Xander looked at everything in the house and got a bright idea, going to find the magic book he needed. He sat down in the practice room with the dog and did the spell, cleaning the house, feeling very proud of himself. Even when he came out and found all the ferret chow and litter gone. He refilled them and petted their hairless bodies. "Give it a week and it'll grow back, ladies." He found that healing spell and did it sooner since Beauty gave him such a pitiful look. They nibbled on themselves but it was fine after a moment. He beamed and went to take the trash out to the cans by the gate, sliding back inside and locking it from inside. He skipped back to the house and looked around. Everything was in place. It was all dusted. All the dishes were clean. Everything was where it was supposed to be. The floors were clean. And he was now bored. He pouted and sat down with the dog, stroking him gently. "We need to do something," he offered. The dog barked. "True. We could use more ferret and dog food, plus litter." He smiled when George used the litter box and it was cleaned, making the ferret squeak and use it again. "You go, George. That's a good boy." He canceled the cleaning spell after a second litterbox cleaning. Then he sighed and looked at his dog. "Let's go to the pet store." Spot barked. "Sure, you can come too." He petted the smaller babies and took the larger one out to the corvette. Where he found out Danny had done something to the engine on him again.
He put the battery back in and connected it. He knew how to do that thanks to his old car, the heap that had been left somewhere in Staten Island. He got in and the dog barked and licked him. "Sure, we'll get treats too, Spot." He headed off, remembering to lock the gate behind him and turn on the security system. It was a nice day for a drive. He drove around for an hour or so then hit the pet store. That way they had something of an outing for a while. He clipped on the leash and walked inside, smiling at the salesgirl they knew. "Hi."
"Hi. Hi to you too, Spot." She scratched his ears. "Are you out of ferret chow again?"
"We so are, and litter. Plus his food and he wants treats." She laughed so he walked on, finding everything they needed easily enough. His dog pulled him over to the 'adopt us please' cages, making him coo at the cat sitting in there. "Daddy Don can't, Spot. He's allergic to cats. He'll sneeze you bald if you bring home a cat." He walked on, ignoring the pitiful look. The salesgirl gave him a look. "Don's allergic to cats. He said he even sneezed at the tiger when he had a case that involved one."
"Interesting." She pointed. "We have a new ferret. Just in this morning." He went to look at the pure black ferret, feeling the magic on it. She came over. "He's a bit surly."
"He is," Xander agreed, reaching in to stroke him. "Hi, little ferret buddy. How are you today?" The being that was pretending to be a ferret glared at him. "Awww. Are you going to be one of the ones that lives up to the demonic name?" he teased. The salesgirl giggled. "He could be." He called Richard. "You know how you liked my George and Beauty? The shop has a new one. Jet black and it's very pretty. It'll clearly live up to the demonic name, Richard. Yeah, that store. No, we're here for food and stuff. Thanks." He grinned and hung up. "I know someone who might love him." He kissed her on the cheek. "You guys are out of his usual treats?"
"We may be. Shipment day is tomorrow." She walked him back there, getting a good substitute for Spot and a new rawhide. Then she checked them out. "Thank you for letting him know, Mr. Harris."
"Not a problem. I like happy adoptive parents." He walked Spot off, taking him home. That hobby shop had went out of business so he couldn't pick up anything new in there. He drove through the gate and felt a quickening. "Gee, I hope it's a happy person." He parked and let Spot out first, then walked the bags inside while he had the guy pinned. He refilled all the bowls, then the water bottles. Then he got his sword and looked at the scared thief. "Who are you and how did you get inside?" he asked patiently, holding his sword to the guy's throat.
"I'm... I'm Roger."
"I'm sure you are." He called Horatio. "Can you please send me someone to arrest the guy who broke in? No, no challenge issued. He's presently pinned by Spot. Thanks." He hung up. "Were you coming here to steal or to challenge me?"
"Steal," he admitted, swallowing. "Please call off the dog?"
"Hmm. No. Good boy, Spot. Keep it up! Good boy!" He walked out to let the officer in, pointing at him. "Him."
"Is that Detective Flack's puppy, Spot?" the officer asked. Xander beamed and nodded. "You guys have done a good job training him. Spot, off," he called. Spot looked then got off, coming over to get petted. "Good boy to follow the officer's orders," he praised, giving him a lot of ear scratches. "Very good boy, Spot." Spot barked and wagged his tail, then went to get a treat from the daddy, who handed him the new bone. He sat down to gnaw and chew on it, still a happy dog. "Good job, Mr. Harris."
"Thank you," he said proudly. "He said he was here to rob me, not kill me. Otherwise I would've hurt him."
"It's always a better option to let us do that," the second officer offered, pulling him up. "Thank you, sir."
"Welcome. Let me make sure he didn't touch anything yet." He walked them around, checking on things. Then he patted him down and found Danny's bracelet. "That's Detective Messer's."
"That's fine, sir. We'll make sure he gets it back," the first officer assured him, smiling. "You have a good day."
"Only if I relieve this boredom," he sighed.
"Find the library," the second one offered.
"I'm not allowed out without an escort. People still try to take me."
They looked at each other, then at him. "They do what?" the first officer asked.
He leaned on the back of the couch. "The higher level GHS members, like me, are often taken. That's why I let Don and Danny live with me. They protect me."
"We thought you were dating them both," the second officer offered.
Xander blushed some, then shrugged a bit. "You'd have to ask them. I don't talk about those things." They smiled. "Anyway, if I went out today you guys would probably have to come and arrest at least one other person who wanted to at least pet my hair. It's not nice but we're wanted as favorite concubines and things, and half the people who want us want to castrate us so we can only be theirs. Someone nearly did me. Fortunately I healed okay but I don't want to go through that again."
They just nodded. "Ever think about hiring an off-duty?"
"We did when we were in New York but Don hasn't gotten any suggestions on who."
"We'll ask around," the first officer assured him. "Look online. You can find books online and read them that way." Xander beamed at that and he smiled back. "Have a better day, sir." He walked their suspect out. "Be good and guard the Xander, Spot." The second officer nodded and smiled, heading out as well. They got in and looked at each other. "I didn't think it was that bad."
"I've heard he's been taken. The last time they got Wolfe and Caine. That's how his back got hurt," his partner offered.
"Wow. I didn't think he needed that much protection."
"He needs to fix his security system. It's got gaps," the guy in the back admitted.
"We'll let the detectives he lives with know that," the second officer sneered. "Shut up until they ask you about them." He slunk down. They backed out and headed back to their unit, going to arrest him and let Detective Messer identify his bracelet. They ran into Flack first. "Sir, has no one given you a suggestion of someone who could watch your boy on their days off?"
"Not yet," he admitted. "I've asked, guys." He shrugged. "What happened?"
"Someone broke in. Your dog is very well trained," the first officer assured him. "He was doing a mean impersonation of Cujo on the guy's chest." He nodded at him. "He also said you've got gaps in the security system."
"We know but we're not sure how to fix it." He looked at the guy. "You are?"
"Really? We've got one of those here. Ray?" He perked up and looked over. "He said he shares your name. He just broke into the house."
"Really?" He came over to look at him, then sneered. "Real name?" he asked. The man gave him a horrified look so he leaned closer to whisper in his ear. "I'm being trained by Methos. Tell me everything," he hissed. He pulled back still smiling. The man swallowed and nodded. "Good, now then, name?"
"Good. First, last? Only?" Don asked as he led him off. "Thanks, guys, and if you get an idea of someone, let us know." He grinned at Stan. "They said my dog was playing Cujo very well."
"Spot's well trained," Ray agreed, nodding. He grinned at the officers. "We'll put your names on there." That got smiles and they left to tell the other party that they had his bracelet. He looked at Don. "Wanna bet Xander was bored?"
"No bets, he's been bored but he was going to clean the house today."
"Why don't you guys have a housekeeper?"
"We can't find one. We found one and we came home to find Xander tied to the chair with whipped cream on his stomach and the guy threatening to lick it off." He shoved the guy into an interrogation room. "By the way, the cops he lives with made him put everything valuable in the bank." Tooks moaned and nodded at that, hanging his head. Danny walked in and he snapped up, looking scared. "Yeah, there's a lot of us here," he agreed happily.
"Roland Tooks," Eric said as he came in. "Didn't I tell you to leave Miami when you got out the last time?" The man whimpered. "You were doing what?" Flack handed over Danny's bracelet.
"Huh. I knew I forgot to put this on this morning," he admitted, putting it down to take pictures of it for the records, then to put it on. "Thanks." He grinned. "Now then, what holes were in the security system?" Tooks just stared at him. "Your choice. We'll let them know you broke into a cop's house." He slumped and started to draw out the boundaries and the holes he had found.
Xander looked up from his lunch when someone came in. "Hi, Aiden. I'm bored."
"I can tell. The house is spotless." She kissed him on the forehead and went to make lunch. "Sorry, forgot to grocery shop again."
"Not like I care," he reminded her. "How are classes?"
"I'm learning a lot I missed and the theory behind what I knew how to do before. It's pretty exciting." She smiled at him. "You could take a class, Xander." He shuddered. "I know you're very against education but sometimes you've got to."
"I don't care. It's nasty and I don't get along well with books."
"Uh-huh. Well, I'm off this weekend if you wanted to go to the college and look around. There's lots of stuff to do up there." He shook his head. "You sure?"
"I am. Are you busy this afternoon?"
"Unfortunately I've got physics this afternoon." She sat down beside him with her sandwich and nibbled, looking at him. "That bored?" He nodded. "Then why don't you fix up the practice room?"
"I did. It's all cleaned. I did it magically. I even ran out for more ferret litter." He ate a chip. "I'm so bored."
"No hobby kits?" He shook his head. "Have you called Adam?"
"He's off helping another immie in town." He pouted. "I don't want to try more martial arts."
"That might be a good idea," she admitted. "You're pretty good in self defense." She ran a hand over his arm. "How are your closets?"
"Straightened out. I'm *really* bored, Aiden." He gave her a look.
"You know those tv ads for 'earn a degree from home'?" she asked after a few more bites. He nodded. "Look at them, Xander. They're hands-on stuff. You could learn valuable stuff from it. Or take a massage class."
"I took them. I'm certified," he said proudly. She smiled at him. "I did that while Spot was being worked with."
"Good job." She stroked over his hair. "What do you want to do next year?"
"Not be bored."
"Besides that?" she asked patiently. "There's more to life than pleasure."
"Yeah but I can't find my spot," he moaned. He leaned against her side. "It's like there's nothing out there for me to do but be a happy little slut and I can't do that when I'm bored shitless like I am at the moment." He heard the car door shut and looked at her. She shrugged. Someone knocked, they knew it wasn't one of the family. He got up and went to look out the hole then opened the door cautiously. "Yes?"
"I'm here to speak to you about a matter of importance, sir. May I come inside?" Xander got out of the way and he stepped inside. "CSI Burns. I had no idea you had moved down here as well."
"Yup. I'm Xander's buddy." She ate another chip. "What's going on? Should I call his protector?"
"No, I don't think that'll be necessary," he said, pulling a gun. "Into the living room please, Mr. Harris." He looked at the dog. "Should you have him attack me, you'll see his insides," he warned. "Sit." Xander sat beside Aiden again, nibbling on one of her chips. "Ah, ever the calm and cool one." He looked him over. "I don't know why anyone would want you."
"Nothing in this concerns Aiden."
"You've tainted her and other good officers with this hormone story you've made up."
"Huh?" He looked confused. "What hormone story? We've had proof since the finding of hormones. Otherwise no one would want to take my ass."
"You ruined good officers," he said firmly.
"Name one," he shot back.
The man cocked his gun. "Every single one you come in contact with. Unfortunately they'll have to be purged as well." He looked at Aiden then at him. "Including her. She has the possibility to spread it to her future students."
"You're insane," Aiden assured him, handing Xander the plate. "Get out of here. His boys could come home at any minute!" The dog woke up and shook himself. "Lay back down, Spot."
"Spot, no," Xander ordered at his growl. "He'll hurt you, no. Come here. Guard the daddy." The dog came over and took a potato chip in treat. "I don't know what your problem is, but you're not going to get away with hurting any of us."
"I don't think that will be a problem. Your security system was turned off again." Aiden moaned. "It's not that hard."
"It should be," Xander told him. "I'll have to fix that later." The man sneered. "Oh, I'll be here later. You won't be but I will be."
"No matter what you do, I'll make sure your taint is cleaned."
Xander let his hormones surge, making him choke and splutter, then fall to his knees. "Aiden?"
"Getting it." She got his gun and found Don's play cuffs, putting them on him. "There. We should call someone."
"Really?" He got up. "Come on, Spot, let's go for a walk. The air in here is foul." He walked over and concentrated, letting go of the blocks Horatio had taught him to put on his body. The man gave him a look. "Follow." He slid into shoes. "On your knees," he growled. The man stayed on his knees and crawled after him. "Aiden, call someone up there, have them check on Donny, the one who went with me?"
"Sure, I'll call Mac." She did that then hurried out to follow in case he needed it. "Mac, Aiden. Yes, it's important. Someone just came in saying that they're removing the taint of Xander from all the cops he tainted. He wanted to make sure all you guys and that guy Donny was fine." She smiled. "Thanks." She laughed. "On his knees and begging, Mac. Yeah, going after him now." She hung up and ran out, leaving the door open. No one else would be that stupid. But she would be looking for a new house for them. Even if she did have to beg Cupid personally to move that basement of theirs. She liked to play in the pool.
Xander walked the guy up to the front of the station and coughed at the officers gathered around. "Guys, he came in and said he was going to stop me from tainting officers with my hormones. He pulled a gun on myself and Aiden Burns." They all stared at the guy behind him on his bloody knees. "Can one of you please get Flack for me? Or Messer, or Delko, one of them?" One of them went running inside and Xander glared at his victim, making him whimper and make begging noises, coming closer. The dog barked and he backed off again. "Good boy, Spot." Horatio came jogging out. "He pulled a fucking gun on me and Aiden, saying that my hormones were a fucking *story*, Horatio. He was going to kill all of us to remove the taint I gave off with them."
"You made him do what?"
"Beg and crawl. Aiden used my play cuffs on him. She's calling Mac to make sure that Donny's fine."
"Sure," he agreed. "Boys, let's get him inside. Come on, Xander. Please calm it back down?" He moved Xander and the dog off to the side. "Calm it down, Xander. Please?" he ordered a bit more firmly. Xander forced himself to calm down and put the blocks back on like he had been taught. "Good boy, Xander. You're a good boy too," he promised when Spot nudged his hand. "You're both very good boys." He looked at Aiden when she came jogging up. "We've got it."
"He came up to the door and said he had to talk to Xander about something important," she panted. "Pulled a gun on us."
"We'll take statements inside. Come on." She nodded and walked Xander inside with him behind them. The suspect was led to another room and his scrapes were documented so no one could say they did it. "Xander, that was cruel."
"He was going to kill her, Horatio! You know he couldn't hurt me, not really, but Aiden doesn't have that assurance."
"I know, calm down," he ordered. Xander slumped. "From the top, kids."
Aiden grabbed some paper and wrote it out for him, then handed it over. She let Xander have it and nudged him. "Write it out as it happened, Xander, including however you got him onto his knees." She looked at Horatio. "Mac said he hadn't heard anything about his former guard but he'd check. They were all okay but someone had taken a shot at Sheldon's car." Xander snapped the pen and took a deep breath. She got him another one. "There, baby. Calm down." She stroked his back. "They couldn't be sure."
"I'm sure. He's been down here stalking me," Horatio offered. "Eric saw him." Xander looked up at him. "Finish writing it out, Xander. Please. We'll need it to convict him." Xander nodded and went back to writing. He looked behind him when the Shift Supervisor came in. "Problems?"
"How did he make him crawl that way?"
"I used the taint he accused me of," Xander said, rubbing his forehead. "It was that or have him kill me and Aiden."
"I thought you were with Flack."
She stood up and slapped him. "I'm his fucking friend, you no-talent moron!" He backed off, giving her a horrified look. "Don't you *dare* blame this on Xander! He's never seen this guy before! He's the one making threats on various officers!"
"Calm down, Aiden," Horatio said quietly. "There's photographic proof he's shown up on a few of the same scenes I have," Horatio told him. "Eric Delko found it and they all know." Calleigh came running up the hall. "What happened?" he called.
"Gun discharge." She walked into the other room with the paramedics right behind her. She came back a minute later. "He tried to shoot an officer who the other one said was with him earlier?"
"We had a break-in. I had someone come get him," Xander admitted, pulling his dog up to hold. "Shh, Spot. It's all right. The gunpowder is okay in this case." His dog quit growling. "Good boy." He kissed him on the ear. "Sit." He put him down. "Sit." His dog sat beside him, letting him write with one hand and pet him with the other. He slid it over to Horatio, giving him a look. "I don't know, Horatio. He was threatening us. He had his gun cocked."
"I left it on the living room floor," Aiden admitted. Calleigh nodded, going to get it. "He came up to the door and said he had something important to talk to Xander about. Xander let him in and he pulled a gun, guys. He said he was going to remove the taint Xander was putting onto the officers around him with this hormone story, as he called it, and threatened both of us and Spot. He said if Xander had Spot attack him, he'd shoot the dog too. Said he'd have to kill me because I might pass it onto my students some year."
Horatio nodded at that, looking at the statements. "Xander, can you write this in english?" Xander blushed and took it back to copy it in English. "Thank you. I know you're stressed." Frank came running. "Is he free?"
"No, he's not free. He just got shot five times in the chest when he tried to grab another gun off someone," he said, looking at them. Xander rushed to the trash can to get sick. "Flack's on a scene with Danny."
"I know. Is Ryan here?" Frank nodded. "Go get him. Send him up." Frank nodded, going to call him. "Xander, nothing you did made him do that." He walked over to help him up and back into his seat. "Come on. Look at me." Xander gave him the most pitiful and self-loathing look. "You protected yourself. Nothing about that made him kill himself. He was already mentally damaged when he came to shoot you." Xander nodded, resting against his chest. "Shhh. It's all right. Cuddle Aiden." He nodded, shifting over to cuddle her. He looked a the Shift Supervisor when he hung up. "Is everyone all right?"
"Fine. So he made him crawl how?"
"I forced the broadcasting," Xander said quietly. "It's one of the best ways to get away from someone who has me when I can't physically fight them." He swallowed. "I overdid it," he admitted. "I let loose everything I had on him and I made him crawl up here."
"Okay," he said, looking at Horatio. "You can do that?"
"It's a matter of training. Most of the level nines and tens can do that," he admitted quietly. Ryan walked in and pulled Xander up, shaking him a few times. "Mr. Wolfe...."
"He'll be fine, Horatio. I'll make sure of it. Go handle it." Horatio nodded, leading the supe out. He looked at Xander. "You made him crawl from the house?" Xander nodded. "Wow. Better than the last one you had to get away from." Xander ran to get sick again. "Okay. Aiden, are you all right?"
"I've got a bit of a headache but it wasn't focused on me, Ryan. I'm not even horny. Angry, I hit the other guy."
"He's the patrol shift supe," he said with a small smile. "Bet you wanted to do yours."
"Now and then," she agreed. Xander came back and sat down again, pulling his dog back into his lap. "It's not your fault, Xander. It was his mental damage. Not yours."
"He still probably did it to escape the taint," he said miserably.
"Really? Because I don't feel tainted," Ryan said, sitting on the table to look down at him. "I don't. Don doesn't. Danny doesn't. Ray doesn't. Horatio and Speed don't. Calleigh doesn't. Valera and Calleigh think of you like an odd cousin who needs some help now and then." Xander leaned forward to rest against his knee. "Shh, it's not your fault, Xander. Anyone who tried that is an idiot." He looked over as Calleigh came in. "What's going on?"
"The gun was still there and so was someone else, who was sniffing the carpet." She held up the baggie. "This one, Aiden?" She nodded. "I'll need your prints to rule you out."
"He was shot downstairs," Ryan said quietly. "He made another gun grabbing attempt." She stiffened at that. "They stopped it."
"Sure," she agreed. "We'll still need to rule hers out so we can find his ID." Aiden nodded, writing down her former badge number. "Thank you, Aiden. Xander, this is not your fault. Even the King of Idiot ADA's couldn't make this your fault. Even though you made him crawl from the house. I thought it was a good job. Kept him confined and showed him how stupid he was." She walked out, going to find this guy's ID. Eric came in with Danny and she ran out to stop them before they could hear. "Someone came to the house to shoot Xander and nearly Aiden." Eric stopped smiling. "They're fine. Xander took all the blocks off his body and let it rip. He made him crawl up here from the house. Danny, I locked the door again when I let the patrol guys get the second guy in there sniffing the carpet. Xander's blaming himself. The guy made two gun grabs. The second one ended him." She looked back at the lab she was in then back at him. "I think it's the same guy you found stalking Horatio."
"Let's see," Eric agreed. "Danny?"
"Heading to help Xander."
"He's got Spot and Aiden, plus Horatio called Ryan up," she offered. "He had his head down on Ryan's knee."
"I can help," he assured her, heading up there. He ran into Frank, who wasn't looking happy. "Tell me someone's not trying to charge him."
"No, the idiot ADAs are out of this one. They said they're not touching it but one did order Horatio to watch for other homicides from him within the kid's hearing. Xander's getting sick again. We had to change trashcans on him."
Danny walked in there, coming over to help Ryan calm Xander down. "This is not your fault. He would've tried to grab the guns even if you hadn't whammied him with your hormones. He knew he was caught and good this time."
"He's a cop," Calleigh said, leaning in. "He knew how bad it was going to get." She left, going to talk to the second suspect. She found him joking with the other guys. "We have a good reason?"
"Flack said he was a guy who protected Xander in New York," one of them offered. "He said to remove the cuffs."
"That's fine. He's up the hallway. Where's Flack?"
"Going to look at the body. Who was he?"
"One of the New York DA's." Donny sat up and stared at her. "You're the one he used to hire to bring around?" He nodded. "You did good." She smiled. Then she handed over the sheet. "Know him?"
"I do. He tried to break through my door the other day and shot at my girlfriend's car." He looked at her. "He's dead, right?"
"Yup, but one of the local ADA's decided to tell Horatio to watch for more homicides."
"He was safer in New York."
"He's doing fine," she pointed out. "It's only been two serious kidnapings."
"He ever talk about his friend Buffy?" she asked. He groaned. "Her. Both bombs. She was thoroughly trashed too."
"Someone should put them out of his misery." He looked at her again. "So, you're which one? Xander writes me most weeks."
"Cool. I'm Donny." He shook her hand. "Someone might want to call Taylor to make sure no one else got hit by him."
"Aiden did. Someone shot at Sheldon's car but he's fine so far."
"Good. That's good." He stood up. "Can I see the kid?"
"He's throwing up up the hall," one of the patrol officers offered. "You really guarded him?"
"Yup. He paid me well to walk around with him. Kept the muggers off him. Kept his fanclub off him. Took him to the shooting range a few times when he got a new gun. Took him shopping. To the movies. I kept people from taking him, just casually taking him, at least fifty times. The worst time up there, they broke into the condo he and Flack were sharing at the time and tied Flack up in his bed before taking Xander for three months." They all shuddered. "Yeah, so the kid needs it. You guys don't have anyone?"
"Flack asked but no one's stepped forward," one of them offered.
Calleigh nodded. "He and Horatio go shopping now and then on his day off so Horatio can get him into a suit." They smiled at that. "It's worked well so far." She looked at him. "You should've went on their trip to Vegas."
"Let me guess, that sense that used to work so well on our stoplights made him hit the jackpot at slots?"
"No, he picked one for Ryan." Donny grinned at that. "He's decided he's evil at baccarat and poker when Ryan showed him."
"The boy's evil at many things," he assured her. "He had some chocolate makers up there begging at his feet when he came in to get more stuff. They adored him." She smiled at that. "Is he feeding the precinct too?"
"Now and then," she agreed with a small smile. Horatio stepped in. "This is Donny. He was Xander's off-duty guard in New York."
"The guy grows on you," he admitted, shaking his hand. "I knew someone was after him, that's why I came down."
"That's fine, Officer," Horatio assured him. "Thank you."
"Not an issue. Like I said, Xander grows on a guy. He's neat friend to have and he's horrible about spoiling you." Calleigh nodded at that so he smirked. "He got me a new leather jacket for my biking days."
"He just bought Don a bike and leather jacket." He laughed at that and clapped her on the back. "Come on, I'll let you meet the others who're around him."
"Sure. I wouldn't mind. With your leave, Lieutenant?"
"Of course, Donny. I know he's been writing you."
"Most weeks," he agreed happily. "Is that Ryan guy here?"
"With him right now," she assured him.
"Good. He seems like the sort Xander should date." He walked up there with them, then inside after watching for a minute. "You can't be blaming yourself for his idiocy, right?"
"Donny!" Xander said, jumping up to hug him. Ryan ended up catching the dog and Aiden put him back onto the floor. "You're okay?"
"He tried to break in and tried to shoot my girlfriend once. When I found out he had left the city, I tracked him down here to you." He stroked his cheek. "Are you all right?"
"I... He threatened to shoot us and things. Even threatened my dog Spot. Then I kinda let it all loose and made him crawl after me up here. He grabbed someone's gun." He snuggled back into his chest, getting a hug. "You're all right, that's all that matters."
"I'm fine and so is everyone else as far as I know," he promised, patting him on the back. "You didn't do anything to make him, Xander. He was in denial of wanting you himself, like Hillborne is. He's trying to get any other GHS members in the PD off the force." Xander groaned and sat down again. "It's all right. Taylor's backing the other members." He stroked over his hair. "I see you're still growing it." Xander nodded, looking at him. "Good. The hair is a part of you." He looked at the guy on the table. "I'm Donny."
"I'm Ryan. He's told us about you." He shook his hand. "I'm sure you know Aiden but that's Spot. Technically Don Flack's dog." Spot barked. "Yes, the daddy's around here somewhere. Go find the daddy, Spot. Go find the daddy." He sniffed and walked out, heading to find his daddy's desk. Donny smiled at that. "He's been very good for Xander, protects him when we can't."
"Still can't beat a human one."
"I'm with you on that point," Ryan agreed. "We're getting him one down here to take him out and around on their days off." He grinned at Xander and got a small one back. "It'll be fine. I promise it will."
Xander shook his head. "They think I'm capable of killing people, Ryan!"
"You're not and I know that," Ryan said firmly. "Not unless you're attacked first." Xander slumped down and nodded. "Which this time was. It's not like you asked him to point a gun at you or Aiden."
"True," he sighed, looking at Donny. "Is your girlfriend okay?"
"Hates the job and we broke up." He shrugged. "It happens."
"It was a perk of the job during my tenure too," Aiden agreed dryly, leaning back. "Got rid of the jerks I was dating pretty quickly." Xander frowned at her. "It did. Same as physics is doing it now." She shrugged. "It happens."
"You have better taste than that," Ryan assured her, kissing her on the forehead. Donny laughed at that. "She should. She's helped Xander find better taste than some of his shirts."
"I like my hawaiian shirts," Xander defended with a pout. "Can we go home?"
"Let's make sure," Ryan promised. He looked around, spotting Frank. "Can he go home?" he called. Frank shook his head. Ryan rolled his eyes. "Not yet." He looked at Xander again. "This was not your fault, Xander. I swear to you on my oaths, it wasn't your fault that he grabbed that officer's gun. He was already deranged and he realized what a pile of manure he was in." He gave him another cuddle. "Instead of going home, go exercise the horse, okay?" Xander looked up at him. "I trust you to treat her well. Go exercise my horse for me. It'll be good for you."
"Good boy." He messed up the stray strands, making Xander smile. "Good. Now, let's remove the trash can because that's nasty, and then I'll call out there for you. Then we'll see why you can't be let go of yet." He slid off the table to go talk to Frank. "Why can't he go home yet?"
"Danny didn't want him to go home alone."
"He's not. He's going to exercise my mare for me." Frank gave him an odd look. "I came home with her, Frank. She's at a local stable."
"Can that guy and Aiden go with him?" Frank asked.
"Sure. They've got rental horses." Frank walked off shaking his head. He shrugged and called the stables. "Hi, this is Ryan. I do? Sure, I can send Xander with it. No, I was going to let him come ride her for a while. He was almost killed today and needs to calm down. Oh, she knows him very well. He might have two people with them and they might like to go too. Thanks." He listened to how one other person came out to ride her now and then and smiled. "He's fine. He's part of the reason I've got her. She likes him. She'll like Xander. He used to feed her apples all the time. Thanks." He hung up and looked over as Danny came back. "Can he go riding?"
"Can he ride?"
"As long as he's not alone."
"Aiden might go with him. Donny definitely would."
"Sure." He waved at Donny, getting a grin and a nod. "Works for me. Tell him to pick up dinner."
"He probably doesn't have his wallet. Speaking of, I've got to send him with my check for stable fees." He went to find his checkbook from his locker, bringing it back with the check. Xander looked at it then at him. "For my stable fees, Xander."
Xander kissed him on the cheek. "I'm in a fussy mood," he reminded him. "I always fuss afterward."
"Sure, if *he's* out there, tell him I said hi and to pop around. Eric wanted a spar." He shrugged. "You sure?"
"I'm sure." He smiled at Donny, then at Aiden. "Are you going to class?"
"I should." She stroked his cheek. "I'll take Spot home if I can find him." He nodded and she left.
Xander looked at Donny. "I changed cars."
"I heard about the bomb but you never told me what you got instead. I'll take good care of him yet again, boys." They nodded and he let Xander walk him out. He smiled at how close they were to the station. It was a nice house. He patted the corvette and Xander beamed. "Really?"
"Horatio helped me pick it out."
"You and he...."
"He's married," he said quickly. "He's one of us."
"Ah, then a shopping buddy."
"The guy in the suit? Yeah." Donny gaped. "You can't tell."
"I won't tell, Xander. I promise. You know that. I know way too many of the ones in New York to ever start blabbing." He watched him walk inside then come out with the keys and his wallet, locking the door behind him. Xander slid in to drive. "So, you and Ryan maybe?"
"Maybe. He's seeing someone else but they're kinda loose at the moment since the other guy's also seeing Aiden. Ryan's like my backup keeper." He grinned. "And sometimes the reason that my keeper gets to sleep at all." Donny laughed at that, nodding. "Can you ride with me?"
"Sure, I can try. Put me on something calm, okay?"
"Sure." He beamed and backed out of the driveway and headed to the stables with a stop through the ATM at his bank. Donny gave him a look. "This way Ryan doesn't have to worry about stable fees and I can get dinner. I'm in the mood to fuss."
"You always are whenever you get into trouble." He shifted. "This is very nice. Very good car, Xander."
"Thanks." He sped up on the road out there, making Donny smile at the show of defiance and backbone. They pulled into the stables and parked, smiling at the person coming out of the barn. "Ryan said I could use his mare and he wants to go with me."
"Of course. Ryan called." She smiled and took the cash he handed over. "This is much more than a month." She counted it out. "That'll be eight and a half months. Sure." She went to write out the receipt for him, handing it to the obvious bodyguard with a smile. "Know how to ride?"
"That's fine. Let's get you on something calm. Xander likes to plod around the woods." She got the horses out and helped Donny saddle his and into the saddle. Xander had it by himself. They trotted out together, letting the bigger one get used to it. They were cute together. It was clear that one was very protective of the boy.
Don walked in and saw the looks the officers were giving him. "What?"
"Your dog's waiting on you," one said. "Xander forgot him when he walked out with some big, buff, bald guy."
"Big, buff, bald guy?"
"From your neck of the woods," the officer agreed. "Sounded like a fellow New Yorker?"
"Donny?" He shook his head and went to check on his dog, finding him curled up under his desk. "Why are you here, Spot?"
"Because Xander got escorted out to go riding."
"He couldn't bring him home?"
"Well, there was a small problem at home," Frank admitted, turning to look at him. Don sat down and pulled the dog into his lap, getting ready. "You know the guy who was following Horatio?"
"Unfortunately not. Why?" he asked cautiously.
"Well, he came after your boy with a gun." Don glared at him. "Aiden was there. Your boy *snapped*," he said with a fond smirk. "First thing we knew, Xander was walking the dog up here with him crawling behind him and Aiden jogging to catch up." Don stopped petting his dog. "Yeah, he let it all go on him. Made him crawl the whole way. Well, this prosecutor ended up grabbing a gun, twice no less. Different people. Second time got him shot. The ADA who came in about the problem warned Horatio to watch for more homicides from him. That was suicide by stupidity so they couldn't do anything."
"Why was Donny here?"
"Calleigh found him when she went back for nut-boy's gun. He was in the house. She brought him back and they said you said to let him go."
"No, I've been out this whole time." He looked up. "Strife?" he muttered. Strife popped in and winked, then disappeared. "Okay, that solves that mystery. He came down to help?"
"He came down to guard Xander. The guy had tried to get him and his girlfriend. Ryan and he got Xander calmed down when he started to get sick. Horatio handled the whole mess. Like I said, the guy grabbed an officer's gun the second time. First time he was made to let it go before it did more than go off in the holster. Second time he took five rounds to the sternum." Don shivered. "So no worries there. Xander was very upset so Ryan told him to go ride his horse for him. Took the big guy with him. Paid Ryan's stable fees for the month or whatever. Then he'll probably get dinner. You know how he fusses whenever anything happens."
"I do. Why is Spot up here though?"
"Xander walked him up with the crawling guy. From what I heard, he threatened to shoot the dog too." Don growled and his dog barked. "He's been a good boy, Flack. He's well trained by that boy of yours."
"Good. Why didn't he take him home?"
"Ryan or someone told him to find you. I guess they figured you were back and would do that to check on the house."
"Okay, starting to make more sense." He looked at his dog. "Have you been out?"
"Two of the patrol guys who want to move to K-9 walked him," Frank said with a grin. "Even they said he's very well trained. So did the K-9 handler who came in with a drug suspect. So, if you wanted to go over there...." he offered with a grin.
"Xander wouldn't get to play with him anymore."
"Yeah, there was some debate about him being *your* dog or your boy's dog."
"My dog but Xander's home all day so he gets majority playing rights. Huh, Spot?" he asked him. Spot barked and licked him. "Good boy! I like that. Wanna go check on the ferrets?" The dog barked and wagged his tail. "Okay, we'll take you home and yell at the Xander master for not checking to make sure I could take you first." He put his dog down then stood up. "Come on, Spot."
"Can I borrow him?" someone called.
The patrol officer pointed at the suspect. "Him."
"Sic 'em, Spot," he ordered, pointing at the suspect. Spot looked at him then barked and ran over to look at the other guy, then lunged and barked, scaring the shit out of him, literally. "Good boy!" He came running back. "Good boy! Very good boy! I've got to learn your commands, don't I?" he teased, taking him outside to water the hedges before he walked him home.
Frank stood up and looked over. "That's a foul mess and yes, you have to clean it up," he taunted. The patrol officer shrugged and handed the guy a mop. "Good job."
"It worked earlier too."
"Did they train Harris in the same commands?" someone else called. "Does he heel the same way?"
"Fat chance," Ray said as he walked past him, smacking him on the head. "Xander doesn't follow orders unless it's something he wants to do. Besides, Xander's a lot like the puppy in other ways."
"Including the tail wiggling in happiness he does now and then when someone gives him a treat," Frank joked. Ray nodded at that. "I'm surprised we didn't see your guy."
"Nope. He's working with someone. He'll see Xander later and forget me for another night." He gave him a look. "Xander's his favorite student. There are days we should just bring him home."
"Why? Did you need that sort of sleeping help?" Frank teased.
"Only some nights." He sat down at his desk and smiled at his still-working computer. He'd have to buy Cooper a candy bar or something if this kept up for the rest of the week.
Ryan looked up from his dinner when Ares appeared. He took one last bite and stood up. "Eric's not here yet."
"That's fine. Have you been practicing?"
"When I can get time. Crime's hell in the city at the moment."
"I can see that." He looked over as Eric came in. "Get in here. You wanted to watch him spar?"
"I did. I need to know that my student can defend himself."
"Oh, he can," Ares assured him with a small smirk. "Very well. The same as he can defend Xander. I made sure of it."
"Good, then I won't worry about Xander as much either, but I would like to see him spar."
"Have him spar with Ryan. Ryan could use the space there anyway."
"Sure. Let me eat first?"
"Fine," Ares agreed, handing him Ryan's plate.
"Hey!" Ryan took it back and got Eric his own plate from the microwave. "Here, I made you some too." He sat down to finish eating. "Is Xander back from riding yet?"
"He put her back about an hour ago. Cleaned her down, did her stall. All that stuff. Just like usual."
"I knew he went to ride when he needed to think." He shrugged and they finished up then headed over with their swords. Not that Ryan didn't keep a spare blade over there, because he did. They pulled in and found Xander getting the door open. "Come on, we've got to show off for Eric," he offered. "Hey, again."
"Hey," he agreed, smiling at him. "You guys use the swords too?" They all nodded. "It probably helps with the kid's self-defense now and then." He walked the food inside and put it on the counter, smiling at the dog. "Do you beg too?" He went up onto his back feet, front paws raised and begging look in force. "Damn, you're nearly as good as your master."
"Treat can's on the counter," Xander called. Donny dropped a few for the dog, making him a happy puppy. "Thanks. Lawn, practice area, Ryan?"
"Lawn." Eric followed, going to watch. "Go ahead," he offered once he was sitting down out of the way.
"We're seeing who blinks first to see who gets to attack since we're both more defenders." Xander sighed and lunged slowly, making Ryan smirk.
"Do it properly, he said as he attacked, making Xander defend himself. Back and forth, dancing, tripping, rolling away when they had to, then Xander came up behind him and got him pinned against the bushes, rubbing against him. "No fair."
Ares appeared. "But it's a good strategy. Go again, boys." They separated and went again, teasing each other. He sighed and pulled his sword, jumping in, making them both defend against him. It was a good fight, both of them were on their guards, they worked well together. Xander managed to slip between them and inside his guard, stunning him with a kiss, that let Ryan rest his blade against his neck until he could pull back and breathe. "Down boy."
"But it worked," Xander offered with a shy grin.
"It did. They're more worried about your defensive skills." Xander moved the blade in his other hand, making Ares laugh since it was against his cock. "That's a good ploy, Xander."
"It is," Eric agreed, coming over. "Good job, both of you." He looked at Xander. "You didn't slip as much as usual."
"He won't with Ryan there. Unless Ryan's knocked out, killed, or someone's attempting to behead him," Ares offered with a smirk. "I trained him that way. He will fall seriously then. He may even still berserk. We're not sure yet."
"Then they're both beyond me."
"I said I'd work with you," Ryan reminded him quietly.
"I should." Ares nodded. "Fine. I'll work with Ryan."
"Good. Because think of what happens if that boy loses some of his family too soon," he said quietly. "You're the only ones he has left on this plane." He disappeared with that warning.
Eric looked at Ryan. "Did someone take them to where you guys were?"
"Not that I'm aware of. Not the person to ask, either. Let's go inside." He looked at Xander, who was grinning at him. "What?"
"I know you won and that means I'll do your hair tonight." Xander beamed and bounced inside, making Ryan shake his head. "Can I have my wrists rubbed later?"
"Sure," Eric agreed with a grin. "I know Don's come in with limp hands before from working on his hair over a weekend."
"Oh, yeah." He went in there, finding Xander down in the basement getting his hair wet. "Did we change the water since the last time you were down here?"
"Good." He slid out of his jeans and sat beside where Xander was, taking the shampoo he had grabbed and got to work on the mass. At least it wasn't as tangled as it had been the last time he had played with his hair. The last time it had taken him and Don both to get rid of the tangles after the herbal issues they had endured through. He looked over Xander's body. "You've gained it all back plus a few pounds, I'm proud," he offered.
"I'm not fat."
"I didn't say you were. It's definitely not fat." He worked the shampoo down to the roots then rinsed it all out carefully. Then he got to work on the conditioning treatment. It was the price for losing against Xander.
Upstairs, Eric flopped down, looking over at Don and Donny. "Xander won so he's doing Xander's hair for him."
"That's an incentive that would make me win," Donny agreed.
Don looked at him. "It's very soft and I like to think while stroking through it. I've solved a lot of cases while playing with his hair."
"They let you bring him into the office?" he taunted with a smirk.
"Only sometimes. Horatio laughs." That got one from Eric, who nodded. "Hey, it worked, did it not? I got the clue I needed to put the stuff you guys found and got a suspect."
"You did. We were all proud since none of us had one for you," Eric agreed. "Frank said he might try it next time."
"Frank probably would," Don agreed, shrugging. He looked at Donny again. "So, how's my city?"
"Doing okay. Your old precinct is very boring and the CSI are going to kill their new young ones. They're annoying and some of the patrol guys are going to hand them handcuffs. One did hand Taylor a set and suggested a muzzle for Monroe." Don snickered at that. Danny walked in and slammed the door. "Hey, look who's here."
"I saw. Hey, Donny." He patted him on the shoulder as he walked past him. "Dinner?"
Danny nodded, going to get whatever it was out. He wasn't sure he cared. He had missed lunch. He came back and sat down across from Eric. "The other two boys?"
"Ryan lost their sparring match so he's doing Xander's hair downstairs."
Danny laughed. "That's one hell of an incentive." Don glared at him. "You know he'll have him conditioning it, brushing it, and probably putting it in tiny little braids again."
"I hope not. I'll need his fingers to work tomorrow," Eric teased back. One of the ferrets pounced on him from above and behind him. "Hey!" He picked it up to look at. "George!" He put the ferret onto the floor, letting him run to pounce the other father. "Anyone see the other one before I get pounced again?" Donny pointed at the kitchen.
Don looked back. "Get out of there, Beauty!" he yelled. The ferret scurried away from the beer. He shook his head. "They're fun pets," he assured him.
"I'm sure the boy and they get along very well. He's basically a ferret in a people suit." They all laughed at that.
"I heard that!" Ryan called. "Isn't it time to sign up for the convention yet?"
"Next month," Danny called back. Someone tapped on the door. "What!" he yelled.
"It's us," Ray called.
"Get your asses in here," Don called. They walked in. "No one but bad guys knock around here, guys. Really. Ryan's doing Xander's hair."
"Always a treat," Ray said happily, checking the bedroom then going down to help.
"He's one, isn't he?" Donny asked. Don nodded. "At least he's low enough that he can work. Xander's like a scatterbrained fairy some days, all wing action and not able to figure out which direction he's flying." Adam laughed at that. "He is. The same as the rest of the time he's a ferret in a person suit."
"He is," he agreed. "I love the boy but he can be horrible," he assured them, going to help and check on Xander's mental state. He found Ray in the pool, naked, and enjoying it while Ryan finished rinsing out the conditioner from the roots. "Raymond!" His accent had come out fully on that one. He mentally shook himself for sounding like someone from PBS again.
"I said he could," Xander said, looking back at him. "It's fun and very relaxing." He stood up, letting Ryan wrap his hair in a towel. "I'll get the brush." He skipped up the stairs.
Adam looked at Ryan. "Have fun, young one," he said quietly. Ryan just grinned and went to pick out a seat for Xander to sit in front of so he could finish his task for the night. He watched his boy until he heard him gasping and panting, then pulled him off to finish him off. His poor boy needed more stimulation than water gently lapping around his cock and a thick pole up his ass.
Eric looked amused when Xander sat down at Ryan's feet, his hair swaddled in towels. Ryan pulled them off and slowly worked the water out then took the brush. "Did you dye it?" he asked, pointing at the towel.
Xander looked then pulled some of his hair forward. "Wow. I had prayed to get some white streaks so I looked a bit older."
"We'll see how it looks when you're done," Ryan promised, working the brush through the soft hair. He got a helper in his lap and looked down. "Hi, Beauty." He stroked her then went back to brushing Xander's hair. She squeaked and squealed at him so he picked her up to brush her, making her a happy ferret. He nuzzled noses with her and put her down, letting her run off to pounce George.
Danny put down his plate. "Toss me their brush, Don." Don tossed it over and he waved it where the ferrets could see, bringing them both running. They both went into his lap and were brushed, wiggling like some live wires were connected to their bodies but it was normal for them. "Good kids. Now, go play." They slid down him and went to investigate the hair things Xander had put onto the floor. He put down the brush and George came back to scoot over it time and again. "What? You itchy?"
"I cleaned the house today, they might be since they were shedding," Xander offered sheepishly. Danny looked at him. "I helped them with it."
"I'm sure you did. By hand from now on, Xander."
"Housekeeper?" he asked hopefully.
"After the last one tried to take you too?" Don snorted. Xander pouted. "We'll look again, Xander." Xander beamed and Ryan went back to pulling his hair back when he lost some. "Sit still." Ryan grinned at him but got back to it. Pulled back into a ponytail, then braided once the first jeweled clamp was put on. He took the second clamp from Beauty, getting angry squeaks. "You, behave." He patted his lap once Xander was done, getting a cuddle. "Good. Now, what are you doing tomorrow?"
"Going out of my mind?"
"Besides that?" Don asked patiently.
"I think that's all that's on my schedule." Donny laughed and nodded. "See, he knows we need a housekeeper too," he said, looking totally serious.
"I said I'd look," Don promised.
"Okay." He put his head down on his shoulder. "We went for a long ride. It was nice."
"I'm glad. From what everyone said you needed it. You were so stressed you left Spot at the station."
"I thought you were there."
"No, that was someone pretending to be me," Flack said dryly, looking down at Ryan. "The other deadly one."
"He's buddies with Xander. They're cute together."
"Xander is to stay out of trouble," Danny reminded him.
"Yes, dear," Xander sighed, then gave him an impish grin. "Even innocent trouble?"
"Even innocent trouble," Don agreed. "I'll call around about a housekeeper. If Speed's off you can see if he wants to do anything. If not, maybe their nephew's got the day off and you could have him."
"He's been skipping some," Xander admitted dryly. "We went to the arcade the other day." Everyone stared at him. "They were all too young to want me. I did kick his ass at Mortal Kombat though." He grinned, making Danny laugh. "I did."
"I'm glad you did," Danny assured him. Ray and Adam came up the stairs. "That is a fun pool."
"It definitely is," Adam said, sitting down and letting Ray into his lap. "He's much more settled now."
"We've got two guest rooms and Don's room," Danny pointed out. Adam smiled and hefted Ray into one of the guest rooms. He looked at Donny. "You can bum a room too if you want."
"Thanks. It'll save on motel costs." He yawned and stretched. "I'll let you guys get in your nightly cuddles. Night, Xander, guys. I'll let him drive me back tomorrow." They all nodded and he went to take the other guest room.
Ryan looked at Eric and winked, getting a smirk back. "We'll head home, guys. Thanks, Xander."
"Always happy to help you practice, Ryan." He blew a kiss. "Thank you for doing my hair."
"Welcome." He grinned and walked Eric out. He did stop to put up Xander's windows since it felt like it was going to storm. Eric had to walk both ferrets back inside and put them into the cage but they did eventually leave.
Xander looked up and kissed the underside of Don's chin. "Play with me?" he asked quietly.
"As long as you don't scream," he teased back. Danny gave them a fond look. "You in tonight?"
"I'll take your room. My back's still sore from the last time we played." Xander hopped up to give him a kiss then they went to their separate rooms.
Xander came in the next day for lunch, carrying a large box of food. "Get the elevator?" he pleaded. Someone got it for him. "Thanks, guys."
"Perm?" one woman asked, fingering the wavy hair down his back. He had it pulled back off his face but otherwise loose.
"Braided while wet." She smiled at that. "I don't mind the difference and I think it looks neat." She got on with him and pushed the CSI's floor for him. "Thanks. Lunch."
"I can see that. Got any extra?" He tipped it down and she took something that didn't have a name on it, giving him a smile. "Thanks, Xander. Oh, good work with the dog. He's a great dog." She got off on her floor, unwrapping her sandwich and smiled at it. She even liked this sort. She sat down at her desk and her partner gave her a look. "Harris is in for lunch." They all smiled. There would be extra, there always was.
Xander came off the elevator and the receptionist automatically paged someone and signed him in. "Thanks." He looked in the box then tipped it down. "For you, Sheila." She took her package of cookies, he had found her weakness. He grinned and waved a foot at Eric when he came out. "Lunch?"
"It's always appreciated." He walked him back to the break room, then called the others to let them know. He looked at his phone. "Frank said to save his and Speed's. They're on a scene."
"Sure." He put down the box and put those in the crisper in the fridge. It stuck so it was harder for the usual food thieves. The others came in for a nice lunch, letting Xander babble and cuddle whenever he wanted. Ray pouted when nothing had his name on it. "I didn't know what you wanted. There's a few different types by the tape." Ray found himself one and sat next to him, letting him lean on his shoulder and cuddle. "I heard from Tony," he told Don. Who smiled at that. "He's moving to Baltimore."
"That's a nice PD. I've worked with their homicide on a case." He bit into his sandwich, finding something in there. He pulled out the small chain and wiped it off. "Thanks, dear."
"Welcome." He beamed at Ray, then winked and handed him something under the table. "For you and him. Because he was more pouty than I am this morning." Ray snickered and nodded, eating another bite. Horatio walked in. "Yours is in the crisper with Speed's."
"Thank you, Xander." He got them both and smiled. "They're just now getting back. I'll send Frank up. I like the waves."
"Ryan lost our sparring match so I made him do my hair. He braided it while it was wet."
"It's cute." He went to get Speed his lunch and eat in his office. He had meetings this afternoon.
Frank walked in and got his own lunch, sitting down. "Thanks, kiddo. You look happier today. Have a good night?"
"He also chewed on me for half of it. I ended up waking him up and giving him a snack," Don said, making most of the others giggle, but Valera and the new girl Natalia both blushed at that. "He gets cuddle rights," he assured them. "It keeps him sane and centered." They smiled at that. "Danny, how's the back?"
"Still tingles now and then. I'm not sure what I did this time."
"Just don't blow a disc like Horatio did," Frank warned. "His still gives him trouble now and then." Calleigh squeaked at that. "It did," he reminded her. She nodded at that and stuffed her mouth.
Valera looked around then at him. "Detective, we *all* know why they go in there to have lunch when they close the door and the blinds," she assured him. "Kinda hard not to since they're over my lab." He grinned at that. "You might wanna stop the blabbering people however."
Natalia blushed. "It's good that they keep things out of the open like that," she agreed. "I'm happy if they are."
"Oh, they are, and nothing's going to change that," Danny assured her.
"Or else we sic Xander on them," Ryan finished with a grin. Xander cackled at that and nodded. "Nothing bothers his shopping buddies."
"I'll go with him," Valera offered. "He's got good taste and I need to do some holiday shopping."
"Sure," Xander agreed happily. "When's your next day off?"
"Okay. Call first." She nodded. "Call me on Danny's if you don't have mine. He's off that day too. We'll even take the corvette."
She smiled. "Sure, Xander. I'd like that." He beamed and looked at the others. "I know Frank's probably behind already," she teased.
"Not hardly. My wife drug me last month and again last night for the few 'just in case' gifts we get every year. No way am I behind in anything but wrapping and I usually pay the charity folk to do that. Xander, are you done?"
"Yup. I have been done," he said proudly. "Even if Don did find one of his and shake it." Don grinned at that. "He still claims he was checking for ferrets." They all laughed at that. "Anyone else need help? I'm supposed to help Speed but he keeps forgetting to have a day off."
"He's done that for many years," Eric advised. "I'll remind him later." Xander beamed at that. "Are you getting Ryan something I'll have to clear off a space for?"
"Nope. It's smaller than a breadbox. Oh, I ran into your ex today. I found her looking at my corvette. We got into a kitty fight."
"You mean a cat fight?" Natalia teased.
"No, she only swatted and hissed so I backhanded her. It stopped the kitten fight. She's not woman enough to cat fight." He looked at Eric. "I know you have better tastes than the tavern wench."
"I do," he agreed. "That's why she's an ex."
Ryan laughed. "At least she hasn't hit Aiden' car yet."
"She did. That's why she had two black eyes and was limping before I got there," Xander said dryly. "She said she thought I'd be easier. The patrol guy she went crying to got told that by Aiden since I was picking her up. Gloria didn't file assault charges and she's very sorry. She might even get help since the patrol officer suggested it." He ate a bite of his sandwich while they were laughing. "Seriously."
"I'm sure Aiden and she did get into a good fight," Eric agreed happily. Yelina came in. "Yours is still in the box."
"Thank you." She found her sandwich and sat down to eat with them. "What's going on now?"
"Aiden and I ran into Eric's ex Gloria. The one who likes to smash windows."
"Ah her," she sighed, shaking her head. "She did mine once too. I filed charges and they let her go with reparations." She dug into her sandwich, then pulled the chain out of her mouth. "Xander, I know the deli doesn't usually include presents," she protested.
"Quit fussing," he said firmly. "That's my job." She blushed and put it on her napkin so she could clean it later, but did check for anything else, finding the charm had come off. "That was on there earlier."
"That's fine. It looks like the links split," she promised. She checked, no links laying in the food so she went back to eating. "Have you seen my son today?"
"Not yet. I can go find him if you want."
"I'm hoping he's at school." She gave him a pointed look. "Instead of amusing you at the arcade?"
"He called when he skipped, I didn't tell him to skip."
"It's still not good for him," she said firmly.
"I'll remind him he'll turn into me if he skips too often," he assured her, making her choke. He made Natalia choke too. "I did. I had the record for skipping in tenth grade," he said proudly. "Books and I are not bestest buddies." He looked at Don. "Aiden suggested those programs where you do a degree from home."
"It would give you something to do and they've got to be more hands-on," Don agreed. "I thought you were going to take massage classes."
"I did." Danny put down his sandwich and looked at him. "I did," he defended. He pulled out his card. "See? Certified in my first style and everything."
"Good. You can always go back for more."
"I will. They're not offering anything I want to look at for another six class cycles."
"Sure," Don agreed. "Get information on the other stuff and we'll look at it, Xander." Xander nodded. "Preferably not the gun smithing option."
"You could do their computer stuff," Danny offered. "Then you can fix yours at home since it keeps going to the blue screen of death."
"I did that already."
"I haven't been on it in a week."
"Oh, that problem. I'm working on it." He patted him on the arm. "Don't run Windows Music thingy, whatever it's called." Danny nodded. "That and I've got to upgrade Norton since I think one of the places I upload stories I may have hit a pocket of virus."
"You write?" Natalia asked.
"I write smut." She blushed at that and coughed a bit. "Sorry. It keeps me occupied when I need it worn out."
"He did so good that people at the last convention went past the cuddle room to trade smut with him," Don said proudly.
"Cuddle room?" Valera asked. "Like a big pile of people?" They all nodded. She blushed at that. "That's...odd."
"It's very comforting," Don told her. "I got sucked in for a few minutes. Nothing else is allowed to happen in there but it's one big cuddle."
"The other stuff is in other rooms," Danny assured them all. "For those who need it and aren't getting it at home. Not paid or anything, just happens."
"And some suites," Xander reminded him. "A few swingers in the group." They all blushed at that. "The next one is in Vegas."
"We know some people from out there after a case, we'll warn them," Eric said with a grin. "Say hi to Jace for me."
"You could go," Ryan reminded him.
"I'm not a keeper, I can't go to the convention."
"No, but you could go to Jace's." Ryan looked at Danny. "Should I offer since I'm your backup protector?" He ate another bite and pulled out the other cufflink, putting it aside.
"You can if you can get the time off," he promised. "I know Xander was going to beg Horatio and Speed ta go again as his bodyguards. That way he could drag them shopping with him again."
"Just remember, no slots," Frank teased.
"No, I don't play electronic games unless I'm mad at the company," Xander assured him. "I'll go be evil at baccarat and point Speed and Horatio at machines, and Ryan if he can come." They all smiled at that. "Did you guys get to hear the Riverboat stories?" Valera giggled and nodded but Natalia shook her head.
"I'll tell you later while we're working," Valera said, grinning at him. "They went to be malicious to this company that had suspected ties to immigrant smuggling and sex rings."
"Xander got 'em busted for trying to kill him multiple times," Frank said happily.
"Plus I got that one person on the gaming board fired too for trying to set off my allergy on purpose," Xander said proudly. Frank and Don both laughed at that while Ryan patted him on the back.
"We're all proud of how you did," Speed assured him as he walked in. "Lunch running long today, guys?"
"I'm fascinating but you guys cannot forget to work while I'm here," Xander chided. They all went back to their labs, Yelina leaving her present. Don winked and took it, going to give it back to her and weather the rant. He looked at Speed when he got his water out of the machine. "I do believe I was supposed to go with you somewhere."
"I haven't had a day off," he pointed out, looking at him. "I'll be fine."
"No you won't. You wouldn't even look at my jewelry box the other day." He stood up and looked at his friend. "I know and he knows you want to give him something special, even though he doesn't know what, Speed. I'll gladly go with you and hold your hand if necessary." Speed nodded. "So, either call some night or some day. It's not like I'm a busy person and I could use the distraction from going insane."
"You need better hobbies."
"The only hobby shop I knew about closed," he said, shrugging a bit. "I'll figure it out and Aiden wanted me to go through one of those 'do your degrees at home' things."
"Some of them are scams."
"Not like I'm really going for a degree I can use."
"Point. Fine. Tonight?"
"If you're not working or have plans."
"Dinner in and I can be an hour late," he promised. Xander beamed and nodded. "I'll call when I'm done and tell you where to meet me."
"Sure." He patted him on the cheek. "Remember, just because we lean on you doesn't mean you can't lean on us too. We're all cuddly like that." He walked out then came back to get his wallet since it had fallen out. Then he went home.
Speed smiled. Xander was a spectacular young man and he deserved a permanent keeper some year soon. He went back to work, knowing he could get this wrapped up on time tonight. He texted Horatio that he'd be home a bit late but he was going to come home after some shopping. He got back a simple okay and it made him happy his spouse didn't ask. He knew it was for him.
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