Poker Buddies Cause Interesting Issues.
Xander looked at his newest debt payment, frowning. "Is there a problem?" the guy asked, looking nervous.
"Looking at the new design. I haven't seen them yet." He smiled. The man relaxed. "It's cool. Thank you." The guy nodded and fled. Xander walked out, taking the bills to the car. He hesitated over going to the lab or a contact but decided the contact was probably a better idea. He went to find his poker game. He wasn't usually welcome there, but....
He parked and got out, getting glared at by the bouncers. "I need to ask someone a question. I think someone broke into someone else's stash." He held up the marked bill, getting a groan. He walked inside. "Ah, Sam, one of the three I wanted to see today." He sat down and handed over the stack. "If one of my poker debts payed me in that marked bill....."
Sam flipped through the bound stack, stopping at one. "They're in deep," he said, looking at the kid, who smirked. "That's a CIA drop marking."
"I wasn't sure which one it was but the Initiative guys used to get money for paychecks marked with that. I wasn't sure if that was NSA or not." The poker table all paused. "Someone paid me in a marked bill."
Sam nodded with a small smirk. "From a CIA drop." He held it up.
"Want me to tell Horatio or what do I need to do? That's all he owed me today but he's paid off about six debts in the last week."
"I'll call someone, let you know," Sam offered. "If he's getting into the cash drop, he's in deep. They might take him out of the circle in a pretty harsh manner."
"I don't want the guy dead, but I don't want them coming after me."
"I know. Let me talk to someone. They might just make him pay it back."
"He's got five kids and the poker circle is getting a bit worried about him."
"I'll mention that. They might kick him out."
"He's got some blackmail files," Xander warned quietly. "Not near as good as my notes but...."
"I'll keep that in mind too." He smiled. "Let me handle it."
"Gladly, as long as they don't try to hit the family." He got up and left, taking the ticket from the person trying his car. "Stop it."
She gaped. "Oh, shit, it's you. Why are you here?" she demanded. She was looking around nervously.
"I had to ask someone inside a question. Since there's no meters, there's no reason for a ticket."
"Your tags are expired," she said smugly.
Xander looked. "It says October. It's still October." She stomped off. He drove off to the lab. It was a pretty good day to drive, thankfully since it was an hour drive thanks to traffic. He parked and got out, finding Frank giving him an odd look. "Isn't it October?"
"My new plates haven't come in and the tag's going out."
"Call them? Did you pay your taxes?"
"I don't know. Don was supposed to."
"I'll have Don check." Xander grinned, handing over the ticket. "Thanks, kid." Xander got in and drove off. He went to talk to Don. "Did you pay the car taxes?"
"Shit," he muttered, finding the site online so he could do that. "Ticketed for bad plates?"
"Nearly." Frank looked at it then at him. "The same one he hormoned." He handed over the ticket. "He's headed home probably."
"Thanks, Frank." He paid them with his card, watching as it declined. He texted Wade, who said he had already paid them for the kid. But there wasn't a listing for it. Wade said he'd call. Plus make sure Xander didn't drive anything that was out of date. "Thank God for Wade," he muttered.
Frank snickered from his desk. "Your boy's slightly psychotic wonder assistant already take care of it?"
"Yup. He'll make sure Xander doesn't drive anything without tags."
"Good for him."
Horatio walked out talking on his phone. "Thank you for that information, Fiona. Yes, I'll let Fu know. It was good that Xander offered that information. I'm sure they'll be nice if they have to come?" He smirked. "Even better. Should I, as the head of the crime lab, go check on that money drop?" Don gave him an odd look. "Even better. Thank you, Fiona." He hung up and looked at Don. "Xander's debtor that paid today paid from a CIA money drop."
"Shit," Don said dryly. "Are we in trouble?"
"No. They are. Frank, I'm going to Fu's." He got followed out the door by Frank. Frank grinned at him. "Avoiding paperwork?"
"Many." Horatio smirked back. They understood each other perfectly. They got into the crime lab hummer, which meant Horatio got to drive, and headed down to Chinatown. Fu's was busy. It even had normal people in it.
Horatio walked in, taking off his glasses. "Fu, may I speak to you and Wyatt please?"
"Something wrong with something?" Wyatt asked casually.
"I thought he was acting funny," Wyatt complained.
Horatio followed them back to the bag room. He looked at Wyatt. "That's because they were paying him out of a government money drop." Fu muttered, shaking his head. "That the CIA runs."
"Shit," Wyatt said, staring at him. "We're good?"
"You are fine. You did not know. Xander somehow realized it and went to talk to someone retired. They assured me that he was not going to be killed, his family was not going to be touched, because Xander made sure to mention his children, and they'll be talking to him quickly."
"He's here," Wyatt said, looking at Fu.
"I can cancel that game," he decided, going to have a word with the dealer. The dealer called the game at the end of that hand. The others groaned. Fu looked at them. "There has been a family issue that has come up. You're welcome to join the other tables." He walked off with the dealer, who fled as Fu had ordered. The guy only wanted him to deal when he played.
Horatio smiled. "Who paid it?" Wyatt wrote down his name and address. "Thank you. That way we can make sure nothing untoward happens."
"Lieutenant, he's raising those kids himself."
"I'll make sure he's not going to have that big of a problem." He walked off, calling Sam on the way back to the hummer to make sure he told someone that. They did not want him killed. Those children needed him alive to raise them.
Xander looked over as Wade stomped in. "Problems?"
"You turned in a poker buddy for using funny money?"
"No, I turned him in because the bills looked just like what the Initiative guys used to be paid in."
"Shit," Wade said, staring in awe. Xander nodded. "That sucks."
"Yeah. A lot. He has kids."
"They'll probably just kick his ass and make him pay it back as long as he tells them how he did it and if there's others," Wade said. "I'll listen around for it." He looked at him. "Your car taxes got paid today. So tags in a week or so."
"Are the SUV's tags still good? And theirs?"
"Theirs aren't due until January. Your SUV ones are now dead too."
Xander huffed. "Damn. I can't take cabs."
"We'll figure it out."
Xander considered it. "Sam needs his own car," he muttered.
Wade gaped. "He'd fuss."
"Sam likes to fuss." He gave him a hopeful look. "We can make Sam not fuss."
"Sam will fuss for *months*," Wade reminded him.
Dean came down the stairs to stare at them. "Why will Sam fuss?"
"Sam needs his own car," Xander pointed out. "Just so he can go on dates."
Dean nodded at that. "Yeah, he could. He keeps trying to borrow the Impala or yours. So?"
"Tags are dead," Wade told him.
"His, though yes, yours are too." Dean grumbled at that, shaking his head. "He was thinking about solving one problem with making Sam fuss."
"Sam will fuss."
Xander shrugged. "I owe Sam some money anyway."
"Good point. Yeah, he'll fuss and whine and pout. Which means I'd have to listen to it."
Xander looked up something and showed him. "That would fit Sam."
Dean nodded. "It would fit Sammy." He looked upstairs then at Xander. "Will it really take that long?"
"I owe him like three grand."
"Maybe used then."
"You just want to shop, dude. Make Wade take you and Anya shopping."
"After the last time, never the hell again," Wade assured him. Xander cackled. "Even if I benefitted from it, no." Jensen bounced in. "His tags are dead."
"Crap. Well, as long as we're together we can probably cab."
"Hell no," Dean ordered. "Even to the spa. No."
"We have two hours," Jensen said.
Xander shrugged. "I suggested paying off the money I owe Sam by fixing that situation."
Jensen blinked. "How much money do you have?"
"Tons," Wade said. He looked at Xander. "Take him, Jensen. You two can figure that out."
"Sammy," Dean called. He came bouncing down the stairs with a grin. "Xander was suggesting he pay off the money he owes you with a car."
"I can bum ours," Sam told Dean, scowling at Xander. "I don't need it."
"The last time we needed tags, it took a month," Xander told him. "You could use your own for dates and things."
Sam shook his head. "I've got my eye on something but I haven't found one come up for sale. Sorry, Xander."
Xander sighed. "That means I have to break into an emergency plan." He stood up. "C'mon, Jensen."
"Sure, Xander." He shot Sam a look. "Dean, your tags were dead too. So was your sticker."
"It gets better and better," he said dryly. "Gee, thanks."
"Welcome," Jensen quipped. "C'mon, Xander." They left together, taking a cab to a fairly bad part of town. The driver gave them an odd look. "He's visiting a friend, not going to buy drugs." The driver just nodded at that. Jensen looked at him once they had gotten out. "Emergency plans?"
"What happens if I die in the open," he said quietly. "People know who I am."
"Good point." He let Xander led them to the building about a block away. "We could've landed there."
"Nah, it's an even worse neighborhood." He waved at someone. "Checking on things." The gang kid watching from a stoop nodded at that, grinning slightly at them. Xander pulled out his keys, letting them into the front door.
Jensen looked around in awe. It wasn't an apartment building anymore. It was a full house. They were in the living room/media room/computer lab. "Wow."
Xander grinned. "I got the idea when I met another version of myself at this place called The Crossroads Bar. It's where people who're switching realms or realities end up."
"We had one of those issues?"
"Two actually. I helped with one." He grinned. "The me there was a world famous gunman and thief."
"Shit," Jensen said, staring at him. "You?"
"Yeah, me. You've seen that Lupin anime?" Jensen nodded slowly. "I was Jigen's student in that world. Plus Goemon's since I was really hot with the katana."
"Wow. I'd never expect that."
"I was kinda a shadow knight."
"That makes more sense." He looked around, going to the other rooms to look around. "Holy shit, that's a cray."
Xander jogged up the stairs. "That's two cray's." He grinned. "That's got the same software on it so I can arrange things, move them quickly before anyone notices, and so I can run the quiet server that we use for the family."
"Wow." He grinned. "That's totally cool." Xander beamed at him for that. "You have a car here?"
"Yeah, totally unnoticed. Which I think Sam would like," he admitted. He walked off. "C'mon." He led him to the garage. There were two motorcycles, a sports car, a black SUV with tinted windows, and a sedan. "What do you think about giving Sam the sedan?"
"I think it's a modern Impala and Dean would think that suitable since it's the family car." He looked at Xander. "You overspent?"
"Oh hell yes. But in case we all have to evacuate it's handy."
"Very. Guns? Because I know you have an armory." Xander opened the closet in the garage, letting him look. "That's a nice selection." He closed it. "Did the gang kid know?"
"That I have a hiding spot from Don and Danny, yeah. We have a great security system down here. I don't have to do a thing, it's based on the key and it'll start again once the garage door closes." He pulled the Impala's keys off the board and held them up. "Am I driving?"
"You're backed up so no." He took them with a grin. "I won't tell the guys about this unless necessary."
"Not a problem. It makes sense for you to make plans." They got into the Impala, him hitting the button to open the garage door. They backed out and the door closed automatically. A small light on the opener lit up then went out. "Sensor?"
"Yup, showing it's back on. The security company did that for me." He grinned.
"Wonderful." He drove off. "That's really safe." He drove them to the Japanese spa. He parked and got out, checking the tags on the plate. They were still good until March. He walked Xander inside. "We're here for our appointment with Tia," he told the receptionist in Japanese.
She giggled and called Tia out for them.
Tia smiled at them. "It's nice to see you two again," she said in Japanese, getting bowed at. Xander gushed at her about something as they walked, making her giggle and correct some of his pronunciations. She was helping them a lot with their Japanese lessons. She helped Xander out of his clothes and onto the mat so she could work on his back. She always started with the ancient art of massaging him with her feet and then moved to the regular one after. Jensen got the same treatment and he groaned just as much. It made her wonder but it wasn't her job to wonder if he was like the bouncy one. Xander tipped her wonderfully as usual then they left. They'd be stopping for ice cream, like usual.
Dean looked outside. "That's a sweet silver and black Impala," Dean said. "Sammy, looks like he handled it for you after all." Sam stomped out there.
Xander got out and smiled. "It's from the emergency backup plans. Of course I can't keep it there anymore...."
Sam scowled. "Xander!"
"He needs to keep the backup plans in case he dies openly," Jensen said.
"I guess," Sam said.
"So, if not, we'll let it be sold but you'll have to take the trunk mods out." He smirked. "Until you get your own, you can bum."
"Thanks, Xander. You still owe me that three grand though."
Xander paid him, kissing him on the cheek. "Fussy. Don't make me take you shopping, Sam. You need date clothes." Sam groaned, walking off.
Wade leaned out, staring. "Emergency backup hideout?" Xander grinned and nodded. "Sweet choice. Decent enough car. Weapons?"
Xander opened the trunk so Wade came over. "Some."
"Nice enough for being out." He clapped the boy on the back. "If you have to, you can have Clay and them dump it for you so you can buy something else."
"He has a few others," Jensen said with a smile. "It's covered if he burns it."
"Wonderful." He looked the kid over. "Go nap. We can handle dinner prep for you."
Xander scowled. "I can cook!"
"Go nap," Sam ordered. "You're limp and have that cuddly look. I don't want to cuddle so take Hubert or Jensen." He gave him a shove. "We'll talk about the car stuff later." Xander pouted but trudged that way. He glared at Jensen. Who smacked him on the side of the head. "Hey!"
"Xander has to keep his emergency plans current, Sam," Wade said. "The same as we would."
"Still, a car?"
"Yeah," Wade agreed. "That's practical, the same as the weapons are. Everyone knows his corvette and SUV."
Jensen nodded. "It's also where the server for the email system is. It's sweet."
"I doubt Xander would get somewhere nasty," Wade agreed.
"Slightly but fixed up. Oh, and this Crossroads Bar place?" Sam choked. "He said he got some help from another version of himself who was an assassin." He walked off. "Hubert, the daddy needs cuddled." The dragon roared from the bedroom. "Good dragon." Dean shoved him in there. "Hey!"
"Suffer for making Sammy pout, dude. Only I get to make Sammy pout that way." He closed the door and walked off to look at the new car in the family. "She's not as classic."
"The newer version isn't meant to be," Wade said with a shrug. "No newer cars are meant to be." Pooch pulled in and got out, staring at the car. "From his emergency plan."
"Sweet." He came over to look in the trunk. "Nice work." He looked over. "Is he trading out?"
"He has others according to Jensen," Wade said. "I have no idea where."
"That's probably better anyway," Pooch decided. "Where is Jensen?"
"I made him help Xander take a nap," Dean told him. "For making Sammy pout." Sam punched his brother on the arm with a growl. "Oh, whine. No one likes you pouting, Sammy. It's bad for everyone." He looked at Pooch again then at Wade. "It's not a bad car. I've test driven the new version but I like mine better."
"It's said to be a good drive," Pooch agreed. "Any idea how strong his emergency plans are?"
"No clue," Wade admitted.
"Huh." He nodded. "Okay. We'll make sure Clay knows there is one. Is he using this and then burning it because his plates are dead?"
"He said Sammy could use it until he found one," Dean said. "Which made him pout."
"Sam, you need to pout less," Pooch said. "Grown men only pout if they're Xander or want something from their boyfriends." Sam glared. "You don't see Clay pouting, right?"
"We never saw our dad do it either so he must've gotten it from Mom," Dean said with a shrug. "Then again, Sammy's pout has protected him more than once. He pouted his way out of a kidnaping a few times." Sam nodded, smirking at them. Jensen leaned out then grabbed something off the counter and went back in. "We made him help Xander take a nap."
"They could probably use it after the spa treatment," Wade decided. He looked at Pooch. "Think we can burn it if we need to?"
"In many ways." He looked at Sam, who walked off in a huff. He looked at Dean. "Doesn't that bother you?" he asked quietly.
"No more than bouncy people do," he shot back. "I'm used to Sammy's mood swings. Bouncy took me some time to get used to." He walked off. "Someone needs to take Xander to the hairdresser for some split end treatments."
"Yay," Wade sighed.
"Don't look at me," Pooch said quickly. "Jolene doesn't need that stuff. She'll get ideas. She can't go to the spa with him either."
"Damn, you're tougher on her than I am on Anya," Wade complained. "You don't spoil your wife at all? Doesn't she complain?" He walked off.
"Watch me shoot you," Pooch sneered.
"You can try. Won't do you any good."
"I'll make sure you're gone yet," he called after him.
"Uh-huh." He walked in and shut the door.
Pooch glared at the house then left, going to tell Clay that the family had a backup plan. Don was there looking over some information on someone. "Did we know that Xander had an emergency area?"
"Xander makes a lot of little backup plans," Don said, smiling at him. "That's how Ryan got his apartment, Ray Junior got his, and we got the farm. Where's this one?"
"I don't know but it's got a car. He pulled it out to burn it and let Sam use it."
"Hmm. Probably that building he owns down in Mala territory that we're not supposed to know about," Don decided, getting back to the file. Clay made a disgusted noise. Don smirked. "It's a nice building from the outside. One of the poker buddies told us to make sure we knew that Xander was hanging out down there and not playing poker."
"So he can make emergency plans?" Clay asked. "Good ones?"
"Yeah. Ryan's apartment is really nice. The farm was bought as a backup plan and then we got the cloned horses and the one he adopted from the ASPCA. This one's probably pretty nice. The others have been. I'm sure it'll have most everything we need in case we get busted by dying in public.
"Though I think the poker circuit might have an idea that Xander's not really normal that way. Possibly Wade and Dean as well. Dean broke his ankle and didn't head home, letting him walk on it later." Clay moaned, shaking his head. "I know Xander said someone asked about his ankle and Xander shrugged, said it was Dean being a tough guy, he did the same thing."
"So we think that they might not freak if he gets shot?" Clay asked.
"I think, since someone actually shot and killed him way back when, and he's still around, that they're fairly certain Xander's special for some reason. Half of them think it's his hair," Don quipped.
"Seriously?" Clay demanded.
"Yeah. Half of them think it's why he has long hair, there's something special about it." He shrugged. "A few realized that the tattoos are Greek, some of them realized they're symbols for the old Gods. But a lot haven't seen them." He shrugged again.
"Xander threatened to go bellydance for the poker circuit the other day," Pooch said with a smirk.
"That I'd probably protest about. Was he saying he was going to teach someone?" Pooch nodded. "That figures. Anya going to help?"
"Maybe. Your holiday present?"
Don smirked. "It's sweet. Very, very sweet." He got back to the information. "I swear I know this person."
Pooch looked. "Cougs?" he called. He walked in a minute later. "Where do we know this person from?"
He looked. "DC. Ian's student."
Don grinned. "Thanks, Cougar." He texted that to Epps, who could get it to Edgerton since the guy was being a pain in Miami. "Can one of you check on the emergency plans? I trust Jensen but Xander wouldn't tell him everything yet. I doubt he'd tell any of the rest of us at all. That way we'd be unable to counter anything we might not like."
"Cougar?" Pooch asked. He shrugged but nodded.
"Thanks," Don said with a grin. "He taken you guys out to teach you how to ride in case you need it?"
"Why would we?" Clay asked.
"Because some of the realms that you have to save people from, that's their only transport. Or, hey, camels, donkeys....."
"I guess that's a point," Clay admitted.
"He taught Dean and Sam too."
"If they want to learn, that's fine. It might come in handy, like Jensen learning Japanese. We also need to set up an obstacle course."
Don smirked. "I thought that might come up sometime since you guys use the gym here." He found the card in his wallet and handed it over with a shiteating grin. "Some retired Captain or someone set up a supply shop/training center/place to go hang out with other former soldiers."
"Did you tell him about us?"
"No. Xander wandered in there by accident looking for a new pistol for a present for Horatio. One of them recognized him and offered him the chance to run the course, so they'd know what he could do, and he beat a few of them but the Captain said he needed to do more jogging work. Apparently he's a hardass."
"Huh." He looked at the card, nodding. "Marine?"
"No clue. Xander didn't say. I said I'd hand that over when I got a chance since he'd probably forget."
"Maybe," Clay admitted. He put it on the table. "I'll check that out. Thanks."
"Welcome. I realize some day you guys might have to come after me. I want you in the happiest, best shape you can be." He smiled. "Because a happy, well-trained retrieval team makes things easier on all of us. Even if Xander does tend to save himself and then threaten the people who take us."
"How many does he fight off a week?" Pooch asked.
"Humans? Not that many thanks to the poker circle. Demons.... Well, he's destroyed something like 35 realms since we got to Miami." Don grinned. "Because they pissed him off that much by taking him or one of the family."
"You guys have been here about four years, right?" Pooch asked. Don smirked and nodded. "That's a bad average."
"That's only the really bad things. Usually he embarrasses them and things. When Vesvold was still alive, he helped a lot of it stay calmer but he got assassinated."
"Who was he?" Clay asked.
"Vesvold was a demon on the High Council. A really old, respected demon type that everyone knew not to screw with basically. Vesvold saw Xan as a kid and decided he was the perfect mate then. Watched him through all those years, did what his people wanted him to do by having some kids so his line kept going. That was before Xander got the hormone upgrade. He offered to take us all in once but Ares and Xander both pointed out that might get him killed. So they became really good friends and Vesvold would've lived long enough to help Xander after we died. Unfortunately something political with the Ancient Old Ones got him assassinated so Xander took those two out."
"Wow," Clay said. "So he's got friends who are?"
"Yeah, that Angel guy in LA? He's a vampire but he's souled. There's some jealousy there or something. Angel really doesn't like Xander and Xander kinda loathes him back. Especially for how Cordy died."
"What happens if it's a demon trying to do to Miami what they do to LA?" Pooch asked.
"Then you tell, in this order, Xander, Dean, Sam, Ryan, and then Horatio to get the rest of us. You tell Xander first because he can usually handle the issue on his own. Dean and Sam's family did a lot of spirits and those sort of issues, not the lower class demons that we see most of the time. The higher, possessing sort they dealt with more often but Xander's open to possession so they'd handle those.
"Generally, anytime Horatio or we hear about a possession or a spirit causing problems we tell the wonder twins ourselves. Even some of the officers in town have heard so they do. If it's any other sort of demon, you tell Xander. Because a lot of them are scared to death of him and if they're not, Xander's been in multiple apocalypses."
"Multiple?" Clay asked.
"Yeah, Sunnydale had at least one a year and we were all at the one in LA but he was a lot more 'damn, this sucks' than 'oh, shit, we're all gonna die' like the rest of us were when we saw the demon invasion starting. He started to patrol with the twats in Sunnydale when he was sixteen. Lasted five years almost. Just before his fifth anniversary of jumping in he went back on the roadtrip that got him noticed." Don smiled. "I'm glad because it probably would've ruined him for trusting anyone if he hadn't."
"So he's seen some minor things and he's seen real combat," Clay said. Don nodded, finding something in his laptop to show him. He watched the opening of the battle. "He looks strange with the short hair."
"That was his graduation. The only one that we know there's film of. Someone was filming their kid's graduation and it got confiscated by the FBI, who ignored it totally. Don Epps found it for me and slipped me a copy."
Clay, Pooch, and Cougar watched it. Clay shuddered when the Mayor turned. "Oh, damn," he said. The battle kept going. And going. And going. Then suddenly there was an explosion. "Handy," he decided.
"Xander laid them," Don said with a smile. "Buffy was the one running." Don took it back to find good pictures of them. "That's Buffy." He ran it back a bit more. "That's Willow." He let them see it. "Buffy's a hairdye addict. When she came down to blow up Danny's car, she was a redhead. Willow hacked his accounts and put cameras all over our house to get a porn tape. She was the one who basically raised him."
"So that's who they are," Cougar said, shaking his head. "Friends like that should be shot."
"We'd love to," Don assured him with a mean smirk. "Unfortunately until Faith's out of jail she's the only slayer since they deactivated the extras called for LA somehow. Willow we'd dearly love someone to take out because she's got an addiction to her magic." They stared at him. He nodded. "Full blown junkie phase with memory spells from what we're told."
"Huh," Clay said, considering that. "Sounds dangerous."
"She's powerful and backs up Buffy, which was why Xander told us to leave them alone when they got off their punishment and sent back to Sunnydale. He doesn't talk to them at all. Every time they talk Xander goes cold and stony. He drops back into old Xander or warrior Xander mode. Old Xander is a lot more sarcastic and used it to push people away. Warrior Xander is a lot like Ryan when he's in war mode."
"If we see it we'll know why," Clay said. "Do we think they're trying?"
"Yeah, the caller ID had a missed call from them the other day," Don said dryly. "So I'm expecting... Probably a call for help this spring. They seem to happen in the spring."
Pooch nodded. "As long as it won't happen here."
"Between Ryan, Horatio, and Xander, no one fucks with Miami, guys." Don grinned. "Almost every demon clan is scared of one of them. Ryan's a chosen warrior, that means he's a hotline to Ares. Xander's a berserker and he's proven it a few times. Plus they all know what he used to do to help Buffy. Even if she didn't always know. Horatio scares the crap out of others for various reasons, but especially those with public service jobs. Horatio's kinda seen like a leash holder for Xander and Ryan at times but he's also got rumors started saying he will destroy anything that comes to hurt Miami without a flinch. No one fucks with Miami."
"I'm betting the poker circuit helps that," Pooch said.
Don smirked. "Quite a lot. There's not that many demons down here but those who are have heard and respect Xander. One's asked Xander to help her decide which mate she wanted because she couldn't choose. He grinned and helped her pick the one that was less weak."
"Wow," Cougar said. "Interesting."
Don smirked. "Which he never told us about. That leads back to those two brats out there. They were his only friends once his buddy Jesse died right after Buffy got there."
"Her fault?" Clay asked.
"No, vampires. She didn't get to him in time. Xander made her take him. That's how and why he started."
"It's something we understand," Clay assured him. "He doesn't tell you?"
"No, he downright hides that stuff from us usually. He hates it when we realize he dropped out of spoiled houseboy Xander mode into warrior Xander mode because then we expect more of him, which he's not willing to deal with anymore. The hormones are as much a curse as a blessing in his case."
"I bet," Pooch said. It put a new spin on Xander for him. "How often does he get into fights down here?"
"Hardly ever unless they're a new poker buddy or he's off beating the crap out of someone who upset him. My boy can brawl but he's better with weapons."
"Jensen's got that same sort of temper switch. Then he'll beat someone to death with whatever he rips off them," Pooch said.
"Which makes them well suited to running around," Clay agreed.
"Unless and until Xander starts to snap. Then you work around him and get him calmed down as a sideline," Don warned. "When we got the mirror house, Xander went into full blown, pissed off warrior Xander mode. He was cool to the rest of us, didn't even play with his pets, just handled it and expected everyone else to sit and watch. When we tried to talk to him about it he got huffy and angry. Which has got to go back to the roots of special girl syndrome in Sunnydale or his parents I guess.
"In those cases, we learned to watch him a bit, work around his plans, and handle things quietly while not getting his attention. Because then he'll yell. He's got that blind spot that others can handle things with him sometimes and we'd like to. During the invasion he treated Epps like he was a rookie. Then again, the whole cadre of slayers and Angel's team both did the same thing to us. To them, we're newbies playing dress up."
"You'd think they'd want help," Pooch said.
"They think it'll lead to you being in the way," Don said. "Or getting hurt, which they'd feel guilty about."
"What about guys like us?" Clay asked.
"The whole Sunnydale team had iffy things about military guys thanks to the Initiative assholes, Clay. Riley Finn, who was the only one most of them knew about and interacted with, always thought Buffy wasn't enough, which pissed off Xander, and thought Xander was a clown, which Buffy told him."
"No wonder the kid said he didn't understand what a team was like."
"No, they're very X-Men about it most of the time. When they have to they can work as a team but a lot of the time Buffy and Xander handled things on their own. Which got him bitched at by Buffy for being a man and doing the same things she did." Clay nodded at that. "They've had others who temped on the team for bad things," Don offered, finding their pictures too.
"Oz, Willow's ex. He's a werewolf so counted as special enough. He's in Tibet again this month. Tara, Willow's girlfriend when Oz left that first time. She was a white witch and nagged her about how much magic she was using until they broke up over it. Cordelia, who was a frenemy by definition, even while dating Xander.
"Angel and Buffy used to go out. Apparently his breaking her in made him so happy he lost his soul for a bit." Clay groaned. "Went on a killing and stalking spree. We've heard Spike, who was the childe of Angel, helped during the Initiative thing. He had a chip that meant he couldn't do humans. I think we heard Buffy and he dated a bit." Clay shuddered. "She only goes for predators."
"We'll keep Wade off her," Clay quipped.
"Anya was out there. She was there for his last few years. She helped patrol and things. Oh, and if you see Rupert Giles, yes he's an immie. Yes, his head is Xander's. Because he's the guy that sold Xander to that one battle ring." Clay gaped. Don nodded. "Connor was trying to get Ryan out of it but leave Xander there so that's another vendetta there.
"Dean told us that Connor approached him and Sam to see how Xander was training them. Sam wore him down to the point where he was starting to slip. Dean walked off after promising to shoot him and then take his head because he was an asshole. His cousin Mac hates Oz because Oz took his woman once or something. So when Mac loses it he goes after Oz," Don finished.
"I'll keep that in mind. Do we have pictures of them?" Pooch asked. Don got into the tape to find one. "That's.... a teacher?"
"He was pretending to be the librarian while training Buffy as her watcher." He looked at them. "That's Rupert." He found another file. "That's on Connor and his cousin, courtesy of another one of us."
They read it over. "Sounds like a boy scout," Clay admitted.
"Adam calls Mac that, yeah. Apparently Connor's less idealistic."
"Any history between Xander and Connor?"
"When he was a new GHS, he and Connor went out, introduced by Adam. He started mine and Xander's training when we came over too. Kept trying to break Xander's berserker streak by forcing him into it."
"That's not how you do that," Cougar said quietly. "When we broke Jensen's slide toward that, we didn't use that."
"No, we didn't," Clay agreed.
"Where was I?" Pooch asked.
"Off on your honeymoon," Clay said with a smirk for him. "Jensen totally lost it in a bar while drunk when he saw some guy slap his girlfriend, who did kinda look like his sister Julia. Same shade of hair and about the same length. Same build. Jensen lost his mind. Roque and I couldn't pull him off. Cougar had to step into his attention and we had to hold him to get him calmed down because that guy and his buddies were going to be greasy spots. We saw that long, dark slide down and took him to work on it and break him of it."
"Don't try with Xander," Don said. "Ares got it set just right so he wasn't a danger and probably wouldn't stay in it. The other two, Oz and some guy in India, got trained by Adam or have trained with him."
"No, I like Xander's. He still responded to questions in St. Louis," Clay said.
Don nodded. "Apparently there's been times when he wouldn't. Which was when Ares set Ryan up to help him back out."
"Why not you guys?" Pooch asked.
"Because I'm learning a lot and I'll be pretty decent. Danny's good too, but the game says there can only be one. Who do you think it'll be?"
"Someone like Ryan or Xander," Clay said, getting it. Don nodded. "That doesn't bother you?"
"I'll take what time I have and make the most of it, the same as I did when I was normal." He shrugged. "Xander may drift to Ryan in the next life to spare my back, but we aren't sure yet."
Clay considered that. "So really it can still happen any day."
"Yeah, there's a lot of things that can take off your head. Not just the immortals who'd have to suck it up. A lot of us get wasted by things like accidents that rip our heads off."
"Huh." Clay nodded. That did put a whole new spin on immortality. He looked at Cougar. "When was the last time you practiced?"
"Good. I want you both to stay in good practice as often as possible."
Cougar nodded that's what they were doing. Pooch cleared his throat. "What about learning different styles of fighting?"
"There's mainly fighting and fancier styles," Don told him. "Ones meant for fighting are a lot of the same. They can get later teachers to refine that. Fancier styles are more dance oriented like fencing and Spanish bladework." That got a slow nod. "I know Adam said that a lot of them had trained with some Japanese sword masters because the katana is a different type of sword and you don't use it the same way. Xander has one and he excels in it with normal and dance styles. He also excelled in his battle axe and all other axes, plus has a really good grasp of 'whatever he picks up is a weapon' from his younger years."
"So we can get him a teacher for the fancier footwork version and it'll be good for his training?" Clay asked casually.
"Yeah. It'll definitely help that footing issue he and Jensen have, but so would soccer. Learn one style and get it down well at first, then you can go learning other ones, integrating them into your own style, all that."
"Learn the basics then some speciality stuff," Clay said. Don nodded. "So consider this like a martial art."
"Basically, yeah. Some people get it better than others. Dean does a lot better with a firing weapon than he does a sword thanks to his years of hunting and training. Sam does really good with blade work but I think he'd do really great with the fancier stuff soon. Jensen so far is a lot like Xander and he could probably be multi-weapon and 'it's all good' about any blade he picked up. Cougar's looking a lot like a cross between Dean and Sam. He's got Dean's footwork issue and doesn't feel the blade like he does his guns."
"It's different," Cougar agreed. "Different thought to a rifle."
Don nodded. "It is. I kept reaching for my gun when I first started too. It's what I was trained in. I think some day you could do some of the more specialist work but I also think you'll be one of those who'll be best with a single type of blade instead of varying styles. Like Mac, Connor's cousin, only uses a katana. No one's sure if he can use other blades anymore. Xander's started to narrow in on your weapon that suits you best, even though you're being taught how to use the other types. Then he'll help you try out various blades in that style until you find one or two so you have a backup. Jensen's someday going to have a sword arsenal like ours."
"I noticed the practice room had everything from light little blades to heavy old ones that were too long to be practical unless you were on a horse," Clay said.
Don nodded. "We all had to learn on the various ones, just in case we needed it, but I'm one who's more comfortable with a style of blade. I can use any blade within that category better than I can any other type of blade, but I don't have a special one at this time because I consider it a weakness. You can get too used to it and fall out of practice with the others. I absolutely cannot use an axe, no matter how often Xander tries to teach me. Dean would prefer it if he could use a machete but that's not practical in a fight."
"So what are we foreseeing for the guys? So we can start looking?" Pooch asked.
"I'm foreseeing Jensen picking up things he likes the weight of. He seems to do better when they're weighted about the same instead of worrying about the length. Not that unusual starting out. I had a real problem with heavier swords at first too. I don't think he'll have more than a few special ones. Probably one for missions and one for home or whatever." That got a nod from Clay.
"The carbon ones are good and light but not great in fights. They weren't what Xander was hoping for and he did complain about that. I think Cougar's going to end up with a single-edged style instead of a dual edged. So a cutlass, a katana, something like that. They tend to have better grips, and in a cutlass a true hand guard. They tend to be lighter so easier carried. There's a few styles of them to look over."
Cougar nodded. "I can start looking. I did like Xander's katana. It's a bit long."
"That length helped since Xander grew up using whatever was at hand and that pretty axe he passed on to Dean."
"Ah, so that was his baby first," Pooch said with a grin. "I saw him sharpening and cleaning it."
"Yup, that was Xander's baby from Sunnydale. Buffy thought it was too big and heavy for her, which it probably was. In Xander's hand it's a fantastic weapon. In Dean's too because he's learned a lot of it. Xander's self-taught there so Dean really needs to find someone to finish his training on it. There's almost no axe-using immies though. The only one Adam knew was evil and is now dead. He killed him for trying to biobomb Paris."
"What about the temple?"
"I think Ryan asked Ares if he knew anyone but I don't think he's found someone for Dean. I think Sam's probably be a multi-blade user, but again, footwork and fancier styles will be more his thing. He's also a power learner so he'll learn all he can then incorporate into what he can already do.
"I think Dean's going to go soldier basically and learn all he can of the more basic styles, keep his own weapons, and be a foot soldier. Which means we might have to deal with Sam losing Dean some century to a challenge. That's about the same way Danny and I are. We know it's a handicap in the game but we're more comfortable with one style and we learn the hell out of it instead of everything about all the styles."
"What's this game crap?" Clay asked.
"That's what Connor told us it was called. The 'there can be only one' stuff. Supposedly there's a prize at the end but Giles was trying to disprove that while he was training with Connor. Something like getting mortality back or something." Don shrugged. "No one's sure and every now and then we go on a gathering spree where there's a lot of fights, a lot less of us come out the other side, and then for some reason it seems to taper off."
"Maybe there can only be so many comfortably here at a time?" Pooch suggested.
Don shrugged again. "No one's sure. The gathering is when supposedly we'll get down to that one. Danny's lived through one and he said it was like an itch to get there and then a rage to fight. Even if you like the guy. He apparently ended up fighting one of his teachers and got him." He looked at Cougar. "Danny said he could fight it. It was damn hard though."
"Now I know," he decided. Don grinned. "Are there bets?"
"Yup. A lot of people bet one of the Macleods to win the whole thing. Connor before Xander and before he lost his last wife, Heather. Mac before he went insane. A lot are speculating that Methos and Theodonius, Adam and Oz, will be in the top ten. Those who know about Ryan's training know he'll be there. Xander will be because almost no one can beat Xander. I've seen him practicing with Strife and Ares and tying. Plus, all four of them will play dirty if they have to.
"The others in the top ten, there's a guy in Japan who never comes out of the holy ground he trains on. He's supposed to be about six hundred. There's one in town who's about three thousand or so. I've never seen Richard fight. Someone like Amanda, who is a jewel thief, or Ritchie, Mac's student, probably won't make it to the last round unless they get really lucky or they get there late. They're supposed to be good but not that great. Oh, and at least Macleod took out the eight-year-old that used to be part of the cycle," he said dryly, looking at Cougar.
"There was?" Pooch asked, looking horrified.
"Yeah and he was a head hunter," Don said. "It was said that Duncan took him in and the kid pulled his usual 'helpless newbie' thing on him to take his head but Mac finally got him instead." All the guys shuddered. That was just so wrong to them. You didn't take out kids, even the evil ones. He looked at Cougar. "Want me to be real blunt about quickenings?" Cougar nodded.
"It's like lightening hitting you. It fires you up in more ways than one. Their essence somehow becomes something of yours. Connor's taken so many heads he glows with it more than Adam does even though he's younger. Xander's got a slight glow from all of his but he also learned how to ground and center, to put it in fantasy novel terms, so it doesn't overtake him. Afterward you're still horny, even if you want to cry you're still hyped." He stared at him. "It's nothing you can fight. Even Ryan's tried and Xander comes the closest."
"I'll keep that in mind for when I take my first one," he said. "There's one redheaded guy?"
"We know. He's new to the area. The others in town are all peaceful or part of the family. That one's new, he's pushy; Xander's about to give him a rude awakening when he stops right before taking his head if he hasn't already. There are head hunters, Cougar. Xander nearly got taken out by one because he gassed him and Oz to capture them, killed Xander while he was out, and decided to let him wake up before taking his head. We had another head hunter, he went after Dean when he came over in the morgue."
"What about honorable combat?" Pooch asked.
"Yeah, it's supposed ta be," Don agreed with a smirk. "Adam'll shoot cha if you're getting close to winning or the fight's going to be interrupted. Ray learned from him. Xander will ooze all over you if he has to, though Xander also has a nasty habit of taking challenges with his iPod when he's backed up." Clay moaned, shaking his head. "Every now and then Xander turns into Blade, yeah. Only less cool."
"That means he can't hear if someone else comes in," Clay pointed out. "Which is dangerous."
"Yeah but if he's backed up, he'll pay more attention to them than the challenge," Pooch countered.
"Xander's not supposed to take challenges alone anyway, guys. With his berserker nature, it's dangerous. He knows that but he doesn't always follow it. At one time we actually fought in front of the guy he was there to challenge about whose turn it was so Xander didn't have to fight. He got so confused."
"When did Xander take his first head?" Pooch asked.
"He got the guy that brought him across. He stupidly let Xander wake up and Xander disarmed him, took the sword since he knew some from Sunnydale, and managed to trap him with the sword over his throat. He pushed a bit too hard he said. Then he freaked out so Oz had to get him calmed down with Danny. Danny kept telling me all the stuff I noticed was part of a group I was being considered admittance to but I'd only know if one of three things happened in front of me. The night Xander came over, I was freaking out because I could feel quickenings. Danny ended up shooting me before I overreacted and had a fit."
"That's a good friend," Clay said sarcastically. Don smirked at him for it. "Anything we have to watch out for in that other area?"
"If they show up, they're going to jail. That was made very clear to them."
"For...." Pooch asked.
"Blowing up Xander's old SUV. Trying to blow up Danny and his car. Hacking, wiretapping without a warrant, distributing sexual materials without a license and consent. Buffy threatened the department and city."
"So a good, long time," Clay decided.
"Yeah, probably." Don grinned. "We all agreed, Xander needed better friends."
"Hopefully the ones he has now are better."
"He's not really letting anyone as deep as they did thanks to what Buffy's mom did," Don said more quietly. "I don't think I would either."
"How bad?" Cougar asked.
"Bad enough that we let him pound a building and my whole former precinct was taking bets on who went out there to rip hers and Buffy's head off."
"Good to know," Pooch decided. He shifted in his seat. "Jensen was helping Xander take a nap. Sam's glaring at me because I suggested he should quit pouting so much."
"Sam's pretty emo without the goth overtones," Don said with a shrug. "We like Sam the way he is. If he pouts that much, Xander gets him for it."
"They're both too pouty."
"Yeah, but if you try to change them, then it gets worse and they also sulk, don't cook, and get bored, backed up, and cause you hell," Don quipped. "It's the GHS version of PMS. Miami does not need GHS PMS ever again. Horatio said so."
"I'm sure he has his own version," Clay said.
"Yeah, but he and Speed have been together long enough that he knows how to cure it. Most of the time."
"It's good they're uncomplicated," Pooch said dryly. "Much more easy than my wife."
"She'll gut you for that," Clay said with a smirk. He could hear the slapping noises outside so that meant the baby was in the hallway, which Jolene never allowed unless she was right with him.
Cougar opened the door. "Sarcasm."
"I heard it all." She let the baby crawl in and pounce Don with a happy babble of baby noise. "Yes, it's the one with the ties that fascinate you." Don picked him up to let him play with his tie. "Do we have maintenance guys?"
"I'd assume so," Don said. "Why?"
"The sink's backed up again. I can only believe it's from the entire sewer thanks to my boy's burrito binge this morning," she said, giving Pooch a dirty look.
"At least there wasn't any tequila this morning," he said with a smile. "I'll go snake the drains in a minute."
"Thank you." She walked off. "Don, he probably needs changed."
"That's fine." He let the baby gum on his tie, which made him happy. "I know, it's brightly colored. Xander had someone make that one for me off-realm."
The baby cooed as someone faded into view with a sparkle. "Ma!" he squealed, waving both arms and beaming at him.
Ares looked at him. "No, I haven't given birth yet, kid." He patted him on the head. "You're a good boy." The baby beamed as he gummed on the tie. He looked at Don. "Why is Xander making Strife high?"
"Because he's like his favorite minion and priest? The usual reason?"
"Perhaps." Ares smirked. "That was a warning."
"Shit," Don muttered, pulling out his phone and hitting the speed dial button. "Fu, Don. What's he doing? I'm told he's giving mischief gods rushes." He listened, then moaned. The baby patted him. "Thanks, Junior. No, I'm holding Pooch's son. Can't you wrap him in a blanket and make him go home? Please? Sure, we'll come save him from the big, bad arms dealers. Where's everyone else?"
Don nodded. "That may work too. Thanks. Yeah, soon." He hung up. "Thanks, Ares." He handed the baby to Clay, who handed him to his father. Don got up, taking off his tie. "Let me go save the poker circuit from Xander being playful in his tight, low riding leather pants that show off all his marks." The baby got the tie to gum and play with, making him a happy boy who needed a new diaper.
Ares smirked at Clay. "We're hoping there isn't a riot since those other three you got warned about are in town watching him." He disappeared. Then he came back to take the dagger the baby had stolen to suck on the end of. "You're too young for knives. Even Strife had to be 2." He disappeared again.
"I'm wondering if those pants are like that one stripper in South Beach," Pooch said quietly.
"Knowing Xander, yup, and blood red or black." Cougar groaned, walking off texting Jensen, who sent back they were fine. He held it up for Clay to read. "No he's not. Tell him no bar brawls or he's going to be arrested."
Jensen's answer back was a smiley icon of him sticking his tongue out. That was a very bad sign.
Xander strolled into the poker hall, smirking at guys in there. "Hey, guys." They all stared. His dark blue leather pants were low enough that you could see almost all his girdle of tattoos, all but the ones that went down his crack and the ones in the top of his pubic hairline. The gray transparent tank top showed them beautifully. His shoes were boots but nice enough. Jensen was behind him. Xander had his hair braided back again and clipped at the bottom with a subtle bit of bling. "I'm back."
One of them whimpered. "Xander, are you backed up?" he asked.
"No. The Japanese masseuse was *wonderful* to us today," he said with a grin. "I'm just in a mood and they're working overtime yet again this week." He sat down and put down money, nodding at the ones he didn't know. "Hi, Xander Harris."
"I heard you like weapons."
"I do." He grinned. "Don't let the hair fool you." He got dealt in. Jensen was at another table with the other hackers in the circle.
"Boy, you know you can't be backed up and here," the owner shouted across the room.
"I'm not backed up. The masseuse took care of it, Bobby." He looked back there. "I'm bored, not backed up." The owner's face went purple. Xander smiled. "You guys have no idea but the Commissioner called mandatory drills for overtime this week." He shrugged. "Since I don't have to make dinner tonight and I haven't been here for a while I decided to grace you guys with my presence."
The owner whimpered. Fortunately he could see many people texting Don to let him know what was going on. Bobby texted Fu to warn him in case they left and went there.
The one that had asked about weapons looked at Xander. "So you're gay?"
Xander smiled and nodded. "Technically bi. I have two detectives I thrill now and then." He smirked. "They're very sweet to me but they're working overtime."
"Do they hear about all this?"
"Only if people don't pay me in a timely manner or try to shoot me again." The dealer shuddered, losing track of the card count as he dealt.
That one nodded. "So they don't hear anything?"
"No. I don't tell anyone anything."
"Huh. That's odd. You'd think they'd ask."
"They realize I'm pretty safe down here most of the time. Plus they like me being out of the house now and then. They were worried I wasn't being as sociable as I used to be in New York." He checked his cards. "Why do I only have six?" He got dealt another one. "Thanks, Rio."
"Welcome, Xander. What sort of drills?"
"On the docks," he sighed. "So I'm guessing cruise ship or cargo ship related." He shrugged. "I don't know. I heard a rumor about DEA being down there. I heard a rumor about someone covert being down there to check on certain things they hold so no one could get into it during the drills. Other than that, they didn't tell me." He looked up. "Don actually fell asleep in the car in the driveway last week."
Rio winced. "That's bad."
"Yeah, which is why I love the masseuse we visit. Plus I'm learning Japanese." He grinned.
"Good for you. It's a handy thing to have," one of the others said, handing him some cash. "A down payment."
Xander kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks, I needed some more macadamia nut brittle." He put it into his tight pocket then got back to his hand. He tossed in his chips. "Let's play, guys."
"How can we be sure you don't tell anyone anything?" one of the other two who were new asked.
"Caine never asks him," Rio told him. "They have an agreement. Xander only hands over information if we don't pay him or we try to kill him again. Then Caine comes down with his boys and wrecks whoever did it. Caine thinks that we serve as a good outlet for his naughtier times."
"If I was being naughty I'd be belly dancing today," Xander said dryly. "I didn't get to practice earlier. The one I'm taking lessons from has the flu."
Rio and the owner who was walking over gave him an odd look. "You're learning belly dancing?" Bobby asked.
Xander grinned. "Yeah, and pole dancing. It's a great workout." He winked. "Don and Danny loved it."
"You're the one that rented out the room that night before the raid," Bobby realized. Xander nodded, looking smug. "Damn. I heard it was so good they left you guys alone."
"There's no crime in me renting out a room to show off what I'm learning since I'm not charging my boys for it."
"Maybe but I also heard half the cops wanked off that night, Harris."
"Maybe. I was having a very naughty night that night. Don and Danny were barely able to call off work."
"Damn," the other unknown at the table said. "How?"
Xander looked at him. "I'm very good."
One guy looked over from the next table. "I saw it the night he got pissed at a few of the Mala Noches who are now long gone. They had blown up an officer so Harris went to their strip club of choice, danced some ungodly dance that turned them out, and got them arrested for it. Didn't bother the rest of us."
Xander blew a kiss. "That was actually one of the fighting dances. There's more sensual and sexual sections."
The man moaned. "Don't tell me that. I might make you teach my wife."
"Only GHS seem to be able to do those," Xander said with a small shrug.
"No, she's a normal woman," he said with a grin. "Thank you, God, for that mercy." He crossed himself.
"Amen," another guy said. "My woman would kill me in bed if she was like you, Harris."
"Was she the one I talked to about her technique?" he asked, looking over. "Hi, Wade."
"Hi, Xander. And yes, she did learn too much from you." He smirked at him. "Don said to drag you home and make you put on real clothes."
"I'm fine. I'm covered. I even have on shoes." He got back to his card hand when the dealer coughed. He changed out two and folded when they were craptastic. The others were staring at him. "What?"
"No luck today?" one asked hopefully.
Xander shrugged. "I play better when I'm slightly backed up." That got their table loaded with more people. The dealer had to order a few off because they were over the limit of the cards.
"Xander, if we promise to pay our debts in cash this week, will you dance for us?" one of the guys on the other side of the room called.
"Hell no," Wade ordered.
"I'm forbidden by PD edict not to do those special dances in public again if they might cause an orgy, guys. Sorry."
"You can belly dance," another one suggested. "That's only slightly sexual." The others started to agree.
"We don't have a stage," the owner complained. "And I don't want to witness an orgy here either."
"It's up to him," Xander said with a nod at Bobby. "It's his place, guys." Suddenly everyone paid their tabs and Xander was collecting poker debts. Some of them paid Wade instead. Xander gave one an odd look. "Mine?"
"Yeah but we know he handles half of it for you." He grinned. "Please?" he asked Bobby.
"Fine. No more than one dance." Xander handed the new cash to Wade and emptied his pockets, getting helped up on a table to dance for the guys. Everyone was staring in awe. They could hear his usual ankle bells moving.
Don stomped in. "Oh hell no!" he ordered. "Down, Xander." Xander pounced him, taking a kiss. "Thank you," he said once his mouth was free. The guys pouted at him. "No! That's my special treat."
Wade coughed. "The owner said he could for ten minutes and your boy said he was bored."
Don spanked Xander, getting bitten back for it. "Ow! No."
"Please," one girl begged. "I need the tips. My man's pathetic so I need to get a better one."
Xander looked and pointed. "He's not bad from what I heard from his last one." She smiled at him, walking over to hit on him. He looked at Don.
"You'll cause another orgy and they'll arrest you this time."
"No he won't," one of the women said. "Didn't make me hot at all." Xander smirked at her over Don's shoulder, but Don glared. "He only got a few minutes in. Bobby promised us ten."
Don huffed, staring at Xander. "Do not improvise," he growled. Xander kissed him again then got helped back up there, starting over. That one woman he had set up was now in her new man's lap. He was clearly better than her last one. He had already found her clit and was working it while he got happy. Don watched, still growling. Xander winked at him and swished pretty well then turned, one hip ticking all the way around. Guys started to hoot and stomp their feet. Xander got finished and the guys moaned. "No," Don ordered. "Xander, c'mon."
"But I'm bored, Don."
"I can fix that."
"I'm not backed up." He climbed down with some help from Wade, who earned a smile for it. He grinned at Don again. "I'm being a good boy."
"You're being a naughty boy, again." He pointed. "Come on. Before I have to spank."
"You do and you're sleeping on the couch," Xander shot back. "Or I'll go coopt Anya and take her shopping at the mall all night." Wade whimpered and shook his head. Xander smiled. "You can come."
"I'm sure I would have to since she doesn't have her own money right now." He handed Xander to Don and followed. Roque got up from his back corner spot and followed. "Xander," he said quietly, giving him a nudge.
Xander looked back. "Hey, Roque. Didn't see you." He got walked to Don's bike, grinning. "You brought the bike?"
"Yup. Figured you could use a ride."
"Oh, I definitely could," he promised, taking another kiss.
"I used to think two guys together was gross, but then I saw you two," Andrea, an assassin in the circle, complained as she walked past them. "Go home. Before you make babies somehow."
Xander looked at her. "We're both infertile, dear. Even by spontaneous conception it can't happen." She cackled, going to get a beer. There was apparently a lot of thirsty people. The bar was having to change out kegs. Xander looked at Don again. "I was being good."
"You were being very bad," he countered. "Ares said you made Strife high."
"Yeah. He likes that." He shrugged. "That's the sweet guy I am since it's his birthday this week sometime." Don gave him a dirty look.
Wade coughed. "Go for a long drive, guys. Please? Xander, I'll deposit this for you."
"Sure, Wade. Thank you." He got on the back of the bike, draping himself against Don's back. "Beach-side drive?"
"We'll see." He put on his helmet and roared off into the pretty afternoon sunlight.
Roque whimpered. "I didn't know he was that bad."
"Yeah, he can be when he's bored," Wade sighed. "Anya warned me but at least it wasn't the GHS dances." Roque shivered and walked off to get his own beer and woman inside. Wade went to the bank then home to make Anya even more sore.
She looked up from her fashion magazine. "Why are you all sweaty?"
"Xander belly danced when the guys at the poker game wanted him to." He pulled her up and carried her to the bedroom to make her squeal, scream, and work his sweaty mood out of him. Thankfully Anya *really* liked sex.
Speed walked in the next morning, looking around the house. He found Xander still in bed. "You know," he said dryly, waking Xander up. "I could be at home, sleeping in. Doing housework. Finding H a new treat. Instead I got appointed your babysitter today," he finished dryly. "Which means you get to help me shop for H's newest treat."
Xander pulled him down to snuggle. "I don't need a sitter."
"Yes you do. You belly danced for thugs yesterday. You so needed a sitter and Jensen is getting spanked for letting you. So is Wade."
"Roque was there too." Xander blinked at him. "I was good, I only belly danced, and a lot paid me."
"Uh-huh." He texted that to Horatio. That way he was aware that Xander was still in justifying it instead of shrugging it off mode. He knew his boys would be pissed off. They really needed to work less overtime. He let Xander cuddle then they went to make a sinful breakfast for the lab together. It's what they did together and Speed loved to spoil Horatio with treats.
The Police Commissioner looked up as his door was opened. "Lieutenant, nice to see you again."
Horatio shut the door. "I have to make this short. I'm due in court, sir. Is there a problem with the lab?"
"What do you know about this poker circuit we seem to have?"
"Quite a lot. Why?"
"Do we think perhaps it's a problem to have so many gang members and supposedly retired mobsters playing together in Miami?"
"Actually, we appreciate it because they tend to mediate any problems there instead of in the streets or by shooting each other." The commissioner gaped at him. "Xander has played with them since that one trip to Mississippi where we helped take down an illegal smuggling and sex operation, sir."
"Why did you do that? That's a bit out of our jurisdiction."
"Someone asked us to do so quietly as a favor," Horatio said. "That was when we were shut down due to the snakes in the heating system."
"Oh. All right." He stared at him. "We don't find it worrying that they've got money caches all over the city?"
"Actually there's only three places to put money in the circle. All of them know that I look over Xander's shoulders. They all know that harming him or the family will get myself and my whole lab onto them. We also ran a raid for the people on various watch and wanted lists a few years back. Netted fourteen."
"I remember that bust," he said dryly. "You don't find anything wrong with it?"
"Sir, to be honest, I'd rather they have that outlet to lose money, find working girls or new girlfriends, and keep their contacts sharp yet quiet than having them at some club, where the aggression could get out of hand with the infusion of liquor or drugs. There's hardly any deaths in the poker buildings outside that one attack by someone who was retired CIA. Most of the circle calms itself down. From the highest in town to the lowest they all know being invited is an honor and means they've made it so Xander can ruin their pockets."
The Commissioner stared. "Yesterday...."
"It is not illegal for them to pay Xander what they owed him," he offered dryly. "Which they did. That pleased his boyfriends quite a lot. The debt book keepers were a bit upset that their night was filled with updating various books, but otherwise it was a nice night for everyone. Someone in the circle handed over three or four new underage prostitutes who were runaways to Vice.
"We heard about a nice gun shipment when someone got loud about it next to a cruiser because he was bragging at his girlfriend. Who the officer nicely let go find another John for the night when he arrested him for the bragging. The ones who went out to the known drug club San Paulo were raided last night, netting over sixty thousand dollars worth of cocaine and crank." The Commissioner sighed.
"All without having to use any of Xander's poker contacts. We know much more about how the underground works these days and can predict problems. Even Don Cheva hosts a quiet game for a few friends now and then, sir. We have everyone from retired government agents, to former commandos, to present commandos, to those in the less than legal fields who play poker in the circuit. I'd rather have them doing that with a well oiled network of debt book keepers so no one can complain and start an argument over who paid than have them out doing things we can't keep track of."
"You don't see a problem with him belly dancing?"
"Frankly, sir, Xander was bored. They talked him into it. He was feeling a bit naughty because he was bored, which is how they talked him into it." His phone beeped so he checked it. "I'm being called." He looked at his boss again. "Xander knows he's not supposed to do that. Unfortunately you've kept my lab and our homicide department in overtime for the last month."
"That's because I know you'd call them first if something happened, Caine."
"I would," he agreed. "However we've all complained that we never seem to leave the office these days, sir."
"I'll rearrange some of the drills," he said dryly.
"That would be much appreciated." He put on his sunglasses. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a scumbag to put away for good." He left the office.
The Commissioner called in his Chief of Detectives. "Caine doesn't see a thing wrong with that poker circuit."
"No, he doesn't. Harris has bankrupted a lot of them for gas money, sir." The commissioner gaped. "He's made a lot off them so they couldn't use it for other things. They generally like Lieutenant Caine and tell him things to get their competitors out of their way, which leads to easy arrests. Horatio looks for other crimes still but he'll turn his eye from the poker game itself."
"Why can't Harris get a job?"
"He's a level ten GHS," he said quietly, glancing at the door then at his gaping boss. "You didn't know?"
"Yes, sir. He's dating Detectives Flack and Messer. There's a whole family built around them including Horatio and Speedle."
"He's gay? Caine I mean?"
"They've been married about eight years from what I've heard, sir."
"Oh. Interesting." He considered it. "What if we shut it down or had the Feds raid it?"
"They'd turn on us. Miami would be a bloodbath. There's people down there who know to tell Horatio and Xander about anyone too bad. Last month when we had a terrorist show up with sonic bombs, Harris handled it beautifully. He got someone military to disarm them and take them away from our city. Then he let Horatio confiscate the rest of his things."
"How does someone like Harris know weapons?"
"Sir, do you remember that battle in LA?" he asked quietly. His boss nodded. "Harris was not only there, but he's the one who brought the artillery they used."
"We let him have artillery?" he demanded.
"Yes, sir, it keeps people from kidnaping him. Horatio has oversight, with ATF over his shoulder. No one in the circuit would dare touch Xander's stash and Horatio keeps it as something we can borrow from in case of emergency so we don't have to worry about keeping it safe. It's the best plan for our apocalypse and invasion gear we have. Even the head of SWAT likes it, even though he hates gay men."
"That's against the law."
"Yes, sir, but so was Harris having to save himself, Caine and Speedle, plus his boys and the rest of the family when they got kidnaped by white slavers who thought he was weak when Horatio confiscated them before. Caine's set limits on what he can have, up to what class and strength. How many of each. They do a monthly inventory. Anything he gets that's present military he hands to a contact in NCIS. Since half of those are poker debt payments.... it's helping Miami a lot."
"Why is he doing that?"
"Somewhat because he's bored being at home all the time, partially to help his boys with a slight edge of naughtiness added in. He did say that he reduced the drug pipeline a bit since they didn't have the money to ship some up."
The Commissioner sighed. "Whatever. What are we doing about it?"
"They have their watchers to make sure nothing too big happens." The Commissioner nodded. "Mostly they handle themselves."
"Fine. Whatever." His Chief of Detectives left to tell Horatio he was fine again. The Commissioner took something for his heartburn and headache. He was starting to hate his crime lab. Maybe he needed a vacation. It was nearly hurricane season.
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