Danny and the others watched as Xander packed.  A relatively small bag considering what he was.  Most GHS packed their entire wardrobes for a mere weekend away.  Xander seemed to be packing mostly jeans and leathers.  "Good clothes," Danny ordered.

Xander got into his closet, looking at the suits Horatio had helped him shop for while he was supposed to be resting.  "What are you guys doing while Ryan and I will be gone?"

"Ryan's going?"

"Yuppers.  We were ordered to bring both of us."  He looked at Danny and shrugged.  "That's what was told to us."  He went back to deciding, putting two suits into the suitcase carefully.  Horatio would complain if he wrinkled them.  Ryan walked in and dropped his bag.  "Think that's enough?"

"It's only for a week, Xander."

"Point."  He grinned and looked, then packed his shoes carefully, including his good dress shoes.  Then he got his toiletries bag and tossed it inside before closing his suitcase.  "Okay, now I need to decide what to wear."

"Wear the blue pants," Danny ordered.  Xander grinned and pulled out the gauzy blue pants he had recently bought.  He looked at Ryan.  "Why you two?"

"Notice the marks on his hips?" Ryan countered.  Danny groaned and nodded.  He had looked the marks up and called Oz when he had found out they were the marks of Gods.  "They were kinda there."

"Jace...."  He shook his head.  "Never mind.  She's one of the few that old.  Are you guys stopping in on Adam on the way back?"  Xander nodded. "Good.  Ray's pouting."  He grinned.  "We're going to be having some light days of crime while you're gone and going through those stupid bags."  Xander blushed.  "Then we'll talk about what's going and what's staying.  Speaking of, when is Tumie getting out?"

"Two days.  I went to visit him last night, his keeper was there sobbing on him," Ryan promised.  "So the elephants and horse will be gone shortly afterward. Plus all the stuff in the garage.  I'm hoping no one else snuck in."

"I checked," Don called from the hallway, leaning in.  "Xander, fiscal responsibility while in Vegas?"

"Of course."  He pouted at him.  "I'm not a big gambler.  Though I do want to try baccarat."  He shrugged and grinned.  "It looks like it's an easy game to learn."  He snapped his fingers and went into the practice room, looking at the bags.  He picked up one but when he opened it what he wanted wasn't there.  He tried another one, and it was there.  He pulled out the small bag, making Ryan moan.  "I swear I'm going to have a few implanted so we're never without money, wherever I may be stolen to."

"I'd like to stay in this dimension for a while," Ryan complained, leaning against the wall.  "Pull out the hair stuff."  Xander gave him a look.  "Not the gaudy gold stuff you wore during wedding ceremonies, the other stuff."  Xander nodded and found that bag again, pulling that large bag out.

Don blinked.  "That bag is bigger than what you pulled it out of," he complained.  Xander kissed him as he walked past him.  "Danny?" he called when his mind cleared.  Danny came in.  "Xander's hair thing bag was longer than the bag it got pulled out of.  How is that possible?"

"It squished down?"

"No, it was a solid tube."  They looked at the bags and moaned.  If that was true, there was enough space in them to pack all of Europe's clothes in there, plus all the fabric for the next sixty years' fashions as well.  That was something only a GHS could need sixty of.  They came over and picked up the one on top, pouring it out.  When the pile got a few inches high, Don walked it off, letting it spill the whole way.  He squeaked at some of the things coming out.  Including the few dead animals.  Finally, nothing more came out.  He looked, he had walked a six-foot distance.  "Xander!" he yelled.  Xander leaned in.  "What are these?"

"Um, everlasting.  Don't rip them or everything in them will be sucked into a black hole forever and ever.  It's magical," he said at Danny's glare in his direction.  "Something quantum, don't ask me. I sucked at science."  He went back to working on his hair.  "How do I wear my hair with a suit?"

"Pulled back from your face so you look serious, but loose down your back," Ryan offered.  He came over to help and Xander smiled at that look.  "Even if it does need brushed."

"It does," he sighed.  "Help me?"

"It's your hair."

Xander grabbed his brush and sat down to wear out his shoulders.  "Fine, but you get the luggage."

"Sure."  Ryan shook his head and went to look.  He reopened the bag they had tried to empty and pulled out whatever had been blocking the opening, walking another two lines once it was down.  "Crossbows."  He gave it a good shake and a few last things fell out.  "Presents for blessing weddings.  He got bribed a few times to marry totally unsuitable people who were rich because of the kids on the way."  He shrugged and walked off after he picked up something. "I didn't know I put my bracelet in your bag."

"It was probably on the dresser and I dropped it in there," Xander admitted.  "Did you get your earring?"  Ryan walked back out, finding the blood red ruby, sticking it back in with a hiss as he walked off again.

Danny looked at Don.  "Why do we put up with Xander?" he asked quietly.

"We'd be terminally bored?" Don offered.

"Let's see how that works for us this upcoming week," he suggested.

Don shrugged. "You know I'll be more bored than you will be."  He went to help Xander with his hair.  He liked Xander's hair.  Maybe he'd let his grow in a few hundred years.  "How are you wearing it on the plane?"

"Braided down my back."

"French or just plain, ponytail from the bottom braid?" Don asked, picking up a clip.

"Either's fine."

"You've got some breakage and some shorter pieces," Ryan pointed out.  Don shrugged and french braided his hair, using the small silver clip to seal the ends.  "That works.  You do that so much better than I do."  Xander grinned at him.  "It is relaxing to play with your hair.  On bad cases, I'll drag you in to pet in the station."  Don giggled at that.  "I will."  He shrugged and fussed with his own hair.  "We ready?"

"We're done," Xander assured him, turning to kiss Don.  "Thank you."

"Put on a shirt and grab your carry-on," he reminded him.  Xander grinned and pulled out a darker purple shirt.  "Doesn't match and isn't that one mine?"  Xander handed it over and pulled on a light blue button up, sliding it over his head and doing the last few buttons.  He slid into his sneakers and stole another kiss, then went to get one from Danny.

"Be safe.  Sword?"  Xander grabbed it from the rack and waved it.  "Be good and be safe.  Don't blow your wad at the tables."

"I won't."  He grabbed his carry-on from the doorway, petted his babies and Don's puppy, then left with Ryan.  "They think I'm horribly inexperienced."

"You can be," Ryan pointed out.  "I heard you had to ask Stella how to do laundry."  He got in to drive.

"Of course I did.  All I knew was the 'soaking demon goo' method."  He put his bags into the back and climbed in, buckling up.  "I still have to replace my car."

"Get something sporty and flashy this time, but classic," he offered, turning so he could back down until he could turn around.  Then he headed out through the gate, checking to make sure it had closed behind them.  He drove them to the airport.  "Which airline?"

"Private.  I don't want seatmates today."

"Sure."  He grinned at him.  "You're so spoiled."

"I know I am."  He grinned back, beaming really.  "I'm very proud of my spoiled level. Speed said I should be when I let Horatio talk me into buying suits."

"Good.  At least you'll have some."

"I've got two in the bag.  Danny suggested it."

"At least you didn't bring one of the other bags."

"No, they'd get scared if I took all the clothes with me. Plus then I'd have to do a lot of laundry.  I have way too many clothes."

"I know but it's occasionally a good thing.  After all, I borrowed a shirt the other day.  When will Horatio be back?"

"Two more weeks."  He waved at the guard as they pulled up to the fence.  "Harris.  Private flight?"

"Park beside the terminal and check in, sirs."  They nodded and did that while he marked them off his list.  Security was very tight today for some reason.

Xander got out and headed inside, using his sunglasses to hold up the few broken pieces that kept getting into his face.  "I'd put on a headband but it'd look stupid and I'd look even more like a girl."

"You would," Ryan agreed, grinning at him.  "Not the first time that mistake was made."

"Yeah, but I slapped the last one."  He waited patiently behind the man in the robes and headdress in front of them.  When it was their turn, he walked up and smiled.  "Hi, Harris and Wolfe, to Vegas.  Private flight?"

She looked in her computer and nodded. "I do see your reservation, sir, and I see there's a note here asking if you'd take on an extra passenger.  We have a diplomat needing to go that way and his party overfilled his chosen plane."

Xander looked at Ryan, who shrugged.  "It'll be fine.  He can retreat to the back and we'll nap," Ryan offered.

"I'm nice that way but he pays his own way," Xander told her.  She nodded and clicked a few keys, accepting the offer.  One of the men in desert gear came back over. "Hi, Xander Harris.  You needed to hitch a ride?"

"We do.  Unfortunately we overfilled out plane with the family that had said they didn't want to go when we made plans," he said, his accent British.  "I will gladly pay my own way."

"Sure," Xander agreed happily enough.  "This is Ryan Wolfe.  He's my buddy.  You know we're going to Vegas, right?"  He nodded.  "Then that's fine."  He filled out the forms and they were led to their gate by a guard, who checked their swords for them.  Ryan's sword was longer and heavier than Xander's katana, but his fit his style better.  "Be careful, they're priceless and special," he ordered as his was slid into a safety tube.

"Of course, sir."  He noticed both boys looking around. "Something wrong?"

"Thought I smelled my ex's perfume," Xander said, frowning some as he continued to look.  He found a youngish looking woman staring at them.  He grinned.  "I'll be right back."  He jogged over.  "Hi, I'm Xander.  Who are you?"

"Amanda," she said carefully.  "I don't want a challenge."

"Good, I don't like to fight."  She smiled and relaxed.  "The same Amanda who let Macleod go?"  She groaned and nodded.  "He came after me, that's how I know.  Richie said some decent things about you.  I will mention it now.  If you hit my house I will take your head," he offered quietly.

"I don't usually hit our kind," she promised.  "What are you?"

"GHS."  She gaped and he nodded.  "And the National Head's student."

She swallowed. "I know him.  You're safe enough.  Who's the other one?"

"Ryan.  He's going with me to Vegas to visit Jace.  Heading our way?"

"No, I'm heading to LA."

"Oh.  Well, be careful.  The strange in LA is getting kinda worse right now.  Cordy was complaining about Angel not doing enough work recently and the strange things bothering her again and messing up her clothes."

"Sure," she agreed, not sure what he was talking about but it was a warning.  If she figured it out, she'd listen to it.  "Have a nice trip.  Jace's is a sanctuary and a very nice resort."

"Cool."  He grinned and went bouncing back to Ryan, who was frowning at something.  "Her name's Amanda.  Richie said she's a great Lupin impersonator."  He knew he and Ryan watched the same anime.  The guard gave him an odd look.  "She's leaving town, she was in on vacation."

"Sure.  As long as no one tries to stop her, I can't say a word."  He handed over the locked tubes. "There you go, sirs.  Have a nice flight."

"Thank you," Ryan agreed, taking them to put on their baggage trolley.  He walked Xander off.  "She's a thief?"

"Richie said she's a world class thief."

"Huh," he said slowly, considering it.

"I told her if she hit my house I'd be taking her head too."

Ryan smiled at that.  "I have no doubt the boys would stop her."

"Hopefully they're kicking back with beers and a game tonight.  They're awfully uptight, Ryan."

"It's the present thing, Xander.  You got way more than they could've even considered if they had thought it was possible."

"Not like I kept that city enslaved to my hormones," he pouted.

"True.  That was nice of you and they did give you back after their fertility ceremony was done with.  I thought that was very special of them."

"They only wanted me to broadcast.  And hey, Horatio didn't laugh."

"Where you saw," Ryan countered with a grin.  "He went to the temple and laughed there when Cupid did.  He had been hellishly pissed."

"Not my fault," he said with a pout.  He even stuck out his bottom lip some.  "I was only going there to go play."

"I know you were," Ryan promised, patting him on the back.  "That's why you started coming in for lessons."  Xander nodded at that.  Their fellow passenger looked over at them. "Someone decided he should bless their spring fertility festival."

"Ah."  He went back to his reading.  He mulled that over in his mind.  He knew the woman they had talked to and it hadn't looked like they were old friends.  "Your ex?" he offered.

"No, but she knew her," Xander admitted.  "More of a friend of a friend.  So I wanted to meet her for that reason."

"Interesting. You do know what she does for a living?" he asked, looking at them.

Xander nodded. "Our mutual friend told me but who better to test our security at the house?"

"Good point," he admitted.  "I'll have to consider doing that after our next security upgrade.  It is a worthwhile use of the skills."  He nodded and went back to reading until their flight was called. They walked out there and he looked at the tubes.  "Plans?"

"Swords, antiques," Ryan told him.

"Ah.  Going to show them or sell them?"

"Talk to someone about them," he said with a small shrug.  "We both got given ours recently and I wanted to know more history on mine."

"That's a good thing.  Especially for insurance purposes."

"It is," Ryan agreed happily enough.  They put their bags into one of the closets, Xander's on top since he had fussy things, then the swords on top of them.  They buckled in on a couch and the diplomat took the back of the plane to read and leave them alone.  He looked at him.  "We've got to figure out how to anchor the broken and shorter bits."

"Bobby pins would look odd and so would a headband.  I can use my sunglasses."

"You can't wear one pair and hold your hair back with another. Horatio would growl at you for lack of sunglasses etiquette."

Xander grinned at that.  "Maybe.  We'll see a hairdresser out there at the spa I booked time in."

"Sure."  He fingered the end of his braid. "It's about time to condition this thing again."

"I know, but last time I couldn't get it all out before the water ran cold.  It took me forever to get the conditioner out."

"Try a leave in."

"Then I have wet, limp hair all day."

"Wash your hair in a separate shower," the other man offered from the back.  "Take a real shower, then come back after the water has had time to warm to condition it."  He turned the page.  "My wife has hair down to her waist and she has to do that as well."

"Thank you," Xander agreed happily.  "I hadn't thought about that."

He looked over.  "Sometimes, necessity is all you need," he said wisely.  He smiled and went back to reading.  "Where are you boys going to be staying?"

"We've got a friend who manages a small resort, we're going to stay with her," Ryan offered.  "It's off the strip."

"Those are always more comfortable and less crass or commercial.  Plus probably less gaudy and bright."  He shivered.  "Too many of them go for overly bright lights and colors to make you bet."

"No, she's thinking of hers as a relaxing sanctuary," Xander assured him.  He grinned. "I'd give you a card but I don't have one on me."

"That's fine.  I'll look into them the next time I'm in the city. I head there at least twice a year.  My son's in school out there."

"I hope he graduates very high in his class," Ryan offered.

The older man smiled.  "Thank you.  We hope so as well.  Or else his mother will beat him soundly and rant for a few years.  The only thing that will appease her is grandchildren. He knows this however so he's trying hard."  Both boys laughed.  "Seriously.  You don't know my wife.  She's probably ranting at the rest of the family.  Oh, please ignore my daughters."

"I'm gay," Xander assured him.  "I wouldn't go near them even if they hit on me."

He nodded.  "Excellent.  You're both very fine young men but I would rather have them marry in-country."

"It's a hard thing marrying into another culture," Ryan agreed.  "My lover's Cuban and Russian.  There've been some loud fights in that family from what I'm told."  The man laughed and nodded.  He looked at Xander's hair again.  Then he bopped him on the back of the head. "We should've taken the blue bag."

Xander shuddered. "No, I'll let Danny unpack that," he decided, smiling again.  "That way he knows that there's people who want to do more than own me."

Ryan snorted and gave him a look.  "He already knew that, Xander."

"Yeah, but now he'll be very sure.  That tapestry someone wove of me dying for enticing her boyfriend by breathing is very vivid."

"It is.  I thought it was cute when you stunned him and sent him after her so she'd leave you alone."

He grinned smugly.  "A perk of the skills, baby."

Ryan swatted him.  "Nap.  You're channeling horrible seventies movies, Xander."

"Yes, dear.  Can I nap on your shoulder?"

"Not the first time.  Go ahead."  Xander curled up to rest against him.  Ryan looked up to see the tolerant and fond look.  "He's my best friend.  The last time he was taken I was taken with him."

"He is one of those flighty, pleasured ones?"

Ryan nodded once.  "Yup."  That was a good way to describe most GHS members he knew.  Well, not Horatio at work, but probably at home.

"Then I understand fully.  He should always travel with a guard.  I know of a few who took care of one of them.  It takes a stronger man than I am."   He tipped his seat back.  "You should rest, it is a long flight."

"Sure."  He put up his footrest and pulled out a book from his jacket pocket.  The stewardess came over with the drink tray, letting him pick his own soda.  She went to get the other guy a drink as well, then got Xander a blanket since it was a bit chilly on the plane today.


Xander walked off the plane and into the heat.  "Damn," he said in awe.  "I thought Sunnydale was bad."  He wiped off his forehead.  "Okay.  To the security station so we can get the tubes opened."  They put their bags onto a trolley and walked that way to get their swords undone, then headed out to find a rental car.  They found a man with Ryan's name on a sign.  "Looks like Jace was expecting us."

"I hope so."  He walked over. "I'm Ryan Wolfe.  You were sent from Jace's?"  He nodded. "Thank you. Lead on.  This is Xander."  The man smiled and they headed out to his car, letting him handle everything but the swords.  They put them on their backs, Xander's mostly covered by his hair.  Ryan's under his jacket.  They settled in to watch the scenery go past, smiling at the resorts and the lights, plus the prostitutes.  The resort looked like a small castle when they pulled into the circular drive, the old stones darkened with age and the seams unseen.  Xander tipped the driver and the bellhop, then they walked inside.  Ryan walked up to the check-in desk.  "Hi, Ryan Wolfe and Xander Harris?"  The clerk there nodded and typed in those names. "With an 'e'."  That got a smile and their keys were made and a button pushed.

Xander looked around at the feel of the quickening.  Ryan was the better fighter but he was more on guard. There were people around who would want to steal him again.  "Hi," he told the youngish looking woman walking out.  She had shoulder-length brown hair and was wearing a tailored business suit.  She was a stunning and curvy woman with natural looking grace when she walked.  "Xander and this is Ryan."

"I've been expecting you boys.  Take their bags and swords upstairs," she ordered to the bellhop, who smiled and took the keys to do that.  "This is holy ground, boys.  You won't need them."

"We heard you might want to spar with us," Ryan offered.  "Big, dark, and deadly was fond of that idea," he offered with a small grin when she gave him a look with a raised eyebrow.

"Hmm, I do know him," she agreed, smiling at him.  "Come back to my office, boys."  She led them off, putting them into the office.  She looked at Ryan. "I heard a chosen warrior and an anchor."  Xander moved his pants so she could see the tattoos.  "Oh, my."  She came over to look.  "Cupid's, Strife's, Ares'.  I see one to Hera, one to Aphrodite, one to Hestia and a few to Hecate. You use magic?"  Xander nodded.  "A lot?"

"Barely.  I can grow plants and those herby things.  Not very strong but I don't use it often."

"That's fine," she agreed, tracing them.  She could feel the power embedded in the marks.  "They obviously enjoyed you."  She straightened up and looked at him.  "I'm the main anchor on this plane, Xander."

He shrugged.  "Okay.  I'm not trying to usurp."  She smiled and nodded at that. "I know Cupid helps me when my hormones start to go out of control and Strife enjoys me a lot.  Then again, I'm kinda a semi-berserker so Ares gets headaches from me."

"He said you could still drop into it if you were in that sort of situation," Ryan said quietly.  He sat down and pulled Xander into his lap, making him look at him.  "That's one of the reasons you have protectors and keepers though, huh?"

"It is and you make a wonderful protector," he promised, giving him a gentle kiss.  "Did Eric and my two fussy ones talk?"

"Eric told me to bring you home limp, sated, and tired so Danny and Don got another night off from your hormones."

"What?" Jace asked.

"I'm a level ten GHS," Xander said, shrugging a bit. "All GHS are Cupid's, but level tens are special and partially Strife's too because I can enslave the whole city by broadcasting my hormones at the right spots if I haven't had them worn out."

She sat down hard in her desk chair. "I've heard of your kind."  He grinned. "Any special precautions?"

"He's not to be kidnaped," Ryan said dryly.  "When we were kidnaped across planes with my boss, another lower level GHS, we needed an armed guard from Ares plus me.  That's why I was learning, so Xander didn't have to give him headaches and so they'd be protected from those who wanted the two cuddly ones.  Then again, even we failed a few times."  Xander shrugged at that.  "I know, it was mostly benign."

"Yeah, no one tried to castrate me."  Jace shuddered. "Sorry."

"No, it's all right.  I know it happens, Xander."  She smiled and relaxed.  It was clear to her those two were cute and together.

Ryan saw her look and shook his head.  "I'm with Eric Delko.  I'm his backup protector.  He's with Danny and Don Flack."

She burst out giggling.  "I know Danny.  He's got all the earmarks of one of Strife's as well."  Xander nodded. "That's got to be cute."

"Danny goes all 'dad' on me most of the time," Xander admitted sheepishly, blushing a bit.  "Every now and then I get him to break bad and let loose but most of the time he's protecting me."

"We'll make sure he remembers what fun is," she promised with a wink.  Cupid appeared and she smiled, accepting her kiss.  Ryan got one on the forehead and Xander moaned and made him moan.  They were very adorable together.  Cupid shot her a wink and grinned at Xander.  "Will he be taken?"

"Once but after he leaves here."  He stroked over Xander's hair.  "Some broke again?"

"Yeah, that red root thing that looked like rhubarb made some of it break," he admitted. "I'm going for another conditioning treatment this week."

"Good.  I like your hair."

"I do too.  The only part I don't like is the hair yanking mother fuckers who use it to try to make me blow them," Xander offered.

"I've had those," he admitted, smiling at him.  "It won't happen, Xander.  They'll think you're a princess."

"I'm not a princess."

"Not usually," Ryan said like a faithful and true friend.  Xander gave him a heated look.  "Every now and then you do turn into one and pout at everything."

"Yeah but it helped me get away from the people who wanted me to bless their fields."

"You did good, they had bumper crops, bumper fertility yields from the animals, and more births than they thought possible.  For five years running," Cupid assured him dryly.  "Fortunately the next one of us that got taken was a level three so it was more mild.  She had some empathy and didn't make the women as fertile.  She concentrated on the animals and the ground."  He stroked over Xander's hair again, getting it tipped for better stroking.  "Good boy."  He grinned at Ryan.  "You've got your work cut out for you."

"He's pretty calm," he offered.  "He'll start to broadcast tomorrow most likely."  Cupid nodded.  "Then I'll wear him out again tonight to hold it off for another day or so."  He gave Xander a squeeze.  "Besides, he's easy to spoil."

Jace smiled.  "You two are so cute together."  She stood up.  "I'll let you two freshen up.  Have dinner with me?"

"Sure," Xander agreed, smiling at her.  "Suit or is this okay?"

"Something a bit more upscale, Xander."  He nodded and slid off Ryan's lap, giving Cupid a full-body cuddle before heading off to find their rooms.  The desk clerk gave him his room key with a smile.  Jace smiled at Ryan.  "I'll make sure you're driven when you want to go gamble."

"Thanks.  Xander said he wants to try baccarat."  He shrugged.  "He's watched the Bond films back to back to see how he played it and won."  He grinned.  "Whenever you want to spar for the big guy's pleasure and amusement, let me know."  He looked at Cupid.  "Please help me keep him calm?"

"Shopping, Ryan.  Shopping."  Ryan nodded and went to get his room key and head up as well.  He looked at her.  "Xander's got tremendous hormone surges.  He's the first natural level ten we've had in a while.  Most of them for the past few centuries are borderline level nines with a bit of spiking now and then.  He's a true level ten.  He's also one of Strife's by his father naming him that way."

"Sure.  I'll watch out for my fellow anchor, Cupid.  You know I will."  She came over to cuddle him.  "He is adorable."

"Yeah, especially after he realizes he's in trouble," he offered with a grin.  "Then he's got this puppy look."  He kissed her. "I shouldn't.  You'll never make it to dinner."

"I know he affected you like he did me," she teased, stroking a fingernail over his chest.  He growled and pounced, taking her back to her room to play with their anchor.  He loved playing with Jace.


Ryan watched as Xander cashed out some of the hard assets he had brought with him, shaking his head.  No one needed that many things. Especially not shiny things and jewel things.  Not even Xander.  Xander came out and grinned, making the driver take them to a bank, where he ran inside.  Then he whispered another address and Xander went in there, coming out with a small folder, the type that folded in or expanded.   Ryan looked at it then at Xander.  "What's that place?"

"Um, the other bank Don hates."  He handed it over, then he pulled out his wallet to count the funds in there.  Ryan looked and moaned.  "I'm going to play baccarat while you play some slots nearby.  Then can we go shopping?  I still haven't found a good leather jacket."

"Sure."  He put the folder between them.  "We can send that back to the room?"  Xander nodded and squealed so the driver pulled in where he pointed and Ryan followed Xander over to the hotdog stand to get him lunch.  Then some new clothes since the old ones were stained thanks to some ketchup spilling.  He watched as Xander picked up some upper crust silk dress pants and a new silk shirt, noticing how much better he looked in them.  "Xander, broadcasting?"

"I always look better in natural fabrics," he admitted with a shy grin.  Ryan rolled his eyes but let it ride.  The folder went into the bag with the old clothes and they were let off at a good casino while the driver took the bag back once he was tipped. Xander patted himself down.  "We left the wallet."  Ryan moaned.  He walked back outside and concentrated.  His wallet landed in his hand.  Along with his phone since it was ringing. "Hello?"  He smiled.  "No, I'm going to learn how to play baccarat, Danny.  I'm being a good boy.  I promise.  Even Jace said so.  Ryan's right behind me."  He handed over the phone.  "Worrywart Danny is back."

"The last time you were out of his sight this long, you had been taken," he reminded him mildly, listening to Danny choke with laughter.  "He was.  Oh, and Jace said you needed to remember that you're one of Strife's too." He grinned.  "I promise, I'll play slots with him.  He's being a good boy, Danny, I promise.  Thanks."  He hung up and took the wallet from him, walking him inside.  "Let's start at the normal tables.  Watch a few hands, bet very small."  He took out three bills and blinked at them, but had them cashed out.  "He needs smaller denominations, he's a first time gambler."

"Of course, sir.  The rest?"

Ryan handed over two hundred of the chips. "Slot coins?"  She smiled and did that, turning them back into quarter rolls.  He found the baccarat tables and Xander frowned at the machines, finally pointing at one.  "That one doesn't have a good view."

"I'll be fine and I can scream.  Play that one."  Ryan sighed but did that while Xander went to the tables.  He sat down and watched the first two hands, then put down a small chip.  The dealer smiled and dealt him in.  "I have no idea."  He read the rules on the table.  He checked his cards.  "Hit me please?"  She did that with a smile.  He pouted and turned his over.  "Is that bad?"  She nodded. "Thought so."  He played the next hand, getting into it, much to the amusement of the players next to him.  He had one really good hand and put down a hundred dollar chip.  It disappeared into the dealer's side too and he got smarter, betting on the house.  He had the same funny feeling about this hand he was being dealt as he had about the machine and bet on himself, wining this one.  He grinned and started to inch up his bets.  He paused when he broke even, sipping the soda that had been given to him when he was asked by a cute, scantily clad waitress.  He considered it.  He was getting that feeling again.  "How high can I bet?"

"Table max is five hundred, sir."  He put down five on himself and two on the house.  She dealt and he won, making him squeal.  He accepted his chips and stuffed his pockets, then took his soda with him after tipping her.  He walked over to where Ryan was playing, sliding into the seat next to him.  "I won.  A lot."

"Congrats.  How good?"

"I doubled what I came in with."  Ryan choked.  "Play fifteen more."  Ryan sighed and did another pull.  Number fourteen hit.  For the nicer jackpot.  This one built up each pull.  He looked up then at the coins rushing out.  Two of the waitresses came over and helped him gather things up.  He shrugged and Xander took the card from the machine.  He slid it into Ryan's pocket with a grin. "I've got an okay gut instinct.  Can we try some of the other ones?"

"As long as you don't lose any more than we had changed out, no tapping into the real money."  Xander beamed and went to find another game while Ryan cashed out quickly and followed.  Xander would get into trouble, he knew that.  He found him trying craps.  "It's the wrist action, Xander," he said quietly.  Xander hit the next throw and smiled, walking off after getting his chips.  "Didn't like that one?"

"It's fun but it's not exciting.  It's too much to chance."  He went to look at roulette and bypassed it, going to look at the blackjack tables.  He lost pretty well there and went back to baccarat, with a different dealer, settling in to play some more while Ryan watched him.  He started to win and smiled at Ryan.  "See?  I've got a good gut instinct."

"You do.  Danny will be impressed."  He gave him a shoulder squeeze.  "Hurry up so we can eat."  Xander nodded, playing two more larger hands.  One he lost but the other one he wiped the table with the others.  "Come on.  We'll eat here then go try some traditional poker," Ryan offered.  "I was okay at the academy."  Xander went to change out his pockets full of chips, leaving a few for later on, and tucked the cash into his tighter pocket.  They went to get dinner at one of the enclosed restaurants, then found a sedate looking poker game.  Ryan watched then led him off to another one.  He sat Xander down.  "We're both playing but I'm teaching him."

"You're not the first," the dealer promised, letting Xander hand over two hundreds.  "What denomination?"

"Twenties," Ryan told her.

"Two hundred dollars on the table.  Exchanged," she announced, putting it down and clapping her hands, then handing over the chips and clapping again.  They both put in a bet and Ryan slowly taught Xander how to play poker, making him a happy boy when he won a hand his first time.  Then a third hand came.  Xander started to inch up his bets but he started to lose again too.  Ryan gave him a look so he went smaller again until one very good hand.  Then he bet on the house and himself, and won on himself.  He beamed prettily at Ryan, making the dealer smile.

Ryan shook his head.  "You're going to brag for weeks, aren't you?"

"Yup. I deserve it.  The same as I deserve a sundae?"

"You do deserve a sundae," he agreed with a smile.  "One more hand?"  Xander considered it and nodded, betting on the house instead of himself.  He had to fold so he helped Ryan, whispering in his ear.  Ryan nodded and put down three cards, getting a new set.  He grinned and upped his bet, splitting it.  The dealer did that for him and one hand one, one didn't.  Ryan gathered his winnings and they both tipped the dealer, heading out to get the poor guy a sundae.  One of the security guards was watching them.  Ryan inched out his badge.  "I'm his bodyguard."

"You're my buddy, it's much different," Xander said with a pout.  He looked at the guard.  "What?  He was teaching me."

"He did it very well, sir."

"Thank you.  I'm feeling lucky tonight since I did so good at baccarat."  He looked at the video poker machines, then walked over to one that had just been abandoned.  He took some of Ryan's remaining quarters and played a few hands, losing horribly.  Then the last one hit and he giggled, gathering the shower of silver and the slip out of the machine.  He walked it up there to be changed out.  The guard came back.  "Let me guess, you want to check us out for electronics?"

"We would, sir.  Where are you two staying?"

"At Jace's," Ryan sighed.  "He's not.  Really, he's not cheating.  He's dating two cops, they'd paddle him black and blue if he did."

"I've got good instincts from hunting," Xander agreed.  He grinned.  "I've always been pretty lucky."  They nodded and walked him back to the office to check them over.  Then they let them go and they went back to the hotel.  "We should go shopping tomorrow for presents," Xander offered as they were driven back.

"We should," Ryan agreed. "It'll keep you out of trouble."

"It will."  He grinned and bounced some.  "I can't believe I was that lucky tonight. I thought the gut instinct thing only worked on when Danny was coming home."

"Apparently not.  Then again, you also learned the rules of the games.  You bet on the house most of the time in baccarat unless you had a gut instinct. You did the same with the poker game.  That thing with the slots was just odd."

Xander shrugged.  "It spoke to me, said it wanted to eat more money and then puke it back for my pleasure.  It's like it called out to me."

"Sure.  They were even the low..."  He looked at him.  "Next time, find me a higher jackpot machine, Xander."  Xander shrugged. "None yelled at you?"

"One but it was one of the hundred dollar ones.  We can go somewhere else if you want.  Or Jace has some."

"We'll go there, see what sort of gut instinct it is."

"Sure."  Xander beamed at the driver.  "First time gambling."  That got a nod as he pulled into the driveway of the resort.  They got out and tipped him, checking the seat to make sure nothing had fallen out.  Ryan walked Xander up to his room and let him through the connecting doors, then Xander went to bounce around his room and hide his new winnings in his bag.  Then he bounced downstairs to get a sundae.  He deserved it.  He ran into Jace, grinning at her. "I won a lot."

"I heard, precious.  Were you cheating?"

"No, gut instinct."

"Um, like your tattoos?"

Xander considered it then shook his head.  "I don't think so.  I had it back in New York about traffic lights too.  Plus problem ATMs.  I'm a good boy, I don't cheat," he said with a small pout.  "You can ask them."

Strife appeared, leaning on Jace's shoulders.  "We don't know how he does it either.  Drives Hermes nuts," he shared with a wicked smirk.  "He's got a feel for electronics that're going to give out.  He'd be hell finding bombs if Horatio could train him."  He kissed her on the cheek then took a deeper one from Xander.  "Behave.  It was a good idea to bet on the house in baccarat and poker."  He winked and disappeared.  Xander smiled and dug into his sundae again.

"Fine.  I'll let it be known you feel electronics.  Try to stay off the slots."

"Ryan wanted to know why."

"I'll tell him.  Stay off the slots, Xander."

"Yes, ma'am.  I'll go back to playing baccarat and poker again."  She smiled and walked off shaking her head.  He dug into his ice cream and fudge sauce, moaning in pleasure even if he did have brain freeze.  He called home.  "How are my ferrets?"  He grinned at Don's complaint that they had escaped again.  "Check under your bed, Don.  You've got stuff down there they like to crawl through."  He ate another bite.  "Ice cream.  No, we had dinner.  It's a reward for winning so well at poker, baccarat, and that funky electronics feeling thing making Ryan and I win at slots."  He ate another bite.  "It's not cheating.  I won't play any mechanical game," he sighed.  "Baccarat is a card game, Don.  Like they played on the Bond movies. That one. Took me a few hands and about a grand but I did learn and I won about six thousand my first round of playing."  Don choked.  "We only cashed out three, Don.  Ryan won on the slot machine I picked out for him.  Few thousand."  He ate another bite.  "He taught me how to play poker too."  He grinned at the comment.  "Sure.  Next precinct-wide tournament as long as you teach me the differences.  Of course.  He's napping.  Love you too and if they're not there, check the fridge.  Beauty likes to curl up with the veggies now and then."  He giggled and hung up when Don ran to check that area first.  He went back to eating his treat, smiling when Ryan came in.  "The ferret babies are loose."

"Wonderful.  So, no more mechanical games?"  Xander shook his head.  "That's fine.  We'll let you play card games if you want to."  He ruffled his hair since it was starting to come down.  "Let me have a bite?"  Xander let him have a bite then finished up.  "Let's get a shopping guide so we can figure out where we're going to get presents tomorrow."  Xander bopped after him, smiling and happy.  He'd have to wear him out tonight after all.  So he ducked into the small shop attached to the resort to get some lube and a few condoms.  He'd need them, he hadn't packed any.  He thought Xander would wear himself out losing at the tables.  Boy was he wrong.


Xander came off the plane in Miami, smiling at the buzz that met them.  Danny walked out and he kissed him. "I'm not a princess.  Tell Ryan to quit picking on me about being a princess, Danny?"

Danny looked at the small jeweled band over Xander's brow then his hair, which was braided with a strand of gems that matched the crown.  He looked over his outfit of silk, loose clothes.  "You look like one."  Xander swatted him and glared.  "We can fix that when we get home."  Xander beamed and kissed him, then hurried to hug Don since he felt him coming in.  He pounced him and made Don laugh.  Danny looked at Ryan.  "Who?"

Ryan shook his head.  "Some single guy from the Middle East who wanted him to be his princess.  His father drug him away from the room he had been keeping Xander in, yelling the whole way at his son for being so stupid.  He called me and I finally found him." He shrugged.  "He was fine.  He was trying to talk him into it.  The coronet and hair string was part of that."  He handed over the second bag.  "Presents."  He walked past him.  "I'm heading home."

"Did I get a t-shirt at least?" Don pouted.

"I got you a book and Xander got you a great present," he promised, patting him on the cheek.  "By the way, the guy who had him had his hair fixed.  It'll stay conditioned for a while."

"How long did he have him?" Danny demanded, watching as Ryan's sword was unlocked and then Xander's.  "Boys?" he asked impatiently.

"Six hours," Ryan said, glancing back at him.  "He escaped to go play baccarat.  He's evil at the tables.  He's got a great gut instinct of what hand's going to win."  The guard laughed.  "He did.  He cashed out stuff and only spent a tenth of it.  Hell, I could live off his winnings for the next ten years."  He walked off. "I'm heading home.  Have fun with him."

Xander looked at his boys. "Home?" he suggested.  "Dinner?  Ryan, dinner?"

"Sure.  Let me nap first.  You wore me out, Xander," he called back.

Xander giggled and looked at his men.  "Take me home?" he asked, looking hopeful.

"It's still home," Don promised, taking his arm to walk him out to the car.  "We gave up after the second bag and Horatio not being very helpful.  They didn't take you with him?"

"There was stuff that helped wear his hormones out," he pouted. "It made me surge."

Danny moaned.  "Please don't ever take it again."

"I won't if we can go to this year's convention. It's back there," he offered, teasing Danny's shirt.  "I can make reservations soon.  All of us."

"Spoil away," Danny promised, grinning at him.  "Speed could use it and so could Don."  Don beamed at him.  "But no gambling."

"I'll be much too busy to gamble at the convention, Danny."  They got into the car, his bags going into the back.  "I mostly went with gift certificates that Horatio and Speed could use during the convention since I know they'll want to go.  Calleigh I got a catalog and a gift certificate to a specialty weapons place. I got Eric something nice too.  You two are getting majorly spoiled plus me."

"And you're the real spoiling part," Don agreed, grinning at him.

"You two are mushy, wait until we get home to have sex," Danny ordered, backing out of the parking lot and heading home.  He could smell Xander. It was like he was in heat.  "Didn't you and Ryan have fun?"

"Yeah, but I wore him out a lot.  Every night actually."  Don grinned at that.  "Does Eric need viagra?  Ryan said he only gets off twice a night."

"Mere mortal men do that," Danny assured him.  "It's only you guys who are multi- orgasmic that way, Xander."  He pulled through their gates and parked, watching as Don pulled Xander inside to play with him. He carried in the bags, shaking his head at the tolerant and amused trio of Eric, Speed, and Horatio on their couches.  "Ryan went home to bed."

"I'm sure he did," Eric agreed.

Danny nudged him.  "He wanted to know if you needed viagra because Ryan was only used to two times a night."

"Most men are like that," he defended.

"Everyone but GHS," Horatio reminded him. "Xander can probably have four or five, maybe even six if the person with him is good."

Eric shuddered.  "I'd never get out of bed if I could do that."

Speed grinned.  "He walks around plugged most of the day.  Not much different."  Eric leaned back and covered his face.  "So, what will he be showing us during the convention?"

"He said he got you guys presents to use during it," Danny offered.  "Ryan called him evil at baccarat and poker."  Xander squealed.  "And Don just showed him the new toy he found him," he noted dryly, sitting down.  "Oh, Xander has some sort of electronic sensing thing going on.  He knows when slots are going to hit."

"I'm so going to have him point me toward some," Speed complained.  Horatio gave him a look.  "You could use the extra spoiling."

"I could but still."

"Shut up, Horatio."

Horatio gave him a look.  "We'll see."  Speed kissed him and he smiled.  "We'll still see."  Xander came out bouncing with Don, his hair redone with the new ties Don had gotten him, leather ones.  "Those are very pretty, Xander.  Much better than the crown."

"Blame the guy who had me, Horatio."  He grabbed his present bag and pulled out the envelopes he had.  He tossed Eric his.  "They said they have a branch here."  Eric smiled at the diving coupon.  He could get new tanks or a new wetsuit, anything he needed, plus go out in their private section of the Keys.  Xander handed Don his, making him smile.  Don opened it and squealed, hugging him.  "Everyone should have one really *nice* suit," he teased.

"I'll get one in mauve to replace my last one."

"Already done. It's in your closet, dear," Xander noted, handing Danny his.  "That can probably only be used out there but Jace said she wanted a visit soon.  You're being too grumpy and need the vacation."

"I'll go during the convention so you guys can have fun," he promised, looking at it.  It was very generous and for something he liked to do, collect books.  "Thanks, Xander."  He kissed him.  "Give Horatio and Speed theirs."

Xander looked at them and looked in the bag again.  "Hmm, should I give you the one you can use here in town or there or the one that you can only use there?"  He pulled out both sets and weighed them.  "Got an opinion?"

"Depends on what they are," Speed offered.  He snatched both sets and mixed them up, handing Horatio his.  "Thank you, Xander."  Xander beamed.  "Make the other one his birthday presents?"

"No, I've already got one of those.  It's next week right?"  Horatio nodded.  "Good."  He grinned and dug into his bag, pulling out Calleigh's, Frank's, Yelina's, and her son's.  He got up and headed to get the keys and go give those over.

"What did he give you guys?" Don asked, looking over there.  He stroked his trip to the Hershey spa.

"Ten thousand dollars in a gift certificate to a famous chocolatier," Speed offered, waving it.  "Plus a five thousand dollar one to Armani."  Horatio smiled at that.  "I'm guessing the other set was the same."  He checked and nodded.  "I don't need Armani."  He put the gift certificates back into the bag and looked.  "Hmm, ferret toys."  He pulled out the long strand of jewels like had been braided into Xander's hair.  "Hopefully a ferret toy."

"Probably not," Don admitted.  "I took one of those out of his hair."  He went to put it into the cage anyway, waking the little creatures.  He jiggled it, making it hit the cage.  George came up to sniff and nibble then batted at it and ran around it.  Beauty came up to try to climb it.  He grinned and closed the cage again, going to sit down with his special one once he took it from Danny's hands.  "They have a full chocolate soak there.  You can soak in hot cocoa."

Horatio moaned.  "Bring me back some of the bath products, Don?" Don beamed and nodded. "Thank you.  Tell me when you're going."

"It's open ended."  He winked and went to hide it in his things.  Then in a different spot so the ferrets couldn't find it and chew on it like they had his badge and ID recently.  He had no idea how they got into his dresser.


Xander parked at the station and walked inside, smiling at the guards.  "Hi, guys, I'm back.  How was the city while I was gone?"

"Quiet," one said, giving him a look. "Most of your regular people aren't here."

"I'm dropping off presents from Vegas for those who can't come to dinner tonight."  That got a nod and he went up to find Frank and Yelina.  He kissed her on the cheek and handed her hers and the one for her son.  "From Vegas and they do have a branch here."  He found Frank and grinned at him, getting one back.  "Want a present, Frank?"

"Should I bark like the dog?"

Xander giggled and hugged him. "Only if it flips your crank."  He handed it over. "Mail order but very nice and kinda diverse because I didn't know what you liked that way."

"How was it?" Frank asked.

"I'm evil at baccarat according to Ryan and two security guards who came to watch me play."  Yelina came over.  "Oh, and I'm not allowed to play anything mechanical. I have a gut feeling for slots that're going to go off."  She stared at him in horror.  "What?" he whined. "I do.  I got Ryan a small jackpot and everything."

"Xander, these are too much," she complained.

He snorted.  "Shut up, Yelina.  I won more than that in a hand of poker.  Speed just got a ten grand gift certificate for chocolate."  She went pale at that and he smiled sweetly.  "Don't complain or else I'll have to help Horatio spoil your son so he turns into me."

"He'd better not," she said firmly.  He kissed her on the cheek and bounced off.  "Xander!"  He waved a hand.  "That's not possible, right?"

"Ask the man," Frank said, smiling at the catalog from his place.  "This is really nice stuff and pretty diverse.  I can probably find something here.  If not, the wife definitely can."  She sighed and went to find Xander to make him take it back. "He won't," he called. "He's in full spoiling mode."

"It's still too much," she complained.  She heard Calleigh squeal and followed it but he was already gone.  "Where is he?" she demanded.

"Gone," she said happily, showing off her catalog.  "Antique and unique weapons.  The boy's so good!"  She looked at Yelinas and smiled. "That must be a less expensive place.  Mine is more than that."  She shrugged. "Either that or he thought you'd complain."

"It's still too much."

Calleigh looked at her. "Yelina, the boy will spoil you and everyone around him to wear out some of his energy. It's helping him stay in control.  Say thank you, write a nice note, have your son do that too if he got something, and then let him spend to his heart's content.  It's a thoughtful thing that made Xander a happy boy who grinned and bounced."  She sighed and walked off shaking her head.  Calleigh sat down with her lunch to go over the catalog, bending down corners.  She could only get a few things.  It was so much temptation.


Xander came back and cuddled next to Horatio.  "Your sister-in-law is a grouch."

"She protested?" Don asked.

"She said it's too much," he offered with a pout.

"We'll spank her tomorrow," Don promised, grinning at him.  "Maybe I'll take the week after the convention to go.  Or even a few days maybe."  He went over the lists of what he could do.  "Should I plan on bringing you back something, Xander?"

"Some candy?"

"If I can," he promised with a smile.  "Or I could save it for later and you could go with me."

"No, that's for your extra special anti-Xander time," he said firmly.  "That way you have a way to unwind and relax without us."

"Sure."  He blew a kiss. "Love you.  What did you get Aiden?"

"Oooh, I think she'll like it," he said with a grin. "She'll either get the other chocolate one or the one I got her from the college."  Danny smiled at that.  "Up to her.  The other's her holiday present."

"Sure," Danny agreed. "She will like that.  She's still complaining about how expensive textbooks are.  Too bad she's got a test tonight."

"I mailed her a note saying I had one for her," he promised, settling back into Horatio's side.  Horatio gave him a tolerant look. "If she comes over to complain, I'm wiggling behind you too."  Horatio and Speed both laughed at that.  "Ooh, I only got a bit of shopping done.  Mostly because I spilled stuff on my shirts. But I did get one thing on my own."  He summoned his suitcase over and popped it open, digging into the top zippered part.  He came out with it and showed Horatio. "It's a charm bracelet. See, it's got one for LA, one for New York.  Now one for Miami."  Horatio hugged him.  "Thanks."

"It's a good present for yourself," he assured him.  Xander beamed.  "Now, go put things up before they wrinkle.  You shouldn't fold suits."  Xander went to do that, still bouncing.  "What else was in his spoiling bag?"

Danny looked then held up the roll of money.  "Either he bumped off a major dealer or he was serious about being evil at baccarat and poker."

"I won a high stakes game and I'm in for one locally," Xander called.  He came to the door and leaned out.  "It's a small tournament."  He went back to putting up his clothes.  "Don't worry, I didn't take the wife that one guy offered," he offered when he came back.  Speed choked at that and he shrugged. "Sorry, but I didn't.  I told her so she beat the crap out of him for offering her in exchange for twelve grand, but I didn't take her when I won her."  He plopped down in Danny's lap.  "Did you get a chance to unwind and relax without my hormones floating around you?"

"I did but Don was lonely at night since I don't crawl all over him like you do."  He stroked his back under his hair.  "Were you good for Ryan?"

"I was very good, daddy."

Danny gave him a look.  "If I was, I'd spank you for the roll of cash."  Xander looked and put all three of them down then looked at him.  Don whimpered.  "What did you do?"

"I took some of the loose jewels I had in the bags and cashed them out.  I took the smaller leftover account at the demon bank and cashed it out, plus had them roll over the rest to the new financial guy, Steve, you introduced us to.  Then I let Ryan hold the wallet after he cashed out three grand of the original eleven and a half."  He handed over his wallet.  "The rest was won and not spent on spoiling stuff."  Aiden breezed in, looking flustered.  "Grabbing supper before class?" he teased.

"I wanted to see my present."

"Pick, chocolates or college?" he asked.

"Both?" she asked with an impish grin.

"The other's your holiday present."

"Hmm.  I've got this semester paid for so chocolates?"  Xander dug into the bag and found that one, handing it over.  She looked then squealed and hugged him and the rest.  "I love you!"  She kissed him and ran out, going back to school to brag.  Only Xander would've given her that much to spend on candy and chocolates.  Even if they were horribly overpriced she decided when she looked at their website.  She decided on a sampler pack and typed in her gift card number, getting back a balance and it made her smile.  She'd have chocolates for years!  She could even use it to buy Stella her holiday present so she didn't have to use her own cash. Maybe Mac's too.  She wiggled in her seat, then went to take her forensic pathology test.


Horatio looked up as his nephew walked into his office the next day. "Ray, what can I do for you?"  He gave him a hug.  It wasn't often his nephew visited him in his home office.

"Who is Xander?"

"You know that guy that Danny's dating?"  He nodded, he liked him. "That's Xander."

"Oh.  He gave me a major present.  He's not...funny, right?"

Horatio laughed and shook his head.  "He'd never consider you until you're an adult, Raymond."  He gave him another hug. "Xander is a lot like me, only a lot more happy and squealing."

"You know mom still hasn't figured out you and Uncle Speed are together yet, right?"

"I had realized that," he said, shrugging. "It happens.  She'll figure it out I'm sure."  Ray smiled. "What did he get you?"

"What did he get you?"

"Five thousand to use at Armani."

Ray gaped. "Then mine's nothing compared to that.  I got a grand to use at a comic shop he heard about.  Mom's still complaining."  He handed over a sealed envelope.  "My thank you note."

"You're a nice boy, Ray.  Stay that way, okay?"

"I will.  As long as Mom doesn't complain too much."  They shared a smile.  "Can I make a snack?"

"Sure, as long as you watch for the UPS driver.  I'm getting some chocolates delivered from Speed's treat.  He spent more to get the first part overnighted."

"What did he get?"

"Ten grand at a very expensive chocolate maker's store."  Ray moaned.  "I'll give you a few pieces," he promised.  Ray beamed and went to make a snack and call his mother to reassure her that Xander wasn't after him in any way.  Horatio kicked back and went back to reading his journals.  He hadn't had a chance to catch up recently.  Ray answered the door since he was closer and Horatio was still slower thanks to his back surgery, and the delivery driver wheeled in a large box.  Horatio signed his name on the pad and tipped him, then he smiled so the man left.  "Go ahead and open it. I can't bend."

"I know."  He took his uncle's pocket knife and carefully opened the box, moaning at the sight of all the chocolates.  "Oh, man.  Uncle Speed is seriously spoiling your poor butt," he teased.

"Yes, he is," he agreed happily, digging into the sampler basket.  He handed Ray one of the duplicate candy bars, making him a happy twelve-year-old boy.  Someone knocked then walked in.  "Office," he called.  Yelina walked in.  "Speed's spoiling present."

"Why is he using it on you?" she asked.

Ray looked at his uncle then got a nod.  "Um, mom, have you not noticed that those two have been living together now for six years?" he asked.  She gave him a shocked look.  "Yeah, they're, like, married and everything.  Uncle Speed's majorly spoiling Uncle Horatio with the treat.  Besides, this is a small thing compared to his gift certificate from Xander."

"It is," Horatio agreed, leaning back to enjoy his first piece of really good chocolate.  He moaned.  "Oh, this is excellent.  Chilled just right.  Ray, put the rest in the fridge before it melts?"  He nodded and drug the box that way to do that.  "Use the crisper so it doesn't freeze either."

"Sure, Uncle H."

Horatio looked at Yelina.  "We thought you knew and were being discreet, Yelina."

"Six years?"

"Six years in another four months," he agreed.  "Six and a half at that point from when we started seeing each other.  It'll be our fourth marriage anniversary on that same day."  She stared at him again.  "Don't fall, I can't move fast enough to catch you."  She found a seat and sat down.  "We thought you knew."

She shook her head. "No, I didn't know.  Did Raymond?"

"He wasn't happy but he knew," he admitted, eating another bite.  He let her have a piece of his candy bar with a smile.  "He makes me centered and content, Yelina.  He understands me."

She swallowed the chocolate and looked at her son when he came back to sit at his uncle's feet.  "How did you find out?"

"Well, the time you and dad sent me over here to fight when I was eight and had the day off school, I walked in on them since it was their day off.  Speed nearly freaked, mom.  Hopped up, grabbed a pillow, yelled at me to knock next time.  Then Uncle Horatio came down to talk to me once he had taken a shower and gotten dressed.  I shrugged and said I knew gay guys existed and as long as he was good to him and not a player, I was fine with it.  Boy, did I have the wrong definition of player."  Horatio gave him a look.  "I did."

"You probably did," he agreed dryly.  "It's fine, Ray.  We forgave you for interrupting."  He smiled at his nephew.  "Did Speed help you with your science fair experiment while I was in recovery?"

"Yeah, he said it gave him a way to wear out the fussing so he wouldn't make the nurses laugh."  He grinned.  "I got an A."

"I'll tell him."  He smiled at Yelina.  "It's as it was before, Yelina.  I'm still the same man."

"Not the one I expected."  She looked at her son.  "Are you gay?"

"I like breasts, mom.  They bounce nicely on the beach," he said dryly.  "Ask me again in four years when I've tasted one."  She swatted him with a glare.  "Seriously!  I'm only twelve and three-quarters.  It's not like I've had the chance to compare already."  She relaxed at that.  "If I do decide that boys are my thing, I'll come get the extreme sex talk from Uncle H and Uncle Speed.  I'm sure they'll even watch over my shoulder to make sure I only date nice boys."  She moaned.  "If not, they'll make sure I don't date like Delko can."

She looked at him.  "Should you, I'm having you fixed, son."

"Sure, mom, but I hear castration hurts."

"So I'm told," Horatio agreed.  She glared at him. "I got taken the last time Xander was and the GHS member in the hospital was there with us.  What got done to him was more than painful simply to consider."  She shuddered, she had taken the report of what had happened.  "Anyway," he sighed, finishing off his treat.  "I'm going to be fat soon and need that other gift certificate."  Ray giggled.  "He was less generous with you two because he knew you'd complain, Yelina.  The same as he came back and said he was going to hide behind me.  He had no need of the extra money and he knew you're family to me."

"He's not... after my son?"

"Geez, mom.  Just because Xander's gay in both meanings of the word, and the slang version too since he's so squealy at times, doesn't mean he wants my ass.  He's got boyfriends I'm sure."

"Two of them," Horatio agreed.  "He needs more but he'd never go for someone younger."

"He and Ryan Wolfe...." she started.

Horatio held up a hand.  "He and Ryan are very good friends, Yelina.  Ryan was with us the last time we got taken together, and it was because of me.  Ryan protected us very well without getting too pushy."  She gave him a confused look.  "That's when my back went."

"Oh.  Are you better?"

"Still a bit sore and slow.  Getting there soon.  If I don't gain too much weight from the chocolate."  He saw her look.  "Ray, would you please go pick me out another one?"  He nodded and left.  "What?"

"You're like him," she said firmly.  "I knew you were."

Horatio looked at her.  "I'm not going to confirm or deny that rumor, Yelina.  Doing so would only make it worse at work."  She glared at him.  "You would you let it slip."

"No I won't.  I'm your sister-in-law, Horatio Caine."

"Yes, and before you ask, Ray figured out what I was and got them pointed in my direction," he said firmly.  She swallowed and leaned back. "I'm fairly low on the charts, but that is why I'm enjoying the spoiling I'm getting."  Someone else knocked and walked in.  "Office," he called.  Calleigh walked in with a bag.  "Did Speed make you bring me his lunch?"

"No, I made you lunch."  She looked at the candy bar Ray brought in for him, then at Horatio.  "Speed's or yours?"

"His.  Mine was to Armani," he said with a small grin.  "I made Xander buy a few new suits and we looked there. I noted that some of this year's line were very nice.  I can now get a few of them.  Did you figure out what you wanted from the weapon's catalog?"

"Oh, I did," she said happily.  She bounced on the balls of her feet.  "That was so great.  It made me choose and I had to narrow it down from about twenty things to three, but I managed it and only had to pay fifty dollars for the shipping costs. Frank and his wife picked out his present too."  She smiled at Ray.  "What did you get?"

"One to a comic shop."  He grinned.  "With a note saying that's the only bookstore he had spent time in at my age."

"It probably was.  Xander's not the most bookish sort," she agreed happily.  She smiled at him.  "I also got a very cryptic call from Cordelia Chase.  She couldn't get Ryan's phone because he broke it diving out of the way of the guy trying to run him over.  They're coming?"

Horatio moaned and put down his lunch.  "Buffy and/or Willow.  I'll tell Xander.  You tell Danny and Don."

"I told Danny, he said to warn you in case they chopped her head off?"

"I wouldn't put it past them.  Those are the girls who told Xander not to come home," he said blandly.  She gave him a look and he nodded.  "Did he forget Alexx?"

"No, she got hers in the mail today," she admitted.  "It had to come specially.  He got her somewhere to get some new gear or scrubs or whatever she wanted and needed."

"Good.  That's good."  He smiled. "It'll be fine but watch out for Xander to come running in and hide behind Don or Frank again."

"Okay.  With that, I'm going to go back to my late lunch since Speed said I could have an extra half an hour to do this."  She winked. "That means I get an extra ten minutes since traffic was so light today."  She patted Ray on the head.  "Yelina, I'll have results on your latest case after lunch."  She walked out.

Horatio called Xander. "Sit down.  Yes, I'm serious.  Sit.  In Don's lap is fine."  He smiled.  "Cordelia called Calleigh since Ryan's phone is broken.  No, not a major problem.  More one coming here to visit.  All Calleigh said was that *they* were coming."  He nodded once.  "That's what I thought but you might want to check with her just in case, Xander.  I've already told her to warn Frank you might come running in and dive behind him this time.  Oh, I don't know.  I think Frank could tell either of them off very well, Xander.  Even her.  Yes, I'm sure.  Just relax about this and make emergency plans."  He smiled.  "I've already gotten my first one and they're very good.  Thank you, Xander, and I do have Ray and Yelina's thank you notes here.  I'll bring them over the next time I come over for dinner."  He smiled.  "If you want you can go with me when I look here.  Of course.  It's only fair since I helped you.  That way we can surprise our boys that night.  Of course.  Have a good nap.  I'm sorry you have a headache.  Nap with the ferrets and the puppy."  He smiled and hung up.  "We're to be on guard for them. He'll give Don their pictures since he's home for lunch."

"It's nice that they live so close so they can check on him," Yelina agreed.  She stood up.  "I'll write out that letter tonight."  She gave him a look to let him know this discussion wasn't over with.  He stared back and she walked off shaking her head. "Raymond?"

"I'm helping Uncle H this afternoon, mom.  Remember, he just had back surgery."  He rolled his eyes.  "If I ever date a woman like her, remind me why I might like boys instead?" he whispered.  Horatio burst out laughing and nodded, patting him on the head. "I took the small one marked coconut truffle since I know you're not fond of them."

"That's fine, Ray.  You can have all those if Speed didn't want them."  Ray smiled and they heard his mother drive off.  "Stand firm, young man."

"Oh, I will be.  She thinks I'm two!  There's been gay men in movies and on tv.  I do know what they are.  Really."  Horatio smiled. "Even if I do like breasts.  I figure the more gay men there are, the more straight women for me."

"That leads down to the Delko path, my nephew.  Do beware of it before you get a girlfriend who would stalk you and smash in your future girl's windows."  He nodded wisely at that.


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