Note: based off the 2000 version of the movie, the one with Winnona Ryder in it. Someone on the Imaginings list wanted to see a Master Vampire Horatio and a Hunter Xander....
From Ages Past
Horatio Caine looked at the briefing sheet in front of him. "Why haven't we seen this before?" he asked, looking at the agent in front of him.
"Because we think it's a multi-city serial killer," he admitted. "We've managed to catch the person doing it in the other cities. He was in custody until he killed himself. Set himself on fire one morning before breakfast. Couldn't take jail I guess," he admitted. "So we know it can't be the same guy as did the others."
"Interesting. So you've been gathering for us?"
"Until about three weeks ago, you hadn't had one in six months, Caine. Then you had one three weeks ago, on the same day our guy barbequed himself. We've talked with the profilers and they said it's the same personality, probably a copycat, but they said you should be able to handle it since it's localized in this case. We can keep going on it ourselves, but we know how much you hate us in your city."
Horatio looked up, nodding. "I'll handle it."
"Good. I'll have the rest of the files sent over. Oh, one of the profiler geeks called a friend who's seen this particular type of sicko before. He talked him into coming down to help you if you need it. He'll be here tomorrow."
"We shouldn't need it," he said firmly.
"Tough. It's this guy's life's work or something. He's liaisoned with at least seven other departments to make them solve their own stuff. If you want to ignore him, that's your thing, Caine. All I know is that my bosses agreed it was a good idea." He shrugged. "I'll have the files sent over. Anything else you'll need?"
"No, that should be fine as long as they have the victim specifics and profiles." The agent nodded, leaving him alone in his office. He muttered a swear word in a long lost language, reading back over the summaries. There was a vampire killing young people in his city. He would not stand for this. He got up and went to talk to his ME. "Alexx," he called as he walked in. "Don't be so happy to see me," he said when she smiled. He handed over the summaries, making her frown as she read.
"I'm assuming it's not you," she said dryly, handing them back. He gave her a look. "I haven't seen any new ones or you'd know. Maybe the Feds went through dispatch to get those instead of our team? Maybe nightshift? I can check and see if we did the autopsies or they did."
"Thank you. There's a further complication. There's some scientist here to help us find them."
"Do you need help?"
"There are hundreds of the other sort in town," he said grimly, glancing around. "There's no telling who this person is."
"I'd find that out first, see if he's part of the problem."
"With my luck it's one of those idiot Watchers," he complained.
She stroked over his arm. "Relax. They don't believe your kind exist," she reminded him. "You're safe. That one incident a few years back in Tunisia proved it."
"Good point. Thank you. Let me know?"
"When I have a few free minutes I'll look into it." He smiled and walked out to see who had been calling someone other than him. He had told Dispatch to call him on *all* occult or vampire deaths in Miami. Someone was breaking his training. He would have to fix that.
The young guy next to the pool looked over the edge of his sunglasses, sipping his rootbeer from his curly straw when the tall, pale man walked up to him. "Howdy," he said blandly, taking another drink. "Is it you?"
"Is what me?"
"Are you the reason I'm down here. You're too pale to not be one of them." The redhead took a step back, staring at him. He stood up, closing the cabana around them. "Xander Harris." The man groaned and swore, making Xander giggle. "The Watcher's Council sent me."
"I thought they hated your group, you were rogues to them."
"Yeah, but then the Bringers blew them up a few years back, dude. Now, is it you?" he asked, dropping his nice guy act.
Horatio took off his sunglasses to look at him. "It is not me or my kind."
"Decent. So we're dealing with an average vamp instead of a Master? Or are you another subspecies that they thought didn't exist. Gotta say, Dracula sucked."
Horatio flinched at that name. "You knew him?"
"He came to challenge Buffy. I ended up eating bugs," he admitted. "Didn't really like the putz, no." Horatio cracked a smile at that. "By the way, since I can tell you are, it doesn't work on me anymore. Have you done any work to find them?"
"A bit. I know where they hunt."
"That's fine, I can go with you," Xander agreed.
"I would rather solve this since it has raised federal attention."
"Yeah, one got into the White House last year. Ate a staff member. Pissed the scared little neo-Christians off until they started to swear that God was punishing them for lapsing. At least until someone told them to call one of us in Cleveland."
"You're in *Cleveland*?"
"The remaining ones are. We closed the Sunnydale hellmouth, dude. How far behind on the news are you?"
"Apparently at least a year," he admitted.
"We've been there for three. By the way, native soil is from where?"
"Poland," he admitted quietly, staring at him. "Does it matter?"
"No, something to write in my journal tonight. Giles gets pissed when I miss a day. So I can tell him I met a Polish master vampire who has red hair and you're probably the one that Angel warned me to watch out for. Something about redheaded tempers and flaming swords...." Horatio had the decency to look down, looking a bit ashamed. "Did it solve stuff?" Horatio looked at him. "Bad things?" He nodded. "Then don't stress. If I could have I would have done it to some Nazi's too. Congrats. We like you for that much alone. So, when are we going hunting tonight and am I the bait or another partner?"
"I can hunt him," he said, trying to make it a compulsion.
Xander yawned, then popped him on the side of the head. "I'm sure you can. You won't but I'm sure you think you can. Unless you can get into Julio's Emporium alone?" Horatio looked confused. Xander grinned. "We've got our own underground. I was going to ask your three other hunters if they've seen them. Now, you can work with me or I can do it behind your back then finish my vacation. Your deal. What's your name?"
"Horatio Caine. Lieutenant Horatio Caine. I can have you arrested for obstructing justice." He stepped a bit closer, tipping his head a little bit to the left to get a better look at him.
"Yeah but Willow's got that nasty 'don't see me' spell that I can activate by muttering. It'd blow your cover and I'd hunt him while you were explaining things to your department shrink. We've sent a few of those happy holiday cards in Cleveland. They don't like us much either. We solve shit they don't want to acknowledge."
"I can see why they're upset with you," he said bluntly.
Xander smirked. "Your former buddy called me strange and off-putting. Then again, Angel calls me worse names. So, are we going together or not?"
"Fine, I will work with you. You can ask the other hunters and I will ask some of the other Masters in town," he said calmly.
"That'll work. Oh, if you see Braman again, tell him I said hi and no, the scar was able to be removed. Watch him shit himself."
"That was you!" he demanded, moving closer, staring him down. He only got a shiteating grin and the boy taking another sip of his soda. "You nearly killed him."
"Good. He had me hostage for four days. He's lucky I didn't get in staking distance, Horatio. Really, really lucky. After all, I survived seven years in Sunnydale. Miami's much brighter than I'm used to. The longer this takes, the less time I have for a vacation as well. It's about time, I haven't had one since I went to Africa." He sat down, finishing his soda and snapping his fingers so the cabana's fabric walls were rolled up magically. "It's about all I can do. Don't count on that skill."
"I won't." He looked at him. "I think my brethren was being polite when he said that about you."
"Yay me," Xander said sarcastically, smirking at him. "I could be worse. I could be Buffy."
"No, that is worse," he decided, putting back on his sunglasses. "I'll have you notified when I have time to go."
"Good deal. I'm going out tonight for dinner. Then I'll let them tell me where to hunt." He picked up something off the table beside him, handing it over. "My local number for my cell. I picked one up at the airport." Horatio took it, putting it into his jacket pocket. "Thank you for letting me have some fun on this vacation. It's been needed recently. Have a better day, Lieutenant Caine."
"You as well, Mr. Harris." He walked off thinking very hard. He had to do some fast research. The people he paid to keep him up to date on these matters had fallen behind. They would have to make good on that or he'd have to make them. Once he got into the crime lab hummer he called his research person. "It's Caine. I need what you have on the new incarnation of the Watcher's Council, plus specifics on one Xander Harris." He heard the splutter. "Because he's in Miami," he said bluntly. He listened to him babble. "No, you did not tell me that," he said impatiently. "Just do so." He hung up and calmed himself again, driving back to the lab. He had some hunting to do. He wanted such people out of his hunting grounds. Miami was his city. Harris was disquieting in an odd way. He'd seen other mouthy brats, even a mouthy hunter before, but this one was bothering him for some other reason. Most of the hunters he could take or leave, or kill. This one he had the feeling there was no taking or leaving and definitely no killing. Perhaps he should bend him to his will in other ways. He would have to call his Sire later to see what had happened out in Sunnydale.
Xander, now dressed in plain jeans and a black t-shirt, sat across from an older guy at a table, weathering the shocked look. "Hi. Need some information."
"Why?" he laughed. "New to the business?"
Xander pulled out his business card and held it up. Xander Harris, Lead Hunter, New Watcher's Council had a nice ring to it. The man went pale. "The FBI sent one our way down here. There's been eight bodies that they know of over the last nine months. There was a three month hiatus. They think six but we've found others and some going back further."
"I've heard. I thought they caught someone."
"They did, he went whoosh in his cell one morning. The same day someone else did the exact same thing down here in a manner that suggested the same ritual way of killing. I need to know who, if there is a ritual or just a serial killer ritual, and where I can hunt them down. Please," he finished. "I'm not here to step on your toes."
"There's plenty of them down here."
"I know. I saw one of the local Masters earlier. He came to interrupt my poolside sunbathing." The guy looked confused. "Don't ask. Also, how is Braman's oncoming mental issues?"
"Bad. I was wondering why he was freaking out."
"It was his bad decision to take me hostage," Xander said with a sweet smile. The man shuddered. "He only had me for four days. Spike worked with me for three years and he came out relatively normal. For Spike." He shook his head to clear that thought. "So, where and do you know who?"
"I do know where he's been hunting," he admitted. He wrote down an address. "This is a goth bar." He slid it over. "Six of your eight known ones came from there. Two were prostitutes if I heard right." Xander slid the address into his front pocket. "The person you want to talk to is Caine."
"I talked to him earlier. He's not involved."
"How are you sure?"
"Easy, the Feds gave the case to him and he's livid someone's doing this in his playground."
"Not him," he said, shaking his head. "I know of him. We don't go near him. He's a dangerous one. Very, very dangerous."
"Really? I seem to have given him a headache earlier," he said, frowning a bit. "Oh well. If not him, who?"
"Turned around the same time so I can look him up?"
"He's been protecting his family and clan for ages, since he was turned, boy. This one is his proclaimed brother from the line. He still looks out for his widow and their son. His brother was undercover and got turned by some Fed level blood sucker. Then he returned. The killings started while he was working down here. Then your Caine brother had him sent away for his own safety. He comes back and ten days later the killings start again."
Xander nodded slowly. "Then I'll have someone research him for me and I'll talk to his brother. He should have the right to berate him before I stake him." The man smirked. "Family is something you should be able to yell at before they're killed if they do stupid stuff. Including killing a bunch of people for their plasma." He stood up. "Thank you."
"Welcome. How long are you staying?"
"Until we get him. Then I get a vacation, my first since Africa." He grinned. "Have a restful night." He walked off humming, going out to his rental car. He called LA. "Gunn, Xander. Need some intel. Vamp named Caine, not Horatio Caine." He listened to Angel scream at that name. "Hmm. He warned me but he didn't seem that bad in person. He came up to see what I was doing in his town. Yeah, one of the local hunters said it was his brother, turned during an undercover mission." His car door opened and someone sild in, getting a nod. "Thanks, man. Yeah, I'm here. The toll free still works." He hung up and looked at his passenger. "You're damn lucky I researched his minions."
"I'm not a minion."
"Hell no," she said bluntly. "I help protect Horatio."
"Good. Tell him I need to see him about what I just heard. He needs to tell me if it's true or not. If so, he's going to be pissed."
She called him. "It's Calleigh. He's found out something that's going to piss you off. He wants to talk in person?" She smiled. "That would be fine." She hung up. "He said as long as you don't give him a headache like you did his sire it'd be fine."
"That's good. You navigate."
"That'll work." He went that way, heading back to his room. He walked in and took the soda he was handed. "I switched to rootbeer. My blood pressure got a bit wonky after I did some shaman time in Africa, but thank you. I needed this. So, your brother?" Horatio dropped his tea. Calleigh hissed at that. "The hunter John said it was him. Laid out his schedule."
Horatio shifted in his chair, bending down to pick up his dropped tea cup. He put it beside him, looking like he was thinking. "It would fit his timeline," he admitted. "I'm not sure it was Raymond or not, Xander."
"Huh. Can we find out? Is he turned?"
"I've only seen him for ten minutes," he admitted quietly.
"If it is, you have every right to scream at him. I'll spare you the horror of staking him, but you can scream and rant at him before we end the menace."
"Thank you for that kindness."
He looked at him. "If it was my made family they'd be in deep shit from me," he said bluntly. "Quit being so polite. I've been working with Spike, man."
"I tortured him once for biting one who was mine."
"Huh. No wonder Angel went on a two minute rant and Fred had to shoot him with the demon tranqs again." He sat down, sipping his soda. He held up the address he pulled out of his pocket. "Know this place?"
"Fairly well. I could never get in. Neither can you."
"You'd be surprised."
"They only accept in the young who want to donate. Masters and others in the life only get in once a month."
Xander gave him an impish grin. "Unlike your worry lines, I'm still only twenty-four. I could use a good night of cutting loose."
"They do not allow hunters."
"See, I'm not really a hunter. I'm a Watcher now. A field Watcher actually. Even if the business card does say lead hunter." Horatio shuddered. "It was me or Faith."
"You're the better choice. She can be...unpredictable from what I'm told."
"She's settled down in the last few years. Having twins does that to some women." Horatio gaped in horror. "When things started to get out of hand we had to form the council again; the first thing Giles did was seal the Wolfram and Hart leak. Since Angel's still in control of it, it didn't take that much effort."
"I heard about that and how things were starting to get bad in LA."
"And then Dawn lost her temper and her mind. She made a pretty heavy wish. All the lost ones out there came back. The menace trying to eat the world from there was destroyed. Connor was walking around like he was The Man for weeks after being gifted with that ability. Pity we had to burst his bubble by making him guard Dawn, but what are friends for, ya know?" Horatio gave him a horrified look. "That's also how we got Spike back," he shared. "The Powers hate him."
"And you," Horatio agreed.
"And me. I threw their tidy little chess game out of order many times. They keep expecting me to be normal and I've got 'pull a saving move out of my ass' syndrome." Horatio chuckled at that. "So, Drac turned you? Why?"
"He needed a second in command that he trusted," he said quietly. "He knew he could count on me. He knew where my passions laid and how I would protect those I have sworn to protect. As I do Miami."
"I have no intention of hurting your city, Horatio. I'm here to help them, not do damage. I know very well I'm not an action star."
"Was your eye replaced with the same wish?"
"I was given the choice to have Anya or my eye back and Anya threw a fit," he said honestly, staring him down. "So I got it back. The Powers chuckled for days over her besting me in that argument. Though, I did learn not to argue with women long ago. Willow can out-stubborn water buffalo." Calleigh snickered. "She can. Buffy's worse and she'll hit you if you don't agree with her. After the last time she cracked my arm, I learned to walk away muttering under my breath until I was out of range." Horatio smiled at that. "Getting off topic."
"Why are you not with them?"
"Because I appreciated what Dawn did and they didn't. I stuck up for Dawn. I stuck up for a lot of decisions that were right and expedient but painful," he said honestly. "Plus she can't get over the fact that I'm the reason she sent her honey to hell when he slipped his soul. What did you do to Angel? Torturing Spike would've made him mad because you played with his toys. It wouldn't make him freak out and scream like a soprano getting some up the butt." He finished his soda, putting it aside.
"You are very blunt, Xander."
"I know. Dancing around with words is for Angel, lawyers, and politicians. I'm not smart enough to be a lawyer, not slimy enough to be a politician, and I can't dress like Angel. It annoys me." Horatio cracked another smile. "Well? Shaved him bald? Torched all his clothes? Made him beg for something? Because that must've been a boring bed if it was the last one."
"Something along the lines of the first two," he admitted. "Angelus was always a vain vampire."
"Well, yeah. And a woosy one. He was stalking us and strung up Willow's fish. Granted he snuck them onto her pillow at night, but yay! Dawn had a better stalker in high school." Horatio nodded that he agreed. "He tried it with you?"
"One of mine. To avenge his childe's treatment. That was long ago," he said quietly.
"So was yesterday." He grinned. "The same as tomorrow's a logical impossibility in some ways of thinking. Yet it still happens for some people."
"Hopefully for most of them."
"Not everyone can live forever."
"Even my kind die, Xander," Horatio said quietly.
"Yeah but we couldn't figure out how to kill Dracula when he came to taunt Buffy. He kept going to smoke when she tried."
"She was brash, loud, and unamusing. That would be a quote."
"Well, yeah, it's Buffy," he agreed dryly. Horatio laughed at that. "When are you allowed in that bar again?"
"The full moon."
"Which day of it?"
"The center one," he said softly.
"Good. I'll get to work getting in there tomorrow night. You'll tell me if it is him?"
"If I find out it is him, all of us will be looking for him. I will be talking to him before he is no more." He stood up.
"Works for me. Like I said, you have the right to yell but I wouldn't make anyone stake their brother, real or proclaimed, Horatio."
Horatio stared at him. "Who was it?"
"Way too personal. Not like you're my lover."
"True. I'm sorry."
"So was I." He stood up, shaking his hand. "Have a better night and let me know. I'm going to do a bit of shopping tomorrow and then bask in the sunlight. I could use a tan."
"Do rest, Xander. You feel tired to me."
"Battles come and go but someone has to manage them."
"Good point. Some of us do appreciate it." He walked out, putting back on his sunglasses as Calleigh walked him out. "What do you think?"
"I think the new Council is like a family, just squabbling at the minute."
He hummed, nodding. "Probably." He went back into his work persona once he made it to the lobby, going back to Lieutenant Caine. "Let me know what you find out, Calleigh. I'll be at home on my cell."
"Of course, Horatio. Don't I always?" She smiled and let him go, watching him drive off in the hummer while she headed for her house to start the looking up process. "He needs better researchers," she complained once she was alone in the car. She looked around, spotting a dark blot moving off down an alleyway. She thought about getting out to follow but the way the shadow moved was odd. Like it wasn't sneaking so much as slinking. Like it was unsure and antsy. "Druggie?" she mused, watching it. It was picked up by a car and headed off with it. She decided to leave it alone for now. Miami had plenty of addicts who'd do anything for their drug of choice. That's why they had a whole department to deal with them.
Xander pushed back his cloak hood, looking at the bouncer.
"I know you," he said bluntly. "No entry, Harris."
"I'm not here to hunt."
"The boss said no hunters, even on their nights off."
"Actually, I'm having a month off." He moved closer. "The FBI sent me down to watch over a sitch going on with a vampire killing young guys out of this club. I'm not going to hunt. I swear I'm not going to hunt. I know who it is, all I need is to track him. You can ask your boss. I have no interest in staking anyone. I'm mostly here to blow off steam and to see if I can spot him. Please?"
"I'll ask. You stay there." He called inside. "Come to the door please? A pretty bad situation. A hunter, boss."
"Actually, I'm a Watcher now," he said dryly. "Shit happens when Giles takes everyone to Cleveland." The bouncer hung up and the boss came out, glaring at him. "The Feds sent me. I'm here to blow off steam and to see if I can spot the hunter."
"Out of Sunnydale, boss. One of Buffy's crew," the bouncer said.
Xander nodded. "He tried to help me in math once as a favor for Willow so she'd kiss him," Xander agreed. "Didn't work," he admitted with a grin. "I'm not here to hunt. I'm here for one specific vamp and to blow off steam. You should know the last time I did that in LA there were a rise in turnings in the goth club."
"They weren't dangerous enough so they had to become dangerous to draw you?" the bouncer asked.
"Funny, Doug, really. Just think, I nearly married my prom date." Doug shuddered. He looked at the boss. "I nearly married Anyanka after we turned her human by accident."
"I'm sorry. So, were they trying to become more dangerous to draw you?"
"I'm not really sure," he admitted. "Either that or I caused blood lust. Do I in you?"
"No," he admitted. "Then again I don't like little boys. What hunter?" Xander handed over his copy of the summaries, making him groan. "I'm surprised we haven't seen Caine."
"His brother's been around a few times," Doug told him. "I told him he couldn't come in either, boss. Only on vamp night."
Xander smiled. "I heard he might know who it is. That's who I'm looking for."
"Raymond or Horatio?"
"No, I just talked to Horatio."
"Sent him home with a headache. Second today," Xander admitted with a sheepish, shy grin. "I will blow off steam, I will not stake, I will not hunt, I will not let anything feed off me and get a Hellmouth high. The longer this goes on, the longer I've got to be in town because I got assigned to fix it. Or else you'd be having this talk with Willow in a few weeks."
"Fine. Act normal," the boss ordered.
Xander took off his cloak, showing off his very tight leather pants and tank top, making him drool. "I can do that. I am only twenty-four." He walked inside, letting the girl in there take his cloak with a smile. "Thank you." He walked out onto the floor, not caring that his silver dagger was showing. Half the people in there were carrying daggers. It was *the* fashion accessory of the goth movement. He made it onto the floor, finding a good spot to start moving with the music. He scanned the crowd, finding two people screaming 'victimize me' but didn't track them. He wasn't here for them. He felt velvet stroke across his arm and looked back, smiling at the woman standing there. "Hi, Dru baby."
"Kitten," she purred.
He turned to dance with her, making her smile. "Why are you in the land of sun?"
"Spikey is nearby."
"He's in Montana this week ending a doomsday cult." She pouted. "Sorry. Giles sent me instead, baby." He stroked her cheek with his thumb. "Be a good girl, Dru, and scram. There's hunters in town." She stroked his throat, earning a warm chuckle that made her shiver.
"Such pretty pictures the stars paint in my head. Pictures of chaos and death for kitties. All being run over." Xander shrugged. "Then you get a sword too."
"I did get offered a spot in Vengeance," he said dryly. She kissed him and he moaned, pulling back. "I'm not your type. I'm not like your daddy."
"Pity." She smiled. "The land of no picnic snacks? He said there weren't even puppies there to snack on."
"He should be going back to Cleveland sometime around Thursday he thinks."
"I'll have to waylay him to show him the new pictures the stars sent me. Miss Edith misses him."
"He misses both of you too, precious. Now, shoo. Go scream his name to the pretty stars so they know who to send more pictures for." She smiled and walked off, dragging one of the other kids with her but the kid was only a toy. She was telling him how he'd be a good Spike toy. Xander caught the boss's eye, nodding at her. He went to warn the kid while Xander got back into it. He spotted his prey. His photos really did suck. He danced with a pretty brunette girl who looked a bit high, but that wasn't his current problem either. He watched his prey watch Dru, then smiled at his dance partner. "Be right back." He slithered out of the crowd, heading for the doorway the other guy had gone through. The bouncer handed him his cloak and he grinned, nodding his thanks as he walked outside. It was breezy so he put it back over his shoulders, following as silently as he could, just out of standard vampire hearing range so he wouldn't pick up his heartbeat. The guy did apparently feel him - he looked back over his shoulder a few times - but he didn't see him. They came out onto a major street and Xander looked around, grimacing when he lost him. "Not good," he muttered, staring around again. "Must have gotten too close." He did another scan, scaring the crap out of the vampire who walked up behind him when he pulled a stake and spun around to pin him against the wall. Literally. "Morning."
"Morning," he squeaked. "Who're you? We don't know you and there's not that many hunters in town."
"I'm not here for you."
"Good, thank you. Can I run away now?" Xander let him go, watching him run off awkwardly thanks to the low hanging underwear he now had. He turned back around, going another scan. Still no sign of him so he went back to his hotel room. Maybe something in the 'where' of the kills would help them find him. Because he knew Horatio had been telling the truth when he said he hadn't seen him in a few months.
Horatio came up to Xander the next night, finding him lacing up a pair of running shoes. "No boots?"
Xander looked up, grinning at him. "Not tonight. I was going to do a walking path of where the victims were found. Something about that was bothering me."
"Did you find him?"
"And then I lost him following him back toward a main street. He had about a three second head start so just long enough to duck into somewhere." Horatio grimaced. "Why? Someone take photos?"
"It was asked who you were." He helped the young man up. "I'll drive."
"I was going to walk it, see if I could pick up any hanging ghosts."
"I don't have time to unpossess you this week," he said dryly, walking him out. "I'll drive."
"Fine, you'll drive." He winked at one of the hotel security guys. "He said I can't go for my run, it's dangerous."
"Especially to high priced federal consultants," Horatio agreed, sticking to the cover.
Xander looked at him. "They pay me?"
"Fine, they pay your boss." He got him out to the hummer, letting him get inside while he walked around so he could get in and drive. "Have you had dinner yet?"
"I'll get a burger later. I got up late." He hopped in, buckling up. "You?"
"Of both kinds," he agreed, starting the engine and heading off. "They're not paying you?"
"No, Giles had me butt in. They paid us for the one in DC because it almost caused a panic and nearly got the government shut down until we took out the nest."
"I know, someone mentioned I almost let one go, right?"
"Yup." He looked at him before pulling out of the parking lot. "Tracking them?"
"Yeah. There was a hidden area and that's what I wanted. One of the recently turned had her kids there and there were a few other things there, including the head idiot. She wanted to turn Congress so they could become socially progressive. Because then they'd *see* according to her. By tracking that one I found the other area. It was Buffy who screamed and ranted that I nearly let one go, even after I pointed out why. She was having a PMS day. The agent and she did not get along very well. He threatened to conscript her and things. Offered her a pretty uniform in whatever branch of the military she wanted." Horatio snickered. "Hey, I told the guy to back down before she hurt him. So he's probably still in traction and Giles understood. He told me to weather the screaming. Buffy has never been that tactical."
"Or that tactful."
"Or that," he agreed happily. "So anyway.... Did you notice the pattern?"
"I thought it was a fluke."
"No, it was vamp day at the club." Horatio moaned. "The full moon for this month is in three days, right?" Horatio nodded. "So unless he's picking them up the night before it might be easier to troll for him that night. Or not. I don't know why he's picking this one area."
"He used to work here," he said quietly. "Undercover."
Xander patted him on the arm. "It sucks when it's family, Horatio. It's not your doing. It's not your fault. Even if he was a saint before the demon can make you turn."
"I know but it still bothers me. I'm hoping he's tracking the person doing it as well."
"He didn't leave with anyone last night," he admitted.
"He went back later. We did get a body." He glanced at him. "We also found your hair on her body."
"Hmm, brunette druggie?" Horatio made a humming noise as he drove. "Yeah, I danced with her. If you find Persian cat hairs they probably came off me too. I was wearing my cloak and she likes to lie on it."
"You have a cat?"
"No, Willow has about nine cats. She thinks Tara's been reincarnated as one so she keeps picking up cats."
"Love lost is a painful thing."
"I remember. She nearly ended the world. I still ache from whatever she threw at me magically to stop me from stopping her."
"That was her?" he asked flatly.
"Yup, and right before she did that she magically flayed someone alive for killing Tara. We were a wild and crazy group. Buffy's so bad Angel lost his soul and Spike decided being souled was better. Willow soaked up dark magic. I dated Anya. It was the dating that was going to get us killed instead of the hunting. Either that or the guys who created the Buffy robot since they're the guys who shot Buffy and let it ricochet into Tara."
"Yeah, we lost it when she was dead the last time. It helped us defend the town."
"I thought those were drugged-out fantasies," he said grimly.
"Nope. We were living on the edge with some of our personal choices. Speaking of, I saw Dru last night. Told her Spike's in Montana until Thursday. She called it the land of no picnic snacks." Horatio snickered at that. "Hopefully she went after him." He grabbed the dash because someone ran out to flag them down. "I can wait by the truck unless you need CPR stuff."
"Good. Do so." He got out, going to help the guy who was having a hostage problem. He called it in then headed in to talk to him. Xander was nearby, he could smell him, but not that close or in danger. The hostage taker was wildly swinging his gun. On the next pass he grabbed him and put him down, handcuffing him. Xander came in to haul him up and out to the hummer, letting him fuss over the hostages and get the one who needed it medical support. Backup got there and he came out, letting them have the hostage taker while Xander handed over what he had gotten out of his pockets. "You frisked him?"
"Yeah, he had a knife in his boot. He tried for it and I nearly used it to gut him before I remembered he was in custody already." He gave the guy a glare, getting a whimper back. He grinned at Horatio. "So, we were going trolling for that killer?"
"We are. It'll take a few more minutes. Since I was first on the scene I'll have to fill out two forms for the patrol officers."
"Sure. Have fun with that." Horatio gave him an odd sideways look. "Our journals are our version of paperwork. Giles gets snippy if we don't do it every night. Mine last night probably made him choke since I noted about Dru."
"She is enough to make sane men groan," he agreed, taking the forms to fill out quickly. He handed them back then walked around to get in. Xander hopped back in too, getting a few odd looks from the patrol offices. "Federal consultant." They all nodded at that. 'Better him than us' all their faces read. Xander hummed along with the radio until they got to the section of town they were going to. Then Xander went back into hunting mode, making him pause at a few points. Horatio agreed with his assessment of places they could try trolling for him. By the time he heard the boy's stomach going off it was very late so he drove him to a better burger place, getting a small smile. "That's what you said you were having for dinner."
"I am. It's cheap and Giles expects to expense account these things. If I went for real food he'd whine." He went in to get some dinner, coming out to find Horatio had waited. "I thought you were dropping me off."
"This doesn't look like your hotel."
"Good point." He got back in, nibbling on the way back there. "Better fries than I get at home," he said finally. "Thank you."
"Welcome. Do you have any other ideas?"
"What was the body this morning?"
"One of the yet-unnamed club kids. We're searching the usual databanks."
"Including the missing children's one?"
"Including that one," he agreed. "We've found a few out of that one over the years, Xander."
"Sorry. I know you do this for a living. I had to make that point to a smaller town cop a few months back. They didn't know you could do that."
"I wasn't insulted. It's something we do forget about sometimes. There's so many of them that sometimes we do miss an idea."
"It should be *one* system."
"That would require a lot of updating in some areas and a lot of federal interference. No one would go for it once they saw how much it would cost." He gave him a small smile. "You should see how many ballistics databases there are."
"I have. I set up ours." Horatio chuckled. "Yeah, I'm the weapons master too. Giles likes crossbows but there's better than the standard old-style, heavy and bulky wood ones he likes to stock. I showed him my take apart one when someone complained about a splinter. He was surprised it could get that small, compact, light, easily stored, and have more tension so it could go through the vampire instead of simply into them. So now we've got a lot of the newer models too."
Horatio shook his head. "Rebuilding must be driving you insane."
"It would if I was ever up there. Since I'm not.... Giles probably thinks I've been turned and I'm hiding from them. Once a month he makes me log in my heartbeat on a monitor to make sure I have one." Horatio gave him an odd look. "Like they do with fetal monitors. Over the phone lines. Last month I was in the middle of the battle when it went off. He called to interrupt too. My 'busy kicking ass' didn't amuse him when I hung up on him."
"Is it implanted?"
"No, it's a stick-on model. I had put it on when I got jumped."
"I suppose that's wise in a few ways," he admitted.
"He's more worried that one of the women I date will turn me."
"With your dating history I would be too." Xander stuck his tongue out at him. Horatio blocked out an oncoming mental image he didn't want to have at that moment. "A lot was said about that."
"Of course, I'm nearly mythical." Xander grinned before hopping out at his hotel. "See you tomorrow after you get off work?"
"Tomorrow is the departmental meeting day. It's going to be late."
"Then I'll go trolling for him myself," he agreed, heading inside before the vampire could form a coherent dissent.
Horatio growled. That young man was still putting him on edge. Odd and off-putting was tactful with how that boy was disquieting his soul. He would have to yell at his sire for not doing something about him when he had the chance. That's when he realized he wasn't being rational and that something deeper may be going on here. He went back to his research on who the boy was and could have been. Because sometimes souls were reborn. His sire's wife had been. Maybe an ancient enemy had come back to haunt him as well.
Xander walked down the streets in trolling mode, watching who paid him attention and who among the others on the street could feel his taint. One backed away looking very scared. "I'm not here for you," he said gently. "I'm looking for a hunter of you guys." She calmed down and he showed her the picture. "Have you seen him?"
She looked at him. "I've seen ones like him. Some of us feed them." He nodded, stroking her cheek to keep her calm. "Are you a saint?"
"Not by any means, precious." She smiled at that. "But I do need to find him before he hurts someone again."
"He's not here tonight," another female voice called and she strolled over. She looked at the picture. "Seen him around recently but he's on the other side of town tonight." Xander gave her a quizzical look. She pointed. "If she's here he's over there."
"How would she know?"
"She went with him while he was undercover. That was his second girl. She got... damaged when they brought him in."
"Good to know. Can you introduce me?"
"I can." She walked him over there. "Honey, this boy's looking for your old boy."
Xander smiled at her. "I'm here protecting."
"You know things," she said.
"I know many things," he agreed, stepping closer. "I'm not here to hurt you." He flashed the picture. "Is he hunting and killing?" She nodded, looking scared so he put the picture away. "It's all right. I need to stop him. He brought more Feds down. Please?" She nodded, taking his hand to scribble on. "An address?"
"Where he hunts from." She looked at him. "You'll protect me if he finds me?"
He took her pen to write his toll-free number on her arm. Less chance of it being worn off by sweat there. "All you have to do is call me," he said, staring her down. "I'd be there as soon as I can." She nodded, giving him a gentle smile and a brush to his cheek like he had the girl before. He kissed her on the forehead. "Go in peace, sweetling. Go rest." She nodded, drifting off, looking woozy. He looked at the first one. "Can you watch out for her tonight?"
"Maybe. Still gotta make a living." Xander dug into his pants pocket and held out something. She looked then gaped at him. "I can do that. It'll get her a room for the night and we'll make sure it's safe."
"Thank you. Get yourself something to eat too." She smiled at that. "There's enough there. There's two." He walked off, going to the other address. The cabbie gave him an odd look. "Out hunting a resource. I'm a Federal Consultant. They wouldn't talk to me in a suit."
"Never thought about that." He drove off, watching him in the mirror. "Do I know you?"
Xander looked. "No, and unless you're nibbling on your passengers you probably won't have to." The guy blanched. "I'm also a Watcher." The guy nodded quickly. "I don't care. You're not my present killer. If you're not killing when you nibble I could care less. I'm a practical Watcher, not an idealistic one." The cabbie relaxed. "Besides, I worked with Spike, dude. He's annoying enough that my vampire tolerance has went *way* up in recent years." The vampire laughed at that. "Is Dru still here?"
"Left last night with a present for him."
"Cool beans." Xander paid his fare and leaned forward. "One of you has been killing."
"I heard Caine was looking for his brother."
"So am I. I'm at the Guardian." That got a nod. "Call me or him if he's found?"
"I can do that. Thank you, Watcher."
"Xander, dude. Xander." He got out, heading to troll that area. A few of them gave him odd looks. "Looking for someone in particular," he told one. She backed off. He found a spot that screamed death to him, finding the pimp that ran that area. He pulled him into the shadows to talk to him. "I'm here hunting a serial killer." The man scoffed. "I'm a Federal Consultant to the local PD."
"Who?" He showed him the picture. "I've seen him around."
"Has he been here tonight?"
"Not that I've heard. Why?"
"Because if he's not my killer, he knows who it is. So I need him. Tonight if possible since there's going to be another one of the kids out here killed."
"There's plenty to fill the spot."
"They're still human." The pimp smirked. "They are. All I'm asking for is to cover my back a little bit."
"Fine. You can use my space. Don't make any trouble for my girls and don't send their rides off."
"I could care less about what you're doing unless it's this one person or the killer if I'm wrong about who it is."
"Good." He looked him over. "At least you're a bit built." Xander tucked in his shirt, making him moan. "Well built."
"Years of battle experience." He walked out there, strolling really. A few of the nearby girls gave him a look. "Not here for you." One gave him a pissed look and he walked over there. "I'm looking for someone in particular. I don't care what you do, who you do, or what you do to them. I'm looking for one serial killer who's going to be out here somewhere tonight," he said quietly. "I'm not a local cop. I'm a federal consultant." She nodded at that. "So go for it. Make them beg, please. You have one of the hardest jobs in the world and I'd die from it. The fact you've survived means you've got a very strong soul."
She smirked and nodded. "Good to be appreciated." She smacked him on the ass. "Tuck it in tighter." Xander did that, going back to his watching spot. True to his word the only time he jumped in was when one drunk came up with a knife and then he broke his hand and made him beg. He didn't take a client, he didn't stop the clients, he didn't do anything but watch from the shadows. She saw one guy from across the street and watched the kid watch him. A very intense stare. She wouldn't take him on as a client when he was in that mood. He was dangerous.
Xander came in that night, finding Calleigh waiting on him. "Hey." He went to shower and change. "What happened?"
"I was going to ask the same thing. How many people know?"
"I only told one vampire cabbie. The locals of his kind will shun whoever's doing this because they know they can be staked if they're helping him. I told a few working girls so they'd call me. I found his other girlfriend on the street, she's like Dru, and I told the bouncer, again a local vamp. He told the club owner since he's hunting in his club."
"Huh." She called Horatio. "He had a girlfriend?" She listened. "Xander, are you talking about Suzy?"
He came out once the water was off, a towel around his waist. "No, not Suzy. This was a pale brunette girl, mentally wispy." She nodded, repeating that. "I gave her my toll-free number because she's scared to death of him. She sees him in one section and she moves."
"Oh. Okay. No, Horatio, not her." She frowned at him. "How do you know about her?"
Xander looked at her. "Did you think I wasn't going to have someone do some intel gathering of my own? Wolfram and Hart's LA office is still owned by Angel." He went to change clothes since she was giving his chest strange looks. He came out in a t-shirt and jeans again. "There, back to normal so you don't have to stare."
"Where did that scar on your pec come from? The one on the right?"
"The same place the one on the left and a few on my back did. Fighting." He flopped down, finding a rootbeer already chilled for him. "Thanks."
"Least I could do since Horatio's just now getting out. I would've gone with you."
He looked at her. "I went down to be among them, hoping he'd draw to me like every other dangerous being does. You can't quite do street grunge that well, dear. You're too nice."
"I guess that's a compliment." She hung up. "Horatio's on his way up here." She'd ignore his laughing. "Okay, now what?"
"We do it again tomorrow night," he told her. "Then the next night. Then we start staking out the club again. At least until someone tells us where he goes to ground during the daytime."
"Horatio's working on getting that."
"Okay. I don't mind." She smiled and went to let Horatio in, smirking at the picture in his hand. "I needed to fit in down there."
"You probably did by looks but not by attitude."
"Yeah but the working girls like me," he said with a grin. "I broke one client's arm when he came after her with a knife. Got offered a job as protection too." He took another sip. "I didn't find him but I did find his other ex. She's a bit like Dru and she's with the group on Mercy? I gave them some money to make sure she had a room and food for the night and to help her protector eat too." That got a smile. "Least I could do."
"We'll talk to her tomorrow, Xander." He sat down across from him. "Wolfram and Hart has links down here?"
"Yeah. Though your file is kinda bare. I'm guessing whoever you pay for research stole yours. Angel's still shuddering when he hears your name by the way. He's back to brooding that he can't be as evil as you are. So I'm guessing you must've dressed him in pink stuff after you torched his clothes and shaved him bald?"
"Frilly pink things," he admitted. "With a lot of lace. Druscilla actually helped by picking out the dress for him."
Xander shuddered. "Now I know why he considers you more evil than Satan. Is she still in town?"
"No, she's left to see Spike. Didn't I say that last night?"
"She has a nasty way of slipping back on you. She did to us plenty of times. Want a rootbeer?"
"No, that's fine. I had my daily intake of caffeine and sugar both today."
"Can you make the new guy a minion, Horatio?" she asked.
"I'll compulse him again," he agreed.
"It might not work," Xander pointed out. "Some of us are resistant."
"No, some of you are very difficult. There's one I can only compulse when I'm in a rage. Ryan may end up in that group. No one is resistant."
Xander grinned. "I am now."
"I doubt that."
"Others have tried. Including your sire when I ran into him on a trip. It was a very pretty groan. He was trying to talk to a woman so I hit on him, kissing his neck, and she fled. He tried so hard to make me go away. Instead he ended up leaving Italy for the next decade or so."
Horatio gave him an odd look. "He never told me that story."
"Would you if you were him?"
"Probably not," he admitted. He smirked at him. "Where did you go tonight?" Xander got a map from the drawer - he had picked one up from the airport when he got in - and used a pen to highlight his route tonight. "That one is dangerous. There's another person out killing prostitutes."
"Maybe he's one of the two guys I took on. One of the girls refused to go with a new client, clung to me. So the pimp let me go talk to him for her, asking the standard questions." He got up, finding something in his pocket. "Here, that's his license plate." He sat down again. Horatio smiled. "Not a rental either."
"Thank you. That may be the most helpful hint yet. We have a task force set up to catch that guy."
"Always happy to help. One less sicko to try for me." He finished his rootbeer. "I was going to try this area tomorrow," he said, pointing it out. "Higher class but none of them came from there. I don't know why though."
"That is near where we picked up those he was undercover spying on," Horatio said grimly. "We've got to find his lair."
"You can't find trace or whatever on the body?"
"Nothing so far. He tends to kill where he takes them. Then he leaves them lying there."
"Hmm. Taught him too well?" Horatio gave him a grim nod. "Well, it'd be easier if he was a typical stupid criminal or vamp, but you can't have everything. Even the smartest make at least one mistake, even Lupin the Third." Calleigh looked confused. "It's an anime, dear." He saw the laugh Horatio was holding in. "Go ahead." He snickered. "I head to learn breaking and entering from something. It was that or Faith."
"I'll keep that in mind if we suddenly start seeing similar methods."
"I'm going to let you two boys geek out," she said, fleeing before they warped her.
"How's your sire?" Xander asked.
"He wished me luck getting my sanity back after dealing with you. He also suggested I eat you to put us both out of our misery." He stared at him. "Have you seen the new hunting movie, Van Helsing?"
"I did and I thought it was cute, but I've been told by two different seers that I do not have an ancient and reborn enemy, nor am I someone's ancient and reborn enemy. Had to make sure with some of the freaky things in my life." Horatio smiled at that. "They both said I'm a new soul. Sorry. I'm just me, that's why I'm this way."
"Being yourself is fine, Xander. We were wondering if that's why you drove us both insane."
Xander grinned. "No, Buffy did it to me and insanity is a communicable disease. I even have a t-shirt to tell people that I spread that particular disease."
"I'm sure it's appropriate. When was the last time you were home?"
"I have a home?"
"Was never home. I stuck up for Dawn and they basically told me to go do other stuff."
"So, no settling down?"
"Some year I'll retire. Somewhere. Since Giles is actually paying me now I can even save for retirement if I make it that long. If not, it'll go to Dawn." That got a gentle smile. "She's young and she had enough grief to torture her soul. She made the wish to make it stop. I fully understand that. That's the same sort of place I was when I didn't tell Buffy that Willow was going to try the soul spell again and she had to send him to hell. It was the only way to close the portal he created."
Horatio shuddered. "That is why I do not like their kind. They're always trying to upset things that they have no business touching. Had he, vampires would be on the bottom of the power structure."
"Yeah, well, most of them lost some brain material in the transformation too," he pointed out. "In Angel's case, it was another form of insanity."
"Clearly." He leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his knees, staring at the young man across from him. "You could do much for the world if you did retire earlier."
"Yeah, but I don't wanna go work at W&H. Nor do I want to consult. Besides, I'd be bored and go clean out wherever I was living."
"Probably true, but there is always education."
"Which I suck at," Xander said bluntly. "They didn't tell you I nearly didn't make it to graduation?"
"No, they didn't." He frowned. "Your instincts could be very useful in something like a police department."
"I'd have to follow a bunch of fussy rules about not hurting people and things. Besides, if they knew what I've done they'd never take me. They'd brand me psychotic and give me the pretty drugs. I almost went there with Cleveland but someone heard and told the guy doing the psych eval. I ended up on a seventy-two-hour warrant in a nice hospital refusing the pretty drugs."
Horatio grimaced. "There are ways around that."
"I didn't even answer the question when he asked if I believed in vampires. I only stared at him. He was not amused. He was especially not amused when the group saved him six months later with two of the rookie cops and one who was using them as sacrifices. I think that was the last time I was in Cleveland."
"Do you visit often?"
"Now and then for a layover. Once a year for a day. Then my nerves are shot and I find an emergency if we don't have one." Horatio smiled at that. "There's now twenty-three girls in one old hotel being trained, plus Buffy, Faith, Giles, Willow, her cats, and Giles' books. I go insane fairly quickly. Especially since last time the LA crew came in for some reason at the same time. So we also had Spike and Angel and Fred and Wes and Gunn fighting with Buffy and Willow and Giles over the proper way to slay things. Wes and Giles got into a quoting match at two different points. I snuck out during the second." Horatio snickered. "Buffy even tried to capture me and bring me back. I begged, man. She wanted to come with me. I told her to go on patrol and she did. All the girls did. Their patrol went through three shopping centers and an animal shelter for Willow but they all went." Horatio snickered more loudly. "Me, I hopped a flight to Singapore to go looking for one Giles had wanted to find."
"How many places have you been?"
"A great number but never long enough for it to be a vacation. A few days here, a few days there. Ten months all over Africa trying to get away from a few civil wars with three different girls and then some time with some shaman. Which is when caffeine started to bother me."
"They made you get back in touch with the earth?"
"Oh yeah. And all of the sudden I have food allergies I didn't have before and I have a very small tolerance for caffeine. Giles thought it was a good idea. At least until he realized I'm bouncier without it. Then he sent me to Milan."
"I don't see how many could fail to appreciate you, Xander."
"Easy. They don't look," he said simply, leaning back again. "So, how're we doing this tomorrow night?"
"I need to talk to this other girl." Xander put the pen over a spot. "She's somewhere near there?"
"That's where I found her; I gave her and her guardian money for the night."
"Good to know." He stood up. "Do you want to stroll tomorrow or stalk from a car?"
"I....." He considered it. "Stroll. I'm usually a danger magnet. Let him come find me while you stalk from the car. Just don't use the department hummer."
"I have no intention of it," he promised, giving him a gentle smile. "Many of us have hunted down in those woods, Xander. They're easy prey and generally will take two hundred dollars for two pints of blood."
"Yeah, but it's easier to go to goth clubs and order it." Horatio smiled, heading out. Xander relaxed, mentally going over what he had done tonight. Had he given too many hints? Is the guy being wary of him? Or was he just in the wrong spot? He sighed and went to bed, going to have happy dreams. Maybe he'd even fantasize about turning that too-stiff exterior Horatio had to goo. He was good at that. It was also a happy thought.
Xander pulled out his phone. "Harris." He listened. "Hey, Giles. No, I'm working, Giles." The girls around him laughed. "Still, yup. Hoping he visits my neck of town tonight. Because Miami's a big city, Giles, like New York is," he said facetiously. "He could be anywhere tonight." He grimaced at the 'your nature will draw him'. "Maybe. Maybe not. Why the call?" He grimaced. "Well, it's there or I've got to take an efficiency. Which I wouldn't care to do. I have no idea how long this is going to go on, Giles. Until we catch him. If it's tonight it's tonight. If it's not tonight it'll be sometime. We know his hunting grounds." One of the girls came over to coo in his other ear, earning a smirk. "The guy who holds the purse strings."
"Tell him if he pays me too I'll help."
Xander checked the pulse in her wrist then put the phone against his chest, using his free hand to hold up the photo. "I want him. He's killing you guys."
She blinked. "That's a heavy order. His brother...."
"Knows I'm here. If he's not doing it he knows who is."
"Try Rayford tonight, baby. Then we'll see."
Xander kissed her on the cheek. "Thank you, ma'am." He put the phone back up to his ear, wandering off. "Hey, Giles, I'm back. Just got a tip. Sure, find me one and I'll do that. No, I'm not moving back to Cleveland. Because I'm not going to spout off the theory that Dawn was wrong. Sorry but no. Nyet." He snickered. "I don't care, Giles. No. Well, at least I'm having some fun during the daytimes since we can't find his lair. It's not like I've had a vacation since Africa. And gee, then I got a whole week watching a civil war start." He got into a cab. "I need to go to Rayford, down where these sort go, please." The cabbie gave him an odd look. "I'm a Federal Consultant working on that prostitute killer case."
"Oh, okay. That explains the clothes. It'll be a bit."
"It's fine." The cabbie took off and Xander went back to listening to Giles moan. "Oh, quit, Giles. You're sounding like Willow with PMS." The cabbie gave him another odd look so he waved the phone, getting a head shake. "What? Did she finally find her Tara kitty? Uh-huh. Well...." He snickered at his assertion they had too many cats around the hotel. "Then let some of the girls go off and let them take one of her cats as a talisman and a way for Willow to track them, Giles. I told you that last year when she brought home number nine. Yeah, and we can GPS chip a kitty. You said you wanted some of them to go work other places. Do it that way! That way she can get all new cats. Or hey, give Faith's twins one each. They are not miniature serial killers in the making, Giles. They're toddlers. They're all like that." The cabbie laughed and nodded. "The cabbie agrees with me. Yes, they all tear up books," he sighed, holding his head. He leaned forward, resting it against the back of the front seat. "Giles, you're whining like Buffy with PMS now. I've still got to stalk and hunt something. Please! That's fine, find me somewhere reasonable and I will move there. As long as it's got a kitchen. Now, anything else? No, payday had better not be late, Giles. Do I care? Uh-huh and I've still got the expenses from Morocco and Bolivia on there, not to mention you still owe me the ones from Paris and the last trip to Singapore to see Mari. Yeah, so cough cough, man. On time, on my card, thank you." He hung up, shaking his head. "I hate that we went corporate. It was so much easier before to talk him into doing things. Less forms too."
"It happens to the best company, sir."
"Yeah, but it sucks."
"It does. I'm assuming you'll need a receipt?"
"Yup, sure will. That way I can beat it out of him in four months." The cabbie pulled up and Xander paid, letting him write out the fast receipt. "Thanks, man. Have a good night." He stuffed the change and the receipt into his pocket, heading off to walk among the ladies and pseudo-ladies of the night. One of them got in his way. He held up the picture. "I'm after the hunter."
"He's been seen down here but I'm not sure he's *here*," the drag queen said.
"Do you know where? I need to beat his ass."
The guy smirked. "Yeah, down at Touchstone last I knew. Hunting there."
"Which would be.... " She pointed up the street. "Thank you." He tipped her. "Your mascara's running a bit, dear. Looks like you've been sweating hard." She laughed, walking off and he went to the club the drag queen had mentioned. The bouncer gave him a horrified look. "I'm hunting for one of the serial killers, dude. Never worked on my back a day in my life." He held up the picture. "Him?"
"He left an hour ago."
"With someone?" The bouncer nodded. "Any idea where?"
"He was talking about a nearby park." He pointed.
"Thank you." He jogged that way, keeping to the shadows while he called Horatio. "We have a good sighting down on Rayford. He was at a club called Touchstone and then headed out with someone to a nearby park. Yeah, I'm heading there now. Thank you." He hung up, spotting the edge of the park. "Damn it, it's huge," he muttered. He slowed to a more casual stroll since he was coming to open ground. He walked into the park, nodding politely at the police officer taking his mounted partner for a slow patrol ride. "Clubbing break," he said at the odd look. "Need some nature time before I piss off one of the women hitting on me." That just got a nod. "So, is there anywhere I should avoid? I'm from up North."
"I wouldn't go near the canal," he said. "It's been known to house muggers and things."
"Thank you, Officer. Have a good patrol." He patted the horse. "You're beautiful too." He strolled off, heading down the path toward some statues he could see, and some benches. The officer rode on and Xander listened, finding the water sounds. He headed that way. He rounded a bend and found someone lying on the ground. "Shit!" He came over to check. "HELP! NEED AN AMBULANCE!" he bellowed. The officer came riding up. "He's still living. Get me someone. Now!" he said when the guy didn't move. "I don't care if he's family, he's going to die!" The guy nodded, calling it in. Horatio got there first and came rushing over. "Hey." He kept pressure up on the wound.
"Speed," he said, falling down next to him.
Xander looked at him. "Friend?"
"And coworker. He's out on injury leave." He checked him over. "He's lost a lot of blood."
"Your choice but I'd do it fast," he ordered. Horatio looked at him. "Can he survive?"
"Probably. This was a warning to me."
"Is Touchstone a gay club?" Horatio shook his head slowly "Then we might have another victim. This one could be coincidence."
Horatio looked at the officer. "The serial killer going after clubbers and prostitutes was spotted coming out of Touchstone and heading here with a victim."
"I'll search around, sir. Is he...."
"Federal consultant," Xander offered. That got a nod and he rode off. "I hear sirens," Xander offered.
"He told me I couldn't before."
Xander patted Speed's face until he woke up. "Hey. You're in damn bad shape. Your boss is here."
Speed shook his head. "No more than tainting. I don't want that," he said weakly.
"Even if you die?"
"Even if I die," he agreed, looking at Horatio. "Ray."
"I know, Speed. Did he say anything?"
"There's your little friend." He whimpered, trying to shift. "Ow."
"Speed, please," he begged. "You know I'll protect you."
"There's other hunters."
"I know, I'm keeping your wound closed," Xander told him. The guy gave him a dirty look. "Watcher's Council."
"They're here for Ray, Speed. Please?" Paramedics rushed over. Speed shook his head. "Fine but if you start to code I will do *everything* in my power to save you so you had better live."
"I'll kick your ass."
"Perhaps when you get better but I would welcome it." He got out of the way. "He's been stabbed, he lost a lot of blood."
"There's not a whole lot on the ground," the paramedic said.
Xander popped him on the side of the head. "He's a CSI. I think he'd know how much he lost." That got a nod and he switched places. "Speaking of, that's a CSI as well." He looked at Horatio. "Go with him. I'll call Calleigh if we get another one out here." He nodded, handing over the phone so Xander could memorize the number. Then he headed off with his friend once he had his phone back. Xander went to find the other officer, finding him down and his horse dead. "Shit!" He checked, no pulse. He carefully backed out of the crime scene and looked around, spotting another body. "I hate this guy. I really, really hate this guy." He called her. "It's Xander. Horatio went with someone he called Speed to the ER, he's been drained a good bit. Also, I found Ray's newest victim and an officer who found him, plus his dead horse. The park up from Touchstone. I got off on Rayford and only crossed two streets. There, by the water, there's a small copse of trees, looks like it used to be a picnic nook sort of area. Thank you. I'll be here." He hung up, looking around. "Officers!" he yelled. Another one came running from the other scene. "I checked, there's no pulse."
"You were with Caine."
"I'm in town to help with the prostitute killer. This guy was patrolling in the park, he came to see if there was another victim. I've called CSI Duquesne personally since Horatio went with his coworker just now. I'm going to be right here but I need someone to wait with me so they know I didn't touch anything." That got a nod and he called for backup and the ME. Xander looked at the bodies. There was no way to say that a vamp didn't bite the girl. She only had two marks on her throat. The horse.... He looked at it. "How did he kill the horse?"
"I don't know, sir," the officer admitted. Calleigh came jogging over. "Detective," he said respectfully. "He found them."
"He called me. Xander?"
"He was patrolling when I found Speed. I sent him to look because Horatio said Touchstone wasn't a gay club so the bouncer would've noted if he had left with a guy but he didn't say anything."
"So you thought there could be another victim, you had the officer go check...." He nodded and pointed. "Okay. Where did you walk in there?"
"I went to check the officer's vitals." He pointed. "I walked on the kudzu since I know it won't keep footprints."
"Good job. Thank you." She walked in there, going to check for vitals on all three victims. "How did he kill the horse?" Xander carefully followed her path in, checking the horse's neck. "Broken?"
"No." He ran a hand down his chest, coming up with blood. "Stabbed under the girth."
"Damn it," she muttered. "Okay, back out. The same way you came in." He nodded, doing that. "Thank you, now wait there. What happened to Speed?"
"Stabbed and drained. I got him to wake up. Horatio went with him. He gave me your number."
"Good to know." She had the officer set up a perimeter and looked over as her coworkers came. "Eric, call Horatio, find out how Speed is. Ryan, start with the horse please? There's indication of stabbing. Eric, when you're done, start with her, I'll do the officer."
"Yes, Calleigh," Ryan said, coming in carefully. "Where's the path?"
He nodded, doing that. "Is that our witness?"
"He found them and he also found Speed." Ryan opened his mouth. "Horatio's working on this killing spree with him. We found out the guy took her from a local club. Or I'm going to assume that's the one he took out of the local club. He came looking for him to see if he could catch him before she died."
"Wow." Ryan looked at him. "FBI?"
"Something like that," he agreed with a small grin. "Long story but I'm an independent contractor that they send out now and then." Eric gave him an odd look. "Did Horatio moan?"
"Yeah. A lot." He hung up. "Speed should be fine. They're working on pumping blood back into him right now." He looked at Xander again. "It's Ray, right?" He nodded, losing his smile. "We'll keep an ear out for him."
"Thanks, I was trolling for him when I heard he had went to Touchstone."
"Then you figured he came here?"
"The bouncer said he left with someone and was talking about the park. He pointed me this way."
"Even better." He walked in carefully, going to check the body. "Cal?"
"I know, Eric. I have known. I've been backing up Horatio with this issue recently." That got a nod and she looked at Ryan. "We think it has something to do with Horatio's former brother."
"I heard about him and I'll keep that in mind," he agreed. "Why kill the horse?"
"To bring the officer down," Xander said simply. "He could have gotten away but not with his horse out of commission. You bring the horse down, the rider falls or jumps, then you get the rider."
Ryan looked at him. "Are you a war expert?"
"No, just been in a few."
"Okay." He got back to work, thinking about that. He looked at Eric, who shook his head. "We're not going to worry?"
"Horatio has him well in hand." He looked over. "You went trolling in those clothes?"
"All the better to fit in with." He looked at the woman walking up next to him. "ME Woods. I'm a fan." He let her under the tape. She gave him an odd look. "Xander Harris, we've seen some of your work in the past."
"That Gregory boy?" He nodded. "Did he not go bad?"
"No. Buffy's presently dating him."
She shook her head. "I don't know why."
"She's like that. Apparently they do it for her," he said dryly. She snorted, going to check. The officer watching him gave him an odd look. "She stitched him up once. That's how I know her."
"Oh. Okay." He just nodded. Someone would explain the strange young man to him if he was meant to know. If not, he'd drink him out of his mind later. Horatio came back. "Lieutenant."
"Thank you." He nodded, heading off. "Calleigh?"
"Bitten," she said.
"Mine too, H," Eric agreed.
"Mine's just stabbed," Ryan offered. "Poor horse."
"If we had found them earlier he might've lived," Xander admitted. "But we had a live victim up the path." He looked at him. "Will he be okay?"
"He'll be fine," he assured him. "He's already swearing that you're here too."
"Awww, I love being the bearer of good love."
Horatio shook his head, ducking under the tape to go check the bodies for himself. Eric gave Xander a glance then him a stare. "Yes, I know. He's a Watcher," he said quietly.
"Well, he's certainly good at it," Ryan quipped quietly.
Xander looked at him. "That means I'm a member of an organization that tracks this sort of activity. We research it, help stop it, help find those who do it and stop them. That sort of thing." He looked at Horatio again. "Want me to stay? Giles gave me the 'move' ultimatum. Apparently I'm spending more money than the girls when they go bra shopping."
"No, I know where you'll be, Xander. I'll talk to you in the morning?"
"I'm with that. I'll be checking out tomorrow and moving to wherever they find me. I'll let you know." He walked off, heading to catch a cab back to the hotel. He found a message for him and smiled, holding it up. "Is that a hole? The boss said I had to move somewhere more reasonable since it's going to be a while."
He looked then shrugged. "Not that bad of a hole and with where you've been hunting this serial killer, it's nearby." Xander gave him an amused look. "It's a job," he admitted.
"We all need one," he agreed. "Okay, have me checking out tomorrow and leave a copy of this for Lieutenant Caine please?" He nodded, copying it down and handing the original back. "Thanks, man." He headed upstairs, going to pack his few things and his extra sodas. Then a long, hot shower, and coming out to find Horatio in his room. "Already done?"
"No trace around the bodies again." He held up the message. "Not a great place."
"The guy at the desk said it's near where I've been looking for him."
"It is, but it's still dangerous." Xander gave him an odd look. "Good point. Are you all right?"
"Not the first bodies I've seen, Horatio. But thank you for asking," he said more gently. Horatio smiled. "Any new leads?" he asked to push down the funny feelings that smile started.
"We're checking the cab companies to see if he was picked up at the park." He moved closer. "What about you?"
"One of the drag queens on Rayford said she'd seen him, that's who pointed me in the club's direction."
"Possibly. Was Speed supposed to be there?"
"That's where he goes to jog and walk," he admitted. "It could've been coincidence."
"Or it could've been a setup to make you ache," he offered. Horatio nodded at that. "Like I said, you have more than enough time to yell when we catch him." That got a gentle smile and Xander gave him a quick hug. "We'll catch him soon, Horatio. Make sure the others will be fine. That one guy seemed kinda like me when I was younger and jumping in."
"He can be." He gave him a pat on the back and Xander let go. "Thank you."
"Not an issue. We'll figure it out tomorrow."
"Will you need a ride?"
"For two bags and a bag of soda?"
"Good point." He smiled and left, going back to his office to start working on this. He did call the task force to let them know that their current scene was not the same as the one they were doing. They were getting snippy about him taking cases again.
Xander walked into the efficiency and grimaced. "We need lysol," he decided, putting things down in a chair once he had checked it for biological deposits. He looked up. "Willow, wanna clean it for me?" he called. A bright light and the room was spotless, even the bathroom. Also, his hunting pack was there. "Thanks, dear. Happy kitties." He felt her leave after a book plopped down on the bed. "Huh." He sat down to read it, frowning at the information. "I'm not taking him out. Angel can freak all he wants. He probably deserved it." He tossed it aside and laid down on the bed, wiggling some. It was comfortable. He sighed, letting himself take a short nap. When he woke up, Horatio was standing there. "The book was a gift from Willow. Apparently Angel's still freaking." He yawned. "Welcome to my slum of the moment. Pull up a chair, Willow cleaned it."
"I noticed it was spotless. This place wasn't this clean when it was new." He sat across from him, letting Xander sit up. "You sleep fairly deeply for a hunter." Xander pointed at the inside of the door. "Friend markings."
"If it wasn't I'd wake up."
"Good to know." He looked at him. "We have his lair narrowed down to a small section of the city."
"No. Nearly impossible to search. He's hiding among some homeless in an enclave."
"Are they in danger?"
"They're not yet. He's using them for cover."
"Is he living with them or using them as a break to find a different persona to hide in?"
"That's what's worrying me. Ray spent a good deal of time undercover." He looked at his hands then at him. "I have no idea where he's going from there."
"What's nearby geographically? Going a long distance from there is impractical and cabbies would talk about picking someone up repeatedly from a known area of homeless."
"Within quick walking distance? About ten buildings gone condo, two houses, one office building. A coffee shop...."
"He's still got some needs. Does he have any addictions?"
"Beyond that. Coffee, soda, chocolate? Wheatabix?" Horatio gave him an odd look. "Spike put it in his mugs of blood. Said it gave it texture."
"Spike needs to be put out of our misery," he said blandly. "No, he's never been a picky eater. Nothing like a coffee addiction that I know of."
"Brazil at the moment."
"Huh. What's his type of woman?"
"A bit weaker, he likes to be in control. Yelina was his equal but not fully in some matters. She let him have a lot of control at the house so she didn't have to deal with things after a long day at work. She's a detective as well."
"Is he making himself a new princess? His own Druscilla, or is he looking for an easy cover, like Suzy?"
Horatio stared at him for a minute. "He won't turn Yelina. He might blame her for what happened but he wouldn't turn her. She's the sort to kill him then herself if she found herself turned." Xander nodded. "So he could be making his new wife."
"It's a pattern you see a lot in humanity. You lose one, you make a new one."
"So we're probably looking for him to be living with a woman. Probably about his own age. One that he can gently dominate but not be forceful with. She probably knows about him."
"Maybe not. I've seen some who covered really well," Xander offered. "She could think he's got a cold nature and an aversion to the sunlight, like an allergy."
"Which could lead to a lower body temperature," he agreed. He considered it. "We can look and ask around there. Discreetly. I'll do that today. You finish your nap." Xander nodded, laying back down. "Should I pick you up anything on the way over tonight?"
"Food's good. I could stand some Chinese, even the stuff you microwave. It's going to be a while before I go grocery shopping but I'll pay you back."
"I can see us having a working dinner, Xander." He let himself out, smiling when the locks were put on and then the boy went back to bed. He waited until he heard the first snore, then headed to the area to check on things. He found a few likely places after talking to one of the clerks at the grocery store, then went to wait. That night he changed his form, going to fog, floating up and around the buildings he had as targets. He found something that felt like Ray and changed into a rat, watching inside the condo. It did smell like Ray to him. A weaker, washed out version. Definitely a vampire version. He saw the woman watching and stared back, making her shudder and walk off complaining to a friend about the rat problem they were suddenly having. He got out of the way when the woman came to the window. He didn't need to be beaten with a broom tonight. He fogged back up, heading into the building's air conditioning vents, going to search more scents of his brother. This way he could check the apartment itself and remain unbroomed for a bit longer. Fortunately the women stayed downstairs. He found evidence of Ray's new identity and got out of there, heading back to have dinner with Xander. Who was awake and scowling at his laptop. He handed it over. "I know who he's living with."
"Okay, now I'm really impressed. Did we talk to her?"
"No, I searched her bedroom." He handed over the chinese food he had been asked to pick up and Xander held out a ten. "Spare your Mr. Giles some money, Xander. I can get dinner tonight." He sat across from him, watching him eat and type the name into his laptop. "Willow?"
"Yuppers. She's doing a fast search on him." He ate another bite, watching the screen flow past. "He's got a lease car in his name but it's had an insurance claim filed recently. Said he was smacked into at a red light. There's a bank account. No other lease properties in the system. One judgement against him from a former landlord for damage to an apartment." He ate another bite. "His federal cover identity. She had to turn off their alarm on it." He put down the food, pulling the laptop closer. "They think he came back to work. I'll be damned." Horatio came over to look over his shoulder. "Do you guys know them?"
"Very well. They irritate me to no end."
"Hmm." He tapped his fingers on the keys a few times before sending an IM to Willow. She got them the file and kept going. "Interesting." He let Horatio read it. "If that's true, then he's got a nestegg to start over again."
"He did have a good hand with his retirement fund when he needed it," Horatio admitted, feeling a bit sad. Why hadn't Ray come to him? He was his brother. He would have helped him with anything he needed. Xander reached over to squeeze his wrist. "I don't understand what would make him start doing this."
"We can ask him when we find him," he pointed out gently. "As long as he's contained and can't get out you can have him for as long as you need, Horatio." That got a small smile. "I'm not the mean one. That's the one hacking for us. Hence my scowl when you came in."
"Which one affected you that way?" he asked.
Xander leaned back. "There's been a few. Remember, Sunnydale was a tiny town. I knew most of the ones we staked. I knew a lot of them since the first day of school."
"So am I but it was necessary. I know at least one would've gone to hunt down models to nibble on. He had a severe addiction to their pictures. Then they could've starved themselves as thin as they wanted," he joked.
Horatio shook his head. "Less joking, Xander."
"Aww, come on. Think about it. All those models going to Angel for protection, asking him what he used in his hair and who did his clothes. All the fussy, flighty women who scream like they're dying when they break a nail." Horatio shook his head but he was smiling. "All those little waif wannabes going up to beg him to be their big, strong protector while he fought off the evil eternal teenager."
"That was one habit I always found disturbing about their kind. That they turned teenagers. An eternal hormone bomb waiting to pounce and bite the wrong person."
"I'm guessing that's why most slayers are called as teenagers." Horatio laughed at that. "Not like most of them would go after an older woman. Buffy's been complaining a lot recently because she can't get them to play with her in the clubs so she can hunt them easily. A few of them have sneered because she's old."
"Twenty-four isn't old."
"It is for a slayer. Remember, their life expectancy is eighteen months if they're lucky. They're called as teenagers. Buffy got called at fifteen."
"Which is an amazing feat, mostly because she had backup and didn't follow the traditional ways."
"No, not hardly. Maybe sleeping with her vampires makes her stronger?" he teased.
Horatio coughed and blushed. "It's possible, though I don't know what sort of strength sleeping with Angel would help grow, except against boredom." He had to force down some images that weren't appropriate for this meeting. It was something they'd have to check someday.
"He was her first."
"Ah, she didn't know any better."
"Yeah, then she had the one night stand user guy, then Riley from the Initiative, then Spike. Now she's dating someone your Doctor Woods sewed up."
"While she lives there is ever hope she'll grow up and find someone better."
Xander smirked his most evil smirk. "Willow did a 'my will be done' spell once. Buffy nearly ended up marrying Spike."
Horatio burst out in high-pitched cackles. "We should send him a belated wedding present congratulating him."
"I send him a card every year," he agreed happily. "I get growled at like you wouldn't believe. Especially by Angel when I sent it to him in LA."
Horatio laughed. "I can just imagine those two comparing."
"Angel would brood more because Spike got her more often and had more fun."
Horatio shook his head, going back to reading but he was in a better mood now. It was nice. He found what he needed and handed it back. "We'll track him tonight, Xander."
"If he hasn't sensed you."
"True, if so we'll stake out their condo." Xander nodded. "Thank you, I needed that."
"That's my most important gift," he said happily. "Do you think I should troll tonight?"
"No. Let him rest for the night. He's not going to kill tonight." Xander nodded. "You be safe. Finish your rest." He walked out, going back to his house to think. Possibly brood a little bit but mostly to think. Xander's 'no one sees the real me' was true. He was just now starting to see the depths of that young man. Usually he picked up on people much faster than that. It was part of the calling after all. He settled in to call his sire and tell him how it was going. He had wanted updated. "Did you know Spike nearly married Buffy?" he asked in greeting. His sire spluttered and all his wives complained so apparently they had been in bed. He shrieked a 'what' and Horatio laughed. "Thanks to their witch and her doing a compulsion spell on them Spike nearly ended up marrying Buffy once. Xander told me earlier," he said smugly. "Every year he sends them a 'congratulations' card to remind him. She was also nearly mixed up in that Initiative mess."
He heard about that from his sire, who had been around watching her then. "We do have a location on him. Or at least where he's pretending to be living. We'll start tracking him tomorrow. He's gone to ground tonight. I've set someone on the house to watch it in case he comes in later. Of course I'll keep you informed. It will be fine, Sire. I know it will be. Xander has assured me I could have the time to ask as many questions as I wanted of him before he's...destroyed. Thank you for your sympathy. When this is done I may take you up on the offer of a vacation. No, they're still in Brazil. He's picked up a new woman. Making himself a new wife," he told him. He smiled. "Thank you, Sire. Do have fun and let them take that image from you if you want." He hung up, going to get a mug of blood and then go read something. Then he thought better of it and went to visit Speed in the hospital. He walked into his room, looking at his poor, injured CSI. "At this rate you'll never come back."
Speed blinked at him. "Damn they give me good drugs. You've got a halo around you."
"It's the light from the hall." He walked in further, sitting beside him. "How are you feeling?"
"Cranky. I ache." Horatio smiled at him. "Don't you dare be smug. Who was that guy anyway? I thought he said he was a Watcher."
"He is. One my sire ran into," he said quietly, squeezing his hand. "Xander is very unique."
"Is he after you too?"
"No. I've been watching his journal entries. They have him putting it up online for them. He's mentioned me a few times. Mostly complimentary. Though he did say I startled him once. He's told me I can have all the time I need to talk with Ray before he's dealt with." Speed nodded. "It would be so much easier if you would let me."
"It comes with too many problems for the benefits," he said quietly, staring him down. "If you do it against my will I will scream at you."
"If you ever get shot again you can scream all you want," he said simply. Speed grimaced, nodding some. "Now, why wasn't your gun clean this time?"
"I was fighting your compulsion."
"Next time, don't." He smoothed some of his hair off his brow. "Before I strengthen it. Ryan Wolfe does his every day."
"Ryan's OCD. If you turn me OCD, we're going to have a talk with a sword between us, Horatio."
Horatio smiled. "You don't know how to use a sword, Speed."
"I'll learn really fast."
"Sire once made Xander eat bugs."
"And he's not going to get back at you?"
"No. He tormented him when he ran into him in Italy. He found him hitting on a new wife and came up pretending to be his lover until she shrieked and ran off." Speed smirked at him. "He does drive Sire insane," he agreed. "He wished me much sanity dealing with him. He suggested I eat him but if I turn him I had better have a very good reason, like he's the reincarnated soul of a lover or something."
"He claims he asked someone and they said he was a new soul."
"Uh-huh," Speed said dryly. "Are we attracted to him?"
Horatio shrugged. "He's interesting; a bit odd but in a good way. He made me laugh earlier when I was thinking too hard. Mr. Giles made him move to an efficiency near the harbor instead of his hotel. Said it was too expensive."
"Poor guy. How long did he have to clean?"
"He asked Willow to do so for him."
"She also sent him the original story as a hint of how to get rid of me. He said he didn't want to." He gave his hand another squeeze. "How are you feeling beyond cranky and sore?"
"Mostly those two. They let Alexx feed me dinner earlier. Withheld the boiled fish and mashed potatoes. Thankfully." He shifted some. "I'm worried that this is going to hurt you, Horatio."
"He said I can have as long as I need with him before he's fixed," he said gently. "I can yell, interrogate, whatever I need to make it easier on myself."
"Who was his?"
"He won't tell me. He did point out that Sunnydale was a very small town so he knew most of them he had to stake."
"That's a soul hit there," he agreed. He yawned. "You have blood breath."
"Sorry. I won't kiss you then."
"You do and I'm making Eric prank you."
"If that's what you want," he promised, kissing him on the forehead. "Rest, Speed. We need you back. Eric's driving me insane fighting with Mr. Wolfe." Speed gave him a smug look. "I know, Eric doesn't deal well with change. Slap him around for me, all right?" Speed nodded. "He just came off the elevator." He gave him another pat. "Get better soon." He left, letting Eric have it. "All yours. He's a bit tired but he'll stay awake for you."
"Thanks, H. How's it going?"
"We have a good clue," he admitted. "We're waiting for him to resurface."
"Let me know if I can help, H." He tapped on Speed's door then walked in, ducking the thrown pillow. "What did I do this time?"
The door shut and Horatio walked off happier. He drove back by Xander's motel but his lights were off. His heartbeat was up there so he was sure he was fine. He headed back to his place much happier again. It would be fine and they would catch Ray before he did too many more stupid things. Then he would kick his brother's ass until he begged for mercy.
Xander paced around his house, frowning at the noise-making Giles was doing in his ear.
//Then tell your sire that you need to move in with him, Xander.//
"Giles, once again I'll point out I haven't been turned. I don't plan on being turned. What's with the turning thing all of a sudden anyway?"
//Willow was doing a finding and couldn't find you.//
"Giles, we do have a lot of shielded buildings down here," he said impatiently. He turned and nearly ran into Horatio, making him squeak and bat him on the chest. "I told you to quit sneaking up on me. It's not polite. Here, tell Giles I'm not turned." He handed over the phone.
"My sire told me I could not and would not turn him unless he was an ancient enemy or the lost soul of an ancient lover," Horatio said patiently. He listened to Giles splutter. "Though Xander does seem to mind me practicing my stealth maneuvers on him."
"Do it to the lab, Horatio. Not to me. I might jump and reach for a weapon and then it'd look bad if a police officer almost died in here." He took the phone back. "See, not turned. So you can bitch Willow out too. Ooh, and whoever's doing paychecks please? Not only was mine light, mine was light for my past traveling expenses too, Giles. Do fix that before my next trip to Cleveland involved explosives. Because fire pretty."
//He's a police officer?//
"Yes, Giles, he is a Lieutenant in the local PD. He does good things."
//That's odd for a vampire.//
"He killed Nazis, he's already on the positive side of the Karma scale, Giles; get back to the point of my paycheck being six hundred light plus without traveling expenses."
//You do realize that you have a whole section of the budget in your name?// he asked grimly.
"Yay me. If you don't like it, you can travel. Now, please fix my paycheck being light. Not like I'm on a real vacation. I don't have a tan or anything."
"There hasn't been any sun recently," Horatio said dryly. He sat down to wait and watch. Xander grinned at him. "There won't be for another two days."
"See, at least two more days of no-sun. And my paycheck was still light. Fix it, Giles."
//I could demand that you get a standard place, pay half the rent,// he offered.
"And what would I do for the other half?"
//Get a roommate?//
"I'll put an ad out tonight. Vampire hunter seeking roomie to share expenses." Horatio chuckled, shaking his head. "See he doesn't believe it either. This is a legitimate working expense, Giles. Though I could be mean to Horatio and threaten to settle down here since there's only three hunters."
//Someone has to go to Rome soon.//
"Then send Spike! I loathe Rome."
//Too many holy spots.//
"Yay. Then send Willow. Someone will feed her cats." He started to pace again. "I'm not going to Rome, Giles. I don't care, I hate Rome and I don't particularly like the former Watchers living over there. So no, send Buffy. Let them see why you got warped from the old ways they glorify."
//That's a bit mean, Xander,// Giles complained.
"And? Hello, having to pay half of everything down here from my paycheck and it was light, Giles. I'm going to be mean today. Unless you want me out there trolling for serial killers in a whole different way." Horatio growled at that, earning a funny look. "He suggested it earlier."
"I'd hate to have to arrest you, Xander," Horatio said calmly.
"See, he doesn't like that idea either." He heard the depressed sounding sigh. "You're the one who decided to bring us back to the corporate standard. Not like this trip is half as expensive as rebuilding the building in London when Willow made it explode by sneezing." He heard the shudder. "Or the one in Milan when Buffy thumped it wrong." A longer shudder. "So fix the damn paycheck, Giles. I'm sorry Miami's expensive. I'll ask the vampire going around killing people to please move to a cheaper county, or up by Orlando so I can visit Disney. When will it be fixed?"
//I'll cut the other check tonight, once I find your forms, Xander,// he complained.
"They're in a folder on your desk with my name on them. Willow puts them in the same place every time. You know, you could do things with the computer and make it much easier."
//You know I loathe those machines like you do Rome.//
"Hey, send Buffy."
//What did Rome do to you?// Giles demanded. //That's incredibly cruel to them.//
"The Pope dresses funny and he decided I'm demonic when we ran into his entourage during a hunt," he said grimly. "Then I had to give him the historical truth and he hates me even more now. Told me I'm not doing God's work, I'm doing Satan's work and I'm no better than they are. So I told him he dresses funny and if he's hearing God's voice maybe he should see someone about that. Now, when? That way I can reasonably have dinner?"
//What happened to the rest of it?//
"You didn't pay the rent, Giles. I had to."
//I knew I forgot something,// he sighed. //Did you send that too?//
"Yuppers, emailed the form to Willow earlier. Find the file with my name on it that's not my personnel record." He held his head, going back to pacing. He heard the amused sounding grunt. "I see you found it and the expenses you haven't paid me for. Yes, you are paying me back for that hawaiian shirt. Your banishing potion ate it, you're paying to replace it."
//I hated that shirt. It's ugly.//
"And? I can say the same thing about tweed. Plus that it itches. Send Wes to Rome. He could use a vacation. Angel's been pissing him off again."
//I could do that. That's a good suggestion. Plus Winifred might like to do some traveling. Oh, she sent you cookies and something I probably shouldn't send through the mail to you. Not quite sure what she whipped up in the lab this time.//
"Have Willow magicgram it then. No post office fuss." He flopped down on his bed. "It's coming when?"
//Tonight, Xander. Have your sire treat you to dinner.//
//Just kidding, dear boy. Though he could treat.//
"He did the day you made me move."
//That's been a few months. Surely he can afford a hamburger. What did you do with the other paychecks?//
"Willow made me stuff my retirement account again by putting the money there without telling me," he said impatiently. "I think it was her plan to make me look broker than I am or make me bend to her will this time."
//Well, you could stake him.//
"I'm not going to stake him, Giles. He's doing good for humanity. He enjoys watching me hunt. Plus the people down here need him. Though if you keep it up I'm moving down here."
//Want a few cats?//
"Not particularly. If you keep it up, I'm sending you some cats. It'll be like the musical around the hotel."
//Should you I'll fire you.//
"Should my paycheck be light again I'm going to bomb the hotel and find good homes for the cats. Faith's twins would love them. You don't treat your staff like that unless you want them to quit and take that offer from the FBI for double my current salary." He looked at his nails. "Of course, as soon as I did that I'd have to turn Willow in for hacking...."
//Fine, I'll have it sent in tonight, Xander, and I'll have Willow fix your retirement fund so you have it again.//
"Plus my traveling expenses."
//Plus the dratted traveling expenses. How the old Council ran like this I have no idea.//
"They used computers to do those forms and they had access to funds you haven't tried to get, Giles. Remember, the building blew up but there was insurance there, plus the funds are just sitting in a bank in the Caymans and London somewhere."
//I'll have Willow and Gunn look into that. Thank you, Xander, and do have a good dinner with your sire.// He hung up.
Xander hung up, holding his head. "He's back on that again since I won't stake you."
"I'm rather glad you won't stake me," Horatio admitted. Xander grinned at him. "I know, as soon as I quit doing good for the world."
"Exactly." He looked over as something thumped onto the bed behind him, opening the package. He looked at the liquid in the vial, giving it a sniff. "Hmm, new scent." He heard the growl. "Not a new cologne?"
"Only if she's playing with wolf pheromones."
Xander handed it over. "Here. Can I see your puppy form?"
"I don't often go to wolf form," he admitted, capping it again and putting it beside the tv. "It's too noticeable in the city. Rats are seen everywhere and fog is convenient."
"What about your bat form?"
"I get lost," Horatio admitted blandly.
Xander grinned. "Good to know. I won't count on that skill." Horatio growled again so he smirked. "What?" He pulled out the new shirt, smiling at it. "Awww, Gunn bought me a new shirt." He put it behind him and found the birthday card. He smiled as he read it, putting it on top of the shirt. Underneath was a real check. "Ha! Giles made it out and had her send it." He held it up. "Including the traveling expenses and this time's rent."
"That's fairly low," Horatio complained.
"Well, yeah. I get a grand a month."
"That's under the poverty limit."
"Not in three-quarters of the places I've been."
"Good point," Horatio agreed. "I'll let you cash it at my bank, Xander." Xander tucked it into his wallet, grabbing his keys as well. "Where did you want dinner?"
"Not like I care. As long as we can plan this month's trolling."
"We'll have it at my place?"
"Up to you. The blonde wife won't mind?"
"She's not a wife, Xander. She's a coworker and friend." He followed him out the door. "I have no desire to own multiple nagging females who want to keep me from what little rest I get." Xander gave him a shy grin. "Or for that reason either," he agreed dryly. "Though I will tell her you said that."
"Sure, she can come help me troll if she wants. Play client?"
"I doubt she'd do that. She's more likely to spank you." He let him into the hummer, getting into his own side. It was a short drive to a branch of his bank. He put his account number on it and they cashed it readily with that. Xander tucked the money into his wallet as they walked out, heading to his house for dinner. On the way he did call and order something so it'd get there about the same time they did. It was easier that way. He watched as Xander *appreciated* his house. He smiled, he patted it, he smelled it. "You need to settle down," he said gently.
"I'm about ready to. Just so I don't have to go back to Rome."
"I liked Rome."
"I didn't mind most of the city but the old Watchers and the Pope did kinda put a damper on it." He followed him inside, staring at the view for a few minutes. "This is really nice. You chose well."
"Thank you. I sit and watch that at night when I can't sleep." Xander turned to look at him. "No matter how old you get, some things will sill affect you."
"Good to know." He came over to help by setting the table. Horatio went to get the food order when they rang the bell, but he heard the irritated grunt so he turned around. "Sergeant Stetler, are you joining us for dinner? We're having a planning session."
"No, I'm not. I'm here to see why you're still in Miami."
"He hasn't been caught yet. We've gotten close three different times but missed him because he left a living victim." Xander shrugged. "We're making plans to try again tomorrow night. Did you want to help?"
"No." He glared at Horatio. "Some things have come to the Chief's attention about your department's budget."
"This can wait," Horatio told him.
"No, the Chief said he wants you right now. Your phone is off," he sneered.
Xander walked over and casually knocked him out, then went back to the view. "You go, I'll be here."
Horatio smiled at him. "He'll yell at me for that."
"No he won't. He'll yell at me for that. He'll splutter and scream at you to arrest me for that."
Horatio snickered, going to call his boss. "You sent the unfortunately passed out Stetler to find me, sir?" He listened, snapping his fingers and handing Xander his wallet. Xander went to get the food order. The delivery guy gave him an odd look so Xander winked and made up a good excuse, making him laugh. "No, I'm not sure why he passed out, sir. I'm having a planning dinner with the consultant actually. We're not paying him, sir. His own people are. Poorly but they are paying him." He smirked. "Is that the only problem? Of course. You did cut the budget," he reminded him. "That did force a number of us to use those methods." He nodded, rolling his eyes.
Xander took the phone. "Chief, Xander Harris, the underpaid consultant. Is this something that needs more paperwork, less paperwork, or a problem that'll be fixed if the city had a two million dollar grant?" He spluttered for a minute then said the grant would fix that. "Then let him and I find a few grants for him to apply for. Right now he's got to destress because we've got to go hunting again tomorrow night. Actually it smells like Italian food. You too, sir. And of course we'll wake Stetler up when we can. For right now I think he's needing his nap on the porch. You have a good night, sir." He hung up, handing back the phone. The food went onto the table and Stetler got put onto the front porch swing, then Xander came in dusting off his hands. "Where can I clean up?" Horatio pointed, waiting until he was alone to burst out laughing. "Welcome," Xander called from the bathroom. He came out. "I didn't even put a 'free to a good home' sign on him."
"Thank you for that. I'd never hear the end of it."
"Eehh. Sometimes I can be nice. Other times I'm just me." He sat down in the chair Horatio wasn't using, taking his filled plate. "Thank you, kind sir. And if you make a joke about Mina Harker I'm going to bite you."
"He had many nice dates with her," he admitted. "She was a beautiful woman. I much preferred someone with a bit more attitude." He dug in, eating with a small moan. "Good food is universal."
"Beats grub worms." He dug in and moaned. "Oh, this is good." Horatio smiled. "Thank you for spoiling me with real food."
"Maybe you should gather your own wives?"
"I got offered four in Africa. And one in Bolivia." He ate another bite with a small moan.
"Only the five?"
"So far. Well, one girl had a crush but I had to dash her hopes of marrying an American by telling her how low paid I was. To them it was fantastic."
"It can be depending on where you are." He ate another bite, watching Xander appreciate everything. "Want some wine?" Xander shook his head. "You're sure? It'll go well."
"I try hard not to drink. It does funny things to my head. I might end up being caveslayer or something."
Xander smirked, eating another bite before answering. His stunned and horrified expression was cute. He'd have to try to provoke it again sometime. "Back in her first semester at college, I was working in one of the college bars. The owner had a brother who was a sorcerer. He made a potion to slip into the beer on tap. He claimed that the frat boys were neanderthals anyway...." Horatio burst out cackling, getting a nod back. "Buffy got some too," he agreed. "Went cave slayer. Went hunting that way. Bopped the guy who used her and dumped her over the head. Nearly got trapped by a fire because she was going 'fire pretty' for a while." He ate another bite. "She had the sloped brow and everything. She nearly matched with Angel's forehead." His date clutched the table so he wouldn't fall out of his chair. "I got a bunch of 'boy smell good' and she tried to carry me off with her to have cave slayer sex. She batted at Giles too. The frat boys were easier to deal with than her."
"I can see Eric or Speed doing something like that." He heard someone moving outside, focusing on it. "He's up from his nap."
"Is he any prettier?"
"No, probably not."
"Pity but Buffy apparently staked her last boyfriend. Can we set them up?"
"Only if he goes up there."
Xander pulled out his phone. "I found someone you should meet and date and he's *human*. Wanna pull him by magic? Horatio's front porch at the moment. Sure, you can do that. If it doesn't work out, send him back to Miami." He hung up and watched as a bright flash went off outside. Then a second one. "See? You asked and you did receive."
"You make a very good impersonation of Santa, Xander."
"Better that than Satan."
Horatio reached over to touch his hand. "You do God's work. You have been doing God's work. They had holy hunters for generations. You have nothing to fear on Judgement Day."
"Well, maybe the sleeping with Anya thing," he said dryly.
"No, that was a test sent from God to prove that you were still doing his work. Otherwise you wouldn't have been so worn out." He gave his hand a squeeze and ate another bite. "How did you find Milan?"
"It was nice."
"What building did Buffy tear down by hitting it?"
"An art shop. It was kinda old wood and she got frustrated, hit a side wall with her fist. Cracked it and the old plaster inside, the wall fell in, the roof caved. Giles gets a call from the police station and it's Buffy going 'Giles, I think I messed up. A building caved in. An expensive, old building caved in. All I did was smack it in frustration!'. I'm back on one of my day-long layovers and we hear him screaming and ranting at the top of his lungs so Willow puts it on speaker to see what the emergency is. It cost him nearly two million dollars to have it fixed and all the art replaced or repaired. Or else they were going to keep Buffy. The accountant Giles hired suggested it was more cost effective to let her stay and rebuild it in person."
Horatio smiled at that. "Can she build?"
"I taught her how to hammer a nail, I don't know if she still can or not." A bright flash went off. "Well, looks like I have bad taste for her too." He got up and went to check, finding his suit and a bunch of flowers. "Or maybe not." He looked at the card on the flowers. "For you. Giles sends his thanks for making her quit dating those things she's supposed to stake. He didn't want to hear more about staking games." He handed over the flowers. "I left his suit out there."
"Thank you." He sniffed the flowers, smiling at the pretty arrangement. He put them in some water and brought them back. "Hopefully he'll be happy with her. Better her than Yelina."
"It was stress. She thought it was uncomplicated."
"I haven't met a woman yet who believes in that theory."
"She doesn't either," he admitted, digging in again. He waved his fork. "Eat." Xander dug in again, eating heartily. "Are you planning on stalking or trolling this month?"
"I seem to have better luck trolling and the girls are really starting to appreciate me since I drive the creepy dirtbags off." Horatio smiled. "I'll troll, you stalk, and I think he's going to go back to where he stabbed Speed this time. He's been branching back toward that park again. I'll start there."
"That would be fine. I did have to warn the Vice commander that you're doing that so you weren't picked up. I showed him your picture and he said you're safe if they see you as long as you're not actively picking up people." Xander grinned. "A new outfit this month?"
"No, I was going to go back to the outfit I wore at the club the last time. Tight black leather pants and a tank top."
"You did look good enough to buy," Horatio admitted.
"Gee, thanks. Maybe that's how I'll make up for the crappy paychecks." His watch beeped so he looked at it. "Oh, hey, we've got to do the cardio check tomorrow. Gotta find the heart monitor."
Horatio gave him an odd look. "He makes you check in by heart monitor?"
"Every month. That way he makes sure I'm still alive. It was bad the months I couldn't in Africa. He said he nearly sent a rescue team until Willow verified I was still alive. Oh, that was part of his problem today. She tried to find me the day I went to the movies."
Xander's phone rang. "Harris." He smiled. "No, Buffy, he doesn't want me. He hates me because I'm working with Horatio to find the killer vamp. He doesn't like Horatio at all. That's why he's asking about me. Tell him something mildly embarrassing while you strip off for him then pounce. Yeah, that's my guy opinion. He's doing too much thinking." He hung up. "He asked her about me a few times, she was worried I set her up with a gay guy."
"Not the last time I knew," Horatio admitted, considering it. "Yelina never said anything." He ate another bite. "Though I can't see him as the passionate affair sort."
"You'd be surprised how much fire some people hide under their exteriors," Xander said dryly. "Even nice little ones like Willow have a lot fire. Hers comes out in her temper usually but it's there." He finished up and looked at the last piece of garlic bread, getting a gentle smile and a nod. "Thanks, man." He nibbled on it while he thought. "Do you think Rayford or the other spot he hit last month? He has repeated in the past if he thought it was safer."
"I can have the Vice unit start raiding the other areas but Rayford. That way we can herd him," he offered. "We need to do another sweep for runaways anyway." He finished his dinner.
"That's one of the best meals I've had in recent memory. Are they hugely expensive?"
"Not really. Family owned. Recent immigrants." He smiled. "You should start thinking about settling down."
"I am. Miami only has three hunters. It's damn expensive to live here though. Any cheaper areas around?"
"Not likely," he admitted. "Homestead might be with the base." He shrugged. "Would your Mr. Giles allow it?"
"Probably. He offered to pay half my rent and bills if I did."
Horatio patted his hand again. "You'll figure it out, Xander. Everyone needs a place to call home."
Xander looked at him. "Where do you call home?"
"Mine is in my heart." He smiled gently. "I've been many places through my life. My original home burned during the Middle Ages, there had been a family that died of plague in it so they burned it." He sipped his water. "You'll find one." Xander nodded. "What happened to Sire's things? One of the wives wanted to know."
"Spike and I raided them. They're in storage. You know he decorated like a girl, right? Tapestry stuff, lamme, all that sort of stuff?"
"He often does. It's why I can't stand to do more than visit him," Horatio said dryly. Xander grinned. "Let's find the map." Xander found it and they figured out where they were going to hit the next night. Horatio would be stalking from a car, looking like he was hunting for some fun. Xander would be down among them getting information and finding the bastard. It worked well. Xander even helped him load the dishwasher. It was a nice gesture.
Xander had an unfulfilling night of hunting and was pouting on his way back to his motel room. A dark limo pulled up next to him and he glanced at it, mentally smirking when the window went down. "Nice ride." He semi-consciously flexed his rear in the very tight leather pants that made his butt look holy.
"Get in," Horatio ordered, trying to compulse him. Xander slid in. He'd let Horatio do what he wanted this time. Then he'd get to play. Horatio played with his hair. "You would make an excellent snack, Xander, but you're much too dangerous for that." Xander nodded, smirking physically now. "I have other uses for that mouth of yours. Suck," he ordered, trying to make it another compulsion.
Xander considered it then decided what the hell. He was frustrated and needed the stress relief. He nuzzled, earning a purr of approval. He slowly made his way into his pants, giving little kitten licks, little nuzzles, little encouragements for Horatio to think he had won this round. He got to work on the hard cock, making him hiss but arch his hips up, the hand in his hair encouraging him to go down further. He did then went back to teasing him, glancing up at him to make sure he was enjoying it.
Horatio growled. "Do more, Xander." He gave his head another encouraging push and it went further again, making him moan and arch up again. "Ahhh. That's nice. Very nice." Xander nipped him on the side, one hand coming in to play with his balls. "Gently." Xander teased them with a fingertip. He shifted to slide his pants down, giving him more access. The finger went back farther and he knew what he was doing so he let him. His prostate was found and it was great. He could feel himself getting closer and closer. He fanged up, sucking in a breath between them. He came in his mouth, watching him clean it up for him. "I should nibble on you."
"As long as you don't take too much," Xander said, still stroking his finger in and out of him. Horatio hummed and leaned down to sniff at his neck. Xander tipped his head back. "Not more than a pint, Horatio. You know how this game goes." Horatio smiled and ruffled his hair. "You sure? Last chance unless you're going to take from my thigh later while you blow me."
"It's too hard to stop the bleeding from there."
Xander shrugged. "That's your thing." He stood up and pulled Horatio's feet up, finding the glass of champagne he had spotted when he got in. He poured it on himself and pushed inside him, leaning on his legs. "I told you I don't compulse," he said with a wicked smirk. "Now it's my turn to play." Horatio was still looking shocked but it quickly changed into a closed-eye, moaning, begging face as he got to work on him, hard and fast, then slowly pulling back until he was only using the head of his cock on him. "Beg me."
"I don't beg," he groaned.
"You will or you're not getting the rest of it back." He slammed in once, twice then went back to only using the head, stimulating the tight ring of muscle. Horatio tried to move but Xander had his hips off the seat and his legs over his shoulders. "Beg, Horatio. Beg me prettily and we'll be good."
"I don't beg," he growled. Xander grinned, leaning down to breathe over his cock, earning a higher pitched growl. He did it again, then used a finger to tease it. He groaned, trying to push him in farther but Xander wasn't cooperating. "Please," he panted finally. Xander slammed in again, making him yell and come. Xander took a few more strokes to get off, then pulled out gently, using the rest of the bottle to clean him up with a towel he had back there. "I will get you back for that."
"With what, Horatio? I've touched many but no one touches me that way." He stroked his chin. Then he kissed him. "Next time don't try to compulse me and take the nibble if you need it. I'm not against all feeding as long as it's not going to kill me. I've had a crappy night of hunting anyway."
Horatio straightened himself up, giving him a look. "I'll still get you back."
"Then you and my virgin hole can hold a seance when I'm gone." He leaned on his corner of the couch. "Nice ride."
"Thank you. I keep it in storage most of the time." He faced him, staring him down. "You've never taken a man?"
"Do you plan to?"
"Only if I marry one," he quipped.
"I see." He kissed him. "You do the other things so well."
"Had to. Not like I was gonna have Buffy and them." Horatio laughed, stroking through his hair again. "That's a better look for you. Not so much stick-up-the-butt, had meetings all day that included too much paperwork, Stetler came back deliriously happy and decided to share details looking."
"Thankfully the last didn't happen. I had been planning on picking someone up to have a nibble."
"I told you to take it."
"I know, but the inner thigh is so very delicate and easy to damage so you can't stop the blood flow." He tipped his head to the side. "Are you sure, Xander?"
"I'm sure. No more than a pint and then feed me ho-hos." Horatio smiled, taking what he needed and wanted. One hand came over to stroke Xander through his sinfully tight pants, making him moan. He pulled back, licking the wounds until they were clean. "Better?"
"Much. But perhaps I could do more to make you beg this time?"
Xander grinned. "I don't beg. Sorry. Haven't begged for anything since I was five and I was told it was wrong. Not even Anya could make me beg."
"Can I hurt them?"
"Why bother? They're miserable enough already. They don't matter to anyone but themselves." He stroked his chin. "Be a good boy tonight." He got out, adjusting his clothes and headed to his apartment. He closed and locked the door. "That was good," he moaned, leaning against the door. "Pretty sounds and prettier mental pictures. Better than I imagined." He went to shower and play in the hot water. He needed some more relaxation.
Horatio went back to the car looking very smug. Xander had liked it. They'd have to play again sometime. Maybe he would have that singular honor. He sat down with a hiss; it had been a while since he had been topped. He opened another bottle to pour another glass of champagne and went back to drinking it, shifting uncomfortably on the bench seat. Yes, he definitely deserved a hot bath with bubbles for that. Now he knew he was very resistant to being compulsed. He'd have to find his trigger to let him in.
The next night, Xander found a good clue, calling as he headed after it. This time he would get the bastard, living victim or not. Horatio could take care of the victim, he was hunting this asshole down. He found him in the same park as he had found Speed, pulling his mini-crossbow out of his back waistband. "Put the girl down slowly," he ordered. "Now, Raymond."
"I don't take orders from you."
"Yet," he noted dryly. "Then we'll see." He raised it when the vampire dropped the woman and took a step closer. "I'm an experienced hunter, boy. You're not."
"I'm a cop."
"Were a cop. Horatio and your information file told me all I needed to know." The vampire fanged up and lunged but Xander got him in the knee. He screamed, bringing officers. "He was attacking her. Check the victim." One of them continued to stare at him. "Call Lieutenant Caine, I'm working with him, he's on his way."
"Horatio would never let me be taken in."
"Bet me," Eric said as he joined them. "Speaking of, Horatio just got cornered by the Chief."
Xander nodded. "We're taking him in alive. Horatio wanted to talk to his little brother." He shot him in the other knee, then lunged, knocking him down. He flipped him over, struggling with him. "Cuffs?" he suggested. Eric came over to cuff him for him. "Thank you. He looked at the victim. "She's probably going to need blood. Now, like right now, right now!" The officer standing over her called it in and he looked at the other one. "So, night shift works for you, huh?" He growled. "I'm not here for you. Only for this one. The Feebies sent me to handle this one. I'm a Watcher. I'm still not here for you," he said at the continued growling. He hauled Ray up, handing him to Eric. "Get her help, guys, please?"
"She'll die by the time they get here," one of them said.
"That's your thing and I'd rather she could consent. That's the way I am." He walked off with Eric, helping drag Ray to the hummer. "Thanks for the timely help."
"Not an issue. How many victims?"
"I lost count at eighteen."
Ray growled. "Let me go!"
"We're going somewhere so your brother can talk to you," Xander said patiently. Eric got the back door open and let him shove him inside. "Stay there." He closed it, walking around to the passenger's side. "Where did he set up?"
"Calleigh's got it. Where is Stetler?"
"I set him up with Buffy. He's in Cleveland being jumped and groped by the blond thing." Eric gaped and he grinned. "She likes dangerous, snarky, mean guys. She was dating vampires. She's a slayer and dating vampires. We all agreed finding her a human version would be better for her since she's getting old."
"She's how old?" Eric asked as he started the engine.
"Twenty-four. Same as I am."
"That's not that old."
"In this field, it is. The average life expectancy of any slayer is eighteen months. She was called at fifteen. We've been working with her since we were sixteen." Eric shuddered. "Exactly. She's ancient in the field." He glanced back at the struggling vampire. "Keep it up, make me shoot you in the head." He stopped struggling. So he looked at Eric again. "If he breaks free, shoot him in the head. He'll come back. I promise you he will. It'll take a few good hours, maybe even a day but he'll come back."
"I can do that." He glanced back then nodded. "Smack him, he's thinking."
"He's trying to pick the locks." Xander focused the crossbow on him again. "They're not wood, they're titanium. I promised Horatio you'd live long enough for your talk. So even a heart shot won't kill you."
"I've heard about you. The tagalong."
"Not hardly. Otherwise they wouldn't send me out to find and train the new girls. Since they keep doing that I doubt I'm the tagalong. I simply can't stand to be in Cleveland with twenty-four girls trapped in a hotel being forced to learn things like self-defense." Eric shuddered. "Speed up, I heard a click," he said quietly. "You'll have a lot of paperwork to do if I shoot him."
He turned on the lights and sirens, speeding up to get back to the lab's building. About three blocks from there Ray lunged forward, grabbing Xander to bite him. Xander got off a heart shot, but he was bleeding when Ray fell. "Shit!" He called Horatio on his cellphone. "Need you to meet us at Alexx's entrance to the lab. He got free and bit Xander. Xander got him in the heart but he's still here. Now!" He hung up, speeding that way, cutting the lights and sirens. Horatio came jogging out, pulling Xander out to try to stop the bleeding. "He did it about three blocks ago, H." Alexx came rushing out. "Get him, tie his butt down. He attacked him. He's the serial killer H has been tracking."
"Are you sure?"
"Do it," Horatio ordered. "This is Xander." He laid him on the ground, making him moan. "Xander?" He blinked at him. "I can't stop it."
"Let me try," Alexx ordered. Eric shot Ray when he tried to move. She looked at the wound he was trying to hold closed. "He ripped it. I need time to stitch it."
"Do we have time to stitch it?" Eric demanded. Officers came running. "He's a damn serial killer, he moves you shoot him again." They nodded, grabbing Ray to put him back into the cuffs. One was still hanging off. "He bit our consultant."
Horatio helped Alexx move the boy into a more private area. He made Xander look at him. "Xander, do you have a choice?" he asked.
"Then Buffy would want to sleep with me."
"I'll protect you. This way you can lighten up mine and Sire's life for eternity." Xander nodded. "Are you sure?"
"Better your kind than Spike's or Angel's," he panted. "Or else Anya's going to torture me for dying. I heard someone's bringing her back so she quits nagging in the afterlife."
Horatio smiled, sipping at the blood that was coming out, opening his forearm to let him drink from it. Xander gagged at the taste. "I know it's thick, drink it anyway." He did that, and Horatio realized he had been able to compulse him, finally! Now he knew. "We'll work on the other things later," he promised, letting Alexx lay him out on one of her tables. He looked at Ray, who was still struggling, then around before shooting him in the head. He fell down. "That'll hold you for a few hours." The officers gave him an odd look. He kicked Ray on the side, making him fang up in his pain. They backed away. "He's killed at least eighteen that we know of. Go away. Ignore us," he ordered, making it a compulsion. Eric walked off too, looking much happier now that he didn't have to know. He and Alexx got Ray onto a table, staring at him. Xander choked and flipped onto his side to vomit so Horatio went to take care of him. "You have to keep some of that down, Xander."
"You'll get used to it." He stroked through his hair, helping him over the change. Xander panted, laying back onto his back, staring up at him. "Good morning, childe."
"If you call me that again I'll never blow you."
"I won't do that then," he said with a small smirk. "Rest. You need your rest."
Xander put a hand in his. "Native soil would be...." He pointed at the walls. "Concrete?"
"We'll figure that out later on. For now, you rest." The Chief came barging in. "Not now."
"You don't run this department, Caine." Horatio glared at him. Ray took the opportunity to groan and try to grab his head. "But... you shot him. In the forehead you shot him."
"I know I did." He nodded at Alexx, who yanked out the bullet. "Thank you." He looked at his boss. "This is the one who's been killing the ones the task force ruled out," he said quietly.
"That's your brother."
"I noticed. He and I are going to have a long talk in a few minutes. Once I get Xander able to travel as well."
"I'll bring him over later," Alexx promised. "I can help him through this." Horatio looked at her. "I can. I may not be you but he'll need fussed over."
"I'll flee," Xander told her. "Have I mentioned I'm easily possessable when my mental shields are down?" He made himself sit up, holding his head. "Damn that hurts more than I thought. C'mon, dad. Let's go."
"You need to rest."
Xander looked at him. "Unless you want to spend tomorrow doing exorcisms multiple times, let's go. We can talk about and to Ray when we get somewhere else." He slid off the table and nearly collapsed. "Come on before I die again." Alexx helped him out to Horatio's hummer - Eric or someone had driven it around - and they got Ray out there together, back in chains. Xander took the opportunity to die in the front seat so it was all good with him.
Horatio shook his head, looking at his boss. "You wanted to know what?"
"Where is Stetler?"
"Cleveland. Xander set him up with one of his coworkers. She took him to see if they were suitable." He patted Xander down, finding his cellphone, using it to call up there. "Miss Rosenburg, Horatio Caine. My boss would like Rick Stetler back for a while if we may. Yes, him. I don't care what disgusting names she calls him, Miss Rosenburg. He wanted to make sure he wasn't kidnaped and went willingly. Thank you. Here is fine. Thank you. I'll do that." He hung up, putting the phone back, then took the heart monitor pad off Xander's chest. He handed it to Alexx. "Put that on someone. They're expecting a heartbeat to monitor to make sure he's still alive."
"But he's not," the Chief said. Ray sat up, holding his head, and tried to get out of the hummer. Horatio shot him again, watching as Stetler appeared on the other side of the hummer and saw it all. "Rick."
Rick blinked at Ray then at Horatio. "Isn't he your brother?"
"Uh-huh. Then why shoot him?"
"He's the serial killer that brought Xander down."
Rick just nodded at that. "Even better. I learned alllll about them," he said, then he passed out. Alexx huffed but came over to treat the naked man. He woke up a few minutes later, looking at her. "Save me before I get called pookie again?" he begged, clutching her arms. "Please? She's a bit strange."
She stroked over his hair. "We'll talk about it after you've had some sleep and some food, Sergeant." She saw Horatio smirking as he got into his hummer and drove off. "Help me get him inside before he freezes dangly things off." The Chief did that and then went to drink himself into a coma. She saw the evidence the next morning when someone found him nearly dead at his home.
Horatio walked around Ray, looking at him. "Why?" he asked calmly. His brother had recovered enough to be lucid and know not to fight against him. "Why did you kill? Why attack Speed? That officer, his horse?"
"The horse was to bring the officer down," Xander called from the cot in the corner.
"You, hush." He looked at his brother again. "Why?"
"I'm not saying anything until my lawyer gets here," he sneered.
"No lawyers, Ray. No judges, no jail cell. Nothing."
"The families will mind."
"No they won't. You died fleeing custody," he said simply. The door to the warehouse opened and Stetler stomped in. "You needed something?"
"I want a full explanation." Xander glared at him so he glared back. "You're in deep for aiding in a kidnaping."
"Not like I can magic you to Cleveland. She's not your type?"
"I prefer mine to be a bit more mature."
"So, Faith did it for you?" he taunted.
"Xander, enough," Horatio ordered. His childe huffed but laid back down to go back to his nap. "What part didn't you get last night, Rick?"
"He's a vampire?" Horatio nodded. "You're a vampire?"
"A different sort," he admitted quietly. "His kind are as common as mosquitos and nearly as troublesome. Mine are very rare. There's three of us."
Stetler grimaced. "If you say so. What are we doing?"
"I'm getting answers. Xander assured me I could have them before he staked him for me. That way I wouldn't have to be in so much pain from *this* death of his."
"Where does the annoying brat fit in?"
"He got sent from the Watcher's Council, where you were, to stop him. We've been working together. A federal agent intervened to get him here." Xander looked over at him. "I said rest."
"I can't rest; he's noisy and the chains are worse."
Horatio walked over to help him with that. "I know the sounds can be magnified. You can lessen it with some conditioning," he soothed, letting him fall back to sleep. He walked back over, finding Ray and Rick staring at each other. "You know, Ray, he had a lot of fun taking care of Yelina for a few months." Ray growled and lunged, vamping out to try to eat his rival. He looked at Rick. "Another difference, I don't have to kill to eat. He doesn't but he likes it. Don't blame that on me either."
"You're like Dracula."
"He is my sire," Horatio agreed quietly. Ray snarled something impolite and Horatio glared, making him back away. "Thank you. Do not use such language in front of me." He looked at his rival again. "Is this going into the official reports?"
"Nothing that happened last night is going into the official reports. The Chief is detoxing from alcohol poisoning. Delko's having a sunny, humming day. Duquesne is growling but a bit of chocolate cured her issues. Are you staying?" Horatio nodded. "Why?"
"The victims need me. That's why I took this job, Rick."
"How many times have you compelled me?"
"Once. You caught me having fun with a toy I play with now and then."
"No, Rick. He's refused many times to come with me."
"Whatever. How do I get the blonde girl away from me?"
"Tell her no," Horatio said blandly. "Like you would any woman."
"I can't withstand the pout."
"Then walk away, Rick."
"She treated me like some sex slave."
Xander blinked at him then shrugged. "Get Giles and Willow on your side."
"Who?" he demanded.
"Cat lady and the old librarian guy in tweed," Xander said.
"They thought I was a good idea."
"Well, look at it this way, you're doing good for the world keeping her happy, content, and able to hunt so she can save the world now and then. It's a patriotic duty with how many times we've saved the world, Rick," Xander said dryly.
"I read the book, I know how to kill you."
"I never sleep."
Horatio growled at Rick, making him back away quickly. "Leave my childe alone. Xander, I said rest." Xander started to snore and he calmed himself. It was nice he could compel him easier now. Rick gave him a horrified look. "He needs rest to calm down." He looked at Ray. "Do you see what you brought onto the family?"
"You sound like the mafia," Ray taunted.
"Oh, by the way, Yelina's waiting outside," Rick said, then he walked off. "We'll be talking, Horatio."
"If you desire." He looked at Ray. "You'll talk or I'll let her have you."
"You're not into torture," he said, looking hesitant. Horatio simply walked over to open the door. "I hate being compared to you! All right! That's all it was. So someone finally noticed me instead of you! I'm older, I should get more attention. You should be in my shadow."
"I'm fairly certain I'm older than you are, Ray. Even in this incarnation. Your mind was bent by the drugs."
Ray hung limply in the chains holding him up. "It's still not right."
"That's life." He opened the door, smiling at Yelina. "Yelina."
"Horatio." She walked inside, giving herself a minute to let her eyes adjust. She saw the man in the chains. Then she looked at him. "How?"
"He's one of them."
"Not like you?" she asked. He shook his head. "Interesting. The boy?"
"Was a Watcher. Who put on his heart monitor?"
"Calleigh." She smiled. "She said if she got bouncy it'd be just like him on a normal day. Are you going to introduce me?"
"When he wakes. Right now I'm enforcing a nap." She laughed, giving him a hug around the neck. "You can talk to him. I have many unanswered questions of my own." She nodded, walking over there, hauling off and hitting him before starting to scream at him in Portugese. Horatio smiled, going to check on his errant childe, finding him curled up around the pillow. He settled in behind him, stroking over his side. Xander hummed inquisitively. "It's just me. Sleep, Xander. I'm here to rest with you."
"Pri'ner?" he mumbled.
"Yelina has him. You need your rest." Xander nodded, shifting so he could lay on top of him. He stroked over his back, letting him rest on him. "We'll be fine. We'll do some mild traveling some year soon. We'll have to tell Sire sometime but he'll only swear for a few decades."
"Buffy have him," Xander mumbled.
"No, that's mean. No more mean thoughts or the topic we discussed in the limo will happen here and now."
Xander lifted his head to look at him, shaking his head. "I don't see a wedding ring. You're not taking my virgin ass until I do." He put his head back down. "But the cuddles are nice. Thank you."
"Rest," he said, spanking him. Xander bit him, making him hiss. "I mean it." He did it again and this time Xander bit deeper with his fangs too. "Xander," he growled.
"I'm not a child, Horatio. I know when I'm tired." He got up, walking over to the amused looking woman. "You must be Yelina. Xander Harris." He shook her hand. "Is he talking yet? If not, I've got a car battery around here somewhere and jumper cables." Ray gave him a hurt look. "Or I can ask Willow if we can have Angel for a few hours. Twenty minutes with him in full-on brood is enough to make most people beg for mercy."
"I'd rather torture him myself. I used to be married to him."
"I'm sorry. Hold on, you took up with Stetler after him? Sweetie, do you need help? Is Horatio making you have bad thoughts or something?" She snickered, swatting him gently. "Seriously, I can spank him if he is."
"I thought it would be less complicated than dating Horatio."
"I didn't think women believed in that." She pinched him and he did it back, giving her a look. "Is Stetler still complaining that Buffy called him pookie?"
She gaped then burst out giggling. "He told me I couldn't even call him dear."
"Buffy's a strong, strange girl," Xander said wisely.
"Who'll be down in two days to claim her man again," Horatio said as he walked over, pulling Xander back to the cot. "I said rest, Xander. Changing over is hard on a body and yours was not as nice as mine was." He tucked him back in, staring down at him. "You need to sleep before I try to claim Sire's privileges."
"Can't and won't or else I'll kill you," Xander said bluntly, then he yawned. "I'm still not tired. I've had a nap."
"No, you kept waking up." He laid down on top of the covers, stroking over Xander's stomach while he yawned and slowly drifted off again.
Yelina smiled. "You'll have a handful with that one."
"I'm sure I will," he agreed. "He's still a credit to the family." He heard the grunt and went back to petting his new boy. They would get the dominance issue straightened out soon. Though, wooing did sound...nice in some ways. He watched Yelina beat and scream at Ray, getting answers he hadn't. Nothing interrogated as well as a pissed off wife. He heard movement outside where they were hiding, getting up to answer the door when it was knocked on. The small, blonde woman on the other side made him shudder mentally. "Buffy."
"Is Xander here?"
"The vampire managed to bite him so he's resting," he admitted. He pointed. "He lost a few pints of blood."
"That's happened before." She walked over to check on Xander, smoothing down his hair. "Poor thing, having to be mothered by a bloodsucker." Xander blinked up at her. "Willow sent you cookies."
"Cookies are nice," he admitted, smiling at her. "Hi."
"Hi. How are you feeling?"
"So did I the last time I nearly got drained. Finish your kiddie nap, I'll be around stalking my man." She walked over to look at the bound vampire, then at the older vampire and the woman. "Torture?"
"He's my ex-husband and his proclaimed brother. We wanted answers before he goes away," Yelina told her.
"Ask Xander to get a car battery. He's good at that once Faith showed him." She looked at Ray, then smiled and pulled out a small stake, placing it into his off-side chest cavity, pushing it in slowly. He screamed and flailed. "I used to play staking games with my vampy boyfriends. I can teach your former wife," she said happily. She even beamed at him. "I've got some small ash ones around here somewhere." She patted her purse down, finding the bundled mass of stakes. "Wanna play with me?"
"Buffy, no sexually terrorizing the vampire," Xander called, flipping onto his other side. "He's not your toy. Your toy is somewhere outside. He used to date Yelina too."
Buffy looked at her. "You dated my pookie?"
"After my husband supposedly died," she agreed, taking the bundle of stakes. "Thank you, I'll put them to good use."
"You're welcome. Anya used to brag how good it felt helping others have good sex. I'm a happy girl, I can have my pookie back. His boss said so as long as I made an honest man out of him."
Horatio coughed. "Doing so in Miami would take a few weeks to pull together the marriage license, Buffy; there's a waiting period." He would willingly pull every single string he could and compel Rick to the altar if he had to so she would leave his Xander alone at the moment.
"That's okay, I had Willow research how best to do that. She's made reservations and everything," she said cheerfully, going to hunt down her man and take him with her.
"They'll calm each other down," Xander called. "She'll get to be more of a girl than a slayer and he'll get a whole department of cops who don't listen to the rules and do things their own way up there. Either that or he'll straighten out Giles' system."
"Dear, you need to finish your nap," Yelina said. "You're going odd. Rick likes them the same age he is."
Horatio coughed, smiling a bit at her. "He came back so happy he passed out on Alexx," he told her. "His only complaint was that she called him pet names."
"Would she want children?"
"There's twenty-four or so younger slayers in training in the hotel," he said bluntly. "Plus I'm told the other senior slayer has a set of toddler twins who like to rip up things." Yelina smiled at that. "Their Mr. Giles keeps calling them demons."
"They're toddlers, it's the same thing," she said dryly. She turned and hit Ray. "That's for taking our future children." She used another stake, this time on his upper shoulder. "That's for hurting our son."
"I'll let you play. I've got my own son to put down," Horatio said, going to do that. He curled up behind him again, letting Xander flop over to lay on his shoulder. "You need rest to regain your strength. Before Buffy realizes next time." He nodded, closing his eyes. He heard an unmanly squeal outside and smiled. It sounded like Rick was off on his honeymoon for a while.
Horatio frowned as he walked into the warehouse that night. Yelina had arranged for Ray's imprisonment since they had decided it was better than staking him, at least for a while. They had finished sealing him in and he had come back to spend some time with his new childe. If only he could find him. He walked over to the cot, finding it neatly made, all cleaned up. The whole warehouse was clean. If he was investigating this location he wouldn't see anything but a clean warehouse - often a tip that something had happened. He sniffed the bed. No ashes. He stomped out of the warehouse, going to find his errant offspring. He found him at his efficiency taking a nap. Xander snapped awake when he finally made it inside. "What are you doing here?"
"My room." He gave him a confused look. "I'm supposed to be here or Giles won't pay for it anymore."
"I had planned for you to be closer to me, Xander. We have much to teach you." He sat down on the foot of the bed, staring at him. "You have a lot of new things and ideas to learn."
Xander nodded. "But if I move Giles might not pay for it."
"I have a spare room. That way you can save your miniscule paycheck." Xander shook his head. "No?" he asked, staring him down.
"That's your house. There's no reason for me to work and live with you."
"There is every reason. It's called protection." He leaned forward, watching Xander flinch back. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"Sorry, all I've seen of the sire/childe bond is Angel and Spike."
"I am nothing like them."
"I know." He looked down.
Horatio frowned. "I'm going to kill them all."
"They're going to die sometime anyway," he said grimly. "I'll have to watch that."
"That is a thought we all have. That's one of the reasons I want you closer. So we can handle those thoughts, Xander." He nodded, sighing a bit. "Come on, we'll teach you how to feed after you take a few glasses." Xander frowned at him. "It's not instinctive, not unless you want to kill?" Xander shook his head quickly. "Then pack and you'll move to my place while we're training you. I can make a suitable excuse to your Mr. Giles." Xander shook his head slowly. "Yes I can."
"No, he won't talk to you."
"Did he find out about the heart monitor switch?"
"No. Not yet."
"Then pack and let's go." Xander got up with a groan, packing his few things. Horatio helped him carry them down to the hummer. He did a last check of the room, handing Xander his toothbrush and shampoo, getting a weak smile. "We'll fix that. Go hand in your keys." Xander went to do that, getting his small deposit back. He drove Xander to his house, settling him in the guest room within minutes. Then he brought Xander into the kitchen. "First, blood. We can buy blood."
"Angel fed from the slaughter house."
"That's...disgusting," Horatio decided. "The Red Cross has a lot they can't use that's not tainted with disease." He opened a new baggy into a cup, putting it into the microwave. "It tastes better fresh but you're not ready to hunt yet. Not when you're starved." The microwave beeped, letting him take out the mug. "Drink, Xander."
"No marshmallows?" Horatio gave him an odd look. "No wheatabix? No cereal?"
"I'm going to stake Spike," he growled. "No, normal vampires, especially us, do not need those things. He probably did it to gross you out. You can't warm it up a second time." Xander stared at it until he coughed meaningfully.
Xander gulped, grimacing. "Eww, metallic sludge."
Horatio looked at him, taking out his phone to call someone. "Calleigh, Horatio. Can you come over tonight? Thank you." He hung up, pulling out another thing from the fridge. He turned to the other counter to pour it into a glass, adding something from a small container in the fridge. He turned back around, handing it to his childe. "Try that."
Xander sniffed then grimaced. "Blood wine? Goth food?"
"Yes, goth food. Try it. You'll need to relax later anyway." Xander shrugged, sipping. He looked at it then at him. "I mixed it fresh. It's chilled mulled wine and fresh blood." Xander took another drink, getting mellow while he fed. He finally let it drain into his mouth and Horatio gave him a gentle kiss on the lips. "Thank you. Now, come on." He led him out onto the porch, pulling the blinds. He took off his jacket. "Now and then we must all merge with the earth; even when it's not our native soil it helps keep us strong when we're injured. Which you are." He finished stripping down, enjoying the admiring looks he got. "You too."
"Me too what?"
"Strip, Xander," he ordered. Xander groaned but blushed and looked down as he took off his clothes. Horatio stared, smiling at him. "You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are very enjoyable to look at." He took his hand, opening a trap door in the floor. "Now, down." He walked him down the few steps into the hole. Xander was pulled against his chest, back to front, making him try to wiggle. "Relax, this is not sexual. Listen to the sound of my voice," he said in his ear. Xander shivered. "Just listen, let your body react however it pleases, Xander. We're going to do what the shaman taught you, only we're going to do it physically. Your body yearns to be one with the earth, to be a seed that she nourishes." Xander whimpered, starting to melt in his arms. "That's right. We want you to concentrate on becoming one with the earth, gently melding yourself with her power."
He let himself go as well, going back to his true form, watching as Xander did the same.
They sank down together, Horatio still holding Xander, letting the earth envelop them. Xander started to panic but he soothed him by humming in his ear. "This is part of our gift, Xander. Let it soothe and heal you. Your change was strange and took a long time. Your body is exhausted and this will heal it." Xander relaxed against him, letting it happen, letting Horatio hold him, hum to him, love him this way. Even though it wasn't sexual it was comforting. They heard someone knock then come in and he came out, pulling Xander up and out. "Now, reform into who you are," he said gently. Xander shook his head, becoming himself again. "Good boy. How do you feel?"
"Better." He sniffed. "Someone's bleeding."
"We'll go see Calleigh in a few minutes." He kissed him again, staring at him. "Are you all right?"
"I'm okay. Kinda odd feeling. I feel stiff, or maybe tree like."
"That's not that unusual." He smiled, stroking his cheek. "When you cannot get into native soil it's the next best thing. We'll work on finding you some native soil as well." He let him go giving him a gentle swat. "Back up to the porch, Xander." He followed him up, watching him walk. The boy was very well built. He found Calleigh up there staring at Xander in shock. "He thinks no one would want to stare at him."
"I do," she said, grinning at him. "Those boy strippers have nothing on you, dear. Scars and all." She stroked one with a fingertip. "Get dressed. You can't feed off me when you're naked." She walked back inside.
Xander sniffed and moaned. "She smells so good."
"It's her womanly cycle," Horatio said in his ear. "Get dressed, Xander. We don't want a peeper to see you naked." Xander nodded, sliding on his pants and t-shirt but tossing the rest into his room. "Naughty you, commando?" he teased, walking him into the living room.
"I am." He smiled. "I fed earlier." He sat Xander down, smiling and holding a hand out to her. She came to him, kissing him on the cheek. "It's time we taught Xander to nibble." He sat down on the other end of the couch. "She knows what to do, Xander. Trust her. Let her show you." He nodded, letting her show him what to do. She slid into his lap, moving her hair out of his way. He sniffed, licking over her throat, making her shiver. He shifted her some for a better angle, biting in gently. She moaned, clutching the arm around her waist. "Enough," Horatio ordered, making it an order. "She must be alive, Xander. That is the goal." He pulled back. "Now, lick the wounds closed." He watched him do that. "Good boy. Calleigh?"
"No more light headed than usual, Horatio. He didn't take that much." She smiled at him, letting Xander cuddle her. "He's very good at this too." She turned, kissing him. "Feel better?"
"Your scent is driving me insane," he growled in her ear, turning her in his lap, kissing her again. She squeaked but didn't make him stop. He laid her down, moving down to taste that other blood as well, making her moan as he cleaned it up for her. Xander pulled back. "Did my tongue just expand?" Horatio nodded. "Okay. Strange but useful." He went back to it, making her squeal and squeak and shift under him until she finally let go and came. He gave her one last swipe and helped her back into her clothes.
She looked at Horatio. "You don't do that to me."
"No, I do that to Eric," he admitted. "He enjoys it." He held out a hand with a smile. "Xander?" He came over to sit in his lap. "Between us a bite or a taste of your new dinner is the same as a kiss." He kissed him then bit him, making him moan. "That's my boy." He pulled back, licking the wounds on his throat. "Much better?" Xander nodded, leaning against his side, pulling Calleigh back into his lap to cuddle her too. "Of course we can. She does deserve it." He cuddled her. "Better?" he asked her.
"No more cramps. I'm happy."
Xander chuckled against her neck, making her shiver. "Maybe later?"
"Next week, Xander. We'll get someone else to feed you tonight."
"Yes, Horatio. Thank you."
"We'll work on changing forms next time."
Horatio pulled Xander out of bed early the next Sunday. "It's time you learned how to change forms." That got a grin. "We'll start with the easier ones today and move up."
"Is actually the hardest because you've got to learn how to coast and use the wind, or use wind spells to create a way for you to travel," he admitted. "Being a rat or a wolf is much easier."
"Okay." He smiled and changed out of his boxers into something more practical, jeans and a loose t-shirt, plus his sneakers. "Here?"
"We'll start here then go out to try it when you're distracted." He led him out into the living room. "You have to concentrate, almost feel yourself going into the other forms."
Xander closed his eyes, scrunching up his face while he concentrated. "I won't turn into a hyena, right?"
"Not possible as far as I know," he agreed, smiling a bit since Xander couldn't see him. "It shouldn't affect your wolf form either, Xander." He watched. "Now, feel yourself becoming smaller, lighter, becoming a rat," he said, moving closer, dropping his voice. Xander shivered but shook his head. "You're trying too hard." He stroked up his back. "Imagine the feel of fur. Of a tail." That got another shiver but this time he changed down into a wolf. "Not what you were trying for." Xander changed from that into a rat, giving him a triumphant look. "Now, change back into a man and go directly into it." Xander turned back into a young man, giving him a bouncing hug and a kiss. "Good. Now, do it again, this time directly," he ordered again. Xander concentrated, slipping free of his arms to turn into a rat. A white rat. He gave him an amused look, finding a mirror for him. "Always flashy," he taunted. "Now come back and then go into your wolf form." Xander did that, then back to human. "There is a small danger with staying too long like that."
"I'll start to lose the 'human' part?"
"Can we go play hunting games?"
Horatio looked ta him. "Like fetch?" he asked dryly. Xander beamed and nodded. Horatio gave him a gentle smirk. "Need to go play?"
"Desperately. Ryan does too from what I've noticed. We can track him and use him to play fetch. Please?" He gave him another bouncy hug. "I haven't been out of the house in *days*, Horatio."
"Fine," he agreed. "We'll go play in the park. Should I get you a collar?"
"Will I get impounded today?"
"They'll only give me a warning," he said dryly, grabbing his badge on the way out after him. "We'll work on fog next week," he decided. Xander beamed and nodded. Horatio kept his smile to himself, slipping into his sunglasses. Xander was probably the most bouncy vampire ever created. There were days he vibrated like a tweaker in the middle of their meth high. He let him into the hummer, walking around to get in. Xander buckled up, making him smile for real. "Good. Let's not get stopped."
"Okay." They backed out and Xander changed into his wolf form, letting Horatio roll down the window for him. It was cute, he did stick his nose out the small hole he had left him. His tail was wagging against the seat. Horatio grinned, shaking his head slightly. The wolf looked at him. "You're a cute puppy, Xander." That got a playful growl and he went back to sniffing the area. He called Ryan. "I'm training a friend's pet to hunt scents, Mr. Wolfe. Would you like to come help us? It was pointed out by Xander that you could use some playtime as well." He smiled. "That's fine, we can meet you there. I'll be playing fetch." He hung up, sliding his cellphone back into his shirt pocket. He pulled into the park and got out, letting Xander out his door once he had wiggled out of the seatbelt. "We didn't get a ball." Xander hopped back inside, sniffing in the back until he opened the back gate, finding the bag in there. He smiled, holding up the small stuffed bear. "When did you put this in here?" Xander beamed. "Thought you'd get me to play fetch with you throwing?" he teased.
Xander nodded, hopping out of the back and down, heading into the park to sniff things. This opened up a whole new world of scents and sensation to him. He even found a blood scent, following it back to a woman who was wearing a bandage on her neck. He sat, looking attentively at her, barking quietly when she continued to stare back. "You're adorable," she said finally, letting him sniff her hand. "You're friendly?" His tail went and he barked, gently climbing up to lick her face. "Good boy. Where's your human? No collar?"
"He's got a working harness at home. We're teaching him how to track today," Horatio said. "Get down, Xander. Don't bother strangers. You know that."
She smiled, petting the thick fur. "He's adorable. He sat very attentively, let me stare at him oddly." She let him have Xander back. "Thank you, Xander. That was very nice of you to let me pet you." The dog licked her hand and walked off with his master right beside him. She smiled at the officer riding his bike. "He's a very good dog."
"I didn't know the Lieutenant had a dog," he said dryly, riding over to him. "Collar, sir?"
"Harness at home. We're working on teaching him to hunt scents today. I didn't want him to get caught in a tree."
"Next time, bring the harness too." He rode off, paying attention to where they went. The lieutenant did throw out a stuffed animal for his dog, smiling when it brought it back. "He's fast. Wonder what breed he is." He watched a few more throws then continued on his route. He heard someone yelp so went back, finding the dog had someone pinned. "Lieutenant?"
"Mugger," he said. "Xander likes to fetch them too. Off!" he ordered. Xander got off the mugger, sitting next to him, staring down at him. "Good boy, Xander." He petted him gently. "Go get the bear," he said, throwing it. Xander ran off to get it, tail going, barking happily. "You should probably take him in."
"Sure. What breed is he?"
"Actually, we're not really sure. I know he's part wolf. The mother was part wolf." That got a nod and he cuffed the suspect, taking him off while the scary head of the crime lab, the stickler for protocol on scenes, played with his dog. His boss would laugh so hard his coffee would fall off his desk again. He nodded at Wolfe, pointing. "Caine's that way."
"I'm helping teach his dog how to hunt," he said with a grin.
"He did good fetching the mugger." He pointed at the idiot he was dragging behind his bike. "Have fun playing with the dog. He's a big, furry sucker." He handed the mugger over to the patrol car he had sent for, shaking his head. "Caine's dog fetched him."
They gave him a strange look. "Caine's got a *dog*?" one asked. The bike patrol guy nodded. "No way. He's too uptight for a dog."
"He's part wolf. Furry sucker, kinda big, named Xander. He's using Wolfe to help teach him tracking by the back of the jogging trail." They watched as Ryan went running past with a dog chasing him until he pounced and brought him down, sitting on his back and howling for his master. "See?"
"Yeah, that's definitely part wolf," one of the guys said, nodding. He walked over there. "Want us to cuff him for you, boy?" The wolf looked at him, head tipped, then he walked over and licked his hand, going back to sitting on Ryan's back and howling. Horatio jogged over. "He's friendly."
"Very. Thank you. Let Ryan up, Xander. He won't try to get you to track squirrels again." The wolf got off his back, letting him help him up. "You all right?"
"Fine. He's got a good pounce on him."
"He does," he agreed. "Give me your second t-shirt." He did that. "Now go hide." He jogged off again, letting Horatio squat down beside the dog. "Track this scent and only this scent, Xander." He sniffed and ran off again, Horatio following more slowly, the prized teddy bear in his back pocket. He heard Ryan yelp and smiled. Xander was definitely having a bit of fun. "Have a better day, officers," he called before moving out of sight.
The officer walked back, shaking his head. "The dog's good," he decided, making the other two laugh and nod. "Okay, let's get the bright one there back to the office. Thanks, Brad."
"Welcome. It's cute seeing Caine play fetch with a teddy bear." He rode off, going back to his circuit. He did check on that one woman the dog had been loving on. She looked a bit worn out and the bandage was bleeding a bit. "Ma'am?" She looked at him. "You're starting to bleed. Should I call someone for you?"
"I'm waiting on my dirtbag ex-husband to bring me home," she admitted. "It was a car crash and they don't want me to be alone."
"Let me call him for you, ma'am." She wrote out the number and he called it. "Sir, this is Officer Brad Taylor, MDPD. Yes, sir, about her. No, sir, she's starting to bleed again and I'm not so sure she shouldn't be going back to the ER. Please. We're on the jogging trail, the second bench from the north parking lot. Thank you, sir." He hung up. "He went to the other end."
"Doesn't really surprise me. He got lost in a CVS pharmacy once. Couldn't find the way out." She smiled at him. "I'll be fine."
"I can stay for a few, ma'am."
"Do you know who the dog belonged to?"
"That was the head of our felony crime lab. He lives around here somewhere," he shared with a smile. "We didn't even know he had a dog but the guy's cute." Wolfe went running past again and he smiled. "Tracking exercises." Xander went loping past too, tongue hanging out. "Good job, Xander!" he called after him, getting a happy sounding bark. Horatio followed more slowly. "He's good."
"He's a bit hyper," he admitted. He looked at her. "Ma'am, you're bleeding."
"My ex is picking me up. It's from a car crash."
"That's fine. You might want to have him check the stitches." He walked on, he had heard Ryan moan. He found him on the ground again. "Off, Xander. Good job." He helped Ryan up, giving him a look. He handed over the bear. "Here, play fetch for him being so good for a while, that way you can calm down." Ryan threw the bear, letting Xander run off to get it while Horatio sat on the ground and watched for a while. Eventually even Xander got tired, he came over and flopped down in his lap, head on his chest, panting hard. Ryan flopped down beside him. He petted the dog gently. "Tired?" The dog nodded. "Good boy. Very well learned."
Ryan looked at him. "I do know," he said quietly. "I'm guessing...."
"Xander wanted to learn how to track," he admitted, giving him a look over the edge of his sunglasses. "You did very good too."
"Thanks, H." He flopped down onto his back, letting Xander crawl over and fall down onto his chest, panting in his ear. "Good boy, Xander. Very well learned." He petted him gently, getting a groan. "Ahhh, no one pets you? You should ask Alexx. She probably does it very well." He kept going, letting the wolf nap on him. He looked at his boss. "Any other games today, Horatio?"
"I think we'll go home for lunch and a nap. Then we'll see if he can track and pounce Eric when he goes out tonight." That got an evil smirk. "It's a good skill. One he already has some grasp of. It can only help him." He stroked down his back too, getting a groan and Xander shifting back into his hand. "Hedonist," he teased. "Back to the hummer." Xander got up with a groan, grabbing his bear in his teeth. Ryan was helped up once Horatio got up. "Go shower, Ryan. You ran a few miles." He walked off smiling at his goofy childe carrying the bear openly. He was almost acting like every other dog there. He even stopped to mark a tree, sighing in pleasure as he did so. "Come on. We're going home." He got him into the hummer, taking the bear for him so he didn't lose it. "Couldn't hold it?" Xander shook his head. "That's fine." He started the engine, buckling them both up before backing out and heading for home. It had been a successful morning. Ryan had even looked cute being a fleeing prisoner that was pounced repeatedly.
Xander stared out at Horatio's view, then looked at him when he came in, going back to his view watching. "There's a huge storm coming. Shouldn't we put up boards or something?"
"We can do that later. After you eat." Xander huffed but let himself be drug into the kitchen. Xander made himself gulp down the blood then went back to planning what needed to be done to secure the house. Horatio drug him outside to show him the shutters he had bought, helping him install them. They left the ones for the french doors up for now, settling in to watch the storm as it came in. When the widows started to rattle too hard he pulled that one down and locked it in, settling in with Xander to listen to the storm. He went to get a drink and came back to find Xander in wolf form on the bed. He settled in behind him, petting him gently. "It figures that would be your favorite form," he said quietly, smiling at his happy wolf. He changed down to his own wolf form, sniffing his childe's neck. Xander huffed but he did it anyway. He shifted to lay around the younger wolf, making Xander tense up. He nuzzled his cheek and settled in with his head on Xander's shoulder since he was laid out on his side. Xander shifted uncomfortably so he moved. He did smell good. Maybe whatever Fred had concocted with the wolf pheromones had been opened again?
He felt himself slip out of his penis sheathe and Xander did move then, giving him a dirty look. Ah, it was *that* problem again. He pounced, holding his errant offspring down, sniffing his throat. Xander tried to move so he bit down, holding him still unless he wanted his throat ripped out. It was a clear dominance move. Xander knew that. He had studied hyena pack behavior due to his possession. He had told him he had. Xander went fully limp so he nuzzled him and started to clean his face. At the first sign of resistance he bit his throat again, pressing harder this time. Xander whimpered so he went back to giving him a bath. It only took one more bite for him to go totally limp and let him do whatever he wanted. He bathed his head, then moved down to get his stomach. He paused halfway down, sniffing. He flowed back into human form, sniffing again. "You need to eat more," Horatio ordered.
Xander flowed back. "It tastes bad, like it's off."
"You don't have a problem when it's from a living source?"
"No, but the bags taste bad."
"Are you heating them to body temperature?" Xander nodded. "Come on, we'll see." He hauled his boy off the bed, taking him to the kitchen. He went to wolf form, letting Xander hand him the bags to sniff. He was right, they smelled off. He even knew why. He returned to human form, calling his contact. "The last shipment of blood had a few bad bags and ones that got mixed with the anticoagulants." He listened to him complain about Red Cross rejects. "I noticed one had been sick." His contact's 'they had the flu' didn't please him. "You will fix it. I will not accept such shoddy blood again," he ordered. He hung up, looking at Xander. "Since that's the case, we'll feed you better blood."
"I thought about going trolling for pros to nibble on," he admitted, letting himself be hugged.
"We can do that once the storm has passed."
"Don't you have to work?" Xander looked up at him. "You should."
"This one isn't going to be that bad and no, I'm suspended this week." Xander frowned. "For letting Rick be taken that way. The Chief was not amused when he retired to go clean up Cleveland's department and beat your junior slayers to death. It was in his letter. He also said to keep you down here because you were giving them ideas about disobedience."
"She'll screw it out of his head," he said dryly, walking off. He changed back into wolf form and went back to napping on the bed.
Horatio smirked, shaking his head. "Fine, I'll pet you." He put the bad blood into the trash, going to lavish some attention on his childe. For now. He was still considering the idea of wooing him. Xander was still insistent that he not be taken. He laid down next to the wolf, stroking his side gently. "You do know we are together."
Xander changed back, giving his hand a long look, then him one. "I said when I was married and I meant it." He changed back, going back to his puppy nap, tongue hanging out slightly.
Horatio shook his head. He'd have to deal with him sometime soon. A bit of wooing wasn't a problem, but Xander would have to agree he was in charge. "You still have a lot to learn about being one of us, Xander," he said in his ear. "It is my duty to teach you. Even if you do get fussy now and then." He went back to stroking his side, making him a happy wolf.
Xander looked up from the blowjob he was getting when his ex appeared. "What?" he asked.
"I told you I'd curse you if I found you with a girl," she said hotly. The drag queen's head rose and she pouted. "Well, never mind. You know, you should let him take you. You'll like it."
"It's going to mean more to me than sleeping with everyone else did," Xander said sweetly, smiling at her. "Don't make me banish you, Ahn." She pouted but disappeared. He looked at the pro. "Sorry, my ex. She died a few years back. There's no telling what she'd curse me to if you were a real girl."
"No wonder you changed sides." He took another lick, then smiled up at him. "I know this car. You need a nibble?"
"Oh, I so need a nibble," Xander agreed, pulling him up to nuzzle his throat. He saw the fog come in through the slightly open window. "Hey, Horatio." He went back to preparing the way. The boy was moaning at what he was doing, tipping his head back fully. Horatio unfogged and seemed to lose part of himself so Xander had it blown back their way. He had a good hand with wind spells now. He finally bit on the tanned neck, getting a moan and the boy coming as he drank. He let him go after a pint, letting him down gently onto the floor. He smiled. "See, no problem pulling back this time."
"I saw. I'm proud." He leaned forward to kiss him. "I heard you yell at your ex."
"She decided to try to curse me for being with a woman."
"Ah." He took another kiss, pulling Xander across the divide to sit next to him. It was a dominance move that Xander had come to expect from him. "You smell better."
"No more bad blood."
"Good boy." He stroked over his stomach, sniffing at his throat. "How would you like to go to dinner tonight?"
"I need to change."
"I noticed the pants were meant to have easy front access but impossible for anyone to get to your ass." He patted the firm rear, then kissed him again. "That nice Italian place?"
"I wouldn't mind." He grinned, answering the door when someone knocked. He looked at the pimp. "He's taking a post orgasm nap. Leave him alone." He slammed the door and let Horatio pull him into his lap this time. "I'm still not ready for that."
"I know you're not. I even understand why." He nuzzled his throat, taking a gentle bite, making him moan. "Hmm, he did taste good."
"A bit of pot recently but nothing that'll hurt me."
"No one's going to drug test me this month," Horatio decided. "I can always claim it was when I was walking through a scene. We've had a few." He nudged the prostitute awake. "Feel better?"
"Man! It's never like that with you." Xander gave him a small grin from Horatio's shoulder. "Ooh, you two are pretty. Red, wanna taste too? I know how you like it most months."
Horatio pulled him up, looking at him. "Behave."
The drag queen nodded meekly. "Sorry, sir." He tipped his throat to the other side. "Need more?"
Horatio did what Xander had done, making him moan. It was a good sound to have right before you bit someone. The prostitute went limp in his hands so he let him go back to his nap, smiling at the new stain on his clothes. "That is much more tasty." Xander kissed him, searching out the after-traces of the flavor. "Greedy," he teased.
"After dinner we'll go see Calleigh," he soothed, earning a nod and a nip to his throat. "No more until after dinner, Xander." He spanked him again, making him sit on his own. He knew what this was and Xander had to learn to control these urges before he went on a blood spree. Xander went into wolf form, letting himself be petted. "Greedy," he teased again. The wolf looked up at him but he petted him anyway. "I like to pet you. You're very soft. My coat's more harsh." He continued to pet him until their snack woke up and wobbled out. Xander never haggled with them so he always paid more than Horatio himself did. He pressed a button on the console. "Home then dinner." He let it go, soothing his young vampire mate until he was nearly asleep. They made it home smoothly and Xander bounded inside in wolf form, earning a laugh. He walked into the bedroom, finding him shirtless and down to a pair of skimpy briefs.
Horatio moved up behind him to hold, looking in his closet. "Wear the dark blue, that way we don't clash this time," he ordered in his ear, getting a shiver. "Please?" Xander pulled out the blue suit and he let him go long enough to put it on. "Good boy." He looked him over, pointing at his hair. Xander fixed it by messing it up, earning a tolerant head shake. "Come on, Xander." He walked him back out, taking him back to the limo and out to their favorite place. Xander loved their food and the owners of the restaurant doted on Horatio. He had protected their clan for centuries. They were seated in a discreet back booth, one that none of the others had direct line of sight into. Only someone coming out of the kitchen and looking behind the door would see into their booth. Their appetizers were brought without having to order. They knew what Xander liked. They loved to spoil him. The soft, gooey cheese on soft bread made him moan and made Horatio happy. He fed him a piece, watching him moan and bliss out on it. It was a beautiful sight. He smiled. "We should talk about something."
"What?" Xander asked before picking up a bite and feeding it to him.
"You should store the last viable seed you'll ever put out."
Xander looked at him for a minute then shrugged. "The guys in Cleveland have nineteen vials, Horatio." He fed him another bite then ate one with another moan. "Ooh, this is good. The only better thing would be this and a hot tub of bubbles."
"That would be decadent," Horatio agreed, smiling at him. "I should ask if you wanted to try to use them since these are the last live ones you'll ever have."
"Barring magical accidents from Willow."
"Barring magical accidents from Willow," Horatio agreed. Because he knew she would if she wanted a niece or nephew from Xander. Then she'd pounce one of to the stupid younger slayers on him. Xander grinned at him. "It's up to you, Xander."
"I wouldn't mind but I'm not looking forward to being a daddy."
"Calleigh mentioned that she was thinking about it."
"Ah, so that's why we're going to see the perky blonde one."
"It is," he agreed, smiling at him. "I didn't think you'd mind."
"Won't her boyfriend?"
"Yes," he admitted. "Yes he will. Even though they're broken up again he'll throw a very loud, public fit."
Xander grimaced. "Will he get over it?"
"Within hours," he agreed.
"Can she hit him a lot if he does?"
"I would expect her to," he agreed, grinning slightly. "Or take a shoe to him, something like that. She is rather feisty."
"Good." He grinned. "I wouldn't mind. You've got to protect me from Anya."
"I heard what she said." He stroked over his wrist. "We can do that. It is a sacred ritual to either use it or try to store it magically. Sire has at least ten vials saved."
Horatio laughed. "I doubt it. Not with some of his wives."
"Maybe that's why he's got such a low count."
"Perhaps," he agreed. He smiled as their waiter came back with the special bottle of wine. "Thank you." He took it to sniff then pour. "Lasagna tonight, Xander?"
Xander let out a small, whimpering moan. "Please?"
"Good boy." The waiter smiled and walked off. "We'll bring her some too. A decadent dinner is good for the soul now and then." He pushed the wine glass closer. "Drink."
Xander took a sip then stared at it, then at him. "I thought blood wine had to be made freshly," he said quietly.
"Not always." He sipped his own, smiling at the taste. "That is very powerful blood. Sire showed them how to make it ages ago." Xander smiled, sipping gently. "How have your senses been?"
"A bit spiky now and then."
"We'll work on that later." Xander gave him a shy smile. "Afterwards, we'll go home, watch the moon rise?"
"Work will come when it wants to," he assured him. "You have to live life around the work or else Speed will swat me again. He promised to let Alexx have me if I didn't." Xander snickered, earning a smile from him. "It's good to see you happy."
"I haven't been unhappy."
"You spend a lot of time curled up in your furrier form," he said gently.
"Yeah, but it's nice to sleep in it. It's comfortable. Plus you pet me very well."
"Thank you. I do try." He hadn't realized why the boy was doing that. Inviting him to touch him was a good sign. He took another sip of his wine, smiling when their dinners were brought with more of the cheesy bread. Xander smiled shyly at their waiter, making him blush and walk off to have some private time alone in the bathroom. "Naughty," he teased quietly.
"It's very good of him." He ate a bite and moaned loudly, making Horatio blush. "Sorry, it's just so...perfect." He ate another bite.
"They'll think we're doing immoral things in here," Horatio teased.
"So? Not like they're going to get a free show." He fed him a bite, earning a smile and a small moan. "See, we deserve it."
"We do." His phone rang and he sighed, answering it. "Horatio." He listened then nodded. "Was it, Eric?" He smiled. "We'll handle it later tonight. Thank you. Yes, put him there. We're going to pop in on Calleigh...." He listened to the offer. "No, Eric."
Xander took the phone. "If you stake him, you'll turn into me." He heard the splutter. "Exactly. Actually, look around for the guy who looks like the action star. He should be around you. He likes to follow you around." Eric choked but the guy took the phone from him. "Can you help him with that? It is," he agreed happily. "He works for Horatio at the lab. Yeah, I'm settling in down here. Sure. We can do that." He hung up. "The other hunters wanted to welcome me to the city." He handed the phone back and ate another bite. Then he fed Horatio one. "Eat before I get Alexx onto you again."
Horatio smiled, digging into his dinner, feeding Xander some of it too. He needed to eat more. Calleigh and Alexx had both gotten onto him about Xander's lack of eating recently. "Why won't you feed off Alexx?"
"That's a decent reason," he agreed. "Her husband has never minded."
"I do. It's like making her cheat. I'm not into that." He waved his fork around. "So therefore I won't nibble and make her have naps too."
"I can agree with that. We'll have to line up someone else for you to nibble on."
"If John goes all macho on her can I have him, just the once?"
Horatio considered it. "As long as you don't play too hard, break him, or make him do things that he'll hate himself for."
"I'm not like that."
"True, you're not, but it had to be said." Xander nodded so he fed him another bite. "You're usually a very good boy, Xander. I appreciate that about you."
"You appreciate me?"
"I do appreciate you," he agreed, smiling at him. His phone rang again and he sighed. "Horatio," he answered. "Having dinner, Speed. Yes with him." He smiled at the 'good' then the abrupt hangup. "He was going to nag that I hadn't started to woo you yet."
Xander played with his fork. "I'm serious about that stuff, Horatio. That's part of settling down and finding home for me."
Horatio stroked over his cheek. "I know it is, Xander." He smiled, pulling something out of his pocket. "I want you to try this on." Xander frowned, taking the small, square box. He opened it and found a bangle looking bracelet in there and a pendant. "Native earth from your original home. I asked Sire what would happen if I turned someone who had moved a few times. He said it was good I was thinking about taking a wife finally. He said that the original, native soil would be for the best. That is from directly over the hellmouth itself." Xander blinked, looking ready to cry. "I had someone fetch it for me but not tell the others." He put the bracelet around his wrist. "Sire wears one like this. It leaves you exposed to your native soil without having to sleep in a small box of it." Xander blushed, putting on the pendant. The magic in it sank into his skin, making him look down. "That way it's always in contact." He stroked over his cheek, taking the small bit of plastic off the back of the bracelet before clasping it. He used the screwdriver that was in the box to seal it then tucked it into his pocket. "There, that should last. It's made of titanium. It shouldn't be easily destroyed, no matter what you're fighting."
Xander blinked back the tears. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Some year we'll have to go so you can share with me." He stroked his cheek again, making Xander rest his head against his palm. "Now, you need to eat, Xander. I can't appreciate you if Alexx has you tied up and is feeding you." Xander gave him a shy smile, digging in again, even stealing a bite of his dinner. He was smiling but mentally railing at the boy's friends.
"They're not worth it, Horatio." He took his hand to hold. "Thank you for taking care of me."
"It's one of the many things I want to do with and for you." He stared him down. "Eat or no feeding later." Xander blushed, digging in again. "That's my good boy. If you're very good later I'll even give you a long pet in whatever form you choose."
"Can we play fog tag?" he asked hesitantly. "I know it's a bit windy but...."
He smiled. "If you want." Xander beamed, looking just like a little kid. It would let him wrap himself around the sometimes-jumpy young vampire. Xander would only let himself be held in wolf form. He let himself be petted and touched almost anywhere in wolf form. Fog tag had developed when he had taught Xander to change into fog. He had wrapped himself around him, taunting Horatio to fog up and join him. You would surround a portion of your opponent and then run off while they tried to do the same. It was a good teaching game. Xander always ended up giggling after a game of it. It was good to see him laugh and smile. He was too serious for his very young age. They finished up and Horatio got the check, smiling and tipping their waiter for his very good disappearing act. He had only shown up when absolutely necessary. He did take the box for Calleigh's meal, walking it out to the car after Xander. Why Xander liked the limo he wasn't sure but it was nice to be driven sometimes.
Xander curled up against his side. "Even if they say something, tell them it's mine," he said quietly.
"They'll be able to do a DMV check to find out that's not right."
"If they do, then I'll nibble on them." Horatio gave him a frown. "You can't do things in the hummer, Horatio. It's got cameras."
"I know." He stroked him, smiling when he turned back into a wolf. "Maybe I should prove dominance in our other forms?" he teased. Xander looked up at him, shaking his head, putting it back on his thigh. Horatio obliged by petting him until they got to Calleigh's, then Xander ran out in dog form, barking at her door until she opened it.
"Awww, did Horatio bring his puppy to see me?" she teased, scratching his ears. "Such a naughty puppy to run away from the daddy."
Horatio walked in, shutting the door behind himself. "He lets me pet him in that form," he admitted, handing over the box. "He demanded we bring you dinner."
"Awww, that's so sweet." She sat down, watching Horatio sit down and Xander hop into his lap with a big doggy grin. "Looks like someone wants to play."
"If we had a ball, I'd play fetch," he said dryly. Xander changed back, frowning at him. "I would."
"I'm too smart for fetching anything but Ryan. I'd play like a cat."
"Cats play go get it," Calleigh agreed. She opened the box and inhaled, moaning. "Oh, you brought me *food*."
Xander grinned. "I did the same thing in the restaurant and our waiter had to get personal time." She laughed but dug in, savoring her meal. Xander looked at Horatio again, still straddled on his lap. "I don't play fetch unless we're tracking in the park."
"Are you sure? You do fetch things for me in this form."
"That's because you ask nicely. Not because you throw a ball." Horatio kissed him, making him moan and shift across his legs. "Meany."
"I am not."
"Ooh, dinner and a show," Calleigh teased. Xander winked back at her before kissing him again. "Why do I get the good dinner theater tonight, boys?"
"He got exposed to some blood that was going bad. So he refused to eat."
"Oh, that reason. Buttering me up for some sucking up," she said, eating another bite. "I'm for it if you want."
Horatio smiled. "I didn't think you'd mind, but I did want to ask you if you were serious earlier?" She blushed and ducked her head, eating another bite. "Calleigh?"
"I should've figured you'd hear that all the way up the hallway." She looked at him. "Maybe. Why?"
"Because the last of his live seed is about to run out."
"That would be a child even Eric would tell to calm down," she said happily. She stuffed her mouth again, thinking about it. "I'm not at the right part of my cycle."
Xander came over to sniff at her neck. "You will be in a few days."
"So it'd be possible but not fully likely," she decided. He nodded. "Well...." He kissed her, making her forget the sin-inducing meal in front of her or the show they had been putting on for her pleasure. "Is your sire sore?" she teased.
"Very," Horatio said, shifting some. "Let the poor woman eat, Xander. It's always better fresh. Warmed up makes the cheese taste different." Calleigh closed the box and let Xander pull her up, letting him kiss her and run one hand through her hair. She moaned into it, making Horatio watch, even when he didn't want to. Xander was very gentle when he fed from Calleigh. His free hand was at her lower back, pushing her against his body, letting her feel what he was feeling. She whimpered when he pulled back so she could breathe, diving in again. "Bed, children," Horatio ordered. Xander picked her up and carried her that way, letting her down gently onto the bed, making her laugh. He stripped off, then laid down to play with and tease her until she begged for him to take off her clothes too. He finally got her down to her underwear, nibbling at her through it. Her nipples were already hard, the space over them damp from his lips and tongue. She was creeling and arching up into his mouth, making him one happy boy. His lower half was gently sliding against her panties, giving her a tantalizing hint of friction and then retreating.
She finally undid her bra herself, tossing it off to the side, nearly hitting Horatio. "Just rip them off," she growled.
Xander nibbled on her earlobe. "If that's what you want." He ripped the panties off, giving him full access. He trailed back down to her breasts, playing with them until she whined and tried to get away. Then he moved lower, licking lazily down her stomach, nipping her with his fangs on the upper edge of her navel. Then lower, making her shriek and arch up against his mouth before he could do any more than breathe on her. Xander grinned at Horatio. "Look at him, Calleigh. He's jealous I'm doing this for you."
"Do more," she panted, pushing on his head. He chuckled into her body and made her gasp and moan, so he went a bit deeper, just scraping his fangs on her outer lips for now. A nip to her hood and then he dove in with his tongue, earning another high-pitched shriek. She gasped at Horatio, watching him watch Xander do her. "More," she begged, reaching out for him. He came over to hold her hand, giving her an anchor to connect her to reality. She clawed at him until he let her have what she wanted. She wasn't normally the sort of girl to want two boys but she didn't mind being the surrogate this time since Horatio was so sore. Xander.... No one had done those sort of things to her before. He was going to ruin her for her boyfriends.
Xander looked up, nipping her gently again. She wailed and came, letting him clean her up. "More, precious?"
"Please," she begged. He surged up, taking her hard and fast, making her claw at Horatio's hand. He leaned down to kiss her but she was struggling with his belt until he undid it for her, letting her have a toy to play with. She knew her neighbors would be calling the cops if she kept being loud. They knew she was a good girl who didn't make the squeaky noises he was making her make. She wasn't one to shriek about it either. Horatio plugged her mouth for her, giving her something else to concentrate on. She squeezed her internal muscles, arching up against Xander, scratching his arm. She was close. So close. She felt the warm breath on her neck, tipping her head to give Horatio a better angle. Then she felt the razor-sharp pinpricks, making her gasp around the hard cock. Horatio came and Xander drove her over the edge while he gently sucked, making her wail around her fleshy gag. She felt Xander come and it was good. It was nice. If she conceived tonight, the baby would be a God of Desire. She laid there limply, panting until she could try to speak. "Wow," she said finally. Xander snickered, licking over her neck until she patted him on the head. "You've had enough."
"Cleaning you up, precious."
"Uh-huh. You want another round. Let Horatio jump you."
"I still don't see a ring," he said in her ear, making her shiver. He smiled at Horatio. "Thank you."
He kissed him over her throat. "You were beautiful together." She smiled at that. He laid down on her other side, stroking over her hair until she drifted off. "You didn't hurt her?"
"No, I was very gentle when I sucked." He let him see and sense her. "See?"
"I do see. Very nicely done, Xander." He kissed him again. "Perfect timing as well." He took another kiss and he moaned, snuggling up to her side. Calleigh moaned, flipping onto her side so they could get closer. Horatio snuggled up against her back, stroking her side and Xander's arm over her side gently, trying to inflame him further. Xander growled and pounced her again. Horatio smiled, leaning down to help him. Calleigh should always have that glowing, it was great sex look she had now. She clutched at his arms, but let him do whatever he wanted. Xander could be on top while he was scared and Horatio could show him what he was going to be getting soon. He found the lube, getting up to strip down, earning a dual appreciative look. It nearly made him blush. He climbed back in, getting to work on her back passage, making Xander smirk. "Make her make the noises again," he whispered just loud enough for Xander to hear. Xander used his fingers this time, making her wiggle and dance on them. He added his to her backside and she moaned, whimpering when Xander slid back in.
"I've got to be able to work tomorrow," she reminded them.
Horatio kissed her on the shoulderblade. "I'll let you call off. I won't even tell the boys why," he said into her skin. She moaned as he entered her, shifting his position to get her better. Xander had her clawing up his back and she was making the pretty begging noises again while he worked her body like a maestro. Horatio slid one arm over, teasing Xander's ass with a slick finger. He got an odd look but he sank it in, finding his prostate, making him howl and slam into her body when he rubbed over it. It turned into a much harder ride from there. She was going to be bruised, but she also passed out halfway through it. He finished off once he felt Xander's body throbbing and shifting inside her. The thin cell walls between them couldn't hide the last of his living seed pouring into her body. Horatio kissed his boy again, letting him pull back to pant and relax against her shoulder. Horatio gently extracted himself from both bodies, then shifted to hold his boy. "Rest," he said in his ear. Xander nodded, clutching Calleigh to rest with her. He smiled, watching the adorable ones in his arms sleep off the satiation. If the last of his seed was viable and she had managed to conceive they would be beautiful children. He stroked her cheek, earning a sleepy smile. "Rest, Calleigh. You have tomorrow off."
"Nibble?" she muttered.
"No, I'm fine. You rest." She nodded, burrowing into Xander's arms. There was no way he could separate the two until she woke up. When he heard her heartbeat start to come back to a normal waking rhythm he went to start a hot shower for her, helping her into it, holding her while she finished waking up. "For you, ma'am," he said in her ear. She smiled and turned to kiss him. "You should be resting."
"You're sure you don't need a nibble?"
He smiled. "I might get jealous." She swatted him but let him help her with her hair and scrubbing her back. When she was done he helped her dry off then went to tuck her back into the bed Xander had remade. He presented her with her dinner, getting a smile. "You rest." She nodded, digging in. She was starved now. "Call at a reasonable hour to make your excuse." He winked and walked Xander out, taking him down to the car. "Fog tag? Or are you too tired?"
Xander looked at him. "I think I can work up the energy for some fog tag," he said shyly, smiling at him. They got into the back of the limo and he fogged up once they got near the park they liked to play in. He flowed out the window, letting Horatio chase him. A tendril surrounding him here, one there, and he was trapped so he got to work chasing Horatio around. They ran into Speed and Ryan out for a jog and he giggled, making Speed look around with a frown. He teased him, stroking against his skin as he flowed between them. Horatio was following now so he turned and surrounded him. Then he took off since Horatio was now it. They played around their friends for a few minutes, letting Horatio tease Tim all he wanted while he got Ryan so he wouldn't feel left out, then Xander took off floating for the trees in the park. Horatio followed more leisurely. He found Xander waiting on him in human form so he surrounded him, doing to him what he had done to Speed - a tendril stroking him here, one there ghosting over his arm, another wrapping itself around his leg. Xander moaned and Horatio reformed, taking the kiss he deserved. "I won," Xander panted.
"Did you?" Horatio smiled. "Are you sure?"
"I'm sure." He kissed him again. "They're coming."
"Speed's seen me kiss you before," he reminded him. He dove in again. "In two days, movies?" Xander pulled back to look at him. "Movies?" he asked again.
"Like a date?"
"Yes, Xander, like a date," he agreed, smiling at him. "I want to date you, to woo you."
"You've been doing a good job tonight."
"It should be about more than the sex," he whispered in his ear, sinking his fangs into his neck to taste his current food. He pulled back with a moan. "She does taste good with your scent on her." He nibbled his way back to the lips, making Xander moan, go limp, and give in. This time, he was going to be noble. He wanted Xander to know it was about more than simply having him that way. He wanted him to realize it was about having him as a partner, a lover. A real one, not just a concubine to visit now and then. He looked over when he heard Ryan's moan, smirking at Speed. "Never seen two men kiss, Mr. Wolfe?" He went back to it, keeping it at the rubbing gently against each other stage. Xander finally came and went limp, nearly passing out. "Shh, I have you. We'll go home and rest, Xander." Xander nodded, resting against his chest. "So, date?"
"Dates are nice. The new action movie?"
"I could enjoy that." He felt a hand come down to tease him. "We can do that in the car." Xander gave him an impish grin. "Be good. They don't need to see more than they already have." Xander fell to his knees, nuzzling his cock through his pants, then he opened them and sucked on him until he had to clutch the tree before he crushed him. Xander kept going, making him get off in front of his employees, earning a look. "I should spank."
Xander kissed him then put him back up. "Not like they were watching, Horatio." He smiled at the two boys. "Pretty night, huh?" He walked off, taking Horatio with him by leading him by the hand.
Ryan whimpered, looking at Speed. "Is it always like that?"
"When Horatio's focused on something? Yeah. That's the same focus he gives to evidence." He smirked. "Come on. We've got another mile to go, Wolfe."
"I can't jog like this," he complained.
Speed gave him a look. "Then fix it and catch up." He walked off, starting to jog again. Ryan whimpered, letting himself go now that he was alone. When he had caught his breath he went to catch up to Speed, finding him back at his car and Speed's bike. "Sorry you took so long?" he taunted.
Ryan growled. "Not hardly. Now I'm ready to pounce someone."
Speed snickered, climbing onto his bike. "Have fun tonight, Ryan."
"You too. Say hi to Eric." He got into his car, throwing it into reverse, then forward once he was clear of the parking spot and the bike so he could go find someone. Somewhere. Even if he did have to pay for it.
"That's not a bad idea," Speed decided, going to bother Eric for a while. He found him home alone and headed up to hang out with him. Eric answered the door, giving him a confused look. "Horatio and Xander were playing fog tag in the park and teased us."
Eric smirked, letting him inside. "Aww, you poor thing. Did it get you hard?"
"Made Wolfe get off." He dove in, kissing him. "He said hi by the way." He pushed Eric onto his knees, watching as he did what he needed. Friends took care of each other after all.
Horatio walked into his office after lunch the next day, finding Xander in there. "You snuck in?"
Xander looked at him. "You meant what you said? That you appreciate me? All that stuff?" He moved closer. "Because you know I'm not going to be leaving for a long time once I get clingy and you're mine."
"I do appreciate you and like you for yourself, Xander. I always have or I wouldn't have turned you." He took off his sunglasses, looking at him. "What's this about?"
"You said you turned me because I'd be good at protecting the family."
"That was me telling my sire I had turned someone. I do think you will protect us all but there's more to it than that. I could have made you a minion to get that." Xander swallowed, nodding, looking at him. "I turned you because I saw something in you that deserved my attention for eternity," he said quietly, stroking his chin with his thumb. "Why so insecure suddenly?"
"Not suddenly," he mumbled.
"If the rest wouldn't come after me I'd go eat everyone at the hotel in Cleveland," he said, making Xander look at him. "It's about much more than you protecting the family, Xander, and it's about much more than the sex between us. Even if it takes me years to prove that I will. We have the time."
"Buffy sent a slayer down."
"Is that why you're so tense?" He ran a hand over his arms and over his chest, watching for flinches. Which he did when he got to his lower ribs. "She attacked you?" Xander nodded. "Did she think you were turned?"
"Stetler sent her. She didn't have a stake."
"I'll deal with him," he promised, kissing him. "Are you all right?"
"I'll be fine with some food and some rest. It's only one that's broken. She's worse. I called in that I found an assault victim in the alley they found her in." He nodded, giving him a hug. "She didn't have a stake, Horatio."
"We'll fix that." He nuzzled his cheek, making him calm down. Xander always calmed down at physical reminders he was safe and wanted. "I'll handle it and Rick."
"If you take him from Buffy she'll come down to attack us, even though she thinks I'm still human."
"She won't. I'll make sure of it."
"She doesn't compulse easy either. Your sire tried a few times."
"He was lazy." He kissed him. "He uses his for fun, I use mine for work." He took another kiss. "Go home, wait on me." Xander nodded, going to do that. "Get something you want for dinner. I'll be late." Xander smiled and nodded, heading out, putting on his sunglasses when he got nearer to the sunlight. Horatio sat down to plan things. First to deal with the slayer so she couldn't turn Xander in and then to deal with Rick and Buffy. Someone was going to be begging by later tonight if he had his way. No one touched what was his.
Xander looked up from watching the sunset, smiling when Horatio came in. "I thought you said you'd be late."
"I thought I was." He came over to steal a kiss, settling in next to him. "She's decided she's not pressing charges and she's on her way back up there to report to Rick that she failed miserably." He laid a finger over Xander's lips when he tried to protest. "Rick's in a world of trouble with your Mr. Giles as well. I had a discussion with him about how bad her behavior had gotten. He'll reign in Rick and Buffy both plus finish punishing the errant young lady."
"Sending her to Rome?"
"Quite possibly," Horatio agreed. "Or Alaska."
"She'd never get along with the snow fairies."
"Where did you see snow fairies?"
"Norway." He grinned. "Picking up a girl who had gotten in trouble. They had her tied up naked in the snow for being a brat."
"You've traveled extensively but you've never experienced," Horatio said thoughtfully. "After I have to leave this life, we'll travel some. How about that?"
"I'd like that as long as it wasn't a business trip. I never got more than some native food and maybe a few postcards from the tourist places before. Business trips, ya know?"
"I do know and we'll travel the correct way. Not quite like royalty but very well."
"Some of the fun was staying in the villages of Africa. Meeting the shaman." Horatio smoothed down his hair. "Helping them avoid the conflicts that came up and got villages raided. I helped set up a lot of emergency shelters underground if their village was raided."
"You did good work to protect people, Xander. It's one of the many things I admire about you." Xander gave him an odd look. "I can admire and appreciate you both."
"No one else ever has."
"I'm not everyone else."
"True, you're not. You're a very original vampire." He gave him a grin. "Can we call Grandsire?"
Horatio laughed. "I'd rather spring this on him in person. That way I can keep him from flying into a rage and hurting one of the wives. They yell for decades when he does that, usually at me."
"What did you do last time?"
"I was helping rid the world of Nazis and one of them's family were involved. Pity."
"Good for you." He gave him another kiss. "Ice cream?" he offered, holding out his bowl.
"Is that what you had for dinner?"
"That and a boy pro earlier."
Horatio smiled, stroking over his cheek. "We need to find you donors." He kissed him, stealing a bite of the ice cream, settling in with him to watch the sunset. It was nice. He hadn't done this in a while. Maybe turning Xander was the best decision in his life. Even if John had yelled at Calleigh at the station for over an hour earlier until Speed walked in to thump him on the head. He looked at Xander. "Did you have a talk with Hagen earlier?"
"A short one. He caught me with the boy pro." He looked at him. "I did have a *talk* with him as well. He decided me loving her that way wasn't so bad after I got him down onto his back. He decided I probably talked her into it and it's not her fault. He's decided I'm a leech and tainting you too."
"I wondered why he was giving me wary looks when he came back. I'll straighten him out tomorrow."
"I'm sorry if I made it more difficult."
Horatio stroked the back of his neck. "You didn't, Xander. John's an obsessive hothead."
"Calleigh's his last link to the sunlight everyone else feels all day long," Xander said quietly. "He's letting the darkness swallow him."
Horatio looked at him. "I didn't know you were a seer."
"Supposedly that's why I lost my eye before it got returned. Caleb said it was so I'd see differently."
"I'll talk with John tomorrow." He went back to petting his childe, making him one happy vampire. Xander changed into wolf form, getting a smile. "I'll pet you," he promised, doing that, taking the rest of the ice cream for himself. He was getting to know the real Xander and it intrigued him. Though he was still going to destroy certain women in Cleveland. Or actually, he had talked Willow into doing something to Rick and Buffy so they wouldn't try to hurt Xander again. A fiery redheaded best friend had a lot of temper when you touched what was hers. Especially that one.
It took a few years for Horatio to need to leave Miami, but when it did he went out as he would've wanted - saving a family from a mad person. He woke up on Alexx's table, taking the glass of blood she had in her hand. "Are they okay?"
"Speed got the guy. He's injured again but he got the guy. I sent Xander to threaten to turn him if he didn't quit being so stupid." Horatio smiled at that, mentally laughing while he drank. "Where are you two going to go?"
"I promised Xander we'd do some traveling," he said once he was done. He handed back the glass, giving her a hug. "Thank you, Alexx."
"It was never a problem, sugar. You know that." She swatted him gently. "I had Eric clean out your locker for you. Your spare suit's in my office." He nodded, heading that way. He came out, letting her toss out the bloodied suit. Then he kissed her on the cheek, taking his sunglasses from her hand. "I'll call tonight." He smiled and nodded. "We'll have to have a wake."
"We'll make it a good going away party," Horatio promised, winking at her before sliding out of the morgue. There was his driver waiting on him with a car he didn't recognize. He slid into the back and his driver got in, taking him home. "Where's my errant mate this time?"
"Telling Detective Tripp it'll be fine, sir. He's done threatening Detective Speedle for you. He did remind him that *he* did the expedient things while you did the noble things. Speedle ended up begging not to be turned in the emergency room and he said he'd come beg you later to not be turned since this is the third time he's nearly died." Horatio hummed, shaking his head. "It seemed to work. He's promised and vowed to God that he's never going to nearly die again. Detective Tripp only needed a bit of reminding so he'll be fine, sir. Your mate should be waiting on you when you get home." He turned the corner, heading onto the main street. "There's your boss, sir."
"He figured it out with the whole Ray debacle," he said, rolling down the back window slightly as they went past. He knew his boss had caught the clue so he rolled it back up, letting his driver take him through a drive-thru for some reason. "Horace?"
"Master Xander asked that you pick him up a burger, sir. That way he wouldn't feel deprived for not having eaten Detective Speedle for his stupidly heroic actions. Claimed he was going to compulse him into an older version of himself if he didn't get something to chew on."
Horatio laughed, leaning forward to order what he mate would want. It didn't take very long and they were soon home. Xander pounced him, giving him a cuddle. "I'm fine, you know that," he soothed, kissing him on the head. He handed over the burger. "No chewing or compulsing Speed, Xander." Xander just grinned, digging out his treat to nibble on while keeping one hand on Horatio's arm. Horatio smiled at him. "I'm fine," he reminded him.
"The guy had a sword. He could've killed you."
"He didn't or the family I was protecting." Xander nodded, sitting down to nibble on his burger while Horatio put some arrangements into motion. Including calling his sire to see where he was. The others came over that night to wish them good luck on their trip and to steal pictures. It'd be a few years before they came back to Miami. They had to give everyone time to forget about him. At the end of the night, Alexx had pulled him aside to suggest that maybe it was time for Xander to even up their relationship some more, then she left after insinuating that Paris was very romantic.
Xander looked over at his sire. "Does she not remember I have the enhanced hearing too?"
"Probably not." He walked over, kissing him. "I don't mind that you're still not ready. Though, Paris can be very romantic and Sire is about two hours outside it." Xander beamed a wicked, mean, nasty smile that made his cock twitch. "I'll let you torment him soon, Xander." He took another kiss. "We'll have to pack most of the house and put it on the market."
"Can't you just leave it to me or something?"
"I plan on it but there'll be heavy taxes."
"I finally got paid from Giles for that last case I worked on for him."
"Congratulations. It only took two years." Xander smirked. "Did you torment him?"
"I whined to Willow that I had *no* underwear without holes and no decent clothes to go hunting or trolling in." Horatio snickered at that. "I think she was more concerned about the trolling. She suggested I should settle down."
"Strangely enough, I don't think that's going to be a problem." Horatio pulled him to his feet, walking him into the bedroom. "One steamer trunk, Xander. That's it." Xander nodded, pulling the matching set out of the closet. Horatio had gotten him one to match the last time he had nearly been killed on a scene. Horatio packed his favorite clothes, not really paying attention to what Xander was packing. He liked his boy in leather, in suits, and in nothing. When he did look he sighed and added some of the more formal clothes. "You know Sire will want us to go out once he's over his fit."
"I was planning on wearing the really tight leather I made Ryan help me shop for."
"If you do that he'll make you babysit the newest wife," he said bluntly. "He's strict about appropriate clothes."
"Do you find it odd he married someone from his own line?"
"It's been centuries since he had any say in it," Horatio reminded him.
"Point, but still."
"It's probably a bit of a joke between them. He said she doesn't seem to throw fits and she likes to arrange his library."
"Does it have the same gay decorating scheme he used in Sunnydale?" Horatio nodded, smirking just a bit. "Huh. Maybe we should taunt him into sending Buffy a wedding present."
"With our luck he'd send Spike," he said, shaking his head. "Pack some of the real clothes as well, Xander. Even if I am well enough off to shop in every city we hit, I don't want to spend the whole trip shopping." It had taken him six months to get Xander to let him take him shopping instead of the 'magically appearing clothing fairy' that Xander claimed had put the earlier clothes into his closet. It had been a fun trip, he had made sure it was fun, and it was something that they did together now. Xander learned how to tease him by trying on things that made him growl. Horatio got groped when he tried on things that Xander found hot on him. It had become their special date ritual. Horatio ruined enough shirts and suits at work that they could go fairly frequently. It was always followed by a long walk or playing session in the park and then a shared snack before coming home together.
"Yes, Horatio." He laid some of his suits on top, then packed some underwear. Horatio gave him an odd look. "What?"
"Didn't pack any before?" he asked. Xander beamed and shook his head. "I should spank."
"You can try. How sore did you want to be tonight, dear?"
Horatio smirked. "We'll have to wait and see, won't we? Tasks first then sex." Xander pouted but finished packing what he'd need, including his passport and then settled down to email Willow so he could have his retirement fund shifted. She knew he was with Horatio but thought he was still human. She cooed about the romantic trip and said she put his name on her gift for Buffy and Rick. "She didn't want me to embarrass them so she put my name on her gift. Silver bracelets."
"That's romantic," Horatio agreed, coming over to kiss his boy. "How much is in your retirement fund?" Xander showed him. "That's not bad for only a few years."
"I had some luck thanks to a wish demon who owed me. I asked that I have enough to be comfortably off until the end of my days. Guess he knew something I didn't."
Horatio stroked over the back of his neck. "We have time, Xander. It'll grow. Put half of that into an account that'll grow." Xander looked up. "That's how I do it." He nodded, moving to do that. Horatio went back to his neck massage. Over the last few years he had learned how complex, strong, stubborn, yet vulnerable, Xander was. When he had first turned him he had learned to appreciate him in all his many playful forms. Sometimes he had been irritated by the playful nature, but now he understood why he was like that and it was better for him. Them. Though he still wouldn't bottom for him. So maybe this trip would help with that. Not that he minded being under Xander. He was a fantastic lover. He had the same sort of focus Horatio had for what he was doing. Xander had made him call off a few times over the last few years. He hadn't been able to do more than lay there most of them. He smiled at the memory of their last one. Xander's twenty-sixth birthday. Xander gave him inquisitive look and he smiled. "Remembering your last birthday."
"I can't do that tonight if we want to make the plane you booked us on."
"True but it can be just as nice," he offered.
"Oh, I can make it nice," Xander promised, smirking a bit evilly as he finished up. By tomorrow the half he was keeping out would be in his normal account. The other would be away from Willow. He found a list in his inbox from Giles, sighing. He sent back one saying if he was traveling for the Council they were footing the bill, he was getting traveling expenses again, and a paycheck. Giles sent back a simple 'fine' but he could hear the sigh. "Horatio, Giles wants us to hunt and gather for him."
"Where?" He looked at the list. "Sire has six of those books in his collection. We can see if he's feeling generous. The last two are mythical."
"They're in the Roman Library." He gave him a look. "I hate Rome."
"I know you do." He patted him gently, then pulled him up. "We'll plan that on the plane ride tomorrow, Xander." He let himself be pounced, enjoying it greatly when Xander drove him onto his back and went right for the heart of the matter - his cock. Within minutes he was aching, begging, pleading for Xander to do more than tease him. He still had his shirt, jacket, and shoes on, but his pants were pushed down to his knees. Xander quickly slammed into him, making him ride it out.
"Just like our first time," Xander teased.
"I still owe you for that," he complained. "I wasn't ready then."
"You definitely are tonight." He kept going, making his boy forget all about dying earlier. Horatio finally came and he snuggled down beside him. "They won't forget you," he said quietly, stroking over his covered stomach. "They'll remember you. They'll be safe because they don't want me to come save them." Horatio grinned. "Speed will clean his gun. I made sure of it. I told him I'd be doing random magical checks and if it wasn't clean he was going to pay because I'd compulse Ryan and let Ryan have him as a toy. Speed said he'd look horrible with OCD but oh well. I think he'll look very cute in a sweater vest. He groaned and tried to make me go away. Eric will be fine and maybe he'll settle down. Calleigh has John and Hannah."
"He's still saying Hannah's yours."
"I don't know. I know it's a pretty rare occurrence. If she is, I'm happy. If not, I'm happy. She's happy with her mommy, her mommy loves her, her mommy loves to swat John until he begs for mercy, I'm happy." Horatio kissed him. "It'll be fine and we'll be back in a year or two." Horatio nodded, giving him a hug, but Xander cuddled him. "You're still dressed." Horatio fogged up, too tired to do more than that. When he re- coalesced, he was naked. His clothes were under him but he didn't care. "Neat trick. I've got to try that sometime." He nuzzled his sire gently, making him smile as he fell asleep. He thought Xander was teasing his coworkers but they knew better than to die when Horatio wasn't around. He would bring them back and make them sorry. It didn't pay to make Horatio hurt that way. He continued to pet his mate until he fell asleep, comforted by the simple action of protecting someone he loved.
Xander looked around the small inn, then smiled at Horatio, nodding. Horatio shook his head. "Please?" he begged.
"He'll behead us both," he complained quietly.
"But, Horatio." He giggled and drug him over there, draping himself across his grandsire's back. "Did you miss me, pookie?" he purred in the stiff man's ear. "I know you did."
"Get off me, Harris," he ordered. Xander laughed, grinning at him. "I see you brought my wayward childe with you." He paused, studying them. "Horatio, an explanation?" he asked calmly. Before he lost his temper and screamed. "Now," he growled when one didn't come automatically.
"He does protect us wonderfully, Sire, and he is one that I can find myself doing many desirable things for." He smiled at Xander, who grinned back, earning a pinch. "Though I did ask him to behave and I will be spanking him for that later."
"No, Xander. Behave." Xander pouted, nodding, leaning against his shoulder. He looked at his Sire, seeing the horrified look. "I thought it time to introduce you two."
"Please tell me that's not my grandchilde," Dracula said, nearly whimpering. "I made him eat bugs, childe."
"Can't do it anymore," Xander quipped. "The same thing that stops possessions stops you from doing it. Now, Horatio... now and then I let him if he wants to play." He smiled at the five women looking very confused. "Hi, I'm Xander. He met me in Sunnydale. I made him leave Milan too." The woman from there moaned, holding her head. "Horatio's my pookie." He gave him a squeeze around the waist.
"Fuckin' fags," someone slurred behind them.
Xander turned and slammed his head through the table. "Shut up; no one asked your opinion on how we have sex. Unless you wanted to watch?" he asked his buddies, who all shook their heads and took their friend to safety. He needed a bit of medical attention but that was fine. He wouldn't die. Xander smiled at Horatio. "Hi."
"Thank you for only giving him a concussion." Xander kissed him, getting a smile back. He smirked at his sire. "He is *very* protective of what's his and I'm his."
Dracula started to laugh. "Oh, God, Horatio!" He leaned on his nearest wife. "You've certainly tripped over yourself this time. That noble nature was going to harm you, I knew it would." He found himself on the floor on his back with Xander having a foot in his chest, staring down at him. "When did you get so good?" he sneered.
"You never bothered to see more than the persona the girls made me put out. Horatio's seen the real me. And gee, when he did, he found someone who was interesting, loving, protective, nice, sweet, gentle, and hot as hell, plus skilled. Hmm. Maybe your rose- colored glasses aren't just for the frou-frou furniture you left?" He got off him, looking at Horatio. "I'm going to our room. You can say mean things without my help." He nodded politely at the wives. "I'm sorry you had to see his inadequacies so up-close and personal, ladies. I look forward to getting to know you." He strolled off, heading back to their motel room.
Horatio helped his sire up. "If you had simply looked beyond the shield he had to put up to defend himself against people like his family and those girls, you would've seen someone who rivals me in stubbornness and virility," he said quietly. "Xander is my choice and if you don't like it I don't truly care anymore." He walked off, heading after his mate. He found him on the bed in wolf form, laying down next to him. "He'll get over it, Xander. He's stubborn." The wolf shrugged and flipped over to lay with his head on his chest. Horatio smiled, petting him gently. This was their favorite way to soothe Xander when something went wrong. He looked over when the window opened and fog came in, smiling at his favorite of the wives. "Good evening, Alana."
"I swatted him for you. He was stupid back in Sunnydale. You're right, he didn't look. He wanted Buffy."
"She's marrying soon. Rick Stetler."
"Interesting. We'll have to send her a good present." She came closer, sitting on the foot of the bed. "So this is your choice for a first husband?" He smiled and nodded, poking Xander until he turned back. "It's clear you care for him, young one."
"I remember." She stroked over his head. "Were you not missing one of those pretty brown eyes?"
"Anya made a wish post-death," he admitted. "I got given the choice to have her back or have the eye back. She screamed and ranted until they gave me the eye." She laughed. "She's also sworn to kill me if she ever sees me with another woman."
"She was a feisty vengeance demon in her day and a stronger woman now that she's been returned," she agreed, stroking through his hair. "You and Horatio do look very good together, Xander." He grinned at that. "Though I do notice some things are missing." She gave Horatio an odd look.
"That was his choice," he agreed. He stroked over Xander's hand. "He said he would only turn over for the one he married."
"Then don't let your Sire try to force him. He'll try to maintain dominance."
Horatio snorted. "I have a problem with that." Xander grinned at him. "He is a natural alpha." He kissed him, smiling. "Though I was reminded that traveling was very romantic and a good way to woo my mate to my side."
"I still don't see a ring."
"You're honestly going to wait on that until I marry you?" Xander smiled and nodded. "As I said, he's stubborn," he told her, making her laugh. "It's been a few years now."
"I heard Sire say that you had turned someone." She patted Xander on the shoulder. "Why the marriage? You're already together."
"Because if I don't, she can try to claim me. Plus, I want it to be permanent. That's the last bit of innocence I'll give up. It's the last I have. I want it to go to someone who'll cherish it and me. No matter what happens, no matter at what age."
She smiled, leaning forward to kiss him on the forehead. "I understand, Xander. It's important." She smiled at Horatio. "We'll see what happens before you go back to the land of sun."
"We should probably hit Sunnydale on the way back to make sure I don't have to recharge the native earth," Xander said, looking at Horatio, who shook his head. "No?"
"It shouldn't matter, Xander. Even if it's old, dried out, and powerless it's still native soil."
"Yeah but something's growing in the pendant. I can feel it moving now and then."
"Then we'll have one of the other wives look at it," she said simply. "Hortense is a wonderful witch. She made those for you." He grinned at that, hugging Horatio around the middle. "Good boy. We'll talk tomorrow night. Give us time to calm the stubborn bastard down again." She fogged up and floated out.
Horatio smiled at him. "If she likes you it'll be fine."
Xander kissed him. "I wasn't worried. Can I call him granddad?"
"Wait a few days to irritate him again," he ordered, flipping onto his side to hold his boy. "He would've reacted more calmly if you hadn't cuddled him."
"He made me eat bugs, he deserved it."
"I think your cuddles are a reward, not a punishment."
"Fine, I won't cuddle him again." He felt the breeze coming in and had the windows blown shut, looking over when something thumped. "I think we were getting another visitor."
Horatio got up to open the window, looking at the man down there. "You have bad timing, he was getting cold from the breeze you were using."
"He did it on purpose."
"He didn't know you were coming and neither did I. Get up here if you want." He left the window open, going back to the bed. Xander was back in wolf form. "Being cuddly?" he asked, settling in to pet him. He looked over at his sire when he reformed. "He's being cuddly."
"He likes to be petted?"
"He likes me to pet him," Horatio offered. His sire glared. "Don't you get tired of making people eat bugs?"
"No, I find it rather funny." The wolf growled so he glared. "You're still odd and off- putting."
"Really? I find his mind fascinating and helpful. He has a lot stored under that mop of his hair." He looked down at the lick to his hand. "Yes, you need a haircut again." He looked at his sire, smirking some. "Your first wife was here."
"I know. Better fussing over you than me." He stared at the gray wolf, then at his childe. "No other surprises you wanted to tell me about now that you have my attention, Horatio?"
"We're not sure if his last seed produced a child or not. Her mother loves her no matter which father created her." That just got a nod. "Buffy's getting married to Rick Stetler next month."
"We'll have to send her a present." He grimaced. "I do not like your choice." Horatio shrugged and the wolf curled up on his stomach, letting himself be petted more. "He was not like this back in Sunnydale."
"Perhaps...perhaps you didn't look," Horatio said, looking down at his mate. He got a lupine grin and a lick across the face. "I told you no more wolf kisses."
Xander changed back. "Not like I'm making Wolfe kiss you."
"Thank you for not punishing him again." He ran his fingers through the dark hair. "Definitely time for a haircut, Xander."
"Yes, Horatio." He laid back down on his chest, one leg thrown across one of Horatio's. "I know I'm fascinating. If only because I flustered you since you didn't look any deeper than the surface before."
"Renfield was one of my greater servants."
"He was insane and in an asylum if I remember the book right," Xander said dryly. "Can't do much there." He looked at Horatio again. "Should I go shower to let you two have time to yell at each other?"
"I won't be yelling at him, Xander. You can shower or not, up to you." Xander looked at his sire, who nodded for him to go. He slid out of the bed and headed to shower. Horatio shifted, sitting up further. "He is my choice."
"Didn't I tell you he had better be a long lost enemy that you turn to taunt or a lost love?"
Horatio nodded. "I do seem to remember that conversation, yes. I also saw Xander for who he is and was. He and I are a lot alike," he said quietly. "He understands me and cherishes my nature as much as I do his."
"Yet he doesn't have your scent on him," he said dryly. "After two years, Horatio? Even once?"
"He wants that to be special. Said he wants it to be saved for our wedding night."
Dracula snorted. "How feminine of him."
"I think it's a good idea. He's given up all his other innocences to save the world. His last one should be cherished as something more special since the others weren't. I don't mind not being on top at the moment. We'll get there."
His sire glared at him. "You're setting bad examples, Horatio."
"For my wives."
"Since when have they had any innocence left?" he countered.
"Fine, for those slayer brats he works with."
"He never sees them, even before I turned him. They came to a physical parting of the ways when he stuck up for Dawn's actions." His sire looked confused. "Took some digging for me as well. After the move to Cleveland...."
"What bad things come from Cleveland, except for Drew Carey comedies?"
"I like him," Xander called.
"Of course you do." He looked at Horatio again. "Sunnydale?"
"Fell in. The First Evil showed, Sire."
"I heard about that."
"Sunnydale got sucked into the hellmouth. It's a bare spot for the most part. Everyone fled to the newly opened hellmouth in Cleveland. Dawn is Buffy's sister. She was deep in grief and made a wish. Xander stuck up for her and he hasn't done more than visit since then. Cleveland has never been his home, Sire. He hasn't had time to settle down until he came to Miami." He looked at the bathroom then back at his sire. "Our first meeting was when the FBI and Watchers sent him to fix the situation Raymond had caused," he said quietly. "He asked me right off if it was me and I said no. He believed me. He worked with me to find Ray. He nearly died to keep from killing the idiot since he had promised I would have the time I needed to talk to him before he was punished. He had a stake on him and used a titanium crossbow bolt instead so I would have what I needed."
"That was...good I suppose," he admitted, sitting down. "You have problems maintaining your Sire's relationship with him?"
Horatio smirked. "Not always. Xander is and always has been a strong alpha warrior, Sire. There's nothing new about that now. Now and then we do battle for dominance but I win in most things. He knows he still has a lot to learn and he lets me teach him. He was most anxious to learn how to change forms since people kept showing up to talk to Ray before we had him locked in that cell."
"Is he still there?"
Horatio nodded. "He was bricked in there with a single glass of blood, just out of reach of where he was chained. Yelina had it done to show what his lusts had brought onto the family. I'm not supposed to know but Xander went and added another trap in case he gets loose in his blood madness. I'm sure if he does he won't make it to fresh air."
Xander came out of the bathroom. "It's like an Iron Maiden, but made of wood spikes at typical heart, lung, head, throat, knees, and hip/groin height," he admitted. "Even if it doesn't dust him we'll know he's there and injured. Plus I put a motion alarm there. It'll catch him and only him."
"Thank you," Dracula said, staring at him. "You're still off-putting."
"That's because you wanted to believe the hype," he said simply. "I'll get along with you like an in-law because your opinion is important to Horatio but I'm still going to make your life a living hell for making me eat bugs."
Dracula smirked a bit at that. "You think you can?"
"Who do you think brought Buffy's ego down?" he said simply. Dracula shuddered. He smirked back. "By the way, the Watchers wanted a few books in your collection. If you wanted to, you could give Buffy and Rick those for their marriage since she *finally* wore him down."
"Yeah, the Bringeres blew up the original Council," Xander told him, getting gaped at. "They blew up the London branch and went to kill and burn out most of the rest. Giles and a few others got the girls to Sunnydale for protection. Willow activated them all before we went into the hellmouth to fight her. It was seriously gross too. Hell is kinda messy. No wonder Angel won't talk about when I sent him to Hell." Horatio growled at that. "Sorry. You know, if we go back for the wedding, we might run into him. Then I can pick on Deadboy and Spike. It'll make my day plus there'll be cake," he said happily.
Horatio pulled him down to kiss him. "Behave, Xander. No more evil thoughts." He cuddled him, looking at his sire. "I'll get you the list of what they're looking for."
"I was hoping for silver picture frames or something," he admitted. "They really blew up the London Library?" Xander nodded. "The one in Rome?"
"Was better hidden and protected. Some of the protectors died but it's under the Vatican so they couldn't fully get to it. Now the guardians won't give Giles access to the books. Even when he sent Wes."
Dracula shook his head. "No wonder you never went home."
"Cleveland wasn't ever home," Xander said bluntly. "I haven't had a home in a long time. Until Horatio made me see settling down might be nice."
"Yet you won't let him have you?"
"I lost my blood innocence, my sexual innocence, my eye, my health, my life protecting this planet. I think I deserve to cherish the last bit of innocence I have left until the time's right. Sorry if you don't. Even if I bottomed night and day for Horatio you still wouldn't be getting sire's privilege. I would have to beat you for that."
"I can still compulse you." Horatio shook his head. "No? You can't?" That wasn't right. How would Horatio control his spouse? He had to compulse his wives to keep them from nagging and whining him to death, and on other occasions when they got annoying. Horatio would need that skill more with the annoying one he chose.
"Not while he's got his protections against being possessed. It blocks us," he told him, smiling down at his mate. "Calm down. Rest. It'll be a long day tomorrow going through all the wineries."
Xander looked at him. "Is that where they punish the whiny toddlers?" he asked, looking confused.
"Wineries are where they make wine, Xander," he said gently.
"Like on _I Love Lucy_?"
"Exactly, only now they mostly use machinery. We can do some taste testing and see if there's any we want to send to Calleigh, Speed, or Alexx." Xander smiled and nodded. "But it will mean some walking so rest."
"Yes, dear." He snuggled in again, head on Horatio's shoulder. "I know, we're beautiful together."
"You are." He stood up. "I will think on this. Give me that list, I'll see what I can do. It'll be a cheaper wedding present most likely." He walked out, closing the room's door behind himself. He missed Horatio and Xander smiling at each other but he knew that his protector did like this one for whatever reason. He would never understand Horatio's passions. He walked back to his own villa, finding his wives waiting on him. "He's truly stuck on the little oddball."
His first wife smacked him on the head. "Shut up, Vlad. Even a protector needs someone who protects him or else he has no reason to protect others. They protect each other and give each other strength to move on with life. We would have lost Horatio when his brother turned so bad if he hadn't had Xander to baby." He nodded, grimacing. "Besides, it'll be nice having another seer in the family." Vlad looked confused, opening his mouth. "Caleb popped one of his eyes because he knew he could see. He doesn't seem to be like Druscilla."
"Thankfully. I'd have put them both out of his misery were he like that."
She swatted him again. "Behave and watch them, Vlad. I will not have you hurting Horatio." She stomped off, the other wives going with her. He heard their room door slam and lock, muttering as he went to his own cold, lonely bed. He would have to deal with that tomorrow. Perhaps he could talk Horatio into talking to them. He did better dealing with fussy wives than he did. He ended up complusing them all too often when they were in this mood.
Vlad caught his children out for dinner the next night. They were slowly dancing with each other, talking quietly about what they had seen earlier in the day, Xander smiling at Horatio through most of it. He sat down to watch them. They were a handsome couple and you could see the lust that flowed beneath the very thin layer of manners they were both using. Xander said something and his protector smiled, walking off with him for a few minutes. Vlad followed, it hadn't been for sex. He watched them go into a darkened alley and then change shape, floating off. He could tell which cloud was which but then they got to a darker clearing and Xander turned and flowed back at Horatio. Vlad was very confused. He watched as Horatio flowed around him. Then Xander took off floating, Horatio after him. He caught the boy's cloud and surrounded a part of it, making the boy it. He was very quick at turning and getting him back but Horatio liked the chase it seemed. Vlad almost smiled. They were playing tag? His very serious, deadly, hot- tempered protector was playing tag as clouds of fog with his mate? It was too cute for words.
He summoned his wives to come watch, settling down in rat form. There was less chance for the boys to catch them watching that way. His first wife settled on his back but he didn't care. The boys were playing and he could feel the lightness of spirit. Xander was giving back just as good as he got. They finally reformed, Xander laughing and Horatio smiling, giving him a cuddle. He kissed him and Xander pounced, driving him to the ground, messing up his hair and suit but that was fine. Horatio didn't seem to mind. He did remind them of the dinner reservations but Xander pouted. Horatio said he was hungry and that was that. Xander got off him and helped him up, dusting him off on the way out of the small park. He led his boy back to the restaurant and made sure he got something he liked. Horatio was letting himself be fussed over as well? Not even his wives had been able to do that to the too-serious young man he had turned so very long ago. He wiggled until his wife got off his back, changing back. They all changed with him, making him smile because one was still in curlers. "Go get dressed." She headed back to their villa to do that.
Alana leaned against his arm, smiling and happy, sighing a bit. "It's good that Horatio lets the boy make him play. It eases his soul."
"I still can't believe they were playing tag," he said, but he was smiling. "We should meet up with them later."
"If they don't go back to their room to do what couples do," she reminded him, strolling off. He followed, watching his wives walk. It was the best show in his house. He could tease Horatio later. When they went to find the boys later it was too late, they were already together and Horatio was making noises that made all the wives giggle together. Which meant his night just got a lot more interesting too.
A few weeks later, Xander formed after floating in an open window in Cleveland, making Rick jump and grab his chest. "Don't die, I'm not into CPR tonight." He held out a package. "From Horatio, his Sire, and his sire's wives."
"Thank you." He stared at him for a few minutes. "How did they get to this point? I know you were here."
Xander smirked. "Buffy has an ego because she's slayer. The longest lasting slayer *ever* by the time she reached twenty. One had been called later and made it to twenty-one but Buffy's now twenty-six. That means she's the oldest and the longest lasting. All because she broke the traditional methods and had our help," he said quietly, sitting on the end of the bed. "Willow went dark for a while in her grief. We had to bring her back. That added to combat stress and having to save the world a lot? It gets wearing. You find your amusements where you can."
"You planned things."
"I did," he agreed. "Or replanned them when Giles tried to plan them. Why?"
"The last battle...."
"Happened. There wasn't a whole lot of planning that could be done. Go in and survive was the majority of it."
"I see." He stared at him. "How did she get to be so shallow now and then?"
Xander grinned. "She was a Cali Princess before she got poked with the duty stick. Her parents were well off. The sort to have the massive, lavish sweet sixteen party, including car. She got poked late in her fifteenth year. Kinda wrecked being the popular cheerleader sort she had been. Especially when she had to burn down a gym to save the school." He leaned forward, crossing his legs 'indian' style in front of him, leaning on his knees. "Besides, having the fate of the world on your shoulders means that you've got to find some levity. A bit of shallowness is better than her going all intense and snapping, or ending the world so she doesn't have to save it anymore."
Rick nodded at hat. "I can almost see her or Faith doing that."
"Buffy was the last single slayer the world had. She was doing it all by herself. Just her, us, and occasionally Angel. Faith had her moments with Buffy, and her moments as a bad girl too. She came back. She's redeemed herself."
"Point." He glanced at the package then back at him. "Some of the books Giles wanted?" Xander smiled and nodded. "Thanks, he said we could use them."
"The important thing to remember about this sort of fighting is to go with the terrain, magical and not, Rick. If there's a bush in the way, use the bush instead of cutting the bush down and moving it then replanting it. A lot of times that's what saved us, using and knowing the natural terrain."
"I can see the point. We're not facing anything that bad, just a minor opening about three days after the wedding."
"Then have Willow and her kitties of doom deal with it with the junior girls while you're gone. It'll knock down some of the egos to be blasted with hellmouth kraken slime. It did ours."
Rick shuddered. "Eww. I hate slime. I used to care about my clothes. Now I know why you shopped in thrift shops."
Xander smiled. "Ditto, man. Ditto. Anything else you wanted to know?"
Rick looked at him. "Why pick me?"
"Buffy's first love was Angel. An Angel in denial of his happy clause but Angel. Then she moved onto the putz who used her. Riley, commando boy if you've heard that story, and then Spike. Then a few other vamps. Giles was desperate to have her quit dating vampires. It wasn't good for her and she was getting somewhat abusive. They'd have a fight and she'd stake the boyfriend then pout because she staked the boyfriend." He shuddered again. "I met you and figured you weren't any worse than Spike. You were cute enough relative to her usual tastes for dark and handsome. You're definitely better for her than Angel or Spike. Especially better than Riley since they tried to kill her and us. Plus I've seen Buffy grow into her tastes over the years. You fit. You could handle a strong woman. You had opinions that you could stand up for because you did it often to Horatio. You were strong enough to stand up to her if she got huffy. It was a good match. I'm happy I was right. How did you talk her out of the marriage when she came to Miami to get you?"
"I told her I'd do many things - sleep with her, date her, talk to her, take romantic walks with her - but after only knowing her for only two weeks there wasn't any way I was going to marry her. It took longer than that to form a real relationship, especially since I spent most of it tied to her bed being called gushy and disgusting pet names. She talked to Willow and agreed that getting to know me better by doing the normal dating things would be nice. So she took me home and we went to dinner. Then I met the heathen brats downstairs." Xander grinned at that. "You know how disorganized they are."
"They have to have their own personality, Rick. That's why Buffy survived so long."
"She survived so long because she had you and Willow."
"Also true, but mostly because she wasn't afraid to break the old rules. The old girls were taken from their families as soon as they were found. Some as young as newborns. Some of the families that protested were killed by the old Council." He leaned more on his knees. "Buffy was never found before she was poked for duty. Her first Watcher found her right after she got called." He gaped. "She was never turned into an emotionless, non-desiring robot the way the others girls were. We met a few of them when I brought Buffy back to life. The one who got called after her, Kendra, had *one* outfit. She had no life outside her duty. She wanted to stake Angel."
"I want to stake Angel," he admitted.
Xander beamed. "Ditto again. I call him Deadboy all the time. Pisses him off to no end." Rick smirked at that. "He knew about the happiness clause. He knew all about it and what would make him happy. He knew that opening that portal with his blood meant that his blood had to close it. She doesn't like that I had to do that, but she knew why I did it eventually. Took her eight years but she finally forgave me for it when Angel made her."
Rick nodded. "Thank you."
"Saving her. Saving them. The rest of us now and then."
Xander shrugged. "It's what we did, Rick. It got me out of the house and into situations I had never dreamed of before. It gave me Anya."
"Do you know what a psycho she is?"
Xander chuckled and nodded. "Yup. I was her prom date when she got stuck being human. We dated for two years and I nearly married her. I saw her go back to demon then return to human when she realized we had tainted her until she had a conscience. I watched her die knowing that she was a bit warped."
"Okay, very. All we ever heard was protesting that I never gave her enough orgasms a night and how much she wanted to make more money in those days."
Rick grimaced. "It's not much better now."
"Tell her to jump Willow. Willow could use the ease to her grief and she might like girls if she tried it."
"She already did. They're giggling about it up the hall."
"I heard the giggling but Buffy's up there too trying to listen." He grinned. "Anyway. Is Dawn coming? If not, I'm heading back to Ireland."
"She is. She did want to see you. I'm not sure it's wise with you dating Horatio."
"You do know Buffy nearly ended up dating his sire?" he asked dryly. "He came to test himself against Buffy and tried to seduce her."
"Pity he's gone."
"He's not. He's in London going through the wreckage of the old Watcher building. He said there was a secret library and if he could find it he'll send it to Giles so I don't have to come begging for him again. Also, the guys in Rome? Tell him they're all spirit guardians now. Have Willow, Anya, and Wes go clean the sucker out. I loathe Rome. The last Pope told me I was doing Satan's work by hunting when I ran into him."
"Not from what I've seen. They do say you're a bit flighty and joking."
Xander smirked. "Like others have been told recently, they never looked that deeply. I've known Willow since the first day of school. Buffy since sixteen. Neither of them looked because they didn't want to. Willow wanted someone to mother and take care of. Someone to protect her even while she babied them. Buffy wanted a toy to drag along shopping and to have as an extra backup. How many times has she drug you shopping?"
"I tell her to go find something pretty to surprise me with."
"See, I couldn't get away with that. I wasn't dating her. So I got drug along as the approval committee very often."
"So was I. But hey, I realized how gay Drac's decorating scheme was. By the way, tell Giles the Three Sisters are now Five Sisters; they send their love and possibly cookies if they get into the kitchen." Rick shook his head, moaning, rubbing his eyes at that. Xander disappeared before he opened his eyes again.
Rick looked around then shook his head, picking up the books to bring to Giles. "Horatio sent them from his sire's library for a wedding present from him and Horatio. Also, his sire is trying to find the hidden library in London. Horatio sent word that the library in Rome is down to spirit guardians so Wes, Anya, and Willow can go raid it now. Plus he suggested you let Willow handle the upcoming opening with some of the younger girls to knock down their egos."
"How was Xander?" he asked, smiling at him.
"He looked fine."
"Good. Then I won't have to kill Horatio." He smiled, opening the books. "Oh yes, I needed some of these. Is he coming to the wedding?"
"I'm not sure that's wise with who he's dating."
"There will be a truce. After all, we'll have Angel, Spike, and Faith here."
"Up to you then. He said he would if Dawn was. Otherwise he'd be going back to Ireland."
"Horatio did say they'd be traveling some." He called Xander's cellphone, getting his boyfriend. "Horatio, Giles. Do come to the wedding. You'll be safe and Dawn wanted to see him as well." He smiled at the kind words. "Of course we'll welcome you and he can have cake since I know he likes his sweets. Thank you." He hung up. "He'll be here. Tell your giggling one that."
"She really used to make him go shopping with her?"
"Both girls did and then Anya did. I believe he called it his pack mule persona." Rick walked off shaking his head. "He'll find out soon enough that he's having a normal reaction to Xander. As I have many times," he mused, opening the first book. He smiled. It was even the edition he needed.
Horatio opened the door, walking inside the hotel, pausing to take off his sunglasses. A few people stared at him so he smiled. "Xander said to meet him here?"
"You know the Xander?" a young brunette woman asked.
"I do. Very well actually." Xander strolled out of the kitchen. "Am I late? You're already eating cake."
"No, Willow's trial was being eaten for breakfast since Giles forgot to get real food for more than the reception." He kissed him, smiling. "I love that suit."
"I said you could get one of your own, Xander."
"I won't look like that in mine," he shot back, smirking some. He stole another kiss then turned around, seeing the shocked looks. "Yes, this is my Horatio. You touch him and I'm going to start beheading, human or not," he said firmly. The brunette girl laughed and ran over to hug them both. "Hi, Dawnie."
"Hi, Xander. I've missed you." She kissed him on the cheek, looking over his shoulder at Horatio. "I will do evil things to your corpse if you hurt him. Am I clear?"
"The thought has never crossed my mind, Miss Summers."
She smiled. "Good." She walked off with him in tow, Xander following. "Wes, this is Horatio. He's Xander's."
Wesley looked over then his eyes went wide. "I say...."
"Peace treaty," Buffy called. "Or else I get to take dicks and staplegun them to the wall again."
"Of course." He held out a hand. "Wesley Wyndham-Pryce," he said.
"Horatio Caine." He shook his hand. "Xander?" He looked over from staring at Angel, smirking at him. "Don't taunt the vampire, Xander. Let him sleep. His kind are more nocturnal than I am."
"I know but I thought it would be good for him to say hi." He poked Angel on the forehead until he woke up, finishing his next bite of cake. "My boyfriend's here, wanted to say hi."
Angel sat up, looked, then went as bright pink as he ever had, bowing slightly before scurrying from the room. His butt was even tucked under as much as a human body could do that. "Spike!" he squealed.
"Peace treaty, damn it! Don't make me break a nail hurting you, Angel!" Buffy yelled after him.
"Oh, dear, you ran into Angelus before?" Wes asked, smiling a bit.
"His childe had the unfortunate luck to try to pick on one I was protecting as a feeder. Angelus then tried to get even for his childe's treatment. Pity." Spike strolled in and paused, then coughed and looked down. He was very bright red for a vampire. "Spike. Good to see you again."
"You too, Red." He nodded politely at Wes. "Dawn. Whelp."
"Mine," Xander said smugly, putting down his plate so he could pounce Horatio for another kiss.
"Aww, aren't they adorable together?" Dawn cooed.
Spike blinked then nodded. "Very pretty. Even Dru would like that and she's not fond of two blokes shagging." He tipped his head to the side some. "Huh." He walked out shaking his head. "Whelp's here, Giles!" he bellowed. "Making out with his toy in the parlor already." Most of the junior slayers went to peek and watch. The stampede was fun to watch since they nearly ran over the groom. "You gonna go watch too?"
"I've seen Horatio many times. He used to be in Miami and my nemesis because he bent rules." He stomped that way. "Ladies, that is not polite!" he said firmly. He got fourteen pouts and a pair of puppy eyes from Dawn. "I don't care. Out or no chocolate for a month and workouts at sunrise every single day, no exceptions!" They fled. He looked at the couple. "Must you?"
Horatio looked over. "What better way to make sure they don't try to steal Xander back?"
Rick shook his head. "Xander, keep him out of trouble."
"If he gets into Miami sort of trouble here I get to kick some ass," Xander said dryly. "I know Buffy won't help, it might mess up her dress or hair, but the rest of us will kick some ass."
"Thank you. She's already fussing over her hair."
"On it," Dawn agreed, going to help her sister. Willow was trying really hard but she was still wearing a short haircut and using magic to keep it short. "Let me." She came in to pin up her sister's hair. "Xander has promised to beat the butt of anything that attacks so you don't have to mess yourself up." Buffy beamed at that. "Remember to brush your teeth too, Buffy. It's kinda clear you were having a salad." She nodded, going to do that, letting Dawn follow to work on her hair in there.
Anya skipped down the stairs, pouting at Horatio. "No more show?"
"No, I was making sure no one would try to keep him, Anyanka."
"Poo. I was hoping he'd share you."
"Fat chance," Xander said from behind her. He picked her up, turning her around, then swatted her on the butt. "Go help Buffy. My man!"
"But...." He glared and she wisely slunk off. "Fine, you won't share your boyfriend. I knew I should've gotten Spike to join us in bed. You would've liked it."
"By then I already knew what to do with Spike, Ahn, and who said Horatio gets to top?" She whimpered. "Tough. I'm still not wearing a ring. Now, shoo. Go help or something." She nodded, trudging off to do that. He turned around, finding Horatio smirking. "Sorry. It's good to see her back to her usual form." He slid into Horatio's lap. "I do like you in that suit."
Horatio kissed him again. "It would be rude to rip it off me."
"Expensive too. You made me replace the last one I ripped."
"I did. I told you not to rip my suits. Shirts are fine. Jeans are fine. Suits are not fine, Xander."
"But you look so good in them," he said, teasing a button, giving him a look under his lashes. "Where are we going after Ireland?"
"I was thinking my homeland. Would you mind?"
"Nope. I've never been to Poland." He snuck a kiss with a small grin. "Can we visit the really pretty castle too? Grandpa said we could borrow it for a while."
"It's been a wreck since World War II," he said grimly.
"Not that one. The other one." He nuzzled his throat, nipping him on it with his human teeth. "The one with the big ballroom you were telling me about." Horatio moaned, nodding. "After you get to go home for a while?"
"Or before. Either's fine with me."
"After. You need to recharge your soul again." Horatio smiled at that, nodding a bit. "Can we ride horses at the castle?"
"If there's any still there." He stroked over his cheek. "My good boy," he said quietly. Xander beamed. "No more cake for breakfast, you'll get more hyper. Then something will happen."
"No it won't. No demonic entity would *dare* mess up Buffy's wedding. They all know what would happen if they did. She would start by siccing Willow on them and then end with taking over Hell and using the bones as a walkway to her altar. I checked last night. They *all* know and they've warned *everyone* to stay away from them for the next two days. Or else. The hellmouth might not even open on time." Horatio smiled at that. "Seriously. One of the demons said he told the ones who're opening it soon and they said they might hold off. She'll be *pissed* in all capitol letters." Horatio took another kiss, earning a smile. "I was good for making sure they knew bothering her would get their whole species destroyed?" He nodded. "Thank you." He snuggled in against his shoulder, smiling at Giles when he came in. "Hi, G-man."
"Xander, do not call me that dratted name or you're never getting paid for your traveling expenses." He held out a hand. "Horatio, pleasant to finally meet you in person." Horatio smiled and shook it. "Thank you for taking our most troublesome wandering one there and making him happy. I do hope it will continue?"
"If I have my way about it, it will," Horatio told him.
"Good. Now, Angel ate the person who tried to record what you did to him and Spike in the Chronicles. Could you perhaps fill in some information for us? It would be most helpful and get Spike out of my library again."
Horatio smiled. "After the ceremony."
"Of course. Thank you for helping us find those books as well."
"Sire thought it might be a good wedding present. He did say one was a later edition than you wanted but it was all he had."
"That's fine. It was wishful thinking." He smiled at them. "He does look very cute on your lap." He nodded at the sleeping boy. "Try to keep him from the kitchen. There's chocolate out in there and I'm sure you realize what will happen if he gets into it." He walked off, going to check on Buffy.
Horatio shifted, letting Xander get more comfortable. Wesley came in and smiled. "He had a long night."
"I'm sure he did. What did you do to Angel? I would *love* to know."
Horatio smiled. "Mr. Giles has asked me to fill in some gaps in the Chronicles." Wesley smirked and went to find Giles to see what else he was going to ask him.
Dawn leaned in. "Need a pillow, Horatio?"
"No, I'm fine, Dawn. Thank you." He stared at her. "How did you know?"
"Easy, no ring." She shrugged and smiled, disappearing as well. She was even nice enough to close the doors partway so they wouldn't be so spied on by the junior slayers. Though she did stop Faith when she stormed in. "Xander and his boyfriend Horatio are here."
Faith made a gaping, squeaky noise. "Boyfriend?" she asked finally. "Boytoy?"
"His boyfriend is Horatio Caine, Childe of Dracula," Rick said as he came down the stairs dressed in his tux. "He's mean and only decent to victims he's helping as a police officer or to his lover. He will bite you if you upset his boyfriend. So will Buffy."
Faith snickered. "Good one."
Dawn nodded. "He is." She pointed. "They're in there. Xander's taking a boyfriend lap nap." Faith walked over to glance in, blushing before backing out. "More than a nap?"
"No but they're adorable."
"Yes, he is, and I am possessive, ladies," Horatio called. "Xander is now mine. You didn't appreciate him while you had him."
Faith pouted. "Damn it. He's really the childe of Dracula?" Rick and Dawn nodded. "Damn. Is he as woosy as Red said?"
"Frou-frou gay boy," Xander called. "You're loud, Faith. Let me sleep please. We've been traveling and I flew back last night."
"Fine." She closed the doors the rest of the way, shaking her head. "So, is it just that line?"
"Spike said his kind are indiscriminate," Dawn told her. "If it's got a hole, he's there. Horatio just has taste." She strolled off. "Rick, go hide since I can hear the excited babble. Faith, you should be dressed by now. The ceremony's in an hour." Faith sighed but walked off to get dressed up. Rick went to check on the final details and to make sure the room they were holding the ceremony in looked right. She went back to helping Buffy. "Faith's finally here," she announced. Everyone sighed. "She's getting pretty in her room. No twins as of yet."
"Thankfully. They'd try to climb into the cake," Buffy complained.
"You have no idea, B," Faith called. "Their daddy's demonsitting again."
"Thank you," she called back. She looked at her hair. "Are you sure, Dawn?" She settled the tiara into her hair, earning a smile when the curls highlighted the sparkling crystals and the flowing train. "Are we sure I can wear white?"
"I found out it's fine, Buffy. It's a symbol of joy and happiness, plus wealth. Puritans made it into a sign of purity. Not that all of them were but they made it seem that way. If you want I can whip up a potion to remake you into a virgin for tonight."
She blushed. "Do you think Rick would like it?"
"Most guys do," she offered. "Or so they say."
Dawn shook her head. "Let me do some delicate asking." She headed down to find Rick. "Your future wife wants to know if you want her to take Willow up on her offer to regrow some delicate little tissues for certain wedding ceremonies." He looked confused. "You know, showing the sheet after you break her in, that stuff?"
Rick coughed, blushing a bit, shaking his head. "That's all right. Not a fantasy of mine, Dawn."
"Thank you for agreeing with me. She was an airhead before she got laid," she muttered, heading back upstairs. "No, Buffy, he wants you to have smutty thoughts for him tonight, not be shy, blushing, and twittering."
"Okay." She beamed. "See, it'll be okay," she told Willow. "Did we ever find Oz? It'd be great to have the whole group back together again."
"I tried to summon him but something was blocking me," Willow admitted.
Xander leaned in. "Oz is landing in about twenty minutes and I have a car waiting on him to rush him over, ladies. We ran into him in France. We invited him back. I knew you'd want to get mushy, Buffy. Now, any other traumas? By now, you should be doing a last check to make sure the dress is on, the veil is on, the teeth are brushed, the makeup is perfect. You've got another forty minutes. Rick sent me," he said at Dawn's opening mouth. "Since he can't come up and use the pointy stick of encouragement. It was me or Horatio and you might steal my man." He closed the door, going back downstairs, smiling at the twins who had been dropped off. "Hey, kids. Horatio, this is Kris and Christina. Faith's twins." He smiled and squatted down to talk to them. He left them together. Horatio had a way with kids that made them all love him. He went to the slayer's floors. "You have thirty minutes to appear dressed and shoed in the formal room!" he announced. "If you're late, Rick said you can't have lunch with the rest of us! I'd wear something nice since there will be pictures taken and they will be sent to all the old bastard Watchers around the world!" He walked off, going back downstairs. He found Rick watching Horatio read to the twins. "Too bad he can't have any of his own," he said in his ear.
"I heard Duquesne had one."
"Hannah. She's our favorite little black-haired sprout." He winked. "I poked the junior brats too." He went to open the door at the knock, smiling at Oz. "Early flight?"
"Landed early. No baggage so I got out quickly. Thanks for the ride." He stared at him. "Do I need invited?"
"No." He got out of the way. "Buffy's primping. The older guy by the desk is Rick, her man. The redhead is still mine and the twins are Faith's."
"I missed a lot of stuff," Oz said, walking in. He nodded at Rick. "Hey. Oz."
"Rick Stetler. She's told me about you." He shook his hand. "If you need to freshen up we've got about thirty minutes."
"Please." He followed him to a spare room, getting into the shower to clean up. He came out and found clothes waiting on him. He looked at it then snorted. "Giles," he decided, pulling on the dress pants, button-up shirt, and tweed jacket. That and his boots and he was free to go back downstairs. He walked into the room, watching all the girls give him long looks. "I'm Oz." They all pouted, turning back around. He settled in beside Xander, nudging him with his shoulder. "He's good."
"He is," Xander said proudly, smiling at Horatio. Christina smiled at him so he tweaked her ear. "You're a good girl today, Chrissy." She beamed and nodded, leaning against his side. "Sure, you nap if you want. It's boring grown up stuff." The little girl nodded, sucking on her thumb, one curl in her fist. Kris was doing the same thing to Horatio's side, making him smile. Someone took a picture and he looked up. "I want a copy."
Faith nodded. "Fine. Just keep them quiet and out of trouble. Okay?"
"They're fine, Faith," Horatio told her. She smirked and walked off. "They can't be nearly as much of a problem as the Delko triple play."
Xander snickered. "That's one set of babysitting jobs I don't want to ever consider doing again," he admitted.
Oz looked at him. "Bad?"
"There's now fourteen kids in this one guy's family. He worked with Horatio at the crime lab in Miami. Cuban and Russian family so loud. All the time loud. The triple play are the oldest four kids in the middle age range - three home runs and a third base steal, 'snuck in right after mommy had the last one' baby. The sisters agreed to have a break in there. So they're about the twins' age. The four kids get into *everything*. Their grandmother loves them dearly but even their family priest suggested an exorcism a few times."
"One managed to sneak up during her sister's baptism and tipped over the font," Horatio agreed, smirking just a bit. "No one saw her move. Her mother didn't feel her move from next to her."
"I thought she was being telekinetic," Xander said, shaking his head. "I get banished to watch the kids in the kids' area. At the time all nine of them. The triple play managed to somehow sit in a corner and play with modeling clay yet destroy the room." Oz laughed, drawing attention. "We're not sure how. I'm still not sure how and I saw the tape."
"I saw the tape and I'm not sure how either," Horatio admitted. "We're all taking a break after the peace offering and hear this loud crash. Eric's mother, the grandmother, sighs and gets up to go kill her grandchildren, making them all beg for mercy while they fixed the room. Which got destroyed again within the next hour. Somehow."
"No, that one the youngest kids decided to have a throwing things fight," Xander told him. "The triple play ordered them to go throw things at each other instead of them. They were trying to be good."
Horatio hummed. "I'm sure they did try." Music started so they stood up. Rick was walked in by Giles and one of his friends from Miami. The wedding march started. Willow's cats proceeded the procession wearing flowers around their necks. He shook his head at that. Then Willow, then Faith, then Buffy came in, pausing for dramatic effect. She finally made it up to the altar and they all sat down while the Justice of the Peace performed the ceremony. A short one thankfully. The kiss was long and nearly disgusting to him. Rick did look deliriously happy so he couldn't fault Xander's taste in setting them up. Maybe it was the thought of him and Buffy together. The reception lunch went off without a hitch. Both twins were confined to their high chairs. They hated it but it meant they couldn't beg, crawl, walk, or torment the cats. Who were all curled around their mother begging for pieces of her dinner. He did a quick count. She now had fifteen cats. He smiled at Xander, who simply kissed the back of his hand.
Giles slid something into Horatio's hand. "That is his," he said quietly. "I'll let you two escape before the younger girls try to latch on like they have to Oz. We'll talk soon about the missing parts of the Chronicles." Horatio smiled and nodded. He tucked the envelope into his pocket. "If you do end up turning him, I'd like some warning. No matter how many times I've joked about that issue I would have to move up on the point with the happy couple."
Xander had heard and winked. "'Scuse me, I need to visit the little boy's room," he said quietly enough, making his excuses. He ducked out that way, going to the front door to wait. Horatio came out, sliding on his sunglasses as he walked. Xander slid into his, using his thumb to push the center bar up his nose. "Ireland or home?"
"Home," he decided, taking his hand to walk out with him. Their car was waiting and it was an easy getaway. He looked at the envelope, handing it to Xander. "From Giles."
Xander opened it, smiling at the nice card. And the check inside. He held it up. "My traveling expenses." He grinned. "So can we stay at the pretty native taverns in Poland?"
"If we can find one near where we want to go," he promised, smiling at his excited mate. "We'll have to lay-over in London so you can get that cashed there."
"Their bank's here. I can cash it today." He leaned forward, tapping on the window for the driver. "Hit a National Bank please?" The driver nodded, pulling in at the next one. Xander headed inside, coming back out ten minutes later. He slid back in. "There, now I can get a milkshake at the airport."
Horatio pulled him over to kiss. "I would have spoiled you."
"You already spoiled me with new clothes for today. Though I'm surprised you didn't put me in leather so you could work up a good possessive growl."
"Why tempt them more?" he said, smirking at the playful man. "Think the twins are fighting?"
"Yup. Faith has no idea how to calm them down. I heard Rick's trying really hard to train them but it's about a lost cause this year." Horatio shook his head. "Maybe he will. Or hey, Buffy could have kids some year."
"Don't wish that on the world. With her luck they'd be slayers too."
"Possibly but he is stubborn enough that they'd live to be ancient ones."
Horatio nodded. "He always was stubborn," he agreed. He gave Xander a kiss. "No more talking about that. Why do you want to go to the castle?" Xander shrugged. "You just wanted to see it?"
"Alana said the gardens were beautiful at night. Plus the castle was supposed to be mystical in spots." Horatio nodded, smiling at him. "I'd like to see nice magical things now and then."
"We can definitely go there for that reason." He kissed him again, smiling when they took the turnoff to the airport. "Nearly there. Do I have your passport?" Xander nodded, pointing at his pocket. "Good. I didn't want to think I had forgotten it." They got out and headed to the ticket counter, going to check in and find their flight. They had planned this already. There was no way Xander was going to stay in Cleveland for more than a few hours. He had talked with Dawn, he had eaten cake, his priorities had been completed with the 'I do' and the long, disgusting kiss.
Horatio walked Xander around his former village. A few farms were still here but nothing had really been rebuilt. He pointed at a spot. "Our Church was there," he said quietly. "That's where Sire found me grieving after my family had died of a plague." Xander gave his hand a squeeze. "My family had protected his for decades and he knew how protective I was. For some reason he decided he needed a permanent bodyguard."
"Why weren't you in the book?"
"The book was a fictionalized account of what happened. Besides, I threatened to eat the author if he put me in there. Even though I was in Romania for most of it." He smiled at him. "Are you going to forgive him some year for making you eat bugs?"
"Maybe." Horatio squeezed his hand, walking him on. They found where his family home had been. Xander leaned against his arm, listening to him talk about his family. Finally Horatio ran out of words, letting Xander comfort him. He gave him a kiss on the forehead and walked him off, taking him back to their car. "Are you sure?" he asked once they were in the car.
"I'm sure. I come every few years to grieve but this year it's not as bad." He smiled at him. "I know where we can stop for lunch on the way to the castle." He started the engine and headed off down the dusty back road. He didn't care that the locals came out of their houses and made the sign of the cross after him. Maybe he could wait longer before he came back next time. They got to the castle just after dark, him nodding at the butler to take the car while he walked Xander inside. Xander was looking around like a child doing his first visit to Disney. Horatio led him around, showing things off, letting him see the gardens in the moonlight. Letting him see the ancient ballroom where he had met his first love. He spun Xander around, dancing with him. It somehow seemed right to dance with him in here. He was humming an ancient waltz, making Xander lean into his chest and follow along. It was a perfectly romantic moment. That's why he pulled something out of his pocket and slid it onto his first finger. "Until it's legal all I can do is promise myself to you, Xander. When it's legal you'll get your wedding."
Xander looked up at him, smiling a bit. "I'm yours. That's all I need."
"Are you sure?"
Xander nodded. "I'm sure. I have been since Cleveland."
Horatio smiled, walking his boy off to their suite. Xander walked in and turned down the bed so the covers wouldn't get into their way. Then he slowly stripped off, letting his sire see him. The real him. All of him. He stood there, letting him look. Horatio came over, kissing him. "Strip me too, Xander. Show me you're ready." Xander slowly got him out of his shirt and pants, letting them drop into the same chair his were in. He slowly nibbled on his throat, making Horatio hiss. "No, it's my turn to prepare you." He put him onto the bed, finding what he would need so he wouldn't have to get up later. It was placed nearby and he settled in next to his mate to touch him. One hand ghosted over his body, slowly, gently stroking him more firmly each stroke. Xander shivered a few times but it was good. He was getting harder. Horatio leaned down to kiss him, continuing to pet him. Xander was very much a tactile person. On and on, each stroke getting a bit more firm until Xander whimpered at his touch. Then he moved down to taste what he had touched. Each inch was sucked into his mouth. Not enough to leave a hickey but enough to hold it there, run his tongue over it, then release it.
Xander arched up when he got to his stomach. "Horatio, please," he said.
"Are you going to beg?"
"You make me beg."
"You're stronger than I am."
Horatio kissed him again. "You're very strong, Xander, and I would love to hear you beg me for more pleasure. That is one thing you never have to worry about begging for." He went back to it, driving his mate insane. Xander whimpered and tried to pull him away from the gentle caress to his cock but it wasn't working. Horatio knew what he was doing. Xander slightly tensed when the finger entered him but they had done this a few times during blow jobs. He relaxed again once Horatio found his prostate, wiggling his finger over it a few times. Xander made whining noises in his throat. "Beg me for what you want, Xander," he ordered quietly. He got back to it, listening to his noises get louder and prettier, more desperate. Finally he couldn't take it anymore. He slid in two fingers and Xander yelped, arching up into his mouth. "Beg me, Xander. Tell me what you want."
"You. Please you," he begged, whimpering when the fingers were taken back. "Horatio, no!" he said, grabbing at him. "Don't leave."
"I'm not leaving. I'm grabbing more lubricant for myself." He let Xander watch him slick himself up. "Do you want it like this your first time? Or maybe like we would in our wolf forms?" he teased, flipping Xander over when he swallowed. It gave him a whole new area to play in. A whole new way to relax his boy. Xander did let himself relax. He even lowered his head in a sign of submission but Horatio nipped him on the neck. "It doesn't make you my beta, it makes you my mate, Xander," he said in his ear. He slowly positioned himself, leaving it there for now while he went back to stroking over his back. Xander whimpered and pushed back. He saw fur start to sprout. "No, stay human." Xander nodded, controlling his change. He slid in a few centimeters, going slowly until the head popped in then he paused and waited. Xander had gone rigid around him. "Shh, it's just me." He slid in deeper, slowly moving his way inside the tight heat. He finally made it all the way in, kissing the back of his mate's neck. "Mine, Xander. Vow it."
"Yours," he whispered.
"Good boy." He pulled back and then sank back in again, staying slow. Xander tightened around him so he sped up a bit. It was good. It felt great. Xander was making pretty noises. He pulled back almost all the way and then slammed in once. Xander howled, making him smirk. "You do that to me all the time," he teased. Xander panted, pushing back against his hips. "You'll have to ask." He did it again. "Tell me what you want, Xander."
"Claimed," he hissed. Horatio nipped him but it wasn't enough. Xander pulled off and pushed Horatio onto his back, taking what he wanted. "I knew it was going to be tough not to let go."
"You can have it all you want, Xander." He held his hips steady while he rode him, keeping him from toppling over on top of him. Xander was nearly desperate, you could see it in his face. "Are you sure? If I claim you, it will never be enough to make me go away, Xander. I will have you in every form of ours. Nothing of yours will be off-limits to me." Xander leaned down to kiss him, making him stop for now. He pulled back, stopping him. "Are you sure?"
"Try and stop me."
Horatio flipped them back over, putting Xander back underneath him. "You asked for it." He slid back in, making him howl and arch back, his nails clawing up the bed. He thrust in harder and faster, letting everything go now. Xander could take it. He wouldn't break. He felt him start to shift again, going with him. They were both wolves and he bit him on the throat, taking his mate, making him howl his begging noises until everyone in the castle knew what they were doing. A wolf's cry would carry for miles if the conditions were right. People in the next town over were hearing his mate begging for him. It made Horatio feel like a God. He slammed in harder, pinning Xander with his body weight. Xander shifted and turned into a rat. Horatio shifted with him, keeping him there. They fogged up and he mixed his essence with Xander's. Instead of two clouds there was one. It was the most intimate way to connect with him. He had taught him that during their first game of fog tag. That way Xander wouldn't start something he didn't want. Xander shifted back but he stayed fog for a few seconds longer to stroke over and through him. Xander cried out, clutching the headboard, nearly breaking it. Horatio pulled back and reformed back into human form, slamming in again, going back to riding his mate until he fully let it go. Then he sank his fangs into his neck, marking him, scenting him, making him bleed for him. Xander let out a scream of pleasure at that, going limp beneath him. Horatio came inside him, panting, dripping sweat onto him to mark his scent onto his childe's body. "Mine," he repeated. "Vow it, Xander."
"Yours. All yours," he said tiredly, turning his head to look at him. "Rest?"
"We'll rest then we'll take a warm bath to ease your ache," he soothed, laying down on his back, stroking over his back. Xander smiled and shifted to wolf form, making him smile. "Greedy for petting too?" He shifted, settling in to bathe him with his tongue. All his fur needed it, especially his tail, and his tongue was just the right instrument to make him feel better this time.
Alana looked up from her reading up the hall, shaking her head. "I thought Vlad was noisy. We'll have complaints from the pitiful vampires who live in the next town soon."