Fed'd-Up With Desire.
The head of the new FBI unit looked at the people gathered in the meeting room of the hotel, frowning some. "BAU sent someone?"
"Some of us felt that these people would end up on our caseload, if they already haven't. From what I've heard they're often taken and some of the reasons are probably close to what we see daily," the young guy in the sweater vest and glasses said quietly. "Besides that, what sort of profiler would I be if I couldn't understand this urge as well? It's a fundamental urge to mankind, it's simply exaggerated in these people."
"Actually, it's a hormone condition," he said grimly. He looked over as someone came in. "Has the board agreed?"
"They have although a few had questions. Including why you're wiretapping Mr. Harris."
One of the agents got into a sealed file, looking at something. "Six years now," he said. "He's listed as possible terrorist activity in his past." He let his boss see.
"Six years," Adam mused, thinking back. "That was before graduation. Were you doing his family or was it another cause?"
"According to the file, it says someone tipped the LA office off," he said, looking at him. "Then they noticed things and it's been inconsistent since then. It says he's in New York?"
"This weekend. He lives in Miami near me most usually."
One guy put his feet on the floor and sat up. "I know that name. He was with that huge mess of a slave auction."
"He had been taken," Adam agreed. The others gaped. "Along with a few other members and members of the police department in Miami that he considers family. The," he coughed, "mess is because Mr. Harris managed to save himself and a great number of others. In the old days he would've been known as a berserker," he told the agent, who shuddered. "Mr. Harris is from Sunnydale...."
He held up a hand. "Enough said with that. I've had to investigate things up there. No more. Please!" The others looked at him. "It's one of those places where no one knows *anything* but everything has a strange undercurrent. Like a town full of steppford people. No one sees anything, even if it happens in front of them. Harris was part of that?"
"He worked with Miss Summers during high school and right afterward until a road trip taken after they brought down an unfortunate government project," Adam said dryly.
"Oh, we know about them," Gibbs assured him from his seat. "He sent one running into traffic in my office so I looked to see why."
Adam gave him a smug look. "His usual answer is 'you're welcome'."
"I'll get onto a higher up about this wire tapping."
"It might be a decent idea to have the people from Miami keep a subtle eye on him," Gibbs offered. "Xander tends to do some of the damndest things. Like hand us a warhead that was a present recently. And five dirty bombs in construction. Only one with materials included and the sensors didn't pick them up. Oh, tell him to have his SUV cleaned again, just in case it's still radiating on the x-ray level." Adam nodded so he sipped his coffee. "We sprayed but you never know. Especially if the road sensors work."
Adam looked at the agent he knew was in Miami. "Xander does seem to pop up in the oddest places. Then again, his family are police officers so they do tend to watch out for him."
"I'll be sure to go to him first if we get another thing eating the power plant," he said grimly. "First. Before we try shooting it."
"I don't know why we didn't think to call him last time," Adam admitted. He looked around. "Are we all FBI?"
"BAU," that one said, raising his hand. "Have we had to deal with your people before?"
"Gloria Granois was referred to your unit if I remember right. No others come off the top of my head."
He thought back. "She was referred about my first month there. I did part of the analysis myself. It came up being someone who was stalking her and captured her because he wanted her to marry him even though she was married. The agent in charge said he had an idea and took it back."
"Yes, they got there in time to stop the want-to-be cult leader from 'remarrying' her to himself and he killed them both," Adam said, sighing a bit at the end.
"I'm sorry to hear that," he said honestly.
"So we've been dealing with the edges of this group for years?" the guy from LA asked. Edgerton walked in and flopped down. "Finally?"
He lifted his head. "I have *never* seen someone so bouncy and hyper before. Never! And then he ate more chocolate to get even more bouncy!"
"They're like that when they start to back up," Gibbs said wisely. "Then they start getting a bit confused, their attention splits, and it's either they release it or you beat the shit out of them for it. My boys?"
"With him, walked him into a room and let him go." He shook his head. "How do you deal with *two* of them?"
"They're together," he said dryly. "Either one gets that bad, I send them off for ten minutes. They both come back more focused." He took another drink. "So, we're going to get information? I still have questions even after Ducky and DiNozzo told me stuff."
"That's the first point I would bring up," Adam said. "If you talk about us in public, there is a ninety-four-point-seven-six-three percent chance we'll be kidnaped." The LA agent groaned. "Problems?"
"You guys have my brother as a member?"
"Charlie is your brother?"
Adam smirked. "He knew a delightful paired set back in college. He worked out the probability formula for individual members to be kidnaped. Tell him I said hello."
"I will. So he knows?"
"Has known. He helped when she went out of control. She's here this weekend I do believe. I'll introduce you." He looked at the group. "Talking about us in any public forum - coffee shops, the office, anywhere - can get us taken, gentlemen. No female agents?"
"A few were invited and declined."
"There are females within the group," Adam told him.
"I'll be instructing one in my office," the Miami one said. "How is Mr. Harris?"
"Bouncy," Edgerton said. "I got sicced on him in DC and rode up with him. He's very bouncy."
"That's normal then. Is he giving another dance demonstration?"
"He and DiNozzo are doing the self-defense panel," Gibbs told him. "Including that." He poured himself some more coffee. "Sixteen hundreds?"
"Yes, the group was started in the sixteen hundreds by some concubines that had no idea why they were the favored ones over ones who were prettier, smarter, better at politics, better in the bedroom than the others. They started to correspond when a few met during trips and wars. Then they met others. It started out as companionship in our shared plight. It became a fraternity of sorts for those who share the same hormone condition." He looked around the table. "For those who do not know, all GHS members are marked by having a higher than average pheromone output along with a few other bodily chemicals. We have our own research panel. Gibbs' younger team member is on it and giving a report today?"
"Xander found someone immune." Adam stiffened. "We found out what drug he was taking. Sassone is turning it all over to me. Formula, stash, and all. He did say he wanted a bit for his own personal use for card games."
"The family in Miami would like to beat him for still playing poker with the underground," Adam said dryly. He looked around the room. "That formula will not be getting out in case those who want us use it on their guards."
"No, it won't," Gibbs agreed. "My higher ups and the higher ups at the Pentagon are hiding it."
"Thank you." He looked around again. "Since the late eighteen hundreds we've had ways of testing for members. A simple 'drop things into blood' sort of test. We rate ourselves by levels. One to ten. Ten technically has no upper boundary but they can vary in strength a bit. Mr. Harris is our strongest in centuries. Had this been earlier in time he would've been kidnaped or sold fairly young into his servitude."
"Don't tempt someone," Gibbs warned. He looked at the amused faces. "Remember Sheppard, my former director?" They all nodded. "She met Harris and tried to sell him to someone." They all groaned. "She would've gotten DiNozzo if she had known. She did try to sell Sanders. That's when she got arrested."
"Some of us have known for years," one agent said in the corner. "My wife's downstairs. She's a level three. I've made sure that some people, good ones I trusted who might have to deal with issues, had a copy of her directory, Adam. I know it's a breach but if it helps Paul I'm all for it."
"As long as it doesn't get out."
"Shouldn't," he assured him. "It helps me take my wife back now and then too."
Adam smiled. "She is very fetching. Is this number four or five?" He groaned. "Ah, didn't know."
"I've been out of town on assignment. I said I'd meet her here. I'm guessing the baby is why she's bouncy and squealing today." He sipped his water. "Okay, guys, let's get this straight now. Yeah, they're all hedonists. Every last one of them. That's why there's a huge cuddle pile room. That's why there's room 318 for those who aren't getting it from their keepers."
"Generally most GHS have someone in their lives we call a keeper. Someone who protects them, handles the mundane things they tend to forget, gives them what they need to wear out the pheromone problem," Adam agreed. "For the lower levels, like Doug's wife, all he does is be an extra attentive husband with a bit more creativity in the bedroom. For the higher level members, it's often harder. Levels nine and ten members often have to have more than one. I have Xander and his family's permission to talk about them."
"Is Caine one?" the guy from Miami asked.
"Ask him yourself," Adam said firmly. He looked at the rest of the group. "Xander is a level ten, the strongest in centuries. The stress of his former life and the combat he was getting, plus his nymphomaniac girlfriend of the time, were wearing him out enough that he wasn't emoting much. Though we do have anecdotal evidence that he was drawing things back as far as eight years old. We cannot be sure if it's this cause or not."
"Things?" one person said.
"Sunnydale stuff," Don said, waving a hand. "Ignore it, insert people in your mind. Unless you're there, you'll never remember it anyway." He looked at him. "Eight?"
"Eight. That was the first time he noticed someone trying to follow him. Not any of the other children. He was someone that wasn't known for liking children. He did like Xander at that time."
"Early bloomer?" Don asked.
"We're not sure. We know when he hit puberty. We do a comprehensive history on all our members, Agent Epps. As soon as they test out or pass the initiation test." He looked at them. "Which is no one's concern but our own." Everyone nodded. "So we do know that we do draw others to us. When Xander went on his roadtrip, one of the...people in Sunnydale gave him a letter of introduction to a place where he might find some momentary fun to wear himself out at. The owner of that brothel realized what he was and signed him up for six week stint. Then he called me to come test him and break him in. Xander considered it great fun at the time as well as a learning experience. He had people pay as much as a hundred thousand for an hour of his time, plus tips." A few gasped. "By the end of the six weeks he was fully blown open and I had done as much teaching as I could from Chicago with him here in New York. When he left we had figured out there were eighty-four local officers who should be reassigned somewhere harmless, another thirty citizens that should never be allowed around people, and had gotten Xander back an astounding eight-hundred-fifteen times. In six weeks.
"When he left the brothel he had enough money to buy a condo on the better side of lower Manhattan immediately and move in within a week. He picked an officer we all liked as his protector, someone who was there only to protect him. Don was basically his nanny and bodyguard. For that he got free rent and bills. He also got tied up once when someone took Xander for four months from their apartment." Everyone stared. "After that, we hooked Xander a bit more deeply into the system and got him some mentors who could help him and help his family. They got him set up with a keeper as well as Don. Plus some hobbies. Being bored does tend to raise our output a bit. If we're bored, we're emoting. Xander has great trouble with boredom. Most level tens live in a large house, they have good security, they have a good staff of people to protect them. They have at least two lovers and the guards know that they may be asked to sub in if he or she suddenly surges. The last one in New York had two lovers, two guards she played with, and occasionally did outcalls for an escort service when she was bored. She was in her seventies when she died. During an outcall session.
"Any GHS will never quit emoting. There are things that can suppress them for a bit but they are *dangerous*. Xander proved that when he was unknowingly given some and spread them around some of the members in Miami. Three of them nearly died, and Xander lost about twenty pounds by the time we caught the reason. Once every now and then to help handle a surge, to get them away from a dangerous situation, that sort of use is acceptable. Any other is not. We have a list. You'll be getting it." He looked around, seeing some horrified agents. "While there are hedonists who live for pleasures, for us it is not a choice, it is a necessity. If we are not worn out, we start to back up. If we back up, we emote worse. If we do that, we're going to be taken within days. Backlogging is extremely dangerous for us. Those who've run into us in a professional capacity before probably did so while we were backlogged. We have an information packet for you lot outside. In it are the major regions we're stolen to, along with some recurring names."
Gibbs raised his hand. "DiNozzo told me Paul was retiring?"
"He gave us notice he was retiring in two years and his second, Soshar is taking over. We may be looking to hire more sometime soon. If so, we'd definitely go military. Paul was Special Forces and so are all his people. A great many of us have left enough money to the group so we can pay for our own rescues. Of course, if our members are found with jewelry on them or nearby them and Paul believes it's prudent, he brings it with them. Most of us believe it's only fair since they stole us in the first place. Xander has a bad habit of ruining people for fun when they try to take him. It gives him a bit of pleasure in his daily life."
"DiNozzo said he never gets the good reparation," Gibbs joked.
The guy from Miami sat up. "I see Harris out alone all the time."
"Xander is an expert at defending himself, he's always armed even if it is only his hairpins, and his poker buddies do tend to keep it down as well. They know and enjoy watching Xander destroy people. Though we do not encourage it. Most level nines and tens have stay-at-home spouses or keepers. Xander's work. Both of them. Though he did go out with Greg when he was in Miami. That we wanted to outlaw but they seemed to handle it all right thanks to his poker connections in the underground." He smiled at Don. "There are a few of us who are in multi-GHS relationships. Usually two who've decided to make a go of it. They often work out and don't tend to backlog too often."
"Harris is in one?"
"He is. One of his boys is a low level one. Xander more than adequately wears him out so he can focus on police work. Though there have been times they've both come in and nearly died at their desks from the strain of helping him wear himself out." Gibbs snickered at that. He looked at the Miami agent again. "Most usually we handle Mr. Harris if something happens. Like the last time, he and a lot of those around him were taken so others in the family grouping we've made went to rescue him."
"And got caught too," Don said dryly.
"And got caught as well," Adam agreed. "That was the only way to get them inside that they saw."
"So, if Harris was doing what he was supposed to, he'd probably be down on his island with a few keepers, some guards, and be doing crafts and things?" Gibbs suggested. Adam nodded. "Why is he not?"
"He was hyperactive before he was blown open." Edgerton groaned. "Then again, his former friends stole him a few times as well. Tried to blow him up as well." The Miami agent put his head down and thumped it. "Ah, you've heard of Miss Summers."
"Don't remind me." He looked at him. "How did she get out of jail with Rosenburg?"
"The same way Xander destroyed the place that was holding the slave auction. We do know that she's being punished by something else at the moment. If she should show up, please give one of us a call."
"Don't worry, I will." He sat up again, looking at Epps. "That disappearing, freaky stuff?"
"Sunnydale," he agreed, nodding, looking grim. Gibbs snorted and took the laptop to get into a file, handing it to him. "I have one of them," he said, finding the personnel list.
"Some got arrested, some got farmed out to the UN. Some got transferred," Gibbs agreed, leaning back. "How often are we going to be dealing with it? I know I've got some new ones moving into DC thanks to some new senators."
"You'll have five that we know of."
"LA has how many?" Don asked.
"Twelve but one will be moving to DC with her husband."
"Two of them are level nines. We've sent information on level nines and tens to people we trust in law enforcement for years now. You're more likely to run into trouble with them. They're the most likely to be taken, hurt, killed, or gifted with strange things. One of yours got given six elephants and a camel a few years back by someone who wanted her daughter, who was a lesser level. She left it up to her daughter."
"DiNozzo told me that they'd be left there if the person wanted to be," Gibbs said.
"If that's what they want, we do not feel obligated to stop them," Adam agreed. "If the extraction team finds clear signs of abuse, coercion or torture, they're gone anyway. Certain members that he knows are happily married are taken back automatically, no matter what they say. Like Xander would be. We know he's not looking for more because of his mates. There's a number of strong couples within the groups. We also tend to clump together for companionship and help. Regional meetings, sometimes city-wide meetings like they have here. New York has fifteen GHS the last I knew," he told the local guy, getting a horrified look. "That does include the new level nine one of your Vice agents found and brought to our attention."
"The city meetings are held with that one prosecutor's wife?" Adam nodded. "I'll get with her since I know she's here." He looked around. "Something else I noticed while Harris was up here and dealing with others. They are flashy. They cannot help but draw attention to themselves. Harris used to drive this ungodly colored purple SUV. Nice ride, great ride from what I heard, but not exactly the most macho shade of lavender."
"He's got a blood red corvette and his SUV he's got here now," Adam said dryly. "Some of us don't draw attention to ourselves."
"Most of the higher ones do," he countered.
"True, the higher you are the more likely that is because fussing over it is one way to wear it out."
Edgerton spoke up. "Harris' SUV is nice. It's a stretch Range Rover. It's got limo seating in the back. It's got emergency supplies, rear and undercarriage cameras. Good security. Has a sleeping gas switch on the driver's door. It's a sweet ride even if it does guzzle gas by the barrel."
"Dual tanks," Gibbs told him. "He got DiNozzo and Sanders one when they got together. Drove it up, dropped it off, got taken by someone in the UAE." He shook his head. "He tried really hard to behave but the Director tried to claim it on them. She decided DiNozzo was her personal property." Adam gave him a knowing look. "I was hormoned," he said bluntly.
"Fine. As long as you two have worked it out. Most of us don't hold a grudge except against those who've taken us. Xander does against his former friends. You will find some commonalities. All of us have a sweet tooth. All of us enjoy the fussing over things, like shopping to create new things or presents. All of us are very good in bed with some training. Our needs make sure of it or else they're not being met." He went to get the information packets. "These are not to get out unless you are briefing someone," he ordered. They all nodded.
"That's why we're here," the agent in charge said. "What's with Dallas?"
"It's a good shopping area," the guy from down there said. "We've got about twelve, thirteen of our own."
"Twenty-three," Adam told him. "Including lower level members."
"We hardly ever have any problem with any of them but our two level tens and one of the level nines. Anymore the local office warns them personally if there's diplomats coming into town. The last big oil company meeting downtown was fun. We busted in four times to take people back from the Japanese contingent." He took his packet, looking it over. "Hmm, the new girl's sixteen?"
"Yes. She got some and it awakened the need," Adam said dryly. "She's here as well. Our local helper brought her along and has been helping her like she helped mentor Xander."
"Would Harris live in a more secure house if we could give Caine stuff for it?" the Miami guy asked.
"He can't remember the code to the one he has," Gibbs told him, giving him a look. That got a moan. "Is he constantly in backlog?" Adam nodded. "He doesn't have playmates or a brothel membership?"
"He has both. He's still overloaded most of the time. It's partially the boredom. Partially it's where they have him on a schedule due to work issues. If his boys are home all day it's much better. We've seen that before on their days off. Then again, those days they don't tend to come in and nearly die on their desks."
"I'd kill my boys if they got that backed up," Gibbs told him.
"It took a lot of work for us to get them to see that Xander needed more than a cuddle and a quick blow at bedtime," Adam said. "Neither one was thinking in terms of relationship. Once they did it got easier for them to deal with him but it's still nearly impossible some days." He smirked. "I have seen him worn out. He had this content look and he nearly collapsed at my feet from it. We'd love to be able to wear out Xander but he'd have to spend most of the day being pampered or in bed. Perhaps later if they retire to the farm."
One raised his hand from his reading, looking up. "How many of you are in Chicago?"
"As of the printing of this directory eight. I think one's moving to Milwaukee in a few months for work."
"What's the schedule for this weekend?" the young BAU person asked.
"Tonight's the greeting ceremony. Usually I give a short speech, we nibble and catch up with friends. We visit the shrine of those missing or gone. We have dinner, then some of us will be sneaking out to go shopping afterward. There's usually a run to a local ice cream place as well. Tomorrow we have the in-house shopping area, the cuddle room, and seminars on self-defense, money management, contract disputes for hired help around the house, and entertaining yourself while you're bored. Xander will be sitting in that one, even if I do have to handcuff him. Then lunch then a rerun of the earlier lectures for those who want to take them and missed them due to shopping or sleeping in. Then dinner."
"Xander's sneaking out for a local poker game someone set up for him," Edgerton said. Adam gave him a horrified look. "He said one of his contacts down there wanted to see how he got so lucky. So he's sneaking out for that and he said he hopes he won't run into anyone else."
"He shouldn't." He shook his head. "I'll try to stop that if possible. The usual deal tomorrow night is the movie rooms. Where cuddle up together, watch movies, make fun of the movies, get to know each other. The last day are the guarded outings this time, and the ending ceremony with those who need things getting what they still need." He smiled. "I do ask that you be subtle. Most of the members have been warned. We sent out a group-wide memo. Not everyone is happy about it." He looked at the young agent. "Remember, we are not a psychological paper. Should you try we'll be seeing you in the self-defense classes both times." He nodded quickly, pushing his glasses back up his nose. "Good. Any other questions?"
"Dancing?" Gibbs asked.
"During the self-defense lessons, Gibbs. Xander usually goes over it. If people want him to teach them he'll run a special lesson on Sunday. The same as Tony usually runs one for gun care if asked."
"Good." He leaned on the table. "How many are here this weekend? How many overall?"
"Overall we have approximately three thousand members worldwide. That does include ones that have been taken and are living overseas. They usually have their own meetings in Europe and Asia." That got a nod. "Here this weekend we have close to six hundred of us."
Don gave him a look. "We don't consider this dangerous? People don't come to scout?"
"We generally rent out the hotel so no one else gets in," he said calmly. "We notice outsiders and our security people are here to make sure of who they are. Conventions give us necessary social contact with others who understand and help us deal with things."
"Like ours do. We get to catch up with others in the same field, share stories, bitch about our bosses and coworkers, plus have some fun," Don said. Adam nodded. "Even then a lot of ours have had people who've shown up to take out a cop they hate."
"We've had conventions interrupted. We've had a few taken during them. With our people here it's usually faster getting them back. The last one in Miami was interrupted by some religious crank who kept preaching that we were sinful beings for being born this way. Then the assistant mayor who wanted us all to be his harem but went off when he saw a few touching each other. We handle those. That's why we warn the police before we get here. We expect there to be some police surveillance. We put up with it. That's why we don't advertise room 318 to everyone. Those who need it, hear about it. We all know the signs of someone who's too stressed, backlogged, or isn't getting it at home. This year it's up on the fifth floor. The cuddle room is one of the meeting rooms. There is no groping in the cuddle room if you go in there. There are monitors in each of those rooms." They all nodded. "Any other questions? If not, I've got a short speech to make in a few moments." They shook their heads. "Then have a good convention, gentlemen." He walked out, heading down there.
Xander bounced over to him, giving him a hug. "When I was holiday shopping in DC they wanted me to suggest we have one there." He bounced off again.
"Xander!" he snapped. He gave him a hurt look. "Come here and tell me about this poker game, young man."
"One of the guys in Miami is helping me get in touch with someone who knows about weapons."
Adam sighed. "It is dangerous, Xander. You were taken quite often up here."
"I know." He gave him a hug. "It'll be fine. I'm me, remember?" He bounced off, going to the pool. He found a young girl floating in there. "Hey."
"Hey." She looked at him. "Are you one of us?"
"Xander Harris, level ten out of Miami. I think you're our new level nine? Melissa?"
"I am." She swam over to shake his hand. "How did you know?"
He grinned. "Since we get into so much trouble, all level tens and nines' pictures and summaries are given to those members and keepers in law enforcement. They run into a lot of us."
"Can we opt out of that?"
He looked at her. "You been stopped by one of them yet?"
"There was a raid at a whorehouse," she admitted. "I wasn't picked up."
"That's why they give it over, Melissa." He grinned. "Would me doing laps bother you?"
"No. I'm trying to float and calm down. I'm nervous."
"I'm an old hand at conventions," he promised with a gentle smile. "I came out a few years back here in New York." She nodded at that. "What are you needing?"
"I guess maybe I'm looking for feeling surrounded."
He nodded. "There's a better way than water. C'mon." She got out and went to get dressed while he waited. Then he led her upstairs. "Cuddle pile is where?" he asked someone. She pointed. "Thanks." He led her that way. "There is no groping, no sleeping, nothing but cuddling in here," he told her as he opened the door. A few people were in there. "Hey, guys, this is Melissa. She's our new level nine. Can she flop down with you guys?" They pulled her down and surrounded her. She sighed in pleasure and went limp. He grinned, sitting next to them. "I spend a lot of time in here too. My boyfriends work all day. It kinda sucks and I spend a lot of time bored out of my mind." He got pulled in too so he cuddled. He smiled when he heard the snore, getting the room attendant to move her off to the side with someone else who was napping. "Thanks, guys," he said, getting up. "Tell her to come find me later," he told the room's attendant. He nodded so he bopped out to look at the early shopping. He ran into Greg. "Greggy!" He gave him a hug.
"In the cuddle pile already?" he teased.
"I met Melissa. She needed it."
"That's cool. I'm heading to the research council." Xander walked along with him. "Thanks for getting that stuff from Sonny."
"I didn't want the guys who take us to have it. Imagine how hard it'll be then?" He shuddered. "Anyway, he's scared." He grinned. "My legend is spreading even farther."
Greg snickered. "If you say so. Seen any of the other agents?"
"Saw one. Knew him from Miami." He opened the door and leaned in. "Guys, since I know some of you are on the selection committee, one of the jewelers I was shopping with in DC wanted his city suggested." He closed the door and went back to his looking. He smiled at one guy. "Not listening to Adam talk?"
"No, not this time. You're..."
"Xander." He shook his hand.
"Don Epps, out of LA."
"Ah, you saw my mess," he said, giving him a sheepish look. "Sorry."
"Don't be. They deserved it." Xander relaxed at that. "You're not heading out, right?"
"Not yet. I'll finish my holiday shopping later." He grinned at that. "I did some in DC." He walked him off to the shopping area. "Hi, guys," he cooed. Those who knew him smiled. He saw one and stared at him. "Have you changed the formula?" He went pale. "Stop him. That stuff's dangerous to us." He went to get someone while Don kept him and his gas there. He leaned into the greeting ceremony. "Um, Adam, not to interrupt but the gas guy is here. The one that got Don," he said at the confused look.
"Do be merry and celebrate the companionship and friendships of the society. I have to beat that person." That got some laughs and he walked out. He walked back inside. "For those who wanted to know what the agents you got the memo about know we can meet after dinner." He left again, going to eject that person with the agent's help.
Don gave Xander a look once he was gone. "What happened?"
"That gas is good. It creates a happy high that can open a GHS up to it. It can also raise levels. My boyfriend Don tested it to see if it was something I could use during surges. He went from a two to a five in one night. He was like a cat in heat."
"We're thankful you didn't get any," Adam said dryly. "Where is Melissa? I wanted to introduce her to some people and talk to her."
"Cuddle pile. She needed it and ended up napping. I found her in the pool."
"That's fine, Xander. Do not go play poker."
"I need the contact," he complained. "I'll be careful and go armed. Shit, Adam. Not like I'm not as good as you are." He gave him a look, getting a frown back. "Really."
"You will check in once you get back, young man. Am I clear?"
"Fine! Last time I knew you were dating Ray, not my cute ass." He walked off shaking his head. "He's like a very nosy big brother now and then," he complained.
"I'm one of those," Don told him.
"I don't have siblings. It's probably a better thing. So why are you guys wiretapping me?"
"It started six years ago with a tip."
"Oh. Probably the Mayor and how we were stopping him then." He shrugged. "Tell them I said to stop it. Before I have to get mean."
"The FBI doesn't really take orders..." Xander laid a hand on his forehead and muttered something, making him wince. "You can do that stuff?" he asked once he was released.
"A little bit. It comes in handy. Especially on road trips. That's how I got my baby dragon." He smirked at him. "Please."
"I'll see if we can do that." He rubbed his forehead. "Can you do that over the phones?"
"Yeah, I can make it so whoever's listening will have migraines for weeks each time they try," he said dryly. "Danny would complain but yay." He squealed and pounced someone to hug. "It's my favorite commando. One of the few I still like."
"Hi, Xander," Paul said, patting him on the back. He looked at him. "You look good. Happy?"
"Enough. Still bored. What's this I hear you're retiring?"
"My wife wants me to. We're planning on kids and she said if I want kids I have to."
"Pity." He shrugged. "You'll still be like the National Guard for Soshar, right?"
"Of course. No one else on the team can get into Jordan. We're all banned." He walked him back to the agent. "Hi, Paul Castovertes."
"Don Epps, FBI out of LA." He shook his hand. "You're the one who goes on rescues?" He nodded. "That's cool. Xander, can I talk to him? We'll talk later about the wiretapping stuff after I ask?" He grinned and bounced off. "Don't get into trouble."
"Why would I? I'm a good boy," he called as he bounced off like Tigger.
Paul winced. "Poker game?"
"Tomorrow night," he said.
"Charming." He looked. "Edgerton?"
"I got pulled in to help this guy when he needs it," he said, nodding his head at Don. He shook his hand. "I heard you had a cushy personal contract."
"Yeah, I get a lot of frequent flier miles too," he said dryly. "Soshar!" He came jogging over. "These are Agents Don Epps and Ian Edgerton. I came up with Edgerton. Epps is out of LA."
"Hey." He shook their hands. "Marigold's ex is trying to get in. Can I kick his ass this time with the flowers he's carrying?"
"Go for it," he agreed. "Leave some for the locals." He grinned. "Sorry, her ex tried to pimp her out." He walked them off. "So, how was the briefing?"
"Interesting. Think I could get Charlie tested, just in case?"
"He losing focus?"
"Then he's not. They're like little kids high on crack when they're not keeping it under control."
"Charlie says math is his pleasure and he's been getting lost a lot more often," Don said.
"Hmm. You know, I don't know. We can introduce you to one of the ones in LA. They can usually tell even the lowest level members." He walked him off to introduce him to someone. "Belinda. This is ...."
"The agent who bothers my yummy math teacher." She shook his hand. "Are you one of the ones who got briefed?"
"I am. I was wondering if something like Charlie's math funks could be related."
She considered it. "You know, that's something I don't know about. I have a test kit. I see him Tuesday."
"I can be there," he agreed. "Not that he doesn't know already. He apparently did some math for the group way back in college."
"Like Xander, your brother shows up in the oddest places," Ian said dryly, cracking Paul up. "Adam said that about Xander."
"He does. Oh, he so does. Speaking of I need to warn the boy that the rest of his mother's cult still wants him back as a living saint. Remind me?"
"Sure," Ian agreed. "Cult?" Don gave him an odd look too.
"His mother created one to her son because of what he was doing then kidnaped him to make him go back to him instead of the fluffy, confused, bouncy, violent one he is now. Cut his hair, had his former friends helping, all that stuff."
"Poor Xander," she said. "The poor guy never gets a break. He should move back to LA."
"No," Paul said. "Some of his former friends are still there. We want them *far* apart, Belinda. They fight."
"Never mind. So," she said, walking Don off. "How is my yummy math teacher and is he still single? I know he and the one new one, Amita, are going off but they don't seem *serious*. They seem like they're casual and settling."
"That's what I thought but he says he's stuck on her. If someone would change his mind Dad might mind but he'd be happier so he'd accept it soon enough. What do you think about Larry?"
"I think he's about as confused as I am when I don't get chocolate." She looked around. "Speaking of, I forgot my purse." She went to get it.
Paul looked over as the doors burst open and someone walked in with a gun, firing into the air. "Freeze! Everyone on the ground."
"You fucking moron," came a quiet voice from behind him. He turned and Xander hit him with something solid that he picked up off a table. He frowned when it dented. "Huh, not good." He dove in to beat the guy while the others either ran, ran to get help, or Tony tried to get to him to handcuff the guy. He ended up slamming the guy's head against the floor, making him pass out. "And stay out! Bastard!" He got helped up. He grinned at Don. "Hi. Hey, Paul, he has a badge," he called. "Might wanna make nice with the locals." He sighed and walked off, going to pay for what he had dented. It wasn't meant for that sort of use. She waved him off since it was a statue and still good in the new form. He smiled and went to get some ice cream and a soda.
Paul looked at the guy then at Tony. "Know anyone?"
"Don's precinct," he said.
"Internal Affairs, guys," Greg reminded him. He patted him down, finding his badge. "Never mind, he is IA." He walked off to add that to the call to the local precinct. He stopped one guy in a suit. "Higher up?" He nodded. He handed him the badge. "Messy. Sorry, man."
He looked then he snickered. "He's the bane of the department. Thank you."
"Welcome. Is he the guy that used to get on Messer's case? Because it was his boy Xander that beat him."
"We remember Xander," he said fondly, going to fix that. He walked in. "Inspector," he said, making Don's former precinct boss stare at him. "One of the others here took his badge from him." He held it up.
"I was hoping that was a relative of Hillbourne's," he sighed.
"Better yet, it was Flack and Messer's boy Xander who beat him, sir."
The Inspector growled and shook his head. "Ruined a good cop."
"Actually, Don helped bust that terrorist ring in Miami recently," Adam said from his corner of the room with an ice pack. He had run into something and was holding it pretend to be bruised. "With Xander's help. Some of his poker buddies." A few of the guys who had heard from Flack laughed. "I believe they gave Taylor the rest of that investigation."
"Were you here, sir?"
"You would be?" he asked.
"The National Head."
"Okay. He did what?" Adam pointed up at the holes. "Shot."
"Yelled Freeze. Xander called him a name, dented him with a statue, then beat him senseless. I do owe the boy an ice cream cone. I thought it'd be tomorrow before we had problems."
"Let's get him out of here, guys. He can be checked over at the station," the inspector ordered. They cuffed him and picked him up to carry off. He walked out. "Sorry about him, people. Won't happen again." He left, letting the hotel door close behind him. This was going to be a mess of paperwork. Well, there went his weekend.
Xander looked at the guy he was there to play poker with, smiling. "Hi, Xander Harris," he told his bodyguard, letting him pat him down. He got an odd look for the gun he was wearing. "I used to live in New York. Since I have to go back to the hotel after dark, I'm going to protect my ass. You can hold it out of reaching range if you want."
"You go armed to the games in Miami?"
Xander smirked a bit. "I know the people in Miami. They know me. We're not going to hurt each other. I have no idea who you are," Xander said honestly.
"Cautious. Cute hair, kid."
Xander grinned. "Thanks. A lot of people like my hair." He let the bodyguard look at his hairpins. "They're practical." He wound his hair up and pinned it up, giving him a look. "That way I don't play with it. I get yelled at when I do it in Miami by a few of the others in the poker circle. It distracts them."
"That's fine," the old man said, waving him over. He put the cards down for Xander to inspect, getting a nod. "You trust me?"
"If you cheat me I get to complain to them then put the wicked, evil portion of my mind to destroying you," he said with a cheerful grin. The old man laughed. "Just ask the General." The man quit laughing and stared at him. He smirked a bit. "That's why I don't have to worry about them. Now, which is your version?"
"I prefer Texas."
"I've only played that a few times in Vegas. Not my best game."
"You play stud?" Xander nodded. "We can do that."
"Sure." He got handed the cards. "I can deal." He shuffled under his watch then dealt easily. He put the stack down in the center of the table. "Chips?" A guy came over to change him out. He handed over three large bills, getting a nod from him and a stack of chips. He looked at his hand and grimaced. "I suck." The other guy laughed. "It happens." He considered it then his opponent. He was cool and had no tells he could see. He was definitely not getting that winning feeling from this hand. He'd let him have it though. He put in a small chip, getting an equal amount. "Cards?"
"Two." He put two down, getting two dealt to him. Xander changed three of his five. It was a bit better. "In for ten more," he said, tossing in chips. "You don't deal nicely."
"I know." He went up to the ten. He showed his. A pair, low. "I can barely beat that." He put his down, a pair one number higher. He got a laugh. "You deal since I suck." The old man dealt and it was a crappy hand but Xander knew what he was doing. "Nice." The man stared at him. He looked back. "Saw the shuffle move. Sonny taught it to me while we were waiting on the usual dealer at Fu's."
"You hang out with him?"
"No, he retired and joined the poker circle. We have a mutual non-aggression and he leaves my boyfriends alone pact or else I get to have fun with his life." He grinned sweetly. "Since I'm Danny Messer and Don's Flack's love slave....."
"Ah. You are him." Xander tipped his head. "Does Flack's father like you, kid?"
Xander shrugged. "Only met him once. He didn't seem to mind me. His mother minded because she wasn't getting anything but ferrets, dogs, and my baby dragon for grandkids from him at the moment." The bodyguard laughed. "They're my babies. I told her if Don wanted to adopt, more power to him." He switched his hand around. "I'll help him spoil the baby and teach the dogs not to pounce it."
"Interesting. You don't like kids?"
"Don't know. No experience with little kid except for being a guardian on Halloween one year and that was horrible."
"Ah. They're not bad and a man of your means could hire a nanny."
Xander looked at him. "Why? I sit home bored all day long." He shrugged. "I'd learn how to help with the childcare stuff. Don would get to sit home more with me." He put down two cards, getting two back. "You didn't do the wrist flip thingy to get the ace in the right spot?" he asked.
The old man gaped. "He did teach you."
"Yeah. He was bored. Said it'd at least be a manly skill. Goes well with the swords I can use." He upped his bet. Not a great hand but not a bad hand. If he had mis-shuffled like that he probably didn't have what he needed anyway. "Twenty-five." The guy checked his cards and gave himself three then bet. Xander looked at him. He called the higher bet and got a shrug, the older guy showing his hand. Xander showed his. They ended up tied really. Two pairs of royalty and a lower set. The old man snorted. "Leave it there for the next pot," Xander said.
"That'll work." He let Xander deal. "No cheating."
"Of course not. My boys would spank."
"Do they do that over your weapons?"
"Nope. Not since Horatio confiscating them got all our asses kidnaped." He grinned sweetly at him. "That's why I had them." He finished shuffling and dealt to the guy, then himself. He looked. Good hand. Still no tingling winning feeling. He sent a silent prayer at Strife and didn't feel it hit. Interesting. No wonder. He concentrated on his glass of ice water, swishing the ice around a bit. So his magic still worked. He took a drink. "Hmm. I need a better filter at home again. Got to remember to get one." He put it down. "Nice filter."
"Thank you. The one that goes on the faucet."
Xander nodded. "I have one and a pitcher but I keep forgetting new filters." He checked his cards, then smiled. He only took one and it did help. He put in fifty. The old man met and raised ten. He considered it then called. "Cards?"
"No, thank you, Xander." He put down his hand. Xander put down his. The old man gaped. "How did you do that?"
"I'm lucky. That's why I'm so evil on baccarat too." He grinned. "Your deal." He restacked his chips in money order.
"How did you do that?"
Xander shrugged. "It comes to me. Always has since I got taught by Ryan during a trip to Las Vegas for a GHS convention. Even the dealer and her pit boss couldn't figure out how I did it and neither can I. They do laugh at me being evil on baccarat though."
"Do you deal in Miami?"
"Hardly ever. The circle has dealers, usually someone's bodyguard or someone at the location we're playing at. Sometimes it's someone who's there to talk to someone else but most of the time we've all agreed on dealers."
"I don't believe you. Do it again."
Xander shuffled, letting him see everything. He dealt. He looked at his cards, then shrugged. "Not bad. Need any?" He discarded and dealt himself two. "Cards?"
"One," he said. Xander dealt to him once he had discarded. He gave him a slow smile. "It's in the shuffle."
"It is? Huh. This is my usual luck even when I'm not dealing." He shrugged. "I hardly ever get to deal unless I'm playing for kisses at home. Fifty," he said, tossing in chips.
"Three hundred," he countered.
Xander looked at his hand, then at him. He saw the look in his eyes and called. "Sure, I'm only playing with gas money."
"That's a lot of gas," the bodyguard said.
"My SUV takes it," Xander said with a grin. "I drive a stretch Range Rover." The guard gave him a look. "Or my corvette at home but I wasn't going to drive it from Miami. It might get hurt. It's another Flack grandbaby. Though he has a bike for his Mom's amusement."
"I'm upping mine two hundred more," he said, tossing that in.
Xander stared at his hand, then shrugged. "I'll meet that and add another eighty." He tossed that in. The old man stared at his cards then shook his head. "You sure? Last chance before I take it."
"Show them. I think you're bluffing." Xander tipped his hand over to show him, getting a growl. "How did you do that?"
"I'm lucky." He shrugged. "You deal." He pulled the chips closer then restacked them. He finished his water. "Can I have some more please?" he asked politely. The guard got it for him.
"Why are there agents from all over the US and three agencies at the same hotel?" the bodyguard asked.
"The FBI wanted agents in certain offices to understand the threat that GHS live with daily. That way they can handle some of the kidnaping stuff. Or even some of the present stuff. One of my last ones was a warhead and a few bombs mid-construction. One of the others there this weekend got given weapons by a terrorist too. So they want to make sure we don't have to deal with such dirty people. Though they did agree with Horatio. I'm allowed to have weapons as long as he has oversight, they're safely stored away from everyone, especially my poker buddies, and I keep a good count of them. That way no one else decides to take most of the family as potential slaves like they did in LA."
"I saw that mess," the bodyguard said.
Xander nodded. "I had to get myself free then others. My temper was a bit high," he admitted. "Pity but I'm told I only got the slavers. Thankfully. I would've kicked myself if I had hit someone innocent."
"How did you do that?" the old man asked, leaning back, sipping his own water.
Xander shrugged. "My temper is the black-out sort after a certain level. I wake up and there's a mess. I do know that it wasn't a single losing of my temper. I lost it three different times while I was there. But hey, I got free and me getting free got others free so they could finish helping me make the mess. They *really* shouldn't have tried."
That got a nod. "What sort of weapons do you like, young man?"
"I like launchable ones. Single user, non vehicle mounted. I used to have some bazookas and Horatio laughed at them. So did Calleigh, his ballistics person. I've got a fair hand at explosives." He shrugged. "Not like I'm going to use them unless we're invaded by aliens, Cuba, or more people who want to kidnap my cute ass." He grinned. "You? Since I was told you collected as well."
"I like guns."
"Guns are nice. Horatio left my gun collection alone. I've got a pretty good exemplar selection." The old man stared at him. "Handguns and machine guns. Though I prefer the AK for assault rifles. It's more useful. I have three cases somewhere in the warehouse. For handguns, I like the heavier ones instead of the lighter, easier concealed one. I can hide anything I need to but those feel better with my wrist. We go to the range every month to make sure my boys can handle them too. Don's slowly taking my exemplar now that he knows about it. Just in case."
"Aliens?" the bodyguard asked.
He grinned. "I'm from a small town near LA called Sunnydale. With everything I've seen, I'm going to leave the question of aliens open until I see proof. Probably when they come down to go shopping." The bodyguard laughed so he looked at the old man again, sipping his water. He grimaced. "Sleeping potion. Sweet. Thanks." He put it aside at the gapes. He smiled. "I've been taken more than a few times. People want the hair." He stood up. "I should go back to the hotel. My friends will be worried soon."
"I don't think so," he said, pulling a gun. "There's no way you're for real."
Xander looked at his gun then at him. "You don't want to do that." He laughed and cocked it. Xander glanced at his gun and it came floating over, making him stand up and back away. Xander checked it then smiled at the bodyguard. "Would you please cash me out?"
"Sure, Mr. Harris." He did that. "Have a good night, sir."
"Thanks. It's been an interesting evening playing with you. I'll tell Dave and Carlos you said hello." He strolled out. Someone tried to stop him so he broke a few bones then continued walking out. He smiled at the man outside the gates. "Morning." He could feel the quickening. "Not interested."
He grinned. "Xander Harris."
"Inspector General Kremps." He shook his hand. "Poker game?"
"Well, yeah. I play for gas money." He grinned. "It gives me something to do in Miami."
"I'm allowed because otherwise people take my cute ass."
"I see. Where are you from, sir?"
"Sunnydale. Though right now I'm supposed to be at the GHS convention."
He just nodded at that. "You know Don Flack?"
"I'm living with and madly in love with Junior."
"Ah. You're *him*."
"Yup." He nodded with a goofy grin. "One of the others in the lab down there taught me how to play poker. I usually only play for gas money and tax payments. That stuff."
"Uh-huh. You do know he was a mobster and is suspected of selling arms?"
"I think that's why my poker buddy set us up for a game. So I could reup my collection. That way I'm not stolen again." He looked at the car pulling up. "Hi, guys. I'm fine." He looked at him. "Don's not in this weekend but I can pass back a letter if you want. I'll be leaving Monday morning."
"I can do that." He stared at him. "You should go with your minders, boy. Before the Feds get there."
Xander leaned closer. "What makes you think they weren't already in there?" The guy groaned. He smirked. "I saw a bug. Yours?"
"Probably not. You should go."
"Fine, I'll go." He walked over to the two agents, grinning. "Can we stop for ice cream since it wasn't a really satisfying game?"
"We can play at the hotel," Don told him.
"Okay." He grinned. "Pennies, or do you need to stop and get matchsticks?"
"Matchsticks," he said, getting in. Xander got into the back. "We have him under surveillance."
"I noticed the bug and the bodyguard was a Fed. He stood *way* too straight and was *way* too polite for a usual bodyguard." He grinned at the horrified looks both agents gave him. "What?"
"How do you know these things?" the one from Miami, who was driving, asked as they drove off.
"I've met a lot of you over the years. Then again that agent was one of the ones that busted into NCIS when the director tried to sell my cute ass."
Don groaned. "The Inspector?"
"I don't know him but I know of him. Don said something about him. Was he running surveillance?"
"We're not fully sure why he was there," Don admitted. "So you're good?"
"I'm very good but I'm not allowed on electronic games because somehow I know when slots are going to hit. They kinda scream at me when they want to hit. But I'm evil on baccarat and poker," he said happily.
"How did you learn baccarat?" Don asked.
"James Bond marathon," Xander said with a grin.
Don groaned, shaking his head. "I'm taking tape of you playing to see if Charlie can figure it out."
Xander leaned forward to hug him around the neck. "It's magic and that's all it is. Not intentional, but it's a gift and I'm not looking for the whys. It's fun and I miss fun." He let him go and leaned back again. "So can we get ice cream?"
"Sure," Don agreed. He pointed. "There?"
"Sure. I'll even treat." He walked in and looked at his wallet, then bought them ice cream cones. He handed Don the money he had gotten changed out. "For some reason it doesn't look right."
Don held one up to the light while licking his ice cream cone, nodding. "That's because it's counterfeit. Good call, kid."
"Welcome." He got into the back again and they went back to the hotel. He found Adam looking unhappy so he gave him a hug and held up his cone. "Want a lick?"
"You'd give me dirty thoughts Raymond would not like," he said, taking it to take a lick anyway. "How was it?"
"He was going to shoot me because I won. He gave me counterfeit money on the way out the door. Pity. Looks like I get to have fun. Oh, Inspector General Kremps was there?"
"Stay away from him, Xander. He's not exactly good at all times."
"I figured that much out." He kissed him on the cheek. "Did I miss anything?"
"Gregory going insane." Xander smirked. "What did you do?"
"I left him a prezzie." He beamed and bounced off. "I'm in the Sultan's suite if you guys still wanted to play poker," he called as he bounced off.
Edgerton came out of the shadows. "You gave him more sugar?"
He handed him the counterfeit bill. "He helped us bust a drug and arms dealer. That's what they cashed him out with."
"Ah." He looked at it. "That's really horrible."
"He's got an undercover person in there too," Don said happily. "Get me some matchsticks while I call in a report?"
"Sure. Ask the local guy to do it for you." He went to get them both some. It'd take them both to calm Xander down with the size of that ice cream cone.
Adam smiled. "Yes, sometimes keepers do feel like fond babysitters," he said dryly.
"I feel that way about my brother too." He walked off eating his ice cream cone, going to talk to the guy from the local office. "The guy Harris was playing poker with paid him in phoney bills and nearly shot him."
"He's got an undercover guy, Xander said he saw a bug in there, and we ran into an Inspector General on the way out."
"Hmm." Don handed over the money. He looked at them. "Those are really bad." He smirked. "Who?" He handed over the information sheet he had printed out when Adam gave him the guy's name. "Aww, my boss wants him. Which Inspector?"
"We've had doubts about him." He snickered. "Thanks, Epps."
"Welcome. We're going to play poker with Harris."
"Have fun. He's a shark."
"Yeah, the guy tried to shoot him because Xander won." He walked off, going to play with him. He found Sanders bouncing around hugging him. "Happy?" he asked dryly.
"Very! Xander got me a present that feels great! Tony's going to die!" He bounced off. "I'll try to make sure it's not literal."
"What did you give him?" he asked.
"Chocolate flavored lube and a few new things I'm learning how to work with. I'm learning how to make leather stuff.
"No, like padded handcuffs and a silk lined thong I gave to Speedle that matched his bike, and...." Don held up a hand, shaking his head. "Greg got some new toys and some other stuff. Tony might make it to his lectures tomorrow." He grinned. "They need to be happy and bouncy too."
"I can tell." He let the other agents in. "We invited Ian."
"That's fine. He wasn't too grumpy on the way up." He found his deck of cards, opening it to do a quick count. "Hmm." Ian tossed over a new one. "Thanks." He found the jokers then shuffled for a few minutes to loosen the cards. "Okay." He got his pile of matchsticks and anted in then dealt. The others settled around the bed. Xander pulled down his hair then undid the braid, running his hands through it while they figured out bets and cards. "Who needs a card?"
Tony flopped down at Gibbs' table the next morning, thumping his head down. "Save me?" he muttered. "Please, boss?"
"What did Harris give him?"
Tony lifted his head to look at him. "Chocolate flavored stimulant lube and a new set of padded handcuffs he had made himself. A new leather, stuffed toy." He put his head back down with a thump. "I'm exhausted and Greg still hasn't slept yet."
"I'll knock him out."
"Fine," he agreed. He nearly patted him on the back. "Go nap."
"I can't. He's lurking to pounce me because I escaped while he was in the shower."
"I'll guard your six to bed."
Tony hugged him. "I love you."
"Get off," he said, giving him a nudge. Tony grinned and followed him up to the room they had. Gibbs caught Sanders mid-pounce, having to put down his coffee. "Oh, no. Let him sleep before we both lose him to death." He turned him around and gave him a nudge. "Go eat. No coffee." Greg pouted but went to eat breakfast. Tony hugged him again. "Nap, DiNozzo. You clearly need it." Tony nodded, going to nap. Gibbs grabbed his coffee and walked off shaking his head. He found Adam. "Tony asked me to teach self-defense since he's passed out." Adam gave him an amused look. "Chocolate flavored stimulant lube."
"Xander handed my Ray some of that. I think I might have died a few times." He walked off shaking his head. "Room B at ten, Gibbs."
"Sure." He went to find Xander. "I'm taking Tony's lecture spot." Xander beamed. "He'd thank you but he's tired."
"He'll thank me tomorrow." He gave him a hug. "Remember, we're not always a punctual bunch." He went back to shopping while Gibbs went back to the buffet. He squealed and pounced Greg, getting one back. "Did it work?"
"Oh, it worked *so* well," he said happily, walking him off to talk to him.
Xander looked at the self defense class. "Hold on. Melissa!" he yelled. She came walking in. "You need to be here. The same as I did, dear." She pouted. "Tough. You have to be able to get away from the people who want to take us. For upper levels it's much more important than lower ones." She nodded, sitting down. "Now, who's seen Tony's and mine demos before?" Half of them raised a hand. "Good. Then you guys work with Gibbs while I work with those who haven't."
"I took six months of martial arts," Melissa said.
Xander smiled, nodding her up. "Okay, I'm going to show you why it's necessary." She nodded, readying herself. He turned her around. "Almost no one gets you from the front, dear." He waited, giving her ten seconds of waiting time, then he attacked, tapping her on the arm then gently lowering her to the ground no matter how much she struggled. He looked down at her. "Most of the time they're going to drug you. You have to be able to get out of that hold and all the other grabs. If you can still do martial arts, go for it." She pouted. He pulled her up. "One of you guys grab me once she's out of the way." He looked at her. "Watch." One of them suddenly pounced and he ducked, knocking them down then got the other one coming up to help him. Then the third when he walked closer with a pen held like a needle. He straightened up and nodded at her. She whimpered. "You're young. It took me time to learn it too. Now you can learn and some year you'll be teaching this for Tony and me." She nodded. "Good. Guys, want help up?"
Gibbs pushed himself up. "How did you move that way?"
"The dance," a lot of people said.
"Dance?" Melissa asked. "Like school?"
"No, I found a self defense style that starts as a dance and moved to physical and sword work. I teach it to any GHS who wants to learn it."
"Wow. Is it hard?"
"No!" he said, grinning at her. "Only GHS seem to be able to do it. I've got a whole set of DVD's to teach with. I can mail you a set." She beamed and nodded. "Okay, let's get back to work, guys." He pulled Melissa over. "The most common attack," he told the room. "Is from behind. Usually you're going to be stuck with something. Usually a sedative. If you can't get out of it there, they've got to redrug you at least once and when you wake up you *can* get out. Waiting on Paul is nice but there's been times it's been weeks before we could find each other." A few nodded at that. "Plus sometimes they won't be able to find you. That's why you're your first line of defense. If they come in, what do we do?"
"Kick their ass," Greg said from the back.
"That's right. They tried to steal your ass, you kick theirs in return. You make them beg to send you back and pay your ass because they were that stupid. If you can get to a weapon, do it. Bash their fucking heads in if you have to. Most of these people are rich enough to have guards. Bash the guards in or bash the head guy's head in then tell the guards to take you home. Be the princesses we *all* are, people." He smiled. "Want to keep being a demonstration model?" She shook her head and sat down. "Okay. For a frontal assault, meaning you're awake and they're walking into whatever room you're stuffed in, you can hit them anywhere you can reach. Even if you're tied down!" He pulled Greg up, walking him up there. "Come at me. I won't hurt you. Greg and I practiced a lot when he was in Miami with us." Greg walked in slowly and carefully. Xander slowly hit at his pain centers. "These areas will create a hell of a lot of pain. Even if you're tied to the walls there's a good chance you're going to have your feet free. Kick. Bite. Head butt." He got a few nods. "This is life-saving for us, guys."
"If you're free, there's better ways to get them down," Gibbs said, pulling Sanders over. "These three areas," he said, pointing at the throat, lower stomach and groin, "create a lot of pain. Bending over in pain sort of pain. Hitting in the jaw is nice. If you're strong enough to hurt him it's great. Anyone, even a child, can hit someone in the adam's apple and choke them. Or get them in the balls and they go down. Male or female. Women hurt there too and there's been women who've stolen people." They nodded at that. "There's a few other practical moves as well." He put Greg into a choke hold. "A common grab from behind technique. Like I taught you, Sanders." Greg kicked back then lunged forward with a twist to the hand side of his arm. "Good! Let's go over that slower." He did it again and Greg did it slower. "It won't always work if the person outmasses you or they're using both hands to do the chokehold." He showed that variation. "This one you're lucky to get out of." Greg elbowed him and kicked back at him, getting free. "Basically like that. If they're trained they can knock you out in forty- five seconds. That's without drugs. They can drug you while you're out."
Xander nodded. "And have. They got Tony out of the country that way. They drugged his delivery food when he tried a new place." Gibbs gave him a look. "In Baltimore. That's why he always orders from a new place when he's at the office first. Not to make you guys paranoid but there's a good standard of us being taken and used. To the people who want us, we're pets. We're kitties and puppies for them to own, pet, and then put down when we're no longer fun to play with. We don't want to lose you guys or visit your name on the shrine at a convention some year because no one has a clue where you are. There's some simple precautions. If you're order from a new place, do it at a time or place where you can be around people. So if you pass out, someone's there. At work, share an order with a neighbor. Something like that. If you're shopping or out alone, be aware of where you are. Be aware of people behind you especially.
"It's not unheard of to knock one of us out then tell the other shoppers 'he passed out, let me get him to the car so I can take him home, can you help me lift him'. Don had that done to him twice now and others of us were there. He's an officer and he had it done to him. They don't care what you do or what you know or who you know. If you feel someone come up behind you, put your back against a wall so they can't grab you that way. Wear a jacket that's damn hard to get a needle through. I have a leather jacket I wear sometimes when I'm shopping. You can't get a needle through it and Don would screw them up if they did since it's his jacket." That got a few grins. "Simple precautions. Be aware. If you're out jogging, go with a buddy. Those of us in two-GHS relationships go together but still be aware if they figure out you both are they'll still get you both."
"They got Sanders and DiNozzo while they were out jogging one day," Gibbs agreed. "They decided two was better than one and got the agent who was jogging with them. They've gotten us all together on a case in the past. The normal cops saved us that day. That's another good point. If you're in a place where you can feel comfortable with the local cops, talk to them! If you're taken they're going to hear first."
"Most of them know anyway according to my cops," Xander told them. "At least rumors of the group in Vice because they find us doing things like having sex in chocolate shops." A few giggles and blushes at that. "Or they find us when we're backlogged and the only way we have is the whorehouse and wearing out a few pros. I was so backlogged, I was broadcasting while I was being worn out and got four Vice officers while I was in New York. They knew about us, they understood and once they found out I was they left us alone. The next day the boss came to find out how to weed it out of his guys. They're not mad at us most of the time for being us. We can't help it. So if you know someone in your local department and you trust them, let them know. Get them onto the FAQ page on the website. You don't have to out yourself but say 'I have a former college friend who just joined this group, apparently it's a bad hormone condition she just found out she had'. Then show them. If they know, they'll look and ask you what level you are. If not, they'll know something's going on in case something happens to you."
"That's why we added agents into the group's knowledge base," Gibbs told them. "So you guys are a bit covered in some of the major areas you congregate. We have agents who now know in Miami, LA, New York, Dallas, Chicago, Las Vegas, and a few of us in DC. Sanders, myself, and DiNozzo are all at NCIS."
"My former lab in Las Vegas knows because I was outed," Greg said. "If you're getting away from someone and are there, have the officer call them. If they complain tell them you're a GHS and trying to get away. They'll come help, get you medical attention, and help you do whatever you need to for filing charges and getting home. Gris promised me he would and allll the nightshift knows. If you're on days, Ecklie knew but he's not great. Tell the officer, they might know too. Especially after the last convention." Xander grinned and waved. "Yes, your fault for the spontaneous orgy during the greeting celebration. We know that there's people who know in every major city in the US and most of Europe. Most of the Middle East too. Though they tend to stay out of it. If you're being attacked, use whatever you can to get free. Scream, kick, bite, whatever."
Melissa raised her hand. "Was that why I was warned to get a good security system?"
Xander nodded. "You're a level nine, Melissa. Yeah. There's been level sevens and up stolen from their houses." She slumped. "Another good thing you can do to protect yourself is keep yourself out of backlogging. The less you're giving off the less they want you. They think you're a lower level or can't tell you are. That's saved even my ass a few times and we all know I live on the edge of backlog all the time." Melissa gaped. "Long story. Don't worry about it."
"Xander's got the highest count in generations," Adam said from his seat. "Nearly ever. We have one that floated up to the same level."
"The last time you took mine I was out of backlog."
"I know. That's the scary part for you." He stood up. "We hold these lessons so you can learn what to do when they do come, because they even come for level ones. We each have our methods."
"I may be a hell of a fighter, but even I've had to be rescued," Xander admitted. They all nodded. "Now, let's work on some of the most common hand-to-hand moves so you guys can get a feel for them. If you want, we can run a more extensive lesson tomorrow or later." They nodded, coming to the agents and Adam to get help with that. He hugged Melissa. "You don't have to become a hermit. If you're careful you can go out. I do. Make your keeper or protector go out with you. Hell, I hired an off duty cop to go around with me."
"I don't have that sort of money," she said with a grimace. He smiled and stroked her cheek. "I don't..."
"Shut up, Melissa. I've got plenty and there's no way you're somewhere safe if you can't afford it." She nodded. "If you get a really good kidnaping reparation, you'll pay me back." She nodded. He wrote down a number. "This is the guy I used to hire to go around with me. He's a great guy. A bit grumpy now and then. If he can't do it, ask him to recommend someone. Okay?" She nodded. "Also, I met Don because I picked him as my protector and gave him free room and board to live with me. It wasn't sexual at first. It doesn't have to be. He can be like a bodyguard or a roomie. The more people around you who know and understand, who can help you protect you, the better in the level nines and tens. Otherwise we become hermits. And then we get bored and our hormones go up," he finished with a small grin. She nodded. "Okay?" She nodded again. "Good girl. Now, let's go over that move again." He lunged and she blocked him. "Good." He did it again and she did something else. He helped her learn that. "There's a few good dojos in town too. If you're not at backlog or near it you could take more lessons. It's good and it keeps you in good shape." She smiled and nodded. "Definitely lean on the regional group. There's a lot of us and some of us are higher levels too. I loved the city-wide meetings." He put her down and she struggled, making him smile. Then she kicked him on the shoulder. "Good! Because that hurt!" He laughed and let her up. "Get with Twilla tonight."
"I will." She gave him a hug. "I need to go to the money management one, huh?"
"Yup." He looked at his watch. "Guys, we're still running the second lecture this afternoon but the money management guy is in ten minutes," he called. "He's not one of us so he's impatient." They laughed and went to do that while he walked Melissa up to his room and got her something. He pulled out one of his bags of poker money, taking it into the bathroom while she waited outside. He considered it then nodded, taking it out to hand to her. "Yours. Make sure I didn't leave anything in it." She gaped. "What? I made it playing poker, Melissa. It's gas money." He shrugged and gave her a hug. "Hey, Ian..." He picked it up and helped carry it. "You know, you could make a really good shopping buddy."
"Don't even think about it," he teased back. He helped her to her room, then walked her down to the lecture series once she had it hidden with her things.
"He really won that at poker?"
"He plays high stakes poker in Miami for fun," he admitted. "He's good. Very good. Of course he plays with thugs so his family is very stressed out."
"It means they can't use it in their nefarious or drug plans," Xander quipped as he walked past them. He grinned. "STEVE!" He pounced him to hug. "Hi!"
"Hi, Xander." He sat him down. "Yes, you have to take this one as well." Xander nodded, settling in so he could nap when Steve went into the funny money language again. "Hi, guys. I'm Steve Ellison. I'm a financial consultant for Xander and a few others in the Miami family. I have an MBA from Harvard and have done different things in the business community. I do not take the place of an investment councilor for him, I'm the one who balances his checkbook for him. If you need one I do work with a few that I trust. I have no problem handing out their names." They all nodded and Xander nodded more quickly. "Speaking of, I know your cards are working, Xander."
"Cool. I can finish holiday shopping." A few of them laughed. "Field trip!" he called. "Tomorrow afternoon!" He grinned at Steve. "Want a new briefcase?"
"No. I'm still using last year's. You'll find something." He smiled. "How many of you need baseline investment help? The IRA, money market fund, that level?" A few hands raised. "Okay then let's start there." He got into a file on his computer, putting it on the screen behind him. "This is a list of the various types of minor investments. You put a few thousand and up into them. You can start some of them with as little as two-hundred-fifty dollars."
"And they help on taxes," Xander said happily.
"They do help you pay less taxes for those with the dot in that box." Steve smiled. "Some of you are lucky enough to not care as long as your ATM card works. Not all of you are that lucky however." He pointed. "This is an IRA, there's two types. If you need more in- depth consults, I can do that tomorrow. We're doing an overview today." They nodded at that. He smiled at his crowd and kept going over what they could do, the benefits and drawbacks of it. Even some of the agents were taking notes.
Ian caught Xander, picking him up and turning him around then letting him go. "No. Not tonight. There's a major protest two blocks up and you can't go. Your boyfriends called Gibbs and said to keep you out of it."
"No, Xander. You could get hurt. Don said he wanted you to stay in tonight." He gave him a look. "Go make present lists. That way you know what you're getting people. Or at least how many people you have to buy for."
"About half the world," he admitted. "Please? I was going to go shopping with a hired car."
"No," Don said from behind him. "We busted three of them earlier for trying to take people. Besides, Steve is looking for you." Xander pouted, going to find him. "Protest?"
"At the consulate up the street."
"Ah." He nodded. "How did Flack get our numbers?"
"He's a cop, he probably looked them up in the system. He probably had Gibbs' number." He saw Steve and waved. "Xander headed back toward the dining area."
"Thanks. The protest?"
"They're trying to contain it."
"Even better. Xander gets into some of the damdest trouble and places." He went to find him and talk to him. "Ah-ha! There you are." Xander grinned, waving him over where he was talking to Melissa. "Hi, Steve Ellison."
"Melissa is our new local level nine, Steve."
"Welcome to the group, Melissa." He dug into his cards. "If you ever need him, talk to him. He does baseline money watching for people all the way through investments for trust funds." She nodded, tucking that into her purse. He pulled Xander up. "We have to talk to him about his money. He forgot to pay the cable bill again."
"Don's supposed to."
"Uh-huh." He walked him off, letting him wave at her. She giggled. "It's the backlog," he called back. He got Xander into the elevator. "Poker again, Xander?"
"I'm bored," he complained. "Besides, I had to teach Ray one practical life skill."
Steve shook his head. "Does Horatio know?"
"Yeah. He's not happy but then again they found some of my poker buddies on some watch lists."
"Interesting." He walked him off to his suite, letting him walk in first. Then Steve used his stungun on the person in there. Once he was down he called down to the lobby. "Can you please send security up to the Sultan's suite? I had to stungun someone. Steve Ellison for Mr. Harris. Thank you." He hung up and sat Xander down, looking around until he found all the hidden poker money, whimpering. "Did you get into another game? I heard you left Miami with one bag!"
"Well, yeah. I ran into an old acquaintance in DC. It kept him from taking me," he said with a grin. "That's why I let Ian drive after Pennsylvania."
Steve sighed, letting in Gibbs when he knocked. He pointed. "Did you know Xander played poker in your city too?"
"Yeah, it kept the sheik's son from taking him again." He looked at the bags. "Charitable donations?"
"No. Mine. Gas money and present money."
"Epps was joking about needing an SUV like yours," he teased with a smirk.
"I'll see." Gibbs laughed, helping carry the guys out to be arrested. He shook his head. "He's good for Tony and Greggy." He crossed his legs and looked at him. "I haven't put it into the bank yet."
"I know that, Xander. Did you claim it on your taxes?"
"The IRS guy said I had to. Said it was taxable non-earned income."
"What did you put down as occupation?"
"No wonder we're getting an audit!"
Xander grinned. "The guy who helped me fill it out did that. He said he couldn't put on professional illegal poker player or shopper." He shrugged. "He signed it."
"I'll have the audit teams call him up," he said, settling in to count the money. "Well, I can diversify again," he said dryly.
"Presents," he said weakly.
"Fine. Presents. Try to save at least ten percent." Xander beamed and nodded. "What is Horatio getting?"
"A gift for the lab. Ryan too." Steve smiled at that. "That way they can have happy couples and can pick out useful stuff. Plus a gift card for themselves." That got a nod. "Anyway, I tried really hard to be a good boy."
"Try harder, Xander." He patted him on the head. "What sort of checks did you want this time?" Xander shrugged. "Cartoon or not?"
"I don't care. Let Don pick. It's his turn. I picked last time and Danny got the one before then."
"I'll do that." He stroked over his hair. "Were you safe?"
"I even went armed," he said proudly. Steve shook his head at that. "I was good."
"Fine. The weapons thing?"
"It's going. I'm not finding much that I like a whole lot. We'll see. I submitted my first story to one of the porn companies."
"I heard. Maybe someday you'll work your way up to writing other stuff." Xander grinned. "Don wanted to talk about the island?"
"What am I doing with it?"
"What do you want to do with it?"
"It was either keep it or see if Jace wanted it for the resort."
"I'll ask her, see if she wants to." Xander grinned. "You'd still keep the main house. The guest house has good suites for holiday travel from what I've seen and heard. Blessing it would be easy enough." He stroked over his hair again. "Then what?"
"Then... Well, it's Miami. Who knows."
"Good point." He smiled. "Where were you sneaking out to?"
"Um.... I wanted pizza."
"We can do that." Xander grabbed some money and they headed out togther once the bags were put back. They ran into Don. "Going for pizza with him."
"You want a guard?"
"No, we should be fine," he promised. Don nodded at that. They walked out together and Steve flinched at the feeling of quickening. "Damn it."
"There's so many of us here it's not funny," he reminded him, walking him off. "It'll be fine. If they want us that much they'll try to pounce. If it's the one from last night he'll really try to pounce." He shrugged and looked at him. "You're still the family's student." Steve smiled at that. They walked past an alley and someone grabbed Xander, pulling him inside. "Whoa! Don't touch." He looked at him. "What do you want, Kremps?"
"Your head. What else would I want? No man should have hair like that."
"My boys like it. Leave Steve alone. He's still a student."
"The game doesn't work like that."
Xander pulled one of his pins out and undid the shrinking spell, waving him on. "Teacher's right." The man sneered and lunged but Xander beat him back further into the alley. "Steve, stay." He kept going, playing with the guy while he wore himself out. Xander did one of his fancier dance moves, end up behind the guy then kicking him with a foot to the lower back. "Hmm. Not very good, Kremps. Your teachers must be pissed." He growled and lunged again.
"What the hell is going on!" Don yelled.
"Shut up! You're taking my concentration!" Xander yelled back. He still took his head. He waved them off. "Back!" They backed up when the energy started to gather around him. He let it hit him and calmed himself. Letting it sink in. Letting it flow through him. He sighed as it stopped, looking at them. "Okay then." He walked over and looked at Steve. "Don't you dare tell them."
"Let me call." He called Adam. "It's Steve. Kremps just challenged Xander. Usual result." He hung up. "You good?"
"Hyper. Damn I hate taking heads."
Don tapped him on the shoulder. "What. Was. That?" he snarled.
"That was a different group that some of us belong to," Xander said honestly. "I'm an immortal. So was he. That's the only way we die. He challenged me. If I had been sucky tonight he would've taken mine." Don stared.
Ian coughed. "You're like that Vachones guy?"
Xander shrugged. "Never met most of us. Now and then we run into each other and one feels violent. I don't usually have to because I'm a berserker." Gibbs walked in with Adam. "Couldn't shake him?"
Gibbs looked then at him. "We've seen a few of those in DC."
"Who's been there?"
"Connor," Adam said dryly. He shook his head. "He's still drawing others."
"Well, that one tried last night but we were in public. This time he pulled me into the alley. Pity he challenged me. Pizza, Steve?"
"How can you do that?" Don asked.
Xander looked at him. "It's a brutal thing but it was him or me. I'll mourn over him later. Right now, I want to get out of this alley before we draw his people's attention. I *really* don't want to explain this in an interrogation room." They nodded, taking them to the hotel to talk about it while Adam got the mess cleaned up. Gibbs stayed with him. Xander looked at them once they were settled again. "Immies have been around long before written history. One of our oldest is five thousand and some."
"So you've done this for generations?" Don asked.
Xander nodded. "Way back when someone started this prize thingy within the game. The last one apparently gets some skills or something. Don't know what. Don't care what. Not what I deal with. I've got plenty of gifts. Some people think it makes them a regular person again. I don't know."
"No one does," Steve admitted. "There's about eight hundred immortals around the world. The only way to not fight is to be on holy ground when you're challenged."
"Are you?" Ian asked.
"I'm not that old but yes. We die a first death then change over."
Xander did something at the door and it blocked it. "Eavesdropper, just in case." Don went to check, walking Melissa off telling her it wasn't a GHS thing, it was a Miami issue. She relaxed again and nodded. He came back. "He challenged me. It was him or me, guys. I wasn't about to die for him to gather what I am. Or let him take Steve, which is what he wanted to do." Steve shuddered. Gibbs and Adam walked in. "We good?"
"We're fine." He gave Xander a hug. "Did he score?"
"Not once." He looked at them. "The self-defense style I have is unlike anything the others have ever seen. It helps me stay in shape and defend myself against normal and irregular threats. There's plenty of us who don't give a damn. There's also hunters who go out hunting our heads. There's ones who only hunt the bad guys and there's ones who hunt anything that moves with a quickening."
"Quickening?" Ian asked.
"The light show," Steve told him. "He's not fully lost, his quickening got sucked up by Xander." Xander nodded. "Usually it makes us horny and jumpy. Xander somehow channels it into the ground or something."
"I ground myself like I do when I'm doing magic," Xander admitted.
"So all this has been going on forever?" Gibbs asked.
"There's people who cover it up," Adam told him. "They're the ones who came to get the body." He looked at Xander. "You're sure you're all right?"
"I'm fine. It's been eight months since I had to take one, Adam. Really."
"Fine." He looked at them. "We're everywhere and there's no way to tell us apart from others unless you catch us healing."
"You heal?" Gibbs asked. Xander nodded. "That faster healing that Wolfe said," he said, catching on. Xander nodded. "That's why we have the one-to-ten ratio?"
"It's just about that with me. Some heal faster, some heal slower," Xander admitted.
"If he heals too much he has this nasty little brain tumor that grows, makes him backlog in bad ways, and makes him want to do stupid things," Adam said.
"Alexx checked. It's miniscule according to her. I'm bored." He stood up. "We were going to go for pizza. You guys want some?"
"How can you eat?" Don asked.
Xander looked at him. "That mess in LA, Don. Do you think that was the first time I've had to kill something to get free?" He went pale and took a step back. "The time I was living in town and got taken for four months I got taken to a battle ring by the same sorts of beings as the ones in LA. I spent that four months kicking ass so I wouldn't die. If it comes down to them or me, I'm going to choose me. No matter what. No matter who. If you guys tried to kill me I'd react then too. I'm practical as well as slutty and bouncy." Don shook his head at that. "For that matter, I was on the protection patrol back in Sunnydale. I've been hunting those things since I was sixteen. Now I'm a bit better skilled for it. I didn't lay down and die when I was tortured I'm not doing it now." He shrugged. "Sorry but no."
"Fine," he agreed. "Most of us react."
"He was number six hundred and some that I'm aware of, Don. I'm still a berserker; I have no idea how many there were in LA or the last time I had to lose it. Besides, I'll have nightmares all night and be sick later," he admitted. "I don't let myself be seen as weak in front of anyone, not even family. Even those who might understand."
"I can see why," Ian agreed. "You're one of those who hold the flag of the battle."
Adam nodded. "He is. That's why now and then they come for him. He's young, fairly open about his other sides. He holds a strong family together down in Miami with some of them."
"And you?" Don asked.
"How many in the group?"
"Seventeen?" Xander asked.
"Fifteen. Two lost battles in the last year."
"Are we going toward another gathering?"
"Some think so. We don't."
"That's good because Giles had research saying it wasn't going to happen when they had me."
"He was doing it for Connor," he agreed. "We'll see, young one. Steven..."
"I've been learning from the people in Cascade," he defended.
"Fine. You need more time with the family."
"Out of your family, how many?" Don asked quietly. Xander looked at him. "Just between us, kid. I don't want to have to worry about you guys."
"Five. We've got a cooperative teaching thing going. Most of the ones in Miami are peaceful so we just shrug and walk off when we meet each other."
"Can the non-GHS do that dance style?" Ian asked.
"I haven't met anyone who could," Xander admitted. "You have to be a bit flexible. I know Adam can't do it." Adam swatted him. "Pizza? I'm starved." They nodded, following him out. He gave Steve a nudge on the shoulder. "At least I did what I'm supposed to and set up a safe spot for the next life."
"You did. I'm incredibly happy, Xander." He smiled at him. "Even if I did have to do it for you."
Xander shrugged. "Does the guy in Miami do good?"
"No. I'm about to travel down to kick his ass in person."
"Okay." He grinned. "Can I watch?"
"Sure." He put an arm around his shoulder, walking off with him. They nodded at the officer outside the hotel. "Problems?"
"Making sure the protest hasn't spread, sir."
"No, we're mostly in the movie room," Xander said happily. He looked at him. "You worked with Don."
"I did. Xander." He smiled. "How is he?"
"He's good but he was on this weekend so he couldn't come with me. He promised to take a long ride on his bike."
"Yeah, I got him a bike two years ago."
"Wow. I'm sure he's happy with it. Tell him to call his parents?"
"I can do that too. Now, why are you really here?" The detective laughed. "I play poker with thugs. Against Don's wishes but I do."
"Fine. We're watching the hotel. Just in case. Kremps wanted us to."
"We do know that Kremps tried to bother me last night when I was playing poker?"
"Yeah, he said that." He gave him a look. "Any idea where he is?"
"Not at the moment. Saw him earlier when he wanted to bother me again," Xander admitted. That got a nod and they walked off. He looked at Adam, who shook his head. "Am I getting a large pizza and sharing or not?"
"We'll get slices so we don't have to worry about what you want on it," he said dryly.
"Steve's the one who eats pineapple."
"We'll see what we want," Adam promised. A few guys with guns stepped out in front of them. "Hmm."
"Channeling Horatio?" Xander asked.
"Yes, he would not be pleased."
"Money or your lives," one shouted.
Xander looked at him. "There's no need to shout. None of us are deaf." The man glared at him. "There's not. We're generally nice people." The man menaced him with his gun. "Hmm, I have three of those. Do you find you have a problem with the trigger sticking or is it the humidity down in Miami?"
"It's probably the humidity," Don said. "Guys, we should probably be cooperative victims."
"Yeah," Xander said, giving him a look. One of the guys got into his face. "Oh, please! My boyfriend's tougher than you are." He gave him a shove then kicked his ass, then the other guy. He looked at the last one. "I can shoot you." He ran. "Bye! Thanks for the bit of exercise! I needed it!" he called after him. He walked over one guy, walking off shaking his head. "Stupid kids." He pulled Steve with him. "Come on. So you can tell me how we're going to arrest the guy you have handling stuff."
"Sure," he said, looking back at the thugs. "Are we going to leave them there?"
"Yeah. If they want to be in the underworld they can be prey for the higher predators." He shrugged. "Predator hierarchies are like that." He grinned. "It was kinda fun. No one tries to mug me in Miami." They walked into the pizza place and he sighed in pleasure. "One of you guys need to move to Miami for all the New Yorkers down there." The guy at the counter laughed. "Give me three of pepperoni and green peppers and whatever they want?"
"I should be good. Diet pepsi?" He nodded. The others ordered and Steve had to get the tax. "Next time I'll get more money from the bags."
"Bags?" Ian asked.
"Yeah, I had seven."
"I didn't see them."
"He can hide them," Steve said blandly. "He does it from all of us now and then." They walked over to the table. "He has this bad problem with winning poker games. He won about six mil one weekend." Xander beamed.
"You were peeved because he didn't put it into the bank," Adam said dryly.
"Well, yes. That and the millions worth of jewels that were laying around the house until Don found out and did the sensible thing." He sipped his soda. "He gives me ulcers, Adam."
"We do heal, young one."
Xander snickered. "He says the same thing about me too," he said proudly. "Then I give Ray ideas."
"Which make your mates nearly die at work," Adam reminded him.
"And yours too."
"And mine too," Adam agreed. "He looked very good as the pure thing I needed to debauch." He took a sip of his drink and they went back to eating. He held Don back when they left. "Yes, Miami is like this."
"Glad I live in LA then."
"Not too many of us live there. This city and Paris seem to be one every few blocks." He nodded at one, who gave him an odd look. "GHS convention."
"Ah." He nodded. "Who's the gay boy?"
"Ah. Him." He shuddered. "Never mind."
"Probably a good idea. He's the other's teacher." That got a nod and he walked off again. "As you can see." They walked back, him making sure Xander went back to his room. He looked in on his poker winnings and groaned, walking off shaking his head. "Nothing too shiny for the holidays, Xander," he called before the door shut.
Xander snorted. "Bet me," he called. He laid down to roll around and play with himself. He really did need to wear some of that extra energy out. Without his boys here and Tony and Greggy being on their own he didn't have anyone to play with.
Xander drove past the 'Welcome to Miami' sign and saw a familiar shadow behind it. He smiled when the purple bike and his rider started to follow him. He thought about pulling over but Don wouldn't let his bike be put into the trunk. So he kept going, teasing him by getting off on the wrong exit to go through a drive-thru place for dinner. Then he continued on. He paused before he got to the gates, checking himself over. He saw the bike sneak past him while he was paused, giving him a good look at his boy's backside. He laughed and finished popping the zit that had come up that morning. Then he drove into his community and up to his house, parking in the garage. He got out, noticing the house was silent. He blinked. "Spots, I'm home!" he called. No dogs. Xander didn't want to be paranoid. He saw Don's bike, covered and everything and grimaced. "Let's hope they're asleep." He put his hand on his gun anyway, just in case he had been wrong about it being Don on the bike. He slowly walked inside. "Spots? Boys?" He walked into the living room, finding Don lounging on the couch. "You don't answer?"
"Not to the dogs' name," he said with a smirk. "Hand over the gun, Xander." He did that. "Good boy." He pulled him down on top of him. "Hmm. Didn't eat the dinner you got?"
"I didn't think I'd have the energy to cook tonight."
"Good thing Danny is, huh?" He teased his stomach, then up into his hair, removing all the hairpins. Xander moaned at that. Don liked him to be unarmed at home. He took another kiss. "Have fun in New York?"
"Some. Got challenged." He shrugged. "Your old partner said to call him."
"And your dad."
"I can do that too." He finished disarming him and kissed him, moving a hand up to his neck, nearly tapping him with it. Instead he found his arm pinned to the side of the couch and Xander staring at him. "What?"
"Sweetie, Don tastes very good. He's also going to kill you for riding his bike." The incubus gave him a dumb look. Xander nodded. "Yeah. He is." He tapped the phone's picture button for Don. "I'm home and so are you?"
"No, I'm at the station stuck doing paperwork. By the way, the pets went home with Ray Junior last night. How am I home?"
"He's not me!" he shouted.
"I'm thinking incubus," Xander admitted. "Is your bike with you?"
"Yeah. Is it there too?"
"Yup. He even disarmed me like you do."
"It's self defense from your hairpins, Xander." Don's voice moved away from the phone. "Guys, apparently I'm home?" Someone in the background swore. "Frank's coming, Xander. Just in case he's a normal thing."
"Sure. Love you."
"How was the poker game in New York?"
"Well...." Xander said, shifting to hold the body down. "It went. He got mad that I won a game he dealt. I freaked him out when I called my gun back over. So it went. Nothing came of it. Oh, your dad and your former partner wanted a call. He said so after we freaked out the Feds after a challenge. Then we went for pizza while Steve nagged."
"Steve nagged why?" he asked calmly. "You win that much?"
"No and he paid me in funny money but I ran into someone who wanted me before and we played poker so he wouldn't take me in DC. So I have gas money. Love you. Bring dinner or should I?"
"No, you can order dinner and come eat with us, babe. Soon. Please."
"Okay." He hung up and looked at the guy. "See, that's my Don." Frank walked in with his gun in hand. "Hi, Frank."
"Hi, Xander." He looked at the stuff on the floor. "Nothing on you?"
"I'm never totally disarmed, Frank."
"Good point, kid." He pressed something against his neck, knocking him out. "You couldn't take him?"
"No!" he said. "He knew!"
"Well, now they all will." They disappeared with Xander.
to part 51: