Stupidity on the Mississippi

Xander let his boys walk him up the gangplank, nodding at the man at the top.  "Hi."

"Hello.  This is a reservation only cruise so may I have your name?"

"Xander," he said quietly, leaning over and pointing at one.  "That's me," he said, looking into his eyes.  "Will I be seeing you at the tables?"

"Probably not, sir.  Employees can't gamble on our own ship.  It'd encourage hard feelings if we lost."  He smiled and marked him off.  "I see you've made reservations for three cabins?"

"These are my helpers.  Behind us is the rest of our party."  The man looked and nodded.  "Where to next?"

"These are your room keys, gentlemen," he offered, handing one to each grouping of people.  What did he care if there was a gay trio, a gay couple, and a lesbian couple.  As long as they lost their money to the bosses too.  "You can go set your things in there and then there's dinner before the casino opens."  They smiled and walked past him.  The blonde woman of the female pairing gave him a wink and he smiled back.  Flirting wasn't banned but it was discouraged.  He had to remember that.  The next grouping there wasn't a problem.  They were older, rich, and whitebread folk.

Xander opened the door to their suite and let his boys inside, winking at Speed when he walked into the one across the hall, Calleigh and Aiden next to them.  "See you in a few."  He went in to change, finding a better outfit to wear.  He liked to wear this one when he gambled.  He came out with his hair in a low ponytail at the base of his neck and finally out of his shirt.  "How soon before we take off?"

"Another ten by the schedule on the desk," Don said, looking him over.  "That's fairly casual."  Xander grabbed a jacket to put on.  "Isn't that Ryan's?"

"Yup.  Oh, Ray said he would be at home when we got back.  He's the one ferret sitting after tomorrow."

"That's fine.  I'm sure he and Frank can talk about the job," Danny said, looking at him.  "C'mere."  Xander walked over.  "I want you to behave, be careful, and be safe," he said quietly.  "Some of these people are sharks."  Xander kissed him, earning a smile.  "Just behave."  They all stiffened when a quickening buzz, an unfamiliar one, went off on the floor above them.  "I'll go find that one.  You rest and save it for the games.  Pick me a good one."

"I will."  He skipped out and headed for the floor with Aiden, who was playing 'luck' tonight for his boys.  He looked her over and grinned.  "You've been needing an outlet, haven't you?" he teased.

"I have.  I haven't had the energy to party recently," she agreed, straightening out his collar.  "When will my two charming escorts be here?"

"Soon."  He kissed her cheek before escorting her into the dining center.  Most everyone was in there watching the races on the tv.  He focused on the horses, staring at them.  He had a feeling about one but it wasn't his usual feeling.  "Number three looks lame," he said quietly to her.  "Look how he's stepping."  A few people went to change their bets. He watched them load, then made a last minute bet of a few dollars on his choice.  It came in second.  He shrugged, focusing on the other events going on.  He came back to the horses when he got a really strong feeling, smiling and placing a good bet on something.  He won that one and said a silent prayer to Hermes and Luck in thanks.  Then someone came in an announced dinner.  He and Aiden walked out together with his winning slip.  They would be paid at the end of the cruise.  He stopped at the machine to register his first winning slip and got given a card.  He could register all his wins on there and use it to play the fee games.  He met his boys back at the dinning hall, smiling at the happy Danny.  "Was it someone we know?"

"It wasn't but he's not bein' cranky," he said happily, taking Aiden's arm.  "Our beautiful lucky one."  Don grinned and winked at her.  "Ryan's here."

"Cool."  He went to find the rest of them, squealing and hugging Ryan.  "Hi."

"Hi.  You're acting like you haven't seen me in forever," he teased, letting him go.  "Come on, you obviously need to eat since I know you're going to be at the baccarat tables all night."  Xander nodded and they went to their table.  Horatio and the others joined them a few minutes later, Calleigh was playing their luck.  Ryan smiled at them.  "Hi, guys.  I'm finally finished moving and my new manager knows not to let my mother in."  They all smiled at that.  The server came to get drink orders and then someone came with them and their dinners.

Xander looked around then pointed at someone.  "Everyone make sure she doesn't come near me, okay?"

Horatio looked then at him.  "Why?"

"He's allergic to latex," Don told him.

"Ah. Good to know."  He gave him a look.  "It'll be fine."  Xander shrugged and dug in, smiling at him.  "Behave, Xander."

"I deserve some naughty time.  I was a good boy all week," he protested.

"I know you were, behave anyway," he said firmly.

"Yes, sir."  He grinned impishly at Speed.  "What did the boss have to say?"

"He thought it was a charming idea that we were helping you be naughty.  Said Horatio could use the break from worrying about everything."  They weren't hiding their identities but they weren't outing themselves as cops either.  "Eat, Xander.  You've lost weight again."  Xander dug in and ate while he watched his competition.  He knew that most of them would be giving up shortly, mostly around noon tomorrow.  It was a weekend cruise down the gulf to New Orleans.  With all luck, he'd be the one who walked off the ship with a lot of money to spoil his playmates and to donate to various charities because they needed them.  He finished up when they announced the casino was open, then looked at Don, holding out a hand and wiggling his fingers.  Don sighed and put a few thousand dollars into his hand, giving him a look.  "I'll only be mildly evil at the table," he promised.  "Come get me when you guys are ready to play slots."

He walked out, heading to get it cashed out into chips then find the baccarat table.  There was only one and the woman in latex was in the exact center.  "Could I have you move down a seat?" he requested politely. "I'd like to play as well but I'm allergic to latex and it's not fun gambling while high on benadryl."  She snorted but did move.  "Thank you."  He took the other seat.  He looked at the table, then at the dealer. "Standard Monaco rules?"  She nodded.  He put down a chip on the house and took his first set of cards.  Not too bad.  He put some down on himself, getting a smile.  "One please."  It was slid over.  Excellent.  He raised his bet.  The other woman gave him an evil look.  "What?" he asked quietly.  The dealer flipped hers.  They had tied.  He flipped his and the dealer took the money.  He raised an eyebrow.  "That they did not do in Vegas."

"That's a blackjack rule," the other woman agreed.  "Ties are invalidated by Monaco rules."

The dealer called over her supervisor, who nodded.  The chips were returned and another hand was dealt.  This one Xander had the feeling about so he bet on himself.  He won and the other player gave him an odd look.  He shrugged.  The dealer coughed.  "You're very lucky tonight," she praised.

"Thank you.  Usually I'm known as evil," he offered with a small grin.  She laughed and the other woman snorted.  "We can play against each other if you'd prefer."

"That's tomorrow night's," the dealer reminded him.  "Tonight is against the house. Are you playing in the poker tournament tomorrow?"

"I am."  He took his cards and bet on the house this time.  No good feeling and crappy hand.  He felt someone come up behind him and looked.  "Hi, Ryan.  Give me one more turn then I'll come figure out which slot machine everyone's playing."  The dealer gave him an odd look.  "I am lucky," he offered with a grin.

"He won me a ten thousand dollar jackpot in Vegas.  He is," Ryan agreed.  He watched Xander lose a minor amount on the ongoing hand then win a large pot on the next one.  "Come on.  That way you can come back and be more evil later."  Xander tipped the dealer and walked his chips off.

"There's something about him," the woman said.

"We checked, he's not on the banned list," the dealer offered, dealing for her.  "I did see him come on with two men on his arms."

"Maybe that's it."  She looked around, spotting someone she knew.  "See the scruffy one with the redhead?  He's a cop.  I tried to date him once."

The dealer looked then shrugged.  "We're not doing anything illegal and they probably needed the break."  She would pass that back to the floor supervisor when she was relieved.  A slot machine hit and she smiled.  The boat would win that back soon enough. There wasn't anything to do but gamble it away on the ship.


Xander stepped up to the new immortal later that night, noticing he looked spooked.  "It's all good," he promised.  "Xander Harris," he said, shaking his hand.

"Peter Mathias."  He smiled at him.  "You know Danny?"

"He's mine."

"Yours?" he asked hesitantly.

"He's my bodyguard this weekend.  I'm slightly evil at baccarat and I get too involved.  He works with some friends of mine and we're buddies."

"Ah.  I noticed a few others.  Who's the light brunette male?"

"Ryan.  I started out teaching him."

"How old are you?"

He grinned.  "Twenty-three almost."

"You've trained others?"

"In the beginning things.  I'm also from near LA.  I had some experience back there."

"I see."  He nodded at that. "Interesting.  Are you looking for more teachers?"

"Actually, not at the moment.  We've got a teaching arrangement between our little group in Miami and I'm learning some from Richard down there."

"I've heard of him.  I wish you luck at the tables."

"You as well," he offered, grinning at him.  The man smiled and walked off.  Xander decided to soak up the night air before he went to bed, feeling someone come up behind him.  He ducked the grab attempt and glared at the person.  "Do not touch me," he said firmly.  "I'm not yours."

"You should be," he sneered back.  "You little fairy cops...."

"I'm not a cop," he interrupted.  "Thank you anyway.  Boytoy but not a cop.  The cops are here to guard my cute ass.  Anything else?"  He saw one of the crewmembers coming.   "This man just tried to grab me.  Can you please escort me back to my room?"

"Of course, sir.  Did he try to rob you?"

"No, I left everything with my bodyguards."  He walked off, shooting back a heated glare at him.  "Thank you," he said more calmly. "I didn't want to have to toss him off the ship and give the alligators in the river indigestion."

"We do discourage feeding the river's inhabitants," he agreed with a smile.  "Good luck tomorrow, sir," he said once they were at his suite.

"Thank you.  Happy tips to you as well."  He walked in and shut the door, looking at Danny.  "Someone just tried to grab me.  Called me a little fairy cop.  I told him that any cops with me were bodyguards."

"We are," Don agreed, giving him a kiss.  "Come to bed so you can be brilliant tomorrow."

Xander stripped down and walked that way, enticing them.  He did need some of the lust worn out so he could sleep.  Danny and Don played rock/paper/scissors to see who got him first.


Xander looked up after his last hand of crappy cards, saying a silent prayer.  Then he said one to Strife, who had sent him here.  He got back an answer and watched her deal.  Then he stared at her, not touching his cards.

"Is there a problem, sir?"

"He probably caught you skipping the top card too," another player offered.  Xander nodded.  He snapped his fingers and someone came over.  "She's skipping the top card to deal.  I knew I was getting crappy cards but really."

"We're very sorry about that, sir."  He walked her off and got another dealer, who took back those cards and replaced the set in the shoe.  Then she dealt a new hand.

Xander watched her do it then nodded and smiled at his new hand, saying thanks for that and for the new run of luck.  He got through a few very good hands before he was the last one at his table.  That meant he got a break and he went to play slots until the next round was called.  It was only a few feet away.  He watched the other one's progress and smiled, moving Speed to a different one.  Then he sat beside Ryan and watched him.  "You could've asked."

"I got my own feeling," he said with a smile.

"Cool."  He stole one of his coins and put it into the video poker machine, playing his hand.  The lights went off and he looked at Ryan.  "Welcome."  He grinned and walked off.

Ryan smirked at his back.  "I love it when he's evil."  Horatio looked over at him.  "I warned you he was like that."  He gathered up everything and got his own card to start playing with the slip from the slot machine.  He watched as Xander was led to his next table by one of the tournament helpers.  "Oh, man, is he going to be evil today."  He shivered but went to find a new machine. He went back to his last one and played a few more hands, watching as it went off.  "Cool."  This time the winnings went onto his card and it was all good.  Even better than Xander's.  He went to watch Xander since he was on the next-to- last level already.  They were down to two tables.  Ten players.  Xander had to get up and move away from latex woman again, making her huff and switch seats. "Xander, if you start to have problems, I've got benadryl," he offered.

"Thanks, Ryan."  The floor supervisor came over. "I'm allergic to latex."

"Oh, sorry about that, sir."

"That's fine.  We had to work this out at baccarat last night."  He smiled and put down his first bet, then put one in the house's spot.   The dealer nodded and dealt the first hand of this round.

Horatio and Speed joined Ryan when their machines paid off.  "Problems?" Speed asked.

"He keeps ending up next to latex woman," Ryan said quietly.

Xander looked back and grinned, then around.  He pointed.  "Two down from Don, Ryan.  Dears," he concentrated.  "Against the wall?"  They nodded and headed that way.  He smiled at the curious look.  "I've got a gut instinct about slots."  He shrugged.  Horatio had told him to own up to it if caught picking their machines.  He checked his cards again, then sighed.

"Did you need a card or three, sir?" the dealer asked politely.

"Yeah, four."  He handed over what he had.  It came back to two pair.  Not too bad.  The dealer got what she did and he flipped his over, winning that hand.  Two more hands to loosen them back up then they went back to playing against the other players instead of the house.


Xander skipped into dinner that night, smiling at his ladies since they were there.  "Hi."

"Hi, Xander," Aiden said, grinning at him. "Thank you for helping me earlier."

"You're welcome."  He leaned over to kiss her, then Calleigh on the cheek, making her smile.  "I know better than to try to kiss you in public," he teased.

"Or in private.  You're not my sort to kiss," she teased back. She smiled at the men coming in.  "How was your day?"

"Good," Speed admitted. "They checked us repeatedly for electronics thanks to Xander's gift."

Xander shrugged.  "It's a gift, what can I say?"  He sipped his water and spit it back out.  "Eww.  Whatever that is, it's not water."

Horatio took it to sniff.  "No, that's straight vodka."  He glared at a nearby waiter.  "Who gave him alcohol?"

"Sir, it was ordered for him."

"Everyone in my party knows I don't drink," Xander said firmly.  "Who ordered it?"  The waiter wilted and hurried off, getting his boss.  Xander shifted sideways to look at him, crossing his legs.  "Who ordered alcohol for me?"

"We're sorry, sir. It was said to be part of your party."

"They all know I don't drink," Xander said firmly.  "Ever.  Not even a beer with the game."  The man nodded and took the offending drink and the one Speed handed to him.  "Fix it.  I thought this was a higher class operation?"  The manager nodded and went to do that.  Xander huffed and turned around.  "I was having fun until that."

"Maybe it's the person who tried to grab you last night," Aiden offered.

"Maybe," he sighed, shaking his head.  He pulled his braid out from between him and the chair, putting it over the back of the seat.  "That did royally suck."

"I hear congratulations are in order," Don teased as he joined them.

Danny looked.  "What happened?"

"Straight vodka in the water glasses," Speed offered.

"Huh.  We rip someone a new one?"

"We did," Xander agreed, smiling at him.  "Thank you, Don.  I'm very proud I won the tournament."  He took a hug and a hug from Danny too.  Ryan came over with a drink.  "Did you look, snookums?" he teased.

"I so did, but I'm having fun so I'm not worried.  Spot me a hundred until payday, Xander?"

"Of course, dear."  He winked.  "You can pay it off by rubbing my back after our next practice."

"Better you than me. He was so tense my hands cramped," Danny offered, taking his usual seat.  Aiden laughed. "Seriously!"

"They did, I had ta do his hands," Don agreed, sitting on Xander's other side.  "What did you lose at, Ryan?"

"I tried baccarat."

Xander grinned.  "Want me to show you tonight?"

"Maybe."  He grinned and their dinner and new drinks were brought.  Xander sniffed his and Ryan took it to sip, then spluttered.  "Oh, Gods, grain."  He stood up and took it to the waiter.  "What is this?" he demanded.

"That's what he ordered, sir.  Water?"

"Try grain alcohol."  He let him have it and the manager came back and took the glass.  "Let's try not to kill him, all right?"  He walked back and sat down again.  "I'm not happy with this establishment."

"You and me both," Xander agreed. A sealed bottle of water was put in front of him.  "Thank you," he said graciously, opening it and sipping.  "Very nice.  Thank you."  The waiter walked off.  Xander dug into his dinner, eating slowly and carefully.  He eventually had to move the piece of latex off his plate and onto Ryan's empty bread plate, then he finished eating around the edges of the plate.  "Someone apparently doesn't like me."

"Apparently," Horatio agreed, looking at the piece of latex.  "Interesting."

"Very," Danny agreed coolly.  "We'll make sure it's okay, Xander.  We'll also make sure you get a great dinner tomorrow night in New Orleans."

"I know a great place," Calleigh agreed.  "It's for locals so there's never a wait."  They all smiled at that. The manager walked behind her.  Ryan handed over the bread plate.  "I think someone wants to hurt him. He's allergic to that and it's not exactly edible," she said.

"I'm investigating who is doing this," he promised.  "We're very sorry they're doing this to you, sir.  Would you like a comp?  Maybe a gift basket of fruit?"

"That would be acceptable," Xander agreed, smiling at him.  "Thank you."  The manager walked off with the plate and there was some yelling in the kitchen a few minutes later. Xander sipped his water.  "I feel really sorry to whoever got bribed."

"I don't.  By now everyone on the ship knows you've got problems with latex thanks to that one person."  Don sipped his own water. "Soon, Xander."

"I know."  A waiter came over with an engraved invitation.  "For?" he asked.

"The private high stakes game, sir."

Xander considered it, glancing at Horatio and Ryan, who shook their heads.  "Sorry.  Not this time.  Not with what's just happened."

"I was told to assure you it would be fine to bring a guard."

"I owe him a backrub for a loan," Ryan said. "He'll be busy tonight."  The man nodded and rushed off to tell them.  Xander looked at Don, who sighed and handed over the bill.  "Thanks, guys.  Play doubles with me tonight, Xander?"

"Sure."  He grinned and they went back to the casino together, Xander getting unopened bottles of water whenever his ran out.  Well, and one that had something in it since it made his head swim.  Fortunately it was really hard to drug immortals. After a few minutes of being dizzy he was fine.  And for doing that to him, Xander walked up to the one machine everyone had one try at, looking at it.  He felt the tingle start and stop, then start, then stop, then hit suddenly and he took his turn.  And it paid off.  He smiled and took his card out of the reader and walked off happily.  "I think I'm going to have to buy more presents from this trip," he told Ryan, beaming at him.

"I know you've still got a few from the last one and not even Speed's used all his from the chocolate place."  Xander beamed and shrugged.  "Sure.  If you want."  His machine hit a few minutes later and it was good for him.  Xander walked him out.  "Backrub?"

"Please, Ryan?" he said cutely, grinning at him.  "I could use one.  I was bent over for *so* long at the tournament."

"Sure."  He walked him up to their room, watching the others nibble on the fruit. "It good?" he asked.

"All but the apples," Speed offered.

"I hit the jackpot machine," Xander said proudly.  Horatio choked.  "Also, here."  He handed over the bottle he had been carrying.  "Someone drugged it."  Horatio moaned.  He pulled Ryan into the bedroom, letting him get his back.  He did have an ache from those seats.  They weren't exactly ergonomic or comfortable.


Xander saw the lights go on.  That meant it was limitless betting at the tables.  He walked over to the baccarat table, noticing the dealer was changed from the one he had complained about to a new one.  "Thank you."  He sat down and felt the table.  Then he put a single chip on the house.  Five hundred dollar chip but still a single one.  He was dealt and he did win since the house did.  He loved games where you could bet on the house.  He wasn't even trying to win, but he was doing pretty good at it.  He was relaxed, he was happy, he was slightly broadcasting.  He felt someone come up behind him and stroke his neck.  "Ryan, can I please have the benadryl?" he called.  Ryan came over with one pill for him, glaring at the woman as he walked her off.  He popped it with his new bottle of water.  "Thanks."

He went back to it.  He smiled at the dealer and that gut feeling hit very strongly, making him turn around.  He looked, then he held up a finger and took out a quarter, going to find the slot machine.  He found it and played it, then the one across the way, making them both go off and him giggle since he had his card in one and the other one had to pay out quarters.  So he got things to play with too.  He took the containers of coins back to the table and went back to his game.  No one had touched his chips.  A guard came over.  He looked at him.  "Let me finish this hand."  He checked his cards, then calculated the odds.  No gut feeling so he checked his cards again.  He left it the way it was.  They tied and he tipped the dealer.  It was about the only chip left in her tray.  The guard had a bag ready so he tossed everything into it and followed him.  "Like I said yesterday, guys, gut feelings."

"Sir, there's no way."

Xander looked around and pointed at one.  "Don't believe me. Hit the one with the blue carousel horse."  He went to do that and it hit.  Xander shrugged.  "That's why I don't play them when I go to Vegas."

"How did you know that, sir?"

"You know, I don't know. I know when lights are going to change too."  He shrugged and took his bag to the window, smiling at her.  He handed over his card as well.  "I'd like to cash out now please?  I'm going to lounge on deck and watch the scenery for a bit."

"Of course, sir."  She ran his card and blinked.  "Sir, I'll have to get the floor manager to do that.  I don't have that much in my drawer at the moment."

"That's fine," he promised.  "Can you do the quarters while we're waiting?"

She looked inside the bag then nodded. "I can."  She paged him and got to work on separating out the chips from the quarters.  It was making her head hurt.  The floor manager came over after talking to the guards.  "Sir, he's ready to cash out."

"Surely Mr. Harris can give us a chance to win back some of it?"

"I did that this morning with the dealer who kept getting ties somehow," he admitted.  He shrugged. "I'm going to go look at the scenery."

"After we've had a talk, young man."

Xander looked at him then smiled at latex woman.  "Dear, come here, please?"  She growled but came over.  "Are you with the ship or the gaming board?"

"The gaming board."

"Would you please type my name into the database for Vegas?"

She took his ID and did that, then stared at him.  "Unnatural but unenhanced ability to tell when slots and other mechanical or electronic games will hit," she told the manager.  "Listed as a whale for his high stakes poker and baccarat skills."  He grinned.  "You knew I was one?"

"Yeah, I did, and if you ever try to set off someone's allergy like that on purpose again, I will sue you.  You could have killed me."  She stepped back.  "Those of us with latex allergies, it's usually a fatal thing.  Now, I want to know if you put the latex in my food last night."   She shook her head quickly.  "Wanted me off baccarat?"

"I did.  I wanted to watch the dealer."

"Then you should've just sat down away from me or watched the one before her because she got caught using seconds yesterday."  She groaned.  "Also, from what my escorts have found out, they've got an open investigation into using illegal immigrants?" he asked the manager.  He went pale.  "Give me what I won and I'm going to go sit on deck."  He swallowed and shook his head.  "It's not like I cheated and I will have you shut down."

"We can't prove how he did the slots.  They stripped him in Vegas and couldn't tell.  Sir, may we search you now?" she asked.

"As long as you change first," he snorted.  She nodded at that reasonable request, taking off the latex things she was wearing.  She patted him down and frowned, looking at his keys.  That was the only other thing on him.  "Like I said, it's not a cheat.  It's not a system.  I've got a gut instinct.  That's why I point them out to others."  Horatio came over and he looked at him, getting a nod.

"The jackpot last night?" the guard asked.

"Yeah, well, next time don't drug my water," Xander said blandly. "It makes me want to retaliate."  He looked at the manager.  "You noticed I stayed off those games?  Until someone tried to fuck with me?" he asked nicely.   The Gaming Board operative nodded.  "I have nothing against picking them for others. A few other people asked me to choose for them.  I give out free advice when asked."

"Give it to him," the gaming board operative ordered. "He didn't cheat.  Retaliation isn't cheating."  She looked at Horatio.  "I looked you up, Lieutenant."

"Xander's a dear friend who lives near the station with one of the officers with us," he said blandly.  "He decided he needed some fun.  Not exactly the stress relief he was looking for."

"May we take possession of the drugged water?"

"You may not.  The FBI may."  She nodded at that.  "If you want, I will gladly hand it over to them personally."

"That's fine. I can get someone to meet us."  She looked at the cashier.  "Give him his money.  Cash out the rest of their party as well."  The cashier nodded and another manager came over to help her with that while the guards rounded up the rest.  "Officers, it has been a pleasure having you guard Mr. Harris."  She smiled.  "Also to work with you on exposing some irregularities."  Ryan nodded at that.  "Did you actually lose everything?"

"No but I know Xander likes my backrubs," he admitted, handing over his card.  The cashier whimpered.  "What?  Most of it's even going to charity."  The woman smiled and they got them all cashed out.  He smiled at Xander.  "We'll make out the money orders when we get back there."

"I was going to do it tonight from our hotel room and then stick them in the mail from the airport."

"Sure," Ryan agreed, patting him on the back.

"Are you two together, sir?" the cashier asked.

"No, he's mine," Danny said, watching the stack of cash Xander got handed.  "Hmm.  Yeah, a lot of that's going to charity."

Xander nodded.  "I said I was."  He walked off once Ryan had his stack, going up to his room.  "I'll never get to play slots again."

"Probably not," Ryan agreed.  "Then again, that might be a good thing."  He patted him on the back, going into his room to put his cash in his bag.  Xander came out with his cash in his bag. His bag was in his hand.  Danny jogged in to get his as well.  Then the whole group went up onto the deck to sit and watch the scenery.

A guy in an expensive suit came over to where they were lounging.  "So, we're all officers?"  Everyone but Xander and Aiden raised their hands.  "If I may ask where?"

"Miami-Dade," Horatio said, his amusement hidden behind his sunglasses.  "Mr. Harris is the boyfriend of one of us."

"I heard the tape made."  He looked at Xander.  "For obvious reasons the Gaming Commissions are going to ban you from all electronic games."

"That's fine. I like baccarat and poker."

"Thank you, Mr. Harris.  Is there anything else we can do for you?"

"Yes, release the women downstairs in the lower level that you have in sexual servitude."  The man gave him a horrified look.  "I've already sent the pictures to the FBI.  They should be meeting us tonight anyway.  Horatio?"

"They will be.  They assured me they would."  The man started to sweat.  "You're blocking my tan."  The man ran off.  "That was evil, Xander."

"But fun. You've got to admit it was fun."

"It was," Horatio agreed.  "The same as I can see why people like to gamble when they win like that."  He got comfortable.  It was only a few hours before they docked and met with the bad suits who gave him headaches.  As he found out, it was even the one who came down to give him headaches.  He handed over the bottle personally.  "Drugged," he said quietly.

"So I've heard.  Why do people want Mr. Harris?"

"He's a member of GHS," Ryan told him.

"Oh, damn," he moaned.  "How high?"

"Ten," Xander said with a sweet smile.  "That's why I travel with so many tough guys."  He stroked Don's arm.  "Like these guys."  That got a quick nod.  "You'll handle this and the poor people in slavery?"

"I will, sir.  I know you're all very sensitive to that in your organization."  He went to confiscate everything on the ship while they went to their hotel for the night.  Xander got one of the managers aside and pulled out the cash, making out money orders with him. Then he walked them upstairs, sitting down to write them out.  He left his name blank but included a note saying to put whatever name they wanted onto it.  A few were whimsical choices but the rest went to places that he knew needed it.  Including a small orphan's group home that desperately needed some renovation. His mental list ran out about three money orders too many so he had to get some more.  A little voice gave him a few other places while he was down there so he got those too.  Then he went back to finish filling them out.  The box of envelopes used between the group was empty by the time they were done, they had gone to hotel stationary.  Horatio sat down with the finished ones to write out addresses from the sites online.  Then he went to get stamps and made sure they went out in the mail.  When he came back, they took the rest of their winnings and went to dinner and to do some shopping for presents.  Well, and Calleigh called her family to talk cheaply.  She'd get to see them in the morning.


Frank looked at the newspaper when Don came back, giving it a pointed look.  "Nice vacation?"

"Busted an illegal alien and sex operation.  Busted some assholes who kept trying to drug or make Xander drink.  Busted one guy who wanted to cut off Xander's head.  The usual."  He shrugged and sat down, tossing over a wrapped package.  "From Xander."

"Ooh."  He unwrapped it and smiled at the t-shirt.  "Awww.  That's cute.  I'll put that in my locker to work out in."  He saw the smaller package and the note on top.  "Horatio said your anniversary was last weekend," he read. "He also said you probably forgot?"  He called Horatio.  "I did not forget my anniversary and it's this weekend, Horatio Caine."  He listened to him laugh and hang up.  He peeked inside and nodded.  That was a nice present.  "I'll tell her Xander sent it for being a normal couple."

"Look at your calendar, Frank," Don said happily, grinning at him.  "You were complaining that you'd have to take call during your anniversary weekend."

Frank looked and moaned.  "No wonder she slept on the couch all weekend."  Don grinned.  "Yeah, I'll use his gift."

"It'll definitely get you out of the doghouse," Don agreed.  Frank nodded, calling his wife to apologize and point out he had gotten her a present but it hadn't been ready because he thought it was *this* weekend.  He agreed they could go to lunch.  It made his wife happy.  Don smiled and tossed Yelina something.  "Yours and Ray's."

"Thank you. How was it?"

"Vacation.  Gambling.  Some idiots but mostly gambling and watching Xander bankrupt the company."  She laughed.  "I'm not kidding.  We went with a few grand and he came home with a few more."  He gave her a look and she went pale.  He nodded.  "He bankrupted them."

Frank hung up with a smile. "Plus they busted an illegal immigrant and sex ring according to Flack there."

"Charming.  Did he set out to bankrupt them?"  Don beamed and nodded. "How?"

"Xander's evil at baccarat and poker, and he's got a gut instinct for what machines are going to pay out."  He yawned.  "Sorry.  The dog barked all night at the thing on the lawn."

"What thing?"

"Alligator.   They're coming to get it today."  He yawned again. "I've already told Xander he can't have one."

She snorted and turned back around to unwrap the present, smiling at the nice t-shirts, and then the real presents.  Modest, more than acceptable.  It also showed that Horatio had helped him shop this time.  It was clearly his stamp on them.  She put them aside to take home with her and wrote out thank you notes for them.  The fifty dollar gift Visa gift card Ray could definitely use to get a new game or some new music.

Don and Frank shared a look.  Don winked and got back to work.


Horatio saw Ray coming in with a shopping bag from an electronic's store, smiling at him.  "Saving up your allowance?" he teased.

"Definitely."  He handed over the letter.  "Thank the man for me.  He definitely has the pulse of teenagers."  They shared a look.  "Five grand?  Yeah, I can use that.  Especially since it only said fifty bucks.  I put the rest in a savings account with my allowance that mom made me start.  I've got control of it now and she thinks I saved up for the new discman."  Horatio smiled at that.  "How much did you win?"

"Most of it went to charity but a few thousand."

"Uh-huh.  I saw the happy letters in the paper from the United Way and the Pound about their anonymous donations."  They shared another look.   "If he wants a kid, I'm adoptable," he offered with a grin.

"We'll see, Ray.  For now, I can smell your mother's perfume."  He grinned at that and came in to sit down, his mother following right behind him.  "Did you like your present?"

"I did," she agreed, smiling at him.  "What did you get with yours?"

"A new discman. My last one was crappy and this one has a longer instability hold so it won't go off if it bounces."

"Good.  I'm glad you combined your saved allowance and that, son.  It shows responsibility."  She smiled at him then at Horatio, handing over her note.  "There, for Xander.  I'm sure you'll see him sooner."

"I'll give them to Danny tonight, Yelina.  How were things while I was gone?"

"Interesting.  Slow but interesting.  Frank apparently had to get a very nice present for forgetting his anniversary.  She forgave him during lunch and he came in smiling and happy so it was a good lunch and apology," she said with a small catty grin.  Horatio smiled back.  "Crime was fairly light. Nothing new happened but Eric's complaining about wrinkles?"

"He thinks he needs laser resurfacing to get rid of a few."

"If he settled down he wouldn't have that problem."

"True," Horatio agreed.  He smiled at his nephew.  "Have fun with your new player and trading CD's with your friends later."

"Oh, I plan on it.  Thanks, Uncle H.  Tell the other one I said hi too."  He walked out with his mother, letting her drive him home.

"Did he lie?" she asked plainly.

"He gave me a hundred instead so I could afford this and some new tunes."

"Fine.  It's still not too terrible."

He smiled at his mother.  He never got away with it but this time.... maybe.


Xander looked up from his lounging in the pool Cupid had put in, giving Don a happy, sated smile.  He went back to sitting on the toy and letting the water gently lap around his body.  "This is so nice. You've got to try this."  Don stripped down and slid in, finding his own.  He moaned as he slid down it, nodding and relaxing. It was good. He got off within minutes from the gentle stimulation.

Danny came home three hours later and found them both in the same places, asleep and sated smiles gracing their faces.  He took pictures too.  Then he stripped down to climb in and gently bathe them.  Don woke up when he did him, helping him off his toy so he could get cleaned up and sent to bed.  Xander was a harder being to wake.   He did but he pouted at him when Danny finished cleaning him up and sent him to bed.  He pouted all the way up the stairs. He rolled his eyes and went to check out the other areas.  The one with the toys all stuck to the wall was a neat idea.  They were all shapes and sizes, some different heights.  He'd have to make sure Xander cleaned them as well.  He turned off the lights as he went back upstairs, taking the clothes to put into the wash and climb in behind Xander.  Xander wiggled his butt.  "Still?"

"Please?" he whispered.  Danny slid into him and he hissed, going limp around him. That was what he needed to send him back to sleep.  Danny moved slowly, gently having him, making it good for them both.  He felt Danny get off and squeezed, making Danny chuckle and reach around to stroke him.  It was much appreciated and the orgasm did let him drift off again.  It had been a good day. Danny hugged him until he heard the first snore, then he moved to get Don's back.  Don hated to wake up not surrounded by them.  Xander would cling to his front and Don would soak it up, but the need to have someone against his back was a nice thing too.  Danny didn't even have to cuddle, just be there. Since Danny didn't cuddle, it was a nice thing in his book. He smiled when they started to snore in the same key again.  That was too cute for words.

The End.

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