New Nests.

Xander finished his last table and carried it out to the SUV, taking it to the house to put into place.  Then he settled in to fuss things into place.  He smiled at his babies in their new kingdom.  It was ten cages spanning one wall, barely edging around a corner, and had a great play area in the center plus their old and new hiding spots and favorite toys.  Even another few litter boxes.  They were still busy checking things out.  Xander placed the last thing down and went to look at the practice area.  It was perfectly sized.  The windows were on 'mute' at the moment.  It was well constructed.  The trees still shielded it so they didn't have to worry too much about storms.  His insurance guy had liked them a lot since they were energy efficient and practical.  Plus rated up to a category three hurricane.  He went to check everything else out, finding the movies shelved and one in the player.  He smiled at that.

Then he went to get groceries and the dogs.  Hubert was still on his perch in the window.  He checked his storage area, finding everything up, as he had intended.  He relocked it and paid for the next six months then went to get groceries.  It was a nice day.  Their place had a sale going on things he liked.  It was a good day to shop.  Even though he had forgotten cash so he had to use his credit card.  The first had been canceled by Steve and he had forgotten to take it out.  The next one went through fine.  He'd have to call him later.  He brought the food back, settling it into the proper spots.  Then he went to call the extended family over, letting them see and decide if they wanted to have a picnic.  The hottub was working and the deck fixed.  He had done that too.  He had forgotten how happy building made him but he could go back to it now and then.  Other people needed bookshelves.  Maybe he'd even flea market them.  Horatio and Speed were the first to show up.

"Nice job with the top part," Speed said.  He went up to look, smiling at the larger practice area with sword storage.  Including the missing sword no one had been able to find.  He came back down, enjoying the carpet in the halls.  Then down to the bottom floor.  "They shifted the bed?" he teased.

"Me and two of the guys I paid fifty bucks to," Xander admitted. "Come see the new bathroom?"  He showed it off, getting noises of appreciation for the joined, yet still separate tub and shower.  "No more morning bumping and whining."

"I'm sure they'll appreciate it," Horatio said, going to look at the office.  It was bigger and the new desk was an interesting item.  It was in a 'z' shape. The 'arms' were supported by recessed shelves.  The top was smooth and very well done around the seams.  They had two comfortable desk chairs in each 'elbow' and it looked good enough to lay things out on.  "Where did you get the desk?" Horatio called.

Xander leaned in.  "A small specialty shop."

"Called his storage area," Speed said dryly.  "He made a lot of the tables too, H."

Horatio gave Xander a hug.  "Good job, Xander."  Xander preened and beamed at him.  "What's in the rest of the dining room?"  Xander opened the sliding doors, making him stare and smile.  "This is perfect."  He walked down to sit in a seat, smiling at the old things.  There were a few new ones in the back but these...these were just right.  He smiled at the popcorn stash and microwave.  It also had things for nachos, making sodas or floats.  A small fridge held juices and a few beers.  Plus a few hot pockets in the small freezer.  He went to look at the movie collection, smiling at it.  "This is wonderful, Xander."  He walked out, patting him on the back.  "You and Tony did a great job with that."  He went to check out the practice area, then came down smiling.  Their room was the same except for the carpet.  That was a nice touch.  He looked in the basement, it was fine.  The other house was fine too.  He came back to sit on the new couch, nearly sinking into the comfortable thing.  It was a bit squishy but if you were tired it invited a nap or cuddling.  He pulled Speed down next to him, finding the handle for the recliner.  He tipped it back and pulled him closer.  Speed grinned at the new, large, plasma tv.  The dragon snorfled from his perch.  Horatio looked over.  "Comfortable too?"  The dragon swished his tail and went back to laying in the sun.

Ryan and Eric walked in.  "I love this," Eric said, running a hand over the heavy tapestry curtains.  "That'll last for a good, long time."  He went to look around, smiling at the practice area.  Wolfe was already making himself at home by laying on the floor.  "What's with the windows?"

"Switch on the wall."  Eric played with it, leaving the windows dimmed since the sun was coming in three of the windows.  Ryan got up and checked the closets.  "Adam's missing sword.  Must've been in the old closet under all the bags of money."  They walked downstairs again, Ryan smiling at his throw rugs.  Then down to the living room to sink into the new couch too.  He looked at the ferret's cage.  "You weren't kidding.  That's a kingdom."

Horatio looked then smiled.  "Yours are spoiled, Xander.  Beauty still wants out."

Xander looked over.  "What's wrong?"  He got her head unstuck and bent them back into place, watching as she scurried off to get a drink.  He found the little sign he had made and put it over that spot.  "There, Ferretopia is in business."  He went back to the couch and sat down, smiling.  "Did you see the new bathroom?"  They went to see, making Eric laugh.  "They complain when they bump into each other."

"They won't now," Eric assured him.  He came out and sank down into the couch too.  He got up as a test, just in case it was a sucking-in couch then flopped back down and put his feet up.  "More than enough room for all of us."

"And it cleans with a washcloth," Xander said proudly.

"It'll feel nice against bare skin too," Speed said, running a hand over it.  They waved as Frank and Alexx walked in, followed by Adam walking in Ray.  "I really like the staircase half-shell that trails off into the iron work in front of the door, Xander."

"Thank you.  He suggested it but I went with the maple and the iron work.  It's a bit of a mix of styles but I think it goes very well together."

"It does," Adam agreed, sitting down.  Ray pouted.  "I saw it earlier when I helped him bring over the last of the nicknacks.  Go look."  He went to look around.  "Thank you for finding my lost sword."

"Not a problem."

"Under the bags of money?" Ryan teased.  Xander nodded.  "Where are they now?"

"Bank," Speed said.  "We escorted Don to the bank four days ago, Wolfe.  You were off that day."

"I would've come in.  The tellers like me."

"They like me plenty too," Xander said dryly.  "The rest is in the new office safe.  I had that one expanded."

Ryan went to look in there.  "I love this desk."  Eric came to look too, nodding.  He came out to look at him.  "Who built that?"  Speed pointed at Xander when he tried to lie and say it was a professional.  "The ones out here too?"  Speed nodded and pointed again.  "Hmm.  I need some new bookcases.  Want to build some for the holidays for me?"

Xander beamed.  "Really?"

"Really."  Xander bounced over to give him a cuddle.  Ryan felt...warm but it was a comforting cuddle.  "I could use a few to replace the cheap ones.  Not the one Eric's father built but the others."

"I might be able to match them."  Ryan smiled and nuzzled his throat, making Xander moan.  "I'm sweaty."


"Down, puppy," Eric taunted, heading back to the couch.  "The new countertop is nice too, Xander.  Easy spot to work on."

"It is," Tim agreed.  Don pulled up on his bike and Xander bounced out to cover his eyes before leading him inside.

"What's the new space at the top?" he asked.

"You can look in a minute."  He uncovered his face, watching the happy look.  "See, it does match."

"It does.  You did a great job decorating, Xander."  He gave him a hug.  "I like all the different little things."  He walked over to look at the four ottomans with a wooden table in the center.  The ottomans also opened up.  Then he went to check the office, gasping in awe.  "I love the new desk and how yours is placed."

"Thank you," he said proudly.  He watched Don run a hand over it.

"Before he lies about some small shop doing it, he built it and most of the new bookcases and tables," Speed called from the living room.  "Check your bedroom."

Don walked that way, pulling on Xander's hand to walk with him.  They looked and he moaned at the new bathroom.  "Thank you.  *That* fixed a problem."  He gave him another kiss then walked him upstairs to look at the carpet, which went very well.  Then up to the third floor, smiling at the new practice area.  "Much bigger.  Now we can really fight without worrying about the walls."

"And there's a family surprise but only Horatio's seen it so far."  He walked him back down, bouncing out to do the same for Danny.  "I think I got everything from the old house.  We can go check tomorrow.  The dogs are lounging on their special chairs in the sun."   Don gave him a confused look so he pointed at where the curtains were billowed out.  "There's a few small benches there for them and Hubert to lounge on."

"Cool.  I'm sure they love it."  He checked.  Both dogs looked at him and wagged their tails, then put their heads back down.  "Sure, you guys nap in the sun."  He put down the curtain and walked over, running a hand over the couch.  "That feels good.  Not leather either."

"It's washable microfiber," Eric told him.

"It'll feel good when we cuddle too," Ryan told him.

Don grinned. "It definitely will."  He sat down, checking his seat.  He checked the one next to him and shifted, putting up his feet.  "I love my man.  He's brilliant."  He saw the tv.  "Is that going to be big enough?"

"Maybe not," Horatio admitted.  He heard Danny moan from the bedroom.  "I think he likes the bathroom too."  They came out and went up the stairs, making him smile.  Then they came back down.  "Xander, did you want to unveil the family present?"

"Yup."  He hauled everyone up.  "Someone listen for the pizza guy."  Frank nodded he would.  He led them into the office, letting those who wanted to admire the desk.

"That's a good work area," Danny decided.  "Useful.  Got good lights.  Even a magnifying one," he said with a smile.  Don waved a hand a bit.  "Good job."  He saw the new door and went to open it, walking inside and moaning.  "Don!"  He walked in and grinned like a little boy.  He looked at the new seats.  Only three of those.  Then at the older seats, walking down to sit in one.  "Oh, yeah.  Just right."

"Tony helped me find the place that had them used," Xander said proudly.  Don pounced for a cuddle.  "I love you."

"I love you too.  I wondered why you were thinking about movies.  Do we have any?"  Xander led him into the projection room, finding that Xander had not only bought out an older movie store he had bought out a newer one too.  He checked the player, sniffling.  It was his favorite movie, one he and Danny liked to watch together whenever it was on tv.  "I love you."  He cuddled him again.  "You're so getting pounced later," he said in his ear.  Xander gave him a squeeze.  Frank went to get the pizzas.  Then he came for Xander's wallet.  "I prepaid."  He walked out.  "They declined it?"

"Yes, sir.  Don't know why.  We haven't had problems with it in the past."

"I'm going to beat someone.  That's why."  He handed him a hundred.  "Keep it."  That got a nod and a grin, letting the young guy leave.  He called Steve on his way to the kitchen.  "What's wrong with my cards this time?  The Visa just declined, Steve.  I thought you were coming down to beat him.  No, I haven't used it in a month.  Furniture shopping.  Poker money.  Please.  Sure.  We just renovated the house."  He hung up.  "Steve's going to come down after all.  He verbally spanked the guy but now he's bringing his sword."  He walked things into the kitchen, then walked back into the theater.  "There's popcorn and sodas, plus a few beers," he admitted.  "Some stuff to make nachos too."  He went to turn on the movie, making everyone jump because he had a THX sound system installed too.  He came out to snuggle into Don's free side, getting one arm around his shoulders.  "Happy memories?" he asked quietly.

"A lot of happy memories," he agreed.  "I got my first kiss in a theater."  He kissed him.  "You taste better than she ever could."  He snuggled him while his movie came on.  "How are we doing the remote things?"

"Tony had the sound system guy wire a sensor up here."  He pointed at the remote on the floor in front of the screen.  Don grinned and settled in to watch, stroking over Xander's hair for now.

Frank heard someone else come in and walked out.  "Hey," he told the kid.  "What's up?"

"I came to add one last finishing touch to the work," he told him, holding up something.  "We forgot to put up a piece of trim."

"Where does that go?"

"The practice room."  Frank walked him up there, watching him install it.  It had been missing.  The guy kept giving him odd looks.  "You don't trust us?"

"Not with Xander in the house, no.  We don't trust anyone around him."

"Oh."  He nodded, walking back down once it was in place.  The nice detective saw him leave then went back to the theater area.  The door was even shielded on the office side so no light could get in.  He snuck back with his new can of spray paint.

Frank grabbed him by the collar and hauled him off.  A few of the patrol guys came at his call so he handed him over.  "Broke in to tag Harris' house."

"Ferrets are wrong!  So are gay men!" he complained.

"This would be the second one," Frank told the officers.  "Harris is pressing charges.  If he doesn't, Flack and Messer definitely will."  The officers nodded and took him, still ranting about ferrets and gay men, off.   Frank smiled at Mac and Stella, plus Sheldon.  "We're in the family's surprise but come on in."  They parked and went in to look around, Mac smiling at the practice area, running a hand over the walls.

"So that's why we have carpet downstairs," Stella joked.   The new living room and bathroom got appreciative looks.  The office got the table stroked then they went to the theater too.

"This is great," Mac said, getting a few looks.  "Sorry."  They snuck down to their seats and settled in, cuddling up together.  He pointed after a nudge, getting a grin from Stella.  A snack center.  It probably even had the boxes of candy.  He wrapped an arm around her and they settled in to watch the movie with the rest of the family.   Sheldon snuck in a minute later and settled into his seat too.

After the movie they went to eat cold pizza in the living room, settling in.  Xander had the news on and Don was tipping his head. "Xander, you know how we all complained the last tv was too small?"  Xander nodded.  "Too small.  I'm spoiled to say it but too small."

"No, you're right.  I went with the medium size and I should've went with the large.  I'll get a bigger one tomorrow."

Don kissed him.  "Thanks."  He settled into his side, letting him watch the news.  "Hmm.  Hope the poker buddies we arrested don't blame you."

"They can't.  I didn't have anything on them.  They weren't part of my part of the poker circle.  Two of them refused to play with me because I'm gay."  He ate another bite of dinner.  "By the way, the Christmas tree is going over in the fairly empty corner."

"That'll work," Don agreed.  He nuzzled him again, getting a grin.  Pulling Xander into his lap was as easy as ever and they both agreed it was a need.

Danny noticed Ryan was shifting.  "You can pounce him tomorrow.  We'll both be exhausted."  Horatio and Don laughed at that.  "Xander, that good with you?  You wear Ryan out tomorrow so we're not tired all week?"

"Sure," he said absently, nibbling on Don's throat.  Then he bit, hard.  "I saw you without your vest on."

"Didn't have it in the car.  It's in my desk.  I didn't think I'd need it."

"Hmm.  Better not happen again."

"Yes, dear."  He let Xander do whatever he wanted.  He was happy.  He was content.  Xander wouldn't have to go out as often.  He hoped.  Xander had fixed all the annoying things they hadn't liked about the house.  Plus he had given them a great new bathroom and a wonderful family treat.  He'd bear babies for Xander at the moment if it was possible.  Xander gave him a wicked look.  Don stood up and carried Xander off to the bedroom to have him.  The family understood these needs.  And it was a need to reward Xander for the good work.


Horatio put down the house warming invitation onto the break room table.  A few others looked at it while he got coffee and they got their morning waters, juices, coffees, whatevers.  Speed came in to get his own soda.  "I was thinking," Speed said.  Horatio hummed quietly.  "We could paint the bedroom."

"Having house envy?" he teased.

"I don't need that much room.  You know that.  Our walls are still white."  He sipped his Mountain Dew.  "Our bedspread is light tan.  Which I don't mind.  Our carpet is industrial."

"It was easy to care for," Horatio reminded him.

"True, and I love that about it, but it's still charcoal gray.  Want to change some things?  Paint maybe?  Maybe a new rug?"

Horatio considered it.  "I could like that," he decided.   "Even if we would have to sleep in the guest room for a few days because of the paint stink."  Stetler walked in.  "Morning, Rick."  He sipped his coffee.

He glanced at the invitation then at them.  "Didn't he already have a housewarming party?"

"They did some major renovation work," Speed told him.  "It came out great."  Horatio nodded.  "Hell I want to paint here."  Horatio snickered.  "I know you do."

"Yes, I do.  And take out some of the glass because it'll end up being dangerous."  He smiled at Speed.  "Still not my decision."

"Good point."  He looked at Frank.  "Why did you leave?"

"The guy who tagged the house the first time came back to install a piece of trim work and then snuck back in to spray more anti-ferret messages.  I had patrol take him."

"He was arraigned and given bail this morning," Horatio told him.  "With a restraining order against going near the house."

"Good.  How can you be anti-ferret?"

"Xander said his ex-girlfriend had a bunny phobia," Speed reminded him.

"Oh, yeah."  He nodded.  "I forgot about her.  It'd be strange to see him with a woman anyway."

"He had women?" Stetler snorted.  "And he switched."

"His last one was a nympho and yeah, he switched," Speed said smugly.  "We saw his last one recently.  She's still complaining no one could wear her out like Xander."  Horatio gave him a look.  "On that scene?  Her.  That was Anya."

Oh damn.  That could be a problem.  "Did you let the boys know?"

"I called Xander.  They had lunch."  He finished his soda.  "Don't worry, Rick, he doesn't expect everyone will want to come."  He looked at Frank.  "Did you get the urge to paint too?"

"Yes.  My wife was really happy because she's wanted to paint now for two years.  We're saving up to hire someone."  Horatio smiled.  "You two?"

"Perhaps a bedroom redo," Horatio told him.  "We just moved the living room around to fit the bigger ferret setup."

"I saw the sign on the cage.  Ferretopia?"

"Well, he does call it their kingdom," Speed said dryly.  Stetler walked out moaning, shaking his head.  "Think ours would like to come play in the ferret kingdom?"

"I think we can arrange that."  He smiled at him.  "Behave."

"I try so hard," he quipped as he walked off, nearly strutting.  Horatio was standing funny this morning so he was The Man.

Frank gave him a look.  "Good was it?" he teased.

Horatio blushed a bit and nodded.  "It's always good, Frank."  He walked off, going up to his office.  His boss was laying in lurk.  "Yes, sir?"


"Xander got a new cage setup for his ferrets.  It takes up a whole wall.  He calls it their ferret kingdom and had a sign made."

"Ah."  He nodded.  "He's been some interesting places.  Including a warehouse recently."

"He was building the desk and some of the tables and bookshelves, sir."

"Oh.  Nothing going on?"

"Xander doesn't use drugs."

"One of his poker buddies said he did."

"No.  One of his poker buddies was mistaken.  Xander doesn't use drugs.  He admitted he dabbled once when he was on his first road trip and he was having to strip to get his car fixed so he could get back home.  He also said the cocaine made him stay hyper for three days from his only taste."

"Oh."  He grimaced.  "You sure?"

"I'm fairly certain, yes, sir.  Xander doesn't need drugs.  If he wants to feel that high all he has to do is let himself start to back up again."  He sipped his coffee then put his mug down on his desk, sitting in his chair.  "Which poker buddy said that?"


"Hmm.  Well, I'm sure he's going to have a bit of trouble.  I'll let Xander know he said that.  Thank you, sir."

"The theater equipment?"

"He made one room into a small theater, like we had as kids," he said with a smile.

"Good.  Less time for him to be out."

"Probably not totally but it does give him something new to shop for."  His boss walked out shaking his head.  He called Xander.  "Xander, which poker playing person is Hallings?"  He smiled.  "Because somehow he told my boss you've been using drugs."  He listened to him splutter.  "Ruin him through us, Xander.  Ah, he's one of the legit ones.  Sure, you do that.  Make sure Steve's fixed things for you first, Xander."  He hung up and got comfortable, looking at what was laying on his desk.   He smiled at the envelope, opening it to see what Speed had left him.  Instead, he found a death threat.  He sighed and called Eric, handing it to him.  "Deal with that."

He read it then snickered. "Sure, H."  He went to bag it, handing it to Stetler when he found him going for the coffee he had forgotten earlier.  "You want him first or me?"  He kept walking.  He knew just who it was.  He walked into the detective's area and hauled one guy up, getting a horrified look. "Death threat?"  He stuttered.  "We're going to process it.  You know that."

"Not me!" he said frantically.  "I can't stand you guys but it wasn't me!  It was Bert!"  Bert got up and tried to run but Ray tripped him and handed him over.

"Thanks," Eric said, looking at that guy.  "Transfer since you can't work with us."  He walked Bert off, slinging him into an interrogation room.  "Morning."  The man backed away when Stetler walked in rereading the note, with coffee in hand.  "The other guy help you?"  He shook his head quickly.  "You sure?"

"You're corrupting all of us!" he shouted.  "The people think we're all slutty little toys like *you*!"

"I'm not GHS," Eric said dryly.  "Neither's Wolfe.  We don't have that problem."

"You sure?" Stetler asked him.  "You are a slut."

"Not really.   Only had the same three people in the last few months, Stetler."

"Is that why Wolfe's been making quiet complaints about lack of sex?" he shot back.

"Yeah.  Too much work.  Get our budget raised so we don't have so much overtime.  Then he'll quit complaining about lack of sex."  He looked at the detective again.  "Who else do you think is?"

"I know Kowalski is a keeper.  You guys live some freakish bondage lifestyle!" the detective accused.

Ray walked in at Eric's look.  "What?"

"You live a freakish bondage lifestyle as a keeper?"

"Hell no!  And who said I'm the keeper in my 'ship?  Adam does all the practical shit for me."  The detective stared at him, looking horrified.  "Yeah, no bondage unless Xander's playing at it for the boys or they tie him down to keep him from bouncing in bed.  Anything else you wanna accuse us of?"

"You've warped good detectives, like Flack, into thinking this is normal."

"Hey, Don?" Ray called.  He strolled in.  "He thinks we're warping you to think GHS is normal?"

"I'm a level five, why wouldn't it be normal to me?"  The detective burst out crying.  "Who did he think was?"

"I'm a freaky keeper.  You're warped.  He thought Delko was one."

"Hmm.  Not even close."  He walked off shaking his head. Then he came back.  "For the record, Danny's the freak in the family."  Then he left again.

"More than I ever needed to know," Stetler said, taking another drink of his coffee.  "Who else did you get wrong?"


"Friend and protector of the family group," Eric said patiently.


"In a committed relationship."

"But he is!  He's been at the conventions for years!"

"Hmm.  Yeah, one of them in his 'ship is," Ray agreed.  Stetler gave him an amused look. "What?"

"*One*?  By the way, got the directory."


"Had a friend hack the site.  You guys need better security on it."

"We're doing good when we can remember passwords.  Xander can barely remember the one to his home alarm."

"You can up security without creating more work," he told him.  "Get one of the Feds who're helping you guys to do that.  My friend isn't a computer genius.  He barely can figure out how to plug in the number generator he found online."  Ray moaned.  "Took him three hours.  Though the new 'for officers' section was helpful.  Thank you."

"Welcome."  He looked at the guy.  "And?"

He moaned.  "Messer's not?"


"Wolfe's not?"

"Nope," Eric said.  "Taken by a succubus recently and I'm not sure we cleared all his taint either.  He was damn needy last night."  He shrugged it off.  "Anyone else you want to guess about before you go to prison for the death threat?"

"No," he said weakly.   Stetler took him and his coffee back to his office.

Ray went to call someone.  "Hey, it's Ray Kowalski.  Actually, small problem.  Someone hacked our membership lists here in Miami to see if he could.  IAB out of my precinct.  Yeah, him.  The jackass.  That's what he was suggesting so I'm calling you to see if you guys have someone you trust."  He smiled.  "Really?  Think she would?"  He grinned. "That might help.  Yeah, please.  Have her call Adam.  I'm going to call him next.  Thanks, man."  He called home.  "Stetler had someone try the site.  He said the new page was helpful and the security was pitiful since his friend found a random number generator online and hacked the list."  He heard him splutter his morning coffee.  Adam needed a *lot* of coffee to wake up unless it was a problem.  "I called one of the Feds we work with and he knows a few good people in places where we already have friends so one's calling you soon to see what we can do."  He smiled.  "Exactly.  Yeah.  Thanks, Adam.  You're welcome.  I left you cinnamon buns in the oven.  From the tube."  He grinned.  "Icing's in a bowl on the stove."  He hung up and got back to work.  He called a detective he knew.  "There's a spot coming open in homicide."  He grinned.  "One's going to jail for giving Caine a death threat.  Yeah.  Sure, go for it."  He hung up.  "Hey, Frank.  That kid still wants in."

"I'll see what we can do about it," he promised.

"I still can't believe he thought I was the bondage queen," Don said dryly.  "Do I come off like that?"

"It's the leather coat," Frank told him.

"It's for when I ride my bike!"

Frank grinned.  "They wanted to see you in more leather, Flack."

He gave him a look.  "Don't tempt Xander."  Frank snickered at that.  "I have one already.  I look damn hot in it.  He had them custom made so they fit my ass perfectly.  I even have a great t-shirt to go overtop.  Still not the bondage queen in the family."

Ray smirked.  "I'm telling the other one you said it was him."

"Go ahead!  He does it more than I do."

"Guys, getting mental images I don't like again," Frank complained.

"Sorry, Frank," Don said, tossing over some of his candy.  Frank grinned and got back to work.  He smirked at Ray. "Double dare you."

"Ooh, you're so getting it."  He went to find Danny and tell him.  He wanted to see the look on his face when he told him.  Eric already had, which is why he found him ranting in a closed room.  He leaned in.  "You know, Don backed me up on you being the bondage queen in the family.  Don said he's got the leather thing down pat if and when he wants to but you're the family bondage queen.  And he thought Eric was GHS too."  He closed the door and watched him stare then go off on a new rant.  Ray went back to his desk, smiling at the agent waiting on him.  "What?"

"Stetler hacked the site?"

"Yup.  He had a friend do it.  Admitted it in front of Delko and me, plus the detective who sent Caine a death threat."

"Hmm.  Interesting.  Thank you."

"Hell, he's a blight on our asses too," Don said dryly, handing him a piece of candy.  "Because you don't look happy."

"You do.  Renovations done?"

"All done and it's perfect," Don assured him.

"Good."  He walked off to warn Stetler.  Plus to confiscate the list.  It was too dangerous and he didn't have a copy.

"We already got it from him," Speed called when he passed him in the halls.  "Smacked him a few times too."

"Thank you.  When do I get mine?"

"When hell freezes and you quit staring at my boss's ass."  He turned to smirk at him before getting on the elevator.  "Too many people still try him."  He got on and the doors shut.

He groaned, going to threaten him anyway.  Maybe he had a backup copy.


Xander looked at his usual helper at Home Depot.  "I'm making bookcases for someone."

"Sure, how high?"  He got him a plan book.

"Five shelf?"  That got a nod and they went to pick out wood.  "I'll deal with the doors later on since I'll need a router."  That got a nod and they went to check him out.  He had it delivered to the same spot then went to check on it.  The guard stopped him.  "Problems?"

"Building more stuff?"

"Some bookcases.  At least until I can put on a small workshop to the house.  I forgot."

"That's all right, Mr. Harris.  We have guys who store classic cars here and come to tinker.  What're you building this time?"

"Bookshelves for a friend."  He grinned.  "They all loved the desk."

"I loved that desk."  He patted him on the back.  "Don't worry about it but get the workshop done soon.  That way you can make stuff for the holidays."

"I have to buy ornaments too."

"They have a great charity ornament sale in a few days.  On Saturday at the convention center."  Xander beamed at that.  "Figured I'd tell you since I've seen you mumbling about trees."

"I didn't put one up last year.  Thank you."  He gave him a brief hug then went to bounce off and work on the measurements for the bookcases Ryan needed.  He called him.  "Pick out what sort of doors you want on your bookshelves."  He hung up and looked at the plans for the doors.  They had a few frames and suggestions.  Ryan walked in a few minutes later, giving him an odd look.  "Do you want glass, metal, wire, lattice?"

"Glass is nice.  There's some great frosted glass at the place I get stuff for Eric's sister when he's busy."  Xander nodded.  "What sort am I getting?"  Xander showed him the plans. "Five shelf are good.  Which wood?"

"The same shade as the one you already have."

"That'll work."  He gave him a cuddle.  "When is it getting here?"

"A few hours."  He looked at him.  "I need to build a workshop."

"Put it behind the garage."

Xander beamed.  "That's a great idea.  Plus there's electric out there already so it won't be that hard to run it."   He gave him another cuddle.

Ryan felt that same warmth as the last time.  "After the wood gets here are you starting today or did you want to go do something?"

"Don said we needed more shoot 'em up movies."

"We can do that."  He grinned.  "Then cuddling at home?"

"Sure," he chirped. "You're a very good cuddle."  Ryan grinned at that.  They helped the guys delivering things bring in the wood then they closed up the storage area and went to look at movies for them.  When they were done Xander took Ryan home to pounce.  Ryan needed more pouncing, Eric was ignoring him again.  And hey, Ryan was an immie too so he could wear him out repeatedly.

Ryan felt that same warmth and soaked in it.  It felt so *good* to him.  The sex was great, as usual, and the cuddling afterward was even better.  This is what he had been missing.  He'd have to come over more often to spare his boys.  He stroked Xander's side, helping him nap.  Hubert came in and gave him an odd look.  "Cuddling the daddy."  The dragon wandered off, going back to his padded leather perch in the sun.  "Your pets are so spoiled," he teased quietly.  Xander hummed in his sleep and wrapped himself around him better.  "Good boy, Xander. You nap."  Xander hummed again and it was good.  Ryan let himself be cuddled, still reveling in the warmth that was flowing into him.  This is what he had been missing with Eric.


The next day Danny and Don had lunch together, outside, in the park with no one around.  "Something freaky's going on," Don said.  Danny nodded.  "Xander wasn't too worn out for more than cuddling last night but he was too content to do it?"

"He had Ryan all day."

"Yeah and he was probably good but even eight hours with both of us never wore Xander out like that and eight hours with Wolfe hasn't in the past either.  Since they only had four yesterday...."  Don ate a bite of his sandwich.

"So you think what?" Danny asked.

"I think maybe he's not as detoxed as we think," he admitted.  He drank some of his juice.  Danny nodded, thinking about it.  "I don't think he's doing it on purpose and I don't know why he's not.  I'm worried it'll end up hurting one of them."

Danny thought then nodded slowly.  "Could be an issue but it's damn helpful."  Don gave him a dirty look.  "Though, what it could be doing to him I don't know."  He ate one of Don's chips then drank some of his water.  "How would we know?  I've seen him use the doctored hand sanitizer."

"You guys doctored it?"

"I added holy water.  I want the half-succubus out of the lab too."


"Guess," he said flatly.

"Oh.  No wonder."  He shrugged.  Skanky hos had never been his thing.  "Eric know?"


"Good."  He ate a bite of his sandwich and chewed.  "So how?"

"Don't know?  Clubbing?"  Don smirked.  "It'd be good for our boy too.  There's a few clubs he favors.  It's been a while."  He nibbled another chip, getting a swat on the hand.  "Fine."  He dug into his own lunch, eating fast.  "Tonight?"

"Tonight's good."  Don finished up too and tossed their trash into a nearby can.  He looked at him.  "Then what?"

"Then?"  He shrugged.  "We do some research if we find out it's true."

"Hmm.  Do we have more than the one book?"

"Don't know.  If not, we know people we can talk to.  And hey, Xander's collection that he keeps hidden."

"Good point.  How're we going to tell?"

"Think we can get the bags to weed them out for us?"

"Like thinking about the blue shirt brings up all the blue shirts?"


"Maybe."  He shrugged. "We'll try tomorrow?"

"After we have proof."  They got up and went back to work, going to find Ryan.  "Hey.  We're taking Xander out tonight to a club."

"Xander's curled up in his jammies on the couch," Eric said as he walked in to join them.  "He said he feels like crap and he's got the sniffles."

"More of the herbs?" Don asked.  "I remember last time it was that stuff on a blanket."

"Not sure.  All he said was he feels like crap, he's on the couch in his jammies, and he has the sniffles.  Otherwise he would've brought us lunch."  He shrugged.

"Tomorrow night?" Ryan suggested.

"Sure," Don agreed, grinning at him.  That might work even better for their plans.  He gave him a punch to the shoulder.  "You okay?  You look tired."

"I'm a bit tired but not much."  He shrugged.  "Didn't sleep last night.  Too many nightmares."  He went back to work.  "Let me know where we're going."

"Xander's got a few places he considers safer.  We'll hit them."

"We might even talk leather boy there into the pants he bought him," Danny teased.

"Xander said they made him look hot," Eric teased.

"Everything, even my old flannel jammies, make me look hot, Delko.  You wish you were this hot."  Eric laughed and punched him on the arm.  "Better get back to work before the boss decides I'm having too much fun.  Anything on my case yet?"  Eric and Ryan both handed over folders.  "Thanks, guys.  Love you lots."  He walked off reading.  Hey, it gave him a good suspect.  He waved at his boss, sitting down to go through his notes to find which one it narrowed it down to.  Don did something sweet, calling Xander's favorite chinese place to bring Xander some soup.  His boy needed soup if he felt miserable.


Xander smiled at the delivery boy.  "Hey.  I ordered?"

"Don ordered you soup.  Said you feel miserable."

Xander nodded.  "I do."  He took it and found his wallet but the kid waved him off.  "Thanks, Paul."

"Welcome, Xander.  Fu said to come see him?"

"Do I have more debts?"

"No, you have three pouting people who can't pay you through the PD or they'll be under arrest.  Fu doesn't want to courier money anymore.  Oh, one has someone they want you to meet too.  Someone Middle Eastern that's into guns too."

Xander nodded.  "Not today or tomorrow probably.  Saturday?  Ray Junior's off and we were going to go shopping for his Christmas presents then.  We'll stop in for a late lunch."

"Sure, that'll work.  Thanks, Xander.  Feel better."  He walked off, calling his boss to tell him that.  "Xander does feel miserable but he said he and Ray Junior were going to be Christmas shopping on Saturday so he'd be in for a late lunch.  Yeah, sniffly and miserable looking.  I don't know.  I saw a new counter in the kitchen.  No, he nearly sneezed on me, Fu.  Yeah, he said that'd be fine.  Thanks."  He hung up and went back to the office.  He didn't like taking tips from sick people.  He might get sick from the germs on the money.


Xander pulled Don down to cuddle him when he came in.  "I love you."

"You're still sick?"  Xander nodded, resting against his side. "Why are you still sick?"

"Don't know."  He wiggled until Don put an arm around his shoulder.  "Saturday Ray and I are going to do his Christmas shopping.  We'll be picking up the last of the poker debts."

"Uh-huh.  We can go."

Xander looked at him.  "I'm not letting you bust them."

"Fine."  He gave him a squeeze.  "Any spots or anything?"

"I've had chicken pox.  This isn't chicken pox.  This is my head's going to explode."

"Did you open anything funny?" Danny asked as he came in.  Xander looked confused.  "Right before you got sick, did you open anything, get some herbs or powder on you?"

Xander frowned, thinking back.  "Yeah.  There was powder."  He pointed.  "In there.  On my desk."

Danny covered his mouth and went to look.  He came out dialing.  "Horatio, someone sent Xander an envelope with greenish white powder and he's been sniffly all day.  Truly miserable looking.  Fever, Don?"  Don tested then nodded.  "Yeah, fever too.  Please.  Get Adam here, maybe he can identify it since Xander ... well, his cheeks and throat look a bit swollen but he said no spots.  Please.  Office."  He hung up.  "Looks like someone's really pissed at you.  Who sent it?"

"One of the General's sons."  He shrugged.  "I'll be fine soon."

"Did you die too?" Don asked quietly.

"No.  I think I passed out but no. The soup made me feel better."  Tires came to a screeching halt in the driveway.  "Spots are out."

"Dogs!" Danny yelled.  They came running in.  "On the couch, sit with the daddy."  Horatio came in wearing a containment suit.  "Might be a good idea, boss.  We'd have to fuss if we lost you."

Horatio walked in there with an air quality meter.  He scooped the powder up and took everything it was on as well.  He looked at them, mentally groaning.  Once it was bagged then sealed in a container he came back out.  "Let's set up a safe vent, Danny," he ordered.  Danny nodded, going to do that from a window.  He closed the door again and unsealed.  "Xander, the evidence it was sitting on top of?"

"The guys who's been handling stuff for me?"  Horatio nodded.  "Steve wanted to talk to you about it.  I found that."

"Good boy."  He walked out, heading to the hummer to call that incident in.  "This is Lieutenant Caine.  I need Hazmat at the Harris Household in ...  Yes, that one.  Someone sent him suspicious white powder.  I do have it in a containment system.  Thank you."  He hung up his phone and waited, nodding Danny was doing it right.  Adam came in and went running.  "I need to know what it is!"

"Mumps!" Adam called a minute later.  He came out.  "With his healing it'll take him about the rest of the night to finish healing."  That got a nod.  "We cannot let him be examined.  He's clearly gotten it."

"Don and Danny?"

"If it's contagious at this point, we all have it."  Horatio nodded.  "Safe venting?"

"So we can take out any infected air."  A few cruisers and a Hazmat truck pulled in.  He noticed Adam stiffening and got a point at his look.  He walked over to one.  "Mr. Harris...."

The guy pulled him aside.  "I know you know," he hissed.

"Xander has it."

"We'll cover it."  He took the container.  "To destroy?"

"No.  We need the evidence in there.  Xander found evidence of wrongdoing by his local accountant and it was on top of that.  He said it came from one of the General's sons.  Adam said it's mumps."

"Okay.  We'll clean the papers as best we can and seal them permanently.  They can be destroyed after the hearing."

"Double bag them then seal them in an evidence bag," Horatio told him. That got a nod.  "That's all I could find, Danny's doing the venting."

"Guys, help CSI Messer."  They went to do that.  "Let's go look."  He put on his own containment suit and they went inside.  The office was hazy.  "He kept it locked up?"

"I don't think he had a reason to once he started to feel sick."  They came out.  "Xander, who else have you had contact with?"

"Paul from Fu's.  Don sent me soup."

"I didn't think it'd be this, Horatio."

"I know, Don.  Don't worry about it.  Anyone else?  The mailman?  Anyone?"

"The dogs.  Hubert.  Ooh, baby dragon!"  He came walking over.  "He was sneezing too."

"We'll look him over," the other immie said.  "I know you know, young man."  Xander and Don both nodded.  "All right.  Stay in here.  We're going to quarantine the house until we're *sure* you're okay.  That'll probably be tomorrow."  That got another nod.  "If your boys catch it from you it'll be a few days."

"Okay.  Thank you."

"Welcome."  He left, going to check the office again.  Danny nodded so he opened a window, letting the air purifiier and scrubber work.  Then they closed the office door again.  He and Horatio walked out together.  "You went in wearing the suit?"

"Yes.  I put it on outside the hummer."

"Why do you carry one of those and you can't remember your vest?" Alexx demanded as she walked over.  "Are they okay?"

"Mr.  Harris said he had a cold before it was opened, ma'am.  We're still going to seal the house for tonight."  She nodded.  "Possibly most of tomorrow as well."

"I saw them do it, son.  I removed Xander's brain tumor too."  He winced.  "Ah, you heard," she said dryly.

"Yes, ma'am.  Especially about the first one.  Tomorrow.  We'll make sure.  We'll need you to check a few others."  She nodded, following him.  That was an ME's job.  "Horatio, go home."

"I can do that."  He waved at Adam.  "You'll have to stay."

"That's fine. There's food.  Do get the little bastard?"

"I have plans for that now."  He got into his hummer, going to brief his boss, who was pacing because news crews were gathering.  He walked in.  "Sir."

"Horatio."  He sighed in relief.  "What was it?"

"We think mumps.  Xander had a cold earlier so we're keeping the family quarantined until we can make sure."

"Good.  Is however he heals faster, like Wolfe does, working?"  Horatio gave him an odd look.  "Horatio, I saw him two days after his eye.  There wasn't even a bruise."

"Yes.  It is."

"Mumps?"  Horatio nodded.  "Do we know who?"

"He said one of the General's sons did it."

"Diplomatic immunity."

"Not from this there's not.  This isn't a Miami case."

That got a nod.  "Good point.  Handle it.  What do I tell them?"

"It's in testing.  The person who it got sent to is in quarantine and everyone he came into contact with since opening it will be found and talked to by the ME's office and an officer.  Don sent him soup from Fu's."

"That's not that hard to contain.  Thank you."

"Welcome, sir.  Also, we can't destroy what it was sitting on.  The accountant he uses is apparently skimming money."


"He's also canceled off Xander's credit cards on him without reason or warning."

"Even better.  My wife uses him."

"Steve Ellison is coming down personally this weekend to start going over his books, sir.  We're expecting an arrest to be made.  The powder had spilled on top of some of what Xander had found.  It'll be sealed."

"Good.  Go for it."  Horatio left, heading to find the people who Alexx needed to see.  The Chief of Police straightened himself out, grabbed his formal jacket and headed outside to the press.  "Let me make a statement now so people do not have to worry.  Yes, there was a suspicious powder sent to a wealthy resident.  Yes we do know by who.  We believe the powder was a form of mumps."  The press moved closer.  "The owner is not believed to be contagious but he is under quarantine anyway.  He had a cold earlier so we're not taking any chances.  They're quarantined in there with a doctor or with one on-call I'm sure.  I do know that at least one of the people in there is a police offer.  Hazmat has the powder and all the evidence for it.  The lab is setting up a containment area right now to test the evidence we have to verify who sent it to him.  The ME's department, along with the Health Department are going to be tracking down everyone that might've come in contact with the person in question.  So far we think there was a single delivery driver and whoever he works with.  It is not a mass epidemic.  It will not turn into one.  Even if people came in contact with the delivery driver, it's highly unlikely they'll catch it from him."

"We think it was the mumps?" one reporter asked.  He nodded.  "By what criteria?"

"That's what Lieutenant Caine told me.  I'm assuming he had some way of finding that out.  He's off working on this and you will not bother him until this person is in federal custody.  After all, this sort of incidence isn't just a Miami case, it is a Federal matter.  That is an act of terrorism, so even if the person has immunity, they're in trouble."  The reporters smirked at that.  "I'm sure we'll have the person in custody very shortly.  Again,  I don't want the citizens of Miami to worry.  This was a personal attack, not the start of a mass campaign.  All right?"  They nodded. "Then please go spread that news.  We do not want or need a panic.  So far all we know of is three people coming into contact with the boy."  They nodded and left to bring that back to their stations.  He sighed in relief.


Horatio walked into his lab and a pacing Federal agent.  "Mumps.  He said one of the General's sons sent it."

"That's my job."

"Your lab sucks," Ryan told him.  "Hazmat dropped it off.  Eric is in containment in lab three.  He's running it now.  The papers were vacusealed so nothing got out."  He handed it over. "Then I changed out the filter on the vacuseal machine."  That got a nod.  "It was in the containment area as well.  Just in case.  That's double sealed and then into an evidence bag since it is evidence against his accountant.  Who I'm hoping Steve lets me hit first.  Need me for more?"

"Stay away tonight, Ryan."

"I am.  I'm also going to sit on their gate."  That got a nod.  "They need anything?"

"Xander went grocery shopping the other day."  He nodded, heading off.  He led the Fed to the sealed lab.  He tapped on the plastic, getting a finger held up.  Eric came out a few minutes later, desuiting in the airlock the sheets of plastic had created.  He came out with the paper.  "Mumps.  Fast acting, not very potent."  The Fed sighed.  "How many came in contact with Xander?"

"The delivery boy from Fu's.  Don sent him soup.  Hubert was checked over by the Hazmat guys and cleared even though he was sneezing. They'll watch him.  Danny gave them permission to put him into quarantine at the usual vet's since they do have a quarantine area.  They know what he eats so it'll be fine."  That got a nod.  "Anything else?"

"Athlete's foot powder and baby powder."

"Homemade?" the Fed asked.

"The mumps?  Bought.  The other, yeah."  Horatio let him have the paper.  "Who?"

"One of the General's sons."

"Diplomatic immunity," Eric said with a grimace.

"Not with an act of terrorism," the Fed told him.  "Can we prove it?"

Eric called the house.  "How was it delivered?  I'll call the vet's myself, Xander.  How was it delivered?"  He nodded.  "By?"  He wrote down a name.  "He's with...."  He wrote that down too.  "Thank you.  No, keep the others out of it.  This is an act of terrorism and there's Feds involved."  He hung up.  "That boy delivered it.  He's a runner for this gang."  He looked at the Fed.  "Xander said that's who the boy told him it was from.  You've got hours if some of his poker buddies hear."

He nodded, going to find the boy.  He'd have to be checked anyway.  "I'll want PD backup for him."

"Of course," Horatio agreed.  "Get the envelope done?"

"It's running prints now."  He looked in there then smiled, logging in remotely to that computer.  "There you go.  Pretty.  No DNA.  She said it was sealed with water."

"But the fingerprint came from...."

"Under the stamp.  Self sticking."

Horatio smiled and patted him on the shoulder.  "Make sure it's safe, get it back to Hazmat for destruction."  He walked out, going to help on the raids.  Speed handed him his vest on his way out the door.  "Thank you."  He followed the instructions from Dispatch for officers needed for a gang arrest.  The Fed gave him an odd look.  "This is my job as well."  He put on his vest and held up a hand.  "They're part of Xander's poker circle."  He walked up to the door, three officers and the Fed covering him.  He knocked.  "The boy who delivered Xander the mumps?"

"He's sick," the guy in the door said.

"We know why," the Fed ordered.  "We'll have to quarantine you all while we see if anyone else got it off him and we need him for questioning about where he got it."  The gang member snorted.

Horatio got into his face.  "*This* was an act of terrorism, young man.  There is nothing keeping him from Gitmo right now."  He shuddered and got out of the way.  "I don't care about you, we care about who did this.  Unless you stand in our way, then you're an accomplice.  Understood?"

"Sure, Red.  The boy?"

"Xander's got a cold, we're waiting to see."  That got a nod.  "Yours?"

"Sick as shit in the back room.  We cleared out everyone when he came back sick."

"We'll need to check anyone he came within the same room of," the Fed told him.  "The ME can do it.  She doesn't have powers to arrest."

The guy nodded.  "Better that than more people with mumps.  What is mumps?"

"One of those diseases you get inoculated for as a child," one of the officers told him.  "Your throat swells, you get a high fever.  He couldn't buy something worse?"

He shrugged. "Who knows.  It was that crazy bitch son of the General's.  Too bad Jorge's back in his native country.  He'd make him a prettier bastard than he did his dad."  He let them inside.  "My boy gets treatment?"

"Of course," the Fed agreed.  "We can talk to him in the hospital."  An ambulance was radioed for and he went with him and Horatio while the other guys rounded up the members for the ME to look at.

Alexx was led over.  "Anyone sick?" she said behind her mask.

"The delivery boy earlier, Doctor Woods," one said respectfully.

"No one else yet?"

"No, ma'am."

"The time difference?"

"About an hour from what we know."

"That's fine.  We should be able to clear most of them then."  She walked in.  "I am ME Woods.  You argue with me about me checking your throat and your temperature and I'm smacking you around like I do my kids when they fuss.  Am I clear?" she noted, moving to the first one.  "Sit!"  He gave her a look.  She glared.  He sat.  She checked him over.  "No fever."  She checked his throat.  "Not swollen yet.  How long has it been since you and the delivery boy were in contact?"

"I was in contact with him all day, ma'am.  That's why I'm here.  You're a mother?"

"I've got two beautiful babies and I've adopted Xander, Ryan, and Speedy like my own."

He smirked. "Spank Xander a lot?"

"I let his boys do that.  Or occasionally Horatio for his weapons.  The boy had real weapons in Miami and didn't tell us.  Horatio got his ass good that day.  So did his boy."

The gang member laughed.  "That kinda sounds like him, yeah."  He let her finish fussing.  "Can you check his shoulder too?" he asked, pointing at one guy.

"It's nothin'!" he complained.

"Oh, shut up!  All boys fuss when they're sick.  They turn back into toddlers.  Even at a young age like yours."  She walked over to look at him then moved his shoulder.  She popped it back in, making him groan and go to his knees.  "Better?"

"Much," he whimpered.

"You need help wrapping that?"

"No.  I can do it.  Thank you."

She smirked at him.  "Polite, I like that, thank you."  He nodded, letting her help him into a seat.  She got the rest of them and removed a bullet too.  One of the officers took the envelope she put it into.  "Now, I still want you in here, no matter what unless there's a fire, all night tonight.  If you get sick, you'll be calling me.  Am I clear?" she noted.  They all nodded, looking down like naughty boys.  "Good.  I'll be back in the morning to clear you for leaving."  She smiled and walked out, taking her case with her.

"Damn," one of the boys said once she was gone.  "She's a fine mother.  Her kids won't be where we are."

The cops smirked.  "She adopted one of the CSI too.  He jumps too.   So does the rest of the lab, boys.  We'll sit someone outside so no one thinks to take advantage of this.  We don't want this to turn into a bloodbath."  That got a nod.  "No ordering out either."

"Sure."  They settled in to hang out for a while.


Paul watched the news, turning it up.  "Hey, Fu, get the new dish boy back," he called.  Fu came in and watched the rest of the statement from the Chief of Police with him.  "No wonder he had the sniffles.  Damn glad I didn't take a tip now."

"You sick?"

"No.  Don't feel odd at all.  Thankfully I've been back here.  The new dish boy is gone, they'll probably want him too."  He nodded, going to do that.  "Pity the General's sons.  All three of 'em."  He flipped the channel and went out front when the door opened.  "It was me.  Heard it on the tube.  We've got one guy who needs to come back.  I've stayed in the kitchen and ate since then.  Delivered one drink to the poker room to the dealer in there.  He's still here working on something.  We think he's writing his memoirs."

"Good," Frank agreed.  "Alexx?"

She walked in and smiled.  "Xander said the food here is very good."  She came over to check him out.  "No headache, fever, cheek or throat pain?"

"Only when I ate the pepper by accident."

She smiled.  "Good boy."

"I didn't step in, I don't even take tips from sick people.  Probably a good idea."

"Um-hmm," she agreed.  "Okay, I'll clear you.  We still need you in quarantine all night just in case."

"Do we need to shut down tonight?" Fu asked.  She nodded.  "That's fine.  We weren't doing great business tonight.  Is Xander in quarantine?"

"He is.  His dragon's at the vet's since we weren't sure if it could affect him or not," Frank told him.

"He'll order food for him tomorrow I'm sure."  The new dishwasher walked in and froze.  "Paul delivered to someone with the mumps earlier.  Just a formality."

"I'm not here to arrest," Frank promised.  "I could care less at the moment unless you were part of the to send it to Harris."

"The one with the hair?" the boy asked.  Paul nodded.  "Who'd hurt him?"

"We heard one of the General's sons."

Paul snickered.  "Thank God Jorge's in Nicaragua.  That'd be a mess to clean up."

"He's going to be in Federal detention once we know which one," Frank told him.

"We stay neutral," Fu reminded him.

"Got the name of someone who could tell us for sure?"

The dishwasher held up a hand.  "Perfect Pauline is back in town," he said quietly.  "She's a chemist."

"Hmm," Paul said, nodding back at him.  "She might know.  I have no idea where she is though."

"If it was her, she'd better be running," Frank told him.

"She's got a private plane out by the 'Glades.  That small airport in Opa Locka," Fu told him.  "If it was her, she'd be running.  She hates Caine."

"I'll check," Frank said, calling that in to Horatio.  "It's me.  Got a tip about a chemist who might know.  Perfect Pauline?"  He smirked at the growl of that name.  "Opa Locka has her private plane.  Sure, you do that.  Let us know, Horatio.  Looks like we're clear here."  He hung up.  "We know the boy whoever got to deliver the message is sick," he noted.  "Any others we should check?"

"Their house," Paul said.  "He's that stupid.  It's probably laying around."

"We can do that."  They walked out, going to get the warrant for that house.  The guard that tried to keep them and the Feds out was sick.  Alexx pulled him aside and had him taken immediately.  "Looks like we found the zero point, boys.  Hit it.  Carefully."

"Wear masks and gloves!" Alexx ordered.  They put some on and headed inside.

"We look strange in those," Frank decided, putting on his own.  Horatio pulled up and grabbed his set before heading inside with him.  "Morning.  Her?"

"There.  Local PD there stopped her in the airport.  They're bringing her to the lab now."

"Good.  Think she did it?"

"Oh yes, Frank.  I do."  He smirked behind his mask and they walked through the front door.  "Miami-Dade PD!" he shouted.  They followed an officer's wave, finding one standing guard on the room.  "That's it," he called.  "Get Hazmat!"

"On it's way," one reported.  "Everyone we've come in contact with is sick, sir.  Ambulances are on the way.  General has a ward set up."

"Some of them are going to be prisoners."

"They know, sir.  We have good guards there already.  They've already been taught how to use the hazmat suits."  He nodded upstairs.  "We have sixteen people and another thirty in the back including staff.  We also have other drugs spread around in a few rooms."

"We'll gather it all," Hazmat's head officer said as he walked their way.  "The lab can test it and make a lot of charges."  They nodded and headed to get their primary target after putting up safety seal plastic sheeting around the door.

"A thought hit me a few minutes ago.  Wasn't Xander vaccinated like the rest of us?" Frank asked.

Horatio looked at him. "Both of his parents were drunks, Frank."

"The school?"

"Run by corrupt people.  Ones who didn't care that they had an eighty percent death rate a few years back."


"Basically.  So we'll see.  Adam might not have his either.  I know Xander said he had the chicken pox."

"So his parents screwed that up too.  Okay."  They walked out with the last bunch of prisoners.  "They all stay.  If they're released, they're getting arrested," he told the officer going with them.  That got a nod.  "Good."  He closed the door and they were off.  The Fed had went with the head of the family.  He looked at Horatio.  "Miller time?"

"Once we process the evidence we have here."  He texted the lab.  Eric sent back for him to head home.  He had swing today so he'd do it.  "There's no way you can do that, Eric," he said dryly.  "How many samples?"

"We have a pile of coke," one of the Hazmat guys said from the doorway.  "I know they're diplomats, Horatio."

"We've been trying."

"I know.  I heard.  You got 'em now."  Horatio smirked evilly at that.  "Head home.  Delko said he can start processing this tonight and the night lab can do the rest for us."

"I can...."

"Head home so your boy can check you over, make sure you're all right?  Yes, you can," Frank told him, giving him a nudge.

"Frank," Horatio started, hands on his hips.

"Get your hind end in that hummer and let my baby fuss over you!" Alexx said firmly, pointing and stamping a foot.  He walked off shaking his head.  "Thank you!  We can handle it, Horatio Caine.  You can let us do some of the work too.  We want them just as badly as you do."  He nodded as he walked, slipping into his sunglasses.  "Have that suit dry cleaned immediately."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Thank you!"  She looked at Frank.  "You too."

"Needs it anyway, it's hot in there without the a/c."  He looked at the Hazmat guys, who nodded for him to go.  "You sure?"

"Yup.  It's good."  He nodded, heading off past the press that was starting to gather.

"Detective!" one shouted.  "Is this who sent the mumps virus to Mr. Harris?"

"It appears that they were also sickened by it.  Ask the lab tomorrow, people.  I don't make the statements for the department."  He walked off.  He'd have reports to do but he could change and get dinner before heading back.  His dry cleaner accepted the plastic bag he had it in.  "I was at a drug scene," he told the girl.  "Shouldn't have anything on it but just in case."

"I know, Detective.  We'll be tossing it in by itself under special precautions.  We've already gotten orders from Lieutenant Caine."  Frank smiled and nodded.  She went to add his to Horatio's bag.  "Another one from the same scene."

"That's fine, we'll run them separately and last," the head dry cleaner said.  She was certified to run things that had drugs on them.  Everyone was used to biological contributions.  Some people had the nastiest clothing in existence.  "At least neither one of them are the half of men who have shit on their shirttails."

The front counter girl shuddered. "I hate checking in laundry."  She went back to deal with the next customer.


Adam came in to check on Xander, smiling at him.  "Feeling better?"

"Yup.  Why aren't they sick too?"

"They got their shots."

"Oh.  Yeah, she was kinda lax on that.  The doc signed off half the time without giving them."  He shrugged. "Mom told him he did and he had forgotten so he signed off."  He took his soup to drink. "Paul?"

"I've called.  He's fine.  Hubert's fine.  No signs of a fever yet."  Xander smiled.  "The delivery boy had it.  The General's whole house got exposed, but otherwise they're fine."  Xander nodded, sipping his soup.  "Go back to sleep, Xander."

"Will.  Thank you for babying us."

"You needed it."  He went to let the boys fuss now.  "He's finishing his soup and going back to sleep."

"How did he not get his shots?"

"The doctor had a very bad memory problem so his mother told him he had done it.  He signed off on the forms.  It meant she didn't have to pay for them."

"Aw, damn," Danny muttered.  "Well, they said the delivery boy will be fine.  I called to check with the officers on guard.  Only a few of the hysterical mothers brought in their kids to be checked.  Hubert's still fine and they got him alpo tonight.  They said he's grumbling.  I had Ryan take over real food for him."

"I'm sure he'll appreciate that."  He patted him on the head, looking at the tv.  "Wasn't he supposed to get a bigger one?"

"It's on back order," Don said.  "It's fine as long as you're near the center of the seating area."  He put his feet up and got comfortable.  "You know, the tables in the center are the perfect height to lay across."

"I think that was his plan," Adam said happily.  "He did a wonderful job in here."  He stroked the couch.  "We need a new couch."

The dogs jumped up, cuddling in with Daddy.  "Hi, boys," Don said, petting them gently.  "Not going to nap with Xander?"  One went to lay with him.  The other got Don to cuddle.  Don yawned and fell asleep there.

Adam checked him.  He shook his head.  "How did you miss yours?"

"He had chicken pox from the vaccine too," Danny said quietly.  "He was a sick kid."  Adam nodded, letting Danny help him carry Don into the bedroom to put him in with Xander.  "Watch him for us," he ordered.  Xander nodded, cuddling in.  They went back to the news.  He answered the phone.  "Hi, Greg.  Caller ID, Greg.  He's fine.  He and Don both have it.  It looks okay.  No, I'm fine so far and I came in contact with the powder.  Because I got my shots, Sanders.  Yeah.  They're in bed.  You know those two.  They're indestructible.  Sure, they'll call tomorrow.  Tell Tony they're fine too so he can quit pacing.  No, the General's sons sent it.  Turn to HNN."  He did and then cackled evilly.  "Yeah.  All of the household was sick.  The delivery boy they used.  No one else but I heard Alexx had to pull out her mothering act on one of the gang kids so she could pull the bullet in his arm.  Another she had to relocate his shoulder."  He got another laugh.  "Sure, we're good.  We'll be in  quarantine probably tomorrow too.  Hubert's at the vets.  Ryan's feeding him tonight.  Thanks, man.  Yeah, we're fine.  Thanks."  He hung up and sat down.  "Greg was sending Xander a present."

"What sort?"

"Did you know they make plushies of diseases?"  Adam gave him an odd look so he found his laptop and logged onto the site Eric had found one night from his sisters.  He let him see.  "Mumps."

Adam smirked.  "Those are cute.  Probably good for education purposes too."  He put it aside, going back to the news.


Mac sat down across from Horatio on Horatio's back deck a few hours later.  "All the drugs were processed.  The pile of coke had minute traces.  Someone brought it out of the other room and infected it."  He took the beer from Speed.  "Don got hit too but he's fine.  A fairly light case."  He took a drink.  "Ryan had to argue with the vet tech about feeding Hubert chicken.  He won.  The vet agreed he should have his normal diet and asked why they had him.  Ryan told him and said it was a reasonable precaution. They'd release him in three days if he's not sick," Horatio told him.

"The Fed arrested all the guards, all three sons, and let the household staff go since they didn't have anything to do with it," Speed said.  Mac smiled at that.  That was good justice.  "The bodyguards are going to be given deals to testify for weapons charges and lower drug charges instead of 'assisting a terrorist action' charges."  Mac snickered.  "He said most of them have already taken it.  No one's died.  It was a fairly weak strain."

"The chemist?" Mac asked.

"She saw me and growled how she wanted me to get sick and lose the rest of my hair.  Pity. She did it in front of officers.  She's already in federal custody," Horatio told him.

Mac laughed.  "I like that."  He stood up and finished his beer.  "It's been a long day.  You two destress.  We'll handle it without Danny and Don for a few days.  Ray will be bouncy because Adam's there but we'll be fine."  He left, heading home to Stella to tell her  she had been in the Everglades all day on a new case.  They had just barely gotten back.

Horatio pulled Speed over to kiss him.  "Timmy, I do believe that was an order."

"Well, he was a Marine," he teased, kissing him back.  He and Horatio understood each other perfectly tonight.


to part 54: