The Insanity That Money Brings.

Speed found Xander doing the book inventory.  "You're a rule of Karma?"

"No, they keep spreading rumors that I'm the fist of karma if you fuck with me."  He grinned at him.  "It's a useful rumor so I don't fight it too hard.  I have a lot more books than I thought.  On some really strange subjects."

"We knew that already, kiddo."  He sat down beside him.  "Everyone was good and wore their vests."

"Good, that means I won't have to spank."

Speed snickered.  "No, if H doesn't wear his that's my job," he said, giving him a hug.   Xander squeezed back.  "I saw the ad Nichols put up.  Definitely an aspect of karma there."  Xander beamed at that.  "Told her the whole story?"  Xander nodded. "Figured you did since the ending line was 'a tree made him endanger officers'."  He looked at the books.  "Aren't some in trunks?"

"Yeah but I'll do them next.  For now, I'll stick with the bags.  There might be less."  He looked around.  "When did I put them over here?"

"I don't know," Speed said.  "Last I knew they were in the office closet."

"Then maybe the guys doing the fixing stuff."  He concentrated and all the books and bags floated up, heading for the other house.  They came out and found someone in there.  "Hey," he told the officer.  He put them down in the living room then went to get more.

"More problems?" Speed asked.

"No, we haven't had any and we were worried about him," he admitted.

"He's doing a book inventory."  Some trunks danced over too.  Then a few more.  Then some more bags.  "Just empty it, Xander.  Just in case."

"I am!"  He finished it and followed the last load with his notebook for the inventory.  "Sorry, someone put all my books over there and I have to do an inventory."

"Okay."  He nodded.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm good.  I'm waiting on the crew to get to the insulation point on my workshop so I can do the interior."

"That's fine, sir.  Are you sure you're all right?"  Xander gave him an odd look.  "It's been going around that you haven't treated their team to lunch recently."

Xander grinned.  "I have so.  I did dinner the other night."

"Threw his back getting the ham out of the oven," Speed said.  That got a smile.  "I'm not here begging.  Horatio wanted him home today because of the Mala Noche bust."

"You knew them?"

"I played poker with a few of them," Xander said with a small grin.  "They never tried to cheat, it was nicer than some of the thugs in the circle."

"Uh-huh," the officer said.

"He had this small problem with his high stakes poker games being filled with our underground," Speed told him.  "That's why we made him quit."

"Even better," he decided.  "You're not, right?"  Xander snorted, shaking his head.  "Oh, good."

"I'm a bored housewife," he said with a smirk.  The officer walked off laughing.  "Are my dogs outside?"

"Watching the construction guys, sir."  He closed the door behind himself, heading back to the office to put those rumors to rest.  "Hey, Sarge, he fed them dinner instead."

"He has them over for dinner?"

"Yeah.  Did you hear about his former poker habit?"

"A bit.  I heard there were some of our criminal class there."

"Yeah, Caine told him to stay home today because some of his poker circle used to include the Noches they busted this morning."  That got a moan and a head shake.  "Speedle said that's why they made him quit playing."


Don strolled in with paperwork.  "The Chief dropped it on my desk and walked off rubbing his head when he saw how many arrest warrants we were pulling up.  This looks like your part of the stack."

"Your boy doesn't play poker anymore, right?"

"No.  We made him stop it," he assured them. "Of course, one of the assassins recently paid him in platinum bricks.  One tried to pay him in drugs, that was a great bust when Xander got pissed at 'em for it."

"He helped us?" the sergeant asked.

Don smirked.  "He decided it was helpful and the more he won the less they could use for nefarious or bad plans."

The officer walked off giggling at that.  "He's doing something with dancing trunks, bags, and books, Flack."

"Sure.  Another complaint?"

"Making sure he was all right.  No one'd seen him out for days."

"Oh, okay."  He shrugged and looked at the sergeant.  "If those aren't yours, pass 'em on?"

"I can do that.  Thanks for playing messenger."

"Figured I'd make sure no one had to go that way so far today."

That got a smirk and a nod.  "Not yet.  He went to check just in case."

"Good."  He walked off, heading for his desk again.  "Situation normal."

"Good," Frank said, sounding happy.  "This is great, I'm going to have stats through the roof this month."

"You an' me both," Don agreed happily.  "Seventeen of my cases are now closed."  That got a grumble of noise from Ray.  "Not that many of yours?"

"Not yet."  He shrugged.  "It happens."  He got back to work.  He didn't have the easy out this month.


Xander looked over at Speed when he came back with cocoa.  "You're watching me today?"

"Yup.  I wasn't needed at the lab and it's my day off.  Figured I'd help with the inventory or help you shop for a patio set."

Xander grimaced.  "I need to do the checkbook before I do that."

"More problems with the local guy?"

"Yeah.  Lots and lots.  I'm about to kill him since Steve got detained by the trials against his former boss.  I'd be happier if he moved down here."

"We all would.  It'd be easier to have someone who knew everything doing the day-to-day stuff.  You know, since you're down and not being so clouded...."

"I know.  I tried to go over it last night and it confused the hell out of me.  Plus I couldn't log into my account online."  He frowned and got up, going to grab his keys.  "Wanna head?"

"Sure."  He put down the books he had been stacking.  The dogs and dragon got put back into the house and they took off in the corvette.  "Bank?"

"Yup."  He drove them off, frowning some.  The person at the bank gave him a dirty look.  "I'm finding my local accountant is doing wrong things.  What did he do here?"

"Withdrew about half your account?"

"Not with my blessing or any one else's that I know of."  She relaxed at that.  "I need details of what everyone's done."  She nodded, pulling it up with him.

Speed looked.  "Did you give him permission to do that?"

"I didn't give him permission to do more than pay the bills," Xander said honestly.  "Steve balances my accounts for me."

"We can call him," she offered.

"His former boss is going to trial this week.  I'm not sure if he can answer his phone since he blew the whistle to the Feds."  She gaped.  He nodded.  "Major bad issues up there."  He called anyway, frowning when he got the voicemail.  "Steve, it's me, I'm at the bank.  The guy withdrew money.  Who gave him that permission?"  He hung up and sighed, looking at her.  "I need to file charges I think."

"If you do you definitely will have some time before you get back the money," Speed said quietly.  "It'll be locked during the investigation.  Including this account."

Xander grimaced.  "You know what?  I'm going to go back to ready cash.  Can you get me into the safety deposit box at this branch?"

"We can," she agreed, taking him to do that.  Xander pulled out some money and a few stones.  "You think it'll take that long?"

"No, I think I'm about to prove the rumor that I'm an aspect of karma," Xander said honestly, patting her on the arm.  "Only me, Danny, Don, and Ryan. No one else unless we're with them or you call and authorize it.  Or actually, no, because they have ATM access."

"We can call.  Or you can check online."

"Someone changed the password."

"Oh, damn," she moaned.  She took him back to the office to go over that while Speed got an envelope for Xander for the cash.  She found it.  "Changed by Steve."

"I'll beat him later," Xander muttered.  "Change it for me?"

She nodded, changing it to something he would know.  "There you go," she said, writing it down.  He nodded, putting it into his pocket.  "Anything else we can help you with?"

"If you see him, call the cops.  It'll save his life," Xander told her, standing up.  "Any idea with my investments?"

"I don't know.  We can contact that bank."  She called over there.  "Hi, this is Miss Gold over Mr. Harris's accounts at First Miami.  Yes, him.  No, he's having some issues with his local accountant getting into accounts he shouldn't be able to.  Please.  He's on his way there to see who's done what."  She blinked.  "He shouldn't have had access."  Xander gave her a look and she shrugged.  "Of course, I'll send him right over.  No, he has an officer with him."  Speed nodded.  "I'll send him with what we have as well.  No, he was not allowed to withdraw any money on any account according to Xander.  Please.  Thank you.  Should be about twenty minutes."  She hung up.  Then she swallowed at Xander's stare.  "He apparently withdrew a third of your investments over there."

"Over his dead body," Speed said, standing up.  "Thank you, Miss Gold."

Xander smiled.  "You know, I'm going to be looking for someone new to handle this," he said with a grin.  "Ever think about switching fields?"

"I might," she said with a grin.  "If not, I'll have a good recommendation for you."

"Two other banks recommended him," Xander said grimly.  She shuddered.  "Thank you."  He kissed her on the cheek and took the papers with them out to the car.  He called Steve as they pulled out into traffic.  "Steve, this is Xander.  The guy's withdrawn a lot of my assets recently without authorization.  I need to hear from you TODAY, Steve.  And I do mean ASAP.  Thank you.  By the way, changed the password through Miss Gold so I can get back into the online statements."  He hung up and changed lanes, then streets.

"This is a good case against him," Speed said, pulling out his phone.  Xander glanced at him. "Is he immie?"

"Nope.  Stupid, normal, and in deep shit when I find him."

"Good to know."  He called dispatch.  "This is Detective Speedle, CSI.  I'm on my day off with a friend who's finding someone is accessing his bank accounts illegally.  We need a detective to meet us at ...."

"Miami National."

"Miami National Bank," he reported.  "Please.  That's fine.  We have forms from another one too.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "They'll get a detective routed for you, Xander."

"Thanks.  Does that mean I can't shoot him?"

"Probably not a good idea," he admitted.  They pulled into the bank's parking lot and got out, paying the meter before heading inside.  "Xander Harris to see...."

"Paul Rodriguez had the investments the last I knew," he told the receptionist.

"If you'll have a seat I'll let him know you're here, sir."   She called his office.  "Sir, there's a Mr. Harris here with a friend to see you?"  She smiled.  "Of course."  She hung up.  "He said give him a minute to find the rest of the paperwork you'll need."

Speed nodded.  "That's fine.  There's a detective coming to help us since someone's been in his money without his authorization."  She went pale.  He held up a hand.  "His local accountant.  Not you guys' fault.  It's happened at a few banks."  She nodded quickly.  He looked at Xander.  "Calm down."

"I don't know what he's been doing with it."

"Probably something like his debts; they usually do," Speed offered.  He looked over as the doors opened, nodding the detective over.  Only detectives wore suits like that.  "Hey, Speedle, CSI."

"Morrel, Money Laundering."

"God I hope not," Xander said, looking up.  "Please?"

Speed showed him what they had.  "I said someone for theft," he offered.

"It's our job anyway.   What sort of access does he have?"

"Write a check to pay the bills," Xander said honestly.  "That's all he has.  The contract we signed with him said that's all he's allowed to do.  I have a financial manager on the west coast who oversees everything else.  This guy has canceled my credit cards, he's taken money out of at least two banks.  This one is all investments.  He should've have even known about this one.  He has the checkbook for one account at that other bank."

"Okay," he said looking it over.  "Who're the others authorized?"

"Detectives Flack and Messer, plus Officer Wolfe.  His two boyfriends and his best friend," Speed said.

"We don't expect it with them?"

"I've had craploads of money laying around the house and they only nag for me to put it in the bank," Xander told him.  "I trust my boys and Ryan."

"Okay."  He looked over at the man who came out.  "Here for Mr. Harris?"

"Yes, and we heard there might be an officer here to investigate.  His usual financial manager isn't answering the phone?"

"He narked to the Feds when his boss was doing bad things," Xander told him.  "He's at trial this week.  I'm assuming he can't in the courthouse."  He stood up.  "How much?  We know he's already taken about fifteen mil."

"Close to a hundred of your investments and interest, Mr. Harris."  Xander moaned.  "Come to my office please.  You as well, Officer.  I did pull up his other investments with the other banks that we know about and they're going to call us when they have everything with them so we can conference."

"This goes across how many banks?" he asked.

"Steve has me diversified through six here in Miami, four overseas, and two still in New York, plus two in LA," Xander said quietly, rubbing his forehead.  "So this is what a stroke feels like."  Speed rubbed his back.  "Can you warn them?"  Speed nodded, hanging back to call Don and warn him what was going on.  Then he came in to sit next to him.  "Okay, how is he doing it?"

"Electronic withdrawals," he said, showing them the 'before and after' forms.  "This is in the last month.  We've seen him hacking in for the last five weeks."  He pulled over another form.  "This is that first week.  A tentative one to test I believe.  We changed the account passwords and locked them down but somewhere it didn't take effect.  I don't know why."

Xander counted back then looked at him.  "I know a hacker who's probably still pissed at me.  Let me see if we can figure out if it was her."  He called someone.  "I love you but can you do me a huge ass favor when you're off work?"  He smiled.  "I don't want to get you in trouble, Abby.  I want to make sure that whoever's been hacking into my account isn't Willow.  Yeah, her.  Miami National."  He read off the account number, letting her look.  "You're sure it's local?"  He nodded at that.  "That's my accountant then.  Thank you.  If they yell tell them to yell at me.  Love you.  He's still pouting. I'll try to visit with him for the holidays."  He grinned.  "Thanks, Abby.  I owe you a huge present."  He hung up.  "Unless Willow is possessing him, it's him."

"I'm very sorry we recommended him, Mr. Harris," the bank's person said.  "I had no idea.  He'd been good for years."

"Not your problem.  You're not the only one who recommended him," he said dryly.  "Let's fix it for now."

"Of course."  His desk phone rang and he smiled, putting him on speaker. "Mr. Ellison, we've been waiting for you."

"You didn't get to come beat him," Xander said. "For the last five weeks he's taken at least a hundred-fifteen million, Steve."

Steve gasped.  "How in the hell?"

"Electronically," the local bank rep said.  "We have records here from Miss Gold and I'm expecting records from the other places he has money."

"Oh, damn.  Xander, I'm so sorry."

"I'm going to take his head if the nice detective next to me doesn't," Xander told him, looking serious.  "When are you done?"

"Tomorrow.  I'll be on the first flight down."

"Might check the card since that's where he started on mine," Xander said dryly.

"I can use my own, Xander.   You relax and let me handle this."

"I took some out of the safety deposit box since this might lock the accounts for a few weeks."

A secretary walked in forms.  "Sir, accounts on Mr. Harris from four other banks?"   He held out a hand.  "Are you expecting more?"

"One more bank," Xander said.  "Can I have some water, Paul?"  He nodded and she got it, plus coffee for the detective.  He smiled and she closed the door behind herself.  He sipped the water.  "I don't know what to do," he admitted.  "How much over there?"

"Two hundred total," Paul said.  "Including what Miss Gold sent over, Xander."

Speed grabbed his chest.  "Oh, god, even hearing that hurts."  He took a deep breath, looking at Xander.  He was looking a bit too calm.  "How much is that in relation to yours?"

"Half of what's in Miami.  The ones in New York, LA, and overseas?"

"I don't have access to those."

"I do," Steve said.  "I'll be down tomorrow, Paul.  Can we get all of us together?  Lock everyone out of everything until then?  Bring the detective to the meeting?"

"I can do that," the detective agreed.  The receptionist brought in more forms then left, closing the door behind herself.  "There too?"

He looked.  "No, not there.  I don't know why.  Steve, how did you lock the ones at Dade?"

"Only I had access.  Not even Xander can move those."

"Okay, I'm going to lock the ones here totally under a fraud alert.  That's bank procedure," he told Xander, who nodded.  "That'll let the officers have all the records."

Xander wrote out a simple statement, handing it to the officer.  "If that doesn't work, you let me know."

He looked at it.  "It should.  Thank you, Mr. Harris.  Can I have this guy's name and address?"  His card was found and handed over along with the other information.  "When do you want to meet tomorrow, Mr. Ellison?"

"Six hours from Cascade to Miami.  Early the next morning good for you?  That way I can find all the other information?  In case the trial goes longer?"

"That'll work.  Thank you, sir."  He stood up.  "How do I get hold of you, Mr. Harris?"  He wrote his phone number on the bottom of the statement.  "All right.  Should I talk to your boys, see what they've done?"

"Please," Xander agreed.  "They're going to be pissed too."

"Of course, sir.  I'd be hellishly pissed if it was my money."

"I'm going to cut off his head," Xander said seriously, staring at him.

"I'll try to get there first."  He nodded at the other man, who nodded so he left.

Paul looked at him.  "Let me lock these, Xander."  He did that, putting in the notes section that it was the local accountant.  He was calling in his financial manager for a personal meeting about the not-allowed withdrawals.  Someone called him.  "This is Mr. Rodriguez, how many I help you?" he asked.  "Yes, sir.  His local accountant has been making EFT withdrawals without his permission.  Half of his local net worth, sir."  His boss gasped.  "Over all but one of the local banks.  We've already talked to a detective.  Steve Ellison is coming down in person and we're going to sit down with him the day after tomorrow.  There was a trial going on.  Apparently his bosses ran afoul of some Federal agency and has to testify.  Of course, sir.  That's what I'm doing.  Thank you, sir."  He hung up.  He called Miss Gold.  "Miss Gold, Paul Rodriguez.  Can you lock everything but the account his husbands have access to under a fraud code?"  He smiled.  "Good.  That way they can still use their ATM cards.  One hasn't.  The others have.  Approximately half his net worth in Miami.  Steve's coming down, he wanted to meet the day after tomorrow in the morning.  All of us. I'll contact them.  That's not an issue.  Please.  Thank you, Miss Gold."  He hung up.  "She's agreed and her bosses aren't happy either.  She'll unlock the ATM account she said."   Xander nodded at that.  "Let us handle it, Mr. Harris.  We want to fix this.  This sort of thing tarnishes us all."

He smiled.  "I know it wasn't you."  He leaned forward to shake his hand.  "I'll be at the meeting as well, possibly my boys too."  That got a nod.  "Let me know when."  He stood up.  "Come on, Speed.  I'll get us burgers and we'll go treat the boys."  He walked out with him, still frowning.  "Damn it," he said once he was outside.

"Calm down, Xander."  He patted him on the back.  "They'll fix it and get it back from him if possible."

Xander looked at him.  "There might not be a way to get it back from him."

"That's why he carries insurance."  Xander looked confused.  "They'll tell you about that at the meeting.  It should cover it."  He got them into the car.  "How much did you take out?"

"Six grand.  Enough for gas and food for a good month."  That got a nod and they drove through a burger place.  They parked at the lab, checking the cars.

"Everyone but Eric and Ryan are here it looks like."  They headed inside, him signing Xander in since he had the box of food.  "Page the usual suspects to the breakroom.  We're having an emergency family meeting."  She nodded, doing that while they walked.  Xander put the box of burgers down on the table then got a soda, sitting down in the corner.  Don and Danny insisted when he was in.  The others gave him curious looks as they came in.  Frank came in last.

"Eric, Ryan, and Calleigh?  Since she should probably hear?" Xander asked.

"They're on a case," Horatio said.  "What's wrong, guys?"

"The accountant is worse than we thought," Speed announced.  Danny and Don both went pale.  "He's stolen about two hundred million total from Xander."  Frank gasped.  "Almost all of it by EFT."

"Damn," Ray said, blinking at Xander.  "You're calm."

"I called for a detective.  They sent one from Money Laundering," Speed said.

"If I catch him he's going to be missing his head," Xander told him.  "I'm concentrating on how many ways I can hurt him before I kill him."

"We have Detective Morrel," Speed said.  He pushed the box closer.  "Eat."  They dug in and found their food, eating while they talked.  "He's hit all but one bank and that one only Steve had access to.  Steve's coming down tomorrow as soon as he can after his testimony is done.  They're having a meeting the day after in the morning.  Xander said he's going to be there."

"I can go," Don agreed.

"H?" Danny asked.

"You can go," he agreed.  "I'll put you on-call if we need you," he promised.  Horatio looked at Xander.  "Are you all right?"

"No!"  He shook his head.  "I'm pissed.  I'm going to destroy this guy like I ....  Damn it I can't even think of a method of destruction bad enough.  I did call Abby and asked for a favor so she could make sure it wasn't Willow again."  Don nodded at that.  Danny gave him an odd look. "She stole from my account in New York."

"We've got to contact them," Speed reminded him.

"Steve can," Xander said.  "I have a really bad headache."  Don pulled him over to work on his shoulders and neck, getting a moan but him calming down some.  "Thank you."

Stetler stomped in.  "Having a late lunch?" he sneered.

"We found out his local accountant stole half his net worth," Speed told him.  Stetler gaped.  "So we need to gather all the little times we've had access.  Abby said it came from him, not Willow."

"Unless she's possessing him," Xander said grimly.  He looked at Stetler.  "What sort of need did he have for two hundred million dollars?"

Stetler went pale and grabbed a chair.  "Damn it."

"We have a detective involved," Speed assured him.  "I called for one after the first bank.  It's covering at least five here in town.  Almost all EFT."

He rubbed his chest.  "I'm sorry, Mr. Harris."

"Not your fault unless you did it," Xander assured him.  "I know Ray Junior has a copy of my ATM card for gas and emergencies."  Horatio nodded at that.

"He does?" Speed asked.

"Hmm," Horatio agreed since his mouth was full.

"He used it to get dinner the other night," Danny told him.  "He called first.  His has a daily draw limit of fifty I think unless it's an emergency.  Then he can call and we'll call."  That got a nod.  "That way he can buy plane tickets if he has to."

"That's fine," Speed promised. "Guys?"

"I hit the ATM for gas and breakfast," Don admitted.  "Early call out."

"I got gas this morning and about three days ago," Danny agreed.  Xander looked at him.  "After I had ta get the tank fixed."

"That's fine," he said quietly.  "I'm still so pissed."

"You're pissed!" Don said.  "Hell, I'm pissed and it's going to get someone dead!"

"Let the detective and Steve work first," Horatio ordered, staring at Xander, getting a grimace but a nod.  "He'll be going to jail if we can prove it, Xander."

"You promise?"

"I do.  I also promise that you should get that money back."  Xander nodded.  "What about the other ones?"

"Steve should be handling those personally," Xander admitted.  He handed out money to his boys.  "The ATM account is unlocked but I figured it'd be easier if we lived on real cash."  They nodded, putting it into their wallets.  "Slip Ryan a fifty too just in case."  He leaned forward, resting his head against the table on his hands.  "Now what?"

"Now, we let them meet and figure it out, Xander," Speed soothed.  "Then we arrest the sucker and have him beaten in jail."

Xander smiled at him.  "Only beaten?"

"No, but he's not a big guy so that'll happen automatically."  He stroked over his hair.  "We thought the family should know in case they have to justify any time they had Xander's cards."  They nodded.  "Xander said he canceled some of his cards."

"Try all but my Am Ex and he didn't have access to that one," Xander said.  "I'm wondering if they were shut because he wasn't making payments to it," he said, looking at Don.

"No, I checked, he's been paying off your credit cards each month, Xander."

"We can get new ones," Danny promised.  Xander relaxed at that.  "We'll do that soon."  His boy nodded.  Ryan walked in and looked at them.  "The local accountant's stolen about two hundred mil."  Ryan grabbed his chest, grabbing the counter behind him to steady himself.  "Exactly."

"Okay," he said, gathering himself back together again.  "We have someone investigating?"

"Morrel out of Money Laundering," Speed told him.

"That's their department too," Eric agreed as he came in, shutting the door.  "How much?"

"Two hundred mil," Xander said quietly.  Eric moaned.  He looked at Don.  "How did we pay the contractors?"

"Cashier's check before they started.  Like you did the other guys."  Xander relaxed at that.  "Wolfe, everything but the ATM account is sealed."

"Good!"  He gave Xander a hug.  "It'll be all right.  We'll catch him and make him pray for mercy before we kill him."  Xander nodded, resting against his side.  "Your rep for being a force of Karma will come down on him too," he soothed, making him relax again.  Don took over and cuddled him.  "Now what?"

"Now, this is an FYI," Speed said.  They all nodded.  "We brought lunch anyway.  Figured none of you had left your desk yet."  They smiled and grabbed lunch, heading back to figure out if they had any receipts that Steve might need.  The immies stayed for a minute.  He petted Xander.  "Come on, let's go finish the book inventory.  It'll keep you calm to have the ferrets help."  He nodded, getting last hugs before leaving.

"Anyone here want to hunt the puss sucker down?" Eric said, raising his hand.

"Seconded," Don agreed.  Eric put his hand back down.  "How can we help the detective over it?"

"Do you keep the statements on quick books or somethin'?" Danny asked.

"Yeah.  Steve does too."

"We can get ours to him faster and he can compare ours with Steve's.  Remote log-in?"

"As long as ours is on at home," he agreed.  Danny went to do that.  He looked at Ryan then Eric.  "Do we know this guy?"

"Never heard anything bad about him," Eric told him.

"Do we think Xander's going to make good on his threat?" Ryan asked.

"Maybe," Don said.  He stood up, grabbing a second burger.  "If so I'm sure someone will help him with it."  He walked off nibbling, nodding at his boss.

"Why the family meeting?"

Don swallowed his current bite.  "Xander's local accountant broke into accounts and took a good portion of his money."

"He broke?" he taunted.  "Going back to poker?"

"Took half of it.  Two hundred mil."  His boss choked.  "Yeah, so we're finding out if there's other thefts and day after tomorrow I've got a meeting with the bank people, Xander, the detective, and his higher financial manager from the west coast."  He ate a another bite.  "I'll make up the hours," he said once he had chewed and swallowed.

"Is your boy going to let the system work?"

"As long as the detective gets there first," he agreed smugly.  "Otherwise?  No."  He walked back to his desk finishing the burger.  Because if Xander didn't, he was going to finish the asshole.  He didn't care if he got caught either.

His boss walked into the office then came out.  "Flack, you've got that day off.  Don't worry about hours.  You can have the trial off too."

"Thanks, boss."  He grinned.  "The Chief pissed?"

"The Chief of Detectives said Morrel's a good guy who knows his shit."

"Then I'm all for helping him.  Thanks, Cap."

"Welcome.  Messer?"

"H already gave him it off."

"Good."  He went to take an antacid.  That was enough to sour his stomach without it being his family or his money.  He came out.  "He tied into the poker circle?"

"You know, I don't know.  Two of the banks recommended him.  We did a background and didn't find anything.  So I'm thinking gambling debts outside the poker circle or he's being blackmailed, or he's helping fund another terrorist cell.  Take your pick.  We'll let you know once we do."

"Good."  He went back to his office to take another antacid.  Someone was going to die by the look on Flack's face.  He hoped he made it subtle so they wouldn't have to catch him.  He'd hate to lose the guy, he did good work.  He came out.  "Kowalski, why don't I have closed cases from you?"

"Because none of mine were related back to the Mala Noche bust, boss.  I had normal people doin' bad things."

"Oh.  Well, try anyway."  He went back to his desk.


Xander flopped down once the ferrets were out to help him do the inventory, letting Speed hand him a glass of soda.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  You need the help and cuddles right now."  He sat down to go back to his job of stacking books that Xander had done.  "Where are we?"

He looked.  "Book of the Dead in french."  He pointed.  "That one."  He checked then wrote down the translator's name, putting it into the stack.  Speed handed over some of the loose ones, letting him check and restack.  Then they went over the stacks again, just in case one had been missed.  That trunk was emptied and noted by them, then refilled.  They dumped out another trunk, watching as it kept going.  One of the bottomless ones.  Finally it stopped and they picked books to start with.  "Why didn't I do this sooner?"

"You forgot," Speed said dryly.  "Besides, you had more interesting things to do."

"Probably."  He petted George when he came over to help by curling up on his notebook.  "You're a very good ferret helper, George."

Speed laughed, petting Beauty since one of them was sneaking into his lap.  "She is too."  They kept going, not hearing the back door open.  He looked up to grab his water, spotting someone in the doorway.  "Xander."

Xander looked up.  "You.  I wanted to talk to you."

He pulled a gun.  "Pity you found out."  He shot them both then ran off.

Xander groaned, holding his stomach. "Speed?"  He got a moan.  "SPEED!"  He got a louder moan.  "Stay with me.  Spots!" he yelled as loudly as he could.  They came running in.  "Get the guards!  Get the guards!"  He moaned, trying to stop the bleeding, moving over to help Speed.  He was shot in the stomach too but higher up.  "Guards, now!"  They ran to get the gate guards.  Daddy Don had taught them that trick.  He kept pressure on it.  He concentrated but the phone wasn't coming.  "Shit, he had to use iron," he muttered.  He looked.  Then at the phone all the way across the room.  "No way I can reach that."  He kept pressure on the wound for now.  Gunshot would bring the guards from the gate soon.  He looked down then concentrated.  He had something he could do.  Connor had said something about quickening transfers.  He tried, very hard, to get it into him to heal him.  It wasn't going but he did feel some of the magic responding.  He could try.

The dogs found the gatehouse and bounced around until they noticed no one was in there.  One sniffed and went chasing after the scent.  The other stayed there.  Daddy Don had said they were here.  The one that went off barked when he found one, wagging his tail.

"What are you doing out?" he asked, grabbing his collar.  The dog pulled free and barked, then ran back to the house.  It turned to stare at him.

"I think there's a problem.  His dogs never get out of the yard," the new guard said.

"The contractors...."

"Left at noon today, sir.  We can check."  They nodded, walking that way.  The other dog came out of their shack and growled, barking at them.  "Whoa!"

"Shit, there's a problem," the other one decided, heading for the house.  "Mr.  Harris!" he yelled as he got near the house.

"Shot!" came out of the house.

The guard tried the front door.  Locked.  He kicked it in and the dogs ran inside.  He walked in and saw.  "Let me get someone."

"Get him," he whispered.  "Gonna pass out for a while."  The new guy knelt down to help Speed while he got up and locked himself in the bathroom to die in peace.  They didn't need to know.  He grabbed the phone on the way.  "Speed," he whispered before dying.


Danny looked at his phone.  "Xander's hurt," he yelled, running for the hummer he had for the current scene.  "H, he just said Speed's name before going!"

Horatio ran for his hummer too.  That was not a good thing.  He called Dispatch on the way.  "Tell me what has been called in for Grove Way."  He listened. "The ambulance is for CSI Speedle."  He hung up and called Danny.  "They were shot.  One's locked in the bathroom."  He sped up, turning on his lights.  The Chief could complain, they were halfway across the city.  His neck was heating up but he knew Speed wasn't going to die.  Xander but not Speed.  They finally pulled in behind the ambulance but out of the way, running for the house.  "Speed!"  One of the guards got in his way.  "That's my CSI, move!" he ordered.  He got out of the way.  "Speed?" he asked the paramedic, brushing his hair.

"Fairly bad GSW to the abdomen but he's not bleeding heavily, Lieutenant.  We can't get the other guy to respond or get the bathroom door open.  Can we take him now?"

"Go.  We'll get Xander there if he's that bad."  They nodded and headed.  He and Danny went to kick in the bathroom door.  Xander was dead but healing.  "Get me pliers," he called.  The guards gave him a horrified look.  He looked at the older one.  "You know me."  He nodded, getting him some from the boy's tool belt.  He pulled the bullet out and watched as the lightning came up to heal the injury faster.  The new guard backed up.  "You do not talk about this," he ordered.

Danny knocked him out.  He looked at the older guard.  "Something Xander picked up during one of the kidnapings."

"Okay," he said weakly, swallowing.  "So..."

Xander gasped, holding his stomach.

"Shh, I have you," Horatio said quietly, holding the wound.  "Who, Xander?  Tell me who?"

"Accountant.  Said pity we found out."  He whimpered, curling around his stomach.  "Make it stop!"

"Shh," he said, knocking him out.  "Danny, he's still bleeding."

"Go be with Speed, H.  Clean up first."  He nodded, doing that then heading off.  He got Xander handled, letting him go over again until the wound would heal fully.  He looked at the guard.  "He'll be fine in a few hours."

"That's why he didn't quite get the mumps?  He only got a cold?"  Danny nodded. "How?"

"Something someone gave him.  They're dead for taking him.  I want tapes of when that asshole got here and where he was."  That got a nod.  "No talking about it.  Ever."

"Yes, sir."  He nudged his new boy awake.  "He won't talk either.  Your dogs did good.  One was at the shack and the other came to find us."

Danny grinned.  "I'll let Don know he got it good."  That got a nod and they left.  He went back to helping Xander come back again.  "Shh, I've got you."  He grabbed his hand.  "I've got you, Xander.  You'll be okay."

"Bullet.  Iron.  Coated," he moaned.  "No magic."

"No magic?"


"Oh.  Oh!"  He nodded, looking at the bullet.  He picked it up to look at it.  There was something separating the blood and the metal.  "I'll test it."  He got him into the tub, then threw the rug he was on in the trash.  The blood got cleaned up with a towel.  Don and Ryan rushed in.  "Wolfe, figure out what it was coated with.  Speed's at the hospital!"  Ryan took it and went to run it in the back of the hummer.  "Don?  They said the dogs did good."

"Good!  He okay?"

"I'll be fine, of course I will.  Speed needs us," Xander said weakly.  "Go."  Don shook his head.  "Horatio needs help.  Go!  I'll be fine."

"Fine, but I'm gonna yell later about that."  He headed off.  "Wolfe!"

"Nearly got it!"  He finished running the analysis and nodded, printing it out back at the lab.  "Grab the printout in Trace.  Get it to H now.  The same stuff is coating the bullet that Speedle was shot with.  You have seconds."  He hung up and put everything back then headed off with Don in the front with him.  The guard flagged them down and handed over a tape.  "Who?"

"The accountant."

That got a nod.  "Figures, they found him skimming," Ryan said.  "Lock it down.  No one but family into the Harris household."  That got a nod and they headed off.  He flipped on the lights.  City regs be damned at the moment.  They pulled into the hospital and parked, getting out to run inside.  "H, did you get the phone call?"

"I did."

"Xander said something about it being iron too.  Said something about magic and the phone?"

"He couldn't summon it, that's why he used the dogs," Horatio said, getting it.  He went to talk to the nurse.  "We think the bullet's iron if it helps."

"It could.  They've gotten him stable and they're moving him to surgery now, Lieutenant."  He nodded, heading that way with the others.  "I'll send everyone else up there."  He nodded as he walked.  She looked at the other boys.  "Go ahead.  Make sure you didn't block the ambulances."

"I parked," Ryan assured her, heading up there too.  He called Eric.  "It's me.  Speed and Xander got shot.  Xander's okay.  Speed's headed for surgery.  We're all here but you and Calleigh it looks like.  I printed the coating substance off in Trace since I ran it from the hummer.  The bullet's still there.  I parked.  Handle it."  He hung up.  "He'll be fine, Don."

"I'm more worried about Speed.  Of course Xander will be.  Even if he's going to hunt the guy down and kill him."  They found H and he hugged him. "He'll be okay."

"He's got to be," he said quietly.  "I can't take this again."

Ryan gave him a pat.  "Horatio, Speed's strong.  It wasn't a poison.  It was some of the herbal crap on the list.  He'll be fine.  You told them, they can wash it out."  Horatio nodded.  "I told Eric, he's in charge until we can get back there."

"Speed didn't even get his gun out," he said quietly.

"He wasn't armed at the station," Don told him.  Horatio slumped.  "It was his day off, H.  He was at the house.  It's supposed to be a safe spot."

"The gate guards gave me a tape," Ryan told him.  That got a nod and Horatio straightened up.  "Let me go run it in the hummer.  You call.  We'll be here for Speed.  Whatever we can do.  You know that."  He headed off at a jog.


"H, think.  Xander's going to be fine," Don reminded him.  "He sent me because you needed us and he can't be here to fuss and pace with you."  That got a small smile.  "I'm sure Xander tried to protect him."

"I know."  He sat down, holding his head.  "Why now?"

"The gate guard said it was the accountant."

"Xander said the same thing," Horatio said quietly, looking at him.  "I want him found tonight."

Don nodded.  "We'll let Wolfe verify it then call in the hunt."  That got a nod and he sat beside him, letting himself be the anchor Horatio needed.  Frank rushed in.  He whistled and he came that way.  "He's in surgery.  Iron bullet coated with the herbal stuff."

"Why didn't the boy call!"

"He couldn't get to the phone," Don told him.  "Danny's cleaning up a hell of a mess in the bathroom."


"I think Xander left Speed once the guards got there and locked himself inside," Horatio said, looking at him.  "That way they wouldn't know."

"Too late for that now," Don sighed.  "Danny's there.  He can handle that."  That got a nod and Frank sat down on his other side.  "Iron bullet coated with some of the herbal crap from the list."

"Iron would've kept him from getting the phone?"

"If he tried ta summon it, yeah," he admitted.  "The gate guards said the dogs did good getting them."  Horatio smiled at that.  "We'll figure it out once Xander's coherent, H.  You know that."  He stroked his back, getting a look.  "Filling in for Xander.  How'm I doin'?" he asked with a small grin.

"You mother nearly as well as he does," he admitted.  The nurse came out and he got up to walk over there.  "News on Speedle?"

"He's fine.  The bullet's out.  They're cleaning up the mess it made.  We found more of the coating.  How will it react?"

"We know it lowers immune systems.  Let me call someone.  He found out what it does."  He called him on his cellphone.  "Gregory, Horatio.  Speed got shot with a bullet with some of the herbal stuff on it.  I have a nurse here, she needs to know bodily side effects."  He handed the phone to her.

"Sir?"  She listened.  "The herbal compound of ... that one, yes."  She grabbed a pen and paper to make notes  "Any other side effects?  It's inside his abdominal cavity."  She wrote down something else.  "Anything on blood pressure or anything?"  She nodded, making another note.  "What should we expect when he wakes up?"  He gave her the usual symptoms.  "Okay, I'll hand this to the doctors.  He should be fine, sir.  As long as this doesn't cause an infection."  She hung up and tossed him back his phone.  "He should be fine."

"Tim's a strong man but this is his second near-fatal shooting."

She nodded.  "We'll handle it," she promised, walking off.  She put the note in a plastic bag and handed it to a scrub nurse.  "On the slime that was on the bullet."  She nodded, taking it in there for the doctor to see and deal with.  She came out.  "The doctor has it."

Ryan came jogging back in.  "H, I put out a manhunt order on him.  I did warn that he was using strangely coated bullets.  Anyone shot was to come here."  That got a nod.  "I called Xander, it's slowing him down but not that much.  He'll be here in a few hours."  That got another nod.  "Danny took a more full statement.  They looked up and saw him standing there.  He snuck over from the tree neighbor's lot and in the back door."

"It wasn't locked?"

"It's only got the single knob lock," Don moaned.  "We thought it'd be safe."

"They didn't hear him until Speed looked up when he went for a drink.  They were doing the book inventory."  That got a nod and a swallow.  "Xander couldn't reach the phone so he kept hold of Speed while the dogs went to get the guards.  He said he couldn't summon it or anything with that," he said more quietly, walking him off.  "He kept hold of him until the guards got there, then left it to them while he went to hide so they wouldn't know."

"I figured he did.  He did what he could."

Ryan nodded.  "He did. You know that."  Horatio nodded, swallowing again.  "He'll be fine.  Speed's a strong guy, Horatio.  Remember, he can draw on your strength if he needs to."

"I know."  He nodded at the waiting area.  "Go tell them.  Then get Morrel."

"I called him already," he promised.  "He's joining the hunt and gave the reason behind it.  He's considering it his case since it relates back to the money theft.  He's being put around as considered armed and dangerous.  I did note he had shot Speed.  That he was to be taken alive, but injured was fine."  That got a nod and a grateful smile.  "Hell, I want a piece of him.  Of course you, Eric, and Calleigh do," he pointed out dryly.  That got a brighter smile. "Give it an hour.  He'll be out and he'll be fine.  Xander said he'd do what he could to come up and work on healing the injury."

"Thank you, Ryan."  He nodded, going to tell Don his boy was slowly healing but he'd be fine.  Horatio sent a mental prayer to his God and the goddess over their lives.  "Please let him be okay?  I can't do it without him," he said quietly.  He went to pace in the bathroom for a bit so he could have some peace.  They would fuss him to death soon.  He felt the first break start and turned, finding Don there.  "I...."

"Shh.  He's your soulmate.  It hurts me to watch it, of course it hurts you."  He gave him a hug and let Horatio break down this time.  The guy needed it.  It'd make him stronger for later.


Xander wobbled into the hospital and to the elevator.

"Sir, the ER is straight back," a nurse said, trying to stop him.

He looked at her.  "I'm not injured anymore.  I'm going to see a friend.  He got shot."  She got out of his way and he went back to his wobbling to the elevator.  Danny finally finished parking and followed him. "Do I look that bad?"

"Yup."  He pushed the button Ryan had texted for Speed's room number.  "No magic," he said once they were alone.

"I won't.  Not until I'm stronger and if he needs it."  He wobbled off the elevator and growled at the officer in his way.  "MOVE!"  He jumped and moved.  He wobbled that way, finding Eric.  "You too, move."

"No.  Us first."  He looked at him.  "You look like shit."

"It was coated with the herbal stuff that makes us sick."  He grimaced.  "He okay?"

"He'll be fine, Xander," Ryan said, coming out to walk him over to a chair.  "Sit."

"No!"  He got up and pushed his way in there.  "Horatio?"  Horatio looked over and hugged him.  "Is he all right?"

"He's fine, Xander.  You did the right thing sending the dogs while you kept the wound under control."  He let him go.  "You don't look too good."

"I'll be fine.  I would've been here sooner but I couldn't stand."  He looked at Speed, moving over.  "Hey, you'll be good or else I'll have to pout at God to give you back to us," he said in his ear.  Speed moaned.  "Come on, open the big brown eyes.  Horatio needs you."  He stroked his head.  He frowned and did it again.  "He's got a fever."

"They've started antibiotics," Horatio said, pulling him away from the bed gently.  "He'll be fine, Xander. They're keeping him sedated right now for the pain."

Xander looked at him.  "Let me get a bit stronger.  We'll see what I can do."

Aphrodite appeared in a flash, stunning the others.  "Don't you worry about it, Xander.  We have it."

He looked at her.  "Need some of my energy?"  She shook her head.  "You sure?"

"I am.  We can do it."  He nodded.  "Good boy.  Now sit!  You were shot too!"

"I heal, Lady Aphrodite.  He doesn't heal like I do.  I should worry about him.  It's the guy I am and that's not changing."

"Of course not," Horatio agreed, making him sit anyway.  He was tired of sitting.  He looked at her.  "Thank you."

"Pookie, it's not your time yet.  When it is, you'll be very old and know."  She looked at him.  "That herbal stuff is going to be a problem."

"It was on an iron bullet too," Xander said quietly.  "Mine was a bit rusty."  She nodded and looked up.

Apollo came down, looking at him.  "He's had good doctors.  Let's see if we can move his healing a bit further along."  He looked at Xander.  "You don't look too good either."

"I'll change lives if I have to," he said quietly.  "Need energy?"

"I'm good so far."  He got to work on Speed's body, smiling when he was done.  His blood pressure was dropping.  "Had to skim the stuff off."  He stopped the bleeding and Xander got up, grabbing onto his wrist to feed him energy.  "Well, you do have extra," he said dryly.

"That's why I'm an anchor."

"I forgot about that."  He put a hand on his forehead then went back to Speed's stomach injury.  The herbal crud was sweated out of his system.  The infection was going away.  He pulled back from both of them.  "He'll be fine," he told Horatio.

"Thank you," he said quietly.

"Not an issue.  You make 'Dite happy so she leaves me alone."  He disappeared in a shower of gold sprinkles.

She snorted.  "He wants to be thought of as shallow."

"Not with his jobs," Xander told her.  "He does too much to be truly shallow or mealy minded.  The same as you do."

She pinched him on the cheek.  "I still like you.  Though you need to be in bed."

"I'll heal.  Speed's more important.  Even if I die in here."

"Good point."  She disappeared and unfroze the officers, who all looked confused.

Xander looked down at him, smiling at the barely open eyes.  "Hi."  He pulled Horatio closer to him.  "Look that way."  He looked in the other direction and smiled.  "You'll be okay.  They said so."  He stroked his head.  "Let me get you something to drink, Horatio."  He wobbled out.  "Danny, Horatio needs something to drink.  He's dehydrated."

"You sit and I'll get him something," he ordered, walking off shaking his head.

Eric looked Xander over.  "You?"

"Apollo," he mouthed.  "Plus 'Dite."

"Good."  He sent up silent prayers to them and came to check Xander over.  "You aren't even healed."

"I'll heal just fine.  Speed's more important."  The other officers looked at him.  "He was at my house and we were both shot.  I'm fine.  He's not."

"You need ta be in bed," Danny said as he came back.  He nudged Horatio and handed over the cup of soup.  "Here.  You need it before you argue."  Horatio nodded, sitting down next to Speed's bed and drinking it quickly then throwing out the cup.  He came over to pull Xander up.  "C'mon.  You've seen, you've helped, you've mothered.  You're going back to bed."

"I'm fine."

"I don't give a damn.  You got shot too.  You're going back ta bed!"


Frank coughed.  "Danny, we're still hunting for him.  Let's have Xander here or somewhere safe."

"Anyone check the farm yet?" Ryan asked.  He came over to pull Xander up.  "I'm taking you home.  You'll be watched that way."  Xander shook his head and struggled but Ryan picked him up and put him over his shoulder, making him yelp.  "Then next time don't fight."  He walked him out, taking him down to his hummer.  He found the Chief and Chief of Detectives coming in.  He put Xander down, keeping him from heading back to the elevator.  "Speed's infection looks to be weakening.  The nurses and doctors are all fairly optimistic about what's happened.  They're fairly certain they have all the herbal stuff out and the iron of the bullet won't cause any problems."

"What happened?" the Chief of Detectives demanded.  "And why are you holding him?  Is he a suspect?"

"No, he was shot at the same time.  He should be in bed.  He came to fuss over them."  He walked them outside, sitting Xander down again and glaring until he slumped and stayed.  He looked at his bosses again.  "Earlier today, Speedle and Xander went to talk about some wrong-doing by his accountant with the banks he uses.  They found out he had stolen approximately two hundred million dollars of Xander's money."  They both winced at that.

"After we told the family we went home to finish the inventory since we had gotten a detective to look into it and my financial manager is coming down once his testimony against his boss is done with," Xander said, looking at them.  "We didn't hear him come in.  Or his car."

"He parked at the tree neighbor's house and walked over," Ryan said.

Xander nodded at that.  "Speed looked up to get a drink and saw him.  He shot both of us," he said weakly.  "I couldn't get the phone so I had the dogs get the gate guards."  The Chief nodded.  The Chief of Detectives gave him an odd look.

"He lives in a gated, guarded community and his dogs are well known for having K-9 training," the Chief told him.

"Don added the command to get the guards," Xander said, grabbing his head.  "They got the ambulance and I let them handle Speed for me while I went to clean myself up.  I was too weak to put good pressure on the wound."

"We heard you locked yourself in the bathroom," the Chief said.

"Something one of the things that took me did means I heal faster," Xander admitted quietly, glancing around.  "He doesn't have that."  He showed the wound on his stomach.

"That should be bandaged and you should still be in bed," Ryan warned.  Xander dropped his t-shirt.  "When Horatio and I got there, the ambulance crew was loading Speed but couldn't get to him.  We told them to take Speed.  I processed the bullet Horatio took from Xander to find the herbal crud on it.  We got that to him and the fact it was an iron bullet so he could tell the doctors."

"Greg called me to see what happened.  They asked him about side effects of the herbs," Xander said, sounding even weaker.

"Let me get the hummer so we can get you home," Ryan said, jogging off.

Xander looked at them.  "I did what I could for him without broadcasting that fact," he said quietly.

"Which was the right thing to do," the Chief assured him.  Horatio came out.  "Horatio, how is he?"

"He's healing."  He looked at Xander. "You should not have donated energy for that, Xander."  He looked him over.  "Come on, let's get you home."


"Of course I'll call.  Speed will want to call too.  You can make stuff to fuss over him."  He helped him up and over to the hummer Ryan was pulling over.  "They kicked me out for some fresh air."  Ryan snorted at that, taking Xander so he could head back inside.  He looked at his bosses.  "Ryan did the analysis of the bullet for us and called it to the lab since the hummers print there.  They called me to read it off.  They removed it, some tissue that was infected by the herbs.  Right now we're working on the infection the shot and the other factors caused.  Any idea where he is?"


"Xander suggested you check the farm," Ryan called before sliding in and driving off.  He could nag Xander all the way home and once he was in bed.  Xander defeated that by dying on him for a bit.  So he'd get to nag later.

Horatio swallowed.  "Xander's a bit unique but he did what he could to help Speed until help got there."

"That's something no one needs to know, Horatio," the Chief agreed. "Why isn't he healing faster?"

"The herbs, they're anti-GHS herbs.  On the list."

"Aw, hell," he muttered.  "Speed is?"  Horatio gave him a look.  "I thought he was...."

"Level two."

"Oh, good.  So he'll be fine?"

"He'll be fine with some time.  He's going to be off duty for a while but we'll handle it.  He and Xander can fuss at each other."  He smiled a bit. "Xander will be back later with food for the rest of us and things for him too."  That got a nod.  "I want him found and Xander would like his money back, sirs.  Can I be kept informed?"

"You can," the Chief of Detectives agreed.  "I have a problem with you being in the same lab."

"I don't," the Chief said.  His underling gave him a horrified look.  "Remember the convention?" he said, pulling them further away from the doors and any cameras.  "Horatio goes because he *has* to.  So does Speedle."

"They handle it for each other?"

Horatio nodded.  "We do.  We've been married now for nearly eight years.  We passed our seven year mark eight months ago," he said quietly.  "We were together for a year before then.  I make sure someone else does his reviews."

"I've seen that.  What would the oversight people say?"

"He keeps me from shooting them when they get in my face."  The Chief of Detectives gave him a horrified look.  The Chief of Police laughed.  "I should get back inside.  You can come wait with us, sirs."  He walked that way, heading back up there.  The nurses scowled.  He glared and one backed down.  The other tried to get in his way.  Eric removed her.  "Thank you, Eric."  He walked back in there and took his rightful spot back from Danny.  "Ryan drove him home."

"That's fine.  We trust Ryan to handle him and protect him."  He patted him on the shoulder.  "You need stuff or he need stuff?"

"He could use some pajamas."  He looked at him.  "You can tell Ray Junior?" he asked quietly.

"Of course."  He patted him. "Let me do that.  Three pairs, four?"

"Four just in case."  He nodded, heading out.  Horatio looked Speed over then smiled at the snore he got.  "Good boy, Timmy.  You rest.  You'll need it with the way the family fusses."

Eric leaned in.  "My mother's bringing you dinner, H.  Don't argue, I couldn't.  I called Ryan.  He'll have Xander bring you lunch and dinner tomorrow, once he's better."  That got a nod.  "Chicken's good?"

"Chicken's fine, Eric.  She doesn't have to."

"Yeah," he snorted.  "You can try, I couldn't."  He nodded. "I'm going to check on the office.  Want spelled later?"

"I'll be here," he said.

"Good.  We'll handle it, H."  He left, heading down to the hummers.  He ran into the two Chiefs talking.  "Horatio's left us in charge while he's here.  My mother's bringing him food tonight.  Xander tomorrow.  He's up on the sixth floor, sirs."

"Will he be all right?"

"They said as long as the infection was fought he'd be fine."

"Good," the Chief agreed.  He pulled Eric out of the way.  "This thing that Mr. Harris can do.  Is that the same as you did the year you broke your ankle twelve times on shift and it was only sprained a few hours later?"  Eric muttered something under his breath then nodded.  "All right.  How long?"

"The herbs are the problem or he'd already be fine," he said quietly, looking at him.  "They slow down his healing because of the GHS stuff."  That got a nod.  "By the way, Morrel or someone had *better* find the guy before I or Xander do.  Don and Danny can cheerlead this time.  Xander's my student.  Xander will rip him to shreds then present Horatio with the pieces.  I'll do worse."

"Understood.  We'll have someone check the farm as well since it was suggested."

"Check his ship too.  He has some rooms out there."

That got a nod.  "Who would we contact?"

"I'll call her.  If he's out there, she'll beat him and present him to someone."  He walked off calling the priestess that had come back across the realms with Ryan and Xander from one of their road trips.  "It's Delko.  The accountant guy is dead when we see him.  You see him, you call.  Shot Speed and Xander."  She babbled something.  "That too.  Who came by?"  He snorted.  "You refer them to Steve Ellison.  He'll be in tomorrow night sometime.  The next day they've got a meeting at the bank.  You refer anyone who asks to Steve."  He hung up and got into his hummer, heading back to the office.  He parked and got out, nodding at the guard.  "Speedle will be fine."  He slumped in relief.  "Pass it around.  There's a small infection but they've got him on some strong antibiotics and he'll be fine."  That got a nod and he went to gossip while Eric went into the lab.  "Yo!" he called.  They all came out to look at him. "Speed will be fine.  They got the bleeding contained very quickly.  There's a small infection but they're not worried about it.  H is staying with him of course.  Xander's still injured.  The guy who did this is priority one of this lab until he's caught.  If we get a tip, let us know."

"Who is it?" Valera asked.

"Xander found out his accountant skimmed two hundred million off him."  She grabbed the door frame when her knees gave.  "He came to shoot them for finding out.  Xander's back in bed.  Wolfe is watching him.  I want this guy found by tonight if we hear something."  They nodded, going to call their contacts to give suggestions of where he might be if he was using Xander's properties.

"Has anyone checked either house around his?" Calleigh asked.

"I'll call the gate guards," he promised, going to do that.  "He's fine."

"Of course he is.  He's Speed, he has to be fine," she said quietly.  Eric grinned and nodded.  "H?"

"Momma's gonna feed him tonight.  Xander wobbled in to help the Shiny One heal him a bit further.  His is still open thanks to the herbs."


"Wolfe took him home.  He's got a hummer."

"Good."  She went to butt into the search as well.  Eric went to call the gate guards and have them check.


Xander gasped as he came back.  "Those herbs really do slow you down," Strife said, looking down at him.


"He's fine," he promised, sitting beside him.  "You're about fucked though."

Xander shrugged. "As long as he's okay.  I'll heal.  Even if I die I'm not that scared of it.  Nearly did many times before at home."

Strife grinned.  "Nah, you won't die."  He stroked over his cheek.  "You're exhausted. Your body's worn out."


"Food's good."   He let Ryan into the room.  He had been waiting outside.  "Food?"

"Food."  He went to get the soup out of the microwave, bringing him a cup.  "Here. Food."  Xander sat up with help and drank it.  "Will he be okay?  I've never heard of us healing this slowly."

"It's the herbs," Xander pointed out.  "Them on a blanket is enough to make me sick."  He looked at them.  "Thank you."

"Not a prob," Strife said with a wink.  "Hephie's pleased you're building again too."  He stroked over his head.  "Feel bettah, Xander.  We need you bettah."  He stood up.  "Gotta go report."

"Any idea where the putz is?" Ryan asked.  "Just a hint?"

Strife shrugged.  "I can't find 'im.  He's shielded."

Xander looked at him.  "Like magic, demon, or Godly?"

"Magic.  I know he had a Feddy friend."

Xander smirked. "Thank you, Lord Strife.  I know a good portion of the magically shielded buildings down here."  He nodded and disappeared.  "The map with the purple marks, Ryan."  He finished his soup and laid back down.  Ryan brought it in, looking at it.  "Way back when Buffy had gotten free and we didn't know where she was I did a demon/slayer check of the town.  Those are all the places I couldn't look into to see if they had demons."

Ryan beamed and went to call Eric.  He scanned it in and sent it.  "Get into your email.  Lord Strife said he's somewhere shielded and he has a federal friend.  The purple spots on the map are where Xander found shields when he looked a few years back."  He nodded.  "He's awake again.  He was gone for over sixty minutes this time, Eric.  The herbs are really slowing him down."  He wrote something down.  "We think it'll work?  Yeah, still open.  Not bleeding but still fully open.  I can do that."  He hung up and went to make the poultice Adam had suggested from Chicago.  He was up there talking to another higher level that needed a shoulder to cry on.  He came back with it.  "This'll sting but it'll help remove some of the herbs."  Xander shrugged and took it from him but Ryan took it back and applied it, wincing at the hissing he was doing.  "Sorry."

"It's fine.  I can stand some pain.  I'll nap."  He closed his eyes and let himself pass out again.

Hubert stuck his head in.  Ryan smiled. "He'll be fine," he said at the inquisitive noise.  "Are the ferrets back in the cage?"  The dragon grumbled but nodded.  "The dogs?"  He nodded his head toward the living room.  "Thanks, Hubert.  I'll come clean up the mess in a minute."  That got a nod and the dragon went back to watching over his pets.  Ryan finished the poultice and wrapped a bandage around it.  Then he cleaned his hands and went to see what sort of mess the blood had left.  Two of the books were soaked.  The papers were soaked.  There was a good puddle where Speed had been.  He guessed Xander's had dripped down at the same spot.  He moved the books and papers out of the way, piling the ones that weren't bloody off to the side and went to get something for the blood.  A scrub brush, lemon oil, and a pail for now.  A lot of cool water and the lemon oil being put together and he was ready to start scrubbing.  Eric came in, startling him.  "That back door is too quiet."

"I left it open to get some fresh air in here."  He came over to help him scrub.  "Xander?"

"Still injured.  I used the poultice so I'm hoping it works."

"He'll be fine," he assured him.  "We always are."

"Which is what's tearing him up."

"Speed'll be fine too and nag him into accepting that fact."  He checked the books.  "Think we can get them cleaned off?"

"It's into the pages on one.  The other the whole binding is soaked."

"I'll call Connor, see if he knows how to get blood out of books."

"Call Wesley.  He left a message on the machine earlier.  He was a Watcher, maybe they have someone who does it."

"Maybe."  He went into the office to find his number, smiling when the man answered.  "Wesley, Eric Delko down in Miami.  Yeah, that's why I'm calling.  They were doing it when they got shot, Wesley."  The other man quit complaining about Xander not faxing him that book list.  "Two are covered in blood.  So's the list at the moment.  Xander's healing.  Speed's in the hospital.  It'll probably be a few days.  Is there an emergency?"  He listened then groaned.  "What's the name and what type of book is it?"  He listened.  "Wolfe, see if you can find Gray's Necromancy?" he called.

"It's in a blue bag," he called, bringing it in a minute later.  "Here.  Why?"

"Wesley needs it immediately because someone's using it."  He put it on the desk.  "It's on the desk.  Why?"  It disappeared.  "That's a handy thing."  He smirked.  "That's fine.  When they're better.  His accountant locally that he caught skimming.  Sure.  We're here."  He hung up.  "He'll wait for the rest and he hopes they'll get better.  They had to stop some zombies."

"Eww."  He went back to cleaning, falling to his knees when he saw Ares looking at the books.  "My Lord."

"Why does he have necromancy books?"

"Giles.  During the kidnaping from his mother.  He was using the demon that was feeding off Xander to get them.  Paul confiscated them and sent them to him."

"Oh."  He nodded.  "No wonder he keeps them locked up."

"Is he still in Miami?" Eric asked from the doorway.

"As far as we can tell he is," he agreed. "That map?"

"I gave it to the patrol supervisor.  I didn't give him an explanation, just that the person he had been working for had been looking those areas over.  Was that okay?"

"He's got a daughter who's a wiccan.  He'll figure it out."  He looked at them.  "How's the kid?"

"Healing slowly.  The herbs are keeping it at minimal healing," Ryan reported.  "Adam gave us a poultice recipe to draw some of it out.  I've applied it to the wound directly and he's passed back out."

Ares nodded.  "Good.  Your mare?"

"I was out there this morning and she was fine.  She seems to like the groom Xander hired."

"Out of one of the locked accounts."

Ryan winced.  "He needs paid?"

"Next week."

"Steve will be in tomorrow.  We can handle that," Eric assured him.  That got a nod.  "Anything else we can do to help him?"

"If you're getting the herbs out that's all you can do."  He gave him a look.  "Let the system work.  Too many people already know."

"It was unavoidable," Ryan said quietly.  "The guards were here when we got here.  At least the ambulance crew left with Speed to get him treated."

"They won't talk," Ares assured him.  "The dogs?"

"They did good," Eric promised.

"I gave them a treat once I got Xander into bed," Ryan promised.  "Hubert and the ferrets too.  The paramedics said they were cuddled around Speed's head in their report."  Ares smiled at that.  "Anything else you'd have us do, Lord Ares?"

"No, boys.  You're doing good.  I came to get a sit rep."  He looked at the books again.  "He's got to do something about that.  Hecate felt something evil earlier.  I'm hoping it was one of them."

"It could be or a higher demon," Ryan admitted.  "We've had some migration recently from LA."

That got a nod.  "That's possible as well.  Good job, Wolfe.  You too, Delko."  He disappeared.

Eric smiled.  "Nice to hear."

"Very."  He got back to scrubbing.  "He take the book?"  Eric nodded.  "Wonder if we can do that to Hubert so he quits pouting."  The dragon looked at him and nodded.  "As soon as the daddy is better."  Eric got another brush and came to help him with the blood stain.


Steve came off the plane, looking around.  He liked Miami's airport most of the time.  Today was a bit dreary with the rain.  He walked off to get his bag, frowning when he didn't see Xander.  Or anyone else in the family but he would've expected to see Xander there.  He had been every other time he had come in.  Though, he could be meeting with someone to see if new information had come up.  That was a reasonable explanation.  He went to rent a car and headed off to it, frowning some at the gray overhead sky.  "Lights on today."  He found his car and got in, putting his bags in the other seat while he started the car.  He adjusted the seats, the radio, and the a/c so he wasn't freezing.  Then he turned on his lights and backed out, heading for the house.  It was a nice drive.  Not too bad of traffic this time of day.  He found the right exit and pulled down it, heading to the gated community Xander lived in.  The gate was closed.  That was a bit unusual but he decided it was probably because of the shooting the neighbor had done.  Xander had told him about that.  He pulled up to the guard shack.  "Steve Ellison to see Xander Harris please."

The guard looked at him.  "No one but family is to be admitted to his house right now, sir.  What's the purpose of your visit?"

"Did something happen?"

"You didn't hear that CSI Speedle had been shot, sir?"

"No!  No wonder he wasn't at the airport!"  He shook his head.  "I'm his financial manager, the one who's going to fix the other idiot."

"Let me call, sir."  He called up there.  "Sir, this is the gate.  I have a Steve Ellison here?  Can I see some ID, sir?"  Steve pulled his out, getting a nod.  "It does check out, sir.  Of course, sir.  I'll even send him up with the mail, sir."  He hung up and handed over his mail.  "Mr. Harris is still in bed but CSI Wolfe is up there to protect him."

"They haven't caught the guy?"

"It's the guy you're here to fix," he said.

Steve gaped.  "He did what!"

"Ryan can fill you in, sir," he promised.  "Go ahead.  Their gate is open."  He nodded, driving that way once he had the community's gates open.  He closed them again.  "Looks like a bit too late on that one."  He made a note of that in his log.

Steve parked and got out, walking in through the kitchen.  "The asshole shot Timothy?" he demanded.  Ryan nodded.  "Why?"

"He came to shoot Xander for finding out he was skimming with the help and knowledge of a Federal agent.  Who's still protecting him.  Since we don't have him yet we're guarding Xander."

"Is he not all right?"

"The bullet was coated with some of the herbs on the list."  He stopped Horatio when he came in from showering and changing.  "You can take ten more to eat, Horatio."  He put a plate in front of him.  "Eat both of them and take the bag I'm making for later."  He got a silent nod and Horatio sat down to eat.

"Is he all right, Horatio?  I didn't hear until just now."

"They say he's going to be fine," Horatio told him.  "Thank you, Steve."

"Oh, I wanted his ass before, now I really want it."

Ryan smirked.  "You and a lot of others."   He handed him a softsided cooler bag.  "Dinner."  Horatio smiled and nodded a bit, finishing his fried egg sandwiches.  "We think Xander should be able to come fuss tonight."

"I want him protected until we get him," Horatio ordered.

"Of course!  When I'm not here, there's going to be a patrol sitting right outside the gate."  That got a nod.  "Since I've got the later shift tonight, they can be relieved when Danny gets back since he took early and Don took swing."  That got another nod and Horatio finished the milk too, then took his bag with him.  "Tell him I said to feel better sooner so Xander can fuss."

"I'm sure he will."  He headed out to his hummer, going back to the hospital.  The nurses could frown all they wanted.  He was not moving.

Ryan smiled at him.  "The guy used cold iron bullets coated with anti-GHS herbs."

"So he knew something about magic too?"

"I think the Fed gave it to him.  We're trying to find him too."

"Wonderful.  Who's got the case?"

"Morrel.  I can introduce you on the way in."  He led him back to the bedroom.  "Xander, Steve's here."

Xander waved from his pile of blankets.  "Hi, Stevie.  I'll be fine."

"I'm sure you will."  He came in and gave him a hug.  "Want me to take over with the detective?"  He nodded.  "You look like hell."

"Herbs suck."

"They do," he said, smoothing a hand over his hair.  "Ryan, is there anyway to get rid of them?"

"It's about time to change the poultice Adam gave us."  He helped Xander up and into the shower so he could clean the wound easier then Xander could shower using the plastic lawn chair they had pulled in.  He came out.  "Give him a few.  Let me get a patrol officer here."  That got a nod.  He went to call from the office.  "Dispatch, this is Wolfe.  I'm getting ready to depart from the Harris house.  I need a change of guard.  About half an hour.  Doing a bandage change."  He hung up and walked back there.  "Xander?"  He came out with damp hair.  "Washed it?"  He nodded, letting Ryan put him back to bed.  "Want to leave off the poultice for a while?"

"Please.  It smells worse than demon butts."  That got a smile and a hug.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome.  There'll be a guard outside the gate."

"He can park inside so no one says anything," Xander said tiredly.

That got a nod and they walked out together.  Ryan found the officer parking. "Xander said you could park inside," Ryan told him.  That got a nod and he pulled in.  "The front door is locked, habitually, and sealed shut right now since it was kicked in yesterday so they could get to them.  The back door is unlocked if you need inside.  That's through the kitchen.  Go to the left once you get to the hallway for the bedroom.  He has a phone right beside him."  That got another nod.  "Expect to see the dalmatians now and then for potty breaks.  There's two.  One just bigger than lap sized lizard named Hubert.  Yes, he's intelligent.  Ferrets should be staying inside."  That got another nod.  "This is Steve Ellison.  He was coming down to fix the money theft.  Old friend of the family.  Caine's been here and gone back to the hospital.  We'll be in and out.  Danny gets off first and he'll relieve you about four."  That got another nod.  "Any questions?"

"Medical care?"

"He's awake and able to change a bandage if he needs one," Ryan assured him.  "We know last time the asshole parked on that side," he said, pointing.  "Then he walked through the hole in the wall.  The construction crew won't be in until tomorrow so don't worry about it."

"That's fine, Wolfe.  Any other helpful neighbors?"

"One on the other side shot herself to get away from the noise.  One on the left are all in jail for trying to shoot us."  That got another nod.  He grinned.  "Tree family.  Noise complaint lady," he explained, pointing at their houses.

"Okay.  The gate guard?"

"They'll call or check with you."  That got a nod.  "It's family only right now."  He clapped him on the arm.  "Have a good shift.  You'll hopefully be bored."  He walked Steve back to his car.  "I'll catch a ride with you.  Then take a patrol back to the lab."  That got a nod and Steve got in to drive, putting his bags in the back.  "He'll be fine."

"Of course he will.  He's Xander.  He's always going to be fine if he does feel like shit."  He looked at him.  "Noise?"

"Yeah, Xander said something about sentinels and stuff but he thinks she wasn't, she was just cranky and on drugs."  That got a groan.  "He knows, Steve."

"Good.  Wish I had known earlier."  He backed down the driveway and out of the gateway, heading off with him.  "Which way?"

"Left from the gate."  He made sure he was buckled up.  "We really need to find that Fed."

"Have you asked anyone like Greg to see who has an open case?"

"Yeah, Greg knows.  He said he couldn't find one."  He shrugged.  "We don't know.  I know Eric talked to the Fed over the GHS situation and he was confused too.  He's doing some quiet asking around the building."

"Let's hope we find him soon."   He followed Ryan's directions to the proper precinct and made sure he was immaculate before walking inside with his briefcase.  Ryan smiled, leading him to the right area.  He looked around then led him to a desk. "Detective Morrel?  Steve Ellison."

"Mr. Ellison.  Thank you for coming down.  Wolfe, how's the kid?"

"Still sore and cranky.  We have a guard on the house."  That got a nod.  "I'm heading in for my shift.  Steve knows how to get back to the house.  I filled him in on some of it.  Let us know if we can help more."  He left, calling Eric.  "I'm at Money Laundering.  Who's where?"  He smiled.  "That'll work.  I can do that."  He stopped a patrol, flashing his badge.  "CSI.  I need to hit the scene on East Eighth.  Can I catch a ride?"  He nodded, taking him to his car so he could drive him over.  "Ten, fifteen minutes, Eric."  He hung up.  "Thanks, man."

"Welcome, Wolfe."  He drove him that way, checking around him.  There had been too many attacks on cops so far this month.


Xander looked up as Steve came back. "Hi," he said tiredly.  "Did we find more?"

"Yup.  Closer to three than two with the stuff out of the overseas and New York accounts."

"Are we sure Willow isn't possessing him?"

"I'm sure.  He sent an email to Morrel saying he had federal approval to do this."  He sat down beside him.  "What can I do to help?"

"Make it quit tingling?"

He checked his stomach.  "Xander, that doesn't look like it's healing at all."

"It's the herbs."

"Can we detox you from the herbs?"

Xander shook his head.  "Have to wear them out.  Could be two weeks this time too."  Steve winced.  "I've been injured before.  I still wake up when I die so I'm good."  He grinned.  "The dogs?"

"Playing in the new garage at the moment.  They think it's great fun to play tag among the wall studs."  Xander nodded.  "Want lunch?"

"No, I'm good."  He yawned and closed his eyes.  "I need a nap."

"You nap and I'll watch over you.  I'm not Ryan but I'm not bad."  Xander nodded, curling up on his side with a hiss so he could sleep.  Steve patted his hair, watching as the dragon came in and laid behind him.  "You're very helpful and I'm sure you're making him feel better, Hubert."  The dragon smoked a bit then put his head back down, sniffing his hair.


to part 58: