The Issues of Being Ray

Ray Junior walked into his favorite buddy's house, pouting some.  "I don't know what I'm doing."

"About what?"

"About a few things."  He flopped down and looked at him.  "No uniforms but my off- school clothes aren't good enough according to the new one.  Mom's frowning about that. Uncle Horatio's too busy with something that Dad's death brought down on him.  That's all I can find out and they're both giving me looks like they're sorry about something.  I don't like being the protected one.  He can tell me these things."

"Your uncle won't say anything until he's certain," Xander pointed out.  "He's like that.  He'll also not tell you anything if it's going to hurt you."  Ray nodded that he knew that.  "So maybe he's just unsure so far."

"I hope so but Mom's looking a bit spooked too."  He shrugged.  "That still leaves me with the other problem."

"We can deal with that part," Xander reminded him.  "What are you allowed to wear?"

"Twill or khaki pants, any color is acceptable.  Anything dressy.  Shirts can be henley style but nothing lesser."

"Then we can fix that."  He stood up.  "I'm bored."

Ray beamed.  "Great!"  He hopped up.  "Need to do anything first?  I've got my ATM card on me so I can afford it.  Mom was saying she would but I know her and I'll end up hating it."

Xander winked.  "We can handle that.  Let me change."  He walked into the bedroom, coming out with his wallet, frowning at it.  "Speaking of ATM's.  Don apparently made a stealth run to the bank again."  He walked out, leading Ray out to his car.  "Come on."  Ray jogged faster to keep up.  He got them in and headed off, making sure to close the gates behind him.  "I've noticed a few things about us.  We always look better and are more comfortable in all natural clothes.  I prefer silk.  You?"

"Not a clue."

"We can see."  He pulled through his bank's ATM, then sighed and parked, going inside.  He came out a few minutes later.  "I'm going to have to search the freezer.  Don always put things in there."

"Could it be the housekeeper?"

"If it is, I'm going to pray that the house falls on this one."  He put the car in reverse and slowly backed out, then headed to the stores he favored for casual clothes.  Ray wasn't going to be a silk boy.  Not like his uncle could be.  This was better for school aged guys anyway.  He walked in and smiled at the saleswoman, snapping his fingers.  Ray handed over the dress code.  "He needs to fit within this, and natural fabrics please."

"Let's see what we can find."  She led them around the store, finding pants first.  Ray ended up liking the twill, they were closer to jeans, but Xander made him get a few pairs of dress pants as well. Cotton and linen, but dress pants.  They looked at the various styles of shirts, Xander handing over a few Egyptian cotton button ups.  Then a few others he thought the kid might like.  Ray gave him an odd look.  Xander stared back.  So he sighed and went to try it on.  She smiled at Xander.  "You're his big brother?"

"Kinda.  Trouble buddy, confidant.  Gay male fashion advisor."  She giggled at that.  "Ray?"  He came out in a pair of the twill pants, turning to look at himself.  "Those are nice.  How do they feel?"

"A bit scratchy, like new jeans."

"Those are probably as close to jeans as you'll be allowed to get," she admitted, coming over.  "I like them on you and they've always been comfortable to me."

"It is."  He looked at his butt again.  "Can I have some that look like jeans?"

"Make them look like khakis," Xander offered.  "That way you keep out of trouble."  Ray nodded and went to try those on, coming out.  "I like those better."  Ray nodded after looking at himself.  "Understated but showing that you're more adult than your mother likes to think.  Try on another shirt with it though."  Ray went back in there and came out with a jade colored shirt.  With the midnight blue pants.  "Okay, I'm occasionally accused of being fashion blind, but that's bad."  Ray giggled and looked at the shirt.  "Comfy?"  Ray shrugged.  "Try on the other ones."  He went in and came out in a black linen one and Xander smiled, moving closer.  "That glow is when you find your fabric," he said quietly.  "Try on the Egyptian cotton, it's close to that."  Ray went to change clothes and the same glow happened.  "Good.  Now we know."  Ray beamed.  "Go weed things out and get what you want.  Then we'll hit the other spot."  Ray went in there and came out with the pants he liked and the shirts in all the colors.  Xander beamed and paid, then walked Ray down the strip mall.  Into the record store.  That got a giggle and they went to shop for Xander's car.  Then they went to the other spot.  Xander nodded and Ray wore one outfit out, making him smile.  He even let the kid pay for that one.  He drove him to the station, making the guard stare.  "His mom in?" Xander asked as he escorted him.

"At her desk, Xander."

"Cool."  He got them signed in and into the elevator, taking him up there.  Xander walked out first and smiled at Ryan.  "Yelina?"  She looked over and her son walked off the elevator, making her blink.  "He said he needed to go, he paid for half."

"Well."  She looked at him.  Then she smiled. "You look very smart.  Those will fit?"

"The pants are twill, the shirt's linen."  He let her feel.  "They're comfortable!  More than my jeans."

"We all have a fabric we appreciate more than others," Xander agreed. "Everyone does.  He seems to like Egyptian cotton, linen, and some twill."  He shrugged and grinned. "Plus he helped me pick out some new music."

Yelina hugged him.  "How much did you spend?"

"Not that much.  There was a sale at the second place.  The first I mostly got some shirts and a few pairs of pants.  And they all fit," he said lightly.  She smiled at that.  "Speed!"  He looked over and smiled, then walked over.  "New school clothes.  How do I look?"

"You look sharp, kid."  He felt the shirt.  "Linen?"

"Yup, and twill pants.  These two and Egyptian cotton."

"Kinda expensive tastes but it looks good at you."  He ruffled his hair.  "Now you have to do something about the mop."

"Yeah, I kinda do," he admitted.  "I'd look bad with hair like Xander's."  His mother nodded.  "I'll do that on the way home."  He hugged his mother then Speed.  "Tell Uncle Horatio?"

He took a picture with his phone and sent it to his mate, getting a smiley face back.  "He's with Calleigh on a scene.  Apparently she's got his phone."  A new text message came in and he laughed.  "He said you look very good and like a true Caine, finally.  He thought before you were going to follow me into grunge."  Ray shuddered and shook his head.  "Good kid.  Now, hog your mom then go get a haircut."  He smiled and walked off, tugging on Don's arm.  "Come on."

"Coming.  What do I get today?"

"A spanking for giving me a case without very much evidence.  A fingernail and a cigarette butt isn't enough but I'm trying."

"Sure."  He followed with a grin for Xander and a wink.  "Good work, Xan."

"Thanks."  He grinned at Yelina.  "He spent more than I did, mom."

"I don't believe you."

"I did by about twenty dollars," Ray admitted.  "I've even got the receipts in the bags in his trunk."  She handed over her keys and he grinned, going down to switch them over with Xander's help.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  I'll even drive you to get a haircut if you need me to."

"No, I think I'll lounge and make Mom happier."  He dug out the receipts and hugged him.  "Thanks, Xander."

"Welcome."  He walked off, going back to his car.  It was a small blip in his otherwise boring day.  He decided to go grocery shopping, at least it'd keep him out of the house for another hour.  Then maybe he'd get his hair trimmed.  He was starting to get some split ends.  He headed off, deciding to do that in reverse order.  Haircut then grocery shopping.


Horatio smiled at his nephew when he ran into him outside the station a few hours later.  "You look very smart, Ray."  He flicked off some hair from his haircut.  "Xander helped you do a good job."

"Do we all have that fabric that we glow in?"

"We do.  Xander's is silk.  Mine's a mixed blend.  Yours appears to be linen?"

"And Egyptian cotton.  The twill pants are really comfortable too."

"Good."  He smiled. "They're also nearly as sturdy as jeans."  He patted him on the cheek, then looked at his hair.  "Better."

"Thank you.  I knew it was a mop."

"It was."  He walked him back inside.  "So, tonight?"

"Mom was impressed that I only spent two hundred on my half of the shopping. Then she called the bank to see what my savings account balance was."  Horatio laughed.  "Yeah, so she's mad that Xander added more than even that Visa giftcard."  He looked at him.  "He did.  I don't know how he did, but he did. Or someone did.  I had an extra four thousand in there."  He shrugged.  "I talked to the bank too, they said it was an electronic transfer so I'm assuming it was Xander."

"Perhaps not."

"A stalker?"

"Probably not.  You're still a bit too young for that."  He led him to his office, letting him inside then going to sit.  "What else happened?"

"There was someone watching us today and I'm not sure who.  I know he's outside again too."

"What did he look like?"

"African-American.  Bald.  Thin.  Looked like a federal suit sort."  He shrugged.  "Then again, I'm still a bit upset that you feel the need to protect me from something stupid father did again."

"It wasn't so much an again and I'm still searching to see what the truth is, Ray."

"I was hoping it was that and not that you're trying to protect me. I know what dad did, Uncle H.  The same as I know how he died.  The kids at school made sure of it," he said honestly, staring at him.  Horatio cracked a smile at that.  "Not my favorite way to find out."

"You look so much like your father when you give me that look."

"Thanks, I think."  He shifted.  "Was it something else about his drug use or the case?  Someone like another half-sister?"

"No, definitely not, but it is related to the case.  Like I said, I'm still searching, Ray."

"Will you actually tell me?"

"Limited things.  You're still very young and there are still things that could hurt you about that situation."

"Yes, but I'd rather hear it from you instead of Mom or some of the other kids at school."

"Good point."  He nodded.  "I can understand that.  When I know something definitive, I'll tell you what I can if it's going to impact you, all right?"

"That's reasonable but I would like to know the whole truth some day."

"So would I," he admitted.  Ray nodded at that fact.  "Was there anything else?"

"No, not at the moment.  We've chosen a school.  The dress code is different and I'll be fine in this.  The haircut went okay.  The guy was there when we went into the second store and then when I went to get the haircut.  I almost called someone to pick me up but I went for a cab instead."  Horatio nodded at that.  "Do we like my hair like this?  He said it was hip and stylin'."

"You do look very good in it.  It'll also allow you to go messier for teenage things or neater for family things."  Ray smiled at that.  "I do like it but you're going to need to buy gel probably."

"Already got some.  Got it off the hairdresser."  That got a small grin.  "Speaking of trims."

"I know.  I'm going later tonight."  Ray nodded at that.  "Did you want to come over tonight?"

"I don't know.  Mom's nagging about the money that got transferred.  She thought at first it was a stalker and I didn't even tell her about the guy following me."

"He sounds like an agent I know, Ray.   I'll dig into that tonight.  Don't spend more than you already had."

"I haven't.  I barely spent two hundred on my part of the clothes and I spent twenty more than Xander did on me because I couldn't decide between two shirts."  He laughed.  "I know.  They're comfortable though and I feel good in them."

"Feeling good in your clothes does lead to more confidence," he agreed.  "Now, are you going to have problems in this new school?"

"Probably not. A few other officer's kids go there and they said they didn't have any problems.  One switched because he had the same problems I did."  He looked over as someone came to the door then looked at his uncle again.  "Need me to go?"

"For a few minutes, yes.  And no eavesdropping this time, Raymond."

"Yes, Uncle Horatio."  He got up and headed out.  "I'll head to Grandmas.  You can tell me later?"  Horatio nodded.  "Thanks.  Remind mom the clothes are in her trunk."  He walked out, nodding politely at the suit.  "Be less obvious, dude.  I spotted you twice."   He smiled when he ran into Frank.

"Wow, look at you."

"New school's dress code.  Twill or khakis and better shirts.  I like this though.  It's comfy."

"You look good.  Horatio busy?"

"He's got a suit in there."

"Hmm, then maybe I'll wait until he's calmed down from that."  Ray smiled and walked off, heading for his grandmother's house.  Frank went back to his desk.  He paged Horatio with the information but didn't get an answer back.  So he'd find him later. When he was calm again.  He saw Horatio go stomping off and figured it was now a very bad time.  So he'd get to him tomorrow.  Hopefully.  If not, he'd talk to Speed and it'd be okay so he could make his arrest.  Once he checked some facts the lab was working on.


Horatio got his nephew out of harm's way and looked at his brother.  "Raymond."

"He's exactly like you," he said grimly. "Isn't he?"  Horatio nodded.  "He broken in yet?"

"Not yet.  He's agreed to wait until it'll be easier on him."  He moved closer.  "Why are you here?"

"I'm done.  I want my family back."

Horatio nodded at that.  "We'll handle it, Ray.  He is very smart.  He saw the agent watching him earlier."

"Yeah, I was there.  Who's the other guy?  Who, by the way, very gay."

"Xander.  He's another GHS member that I mentor.  His boyfriend is in the lab."

"Ah. I heard rumors about him in DC," he said quietly.  Horatio looked stunned.  "Bad ones at that."


"Not a clue.  They wouldn't tell me."  He shifted closer.  "Where is he?"

"Preliminary tests say four."

"So well able to still function.  He did a good job dressing my boy."

"That's for his new school."

Ray looked at him.  "Can we find a way to talk to my wife?"

"Yes, as soon as this is all settled.  I don't want Ray Junior in danger again."

"Of course not.  I don't want him in danger either."  He shifted some.  "So, um, I stopped by to see..."

"Madison's doing better.  Yes, she knows.  I'd expect to be beaten."

"Sure.  I get that.  I screwed up."

"You have no idea the depth of this screw up."  His brother stared at him.  "Are we clear?"

"We're clear.  Thank you for watching them for me."

"You're welcome.  Now go away."  He nodded and Horatio went to the hummer, finding his nephew watching around.  "Are you all right?"

"Now."  He licked his lips and looked inside then at his uncle.  "That was dad."

"I know that, Ray.  Right now, we're handling things.  Before you ask, I only had hints."  He put the hummer in gear and drove off.  "This is going to be hard."

"I'm not going to be the one to tell mom."

"Good.  I was going to suggest we leave that off until we know what sort of danger he's bringing to your door."

"Um, gee, wonder," he said dryly.  His uncle glared at him. "Sorry, but truth!  Does he know about Madison?"

"Yes."  He turned a corner and parked, looking t his nephew.  "Go inside.  Stay calm.  Let me handle this.  If things get too messy, we'll make sure you'll be all right."  Ray nodded and headed inside.  Horatio watched until he was inside the house then took off for home.  He found Speed waiting on him.  "Not tonight."

"Why?  What happened?"

"Ray's alive."

"I'm hoping we're talking the nephew."  Horatio stared at his husband. "Oh, shit."

"Basically."  He went into the kitchen and came out with a beer.  "I shouldn't."

"One's not going to matter.  You can't have more.  How messy is this?"

"Very.  We need to bring down the ones who're going after him."  He popped it open and took a sip.

Speed stopped him from pacing.  "Even if we do, will our nephew be safe?" he asked gently.  Horatio shook his head.  "Then manage that end, Horatio.  We'll see them again.  As long as they're safe we'll still be a family."

Horatio took another drink.  "I'd like to think I can make it safe."

"I'd like that too but I'm doubting it."

"Maybe that other space in Xander's?"

"Maybe.  That's an idea.  Or somewhere safer."  He stroked his cheek. "Let me help?"

"I can't.  They could easily come after you."

"They won't come after me and I'm better protected because I'm not the one who makes myself a target now and then."  Horatio nodded, sitting down and letting himself be comforted.  "We'll deal, Horatio.  We always have."

"I know."  He handed him the beer, letting him put it aside, and let it all go for a while, letting his husband handle the thinking while he thought about his family.  This was not going to be a happy week for him by any definition. "He looked so grown up."

"He did.  Xander did a good job helping him find his style."  He stroked over his mate's hair.  "We'll handle it, Horatio.  You know we will."

"I know.  I'm not sure how."

"If worst comes to worst, we send them to her home."

He looked up.  "No."

"It'd be safer."

"I'd almost rather send them through that closet in Xander's."  Speed smiled at that.  "I would."

"I know you would. Ray Junior would go insane without pretty girls to stare at."

"He would," Horatio agreed. "He has a fine eye as well."   He looked up.  "He said he'd heard of Xander."

"Maybe the drug connections he had ran in the same circles."

"He mentioned DC," he said quietly.

"Still a chance."  He stroked over his hair.  "Does our nephew know what was going on?"

"He saw him," he said quietly, then let out a bitter laugh.  "Earlier he protested he should be told things if they were going to come out about his father so he didn't have to hear from another source."

"He's at the age where we should start hearing choruses of 'I'm not a baby, quit treating me like one'.  That used to be my favorite thing at that age."  He went back to soothing him.  "He just proved he's right on schedule."

"He is.  I told him I'd tell him what I could."

"That's still going to be a loud fight when they first see each other again."

"I'm predicting Ray will hit him."

"Probably.  Now and then he's got his momma's temper.   Nothing's more fiery than her."  He smiled and Horatio smiled at that.  "So, we'll handle it."  Horatio nodded.  "For now, should we get them there?"

"No.  Not yet. But I do need to talk to Xander I think."

"We should."

"No, I should."

"We, Horatio."

"How do we explain that you know?"

"You're my husband.  What you know I know.  Even the idiots bothering you know that."  Horatio nodded and relaxed some.  "Tonight?"

"No.  Not yet.  I need to head back to the office."

"We can do it from here."

"They could have it tapped. I can go work from Ryan's desk and see if I can find anything else."

"Let's talk to Xander first, Horatio.  Maybe he could help."

"Maybe," he agreed quietly.  He wasn't so sure though.  They got up and headed over there, knowing what they were doing now.  Horatio was already making emergency plans and figuring out how to do what needed to be done, including letting his family go.  It'd never be safe enough in Miami for them.  They pulled into the house's driveway and up it, finding the guys out back on the picnic tables.  "Xander?" Horatio called.  Xander looked over and waved. "Can we speak?"

"Sure."  He walked them inside.  "A new stalker?  Or Ray's?"

"Related to Ray's."  He led him away from Speed, getting an odd look.  "I'll tell him later.  My brother's alive."  Xander hugged him and he relaxed.  "I'll deal."

"You won't deal.  You'll sulk and do dangerous things to ease the pain."  He pulled back.  "Like I heard you did when Speed got hurt."  Horatio nodded at that, sucking a breath.  "What did you need me to do?  Let them into the other realm?  Hide Ray Junior?  Tell me and I can do that."

"I'm still seeing if that's necessary.  First, information came to me through him that some people in DC know you?"

Xander moaned and led him into the practice room, shutting them inside.  "This does not get out of this room."  Horatio nodded, moving closer.  Xander started to pace. "You know about Sunnydale stuff, right?"  He nodded.  "My last year there, we had a paramilitary operation.  Covert ops.  They were called the Initiative.  They were trying to figure out demons so they could make some work for them."  Horatio stared.  "They got Oz for a while.  They were working to break the group up.  Not that hard," he admitted bitterly.

"You took them down?"

"Not alone.  I was there.  I left about a week after they were gone."

"All right."  He considered it.  "How?"

"Buffy was knowingly dating one.  He hid it but then things happened and she found out.  She kinda almost joined with them. Then Oz got taken and we went in to get him.  We found out some things, including that they were making a hybrid super demon warrior.  That they were chipping their own soldiers.  Little things like that.  We had to stop the super demon.  It went magical.  I helped with that and Buffy defeated it after we hyped her."

"I see."  He looked at him, noticing now nervous he was.  "You don't want them to know?"

"Don knows.  Mac found out and told him.  There was a time when the military wanted to erase that shame by erasing me and them.  We're pretty sure that's why they got Stella the day she was using my SUV."  Horatio nodded slowly at that.  "Mac admitted they tried to call him back into play to assassinate me since he had been a sniper."

"I'll talk with him first then."

"Should I hide this from them?"

"Please," he agreed.  "It might be necessary to hide them there for a few days until I can arrange to get them out of town."

"If you do, Horatio, don't hesitate to come to me if you can't vent on Speed.  Sometimes he'd comfort when you want to rant."  Horatio nodded at that wisdom. "But the other area is yours to use if you need it."

"Thank you."  He gave him a hug.  "I'll talk with Mac about that, make sure there's no more danger."

"There shouldn't be.  After they beat up Stella someone higher stepped in and stomped them."

"Good. Then I won't worry."  He smiled and walked out, taking Speed off, back to the office.  With Mac at his new lab, he had the privacy they needed to search and figure out what was going on.  Speed looked at him.  "Sunnydale.  I need you to talk to Mac about the Initiative and brief me."

"Sure, I can do that.  Is it important?  Something that could get him hurt?"

"He says no.  I want Mac's opinion."

"Sure."  He went to find him, paging him to meet him for dinner.  He was hungry anyway.  Mac met him at the small outdoor food stand, taking it into the park where they could tell if they're being watched.  "Something semi-personal's come up recently," he said quietly.

"I heard Horatio had to save his nephew thanks to his brother's former caseload."  He ate a bite.  "He back?"

"Ray Junior's fine."

"Not the one I was talking about."

"We're handling it."  Mac nodded at that.  "He hinted that some people up there already knew Xander."

Mac put down his food and took a drink of his milkshake, then put it down and shifted closer.  "They do.  They're not very happy that four teenagers and a librarian took down a covert ops group.  Especially not one that started out NID then moved to the Pentagon and NSA. Late last year they were convinced not to try him again, but I'm not sure if they're watching him or not."

"Horatio wanted to know.  He and Xander had a short chat and he told me to come get it from you and then brief him."

"Xander probably told him. He didn't tell me because he was worried I'd think he was anti-military.  The first I heard, they were asking me to snipe him.  I got it from one of my sources and I laughed at the person who asked me to kill him."

"Do we have any idea if this is an on-going thing?"

"Supposedly not.  Probably yes.  Will they act?  I'm not sure."

"Should we worry?  Especially with everything else going on."

"No.  They want Xander gone so they can erase that shame.  Or they want to study him and the others.  With the other three being in another dimension at the moment, he's all that's left."

"He's pretty safe."

"Not from a sniper attack.  There's plenty of ways to get someone if you want to."

"I know.  But he's still relatively safe."

"Relative being the term to watch," he warned.  "I've got feelers out to people who would hear if something was planned.  They're supposed to call me."

"But if they can't, we'll handle it.  Would they go to permanently eliminate him?"

"Probably not."  He smiled. "Most of the modern military isn't into swords."  He took another drink of his treat.  "Do you guys need help?"

"He might need a contact consulted, we're not sure yet.   We know Ray Junior's aware of what got his father killed and he's protesting he's not helpless and a child."

"That's a dangerous age."

"It is, but he's also got some sense.  He's not going to his mother with this stuff thankfully."

Mac nodded.  "Have him call me if you guys need me.  Or you.  I know very well that what Horatio knows you know."  Speed nodded.  "Just let me know."

"We will, Mac, and thanks."

"Welcome.  Then again, Xander once gave me a full set of cassettes on what happened in Sunnydale, all but that one.  I had nightmares.  He's not the froofy little boy he seems to be.  Anymore only Ryan probably ever sees it, but he's not."

"Ryan said he was very good with his sword."

"He is."  He smiled and got up, taking his lunch off.  "Let me know."

"Can do.  Can we have those tapes?"

"Sure.  Don's got 'em.  I'll get them back and hand them over."  He shot a grin at him and headed for his car.

Speed went back to the office, finding the annoyance in there.  "Rick, you mind?  I need a few with him."

"I do. This is work not your house."

"This is about work things."  Stetler gave him a long, hard, cold look.  "Really."  He leaned down to whisper in his mate's ear, getting nods.  "He said he might have a contact," he said finally.  "If we can't do it another way."

"I'll keep that in mind.  Thank you."

"Welcome."  He smiled.  "We okay?"

"Not particularly.  I'm not happy."

"I'm not happy," he assured him. "Want dinner?"

"Please."  Speed handed over the rest of his and went down to the lab to do what he could so Horatio could concentrate on the issue with his family.

Horatio looked at Rick.  "The bank was talked to and they're working on where the extra money came from, Rick.  We're figuring that out now and I reminded him not to spend it."

"Where did the rest come from?  I doubt he's getting a hundred dollar a month allowance."

"Xander gave him a gift card a few months back."

"Oh.  Yelina didn't protest?"

"She didn't know.  He told her it was only a hundred dollars.

"Then he's got control of his statement and she didn't check."

"Speed made him take that and put it into something that had a bit of better control.  We watch over it with him.  That way his mother won't find out and scream."

"How much was that one?"

"Five thousand."  Rick looked amused. "It was after that trip to stop the illegal immigrant ring."

"Ah, the gambling trip," he said dryly.  "You won how much?"

"I don't remember right off the top of my head but I did claim it with the IRS," he said flatly.  "Anything else?"

"Is the kid in trouble?"

"Why would he be?"

"He suddenly switched schools after a long absence.  That sounds like he got kicked out."

"No, he left after one student threatened to stab him.  We were a bit slow to react but Xander was watching him for us."

"I see.  Then he's a decent role model?"

"He's a very good role model and he spoils Ray horribly.  He's trying to turn him into Ryan if you must know."  He gave him a look.  "I'm busy."

"Fine.  I'll go. I won't tell her since so far he's gotten away with it."

"I doubt it would matter at this late date, Rick.  There's more important things going on now.  Thank you though."  He walked off, knowing he had blackmail material now.  Horatio shook his head and got back to what he needed to do.


Xander looked up as the sound of running footsteps came nearer to where he was working out, frowning at the man chasing someone down.  Huh.  He looked familiar.  He tripped the running person, getting a nod.  "Hey.  Why are you two at my house?"

"He's your back neighbor."

"He's in deep trouble if he climbed my fence."  He used his sword to tip the guy's face up.  "Hi.  Are you the neighbor I was warned out?"   The man started to splutter.  "You sound like a cranky engine.  Get off my lawn."  He stood up.  "Thank you.  Now, you are?"  Ray opened his mouth.  "You look like someone I know.  I know you.  I'm asking this one."

"He is a drug dealer," Ray said.  "He set me up."

"Ah.  Hubert?"  The dragon came out.  "Come eat this idiot. It's about time you learned how to hunt, dear."  The dragon gave him a dirty look and a snort but he came over to sniff him.  The man started to shriek and dance around.  "You're annoying me," Xander said coldly.  The man backed away.  He started to run again.  "Spot!  Attack!"  Both dalmatians ran out and pounced the running guy, making him scream even louder.  "I'd fix his vocal issues before the neighborhood patrol gets here."  He walked back inside.  "Good boys!  Hold.  Daddy will get you two treats out the ass for being so helpful."

Ray stared after him, then shook his head. This guy was definitely one of a kind.  Probably a good thing.  He cuffed him and called his brother.  "I've got him.  Thanks, dogs."  He heard Horatio laugh and cleared his throat, imitating him.  "Sit, good boys."  They stared at him and growled.  "Um, Xander?" he called.

"Thank you, boys.  Good boys!  Come get a treat!"  They ran back into the house, all puppy tails and happy barks.  "Good boys!"  He sat down to pet them while they nibbled then picked up the tennis ball, tossing it outside.  They ran to get it and brought it back, making him play with them.  "Sure, we'll play."  He tossed it again and they fought on the way back but it came back.  He laughed and tossed two balls.  That made them bounce and play a lot.  He tossed them out, they both followed the first one so he sent the second one further out.  One of them broke to get it. They came rushing back, scratching the floor with their claws, but he knew how to sand. He did it again, and they came back in with Ray this time.  "Don't bury him on my lawn."

"I'm not.  Horatio's coming to get him.  I did hook him to your spigot outside."

"That's fine.  As long as he doesn't break it."  He tossed the balls again and Ray sat down, watching him play with his boys. "Good boys," he cooed, petting them both.  "See if Ray's daddy will play with you."  He tossed the tennis balls over and he sent them outside, getting happy dogs with him too.  "Thanks. Arms were getting tired."

"I noticed the sword."

"It's how I stay in shape."

"I saw that as well."  They came back so he petted them and did it again.  "You and my son are...."

"Friends.  I help him when he's got problems he doesn't want to go to Horatio for."  He heard a car.  "That's someone."  He looked outside.  "That's not someone I know.  Huh.  See the blue door, take the dogs and play over there."  He nodded, taking them across the boundary to play there.  He heard the muttered 'huh' as he closed the door, walking out.  "Yes?   You needed something?"

"I'm with the lawn service, sir."  He came over to check the lawn, then the plants inside the house.  Xander caught him in his bedroom.  "They told us to take our checks directly."

"No, I'm quite sure my cop boyfriend did not," he said, taking his wallet from him.  The man gave him a heated glare.  "I know damn well my detective boyfriend didn't.  So let's cut the shit."  The man lunged and he backhanded him, then got his cuffs out of the drawer and cuffed him.   He called the nice emergency number.  "Come get this fucking moron who just walked boldly into my house and grabbed my wallet before I chop off his head."  He nodded.  "10 Grove Way.  Thank you.  Impatiently.  No, I'll gladly drag his ass outside for him.  Thanks."  He hung up and grabbed the guy, dragging him outside. He dumped him in the grass and got his sword to sharpen.   An officer buzzed and was let in by neighborhood patrol, earning a nod. "Have you seen him before?"

"He was here two, three days ago.  Said he's with the lawn service, Mr. Harris."

"Yeah, that's what he told me and then said the owner told him to take their checks directly out of my wallet.  Grabbed it from my bedroom!"  He looked at him. "I'm so going to be checking with my bank. You'd better hope my missing ATM card isn't in your possession as well."  The officer smiled.  "Can you check his wallet for me? If so I'm pressing charges on another occasion."

"Of course."  He pulled out his wallet and found two.  "One black stripped Mastercard and purple lighting card, Mr. Harris."

"The purple one is my ATM.  The other's my old emergency card."  That got a nod.  "So yeah, there's been at least two times he's been here.  I have no idea who in the hell this man is.  Our lawn service is paid automatically every month directly from the bank.  And get this, he walked into the house and right into my bedroom, like *he* owned the place.  Then tried to take the wallet from me when I took it."  The officers looked amused.  "So if you can book him on stupidity and boldness, he should have those too."

"We'll see what we can do, sir."

"Um, Mr. Harris, I noticed the person on the front lawn?"

"No, he's waiting on Lieutenant Caine to personally come pick him up.  The dogs helped me bring him down.  They're still very well trained," he said proudly.

"Um, sir, you know the lab?" one of the officers, the female one, asked.

He nodded. "I'm dating Messer."

"Oh!  You're *him*!" she said.  He nodded.  "That's fine.  We can bring him to the Lieutenant if you want."

"I'm not sure if he'd want that."  He considered it and went inside to get the phone.  "Horatio, the guy here attached to my spigot, did you want him there? I had to have someone arrest the guy who boldly walked in and grabbed my wallet like it belonged to him and they're offering."  He walked the phone outside.  "It's him."

"Sir.  Flanders, sir.  Yes, sir.  No, sir, let me check him."  He walked that way.  "Looks healthy enough.  Bit scared and panting for some reason.  Attached to the spigot with regulation cuffs.  No, the other guy was cuffed too, sir."

"Don's spares."

"Mr. Harris said they were someone named Don's spare cuffs?"  She just nodded at that. "No, it's a good idea if you have people you can let live with you for the protection, sir.  Yeah, I can bring him."  He looked over.  "He wants to know where his nephew is."

"Playing with the dogs in the orchard.  The other's where he should be."

"He said playing with the dogs in the orchard and the other's where he should be."  She nodded.  "Thank you, Lieutenant.  Gotta head that way anyway, sir.  Thanks."  She hung up and handed the phone back, pulling out her keys.  "We'll make sure the cuffs get back to Detective Flack, sir.  Thank you for the help.  Is he training your dogs?"

Xander beamed.  "No, I took them to obedience and training classes.  They were also training to be therapy dogs before I got a bit sick."  She nodded and hauled the guy up, recuffing him and walking him off.  "Thank you."

"Welcome, sir.  Anyone else we should know about who might've come in here to take things?"

"I have a housekeeper.  I hope she's not part of that but I know I had about ten grand in the house and it's not there.  You might ask Detective Flack.  He's got a nasty habit of taking stuff to the bank on me."

"Sure, sir. Thanks."  She put him in the back of the car and got the other one as well, smiling at her partner.  "We're dropping the other one off with Caine at his scene."

"Sure.  Sometimes you've got to have murderers on the scene of the crime I guess."

"I think it was drugs, but I'm not sure," Xander admitted.  "You two have a nice day, officers."  They smiled and got in.  He grinned at the neighborhood watch people.  "Has my housekeeper been part of that?"

"We're not sure but I know her so I'll send her that name so she can follow up."

"Thanks, guys.  Have you seen my trees yet?"

"Later today, sir.  They had a hold-up on a few of them but they warned us they'd be bringing heavy trucks in today."  Xander nodded.  "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, my dogs brought down the first guy."  That got a smile and they left too.  He walked back to the closet door and leaned in. "You can come back now, it's clear."  Then he went to grab his sword and go back to practice.  He needed to stay in practice and he didn't want to do it around the workmen later.

Ray and the dogs came back, looking at what he was doing.  Then he shook his head.  He didn't want to know why he was playing with a sword like that.  He called his brother.  "Did the cops he called get him?"  He smiled.  "That's fine.  No, I'm here. Sure, I can hide here for a few more hours if he'll let me.  It's a nice house.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Horatio wants me to hang here, kid, you mind?"

"No.  Make some lemonade and some ice water for the guys coming to plant trees for me."

"Um, sure."  He went to find pitchers and the lemonade mix, smiling at it since it was out.  The pitchers were found easily enough and so was a wooden spoon.  He got to work making two each.  If the guys didn't need both, the family could drink it.  He knew his son used to like lemonade a lot.  He put them in the fridge, smiling at the chocolate in there.  Yeah, this guy was someone like his brother too.  Horatio always had chocolate around the house too.  He heard the gates buzz and went to look, then hit the enter key.  "They're here."

"That's fine. They won't come in," Xander said, coming in with his sword.  The trucks parked down by the gate and the guys got out, heading with the digger first.  "They're putting in trees."

"I can see that.  Nice trees.  Good shade potential too."  That got a smile and Xander went to shower.   So he was stuck there alone when the worker came to the door.  "What's up?  I'm helping Xander today."

"We usually borrow some ice for our chest, sir."

"Sure.  He also had me put some water and lemonade in the fridge for you guys."  That got a smile and he came to get the stack of ice cube trays for their ice chest and told his boss about the water and lemonade.  Ray looked over as Xander came out and this time his hair was down.  "How can you stand having that much hair?"

"You get used to it."  He finished tying up his ponytail then wound it up and used a few hair sticks to put it in a sloppy bun on the back of his head.  He leaned out the door.  "Water and lemonade too," he called.  That got a smile and a wave.  "Did they already come up for the ice?"


"That's fine."  He went into the study.  "TV's in the other front room."

"Thanks."  He went that way, going to keep an eye on this very odd man who his son seemed to like.  He heard the squeal and shook his head.  Xander was definitely not the sort of man he wanted his son to be but he was protective of his kid.  He could like him for that much.  Even if he did sound like a teenage girl now and then and had hair his wife would beg for.


Horatio came over later that night, smiling at his sleeping brother.  "Thank you, Xander."  He looked at him.  They were both across the realm boundary and it was a nice night over there.  They were picking fruit for a late dinner.  Ray was napping in the living room.  "That man earlier was a very wanted drug dealer."

"Figures I move into a nice neighborhood and the bad guys love me here too."

"He was here long before you came to Miami."  He smiled.  "Who was the other person you had to have arrested?"

"Said he was with the lawn service.  Checked the back lawn, headed into the house like he owned it, went for my wallet while saying the owner said to take it out of his wallet, and when I took it from him he tried to take it back. I'm wondering about the housekeeper."

"I'm not sure," Horatio offered.  "We'll have to see."  They headed back inside once the basket was full, finding the door shut.  He tried the knob but it was locked.

"I noticed that the other day."  He started to knock and eventually Danny opened it, looking a bit confused.  "Someone closed te door."

"No one else is here."  He let them through, counting animals before closing it again.  They walked into the kitchen and found a strange woman.  "Who're you?"

"The housekeeper."

"At nine at night?" he demanded.  She gave him a look.  "Uh-huh.  Xander, go check your wallet again?"

"Sure, but check the safe?"

"Don emptied the safe the other day."  Xander nodded and went to check his wallet, bringing Danny the cuffs Don had brought home.  "What's missing?"

"My ID, my cash, and your badge."

"Huh."  He walked over and got her trapped between him and Horatio, putting her in the cuffs to pat her down.  He found all of them and some more.  "Good.  Let me call this in."  He did that, walking outside with the phone, letting them drag her.

"Flanders had the other one," Horatio offered, sitting her down next to the lounge area.

"It's wet," she complained.

"Yay," Xander said coldly.  She shut up at that.  He looked at Danny.  "My spare katana's missing too.  I noticed it earlier."

"We'll check her place," he assured him, giving him a kiss.  She made disgusted noises so he went on.

When the officers arrived she got loud.  "I demand you make them stop!  They're touching each other!  It's wrong!"

"She stole from us," Danny offered, grinning at the officer. "He's mine, I can kiss him. I found her with my badge and some money, plus Xander's ID.  Also, we're missing a sword so someone'll need to check her place."

"We had one arrested earlier for pretty much the same thing," Xander offered.  "An Officer Flanders arrested him."

"I'll check into that, sir.  Whose cuffs?"  Don raised his hand from behind his book.  "Um."  The book came down.  "Oh, Detective Flack, sir.  Sorry, didn't recognize the book."

That got a grin.  "Xander got it for me yesterday. It's a good book, you should try it."  He went back to reading.  "My badge and everything okay?"

"Didn't find it on her," Danny offered.

"Sure.  Guys, she complained that we put her in the muddy spot too."

"Pity," one of them offered, dragging her off reading her her rights.  She was still complaining about them touching each other in front of her.

Xander pouted.  "Now we need a new housekeeper."

"She sucked anyway," Danny assured him.  He pulled him into his lap, letting him cuddle until Ryan got there.  "Hey.  Another fight?"

"Yup."  He stole the Xander to hold, kissing him on the neck.  "Thanks.  Needed this."

"As long as I get him back before bed," Danny agreed dryly.  "So, Horatio, I know you're working on something personal.  Can we help?"

"Not yet but I do have someone hiding across the boundary.  Please leave him alone?"

"Sure," Danny agreed.  "Should we lock him in?"

"No.  You can't get free from that side," Xander offered.

"Okay.  We can do that and just keep quiet.  But if you need it, know it's there."

"Of course."  He smiled at them.  "I came to talk about the new lab person.  I'm stuck between one who wants it very badly and one who'd make a great field tech but I'm not sure he'd like Miami."

Don looked at him.  "Have you talked to Greg about these worries yet?"

"I have. He was very honest about why he wanted to switch from Vegas."

"Then maybe you should talk to Grissom, boss to boss," Xander suggested.  "Not that I wouldn't love to have Greg here."

"As would I but all his coping mechanisms are there and it'd be a rough transition without a steady keeper," Horatio agreed.  "We have one applicant who wants it more than anything.  I'd like to give her a shot as well but she'd probably do better with Mac."

Danny coughed.  "I love Mac, but the problem we had before is still there," Danny admitted.  "Let the new trainee head that way."

"Which would mean a more restrictive environment for Greg," Horatio agreed.  "Or for her."  They all nodded at that.

"Talk to Greg again, tell him that he might end up on Mac's team but that Stella's not that bad, that she's pretty permissive.  She usually gives you about a month to straighten out personality wise.  Clothing wise she'll say stuff," Danny offered. "How Donna got away with it that long I'm not sure."

"Stella said she tried to hint," Don offered.  "The girl apparently doesn't take them."

"Clearly, or stares of horror because I gave her one," Xander offered.  "I'd hate to see her annual pelvic exam."

"Eww," Danny pointed out.

"Sorry, I hung around with girls for years.  They talked about stuff like that with me."

"Yeah, well," Danny offered, giving him a look.  "No girls here."  He kissed him. "Help him be better, Ryan."

"Sure."  He kissed him, making Xander moan and shift to get more.

"Those two do look pretty together, especially if we could get Wolfe to grow his hair," Don teased, grinning at Danny.

"Bite your tongue, Don," Ryan complained.  "I don't like hair."  He kissed Xander again.

"Nah, he's good with shorter hair.   Makes 'em looked like unmatched book ends."  He grinned at Horatio.  "Donna's not the one, right?"

"No.  I would never accept someone that slovenly in my department.  Especially since I've heard she's made biological deposits on crime scenes."

"Yeah, I'm guessing Sheldon got the willies when he found her pubic hair on the vic that time," Danny agreed dryly.

"Not hard to do.  She had more hair down there than Xander does on his head," Don complained.  "And that skirt was short enough that you could see the globes of her ass when she walked."  Horatio shuddered.  "Yeah, exactly!  I don't care if a woman doesn't shave.  That's her thing.  Even if she wears shorts or whatever.  That's still her thing.  But that's going towards 'I don't respect myself' land and I can't work with cops like that."

Xander got sent a hard thought and stopped kissing Ryan to grab his head.  "She's pregnant too.  They're going to have to fix that for the birth.  Aphrodite said so."  He went back to kissing Ryan, making him moan and clutch his hips.

"I'm the only one who gets his ass tonight, Wolfe.  It's my turn," he said when Don pouted at him. "I'll let him have you."  Don grinned and blushed, going back to his book.

"I'll let you three play," Horatio offered, smiling at them.

"Thanks, boss," Danny agreed. "And remember, some of the rest of us had families too that had unpretty things in them.  If you need help, you ask.  Eric and I both have contacts you wouldn't expect."

"Some days you're like a normal CSI and some days you're clearly the immortal," Horatio teased.

"Yeah, I know.  Keeps me from bein' bored.  What can I say," he offered with a shit-eating grin.  Horatio walked off smiling.  "Say hi ta Speed since it was his day off."

"I will, Danny."

"Horatio, take some of the fruit," Xander called, getting a smile and he came back to get some and take with him.  "Night."

"Good night, boys."  He headed home, happier now.  He really didn't have to do this alone.

Xander beamed at Ryan.  "Can I pounce you?"

"As long as you don't hurt my back this time."

Xander hugged him.  "Pounce."  Ryan laughed and got up, letting Xander take him inside to cheer him up.  Even if he would be sore in the morning from being ridden near to death.  He was almost asleep on the edge of the bed when Danny and Don came in, watching as he pounced Don for real and had him, making him squeal, squeak, and beg too.  Danny patted his lap and Xander came over, submitting to him, making him one happy guy when he was teased with the ends of Xander's braid.  He got Xander's ass all to himself, even having to stretch it, and it made them both happy people.  They collapsed together and Don shifted closer to Ryan, hugging him.  Ryan smiled and let him cuddle.  He liked a good cuddle and Eric didn't.  Don gave excellent cuddles.  He'd have to remember this.


Ray Senior came out of the closet doorway, looking around.  No more noise, thankfully since he had been embarrassed earlier, so he headed for the kitchen.  He ran into Don, who just grunted and nodded.  "I'm assuming you're the guy Horatio's hiding?" he asked quietly.  Ray nodded.  "That's fine.  Eat, please.  Xander always cooks too much."  He got into the fridge and handed over a casserole dish and a fork.  Plus the milk.  "Here, go eat."  Ray smiled and went to do that, catching sight of the trio on the bed.  Don smiled.  "Yeah, they're pretty together.  Xander is visually stunning between Ryan and Danny.  Go eat." Ray blushed at being caught and went to do that.  Don finished his sandwich and went to watch them sleep.  They were visually pleasing.  He felt some like harem lord at the moment. It was an odd, but good feeling to know that this was his.  He finished up and climbed in behind Ryan, gently snuggling him.  Ryan moaned and shifted, making Don hard since he was rubbing back against him.  "Ryan?" he whispered.


"Sure."   He tested him then slid into the still damp hole, earning a hiss.  "Need more lube?"

"No, Xander rode me hard and put me away wet."

"I could tell."  He gently moved, just gently stroking back and forth in him, making him a happy boy.  "He was needing it.  Most of the time he's really gentle with me.  Last night he was in a pouncing mood."  He reached around to stroke him, getting a deep, satisfying moan from the man attached to him.  "Good boy," he soothed.  "Very nice."  Xander blinked at him.  "Suck him for me, Xander.  Make it good."  Xander moved down to suck Ryan for him, letting him set the rhythm.  He moved a bit faster but not much.  He knew how Xander loved to give long, slow blow jobs to them.  He'd had one that lasted over an hour before.  Ryan finally came and pulled Xander up to kiss him, letting Don come at the prettiness.  Then he put an arm around both of them and they cuddled Ryan between them. "Pull Danny closer, Xander."

"I'm cold," he whispered.  Danny shifted against Xander's back, making him shiver and tense up, but the cock sliding into him was nice.  Ryan held him while Danny worked, and Danny smirked at Don.

"He good?"

"He was very good and Xander gave him one of his nice, slow ones."

"I love those myself. They're great."  He sped up some, making Xander go squeaky this time.  Xander wiggled and rode him, really into it since Ryan was stroking him.  "Suck him, Ryan.  Return the favor."  He moved to do that and Don only let him go enough so he could.  Xander squealed one last time as he came and it was nice.  They drifted off, letting Ryan and Xander hug each other.  Danny looked at Don.  "Next time, you're in the center."  He blushed but nodded.  "Good.  I'd like that.  You and Xander look just as hot."  He leaned over and took a kiss.  "Sleep."

"Sure."  He snuggled in behind Ryan again, getting wiggled against.  It was nice, they were all cuddly tonight.  Even Danny stayed plastered against Xander's back for a long time.


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