get something from you complaining about demons wanting your ass again." She opened the back of the car they were paused beside, getting a smile from Eric. "I've gotta get a ride somehow."
"I can drop you off. This is their rental."
"That's fine, you're a hottie and it'll only do me good to be seen with a hottie so the others know I have good taste." He burst out in giggles, leaning against the side of the car shaking his head.
Xander grinned. "Always after the bigger fish, Cordy." He put their bags into the back and put the cart into one of the parking spots with another one. Then he walked back. "Okay." He heard the squeal of brakes and hurried back to the car, climbing inside. "Go ahead and go with Eric, he's a very nice CSI guy, and we'll see you in a few days?"
"You'll be *where*?"
"Which hotel, I'll leave a message when I've got my new phone tomorrow."
"Odyssey." She considered it. "Or is it the Odessa?"
"The Odessa is a little rooming house so I hope not," Eric offered. "The Odyssey is decent enough but not truly upscale."
She called her mother. "The Odyssey, right? Yes, mother, Xander and I had our chat and now I'm coming back to the hotel. Please." She rolled her eyes while her mother asked the waiter. "Thank you, mother. He said the Odyssey and she's royally trashed already." He nodded at that and she slid into the hummer. "These are nice. The police down here are very hip."
"We need them now and then." He smiled as he took off, letting the boys follow him. "If not, can you get your own place for the night?"
She nodded. "Ooh, I'm used to this. They forgot me in Mexico a few times while Daddy was on business." She ran a hand through her hair. "Mom's a bit of a lush whenever she travels. It happens. He realizes this I'm sure." He nodded, leaving it there. "If not, where is Xander living?"
"Have any cabdriver head toward the CSI station and turn off the main road at the gate. Buzz the gate and that's their place. It's the only gated access on that road."
"Sure. Thank you. You're very nice."
"I try now and then," he offered, giving her a small smile.
She winked back and when they got there she slid out. "Thank you, Detective. It's nice to see such cute young men when a girl's lost." She sashayed inside and up to the desk. "My parents, the Chases, have already checked in but I got lost." He looked it up then at her. "I'm Cordelia."
"Ah. I do have you listed in their room, Miss Chase. Please sign here." He handed over something. She looked at it then at him. "They said you were."
She snorted. "I hate them," she muttered but she did put down her lone credit card. "Thank you. Which way?" He pointed at the bar. She rolled her eyes. "Want them?"
"Not really. I've got a set of my own and in-laws."
"Thankfully I don't have those." She strolled that way, looking at her parents. "I am *so* going to complain," she noted when she found her mother, making her gasp. "Yes, mother, you managed to lose me again." She looked at her father, weathering the glare. "Remember, I do have a finite limit and I'm cutting off all trips to the bar." She went back to the desk and took their keys, heading up to the room. Her parents could have the rollaway they had planned for her. An hour later someone knocked on the door. "Who is it?"
"Message from the desk, ma'am."
She got up and went to answer it, finding one of the bellhops. She smiled and tipped him, taking the message to look at. "Interesting. Tell him I'll be right down?" He nodded and left. She went to put on something pretty, coming down in a flirty little sundress. Xander smirked as she caught sight of him. "Wow, the leathers do a body good," she said in awe. "Even with the hair."
"Lay off the hair, Cordy." He kissed her on the cheek. "I'm cooking."
"Is this torture?"
"No. I'm a good cook." He walked her into the bar and smiled at the bartender, then at her parents. "Mr. and Mrs. Chase. How *charming* to see you two again." They both stared in horror. "Yes, I'm sure you remember me, I'm Xander, I dated your daughter in high school. Now look at her, all grown up." He smiled and pulled her closer to kiss gently, then smiled at them. "I'll have her home at a decent hour. I promise. We're going to go trade recipes." He walked her out, knowing Mrs. Chase was drooling after his ass and Mr. Chase was coveting the ring on his hand. Or the bracelet on his wrist. He got her outside and to a cab. "Whatever road the CSI station is on and to the gate please? I just moved and I can't remember the name of the road." That got a nod and he took off. Xander turned to look at her. "Did it again?" She nodded. "Figured." He pulled an envelope out of his shirt pocket and held it out. "To get rid of them and make your mother fucking jealous, plus the five grand I owed you for dealing with Willow."
She blinked, then stared at him. "Xander?" she asked, looking stunned.
"I've got the cash, Cordy. Don't worry about it. Just watch out for monsoon demons who think you're part of my harem now. I owed you that anyway. I was going to fly you out and let you hit any store you wanted but then you got busy and I got kidnaped again." She hugged him. "Shh, princess. Every princess has got to have a crown." She smiled as she pulled back, putting the envelope into her purse. "Just in case because they were drinking Dom."
"Yeah, I cut them off at the bar; someone else was buying it." She pulled his braid around. "I can see why the boyfriend likes this." The cabbie choked. "Yes, he's my ex and he's gay. He's just like that." She let it go as they pulled up to the gateway.
The cab pulled up and Xander input the code, making the gate open. They drove up and she gasped. "It is pretty. I had a great house in downtown Manhattan before this one and a condo that wasn't very secure before that." He pulled out his wallet. "Crap, did it again. Cordy, did I give you any smaller bills?"
She looked and shook her head. "Nope, only fifties." She looked in his wallet and traded him two for a hundred, making him smile and hand one over to the driver. "Have a nice night," she offered, making him smile. They got out and he walked her inside. "I hope you're painting."
"We're discussing that over dinner." He walked her back to the kitchen. "I'm back."
"Horatio and Speed are in the study," Don called, smiling at Cordelia. "He thought you could use a night off from them."
"Oh, verily." He laughed at that. "They made me pay for the room too. So I cut them off at the bar." He grinned and hugged her. "Man, you guys are a really friendly lot." She got free and pinched him on the arm. "Don't wrinkle the prettiness."
"I never wrinkle myself. Xander wrinkles me getting cuddles."
She gaped and looked at Xander. "Both of them?"
He swished his way into the kitchen. "No, Don only gets cuddles. Danny gets bouncy and energetic sex. Fortunately without the traction the last one got." Danny nodded at that, rubbing his back. "I was nicer than that."
"You were," he agreed, stealing a kiss and getting a smile in return. "H, Speed, they're here."
They came out of the study and came to give Xander a hug and shake her hand, starting off the party since they had brought another member of the PD and Eric with them. It was nice and almost like a family. Sitting around complaining about Xander's demon suitors. Complaining about the cost of dry cleaning. Xander vowing to take Don to shop in the morning. That one got a laugh from Eric, but Don just moaned and tried to get out of it. But Xander was intent on spoiling him rotten, his own words. It was fun up until the shower of jewelry came down during dinner.
"Okay, this is one gift I wanna know how you pulled off," Calleigh, the other person from the department, ordered. "Because I want one of these at my next party."
Xander looked up. "Must you!" he demanded in a whine. "They're family not my harem." A note drifted down noting that his harem had gifted their families so he could gift them as well. He groaned and just shook his head. "I'm having a headache for dessert, anyone else want one?"
"Please," Speed agreed, holding up something to Horatio's throat. "Wrong color for you. Sorry, H."
"I don't need presents like these."
"Thankfully with how low our salaries are," Eric snorted.
Danny looked at him. "You guys get another two grand a year over what we did."
"That just means New York wanted to make you guys suffer and beg plus police the lower rent areas by living there."
"True, I got quite a few suspicious looks because Xander put us in a nice building," Don agreed dryly. He patted Danny on the back and grabbed Xander when he came out with the cake, letting Eric take it from him. "C'mere. It's all right." Xander snuggled in for a cuddle, getting a few 'awww's from the girls. "You good again?"
"Yes, but it's going to be a horrible mess to clean up."
"We can pick them off and drop them into a sink somewhere," Speed assured him, getting a smile. "So, your antique bed comes when?"
"You pulled that old thing out of storage?" Cordy asked. "It's enormous."
"It is and it upped the moving costs by another grand," Danny said dryly. "But he sleeps on it most every night, even when I'm not there as a convenient body pillow." She blushed at that. "It's okay, you get used to this Xander. Feel lucky he's having a clothing day. There for about a week all he wore were little thong bathing suits since our old place had a pool in it."
"We can put a pool here now," Xander said, flicking a ruby onto the floor. "How big did we want? We could put in a moat for this."
Danny grinned. "No moat needed, Xander."
"If you say so."
"I say so," Don agreed. "It'd probably make Adam laugh way too much."
"Yup," Speed agreed dryly, patting Horatio on the back since he moaned at that. "A lot. Ray too." Xander nodded at that. "When are they coming?"
"When we've got furniture." He let out an impish grin. "Then I'm going to make Ray lay out with me. He's a pale person."
"He is but not all of us tan," Horatio pointed out. "I'm out all day and I don't seem to get more than pale." He looked at his own skin.
"You are vampire pasty," Cordy agreed. "Have you thought about one of those 'natural glow' lotions? The ones that come with the hint of a tint?" He smiled and nodded. "Did it help?"
"That was the only day I burned," he admitted.
"Ooh, sorry." He shrugged. "So, what is Xander going to be doing all day?"
"Finishing learning how to cook and I'm still in talks with the person who runs that one spa. I'm not sure she's not smoking some sort of pipe with some of her ideas so I'm being very cautious. She wanted to put a fountain in the massage rooms?"
"It's supposed to be a soothing sound. We'll show you where we go and let you go through them, see what a really good Miami spa is supposed to look like." Xander smiled and nodded, getting up to finish serving the cake. "You did very well tonight, Xander."
"Thank you. I'm still learning a lot about cooking. This is the first time the cake didn't come out gooey." That got a laugh from Don and a nod from Danny. "But they're nice enough to eat it over ice cream for me anyway." Calleigh giggled at that. "They are." They all dug in and occasionally picked up a ruby piece to look at in the light. They slowly picked them off the table and dropped them into a pile on the floor next to the original one. It'd make for easier cleaning later.
Cordy walked back into her hotel that night, smiling at the man at the desk. "Any messages?"
"One for you, miss." He found it and handed it over. "Did you have a nice dinner out with your friend?"
"Very. It's good to laugh sometimes." She smiled as she read it, heading for the elevator. "Thank you." She pulled out her phone once she was inside. "Angel, I'm in Miami. Yes, I know Xander's here. I had dinner with him, a few friends, his protector, his boyfriend, and a few cops." She listened to him. "No, shower of rubies." She nodded once, getting off the elevator. "I know. I know." She got back onto the elevator and went back down, smiling at the guy at the desk and handing over the envelope. "Please put this somewhere safe for me so my parents can't get into it? I'll get it in the morning."
"Of course, ma'am, right into our safe." He sealed it into another envelope and put it in there for her.
"Thank you." She walked back into the elevator. "What, Angel?" She listened to him complain. "It is alphabetical by what we fought. Thank you!" She rolled her eyes. "No, he's not in trouble, just frustrated by the monsoon demon guy. I'm sure he is," she said dryly. "No, he's very nice. Thank you." She hung up and walked off the elevator, heading for her room. She found the door open and paused, then glanced inside. No one obviously up and moving. She shifted inside, scanning the room, flipping on the lights suddenly. What she saw made her gasp and she'd seen some really nasty vampire messes. "Eww!" She called the desk. "This is Miss Chase.... yes, please! Eww. No, I think I need a cleaning crew. I don't know but the intestines were a bit much for the decorating scheme. Yeah, door's open." She hung up and went to wait beside it. Eric, she knew Eric, smiled as he came off. "I've seen some nastiness before, but this is really eww."
"Did you touch anything?"
"The phone and the lights."
"That's fine. Why don't you wait in the hall for me?"
"Because I need to check my stuff in case they splattered on it."
Eric went that way and handed her a bag. "It was on the bed. Is that yours?"
She looked then at him. "I like lingerie as much as the next girl, but I'm not quite that trashy." She held it up and he blushed. "Exactly. That's so teenager to buy me." She handed it back. "Not mine. So very not mine. Not like I'd wear that for my vampire boss either." He smiled at that and put it back onto the bed, starting with that picture. "My stuff is in the bag in the closet if it helps," she called from the doorway.
"Miss Chase," Horatio said as he came off the elevator. "What happened?"
"Not a clue. I just got back and I've seen some nasty things with my former job and my present job, but eww." She pointed. "Very eww."
"All right, let's start with the obvious. Are those your parents?" She looked and nodded. "You don't seem too upset."
"Would you be? They tried to ditch me at the airport. Again." He nodded at that. "Also, they made me pay for the room. I'm so getting them if I have to pay damages."
"You shouldn't have to. Let's get you a clean room and we'll have your things sent down tomorrow, all right?" She nodded and let him walk her down to the desk. "Both her parents were killed," he told the manager. "There's a good bit of blood. We'll be up there for quite a few hours."
"We'll gladly transfer her rooms and not charge her for the old one, Lieutenant. Let us know if you need anything other than surveillance footage?"
"Of course. Thank you for your cooperation."
Cordelia put a hand on his arm. "Eric found a bag of really trashy, like ho trashy, lingerie on my bed. He asked if it was mine. My stuff was probably still mostly in the bag in the closet. My stuff from earlier may still be in the bathroom or I may've tossed it on top."
"That's fine. We can hand it to you once we've made sure nothing was put into there, like more presents." She nodded. "Thank you, Miss Chase. I'll see you in the morning."
"Yes, Horatio." She took her new card and handed him the old ones. "Since I won't need 'em." She smiled at the desk guys. "Thank you."
That got a nod and she walked off. "She's very calm."
"She works with a PI who's done some domestic abuse cases," Horatio offered quietly. "She said she's seen worse." That got some knowing looks. "The footage?" A tape was handed over. "Thank you. We'll do our best to keep it down and Alexx will be here shortly." He went back upstairs, going to help and see what she was talking about. "The stalker earlier?"
"Maybe. It's trashy and red," he offered, handing over the bag of lingerie. "She does have better taste than that."
"That's fine." He looked at the mess. "How does someone her age see something worse than this? Worse enough to be fairly blase about it?"
"Their high school graduation got attacked by something that was trying to eat them," Eric said grimly. "Plus she hunted too and she's working with that Angel guy now."
"Point, I guess." He shook his head and got to work. This was not going to be an easy scene, he hoped. The easy ones were the ones that gave you the nightmares. Thankfully they could alibi Cordelia up to ten minutes before she found them. He found a business card by the phone and sighed. "Eric, it's got a business card."
"Calleigh had that one and Speed had another one with Ryan. You know, he'll be a good CSI soon as we can get him a spot."
"Which should be fairly shortly," he agreed. "If I could've I would've taken him this time."
"We'll see, H. The Chief likes to humor you, he may switch Ryan and just enough of the budget your way." He got back to work. Then he decided to call Ryan. "Are you on call tonight for patrol?" He smirked at that, and Horatio's head-shake. "Where are you? That's fine. Come to the Odyssey. You're our patrol guy. Tell Calleigh it's got a business card and guts like hers. Thanks." He hung up. "He's pulling a double tonight, Calleigh was just pulled into a mugging case. He'll switch out with another patrol guy so he can see this one."
"That's fine. I'm sure he and Cordelia will get along smoothly."
"I'm almost worried, H. He and Xander are going to become buddies." Horatio smiled at that. "They will, you know they will, and Ryan will probably help him get into trouble."
"We'll be briefing the whole group tomorrow anyway, Eric. That way they know who to go to if Xander is in trouble and in what order."
"So, that's really working for you?"
"It does make me happy."
"Then I'm great with it. Wish you had told me last year though. Marisol thinks you're cute."
"And I think she's adorable but too young for me," he offered, giving him a look. "You can tell her I'm in a committed relationship but not with who."
"Sure, H." Ryan leaned in. "Hi."
"Hey." He looked around and took off his hat, dropping it behind him, but he didn't run a hand through his sweaty dark blonde hair. "This is just like hers. Only the guts are a bit more artistic this time. Is that supposed to look like a deer?"
"Very good catch, Mr. Wolfe. It's entirely possible. Are you on tomorrow?" That got a nod and a groan. Horatio smiled. "Tomorrow we're having a briefing about a new friend who's moving down here and the two new people to the group. You'll be included."
"The guys from New York are already down?"
"Yup, we had dinner with them," Eric offered. "Didn't Calleigh say anything about Xander?"
"Yup, and something about rubies that fell in a shower too but I thought she might've been a bit giggly tonight."
"No, they did," Horatio agreed dryly. "Xander has a few...stalkers. It'll be gone over tomorrow."
"That's fine. Can I help?"
"Let me finish the basics and get the ME in here," Eric offered. "For now, watch the door. Their daughter might be coming back for her things. She's brunette, fashionable, and a bit loud. She stood there and went 'eww' about it."
"She didn't scream and flee?"
"They're not that close," Horatio offered. "Eric said they lost her at the airport."
"No, I drove her in from the airport because she was hanging on Xander. Xander pounced her in the airport." That got a small grin. He looked at Ryan. "You'll like Xander. You'll probably get into trouble together."
"Sure, as long as his keeper doesn't mind." They both stared at him. "I have a friend who's a keeper. He warned me one of the top GHS was coming down and that his name was Xander Harris." That got a nod. "His keeper was a CSI out of New York and he had a protector who was a detective, both of which we just had sign on."
"Very good, Mr. Wolfe. It's a bit more complicated than that."
"Oh, I've heard some gossip here and there. What's this vic's names?"
"Sheila and Audrey Chase," Eric told him. "Their daughter Cordelia was the one who went 'eew'."
"Cool with me. Need a statement taken?"
"No, she was at dinner with us," Horatio offered. "She only had ten minutes to do this."
"Sure." He stood there and watched and pointed out something to Eric that made him come over and look at it from his perspective. That got another picture taken and something picked up and put into a baggie, but it was too blood covered to tell what it was. Then one of the bodies moved. "Huh. Interesting."
"They're not dead enough for rigor," Eric said grimly. He knew they weren't immortal, he couldn't feel them. He and Horatio shared a look.
Cordelia leaned around Ryan's shoulder. "My stake is in my bag," she said patiently, making him jump. She smiled. "Hi, Cordelia Chase, native of Sunnydale." She walked around them and into her room, finding her stake. Then she came out and handed it to Eric. "Here. Be the big, bad man. Or else I'll have to call Xander and he'll bounce for hours afterward and make many bad jokes."
"Sure." The ME came in and Ryan moved Cordelia out of her way. "Hi, Alexx. They're moving, be careful."
"Are they alive?" She looked. "They can't be with that sort of trauma and blood loss." She bent down to check one. "Hmm, looks like I need the needle injector tonight. Take all the pictures you can, boys." They did that and she noticed the stake. "That works." She palmed it and got them after all the pictures had been taken and Horatio cleared them of evidence. She handed over the stake with a smile. "Easiest call I've had in a while."
"I didn't know MEs knew how to stake," Cordelia offered. "I thought it was just us from Sunnydale."
"No, honey, more of us know than you think. Remember, we often see them get up and dance out." She looked her over. "Their's?"
"I'm not," she said with a shrug. "Oh, Xander has a good few books on what the thing of the moment is if you need them. He's always prepared that way."
"Who's Xander?" she asked, looking from her to Horatio.
"You'll find out tomorrow, Alexx." He kissed her on the cheek. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. I'll put out the paperwork that they were claimed since I already knew what killed 'em. Exsanguination and their intestines being done pretty that way. Was it a deer?" He nodded. "Wonderful." He held up the card. "Even better. I'll get you the papers tomorrow. Remember to take blood and any tissue samples you can, boys." She walked out, smiling at Cordelia. "Sunnydale lost more people? I didn't think they could leave."
"I only moved to Hell-A to work with a vampire there. I'm on vacation."
"Not really. Now they're not running up my credit card bill in the bar." That got a look from Ryan. "We people from Sunnydale tend to be practical. That and my parents liked to lose me now and then." She looked at Alexx. "I should get Angel to try to set up shop out here. It's a lot less demony and sunnier, plus nicer out here than LA." She strolled off. Then came back. "Can I have my bag and shampoo yet? I'm all sweaty from Xander- wrestling." Eric laughed and went to get it for her, clearing it to make sure it was all hers. She held up something and shook her head. "I love Fred but she's got odd tastes. Must be that geek thing." She tucked the nightie back in and strolled off. "I'm going to bed. Wake me before ten and be staked too."
Ryan blinked then looked at his boyfriend. "That's one hell of a girl, but I'm not sure what type."
"Xander's like that too," Eric assured him. "That's why we know you'll like Xander." He got back to work scraping up samples and Horatio got down to help him.
Alexx shook her head. "Go home sometime tonight, boys." She walked off after a pat to Ryan's shoulder. "You too."
"I'm on for a double."
"Uh-huh. Sit at your desk tomorrow, baby. You'll be too tired to drive."
"Maybe I'll have a lab hanging-on day," he teased.
"Works for me. Come down and do the autopsy you've got to do anyway." She strolled off, going to make notes and start her forms for these two. Horatio and that girl could give her everything she needed to know.
To part 12: