The Wolfe Clan.
Ryan Wolfe watched the group of kids as they took the special tour, frowning at the one in the back looking around. He walked out, making her blush. "I didn't know you were a girl scout."
"I'm not but I got here at the same time so they got me mixed up with the group. Besides, I had no idea what you do all day." She gave him a hug. "The Moms wanted to see you tonight. Or else."
"Or else?" he asked with a smirk. "Or else what?"
"Or else the only son is going to start freaking girls left, right, and center."
"Over his dead body," Ryan assured her dryly, walking her off, waving at the scout mistress, who only nodded back.
"I knew she wasn't one of us," one of the girls complained quietly. The scout mistress glared so she shut up.
Ryan walked her back to the front desk. "Any other missives from the mothers?"
"Yeah, be hungry. Mommy Dan is cooking tonight." She gave him a kiss on the cheek. "What time should I tell him?"
"Um, probably about seven. That'll give me time to finish up, change, and make it over there." She nodded. "Anything you wanted to know, you could ask, Elizabeth."
"Why? That way I got an unbiased view without worrying about your coworkers." She winked at the staring one. "Yes, I'm beautiful and you're still tragically ancient and starting to wrinkle, dude. All you can do is fantasize." She smiled at Ryan again. "We'll all be there."
"I'll be there. I promise. Now, shoo. Go home. I'll be there about seven."
"Yes, Ryan." She gave him another hug before strolling out.
Ryan waited until she was on the elevator. "Sorry, she's fifteen."
Eric Delko stared at him for a minute. "Relative?"
"Kinda." He walked off, heading back to finish up his present case. By the time he was done it was nearly quitting time and he gave his boss a look. "Can I scram early?"
"Date?" he teased with a half-smile.
"Kind of my family having dinner," he admitted.
"Go ahead, Mr. Wolfe. Have a good night."
"Thanks, Horatio." He left, heading to his car so he could head home and change before heading to the other house. He parked and heard the squealing, turning to catch the youngest daughter when she came pelting at him. "One of these days I'm not going to catch you. You'll run into the car and dent it," he teased, walking her inside. "Look who I captured."
"We know. We figured the squeal would be an early warning system again," one of the three women and one man in the kitchen said.
Ryan kissed her on the cheek, handing over the girl. "Knew you were the clever one, Dessie."
She swatted him. "Suck up. You're getting sex anyway, Ryan." She saw a look around the fridge. "Go talk to your son. He's confused."
"I can do that. Library!" he called. "The son first!" he said when one of the older girls headed that way too. He paused to kiss the man in the kitchen. "Still the prettiest wife," he said in his ear, making him blush. He walked into the library, settling into the chair he usually took when the kids wanted to talk to him. "What's up?"
"I need the guy talk, Dad."
Ryan stared at him. "You're nine. Why do you need it now?"
"Because I'm feeling urges and I'm not sure that they're appropriate or right?" he offered, sitting across from where he had his feet up. "Are you going to be mad at me if I don't like girls?"
"Nope. If you like boys then that's who you like."
"I figured if you didn't like girls you'd have to like boys. Unless you like dogs or cats or alligators? I'd have to protest the last one, they're endangered," he teased, making his very shy son blush.
"Yeah, I think I do like boys. You're not upset?"
"Why would I be?"
"Because you got given Mommy Dan while he was mid-change. He said that you weren't really sure what to do with him when you got him."
Ryan smirked at that. "You'd be surprised what I knew then. I had no practical experience but I did know what I was doing, almost." He shrugged a bit. "If you like boys then that's fine with all of us, Jacob. Really. Now, do we need to go over facts and details already as well?"
He blushed brighter, shaking his head. "Not yet." He glanced at the door then at him. "When I need it, can I come ask you instead of Mommy Dan? Since he doesn't work?" he asked quietly.
"I'm your father, Jacob, of course you can come talk to me." The boy beamed and bounced over to hug him before heading back to steal some of the dinner being prepared. One of the girls looked in. "What's up?" He patted his lap and his thirteen-year-old daughter climbed into it, giving him a cuddle. "Long day?"
"For?" he asked patiently.
"One of the girls at school called me a lesbian and said that my family should be burned at the stake." He gave her a look. "So I kinda slammed her head into her locker and shut the door on her ears. I said the pounding would make some sense show up once it drove out the bad thoughts."
"What is the first rule you learned?" he asked patiently.
"To let others believe as they want, even if they are stupid." He scowled. "Well, she is, and her daddy's the sort to do what she threatened, Daddy."
He gave her a cuddle. "I'm going to uphold the grounding but I want to know more about this family in case something happens. That way we keep track. I don't want to have to put in a restraining order but it wouldn't be the first time." She nodded, handing him over what she had written out for her mothers. He looked it over. "That's pretty comprehensive. School?"
"Suspended me. They said she provoked it," she admitted sheepishly. "She really did, Daddy."
"Even if you cannot agree with their beliefs, you have no right to try to change them. That is not our way, daughter."
"Yes, Daddy." She gave him a hug around the neck. "Mommy Kate wants another baby boy," she whispered in his ear, making him give her a squeeze. "How long?"
"What did the mothers say?"
"Then I can agree to that as long as you've learned your lesson." She nodded, sliding off his lap to go tell the mothers what he had said. Kate leaned in, making him smile at his brunette wife. "What's up?"
"I know she told you." She shut the door and came over to slide into his lap as well, kissing him. "They're not babies anymore."
He kissed her better, grinning at her. "If you want and they agree to help you, I wouldn't care. You know that."
"I know. That's what I was hoping for. Can we talk about it?"
He ran a hand over her stomach then a bit lower, teasing her. "We'll have a family meeting after everyone's in bed," he offered, making her shiver as she pressed into his fingers. "Why a son?"
"We only have one of them and he was a cute baby," she panted, getting off in his hand with a sigh of pleasure. "Thank you, husband."
"Welcome, dear." He kissed her again, then licked his fingers off. She had gotten them a bit damp through her panties. "Go finish dinner. I'll handle the kids for now." She nodded, getting up to do that. He smirked at her backside, looking out the door. "Yes, 'Liz?"
"Daddy, can I date?"
"Nope. The rule was sixteen. Only group dates before then, and if you have sex before then I will beat you senseless then sell you into a second's marriage within the group."
She pouted. "But I found a nice boy, Daddy."
"I'm glad. Group dates are for your protection. That's so no boy can make you do things you shouldn't be doing yet."
"Daddy, get real!" she snorted, giving him an odd look. "The last group date I was on two of them split off for a quickie in the bathroom at the mall. I have more class than that but they're still really boring! I can hang with my friends anytime and his friends don't like my friends, plus they're boring game heads." He shook his head. "I'll be sixteen in nine weeks."
"Then in nine weeks and one day you can start going out on solo dates as long as we can reach you at random intervals throughout the date by either phone or text message. Until then, you're not to have cheap sex in the bathroom, even if the other girls are, and you are not to disappoint us. Any of you older three."
"We need you to set a good example for the other ones."
"You'd let Jacob."
"No, I would not let Jacob, nor will he be getting different rules."
She looked confused. "But the Prophet said that sons should have the start of a family by then."
He shook his head. "It's too young. Not until he's out of his education. You can't support a family by flipping burgers. Which you'll be doing in the projects if you get pregnant."
"I know, Daddy. Thank you." She gave him a hug and went to tell the mothers what he had said. He could overrule the mothers but they usually worked those conflicts out reasonably well for the sake of the kids. Ryan came out at the first sniff of dinner, smiling and helping Jacob set the table since that was his chore. "Daddy, can I get a push-up bra?"
"They're uncomfortable. Why would you want one?" he asked dryly, staring his daughter down. She was the middle of the oldest three, all born around the same time, but she was by far the oldest mentally.
"So I look like I have breasts that make boys gape in awe."
He shook his head. "I don't think you need one but I'll leave that up to your mothers." He counted places. "Who's not here?"
"Drew," he said dryly. "She's off with her eco terrorism group."
"Ah. Gotta love the little future hippie wannabes," he said, going to help bring out the food as well. "Clean up!" He heard running footsteps and then the kids started to trickle down the stairs. Amanda and Tabitha joined Elizabeth, then Hannah, one of his thirteen- year-old. Then Jacob, then Presley, his youngest at six. His four wives came out, Dan carrying the steaks, Kate carrying the salad, Rebecca carrying the water pitcher, and Dessie carrying the potatoes. They sat down and he said a quiet prayer then everyone dug in, telling jokes and stories about his job back and forth. It was good to be with his family again. He had been working too many hours to come over as often as he had before he had joined the lab. He had missed the noise and the food fight Presley was trying to start. He gave her a look and she ate the bite of potato instead of throwing it at Jacob. It didn't stop her from throwing some heavily dripping lettuce at Hannah, but that was just her being a kid and Hannah got her back with some water. Drew came in and he gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Food?"
"Daddy, cows are thinking, sensitive creatures."
"Who God put on this earth to eat and wear," he said dryly. "Otherwise they'd serve no purpose and would have become extinct years ago. You can eat the other stuff, daughter."
"Yes, Daddy." She cleaned up and sat down once her backpack was in the living room. "Dad, my group's mad at your boss."
"The redheaded menace who makes you all drive earth destroying hummers."
He looked at her. "Sweetie, half of our cases take us into the Everglades or out on some very tough back roads. The hummers are like having tanks that can get around things. Besides, he didn't order the hummers, the person before him did."
"Whatever. He's still using them."
"We also have fuel systems on them to reduce emissions," he said patiently. "Plus to up our gas mileage."
"Putting makeup and Gucci on a pig only makes it a beautiful pig as the Prophet's daughter says," she shot back.
He looked at her. "We're going to have to agree to disagree on this one, Drew. I'm sorry but the hummers have prevented a number of officers from being shot as they went to help someone and they have a mobile lab in the back for faster processing of things like kidnapings. Using a more economy minded or eco friendly sedan would hinder us and would've led to a bunch of officers being killed in the line of duty." She nodded, bowing her head at that. "I'll be more than proud of you if you write a letter to Horatio saying that you're worried about the ecological impact of the hummers and suggest ways of helping lower them further. We're already raised our MPG on the things by about five percent and we do have emission controls on them. They meet some pretty tough standards."
She nodded. "Then we'll do that. You sure he won't just throw it away?"
"I'll make sure he reads it, but he does read those things."
"Thank you, Daddy."
"Welcome. And no, you cannot be like the Prophet's daughter and like Gucci. I don't make that much."
"Yes, Daddy, but they're ugly, frivolous clothes anyway. Not my thing."
"They're for getting laid," Liz agreed, taking a bite of dinner. All the adults and her two year-mate sisters gave her odd looks. "They are!"
"How would you know?" Dan asked dryly.
"Um.... Because they show off an extreme amount of T&A?" She stuffed her mouth again.
"She has a point," Dan admitted. Kate hit him on the arm. "What did I do to deserve that?" he pouted.
"Giving her ideas about her future sex life."
"With any luck she'll be as happy no matter if she stays in the group or goes," Ryan said, looking at his daughter. "Do we have an idea on that?"
"Not yet," she admitted. "Still thinking, Daddy." She got seconds and handed Presley some too since she was pouting at her empty plate. "All you have to do is ask."
"The doctor said she wanted her to cut down on her calories," Rebecca warned.
Tabitha snorted. "The girl's a stick, Mother! He can blow himself. She's not fat! She's in two sports and she's never going to be fat. She's got a metabolism that most kids can only dream of. Besides, she's still growing and the doctor at the compound is a quack." She added more, getting a grin and a hug from their youngest sister. "There, eat."
"I agree, he's a quack," Ryan told Rebecca, who nodded.
"The other complained about us sharing the household," she reminded him.
"I know, some people aren't tolerant. He was at an anti-gay rally too. He was captured on the news." He ate a bite then shrugged. "It happens. I'll ask Alexx for a recommendation. Her pediatrician has to be pretty tolerant with doctors for patients."
"True," Kate agreed with a wicked little smirk. "Are we having a family meeting tonight?"
"After the kids go down," Ryan teased back.
Kate grinned at the others. "He said he'd consider what I wanted."
They all stared at her. Then grinned and dug in again. "Finish up, I don't want leftovers tonight," Dessie ordered. The kids inhaled the rest of the food and Amanda went to do the dishes since it was her chore this month. Ryan played and talked with the other kids, giving them the good fatherly time they needed, and even read Presley her bedtime story since she decided she wanted to be his backpack for a while and wouldn't let go of his neck for anything after her bath. Then the adults settled back in the study, Ryan back in his chair with his feet up, Kate in his lap, the others lounging around too. Dessie looked at the others. "Do we mind if Kate tries for a second son?"
Dan shrugged. "We all know I got added late to the family when the Prophet gave me to Ryan."
"Not like we care," Ryan reminded him gently. "You're just as much one of my wives as not, Dan." He grinned at that. "Even though I still miss the hair you had before you started taking the hormones."
"Maybe I'll grow it out someday," he teased. "I do know a baby's a lot of work and we're all working right now, at least part time."
"With the way the schedules work out right now, we can make due," Kate offered. "I'm going to be cutting back further."
"Can we afford one?" Ryan asked. They all nodded. "We're sure? Including the time off and all that good stuff?"
"As long as there's no other catastrophic job losses," Dessie agreed. "We've got good savings and retirement funds. The checking account is healthy. We're doing good with most of us working part-time and Dan being a real estate mogul," she finished with a tease for her fellow wife.
Dan just smirked back. "I did find us this place," he agreed modestly. The other two wives cuddled him and Kate snickered from her seat. "What happened to that one girl you were thinking about taking out?"
"Something's wrong with her," he admitted. "Something's very off. She's a bit on the using side. I don't want her near the family so we're keeping it at work friends." They all nodded at that. They didn't want to bring harmful influences into the family either. Kate shifted and he stroked down her stomach, going to tease her again. "Are we going for the wedding this weekend?" They all nodded. "Good. Make sure I'm up please?" They all smirked and nodded. "I take it I'm staying over?" he teased, his fingers sliding up under her skirt and finding the spot where she truly wanted them. She squealed as he breached her, making him give her a smirk. "Problems, wife?"
"No, husband, not a one. Unless you don't add another soon." He laughed and added another finger to play with her and his thumb playing with her clit while the others watched her get her pleasure. She got his pants undone for him and slid out of her clothes, climbing on so they could have good, sweaty sex while the others enjoyed it too. She finally panted and came down from her sex high, cuddling into his chest, heaving for breath until he got her calmed down. She kissed him. "I'll be fertile tomorrow."
"I can stay over for a few days," he reminded her quietly. "Even though you guys usually only want me to visit." She smiled and led him upstairs to their shared bedroom. The others piled in on the bed and they all played with Ryan and Kate, making sure she got all the seed she wanted and needed for her future son.
Ryan looked up a few weeks later when Horatio walked into his lab. "Did you get the letter?"
"I did. They had some very valid points," he admitted with a small smile.
"I told Drew about the emission control and why we drive the hummers."
"She did have some points and it was a very friendly, reasonable letter." He handed him an envelope. "Her response and a few counter ideas as well, Mr. Wolfe." He smiled and tucked it into his back pocket. He closed the lab's door. "Someone has come to me recently."
"There was a possible homicide at a certain compound just on the outskirts of town." Ryan nodded slowly. "The officers over it aren't the ones we usually work with but one of the responding ones saw a certain picture of you wearing a suit."
"That would have been my wedding picture. Why?" Ryan asked.
"They're not getting any cooperation and half the time they're insisting it's a suicide when it's clearly not."
"So we need someone who's part of the group to go question the group?"
"Indeed. Though I had no idea you belonged to our resident cult, Mr. Wolfe."
Ryan gave him a look. "That's because we get a very bad stigma for being some very tolerant people, Horatio." He nodded at that. "Our whole philosophy of 'do whatever you want, just leave us alone too' isn't always popular with the psycho-Christian posse as the wife calls half of the City Council."
"True." He moved a bit closer, glancing outside then back at him. "You are a member?"
"A few of my friends and I went there during our last year of high school. A few left when they figured it didn't have structure and they didn't like their spouses. I did stay. It's a very tolerant, loving place most of the time."
"There have been rumors...."
"And we dealt with them," Ryan assured him, cutting off that train of thought. "Believe me, they dealt with them. Which is why I don't live there. I haven't since my freshman year of college. The Prophet got a bit scary when his wife was trying to conceive. He had most of the men servicing her while he did them, so they could filter the power of his seed since he decided it being too strong was the answer to why she hadn't gotten knocked up before then." He grinned a bit. "She did have a daughter and the Prophetess is a pisser. Has a thing for Gucci. Uses it in a lot of sayings." Horatio snickered quietly at that. "The real problems were his wife when she was still there."
"So I'd heard. I did a bit of background checking. You have how many wives sponsored by them?"
"I've got three and about seven months before I left one of the others left her husband. She was a transsexual and he was being freaked out by it. The Prophet sent her to one of my wives for counseling and he's now a wife too, since just before I left. They decided when we left that all the wives and the kids would be in one house and I'd be in another so it wouldn't impact my career." He grinned at him. "One's wanting another son."
"You do have children? Because your forms are incomplete in that area in HR."
"I do. I have two thirteen-year-old girls, Drew is one of them. I have three fifteen-year-old girls. I have a nine-year-old son, and I have a six-year-old daughter," he said proudly, taking out the pictures to show him. "The one across from there are the wives."
"They're a beautiful family, Mr. Wolfe." He clapped him on the back. "Would you be comfortable handling this case?"
"As long as I didn't have to work with the bigot patrol. I've heard how they came in and denounced everyone, called them crazy assholes, and those things."
"That's fine. You handle the case and I'll have it transferred here to Yelina?" Ryan shook his head. "They won't work with a woman?"
"They would but she'd be just as bad, Horatio. She's a bit narrow-minded. Sending Calleigh would get her gently propositioned as well. There's two there who'd love to have her as a wife." That got a brighter smirk. "Sorry but truth. They don't expect you guys to understand, they do expect respect and Yelina has a really crappy poker face."
"She does, that's how I win whole months with my nephew," he admitted dryly. "I think we can figure out who's going with you. I'll get the case files for you."
"I can do that. Want me to stay on this homicide with Eric?"
"If you can, try to finish it up while I get the files. That should take the rest of the day."
"I'm hoping it won't take that long," he admitted. He nodded, heading back to make those calls while Ryan got back to work.
Calleigh leaned in a few minutes later. "What did Horatio want?"
"A kid I know is in an eco-friendly group and wrote him a very nice letter about how to green up our hummers. He was handing over his letter back. Plus we talked a bit about my family."
"Oh. Your parents?"
He smiled. "No." He got back to work. "Tell Eric I've got art sand."
"I'll go see him." She went to do that. "Eric, Ryan said he has art sand."
"Art sand?" He gave her a confused look. "On our homicide?"
"He's in Trace."
"I'll go talk to him." He smirked. "Was H ripping him a new one?"
"No, apparently he knows a young girl in an eco group who just wrote to Horatio about our hummers going a bit more green. He was handing over a response."
Eric shook his head. "Some fanatics." He went to talk to Ryan. "Art sand?" He let him see. "That is, with small pieces of glitter in it."
"Did they have any sand art there?"
"No, they didn't. Did we test for glue yet?"
"I'm running one now," he said, pointing at the machine. "Do you have anything?"
"The shoe print was the new Nike running shoe, the one with the springs. The fingerprints all came up a bust." Horatio walked back in with Frank Tripp. "We've got small evidence, Detective."
"Some's better than none," he said grimly. "Any good clues?"
"Running shoes, art sand," Ryan said, catching the paper coming out of the printer. "With glue so wall art sand." He handed it to Eric. "The stains were soda and cheese from cheetos. The fingerprint in it matched what we got from the door and windows."
"Charming," Frank said, looking at Eric. "Think you can handle this one?"
"He's being pulled off for that cult's homicide."
"Why?" Eric asked Ryan.
"I know some of the people there." Eric gave him a funny look. Ryan just smirked. "They're very tolerant people. I went there when I was in high school."
"You're a bit creepy now and then, Wolfe. I never imagined you'd do something like that." He walked off shaking his head.
Ryan shrugged. "His loss. What do we have?"
"We have one young woman who went to her new marriage and ended up dying four months later," Tripp admitted. "They said she wasn't that happy."
"We have divorce procedures," Ryan assured him. "Plus couples counseling and all that stuff."
Frank looked at him. "We?"
"We," he agreed. "I don't live there because I work here."
"Good to know. How many wives do you have?"
"Four. Rebecca, Kate, Dessie, and Dan."
"Dan?" he asked, looking confused.
"She came to us for counseling when her husband got a bit freaked because she was a trannie. We're very open and tolerant people who police the worst menaces out of our group."
"So I've heard," he admitted. "Kids?"
"Yes," he answered, cracking him up. "We live apart by the dictates of the wives. That's why I live in a tiny apartment that I clean all night."
"Uh-huh. Okay." He let him see the file.
Ryan looked it over then slowly shook his head. "Nope, something's definitely wrong. Before any marriage there's a counseling from some of the older wives in the compound. Dessie does a lot of that." He called her. "It's me. Did you hear about the one girl? No, it wasn't a suicide. Trust me. Okay, well, I'm going to be called in on it since they sent the bigot patrol out there. Someone saw the wedding picture," he admitted with a goofy grin. "Yeah, so let's draw the kids back until this is done? Thanks. Yeah, warn him if you want. That's fine." He hung up. "She'll call the head counselor. Plus keep the kids out of the way so no one says anything." He looked at him. "Good enough?"
"That's fine with me. We can leave it as 'you were one when you were younger' so you don't get harassed here."
He nodded. "That might be nice. Come on, we'll go now. Eric can grab the rest of these to do." He made sure they were all resealed properly and his log was signed off on, letting Horatio have it while he got out of his lab coat and headed after Frank. "Why did they give it to you?"
"They figured they needed someone scary and John groaned."
"Ah." He nodded. "That can happen I guess. I did ask that Yelina not go. She's got a terrible poker face and uptight morals."
Frank laughed. "She can now and then, yeah." He got them out to the hummer, letting Ryan drive them out there. "How do you put up with four wives?"
"It's not hard after the first few weeks. They've all got their own things and lives, plus their own schedules. Mostly, I just suck up the attention when they want me around and pout when they don't." That got a smile. "I do. The OCD started when we split up. I had it pretty mildly before then but the kids were young and they wanted them full time and a part-time husband so I got a bit anxious about that. Believe it or not, I'm better than I was my first year."
Frank snickered. "I heard about your rookie year on the force, Wolfe."
"Yeah, well, sometimes people don't understand. It's not like I'm hearing voices or something. I just feel the need to do certain things in certain ways. We all have a touch of it. Like how you color sort your M&M's."
He looked at him. "I never realized that."
Ryan nodded. "Everyone has something. OCD just makes it happen a lot more often and more stringently." He paused at a stoplight, handing over his wallet. "Family pictures. I never get to show them off." He put the envelope in his pocket on the dash and they headed on when the light was green.
"They're cute kids. Those girls of yours are going to be heartbreakers. They going to join?"
"That's up to them. We've made sure they lead a pretty normal teenage life. Dating in group dates due to their ages, a lot of TV that's mostly trash. Amanda has a thing for talk shows for some reason. She tapes most of them to watch every night. Tabitha's the quiet one and she's got a steady boyfriend that we do know, have met, and scared the crap out of. Especially since we met when he was trying to crawl in her window. I was there that night and he was in handcuffs for a very long time explaining why he had just stained her bedroom carpet." Frank laughed, handing back the wallet. "Kate, the brunette wife, wants a new son so we're trying now. Jacob's pretty good. He thinks he might be gay, made sure it was fine the other night. So we'll be seeing great things from him too." He pulled onto the right road and sped up a bit since they were out of heavier traffic. "Let me do most of the talking, all right?"
"Sure. You can get answers I can't in this case."
"Thanks. The last guys got real insulting and bitchy. It's all I've heard about for the last week on our chat room." Frank gave him an odd look. "The Prophetess set it up for those of us who went into the world. Quite a few of us left when the Prophet was put in jail for polygamy and his wife took over since she was a flake." Frank smiled and nodded a bit. "A true, God talks to me, we're going to go militant flake. That's why a bunch of us went to talk to the Prophet in jail and the rest of us had her driven out."
"So now the kid leads since her daddy died in prison?"
"Yup. Her and her two remaining mothers. She's pretty cool. Has a thing for Gucci." That got a snicker. "She does. Expect to hear at least one phrase with it in there." He pulled up to the gate, rolling down the window. "It's my case now. Where's the Prophetess?"
"Waiting on you, Ryan. She's at home."
"Thanks." He nodded. "This is Detective Tripp. He took over with me." That got a nod and a note made. "I've already cleared him for being somewhat tolerant and respectful."
"That'd be a nice change," the guard offered. "Have a good day and a peaceful family."
"You as well, and I hear congratulations are in order?" The guard blushed and nodded. "Tell the new wife that I'm happy for her. What's this one make, five?"
"Seven," he said happily. "We're all very happy and the wives like to help her do her hair since she's a bit vain." Ryan grinned at that and rode on, letting him call ahead. "They did send Howler," he said quietly. "He's on his way and he brought a respectful, semi- tolerant detective." He hung up and finished making his notes.
Ryan pulled up in front of a house and parked, getting out and letting Frank follow him. "No need to lock it. If someone around here steals we spank until they beg." He tapped on the house's door, looking at the older woman standing there. "Morning."
"Not really." She gave him a hug. "Come in, Detective. We'd like to get this horrible thing settled quickly. It's disquieting some of our people." He nodded, following Ryan inside, taking off his shoes when Ryan did. "Thank you for that kindness, new rug syndrome," she offered with a grin. He grinned back. "I can help you have access to anything you need."
"Including the pre-wedding counseling files?" Ryan asked.
"Including those and his family," she agreed. "We've all been a bit wary about her death. It was a shame she jumped."
Ryan shook his head. "Nope." She gaped. "Sorry, but we can tell and she didn't jump." He followed her into the sitting room. "Prophetess, are you sure you want to be involved? This is going to get a bit messy and does deal with sensitive issues."
"I'm fine with this, Ryan." She gave him a hug. "If it bothers me, I can talk to my mothers about it. As I'm doing what my father wanted, I should be involved." She smiled and shook the detective's hand. "Welcome to our home, Detective...."
"Tripp, ma'am." He sat down across from her. "Our ME found that she didn't jump. She also found a great deal of older bruising and some newer bruising."
"Which was a worry," the wife who hadn't met them at the door admitted. She pushed back her hair. "I'm the chief counselor for new marriages, Detective Tripp. I'll be more than happy to go over the records with you."
"Thank you, it could help."
She nodded. "There's a very small pool of suspects if she was beaten, correct?" the Prophetess asked Ryan.
"Her natal family or her new one," he agreed. "Was she a birthright or did she join?"
"She joined when she was fourteen. She had run away from home," she said, looking at her mother. "If I remember right, she came to us and got straightened out, left for a bit then came back?" She nodded. She looked at Ryan again. "She had a problem with drugs when she first got here but we helped her get off them and she didn't go back when she left, but the world out there wasn't as accepting of her. I do know his wives approached her instead of it being either of their ideas. I also know that a few of the other men were looking interested in her when she came of age. Oh, speaking of, we have one you need to drag off. He's in quarantine." Ryan raised an eyebrow. "His daughter said he's stumbled into her room a few times. We're stopping it before he can do anything and at the very least he needs alcohol counseling."
"Did the compound's judge give him over?" They all nodded. "There's actual charges?" They all nodded again. "Then we can take him with us today when we go back." He got back to the file then looked at her. "We also found that the marital relations had been a bit rough on her. She had some fresh tearing," he admitted. "DNA didn't come up in CODIS. Had her husband ever been arrested?"
The older women considered it then one nodded. "Back in his college days he had a drunk and disorderly. He's the one who tells the story about peeing off the pier and hitting the hiding DEA agents," one of them told him.
"Oh, him," Ryan said, nodding. "I didn't recognize the name." He frowned then looked at her. "He's impotent." The Prophetess nodded. "So that means the sexual relations weren't with him."
"Is that what that means?" she asked her mothers, who both nodded. "Wow. Okay." She looked at him. "Does that mean he didn't kill her?"
"No, it means he wasn't the one who hurt her that way," Ryan admitted. "We'll still have to clear him of the other things if it wasn't him." That got a nod. "Can we get the files and I'll go look at the crime scene while you go over that with Frank?"
"Sure," the Prophetess said, standing up. "I'll lead you over there, Ryan. It was nice meeting you, Detective Tripp, and I do hope we can work together. Violence is such an ugly thing and doesn't belong here."
"I hope so too, miss." He shook her hand and let her go off with his CSI, looking at the mothers. "I only found out today that Wolfe is one of you." That got a smile. "There's a lot of misconceptions about you guys in the city."
"Mostly we're just very tolerant people who believe that you don't have to limit yourself to one love," the counselor said happily. "Now and then even we get a few bad apples though." She stood up and led him into her office. "Let me get the files and we'll go over what worries she had before the wedding and how her spouses deflected them." She found the file in her filing cabinet and pulled it over to her desk, sitting down across from him to go over it.
Ryan came in later that night, looking at Frank and Horatio once they were closed in Horatio's office. "It's not them," he said.
Frank nodded. "I interviewed the family. The guy was sobbing." He looked at Wolfe. "Though we do have one for assault."
"One of the other wives was beating her," Ryan agreed. "The rape and homicide? That was an outsider. None of us would've went through that window. The community got together to make it as a community project one weekend." He sat down, looking at them. "So we're looking for someone outside the group for that part."
"Did the windows have a significance beyond being a community thing?" Frank asked.
"Yeah, they were a trio of inspirational messages. The Prophetess came up with the idea when she was about six, when the bad things started. The left one is 'a happy family's happiness comes from a happy home'. The middle one is 'a happy home is created by a happy and content family' and the last one was 'a content family's happiness comes from their children's future'. If it had been family related, she would've went through one of the first two, not the one about the kids. Plus, none of us, even one new to the compound and the group, would've went through those windows. We spent one whole weekend making those as a group and we're very proud of them. I did most of the blue pieces in the first one." Both older men smiled at that. "Is there any way to keep part of this out of the office?" Horatio shook his head. "So they all know why I got asked?" Horatio shook his head. "Not totally?"
"That you were there when you were younger," Horatio assured him. "As you asked for." Ryan grinned at that. "Did we find a direction to look at?" Ryan held up a small plastic bag, letting him see the thing inside. "Is that... is that a rally pendant?" he asked, taking it to look over. "It is. March for Women's Consciousness," he read.
"Which was a small march done by a church group to make sure that the women knew that they were supposed to be behind their husbands," Frank reminded him. "There were about two hundred people who decided that a woman's place was behind her man and her man was supposed to shield and educate her in God's laws."
"Which most of us looked at and said 'if they're happy' and shrugged it off," Ryan noted. He looked at Frank. "When I found that, I asked the Prophetess and she said that they did have someone who had just come to them from that church."
"Threatening?" Frank asked.
"Running away from her parents. She's seventeen, almost eighteen, and they made sure she told her parents she was safe, loved, and okay but they didn't make her tell them where. Not that they hid it. The guard said that they had come in twice to talk to their daughter. Once with their Minister to make her see how wrong we were. She showed them around some and the Minister agreed that she was still doing God's work trying to convert us but that she should probably still come home because a child's place was helping their parents. She refused. The parents called the cops to come get her, came back with the cops, who she talked to and they said she had to go back home. They drug her back there and she left again. She's in hiding right now at the compound. She doesn't want to get anyone in trouble but she can't go home. They're more of a cult than we are. Her parents had decided she had bad ideas from secular schooling and had withdrawn her last year. Her home schooling wasn't keeping up with state standards and she wants to go to college. We promised we'd support her ambitions, not marry her off to some old fart like her parents were going to, the older wives even helped her pick which school she wanted to go to. The couple who took her in are very happy with her grades and progress but she didn't wear one of those and refused to go on it with her parents by her own statement. I've got someone pulling up film for me."
"How long did you talk with her?" Horatio asked.
"About thirty minutes. When I found it, I asked the Prophetess, who called her to come over with her parents. For the obvious reason I'm going to uphold her running away to somewhere she could go to school and make something of herself and I'm not telling you where she lives without a judge saying so," he stated formally.
"I can agree to that," Horatio promised him. "As long as she's safe."
"Horatio, if one of us was abusing our kids, the community would beat their asses, put them in front of the community judge, and then hand over the information to the proper authorities if there was enough to charge them with. We brought back one guy who had been drunkenly wandering into his daughter's room and handed him to the proper department as well."
"Special Victims has no qualms about how they raise their kids there," Frank assured him. "They said if they have a problem out there, they know it'll be handed over. That part of the city they don't have to worry about a single rape, child abuse case, or child molester."
"One tried to join once," Ryan said with an evil smirk for him. "He wasn't happy. The kid he was targeting told his mother. His mother told the Prophet. The Prophet nearly had him strung up and flayed alive before handing him to the cops. He sobbed and begged to be arrested instead and told them *everything* he had done. And this was before the tougher child abuse laws. That was about six months before I joined. It's one of the reasons I did join. They knew what they were doing. All they wanted was a happy, tolerant life, and kids. Which was what I wanted back then too." He stretched. "Now I want a nap." Frank snickered at that. "I'm taking Presley to the park later with Hannah to let her see if she wants to take up PeeWee soccer. She's six. I'm going to need a nap."
Horatio smirked back. "Probably true." He looked at the pin again then at him. "So we should have a suspect tomorrow?"
"Yup and I had the gate guard up the patrols tonight too. Just in case because I saw someone odd there and I know they left years ago in a huff. The guard came in just after I did and he remembered him so they're watching for anything bad to happen and they know to call me instead of dispatch if it's not an absolute emergency. If it's someone to be arrested they'll call me from now on. Things like this, they'll still call dispatch." Horatio and Frank both nodded. "That keeps the department out of our bedrooms."
"Which is probably a good thing, though I still can't picture it myself," Frank admitted, shaking his head quickly.
Ryan grinned. "It's fun. Tiring, but fun." He stood up. "Let me go play with my family and I'll look over that tape tomorrow. Erica said she could get it to me by lunchtime, Horatio."
"Have a good night, Mr. Wolfe." He walked out and both older men waited until he was out of hearing to look at each other. "Any conflicts?"
"No! He was great to them. They all welcomed him like a son. They were polite and helpful. The one I worked with answered most any question I asked. She did refuse to answer one on the basis of it was another person's problem and I didn't need to know that."
"Which is reasonable," Horatio agreed.
"They were very nice. The group of homes out there are well kept, the kids were screaming and playing in the streets. There were a few parents watching us but no one had to stalk their kids to make sure they were safe. The community center was running a seminar on how to invest retirement funds for a few people. There were some kids studying under a tree. One set of teenagers were caught groping and one mother yelled because they were fifteen but otherwise not an issue at all. She did thank me for keeping an open mind. Then again I know the detectives who went in there the first time and they're assholes."
"That's what I was told as well," Horatio agreed. "What about the suicide rumors?"
"That's what you get out of any community. They didn't think one of their own was capable of it. I asked a few who lived near them and they said she was a nice, quiet, shy young woman. They thought she might've been unhappy. The counselor reminded them that that's why she was there and they did have divorce procedures. That got a nod and she assured them that they were still safe and whoever had done this would be found. The home was a wreck with twin seven-year-old boys." Horatio smiled a bit at that. "Both the other wives and the husband were deep in their grief. Normal spouse reactions. The kids were trying hard to fill in the gap by causing chaos and mayhem. Like most kids do. The one who was beating her was booked on minor assault and battery charges. The counselor demanded we book her on assault and battery charges. She went off on the wife really. Arresting her was a mercy in that case." Horatio nodded at that and Eric Delko leaned in. "What's up on my other one, Delko?"
"I have a suspect in mind and we can hopefully get them tomorrow. Wolfe got sent to the cult to deal with that case? I heard he was one of them."
"In his youth," Horatio told him. "He joined them while in high school, Eric."
"They're actually really nice, tolerant, happy folks who just want to be left alone," Frank told him. Eric snorted. "They police themselves, they handed over two people who were doing things that should get them arrested. The ones doing minor things have punishments around there, like clean up duty. Even the SVU guys didn't worry about them it's so safe there."
Eric nodded. "They're still a cult."
"Of people who preach tolerance and want to be left alone," Frank agreed. "Quite a few have polygamous marriages, a few gay marriages. A young girl in charge now who has a thing for Gucci. I heard a few good sayings today with that phrase added. 'Money may make the world go round but all the money and Gucci in the world won't make you happy if you don't know what floats your boat' was my favorite." Eric walked off shaking his head. "I think most of 'em have a pretty good vision of what the world should be and have created a little oasis of calm in the center of Miami's glitter and fake parts." He stood up. "Hopefully we'll have them by tomorrow."
"I can hope so too and I'll have someone look at the pin for fingerprints and things." That got a nod and Frank left. Horatio took it down to the lab to run himself. That way no one would misunderstand or purposely change things around to make it look like one of the cult if it wasn't. The fingerprint he found wasn't in the system but it was another check later when they brought in suspects.
Ryan came in the next morning to some odd looks. "Get it out now," he encouraged the receptionist.
"Do they preach OCD?"
"No, I had that before then. They tried to get me help to deal with it actually."
"Oh." She let him sign in and handed over an envelope. "From the reporter that makes you blurt stuff."
"Thanks." He grinned. "Anything else?"
"Any weird sex practices or rites?"
"Not since the Prophet was trying to knock up the wife who went evil," he offered with a grin. "That was mostly her idea and when he went to jail for polygamy she was kicked out for being evil." She just nodded at that. "She wanted to turn us into a 'talking to God' cult instead of a group of people who are tolerant."
"Yeah, that's why I went there. Their whole philosophy is 'that's good that you believe that way, that's your right'." She gaped. He smirked and nodded. "It's a lot more like a hippie commune than a cult. You can tell the others I said that too."
"When did you leave?"
"I've still got friends there but I left the compound when the witch went evil. My freshman year of college."
She smiled. "Miss it?"
"With all the assholes in the department who don't mind their own business and try to run your life for you? Yeah," he said dryly, walking off. She blushed a bit but they both knew she was only a gossip. He saw a few more stares as he walked. "Get it out now," he encouraged.
"Why couldn't Calleigh go?" DC, the guy in AV asked.
"Because she'd be embarrassed when two of the guys wanted to make her their next wife," he said, looking over at him then going back to reading the most recent memo from the department. He balled it up and tossed it in a nearby recycling can. "Anything else?"
"How many wives do you have?" he asked.
Ryan just smirked. "No comment. I keep my personal life out of the lab for a reason."
"So, three, four?"
Ryan just walked off shaking his head. Natalia stopped him in the hall. "Yes?"
"You're one of them?"
"In my youth," he said dryly. "Why?"
She looked at him. "You don't just up and leave those things, Ryan."
"We're not a religious cult, Natalia. We're a hippie commune sort of group. We're tolerant, that's why we live together. Because others aren't." She looked horrified. "We also police our own members to make sure that they obey the law."
"So I was what? Going to be pulled in?"
"They don't recruit. They never have. Not since word got around that the group was making their own community so they could lead a peaceful life and be left alone by people who can't understand what tolerance means. The first few couples were gay couples back in the early eighties. Yes there are polygamists and happy families doing that. They all live in reality, making sure that the family doesn't get bigger than they can support. Most of the wives and husbands work normal jobs, the kids go to normal schools with about six exceptions. Five go to a prep school and one's in an advanced science and math school." She gaped. "They've never recruited. If someone's found and they're compatible in a relationship manner, then they're introduced to the rest of the family. They're given time to get to know everyone. There's a mandatory counseling and living with period so you get to know the *real* person and not just the honeymoon phase person that can pretend to be nicer than they are before coffee in the morning or late at night when they run around in their underwear looking for chocolate cake."
She shuddered. "Then if they agree the relationship moves forward. Nothing's ever forced and nothing's ever done that would suck someone in. I stood up for a friend recently and acted as her final night's counselor. That way she could work through any last minute doubts and get them out in the open. She had none and she's now happily married to her husband and four other wives by the compound's standards. Last time I saw her, she was redecorating the living room with one of the wives and giggling over the couple across the street making out on their front porch. There's always counselors there if you have troubles and they do talk to others about it if they ask, but you have to ask. It's not like we're in Waco and there's no little spaceships. Though some of the kids are very eco friendly at the moment and are planning a community garden with the Prophetess. She said it'll do the community good and save on some outrageous food costs, plus we've got a few vegans in the group."
"We?" she asked.
"I still have friends there," he reminded her. "I keep in touch. It's nice knowing people who're tolerant and accepting. My OCD got a shrug and a 'so' when I showed up and an offer to help me with it if I wanted it. Not pushing, not demanding, ignoring it when it got annoying to them personally or to me. Because it was my decision to work on it or not since it was my problem and if I wanted it there were plenty of people who'd help with the desensitization therapy."
She walked off shaking her head. "You're stranger than I thought."
"That's because you don't like people who aren't white bread like you," he shot back, giving her a look. "You have no idea who I really am, Natalia," he said at her heated glare. "You never bothered to find out and now it's biting you on the butt because you're not looking deeper than the guy I am at work." He walked off again, heading to the locker room. He found Horatio in there. "Sorry, had to burst that bubble," he said quietly.
"I understand why." He handed over the reports he had. "There was a spot of blood on it, still not in CODIS. No prints in AFIS."
"Did anyone try the military databank?" he asked.
Horatio frowned. "No. Why?"
"Their senior council prides themselves and their families on supporting and being part of the military. I looked them up online last night. They pride themselves on being God- fearing, so right wing Falwell isn't as straight as they are, and being military minded."
"Good to know. I can have it run."
"I can do that if you saved it," he promised, smiling a bit. "How many times did you get calls?"
"Twice. The Chief wanted to know why I assigned you when I poached the case. I told him. Then Stetler called and demanded your full personnel file. I told him no and hung up." He walked off, heading back to check on the rest of the lab. He found Natalia ranting at Eric and walked in to stop it. "Natalia, you don't know Ryan," he agreed. "None of us are friendly with him outside of work. None of us know more than the persona he uses when he solves cases. He was correct in that."
"He dated me!"
"You've dated plenty of people without being serious," he reminded her. "It was only a date to him as well I'm sure." She huffed. He nodded for Eric to go, letting him escape. He looked so grateful for it too. "None of us have taken the time to get to know Mr. Wolfe outside of work. Also, I have worked with them before. He was right, they're tolerant as long as you're a law abiding citizen. They've always cooperated with the department when someone was doing something wrong. It says something when even the most paranoid officers in this city think that the compound will come to them if there's a problem so they don't have to watch that part of the city. Now, calm down and think. I'm sure Mr. Wolfe would appreciate you doing that instead of spreading your uneasiness with his past around."
"He said 'we', Horatio. He's still one of them."
"Even if he were, there's no law against being tolerant and letting others think whatever they want, Miss Boa Vista. There never has been."
"We know they're polygamists."
"Which is only illegal if you file paperwork."
She huffed and stomped back to her lab. "Did you hear about Ryan?"
Valera looked at her and nodded. "Yeah and I've met his daughter Presley," she told her. Natalia gaped. "He doesn't have custody of her but he visits her all the time. They've been in the park where I jog a few times. She thought I had pretty hair." She smiled. "I also know some of the other members. They're very nice, normal people who could care less what you think about anything. They're somewhere between hippies and Buddhists. They don't care what or who you are as long as you're not a rapist, molester, thief, murderer, or anything like that. I know one who was in SVU a few years ago and they had a very high solve rate and never had any problems at the compound." She got back to work. Horatio walked in. "I heard you got a letter?" she teased.
"I did. There's a group of young people who wanted us to go a bit greener than the hummers. They offered suggestions if we had to keep them and a few I've been trying to implement for a while now. A few were good suggestions and I've talked to someone about them. A few were a bit more fanciful and I told them what we had done, how we had done it so far, like the emission controls, and why we used them. It was well thought out, not demanding, and very polite for middle school aged children." Natalia gaped at him. "Mostly thirteen and fourteen. Sixth and seventh graders at a local school."
"That is about when things like that start to matter to you," Valera said. "How's Ryan holding up?"
"So far he's fine. He's open to answering reasonable questions if they're asked. He might get in trouble for a few of the smart remarks he's made so far," he said when he walked in with the sample.
"Probably but the Prophet used to tell me I was too quick to jump in any way. I'm more than allowed to be a smartass in my own defense." He looked at Valera. "The sample we found, can you run it through the military files?"
"I can," she agreed, getting into that one and doing that. She smiled at him. "Are things okay at home? You look a bit tired."
"Presley wanted to see if she wanted to join PeeWee soccer last night."
"Ah. Ran you all over the park," she said wisely. He nodded, yawning a bit. "Why don't you bring her in for lunch?"
"Because I don't want her exposed to the stupid people yet," he admitted. "There's a few guys in patrol who're going to come up and try me; I don't want her to see that."
"Are you foreseeing it?" Horatio asked.
"No, I got a call warning me that three of my former partners are taking their lunch break together to come kick my ass." He looked at the computer when it beeped. "Mine?"
"Yours," she admitted, turning the computer monitor around so he could see. A female sample from a donor for identification of relative's remains.
"Two ways for blood to get on a pin," Ryan said thoughtfully. "Either they were wearing it or they stuck themselves putting it on someone." He looked at Horatio. "She's eighty."
"Go talk to her, see if she's still got it. Also, view the tape first," he decided.
"I've got DC cuing it up for me," he admitted, hitting the print button for her. "Thanks, Valera. Want to have lunch Sunday with Presley since we're both on?"
"Sure, I can do that," she agreed happily. He smiled and walked off with the paper. She looked at Horatio. "You can join us if you want."
"I may do that." He looked at the samples she had left. "Let me know when you get Calleigh's done? She wanted another viewpoint." She nodded, getting to her next one. "Thank you, ladies." He walked out, heading to tell Frank what they knew.
"You're not one, right?" Natalia asked.
"I'm tolerant but I still like to gossip and watch the neighbors," she told her. "Besides, I like my house." She got back to work, mentally shaking her head. Some people were less than bright.
Frank walked up to the woman's door. Ryan had let him do this part himself, but he did have Horatio as backup. He thought they might recognize him as being part of the group and that would cause problems if they saw him there. The older woman opening the door glared at him. "Ma'am, I'm Detective Tripp and this Lieutenant Caine with the crime lab. May we come inside?"
"No you may not. I'm shampooing my rugs." She moved her wheelchair outside so they could sit with her. "What's happened? One of my grandsons?"
"Ma'am, we think we found your rally pin," Horatio said, holding up the small bag so she could see. "It has your blood on the pin." She frowned at that. "We found it at the scene of a homicide."
"I have mine on my jacket, Lieutenant. Get into the hall closet to make sure." He nodded, going to do that. She looked at Frank. "What homicide?"
"You know that group out toward the Keys?"
She nodded once. "I heard one of them died. Can't say as I'm surprised she jumped."
"Pushed," Frank told her. "Through a window after being hurt greatly, ma'am. That's the only evidence that was found at the scene."
She nodded. "So you found my DNA and came to see if it was my pin first or if I had put it on someone." He nodded at that. Horatio came back with the jacket. "Knew I still had mine." He put it back for her. "Thank you, son." She considered it. "I know there's a few who aren't happy with one of our daughters going there to be sucked in."
"Ma'am, the girl was talked to by an officer yesterday. She said she's staying there because they're letting her go to school and expect her to follow up on her ambitions."
"I heard," she admitted. "Minister Patrick said some nice things about them hippies out there." She thought about it. "If I put it on someone it'd have to be one of Frank's grandsons or EmmaJean. EmmaJean's a nice girl but a bit strange. I can't tell you which it was." He wrote that down. "I can tell you now to get the Minister on your side, son. They'll listen and come when he calls. They might not for you if they know they did wrong. The younger generation's just stupid sometimes."
"We have seen that now and then," Frank agreed with a small grin. "We caused just as much hell and havoc, we had different means to do it."
"Oh, I did in my day. I come from farm country and we used to go tipping cows. Really mean things since they can't get up again. Now you've got new ways to cause problems. Should go live with the Amish to solve some of that. It'd be simpler."
Horatio smiled at her. "Their children find ways of getting in trouble now and then too I'm sure."
"Yeah but it's cow tipping trouble, not bringing a gun to school or murdering people trouble," she pointed out. She sighed. "God is missing from the youth of today. Thank God my two are barren." She rolled herself back to the door. Horatio helped her through the narrow doorway. "Been meaning to replace that."
He wrote out a name and number. "They do work like that and do some work for the community as well, ma'am. They'd be more than happy to come do yours because they use it to teach young kids how to do construction. They could put in a ramp too." She smiled at that. "Thank you for your help. Would the Minister be in his church?" She nodded. "Then I'll leave you to your rugs, ma'am, and we thank you for your help."
"Not a problem. I hope you catch them. Murder is still one of the highest of high laws to break. Even God's." She closed the door, watching them leaving. She thought about calling the Minister but he could be a bit strange now and then so she'd let them announce what was going on.
Ryan watched through the mirror as Horatio grilled their three suspects, nodding at the man who came in. "Stetler."
"Wolfe. We have to talk."
"No we don't."
"You're breaking the law."
Ryan looked at him. "I don't have papers on file." He looked at the mirror again. "I also don't live with them. Therefore it's not even common law marriage by the state's definition." He frowned at something they said. He texted Frank, who showed it to Horatio. Horatio asked that question and one of them tripped over his tongue, earning a smirk. He had wanted the pretty young wife and she hadn't wanted him. He turned to look at Stetler. "Anything else?"
"You have how many wives?"
"My personal life stays out of the lab, with the exception of my youngest coming to have lunch with me one day soon because someone asked." He gaped in horror. "I don't live with my family because of narrow-minded bigots around here. They decided and told me that. My OCD's gotten a lot worse thanks to that sort of problem. Now, anything else, Sergeant? If not, I've got to do the final reports on this case."
"You shouldn't be on this case."
"I had to be since the other officers couldn't be respectful. They had to be pulled for the same reason we had to remove a few officers from the assault that happened at the Synagogue last year." He went pale at that. That case was still a lawsuit. "Now, anything else? Detective Tripp was there with me when I questioned people out there to make sure I was doing things appropriately."
"I heard you split up for an hour and a half."
"I went to look at the crime scene and talked to a young girl who had run away from those three in there when the evidence led back to them. She had a legitimate reason for running away and is in a better, well loved place now. She's allowed to go to school again and all that good stuff. We're all pretty sure she's going to be leaving us once she gets into college but she's free and that's what really matters."
"If someone questions you, and you refuse to tell them where she is, that will put you in jail."
"I know. She does too. Her parents seem to have given up." He walked around him and past the window, watching one of them start screaming about him. He paused and stared him down, making him back up and hide behind one of the other guys, then move on and go to his desk so he could work on his reports. Frank came by an hour later. "I'm not the one to be scared of," he pointed out, printing it and stapling it before holding it up. He looked at him when it wasn't taken. "They recant?"
"Nope. They are claiming the girl was kidnaped."
Ryan called someone. "They're claiming Beth is a kidnaping victim. Might be a good idea, yes. Thank you. At the lab is fine. Thanks." He hung up. "She'll be brought to you so you can verify that." That got a nod and Frank took the report to walk off with it. Ryan went back to the lab to get back to work, running into Horatio. "She's coming in to talk to Frank in person."
"Thank you for that." He stared at him. "The Prophetess is yours?" he asked quietly.
Ryan shook his head. "Even if I was there when she was conceived, she's not mine, Horatio. She's the Prophet's. That was his wife's idea. The same as I'm not really sure Hannah is mine but she's mine anyway." That got a nod. "Is Eric done with ours?"
"He is. He arrested earlier today," he admitted with a small smile. "You're up next for an open case."
"Thanks." He grinned. "Come to dinner?"
"We'll see." That got a nod and Ryan went to check on his cold cases for now. He watched him go. Ryan was definitely not the person he had expected when he had hired him.
Ryan smiled as his daughter got out of the cab, paying it for her. "Thanks." He walked his little girl inside, letting her sign in like a big person. She hitched on her badge and let him have the bag she was carrying. "Come on, we'll go eat with Max. She's here today too." She squealed and ran ahead, finding Maxine in the break room. She pounced, earning a laugh and a hug. "She's excited."
"It's a special treat to come eat with you," she reminded him, giving the little girl a cuddle. "How have you been? I haven't seen you in weeks, Presley."
"I've been fine but I don't think I like soccer." She wiggled over into her own seat. "Daddy, Mommy Kate said you had to come over tonight because there would be a baby or she'd kill someone. I don't understand why."
"It's a saying," he said, blushing a bit while he got them a soda to share and set out their lunch. He looked in the bag then at her. "Dan cooked?"
"Of course. Mommy Rebecca said she didn't feel like it. She's having a grumpy girl day according to her."
"Those happen to all girls," Maxine assured her. She shared her chips with a wink, getting a pout. "What's wrong?"
"The stupidhead doctor said I'm going to get fat."
He coughed. "I knew I shouldn't have let you watch _Buffy_. Say that again and I'm going to spank. You know better than to insult people," he said at her pout. He stared her down until she nodded and dug in. "Say thank you?"
"Thank you, Maxine. You're very nice and I know I'm not going to get fat."
"No you're not. You're a very active child," Ryan assured her. "I forgot to ask Alexx about recommendations. I'll do that today."
Maxine had her phone out before he finished speaking, calling her. "Alexx, Ry and I are eating with Presley. His daughter. Sure! Come on up." She hung up with a grin. "I doubt you've told her."
"Nope," he said dryly, digging into his sandwich. "Mommy Dan does make very good roast beef." Presley giggled and nodded, digging in to eat too. A beautiful African- American woman walked in a few minutes later. "Presley, that's Alexx."
"Hi, Alexx," she said with a beaming smile. "You're very pretty and Daddy said you're very nice to him most of the time, even if you do fuss over him like the Mommies do."
"Now and then he needs it." She sat down across from her. "How old are you, sugar?"
"Just started first grade this year," he agreed proudly. "She's doing pretty well so far."
"Thank you, Daddy."
"You deserve it. Eat." He looked at her. "Sorry I didn't tell you earlier."
"Can you tell Daddy a better doctor than mine? He thinks I'm going to be fat soon." She ate another bite, making Alexx giggle a bit. "Oh, Daddy, Rachel can't come to my birthday party."
"Because her mother's a stupidhead too and she said we can't be friends because we're strange and wrong. Before you spank me, she yelled it across the playground so I'd know too and the teacher called her worse names and told me her mother would grow up some day and see that she was wrong."
"Still won't keep you from being spanked tonight," he assured her dryly. She pouted. He shook his head. "You know the rules."
"Can Mommy Kate?"
"We'll see." She nodded, digging in again. "Though I do agree with your teacher. Some day Rachel's mother will finish growing up and see how wrong she is and so will Rachel. You'll have your friend back some day. Until then we can make new friends." She nodded at that. "Good girl. How did she find out?"
"Uncle James' son joined our class."
"That's fine. You two can protect each other."
"I've been hearing rumors that you used to belong to the cult out toward the Keys," Alexx told him.
He nodded. "It's not a cult, Alexx. There's no religious principle behind it." She gave him a look. "There's not. We're more like a commune than anything else."
"Fine, whatever. You were?" He nodded. "Is that where she came from?" He smirked and nodded. "Really? Any others?"
"You'd have to come over to dinner." He kissed her on the cheek. "I didn't tell you because now and then you have a very strong reaction to things that aren't hetero and single family."
She stared him down. "I may've been taught that way but it doesn't mean I'd hate you for it, Ryan Wolfe."
He grinned. "So come out for dinner." He grinned at Maxine. "You can too."
"They might want to keep me," she teased.
He coughed and shook his head. "Nope. Family's big enough." She laughed at that. Presley looked at him. "She thinks the Mommies might want to keep her too."
"She hugs very nice but they think they want another male mommy, Daddy." She dug in again. "Mommy Dan will be very upset if you don't eat."
"I'm eating. You picked up nagging off Rebecca." She giggled and nodded, giving his arm a hug. "Thanks, Pres. You eat too." He ate a bite and chewed then swallowed. "We do need a new pediatrician. The one at the compound thinks she's going to get fat."
"I don't see any indication why. She's too skinny already!"
"Exactly," Ryan agreed.
"I'll get mine's number and hand it over. Do you live out there?"
"Nope, we haven't lived there since college. The ladies go back and we still have friends. We're still very tight together too, even though they make me go home now and then."
"They want more of the bed because he's a bed hog and he snores," Presley told her. Ryan moaned, shaking his head, looking at the table.
"So does my husband, dear. Most men seem to be a bit like that." She patted Ryan on the back. "She's clearly very bright," she teased.
"Clearly," he agreed. "She's got a good grasp of science too." He ate another bite, waving at Eric when he walked past. He sipped their shared soda, letting her steal it from him. "Hey." Eric came in, looking at the little girl then at him. "Presley, this is Eric, I've talked about him a few times."
She looked at him. "Are you the nice one who bakes cookies or the playboy who would want to steal Mommy Rebecca?"
He burst out laughing, giving her a hug. "The second one, princess. It's very nice to meet you." He patted her on the head and punched Ryan on the arm. "I'll get you for that later, Wolfe." He got a bottle of water and headed back to work, going to tell the others that Ryan's daughter was in. She couldn't belong to anyone else with her hair and eyes. Plus she had her father's stubborn expression when he had walked out. "H, Ryan's daughter's in."
He smiled. "I had heard that."
"She's eating with Alexx, him, and Valera. She just called me a playboy too." Horatio walked off snickering, going to introduce himself. Calleigh looked out of her lab. "Really."
"I didn't know he had kids."
"He told me he didn't."
"Hmm. We'll have to pump him for information. It's not fair if we don't get to meet his family. I've met yours plenty of times." She went to butt in too. "Awww, aren't you so adorable," she cooed.
The girl looked at her. "Of course I am." Calleigh burst out laughing at that. "I am. I'm young and we're all cute when we're young. It's so the parents don't abandon us when we get mouthy and smartassed."
"That's two," Ryan warned. She pouted. He shook his head. "You know better than to swear too."
"Yes, Daddy." She smiled at her again. "He can spank me later. What do you do?"
"I'm a tech like your daddy but I do ballistics, which is guns and things."
"Wow. Daddy cleans his gun and he showed me how to when I asked but I don't know anything about them."
"Well when you're older I can help him teach you," she promised, giving her a hug. "It was very nice meeting you, dear."
"You too." She smiled as Calleigh left and looked at Horatio again. "Daddy said you were pretty cool about us. Are you coming to dinner tonight? Daddy is because Mommy Kate wants that baby brother very badly."
"I can come to dinner tonight," he promised with a smile. She beamed and nodded, digging in again. "If it won't be a problem?" he asked Ryan quietly.
He shook his head. "Nope. They expect Presley to pick up people to come home with. She's done it a few times in the past."
"He needed food, Daddy. He didn't have any."
"He didn't and it was a very generous thing to do," he agreed, making her smile. "I'm very proud that you care for others that way, Presley. It's a great thing for the world." She stole the soda to have more of it then got back to eating. "You two can both come out too," he assured the ladies.
"Next weekend," Alexx promised. "That way you don't overload the mothers."
He snorted. "Dan cooks most of the time. He likes to cook and it lets him destress from dealing with people who say one thing and mean another when they're looking for a house."
"I've heard about him. Wasn't he a trannie?" Maxine asked.
"Yeah, when we met," Ryan admitted. "That's why she came to the women for counseling. She went to him and he's still considered a mommy." She smiled at that and nodded a bit. "Coming over tonight?"
"Next weekend. We can do a cookout or something."
"Sure. It'll let the girls sneak in a boyfriend to be vetted."
"Tabitha and Amanda both have one, Daddy," Presley told him.
"I knew Tabs did." He looked at her. "Amanda has one too?"
"Yup and he's a .... I can't say that word anymore."
"Good girl. How did you find this out?"
"I was eavesdropping and heard her talking about a long bike ride but he'd have to clean the grease off his bike. When Mommy Kate met him accidentally he was mean to me and he teased her to make her blush, Daddy. You should spank him too."
"If he upsets her again, Kate can," he assured her happily. He called his family. "It's me and Presley." He smirked. "Yes, I did just hear about him, Kate. Cookout next weekend so we can all meet the greasy little dirtball?" He laughed. "That's fine. Alexx and Maxine Valera said they're coming and I've invited Horatio out tonight if that's okay?" He nodded at Horatio. "Thanks. Sure, I'll send her home the same way she got here. Love you too." He hung up. His daughter's boyfriend was toast when he met him. Horatio gave him a knowing look. "He shouldn't hit on her mother. It's disrespectful of my daughter. Besides, I'm only going to threaten him. A bit."
"I'm already preparing good ones for when my babies date," Alexx told him, patting him on the wrist. "You could take ten and drop her off, Ryan."
"I like cabs," Presley assured her. "They tell neat stories if you ask. The one earlier told me about how he used to be a freedom fighter in Cuba."
"You get to know a lot of people doing that job," Ryan agreed. "Finish up." She finished up and gave him a cuddle, making him smile. "That's my good girl. How are you going to like not being the baby of the family?"
"It'll give Jacob someone else to pick on," she said happily.
"What did he do this time?" he asked patiently.
"He was a s...boogerhead and rearranged my dolls on me," she pouted. "I spent all day getting them back where they're supposed to be and making sure their dresses were straight, plus dusting under them since Mommy Rebecca said I had to move them anyway."
He kissed her on the head. "I'll remind him to be nicer to you later." She beamed and hugged him extra hard. "Boogerhead is just as bad as stupidhead. No more name calling," he said quietly. She nodded, kissing him on the cheek. "That's my good girl. Now, let's get you home?" She waved at the others and let him walk her out, even remembering to hand back her badge. He found a cab pulling in and leaned in. "This is my daughter. She's going to her mother's house," he said, holding up his badge. "She's very nice and will ask you to tell her a story too. Good for you?"
"That's fine. I'll get her right to her door."
"Sixteen-fifty Orange," he instructed, handing over a twenty. That got a smile and a nod and he buckled his little girl in. "Be good until you get home. I'll be a bit late but not too late." He kissed her on the forehead and backed out so he could shut the door. He waved, watching her head off. Then he turned and ran into Stetler. "My daughter came in for lunch." He walked around him.
"Children are not allowed at the station unless they are the victim, a witness, or the perpetrator, Officer Wolfe," he said coolly. "Not even for lunch."
Ryan looked at him. "What is your issue with the lab?" he demanded, moving closer. "I know very well you've had your present girlfriend's sons over to have lunch with them in your office on your expense account." That got a sneer. "And no, before you try anything, that wasn't blackmail." He walked off, heading back into the break room. "Horatio, fair warning, Stetler's going to try something. He just stopped me to remind me she shouldn't have been here." He sat down, getting back to his lunch, weathering the shocked looks. "What?"
"You have how many kids?" Maxine asked.
"Um...." He counted quickly. "Seven." He grinned. "With one possibly coming because one of them wants another son. Only one boy." He ate a large bite of his sandwich.
"When you swallow, I want to see pictures," Alexx demanded. Horatio smiled at her. "It's only fair! He's seen mine." He handed over his wallet, letting her see them. "Do you pay support?"
"They won't let me."
"Why not?" Maxine asked.
"They said so and I'm a slave to their opinion. They outvoted me when I tried. I do pay for upkeep on the house and the mortgage payment," he offered. "They won't even let me put them on my insurance. I'm like an occasional husband to them." That got a slow nod from Alexx. "They're the ones who decided that, not me. I tried to argue with them but they said they were going to be my harem that I visit. Yell at them next weekend."
"I thought it was cute your daughter had OCD already," Maxine teased.
"She does prove that it could be genetic. She came out cleaning and fussing over her dolls. Fortunately it's her only problem area so far. We talked to the person who helped mine go down after the first three were born and he said that she might not develop anything further and it didn't look like OCD rituals yet, just making sure that they're all in the same place and in the same condition. If it was a ritual, it's usually fear based," he explained at the odd look. "So it's good it's not a ritual."
"We hope she gets better," Horatio said gently.
"I think she'll grow out of it if she has something else to take that attention. That's why we were thinking about PeeWee soccer for her. She hates to run though." That got a nod. "She's liking swimming so we'll think about that instead." He finished his sandwich and grinned when Eric stormed back in. "Stetler?"
"Stetler," he agreed. "Did you know you're suspended? That he's doing a case review?"
"Really? Interesting. If he doesn't want to see his new girlfriend ever again due to working that many late hours it's up to him. I know I haven't done anything wrong. Boss?"
"You're staying, Ryan." He got up and went to find him ranting at one of the higher ups. He coughed and looked at their boss. "Problems?"
"Your new boy, Wolfe. He part of that group?" the Chief of Detectives asked bluntly.
"When he was younger. He moved off the compound when he was in college. He still keeps in contact and has a lot of contact with his family."
"So the boy has one of the extended families?"
Ryan walked up behind Horatio. "Ask me yourself, Sir. That's something Sergeant Stetler has never learned." He stared at him. "Yes, I do have contact with the family I had out there. Including my children, one of who was just in for lunch."
"You ever file paperwork to make it legal?" he asked.
"The wives knew I wanted to be a cop and they made sure our lives wouldn't compromise that goal. Including making me live separately most of the time. Because we all know that there's bigots in the department," he said, staring at Stetler. He looked at his boss's boss again. "My wives overrule me on many things, sir. Just like any other husband, only they gang up on me." That got a small laugh from Horatio. "They do." He looked at his boss again, grinning slightly. "I can show you pictures if you go steal them from Doctor Woods."
"That's all right, son. You recruiting for a larger family? I've heard that rumor as well."
"Sir, I've got enough wives and one of them wants another child. As my daughter put it, one of the mommies wants another male mommy but otherwise we're very content and set with the size of our current one." That got a slow nod. "One was a trannie."
"Ah!" he said, understanding that. "That's fine then, Wolfe. No more kids at the station?"
"Others bring their kids in for lunch. If they can, I can."
"Good point. I've heard some pretty strange rumors about you guys."
"Usually spread by people who're afraid of us because we don't judge others on who they love unless it's a kid or a housepet. It throws their view of how the world works and who has what sort of power if we don't participate in their petty jealousies and intrigues. I, for one, don't have the energy to care if you're gay, bi, straight, sleeping with a camel, goat, pig, or horse. As long as it's not a child, someone unwilling, or a housepet I could care less."
"Well said," he decided, looking at Stetler. "It's not fair to punish him for a sin you've done too, Stetler."
"He just admitted he has multiple spouses!" he complained.
"Not legally," Horatio told him. "It'd be the same as you having two different girlfriends, Rick." He looked at his boss. "I can assume the suspension has been removed?" That got a nod. "Thank you. Mr. Wolfe, go finish lunch and get back to work." He nodded, going to do that. "I know he's not the only one in the department," he said more quietly. "I also know that some of the less tolerant of our people have driven them out, the same as they've done to gay officers." That got a grim look and a nod. "Do let it be known that I'm not letting him go. I do not put up with petty attempts at politicking in my lab."
"Agreed," the Chief assured him. "Stetler, butt out of his bedroom." He walked off, going back to his office. The boy seemed very nice even though he was a bit gay. He'd have to put up with that he guessed. Horatio was going to guard his people. Then again, Horatio had odd tastes.... He might be one of them too for all he knew.
"I know he's doing something wrong," Stetler assured him. "I will find it."
"If you dig a hole to the center of the earth and get burned by the lava, you have no right to complain about the pain," he said dryly, walking off feeling a bit better. Ryan was back in the lab, Alexx was telling her husband about Presley and what she had learned. Maxine was cooing over his son's photo. He walked into the lab Ryan and Maxine were in. "Dinner is when?"
"Usually seven but I said I'd be a bit late tonight," he admitted, grinning some. "We're still good?"
"We're fine, Mr. Wolfe. If not, I'll let you know as soon as I do. I also pointed out I don't accept politicking in my lab." That got a nod. "Who else do you think complained?"
"Natalia," they said together, her pinching him on the arm.
"I'll make sure her problems are quieted as well," he said, going to talk to her again. He found Eric in there chewing her out so he stepped in. "I take it you heard that same rumor?" he asked patiently.
Eric grimaced. "Yup. And then I pointed out that he doesn't need any more. He's got more than his fair share and they send him home to get away from him cleaning on them." He glared at her. "You cannot destroy someone in this lab, Natalia. If you do, we're vulnerable. He's the same guy he was before, only now you know he's got a home life. I doubted he had any at all before I knew that."
"He has invited Alexx and Miss Valera over for a cookout next weekend," Horatio offered quietly. That got a grin.
"That sounds like a good way to get to known him. Finally! He's got how many kids?"
"Seven," Horatio told him. "Alexx has seen pictures." He looked at her again. "Would you be throwing this sort of fit if he were Mormon?" She shuddered and backed away. "Fine. From now on, keep your opinions to yourself, Miss Boa Vista. I will not have problems in this lab because Mr. Wolfe has a life outside the lab. I expect all my people to have a private life. He simply hid his better." He walked out, going back to his current casework. She could complain about how wrong it was all she wanted. He did hear Eric shoot back that she had offered him a threesome so she was a hypocrite before walking out, making him smirk. That was an interesting note.
Ryan leaned around the door. "Dan?"
"Get your scrawny ass in here, husband," he called. "And bring your boss too!"
"Sure. Making sure we weren't going to walk into another nerf ball war."
"Not now. Rebecca confiscated them." Ryan walked in and let Horatio follow him. "Lieutenant." He shook his hand. "I'm Dan."
"Call me Horatio, please," he offered with a smile, looking around. "This is a great house."
"Thank you. I'm very proud I found the ability to turn this into a good home for us. It was my first real estate purchase." He led them back into the kitchen. "Ryan's here with Horatio," he bellowed. Kate squealed and came running down the stairs to pounce Ryan into a wall, kissing him until he had to pull away to pant. Dan smirked a bit. "Sorry, she's in heat and wants a second son."
"I've heard that can happen when sons are wanted," he assured him, earning a smile. He smiled when Presley pounced him. "Hello again." She giggled and led him off to show him around. Including her enormous doll collection. Her whole room was filled with dolls. He smiled at her and sat down to help her fix the hair and skirts that her bratty older brother had played with.
"Son, I don't care if you are gay," Ryan called as he walked down the hallway. "Leave your sister's dolls alone. We'll buy you your own if you want some." His son groaned and slammed his door. He smirked at his baby girl, who gave him an evil smirk back. "Solved you think?"
"Maybe I'll give him one to start his own collection," she said happily.
"Don't be mean to him, that makes you no better a bully than he is," Horatio said gently.
"I know but he deserves it." She kissed him on the cheek. "I like you." She went to bring one of her older ones to her brother, finding him nearly under his bed in shame. "If you wanted to start your own collection I'll let you have Missy," she offered gently.
He looked over at her. "No thanks. I wanted to help you get over yours."
"That's mine and the mommy's job," she said firmly, hugging her doll. "Doing that to me is mean." She stomped off.
"Sorry," he called, getting up with a groan to help her put things to right. He found Horatio already helping. "Another collector?"
"No, simply helping. You can as well if you want."
"I was trying to make sure she didn't have any panicked moments like Dad does now and then," he said, settling in on her floor to go through the ones under her bed. "You need a better way to store and show all these off, Pres. You've got tons of dolls under here." He held up something. "When did you get a flimsy nightie? Mom!" Kate leaned in so he held it up. "Is someone missing theirs? It was under her bed."
"It could've been there since before she was born," she admitted, taking it. "If you find anything else, let Dessie know. It's hers." She went to hand it to her co-wife. "Under Presley's bed."
"That used to be my storage space," she admitted, going to toss it into the laundry. Ryan gave her an odd look. "Jacob found it under Pres's bed."
"Ah. Wondered where that went to since I didn't remember ripping it," he said, kissing her with a smirk and going to mug Kate some more. Dan made kissing faces so he got his own and a smile too. "Jealous?" he teased.
"Nope, I had what she had and I like what I have now much better." He got back to cooking. "Any problems at work?"
"Stetler tried to have me suspended for bringing Presley in. The Chief of Detectives talked with Horatio so I'm still good."
Dan beamed and kissed him hard and fast. "Good. I'm happy with that. I'd hate to have to move us all somewhere else." He went back to braising the meat. "Dinner's in an hour. Have chores done or don't eat!" he yelled. You could hear running footsteps upstairs as the kids went to comply.
Ryan coughed. "Since Alexx and Maxine wanted to meet you all, would a cookout be a problem for next weekend? That way we could meet both Tab's and Amanda's boyfriends." They all stared at him.
"AMANDA!" Rebecca bellowed, making her run down the stairs. "Boyfriend?" she asked, staring her daughter down. She went pale and backed up. "We *will* be meeting this boy, daughter. Am I clear?" She nodded slowly.
Ryan grinned. "Since Alexx and one of my other coworkers wanted to meet you guys we're doing a cookout next weekend. All boyfriends or girlfriends are to be there. Clear?"
"Clear, Daddy. We're not serious."
"I heard something about a motorcycle ride and him having to clean the grease off?" She went extra pale at that. "Uh-huh. Do we have to have the birth control talk this month or just soon?" he asked.
"Done it already," Dessie admitted from her spot sitting on a counter. "She's on the monthly shot." Ryan beamed at her for that. "I don't want to be Grandma Dessie anytime soon. Hell yes I took all five of the older girls with me when I went and had the doc put them *all* on something. I had better not be a grandmother this decade." She looked at her natal daughter.
"Is this the same one that hit on me?" Kate asked. Their daughter nodded quickly. "You're dating that greaseball?"
"He's got a good heart under the grease, Mommy."
"If you have to bathe him to find it, it's not a good thing, daughter."
She shrugged. "I like him."
"We'll be making sure he's a nice boy next weekend," Ryan assured her. "Tab's boy too. Jacob's boy if he's got one in mind. Or a girl if any of the others want to like girls."
She just nodded. "Sure, Daddy." She blew a kiss and ran off. "Jacob, I'm going to murder you and not even Dad will find your parts!" she bellowed.
"I didn't tell him you're sleeping with the greasy git!" he called back from Presley's room, slamming her door.
Presley giggled. "I accidentally let it slip at lunch."
Jacob smirked. "I knew I had warped you for a reason." He got back down to help her and Horatio rearrange all the dolls. "Maybe we can talk Dad into putting up some glass cases in the living room for some of them?"
"I wouldn't mind. We could put the marriage dolls down there," she said happily, going to talk to her parents. "Mommies?" They all smiled at her. "Jacob suggested we could maybe put some of my dolls in the living room? Like the wedding dolls? They're usually very pretty."
Dan smiled. "We'll figure out where, princess. How about they go on the shelves around the fish tank?" She beamed and nodded. "Then we'll look up what we need to show them off. If we have to get special show cases for them we can find them this coming week." She hugged them all and went back upstairs to tell them that good news.
Ryan grinned. "She'll never sleep in her room without her favorites up there," he reminded him quietly.
"I'll let her pick which ones go into the living room," Dan promised. "I know what OCD can do to your sleep if something's not right." He stole another kiss.
"Hey, I'm the one in heat," Kate complained, taking Ryan off to the study. "I spanked our little genius in the making earlier for you."
"Yup. She admitted it to me." She slid into his lap, straddling it. "Please, Ryan?" she whispered. He smiled and let her do whatever she wanted to him. She liked it a bit harder than he did so her being on top suited them both. She could ride him as hard as she wanted to and he could enjoy it. She undid his pants and slid them down then out of her own, climbing on.
"You are so beautiful," he said in her ear, making her moan and shift her hips, finding the perfect spot. "Just thinking about you makes me hard. Eric was teasing me about having naughty thoughts at a crime scene because of you guys, but especially you with that pink leopard print nightie." She shivered, working herself harder. He leant her a finger and she squealed, clawing up his shoulders trying to get him deeper. He shifted some to get a better angle, thrusting up into her. "Let it go for me, wife. Just let it go. You know I'll catch you if you start to slip." She whimpered and let go, coming and going limp against his chest. He moaned as he got off, then relaxed to cuddle and hold her, kissing her temple while stroking her back. "Feeling a bit better?"
"Definitely." She nuzzled his throat. The door opened and she looked back. "Don't worry, Horatio, we don't share." She kissed him and got off his lap, grabbing her pants to put back on. "I should probably clean up. Later?"
"Of course." He smirked back and pulled up his pants, zipping them back up but leaving the button open. "Sorry."
"I intruded, it was my fault."
Ryan grinned. "She pounced. It happens." He waved a hand. "Come in and sit. This is my room in the house." Jacob leaned in. "Problems?"
"I don't have a boyfriend yet, Dad."
"Then don't worry about bringing one to the cookout next weekend." He grinned and went away, leaving him to close the door again. "Sorry, the kids will come in to cuddle if I don't close the door." He sat down and put his feet back up. "So, you like dolls?"
"She needed the help to calm down. The same as you did the day you went off the deep end about your kit." Ryan gave him a sheepish grin. "She's a good girl, Mr. Wolfe."
"Ryan then," he agreed, smiling a bit. "You have a beautiful family."
"Thank you. I tried really hard to make sure they're well taken care of. When the wives let me. In the early days I used to have to pout to change diapers."
"They don't seem to see you as a toy," he offered.
"No, we worked that out long ago. They wanted to protect me and wanted to be my special harem. A place of sanctuary and relief from the stress of being a cop. Which they are but I should live here now that nearly everyone knows."
Horatio nodded. "You could do that."
"Would that cause a problem?"
"With Stetler, perhaps," he admitted. "He'll be searching for any reason he can get hold of."
"I know. I'm going to try my best, Horatio. I didn't want to let this get out that way." He nodded. "Then again, they should have called me anyway when there was a body."
"Frank asked one why you weren't. She said that the officers who responded said that they wouldn't let anyone who was connected or friendly with you work it. He made sure they knew not to call you."
"They know differently now. If I have to get pushy I will and someone will not be happy but oh well. They're friends and family."
"I understand. I've done the same thing." Ryan relaxed and nodded. "You told your children Eric's a playboy?"
"I complained a few times about how he dated. She picked up that word at school."
"Ray Junior, my nephew, picked up nearly every swear word within a week. I think he tasted dishwashing detergent for the next ten because of it." Ryan smiled at that. "They seem to be very normal, well adjusted children. You've done a good job."
"Honestly I can't take most of the credit. It's nice to hear though." That got a smile and a nod. Someone tapped. "Yup." Drew leaned in. "Back again?" he teased.
"Finally! One of the boys got huffy when I said I could only go on group dates and was not allowed to go to unchaperoned parties. Called me a baby until I reminded him my daddy is a cop and he would hunt me down and arrest everyone there. It's better if I don't get half the upper years busted for drinking tonight at the park on eighth in the little brick house down from the east gate."
Ryan nodded. "I'll let someone know." She beamed and came in to give him a hug. "You remember seeing Horatio around, right?" He pointed. "He's here for dinner and we're doing a family cookout to introduce you to some of my other coworkers next weekend. So any boy or girlfriends that you're serious about I will be meeting then."
"I could've been about this one asshole but his mouth ruined that." He spanked her. "Yes, Dad, I won't swear." She smiled at Horatio. "It's nice to meet you in person, Lieutenant."
"Horatio," he ordered, shaking her hand. "I can proudly say your letter let me implement two of the ideas we both had." She beamed. "We're looking at a few others for the cruisers as well." She squealed and hugged him around the throat then bounced out. "She's very happy."
"She's like that. She's all squeal and bounce. You should've seen her when she was a toddler chasing after a beach ball. She went through things that obstructed her. Including Jacob a few times. I learned after the first time she ran me over. She's very focused, goal oriented, and stubborn. It makes her dangerous when she wants to be spoiled."
"She's not that spoiled."
"We made sure the kids only get presents every two months. That way we can't go overboard and it won't be Christmas every day. Last time Presley got that Japanese doll behind her bed and a fingerprinting kit for kids. She slept with them both for days." Horatio chuckled. He shifted some. "I've got some great kids but it's because I have great wives." Dan peeked around the door. "Yes, you as well. They'd starve without you."
"You would too," he teased. He came in to get his kiss and cuddle time in. Horatio left them alone and he grinned. "He's very adorable but he needs a hug."
"Dessie and Rebecca can ask him. I doubt he'd want to change our work relationship with that offer." He gave his male wife a cuddle, making him snuggle in and then move to get his own pleasure. Sometimes Dan was the best wife to have, he always knew what he needed to get off quickly, but good. By the time dinner was done they were done cuddling and he found Drew had shown Horatio her room and gone over a few other ideas she was bringing to her eco group to see what he thought of them. "If I can't work on cases at the table, neither can you," he said fondly.
"Yes, Daddy." She put it under her butt and put the pen in her hair. "Better?"
"This time," Dessie said, staring at her. "Do you want to talk about this boy?"
"Nope. I want him busted for underage drinking tonight."
"I've already told the precinct that way that there was going to be a loud, teenage drinking party in that neighborhood and one officer's daughter had turned them in, but not to tell the others since they had insulted her." Horatio smiled at her. "Good enough?"
"More than," she said, hugging him around the arm. "You're pretty neat." She said her own grace and dug in. "Daddy, the Prophetess would like a phone call tonight about her daddy and mothers."
"I can do that before dessert," he promised with a smile for her. "How's the garden plans coming?"
"Good. We finally decided where. Now we're going to open each family up three rows for whatever they want to plant." She hugged her baby brother. "What's wrong?"
"I'm just thinking," he assured her with a smile.
Ryan looked at him. "The bike race this weekend?" He nodded. "Did you want to enter?"
"Can you have that afternoon off?"
"I have that day off. I switched for it because I knew you'd be there." Jacob beamed and dug in again. "You'll do as well as you can and I'll be proud," he reminded him. "Only worry about doing your best."
"Yes, daddy." He got seconds and offered the bowl of veggies to Horatio. "Want more?"
"Thank you." He took it and added some more to his plate, handing it to Dessie when she held a hand out. "Yelina would love this recipe."
Dan grinned. "Some day I'm going to publish a cookbook for normal mothers with no time." He ate a bite with a fork flourish because Ryan was shaking his head but smiling. "I will."
"I'm sure you will," he teased. "Then one for the trannie who is so spoiled she turned down having a housekeeper."
He swatted at him. "I'm not that spoiled but if you want to make me that spoiled you can," he teased back.
"We were talking earlier and we think it might be safe for him to move back," Horatio offered. "Then he can take some of the cooking duties from you."
"Then I'd never get the outside of the bed," Rebecca complained playfully, taking a kiss and a pinch to the side. "I don't when you're here."
"I do that because Jacob used to sneak in to pounce me and wake all you guys up if I was in the middle like a proper harem lord," he teased back. The wives all laughed. "But that point is open for discussion."
"It'd save us some money," Dessie offered.
"I'm not used to living with him anymore," Kate pouted. "Plus he'd take the new one all the time."
"We could put an apartment over the garage," Jacob offered. "That way he'd be closer."
"It'd be a good intermediary step and give him somewhere to clean," Dan agreed. "Good thought, son." That got a beaming smile and he ate some more. "It'd give the girls somewhere to decorate too."
"Also it'd give Barry somewhere to start working since he wants to open his own construction company," Rebecca offered. "Ryan?"
"That'd work for me," he agreed. "I'd be close but still separate until we could get used to me living with you guys again." He looked at his girls. "It'd also put me closer when people needed opinions." He got up to call the Prophetess while he thought about it. He came back a few minutes later. "Well, there's news. Someone in that group called a CPS worker they knew in another hardcore church to have her family busted for having two women in it." He sat down. "I suggested she get a lawyer now because it was probably going to get messy. Sorry about that, Horatio."
"It's not a problem, Ryan. I know a few good ones if she needs their names."
"We've got three lawyers in the compound," Rebecca assured him. "Including our compound judge." He smiled at that. "He used to be a prosecutor so he's pretty good at it." She got seconds, offering them to Kate, who was quiet. "It'll be fine."
"I know. I'm tired." She got a hug and smiled at Horatio. "Excuse me but I think I need a nap. Ryan always makes me want to nap."
Ryan took a kiss. "I'll defend some of the dessert for you."
She winked. "I stashed some for later." He let her go upstairs to their bed to catch a nap.
Ryan smiled at the others. "Looks like it took," he said proudly, making the others laugh. "How long has she been tired for?"
"She's had what looked like a mild case of the flu for the last few days," Dessie told him. "It's still too soon for her to get morning sickness, Ryan."
He grinned. "When did she decide she wanted to have Jacob?"
"When she was already two months pregnant," she said, realizing that. She smirked back. "You knew?"
"You all taste very different and you kiss me differently when you're pregnant." He kissed her. "Speaking of." She blushed and went to do the check. He looked at Rebecca. "You were feeling nasty?"
"Mine's PMS," she assured him. "Remember, I'm fixed, dear. My two girls are more than enough for me." He snickered but kissed her. "How about you, Dan?"
"I had all that taken out too," he reminded her. "There'd better be no kids from my loins." The kids all laughed and went running for dessert once they were done. "Share!" he called. They brought it out so he could let Horatio and the other adults have some then they inhaled the rest before going to evening chores or homework. He grinned at Ryan. "It would be nice to have you closer. One bedroom?"
He stroked his arm. "You know, we could move out there for our bedroom."
"I'd want us closer to the kids," Rebecca told him. That got a nod. "When they're all older, and the new ones are at least Jacob's age, we'll move our suite out there." They nodded at that. "Jacob, want to share your room?"
"I wouldn't care. Not like I'm bringing home boyfriends for a few more years, Mom."
"Good. Then we'll work on that or we can renovate the storage area again." Ryan shrugged. "Which means you'd have all that with you."
"Half of it's his anyway," Kate called from the top of the stairs. "What's wrong with Dessie?"
"She's pregnant too," Ryan called.
"Wow. Well, at least I won't be alone." She went to hold her while she watched the strip turn pink, kissing her on the neck. "We'll be so spoiled," she whispered, getting a giggle and her co-wife turning in her arms to hug her back, then steal a kiss. "Would you be okay with Ryan living out back?"
"He'd fuss us all to death," she complained. "But I do like his offering for a new male wife." They giggled at that and went back to bed to celebrate and then nap together.
Ryan came down to breakfast, smiling at the adults hovering around the toaster. "Kids?"
"Done and gone," Kate said proudly. She pulled him in for a cuddle. "We agree, we like your choice for a new spouse."
He pulled back to look at her. "He's my boss, not one I'm dating."
They all gave him odd looks. "Uh-huh," Dan said finally. "Didn't you ladies have this talk when I came in?"
Rebecca considered it then nodded. "Pretty much." They all nodded and looked at their husband, who was looking a bit scared. "He's really only a coworker?"
"Yeah," he said slowly, backing away. "I'll let him know you guys want him though." He turned and fled before they got scary again, weathering the laughing going on. He could pull through somewhere for breakfast and coffee. He found Horatio and Yelina outside, getting out to walk up to them. "Hey, Horatio. The wives wanted to know if you wanted to move in," he joked.
Horatio looked at him over the top of his sunglasses. "Excuse me?"
"They thought I was doing more than bringing home a friend from work. So if you get calls, just relax. I've already assured them you're my boss, not a spouse." He walked around him, heading inside.
Horatio gave his back a confused look then looked at Yelina. She burst out giggling and walked off. Horatio walked inside shaking his head, running into Alexx planning the cookout with Ryan's phone. "May I?" He took the phone. "Dan?" He smiled at the joined voice. "Or all of you. Ryan is still my employee. It's not a good relationship for his career. Really." He listened to their ideas and had to mentally groan. They had ways to get around Stetler and the bosses. "We'll talk about it later," he assured them, handing back the phone and going to his office. He found a cup of coffee and aspirin waiting on him, making him smile. Apparently Ryan had already taken that cure and was sharing. He sat down to take them, considering the very generous offer. It was a beautiful family. They were happy and content. They had children and he had always wanted a large family. It didn't get much larger than nine kids in today's world. They didn't seem to have any religious founding to the group's ways, which would mean he wouldn't have to be sucked into anything like a cult. He'd have to do a lot of thinking before he came up with a good argument against this he realized. He'd also have to do some asking around to others who would know. Frank leaned in. "Morning."
"Morning. So, you had dinner with the Wolfe clan?"
Horatio smiled and nodded. "I did. They're a very energetic and happy family."
"He's got how many wives?"
"Three and one male wife," he admitted with a small smile. "Plus seven children."
"Wow. So, anything strange?"
"No. His youngest, the one who was here for lunch, has an enormous doll collection. The one who wrote me the letter is one of his children as well and we talked about her ideas. It was a nice family dinner."
"Nothing too strange?"
"No. He said that it's not based on a religious principle. Three of the children said their own grace. One said one to Vishnu."
Frank just nodded. "Huh. Not what I expected then." He shrugged. "Alexx said we're going to meet his family?"
"They're planning a cookout next weekend. It'll also give the older girls time to slip in boyfriends."
"Think he's one of those bad fathers who threatens the kids?"
"Yup," Ryan said from behind him, smirking a bit when Frank jumped. "I threatened the last one until he stained the carpet and then made him clean it up." He handed over a memo. "In my inbox this morning, Horatio. On my desk." He walked off again. "Morning, Maxine."
"Morning, Ryan." She smiled at him. "Your daughter is so cute."
He nodded. "She is. She's brilliant too," he said proudly, going to gather reports from his last case's samples. His phone went off and he answered it. "Wolfe." He listened then nodded slowly. "Uh-huh. No, by law they can't do that without a reason, Emily. Where is he? I'll call him. You tell them they can't do that. Your father's will left you to them and there's no reason. Point out that they sleep in different rooms. That's probably her problem." He nodded, listening while he dialed a desk phone. "It's Ryan. The asshole worker came back." He hung up and listened to her smart off. "Emily." She calmed herself and apologized for mouthing off. "Thank you. He's on his way. Sounded like he was at home since Benjamin was screaming for oatmeal again." He smiled. "That's fine, dear. Of course you can. You can even borrow my apartment for all I care. I know you're not going to throw wild parties." He listened as she handed the phone to the social worker. "What, exactly, is your problem with who her father deeded her to in his will?" He listened. "They're not together that way, ma'am. Officer Ryan Wolfe, crime lab," he said firmly.
"I do know her. I knew her father when he was her age." He smirked a bit. "They're not together, ma'am. They sleep in separate bedrooms. It's the same as giving her to a set of maiden aunts. Really? And who would she go to live with? There's no other biological relatives. No, her mother died shortly after she was driven off for trying to turn the group into a Waco-style cult. They didn't like that, it doesn't fit in with our views on tolerance." He tapped his fingers a few times. "Yes, that's her attorney. I know that he's a former prosecutor and now a defense attorney." He smirked a bit at her sneering. "You do know we can have you removed from this case?" He waved Horatio down and made a note, getting a nod and him going to have that done for him. "Emily is a very normal little girl with a bit of power as an *advisor*, ma'am. She doesn't *rule* anything. We're like a hippie commune. We have a council for major decisions. What Emily's doing right now is working with a group of teenagers who is becoming ecologically conscious and planning a community garden. She's always encouraged the community to work together. Most of our community projects came from her." He nodded slowly when someone else came in.
"Please put her back on. Calm down, stay calm. Who's the new person?" He smiled. "Good. Hopefully she's removing her from the case. The only thing they can say is that your mothers are together. Which they aren't as far as I know." She complained that her mothers didn't even cuddle together, so how could they be together. It got silent on that side. "Calm down, stay calm. It'll be fine, Emily. If something happens, you're part of my family. You know that." He smiled. "Good girl. Now, talk with this new one. Ask to have the other one reassigned since she is clearly biased against you for your beliefs and was called in because of malicious people who hate us." She repeated that to the other social worker, who said she'd call her boss, but that she'd be the one conducting the interviews for now. "Let me talk to her." The phone was handed over. "I'm Officer Wolfe, ma'am. Yes, him. Actually, I knew her father when he was about Emily's age." He smiled.
"Good to know. No, we know who called it in. We also know it was done maliciously because we're shielding a young woman who ran away so she could go to school. Exactly. The same as members of their church have recently confessed to killing a young woman a few days back." He sat down, listening to the complaints. "No, Emily doesn't rule anything. We're not like that. For big things we have a ruling council. She's more an advisor. Her grandfather started it and her father formed the commune. No, there's no church on property. We're multi-religious." He held his head. "We believe that's up to the person to dictate to themselves, ma'am. It's not our business unless you're about to harm someone against their will. Exactly. She's very much an advisor. Especially to her own generation. Well, if we have to get technical, look at the picture in the medium brown wooden frame on the wall then at her. I'm in that one. I was in the room when she was conceived. No, she's her father's daughter, but she's always been like my niece. If she's to be removed, she's more than welcome to stay with either myself, since I do live apart from my family by their wishes, or with my family. I do have daughters around her own age and they'd consider it a sleepover. Ma'am, I'm still an officer," he said dryly.
"We're not like that either. You have a lot of misconceptions. No, the lawyer on the couch with the young woman in question is our compound's judicial person. The last person we had who wanted to hurt children nearly got flayed by *his* hand. We don't allow that. We're very much a group that believes you can do anything you want to yourself, as long as it doesn't hurt someone else. Exactly. No, her mothers aren't together that way. I'm quite sure they're not together that way. One was about to ask for a separation from her family before the Feds came for her father for having more than one wife." He smirked a bit. "Yup. Then his will and his wishes before he went to jail both left her to her remaining mothers. He was very aware that her natal mother had been driven out for trying to turn us into the sort of cult you're thinking of and wanted her to remain with her other mothers. Hence the wording of his will." He nodded. "You may speak with her. As long as her attorney or mother is present. I also know the law," he assured her.
"Very well." He snickered. "That's nice, ma'am, but we're more like a hippie commune than a cult. There's no church relationship within the group. There's not one in the compound, there's various and multiple religious preferences. The closest we get is a holiday celebration around Christmas for all the kids. No, we have a multi-ethnic one. Those who celebrate Yule do their thing and teach the children who are curious and ask what they're doing. The ones who celebrate Kwanza do the same thing. The ones who do the traditional Christmas things do theirs and usually win and those who celebrate a Christian Christmas teach the children who ask what they're doing. We don't allow religion or other petty matters to get the in way of our family. No, I have a daughter who's Hindu, one who's Christian, one who's searching, and one who likes the pagan traditions. Plus a wife who's pagan. I let my children decide for themselves, as do we all. Take all that you knew about cults and toss us out. That's a name we don't accept. A cult is a religious institution and we are not. We were branded one by some hypocritical religious zealots a few years back who then had to beg and plead their God when they started to go to jail for things like embezzling from a children's shelter fund."
"Go out there, Mr. Wolfe," Horatio said in his ear, getting a nod. Ryan got up and walked out. Horatio went back to his talk with the lead social worker for the county, explaining what was going on. "One of my officers was one of them and I've let him head out there to handle it since he's known the girl's family since before he graduated school. There's now two apparently." He smiled. "Exactly. Thank you. No, he told them both that they're not together. Thank you." He hung up and sent Ryan a text message for when he finally got off the phone. It would be fine. He knew it'd be fine. Even if it was frustrating it'd be fine.
Ryan walked into the office later that afternoon. "Thank you."
"Was it resolved?"
"Mostly. They're going to investigate the community. They were concerned that she was taking community funds for her education but they were shown that she has a personal trust for that and it's being used. They were shown around the community, they still couldn't find a church because there's not one. There's a small memorial meditation garden for those who died in the few assaults we've had on the compound. She showed them what she was doing in the community and let the council talk to both of them. Interestingly enough, the hardliner congratulated her mothers for raising her to be a sensible girl. They could prove the mothers aren't together. So the only thing they could *possibly* get her on is that one used to be a man." He relaxed. "But we think it'll be fine and the head social worker got there about an hour after I did to take it over personally since this was going to become a political nightmare. They went over all the interviews, all the former points, all that, and hopefully it'll be resolved within days. If not, she's coming to live with my family. They've already approved of that because Rebecca had to take in a child who had a sick mother at one point."
"Calm down," Horatio said gently.
Ryan took a deep breath. "I'm trying but I'm fighting my urges to fight back, Horatio." He leaned on the wall next to the door. "The girl from that group was even called into it. She told them why she had run away and how they had taken her in without question and made sure she had a suitable life until she could graduate. The social worker was highly impressed with that and some of the others who said they had run away because they were misunderstood or hated at home. So we're hoping it'll be okay."
"If there weren't walls they probably wouldn't care," Horatio offered.
"If there weren't walls, we'd be attacked more often. We tried that at first. That's why we have a memorial garden." He looked behind him at a footstep on the stairs. "Ma'am. Horatio, the social worker in charge." He got out of her way and went back to leaning against the wall. "How is Emily?"
"Just fine. She's having ice cream for dinner," she admitted, putting her briefcase down and looking at Horatio. "You've met her?"
"Detective Tripp has due to the recent homicide out there," he admitted. "I only know Officer Wolfe's family." She smiled at that. "Detective Tripp was very impressed with the young woman."
"She's an impressive young woman," she agreed, looking at Ryan. "Is she yours?"
"She's her father's, even if I was in the room when she was conceived by her mother's orders." She looked confused. "Her mother wanted to bear him a true heir. She had some really funny notions and she had problems getting and staying pregnant. She had miscarried a few times. She decided his seed was too strong for her body so he had to filter it through someone else. Then she convinced him of that fact." She shuddered. "Basically. There's a few of us that did it because her dad was miserable and wanted to soothe and baby his wife's wishes. We also ran that woman out of the compound for being a pain in the ass and trying to turn our communal living space into a cult."
"I've heard that. Are you biologically related?"
"It's possible. Though we see it as your father is the male figure who raised you." She nodded at that. "If I have to step up and expose that little truth to help her I will. As I said, she can come live with my girls."
"You don't have children listened in the county's database."
"That's because we've got as many bigots in our ranks as you do yours," he said dryly, making her snort at that. "You can't tell me that first one wasn't."
"No, I can't," she admitted. "She's now pushing for the girl." She looked at Horatio. "Are there other officers?"
"I'm sure there are. I have no idea who they are. As Mr. Wolfe said, there's some bigoted officers in the department. Gay officers often have the same issues," he said gently.
She sighed and nodded. "I know how that goes. All right, Mr. Wolfe. I'm going to be leaving her there pending checks and things." He nodded at that. "Your family is certified in case something happens?"
"My wife Rebecca had the family certified a few years back because one of the other mothers had cancer and a six-year-old. We took care of her for nearly ten months while her mother was in intense treatments."
"Excellent. I can revive that."
"There's six other foster families there," he said gently.
"Yes, but you don't live there and that's one of the complaints," she said bluntly. He nodded at that. "Thank you. I would like to meet with your wife."
He smirked a bit. "My male wife sold you your house," he said bluntly.
She blushed at that. "I'll call him tomorrow to talk about taking her in if it becomes necessary to protect her. By the way, it wasn't just that church. They called the social worker directly but two officers did turn in that there were children living out there."
"It's not like we're bad people. We just want to be left alone," he protested.
"I know that, now. That is also going into the compound's notes. You will still take her in?"
"Of course." She nodded and left, heading back to work. Ryan looked at Horatio, shrugging a bit. "I don't know, boss."
"I know, Ryan. Stay calm so you don't make rash decisions. It will be fine and work itself out. You're good citizens of Miami and they can't really say anything about you being tolerant of others and nice. Or else they'd have to get half of South Beach." That got a nod and he left. "Go home."
"Not yet. I've got a few reports to finish up. They'll want to rant alone first." That got a nod and Ryan went to his desk so he could be found. He found a few notes and looked at one that threatened him if he stopped them from removing that girl. He walked it up to Horatio, showing it to him. "I've had enough."
"I agree." He called someone, bringing the head of Internal Affairs. He held up the note. "This is the last threat and if there is another one I will be doing your job for you. Am I clear?" he demanded quietly.
"Why would he stop a girl from being removed from her home?"
"The Prophetess got CPS called on her," Ryan said from his seat. "They complaining because she has two women raising her." That got a slow nod. "I've had more than one threat from narrow minded bigots who don't like me believing that they have a right to their own beliefs until it interferes with my life." He stared him down. "The next one I'm going to handle it with prejudice and then let Horatio have him. It was bad enough I had to hit one of my former partners when he jumped me."
"I agree," he said calmly. "You're one of them?"
"Was. I moved off the compound back in college."
That got a nod. "I've heard. Your family?"
"I may end up staying away from them more often to protect them, as I have for the last few years. Ever since I joined the department." That got a wince. He leaned forward. "Should one of them come after my family they will be hurt. I've taught every single one of my children and wives how to shoot an intruder and then call for help. They have in the past and they will again if they try something. I had to run off someone late last night who was on the lawn with a can of spray paint. I also turned him in to the tip line." That got a grimace but a nod. "The department needs to grow up. They're acting like pouting teenage girls." Ryan stood up. "If I have to protect my family I don't care who's in the way. Am I clear?" He got a nod. "Good. Then please stop them before one of them gets the bright idea and makes me stop them."
"I'll try but if you would disavow them...."
"I'm not going to disavow my family or the group for being tolerant people. It's not like we have a joint religious theme. We're not a cult."
"There's a lot of public misconception," Horatio told him. "They're not a cult."
"We're more like the old hippie communes," Ryan agreed.
That got a slow nod. "I've heard that said. Then there was that homicide."
"Which I helped solve," Ryan assured him. "Because the officers went in and called people crazy assholes and things." That got a wince. "Fortunately we don't care what others think. Otherwise we'd be suing the department too. That homicide was done by members of a hardcore, so far right the Christian Right looks like us, church." That got a nod. "They're the ones who also called social services. Some of the responding officers did as well without reason."
"I'll be looking into these allegations, Officer Wolfe. They're very serious, especially if they misused the power of their office to report them falsely." That got a nod from him and Horatio. "For now, can you stay calm?"
"Until something else happens," Ryan told him. "Then I'll present them to Horatio instead of calling the tipline and their commanders."
"Agreed. Go only as far as you have to so your family is protected." That got a nod and Ryan stomped out. He looked at Horatio. "He got a temper?" Horatio nodded. "This is going to get messy. It'll get worse before it's stopped too."
"Are you going to assign some extra guards on his house?"
"I can't be sure they're not the sort of people to do these things," he admitted. "You?"
"I know a few I can trust." That got a nod and he left him alone. Horatio went to get a list of names so he could set some extra help in case something did happen.
Horatio was stopped on his way out the door two days later by Frank and Yelina. "Problems?"
"Your house was broken into," Frank told him. Horatio glared. "They were arrested. They're in a special holding cell."
"Which means they're officers?"
Yelina nodded. "They think you're like Ryan," she said quietly.
Horatio took a calming breath. "How bad?"
"Your front door's off the hinges," Yelina told him. "When they heard it was your residence they called me," she said gently, stepping closer. He gave her a hug. "Your couch was overturned. Your spare gun that you keep in the living room is missing but not the one in the bedroom. They were caught ransacking the kitchen and drinking your beer."
He snorted. "They're being charged?"
"They are and IA is already down there," Frank assured him. "I went with her. It's not too bad, Horatio. You need another six-pack and we already straightened the couch and the curtains on your porch door." That got a slower nod. "They took them down. Officers responded to your alarm and found one about to piss on them but he only had it out, not going yet. The third guy was the one who overturned your couch and found your spare gun. It's in evidence. It was found during pat down." Horatio nodded at that. "You might want to stay somewhere else tonight. Want my guest room?"
"I'll be fine, Frank, thank you. You as well, Yelina. I'll handle it." That got a nod and they let him go to the hummer so he could go home. He found a familiar person in there when he walked in. "Dan?"
"Working on the door, Horatio." He smiled. "You can't be safe without a door. Let me finish adding this second lock. Keys are beside the phone. I changed all your locks."
"How did you hear?"
"I was showing the Persimmon house up the street," he admitted. "I saw them all pull up and the neighbor they were talking to said that an officer lived here, named you by first name. I didn't think you'd mind."
"No, I don't. Thank you." He came over to help him with it, then helped by holding the door while he got it back into place with the new hinges and longer screws. He tested all the locks and smiled. It was much more sturdy now. He smiled. "Want dinner?"
"Nah, it's all right. I've got to keep Drew from going on one of her father's mood swings and rampages." That got a smile. "She is definitely his daughter. Want to come for dinner?"
"No, not tonight. Tomorrow?"
"Sure. Come over whenever. Call tonight if you need to talk or vent. Ryan is already in the garage on his heavy bag." He patted him and gave him another hug before leaving.
Horatio went to make a list of the damage, finding most everything was back in place. He heard a knock and went to answer the door, finding a delivery driver there. "I didn't order...."
"It was ordered for you, Lieutenant. Rebecca said you needed a good dinner after a bad day." He handed over the boxes and the six-pack of good, imported beer. "There you go. Have a better night, sir." He left, going back to his next delivery.
Horatio kicked the door gently shut then went to look at the food. He smiled. One held cake with whipped cream and chocolate sauce on the side. One held a fairly good looking, thick stew. He put the beer and cake into the fridge then sat down at his table to eat his dinner. Ryan's family did take very good care of him. Someone else knocked so he went to answer it, letting Yelina in. "Ryan's wife Dan was fixing the door when I got here."
"He asked if he could for you." She gave him a hug. "Dinner? Ray Junior would love to see you."
"Actually, Ryan's wife Rebecca ordered me dinner and cake, plus new beer," he admitted with a smile. "After dinner?"
"Of course." She pinched him on the cheek. "Did we miss anything?"
"They were in the office going through my desk but there wasn't anything in there." She nodded at that, leaving him alone to eat. He smiled and finished up, having his cake too. Then he went to see his nephew. He found him talking about a girl he had recently met in school, she hung out with another crowd, and she was pretty, smart, and adorable. Shy and quiet. When he said Elizabeth Horatio coughed. "Is her last name Wolfe?"
"Wolfe-Jones," he admitted. "How did you know, Uncle Horatio?"
He smiled. "I know her father and he is having a cookout Saturday with some of the people from the lab and the rest of his daughters' boyfriends if you wanted to come with me and your mother." Yelina gave him an odd look. "Ryan said we could meet his family."
"I wouldn't mind. I have no idea how three wives and a husband get along."
"They all spoil Ryan horrible," he assured her happily. He looked at his nephew, who was looking confused. "You know that compound?"
"The hippies who believe it's all good as long as you're only doing it to yourself?" His uncle nodded. "She's one of them?"
"Her parents are. They've left it up to her."
"Wow. Small world. Sure, I'd like to go. She seems pretty neat."
Horatio smiled. "She's a very nice girl," he agreed. "Quite bright as well." He poked him in the side. "Also a bit older than you, nephew."
"An older woman is fine, Uncle Horatio. All the magazines Mom gets say so." His mother moaned and held her head. His nephew winked and used it as an excuse to go play video games.
Horatio smiled at her. "They're very nice. Though they did want to adopt me after the first time Ryan invited me over."
She gave him a look. "At least you'd never sleep alone, Horatio."
"True. Did you want to come?"
"I would. It'll be good for Ryan." He smiled at that. "They won't mind?"
"Alexx and his male wife planned the cookout."
"Then there'll be enough food for everyone and half the city," she agreed. "Want some ice cream?"
"If you feel like it." She nodded, going to get them both some. She needed some. Her son had his first girlfriend and it was a good night for a bowl of ice cream.
Saturday afternoon Ryan looked at the boy walking in with Horatio. "You must be his nephew." He shook his hand. "Do I have to threaten you for liking my daughter?"
"It's Ryan, Ray. We're not that formal around here." He grinned. "Since I'm sure your uncle will be mean for me I'll only threaten the other boys who show up." He laughed. "Liz is inside, she'll be right out." He nodded so he pointed. "That's Jacob and with him is Presley since he somehow adopted a dog again." Ray went to introduce himself to the other kids. Ryan smiled at Horatio. "His mother?"
"On her way. She stopped to pick up some cookies for Alexx." He smiled and hugged the woman who came to pounce him. "Kate."
"Horatio. Welcome back." She looked at the boy then at him. "Yours?"
"My nephew apparently just met your daughter Elizabeth at school and has a crush."
"Then she's got good taste. I won't let Ryan threaten him." She led him off to introduce him to some of the others who had shown up. There seemed to be another four boys here for her daughters and Ryan needed help threatening people. Dan just couldn't.
Ryan watched the chaos, shaking his head as he went to let someone in. "Hey, Eric. Backyard." He nodded, going the way he pointed. "Don't touch the dolls. Presley's a bit OCD about them."
"I won't." He found the party and smiled at them.
"Hi, Uncle Playboy Eric," Presley called with a smile and a wave. A few of the others cracked up at that.
Ryan came out and walked his daughter off to have a talk with her and spank her for that. He carried her back out. "Presley."
"I'm sorry I called you that in front of others," she said, looking pitiful. "I won't do it again."
"Thank you, Presley. Try Eric, okay?" She beamed and gave him a hug then went to play with the dog again. He looked at him. "Did you call me that?"
"No, I complained that your dating life had gotten my car window broken," he admitted dryly. "Twice. She picked up that phrase from school."
"Yeah, my nieces and nephew have too," he admitted. "You got Horatio?"
"And his nephew, who apparently likes one of my girls." He led him over. Then he heard the doorbell. "Dessie?"
"Go." She took Eric's arm and led him over. "This is Presley, Jacob, our son; Hannah and Drew, our thirteen-year-olds, are by the grill with Dan. He's the male wife. Elizabeth is talking with Horatio and his nephew. Amanda is with the greasy little turd, and Tabitha is with her nice little geeky boy with anger issues." She smiled at him. "I'm Dessie, Rebecca is the one Ryan said you'd try to steal from us, and that's Kate with her," she said with a point. "You should know most everyone else." She winked and went to greet Yelina. "It's good one of our daughters has good taste."
"My mother despaired me finding a good boy to date too," she assured her. She pointed at the two boys and got a snort. "Never mind. They'll grow into better taste. I did and you obviously did since Ryan seems to be very sweet."
"Most of the time, but he did catch Tabitha's boyfriend sneaking in. I never saw him as scary in Miss Piggy boxers and nothing else." Yelina snickered at that. "Presley gave him the whole Muppet set one year for Father's day."
"My son used to get my former husband ugly ties and ashtrays even though he never smoked." That got a shared smile and they went to include her and introduce her around. Alexx got there last and had to have help carrying things, which the boys did like the good men they were. Everyone settled in to talk and get to know one another. The kids all hovered in their own group, except Drew, who kept Horatio to talk to. By the time everyone went home, Horatio was asleep on the couch with Presley using him as her personal pillow and his arm as her teddy bear. The new boyfriends were all thoroughly scared and the other girls had disliked them except for Ray Junior. They were having mixed feelings about him. Yelina managed to take a picture of a sleeping Horatio before he almost woke up. Then he glanced at the girl and smiled, not hearing her take another picture. He got free and carried her up to her room to put her to bed. Yelina looked at Dessie. "You make him happy. Keep him that way or I will do very mean things to Ryan," she said quietly, getting a nod. "Good." She smiled and took her son home, letting him babble about his new girlfriend all he wanted. The girls had good sense and were very nice. Especially that one Emily girl that had come over for a while earlier.
Horatio came back down the stairs. "I should head home."
"You're too tired to drive, Horatio," Rebecca said, walking him to their only spare room and putting him onto the bed with a small shove. "Sleep. You can go home in the morning." She smiled and walked out, closing the door behind her.
He smiled at that kindness and kicked off his shoes so he could strip down to his boxers and go to sleep. Even if the noise from the main suite was very pretty. Rebecca was apparently very loud when someone played with her. The others weren't trying to hide what they were doing either. He heard Ryan giggling at something and then a thump.
"Hey! No kicking me out of the bed!" Ryan complained.
"Go sleep with Horatio," Rebecca teased.
"I doubt he'd like that," Ryan said, and then the sound of the bed springs complaining so apparently he had pounced. "Ha! Got you back." She squealed a high pitched noise and the others giggled.
Horatio decided Ryan had a lot more stamina than he did to play like that after the cookout. Unless he had snuck off for a nap too? He got comfortable, letting himself fall asleep to the teasing noises in the main bedroom.
Horatio was met by Yelina the next morning. "Yes?" he asked, smiling at her.
"You look very good with his family," she said, kissing him on the cheek. "Ray and I talked, neither of us will feel weird if you decide to go for it. You could use that same sort of spoiled." She walked off, leaving her brother-in-law gaping. It almost made her giggle.
"It's not like that," he called after her.
"Then you're going blind," she called before walking inside the building.
Horatio shook his head, walking inside and going up to his office. He found a small note on his desk. //H, you look good with his family. Calleigh and I have no problem with it either. Eric.// He called Ryan at home. "Do you know what I walked into this morning?" Ryan told him what the wives had suggested after he had left. "Exactly." He smiled at the assurance Ryan wasn't going to change their work relationship and he wasn't trying to court him, but that he was on his own with the scary wives if they courted him. Because he couldn't stop them if they were determined. Otherwise he'd only have *three* daughters. Horatio laughed at that. "That's fine, Ryan. As long as I can have your support ducking them." He smiled at the he'd help where he could and remind them that they had to talk him into it and around the obstacles. "I'll see you in the morning." He hung up and went to find Eric and Calleigh conspiring. "It's not like that."
Calleigh looked at him then hit him on the arm. "Dumb. Very, very dumb, Horatio Caine! It's clear they're very happy with you and you should be just as happy. You do deserve it no matter what you think. Don't make me knock you out and deliver you to them."
She huffed and kicked him then knocked him out with a neck pinch and a bit of help from Eric catching him. "Good!" They walked him out to her car and took him to Ryan's family's house, letting her go ahead to knock on the door. "We think you misplaced something that should've called off today," she said when Dessie opened the door. Eric handed her Horatio's limp body and she beamed. "There you go, one pouting puppy back home where he belongs. None of us mind and I know Yelina doesn't because I asked. So you're good with all of us." She walked off, taking Eric with her.
Eric shrugged. "She's scary, I just follow along, but it's all good to us as long as he's happy." He went back to the car and they drove back to work. After all, crime didn't stop just because Horatio had found someone who loved him.
Dessie looked at the man in her arms. "This was not how I imagined having you sleeping on me, dear. Ryan! Dan! Help!" They came to take Horatio and put him on the couch for her. "He was delivered home by Calleigh and Eric." She went into the kitchen to tell the others, who all giggled and Rebecca did call Horatio in late at the very least. Give the poor man time to finish his nap.
Horatio looked up from his paperwork a few days later, smiling at the man who was knocking on his door. "Yes, sir?"
"Horatio, I'm hearing rumors," the Chief of Detectives noted, walking inside. He shut the door so Horatio knew it was a bad rumor. "I'm hearing you're in a relationship with Wolfe?"
"No, I am not. Even though my sister-in-law, my nephew, two other of my CSI, and all his family want it, we are only boss and coworker."
He stared at him. "Is it likely to change?"
"Ryan and I are both very wary of these plans because of the way it could impact the lab," he said honestly. "We presently have a decent working relationship and we're not in the mood to change that."
"That's reasonable," he said, considering it. "When you do, because I've been watching the last few days, I want to know personally but I'm sure you can keep it out of public content." He walked out, letting his minion put his head down with a groan for that order. He ran into Ryan Wolfe and looked at him. "I will expect the same gentle, subtle relationship as you have with the others with him, Officer Wolfe. Am I clear?" he asked quietly.
Ryan looked at him. "Which one of them nagged you, sir?" he asked dryly. "Horatio's a friend."
The Chief of Detectives walked off laughing. "We'll see."
Ryan turned and kicked a wall, walking off muttering, vowing to call his wives during lunch so he could have some privacy. Whichever had gone to him had probably caused more problems. He ran into Horatio. "I'm going to yell at whichever one nagged him."
"He said he's heard rumors and watched us, Mr. Wolfe."
Ryan arched up an eyebrow. "I haven't seen myself treating you like the new wife," he teased. Horatio walked off shaking his head. "If I do, let me know." He went back to thinking up ways to yell at the wives without *yelling at* the wives. They'd band together and beat his ass if he yelled at them for doing something like that.
"I knew he'd support your new relationship," Calleigh said, giving him a pat on the arm before heading back to her lab when he ran into her in the hallway.
He stared at her back. "We're not like that."
"Then you're stupider than we thought at first."
He growled but Eric walked him off to calm him down before it became a vicious fight in the middle of the halls. They didn't need this with the mole in the lab.
A young woman walked up to the front desk of the lab. "Hello, is Lieutenant Caine in please?" she asked politely.
"Yes, ma'am. Let me call him for you."
She smiled. "Thank you." She sat down, waiting while she did that. He came out looking confused so she stood up, making him give her a confused look. "Emily."
"Oh. Of course." He walked her up to his office, closing them in. "What can I do for you, Prophetess? Is Ryan having problems?"
"No, but Ryan did confide in one of my mothers that he's having problems here with some very pushy people." He sighed and nodded. "I'm here simply to talk to you about it." She gave him a hug and led him to his couch to sit with him. "How do you feel about him? I know you don't know him very well yet. He admitted that he didn't share very much of himself with the lab because he knew he wouldn't be welcome at first."
"He told Eric he didn't have children once," he admitted.
She nodded. "He couldn't be sure he wouldn't be one of the stupidheads. I do love that word, picked it up off Presley."
He gave her a look. "Ryan spanked her for using it."
"I'm not his, he can't spank me," she said with a smirk. He laughed. "Now, how do you feel about *him*? Not his family but Ryan himself?"
"I don't know more than the man I've seen interacting with his family and at the picnic scaring a few boyfriends."
"I think you know more than you suspect. After all, you do read people very well, Horatio." He nodded once at that. "Though I will tell you Ryan does have a very strong sense of righteous anger now and then. When he does lose his temper, only Amanda stands up to him. She's the one who gets him calmed down or makes him go beat his heavy bag in the garage." She patted his hand again. "Most of the conflict in that family is because no one there *understands* what drives Ryan to do such a difficult job. You share that same desire with him. I think that's what his family is seeing." He nodded at that. "Now, I need to know how you feel about *him*."
"I'm starting to see that we could be friends," he admitted. "I know he's still got some bad habits."
"Putting it a bit mildly but I can't divulge that to you," she admitted. He looked at her. "Nothing critical that could get him in trouble here." She texted someone and got back a sigh. "He said I could tell you." She looked at him. "He gambles now and then to increase his paltry paycheck. Because I know that the city doesn't pay him enough."
"It doesn't to any of us," he agreed, thinking about that. "We all have sins," he assured her.
She stared at him. "I don't think you have sins as much as you do regrets and pains so deep that they've scarred your soul, Horatio." She stroked his cheek. "Remember what my mother does for a living and I won't butt in if you come to her. Now, if you do, there's a few things that will have to happen. Each family must go through a bit of relationship counseling to make sure that they're seeing the reality of the relationship, not the fairytale some people can create in their minds. There's also a cohabitation phase so you figure out if you can live in the insanity of that particular family. If you make it that far the counseling moves on to help you do any funky pre-wedding rituals you might have and help you plan things. On the night before you'll have someone you trust to work out any last minute doubts with. Then the next day you'll vow that you have no more doubts about joining with them and their family, and it will be with all the family. All the other wives as well as him." That got a nod. She smiled.
"You and Ryan would have to work out the whole 'head of household' thing I'm sure, since you're both very dominant people, but Ryan could use someone who takes him now and then. Dan used to be a girl and I'm told that means he doesn't quite work right so you'd be the first person to have him since the night I was conceived." He blushed at that. "I'm realistic about such things, Horatio. My mother was a bitch. She convinced my father and Ryan was his best friend since they were Tabitha's age." She patted his hand again, standing up. "If you'd like to talk about any confusion or those things, remember we're very open to listening. Even to you. Even about other pains." She stroked over his hair. "We would welcome you even if you had done bad things in the past. Even if you did them on purpose, as long as you had changed," she said gently. "Though I don't think you did them on purpose, you had to do them to save others." She smiled gently and kissed him on the forehead. "Talk to us when you're ready, Horatio. We're not leaving anytime soon." She left, going back home.
Horatio sat there, staring out his windows, thinking about it. He did call Ryan. "Did you ask her to come over?" His 'no, she did it on her own' was given quietly. "We should talk later," he decided. He hung up and went back to his thoughts. Someone had to make some decisions soon, before things got out of hand. Though he didn't know that Ryan gambled.
Horatio smiled as Ryan opened his door. "Come in," he ordered, going back to the kitchen. Ryan brought in the muffins he had been asked to pick up. "Thank you."
"Welcome." He gave him a sheepish grin. "I had no idea she was going to do that, Horatio. She overheard me complaining about everyone trying to force this on us."
"She had some good points," Horatio admitted. "Including that we needed to talk about a few things." Ryan nodded at that. "What was Erica to you?"
"Cover." That got a smile. "I thought about bringing her in but the wives were torn about whether or not she'd do any good in the family. She knew though. We got to the introduction phase. That's how she blackmails me so well." He glanced around.
"Don't sit on the counter," Horatio ordered, getting a sheepish grin. "I noticed you all have a corner in the kitchen that you do that with."
He nodded. "We trip over chairs in there." He pulled the stool in the corner over, sitting on it instead. "I still don't want to ruin our work relationship. I have enough problems with the others. If something went wrong between us I'd have to change fields completely to get out of their range. They'd make sure whatever new department would shun me too."
"They're not like that," he chastised.
Ryan snorted. "Maybe not to you, but they are to me, Horatio. Calleigh made sure I knew she could and would do that if I hurt you. She was quite serious." Horatio shook his head, going back to cooking. "We'll have to agree to disagree on that point then. Because I know she will and Eric promised to get the rest of the department too."
"They wouldn't go out of the lab," he assured him. Ryan snorted. "They wouldn't."
Ryan gave him a look. "When I first got there, even those who didn't know I'm OCD got told I was OCD by Eric and Calleigh." Horatio dropped the spoon he was using to stare at him. He nodded. "So if I ever need to transfer out of the lab, I've got to switch cities. They made sure the other officers didn't want to work with me."
"You're sure it was them?"
"I got told by my former commander that he had gotten told that I was OCD. He warned me that someone was trying to bring me down. He respected me once he realized I wasn't that strange and that OCD wasn't as bad as a psychiatric problem. Before then I got put in with the guys who have severe PTSD issues for assignments."
Horatio sighed, shaking his head. "I should yell at them."
"It's been a year," Ryan pointed out gently. "I know they were reacting out of grief. I'm realistic. They didn't want anyone there. I had bad timing." That got a nod. "They would've done it to anyone. And then Eric had to ask me why I didn't tell him yesterday," he snorted.
"Reminded him of that?"
"Yup, and he gave me that sheepish, little boy caught picking his nose look. I walked off shaking my head."
"I'll talk with them."
"It's done and gone, Horatio. It won't do any good so leave it alone."
"They shouldn't have."
Ryan looked at him. "It's only been in the last few weeks that you've begun to use my first name, Horatio." He moaned at that. "Like I said, I'm realistic."
"We need to talk more than I thought," he admitted.
Ryan shrugged. "That's up to you. I can't make you like me."
"I do like you. Even though you have had some problems with things like your temper." Ryan grimaced at that. "You were doing what you thought was best, Ryan."
"I was and it was still wrong. I have moments like that."
"You're human and we all do," he reminded him gently. Ryan nodded, letting that soothe him. "Gambling?"
"Now and then for extra income. It's not a habit and certainly not an addiction."
"It is something that Stetler could get you for," he warned.
"I know. He's looking for any excuse. So, if I move, got any good cities you'd recommend?"
He smiled. "I know the nightshift Las Vegas lab and someone in New York's."
He shook his head. "I couldn't stand living in New York. Miami's big enough and it's almost like a blanket smothering you some days with how crowded it is. They might like Las Vegas though. Dan would complain about his hair."
Horatio smiled. "He didn't seem like the one to do that."
"Rebecca would complain to Dan, not me. Complaining to me gets her patted on the back and then a good grope. Complaining to Dan gets her ice cream." Horatio laughed at that, going back to cooking. "Can I help?"
"I'm almost done," he promised. "You can set the table." Ryan nodded, getting into the cabinet Horatio pointed at to do that for him. He considered the man he was starting to get to know while he finished cooking, then brought out the food to sit with him and actually *talk* to him. He hadn't done that yet. He knew the most intimate details of Eric and Calleigh's lives but he didn't know very much about Ryan. He looked at him for a minute. "What happened when you moved off the compound?" he asked gently.
"I nearly got to the point of kidnaping," he admitted. "We had the worst fight. They ended up quarantining me from the family for two weeks so I wouldn't beat the shit out of one of them," he said, staring at him. "They agreed with me, but they couldn't let it get that far. So they helped them see how stupid they were and then they explained their reasons to me. It got bad enough that they ended up going to explain themselves to the Prophet for a few visitations on end. In the end I still got overruled. It came down to the choice of divorcing them and taking the kids or deciding custody or not. Kate kept us together at that point by making sure I knew I was wanted but that they were trying to help me. It still sucks. I'm still mad at them for it. I've missed a hell of a lot in my kids lives." He stuffed his mouth. "This is really good."
Horatio touched his hand. "I'd have been mad too."
Ryan smiled. "Everyone was mad at my wives. Then the Prophet's wife popped up with her opinion when she tried to come back. She very nearly ended up being shark food. Someone suggested they let me have her for her stupidity and they considered it for a few minutes. Since then it's calmed down some but I'm still very pissed over that decision. I did consider divorcing them and asking for full custody too but at the time the courts wouldn't have let me without a very good reason; the only one I could pull up would apply just as much to me as to them." He ate another bite of dinner.
"You made the right decision, Ryan."
"Maybe but it still sucks. Now and then the kids still push it back and they have to step in to admit it was their decision. Amanda used to be pretty good at that."
"I heard she was the only one that got you calmed down."
"A few times. She's the only one who'll get into my face when she thinks I've done something stupid too." He grinned a bit. "She got into my face the other night at my place over not really dating you. She thinks you'd give me someone to be there for me instead of me playing harem lord for the others."
"That'll change when you move back," he offered.
Ryan shook his head. "We've tried this one before, Horatio. It's the same thing only I'm closer so they get jumped more often. Or actually I get jumped more often. I don't initiate sex with them because I never know when they're in the wrong mood." He ate a bite. "That's probably why Kate wanted the new baby, to make it easier."
"Then these two will be just yours?" he teased.
Ryan smirked. "Quite possibly. I have no idea why they wanted new kids. They were so happy when Presley was finally potty trained."
"Sometimes you miss having a baby."
"There's tons they could babysit to remember how frustrated they were with a screaming infant. I'm wondering if there isn't a higher plan at the moment." He shrugged and ate another bite. "Maybe Dessie was serious when she suggested moving back to the compound."
"Would you go?"
"It'd .... I'd like to say yes but I don't need the daily affirmation that I used to. I'm okay living outside and visiting."
"Would they bother them for doing that?"
Ryan shook his head. "No, divorce does happen among us. The same as I know Presley's not mine. She doesn't look a thing like me. Even Jacob looks a bit like me. I know Hannah's not either for the same reason."
"I thought Hannah was growing into your facial structure."
Ryan shook his head. "I know she's not. I had the paternity test done behind their backs. Before you ask, they have the same birth mother."
"Is she maybe wanting to leave?"
"Maybe," Ryan admitted. "Rebecca can be like that now and then. They all want the comfort of not having to make up excuses. I'm not sure which way Kate and Dan would go but those two would move back if they could talk the family into it. Most of the kids would stay, I think, but Presley would go back with them. Jacob might or might not." Horatio gave his hand a squeeze. "It's something that's been building for a while. With this new bout of idiots, it's bringing up some bad memories. Kate and Dessie were both there the last time the compound got raided and were nearly shot by a Fed for being there and doing something constructive."
"The Feds had their guns out?"
"Yup. They threatened to shoot anyone who moved twice. Scared the crap out of the kids. Dessie was pregnant at the time so she was helping in the daycare we ran at the time. Kate was doing some filing in the office. They rounded all the women and children up then told them how they were going to shoot them all in front of the kids. That way they'd be out of their misery and future paperwork."
"Were they fired?"
"Some. A few weren't. One's now second in Tampa. We pulled the surveillance video and showed it and he's still second in Tampa. I nearly went to jail for hitting him for threatening my family but his boss said he deserved it." Horatio shook his head with a small sigh. "This isn't a new problem. Me finding someone on the lawn the other night with a spray can brought back the old fears. Personally, I'd be more worried if they do move back because someone could try something else."
"The compound is safer now," he admitted.
"Not really. The guards don't have guns. Some of the homes do but the guards don't. Two of them won't even fire one to save themselves. There's been rumors of the feds going in again too." He swallowed. "I have no idea why. There's no reason for them to."
"I'll look into that rumor. See if it's going to impact the lab." He got a smile and a nod from his guest. "Eat. You need the energy to deal with the kids later."
"The girls have the plans for the garage renovation. They're having fun doing that." Horatio smiled and nodded. "They like to decorate. They make their mothers redo the house now and then too." Horatio laughed. "Presley had to lock them out of her room the last time and sat in there with a super soaker to guard her dolls."
"She's quite a girl and that speaks well to how you've raised her."
"She is my little amazon," he agreed happily. "Likes Xena too, loves Joxer." Horatio snickered at that, shaking his head. "I let her get away with stuff because she's cute and the youngest. I always have. She's the one who used to come snuggle into my lap. Her and Jacob. They're so spoiled."
"They're not spoiled," Horatio assured him. "They're too sensible to be spoiled."
Ryan's phone went off. "Wolfe," he answered, frowning. "What happened?" He nodded. "I'll be right there." He hung up. "Tabitha fell down the stairs and broke her ankle."
"Go," Horatio ordered, giving him a gentle smile. "Tell her I'll see her this weekend and to feel better?" Ryan beamed and nodded, heading out. Horatio finished his dinner then went to chase down those rumors. He didn't like the sound of them invading the compound again. There wasn't a reason. Everyone paid taxes, no one filed for multiple marriage licenses. There weren't drugs or terrorists. It didn't make any sense.
Horatio found Ryan waiting the next morning. "I talked to a few people last night," he said quietly. "It's the same second in command in Tampa that's urging another raid on the compound, only this time he's telling them that there's drugs and they're a suicide cult."
Ryan shook his head. "Not hardly. A few who smoke weed at home, never in public. It's not allowed. Suicide cult?" Horatio nodded, glancing around. "No! Idiots. Can we stop this?"
"I suggested that someone go in to talk to them about joining. That way they could get the information they wanted and needed to see he was biased."
"All they have to do is ask," Ryan said dryly.
"They're agents, Ryan. They don't think that way." He walked off shaking his head. "Therefore I need you to introduce someone." He stared him down. "Please?"
"They'll know if I do it."
"I know, so do they. One of them does know, has seen sense, and is more than willing to get film of things so they can see there's nothing to these rumors. Can you?"
"Did you tell anyone else?"
"Of course." He smiled. "Since we *know* it's not true." That got a grin back and a nod. "Tonight?"
"Bad night for the Prophetess. She's got a advanced geometry test tomorrow." He smiled and walked off. "Have them find me, Horatio."
"I can do that." He went to make that call, telling them why, getting an odd silence when he admitted the reason to push it back by a day. He had to remind them she was only sixteen. That got a grunt of understanding.
Ryan walked the agent around. "This is where some of the kids have decided there's going to be a community garden."
"What're we planting?"
"Each family's going to get three rows to plant whatever legal things they want. Some'll do flowers, some will do vegetables. It's a community project."
The agent looked at him. "Are you planting anything?"
"One of my daughters is on the planning board and she's very eco sensitive. I'm leaving that one to her. She'll probably plant some vegetables. There she is. Prophetess." She looked over and smiled. He nodded so she walked over. "This is Chad."
"Good afternoon, Chad." She shook his hand. "Is Ryan bragging on his daughter's plan to save us grocery money?"
"A bit," he admitted, grinning at her. "I heard you were behind most things though."
"Not this one. I suggested we should have another community based project. That some of us are being pushed down by society again and it would ease some of the pressure of our daily lives. I'm behind there being some trees planted next week."
"We called the electric company so we can find hidden lines?" Ryan asked her.
"Oops. Knew I forgot something. I'll do that tonight." He grinned at that and nodded. "Come, let's go to the community center. My mothers are freaking out about the new rugs getting dirty. I thought it was silly to get such a light tan soft shag carpet but that's what they decided on." She took Ryan's arm to walk him back there, smiling at him. "How are things going?"
"I'm moving home again."
She nodded. "I heard. How are the garage's renovations?"
"The girls are apparently having a lot of fun working on that," he admitted. "I swear Tabitha will be an engineer or architect."
"The world could use those with the higher skills and she does have an artistic bent that means she won't create ugly buildings," the Prophetess offered.
Ryan grinned. "Yeah, but then I'll have to pay for college."
"Good point." She gave him a squeeze. "You'll figure it out. After all, there is financial aid for students and the city doesn't pay you that much. Or Dan could have put some of his commission into college funds."
"Maybe," he admitted. "I never asked. Kate deals with the money stuff most of the time." He opened the community center's door, smiling. "Ah, air conditioning."
She swatted him. "Your daughter would be upset that you're enjoying the ozone destroying machine."
He looked at her then shook his head. "She said the same thing when she got home last night." She giggled and gave him a hug, walking Chad off. "I'm going to check in with the judicial office," he said, going to do that. He leaned in. "Hey."
"Ryan. How are things?"
"Can I yell at my wives?"
"Probably not," he admitted, waving him inside. Ryan walked in and shut the door. They were good friends and Ryan could come to him for advice on all the problems his family was having. Including the two that were thinking about a trial separation so they could move back. She brought Chad back a little over an hour later, finding them still talking. He smiled and nodded politely. "Hi. I'm Roger, I'm the compound's legal advisor and judge." He shook his hand.
"Welcome." He looked at Ryan. "You need to talk to them."
"All?" Ryan nodded. He sighed. "We'll call them in for some family counseling time?"
"I'll let Mom know we need a good weekend of time," the Prophetess said happily. She smiled at Chad. "One of my mothers is the head counselor. You're free to talk to anyone you want but she does the official stuff for pre-marriage counseling."
"You go through pre-marriage counseling?"
Ryan nodded. "Plus a period of cohabitation to make sure you can stand your new family. Then there's post counseling and she'll even help you with the minute details if you want. All that's to help reduce the stress because we've had plenty of brides who've tried to go insane with a wedding. The night before you get given someone you trust to work any last minute doubts out on. I've done that a number of times." He grinned. "It doesn't matter if it's your first and only or your eighth. You go through it with each one and your family goes too."
"They'll think it's due to your new friend," she warned.
"We have to work this stuff out before I could even *consider* bringing anyone in."
"Good," she agreed happily. "That's sensible and how to have a content family." She patted Chad's hand. "Did you want to see anything else?"
"Not today. I want to go home and think."
She smiled and nodded, walking him back to where Ryan had parked him. Ryan followed a moment later, getting a hug before he got into the car. "I'll tell Mommy tonight." He nodded, getting in to drive. "Have a good day, Ryan. You as well, Chad, and remember, we can chat and help you even if you're not one of us. We're open that way." He nodded, smiling and waving. They backed out and she jogged home. "Mom!" She came out of the kitchen, giving her an odd look. "Ryan's asking for family counseling. It's getting to the point where two are thinking about splitting. I said you'd give them a few weekends."
She nodded. "I can do that. They do need to straighten that out before they bring in Horatio." She smiled. "How was the Fed?"
"He was very polite. He did ask about religious activities. I gave him the list of the local churches and said he was more than able to go out but that we didn't keep a church or chapel here on the compound because it caused dissensions. Which it does. He looked a bit shocked but I let him look around everywhere he wanted to for one. He'll come back in a few weeks to look for another one." She smiled and nodded. "The person who did this really is in a position of authority?"
"Do you remember nearly being shot when you were four?" She nodded slowly. "It's one of them and they're in Tampa."
"Idiots." She walked off shaking her head. "I'm going back to the garden."
"Sure, dear." She went back to the kitchen, going to call Ryan's wives to get a good date to start talking to them. It was going to get bad. There were still some older hurts that hadn't been cleared up yet. They'd have to go over them too.
Ryan looked at the agent once they were back at the station. "So?"
"There's no church?"
"No. It's something that people fight over. We're very much 'if it floats your boat' people. So if you want faith, you go off compound and do it at home. If someone asks you can explain it to them. I had to get one of the Rastas who live there to explain their faith to me before I said something wrong during a bust."
"Interesting. The garden?"
"Is just that. My daughter's very eco-conscious. She and a group of teens there all help come up with ways to help 'green up' the compound. Most of the homes use energy efficient appliances and things already. She's trying to get a community standard started for upgrades and future construction that'll set a baseline of energy efficient rules and even some trial alternative energy ideas. We've always done community projects, so the garden fit in with that and it does help when you have to pay a dollar for a cucumber."
"She sent a letter to me as well about the hummers we use," Horatio told him. "She had some ideas I've been trying to implement and a few we're testing both for the hummers and the cruisers."
The agent looked impressed at that. "She sounds very smart."
"Thanks," Ryan said with a grin. "She's thirteen."
"Wow." He smiled a bit. "It looked a lot like a gated community."
"We consider ourselves a small town in the center of the larger city," Ryan agreed. "The walls are there because there's stupid people in the world who can't tolerate those who don't agree with them."
"I noticed the only weapon at the gate was a taser on one of the guards."
Ryan frowned. "Which one had the taser?"
"The older one."
"Ah. His future son-in-law is coming today." He smirked a bit. "He's going to make sure he knows to treat his only daughter very well." That got a laugh from Horatio. "He's actually so peaceful and nonviolent that when someone threatened to shoot him once he told them to go ahead, he wasn't going to fight back. He volunteered for the gate."
The agent looked confused. "Nonviolent?"
"Yeah," Ryan agreed with a grin. "None of them ever carry weapons. We're not like that."
"Oh. I didn't realize that it went that far."
"We're more a hippie commune," Ryan told him.
"I saw the monument behind the center."
Ryan nodded slower, losing his grin. "That's our remembrance garden. Those who died when those who hate others not like them came in." He stared at him. "There's three names on there because of the person starting the rumors this time."
"I looked that up," he admitted. "I'm sorry they were so dumb."
"So were we." That got a nod. "If there were kids cleaning the statue, then they were on punishment for doing something stupid but minor. That and other clean-up duties are usually done by those who are on punishment. If there's no one we all kinda police our own areas for trash and things. "
"I didn't see any kids."
"It's only two in the afternoon. School's not out yet," Horatio reminded him.
"The Prophetess skipped," Ryan told him, getting a smirk. "She did. She skipped at lunch. They knew you were coming and she wanted to make sure it wasn't going to be another case of someone invading with machine guns."
"They *all* knew, Chad. Nothing got changed for your visit," he assured him. "There's two that work in the courts as reporters, one's a judge's clerk. One's an ATF agent." That got a moan. "You were sent so you could get proof for the others who wouldn't believe if they just came in and asked."
He nodded. "I knew that part. Nothing got changed?"
"The Prophetess skipped school," Ryan told him, getting a smirk. "Her father's will left her a trust and she goes to a fairly good prep school."
"Interesting. Where do your kids go?"
"Public school. My daughter Drew's group comes from her school and the compound's teenagers."
"It seems like they've got things together." He turned off the recorder. "For the bosses later."
Ryan shrugged. "Like I care."
"Someone took some thermal imaging last Thursday night."
"Ah," he said with a fond smirk. "They saw most of us in the community center?" He nodded. "There was a community dinner. We have them once a month. It gives us a time to get together and talk to each other. Spread family news and things." That got a smile and a nod. "Nothing out of the ordinary. We consider ourselves a very extended family with a few odd members. That's a family dinner."
"Good. It sounds like it helps. Your own family? You looked upset."
"My family's having problems," he admitted quietly. "We're going to take up the offer of counseling because of that. Before I start to yell at them." That got a nod. "Then again, that's why we have counselors and we can go to any other couple to help us but I need the official counseling this time to stop some problems that're going on."
"It's possible. Two of them are thinking that way." The agent gaped. "What can I say, it takes more than one to make me happy," he said dryly. "Still no paperwork filed."
Chad cleared up his gape. "I never would've imagined you being that way."
Ryan nodded. "Yeah, the guy spreading the rumors nearly shot two of my wives when he was there the last time. We even tried to have charges pressed, they decided he had done a good thing threatening to shoot them in front of the kids." That got a shudder. "You're more than welcome to come back, with or without the ruse, Chad. Anytime. We don't mind visitors. It's the only way to get rid of the 'cult' stigma."
"You guys are a lot more like a hippie commune," he admitted. "I'll let them know that. Thanks, Ryan."
"Community dinner's in three weeks if you wanted to come," he offered. "It's Southern cooking next time."
"I'll try," he admitted with a smile, heading out to talk to his bosses. He walked in and found them all waiting. "You do realize they're like a hippie commune, right?" They all gaped. He nodded. "That massing was a community dinner." They all sighed. "No churches. The Prophetess is sixteen and skipped school today to talk with me." He handed over the taping equipment. "No churches. They're planting a community garden. They're hippies but some have multiple wives." They settled in to watch the tape. "Also, I got invited back whenever I wanted to come, unannounced, in ruse or not, guys. Including to the next dinner so we could make sure of things." He glared at the man who had started the investigation. "So, you threatened to shoot women in front of their children?" Everyone gaped. He nodded. "I do believe if we asked, there's proof."
"They're evil!" he shouted. "They're a fucking little cult!"
"They weren't the last time you went in, they're not now," Chad said simply, standing up to him. "Yeah, I heard how you rounded up the women and children and threatened to shoot the women in front of the kids. I heard it from one of the kids." He took a step back. "I also saw the remembrance garden they have. That's as close to any form of religion as they have. I even asked for you. Personally, I'd love to live somewhere like that. It's peaceful. There's almost no major crimes. Those that do happen come from someone outside the group, like that homicide last month. Others are just jealous because they figured out how to get along peacefully." He looked at the others. "Are we persisting in giving his delusions and anger a case number?"
The head of the Miami bureau shook his head. "No. Though I would like to keep an eye on them. What does the Prophetess do?"
"Her grandfather started the idea. Her father built the commune. She mostly gives advice and reminds people why they moved there. Though she does have a thing for Gucci." He grinned. "I asked her why that, she said it's because so many people wear the sex- attracting slutty clothes. Plus Verssace didn't work as well in her sayings." That got a small smirk. "She's sixteen. She cut school today to talk to me."
"Anyone in the local departments who's a member?" the head of the Miami bureau asked.
"A few court reporters, a judge's clerk, an ATF agent, Ryan Wolfe in the lab." He shrugged. "He's having family problems and is looking a bit stressed because of them. He looked really tired, sir. He still took me out there. It's the only compound I've ever seen with non-violent people as gate guards."
That got a small smile and a nod. "I know. I'm going to have them reclassified in City Council. What they did a few years back was stupid." He stood up. "All right. We'll leave the modern version of the hippie compound alone, people." He looked at Chad. "What happens if they find someone like a rapist?"
"They have a compound judge. She said that whoever's brought before him, he decides if there's enough evidence, then he calls someone in the local department to handle it. If there's not or it's a minor thing he handles it in-house until they either do something too bad or they get enough evidence." That got a nod. "I took the time to look through the ones that had been handed over. They hand over spousal abusers, one guy recently who wandered drunkenly into his girl's room. A few others. Wolfe had to step in on that recent homicide that ended up being a church that hated them for being tolerant. It's how he was outed at the station."
The bureau chief nodded. "That can happen. All right, sounds like it's all legit. I'll let you go back a few more times to make sure. Go to the community dinner." That got a nod and Chad walked out. He looked at the erring agent. "That was your only chance to prove this point you wanted to make," he said calmly. "I want your resignation on my desk in the morning. Or else they'll be breaking in your door to arrest you." He walked out, heading to his office to make notes. He heard the agent stomp off behind him but oh well. His bias was not going to do him any good in the agency. Tampa's office could toe the line this time.
Ryan smiled as his wives gave him dirty looks. "I don't care," he said simply. "We're going. There's too many things to work out." They all nodded and went back to eating. He coughed and looked at the kids. "For the next few weeks, we're going to be doing some counseling," he told them. "There's been a few issues that've popped up recently and I need to clear the air before they become harmful."
"Should we hold off on the renovations?" Amanda asked, looking a bit worried.
"No, sweetie, I'm moving out there," he promised. She beamed and nodded, getting up to give him a hug. "I checked, you girls are doing a fantastic job. I love what you've done so far." They all beamed.
"Daddy, would you like a few of my dolls?" Presley asked.
"We'll see if we can slip a few into bookshelves when we're finished," he said, smiling at her, getting a happy smile back and his daughter going back to his dinner. He looked at Amanda. "If you guys need to talk, there'll be time for you guys to come in too." That got a nod and she sat back down. "Tabs, you've got a very good hand at buildings, my dear." She smiled at him for that compliment. "I was thinking earlier since you've got a pretty good looking career path. Have you thought about that any?"
"The girls have a college fund," Dan promised quietly, looking at him. "All of us?"
Ryan looked at him. "I don't think you need to be at the first one unless you want to," he offered with a small grin. He grinned. "But I think the girls can do dinner that day too. It's not fair to make you the housekeeper and cook, Dan."
"You're not bothering me with it," he promised with a shy smile. Ryan grinned back. "So we'll all go?" Ryan nodded. "Cool with me." He gave Jacob a hug. "Eat, son. You should be eating."
"I'm having problems with a few of the kids at school," he admitted. "Which is why Tabitha nearly got expelled."
Tabitha looked at him. "There was no reason for those senior and junior boys to pick on an eleven-year-old-boy because he likes boys. There's no way in hell I'd let that happen, especially not to my little brother and especially not with Amanda's boyfriend."
"Oh, he's very dumped," Amanda assured her. "I yelled that at him while the cops were trying to get you off the captain of the football team. By the way, Dad, meeting with the principal at ten."
"I can handle that," Rebecca assured her.
"The principal wanted him there," Dan reminded her. She glared at him. "I think he's right, it's about time to do some more talking." He stuffed his mouth. "You don't need the ER, right, Jacob?"
"No, I'm fine. Just a few bruises."
"Which I'll be documenting tonight," Ryan assured him. He stared his son down, getting a soft smile. "You need an ice pack?"
"Warm bath later." That got a nod and Ryan took another bite. "Tabs?"
"I've already had an ice pack for my knuckles," she admitted. "Dad?"
"Wouldn't miss it," he promised her, getting a hug from that daughter and Drew. "You too?"
"I got there when the cops did," she admitted. "I was helping pull them off and put them down onto the ground so they could be confined. I got a few very confused looks until I told them my daddy was a cop. They let me handcuff one."
"Were they expelled?" Dan asked.
"That's part of the meeting tomorrow," Tabitha said calmly. "I'm sorry if I get expelled."
"If you do we'll be fighting it," Rebecca assured her. "That's unfair since you were trying to stop the idiots."
"Can I call them names since they're bad people?" Presley asked.
"Only in your own head," Ryan told her. She nodded, smiling at him before getting another roll and digging in again. Ryan leaned back to grab the phone, dialing Horatio. "It's me. I'm going to be a bit late tomorrow. Hopefully by noon. Apparently Tabitha had to take on a good portion of the football team to save Jacob from them. Yeah, principal," he agreed. "Thanks, Horatio. I'll make it up later this week." He hung up and leaned back again to put the phone back. "Finish up so we can get on with the night, guys." They all finished up and Ryan got his kit from the car so he could use his camera to document the bruises on his son and daughters' bodies.
Ryan walked into work the next day, looking at Calleigh. "For future reference, Judge Perkins hates me for having his son expelled for jumping my son and he loathes the lab, thinks we're creepy and that we make up half of what we do. Said we're like the psychos who claim creationism is the only way to teach kids to his mind. And he did put it in those terms, I reserve my judgement on them for my less than polite times since they've got some major gaps to my thinking."
"So we'll have a problem with him?"
"Yeah, my daughter fractured his son's jaw to get him off Jacob. Him and four of his friends jumped my son. Tabs jumped in to save him. A few more jumped in to pull everyone apart. The officers responding had one *long* report by the time it was done." She groaned. "I pointed out he was one of those psychos and that's where his son had learned to gaybash from after he called us all wimpy people with delusions." He handed over the tape. "The full tape. It's not very pretty."
"Are your kids expelled?"
"Nope. Jacob was clearly jumped. Tabs clearly jumped in to save him. Drew and Amanda got there about when the cops did. They both helped by putting people onto the ground. Tabs is suspended for two weeks for fighting. They tried that with Jacob but since he's the victim I promised I'd sue the school and she had to back down. If you know someone whose kids like to play football, let them transfer into our school because we've now got some starting spots." He grinned and walked on. He logged in and went to find Horatio. "Tabs got suspended for two weeks for saving her brother. Judge Perkins claims we pull things out of midair. His son's got a broken jaw from Tabs' foot." Horatio moaned, shaking his head. "His son also got expelled. I gave Calleigh the tape I made so you know what was said. That way you can disavow if necessary."
"I hope it won't be," he told him.
"After he called us people with delusions I did tell him that he's where his son learned to gay bash from. He wasn't a happy camper before then though so if the truth hurt in that case he should take a look at why." He walked off, going to find his present case and get back to work.
Horatio walked down to ballistics to get the tape so he could listen to it, finding her listening. She rewound it for him and they listened. The judge had started it and Ryan had only spoken the truth. "We've always had problems with him," she reminded him. "He questions the science behind every single test."
He nodded. "I doubt it'll get much better," he agreed.
"Don't yell at him, Horatio," she said quietly.
"I'm not. He lost his temper a bit but it was the truth." He went to find Ryan. "Did Amanda get in trouble?"
"Not for stepping in to stop it. The officers praised her style. Let her cuff someone even." Horatio cracked a smile at that. "She did break up with her boyfriend for being one of them. Screamed at him while the others were being sorted out. Jacob's taking today off to see the new doctor so he can get x-rays of his ribs. I wasn't sure one wasn't broken with the way he was moving. Rebecca took him and Presley both in to meet the new doc. Hopefully we'll know by the time I go home tonight. Want to come to dinner? It's going to be frosty if someone isn't there to stop them," he begged quietly. That got a nod and he beamed. "Thanks, Horatio."
"You're welcome. Did you hear anything from the FBI?"
"I heard from Chad that the guy who was pushing the allegations got fired," he offered.
"Under threat of being charged himself," Horatio said. Ryan beamed at that. "So it does appear that the side of good won again."
"Thanks, boss." He gave him a quick hug and went back to finding what something was.
Horatio smiled, walking out. Maxine Valera gave him a curious look. "A threat to his family was fired from the FBI," he said quietly.
"It's a good reason for a hug," she said happily.
"If you have to go in front of Judge Perkins, expect to be challenged," he warned.
She snorted. "He always does and then he asks if it wouldn't be more reasonable for a man to do DNA work." He rolled his eyes. "Why the warning now?"
"His son jumped Ryan's son."
"Oooh. That had to be a loud fight."
"After his daughter got done with the boys? No." She gaped.
Ryan leaned in. "A few of the football players decided to gaybash Jacob. Tabs stepped in and whipped ass," he said with a fond smile. "The judge's son was one of them."
"Ooh," she hissed. "She okay?"
"Two weeks off. He's got at least a bruised rib and a few others. The boys got expelled. Amanda's single since her boyfriend was one of them." She smiled at that. She hadn't liked the little greaseball anyway. "So, if you know of a *good* boy, introduce them. Please." He walked off, going to find something in evidence.
Horatio shook his head but he was smiling. "He's a very good, but fussy father," she agreed with him. "I'll make sure the others know." He nodded, heading back to get back to his own work. When Ryan came in with a sample she gave him a hug. "Give that to Tabs for the good job kicking football player butt."
He smirked. "I taught all the kids self-defense. Apparently I'm good." She laughed and took his sample to run while he went back to Trace.
Ryan finally got to move into the garage apartment, smiling at all the work that had went into it. He finished hauling up his last box and sat down in his recliner, smiling when Presley peeked around the door. "You can come in."
She ran over to crawl into his lap, hiding inside his t-shirt with him. "Why do we have to move?"
"You're not, sweetie. None of you kids are." She looked up at him through his neckhole. "I promise, you're not. The mommies aren't taking any of you. Or else I will scream like they have never heard before," he promised. She nodded, snuggling in again. He looked down the doorway. "Dan, can you please call them up here?" he yelled. He got a quiet sound of assent from outside. Soon Dessie and Rebecca came up the stairs. "The kids are not leaving this house. You don't have room for them there, you don't have the energy to build a new house there. You can visit." He stared them down.
"She's not..." Dessie stared.
"I know that. The same as I know Hannah isn't. And?" He shrugged. "Hasn't mattered to me yet." They stared. "This was *your* decision, not mine. I never said that the knowledge bothered me. Just that I knew. For that matter, they agreed that the kids should not be moved from the house unless absolutely necessary. I visited for *years*," he reminded them when Rebecca started to say something. "You can now." That got a sigh and they stomped off. "See, told you you're not moving." She gave him a hug and slid out of his shirt, heading back to her room to lock herself inside and make sure that they wouldn't touch her dolls. He groaned, getting up, heading over there. Jacob met him in the driveway. "Hey." He gave him a hug and a kiss on the head. "How's the bruised rib?"
"Still sore. Presley?"
"Is staying. Hannah's staying. All you kids are staying," he promised. That got a happy smile. "Go clean your room." He nodded, going to do that while Ryan went inside. "Clean your rooms," he called. "We can't go out for dinner until you do!" They all went running. He looked at the gathered adults. "There, now we can talk without help. I'm here to help with the kids," he told Dan, who smiled and relaxed. "I won't let the kids be split up. It's not good for them. I don't care if I wasn't in the room when they were conceived. They're mine. The new ones we'll deal with when they come. You guys can visit like I did because you guys made the decision to try a separation. I'm not going to make it hard on you to visit, the same as you never did to me. I'm not going to let you steal them either."
"They're a lot of work," Rebecca said.
Ryan nodded. "I know that. The same as I know if we stumble a bit, the older girls can help with Presley now and then." That got a sigh and a nod. "The same as they do in other families. We might even consider paying for babysitting." Dan beamed at that, that meant they could go on dates. "You guys are more than welcome to come visit whenever, come over for dinner, all that good stuff. Let us know if you take them out of school. Let us know a bit ahead so we make sure there's enough food for you. That's the only thing we ask."
Dessie sniffed. "If you're sure."
Ryan nodded. "I am. You said the same thing to me when you made me move out. I'm giving you the same chances you gave me." That got a nod and they went up to their shared room. He slumped against the counter, looking at Dan and Kate. "I'm sorry, guys. I didn't mean for this to happen when I called for therapy."
"Therapy only showed there were breaks," Kate said gently, giving him a hug. "It also showed how unfair we've been to you, Ryan."
"I really did think about kidnaping them," he admitted, looking at her. "I came very close to doing it." She nodded, giving him an extra squeeze. "This scared the crap out of Presley. She came up and hid under my shirt."
Dan smiled. "You've always been her favorite parent," he reminded him.
Ryan grinned. "I know. It's great that I got to be there for her and Jacob. I love you guys but I'm not letting anything hurt the kids." They nodded at that. "Can we agree that I'll help out more around the house?"
"Help away," Dan promised with a grin. That got a grin and a kiss back. Then Ryan kissed Kate, making her smile. "You okay?"
"I feel a bit pukey," she admitted. "The same as last time." She gave them both a cuddle, looking back as Jacob came down the stairs. "We're done."
"We should call a family conference," he reminded them. "Presley won't come out of her room."
"She knows she's not leaving either," Ryan promised. "Go do that." He nodded, going to get the kids so they could talk to them. He walked Dan and Kate in there, sitting down in front of them. "You guys know that we've had some therapy recently," he said, letting Presley into his lap. They all nodded at that. "Well, it's come out that there's some unhappiness."
"Why?" Amanda asked, staring at him.
"Some's been going back for a very long time," Ryan told her honestly. "Some of it's more recently. It's basically gotten to the point where if we all stay together it's going to be harder to fix than if we try it when a few of us leave."
"You're still staying?" Tabitha asked.
He nodded. "I am. I'm going to be helping out around the house a lot more too and I'll be asking you older girls to do the same now and then." They smiled and nodded. "There's even the possibility of babysitting. With raises on your allowance," he admitted. That got a broader smirk.
Hannah raised her hand. "Am I a point of contention?"
"No, sweetie, I've known," he promised. She nodded. "Mommy Dessie and Rebecca have decided that we're going to try to work on these problems while they move back to the compound for a bit. I have made sure that you're staying here. This is your home, I am your father," he said, staring her down, making her relax and beam back at him. He grinned at the others. "So they'll be doing what I was doing before. If you want to see them, do it. We won't mind. If they take you out of school, we want to know, give us some warning before dinner so there's enough food. That's all we're asking. Okay?" They nodded, smiling at him. He looked at Presley. "You don't have to worry either. There's no need to hide in your room."
"Yes, Daddy. Can I help clean?"
"If you want but I want to talk to you about that sometime soon," he told her. She nodded, kissing him on the cheek. He let her go when she wiggled. "So, it's going to be a bit of stress but not that much. We're going to keep you guys out of it as much as possible. Nothing changes here at the house except that I moved in again." They all nodded. "The same as my door is open, just knock first." They all nodded again. "Good. Now, finish doing your rooms so we can get dinner."
"Out or in?" Elizabeth asked. "If we're going out can I invite Ray Junior?"
"You can," he agreed with a smile. "We'll hit the pizza place with games." They all beamed and nodded, going to finish cleaning their rooms. He looked over at the two mothers. "That good with you?" They nodded at that. "That way they don't have to see you two carrying stuff out." That got another nod. "We'll see you two tomorrow at therapy?"
"That'll work," Rebecca agreed. She stopped Hannah. "How long have yo known?"
"I realized I didn't look a thing like the others when I was Presley's age, Mom. The same as I know she doesn't," she said quietly. She nodded at that. "Dad?"
"You're mine and staying mine, no matter who was in the room," he promised. She beamed and gave him a quick hug before going back outside. He looked at them. "We can be good for them."
"We can," Dessie agreed, going back to her packing. Rebecca came up a few minutes later. "He's being as fair to us as we were to him," she reminded her at her discontent look. "He could be a bastard to us about this."
She nodded. "I know." She finished her packing and gathered a few things she'd want to take with her, including the baby books. They left, heading out once the kids had went out for pizzas. It was easier without a tearful goodbye. Ryan had been right about that.
Ryan looked at his wives a few weeks later. Therapy had not been going well. He finally sighed and interrupted Dessie's rant. "Horatio hasn't been over. His nephew has been over so he could spend time with Liz. I've only seen Horatio at work." They all gaped at him. "Except for that one dinner when you were all there, he hasn't been over."
Dan nodded. "He hasn't. He agreed, we had to get this worked out before they did more than become friends."
"No dates, nothing?" the therapist asked.
Ryan shook his head. "He and I have eaten lunch a few times, getting to know each other as friends. Nothing more than what he knows about Calleigh and Eric." That got a nod and a note made. He looked at the wives. "I've got to work things out with you two and come to some sort of resolution before we get anywhere near that point. He agreed with me on that and most of the time we have lunch, we talk about you guys. He's been keeping me calm at work when there's times all I want to do is dent a concrete wall with a fist."
Rebecca looked at him. "Your temper was always strong."
He nodded. "This hasn't been making it any easier either," he assured her. "I've lost my temper on suspects and others because of this." She slumped. "This was also a long time coming. We needed to do this years ago." Dan nodded at that. "Have things been working out okay for you?"
"It's been wonderful really," Dan promised. "Even the few nights you've had to work late it's been working okay. The older three are great with their new chores. Jacob gratefully took on laundry duties when I increased his allowance to something closer to what other kids got. They're not happy that there's still this split. They all wanted this to be over with a lot sooner."
"Sometimes it can take months. What did we tell them?" the therapist asked.
"That sometimes it was easier to work on problems when you weren't together," Ryan admitted. "That we were trying to fix things." That got a nod and a smile. "I wasn't going to make promises. Presley's still nervous and afraid it'll all crash around her. She's a very delicate soul and I never realized how delicate she was before. By the way, I need the new number for the guy who helped me with my OCD. I think it's time to get her evaluated. This stress has made a few rituals appear." She dug it out and handed it over. "Thanks." He copied down and handed it back. He looked at his wives. Kate was at home waiting on the kids. "I want to work this out. I want a happy family who doesn't have this undercurrent of pain and problems. I'd like to be a lot less stressed. Really. I get plenty at work." They all sighed and nodded. "Would you guys like to finish today without me?"
"It might help," Dan admitted. Ryan nodded, getting up and leaving them alone. "I don't think it's him," he told them. "He had some valid points. We needed to do this years ago with the way we've been hurting him."
"I don't think I love him," Dessie told him honestly, looking at him. "I'm not sure if I did before. Friends yes, but not love."
Dan nodded. "I've felt that way a few times. Especially when he comes home being Tired CSI Ryan Wolfe instead of just Our Ryan."
"Anyone who has that sort of career has those issues with their families," the therapist assured them. "They have to give so much to others that they often don't leave enough for those at home. Where Ryan very often sees the worst things that can happen in humanity, it wears on his soul." She adjusted her glasses, looking at them. "You guys knew he wanted to be a cop when you married."
They nodded. "I didn't expect the reality of being a cop's wife," Rebecca admitted. "I thought most of the time he'd have about the same emotional tiredness as I do working in an office."
"When in fact he's always given a lot of himself to the victims and that tires him out," Dan agreed. "I didn't think that it'd be that different either. I thought being a CSI wouldn't be any different than him being in patrol. I never realized that Ryan got to see the dead bodies first and for a lot longer, a lot more personally too." They nodded. "It makes me want to baby him more though, to remind him he's still got some safety and security at home."
Dessie looked at him. "Maybe I'm shallow, but I want a husband who comes home and cuddles me because he wants to cuddle me, not because he saw another murdered kid and needs comfort."
"Again, that's a normal problem for officer's spouses," the therapist said gently. "It's why they have such a high divorce rate." She nodded. "Dan, do you feel that you're moving that way?"
"No! Even if I fell completely out of love and friendship with him, I'd stay," he told her. "Ryan's my family. I need him as much as he needs me and those kids need me." That got a nod. "Kate feels the same. Even if they end up with one of those relationships that're basically like siblings, it's fine with us because we need him as much as he needs us. We thought Rebecca did too."
Rebecca grimaced, looking at him. "I do now and then. I love Ryan. I honestly do love him, but now and then I can't stand the man. His OCD drives me insane. His daughter picking it up didn't make me any happier. I'm hoping he gets Presley cured before she gets too bad."
"That's between them and the therapist," Dan reminded him. "She wasn't bad before. She had to have all her dolls in a specific order and arranged but it wasn't fear based, which most OCD rituals are. This separation has created more tension and it's made her more scared." She nodded. "I'm not saying that to put pressure on you. She has bloomed under constant attention from Ryan and he's gotten her to stop a few of them." He leaned closer. "We don't want you back unless you're *sure* you're ready. The kids don't want to have this go on longer but if you come back and then leave again it'll only hurt them more."
The therapist nodded. "It'll hurt no matter what. If it's going to be a break, it's better to be a clean one." They nodded at that. "Dan, maybe I should work with them." He nodded, leaving them alone. "This is going to come down to your decision, ladies."
They looked at her. "I'm filing today," Dessie told her quietly. "I decided that last night."
Rebecca sighed. "I don't know. I love Ryan. I can't stand to live with him but I love the man." She considered it. "It's better for the family if I stay this close and work on myself."
"You don't have to file for a divorce by our standards," Dessie reminded her. "You can do what Ryan did."
She smiled and nodded. "I think I will. It'll be better and easier." She stood up. "Thank you."
"It's not a problem. This is what I'm here for. The same as I'll be here for you for the rest of your thinking time." That got a nod and she left. She handed Dessie the paperwork. "I've had it filled out for weeks, Dessie. I knew you weren't going to go back." She nodded, looking it over before signing it. "Go file it with the judicial board." She nodded, going to do that. She sighed, making her final notes. She'd be seeing the rest of the family for a while yet but at least they came to some sort of resolution for now. She called Ryan. "They've made a decision." She smiled. "Probably, yes. Thank you." He hung up and went to lurk and wait for them to talk to him. She looked out her office window, finding them talking outside the community center. He gave them both hugs and nodded at what Rebecca was saying. They walked off and he went to his car and went home. "Now all we have to do is to work on the Horatio situation," she muttered.
Ryan tapped on Horatio's door. "There's been some resolution." He heard a laugh. "I can go if this is a bad time."
"It's Yelina, Ryan." He pulled him inside. "What happened?"
"Dessie filed to dissolve our union," he said quietly. "Rebecca decided she loves me but can't live with me so she's going to do what I was. She's going to keep working on things but she doesn't think she's going to be formally moving back for a very long time." Horatio nodded, giving him a pat on the arm. "We told the kids earlier tonight and then I had to escape. Presley's somehow decided that's her fault. I've told her repeatedly it wasn't and now I'm taking her to therapy for her OCD."
"Is hers as bad as yours?"
"Nearly," he admitted. "She's getting there. I've helped her with a few and Jacob's been helping too but she's miserable this way." Horatio nodded. "So I'm still going to have some counseling after hours. Mine might get weeded down again too. Who knows." Horatio gave him a hug. "Thanks, Horatio."
"It's what friends do," Horatio reminded him. He led him inside. "What about Dan and Kate?"
"They said even if it turned into a marriage of friendship they weren't moving. Hey, Yelina, Ray."
"Looks like you had the bad relationship talk," Ray told him. He nodded. "Could I call Liz?"
"She might welcome it." He grinned and stole his mother's cell phone, taking it outside to call from the porch. Ryan flopped down beside Yelina. "Dessie decided it was a permanent split. Rebecca decided she loved me but she can't live in the same house as me so she's figuring that out. Presley's freaked out."
"Is she getting help?" Yelina asked.
"Oh yeah. Next week she starts OCD therapy." She shuddered. "It's not that bad. It's basically teaching you what you do and why and then makes you see that it's not true, at least for adults it was. He and I had a talk earlier over the phone about what I'm seeing of her rituals. I'm kinda happy it's not numerical ones, which are almost like superstitions, but hers are more sequential. This has to be done so this can be done so this can be done and it has to be done in that order and in that particular manner. I don't think we'll have a lot of problems breaking her of it. Hopefully."
Horatio patted him on the back, walking behind him. "Ray, don't stay on the phone all night," he called, heading into the kitchen. "Ryan, want a water or something?"
"Please." He looked at Yelina. "The kids will get used to it. They got used to me not being there all the time but still being part of the family. They'll get used to having Rebecca gone that way."
"Isn't one of them pregnant?" she asked.
He nodded, accepting the glass of ice water from Horatio. "Thank you." He looked at her. "She and Kate worked that out earlier. Kate decided she's taking partial custody of the baby. It'll be like she had twins." He took a sip, looking outside. Then at his watch. "Ray, she still has a bedtime," he called. He nodded, turning around to continue talking. He smiled. "I think it's cute he's so smitten and good to Liz. Tab's boyfriend is a bit wary of what she's going to do to him the next time he makes her mad. He's been very careful not to." Horatio smothered a laugh. "Go ahead, I did when he suddenly became super fussy man earlier last week." He took another drink and put the glass between his thighs. "She had PMS and he used his whole allowance to fix that for her. Even bought her tampons." Yelina giggled, leaning on his arm. "So she's frustrated because he's now hovering a bit. Amanda got offered a spot at the teen officer camp this summer," he said proudly. "She's not sure if she wants to go or not." He took another drink when Ray Junior came in. "How's my girl?"
"She had been crying but she said it's not your fault. She's blaming the mothers."
Ryan nodded. "That was their decision but it'll get easier in a few weeks. They're still going to have contact. It'll get better soon." He grinned. "If I haven't mentioned it, I like you and Liz. You're very good to her." Ray blushed but nodded before fleeing. "Maybe he should join the track team," he teased Yelina, who rolled her eyes and swatted him on the shoulder. "So anyway." He looked at Horatio. "I was told to offer you the chance to start coming to dinner again. You got brought up earlier when we talked to the kids. They realize that you're not actually taking their places, that you're a friend and a nice person. Though Liz was a bit worried what would happen if we ended up dating since she's seeing your nephew. I reminded her it's not a biological reason and it's not like they're cousins. She decided to calm down about that. Presley looked at her and told her she's got funny thoughts." Horatio smiled and nodded. "But we did talk about you not being a spot poacher as Jacob put it. Oh, my son has a crush."
"Is he cute?" Yelina asked.
"Very and smart. Three years older than him. Gay too so I think that's a good thing. He squeaked at him earlier according to him. He said the boy was very nice about it when he asked him a few gay teenager questions. So I'm also escaping the noise since Jacob's just discovered what his body does recently." She cackled at that. "I take it you remember that week?"
"Oh, yes. Ray wouldn't let me do his laundry and he was always hiding in the bathroom. Then I heard him one night and I made him come stay with Horatio for a week."
"It took him four days to talk to me but by the end of the fifth we had worked it out and helped him figure out what was going on," Horatio said. Ray looked out of the kitchen. "Jacob's just figured out why there's other gay men."
"Ah. Well at least he doesn't have to go far to get the good sex talk, Uncle H." He came out with a cookie, handing Ryan one too. "Here, you could use it. Your daughter said so." He sat down next to his uncle, leaning against his side. "Speaking of, Uncle H and Ryan. Would you guys mind if Liz and I went on a date this weekend? Something nice and simple, like a picnic?"
"Go for it," Ryan told him with a grin. "Let me know where you're going, have a cellphone with you. Respect curfew." That got a happy nod and the boy taking the cellphone back outside to talk to her again. He checked his watch. "She still has lights out in an hour, Ray." He waved. He looked at Yelina. "I'm sorry for your minutes."
"Young love is cute but he'll be getting a tracfone for him to put minutes on soon enough," she assured him.
"I think they've shown quite a bit of maturity," Horatio offered.
"Much, and I'm thankful she's not the skanky little hos he used to lust after," Yelina agreed. "The same as I'm glad you got through to him before one of them made me a grieving grandmother."
"You'd kill the mother?" Ryan asked.
"Both of them once the child was born," she said dryly, making him snicker. "I'm sure you'll get that way."
"Dessie took all the older girls with her the last time she went in for girl exam stuff. They're all on something." She beamed at that. "I said that was good because I wasn't becoming a grandfather this decade. They all agreed that'd be a bad idea. There's a reason the kids want someone else to spank them. Jacob claims I work out so I spank them harder." Horatio smothered a smirk. "He does. Even Presley wants someone else to spank her when she gets into trouble."
"I remember her asking if Kate could when you brought her in for lunch," Horatio told him. Ray came back in. "Homework?"
"More cookies." He grabbed two more and walked back outside to eat them while talking to her.
Horatio shook his head. "It's very cute."
"It is," Ryan agreed. "Let's hope we don't have to use that to ground them sometime. Otherwise we'll see a Romeo and Juliette thing going."
"They're too young without parental consent," Yelina reminded him. "Unless the people at the compound...."
"Seventeen," he told her. He finished his water and shifted, putting the glass back between his thighs, noticing Horatio was watching him. He put it on the floor with a small blush. "Didn't mean to make water rings on the couch, Horatio."
"You weren't, Ryan. Seventeen?"
"For our sort of unions, seventeen, but they still have to go through all the counseling first. It'd be faster if they went to a justice of the peace with forged documents."
"Which one of yours can forge?" Horatio asked.
"My signature? Kate." That got a smirk from him. "She can. She has in the past for things like school forms."
"She's a sensible woman," Yelina assured him.
"The last time she was pregnant she had this recurring thought about being kidnaped and kept by some sheik," he said dryly, giving her a look. "She's a bit strange and likes romance novels. Fortunately we talked about this option earlier and she promised she wouldn't forge my name on the forms."
Yelina smiled. "Thank you."
"Welcome." He gave her a hug then looked at Horatio, who was trying not to smile. "She did. She had this fantasy of shopping and having one ride up to her on a stallion and then snatch her and her flimsy lingerie shopping. That's why she's got so much."
He burst out laughing, shaking his head. "I still like her, Ryan."
"So do I, even if she is a bit odd now and then." Ray Junior came back for more cookies, still talking to his daughter. It was cute in many ways.
Horatio showed up for dinner the first time after a bad day of cases, smiling when Presley pouted at him. "Not happy to see me?"
"Are you going to snatch Daddy back to work?"
"No, sweetheart, it's been a bad day and he said I could come to dinner."
"Then would you like to help me change the dolls around? My therapist said it might help if I can start doing that."
"I'd be honored." He let her take his hand and walk him that way, nodding at the amused looking adults in the kitchen. "She wanted help."
"That's fine," Ryan agreed. "She knows you'll take good care of the dolls with her." That got a smile from Horatio. He waited until they were alone to look at Amanda, who had turned into a hormonally charged girl over everything recently. "Remember, we're still only friends."
She snorted and slapped at his hand. "Dumbass." She walked off, going to talk to Horatio. She smiled from the doorway. "How bad was today?"
He looked at her. "It's best not talked about in front of Presley," he admitted quietly then he went back to helping her.
"One of those days." She came in and gave him a hug. "I know you're not taking Mom's place, Horatio. You couldn't wear her flirty ho skirt." She walked out, going to her room.
He shook his head. "Don't worry, the Mommies splitting off that way made her a bit strange," Presley told him. "She's turned into one of those girls in the books that has to be rescued. Mommy Kate said so." She handed him one. "Beside the blue or the cream?"
"How about beside the cream one," he suggested. "She's got gold in her outfit too and they'd look like they'd compliment." She smiled and put it there, then got another one for him to arrange. He smiled at the relaxing atmosphere. She was good for the bad days. "Did Ryan come home and get cuddles?"
"Yup. He glued himself to Mommy Dan and Mommy Kate and hasn't let them go yet." She looked at him. "Were the bad guys really bad today?" He nodded. She gave him a hug. "I'm sorry they were so mean today, Horatio. It'll get better. You'll make them stop and it'll be a better place when they're in jail." She pulled back to smile at him. "I know you'll make it better because you're a very good officer, like Daddy is." He smiled and smoothed down her hair. "Now, what about the green ones? I used to color group them because they didn't really go together."
"How about we use them to frame the group?" he suggested, moving the two clusters around and then the green ones went on the ends next to ones that had some coordinating stitching or coloring. She beamed at him for that and the rest of the dolls were put in their groups.
Ryan leaned in. "Dinner's in twenty, guys. Clean up?" She beamed at him. He looked. "Good job, Presley. Very good job." She gave him a hug then left them alone. Ryan reached in to help Horatio off the floor. "I'm sorry if Amanda said something stupid."
"She didn't. She said she knew I couldn't take their place because I wouldn't look good in their clothes." Ryan walked off laughing. He smiled, going to clean up as well. It was comforting and soothed his soul after a long day when it seemed like the dark side was going to win. He came out to comfort food and the kids already at the table. "Sorry I took so long."
"They're anxious for dessert," Dan teased. "I made peanut butter pie." He gave him some dinner and then sat down. "We all here?" They all nodded and dug in after those who said grace did so. Dan had to smile, Jacob was giving Horatio's arm a hug. "How's the young man you've been talking to?"
"He said I'm too young for him."
"Didn't he say that he knew a few your age?" Ryan asked. He nodded. "So he's a friend instead of a crush. Sometimes friends are better."
"True. Besides, he's got a lumpy butt." He shrugged. "I can't have good thoughts about that." He stuffed his mouth. "Where's Drew and Liz?"
"Drew is going over what she's helping cook at this month's community dinner," Ryan admitted. "Liz? Not a clue. Horatio?"
"I haven't seen her or Ray Junior," he admitted, pulling out his phone to call him. "Raymond, where are you? Liz is missing dinner." He blinked. "Interesting. Thank you for telling me that. Remember her curfew." He hung up. "They are going to the movies and have had fast food."
Ryan frowned, looking at Kate. "Isn't it a school night?"
"No, tomorrow's one of those holidays the school calls for teacher vacation days," Kate assured him. "I let her go."
"Oh, okay. As long as she's allowed." He ate another bite, reaching over to smooth down Amanda's hair. "Sticking up a bit. Static?"
"Unfortunately," she admitted. "Which means we'll have a storm tonight."
"They happen and we could use the rain," Tabitha said. "I have to announce that my boyfriend has turned into a girl. I told him he had turned into a very fussy girl. He stomped off in a hormonal snit and broke up with me. Though his mother agreed with me since she called to see what had happened. So I'm free again." She ate a bite of dinner.
"I'm sorry to hear that. He was a nice boy for the most part," Ryan told her.
"Who turned into a sobbing, kleenex clutching, pregnant boy, Dad," she told him. "I have *no* idea why, but he did."
Kate frowned. "They can do that? If so, Ryan's carrying the next one."
Ryan looked at her. "We have enough kids." The kids all laughed at that. "You wanted more."
"I remember. I think I had selective amnesia." She frowned but got seconds, digging in again. "Thanks for making it for me, Dan."
"Welcome, dear." He smiled at Ryan. "I can see you pregnant. You'd look adorable waddling."
Ryan licked off his fork. "If that happens, you're in deep trouble."
"We all know it couldn't be mine." He grinned at Horatio, who was blushing. "That'd be your job, Horatio."
"We're not like that."
"Pity." Dan grinned and got to get them all some more, including Horatio.
"Don't pick on Mommy Horatio," Presley said, scowling at him. "He's very nice. Besides, you said daddies couldn't get pregnant when I asked, only mommies. That means it'd have to be Mommy Horatio instead." She looked at her giggling sisters. "Right?"
"He's still a man, dear, and they can't get pregnant yet," Hannah assured her, patting her hair down. "Some days I wonder how you sucked up Dad's odd moods."
"I'm just like him," she said proudly.
"You definitely are," Ryan agreed, smiling at how bright red Horatio was. "She's right. He's still a man and not able to bear babies, Presley."
"Shoot. If you gave him a baby then he'd stay."
Horatio coughed and looked at her. "I'll come over for dinner whenever you ask me to, Presley." She beamed and hugged him then went back to her dinner. He looked at Ryan.
"She said it," he mouthed. "Not me."
He gave him a look and got a grin back. "We'll talk later." The girls all cheered and gave him hugs. "What?"
"You sounded *just* like me," Kate said happily. "At least when I'm normal." They all giggled and finished up, grabbing dessert too go up to their rooms and let the adults have some time alone. Kate got up and went to take a hot bath to give the guys time alone, Dan following to make them clean up the dishes. "I wonder which one shocked him more."
"I think it was the pregnant part, not the Mommy part," Dan soothed, stroking her stomach while the water ran. "Though he would look even more adorable than Ry would."
"It's still a bad thought. Presley is a bit odd now and then."
"Perhaps but she did have a point. I can't be the one to knock up Ryan, or even do the same deed," he said in her ear, making her shiver. "We know Ryan likes it now and then because he lets us play with him. He could use someone like Horatio."
Tabitha leaned into their bathroom. "Dad said to quit plotting. They're still only friends. So, how can we get Horatio to see that he belongs here?"
"We're working on it, dear," Kate said happily, beaming at her. She nodded and left them alone so Kate stole a kiss and got them into the bathtub once they were both naked. It was a nice cuddle for them. Ryan could play with his...friend all he wanted for now. They'd get to play with him later.
Horatio looked up when someone tapped on his office door a few weeks later. "Tabitha. Is there a problem?"
"I need someone to talk to who knows what a fuckup my family really is," she admitted, walking in and closing the door. "I suppose you heard that Mommy Dessie decided on an annulment?" He nodded, standing up to give her a hug. "Thank you. I needed that." She sat down in his interview chair, looking at him. "Mommy Rebecca decided she loved Daddy, but she was being driven nuts by him so they're going to do what he used to do and she'll visit a lot while she works out her funny mental problems. Which has made Presley go off the deep end again. She spent all day vacuuming. Not even Dad could make her quit."
"If you had called, I would've talked to her."
"She said she had to make it clean for you." He nodded once at that. "She has decided that you are coming to visit more often and possibly moving onto the next step, which would be moving in while you did the counseling with everyone." He shook his head slowly. "That means this is a huge problem, Horatio."
"It is. I can talk to her if you want."
"The problem is that anything anyone says makes her cry and Dad hates to see her cry. She'll go from crying to cleaning something else. She's already done the bathroom, the living room, and her room again, plus the guest room and nursery area. She's frantic."
"How about I come over tonight?"
"Would you?" she pleaded, smiling at him. He nodded. "Thank you. Maybe some time and some gentle discussion about how you're not fully ready to move in yet would help her."
He coughed. "I'm really not...."
She held up a hand. "If you outright tell her no, she'll break. I talked to the Prophetess' mothers and they both agreed that humoring her for right now would be better for everyone, especially her."
He nodded. "I can see that point," he agreed. "I'll come tonight."
"Thank you." She got up and hugged him again. "Dinner's early tonight. She's worn herself out. She wore Dad out trying to stop her. Speaking of, they don't know I'm here." He smiled and nodded. "Thank you." She bounced up and headed out, going back to the house to assure her baby sister he was coming over tonight to see her. Presley went to make sure all her dolls were neat for him while the rest of them finished up the cleaning chores she hadn't done yet. It needed to be done anyway and a six-year-old should not be the maid. When Horatio got there, Rebecca opened the door. "Presley!" Tabitha called. "Visitor!"
Presley ran out and leapt at him, making him catch her. "You came!" She squeezed him. "Come help me? I've got two new dolls and they need to be put up."
"If you want, but we need to have a talk," he said gently, carrying her that way. He smiled at the sleeping Ryan, curled up on his side on the couch. "Did you make him nap?"
"He said he needed it." She squeezed his neck. "Bad talk?"
"No, sweetheart, not a bad talk." He walked her into her room, sitting down with her. "Presley, ooh, that's a very pretty doll," he said, smiling at the redheaded doll. She beamed and let him see it closer, letting him smooth down the hair. "How about next to the cream and blue doll?" he suggested. She nodded and put it into place. "You know your father and I work together, right?" She nodded, giving him the big eyed, trusting look. "Well, right now, us being closer than that, or me moving in, would hurt your father at work. That's why I come over for dinner, but I can't stay."
She looked at him. "You can't stay."
"Not yet, sweetheart. It's not time yet. Both of us could get in trouble with our boss. We could both lose our job."
She pouted, staring at him. "But someday?"
"Maybe someday soon," he said, earning a hesitant smile. "When it does work out that way, we'll tell you first, all right?" She nodded, settling into his lap to get a cuddle. He kissed her on the head, making her smile at him and wiggle a bit. "Now, that's only one new doll. Where's the other one?"
She got under her bed and pulled out the box, letting him see her. She was bigger than the other ones and she looked a lot like Ryan really. "She's named Mandy."
"She's a beautiful one, Presley. Where do you want to put her?"
"I don't know. I'm running out of room."
"Hmm." He considered it. "What about in Ryan's apartment? Does he have any room?"
She beamed and got up, letting him carry it for her so they could put it out there. Ryan was woken up by Amanda and followed them out, yawning most of the way. "We're putting Mandy in your room, Daddy."
"That's fine. As long as she doesn't stare at the bed." He smiled at Horatio. "Thank you," he mouthed.
"I enjoy coming over for dinner but we had a talk about how our boss might not like us being closer than we are now and how we could both get in trouble."
Ryan nodded. "I tried to tell her that earlier but she didn't want to listen." His daughter glared at him so he stared back. "Did you?"
"No! He's stupid and mean!" She walked up there, putting the doll in a good spot, behind and slightly off to the side of a piece of art glass statuary that he had set up. "How's that?"
"I like that. It suits her clothes very well," Horatio said happily. She beamed and looked at her father. Horatio sat down and pulled her into his lap. "You understand why I can't move in? Even though you may not like his decisions, we still have to do what he says."
"That's like you getting in trouble for calling people names, even though he might deserve it," Ryan told her when she pouted. She glared at him again. "Keep it up, Pres."
"Meany," she muttered.
"No, if I was really being mean I'd spank you for that." She settled down, clutching the front of Horatio's shirt in one hand. "Thank you. Even though you don't like it and I don't like it we have to do what he says. He makes the rules and he pays me and Horatio both so we have to do what he says. See, a boss is like a daddy in a lot of ways."
"I understand that but why can't he leave you alone?" she whined.
"For the same reason that not everyone understands that people are different and should be allowed to be who they are. Remember, we talked about your teacher not understanding about having more than one mommy?" She nodded at that, putting her thumb into her mouth. "You gave that up years ago," he said, pulling it out gently. "Don't revert."
"Sorry." She laid her head on Horatio's shoulder. "So he doesn't understand?"
"No, sweetheart, he doesn't understand," Horatio told her. "A lot of people don't understand. Some don't understand how two men can be together. Some don't understand how you can have more than one mommy or daddy and love them just the same. Some don't even understand that you can love someone in a good way."
"They weren't taught those things and sometimes they were taught to fear those things," Ryan told her. "Remember when we talked about the parade of people in sheets? How they were angry because they were scared that the other people who weren't like them were better at things?" She nodded faster this time. "It's the same thing. They were taught to fear and dislike anything that's not like their lives because that's what they're comfortable with. It's a hard jump for some people to make." He took her to hold. "That's why Horatio can't move in. At least not for a while. Besides, pushing it before he's ready is wrong. He has to be ready and *want* to move in. The same as he's got to want to be with all of us, not just you and your dolls." He poked her on the stomach, getting a small smile. "Okay?" She nodded. "No more cleaning fits?"
"Babies need things to be clean."
"The house is already pretty clean, dear. You didn't need to pull out the super vacuum and do the nursery." She rested against his shoulder. "Any other concerns?"
"What about Mommy Dessie's baby?"
He smiled. "That's a very intelligent question. You know how some of the kids in your class stay with one parent and visit the other?" She nodded. "We're doing that with the baby. The same as she can visit you guys whenever she wants to. All she has to do is ask us. The same as Mommy Rebecca does."
She relaxed. "Thank you, Daddy."
"Next time, instead of cleaning, we need you to talk to us, Presley," Horatio ordered gently. "That way we can work this out before it becomes a moment of panic or anything like that."
"Yes, Mommy Horatio." She got up and went back to her room. "Dinner should be soon, Mommy and Daddy."
"Yes, dear," Ryan called, waiting until she was gone to look at Horatio. "Thank you."
"She's a special little girl, Ryan. She deserves all the love she can soak up." He stood up. "Would that placement bother you?"
"As long as it's not staring at the bed, I'm fine," he said happily, getting up and following him back over to the house. "Okay, one doll in a good place that matches the decor," he praised, making Presley beam at him. "It does match that glass very well."
She hugged him. "We're having beans."
"We can do that. Need my help?" Ryan asked Kate, who shook her head. "You sure? You were tired earlier."
"I'm pregnant, Ryan. I'm usually tired." She smiled at Horatio. "Make sure she didn't mess up the nursery." They nodded, going to do that with her. "My little girl has very good taste," she muttered happily.
Horatio looked up as someone tapped on his office door. "What can I do for you?" he asked the officer there.
"I've been hearing some disturbing rumors, sir, and I think you should hear them as well," he said, walking inside and shutting the door. He grimaced then faced him. "As much as I think the guys out at that compound are really strange and odd, as much as I don't like their ways, I'm not about to let other people hurt them." Horatio gave him a stare. "Or those who don't live there."
"There's a planned raid?"
"No, sir, there's a planned assault," he said bluntly. "A few officers want them gone and consider them evil."
"Just the compound?" He shook his head. "Is my officer involved?"
"No, sir. He's a target," he said, glancing at the door. Someone was stomping up the stairs. He looked at him when they went back down after seeing the closed door. "I have the feeling that internal affairs wouldn't care until someone does *something* but I'm not going to let them hurt kids. I've never heard that they hurt their kids so I can't participate."
"When and where are things planned?"
"There's a raid on the compound tonight, sir. In about three hours. There's about ten officers that want to go on it." Horatio nodded slowly. "A few more want to slip off during that time and hit your officer and another officer's house. They're not intending to be nice about it either. They want them to leave. One of them suggested burning your officer out so they had to move."
Horatio nodded. "Do you have names?"
"I'd rather not, sir."
"Three hours?" He nodded. "Then I'll handle that. Thank you."
"I wouldn't care if they were hurting their kids or if they were some cult like they had in Texas or somewhere. They don't seem to be like that."
"No, the compound is mostly about being tolerant of everyone," Horatio told him. That got a nod. "Thank you." He nodded. "Do you want acknowledged?"
"They'd get me next," he reminded him.
"Then I'll keep you out of it." He nodded his thanks and left. Horatio started with a call to Internal Affairs. "I just got tipped off that some officers are going to try to raid and destroy the compound, Rick," he said quietly. He nodded slowly. "Exactly. Three hours. At least ten officers are heading that way to destroy them. There's two others who're being targeted but I've got them if you'll send people to stop the others." He hung up and called Ryan back. "Come here now. It's vitally important." He hung up and got up to find the number he had for the Prophetess. Ryan walked in frowning. "There's going to be a raid."
"Shit," he said bluntly. "Just us?"
"Ten officers at the compound, at least a few more at yours and one other officer's residence." He looked at him. "I've told IAB."
"I know the other guy, I'll get him." He pulled out his phone to call him. "Thomas, Ryan Wolfe. Not today, man. Because they're planning a driving us out style assault. Tonight."
"Three hours," Horatio told him.
"Three hours. The compound and us specifically."
"I wasn't told the other officer's name but they appeared sure he was one of you," Horatio offered. "They were talking burning your house, Ryan."
"Yeah, I need you on high alert and to send your family to safety. They're talking a witch trials moment." He nodded. "Decent. Pass that back. I'll tell her in person. Thanks, man." He hung up, looking at Horatio. "Can I count on you to watch the kids?"
"I'll be there."
Ryan nodded. "I've got to call the Prophetess." He looked around. "It's not much time."
"Go," he said bluntly. Ryan nodded, heading out, taking his car instead of one of the hummers. This wasn't official business. Horatio went to tell the others. "Frank?" he asked when he found him waiting in ballistics. "Calleigh, I think we're going to have a problem tonight."
"What sort?" she asked, turning to look at him. She saw the look on his face and groaned. "Someone's going to try to hurt you?"
"Ryan's family, one other officer's family, and the compound."
"I'll help with Ryan's family," she promised, calling Eric on the phone on her desk. "It's me. The idiots we overheard are planning an assault tonight. The compound and Ryan's house." She smiled. "Thanks, Eric." She hung up. "You've got us, Horatio." He smiled.
Frank looked at him. "I'll take the main compound."
"Ryan's headed to tell them what's going on. Their guards don't even carry guns," Horatio told him. Frank nodded, heading out to handle that part. Horatio looked at her. "Please wear your vest."
"Of course." She smiled. "Now, go make the kids play somewhere safer." He nodded, heading out to talk to Ryan's family. She frowned and finished up her current case, then grabbed her vest and her backup gun, making sure they were both clean and loaded before heading out.
Horatio rang the doorbell, smiling at Jacob when he opened it. "It's a problem. Ryan already knows, where's the other parents?"
"Working," he said, letting him inside. "Call the 'rents," he called. "Horatio's here and he says it's an issue."
"No, it's a problem." The older five girls stared at him. "There's some officers who want the compound and you guys gone. Do we have safety procedures?"
Amanda nodded. "We do." She went to start calling. They all had cellphones and they could talk to more than one person at a time with them. "It's us and Mommy Horatio, Mom. Hi, Dad. Yeah, it's important. Because we're about to be taken out. Tonight?" she asked.
He took the phones. "An officer came up to tell me that there's a plan to raid this house and the compound, plus another officer's house, tonight in about two hours." He listened to the complaining voices. "That's why I'm here. Ryan went to warn them, I'm here helping guard them but do we have a plan in place to evacuate the children?" He smiled. "Thank you." He hung up, looking at Amanda and Liz. "Go, now. Call Ray Junior, he can help." She nodded, taking her phone back to do that and get the others ready to head out. He saw Presley's worried look at her dolls in the living room. He squatted down in front of her, smiling at her. "I will protect them if at all possible, Presley."
She looked at him. "They're just things, Horatio. I can get new dolls. I can't get a new you or Daddy. You be very careful so I don't have to stomp someone flat." She kissed him on the nose then grabbed her jacket and school backpack, heading out with Liz. She smiled at their ride. "Hi, Ray Junior's mommy." She got buckled in and the others piled in. Liz would watch her, Jacob, and two thirteen-year-olds with Ray Junior's help. The others would head somewhere safe but close by to where they were going. She waved at Horatio and the others as they pulled off, not sniffling. Even if she wanted to. She was still too young to understand why people didn't like them but she knew it sucked. Ray gave her a hug so she smiled at him. "You hug nice."
"Liz says the same thing," he teased, making her laugh and Liz blush. "You're sure, Mom?"
"I'm quite sure, son." She got them to a safer place and let her mother have them. "The others?" she asked Liz.
"They're going to hang out in public at the mall," she said honestly. "Together. A bunch of the older kids will be there so they're not going to be tempted to fight back if they don't want to." She looked at them. "I know it sucks, but we'll be fine here. Be polite and mind your manners, kids." They nodded, letting her take over. "Thank you."
Yelina smiled. "I have no problem with Horatio and your parents, dear. You're good to him and you make him smile." She patted her on the cheek. "I'm going to help at the compound." She headed off, going to do that. It was nearly time and she needed to be out of the way when things happened.
Ryan parked and got out, looking at his spouses. "Why are you two still here?"
"Grabbing a few last things just in case," Dessie said, looking at him. "The girls?"
"Ray Junior and Yelina took the younger ones," Horatio assured her, getting a smile. "The other girls left in a posse."
"They're to hang out in public but out of the way," Rebecca assured him. "They're fretting and trying on slutty clothes at the mall." That got a nod. "We're done, Ryan." He smiled and kissed them each before they left. She looked back, giving Horatio a hug. "Be safe." She left with Dessie, heading back to her place to store those precious things there.
Ryan looked at him. "You sure you don't want the main compound?"
"Frank and Yelina went," he assured him. That got a small smile. "Did Frank get there already?"
"Yelina and Frank were both making a line with the gates. There's a few others and Stetler's watching what's going on." He heard sirens go past and sighed. "I'm hoping he got his kids out of the way."
"He did, Ryan. If they meant him, their family is fine." He nodded and he smiled at Calleigh and Eric getting out of a crime scene hummer. "You brought a hummer?"
"Yeah, in case I have to run someone over," she agreed happily. She gave Ryan a hug. "Just us?"
"Everyone else is safe," he assured her. She beamed and Eric punched him on the arm. "I can't ask you guys to get shot for this."
"Shut up, Wolfe," Eric ordered. "I'm here because Yelina has PMS and is going to prove it." More cruisers went past, letting them watch the lack of sneaking out that way. "Think the press is going?"
"Yup, by now they've got a chopper," Calleigh reminded him. Ryan nodded, making her laugh. "Your buddy?"
"Probably." He let them into the house, letting them see what was left. He smiled because all the dolls were gone out of the living room and Presley's room. That had been a thoughtful move on the mothers' parts. He heard a crash and whoosh noise outside, going to find the fire extinguisher. Horatio had it and was putting out the molotov on the lawn. "We only have one."
"We won't need another one," he said, handing it back. Someone came screaming up the lawn with another one and he pulled his gun, pointing it at him. "Freeze!" The officer froze, staring at him. "Put it down! Now!" He put it down. "Step away!"
"Two more out back!" Calleigh shouted, heading to fix it. Eric went after her, calling for backup. Someone was going to be missing a badge if it was cops.
Horatio let Ryan cuff the one guy before making sure his bottle of gas and a soaked rag in the top was safe. A few more came and it got down to hand-to-hand with a few but Ryan could beat people just as well as he could. Horatio came out with a fat lip but the house was still standing. Calleigh and Eric called that they were all right when Horatio yelled for them. They brought a few more out and dumped them with the pile of bodies, then Eric went back to patrol the back yard again. Their backup finally came and the Chief got out of the car.
"Sir," Ryan said.
"Son." He looked at the people on the lawn then at them. Then at the burned spot then back at them. "You good?"
"As far as I know," he agreed, trying to stay calm. "My kids are safe." That got a nod. "The compound?"
"It's a mess," he admitted. "But there's about thirty people without badges. Salas, Horatio?"
"Went to guard, sir."
"Figured she was. She's limping a bit. Got a bruised ankle. One of the kids was babying it for her." He looked at the idiots then back at him. "Stetler was out there frisking for badges." Ryan handed over the stack he had found. "Even better." He stared at him. "Is George Ryler one of you?"
"Not that I know of," Ryan said, frowning. "They went after him?" The Chief nodded solemnly. "I'm sorry for him, Chief. Is there anything we can do to help his family?"
"They're fine. A bit singed but the fire department was on watch for these things. They got there within minutes since they're only up the street from his place." Ryan relaxed at that. "So they assumed?"
"He's always going off on the same tolerance bullshit," one of the guys on the ground sneered. "Of course he is."
Ryan looked down then shook his head. "No he's not. He's tolerant because he's a good man. Unlike you." He stepped back. "I won't kick him."
The Chief smiled. "I would. Want them arrested? It's going to get messy, son. They're going to get around to the other officers."
"I think they've done enough of that already," Horatio told him. "Internal Affairs can have them."
The Chief smiled. "That's what I like about you, Horatio, even though you frustrate the hell outta me by never playing politics." He made a call. "I'm at Wolfe's." Delko brought another limp body, tossing it down and walking off. "More?"
"He tried to climb over the fence. I decided he can be weeded out later." He smirked at Ryan. "Nice doll."
"It's Presley's," Horatio told him. "She collects them. She didn't have room for it so she put it in Ryan's bachelor apartment." That got a smirk and Eric went back to his patrol circuit. He looked at Ryan. "He'll give up after a few hours."
"Probably, or I'll let Jacob ask him questions about gay sex." The Chief turned around to laugh, the officers with him coughing and trying not to smile. He smirked. "It's mild torture but very fun to watch." One of the men on the ground moaned. "Shut up before I cave in your skull." He got walked off by Horatio, being sat on the bench beside the front door. "Yes, Horatio."
"Good." He walked back there, nodding at Rick Stetler and his boss when they pulled in. "Did we get them?"
"All eighteen out there," Rick admitted grimly. "This all?"
"So far. Eric just brought one over from the back fence," Horatio said mildly. He felt a trickle of blood and wiped it off. "They had molotovs at first, Rick."
"More stupid them," the head of Internal Affairs noted. He looked at Wolfe. "You breaking any laws?"
"No. The wives won't let me. They get fussy when I mention those things," he admitted dryly. "My wives have out-stubborn Alexx a few times." That got a snort and a look but the two IAB officers got to work on their people. The rest could be arrested the regular way. Calleigh shrieked and someone shot at something. They headed back to where she was, grabbing the person who had fired his gun and Horatio moving her to make sure she was all right. "Horatio?"
"He snuck up behind me," Calleigh said. "Eric?" she called.
"I'll check," Ryan promised, going to check on him. He was knocked out and two officers were in uniform over him. "Oh hell no." He slammed one into the fence and took his anger out on the other one. When the first came back he got him down too. He spat on one, heaving hard. "Horatio! Got 'em. Eric's out." He bent down to check his eyes. "Hey, you in there?" he asked at his groan.
"You're an ugly nurse, Wolfe."
"Not my career," he teased. "Besides, Rebecca was the one with the slutty nurse outfit." Eric moaned at that, letting him help him up so he could wander off and get away from him. Ryan walked into the alley way and took the keys from the cruisers, smiling and waving at a neighbor. "They're being stupid. They're being arrested. It's not a problem." He walked back in, handing the Chief the keys. "Cruisers in the alleyway, sir." He glared at the two they were making walk out to be arrested. "You boys make me ashamed to wear the same uniform." One glared at him. "Want another try at me?" He walked off by force of his handcuffs being pulled on. Horatio got between them. "I know I shouldn't lose my temper."
"It has a time and place, Mr. Wolfe," he said quietly. Ryan nodded, calming down. "Good man. Check the house again." He nodded, starting with his place so he could get a soda on the way through. He came out shaking his head. "Anything?"
"Broken window damaged Presley's doll. A few splots of what looks like paint from the rock they used. It was painted with a badge."
"We'll get her fixed for your daughter." He nodded, heading inside then came out shaking his head. "No damage?"
"Not in the main house." He watched as they were led off to a larger van to be taken in for processing and arrest. He looked at their boss. "I'm sorry, sir. I have no idea why they went so stupid."
"There's idiots in every group of humans, Wolfe. Even in ours. Your kids?"
"Safe, sir. I'll call them back in a bit." He nodded, leaving it with him. Ryan watched them go, finishing his soda, wishing for a beer but there wasn't one in the house. Eric got into the hummer and handed him a can, earning a grin. "Thanks, Eric. I needed that."
"Figured you would." He opened his own but Calleigh stole it. "We only got a six pack," he complained.
"I need one too. I nearly got shot when they knocked you out."
Ryan looked at them. "If you two wanted to sneak off to kiss bruises, we won't mind or care." He walked off at their shocked looks, finding Horatio sitting on the front step. He held out the rest of his can of beer. "It's still cold."
Horatio smiled, taking a drink before handing it back. "Thank you."
"Eric brought 'em." He sat down beside him. "You okay?"
"I'm fine. You?"
"I'm pissed. I want to mash their faces in and make them beg for mercy," he admitted dryly. "Then I want to piss on 'em." Horatio nodded. "Fortunately I have a heavy bag and the wives will want 'making sure you're all right' sex later." He finished the beer and put the can in the small bucket out there. "Think it's safe?"
"Give it another thirty minutes." He nodded at that wisdom. "Did we scan the house for explosives? One of the ones out back was former bomb squad."
"No. Should we?"
"I will," Horatio said, moaning slightly as he stood up and went to do that. He didn't find any, which made him very happy. He came back and found the older kids were back and mobbing everyone, even promising to make dinner for them all. He smiled, accepting his cuddle from Amanda. "Thank you, dear."
"Welcome, Mommy." She went inside, going to help cook something. "Any clean up?"
"My window. They threw a painted rock in and hit Pres's doll," Ryan told her, giving her a hug. "Quit pushing."
"Yes, Daddy." She beamed at Horatio then got back to work. Pretty soon they were feeding their protectors and the rest of the family was on the way home. Frank and Yelina escorted the younger kids. She smiled when Presley went immediately to Horatio for cuddles. "Your stuff's not here, shrimp."
"Rebecca has it," Ryan told her before she could start screaming at anyone. "All but the one in my place."
Horatio smiled and stroked her hair back. "We'll get that one fixed again."
"Dolls are just things, Daddy and Mommy. She can be fixed. You can't be replaced." She gave him another squeeze and went to check her room then came down to get something to eat. She smiled at Yelina. "Your Mommy is very nice."
"She is. She watched Ray while I was at work very often," she said. The others gathered around to make sure Frank and she felt loved and appreciated too. One of the oldest girls flirted with Eric, making him laugh at her attempts but in a nice guy way. She wasn't insulted by it, just practicing as she told her father when he looked at her oddly. It was a good way to relax after the bad afternoon.
Horatio woke up on Ryan's couch, smiling at the girl staring at him. "Couldn't sleep, Presley?"
"Nope. They took my dolly that I sleep with." She crawled in with him, snuggling down on his chest. "Thank you." She drifted off while he patted her back, letting her feel safe and comforted.
Ryan came down the stairs ten minutes later, smiling at Horatio and Presley, asleep together. He took a picture and covered them better, then went back to bed. "Presley went to sleep on Horatio." Kate grinned at that. He snuggled in between them and got comfortable. It was good to be with his family. Even if his alarm did go off a mere two hours later. He came down the stairs, finding them still asleep. He smiled, shaking his head as he went to start the coffee and get ready for his morning jog. He came out and found Horatio staring at his little girl's head. He leaned on the back of the couch. "Not like we mind, Horatio, and you make her feel safer than even I do." He put a cup of coffee down next to him. "I'm going for my jog, it's only six." That got a nod. "Be back in an hour." He went out the back door so he wouldn't wake the kids, putting his sneakers on while sitting on the porch stairs. He jogged out into the alley, noticing the cruiser had been taken off. He jogged off, thinking heavy thoughts. His daughter was pushy. He knew she was pushy. She'd find some way to make Horatio move in before either of them was ready for that. Which neither of them wanted. By the time he came back Presley was tucked in by herself, Horatio had showered and headed home for clean clothes, and the others were up and starting to wander around before school. He accepted his rightful hugs and kisses as they left, smiling at the sleeping one. "Presley, you have school today," he called.
"Bugger off!" she yelled.
Ryan shook his head. She was not a morning person. She'd be a caffeine addict some year he supposed. He went to get her up and make her take a shower. She growled and swatted but went when he made her. She came trudging down the stairs. "Clothes."
"No!" She took a piece of toast and went back to the couch. "Feel nasty, not going!" She covered herself up totally and nibbled her toast under the blanket.
Kate checked her over, nodding a bit. "She's got a fever."
"I'll see if I can be a few hours late," he said with a small smile. She smiled and went to her work for the day. He went to check on his baby girl. He lifted the covers. "Want to sit in the break room today?" She shook her head and stole the covers back. "I can't stay home, Pres."
"That's two and that does count as swearing."
"Mommy wouldn't care," she whined.
He sighed, calling Horatio. "Can I be a bit late?" He smiled. "Because Pres has a small fever and is swearing at me. Told me to bugger off twice." He laughed. "Yeah, not a happy camper. Thanks, Horatio." He hung up. "Put on clothes. We're doing paperwork all day and you can be at my desk."
"I'll puke on the bad guys."
"Then they won't do it again, huh? Get dressed, Presley." He went to do the same thing, coming down in something comfortable. She came down in a sweater vest and a skirt. He smiled. "You're so my daughter." He walked her out to his car, taking her to work for a while. If she felt better later, she could go to school then. He walked inside and signed her in, getting a smile. "Small fever, swearing. Just easier this morning." He headed for the stack of paperwork on his desk, nodding at Eric. "Paperwork?"
"In triplicate on most forms," he admitted, taking Presley to hug. "Doing his paperwork for him? Why are you warm?" He called Alexx. "It's me. Ryan's littlest is in and she's got a fever, Alexx."
"She wouldn't go to school," Ryan admitted. "I thought her sitting here and curling up in my chair would be okay. Horatio said so." He took her back, sitting her in his desk chair. "There." She took the jacket out of his bottom desk drawer to put over her head and snuggled in again. He pointed when Alexx came up, making her smile. "That's how we know she doesn't feel good. She kept down toast this morning even though she threatened to puke on the bad guys." Eric snickered at that. "She told me to bugger off too." He gave him a look, getting an innocent one back. "Don't teach her foreign swears, Eric." He smiled at Calleigh when she came in. "Tired?"
"Couldn't sleep." She sat down to tackle her paperwork from last night too. "Frank was growling at his paperwork. Now I know why."
Alexx finished looking at the hiding one. "She'll be sick for a while, Ryan. It looks like tummy troubles."
"She crawled in to sleep on Horatio last night," he admitted quietly.
She smiled. "She knows who's the most comforting." She patted him. "Baby tylenol."
"Not a baby," Presley complained.
"Fine, Children's Tylenol," she corrected, smiling at him. "Plenty of water and juice. Stick with simple food." He nodded. "Good daddy." She walked off, going to warn Horatio in case he had caught it. "Presley has the flu."
"I figured it was something like that. Is she growling at his paperwork too?"
"No, she's hiding her very cute sweater vest and skirt under his jacket so she can nap." He smiled at that. "You might offer her your couch."
"I won't be up here all day and I don't want to leave her alone in the lab."
"Agreed." She walked off, her mothering kick for the day managed and over with. They'd come to her if they needed more help.
Ryan peeked under his jacket. "Want a snack?" She shook her head and swatted at his hand until it let the jacket back down. "Okay. Let me know." He went back to the forms, rubbing the cramps in his hand. Stetler stomped over. "Before you say anything, she's got the flu. Alexx verified it and Horatio said I could do this today since I've got all this lovely paperwork from you." He looked at him. He saw his daughter peeking out. "Want some water?"
"No thank you," she said weakly, covering her head again. "I'll puke on the bad guys later, Daddy."
Stetler smirked. "At least she didn't try it on me." He took what he had filled out, nodding at it. "Thank you. Do the rest." Eric and Calleigh handed over theirs. "Delko, medical clearance?"
"I'm fine. Horatio agreed I didn't need any as long as I felt fine and it wasn't a concussion. If I start to feel sick too, I'll go see Alexx like a smart man." Stetler rolled his eyes and walked off, going to gather more forms. He looked at Presley then at Ryan. "She's dressed like you."
Ryan beamed. "She helps me pick out my sweater vests," he said proudly.
Eric just shook his head. He knew there had to be a reason Ryan wore those things. Now he knew. He watched Presley turn and find the trash can to get sick in. Ryan picked her and the can up, taking her to the bathroom to get sick in there.
"Now we know why he wears them," Calleigh said once they were out of range. Eric snickered but nodded. "I think it's cute. They could've matched today."
"I can't see Wolfe in a skirt. I really don't want to either, Cal," Eric complained. Horatio came over, giving him a look. "She's the one who said they could've matched today."
"The longer you play the longer the paperwork lasts, kids. Presley?"
"Puking," Calleigh said succinctly.
He went to get her some water and bring it to her, making her give him a weak smile. "I hear your tummy hurts," he said.
She nodded, hugging him. "I feel like doggy crap. Like someone should scoop me up, Mommy." She let him pick her up. "Can I go hospital now?"
"I don't think you need it but I'll get you some tylenol during lunch," Ryan promised.
"I'm going to be in the office for a few more hours. She can have my couch until lunch, Ryan." He smiled at that and they went to tuck her in up there then Ryan ran out for tylenol for her. Horatio read the dosage when the bottle was handed over, giving it to her. Then he got back to his paperwork while she napped. It would help her flu more than anything else. Stetler leaned in. "She's gotten sick," he said quietly.
"Someone heard her call you Mommy," he sneered.
Horatio glared at him. "Shut up, Rick." He looked shocked. "She's a very loving little girl. Leave her alone." He visually checked her then got back to work. "I'll have mine done by lunch."
"Good, then we can do the debrief this afternoon."
"The officer who told me doesn't want pointed out."
"I'm not worried about that. I need a good timeline for the prosecutors." He walked off again, going to find Wolfe. "From now on, stay home with her."
"Then I'd miss out on doing all this fun paperwork for another day," he said dryly, holding up another form. He snatched it and stomped off. "You have a good day too, Stetler."
"I don't think anyone's wished him one of those since he came down to nag Speed that time after Dispo Day," Eric said dryly, giving him a look. "Though he did it with a shiteating grin and a one-fingered salute."
"I can't correct Presley if I do it myself," Ryan shot back, giving him a look. "That'd make me a bad role model." Eric snickered at that. He heard his daughter scream and hopped up to check on her, finding others had run up there. He picked up Maxine and moved her out of his way, catching her when she wobbled. "Sorry." He walked in and slammed the door, taking her from Horatio. "Nightmare?"
"Nightmare," he agreed.
Ryan sat down, cuddling her. "Presley, baby, it's just a bad dream," he soothed.
"Mommy, want mommy," she sniffled. He tipped her face up. "Daddy!" She hugged him around the throat. "I have nightmares."
"I know, baby. It's all right. They're only bad dreams and we still love you. Nothing bad will happen to you that we can't fix."
"Not me. The Prophetess. She got hurt last night."
Horatio smiled. "Caring about her makes you a good young woman, Presley," he soothed. "She's fine though. She only got a sprained ankle and a bonk on the head. Eric got that much." She sniffled and transferred herself to his arms, letting him comfort her. They got her calmed down and back under Ryan's jacket.
"They've called for a community dinner tonight," he said quietly, smoothing over her hair. "We'll go so you can make sure she's all right, Pres." She nodded sleepily and let him kiss her on the head. "Think you can nap some more?" She nodded, yawning some. "Good girl. No more nightmares. Remember, they're like bad guys and they can't get in here to get you." She smiled and snuggled in again, letting him stand up. "Thanks, Horatio."
"It's not a problem, Ryan."
"Want to go to dinner?"
He smiled. "I'm eating with Yelina tonight. She asked last week."
He grinned. "That's fine. It'll keep the busybodies from nagging on her behalf." Horatio laughed and he walked out. "Guys, just a nightmare. She's fine. Thank you for rushing up to cuddle my youngest when she's got the flu." That got a few grumbles. "Not like we don't have paperwork all day." He headed back to his desk, then decided to bring his forms up there, making Horatio smile. "She's my girl, it's not fair that you're hogging all her attention." He settled in at the foot of her couch and got to work there on the forms he had to do. Horatio went back to his desk and Maxine brought in some tea for him. "Thanks, Max."
She kissed him on the head. "You have a very special girl, Ryan. That's for her tummy when she wakes up." He grinned so she left. She went back to her lab, calling the morgue. "Alexx, I left Presley some tea for her tummy troubles. Ryan said she had the flu. No, she had a bad nightmare and brought us all running up to Horatio's office." She grinned. "Yup. So they're both in there with her and the mound of paperwork. No, she still looked flushed. Thanks." She hung up and gloved up again, getting back to work. "His little girl is so cute!"
"She's still a child," Natalia Boa Vista complained. "She shouldn't be here. Someone should be at home with her."
"He would've been but he had all that paperwork from the assaults last night," Calleigh said as she walked in. "Presley all right? Ryan never came back."
"She had a nightmare. He's filling out the forms at her feet."
"Oh, that's sweet." She grinned. "I still like how she calls Horatio mommy." Valera gaped then burst out giggling. "It's cute."
"It so is," Valera agreed happily. "Done with your stack?"
"Oh, no. It'll be tomorrow before I'm done. I'm checking on results while I wait for my hand to uncramp. Did we find anything on my last case?"
"Nada. Sorry," Valera told her, shrugging a bit. "I ran it everywhere."
"It's not a problem. Thank you." She went to gather other reports then went back to her paperwork while she went over the case in the back of her head. "The poor thing had nightmares," she told Eric. "Ryan's filling out his stuff in Horatio's office."
"That's the mark of a good father," he agreed. "Even if he should've stayed home."
"They probably couldn't let him after last night." She smiled at him and got back to her work. She was happy that Natalia had quit trying to poison others against Ryan finally. It was a good step in a positive direction for the friendships in the lab to go on.
Eric strolled off. "Hand cramp break too?" Valera teased, handing him something.
"Yup. I forgot how to sign my name a minute ago." He read it over then scowled. "He wasn't even a suspect."
"Sorry, but that's who the blood came from, Eric."
"Not your fault," he promised, heading to find that case file and put it in there. Stetler gave him an evil look. "I'm taking a break so my hand quits cramping."
"Get back to work. You can do that later."
"Victims over paperwork," he sneered back. He saw a little blur go running and headed after her, smiling when she went into the men's room. "Presley?" he called before walking in. The guys in there gave him an odd look. "Wolfe's youngest has the flu and he's doing mounds of paperwork." That got a nod and one of them pointed at a stall. "Hey, Presley?" He heard her heave again and grimaced. "You all right?"
"No! I want a bad guy to puke on since I'm doing it anyway," she called. "Please?"
A few of the guys in there snickered while they finished up and headed out.
Ryan walked in with the rewarmed mug of tea. "Thanks, Eric."
"Not an issue. My nieces and nephews do the same thing. Though she wants a bad guy?"
"She said she wanted to puke on the bad guys for me," he said with a grin and a shrug. "I think it's sweet." He went into the stall to help her, coming out to wet down a papertowel and going back to wipe her face off for her. Eric left and he stayed with her until she quit and could sip some of the tea. "How's that?" he asked gently.
"Still sick, Daddy." She let him pick her and her tea cup up to carry back to the couch, waving weakly at Alexx. "Hi, Auntie. No bad guys this time either. I should pout."
She smiled, following them up there. "You can puke on the bad guys some other time, Presley," she assured her, checking her over. "Did we give her tylenol?" Horatio nodded, looking up. "Her fever's up."
Ryan looked at Horatio. "We're going to the ER. Tell Stetler he can come hand me the paperwork at home." He picked her up and walked her out, taking her out to the car so they could go to the hospital. She whined but a look stopped that. "If you're that sick, you need to see the doctor."
"So?" she demanded. "Mommy Kate isn't!"
"She's expected to throw up and she sees one every month." He drove her to his favorite ER, parking and getting out with her. He smiled at the receptionist. "She's puking and her fever keeps going up. I've given her tylenol. Her pediatrician is in the Bahamas this week."
"We can work her in." She let him fill in the forms. "Your stepchild?"
"Her mother's decision," he said dryly. "I yelled for weeks." The nurse gave him an understanding look and a nod, pointing at an area. "Thanks." He sat down with her, letting her cuddle on his lap for now. They were called fairly quickly, not much happened this time of day except work injuries. The nurse took her temperature and got puked on, so he helped her to the sink and held her while she got sick there. "I've given her tylenol and we had some water and warm lemon tea earlier. This is the third bout of vomiting. Our ME said her fever went up from earlier today after the tylenol."
"We can handle a bit of the flu." She wiped herself off and came back once the dear one was done. "We'll have to run some bloodwork. Will she fuss?"
"Like it's the end of days," Ryan assured her. He made Presley look at him. "Stare at me. Let her do the blood stuff." She opened her mouth. "Stare at me. You know the breathing exercises." She huffed but went over them while the nurse pulled some blood and headed off again. He grinned. "Good girl. I'm proud."
"Thank you, Daddy." She rested against his side again, feeling really miserable now. The nurse came back to check her fever again, finding it had went back up. "Am I sicker than the tummy upsets?"
"It's not uncommon on the first day you have the flu, dear," the nurse assured her. "It'll take about an hour for the bloodwork to run."
"She can nap in here," Ryan told her. The nurse gave him an odd look so he pulled his badge. "She was in my desk chair and my boss's office for a while but she's having nightmares too."
"That's fine, Officer. We'll let you two stay in here." She went to make note of that and change clothes quickly, keeping an ear out on them. She heard her getting sick a few more times, grimacing but making notes of it. The pediatrician on staff finally got there. "Looks like an extreme bout of the flu."
"I saw his name in the paper this morning," he said grimly, heading in there. "Officer?" Ryan looked up from smoothing a hand over her hair. "I saw the paper."
"I've still got paperwork to do from stopping the idiots," he agreed. "She wasn't there. She was with a friend's mother."
"That's fine. The nightmares?"
"Probably. The puking started this morning. Though she did get up around four and went to crawl in with a friend who was staying over because she couldn't sleep."
"Mommy Horatio," she mumbled.
"Yup, him." He grinned. "She's my daughter."
"I understand. Why did that happen?"
"Because the assholes decided that being tolerant was a bad thing," he said bluntly. "Sometimes people have funny ideas about us."
"Ah, us. That explains why you."
Ryan nodded. "When I was younger." He looked at his daughter then at him again. "Still has nothing to do with her puking her guts up. Unless you think someone poisoned her?"
"No, the toxicology doesn't show any food poisoning or other poisoning," he admitted, looking at the chart again. "It does show a slightly elevated white count, other indicators that it's the flu." He nodded at that. "Has she kept down fluids?"
"Some but her fever's still going up. It's went up from earlier." The doctor came over to take it, grimacing some. "Exactly. Plus she started to throw up about ten and went three times before we got here."
"That's a reasonable precaution. Her own pediatrician?"
"I wanted to go to that conference too," he admitted with a small smile. "Is she generally healthy?"
"She's generally a dynamo of activity with a touch of OCD now and then. She's picked up on mine through the years."
"Ah. She's in treatment?"
"Yup," Presley said, blinking at him. "You have a halo."
"What color is it?" he asked.
"Purple and orange. The lights are too bright in here."
"It's so we can see injuries more clearly," the doctor explained. She gave him an odd look. "Someone a long time ago decided that the lights should be too bright." She nodded, closing her eyes again. "The nurse said she's thrown up four times since she's been here?"
"Yup, once on her shoes," Ryan said quietly. "She kept saying earlier she wanted to throw up on a bad guy so she said she wanted to apologize to the nurse."
"She's used to it," the doctor promised with a small smile. Someone walked in boldly. "The mother?"
"One of," Rebecca admitted. "What happened?"
"Looks like the flu," the doctor told her. "We're a bit worried about her fever."
"Worried enough that we're admitting her or worried enough that Ryan's worrying?" she asked. "He does fuss."
"She's went from 99 to 103 since this morning, even with Tylenol," Ryan told her.
"That's worried," she decided, smiling at him. "So, doctor?"
"I'm going to give her some medicine to help her fight the nausea." Presley shook her head. "I'm not?" he asked with a grin.
"The green nasty stuff made me puke a few months back," Presley said grimly.
"That's right, it did." Ryan looked at him. "She went to General that time. We were in the park and she bit her tongue while puking so we weren't sure if she was puking blood or if it was from her tongue. It made her puke green and red swirls."
"Interesting," the doctor said, making a note of that. "We have some other alternatives. We'll do that instead. How about that?"
"No shots?" Presley asked, sounding pitiful.
"No, one's a shot but it works very well," he told her. "It's only one needle, Presley." She grimaced and shook her head. "The other stuff might make you vomit again."
"Then I'd get a bad guy in here so I can puke on them," she said bluntly, curling up around her father's hand. "Mommy, make him not give me a shot?" she whined.
"If you need a shot, you're getting one."
"Meany," she said, glaring at her.
"Hey!" Ryan said, glaring at her. She settled down. "Thank you. We'll talk about that later." He looked at the doctor, who was looking amused again. "This morning she told me to bugger off when I tried to get her up for school."
"She's a strong little girl." He went to get the shot and brought it back, injecting it before he warned her. She yelped but he cleaned the area. "There, that should help. We'll let you stay in here for another hour to make sure." They nodded. "Should we expect anyone else?"
"Mommy Horatio?" she asked, looking at Ryan.
"He's got more paperwork to do and has to tell others what happened this afternoon. So I don't think he'll be able to come to the ER to visit but you might be able to talk him into dinner tomorrow night." She pouted. "He promised Yelina he'd eat with her tonight."
"'Kay," she said, looking miserable. "Mommy?"
"I'm here, dear. The others will see you at home." She nodded, snuggling in around her father's hand again. "I can handle this if you need to get back to work, Ryan."
"No, I got most of the paperwork done," he said with a small smile. "Besides, I had her with me earlier. Maxine made her tea and everything." That got a smile and a nod and the doctor left them alone. "Really. I know you've got to work today."
"I can blow my job, Ryan. You can't."
"I'm fine. She was on Horatio's couch and in my chair before then." He gave her a kiss. "It's fine." She nodded, pulling a chair over for both of them so they could soothe their poor thing.
Ryan called Horatio before he left for the day, getting put on speaker. "Boss, sorry to say but Presley's in the hospital. The shot they gave her made her puke worse. They're not bringing down her fever and they're admitting her overnight. Sorry about the rest of that paperwork."
"It's fine, Ryan. Where are you?"
"Dade. She's up in pediatrics. She's sucking up the attention greatly but it's fine. The nurse got puked on again. The doctor too. She apologized since they weren't bad guys." Horatio chuckled. "We're fine and I should be able to make it in late tomorrow."
"Take tomorrow off," Horatio said. "She'll need you."
"Thanks, boss. I'll let you know tomorrow if they let her out. She sends her love and a pout since you couldn't come for dinner tonight. She'll try to talk you into it later this week when she can eat again."
"That's fine. Have her talk me into it," he promised, smiling some. "Tell her I said to get better and I'll try to pop around tonight." He smiled, hanging up when Ryan did. He looked at Stetler. "See he ran out for a good reason."
"I suppose." Yelina walked in. "Wolfe's daughter is in the hospital."
"Couldn't quit throwing up?" she guessed. Horatio nodded. "Poor baby. We can stop there on the way home, Horatio. I know she loves you so you'll cheer her up." He smiled and nodded. "Are we still on for me ordering dinner?"
"I can wait, Yelina."
"No, come over. Ray Junior needs some male guidance. He's been thinking strange thoughts. He was wondering if the people who didn't used to wear underwear were less comfortable this morning." Horatio snickered. "So he needs a male influence tonight."
"I'll be over once I've visited her." She smiled and left them alone. He looked at Rick. "Did they lose their badges?"
"All but one. He claimed he was coming to help the people defending the compound. He convinced the Chief of that with his wife's help. He's under scrutiny but he's clear." That got a nod. "Was she poisoned?"
"I'm sure Ryan checked that first," he offered. That got a nod and he left. Horatio got up and straightened himself out, making sure he had everything so he could leave for the day. Maxine got in his way, giving him an expectant look. "They admitted Presley because they couldn't stop the vomiting or her fever. She's in Dade."
"Poor thing! I'll pop around tonight." She gave him a hug. "You looked like you needed it and I'm having warm fuzzies from her earlier. She might even be enough to make me want to have one some decade." He smiled as he walked around her, knowing she was going to tell the others. She went right to Alexx. "They admitted Presley."
"Poor thing. Couldn't get it stopped?"
"Nope. Or her fever. Horatio said she's in Dade."
"I'll pop over tonight to make her feel better." She smiled. "Go tell the others, Maxine. That way she gets a lot of love to help hr feel better." She beamed and went to do that while Alexx finished up her last autopsy and got ready to go home.
Horatio's boss walked into his office a week later, turning and closing the door before looking at him. "You have some very strong young women around you, Horatio."
"Should I assume Calleigh's said something or someone else?"
He smiled, handing over the letter he had received. "I got that this morning in the mail." He sat down. "I understand why you two told her I wouldn't agree. I talked to Drew when she and her eco-group came in for that conference earlier."
Horatio hummed. "She made some very logical arguments. For being five it's very well written." He paged Ryan to come to his office then handed it back, smiling when Ryan knocked and came in. "Your youngest is very well spoken."
"Usually. Now and then she has problems finding the word she wants to use." The Chief handed over the letter and he blinked, reading it. "My daughter's going to be an excellent public speaker," he said dryly, handing it back. "Sir...."
"I know why you said you'd have problems with me, Officer Wolfe. For the record you don't." He smiled. "I showed Drew this morning when she was in for that conference with the city." Ryan beamed at that. "You have some very strong daughters."
"I hope they stay that way, sir. Thank you. I'll talk to Presley again tonight."
He stood up. "Don't bother. Tell her she convinced me. That way she'll quit making herself sick from the worry." Ryan looked stunned. "Kids that age worry about a lot of things. You've seen her OCD getting worse I'm assuming?" He nodded slowly. "Then work it out. Even if you and Horatio do end up getting together it's nothing that I'd care about. I can keep Stetler out of your panties too, Officer Wolfe. Work it out between you two. Just remember that Horatio cares very deeply and had better not be hurt." He walked out, leaving them to talk. If Horatio could get his mouth to close sometime this week.
Ryan coughed, looking at Horatio. "Feeling a bit pushed?" he finally managed to ask.
Horatio cleared his throat then nodded. "Just a bit."
"You do fit very well in the family. They do love you. I think you're a nice guy." He shrugged. "I don't know, Horatio. I'm leaving it up to you but I'll make sure Presley doesn't worry about her letter causing more harm." Horatio smiled at that. "Come over for dinner soon." He walked off shaking his head, going to talk to Maxine. He pulled her out into the hallway, giving her a look. "My youngest is a brilliant person. She wrote the Chief a letter to explain why it wasn't a bad thing to have Horatio move in," he said quietly. "Made a very good argument. So good it convinced me."
She gave him a hug. "It'll be okay, Ryan. She's a brilliant little girl on a mission." She smiled at him. "That good?" He nodded. She giggled. "Did she have help?"
"No, she was working on something in the hospital but wouldn't let me see it. I figured it was a journal her therapist had wanted her to work on." He shook his head at Eric when he looked at them as he walked past. Then he looked at her again. "She's a beautiful girl. The Chief said she and Drew both were because she was down for that conference this morning."
Natalia leaned out. "What did your kids do this time?"
"Convinced others that I should have someone else too." She moaned, going back into the lab and shutting the door. "Definitely not you, but someone else." He looked at her again, getting an evil smirk. "Behave."
"Why? I'm going to have fun with it." She kissed him. "Be a good boy, Ryan, and work it out. We think you're adorable together." She went back to work, smiling at her counterpart. "Presley wants Horatio to join them more often because he understands her."
Natalia shook her head quickly. "I didn't need that mental image, Max!"
"Oh, hush! They're cute together." She got back to work. Eric leaned in, giving her an expectant look. "Presley wrote a letter to the Chief to convince him that Horatio and Ryan would be good together. Ryan said it was very persuasive and reasonable."
He snickered. "His daughter's a kicker." He looked around then back at her. "Apparently Horatio didn't get the hint when Calleigh knocked him out?"
"Apparently not. She knocked him out?" Maxine asked.
He smirked and nodded. "Then returned him home like he was a runaway dog." He walked off to tell Calleigh and Alexx that since they were together. "The Chief got a letter from Presley. A very persuasive letter from Presley."
Alexx giggled. "She emailed it to me for a proofread." She went to pull it out of her email account and let them see it. They both stared then smiled at each other. "She's well spoken for being almost six."
"Very, I didn't reason that well until I was nearly ten," Calleigh told her. "And my daddy's a lawyer."
Eric patted her on the back. "Ryan said she's brilliant."
"Apparently the boys aren't." They looked at each other, then grinned at Alexx.
"Keep me out of any mischief," Alexx ordered. "Tell me how it went so I can laugh and giggle, but keep me out of the mischief."
Calleigh beamed. "I think we can do that." She walked off planning and plotting how to get those two together again. She smiled at Ryan and Horatio since they were going over a report in the halls.
Ryan looked at Horatio once she was out of hearing. "Should I hide?"
"With that look on her face, it wouldn't help," he sighed. "I'll try to head her off before I end up unconscious on your front step again." He went to talk to her. "No plotting," he ordered from the doorway. She laughed and pinched his cheek then pushed him out of her lab and shut the door, locking it with a happy smile. He mentally groaned. She was in full evil thought mode now. They'd have to be very careful until it was out of her system again.
Horatio got the nicely printed invitation to go to dinner and smiled. "Calleigh," he sighed. He was sure wooing a male was different than wooing her, but she was still acting like they were dating her. Which was nice he supposed. It was a nice restaurant. He had enjoyed eating there in the past. Though he would have to figure out who paid since she had invited them. He caught Ryan's eye on their next shared scene, pulling out the invitation. He got a smirk and a head shake then the younger man got back to work. So he hadn't planned it. Well, it could be a nice date. By the time they got back to the office, Horatio found someone had broken into his house and pulled a suit out to hang in his office, along with a different pair of shoes. He decided to have a talk with her. "Calleigh."
She smiled brightly at him. "Good afternoon, Horatio."
"Breaking into my house for a new suit was a bit much. I could go home and change."
She pinched him on the cheek. "You'll be here late tonight because of the meeting but I have no idea what you're talking about."
"You lie horribly," he warned.
She giggled. "I'm sure you think so." She walked around him. "Have fun with the meetings."
Horatio scowled at her back. He couldn't fault her choice. "Do not get me clothes again. I'm more than capable of dressing myself, Miss Duquesne," he warned.
She giggled and turned around. "Then you wouldn't be wearing that shirt with that suit, Horatio. It doesn't match." She turned and walked off again.
Ryan came out of where he was hiding. "I don't know why...." he said dryly. "Broussard's?" Horatio hummed and nodded. "She had Drew bring me a suit. We should spank her."
"She's trying to be nice," Horatio said, looking at him.
Ryan grinned. "Yes, but her plotting gives her this sense of false power and then she'll try to push others around with it. It'll get messy when Eric has to spank her later." Horatio walked off laughing. It was good to see him laugh. It looked good on him. Ryan went back to complaining to his daughter about which suit she had chosen. It made him look like a dork.
The kids decided they had to wade in on this relationship and sent their best weapon. Presley ended up on Horatio's doorstep thanks to Ray Junior and his girlfriend. Then they disappeared.
Horatio opened the door at the knock. "Presley, what are you doing here?" he asked, picking her up to hug.
"You weren't there and I needed a cuddle." She beamed at him. "So I talked someone into bringing me here for nighttime cuddles."
He sighed. "You don't have to push."
"Do so," she assured him happily. "Because you're still here." She kissed him on the cheek and cuddled in. "I should bring some of my dolls here. They'd look very good here. Especially the green ones."
He laughed, shaking his head. "Fine, we'll go to your house tonight." She squealed. "But we're still not ready to move me in," he warned.
"Are so. You're being stubborn and that's Daddy's job," she said firmly, staring him down. "Only he's allowed to be that stubborn. Therefore you have to give up soon, Mommy Horatio. Otherwise you take his job and he takes mine then I have nothing to do but fuss over my dolls."
He burst out laughing. "That's a very good argument, Presley. I still live here until we've worked out some other issues." She pouted. "We're working on them."
"I'd like a nice new mommy. One that cuddled and understood me. Mommy Kate is helping the girls get tarted up and I can't help with that. I'm too young," she said. He nodded. "So I don't have anyone to talk to but my brother and he's a boy so he doesn't understand me at all."
"We'll talk about it later," he promised. He grabbed his shoes, keys, and other things he'd need to rush home in the morning, taking her out to the hummer. "Can I trust you without a safety seat tonight?" She beamed and nodded. He buckled her in so he could get in to drive, taking her home. He tapped on the door, listening to Ryan complain most of the way about how it had better not be a boyfriend.
"Only yours, Daddy," Presley said happily.
Ryan gaped, then pointed. "Grounded."
"Meany." She clung to Horatio's neck. "I didn't hitchy hike this time. I had someone drive me over. I needed nighttime cuddles." She gave him her sweetest smile. "Besides, he's taking your job being the stubborn one and you're taking my job and that leaves me without a job and without anyone to play with because Mommy Kate is busy tarting up the others and I can't dot that yet. She said I had to be able to date before I could do that."
"You're still grounded, Pres." He pulled her over but she brought Horatio. "Let the nice man go," he said impatiently.
Horatio walked inside, giving him a look. "She apparently got Ray Junior to bring her over."
"Then I'm feeling the urge to ground some other kids." He smiled at Horatio, then glanced at her. Horatio shrugged so he took a kiss. "I was in the middle of talking to the new baby." She cheered and wiggled down, running off. "You're still grounded, Presley Andrea Wolfe!"
"Yes, Daddy. Kiss Mommy Horatio again!" she laughed.
Horatio sighed, shaking his head. "They're very focused."
"They get it from me," Ryan joked.
"Among other things." He smiled at him. "I can head home once she's in bed."
"She'll hunt you down and next time you might end up in your handcuffs," he said dryly. "Want the guest room?"
"If you want."
Kate came down and hauled on Horatio's arm until he was drug behind her. "There's no need to make up the guest room. We're all snuggly and the kids are determined so we should probably talk once they can't hear." She heard Ryan moan. "You can talk to the baby later, Ryan."
"Yes, dear," he sighed, locking the door. He made sure everything else was locked, including the sliding door. He walked into his daughter's room, glaring at her. "You are in such trouble bringing your sister over there and dropping her off."
"We weren't that far off. We knew he was home," she protested.
"I do not care, Liz!" he assured her. "You're in deep shit. To say the least you're grounded for the rest of the month." She pouted. "Doesn't work for Presley, won't work for you," he assured her. "She could have been hurt and you left a door open." She pouted worse.
Dan walked in and drug Ryan off. "We'll decide if there's more punishment in the morning, dear." He slammed their suite's door, looking at Ryan before gently kissing him. "They're trying to help, Ry," he said gently.
"They dropped Pres off!"
"I know and she probably thought it was a great adventure," he reminded him. "Or she decided it and got them involved. You know she's just as stubborn as you."
"She said that was Ryan's job, to be stubborn," Horatio told them with a small smile. "I was being too stubborn so I was taking his job, he was taking hers while he got bored and stressed out, so all she could do was fuss. Plus she said my place could do with a few of her green dressed dolls."
Kate giggled and nodded. "I can see that." She kissed him. "Come cuddle in and we'll talk, boys. It's about time we talk anyway. The kids are trying very hard."
"Them, Calleigh and Eric, Alexx," Ryan said dryly, coming over to get his rightful cuddles. "Everyone's very pushy."
Horatio gave him a hug. "It's because they think we're well suited and even each other out, Ryan."
"We're both very intense," Ryan reminded him. Kate shivered and moaned. She got a grin. "That way too I'm sure. Though I haven't tested it." Dan laid down behind Horatio to cuddle him. "We should talk." Horatio nodded and yawned. "Does it make you unhappy, creeped out, anything like that?"
"It took some thought but it seems to work for you," Horatio told him. He smiled. "I'm not sure I could share my lover that way. I'm very possessive."
"This way you could get possessive over all of us," Kate offered happily. "I could use a good possessive pounce."
"Forgive her, it's that part of the pregnancy," Ryan told him, reaching behind him to swat her. She moved his hand for him. "Kate!" he said, looking shocked. "We haven't even gotten to the point of talking about sex."
"You're uptight," Dan teased. He kissed the back of Horatio's neck, earning a shiver. "We think he'd make a good spouse for us, Ryan. We agree with everyone else. Get with the program or be locked together in a motel room naked all weekend."
Ryan looked over Horatio's shoulder at him. "That's evil even for you."
He smiled. "Thank you. I'm getting it vicariously from Kate."
Ryan moaned, shaking his head. Horatio kissed him gently and he gave it back, letting himself wrap around his new spouse. It was set in his mind. All Horatio had to do was agree. He moaned as he pulled back, staring at him. "Thank you."
"Welcome." He smiled. "We still have to talk. I'm not ready to jump into anything yet."
"Talking can be fun but can you please make Ryan behave for a bit? I can't wear him out that much," Kate said happily.
Ryan gave her an odd look. "You nearly killed me last night, Kate. Yes you can."
"No we can't. The toys were taken by Rebecca." Ryan hid his face in Horatio's shoulder. "So, how do you feel about newborns and talking to them?"
He smiled as he reached over to pat her on the stomach. "Hello, little one." He stroked it gently, watching her moan, shiver, and shift before she finally took his hand to move where she needed it to go. He blushed but she was having fun so he looked at Ryan, who shrugged. "Are you sure?"
"She needs it." He got out of the way, letting Horatio have Kate to play with for now while he played with her back and teased her mercilessly. She was squealing and squeaking, wiggling around between them. She finally got off and sighed in pleasure, starting to snore a minute later. "See, she needed it," Ryan teased. Horatio blushed but smiled back. "We share each other, Horatio. You'd be married to all of us, not just me." He kissed him and climbed back to play with him. "Dan?" He got a sleepy grunt. "Want to have Kate's belly?" Dan rolled over them so he could cuddle him while he and Horatio had some gentle, teasing fun together. It was a good start and it was comfortable to let Horatio hold him. A bit too comfortable. He could get used to it very easily. So maybe the kids were right to press. "Move in?"
"Let's move up to sleepovers first," Horatio offered gently. Ryan smiled and nodded, taking a kiss. "Sleep, Ryan." Ryan snuggled in and let Horatio hold him. He smiled down at the sleeping man and the rest of the family. They were dear to him. He wasn't sure he was ready to be part of this large, insane family but he'd give it a try.
Ryan looked at the smug children the next morning. "All of you who helped get Presley to another house in the middle of the night is in deep shit," he announced. "For the rest of the month you're all grounded." That got a mass groan.
"But, Dad, I have that meeting and the garden stuff," Drew complained. "I wasn't even *here*!"
"Wasn't that past curfew?" Kate asked her.
"I was sleeping on Uncle Mark's couch, Mom."
"Any other protestations of innocence?" Ryan asked dryly, staring at his children. They knew better than to lie to him. "Then if your alibi checks out, Drew, you're free." She smiled. "You're not to bring them treats or anything. Am I clear this time?"
"Yes, daddy. No matter how well they bribe me this time I'm not bringing them anything."
"Thank you." He sipped his coffee and looked at Presley, who looked very smug. "He's still not ready to move in but he might spend more nights over." She cheered and got up to dance around, making Horatio join her by grabbing his hands and yanking. Kate belched. "The baby not like the eggs with maple syrup?" he teased.
"He liked it quite a lot but we were making room for more." She took his coffee and toast, going to sit down and eat.
"I still have to work today, guys," he protested.
Horatio smiled. "Isn't it your day off?"
"I ended up trading the day Presley was sick with Eric."
"Hmm. Who's the new girlfriend?"
"Not really sure. All he said was playmate." He shrugged. "So I'm on today." He looked at the despondent older girls. "It's only the eighth. I could make it all next month too." They talked over each other protesting that they were happy with their punishments. "Good. By the way, Ray Junior's going to be grounded too." He smiled at the daughter dating Horatio's nephew. "I'm sure his mother is just as mean as I am."
"Probably worse," Horatio admitted. "She'll swear at him in Portugese for hours when I tell her." He smirked at Ryan. "In front of others. Last time he was stupid, she took off a high heel to beat him in the middle of the precinct."
"That's my kind of woman," Kate teased.
"Mom, I like Ray Junior too much to even consider the incest possibilities if you decide you need another wife," Liz told her.
She cackled. "I love your filthy mind, dear."
"Good. Now all I need is an outlet for it for the rest of the month."
Presley smiled at her. "You can help me clean the nursery so the baby doesn't have to deal with dirt."
"I can probably do that too," she admitted. Presley beamed and dug into her breakfast again. "You do realize school's out, Dad? That we'll be around the house all day and all night if you keep us grounded that long."
Ryan snickered. "Nice try but I only give it a three." He smirked. "Remember, we can always make you babysit while we take Horatio on dates."
The older three girls pouted. That wasn't fair! They wouldn't get paid for it since they were grounded.
Horatio checked his watch. "I have to run home and change."
"I'll see you at work," Ryan said with a grin. "Happy commute."
"Hmm. Not hardly." He headed to his hummer then came back inside. "For some reason the hummer is missing."
"Really?" Ryan asked. "Is my car out there?" Horatio shook his head. "Is Dan's car out there?"
"Possibly. There's a blue station wagon out there."
"That's mine," Kate told him. "Looks like you're taking me to work and then bumming the car, Dan."
"I've done it before," he promised. He finished his breakfast and left the dishes. Presley was to load the dishwasher in the mornings. She hopped up to do that.
"Finish eating then do the dishes, Presley," Ryan said gently. She nodded, nibbling while she worked. He looked at Horatio. "Think someone called us off too?"
"Probably," he admitted, calling his boss. "Sir, it's Horatio, the hummer was repossessed?" He listened to him detail the work going on with it. "It didn't need the oil replaced yet, sir." He held his head. "That leaves us short since Ryan traded for Eric.... Oh, I see. He did." He'd have to kill Eric later for touching his hummer. "If I can ask, what other plans have been put into place?" He listened to him hang up while laughing. "Eric drove my hummer, Calleigh has your car. Both are being detailed, waxed, and having the fluids changed at the police garage," he said, putting his phone up. Kate snickered. "Also, we have all weekend off."
"Cool," Ryan said with a grin. "Fishing trip?"
Horatio smiled. "You like boats?"
"I don't mind boats but I know a good lake where you can fish and not catch a single thing. Except maybe an alligator."
Horatio laughed. "It might be a nice day for it. Go check the weather, I'll get a cab home to change. Be back in a little over an hour?" Ryan nodded so he went to do that while Ryan went to watch the weather.
Kate grinned at the kids. "Some day we want you guys to have that."
"I have it but we're all grounded," Liz protested.
She patted her on the head. "Don't worry. Some day you'll marry a nice boy, maybe even him."
She gave her a look. "Still in school, Mom. That would make Dad flay the skin off my body if I did that."
She considered it then grimaced. "Probably," she agreed. Then she smirked. "We'll see what we can do about the grounding." Dan shook his head. "We can," she pouted.
"They left Presley on Horatio's doorstep. No we can't."
"Fine, I'll try without you helping me by softening Ryan up," she assured him.
"More power to you," Dan quipped with a grin.
Ryan came out of the living room. "I can't be softened that far, sorry," he said as he walked past Kate. "Nice try though, give the dirty thoughts a five."
She pouted. "I'll try harder later."
"I'm sure you will," he agreed. "We're going fishing."
"Bring me back some flowers," Kate called. "The baby wants to nibble some."
"If I can find any," he agreed with a small sigh at the end. He knew she was planning something evil but he'd have to see what she had planned to make him forget or cancel the grounding before he reacted. She got a bit odd when she was pregnant.
A few months later, Horatio looked up from doing some late paperwork, smiling as Ryan came in. "Done?"
"Finally." He handed over the case file. "Should be fine to only be proofread." They both smiled at Yelina when she walked in. "Hi."
"Have you seen my idiot son recently?"
"Because I called the house and his cellphone. No answer."
Ryan called his house. "It's me, where's Liz? Yelina's looking for Ray Junior." He heard Dan ask Kate and Kate giggle something about how romantic they were being. "Dan, is she having one of those 'a sheik is going to kidnap me while I'm lingerie shopping' moods?" He groaned, holding his head. "Check her room. What was she wearing when she left." He wrote that down and listened to Kate pout that they'd be fine. "I'll handle it when I get back, Dan. Don't scream at her," he said gently. He smiled. "Thanks." He hung up. "Liz walked out wearing sensible, comfy clothes and a full backpack, stopping to get a few sodas."
"Please tell me they're on a midnight picnic," Horatio begged.
"Probably not with what Kate was complaining about." He looked at Yelina. "There's going to be a hole in someone's ass later on for forging documents." She growled. "We need to get to the airport, see if they've gone already."
"We can do that," Horatio said, getting up and heading after him. "Wait here, Yelina, we'll get the kids."
"Save some of his mangled corpse for me," she called after him. "Only I get to kill him, Horatio."
"Yes, ma'am," Ryan agreed, hurrying faster. "I don't know why Kate does this when she's pregnant."
"It's got to be the hormones," Horatio told him. They got into the hummer and headed off, lights going. Someone would forgive them for it later. They made it to the airport and parked, heading inside to security. "Two children, both late sixteen, were here to board a flight, probably to Las Vegas." The guard snickered. "They're going to die once we get them home," he assured him, pulling out pictures.
"Yeah, I was manning the metal detector. We hit on him for GSR but he explained it as his Mom's a cop and took him target shooting recently." He handed them back. "That was a little over an hour ago. Let me check the cameras, guys." He ran the cameras back to that time, finding them boarding. "Looks like they boarded about twenty minutes ago." He checked the board. "They've already taken off too."
"Thank you," Horatio said. "I know someone on the other side who can capture them." He walked out, pulling out his phone to look up a number he had stored a long time ago. "Catherine, Horatio Caine." He smiled. "I know, I only call when it's work related. This time isn't fully work related. No, my sixteen-year-old nephew and his girlfriend are on a plane heading your way with forged documents." He listened to her burst out laughing. "Not funny, Catherine. Please. Can someone stop them? I can fax pictures. Sure, we'll be on the next plane out. Thank you." He hung up and went to get them seats on the next flight out, then called Yelina once they were headed for security. "It's us. We're heading after them since they're already on a plane to Vegas." He gave Ryan a nudge and the pictures to go fax them, writing down a phone number. That got a nod and he went to do that. "No, I've called out there and someone's going to stop them for us, Yelina. Don't worry, I'll save you some of his ass." He hung up and kept walking showing his badge to security.
"Family. My underage nephew just caught a flight to Vegas with forged documents and his girlfriend." Ryan joined him. "He's the other father." They looked at their ID's, boxed their guns for the flight, then let them go through. Really, they didn't want their guns in hand anyway. Not until after they had landed.
Catherine Willows stared at the debarking passengers, staring at the two who obviously caught sight of her. "Don't even try it, kids." The girl moaned. "Tough." She walked them off, letting them get their bags. They had a nice waiting area here and she knew what flight Horatio and Ryan were on. "What forged documents?"
"Is pregnant, Horatio sent me a text message with the full explanation," she said dryly. "She forged them?" She nodded, letting her see. "Kids, you're too young."
"We're not really that young," Ray told her. He took her hand to hold. "Besides we know we're going to be good together."
"You're still sixteen," she reminded them. "You can't support her yet. You'd have to drop out of school."
"We could go live on the commune with the others and they'd help us while we went to school," Liz told her.
She looked at her. "Commune?"
"The cult that Miami supposedly has is really more of a very tolerant commune."
"Oh." She nodded. "And you're from there, dear?" The girl nodded. "Does Horatio know this?"
"Yeah, he's dating my parents."
Catherine shook her head quickly. "I'll think about that later. For right now, you're staying here while we wait on your parents. Horatio and Ryan caught the next flight out." They both groaned and slumped. "So you're in deep and I hope you're wearing kevlar underwear."
Ray grinned at her. "Won't help, my mother likes to use her shoe on my head." Liz elbowed him. "She will."
"Should've thought of that before you did this," Catherine told them. She got up to talk to the security guard hovering. "I stopped them. Their parents are on the next flight from Miami. They're both the kids of CSIs."
He nodded. "Good luck with that." She glanced in there. She was in the only door opening, they hadn't escaped yet. "I'll tell the guards on that gate to send them this way, CSI Willows." He called that over. They had at least three of these a year so they had plans in place for very angry parents. These two, they'd have to keep the guns they checked away from them at first. If they were reasonable, they'd agree with it.
Horatio got off the plane and saw the stewardess waiting at the end of the ramp. "Ma'am."
"Lieutenant, the captives are in the security area. The guard over there will escort you and the other father."
"Thank you." He walked that way, Ryan silently following. "You did catch them?"
"Last I heard we had them, Lieutenant. By the way, we're keeping your gun for a bit."
"Perfectly reasonable," he assured him.
Ryan shook his head. "Over too soon to use it on 'em. Beating them will be more satisfying."
The guard laughed. "Don't do it where we'd have to turn you in to CPS, sir." He walked them into the security section, nodding. "Two parents."
"Thanks. Willows took them to the bathroom," the guard in there called. The girl burst out crying and wailing so they went to calm her down." He led them that way, finding Catherine knocked out. "Shit."
"My nephew is in such trouble," Horatio said, kneeling to check her. "Catherine? Catherine, are you all right?"
"Your nephew is a dead boy when I find him," she mumbled, blinking at him. "Nerve pinch."
"Well, he's clearly not Vulcan with this stunt," Ryan said, helping her up. "Any idea which way they're heading?"
"Hmm. I think so. Only two places in the city will do an underaged ceremony. They had good forgeries." She walked them out, waving off the guard. "Don't worry, they're desperate and stupid kids."
"Does that mean my daughter's pregnant?"
"I have no idea," she admitted. "She didn't do any of the usual tells: rubbing her stomach, turning down food or drink, telling me, knitting."
"If she's knitting the world would end," Ryan joked. She smiled at him. "Okay, we'll let you navigate?" They got their guns and a rental car, which went on Ryan's card since Horatio had paid for the tickets. "Which way?"
She wrote out two addresses for them. "Go there, guys. They're at one of them." They nodded and headed off, letting her get back to work. She called Gil on the way to her car. "It's me. The kids knocked me out and escaped. No, but there's two furious parents hunting them, Gil. He didn't ask for an APB. He's not using the system to track them. I gave them where they'd probably be and let them go. Horatio wouldn't kill him where we'd find him anyway." She smiled. "Oh, no, if this was my child, you'd all be sitting on me and I'd still be screaming, fighting, and ready to kill her, Grissom. There's *no* way my daughter would live through this. I'd get her when you guys thought I had calmed down." She smirked. "Exactly. Hopefully she has more sense than that." She hung up. That fight would be legendary and they'd tape it so she could use the pay-per-view funds for her defense attorney.
At dawn the next morning, Horatio calmly knocked in the door of the motel room the kids were in. They had missed them at the wedding center. The motel's owner had told him to go ahead and kick in the door. So apparently someone understood.
Ryan strolled in first, looking at the kids. "I'm going to kill you both."
"No you won't," Liz said happily. "Mommy Kate called my mom and she agreed."
"I don't care," Ryan told her. "You are my daughter and I did not." She sulked. "Ray... Why don't you go with your uncle?"
"Um, because she's six weeks pregnant?" he suggested. "I'm doing the right thing by her."
Horatio walked off before he started to scream and yell. The owner of the motel gave him a soda. "Thank you, ma'am," he said quietly.
"They defending it?"
"I'm doing the right thing by her," he said, taking a drink. "I needed this." He walked back in there, letting Ryan have it. "Raymond, get dressed," he ordered calmly. "Now."
"Yes, Uncle Horatio."
"Yes, Horatio," Liz agreed, scurrying to do that in the bathroom. She leaned out. "Do I call you Uncle or Mom?"
"We'll figure that out if you live," Ryan told her. "I'm leaning toward not."
"You know, you two could bond out here. There's some that do gay bondings, Dad." She ducked in again when he glared. She had felt that glare burning her. She was in so deep. She'd call her mother but her phone was in the other room. Ray kissed her and she smiled, relaxing into him. "It'll be okay."
"Probably," he agreed. He finished dressing her then kissed her again. "Come on. They're probably telling the mothers." She took his hand and walked out there with them. "Should we call the Moms?"
Ryan snorted. "No, son-in-law, they're going to kill you in person." He smiled sweetly. "In the car." He watched them repack the things they had brought, following them. He nudged Horatio. "Want to head home?"
"I do," he admitted. "But I'm not sure I want to be on the same plane as them when Yelina hears. She might bring it down."
"No maybe about it, Horatio," Ryan joked. Horatio gave him a look. "Really. No maybe about it."
He hummed and sighed, nodding a bit. "True. I'll have Frank handcuff her before we take off."
"You could go see what they can do for gay bindings," Ray suggested.
Ryan glared at him. "We have ways of doing that, Ray. We're doing them our way. I don't need a quickie marriage." They both blushed at that. He looked at Horatio. "Want to drive or scream?"
"Let me call Catherine first." He called her. "It's me. We finally found them." He smiled. "Doing the right thing. Thank you, Catherine. You have a better day." He hung up and walked around to get in and drive. He could drive and yell at them at the same time, he was very talented that way. Ryan got in to scream at them all the way back to the airport. It was a long ride. Not long enough but they had the flight to browbeat them during and then all the time they needed in Miami.
Frank Tripp hung up his phone and looked around his scene. "Alexx, I need you and Calleigh back at the station with me as soon as you can."
"Why?" Calleigh asked. "Is there a problem?"
"Horatio and Ryan called off today to stop the two kids who were dating. They went to Vegas. They're doing the right thing."
"Oh, shit," Calleigh said, going pale. "Yelina's going to kill them and us!"
"We're going to corral and contain her while they land so she can't take down the plane. Horatio's orders. It's a three hour flight." They nodded and hurried up with their work. Alexx was muttering about stupid kids. Frank was considering how best to contain the nice, pleasant, Portugese woman who would rip them to shreds to get to those kids. "Handcuffs?"
"Might help," Alexx told him. "Wouldn't if it were my kids, but it might help."
"Can you sedate her?" Frank asked.
Alexx looked at him. "I deal in dead people, Frank, not living ones." He snickered and nodded at that. She got back to work. "Okay, let's move her." She let her body handlers have the body and followed them back to the van. "I'll see you back there. Should I find her?"
"She's with Eric on his scene."
"I'll call Eric and tell him to bring her back." She patted him on the arm. "I'll have muscle rub and bandages when it's time." She got into the van and called Eric. "Without telling Yelina, we need you two back at the station within two hours time, sugar. Yes, it's important, no you can't tell her. She'll guess and you'll be bruised or hurt. Yeah, about them. Please." She smiled. "Frank got a call from Horatio." He nodded. "Thanks, Eric." She hung up and headed back to see if there was an emergency sedative on hand at the station. You never knew what was in some of those emergency kits.
Horatio walked the kids off the plane, signing for their guns while Ryan held them in cuffs. He headed out, getting them into the hummer, and then back to the station. Yelina liked to make punishments this severe a public spectacle so no one else got any bright ideas. He sighed when he parked in his spot, looking at Ryan. "Make sure they can't run."
"I'm glad the back doors lock for inside passengers," he said dryly. "I heard Ray try the door handle on the highway."
"It wouldn't have helped him any," Horatio reminded him, glaring at his nephew. "You did it, you pay for it."
"I'd like to see my kid grow up, Uncle H."
"Then you should have thought about that earlier, Ray." He slunk down. "Out. Now." Ryan got out and let them out, letting them follow them inside. A few cops gave them inquiring looks. "Yelina wants her son to talk about his trip to Vegas," he told the first one. That one put out a general call and nearly everyone fled the squad room and most of the lab came running to keep Yelina from killing the kids. He unlocked the cuffs once they were standing in front of where Yelina was handcuffed to her desk chair. "I almost expected you at the airport, covered in Frank's blood," he joked.
"Over much too soon," she said calmly. Ryan got her free and the two men got out of the way. She stood up. "What did you think you were doing?" she asked her son. Liz opened her mouth. She held up a finger. "I'll kill you in a minute."
"The baby might not like that," she said quietly, staring her down. "A total accident, Yelina. I swear it was."
Yelina looked at her son. "Is this true?"
He nodded, looking grim. "I'm taking responsibility for my actions and doing the right thing, Mom. Besides, I love her."
Everyone in hearing distance stepped back another step. Yelina had drawn in a breath and was slowly letting it out. "Yelina, remember, you can't kill them for real," Horatio warned.
"Shut up, Horatio! Yes I can." She glared at her son. Rick Stetler unwisely grabbed her arm to pull her off. She took it out on him first, beating him down to the floor then kicking him. Then she went *off* on the kids, screaming in a mix of Portugese, Spanish, and English while they wilted and tried to defend themselves. Her son ended up with a few new bruises and so did Liz. Ryan came over when she paused. "I'm not done with them yet."
"Okay. We're going to be yelling as a family in a while if you wanted to save some of it for that."
She smiled at him. "They'd take my time." She rounded on the kids again. "How dare you!" she finally spat.
"What? You wanted me to be a baby's daddy like my father was?" Ray finally said, staring her down. "I'm not like the sperm donor, mother, I take care of my kids." She stepped back. "I don't care if you don't like it! Yay! If we have to, we can move onto the compound. I'm taking care of what's mine."
She stared back. "This is not over with, Raymond."
"Obviously, but she needs to rest and eat, Mom. She's fragile and I'm not going to have you screaming at her again. This was your only chance. Now get over it!" he snapped.
"Ray," Horatio warned in a cool voice. "She is still your mother." Ray glared at him. "Do not give me that look. If you had told us, we would have helped you. You didn't. You did things without telling us, without even letting us know. You've made some very bad decisions recently. Even if the main one is a good one, the rest were terrible, nephew. For that, you should be beaten."
"I'm not going to be like my father."
"Good," Ryan agreed. "That means you won't cheat on my daughter. Doesn't get you out of running to Vegas." He slumped. "Good foundation, sloppy carpentry." He looked at his daughter, who was pale. "Sit your stupid ass down!" he snapped. She sat, looking at him. "I'm so disappointed." She burst out crying. He glared at her. "We will be talking as a family in a bit, children. If you try to run again, it will get worse and we will have this relationship annulled. Am I clear?" They nodded. "Good. Then we'll talk about it staying valid later on. For now...."
"Send them to my house," Horatio ordered.
"Go to his house," Yelina agreed.
"I can do that," Ray promised. He looked at Horatio. "I won't do more than cuddle her."
"Thank you. We'll get you in a few hours, after we've talked." They nodded and hurried off. He came closer, looking at Yelina's hands for bruises and broken bones. "You dislocated your thumb again," he said quietly.
"It felt too good to hit them to care," she said simply.
"I so wanted to pull my belt and beat them both," Ryan said. He looked at Yelina, then at Horatio. "We should call a family meeting. Yelina?"
"Definitely." She looked around, passing over Rick's groaning body. She found the Chief of Detectives and the Chief of Police standing there. "They ran off to Las Vegas because she's pregnant."
"I don't mind the reason, Yelina, but beating them here and beating Stetler was wrong," the Chief of Detectives told her. "You've got three good, long days to scream at them at home." She nodded, accepting the punishment. "Horatio, Ryan, I take it you're taking the day off?"
"Please," Ryan agreed.
They nodded and waved them off. "Take it out of the station, boys," the Chief of Police ordered. "Don't kill them. It'll set a bad precedent for the others then they'll never come to you when they think they might be pregnant."
Ryan gave him an odd look. "I'm having the rest tested tonight," he assured him, getting a laugh from Horatio, and a gentle head shake. "Yes I am! Then I'm going to spank their mothers." He walked off, going to head home to send the other kids somewhere else for a bit. Presley pounced him for a cuddle, cooing in his ear. "I love you, Presley. Don't be like Liz, okay?" She nodded, clutching him. "Shh, it's all right."
"It's not, Daddy, you're very mad." She pulled back to look at him. "You shouldn't be mad."
"I should be mad at a few people," he told her. "You're not one." She smiled. "Liz is in deep trouble, so get the rest of the kids for me please?" She nodded and got down, going to gather them for him. He sat down, looking at the wives when they came in. "Kate, I'd run."
"Oops." She ran off. "I'll tell Dessie you want to talk to her later."
"Much later. When I'm calm!" he shouted after her. He looked at Dan. "Not in time."
"Why did they do it?"
"Doing the right thing," he mouthed. Dan shuddered. He nodded. The other kids filed in. "We need you guys to go play somewhere else for most of the day." They all gaped. "Your sister Liz is in such deep shit, she's bordering on being put against the wall in the garden and being beaten to death." Presley gaped. "We don't want you guys to have to hear us scream and rant. So go find a friend to hang with today. Stay in contact every few hours. Let us know if you change location. Presley, why don't you call Tommy up the street, see if you can hang out with him today?"
"He has chickie pox, Daddy." She snuggled into his lap again. "Are they okay?"
"They won't be when we finish yelling at them," he said, giving her a squeeze. Horatio walked in. "For those who didn't know, Liz decided to run off and get married last night." The older girls all gaped in horror. He nodded.
His son raised his hand. "Dad, are you all right?"
"No, son, and Horatio's here because he has handcuffs too." His son nodded quickly. "Which is why we don't want you guys to have to witness this."
"I can bring Pres with me, Daddy," Drew promised. "I'll go bother the Prophetess about the garden and stuff." He nodded, kissing Presley and handing her over. "Come on, guys, they need to scream and take the blood out of the rugs later. Then we can see if we can plan a party." They all nodded, going to grab things and let Dan drive them wherever. She stopped at Horatio. "Should I send the Prophetess over later?" she asked quietly.
"I don't know yet."
"My nephew decided to take some responsibility."
She gaped. "She's pregnant?" He nodded. "Oh, shit," she muttered. Horatio nodded again. "Okay. Um, I'll tell the Prophetess, Daddy."
"Thank you, Drew." They headed off last and he relaxed, looking at Horatio. "Kate and Dessie are hiding too."
"I'll talk with them later as a concerned uncle," he said, sitting across from him. "I checked on them, they're asleep."
"That's fine. I'm tired too." He yawned. "We'll handle it, Horatio. We have other things, we will this." Dan came back with Yelina in tow. "Hey."
"Hi." She flopped down next to Horatio. "I can't fault him for taking responsibility, for not wanting to be like his father."
"You can for not telling us. If they had told us we might've tried to talk them into terminating but I doubt I could have," Ryan told him. He pulled Dan into his lap, cuddling him. "You're nearly as good as Presley to cuddle," he teased.
"Thank you, Ry." He smiled at him. "They were trying to do the right thing."
"Doesn't suck that they did it this way."
"I know." He stroked over his hair. "We'll see what we want to do. Yelina, do we want to keep them together?"
She considered it then looked at him. "My son was adamant that he's not like his father and he'll be taking care of his future child."
"Which I applaud," Horatio agreed. "If he had turned out like Ray or become a baby's daddy I would've killed him before you had the chance, Yelina. I taught him how to be a man better than that."
"You did, he shows your moral code," Ryan said with a small smile. Horatio smiled back. "So what do we do?"
Yelina considered it. "I'd rather have them together. Would that cause problems for you, Ryan?"
"No. They can have my apartment out back." She smiled at that. "They will be staying in school. Liz has a very bright future and I won't have my kid end up on welfare." They all nodded at that. "Ray too. He's going to need a good education to be able to support his new family."
"I agree," Yelina told him.
Horatio smiled. "We can agree on that much. What about punishments for running off?"
"Being married is a punishment at their age and I'm sure they're going to find out how much of one a baby is too," Dan said quietly. "You don't get to do the same wild things you did when you were single. No more wild parties, no more going out clubbing." He got a squeeze. "I called Rebecca since she wasn't in on this. She said she wanted to beat the kids too."
"She's still part of the family," Ryan agreed. "We're having a fully family meeting about that. They can come later when she brings Kate and Dessie out of hiding so I can beat them for helping the kids plan it and not telling us. Are we that scary?"
"Yes, I am," Yelina said dryly, looking at him. "I'm very proud of it. It kept my son from doing something even stupider at a younger age." Ryan snickered at that. "What about the compound?"
"If she decides to join, they'll have to redo their vows for them. It would give an unbiased, non-family counselor to talk out their future problems with."
The phone rang and Horatio got it. "Wolfe residence." He listened to Eric. "That's fine, Eric. No, we're down to rational discussion while the kids nap at my place. Thank you. Keep me informed." He hung up. "They took Rick to the ER for stitches, Yelina. He said he's not going to press charges."
She snorted and shrugged. "He got between me and my son. Even if we were dating I would have beat him for that."
Horatio nodded. "It was very satisfying when you did too," he said with a grin. She hit him playfully on the arm.
Ryan's phone rang. "What?" he answered. He smiled. "No, I want him out of the house, Dennis's mom. Liz snuck off to Las Vegas last night." She shuddered, he could hear it. "That's why we wanted all the kids to go to their friend's houses today. Can they hang out?" He smiled. "Thank you. No, if Dennis is grounded, he can hang with someone else, don't worry about it." She said he could stay then hung up. "She's bending her son's grounding to let my son take refuge with her."
"She's a formidable woman," Dan teased. "She'll bring Liz and Ray back if they try to hide with him." He gave him a kiss. "It'll be okay. We'll make them miserable for this without making their marriage miserable." Ryan smiled. "When should we call them over?"
"They were sleeping when I came over," Horatio said.
"They probably went at it like bunnies in the motel room," Yelina complained.
Ryan smiled. "I told the motel owner why we were hunting for them. He told Horatio to kick in the door." She giggled and nodded at that. "Handed him a soda when he went to get some air at the pronouncement of 'we're doing the right thing'."
"No wonder you had Frank handcuff me," she said, looking at Horatio.
He gave her a gentle hug. "I knew it was possible you could've taken down the plane."
"No, I'd miss you." She shook her head. "You should be cuddling over there, Horatio. Don't make me beat you too. Or Ryan if he makes you cry."
"I'd never do it on purpose," Ryan reminded her. "I'm not like that."
"No, he's usually a very confused husband who lets us nag him and overrule him," Dan said with a grin, getting a smile back from Yelina. "Anyone want some coffee or anything?"
"I'll get it. Ryan needs the cuddles," Horatio told him, getting up to get them something to drink and nibble. They'd have to make plans on how to go at the kids when they got them up.
Horatio climbed in with Ryan later that night. They were in the guest room since Dan wanted to browbeat Kate for helping the kids. "Hi."
"Hi." He kissed him and snuggled in. "I need to go jog."
"You need to relax."
"I can't relax. I'm still full of energy."
Horatio kissed him again. "Let me help with that." Ryan looked at him. "We're ready to move onto that step." Ryan smiled and nodded so Horatio got to please him in many wonderful ways until they were both sleepy.
Dan snuck back to his room after checking on them. "Awww. They're so cute." He climbed back in bed. "He'll be spanking you tomorrow."
"He can't, the baby could be hurt."
"Not with how Ryan does it," he reminded her. She pouted. "Go hide behind the Prophetess, Kate. She'll protect you."
"No, Drew called. She's furious at Liz but she'll protect you."
"Then I guess I should." He kissed her and cuddled with her, making her calm down. "I was trying to help."
"You get funny ideas when you're pregnant, dear." She nodded, letting him please her for now. She fell asleep on his chest and he looked up at the ceiling, praying to his personal God that the family be all right. He didn't need this stress right now. None of them did. Ryan's moan from up the hall made him smile. Well, maybe the family would be fine. It had a strong leadership and a loving one that would kill to protect everyone in it. Horatio was a good mate for them and made Ryan do sappy, happy things. So it'd be fine. Eventually.
"Daddy, do the squealy, baby making noises mean I can help Mommy Horatio move in?" Presley yelled from her room.
Dan and Ryan both groaned. "Soon, Presley," Horatio called back. "Go back to bed please." She laughed but slammed her door and did that.
Yup, he'd fit in just fine with their insanity. Just another member of the Wolfe clan.