Xander woke up to the feeling of being watched, turning over to find the dog watching a messenger demon. "He's harmless.  It's emotional stress," he offered.  The dog barked and climbed off the bed, heading for his water bowl.  "What?"  The letter was held out.  "From?"  It was pointed to.  "Do you guys not speak?"  It shook its head.  "Sorry.  I'll quit asking questions."  He opened it and read, then groaned.  "Thank you.  I'll handle this."  It nodded and left.  Xander sighed and got out of bed, going to pull on some pants and any random shirt, even if it was one of his hawaiian shirts.  He slid into his sneakers and grabbed his sword to go check on everyone.  The ferrets were back in the cage.  The dog was happily crunching breakfast.  "Give me twenty, Spot, and I'll come let you out."  He left the house, heading up to the station, walking.  His sword was under the loose shirt and his hair this time.  He walked up to the front desk and wrote a name on the note, handing it to the receptionist.  "Please?"  She smiled and nodded. "I'm going to go shower and change.  Have them call. I'll have my phone."  He walked off and found trouble in the parking lot.  He found Richard with bruises.  "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, young man."  He looked at him.  Then he glanced behind him.  "This is not sanctuary."

"With five of us in the building?  Damn near."  Richard cracked a smile.  "Can I help?"

"No.  Not this time.  If I die, I'll move on."  He headed inside.

Xander looked that way, seeing a glint.  He stopped and officer and looked that way, giving him a meaningful look.  "What is that?"

"That's...  I don't know.  That's usually just trees.  Maybe it's a car?"

"There's no road there," Xander pointed out.  "Could it maybe be a bad thing?"

"It's moving, sir.  Maybe you're paranoid."  Someone started shooting and they ducked.  He called for help and Xander found his pocket knife, throwing it at the shooter, hitting him in the leg.  He yelled and started to run off.  The officers responding ran off after him.

Xander looked at his target, then back at Richard.  He shook his head.  Richard nodded and he groaned when he felt the buzz.  He turned and found a man who had been insane a few months back.  One he hadn't answered the challenge of.  "So, are you sane again?"

"I am.  You're hereby challenged."

"Agreed.  Not here, but agreed. When, where?"

"The docks, tonight."

"The docks will have traffic tonight.  It's a cloudy night. They'll be watching for swimmers."  The man looked furious.  "I don't care to take it but I won't get us all busted for it.  I have some common sense.  Pick somewhere deserted."

"Warehouse 221, pier 13."

"Agreed.  If I can find it I'll be there.  When?"  The man gave him a look.  "I've been here all of five months, dear.  I haven't been to the docks more than once.  What time?"


"Can I go put my hair back first? I came up here to hand in evidence to someone."  He felt another one walk out.  "An hour?"

"Fine.  Don't show up and I'll hunt you down."

"I'm sure you will.  That's fine.  Like I said, I'll do my best to find it."  The man stomped off.  He turned and found Eric.  "Pier thirteen, building 221?"

"The green one we busted the rave in.  Um, off the shopping area to the right, then keep going. That's pier thirteen.  Do put your hair back."

"I plan on it."  He walked off a bit faster, doing his hair on the way.  He grabbed a hairband once he walked in and let the dog out, then went to change.  By the time he was done the dog could come back in.   He checked his ferrets, they were napping.  He locked the house once he had his katana and headed out.  He did manage to find it, just a few minutes late.  He walked inside.  "Thank you for giving me the time to change at least."  He looked around then shrugged.  "You sure you wanna do this?  Fair warning, I can be a berserker.  I have in the past.  I know some people consider us bad luck."

"You're trying to talk me out of it?"

"No, I'm giving fair warning.  I don't attack first.  I'm a defensive person."  The man sneered.  "We can stand here and trade insults.  You want me, come get me.  You challenged me."  The man rushed and Xander moved his blade to block then aside, taking a quick shot at his unprotected side, then again at his back as he completed his turn.   He scratched his ear with one fingernail while the man panted.  "And?"  He pushed back the shorter strands and growled.  "I need to grow the rest out and keep it from breaking."  The man laughed and lunged.  Xander defended by blocking casually and then hitting him twice in fast succession.  "This is boring.  Are you sure you wanna do this?  I don't really want your head, man.  I could care less about the game."

"There can be only one!"

"Sure, but why should I stress about you?  Especially since you were nuts the last time I saw you."  The man lunged and he blocked faster this time, attacking back. He drove him against a pillar roof support, pinning him.  "I don't know you, don't want to know you, and I sure as hell don't want your quickening.  You insane guys are damaging to the brain.  I have enough brain damage as it is from vampire hunting.  You can easily walk away, the same as I can."  The man cackled and pushed him off.  Xander shrugged and walked off.  He was tired of this.  The man ranted behind him, throwing a fit like a child.  He wiped his sword down and got into the car, heading to drive home so he could shower as well.  He saw the lights go on behind him and sighed, checking his sword before pulling over after the stoplight.  He turned off the engine and looked at the man coming over.  "Hi.  Was I speeding?"

"A bit.  You also changed lanes without signally."  He spotted the sword.  "Out of the car please, sir?"

"Sure, if you'd move an inch or so?"  The officer moved and he unbuckled then got out, leaning on the door.  "The registration's still in the glove compartment.  I'll let you get it if you feel more comfortable but I can tell you right now, there may be a gun in there."

"Are you licensed?"  Xander patted himself down and did it again, concentrating. His wallet thumped in the car.  He nodded. "Go ahead."  Xander reached in and grabbed it, the officer's hand on his gun.  Xander opened the glove box too and came out with his registration, his license, and his gun permit.  "What were you out doing today, sir?"

"Someone challenged me to a duel believe it or not.  He picked swords.  He was ranting and insane so I blocked a few hits, scratched him, then walked away when he started to lose it for real."  The officer gave him an odd look.  "Don't ask.  It's about where I'm from," he admitted. "I'm from near LA.  Sunnydale, ever heard of it?"

"Can't say as I have, sir."  He looked at everything.  "May I see the sword?"

"Sure.  Would you like to pull it yourself?"  The officer nodded.  "Go ahead."  He moved to lean against the hood, waving at the car as it went past.  The officer looked at him. "I know him.  I have an officer who protects me when he's not on duty."


"I'm a member of GHS."


"Remember that convention with all the cuddling and sex?  I'm one of them," he explained.  "People like to kidnap me."

"Oh, all right."  He checked the sword.  "You missed some blood, sir."

"I know.  I'm going to go home and properly clean it in a bit.  Like I said, I nicked him, nothing more.  I've had to use it in the past to defend myself. I like sharp, pointy things."

The officer gave him a look.  "Are you for real?"

"Unfortunately so," he said dryly, grinning at him.  "It's all about where I'm from.  My town had a high homicide rate.  I started carrying a knife then to protect myself.  The sword is just a bigger knife and I can use it for exercise as well as balance and movement work."

"Are you a trannie? I noticed the hair."

"No, someone who had me made me grow it out.  I decided I liked it so I kept it.  He had me for a good three months and I've grown it ever since.  All because I've got hyperactive pheromones."

"I see."  He checked everything again. "Stay there."  Xander shrugged and slid onto his hood while he went to call it in.  He got a full rundown on the young man up there.  He reported the sword with traces of blood.  The dispatcher told him to wait while she asked.  She said she'd call CSI.


Speed answered the office phone.  "Speedle?"  He listened.  "No, that's just Xander.  Most likely someone challenged him and he talked down to him, banged him a few times, maybe nicked him, then walked away."  He had already gotten a head's up from Eric.  "Yeah, he's a good guy.  No, I'm sure.  He's had to use it to actually hurt someone before.  It's fine.  Let him go with the ticket if he was screwing around."  He smiled.  "That's fine."  He hung up and texted Eric, telling him to go check the building for a body.  He had no idea what they did with the headless bodies.


Eric pulled up in front of the warehouse, feeling the quickening floating around.  He carefully moved closer, considering it.  He touched the door and it zapped him.  He backed away from there and looked, then called Xander.  "What did you do?"  He listened to how it had went, listening to the officer write him a ticket.  "He was alive when you left?  Because there's loose quickening here.  Get back here."  He hung up.  One of the stray bolts hit the frame again, making it glow for a moment.  Xander pulled up a minute later.  "You left him alive?"

"It was the crazy guy from the parking lot, Eric.  He made me take it, I showed up, I warned him I was a berserker.  He was lax in attacking me.  He was unfocused.  He was still muttering to himself.  I pinned him and gave him a chance to walk away after pointing out no one wanted the insane people's quickenings.  He was still alive then."

"Fine.  Now it's loose."

"Could he have beheaded himself or been done by a normal guy?"

"Maybe.  Probably himself.  It's really hard to do though."

"Depends on what you've got to make it from.  How hard is it to build a guillotine?"

"Point."  They looked at the building again when it lit up. "Go ahead."

"I don't want it.  He was fucking insane."  Eric swatted at him.  The officer from earlier pulled up and he coughed.  "Guy who gave me the ticket," he said quietly.  He waved at him.  "He got sent to check on the guy who challenged me but there's some current hitting the doorway."

"We can't waste it," Eric complained.

"So we won't.  You're older.  He was still insane."  Eric sighed and went to touch the door, soaking in the quickening, panting hard.

"Sir!"  The officer rushed over. "Detective?"

"I'm fine," Eric groaned.  "It's not fully electrical."  He opened the door. "It's also over with."  He let the officer walk in with him, looking around with his flashlight.  He saw the sword mounted.  He saw the body with the mostly detached head.  Just a piece of skin and tissue on it.  He saw the swing rope.  "That's a new one."

"Did he... commit suicide by swinging himself into the sword to cut his own throat?"

"It appears so," Eric admitted.

"What about the guy outside?"

"He walked away after nicking him a few times, like he said."  He took a picture and sent it to the guy he knew was his watcher, getting instructions back.  "Let me call support."  That got a nod.  "Go set up a perimeter and send him home?  Tell him to go shower; he's sweaty."  That got a nod and the officer went to do that while he called.  "Alexx, I didn't know you were part of the Watchers," he said quietly.  "No, I've got a new one for you.  Tarzan'd himself to death.  Yeah, challenged Xander.  The insane guy from right after they got here?  Him.  Challenged Xander this morning.  Xander walked away after taunting him about still being insane.  Yeah, I'm serious."  He sent her the pictures, making her laugh.  "Pier thirteen, building 221.  Please.  No, I sent him home.  There's no way this isn't a suicide.  Thanks."  He hung up and shook his head.  This was one for the Watcher's records.  It truly was.  Things like this could only happen to Xander.  It had to somehow be about Sunnydale.  All the other immortals but Xander and Oz were normal.  Oz had went werewolf for a while and Xander had these sort of things happening.  Stella and Alexx walked in.  "Ladies."

Stella looked, then took pictures, sending it back to Mac, who sent back a question mark.  "Do we know his name?"

"By when he was arrested Peter Tomovich," Eric offered.  She typed that in.  Then she giggled.  "Whoever knew him?"

She looked at him. "I probably shouldn't tell you but Mac's training me."  Eric just nodded at that.  "He's still got Sheldon to watch over.  Having Danny, Don, Sheldon, and Xander there was driving him nuts."  She looked up then at her phone when a new message came in.  She giggled and took another picture with Eric's camera, then plugged it into her phone to send it.   She laughed at the disgruntled comment he sent back.  "He'd like a full picture file if we can, Eric."

"Go for it," he agreed, waving a hand.  "We came up and found the loose quickening rushing around the building.  Xander refused to take it, citing his prior and apparently his present insanity.  It hit me when I touched the door.  I came in and found...this."  He let out a small laugh.  "Xander thought maybe a jury-rigged guillotine.  This is much stranger."

"It definitely is one for the books," Alexx agreed.  "Any true ID on him?"

"Yeah and Mac's called someone to come pick up the body to bury him."  She took more pictures to thoroughly document the scene.


Mac looked at the picture, then up at Sheldon when he came in.  "A word of advice.  If an insane immortal comes near you, don't take his head.  You end up doing things like this."  He showed him the picture.  "He took an insane one's head a few years back and he hasn't been right since."

"Did he... swing into the sword blade?" he asked.  Mac nodded.  "How?"

"Apparently he challenged Xander and Xander refused to take his head.  Totally appropriate reaction in this case.  So he took his own to end the insanity."

Sheldon walked off shaking his head, but he did call the guy who was training him. "Richie, Sheldon.  Not a problem this time; Mac just got one who committed suicide by swinging on a rope into his sword blade to take off his head."  Lindsey stopped to look at him and he waved her off, getting a shrug.  "Xander."  She shuddered at that name and kept going. "Mac said he refused to kill him when the guy tried.  Stella is.  Yeah, her.  Sure, or Eric, he's down there. The picture's notation said it was taking by E. Delko, CSI.  Yeah.  So maybe.  Mac was looking horrified.  He said he took an insane one a few years ago?"  He nodded.  "Okay, so we don't do that.  I don't know.  Apparently someone down there called him and he showed me. Thanks."  He hung up and went to see if any other deaths had ever been done that way. Homemade guillotine but not exactly that as he found out.


Danny walked into the house, giving Xander a confused look, getting a shrug.  "It was that insane guy.  I didn't think taking an insane one's head was a good idea."

"It's not.  He had taken an insane one's head a few years back and inherited it."  He took a kiss.  "Good instincts but it's time for lunch."  He went into the kitchen, finding a casserole in there.  He smiled and pulled it out to taste it, nodding.  "Bit cheesy but it's good.  Good job, Xander."  The dog barked.  "No, not you.  You don't cook.  Go play with the boy."  The dog went to play with Xander.  "Hungry?"

"No, not now."

"You eat?"

"No.  I'll eat while I'm shopping."

"Sure."  He came out and sat beside him, letting Xander cuddle while he ate.  Don came in a few minutes later.  "Good casserole in the fridge."

"Great."  He got some and put it in a container, then kissed Xander on the head.  "Speed's stuck in the lab and can't order out.  Too close to payday."  Xander smiled at that.  "Thanks, Xan."

"Welcome."  Don walked out and headed back.  Xander snuggled back into Danny's side, petting the dog. "Why did he want *me*?"

"He saw you were strong and young.  He knew he couldn't win against you."

"He was lunging like there was a cord yanking him, Danny.  He wasn't trying, he was hoping I'd swing and put him out of his misery.  But he didn't go for Eric, or Richard because he was there.  Not you guys either. This is the second time he's tried me."

"He knew you were young, Xander. You're clearly not over a few years old.  Most of the older guys find a way to bring their swords everywhere."

"I had mine on," he complained.  "It was under my shirt but I had it on."  Danny finished chewing.  "I know it's the law of the universes but I feel like I have a big sign now and then that says 'I honk for insanity, come for me' or something."

Danny laughed and moved his arm to hug him.  "It'll be fine, Xander."

"Will it?  Richard was bruised."


"I don't know and he was saying the police station wasn't sanctuary. He was odd."

"I'll talk with him if I see him."  He stroked over the hair. "You shower yet?"

"Yeah, new conditioner.  I'm going to finish rinsing it out in a few minutes."  Danny nodded and let it go at that.  Stella came in.  "He made a really good casserole."

"I watched him."  She winked at Xander.  "Go finish your hair and we'll go."  Xander went to wash out the conditioning treatment and put his hair back into a braid.  He grabbed everything he'd need, including the rest of the last roll of cash he had broken into for the car.  She gave him a look.  "Cash is best," she decided, walking him out.  "Can I drive?"

"My car."

"Fine, your car," she agreed with a smile.  She shooed all the animals back inside and closed the door again.  "Maybe on the way back?"

"Only Don's gotten to drive, Stella."  He slid in to drive.  "Go ahead and pick the music, I've got ten diverse discs in."  She flipped through them and decided on one she liked, smiling at the sound system.  "I had it put in after I bought it."  He backed out and headed to the shops he had decided to hit today.  "We should get groceries too."

"Sure.  Last of course.  Ever hit the dry cleaners?"

"Nope.  Don's pouting. He hates it when I spoil him."

"Point out he's your boyfriend, he can have boyfriend presents."  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Ooh, I like them.  They're too expensive for me but I like their stuff," she moaned at a passing couture shop.

"They don't do boy clothes and no matter how much my hair makes me look like a girl, I'm not," he said patiently, making her giggle.  "I tried to kill the last thing that tried to make me one."

"I remember."  She stroked his knee.  "Go left?"  He turned left and found where he was going, parking in the nice valet parking this street had.  They got out, Xander making sure he had his wallet, and headed into the stores.


Don walked in and headed to change, finding a large present on his bed.  "It's not my birthday," he called.

Xander walked into his room, closing the door once Spot had followed him inside.  His ferrets squeaked so he let them in too.   "Your dry cleaning is in the closet.  Your shirts are in the drawers.  You're a boyfriend now so get over it.  You're doing the job, you get the spoiling, and if you don't like it, I'll fucking well pout you into a suicide attempt.  Even if you would heal from it.  Because if you're not a boyfriend, you're a Master and then I'll have to jump off somewhere high."

"Xander," he groaned.

"Shut up and toe the line, Don.  I mean it."   Don shut his mouth.  "Open the present, wear the other ones.  They're your size and could probably use some tailoring but that's your thing.  I'm not going to measure your inseam for you."  He walked off, leaving him with the furry ones, going to pout.

Don sighed and sat down on the bed, looking at their animals.  "Am I unreasonable?"

"Yes," Stella called.  She came in.  "He's right, Don.  You're doing the crime, do the time."  She closed the door and went back to her room.  Danny came in and looked confused. "What?"

"The 'vette's in the garage.  Your dry cleaning is in your closet, your shirts are hanging up, like usual.  Go open your presents and if you complain I get to stomp off or pout you into a suicide attempt."

Danny looked at him and kissed him.  "I know you're not the maid or the sub," he promised calmly.  "It's all right."  Xander relaxed against him.  "Shh, he's still confused, Xander.  He'll straighten up soon, even if I do have to smack him a few times."  Xander looked at him. "I promise.  It'll be okay."  Xander nodded, giving him a squeeze.  "Now, what's for dinner?"



"Tuna.  I'll grill some."

"Good.  I like fish."  He let him go.  "Now, did you maybe think about cleaning your closet out?"

"Yeah.  I did.  Then I rejected it out of hand for the rest of this year.  I only bought two new suits."  He went back into the kitchen, pulling out the fish fillets out of the fridge.  "Get Don out here if he's eating.  Stella too."  He smiled and went to do that. Xander hummed along with the music he had on in the study, wiggling his hips while he worked on them.  He trimmed off some black parts like the butcher had told him to.  Then he tested the grill with some water.  He sprayed it with the non-stick spray and slid the first one on.  He felt hands grab his hips and leaned back, getting a kiss on the ear.  "Did you open it?"

"I'm an asshole sometimes.  I'm not used to being spoiled," Don whispered in his ear.  "What did you get me this time?"

"You have to open it and I'd do it before I finish this because it won't take that long."  He put the rest on once that one was doing okay.  He had gotten an extra one just in case.  "I marinated in some oil and fresh herbs first."

"Good."  He looked.  "Flip it.  It's supposed to be slightly pink in the center."  Xander flipped it to the other side.  "Pull it off when the pink recedes from the edge."  He went to check his present, finding a leather jacket in there. He ran a hand over it.  It was soft and worn. It looked new but it was obviously used and well cared for.  Inside he found a card.  He sat down to open it then frowned at the key.  He walked out holding it up and Stella nodded outside so he checked his dog, who went out with him and around to the garage.  He found Tumie's stuff in a concrete box built into the corner.  He found Xander's blood red corvette.  He found... a Harley.  He squealed like a girl getting a full frontal nude view of Speed in the showers - one had snuck in a few weeks back - and ran inside to dance Xander around and hug him "I'm sorry I'm an asshole. I'm an idiot, I love you."  He kissed him.  "I'll be a good boyfriend.  You didn't have to but I love you anyway."

Xander smiled and let Stella have the spatula.  "Teach me how to ride?"

"Sure."  He gave him another hard squeeze.  He even let him stand again. "I can take you for a ride after dinner."

Danny strolled in.  "Are you done being an asshole?"

"I am.  It took a swift kick or two."  He kissed Xander again, running his fingers into the hair where he could.  He took it down and looked at the waves.  "Perm?"  He sniffed.  "No chemicals."

"I put it up wet.  Braids do that," Xander said with a sheepish grin.  "Come eat?"

"Sure."  He took his plate and walked it out to the couch, watching the sun go down with his boy.  He decided he could handle being a boyfriend after all.  "No more suits.  Let me pick my own."

"Sure, Don.  Can I take you shopping?"

"We can do that."  He kissed him.  "I'll need the other ones tailored anyway."  He stole a second kiss.  "Eat."  He dug in, smiling at the nice taste of the tuna.  "This is pretty decent."

"Thank you."  Xander took his plate from Danny and dug in.  He nodded.  "It is good."  He ate another bite, humming happily that the wild rice dish he and Stella had made was a good accompaniment.

Danny smiled at him and ate his first bite, nodding at it.  Stella smiled and dug in too, eating heartily.  "I saw the extra piece."

"To make sure I didn't screw up."  He finished his plateful and put it down.  He found a glass in front of him and sipped it.  Don finished his and put down everything, going to grab his jacket.  He hauled Xander up and outside with him, going to find their helmets.  He didn't find one.  He looked at the boy.  "That way you could pick out your own."

"Sure.  We'll get you one too."  He got on and used the key to start it, listening to the motor.  "Oh, this is sweet.  Get on."  Xander got on behind him and snuggled into his back, making him smile.  He walked the bike out of the garage, checking the mirror for furry things.

"I've got them," Danny called, waving a hand.  "Come home sometime tonight."  Don waved and headed off.   It was a nice night for a ride.  Danny smiled at Stella.  "Your idea?"

"He saw one when we stopped to get groceries and got a dreamy look on his face.  Said Don and he went for a ride during the convention."  She finished her dinner.  "Split the last piece with me?"

"Sure."  They went to do that and share the rest of the food he had made and forgotten to pull out.  Including the pudding.


Don parked the bike in front of the bike shop and looked inside.  They were still open.  He glanced back at Xander, getting a happy grin.  "Wallet?"

"Inside pocket."  Don found the inside pocket and found the gas card and the gift certificate.  "I knew you'd want to come here, it's a nice place and open late."  He slid off and Don got off, putting the key in his pocket.  Xander smiled and took his hand.  "That's okay, right?"

"It's fine," he promised, giving his fingers a squeeze.  He walked them inside and weathered the knowing looks.  "He just bought it for me.  So we need helmets."

"Sure.  He need a jacket too?"

"I have one.  It's got leather softener on it because it was so stiff," Xander said quietly.  He shrugged.  "I look good in it too."  That got some laughs and Xander pointed.  "That one?"

Don walked over to let them look.  "What color's your jacket?"

"The same color as my car."

"Sure."  He handed over one that matched that one, letting Xander try it on.  It fit him so he looked for one for himself.  He looked back at his bike.  It had purple flames around the front of the gas tank.  He found one with purple sparkle finish and got that one, trying it on to make sure it'd fit.  He walked them around the store, finding a better keyring for his keys too.  He looked at the boots, then shrugged and sat down to try a new set on.  They were nice too.  He brought them up there and handed over the gift card.

The guy behind the counter smiled at him.  "I remember selling that to him earlier."  He rang everything up and ran the card, handing it and the receipt over.  Don looked and gaped.  "That way you can do any customizing you want too."

Don looked at his bike, then at him.  "Let me live with it for a few more days.  Was it used?"  The guy nodded. "It's beautiful."

"The old owner was always talking about recovering the seat, kid.  You'll have enough on there to do that and add more flames or whatever if you wanted."

Don smiled.  "We'll see.  Let me give it a few more weeks."  That got a nod and he took the bags, smiling at Xander when he saw him with his helmet.  "Come on."  The bag got put into the saddlebag once he had his helmet on.  He sat down to rearrange his keys first, letting Xander pet the seat and his back.  "I didn't need it."

"You wanted it though.  I saw how you looked at the one you borrowed during the convention and how you give Speed's bike envious looks."

"I do," he agreed, smiling at his boy.  "I'm feeling horribly spoiled and content."

"As you should be."  He gave him a hug.  "Come on.  Let's go get a ticket for speeding."

Don laughed and shook his head.  "No.  We're going to be good boys and I've got to get my license adjusted tomorrow."  He started the bike and settled in, letting Xander cling to his back again.  "You could sit up and watch."

"I like cuddling you."

"Sure."  He pulled the bike through a few empty parking spots to turn them around and take them for a ride.  "Should we tell Speed?"

"Drive it in tomorrow, Don."

"I can do that."  He sped up once he merged with traffic, glancing behind him.  Then he sped up more.  It was a powerful feeling.  He loved this.  He loved riding without a helmet more but this was good enough for now.  Until he could take the bike somewhere cops wouldn't be and let it loose to see what the engine could do.  He felt Xander shift.  "The other direction, Xander, before we overbalance and tip."  Xander shifted in the other direction.  "Good boy."  He turned onto a street and realized he was going past Eric's house.  He waved at Eric, getting a head shake when he realized who it was.  Then again, Eric's house was right near a street that followed the beach line.  They rode up it for a while, very comfortable.  He felt Xander shifting some and turned around, heading home before he went to sleep.  He locked the gate once they were through it and pulled into the garage to park, letting the vibrations end while they sat there.  He took off his helmet and put it on the handlebar, shifting so he could get Xander's too.  He got a grin and a kiss for it.  "Inside?"

"Not on your new steed?"

"No, not on the bike.  Then I'll definitely have to recover the leather."  He stole another kiss.  "Inside."  Xander slid off and walked off, letting him see his butt wiggling.  Don growled and went to pounce him. He was feeling totally manly tonight.  They made it to a couch and it was good enough from there.  He had definitely worked out his spoiling kinks.


Don walked into work the next morning, smiling at Frank.  "Mornin'."

"Morning.  You look happy.  Your boy have a good night?"

"It was a great night, Frank.  I've even gotten over my thing against spoiling." He looked down at his tie that Xander had made for him.  It was paisley with blue, green, and red figures on a dark blue background.  "He got it for me."

"I remember.  You wear ugly ties, and I'm sorry but your boy has better taste usually."  Don grinned.  "I do like the suit though."

"Thanks.  One of his."  He sat down and logged into his computer.

Ryan walked up to them.  "The patrol guys want to know whose bike that is since it doesn't have a sticker," he called.  "Claim it now or it gets towed in ten minutes."

"It's mine," Don called, then called down there.  "It's Flack.  The bike's mine.  No, just last night," he said happily.  "I'll do that later, after work.  Thanks man.  Watch it for me.  It's my new baby.  Yeah, it and the dog."  He laughed.  "Thanks."  He hung up and got back to work.

"He has totally spoiled you," Frank said with a smirk.  "How is it?"

"Great.  We went for a long ride last night.  He was so calm and happy he nearly fell asleep behind me."  He smiled.  "It was a great night.  He got me a gas card and enough of a gift certificate to a bike shop that I could get us both helmets and do some customizing if I wanted it."  Frank grinned at that.

Yelina walked in.  "I see we have another biker here now.  New officer in patrol?"

"His," Frank said, nodding at Don.  She rolled her eyes.  "It's sweet. His boy bought it for him."

"We went for a long ride during the convention to work some issues out and he had fond memories," Don offered with a grin. He heard someone say something about the purple flames being gay and threw a paper ball at them with a glare, making the officer duck and run for cover far away from him for the next week.  Don grinned at the other one, who only laughed.

"Your boy spoil you?"

"So much," he agreed.

"Did he pick out that tie too?"

"And the suit," he agreed with a grin.  "He had someone make the tie for me."  The officer just nodded and walked off smiling.  "The perks of being with a spoiler."

"He's very good at it," Yelina agreed.

Speed walked in and stared at Don.  "He bought you a bike after you borrowed that one during the convention?"  Don grinned and nodded. "Cute. Eric said he saw him clinging to you."

"We went for a long ride by the ocean last night.  He was so relaxed and happy he fell asleep behind me for a bit, Speed."

"Excellently done, Don," he praised with a smirk.  He winked.  "Gives me an idea," he muttered, then headed to work.

"Are you gonna let him wear those leathers from the other night for a ride?" Frank teased.

Don shrugged. "I don't know.  I haven't decided yet."  He winked and got back to work until his phone rang.  "Flack."  He listened and nodded. "I know.  Yeah, that's mine.  After work.  Because I didn't have time before.  No, Xander made waffles.  It took me an hour to eat all mine. No, they were great, he just gave me ten of them," he said dryly.  "Of course I will be.  He said he'd file it today.  No, I've still got the car.  This is in addition to the car.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Nosy," he told the phone.  Yelina laughed at that.  "He was."  He got back to work, looking up when he felt Eric coming.  He took the folder handed over.  "Thanks.  Hope we didn't bother you.  That's the shortcut to the road I like to ride on."

"It's fine.  He looked good clinging to your back."

"He was relaxed, Eric.  He fell asleep behind me."

"Well, now you know how to do that when he's got nightmares," he said dryly.  "Also, we've got to go see Richard later."

"Xander told me.  We can do that during lunch.  I'll even drive."

"Fat chance.  I don't like bikes," Eric said, going back toward the labs.

"Your loss," Don said with a shrug.  Frank and Yelina laughed. "More fun for me."


Eric pulled up in front of Richard's house, looking at Don.  "He's a very old immortal.  No one's sure how old.  Xander said he had been at the station the other day but none of the ones I know talked to him.  Xander also said he was bruised."

"Which isn't like us.  I barely bruise anymore."

"True.  So it must've been something major."  They got out of the hummer and walked up to the door, looking at the woman who answered the doorbell.  "Marianna, where's Richard?"

"I haven't seen him in days," she said, looking them both over.  "You two running now?" she sneered.

"Shut it, sister.  Some of us don't run from anything," Don told her.  "He showed up at our work the other day and no one knew why.  Would you?"

"No," she said, shrugging.  "He hasn't been home in days."  She slammed the door in their face.

"She's a rude bitch.  Richard seemed much too nice to ever have a thing like that," Don said dryly.

"She's Ancient Greek too," Eric admitted.  He knocked again and pulled out something he had taken a picture of, Ryan's back.  Her eyes went wide.  "Richard's new trainee.  So if you see him, have him call me," Eric said, handing over his card.  She took it and slammed the door again, walking off muttering.  They headed back to the hummer.   "I know he works at one of the nearby schools."

"What's he look like?"

"Dull brown hair, cut short.  He looks like your English teacher always looked like," Eric said with a small shrug.  "He's pretty powerful with the magic stuff too."

"Okay, so we go ask at the places Xander goes for that stuff."  Eric gave him a look.  "Let me drive."  He got in to drive and Eric got in to ride.  He knew the shops Xander used, he had went with him because Xander was talking about a few books that he still needed as references and he had wanted to see.  He pulled into the parking lot of the first one, finding the burned out shell.  "This is not a good sign to me."

"Me either."  Eric called dispatch.  "This is Delko.  Do we have any reports about the Candle Emporium?"  He listened and nodded.  "Any others?"  He smiled.  "Thanks."  He hung up.  "This one and another one.  The preliminary says it might be related."

"So hate crime or something majorly mojo related," he sighed.  "I know somewhere more hidden and powerful."  He drove that way, parking up the street.  Eric gave him an odd look so he grinned.  "That way no one can say anything."  They headed up the street to the small tea shop and Don nodded, getting a nod toward the back.  "Thanks."  He walked back there with a quick knock over the runes on the door.  He found Xander back there in his leathers and the immortal they were looking for.  "We were coming to check on you, Richard."  He came in and tipped up his face.  "What hit you?"

"Something demonic," Xander admitted.  He finished spreading the stuff in the bowl in his hand on Richard's face, letting the bruises fade.  "It blocked some of his healing gifts."  He looked at Don, then at the owner of the shop.  "We're going somewhere neutral.  I thank you for calling me."

"You would know about the demonic," he said bitterly.

"Is my order in?"  That got a nod and it was gotten for him.  Xander handed over the money and took the bag.  "Thanks.  Now, can I have some mandrake as well?  I noticed the other ones were torched."

"No proof of arson yet," Eric cautioned.

Richard looked at him.  "It was.  Not the same cause as my injuries.  I was trying to banish something."  He stood up.  "I can handle it, Xander."

Xander gave him a look.  "Yay.  Whine."  Richard smiled.  "This is part of my job, Richard.  Get over it."  He paid for the mandrake and the other small bag, nodding at the note written on it.  "Thank you."  He put them into a larger paper bag.  "Come on.  Don, I need the purple flowered bag with the blue inlay handle."  Don nodded.  "We're going to a hotel.  Call me."  Don and Eric both headed off.  He walked Richard off, letting him stop to get some tea to drink on the way.  Xander got Richard into the corvette and then got in to drive, looking at the furry thing that crawled into his lap.  "Hi, George.  Where's Beauty?"  He started the car and pulled out, heading for a hotel he liked to do magic at.  It was small, out of the main path, and felt pretty good there.  Don called that he couldn't find it.  "Look at the handles, Don.  Blue inlay.  Yeah, like that.  The Tunisia.  Bring it and go back to work?" he suggested.  "I'll make it home in time for dinner."  He hung up and looked at him.  "You're in trouble for not telling me, Richard."  He pulled into the parking lot and went in to get them a room, then came out to drag the injured immortal and his ferrets with them.  Someone knocked a few minutes later and he got the bag from Ryan, who gave him a look.  "Banishing a demon."

"Wonderful.  Need my help?"

"No, I'm okay."  He stole a kiss to his cheek and smiled. "Thank you."

"Welcome.  Call me when you're done so I won't worry."  They shared a look and Ryan took the ferrets with him, making Richard laugh.  "They'd want to play on his altar."  He walked off with them, heading home since it was now his day off.  His mother had shown up at the station and started to scream.  He had been told to walk her off and calm her down.  "Come on, guys, we'll go freak my mother out."

Xander locked the door and opened the bag, thinking about what he needed. It started to come out, making Richard moan.  He tossed him a book when he got the altar set up.  "Find it for me."

Richard flipped through the book, then at him.  "Where did you get this?"

Xander stopped his fussing to look at him.  "The last time I got taken, with Ryan and Horatio Caine, we were drug across this portal by some barbarian assholes who thought redheads were next to Gods."  Richard moaned.  Xander pulled off his shirt, showing off the tattoos over his hips since these pants were hip-huggers.  They were built along the same lines as his other ones but lower cut to show off some of the marks he wore.  Xander gave him a look.  "Ryan was taken in as a favored student of Ares," he said quietly.  "I was his adoring consort and we both protected the other one."

"I'm sorry, Xander.  I should have known you could help.  Even though this one wants you."

"They all want me, Richard.  Now, give me what I need to find him."  He finished setting up and knelt before it, starting a quiet prayer, then a chant.  The picture was found and he concentrated.  He smiled.  "Perfect.  He's in a cave outside of town.  No one above it."  He mixed what he'd need, including the bag he hadn't asked for.  He knew the owner of the shop was a seer.  He felt the cave give and the creature die.  He said another prayer and looked at him.  "It's done.  We can go make sure."  Richard sighed and nodded, going with him.  They locked the room and headed out together, then came back later to help Richard's healing get back to normal.  Because it was going to take undoing whatever the demon had done.


Xander limped in that night.  "I hate demons," he told Ryan when he got a look.  "Stupid ass son coming after Richard to test himself against a mage," he mimicked in a high pitched voice.  "Got him, his daddy came down to protest it hadn't been a fair fight.  I pointed out there hadn't been a challenge that Richard had known about, all he knew was that he was under attack.  Therefore the expedient thing was to collapse the cave on top of his son's head and kill him.  Which I did.  And then he tried me."  He flopped down and then took his shirt off, tossing it next to him.

Ryan watched as the blue lightening healed the scratch marks.  "How badly were you gored?"

"Don't ask," he said bitterly.  "I did get the hand that did it. This was the second pass.  The first one he tried to grab my back.  And gee, he's gone now too.  Richard ended up finding his soft spot and got it with a rock loaded with magic to sink in and kill him.  He's better now too."  He looked at him. "Ever have one of those days when 'I've had enough' was the motto?"  Ryan nodded.  "I had enough a few hours ago and I snapped.  I broadcast at him too," he said grimly.  "So he was really sorry before he died."  Ryan rolled his eyes. "It gave Richard the chance to get the rock in."  He looked over as a messenger and his adopted half-brother appeared.  "Blow me," he said slowly and clearly.

"I was going to congratulate you.  Usually we go after them with a team."  He shrugged.  "But if you want, I'd have to get permission from Father.  Speaking of, Father would like you to meet with people about an alignment marriage."

Ryan snorted.  "No."

"He's not...."  Xander took out his hair sticks and put them on the table in front of him.  "Um....  How?" he asked, looking confused.  Ryan took off his shirt to show off the tattoo.  "I see.  Is he officially yours?"

"We're seeing.  Anything else?"  The non messenger demon shook his head and disappeared.  He looked at the messenger demon, then wrote something out and sent it with him with a smile.  "After him."  That got a nod and he left.  Ryan looked at him.  "You could've called."

"It was a demon, I had it."

"You nearly died."

"It wasn't going for my head.  It thought I was a normal person and going for my heart."


"You were busy being yelled at by your mother."

"Yeah, the ferrets drove her off screaming about unclean beasts."  He put back on his shirt. "You okay?"  He checked his chest, nodding at the fully healed spots.  Xander sat forward to let him check the back.  "Good."  He looked over as Horatio walked in with a bag.  "Ooooh, if that's a cake it'll more than make up for someone in patrol telling my mother where I live."

"It is."  He looked at them.  "What did you do, Xander? I know that outfit."

"A demon came after one of the other peaceful immies in town. I went to help," he said, looking at him.  "I'm fine and they won't be doing it again."

"Good."  He put the cake down.  "I had the feeling one of you were in trouble."

"My mother was screaming enough that someone in patrol came to see if she was being attacked.  That's how I knew one of them had given her my address."

"I'll help you move," Xander promised. Ryan smiled at that.  "Will she break in and clean on you?"

"Nope. I borrowed the bag we emptied and stuffed everything not furniture into it.  Just in case."  Xander smiled.  "I could use help finding a spot."

"Aiden found mine.  I think she should get a real estate license for her off hours but she gave me an evil look."

"I'll call her."  He pulled out his phone to call her. "Aiden, it's Ryan.  My mother appeared at my workplace today and I had to drag her out of work.  Then someone told her where I live.  Please?  Xander said you had a lot of luck finding him nice spots.  The standard salary?  Thanks, Aiden."  He grinned.  "No, he wasn't a good boy today but close enough."  He smiled at the dog. "You were a great boy, Spot."  He put his head back down with that assurance.  "Yeah, we're here. Thanks."  He hung up.  "She'll go online and look for me."  He took his plate of cake with a smile.  "Thank you, Horatio."

"You're welcome.  My doctor wouldn't clear me to go back."  He sat down beside Xander with his own cake once Xander had taken his plate.  "He wanted me to give it another week."

"Did you show him the metal?"

"I did and he begged me not to sue them."  He ate a bite.  "I'm thinking about it."  He licked off his fork, looking toward the door when he heard the car pulling in.  "I didn't think I left the gate open."

"It's on the blink again," Xander admitted.  "That had better be the security company or else I'm going to throw a massive fit."  Ryan smiled at that.  The alarm box beeped.  "That's what it should do."  Someone knocked. "What!" he bellowed.

"Let me in, Xander!" Cordelia yelled.  He sighed but went to follow the order, closing the door once she was inside.  She looked at him, then gave him a horrified look.  "Okay, now you look like a gay stripper or something.  Please change?"  She took the cake.  He snatched it back with a frown and went back to his seat, curling up to eat. "You can bend in those?"

"He had to live in those for a week," Ryan said dryly.  "Hi, Cordy."

"Hi, Ryan."  She kissed him then looked at Xander's hip.  "Tattoos.  Cute."

"Thank you.  What's up?"

"Oh, Angel sent me away from the major demon coming to kill us all."

"Huh.  I got one of those earlier."  Horatio looked at him.  "I told you one was attacking one of the older immies."

"You did.  He's gone?"

"Him, his father....  It's handled, Horatio, and all I had to do was collapse a small cave out in the everglades."  He looked at his ex again.  "Why else are you here?  You could've talked Angel into sending you anywhere."

"You're right and he had information on who took Willow and them."  Xander nodded at Horatio.  "He deals in that stuff?"

"They escaped from a jail.  We had them under arrest for various felonies, including trying to blow Xander up with bombs," Ryan told her.

"Ah....  Then what did Giles do?"

"Remember me telling you about the ring and that stuff?" Xander said quietly.  She nodded.  "He sold me to the demons who took me that time.  The DPP had him."


"Demonic police," Ryan said with a smile. "They're very nice.  They've rescued us, and just him, a few times."

Horatio looked at Xander.  "I saw that notation.  I know neither of your keepers realize that.  Go change?" he asked with a smile.

"That's blackmail," Xander pointed out, licking his fork.

"Only if the file had come with pictures."  Xander groaned when Horatio handed over one.  "At least into lounging pants?"

"Fine."  He finished his cake on the way to do that, coming back for his shirt too.  "I'll be right back."

"Take down your hair, your braid's sloppy."

"That's because the stupid thing cut part of it with a claw," Xander complained.  He came back out in his thong, making Cordelia squeak and cover her eyes, turning bright red.  "You've seen it before, Cordy," he snorted.  He let Ryan see his braid.  "I need to get it trimmed now."

"We can do that.  It's only four inches."  He swatted him on the back.  "Clothes."  Aiden walked in and he waved.  "We've got to trim his hair.  Something cut into his braid."

"Sure.  Xander, I love you."  He grinned and went to take off the thong and put on clothes.  "Thank you, dear."  She handed Ryan a few sheets.  "One of those."

He smiled.  "Thank you, Aiden."  He finished his cake and looked them over. "He's gone, Cordy."

"I'm blind," she moaned, sitting down right there.  The dog licked her so she looked at him.  "Hi, dog."

"Spots.  He's Don's dog."

"Spots then.  I'm sure the other boy likes you too."  She petted him and then squealed when one of the ferrets climbed up her.  "What are you?"

"Ferrets."  Aiden sat down in Xander's warm spot, looking at Horatio.  "Did he tell you he tried to talk me into getting a real estate license?"

"Doing it on the side and for the family could give you a profitable career," he offered quietly.  "It would definitely pay for the college you still need."  She shrugged at that.  "Think about it, Aiden.  Especially if you worked for people like Eric and the GHS network?"

"Maybe," she said, wobbling mentally.  Ryan kissed her on the cheek and called one of the numbers. "I liked the green one better."

"So did I but mandatory call-in radius is half an hour," he reminded her.  He smiled at the message on the automated system.  He pushed a number and walked outside with the dog to let him mark his spot on the lawn while he arranged to move.  At least he had the money since the trip to Vegas.  Maybe he'd take Xander to the gaming boats in Mississippi soon.

Xander came out in a pair of loose linen pants and got comfortable in Ryan's chair, looking at Aiden.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  Just no more thongs.  Pull it down and let's look.  Get your brush."  He handed over his brush and sat at her feet, letting her look at his hair.  "So, Cordelia, what's going on?"

"Big major demon event in LA and Angel evacuated me."  She turned to look at him.  "What's with the tattoo thing? You didn't have those on the last trip."

"Statement of who's over my life," he assured her. "Fighting, love, and mischief."

She nodded at that.  "Understatement," she agreed dryly.  "You probably power a lot of mischief Gods, Xander.  You can't summon them, right?"

"Nope," he lied.  She smiled and relaxed at that.  "Our last trip they took Ryan and I, plus Horatio.  We ended up somewhere with a lot of Greek temples.  Ryan trained with some priests of Ares'.  He's got a nice tattoo from them too."

"Cool.  I'm sure it looks good on his back."  She came over to look at his hip.  "No panty line?"

"Panties are for girls," he said patiently.

"With the hair..."  Xander swatted at her.  Aiden laughed.  "Sorry, Xander," she said, giving him a hug. "Cordy, they go over both hip bones on the side then dip down to his pubic hair in the front then ride his waist in the back with a line down to the crack of his ass.  Before you ask, caught him nude sunbathing again."  Cordy shivered and gave her a pat for strength.  She looked at Xander's hair.  "This is really not going to make you happy but you're going to have to trim some of it back to your shoulderblades, Xander."  He whimpered.  "I know but it'll grow again."

"He's got some shorter pieces anyway," Horatio pointed out.

"I'm sure he wishes he could make it all the same length, down to his waist or something," Cordelia offered.  Xander squeaked as his hair grow.  "Um, sorry, Xander."

"No, that's a pretty harmless wish," he promised, giving her a gentle kiss. "Thanks."

"Welcome."  She smiled.  "Now what shall we do with it?"

"It's soft and conditioned too," Aiden assured him.  Ryan came in and took the brush and the two hair sticks, brushing, braiding then using the sticks to put up the unbound braid when he was done.  Then he walked out.  Aiden giggled.  "He's good at that."

"He got a lot of practice," Horatio assured her.  Cordelia looked at him.  "We were there for two years."

"Hell, I salute you for making Xander camp for that long."

"We found a former resident from here and helped him," Xander told her.  "He had even rigged up internal water systems."  She shuddered and backed off again.  "Okay."  Strife appeared and looked at his hair, then undid the braid and redid it, doing it backwards.  "He got it backwards again?"

"Yeah.  If you wear those you're supposed to look like the bound consort to a favored warrior, Xander."  He finished it up with a black band at the end of the braid. "There, bettah."  He grinned.  "Oh, he was thinking about some showboats in Mississippi?  Think a long weekend?"

"It's unfair of him to use his electronic sensing capabilities," Horatio said firmly.

Strife looked at him.  "Two of them run illegals into the country and use them horribly.  That a good enough reason?"  Horatio wobbled.  "Might even be a drug bust in it," he teased.  "It'll be good for the boy and then Ryan can unpack *his* wardrobe."  He looked at Xander.  "The blue outfit?"

"Cleaners. It had a spot."

"Sure."   He looked at Horatio.  "Please?"

"I could use it if he's any good," Cordelia said.  "I'll even help play guard."

Horatio looked at her.  "They'd probably take you with him."

"It'd get them out of town when the new ones come looking," Strife offered.  "You can go with Speed too.  Right before the convention?"

"I don't have any more leave time."

Strife snorted.  "Not an issue, pookie."  He grinned and faded.

"I didn't need the favor but thank you," he called.  He shrugged a bit and looked at Xander.  "Only on the bad people."

"Okay."  He snuggled into Aiden's leg, looking at Cordelia.  "So.... what sort of major demon?"

"Some big, scaly thing with a yen for souls, especially ones that've got connections to chaos like Sunnydale.  Since I was native, he decided it'd want to eat me."

"Been there, done that," Xander agreed dryly. She giggled and nodded.   Someone else came in.  "Early day, Don, or break?"

"Early day.  Horatio, the Chief just called a mandatory evacuation of the station?"


"I don't know.  He wouldn't tell anyone."  He sat down and sulked.  He looked at Xander's hair.  "What happened to the broken spots?"

"I made a small wish," Cordy offered.  She smiled at him. "The demon earlier broke more."

"Okay.  So, you're wearing Ryan's consort markings again," he said dryly.

"He put my hair up," Xander defended.  "I was wearing them earlier with the leather."

"Fine."  Xander moved over to climb into his lap and cuddle him, making Don moan.  "You're very comforting after a bad day."

"Did you have a really bad day or just a mildly bad day?"

"Pretty bad day.  I nearly tripped running after a guy."  Xander kissed him.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  I got the demon."


Xander took another kiss.  "The half brother demon was here.  He said the one who adopted me wants to set me up in an arranged marriage.  Ryan protested."

"That's good.  Any other bad news?"

"Ryan's mother found his house so he's moving."

"That's reasonable," he promised, smiling when his dog hopped up too, petting him.  "Hi, Spot.  It's good to come home to both you.  One of you is cuddly and laps and the other one is playful and good for my lap."  Xander pinched him but he grinned.  "You are."  He looked over as Horatio hung up his phone.  "Good news?"

"Bad news."  He sent an evil thought at Strife, getting him in person and a head shake.  "Are you certain?" he asked calmly.

"Wasn't me, pookie.  I didn't drop the poisonous snakes into the ventilation system so they'd attack you guys. Someone in the morgue got bit and they had to shut it down."

"How long are they thinking?" Don asked.

"A week," Horatio sighed.

"So, you guys can go be the instrument of justice this time, right?" Strife asked.

"Get Ryan to agree," he said blandly.  "Plus the others."  Strife beamed and went to do that, changing personas so only Danny would recognize him.  Horatio relaxed.  "I'm sure my team will be busy finding out who."

"Sounds like a cheesy movie plot to me," Aiden offered.

Cordy nodded.  "Me too.  But then again, so did graduation."  Xander nodded at that.  "How have things been since I was last down here?"

"A bit insane but mostly calm," Don offered, giving Xander a squeeze.  "He's got a new car."

"I saw the corvette.  Very pretty."  Xander smiled.  "Yours?"  He nodded. "Present?"

"I have taste," he defended.  "Horatio helped me look."

"He did decide on the classic corvette from his year of birth and picked out the scarlet one," Horatio agreed, yawning.  "Sorry, the pain medicine."

Aiden looked outside at the sound of a car and blinked.  "It's Mac.  Is Stella still down here?"

"She went home a few days ago," Don said quietly.

Xander got up and opened the door.  "My harem guardian," he teased.  Mac smiled.  "Vacation?"

"Crossover case.  What happened to the station and Speed said you might be hiding Horatio since he wasn't answering his phone?"

"He's inside and we got told poisonous snakes."  He let him inside.  "Horatio, it's for you."

"Another one?" Horatio asked.

"Unfortunately.  Are you all right? You're not in a suit."

"Back surgery," Aiden told him. "He blew a disk."

"I'm sorry.  I know those are painful for months."  He handed over the casefile and sat on his other side, shifting to face him.  "I hope it won't complicate this case."

"How's Sheldon?" Don asked.

"Good.  Lindsey as well."

Don called Danny.  "Mac's here."  He smiled at the laugh.  "Horatio said we could as long as he was a bad guy.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Danny will be right back and he said your phone's not working right either, Horatio."

He looked at it.  "It's been dying recently. I need a new battery."  He put it back into his pocket.  "Speed knows the few places I'd be."  He handed the file back.  "We can help you find him.  We have remote access through the hummers if we left things turned on."  Mac smiled.  "You can work with Calleigh, last I knew she was free."

"Thank you, Horatio."  Don called her and tossed over his phone.  "Detective Duquesne, Mac Taylor.  I am.  A crossover case.  A child murderer who ran down here after shooting his last family.  His wife lived long enough to tell us who it was.  I'm at Xander's actually.  He said you could do that.  Thank you.  Whenever you've got a few.  I'm sure things are insane at the moment."  He smiled. "That's fine. Thank you, Calleigh."  He hung up and tossed the phone back.  "Thank you, Don.  New York's not the same without you."

"Maybe some year," he said with a small smile.  Mac nodded at that.  "Who's working with Sheldon?"


"Good choice," Xander agreed, snuggling back into Don's chest.  "He knew his stuff.  His trainer was good before he went off the deep end and went after Oz."

"He was," Mac agreed, smiling at him.  "So, Stella told me about another one?"

Horatio moaned.  "Long, involved, mostly funny story, Mac. After dinner."  That got a smile.  "Want our spare room?"

"I wouldn't mind or a hotel.  Internal Affairs gave Stella a look because she didn't file for hotel reimbursement until she told them she had stayed in a friend's house down here.  They're going over the budget to find corruption again."

"We do that every few years too," Horatio assured him.  "Someone came after me for the hummers and I had to laugh."  Mac smiled.  "That way you don't have to listen to the boys have loud sex."

Mac blushed and coughed.  "Then I'll gladly take you up on that.  I might have to look at Danny and Don funny."  Don shrugged.  "How was Jace's?"

"Good," Xander said happily. "I'm evil at baccarat."  Mac laughed at that.

"He's not kidding.  Because of him, he cashed out three grand and the boys came home with closer to eighty," Aiden agreed.

Don poked him.  "We've only seen about thirty in the rolls of cash."

"Really?"  He got up to go look in his suitcases, bringing out the others.  "Sorry, they were in the toiletries bag."  He climbed back into his lap to cuddle and pet the dog, and the ferrets when they joined them.  Danny walked in shaking his head.  "Did we find snake guy?"

"Yeah, drug dealing mother fucker," he said boldly, looking at Horatio.  "Can't find him and someone called a contact.  Eric got told that the guy did it to prove he could play with the big dogs.  We're supposed to expect more."  Horatio moaned.  "They're going to go above what he did to counter him."

"We'll up security once we can get back in," Horatio promised him.  Danny sat down on Aiden's other side, giving her a hug.

"It'll be fine," Aiden soothed.  "Strife wanted you guys to go out this weekend."

He looked at her.  "I heard.  The evil one over there is going to punish someone for their illegal stuff by bankrupting their operations."  Xander gave him a coy look.  "Where did those come from?"

"His toiletries bag," Don said dryly.  He poked Xander.  "What happened at the high stakes game?"

Xander blushed.  "I won and walked away when I got bored a few hours later.  Basically I ended up taking second."  Everyone stared at him.  "I'm not admitting anything further.  I like my lucky streak and I like Hermes, I pray to him every time I go play cards."

"That's it, we're playing," Danny ordered.  "Go find some cards."

"None in the house," Don assured him.  He stroked Xander's back. "Hey, Horatio, could we go show up this guy ourselves?"

Xander gave him a sheepish look.  "Are we sure he wasn't at the last game?"

Horatio looked at him.  "Who was there, Xander?" he asked patiently.  Xander blushed.  "Xander?" he asked more firmly.  Xander slid off Don's lap and went into the study.  Don and Horatio both got up and headed after him.  Aiden looked back at the loud complaint of 'you gambled with gangsters?' from Horatio.

"Nah, he doesn't serve chaos and mischief," Cordy said, shaking her head, making the others laugh.

Danny patted her on the head.  "Just think, you used ta date him."

"I learned better and I nearly destroyed the world with a wish," she defended.

Mac shook his head.  "Then you'd be Miss Chase?"  She nodded and smiled.  "At least you're friends again."

"Yeah, me and Mr. Gay Hair in there are still friends."  Mac kept himself from laughing at that, barely.  "Oh, please. That is some seriously gay hair. You can't tell me that whoever he blows doesn't get to wind their fingers in it and make him go deeper.  Or use it as a rein when they're riding his ass?  Please!  That's sucking gay boy hair.  Even the gay boys out in West Hollywood would beg for that hair.  He looked like he's Princess Gay in the leathers earlier.  You should've seen it."

Xander leaned out of the study.  "I don't please people who pull my hair.  Hair yankers are up there with ass pinchers.  They don't get none.  And yes, I am Prince of Gayness and I'm going to make you lezzie like Willow was, Cordy."  He disappeared back into the office.

She looked horrified, looking at Danny.  "He can't do that, right?  This funky hormone/pheromone thing of his can't make me gay too?"

"I don't know.  You wanna jump Aiden?"  Aiden pinched him, making him wince.  "Ow, wench!"  He swatted her.  "If you do, you can borrow a guest room too."

"Um, no thanks."  She got up and hurried out, running into Ryan. "Xander told me he was going to turn me into a non-stick driving woman," she pouted.

Ryan kissed her, making her moan.  "No he won't.  At the very worst you'd be bi, Cordy."  She pouted.  He grinned.  "You can prove your heterosexuality later."  She walked him off, dragging him to the garage.  "I didn't mean now!"

"Tough!  Now! I need to make sure."

Calleigh got out and parked, looking confused.  She walked into the house.  "Wasn't that Cordelia?"

"She's proving she's still straight after Xander threatened to turn her into a lesbian for cracking on his hair again and calling him the Princess of Gays," Aiden assured him.  "She hauled Ryan off to make sure she was still straight."

"Uh-huh.  Let's hope Eric doesn't hear."  Aiden blushed.  "Not that I think it would be a problem."

"Probably not.  They've got a pretty open thing going from the way they explained it to me," Aiden assured her.  Cordelia's squeal reached them and she clapped.  "Do it again, baby!  Every woman deserves more than one!"

Xander leaned out again. "Eric can only go two a night so he's used to the inferior and easy two orgasms a night, Aiden.  It's not his fault if Cordy turns him into mush."  He disappeared again and they could all hear the spank that Horatio laid on him and his yelp.  "Sorry.  My bad mind again," he called a minute later.

Danny shook his head. "Gonna have to wear him out tonight somehow."

Aiden made him look at her.  "Say it with me, Danny.  Vibrators.  Ones that plug in because he'll wear the batteries out."  Danny nodded and took one of the rolls of cash to take that advice.  She shook her head.  "You'd think he would've thought of that earlier."

"Some people don't naturally go there," Mac said mildly.  "Though I do see that Xander has made you think thoughts that you shouldn't air in the general public again."

"Well, yeah," she admitted with a wicked grin.  "Many times."  He laughed and got up.  "They're making sure Xander didn't recently win a card game against the guy with the snakes."

"Horatio and Don are in there," Calleigh said.  "They can do that.  I'll help Mac."  He smiled and went with her.  "Sorry, a bit too smutty for me."

"Me too," he assured her.  "Stella came home blushing too."

"She probably heard more than she wanted to.  It's not much but I've got a couch if you don't want to listen to Xander squeal later."

He smiled.  "Horatio offered me his spare room already.  Thank you anyway."

"Sure, not a problem.  If they get too loud, just let me know."


"She didn't tell you Horatio and Speed are together?"

"No, but if it makes him happy, I'm good with it."  He shrugged.  "You've got to take the happiness when and where you can, Calleigh."

"Oh, I know and I'm glad they've got each other.  He makes Speed be less grumpy and he even shaved today."  Mac laughed at that.  "He did!"  She smiled and took the file to run through the system, finding a locked file.  "Huh."  She called inside.  "Horatio, it looks like we may be looking at the same person.  Why?"  She smiled.  "Awww.  Sure."  She hung up.  "Xander managed to get a remote login for the computer system.  They're looking at Xander's poker buddies."  He smiled and they went inside to go over that once she had shut the computer in the hummer down.


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