Flies Meet Ointment.

Xander came off the plane and shrugged at the Custom's guy, carrying out his bags.  He put them down on the tarmac and then got his jacket and last things, then came out again.  They were hefting his stuff for him.  "Thanks, guys.  I could've gotten that."  He walked inside, smiling at them.  "I had a sudden gambling trip due to a stalker."

"That's fine, sir.  Passport?"  Xander handed it over.  He checked the list then looked at him.  "Sir, your picture doesn't match."

"Hair dye."

"Really?"  He looked at his hair.  "It's a few colors, sir."  Xander sighed and took out his illusion, making him blink.  "How?"

"Magic.  Seen the moving _The Craft_?"  That got a nod.  "That.  Magical hair dye."  He shrugged. "Like I said, I had a stalker."

"I see.  You do know that forging passports is illegal?"

"I've got a totally legitimate one."

"Not by our list, sir."  He waved at someone.  "Let's check your bags, shall we?"

"Sure, but the dog treats are in the smaller one."  That got a nod and they looked through his bags.  They found his laptop but the programs to make passports wasn't on there anymore.  He had burned it down and erased it.  He had gotten a tip that something like this might happen.  The bags with the cash got a few odd looks.  "I went to Monaco to gamble."

"I see," the Immigration agent said.  "May I see your ID please, sir?"  Xander sighed and pulled it out.  "Hmm.  One from California?"

"I'm from there originally."

"By this date, you had it renewed recently?  You live out there?"

"I've got property out there.  I'm keeping it up just in case."

"That's understandable, sir.  Now, the cash?"

"I went to Monaco to gamble. I won a baccarat tournament recently.  Though I left with only slightly less than I've got now."  The drug dogs came out.  "The black bag might have hints of explosive," he said quietly.  "I used to work construction.  We had some demolition jobs and that was my gear bag for work."  That got a nod.  "You can transfer and check if it you want."  That got a nod and they did that when the dog hit on it.  They found his real passport and he shrugged.  "I travel under an assumed name.  Your office knows that."


"I'm a member of GHS."  The man looked confused and Xander sighed, leaning on the table.  The Custom's official pushed him off.  "It's a long story.  If you don't like it, get me a chair."  He looked at the immigration official again.  "In truth, GHS members are often kidnaped.  We're a support society for people with a hormone and pheromone condition."  The officials laughed so Xander let his go, making them moan.  "Like I said, I've got a pheromone and hormone condition that makes people want to take me. We're a support organization for those of us afflicted.  This is why people want to take me.  That's why I have a second identity that I travel under.  So that they can't track me home."

The official shook it off.  "Quit whatever you're doing."  Xander shrugged and got up, opening a door to air out the area.  "Thank you."  He stared at him.  "You can use that offensively?"

"If I must. I can't control it very well.  The last one ended up committing suicide because I had him arrested and he realized he couldn't have me."  The Custom's guy moaned at that. "I got my second passport through you guys."

"We have information saying you're helping forge them."

"No, if I was, I wouldn't support myself by gambling," he said dryly. "Do I know how? Yeah.  I do. It's one of those things that might become necessary the next time I'm kidnaped.  If you check with the local PD, they've had to rescue me a number of times.  I'm on a watch list by them for being kidnaped."  The official walked outside to make that call and finish clearing his head.  Xander smiled at the dog handler. "Can I pet him?  I miss my dalmatians and my ferrets."

"Sorry, sir.  It'll go against his training."

"I understand.  I trained mine to guard me."  He shrugged.  "I thought all guys knew what GHS was at his level."

"Apparently not," the Custom's official said, shoving him off the table again.  "Did you have to do that?"

"It proved my point, it was the simplest method without blood work.  So yes. I did."  He glared at him and the man backed off.  The official came back.  "Well?"

"They do have you on a list to watch out for you being kidnaped.  The officer who answered told me all about your organization.  Support organization?"

"Who else is going to understand us?  Yes, the conventions get a bit wild," he admitted.  "We're all hedonists thanks to this condition."  He shrugged.  "I can live on chocolate, yay me."  The official gave him a dirty look.  "Sorry."  He rested his hip against the table and got shoved again.  "He does that again and I'm hitting him," he noted.  The official snorted.  Xander glared at him.  "Think I'm kidding?  I don't like being hit and shoved. I got enough of that from the last person who took me and tried to sell me.  Now, can I go?"

"I'm going to have to confiscate that passport."

"Your office made it."

"If you say so it won't matter.  We'll issue you a new one."  Xander shrugged. "And your other one."

"Yay me.  And?"  He handed them both over and took his wallet back.  "Anything else?  I'm bored now and need my chocolate fix."

"No, sir, nothing else yet.  But we will be in touch."

"Yay.  I've got a lawyer, you can go through him."  He gathered up his bags.

"Not the cash, sir."

"Unfortunately, if you looked, you'd see I left with two bags of cash to go gambling with.  It was noted on the forms the first Custom's official filled out.  You confiscate it over your dead body and with a warrant."  He walked off with his things, getting a trolley once he was inside.  He came back for his last bag, walking off with it.  He headed out to a cab and got in, giving him the address for home.  He got an odd look.  "What?"

"You don't look like you live out there, sir.  They're mostly older."

"Mine's the one with all the trees."  That got a nod and they headed out.  If he needed verification, the neighborhood patrol guys could verify him for the cabbie and others. He paid him from one of the bags and hefted everything inside with his help.  "Thank you."  He smiled. "Have a nice day, Officer."

"You too, Mr. Harris." He looked at him. "How did you afford this?"

Xander laughed.  "I'm a member of GHS.  How do you think I did? I cashed out some gifts."  A new one appeared beside him and he looked, smiling up.  "Thank you.  I needed some chocolate."  He nibbled on it and the cabbie/officer stared at him.  "Demons love me, what can I say?  It's about where I'm from."  That got a nod and he headed out.  His passports and a new box landed beside him, making him smile. "They'll come after me for that."  He opened the box, pulling out the ring. "It's pretty, but Danny and Don still have to agree."  He went to check on his babies, getting frantic squeaks. "Did the other daddies ignore you?  Spot?  Hubert!"  They came in off the front lawn and he pulled out the ferrets to pet them all, getting lovies.  "Daddy brought home treats.  Spot, sniff out the treats."  He went to do that, with his twin, and they drug back the smaller bag.  "Good boys!"  He petted them both and got out the cans of treats, giving them some, the ferrets theirs, and the dragon a new chewtoy, earning a snort of pleasure.  "Good boy, Hubert. Did the daddies take good care of you while I was in Europe?"  That got another pleased snort and they settled in to play and be spoiled by him.  It was great being Xander's pet.

He called Cordy. "I'm back from Europe," he bragged. "Just Monaco.  No, I went to ditch a sniper who was trying to kill me and went to play baccarat.  Yes, the one on the Bond films, Cordy.  Yes, I still have the gay hair.  But now I've got four ferrets, two dogs, and a dragon.  You should come meet them."  He grinned.  "Sure!  Of course I can.  Things going okay out there?  No, Ryan wouldn't let me when I was being taken back.  He didn't want another one to take me after the psycho cult wanted to take out my heart."  Someone pounded on the door.  "Gotta go.  Someone's at the door.  Sure, I'll send plane tickets."  He hung up and got up, going out to answer it.  He noticed the passports were gone again, and so was his wallet.  He opened it to find the Immigration official.  "Problems?"

"Your passport seems to have disappeared, Mr. Harris.  Would you know anything about how that happened?"

"No.  Not a clue.  Maybe one of my fanclub did it?"  He shrugged.  "You had them when I left and I took a cab being driven by one of you guys.  He was there when I walked out and helped me carry things inside."  He waved a hand.  "I'm just now spoiling my pets and having some chocolate."  He pulled some white chocolate out of the freezer and set it to warm up some on the counter.  "Want some when it's warmer?"

"No!  I want to know how you did that."

"I didn't do that.  You can search my things again if you want."  He squatted down to do that while Xander watched, shrugging at his evil glares.  "I told you so."  He got a knife and chipped into the chocolate, letting the dog have a sliver when he came in.  "You're not supposed to have that.  So no more of that tonight.  Stick with the puppy treats I brought you."  He looked at the agent as he nibbled. "Anything else?  Because you losing my passport isn't going to look good when I report you for harassment."  The man stormed out.  He shrugged and took the phone with him back to the living room to go back to petting everyone.  The ferrets wiggled around in the bag, making him happy.  "Awww, did you guys need new toys?" he cooed, pulling some out.  That got him happy animals and he called Horatio.

"Can you warn my boys I'm back and that there's a frothing Immigration official?  Because my passports disappeared from his grasp.  I told him why, he didn't like that.  I even proved I've got the medical condition we all share in the group.   No, he and the Custom's guy hated that even more.  I'm trying.  No, I'm playing with the dogs.  Why?"  He shrugged.  "Why can't I play poker again?"  He sighed.   "Horatio, it was the only way I was getting out of the house most afternoons," he pouted.  "No, I can't find a more worthwhile thing to do.  And hey, look at the money they weren't able to use since you said one was a bad guy."  He grinned.  "Well, it is true.  They couldn't use it if I had it."  He pouted.  "Must I?"  He whined.  "Please?"  He pouted. "Fine.  If I must give up playing poker with them.  No, I'm not.  I'll go back to my old level.  Do I care?  It's how I'm getting out of the house.  Whine, Horatio."  He hung up and went back to petting everyone, then called Fu's, speaking in Mandarin, which he was learning from the waiters.

"It's Xander.  I just found out my boys were following me when I came there.  Can you deliver dinner and my stashes to me?  Wy knows.  Thanks, Fu.  Of course I still love you for dinner, Fu.  You're my favorite chef.  No, I'm being ordered I can't play anymore," he said with a pout.  One of the dogs licked him so he smiled.  "Thank you, Spot.  That was very nice to puppy kiss the daddy."  He gave him another treat and heard the laugh.  "I know, but he's my dog!  He's allowed to lick me like that."  He smiled.  "Thanks.  Yeah, all of them.  No, they told Caine and he's ordering my keeper and protector to keep me from playing in that circle.  So I'll go back to the other one again.  No, they know I go there to play and I don't want to cause you problems the times that they drag me out of there by my hair for being out without a guard.  Thanks, Fu, and promise Wy a good tip.  Thanks."  He hung up and went back to playing.  That way he'd get dinner too.  When the delivery driver showed up a few hours later, he walked out to help him, leaving the ferrets in the living room.  He did tip the driver one of the bundles of cash, he had plenty, and he did like the most expensive things on the menu.  They carried everything in and Wyatt gave him a list of who still owed him, getting a smile and a nod.  "Thank you."

"Welcome, Xander."  He bowed and left, heading back to the restaurant to pay his boss and put the rest away safely for himself.

Xander drug all the money into the practice room then hid it with a simple illusion then went back to playing.  He brought out the dragon treats for Hubert.  Fu loved his baby dragon.


Horatio hung up with Xander and looked at Ryan, who he was working with.  "Xander said he'd go back to playing poker at the lesser level."

"I'm sure Don and Danny will yell tonight.  So maybe Eric and I will have a guest."  He shrugged. "Hubert likes our bed too."  The officer with them gave him an odd look. "Hubert's the reptile pet Xander has."

"Oh.  Sure," he agreed, nodding at that.  He'd heard rumors of it around the station.

Ryan looked at Horatio.  "Did he call Fu's to get them to deliver everything else?"

"Why, Mr. Wolfe, it appears there's things I don't know about this poker circle," he said dryly.

"I don't know everything but Xander's favorite place to hang out is Fu's.  He loves Hubert too.  Feeds him all sorts of stuff and he's the guy who keeps track of who owes what.  That's why Xander stashes his poker winnings there.  It's a neutral place in the game circuit."  Horatio smirked at that.  "Plus a few of his waiters are lower level thugs going to school to become higher level, more money oriented thugs."

"Wonderful.  Which waiter does Xander work with?"

"Wyatt.  I think he may be a distant cousin of Danny's by looks."

"Interesting."  He nodded. "We'll have to see who still owes Xander money later then."

Ryan smiled.  "I told him that going into that circuit was a bad idea.  He didn't listen."

"He's being a bit defiant.  He said he'd play in the lower circles again."

"No he won't.  They won't let him.  They hardly ever beat him and two of them still probably owe a lot of money.  Then again, Xander winning at gambling against the drug lords he was playing against did keep them from using that money for their stock."

"It did, and it was much appreciated, but still not a habit Xander should continue," he noted dryly.  The officer looked at him again. "Mr Harris."

"Yeah, and?  How did he get there?"

"He won really high at Vegas and got introduced to the rich people high stakes games," Ryan offered as he took more pictures.  He glanced at him.  "He was winning so much they introduced him to the bigger dogs, who're mostly illegal.  I know one of the major dealers in town owned him about two million about a month or so ago."  The officer gaped.  "It kept them from using it for drug deals and Xander had no idea until just before he left.  Then word got back to Horatio and Horatio informed him of it before sending him to Monaco. What was the Immigration guy's beef?"

"His dual passports."

"Hmm.  They home?"

"Not sure.  He warned me that they were fuming because they had disappeared from his grasp.  Xander was playing with his dogs."

"Danny and Don will straighten him out later and make him make another bank run tomorrow morning."

Horatio smiled. "I would hope so. It's always safer in there.  How much did he win?"

"Six hundred thousand."

"Pocket change?" the officer asked bitterly.

"For him, probably, but he still reads all his receipts and argues over pennies too.  Xander's not from money.  He used to work construction."

"Maybe I should switch professions."

"Maybe someone will make a way for normal people to become GHS," Ryan suggested.

"Bite your tongue, Mr. Wolfe.  They'd hate it after the first week."  Ryan laughed and got to work. "Especially after they realized they needed protection."

"Have they always been around?" the officer asked, looking depressed.  Horatio nodded.  "How long?"

"The group formed in the sixteen hundreds," Horatio offered with a small smile.  "They were all concubines before then and they are now, only now they know they have the right not to be stolen, sold, and castrated."  He shuddered at that.  "Still want to take the shot?"

"Not really.  Thanks anyway, sir."  He went back to watching the people around the scene.

Horatio and Ryan shared a look and a small smile before getting back to work.


Danny walked in first and found Xander napping on the couch with the ferrets on his chest.  "Hey, boys and girls.  Let's get back in there for a litterbox break."  He put them back into the cage and shut them in, then petted the dragon, which woke Xander up.  "Welcome home."

"Thanks."  He pulled him down for a kiss.  "Did the big meany immigration guy pounce you?"

"He did.  He's watching the house."  He took another kiss.  "I saw the Chinese."

"Fu's.  He loves Hubert."  He grinned. "Where's Don?"

"Going to bust Fu's."  He smirked when Xander groaned.  "He's doing illegal stuff?"

"No, he keeps track of stuff.  He's a neutral guy."

"I'll make sure Don knows that.  Now, let's go see the winnings, Xander."  Xander sighed and got up, letting the dragon and dogs follow while he called Don.  "He said he's a neutral guy, he only keeps track of stuff, Don.  Yeah, I said I'd tell you."

"Tell him to bring home more dragon treats and to tell him it wasn't my fault."

"He said to bring home more dragon treats and to tell him it wasn't his fault."  He hung up on the snort.  "He said he would if he could."  Xander handed over the original two bags of money.  Danny looked at him. "Are you lying?"

"You'll yell."

"There's probably a good reason if I yell, Xander."

"No there's not.  I was out playing poker, Danny.  It's not like I was committing murder or something."  He sat down with a pout, cuddling his pet.

"Xander," he warned.  Xander gave him a defiant look.  "You want to think about your answer before I spank you?"

"You spank me I'm breaking your hand."

"Okay."  He sat down across from him. "Usually you'd tell us this stuff."

"It's going to come back on me and they're all going to hate me."

"Why do you care what they think?  They're thugs."

"So!  I care what people think about me.  Even thugs.  That makes me care. Yay me."

Danny took a deep breath.  "They're not going to go against you, Xander.  We've had Fu's under watch for the last few weeks."  He shifted closer, watching as Xander moved.  "You done?" he asked coolly.  "You're acting like you've got something to hide."

"I have no idea why you're so upset.  I was playing poker.  It's not like I helped them do that shit."

"No, you didn't.  You also didn't tell us."

Xander looked at him.  "Has it occurred to you if I hadn't gotten the bag you still wouldn't know?"  Danny glared.  "Seriously.  You knew I played games now and then.  Not who I was playing with or anything."

"You're right, I didn't.  You didn't tell us so we could know."

"You never wanted to know."

"Not true."

"I told you and you blew me off."

"It was a story about some guy and his bimbo."

"Yeah, and how he was setting up his bimbo to take the fall for his drug trade, Danny.  I told you that part too.  You still blew me off."  Danny stiffened at that.  "I tried.  You didn't want to hear.  So no, I'm not going to tell you anything about them.  For the very simple reason of yes, I do care what they think about me, and yes, I don't want shot if this ends up coming back to me."

"No one would hurt you."

"They shot at me at the police station!" he said angrily. "I'm not two!"

"You're not," he agreed. "Though you're throwing a temper tantrum."  He stared him down.  "How about this?  The first thing they did was arrest one of the lesser guys who got someone into there."  Xander shrugged.  "It won't lead back to you, Xander."

"It already has.  Fu said so earlier."  Danny stared.  "He did."  He shrugged. "They all know someone was watching me when I went to take my sudden trip.  The same as Fu knew he was being watched.  That's why he sent over so much lo mein.  He had to use it I guess."  He stared at him.  "We all know I'm not part of that life.  I was there to play poker and get out of the house.  They knew that too.  Some of the other guys there were straight."  Danny sighed and nodded at that.  "So no, however you did it, it's still coming back to me.  You still didn't want to listen to me when I had information I wanted to give you, and no, I'm not going to show you what Wyatt brought over today or who else owes me money."

Danny looked at him.  "One of them paid you in drugs."

"Then you're welcome to them and I'll get my money some other way."  He unhid them, making Danny gape in horror.  "What?"  He looked and shrugged.  "It's a lot of money.  I played high stakes.  I played plenty of hands that the beginning bet was over a hundred grand."  He looked at the dogs.  "Find the drugs."  The dogs sniffed and pawed so he moved some of the bags.  They each found one and he pulled those out.  Another was found on the bottom so he pulled that out.  "Good boys!  Go get me the toy!"  They ran off to get him the ball, bringing it back fighting over it.  Danny tossed it, smiling at them.  "They're good dogs."  He searched those bags, dropping the packets of drugs in one onto a pile in front of Danny, then the full bag of drugs was handed over as it was.  "There.  I'll find out tomorrow from Wyatt who those ones were and they'll actually pay me."

"I don't want you going back.  It's dangerous."

"It wasn't before you decided to use me, Danny."

"They're bad guys."

"I know that.  I tried to tell you that.  You still didn't listen.  Now, get the drugs out of the house. I don't want them here."  He summoned the phone and threw the ball for the dogs, smiling at the answer.  "Hi, Fu.  Who paid me in drugs?  Yeah, well, let them know I'm not happy and since I'm dating two cops, they've got them.  They're paying me or else I'm giving over their names.  Yeah, I'm serious.  We all know I'm straight. Thank you.  Speaking of, lo mein?"  He smiled.  "Thanks, man.  Sure, I could use it."  He hung up and went to play with the dogs, making them happy puppies and the dragon happy when Wyatt came back with his book and the rest of his order.  "Got stuck?"

"Kitchen fire.  We didn't know what your boys wanted."  He nodded at Danny and handed Xander his list, sitting beside him on the floor.  "That's who paid you in drugs, that's also who left drugs."

"Hmm, they didn't find some."

"I'm going to search and do a count," Danny said firmly.

"Get the other ones out of here and let Horatio do that," Xander ordered.  "I don't want them in my house.  I hate drugs."  Danny nodded, going to take them in and sending Eric to find the others.  He handed over the list.  "We found the cocaine."

"Sure."  He went in there with the dogs to teach them those scents too.  He had found out how to from the K-9 corps.  They thought it was a good idea and they heard Spot was partially trained already. He came out with a larger baggie. "I should confiscate the bags they were hidden in."

Wyatt looked at him.  "Mostly they were samples and temptations, or they forgot and left some in there from their personal use stash," he offered.  "Only one paid him in drugs and Detective Messer had it."

Eric looked at him.  "You look like Danny."

"I'm his cousin. That's why I agreed to handle Xander's debt book when asked.  He's family."  He shrugged.  "Anything else, Detective?"  That got a head shake.  "Then I will tell you this, as I was ordered.  We at Fu's are neutral.  We keep track of who owes what.  There's nothing illegal in that.  The same as we store things for people.  Even Xander only stores money with us.  Even the General only stores money with us.  We're like an odd bank for the gaming circuits."  Eric nodded at that.  "Thank you for passing that back.  The General should've held his tongue.  We knew Xander was going to tell on him.  Unfortunately no one listened sooner before his former girl went down for the deal and died."  He walked off, going to tell his boss what he had said by giving him the tape.  He made some calls on Xander's behalf, pointing out that he was back, he wanted the rest of what he was owed since his boyfriends were making him withdraw from the circle.  And to not pay him in drugs because he hated drugs and he was going to turn in any drugs he found.  It got a clear message sent to someone. Then he let himself be questioned when Xander's other boyfriend and the other detective came in.


Horatio looked outside when he saw the corvette pull in.  "Officer Kyle, please help the idiot GHS member into my office please?" he said lightly.

"Yes, Lieutenant."  He went to do that, getting swatted.  Horatio rolled his eyes and went to meet him up there.  He saw him limping.  "What did you do this time?"

"I was trying to jog and I tripped over a squirrel."  He sat down with a sigh and handed over a bag.  "That got sent for you to my house.  It's from Tumie."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I told Danny, he wasn't listening."

"I can guarantee you that won't happen again," Horatio assured him. He sat behind his desk, nodding the officer out while he opened the bag.  He looked at the files, pulling the first one out to look over, then he smirked.  "Well.   Interesting.  I'll have to send him a thank you note."  He looked at Xander.  "You could have come to me."

"You have enough to worry about, Horatio.  Including Danny."

"Point.  I still would have listened."  Xander shook his head.  "You think not?"

"I started to tell the same story at dinner one night and you and Frank gave me dirty looks for talking about the poker circle."  He stood up.  "I only came to drop that off since it felt like files.  Anything else?"

"Next time I'll listen, Xander."

Xander shrugged. "What does it matter?  Now they're going to try to kill me because it still led back to me, Horatio."  He walked off, heading down to the car.  He hated that he healed slower than everyone other immortal he knew.  He had only broken his ankle.  It had already been two hours and it hadn't healed yet.  He headed home, going to figure out what he wanted to do. Then he decided to head out to the farm. He went to find his horses.  He found the former owners were doing a wonderful job.  He had given them a bag of the cash for daily expenses and told them to do whatever needed to be done.  He didn't care about a profit.  They had painted everything and repaired a few fences, then expanded the garden some.  He parked and got out, heading to the stable, nodding at the stablehands.  They all smiled at him.

He petted Ryan's two mares.  They were both drowsy so he left them alone and went down to a stall on the end.  The foal had been left with them when the family decided to adopt him.  He was getting big!  He gave him a few carrots from the pail beside the door, making him a happy colt.  "You're a good boy," he soothed, getting nuzzled.  He smiled and let him have another one.   Then he went to check on his horse.  No one realized he had one.  Ryan thought the family owned him and he had never corrected him.  He walked him out to brush him, checking his feet and the stall. It was perfectly clean.  He smiled at his boy.  "Hey, wanna go for a ride?"  His stallion nuzzled him so he smiled and got his tack.  He stood still for him.  He got a lead line for the colt too.  He waved at the wife as he led them outside, getting a nod and a smile.  He liked to take the colt out.  He learned by example of the bigger horses.  He mounted using the fence to get high enough.  His Arabian was eighteen and three quarters hands tall at the shoulder.  He was a big boy.  He settled himself and unhooked the lead line from the saddle, then leaned down to open the fence into the paddock.

The foal kicked up a bit, wanting to play, but he settled down to ride with them.  It was a pretty day for a ride.  Even if the weathermen had said it was going to rain.


Frank looked over as a sulky Danny walked in.  "Ray wanted to know if you guys were going riding this weekend with him, Ryan, and Xander."

"I'm not sure Xander likes me at the moment. He claims he tried to tell me and I didn't listen."

"Did you?"

"I don't remember the story he was talking about."

"Then you probably didn't. I tune out my wife now and then too.  She babbles nearly as much as your boy when she's happy."  He shrugged.  "That's why I had to be reminded of my nephew's christening.  My sister adopted."  Danny smiled at that.  "Where is the boy now?  I'd suggest apologizing."

"So would I but he's not at home."

"Maybe he's off with his horse."

"He doesn't have a horse, Frank."

"Yeah he does.  He wanted my opinion on buying a saddle that matched the horse's hair or coordinating and did I think purple went well with black."  Danny moaned.  "So apparently he does have a horse."

Danny walked off.  "Wolfe, did my boy buy a horse?" he demanded just a bit loudly.

Ryan shrugged.  "The people who used to own the farm and run it for him now have a black Arabian they own that Xander rides now and then.  Plus they adopted that colt but he's at least a year from being ridden."

Danny moaned and smacked himself on the head.  "I doubt they bought a horse with their daughter still so sick, Wolfe."

"Oh, then Xander owns a really pretty black Arabian stallion who's eighteen and three quarters hands tall. Nearly mutant tall really.  He goes out and takes the colt with him all the time to show him how big horses act.  He treats the colt a lot like a baby now and then really."  He smiled.  "We're going riding this weekend with Ray and Adam if you wanted to come."

"No, I think I want to spank."

"You do and he'll leave," Ryan said simply, getting back to work.

"Did you know who he was playing poker with?"

"Adam did.  He went to him for advice. He's the one who suggested Xander tell you the story."  He glanced over at him, seeing the horrified look.  "Adam's probably had to run in those circles in the past," he said quietly.

"Probably.  Why doesn't he talk to me? Or Don?  Don lets him babble at him all day on his days off."

"He has to, neither of you listen when you get home. Xander knows not to tell me anything that'll make me upset.  He knows I'll do something about it.  He learned that long ago when we were taken together and he told me some of the guys in the marketplace were picking on   him about being who he is.  And I went and got into a fight.  So no, he doesn't tell me those things.  He tells them to you guys because you guys supposedly love him."  He glanced over again and Danny stormed off.  "Good.  Maybe he got the point," he muttered, going back to checking the photos for clues.


Danny parked and got out at the farm, looking up at the sky.  It was getting dark.  He saw the husband on the porch. "He still out?"

"Yup, but the foal came back a few hours ago trailing his line with a note of 'he's fine, just tired from the heat'."  He looked at him then shrugged.  "Maybe his dogs could track him for you?  Make sure he's all right?  His horse is a bit high strung now and then.  Sound shy during storms."

"Yeah, maybe."  He called Don.  "Bring Spot out to the farm. Xander's not back yet.  Thanks."  He hung up and went to look at the foal for clues.  The brush had some twigs but nothing else.  There was a lot of trees that looked like that if he remembered right.  He looked down at the nudge, finding the dragon.  "Why are you here?"  He looked up to see Don.  "Couldn't find the dogs?"

"They're in the car.  Where's Xander?"

"Not back yet."  He picked up the dragon.  "Let me get one of Ryan's mares."

"You sure we should without asking?"

He called him.  "Wolfe, Xander's not back in yet, we're going riding looking for him.  Yes, that means I'm borrowing yours."  The colt nuzzled the dragon, who nuzzled back so he let them play together for now.  "Thanks."  He hung up. "He'll be right out.  You go with him?"

"You sure?  You can go. You ride better than I do.  You're also more worried.  Xander can handle a little storm, Danny."

"His horse is a bit high strung, doesn't like storms."

"Oh.  Okay.  Then you and Ryan go out because you two need to talk.  He and I talked."  Danny gave him a dirty look.  "He didn't want me to get in trouble by going to hit the guy so he told you instead.  It was Adam's suggestion.  Plus I do things with him on my days off.  He thinks you don't like him anymore."  He went to get the dogs out of the car, smiling and waving when Ryan pulled in. "He's in there letting the dragon play with the colt."

"He'll be a pretty ride when he's older," Ryan admitted, walking in there with the dogs behind him.  He pulled out one of his mares, letting Danny get the other one. "You remember how to do this?"

"Did it in my youth but horses always hated me."  He got his saddled up and put a bridle on her, no matter how much she hated him doing it.  "I know, he can ride you without one.  I can't."  He climbed up and they headed out with the dogs.  Don let them into the pasture and waved.  "You sure?"

"Definitely, I'm going to stay dry in case you need me."  He went back inside to play with the dragon and the colt.

Ryan looked at the dogs.  "Hunt the daddy down!  Hunt the daddy!"  They took off running after a sniff of Danny's horse.  They trotted after them.  They were good dogs.  "They're still very well trained."

"If he's not in trouble, I'm going to scream," Danny told him.

"You do that, he's going to come live with Eric and I again tonight."  Danny glared at him. "Did you think he spent it on Horatio's couch?  He's not thrilled with him either at the moment.  If Ray had a spare room, he'd have went there."  They walked their horses over a fallen log.  The dogs yipped and he smiled.  They had found a strong trail.  They followed it, finding a stream with a horse napping beside it and Xander napping beside him.  The horse moved to get in their way.  "Shh, baby.  We're here to wake the Xander up. There's a storm coming.  We know you don't like them."  The horse still got in his way.  He dismounted and the soft nose sniffed him then gave him a nudge away.

Danny got down and walked around him, ignoring his tries to protect his boy.  "Don't even," he said when the horse nearly knocked him over.  "He's mine."  The horse backed off with the help of the dogs and Ryan grabbing his reins.  He watched his boy sleep.  He looked so young!  He knelt beside him and kissed him.  "Hey."  Xander blinked up at him. "There's a storm coming and you've been gone for hours. I should yell that you fell asleep out here."

"I'm safe here."

"You're not safe here.  There's no wards here, Xander.  Nothing to protect you if something were to happen."  Xander pointed at the fairy ring next to him and he sighed. "Fine, there's magical protections and you probably made friends with them.  You still need to come home so we can talk."

"If you're going to leave me, just leave already.  Quit drawing it the fuck out."

Danny gave him a look. "I'm not leaving."

"You seem like it."

"I'm not leaving," he said firmly.  "You're mine, Xander.  Even if I need a vacation I'm still not leaving you."  He hauled him up.   "I'm not like that."

"How would I know?"  He kept himself from sneering.  "All I know is that you never seem to give a damn anymore.  What else was I supposed to think."  A fairy flew up and he smiled, letting her land on his hand.  "We're all right, just having a small fight.  We'll have it at home so we don't disturb the colony."  She smiled and nodded, flying off.  "Give me a leg up, Ryan?  The stump's rotted and it cracked under me last time." Ryan helped him back up and he settled into the saddle, looking at his dogs.  "Come on, guys, lets go for a run."  He walked his horse off in the other direction.  "Tell them we'll be home in the morning, I'm camping."

"You're coming home, Xander. It's going to storm," Ryan protested.

"I can camp in storms too."  He trotted off, letting his horse break into a canter, an easy lope covering the ground.  He knew these woods and knew where he was going.

"Crap," Ryan complained, getting up onto his horse.

"Go," Danny ordered.  "We need ta talk apparently."  Ryan gave him a look.  "I'm sure.  Go."  Ryan nodded and turned, trotting back, enjoying his ride.  Danny looked at the horse.  "I know, you don't like me much."  He climbed back up.  "Let's go after my idiot boy."  The horse stood there.  "After the boy and the dogs."  He kneed it gently and it walked off.  He encouraged her to go faster.  He heard one of the dogs bark and the horse sped up at that.  "Good, someone else who was trained to be protective of my boy."  He held on when the horse jumped and that was all he needed to do really.  He found Xander jumping a fence and whimpered.  His mare jumped too.  "Can you quit that?" he called at his lover.

"Go home, Danny, I can camp."  The dogs ran ahead.  "Left," he called.  They turned left.  He smiled and headed with them, letting his horse pick his own path.  He knew where he was going.  There was an old house out here that was abandoned but still mostly standing.  He'd camped out here before. The dogs found it and barked so he slid off his horse when they got there, taking off his saddle so he could get comfortable.  He rolled around for a minute then went to nibble on the grass in the late sunshine next to the building.  Xander headed inside once he had some wood for a fire.  His canteen was filled earlier so he had water.  He settled in to get comfortable, playing with and checking the dogs for injuries.  He heard Danny pull up and sighed, looking at his dog.  "I don't know why he followed," he muttered.  They went out to greet the daddy, playing in the drops of rain that were following.  Xander went to get the horses and bring them inside, both horses shaking themselves dry.  He settled down in front of the fire again once they were comfortable and he had gathered some of the long grass from the pasture.  He took off his shirt, letting it dry on Danny's saddle.

Danny sat across from him.  "Now that we're stranded, can we talk?"

"I did."

"Okay, then let me talk."  He looked at him for a few minutes.  "I'm not leaving. I don't know where you got that idea but I don't leave people, Xander. I never have."  Xander looked at him. "Yes, I've been tired recently.  Crime's been hell and Horatio's been moping since his family is gone.  Speed's been helping him so we've covered for them.  All of us are tired and a bit cranky.  Even Frank.  That's why lunch last time wasn't as happy as usual.  I'm sorry I didn't listen.  I should have.  I know that."

"You're always tired."

"I'm not."

"You are.  You're always tired, you're coming home and drinking.  You're always a bastard every night and most mornings."  Danny slumped at that.  "Is it me?  Am I too much work again?"

"No. This has nothing to do with you.   Yes, I could probably use a vacation."

"I spent two weeks away!" he complained.

"I know you did.  I worried the whole time you were gone."

"You can't have it both ways, Danny.  You know that."  He got up to settle his horse down when the first crash of lightening went off.  He knew he was fussy about storms.  He ended up letting him back out before he reared or ran into the fire.  He watched him work off his nervousness.  When he came back he used his shirt to wipe him down.  "I know, storms aren't good to your native herds," he soothed.  His horse calmed down and Ryan's horse nibbled his sleeve so he gave her some attention too.

Danny came over to help, using his shirt to wipe down Xander's horse with him so Xander could spoil and fuss.  "There are times when you and trouble are like boys and mud, magnetically drawn to each other," he said finally.  "I don't like that.  That's why I worried while you were gone.  That someone from that circle would come after you or that you'd get stolen again where we couldn't help.  Then you came home and things got exposed a bit more and I got angry."  Xander looked at him.  "I did."

"I noticed.  Then you came to bed drunk a few times and I went to sleep on the couch."

"And at Ryan's."

"No that was last night."  He finished rubbing them both down, making two content horses.  He went outside and brought in some more armfuls of grass for them, making them happy too.  He looked at Danny.  "Do you really think I'm that stupid and naive?"

"Sometimes. It seems like you blunder into things that no one else can."

"No, others can.  Greg nearly got taken as the consort of a drug lord last week."  Danny groaned.  "No one realized he needed help even when he hinted strongly when he ran into someone in public.  Catherine finally recognized him and sent up an alarm.  They found him tied to a chair in his house and higher than hell because he had injected him with stuff."  Danny shuddered. "And they yelled at him."

"I see the moral."  He looked at him.  "Greg okay?"

"He's fine now.  They still think he's an idiot boy too."

Danny glared at him.  "Now and then, you do manage to do that, Xander."  Xander sat down and went back to tending the fire.  He looked at him and got the point.  "Where were you and who found you?"

"Frank found me and I was verbally swatting at the idiot.  See, true idiots have no brains and they do stupid things. I went to the grocery store.  Oh, Frank knows about immies.  He found me healing.  He had stabbed me in the arm and I was still healing."

"Excuse me?  Where was I?"  Xander shrugged and looked at him.  "You don't know where I was?"

"I have no clue where any of you were.  Then again, I have no idea why Frank was there."  He threw another few sticks onto the fire.  He settled in to peel one. "I wanted the quiet tonight, Danny. I need to think."

"You've had plenty.  Now it's time to talk."  He sat down across from him again, watching as the animals gathered around him.  "I feel like they're going to kick my ass if I upset you."

"Ryan trained his horse to watch over me if he was gone.  We had to do some mild camping when he stole me back over there.  The dogs were trained by me to guard me.  I know I need it."  He smiled at his horse. "He's naturally protective.   His whole kind are. They've guarded their people over the centuries in the desert."  He looked at Danny again.  "There are days when I wish Don was that protective."

"He is.  You don't let him protect you.  We've been trying and you push us aside."

"No, you've been trying to chain me to the house again.  Big difference, Danny."  He gave him a heated look across the fire. "There is."

"It's not our intention.  We're trying to protect you.  It's not like we can quit our jobs to be with you all the time."

"I never asked you to.  I did ask you to find me someone for days when I felt the need to get out of the house.  He never followed through."

"He was shot in his house by a guy breaking in," he said quietly.

"See, I didn't know that."

Danny slumped and rubbed his face.  "Why are you making this more difficult?"

"I'm not.  I'm pointing out things here, Danny. We don't communicate.  Ever.  You never told me the guy had gotten shot.  I thought he decided not to take the job.  I try to talk to you and you don't listen.  Don has football ear, he's listening to the game and listening for key words when I talk to him. I feel like I'm talking to statues when I talk to you two.  My horse listens better than either of you do.  Hell, Eric listens better and he's tired of me at the moment because he wants Ryan to his and only his again."  He slumped over, going back to peeling his stick.  He heard Danny move.  "You walk out of here, you move out," he said coldly.  Danny swatted him.  "Get off."  Danny sat down next to him.  "You've made yourself pretty clear, Messer.  Very, very clear.  I'm a burden to you."

"You're not."

"Yeah, I am to you.  Since the day Horatio decided you had the better chance of helping me, you've seen me as a burden.  Someone to rehabilitate and send back into the wilds again like some animal that got freed from a private collector's zoo."  He felt the hand stroking his back and flinched away.  Then he yelped when his hand and the fire met.  He blew on it, cooling it down, going outside to stand in the rain for a while.  It would heal, just like his leg had when he had broken it by tripping over the squirrel.  He watched it heal.  It was still too slow for some reason.  "I should go through a metal detector, see if someone shot me or something," he muttered.  Danny pulled him back inside to look at his hand.  "I'm fine."

"You're not fine.  You're injured and you're healing too slow.  You're right, you should be checked over.  I'll have Sheldon do it tomorrow night after their ME's shift."  He sat him down again and sat behind him, working on the tense shoulders.  "I'm not going to hurt you," he said when Xander didn't relax.


"I'm not.  Even on the days I want to spank you I don't.  I manage not to."  He went back to work, then ended up tickling him to make him relax.  The horses got away from the flaming stick he kicked across the stone floor so Danny went to toss it back onto the fire.  It had been his fault.  He got behind Xander again, trying to calm him down.  "I'm not going to hurt you," he said quietly.  "I'm not like that, Xander."

"Again, how would I know?"

"I yell, I don't hit my boyfriends or girlfriends.  Now, would you please relax!"  Xander relaxed finally, making him study him.  "What happened to your hair?  It's shorter."

"It's how I pulled it up today."  Danny pulled it down.  "Don't trust me?"

"Seeing if that's why you're healing so slowly."  He found the broken spot, looking at it.  Then at his boyfriend.  He looked at his back, palpitating slowly across it.  He found the spot he wanted and took the bullet out with his pocket knife, ignoring the hisses and swats.  It healed much faster.  He found another few spots. "When were you shot in the back?"  Xander shrugged. "You don't remember dying?"

"No."  He looked back.  "Did I?"

"Yeah, probably."  He pulled out a last one and put them into his pocket, then he checked his hand. It was healed finally.  His back was finishing healing the last two spots.  It was as it should be mostly.  He found another spot that annoyed him and felt it, finding a lump.  "What's that?"

"Been there for years."

"Doesn't mean it's not dangerous."

"It's not.  The doctor said it's a swollen gland or something.  With my luck that's what made me GHS."

Danny gave his head a look, considering swatting it.  "It's not."  He used his thumbs to feel it, moving it between them. "It's not connected."  He pulled out his pocket knife and Xander flinched away from him.  "Let me, it could be something serious."  Xander sighed and let him check it by cutting open a small piece of skin.  Xander hissed and flinched more but that was all right.  He found the knot and looked at the pale growth.  It wasn't normal tissue.  He cut it out and let him see it, getting a confused look.  "That's not normal tissue, Xander."

"So it's a growth.  It's not going to kill me, right?"

"No, probably not," he agreed.  "It might make you die though."  He patted down Ryan's saddle bag, coming out with a small baggie.  He checked it then he put the growth in there with the bullets.

"Thank you but I'm fine."

"I know you are.  You have been so far.  How long have you had that?"

"Ten...no, just after I started hunting it swelled.  The doctor said he had noticed a small thing there before but this clearly wasn't dangerous."

"Bet me!  It could've been cancerous."


"Xander, you wouldn't have turned if you had died of cancer.  Only a violent death."  Xander slumped forward.  Danny watched him.  He could have lost him a long time ago.  It  put things into perspective.  "Now and then you make me feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone, ya know that?"  He pulled Xander back against his chest.  "That and you attract trouble like no one else.  It's frustrating now and then."  He gave him a cuddle, moving their feet so they wouldn't be near the fire.  He looked down and found Xander asleep in his arms.  No, he was wrong, he wasn't breathing.  He checked his back, the lump was back.  He woke up and Danny held him, shhing him until he calmed down again.  "How many times has that happened in recent memory?"

"I don't keep track of it," Xander said tiredly.

"When did it start?"

"Probably a few days after I got back."

"Uh-huh."  He felt him go again and got up, looking him over.  He drug Xander away from the fire and listened to his chest.  His heart wasn't beating right.  He looked outside, it had quit raining.  He called Sheldon.  "Can you come to where we are with a kit and a metal detector, a hand held one?  No, Xander's dying repetitively."  He nodded. "Let me check his GPS thing on his watch."  He got into that function and read it off.  "We're a few miles from the farm.  No, we're talking.  I removed five already, Sheldon.  Yeah, please."  Xander gasped and woke up. "Shh, Sheldon's on his way."  Xander nodded. "What's the easiest way to get here?"

"Go to the old rusted gate on the same road the farm's on and head through it for about a mile."  He winced as he got up.  "I can give him a ride."

"No, I'll take your horse and give him a ride in.  Which way?"  Xander pointed. "Okay, you stay here and do whatever.  Be there soon, Doc."  He hung up.  "One of them apparently loosened earlier when I was removing one or when you were jumping the fences."  He looked at Xander's horse, then shrugged.  "You and me, big guy.  Sorry."  He got him resaddled.  Then put his bridle on and used a former windowsill to climb up high enough to get into the saddle.  He walked him off, heading the way Xander had pointed.  He found Sheldon parked and worked to get the gate open, letting him drive inside and park, then they got the gate closed together and he helped Sheldon up onto the horse behind him.  "Xander's," he said.

"He's pretty.  What sort is he?"

"Arabian." He walked him back. "I removed five of them, Doc, all from his back.  He claims he doesn't know when they happened.  I also removed a small growth from his back.  It grew back when he died."

"I'm guessing that would happen.  What did it look like?"

"It's in the bag with the bullets."  That got a nod and he walked them into the building, letting him slide down first before he slid down and got the horse unsaddled again.  "Thanks for this."

"I was bored tonight anyway.  All my stuff's finally unpacked and there's nothing on tv."  He pulled out a stethoscope and frowned. "He's gone again."  He pulled out the metal detector and got to work, marking the places where the others were.  "Someone went in for overkill," he offered when he found three more.  He got to work taking the one in his head out first.  It made him quit dying.  The one in his shoulder was a bit more tricky but it came out.  The one in his ankle he popped it out like a zit once he had made a deep enough incision.  Xander came back to life and his healing factor took over, making them all happier.  He dropped the bullets into the bag, looking at the growth.  "Where was that?"

"Middle of his back."  He helped Xander sit up so he could show him. "There. That lump."

Sheldon felt it. "It's probably not harmful. I know it's not spreading now. It's an unusual shape but it should be fine, Danny."  Danny nodded.  He looked around.  "Is this part of the farm?"  Xander shook his head.  "Trespassing?"

"No one owns here.  It's a nice place to camp.  I wanted quiet but Danny got pushy."

"As proven by your poker circle, your instincts lead you into trouble, Xander," Sheldon said patiently.  "They really do."  He patted him on the cheek with a smile.  "The next time your instincts are telling you to play with someone, go do something else."

"They weren't a problem until Horatio decided to bust them."

"I'm sure.  Doesn't matter.  They were a danger if only because drug dealers aren't always mentally stable and they could have shot you across the table for winning."  He stood up and looked at him.  "Now, you two need to talk.  I'll drop this with Horatio so he can have Calleigh run them tomorrow."  He saw the grimace.  "Next time, don't play with thugs."

"I didn't know I was.  I thought I was playing with rich, bored people like me," he defended at the stereo snorts of disbelief.

"Teach Stella, Xander.  She could use the help in poker."   He walked off.  "Which way, Danny?"  He got pointed at.  "Thanks."  He headed off, taking it to his car.  It was a pretty night for a walk.  The humidity had cleared with the storm.  He heard a plane and looked up, frowning.  Danny would hear and handle it while he got back to the station.  Or Horatio's.  He called him once he was back on the road.  "Horatio, it's Sheldon.  Where should I meet you to give you the bullets Danny and I pulled out of Xander?"  He heard the gasp.  "Had me on speaker?"  He smiled.  "No, I'm down the road from the farm.  Apparently Danny chased after him while he wanted some time off from them."  He listened to what Speed had noticed over the last few weeks.  "Horatio, he still blames you for making them go after him.   No, but I did hear a plane landing somewhere nearby.  Sure, I can wait here.  Iron gate down past the farm.  Yeah."  He hung up and shrugged, going back to the gate to wait.  Horatio and Speed pulled up in a hummer, so he let them have the bag.  "I heard a plane land."

"Danny said the same thing.  Could you tell direction?"  Sheldon pointed.  "There's no airstrip that way."

"Census lists another farm then it goes to swampland," Speed offered, looking at the bag.  He pulled out the scanner for bullets and ran the first one, wiping the blood off it.  He counted.  "Eight?"

"He didn't know when it started.  He said a few weeks ago maybe."  Sheldon looked at him.  "I think it's retaliation for the busts of the poker ring."

"Probably true," Horatio agreed.  "Let's take your car, Sheldon. It's less noticeable than an official hummer.  Speed?"

"I can do this."  Horatio nodded and headed off with Sheldon.  Speed found a gun match to the first one and printed it, bagging the bullet by itself with that.  Then he moved on.  After the third one he came to a small bit of tissue.  He frowned and put it into the analyzer, coming up with 'brain tissue, human'.  He blinked and left that alone for now.  The other bullets mostly had matches too and known users that hadn't been touched before.  He called Horatio, but didn't get an answer.  That meant he was watching something.  So he texted the results to Calleigh, getting a 'wtf' back from Eric.  He sent the information files to the lab.  Then he called him.  "Go in.  I've just sent ballistic runs from the back of H's hummer.  No, they took them out of Xander.  He said he's been dying off and on for the last few weeks, Eric.  Yeah, that does, and there's some familiar names."

He hung up and went to look at the tissue.  There was something wrong with it being in the bag.  Sheldon wouldn't have removed more than he needed to.  He was too good for that.  He called Danny.  "Where did the tissue sample come from?"  He listened.  "No, it's brain tissue.  Maybe we should."  He hung up and went back to analyzing it.  It did come back abnormal.  There was only one reason for that.  Xander had a brain tumor and it had spread before he died.  He texted that to Alexx.  She could tell them more when she made him go in for tests.  By the time Horatio called in officially for backup, he had everything almost put away.  So it was easier for him to follow and help stop the drug dealers who had landed.  When they were all carted off, he stopped Sheldon and Horatio.  "The tissue sample in the bag was brain tissue."

"That means he had a tumor that was metastisizing."  Sheldon frowned.  "We need to scan him now.  Could it still be spreading?  Danny said that lump he took out grew back the last time he died."

"The better question, is this why he does stupid shit," Speed told him.  "Could it be hitting his impulse control center?"  Horatio moaned and nodded.  "Then we definitely need to deal with that."

"We do," Horatio agreed.  "Can we get them?"

"They've got two horses and both dogs," Sheldon told him. "Danny will make him go."

"I told Alexx," Speed told them.  They both smiled.  "He'll go first thing in the morning."  That got a nod.  "The real problem, will it grow back too?"

"Maybe not as large," Sheldon offered.  "The new lump didn't seem as large as the old one.  I don't know why since aging stops for us."

"Not a clue either.  We can ask later," Horatio offered.  "Tomorrow, first thing.  Right?" They nodded.  "Good.  We'll tell Danny that.  Any matches?"

"All eight."  He smiled.  "I texted Calleigh and got Eric.  Eric's livid that the kid didn't realize it."  He walked off, heading back to the hummer.

Horatio looked at Sheldon.  "Want to join us tomorrow?"

"I would.  I want to see the scans."

"That's fine.  We'll go after breakfast.  I'm sure she'll have us in there before then."  They walked off together, going back to the station to do some paperwork, get the reports and let the lab officially analyze the tissue sample they already had.  It would tell them a lot before the morning.


Danny drug Xander into the station.  "I'm not going!"

"You are and quit fighting or I'm drugging you," he ordered.  The guard gave him an amused look.  "I found a lump."  The elevator was gotten and they headed for the morgue since Alexx had what she needed to do it herself down there.  She strapped Xander down and put him through the machine personally.  They all winced at the sight of the tumor.

"It is pressing on the impulse control center," Sheldon agreed.

"Hmm. So maybe it's why he does stupid shit," Speed agreed.  "Could it be why his hormones finally came out?"

"We know from him he was doing stupid things in Sunnydale," Ryan told him, looking at it.  "How big is that?"

"Looks about six centimeters across," Horatio offered.  "We also know he was always a demon magnet there.  The hunting probably kept some of it down with the stress of his life.  His hormones drew the rest."  That got some nods.  They all knew why Xander drew demons.  Ryan had even seen it.  "Now what?"

"Now, we remove that, see if it grows back the same size," Sheldon told him, going down there to help.  "We'll have to trim his hair."

Strife appeared, then looked at him. "You can't ask?"

"Would you please remove the brain tumor he's got?" Sheldon requested politely.  "It's pressing on his impulse control center, Lord Strife."  Strife grinned and nodded behind him as another one appeared and came over.  Then the tumor hit his hand.  "Thank you, Lord Apollo."

"Welcome, dude. He's livening up our boring retirement too."  He shrugged and smiled at Alexx.  "If you weren't married," he sighed.

"Yes, but I am," she said patiently, giving him a look.  "Thank you, Apollo."

"Welcome, babe."  He blew a kiss and left.

Strife looked at her.  "He tries it with every woman he meets and most men."  He grinned.  "It won't be as big if it does.  No, we don't know why it grows back now and then.  It's a Xander thing."

"Probably from the hellmouth?"

"Could be," Strife agreed.  "Probably from leaving it though.  It hates when its babies leave."   He disappeared.

Sheldon put the tumor into the tray she held out then they checked him over.  He was awake and healed so they ran him back through the CT machine.  This time it was much smaller.  They smiled at each other.  "Guys."  They put up the new image.

"Even better," Horatio agreed.  "Let's pull some bloodwork and test that, all right?  Especially if it had anything to do with him being shot again."  He walked off, going to think.  His actions had gotten Xander hurt.  He had promised to not let it come back on him.  He was in full brood when Speed walked in and swatted im on the arm.  "What?"

"It's not your fault they decided it was his fault. You and I laid it out so it didn't come back to him.  Except for the immigration thing.  So get over it.  Even if he is pouting at you. Maybe he'll see sense now."  He heard his phone ring and pulled it out. "Speedle."  He listened, then winced.  "Damn it, sorry, Alexx.  Um, let his boys have a closet?"  He hung up on her yelling.  "He spiked like Don on that air."  Horatio moaned.  "We've got to handle that."

"Go.  I'll be right down."  He nodded, going to help with that.  Horatio gathered himself together and went to help, getting run into by Rick again.  "What now?"

"You were doing surgery in the morgue?"

"No.  We didn't cut him open.  Simply looked at the brain tumor that had been exposed.  Anything else?  He's just now spiked.  We knew electromagnetic machines were dangerous for him."

"That's for dead people."

"Can you imagine what would've happened if he had done this in the hospital?"  Rick's face was comical. "Exactly.  That's why we did this here.  As for the removal, it wasn't done surgically."  He headed down there at a fast trot when he saw some others heading that way.  "Back to work!" he ordered.  That got a groan but most of them went.  He put the others in a room, opened a window to get them some air, then shut all the blinds.  He walked into the morgue, seeing Alexx fanning herself.  "You all right, Alexx?"

"I'm fine but if he does that every day, how are they able to work, Horatio?"

"They keep it down so it doesn't back up, Alexx.  The tumor was keeping him at a lower output apparently."  She gave him a horrified look.  "Where are they?"

"Eric shoved Xander and his boys into a closet and followed with Ryan.  There's no way they'll be working today."  Ryan wobbled out and sat down next to the window, huffing the fresh air.  "Are you all right?"

"A bit lightheaded," he admitted.  She got him some oxygen.  "Thanks," he said through the mask.  He looked at Horatio. "How often do we have to do this?"

"Probably every few years," she offered. He groaned.  "Next time we'll plan it better, baby."  She went to check on them, smelling blood.  "What are you doing?"  Xander growled and slammed the door. "Uh-huh.  Horatio, do you all go primal?"

"No, not usually.  That is definitely something that's Xander specific."  He called Mac.  "Can you send Stella to cover for Ryan, Eric, and Danny for a few hours?  Thank you.  No, long story.  I'll tell you tonight when I brief everyone else."  He hung up and looked around.  "Sheldon?"

"You shoved him in that room," Frank called, leaning in.  "Can I send the rest off?"

"Please, Frank.  We removed a tumor from Xander and it made him surge."

"Hell, no wonder there's an orgy in the interrogation room."  He went to send everyone else off and call the Chief.   "Sir, it's Detective Tripp.  No, part of Caine's team is down.  Not that way, sir. No, due to Xander's issues they brought him down here to scan a tumor on him.  They removed it somehow and it made him surge.  I don't know, sir.  I'm not in the room of officers affected who're having at it or in the closet with the rest of them. Exactly.  No, I know he called Taylor.  Probably a short nap.  Yeah, I'm sure he'll brief you later, sir."  He hung up and leaned in again.  "Horatio, the boss wants a call.  I told him you'd called Taylor and most of them would probably only need a nap."

"They shouldn't need more than that," Horatio agreed.  Xander wobbled out and sat down beside Ryan, taking his oxygen to breathe too.  "Xander, are you all right?"  He looked up and grinned, then put his head on Ryan's shoulder and passed out.  Horatio looked in the closet.  "Well."  Alexx looked and giggled. Everyone else was asleep too, mostly with their pants down.  He moved in there to help them, then left the closet door open so they could get fresh air.  The orgy finally broke up an hour later and he let them use the ME's locker room to clean up.  Most of them looked sheepish but Sheldon looked stunned and a few officers looked like they were The Man now.  He gave them looks and they went to do something sedate so they wouldn't get in trouble or create more hell.  He went to wake the ones in the closet, finding Danny wincing as he moved.  "Sore?"

"Very.  Xander's a damn beast when he surges."  He stood up with help from Horatio and Don's head to rest a hand on. "Strife even helped, boss."  He went to lean out the window and breathe the clean air.  Don followed a minute later.  Eric wandered out and went to take a shower, waking himself up that way.  Then he headed up to their changing rooms while dripping wet, going to put on something dry and go back to work.  Danny looked down at Ryan and Xander, shaking his head.  "I'm not waking him."  Ryan looked up at him. "You good?"

"I'm fine.  Is he clear?"

"For a while.  I noticed he wasn't as needy recently.  Backing up is bad.  Remind me next time he starts to slow down."  He finally got his head clear and went to work in the labs. He wasn't going out on a call for a while.  He yawned as he walked past Stella.  "We're fine," he mumbled.

"Go nap.  What happened?"

He turned to look at her.  "Xander had a small brain tumor.  When Strife and Apollo removed it, he surged.  He was backed up."  She moaned.  "Yeah, I made that noise a few times too.  Good thing I heal."  He went to his lab and shut the door, going to work alone in there for now.  Xander was never getting that bad again.  He made prayers to Apollo and Strife to please keep the tumor from making him back up or do stupid stuff again.


Up on Olympus, Strife was polishing his fingernails.  "It's about even," he told Cupid.  "Prayers to make him go again and to keep him from going again."

"They'll both be happy.  We all surge sometimes," Cupid said blandly.  "He won't be doing it for a while though."  He grinned.  "He better?"

"He's good," Strife assured him.  "'Pol removed it and it's grown back about a tenth of the size.  The next time he gets into trouble like that again, we'll know it's growing back."  Cupid grinned.  "How did we miss that?"

"It wasn't that large when we saw him the last time," Cupid pointed out dryly.  He grinned.  "Why are you sitting like Pops, Strife?" he teased.  "Did Xander get you too."

He smirked and nodded. "Yup, and for a quickie orgy in a closet, it was good."  He shifted and winced again.  "It was damn good, even if I can't sit for the next week."  Cupid giggled and flashed out.  Strife went back to prayer counting.  He sent the one of 'please don't let me get pregnant from this' back as 'morning after pill, toots' and then it was all good again.  Though if she did, maybe she'd name it after their anchor?


Stella finished typing her first report for Xander's Chronicle, since she was his Watcher.  Then she looked up to find Mac there. "Xander."

He came in to read.  "Note to all Watchers watching over Xander Harris.  He has a brain tumor that does still occasionally grow with repeated healing of other injuries.  When it does, it presses on the impulse control and GHS portion of his brain, producing the ultimate need to get into trouble.  Xander has been known to go play with gangsters and drug dealers while this is in effect.  Once removed however, his hormones and pheromones are backed up and will surge nearly immediately.  Clear the area if it is being removed.  This has caused a spontaneous orgy in normals, Watchers, and immortals alike.  Then he will go back to normal until it starts to grow again."  He looked at her.  "Fairly clinical."

"Joe told me to quit putting personal opinion in there."

"True."  He nodded and sent it.  The phone rang five minutes later.

"Stella Bonasera."  She blinked.  "Joe, that's what happened. Apollo and Strife removed the brain tumor.  The tumor grows whenever he has to regenerate anything.  A little bit at a time.  When it's starting to become dangerous, he goes and he plays with dangerous people.  This time he was gambling with drug dealers and winning poker tournaments with them.  Yes, and that baccarat one in Monaco.  No, I hadn't heard he had been kidnaped over there.  Who helped him?"  She shook her head. "Yeah, I know Tumie, they helped rescue him.  That's what those files are?  Sure, I'll let Horatio know.  Anyway, we removed it and found out his hormones were also backed up.  Anyone within five thousand square feet of him for the first half an hour got turned into a robot of lust.   Horatio locked some of them in an interrogation room.

"Eric, Ryan, Danny, and Don all went into the closet with him and Alexx, our ME there, was so hit she was clutching the table and panting fresh air.  He made Speed and Horatio both surge too when they came in contact with the same room and then the closet when they were done.  So yeah, it's a good warning. Put that under the warning that he's a level ten GHS member.  Someone's got to know after I retire."  She smiled and listened.  "Sure.  Mac approved of it. He said it was clinical sounding.  Well, you told me to put in less opinion.  Yes, Joe, it did affect me a half hour after they were done.  You want to ask Mac that?"  She laughed.  "I'll tell Horatio."  She hung up and called him.  "Those files you got from Tumie are the guys who banded together to take Xander from the casino in Monaco.  He did.  He said one of the Parisian ones on vacation saw him and he was like some anime character getting free.  Part helpless bimbo and then an action hero.  Our feeling?  As long as he's safe.  Though if he starts to wear an anime schoolgirl skirt, we'll send pictures."  She hung up on his spluttering and ignored Mac's to smile at him. "I will."

"If he does, I'm going to blackmail him with it.  With his hair it'll be cute but really not appropriate."  He hauled her up.   "Quitting time."

"Works for me," she agreed happily, heading out with him.  They were going the same place after all.  Horatio was briefing them all at the bar.  They walked in and Danny handed over drinks.  "Thanks, dear."  She kissed him on the cheek. "Able to sit comfortably now?"

"Barely.  Did you put a warning in there?"

"I did.  It's going right under his one about being a GHS level ten."  Horatio looked at her. "We keep histories."

"That's fine.  I applaud it.  Someone's got to know if he outlasts everyone here. He nearly killed us all with it today."  Strife flopped down at the end of the table and took Sheldon's beer from him, sipping it.  "Want another one, Lord Strife?"

"The prayers to make him do it again are outweighing the others.  Also, I've got an alibi if anyone wonders in the morning."  He saluted them.  "Horatio, you and Speed?  Did you think she was kidding?  She can be an airhead now and then, but not that much."

"She is not," Horatio told him.  "Sometimes a bit sidetracked by something else," he admitted at the long look Strife gave him.  "For those who don't know, Xander had a brain tumor this morning."  Lindsey moaned.  "It apparently grows each time he has to heal or regenerate."

"You can tell it's time to remove it because it starts to push down on his 'I'm doing stupid stuff' center and starts to back up his hormones and pheromones," Speed offered, sipping his drink. "Apollo removed one that was six and a half inches in diameter today. When it was removed, all the backed up stuff came out.  That's why our station went down for a two hour nap today."  He saluted them then finished his beer, letting Sheldon pour him some more.

"They floated around and affected others for about a half-hour," Stella offered, making Strife giggle.  "I'm sure you got quite a rush," she teased.  He nodded and smirked.  "That's okay because I heard some of the women who got hit saying that if they did get pregnant, they're naming it after Xander and making him adopt it."

"He'd love them like he does the dragon," Ryan said, grinning at her.  "Next time, we've got to remove it in a room that's got really good ventilation and then let him have his friends and approved playmate list, or we've got to evacuate the station first."

Horatio nodded.  "The Chief wanted to know why we did it in the lab.  I told him the same thing I told Stetler. Can you imagine if we had done that in a hospital?"  They all laughed at that.  "It's got a five thousand foot radius of influence until it gets into the ventilation system.  Then it can affect a whole cellblock that usually complains about smells from the morgue."  Frank laughed.  "You were lucky."

"Lucky nothing, Horatio.  I'm old enough to take care of it myself in private.  You okay?  You look like you can barely sit too."

"I'll be fine with a long soak in the hottub later," Horatio offered.  Gold coins fell around them at the table.

"Hey!" Calleigh complained.  "I had a headache!"  She picked one up to look at it.  "It's chocolate.  Okay," she said, looking up.  "Better but there's only so much chocolate even Xander can eat, dear.  No more, okay?"  A shower of sapphires and emeralds fell and she sighed, looking at Ryan.  "Any idea?"

"No but I think it's what stole the passport from immigration."  He grinned and took another drink.  Then he picked up a chocolate coin to eat.  "I haven't had these in years."  He moaned at the taste.  "Oooh.  Godiva."

"If you can tell brand by taste, you eat way too much chocolate," Don pointed out, using his cup as a pointer.  Danny unwrapped one and stuffed it in his mouth for him, making him moan and bliss out.  "Oooooh, good."

Eric looked at them.  "Did you two work things out with Xander or am I going to have two snorers cuddling tonight again?"

"We worked it out," Danny promised.  "We told him we'd be home after we told everyone what had happened this time."  He looked at Speed. "Any luck on the bullets?"

"All eight matched to someone.  We're working on arresting them now.  I'd like to know where it happened."

"Us too," Don assured him.  'Cause I'm not a happy detective with this by any means."  Danny nodded that he agreed.

"What was going on?" Lindsey asked.  "If I can be nosy."

Calleigh looked at her.  "Stress got to them.  Xander talked to them and they didn't listen.  Xander was in that high stakes gambling ring we busted.  We followed him and found some things the night before he went to Monaco.  They've so far blamed him and he's blaming Horatio for him being blamed."  She sipped her beer.  Lindsey sighed.  "They'll work it out.  Xander's not the sort to hold a grudge, Horatio."  He nodded at that.  "We heard about Yelina leaving today. Are you okay?"

"A bit upset," he admitted quietly.

Speed nudged his foot.  "Remember, Ray Junior threatened to come back."  That got a smile.  "He'll be back within a few years.  All the pickup lines I went over with him sound even worse when translated."  Horatio cracked a real smile at that.  "Besides, he won't have Xander to take him shopping down there."  That got a nod and an gentler smile.  "Good.  Now, how do the rest of us make up to Xander since we *all* ignored him when he was in trouble?  And speaking of, is Greg down here?  I heard he had troubles and no one listened to him either."

"Xander told me about that," Danny admitted.  "It took me a few to realize it had more than a moral to the story."  He looked at Frank.  "The fuckers dead or in jail?"

"One made bail.  The other's still in there.  That one jumped countries."  He looked at him.   "You weren't on the ball and I had an itching need to go in there."

"Welcome," Strife agreed, smirking at him.  He saluted him with his stolen cup.  "Guys like that bug the piss outta me.  If you're gonna take him, take him but be nice ta him until he agrees ta stay.  Then if you're mean he'll kick your ass lighter than he was before."  Danny and Don both glared at him.  "Step up to the plate, boys.  You've got a boy at home who's never had the love shown to him that he gives his dogs, much less what he can shower on you two.  He's used ta being ignored but it's one of the things he hated about *them* too.  It's one of the reasons he wasn't unhappy about going back on the road trip."  He finished up the beer.  "The boy gets more attention from his ferrets than humans."  He stared at Danny, then at Don.  "We clear here?"

"We've been trying," Danny reminded him.

"No, you've been tired.  Don's been tired.  Xander's like the dog the day he got adopted.  Look how he treats others then treat him that way.  The same as the rest, if they're family, they should act like one."  He disappeared.  It was as close as he was getting with them.  If they didn't, he'd make sure Xander went to someone who would love him with everything in them and understood his scary side... Jace.

Danny and Don looked at each other, then Horatio.  "I feel the flu coming on, boss.  You mind?"

"No, Danny.  You and Don go.  He's right."  They nodded and hurried out, Don leaving some money for their portion of the beer.  He looked at Speed.  "At least we didn't lose the whole family."

"No, not by any means.  We've got one tired family though.  We could all use a good few days off.  Convention this year?"

"I'd like that," he agreed with a smile.

"And it'll be just you two this year too since Xander can't go this year," Ray reminded him.  That got an even bigger smile from Horatio.  "Maybe we should all take a vacation.  Anyone want Adam for two weeks?"  Eric shook his head and Ryan grinned but shook his head.  "You two sure?  Frank, Calleigh, Lindsey, Sheldon?"  They all shook their heads too.  "Damn, guess that means I've gotta go home to the old man too.   I should do that before he breaks into worry warts."  He slid out from under the table and out the free side, waving and tossing down some money.  "See you guys tomorrow or so."  He headed home to let Adam know what had happened.

The rest settled in to relax and compare stupid criminal and stupid Xander stalker stories.


Danny walked up to Ray and Adam's house, knocking on the door.  Adam opened it and looked at him.  "I need advice.  I'm a sucky boyfriend and it's time to handle it like a man."

Adam let him in.  "Tell me what's been going on.  Let's see if I can give you an idea, Daniel."  He let him in and sat him down, letting him go over everything, making him see his own points of fault and where Don had, plus where Xander's expectations weren't realistic now and then.


Don walked into the house, watching Xander do laundry.  "No, Greg, I'm sure it's not all right.  How fair is it that he made fun of you for what you can't help?"  He walked the phone off with the laundry.  "No, it's not right, Greg.  You may be their family but good families don't put each other down like that."  He sat down on the couch and put the phone back in the base and hit the speaker button.  "Sorry, back to folding laundry."

"Why are you doing the laundry?" Don asked quietly.

"Because I'm the only maid we have, Don.  Greg, he was wrong to pick on you about being taken.  It's not right. It's not like we *ask* to be taken and treated like property."

"Yeah, but it wasn't like that. I was five minutes late and he asked if I had another date with the guy," Greg's voice came out of the speakers, sounding depressed.  "I'm not sure if he meant to pick or if I was an honest question.  I thought they liked me."

"They might not know how disastrous and painful that sort of thing is for us," Don said, coming in to help Xander.  It was his clothes after all.  Xander swatted.  "Let me help."

"I'm doing just fine on my own."

"The last time we got you a houskeeper, the house fell on her, Xander.  They won't come work for us."

"It's not my fault I had been taken!  Even the guy from the DPP didn't know how and why I had been taken!  That's not my fault!  The same as someone wanting Greg wasn't his!" he said angrily.

"I know it wasn't your fault but the agencies still won't send anyone," he said gently.  "I know it's not your fault you got taken by someone who doesn't deserve you."  Xander snorted and folded another shirt.  "Put my clothes down.  I'll do 'em later.  It's my turn anyway."  Xander gave him a look.  "It is."

"It's been your turn.  It still doesn't get done."

"It will tonight.  Now put it down and let's help Greg."  He moved the basket and carefully put the folded clothes back in there, then shifted beside Xander.  "Cuddle me?"

"No thanks."  He looked at the phone.  "Greg, bottom line it.  Did you yell at them like they deserved?"

"I did.  I snapped.  I know I shouldn't have, but I snapped and then I left saying I had a headache.  Which I do.  I just screwed up one of the few good things in my life."

"Greg, you've got offers."

"I turned them down to stay here.  There's no new openings."

"Then you'll come down here," Don assured him, pulling Xander closer.  "Please cuddle me?"  Xander sighed but let himself be held.  Don snuggled around him, getting comfortable.  "We've got a spare room, Greg, and you can surf until the next opening comes up.  That way you don't have to deal with assholes who don't appreciate you."  Xander looked at him.  "Which I can admit I've had a bad case of recently," he told Xander. "I'm sorry.  Would you please cuddle me?"

"I am."

"No, you're like a teddy bear.  I want to really cuddle you."  He pulled Xander into his lap.  "Greg, did you ever get the other stuff straightened out?"

"Sort of.  Grissom started to stop all discussion on that topic.  So they talked about it in the locker room and it spread," he said bitterly.  "Why do I like Vegas?"

"Cheap and legal prostitution when you need it," Xander reminded him. "A nightlife that drew you.  Good clubs you can get lost in."

"Oh, yeah, that was why I wanted to come here."  He sighed.  "Did that new trainee ever show up?"

"A few days ago," Xander admitted. "Another position will open up soon, Greg.  You know that.  There's always one.  Even if you did have to go into the lab for another few months."

"Yeah, maybe.  Or maybe I should switch fields.  I know the society needs more chemists."  He made a humming sound.  "I only have cheap ice cream at home.  Sorry."

"Hey, I can ship you some chocolate.  We've got tons of it laying around," Xander offered.  "Someone sent me an eight foot chocolate vagina, anatomically correct, and a six foot white chocolate dildo."  Greg giggled so hard he was snorting.  "Seriously.  We've still got pieces of it around here."  Don handed over some of the chocolate he had scooped off the table.  "You bought me more?"

"No, it rained down on us in the bar while we told the rest of the group what happened today."  He kissed his ear and nuzzled him. "Greg, if they don't respect you, then come down here.  You don't need the stress.  You'll start to surge and you'll start to hate yourself for what you couldn't help.  It's not your fault they can't accept you as you are."

"Sarah handed me a pamphlet on how to cure homosexuality," he said, clearing eating another bite of ice cream.  "I pointed out I was straight and that I had a cure, but thanked her anyway for caring about a blind date someone sent me on," he said bitterly.  "I don't know, Don.  I feel like I'm suddenly alone again."

"You're not alone, Greg.  You've got me," Xander reminded him.  "You've got the rest of the members.  Especially those in law enforcement.  I'm sure Tony's had some of those same issues."

"Maybe."  He ate another bite.  "It still bites, ya know?"

"I do," Xander admitted, sounding tired.  "Very well do I know."  Don gave him a squeeze.  "What are you doing?"

"Making up for three weeks of stress wearing me down," he said.  "I was tired and stressed, Xander.  I am sorry."

"Don, you're still seeing me like an assignment and I thought we were past that stage.  I'm sorry I thought wrong."  He got off his lap and moved to finish the laundry but Don took his hands and the shirt, making him put them down then dragging him back into his lap.  "Why are you even trying?"

"Because you've got the wrong idea, Xander.  We are so far past that stage.  If I thought you were still an assignment, I wouldn't be in the same bed as you at night."  Xander gave him a look.  "That was your choice to leave those nights."

"You came in smelling like you were drunk. Of course I left."

"Sorry.  Most cops, when we have days like this, we go and we talk about it in the bar with the other guys who understand.  Most of us don't bring our boy or girlfriends because they don't understand.  I'd bring you but you don't like being around people while they're drinking and it's still a bar so there's a conflict there.  I didn't come home drunk."

"You did."

"No, I came home smelling like a brewery.  I didn't come home drunk.  I haven't come home drunk in a long damn time.  For that matter, I'd tell you but then you nag."

"I don't nag!"  He struggled but Don held onto him.  "I don't."

"You do.  You do it subtly, like sleeping on the couch when I'm been drinking.  But you do nag, Xander.  The same as doing the laundry and complaining about lack of a housekeeper?  That's really close too."

"No, that's a legitimate gripe.  The last house I could clean.  Here I can't."

"So don't.  We'll do some of it."

"If I left it up to you two, nothing would ever get done.  Even when the lab had so many people that you guys sat clear for almost a full day except for cold cases you guys came home tired.  I'm sorry I'm such a burden."  He got up and grabbed the phone, walking off with it to shut himself in the practice room.  "Sorry you had to listen to that, Greg.  Did you tell them the truth when you blurted it out?"  He nodded.  "Then it's their own fault for putting you in that position.  Real families apparently fight but not like that.  How would I know, Greg?  I had two drunks for parents.  Yeah, well, exhibit A, ya know."  He leaned against the wall, holding his forehead while he listened.  "I've got to send Cordy a plane ticket to come visit, I'll send you one too.  It'll get you out of Vegas for a few days at the least.  Do you really want to call them to tell them?  Fax it in writing. That way it's official that you're asking for a few unpaid days off.  Greg, please, man.  You know I don't care.  I'll pay airfare and the cost of moving your stuff for you, Greg. Please, before they destroy what self esteem you've got.  Yeah, well that stuff does.  Trust me. Being surrounded by people who don't like you that way does.  I don't know," he sighed.

"I thought we were and then this shit pops up again. Like it's my fault that I didn't realize I was gambling with drug dealers and when I try to tell them they ignore me, and it's my fault?"  He slumped "Yeah, maybe we should both take a vacation.  I don't know.  He's not here yet.  Maybe he's at the bar with the others.  No, but I'm damn sure that me leaving Miami or finding a good keeper would simplify their lives," he admitted.  "I tell you what, we'll look for each other.  How about that?  I'll look for one for you, you look for one for me.  We'll go clubbing and stuff again.  That way you stay away from the perfect people and their perfect fucking lives.  Well, it sounds like they think they are."  He grimaced then he grinned at the sudden laughter.  "Good cartoon?  I haven't watched any recently.  Too busy being the maid.  Come on down, Greg.  The dogs, the ferrets, and the dragon will love you with me.  We'll cuddle all the time until you're ready to go looking.  Yeah, I'm sure."

He wiped off his cheeks.  "I don't know anymore. All I know, I come home from a vacation and it's worse than ever.  Yeah, maybe we should switch cities."  He smiled at the laughter.  "You come be the GHS Lord of Miami, as one of the guys recently called me at the station, and I'll go out there and kick their asses for you."  Don forced the door open and walked the base in, plugging it in and taking the phone, putting him back on speaker, then he pulled Xander into his lap and held him again, just holding him.  "Are you still there?" Xander asked.  He heard the quiet laughter.  "Don walked in and put you back on speaker.  I don't know.  I'm being a teddy bear apparently."  He looked at his protector.  "Tired?"

"Of the fighting.  Greg, families are supposed to fight but they're not supposed to rip you apart.  If they're doing that, then they're not family and they're not your friends.  Let Xander get you down here for a short vacation.  Some distance will give you some perspective."

"And you are?" another voice asked.

"A detective.  You?" he said coolly.

"That's a Warrick person," Xander told him.  "It sounds like he broke and entered.  Greg, are you okay?"

"I'm fine.  Nearly choked on the spoon when he credit carded my apartment door."   The sound of a thump next to the phone.  "What do you want, Warrick?"

"Greg, call someone.  That's breaking and entering.  He shouldn't do that," Don ordered.  "Even if you don't press charges, they'll still walk him out."

"I'm not going to hurt him."

"More than you already have?" Xander asked.  "What? Come to give another lecture on why he's not good enough to work with you because he's not OCD and not perfect like you?"

"I'm not OCD."

"Ryan Wolfe is and he called you the King of OCD techs," Xander said firmly.  "You're over-prepared, overly organized, can't stand anyone who's a normal person?  That's OCD, Warrick, get help before you destroy another good tech's career like you nearly did Greg's."

"I'm not trying to.  I was trying to get him into the right mindset."

"I had that already.  But no, you yelled at me after I got called to a scene after a full shift and I got called out of bed.  He's right, Warrick, that's not how to train a good tech and it's not what a friend does either.  The same as your crack about a new dating issue?  Not welcome.  Now get out."  He sound of a spoon hitting teeth.  "Now."

"Can we talk without them?"

"No," Xander told him.  "How do we know you're not like the last guy he went on a date with?"

"That was a nice date, right?" Greg asked.

"It was.  You planned it with me and I would've loved it, Greg," Xander assured him.  "It was a nice, normal date with nice, normal expectations that didn't include sex at the end.  I would've be thrilled for that."

"Picnic do?" Don asked.

"Not a hint, Don."

"Tough shit."  He gave him a squeeze.  "You won't let me apologize."

"Sounds like they've got their own troubles so let's you and me talk and then you can talk to him after they've talked," Warrick said.

"Why?  So you can rip apart my life some more or tell more cops what I am?"  Warrick stepped away from the phone at that.  "'Cause, yeah, not happening, Warrick.  Out.  You ripped me to shreds earlier and you got it back.  You deserved it for that crack.  Right now I'm inches from handing you my ID and stuff so you can hand it to the experimenter in the main office.  Now, do you mind?  The ice cream Gods and I are communing so I calm down again."

"Greg, it..  We were just teasing, Greg.  You're like our family, we do tease each other."

Greg snorted.  "Yeah, and I believe that.  Hodges teases me.  You rip me apart.  Nick does it.  Catherine stays out of it and Sarah hands me things on how to fix myself.  Grissom sees me like one of his bugs.  So no, it's not happening.  Here."  He slapped something onto something else.  "Now, go away please.  I'll be leaving for a trip to Miami here in a couple of days, I'll clean my locker tomorrow."

"No, I'm not giving this to Gris for you.  You want to do that, you be a man and do it."

"I'm more man than you'll ever be," he said hotly.  "I put up with you guys picking on me for *years* about how bouncy I was.  Not like I can control having ADD either, Warrick. I knew I should've taken the job in 'Frisco.  Out!"

"I want to talk," he said calmly.

"I don't.  My next action is to call dispatch to get you out of here.  So go."

"No.  I want to talk.  You need to talk to someone other than Xander and whoever."

"His protector, Detective Flack," Don offered.  "I believe you're now bordering on threatening him.  If you don't do as he says, I'm letting Xander call your dispatch for you."

"I only want to talk to him.  He's got it all wrong."

"Really?  Then what did you do when he was kidnaped, Warrick?" Xander asked.  "What was *your* reaction?"


"He laughed," Greg told him.  "I was more than lucid enough to remember him laughing and joking about my hormones.  Out, Warrick."

"I just want to talk, Greg."

"That's it," Don announced, pulling out his phone.  He dialed a number.  "Catherine Willows?  Don Flack.  Small problem called Warrick Brown at the moment.  No, my boyfriend's talking with Greg and he just broke into his apartment and refuses to leave.  I've heard he's a good tech so I won't tank his career by reporting him for it, but get him out of Greg's place and please guard Greg until Xander and I can get him down here.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "She's at home, Greg.  She said it'd take about four minutes.  Can you hold on that long?"

"I can," he agreed quietly.  "Don, I don't think he's threatening me."

"I don't care, Greg.  He's obviously not listening to you.  That's like shit I pull when I'm tired and I quit listening to Xander.  And then what happens?   He gets hurt."  Xander glared at him.  "It happened in that order, yes?"  Xander nodded.  "Then it was partially my fault.  Had I listened, I would've known you were in trouble."  He cuddled him.  "I'm not going to do that again.  There's no more not listening on my part, baby."  He kissed him.  "I am sorry," he offered quietly, staring into his eyes.  "Just one chance?"


"Because I'm an idiot and I didn't realize it, Xander.  I'm so much less complicated than you, even being GHS myself."  Xander slumped.  "I didn't realize and I've had my ass kicked by everyone and Strife.  Including you.  I was wrong.  I admit I was wrong.  I'm staying.  You're worth more to me than anything.  All the pretty things, all of it.  For that matter, I'm not working overtime anymore."

"I can't make you give up working for me!"

"You're not.  It's the reason I'm so tired and tuning you out."  He kissed him. "It's not you, it's the job, Xander.  I'm so sorry.  Please?  Let me make it up to you?  If I slip again you can slap me and walk out on me.  Please?"  Xander looked down and nodded.  "Thank you.  I'm so sorry, baby."  He gave him a cuddle.   "Now, would you please cuddle me like you used to?  I really need a cuddle."  Xander curled up in his lap, cuddling with him.  He relaxed and Don relaxed.  "Thank you.  Greg, you still okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine so far.  He's just watching me and the phone.  If he reaches for it I'm spooning him to death."  Warrick groaned at that.  "That's got to be Catherine.  It's probably still open, Catherine."  The door slammed on his end. "Nick, I could've sworn he called Catherine to come remove him."

"She called me.  She's on her way but I was closer.  Can we talk?"

"Um, no, you said what you wanted to and so did I."

"No, I was teasing, Greg."

"You were teasing me because I got kidnaped when I went on a date.  Hmm.  Did I pick on you about you getting kidnaped?"

"No," he said weakly.

"That's a low damn blow.  He nearly died!" Warrick complained.

"I had enough drugs in my system that they weren't sure I wasn't going to seize," Greg said coolly.  You could almost hear them flinch.  "And all I did was go out on a date that Hodges had set me up on.  Neat, huh?  So no.  Get out.  Both of you."  Someone else knocked.  "Catherine, that had better be you.  Otherwise go away!"

"It's me, Greg," came through faintly.

"Hell no.  I'm not dealing with you, Sarah.  Go away."

"I've got Grissom with me."

"Yay for you.  It's your heart's dream.  Go away!  Xander, you can't just magic me, right?"

"Wish I could get there.  I'd kick their asses for you or knock them down with it," he offered quietly.  "That's an idea, Greg."

"I don't want to broadcast.  It's a bad habit to get into."  Someone else pounded.  "I'll call you guys in ten.  If I haven't, call Dispatch this time, okay?"  He hung up and Greg grabbed his jacket and wallet, getting up and heading out, finding Catherine outside and parking.  He got in. "Please, God, get me away from them."

"Sure," she agreed, putting the car in reverse and heading off.  "As long as you talk to me."

"That's fine."  He looked at her.  "I quit."  She stopped and looked at him.  "I'm not going to let myself be ripped into that way again.  I love you guys, I have for years, I thought you were like family.  Up until Grissom outed me."  He handed her his ID and got out, heading off into the early evening.  He stopped at a payphone since he realized he hadn't taken his cell, calling collect.  "Greg," he said when they asked for his name.  He turned around to look at the city around him so no one could sneak up on him this time.  He hoped.  "Xander, I'm okay.  I quit.  Is the offer of a ticket still good?  Please?"  He relaxed.  "I can be there within hours, man.  Thank you."  He hung up and headed for the nearest corner to get a cab.  He had enough for that.  He slid in.  "Airport?" he requested.

"Heading home?"

"Yeah, kinda. Family."  That got a nod and the cabbie headed off, setting off the switch on his dashboard.  "Not again," he moaned as he fell asleep.

"Again?" the cabbie asked.  "It's taken me three weeks to find you.  We're only going to have a quiet talk about some things, kiddo."


Xander got woken by a phone call from the airport.  "What do you mean he never showed up?" He frowned.  "I'll be out there to look for him, thank you."  He hung up and looked up, then at Don.  He was asleep still.  He looked at the clock and found Danny sitting up watching him.  "What?  Greg's gone missing."

"We can go," he agreed quietly.

"When did you get in?"

"I was talking to a more experienced boyfriend."

"How is Speed?"

"Adam actually."  He kissed him.  "I suck at this shit, Xander.  I haven't had a real date in years.  It was always fun for a few months and nothing else.  I haven't had a real thing in a while."  He stroked his cheek.   "Can I try?"

"I thought..."

"No, tell me now, before we head to Vegas.  Can I try?"  Xander swallowed and nodded.  "I know I'm in deep.   If I try, will you quit hiding stuff from me?"

"What do you think I'm hiding now?"

"What's up with Greg?"

"His team decided to pick on him again, ripped him to shreds emotionally about his date that kidnaped him."

Danny nodded at that.  "That shit happens to you guys.  That's why you guys have guys like Don.  He deserved better from his team.  A team doesn't do that to you.  Now, how are we going?"

"I was going to hit the DPP and use their board to find him.  They've got a tracking system on all of us."  He got up and put on leathers, ones from the trunk of stuff Ares had given him, then he pulled his sword out.  His hair got put up.  "Coming?"  Danny nodded and stood up, putting back on his shoes so they could go together.  Xander wrote out a quick note for Don, then they left.  He landed in the very quiet police station, going over to the board.  "There he is. He's still in Vegas."  He made it focus more.  "He's by Jace's.  That's good at least."

"Mr. Harris?" someone called.

"A lesser GHS I was helping earlier was supposed to fly out and he got snatched."  He looked at the rock-looking officer.  "I'm going to help him."

"That's a noble cause.  We can open one to Vegas for you."

"I can do that.  Thanks.  Both George's are fine."  He kissed him on the cheek and pulled Danny off, going to open the portal.  He concentrated and it opened in front of the address he had seen.  They walked out and up the stairs, Xander kicking in the door of the apartment building since it was locked.

"I could've done the lock," Danny offered.

"No time.  More direct."  He walked up to the apartment number noted, hearing Greg babbling at someone about immortals.  "He doesn't know," he muttered.  He started to kick in the door and Danny shook his head, doing the lock more subtly this time.  Xander pulled his sword as he walked in.  "You want to know about immies, you ask us yourself.  Greg doesn't know a damn thing about us."  The cabbie backed off, looking scared.  "What was this?  A gentle way of getting one of us here?"  He shook his head.  "Are you sure?"  He followed him.

"Xander, homicide is bad," Greg said patiently.

"In his case, he's a berserker, it's doubly bad because only Ryan or time can get him out of it.  Yo, Xander, let's go.  We've got Greg."  Xander sneered at the Watcher, making him shake and back against the window.  "I agree.  Next time you wanna know something, you come to us directly.  Or go to the other Watchers since I saw the tattoo."  He pulled Greg with him.  "Xander?"  He followed, heading out with them. The portal reopened and then reopened again in Miami, letting them walk out in the house.  He looked at Greg.  "It's strange, but you're safe."

"Wow."  He looked at him, then at Xander.  "Is this Danny?"  Xander nodded.   "You both seemed a lot less scary before."

Xander smiled and shrugged. "Sometimes you've got to be scary.  Especially when they steal friends and family, Greg.  Come on.  You can borrow Ryan's bed.  He's not here that I know of so you can use his."  Greg nodded, letting himself be taken.  "We'll answer all the pesky questions tomorrow."

"Are you?"  Xander nodded. "Can I be?"

"I don't know.  It's a matter of birth.  I'm told we're all orphans or foundlings.  We all die violent deaths.  I'm not sure if you can or not.  I'm not sure if anyone can tell a pre-immie or not."

"I usually can and he's not that I can feel," Danny offered as he joined them with new pillows.  "Ryan drools," he offered with a grin.  "Sorry if it freaks you out."

"No, it's actually kind of comforting that Xander will be kicking in doors for years to come.  That some really protective people will keep going and keep humanity sane."

"We're not all sane and we can still be killed.  We just age *really* slowly," Xander told him, grinning some.

"Sure.  Even better.  Like in that story with the pond water."  He took the pillows.  "Thanks, guys.  I don't want to be a burden."

"I don't see burdens.  I see family," Xander told him. "And hey, been there with the kidnaping before, a lot."  Greg smiled at that, nodding.  "Good, now go sleep.  You need sleep to heal.  Any injuries?"

"He got my arm but it was only a minor thing," he offered, showing it to them.

Danny shrugged.  "We've got stuff around here for that.  We'll wrap it in the morning."  Greg nodded and went into the room, coming out with a blush.  Danny looked then sighed. "Eric.  Okay, you can use Don's mom's room."  He walked him across the hall, finding Aiden in there.  He rolled his eyes and checked the other rooms. All their family but Frank and his wife and a few of the techs, were sleeping.  "Huh."  He walked him down the stairs.  "We've got a huge bed and I promise no funny stuff."  Greg smiled at that and shrugged.  "Sorry.  Didn't hear them come in."

"That's okay.  It's good that they worry so much about you. I thought I had that."  Xander hugged him, whispering in his ear, getting him calmed down.  He nodded. "Thanks, Xander."  He let Xander tuck him into a side of the bed and then get between him and the cuddle monster Don.  He smiled because Don automatically moved to hold Xander as soon as he felt and smelled him.  Danny moved behind Don, giving him plenty of room.  "Thanks, guys."

"Anytime, Greg.  You know that."  Xander stroked over his hair.  "Sleep now, Greggy.  It's time to nap.  Good little chemists are already in bed and the naughty ones are off having dirty dreams of compounds that make everyone hard and want it."  Greg laughed and hugged him, letting him go so he could curl up.  Xander watched him fall asleep.  It was so hard to watch him sometimes.

Danny reached over to stroke down Xander's hair.  "It'll be okay, Xander.  All of it."  Xander kissed his hand and they fell asleep holding hands across Don's body.


Horatio walked into the trio's bedroom the next morning, smiling some at the sleepy Greg and the trio curled together next to him.  He snuck back out and closed the door, heading to the kitchen.  "Set an extra place for Greg," he ordered.  "He's sleeping in there next to them."  Speed nodded, making another omelette.  He went back to the door and peeked in, finding Greg staring around in confusion.  He pointed at the bathroom and Greg nodded, going in there.  Horatio got him some lounging pants and went to leave them in there.  Greg gave him a look.  "We all came to talk to Xander this morning.  Would you talk with me later?"

"I would.  You tried.  Then I got taken and it's been one crack after another.  Then they all forced their way in last night and wouldn't leave.  Then, when Xander said he'd get me airfare, I got taken by a cabbie talking about immortals."  Horatio nodded.  "Is there any way to find out if I am?"

"Not as far as I know.  I'll ask."  Greg nodded.  "I'll do what I can to help, Greg.  Did talking with Grissom help any?"

"He made them stop talking about it in the break room and in front of me. Instead they ended up talking about it in the locker room and it got spread.  They cracked on me for weeks about being kidnaped by the guy who Hodges set me up with."  Horatio gave him a hug.  "Thank you.  Warrick broke in last night while I was talking to Xander.  Don ordered him to leave and ended up calling Catherine.  Catherine sent Nick and he came in to stare at me and not help.  Then Sarah and Griss showed up.  I ended up escaping with her and quitting then escaping her and getting kidnaped again. Then Xander saved me."

"He's very good at that," Danny agreed as he came in, giving Greg his own hug.  "It'll be all right.  We usually have spare rooms you can borrow.  You can call Catherine and them today if you want."  Greg nodded.  "Good, now take a shower so I can have one.  I'm not even going to presume to wash your back like I do Xander's."  Greg blushed. "I know, we're like that some mornings.  Hurry up, someone decent's cooking if they're all here."

"Speed's making omelettes."

"Even better.  He's an excellent cook."  Greg smiled and got into the shower, stripping in there before turning on the water.  Danny led Horatio out and to the living room.  "I need time off.  He needs me."

"They all need you, Danny.  I can give you two days unpaid and then cut you back to part time for a while."  Danny nodded at that.  "Are you sure?"

"I am.  Thank you, Horatio."

"You're welcome.  Don's got the same offer."

"He said last night he's not working any more overtime.  We messed up so bad."

"I've had this fight in the past.  I let work take me away from Speed and he called me on it too.  Remember, Xander feels very deeply.  This is a scar for him now."

"I know.  Thanks, Horatio."  He gave him a hug and went back into the bedroom to talk to Don since he was awake.  "We've got two days unpaid and then part time if we want it."

"I'd like that," he admitted.  Danny smiled.  "He does need me and so do you.  Who else was here?  Ryan's not that blond."


"Greg from the convention and Vegas Greg?"  Danny nodded.  "Did we end up flying him out?  I was making a snack when he called back."

"No, we went to save him from the Watcher who had him to pump him for information.  He's in the shower."

"Sure.  The more the merrier."  Danny smiled.  He poked Xander, getting a sleepy grunt.  "I smell bagels.  Someone's cooking."

"Speed's making omelettes."  Xander lifted his head out from under the blankets, giving him a look. "He is.  Greg's in the shower."  Xander grunted and headed that way, going to give him a hug and start the process of his hair, making Greg squeak when he was hugged.  But Xander wasn't trying to help him in other ways so he guessed it was all right.  Danny looked at Don, nodding out there.  "You wanna wait for a shower?"

"Depends, how bad do I look?" Don asked.

"Tired. A bit greasy around the edges."

"I'll go take Horatio's shower.  You take Ryan's?"  They nodded and headed that way.  Don found his still steamy, which was nice.  It smelled nice in there.

Danny had to sneak past Ryan, who was naked and mostly uncovered on the bed on his stomach.  Ryan jumped up when he heard the shower start.  Danny peeked out at him.  "Speed's making omelettes and Greg's in our shower.  Sorry."

"Not a problem."  He yawned and walked in there with him, using the bathroom then getting in to take a shower with him.  He even got some kissing and fondling in, making Danny happy this morning too.  They got out and dried off then Ryan went to put on clothes while Danny had to hike downstairs to get his.  Ryan came down first, looking at Eric since he was staring at him.  "What?"

"You and Danny have fun?"

"Mostly just bumping into each other.."

Eric pulled him closer.  "Are you mine or not?"

"Depends, do I get to make the same request?"  Eric flinched at that.  "We've never been exclusive, Eric.  I've never minded that you had Aiden.  I think you two are cute together and it's nice your mom agrees with me."

"Point."  He relaxed.  "Then I'm fine with the family, no one else, Ryan."

"I've never went outside of the trio, Eric."

"True.  I'm sorry.  I'm jealous and a bastard."

Ryan kissed him.  "Yes, but you're my main bitch," he said fondly, grinning at him.

"Next time I get you alone, you're going to pay for that," Eric vowed, smirking back.  "Like on your back and begging to pay some more."

"If you think you can flip me.  Spar for sex?"

"Hmm.  Later. I want to see you spar with Xander first."  He took another kiss.  "Food's outside."

"I figured as much.  Come on, guys, I'm hungry," he called.  Xander and Greg came out, making him wave at Greg.  "Hi again.  What happened?"

"The team decided I was a good target for picking on because I got kidnaped."

"Yet, they didn't do it to Nick."  He nodded at that.  "Come on.  Speed's a great cook."

"So I've heard.  Lead on."  Ryan led him out there with Eric.  "Adam!" he said, giving him a hug.  "Man!  I never expected you to be here."

"I trained Xander and my Ray works with Don and the rest of the uptight people who could use a vacation."  He looked at him. "The same as you could apparently."

"I'm now looking for a new job."


"They cracked on me for being taken."

"Interesting.  Xander? Did we leave them alive?"

"When I went to rescue him, a Watcher had him and was pumping him for information."

"Even more interesting."  He looked at Greg.  "Not that I can tell, young one."

Greg nodded.  "That means my family's my own and I love 'em."  That got a smile.  "But hey, it also means that some very protective people will help keep humanity sane for years to come."  He sat down beside him but Ray coughed when he came out.  "Sorry, Ray."

"Not an issue.  Move down one."  Greg moved down a spot and settled in.  "Thanks.  Don't get enough time with him.  You know, the Council could use another chemist," he reminded his mate.

"I know, we do need a new research chemist," Adam agreed, looking at Greg. "You could apply for that.  It would be a laboratory position and not greatly paid but it would help you and many others like you.   Including finding out why the brain tumor Xander had made him back up."

"He did?"  He looked at Xander.  "Are you okay?"  He nodded.  "Your hair's broken and shorter but you don't look like you were on chemo."

"I wasn't.  They removed it.  I was backed up enough that it caused almost everyone within a five thousand yard radius to get horny and have an orgy."  Greg smiled at that.  "It got taken out magically."

"Cool.  Anything else good happen?  Or better than good?"

"We busted all of Xander's former poker buddies," Ryan offered. "He got a bit peeved at that since they led it back to him even though it wasn't."  He shrugged and dug in.  "Thanks, Speed."

"Welcome, Ryan.  Slow and chew.  You can still choke and die."

"Eric wanted to watch Xander and I spar."

"You are?" Greg asked him.  Ryan grinned and nodded.  "No wonder they sent you with him."

"That and I was trained by some of Ares' priests," he said modestly.

"You're that old?"

"No, one of the times we got taken it across to another plane and they were there."

"Oh, cool.  Why can't I ever have the cool kidnapings?"  Xander shrugged.  "All I ever get is drugged."

"At least you weren't castrated," Xander offered.  "I had that happen once already.  Fortunately being me I grow back."  Greg shuddered. "Yeah, it hurt like nothing I've ever had before."

"More polite topics over breakfast, please," Frank requested.

"Sorry, Frank."  Xander dug in, smiling at Speed.  "Thank you for cooking."

He gave him a kiss on the top of the head since he hadn't sat yet.  "You're welcome.  You're my third favorite GHS member."  Xander pouted. "Horatio, me, then you, kiddo."  Xander beamed and hugged him.  "Aww.  Eat.  I want to see you make Ryan beg like you did the rest of us."

"Which Watcher?" Stella asked.

"He's a cabbie in Vegas," Greg told her.  "Not a clue about his name."

"I'll check on that and get him yanked in for doing that, Greg."  That got a smile.  "You guys are too precious to do that to."

"Are you single?" he asked.

"Ask Mac.  He's still figuring that out."  She nodded at Mac, who scowled at her.  "You are."

"You're not," he said firmly.

"Thank you for clearing that up," she said happily.  "Finally!"  She looked up and said a prayer to Aphrodite for her former headache from him, then looked at him.  Then at Xander.  "Does this mean we can figure out how the dancing stuff translates to sword work?"  Xander nodded.  "I've been wanting to see that.  And some of the dancing."

"Horatio has a set of tapes," Speed said smugly.

"So do I," Greg agreed.  "He was teaching us and Tony DiNozzo how to dance."  He looked at Xander.  "Have you heard from him? I got his machine the last time I tried."

"He's had some really nasty serial case and a petty officer with an NCIS agent breathing down his neck."

"That's fine.  He'll get my machine or I'll get it by email, like usual."  He smiled at Xander.  "You play with swords?"

"All the time. I've also got to trim my hair again since some of it broke.  You know, I almost remember being shot now," he told Don, who gave him a look.  "I was asleep on the couch."

"Okay, that's a good place to start.  They snuck in here?"

"No, I was on Horatio's couch."

"I knew the house smelled like gunpowder," Speed complained, looking at Horatio.  "I'll try to lift prints."

"Try the back door.  The neighbor would've noticed and called otherwise."

"That was the day she fell and went to the ER, Horatio.  I was over helping her with that stupid kitchen lightbulb that keeps blowing on her."

"She said you installed one guaranteed for at least a year.  Thank you," Speed offered.  "I'll look later since we were all suspended for the day."


"Night shift came on last night and started to rut for some reason.  They're airing out the ventilation system."

"It shouldn't have lasted that long," Frank complained.  "We were normal within an hour."

"One of the night shift ones picked up on it and surged," Horatio told him.  "She's a morgue assistant.  Alexx is the only one not here because of that, Xander."  Xander shrugged a bit.  "We decided to spend the day as a family if you don't mind."

"I don't mind.  You guys can watch me kick Ryan's ass."

"Thank you.  I am sorry they suspected you, Xander, or that they hurt you.  I never meant for that to happen."

"Yeah, but you're used to dealing with stupid criminals.  That high up they've got to be at least partially smart."

"True. I'll remember that from now on.  Now, eat."  Xander slipped his omelette onto his bagel and ate it that way, making Speed laugh.  "Since you're doing that come here so I can see how far up we've got to trim your hair."  Xander came over with his milk, sitting beside his feet to eat while he worked on is hair.  He frowned.  "You have breakage nearly up to your shoulders on one side," he said.

"It was uneven for a while before where the front was growing out."

"It won't look right this time, Xander.  I wish it would."  Xander gave him a pitiful look.  "It won't.  We can try but it won't look right when it's down."  Xander got him the scissors from the kitchen, turning around to let him trim it.  Horatio finger combed it, wincing at the breaking.  "It's not healthy right now either."

"It needs conditioned again."  He winced as Horatio cut across his shoulders.  The falling hair disappeared.  Cupid appeared.  "It broke when I got shot."

"Poor baby," he soothed, giving him a hug.  "It'll grow back. It'll just take a year."

"Can I magic it?"

"Get it healthier first," Cupid warned.  Xander nodded.  "Good boy."  He kissed him gently then smiled.  "Thank you for making Strife not able to sit."

"I'm always happy to serve, you know that."  Cupid laughed at his impish grin and left with a wink.  "Okay, who thinks I look like a dork with my hair this short?"  Nearly everyone raised their hands.  "Let me go condition it."  He went inside to work on his hair, finding the hair growing spell. He even prayed that it would work before doing it.  He came out with hair down to his toes and his head weighed down.  "I had a small oops," he announced.

"Waist length, Xander," Danny complained. "That's way too much hair.  Horatio, waist length?"

"Of course."  He turned Xander around.  "I need a brush."

"My turn," Don called, going to get it from inside.  He came out and sat Xander down to brush his hair, making him smile and blush while they all watched. "I like playing with his hair."

"Maybe I should grow mine," Greg offered.

"You look better short and spikey, like I do," Ray assured him.  That got a smile from him.  "You should call a friend, let them know you're okay."

"I should."  He got up and went to find the phone, calling Hodges.  "I'm fine."  He listened to him rant. "You heard them, Hodges.  Why would I stay?"  He rolled his eyes. "No, I'm fine.  I'm with Xander and I'm fine."  He smiled. "I'll miss you too, grumpy.  Of course I will.  I'll even be home in a few days probably.  No, a short break to give everyone time to calm down. What do you mean Warrick's moping?  You know what, smack him for me.  Verbally is fine," he assured him.  "Thanks, Hodges.  I'll even let you help me look at the want ads if you want."  He grinned.  "Sure."  He hung up and went back outside.  He picked up some of the fallen hair to feel it.  "It's very soft."

"It usually is," a dry, tolerant voice said from behind him.  "Mine. I get all shed hair too.  I like his hair.  It's pretty," he offered with a grin.

"Sure.  I can see making a Xander bear out of it."  He handed it over.  "I'm Greg."

"I'm Strife.  He prayed to me."

"But I love you," Xander called.  "It's long enough, that's what I wanted.  Plus you get more and this stuff is softer than the other stuff."

"It is, but you look like a yeti," he said with a grin, coming over to cuddle him under cover of the hair.

"Maybe we should leave some of it," Danny offered.  "That way we could sneak stuff under his hair too.  Strife, mine."

"Tough, not doing anything but cuddling.  Geez!"  He grinned.  "It weighs a ton."  Xander tried to nod.  "See?  And we don't have anti-gravity devices yet for hair."

"Pity. If we did, he'd be keeping it," Danny assured him.  Xander blushed at that.  He got up and came over to help, getting under the curtain of hair.  Strife got out and pulled some around so they had privacy.  He gave him a kiss and a subtle rub.  "I could like this whole cloak of hair thing."

"Next life somewhere colder for real cloaks?"

"We can do that on vacation. I like heat."  He took another kiss, making Xander blush again.  "My poor angel," he whispered.  "We should let Horatio cut it around us."  He felt a hand touch him and grinned. "Naughty you."

"Well, yeah.  Later?"

"Definitely later in many forms."  He took another kiss as the hair was trimmed and pulled away from him.  "Can't you just leave to really long parts around his face?"

"When he's sitting down, it'll cover his lap, Messer," Frank assured him.  "Let Horatio finish so we can do his hair up.  Then he and Ryan can spar."  That got a nod.

Danny looked at Xander.  "Two really long strips.  Just from your ears over on each side?" he offered with a grin.  "Very unique."  Xander shivered.  "Horatio?"

"We can try it, see what he thinks."  He left the rest longer, it came to his knees.  Then he handed Danny the brush.  "Here.  Your turn."  Danny grinned at Xander and turned him around, separating those out so he could braid the rest and then twine those two around the braid.  "That is cute," Horatio decided.  "Up to him if he keeps it."  Xander bounded then bent backwards, then shrugged and went to get his sword.  Ryan finished up his coffee and headed to get his practice blade, his good one was at home.

"Out front," Xander called.  "More room and the benches and fountain are in."  They headed that way with coffee, sodas, and milk.  Xander finished stretching then looked at Ryan, who popped his neck.  "Your turn to attack?"

"Please don't make me come in my pants this time?"

Xander grinned.  "Maybe."  Ryan moaned but he did attack and Xander flowed around him, moving with the blade, his body evoking strong feelings in everyone.

Greg moaned.  "I need to learn that side too.  That'll keep me in really good shape."  He tipped his head, grabbing the phone when it rang.  "Harris's house."  He heard the familiar voice and hung up on it.  He cheered on Xander when he got in a good blow and blew a kiss.  Ryan growled and lunged faster this time, speeding it up.  Xander was still graceful but more deadly now.

Eric stared.  "Damn it, I'll never be able to do that," he complained, fighting not to undo his belt.

"Me either," Sheldon complained, clutching the arms of his seat.  Don sat down between them and Eric grabbed him.  "No fair."

"Tough.  I'm on the approved playing list."   He glanced at Horatio and Speed, who were cuddled together and holding hands, whispering at each other to be strong and not to embarrass themselves.  Frank let out a moan and came.  So did Stella.  Calleigh growled some, shifting position.  Mac was clutching his chair too.  He had white knuckles.  Stella finally pounced Mac, making him give in.  Calleigh went inside.  Frank went to a different bathroom. Eric still had Don in his lap and he was good to fondle and stroke.

Sheldon looked at Greg.  "I'm not gay, but wanna help each other?"

"Please.  Neither am I but I need it."  They curled up together, having fun.  They finally had to clap when Ryan got Xander pinned but without being able to behead him.  Then Ryan moaned Xander's name, swore, and looked like he came, at which point Xander got him onto his back and stood over him, smirking.  "Way to go, Xander!" Greg called but went back to what he was doing.

"Very nice, Xander," Horatio called, taking Speed upstairs.

Danny patted his lap.  "You've got a spot right here, baby."  Xander bounced over and sat in his lap, shimmying and dancing for him.  Danny pulled him down to rub against him, taking his mouth to kiss him.   Hard, deep, tongues in play, then he moved and pulled Xander into the living room so he could go down on him, making him one happy boy.  He swatted the hands trying to help him.  "You deserve this.  I'll get me."  He finished him off and stood up, stroking himself.  "I should write my name in it on your stomach."

"Possessive. I kinda like that," he admitted.  Danny smirked and pulled his head up, kissing him again before coming on his stomach.  Xander moaned as it was rubbed in and he wrote both their names in it.  Xander shifted and arched his hips up. "Please, Danny?"

"Of course. Where do you want to put it?"

"In you?" he asked hesitantly.  He had only gotten Danny for the first time the other day.  Danny stripped down and handed him some lube they kept in there, making him whoop and move to claim his boyfriend in front of everyone.  Don came in and pouted but Danny pulled him over to kiss him through his panting in pleasure.  Then Don grinned and made him suck him while he and Xander kissed over Danny's back.  Danny came with a groan around him, making Don get off too.  Xander smiled and finished off, nipping him.  "Ooh, baby."  He stroked Danny's back, cuddling with him.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  For some reason I'm thirsty."  He looked at Don.  "Cut down on the salt, Flack."

"Yes, dear."  He took another kiss and got to cuddle them both by sitting under their heads.  "Ah, better."  He stroked over their hair, then smiled at Danny.  "I don't like that as much."

"It's cute."

"He can do it anyway."

"Point.  Let's let Horatio trim those even?"  They nodded and went to get him to trim them.  Speed yelled but it was okay.  Horatio made him get off and he went limp, sated, and pliant on him.  Then Horatio got off thanks to the smile his husband gave him and the pet name he got whispered in his ear.  They let the boys in to trim that part and send them outside to play again.


 Horatio looked up from his picnic, looking at the men walking toward where they were on the front lawn.  "Xander?" he called quietly.  "Suits and IAB."

Xander got up and bounced over, looking at Rick Stetler.  "What's going on?  Am I in trouble for the surge I had after the tumor was removed?"

"No.  I still don't believe *Apollo* did it."

Xander shrugged. "He said that's what his name was."  That got a sneer.  Xander moved his pants to show the marks, making him hiss and back up.  "Like I said, that's what his name was.  What's wrong?"

"You've all been charged with kidnaping a tech out of Las Vegas' lab, Mr. Harris," one of the suits said.

"Huh.  You mean rescuing him from the guy who had him?  Yeah, we did.  Greggy?"  He looked up and waved.  "Him?"

"Him," he agreed, walking that way.  "Mr. Sanders, if you'll come with us?"

"No, I won't.  I'm with my friends. They saved me from the person who I got kidnaped by after I walked away from a friend. I'm not leaving here.  They're sticking up for me when my last coworkers trashed me.  Sorry but it's a bad call.  Which one of them made it?"

"Your former supervisor."

Xander looked around.  "Anyone see my phone?"  Ryan tossed Greg his.  "Okay, that'll work.  I'll pay your bill this month too, dear."

"Don't worry about it.  The new one decided to shower us with jewels and chocolate coins last night."  Xander rolled his eyes.

Greg called Hodges.  "It's me.  Who called the FBI on them?"  He listened to him cackle.  "Uh-huh.  Put someone reasonable on.  Catherine if she's there.  She was reasonable last night."  Eric put something in front of him, sitting on the foot of his lounger to plug it in.  "Catherine?"  Eric hit a button.  "Catherine?"

"I'm here, Greg.  Am I on speaker?"

"Yup.  An external one so the nice FBI guys here can hear you. Who in the hell told them Xander had kidnaped me?"

"Um...  No one I know."

"Ma'am, you are?"

"CSI Willows, LVPD.  You?"

"Special Agent Heartstone, ma'am.  It was reported to us by a Gil Grissom that CSI Sanders had been kidnaped to Miami?"

"Really?  First I've heard of this.  Grissom!" she bellowed, making most of the men in Miami flinch at that tone of voice.  "Grissom!"  They heard a faint male voice.  "Not you, Stokes.  Where is he?"

"His office," came through faintly.  "Did they find Greg?"

"I'm on with Greg and the FBI.  Grissom!"

"What?" another voice said as it came closer.  "What happened?  Did they find Greg?"

"With his friends in Miami," she said impatiently.  "Did you call the FBI?"

"He was missing, Catherine."

"He's not missing.  He's with his friends, who was the one who got him to Miami, Gil."

"He was acting irrationally.  We know they're prone to surging."

"He's not a damn science experiment!" she yelled.  They all flinched at that.  "Greg is the same person he's always been.  He is not an experiment to watch.  He is not a creature.  You called the FBI to find him?"  She came back.  "Sorry about that," she said more calmly.  "Greg, how do I put you on speaker on my end?"

"The menu button twice and then the star key I think."   Three beeps later.  "Am I on?"

"You are," Nick said.  "Are you all right?"

"Well, there was someone who wanted to know something I knew nothing about but Xander got me out of that.  He came for me and it was nice.  He didn't rag on me or anything.   Now, listen to this.  I.  Am.  Fine.  I.  Am.  With.  Friends.  Who.  Give.  A.  Damn.  About.  Me.  Did we hear that?  The same as we heard how they had to call Catherine to get Warrick out of my place?  I'm not an experiment.  I'm not something to crack jokes about.  I am not yours any longer because of the shitty way my team treated me.  Do we hear me loud and clear, Grissom?  Thank you."  He hung up and held his head for a minute, then looked up at the agent. "I'm sorry for him. Now and then he thinks I'm one of his bugs."

"It's all right. It's better if it's not a kidnaping.  If I may ask why he thought it would be?"

Greg looked at Xander.  "They know about a bunch of us in this city and if he outs you as one of us, we get to sue them," Xander assured him.

Greg looked at the amused agent.  "I'm a lower level GHS member."

The agent nodded.  "Okay, that makes more sense.  He found out, started to watch you.  The other CSI raggged on you?  You left?" he suggested.  Greg nodded.  "That's fine, sir.  I understand fully.    Would you like to file a complaint?"

"No.  He probably thought he gave a damn," he said grimly.

The agent nodded.  "I understand, sir.  Thank you for your indulgence, everyone.  I'm sorry we interrupted."  He looked at Xander.  "Where are your passports?"

"If I had to guess, the new friend I have who likes to shower us with things took them for me."  He looked up.  "Did you take my passports?  If so, they want them back."  They came back and the whole group was showered with jewels and gold chocolate coins.  He grinned once Calleigh had shrieked because one cold one went down her top.  "They like to spoil me."

"That's how you afforded this house," Stetler said grimly.  Xander nodded.  Danny and Don both nodded.  "So you two take care of him?"

"Watch his back," Don said.

"Braid his hair," Danny agreed.

"Cuddle him."

"Wash his chest."

"Cook him dinner."

"Help him find people and things to help him," Danny agreed.

Xander looked at them.  "Does that mean Don's cooking and I get an actual new housekeeper?  And a gardener so I don't have to mow too?  Please?"

"Sure.  Stetler, you know a good, reputable cleaning service that won't try ta steal him?" Don asked.  "And a good garden service since the last guy walked in and tried ta steal from his wallet in front of him?"

"I saw that report.  If I hear of one, I'll pass it on.  Along with a good officer to watch him when you're not off."

Xander smiled sweetly.  "Can you leave Horatio alone too?  Please?  He's being a sweetie.  He trimmed my hair for me this morning because it was messy."  He blinked his big, brown eyes at him, watching him shiver.  "Please?  He's already having a bad month.  It's not going to get any better and they've got to take my poker winnings and make me go to the bank.  Please?"  Stetler shivered and backed away then ran.

"Bye," Speed called, waving a hand.  The agents laughed.  "Xander just has the touch, guys."  One came over and whispered in Horatio's ear.  "We heard about that," Speed assured him. "It's tiny.  It's a little digital camera and a photo printer."

"I've got a spare one, the original prototype," Xander said, whispering it in Don's ear.

Don smiled at Speed. "He knows where there's a prototype of that thing."

"Really?" an agent asked.  "Is that why they were worried about your second passport, sir?"

"No.  They're worried because I have a second passport," Xander told him. "That and I came home with bags of money."  He grinned.  "I won a lot but I left with most of that."

"Sure, sir. Where did the money come from?"

"I was part of a high stakes poker ring here."  He patted Don's cheek.  "He makes me go to the IRS instead of confession."  That got a smile from the backup agent and a nod from the lead one.   "Should I give the prototype to Horatio?"

"As long as he's willing to share.  Thank you, Mr. Harris."  He smiled and walked off, without the passports.

Xander looked up.  "Thank you."  He went inside to the safe and opened the black case in there, turning to find Ryan looking too.  "Nosy."

"Yes, I am. It's part of the job."  He took out the camera setup, shaking his head.  "Bad, Xander."  He walked off, handing it to Horatio. "Here, boss.  Didn't we already take him to the bank?" he asked, looking at Don.

"No, he was on your couch that night.  I called, they wanted him to do it for that much cash."


"Not your fault," Danny assured him.  "We should do that."  Greg laughed.  "Xander, where are you hiding them?"

"Practice room again."  He came out and pouted at him.  "Must I?"

"Yes," he said firmly.  He pulled Xander into his lap and looked into his eyes.  "I love you but yes."  Xander nodded, hugging him.  "Getting cute and cuddly won't keep us from making you deposit it, Xander."

"I still haven't gotten the rest."

"Call my cousin and see."

Xander sighed and went to find his phone and call him.  "They're making me do a bank drop," he said bitterly.  "I know, but Danny said to call you and see," he said.  "Because they're making me.  I know.  I know.  Hey, he's your cousin.  You talk to him."  He handed over the phone and climbed between Eric and Ryan, giving Eric a hug.  "Ryan's nosy."

"I heard.  It comes with the job.  You gonna show me?"


"You should.  It could help us."

"I got it for Steve."

"I know.  It could still help us too."

Xander pinched him on the cheek.  "I like you."

"I like you too."  He gave him a hug and whispered in his ear.  "You can't do things that could get us in trouble, Xander.  You know that.  Give it to Horatio.  You trust him."  Xander pouted at him when he pulled back.  "Tough. Do it."  Xander pouted worse.  "Now.  H, he wants to show you what's in the safe."

"He doesn't have to but if we need it, I'm going to come to him to get usage rights," Horatio said, looking at Xander.  "I know he's not going to get anyone in trouble."  Xander shook his head.  "Good.  Now, can I have a hug?"  Xander got up and came over to give him one.  "Thank you.  I wouldn't mind knowing what you have in there or how much we're helping you deposit."  Xander sighed and pulled him up to take him into the safe and show him everything.  He smiled.  "That is impressive, Xander," he said quietly.  He gave him a hug around the waist and leaned closer.  "We're not using that, correct?"  Xander shook his head.  "Then why do you have it?"


"I see."  He looked at the document forger and the blank stack of documents, plus a few other things, like a very nice card reader system.  "Poker debt payment?"  Xander nodded.  "Then I won't complain but if I need it...."

"You can borrow it."  He closed the safe and looked around, seeing Wyatt pulling in.  "In a few."  Horatio nodded and let him move, bouncing out to meet him. He paid him his usual tip, took the food and helped him carry in the bags from the trunk.  "Is that all of it?"

"All but the one from Don Toma," he said quietly, leading Xander out back again.  "That way they can't nag you if they don't know.  He wanted to know if you would accept a service instead."

"Depending. What was he offering?"

"His daughter."

"Um, hell no."

"That's what I thought.  He said it'll be another week."

Xander looked at him.  "Not hardly."

"It's that or he's going to bolt."  Xander gave him another look. "I'll try.  That also leaves the Gradient one."  Xander rolled his eyes.  "Accept the usual?"

"Ask Horatio."  Wyatt laughed. "Seriously.  He took the prototype camera."

"Sure."  He walked to the kitchen door and leaned in.  "Lieutenant, one of his poker debts wanted to know if he'd accept some new theoretical technology instead of money."

"What sort of theoretical?"  He came outside, looking at him.  "You do look a lot like your cousin."

"I keep hearing that but I think I'm cuter."  Horatio smirked at that. "He was thinking about a new fingerprint maker and a few other odds and ends, plus some other blanks, Xander?"

"Steve could probably use them."

"Who's Steve?"

"My financial guy.  Speaking of which, I've got to tell Steve I'm putting in the poker money."  Wyatt laughed. He shrugged. "He needs it.  Horatio?"

"I might like to see some of the cutting edge stuff. Without passing it on," he told Wyatt.

"That's not my beef.  He knows damn well Xander's sleeping with two cops. He was there when Xander came in bragging that Don got his evaluation raise."  They shared a look.   "He also knows Xander knows people who have needs.  Therefore he helps."

"Then I'd like that," Xander agreed.  "We'll be counting for the next little while."  Wyatt smiled.  "Is that all of it?"

"The two are still there.  You really should break bad."  Xander strolled over and whispered in his ear, getting a nod.  "I can point out that you can do that."  He smiled.  "Anything else?  Fu sent duck for Hubert this time."

"He'll appreciate that."  He kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you, Wyatt."  He checked the trunk and looked in the back seat.  "Is that the rest of ours?"

"Nah, one of your neighbors saw us and called."  He grinned. "Thanks for the tips, Xander."  He got in and went to deliver up the street.

Xander strolled back into the house and undid the charm he had hiding everything, counting bags.  "Six are missing!"

"No, I drug five to the bank and you brought one to the farm," Danny called.

"I meant since two days ago!"  He looked around and found them in the closet.  "Ryan!"

"Sorry, I needed the room and you had them hidden!"  He came in to help.  Horatio and the others brought their drinks in and came in to count.

Greg stared.  "Damn.  Can you teach me to play poker, Ryan?  Xander said you taught him."

"I did.  Our first trip to Vegas," Ryan agreed with a smile.  "I can teach you.  Sit, help count."

"Counting machine?"

"In bundles.  Some rolls, some bank bundled," Danny offered.  "We could use a counting machine."

"Office, second desk drawer," Xander offered.  Everyone stared at him.  "What?  It's reasonable. I hate counting cash.  Do you know what's on some of these bills?"  Danny smiled and went to get the counting machine.  They came back and Xander got out gloves, putting some on.

"See, I knew I'd teach you good habits," Ryan offered, grabbing his own pair.  Then some of the rub bank tellers used since Danny had a few tubs of that.  They got to work on their own bags.

Frank finally looked over.  "Damn it, how did you get all this?"

"He's evil at more than baccarat, Frank."  Someone knocked so Ryan got up to answer the door. "Yes?"

"Is Xander here?"

"In the practice room counting his poker winnings with us.  I'm Ryan.  Can I help?"

"I'm Jesse. I only deal with Xander."

"Xander?"  He came out and squealed, hugging him.

"Xander," he sighed, hugging him.  "Thank you, man," he whispered.

"You're welcome, precious.  It's okay, we can talk in front of Ryan.  He's a good guy.  He taught me how to play poker."

Jesse looked at him.  "Give lessons cheaply?"

"I'm not sure how I did so good with him, but maybe."  He smiled.  "You're the guy who made the camera."  The kid blushed and nodded, looking down.  "That was sweet work.  You ever think about working for the PD?"

"You guys don't need stuff that often."  He looked at him. "Usually it's a submit and reject.  I've had a few of those."

"You know what, you send things of this quality to us, we might not reject them.  Because immigration has *no* idea how the system he had works."

"But it's so simple."

"It is, but they're still clueless.  They think in terms of typewriters and laser printers."

"But that's so *old*," he complained, looking at him. "They're ages behind this stuff if they are.  All I'm doing is making it smaller and more portable."   He shrugged.  "Do you think your boss would like to see?" he asked hesitantly.

"I would," Horatio agreed from inside, coming out, handing him a soda.  He got an impish grin for it.  "I would definitely like to see it, Jesse.  Whenever you're ready to show me. Also, depending on what you sent?  Might've been a bit too high tech for us.  Especially if you sent it to Computer Services.  They took Detective Kowalski's computer for nineteen weeks."  He giggled at that.  "Because someone was trying to download and blew the monitor.  You send it to me and I'll see what I can do."

"Let me clean," he said, smiling and bouncing a bit.  "I'll let you see once I clean.  There's some things you shouldn't see."

"I understand.  Whenever you've cleaned up a bit.  Don't worry about doing more than dusting and I promise I won't bust you for it as long as we can come to you for help if we need it and possibly to borrow some stuff now and then.  That's what I do with Xander, all right?"  The young guy beamed and nodded.  "Good boy."  He pulled out a card.  "Call me when you're ready and I'll try to come the same day."

"Yes, sir.  Thank you, Lieutenant."  He beamed and handed Xander the two bags he was carrying.  "Here you go.  Thank you for letting me pay this way.  Common sense lagging and all that."

"Jesse, no more gambling without me," Xander told him. "Really."

"Yeah, well, the circle's kinda in shambles anyway.  But don't worry about it."  He hugged him. "Thank you for the soda."  He blew a kiss and headed back to his hatchback economy car and headed off with a lot of engine noise.

"My friend Jesse could've ended up like that," he said quietly, handing them to Horatio.  "Let's go see what I've got this time."  They bounced inside and opened up the new bags, looking inside. "Oooh."  He pulled something out.  "What does this do?"

"If you point that at me and it fires, I'm ducking so it hits Frank," Eric said firmly.  Xander pointed it at the other wall and fired, seeing the picture it made. He fiddled with it and the picture got bigger.  Eric shook his head and smiled. "It's a mini projector."

"Yeah, but Lupin could use this," Xander said.

Don groaned.  "No anime!  Please?"

"Fine."  They put it away and let the others go through it.  Even Frank was smiling at the infections nature of the new toy buzz.  Then they finished the counting project and bundled everything but a few bundles up and hiked it out to Horatio's hummer.  It had the most trunk space and they needed it.  Then they headed to the bank. The teller looked at them in horror.  "They're making me deposit my poker winnings."

She just nodded.  "Would you like to do this in private, sir?"

"Sure.  Is Miss Gold in?  She's the one I usually deal with."

"She is.  Let me get her for you."  She went to get her and she came out.  "Him, ma'am."

"Xander," she said fondly, looking.  "What's all this?"

"Poker winnings."  He grinned brightly.  "I was playing high stakes."

"I can tell.  Let's bring all this into the conference room, that way we're all in there."  Xander nodded and hefted his bag after her.  The others brought their bags.  She got a few tellers to count.  Danny handed over the sheet where they had done it, making her smile.  "Thank you. That's very nice of you."

"Want gloves?" Ryan asked.  "We know very well what's on most cash in circulation."

"That's all right, we use hand sanitizer all the time, Mr. Wolfe. Thank you anyway."  The tellers brought in counters and sat down to do a double count while Frank tapped Xander and Horatio to get the other few bags.  They walked out and came back, bringing that in.  "More?"

Xander nodded.  "Yeah. Oh, and we got sent more stuff.  I'm not sure if they wanted to put stuff into safety deposit boxes or not.  Danny?  Don?  Ryan?"

"Already cashed mine," Ryan offered.

Danny shrugged and Don nodded.  "We let the others have it," Don told him.  Xander shrugged and they pulled him closer to keep him from bouncing.

Miss Gold looked over at the cough.  "Oh, dear."

Horatio took the drugs.  "I know that bag.  It was one of the ones that got paid today.  He's already in jail.  Xander?"

"I warned them. I let you handle it last time, Horatio.  Stomp his ass."  He looked at her.  "He keeps forgetting some of it. It's his personal stash.  I have never liked drugs and I went on a rampage when someone tried to pay their poker debts with one.  They turned themselves in."  She laughed at that.  "Horatio will handle it."

"Eric, search the other bags," Horatio ordered.  He and Ryan did that, coming up with another small baggie.  "Hmm.  Same source?"  Ryan pulled out a baggie and put them both in there, then labeled them.  "Thank you, Mr. Wolfe."

"Let me go dust them in the hummer and see if we have anything on them."  He nodded politely and went to do that.

Horatio looked at the bankers.  "You know that ring we just busted, the illegal poker ring?"  He pointed at Xander.  "He was one of the few clean people in it.  The lesser bored rich people got upset that he kept winning."  They giggled at that. "He did not get this illegally.  It's technically not illegal to win or host personal poker games."

"True. As long as you say it, Lieutenant."  He nodded.  "Thank you."  They got back to counting and gave her a list of what was in each bag once they were done.  Then they switched stacks and got to work checking each other.  When they were done they handed her the sheets.  She nodded that they matched, signing off.  She looked at Xander.  "All right, now we get to decide where it goes, Mr. Harris."

Xander moaned.  "The one I use most?"

"That one is already over insurance limits," she warned.  He whimpered. "I know.  We could start another one."

"Won't that complicate his life more?" Frank asked.  She nodded.  "Boys?"  He looked at Don and Danny.  Don pulled out his phone, calling Steve, walking out to talk to him with the figures.  He smiled.  "They take good care of him."

"So I've heard."  She smiled when Don came back.  "How is Steve?"

"He blew the embezzlement whistle on his company so there's feds crawling all over him."  He sat down and handed the sheet back. "He said, and I quote, make Xander quit playing cards and to put it in an account just for him.  Get him the usual cards, and can you please fix the one that had some theft and the one with the blue card?"

"I can, I have, and I'll look into that one."  She smiled at that.  "Better?"  He nodded.  "Before you ask, the theft was related to those two he had arrested."

"The supposed housekeeper and gardener?" Danny asked.

"No, the interior designer and the house painter."  They all looked at Xander.

"Xander?" Speed asked.

"You mean they didn't tell you?  Who do they call whenever I have to call Dispatch now?"

"You know, they haven't called me in a while.  I get it through the grapevine," Don said.

"Me too," Danny agreed.  "That'll stop."  That got a shrug.  "Sure.  They broke in?"

"He was napping on the couch from what I understand."

"He was supposed to paint the fence, she was working on the upstairs bedrooms. They both came highly recommended."

That got a mass groan and a nod from Frank. "I'll pull up everything with his name in it," Frank promised.  Ryan came back with the report for Horatio.  "Need me to arrest someone?"

"Not really.  Someone else packed them.  We know who though.  It's clear who packed them for the idiots' who're in jail already."  He smiled.   "Narco got called.  They're happy too.  I've already handed it over to one of them and they're on their way to handle it. They thought it was cuter than the guy who tried to pay his whole poker debt by giving Xander 213 kilos of cocaine."

"And I threw a fit," Xander reminded him.

"You did, I'm proud you let us have him."  He gave him a kiss on the top of the head. "Paperwork?"  Xander moaned and nodded.

"Let me go get the forms," she said, going to do that.  She came back and handed them to him.  "Just sign and date, Mr. Harris.  We have everything else."  He nodded, doing it.  Then she took it and got some guards to carry the money down for her, loading it onto a trolley so they could take it to the safe.  She filed the paperwork, brought him back the bags, then smiled and shook their hands.  "Thank you so much.  We love Mr. Harris."

Calleigh smiled.  "If I mention his name can I get a better deal on interest?"

"I don't know.   What were you planning on moving, dear?"

"Some CD's.  I'm with National."

"We always have better interest."

"Some people consider them my harem," Xander said with a grin.  "They treat them very nicely to get me to go to them."  She blushed and giggled, then took Calleigh to talk to her about what they could do for her.  Frank went too.

Horatio looked at him.  "Naughty."

"And?" he asked, grinning. "They do."

"They do.  Now what shall we do?"

"Ice cream?"

"Ice cream sounds good," Ryan agreed. "Guys?"  They nodded and filed out, going to the various cars.  Eric texted Frank and Calleigh.  She had ridden with him anyway.  Ryan smiled when they got there and no one ordered anything with chocolate, not even Xander.  So apparently there was enough chocolate even for the biggest of GHS.

The End.

To index: