A Warm and Happy Home
Xander walked sheepishly into the station, giving the guards a look. "Can one of you give Don this while I hide?"
"Crashed his car?" the guard asked, looking at him.
"Not exactly, or mine thankfully. No, Don's mom is down and no one told us." He laughed. "Thanks, guys." He handed over the note and left again in a hurry, going to take her back to the house.
The guard called upstairs. "Detective Flack? Your protectee just dropped off a letter for you and said your mother's in town? Sheepish looking. Already disappeared. Yeah. Thanks, sir." He smiled as he hung up. It had been cute.
Don hung up and moaned. "My mother's in town and she never told us she was coming." He got up to get the letter, coming back reading it. He ran into Calleigh. "Can you tell Danny my mom's in town? Hand him this?"
"Sure." She smiled at him. "Try to see her for lunch, Don."
"My mother's going to be fussing over Xander for hours yet. I'll see her when I go home on time tonight." That got a giggle and he got off the elevator at his floor.
She headed up to finish her trek back to the lab, handing Danny the letter. "Your mother- in-law is in town."
"Wonderful," he said dryly. "Which one?"
"Don's. Xander's mother is still alive?"
"Unless Ryan got her and didn't tell us, yeah." He walked off to his work area reading the note. Speed took it to look at. "Xander babble."
"I can see that." He handed it back with a smirk. "We'll make sure Don gets home on time tonight."
"Thanks. She'll pout and sigh otherwise. She'll be fussing over Xander's weight for hours so at least we're clear on lunch." That got a smile. "She and Alexx would be scary together."
"Good thing they won't meet until tomorrow night, huh?" That got a nod.
"Fed in the lab," Eric said from the doorway.
"Yay, even better news," Danny said grimly, gloving up to get back to work.
"What bad news did you get?" Eric asked.
"Don's mom is in town," Speed told him.
"She and Alexx won't meet until tomorrow during the housewarming. It'll give her time to fuss over the rest of you too." He walked on to finish his warning.
Danny opened his sample and got to work, shaking his head. This was not going to go well. At all.
Don walked in and smiled at his mother, kissing her on the cheek. "Hi, Ma." He grinned at Xander since he was in there. "Danny's behind me somewhere. Probably getting a beer before coming home. They had a pop Federal inspection today." Xander shuddered. "Yeah, so not a happy Danny or anyone else. Did you still need to shop for the open house tomorrow?"
"Nope, I was out doing that and making sure we didn't leave anything at the old house when I found your mother buzzing the gate."
"Sorry, Ma, kind of a sudden thing. The security was bad there and Xander kept getting stolen plus we kept getting broken into." He kissed her on the cheek. "How was your trip?"
"Good. A little bumpy but otherwise good." She looked at him. "Your father couldn't come down." He shrugged and walked her off, letting Xander have his kitchen back since he was nibbling on his lower lip and wanting to clean up whatever type of mess his mother had created. "Don, I think it's time we talk about this situation you're in," she told him.
He walked her into the living room then sat across from her. "Okay. What situation am I in?"
"You're living with two men, Don."
"I am. They make me happy and I'm doing good helping Xander stay calm and unstolen."
"I see. What about a proper marriage?"
He considered it then sighed. "Ma, with what I am, there's every reason and a lot of history saying that we're totally infertile. Besides, I don't want to marry someone to have to break up with them in ten or fifteen years because I've got to change who I am."
She looked at him. "Are you sure you're infertile?"
"Yeah, pretty muchly so. All the rest of the guys are." She sighed and leaned back. "I'm sorry, Ma, but even without that point, not like I've found anyone I want to date in a while. If I did, Xander's already told me to come to him and he'd let me. I'd fall back to being his protector and she'd probably end up living here with us."
"Is that wise with his lifestyle?"
"Mother, I'm just like him only a lower level," he said firmly.
"Excuse me?" she demanded, glaring at him. "Since when?"
"Since my rookie year when they found me," he admitted. "They've recently upgraded me due to some hormone surges from a level three to a five but I've been one since my rookie year."
"I don't believe you."
He pulled out his wallet and put his membership card in front of her. "Keeping him calm helps keep me calm and able to work too, Ma. It's good all around. If I found just one person I wanted to be with, I could, but I haven't found that one person yet. If and when I do, Xander and I have already agreed that I'll be more than welcome to go to them and be with them. It's not going to affect my job as a protector for him and we'll be more than able to live here if I wanted. Besides, if I did move, we'd have to share custody of the dog." She groaned and covered her face. "This is why I didn't tell you earlier, Ma."
"Fine." She looked at him. "So you're one of them too. What else does this mean?"
"My sweet tooth and bounciness that hit when I was about sixteen was from that," he noted dryly, making her sigh and shake her head. "It was. Didn't realize it then but it was." He shrugged. "To me this is natural and how I was born, Ma. Sorry but this is me."
"Will I never see you married?"
"If I find someone I like that way, yeah. If not, then probably not. I'm not going to force myself into a marriage with someone I don't like and respect. I'm not that sorta guy." He got comfortable and looked at the ferrets. "Are you two pretending to be asleep?" George lifted his head so he got him out to look at his stitches. "Hey, they're gone. Did the vet love you today too?" he cooed, bringing him down to pet, leaving the other door open. Beauty would let him know if she wanted down. Or she'd appear in his lap.
"What is that?"
"One of Xander's ferrets. The last attack had someone cutting him and breaking the dog's front legs. Xander, where's Spot?"
"Napping on the bed." He leaned in. "The vet took new x-rays. They're healing well. George got all but one stitch removed. He couldn't get that stitch because it was still a bit sore and George kept trying to bite him. I pulled it earlier. Let me go get Spot. He had a tranquilizer for the x-rays." He went to get the dog and carry him out so he wouldn't have to hobble again, letting him use the outside first. "Daddy's home," he cooed while he carried him into the living room. "There we are, one dalmatian." He grinned and went back to the kitchen, washing his hands of course. He found Danny sniffing pots. "The cabbage was her idea."
"It's done too." He drained it off and put butter into it, putting the pot onto the back of the stove. "How's everyone?"
"The stitches came out of George and Spot had to be tranq'd to take new x-rays. He's in with Don and George is down."
"Sure." He stole a kiss and smiled. "Were you good today?"
"Nope." He smiled proudly. "We forgot some stuff, like the study."
"So I called the movers you guys used and pointed out they had forgotten stuff. I'm meeting them early tomorrow morning to go get it. Now, go clean up and change if you want." He went back to checking on the meat and then the other things he was doing. Danny smiled and walked off, making Xander sigh. He knew something was going to change. Mother's usually made things change just when you got it where you wanted it. Don came in and he got a kiss on the back of the neck from him and the ferret in his hands. "Hi."
"Hi. Nothing's going on," he promised. "Relax. Calm down. Did Ma make cabbage?" He nodded. "Okay." He added more butter to the pot then got their sodas, heading back out there. "Cabbage is done and it looks like the rest of dinner will be soon too." He handed her hers and George gave him a look when the cold can hit his side. "Sorry, baby." He checked before he sat down, then flopped down. Beauty scurried over his shoulder, nipping him on the ear. "Hey, Beauty." His mother shook her head. "We like the animals, Ma." He looked over at Spot. "Poor guy." The dog barked at him then went back to watching the birds that liked to congregate on the lawn. It was cute. "He'll be chasing them soon." Danny walked in. "Hey."
"Hey. We forgot things at the old house?"
"I was wondering where the study went." Danny moaned. "I'm sure he's handling it." Danny nodded. "Good. Ma, you remember Danny, right?"
"I do. Mr. Messer."
"Hi, Mrs. Flack." He shook her hand and sat down to take Beauty. "Hey, princess, did you nap all day or did the daddy play you two ta death again?" George squeaked so he looked down and petted im too. "Hey, George. Good job on getting the stitches removed." The ferrets crawled all over him until Xander came out with plates. "I would've helped," he offered, putting them down between him and Don. He took his and Don's, then Xander went to get his and Mrs. Flack's plates. Xander sat down in his chair and Spots came over to beg. "You're going to ruin his training."
"He only wants to sniff, Danny." He let him sniff and the dog wrinkled his nose, going back to his bird watching.
"I've still got to learn his commands," Don offered.
"Standard police ones," Xander said happily. "He's a good boy." Spots looked and barked, his tail wagging. "Yes, you, you're a good boy." The dog started to bark and he sighed. "Sounds like the bird watcher's back."
Danny got up with his plate, opening the door. "Whoever you are, it's dinner time, go the fuck away." He saw someone in the bushes. "Either go away or I'm arresting you." He walked inside and put down his plate then went to get Don's cuffs, going out to pounce the guy. "Hi." He slammed him down and cuffed. "Warned you." He called the neighborhood patrol guys and they came to get him. "You guys know him? Xander said something about a bird watcher?"
"He was earlier. He likes to watch the birds during his lunch hour," the guy driving said with a smile. "This isn't him."
"That one's a harmless old coot but he'll complain if your dog runs all the birds off."
"The dog'll get bored with the birds soon," he promised. That got a smile. "It's like tv, he's bored with his casts." He handed him over. "Let's see who this one is."
"Oh, we know him. He's a reporter," the driver offered, handing over his wallet.
Danny nodded, then shrugged. "Okay, have the boys arrest him. Not like Xander's newsworthy or somethin'." He tossed it back. "Thanks, boys."
"Welcome, Mr. Messer, sir." They walked their suspect back to the car and let Danny get the dog inside. They did like having them there, they were polite and reasonable.
Danny carried the dog back inside once he had finished marking the bushes, then put him back in his favorite seat. "Sit." He went back to his dinner. "Reporter. Had him arrested."
"Good," Don agreed. "We need to put up a 'you trespass, you get shot' warning statement." He ate another bite of the cabbage, looking at Xander. "What?"
"Thinking." He ate some more. "So, how's New York?"
"It's doing very well, Xander. Are you going to let them visit?"
"It's not like I keep them in slavery. They can visit wherever they want to. They've even got some help down here in case someone else steals me while they're gone." He stuffed his mouth again. "Speaking of," he said when he swallowed, "Ryan's stable is getting sprayed tomorrow and he's got to work so they're moving his horse here for the next two days. It'll be in the back yard. With the trees."
"Need me to move the bike?" Don asked.
Xander shook his head. "I shouldn't. It's not supposed to rain." He saw the confused look. "She's allergic to the pesticides they use. Last month they put down some hay for bedding that had some on it and she swelled up like a balloon. So it's easier to move her here for a day or so and then bring her back."
"Interesting. How does an officer get a horse?"
"He was taken with me and it was given to him," Xander said with a small shrug. "They decided he was my bodyguard." He stuffed his mouth again.
"Don, does this stuff happen to you?" she asked, looking at her son.
"No, Ma, mostly only at the higher levels." She smiled at that. "Besides, all my hormones are worn out dealing with Xander's so I don't broadcast the way he does."
"Good thing too or I'd be insane and we'd have to live with Ryan all the time," Danny joked.
"Hey, I like Ryan," Xander defended. "That's why I gave him the balcony upstairs, so he can move in whenever Eric pisses him off again. That way he can shove Eric or Aiden off it the next time." They all laughed. "I do."
"I don't mind Ryan coming and staying most of the time. It's nice, the house is cleaned," Danny teased.
"Oh, that's the other thing I did. I found a housekeeper. I asked for an older lady who wouldn't want to kidnap me. Explained the problem. They said they'd send someone over tomorrow."
"Good," Don agreed. "I can't see how you'd clean this place since you didn't quite manage to do the laundry today."
"I was busy!" he defended.
"We'll do some tomorrow. Not like it's hurtin'," Danny pointed out. "All our friends will accept some dirty laundry tomorrow anyway."
"Not like there's a reason to be in the bedroom," Xander agreed. That got some smiles. And a furry helper crawling up his leg. "Hey, George." He petted him with one hand while he ate with the other. "Did you have a good day after we got home?" The ferret curled up on the bottom of his braid. "I know, you had a long day. It's time for snuggles and you've always gotten first hair rights." He scratched him gently then decided he was done eating so he put his plate down so he could check his side over. Then he undid his hair and let his baby sleep in it for a while. "You can barely feel the scar so we shouldn't have to worry when we brush him," he told Danny. Who smiled at him.
"Xander, when were you going to cut your hair?" Mrs. Flack asked.
"I don't know. Fifty, a hundred years maybe? I like my hair and others like my hair."
"It's not exactly what most men would wear, dear," she noted.
"Ma, I like his hair, jump off it," Don said firmly.
"Yeah, Xander's not the typical guy considering he came home from his last kidnaping saying he was queen of the amazons," Danny agreed, stuffing his mouth so he wouldn't laugh at her look. "See your mom?" he asked.
"No. I don't think Ryan cut off her head," he said, looking confused. "Why would he have? We saw Joyce."
"Heard about that," Don assured him. "She'll figure it out sooner or later. Some parents can live in denial." Xander nodded that she had in the past. "Are we cooking for the open house tonight?"
"Nope. I've had a long day at the vet's so I'm going to be a lazy bitch tonight. Most everything only needs to be warmed up. The few things I'm actually cooking only take a few hours." George shifted. "They won't like it since they'll have to be in the cage the whole time but we'll be fine."
"You can't seriously let them run around the house," Mrs. Flack protested. They all nodded. "But they'll get into things."
"They're ferrets, of course they do," Xander said, not looking like he understood what her point was. "We'll have them up tomorrow during the party so they can't sneak home with Horatio again and then into the labs."
"Or Natalia. They seem to like her and her cracker habit," Danny reminded him.
"True. How many crackers did you guys find spread around while they were loose?"
"Four or five, that's how we knew they were loose in the lab but couldn't figure out where they were," Danny admitted. "Took us two days too. Night shift never saw anything, even with the warning that they had escaped and were hiding in someone's drawers eating their crackers."
"The feds probably weren't amused," Don offered.
Danny snorted. "No, not in the least, but we did tell them it was a test to see if anyone could spot irregularities in the lab and if we had another rodent that could nibble on evidence. We also pointed out ferrets are mostly clean creatures. He checked everywhere for cracker crumbs. Mostly found stuff in night shift and Natalia's desk, her one for reports. Oh, Frank and Ray both found some in their desks too, so they got around some."
"I thought it was only a day," Xander said. Danny shook his head. "Two whole day?"
"Two whole days and they decided the litterbox was in the shift supervisor's shoes inside his desk. He was not amused," he said dryly. "He came back after a few days off and was very not amused when he slid into them this morning." Xander winced at that. "He's fine now. We bought him a new pair and apologized meaninglessly. He huffed off to chew rookie patrol guys a new one for no reason." Xander grinned at that and blew a kiss.
"We also heard that the used the plants by reception," Don reminded him. "They think they were in the elevator with people and they never noticed George." That got a smile. "He came storming down to our area and demanded to see the security footage. We showed him and I'm thinking that security was going to get nibbled too." Xander grinned at that. "They didn't plan for ferrets and they should've planned for mice or rats. We used to."
"We used ta have a monthly rat spot check," Danny agreed. "We all cleaned our desks and our lockers to see if any rats or anything had left little presents for us. The one time they did I swear Mac growled enough that the rats got scared and left." Don snickered at that. "He did! Swear to God, Don! Growled at everyone until they caught the poor escaped lab mice from the other lab. Growled at them too. If we had rats, they headed to your side to get away from him before he ate them."
"I remember hearing Squeaky now and then. He would run when Mac came over," Xander offered.
"You named the precinct rat?" Don asked. Xander nodded. "We needed ta get you pets sooner, Xander." Xander beamed and nodded.
"At least he didn't try ta bring him home," Danny offered.
"I did try, he escaped again and someone stomped on his head. Donny and the desk sergeant both gave me this horrified and dirty look for having had the rat in my hands. Donny drug me off and into the bathroom."
"He should've," Don agreed firmly. "How is he?"
"Better. He's set his sights higher, on Monroe. He thinks she's sweet."
"She's the sorta sweet that causes the toothache," Danny told him. Xander shrugged a bit. "We should go scare the piss outta the newbies."
"Stella finally got through to the new one. The one everyone thought looked like Ares in a really short skirt? Strife took one of the gift cards from the drawer and handed it to her because there was some gross things one day." They all laughed. "Sorry, friends in the New York lab," he offered with a small grin. He looked out and smiled. "Sheldon's here! I don't know why but he is." He bounded out to greet and hug him. "Why are you here?"
"I got sent down for a rest. They're going to drive me nuts. I can stay at a hotel if you want."
Xander snorted. "Get your ass inside." Sheldon smiled and headed in. "Up to the top of the stairs and last door on the right, Sheldon." That got a smile and a nod. "Guys, look who got driven insane this time."
"Hey, Doc," Danny said with a grin. "Monroe, Hirsute Woman, or otherwise?"
"Monroe and Hirsute Woman together with me on a case," he groaned as he sat down. He was pounced and looked. "Hi. I've heard about you, Beauty. Stella said you loved her hair." He stroked her back gently, watching as she sniffed his belt then ran off to play with Don some more. "Sure. Where's the other one?" Xander pointed at the mess in his hair. "Ah." He nodded at that, smiling some. "Well, it's better than it could be." He punched Danny on the arm. "Please come back? Pretty please? I'll beg."
"You could tell Mac you're talking to Horatio," Don offered.
"He told me if I did he'd beat me then make me work cases with Donna."
"I thought she was an Elizabeth," Don said, looking confused.
"She's going by her middle name since the new morgue assistant's name is Elizabeth too and she didn't want any confusion," Sheldon said, giving him a look. Don snorted. "The day Stella fixed her, she wasn't wearing panties, or if she was, the hair was hanging out of it and out of the bottom of her skirt, and she kept bending over for things." He shuddered. "Stella prayed really hard for that gift card so thank you, Xander." He shrugged and got the ferret free. "This woman looks just like Ares from that show cross-dressing as a woman." Xander cracked a smile at that. "Only wearing Aphrodite's clothes, and sometimes she dresses like Artemis in the leopard and lion prints." Xander cackled at that. "That's why she borrowed it."
"I'm not upset with it. I was told it was necessary, that's all I needed to know and that's more than necessary," he agreed happily. Danny suddenly shuddered, then Don popped him on the head. "Good for you?"
"Been wanting to do that all day since he tried ta give me a wedgie in the elevator this morning," Don agreed.
"You said you were in too good of a mood to scare suspects," Danny defended. Then he had to get up and run for his life from Don.
Sheldon looked down at the returning furry thing. "Hi again. They'll be back soon."
"If you kill him you've got to find Horatio a replacement and me once I quit pouting at you!" Xander called.
"Please don't pout," Sheldon said. "I don't make a good enough salary to defeat it by giving you good presents." Xander gave him a look. "I don't."
"I wouldn't make you." Danny ran back in. "He'll pout at all of us if you die."
"Not planning on it," he panted.
Xander took the direct route, pulling Don down to kiss when he came in with a wooden spoon, making him go gooey minded again. Then he smiled. "Don't make me pout by killing Danny, Don. After I was done you'd have to replace him in the lab and at home." Don shuddered and nodded, stealing another one before moving to swat Danny with the spoon. "That's hot," he offered. Danny gave him a horrified look and went to hide better this time so he couldn't be spanked. Don just smirked and let the ferret have the spoon for a bit. George came over to investigate it and Sheldon too.
Sheldon smiled. "It's okay, we know you warped the daddy, not the other way around." Don snickered at that and punched him on the shoulder. "I'm surprised the dog and ferrets don't have clothes on."
"Not allowed," Don assured him. Xander looked at him. "No."
"Not even just for the party?"
"No clothes for the animals." Xander pouted mildly. "Did you honestly buy them clothes?" Xander nodded, getting up to take Beauty and get her dressed. She came out in the pretty pale blue 'harem girl' outfit and Don had to take a picture of that. She even settled down in it. He got George and Spot dressed too, even a veil on Spot's head.
Don's mother laughed at that, but she left it alone. Her son could fight that problem without her help. Danny came out to show her up to a room and then had to wade in to help Don. It was just wrong to see a dog in a belly dancer's outfit. Even if the dog didn't seem to mind.
"There's the little creatures who got us a six-month review," Natalia said, smiling at the ferrets in their cute costumes. "Did the daddy dress you up?"
"Well, it'll be easier to see 'em when they run down the halls," Ryan offered with a grin for Xander. "Spot's not in his?"
"Danny and Don said he couldn't so I had to put on the other one. He's in the living room at the moment avoiding them." Ryan bounced that way, going to find them staring at the dog dressed in a Sheik's robe. Ryan burst out laughing and Xander beamed. "I let the animals have fun for the party too since these two need to go back into their cages."
"Let me," Horatio offered, walking them that way. Eric looked at them and undressed them, then went to get the dog free, weathering the growls. "Are you feeling naked?" he asked the dog, petting him on the ears. He got a groan and the dog tipped his head for more. "You and your daddy both do that," he teased, sitting down to play with him for a minute. Then the dog hobbled off to show his daddies his new outfit since Eric couldn't get him out of it without being bitten. "They'll do it, Eric."
"Good! That's just wrong!" He sat down, then looked at him. "Is Ray Junior coming?" Horatio smiled and nodded. "Is he over his desire to be Xander?"
"Mostly. He's still teasing her about it."
"What about the classmate Xander said he had?"
"She is," he sighed. "I've had Ray point her out to Adam, who got into trouble for watching her. He talked with her mother and she sighed and got her straightened out again. She's looking fairly high, maybe a seven or so." He smiled at Speed when he came in. "We got the ferrets out of their party outfits."
"Good. Don's working on Spot's." He sat down next to him, giving him a hug. "It'll be fine."
"I know it will be. Sheldon." He smiled and shook his hand. "Mac warned me not to tempt you to move down here."
"He would bite me," he agreed happily. "But maybe I'll get a raise out of it if I ask."
"Could be. You know, we do pay more down here."
"Plus, all the bikinis you can scope and a lot of pretty women," Eric offered.
"Don't tell my mother that, she'll pack me up before I can go back." They laughed at that. "She wants grandchildren to turn into real doctors as she put it." He sat down and saw the pitiful looks. "You two can get out later. When there's no chance of going home with Horatio again. Your daddy said so." He looked at Horatio. "It's tempting, Horatio, especially since the mayor's making threats about closing one of the labs. If he guts ours, I'm here."
"I'll save a spot for you," Horatio promised.
"But, you guys are tops in the city," Eric complained. "He can't do that."
"That means we've also got the highest salaries and the highest case ratio, Eric. Mac's fighting hard but he's only looking at it fiscally."
"If that happens, have him let me know immediately," Horatio offered. "Between myself and Grissom, we might be able to absorb most of you." He looked around. "I did get told we were going to split off another unit." That got a smile. "You might have to go back into the morgue for a while."
"If that's what it takes," he said with a shrug. That got a smile and Horatio got up to call Mac. Xander walked past him and handed him a phone.
"Use our dime. It's not like I can't afford it, Horatio. It'll be better than the cellphone. Call your boss first. Before he can make any rash moves."
"Good idea." He went to do that from the study, finding it there finally and together. "Chief, Horatio Caine. Well, yes there is a small issue. New York is threatening to cut a lab. You were talking about splitting one of ours off in six months." He smiled. "I can work with Taylor's team. They're mostly very nice. They're all well trained. True." He smiled. "They're right behind us in the lab statistics. So it's a trade off with the higher salaries of already trained techs, versus less time training. We can send them out without stretching my people further or Jesslyn in non-felony's lab staff further to train. He might. I know he's fighting hard. I can give you his number, Chief. It's on my cell. I just heard and was about to call him. He's fighting but their mayor is going on purely financial reasons." He smiled.
"It would be a coup and hopefully Grissom could use whoever we can't. A full lab, yes, sir. Possibly only a shift. I just heard from Sheldon Hawkes, who's down on a short vacation for the house warming party tonight. Xander's. Yes, sir, that's where I'm calling from. Talk to him, think about the budget, and see, sir. Of course. Thank you. Plus they may be able to bring other detectives. If not, perhaps Ray and Don could move to their shift, Danny might move back as well." He smiled. "They did come from there. Thank you, sir." He hung up and called Mac. "Fax me a staff list, a salary list, and who you wanted to bring with you. Yes, Mac, but we're talking about splitting off another felony lab." He smirked. "You'd have to work under me for a few months while it was finished off...." He smirked more evilly. "It would. It's also quieter down here, Mac. I'm sure. My boss wants that first. Sheldon, you, Stella, the lab techs. I'm at Xander's actually. Is the fax number here the same?" he called.
"Yes," Don called back, leaning in. "If they do, I'll go back to being their detective, Horatio."
"That's what I'd expect, Don, and to let Danny go back to them too if they wanted." He smiled. "We do. We have a Detective Kowalski from Chicago that just transferred in as well. We could share, Mac. Honestly. Plus if you were down here in April, we could all go to the convention with Xander." He smiled. "No, I meant all of us on shift who need to go with him, Mac. I'd never make you go to the GHS convention." He laughed at the noises he was making. "Of course. Send it to me tonight if you can. Thank you." He hung up and went to talk to his people. "People," he said, raising his hands. Everyone stared at him and he smiled, putting his hands back down. "New York is having a moment of terminal stupidity and wanting to close Mac Taylor's lab for financial reasons." Calleigh moaned. "Our bosses are thinking about splitting off a new felony lab. I know this means that some of you won't get the leadership you wanted this time, but do we have any real complaints?"
"Horatio, if I wanted leadership, I'd stab you and take over," Calleigh assured him. "Since I haven't yet, you're safe." He smiled at that. "Think we can get most of them?"
"I do hope so. If not, Grissom probably could."
"We could use some new blood and a new trainee," Eric reminded him. "You did get approved for a new level one."
"We did, and no one's applied yet." He shrugged. "I've sent a letter to Grissom and he's asking any of his people if they wanted to go." That got some smiles. "No objections?"
"Hell no. I'm next up for lab lead spot and I'd never get done with the paperwork," Speed reminded him.
"Plus, they'd probably be down here in time for the convention so we wouldn't be short- handed," Ryan agreed. That got some smiles for that idea as well. "Bring 'em on, Horatio. Just please leave Hirsute Woman and Montana up there."
"I'll try," he promised.
"Lindsey could be a very good tech," Calleigh defended.
"Yeah, if she got used to having things that weren't at home," Danny said dryly. "I can see her first day on the beach. 'Man, we really don't have those in Montana' at the sight of her first pair of really bad fake boobs." Don snickered at that. "Plus she and Hirsute Woman are getting together. It'd be mean to get one and not the other one. Since she's screwed up worse than I *ever* could?" He shook his head. "Mac was wanting me to come up and kick her ass once last week."
"She's a bit unpredictable," Sheldon agreed. "Some days she's on, some days she's far off in the stratosphere. No connection to earth anymore. And no, before anyone asks, she's not got a hedonistic bone in her body. The woman hates chocolate, called it a work of Satan a few times. Plus, she *really* needs to shave and wear underwear more often. I found one of her pubic hairs at a scene the other day." They all shuddered at that. "I told Mac and then he sent me down here."
"Sounds like someone's mother needed a firmer hand on the hairbrush," Mrs. Flack said.
"Yeah, could've helped," Sheldon agreed. "You just have to experience her, really." They all smiled at that. "We gave her a month, guys. Really. We thought she'd straighten out, see that her clothes weren't appropriate. Stella even worked on that point. Yet she still comes in wearing clothes that would make a porn star blush. All without shaving *anything*." Eric shuddered at that.
"Like I said, Sheldon. We pay more and you're more than welcome down here," Horatio said, patting him on the back.
"Someone come help me carry or you don't get to eat!" Xander yelled.
"Now I know we're family," Valera teased Danny, going to help Xander. She started by taking the dog outside and letting him sit with them in the lounging area Xander had put up out under some trees. The dog barked and hobbled after some birds but they moved a few feet away and went back to pecking the ground.
"Don't worry, Spot, you'll get one soon," Don called. He went in to help carry too, getting a smile and a kiss along with a tray and a platter.
"Xander, just because you can cook for an army doesn't mean you should," Natalia pointed out when she carried more things out.
"Whatever isn't eaten tonight is either lunch tomorrow or going to a shelter to feed others. Quit nagging." He took the last few things out of the refrigerator and took them with him, making everyone smile at the sodas, water, and lemonade he had. Don grabbed the lemonade, Valera got the sodas out of his bent arms, and Horatio took the water from him. "Did I forget anything?"
"Glasses but I've got 'em," Danny promised, going to do that. He heard stuff coming off the fax machine and went to gather it up, going to hand it to Horatio. "Here, I think this is yours."
"Toxic death to cops," Horatio read. "Interesting." He made a call but still filled his plate. If they needed to, they could investigate it. If not, someone needed to have the warning. "Mitchels, Caine. Mr. Harris just got a faxed threat. Yes, one of those. Do we know who?" He smiled. "As long as it's handled. Thank you." He hung up and balled it up for Spot to chase. "An officer's ten-year-old son because his mother's never home." He looked at the other figures. "You weren't kidding, we do pay better," Horatio told Danny.
"Yeah, a lot better." He passed down food to one of the techs. "Here ya go. Xander?" He came out with the playpen and put the ferrets, back in their cute outfits, in under it, then he sat down. "Did you have to dress them up?"
"They like them. It gives them a mental challenge on how to get out of them."
"They got enough of a challenge from avoiding detection in the lab for two days," Alexx assured him as she came over. "Sorry I'm a bit late. Had to stop and pick up the younger babies." She kissed Speed on the head, then Ryan, then Xander. "Sit, dear, let me get plates."
"Right over the sink and if there's not enough because I miscounted, the older ones are under the sink at the moment." She smiled and went to do that, coming out with stuff for everyone. Don got up and pulled his mother out of the way and moved the kid's picnic table over for the two younger ones, and Ray Jr. since his mother gave him a look until he sighed and moved. Xander grinned at his trouble buddy. "Has your mother reminded you why turning into me is a bad thing?"
"Yup, mostly with the cultists who wanted to kill you and the people who believe you're only a sex toy." Xander beamed. "I'll try to stay in school more often so I don't turn into someone's sex toy, Xander."
"Good boy, Ray. Then, if you can stay in for two weeks in a row, then maybe your mom'll let you help me pick up someone's birthday stuff?"
"Sure," he agreed happily.
"We are *not* doing a party for my birthday," Horatio said firmly.
"Mine's in four weeks," Don told him.
"Mine's in two but I only expect flowers since I'm not high on the spoiling list," Valera said with a grin at Xander, who nodded. "So, Don's or Horatio's?"
"Don refused to tell me when his was and I had to help other people get Horatio's because it was so heavy."
"Really?" Horatio asked Speed. "What am I getting?"
"I haven't decided yet." He pointed at Yelina, who nodded.
"What am I getting? So I know which room to make room in?"
"The living room, Horatio. I'd only ever get you anything for in there or the kitchen. All other rooms are too personal." She looked at her son. "No blabbing either."
"Of course not. I want to see his face when he gets it." He ate a bite and looked at Xander, who just shrugged. "Is yours going to be heavy?"
"I hope not. Though, if no one else wants cake privileges I'm either buying or baking my first fancy one."
"Bake away," Speed assured him happily. "I'll help you." Xander beamed. "I can definitely tell what you cooked and what you bought tonight. Bit too peppery in the eggs, Xander."
"Oops, sorry. Didn't mix it well enough?"
"Probably over measured or had some fall off the measuring spoon, I do that," Natalia admitted.
"My mother too," Eric sighed. "Speaking of, my mother has decided I'm making you up so she's going to make me bring her some day to pounce you guys." They all shrugged. "Sure. Horatio, helper."
He looked down at George. "You escape very well, George." He stroked him and smiled. "That's a good job. We'll have to make sure we don't lose you and you're back in your home before we go home." The ferret wiggled up his jacket sleeve, making him laugh when he came out on his collar, then went down his shirt.
Speed looked then smirked. "Now you know why West wiggled like she hadn't gotten any in years." Alexx swatted him. "She did!" He looked around, spotting the blue and white lump further off in the grass. "Beauty, wanna cuddle?" he called, putting down his hand and wiggling his fingers. She came running and he let her into his lap. "Poor girl but it does make it easier to find you."
"I was wondering if we were all supposed to be wearing costumes," Alexx offered, looking at the ferret. "So we meet again, cookie thief." The ferret walked over and nipped her hand then crawled up to nibble on her hair. "Uh-huh. You're affectionate. The boy must love you when you nest in his hair." Xander nodded. She pulled the ferret down with Ryan's help and let him have her.
"Come on, Beauty, we'll eat. Want some broccoli to try?" He put down a small piece in front of her and got back to eating. Spot barked and growled so they all looked.
Horatio coughed. "Do we know you?"
"He's mine!" he shouted, pointing at the end of the table that held Don, Horatio, and Xander. "I want him, now!" He pulled a gun.
"Which one of us?" Don asked. "You've got to be a bit more specific, and if you wave that gun again in front of the kids I'm gonna kick your ass." He looked heartbroken. "You came after me?" The man nodded. "Why?"
"Because you're such a good cop and you deserve the love of the people." He came around and knelt beside him. "I can take you away from this palace of porn they have you trapped in and let you live in a real home with real love, Don. Please let me love you."
Don stroked over his head. "I don't even know you. I require lots and lots of dating before then and since you brandished a weapon and threatened police officers it might be a while before you can do that." He gave him the pitiful puppy look. "I know it sucks but you did do those things and you have to own up to them. I could never be with a bad guy."
"I'll reform myself in prison," he vowed, giving him the most adoring look. Just like the dog had when he had adopted him. "I'll be worthy of you, Don. I promise I will." He got up and looked at Horatio. "Can you arrest me?"
"I can have you arrested." He called the station. "It's Caine. Can you send someone to Mr. Harris' new house? There, yes. No, someone has come up to confess his undying love... No, different target this time, but Detective Flack has pointed out that the person in question could never be with someone who brandished a weapon, Jessup. Thank you." He hung up. "He'll be right here. Sit." He sat beside Don and Xander gave him a piece of friend chicken. Horatio gave him a funny look.
"He can't use the gun if he's eating."
"True," Don agreed. "Thank you for going logical in that situation, Xander. It was better than your reasons why *you* should be queen of the amazons on that Xena show." Xander pouted. "By your reasons, anyone would've been better. You didn't prove why you."
"Because I'm good with a sword, I'm pretty good at planning minor things - which is all they need except for wars, and I can handle battles. I look better in leather than half the cast did. Plus we found out my mother's a gun toting bitch of a woman. She was clearly one of them in her youth before she started to drink." Horatio choked at that. "Plus in me they'd get that element of softness with enough hardness to make things happen for them. We could expand, make new tribes, go steal men from other villages. Some for me and some for them...." Don covered his mouth.
"The fact that he thought that out on the way back from Vegas, that should scare you," Ryan offered, smirking at them. "It was something he and Jace thought up."
"Yes, I already complained," Adam assured them all.
"Jace said I could be the child that got revenge on Jett for him bugging Joxer," he said proudly. Adam coughed and spluttered, then drank his mate's drink, making him look at him.
Ray shook his head. "I thought it was only you and Oz that went strange around Jace." He took his drink back and refilled it. "I can see you being Jett's geekier son," he offered with a grin. "Your thing for leather. How you handle a sword, but just geeky and strange enough to make him walk off muttering to the Gods about how this had to be a punishment and couldn't he kill someone for them to get out of it." Xander beamed proudly at that. Adam looked at his mate. "What? I watched the show. It was on when I got home most nights. The women's channel was good for that."
"We'll be talking later about myths and realities, Raymond," he said firmly.
"Sure, are you going to lecture me in Greek again?"
"I may," he assured him. "Eat." Ray smiled and dug in.
"You and Stella will love each other," Danny assured Adam. "She's new world Greek and she swears at us in Greek now and then in the labs." Adam smiled at that. "Haven't you met Stella?"
"Once now. She was a charming young woman. Very strong." He patted Ray on the back. "I'm sure he'll get along just fine with her."
"Can't be worse than my Stella was," Ray agreed. Then he stuffed his mouth again. "Oh, any mention of a crossover case and a DA Kowalski, it's my ex. Expect to me either stand and stare or run." He looked around. "Where's Frank?"
"His mother-in-law is ill so he's with his wife at her side," Horatio offered. "I'll let you hide in my office closet, Ray." He grinned at that. "Many of us have past relationships like that."
Everyone looked at Xander. "What? Just because I dated a vengeance demon? She was human at the time." He shrugged and ate a bite. Their suspect tugged on his pantsleg. He looked down at him. "What?"
"Demons aren't real." Xander concentrated and one popped up beside him. "Never mind," he said weakly. The imp disappeared. He looked at Don. "Please can't I take you away now?"
"No, they'd never let me bunk with you in prison." The man sighed. "Soon. You'll get right in prison and then we'll see, okay?" The man smiled and nodded. The cop car and the neighborhood watch guys came up and parked by the garage, getting a wave. "Come here. He's agreed he needs to get right in prison."
"Sure, Detective," Officer Jessup, one of the guys they worked with often, agreed as he came over. "Now, which one of them did you want?" He pointed at Don. "He's a fine man and a great officer. I hope I can be a detective like him too. Doesn't mean you should point guns anywhere near Alexx's kids, sir. She might've smacked you around." He handed it over. "Thank you. Now, let's go. You can finish your chicken in the car as long as you're peaceful." He nodded and Don helped him up, getting a smile. "Say you're sorry."
"I'm sorry if I scared any of you." He walked off after him, earning a smiling officer.
The neighborhood watch guys looked at Xander. "We'll do more patrols by your house; you're like Marianna, right?" He nodded. "Did you tell the head people? They should've told us."
"I did," Danny agreed. "He was coming home from being kidnaped to LA."
"I'm so sorry, sir. We'll do more patrols by your house. Remember, you can call on us instead if you need to." He walked back to his car, going to call his boss and ask why he hadn't been told there was a new GHS member in their community.
Xander beamed at Don. "See, and you get nice people who want you." He swatted him on the arm. "Better than some of mine."
"True, but being thought of as your harem is kinda cute now and then," Calleigh offered. She looked up. "No more of them?"
"Don't encourage it," Ryan said firmly. "Them arranging things with the banks and everything showed that they might need money. I don't need more presents to convince Xander of their worth. I had enough of a time explaining why I had gold dust."
"Sometimes you've got to lie better," Eric assured him, patting him on the back. "Alexx, are you all right?"
"Just fine," she agreed, sipping her water. "Does Xander get those?"
"Not usually as polite," Danny offered. "His usually start off with presents and then taking him to make their offers in person." He yelped when something soft hit the back of his neck and slithered. "That had better not be a snake!" he said, getting up to take off his shirt and shake it out. "What is that?"
"Well...it's snake jewelry, that moves," Calleigh offered, getting away from it.
Xander looked up. "If you're a snake, we're not physically compatible and you wouldn't cuddle. Fat chance." The snake disappeared. "Thank you." He sipped his lemonade and looked at Horatio. "Has anyone else come for you recently?"
"No, surprisingly enough. Then again I'm not as young as you two are."
Speed patted him on the back. "I'm still sending back presents after your back got hurt from your admiration society. Shut up about being old, Horatio. Before I have to spank or something." Horatio blushed and nodded. "Thank you."
"You two are so cute," Valera teased.
"Until they have the next fight at three in the morning," Alexx said dryly, looking at her adopted son. "Or will it not come wake me up this time?"
"Nope, we'll come wake Xander up," Speed assured her. "We've got a room we can borrow here." She smiled at that. "It's even got a good bed for when his back starts to ache." Horatio nodded at that and stuffed his mouth more full. He looked down at the staring male techs. "Say one word at the office and I will personally make your lives a living hell."
Cooper swallowed his current mouthful of potatoes. "How long have you guys been together?"
"Six years," Horatio told him.
"Some CSI some of us are," Cooper sighed, shaking his head.
"Took me nearly ten months to decide they were together," Calleigh offered. He stared at her. "Eric?"
"Almost a year. Right after that one kidnaping attempt. Then again...."
"That was work related," Horatio assured him.
"Good. We'd rather have work related. It's easier to find you." He looked at Yelina. "When did you know?"
"I hate to say this but just recently. My son apparently knew for the past four years." Ray shrugged at that. "When did Frank know?"
"I'm not sure. He's always been very discreet about it," Horatio admitted. "This changes nothing at work, ladies and gentlemen." They all nodded at that.
Valera coughed. "Horatio, your blinds are screwed up again," she offered. "I noticed the night shift person had them screwed up when I came in early this morning. She had them closed." He nodded at that. "She didn't have the curtain pulled either. I could tell and hear what she was doing up there. So you might want some lysol in the morning."
"Her husband is being deployed," Speed told her. "I'll make sure he's got some in the morning and show her those tonight." She smiled at that. "You can hear...." She nodded quickly. "I'll keep that in mind."
"Doesn't bother me. There's no padding under your carpet so whenever you guys go in there to talk about important relationship stuff, it's a nice thing." She looked at Horatio. "Take the ring." He blushed at that. "It's a sweet thing and look how hard he had to force himself to go get it for you." He nodded.
"Thanks, Valera. We'll be fixing that."
"It's good that you guys can talk about those things. That's the way relationships should be. It gives me hope I might one day find a worthy man and date him."
"You can have my son," Mrs. Flack offered.
She looked at her. "I can't keep up with your son, ma'am. He's about as hyper as the dog whenever he doesn't have casts on." Ray cackled at that. "Or him. They both run me ragged." She leaned back and looked at Danny. "You're adorable but you'd end up breaking my heart." She grinned and he laughed, nodding. "Good. Now that that's settled, I do take names and blind dates."
"I'll get to work with my sisters," Eric assured her. She smiled at him.
Ryan grinned at him. "You let your sisters date? I thought you were keeping them from that."
"I try but now and then Momma starts to wail about them being unmarried," he joked back, giving him a dry look. "You're getting it later." Ryan just smirked. "Are we camping over tonight?"
"We could. Not like I have a pet to go home to."
"You're never home."
"I am so."
"Okay, well, you do have a pet, you have the horse."
"Horses aren't pets you can nap on the couch with unless you're in a tent in the desert with an Arabian."
Eric moaned and shook his head. "We'll see." Natalia squeaked and looked at them, eyes wide. "Now and then," he admitted.
"Ryan, remember, they're spraying so your horse will be here for a few days," Xander offered, then he ate a bite of vegetable stick.
"True, it'll be easier to go for a ride."
"You're cleaning up the lawn, Wolfe," Danny said firmly.
"Of course I will. She's my horse."
"How did you get a horse?" Natalia asked.
"The last time I got taken with Xander."
"Oh. Do you let others ride her?"
"Now and then. She's a fiery mare now and then though. Tried to bite the person cleaning her stall the other morning."
"She was in heat too," Xander offered, grinning. "I'm not sure if they let her loose or not."
"Not a clue, but a foal would be nice. Oz and I had a lot of long talks about our horses." Adam moaned and put down his head. "Sorry."
"That would require you have a stable to take care of her at, Mr. Wolfe," Horatio said firmly. Ryan gave him a sheepish look. "Not just letting her roam free."
"I know." He shrugged. "We'll have to see, Horatio. I like where she's at right now and I get out there at least three days a week. If I could find stable space closer I'd ride her in the park."
"You need to move to New York, you can do that up there," Sheldon offered.
"I'd get yelled at and Xander would have to follow."
"Never mind, we'll convert a garage or something," Sheldon promised. Ryan grinned at that. "Speaking of, Richie said hi, guys."
"Tell the irritating sprout I said hello back," Adam offered. He looked at Xander. "Anything stronger?"
"Not in my house."
"Sorry, I forgot." He looked at Ray, who kissed him, making him smile. "Even better than a beer." He went back to eating, making the others smile. "Convention registration starts next week," he announced. "Xander, I've already told the hotel that you will be coming and that you will stay off the electronic machines. Please do so."
"Unless they piss me off," he assured him. He grinned. "Jace wanted to see Danny during it."
"Of course she did." He looked at Horatio, who nodded. "Thank you. We would like to retest some of the members in GHS for levels this month. We've recently refined the test for those who were borderline cases before."
"Plus the lack of stress can easily unhide you," Don agreed dryly, saluting him.
"Stress keeps it down?" his mother asked.
"It kept me at a level two for years, Ma. Then when the stress broke, because I had Xander and things were getting easier down here, I was upgraded to a level five." She moaned. "Sorry. I'm not the only one in the department at least."
"Ooh, I still need to see Tony about those spas," Xander said. "He called me back and said one was okay now and the other two weren't sure about out-of-town people investing." He grinned. "Plus, the new class starts next week?" Danny shrugged and nodded. "Are we sure it'll be okay?"
"Text us when you leave, when you get there, and then when you leave and when you get home again," Don ordered. "That way we can make sure you haven't been stolen." Xander beamed. "What about Spot's training?"
"He's only missing the last two classes because I was puny those weeks."
"Good. Can he take the refresher and graduate?" Xander nodded. "Good. I'd like to see his graduation ceremony. Hey, Spot, come cuddle, dog." His dog limped over and sat beside him, letting him pet him. "You're a good boy. When you're better you can go back to classes with the other dogs."
"You can go run in the park," Xander agreed. His tail started to go. "Good boy. Once your legs are better we can go run in the park with the other dogs again. All you have to do is get better." The dog started to worry at his casts. "Quit," he said firmly. He got a small whimper. "I know they itch. I've had one of my own, dear. Quit anyway." The dog laid down beside the daddy and let him feed him treats from the table. "Good boy." Xander handed down a part of his hamburger, getting a happy dog. He looked at Don. "I want him to have puppies some year." Don moaned. "Tough."
"Let's keep adopting from the shelter, that way there's always animals that need love," Danny countered. "That way you're helping animals that could use the help." Xander pouted. "I mean it." Xander slumped and sighed. "You can do a lot of good with the pound, Xander. They've got to put some down now and then." Xander nodded, looking sad. "When he's old and gray we'll see." Xander nodded, getting up to give him a hug. "Thank you. Now eat. You obviously didn't eat for Ryan and Adam while you were gone."
"I did so. Adam even got me mousse and stuff."
"That's a treat, not food," Don ordered, pushing the food closer. Xander dug in again. "Thank you."
"You have him well in hand now," Horatio assured him with a smile.
"Yeah, but you're still family," he pointed out. "Otherwise we'd all be hiding."
"Probably true," Speed agreed. "Speaking of. That emergency fund...." Xander glared at him. "We did set it up for that."
"Thank you. We all need those." Danny nodded at that.
Adam looked at them then at Xander. "Steve can help you with those plans, Xander. I promise."
"Good because my emergency card farted at me while I was in LA and I only used it for some minor clothes and the hotel."
"We paid it off and straightened them out," Danny promised. "Plus now we know to get Ryan a better emergency pack for you, like Don and I carry." Ryan nodded at that. "They're on their way." Ryan smiled at that. "How did you get past the ID thing?"
"The Sunnydale office at the DMV was very understanding and we've got a copy of his old one with a two month expiration date. They were certain he'd be flying out after dark and it wouldn't be a problem for a very long time."
"Gotta love how they cater to some populations," Xander agreed dryly. They all smiled at that. "Did the bank have a heart attack about the house? I heard mortgage mentioned."
"That was temporary so we could get the funds authorized and transferred over," Danny promised. "It was all straightened out already. They'd only let us move in faster if we went through with the mortgage paperwork and paid it off that way." Xander nodded at that. "So it's fully fixed. Nothing's left hanging. You've got to get the bills switched over to this address."
"They're on in my name at the moment," Don offered. "So was the old house and you never got those switched, Xander." Xander gave him a sheepish look. "Well, I guess it does go toward credit rating. Switch it over to yours since you have this nasty habit of forgetting the bills."
"Good. Thank you." He grinned at him. "We got you ice cream." Xander smiled and dug in again. He looked at the lawn. "Then we'll figure out how we're getting the grass cut here."
"Unless you're going to get your happy butt on a riding mower," Xander started. Don gave him a look. "I'm not the maid."
"You're not," he agreed. "Or the gardener." Because Xander would probably end up killing the plants mostly. "We still have to find one who won't try to take you."
"A few kids in my class work at a gardening place over the summer, I'll ask them," Ray Junior offered. His uncle smiled at that. "It'd be good money for them and they're too young to want to take Xander for real."
"They should be," Horatio agreed. "Plus it is a good opportunity and they'll get to make some money." Ray smiled. "No, you're too young for even a summer job."
His mother considered it. "Day camp or a real camp, Ray?"
"Day camp here in town."
"That I wouldn't mind," she admitted. "I think you're too young to be one at the real camp." He nodded. "Then we'll look at the restrictions and we'll see if you're eligible."
"Sure. I need my CPR card."
"We can make sure you get that," Xander assured him. "I have to get mine renewed." Ray smiled. "It's a good skill to have. Especially since I seem to make people choke." The techs all laughed at that. "I do. I also hear a car." He looked over when Frank's car drove up. He waved him over. "Come eat, Frank."
"Thanks, Xander. My wife wanted a few hours alone." He came and wiggled in next to Speed. "So, anything good happened?"
"Someone came to confess their undying love to Don," Calleigh offered with a bright grin. "Unfortunately he had a gun he pulled so he'll get that part of him straightened out in prison and learn how to woo him there as well."
Frank grinned at Don. "The patrol guys are going to razz you for weeks, Flack."
"I know but I'm too cute not to want," he assured him smugly. "Everyone should want me."
Valera looked down at him. "If you weren't taken, I'd beg. You seem to give good cuddles." He gave her a hug, making her grin. "You do give good cuddles. Thank you."
"Welcome. That's what I started out doing for Xander. That and keeping him at home."
"Quite often," Xander agreed dryly. "Any news on a protector when I seriously have to get out of the house?"
"Yup. Not for another month though. He's on injury leave and Donny's already talked to him," Danny told him. "This'll be for those shopping trips of yours. Speaking of, I found one of your shirts in my closet again?"
"It loves you," he said with a grin.
"Uh-huh. Keep the ugly and loud shirts away from mine before they breed and have more printed shirts, Xander."
"He has loud shirts?" Natalia asked, looking at Xander's understated blue outfit today. "Really?"
"He has a hawaiian shirt collection," Speed told her. "It's apparently all he used to wear, that and baggy jeans."
Xander shrugged. "I wore them as overshirts."
"I've seen the pictures," Horatio assured him. "You have better taste now and know how to match colors if you must wear one." Xander beamed at that. "That is not an excuse to come in blinding everyone, Xander. I still remember the lime suit."
"Sorry, but it's a very hip color."
"Not for you or me."
Xander grinned. "But you looked cute. Kinda like Kermit but cute." Horatio pulled him over and swatted him, then let him go. "Ow. Meany. You can't spank me, I'm not yours."
"Let me handle that later," Danny assured him. "There's punishments that work on him." Horatio smiled.
Speed looked at his mate. "Lime?"
Xander nodded. "He looked like a tree frog but I thought I looked okay."
"No one looks good in lime green," Eric said firmly. "Except for some very dark skinned women I've seen." Alexx nodded at that. "So no, no lime green. You'll look bad next to me and then I'll never hear the end of it from Aiden."
"Or me," Ryan assured him.
"Or you," he agreed. "She'll be louder and drown you out though."
"Well, yeah. Aiden's louder than all the other New Yorkers I know combined some days." Danny laughed and nodded. "Where is she anyway?"
"It's new collagen day. She's hiding," Don told him. "You'll see her in two days." That got a wise nod.
"I thought those were natural," Calleigh admitted.
"No woman is born with lips that big, Calleigh," Alexx assured her. "If they are, it's a birth defect." She smiled at that. "I've even seen ones bigger than hers. Seriously overinflated." Horatio shuddered at that. "Yeah, she came back. Her sorority sister died of natural causes so she had to ID the body. I nearly ran the other way." Her kids stared at her in horror and awe. "You'll run from those lips too." They just nodded.
Ray looked at them and held his hand out about a foot from his face. "Serious lips." They giggled. "Really." Yelina nodded at that. "Uncle Horatio, who'll have to come down if the lab in New York comes down?"
"Probably Mac or Stella since they're in charge," Sheldon offered. "You won't have to be scared by Hirsute Woman." Alexx swatted at him. "You think I'm kidding?" He pulled out a group picture and showed her, making her shudder. "She wears these micromini skirts and no panties. She's never shaved anything. She's worn some skirts that the hair underneath fell out of. I found one at a scene on a body," he admitted. She gave him a horrified look. "Stella even helped her and she still wears clothes that would make porn stars blush."
"Ooh, I wanna see," Danny offered. The picture was handed down. "You're right, she does look a lot like Ares in Artemis' outfit from that show." He handed it on.
Don looked and shuddered, handing it to Xander. "I hope Montana's nagging her that I'm more elegant and better looking," Xander offered, handing it on and calling up there. "Stella, baby, give Lindsey permission to use me as a taunt against what's-her-name," he offered. "Yeah, that one. Well, I am more elegant, I've got better hair..." He grinned at her laugh. "I do. I'm feeding Sheldon. Horatio's here." He handed it over. "The mortal Goddess."
"Stella?" He smiled at her continued laughter. "He would know, Stella. What's going on?" He nodded. "I have them and I'll bring them to my boss tomorrow. No, he's wanting to split off a new felony unit." He smiled. "Which would be perfect. We'd have many of you with us while the convention was going on and you'd have time to get used to the city with us showing you around before you went out on your own. Of course. He's getting his plans set now and I've got the figures Mac sent me. Of course. Even if we can't, you know you, Sheldon, and Mac are welcome, Stella." He smiled at that. "If she'd want to but I'm not sure she could understand Miami's culture. We're a different sort of laid back here." He nodded. "If he thinks it's best." He smiled. "Of course I will. No, Don said it's collagen day." He laughed. "I'll send her your love as well. Talk to you soon." He hung up and handed the phone back and the picture on. "She might want to bring Lindsey."
"She'll nag the fake breasts," Don told him. "Plus she'd die in the heat. They definitely don't get humidity like this back in Montana. She nearly died her first summer up there."
"She did, and we all glared at her for complaining because each time she nagged, the A/C broke in the labs," Danny reminded him.
"I forgot about that," Don admitted with a grin. Calleigh giggled. "Seriously."
She pointed. "That." He looked and watched the two ferrets pulling on the dog's casts for him. "Don't do that. He needs those so he can run and jump and play some more."
"Casts are a pain in multiple ways," Xander reminded her. "C'mere, guys." They came over and he petted his babies. "I know it bothers him but it'll be okay. I promise." The ferrets got back up onto the table and ran down to investigate someone else's plate. Cooper had to hand over his roll to Beauty and Ryan got George away from his corn.
"Mine, George. Go eat someone else's dinner. I missed lunch. Go snuggle up to Alexx. She's a mommy and will feed you." He pointed and George headed that way, sniffing the plates. A bit of roll was put down in front of him and he stopped to nibble it then looked at the person, getting a smile.
"They're clearly as troublesome as Speed but loving pets," Alexx decided, adding more roll. The other one came over, through the potatoes, to see what her buddy was getting. Ryan took the stuff from on top for his own plate, letting the others have the rest. It got him smiles and he shrugged.
"I'm used to them. Don't feed them meat. They eat kitten chow." That got a nod and Alexx removed the piece of hamburger, but replaced it with some vegetables. He looked down at Xander. "We need to add more beans to the pan of them inside and buy more litter. You're nearly out again."
"Sure. We can do that," he agreed happily.
"No, *we* can do that," Danny assured him. "You might come home with more animals." Xander pouted. "Tough. Three is enough."
"So I can have another ferret?" he asked.
Don laughed. "If I can find you one, Xander." Xander kissed him, making his mother and him both sigh. "Thanks. Behave."
"Try harder," Danny teased. "Speaking of, what are you getting me for my birthday?"
"I haven't decided yet. It's between two things." Danny smirked at him. "Only one of them could you possibly use to spoil Don and I."
"Sure. Maybe you'll let me have some input?"
"Into your own present?" he snorted. "Yeah, right, Danny. Do you need to be tied down and washed off so your fever doesn't make you thrash?"
"No, I'm pretty normal today," he admitted. "Come here." He got up and came over, sitting in his lap. "Food?" Don handed down Xander's plate and got the dog to cuddle for now. "Eat." Xander dug in again, letting Danny pat his back. "Sometimes the mundane things get away from him."
"I've seen that during a few lunches," Frank agreed. "He'd feed everyone else, cuddle those who let him, and then he'd totally forget to eat his sandwich."
"Those things happen to GHS members," Adam promised. "That's why we have keepers." Speed nodded at that. "After the first few died in places like the pool in the basement, we knew we needed someone to take care of the mundane while we were lost in our pleasures. Xander's being forced to do much more than most level eights are," he offered. "Then again, most keepers for level tens like Xander don't work. They have their hands full." Danny nodded at that. "Even if there are usually more than one of them." Don's mother and Alexx both moaned at that and Alexx blushed. "It's true. Most of the other level tens have a true harem in the old sense of the word."
"See, I'm doing great," Xander assured Danny, who nodded. "But can someone else take over the bill paying? I'm still getting headaches from that stuff."
"I will," Danny promised, stroking his back. Xander beamed at that. "Go give tours."
"I want to see this bed," Cooper agreed. "Do the ferrets mind it?"
"George won't go into that spot he was bleeding into before but he crawls over the rest of us to nest in Xander's hair most nights," Don told him. They smiled at that. "Take them in to cage them?" Horatio and Speed nodded, gathering up the nibbling little spoiled ones, taking their treats with them. Xander led them all around the house and a few snuck down to the basement coming back looking very shyly at Xander, who could only grin and shrug. Don looked at Danny since they were mostly alone. "Spanking?"
"I'm thinking worse, leaving him hanging," he offered. Ryan snickered from his spot down the table. "What?"
"I tried that when he decided he had to have chocolate and went out in the storm in LA," he offered. "He pouted and flipped me over."
"See, that's where two of us come in handy," Don told him.
"I'll have to remember that." He grinned at the trailer pulling up, going to unload his horse. "I thought we were going to move her tomorrow."
"I was but she was making the other horses restless since she's in heat. Are you considering breeding her?" Ryan nodded. "She's got some fine lines in her if you do."
"I'm still considering it. If there was temporary birth control I'd use it."
"I know you would, Ryan. You're very good to her." She patted the mare's side. "Let her roam if she's not going to have a stall here." He unclipped her lead and let her roam. "Now, I've got some hay and some feed for her." They unloaded it into the garage and she smiled at him. "I'll be back in a few days for her. After the fumes have died off."
"Welcome. Want her tack?" Ryan nodded so she got the saddle and bridle from the front seat, letting him have them. "There you go. Have a good ride and watch out for any dips. She can still turn an ankle." He nodded and she got back in after making sure the trailer was closed.
"Hey, Don, can I put her saddle on your bike?"
"Go ahead. It won't make it smell, right?"
"It's leather, Don. Leather and lamb's wool."
"That's fine." Ryan went to do that and Don grinned when the horse came over to sniff the dog. "That's Spot. Be nice to him, he's injured." The horse nuzzled the dog then walked off to look at the rest of the table.
Ray Junior came out and went right to her, petting her gently. "You're very pretty but get your nose out of my plate please." He handed over another carrot stick, making her happy. "Let Uncle H spoil you." He led her off, she allowed it, and right up to Horatio. Who stared, then got an apple for her. "She was helping me finish my plate." He went back to his dinner, finishing it up.
"She probably shouldn't be in the kitchen," Speed offered when he joined them. "Outside, horse." It looked at him. "Come on. Give me a treat for her." Horatio handed over his and he showed it to her then walked her out using it, letting her have it outside. "You can't live in the kitchen. Even if the boy does say so." Xander came out and hopped on her back, walking her off with her mane as reins and a quick nudge of his heels. She trotted back to the trees and Ryan got up to set up some of her grain in the buckets, along with some water from the table. He spread some hay out as well. She settled in to nibble and relax while they went back to the table.
"She's a good looking horse," Frank offered.
"She's a great horse," Ryan agreed. "Very loving if she likes you. Every now and then she likes to bite the stable guy because he works nights in a meat packing plant and she doesn't like the smell of blood on him. He knows this though." His horse wandered back over and he stroked her chin for her. "Good girl. You stay outside. No going into the house."
"She'd better not or your cleaning up the mess," Danny called. He shut the kitchen door and came out another entrance. He sat down again and looked around. "Where are Horatio, Speed, Don, and Xander?" Ray giggled. "Ray?"
"Uncle Speed wanted to see the basement. They're showing them things."
"I'd hope you didn't go down there," Alexx said firmly.
He rolled his eyes. "Please, Alexx. I do know what gay guys do to each other. I mean, hello, have seen movies, tv, and music videos. Plus a friend's porn. Plus walked in on it once. I'm not the baby my mother thinks I am."
"I wish you were, son," Yelina said firmly. "Which friend was that?"
"Not like I'm gonna tell, mom. You'll try to nag his parents. Since they won't appreciate him being gay, I'm going to keep that secret until he's ready to tell them. Or until they find out and we've got to hide him from their flaming pitchforks."
"That one," she sighed. "I can accept that, son. If he's in danger, he can have your floor and your sleeping bag." His son nodded at that. "Either of them since I believe another friend may be."
"Well, yeah, but I knew that already. He's known since he was five according to him." His mother sighed and shook her head. "He's always been pretty anti-girl. Puberty just confirmed it, mom." Horatio and Don came out chatting and Speed walked Xander out, who was button up his shirt. "Hmm." His mother glared at him since he was too far away to swat. "I'm wondering if he got another tattoo in LA."
"In Vegas," Ryan sighed. "Jace went with him." They all smiled at that. "Not like I could stop him."
Danny looked down. "I remember seeing it. Figures, it's Jace's style." He looked at Xander. "Showing off the little paw print?" Xander grinned and nodded. "Good. Now, come here and eat." Xander sat down in his lap again and went back to nibbling. "Thank you!" He added more to his plate then handed him back his fork. Xander gave him a look but did dig in for his pleasure. "You can wander around the yard with the horse and the dog tomorrow."
"I was going to teach the ferrets to ride in a saddle bag." Ryan looked down at him. "Can't they come?"
"We'll see." He looked at Danny and Don. "He wanted to see that area with the other self- defense technique."
"How long would you guys be gone?" Don asked. Ryan shrugged. "In our time?"
"Maybe a week at the most. Which means Xander would miss the start of his class."
"It'll be offered again in another few months."
"Fine," Ryan agreed. "The next time I've got major time off we'll go."
"You get shot again and I'm going to kick your ass," Eric assured him.
"I didn't want to be shot the last time."
"Uh-huh. Still had better not happen again."
"Eric, I was in the parking lot."
"I know that. It had still better never happen again."
"Yes, dear," he sighed. "I'll make them shoot at the hummers instead. Somehow." Eric smiled at that.
"That would lead to much paperwork, Mr. Wolfe," Horatio warned.
"I know, boss. But you heard him, I can't be shot again and I can't let anyone else be shot again. The hummers and cruisers are the only alternative."
"Get the cruisers shot, they're used to it in Auto Detail," Speed offered. Ryan smiled at him. "Dive behind one next time."
"I did last time, still got hit in the arm." Xander got up and walked around to hug him, whispering in his ear. "Behave."
"I'm trying." He went back to his seat. Danny handed down the plate and he dug in again, shaking his head. Alexx smiled at their byplay. "It's good he loves me."
"It is," Danny agreed. "You'd be on a feeding tube otherwise." Xander finished his plate of food and pushed it aside. Horatio stacked it with his so he could avoid the dreaded 'eat now' command from his own keeper.
Speed looked at him. "Won't save you. Dessert?" Xander beamed and drug him inside to see, making his moan float out of the house. He brought out the chocolate souffle and Xander brought the newly melted gnosh made with the good chocolates from the place they had gift certificates to. "He used the *good* chocolate." Horatio moaned and accepted his plate of dessert and dug in with a deep, growling moan. He smiled at Xander. "That was a 'good job'," Speed interpreted. He ate a bite of his own and purred, licking his spoon. "Very well done, Xander. Just right."
Don nearly came when he ate his first bite. "Oh, damn," he moaned, then he hugged Xander. "I love you for spoiling us." Xander smiled and dug in, licking some chocolate off his finger before taking a bite, groaning some as well. The rest of the table watched who else moaned. Ray and Adam both. Frank held his in before any rumors got started. Calleigh sighed in pleasure. So did Valera. Natalia just swooned and the horse came over to nibble on her hair for her. Ray Junior's moan made his mother stare at him.
"It's good," he defended.
"If he should turn out that way, Yelina, I'll have him tested and mentor him," Horatio assured her. Ray gave him a scared look. "More moments of scatterbrained confusion?"
"Not really. Huh. Then again, I haven't had sex yet."
"Once you do, let us know if you turn out like your friend," Adam ordered before taking another bite. He gripped Ray's thigh to keep from coming then and there and embarrassing himself. Ray pried the fingers off and kissed him, then ate another bite. "Xander...."
"Use the room across from Don's. That's traditionally Horatio and Speed's if they stay over. Last one on the left is Ryan's and Eric's. Last one of on the right is Don's mother." They hurried up there with their plates, and he smiled, eating another bite. He was unashamed of how his body was reacting. Don hauled him up and took their plates inside to their room a few minutes later. He ended up on his knees licking him clean, then spreading more on him to eat it off his cock. It made Don whimper and clutch the bedframe but it was good and he came too.
Danny licked his spoon, looking down the table. "They'll be fine," he assured them. Horatio blushed. "You have more control than Xander."
"I do," he agreed. He finished up his treat by gripping Speed's thigh. Speed's hand on his thigh wasn't so much gripping as kneading. He looked at his mate. "Home?"
"I only brought the bike and it looks like it might rain." Horatio glanced up at the clear sky then at him. "Night, all." He led the way inside and up to their room. It was just the same and Horatio was more than happy to be pounced. Speed even snuck down to get some of the excess chocolate to tease him and let him lick off.
Ray Junior looked at the table. "Let's put up the leftover, guys. I doubt anyone's going to want to clean later." They all pitched in to put things up, then they said bye to Danny and left.
Danny walked into the bedroom once it was only him and the horse outside. The dog had retreated to a couch to nap some more. He checked, the ferrets were napping off their playtime. He scratched the horse's nose. "You rest, girl. Ryan will be down in a while." She wandered off again, going to sniff the flowers. Danny headed back to their room, finding Don already passed out and Xander licking him clean. "My turn?" Xander beamed and flipped onto his back, letting him have the other piece of cake to play with. "Hmm. Were to put this." He started with his stomach and worked down from there. Xander passed out before he was done but Xander never minded if he finished off after him. It was still good. He went to get a cloth and clean them all off. The he got to curl up behind Xander and cuddle him and his hair. It was a nice night and a good party for their first one.
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