Serious Playtimes

Xander looked up at the people gathered around a few months later.  "Okay, who's going to LA with me?"  They all raised their hands.  "Guys, it's an apocalypse.  Then the convention in two weeks."

"The lab caved in," Ryan reminded him.  "We're all on leave so we should go help.  They can shop while you, me, and whoever help with the apocalypse."

"Okay," he decided.  "Are we bringing the pets and Ray Junior?"

"Ray Junior is coming to watch all the pets," Horatio agreed, smiling at his nephew.  "He will be good at the convention."

"Of course.  I'm going to have a whole crew of people looking over my shoulder!"  He shook his head, putting the ferrets into their carrying case.  "Someone call Abby and tell her to send Hubert out to LA."

"Already did.  She's having him forwarded to Don Epps.  We can pick him up from him.  I hope I remembered to tell him," Xander said, considering it.  "I think I did."  He shrugged.  "Okay.  We're all packed?"

"All but you," Don called.  Xander jogged into his bedroom to pull down a lot of clothes into his neverending bag.  Then he went to get some weapons too.  He even got some that he had brought home from the weapons warehouse, in case it was needed. Then he came out with it.  He stuck his shrunken main sword carefully into his hair.  "We all here?" he called.  Everyone nodded.  "Calleigh, are you coming?"

"Yup, sure am.  There's a lecture I want to go to next weekend.  This'll save me on airfare and I'm part of the convention protection patrol."  They nodded at that.  Xander turned and concentrated, making a portal.  She closed the back door once the dogs had joined them.  Ryan came out with a bag of food.  "We'll need that?"

"I was taught to show up with stuff," he said.  He checked, the door was locked.  They walked through the portal and out into the Hyperion, finding a not amused Angel and a very amused Fred.  "Hi.  I brought dinner.  Xander's a fantastic cook."

Fred beamed.  "Tacos?"

"Pot roast, a few pork loins, and a beef dish I'm not sure about."  He handed them over, kissing her on the cheek.  "How are you, Fred?"

"I'm good."  She went to put them into the kitchen and came back to look.  "Come on, puppies."

"Spots," Don called. They came through.  Ray came through last with the ferrets: his and Horatio's.  "We all here?" Eric checked then brought the three bags, grimacing at Xander's.  "Is his heavy?"

"Kind of."  He handed it to Xander, who shrugged.  "What did you pack?  Those negate the weight."

"Weapons."  He grinned at Angel.  "You have an apocalypse and then I have a convention."  He gave him a hug.  "So we'll go check into the convention hotel and be back later so those of us who're helping are briefed."  He bounced off.  "See you in a few hours!"  He went to get them cabs.

Horatio nodded at him.  "He'll be helping; some of us will be waiting to patch people up or as backup."

Angel nodded. "Sure," he said, nodding at that.  Everyone, even the dogs and Fred, left.  He looked at Wesley.  "Don't you dare smile."

"We have a high priest to Strife, one to Ares, and then a few others who are very skilled with swords, Angel.  It can only help."

Angel walked off groaning in displeasure.  This was not his year!


Xander bounced into the Federal building, smiling at the receptionist.  "Hi, I need to pick up something from Don Epps, up in the FBI.  Is he in?"

"He is, sir.  Let me call up there.  Your name?"

"Xander.  He'll know."

"Okay."  She called up there. "Agent Epps, there's a young man named Xander here who said he's supposed to pick up something from you today?"  She looked at him.  "He wanted to know what."


"He said it was Hubert?"  She frowned.  "A child?"

"My baby dragon."  He grinned.  "He might with someone nice smelling.  He would've come from Abby and Garcia out in DC.  He was visiting some friends."

She repeated that and got put on hold.  "Give him a minute to check with someone.  Just in case."  He came back and growled.  "That's fine, sir.  He's here.  Thank you."  She hung up.  "He'll be right down to take you to him."

Xander beamed and nodded, bouncing some.  Don came off the elevator and frowned at him.  "Left him at home?"

"No, he got sent to Charlie instead of me.  He's been there playing with Larry and trying to figure out Charlie's hair all day."  He gave Xander a shove toward the door.  "Did you drive?"

"Nope, I cabbed.  We're in to help Angel with something and then the convention in a few weeks."  He beamed at him.  "Most of the lab is since it caved in."  Don groaned.  "We'll be good."  Once they got outside he smiled at him.  "Don't worry, the apocalypse coming up isn't going to be that bad.  That's why I'm here, to make sure of it."  He patted him on the arm.  "So, is your brother nice?"

"Very."  He led him to his SUV, getting him inside so he could take him over there.  "They let you out here alone?"

"I'm from Sunnydale.  I ran to LA plenty of times, Don."

"Fine," he muttered.  "As long as you're careful."

"Of course."

"Are you armed?"

"Yeah.  I've got my sword in my hair and two guns magically concealed on my back waistband."  Don gave him a look.  "They are."

"I don't want to know," he decided, heading off toward the college.  "Who else is in?"

"Calleigh, Ryan, and Eric are the protection patrol this time.  Horatio and Speed are up, plus Ray Junior's going to his first convention.  All our ferrets, both dogs, Hubert, Danny, Don, Ray, and Adam.  Oh, and Stella and Mac will be up in a week.  They couldn't come up for the apocalypse but they're helping do the patrol at the convention.  LAPD said they didn't want to hear about us."

"I heard about the storm that damaged one lab."

"No, it got both labs and another station too," he said, nodding a bit.  He waved at someone in a car that he knew, getting a horrified look.  "That could be a problem."


"That was my uncle."  He grimaced.  "I hate the family."  He looked at him.  "Why did they send him to your brother?"

"He showed up and cuddled Megan.  She freaked out."  He got off the highway, heading down toward the college.  He saw Xander looking around.  "You can go."

"I'm not sure if I can or not.  I sucked in school."  They parked and he got out, following Don, smiling at some of the pretty coeds.  He walked into the building and sneezed.  "Chalk dust.  Been a while."  Don gave him a look but led him to the floor with offices.  He knocked on a door and walked in.  "Aww, is his hair like mine when I braid it wet?"  Hubert nodded, going back to nosing and pawing through his hair.  "Gently, Hubert."

"He does have a name," Charlie said dryly.  "You are?"

"Xander Harris."  He shook his hand. "I don't know why they sent him to you.  They were supposed to send him to Don since we were leaving today."

"Megan had David drive him over.  He wasn't sure about anything except the dragon belched Chinese food," Larry told him.

"He likes teriyaki anything.  Prefers chicken or beef though."  He picked him up.  "Oooh," he groaned.  "Another growth spurt, Hubert?"  The dragon gave him a smug look.  "You keep growing and pretty soon we won't be able to cuddle you."  He nuzzled his neck. "Were you polite with the new friends?"

"He was very polite," Larry said with a grin.  "What species is he?  The biologists couldn't figure that out."

"He's a baby dragon.  I found him off-plane during a road trip."  He looked at him.  "Ready to go back to the hotel?  You have Ray Junior and all the ferrets in both families to play with."  He snuffled Charlie's ear then waved at Larry, letting Xander walk him off. "Thank you for dragon sitting for me!" he called as he walked off.  "I hope he wasn't any problem."

"No, no problem," Charlie called after him.  "Off plane?"  Don shrugged.  "Can we talk to him?"

"If you can get him to make sense.  He's the one I followed around the New York convention."

"Oh!" he said, sitting up.  "Okay.  That makes a lot more sense now."  He grinned.  "He was a well behaved pet."

"He was," Larry agreed.  "A bit strange with the hair thing he had going.  He let his pet wander?"

"Two female friends in DC wanted to pet and cuddle him and apparently Hubert was moping.  Got that from the email Abby sent me."  Larry smiled, he had liked writing to Abby about a case.  "So they sent him to me but Megan freaked out when he tried to cuddle her."

"He was a very good cuddler," Larry told him.  "Very gentle, didn't claw me when he kneaded my thigh.  Very polite.  He grumbled and pointed at the food to ask before snatching."

"They have ferrets too?" Charlie asked.  "It seems like it would eat them if it eats meat."

"No, he said Hubert's a great ferret wrangler."  He sighed, shaking his head.  "The convention's starting early this year and I keep hearing the world apocalypse about the week before it so we'll see what's going on."  He walked out, finding Xander letting a pretty girl pet him.  "Won't they mind?"

"He liked her."  He shrugged and smiled at her.  "Come on, Hubert.  Don misses Hubert cuddles too.  He's going to be impressed with how big you've gotten since you went visiting."  Hubert nuzzled the young lady's leg, getting a laugh before walking off with him.  "He said thank you for the nice pets."  He grinned at Don.  "I made sure he had good manners."

"Larry said he asked before he snatched food."

"In human?"


"Oh.  We're still trying to figure out if he'll end up speaking English or something."  He shrugged but grinned down at him, getting a strange look.  "What?"  Hubert shook his head, walking off faster. "Fine, be that way then.  We can go see Angel and Fred later.  Ryan brought Fred some food."  Hubert perked up at that, staring at the SUV.  "The black one."  He walked over to that one and sniffed then waited patiently for Don to open the door and Xander to heft him inside.  He snuffled both of them then laid down on the seat.  "Thank you, Don."

"Welcome, kid.  Which hotel?"

"The convention hotel."  Don gave him a look.  "The Excelsior."  He nodded, heading that way.  "I wonder if this is where Calleigh's lecture is."  He looked back.  "Comfy?"  He nodded.  "Good."  He smiled at him.  "He missed Garcia and Abby.  He walked around the house pouting about missing them.  Plus that was while I was healing from being shot."

"You got shot?"

"Yeah, my accountant was skimming with the help of the Fed who was at the convention with you guys.  He shot me and Speed for finding out.  But we're fine now."

"Good.  That's good."  He pulled back onto the highway.  "Why would he go see Fred for dinner?"

"Ryan brought food for them so he wouldn't seem like an ungrateful person who was coming in to help them save their own asses - and everyone else's.  Plus it kinda flustered Angel since he hates to think I can do anything good.  He kinda sees me as helpless and a buffoon.  Not that I wanted his girlfriend but he thought I did.  The asshole vampire is not fun to deal with."

"Vampire?" he asked.  He reached up to turn off the camera.  "What is going on this time?  Apocalypse?" he asked when Xander opened his mouth.

"Sometime next week or next weekend we'll be having a slight apocalypse.  A small demon invasion we think.  So we've come to help with that.  Ryan, Adam, and I are all good at that stuff so we're going to help.  Horatio and Speed needed the vacation.  Don and Danny can help if we think a lot of them will be burnable or shootable.  We're not sure yet.  Only Wesley and Angel know so far so we needed to talk to them to see what's coming.  Oh, Horatio said if and when I ran into you I had admit to bringing stuff this time because of the apocalypse but he knows what I brought and it's not that dangerous, plus it's locked in my bag."



"Like guns?"

"Well, a few.  A flame thrower.  A few other things.  Probably useful.  I'm only going to use them if we have to against the building or against a horde of demons."  He grinned. "So, how have you been since the New York convention?"

"Nice change of topic," he said dryly.  "I need to know more about this since it's going to endanger my city, Xander."

"We'll be going to see Angel tonight for a briefing.  I guess you can come."  He found his phone and called Ryan.  "It's me.  Don wants to come to the briefing.  When are we going?  Okay, we can do that.  Did you bring my bag?"  He grinned.  "Thanks."  He hung up. "Head to the Hyperion.  We're meeting back there now that we're all in the other hotel."

"Sure."  He headed that way instead.  He remembered where it was from the slave auction problem.  He pulled into the parking lot, looking at the rental cars.  "All yours?"

"Possibly."  He got out and let Hubert out.  "Come on, Fred's inside."  He walked that way, snuffling Ray Junior's leg.

"Hey, Hubert."  He petted him.  "Come meet Fred since you like girls."  He walked him that way.  "Fred, this is Hubert, Xander's not so baby of a baby dragon."

"Awww, he's so adorable!" she cooed, reaching down to pet him.  "Such a cutie!"

"He uses it to suck up food."  Xander walked in.  "Don said he needed to know too, Angel.  If it's going to endanger the city he wants to.  Plus he's had to deal with Sunnydale investigations before."

"Whatever," he said.  "You know, I'm sure the slayers and witches can help without you."

Xander snickered.  "Sure, you do this without the chosen warrior of Ares and the high priest to Strife, dude.  Really."  Angel moaned at that.  "And the weapons I brought."

"We have swords."

"I can take down the building they'll be coming out of."

"Good point.  You do know explosives."  Xander took his bag from Horatio, pulling out something.

Don watched.  "How did you do that?  It can't possibly fit in there and there's no way that shrinks or collapses."

"The bags are like that," Ray Junior told him.  "They're pretty much bottomless as long as you can fit through the opening.  Even people."

"It's helped get Xander out of places in the past," Ryan agreed from his seat with the magazine.  "Hey, Hubert, Speed has dragon cookies."  Hubert looked for Speed then went over to nuzzle and nudge him until Speed smiled at him.  He gave him a begging look.

"Say please," he said with a smile. The dragon huffed, his tail swishing gently.  "Good enough."  He dug out the bag of cookies, handing him two.  He scarfed one and carried one back to nibble while Fred admired him some more.  He handed Fred the bag.  "No more than three more or he gets hyper.  A bouncy dragon is not fun to handle in the middle of the night."

"Okay."  She went back to petting him.  "You have beautiful scales."  He preened at her.

Don Epps shook his head.  "I thought Xander was the strangest thing I'd ever run into."  Xander gave him a hug for that compliment.  "Get off!" he complained without heat.  "Any more like that weapon?"

"Yeah, a few," Xander agreed.  He looked at Angel.  "So, when?"

"Saturday or early Sunday.  We think.  The time code's strange."

Xander grimaced.  "I've been having the repetitive nightmare syndrome.  It shows almost no one there.  Buffy, you?  Slayer dreams?"  He had been ignoring her but they needed to know.

"Not a lot of people but a lot of demons.  Like blocks of demons."

Xander nodded.  "I have flame throwers too."  He clapped his hand.  "Do we have a field plan?"  Angel nodded.  "Where do you want us?"

"Your hotel," he said.

Xander snickered.  "Sure.  Actually, our hotel...  Adam?"

"About six blocks away," he admitted.  "I've asked Vesvold, they can shield it for us."  That got a nod.  He pulled his sword. "Some of us have fought these battles for a very long time," he said dryly.  "Where do you want us?"

Angel stared at him.  "Me...."

"Adam," he corrected patiently.  That got a quick nod.  "The same as Xander is my protege.  I found him and trained him.  Then we worked on his *other* training."

"You and the dance teachers, plus Ryan," Xander agreed.

"And Ares," Ryan reminded him.

"Yeah, and Ares.  He kept weeding out my berserking tendencies."   He looked at Angel.  "Where?"

He'd have to give in to the inevitable with that sort of resume of teaching.  "Want a side or middle?"

"Middle.  With what I am I'm damn hard to kill anymore."  Angel gaped.  He waved a hand at Adam, who nodded.  "I'll take middle with Ryan.  Adam can take an edge and guard it?"  Adam nodded.  "Anyone who needs the weapons they can be near him.  That good, Adam?"

"That's fine," he agreed.  "Oz is coming as well."

"Haven't seen Oz since the parallel universe thingy in the hellmouth," Xander said happily.  He looked at Angel again.  "What block?"

"Say three blocks back," he said, pulling out a map.  "Here's Wolfram and Hart.  They're coming out of there, we think.  You and Ryan can get here.  Conceal until they show up.  If they take another route, run."  That got a nod.  "Anyone who has the harder weapons and wants to help can use the edges and move toward the building."  That got a nod from the others.  "What else do you have?"

"If we have to drop the building, I can do it three ways.  I can also take out a horde of them running toward me," Xander told him.  "Don't worry about it.  I have shit."

"Good.  Fine.  Buffy, I want you near where Xander is.  Do you think you can work that while Willow and the other witches help stem the tide?"

"Sure.  Xander?"

He shrugged.  "I don't care."  He didn't look at her, studying the map.  "Where are they heading?"

"Food.  Anything that moves."

Xander pointed at something.  "Food source in a mall.  Food source in a park. Food source in the touristy areas.  Are they going to be heading for a particular way?"

"No."  He shook his head.  "Some may split off.  I'm taking the next block up and moving my way up."  That got a nod.  "Move toward the building.  We don't want them to get past us."

"Any particular type?" Xander asked.  "Are flame throwers going to work?"

"On about half of them.  They're opening a general portal."

"You know, that's kinda dangerous and they'll have to link it to something huge to steady it.  I have to focus mine and I can't make them that big or hold them for very long."

"They've been storing energy for decades," he told him.  "You can create portals?"

"Yeah.  That's how I go on road trips."  He grinned.  "Plus how we got here.  How did you think the portal worked?"

"I thought maybe Wolfe asked."

"No.  He makes mine," Ryan told him.  "He can't do much magically but he can do that and small spells.  How hard would it be for a normal person to disrupt it, Xander?"

"Disrupt it?  Take out the edges of it.  Whatever it's anchored to and it'll twist.  Um.... firing into it might keep some of them from coming out.  I don't know, Ry.  Do you think you can get a shot at that range?"

"Probably not until we get closer. Depending on what they're using."  He shrugged.  "We'll figure it out.  The bags are light enough to carry with us and hidden inside our shirts they probably won't be hurt or damaged too bad."  That got a nod.  "Did you pack my main sword?"

"It's in the bag.  I got yours, Adam's main and backup he had at the house, Don, Danny's."  That got a nod from them.  "Ray, I want you guarding the pets."  That got a nod.  "Plus your uncles."  That got another nod from the parties involved.  "Horatio, if you have to, the hotel isn't that far away.  I want you to head the back way and fire at the portal if we have to.  I'll call or text."

"Agreed.  Leave me something I can use."

"Of course."  He grinned.  "Why would I do otherwise?"  He gave Angel a look.  "Okay, anything else?"  Fred suddenly giggled so he looked over.  "Hubert, those are girl parts.  Dragons don't have those because you hatch from eggs.  We don't hatch, we're pushed out alive and have to eat from the mothers.  That's what those are for."  Hubert looked at Fred, who nodded.  So he cuddled them instead.  "He's growing so fast," he sighed.

"He can go back to the dragon land once he's too big," Ryan promised.  "We can make sure he won't be bothered.  Take another mystical road trip."  That got a nod.  "Is it just us?"

"We have a few slayers.  Willow heard about this one and activated the next few in line," Buffy offered.

Xander nodded.  "That's cool.  Are they trained?"  She shrugged.  "Have them do the back edge and work their way in, Buffy.  Less chance of death that way and very little is getting past us."  She nodded.  He looked at Angel.  "How will we know?  We can't hang out with weapons for very long or Don's people will show up."

"There'll be a small earthquake," Wesley said.

"From the portal?"  That got a nod.  "How many have we had?"

"Three.  This one shouldn't be substantial but a good size. That could be what makes people absent from all the portents.  By the way, Xander.  Thank you for the inventory of what you have."

"Not an issue.  If you need something yell and I'll photocopy or whatever."

"He can have any of the dead things books," Don ordered.

"Well, yeah, anything in the dead or dying magic books is yours.  I keep them in a trunk for a reason."  That got a smile and a nod.  "Why didn't you cut the head off the zombies?"

"We did but we had to stop the main creator, who was himself a very old zombie.  We needed the dissolving potion."

"Two parts egg yolk, one part hen's blood, one part lemon juice, and one part cedar bleach?" he guessed.  "That's what I used last time."  Horatio gave him an odd look, his hands drifting up to his hips.  "It was wandering around!  I didn't want it to bite someone!"

"We used cedar oil," Wesley told him.  "Did the bleach work?"

"Fairly well and it made sure it didn't leave any dead thing germs behind."

"I'll have to try that next time."  He wrote down the recipe.

Angel shook his head, looking at Horatio.  "How do you put up with him?"

"He's like my son," he said firmly.  "It's not that hard as long as you try to understand and him and respect his mind."  He quirked an eyebrow up.  "You never saw the wonderful young man he is."  Xander bounced over to give him a hug.  He smiled.  "You're worried about what?"

"Saw my uncle on the way to pick up Hubert."

"They tried to get a judge to make you support them," Willow offered.

"I haven't gotten any legal paperwork and they can't do that without me being represented."

"They had a Sunnydale judge," Willow told him.

Xander looked up then at Gunn.  "Know someone I can hire?  Before I have to kill them?"

"Yeah, I can do that."

"Kill them?  No, that's my pleasure."

Gunn snickered.  "I'll look to see what they've done, Xander.  I owe you after you got me that thing for Christmas that let us save Fred."

He shrugged. "I figured it'd come in handy.  It was a present.  I'll pay you the going rate so you can have fun stomping on the stupid ones."  He looked at Horatio again.  "What're we doing for dinner?"  Hubert looked up from his cuddling.

"We'll get food back at the hotel."  That got a nod.  "Anything else we need to know?"

"No, it's pretty well all we do," Buffy admitted.  "How did you guys find out?"

"One of my poker buddies told me right before he committed suicide in Federal custody," Xander told her.  "He was a Mala Noche and he had some pretty strange contacts."  He looked at Hubert.  "You coming with us to play with the ferrets?"  He nodded, sliding off the counter to go with them.  "Who're we riding with?"

"Me," Don said, smiling at them. "Good to have you back, Hubert.  I missed you snoring in my ear during the news."  He walked them out.  "See you in a few days, guys."

Xander picked up the weapons, putting the launching tube back into the bag on his way out the door.

Don pointed.  "Is it always like that?"

"Only with Harris around," Angel told him.

"Why me," he muttered, heading out.  He had to warn people about this.  He watched them head off and went back to the office, staring at Megan.  "The dragon was very polite to Larry and Charlie."

"He still tried to nuzzle my breasts!"

"He was hatched, he doesn't know what they're for.  He probably thought they were fatty pillows."  He sat down.  "Harris is in."  They all moaned.  "Along with most of Caine's shift in the lab."  He looked at them.  "Saturday, something's going to happen.  It's going to be bad.  Don't interrupt and take cover if and when it does."  They all gave him odd looks.  "Don't ask.  I had to talk to Harris and that Angel guy again."

"Are you okay?"

"He pulled a small missile system out of a carpet bag."

"It won't fit," she said.

"It did fit.  All the way inside.  I was told that they can hold anything you can put inside it and it's bottomless.  Plus where Hubert came from a road trip off plane."

"Off...."  She laughed.  "Good one, Don."

"Not joking," he said.

"That's impossible.  Even Larry said that's impossible."

"So's that Angel guy and Harris."

"Oh.  Well."  She shrugged.  "Ask Charlie and Larry?"

"I'm going to get the bag for them to look at.  Hubert liked playing with Charlie's hair.  Oh, the LAPD does not want to deal with the convention in two weeks.  That's why most of Caine's lab is up."

That got a nod from Colby.  "Better than us, right?" he offered with a grin.  Don gave him a look.  "Oh, come on!"

"No.  If they need it, we have to respond since we know.  It's at the Excelsior."

That got a whine from Megan.  "Must we?"  Don nodded.  "All weekend?  I have a date with Larry."


"Damn it."  She pouted.  "Is Charlie going?"

"He knows some but he never said anything about disappearing that weekend."

She huffed and went back to her work on her last case.  "Are you calling in support from the others?"

"Some of them.  The guy from Miami ended up being dirty."

She groaned.  "Oh please tell me that wasn't the agent involved in that horrible money scheme?"

"Nope, it was Xander's money.  Heard that from Fornell."

She banged her head on the desk.


Gunn showed up the next day while Xander was out getting some sun.  "The judge decided that the public defender they hired to represent you was good enough."

"That's illegal."

"I know that."  He handed him something.  "Sign.  Date.  We can file a protest."  Xander read it over and signed then handed it back and a small folded wad of money.  "Xander...."

"You're doing the work.  Don't whine at me.  What else am I going to do with it, shop?"  Gunn snickered. "Thanks for keeping the two teams apart."

"Not an issue.  Wes thought it might be a good idea.  He knew something went down with you and them."

"Buffy got drunk at a frat house and ended up in a dog pile.  She blamed me for not saving her.  Her mom blamed me for not being in the frat house.  She tried to have me charged with rape."  He sipped his water, weathering the horrified look.  "Yeah.  This was after they told me not to come home, ever.  Then they came down after Willow tried to hack my accounts in New York, took some money, and blew up my car in Miami.  Tried to blow up Danny's car too.  Buffy claimed she was still drunk and Willow had cameras all over my house to catch film of us having sex.  She was trying to make a tape to sell online."  He took another drink.

Gunn shook his head quickly.  "Damn.  When you guys had issues...."

"She really had issues.  Yeah."  He put his water down.  "How long do you think it'll take?  I don't want them at the house in Miami."

"You willing to pay them off?"

"No.  I'm willing to pay someone to kill them.  Someone might be able to talk me into it but not this morning."

Gunn nodded.  "Then we'll see what we can do.  The challenge won't take that long to get to.  There's not that many judges who handle cases that come from there."  He stood up.  "Let me file the challenge.  You sure?"  Xander nodded.  "Thanks, man."

"I do for my friends and true family, Gunn."  He smiled and left.  Xander went back to his lunch, looking down at his dogs.  "Good boys."  They both stared at him until he tossed down pieces of his sandwich for them.  They caught it in midair and put their heads back down.  Xander stretched and whistled at someone he recognized, waving her over.  "Hey, Melissa.  These are my dogs, Spots."

"Hi, boys," she said, petting them both.  "What are you doing in town already?" she asked, sitting down.

"We had a small storm down in Miami that took out most of the family's lab so we're here early for the convention and an issue coming up that they needed help on."

She stared at him.  "I'm a slayer, Xander."

"I'm from Sunnydale."  She gasped and stood up.  "What?"

"You're the one who hurt her!"

"No, I wasn't even in town when she got drunk at the frat house.  Nor was I the one who was making her get drunk at the frat house and act irresponsibly since she called off patrol for it from what I heard.  I was in New York when that happened."

"He's right.  I was blaming him for my own stupidity," Buffy said.  "Calm down, Melissa."  She looked at Xander.  "I was stupid and hurtful."  He nodded.  "I'm sorry."

"Apology accepted."

"Will you come home?"

"No.  My life and my family is in Miami now.  My boys are employed down there.  Horatio and Speed are like my dads.  No."  He shook his head.  He was feeling something from her but he couldn't be right.  "How's the old town?"

"Not good.  Not too bad but not too good."  She sat down and sat Melissa next to her.  "I was blaming him for my problems.  He wasn't in town."  Melissa slumped.  "Who told you about that?"

"My watcher."  She looked at her.  "He said I'm inadequate."

Xander snorted.  "Melissa, none of us are going to live for the training and the hunt.  If he thinks you're that bad at it  they can make your skills pass on without killing you."

"He's threatened to a few times but he was planning on stabbing me," she said quietly.

Xander gave her a look.  "Is he your protector?"  She nodded.  "No.  Get away from him.  Far, far away from him."  She nodded at that.  "We'll talk about it at the convention."

"He said I can't go."

"You bring him here," Buffy said.  "If you need this convention to be healthy and sane he can't stop you."

Xander sighed.  "It's probably deeper than that.  Has he made a play?"  She nodded, blushing.  "Charge him with it."

"I'm too old."

"If he's forcing himself on you, there's no age limit," Xander said.  "Even with what we are, we still have a choice.  We're not concubines anymore and he doesn't own you.  You talk to Horatio.  He's a cop and he can tell you *everything* you're able to do about him."

She nodded.  "I can do that.  Sorry, Xander."

"Not an issue."  He looked around.  "There's Speed.  Speed?"  He looked over and waved.  "Where's Horatio?"

"Behind me.  He'll be right down."  He came over, smiling.  "Hi, I'm Tim Speedle."

"Tim, this is Melissa, and Buffy."

"I remember," he said.  He smiled at her.  "We missed the last convention," he said quietly.  He would ignore the felon since it was important at this moment.  She smiled.  "Was Xander a good help?  Horatio and I helped mentor him."

"Very much.  Um...."

"He can help you too," Xander assured her.  She nodded, going with him.  "He does know, Melissa.  You can tell him everything."  She nodded.  He reached down to pet his dogs, earning dual laps.  He looked at her again.  "So."

"So," she agreed.  "You're really happy?"

"Very.  I have a good life.  I'm bored about half the time because I don't do a whole lot but I'm getting back to things."

"I kinda know about Melissa and what she does."  Xander shrugged. "You're like her?"  He nodded.  "Are you sure you're okay?"

"I'm good.  My boys love me. My family is very special to me," he assured her.  She nodded.  "I hope you have a long, good life, Buffy."

"Thanks, Xander.  It means a lot to me."  She got up and walked off, going back to the Hyperion.  She had to think.  She had screwed up so badly in the past.  There was no going back over it.  Willow saw her and gave her a hug.  "He accepted my apology."

"That's good."  She sat down with her to cuddle her.  She needed it.  "Where's Melissa?"

"Talking to the redhead and dark haired guy Xander brought with him about that group's stuff."

"At least she's got a good mentor.  Xander's always been a good leader.  Look at graduation."  She got a nod and they cuddled.


Xander looked at the demons pouring out of the building.  "Aw, fuck me," he sighed.  "Ry."  Ryan looked over and they moved to intercept.  "This is not good!"  He concentrated on the building.  "We need to bring the building down!" he called to Adam as the first ones reached them.  He nodded, calling Horatio while he worked on the sideline.  Ryan and Xander were working their asses off, Buffy and Angel up the road from them.  Xander finally had enough and pulled out something, throwing it ahead of them.  "Duck!"  They all ducked and it went off, spreading a fire spell over the heads of the demons.  They screamed as they burned and he went back to it.  Ryan followed, moving up with him.  They were going to have to fight step-by-step this time.  He saw Horatio go speeding past on another street.  He saw others joining in, nudging Ryan.  "Fighters!"  He nodded at them.  Then pointed.  "The source!"  One nodded and they kept going.  It was swing and defeat then move in.  It was not fun.  Angel and Buffy were passed after a few minutes.

Xander threw another flame ball.  "Duck!"  They all ducked and more died.  It gave them enough time to pant before moving on.  Xander felt himself slipping but he was not going to go this time.  He concentrated, focusing on the portal.  He saw something be shot into it.  It warped a bit but it was still functional.  "I need up there!  I can close it, Ryan!"  He nodded and they broke, running that way.  Xander took a head or two on the way but oh well.  They got closer and Xander took out the bag, digging until he came up with something.  Then he threw it into the portal and chanted, hands raised.  Willow hurried over to help.  He concentrated and it slowly closed, then he looked up.  "Do the building!  Horatio, it's got to come down!"  He got something else out but one of the other hunters grabbed it and fired it into the foundation, bringing down the start of the building.  Xander concentrated, switching the polarity on it, making it suck in some of the demons.  It finally closed and he was on his knees, panting for breath.  "Ow."

Ryan helped him up, handing him to Speed.  "Let us do some mop up.  He can join us when he's caught his breath."

"Not much need," Willow said, raising her hands.  "Flames work well apparently.  We can do that."  She said something sharp and flames shot out of her hands, frying the demons.  Buffy and Angel backed up as she moved closer.

"Enough!" Buffy shouted.  Willow stopped and they mopped up the last few the other slayers had let get past them.  "We all good?" she called.  The younger slayers all nodded.  Melissa was holding her arm.  She looked at it.  "Broken, dislocated?"

"Broken," she whimpered.

Adam stomped over.  "Let me see, Melissa."  He got a horrified look.  He smirked at her.  "Some of the members are stranger than others, ducks.  Let me look.  I was a doctor a while back."  She nodded, letting him feel then set it for her.  "Get me something to immobilize it for a while."  Buffy handed over her jacket.  "Something harder."  Willow jogged up and changed the jacket for him.  "That'll work."  He wrapped it around her arm, letting Willow set it.  He checked and straightened one spot.  Melissa yelped but Willow tightened it around it.  "There.  Give it a few hours to set."  She nodded, leaning against his side.  "We're here for the convention as well, dear.  We'll talk during it."

"Did Horatio talk to you?" she asked quietly.

"No.  Should we?"  She shrugged.

"Her watcher is pushy," Xander as he came over.  "Threatened to kill her too."

"I can take care of that," Adam promised.  He pulled her closer.  "We'll deal with it. You can check in already."  She nodded, hugging him.  He looked at Xander, catching his eye and the look at Buffy's back then at him.  He smiled and shook his head subtly.  "Are we done?"

"We're done," Angel called.  "Let's disappear."

Buffy looked at Melissa.  "I'll come see you later at the hotel.  Okay?"  She nodded.  "Good work."  She headed off with the other girls.

Xander looked around.  "I agree, guys, let's fade."  They nodded, heading back to the hotel.  Speed handed Xander his bag and sword.  He put it inside the bag.  Adam put his.  Ryan put his.  Horatio put in the remains of what they had used.  Xander looked at the others, nodding at them.  "Nice shot.  Thanks.  See us later?"  That got a nod and they faded off into the distance too.  They headed back to the hotel for drinks and some time to shower and change clothes.  Xander emptied the bag once he was back in the suite, letting Don and Danny hide things.  Then he went to take his own shower. Danny came in to baby any healing injuries.  "Just a few claw marks and bruises."  He took a kiss and gave him a grin.  "I'm okay."

"You're still really hot with a sword," he teased.  Xander beamed and got into the shower.  He helped him scrub down then let him change into something more comfortable.  Someone tapped on the door.

"Who is it?" Don called.


Don got up to open it. "Hey, another Don.  We should hold our own convention."

"Cute."  He smirked as he walked in.  "Everyone good?"

"No losses on our side that I know of," Xander told him.

"Good.  The weapons you have?"

"Are going back to Miami," he promised.  "Back to their safe, watched over spot."

"Fat chance.  They're in my city, Xander."

"My babies."


"You can have a few if it'll make your boss feel better and more macho."

"Probably.  What did you bring?"  Don showed him the closet, earning a pout from Xander.  He looked then shuddered.  "You brought that sort of firepower...."  He looked at him.  "Why?"

"We didn't know what it was coming out of.  I was taught to overplan the bangs if necessary."

"Yeah, it was," he decided.  "We were watching and it was horrible."  He looked around.  "Put it back in the bag.  Now."  Xander nodded, putting everything into a different bag then putting it into the closet.  "Thank you.  What were those flame balls?"

"Spell activated," Don said with a small shrug.  "Some witches made 'em before we left."

Xander got one out to show him. "They can be ignited with mundane means.  You'd have to have a timer and a spark of thermite."  He opened one to show him.  "Put the thermite tip here," he said with a point.  "It's hot enough to ignite that and that'll burn like pitch until everything it comes in contact with dies."  He handed it over.  "It's totally demonic based.  All demon parts, goo, or blood."

"Okay.  Like the ones that came through?"

"I think I saw a flame demon but I think Ryan cut it into bits.  It would've been kinda green and a bit squishy."

"I think I saw one, but I saw so many."

"Exactly.  That's why I over planned.  I didn't know if I needed to bring down the building then go in to get the portal.  Just get the building and it'd collapse the portal too.  Or even if we had to bring down that building then go find the portal somewhere else."

"Okay.  How many of these happen around here?"

"Ask Angel.  I live in Miami.  We only have one a decade or so."

"Even better.  Think I could move?"

"Hubert would like your brother to come closer so he could play with his hair," Don said with a grin.  "He kept checking ours to see why it wasn't curly and Xander's to see if he had braided it wet again."

Don smirked. "Girls like it too."

"He's a boy dragon so I'm not sure why he likes hair,"  Xander admitted. "Or breasts."  He shrugged.  "We'll figure it out as he grows.  At least until he's too big and we have to send him home."  One of the dogs came over and he petted him. "Were you a good boy?"  The dog barked and handed him a ball.  "Sure, we'll play."  He tossed it, letting the dog run to catch it then bring it back.  He and his Don both played with him.  "So, it's done."

"Good.  Be normal tomorrow?"

"I'll be shopping the rest of the week."

"Good!"  He smirked.  "Edgerton is in.  He caught it with us from the top of our building.  He was gaping in horror too."  Someone pounded on the door.  "That sounds like my tribe."  He went to open it.  "Ian."

"Don."  He walked in.  "You have what, Harris?"

"Horatio knows."


"He does.  He keeps a very close eye on it," Xander assured him.  He tossed him the ball, letting him throw it for the dog and make him happy too.  "I was a good boy."

Don shut the door.  "You were."  He smiled.  "I don't want to see any of those the rest of the time you're here."

"Sure."  He took the ball back and they left.  He petted the dog, cooing at him.  "Daddy loves you, you're a good puppy."  The dog lapped him then hopped up to cuddle and get petted.  "My good boy."

Danny got the next knock, Adam.  "Hey."

"Please tell me she's not an immie?" Xander begged.

"No.  Sometimes slayers feel like that to us and they can feel us as well now and then.  Melissa can feel us and so can Buffy."  Xander relaxed and went back to playing with the dog.  "Where's the other?"

"Ray Junior."

"Ah.  Are you all right?"

"Just fine," Xander said happily.  "Shopping tomorrow?"

"I could enjoy that."  He smiled. "We've gotten Melissa checked in early so we can go over some things with her."

"Get her Watcher away from her."

"I plan on it.  Good choice getting her to Horatio."  He smiled and left, going back to helping her settle in.  He found Ray Junior walking the dog and Hubert.  They were coming inside.  "Any problems?"

"I can't find two of Uncle H's ferrets.  They're hiding inside the bed.  Other than that it's good."  He smiled.  "I'm up in my room if they want to repossess animals."  He took them back up there.

"We're shopping tomorrow."

"I know there was a reason Xander gave me my own bottomless bag."

Adam snickered, going back to where Melissa was waiting.  The man nagging her got a broken collarbone when he grabbed him and squeezed just right. "Is there a problem, Melissa?"

She stared.  "No, Adam.  Not anymore."

"Good.  Then you should be resting that arm."  She nodded, going up to her room.  He walked the Watcher off to talk to him.  He still had some aggression that needed to be worn out.  Pity for the watcher of course.


The hotel manager walked up to where Don was sitting, clearing his throat to get his attention. "Is the FBI interested in a particular guest?  We would be more than happy to help."

"No.  Some of the people here are friends.  We're helping guard the convention because a few of the people have a high price on their heads if they're captured."

"I see.  We don't usually host conventions."

He grinned.  "I was at the last one in New York.  They were well behaved, squealing, happy people for the most part.  Someone tried to rob them and they were stopped by some of the people at the convention instead of hotel security.  Then they went back to chatting, shopping, a few seminars, and a bit of cuddling now and then.  A lot more polite than some of the cop conventions that've been through the city.  Though I have heard the most polite convention is actually the S&M conventions."

"We bill ourselves as a family-friendly hotel, Agent Epps."

He waved a hand.  "That's why they rented the whole hotel.  I promise, they're here because of a shared medical condition that makes them squealy, flighty, and like to shop.  Anything like switching bedrooms would be between individuals.  The same as it is at any convention.  Mostly they're very nice monogamous couples and a few trios.  Some with bodyguards, some without.  We're here because they need the protection from some people who believe they're pets. They're not going to harm the hotel, they're not going to cause any problems."

"We weren't sure why they wanted to rent the whole hotel," he said nervously.

"So none of the sort that want to kidnap and torture them can sneak in.  It's a security measure."  That got a nod and a nervous lip lick.  "Almost everyone is gone by the Monday after the convention.  I think Mr. Harris will be the last one leaving.  He usually is.  He's one of the first in and one of the last out because he's a bit bored at home from what I understand."

"The ones with him?"

"Most of the Miami-Dade felony crime lab," he said honestly.  The man went weak kneed.  "For his protection.  He's had to fight off a few kidnaping attempts.  The worst that your people will see is the room where they have a cuddle pile.  They have a monitor in there.  Nothing else is allowed to happen.  You can't even nap in there."  That got a quick nod.  "Just relax.  It'll be fine.  They're a bit demanding but they're nice people as long as you don't totally piss them off.  Like any other guest.  You're going to have guests from all over the world in for this.  It'll be fine.  So far you'd done great and Xander's one of the most picky people there is from what I understand."  That got a quick nod as well.  "Have his ferrets gotten loose?"

"Once but he came down to catch them and walked off chastising it.  He couldn't leave them at home?"

"Everyone in his friends are here with him."

"Oh."  He nodded.  "I understand.  So we should be fine?"

"You should be fine and how well this convention goes shows in a lot of people's future travel plans.  Like I said, you've got people coming in from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.  They'll be telling the members who missed this convention how it went plus their friend network back at home.  It's a great way for smaller hotels to get some good business.  I know the one in New York has went up about fifty percent since their convention."  That got a smile.  "Even if the casual person comes into the restaurant or bar for lunch or dinner, they're going to be dressed.  I think the least I've ever seen them dressed in is Xander in some pants to dance in because he knows a unique form of storytelling dance and others have asked him to show it off now and then.  That would be shirtless."

"All right.  Thank you.  How many other agents should we expect?"

"There's five with me for my team.  One agent who roams now and then.  He's the one in the dark glasses watching the dragon in confusion right now."  He pointed behind him.  "Some of the members are agents or police officers.  I know the LAPD passed on the guarding duties to us because they didn't want to deal with a convention this weekend.  There may be some from the New York, Dallas, or DC offices coming in.  We should be fine.  They police their own members.  If one's causing a problem that guy Adam is the national head.  He can lay down the law even about Xander."  He smiled at that.  "Is he causing problems?"

"No, sir.  Though it was cute how the young one with them came back and dumped out a bag then left again."

"They're shopping today."  That got a nod.  "Xander apparently brought enough money to spoil *everyone* with him.  They may have a few more."

"Thank you, Agent Epps.  If I have problems I can come to you?"

"Sure.  If I'm not here, my team will be.  We'll be taking shifts since some of the convention people are night people and some like the sunrise."  He nodded, heading back to deal with his staff to make sure they knew they were having international guests.

Ian walked over.  "What is that lizard thing?"

"Hubert, the baby dragon.  It likes Charlie's hair and breasts apparently are a new thing he's just discovered."  He went back to reading and listening to his live feed from Xander's hidden microphone.  Don had agreed to place it on him just in case.  Plus he had pulled a Gibbs and put a GPS monitor on him.

"We all like breasts and Charlie's hair is fascinating, but there's no such thing as dragons."

Don looked at him.  "You tell Xander that.  He claims he got him on a road trip off- plane."

"Off-plane.  Uh-huh."

He nodded, taking him to Xander's room.  He had given him a key in case something happened.  He opened the bag and pointed at what was on top.  "Tell me how he does that one."

Ian reached in to pull the weapon out, frowning at it.  "Isn't that impossible?"  He put it back.  It went in.  Didn't hit a bottom.  Didn't get snagged.  "How?"

"I don't know.  I'm going to introduce that topic to Charlie later."  He walked out, closing and locking the door behind him, checking for ferrets.  He opened the door and found three of the four staring at him from the bed.  The other one tried to crawl over his foot.  "Oh, no."  He put him back and closed the door again.  He looked at Ian.  "He says it's a baby dragon."

"Uh-huh."  He walked off nodding.  "When is Charlie getting here?"

"After class."  He went back to his post, smiling at Xander's babble at someone he knew.  "Must be another member."  He heard the word 'poker' and groaned.  "No, Xander."  Horatio seconded his quiet complaint.  Xander pouted but Speed promised to spank so it was vetoed.  The boy went back to his shopping and it was good enough apparently.

Ryan sat down next to him.  "Did he ever tell you about the game where he walked into a warehouse and sat down to play with the guys who were playing to see who got which one when they stole them?"

"No," Don said, looking amused. "Did he win?"

"Bankrupted them and then turned them in.  Around Miami Xander's known as a force for karma.  The only one he hasn't gotten in person was the one who shot him and Speed.  He was laid up so he let us do it."

"Good!"  He shook his head.  "I never would've figured Heartstone."

"Gambling debts and he wanted a secure future.  He still committed suicide in his cell.  So did the accountant after one of his other former poker buddies got done with him his first night."  He gave him a look.  "Without being asked.  They didn't like the fact he had shot the boy.  That pissed them *all* off.  Now Xander's being a macho guy and it's all good for us.  He'll be fine.  Remember he's from a few hours away."

"I know.  That doesn't mean there's no new threats."

"Oh there is.  Angel came up and suggested he stop the next apocalypse by giving himself to the demon over it.  Xander said 'sure, as long as I can kill him when he tries to touch me'.  Angel told him no so Xander walked off cackling and said they'd be meeting when he showed up and he'd die anyway if he tried for him.  Angel walked off pouting until Danny got to him later that night.  Then he realized why Xander's so tough."  He smirked.  "He even showed him some of one of the dance DVD's."  He stood up and walked off.  "Yes, he's a baby dragon in the middle of a growth spurt."

Don snickered at that thought.  Xander was a lot tougher than most people saw.  The flighty boy was cute but the warrior underneath was a strong guy when he was backed into a corner.  "A force for karma?"  He went back to reading, looking at the dragon when it curled up next to him, staring at him.  "What?"  It licked its lips.  "I don't have any of the cookies, Hubert.  Go ask Ian if he has any."

"No, I don't," Ian called.  "David and Colby are here."

Don listened to Xander saying he'd be back soon.  "That's fine."  He petted him.  "Your daddy's on the way back."  He texted Xander's phone with a 'your dragon's looking at me and licking his lips'.  He got back a cute 'he won't eat you but I'll get him food'.  "Xander will get you food on the way back."  The dragon grumbled but put his head down on his thigh, letting him pet him. "Sure.  You're nearly as good to pet as the dogs.  At least you don't leap and lick."  The dragon seemed to laugh.  He looked over at the amused looking agents.  "This is Hubert, Mr. Harris' pet baby dragon."

"Uh-huh," Colby said.  "He doesn't look like a komodo dragon."

"He's not.  He's a smoke breathing dragon who likes Charlie's hair and has just discovered breasts are comfy napping spots."  They both stared at him.  He nodded, seeing some of them coming in.

"Man, talk about snotty bitches," Ray Junior complained.  "I thought Miami's were bad."

"She was a wannabe starlette," Don Epps called.  "They're all like that."

"Means I'll never date an actress.  Shallow is thy name."  He looked at Hubert.  "Don stopped to get you food, big guy."  Hubert beamed at him.  "Give him ten minutes, okay?" He got a nod so he walked on.  "We're back and still magnificent," he told Ian as he walked past him.  "Even if Xander did coo in Cartier until someone in there bought him something.  Nearly getting Danny's foot up their rear.  Maybe I need the hair."

"No," Horatio called after him.  "No growing yours out that long, Raymond."  He looked at Don.  "Was he good?"

"He was very good.  He let Ian stare at him in confusion for over an hour while he basked in the sun on a chair."

"Good.  Hubert, let's go upstairs."  He shook his head.  "You can pounce Don up there just as easily."  He put his head back down, grumbling.

He looked down.  "If you're a good dragon I'll get Charlie up so you can bat at his hair some more."  The dragon looked at him.  "Yeah, the one with the hair."  The dragon gave him a long stare.  "He's my little brother.  He wants to see those bags and look you over again anyway.  If you're good I'll see if he can come up tonight."  Hubert licked him on the ear then followed Horatio up the stairs.

Horatio smiled at him.  "If you're good, we'll let Tony call Abby or Garcia when he gets in."  That perked the dragon up so he was much happier.

Colby pointed.  "That's the head of the Miami-Dade crime lab."

"I know that.  He's a friend of Xander's.  Like a father to him," Don agreed.  "He's up for the convention with the rest of the family."

Colby shook his head, looking confused.  "Huh?"

"Yeah," David agreed.  "Huh?"

Xander skipped in and hugged Don around the throat, handing him back the bug.  "Next time tell me.  I'm open to reasonable restrictions.  I know it's for my own safety so the Prince we ran into doesn't try to take me this time either."  He kissed him on the head.  "Where's my baby dragon?"

"With Horatio.  Waiting on Don.  By the way, Charlie wanted to give him another look over and I told him about the bags.  Think he could look one over?"

"Sure but it's still magical."  He shrugged and bounced off again.  "Later, guys.  Have a good day.  We're going for ice cream later.  After some playtime."

Don pointed.  "That was Mr. Harris."

Colby gaped.  "Him?"

"Yup.  Him.  Different than we heard."  Don walked in with a big bag.  "He's with Horatio.  Possibly with Xander too."

"Thanks, Epps.  Hi, guys.  Oh, that Prince guy, was he the same as the one in DC?"  Don nodded.  "Pity about him.  But he did buy Xander a shiny thing at Cartier until Danny nearly ripped his throat out for going near our boy.  If I had the money I'd give my boy bling, but I make a cop's salary."  He headed for the elevator, going up to their room.  Hubert nearly pounced him so he smiled and sat down his dinner.  "There you go, Hubert.  Even some noodles like Fu feeds you now and then."  The dragon moaned at him and dug in, licking the food up as fast as he could.  "We'll get you more later."  He sat down next to Xander.  "How much did you bring?"

"About half a mil.  I can call to get more if I need to."

"We shouldn't," Don promised, giving him a kiss.  The ferrets climbed all over them but it was happy and he was happy enough to pet them before putting them into their mini-cage for conventions.  They used the litterbox.  He checked the bed and tossed the blanket off.  "Sorry."

"Not your fault.  I forgot to open the bottom cage door."  He stripped off the top sheet too.  The bottom sheet wasn't dirtied so they could have some fun.

Ryan walked in and looked then shook his head.  He took the dirty things into the bathroom to clean for them.  He heard an inquisitive noise.  "Eric's being an ass."

"Found him some?" Danny asked as he came in.  "What are you doing?  There's a hotel laundry."

"I'm getting the nastiness out before they have to deal with it."  He back to his rinsing out.  "They're playing."

"What did he do?"

"Found himself a set of barely legal twins with huge breast jobs.  They thought he was exotic since he was Cuban instead of Mexican."

"Them.  I forgot we ran into them.  You can play later."  He went to pounce his boys, making Xander squeal in pleasure.

Ryan snickered, finishing up and laying them over the shower curtain to dry.  They weren't using this bathroom so it'd be fine.  He went to answer the door.  He smiled at the manager.  "Yes, sir?"

"Mr. Harris has a problem with his card?"

"Again?"  He called Steve.  "What did you do?"  He listened.  "Which one is on the account?"

"His Am Ex."

He listened to Steve.  "Thanks."  He hung up.  "He said it's fixed, it's a glitch at Am Ex.  It's happened to all of them."  That got a head shake.  "His goes through the East Coast center and it's without power."


"Xander, getting into your wallet.  Am Ex's processing center for your card is without power."

"What got charged?" Don asked.

"A damage deposit for the pets, sir."  The manager gave him a look.

"They're good about not doing anything," Don told him.  "Now and then one of the ferrets misses the litter box but otherwise they're good about stuff.  We clean that up."

Ryan got into his wallet.  "Xander!"

He came out with his usual shopping wallet, handing him the Mastercard.  "I don't think they process from the same center.  Oh, here, this one processes from this state instead."  He handed that one over instead.  "It's new.  I haven't used it yet.  I know it's unlimited."

That got a look then he went to run it, finding he had been correct.  That gave him an idea about the nature of his guests.  He went to hand it back personally.  "Here you go, sir.  Thank you for understanding.  Do you need anything?"

"The ferret couldn't quite get off the bed but I've rinsed the sheet and blanket out," Ryan said sheepishly.  "Can we change them out?"

"I'll send up housekeeping."  He watched the dragon pull out a ferret to cuddle.  "He likes them?"

"He's a great babysitter for the ferrets," Ryan said happily.  "He plays with them all the time."  The manager nodded, getting them someone from housekeeping.  He shooed Xander and them to playing again and met her to show her.  "I rinsed them out.  It's unfair to make you guys deal with that."

She smiled.  "That's nice of you, sir."  She looked around.  "The animals are certainly neat."  The dogs looked at her.  "Especially them."

"They travel to conventions all the time with the daddy."  He helped her bundle them up.  "We're sorry about that."

"We've had humans do it.  It's much worse than a cup sized stain from a ferret, sir."  She got him new sheets and blankets.  "There you go.  Spares just in case."  He smiled and nodded.  She walked over Hubert.  "Watch out.  Don't want to trip over you, little guy."

"That's Hubert."

"I'll remember that."  She smiled and left, going to check the other rooms on that floor for who needed towels.  A few rooms needed more complimentary bath salts.  They certainly seemed to like their pleasures.  She hoped the whole convention was that nice.


Charlie grinned when he ran into Don.  "Hi.  You said you had an anomaly?"

"I have a great one."  He walked him upstairs, knocking on Ray Junior's door.  "Do you have the spare bag?"

"Xander has it.  He was checking it for rips."  That got a nod.  "Did the Prince of Slimey show up again?"

"Not yet."

"Good.  I hope Danny got his point across with the foot up the rear treatment."  He smiled at Charlie.  "Hi, Ray Caine Junior.  Nephew to Horatio."

"I've heard of your uncle's work."  He shook his hand. "I'm Charlie Epps, little brother to Don and math whiz."

"That's cool.  I'm hopeless in there but that's really cool."  He pointed.  "The noisy bedroom is Xander's.  Still."  Don laughed, heading that way.  "Hubert and the dogs are all in."

"Thanks," Don said.  He tapped on that door, getting a panting Danny.  "Exercising?"

"My boyfriend."  He looked at Charlie but Hubert knocked him out of the way.  "Impatient!"  He saw him leaning up against Charlie's leg.  "Fine."  He let them inside, letting the dragon catch the escaping ferret then come in to present it to Charlie.  "You are?"

"Charlie, Don's little brother and math professor."

"He wanted to see the bags."

"Don't rip 'em or else the stuff inside is gone and we have to bargain with the demonic mafia to get it back."  He checked a bag, turning it over and concentrating until everything inside came out.  He shook it, looking inside to reach up and get the sword.  Then he gave it another good shake.  The rest of the money fell out.  He reached around inside then handed it over.  "There ya go."  He walked back into the bedroom, kicking out the dogs so he could go back to exercising his boyfriend.

Charlie looked at the pile then the bag.  "It shouldn't...."

Don got another of the bags, pulling out a weapon.  He put it back.

Charlie looked then shook his head.  "No.  Not possible."

"Xander said it's magic.  Anything you can fit inside the opening will fit.  Bottomless.  Just don't rip it."

Charlie opened it and looked inside, then reached in there.  He couldn't feel a bottom.  He kept reaching, still no bottom.  He put his head in there and he couldn't find one either.  He was well past the depth of the bag.  He pulled his head and arm back out, looking at it again.  "Magic?"


He looked at the dragon who was crawling up the chair to play with his hair.  "Sure, go ahead.  Don't pull."  The dragon huffed in his ear before starting to play with it.  He looked at Don.  "He's really a dragon?"

"Baby.  In the middle of a growth spurt."

Charlie frowned. "But that's not possible."

Don waved a hand.  "You tell 'em."

Charlie went back to playing with the bag.  He had no idea how he'd start to figure this out. "There's no good theory that ends with a real infinity.  You're taught to consider infinity a real number, just not one that's exposed to us yet."  He kept scrunching and working it.  "There's little marks around the mouth."  He looked at them and Hubert blew in his ear.  He looked at him.  "Hey."  It smiled at him and went back to blowing in his hair.  "Do you fit in here?"  He nodded.  "Will it hold you?"

Ryan knocked then walked in.  "What's going on?"

"He wanted to look at the bag," Don explained.

"They're fascinating and Xander does fit through a few's opening.  That way you can sneak them out of a dangerous situation.  Paul has one for that."

"Where did we find these?" Charlie asked.

"We were taken across a realm portal by some barbarians who wanted Horatio's hair because redheads were very rare.  Xander and I got taken too because we were with him and could be sold.  We found them there.  We have a whole bunch of them at home.  You might ask Willow to see if she knows how they're made.  Xander said he didn't."


"Rosenburg.  She's in Sunnydale usually.  I think she's at the Hyperion because of the last apocalypse."

Charlie nodded, standing up.  "Think she'd talk to me?"

"Probably babble at you but yeah," Ryan said, calling the number he had for them.  "Hey, Wesley.  Ryan Wolfe.  Is Willow still there?  Don's brother's a math person and he had a question about these neverending bags Xander found while traveling.  Yeah, those.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "She's taking a nap but he said to come over later and Hubert could come suck to Fred for more raisin cookies."  Charlie smiled and nodded, sitting down to go back to his looking.

Don looked at him.  "It'll give you a long time to work on it."

"Yeah, really."  He went back to it.  "Anything you can fit inside?"

"As long as it doesn't rip it and it'll fit through the opening."

"Huh."  He went back to looking at the little marks. "Can you tell me what those mean?"

"No.  I don't do magic.  The closest to magic I get is Ares' ability to plan ahead of time so I'm in the right place to save Xander that time."

Don snickered at that.  "He like that answer?"

Ryan looked up.  "I don't know; do you?"

Strife appeared, giving him a look.  "He grinned an' called you a suckup, Wolfie."  Ryan smirked back.  He smiled and reached over to hit him.  "Gambling is against the rules for you.  Or else Ma gets ta punish ya."

"I'll quit."  Strife nodded.  "Any other orders?"

"Yeah, the Prince is not a content, disgruntled guy with a hard-on.  Fair warning."  He disappeared with a smirk.

"How did he do that?" Charlie asked.

Ryan shrugged.  "That was Strife, God of Mischief.  I'm assuming it's a God thing."  He grinned and walked off.  "I'll go see what he's got planned."

"Tell Colby and David.  It's their shift."  Ryan nodded, sneaking out before the ferrets could help him. He looked at Charlie, smirking some.  "So?  Any ideas?"

"No," he said.  "Not at all."  He blinked at him.  "There's whole new maths here."


"Thank you."  He hugged him.  "This is going to drive me insane but thank you!"  He looked around.  "Can I take the bag with me to Angel's?" he called.

"Go ahead.  Don't rip it.  Make sure it's empty."

"How do you empty it?" Don called.

"Think about whatever you want out to come up.  If you want to empty everything, turn it over and think about it all emptying," Don called.

"Thanks." Hubert stood up.  "He wants to go too.  Is that all right?"

"Yeah, Fred won't hurt him," Danny called.

"We'll be back soon," Charlie called, letting Hubert walk out with them.  They walked past Colby and David.  "We're going to see Angel."

"Sure," Colby agreed.  "Strife?" he mouthed at Don.

He nodded.  "He showed up."

"Xander's his high priest.  His and Cupid's."

"That explains a lot," Don said dryly, walking Charlie out to the car.

Charlie looked at him once he was buckled up.  "Why?"

"Level ten GHS cause a lot of problems," he said, starting the car so they could back out. Hubert was cuddling up to the seatbelt in the back.  "Thanks, Hubert."  He put the car into forward as soon as he could and took off.  "All the kidnapings, all the lust, all the presents.  That one likes weapons.  Mischief and lust.  It makes sense."

"I guess it does."  He considered it.  That was a whole other area of math he had only dabbled in before.  He'd dabble in it again later after he figured out how to do the math for this bag.  If he could create his own, well, the Nobel was a cinch because the fold theory would have a lot of practical uses beyond neverending shopping bags.  They parked and he got out, walking inside, finding Willow sitting on the old check-in desk. "Willow?"  She smiled and nodded. "How do you do this?"

She looked at the marks around the neck of the bag.  "You know, I'm not sure what half of them are."  She hopped down and went to look up the spell with him.  She had to keep explaining how magic worked while she explained the spell.  How it was woven into the fabric and carved into the wood that made up the solid parts.  It was going to be dawn before they really got going, throwing ideas back and forth at each other.

Don looked at Fred, accepting the cookie from her.  "Hubert?"  He came out of the library and ran over to pounce Fred, licking her face.  "I think he likes you," he teased.

"Apparently."  She petted him, giving him cookies since he was laying on her chest again.  "Am I comfy?"

"He seems to think so.  Call me when they want to come home?"  She beamed and nodded.  "Thanks.  Xander's having fun with the boyfriends."  He walked off, heading to get dinner then go back to the hotel.  That prince was going to bother him until he could arrest him.

Ian stopped him.  "Xander just got a delivery."


"You don't want to know.  It's nearly pornographic and in white chocolate.  Not quite as bad as the one he got in Miami when he got sent a giant chocolate vagina and a white chocolate six foot toy to go with it...."  Don shook his head quickly at that.  "The guy has a picture of it in his wallet.  Still in the crate.  Someone standing beside it.  He said he walked off with a headache and let the others chop it up."

"For some reason I can hear my father's response about that sort of present."  Ian laughed at that.  "That Prince?"

"Could be."

"How bad is it?"

"Nearly pornographic. Not fully.  Underwear model minus everything but the underwear."

"Should I worry?"

"I had it checked for things and sent to Wolfe."

Don smirked.  "I'm sure he was happy."

"Where's the math voodoo god?"

"With Rosenburg explaining that bag."

"Ah.  So it'll be next week before we see him?"

"Possibly.  Hubert pounced Fred to snuggle on her chest and eat raisin cookies."  He walked off smiling.  "Anyone else here yet?"

"Fornell's here.  He's waiting."


"The kid."

"It'll be a while."

"Of course it will."  He went to tell him Don was back.  He could run interference.  That's why he didn't have a desk job.  "Fornell, Epps is back."

"Where was he?"

"Dropping off his brother to learn something new with Rosenburg."

He groaned, taking another antacid.  "Fine.  We need to see someone from Harris' family.  DiNozzo and Sanders are having to come early."


"Someone broke into their house to paint them with pretty ownership symbols.  Gibbs is ready to bite."

"He coming too?"

"Yup.  Won't let them out alone."

"Abby or whoever Garcia is?"

"Spenser Reed is bringing out Hotchner to indoctrinate him and they're bringing Garcia, their computer tech, too.  Why?"

"Hubert apparently missed them enough for his daddy to get him into Quantico from the rumors I heard," Ian said.

Fornell gave him a look.  "Tell me you're joking."

"Nope."  He walked off.  "They're having fun.  I'll try to get one of them that's not Ray Junior."  He had spotted him.  "There's news about DiNozzo and Sanders' safety.  Fornell wants an adult."

"Uncle H is asleep.  Ryan's nibbling the chocolate, filled underwear statue.  Eric's got the busty twins with good plastic surgery."  He called Adam's room.  "Are you up?  Fornell wants to talk to an adult about Tony and Greggy."  He smiled.  "Down in the lobby getting dinner.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Tell him to find Adam."

"I can do that."

"I heard.  Which room?"

"Suite 1412."

"Thanks, kid.  Grow up like you're uncle."

He grinned. "I'm only Xander's assistant."  Fornell shuddered.  "I keep him from being so bored."

"Try harder," Ian joked.  "Who sent that?"

"Um, the prince probably.  Is he the same guy Xander played poker with in DC so he wouldn't get snatched?"  Ian nodded.  "Charming.  I like repeat offenders."  He walked off.  "Going to get dinner."

"Be safe."

Colby walked over.  "DiNozzo?  On Gibbs' team?"


"He's a tit hound."

"There's gay and straight members," Ian said, patting him on the shoulder.  "If they hit on you, just politely say taken."  He walked off to watch the front of the hotel.  Someone like the prince didn't have subtly.  He'd try a frontal snatch attempt when he showed up.  He saw the van full of 'cleaning people' pull up and called David.  "It's Edgerton.  Cleaning crew arrived in a van with a stick on label."  He watched them walk past him, hats down.  "Seven and a driver. One's got a bag.  Heading for the elevator on the left."  He smiled at his 'got it'.  He and Colby headed up with them.  He heard the call out for backup and an arrest wagon, going to get the guy in the van.  "Hi, FBI."  The man reached for the keys.  He pulled his gun.  "Try it."  He slumped.  "Out.  Now."  He climbed out and Ian handcuffed him, patting him down.  "Nice syringe.  Should I worry about dirty blood?"

"It is our prince's semen so his new pet will get used to him.  Not dirty!"

Xander strolled out and turned the guy around, staring at him.  "I get plenty of semen already.  Thanks anyway.  When you call him for bail money tell him if I see him again he'd better be ready to commit suicide.  Do I need to repeat this?"  He shook his head quickly, looking down.  "Are you sure?"

"Yes, pet."  Xander punched him in the jaw, making him whimper.  "I'm sorry I displeased you, pet."

"I have a fucking name and I am no one's pet," he said coldly.  "Never will be.  Never have been.  The last one who thought that I gutted.  I can do it again."  He shivered but nodded.  "Tell your master that."  He walked off, heading back inside.  "I really should have shoes on, I know," he told the person giving him dirty looks. "Unfortunately someone just broke in to try to kidnap me.  I wanted to have a word with one of them."  He ran into Fornell.  "What happened?"

"Someone broke in to paint DiNozzo and Sanders with red oil containing drugs.  Marked them with ownership markings."

Xander snorted.  "Yeah.  Like that'll work."  He walked off shaking his head.  "I'll deal with it if they show up here.  The same as I will that prince's people.  Have a better night, Fornell."

"You too, Mr. Harris."  He waved after him, smiling some.  "Gibbs is coming.  So are your dragon's friends."

"Cool.  Hubert will be over the moon!  Did you hear that he thinks Gibbs is another form of dragon?"  Fornell snickered, nearly bent double when he looked back as he got onto the elevator.  He went back up to his suite, looking at the men on the floor.  "Does this mean I can make them commit suicide now?" he asked Don and Colby, who shook their heads.  "Please?  I like it when they beg me to stop."

"No," Don said.  "How would you?"

Xander grinned.  "Jedi mind tricks."

"No jedi would use those sort, that means they're Sith mind tricks," Colby shot back with a small smirk.

"Well, yeah, but they start out jedi then turn."  He shrugged and looked at one, staring him down, letting his hormones spike just a bit.  "Where is he?"  He babbled something in Arabic. "No, your god isn't going to help you.  Where is he?  If you tell me I'll let you meet him peacefully.  He might even reward you."  He squatted down, stroking down his cheek, increasing his output, staring him in the eyes. "Where is he?" he asked, his voice quieter, dropping a bit in tone, becoming a bit deeper sounding.  "If you tell me, we can talk about his desire.  Not that I want to be a pet and he has to prove himself worthy."  He stroked a thumb across his chin.  "I won't be able to tell him that if you don't tell me where he is."

He swallowed.  "He is at the Calabria, pet."

"I have a name.  I'm no one's pet."  The man shook his head, looking down.  "Good boy."  He stood up and concentrated, bringing it back down.  He looked at Don.  "Is that on the east end?"

"North," one of the guards said helpfully.  "Will you go talk to him?"

"Sure, I can do that."  He went to change, coming out in leather pants, a tight t-shirt, and boots,  plus a sword.  He grabbed Don's jacket.  "Don, going to talk to the prince, dear.  Taking your jacket."

"I'm wearing it," he complained, coming out to help him go talk to him.  "Where are we going?"

"The Calabria.  It's on the north end.  Your rental has On Star.  They'll give us directions."  He walked out once Don had his jacket back.  Plus his sword.

"Swords?" Colby asked.

"Yes, they all use them very well.  Chase them."  He chased after him, trying to stop them.  He'd end up following them across the city.  He'd get there in time to see Xander making the prince beg for mercy.  "Xander!"

"Aw, let 'im," Don ordered, sneering at him.  "You still want what's mine? Gotta say, not impressed with the man you are.  Xander can't make *me* beg more'n outside of bed.  Looks like you're damn pitiful."  He kissed Xander.  "Think the Feds can have 'im yet, Xander?"

Xander stared, then looked at him.  "He deserves to know what sort of life he'd live."

"Yeah, but he'll be a bitch in prison.  Same thing."

"Not castrated."

"You'd be surprised," Colby told him.  "We can do that, guys.  Really."  Someone came running and he looked.  "Um...."

"You don't want to know," Ryan said.  He walked in and stood in front of Xander.  "Isn't this my job?"

"I can save myself now and then."  He leaned over to sniff then looked at him.  "Hmm.  New aftershave?" he asked with a smirk.  He loved Ares.  He sent a prayer to him, watching his eyes darken.  "I can have him.  He's been mean to me.  He sent men to kidnap me."

"Let him go to the Feds, Xander.  There'll be others this weekend and if you're doing paperwork you can't save them."

"Again?" Don demanded.

"Yup.  By the way, Agent Colby Granger, no I'm not Wolfe.  Wolfe's presently sedated from the chocolate statue of filled underwear."  He appeared as himself.

"All hail Ares," Don said with a smirk.  "Can I have 'im?"

"No.  Tony's new pet project is going to show up."  Xander pouted.  "You can have that one.  He's much higher and he's taken others.  He's even scared of you.  He's one of you."   Xander shivered at that.  "By the way, nice work with the invasion."  He bopped him on the head.  "Let them have them."

"Yes, Ares," he said, bowing his head.  Then he kicked the guy in the jaw.  "No *real* man would do more than drool on his boots.  If you're not, you clearly don't appreciate the male form well enough for me."  He walked out, Don following with a nod for him.  He leaned in again.  "What do you want me to do with the new shiny thing?"

Ares shrugged. "Donate it.  You know where I'd go."  Xander nodded, leaving again.  He looked at him.  "Get it out now."

"Um...."   He let out a subvocal whimper.  Every soldier knew their overlord instinctively.  "Yeah."

Ares smirked.  "Have him.  I want to watch him learn what he wanted to do to others."  He faded out, going home.  The upcoming problems would need them both able to do things beyond paperwork. Especially when someone decided to take the little nerdly one for being at the convention and the cuddle pile.


Xander pouted all the way back into the hotel.  "Ares said I couldn't turn him into a girl like he wanted to do to me," he told Horatio.  "That Tony's problems were going to be worse."

"It'll be fine," he promised, patting him on the back.  "I'm sure he'll learn the error of his ways in prison."  He walked him back up to his room.  He looked behind him.  "Xander, you're broadcasting."

Xander looked then gave the drooling people a sheepish look. "Sorry."  He tried to put it back down.  "I guess Ares made me hot."

"I can cure that," Don said dryly, taking him up to their suite to fix that for him.  Danny and Ray Junior gave them an amused look.  "Ares appeared."

"Enough reason for even straight boys to drool," Ray quipped.  "Have fun.  Be noisy."

Don smirked.  "I plan on it."  He closed them in and got back to making Xander insane and mindless for him.

Ray looked at Danny.  "Snack?"

"Snack," he agreed, heading down with him.  The manager was complaining to Horatio.  "Of course he had a sword.  It's how he stays in such good shape.  The storytelling dances he knows come with sword work built in.  He practices nearly every day.  It helps his self defense."  He walked past him, leaving him gaping.  "It saves a lot of work saving him."

"Do not teach my nephew how to be impolite, Daniel," Horatio warned.

Danny nudged him.  "Don't grow up to be a New Yorker."

Ray snickered.  "No I think I'm going to grow up to be a Miamian."  He grinned at his uncle.  "Chill, Uncle H.  I'm a lot like Uncle Speed."

"You're surly and wear ugly t-shirts?" Danny asked, holding open the door of the restaurant.  "Did you bring cash?"

"I've been charging it back to my room and I'll take it out of my shopping allowance."

"That'll work."  He let the door close behind him.

The manager looked at him.  "Are you all going to be that way?"

"That mouthy?  No.  I'll be dealing with my nephew's mouth later on," he assured him.  "Has he been rude to anyone but me?"

"No.  He's been very polite."  He heard a squeal and ducked, looking around.  A woman came running over to pounce Horatio.

He smiled at her.  "Rachel.  How are you, dear?"  She kissed him on the cheek and babbled at him, trying to lead him off.  "Give me a minute to finish talking to the manager.  He's worried because someone came for Xander earlier."

"Of course they did!  They always come for Xander!  That's why he has the sword," she told the manager. "Plus the nice boyfriends.  Can I have Horatio?"  He nodded. "Thank you.  You have a good night."  She led him off, talking to him about her upcoming wedding.  "Do you think gauzy chiffon is over the top?"

"That depends on your guest list," he reminded her.  She beamed back.  "If I had one, I certainly couldn't wear that.  Yelina might mind," he said, starting to frown over her head. "Hmm."

She looked.  "Who're you and why are you making Horatio frown?" Rachel demanded.

"I'm his sister-in-law."

"Oh!  You must be RJ's mommy.  RJ's such a cutie," she cooed.  "I hope my future kids grow up as nice, smart, and polite as he is."  She looked at Horatio.  "Want her?"  He nodded.  "Can I get your opinion later?"

"Of course.  Tim and I are both here."

"Tim's *grumpy*!" she complained, rolling her eyes.  "Maybe I'll ask Adam.  He's got nice taste.  After all, he got his cutie, blond boy."  She bounced off to finish checking in. "I'll see you tomorrow.  I must have jetlag."

"Sure, Rachel," he said, smiling at her.  "Have a good rest."  She nodded and bounced off to her room.  He looked at Yelina.  "Are you guarding someone at the convention?"

"I was in Miami but Frank said that my son was here."

"He is.  It's his first convention.  He's getting a snack at the moment with Danny."  He led her that way, finding them eating pizza slices.  "Ray?"  He looked up and stared at his mother.  "Frank told her you were here."

"Cool with me.  She can be my protection patrol so I don't have even a thought about stepping out on my girlfriend."  He ate another bite.

Danny looked.  "Want some, Yelina?"

"No, thank you.  I would like to speak to my son."

"Then pull up a chair, Mom.  He'd hear eventually when I told Xander."  He kicked out one.  "Sit, please.  You too, Uncle H since I'm sure it'll be family news."  He ate another bite.  Then he looked at Danny once he had swallowed. "Xander?"

"It's gonna be a while.  He was appreciating Don's leather pants when we left," he reminded him.

"Oh, yeah.  I need my girlfriend," he sighed.  He finished his pizza.  "What's up, Mom?" he asked once he had swallowed.

"Your father and I want you to come home."

"No."  He looked at her.  "That's not home.  That's Brazil.  That's Grandma's home.  Not my home.  I wasn't comfortable down there. All I ever had were violent urges against Dad.  No."  He looked at his uncle.  "That good with you?"

"That's fine with me, Ray.  Your conduct has been exemplary for the most part.  Even if I did not like your first girlfriend."

"You're letting him date?" she demanded.

"I'm nearly seventeen, Mom.  Get over it!" he told her.  Horatio scowled.  "I'm sorry, this was a big problem we had down in Brazil."  He looked at her.  "Half the kids you wanted me to hang out with were married by my present age thanks to knocking up their girls.  Right now I'm carrying a 3.7 GPA, helping Xander do things around the house, and helping Uncles H and Speed with stuff.  No.  I'm not going to Brazil.  Not even to visit.  I don't want to see the biological donor.  If I do, I might have to prove that Xander's been working on my self-defense."

"Why?" Danny asked.  Yelina glared at him.  "Maybe if you heard his reasons they might make sense."

"Okay, here's a good one."  He looked at his mother.  "Is he clean again?"  Horatio moaned.  "I refuse to be in the same house as a drug addict," he said quietly.  "I will beat his ass.  I don't care, Mom.  You can move home.  You can write more often since you basically quit writing to me last year.  You didn't even send me a card for my birthday."

"I was trying to help your father."

He nodded.  "Which is why Miami's a better place for me."

"Playing with Xander's friends?" she demanded cooly.

"I went a few times in his place.  He was listening to me play and guiding me.  I made a few good contacts down that way.  I definitely cemented any ideas against going that way.  Which was about half his intention.  I started to drift there for a bit when Uncle H had a bad run of cases.  Xander stepped in and let me see what fifty-year-old gang kids look like.  It was a lesson I learned very well.  He kept me safe while I made that decision and a few others."

"I still do not like it."

"Neither did I.  Which was why I put a stop to it," Horatio assured her.  "Just as soon as I heard."

"He put a stop even to fun games," Ray agreed.  "It's a way to pass the time, Mom.  The same as now Xander's teaching me some of the basics of construction work.  He's been doing a lot of it around the house."

Danny finished his pizza.  "Yelina, what do you think is a bad thing in Miami?"

"All of it!  He's dating!  He hangs out with Xander!  I'm sorry but that can't be a good influence.  The boy is much older and much more worldly."

"Mom, not like I haven't had sex," Ray said dryly.  She glared at him.  "Before I came up here, Mother.  One of those nice kids you wanted me to hang out with let his sister jump me and tie me down to have me."  He stood up.  "If I have to file for emancipation, I will. I'm not going back to Brazil.  You can visit.  It'd be nice if you did.  I'm not going back.  I'm not going to be repressed and told I'm evil because of the way I am.  I'm me, even if you don't like it, Mother.  Yes, I have my third ever girlfriend.  She's very nice.  She goes to Uncle H's church.  He's met her, Uncle Speed's met her.  They like her.  She thinks I'm adorable.  She makes me study with her because she's worried about her grades.  She's got good plans for the future and so do I.  I can't transfer my high school credits down there to go to college.  Which I am going to do in two years.  The job base sucks unless you're in drugs.  Which I'll never do.  You've decided I'm horrible because I'm growing up.  We all do that.  I wish you'd see the real me, Mom."  He walked off, heading for his room.  "Danny?"

"I got it," he called.  The waitress came over and he signed the slip, getting a smile for the tip he slipped her.  "Thanks."  She nodded.  He looked at them.  "Want to take this up to a room, somewhere private?"

"We should," Horatio agreed.  "Speed and I have ours.  Ray's next door to us.  We can talk as a family."  He looked at Danny.  "Check on Ryan?"

"Of course."  He watched them go, sighing a bit.  "The kid don't need this," he muttered, going to check on Ryan.  He knocked until Eric answered the door.  "He good?"

"Headache.  What happened?"

"The prince Xander played with in DC to keep himself from being snatched showed up.  Sent us drugged chocolate.  Ryan got that.  They came for Xander, thinking he was knocked out, and the FBI got them."

"Oh, wonderful.  Everyone good?"

"All but Ray Junior at the moment.  Yelina's here."

Eric sighed.  "That's going to be a loud fight."

Danny nodded. "Probably."  He walked off.  "Let us know if he needs help."

"He'll be fine.  The headache will wear off soon."  He closed the door, going to talk to Ryan.  "That same prince?"

"Yeah.  Xander told me the FBI had him now so it's all right."

"Good.  That's a positive.  They catch them before they broke in?"

"Caught them coming in so they waited and caught them as they broke in."

"Even better.  More charges."  He smirked. "You gonna live?"

"If the headache quits."  He flipped onto his side. "Did he just say Yelina was back?"  Eric nodded.  "Damn it.  Ray doesn't need this."

"We'll handle it as a family, Ryan.  Like always."  He tucked him in and went to sit on the couch to watch tv for a while.  Ryan felt nasty and wouldn't want to cuddle.

"You shower them off yet?"

"Yes," he said patiently.  Not like he usually minded.


Ray knocked until Speed opened the door.  "Mom's back and wants me in Brazil."

"Like hell," he muttered, pulling him inside to cuddle him.  "Over her dead ass."  He got a smile for that.  "Any other good news?"

"Not yet.  Xander was appreciating Don's leather clad ass so Danny and I were having a snack when she showed up."  He snuggled in better, getting a squeeze.  "They'll be here soon.  He's still using.  That's the excuse she gave for missing my birthday."

"You're nearly seventeen, Ray.  Any judge would ask you."  He got up to let them in when he heard Yelina complaining.  "Hey.  Welcome back to the states."  He closed the door behind them, nodding at Ray to shift out of his seat.  He sat down and Ray shifted back again.  "Sure, you can have a hug.  When's your history test?"

"Monday afternoon," he groaned.  "The teacher said I could take it Tuesday after school if we didn't make it back in time."

"Why wouldn't you?" Yelina asked.

"Because we're flying out Monday morning.  With the way airlines have been delayed recently it's possible.  That's why I had a word with her."  He looked at him.  "I've been studying while you guys had some fun."

"Good.  You've been doing good this semester.  I'm proud."

"As am I," Horatio agreed.  "Especially since you had three days off due to the bomb threat at your school."  She stared.  "One child wanted to put off her exam.  She called in false threats three days in a row. Much like the ones down in Rio last month."

"That wasn't his school."

Ray shrugged.  "And?"  He looked at his uncles.  "Do we have a problem with me staying?"

"No," Speed said.  "Since Xander's firmed up your opinions on being a thug it's been good."  He shrugged.  "You help a lot around the house, kiddo."  He heard the rattle. "Speaking of I think they want you to spoil them.  Horatio couldn't get them calmed down earlier."  He went to play with the young ferret, making her happy.  He looked at Yelina.  "He's doing phenomenal, Yelina.  He's happy, he's safe, he's secure.  He's got good plans for the future and narrowed down his college majors to two or three.  Except for about seven card games he's been doing wonderfully."


"We heard and put a stop to it then," Horatio told her.  "We did hear that all but one of them Xander had an earwhig on him so he could play with him.  That one Ray was chaperoning a friend on a first date with a college freshman and her date's fraternity invited him into a game when she took off in his car."

"His car?"

"Yes, his car," Ray called.  "I'm slowly paying Xander back for my car.  It's a modest little efficiency car I might add.  I get forty miles per gallon."  He looked at his mother. "It's too small to make out in.  It gets me to class.  I pay for my own insurance."


"Xander pays me to help him around the office now and then.  I make about two hundred a month.  Enough for my gas, insurance, and some spending money when I forget to get my allowance from Uncle H."

"We paid for his first year's," Speed told her.  "It was his birthday present once we found out Xander had gotten him the small car.  It's a Tempo?"

"Escort," Ray said.  He looked at the ferrets.  "I'd let you loose but you try to run all over the hotel.  Then the people get upset."

"We need a bigger traveling cage," Speed told him.

"That could help," Ray agreed.  "Then again, we forgot the toys."  That got a smile and a nod.  "Let me go borrow some from the other spoiled ferrets.  Be right back."  He walked up there, knocking.  Danny let him in.  "Can Uncle H's ferrets borrow some toys?  They're bored."

"Sure."  He got them a few of the ones they had still in the bag.  "Here ya go.  Pan of beans, some packing peanuts, and a dryer tube."

"They'll love that.  Thanks."  He hugged him.  "Can I spank her?"

"No.  Not really."  He patted him on the back.  "It'll be okay.  No judge would make you go back to somewhere there's drugs in the house."  He nodded, heading back down there.  Danny closed the door.  "If Horatio lets out that fact since he supposedly died," he muttered.

Ray was let back in.  "They still had these packed."  He put them down and let the ferrets out into the fenced in area, watching them dive and play.  He smiled.  "That's a good set of ferrets."

Horatio smiled.  "Those are some of their favorite sort of toys at home too."  He reached over to pat him on the head.  "Are you all right?"

"No.  I'm rather upset."  He looked at him.  "I don't want to be.  This was supposed to be a happy trip."

"It still is," Speed assured him.  "Remember, convention starts on Friday.  You'll have a  lot of fun.  Steve's running the money management lecture so you can ask him about your college fund of CD's.   See if he can make it grow bigger for you."

"That could be nice."  He put one ferret into the dryer tube, watching her run through it and nip one of the others when she ran into her.  "No biting each other.  Then you have to be cranky."  He got nipped too so he put her back into the cage.  "No biting."  She wiggled out and went back to playing, but she was better behaved.  "Maybe I should become a vet with all the animals in the family."

"You could but you'd have to pull up your science grade," Speed told him.  "That's like med school."

"I know.  That's my third option."

"Are you and your girlfriend sexually active?" his mother asked.

He looked at her.  "I don't think I should have to answer that since you didn't send me a birthday card.  For one of the important birthdays, Mom.  Not like it takes that much time.  You could've even sent it late.  I would've thought it was the international mail backlog."  He went back to playing with them.

"It's not healthy for you."

He snorted, looking at her.  "And the drug whores down in Brazil were?"  She gasped. "Yeah, Mom, as stated earlier, I got jumped down there by Ricardo's sister.  Who tied my ass up.  Not exactly how I wanted that to go.  Fortunately my new one likes to cuddle and watch movies with me."  He went back to playing with the ferrets.  Horatio was giving him one of those looks, he knew he was.  Ray looked back.  "I'm sorry if my temper is getting out of hand."

"I think it has a reasonable excuse at this moment," he said, nodding him to come back over.  "Yelina, what do you think you can give him that he's not getting in Miami?"

"He'll be safe!"

"From?" Ray asked.  "Since Dad's doing drugs from a Mala Noche and they busted all of them again in Miami."  She glared.  "You know what?  If you try to force this I'm going to file for emancipation.  If I have to I can get an after school job to prove I'm able to take care of myself.  That's not a problem.  I will not live in a house where someone is doing drugs.  Ever.  I went through emotional hell the last time, Mom.  So did you.  You might be able to love him in spite of it.  I can't.  As far as I'm concerned, you're shacking up with a ghost."  His uncle gave him a warning squeeze.  "You could come back to Miami if you're that concerned about me.  Then he could ruin his life and not everyone else's.  That way you don't have to see it when they kill him."

"How do you know they will?" Speed asked.

"I asked one of the poker buddies after a game.  I took out the bug for a bit and asked him if I could pose a hypothetical.  I told him everything except for who it was and where it was.  He agreed, they're using him right now to either cause Uncle H pain or because they think he's useable later on.  Probably to cause Uncle H pain.  He did say if I was down there they'd do everything they could to hook me too.  That way they had more of a hook for Uncle H."  He looked at Speed.  "I'm not going to let that happen.  There's no way someone's going to use me to blackmail Uncle H or you into ignoring evidence or doing something stupid.  He also said if they found out they couldn't use him, he'd be like every other junkie out there.  Expendable.  Easily expendable.  The people he's tied to are ruthless and they think of him like a bug.  Interesting, maybe useful in certain circumstances.  Otherwise to be squashed."  He looked at his Uncle.  "I'm not going to let that happen."

"I think that's a very mature decision but you could have come to us with those fears," he said calmly.

"I figured you already realized it."  Horatio nodded.  "I didn't need to add to the burden you already carry with the job.  Besides, at my age, I'm old enough to face some hard, universal truths.  The same as I realize Suzy wasn't in her right mind when she got pregnant.  Drugs do bad things to your mind.  I have hormones for that.  Why do I need drugs?"

Speed smirked.  "That's my line, wasn't it?"

"Yeah, just about."  He nodded.  "At least you warned me that even normal guys are taken over by their hormones around thirteen and never quite get full control back."

"No, they don't," Horatio agreed. She glared at him.  "That is true for all men, Yelina, not just GHS."

"He is not," she snarled, standing up.  "Come along, Raymond."

Ray shifted and pulled out his wallet, finding the card and holding it up.  "I tested out halfway between a level four and five," he said quietly, staring at her.  "I'm damn glad I'm not like the new level nine they found in New York.  I'm happy with who I am, Mom.   Maybe if you let him go to hell by himself you might appreciate the man I'm becoming.  Everyone else seems to."  She stomped off, almost crying.  He slumped, looking at his uncle.  "I feel miserable."

"The guilt is a natural reaction," Speed said.  "Your uncle feels it all the time."  Ray nodded, cuddling up to his side again.  "Shh.  You're staying.  No matter what you're staying, Ray.  If we have to help you file for emancipation we will.  If we have to come out to a judge we will.  It'll be fine."  He looked over when someone pounded on the door.  "Cops?"

"Probably," Horatio agreed, finding his badge on the way to answer the door.  "Yes, Officer?" he asked the officer standing there.

"Sir."  Horatio held up his badge.  "Detective?"

"Lieutenant.  Miami-Dade PD, with the crime lab."  He let them inside.  "Let me guess, my sister-in-law is mad that her son does not want to go live with her again?"

"She claimed you kidnaped him from Brazil, sir."

Ray snorted, looking at him.  "My father made me come up on the smuggler's route instead of the regular way.  I don't know why."  He stood up, smoothing out his clothes.  "I was not kidnaped.  I was fucking miserable in Brazil."  Horatio glared.  "Sorry for the language, you don't deserve that and my temper is high."

"I've heard worse, kid."  He looked at the clean cut, shaved, well-mannered, well-dressed young man and realized he could get an unbiased, slightly emotional, view without a screaming parents match.  "Give me the straight answer.  What happened?"

Ray looked at Horatio.  "I'm going to have to."

"As long as you don't mention a location."

Ray nodded.  "My father was undercover in Miami when he got hooked on Meth.  We thought he was dead.  When he showed back up he had to evacuate to Brazil.  I went with them and so did Mom."  The officer moaned.  Ray took a calming breath, like Xander had taught him.  "While down there, my father started to go back to meth.  I'll be *damned* if I live in a house with a drug addict ever again.  I don't need the emotional hell.  I certainly didn't need my mother deciding that since I'm GHS I shouldn't ever date.  She actually called a priest to try to talk me into the seminary."  The officer groaned.  "I said I wanted to come back up here.  It was safer for me since the supposed nice friends my mother wanted me to hang with were actually part of the same Mala Noche branch that was rehooking my father.  One of them's sister tied me down and had me.  My father managed to clear himself long enough to come save my ass.  He sent me back up to his brother, my uncle Horatio," he said with a point. "For some reason he had me use the smuggler's routes but I made it two days and a kidnaping later.  Since then I've been loved, taken care of; I have a 3.7 GPA.  I'm planning on college in two years.  I have a girlfriend.  A car.  Friends and family that would die for me.  One who nearly has twice.

"If she's complaining about poker games, that same friend used to play poker with the underground in Miami.  Since I used to have thug tendencies he taught me to play, sent me to a few games in his stead with a listening device on so he could coach me.  I got a very strong, pretty safe lesson in how bad that life is and how pathetic some of them are.  Some of them aren't but some of them are.  I'm sorry if my mother's not happy that I'm turning into a man in front of her but she basically lost contact with me before my birthday last year.  She didn't send me a card.  It went from every week getting letters and emails to months apart.  The last time I heard from her was three months before my sixteenth birthday."  He pulled out his license to show him.  "That's nearly a year ago now."  He put it back and looked at him again. "If she's complaining about me being here?  Yes, I am GHS.  It's a hormone condition.  It's medically caused, been found, been tested, all of that.  This is a support network.  They're like extended family that understands these things.  This is my first convention and she knew I was going to be a member before we left.  The week before we left if I remember right.  They did the blood test then because I was showing early signs."

"She claims this is like a swinger's convention?"

"No.  GHS are often sluts but it's our pheromones that do it to us," Speed told him, standing up and coming over with something.  "That's the website.  That's how police log in.  There's a FAQ for police officers now.  Or read the regular page.  Some of the higher levels are natural born concubines.  Ray's a level four, maybe a five when he surges.  That means all he needs is a creative girlfriend.  He has one of those.  This convention is to connect, relax, talk about the problems, learn new things, do some shopping.  Meet with friends.  The same as cop conventions are.  Only this is a medical condition.  If he really wanted sex during it, yeah he could pick up someone.  That would be cheating and he knows we'll thump his ass if we find him cheating on his girlfriend."

"Good men don't do that," Ray agreed.  "I'm growing into a very good man."

The officer looked at him.  "It sounds like it.  Who has official custody?"

"Technically she never signed over custody but she did sent paperwork so we could treat him if something happened," Horatio said, digging that out.  He always carried it, just in case.  "That's what she sent with him."

He looked it over.  "Everything but custody."  Horatio nodded.  "So why come now?"

"Apparently the meth whore wants to see me," Ray said, weathering the slap his uncle gave to the back of his head.  "Sorry."

"Meth's a hard drug to watch go through someone," the officer said, looking at him.  "He's still a parent."

"As far as I know he died when I was eleven.  The zombie who came back a few years ago wasn't him.  My father died."

The officer nodded.  "I know this is hard."

"I told her this.  She nearly threw a fit that I'm dating."

"You should be dating at your age."

"That's what I thought," Ray agreed dryly.  He shrugged.  "I don't know what's wrong with her.  Right now I'm tired and I'm not sure I really care.  I might care in the morning, when I've got more emotional distance.  Right now I need a heavy bag."

"There's one in the gym," Speed said quietly.  "We can do that."  He looked at the officer.  "We didn't kidnap him."

"No, it's clear you didn't."  He handed back the paperwork.  "Let me talk to her."

"We'll be in the gym," Speed said.  That got a nod.  "C'mon, Ray.  Let's blow it off before you get more pissed."

"Please."  He gave his uncle a hug.  "You can come help," he said, giving him a look.

He smiled, smoothing out some of his hair.  "I'll lose my stress by yelling at her."  Ray nodded, heading down there.  "Let's talk to my sister-in-law," he said, grabbing keys and heading out with him.   He found her pacing outside.  "Since you basically stuck him on a plane, that means we didn't kidnap him, Yelina.  You were an officer, you know that."

"She was?" the officer asked.

"With homicide.  She was a detective second grade."  He stared at her for a minute. "You have now hurt your son enough that he is all but crying.  Are you proud?"


"Are.  You.  Proud?" he asked.

She glared at him. "He's my son."

"Then you should've remembered his birthday.  You should've kept in better contact with him.  Your actions don't speak to your words, Yelina."  He shifted slightly to the side, studying her.  "Let me guess, Ray's going so far downhill that you need someone to latch onto?  Someone to be there, for you to love?"  She hit at him.  He ducked.  "Do it again.  Watch me charge you."  She shrieked and went after him again.

Xander walked out and grabbed her around the waist, hauling her off him.  He laid into her in Portugese, making her back off while he yelled at her, poking her on the chest, until she ran off crying.  "And leave Ray alone!  You didn't give enough of a damn to even put him on a real plane!"  He huffed, looking at Horatio.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm all right, Xander.  Thank you.  You didn't have to."

Xander gave him a hug.  "Yes I did.  She made you and Ray cry.  She can stay down in Brazil."  He walked off shaking his head.  Don gave him a worried look.  "Yelina's back."


"I don't know."  He looked around.  He looked at the desk clerk.  "Ray?"  She pointed toward the gym.  "Thanks."  He headed that way, stopping him beating on the heavy bag to hug him.  "Shh.  She's not taking you.  Even if I have to hide you she's not taking you."  He swallowed, nodding and clinging to him.  "We love you.  We want you.  You're safe and loved.  You're like my little brother.  Who else would I go on ice cream binges with?"  Ray broke, starting to cry.  "Shhh, Ray."  He got them sitting down, holding him.  "Shh, it's all right.  I've got you.  You're safe.  Your uncles are right here."  Speed pulled him up to hug him.  Letting Ray cry on him.  Don helped Xander up, letting Horatio get in there to hug him on the other side.  Xander got a hug from Don.  "If I have to help him, I will," he told Horatio.  "If he needs to prove emancipation with a job, I can make one up if I have to."  They nodded at that.  Don led him off.  He put his head on his shoulder.  "Mine are worse. Mine want money."

"Has Gunn said anything?"

"Not yet.  He's filed a protest since I never heard about the action or had legal council there to start for my side.  What they did was illegal.  I'm hoping the higher judge laughs it out of court.  I also gave him the case number with CPS.  That way he can prove it if he has to."  He looked at him.  "Am I bad?"

"No, you're not bad.  They're selfish.  They didn't write for years, didn't go looking for you except that fake run-away warrant with the wrong age on it when they were looking for money right after you left.  When your mother tried to give a damn she started a cult and kidnaped you to torture you.  Then suddenly they come back lookin' for money.  It's not your fault, Xander."  Xander nodded, calming himself down.  "You know, I saw Ray do that earlier?"

He grinned.  "I taught him how to meditate to control his temper."

"I'm proud.  You do it very well."  He led him to get some ice cream and then back up to their floor.  Horatio and Speed were walking Ray up.  "Want him to take our spare room, just in case she tries again?"

"She won't," Horatio said, smiling at him.  "It'll be fine."  He went to tuck Ray into bed, kissing him on the head.  "Try not to have nightmares, Ray.  If you do, come crawl in."  He nodded, curling up on his side.  "We love you.  Remember that."  He stroked over his hair then left, closing the door behind him.  He looked at the agents watching.  "His mother."

"I got there in time to see Xander lay into her."

"I probably said some things I shouldn't but I lost my temper," Xander admitted, eating some of his ice cream. He held some up.  "Want some, Horatio?"  He took the bite with a smile and led Speed back to their room.  "She hopefully won't try anything else tonight. It's late.  She's already tried an officer to say they kidnaped him when she and her spouse put him on the plane."  He shrugged.  "We'll handle it.  He'll be shielded."  That got a nod.  "Thanks, guys.  No more prince?"

"No, he's in federal detention for conspiracy to commit kidnaping and attempted kidnaping."  That got a smile and a nod, then they went to their rooms.  He checked the hall then went to make note of it.  Just in case.   He caught Adam staring at the outside "Ray's fine."

"He will heal.  All hearts do," he told him, looking at him.  "Until then we can only weather the emotional storm."

"Xander made her run off crying after screaming at her and poking her on the chest."

Adam grinned.  "He does have that ability.  He's done it to a number of people who tried to take him as well."  He looked at him.  "You should rest.  The convention starts on Friday; we'll start showing up tomorrow."

"That's why we're taking shifts."

"Good."  He walked off, leaving it in his hands.  He hadn't taken her as vengeful but one never knew when it came to mothers.


Xander bounced into the opening ceremony, smiling at them.  "Hi, guys.  Adam's behind me."   Someone tugged on his arm so he looked then followed him out.  "What's up, Gunn?  News?"

"Some news.  They threw out the old verdict.  They sent it back to be reheard."  Xander groaned.  "Do we have a good reason why you shouldn't?"

"They're drunks.  The CPS files.  They didn't look for me when I left?"  He shrugged.  "They don't care.  They want money.  Tell my mother I'm gay, watch her sickened look."

"I know you used to work.  When did that start?"

"When I was fifteen and I had to start paying them rent."  Gunn nodded, making note of that.  "Yes, CPS knew.  I turned them in for the extra money.  Then I turned them in for the bruises the cut in their foodtamps got me."

"Your CPS file is sealed."

Xander smirked.  "If I ask, they have to, right?"  He nodded.  "Get me the forms."

"Already have 'em."  He let him see them then sign them.  "Any other evidence we have?"

"Ask Willow.  If she's being honest again she'll tell the truth."

Gunn nodded.  "How long were you in New York before you heard from them?"

"I haven't heard from them since the day I moved out with the exception of the cult and kidnaping to torture me thing over a year ago."

Gunn smirked. "That'll work too.  Saw them?"

"Once in the grocery store.  She turned her nose up and walked the other way.  I saw Uncle Rory the day we got here on the interstate around the city.  He was driving.  Isn't he still on a suspended licence for DUI?"

"Probably."  He wrote that down as well.  "Any presents, cards, that stuff?"

"Not since I was younger, preteen."

"Any chance of you having kids?"

"What I am means I'm infertile."

"The sword stuff?" he asked quietly, glancing around.  Xander nodded.  "Okay."  He wrote that down too.  "Will?"

"Boyfriends, made family.  Pets."

"Okay."  He finished taking notes.  "We hear it in six days.  They're not that busy in Sunnydale and they filed immediately when they got the turn down."

"Sure.  Need me to fly back?"

"Please.  That's Thursday.  It's at eleven."

"I can be there."  He nodded at that, giving him a  punch on the arm before heading off.  He turned to find Ray K looking at him.  "My parents tried to file to have me support their drunk asses."

"Pay 'em off?"

"Hasn't been suggested yet."  He walked in with him, sitting down in the back so Adam could go on with his speech.  This year's was about the trials of being a GHS and how we overcame a lot to be ourselves.  Most people were smiling.  They clapped and they went to the nibble/wander and greet old friends event.  He found Greg and hugged him.

"Get off," the agent watching them growled.

"Oh, fuck yourself, man.  Greg's my friend.  I can hug him if I want.  Get the dildo out of the ass sideways," he said when the agent glared at him.  The guy advanced on him so he knocked him out and drug him outside the hotel, leaving him there.  "Members only this weekend.  Sorry!"  He walked back inside, smiling at Tony, who was snickering.  "We can protect you too."

"Gibbs didn't want to send him but he had court this morning."

"Pity his headache later."  He hugged Tony too.  "Are you all right now?"

"I'm fine.  It was an idiot.  Gibbs nearly bit him in half.  We're making sure there's no more of them."

"We had that prince from last year."  He shrugged and walked him over to get him more to nibble on, that way he could share with Greg.  "Did you see?  We brought Ray Junior."

"I did."  Tony smiled at Ray Junior.  "Not being fussed over?"

"He's fussing over you instead so Danny doesn't spot him and spank him."

"I've been a good boy," Xander told him, looking innocent.

"Uh-huh," Ray said dryly.  "The crystal spider on his pillow when he woke up?"

"There was?"


"Don't like spiders, Ray."

"Oh.  Huh. Any idea?"

"No but I'll stay up late tonight," he said with a small shrug, getting him a plate of food too.  "There, fussing.  Alexx would be proud and so would Speed."

"Yes they would," Speed said as he came over.  "Even fruit, I'm impressed, Xander."  The boy beamed and bounced off to talk to someone else.  "He's not happy this convention."

"Well, he's been in tough-guy mode the whole time we've been here," Ray reminded him.

"We can fix that too."  He went to capture Xander and sit him with Don.  "Camping kit?"

"Got it in my bag," he admitted.  He walked Xander upstairs and made him relax with a eye mask, a cd player with headphones, and a long cuddle until he finally fell asleep.


Gibbs stomped up to Tony.  "Xander took him out," Tony told him.

"Knew he was a wimp."  He looked around.  "Where is he?"

"Sleeping, still.  He's been on the tough guy track the whole trip.  Plus his parents are trying to sue him to upkeep them."

Gibbs chuckled.  "There's no judge that dumb in the country."

"The first judge let them get away with hiring a public defender to take his council's place since he hadn't been told.  I'm told the higher judge looked at the transcripts and laughed."  He sipped his punch.  "Greg's across the room."

"I saw.  You good?"

"So far.  Someone tried to kidnap Xander; the prince from last year."  That got a moan.  "He's in federal custody.  Epps is running security.  Ray Junior had a small problem when his mother showed up.  Someone snuck a crystal spider in next to Danny's head this morning.  Hubert corralled all his women and Don's brother Charlie into one area so he could have all his harem."  That got a snicker from Gibbs.  "He likes Charlie's hair."

"He's getting closer to going home," Ryan said as he joined them.  "We're watching out for Greg and Tony too, Gibbs."

"Thank you.  Any other problems?"

"No.  Just those so far.  Epps did the same thing you did, GPS bracelet and a bug."

"That's a good idea," Gibbs decided.

"We let Ray go with him," Ryan said with a smirk.  "We hear it later."

"How's he doing?" Tony asked.  "I heard."

"He's okay at the moment.  Still bummed that she showed back up."

Gibbs gave him a 'why don't I know about this' look.  Tony shifted slightly closer.  "His mom showed up Thursday night."  Gibbs moaned, shaking his head.  "She wants him back in Brazil."

"Xander said he can't and Ray doesn't want to," Ryan told him.  "So we're in a deadlock.  She's already tried to say they kidnaped him."  He pointed.  "Matter of fact, she's hiding in the corner."

"We're all ignoring her," Greg assured him.   "Like the rest of the family is."  He grinned at Gibbs.  "They've got a new toy in the shopping area and they wanted at least one of the agents to test it since it's a self-defense weapon."

"Lead on."  He led him that way, letting him see the prototype.  He hefted it.  "A bit hefty for a purse weapon or a pocket."  He looked at it.  "Electrical?"

"Not quite," the seller said, handing him a pamphlet.  "It's a different type of pain beam.  Not quite electricity but a stun gun sort.  Even though it hits on a different frequency and immobilizes without the risk of seizures, strokes, or heart attacks.   It does have a few different buttons, including a 120 decibel alarm."  She showed him the buttons.  "That one has standard pepper spray.  That's the trigger for the stun gun.  That's the alarm," she said, pointing at the blue button.  "It's all in one area so you can hit them all at once to really make the person trying you sorry."

"The next bad guy who shows up we can try it on," Greg said cheerfully.   He saw Xander go running past.  "Huh.  Wonder what that's about."

Tony followed more slowly, watching the huge thing that was towering over the hotel.  "What the hell?" he muttered.  "Hey, Xander, is it robotic or material?" he called.

"Robotic.  I don't have anything to short it out though.  Got a taser?"  The robot laughed.  "Aw, fuck," he muttered.  "Don't make me blow you up.  The Feds won't like it."  It suddenly shut down and he turned, finding someone with a remote.  "What the hell are you doing?"

"Pay me and I'll leave it off," he sneered.

Xander punched him, taking the remote.  "Stupid fucking brat, Warren.  Grow the hell up!"  Ian leaned out of the main hotel doors.  He waved the remote.  "Want the toy?"

"Sure."  He came out to look at the remote.  "What can it do?"

"At that size, sneezing is probably dangerous," Xander said, pointing at him.  "He's an evil overlord wannabe.  This isn't his first attempt."

Warren pressed something in his pocket and the robot reactivated, focusing on Ian since he had the remote.  "You'll die for hitting me."

Xander glared, then upped his hormones, watching him whimper. "I'd beg me not to kill you."


"Warren, take a *real* good look at who I am," Xander said dryly.  He looked then swallowed.  "Just because I live in Miami doesn't mean I can't take apart your tonka toy."

Warren stood up.  "She's not here," he sneered.

"I don't need her."  He concentrated and his bag of weapons came flying at him, letting him pull out something.  He put it next to him, safe end on the ground.  Warren whimpered.  "Your choice, Warren.  I can shower this courtyard with metal or you can let some Feds and their scientists have it."

"No, mine!" he snarled.  Ian looked then tried the off button.  Didn't work.  "Ha!  I'll never turn it off now!" he shouted, starting to move.  Xander shot at his feet, making him scream but stop and go to his knees on the ground, covering his head.  "Don't kill me!"

"Nice shot, even with a crappy gun," Ian said, taking it from him.  "Get the remote."  Xander went to pat him down for the remote while the robot snarled at him.  "And put the weapon back."

"Yes, Ian," he sighed.

Tony came out with something and shot it at the robot, shutting it down.  "There, better."  He beamed.  "Hey, boss, the zappy thingy works against giant robots who want to stomp Feds," he called as he walked back that way.  He got a few amused looks.  "An evil geek tried to take us all.  Xander's handling him," he finished cheerfully.

Don Epps parked and got out, looking at the robot.  "Tell me that's a Hollywood stunt that moved in the wrong direction?"  Ian pointed at the cowering guy who was begging Xander not to hurt him.  "Uh-huh.  Who is he?"

"Xander called him Warren, seems to know him, Epps."

"From high school," Xander called.

"So he's from Sunnydale too?" Don asked.

Xander beamed and nodded.  "Yup.  He wants to be an evil overlord.  You know, he's really smart.  I'm sure some government project somewhere could use his brains."

"Didn't you pay to get scientists and geeks back from that sort of situation?" Ian asked dryly.

"Well, yeah," Xander admitted.  "But they didn't piss me off.  You can give him a choice of projects or jail.  I'm sure the nice, buff, big, gang guys would *love* someone like Warren if he made that choice instead of upping the military science people or even like the one the demon underground talks about going on by NORAD.  You could even let the one with the hair help him choose.  That'd be free will instead of conscription or being sold into slavery."  He beamed.  "It's even logical."

"I'm proud you're using reasoning," Don said dryly.  "For right now, let's take him into custody, Xander."

"Can I have the crappy gun back?  It's all Calleigh would let me bring for guns."

"Fine," Ian said, handing it back.  "Put it into the bag too."

Xander dropped it in there.  Warren gave him an odd look.  He pulled out the rocket again.  "I can give them a puzzle.  Many scientists like puzzles."

"The bag isn't that big," he said quietly, staring at him.  "How?"

Xander grinned.  "Mystical road trips with a priest of Ares."  He put the weapon back and walked inside, handing Don the bag.  "Remember the tapes about Warren?  It was him.  Don and Ian have him."

"Good," he said, going to look.  "Guys, need handcuffs?"

"Got a few sets in the car, thanks anyway," Don said.  "You'll probably need them later for when he's bouncier again."

Don Flack just smirked.  "I don't need 'em.  That's Danny."  He strolled off again, going to help Xander calm down.  "It's not a problem.  Just a geek with a mega robot.  Apparently he liked anime."  That got a few laughs.  "The Feds have it."

"BUT THAT CAN'T HAPPEN!  IT'S NOT LOGICAL!  EVEN ROSENBURG CAN'T MAKE THAT HAPPEN!" was shouted outside and floated in to them.

Xander snickered.  "Wow, I'm really impressive.  Not only am I a helper of karma, now I crank the laws of the universe too.  I should be proud."

Ray Junior looked at him then shook his head slowly.  "You need more chocolate.  There's a whole fondue fountain, Xander.  Get me some too?"  Xander beamed and went to do that.  He looked at his uncle.  "This one can't come to Miami, right?"

"No, I believe they'll be finding him a more appropriate way to wear out the urges to take over the world," Horatio decided with a small sigh at the end, shaking his head slightly.  The young guy ran in.  "Yes?" he asked patiently.

"Where is he!  He can't do that!  Not even Picard and Q can do that!" he snarled.

Xander looked over.  "Q created a number of alternate realities, they were simply shallow and not for more than a single use.  You need to rewatch those eps and quit listening to Riker's pick-up lines, Warren."  He strolled back over, handing Ray his plate of snacks with a small bowl of chocolate dipping fondue.  His own was in his hand.  "Then again, isn't the whole 'Janeway' issue a real alternate universe in some ways?  They ran into plenty of time slips.  She was not only portaling to another realm by what they went through, but it was pretty close to doing planeular travel too in many ways.  If you studied those books, they're fascinating.  Then you could have your own Planet Kirk with hotty girls in go-go boots."

Warren swallowed.  "You can do that?"

"I can do that," he said smugly.  "Ryan could probably do that if he asked.  A few of the others of us in here can too."  He nibbled on a dipped berry, frowning.  "Frozen.  Still chilly.  Not bad really."  He ate another one, then smirked at him.  "Hell, Warren, half the people in here could own a country and rule it with their lover's amused pleasure if we *really* wanted to.  Even women like the one in the corner would drop at our feet.  You just don't have it, dude."  Warren snarled and threw something at Yelina, then hit something on his beltline, fading from view.  He looked up, then fingered something on his necklace.  He looked at Horatio.  "DPP can find him and bring him back."  Warren and Yelina both returned, her scowling at him.  "Just think, I was gonna grow up to be just like him," he said with an evil smirk at Yelina.  He walked off nibbling.  "He's in here," he called.  Ian walked in and grabbed him, then looked at Yelina and grabbed her since she was wearing furs and high heeled strappy sandals.  Don drove them off with Yelina complaining about this strange young man.  Xander grinned at Ray Junior then kissed him on the cheek.  "Now she knows how hard it can be," he said quietly, walking off.

Ray pointed. "That's an evil day.  I can't cure those."

"I can," Horatio said, going to calm Xander down with Speed and Danny's help.  It might even take Ryan to help knock him out but they could do that.  Speed took his plate, Horatio knocked him out, and Danny carried him off.  "Get him back into cuddly mode, Danny."

"I'm tryin'," he complained.  "Not my fault the evil geek squad showed up!"  He walked off with Xander, Don coming to help.  "You know, Yelina might've gotten through to him about how bad he was."

"Could be.  She's a strong, stubborn woman," Don agreed.

Ray shook his head quickly.  "That's a bad thought."  Adam gave him an odd look.  "If Mom could out-stubborn that guy or he could do it to her."  He walked off nibbling, giving his uncle a hug.  "He warned her to leave me alone.  Next time maybe she shouldn't send me a threat in the hotel mail."  Horatio glared at him.  He pulled it out of his pocket and handed it over.  "There you go."  He walked off.  "I didn't even tell him.  I don't know how he knew."

Horatio looked at the note saying Yelina was going to be dragging him home, by force if necessary, come Sunday night and he would not put up a fuss or she would be making sure he was a priest when she got done fixing him so he was good again.  "That is a threat," he agreed, going to fax it to Don Epps' office.  He could handle Yelina.  They had to get Xander unevil for a bit longer.  Before he went to the center of evil and had to be evil to the remains of his family.  Then again, Yelina had brought it onto her own head.....

Maybe the Gods were letting Xander help with the karma issue after all.


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